Friday, December 12, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
After a full physical exam, heartworm blood test, fecal test, one vaccine booster and about 30 minutes of the good doctor's time, we learned that Finn has a slight skin infection on his upper lip. The therapy dog form has a list of systems i.e. body parts that are to be checked by the vet. Unfortunately, this small bump and little bit of hair loss on his upper lip required our vet to check "abnormal" next to the skin/coat section. We left with a week's worth of antibiotics and now wait anxiously to see if this abnormality warrants a rejection letter from the therapy dog program. We can't go on any visits until we receive our acceptance letter and identification badge. Who knew this would be such a process?
In the meantime, Finn and I have been enjoying the 8-10 inches of snow we got yesterday. Finn really gets quite invigorated by the snow and has a blast doing hot laps around the yard. Today it's super cold and windy but I hope to post some pictures soon of our winter wonderland.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sometimes I luck out, but sometimes I'm left to sit outside the gate wishing and hoping that some fellow traveler is delayed, ill, or has decided not to take that flight. On this occasion I was left to sit and wait until the very last minute when the gate agent shut the door to the jetway and confirmed I was not going anywhere early.
As usually happens when I am the only person sitting near an empty airport gate area, the man across the aisle from me struck up a conversation. He was also going standby but was confident that I would be allowed on board the flight before him because he was a "non-revenue" ticket. I learned that this meant his brother was a pilot and so he was floating around the airport waiting to scoop up any available seat to Milwaukee. Once the jetway door closed it was clear that neither of us was going anywhere, revenue or non-revenue.
About two hours later I met up with this gentleman again outside the gate for the flight that I was booked on and that he was hoping to get on. As we were sitting there waiting to board, he was called up to the podium and presented with a first-class seat. He was positively giddy when he returned to tell me he had been bumped to first class.
Now, I realize that a first-class seat on a 44-minute flight is no prize. However, as someone who has racked up thousands of frequent flier miles flying for business, I was seriously disturbed that one of us revenue-generating frequent fliers who regularly slogs through airports tolerating bad service, delays, weather and cancellations was not bumped ahead of someone whose brother works for the airline. Are you listening airline executives?
Friday, November 14, 2008
So yesterday I decided to work from home and not spread my cold around the office. Around noon I was startled by Finn barking like a alien spaceship had landed in the backyard. This is what he saw.
It was bizarre because this little buck was running from the front to the back of my yard and all around the neighboring yards as well. It was the middle of the day and he didn't seem to have any destination in mind. Just getting some exercise I guess or, more likely, looking for some friendly doe that might have been hiding in my garden.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Recently we stopped by our local Irish pub where we know the owner and were immediately attacked for having an Obama yard sign. The usual arguments about taxes and the economy were mixed in with other more disconcerting commentary about being a "Hussein" and a Muslim. Now, I'm not naive enough to believe that this election is enough to end racism in this country. I'm well aware of how persistent it is, even among members of my family and people I consider friends. However, I AM naive enough to hope that everyone, regardless of their political persuasions, is proud that we've taken this big, historic step forward as a country.
Most importantly, I can't wait to see what kind of puppy those two little girls get to take to their new home.
I don't intend for this blog to be a political one so I promise to get back to more noncontroversial matters in my next post. Happy Friday everyone!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I'm sure there are other examples but the most discouraging, especially this time of year, is the very small selection of big dog Halloween costumes! Last year, in order to participate in our local doggy day care's Halloween party, I went out in search of a costume for Finn, our 70-lb Labrador. I didn't have much luck as almost all of the costumes were only provided in small and medium sizes. I ultimately settled on a tuxedo and top hat outfit that came in size large. It appeared that all of the super cute costumes - the hot dog, the pumpkin, the dragon, etc. - were reserved for the small dogs.
I quickly discovered that even though the packaging on the tuxedo costume indicated it would fit a 50+ pound dog, I could barely get it zipped. Finn looked like a stuffed sausage as the costume fabric pinched and stretched across his chest and back. Worried that the circulation was being cut off to his legs and chest, the nice staff at doggy day care took some photos and quickly took the costume off.
So this year, I gave up on the costume idea and went with a simple neck scruff that was more comfortable and just as festive. As you can see by the picture, Finn was less than pleased to be wearing it but was a good sport overall! Happy Halloween!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This will be a short post due to the fact that I'm pretty fried from an all-day training. However, I had to vent about something that I read on another blog regarding a starving and very sick puppy that was abandoned at a mall near where I work. I will let the blog post speak for itself. It was written by the staff at one of our local animal shelters. I hope they don't mind me cross-posting like this. http://blogs.brookfieldnow.com/ebhs_unleashed/archive/2008/10/21/an-open-letter-to-the-person-who-abandoned-the-sick-vizsla-puppy-at-brookfield-square-last-night.aspx
I'm not a vindictive person generally but I do hope that there is some justice in the universe that gives people who do these things what they deserve. On the other hand, I'm so grateful for all the animal shelter staff and volunteers out there who are committed to taking care of pets that other people just discard like trash. I wish I had the constitution to do that work but I fear I would spend every night driving home in tears. Along with all the adoptions and happy endings, they must see too much of this kind of horror. Please give generously to your local animal shelter whenever you can!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We got an email message from our neighbor about a coworker of hers who is trying to re-home a male black lab because his family is moving. Unfortunately, by the time I reached this person they had already found a home for the dog. I expect that there will be many more of these situations and many more dogs turning up in shelters in the coming months because of foreclosures and general economic strife.
