Sunday, November 15, 2015

Do Love.

All weekend I have been in a funk over the recent events in France and Beirut.  

When I sat down yesterday to write a blog post on the subject nothing would come out, and then when I flipped over to Facebook and watched person after person hate on Muslims, I wrote too much.  (Sorry to the folks that had to witness me loosing my religion on my Facebook page....)  All I could think about were the friends I have who are Muslim, and what must be going through their minds and hearts as they witnessed all of these horrible things that were being said about them as people.  I thought about a close friend of mine who is a Muslim and serves in our military, protecting our freedom, and who is just as "American" as you and I.  And the more I watched friends spew ignorance and hate, the more I hurt.  I stayed up most of the night wondering how God could let this happen to His children.  I questioned what my roll in this equation was, and was I wrong for not hating?  I prayed for the people who lost their lives.  I prayed for the refugees that have been displaced through no fault of their own, and for the families that are now separated and can't go home.  I prayed for the victims and their families, the doctors and medical personnel who worked around the clock to save lives, and the strangers who came together to love one another.  I prayed for humanity and peace.  As I prayed though, one word kept coming to me and that word was love.  

There is evil in this world, evil that is hoping to tear us apart.  It wants to snuff out the good in the world, and make us question our faith.  Well, I will not allow evil or hate to win.  I will not allow the vileness of this weekend to cause me to respond with anger.  I will respond with love and grace.  

I will continue to love my neighbors and to stand up for my ALL of my brothers and sisters no matter their race, religion or sexuality.  I will continue to recognize that not all Muslims are responsible for the heinous acts that took place this weekend, and I will not condemn those folks for what a radical sect is doing in the supposed name of their religion.  I will continue to stand by the offer that, as long as they don't mind a little dog hair, the refugees that find themselves homeless and hungry are welcome to stay at our house.  Why?  Because I stand strong in my faith.  I know the walk God has asked me to walk.  It is not easy and sometimes I don't understand, but I have faith that I am doing life right.  And when I get to Heaven, providing God still accepts me after my Facebook rant last night, I want to proudly say without hesitation: "You commanded me to love my brothers and sisters so I did.  You told me that in order to love you, I must love my brother, so here I am!"  

As this week progresses and we struggle to understand what is happening in the world, I pray you can do so exuding tolerance, empathy, grace and above all else:  LOVE.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Confused folks and barking dogs

This morning after shuffling the dogs in and out after their breakfast, I had one dog that did not want to come inside. Because I know it's pointless to argue with a dog seeking the last few rays of sunshine before winter, I left him out on the deck and went about cleaning up the kitchen. About 10 minutes later I heard a dog frantically barking in the backyard.  I didn't recognize the bark as one of my own dogs, but it made no sense for there to be another dog in my backyard, and when I went to the door there was my Jack Russell barking crazily at a man standing in the rear part of my backyard.  I quickly opened the door, and said: "Can I help you?"

His reply:  "Yeah, how much does it cost to buy one of these garden plots for the year?"  

I must have looked confused because he then replied as he's pointing to my raised vegetable beds:  "In the spring, how can I get one of there garden plots?"  I sort of chuckled and said:  "Excuse me?"  He replied: " This is the community garden, right?!"  Quickly I replied: "No sir, it's my backyard!"

After we had a brief discussion on why it wouldn't be smart for him to come into my backyard before coming through the front door again, I directed him to the community garden one block over.  
As soon as my heart was no longer in my throat, I laughed and thought to myself, I guess you know you are doing urban farming correctly when folks think they are in the community garden!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dibs on the Prozac!

As I was walking through the kitchen tonight, carefully balancing dinner for 9 dogs in my two arms, Star excitedly jumped up on me and BAM!  There thrown all about my kitchen floor was 12 cups of dry kibble mixed with water, 1 can of canned food, several glucosamine tablets and a rogue Prozac.  

For a split second I was angry....

Do these dogs not know that the housekeeper just mopped our floors?  Is it too much to ask the dogs for clean floors just for 1 day?!  

But as I poured myself a glass of wine while watching the dogs suck up dog food faster than a turbo charged vacuum cleaner, I thought to myself:  "Screw it.  I would rather tone a dog down, than build a dog's self esteem up, and if the only thing that keeps this dog excited is food, well by God we will just eat dinner off the floor tonight!"

I call dibs on the Prozac!

*** Star the Malinois will be available for adoption through American Belgian Malinois Rescue.  You can find out more about their amazing organization and adoption requirements at ***

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Doing what she was bred to do!

When I adopted Lilly 10 months ago, I thought I was getting a completely different dog than I got.  Lilly was adopted from a rescue by a woman with really good intentions who was guilty of loving Lilly too much...

You see, dogs like Lilly need more than just food and love.  They need boundaries and a strong leader as well.  That is how Lilly found herself back in the hands of rescue a second time.  Lucky for me, I had temporarily fostered a dog for this group, and told them what type of dog I was looking for, so I jumped on the chance to adopt Lilly.

Now, I am not stupid.  I never adopted Lilly with the idea she was going to be an "easy" dog.  I by nature am a Belgian Shepherd sort of girl.  I like a dog that is spirited but honest, and wants to work with you.  I also love a "bad" dog...  Where I don't mind fostering "wallflower type" dogs, my most successful K9 partners have been dogs with a back bone that would just as soon flip you off than let you be right.

The day we met Lilly, I felt sorry for her.  She was an over weight, unemployed dog, begging for work, and because she had been living in a doggie daycare facility for quite an extensive period of time during her unemployment, she was driving people crazy with her antics.  I immediately noticed Lilly was wickedly smart, and tried really hard to impress me with her agility skills.  I was hooked!  

