Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dog Days of Summer Warrant Pet Safety

The “Dog Days of Summer” have truly arrived! I heard on the radio just now that temperatures here could very well be over 100 tomorrow! The announcer reminded listeners to be sure and watch out for their pets during the extreme heat. And because of this, it’s necessary for all pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their pets. And so I decided to post a Blog about this! It’s important that all pets be provided with plenty of shade and water. And whenever possible, bring them inside to keep them out of the extreme heat.

Do not leave any pet unattended in a car on hot days. Even if a car is parked in the shade, temperatures in a parked car can reach 120 degrees in no time at all. Leaving your pet in these conditions is extremely dangerous, even it’s for a short amount of time. The can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage and even death. Putting your pets at risk is simply not worth it. It’s a much better idea to leave them safely at home, preferably inside where it’s cool. If you come across a parked car with an animal inside, notify either the local animal control or police immediately. You may very well save a life by doing so! Symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:
  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid pulse
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vomiting
  • Deep red or purple tongue
If your pet does become overheated, it is essential that its body temperature be lowered quickly and immediate first aid is necessary. The first thing you need to do is to find a shady area for your pet. Apply cool water to your pet’s body, which will lower its body temperature. You should also apply either cold towels or ice packs to your pet’s head, neck and chest. Encourage your pet to drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. And finally, take your pet to a veterinarian ASAP.

It’s possible for pets to bet sunburned and your pet may need sunscreen on its nose and ear tips (ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer). This is especially true for pets with light-colored noses and light colored fur.

If you like to walk your dogs, do so either in the very early morning or later in the evening. Pavements become quite hot during the heat of the day and can burn your pet’s paws. It’s also important to note that people with short-nosed dogs and those with thick coats need to take extra precaution.

Photo Info: We fostered this boy a few years ago. When he came into rescue he weighed only 68 pounds and had lost 3/4 of his hair. He's happy and healthy now and has a wonderful home. His new "Mom" took this picture of last year as he relaxed in his pool on a particularly hot day! His name is Troy!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ice Cube Passion

When it comes to ice, I'm like a hamster. I've discovered lately that I hoard it. We don't have an ice maker and we don't usually buy store ice. Instead, we make ice the "old fashioned" way. We have 4 ice trays. I'm not the most coordinated person, but when it comes to filling ice trays I'm quite proficient. As soon as the ice in the trays is completely frozen, I open the trays and dump them into the ice bin. I then quickly refill them and pop them back into the freezer.

It's a pretty good feeling when the ice trays are completely frozen and the ice bin is full. Unfortunately, during these dog days of summer, that's a rare event. As of right now, the ice bin is full to overflowing and the trays are freshley filled.

To conserve ice, I've got 2 pitchers of ice water in the fridge, as well as a jug of Russell's sugar free "bug juice" and a couple of 2-Litre bottles of Diet Pepsi. Having our beverages cold means that we use less ice. I take one final step in ensuring our healthy ice supply- we use thermal glasses and mugs.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Book Nook

One of the many things involved in clearing out my Mother's house is finding something "to do" with her voluminous collection of paperback books. My Mother's taste in fiction isn't something you'd expect your Mother to enjoy. My Mother enjoys novels about vampires and romance... the steamier the better.

It’s difficult for my Mother to part with her books. However, the reality is that she has been somewhat compulsive in building her library. There are many duplicates, and many unread. There are several that she’s really not even interested in reading. So, we’ve decided to sell them.

A family friend started selling them online. However her husband had back surgery yesterday and she will not be able to continue. I went to her house on Tuesday and she “showed me the ropes” in regards to selling online! On Wednesday, I went to the bank and opened a special checking account to deal with this. I then spent the entire evening setting up my seller’s account and listing a couple of dozen books.

And ‘lo and behold, one sold this morning! I felt victorious! I dutifully printed out a packing slip, and hurried off to buy shipping materials. I then went to the post office and waved cheerfully goodbye to my first successful sale!

Like my Mother, I am a “shopper”. So who would have thunk? The buyer has become a seller. And that is a pretty fantastic feeling!

