Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!!

Halloween always brings back lots of fun childhood memories which for me mostly revolve around trick or treating! I think kids look forward to Halloween as much as they do Christmas and their birthdays! My siblings, friends and I would of course get all dressed up in a Halloween costume, grab a pillow case or a plastic pumpkin box to collect candy in and off we'd go! The air was so clean and crisp on those October evenings, and I never remember it being cold. We would walk from house to house and would giggle when we were given treats that we really liked. I remember coming home after trick or treating and smelling the sweet scent of my candy bag and dumping it out to sort it into piles: chocolate in one pile, suckers, hard candy, chewy candy and gum in another and then there was the pile of “other” stuff- raisins, or small coins that a few unusual neighbors gave out. My sister always wanted to be the last one in the house with candy so she would somehow manage to save hers, barely eating any of it.  I don't know how she did it, but she would have candy long after ours was gone and of course I envied that!  But even as I got older I enjoyed trick or treating--I remember taking my youngest brother when he was about 5 years old (I'm 14 years older than he is). Determined to get as much candy as possible, and despite his being too tired to go much farther, I wouldn't take him home until I was sure he had plenty of loot to share!  What a good sister I was!!

Once married I would hand out candy, buying only what I'd like so I could still enjoy it! When we had our first house, I would sit on the porch with our first Golden, Tod, and hand out candy. He would be dressed in a tie or something simple I'd found for him.  Since we live in the country, we have no trick-or-treaters, but lots of memories and some candy, just for old times sake!  I hope your Halloween is a fun and memorable one!

**In the picture is Charlie, the evil one, Hamlet in the pink t-shirt, and our boy Sam with Sheba's nose on the bottom right.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Positive Thinking Through Hamlet

To start, THANK YOU for the kind thoughts on my post yesterday!  They really did help!  However, for some reason I have to admit to still feeling a bit of discouragement and to being a little self conscious over this latest bout of poison ivy.  I did switch my day off to today and have to work tomorrow, so hopefully it will be better. 
I do consider myself a positive thinking person, and have tried to not complain.  I decided this morning to help me through this, I needed a positive example of 'someone' who doesn't complain--I didn't have to look far, I found it in Hamlet. 

Those of you who have been following my blog for sometime know Hamlet's story.  Those of you who don't, I will give you a shortened version of how he came to live with us.  He was found nearly a year ago in the garage of a house that had been foreclosed on.  Estimated to be about 13 years old, Hamlet was so ill the first time I saw him, he couldn't even stand up.  Not even my determination to not bring another dog into our home could keep me from wanting to help him.  Hamlet came to us as a foster dog, and became a permanent member of our household shortly after that.  He had surgery this past spring to remove a large tumor on his shoulder.  Sadly it has returned and surgery is not an option because of the amount of tissue that was removed the first time.  Chinese herbs were ineffective, and the tumor continues to grow. I don't like to take pictures of Hamlet that show the tumor, but in this first picture, you can see it on the right.  Most of the time Hamlet sports a tee-shirt to keep the tumor clean and from getting scratched and becoming sore.  He now walks with a slight limp and I can tell it bothers him when he walks. 

Through all of this, Hamlet remains in good spirits and never seems bothered by any of this.  When he first came to us, he didn't seem to have much zest or enthusiasm about life.  That's all changed.  He 'prances' around when we come home, nudges us for attention, a bite of whatever we're eating, and to hurry up so he can go for a walk.  He is my constant companion.  We've never heard him bark, but this quiet, gentle soul has a tail that is always quietly wagging, speaking volumes.  I really think that I should follow his example which is to "bark less and wag more."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Be Glad You're NOT Me!

What a week I'm already having!  Yesterday first thing in the morning, our Internet connection wasn't working.  Okay I thought, I'll be fine without an Internet and blogging fix to start off the day.  So, I went to the fridge for my other fix, which is a Diet Coke, and we were out--How could I let that happen?!  Added to that, for some reason the local channels weren't coming in via the satellite, so there would be no news-fix for me either.  I tried to not let these bumps in my morning routine get to me because it would just give me more time to spend with the dogs and getting ready for work.  As I kept doing things around the house, I noticed that the time seemed to be dragging.  I had time to do things like take a few pictures and even a load of laundry.  I later realized that there was a reason for that, my watch was practically stopped, and I was really running behind! I managed to get to work on time, but not before 2 near collisions and breaking what I know were several traffic laws.  

