Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

When the clock strikes twelve on December 31st, people all over the world cheer and wish each other a very Happy New Year. For some, this event is no more than a change of a calendar. What does it mean to you? For me the New Year is all of those good wishes and symbolizes the beginning and hope of a better tomorrow.

On a chilly New Years evening in Virginia, I will end this very short post with an Irish quote..."In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, never in want."

From all of us at "Golden Pines," all the very best for a Happy, Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finally--A Christmas Card Picture!

For the last 10 years, we've taken a picture of our dogs for our Christmas card. This year proved to be a bit of a challenge. I think because I had in my mind the picture I wanted, and despite all the effort, it just wasn't coming together like I envisioned. I lost track of how many rolls (yes rolls) of film I've taken the last several weeks trying to get the "perfect" picture. Last Saturday during our big snow fall, with a little bit of film left, I took my 35 mm camera out into the yard and I snapped a few pictures of the dogs enjoying the snow. As I was walking back to the house, the dogs were in a line in front of me and a couple of them had laid down in the snow...I snapped this picture...When I saw this picture, I realized that even though it wasn't "perfect," I loved it, and I knew I had the one I wanted to use for our Christmas card. I also remembered a lesson I'd learned when I started taking "dog pictures" 10 years ago; which is that if you want a good picture, just let the subjects be themselves and the camera can and usually does capture that.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Little Glove Story

I hate it when I lose things, it really drives me crazy! Even though I've gotten really good at misplacing things, it doesn't mean I like it any more, it just means I've found something I've got a real talent for. Our collection of gloves is a prime example of things that have gotten lost. This really became apparent last week when we needed warm gloves to shovel and our basket that they're kept in had mostly mismatched ones, and ones that have been used as chew toys by the dogs. I did however manage to put together a warm pair. After feeding the birds and taking some pictures I noticed Rudi was jumping and playing in the snow, and I thought to myself how fun it was to watch her enjoying herself and I even took a few pictures of her. When we were going back inside I realized what she was having such a good time with--my mittens, or at least one of them...Despite a pretty good search I couldn't find the other one. ~Rats!!~ Determined to not let this mitten fall into the black-hole with all the others, each time we've gone out in the yard I've looked and I've made Carl look too--I even told Rudi to go and find the mitten, but she had better things to do like roll in or eat something. Well, today with the warm temps and the snow quickly melting, we found it!! I love it when I find something I've lost, but because I excel at misplacing things, I know it's just going to keep happening--But I wonder if I can keep blaming the dogs when I do?

Friday, December 25, 2009

On Christmas Morning, I wish...

On Christmas Morning,
I wish...

For every dog searching trash cans for breakfast,
a full bowl with his name printed in bright letters.

For every dog who slept fitfully last night, chained in a frozen yard, a soft, warm bed with a person snoring gently nearby.

For every shelter dog, spending Christmas morning in a soiled run, a forever home, filled with sounds and smells of family.
For every "Christmas" puppy given today, a tolerant, caring owner who won't abandon you as you grow into a real dog.

For every ailing pet, enough money for your owner to pay the bills to make you well.
For every lost dog, a clear, safe road, and well marked path, to lead you home.

For every old and tired friend, a warm fire, and a soft bed, to ease your aches and pains.
For every Heart Dog at the Bridge, a moment when you know that you are remembered today, missed again, and loved forever.

(Author unknown)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reality Came on Sunday!

Well, we had a great snow day on Saturday! I loved everything about it--The food, playing with the dogs, and just hanging out! It could not have been a nicer day at home!

Living in the country has really been a learning experience. I've learned that we need to be self sufficient, because we have no neighbors, and it's "just us." We found this out our first summer here in the country when the lights went out. We had no water, no candles, and no batteries or flashlights, and dead cell phones. That only happened once. The next time the lights went out (and they did!) we had everything and more and it went smoothly.

We've had the same sort of thing happen with the snow...On Sunday, we had a big reality check!! This is a picture of the top of our driveway, and our reality was, that we needed to dig ourselves out from under the nearly 2 feet of snow so that we could go to work on Monday. Thinking it wasn't a "big deal" we had a plan that at the time, didn't seem like it would be too hard to pull off. The plan was for Carl to shovel out the main part of our drive-way by the garage. We figured we would only need enough space for me to back my van out of the garage, drive over to the top of the driveway and then I'd make my run down to the end, and as simple as that, we'd be out! I wish it had been that easy...I quickly got stuck. Not being deterred by this set back, we dug my van out, and tried it again, and again, and again...At four o'clock in the afternoon we were still trying to shovel our way down to the end of the driveway, and my van continued to get stuck. We had made progress and were about 3/4 of the way down the driveway, but it was getting dark and we had to give up and we came back inside, defeated. I will say that the dogs were a great comfort in my discouragement over not being able to dig ourselves out. A couple of them came to me and quietly wagged their tales and put their head on my leg and just looked at me with their soulful eyes...It was much needed and appreciated.

