Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lost and Found

Last weekend was horrible. I lost George. He was walking ahead of me, but I was watching him closely. He went behind one tree and came out the other side, then another. Then he went under some bushes, but I didn’t see him come out. I kept my eyes focused on the bushes as I picked up my pace. When I got up to the bushes, I looked under and all around them, calling his name. Then I thought he might have gone back toward the car, so I retraced my steps. No George. How could he just vanish like that? He was wearing a collar, but no tag. That, along with his fluffy white sweater with blue stripes should clearly indicate that he wasn’t a stray.

I turned circles on myself and called louder. Knowing he probably couldn’t hear me or see me didn’t deter me from trying. As the minutes ticked by, I felt disbelief rise in my chest. I looked around frantically and realized I wasn’t seeing anything; everything was just a blur.

It was 23 degrees outside. George wouldn’t survive in the cold for very long. My disbelief turned to a calm resolve; I felt certain that someone had picked him up and taken him in. But how did I miss it?! I couldn’t make sense of it.

After an hour and a half, I knew I had to go home. There was a subtle peace in my heart which allowed me to accept that being there any longer would not be productive.

The next morning I was up by five am and returned to the place I’d last seen him. I spent two more hours driving slowly, walking the grounds, and calling his name. I looked under bushes and behind piles of snow and any other shelter I could find. No George. I somehow knew it was futile because in my heart, I knew he wasn’t there. But where was he??

I went home and made fliers. I filed a report on the local radio station’s website. By that evening, the calm in my stomach changed to a different kind of calm; I started to think that perhaps George had simply wandered off from me to die.

On Monday morning, I went to the local animal shelters and placed the fliers all over town. Then, Monday afternoon, I got the call: a young couple saw one of my fliers and called me immediately! They had been caring for George the whole time! According to the timeline they gave me, while I was under the first bush looking for George, he apparently crossed a street and was standing in front of their apartment just as they were coming home. They picked him up and took him inside. He was only out in the cold for less than 10 minutes from when he and I got out of the car to when they found him.

I was so grateful for their kindness that I was speechless. When I took him home, he went straight to bed and didn’t want to get up until the next morning! I think he was emotionally exhausted.

Things are back to normal now. And to make things even better, the weather is starting to show signs of spring. We got up to 40 degrees yesterday and are expecting to be in the 50s by this weekend!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Home Made Doggie Treats: Basic Biscuits

Basic Biscuits

This is a basic biscuit recipe that is a standard favorite. I usually make a batch of these about every month. I also like to put a couple in small craft ziplock bags to give away to friends.

NOTE: You can keep these cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or frozen in a freezer Ziplock bag for up to six months. In hot months, dogs love to eat them directly out of the freezer. In colder months, I take a couple out in the morning to treat George in the afternoon.

1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 c. Regular Flour
½ c. Powdered milk
½ c. Wheat germ
1 Egg slightly beaten
1 tsp. Molasses
6 Tbl. Shortening
½ C. Water


Preheat oven to 325.

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and then add it to the flour mixture along with the molasses and water. Knead on a floured surface for about two minutes. Roll dough out to ¼ inch and cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Let cool before treating your dog.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

“Paws to Read” Program at Local Library

Our local library (Muncie Public Library) has a “Paws to Read” program that utilizes therapy dogs to help children with anxiety disorders to manage their anxiety through reading aloud to a certified therapy dog. Each session is 15 minutes long. Children choose a book and curl up with a warm, fuzzy friend to journey into the kinds of worlds that can only be reached through books. The children know that their listener will not laugh at them or chastise them if they stumble over new words, or read too slowly. Their listener sits closely and attentively, emitting a sense of wonder and encouragement, and praising the child with licks and a happy, wagging tail.

The program stared in July, 1009 during the summer reading program. A patron asked the librarians about doing such a project and they were favorable toward the idea. By the fall of 2009, the program became so popular that nearly all the time slots are filled up a week or more in advance. Even children without anxiety disorders can benefit from the program because the activity, reading aloud to an attentive canine, creates comfort and confidence while providing a safe environment to practice a very important skill. Honestly, I wish I’d had this opportunity when I was a young child, I may have learned to read much earlier!

There seems to be no end to the jobs that therapy dogs can perform and the role they can play in helping to increase people’s quality of life.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Too Cold to Walk at the River

George and I can not walk at the park these days because there is simply too much snow. The drive down to the river has not been plowed, so I don’t even dare to try to get there. Instead, we walk around cleared and fairly empty parking lots. It serves the need to get out and walk and offer George a regular opportunity to relieve himself, but other than that, it is not satisfactory at all. There is snow everywhere, so George is not able to find a tree or bush or any patch of ground to do his business. He runs back and forth and around in circles in a desperate attempt to find just the right place, but all the places are cold and white and much bigger than he is, so every day I can see his frustration. I walk with him a bit, so long as the brutal winds are not too painful on my cheeks, and our outings are very short.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy, Clean and Smart

Happy, Clean and Smart is a local doggie day care, grooming facility, and training center. The name truly represents their philosophy and the essence of the business. When you want in the front door, you enter a clean, brightly lit, spacious and classy boutique. The staff is warm and friendly and the 4-footed little tea cup poodle greets you with a smile that absolutely melts you. Coming from just beyond the boutique is the sound of happy dogs in their various classes.

