Saturday, March 4, 2017

All Armored Up and No One To Fight

Image result for armor cartoon female viking

Opening my work email at home after a day at work (habit I am trying to break), there was one from my wack-a-doodle boss.  He wanted a meeting.  He sent a second email the next morning requesting a meeting.  I had noted that his face the last two weeks had the "Gargamel" (character from the Smurfs") look to it which was not a good sign. Having already identified him as one of the major contributors of my anxiety, I did what I always do: panicked.  I worked myself into a frothy frenzy; heart racing, face flushing, wringing my hands.  I knew I was in for a battle where I would be scapegoat of all that might be wrong.  

In the midst of my panic I told myself this was anxiety.  I had been to the counselor, what was I supposed to do?  What is it that she had taught me?  There was a moment I couldn't remember anything.  The next moment I could recalled that anxiety is just an emotion that you won't let yourself feel, and emotions won't kill you.  So I took some long, deep breaths, told myself to give validity to the emotion, that I was not having these emotions for no reason, that I had been thoroughly programed by my boss to anticipate the worst and to be prepared to defend myself from false accusations; I had not made this up at all and the emotions were appropriate. 

The anxiety went down by two thirds.  I could catch my breath again and I stopped shaking.  Then I put on my armor, the emotional armor I had hoped to always leave packed away forever (wishful thinking).  Ready for battle, facts and figures in hand, I went to the meeting.

The meeting went much better than I expected.  The boss was asking us to cut down the amount of help we used.  I agreed with him and proceeded to tell him about how many hours a week I spend assisting others in the department that are technically outside of my assignment.  If he decided to cut my help, I could no longer assist others and I would let those people know that my boss had instructed me not to assist and to stay within the parameters of my job.  My boss visibly backed up in his chair. He put both palms out to me and told me no, please continue to assist others as it promoted team work.

All of that armor and no fight?  Perhaps things have changed.  While I remain ever so skeptical and guarded, I may have over prepared for the situation.  Time will tell.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Living Sans Breasts

A few years back I was diagnosed with breast cancer, two different kinds in both breasts.  I had chemotherapy followed by surgery then radiation on one side.  I did a great deal of research into the subjects and opted for a double mastectomy without reconstruction. 

Refusing reconstruction is not the most popular choice women make.  Often it is not presented to them as an option.  When I saw the plastic surgeon I had done my research and I had questions.   He had told me he could make me one beautiful breast and one that they could fix surgically a year later.  The need for radiation on the one side post surgery would like cause deformity in the one breasts. Hmmm.  Breasts seem to come in even numbers:  zero or two.  I wasn't excited about one normal, one iffy.  "The metal expanders you put in, will those remain in during radiation?" I asked.  The reply was yes.  It was the next question that stumped him.  "So do the expanders deflect any of the radiation or warp the radiation field in any way?"  Silence.  He didn't know.  Two phone calls later to radiation oncologists, the response was, "We can work around that." 

Shaken by what I felt was a questionable response to a reasonable question, I went home, did more research, and opted not to have reconstruction.  It required too many surgeries for my taste. The plastic surgeon told me statistically I would be happier if I had the reconstruction, and I do remember asking my surgeon to give me the "pretty" stitches as I was not intending on any reconstruction.  She laughed and told me that all of her stitches were the pretty kind. 

Three months post surgery I did finally attempt prosthetic for a couple of months.  The sales person kept telling me I would mess up my back if I didn't wear them and I owed it to myself to wear them. Silicone is the standard and I found it hot in the summer, cold in the winter and very heavy although I had chosen only B cups.  They pressed on my scar tissue and the band around the bra gave me lymphedema.  After three months I stopped wearing them. 

Breasts did appear to define who was as a woman and I was not about to endure pain for the look of breasts.  It has been 5 years and I am still sans breasts. I don't think about it often and in the right cut of clothing I believe I simply appear flat chested.   I even found the love of my life sans breasts; he loves me for who I am without them.

While turning down reconstruction may not be for everyone, I have seen a growing population of women out there on the internet that have done the same.  It isn't a matter of doing what we are told, or even doing what statistics say we will make us happier.  It is really about knowing yourself and  making the decision that is right for you.

Things We Are Good At Doing

My best friend and I were talking on the phone when I heard her say, "I am only good at two things.  Only two things fill me up, walking and helping others."  This was when I knew my friend was in a kind of crisis and she didn't realize it.  Having been friends for 35 years, we have been through many ups and downs together.  It saddened me to hear that my very best friend thought she was only really good at two things.  She used to be so confident which had me wondered where all that confidence had gone.  As a tribute to my best friend, who is so much more than a walker and helper, I want her to know a couple of things that I alone have found her to be good at doing for which she is not giving herself any credit.

