Mo Bloggin'

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Archive for the tag “Rottweilers”

Absolute Trust

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I said a fond farewell to a glorious summer. I will miss you – come back soon!

I adopted a dog recently. Another dog. It wasn’t intended—I have three already, and adding a fourth wasn’t something that I planned in any way. I am, however, a softie for a sad story and an outright pushover when it comes to Rottweilers and English Setters. This was a foster gone wrong, for I am, once again, a Foster Failure (well-known in the dog rescue world). But in the end it was so right that the only one surprised by it was me (all my friends knew long before I did, even though it took me less than two weeks to figure it out). So we are four now (seven again, if you count the cats, or eight, if you count moi).

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Seriously.  Who could resist this mug?

I’ll explain how this all came about in more detail in another post, for this post is about my first lesson from my new guy.  This dog, Raider is his original name, came to me after his owner, sadly, passed away. I’d offered to foster him when I heard about the situation, and we all thought it wouldn’t be for a few months.  Cancer, however, had another timeline.

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The beautiful fall clouds provide wonder as I sit in traffic in the last mile of my daily commute.

Raider had every reason to be freaked out and spooky – this wasn’t the first time he was in this situation and he had to be wondering, again, why his life was turned upside down. He’d just spent most of the day in a crate in my friend’s car, someone whom he really didn’t know, and came into my house with an underlying confidence that only a well-loved dog could have. And a dog with a stable temperament. He wasn’t 100 percent comfortable – some of his behaviors that first evening showed us his main coping mechanism, chasing shadows – but his worry about things didn’t turn into fear, and even in his worry, he coped. He’d essentially just landed on Mars and while you could see he was putting up a front (excessive sniffing, focusing on shadows on the floor and reflections on the ceiling) as he experienced this new landscape and companions, he coped. And coped well. He was (and is) polite and respectful, gentle and easy going, thoughtful and well-behaved. He dealt with it all beautifully, making it easy to fall for him.

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The sheep haven’t been getting out as much as they’d like – the new guy isn’t quite ready for that.

Me, I’ve been struggling a bit with life lately – deeply unhappy with certain aspects of it, even as I know how blessed and lucky I am. I seem to go through this struggle annually, or near to, and every single time I say “this year for sure” for making the changes I want to make with my source of income, with my home and farm, and with myself. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve had this conversation; I’m ashamed to say it’s going on almost two decades now. And while I’ve made some huge leaps and progress in that time, here I am once again, unhappy with where I am and devolving bit by bit, by letting outside things influence me (I KNOW better), and becoming the worst version of myself. I don’t like that person, and have been trying to evolve away from that fearful, worried, stressful, and even snarly, victim-version of me that no one likes. To the one I know I am inside, the one who can rise up even with adversity, and rise above it. The one who, instead of reverting to old habits and coping mechanisms – chasing shadows, as it were – in adversity, is able to see to the truth and maintain the course.  This is who I strive to be. This is almost verbatim from a post I made almost two years ago, yet I didn’t follow through, things eased up, and I didn’t make the changes. Again.

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So I’m once again hitting the books. A book title came across my radar recently, mentioned by a coworker who’s having similar struggles. When I looked it up on the library website to place a hold, I found that there was more than one book (and author) with this title: “Pivot.” So I checked out both of them. The original one mentioned by my coworker is by Jenny Blake and has a rocket-fuel subtitle: “The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.” I’m in! I’ve been listening to the recorded version in the car on my commute and it’s been instructing me, as I sit in traffic looking for a way to do things differently, on the nuts and bolts of how to do that. The other one, by Adam Markel, is a little quieter and no less powerful. Its subtitle reads “The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life.”  This one is probably more in tune with where I am right now – a little broken, a little ashamed at being in this spot again, and needing a light to guide my way. To get past the fear and coping mechanisms to that goal Me. Like Jenny Blake’s Pivot it has some insightful views into where I am now (indeed, why else would someone pick up these books?), but Adam Markel goes even further. He talks about the “first fifty pages” and how often we buy books of this type and never get beyond reading the first fifty pages. What, has he been in my house and seen the stack by my bedside? (And I think he’s being generous with fifty pages.) And to further the theory, he likens this to a person’s LIFE never getting beyond the first fifty pages, asking “What else are you ‘fifty-paging’ in your life?” It was like he threw down the gauntlet. I am challenged by this and am determined to get all the way though the book – you’re ON, Mr. Markel!

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While I dread the coming rain, fall is showing me why I shouldn’t despair.

Raider, now Braider, came in without knowing anything about what was coming (although I give him too little credit here – these sentient beings know much more than we can ever know), yet maintained his grace and absolute trust – in humans, in his situation, in his life. Sure, you can argue that he didn’t know any better, but I would argue, vehemently if not scientifically, that he does. And once again, I need to follow my dogs’ lead.

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Maybe not as gratuitously cute as I like to end my blogs, but they are simply awe-inspiring.  To think that a wee spider makes these cathedrals of air and gossamer silk…I don’t know if there’s a prettier way to trap and devour a meal.

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Birthday boy

Another year has passed and Cutter just had his 12th birthday (10 days ago).  I can hardly believe it at times, and remember at last year’s 11th birthday I was wondering if….  But here we are, my amazing, bigstrongboy still plugging along, albeit at a much slower pace. 

