Archive for August, 2008

The Joy and Frustration of Owning a Terrier

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

My little terrier mix Micah is one of the greatest joys of my life. If I just pick up my clicker he starts spinning, and tap dancing all over the place to see what we might be working on today. He is a training lovin’ machine! He will work his little heart out for his daily kibble - forget chicken or steak. He is the most “ready to go” dog I can imagine. His curiosity and ability to figure things out makes him one of the most fun dogs I’ve ever had.

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Micah came by agility naturally. I didn’t have to work at hyping him up. He came pre-wired for it. He absolutely goes crazy to run and jump. Even when he was little, he showed an affinity for it.

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When he can focus - he’s great!!! When he can focus.

On hot (Texas) nights at agility class when most of the other dogs are worn out and ready for bed, he is raring to go, and would easily do another 2 hours.

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However, on the flip side: when confronted with a new dog or person (or sometimes even someone he sees every week) he frequently will bark and lunge first and ask questions later. That is our plight. It’s just who he is. You see, he’s a terrier. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!!) :-)

So it’s what we have to work on - every day. Trying to make him smile at strangers. Trying to make him a golden retriever in a terrier body. It’s a long road, and we may never get there, but I am hopeful that we will - someday!

He’s got a lot of heart that little guy, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He does have his special challenges, but then, don’t we all? Hopefully, success will be all the sweeter when we get where we need to go.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed everyone. You see, he’s a terrier!

picture by 2MC Design

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I Appreciate You!

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

It’s funny how most people take things for granted. I know I do. Especially when they’re working correctly. When things are working correctly, you basically don’t even notice them. It’s when they STOP, that they come to the forefront of our brain. It’s true for just about anything. If our car or our computer stops working, we go into a tailspin!!! If the stove stops working we may or may not notice! And God forbid, the cable should go out.

It’s also true with our bodies. Take feet for example. I never really paid much attention to my feet until a few years ago when they started to “go”. Started to give me grief.

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I never spent much time thinking about how they let me get from here to there, let me run with my dogs, or kept my legs from jamming into the ground. It’s actually pretty hard to do much of anything without them.

I had surgery on one foot a couple of years ago, and wasn’t all that thrilled with how it turned out. I lovingly call it my “Franken-foot”. I’m trying to stave off doing the other one, but I may be losing the battle. After all, it would be handy to be able to use them for at least another few years. What if I decide to enter the national hopscotch championship?

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Or want to water-ski on my bare feet? What if I want to become a world class ballerina?

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Yeah, better give it some thought.

So for those of you with great arches, and un-knarley toes - show some appreciation folks! Give those babies a nice long bubble bath - maybe even a whirpool tonight.

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Followed by a nice long massage, and some silky lotion. Show them you care. After all, they’re the only feet you’ve got.

Show them some love, bro! They’ll appreciate it!

Cakes Gone Wrong

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

My last post was about Charm City Cakes - Wonderful!!!!

In SHARP CONTRAST to them is:

www.cakewrecks.com.blogspot

This web site seems to be a compilation of cakes that were professionally done that turned out shall we say. . . less than desirable. People actually paid hard earned money for them, but we’re not sure why.

The photos come directly from the web site. I want to give them full credit!! And if I thought their comment was particularly funny, I will put that in quotations for you.

Personally, I like knowing that I’m not the only one that screws up now and then. Take a look at some of these blunders!

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I think this one is pretty self explanatory! Makes you wonder if they’re actually READING what they write.

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(Direct quote)
What the customer said:
“So we’re throwing a going-away party for our friend, and we’d like you to write “Good luck at U.C.”, since that’s the college she’s going to. Also, she’s a big E.T. fan - you know, from the movie? - so we want to incorporate that somehow. I’ll leave it up to you; we just want something E.T.- related on it. Can you do that? Yeah? Cool! Thanks!”

What the decorator heard:
“Blah blah blah, write blah E.T. blah blah on it. Blah.”

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(Direct Quote)
“To reduce paper consumption, local elementary schools are having students practice their handwriting skills at area grocery store bakeries. More news at 11.”

If this was the visual, you’d have to believe it, wouldn’t you? Check out how the word “happy” is in all caps, but “birthday” is not. And then, inexplicably, the name is in cursive. It’s like the writer was practicing different handwriting styles - or 3 toddlers each took turns writing.

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Hey, the average person should know that the word ‘birthday’ is longer than the word ‘happy’, right? Can we agree on that? Good. Now look where this person started writing ‘birthday’. Yeeeah.

This whole word-spacing thing wouldn’t have been an issue, of course, if the person responsible had simply turned the cake right-side up. (You did notice it’s upside-down, right? Of course you did, faithful Cake Wrecks reader!)
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This cake is so disturbing, I’m almost glad the picture doesn’t include the whole thing. The plastic clone babies wearing naught but mohawks is bad enough, but then they’re also riding carrots. What do you do with that? It looks like some kind of perverted vegetable rodeo, or maybe a bizarre clone military exercise, what with their little plastic fists raised high in identical salutes.