Once at the office I settled into the schedule.  I had noticed earlier in the morning that my face was starting to itch, just a little.  I thought it was perhaps because of a new box of masks that I had--I was wrong.  A look in the mirror confirmed that I had the beginning of poison ivy, AGAIN--How could this happen?  I've been so careful since my run in with it this past summer and I really thought I knew what it looked like.  Apparently not.  Once safely home last evening, with my restored internet connection, I looked up "fall Poison Ivy."  Did you know that Poison Ivy leaves turn a vivid red color in the fall?  I didn't--It's actually one of the first plants to change, and it just happens to also be one of the pretty red leaves I collected on Sunday and had dried in between sheets of wax-paper!  I know what you're thinking, believe me, I'm thinking it too--But how can this touch of 'beauty' in the fall landscape cause all this misery?   

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Deer Hunters

The day started out pleasant enough with walking the dogs as the sun was coming up.  Carl walked the dogs around the front of our property, and I took the more scenic route in back.  I had our boy Sam, and Toby on a leash and Hamlet tagging along behind us.  Sheba, Rudi and CarrieAnne are always excited about our walking in this direction and ran ahead and out of site into the open field at the top of the hill.  In the next moment, chaos erupted.  I was about halfway up the hill when I heard voices and Sheba, and CarrieAnne came running back towards me, tails tucked underneath, both were looking back over their shoulders.  Knowing something was wrong, I hurried up the hill and saw 2 bow hunters--One was picking up an arrow.  I'm not sure what came flying out of my mouth next, but I can assure you it wasn't pleasant!  They told me they were aiming at the deer, and not the dogs who had scared them off--I didn't and still don't believe them.  It was a pretty heated 'discussion' in which I told them they were on private property and to close to our house.  One informed me that hunting on private land is only illegal in Virginia if the property is posted with no trespassing or no hunting signs. I have to admit that I've never heard that.  I then told them that I was going to check with the owner of the property who had given me permission to walk the dogs there.  Not even the echo of my very raised voice could convince these two that they were doing something wrong or make them apologize.  

With wobbly knees, my heart in my throat, and my blood boiling, I walked back towards the house.  All three dogs had returned--I have to admit I'd forgotten about Rudi--Sheba remains unusually subdued and quiet.  I'm not sure how serious these two hunters took an old lady in gray flannel pajamas with Golden Retrievers in tow, but I have a feeling the word might be out about the crazy lady on Mountain Road!   

**As a final note, I will add that I am not against hunting, just against those do it irresponsibly--Like the two this morning. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Daily Commute

 According to a United States Census Bureau survey, Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work. For those of you who commute, wouldn’t it be nice if your office or workplace was just a few steps away from home? Think about it...No traffic to deal with and no need to buy gas for your car. It isn't even necessary to wake up early because you don't have to allow time for commuting--Whatta life, I would love that!! But given what I do, and because I really love the office where I work and where I live, I have chosen to be a commuter.

Come along with me, and I'll show you what my daily commute looks like. 

I try to leave the house around 7:15 in the morning.  It all starts out nice enough. 
But when I get to the main roads (after about 20 minutes), it all changes--It's back to "real life!"  This morning it was foggy and overcast, making it a bit more hectic.   
Off one highway, and onto another...It's bumper to bumper, stop and start for at least half the drive.   
Finally after about an hour, I get to the office.  At our office, the doctor allows us to be late 14 (yes fourteen!) times during the year without an excuse.  If we're late more than that, he will deduct a day of vacation from the next year.  There are days when it can be a sprint to get into the office on time.  I have a co-worker who is typically running in the door at the last minute.  If we're in the parking lot together, because she's younger and faster, she'll run up the stairs and clock us in!  If she's not there, and I've gotten there before her, I watch for her to pull in, and clock her in.  We have had some lates counted against us, but we're doing okay because we're watching out for each other--She's a good co-worker that way! 
This is the view out the window of the operatory I work from. 
At the end of the day, usually about 5:30, it starts all  over again.  At least the sun is out now. 
On my drive to and from work, there are some lovely homes to look at, like this one. Of course I have my phone with me, so I'll chat with friends on the drive home. 
The closer I get to home, the scenery starts to change...
At the bottom of our drive way, I pick up the mail and look up towards the house.  Usually the dogs start to bark because they hear me.  I've left everything behind and I feel like I'm entering a totally different world. 
It's so good to finally be home...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Three Years Gone to the Dogs!

