Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goals continued....

Last week, I posted my review of 2011 goals and new ones for 2012. They were all fitness related. You can read it here

I also have some goals for 2012 that are not fitness related and figured the best way to stay on track with those is put them down in black and white!

1. Replace my coffee addiction with green tea. I drink ALOT of coffee. 3 cups at home in the morning and a triple latte every single day. I got the most awesome latte maker for Christmas and I can make tea lattes with tea bags instead of coffee. I've been doing this for about a week and am really excited about the change. Green tea is supposed to be good for you - high in antioxidants, soothing, better for fat burning and disease prevention. Plus coffee is so acidic and with all my stomach issues, a switch is in order.

2. Eat sugar one time per week or less (most of the time). I am a sugar addict. I LOVE cookies, cake, candy, etc. If given the chance, I will (and do) eat it every day. All this sugar is just so bad for me and I know that. I can't perform at my best physically or mentally. The last couple months have been particularly bad. I'm not getting enough sleep and my body is craving sugar. I am going to break the cycle.

3. Take the necessary steps to establish a non-profit organization. Trevor and I have always said that our ultimate goal is to do something helping animals. We have decided over the last couple weeks that we want to help special needs animals, ones that are difficult to find homes for and may have no where else to go. The first step to doing that is to establish a vehicle with which to meet this need. By the end of 2012, we will be established and have helped at least one animal.

4. Budget. Enough said.

I am looking forward to the promise of a New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Holiday Blogger - Asha

Its been two months since my last guest post. I was just a kid back then - only 8 months old. On January 9th, I'll be 11 months old, almost to my first birthday! So much has been going on. My mom and dad have been working so hard to figure out what I need. Its been exhausting for all of us. We've had some ups and downs. We are all learning a lot!

My behavior has been all over the place. I would have some good days and then I would have some bad days. I have been taking medicine for the last several months and it was working, but not as well as everyone had hoped. About a month ago, my mom and my vet decided that I needed someone who specializes in cases like mine, you know....the difficult ones!

We were referred to a behavioral vet who could help us with my medication and my behavior. I was feeling much better from the medicine I was on, but it just wasn't quite right and we all knew it.

We went to visit with him last week and it was great. He was so nice to me! He and my mom went over all my history and came up with a plan for moving forward. My mom and dad sure have a lot of work to do! They have changed some things and I bet at some point I'll start to respond to those changes, right now I am still trying to figure out what the heck is going on!

They took me off my old medicine. I was supposed to get it all out of my system before I started a new medicine. I guess I never realized how much that medicine was helping me. When I stopped taking it, I felt totally out of control. All I wanted was to get upstairs and tear things up. Two days in a row I did just that. It was awful. Then the vet said to start me on my new medicine. I've been on that for about 4 days now and I am definetly starting to feel better. I sure hope that continues. Once I've been on this medicine for a while, my new vet is going to consider adding some other medicines to help me. I have a hard time controlling myself, I get really worked up, anxious and I can't stop running and barking.

Maggie and I have really had our ups and downs. Last time I posted, we had worked it all out. Shortly after that, some new issues cropped up. Maggie sure gets mad at me sometimes. For a while, I was apprehensive around her and I didn't want to play with her because I could never tell when she had enough of me. Mom and Dad really worked hard on that and now Maggie and I are back on speaking terms. I like to play with her and she lets me. Mom and Dad say that we need to keep an eye on it, so that's what they are going to do.

My vet's office is located inside the local pet store. My mom takes me over to the pet store several nights a week. We walk around and I check things out - I like to smell all the new smells. Plus I really like the dog food aisle and the fish tanks. Someday I'd like to have my own fish. Mom says maybe when I get a little older, I'm not responsible enough yet. Anyway, I really like all the girls who work at the vet and so when we go to the pet store, I walk right over to the vets office and hop up on the scale. My favorite person there is named Angel. She usually is at the front counter, so I jump up on the scale and look for her. I can tell if she is working that day or not. I like how she smells. She is my best human friend, other than my mom and dad. I LOVE her and she loves me. When I find her, I go nuts and she gives me lots of pets and loves. When my mom makes me leave her, I always bite my mom's heels and say "I don't wanna go!" I meet lots of new people there and the employees are really nice to me. I get at least one belly rub every time I am there. My mom likes it because it tires me out and it makes me happy. She loves to see how happy I am and how much I like people. New people can't even tell that I am deaf and blind. Mom says that I walk around like I own the place!!

I have had some really good days where I really feel in control. Days where I don't need to run and bark. I can lay down in the kitchen and just relax or wander around downstairs like the other dogs. I've also slept through the night several times. Then, I have some really bad days where I feel totally out of control, I run and bark and am restless at night. I know my new vet is going to help us with this. I just know it. I feel like I have more good days than bad days and most of the time I feel really happy. I smile alot.

Last night my mom helped me do my Christmas Shopping. Every night when we are wandering the aisles at the pet store, the employees ask if they can help us find anything and I always say "we're just looking", but last night I was ready to buy. I got gifts for all the dogs and cats in my home because I love them. Its our first Christmas together and I want to do it right. I also bought something nice for myself too - my mom says that's what you are supposed to do at Christmas.

We don't have a Christmas tree at our house. That's probably for the best, I think I would destroy it. I hope that some day we can have a tree and I'll help decorate it.

This is how I spent most of my day... Mom usually comes home and finds me like this. It takes me a couple minutes, but I somehow realize that she's home, I jump up and I run through the house with my nose in the air following her scent until I find her. That's the best part of my day....until dad comes home. I know when he walks in the door and I go running to find him too.

I am still a puppy and I do all kinds of puppy things. Soon enough I will be grown up and my puppy days will be behind me. I love my life. I struggle sometimes, but Buster told me that's how it is for everyone. I guess these are things I'l learn as I grow. Everyone tells me how lucky I am, but I already know that. I know that I have found my forever home and I don't even remember it any other way.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What about the cats???

You know. not only do we have three dogs, but we also have THREE CATS!!!!

The cats live upstairs, they have their own floor. The dogs stay downstairs except at bedtime. We started this division back when we just had Gus the cat, Opal and Wookie the dogs. Opal was not a cat kind of dog, so it was best to keep them seperate. Everyone seemed to like this set up, so we've kept with us.

Norwyn (aka Tuna), Daisy and Roxie (aka Baby) are our sweet kitties. We workout upstairs and they do that with us, they also spend time with us while we get ready for the day and when we sleep. Their favorite time is when we are in bed. They love to snuggle. Every night we sleep with all three cats on the bed. Tuna lays to my right, Daisy lays in my pillow and Baby lays either between us against Trevor or on his left. Every. Night. Then around 3 am, Asha jumps on the bed and joins in the slumber party. I would not have it any other way.

Daisy is the bridge between the old pets and the new pets. She is the only animal who has known every pet we've ever had. We got her 6 years ago and she is now 15. We figure she'll live to be 20! We hope she'll live to be 20. She is such a dream - never a problem, loves all the other animals.

Tuna is a bully. He found us. He was a stray who decided he wanted to live with us, then he realized we had other cats and he's never fully gotten over that surprise. He torments Baby, we've finally started to keep them seperate so she can have some peace!

Baby is about 3 now, but she'll always be our baby. She was a stray kitten and we decided she should live with us. That was when she was about 6 months old. Just a baby.

We love these cats, I don't post about that often, but that does not mean that I don't love them with all my heart. I really try to give them as much attention as I can. They don't get to sit on the couch with us - the dogs would chomp them, but they know they are loved and well taken care of. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night, I'll reach out and touch all three of them and they all start to purr. That is music to my ears.

