Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Daily Dickens: This Just In!!!!

I have repeatedly tried to scale this thing that my Lady and Her Lady sit.  I have tried running jumps, only to fall short (hey, it's not easy with 6 inch legs!).  I have smacked my noggin' as a result of dashing to climb onto this thing.  Heck, my Lady even picked me up to give me a good belly scratch and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to get down.

Then, this morning in a fit of determination and force, I surveyed the height, calculated the distance for a suitable start, and raised my tail.

Tada!  (Sorry for the blurry picture, by my Lady caught it as I landed!)

See ya! Time for my nap!


The Daily Dickens: Drenched

Last night's weather involved water, lotsa water. 

Dickens stayed true to house training the first two times out the door, but the third time he put his paws down.  "Not goin'.  Not doin' this."  He immediately turned to go back inside.  I placed a "wee wee" pad down in the bathroom and he performed beautifully.  His defiance actually made me feel good for once. He recognized this house as his den. A place that's warm and cozy. 

Mom offered to hold Dickens as I toweled him off.  Bless her heart the last thing she needed was a squirming wet puppy in her lap.  That rain led to his first encounter with a blow dryer.  He barked at it and ran around making shriek sounds that I'd never heard. 

After, I wrapped him a blanket to ensure a warm puppy.  He eventually attempted to shred the blanket, but it was a foiled attempt.

He balked a little at bedtime, but eventually he gave in for the night.

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Sentiments Exactly!

This just in from a friend of mine:

This photo captures the essence of 1) being a caregiver, and 2) being a dog steward (I hate the word "owner" in this context for some reason.)

"The Little Doggie" as my mother calls him never ceases to show his feelings, good or bad.  Having stewardship over a dog does have its fair share of responsibilites, usually cost-attached, but the spirit of Dickens being here has helped my mother in some small measure and helps me get through each day.  His energy abounds until it runs out and then watching him sleep reminds me that the world can be a beautiful place. 

My dog's mind doesn't fret about elections, connive evil ways to throw out votes, doesn't delve in ways to make the world worse.  Dickens reminds me of the newness of each day.  The awesomeness of chasing a falling leaf, of finding that perfect stick, of meeting people for the first time with joy and exhuberance. 

If only we humans did that imagine the transformation?

The Daily Dickens: Meeting Katie

My dear friend Katie stopped by last night so I could present her with a very belated birthday gift - Dancing Dogs by Jon Katz.  She, too, has a dog and an incredible insight into animals. 

Although socialization is a HUGE aspect of bringing up a puppy, Dickens can be too social as he expresses his excitement a la mouth, rather than licks of hello.  He also shows his delight  in another way, being male, which can be off-putting.  (If ya know what I mean!).

I needn't have worried.  Dickens showed himself in fine form by kissing Katie and showing his exhuberance.  He should.  She returned his greeting  with back and belly scratches.  The scene pleased me to no end.  Katie's an amazing lady as is her mother.  I'm lucky they've included me in their family.  Truly blessed.

Katie took a few shots of Dickens in action.  Here they are:

Photos above and below courtesy Katie D.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Willing

A Fine Young Pup


The Daily Dickens: Training

As Dickens sits in "Puppy Prison," aka the bathroom for getting mouthy (no he didn't talk back, he used me as a bully bone), I have a moment to post this morning's training session.  It's from noted Positive Training Guru Pat Miller.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dickens Digest: Pup Stuff

I haven't had this pup for even a month, but as I look back on our relationship I've realized some very important lessons:

Lesson #1-Toys:  The dog toy manufacturers are going to hate me for this, but nothing makes my dog happier than a stick.  He'll carry a stick around for hours while ignoring those expensive "guaranteed your dog loves it" products.

Lesson #2 - Rest:  This little guy has the heart of a lion (or a Scotsman, but I digress).  In our early days he'd go and go until he got whacky bitey and running near empty.  Anything for his human to a point, then he bit back.  I've learned that living this life entails the same kind of willingness; however, we humans also have to "bite back" when our health declines or our mental state requires sleep.  I've "biten back" for my mother and father, but this little guy's teaching me to do so for myself.

Lesson #3-Challenges:  Dickens looks for challenges.  He bores easily.  He wants to know the next hill (chair) to climb.  He likes to be engaged in life.  If a toy doesn't amuse him, he'll find something that does.