The boutique has a nice selection of practical items including food, dishes, collars, leashes, and toys. They also have fun and frivolous items such as jewelry and charms, fashionable dog clothing, and dog-themed knick-knacks and accessories for dog owners. There is also a selection of books, pamphlets and brochures addressing every question you might have about dogs.

Doggies can take the K-9 Kindergarten class, basic and advanced manners classes, and an agility class. Happy, Clean and Smart also offers good citizen and Therapy Dog classes to get certification. And if those choices do not meet any of your needs, you can sign up for private lessons with one of their certified trainers. The classes teach socialization and behavior management (K-9 Kindergarten); basic obedience (Basic Manners); tricks and distraction management (Advanced Manners); and obstacle courses (Fun with Agility). For dog owners there is also the Pet First Aid and CPR class.

Happy, Clean and Smart has a self-wash facility where you can wash your dog yourself. They provide the shampoo, conditioner, cologne, towels and blow dryer all for just $12.00. Or, if you prefer, you can have your dog professional groomed (and pampered) by their trained groomers.

Members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International Association of Canine Professionals, Happy, Clean and Smart is a professional dog care facility that focuses on the health and well-being of dogs and their owners. They live the motto of their name: Happy, Clean and Smart, providing a wonderful support for optimal relationships between dog owners and their “best friends”.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Barefoot Perspective

I am what I am; I can’t really be anything different. I am thankful that I am not compelled to try to be something that I’m not – what a waste of energy! In fact, I think it is a waste of a whole life to try to counter the natural qualities in yourself in the attempt to become something else.

Part of what I am is a barefooter. I didn’t become a barefooter in order to make any particular statement or to be thought of as a nature enthusiast or any other image-designing reason. I simply am a barefooter and I can’t help it. Shoes do not stay on my feet. All my life I have ended up barefoot, even when I left the house in shoes. Running shoes, work shoes, dance shoes, fancy heels or beach sandals – they all get kicked off soon after I adorn them.

It has been interesting to experience a new perspective of myself as a barefooter since the arrival of the internet. Until very recently my barefoot lifestyle has been frowned upon by those in my life. It was cause for shame; it was a personal fault. People thought I was childish, immature, irresponsible. My feet were referred to as dirty, ugly, and worst of all, carriers of disease. Still, I couldn’t help it; I remained barefoot.

In the last couple of years however, I have made friends with people from around the world who have a whole different attitude toward bare feet. First I joined an online organization called the Society for Barefoot Living (SBL) where I learned about all kinds of people and their barefooted lifestyles. I also learned about health issues and legal issues regarding barefooting. It turns out that 1) barefooting is very healthy and 2) it is NOT illegal to go into public places barefooted.

Secondly, when I started posting personal pictures on facebook that showed me without shoes, I was surprised by the onslaught of positive comments. People now refer to my feet as “beautiful” and my barefoot lifestyle as “authentic”.

The perspective of others has not changed my behavior, but it has certainly been a validating experience. It is encouraging to be praised a bit instead of constantly condemned for my bare feet. The positive perspective has strengthened me and made me more bold. I have come to articulate my choice and better understand it. I have come to appreciate this characteristic in myself. I also now have information and knowledge to defend my choice.

I have always loved my feet and have always been grateful to them for their strength and endurance. Now however, I am also proud of my feet, even when they are dirty.

Healthy, strong, vibrant, and beautiful: I am a barefooter!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On Christmas Eve, squeezed in between the regular stuff of last minute shopping, cooking, wrapping presents and housecleaning was a appointment to wash George. I say “wash George”, not get George washed because that is exactly what it was – me washing him, not the groomer doing it.

My friend Ellen and I took George to a place called Happy Clean and Smart where they have a place for customers to wash their own dogs. I’d seen such places before in larger cities and thought it was a great idea, but only learned recently that we have one here locally.

George is such a tender little soul and so frightened by everything, especially anything new, so I thought he would feel better about being washed by me than by a stranger. He’s been to the groomer’s before and I always hate to hand him over to strangers, no matter how skilled they are, because his little body quivers and shakes so much. The self wash option would only be a wash, no nail trimming, no teeth brushing, no hair cut, so we’ll still have to go to the groomer’s occasionally. But for Christmas eve, self wash was on the agenda!

Ellen and I entered into the salon-like facility and were instantly impressed. The spa employee showed us around and explained how to use the equipment. Happy Clean and Smart provides the shampoo, conditioner, towels, and dryer, so all we had to do was show up. We were given a portable shelf to put over the bathing sink so we wouldn’t have to bend over so far to wash George. The portable shelf also provided security for George as it was textured and more comfortable for his feet than the bare sink.

Lots of suds and scrubbing and cooing later, we rinsed him well and moved him over to the drying table. The blow dryer there is much more powerful than my blow dryer at home, so we were able to dry down to the root of his fur and warm his skin. We got him fluffy dry and then dressed him in a fresh, clean sweater.

For $12.00 and one hour, we got a happy, clean dog. The bonding and good time together was a bonus. When we got home, George had puppy energy and seemed pleased to show off his new and refreshed little body. He puppy-trotted all afternoon and turned circles like a professional canine model on the runway.

I definitely recommend the self-wash option for bathing your dog!