1.  Telling jokes.  She is the best at remembering and telling jokes.
2.  She has this lovely singing quality to her voice, the tone of which is cheerful and soothing.
3.  Loving with all of her heart.  She selflessly loves her children, her grandchildren, her animals, friends and husband.
4.  Entertaining.  She is the queen of hostessing.  Everyone feels at home, she creates a lively atmosphere.  People's food preferences are always considered.  She even makes more food so everyone can take some home.
5.  She is an awesome grandmother caring both for the emotional and physical welfare of her two grandgirls.  She travels with them, hikes with them and exposes them to all kinds of education events.
6.  She is the kind of friend that will show up on your doorstep when you need her most. She is keeping friendships and knowing when to let them go.
7.  She is a great listener and conversationalist.  She puts everyone at ease and is able to laugh at herself.
8.  She is a good wife to her husband.  She takes care of her family's emotional and physical wants and needs.
9.  She plays well with others and has never met a stranger.  People just like her.
10.  She is uber creative.  Her home looks like it came out of a magazine and she did it all herself.  She has a super decorating and organizational instinct.  Best of all she can make the place look like a palace without spending exorbitant amounts of money. 
11.  The woman is adventurous.  Whether it be traveling across Europe or hiking up an active volcano, she is there.
12. She is extremely giving of herself.  She does a great deal of volunteering for the Alzheimer's Association.
13.  She rocks at being a health care advocate for people.  She is not intimidated by medical professionals in the least.  She boldy asks for explanations and clarification. 
14.  She is a painter.  She paints walls, ceilings, front doors.  She paints landscapes and flowers.  And she is good at it.
15.  She is quite the cook and her family all loves her cooking.
16.  She is very observant and aware of the people in her immediate circle.  She senses when they are feeling unwell often before they know it themselves.
 17.  Tribal.  Well that's what I call it.  She has these moments of insight and wisdom that are so right on and deep that it can take a while before you can wrap your mind around them.
18.  A classy dresser.  She always looks put together and stylish.  I love it when she is my personal shopper.  I tend to dress on the frumpy side and she does what she can to interviene which I appreciate.
19.  Extremely patient with the infirmed and elderly.
20. Smart as a whip and catches onto things really quickly.

Perhaps we should tell people more often about their qualities that we appreciate. Maybe we should do it now before they feel they are only good at two things.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Hostile Work Environment

Image result for hostile work environment

The last few years I have been working in a highly toxic work situation, I mean a seriously hostile work environment.  The person I worked with had the trifecta of disease which translated into her inability to play well with others. She had a very unstable bipolar disorder, was a long term alcoholic and had one of the worst cases of narcissistic personality disorder I have every experienced.  She flung about wild, delusional accusations  all of which my boss believed.  She had gross gaps in her memory and frequently was unable to recall recent conversations.  Everyone was her servant in her mind.  

Previously she had been found in her office by the custodial staff one evening with an empty wine bottle on her desk, passed out on the floor.  She had hit her head on the corner of the desk and was lying in a pool of her own blood.  Naked.  Yet she kept her job.  Fear of a law suite because of the Disabilities Act, maybe. 
The three of us would have meeting after meeting in my boss' office.  The post mortem on the meetings went somewhat like, "Why can't you get along with her?"  "Get along?  The only way to make her happy is to do her work for her. "  "Then why don't you?" he suggested.  I tried explaining to him that I already had a full time job.  If he wanted me to do her work for her then he should draw up the contract and make me an offer for overtime at which point he threw up his hands in exasperation and stormed out, (he was prone to tantrums and yelling himself.)

One lovely meeting the woman had a classic psychotic break right then and there.  My boss had tried to explain to her that she could not "boss" me around as she was not my supervisor.  She lost it.  Her voice changed into some state of demonic possession and I had scenes flash in my mind from the movie The Exorcist.  "You are not the boss of need a boss....I don't need bossing, no one can boss me, no one can control me, I don't need CONTROLLNG!"   It was spooky.  I assumed we would be calling an ambulance and she would be on a 72 hour hold with evaluation. I turned to look at my boss.  Equally disconcerting was my boss sitting there, legs crossed,  looking and acting as though nothing unusual had just happened.  I could only think what a horror his home life must be for him to sit there as if this was normal.  

