Strange Days, Indeed


image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

In the smaller, personal word, I laid a bird to rest this morning. A thunk reverberated through the dinette and family room. He laid on the back step with glassy unfocused eyes staring at the sky. I think he might have been an immature cardinal based on the coloring, still mostly white but with bright orange-red feathers sprouting through.  With the help of a plastic bag, I transported the remains to the northeast corner of the property, then gently laid him on the ground. “May you rest and may you fly free,” I said. May it be so.

Now we wait the long wait for the vets’ office to return the second call. Oakley was a little restless last night. He finally found a cool spot near the fan and dozed off, or so I thought. By some act of grace, Hubby was up early. Oakley wasn’t snoring in front of the fan. Hubby went downstairs to find Oakley panting and pacing by the back door. Hubby woke me up so I could take him out. Out we were in the nick of time. It was bad enough that Oakley  is staying home from day care today. I called the vets’ for an antidiarrheal and an antibiotic used in extreme scenarios. The former is ready. Somehow, the request for the latter didn’t get filled.

Before that, Hubby had to wake me up at 1:30 this morning. Whatever I was dreaming about caused me to yell in my sleep. He gently woke me up. Usually, that’s the end of the story. But my brain took off on me. I never really went back to sleep. That was the second night in a row.

The not-so-personal world has ratcheted up the nuttiness to new levels

I struggle not to attach meaning to the deceased bird, the bad dreams, the upset tummy, or the incoming full moon. But after the last few days of news, I wonder. Tensions between law enforcement and minorities simmer as they did back in 1967-68 as I remember. We had Dallas, near St. Louis, St. Paul in the last week. The national conventions lie just ahead. Demonstrations will be held, I’m sure. May they be peaceful on all sides.

Another round of potentially severe storms hovers on the horizon for this afternoon. I took Oakley out about an hour ago. Hot sun plus mugginess plus a cool breeze indicates instability. We watch and wait.

Hopefully, the storms through the power of the water and the energy generated will provide a cleansing for the world. Or at least our little corner of it.

The End of Eras


Photo by Brian Hanna via


Garrison Keillor hosted his last “Prairie Home Companion”  yesterday. Of course I listened. Just as I have for the majority of Saturday evenings since–OK, you caught me–I was in junior high. There will be “best of” rebroadcasts, I’m sure, as NPR has done with “Car Talk.” It won’t be quite the same, but I’m sure that my fellow fans will still be able to count on two hours of respite from the lunacy that is the world these days.

Another end came up in my news feed yesterday, too, one much closer to home. The mom (no pop) shop where I’ve bought some of Oakley’s supplies since his first week home was sold.

The bittersweetness was mitigated by knowing that both transitions are likely for the best.  Garrison’s leaving the show in the capable hands of Chris Thile, a mandolin player I look forward to getting to know better. He is cut from the same cloth as Garrison, and will do well as he puts his stamp on the show. The new owner of the pet supply store is a local chain that has the same values and commitment to providing customers with high quality products made in the US as the mom does. They’re keeping all the staff, so that’s a good thing.

Both changes are for the better. Garrison is 73. In one of the many articles covering his retirement he quietly mentioned some health concerns as well as a desire to get back to writing. Under its new ownership, the store can expand and serve more people and pets now.

I still spent a lot of time sighing yesterday. Sighing for the passage of time. I took Orion to the mom store the last couple of years of his life, followed by a then-scrawny semi-feral Oakley.  Wondering how I arrived at the age I am now even though I still feel twenty most days. Sighing for yet another round of changes and letting go. Not exactly painful, not earth shattering, but just change.

Yet, there is consistency. Both Garrison and the mom ensured that the high-quality entertainment and pet supplies continue. We’ve been left in good hands by both. It will play out for the best and highest, I’m sure. In a mass produced world, it’s good to see the unique continue.








