Thursday, October 31, 2013

Teenage Confession

With "The Teenage Years" in full swing at our house, I have learned I am not cool, I know nothing, and the human eye can roll really far back into the head.  The once cherubic face of a baby is long gone, and in it's place is an opinionated young lady who is learned how to live life.  I would be lying if I said that transformation has been easy on me.

Now, I am not complaining.  I know my teenage daughter is a lot easier to live with than most girls her age, simply for the fact she still fears God and her mother, dresses to cover all of her body, and is not boy crazy.  For this I am beyond grateful.  I do have a confession to make though.

It has been very difficult to connect with this "new" person as of late.  Things that would have never bothered her in the past, are suddenly monumental crises with little resolution in sight and the result is often tears, weeping, and the gnashing of  teeth.  I often don't know what to do or say, and when I look back at the What to Expect When You're Expecting book, I realize they left this chapter out!  

I had an epiphany last night as we were at obedience class though.  We were both training our dogs, laughing at how embarrassing they were acting, and for a moment I caught a glimpse of my "old" child, the one I shared a common ground with.  It made a heart sing.  Afterwards we went for ice cream, laughed, and chatted about her day.  It was glorious, and I can't wait to do it again next week!  Bonding with my daughter, better behaved dogs, and the chance to do it all again next week?!  Yes, please!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Cowboy and the Magician

Monday I was at work when I noticed my front tooth felt rough and uneven right before a piece the size of the Grand Canyon, chipped off.  The tooth in question may or may not have been previously repaired because I chipped it two decades ago, when I jumped over the back of a couch with a beer bottle in hand.  (Sorry you had to find out on my blog, Mom!)  I needed help in the form of a dentist ASAP, because with a chipped tooth, I was unable to smile and that was a tragedy in and of itself!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am neurotic about my teeth and phobic of the dentist.  (Odd combo I know....)  I needed someone special for this job, I needed The Cowboy Dentist.  When I called his office I was squeezed into the first appointment for Tuesday morning.  I arrived scared, but quickly realized I was in great hands!  From the moment I arrived, I was greeted by friendly folks that were knowledgeable and clearly experts in their field.  

Besides The Cowboy Dentist, I met April The Magician.  April The Magician was flawless in her mission to repair my tooth.  She took her time, paid attention to detail and worked her magic. (I'm not sure what it was, but she able to fix my chipped tooth and also repair a chipped incisor that looked very rough...)  And I tell you, I left that office feeling like a million bucks!  

To The Cowboy Dentist, April the Magician, and the staff, this appointment was probably nothing more than another day at the office.  To me it was a miracle and a huge sigh of relief.  Thank you to each and everyone of you, you were great!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kindness and coffee

Today I decided to walk Linda down to the local coffee shop in an effort to work on her socialization skills and fulfill my need for caffeine.  She does amazing on a leash and walks in a natural heel position at my side, but is afraid of cars and activity.  (Linda's initial over exuberance at the breeder's house, has turned into nervous energy that I am working through...)  I have been taking her everywhere I go in hopes that she will get over this as soon as possible!

My plan was to tie Linda to a bench outside the coffee shop, run inside, grab my cup o' joe and come right back outside.  Naturally the coffee shop was packed and Linda did not like that I was inside and she was alone.  Suddenly a boy about 9 years old, says to me: "Ma'am, I would be happy to stand out here with your dog and pet her while you get your coffee."  I explained that Linda was a little nervous, but if he would be so kind to pet her, she would probably love that.

I looked out the window of the coffee shop and this is what I saw.  Two little boys petting Linda and if you look closely, one boy has taken off his jacket and wrapped it around Linda to keep her warm.  The other boy is holding his jacket up to block the wind for her.  When socializing a new dog, there is nothing better than mannerly children!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Haunted

Tonight we went downtown to our town's Harvest Festival and annual Olde Tippecanoe Ghost Walk, put on by the local town bookstore.  The ghost walk is one of our favorite fall traditions because it combines a bit of local history and lore.  Tonight was no different.  There was even more history this year than the year before and we had a great time.