I have questioned myself often as to why I did not file a hostile work environment complaint.  Obviously I am lacking litigious sensibilities.  I truly thought it would make things even worse for me which was probably true.  I was ever so tired on the inside of fighting the ridiculous nonsensical battles. Taking on yet another battle didn't make sense at the time.  

She finally resigned. Oddly, there has been some fall out from my work environment returning more to normalcy.  I am still on hyper alert, just waiting for the next unfounded, false accusation.  I dread seeing my boss as I've come to realize he is a very broken human being and the tantrums he has are ugly.  I still dread going to work.  I have unexpected bouts of anxiety.  While the poisoning has ceased, the effects of its toxicity are fading slowly.  It's going to take some time to heal.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Multi Drug Resistant Gene (MDR1) and Collies

The Collie breed along with a few other breeds, are carriers of a genetic mutation in the MDR1 gene.  This protein made from this gene is responsible for transporting drugs across the blood-brain barrier. A mutation in this gene enables some drugs to accumulate in the brain in abnormally high amounts possibly resulting in an overdose and death of the dog.  The following link lists breeds known to have MDR1 mutations and includes the frequency of the mutation   About 75% of all Collies are affected in some way either being carriers of the mutation or pure mutants.  Dogs with two copies of the mutation (25% of Collies) are highly susceptible to overdosing from some drugs. 

A classic saying taught to veterinarians during their schooling is, “white feet, don’t treat”.  The sentence typically refers to the use of Ivermectin.  The number of drugs found to be affected by the MDR1 mutation has expanded past Ivermectin ( ).  Included in the list are many de-wormers and anti parasitics (Ivermectin, Flagyl), Loperimide (Imodium® - anti-diarrhea), Morphine, Buprenorphine, Fentanyl and Acepromizine (pain killers and pre-anesthetics), as well as many chemotherapy agents.

Recently I had an encounter with a newly graduated veterinarian.  She quoted to me the, “white feet, don’t treat” saying and also told the pup, “No Ivermectin for you.”  As I was casually mentioned that many other drugs were now included on the list, she was about to give the pup a dose of de-wormer (we had forgotten to bring in a poop sample).  I stopped her and asked her what were the active ingredients in that wormer and she didn’t know. Not knowing the MDR1 status of my pup and having my handy list of drugs known to cause problems in MDR1 mutants with me, I stopped her until I had an answer.
In summary, it may not only be useful, it may be life saving for our dogs, for us to know the dog’s MDR1 status of our Collies and familiarize ourselves with the list of harmful drugs if our dogs have the mutation.  We should not rely on our veterinarians to be encyclopedias of all breeds and drugs and we should be able to have discussions with our veterinarians about their drug choices for our dogs. 

Below are links for MDR1 Testing.  Testing is as simple as mailing in a cheek swab.  At this writing the last link had the best pricing.  Two out of my three Collies are carriers and one tested to be a mutant.  The mutant happens to be the pup mentioned above in the de-worming example.

MDR1 Testing

The drugs listed below put your MDR1 dog at risk.

Class A
Do NOT use these drugs with the MDR1 gene defect:
Ivermectine substances "Anti parasites": (Diapec®, Ecomectin®, Equimax®, Eqvalan®, Ivomec®, Noromectin®, Paramectin®, Qualimec®, Sumex®, Virbamec®) 
Doramectine substances "Anti parasites": (Dectomax® )
Loperamide substances "ant diarrheal ": (Imodium®) 
Moxidectine substances "Anti Parasites" (Cydectin®, Equest®) (Flagyl )

Class B 
Use only under close supervision of Veternarian:
Cytostatics "Chemotherapy": (Vinblastine, Vincristine, Doxorubicine, Paclitaxel, Docetaxel, Methotrexat, Vincristine)
Immunosuppressive: (Cyclosporine A)
Heart glycosides: (Digoxine, Methyldigoxine)
Opioids: (Morphium) Antiarrhythmics: (Verapamil, Diltiazem, Chinidine)
Antiemetics (Ondansetron, Domperidon, Metoclopramide )
Antibiotics (Sparfloxacin, Grepafloxacin, Erythromycin)
Antihistamin (Ebastin) Glucocorticoid (Dexamethason)
Acepromazine (tranquilizer and pre-anesthetic agent) *
Butorphanol "analgesic and pre-anesthetic agent" *
Other drugs: Etoposide, Mitoxantrone, Ondansetron, Paclitaxel, Rifampicin

Class C
Can be used only in the permitted application form and dose:
Selamectin (Stronghold®), Milbemax® and Advocate® 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Reason to Blog

I’d quit blogging some time ago as I just couldn’t find a reason to continue.  My life had become tense and toxic; I’d lost my sense of humor. Work that I loved morphed its way into a hostile work situation and I literally was grinding my teeth to endure.  Three years of a toxic work environment was extracting a toll on my health and happiness.  While the major culprit of the chaotic and crazy workplace finally did resign six months ago, there was more than one player in that destructive game and I am still working with a poisonous boss. What I recently realized is that acid, once poured, does not stop eroding, it has to be neutralized. Still in the clean up phase, still neutralizing the acid and repairing the damage done, I am beginning to see glimpses of the me I used to be. I have rediscovered my reason to blog.

