Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Dog Dilemma

When you're involved in rescue, especially in a leadership role, you meet a lot of people. One person I got to know is a very well educated and dog savvy person who is retired from the military. Shirley has been helping many rescues out in the area by working to rehab their dogs recovering from orthopedic surgery. Also because she has many years of training dogs, she has also been taking on their behavior challenged dogs as well. Shirley was living on a very large estate with a kennel where she housed about 20 such dogs and was assisted in this task by 2 people. She took on one of my severely abused foster dogs. Shirley worked with him, and truly made a huge difference for Leon! He is a pretty well adjusted dog because of the year that he lived with her. I visited her at the estate often and got to know some of the other dogs that Shirley had in her care.

A year ago this past December, Shirley took in 2 female puppies (some kind of beagle and terrier mixes) from someone who was giving them away on a busy street corner. One of the puppies I was totally taken by. Each time I came to visit, I'd spend some time with the puppy. When Carl would come with me, he'd visit with the puppy too. The puppy named "Kenzie" is a very laid back little girl and was really getting picked on by the other dogs. At one time I was supposed to take Kenzie but with the unexpected and unplanned arrival of Hamlet from the rescue, we decided we couldn't take her. My last contact with Shirley was last fall. During this time I've never forgotten this puppy and neither has Carl. By a series of events Shirley has once again crossed my path, and she still has Kenzie, who is now about a year and-a-half old. However Shirley has moved far south from us, and is now living in a place with 21 dogs, has no fenced yard, and no kennel runs. Each dog has an area of the home and barn that they stay in--They don't have much outdoor freedom and are leashed walked and then put back in their crates. Shirley is caring for all the dogs alone. Needless to say, I think Shirley is in over her head, but I won't pass judgment, and would never suggest that. With the passing of Cowboy and no plans on taking any more fosters from the rescue, I feel like we now have a place for Kenzie. However I'm torn. Our crew is in a good place right now. There's a real peace among them. I know that a new young dog (that's never been inside a house) may very well change that. But Carl and I continue to feel sorry for Kenzie and can't stop thinking about her; especially knowing how she is being kept. I know all too well the time it takes to care for our pack, so I am quite sure that Kenzie is not getting the care or the attention she needs and deserves...

So, my question I'm putting into the cosmos of cyber-space is, is feeling sorry for Kenzie, wanting to make a difference for her, and not being able to stop thinking about her a good enough reason to take her? I just don't know--My heart says it is, but my head is saying "What are you doing, are you crazy? I'll admit there are a lot of reasons not to take Kenzie, but is not being able to forget about her a sign that I shouldn't?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Owl By Any Other Name...

Since our move to the country 2 years ago many times we've heard owls calling back and forth to one another in the early morning hours. Knowing they're around I will often open a bedroom window at night in hopes of hearing them. I find the owls amazing, and I just feel like we are privileged to something unique in being able to hear them.

Virginia is home to four types of owls. And, over the last several weeks we have been hearing and catching glimpses of what Carl and I were totally convinced was a "Great Horned Owl." We had one that took up residence around us last year, so why wouldn't it be the same one this year? Even though the calls we have been hearing were a little different, we were still very sure it was a Horned Owl. My attempts to get a picture of it didn't meet with any success until Thursday when I had the dogs out for a late afternoon walk. I caught a glimpse of it on the edge of the woods, and ran back inside to get my camera. I was so excited by what I was able to get pictures of and a little surprised to find that it is not a Great Horned Owl after all, but a Barred Owl instead. But it doesn't matter, "an owl by any other name, is still an owl!" I still love having it around and hope it'll stay.
~~Their sound says: "who cooks for you-who cooks for you?"
~~Here's what they actually sound like:

And here is what "ours" looks like:

Don't ask me how many pictures I took of him, this is where having a digital camera (and a good zoom lens) paid off!! But I think he (or she) is beautiful, don't you?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Healing Story of Josh

With another day off work and a little bit of time, if you'd like to read a story get comfy and I'll continue telling you about our dogs and their story of rescue.

The dog that we've had nearly as long as Wendy is Josh who came to us in August of 2002.