2011 Year in Review

I must be getting older because time just seems to keep increasing in speed. I do not know where it goes, it seems there is always something to look forward too and that makes the time go even faster. The hours go slow by the years fly by!!

Here are the highlights of 2011...

I had a marathon PR to set this year and my training starting in January. There were some long runs in the cold. Lots of long, dark, lonely miles.

I turned 37 on February 26th. On February 27th we held the 2nd annual Max Muscle Vancouver Half Marathon. It was SO cold that day. We grew the event this year and look forward to growing even more in 2012.

We realized that our dog Opal was taking a turn for the worst and going downhill fast. In 2010, we lost our dog Wookie and our cat Gus to cancer. We were heartbroken to think that we would lose Opal too. So began the long talks about heaven and the 24 hour a day watch for any changes that could signal improvement. Those signs never came.

April: Running, running and more running. I also found the joys of the running skirt. Never thought I'd like it and was shocked when I realized that I did.

I had a personal best marathon on May 1st - 4 hours and 23 minutes. Many said I couldn't do it. But I did. We went to Eugene that weekend. We were gone for one night. When we left, Opal was still able to use her back legs just a little, when we returned, she never walked again. On May 23rd, it was finally time to say goodbye. After three weeks of helping her walk and carrying her when she needed it, she told us she was ready to be with Gus and Wookie. This was devastating to us. We miss her terribly and her absence made us miss the other two even more.

Our triathlon training kicked into high gear. We did lots of running, biking and swimming.
This was also the month of the Vancouver USA Marathon. I was the volunteer coordinator and that took up much of my time during the month.

The Rev3 Half Ironman Triathlon was July 9th. I had a personal best time there at 6 hours and 23 minutes. Afterwards, we drove to the Humane Society where we picked up Asha, a 5 month old deaf/blind puppy who would forever change our world.

Trevor and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. Impossible to believe.

Exhausted from the addition of Asha to our household, I spent most of this month sleeping on the floor with her at night to keep her calm.
We also had our second annual Triathlon and this year added a Duathlon. The event was a success and we look forward to doing it all again in 2012.

The highlight of my year was a weekend trip in October to visit my Grammie in Florida. I love her so very much and being around her just makes me feel good. I need a dose of her and I sure got it!

Thanksgiving - my parents came to visit for the first time in three years. They got to meet all the pets and we had a great time!

Here we are, the end of another year. Time to reflect and look forward. Its been a year full of highs and lows - just like every other year. I am so grateful for all that I have and in 2012 really want to focus on all the blessings in my life. Its so easy to get bogged down in the crap. On that note. Happy New Year. Hopefully 2012 will be the best year yet!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goals 2011 status report and 2012 details

2011 is quickly coming to an end. I feel like I just got used to writing 2011 on my bank deposit slips and now I have to remember to write 2012! This has been a crazy year (aren't they all?) Its time to look back and see how I did on my goals for this year. Its also time to write down some goals for next year. Let's start with did it shape up???

Here were my goals - the bold is how I did.
1. Increase my speed. I want this to be the year of the sub-5 hour marathon. I start training in January for that. I would also like to complete at least one Half Iron distance triathlon in under 7 hours, dare I say - under 6:30.
Speed was the theme of this year and I am thrilled to say that I achieved goal #1. I completed the Eugene Marathon in 4 hours and 23 minutes. My previous best time was 5 hours and 4 minutes. Going into this race, people told me that it couldn't be done - that type of improvement was impossible. A woman at breakfast on race day told Trevor that I couldn't do it. Obviously, she didn't know me. I was so very proud of myself on this one.
In July, I finished the Rev3 Half Ironman in 6 hours and 23 minutes - previous best time was 7 hours and 4 minutes.
Look for more speed goals in 2012. Now that I have started to push myself, I am excited to see how much more I can do.

2. I really want to work on my swimming. I want the fear and anxiety to lessen this year. I completed the Ironman swim this year. I have that on my swimming resume now. I really want that to help, I want to draw on that accomplishment when I am feeling scared or anxious. I know that I will speed up if I calm down.
This may have been my biggest accomplishment of 2011. In every triathlon we did this year, I was able to stay calm and enjoy the swim. I didn't lay awake at night worried about it. I was able to converse with others in the hours leading up to the swim start. I didn't feel sick to my stomach or scared to death. This year I decided to stop letting the swim control me. Rev3 Portland Half Ironman was the most physical swim I've been in. I was swam over and also had my goggles come off my head when I was kicked by someone. I had to stop for a few minutes and tread water while I got them back on. I was able to remain calm through all of it. What a difference that makes in the grand scheme of things. The day goes much better when I don't waste so much energy worrying about the swim!

3. I want to win my age group at the Girls and Dudes Triathlon in July. Last year I came in second, by 10 seconds. This year I want to win.
Damnit. I came in 2nd again this year - only it was by 3 minutes this time instead of 10 seconds. I raced this event harder than any other. I ran great off the bike - 8:30 miles. I felt really strong. I think the competition keeps getting tougher....we'll see what happens next year!

4. I want to end 2011 with the same feeling of accomplishment I have at the end of 2010.
I feel pretty good about 2011, although I have to say that it will be tough to beat 2010. Hear that 2012...its a challenge!

5. Give all my love to my pets every single day. We lost two of our fur babies this year. I loved them every minute of every day as their time drew near. I want to give that same kind of love to the rest of the pets. I don't want the mundane things in life to be more important. If they want my attention, I will give it to them.
We lost our sweet Opal this year in May. I spent a lot of time with her, especially near the end. Just as I did with the others. We are working on spending quality time with all the pets. With 6 of them, its tough to make sure everyone gets attention, but I think we do pretty well. I love them all with my entire heart and I try to remember that we are all they've got - so its important to make sure they know that we love them more than anything.'s what I working towards:
1. I want to improve my swim. Now that I am feeling comfortable and confident in the water, I want to improve my stroke, swim stronger and faster. At the end of the season last year, Trevor worked with me on bilateral breathing. I don't like change and so this is going to take some work. My goal is to swim all my events this year that way and see how my times improve!

2. Sub 2 hour half marathon. My best time is 2 hours and 30 seconds - I did that in September and it haunts me.

3. Sub 4 hour marathon. Gulp.

4. Sub 6 hour Half Ironman. Double Gulp.

5. And again this year - the goal is to be 1st in my age group at the NWPT Triathlon in July.

I do have some goals that don't pertain to any sort of athletic event, but I'm keeping those to myself. We'll see how 2012 goes....

Couldn't we all use some drugs?

This week was Asha's appointment with the behavorial vet. The week prior was a great one. Asha seemed to be calming down and settling into an even state. I was feeling more hopeful, like I could live like this forever - if this was as good as it got. I was almost thinking she didn't need to go to this special vet. Her appointment was Tuesday morning. Monday and Tuesday, Asha reminded me that she did, in fact, need this extra help. She did a bunch of running and barking and was just restless.

Trevor had to work, so it was just me and Asha. It was about a 30 minute drive - the longest trip Asha has ever taken in the car. I was nervous about it just being us, but she did great. I brought a bunch of treats and peanut butter filling kongs to keep her busy. She layed on the back seat and just relaxed.

As always, Asha was thrilled to be some place new. Everyone at the vet's office wanted to meet her and had questions about her. The vet was super nice. I really liked him and so did Asha. We started at the beginning and covered just about everything I could think of. Asha acted up a bit and so the vet was able to observe her behavior and how I handled it.

