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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!

Three Dog (not mine) Day...Really!

>> Sunday, August 30, 2009

I really need to carry a camera in my pocket. The story I'm about to tell you is true, but without photos it might be a little hard to believe (unless you've known me for a very long time).

Last week I left my friend's barn and headed to the barn where I board Tango. The day was as hot as it could possibly be and the scorching sun was literally baking the pavement on the country road. As if that wasn't bad enough, the humidity had to be at least 90 percent. It was awful.

Anyway, I hadn't traveled far when I noticed two large dogs in the middle of the road between two cornfields. One dog was a husky. Both of the dogs looked confused and exhausted.

Out of the window of my car I could clearly see collars on both dogs...and tags. "Good!" I thought to myself. "I'll get the phone number off their tags and find their owner."

I pulled to the side of the road, put on my hazard lights, and got out of my jeep. I called to the dogs. The husky was a little shy, but the other dog wasn't. He saw my open car door and smelled the air conditioning. Quick as a flash, the big muddy dog was panting in my backseat.

Next came the husky, who had clearly encountered a skunk along the way. I took a deep breath, got in the car, and managed to get the phone number off the big dog's tag...I tried (HA!) to stay clear of the skunky husky. The owner of the dogs answered his phone almost immediately. "I've been looking for them everywhere," he said. "Give me directions to where you are and I'll come and get them."

I gave the man directions to my barn and edged back onto the road towards my barn and Tango. Before I could make the first turn, the husky was in my lap...yes he was. It gets better. Now a dump truck was behind me and he wasn't happy. The driver kept laying on his horn urging me to move faster.

I COULDN'T! Not with a husky in my lap. So it went on that way until I pulled into the parking lot of my barn. Nothing is ever subtle in my life and this was no exception. Since all of the people at the barn heard the dump truck's blaring horn, they assumed horses had gotten loose and were on the highway. People came running from all directions. They were thankful that the horses were safe and amused that I couldn't get out of the car for reasons I've already told you.

Long story short (at least this story), the dogs' owner came and got them. My car smelled like skunk, dogs, and mud but I had a nice ride on Tango anyway.

After I rode Tango, I decided to go to a store that carries horse supplies to pick up some fly spray. The store is located about five miles from my barn...of course easily accessible by country roads. I hadn't gone far when I noticed a pit bull dog IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.

I closed my eyes and drove around the dog. Really I did. "No more dogs today... I just can't," I told myself.

I made it to Horse World, chatted with the owners, got my fly spray and headed back to the barn. I had actually forgotten about the pit until I SAW HER AGAIN. This time, I couldn't drive by. She was clearly being attacked by horse flies and I know how bad they are right now.

Once again I put on my hazard lights, opened my car door, and got out. The pit was friendly enough. In fact, she even let me slap the flies on her back (which gave me great satisfaction). It was then that I noticed she had on one of those shock collars that keep dogs inside electric fences. "Poor thing," I thought to myself.

I called the pit to my car and was going to drive up and down the road to find out where she lived. The fly-bitten-pit didn't want to get in my car and I wasn't going to argue with her so.....I locked my car, left the pit where she was and went walking up and down the road, knocking on doors until I found where she lived.

In the end, I was a dirty mess, my car smelled, and my husband wasn't happy. But I considered it a fine day. Why? Because three big lost dogs went home. Am I a sap or what?


It Stinks!

>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

Those of you that have followed my blog for writers have already heard this story, but since we've been talking about Tango and how much I love him, I feel like telling the story again.

Here goes:

Most of you know I'm a writer and that lots of my inspiration for material comes from the animals I love. I sold a children's story called Tango and Tilly to a publisher in Canada a few years ago. I was contracted for this manuscript and six more in the series. This book was my heart because it was based on Tango (who you now know)...and me. I used Tango's antics as my inspiration. I used my imagination and joy to write the stories. I won't go into great detail (partially for legal reasons), but through no fault of my own, two years into the process, my rights were returned to me.

In March, out of the blue, someone said to me, "I bought your book for my granddaughter, and she loves it!" I asked which book and she said, Tango and Tilly. I was flabbergasted. Long story short. Somehow, some way, my book is being sold (or shown as available) illegally through many sources. It would cost me tens of thousands of dollars to pursue this legally. I don't have that kind of money. Bottom line is....the whole thing stinks!

There! I've told the story again. I feel least for now. I'll know I've really recovered when I put the effort into selling Tango and Tilly again. Meanwhile, go online. MY BOOK IS STILL THERE! Please don't buy it.


Nothing Could Be Better!

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good friends, their grandchildren, and Tango. Now who could ask for more? Monday was a fun day for Tango and me...that's for sure.
Janice and John (two of our very best friends) came to the barn with Zach and Camryn, their grandchildren. I was already riding Tango when they arrived. The boy was about to get a workout. He was really glad to see company!

