making new friends

Runs with scissors. This would be me. So far, except for one small mishap in high school which only required a butterfly bandaid I have been very lucky.

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Don’t Play Well With Others

This would apply to rescue dogs Lily and Lulu.

I adopted Lulu somewhat late in her life, 3 years ago. She is maybe 8 or 9 now. I adopted Lily when she was about a year so she is now around 11 or 12. Lily’s sole purpose in life (after eating) is to be my Nanny. She follows me everywhere, keeps me in her line of sight at all times. If we encounter other people on a walk she places herself between them and me. When she lost her rescue buddy Murphy 5 years ago she was heartbroken. This was a surprise since they tolerated each other but did not appear to much care if the other came or went. When Murphy died I realized that despite outward appearances animals form strong bonds. Lily looked for him, even after I moved 200 miles east. So enter Lulu.

I fostered her for about a week to see how things would shake out. Lulu confiscated all the toys and appropriated all the beds within a day or so. Only once did I find her shaking, cornered by Lily for some unknown altercation. Lily and I discussed her new friend and that put an end to her hostility toward Lulu. They are sisters now.

On walks and hikes whenever they encounter any other dog, happy, peppy puppies, sullen surly dogs, or any other attitude they are tolerant, receptive but non-interactive. So I figured they had decided they were enough. Until a few days ago.

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This happy but laid-back little fellow ambled over one afternoon. We had just finished our walkie and were about to head home. Taking an immediate interest, he was undaunted by Lily and Lulu’s complete nosiness. He welcomed it! There was no growling, no defensive posture. Just happy sniffing and wagging of tails.

So sometimes there are exceptions to even the truest of generalizations.

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It’s important to keep an open mind.

 

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Salty fall morning

I’m blaming the “active hurricane season” for the hot weather we had, up until last Tuesday when the morning greeted us in the upper 40s. The crispness of fall makes for nostalgia thoughts and the promise of smoky cold nights, clear sparkling  starry night skies. Fall and winter are sleepy months, softly darker, shorter days, a time to recollect and stop. To rest.

It is also when doggies can go back to the beach. I think rescue dogs Lily and Lulu tolerate the sand and salt for me. And I don’t go on the beach when they are not allowed. Because this is a touristy area dogs are forbidden from April 1 to September 30.  So we relish the 6 months we can play in the sand. Or I do.

Picture1022171442_1.jpgLily enjoying the cool sand

There are fewer people on the beaches now as the days get shorter and the water is cooler. Though we did see another sunrise wedding last week. Two weddings actually. And birthday parties.

The surf is still roiling, frothy, staunchly angry from those tropical disturbances I guess. Enough so Lulu is not at all happy about getting her paws wet so she stays up on dry sand. That’s where any passerby might stop to speak, or offer a gentle pet while she demurely wags her tail grateful for the kindness.

Picture1022171441_1.jpgLulu leading the way

And we pick up the odd shell, smoothed and shined up by the churning sea.Picture1022171439_1.jpg

 

squirrels

My dogs truly completely hate these creatures.

I am beginning to feel the same, the way these fluffy-tailed rats dig up my seed beds, planters and flowers to bury… what? There are no acorns yet. Maybe they are burying the sunflower seed I put out for the songbirds. They hang upside-down munching away while the birds wait their turns in top tree branches.

Then the hounds are loosed.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu streak out the back door, flat out the entire 25 yards to the feeders while the squirrels nonchalantly swing down from their posts of fatness to idly climb the nearby trees. They know Lily and Lulu can’t follow them up there. No sooner are the dogs back inside than the squirrels are back at the feeders so we loop this circuit over and over until the squirrels finally give up. The birds resume their feasting until the squirrels come back again, which they always do.

Where I moved from there was a neighbor I was told a couple of blocks away who used squirrels for target practice with a BB gun. He was a lousy shot. I replaced 3 windows in the 5 years I lived there. Four, if you count the side window that was lost to a neighbor’s fireworks misfire.

The late Bob Ross, the television landscape oil painter/teacher had a rescued baby squirrel he sometimes carried in his shirt pocket on tv as he painted. He named this squirrel Peapod. Well once you name something you have claimed it for your own, which he did. Evidently this relationship was congenial. I was not a regular viewer of the program but the times I did see it when Mr. Ross spoke of this squirrel or had him on he never mentioned that it bit him, scratched him or did any other squirrelly things.

Not likely but I do hope my dogs do not ever catch one. Pretty sure husky-mix Lily would make quick work of it. Terrier-mix Lulu is more likely to want to play with it, I think, but I hope she never catches one all the same.

The other day as we wound up our nature park walk we came across an adolescent (?) squirrel lying on the path ahead of us. At first I thought perhaps he fell out of his nest as they sometimes do and was stunned. As we got closer I saw he had no head. Likely some owl or hawk got him and was too eager to begin its feast before dining properly atop a tree branch or electrical pole and dropped the remainder of him. Just as glad I saw it and retrieved it before the dogs did.