Lesson #4-Socialize:  Folks have remarked to me that they've never seen an animal go so over the top at meeting strangers...human and canine.  He's not afraid to show he cares.

Lesson #5-Don't Overindulge:  Too many treats spoil the stomach.  Savor each morsel as if it were your last.

Lesson #6-Pay Attention:  There might be something special right in front of you.

Lesson#7-Explore:  Leave no stick, rock, or leaf unexplored.  Live.

Lesson#8-Play Nicely with Others:  Yesterday, Dickens had a mini-playdate with a Norwegian Elkhound named Brady.  Dickens came to the meeting at full throttle nipping, biting, and trying to climb up on Brady.  The Elkhound turned his back on him in a "Forget it, kid, your outta your leagu stance."   Canine mothers usually subdue bratty behavior with a paw, packs ignore the offending dog until he comes around. 

Lesson #9-Ask and Listen:  Dickens now asks for a snack, to go to the bathroom, or for his stuffed rabbit.  He always pauses during his rant to listen to see if I'll respond to his plea.

Lesson #10-No matter what don't forget to lick someone you love.  Throw you paws around the human and look up longingly, when she picks you up lick like there's no tomorrow. 

Rocksalot Urban Farm: Fall Preparation

Fall's official arrival date is fast approaching, but winter prep has been underway for a few weeks.

Kale still stands proudly in the garden waiting to be baked or blanced and frozen.  Beans dry.  Sage, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme and Mint await their time on the drying rack.  Tomatoes processed and frozen.  Winter storm windows came down.  The furnace cranks to keep Mom warm and toasty (not an easy thing to do when medications drive you to a sweater in 100 degree weather). 

High on my list is pruning.  The back yard has "jungle" written all over it.  Taking care of Mom and Dad over the summer has put me way behind.  Now I need to catch up and fast.  The blackberry bushes, honeysuckle, and currents all require my attention.  The yard itself longs for a good, old-fashioned weedwhack.  The sheds need to be reorganized and doors replaced to diswayed unwanted varmints.

It sounds so very overwhelming, but when I'm out there, covered in dirt, smelling the sweet earth, I feel a oneness with the earth.  It's done its job all summer, but I'm tasked with keeping the soil sweet with compost and laying the straw to protect tender roots for the spring to come.

The hardest task emotionally for me has to be cleaning out the sheds.  Dad built them a number of years ago.  Painted on the walls are heraldic shields that he took hours upon hours to craft.  They, too, are a part of this land.  A part of home that says, "I was and am here."  Perhaps it is good to launch into this cleanup, not to get it over and done with, but to face my loss head-on.  To admit to myself that no matter what I did in the last few months the battle could never be won.  Never save him from passing.  That time also led up to a season of eternal rest. 

All in all I believe I'm afraid of another form of shedding...of tears that sit right at the edge that I bat back telling myself there are important things to do.  That I do not have time to mourn.  Fall brings many revelations to me.  It always happens.  Winter preparation has a deeper meaning to me this year.  Ecclesiastes had it right, it just feels that everything has happened within the same timeframe; nonetheless this verse speaks to me of Fall. 
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Starting to Stroll

Unfortunately, the batteries on my camera gave up, but here's a little snippet of Dickens in action.


The Daily Dickens: Sittin' Pretty

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today marks my mother's 89th birthday!  It's a hard birthday because it's her first without my father.  When I wished her a great day, she had a hard time acknowledging the beginning of her 89th year.  My heart broke for her.

Mom loves politics.  She listens to the radio or watches the news channels for the latest turns in this election year.  She's undecided whether she going to vote this time which is totally unlike her.  I think I know why she feels this way - she feeding into political tactics.

Lately there's been alot on the radio about voter registration...about negating votes...about treating fellow citizens as aliens, rather than citizens.  A local political situation arose as a candidate charged the incumbent with voter fraud (but didn't make the charge until the challenger decided to run for office).  A man in Ohio plans to negate over 730,000 votes.  A mid-western attorney general making up his own laws to turn voters away.