Today is October 17th. Three years ago to the day we moved into our house here in the country.  We never thought of naming our property.  But the neighboring farmer told me that it was bad luck not to.  Knowing that the wife of the previous owner had died here, we took that advice.  Lacking creativity, we named our new home "Golden Pines" because of the pine trees, and of course the Goldens.  

But it's been three years. Where has the time gone? So much has happened and there have been so many changes, mostly with our dogs, me on the other hand, I won't admit to having changed or aged!   

We moved into our new home with our dogs, Wendy, Kasey, Josh, Rudi, CarrieAnne, Sheba, Charlie, Logan, and Cubby, and of course CC, the cat.  Just as a caveat I'll add that I continue to marvel that we managed to sell our house without the new owners knowing that we had any dogs at all--It was quite a feat that I do not want to go through again anytime soon!  But if you'd like to know how to get rid of dog-odors, just ask, I am a 'self-proclaimed' expert! 

During the three years since we moved here, we have fostered and placed Peyton, Daisy, Tucker and Patch.  As you know, we are currently fostering The Chub brothers Toby and Bubba. Cowboy, Maguire, Tanner and Hamlet were also dogs that we fostered and adopted, making them permanent members of our household. Young Sam was given to us by a family at church. Did you keep up with all that?  

Not including "Old Sam" from last week, in the 3 years we have sadly had to say good-bye to: 

Logan who left us in March of 2008.  His claim to fame is that he was the least photogenic of any dog I've ever had!  Try as I did I could never get a good picture of him.
Kasey left us in October 2008.  She's the only "girl" we've lost
 Cubby left us in September 2009.  He was only supposed to live a few months and lived 2 years 
 Cowboy left us in March 2010--By far, the goofiest dog I've ever had!  
and Maguire left us in May 2010 such a tenderhearted soul!
In thinking about our 3 years here at Golden Pines it reminds me of the saying "Home is where the heart is." For me its truly become the place where I have around me so much life and so many things that represent me as an individual because they hold memories of my own history--This includes our dogs past and present who will always be such a big part of it.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Feeling of Fall

I think that a blue sky in October looks different than a blue sky in July, don't you? I also think that even though the first day of fall was on September 22nd, this year to me it didn't really seem like it until a couple of days ago, when October finally arrived bringing the fall weather. I think others are feeling it too--I'm seeing corn stalks and scarecrows and plenty of apple cider, pumpkins, crafts and fall decor in all the stores. I was thinking last night on my drive home from work about the smells of fall, and how much I enjoy them.

I love the smell of rain and wet leaves.
Another is the smell of burning wood. I think you can tell when it’s the first fireplace or stove fire because to me it has a wet smoky odor.  The smell is even in the air this morning.  Pretty soon it’ll be time for the smells of winter. But I'm not thinking of that — Today the dogs and I (Carl is working) are just going to enjoy the day.  I've been plagued with internet or computer problems here at home, I don't know which, but I keep losing my internet connection.  I hope I'll be able to catch up with my blog visits today--Paws crossed! 

Do you have any favorite smells of fall?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the Darkness

Our day typically starts around 5 o'clock.  The routine is that I let the dogs out, and leave the back door open.  Because she's starved to death, I feed CC, the cat, a bite of food.  I sit down at the computer and check e-mails.  Usually by this time CarrieAnne is out in the yard barking at something only she can see.  This morning was no exception and she had company when Josh, Charlie and Sam joined her.  If our neighbors can hear this, they must hate us.  But at this point I go back into the kitchen and CC's bowl is on the floor because Rudi has eaten her food. Not unexpected, it's the routine.  CC is again sitting on the counter looking at me like she's had nothing to eat.  I always feed her a little more.  Then I go to the backdoor, and help Tanner up the steps...It's all mundane and routine.