I rode Tango for about fifteen minutes more after Janice and John got to the barn. Then I hopped off. (I do believe I heard Tango breathe a sigh of relief!) I let Camryn and Zach cool Tango off for me with a very nice long walk. We strolled around the arena.
Then we strolled down the tree lined path. Tango was happy. I was happy. The kids were happy.
Tango got his usual treats from me and then he got some more from the kids. He's a spoiled horse for sure.

People always thank me when they come to the barn. I feel like it's me who should thank them. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than share my passion with friends I love. How about you?


Finally - They're Bonding

>> Sunday, August 23, 2009

I noticed it yesterday. Annabelle was licking Maddie's ear and Maddie wasn't growling. Finally. I do believe they're bonding. It's been really hard for Maddie. She was just ten-weeks-old when we brought her home.
Kelly was here and ready to take charge. I'll never forget their first meeting. Kelly was in the backyard. I sat Maddie down in the grass. Kelly came over, sniffed her once, twice, three times, and then rolled her like a little ball.
From that moment on, Maddie followed Kelly's every lead. In fact, Kelly actually housebroke her. When Kelly went outside, Maddie followed. She did whatever Kelly did.
When Kelly died, Maddie was lost. She spent hours looking for him. It was heartbreaking. Annabelle had never really bonded with Kelly or Maddie. She was the newest rescue member of our pack and was truly the odd dog out.
After Kelly died, Annabelle did the same things she always did. Poor Maddie kept looking and waiting for Kelly. My sister-in-law, Dee told me Annabelle and Maddie would bond with time and she was right.
This morning was chilly. I was sitting on the couch with a blanket over me. Annabelle was half in my lap (like Kelly used to be) and Maddie jumped up and snuggled against her...just like she used to do with Kelly.
Time doesn't erase loving memories but it does help heal broken hearts. Things are looking up. Maybe Maddie won't be so sad anymore.


An Innocent Story About a Few Ducks

>> Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It started out innocently enough. I was sitting on the porch at the lodge minding my own business when they came. I couldn't stop them no matter how hard I tried. They just kept coming and coming.I tried to scare them away with my colorful toenail polish. I crossed my legs in an effort to look confident and stern. Then I tried to have a serious talk with them about why I really shouldn't be feeding ducks. I held my hands out wide and exasperated. "In most places, it's against the rules to feed the wildlife you know. " They just wouldn't listen. No matter how hard I tried, these ducks were determined birds. Yes they were.

Finally, in an effort to justify what I was doing, I called over the king duck. "King," I said, "If you please, call up the Rule Makers and tell them it's okay for me to feed the birds in your duckdom. I really don't want to get in trouble, you know. I have two days left here before I go home."

King Duck didn't blink an eye. "It will cost you," he said matter of factly. "Hand over the goods."

Never in my entire life has a duck told me to "hand over the goods" but the king duck meant business so I did as he said. I reached out and gave him the last of my breakfast bagel, which he took without so much as a thank you. In fact, he snapped me with his bill just to let me know who was in charge.

Then he asked for one more thing. "There's one duck in duckdom," he said, "That has a hurt foot. What do you think you could do for him?"

"Normally my friends and I try to rescue hurt animals," I told King Duck. "But your duck seems to be fairing okay. Let me call my son, Ryan, the fish and wildlife expert," I said.

Ryan (being much more reasonable than me) said, "Let nature do what it will...don't bring the duck home with you."

Ryan said that because I've done it before. It wasn't all that long ago that I forgot to tell my family there was an injured duck in our backyard that I had picked up from the side of the road to take to a wildlife center. It only created a little excitement.

But back to the story. King Duck watched me hang up the phone. "What'd he say?" the king asked.

I gave King Duck the low down. "Your son knows all about birds and what they do, right?" sneered the king.

By now I was feeling pretty fed up with this duck. He was pushing the limits with me. "Attacking my family won't get you far," I told the king. "Besides that, my son knows about more than just birds, I can promise you that."

"Quackidy quack," said the king. "Prove it!"

So I did. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a photo that my son sent me. By now I was bursting with pride. "See this!" I said as I shoved the photo in King Duck's face.

Ryan knows all about the birds




"You have taught your son the ways of the world," said King Duck. "For that, I am happy. Enjoy the rest of your stay at Cherry Valley Lodge."

So I did as the king said. I enjoyed the rest of my weekend (even though I missed my dogs terribly). Then I made my way home... after a little shopping and lunch.

King Duck said he'd check in with me now and then to make sure I'm not messing up anything in the animal kingdom. I do believe he will, don't you?