The hubby and I go back and forth about getting a second dog. I think that Finn would really benefit from having a companion around the house and it's so much fun to watch him romp around with his doggy friends. The hubby worries that having two dogs will be a pain and twice as much work, despite the fact that we had two dogs during the most time-consuming and challenging time of Finn's life a.k.a housebreaking a puppy. I visit the local animal shelters pretty regularly looking for the right match but so far he or she hasn't appeared. Even though it has been a year and a half since we said goodbye to our 10-year old lab, Kayla, I still think about her often and mourn that loss. I think I expect that she will reappear at the humane society but even though I keep looking for her she's not there.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
The rest of the visit went very well and it made me much more comfortable to see some of the same faces that we saw last week. Some of the residents are such clear dog lovers and it warms my heart to see how much joy they get out of our visits. The instructor thought Finn seemed very relaxed and she was very complimentary of how well he did. I think my comfort level and handling skills are improving as well.
So, next week is our final exam where we will repeat many of the same test items in the Canine Good Citizen test as well as be tested on a number of temperament items. Thinking about it makes my stomach turn but I'm trying to stay optimistic. If you are interested in learning more about the work that therapy dogs do and the examination components check out the Delta Society at http://www.deltasociety.org
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I've come to realize that perhaps these visits are going to be harder for me than for him. Those of you who know me won't be surprised to hear that I'm not the most outgoing person around. Don't get me wrong, as an adult I've definitely gotten better about speaking in public and talking to strangers, but it was a challenge for me to walk through a nursing home, pop my head into rooms and ask complete strangers if they want to pet my dog. Add in the fact that many of these folks can't hear, can't understand what I'm saying and/or just don't know what's going on and I was pretty far outside my comfort zone. At one point the instructor said to me, "I think this is good training for you, too". That's an understatement!
I got more comfortable towards the end of the visit as I started to know what to expect and began to see how much joy the dogs brought to some of the residents. But I am truly envious of some of my fellow trainees who seemed to know exactly what to say and appeared to be so comfortable in talking to the residents. I'm definitely not a natural but hopefully I'll improve with time and practice!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I'm a little conflicted about this whole process. Partly because I'm not sure how much I would enjoy visiting a nursing home or hospital on a regular basis. I think it would make me feel sad. But partly because I'm not sure Finn is the right dog for this type of activity. He can be nervous around certain people. He occasionally growls at strangers. And he seems to be frightened pretty easily. I'm worried that we're trying to force Finn into being a dog that he's not. And I regret not going through this process with our last lab, Kayla, who would have been a natural therapy dog. She loved everyone and I trusted her to be friendly and tolerant in every situation and with every type of person.
The test itself sounds like a pretty serious undertaking. We will be tested at a neutral location that we've never been to before and the handler is not allowed to wear jeans! The handler will be evaluated as well as the dog and I must role play as though I am in an actual therapy setting. We will be tested the moment we walk in the door of the test facility and no pulling on the leash is allowed. Yikes!
Monday, September 15, 2008
It was gray and cloudy during much of our drive across the upper peninsula of Michigan and down the eastern shore of the lake to the park on Friday. Unfortunately, the weather only got worse from there. Saturday we were able to do some hiking in the morning but a light drizzle turned to a pretty heavy downpour for much of the afternoon. We tried to do the scenic drive up to the dunes but it was foggy, overcast and we couldn't see much from the overlooks.
Despite the weather, my hubby and I always return from these trips more determined than ever to figure out a way to retire early, buy a roomy RV, and travel around the country. When we're on the road we meet many couples in campgrounds who are full-time road warriors and I always find them fascinating. It's addictive to look out your camper window and see a mountain, a lake, a forest or a moose in your backyard. My husband and I love the idea of waking up every morning and saying, "Where should we go today?"
My sister bought us a doormat for our camper with a picture of a trailer on it and the words, "Just another day in paradise." That's how I feel every time we hit the road, no matter where we end up and no matter the weather.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Polo consists of six chukkers, or periods. At half time all the spectators go out onto the field for the "stomping of the divets." Yes, just like in the movie "Pretty Woman" except I didn't see any movie stars. You are also allowed to walk over and talk with the players and pet the horses at half time.
Polo is a pretty exciting sport to watch. There is a lot of action and it's very fast-paced as the players move back and forth across the field. Of course, the horses are beautiful and so much fun to watch. It was a blast!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
We hear owls pretty regularly in the fall and winter but not so much in the summer. I don't know how large their territory is but they don't seem to be around as much in the warmer months of the year. I think the owls we hear at our house are mostly great horned owls. http://www.owlpages.com/owls.php?genus=Bubo&species=virginianus
I'm pretty sure we have also heard screech owls in the past - their call can be sort of spooky.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I am working on improving Finn's off-leash recall so I'm trying to remember to carry a bag of treats wherever we go. Today I remembered the treats and a tennis ball which proved valuable. Finn is pretty good at coming back when I whistle or call him but there are just certain things that are much more desirable than obedience. One of those things is wild animal poop! We came down a little slope and Finn got distracted by something off the trail. I could see he was eating something so I stopped, whistled, called him, and even rattled the treat bag. No response. I remembered the tennis ball in my pocket so I took it out and threw it at him. That got his attention! Now I just need to identify a treat that is more desirable than wild turds. Yuck!