Monthly Archives: May 2015

Apathy Warrior


I decided to title this piece Apathy Warrior but it could just as easily be titled Having a Melt Down. It’s a fine line. I suppose one leads to the other. This is my journey.

Above you see Sassy and me. Sassy, affectionately referred to as Miss Sassy Pants, sometimes as Miss Bossy Pants. I love this little girl. She is filled with spunk and character, the likes of which you won’t often see. She is one of our sheltie rescue dogs that got returned last week. I thought her new home was a great fit. But apparently not good enough. Due to a behavioral incident she was returned. I find it suspicious that her “family” is now going to be doing long term travelling. That is neither here nor there. The policy of our rescue, as is the policy of most rescues, is that no matter the circumstance, we take our dogs back. So back she came.

As it worked out, she needed to go to another home for fostering, rather than ours. In the photo I am waiting to turn Sassy over to her new foster parents. She figured out she was going somewhere else and cried during the drive to the transfer spot. Hence I cried during the drive to the transfer spot. Once I turned the car off to wait for the other person, Sassy became nearly hysterical. She cranked up the crying and bit the seat a couple times to displace her hysteria. I pulled her onto my lap to wait and you can see she is anxiously looking out the car window.  Now be aware that the foster home she is going to is a wonderful place. The couple is loving and two of the finest people I know. I am proud to call them friends. But still. This is one of my babies. Every dog that comes through our rescue is one of my own. I deal with their adoptions by pretending that they are still my dogs and are just going to stay somewhere else. That someone else is just keeping them for me. And that really is the case. You never stop loving them. How fortunate I am to have such a large family!


When it was time to move Sassy to the other car, she shut down. She knew she was getting ditched again. I bent over the seat to say good bye to her and she was non-reactive. She looked straight ahead, wouldn’t make eye contact with me, and didn’t move. This was her way of dealing. So I just left. I thought it was easier  for her in the long run rather than me making a fuss. Thank goodness she was going to stay in loving, caring place. But she is still my little girl.

And as I drove away, that’s when the tears turned into meltdown. How could I live in such a world where there are dogs without homes and people don’t want them? And the ones that come into rescues and shelters are the lucky ones. There are so many more that are nameless and unrecognized and suffering out in the world. I am really not cut out to live in this place my mind said. A world where people kill even each other, that is filled with hate and violence and unrest. We should have compassion for each other and not do each other harm and intentionally cause pain. If we can’t do this for our fellow humans, what chance do God’s poor creatures have? And then I saw the road kill. First, a dead rabbit on the road. A few miles later a dead opossum. I have noticed road kill abounds in the spring when the animals start moving about. No one can have a meltdown like a rescue worker in the throes of emotion. Our very way of life, driving automobiles, causes death I thought.

As I got nearer to home I told myself you really need to get a grip. This is not good. You are not functioning well. You can wallow in this or you can do something about it. So I pondered, what can I do about this situation? How can I make it better? How can I be an instrument of change? Well, I knew that I was making a difference for these dogs. One of Sassy’s new foster parents said that at least she got returned to us and didn’t end up in a shelter out West where we would have had no idea what happened to her. See, I told you these were good folks! I can save the next one, and the next one, and…

By deciding to do something, anything, I became an Apathy Warrior. I will not tolerate the way things are. I will take action to try to make the world a better place. For these dogs, and for those people I encounter as I go on my life’s journey. When my daughter was in high school and working at a fast food drive-thru I told her, you never know if you might change someone’s entire day by smiling at them. A kind word or gesture could change the course of their day. I am fortunate to have a daughter that actually listens to me and repeated that phrase back a few years later. And so I issue this challenge to you. Will you also become an Apathy Warrior? We can have an Apathy Army and we just might change the world.

Sassy in a Sunbeam

Why I Prefer to be at Home


Earlier this week I talked about why I like working four 10 hour days as opposed to the normal five 8 hour days. Today I am going to show you. Most of the time at work I am inside without access to windows. I don’t usually know if it is hot or cold, or sunny or rainy. These pictures will share some of what I see when I am at home this Friday.  Above is the clematis which is blooming early this year. It is quite spectacular.

Wygelia and Rhododendron

As I take a tour around the yard I see the Wygelia and Rhododendron in bloom beside the house. The light and dark pink complement each other nicely.

Red Buckeye Blossoms

We have two red buckeye trees and they are currently covered with these stunning red blooms.

False Indigo

The false indigo blooms in several places on our property. The extremely cold winters have been hard on it but there is still some left.

Herb Garden

I just finished weeding and mulching my herb Garden so it’s looking good. Here you can see the thyme, oergano, catnip, and globe basil in the urn.


The irises are blooming early this year. These plants have been moved and split many times. I dug them up and started moving them with me two houses ago.


These are columbine and they are  really something this year. I have moved them around the yard too.