Here's a link to my store at Amazon:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

We've been infiltrated!

I'm feeling sort of crappy so I was trying to sleep in. I heard the phone ringing, and proceeded to crawl out of bed to find the damned phone. This time, it wasn't too hard because the phone was on the charger. Of course, I was too late and had to wait for any voicemail message to come through. The call had been from my friend Susan... our caller ID showed that she was calling from her cell phone, and she was more than likely on her way to work.

So I called her back and we were chatting away when complete pandemonium broke out. All 4 dogs went absolutely insane. They were barking wildly, so much so that I knew something or someone was in our yard. They sounded much too alarmed and anxious for it to be squirrel, rabbit or bird. So I told Susan that I better go and see. She said to call her back.

I walk through the kitchen towards the living room and stopped to get some of my on ammunition: dog biscuits. I was yelling for the dogs to be quiet, which in itself was an exercise in utility. It was at this point that it also occurred to me that I wasn't in a "presentable" state to greet someone at the door.

So I peer around the corner, and tried to see if someone was on the porch. There didn't appear to be anyone there, so I slipped into the dining room and quickly got a better look. Nope... nobody on the side porch! The dogs were still carrying on, but the aroma of the dog biscuits clutched in my hand must have wafted towards them, because their barking was rather half-hearted at this point.

As I was making them get off the couch, I glanced out the picture window, and saw our interloper. It was a great big green monster parked smack dab in our front yard. And bless their hearts, my 4 beloved sentries’ were doing the best to send out the alarm and to protect our fort!!! I love these dogs so much. At this point, biscuits were handed out, and everyone was safely tucked into their crate so that I could go back to bed.

But then I realized I need to call Susan back, but I had to wait a bit. So I checked email and decided to post this latest happening in my whacky world. Of course, by now you realize that the great big green yard monster is actually my beloved Ford Explorer. It was parked behind Russell's van, and when he left for work this morning, he pulled it over into the yard so that he could get out. I could have driven his van, but I really like my explorer.... he's such a big sweetie. He'd hate that I said so.... but it's the truth!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I have been excused...

I was summonsed for Jury Duty, and was supposed to report tomorrow. As instructed, I just called and learned that all trials have been cancelled for tomorrow. This releases me from my obligation.

In some ways I'm relieved. I have way too much on my plate as it is. Yet I've always wanted to have the experience of serving on a jury. I believe that it's my civic duty and that is something that I feel very strongly about.
Ah well, perhaps another time....

Monday, July 24, 2006

$3.09 a gallon????? Yikes!!!!

I was astounded this morning when I saw that gas had gone up over night to $3.09 a gallon! I think that is the highest I can ever remember it being in this part of the country. Geeeez....

For those of you reading this, I'm curious to know how much gas is right now in your town... so if you would, add a comment to this blog and tell me how much gas is in your area. I hope that anyone reading this blog will participate.

Also here is a link to a cool site for anyone living in the USA or Canada.... it will help you find the cheapest gas prices in your area, and you can sign up and participate and earn points to cheaper gas: Gasbuddy.Com

And of course, we need gas. While we were out on our expedition yesterday, we stopped for gas. We decided to gamble and only get a little bit, thinking that prices would go down today.... HA! The laugh's on us... and we've got alot of egg on our faces.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weekend's end.....

We managed to sleep in today! WOW!!! Yet, we didn't sleep in too late to miss going to Mass. We decided to attend mass at Emmanuel Roman Catholic Church, which is located in Downtown Dayton. Before today, I have never been there, and had always heard about how beautiful it is. I wasn't disappointed. It is a gorgeous church! It's very tradtional and not at all modern. I personally find many modern churches to be rather harsh and cold.

Emmanuel was built in the mid 1800's and survived Dayton's great flood of 1913. The stained glass windows are breathtaking. To be honest, I was so distracted by all the amazing windows and other beautiful things that I had a hard time concentrating. LOL!

After church, we went to breakfast at a neat little eatery, also located Downtown. We had hoped to pick up some spices from a man that has a stall in a street market, but the entire market is closed on Sundays. So, we moved on to plan b! We were soon on the interstate heading south out of town. Our destination: Turtle Creek Flea Market.

