Tag Archives: Love

A Bit of Pandemic Relief

Snowman
We can build a snowman

Today provided a bit of relief in my pandemic world. My husband and I drove up to visit my nieces and my brother and his wife. We met outside and stayed socially distant for a brief visit of about 40 minutes. This is Ohio and it was cold.

What do you do on an outdoor winter visit? You have a snowball fight and build a snowman! It was rejuvenating for me to watch the girls run and play, and to hear them laugh. The sound of their joyful laughter makes me laugh too.

The drive there took as long as the visit lasted but it was so worth it! And I scored a pack of hazelnut chocolate Oreos out of the deal. In my pre-Covid life when I would babysit the girls, I would always sample each of the flavors of Oreos on hand during my visit. Since it has been some time since I have been able to deplete my brother’s stock, he gave me some Oreos. No wonder I love him. (Truth be told, I would love him even if he were Oreo-less. Don’t tell!)

It was great to see my sister-in-law too. She is so nice and kind and thoughtful. God, I miss her.

I am blessed to have wonderful family that I truly enjoy spending time with. For now, that time must come in bits and pieces, but this will not always be so. Next goal, see my wonderful daughter. I am missing her too.

But for today, building a snowman and having a snowball fight is enough. Take joy where you can find it.

A Memory Captured

Super Weasel

This is a sketch I drew of one of our foster dogs a number of years ago. I know it’s no great piece of art, but it captured a memory.

This was a foster dog that came to us with the name of Lawrence. Our neighbor Larry had recently passed away and I felt odd standing in our yard repeatedly saying “Lawrence, do you have to pee?” Not to mention, it was a formal name for a one year old sheltie. He had a vey slender build and was always jumping up into the air. He especially liked to jump up and hit me in the butt with both his front feet when I would turn around to walk away. I often turned and said “You little weasel.” This eventually led to me affectionately calling him by the moniker Weasel.

Hence, this sketch with “W” on his front that I call Super Weasel.

He was a wonderful little dog that I loved dearly. I still remember tearing up when we left him at his new home. He went to a great family that also loved him dearly. He was renamed Scotty and became best friend and companion to a young girl. He became a 4-H dog and went on to run lots of agility. I couldn’t have asked for a better home for him.

Scotty left us to go to the Rainbow Bridge much too soon. I am still happily acquainted with his family, and that young girl is now an adult who has since adopted another sheltie from our Rescue.

Improvement Is Relative

Meme from Never A Ruff Day

I posted this meme on Facebook earlier and it got me thinking. You know what’s coming. I was thinking about Zekie and our struggles. I have had pretty good results with modifying behaviors in other dogs, both our own and foster dogs. Not so with Zekie.

He’s been with us almost three years. As my husband said, “Of course you kept Zekie because he’s crazy and you must have a crazy dog at all times.” I can’t say that’s not an accurate statement. I love a dog that worships and needs me.

That being said, Zekie has shown improvement over the past three years. But he is still so far from being a normal or average dog that I have given up hope that he ever will be. I have not, however, given up hope that his behavior will continue to improve.

Zekie has many trying behaviors that are similar to that of my heart dog Duncan. Duncan did not become a dog that I could rely on and trust his behavior until he was about 7 or 8 years old. Zekie is now 7. Here are a few behaviors that both dogs exhibited at some time:

  • Waiting at the door or window for me to return, whether I have gone outside to the mailbox, or to the grocery store. Time is irrelevant.
  • Following me from room to room. To be fair, many of our dogs do this. I have not gone to the bathroom alone in over 35 years. Lol…
  • Taking and eating or chewing things from the kitchen counter. i.e. wooden spoons, plastic containers, mugs, and also actual food. This is why we have swinging doors on our kitchen that can be bungeed shut.
  • Opening the doors under the kitchen sink to get into the garbage can. This results in a wooden spoon between the cabinet door handles so they are barricaded.
  • Leash reactivity-Lunging and barking at passersby on walks. With Duncan, the problem was just bicycles and we overcame this. With Zekie, it is bicyclists, joggers, and especially other dogs. After 3 years of training he has learned to be ok with human walkers most of the time, especially if they are friendly and greet us. The Covid masks have set this back a little.
  • Opening the dog food can which contains a 40 lb. bag of food and eating said contents. This resulted in us keeping a bungee cord across the top of the can.
  • Stealing trash out of all cans. This results in the cans in every room of our home having lids. Duncan learned to operate the ones with levers or pedals in short order. We had to keep them up high. Grandma would put hers on top of the refrigerator when we visited. This not only applies to cans with food, but all trash cans. Kleenex, food wrappers, and other items seem to have equal appeal.
  • Barking at cars that drive by, especially when out in the fenced pasture. They always go away so it works, right?
  • Trying to chew or claw through doors and walls to get to where I am.
  • Excessive barking at unwarranted sounds. I suppose what is an acceptable sound is in the eye of the beholder.
  • The need to sleep in a crate in our bedroom so as not to bark endlessly because I am too far away. The crate is needed to keep them out of trouble during the night.

I’m sure there are many other similarities. Duncan was easier to deal with because he could be crated so that I could have a time out or go away. He did well in a crate and was content to chew a bone or nap.

Zekie does not do well in a crate. He chews out of wire crates and Vari-Kennels in short order. He drools so much that his body is drenched in saliva and it pools in the bottom of the crate. This causes him to drink for minutes when he is released resulting in his frantic need to go out and pee a little while later. We tried prescription drugs, homeopathic medicines and herbs, and behavioral modification. None helped. Some made it worse. He has broken off all four canine teeth and some molars in his attempts to get out of the crates.

Now Zekie has a crate made of aircraft quality steel and marine grade butterfly latches. He must be crated when we go away for his own safety and the safety of our house. It is entirely possibly that he would go throw a window, or worse, to look for us. We try not to go away often if Zekie can’t stay with us or one of us can’t stay at home.

Still Zekie has shown improvement in the years he has been here. This is the boy I love.

Zekie, the boy I love.

A Heart of Gold

This is Maizie. She was our foster dog seven years ago and passed to the Rainbow Bridge after spending a little over a year with us. She had a heart of gold. Following is what I wrote at that time.

Dear Person Who Abandoned this Senior Dog,

Maizie was found by the pound and when they sent you a letter to come and get her, you did not come. She spent 30 days in the pound kennel waiting for you before the efforts of two rescue groups brought her to our house as a foster dog. Today we discovered that she has kidney failure and will live out the rest of her life with us however long that may be. What lesson am I supposed to learn from this? Perhaps to have compassion for you and not be judgemental? I will work on that.

I know that I have been blessed to know this dog who is sweet, loving, and grateful for every bit of attention. She smiles at us constantly and is one of the happiest dogs I have seen. Occassionally she will try to play and has a small, joyful hop to her step. Our lives have been enriched by knowing this kind dog.

My dreams will be sweeter knowing that I have helped and loved this girl. May you be able to sleep at all.

Spirits of Peace

I love this photo. It is of Lacey and Merlin sharing couch time. Both are gone now, but their spirit of peace lives on. Both were strays of a sort.

Lacey came from my family/friends. She was born to an Amish cat that gave birth in their barn. I asked if I could have her because she reminded me of my beloved Grey Cat who had recently passed. Lacey turned out to be nothing like Grey Cat, but she was a great Cat in her own right.

Merlin came running down our dirt road one day and stopped near our driveway. I had recently gone to a large greyhound event and wanted a greyhound. Wish granted! Merlin was probably a greyhound-lurcher. He may have had a bit of hunting dog in his background but he looked like a greyhound that wasn’t quite long enough.

Both were wonderful additions to the family and provided many years of love.

More Than Cookies

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the many benefits of being retired is that I have time to really prepare for and enjoy the holidays. Not since I was in college have I had the time to enjoy baking and decorating the way that I am this season. And for me, a large part of that means baking!

The Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies are a family favorite. I have never had them actually last until Christmas. And this year promises to be no exception. But I did buy enough ingredients that I will be able to bake a second batch in time for the actual holiday.

Russian Tea Cakes

I came across a recipe for the Russian Tea Cakes when I was in late high school or maybe when I started college. These were a personal favorite of my mother’s and she always looked forward to me making them. I have also heard them called Snowballs. By either name, they are delicious.

Coconut Cookies

I love these Coconut Cookies at any time of year. They have a nice melt in your mouth, caramel taste because they contain both white and brown sugar. They are not necessarily a holiday cookie but I was on a reminiscent binge as I was baking.

Muddy Buddies

I did throw something new into the mix this year because I have been given Muddy Buddies as a gift and they are tasty. The recipe is not much of a secret as it is brought to us by the folks that make Chex cereal. Just check the box for the recipe. Does this mean that Muddy Buddies are a breakfast food? I vote yes!

At the rate we are going through these cookies, I anticipate baking some other kinds too. Maybe Aunt Clara’s Molasses Crinkles or Aunt Jane’s Candy Cane shaped cookies. When I was a kid we had two people who often gave us trays of assorted types of cookies as a Christmas gift. They were always much appreciated. Even then I knew what a special gift they were because of how much work it was to make this many kinds of cookies and because they were a labor of love. They are more than just cookies. To me, they represent thoughtfulness, caring, and wanting to share with those you care about.

That is why I am such a Christmas girl. Each year, I remember the traditions and kindnesses shared by so many people in my life. I want to relive them as well as share them others. Merry Christmas One and All!

Blessed In a Big Way

This face. This boy loves me so much that I can forgive him nearly anything. Zeke is what we in Rescue call “a handful “.

He has chewed his way out of multiple crates. The guaranteed one made of aircraft steel is still holding up. He has chewed up multiple metal bowls. He chased a jogger. He is not a dog for the uninitiated. And so of course I adopted him after a few months of fostering.

This has meant a two year hiatus on our fostering. It was worth it to save his life.

Zekie has shown improvement in his nearly two years with us. His leash reactivity is much better (although not 100%) with walkers and bicyclists. He is still reactive with other dogs when out walking. Oddly enough, he is ok with dogs that come to our home when he is not on leash.

His obedience skills continue to improve. In fact, he is very obedient. You just have to give commands all the time to keep him out of trouble.

Zekie is a loyal dog and one affectionate boy. He follows me everywhere. He waits for me at the door if I go outside. If he is not crated because someone else is home, he sits on the back of the couch looking out the window at the driveway awaiting my return.

This dog does everything in a big way. His excitement for walks is over the top. His desire for treats is intense. His drive for attention is beyond his control. And his ability to love is endless.

I am blessed.

A Wonderful Gift

I had a wonderful 4th of July holiday last week for numerous reasons. Not the least of which was my brother had this piece of art commissioned as a surprise gift for me. There was no occasion, my brother is just thoughtful and awesome! The work is of my dog Duncan, who I still miss immensely and will always be a part of me even though he has been gone for some years now.

The drawing was done from one of my favorite photos of Duncan. You can see the bond we shared reflected in his eyes.

The piece now resides in my office at work so I can enjoy it there. The portrait was done by a family member in my brother’s extended family. Thanks Chris Whitaker! I would recommend Chris if you are interested in something similar of one of your own furry or feathered family members. He has an Etsy Shop called WHITSwhiskers.

Hope your days are blessed with such thoughtful and talented family as well.

It Takes a Village

One of my first impressions of Nash, besides the fear, was the smell. Nash had such a doggie odor that after working with him I would smell the same way. I had to hang my coat out in the hall at work rather than near my desk. I noticed nobody wanted to pet him much because it involved washing your hands every time you touched him. So, on his second evening with us I decided to give him a bath. You can imagine how that went. Nash literally thought I was trying to kill him. I felt so bad for him fighting for his life that I almost gave up, but I didn’t want him to think he could get his way by throwing a fit in the future. So, I sang him stupid songs and washed away. His struggles became less after a while. Luckily, he didn’t have too much fur at this point, so it went pretty fast. He really enjoyed the towel drying at the end.  Needless to say, the bathroom and I were both covered in water and I was exhausted and sore.