After the tour tonight, we went back to the bookstore for a look around.  There were a bunch of people standing around talking about ghosts and such when one of the women there said she wanted to go to the basement to look around, but was scared to go alone.  Katzya quickly volunteered to accompany her, and off they went  (I refuse to go to the basement because of an occurrence that happened several years ago.  See last year's blog post )

Suddenly we hear what sounds like a herd of elephants coming down the hallway, the woman in the lead and Katzya hot on her heels.  Both of them wide-eyed, pale and looking scared.  Katzya goes on to explain they were walking down the basement stairs and she was telling the woman she had never seen a ghost encounter when a book fell off a bookshelf landing on the floor in front of them.  Katzya asked the woman if she saw the book fall, and before their very eyes 2 more books fell on top of the first book.  ( Here is an example of some of the things that happen in the bookstore )

We definitely got our money's worth out of this years ghost walk, and it sure has brought our family together!  Where else can you get a shaking teenager glued to you for the duration of the evening and into the night?  The bed is going to be a bit small tonight as I have to squeeze in the third person.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I did it!

For those of you wondering if I had fallen off the face of the earth, never fear I am alive and well.  Exactly a one week ago, I went out to dinner with my friend/publisher, Meg, and while we were at dinner I mentioned that I had an idea for a children's book.  I asked Meg how soon I would have to have this project finished for a spring release date and she said 6 days.  Not one to turn down a challenge, I accepted.  Let me tell you, this project has consumed me for the entire week!

I am excited to tell you though, the book left the editor's hands today and is on it's way to the publisher currently.  Whew!  It has been a whirlwind of a week, and not one I want to repeat anytime soon.  
The good news is: I DID IT!  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Can't please 'em all!

Today I received an email from an upset reader wondering how I could ever purchase 2 dogs, and had I felt better I would have replied sooner.  They wanted to know how I could ever consider myself a rescuer of animals if I advocated, by purchasing, from a breeder.  In my heart I knew eventually this question was going breech itself like a whale washed up on shore.....

There is a huge difference between reputable breeders and backyard breeders.  One is in it for the money, and their dogs I rescue constantly.  The other stands behind what he puts on the ground and takes any dog they produce back, no matter what, for the life of the dog.  A reputable breeder doesn't let what they produce sit in a shelter, because they are the first line of contact when an owner can no longer keep the dog.
A reputable breeder requires a spay and neuter contract on every dog they put in a pet home, and that is IF they don't have the procedure completed themselves before the dog leaves their care.

A reputable breeder knows all of the genetic defect possibilities and only breeds the stock that is going to absolutely enhance the breed.  They do genetic testing on the dog's eyes, elbows, hips, etc...  And at the first sign something might not be correct?  They don't breed their dogs!  

A reputable breeder breeds for temperament, and if the temperament is not of a quality that they desire, then they don't breed their dogs.

And lastly, a reputable breeder doesn't make a dime on puppies!  By the time every puppy is vaccinated, wormed, micro chipped, altered and the parents the same plus xrays and genetic testing, there is no money made.

I knew what breed of dog I wanted this time, and I didn't want a dog with any baggage this go around.  (I have plenty of those!)  I researched my breed, and I did a lot of homework prior to even meeting these dogs.  In my eyes there is no shame in that.  It feels good to know that if I screw up the dogs I just obtained from a reputable breeder, I have no one to blame but myself.

I get this a lot from people:  "Hey Emily, I am looking for a Golden Retriever."  My advice is always:  Do your homework, find a reputable breeder or adopt from your local rescue/shelter.  Many folks in the rescue world get upset if people buy from a breeder.  I don't.  I would rather be the person that helps someone find the perfect dog for their family, than the rescuer that has to pull the dog from the shelter any day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy for sure!

When I bought Chai 10 years ago, I said the next Belgian Shepherd I bought would be a Belgian Laekenois.  The only problem being that the Belgian Laekenois is so rare, it was difficult to find a breeder in the United States.  Fast forward, 10 years and the Belgian Laekenois is still not easy to find here, and I knew I was looking for another Belgian so I looked at importing but that just seemed silly to me.  I rescue dogs constantly, and for me to pay thousands of dollars for a dog just seemed wrong.  Importing a pet dog?  Even worse.  I understand importing show dogs, but with millions of dogs in shelters all over the country, I couldn't justify bringing a pet dog into the country.