After two hours, we came up with a game plan. There is no easy fix for our situation. It is a combination of getting the right drugs and really working to modify her behavior. Change won't happen overnight. I knew that going into this appointment. We have done a lot of work to change her behavior. The things this vet suggested were really just an extension of what we have already done. He seemed to think that Asha has more of a problem controling herself than anxiety. For example, she'll be laying calmly and for no reason jump up and start barking. Trevor compared it to Tourette's syndrome - she has no inhabition and just acts without control.

Asha is currently taking medication for her epilepsy. She also takes an anti anxiety pill. That pill has given her loose stools and we decided to switch her to something different to get rid of that side effect. Here is the one problem with that - Asha needs to stop taking the current anti anxiety meds and let them get out of her system before she starts the new one. Then the new one has to ramp up. So, that is a week without any meds and then probably 3 weeks before the other one really kicks in. The vet said "it could get worse before it gets better". That made me feel a little sick to my stomach!

She was exhausted on the way home!

We headed home with a list of things to work on...First of all, Asha needs much more mental stimulation than most dogs. She can't see or hear, so she doesn't get any stimulation that way. We have tried to give her food puzzle type treats, but she is so smart that she figures them out and then gets bored. The vet suggested that we pick up her food bowl and only feed her from these food puzzles.

The thing that Asha does that is really the major issue is her running and barking. I do not believe she does this when we are not home (we are going to video her while we are gone to confirm this). But when we are home, if we don't hold onto her leash -she will run and bark like crazy until we go stop her. The vet thinks that when we touch her and stop that behavior, she feels rewarded by our touch. She is SO social that any interaction is a reward. So he wants to us to use her leash to break the behavior and then reward her with the touch when she has stopped. She has a leash attached to her collar and when she runs, we try to step on the leash to stop her or grab the leash. Then, when she settles, we'll touch her as reward.

Finally, we have a vibrating collar and we are going to work on using that as a way to tell her "good girl". Right now, if she does lay calmly or do something good - and we pat her on her side (that's the current sign for "good girl"), or if we give her a treat, she gets up and runs and barks. We will use the vibrating collar like a clicker - so vibrate the collar and give her a treat until she realizes what the vibration means.

We are also changing her food.

Exhausted yet?

We stopped giving her the anti anxiety meds on Tuesday. She was okay on Wednesday, but the next couple days her sleep patterns were off. Thursday evening I came home and Asha had cut a path of destruction, plus pooped twice in the house. She hasn't destroyed anything or pooped in the house in probably two months. Friday - she did the same things. This totally confirmed to me that the anti anxiety meds had been working. I struggled with putting her on those and after the past two days, I am so glad that we did. The vet told me to start her new meds right now instead of waiting the entire week. We started that last night - we'll see what I find when I get home today. Hopefully they kick in quickly.

I wonder if she knows something is different. I wonder if she feels out of control and doesn't understand why. I don't want that. I want her to feel calm and relaxed. That's what this is all about. She does have a lot of time where she is content, but there is too much time where she is not.

Asha did great last night. I sat on the kitchen floor with her for about an hour. She layed down against me and put her nose behind my knees and just slept. She does this great thing when she relaxes - she lets out a big sigh. I love that. She slept just about all night long too. She got up at 3 am to go out to the bathroom, then came back in and got up on the bed and fell fast asleep within seconds.

Maggie and Buster are doing great. Sometimes Asha really gets on Maggie's nerves, but she has been very tolerant lately and we are doing everything we can to make sure that Asha respects both Maggie and Buster's space.

I so look forward to Asha improving. She can be such a good girl. She is growing and learning every day. She teaches me so much and watching her amazes me. Nothing stops her, she isn't afraid of anything and she really loves people. It fills my heart with joy when I see her meet someone new. Her little tail wags a thousand miles a minute. She has her favorites too. I take her to the petstore and walk her around, she loves the smells there and someone always wants to pet her. Our vet is located in the petstore and Asha LOVES one of the vet techs named Angel. And Angel loves Asha right back. It makes me so happy to see the two of them together.

I love this little doggie, with all my heart. We'll do anything we need to do in order to give her a good life. To us, a good life means one where she can be calm and relaxed most of the time, where she feels safe and loved. A life where she knows that she belongs with us and that is where she most wants to be.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


My absence from blogging can be blame on one thing....I've been feeling very overwhelmed. I've kept it to myself because I was trying to pretend it wasn't true. A couple weeks ago, I finally admitted it myself and had a bit of a breakdown. I am feeling better about things now, but still a little apprehensive.

Asha has been draining me. I think I have been hesitant to post about it because I don't want people to tell us that we should get rid of her. Finding a different home for Asha would be like someone with human children saying they needed to find another home for one of their babies. Its not even a possibility.

When we decided to bring Asha to live with us, neither of us expected her to have so many anxiety issues. I know that I thought she would require some extra work because she was blind and deaf. I thought we'd have to watch her more closely, we'd have to get up and make her stop doing things instead of yelling at her. I NEVER thought I would be dealing with a dog who would be so anxious sometimes that she was out of breath from it. Asha has epilepsy and that showed up about 2 weeks after she came to live with us. She isn't wired like other dogs and so she needs different care.

We have done everything we can think to do. We have a trainer who comes to the house every week and works with all three dogs (and us). We've done research, talked to other blind/deaf Aussie owners, found forums, read blogs...all in an effort to find the answer.

Asha is on anti anxiety medication and it has helped quite a bit, but she still has episodes and its really hard on her and us. It can be mentally exhausting to have her constantly bark in a way that will not allow us to relax. The intensity varies - some days are worse than others. This past week has been the best she's even been, but that followed about two weeks of the worst its ever been. Right before Thanksgiving, it was so bad that I sat on the floor in tears one day. As I sat there crying, all three dogs came over to comfort me. Buster said "mom...I remember feeling hopeless and scared. I didn't know how I could go on that way....and then
you came. So don't worry. It will be okay"

That was pretty much the lowest point. As I sat there sobbing, I thought "how can we go on living like this?" That's a horrible feeling - hopeless, helpless, scared and alone.

Our trainer came to the house the following day and we did a lot of talking. She said some things that I really needed to hear. She said "I don't know how you do it, most people couldn't or wouldn't. You are doing a great job with all your dogs. I admire your commitment". Something about those words made me feel validated and made me really want to continue looking for answers.

Asha has an appointment on Tuesday with a behavorial vet - they work with anxiety issues and OCD. They can prescribe medication and I am hoping they will be able to come up with some ways to reduce Asha's anxiety. That's their specialty.

As I mentioned, this past week has been really good. Asha works best on a schedule. She gets really upset if there is uncertainty, so we have been working on a consistent schedule for her and I believe it has made a difference. She has been playing alot with Buster and Maggie - they play until they are all exhausted, panting, out of breath. Then they all sleep. We've also been going to the petstore to do our evening walks. Its cold outside and the petstore is such an interesting place for Asha - different smells every time we are there. The people who work there love her and she gets so much attention when we go.

Asha has also started to develop a close relationship with us. Before, she really depended on the other dogs, lately she seems more interested in being with us. She'll jump up on the couch with me, lay down by my feet when I am working in the kitchen and has started to lick my face when I sit with her - she never did that before!

She constantly amazes me with how smart she is. I sometimes try to imagine what it would be like to be unable to see or hear. I figure she must go off smell and touch, so I try to be conscious of that. When I get home at night and she realizes that I am home, she'll run to find me - with her nose in the air following my smell. I get down on the floor and try to put as much of myself against her as I can so that she feels me there.

She works like a clock - she has a schedule and she keeps to it. She knows when certain things happen. She wakes up at the same time every morning - give or take ten minutes. She knows when she goes in her kennel, she knows when she goes to bed.
When she is good, she is great. I love her so much. Sometimes when she looks up at me with her super blue eyes and her pink nose, I want to crumble because she is such a sweet creature.