Drama of nature.

Weather

It’s always fascinated me, weather. I love watching a storm, darkening clouds, oddly colored sky, brilliant flashes and rumbles far away. For a while I used to think I could predict weather from clouds. If I saw mare’s tails (cirrus clouds) I knew it would rain within 2-3 days and it usually did. “Ring around the moon, rain before noon” sometimes worked, not always. Killing a spider is believed to bring rain, and most everyone knows the biblical “red sky at night, sailor’s delight… red sky at morning, sailor take warning” (Matthew 16:2-4).

But hurricanes? Growing up in the south I’ve encountered them but usually on the tail end at a beach vacation. Plenty of rain, gusty wind and stinging sand. Then Hurricane Hugo in September 1989,  a category 5 when it hit Charleston, SC then a 2 or 3 when it hit where my son and I lived, Charlotte, NC. Knocked a pine tree on the roof of my car. My son came and woke me (yes, I slept through it up till then) telling me he was blind. I could not understand this until I heard the screaming wind outside and things cracking (said pine tree). The only light you could see was the occasional flash of lightning silhouetting trees and buildings. I walked outside (yes, half asleep without thinking) to listen to the car radio since clearly there was going to be no television (no idea at that time it would not be for two and a half weeks) to try and get some weather. Just music, but I did notice how I had suddenly become much taller until I realized it was actually my car roof, stove in by the pine tree. I went back to the house, my son was crying his eyes out at the door. Evidently it frightened him that I would walk out into such a maelstrom. At least by now he realized he’d not lost his eyesight.

Then I moved to north Florida in 2003. All summer long people talked about how the hurricanes, if they happened, weren’t bad until August or September. We had none of any consequence that year but 2004? I can recall a few, one that kept dropping tornadoes a few blocks from the library where I worked, and another that sat over the entire state of Florida for what seemed like weeks, soaking us with feet of water.

The next year, 2005 I moved to Miami. There were more storms, we seemed to be constantly throwing those hurricane shutters up and taking them down, and of course Katrina and Rita. The worst for me was not so much the coming storm but, though we were under mandatory evacuation being east of I-95 and US 1 I would not leave because I knew what those evacuations are like, I’d rather just stay in my home than be stuck on the highway at the worst of the storm, and shelters did not permit pets at all at that time. No way was I going to leave and not keep my doggies safe. We lost electricity from Rita for about 6 days. Not bad, but in south Florida the humidity is relentless and you really do miss air conditioning when you don’t have any.

So I moved again to a coastal town in North Carolina. This time not for work but retirement. Last year we had a couple of tropical storms, no hurricanes that bothered us. So far this year looked to be about the same.

Until now.

So hurricane Matthew briefly a category 5 (the worst measured storm), now a 4, meandering west over the Caribbean, is a very ambitious storm about to make a sharp right north to mow down Hispaniola, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas all by Tuesday. The track according to the national hurricane center so far shows it on a bee-line course for the little part of coastal NC where I live.

This does not necessarily have to be where it goes. A little high-pressure system could spin it right back out over the Atlantic, where its cousins Karl and Lisa just flew off to. But right now we are sitting under much more rain and humidity, a low pressure that has socked itself in for several days. As if TS Julia and her rains for 3 weeks weren’t enough for us. Still, anything can happen with weather. As they say, don’t like the weather here? Wait a minute.

Let’s hope.

Separation anxiety

webmd.com defines this on a broad spectrum for dogs: anything from pacing to panting anxiously, barking, howling or chewing, to  escaping (or gnawing on their own feet– my experience with a border collie).

For me it begins as soon as I take my babies to be boarded. Oh, I’m sure they are just fine. They have an air conditioned run, scheduled playtime with other new friends, regular feeding times, their bed and blanket.

I am the one with separation anxiety. For me this runs from crying, to guilt, worry, anger that I took them before I actually needed to take them as though I could not wait to be rid of them, and then there is the not with them emptiness. Something dire is missing. The life around my ankles has suddenly gone still.

So I begin counting minutes until I will see them again. This might be allayed somewhat once I get to whatever place of doom that won’t allow me to bring them, or not. It’s not incumbent upon anyone with whom I will be while away to alleviate this stress for me, either, but the fact remains I will have some degree of stress until I am reunited with these babies.

I don’t go away often. This was not a trip I actually intended to make. It’s a trip I have taken with my brother and his family, occasionally my son joined the party, for about 7 or 8 years. Last year after my little Murphy died I worried so much about rescue dog Lily I found a cottage up the beach from where they stayed that would allow me to bring her. In fact, they allow 2 dogs so I could have even stayed there and brought Lily and her new little rescue sister Lulu. But time got away from me this year and I did not have a space anywhere so decided it was just as well and I would not go at all. That is until my sister-in-law checked this place’s reservations availability and found part of their week open. So I was confirmed into that reservation.