In deciding what our next step would be, it was a big help that the Federal Government was closed today (Monday), and we didn't need to worry about Carl getting to work. However, I needed to be at my office to cover for our office manager who was going to be out. Fortunately, the "new girl" in our office (you remember, the one who drives me crazy & talks too much) only lives about 10 minutes from me, and I called and got a ride from her--Funny how her high energy and endless chattering about everything didn't bother me on the ride to work and home this evening...

Carl finished the job of shoveling the driveway this morning, and we have learned our lesson, the hard way...We will either be purchasing a snow-blower, or hiring someone to plow our driveway in the big snowfalls. My love of and hope for snow-days isn't going to change--I'm already looking forward to the next one, but I'll also be looking forward to not having a morning-after reality check!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All Snowed In!!

Monster?? Historic?? Significant?? Paralyzing?? These were all the words I was hearing on the news yesterday morning describing the impending storm and it was sweet music to my ears!! Feeling like this time the weathermen had it right, I went to the store and stocked up on all the needed snow-day food! I have not been disappointed!! As I write this, we are nearing a foot of snow and it's still coming down! In Washington DC, they are expecting up to 2 feet! Needless to say, everything is shut down and we are snowed in!! I know there are people who are complaining about it, and I feel badly for my friend whose son is a Marine and is trying to get home from Quantico for the holidays--But I couldn't be happier about it!

The dogs share my opinion about this cold white stuff!! We've had fun today letting them out to play in it. We did have a little bit of drama when I'd taken 3 of the girls who can be off lead and Josh, (pictured here) who is "okay" off lead with me to feed the birds. The girls stayed with me and were munching on bird food (they think it's delicious) and I was dumping snow out of the feeders when I heard Josh howling and barking in the woods--In that moment, I realized that I'd forgotten all about him!! I hollered for him to come back and he didn't--I started to panic and Carl who had heard me calling for Josh (actually I think the whole county heard me!) came out and helped look for him. Thankfully our renegade returned from his adventure!! Feeling relieved and "thanking God" I have told Josh that he has blown his chance of being off lead like that again!!

We are now all warm and settled in for the rest of the day. I've got an apple pie baking and there is scalloped potatoes and ham in the crock-pot for dinner and we're watching movies and the birds outside...I just love snow-days!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Too Much for a Monday!

It was a long day today! It started with us getting up late, and my being late for work. Added to that we have a new staff member in the office where I work. She is really very nice, and certainly knows her way around a dental office, but she's driving me and a few others a bit crazy because she's so high energy and very very chatty!

So at the end of the day it was nice to have some quiet time on the hour-drive home from work. It was a good thing I rested up because one of our senior boys, Cowboy, wandered off in the dark. Fortunately he is about 14 years old, not very fast and so he hadn't wandered too far! It was easy to find him with the help of a flashlight. ~whew!!~ But Sheba who was also running around in the dark returned full of fox-tails in her coat. They were so tangled in her tail that I decided that it was probably best to cut out the ones I couldn't pull out. As you can see, I had to cut out quite a bit of hair...Her tail certainly isn't as pretty as it was, but it'll grow back...eventually...

After that job, and feeding the dogs, I went into the garage to get a "dog-towel" out of an old dresser we have. Underneath the towel, the drawer was full of stink-bugs!! We got hit with them late last summer and I'm not exaggerating when I say that they covered the side of our house! Of course they would get inside when you opened the door, it was really awful!!! Pesticides don't kill them, it just makes them fly away, and if you're standing there, they get all over you. As a result you just have to learn to put up with them. I did get better towards the end of fall, and would pick-up one (yes, just one!) and toss it out the door--It doesn't do any good to kill them because it just brings up their odor, which is a musky-rotten smell...I read in the paper that they accidentally came to this country from Asia and don't like the cold weather at all and have a hard time surviving it. So I was really glad when the colder weather came and they started to die off; their little corpses are everywhere, especially in our garage. But I continue to find them inside the house too. They do try to survive the winter and will get into anything to stay warm, and they seem to do it in groups--But even though they are moving a bit slower, I wonder if these unwelcome visitors will ever stop showing up. I can only hope...Remind me why I love the country again?? :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tanner and a Cliche'

