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I'm a children's author. Animals are a constant source of writing material for me. They are also my heart!

Up and Down Kind of Week

>> Friday, May 29, 2009

My scrappy little Kelly is not doing so well. On Wednesday, he was lethargic, barely moving. My sad boy laid across my lap most of the day. The girls, Maddie and Annabelle, seemed to know something was wrong. They didn't even attempt to join us. In fact, they both were on the floor at my feet. It was a gloomy day.

I finally called the vet in the afternoon and said, "Kelly's not bouncing anymore. He's not eating either." The not bouncing part broke my heart. Kelly's a bouncing dog. He's never been a walker...not even a runner. Kelly's a bouncer.

The vet suggested I stop all Kelly's meds for 24 hours and see what came next. She also told me to enjoy him for the night and feed him anything he wanted...anything at all.

I tried cooked chicken. I tried cheese. I tried beef gravy on his dog food. Kelly wanted none of those things. Finally, late at night, I was munching on a Saltine cracker. That appealed to Kelly. He rallied on Saltines and no medications.

Yesterday was a better day. Kelly had some pep to his step and managed to mark spots in the backyard. Today wasn't so bad either. I took Kelly to the vet for some reassurance and advice and came home feeling better (even though Kelly's condition hasn't changed).

I know that Kelly's life is drawing to a close and I know that I'll never be ready for that. I also know that Kelly's gums are pink, (indicating he's getting enough oxygen) and his heart beat is strong and not muffled by the tumors we expect are somewhere near.

Thankfully, the growth on his neck hasn't changed much. The vet helped me by offering some solid advice other than "You'll know when it's time..." She said, "When Kelly is truly lethargic and hasn't eaten for 48 hours, it might be time. It will also be time when his tumor has grown enough to interfere with his breathing." Intellectually I already knew that. It was good to hear though. Somehow, part of the weight was lifted from my shoulders.

The vet spoke with tears in her eyes as she told me she'd lost her two fifteen-year-old dogs this past year. Somehow, having a vet that is caring and kind matters as much as her medical knowledge. She's a good vet. The kind I want to be with Kelly and me when it's time.


Drum Roll Please!

>> Friday, May 22, 2009

I did it. I pulled the wool over Maddie's eyes and I only felt a little bit guilty. Poor Maddie.
You remember my dilemma from yesterday? I needed to take Kelly and Annabelle to the vet but I didn't want poor Maddie to be stressed out and alone at home.

Up until this morning, I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. I even had Maddie's leash and collar by the back door ready to go. And then it happened. Cheerios fell from the top shelf of the pantry and hit the kitchen floor like tiny hail in a spring rainstorm.

Why hadn't I thought of it before? All Maddie needed to be happy and calm was a little food distraction. I used the hailed Cheerios to my advantage. I cleaned up most of them...not all. Call me crazy, but I left some of the Cheerios on the floor (behind the closed pantry door).

When it got close to time to load Kelly and Annabelle into the car to go , I opened the pantry and called Maddie over. She was in Cheerio heaven.

I was quicker than greased lightening. Off to the vet we went...Kelly, Annabelle, and me.

Annabelle got her booster shot. Kelly had more blood work done to check on his liver enzymes. He had his nodules measured. Kelly has lost a pound during the last four weeks, but I'm going to get it back on him. As of now, he's hanging tough. Like I've told you before, Kelly is a scrappy little guy. It's going to take a lot to knock my boy out of this world.

Okay. Before I start to cry just thinking about Kelly's future, let me share a thought that just occurred to me.

I outsmarted Maddie today. I'm not so sure that's worthy of a drum roll. What was I thinking???

Maddie's a sweet girl and she did just fine. I'm still an obsessive compulsive animal lover. Some things never change.


Two out of three to the vet....

>> Thursday, May 21, 2009

No doubt about it. I'm obsessive compulsive...especially when it comes to my animals. Okay. Here's the deal: Tomorrow I have to take Kelly and Annabelle to the vet. Kelly is going to have his lymph nodes rechecked (yes, I'm pretty sure it's cancer) and Annabelle has to have a booster shot.

The vet's visit is not the issue. What I'm obsessing about is whether or not to take Maddie. "Why?" you ask.