This morning from the porch I can see Carrie sitting by the barn yipping into the air.  I really liked the way the barn looked in the light so I decided to take a picture.  

This is the picture that I liked without the flash.

Below is the first picture I took and didn't like because the flash picked up our satellite dish.  But I didn't realize it until I saw the picture on my computer, that the flash also picked up something else.  Can you see the glow of the eyes on the bottom right of the picture by the door of the barn?  Since CC was inside waiting for seconds I wonder just what it was.  I guess it was what the barking was about.  Any thoughts?   A nighttime ninja perhaps?  Probably just a cat, that would be welcome to stay if it wanted too.   

The light of the day has brought with it rain and cold and the quiet song of a bird I wish I could identify.  The day feels sad as I remember that today would have been my Mom's 73rd birthday.  If she were still living, I would have called her first thing, waking her up to wish her a happy birthday--However she would have said that she "was already awake" because she knew I'd call--How did she always know? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Wooly Worm Wednesday

Do you have wooly worms where you live? In Virginia we do. 

I can't look at or even say the word "wooly worm" without smiling. You have to admit that even if you dislike bugs and insects in general, it's hard to not like them. Wooly worms don't fly around and they don't make a racket at night. They don't bite you, scare you, and they don't get tangled in your hair and cause you to scream or jump. They're fuzzy, unassuming, and non-threatening. I think of them as the Zen of caterpillars. If you mess with them, they curl up and play dead. I don't like being crawled on by anything buggy, but have to admit that I'm okay with letting a wooly worm meander across my hand.

Wooly worms are famous for foretelling the length and severity of the winter season. If they're light-colored, the old folks say, it's supposed to be an easy winter. The darker they are (or the broader the dark section of wooly fuzz) the harsher the winter will be. The other day I saw a black one, and then last week while Carl was painting we saw this one that we "think" was a wooly-worm or its cousin.  But I guess like the two legged weather men, they can't make up their mind either.

 Right now in Virginia, there are a few really warm days left.  When you are driving down the road on those days, you'll see the fuzzy little guys crawling across the pavement in front of you. This time of year wooly worms are always in a big hurry, searching for a warm place to hibernate for the winter. They race across the road at breakneck wooly-worm speed. I have to admit that I sometimes swerve to avoid them. I mean, who wants to run over what I consider the teddy bear of caterpillars? But no matter how fast they go, sadly they're never fast enough and I end up running over my share of them. I think it's kind of sad that these poor, peaceful little creatures, no matter how hard they may try, are no match for my speeding down the road--When you come to think of it, life is kind of that way. You can't outrun it, can't get out of the way of it, and inevitably there are times that no matter how hard you try, you end up run over and flattened by it...On that note, I'll end by saying that I hope you're having a good week, I've been "flattened" a couple of times, but I'm getting across the proverbial road and doing okay...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Final Chapter--Doris and Sam

Sully Plantation, built in 1794 was the home of Richard Bland Lee, Northern Virginia's first congressman, and was the place I chose to meet Doris and Patti this morning. I have to start by telling you that Doris's body is 87, and is showing the effects of her recent hip replacement and small heart attack--However her mind is perfect and sharp as a tack. Doris told me that she reads a book a week and does a crossword puzzle everyday. Wow...

I've heard people say that dogs don't remember people and places. I've never believed that, and today reminded me of why I don't. Sam recognized Doris right away and responded to her. While she spoke, he had his head up and his eyes fixed on her, he did the same thing with Doris's daughter Patti. When I saw Sam's face, there was a look that seemed to say "is it really you, are you really here?" There were some very touching moments between the two that I wish I could have caught with the camera, but some moments happen so quickly that you just can't. As Doris sat, she retold stories of her life with Sam; the holidays, the adventures, the walks and their life together. The love and devotion she has for Sam is so evident when she speaks.