I was willing to pay a moderate re-home fee for my new best friend, but had given up on the idea of a Laekenois, figuring it just woundn't happen.  By chance I got on Facebook and asked in a Belgian Shepherd group if anyone knew of any Laekenois re-homes. Several weeks ago I received a message from a breeder in Virginia who had several older puppies that she was trying to place because they were not show quality.  That was exactly what I was looking for!  It sort of felt like the heavens aligned and were shining down on me, because I could hardly believe my luck.

The Reluctant Farmer, Katzya and myself drove to Virginia this weekend where we met Lou Anne and her curly headed kids, and we fell in love.  When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the 2 males that we were to look at.  (Male dogs are my preference...)  However, Lou Anne mentioned that she had "a female that acted like she had been shot out of a cannon" and wanted to know if we wanted to meet the girls too.  Well, we had driven 8 hours to see these dogs and we are dog people so immediately we said yes.  We walked through the kennel and I think my heart just stopped.  To watch 5 Belgian Laekenois puppies playing, running, and jumping was the neatest experience ever!  I was in awe....

There were 2 dogs that we just kept going back to, a male (Tru) and a female (Linda).

Linda was exactly the type of dog that I love.  (You know I love all my creatures a little bit bad...)  She was bouncy, in my face, and demanded I look at her.  It was evident that she would be an amazingly fun dog to work with.  Not a push over, not too hard, but just right.  I like to work with a challenge and I appreciate a dog that keeps me on my toes.

Tru was exactly the type of dog that my family needed.  He was reserved, calm, and wise.  He would excel in the obedience world you could tell, and he just seemed like a very easy dog.  One that would not be hard to live with.  I appreciated his regal demeanor, intelligence, and the fact he was so different than Linda.

It was virtually impossible to choose which one we liked more, so we didn't.  We took home both.  Nuts?  Maybe....  Happy?  For sure!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Christ and cowboy boots....

This morning my sister called me at 9:30 am and asked me to go to the 10:00 am church service with her.  Truthfully, all I wanted to do was to sleep in, but the more I laid there coming up with excuses as to why I didn't want to get up, the worse I felt.

My feet hit the floor at a run because Abby said she was going to zip past my house and pick me up on her way through.  I dashed into Katzya's room, told her we were going to church and asked her to hurry.  She, like most teenagers, grumbled and stumbled her way down the hallway semi-dressed and I hurriedly finished getting ready.

Abby pulled up in front of the house, honked her horn and we ran outside to greet her.  Katzya got in the front seat while I got in the back seat and truthfully I never noticed what Katzya was wearing.  Until we got to church....

As we were waiting for Abby to grab her morning cup o' joe, I looked down at Katzya's feet and said:  "Seriously?!  You wore your boots to church?!"  In her 13 year old way, Katzya rolled her shoulders and said:  "What?  I wiped the dirt off of them!"

As the sermon wrapped up, I realized the most important part of the morning was the message about joy and not sweating "the small stuff".  Perhaps the cowboy boots this morning were a lesson from God, in that I sweat too much small stuff and need to look at the world a little differently....

Look at him go!

Brent Lou got a visitor today after lunch.  His Aunt Abby came to visit him!  She was surprised just how much he had grown in the last week and how much better he looks.  (The last time she saw him he was near death....) 

