Sunday, October 4, 2015

Slim Grows Up

Last June I met an adorable little orphaned raccoon. Some of you may recall my post on this masked sweetie.

Well, over the weekend I attended a spectacular bonfire and feast. Can you imagine who showed up? I promise there hasn't been a more popular guest at any party since Cinderella arrived at the ball.

Slim stole the show. He's now five months old and curious as a cat. I'm pretty sure more photos and videos were taken yesterday than would have been shot if Madonna appeared in her metallic bra.

A little spooked by all the fanfare, Slim scooted up the tallest tree to observe the star-struck crowd. He refused to come back down, despite increasingly frantic calls from his foster "Dad". It took more than 3 hours before Slim finally decided to descend. "Dad" took the unruly adolescent home where he presumably was grounded.

There will soon come a time when Slim will hear the call of the wild, and leave home to find a wife and start a family of his own. I think his "Dad" is going to have a tough time letting him go.

With plenty of food, a warm drink, and wonderful friends, who could ask for more on a crisp October night?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Dog's Life

Last weekend, my son, DIL, their pup Brady, and I participated in Trails for Tails, a fundraising event to benefit Five Acres Animal Shelter. Some of you may remember last year when we caught up with David Backes (team captain of the St. Louis Blues Hockey team) at this event. David and his wife, Kelly serve on Five Acres' Board of Directors. Sadly, we didn't get to see "The Man" this year.

A large and enthusiastic crowd turned out.

Our little group bravely started the 5K together, but Brady quickly grew weary of going the distance. He planted his butt on the trail and refused to move another step. We didn't give up. Instead we decided to carry on to the finish line.

Carry the dog on to the finish line, that is. He rode in style, with each of us taking a turn staggering along the path while carrying 24 pounds of Cairn Terrier. We finished dead last.

I think you can officially call Brady a very pampered pup.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Life After Retirement

"Hey, if you're so interested in digging, how about taking care of the litter box?"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

No Ordinary Dog

I recently read No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The Pulitzer prize winning book tells the story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II. The Roosevelt presidency is fascinating. He and Eleanor's partnership equally so. But of course, one of my favorite small pieces in the book dealt with  Roosevelt's Scottish Terrier, Fala.

Fala came to Roosevelt as a gift from his cousin and it wasn't long before the little dog and the president were inseparable. Fala got a bone every day and Roosevelt often hand fed him. During the dark days of war, I imagine Fala's antics came as a welcome distraction in the president's life.

Fala got to hang out with other important people, too. There are photographs of him with Winston Churchill, the president of Mexico, and yes, even Ed Sullivan. Roosevelt once used Fala in a clever speech to poke fun at stories circulating about the costs of Fala traveling with the president. The speech effectively endeared him to the people and put his political opponents straight in the dog house.

After President Roosevelt passed away, Fala never seemed quite the same. Eleanor told a poignant story about Eisenhower coming to visit. Fala heard the sirens from the police escort accompanying the president. His ears perked up and he raced to meet the motorcade. Eleanor is certain Fala thought his master was returning home at last.

Fala's story is so entwined with the president's he was even memorialized with his master.

Fala died 7 years after Roosevelt at the ripe age of 12. He is buried next to the president and first lady at Hyde Park. For other charming photographs of Fala and FDR, click here.

Loyalty and utter devotion. Whether president, prince, or pauper, who can deny the connection between people and dogs?

"You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog."
                                                 ~Harry S. Truman

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Time is It?

I can't tell you how many times I used to glance at the clock throughout my working day. It often felt like one minute took 20 minutes to pass. This week marks my third full week of retirement. Funny how things have changed. I get up and before I know it, the day is over. When evening arrives I ask myself-What did you accomplish today? What did you check off your "to-do" list?

Well, today I organized the pantry. Sounds like no big deal until I tell you my pantry is empty but the trash can is bursting at the seams. What an eye opener to discover canned goods that expired in 2010. Needless to say I didn't get around to the 6 other things I hoped to do, but at least I've saved the household from an emergency trip to a medical center.

Bogey has his own schedule. Eat, rest, play, nap, stretch, play, rest, eat, sleep. For that matter, the visiting grand-dogs follow pretty much the same routine. So far not one of them have reported any dissatisfaction with their lives to me. Are grandiose plans overrated?

Perhaps it's time to worry less about my list and more about doing what I can without sweating the little things. If a task is critical, I'll get it done. If not...well, as Scarlett O'Hara once famously said, "Tomorrow is another day".

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

You Say Potato and I Say Potah-toh

Tonight starts the first night of Fall bowling. Why it's called Fall bowling is a mystery to me. Every- Month-of-the-Year-Except-June-and-July bowling would be more accurate. But I suppose that's a potato/potah-toh kind of thing.

No matter the name. It will be interesting to discover what happens when I lace up my bowling shoes. After two months of no practice, having a bowling ball in my hand could prove to be dangerous for anyone near me. Perhaps it would be wise to wear a warning sign.