#WoofWoofWednesday: Home Cooking for Canines

12091164_1093123694038950_1270561461227914638_o“Carson, we’d like the tea and biskies now….” (image courtesy Mid Day Play)

That’s Oakley’s favorite place for a short rest at day care. He’s gracious enough to share the sofa with his with his friends, though. He also might be wondering what his mom is making him for dinner. Am I going to get turkey? Bison? Bunny? I know I’m getting pumpkin. Other carb veggies set my tummy off because they have too much sugar. Is Mom going to try to get me to eat spinach? It’s not as good as grass, but Mom said I had to eat spinach once or twice a week because Dr. P said so. I hope it’s turkey. Yeah, I’d like some turkey…

I think his wish came true that night. Frozen turkey (thawed and cooked, of course) and pumpkin. He’ll eat spinach now and then, but mostly then.

Spinach, pumpkin, and one of the above proteins fall on the cool end of the spectrum in Chinese medicine and nutrition. Because of the low fat and sugar content, they are least likely to cause inflammation for Oakley, keeping his tummy calm and his mother sane. I can easily find canned bison and rabbit without additives. The turkey has to be cooked from scratch after the label gets scrutinized. He can have two biscuits a day without digestive repercussions. Dr. P had suggested a vitamin powder, but every time I’ve tried one of those, it’s knocked his tummy out of whack. He seems to be doing just fine without them–his hair is smooth and soft, blood work numbers are all good, so I see no sense in rocking the ship.

This is what works for him. It’s not spoiling him any more than it would be giving him insulin if he were a human child with diabetes.  I get weird looks sometimes when I speak of making his food, but as long as he’s happy and healthy, the critics can look askance to their heart’s content.

A lot of kibble has ingredients that may be healthy for some dogs, but not so much for Oakley. Omega 3 fatty acids set him off. We don’t talk about what happened when he ate a flax-based food in polite company.

Pumpkin. Protein. Spinach. Occasionally an egg or a tiny bit of cheese. This is what works for us. Things might be very different for your fur-child. Please talk to your vet before changing over to a new feeding regimen.

If you’re interested in exploring home cooking for canines, please read Dr. Pitcairn’s Book of Natural Health for Dogs and Cats or Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Dogs and Cats. 

And someone please ring Carson for the tea and biskies.


Calling in the Artillery

With a sigh of relief, Oakley gets his last antibiotic pill at bedtime tonight with his snack. Then we will go out. Then we will watch something on YouTube or Netflix, and then we will sleep.

That’s been at a premium lately. The colitis flareup just wouldn’t quit and the Chinese herbs barely touched it. As soon as it calmed down, something triggered it off again. Did I undercook something? Did he eat one of those tidbits that repulse humans but count as delicacies to dogs? I will spare you the details, but after throwing everything I had in terms of herbs and homeopathy at it, the diarrhea just wouldn’t quit and grew worse. I called and had the vet fill a prescription for the antibiotic and an antidiarrheal.

We both slept better that night and have since. He’ll go back on the herbs for longterm management tomorrow. And please to whomever is listening, may we not go through this for a long time. Never would be my preference.

In Oakley’s case, he has cyclical overgrowths of gut bacteria which triggers off the diarrhea. He also stresses out easily.  He sensitivity to my moods, my storms doesn’t help. One of my local friends who does energy work commented that she’s never seen a dog and a human hardwired into each other the way that Oakley and I are. Knowing what goes on in my ADHD-addled mind and the unanswered questions in my heart, it cannot be easy for him.

When I gave him probiotics, it exacerbated the whole mess. And I do mean mess. I tried slippery elm, an herb for both constipation and diarrhea, and let’s just say that it backfired on an epic scale.

I really don’t like pharmaceuticals, but sometimes it becomes necessary to bite the bullet and just make the call  for the refill. Yes, I will own my paranoia over the effects of antibiotics. And I will own my stuff over many doses prescribed to me by the prescription-happy family doctor who treated my family in my childhood. I just don’t like them.