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And what kind of occasion calls for a “naked babies riding carrots” decor, anyway? No, wait, maybe I don’t want to know…
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Again - no explanation required - but pretty darned funny!

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(direct quote)
Makes Ya Wonder What the Card Said

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Well guys. I could go on and on, but what’s the point? You can check out more Cakes Gone Wrong at the cakewrecks blog.

I have one final cake to share -

This one gets the “Creepiest Cake” award. A little too (no - WAY TOO) realistic for me. While I can appreciate the artwork, it seems TOTALLY inappropriate for something that you would end up having as a snack! Eeeeeuuuuuuuwwwww! Too creepy!!!

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Until we meet again.

Let Them Eat Cake

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Cakes are a great way to help celebrate a momentous occasion: a birthday, an anniversary, or a wedding. But now-a-days, people order cakes for all kinds of occasions, and the cakes have gotten more and more sophisticated. Take a look at a few of the cakes from Charm City Cakes of Baltimore, MD.

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Led by an unconventional young entrepreneur named Duff Goldman, the Charm City Cakes crew will knock your socks off.

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They’re an incredibly talented and creative group of young guys and gals, carving out a name for themselves. They have a show on the food network called “Ace of Cakes” where you can not only see the creative process, but also a little about the personalities and antics of the artists involved.

Their work is fabulous!! I can only show a very few cakes here, but check out their website for tons more at:

www.charmcitycakes.com

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the exorcist

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fist of rock

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hogwarts

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Now you’ve seen “the good”. My next entry will be about “the bad” and “the ugly”.
Stay tuned!!!

The Rescue Wagon Train - Part II

Friday, August 15th, 2008

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Three of my four dogs came to me “in-need”. I’ve never really considered myself to be much of a sucker when it comes to a hard luck story, but then I’m not made of stone either.

Turbo is my sweet, if somewhat vacant, Doberman. At the time of his rescue he was four and a half months old, and living in a pile of leaves, in the backyard with a bunch of other dogs. The owner said that’s what the dogs liked. Yeah.

He should have long been gone from his mother, and no doubt was trying to do something repugnant when she attacked him. I’m just guessing. He was probably just being a normal adolescent pup, doing the normal obnoxious things that adolescent dogs do. At any rate, he incurred her wrath, and she nailed him in the throat. She ripped him open badly enough that his owners brought him in to euthanize.

Long story short, he was rescued and the docs fixed him up. At least they fixed him physically. With stitches, and drain tubes, etc, he recovered with very little drama.

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It hadn’t clicked with me yet, that the first 16 weeks of his life were CRITICAL to his emotional development, and he was living in the “pile of leaves” at that crucial time. The bonding and socializing and mental stimulation that should have taken place, was completely absent.

It took many weeks of living with us before I could even get eye contact from him. It wasn’t that he was afraid; he just didn’t have any clue what relating to people was all about. He still struggles with that today, along with several other emotional/mental glitches.

He IS a sweet boy, and we love him despite his shortcomings, but the point is that he could have been SO MUCH MORE if he had been given half a chance - been given even a minimal amount of nurturing as a pup. It makes me sad for HIM.

Early socialization and bonding with people is SO important for young dogs. I can’t emphasize that enough. Between birth and 16 weeks they are truly little sponges, willing and eager to soak up anything and everything we can give them. That’s when it’s most important to make sure that all their experiences are great ones.

Perhaps not all of his problems are due to his negligent upbringing. Perhaps some dogs could live the way he did for their first 4 months, and come away with less social damage. I don’t know for SURE that he would have been a different dog if I had him from babyhood, but I certainly would like to think so.

Losing My Mind??

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

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I suppose, as we get older, it’s natural to worry about losing your mind, especially if you already have Alzheimer’s, or dementia running in the family. You know, you walk into a room and then can’t remember what you went in there for. Or you start to say something and then forget mid-sentence why you opened your mouth.

All the talk about “old-timers” disease has pushed me to buy a Nintendo DS, and a couple of games designed specifically to help in this area - Brain Age and Brain Age Two. If you use it every day, it’s supposed to help you use parts of your brain that you might not otherwise be using. They say your brain is just like a muscle - use it or lose it. (I fear that my brain has lost much muscle mass from watching too much Bravo).

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So the game has you do a couple of tests and then tells you what your “brain age” is. The ultimate age is 20. I don’t think I’ll be attaining that anytime soon. Of course, ideally you don’t want your brain age to be any older than your body age. I’m not going to share what mine was - let’s just say I have some work to do. Hopefully with regular use, I can at least make some progress. If not, I guess it won’t matter, since I won’t know the difference.

Let’s hope for the former.

It’s the Little Things

Friday, August 8th, 2008

There are a few things I really enjoy seeing in Texas that I never saw in Minnesota. One is the endless number of hawks circling the skies at any given time. I could watch them for hours. I saw lots of ducks and geese in MN but hardly ever a hawk - at least not in the city.