Because if I don't take her with us I rationalize to myself, she be freaking out at home all by her little not-so-bright self.

Having said that, you probably think it's a no brainer. "Take Maddie," you say.

Well, that's easier said than done. The pack mentality takes over when we are in the vet's waiting room IF (and that's a big IF) there's a dog in the immediate vicinity that Kelly decides needs to go home. Once Kelly starts barking, the others join and it's downright embarrassing.

The good thing is that two dogs does not seem to constitute a pack. That bad thing is that three dogs do.

I am not the pack leader at the vet's office. I'm the flustered owner who is tangled up in a web of dog leashes. It's even more difficult now since Kelly is deaf. He used to listen to me. Now he really can't hear...he doesn't even have to pretend to ignore me.

Taking one dog to the vet is easy. Taking two dogs isn't so bad. Going with all three looks like the zookeeper went crazy and all the animals are on the loose.

My rule of thumb in most of life's difficult situations is to try to imagine the worst case scenario. Worst case scenario if I take all three dogs is that my blood pressure will be over the top and I'll be wrestling three little dogs in front of dignified human beings.

Worst case scenario if I leave Maddie home is that she'll be freaking out and unhappy for about an hour.

Since Maddie's not destructive in any way, shape, or form I guess she'll be staying home. Poor little Maddie.

I've made my decision. Now I need to quit obsessing!

No! Wait! I just thought of something else! I could call the vet and schedule individual appointments...that might just solve the problem. It would cost me more time but.....


Fun. That's What It's About for Tango and Me!

>> Monday, May 18, 2009

We're back and we had a grand time. I felt like a sponge each time I completed a class and looked at the comments. For those of you who aren't familiar with dressage, I was interested in the points not the ribbons. We did, however, place in every class. Tango received two third places, a fourth place, and a second place. The second place was in our last class and we were an eighth of a point away from first.

You'll never believe where I scored the the walk! I need to learn to walk my boy with more energy. At my age, I know all about low energy and I treat myself with caffeine. Now I have to figure out how to energize my boy's free walk and medium walk substance free. I've been given some ideas, but would welcome suggestions from you since espresso isn't an option for Tango!

The entire weekend went so well it was unbelievable. There were only three mishaps and they were minor. Tango pulled my friend's headband off her head twice while she was holding him near the mounting block. He's an oral horse and I guess her headband looked tasty.

Then, when I was in the practice arena, Tango's low energy walk turned into a full-of-energy trot and in an effort to avoid a collision with another horse we jumped the letter "C". My boy can jump!

At any rate, it was a good show. I learned a lot and Tango did great. He seems to love the excitement and attention. Here are the final written comments from the judges in the four classes where we competed:

1. Cute horse - Keep him marching forward with energy and pep. Obedient fellow.
2. Would really sparkle with more energy. Ask for bolder walk work.
3. Lovely horse! Ride forward! Many points lost to lack of energy.
4. Well done!

Well done indeed. Tango's a blue ribbon winner in my books. He gave me exactly what I asked for...I just need to sit back more, hone my skills, work hard, and depend on my good boy to strut his stuff! Will I ever get too old for this????

P.S. My dogs are glad the horse show is over. They think I've been spending way too much time with Tango!


I Pulled His Mane...Yes I Did!

>> Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I was tempted...oh how I was tempted. Tango's mane was really long. The scissors were in my tack box and I could see them out of the corner of my eye. "Who's going to really know if I cut off three inches of his mane then pull the rest?" I thought to myself.

Then I remembered what happened last year. Tango's tail had gotten so long that he was stepping on it so I decided it needed a quick snip...just for safety of course. Well, one snip led to another and then another and another. By the time I got things evened up, even poor Tango was embarrassed. His lopsided tail was an eyesore for several months.

So, I did what all knowledgeable horse owners do...I pulled Tango's mane (gently of course) for
over two hours. Tango was patient until we got down to the last fifteen minutes. Then I popped peppermints into his mouth every other pull or so. By the time I was done, I actually think Tango could have gone for more...PEPPERMINTS!

The moral of this story is this: NEVER LET YOUR HORSE'S MANE GROW LIKE CRAZY ALL WINTER LONG. Spend a little time grooming while the ground is blanketed in snow and you'll save a lot of precious time when the tulips poke through the ground in the spring. Your wrist won't hurt so much either!