There are certainly more times when she sits calmly. It used to be that she was either sleeping or running and barking, there was very little in between. A few times I have come home and she's laying on the couch - not sleeping, just relaxing. She has not destroyed things in several weeks, no matter how long she has been left at home alone. She also hasn't peed or pooped in the house in probably two months.

I am not sure what happened, but last Sunday seemed to be a turning point. That was the best day we have ever had with her. She played with Buster and Maggie, there were no issues, very little anxiety. One night this week, I was actually able to go upstairs and put laundry away for about 15 minutes without Asha barking the entire time. She barked for a couple minutes, then laid down at the bottom of the stairs and relaxed. I couldn't believe it.

We've done ALOT of behavior modification with all three dogs. Asha really disrupted the entire household and we've had to do work with the other two dogs and the cats. Its been exhausting. These last two weeks, we have finally started to see some results from our hard work. While we were in the midst of it all, I kept thinking that we would have to do some of those things forever and that was daunting. For example, we've been giving each dog time alone with us on the couch and that required a "crate and rotate" program - meaning that two would be in a crate while one was out with us and then we would rotate them. Logically - that is exhausting. But it payed off. We don't have to do that very much now, we are all about to be together without issue. The work isn't done, we'll constantly need to work with the dogs and on ourselves to ensure a peaceful home.

I was having a really tough time with all this because I kept thinking about how our lives used to be. Before Asha, we could relax whenever we wanted. When she would run and bark, it would make me sad that life was gone and I didn't think it would ever come back. I told Trevor that I was greiving the loss of that life and moving through the stages of grief. I was angry and sad. I've finally moved into acceptance and this morning I said to Trevor "if this is how it is forever, I would be happy with it". And I meant it.

I know that most people don't feel the way we do about animals. Most people wouldn't allow their lives to be turned upside down by any pet. I think that is the thing that most brings Trevor and I together. We agree that we'll do whatever we have to do to make sure our pets have a good life, no matter what inconveincence that is to us. We made the choice to bring them to our home and now we have to make the best of it.

I know I am a better person because of what we are going through right now. I know that I have learned a lot about myself. The moments of struggle with the dogs are tough, but the moments of love fill my heart in a way that nothing else ever has. When Maggie smiles at me, Buster sleeps against my legs and Asha wags her tail with excitement at my presence, I know that I am loved and its all worth it. This must be what it feels like to have kids.

So I am overwhelmed, but am finally feeling hopeful! I am looking forward to our trip to the vet on Tuesday and continuing to make progress with our special little one. Heaven knows we all deserve it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inaction is sometimes the worst action of all

I've been troubled by a few recent stories. One, is the sex scandal at Penn State, the other is the murder of Jayna Murray, a Lululemon employee in Bethesda. There are obviously, many things about both of these cases that are troublesome, but the one thing that bothers me the most is that there were people who heard or saw something wrong and did not act.

The story I am going to focus on is the Jayna Murray story. The Penn State scandal has been covered quite a bit in the media and probably everyone knows about it and is shocked by the actions of the coaches and administrators there.

Let me tell you what I know about Jayna Murray and her death. I am a big fan of Lululemon. Its a clothing store. There are blogs dedicated to it and those blogs follow everything that has to do with the brand. Last March, there was a posting on one of the blogs with a story about a robbery and murder at the Lululemon store in Bethesda, Maryland. The story said that two unknown men broke into the store after closing and assaulted two employees, murdering one of them.

I live 3000 miles away from the crime scene, but I was riveted by the story. I followed it online via blogs and news reports. I was shocked when a few days later, the police arrested the coworker who survived the attacked, claiming that she had attacked and killed the other worker.

There was a huge outpouring in the community for the family and friends of Jayna Murray. I did not know her and I don't know anyone who did, but I feel the pain, sadness and horror that they must feel at this senseless death. According to reports, the attack was instigated because Jayna caught her coworker stealing. I guess going to jail for murder is better than getting fired for stealing.

As I have followed this story, there is one piece that sticks out to me. The Lululemon store was next to an Apple computer store. At the trial of Brittany Norwood - the accused murdered, two Apple employees testified that they heard something. Here are some quotes:

"I heard noises coming from the right side of the store- something heavy sounding," "Like it was being hit or dragging, some grunting and some thudding."

"We approached the area of the store where the sound was the loudest. At that point we heard some screaming or yelling. It sounded hysterical," They heard two female voices, one hysterically, "God help me, please help me."

The Apple store manager at the time also testified that he heard a panting, "like when you can't breathe and need to catch your breath."

They employees testified that they asked the security guards in their store to check it out. The way they checked it out was to put their ear to the wall. There have been no answers as to why no further action was taken. Why the police weren't called, why the security guards didn't go next door and check it out.

Jayne Murray suffered more than 322 blows before the final fatal blow. She was found with a rope around her neck, hammer and knife wounds to her head, and had been repeatedly struck with a metal stand. The attack allegedly went on for more than 20 minutes. Plenty of time for someone to have intervened and saved her life. But no one did. How can that be?

I know there are all kinds of studies about why people don't act, why they don't step in and take action to stop something they know is going on - they think someone else will call the police or they don't want to meddle in something that isn't their business.

I have always held the belief, in the case of my safety and the safety of others, its better to look stupid then end up dead. I would rather have the police come and find nothing wrong than not get involved and have to live with myself for not taking action.

Sure, none of us know how we would act in the same situation. We'd all like to think we would do the right thing. Its ironic to me that due to the internet, social media and reality TV, we are all so involved in the lives of others. We have no problem butting into the lives of friends, family and acquaintances, but when we need to pick up the phone and call 911 or physically stop someone from committing a crime or an immoral act, we freeze, become scared and decide to mind our own business. Minding our own business isn't the American way. So let's stop acting like it is and start looking out for each other. If you see something that doesn't seem quite right, if you hear or read something that makes you think there is a problem - ACT on it. You may look foolish, but better to be foolish than regretful.

Those Apple employees had to sit in a courtroom and look at Jayna's parents and know that they did nothing to stop the brutal murder of their daughter. How do you live with that?

Here is a link to Jayna's Foundation:
Here is a news story about the conviction of Jayna's murder

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend at Grammie's

I spent last weekend in Sarasota, Florida visiting my 84 year old Grammie. I was only there for three days and I went alone. Trevor stayed home to take care of the businesses and the pets. I hate going anywhere without him and I hate leaving the pets, but I had the best time with my Grammie.

My Aunt Roz and Uncle Al just moved to Florida a few weeks ago and now live right behind Grammie. I haven't seen them in at least 6 years, so it was a treat to spend some time with them too!

I don't know anyone who is like Grammie. She is so spiritual and open to new ideas. She is always ready to try something new. She leads book studies, belongs to all kinds of groups and clubs, she goes on retreats and to lectures. I am amazed at how she views the world.

We spent some time sightseeing and the rest of the time we just talked. She said "there is just too much to learn". We talked alot about this life and what follows. I grew up going to church every Sunday and always thought of Grammie as religious. She has really opened up to a different world view. She believes this life is in three dimensions and when we pass, we move onto a different dimension.

My entire life, Grammie has always been fascinated with Easter Island. She's never been there but when she sees a picture of it, she is overcome with a feeling of homesickness. She was telling me that she feels a similiar pull towards Egypt but nothing like Easter Island. We decided that her spirit started life on Easter Island.

I don't have conversations like these with anyone else except my Gram. At one point we were talking and I just teared up because I realized how lucky I am to get to know my Grammie at so many different points in her life.

