Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2013

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

martin-luther-king-jr-360x225

Jon Katz’s blog allows us into a childhood memory in reflection of what Dr. King means to all of us. I hope he is looking down on us, proud of the progress we’ve made but knowing we still have a long way to go. Peace & Love.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I’m fortunate to have a friend who happens to be a dog groomer. She happens to be a very good groomer and a very good friend. Many moons ago I apprenticed with her to learn the art of grooming. This was during the time I still had a weekday, nine to five job so my Saturdays were spent at the grooming shop. I couldn’t practice on her clients so I would stop by the shelter and pick out a mutt in serious need of a spa day. They may not have had the most even haircut (I’m terrible at cutting straight lines) but they would be clean and had to feel better. I’m proud to say every dog I practiced on got adopted. Little things like that make a huge difference.

It didn’t take long until I realized dog grooming was not my forte. But I can give a tremendous bath! I worked with Terry for about a year as her “bath girl”. Our friendship grew and she remains one of my favorite people. She kept our boy, Sam, looking sharp his entire life. He loved to hang out with his Aunt Terry.

Sammy Dean at 16, shortly before we lost him to bone cancer. He never met a face he didn't kiss!

Sammy Dean at 16, shortly before we lost him to bone cancer. He never met a face he didn’t kiss!

When our family of canines were young (and my back didn’t hurt) Scottie and I used to bathe them weekly! That is crazy. Not only is it not good for their skin but it’s just not necessary. As the years have gone by, our bathing days have become less and less. You know what? We have minimal skin issues and no stinky dogs. Brushing is important, especially when you have Australian Cattledogs who “blow” their coats a few times a year. It seems one of the cowgirls is blowing their coat at all times.

When it is time to bathe I’m thankful I can go to Terry’s and use her bathtub. It’s raised. Makes a huge difference to the bathers pain and suffering. The dog still suffers the indignity of a bath, though, as Eva is about to demonstrate.

She thought we were just out visiting friends.

She thought we were just out visiting friends.

She's pitiful.

She’s pitiful.

She wasn't as dirty as I'd thought she'd be. It's been months since she had a bath.

She wasn’t as dirty as I thought she’d be. It’s been months since she had a bath.

She knows what's coming next.

She knows what’s coming next.

"If you love me you won't put me under the dryer!"

“If you love me you won’t put me under the dryer!”

Alas, she did get put in a crate with a dryer. A cowgirl coat takes a long time to dry. Eva doesn’t have nearly as thick a coat as our other girls but she still needed the dryer. She gets her heart broken easily but recovers quickly. Thank you, Aunt Terry! You make our bathing experiences much more enjoyable.

Eva and Terry, still friends.

Eva and Terry, still friends.

Read Full Post »

The time has come to clean our vintage saddle. I was assured by our trainer/friend, Gary Adams (Quest Horsemanship) that it was neither too heavy or in ill repair. It even fits Cass. Years of dirt have built up and there are a few pieces that need to be replaced but all in all,  it’s in excellent shape for being an old-timer. I had no idea how to clean a leather saddle. He schooled me and assured me there was no way I could really hurt it. So here we go!

Eva awaits more instruction after gathering needed supplies.

Eva awaits more instruction after gathering needed supplies.

He told me to dunk the saddle (several times) in water! I filled our large water trough and prayed this was really what I was supposed to be doing.

Filling the big tub.

Filling the big tub.

The water immediately turned brown.

The water immediately turned brown.

I made sure to dunk it and dunk it again and dunk it one more time, covering it completely.

Dripping on the stand.

Dripping on the stand.

If I thought it was heavy before this… the water must have added another ten pounds! No turning back now, my saddle was soaked. A good scrubbing was next.

Soaping it up.

Soaping it up.

Dawn dishsoap, safe enough for ducks, safe for my saddle.

Dawn dishsoap, safe enough for baby ducks, safe for my saddle.

I got brave and removed pieces that were rotten. This piece shows where I believe the saddle was made. There’s a store in TX called Luskey’s/Ryon’s. I was thinking it was made in the ’70’s. Gary thinks it may even be older than that.

