Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What Happened During The Quiet Year

Also Not a Dog

One of the greatest dogs ever
Once upon a time there was a midwesterner with a love of dogs and a savant knowledge of breeds who decided to start a dog-blog. In the process of blogging she met other animal people and other bloggers - sometimes there were overlaps between those communities sometimes not - and she made some online friends that she is the richer for knowing.

Gracie, the early years:
Her face is now nearly white

A pup when we started and now a senior

In following other bloggers she noted that with time their blogs tended to change, or end, as their artistic natures and interests took them in new directions. A few, who had very focused themes for their blogs, did continue blogging but just as many blogs had writers who moved on for a variety of reasons.

Emotional Support Animal extraordinaire

The dog blogger herself posted less and less often, until the nearly year long season of silence. In reflection, perhaps some of that quiet grew out of the loss of two very good dogs, in particular the sweet-souled collie Jenny.

Jenny, who's face remains the writer's avatar, helped inspire the beginning of the blog and perhaps took some of the motivation and inspiration for the blog with her when she passed.

Other things, though were also happening in the writer's life.

Writers write, and when they spend less time writing blogs they have more time for writing other things. A books series was begun and continues to grow. (And as with most writing, the more stories that are written, the better they get.)

             Amazon: Stagecoach                                Daughters   

                Preacher                                        Draft cover, book 4

Of course there was work (the kind that pays the bills.)
When the blogger began she worked with fewer than 200 students with disabilities, facilitating their education by ensuring they received necessary services. Now she works with over 400. It's become such a heavy caseload that some welcome part-time help is being hired to pitch in. Working with this many young people meant working outside of office hours, which could also impact the availability of time for blogging.

And then there are the places that an abiding love of animals takes a person who loves more than dogs. 

What began with one rabbit grew to three.
One of the rabbits was a boy and a Houdini: the inevitable happened.

Percy Sr.at 4 months and Percy Jr. at 4 weeks

The sometimes-blogger did not want to take her site down because people continued to use it as a reference point (which it was meant to be.) The personality of a breed of dog is slow to change and thus the information contained in many of the posts remains useful.

And honestly, can there ever be too many pictures of dogs in hats available on the internet?


Inspired by a friend who has faithfully blogged for years, usually everyday - every day!- this blogger decided that perhaps she could have a more modest goal of blogging once a week. Because there are still breeds to write about and there are always newly hatted dogs to share pictures of.

So that will become our fairly modest goal for the next year. We'll see how it goes. 

Hopefully, some old connections will be re-established and some new connections will be made.
And in honor of the old being new again, some adoptables who though older, require fresh homes.

      Greta : Houghton, MI

                                                                        Bennett:  Ashland, WI 

Tommy:Oconto, WI  

  Alvin:Sparta, WI

Linus: Blaine, MN

Lady Bird: Minneapolis, MN

Maggie: Muskegon, MI

Billy: Huntley, IL

Sunny: Chicago, IL

As of this writing there are about 10,000 dogs listed on Petfinder looking for new homes. The above are a small, Midwestern sampling of the seniors looking for a soft landing after, for whatever reason, losing their original home(s). Some of these sweet faces have been waiting a long time and some have had more than one person give up on them. Let's see if we can assist them in finding permanent placements. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

This is not a dog and other updates.

Is there anyone who hasn't been incredibly busy lately?
It seems to me that with all the stress and strife the world has been going through lately that many of us have been having trouble keeping up with everything we'd like to keep up with. For me, several things have come out of this:

I haven't been blogging - obviously.
I did write another book (see below).
I brought a rabbit into my life; that's actually a weird response to stress I've exhibited before.

First, the newest member of the family - Percival.

Percy is an English Lop, currently about 6 months old. In rabbit terms this means he's entering his 'teen months' the time when most rabbits are given up because they get naughty at this age.
English Lops are larger buns, with dog like personalities and very large ears.

Percy does seem to have an identity crises because he lives with dogs and cats (we're eventually going to bring another rabbit into the family to help with this.)

He steals cat food (he didn't get the vegan memo). Then again, the dogs steal his greens every chance they get.

When he's really happy, he tends to look like he's dead.

In other family news, Vinnie has a new vest, specially made with a pocket on the back so that he can assist me by carrying a pill box.

The pill box is small and metal and when Vinnie shakes while wearing his vest, it sounds like he's a rattle.

He will not pose with his new vest on, so I do not have an even semi-nice pic of him wearing it. Sorry. He says modeling is not in his contract.