As a child, she was the doting wife and mother. As I got older, she was a caretaker to so many people. She did what was expected and I rarely saw any unhappiness in her. She gave of herself without complaint, it never occurred to me that she might have wanted more from her life.

After my Pop-pop passed away, I saw my Grammie change into an independent woman. When we joke about her finding a new man, she says "I did that for 51 years, I don't want to do it anymore". Its so strange to hear her talk about that previous life. I know she doesn't regret the path she chose, but she sure is loving this life she has now.

Grammie has good genes - her parents both lived into their late 90s, so she probably has lots of time left. I sure hope she does. She is my favorite person, she always has been. I loved my time with her and I can't wait to go back again.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Going to Grammie's

I grew up on Greentree Road, in the farm house where my Dad was raised. Across the street, lived my dad's parents - my Grammie and Pop-pop. Growing up, I saw them several times every week, either for lunch or dinner or just to visit. I spent every Sunday with them at church, every holiday, every birthday, sick days from school, vacation days and every day during the summer.

I learned a lot of things from my Grammie and Pop-Pop. I was the only granddaughter and so I got all my Grammie's attention when it came to crafts. She taught me how to needlepoint, knit and crochet. Every summer I'd have a project and Grammie would help me with it. I remember running errands with her. Even thought it was just a normal day doing regular things, I loved being with her. Pop-Pop came home every day for lunch and we'd sit in the kitchen, watching Action News at noon and he'd drink his grapefruit juice I would cry at the end of the summer when I had to go back to school because I would miss my time with Grammie.

When I was sick, Grammie knew how to make me feel better. When I wanted to go play with my friends for the 5th day in a row, Grammie would make me stay home and told me that I needed to learn to be okay by myself. I watched her take care of everyone we knew, she was the most giving, self-less person I ever knew.

Grammie is really funny and always has great stories about when she was young. I could listen to her all day long. I just like being with her.

For as long as I can remember, Grammie and Pop-Pop would spend some time every winter in Florida. It started as just the month of February and as the years went on, they stayed longer. After Pop-Pop passed away, Grammie bought a place in Sarasota and started spending more time there. Then, a couple years ago, she sold her home in New Jersey and moved to Florida permanently. I always wanted to go visit, but never had. This weekend, after 37 years, I am finally going to visit Grammie in Florida!!

I see Grammie usually about once a year, but its never been at her place in Sarasota. Trevor is staying home to work the store and take care of the pets. I can only be gone for a couple days, so it will be a short trip, but I am so grateful that I get to go.

Last time I saw her was about a year ago at my nephew's 1st birthday.

Grammie is my favorite person and when I am around her I feel better about myself and about the world. I can't wait to pull into her driveway and see her come running out to meet me (that's what she always does - she runs to meet me when we visit - she always has)! I can't wait to see what her life is like now. She is always so busy going and doing new and fun things. She says that when you stop learning, that's when you get old and she's not ready to get old yet. I love her. And so I am thrilled to be able to say that I won't be around this weekend, because I am going to Grammie's!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lethal White

Our dog, Asha, is a blind and deaf Australian Shepherd. Before we found her at the Humane Society, we had never heard of such a thing. We did some research before we adopted her and have continued doing research since she became part of our family.

At first, we thought it was just a fluke - her blind and deafness. Then we realized that there is actually a term for dogs like her - Lethal Whites - and they are a problem among Australian Shepherd breeders. There are multiple colors of this breed. One of those colors is called Merle. When two Merle color dogs are bred, 25% of the time, the puppies will be blind and deaf or both. These blind/deaf dogs are called Double Merle or Lethal Whites. The term Lethal White can be misleading - you may think the the blind/deaf puppies don't survive long after birth due to genetics. The truth is that most of them don't survive because their breeders kill them when they realize they are blind and deaf.

Keep in mind, that breeders sell dogs for money. Many breeders will not sell "defective" dogs. Responsible breeders would never allow merle to merle breeding. I am not an advocate for breeding at all - there are far too many animals in shelters. But that's not what I am discussing here. Sadly, not all breeders are responsible.

None of this had occurred to us when we went to meet Asha. After we had decided we wanted her to come live with us, we asked the shelter workers how Asha came to be at there. They told us that when her breeder realized the entire litter of puppies was deaf and blind, he started drowning them - one by one. His wife saved Asha and two others - but the shelter could only take one. Asha is only alive because she wasn't the closet one to her breeder when he reached in to grab a puppy to drown. She is only alive because she was the lucky one of the three surviving pups to be taken in at the shelter.

Most people have said to us "what do you do with a blind and deaf dog. If they can't see and hear, what else is there?" Well, there's lots. She lives a very full, fun life and she is amazingly smart. She has only lived with us for three months, but I know we already take for granted the things she does. Here are just a few examples:

-she knows when its bedtime, we let her out to pee, then she comes back in and walks right to the stairs, goes up the stairs, turns left at the top, then turns right into the bedroom without hitting a wall or tripping on a stair.
-when we come home from our walks, she starts lifting her paws higher in anticipation for the front stairs.
-she runs out the back door and slows slightly at the edge of the deck before she launches off it just like our two dogs who can see do.
-every day when I leave home, I put her toys out around the house for her to find. She knows one of my favorite spots to put a toy is on the front couch and she goes right to the couch and looks for a toy when she realizes it is that time.

The list goes on and on. There are a hundred little things that she knows. Some we taught her, others she just knows. She loves to play with Buster and Maggie. She knows where they like to lay and will walk right over to those spots and start to play with them. Sometimes when she is near them, she'll put her paw on their back, just to keep track of where they are. And when we walk them all together, she likes to be between Maggie and Buster so she knows where we are going.

She is anxious and she requires more patience than I have, but she is becoming a really great dog. Having her has allowed my eyes to be opened to so many things. Before, I never wanted to know any details about the sad things that happen to animals. I worried that if I knew what went on in shelters or dog fighting operations, I would never get the images out of my mind. And I was right. I have slowly started to read things, to allow myself to become knowledgeable about what really happens. Many times I cry my eyes out while I am reading, most times it takes days for me to be able to stop thinking about what I have learned. It occurred to me that if I don't know, I won't help. Now that I know, there are things I can do. I can help other people have the courage to know too, because once we all really KNOW what goes on and how awful much of it is, we can change it. I don't want to say "there isn't anything I can do about it so I'd rather now know", anymore.

Here is a quote from a rescue group that I follow in Arizona called Amazing Aussies:

It is estimated that there are something like 4000 of these "Lethal Whites" born in the US every year. Approximately 2500 of these are silently suffocated, drowned, frozen, etc., in the privacy of the breeder's home or facility, and never have a chance. Of the 1500 or so that are dumped alive at the pound, in garbage cans and dumpsters, on the street or offered "for adoption" (sadly many are used as bait for dogfighting) on Craig's list, we are able to bring into the group around 100 a year, save perhaps that many again by assisting with placements in other parts of the country, and adopt out 60 to 80. We fight this fight every day and have done so for nearly 2 decades. It is time that people got outraged about this kind of cruelty, and ask their politicians to step up, regulate animal breeding, and made this kind of inhumane conduct illegal!'

As you read, some of these dogs have a fate worse than an early death. Blind/Deaf Aussies are favorite of people who run dog fighting operations. They find these dogs in shelters or more often on Craig's List and use them as bait because they don't know what's happening and can't fight back. That makes me sick to my stomach everytime I think about it or read about it because I have seen how Asha reacts when one of the other dogs gets annoyed and snaps at her. She gets this confused look on her face because she didn't see or hear the cues that they were annoyed with her. And that's what these sick monsters want.