Yesterday he went to visit Dr. Kelley Young at Stonyridge Veterinary Services for a recheck and she was amazed by how well he was doing too.  She sedated him and debrided some of the scabbed area over his penis, and stretched his sheath to make sure that he would continue urinating.  She gave us instructions on keeping his penis moist with ointment and shaved his fur so that we were no longer fighting the battle of keeping hair out of his wounds. She did say she thinks he will have to have a sheath reconstruction later, but for now as long as he's urinating, all is well.  I couldn't be happier!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Honesty, joy and independence

Tonight I went to my friend/publisher's house to deliver a birthday present to a very vivacious 3 year old, Emma Rose.  We "ate" plastic ice cream and brownies, and decorated each other with stickers.  There is nothing more refreshing than seeing the honesty, joy and independence that is a child....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Half pound heart thief

It's hard to believe the kitten that has taken up residency on my kitchen table (The only dog free zone in the house....) is the same kitten that was knocking on death's door 5 days ago.  He is gaining weight, his eyes are bright, there is no more nasal discharge coming from his nose, and he is starting to play.  The change is unbelievable!

We do know a little more about his situation now...  Evidently he was brought into our local animal shelter by a woman who wanted to have him euthanized, however she didn't want to pay the $2.00 fee to turn him in, so on her way out of town she threw him out the window of her car while going over a bridge.  Her throwing ability must have been no better than her "moral compass" and the kitty landed on the bridge instead of hitting the water.  Some consider it bad luck, but I am going to consider it fate.  What is the probability that my sister would be going across this bridge at nearly the same time this kitten was thrown out of a moving car?  What is the probability that no one else hit him?  And what are the odds that this tiny being could survive such an ordeal being as sick as he was?

My prayer is complete and total healing for Brent/Lou (He has many names as most of our pets do...).  I didn't need or want another cat (We have two already.) but I guess God knew this cat needed a soft touch and kindness, so here we are.  I won't lie, he has kneaded and purred his way into all of our hearts.  I hope he is sleeping better at night than the less than stellar woman who tossed him out the window!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Moving forward!

We have named the kitten Brent, after our great friend Brent of the Remy Homestead.  Brent always talks a mean game about cats and how he doesn't care for them, but under his 6' 4" tough exterior is a marshmallow of a person, usually kept in line by his wife Christie.

On Friday night as I was at the vet's office, I called Christie to bring me a phone charger because my phone charge was at 10% and I was on call for the hospital.  Christie promised me she would be right over and with the phone charger, she brought Brent.  They visited me and I showed them the lifeless kitten that was laying there, and Brent said in a very joking way:  "For a lot less money I could get you a cat with no maggots and already litter box trained!"  Christie promptly elbowed him in the gut and told him to shut up, and I was laughing at the two of them when I realized I had never had an animal named Brent.  It only seemed fitting that I would name a cat after him.  (Besides, I could only hope that this kitty would turn out to be a big, strapping man of a cat!)

Brent the kitten is doing good and is on the mend.  We brought him home last night from the animal clinic, and have been medicating him and nursing him along.  The biggest challenge at this point is his groin/rectum/penis area.  This was where the maggots did the most damage, eating away at his flesh.  If you can imagine, a kitten that only weighs a few ounces has a very small genital region.  The sheath of his penis is severed horizontally on both sides, and if it doesn't heal then he will have to have a surgery to reconstruct it. 

If the damage actually affects his penis then there is another surgery, and I will be honest I won't put him through that.  In that surgery you actually re-route the urethra and remove the penis making him pee like a female cat.  He is so small, it would be like micro surgery, and the veterinarian isn't sure if she could perform that surgery on a patient his size.  I'm not sure if I could afford that surgery either....

Looking on the positive side of things though, this is a picture of Brent this morning.  We are keeping him in a dog kennel with his litter box, food, water, and he has a stuffed friend for support.  He is "making biscuits", meowing, and eating like a horse!  The best part though?!  I got up this morning to urine and feces in his litter box (Otherwise known as a disposable pie pan...), so we know that up to this point at least all of his parts are working!  Please say a prayer that this will continue.  If his "boy parts" continue to work, he will most likely live.  I keep reminding myself, that if he has to go, at least he will be humanely euthanized and he will have known he was loved, by me and many of you too!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

You found a squirrel?!

Yesterday as I was leaving work, my sister called me.  Of course the call came in just as I was stepping onto the elevator to go home, making my sister sound like she was talking under water.