And finally, as mentioned above, I have finished the 3rd book in a series I'm working on. I expect it will be available on Amazon by the end of next week. As a Kindle it should be $2.99.

During this weekend I'm going to do my best to spend time catching up on other people's blogs. I hope you're all well and finding your own ways to cope with the stress, anxiety, depression that seems to have enveloped so much of the world this winter. May this summer season bring renewed hope to us all.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Dogs and Autism

Gracie ignoring camera and person.
Learning the alphabet was hard work for me; once I learned it I found it had a lot of practical applications and my attachment to it causes me to prefer the title of this particular post to be Autism and Dogs. But I also have an attachment to trying to use language to attempt to communicate as clearly as possible.

If I called this post Autism and Dogs, I figured at least someone, somewhere would see that and click in, hoping to find a post about autistic dogs. That isn't today's topic and I'm loathe to mislead readers. (I am thinking about if my dog might be autistic though, so that post might happen later).

This post needs to be called Dogs and Autism. Sorry alphabetical order. As handy as you can be, sometimes you get in the way of clear communication.

I may be quirky.
Part of me likes order, guidelines, clear expectations. Part of me likes living with an English Bull Terrier. There's room for some psychoanalysis there, I'm pretty sure. For those of you who do not live with Bull Terriers, let me digress for a moment.

Usually when I pull out the camera Gracie ignores it. She can ignore anything when she is of a mind to do so. Occasionally she even poses for the camera. Today, wanting to post updated pictures of the crew, I got the camera out expecting that as usually happens, the biggest problem would be getting Lil to not stick her nose into the lens as I tried to capture her image.

Gracie lounging on the couch prior to noticing the camera.

Gracie leaping up and running for her kennel after noticing the camera and deciding she wasn't in a photogenic mood.

As soon as the camera was put away, Gracie came out and climbed up on the couch next to me, as if to say, "I've decided to forgive you, despite the fact you were acting like paparazzi - and in my very own home."

Meanwhile, Lil sat politely and allowed her picture to be taken without sticking her nose in the lens. Also uncommon, but less dramatic.

Dogs have been constant companions and very literally, saving graces in my life. Like so many people, there were moments in the past where the best reason I could find for staying attached to this world was a concern for what would happen to my dogs if I suddenly were gone. I've long been drawn to the quirky, misunderstood dogs that have trouble finding homes. It seems likely that my own life, as a quirky, misunderstood person, allowed me to empathize with these animals. In fact, I have always found the behavior of dogs specifically, and animals in general, easier to interpret and understand than the behavior of other humans.

Gateway to fitting in
(with non-judgemental, working-class drunks)

As a child, I found other children...juvenile. As I aged and my family moved, I studied other people as an alien trying to learn the natives' habits well enough to not immediately be noticed as alien. Their dress habits were were often uncomfortable; their talk skimmed the surface as did their interests, broad and shallow.  One night I gathered with a group of 'peers' so we could celebrate our graduation from the mandated school system by drinking. I drank a bottle of lemon gin and fit in, the most I ever had. I had an epiphany, 'maybe this is really all there is to passing as 'normal' - copy whatever behavior the group is doing - go along and don't say anything.' Also learned - drunk people are easier to get along with, as long as everyone is drinking and right up until the drunk fights start.

While I was less comfortable with drinkers than with dogs, I hung out with the drinkers for some years. Then I had another epiphany. I'd rather be abnormal and slightly alone versus spending my life with drunks. A choice I've only regretted on a handful of occasions when being drunk and oblivious suddenly sounds like a preferable state of affairs to being all too keenly aware of the pain in my immediate world that I can do nothing about: both my own and other people's.

Vinnie waiting in his nest until I quit writing
After decades of living among the neuro-typical people of the world (don't worry, we've developed that label for y'all out of fondness, not judgement) I've learned to cope by making sure I have down time everyday, some of it spent surrounded by dogs.

Vinnie the chihuahua-mix is the perfect size for holding when I don't need to feel like I'm buried under a weighted blanket; the big dogs work admirably at times when I do.

And that is the upside for me, I realize, in living with an unpredictable Bull Terrier, a breed that also has zero sense of personal body space and a bizarre need to be touching a person when a person is in the room.

Gracie leaning against me while I blog - her usual post while I write

Some of you may have reached this point wondering, okay, but what does that have to do with Dogs and Autism. This post isn't for you and that's okay - the majority of the internet is filled with content that is designed for you. I'm pretty sure I saw a post on Facebook about a celebrity that you can go read right now. And I'm sure you know someone who is about to post a picture of a meal they're eating - go ahead - go check that out.