Is this really the way to win an election?  Can this party be so insecure that the only way they feel they have a shot is to minimize voting.  In my humble opinion, it's a cheap way to win.  It's the sign of a very weak platform.  I'd rather win because my vision demonstrates my strength, not on a technicality.  I'd rather win because I've convinced the American people, all the American people, that I'll work for a better way, not because everyone going to the polls will be treated like an illegal alien. 
Such recent action by the party-in-question excludes entire segments of our society.  What about the elderly in nursing homes?  What about those who don't drive?  The message I'm hearing in all this reads like "If we eliminate people's right to vote, we'll win."  That's a really sideways message.  It's not a solid way to win.  It's scary. 

So, in November I'll take my mother to the polls to cast her ballot.  No one from either party has the right to take away her vote.  She's voted in every election during her 89 years and no one, no way, no how has the right to rob her of her right to vote.  She's earned the right, she's entitled to it, and has (and is) a good citizen.

Happy Birthday, Mom, I've got your back.  

The Daily Dickens: My Little Man!

Could it be that Dickens and I have formed a truce of the non-chewable kind?  Could it be that more naps, training, and hugs outweighed his Cujo personna?

Yesterday proved to be a first great day with Dickens.  Truly memorable.  He gave his "bathroom" whine at 5:45 AM, did his business promptly, and settled in his crate for breakfast.  In 45 minutes, the bathroom whine sounded, he had his morning constitutional and snoozed for another hour.  When he woke, another bathroom break followed by some play and training.  That cycle continued through dinner.

We expected a storm with strong winds.  The winds picked up around 5 PM just as we enjoyed a post-dinner walk.  I didn't know how this little man would react to such weather.  He amazed me as he sat under a tree trying to catch the wind in his mouth (and, for once, not looking for my hand to chomp).  He'd open his mouth and bite down at the wind gusts.  I swear he smiled into the wind.  Maybe the weather equated to more leaves to chase.

This morning wasn't too bad either.  He got mouthy earlier, but now he sleeps peacefully in his crate.  After that we'll play and train.

Happy human, happy puppy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Training

Training a dog can be complicated.  Really complicated.  It's not only the sit, stay, come here, and other commands to keep one's dog safe and secure.  Training is much more than that.  Sometimes, I'm not too certain that we're getting to that magical place where the dog senses what I need him to do versus the Pavlovian "have treat, will behave" mentality. 

Teaching a dog means sharing the love.  Letting go of what I hoped this dog could do, but living in constant amazement as his personality emerges.  What makes Dickens Dickens?  Learning that I have to dig deep to be open to what this little working wonder can do.  By our trainer's assessment, this is one smart puppy, he can go further in his training.  The operative question being, can I?

Cairn terriers are a feisty bunch.  If they don't get what they want when they want it, they resort to teeth.  Feeling like I had hit upon a dog with behavior problems, I turned to friends, relatives, and others to determine where I had gone wrong.  Dickens' fang fetish felt like a defeat.  How had I failed myself and my dog?  Wasn't he supposed to walk out of the crate equiped with all the canine social graces people love?

The answers to my questions turned out to be moot.  This little bundle resorts to what he knows, just as I do.  That's why we (and I do mean "we") are in training.  We are learning from each other as well as the trainer.  We are setting boundaries, i.e., if you go to bite, I'm going to growl at you, give you a time out, or start wearing a bitter apple sprayed glove.  My boundaries are if you sit when asked, keep your fangs away from me, and  remember that I love you, we'll be fine.

On this beautiful early Fall morning, Dickens took his first walk around the block as part of his "loose leash training."  He did well.  Converselly, he decided to yank his blanket from his crate upending his water dish.  One task received praise, the other, well, guess the water dish taught him a lesson.

We are also learning to trust each other.  Dickens is a willing pup, but he doesn't understand that he needs rest as well as reward.  Late this morning he threw up and sent this PupMom into despair.  I'm learning his limits.  We think we can keep going ad infinitum, but he needs his rest as do I.  Perhaps in the learning, we'll learn to protect each other's health, sanity, and spirit.

We are both still puppies in this story.  Just puppies.

The Daily Dickens: The Day Off

Yesterday, my little Dickens got a workout at obediance school.  He got so excited during class, which included handling skills, sitting greeting, and loose leash training.  He fell sound asleep on the ride home.

Dickens got really nippy/growly by the end of the day.  He's a willing pup, but he needs some down time.  He needs a fair measure of crate time to recuperate from all the changes this little pup has endured.

Today is Dicken's day off.  It's Mom's day off and yours truly might just kick back a tad to rest.

