Saturday, February 25, 2017

D'Art's Dogwood

We planted a tree in memory of D'Art today - a dogwood called "Wolf Eyes". I knew I wanted to plant a tree for my sweet, black-haired boy because he was always seeking out a good shady spot when the sun came out. It was just too hot in the sun with all that black hair! After reading many tags at the nursery to determine the best choice, we found this one. It was the last one in stock and fit the bill perfectly. It was waiting for us.

Dogwoods come into bloom around June. June was D'Art's birthday. Fitting.

Teddy and Luna kept us company as we chose the spot and dug the hole. The tree doesn't look like much now, but it will develop white/green variegated leaves and large white flowers. It will be a beautiful tree to memorialize a beautiful poodle.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Like #4

It's that time of the week again; the time to think about the things that make life a little brighter. Thanks to Not Afraid of Color for including me in the hop!

1. I like owls. This particular resident visits our yard frequently and I can often hear him 'whoo whooing' at night. I believe it to be a Barred Owl. Before I realized that owls are a danger chickens, I lost a few to this hungry local. But now that I know, I ensure the chickens are tucked up in their coop well before Mr. Owl comes out to hunt. We can live together in harmony.

2. I was looking through old photos and came across this one, which reminded me that I like arranging flowers. I made this arrangement using flowers from my garden - columbine, weigela, thimble berry flowers and comfrey. If I ever win the lottery, I think I'll open a flower shop and arrange flowers for fun. (Of course, I'll have staff so I don't have to work full-time. I'll need time to work at my poodle rescue organization too! We can but dream!)

3. I like The Tea Shop Mystery series of books by Laura Childs. I've only read the first one, but I'm already hooked and am waiting patiently for the library to bring in the next book. It is always fun to find a series to enjoy. The lazy part of me likes not having to find a good book for a while, I can just read my way through series-bliss!

Poodle Pick of the Week

The poodle pick of the week this week was an easy one....homemade treats! Our friends Monika, Sam and Elsa over at Tails Around the Ranch sent us these amazing homemade treats. The contain applesauce and peanut butter, a poodle favorite! If you're interested in the "Pawnut Butter Applesauce" treats, I encourage you to check out their blog for the recipe. 

Gosh, these sure do smell good!

Meanwhile, we are so lucky to be the recipient of these goodies and the timing is impeccable - Luna's had a tough week and a special treat was just what the doctor ordered! 

Waiting patiently, treat on paw.

Teddy and Luna sincerely thank their friends Sam and Elsa for sharing with them!

Yum! Best thing that's happened all week!

What brought a smile to your face this week?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Dog's History

I am a strong supporter of adopting a dog from a rescue organization. According to the ASPCA, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in the US every year, often to no fault of their own (they aren't vicious or maladjusted). The ratio of dogs needing homes just greatly outweighs the number of people adopting, and shelters only have so much space. On the other hand, I don't judge anyone who finds their furry companion from a reputable breeder and have friends who have successfully done so and would do so again. It's important not to confuse reputable breeders with puppy mills or pet store puppies (which typically come from puppy mills). Puppy mills are not humane. If you're unfamiliar with this concept, I encourage you to read this brief summary, also from the ASPCA.

Teddy and Luna were both adopted from shelters. I have little knowledge of their lives, prior to entering the shelters. This means I have no history. I have no record of how they were treated, whether they received proper health care, whether they were well fed and whether they encountered any abuse. Some dogs do enter the shelter with a full background resume (e.g. their owners pass away, or the owners give them up for some reason or another), but this isn't always the case. It's not the case with Teddy and Luna. In many ways I envy those people who bring home their puppy from a breeder who knows the parents' genetics and health. It would be lovely to have a healthy puppy, whose parents are free of disease/health issues. (Some breeders do genetic testing, but not all.)

Let me rewind a bit...
Despite my efforts to help Luna gain weight, she's still as skinny as a rail, so I thought it was time to go back to the vet for a more detailed check-up. After having the full array of blood, fecal and urine tests, we were faced with a couple of concerns. One is that she has a urinary tract infection and the other is that she is losing protein in her urine.

