Sunday, July 27, 2008


I posted about Travis just a couple of weeks ago and his sudden turn in health. This brave boy held on, fought hard, and lived life to the fullest up until the very end. Last night, the greyhound community lost one of our greatest ambassadors. Travis, along with his partner/mom Jen, inspired many greyhounds and their owners, to try things that a "retired racer" shouldn't be able to do. Hug your hounds today.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Found Confidence

When I recruited Girl Scout leaders for a living, I preached to anyone that would listen to me my firm belief, that one of the most important qualities a girl could gain was the confidence and ability to make a good decision. Kev, as a sixth grade math teacher, sees first hand that gaining this self-confidence early is essential to making good decisions - no matter what your gender.

So, you might wonder why that after living in our home for seven months, one of our girls lacked the self-confidence to simply pick up a toy that squeaked. Yes, if Roxy was a sixth grader, she would have started the school year as the girl in the back of the class whose mom still laid out her clothes every morning (and were obviously still purchased in the girl's department and not the teen department), she'd always need help getting her locker open (and not because she wanted the cute boy to help her), her mother hasn't let her read Are You There God, It's Me Margaret yet (and she has no idea what it might be about) and her most prized possession would be her sticker collection from fourth grade (even the scratch and sniff ones still smell, which is an accomplishment). In a nutshell, she might be 11 years old on paper, but she'd be about 8 years old on the maturity scale. To put that in Roxy years - she's a 4 year old with a 2 year old brain.

Let's be clear. She's not a spook, unless there's thunder outside. She's just not confident, well I should use the past tense of that verb. She wasn't confident until Amber's visit and now Maddie's stay. Something in her doggy brain has clicked on and she had become this confident, sassy, little lady who is attempting to rule this house. So far her achievements have included:

1. Jumping on the furniture: yes, I love that Seka gets on the sofa with me. I love that Seka sleeps in bed with us. I love that she wants to snuggle with me and I don't have to lay in the floor to do it. That's why they call it FURniture, right? I used to have to pick Roxy up and hold all 54 lbs her in my lap like a baby for her to cuddle with me on any piece of furniture we owned and she didn't really like it. While I worked in Dallas last week, Roxy decided that she could get on the love seat all on her own and has now claimed it as her spot. Seka hasn't decided if she likes it yet.

2. Squeakers: every squeaker toy has now been shaken (not stirred). She's even tried to play a bit of tug of war with Maddie. She can squeak the stuffies with the best of them now, like a big girl.

3. Retrieving: stuffies in the yard bring out the retriever in Roxy. She's getting pretty good at bringing them back to us. It's still a work in progress, as she is a bit ADD.

So, while our Roxy is not ready for a spot on the next season of Greatest American Dog, she is gaining the confidence she needs to get over whatever trauma she faced in her former life (which we'll never know what it was like for her) and possibly lure course eventually. Maybe I should enroll her in Dog Scouts to speed up the process. She'd look really snazzy in a vest full of badges!

PS: Maddie is doing great. Her ears were in REALLY bad shape, but she is healing nicely. Dr. Hottie took good care of her. You can keep up with Maddie on her own blog until she is adopted. She's a fun girl if anyone is looking for an easy keeper!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Unexpected House Guest

I'm a horrible housekeeper. I didn't get the gene that some women (and men) get that allows them to find joy in doing dishes, vacuuming, folding laundry, and cleaning toilets. I'd rather spend my free time playing with my dogs, watching whatever I have recorded on my dvr, blogging, catching up on my favorite blogs, doing yoga, playing my wii - pretty much anything else other than doing chores. All that house cleaning stuff will still be there tomorrow, so why worry with it today.

Well, all that is fine until you have an unexpected house guest and you become embarrassed by the condition of your home. I don't live in a sty, but it does have some clutter until I buckle down and throw it all out prior to a guest's arrival. But when we have a last minute or unannounced visitor I do feel the need to apologize. I remember when I was young and my mother was frantically cleaning the house in preparation for my grandparents annual visit, telling her that if they really loved us as much as they should my grandparents wouldn't care how messy our house was. Now that I'm older, I know why she was so stressed out. I also now know why I got a spanking.

Yesterday, I got a house guest that really didn't care how clean my house was. She was just happy to have a bed. Meet Maddie. B Mac's Bacall, is six years old and has been a traveling dog over the last few months. It seems she's bounced around from her original adoptive home without SEGA knowing and then got lost from one of her hand-off families a very long way away. A wonderful rescue family found Maddie, took great care of her and diligently worked all week to look for her owner and, in turn, ended up finding SEGA. Laura, her husband and children met me half way last night so I could get Maddie and start her journey to her new forever family.