We spent about 40 minutes together and it was time for us to leave.  Doris cried some more, expressed her love for Sam, and kissed him good-bye.  I drove him to the vet and sat with this old soul as he quietly left this life for the next...A sad moment.  Afterwards when I kissed Sam good-bye and my head was next to his, the thought came into my mind that I was only Sam's caretaker for this last part of his life's journey; at the Rainbow Bridge he'll wait for Doris.
Even though we hardly knew Sam we have no regrets whatsoever in his coming to stay with us. It was a privilege to have him as part of our household.

We have a candle lit for Sam to help him find his way...God-Speed sweet-Sam. We will never forget you.
~Doris and her daughter Patti~
Thank-you all for your friendship and kind and caring thoughts today!  When I returned home, your words provided me with so much comfort.  I know it was those thoughts and prayers that gave me the strength to get through a difficult day and have the peace that I had hoped for. 

I look forward to catching up with you and your blogs on Sunday. 

My Hopes for Saturday

I have just reread all your comments from the last
couple of days.  I cannot begin to tell you all how touched and humbled I am to once again be the recipient of such kind thoughts, prayers and support.  It means so much and helps more than you know!!  I'm starting out the day emotionally drained, but as ready as I can be for the events which lay ahead of us.  My biggest hope is that the timeline comes together as I've planned it.  

I spoke to Patti, (Doris's daughter) and she said that Doris couldn't stop crying when she was told she'd be seeing her beloved Sam today.  Patti had not yet told her that this would be the last time she'd see him, and I don't think she is going to.  We are planning the visit for 11 o'clock this morning.  I am to be at the vets office by no later than 12:30 because they close at 1 PM.  I know it doesn't give them much time together, (only about an hour) but I'm hoping that it will be enough. 

Sam continues to rally.  He managed to bark at the cat, which I thought was a good sign.  However he refuses food of any  kind--I've tried to give him everything and anything, including cat food, (the canned kind, not the actual cat) but he wants nothing to do with it.  He will drink a little bit of water, which I'm glad about.  My hope for Sam is that he has enough strength for the visit and Doris won't notice how worn out he is.  We've tried to leave him alone and let him get his rest in preperation for the day. 

I will try to post later and let you know how it goes.  Thank-you again for your prayers, kindness and your friendship--It is truly making a difference.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update on Old Sam

To start off my day, I see that blogger has once again seen fit to change the dashboard...Or is mine the only one that has changed?  I can no longer see all the new posts from the blogs I stalk--Only a few of them.  I'm wondering how I can go back and read blogs that posted yesterday that I didn't get the chance to look at last evening--Is there a way to get back to the "old dashboard" that showed updates on blogs for several days and NOT just hours?  I really hate change, especially at times like this.  
Sam remains unchanged, there is still a lot of blood mixed in with his urine and he has become almost totally incontinent.  (I've put a "male wrap" on him to help keep him clean).  But this morning he was still laying in the same place as he was last night when I went to bed.  I did get up and check on him several times, and he was very quiet and sleeping.  Quite a change from the night before.

The other dogs have all been very sweet around him.  I've noticed our boy Sam, Charlie and a few others laying by him.  And when I've knelt down to talk to him (and change him) I've noticed more than once several of them standing behind me looking on...They know...

Yesterday I decided that I should e-mail Patti, Doris's daughter, and let her know about Sam and tell her that if she wanted her Mother to be able to see Sam, that it needed to happen in the next day or so.  Patti responded back to me that her Mom had spent the day at her house and had wanted her to call me.  Apparently Doris, who is still very much missing Sam has been worried about him and felt that he may not be doing well--How did she know?  Actually, I know how she does...But Patti felt that there was something to that and didn't make the call.  I assured Patti that if they'd called I would never have told Doris how Sam was without telling her first--I'd never want to upset Doris.  Patti said she was going to have to think about it--I hope she doesn't think about it too long.  I've decided that with Sam's not eating and drinking very little water, and having trouble standing on his own, I cannot and won't let him continue, there is now no quality of life for him, and I think he feels miserable.  I made an appointment with the vet for Saturday morning--I will change that if Patti decides that she would like Doris to see him.  