Shelby and Baxter

And here are Shelby and Baxter waiting for me to take them in the house for lunch after being outside for a couple hours enjoying the beautiful weather. Who wouldn’t want an extra day at home with all of this?

Early Mornings


This is the time I arrive at work in the mornings now. That is a.m. as you can probably tell because it is very dark. We were given the option of working 4 x 10 hour days. The catch is we must start at 5:30 a.m. if we want to do it. We are fortunate to get a 30 day trial first to see if we like it before committing to the new schedule.

I am surprised to say that I love it. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and as before my schedule involves mostly me taking care of the animals and a few minutes getting myself ready. Then I go outside into the dark. And surprisingly, the magic begins. First I see the stars. And then in the peaceful solitude I begin to hear the birds. As I get in the car and drive down the road, the peace continues. I am one of only a handful of cars that is on the road. No more cursing the school bus that pulled out in front of me or the driver that thinks he should go 20 mph below the posted speed limit. And I can still hear the birds. Not many other morning noises to mask them at this hour. I am alone with my thoughts. I find joy in this. I no longer turn the radio on in the morning. I am free to ponder life’s challenges and figure out ways to save the world. I’ll let you know how that goes.


As it is so early, this is how much coffee I take with me to work now. But hey, I need some caffeine for energy if I am going to save the world! Maybe I’ll just start off with a less lofty goal and change the world. I’ll have to work my way up to saving it.

Our Dogs at Sanctuary Acres

Phoebe in Archway

Do you know how in some families they have one particular spot that they like to use in portraits? In some families it’s in front of the fire place or maybe near a particular tree. For me, with the dogs, it is in front of our garden archway. So this evening I set out to get a portrait of each of our dogs with the urns that I had newly planted for summer. Above is our greyhound Phoebe who is 9. She is our prima dona although you can’t see her bling very well.

Baxter in Archway

This is Baxter who is 6. He is humoring me by posing with the flowers. He thinks he is too masculine for this but is confident enough to pull it off. He is a black lab/doberman mix and currently the lone male in our pack.

Nikki in Archway

This is Nikki who is 9 and a very tiny sheltie. If you see that deer in the headlights look, it is because not only did I make her get off the couch but I made her go outside as well.  Oh, the horror! Her nickname is Nikki Pouncer Pants.

Roxanne in Archway

This is Roxanne. She is an oversized sheltie who is 15. If you’ve been following the blog, you might remember that just two weeks ago I thought Roxanne was ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge. She had stopped eating and was very weak. Well look at her now!  She’s tough as nails.

Shelby in Archway

This is Shelby and she is 5. She is my certified therapy dog and always looking for a job to do. If you don’t have one for her, she’ll find her own.

It would be nice to have the photo with all of the dogs in the same picture. Maybe taller ones in back and the rest in front. That will have to wait for another day.  Maybe when my husband is home!

Spring Garden Walk ll


The first plant on this evening’s walk  is right outside the door on the porch. This new azalea is one of my Mother’s Day presents. I still have to decide where to plant it. It is on the porch for the night because we are under a frost warning.


This petunia was also a Mother’s Day present and is also on the porch hiding from what I  hope will be the last  hurrah of winter.


As we step off the porch we are greeted with the most delightful smell. The lily-of-the-valley are just beginning to open up but already the perfume in the air is divine.



We have two types of ferns. One is a Boston fern and the other I do not know the name of but it has flat leaves. They are in various places around the property.


This is a petite little plant that I think is called candy tuft.


Many of the notable plants right now are actually trees and shrubs. These blooms are on our mountain ash trees that we have been cultivating for several years. They came from young sprouts from grandma’s trees and this is the first year they have bloomed.


These cute little flowers belong to my blueberry bushes. Although the bushes are still tiny, only in their second year, it looks like there will be enough berries to make something with.



These are the lilacs outside my kitchen window. They also smell divine. I never realized that I have such a passion for plants that stimulate my olfactory senses but apparently I do.


I also appreciate the scent of this wild honeysuckle that grows on the edge of our pine grove.


And this is our majestic Japanese red maple. If I am home when the power company comes to trim branches, I  beg them to spare it.

Stay tuned for our next stroll around the yard later this spring when the landscape changes once again!

Duncan-A Good Dog


Duncan has been gone from me for two years today. It is the second anniversary of his passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. He was my reliable companion and I could take him anywhere.