He’s had some rough times, and lately my concern has been over him being hammered with the side effects of his anti-seizure meds.  It’s a wicked Catch-22 these days – reduce the drugs to give him a break from side effects (weak, uncoordinated, sedated – all exacerbated due to his age and normal age-related weakening) and the seizures come rushing in to fill the gap.  Both are detrimental to his health, but the seizures, if left unchecked, will kill him faster than the drugs.  There is more than a whiff of brimstone in the Faustian nature of my ongoing battle with canine epilepsy and I am filled with a chaotic mix of pride, gratitude, humility, and desperation whenever I dwell on his condition for more than a moment or two. 

Rottweilers are not a long lived breed, and making it to age 12 is remarkable for any of them.  For Cutter, plagued with epilepsy and the brutality of seizures for the past 7.5 years, to have made it to this milestone is a small miracle.  I am so proud of him, and yes, myself, for fighting so hard.  I’ve spent buckets of cash, dealt with near incompetency from several veterinarians (trust no one!), and have fought tooth and nail advocating for his health and well being.  But I can’t take all the credit – without his willing partnership and lionhearted strength nothing I could have done would have made a difference.  So here’s to my buddy, my amazing, wonderful, adorable Cutter.  Happy Birthday Buddy. 

My buddy turns 11

Yesterday was Cutter’s 11th birthday (June 5)!  We didn’t do much out of the ordinary;  I mean, he doesn’t know what a birthday is, so I don’t celebrate per se.  In years past I’ve been known to put a birthday party hat on them IMG_0094and take a photo or three, but that’s about as far as it goes.  He did get a fresh egg on his dinner (laid that day), as did the other two dogs, but that was more for me than him, since treats with dinner aren’t all that rare.  Mostly I just hugged him a little more.  Which he hates.  

It really is a small miracle that he’s still chugging along at age 11.  It’s getting up there for a Rottweiler, a breed that isn’t nearly as robust as they look.  Tough, yes, but not durable.  My previous Rottweilers haven’t made it past 12 (my first lived to 12 1/4) and with Cutter’s issues, well, every day is amazing.  He had a few seizures this week, but they stopped after day three (his birthday) and it’s been “quiet” today.  Fingers crossed.    (I spoke too soon…he just had another mini.  And another.  Here we go…sigh.)

He’s still radioactively cute, if a bit curmudgeonly now.  There are times when I could weep at the loss of the dog he was–canine epilepsy stole a lot from us–but despite these issues he’s a strong dog with the heart of a lion.  He wouldn’t still be here if he weren’t so strong.  The anti-seizure meds leave him a little dopey and sometimes zombie-like, and he’s weaker than I’d like him to be, but overall I am amazed and grateful he’s still with me in body and mind and enjoying life, after spending over half his life with the specter of epilepsy hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles.   But, epilepsy or no, I’m glad he came into my life.  He’s a wonderful, one in a million dog, and I love him to bits.

Happy Birthday, Cutter-butter.  You’re my best Buddy.

Cutter - June 5, 2009

Waking up with flying squirrels

I make no secret that I sleep with dogs.  My running joke–though no one seems to enjoy it as much as I–is that every night is a three dog night.  Often the three cats will join us, for a snug six-pack of furry warmth next to me, on top of me, pushing me out.  I’ve awoken in all sorts of horizontal “Twister”-style contortions, with all of them surrounding me in a jigsaw puzzle of beating hearts.

Bedtop real estate is rarely contested, though there are grumbles and discussions, usually between Farley and Cutter.  While Farley always concedes, moving away in a scuttling rush, he does so with his warbling complaining growl (he wouldn’t dare growl for real) that elicits a talking response from Cutter.  Once The Monster (Cutter) is settled, always perpendicular to me, his head on my hip or leg, Farley leaps up to curl up next to /on my shoulder. 

Farley is the baby of the family.  Somewhere around 3 1/2 or 4 years old, he joined the pack three years ago.  The Rottweilers accepted him and his always wagging tail, and his insane energy and drives.  And I learned about the vast differences between a working breed and a sporting breed.  Far is all birddogbird dog, all the time.  During the long winter months, when the weather is lousy and the back yard is a soupy mire of mud, Farley finds ways to entertain himself, and in the process, me. 

My bird dog is all about his toys, and his delight with each one is such that I can’t help buying him new ones frequently.  He has a toy box that’s brimmng with stuffed squeakys and chew ropes, bones and balls.  Not to mention the sea turtles that are living under the bed, the pheasants lying around the house, the dimply honky ball (now in the wash), soft squeaky balls in every corner, a honking duck, a honking heart-shape (the honking sound is a siren song to Farley, so many of his toys have this) and the latest, a flying squirrel.  The toys are ever present, being tossed seductively to entice me to play.  As soon as I look at the item dropped by my feet he goes into a classic Setter crouch, poised for the feeble indoor throw, then the mad scramble for it as if there were even a remote chance of any competition for its retrieval.  He flips and tosses with delight (more than one toy has ended up in a pot of soup or sauce on the stove) and honks or squeaks incessantly.  And at the end of the night, one or more toys will have made it into the bed with us.  Thus, waking up bleary eyed and rolling over, I encounter this in the morning:

The squirrel

Yes, this flying squirrel is cousin to Rocky, of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame.  The chinstrap of his starred “helmet” turns into a slingshot, so one can launch him by pulling back on the tail and letting go.  The thing makes (er, made) a squirrelly chattering noise as it flies through the air, little red cape fluttering, eyes goggling out of its felt goggles.  The flying squirrel was pretty much anFarley instant hit. 

 I know it will only be a matter of time before another toy comes home with me to join the squadron.  And really, with a face like this, who could resist?

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