UPDATE:  I just heard from Patti, she wants me to bring Sam to see Doris on Saturday...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Corner Turned for Old Sam

We've turned yet another corner with Doris's boy, known to us as Old Sam. He had a really restless night. I was up every hour or so with him because he was stumbling around and whining. I kept trying to help him find a place that he would find comfortable but I couldn't. Finally at about 4 o'clock this morning I sat on the floor with him, with his head in my lap, petting him and he finally went to sleep. I have to say, it was a sweet and tender moment with him. It was so quiet and peaceful in the house with the only light coming from small nighttime lamp on the mantel and the only sound was the tinkling coming from the wind chime on the front porch. I stayed there with him for a long time (then my behind started falling asleep) and I went to bed. The other dogs let me sleep until 6:30 and Sam was still fast asleep when I checked on him.

This morning when I let him out, I could see that there was a lot of dark red blood in his urine. He has also refused breakfast and water. I don't know what all of this means but I do know that it means that I can't let him continue to much more, especially if he's in pain.

The old wound in my heart has once again been opened and the lump in my throat has returned because I know that Sam's time is close. I know some of you may think that because I've traveled this road several times, and because I've only had Sam a couple of months that this decision may be an easy one. I can tell you that it's not. I take my responsibility as caretaker of these precious old dogs very seriously, and the choice to let them go, never, ever comes easily or quickly for me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The End of the Happiness Makeover!

Today was the last day of my "Happiness Makeover." We woke up to cold temps in the 40's and drizzly rain. Why is it that the dogs never seem to notice?

I really didn't have any plans but did have errands to run. But at one of my stops I ran into a friend of mine and her children that are not old enough to go to school. They were going to be going to lunch and asked me if I wanted to go with them. I had several things to do, and really didn't have the time. However one of the girls said to me, "Kim you have to come, you make everything gooder and funner!" I guess to some that comment doesn't make much sense, but when a 5 year old says it, it does and so I went to lunch with them. On my way home I realized that an unplanned lunch with a friend and her 2 kids was a "gooder and funner" way to end my Happiness Makeover!

I hope your week is gooder and funner too!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Anaplasmosis & The Reality of Healthy Dogs

I know that we are lucky (and very blessed) that our dogs enjoy good general health. Vet visits are not that all that frequent, although experience has taught us so much! But I contribute most of this to the healthy diet that we feed our crew. However every once in awhile we're dealt a card or two that give me a reality check and I'm reminded that the dogs and I are not invincible. That's what has happened yesterday, I was reminded of how frail life and especially health can be.

The vet visit for CarrieAnne and Charlie was pretty uneventful. But our vet, Dr. DeSantis did mention that she'd like to be seeing less of Charlie...We'll both work on that. (The picture is Hamlet & Charlie)

For CarrieAnne (pictured on the right) there was a diagnosis of anaplasmosis which is a tick-borne disease. I've noticed the last several weeks that she hasn't really seemed like herself, but I have contributed it to her age (8 years old). While it could very well be age related, it could possibly be symptoms of anaplasmosis. The good news is, is that it's very treatable with antibiotics, and she should be fine. My vet and I again discussed the use of "Frontline" for the ticks. Carrie is one of the dogs that I apply it to, but I use it very sparingly.

Hamlet, (pictured above with Charlie) you may recall was taken to the holistic vet about a month ago. The tumor on his shoulder is inoperable because of the extensive surgery he had on it in the spring. The hope in starting the Chinese herbs was that it would reduce or slow its growth. Sadly, it hasn't worked and the lump that a month ago that was the size of one of my hands, is now about doubled. I'm continuing the herbs and continuing to have hope.

Doris's boy Sam (the 15 year old & pictured on the left) has also turned a bit of a corner. His health has deteriorated a little, and we have increased his medications in hopes of keeping him comfortable and maintaining a good quality of life for him. I hope and pray that Sam hangs on long enough to see Doris again and she's able to say the good-bye to him and have the closure that she is so desperate for.

On the flip-side, the other dogs are doing well. They are enjoying the chance to be out running in the fields and enjoying the fall.
Me, the Happiness Makeover continued yesterday when I enjoyed lunch with a former coworker in Millwood at the foot of this old grist mill. It was nice to sit outside in the breeze and catch up. I hope that whatever makes you happy, that you have the chance to do it and have a wonderful fall weekend!