Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Perfect Evening

 It was a perfect evening.  Stars were just starting to twinkle in the sky.  There was cool soft grass under our feet and it was peaceful and quiet as the birds were settling in for the night.  Normally I don't walk into the yard in the near darkness, but I was out there with Todd and Charlie so I felt safe enough.  
We were out there to see something that I look forward to each year and is the true sign that summer is arriving.  As darkness fell, I began to see them. Lightning bugs (or fireflies).  Longtime readers of my blog know that in the summer, I enjoy being outside as nightfall begins and lightning bugs start blinking all over the yard, in the flower beds, in the grass and against the dark sky. Some will say that it's silly that at my age I find something so small and perhaps even trivial to be both captivating and hypnotic.  Perhaps it is...  But lightning bugs remind me of a childhood filled with magic, curiosity, and joy.  Lightning bugs meant staying up late and running barefoot through cool grass.  While I dread the growing numbers of mosquitoes nipping at my skin and humidity soaking my clothing, I will graciously thank Summer for the gift of lightning bugs -- Not just because they mark a new season, but also because they remind me of a simpler, more innocent time.  Every adult spirit needs a bit of that now and again, don't you think?

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Equilibrium Returns

  The Memorial Day weekends rolls to a close here in my corner of the world.  The official beginning of summer. Right on cue the breeze died down and it got sticky.  But we've had perfect weather and I had a perfect chance to get caught up and get my equilibrium back from last weeks events.
 For the third year, my town had an all-American Mayfest.  It was a well planned and well attended event that reminds me of  why I love the small town that I live in. Every local business, club and even the person who makes best barbecue in the county were there.    
Everyone of all ages were part of the fun!  
But back at home, Gus has settled in very nicely!  I think the lowering of his medication (gabapentin) has made a difference.  You'll recall that he couldn't walk at all on Friday. But each day this past weekend we've seen improvement.
Today he's up and around and trying to follow us from room to room. He looses his balance very easily, and that isn't going to change.  But it looks like that at least for now, he has some equilibrium too. I don't know how quickly degenerative myelopathy progresses, there is no treatment for it.  The vets have said that they think that Gus may have six months to a year.  We'll see.  Vets have been proven wrong more times than we can all count, and for Gus it will be taking each day as it comes.  
Our dogs like Gus well enough.  On Saturday I watched Cricket several times steal little sniffs of him when she thought he may not be looking.
She has also settled in really nicely, and she wins the award from us as being the 'cutest' dog we've ever fostered.  However like Annie, because of the kidney disease, she has her days that she feels better than others and doesn't want to eat.  And just as we do with Annie, I use cheap dog food, cat food, anything that I think will entice them to want to eat.  So far, she's falling for most of those tricks, and I'm glad about that.
I hope you've had a good weekend too!  I'm sorry I've not visited your blogs, and hope you understand why I haven't.  I've really missed catching up with you and I am really looking forward to seeing what I've missed in your world!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gus Arrives at Golden Pines!

It's now the end of a whirlwind week and I wanted to thank all of you who said such kind things after the unexpected loss of my boy Shadow.  Kind words really do go a long way to help with the healing process and I will always be grateful to you for them and for your friendship.
As we were settling into a new routine without Shadow, the rescue contacted me and asked if we would be available to 'temp foster' a dog for a family who was going on vacation.  I will admit to being more than a little surprised that I was being asked again to take on a new dog, but of course I agreed -- And this afternoon we welcomed a handsome boy named "Gus" to Golden Pines.  
Gus came into the rescue last week via a rural shelter in Virginia where he had been taken SIX times after he'd been found wandering in traffic.  The last time a shelter worker found Gus tied to the door of the shelter when arriving for work.  When his owners never came to claim him (they were probably the ones who left him there), he was turned over to the rescue.  Unfortunately Gus has an arms length of health issues, and advanced degenerative myelopathy is at the top of the list. Today Gus is unable to stand on his own, and after a long discussion with the vet and the rescue, we're going to try tweaking his medication in hopes it'll ease the symptoms of the ataxia.

The plan is for Gus to stay with us for a couple of weeks until the foster-family returns from their vacation. But the hope is, that he will settle in with us, get along with the other dogs, and become part of Golden Pines.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Good-Bye to My Handsome Shadow

 Thank-you all for your good thoughts for Shadow. Sadly, as we all know there are times that a "cure" is not meant to be. Shadow's condition worsened on Sunday and he was unable to stand, move his back-legs, or even wag his tail.  After a long, long conversation with my vet, I felt that the kind thing to do would be let him go...

The 7 months Shadow was with us, wasn't nearly long enough to be together.  Even though my heart is broken, I have no regrets.  I am only filled with gratitude that we were given the chance to have this most affectionate, sweet-tempered, cat-stalking, gentle soul as part of our lives. I will always be thankful to his family for trusting us to give Shadow a home for the last chapter in his life.

The words for Shadow's tribute will come in time....So tonight as the sun sets on this most sad day, I only want to say, "God-speed to my handsome Shadow.  You will be greatly missed. I hope when you arrive at the bridge all brand-new that you are met by all of our-gang who have gone before you; give them my message and as you join them, know that I look forward to the day when I will see you all again."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

No Words, New Words and Butterflies?