While she's only been here for all of 12-hours, here are 10 things I know about this Maddie girl:

1. She LOVES stuffies. I don't know that I can express this enough. I've never seen a greyhound play with stuffies like Maddie does. My two girls stop and stare in awe.

2. She's okay with cats, so far. Last night I wasn't so sure, but this morning she sniffed the eldest of our cats and Emma gave her a hiss and a left hook. It got the reaction I was hoping, which was to turn and run the other way. We'll see if this still applies over the next day or so.

3. She is very happy and she has the tail to prove it. Her tail was obviously docked somewhere along the way due to happy tail syndrome - and now it is shorter than the average greyhound thanks to her wonderful demeanor. She still wags the heck out of it though.

4. She crates beautifully. I crated her briefly last night and she knew just what to do and went in eagerly.

5. She knows how to retrieve. We played a bit in the yard this morning and she will bring back the stuffie bone every time I throw it. No hesitations.

6. She is a very polite eater. She doesn't rush through her food and she doesn't attempt to eat anyone elses either.

7. She slept though the night like a champ. She needs her beauty sleep though. Her road wounds tell quite a story.

8. She's a dream to bathe. I don't think she's had a bath in a very long time and for this to be her first bath in who knows when, she was a perfect lady - even when I had to leave the anti-itchy shampoo on her for 10 minutes.

9. She wasn't so sure about eating marshmallows - but quickly got the hang of it. Her teeth are in remarkably good shape for a dog who has been without vet care for at least a year and a half.

10. She hasn't met a stranger yet. She went right to the fence and let my not-so-friendly neighbor pet her - wagging that short, happy tail the whole time.

Maddie is an excellent house guest, so far. It really is amazing how well some of these dogs deal with all of this change that happens to them - not by their own making. I'm taking her to Dr. Slappy (aka Dr. Hottie) to get vetted either this morning (if they have a cancellation) or Monday morning, so they can tend to her road wounds and her very sore ears. But even with all this wear and tear, she's in very good spirits.

And the best part - Maddie hasn't complained about how dirty my house is yet!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Amber Camp Day 7

I never liked going to sleep away camp. That may sound funny coming from a girl who is a life-time Girl Scout. It wasn't the act of camping, the out-of-doors, the bugs or showering in cold water. I wasn't home sick for my parents. I just hated the organized activities that they forced you to do. Crafts after breakfast. Swimming before lunch. Games before dinner. There were a lot of forced activities that I just didn't like to do that I had to, because they were on the schedule. I preferred to do things on my own time and enjoying my experience to the fullest. The whole "planned fun" wasn't really my cup of tea.

I hope Amber doesn't feel like her activities are too planned here at "Amber Camp." I've let the girls set their own schedule; requesting outside time when they want it, sunning themselves as long as they prefer, and sniffing everything they want. I'm lucky that they are pretty easy.

Instead of swimming, we've had stuffy chasing. Instead of arts and crafts, the girls have been enjoying experimental bed making. As you can see here, Amber and Seka were inspired by my daily yoga practice and made me a ying-yang symbol.

Later on, Roxy and Amber practiced their stacking skills and built me a cute greyhound tower. They tried to convince one of the cats to top it off by placing a pillow on the top, but they just couldn't make it happen.

I whipped up a special meal for the campers one night - turkey necks. It took Amber a few extra minutes to get the hang of eating it, so Boo Radley stood guard and made sure no one bothered her.

Amber has tried to convince us that she is carving a totem pole out of sticks for her mom and dad as a souvenir from Amber Camp. I keep trying to tell her that stick carving often leads to intestinal impaction, so we don't allow such risky activities here. But she is a rebel and will try to work on her one-of-a-kind craft project every chance she gets.

And of course we've indulged in snack time - marshmallows, cookies, ice cream, cheese, yogurt. What's a vacation without snacks? And of course we've had lots of nap time.

All in all I think Amber Camp has been a success. I don't really want it to end and I think Roxy and Seka feel the same way.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wii Like to Play

I never really liked video games as a kid. My sister had an original Nintendo and she and my dad played Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong for hours on it. I on the other hand preferred our Calicovision that had more creative games like Smurfs and Cabbage Patch Kids. As you can see, I really wasn't the gamer type. And if you've ever seen me attempt to do anything that requires hand/eye coordination, you'll know why.

