Thursday, November 24, 2011


I hope this day finds each of you with those you love, filled to the brim with good food and gratitude. As I was ticking items off my pre-Thanksgiving to do list yesterday, I wondered if "create a new post" would get accomplished. It was at the very bottom of the lengthy list, far below critical items like "bake the corn souffle," "walk/jog the dogs," and "clean turkey poop off sidewalk."

So, here's a quick post, with just a word of thanks for each of you who visit my blog throughout the year and share your comments with me. I feel like I know many of you, even though we have never met. Your funny and insightful comments often brighten my day, provide inspiration, give me a chuckle, and create a sense of community. When I started my blog in 2009, I never dreamed that I would "meet" so many interesting people!

Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Water For Your Pets

Lady, Lucky, and Katie love their walks around the neighborhood. If we're feeling lazy, or wimpy because of bad weather, we just go around the block. But on most days we cover about 3 miles at a nice brisk pace. I've always been touched by the kindness of the neighbors (perhaps their children) who put water out for the passing dogs. Unfortunately, the water in the bowls often looks a bit...well, questionable, but you have to appreciate the gesture! :)

We walked 3.5 miles today, a winding route up Sunset Mountain behind the house.
The dogs were happy to find this watering hole along the way. What nice neighbors!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Born To Be Wild

The sound of the breeze rustling autumn leaves high in the treetops is music to my ears. I can be completely alone, surrounded by nothing but trees, and fall colors, and sky, and be so filled with joy that it seems as if my heart might burst. In such moments I feel most in touch with my true self, the Infinite, and Everything That Really Matters.

I grew up in metropolitan Atlanta, a vast urban area that contained 2 million people in the 1970s and 80s (and now well over   5 million). For many, the buzzing energy of a city this size is a siren song. But not for me. From an early age, I knew that I was not meant for the big city. While others revel in the hustle and bustle, I seek out the quiet places.

As a child, I spent most of my play time in the "wilderness" behind our condominium complex. It was nothing more than a patch of woods between two residential developments, but I loved it. I have such fond memories of creating trails, building forts, and playing along the creek there with my friends. Hours would pass unnoticed, until finally the daylight began to wane and we would hear the familiar whistle. Both my dad and my best friend's dad whistled for us when it was time to come home. Presumably because the whistle was louder and more likely to be heard than a shout, and not because we bore any similarity to dogs.

This love of wild places is with me still. I feel at home in the mountains where I live now, and treasure the open spaces - dwindling though they often seem to be. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting out on a trail, listening to the crunch of leaves underfoot as the sounds of civilization recede with each passing step.

And of course, the dogs love this too. Heading out for a hike recently, I watched through the rear view mirror as Lucky's tail began to wag enthusiastically as the truck turned toward a familiar trailhead. It's fun to watch him. He knows that adventure is just around the bend. I don't believe Katie had ever been hiking with her previous family, but she's a trail veteran now.

As in every other setting and circumstance however, her favorite part of any hike is when we stop for a snack. Meek and mild mannered most of the time, Katie pushes her way to the front of the pack when food is involved. "Me first, please!"

After a short rest, snacks and water, we'll be on our way again. The dogs are all business, ears pricked to catch the sounds, noses working overtime at each rough side trail. Some are small, perhaps raccoon sized. Others are larger. Who or what passed through here last night? They know. I can see it in their faces, and I wish they could tell me. But we move on; the other side of the mountain awaits.

On this afternoon, for just a little while, we're in our element among the trees and the breeze, the sky and the brightly colored leaves. Two-legged and four-legged creatures of nature, we follow the trail knowing the truth in our hearts. We were born to be wild.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day 11/11/11

What an interesting date we have today! I wonder if there's someone out there whose car odometer is rolling over to 11,111 today. Or...imagine how much fun it would be if you were 11 years old, and ate 11 french fries at 11 o'clock today?? Why, I think I'll just go all wild and crazy and post this at 11:11 am. For some reason, Lady and Lucy don't seem too impressed with the whole thing.

"C'mon kids, wake up! Who knows, you might get 11 treats today!"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Birdseed Bandit

I am quite attached to the birds that live around my house. I've been feeding them for years, and am now convinced that they recognize me, cheeping and peeping when I come outside with the seed scoop in the morning. "She's here! It's time for breakfast!" they seem to be saying. The rufous sided towhees sometimes fly right down into the bushes while I'm putting out the seed, eager to hit the birdie buffet. The only problem with this arrangement is that bird feeders attract bears. After Mama Bear and her cubs began visiting in the spring, we had to take the feeders down. It just wasn't worth risking a surprise encounter, particularly given the presence of the cubs. When some time had passed and it seemed that the bears had moved on, I began sprinkling just a small amount of seed on the sidewalk and along the top of the fence. This works pretty well because the birds are able to eat it all in a few hours, so it doesn't stay out there long enough to attract the bears.