Its been a busy few days and I’m fighting blog-writer’s block, just like some of you have at some point, I suspect.  My mind is spinning in circles, trying to come up with the words and articulate the things I'd like to say.  It’s enormously frustrating, because every time I've started to write a post the last couple of days, what I've written doesn't seem good enough, and I just give up entirely.
It's not that I don't have something to write about, because I certainly have a lot of material.  If I could find the words I could write a post about how in the early morning hours of Friday morning we were hit with torrential rains. I woke up when the power was coming back on, and it was raining in sheets. Carl left to go to work around 5 o'clock, and in the darkness didn't realize how flooded the road had become and found himself in water that was nearly to the car door.  He was able to drive out of it a little, but in front of him, the water was much deeper and the driver of a Mustang, (below) became even more stranded than he was. Both sat and waited for the water to recede, which it did around 9 o'clock.
~Cell phone photo of the flooding~
Of course if I didn't have writers-block, I could write an update about Cricket.  I could say how I thought that her vet visit on Thursday went pretty well, and how she was given the "royal treatment" by everyone in the office.  I'd let you know that Cricket's test results were all returned and unfortunately showed that she has "significant signs of kidney disease."  Our girl Annie has had the same thing for the past 2 years and while I'm disappointed that Cricket does also, what's needed for the both of them at home is something I feel pretty confident about providing.
Finally there is Shadow.  I think this is where my problem with finding the words comes in. His vet visit on Friday gave no definitive diagnosis.  After a barrage of tests, from x-rays to blood-work, the conclusion was that he has stenosis in his spine.  We've begun giving him an anti-inflammatory medication.  After two days, we should have seen a difference, but we've not. Of course I'm discouraged. This morning the heavy panting and his reluctance to move has already begun and is affecting his appetite.  All we can do is hope he gets better, but his seeing a specialist is probably on the agenda.  
So, yesterday in my muddied mind while Carl was tinkering with trying to get the tractor to start, I tried to focus on something else. You may recall how (unfortunately) the entire edge of our property was cleared when the utility wires and poles were put up for the new home in back of us.  I've decided to turn the open space into a butterfly way-station for the Monarch butterfly.  Our county is heavily investing in this, and I decided awhile back that I'd like to invest in it too. Yesterday I purchased the needed milkweed plants to set out.  I happened to see our neighbor and mentioned to them what I was planning. There was a noticeable grimace on their faces as the husband commented about what a nuisance milkweed can be.  But I'm not going to let that deter me.  Because who knows, maybe with the work that will go into this project, I'll find the new words I need for the blog-posts that are to come, just as I hope the Monarch butterflies do.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cricket and Shadow

Easterly winds helped keep temperatures subdued yesterday, and it was actually feeling a little cool despite the humidity. Right now it's relatively quiet on the weather front, but wet times are ahead to close our week.
~Cricket, waking up from a little nap~
Cricket has settled in really nicely this week and is getting along well with the other dogs.  During the day, Cricket is alert and will come to us for attention, and will nap in the office with the other dogs. Yesterday when I arrived home from work she stood at the fence with the other dogs and barked.  All of this a contrast to her behavior by late evening  when she wanders around the house and seems not quite sure of where she's supposed to be.  At those times I've been putting her to bed in her crate and she'll sleep soundly until around 5.  Today we're off to the vet, and I'll ask about it; I do think it isn't uncommon for a gal of her respectable age of 16.  
While Cricket has been settling in, I've been noticing a few changes with our boy Shadow.  He is panting heavily even when at rest. I've gone through the check list starting with his color that looks good, even after activity, appetite is good ... But he's not himself.  I thought it may be pain from his arthritis, so I gave him pain-medication, but there's been no change.  I've no idea what it could be.  But tomorrow when his vet returns to work, I'll take him in to see her.  I hope you'll send some good vibes for this most gentle boy that joined our household about 7 short months ago.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cricket Arrives at Golden Pines

Yesterday a trip over the Blue Ridge Mountains took me to the meeting place to pick up the lovely little Cricket. The photo I'd seen of Cricket was not the best, and I knew that she was a "golden-mix" but I didn't expect her to be quite so small, (about 25 pounds) and so cute!
The niece of Cricket's former owner could not have been any more gracious, kind and caring.  I felt like I was meeting a friend.  She told me that Cricket had been the treasured companion of her aunt, whose name was "Flossie."  When Flossie was in hospice care, the niece took Cricket to visit her, promising that she would make sure that Cricket had a good home after she was gone.  I hope she felt that she'd kept her promise by giving her to me.  
At the tender age of 16, Cricket is a little timid with an endearing tilt to her head and ears that stand up. Her meeting our group went pretty well, except for Shadow who got a little closer to her than she liked.
~Todd's not the littlest one anymore~  
By mid-evening, I could see that Cricket was really tired, and it was easy to see she was confused about where she was and she wouldn't settle down. I decided that I would set up her crate and put her to bed. The niece had stopped by her Aunt's home and picked up a blanket for Cricket which I put it inside the crate; she burrowed into it and fell fast asleep. There was something so sweet and peaceful about watching Cricket sleep.  I couldn't help but think that it must've been so comforting to her to have something so familiar on a day when her world had been turned upside down.
Welcome to Golden Pines, Cricket.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The First Days of May