He was only about 4 months old when he was hit by a car and found on the side of the road. A motorist passing by noticed him and took him to an animal emergency clinic. He was in shock, and x-rays showed that he had a fractured pelvis and his right front leg was broken. Time was critical because his leg needed to be operated on because it was broken near the growth plate. A "found report" was posted hoping that someone would come forward to claim this little boy, but no one did. Five days later, Josh was turned over to the Golden Retriever Rescue.

Somewhere during this time we were sent this black and white photo and asked by the rescue to foster him. At first I said "no" to taking him because about a month before we had the devastating loss of our 5 year old Golden to cancer, and that week we'd had another very difficult and sudden loss of a foster dog. I just felt that I had nothing left to give my own dogs, let alone one that needed extra care and attention. But "fate" had another idea, and somehow we ended up agreeing to take him.

I first saw "him" after the initial surgery on his front leg, and of course was immediately smitten by him! The cast on his leg was practically as big as he was and he had several patches where there was no hair from the tumble on the road when he was hit by the car. I named this "lost boy" Josh after the Tom Hanks character in the movie "Big" because he was such a young boy that suddenly had to grow up and find his way in the world. Josh had 2 more surgeries on his leg and there was a lot of doubt in the beginning about his being able to keep his leg. But luck remained on Josh's side and he came through it all just fine.

But we still had other hurdles to get over. After the recovery of his front leg was complete, we noticed that Josh would often scoot along the floor on his side to retrieve something instead of walking. X-rays were taken and they showed that his pelvis had small multiple fractures, and the larger fracture that we had thought would heal on its own, had not healed properly. Josh would need more surgery that would re-break his pelvis, put a plate in and then bilateral triple pelvic osteotomies would be done. Two surgeries, 3 weeks apart were done. The bottom line was that it was yet another 6 weeks of crate confinement for Josh.

The last round of surgeries were very painful for Josh. Any movement and he would yelp in pain. Carl and I found that what seemed to comfort him and lift his spirits the most was being with us. In the evenings we would take him out of his crate, and he would play a little, or just rest quietly next to us as we watched TV. We also took turns at night sleeping with him on a dog bed. He would snuggle up so close to us, and you could hear these little noises as he slept.

By the middle of November, Josh had made remarkable progress. He was feeling much better, and was able to stand while eating. However, Josh was still extremely unstable on his feet. He would slip very easily, and each step he took was slow, stiff and methodical. Because of Josh’s extensive time on “crate rest” his muscles had atrophied and he had very little strength and stamina. To improve this, Josh began swim therapy as a rehabilitative exercise that would provide him with the best chance to make a complete recovery. For the next 4 months we drove to an animal swim center about 40 minutes away from us 3 times a week. It was a lot of driving, but I was committed to Josh and his recovery. It all paid off because the differences the swimming made for him, both physically and emotionally, were indescribable! Everyone involved with Josh was thrilled!!!

By springtime Josh was fully recovered and was able to run and play and do all the "normal" things. But it also brought the job of trying to find a new home for him--That was the whole reason for fostering him, right? I'll spare you those details and just say that I didn't make much of an attempt to find someone for him. Each call I received I found a reason why they weren't the right family. We adopted Josh in April of 2003.

Today Josh is about 8 years old. There is still some visible evidence of his injuries. He is a very affectionate and extremely easy going boy that still loves to snuggle up very close to us. And when you ask him to show you his "owie," using his nose, he'll point to his front leg.

So much has happened since Josh first came to us and he is of course such an intricate part of our household. During this time the sting of the loss of our precious Golden Tod and Murphy our foster dog has eased. But looking back on it, I think that the noises that I used to hear at night when all was quiet and Josh was sleeping next to me, were the sounds of both of us healing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Spring Brings

This year Spring could not have come fast enough and I continue to find its arrival to be totally energizing!! Do you feel the energy it has brought? Are you looking at all the signs of life and the changes that are around you like I am?

With spring just getting to Virginia, I have created a list of 10 things that it has brought with it...
10. The Frisbees are back!!
For some reason we don't play Frisbee in the winter even though the dogs really enjoy it, and I enjoy watching them have fun too!
9. Ice-cubes & Cold Drinks!
The dogs love having ice cubes after they've been out playing in the warm weather--For me, there's nothing like a cold Diet Coke on any kind of day!
8. Green, Green Grass of Home!
About half of the dogs love to eat grass and I think it's simply because they just enjoy it. When we lived in a subdivision the dogs always got sick when they ate it--Now they don't and I wonder if it's because we don't use any pesticides.