                                                 In Memory of Elle and Chance

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Dreaded Flip Flop

Dear Ryker is the sweetest dog.  He is so quiet and spends hours simply observing.  The weather here has been balmy and today I donned flip flops.  Flip.  Flop.  Flip.  Flop.  It triggered something in Ryker that I had not seen. 

First, you have to get the sound of his bark in you mind.  He sounds like Dino from the Flintstones cartoon.  Funny at first, but long bouts of it could make your ears bleed.  Ryker was emotional upset.  He barked and barked a loud, shrill warning.  Chance, my other collie, was frantically looking inside and outside the house attempting to discern what Ryker's alarm was all about.

It took me a while to narrow the problem down the sound of my flip flops.  He doesn't like it, he cannot tolerate it.  So in my mind I figure whoever bothered to feed the poor Tomball Collies might have worn flip flops.  It is warm a great deal down there in Texas and flip flops would be appropriate. 

The question becomes two fold:  will I ever figure out how to desensitize Ryker to the sound of my flip flops and/or am I really going to have to change my summer shoe style in order to have a peaceful household?  Meanwhile, I am opting for hot feet.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Magic of the Thundershirt

Ryker has given me the best Holiday Surprise of all; he now uses the dog door.   We put the patio dog door back in over the Holidays.  It's a little easier to use than the dog door in the wall.  Add in a Thundershirt, taping up the flap and then some cold weather.  Suddenly Ryker uses the dog door.  A week later I had forgotten to tape up the flap and he used it with the flap down, a significant event for a dog who is nervous about being touched even if it is by a flap.

The dog door is his new toy.  While the constant  sound of his going in, then out, in, then out can be annoying, it has eliminated potty accidents altogether.  It is amazing to watch him grow and make choices, opportunities his old life never provided.

I started doing Yoga over the holidays which the dogs find very entertaining.  Chance serenades me with barking during the entire activity.  When I'm lying on my back on the floor looking a lot like an overturned turtle, Ryker circles me continuously tail wagging furiously and occasionally dropping a stuffed animal on me or playing with my hands.  I wasn't sure this dog would ever reach a place and be truly happy yet me on the floor trying to exercise seems to do the trick.  Go figure.

Ryker jumped on the couch to be with me last night.  He's never done that.  I left him there when I went to bed and he was still up there in the morning.  Although it isn't a behavior I want to encourage as the volume of dog hair alone is remarkable, I've never had to correct him at all for anything and have no idea how this is going to work. 

The Thundershirt gives him the boost of confidence he needs to try new things.  It's now on my list of "must haves" for rescue dogs.  Next project: getting Ryker to stop hating the sound of the leash and running from it. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ordering a Thundershirt

Well poor Ryker has been almost impossible to train to use the doggie door.  He is so afraid of coming to people and is inconsistent at even taking treats out of your hand.  Many things no longer send him into the "circle of frenzy", yet when I least expect it, something unpredictable will induce the circling.  Taking the advise from my friend Susan who has a rescued, over reactive Vizsla she has successfully calmed with this product , I am ordering a Thundershirt.

Ironically I have purchased them as gifts for people with sketchy dogs.  The work wonderfully leaving the dog feeling secure and calm.  The weather being colder and Ryker coming from a warmer climate I'm not adverse to keeping it on him during the day.

The order has been placed; fingers crossed.  If it works then we are moving on to doggie door training.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Growth Spurt

Ryker is growing on the inside.  Today he approached me to pet him and we were NOT in the kitchen.  Last night I walked directly to his dog bed and he didn't jump off of it and run away.  He seems to have stopped lurching when he is touched and shows some type excitement over feeding time and when I come home from work.  His compulsive circling before settling has decreased from six circles to sometimes as few as three.  He will go outside straight from his dog bed instead of circling around the kitchen and then out.  He makes eye contact and looks at me when I say his name.  All of these things seem to suddenly come together this week.  It was a really good week.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Slow As Christmas

It's Thanksgiving weekend and I have some time off to be at home with the dogs.  Soon the semester will be out and I'll be home a lot more; I'm really looking forward to it.  I had anticipated this time off to be full of dog walks, exercising, house cleaning and general upkeep.  What I didn't include was howling wind, a lot of rain, me catching a cold.  It's a cloudy overcast day with intermittent rain, the perfect kind of day for reading books and napping. 