The rarity of dogs like Asha is why it is so incredibly difficult to find information and help on how to raise her. So we do the best we can and hope that some day in the future, there won't be dogs like Asha and if there are - the people responsible will be punished and the dogs will have a safe, loving home to go to, instead of being drowned, shot or worse. We owe that to Asha's little brothers and sisters.

I encourage you to let yourself know the things you don't think you want to know. Once you do, you will find that you can't turn a blind eye anymore. When that time comes, the world will be a better place.
That's what Asha is dreaming about...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Pitbull Awareness Day

Today is National Pitbull Awareness Day and Maggie wants to celebrate! Her bag says "earth day, every day" but what she really means is "pitbull awareness day, every day"

We adopted Maggie for a local rescue group two years ago. Trevor fell in love with her profile picture. He especially loved her ears. He found her in a search for an Australian Shepherd. He wanted a dog he could run with. Maggie was listed as an Australian Shepherd - Greyhound Mix.

Maggie was 7 months old, she had been born to a stray dog who lived in someone's back yard. The people gave away all the other puppies, but kept Maggie in their back yard. They never named her and they would just throw food out to her - "the cheapest food" was what they put on the Humane Society intake form. Maggie was so scared of everything that she couldn't be kept in the shelter. She was placed in foster care.

Maggie spent a week in Foster care before we met her. When she arrived at her foster home, she wouldn't walk on a leash and she was scared of everything. Her foster family showed her love and patience. They had a big black Rottweiler who took Maggie under her wing and showed her how to be a dog.

At the time, I was working at The Oregonian and Trevor was working one of our stores. He started emailing me pictures of Maggie. We already had two dog and I wasn't really sure why he thought we needed a third. On a Saturday night we were sitting on the couch and Trevor texted me a picture of Maggie. I said "you are acting like I said we can't get her. If you want her, send in an application". So he did and the next day we went to meet Maggie. I knew we'd bring her home with us, we aren't the kind of people who look at a dog and don't fall in love.

When we got to the foster's home, they said "All day long, we've been telling Maggie that her people are coming". That made me want to cry. I sat and visited with Maggie. She was nervous and quiet, didn't really want any attention paid to her. We took her for a walk and then we brought her home. I cried as we pulled away from her Foster Parent's house because I couldn't believe they could let her go. I was so grateful to them for saving her and teaching her the things she needed to know.

She sat on Trevor's lap on the way home, not sure what was going on.
Our other two dogs - Opal and Wookie took right away to Maggie. Well, Opal did. Wookie didn't really care either way. We took them all for a walk so that they'd know she was part of our family now.

Maggie was quite a challenge for us. We hadn't taken into account the fact that she was a puppy. Plus she was scared. When she needed to go outside to go to the bathroom, we had to go with her. She was scared - so we would go stand in the middle of the yard, usually in the pouring rain. We did that for probably a month until she wasn't afraid anymore.

She LOVED to snuggle on the couch with us. She still does - she'll curl up right next to you, bury her head under the blanket and go right to sleep. She went everywhere with us and was very happy to do so.
After about a week, we noticed Maggie had a little bald patch on her paw. We asked our vet about it and the vet said "that's very typical of the pitbull breed." Trevor and I were like "excuse me?" and he said "oh yeah, she's a pitbull". We loved her already so we didn't care, but honestly I did wonder a bit. Pitbulls have a pretty bad reputation. But Maggie didn't have any of the characteristics that you think of when you hear pitbull. She wasn't aggressive or stand off-ish. She was not a fighter, that is for sure.

We didn't think much else about it. Every once in a while, people would be nervous around her. I had a customer and her 4 year old son come into the store one day when Maggie was there with me. Maggie walked over and wanted to meet her son. She got between Maggie and her son and was acting very afraid. I didn't know who was more scared - her or Maggie. That was the first time I realized that people could be afraid of her.

Maggie was very destructive as a puppy. She got into everything and tore it apart, but never any aggression. She was great at the dog park, great with people. We only ever saw any glimpse of dog aggression when she had a toy. She did not want any other dog to take her toy or her treat. When Wookie started to get sick, he didn't want anything to do with Maggie and that made Maggie so sad. All she wanted was to be Wookie's friend. He would growl at her and she would crawl over to him on her belly, get right in his face and roll over on her back while pawing at him. That's not dog aggression. Not even close. She was also very submissive to Opal.

I see so many stories about Pitbulls and how aggressive they are. I see lots of cities making it illegal to own a pitbull. It makes me sad because I don't believe there can be a bad breed of dogs. It has a lot to do with the owner. That goes for any sort of dog. For example, we know that Maggie was get upset when it comes to toys and treats - so we have removed these stimuli from her. We don't give any of our dogs toys when they are all together. It doesn't matter what kind of dog you have, you must know its temperment and act accordingly. There are lots of dogs out there who don't like kids or cats or other dogs. Not just Pitbulls. As a responsible owner, its your job to keep your dog safe. Our dog Opal was very aggressive towards small animals, so we kept her seperated from our cats for her whole life. She was a cattle dog.

I hear people say that pitbulls were bred to fight and that they aren't happy unless they are fighting. This is simply not true. From every dog fighting story I have ever read, the dogs were scared and submissive when they were rescued. Some dogs end up being killed because they won't fight. Most of the dogs who are rescued from these situations carry emotional scarring with them that is far worse than the physical scars.

Having Maggie as a part of our family has allowed my eyes to be opened to all the horrendous things that animals - especially pitbulls - endure. When I hear about these things, I look at Maggie and I think of them happening to her. I often hug her and tell her how sorry I am that humans can be so cruel. Most of the time, Maggie is a super happy dog. I don't know exactly what happened to Maggie before she came to live with us - but she is still, after two years, very nervous about certain things. If I am upstairs and I yell down to Trevor, Maggie cowers. If I kick something, Maggie cowers. If I throw a towel onto the floor, Maggie cowers. She is getting better, but the people who had her for the first 7 months of her life certainly didn't show her any love. We are making up for lost time on that one.
Our family is better because of Maggie. My heart is bigger because of Maggie and my life is full of happiness because of Maggie. I love this dog with everything I have, every piece of my being and I would do anything to keep her safe.

She thinks we should celebrate today. So we will. Maggie....we love you, always have, always will.

Here is great video that shows the history of Pitbulls. I especially love the story of Hector - one of Michael Vick's dogs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Blogger...Asha

Its been a little more than a month since my last post, so I figured it was time for an update.
here is my last post from September.

I've been living with my family for a little more than 3 months now and things just keep getting better. Honestly, the last time I posted, things were pretty tough around my house. I was a real handful, mom and dad couldn't figure out what I wanted and Maggie was getting pretty annoyed with me too. We were all really frustrated.

Mom and Dad were exhausted because I wouldn't sleep through the night, I wouldn't calm down during the day either. There was no rest for any of us. Mom slept on the bathroom floor with me for about three weeks. I really like the bathroom floor - its hard tile and its really cool. I don't think it felt so good to my mom, but she did it anyway because it made me feel less anxious. She would sit with me, pet me and sing to me while I tried to get to sleep. Then she would lay down just out of reach so that during the night if I woke up, she could reach out and touch me to calm me down. It worked most of the time.

I would have good days and bad days. I wouldn't let mom and dad put me in a kennel during the day like Maggie and Buster. So when they weren't home, I would be all by myself downstairs. Sometimes I'd get really bored. Mom and Dad left me all kinds of treats and toys, but sometimes, the wood molding just tastes good. Mom and Dad never got mad at me, they would just clean up after me and then move things around so I couldn't get to all the good tasting stuff....but I found new stuff to chew on. I'm pretty smart that way.