Yes, I know that medicines can save lives. Maybe it’s arrogance on my part, but I always feel as if I failed him somehow when we need to resort to that. I go to herbs first, second, and third, but when they don’t work, I get frustrated as hell with them and myself.

And there are still the lingering questions that I can never let go of about choices made for Orion. Did I do something that caused the lymphoma? Over vaccinate? Too many rounds of steroids to get him some relief from his allergies? Could I have done something differently?

I don’t know, but peace with those questions isn’t forthcoming.

But if there is a next flareup, I will call a lot sooner.


Gotcha Day. Adopt-aversary. Adoption day. Whatever you call it, it’s a good day to celebrate.

Four years ago last Wednesday, Oakley came home. Did I show you this picture? oakley

(He was getting anxious and his eyes had dilated, causing a weird bounce of the flash.)

The application had been processed in forty eight hours. The call came: want to meet him at the adoption fair on Saturday?

Yes, please. Clean the crate. Put anything chewable out of reach. Get the water bowl ready, the one with DOG on the side. Kept us from using it for chips.

Ready as we ever could be, we drove to the pet store hosting the fair. It was sunny, mild, and the residual snow from the Groundhog Day blizzard clung in clumps and small heaps to the green spaces in the parking lot.

Oakley and a terrier mix occupied a large crate. The director of the shelter reached in, put a slip lead around Oakley’s neck and brought him out to meet us. He seemed puzzled, but compiled with us walking him around on the leash.

Filled out some more paperwork, bought some necessities, and headed to the car.

I managed to corral several yards of legs and tail into a manageable bundle and sat him on my lap. He looked out of the window, then put his head on my shoulder, sighed, and began to snore.

Even with the bond forging between pour hearts, it took time to unpack the shelter baggage, more than expected. It took patience to help him grow beyond the semi-feral anxiety based behaviors, more than I thought I had. Every night, I reminded him, “You are a descendent of the companions of the courts of France and England. I expect you to act as such.”

Not a few treats later, he blossomed from the spastic moody teen-dogger into a calm (except at play group), affectionate, gentle companion doing his Great Pyr and hound ancestors proud.

And his human mom, too.

Monday, Monday…

I’m not feeling very coherent today. Yesterday was cool and rainy. Oakley, sensible fellow that he is, slept the better part of yesterday. We paid for it with a 2 AM potty run. I wasn’t able to get back to sleep very well, so I’m dragging a bit.

Today he’s going for his bimonthly spa treatments at a new groomer’s. She is a handler at his newest day care place, and so far, they like each other. I’m sure they still will after the bath-ears-nails-routine.

Thoughts in the food department are equally incoherent. Root veggies are on my mind. My local friendly organic farmers had their last farm stand yesterday. Carrots, real big chunky ones, ended up in my bag. Not sure if they will be eaten or photographed. They look like the ones Bugs Bunny chomps as he counters Elmer Fudd.

Squash, too, is on my mind. I’m thinking about the butternut squash curry with tofu my beloved late local pan-Asian made. Time to do some research and make some myself.

The Challenging Yoga of Dog Cuddling

This morning, Oakley hopped up on the sofa next to me and wrapped his left paw around my right arm. I had just enough wiggle room to reach up and scratch his ear. Then I reached over to scratch his right ear with my left hand, and he wrapped his right paw around my left wrist, pinning me down and pulling me over to him so my cheek rested on top of his head.

Deciding that he was comfortable, he fell asleep. Luckily for me, it was just a micro-nap. Any longer in that half-sitting-half-lying-down-elbow-balance would have caused me to freeze.

Refreshed, he was ready for his morning walk and kindly let me up so we could proceed.

Tuesday Thoughts

Yesterday started the week on bittersweet notes. One of my friends made the always painful decision to walk her dog to the Rainbow Bridge. B, the dog, had a congenitally curved spine that caused arthritis in his back end. Until the last month or so, the rounds of swimming, chiropractic and laser treatments, and vet visits for pain meds had kept him going. His body just gave out and his eyes said “no more.” He’s running free now, and his human walks the tough and rugged trail through her grief. We, both human and canine, who knew B walk with her.