It was a great day to go to a flea market. The heatwave of the past 2 weeks finally broke Friday night, and temperatures were only in the mid 70's. Plus, there was no humidity to speak of. It was so nice not to have a "schedule" to adhere to. We were able to meander around the flea market at a leisurely pace. We purchased 3 bags of our brand of dog food for an amazing price, which was the entire reason for going to the flea market to begin with!

We had been at the flea market for a couple of hours when my cell phone rang. Reality had intruded on our day. The call was from my sister. She was checking to see if I was going to be visiting our Mother today. I assured her I was, and she asked me to pick up some things that my Mother needed. I told Russell that our next stop needed to be Wal-Mart!

Somehow, I thought that we would be able to avoid a trip to Wal-Mart this weekend... but I dont' think that is even possible. I don't think a weekend's gone by in the last 10 years where I haven't made at least one trip to Wal-Mart! Once we arrived at our local Wal-Mart, we decided to grab a sandwich at the "Subway" located inside the store. We felt so sorry for the girl working there. She was all by herself, and some customers had made huge messes at their table and at the beverage station. I will never understand why people behave this way. They simply have no respect!

After eating our late lunches, we picked up the things my Mother needed. Russell got paged about a problem with one of the systems at work, and he thought he might have to go in. Happily, the problem was resolved without him having to go in. I helped him walk and feed the dogs when we got home, then left to visit my Mom.

She was tired and not very talkative. I stayed for about 2 hours and headed home. It's been a quiet but nice evening. The air is cool outside... the crickets are filling the night air with their song.... I feel tired, but in a good way. I'm ready to take on the week... and will be "back in the saddle" tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, good night, and sleep tight!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Musing about July....

"July dawns on lake or river can be gauzy with mist and glowing beauty, a special bonus for quiet fishermen. July afternoons can roar and rumble with thunderstorms that slash the sky, shake the hills, and drench the valleys. July nights can be as cool as May, as sultry as late August, and they are lit with more fireflies than stars."
–Hal Borland

Hal Borland wrote an outdoor column for the Sunday "New York Times" for over 35 years. He's also written several books. I yearn to own a couple of them, but they're very hard to find. However, I'm lucky because one of the Mariansit Brothers at work has created somewhat of an art/meditation gallery in our building's elevator. Every day, he posts something written by Hal Borland. And in the 4 years that I've worked in the building, I've become quite enchanted with Mr. Borland's writings.

Family Night At Summer Camp

Russell has been with his Scout troop at summer camp since Monday. In year's past, family night has always been on Wednesdays. However this year, family night was moved to Friday (tonight). I was excited to see him (as always)! I left the house around 5PM in order to arrive by 6. I stopped and bought him some caffeine free diet soda and a big bag of ice. I then stopped to see the Colonel at KFC and ordered our dinner.
For Russell, ordered their new boness buffalo wings. For myself I ordered their honey barbecue boneless wings. I also got us some cole slaw and hush puppies. It took a while for the order to be put together. This isn't surprising considering my restaurant karma (which I'll blog about at a future date)!

I then headed to camp. I was worried about driving out during the 5 O'Clock rush on a Friday, but traffic really wasn't that bad. I arrived on time, and Russell was waiting. It was wonderful to see him. We carried our dinner back to the troop's campsite (Red Hawk). Several other families had already arrived, and we had a wonderful time talking with one another.

Everyone was in high spirits. All of the boys successfully completed all their merit badges. They had put together a skit for the evening's campfire in the council ring. As we were preparing to leave the campsite to attend the campfire, there were rumbles of thunder. Russell elected to stay behind at the campsite and watch over everything in case the storm was bad. I stayed with him and we chatted about the week! Another family joined us, and again we had a great time chatting.

The storm blew over.... there were only a few raindrops. It got darker and darker. It was really nice out. It wasn't too warm and the humidity had disappeared. It was fun watching the fireflies put on their show.... the trees were filled with them... it was beautiful.