A few days later, we went back for an ultrasound, to look more carefully at her kidneys and surrounding organs. Kidney issues are often signaled by protein loss. Thankfully her organs look healthy (sigh of relief). But we're still faced with the question of why she's losing protein in her urine. While I was at the vet, we discussed all sorts of potential causes; malnutrition (in a her past) was one such topic. Somehow it doesn't seem too unbelievable that a dog found collarless, wandering a park, may have at one time been subject to malnutrition. The frustrating thing is not knowing for sure. If we knew her past, we cold rule things in or out and have a clearer path defined for how to move forward.

Gee mom, don't take a photo of my bare belly!

Of course, that doesn't stop me from getting her the very best care. My poodles will always receive the very best healthcare, attention, love and nutrition. They may not have had that privilege their entire lives, but they do now.

For now, Luna is on antibiotics. An ongoing infection alone could be the cause of the protein loss. We're also exploring malabsorption (the inability to absorb enough nutrients from her food). We hope to see improvement over the next few weeks and a sign that she's put on a little weight. Overall she is happy, active and outwardly healthy. So, I'm trying not to overthink it, worry unnecessarily.

If you are thinking of bringing a dog into your home, please don't let this post dissuade you from adopting. Of course no dog, whether adopted or from a breeder, is immune to disease and illness. Even those who don't come with a background history are worthy of a good, loving home and many live long and healthy lives. Adopting a dog is rewarding and life changing in the very best of ways.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Like #3

It's been a busy week, with vet visits and work meetings, so I will keep my list short this time around. There is always something to be thankful for though; always something to bring a smile. Thanks go to Not Afraid of Color for inviting me to join this blog hop! Check out her site for other "I Like" posts!

1. I like treating myself to something yummy. It's fun to go out on occasion for a treat. When I worked in the city, going out for coffee was a daily event - necessity even. These days, I wander into my kitchen and put on a pot of tea and then head back to my desk. So, going out for a good latte has that extra charm of being a rare treat. Being Valentines week, it seemed fitting that my treat be decorated with hearts. Somehow eating pretty food is so much more enjoyable than if it was just thrown on a plate (or in a cup) with no care.

2. I like spring flowers. As soon as I see primroses in the grocery stores, I can't resist. They are the first dashes of color in my garden before the bulbs are open. Not long now, though, until we see daffodils in bloom. I'll save those for another post, for now the credit goes to this red primrose. (It snowed the day after I planted it, but the snow has melted now and it looks chipper again.)

Poodle Pick of the Week 

This week's poodle pick goes to....bunnies! These bunnies are the poodles' Valentines gifts. My rule is that I don't spend more than $1 per stuffy for the poodles, because they often get destroyed in the blink of an eye. These particular fluffy specimens came from the dollar store and are free of hard eyes, beans, or any other undesirable parts. I also find some good stuffies at the thrift store. No one seems to mind that they don't have squeakers.

Here's what they look like after the first 5 minutes of play. Can you guess whose bunny is the ear-less purple one?

If you guessed Teddy, you're right! He shows his deep admiration for stuffies by disemboweling them.

Luna, on the other hand, gently mouths hers and often is only interested in the stuffy if one of her humans plays with her.

I hope you're having a good week! Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Like Thursdays #2, Plus a PP

Another week has flown by and once again it is Thursday. Thanks to Not Afraid of Color for inviting me to join in the "I Like" blog hop. Here's what I like this week....

1. I like...a good view! This one is taken from my living room (I know, I'm spoiled). The valley and mountain are regular 'friends' of mine and it is enjoyable to see the changes that each season brings to the surroundings. This week the fresh snow and bright sun made for a crisp and clear mountain view.

2. I like giving gifts. It's always fun to give a gift to a friend! I like the process of considering what that person might appreciate, even if it is just something small. On that note, I've had these three $10 iTunes gift cards in my desk drawer for far too long. I think it is time to pass them on to someone who will use them! So, if you live in the U.S. and could use a $10 iTunes gift card, please leave me a comment below indicating you'd like one, with your email and I'll happily give these three cards away to the first three people who want them! (Poodle not included.)