Rotted pieces.

Rotted pieces.

Gleaming in the sun.

Gleaming in the sun.

Lots of grime came off, not sure if I will need to do another scrub or not.

0112031250b

Positioning the stirrups.

Positioning the stirrups.

Gary told me to use brooms to position the stirrups so the fenders would dry in the proper position for riding. The next step in our process will be oiling it once it’s had time to dry. I feel much more confident than when I began this task. Once the saddle is ready I’ll have no more excuses, will I?

Eva's waiting.

Eva’s waiting.

Read Full Post »

I found a piece of paper I had tucked away in a drawer at the barn. On it I’d written eight things I’d planned to accomplish over the year. I only got one done. It happened to be the most important one, getting back to St. Louis for my Mom’s birthday party, but I still felt a bit ashamed of myself. So, I’m carrying over my “to accomplish list” and have already gotten a head start on a biggie – riding Cass!

Amidst the craziness of the holidays one of our miracle workers, Wes Maillard, came out to do some CranioSacral therapy on my girl. I didn’t want to start working her with our saddle until I knew her body was in balance and could handle the weight.

Wes begins working on Cass.

Wes begins working on Cass.

What is CranioSacral therapy? It’s a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole body health and performance. Wes has worked on Cass a handful of times over the nearly five years I’ve had her. Not difficult to imagine how riding on a truck five days and over 3,000 miles would get a body out of whack, especially while carrying a baby. We met Wes shortly after Cass arrived. I’ve witnessed her body letting go of trauma when he works his magic. Truly magical stuff.

1217021027b

1217021024a

1217021033b

1217021022

1217021041

1217021046

1217021047a

1217021048

1217021049

1217021050b

A funny thing happened this day. Shortly before Wes was to arrive, my neck went out, seriously OUT! I was lifting the pasture gate up and BAM! an intense shot of pain ran through my neck. I tried to shake it off but couldn’t. I even had to call Scottie out to the barn to help me because I could barely move. I kept thinking, “Wes is coming, he can fix me!”

And he did. Amazingly. Now I really understand how I’m helping my horse feel better. Thank you, Wes. Whew!

1217021126

 

Read Full Post »

We begin this New Year saying goodbye to an old dog. Dixxy Blu told us quite clearly her time here was done and she needed our help to move on to whatever the next phase may be. You’d think after having to make this decision over 30 times it’d be easy, but it never is, no matter what the circumstance. I sit here now, surrounded by the remaining pack members all napping peacefully and I feel the definite energy change. Scottie and I hadn’t realized how huge a presence Ms. Dixxy projected. The whole house is subdued.

I’ve told her story before but it deserves to be told again.

We attended an adoption event held by Seminole County Animal Services in early Spring 2010. We’d recently adopted a senior Cattledog from them and the workers really wanted to see how she was doing. So, Scottie, Barby, Eva and I embarked on a little adventure. We weren’t there more than five minutes before people started telling us about two Cattledogs in a shelter in Melbourne, FL. Every booth we stopped at someone mentioned them. “Two older girls, one red, one blue; may be related, time’s running out!” That’s the power of Internet.

Dixxy in her shelter run.

Dixxy in her shelter run.

Joolz in the shelter.

Joolz in the shelter.

We did not need or even want another dog, much less two and much less two female Cattledogs! I saw the shelter photos and my heart broke. Scottie’s heart broke even more. I left the decision up to him. They’d been there twenty days and no one showed any interest. They were in danger because the shelter needed room for more dogs. Sheltering is a vicious cycle of saving lives and ending them. Before long they were hitching a ride to come home. (Much appreciation to Cheryl Lynn Vaughn of Ruff  Rescue for arranging everything.)

From the moment we met these two we knew they were special. We sure couldn’t understand how their family had walked away from them, much less in the middle of the night from the horrid drop box. Shelter night drop boxes are designed so cowards can leave their pets without the scrutiny of others. They did leave a note – “This is Dixie & Jewel, they are good girls.”