Russell walked me to the car without a flashlight. He's so used to camp and can see in the dark. It's rather un-nerving but after 12+ years, I've learned to follow him out. They break camp tomorrow and he should be home between 12-1PM.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

TS Beryl

It looks like TS Beryl has the potentional to wreck havoc with the Northeast. There is a "Tropical Storm Warning" for SE Massachusetts from Plymouth to Woods Hole. This includes Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod. Additional warnings may be issued as well.

Any storm is worrisome. However, since we're in the middle of summer, and the areas affected are filled with tourists and vacationeers, it's even more so. I pray that Beryl blows itself out to sea and no harm comes to anyone.

The fact that is is so early in the season makes me believe what the forecasters have been saying. More than likely, this will be another active year, storm wise. I heard last night that the experts think that most of the storms will be on the Atlantic side and not the Gulf side.

Either way, these storms are really lousy. To anyone reading this in the path of Beryl, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Stay safe....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

From my soapbox: Puppy Mills, Back Yard Breeders and Hobby Breeders

Ok… in a previous Blog, I have shared my views on what I think makes a “responsible breeder”. I now feel the need to discuss the difference between puppy mills, back yard breeders and “hobby” breeders. There are no clear definitions, and a lot of gray areas… and I’ll do my best to sort it all out in a clear and concise way!

What is a puppy mill?

Sadly puppy mills have been around for years, and because they are so profitable, they won’t go away anytime in the near future. There are many groups out there who are working diligently in shutting them down. Their task is monumental and overwhelming. Some might ask, why bother? Well, each life they save, each life they make better is a victory worth fighting for.
Here are some facts about puppy mills:
The Humane Society of the United States website defines puppy mills as: “Puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers. The puppies are sold either directly to the public via the Internet, newspaper ads, at the mill itself, or are sold to brokers and pet shops across the country…” “…The documented problems of puppy mills include over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor quality of food and shelter, lack of socialization with humans, overcrowded cages, and the killing of unwanted animals. To the unwitting consumer, this situation frequently means buying a puppy facing an array of immediate veterinary problems or harboring genetically borne diseases that do not appear until years later. In 1994, Time magazine estimated that as many as 25% of purebred dogs were afflicted with serious genetic problems. Sadly, some dogs are forced to live in puppy mills for their entire lives. They are kept there for one reason only: to produce more puppies. Repeatedly bred, many of these "brood bitches" are killed once their reproductive capacity wanes.”
Puppies sold at the majority of pet stores around the country come from Puppy Mills. While these puppies come with registration papers, they are not a guarantee of the puppy’s lineage.
The best way to eradicate puppy mills is to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue. Or, to take the time to find responsible breeders. Here is a link to a great webpage that has good information for potential puppy buyers:
5 Easy Steps To Avoid Puppy Mills

What is a Back-Yard Breeder (BYB)?

A BYB breeds dogs in order to sell puppies. Their entire goal is to make money from the sale of the puppies. They do not bother to concern themselves with breeding healthy dogs. They have little or no knowledge about genetics, pedigrees and potential health problems. They pay no attention to the “Breed Standard” for each of the breeds they are breeding. They don’t care who buys their puppies. They offer no guarantees and if someone has a problem with one of their puppies, they will not “be there” for the puppy’s owner. Once the puppy is sold, it ceases to exist in the mind of a BYB.

What is a hobby breeder?

A hobby breeder is what I described in an earlier Blog as a responsible breeder. They are breeding to improve the breed. They are conscientious about the health and temperaments of the puppies the breed. They are involved with every aspect of the breed and they care deeply about each of the puppies they breed.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Afternoon Safari

Russell’s at summer camp, so I’m doing “dog duty” solo. After arriving home from spending the afternoon with my Mom, I begin taking the dogs out for their afternoon walk. As always, Cora goes first. She and I are milling around the outside when I realize that she’s become fixated on something. Of course, it’s the Kamikaze Rabbit that’s taken up residence in the bushes along the front of our house. I hadn’t put the leash on Cora, so I quietly walked up to her and snapped it on. She casually walked towards the rabbit, who then hopped to the edge of our neighbor’s yard, where it has gotten into the routine of watching, waiting and “baiting” our poor unsuspecting dogs.