When Tanner started seeing the veterinary ophthalmologist early last summer they kept telling me that dogs who had undergone a permanent treatment for glaucoma felt so much better afterwards! They also told me that owners would comment that "they'd gotten their dogs back." Even in my reading about the procedure, I would see this same remark. I have to admit that I kind of found the comment to be a bit cliche' and corny. Well, its been just over a week since Tanner had his "Intravitreal Gentamicin Injection" and each day that has past, Tanner has felt better, and I now find myself saying that "I've gotten my dog back!" Funny how it no longer seems corny to say this...But I can't deny that he is interacting more with us, wagging his tail more than he has in a long time, and just seems happier. I finally understand what everyone meant by "getting their dog back," because I really have. I didn't know how much pain the glaucoma was causing him and how much it was taking away from his "quality of life" until we did this treatment. So because of how Tanner had been acting, I was feeling totally hopeful and cautiously optimistic for his post-op appointment today. I had to wait nearly an hour to be seen but it was worth the wait--Tanner's eye pressure which was almost 50 two weeks ago (which is the equivalent to a migraine headache) is now to low to measure. Needless to say, I am over the moon with this news!! This is what I hoped and prayed for!! It's a great feeling and a huge relief to be over the first hurdle, and to discontinue the use of one of the glaucoma medications! In 2 weeks for our next appointment we're crossing all paws and fingers that maybe it'll be another!

On the flip side, it is feeling like winter with high winds, temps at night in the 20's and 30's during the day; burrrrrr....We even had snow one night, and I did my snow dance to keep it coming down! I must have missed a step or two because it stopped...Rats!! I did however get out my heavier coat, found my gloves and scarf.

We're slowly getting ready for Christmas, and I got out my Williraye Nativity. I won it on eBay a couple of months ago, and when I set it out, I realized that it obviously needed the Wise Men too. So, I looked on eBay, found them and bought them. I really think when it's all put together, it'll look great!

I'm also trying to get my cards done, or is that started? Each year I take a picture of our dogs for the card, and this year, I just can't seem to get a photo that says "this is it!" This is a picture that I was considering...But I've taken some today using my 35mm camera (yes I'm still using film on occasion!) and I will have to wait to get them developed on Monday to see if I got the one I'm looking for!

Finally, I wanted to let everyone know how much I've enjoyed reading your blogs!! I love your pictures, reading about your families, your four-legged-family members, your preparation for the holidays and your everyday lives!! Thanks for stopping by for a minute to take a peek into mine!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Snow is Here!

Snow finally came to Virginia! It snowed all day and I loved it!! It will be short-lived though because it's supposed to warm up and melt today, and we'll be back to the muddy mess--But we will all enjoy it while it's here.

I did get a couple of the bird feeders set up during the snowfall and I thought it would take several days before the birds would find them--I was wrong...This morning as I'm writing this there are Chickadees, Juncos, a Wren, Tufted-Titmouse, and a red-headed-woodpecker enjoying breakfast. I do need to get the platform feeder set up for the Cardinals which are also stopping by too. I really enjoy watching the birds from my desk.

The dogs loved (LOVED!!!) the snow yesterday and this morning!! Since we have some newcomers that were not here last year, it's hard to know how they will react to it. Maguire loves to eat it, Cowboy loves to roll in it, and Hamlet, as you can see by the picture just tried to keep his eyes open during it.

It was a good day for all of us--I made chili in the crock-pot, had a nap, and we watched the movie "Twilight" All is well on Mountain road...

I took these this morning--Even Tanner (bottom photo) was feeling up to enjoying the snow!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Short Cold Week

It's the end of a short work week, but a busy one that I got lost in. The weather has been rainy and cold, and the weathermen are predicting snow for Saturday. I love snow and continue to hope that we can get snowed in for a day or two out here in the country! Despite loving snow, I have to admit that I could do without the cold weather. I bought a new thermometer for our fence post because I finally had to stop believing that the old one was right, and it was really 70 degrees! This weekend I'll try to get the bird feeders set up to start feeding the hungry birds, and whatever else shows up. Last year we had a nice variety of birds from Chickadees to an owl. On the ground we had lots of squirrels, and in the springtime we even had a weasel--But we are a few months from spring!