But recently the seed has been disappearing very quickly. One minute it's there, the next minute it's all but gone. This strange occurrence happened several days in a row last week.

I realize that the birds take care of the food pretty quickly, but not that quickly. Where was the birdseed going? Was a thief at hand? Of course, I suspected the most likely culprit, my eternal birdfeeding nemesis...

Until one day I noticed Katie sniffing the birdseed on the sidewalk. Why was she so interested in the seed? That seemed odd, so I went to investigate. As I got closer it looked almost as if... "KATIE!" I shouted. "What are you doing?!" Was she eating the bird food?? Surely not! Dogs don't eat sunflower seeds, thistle, and nuts. Do they? That could be dangerous. I seemed to recall that certain nuts are toxic for dogs. I called her over and asked her if she had been eating the bird food.

She didn't say anything, but that was a mighty guilty look. 

"Katie-Sue, is that a sunflower seed shell stuck to your whisker??"

The next day, I caught her red-handed...or...pawed. I told her "No!" and we had a serious talk about the possible dangers of eating bird food. Just to be on the safe side, I make sure to watch her now when she's outside with me. No point having her flirt with temptation. But really. What kind of dog eats birdseed?? I have never heard of such a thing! Silly dog! Well, at least the mystery of the Birdseed Bandit is finally solved. Between the squirrels, bears, and Katie, it's a wonder the poor birds get anything to eat at all! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Timing is Everything

Loving a German Shepherd means living with hair. Lots of it. This breed sheds twelve months a year, with serious shedding in the spring and late fall. Having a German Shepherd in your life requires developing a close relationship with your vacuum cleaner, and being able to pluck a dog hair off your banana without getting all squeamish about it. This happened last week, by the way, and I should add that I was 60 miles away from home at the time, unaccompanied by dogs. It wasn't just any dog hair, it was a Lady hair. Made me wonder if I carry clouds of dog hairs with me like that Peanuts character Pig-Pen with his clouds of dust.

Recently I discovered the wonders of the Furminator, which removes much of the loose undercoat. This little tool is nothing short of a miracle. One session with the Furminator drastically curtails the amount of hair in the house for several weeks. Only problem, a thorough session with the Furminator just about kills me. A couple hours of grooming the three dogs leaves me feeling like I have just completed a triathlon. I have a friend in Seattle who owns a mobile dog grooming business, and I have recently wondered how on earth she manages to do this work day in and day out. She must be Wonder Woman. I consider myself in pretty decent shape, but still, I ache all over when I finish all three dogs. Forget running or lifting weights - if you want to get fit, groom large dogs for several hours a day.

Then this week, I hit upon the secret, completely by accident. I pulled out the Furminator at a different time of day, and quickly discovered a very different experience. Instead of being frisky or impatient, the dogs were sleepy. The rhythmic back and forth motion of the brush lulled Lady into a peaceful stupor. And Katie, not wanting to miss out on the spa treatment, strategically placed herself nearby so that I would not forget her. That little dog loves to be brushed and pampered.

Instead of having to continually redirect and gently corral Lady as I worked on her, I was able to just relax and brush. When I needed to do the other side, I just flipped her over like a sack of potatoes. It was great! And a funny thing happened... I became just as peaceful and content as they were.

And afterward, I was not sore at all.
Timing is everything.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Goodies Galore!

Just a quick peek at the take from last weekend's Howl'oween festival sponsored by Animal Compassion Network. Lady and Lucky scored big time at the trick or treat booths - yummy cookies at one booth, dog toys at another! One booth was even giving out doggie granola bars for hiking trips. I'd never heard of such a thing! Even though Lady got overstimulated by all the excitement and had to go back to the truck, we picked up treats for her too.

"Can I have one now?"
This was a fun event for people and pets alike. The Adoptathon held during the festival was a big success as well, with many of the dogs recently pulled from the shelter finding new homes that day. I have to include two photo "outtakes" that occurred as I was trying to photograph the goodies. You can't do anything in this house without the cat getting involved. Nosy little kitty. Lucy wanted to know where her treats were.

"Did you forget something? I don't see the kitty treats."