Whoops, wrong picture--That's one of the cows across the road!
7. Sniffles, sneezing and coughing!
With spring comes allergies galore; hay-fever season has officially begun, and I'm not immune to it--But I am not complaining...aahhh-choo...

6. Hair, hair and more hair!
Lets not forget what brings on some of these allergies--the shedding season!! I usually toss the dog hair into the yard and let the birds grab it to use in their nests--Since the dogs keep me warm, then it should keep the baby birds cozy too! 5. More time outside and more daylight!
I really like getting home from work when it's still light and I can walk with the dogs in the evening! This picture was taken at around 7 PM this evening from my front porch. I'm also thrilled that I caught the first glimpse of our resident ground-hog running across the yard as I went out to take this picture.
4. No more mostly brown everywhere!
I love the color that spring brings!!!
3. The Warmth of the Sun!
Who doesn't get their inner batteries recharged when it's sunny outside?
2. Sitting on the Front Porch!
Our favorite past time! For us, it's the perfect setting for some afternoon reading and just hanging out.
And the #1 thing that has come at the start of Spring??

1. Easter Goodies!!!
Who couldn't love a season that involves chocolate bunnies?

Whatever Spring has brought to you, I hope you're enjoying it!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Peace After the Storm

It's the end of a crazy weekend! The first day of spring brought with it sunshine and continued warm weather! It could not have started out on a better "note!" I woke to hear the return of my favorite bird, the Eastern Phoebe! We heard the Phoebe's relentless squeaky toy call of "phoebe-phoebe-phoebe" every day until late last summer. I know there are birds with prettier songs that fill the air, and I enjoy them as well but there was something about hearing the simple repertoire of the Phoebe that we became quite attached too. I really missed it when it left.

I did have to make a trek to the vet's office with Hamlet who has a small abscess on a lipoma. He's on a couple of medications and I'm quite sure he'll mend just fine. I also picked up Cowboy's ashes. The return of the remains is always very sad for us, but it's a comfort to have them. I usually keep them out on the shelf for several days, then when it's time, I put them away with the others.

I got home about mid day and I was just a little put out that Carl hadn't even started any of the planned yard work that we had agreed to getting done. After a little bit of a discussion about which jobs to do, Carl went out started some clean up in the yard. He was out there for a couple of hours when I heard him calling to me--I went out and he was covered in blood. He had fallen and hit his head on the trash-bin that he was using to clean up the yard. I got a towel that was soaked very quickly, it didn't take long for the 2nd one. I called "911" and after a barrage of questions, an ambulance was sent. I went out to be with Carl who was sitting on the front porch. Knowing the dogs would go crazy inside when help arrived, even though he was feeling a bit dizzy we moved off the porch to the rocks on the edge of the driveway to wait. Help arrived just as I noticed that where he was sitting, running all over the rocks were these little yellow spiders--They were everywhere!!! They were even on Carl--The "rescue team" that was attending to Carl noticed them and ended up with a few on them as well. But they got him all set and transported him to a nearby hospital. I'll spare you the rest of the details of the 4 hours we spent in the emergency room and just say that he ended up with 10 staples to close about a 2-3 inch gash on his head. A little worse for wear when he was finally being released around 10 o'clock, when he got up to leave 2 spiders were left behind.

Sunday was a much quieter day! Carl is feeling okay and after a nap I sat on the porch with the dogs looking at my magazines, watching the birds, hearing the Phoebe every now and then and relaxing. Peace has returned to Golden Pines! Thank-goodness!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Therapeutic Thursday

I've had such a nice day off at home! I've not done a single thing but knock around the house and enjoy the warmth and the sun! We had temperatures that were in the low 70's, (20 degrees Celsius) and the dogs and I took full advantage of it! I wanted the day to just be a relaxing quiet day and that's exactly what it was.

The dogs and I went for a morning walk.
For some reason, Charlie sitting under our "Golden Road" sign gave me a little grin.