But I did not have to take Lily and Lulu to their boarding facility until 4. So why did I take them at noon?? Where I am staying has set meal times. The evening meal is at 6. It takes roughly 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours to drive to the place and the doggie inn is open Saturdays from 8-noon, then 4-6. I had made my reservation to arrive for the supper meal but I didn’t have to! I could have changed it, it’s not like I can’t miss a meal.

Because of all this stress, whether I know it now or not I will be glad to see my brother and his family. I only see them otherwise once a year so it’s important to me. For that I am grateful to my sister-in-law for spotting a space. My son is detained by work so I will not get to see him.

But those dogs! And when we were almost to where they are staying Lulu nearly jumped out the window! I yelled and scared her to pieces. When we got there I hugged her and told her I was sorry, what a good girl she is and petted her. She seemed to feel better but I didn’t. Some decisions I make I will never understand. So I am sitting here, by myself right now writing this blog feeling completely empty inside. Seriously! They are that big a part of me. I will miss those little bundles until I return home. I hope they will forgive me!

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Allergies and colds

Every spring and fall, and usually through winter some as well something sprinkles into the air to inflame and inflate my sinuses. Pine pollen, flower dust, dust mites, leaf mold, ragweed… there are any number of culprits. Yet my last visit to an allergist turned up no allergies to anything. No foods, dust, molds, pollens, fungi, or pet danders. So what are these allergies from??

The clearing of the vaguely sore throat, occasional coughs, stuffy nose, Hall’s soothing vitamin c drops (sugarfree) all become part of my normal daily routine. Sometimes even head aches or fever, but those are rare. And if I lose my voice altogether Lily my faithful puppy appendage looks at me turning her head this way or that, trying to figure out whose voice that is coming out of my head.

Even though it sounds like (and sometimes feels like, even with the chills and achiness but no fever) a cold it isn’t, I keep being told. Nothing contagious they say. Confounding and uncomfortable, yes. Infectious or dangerous, no.

No matter where else I live, whatever grows there does not pose this problem. Coming back to where I was born is guaranteed to produce this symphony of squeamish sounds. Life is full of little trade-offs and I guess this is one of mine. Weighing the pluses and minuses always proves out favoring my staying here despite the stockpile of Puffs tissues, honey and herbal concoctions and benadryl. But to me it is worth it. Which I guess is all that matters.

Malachi 4:2; 1 Corinthians 12:9

Trade-off or bad timing

My little rescue dog, Murphy, has been in kidney failure for over a year. His exceptional veterinarians have been closely monitoring him and adjusting his medications to keep him functioning.

Last week, when a large snow storm was predicted I had planned a trip to Texas. I could have gone anytime. It wasn’t the greatest weather out there, either. Cold, rainy, even some ice. I did have opportunities to see my family but they’re always there. I can see them anytime.

I board my dogs at their vet. I know if anything happens there won’t be any mistakes or accidents. Murphy was happily riding in the car, head flung with abandon out the driver’s side window, barking at the occasional motorcycle or bicyclist.

The snow nearly shut down my home airport and my return flight was cancelled, I had to rebook for the next day.

Maybe it was that one day that made a difference. Maybe it was the whole week that did. I even could have taken Murphy with me on this trip. He has flown with me before and travels well. But I know that if he had morphed into the dog I found when I returned I would have been at a complete and utter loss, out in Texas with his doctors back home in North Carolina.

So I picked up my rag-doll puppy, gently carried him to the car, Lily, bounding with all her 70-odd pounds of muscle and excitement alongside. No, this was not the same dog I had brought to the vet a week before. His doctor had told me that in kidney failure, when the kidneys no longer function at all things happen very fast.

I had no idea.

The next morning I phoned and they said to bring him for them to look at him. He was badly dehydrated and I had not had much luck getting him to eat and he’d had nothing to drink. So he was hooked up to an i.v., and blood was drawn to determine what was happening with his kidneys which was not good news. Today I was allowed to visit him and bring him home for a couple of hours. I was given a syringe to flush his catheter. He rested next to me on his favorite sofa, the one he would patiently sleep on each day when I worked as a librarian, standing on the arm to greet me when I came home. I drank some coffee, worked a crossword and checked emails on my iPad, pretending things were as they had always been. And he slept.

I had been instructed to return him at a certain time and I milked the time for as long as possible before bundling him in his blanket and bringing his favorite pillow to return him to the hospital. As I placed him back in his treatment area his eyes appeared brighter, alert, and I forbade myself to allow hope to creep in.

So many tears.