For those of you who do see the connection, hang in there. Fitting in is like drinking a bottle of lemon gin; it starts out okay. Eventually though you have to wonder if the type of community it earns you is really what you want, or if you aren't better off finding a smaller group with interests that don't need to be faked. Sometimes, there won't even really be enough of you who share the interest to count as a 'group' - that's okay too. Don't let the advertising fool you. It really is better to have one or two people who share a genuine interest to sometimes hang out with, than a room full that will show up anywhere there's a party and you're supplying the drinks.

Six people who have been paid to look at a camera
while pretending to have fun together and drink

Note - the picture on the left is not real life. It's just an advertisement.
And notice the dog - the only honest one in the picture - doesn't want to be there.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

News and new

First, there's this: Collie Dog Press 

(That's really just a bit of housekeeping to take care of; when my brain deteriorates a bit more and I can't remember which way the slashes in the web address go, I can at least find a link.) But I must say, I am pleased with the new logo for publishing.

Next, the inevitable day arrived.

Through Facebook connections, my world briefly touched with the world of another pair of people who are having medical problems; in their case, the animals have to be rehomed and the house steam-cleaned. Their adult children can take most of the animals, however, there was a little dog they had adopted a year ago, who needed someone who needed him.

Clearly, that was me.
The women who gave him to me said that when she heard about my situation, she felt that it was a sign, that it was meant to be - she had put off finding a home for the little fella and then, serendipity.

He arrived with the name Vinnie, and my original idea was to change this to Finnie, then Finn.
He started out seeming like a Finn. Rather quiet. Not much to say at first. In fact, when she first handed him to me and he did not growl, it seemed odd and rather un-Chihuahua like - based on my life with Chi Chi. I'm still adjusting, in fact, to a Chihuahua who isn't nearly so fussy about how he is handled.

After living with him for a day though (and having an odd urge to sometimes call him Frank....) he seemed to be more and more of a Vinnie. Finn would chill on a couch. Vinnie would get up from the couch he was on, charge across the room and chase the cat from sitting beside me. The more at home he felt, the bigger his name seemed to need to be.

Which is why, although he is still usually Vinnie, his official name has become Vincenzo Francisco Finn, aka, Vinnie-Frank, Mr. Finn, the Vinster.

The first morning with us when I had to go to work, Vin tried staying in bed. I brought him down and put him out, when he came in he ran back upstairs and got back in bed. This is apparently his modus operandi, as some pictures his previous family sent me show.

Now that he knows the routine though, he gets up in the morning, has breakfast and then goes back to bed.He then gets back up to bark at me when I leave for work. On our second morning he tried to convince me I should quit work and just stay home with him.

I'm not sure - as he was adopted after being a stray who was unclaimed - if he is a pure, not well bred Chihuahua or perhaps a dachshund mix. He weighs the same as Chi Chi did, but is shorter and longer.

And although he's been with us less than two weeks, it already seems like he's a long time companion. He's probably six years old. I'm at least his third home in the past year +. I can't imagine the circumstances though, that would require him to move on from here. Or I can imagine, and they aren't that likely...I figure I'm probably good for at least six to ten more years.

He was used to living with another dog and is now friends with Lil the Lab.
He and Gracie are somewhat indifferent to each other.
The cats want to know where I keep finding mutant rodents.

Vinnie and friend in previous home

One thing he and Gracie do agree on - the neighbors have nefarious plans and must be barked at when they are so bold as to be outside their own home. Like so many little dogs, he's convinced he is indomitable.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Recovery, denial, and a total change of pace

I'm not going to lie.
Adjusting to not having Jenny and Chi Chi around has been tough.

Really, I don't think I'm uncommon in having trouble processing my grief or coming to grips with the loss. Many of us, I suspect, get through loss by trying to keep ourselves busy with other thoughts. I spend a lot of time hanging out with the remaining stalwart companions.

Despite being nine now, Gracie is still having trouble acting like a grown up for any extended period of time. She's very good for a while, then decides to switch things up by de-constructing a plastic bucket, or ripping paper tags off the wild-bird food bags.

Lil on the other hand, is working at being a better model-canine-citizen. She's trying to step up her constant companion role; if I step back from the sink in the bathroom, I trip over her. If I sit down I have a second oversized lap dog trying to squish me with love.

When we're hanging out, I need something to actually occupy my mind - petting dogs is great but it doesn't actually require all my active brain cells - yet. I'm a writer, so I write. Recently I was given a challenge by a family member, to try and write a Western.