Our 13 year old Golden, Tanner underwent treatment for glaucoma on Thursday. He had what's called an "Intravitreal Gentamicin Injection." This is where the antibiotic Gentamicin is injected into the eye, and kills the cells that produce aqueous humor--By getting rid of the fluid that's produced by the aqueous humor, it is supposed to reduce the eye pressure and (hopefully) get rid of the pain that he's been having for the last several months. The tech said he did "okay" on the anesthetic, which was my main concern because he has laryngeal paralysis. Today Tanner remains a bit on the wobbly side, and he's very quiet and sleeping a lot. I hope he'll perk up...In 10 days he goes back to the ophthalmologist to check his eye pressure. Until then, he stays on the same medications, plus one--That's six eye medications that he gets at twice daily, two others, three times. I really hope this worked.

Hamlet is doing pretty well. I know I've said this several times, but he really is a sweet, easy going and gentle Golden. He is starting to follow me around the house and interacts more with the other dogs. This week was the first time he seemed happy to see me when I got home from work--He was so cute smiling at me, wagging his tail and offering me his paw. I got an e-mail from the rescue asking me about putting him up on the website for adoption. I told them I didn't think that he was ready and needed some time. They seemed to understand that--However I have to admit that I said it mostly because my heart is telling me he should stay...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Drama

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday! I think I love Thanksgiving because it comes without the stress, hustle, chaos and presents. But I really do love the turkey dinner; all of the sides, and the pumpkin pie is my very favorite! I could actually eat it throughout the year, and do sometimes buy it when I see it at the store. I mentioned this to my Mom several years ago and she told me that she craved pumpkin-pie when she was pregnant with me--So, my loving pumpkin pie must be something I was born with!! :-)

I do enjoy cooking. Thanksgiving dinner is a simple meal to prepare and it’s not hard to roast a turkey...But the mess and work for just two people?? I guess this is why I am always grateful when we get an invitation to someone's home for dinner, which is what we did. Today I'm fixing a turkey breast in the crock-pot for us and a few sides to go along with it. In honor of my Mom, I'll make "5-Cup Salad." My Mom, LOVED this but often she couldn't remember what the 5th cup was, and now I'm finding I can't remember all 5 cups either, and have to look up the recipe. I do have to admit that I never really liked the salad much when she was living, but I made it last year in her memory, and actually enjoyed it. I continue to miss her more than I've ever missed anyone--especially around the holidays because there are so many memories...

On the flip side we had a rabbit find its way into the fenced part of our yard. The poor thing had all the dogs descend on it and it was screaming. Of course I was screaming too and had Carl get the dogs away. When he picked it up, it was like a rag-doll and wouldn't move--We were both surprised that it wasn't bleeding. Thinking it was a goner, Carl was just going to put it up in the woods to let it die. But I felt responsible for it, and of course we both didn't want it to suffer, so we wrapped it in a towel and set up a crate so I could take it to the vet later. When I went out to check on it about an hour later, the rabbit was up, alert and moving around inside the crate. A little worse for wear as you can tell by the picture, but it seemed okay, so we said our good-byes and let it go.

Just after that on our morning walk CarrieAnne rolled in something delicious (to her anyway) in the woods and needed a bath...Add that to an earlier power outage, cold wind and sleeting rain, I think after we've had our post-Thanksgiving lunch, I'm going back to bed!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunny Days of November

I wanted to start by thanking everyone for your comments about Hamlet. He's doing really well, and is adjusting to life in "the group home" with no problems. He's really a very sweet and nice Golden. He seems a bit sad at times and doesn't "smile" like the other Goldens do, but I'm hoping that soon he'll once again feel joy and happiness as he settles into his life with us, and knows that he's safe.

We have had a couple of sunny days this week in Virginia. When the sun is out, I remember why I love the fall. I love the leaves, and the feeling of cool crisp air, and just the overall feeling of the season. Another reason I love it is that the fall wardrobe is so much more me than any other season. I really look forward to the jackets, sweaters, vests, a long sleeve denim shirt, and getting to wear my flannel pajamas! I love them all, and feel comfortable and cozy wearing the layers of sweaters over long sleeves and of course I love warm socks!!

On one of the sunny days the dogs and I got out and enjoyed the sunshine. We took a walk up to the field in back of us. I always like seeing all the little bird nests that were hidden in the branches of the trees. It also reminded me that there are some rather large rocks that I want Carl to get and bring down to our house. The rocks are all part of a stone fence that divided the two properties at one time. The wall has long since fallen over, and in the summer you can barely see them. I'd wanted to get them in the spring, but it warmed up pretty quickly, and I always worry about finding a snake or something else equally terrifying!