Luckily for the home team, I had put my ‘thinking cap’ on and I realized that I could gently convince the suicidal bunny to move on and explore the neighborhood. I gently walked with Cora towards the bunny, who quickly realized that life was precious and decided to head off on some sort of expedition. What the rabbit doesn’t know is that Cora is the most gentle of our 4, and she had no desire to hurt it. She just wanted to “meet” it! Realizing that my plan had worked, and feeling rather cocky and proud, I headed inside.

My good luck continued as I took Ben out. He canvassed the neighborhood to make sure that no outside dogs were infiltrating his domain. Once assured that all was secure in his precinct, Deputy Benjamin Fife got down to business. Dinner was calling and he didn’t waste any time. Next up was Yelda. I quickly leashed her up and out we went. Of course, I was still feeling quite cocky over outwitting the rabbit. And I wasn’t paying close attention, and when one is out with Yelda, one must always pay close attention.

And this is where things went wrong. Not so much for me, and not so much for Yelda. Rather, things went very wrong for a little field mouse that caught her attention. When I realized that Yelda was avidly fixated on something and was seriously holding her ground, I knew that this was going to be something. She was sniffing the ground and before you could say Mickey Mouse she had a mouse in her mouth. She proudly looked back at me and all I could see was said mouse’s tail sticking out between her lips. YUCK!

I got her up onto the porch, where she spit it out at my feet. I was pretty sure that the mouse had perished and would not recover. I made Yelda go out into the yard, where she promptly did her business. I then decided that if I took her around to the other side of the porch, I would be able to get her into the house without her mouse. NO SUCH LUCK!

As soon as we were on the porch, she lunged and got her mouse back. There was no way I was going in the house. I despise rodents of any kind, and I don’t deal well with dead ones either. At this point, I had a major case of the creeps and my brain was spinning… what to do, what to do????

I remembered that there were some dog biscuits in the car, so I walked Yelda and her mouse over to the car. The passenger door was locked, so I quickly led them around to the driver’s side. I opened the door and Yelda prepared to jump in. There was no way that was going to happen… not in this lifetime. She then realized that I was going to giver her something to eat and dropped the mouse. I quickly brushed the body under the car, grabbed the biscuit and walked her a few steps away and gave it to her. We then went inside, where I quickly crated her.

Kira’s trip outside was uneventful, bless her heart. She sniffed around the porch, so she must have had somewhat of what had happened, but the evidence is missing. We returned to the cool house and dinner was served. So now all that remains is the body. As I see it, I have two choices. I can either park in the exact same place every day, covering up the evidence. Or, I can back the car up, retrieve the body and dispose of it in the woods. I realize that’s what needs to happen. YUCK!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Making Of A Funnel Cake

The batter is poured from the funnel pitcher into the fryer...

The cakes are fried until golden brown...

Once cooked to perfection, the funnel cake is placed on a plate and covered in powdered sugar....


What a hot and sticky day. We got home from "Day 2" of the festival (a.k.a. "Funnel Cake Hell") about an hour ago. We're trying to stay up as long as possible for the dogs' sake. The picture on this blog is the view from the funnel cake booth. We felt immense relief when the sun went down! Tomorrow ("Day 3") is the final day. Thank God! I'm going to post a series of pictures that depict the making of a funnel cake!!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

From my soapbox: What Makes A Responsible Breeder?

I am continually astounded by how many people are looking for puppies and have no concept of what a responsible breeder is. Many of these people are inclined to buy puppies from pet stores, which is a VERY BAD IDEA!!! However, that is another topic for another time.

At this point, I would like to share with you my list of criteria that I would use to determine what makes a good and responsible dog breeder:

* When breeding, does the breeder breed according to the breed standard for your breed of choice?

* Does this breeder do all pertinent health clearances for your breed of choice i.e. hips, elbows, and any other health issues that your breed of choice may have issues with?

* Are all clearances posted on the OFA Website?

* Is he/she a member of the National Breed Club?

* Is he/she a member of any Regional Breed Clubs?