While it was still chilly I decided that this would be the day that I would get the rocks from the fallen stone wall that I've been eyeing since we moved here. I'm afraid to do it in the summer because of what may be hiding under or around them. My Mom loved rocks and as a result, I love them too--There are lots of these white rocks around, and I think they will be great rocks for my garden, they have such color and character.

After a nap, the dogs and I went out again. You can see it was blue sky and sunshine this afternoon too. It was such a peaceful feeling as I looked back at our house and watched the dogs.There are signs of spring everywhere!! Most of my flowers are coming up and our old Maple tree is budding too. I got so engrossed in taking pictures, I wasn't keeping track of where the dogs were. On the upper left corner of this picture can you can see Hamlet playing the role of "renegade" and wandering down the driveway...YIKES!! Once back inside we sat on the porch, relaxed, soaked up more sun and watched the birds come to the feeders.
I didn't even pay (much) attention to what I think (???) is a wolf spider that has been hanging out on our porch the last few days. I actually find it to be a pretty spider, and as long as it doesn't come inside or move in my direction, it can stay.

I hope you've had a good Thursday too!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Few Words on Wednesday

There's a quote from one of my favorite movies "Fried Green Tomatoes" where Ninny says to Evelyn that "a heart can be broken, but it goes on beating just the same." All of us know how true this is about our hearts and life as well; they both continue after a loss.

Of course the last couple of days have had their moments of difficulty. But what has made it easier and has provided so much comfort are the heart-felt comments from so many of you. I continue to be deeply touched and humbled by your thoughts and your friendship. Cowboy's loss has left us with aching hearts, but your kindness has helped to ease that. I will always be grateful and thankful to all of you for your support.

Our lives do continue and are getting back to normal...The sun and warmth returned yesterday and it was so nice last evening to be outside with the dogs and watch their games and antics. I look forward to being off work on Thursday and catching up on things around the house and with all of you on your blogs too--Just like Cowboy, there are some things that I really do miss. Enjoy your Wednesday!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The End of My First Day

As the day comes to a close, I cannot begin to tell you how very humbled I am by the kind messages, poems and even an e-card after the loss of our Golden, Cowboy. These kind gestures and friendship have meant so very much, and have truly lifted my heart and spirit! Saying "THANK-YOU!!" somehow doesn't seem like enough for this wonderful gift I have received from so many of you! You have helped me through what has been a difficult day.

We did go to church today, but only for me to teach my Sunday school class and then leave. I'm just not been ready to face the world and needed a day at home.

As you know, when we lose one of our four-legged family members, you have a day that becomes a day of firsts. It truly is all part of this whole process called grieving, and this is what this post is.

For me, it's always hard to look for the first time and see where "they" used to always lay.

And then there's the first time you realize that you now have an extra bowl that doesn't need to be filled . It's also sad the first time you don't see them standing in the spot where they used to eat. The first walks for me always take a little getting used to because you're so used to seeing them in their favorite spot in the yard--And you keep looking, expecting to see them there; but the place is empty and oh, so silent.

This morning out of habit I kept looking back to see if I was being followed by a dog that for 2 years was my companion on all of our walks. I think that today Cowboy was there in spirit "bringing in the herd" as I always used to say to him because he was always the last one to come inside. Another "first" was coming home for the first time; the barking from the inside of our house is missing a voice.
Yesterday afternoon the dogs kept coming to me and I just felt like I had nothing to give them, and I thought I wanted to be alone. But I let them in and just as I knew they would, the dogs became a source of comfort and strength.

I know that life does and needs to continue. But I'm thankful that I've been able to shut the world out today. Tomorrow will come, and I'll once again join the human race. I'm feeling the loss, but thankful for those like you who understand and have provided a cyber-shoulder to cry on. Thank-you so very, very much for that, you made a difference for me on "my first day!"
Thank-you Tanner for running off and distracting me on the walk this morning.
Sammy for reminding me that life does and needs to go on. Maguire for knowing that I needed a dog to hug.

Rudi for making me laugh by bringing me that branch this morning...

And Joshua for jumping on the bed when I was taking a nap. It helped to have you close.
And Charlie for telling me it would be okay.

Thank-you Sheba for understanding when I accidentally left you outside in the rain...

And Wendy for barking when it was mealtime, you helped to distract me.

Hamlet for offering me your paw to hold.

And thank-you Cowboy for being part of our life and our home for 2 years.