So, I think Kev was more than shocked when I started talking about getting a Wii. And after playing my sister's Wii for three hours straight on two consecutive nights two weeks ago (see pic, even my 65 yo mother became addicted), I went into nagging mode. Kev is a true child of the 1980s. An arcade junkie. A Joust, PacMan, Frogger, Donkey Kong freak. He and his buddies had some sort of Sega and played football or hockey or something until the wee hours of the morning during grad school. I thought he'd be excited to have a game system in the house again. Not so much. Wiis are for girls and kids in his mind.

But despite his reservations, we celebrated our country's freedom by supporting our economy and purchasing a Wii. What followed were hours of challenging each other to multiple games of bowling, baseball and tennis to see who would do laundry, dishes, etc. Wii had way too much fun and I have lots of housework to do.

The dogs are playing their own games. Roxy has never really played with toys. Even after being here for six months, she still isn't really all that interested in stuffies or balls. That is, until Amberly came to stay. The brunettes take turns slinging the stuffies around inside, moving them from one bed to the other. Seka lets them play, but if she feels it gets out of hand, she goes over and puts a stop to all the ruckus. It's funny to me to see her as the alpha, when she was so cautious and scared three years ago.

Outside, Roxy and Amberly race to see who can get the stuffy first. The funny thing is, Roxy can lap Amberly easily, but that isn't really fun. Roxy matches Amberly's gait in the race to retrieve. Sometimes they both come up with the toy for a tug of war. Other times it really isn't about the toy at all and it's more about the running around. It really is fun to watch them interact.

I've realized that Roxy is a good greyhound friend. She lets Amberly win equally and makes her feel good about their play. She doesn't make her do all the housework even if she can beat her at every game.

That's okay. Seka and I are a lot a like. We both like to beat the competition unexpectedly and then rub it in.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Life Changes Quickly

My father passed away in his sleep on a family vacation when I was 23. That was 9 years ago this month. One day he was here and the next he wasn't. I miss him terribly. Life changes so quickly and no matter how you try to prepare and plan - there's really no way to.

Travis is an amazing greyhound. Remarkable is more like it. An agility superstar. An obedience god. A dock diving master. Not to mention a fabulous companion. The achievements of this amazing dog are really just a testament to Jen and Stephen's love and devotion to him.

But life is unfair. And suddenly Travis is ill. Possibly liver disease, although vets really aren't sure. So, I post this here so that as many people as possible can send good thoughts to Travis and offer encouragement to Jen and Stephen. If any greyhound can pull off a miracle, it would be Travis. He's an awesome ambassador for our breed. Hopefully Travis can dodge this obstacle that life has thrown at him with the grace that he makes his way through the weave poles.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Three Isn't a Crowd

If two's company, and three's a crowd, what are four and five?


Try to contain your laughter.

It's an old joke that I still remember from my Golden Books. My father read to me every night before bed until I was six or seven, and then I read to him. Once I got into chapter books, I read myself to sleep and woke up eager to pick back up where I left off the night before. As an English minor, I read lots of books, sermons and poems, most of which I barely remember. It's funny what sticks with you from those first books you read snuggled up next to your dad just before you doze off.

I thought about this kid's joke as Amber Opal (Amberly) arrived on Tuesday night for an extended stay at our home while her family enjoys some time at the beach. Ten-year-old Amberly recently had her toe removed due to an old injury that just wouldn't heal and since we have LOTS of experience with bad feet around here, it just seemed like a good fit.

It's no shock that Roxy has taken on Amberly as her special project, sticking by her side throughout the day. It's really sweet to see them both together. Looking at Amber for us is kind of like a sneak peek into what Roxy might look like when she is a senior, with an all white face and shuffling gait.

For now, the two brindles (or brunettes as I call them) pal around together inside and outside, each taking their cues from the other. If Amberly sees something to explore, Roxy is by her side. If Roxy takes off running, Amberly trots right behind. Seka continues to be above the fray as she monitors their behavior, stepping in when she believes it is necessary and leading the charge if she feels they are losing their way. After all, black dogs are superior.

Kev and I laugh about how these three dogs, who weigh in at a combined 185 lbs (give or take a few), are less trouble and take up a lot less space underfoot than my mother's three miniature schnauzers who have a combined weight of 57 lbs. When it comes to greyhounds, three is certainly not a crowd. In fact, it might be the perfect number.