This was not always the case. In his earlier years I used to refer to him as the sheltie from hell. But he grew into his epitaph-A Good Dog. As a young dog he never stopped. He was in constant motion. He wore me down to the point that by late evening I had to crate him or leash him to the coffee table leg so I knew where he was. Otherwise he was chewing, taking things or finding some other way to get into trouble. And he just wore me out by that time of day. I tried to put him in the attached garage for a short time so that I could get some things done in the house, thinking he could still run around and get some exercise. He got some exercise all right. By starting to chew through the dry wall to get in the house and be closer to me. This resulted in my leashing him to the coffee table. He was inside but I knew where he was. The coffee table still bares his teeth marks and has a couple of missing corners but otherwise it did survive his younger days. He and his cohort, Dakota, got into their share of mayhem too. Dakota is my brother’s dog but we all lived together for a few years. Duncan and Dakota were very nearly the same age.Dakota and DuncanThey had the best times roughhousing and playing together. Here they are about a year old and taking a pause from playing to look at me. They would play so hard and for so long that they would move the couch from near the center of the room to up against the wall. Duncan would also leave footprints on the wall at about my shoulder height from using it as a spring board as he leapt around the room. Although I didn’t think so at the time, now I look back and see those as good times. We are fortunate to still have Dakota in our lives. Every time I see Dakota, it’s like getting to spend a few minutes with a little piece of Duncan.

As Duncan matured, which did take several years, he became an exemplary dog. He participated in 4-H groups where I was an advisor and he learned to become obedient. He became more and more bonded to me and looked to me for direction and we became a team. Until one day when he was 7 years old, he became a certified therapy dog. We visited people and Duncan brought joy wherever he went. I could give him the “visit” command and point in the direction of someone and he would go socialize. Some people think that a good therapy dog is born and not made. While not every dog can be a therapy dog, I have found that you can make one. Duncan visited because it made me happy and his goal in this world was to make me happy.

Duncan and I were the ultimate team. We attended 4-H events, the County Fairs, parades, various residential facilities, and many, many public education events for Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. He attended all family and holiday events with us. (Although we did have to put the trash can on top of the refrigerator because he learned to work the spring loaded handle and could open it.) We could communicate our mutual affection by gazing into each other’s eyes.


This dog went from being my greatest challenge to my greatest gift. I love him beyond life itself. Although I am happy, Duncan would certainly want me to be, there is a small part of my soul that is missing. It went with him because he became a part of me. His memory is with me as I go about my life. We walk a certain trail and I remember this is where Duncan and I last hiked together or spent our last evenings together. He is with me still. I wish for each of you, that you may one day experience such a special bond.


Spring Garden Walk and Memories


The weather was pleasant with sunshine and the temperature was perfect so I decided a walk around the gardens was in order. I started by checking on the trillium. It achieved its personal best for number of blooms this year at six. The trilliums grow in our pine grove, enjoying the shade of the  tall trees.


Then it was on to check out the hemlock nearby. It is doing great. We purchased it when it was no more than a small twig from the County Extension Office, and have enjoyed watching it grow from a small Charlie Brown type Christmas tree to its current self.


The ground cover throughout the pine grove is covered with Vinca vine also known as myrtle. It has these pretty bluish purple little blossoms at this time of year.


Growing near the house we have a viburnum. The bush doesn’t look like much, although it does have these cute little flowers, but ohhh the smell. Heavenly! You can smell its glorious perfume from the door of the house. I wish there was a way to record smell so that I could share it with you. Maybe that will be the next wave of the future.


Also near the house we have the woodland bleeding heart. Named for its heart shaped little flowers.


And of course the requisite spring tulips.


And continuing on the walk we see these the tiny, white violets nearly everywhere. They grow up in the lawn and so fall prey to the mower, but still they always seem to be there.


The flowering almond is resplendent with many blooms right now. This little tree always makes me think of my beloved sheltie Duncan. Every evening, during his last days, we would take a walk to enjoy our time together and I have pictures of him in front of this tree. The tree is beautiful by its own merits but the memory of Duncan makes it even sweeter. He grew from being my greatest challenge to my greatest gift.

Duncan Almond

And so I will leave you with the memory of Duncan who has been gone from me two years next week. You can see his therapy dog tag in the photo. He was the light of my life but he also brought joy wherever he went and made the world a better place. Rest well my sweet boy.

Pack Walk


The day was so beautiful yesterday that we had to go for a walk. The temperature was perfect and the sun was shining. We went to a dedicated walking and biking path near our house. Phoebe, Baxter, and Shelby are so good that they get to walk off lead. Unless a bicycle or other people with dogs come along, then we leash them back up, lest the others become afraid. This is Shelby ‘ s first year of being reliable off lead and she is quite proud, as am I.


Nikki does walk on lead. She is so skittish that she needs the security of the leash. Even though she is small, she is fast and I wouldn’t want to try to catch her. I  just slip the leash through one of my belt loops and that is enough to keep her with us. Alas, poor Roxanne stays home. She is now only able to walk across the house and that takes a while.


So this was our view as we walked. It’s a spillway and reservoir that was constructed during WW II. Often I think of all the houses that must be under the water. The land was previously farms until the land was used for this purpose. But soon I am back to watching the dogs and appreciating how much fun we all have on the  pack walk.