The leaves are now pretty much off the maple tree, and all the other trees too...It's all time I guess because this week we cruise right to Thanksgiving! Today while I was out running errands, one of the local radio stations is playing nothing but Christmas music...Is it really time for Christmas?

Friday, November 13, 2009

A New Addition!!

I've been saying for months that I was "done" being a foster home for the Golden Retriever Rescue. I've given the rescue 10 years which included four of them spent as the president. But because of the issues I was having with a board member over Tanner, it made me pretty determined to find another rescue to support. But I guess that fate had another plan this week...I was called on Tuesday and asked about picking up a dog that was at my vet. I had to go and get dog food anyway, and the vets office is right next to the shop where I buy the food--Added to that, the dog needed to be taken to another vets office for overnight care that was on my way home. I was hardly going to be going out of my way. The dog, Hamlet, has a bit of a sad story. He's about 13 years old, and was left and abandoned by his family when their house was foreclosed on. The story from the neighbors is that they had turned him out and he was wandering the neighborhood. The neighbor knew that the house had been foreclosed on, and thought that the family probably no longer wanted Hamlet, so he called Animal Control to come and pick him up. However, Hamlet still had his original collar on with an ID, and Animal Control contacted them. The owner came and picked him up from the shelter. I've found out that in our county that whenever a dog is picked up and the owner is identified, the county bills the owner for keeping them there and any expense incurred--I think they got him back because they didn't want to pay any of these "extra" fees. So when they got him back, instead of letting him outside, or finding someone to take him, they put him in the garage and left the house for good. It was several days before someone found Hamlet. He was left in the dark garage with no water or food...He was pretty ill with pancreatitis because he'd eaten trash left in the garage and was of course dehydrated--He'd thrown up the garbage and even part of a plastic fork! When I met him on Tuesday evening, he was so out of it and couldn't even stand or hold his head up. Needless to say, Hamlet's story got to me, and I agreed to foster him. Prayers were answered and by Wednesday evening Hamlet was ready to come to our house! The intros to our crew have gone well, and he's fitting in nicely. Hamlet is feeling much better! He's a typical senior Golden Retriever, easy going and always on the look out for a tidbit of something to eat--All good signs!! I've told several people about Hamlet this week and we all are a bit angry at this family for what they did to him. I just cannot imagine being so callous and uncaring--How could they just leave Hamlet in the garage with no food or water? Did they think that someone may not find him? I will never understand why or how someone would be able to do this--But I've decided it's best that I'm not able to, because that would put me on their level.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Full Speed through Fall!

Full speed ahead through the fall! It's been warm the last few days, but the cold days are starting to outnumber the warm ones. I love that we've set the clocks back so we can get the dogs out earlier in the morning, but don't like driving home in dark from in the work. I'm constantly looking for deer to jump out in front of me, and I always am grateful when Carl and I get home safely. The leaves are also falling off the trees and a couple of the dogs have loved playing and rolling in them. We have a beautiful maple tree on the side of the house and this year its colors didn't seem as bright as our last 2 falls we've been here, it still had just as many leaves!

We officially adopted Tanner (who is about 13 years old & has glaucoma) at the beginning of November. It was just getting to be too much stress dealing with the rescue and the person who approved medical care. "She" was on her own ego trip and because we didn't get along, she always had the opinion that she knew the best treatment for Tanner, which was usually the opposite of what the vet and I felt was best for him. It's a positive move to be able to make the decisions for him that I know are best--An interesting caveat is that she resigned from the board of directors of the rescue last week...Thank-goodness!

Charlie was also groomed last week, and I think he looks great! I always think I like the shaggy-dog look best, but when he gets his new "do" I think he looks really cute! His coat when it's grown is so thick and I know he's hot under it all, even in the cooler temps. I refer to Charlie as "my little man." He is my defender and protector; I've never had a dog that was as loyal as he is, especially to "just" me! He came from Old English Sheepdog rescue about 4 years ago. I pulled him for them from a shelter in Berryville. We thought he was a sheepdog mix, and he turned out to be a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. I wasn't really that taken by him at first. Charlie is so different than the Goldens because it's all about him, whereas with Goldens, it's all about you. I worked with Sheepdog rescue to try and place him, and after a couple of people said they thought he looked like he "belonged" to me, I finally gave in and took another look at the dog that had one blue eye...I've never looked back. I am crazy about him!