Ryker and Chance seem to get along.  Occasionally Ryker is extra sketchy with extra pacing and extra cowering and  a great deal of darting around.  When he is like this I think Chance finds Ryker an irritant.  I find it exhausting watching Ryker pace and dart; he is completely unable to settle and I feel helpless about how to get him back to a better mental state.  At theses times I have seen Chance show Ryker a snarly lip exposing one fang all the way to a snarky snarl.  It has happened twice.  It must be a dog body language thing as I don't see it coming with the exception of Ryker pacing endlessly.  Afterward Ryker retreats and the pacing stops. 

Chance is an exceptionally wise dog.  I've seen him snarl a warning at rogue puppies that were completely out of control of themselves and after many warnings alpha roll those pups who ignore him and continued to use his as a chew toy yet he never put a tooth mark on them.  I've seen him charged by unfriendly, dog aggressive, mastiff type dogs and never alter his calm, cool demeanor, which warded off the dog's attack.  I've yet to figure out what is triggering Chance to warn Ryker; perhaps it is as simple as the highly neurotic behavior.

Still, Chance chooses to nap near Ryker and there are times they do chase each other around the yard (when they don't think I'm looking) and Ryker's tail is up and there is a bit of a wag to it.  When Chance barks, Ryker is there investigating right along with him.  I've yet to teach Ryker anything besides "leave it".  He is so people shy it is difficult to train him.  Most of the time he will take food or treats from my hand and he circles me multiple times if he wants me to get on the floor, stop him from circling and pet him.  He is still is erratic on the midnight potty training.  It may have to do with Bruce getting up at 4am to be at work.  I'll have to investigate that pattern.  Whether Ryker knows it or not he has found his home and only Ryker can decide all that might become for him. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Patter of Paws

Just having walked in the door, I was sitting down momentarily at the computer catching up on what was happening in the word.  It was a nicer day and I opened the patio door to let some fresh air in and two dogs out. 

Quite content reading the news, out of my direct vision I could see a blurr of bodies of fur running around the back yard.  The patter of paws, it's a soothing sound to me.  I stopped in my tracks.  The sound of dogs playing?  For a moment I thought of Elle, I hadn't heard this noise since she died.  Wait, Elle is gone and Ryker doesn't play.  Yet, it was indeed Ryker and Chance playing chase.  Chance tired out and just barked at Ryker as he ran by him.  Ryker had gone wild running race tracks all over the back yard. 

I couldn't happier. 

Friday, November 21, 2014


Ryker has been living with us three weeks.  Just when I begin to wonder how far along  he really was going to progress he goes and shows me that he is doing better than I give him credit.  I have wondered if he would ever feel safe outside the area of his dog bed.  He clings to that bed as if it is the only thing holding him together.  This week I caught him laying in other rooms. 

Herding him outside and inside has become such a breeze.  He still has the occasional potty accident, always at night.  I figure he might be his most relaxed at night when all the scary people are asleep.  Ryker has decided that eating food in a bowl is not such a bad idea and he has expressed a real preference for having his dry food lightly coated in canned pumpkin.  In fact, if I don't stir the pumpkin into the dry food, he will eat the all of the pumpkin, ignore the dry food, and wait until I realized he needs more pumpkin in order to consume the dry stuff.    

Tonight we had our first training session.   I was standing in the kitchen and Ryker kept walking through sometimes stopping and watching me.  If I looked at him he would run away.  So I grabbed a box of treats and sat in the kitchen floor intentionally not looking at him.  He came up to me and stopped.  It was the first time I had been able to pet him while he was standing up.

He sat down, Chance came in and we all had a training session.  Chance would "shake" for a treat, Ryker would follow the treat to my eyes and make eye contact or "look" for a treat.  Chance would lay "down", treat, Ryker would "look", treat.   Chance would "shake", Ryker let me touch his paw for "shake".  Ryker seems to inherently know "leave it".  He's one smart dog. 

