This past week I was invited to attend a special demonstration by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. I have to say, these dogs are incredible. There are so many things I didn’t know about how these dogs are acquired, trained and maintain their focus. The demonstration showed how solid the dogs are in their basic training, how they teach them to find a hidden person, how they work with them to teach them how to master more difficult terrain and the absolute joy these dogs seem to have when they’re “working”.
I hope you enjoy some of the many photos I took and the 15 things that I learned: Continue reading
Please don’t ever tell me that animals do not mourn. The left photo of Borrego was taken six weeks before our dog Midnight was diagnosed and died of cancer. The right photo was taken three weeks after Midnight passed. The grey shroud of mourning is so prominent in the photo it even made me gasp. For the first week that Midnight was gone, Borrego merely wandered around the house. Her demeanor is markedly more subdued, even now.
Borrego tolerates very few adult dogs but was a constant companion with Midnight. Three years Midnight’s elder, I think that Borrego counted on Midnight’s steadfast nature to keep her grounded. I do not think that Borrego will ever again have a companion that she trusts and interacts with as she did with Midnight. Yes, we feel Midnight’s loss and many tears have been shed by the humans in our family. Based on the white in Borrego’s countenance, I can guarantee you that she has done her share of crying as well.
Recently, a coworker mentioned that they were considering spaying their 6 month old puppy but were complaining that they didn’t have the 3 months to keep her calm during recovery. Three months – really?!? I’m certain my jaw hit the floor as I looked at her to see if she was kidding me. She wasn’t. And she even went on to say that they were about to go on vacation and she really needed the $1000 for the vacation instead. Surely I was being punked! I wonder how many people aren’t spaying or neutering their pets because their perception is that it is that invasive to their lives?!?
I quickly set about gently updating my friend. I have fostered over 30 puppies, not to mention countless other tiny beings. To that end, I feel like I have a pretty good perspective on what to expect on the days following a spay or neuter. Continue reading
Sometimes the most humane thing you can do in the face of cancer is nothing.
About a month ago, I awoke to feel my 16 year old cat, Shadow, trembling and twitching on the bed beside me. She saw me open my eyes and struggled to stand up only to collapse in a heap. Instantly awake, I picked her up and held her to my chest. “What’s wrong baby girl?!” I whispered. Her whole body was contorting and she stared at me with wide eyes. Holding her more tightly I willed the twitching to stop. It slowed as she relaxed into my embrace. I held her, tears running down my face. What was wrong? Continue reading
6 weeks ago we had a healthy 5.5 year old black lab/hound mix named Midnight. She bounced eagerly in place when I came in the front door, waiting for me to pet her shiny black head and tickle her under her belly and then to race to the back door to play ball in the yard.
6 weeks ago we had a dog who would make near acrobatic moves to catch a ball in one instant and climb into your lap as if she was only 10 pounds of puppy in the next.
6 weeks ago we had a dog that we were considering training for therapy work. She was so gentle that people everywhere would squeal in delight to see her – “Midnight’s here!”
6 weeks ago we had a hiking buddy, a nap buddy, a play buddy, a foster-sister to numerous puppies and a real sister to a golden, 3 cats and a rabbit.
6 weeks ago we had a dog that was exquisitely trained and mostly well-behaved, the occasional counter surfer, cat food sneaker and litter box raider. Continue reading
The Animal Control Officer led me down several hallways to a quiet area behind the main kennel banks. The echo of barking and whining faded behind us and all we could hear was the echo of our own footsteps. We came to a door with a small pan with an antiseptic-soaked towel, which we stepped in to remove any trace of contaminants from the soles of our shoes. Inside, the room smelled cold and sterile, all cement walls and floors, with few amenities in the kennels. Curled up in a ball at the back of the first kennel was a lanky brindle puppy, all bones, big eyes and huge floppy ears that stuck out at funny angles like the flying nun in a windstorm.
The ACO opened the door to the kennel and the puppy struggled to get up, head hanging low. Unfortunately his legs fell out from under him and he crawled quietly towards us on his belly. His eyes never left mine and I could feel the tendrils of his soul connecting with mine. Continue reading
A mother gently kisses her sleeping child
tiny whisper kisses embrace soothe comfort uplift
God breathes his grace into our lives
cradles our hearts cushions our souls
In our humanness
Our eyes minds thoughts and hopes
meet dance parry and agree
There is no end as there was no beginning
only a continuum
that carries has carried will carry
pain love fun confusion play and sorrow
in the moment in our memories in our dreams
the whisper kisses of God
What are Whisper Kisses? To me, they are those gentle little kisses that a mom gives their sleeping child or, for me, a sleeping pet, where you want to express love but you don’t want to disturb their slumber. I believe that the recipient feels them in the love that is given, that wraps itself around them in a protective cocoon, but that their dreams are not Continue reading