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I also really like the little geckos that grace our front entry porch. Most nights you can find a couple of adults and two or three babies hanging out on the bricks, but they’ll quickly scurry into the eaves if they see you looking at them for too long. We also have at least a couple that hang around the back patio in the evening.

Yesterday morning as I was walking through the family room, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Couldn’t figure out what it was - something on the wall, near the ceiling. We have a lot of hornets around our yard, and I thought perhaps that’s what it was.

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I actually had to get my camera out and zoom in on it to find out that it was a teeny baby gecko. Poor thing! He was on the wall above the patio door, so he must have wandered in during one of the thousand times a day I let the dogs in and out.

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I decided to leave him alone and wait for him to come down. Then I could worry about trying to get him outside. No point in scaring him before it was necessary. Throughout the day I would check on him. He barely moved an inch from his original position. I figured he must have been pretty terrified.

I don’t know how old he was, but if size was any indication, he must have been very, very young. He probably didn’t have a clue what to do about his predicament, so decided to just stay put. I’m sure coming in the house was just a freak accident, cause as you know, I have FOUR DOGS!

I was gone for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and when I came home, you guessed it, he was in the same spot. My husband said that he would die up there if we didn’t get him down. So after everyone went to bed, I found a fluffy thing on a pole used for dusting ceiling fans and decided to try to coax him out the door. It was actually amazingly simple. I just opened the door, nudged him in the right direction, and out he went. Wah-Lah! Gecko Gone! Yea!!!!! Good luck, little guy!!

It’s surprising how much I worried about that tiny lizard. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make all the difference!!

We’re What???

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

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In one of my previous posts I talked about the little “who knows what” dog that I rescued when he was just itty-bitty. Yes, I said I’d give him a chance at life, but that was it. No long-term commitment. Nothing permanent. No problem. I DID end up having to give him a name, simply because I had to call him SOMETHING! What was I going to say when I called him? Here mutt-mutt? Here little stray dog that I’m not keeping? That just wasn’t cutting it. So I called him Micah.

As I describe in my previous post, he is quite a little spitfire, and has been from the get-go. In the back of my mind I kept thinking - I’m going to have to find someone who will be up to the challenge of keeping this little dude in line. But who? I didn’t have a problem with the concept of letting him go, but the new owner/family would have to be just right. (A pretty common problem among rescue people, I hear).

Well, much to my surprise (NOT), my husband had grown attached to him, and expressed an interest in keeping him. He’s pretty much a softie when it comes to the dogs. I hadn’t let myself get (too) attached to him - since it was always my intention to re-home him. But I must admit, I felt more than a little relieved to know that we were. . . um. . . well. . . keeping him. After all, he was pretty cool.

Once the decision was made, it didn’t take long for him to worm his way into my heart. He’s already one of my all time favorites.

Try as we might to come up with a breed for him, we have finally settled on “terrier mix”. There’s no ILP’ing this one. Try if you like. I’d be interested if anyone has a serious opinion. :-)

And so, our journey has begun with the scruffy little black thing called Micah. It may well be a bumpy ride, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be dull.

Stay tuned.

Micah help up in air

Faith Restored

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

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I still work part time at an emergency pet clinic. In that field you sometimes see things happen that shouldn’t, and people that do things to their pets that you almost can’t believe. Sometimes it’s easy to become a little cynical. (Thank goodness, I DO realize however, that there are MANY great owners out there who would give life and limb for their 4-legged kids).

Tonight my faith in humanity was restored. Not that it had been obliterated, but I have seen it limping a little, from time to time. So tonight, at our very busy clinic, I witnessed something I have only rarely seen, and may never see again.

A client who could not afford treatment for her pet was preparing to put her dog to sleep. She was absolutely heartbroken. Inconsolable. She was so in love with this dog, and she felt horrible that she couldn’t afford the treatment that was so urgently needed.

She was in the waiting room struggling to pull herself together, amidst quite a few others who were somewhere in the mid-treatment stage with their own pets. A woman quietly approached her and told her that she would pay the bill for whatever the dog needed. No questions asked.

The bill was MANY hundreds of dollars. The woman simply said, - “I know how it is to have a sick pet. They’re like family”. She had just learned that her own dog had come through a pretty serious surgery, and was doing well. Perhaps she had made a deal with God. You know, those deals we all make when we’re in a desperate situation. You let me have this now, and I’ll be good for the rest of my life, (or any number of similar scenarios). Or maybe she was just an extremely empathetic and generous person.

I don’t know why she did it, but at any rate, tonight my faith was restored. And it feels really good. Whatever the reason for her deed, she totally made my day. In fact, I think she made my week. I really don’t know how long I will be thinking about that act of incredible kindness; for at least a little while I hope. I think acts such as that deserve some recognition, and so I hope I think of her for a long, long time!