I took Nash for a walk the first day after work and it went about how you would expect. He couldn’t walk in a straight line and kept tangling me in the leash. Every so often he grabbed the end of the choke chain in his mouth and tried to get free. And he was furiously trying to eat all the snow he could like he thought he would never have water again. All in all, it could have gone a lot worse. We made it a little over a mile. It did nothing to calm him down though.

During the first days when I would take Nash out of his crate and try to pet him he would constantly jump, lunge, and try to kiss. I mean he didn’t ever stop trying. After the bath incident he actually laid still for several minutes as long as I kept petting him. It was a fight to get the choker and leash on and off of him every time I needed to take him out. And getting him back in the crate involved forcibly putting him in, which sometimes involved wounds (scratches) to the person involved. I knew he would take more work than any other dog I had fostered but that he would also be the most rewarding.

After a couple of weeks with us Nash was still neurotic and needy. I thought he loved everyone but that was not the case. He wanted to chase off the furnace repair man, didn’t like a friend of ours who came over (a large man) and attacked my brother’s dog when he came to spend the weekend. On the other hand, he liked my daughter when she came home from college for the weekend and liked my sister-in-law the two times he met her. And on the day my brother’s dog, Dakota, came I got him out on leash when I came home, and he was fine with Dakota. They never had another problem. Nash has met a number of visitors to our house since then and after he warms up to them he is fine

As time goes by I am sure he was abused. We still can’t pick him up without him going into self preservation mode. Sometimes I just pick him up anyway and let him put his mouth on me since there are things I have to do. Like put him in a crate to ride in the car or give shots. Oh, and anytime your foot comes into contact with him which can be often since he follows so close he runs into your feet, he squeals like you are trying to hurt him. He also has the strong food drive that you sometimes see in dogs that went without for a long time. He will try to take food from any of our seven dogs. And if we are eating you better believe we keep an eye on our food.

Nash, or Nashville as we like to call him, has been with us for a couple of months now. He has come a long way since the early days although he still has a way to go. His frantic kissing and attention seeking are down to about the first 15 minutes after I come home. Of course, he is willing to sit on my lap for the entire evening if I will let him. And you need to be careful or he will jump on your lap anytime. On two occasions this resulted in me wearing an entire cup of coffee. These days Nash runs in his crate eagerly and turns around with his head sticking out waiting for the biscuit he knows is coming. And a couple weekends ago I took him on a three mile walk at a nearby state park where we passed other walkers with dogs and some bicyclists. He circled the leash around me a few times but was otherwise well behaved. By evening when we are relaxing if I tell Nash to get down, he will go lay quietly on a cushion in the corner. Of course, anytime I make eye contact with him he comes running to see what I want, and I have to tell him to go lay down again. But he has come so far.

Nash is ready for a home with the “right person” who will have the patience and understanding to continue working with him. If someone with the right skills doesn’t come along in the near future, we will keep working with him until he is ready for a home. I say “we” because it is a family affair. Everyone in our family has a hand in Nash’s transition and so it will need to be with his new family.

I wrote this tale about Nashville’s escapades in 2009 when he came into Rescue. He was adopted by a wonderful family with two children later that summer and they adored him. I remember sobbing uncontrollably as I drove away from leaving him with his new family. Even though it was a great match, I had invested so much of myself in him that I loved him dearly. The family did comment that he hoarded cans of food in his crate. He must have somehow thought that he would need this food to survive if times ever got tough again. I don’t know how he planned to open them. Nashville was one of those dogs that as a coping mechanism, I always considered to be mine and that another family was just taking care of him for me. Thanks Sara, for his initial transport to us. It takes a village…