Both dogs are now snoring on the kitchen floor.  I tip toed into the kitchen and Ryker stood up. I had anticipated him bolting; for the first time he did not.  He stood up, let me approach him and give him a giant hug with lots of fur scratching. Silly me forgetting that he is healing on the inside and I won't always see the progress on the outside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reeling Ryker In

There is an old trick used when reeling in a substantial sized fish so that you don't break off your line.  It's called playing the fish.  When the fish takes off like a bullet you give it line and let it run.  When the fish swims towards you, you take up all of the slack as fast as possible.  This fish eventually tires making it easier to get to shore without snapping off your line.  This last week with Ryker (his new name) is much akin to playing a fish.

 It may be that I do an amazing imitation of a herding dog and have Ryker heading in and out the patio door with the greatest of ease, although I suspect Ryker is pretty observant and maybe catching on to the pattern.   Having somewhat established a routine is easing our communication.  I pretty much can figure out that when we get up in the morning he is going to need to go out and potty.  He has pretty much figured out that after I have a cup of coffee I am going to feed him.   Then it's back outside to go potty.  If you open the sliding door and herd him the right direction, he now heads that direction and strolls through the patio door.   It works for herding him back inside as well.

Gone are the days of cornering him (which requires two people), and leading  him where you need him to go.  I won't miss those days although I do have flashbacks when I try to gather him up to put the leash on him.  The trick is to catch him lying down, slowly approach without words or eye contact and pet him nicely behind the ears.  Then you go for the collar.  being a smart dog he has already learned the sound of the leash coming off the coat rack so you cannot touch the coat rack.  You cannot put on your coat or your sunglasses either or he goes into alert.  There is no catching him when he switches to alert. 

Tonight Bruce, Chance and I were in the kitchen talking after dinner  (Chance was not talking yet he was doing the arf arf arf thing).  Ryker peered around the corner.  We were all smart enough to ignore him.  No eye contact, nothing.  We just kept talking.  After several attempts he settled right in the kitchen floor.  We all joined him on the floor and broke out the dog treats.  It was a good family moment. 

Whether Ryker realizes it or not, we are playing him like a fish.  He darts away and we let him have all the distance he wants.  When he comes in close, we take up the slack with treats and ear scratches.  Back and forth we go, day after day all the time unaware that he is slowly tiring.  He doesn't bolt as often or as far and we are reeling him in.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Wednesday brought some nice weather and huge amounts of success with Rhett.  I was sitting outside sipping coffee and the two dogs were outside with me.  Rhett was running around the back yard and for the very first time I saw a white tip on his tail; his tail wasn't completely tucked.  Chance serenaded with the bark of happiness.  Both offered play bow to each other yet before they could really play Chance tripped on the long line attached to Rhett which ended the play.  Rhett had even played a little with a stuffed bear we have.

I have been considering what to name Rhett.  As more of his personality comes I keep changing his name.  Then Thursday came along.  No longer does Rhett cower on his bed when I approach with a leash, he now bolts off the bed and darts around the house. "Bolt" or "Dart"  have now become name options.  He bolts into the the house, he darts past me like lighting.  I took his harness and the long line off of him after it tripped up Chance but now I've got a sketchy dog to chase around and catch.  I am beginning to feel like a herding dog rounding up livestock and am impressed by my own creativity.  Did you know a open refrigerator door can act as a dog block?  Ever used a step ladder to block off access to the maze of options a sketchy dog might try to run? 

Yesterday I was a bit discouraged.  Rhett has done a lot of pacing and very little settling.  I think the less he shuts completely down the more the nervousness appears.  Eventually I believe it too will run its course.  There has been no more play bow.  The two dogs basically ignore each other completely. The poor guy still hates the leash with a passion; it's obvious punishment in his mind.  I do remember Elle hating it as well.  I keep telling myself that it has only been a week.  One week to undo 4 years. 

For now Rhett has set up camp in the living room on one of the dog beds.  Chance and I sometimes visit Rhett on the dog bed.  He doesn't cower, likes to be pet and doesn't bolt away.  At this moment I'm working on gathering the stamina for a round up so I can take both dogs on a walk.


Monday, November 3, 2014

24 Hours

It was this little squeaky sound that I was hearing from the kitchen last night that I couldn't place.  Suddenly, I knew what it was, Rhett's little squeaker toy.  This is my first real clue that he is probably in the right place for him.

Rhett set up camp in the kitchen floor so I moved a dog bed in there for him and covered it with the blanket his Foster Family had sent.  I can guess the approximate size of the pen in which he was kept as when he is nervous he circles the same distance and the same direction.  During this morning's walk I learned he only circles when we stop walking.  Solution (to keep from becoming wrapped up by the leash like a mummy), keep on walking.