I said:  "Hello?'
Abby replies: "I found a ... crackle, rustle, static... squirrel!  What should I do?!"
I asked:  "You found a squirrel?!"
She shouts back at me:  "No!  I FOUND ... crackle, rustle, static... squirrel!  What should I do?!"

After what seemed like a ride to the moon, I finally reached the top floor of the parking garage and asked again:  "Did you say you found a squirrel?!
She brazenly yells in my ear, "NO!  I FOUND A CAT!  
I am still confused and stupidly ask, "Well, why did you tell me you found a squirrel?"
She is reaching the point of being annoyed, and yells at me again:  "I SAID, I FOUND A CAT THAT I THOUGHT WAS A SQUIRREL!  

In my head I thought, "Of course you found a cat that looks like a squirrel.  That happens to people all the time!"  (I did not verbalize this thought though because Abby was on the edge of loosing her patience and I could tell she was a wee bit frantic...)

I asked where she saw the cat/squirrel and she explained it was sitting in the middle of a bridge that she was driving over so she called me, and wanted to know what to do.  I told her to pick up the cat and drop it off at my veterinarian and I would meet it there.  Abby calls me back within minutes and says the mission has been accomplished and I let her know I would be there shortly.  

At this point my phone vibrates.  It's the veterinarian:  "This kitty has maggots and several lacerations.  Do you want us to proceed?"  Maggots?  Really?!  Sigh....  I explain if the kitten is negative for leukemia and feline AIDS, and she thinks there is a chance the little guy might pull through then I would like her to proceed with fixing him.

I arrived at the vet office and they ushered me back to see what had to be the most sickly animal I have ever laid eyes on. This kitten was so malnourished and emaciated that it is impossible to even draw the 2 drops of blood from him needed for his testing until he ate and his body temperature was higher!  Paired with the number of adult fleas on the kitten plus the maggots literally eating him alive, saving him was more of a miracle rather than an reality.  Still, I prayed......

After the leukemia/AIDS test came back negative, he was given a bath to rid some of the fleas and the rest of the maggots.  He was so pathetic, and as I watched him lay there something deep inside my soul hurt.  IF he had been positive for leukemia or AIDS, I would have contributed part of his condition to underlying illness but this boy was just flat out neglected.  That is inexcusable.

After the little guy was cleaned up and dried he passed out.  He had antibiotics on board for several lacerations on his front leg and around his rectum, the blood sucking and flesh eating insects were at bay, and his belly was full.  His life was good for the moment and I felt comfortable that if he died during the night, at least he died with all of his basic needs met.  

I thought of the little kitty all night long and I didn't sleep very much because I wondered if he was still going to be alive in the morning.  Then I remembered a picture I took that morning before heading into work. 

 Minutes before I went inside there was the most beautiful rainbow in the sky, and I said out loud:  "Today is going to be a great day!"  If you are a palm-sized kitten that was given the chance to cheat death, today wouldn't be a great day, it would be the best day of your life!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

State of our government...

For the past 2 days I have listened to people fret over the fact that their spouses don't have jobs, that their foster children can't get their welfare checks, and that their vacations might have to be on hold all because our government is shut down. 

I have listened to people complain about the Democrats, Republicans, and Obamacare.  I have listened as the break room erupts into chaos, filled with confusion and fear of the unknown.

I have also had so many shocked people ask me, due to our lack of outside influence:  "What do you mean you hadn't heard that this was going on?!  This is why you need a television!"  You are wrong.  This is exactly why I don't need a television!  I don't need the hysteria, fear, and negativity that is being thrown around worse than Miley Cyrus' underwear.

When I was using the outhouse tonight, I got to thinking.  Life could be so much worse.  If you are still updating your status on Facebook from your iPhone, are complaining because you can't get your hair or nails done because your husband is furloughed, or are worried about how you will send little Suzie to her private school, then know you aren't dying.  You're just being mildly inconvenienced.

I'm an American, folks. The government may be going down the "shitter", but I will survive.  In fact we all will survive!  Perhaps not unscathed, but we will make it.  I can't help but think that this is the time when we should start reaching out to our neighbour, start living a more sustainable lifestyle, and just slow down....