I don't pee or poop in the house anymore. Well, once in a while, maybe. Last time I posted, I was peeing in the house every day and pooping every now and then. I'm growing up now and big dogs don't do that. I can hold it unless my schedule gets really screwed up.

I was bugging Maggie ALOT back then. She would get really mad at me. Mom and Dad spent a lot of time making sure that Maggie would be behaved around me. It took about a two weeks, but now Maggie lets me do whatever I want. I'm a puppy and I like to play. Maggie is much more playful now and isn't so worried that I'll take her spot on the couch or eat her food. I bet when I grow up, Maggie will be my best friend. I get on her nerves, but I can tell that I'm growing on her. Buster gets mad sometimes too, but I'm bigger than him, so there isn't much he can do.

I was doing alot of barking back then and by alot, I mean all the time. We'd get up in the morning and while Mom, Dad, Buster and Maggie were trying to sit on the couch and have breakfast, I would run and bark. They kept getting up to get me and tried to keep me settled by them, but I couldn't settle down. Then, during the day, when Dad was trying to work at his desk, I'd run and bark. Later in the evening, when mom got home from work, I would wake up and run and bark. I'd usually lay down in the kitchen while everyone else was relaxing on the couch. I was too anxious to go be calm with the rest of the family.

My anxiety got really bad. The vet said my epilepsy can go hand in hand with anxiety. (By the way, I haven't had a seizure since I started taking my epilepsy medicine!) There were a couple nights in a row where I just couldn't relax. I was up all night panting, pacing and barking. Finally, one night, my mom got real worried about me - my heart was racing and I was really upset. None of her normal calming tricks worked. We went all night and hardly slept at all. I started peeing and pooping in the house a lot more. Mom called the vet and I got started on some anti anxiety medicine. Wow. What a difference that has made.

I met a new friend, Mom and Dad say she is our trainer. She comes to the house once a week and works on all kinds of fun stuff with us. I get real excited when she shows up because I always get ALOT of treats when she's there. All I have to do is sit and lay down. Or if I sit nice next to my Mom or Dad, I get some treats then too. I feel like my anti anxiety medicine lets me focus enough to learn new things. Just this week I learned how to sit and lay down without always having a treat. I am learning things by touch. Since I can't see or hear, we use touch signals. A touch on the head means sit, a touch under the chin means lay down. A pat on the side means "good dog". I like that one best. My trainer says that I'll be able to learn all kinds of things like sit, stay, lay down, shake. It makes me feel really proud that she sees all my potential. I am proud that she knows how smart I am, just because I can't see or hear doesn't mean I can't learn. It just means I learn in a different way and I need someone with patience to help teach me.

I've just about mastered bed time. When we first go up to bed, I like to get in bed and look for the kitties. Roxie is my favorite kitty. She's really soft. First I look under the bed for her, then I get up on the bed and look behind the bed. Sometimes she'll show me she loves me by swatting my face. I'll lay between my Mom and Dad - sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours. Then I'll get up and my Mom will lead me into the bathroom. Most nights I lay right down, she'll stay there with me for a couple minutes and then she gets back into her bed. I love that I can sleep by myself now. I'm a big girl. I really love that my mom can sleep in her bed and most nights we all sleep ALL night!!!

If I wake up in the middle of the night and think I want outside, I can usually be persuaded to get in bed with Mom and Dad instead. This morning, I woke up around 4 am and my mom guided me over to the bed. I jumped up there and layed down right next to her with my head on her pillow. I should get a pillow for the bathroom floor - the blankets are nice, but a! We slept until about 5:30 and then it was time to get up.

Evening time is when it really shows how I am maturing. (That's what my Dad says). Usually when Mom gets home, I am asleep on the couch. I either wake up on my own or Maggie and Buster wake me up. We go for a long walk and then we do chores to get ready for the next day. I don't run and bark like I used to. I either play with Buster and Maggie or I stay close to my Mom (she gives me treats when I stay right by her like a good girl). When Dad gets home, we all go into the TV room to relax. About a month ago, I started coming into the TV room on my own and laying on the floor. Now I will play with Maggie and Buster for a while and then I'll either settle down on the floor or get up on the couch with Mom or Dad. Then I go to sleep or just rest quietly until bedtime. Its really relaxing for all of us, its my favorite time of day....all the work is done and we get family time.

I am doing better in the mornings too. I like to play when everyone else is still waking up, but eventually I calm down and will sit for a bit while we watch the news. Then, Mom and Dad go away for a while (Maggie tells me they are upstairs in the workout room staying fit) and then we go for a long walk. We get walked twice a day - all the neighbor dogs are jealous - they bark at us when we go by.

Mid day is still an issue for me, I do most of my barking and running around then. I'm working on it and as I get older, I am getting better. Somedays when I am home alone, I don't bother anything, other days I go crazy and once I get my paws on something good, I tear it up. Mom never knows what she'll get when she comes home. In the last week, we've started something called "kennel training". I'm not really sure about it, I just know that I get the most amazing beef bone when we do this. Maggie and Buster tell me how great their kennels are - they love going in there, but I'm not so sure. I don't like to be penned up. I get scared and angry and Mom and Dad say they want to limit those feelings for me. I've been able to stay in my kennel for about an hour at a time. I bet that increases as I start to feel more comfortable. I know it will make my mom worry a lot less if I can be in there when I'm home alone.

I am really getting big. Every time we go to the vet I gain some weight. I'm bigger than Maggie now and I am so fluffy. I'll tell you a secret, the other day, I got poop in my fur. I couldn't get it out so my Mom and Dad gave me a bath and Mom pulled it out of my fur for me. She is the BEST. Who would do that for you except a Mom? My Dad is pretty awesome too. When we go for walks, he'll run with me for a while. I really like that - I feel so free and alive.

Mom and Dad take me places whenever they can. I LOVE to meet people. Everyone is my friend. When I smell someone new, my little tail will wag like crazy until I can find them. Then, when I do, I want to jump up on them and get to their face. We are working on that - not jumping. If I meet a lot of people in one day, I get tired and then I don't jump so much - its just too much work! People always want to know about me, why I look the way I do. Most often they ask if I am albino. Mom and Dad tell them about me and why I am this way. It always shocks people to hear that my breeder drowned my brothers and sisters. I can tell some people wonder how a deaf and blind dog can have any sort of life. Sadly, I think lots of people would probably have put me to sleep. But I show everyone I met that every creature has a purpose and even a blind/deaf/epileptic dog can have a great life. I want people to know that dogs like me deserve a chance.

I know it has taken an amazing amount of patience for us to have gotten this far. I am not an easy dog to deal with. I admit it. I'm still a puppy, for heaven's sake. Sometimes I don't know how we do it. My mom says she's not a patient person and sometimes she isn't, but most of the time, she and my dad are super patient with me. We have some more work to do, that's for sure. Hopefully by the time I blog again next month I will be kennel trained and not destroying so many things. I also really hope that my running and barking will continue to get less and less. I know those two things really make Mom and Dad nuts, so I've got it on my goal sheet. We made a goal sheet to give to our trainer, things we want to work on. Mom left it on the counter and I ate it. So now I just keep mental notes of my goals.

I love my family and I know they love me. My Mom was having a hard time seeing the progress I was making, so she started to keep a journal for me. Now when she feels like things aren't getting better, she can read back in the journal and realize that things are getting lots better. Its all relative. There was a time where she said she would be happy if I would just sleep through the night - most nights I do, then she said she'd be happy if I woulnd't bark when she got home at night - most nights I don't. When I get better, she expects more of me, I guess that's part of growing up! I can't wait to see what kind of progress I make over the next month, I'll be sure to report it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Its decided

Back in September, I posted about our decision to do the Columbia Gorge Marathon. Here is that post.