Our first full week of May passed much too quickly. Helping that along was the soaring mercury that told us we had the highest temps of the calendar year so far.  From the inside, the lovely Ms. Yellow enjoyed the warmth of the evening sun as she closely watched the Eastern Phoebe that has built its nest above the front window.
A quick peak inside the nest yesterday showed that there are 4 Phoebe eggs, and another egg which belongs to a cowbird. (A cowbird lays its eggs in nests of other birds.Unfortunately they hatch first, grow large very quickly which allows them to command the most food which usually results in the loss of the other hatchlings in the nest.) I couldn't decide if I should remove the egg or not, so I called our wildlife center and asked them. Cowbirds are native to the US and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and it is unlawful to remove their eggs from a nest.  Finding that out didn't change my mind about the fate of the cowbird's egg. What would you do?    
The dogs are much too busy to concern themselves with trivial things like the Phoebe and its eggs. With the warm days and evenings, we've been outside more. One evening when we were out, the dogs were exploring the yard and I heard Josh bark in a high pitched tone, and CarrieAnne joined in.  They had wandered a little too far down the driveway and from where I was standing, I could see that Carrie's ears were forward as she pointed to the ground with cheerful excitement. Before I even got to where they were, I knew what they were looking at, and I was right, because this is what was there.
I will just confess, that I am very phobic about snakes. When I see them, I just scream and run, and that was what I did. I frantically called the dogs to come with me, which confused them a little because they couldn't figure out what was wrong. (Although you'd think by now they'd be used to my moments of near hysteria.) But once we were (safely) inside the house, I did the only thing I could do, I made CARL go take a look at it, and take pictures.  From what I briefly saw of the snake, I thought that the dogs may have somehow managed to kill or injure it.  Thankfully they hadn't, it was only 'playing dead' which is what the (non-poisonous) hog-nose snake does when they feel threatened. I am just glad it wasn't like the turtle last week, and didn't need to be rescued.
~The snake-finders, Josh and CarrieAnne~
Speaking of 'being rescued' I was more than a little surprised this week when after 10 months, the rescue I volunteer for asked me if we had room for a new senior dog. Her name is Cricket, and she's 16 years old.  Her owner recently passed away, and she has nowhere to go.  I am picking her up this afternoon, and will introduce you to her in my next post.  Enjoy your Saturday!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Roadside Rescue

Off to an early start this morning so I could spend the day at home.
~Part of the gang this evening~ 
As I was rounding the last corner for home, I saw a turtle on the side of the road.  It was on its back in the full sun and was looking pretty toasted.  I thought it was probably dead, but since it's my habit to always stop for turtles, that was what I did. It was just a young snapping turtle about the size of my hand.  Its neck was stretched out and to the side and his little claws were all curled in and motionless. Of course I couldn't help but feel a little sad and sorry for the poor thing.
~Our road yesterday afternoon~
I'll admit that I'm a little wary of snapping turtles, so I nudged him with my foot to make sure he was dead, and he didn't move. Feeling confident that he couldn't hurt me, I decided that I should at least get him off the road, and when I picked him up, I noticed his little claw move, like a weak wave for help -- He was alive!!  I took him over to the nearby pond and with an empty soda-cup from my van, I splashed him with water, all the while telling him that I thought he was going to be alright. All four of his legs started to slowly move and eventually he moved his head, pulling it back inside his shell.  I closely checked his shell and it was completely intact, with no cracks or chips, he was just fine. I figured he must have wandered out of the pond and onto the road and had probably got knocked over on his back by a car and couldn't get flipped back over again. After several minutes, we said our good-byes by the edge of the pond, but not before I wished him good luck and warned him to stay off the road. I'm glad I was able to save the little turtles life, but I'm especially glad that he didn't bite the hand that fed saved him!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Night Out

I had a really enjoyable evening on Wednesday with a friend in Washington DC that started with a delicious dinner at Washington's oldest bar and restaurant, Old Ebbitt Grill.  It's said that Theodore Roosevelt used to dine at this restaurant which is beautifully decorated.  We didn't get a chance to see it, but our waiter mentioned that on display by the main bar is a letter written by Buffalo Bill in 1886 to a judge in Arkansas about two horse thieves he captured on Old Ebbitt Grill stationary.
After dinner we went to a concert at the Warner Theater that was built in 1924 as a movie palace presenting live vaudeville and first run silent movies. We were there to see one my friend's favorite British comedians, Eddie Izzard. Have you heard of him?  
I'll admit that I hadn't.  
~Before the concert that was sold out~
I found his comedy routine unique, creative and entertaining all at once! 
I'll also admit that I don't know if I would go and see Eddie Izzard again, I might. However it really was a fun evening spent with a good friend, that recharged my inner-batteries that have lately been running on empty.