Starting their new lives as Prince girls.

Starting their new lives as Prince girls.

Being good girls was quite the understatement. On our way home that day we stopped at Twistee Treat. (Scottie cannot drive past one!) They both laid quietly in the back of the Scion and took turns licking their cone. Quite impressive. They both had a myriad of obvious health issues: missing hair, inflamed skin, creaky bones, abscesses. Nothing we couldn’t handle. Everyone assumed they must be related and we settled in on the mother/daughter dynamic, Dixxy being Mom. She was older (estimated to be 10-12 yrs. when rescued), Joolz was more around 8. Hard to tell sometimes, though, especially when you’ve been rode hard and put up wet as Dixxy had been.

This shows what rescuing is all about. Look at those faces.

This shows what rescuing is all about. Look at those faces.

Their distinct opposite personalities didn’t take long to emerge. Joolz was the flower child, loving everyone and everything. She did pirouettes of joy constantly. Dixxy was a tough, tough, tough biker chick. She took no lip from anyone, not even our “boss dog” Eva. They came in as if they’d always been part of us.

Eva (front) can't believe this old lady's staring her down!

Eva (front) can’t believe this old lady’s staring her down!

Dixxy grew more and more beautiful everyday. She was a sweet as she was tough. She would shiver with happiness just to be scratched. She would give gentle kisses even if she’d just snapped at one of the other dogs. She was a control freak! This is a good trait to have as a herding dog. Six months after acclimating to the family, her big health problems began. She healed from a massive dental overhaul, we were treating her thyroid issues and creaky joints but cancer decided to rear it’s ugly head. Dixxy had never been spayed. Most older females will develop either ovarian or mammary/breast cancer if they haven’t been spayed. It’s all about the hormones. We found extremely aggressive ovarian cancer in Dixxy.

She was given three months to live.

Dixxy & her 3 lb. boyfriend, Gus.

Dixxy & her 3 lb. boyfriend, Gus.

It was no real surprise but those three months turned into nearly three years! Yes, our tough girl simply had too much zest for life to let a little cancer get in her way. She had a tumor pop up on her leg. She chewed it off herself. She had a tumor pop up on her eyeball. (You can see it in above pic.) It ended up rupturing, twice, and she didn’t even flinch. Never came back a third time. She loved chewing on bones and rolling around in the grass. If the younger dogs started wrestling she would pull her tired, old body up and jump right into the middle of them. She ate tree roots like there was no tomorrow. Maybe she had found some magic in those roots? She was a joy.

Lounging in the yard during her final days.

Lounging in the yard during her final days.

When you hear a calling in life you have to follow it. We were called to help the old and sick. We help them have faith in people once again after utter disappointment from those they depended on. We help them feel safe. We help them find joy. And when the time comes, we help them have a dignified death surrounded by love and respect. This is the part that scares the bejeezus out of most  people. We don’t look at death as something to fear, it’s gonna happen, make it a wonderful thing. We look at the blessing of the time we have with the old ones.

Joolz says goodbye to her Momma.

Joolz says goodbye to her Momma.

Oh, to have known Dixxy when she was young! As amazing as she was old, it’s difficult to imagine what she was like young and robust. She had to have kicked much ass and I say that in the most respectful way. We cherish having known her at all.

This expression is Dixxy. Cutting those eyes and giving "the look".

This expression is Dixxy. Cutting those eyes and giving “the look”.

As is my usual, Dixxy’s things were put away. The counter has one less bowl as I get food going and family traffic no longer has to step over her bed. She preferred to be right in the middle of everything. But this morning it was just too empty looking upon “her spot”. I put her bed back. It wasn’t too long after when I saw her daughter.

She looks lonely in her Momma's bed.

She looks lonely in her Momma’s bed.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss

We are smiling because Dixxy happened and she happened to us.

Dixxy Blu a gem of a cowgirl.

Dixxy Blu a gem of a cowgirl.

Dixxy’s song.  Pearl Jam – Just Breathe

“Nothing you would take, everything you gave…”

Read Full Post »