Shortly after I convinced Trevor to do the marathon, we went on our first long run - 18 miles I believe. About two miles into that run I thought "what have I done?" I was just not feeling it. I was tired and sluggish, I wasn't excited about running any distance, I was tired and sore. I walked most of the last two miles of that run - that is totally not like me, I may slow down, but I rarely walk during a training run. I commented several times to Trevor that we could do the half marathon or we could not do it at all. Trevor kept saying "no, you convinced me to do it, so I"m doing it". I couldn't let him do it alone, that's now how we do things. So I continued on with our training.

We did a half marathon a couple weeks ago and it was great! I felt strong and enjoyed it. It has been years since we did a stand alone half marathon and it was really fun. This made me realize again that I didn't want to do the full marathon.

We kept on training, I needed new shoes, but didn't buy any. I kept putting it off. My body had been aching. I spent three weeks sleeping on the bathroom tile floor with Asha and my back was really hurting. Some days, I could barely stand up straight when I got up in the morning. After our 20 miler, where I felt like I was running barefoot because my shoes were so bad, my feet started to hurt. They hurt in a way that they have never hurt before. It hurt to stand, it hurt to sit, it hurt to walk. It just hurt. We got massages every week for a few weeks and that helped, but man...did they hurt. I got new shoes and that helped, but I just felt crappy. Again, my runs were not fun, I was stressing about this marathon and how bad it was going to hurt.

The last few Sundays have been great. We do our long runs on Saturday and then on Sundays have been spending the day with the dogs. We take them for a long walk, then relax on the couch with a fire going. I REALLY want to do that this Sunday. If we run the marathon, we'll be away from home from 7 am to 3 or 4 pm and when we get home, I'll be tired and sore and we won't get any time with the dogs.

I am going to visit Grammie next weekend and so I want to spend as much time as I can with Trevor and the dogs. Asha is just starting to be a good girl and I want to get as much of that as I can.

So you see...this marathon thing was just seeming to be a really bad idea and I have no one to blame but myself. We haven't signed up yet, so today I was finally able to convince Trevor that we should not do it. I was wrong, I shouldn't have convinced him in the first place. He said "This is a good lesson". Well, I'm sure it is, but for now I am just happy that I get to spend Sunday doing feel good things instead of something hard that will hurt!! Yay for Sunday's at home with the family. The doggies will be so happy to hear about this!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Kennel, Kennel"

I was talking to a friend today and telling him about our Asha and all the mayhem that has ensued since her arrival at our home. As I was telling him, he said "You can't make this shit up". I told him how exhausted we have been, overwhelmed, wondering what the hell we got ourselves into, how we can survive this, is this our new normal? He and his wife had twins about 18 months ago and he said "you just described how I feel every single day". It was good to know that I am not alone. So many times, I feel like the rest of the world has it together and wonder what is wrong with me because I don't.

I read an article about the Mayor of New York and his dogs, how one day, they got out of their gated area in the kitchen and destroyed things. Its nice to hear that even powerful people can't control their dogs all of the time.

When I stop and really think about it, we have made HUGE progress with Asha. She sleeps through the night, doesn't pee and poop so much in the house, is calm in the mornings and in the evenings and is doing pretty well on walks. She still barks uncontrolably during certain times of the day and can be very destructive when we leave her at home alone.

Our other two dogs are crate trained. They LOVE their crates. When its time for bed or for us to leave, we say "kennel, kennel" and they run to go upstairs, go right into their kennels and lay down. I love that about them. I don't have to worry about leaving them alone, they are content to be in their kennels whenever necessary. I know that they are safe there.

Asha, well, she's a different story. When we first brought her home, 3 months ago, we attempted to put her in a kennel. She went nuts. One of the big issues she had in the shelter and in foster care was her anxiety - she would spin in a tight circle and bark like crazy. We worked very hard to break her of that habit. When we put her in the crate or in a smaller room like the bathroom or laundry room, she would start the spinning again. It seemed that any progress we would make with her would go away after she was confined. We decided it would be better to let her roam free than to cause her any more damage. She was also having seizures and the anxiety seemed to be a trigger.

Its been three months and it is really time to get her crate trained. There are several reasons for that - the first is the amount of destruction she has done in our home. Its not her fault, its totally our fault. I know that and it actually makes me feel worse about it. I just didn't know what to do about it. I've talked before about all the things she has done. For about a week she did great, no destruction. Then, last week, the full moon came and it set her off (at least that is what I am blaming). She started chewing on things again. So I sprayed all her favorite spots to chew with bitter apple. That made her angry and so she found new things to chew on. Last night I came home and she had torn the molding off the laundry room door and moved it into the TV room to chew on the ends. It was an 8 foot long piece of wood. I need a camera at home to see how these things happen.

I worry about her safety more than anything. Our stuff is just our stuff, sure I'd prefer it not be destroyed, but I really prefer that Asha stay safe.

We have a dog trainer who comes once a week and today we started to work on crate training. Our trainer believes it should be pretty easy to get Asha comfortable with being in her crate. After our first session today, I believe that too. It will take time, but I feel like it is possible.

Training is actually pretty awesome for Asha. We take a bone, a super yummy special bone and she only gets it when she is in the kennel. That makes the kennel a happy place for her, not a punishment. We put her in there with her bone for 10 or 15 minutes at a time and when she wants out, she gets out. We did that a couple times today and it seemed to work well. I am also hoping that the time spent focused solely on chewing that bone will exhaust her chew muscles and so she won't have to chew on the woodwork, wires, books, picture frames, etc.

Here she is in her spacious kennel, if you look closely you can see she has her bone and the door isn't shut.
These are just the first steps, there's lots more work to do.

I worry about her. Heck, I worry about all of them. I don't want any of our animals to be sad or lonely for even a second. I know that's not realistic, but that's my goal - total happiness. We are getting closer to that, it is just requiring a lot of work. Now that we have asked for help and have a great dog trainer, I believe the progress will come much more quickly. Asha will never be able to hear us say "kennel, kennel" like the other two, but we'll come up with a sign for that and hopefully she'll run to get in her kennel too. To me, that would be a dream come true....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

364 days

364 days....that's how long I have been without my sweet Gussie. Our cat, Gus, died a year ago tomorrow. Not a day has gone by when I haven't thought of him, missed him and longed for one more minute with him.

Its been 18 months since we said goodbye to our dog Wookie and six months since we said goodbye to our other dog Opal. I miss all three of them terribly. I am certainly occupied with our 6 current pets and I love them all tremendously, but that doesn't mean that I don't miss the love and companionship of those original 3.

I've really been missing Gus alot these last couple weeks - knowing that its been just about a year and finding it impossible to believe that much time has passed, I feel like we just said goodbye. I loved that cat more than I think I have ever loved anyone in all my life. He was my family for 11 years and he loved me like no other.

I know that he'd be beside himself with all the activity going on in our house right now. He would HATE Asha because she messes with our sleep and the one thing Gus loved was sleeping on my pillow. He would have given Asha the stink eye, constantly, for disrupting that.

The only good luck that Gus ever had was being adopted by me. His life before me was full of strife and his life with me was full of illness and uncertainty. The one thing that was constant was my love for him. I would have done anything to keep him safe and healthy. Our vet always said that Gus would have died years ago if it weren't for us and our willingness to do what needed to be done in order to give him a great life.

When we were close to making the decision to let him go, I wrote this:

When the time comes, I will make the decision and it will break my heart. I will let him go, but part of me will go with him. I have loved him every minute since I first saw him and I will love him forever.

It was true then, its true now.