We all need it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Daily Dickens: A Little Pot

I admit I went over the top when Dickens entered our family.  Nylobones for chewing, Greenies for dental health, a fetch ball, organic treats, organic dog food, etc., etc.,

So imagine my dismay when canine contentment boiled down to this:

A flower pot.  A 20-cent flower pot.



Friday, September 14, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Loose Leash?

Thought I'd share one of this morning's walk with you.  Dickens is a 6 AM pup who knows that breakfast comes after the walk.

The downside to this sojourn:  Dickens likes to do his business in the MIDDLE of the road.  Thankfully, I've only had to drag him to the side once (this isn't usually a busy street), but we working on "getting busy" on the SIDE of the road.

Tomorrow's our second round of training.  He hasn't done too badly with "Sit" and "Watch Me."  Truly he thinks he's the pack leader when it comes to the walk.  He's between harness sizes, so we're hoping a proper harness comes our way soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Daily Dickens

As this little one has become such a part of my mother's and my life, I thought I'd share the antics of my scrappy Scottish lad with you all.

Dickens hails from Idaho.  Born on a farm to Martins Buster (no joke) and Martins Daffodil (I can't make this stuff up).  Dickens came to us via a pet store well visited by yours truly and let's just say the boy and I had eyes for each other. 

My list of "musts" included intelligence (his, not mine), a even disposition (again, his, not mine) and size mattered.  Dickens had competition.  A "come hither" stare came from a poodle puppy who desperately ran around the "meeting room" to the point I became very, very dizzy.  Too much pep in the poodle knocked the poor little one out of the running once Dickens strutted his stuff.  After being caged up for who-knows-how-long, he settled.  He checked me out for a while, then decided a rope bone offered more promise.  That's what I wanted, a dog who could be in a relationship with a human, but wasn't afraid to amuse himself.

Mom says he's adorable and I know with age he'll calm even more.  He's teething so Dickens and Mom keep their distance.  In fact, Dickens mistook me for a Milk Bone and off to obedience school we went (first class last week).  House training has been more hit than miss.  He has my heart (which is alot better than my pant leg, which he took particular delight in chomping.  He's been to the vet.  Get's two more shots next month.  He has his flea and tick med.  Gobbled a peanut butter covered heartworm med, so we are good to go!

As of today, Dickens responds to the commands "Sit" and "Watch Me."  When he's in "puppy mind" an atom bomb could explode and he'd ignore it.  We're working on it. 

I leave you now with a pretty poor shots of Dickens at play. Please know it's tough to walk a dog whilst looking through a viewfinder!

Hello, World!
Dickens discovers a stick with a headlight!
Such fun!


The Secret Longing

Sometime in one's life one has to a yield to that secret longing, that tug within that needs to be explored no matter what's going on at the time.  Periods of joy.  Periods of sadness.  Lord, knows I've resisted...ignored...dismissed this idea for a long, long time, but two weeks ago, I gave in to that inner call.   

I'd been researching for what seems like an eternity.  Through sleepless nights.  As I watched television.  Engaging perfect strangers to ask vital questions.  Emailing, texting, or telephoning experts with the questions du jour.  I stalled by telling myself I didn't want to care for anything else.  Not even a goldfish.  Asking myself if after all I've been through if I had finally "slipped a nut." 

On August 30, 2012 the answer became clear to me.  Plain as the nose on my face.  I knew it when I woke up.  A new beginning.  A new energy.  A different, but deep relationship.

So, without further ado, may I present...



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fall 2012

It's here.  Finally.  At least I think it's here. 

Welcome Autumn 2012.  May you enjoy a long, colorful, warm stay.

Last weekend's storm felt as if it'd never leave.  It had summer written all over it.  Rain.  Wind.  Humidity.  Sopping humidity.  A storm that lasted all weekend.  As those clouds swirled above us, who would think it  packed up summer, lock, stock, and barrel; winging it's way to the Southern Hemisphere.

To wake up to the crisp, cool air that signals Autumn's arrival, my soul looks to nights snuggled under quilts, hot cups of tea, and knitting while Mom watches television and our newest family member snoozes at my feet.  (More on that later.)

Autumn.  My winter preparation time.  My technicolor time.  My healing time. 

O sweet Autumn, you've always been my best friend.