3. I like knitting! I started knitting 21 years ago. It checks a lot of boxes for me. It is relaxing, it is rewarding to make something with my own two hands, and it scratches my creative itch. This is the very beginning of a simple pair of socks. I love the color of the wool and my feet are constantly cold, so I have high hopes for these to warm my toes! As much as I love the look of intricate cable or lacy patterns, I tend to stick to basic patterns. Otherwise, I find myself having to focus more than I would like and it takes away from the relaxing part.

If you read the title of this week's blog post and thought "what on earth is a PP?" Well, here it is...Poodle Pick! From now on my "I Like" posts are going to include a Poodle Pick of the week. Here's what Teddy and Luna picked this week...

Poodle Pick of the Week!

Balls, balls and more balls! Luna likes the balls that drop treats as you roll them across the floor (puzzle balls).

While Teddy likes the squishy mouth feel of the Planet Dog balls. This one glows in the dark which is a lifesaver for winter evening play times!

Wishing you a happy rest of your week! Friday's not too far away!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Thoughts On Grief

Before grief, there is inevitably love. It seems the more love there is, the more grief there is. But life without love is that's the trade-off. Nothing's free.

Today I feel compelled to write a few thoughts about grieving for D'Art. 

First, some context. I have lost people close to me and felt the immense sadness that brings. When my sister passed away six years ago I grieved heavily (and still do). Not having seen her for many years didn't lessen my grief, because I loved her. I grieved for lost opportunities, I grieved not having one last chance to tell her that I loved her, and I grieved knowing the world would be different..less..without her. 

D'Art's sudden passing knocked me sideways. I knew I would feel sad when he eventually passed away, and I knew that I loved him beyond compare, but I just didn't expect to feel so incredibly raw inside. People don't talk as frankly about the feelings we experience when a beloved animal dies. So, I was naively unprepared for the intense sadness that stayed behind after he left. Even still, it is evident to me that some fellow humans don't understand, and won't understand, this grief. Perhaps society expects grief for an animal to be different than grieving for a sister, brother, mother or child, but it isn't different at all.

If you really think about it, your pet is someone who depends 100% on you. As they age, these dependencies increase. The amount of energy you spend on them; worrying about what they will eat, whether they've eaten enough, whether they're in pain, and whether you're doing everything right by them. All that energy, all that dependency, adds up to a lot. It, in and of itself, is a bond. Never mind the bond you make with the animal because you love them and you make each other happy. Where does all of that energy go when the animal passes away?  Nowhere. But a weight of grief, just as huge as the light of love, moves in. 

That brings me to regret. No matter how hard we try not to blame ourselves, grief seems to come burdened with regrets. It's like the 'buy one get one free' of life. Lose a loved one, get a free dump truck full of regret. Everyone I've talked to has some sort of regret after their pet dies. I'm not going to go into a list of regrets, but let's be honest in acknowledging that they are a part of grief, no matter whether that grief is for a human or an animal.

Today, my grief comes in bouts. I have days when I feel like I'm fine, I'm coping. Other days I'll burst into tears while driving down the highway, or feel incredibly empty when I look over to his favorite chair and he's no longer there warming it. Having Teddy and Luna in my life is wonderful, but it changes absolutely nothing about grieving for D'Art. Think of it this way - would you grieve less for your Dad if your Mom were still alive? No! This is no different. You grieve for the individual. Nothing changes that.

If you, too, are grieving for a loved one - human or animal - understand that I know how you feel. I am sorry that you carry this sadness, but it is OK to feel sad. It is healthy, it is normal, and it is a brilliant reflection of the love that you shared.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Tips for Helping Dogs Cope with House Renovations

I've been meaning to write this post since September. As you may know already, we pulled-up all the carpeting in our home last summer and replaced it with engineered wood flooring. It took a while, but with all the muddy feet that come in and out this time of year I am so grateful we did!

I learned a few things about coping with renovations and dogs at the same time which I thought might interest you too.

1. Don't assume you know what's best. 
When we first started our renovations, we thought they poodles would be best in the office, on their beds and with their toys. They'd be fine there! Let the banging begin! Wrong. When we went to check on them, poor D'Art was shaking like a leaf. He was so scared. All that noise was unfamiliar and here we were, closing him in a room which we don't normally do. So, we tried something completely different. We let the poodles out of the office and allowed them into our space. As soon as D'Art could see what we were doing, he completely calmed down. His concerns disappeared! The noise wasn't what bothered him, it was having no understanding of where the noise came from that did.