I know some of you animal folks out there (who don't have horses) will want to know why and how manes are pulled. Since it's really late, I hope your answer can be found in the comments to this post. If not, I'll get back to you later!

By the way, Tango is looking more spiffy every day. He WILL BE SPIT SHINED by Friday. Layers of dirt have been temporarily displaced by early baths. Why? So Tango can go outside, roll in the mud, and revel in the joy of the soft wet earth every morning. That's what horses least my horse!


Tango and Me

>> Sunday, May 10, 2009

See Tango and me last year at show? He looks beautiful and clean. In fact, my boy looks so clean it almost makes me tired.

Why? Because Saturday is my first show of the year. Granted, it's just a schooling show, but it's a show nonetheless. Since I believe in horses being horses, Tango is turned out every single day. I love the barn where I board Tango because they share my philosophy. That's the good news.

The bad news is that Tango has a winter's worth of dirt on him. His white is so yellow he looks like faded sunshine. His black could be black but it could be brown or maybe it's gray. Your guess would be as good as mine. Tango is filthy. Filthy and happy.

At any rate, Tango's going to have to have at least three baths before I get to the real McCoy...the one that makes him presentable to show. That's my first priority this week...bath one. It makes me cold just to think about it because I'll get almost as wet as Tango.

Since I'm not as young as I used to be, I've decided my second priority will be the preparation. My goal is to have the trailer packed and ready to go by Wednesday. Then on Friday, all I'll have to do is spit shine and go. That's my plan.

On second thought, luck might work better and more efficiently than my plan! So, wish me luck.
I'll let you know how lucky I am as the week progresses.

Someone please remind me not to look down while I'm riding!!!


Big Bird Bad Net

>> Wednesday, May 6, 2009

As you've probably noticed, I'm writing about everything from my own dear animals to the wildlife that I've had experience with...usually for reasons not too great. So let me tell you about the owl we rescued. What a day that was.

It was about 4:00 in the afternoon. The blistering sun could have fried an egg on the pavement. I remember sweating bullets as I pulled my car into the garage, grateful for the shade.

I had barely opened my car door when Ryan (my youngest) came flying around from the backyard.

"You've got to come quick," he said. "There's a big owl caught in the soccer net out there!"

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the words...You've gotta come quick.

Ryan pointed to the field behind our house that backs up to a soccer field and woods. There was indeed a big owl caught in the soccer net.

Ryan always thinks I'm not afraid of anything but I am. I just manage not to show it very often. I jogged out to the field with Ryan and saw the pathetic (but scary to me) owl. He'd probably been caught in the net since the night before.

"We've gotta do something," Ryan said.

Ryan's a creature of the obvious. We did have to do something. But what? I wondered to myself . I looked at the owls huge talons. The owls enormous round eyes looked back at me and begged for help. That was about all the big bird could do at that point.

As we stood there debating about what to do, my husband arrived. He too is a creature of the obvious. "You can't just untangle him with your hands," he said.

"Are you going to help us or not?" I asked.

"I'll help if you do it right," my husband answered. Even though Chuck's not the animal person I am, he's always there to support my efforts. I appreciate that more than words can say.

After a few minutes more of debate we decided the soccer net had to go. Ryan ran and got a big pair of pruning shears. I got a huge box and a sheet.

I don't remember who cut the netting and who put the owl into the box (netting and all). It doesn't matter. What matters is that we took the owl (now covered with a sheet) to Ohio Wildlife for help.

That was a good move.

Turns out, the owl was dehydrated and totally worn out. Ohio Wildlife rehydrated our owl friend and got him out of his netting prison. After a day or two of rest and IV fluids, they released the owl right back where he came from...the woods behind our house.

It was a glorious thing to see. Somehow there's nothing more rewarding than a successful animal rescue and release.

As for Ryan, he grew up to work for the park system. His passion for wildlife is still evident. Early this spring Ryan came over with a recording of owl calls. We ventured to the edge of the woods with Ryan, his wife, some friends and a tape recorder. Ryan turned on the recorder. Within minutes, a great horned owl flew from the forest to a tree just overhead. Back and forth and back and forth the owl flew.

"I wonder?" I said to my husband.

"Could be." he replied. "Could be."


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