I don't consider the traditional Western my genre, although I have read them I've never intended to write one. My relative (okay, dad) wouldn't quit bugging me about trying though and after warning him I wouldn't write 'his kind' of Western, I gave it a try.

What came out is the beginning of a Historical Western Mystery series.
And since I like to share all my compulsions with the folks who stop by this blog, I would now like to share a link that allows the first two people (sorry, only in the U.S.) to obtain the book for free through Amazon: paperback giveaway

For those of you who have Kindles or the kindle reading app for other devices, the book is available starting at just 99 cents (U.S.) and should be available wherever kindle books are sold (i.e., any nation).

Hope everyone else is hanging in there and has a good start to their summer. I'll keep plugging away and the rest of y'all please do the same!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Post I never wanted to write

This is a hard one to write, one that I have not been able to face for a few weeks.

Several weeks ago I got a call that my dad was in the hospital for emergency surgery. I loaded up the fur-kids and headed to my parents home, which is several hours from mine and the reason I moved back to the Northern Mid-West from my much loved West Coast.

Saturday morning I came downstairs in my parent's home to find my mom cleaning up after Jenny the Collie. Jenny had been having bowel problems that week but at my home I'd convinced myself that we'd get through this, I fed her some canned pumpkin and we got by. I told my mom I didn't know what was wrong and mom gently said, "I think her body is shutting down."

I called my vet (nearby town to parents because we're there so often) and took Jenny in. The vet agreed, it was Jenny's time. So with much pain despite the inevitability of this time, I said goodbye to my old friend.

Visiting my father in the  hospital that afternoon I reminded myself that I was fortunate, my father was going to recover and Jenny had a good life, having been comfortable for the final 3+ years with a chronic condition that was hard on her body.

On some level I had been expecting this. Personally, I don't think knowing something is coming necessarily makes it easier but at least one isn't taken by total surprise. What happened next though, did surprise me.

 Chi Chi had stopped eating and drinking the morning I took Jenny in. Jenny was his best buddy and when I was at work, he and Jenny snoozed side by side, two seniors comfortable in each other's company. I worried that he was having trouble adjusting. It was worse than that.

His body quickly failed him. He lost control of his body functions. Monday I was back at the vet. Three months previously Chi had a wellness check and at that time he'd been a healthy 7.01 pounds. That Monday he was already down to 6 pounds. He was dehydrated and a different vet than the one I'd dealt with on Saturday - a young person who was trying to be neutral and non-influencing - advised me that I could try taking him home and getting him to drink - his veins were bad enough they couldn't do it intravenously - but that we were still dealing with his underlying neurological condition and ....

I said, "My concern is I would be keeping him going just for me."

Her response, "People do that all the time, we all do."

Personally, I've tried to always avoid that, asking an animal who had lost their overall quality of life to keep living just for me. I looked at my weary little old dog and realized that without his bff he was not wanting to go on. So I had to say goodbye.

It's been a tough couple of weeks and this sorrow will not go away any time soon, I know. We're all adjusting. Lil has become more grey of late and though she is the youngest, seems to feel it is her responsibility to step up and be the Good Girl and Responsible Dog.

She continues to follow me everywhere, which she's always done - she is a Lab. Now however, she sleeps with me every night - she used to just as often sleep in 'her own room' next door to mine. But she's decided I need closer looking after now. And then there's Gracie.

Gracie is a senior now. Nine years old. Which means she acts at her age the way more ordinary dogs behave at a much younger age. She only needs to jump on my head on rare occasions now and is satisfied to try and sit on my shoulder from the back of the couch, like an over-sized parrot, or drape over my lap, as she's always done, but now without exploding off my lap into my face or onto Lil.

Gracie still keeps an eye on all the neighbors. As I reflect though, I think the outraged barking has decreased a little.

Bull Terriers are not noted for being particularly long lived. In the UK where this has actually been investigated, the mean age of the breed is 10. I'm not borrowing trouble and Gracie is currently fit and in good health, seeming younger than she is.
When one has lived with, loved, and lost canine companions though, it seems impossible not to look at the writing on the wall. I expect age may suddenly catch up with Gracie. I'm hoping she will against odds and her ill-planned breeding, prove to be an unusually long lived member of her breed.

We are all aging and doing our best to adjust to what life requires of us as our bodies slow down and our losses compile alongside our gains. I'm grateful for the time I have with canine friends; I miss them so much when they are gone.