Are you going to make more noise now?

2. Keep your area pet-safe. 
In our case, the biggest hazard were those pesky, sharp tack strips that hold down carpet. If all the tack strips and staples hadn't been removed from an area then we cordoned it off with a baby gate. The poodles weren't wearing the same PPE (personal protective equipment) that we were, so if they stepped on a tack it would have really hurt. Other sources of danger in renovation zone can include: glues, paint, leaning ladders and sharp tools.

3. Prevent dashing!
If you've read this post, then you'll know that we adopted Luna during our renovation project. For a while all she knew was the banging of hammers and the 'pchew' of the compressor-fueled staple gun. Luckily she wasn't that bothered by loud noises, but just in case we kept the front and back doors gated or closed. Even dogs you know well can act differently during a time of stress or transition, and you don't want to risk them dashing out the door in fear or anxiety.

Hammering in the transition strip

4. Consider what your dog thinks. 
I'm not suggesting you consult with your pup about paint colors, but keep in mind that the renovations may affect them too. Teddy and Luna weren't bothered at all by the new wood floors, but D'Art thought we had removed his cushy bed and left behind a slippery trap. For a while, all he'd do was walk briskly between dog beds and doormats. They acted like his little safety islands. To help him cope I put down extra door mats: one where he eats, one at the foot of his favorite chair, etc. As he got used to the new floors, I slowly transitioned them away, leaving just the ones at the door. By the time we got to that point, he was comfortable laying on the wood and getting back up again without assistance.

Bed island

Those are the tips I compiled from our flooring adventure. If you have any to share, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I Like Thursdays #1

Lee Anna over at Not Afraid of Color hosts a fun blog hop every Thursday called "I Like Thursdays". This upbeat theme is refreshing and one that I always read every week. It seems like we could all do with a bit of extra positivity in our lives these days. This week, she was kind enough to let me join in on the fun!

I like my charm bracelet, with three poodles. Last week was my birthday. My husband gave me this poodle charm bracelet. It is an antique, and what makes it extra special is that the poodles are made of stamped tin. Tin is the traditional gift for a tenth anniversary, and we celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary this month. What can I say, he's a good gift buyer!

I like friendship, near or far. I've never been the kind of person who has an address book full of friends. I've always connected, closely, with a select few. I believe that when you connect on a level of true friendship it doesn't matter where people are - in life or in location. The friendship is just as rewarding

This last week also brought the one month mark of losing my beloved poodle, D'Art. It is good to have friends who understand this grief, and this special quilt, made by the very talented hands of Lee Anna, arrived just in time to help me cope. Needless to say, I treasure it!

I like chickens. At present, I have seven hens, all of whom lay eggs. They range in age from 1-8 years old. They live out their lives in peace on our property, whether they lay eggs or not. These hens are like pets, each with their own name. From left to right in this photo are: Pickle, Triscuit, Bacon, Roux, Pudding, Chili and Parsley. Pickle, Parsley and Pudding are sisters and were hatched and raised by one of my favorite hens (who has since passed away), Marmite. I have a fun story about how I ended up with Bacon (the white one), which I'll save for another time. Let's just say, she picked me! She's the eldest and the chattiest of all! All my hens are friendly. Some will even fly up into your lap for cuddles and bird seed, given the opportunity. Here are my girls, enjoying the glimpse of winter sun we had this week! Everyone loves a sunny day!

Lastly, I like tea. Being raised my a British mum, I've started my day with a cup of tea for many years and can remember doing so when I was in school as well. Cup of tea and a bowl of Wheetabix was my breakfast of champions as a teenager. I especially like Yorkshire Gold tea. You can't buy it in the grocery store, but Amazon provides. I try to stick to decaf most of the day and will only indulge in caffeinated tea if I really need it...which seems fairly often. Of course, it has to be consumed in my Poodle Mom mug, which I guess brings us full circle back to poodle themed things!

I encourage you to check out the other blogs participating in "I Like Thursdays" which you will find over at Lee Anna's blog