* Does he/she show her dogs in conformation, and do the Dam & Sire have their championship? Or, do they at least have points towards their championship?

* Does this breeder participate in any working dog events pertinent to your breed of choice?

* Do they show their dog in Obedience?

* Do they require new puppy owners to enroll their puppies in obedience classes?

* Do they have a contract... and if they do, will they take the dog back for whatever reason? (I know this seems unlikely at this point, but sometimes things happen and people are unable to keep the dog.)

* Have they asked you for references? (This sounds strange, because you're the customer, right? However, a breeder who truly cares about where their puppies go will often make people practically jump through hoops to convince him/her that they are worthy of one of their puppies.)

* Does this breeder require you to spay or neuter your puppy if it's not a show puppy?

* How old will the puppies be when the breeder sends them to their new homes? (anything under 10 weeks is a major red flag)

* Does the breeder require new puppy owners to check in on a regular basis... and is the breeder good about returning phone calls?

and last, but not least

* Do you like this person... I mean really like this person? Is this person someone that you are comfortable with, and will be able to consider them as an extended member of your family for the duration of your puppy's life, and even longer? If this answer is no... then don't get a puppy from them.

As I've said before... these are my personal preferences. There are many good and wonderful breeders out there. The sad reality is that there are even more bad breeders out there.

Most Dog breeds are multi-faceted. It is my belief that it is essential that breeders focus on all facets, and not just one or two.

Switching Gears

Life tends to "go on" despite whatever mess you're in the middle of, and this is the case for me this weekend. Every year, Russell co-chairs the funnel cake booth at his church's festival. In the past few years, he's needed my help more and more, and I've been more than happy to oblige. This year, in particular, he really needs me, as the man who has co-chaired the booth with him in years' past, died last winter.

And so, instead of dealing with all issues pertaining to my Mom, I will be up to my elbows in greasy, sticky, yummy funnel cakes. Updates to come, for sure!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tornado Warning! Yikes!

Things started out rather rough today, but as the day progressed, I was able to work things out. So I was feeling pretty darned good.... tired, but good. Russell had to work late and had just called to say he was on his way home.

We decided to meet at a nearby Thai restaurant when I saw there was a tornado warning!!! A tornado had actually touched down near the Dayton Mall and was heading in our direction. OMG!!!

Luckily, it passed us by... but geez Louise... what a day!!!!

And it's a full moon too!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Home Sweet Home???

It's been a long weekend and I'm exhausted, both mentally and physically. My spirit is weary tonight... and I have little energy to write this out. Yet I'm compelled to. I spent the day with my Mom in her new apartment at the assisted living facility. Understandably, she's feeling blue and vulnerable. I understand that, I realize that. We had a nice visit and she was doing really pretty well. And I talked to her when I got home this evening, and she was ok. Then I talked to my sister.....

Apparently, my Mother turned away the facilities' physician, because she didn't like the looks of her. We weren't there when this happened, and Lilli gave her a good talking to.

I don't know why I'm so upset... it's late, I'm exhausted... but I'm soooooooooo mad!!! And now I'll have to go and sort this out tomorrow. SIGH. Hopefully after a good night's sleep, I'll be more clearheaded and figure out how to sort all of this out.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moving Day

We'll be moving all of Mother's furniture today, and will be getting her room set up for her arrival tomorrow. The emotions I've been feeling over the past few days have been intense. Her beloved "Gracie" is going to her new home today. Her beloved "Chloe" will go tomorrow. That is mostly what's breaking my heart. I'll see them again, but I know they're anxious and confused. However, "it is what it is" and we can't turn back. So I'm trying to stay focused on moving forward. Yet so many memories jump out with each drawer we open. Thank goodness for the support of my husband, my sister and her family, and very very dear friends.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

How do you spell....?

My sister and I, along with our wonderful husbands are in the process of helping my Mother move into an assisted living facility, and it's incredibly stressful. We've been knee-deep in this for a few weeks now and things are progressing rapidly. We've carefully laid out a path for her and we'll be there every step of the way, every day... to love her and ensure she's getting the care she deserves.