The day care center where Oakley has spent the vast majority of Wednesdays and many happy sleepovers is going out of business. None of the other properties in the area will work on licensing and permits with her. The landlord is rather Dickensian in his approach to business, a more articulate description and less likely to land me in legal trouble for public questioning of his character and highly personal preferences. I take comfort in the words of TV sage Maude Findley: “God will get him for that.” Or karma. I leave it to those forces.

Anyway, Oakley and I found a new day care center and sleepover camp for him. It’s run by one of the trainers who worked with him when he was at his most semi-feral self. It’s small, but well-staffed, clean, and quiet. He took off running with the other dogs while I spoke with Ms. R about the details. When we left, Oakley planted his butt in her driveway to indicate that he didn’t want to leave. I respect his decision. He’ll go for some half days and start on Wednesdays in September to get him into the groove. That part of the equation is solved.

My next task: paperwork for the new day care place and set a date for his first half day there. We’ll still go to the usual Wednesday place until the final day, and then it’s on to the next adventure.

Practicing Radical Acceptance: The Monday Edition

Letting go of fighting reality and accepting that it is what it is…that’s the definition of radical acceptance. It doesn’t mean that you have to like the situation. It just means that you accept it without judgement, feel your anger, sorrow, and make peace with the situation so that you don’t waste energy with forcing change for the unchangeable.  You breathe, half-smile, and keep going. 

Today’s lessons:

  • I can’t do anything about the situation that my friend whom I wrote about yesterday is in without stirring up legal or karmic trouble for myself. I acknowledge that I am p.o.’d about the whole deal, but can’t do anything about it.
  • My sister-in-law is in the hospital due to a reaction from a drug given during a routine screening procedure. I can’t change how her body reacted, nor can I slug the doctor, tempting as it is. I can choose not to under go that screening myself, and will get some incense going for her later. 
  • The daily hour of walking is enough exercise for Oakley, but not so much for me. His Pyr lineage means that he gets along with less exercise than Orion did. Pyrs were bred to watch over flocks from elevated places such as rocks or even trees. Brittanys were bred to flush and retrieve game. Until the last couple of weeks of his life, Orion could easily drag me around our local state park for two hours a day, digging holes in the back yard and reading the riot act to the feral cats in between. A half hour nap and he was ready to go again. 

So today, I accepted that I can’t change my friend’s situation, nor my sister-in-law’s illness. Even though Oaks does have a few drops of Brittany in there, he has the heart and soul of his Pyr ancestors. I accepted that, and will refrain from stressing and guilt tripping myself about his lack of interest in long walks.

I worked out to a Bollywood-style dance video, then walked Oaks for about half an hour. We’ll walk if the weather cooperates a little later. But we are both a lot happier tonight. 



Scattered Monday Thoughts: The Entirely Too Early Edition

The fact that I’m vertical is a miracle. In the wee smalls this morning, some of the local critter population decided to have a party in the yard directly in front of the driveway alarm. Hubby finally turned it off after the tenth time through of the opening bars of “Fur Elise.” Beethoven I have no quarrel with; just not at a** o’clock. I couldn’t get back to sleep. 

What went through my head? Well, let’s try to meditate…focus on breath…focus on coolness going in and out of nostrils…no, not the theme from “Law and Order: Original Series…” no, just breathe–wait, is Oakley getting ready tho barf? No, he’s just giving himself a bath…ok, breathe. The breath draws in pure healing light…oh, why don’t I just get up? Oakley will want breakfast and it’s only a**:30. Too early. Ok, now I’m…

Jolted into irrevocable consciousness, I turned off the alarm on Hubby’s tablet. He was in the bathroom when it went off, then fell into snoring sleep after two breaths after he came back to bed.

I finally gave up just before six, made morning cups and Oakley’s egg, and have been getting on with it since.