I signed her paperwork, and then I was handed a yellow folder with all of her medical information in it.  It was in the very back of the file that I found a letter regarding Lilly from her old owner and as I read through it I whispered to The Reluctant Farmer:  "What the hell did we just adopt, a gremlin?!"  The letter was a list of rules about what you could and could not do with Lilly.  No drive-thru windows, no wire crates, no food after 7 pm, and my favorite:  Don't allow her on your couch because she will bite you when you ask her to get off.  

I really wasn't sure about the adoption until I read that last warning, and that is when the illogical part of my brain went:  "Hell, yes!"  I love a dog with enough backbone that she will challenge me,  This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!

I took Lilly home, and then I realized within minutes, I did not adopt a Belgian Shepherd.  I adopted a Border Collie.  Very similar in drive, but 2 completely different breeds on several aspects.
1)  Border Collies have a neurotic side that Belgians do not have, and Lilly's neurosis was intensified because she lived in a 10 x 10 run at a doggie daycare until her owner agreed to re-release her to rescue.

2)  She didn't give two shits about me, and she didn't need me at all.

I cried.
And then I got really busy working with this dog.

In the beginning Lilly and I butted heads every day, but I have to tell you I have loved every moment with this girl, because she has taught me so much.  She has made me step out of my comfort zone, forced me to be a better handler, and subjected me to stuff I would have never done before.
That is why this morning I drove her one state over to Stockdog U for herding lessons.

I didn't need one more thing to do with this dog, and this sport looks hard as hell, but I know in my heart, Lilly needs this activity like a fish needs water and I respect her enough to know this would make her world complete.  She had a blast today and it was breathtaking to watch her instincts take over.

We can't wait to go back.  
I think we just found a new sport....

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Good News for Star!

Last Saturday, we received a new foster dog from American Belgian Malinois Rescue.  Her name is Star.  She is 2-3 years old, and originally was a stray.  Star is one of those dogs whom you wish could talk.  She came to AMBR with a healed fracture of the femur, 3 out of 4 K9 teeth broken off, and some intense scarring on her ear.  Star's story until this point has been a sad one, this is evident in the way she shrinks from our hand, paces constantly, and runs from us if we move too fast.  

We have worked very hard this week to treat Star just like any other dog who lives here, and I am happy to report she is making progress.  She has learned to sit, down, and is working on her crate training.  She has made dog friends, cat friends, and is just as nice as they come.  My main concern this week has been Star's leg.  I have been watching her and where originally she came to me with the understanding she would have her leg amputated while she was here, I have questioned that all week.  
I took Star to visit Dr. Kelley tonight for a surgical consult to start the process of having the leg removed, and I am happy to report the veterinarian said Star doesn't need surgery at this time!  Dr. Kelley evaluated Star's leg and agreed, she uses the injured leg just as much as her good leg.  She said her knee was stable, the fracture has healed, and confirmed Star is not in any pain.  She said amputation is still an option if Star is in pain from arthritis later in life, but most likely she will just be 2 inches shorter on one side.
This makes my heart happy, because amputating Star's leg when she has just started to trust us, was really making me sad.  Star doesn't know it yet, but her "story" is about to have a much different ending than she originally expected, an ending where happily ever after does exist!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Letter to my dog....

Dearest Dog,

I want to start this letter by reminding you that I, as your dog-mom, will always love you no matter what.  I also want to remind you that if you ever again act the way you acted tonight, I will lovingly choke you with my bare hands.  You see, when you attempt to bite me because you are angry that you have such a "stupid human" to work with, I find you offensive.  You probably picked up on that when the world came crashing down on you after such heinous behaviour....

Embarrassingly for me, I think the entire class found us both offensive.  (I'm not sure if you noticed their horrified stares or not, but go team!)  Good news is, we get to go back again next week!  Bad news is, I am still your partner...  Let's collectively work harder at keeping things civil between the two of us.  Now, I know that deep down inside your little Border Collie heart, you love me.  That love is somewhere, smooshed between loving to work without me and wanting to herd the cats, but you can't fool me, it's in there!  (I see the same look of annoyance on your face that I see on my teenage daughter's face, but I have faith you will come around to your senses soon.)  Until you come around, I, your mother, will just continue to drive you all over the county to agility lessons, nose work lessons, herding lessons, feed you premium organic kibble and insure you have the best veterinary care, all because I love you and I want you to succeed in life.  It's okay, I trust you appreciate me and you can thank me later.

Your Mom

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What he said!

Yesterday when I wrote the post about how I didn't like for people to call my dogs "rescued", I didn't just ruffle one lady's feathers, I quite frankly pissed her off...  She took my blog post rather personal, and was very vocal about that fact in an online creative group.  She accused me of "demonizing" rescue and all sorts of other things, inviting me to "come into the trenches of rescue" (Clearly she has no idea I have lived in the trenches for the better part of 2 decades...), etc...  Bottom line she was WAY upset about what I wrote.

I still stand firm in what I said yesterday, and there was never an intended dis towards rescue.  It was the fact that people automatically equate the words "rescue" and "abuse" as the same thing and feel sorry for a "rescue" dog because it's had a "hard life", when honestly if we took the label away and just let the dog be a dog, allowing it to have a clean slate, to re-create it's life from the first moment of being in our lives, real healing starts to take place immediately.  It allows the dog to move forward and get on with life, something we humans are not good at.  

Fellow author/friend Jon Katz wrote a blog post about my post yesterday and perfectly summed up what I was trying to say.  

Thank you Jon!  Once again your written word was quite enlightening....