We've found a wonderful place, and luckily, my Mother is receptive to this. She'll be moving in soon (probably this weekend). She is a collector extraordinare and her house is jam packed with stuff. So, I'm very very busy with this. There is so much to do, so much to think about that at time it completely overwhelms me. So, I'm just trying to take it one step, one day at a time.

The timing is good in one respect, because I'm on my annual summer hiatus. I need to be with my Mom as much as possible... while she's agreeable, she's still very sad... and the hardest part is that she can't take her little dogs. We've found good homes for them, and they'll be able to visit, but needless to say, for "dog lovers" this is still painful.

Happily there are two resident cats and one resident dog on the premises which will surely help ease her sorrow. Her new home is very homelike, and we'll be taking as much of her things as we can. It's causing great sorrow to know that she'll have to say goodbye to other things, but we've promised to keep them in our homes, in case she wants to see them.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult time.... however, it has had it's plus sides as well. My sister and I have become very close, and we're aligned arm and arm to help our Mother in any way we can. Lots & Lots of work ahead... but it will definitely be a labor of love!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The morning after...

Mea culpa time...

Well.... it was a long night. And bad-bad-bad dog parents that we are, we didn't get home before the fireworks started. We could hear Yelda barking when we got out of the car. To make matters worse, a thunderstorm was brewing. I got her out of her crate, and she ran and drank and drank and drank. I finally got her leash on, and took her out... and just as she was getting ready to do her business, lightening flashed, thunder boomed and firecrackers exploded.... literally all at the same time. She totally freaked out, and through herself at the door. My heart was aching for her. Russell said he'd take her out, because we knew that she had to GO.

Well, that was a bad idea... because the storm was really gathering steam, and the firecracker loving diehards in our neighborhood were still going at it. She was so upset that she almost dragged Russell down. They came inside and she flew into the den where she feels safest. I was frantic about her... she was so stressed, and I know how bad stress can be. I remembered the peppermint oil I had purchased in the spring, and grabbed it. I couldn't find any cotton balls, so I grabbed some paper towels and went and sat next to her. I poured some of the oil onto one of the pieces of paper towel, and rubbed it into the pads of her front paw. She wasn't thrilled by this, but she let me. I then took her other front paw and did the same.

The stuff is strong, and the entire room smelled like a peppermint shop. Yelda got up and went to drink some more water... and then came back and licked her feet. I do think that it helped her to calm down. She was still panting, because her body had gotten so hot. So I casualy fed her ice cubes to help cool her down. Russell thinks that I've babied her and that's made her worse. But I dont' think so. In researching for my blog on firework safety, I read horror story after horror story... and some dogs have died from heart attacks caused by stress. And, big dogs such as Newfoundlands can also bloat... and there is the possibility of stress causing bloat. So I wasn't willing to take any chances.

A couple of hours passed, and we were exhausted and wanting to go to bed. Yelda was resting comfortably at my feet, but the weather reports showed the possibility of more storms. Deciding not to take any more chances, I put Yelda to bed in her crate, and then gave her 1 Melatonin... a natural sleep aide that is also good in reducing stress. Many people used this for pets who fear storms and fireworks. Yelda settled and had a quiet night.

It's now the morning after, and I am feeling remorseful that she went through that. I'm glad we got home when we did. Yelda is fine. She got up and went outside without hesitation. She's her chipper mischevious self. And when she stole the roll of paper towels off the kitchen counter, instead of being annoyed, I was actually relieved to see that we're back a status quo!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Discovery Liftoffs Safely (and finally)!!!

The following is from NASA:

"With a rocket's red glare, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in a spectacular display of sound and light befitting of Independence Day."

Image caption: Discovery lift offs from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Photo credit: NASA/Sandy Joseph, Robert Murray

I am so pleased for NASA and for the crew of STS-121. The lift off went off without a problem. Some debris was seen falling away from the fuel tank, but it doesn't seem to be a concern.

I have the crew and their families in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless them and bring them home safely.

Happy Birthday America!!!