Rhett comes from a hoarding situation in Texas where 150 dogs were seized.  They were underfed, overcrowded, never socialized with people and many had health issues.  He is learning to live with people inside a house and this is a huge adjustment for him.

When I let him into the back yard I attach a long lead to him.  I haven't taught him to come when called yet (it's only been a day) and I do realize he may never be able to bring himself to "come" to people.  The back up plan is to get him to stop, or stay, or sit, something which negates me chasing him all around the back yard just to bring him inside.

When I arrived home today, (I had kept Rhett inside and Chance outside), the inside of house was fine (lucky for me). I attached a long lead and out we went.  This afternoon I swear he almost smiled.  He trotted around the back yard, back and forth, back and forth coming closer and closer to me with each passing yet speeding up at the same time he was getting closer; it almost appeared as if it was a kind of game to him.  It's getting colder earlier now so I came in leaving the back door open and went into the back of the house.  Much to my shock, as I returned to the kitchen, Rhett was there having entered the house without me shooing him inside.

Baby steps.  Small, tiny, precious baby steps.  He just squeaked his toy again. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pre-Adoption Butterflies

It's a blustery day. November 1st and the weather has just turned.  Tonight Bruce, Chance and I will be staying in Tonopah, NV on our way to Beatty, NV where a volunteer  committed to dog rescue, Loretta, having driven two days in a row, will meet us with the newest member of the family.  Recently  I've been looking for another member since I lost Elle in January.  She was so young and her death was sudden.  Losing Elle was shattering.

I was inspired by one the graduate students  who had two rescue Shelties.  She encouraged me to contact the local Collie Rescue Representative.  DeAnne was informative and knowledgeable.  She encouraged me to send my application into Southwest Collie Rescue which covers Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas.  There had been a recent hoarding situation in Tomball, Texas and this organization was to care for and place 11 collies.

It seems odd to have to go so far to find a collie and remain dedicated to rescue.  Collies are as rare as hen's teeth in this part of the US and for the life of me I have no idea why.  They are the most amazing dogs yet seem to be in greater numbers on the East Coast and the South.  The California Collie Rescue organizations refuse to adopt to Nevada (not a clue on this one) citing there must be a home check.  DeAnne performed the home check for Southwest Collie Rescue without issue.

Rhett's picture on the Southwest Collie Rescue Website.
In summary, I have been granted the privilege of having Rhett come to live with me.  Cindy, Rhett's foster Mom, is an amazing woman.  She lives in Arizona and has been introducing Rhett to the world of people.  She has five dogs in her home currently, Rhett made number six which is a lot of dog.   Rhett is dog socialized but not people socialized.  He just hasn't had much contact with people so he is shy.  He had never been in a house, was undernourished and had worms.  My understanding is that most of the Tomball Collies were not in great shape.  Cindy has Rhett learning to trust people.  He may have a ways to go, yet she laid the foundation of trust.

Tomorrow Loretta, having driven from Las Vegas, not quite to Phoenix, then back and housing Rhett at her home overnight, will drive from Las Vegas to Beatty to deliver Rhett.  Many people have given a great deal to make this happen for which I am grateful. 

Monday, September 10, 2012


I have been so busy lately.  I started a new job and am always behind.  I figure I won't get caught up until the semester ends.  I haven't been this flustered since I was hired the day before school started at my first teaching job.

Elle and Chance only get walks every other day right now.  I work too many hours and walk a whole lot during the day.  I will say Elle is a quick learner.  My cherry tomato finally started producing ripe fruit and I picked a few and popped them in my mouth.  Warm from the sun, sweet as can be.  Elle watched me do it.

"You want to try a tomato?" I asked her.  I bit one in half and gave it to her.  She loved it.  She observed and studied me picking and eating.  Then she tried it all by herself.  She picked her own little tomato.  I couldn't stop laughing.  Silly dog.  Except now, a few days later, it isn't quite as funny.  There are never any ripe tomatoes.  Elle picks them before I can get to them.  Grrrrrrr.  Damned smart dog.  Soon I'll have to start spelling in front of her.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I haven't blogged in a while.  Maybe that's the beauty of blogging, you do it only when you want.  There have been so many changes this summer.  I applied for a new position at the university and got it, something that historically I only do every 12 years.  I miss seeing some of the people I worked with every single day.  Yet I am on stable money now, not at the mercy of grant funding.  The new job, well it's perfect for me.  It's going to be a rough semester, but the first time through always is.  I now coordinate the undergraduate biology labs at the university.  I'm going to love it.  The position comes with a real office with a real window and  my own phone number in a beautiful new building.   