A special thank you to Ryan who really did take the photo of the mound of bees on a tree at his park and also tell me not to put another duck in my car.


I Missed My Dogs!

>> Sunday, August 16, 2009

I just got back from a wonderful long weekend with two lifelong friends. We had a terrific time but I couldn't wait to get home. Wanna know why? I missed my dogs! My husband stayed home and took care of Maddie and Annabelle, so they were just fine but I missed them anyway. Is that silly or what?!


Rescue Puppy Reunion

>> Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm pretty sure this face is saying, "thank you!" Moses is one of the seven puppies that we rescued from under the deck of an abandoned house. As a pup, his name was Prince Charming.
I will explain that one in just a minute!

Remember I told you there was going to be a puppy reunion? Well, it happened last night. Seven gorgeous dogs, their mother, and their owners came together next door to the house where the rescue began.

You can see them all in this photo. Count them! There's eight in all. In this day and age, it's truly a miracle to have rescued all these puppies and to have found them wonderful homes.

It was so special to see each dog so happy and healthy. Rae (shown on the far right) is my friend that I told you about. Without her, I don't know what would have happened. She's amazing. It took a village to take care of the needs of these puppies and their mother. There were so many puppies and they looked so much alike that we had to give them names. We couldn't remember who we'd fed and who we hadn't. With so many puppies, their mother just didn't have enough milk. The funniest thing (and the most difficult thing) was that with the exception of one pup, each puppy had a twin.

We named them accordingly. Sleeping Beauty got her name because she slept so much. Her twin was Prince Charming. Beaver got his name because he looked guessed it, a beaver. His twin was Foxy Boxie. Then there were the Lee sisters. Peggy Lee got her name because she had a little mole on the side of her muzzle. Her twin was of course, Brenda. Finally there was Friday Night. He was black at the time, now he looks like a German his mom.

Their new owners have given them different names. That doesn't matter a bit. What matters is the dedication, time, and love that went into getting these wonderful dogs where they are today. It was all about a good rescue and great friends.

The last two puppies I had, Peggy Lee and Foxy Boxie went home with Kim and Shawn, a wonderful young couple.

Now they are all grown-up and sitting in the group photo. Their forever names are Maggie and Morgan. I'm smiling...are you?


Tango and I Don't Like Her!

>> Monday, August 10, 2009

She's not nice.

No she's not. Not one little bit. She may look colorful and interesting but she's a horsefly through and through.
Just today, I went to the pasture to bring Tango inside and a horsefly (just like the one in the photo) landed on Tango's right rump and started biting the heck out of him. I was leading Tango from his left side, so I couldn't get to this foul fly...although I was contorting my body to give it my best shot.
Tango tried to be a gentleman and not jump sideways on my foot, but it was hard. This evil little fly was biting Tango so hard she was drawing blood. Tango was getting more and more exasperated and who could blame him?
Finally, in desperation, I let go of the lead rope and sprang into action. Tango stood still. I got to his right side and planned my strategy. If the fly caught wind of me, she'd move. If she didn't, I could give her a good hard whack and get her back for what she was doing to Tango. I waited quietly.
Tango's body was quivering. His tail was trying to do the same thing as me...kill the dratted horsefly. But this horsefly was persistent. She eluded his tail. She ignored his quivering body. She bit longer and harder until it happened.
S M A C K ! ! ! I GOT HER.
If I wasn't already Tango's favorite person, I am now. I defended his honor (not to mention his rump). We went on to have a fine ride together. After our ride I hosed Tango off. Then because I know that horseflies adore wet horses, I stood Tango in front of a fan until he was dry.
After that I sprayed my boy all over with fly spray. Hopefully the spray will work for long enough for Tango to stay outside for another couple hours. I'll probably go get him and take him inside and away from the enemy after that. Maybe we can plan our new horsefly attack strategy then!
Every single animal I've ever had has had its enemy. I've been pretty lucky with fleas this year. How about you? Do you have horror stories too?


Working Dogs, Sheep, and Creative People With Lots of Time

>> Friday, August 7, 2009

My sister very rarely sends me an email with a link embedded unless it's something really good.

Trust me when I say the link she sent me yesterday is really good. In fact, it's amazing. You have to see this!

What did you think?