"America The Beautiful"
lyrics by Katherine Lee Bates; music composed by Samuel A. Ward

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Oh beautiful, for pilgrims' feet Whose stern, impassioned stress A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw; Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
Oh beautiful, for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved And mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine, 'Til all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine!
Oh beautiful, for patriot's dream That sees beyond the years! Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

This hymn is very special to me... it was my Father's favorite, and he always felt that it should have been America's National Anthem. And I agree, so it is in his honor that I post it here. Other favorites of mine are:

God Bless America
by Irving Berlin

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God Bless America. Land that I love Stand beside her, and guide her Thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies , To the oceans, white with foam God bless America My home sweet home."

by Samuel F. Smith

My country, 'tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty Of thee I sing; Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims' pride, From every mountain side Let Freedom ring.
My native country, thee, Land of the noble free, Thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, Thy woods and templed hills, My heart with rapture thrills Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze, And ring from all the trees Sweet Freedom's song; Let mortal tongues awake; Let all that breathe partake; Let rocks their silence break, The sound prolong.
Our fathers' God to Thee, Author of Liberty, To thee we sing, Long may our land be bright With Freedom's holy light, Protect us by thy might Great God, our King.
Our glorious Land to-day, 'Neath Education's sway, Soars upward still. Its hills of learning fair, Whose bounties all may share, Behold them everywhere On vale and hill!
Thy safeguard, Liberty, The school shall ever be, Our Nation's pride! No tyrant hand shall smite, While with encircling might All here are taught the Right With Truth allied.
Beneath Heaven's gracious will The stars of progress still Our course do sway; In unity sublime To broader heights we climb, Triumphant over Time, God speeds our way!
Grand birthright of our sires, Our altars and our fires Keep we still pure! Our starry flag unfurled, The hope of all the world, In peace and light impearled, God hold secure!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

From my soapbox: Fireworks Safety for Pets

It’s that time of the year again… it’s the 4th of July weekend, and the skies will soon be filled with flashes of red, white and blue. With the brilliant displays comes lots of noise, often loud and explosive. In addition to large fireworks displays, neighborhoods are filled with the snap, crackle and pop from a variety of noisemakers including firecrackers, cherry bombs and bottle rockets.

And while I love this time of year and love going to watch fireworks, I realize that one of our dogs is miserable during this time. She is absolutely terrified of lightening, thunder and fireworks. In fact, as I type this, neighbors are shooting of firecrackers, etc and Yelda is anxiously sitting beside me, panting, and very stressed. Just a few minutes ago, we were outside for her nightly stroll when she heard a firecracker. She jumped and flew to the house, anxious to get inside to safety.

Her anxiety reminded me of another dog that was terrified of fireworks. Just last year, there was a little Jack Russell Terrier who had been left out in the back yard. When the nightly fireworks started he panicked and managed to escape from his yard. He ran and ran and ran and was soon quite far from his home. He was found the next morning on campus by some students. Eventually his owners were found and the confessed that they had been extremely careless in leaving him outside.

There are certain things one can do to protect their pets during holidays like the 4th. They are listed below:

  • Keep all fireworks away from animals
  • Leave all pets at home when you go to watch fireworks
  • All pets should be left inside. Do not leave them outside, even in a fenced in yard.
  • Make sure that they are comfortable and secure indoors with the curtains drawn. Leave a television or radio on… this will help to cover up the noise caused by fireworks
  • Make sure that all pets have collars and proper id tags and licenses on. In case they do escape, this will make it easier for people who find your pet to get in touch with you and reunite you with your pet.
  • Cats tend to hide when they’re scared. It’s important to not force them from their hiding places. Cats will come out when they’re no longer frightened.
  • If you’re at home with your pet, it’s very important to act calm. Do not baby or mollycoddle them. I know it’s hard (speaking from personal experience) but if you do try and comfort your pet, the pet’s fears will be reinforced. Instead, play with your pet, and try and keep it’s attention off of what’s happening outside.
  • Some animals have such an extreme fear to fireworks, that you may want to check with your vet about using a mild sedative.

These celebrations are meant to be enjoyable. By taking these precautions, your pets will be safe and you’ll all have a happier, healtier holiday.