To complicate matters, one week into the job I pulled jury duty.  Luckily I drew the new short trial format. After a 10 hour day, my duty and the trial were both done.  Whew.  

The poor dogs though.  The funky hours trying to learn the new job before the incumbent retires in two weeks has taken its toll.  Some 6am days, the super hot weather and smoke from forest fires has messed with our morning walks.  I think the dogs feel neglected and I'm all out of whack. I get my best thinking done on those walks.

The dry spring has had an unusual effect on my plum tree.  Without the dampness that fosters aphids or the late blossom killing frost, the plum tree, for the first time in its life, is having plums.  They are beautiful and bountiful.  It seems the dogs have found a new past time: eating all of the fallen plums.  It took me an entire week to figure out the massive diarrhea belonging to otherwise happy dogs.  The pits laying all over the back yard gave them away.  The little piglets ate and ate without restraint.  I spent two nights this week picking all of the plums off of the tree.  Diarrhea, gone.  

My little fur family and I are laying low until the heat breaks.  There isn't a one of us that isn't looking forward to that first chill in the air signalling fall.  Elle and Chance often sleep outside together on the cool grass guarding the veggie garden from rabbits  and listening for the sound plums make as they hit the ground.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July

The 4th of July this year was a day to relax.  The night before I had gone over to a neighbor's house for dinner.  It was just a couple of us girls and Elle, Chance and Chopper the boxer.  Chopper is two years old and extremely friendly and playful.  The three dogs played with each other until exhausted.  Elle is unused to seeing anyone sit down to eat at a table, which is the perfect height for her to rest her head,  as I typically eat standing up at over the kitchen seat.  The smell of pizza right at snout level was intoxicating to the poor girl.  We were all eating outside on the patio, yet the pizza was inside the house on the dining room table.  Finally we closed the slider to keep the temptation at a minimum. 

Much to our amusement, Elle, the giant wolfhound dog, crazed by the smell of pizza, wrangled herself through a medium sized doggy door; she was heading straight for the pizza on the inside table.  We were doubled over with laughter.  Her mouth full of pizza, I went after her causing her to panic, her pizza hit the ground.  Right on cue, Chopper targeted the pizza, swooping in and bounding back through the dog door.  Chance was on him, yet Chopper managed to get down almost half of the piece of pizza before it again dropped and Chance finished the deed.

The dogs ended up playing for a couple of hours.  I have no idea how Chopper fared on the 4th of July.  My two animals slept all day.  I bet those silly dogs had sore muscles from too much play.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Puddle of Toys

Elle has been extra chipper the last two days.  She has been silly, smiling and playful compared to the weekend.  Elle and Chance had a busy Sunday.  We took our 3 mile walk and went down the street and played a few hours with the neighbor's boxer.  Josh came over to cut the grass and brought his pup Ripley.  Usually Chance and Elle run Ripley's legs off.  Not this Sunday though.  Elle wasn't up to par and both dogs were annoyed by the pup.  I think they were just over tired; no dog napping happens when we have a busy day.

Come to think of it Elle was particularly impatient with the pup.  I think her stomach may have been upset.  Early that day during the walk I had found an injured bird that likely had been hit by a car.  Poor thing was hardly moving and I was going to have to come back and put it out of its misery after I got the dogs home.  Then it moved a whole wing.  Elle saw the movement.  In one giant leap she pounced on that bird and kept walking like nothing was in her mouth.  "Drop!" I  cried several times, then "Leave it!" I called, still she held her mouth shut tight and pretended nothing was inside that didn't belong there.  I tried parting her jaws with my hands and she clamped them tighter.  "Elle!"  She ignored me, turned her head out of my vision range and began chewing.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.  All I could tell myself was that she was now on the "raw" diet and that she would be alright.  Then, as I saw long feathers sticking out from her mouth, much to my surprise, she spewed it out.

"Thank you, Elle."  I told her, first for spitting and second for doing the job of killing the injured bird for me.    I do think the bird juice upset her stomach a bit though and I'm glad she is feeling better.

Today I brought home two very large dog beds.  I intended to sew each dog one and decided that since I hadn't done it yet that I should just purchase some and reclaim the two comforters the dogs have been using as bed substitutes.   Both dogs were down right elated.  They danced around on  their beds, Elle being more playful with me than she has ever been before.  My glasses are now fogged with dog slobber and as I type this  Elle is happily chewing away on an elk antler having surrounded herself in a puddle of dog toys, herself lying on a dog bed looking like a princess.