Things are interesting at my house. I've been dog sitting for both my kids this week. Even though the dogs do generally fine, in loyal doggie fashion they always listen for "Mom" or "Dad" to come back and take them home. 

Ever vigilant, Brady watches the door.

Tinker Bell does, too.

And there's one other critter at my house who also will be extremely pleased to see Mom or Dad arrive.

They eat my food and scavenge my litter box. The scent of cat poo breath is making me gag. When will those filthy barking beasts go home

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Little Guy

Shortly after I received Indy's ashes, I pondered over what would be the right urn for him. I couldn't find anything locally and so I launched an internet search. There were many places to look, but how to choose? Then I discovered a company called Blue Ribbon Memorials. It had several reviews that reflected well on the company's customer service. I found a wooden urn on their site that I liked. But my decision was sealed when I saw the names of the owners...John and Eunice. My parents' names! I knew this would be the right company for me to use.

After placing the order, I had a question and sent it to them via email. The email included my phone number, and I'm not exaggerating when I say John, the company owner, called me within 15 minutes. I was very impressed with his prompt response and his kindness is talking to me about Indy. I would recommend them to anyone.

Here is the urn that is now sitting on the nightstand right next to my bed. The top has Indy's picture etched into a slice of black granite.

The front has this plaque:

I look at Indy's memorial and it reminds me of a lovely testament written by playwright Eugene O'Neill after the death of his beloved Dalmatian, Blemie. The title of the piece is "The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog". Here's a link to the entire piece, but I will quote only the final few lines:

"Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved". No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."

I know my own extremely distinguished dog's little tail is wagging in agreement. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Little More

I haven't bought the book, but I'm living the dream. It sometimes seemed as if the day would never arrive, but guess what? On August 5, I made my final drive home from work and am now officially retired.

Despite the retirement luncheon (lovingly referred to by co-workers as my Last Supper), and a lovely retirement dinner with family and friends, things haven't quite sunk in yet. Truth be told, so far it only feels like I'm on vacation. You know, when you tack a couple of PTO days to the weekend and just relax? However, relaxing hasn't entered the picture. I've been scrambling to work on a to-do list of projects as though my time-off hours were dwindling to a precious few. I wonder if Chapter 1 of the above book deals with moving down a notch from the level of manic panic? Maybe I should buy the book after all.

I am excited. Retirement is the beginning of a whole new life chapter which I hope to tackle little by little. In other words, I'll write a little more, read a little more, accomplish a little more, and enjoy life a little more. Sigh. Sounds like the perfect plan, doesn't it?

"Gainfully unemployed. Very proud of it, too."
                                          ~Charles Baxter

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dogs Who Love to Float

There's nothing like a beautiful day on the river...especially if you're a dog. We just returned from a float trip down the crystal clear White River in southern Missouri. I could not believe the number of dogs in attendance.

We saw a 10 week old Portuguese Water Dog on her very first float trip. That little fur ball pawed at the water and paddled her way from person to person like a champ.

There was a mixed breed hound dog who, after becoming bored from a sand bar stop, jumped back in the canoe and barked at her human companion as though to say, "Okay, now put down that beer and let's get paddling!"

My favorite, though, was a Great Pyrenees who sat tall and majestic in the front of a canoe, calmly watching the scenery go by. He/she (not sure which) could have been a model for how Lewis and Clark's famous dog, Seaman, must have looked while they were on expedition. Totally awesome.

Along the 7 mile float, there were three springs that fed the river. At one of the springs, cold water poured in giving an air-conditioned feeling to the atmosphere. The temperature near the spring must have dropped by at least fifteen degrees...a most refreshing circumstance on a 90+ degree day.

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to float. Especially when you're paddling down a gorgeous river on a beautiful day, meeting lots of new friends...with both two feet and four.

Can we go again next weekend?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

PSA for Today

In the eastern central part of Missouri where I live, we seldom see armadillos. They're southern critters, native to areas where it's hot and steamy. However, armadillos are apparently expanding their territory. I can verify this as I've seen one not very far from where I live. Most of the time, armadillos in these parts are only spotted by the side of the road. They tend to fall victim to unfortunate encounters with cars. Apparently when they're startled, armadillos jump straight up in the air. This is not a good traffic tactic.

In any event, these almost prehistoric looking animals, are definitely coming our way. I filed away this fact as no more than an interesting observation, until I read a story recently on Facebook. I couldn't believe what I saw and fact-checked, only to find out it's all too true.

Armadillos carry leprosy. That's right, leprosy. When's the last time leprosy crossed your mind? I honestly hadn't even thought about it since my Sunday School days. Or around Easter when I indulge in my annual viewing of the musical, "Jesus Christ Superstar".

It seems Florida has seen a spike in leprosy cases. And each case diagnosed this year occurred after a person had contact with an armadillo. Holy zoonotic diseases!

Since they're obviously coming our way, here's my public service announcement to you. Don't touch armadillos. Don't try to trap armadillos (they spit). And definitely, don't eat armadillos. I don't care if they do taste like pork.

That is all. You're welcome.