Simple Beauty - Tango and Erin

>> Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You remember the photo of Erin with the three Friesians that I posted last week? Well, that photo was taken three years ago when Erin was 12-years-old. This photo was taken on Saturday when my friends, Jeff and Rae, brought Erin back to the barn for a visit.
Erin had already had a big day. She'd been to the vet and had blood drawn, among other things. Erin was tired, but coming to the farm seemed to perk her up. She's such a good girl.
It had been sprinkling a little bit so the air was thick with moisture. Jeff carried Erin back to Tango's pasture.
I don't know why, but I'm writing with tears in my eyes. Maybe it's because I just lost Kelly and seeing Erin brings back a flood of memories. Or maybe it's because the beautiful simplicity of this photo fills my heart with joy. I guess my tears could be happy tears. Animals can make me cry and laugh!
My Tango is usually a doubt about it. Yet on the day of Erin's visit, he wasn't. Tango seemed to sense that Erin's life is drawing to a close. He seemed to know that she is frail and old.
Tango watched Erin wobble as she stood. Instead of getting excited and frisky (like he usually does) when something or someone new comes to visit, Tango became subdued.
My boy lowered his gigantic head and managed to get it between the fence. Then he began to nuzzle Erin. At first Jeff, Rae, and I were a little concerned. Tango can nibble at the drop of a hat. He didn't do that. Instead, he began to groom Erin, like he would another horse, only much more gently. And as you can see, Erin let Tango groom her. It was like there was a mutual respect and understanding between them. I know that sounds crazy, but it was there. I saw it. Rae saw it. And Jeff saw it.
I can't explain why it happened. I only know how wonderful it was to live in that moment without really being a part of it. Sometimes the best things in life are quiet and peaceful. What a gift moments like these truly are.


Maddie the Mouse and Me

>> Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There will be no photo for this one. First of all, no one was around to take the photo. And even if someone had been nearby, I really don't want a photo of me chasing Maddie around the yard (in the rain) wearing my tattered flimsy nightgown.

"Why was I chasing Maddie in the rain?" you ask.

Because she finally did what Annabelle has been trying to do all summer. She caught a chipmunk...rather a mouse.

I saw it from my upstairs window. I'm obsessive when my dogs are outside even though my yard is fenced and safe. I still look out to make sure everything's okay. This time when I looked out I saw Maddie flitting furiously this way and that.

Then I saw it. My little Maddie went in for the attack. I knew she had something in her mouth, but I didn't know what.

I cast modesty to the wind and ran downstairs and out the back door, bare feet and all. "Drop it!" I demanded.

Maddie looked at me and thought about swallowing the now obvious little mouse in her mouth whole. I've told you Maddie's not the brightest bulb on the tree...just sweet.

Well, for a few minutes this morning, she even lost her sweetness title. I began to clap my hands. "DROP IT!" I yelled again.

Maddie looked at me sheepishly. It began to rain harder and harder. A clap of thunder accompanied my next demand for Maddie to drop the mouse. I think Maddie thought the thunder was going to get her (remember, she's afraid of storms) so she finally dropped the little rodent and ran inside through my opened back door...leaving me and the mouse.

At first, I thought the mouse was a baby. It really was cute. Okay...I know mice are bad, but this was a cute mouse and it was breathing its last breath.

I guess some people would have killed it to put it out of its misery, but I'm not one of those people. I just can't. I went dripping back inside and got a paper towel and a shoe box. I picked the little mouse up, put it in the shoebox, and took the shoebox into my garage. It died a few minutes later - in my garage and out of the rain.

Okay. I'm a sap. At least Maddie didn't eat a mouse. I did what I could and there's one less rodent in the world. Who needs coyotes? Not me. I've got Maddie. Somehow, this doesn't seem like Mother Nature at work just seems disgusting.

Wish I could get Maddie to use some mouthwash!


What Would You Do?

>> Sunday, August 2, 2009

Behind my house there is a field. Behind the field there is a woods. My house, my neighborhood, the field, and the woods are surrounded by a bustling city.

It's a pleasure to wake up in the morning, while the fog is just lifting from the field, and see deer grazing with their fawns.
It's a pleasure to watch rabbits and groundhogs (and just about any other meadow animal you can think of) so close to my home that I feel like I'm living on the prairie.
It is, however, a bit unnerving to see a coyote. Just when I think one is gone, another one is back again.
I'm not like a lot of the people in my neighborhood who are terrified of these animals. Or like those who hate them. I'm just afraid for our pets. My dogs are safe. They're fenced've seen my yard. I've seen lots of my neighbor's cats out and about though.
Anyway, last year, some unfeeling person shot our coyote. Instead of feeling relieved for the outdoor cats, I felt sad. I guess I just feel like we've forced some animals to co-exist with us... whether they like it or not.
It is not a pleasure to look out into the field in the early morning and watch the coyote pounce on another furry creature. I don't want to see that kind of nature in action. I always wonder if I should take dog food into the woods and leave it for the coyote so she won't be hungry. My husband says it's not a good idea. So does my son who's an expert on fish and wildlife.
In the winter, I always wonder if I should take corn out for the deer. It's a constant debate in my mind. I never know what's right or what's wrong. What would you do?


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