Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Devil

On Christmas Eve 2011, it will be three months since I lost Devil. Smiling Red Devil with Boots of Silver, my D, my favorite. Thus far, I have not been able to write any piece of this end story, as the hurt runs so deep. We lost Flare last spring, then Willy the cat, then TinkerBelle, but when we lost D, something broke inside of me. He was my second Siberian, and he filled our house with so much life. We never knew him as old, although he was at least 11 or 12. He was always just our D, our policeman, our favorite. This is the dog who had dozens and dozens of near death fights with Sparky, my first Siberian and the spoiled rotten king of the house. I have written of when they met. And now, there will be no more fights, no more shouting at each other, no more growling and carrying on with each other. There is something terribly amiss in my household, with my Devil gone. That fateful day, the last thing he did before he was led out of the exam room, was to pull back from Rhonda, and shove his head between my legs, to say goodbye, or to say, "I don't want to go!" I replay that moment where I loved him up for the last time, feeling that big furry neck once more between my hands. I asked Rhonda if there was anything to worry about, but of course not. He was fine, except for those mineralized ball bits in his stomach that were making him sick, and except for the terrible damage done to his neck and spine over the years from those awful fights. But he had just played with his ball, he gave us toothy kisses, he barked like a seal for his dinner. He policed the house dogs and came over to me for loving. D was another one of my dogs that did not like you to pet him too much. He enjoyed some good head rubbing and wooling was fine, but stay away from my hips and legs, and never, never touch my feet. D never came home. After a successful surgery, he began to bleed, and we could never get that bleeding to stop, even after three transfusions. We had to say goodbye at Tacoma Pet Emergency, and it was a very long goodbye. Devil was tired, and by then, I guess, he was ready to go. All I wanted to do was put him in my truck and take him home. He would be fine, he was always fine. Not this time. His leaving was as difficult as he could be under the best conditions. Horrible, awful nightmare of dying. Don't ever believe it is easy, it is not. Leaving this world can be as much of a struggle as coming into it. After he was gone, his crate became his shrine. D loved his crate and was well known for hiding all manner of things in the back of it. We talked to him constantly, and still talk to him. He was such a huge presence in this household of 27 Siberians. A gentle giant, it was true. Noble, handsome, intelligent, stubborn, loving, and had issues:)) We have allowed Tenzing to move into D's crate, but the other dogs have chewed on Devil's bed, so I gave it to Ibis, who was my foster that came in with cancer, and will leave me soon with cancer. But she does not know that. D knew though, and so did I. I now think of he and Tink playing as puppies once again in the green fields and snowy pastures across the Bridge.

I also think of that last goodbye. And await our final hello, when I too cross the Bridge to take the team back once again.


Amber is a small, gray cat who has been part of my life for six years now. I have only touched Amber once, when I caught her in the live trap and took her to Mountain View to have her spayed and receive her Rabies vaccination. I would guess she was about one then. I first met Amber and Ed in the fall of 2005 when I bought my home out on the Deschutes River outside of Rainier, Wa. She had been left at the home with a male cat whom I named Ed. Ed and Amber, named after the previous owners of the house. Ed disappeared that first year, but Amber, my little friend that I can never touch, is still here. She appears like clockwork every morning, a small gray shadow in the shrubbery beyond the hen house. I fill her small bowl with kibble, and keep the chickens in their corralled yard until she finishes eating. I see her seldom at any other time. After the snow comes, I will see her small cat prints leading from under the garden shed over to the chicken shed where she eats up on a shelf and out of the weather. Many times, I have thought she was gone, but she always comes back. I have considered bringing her in the house with the other cats, or perhaps giving her a permanent home in the Musher's Cabin, but she is wild, of the wild, and will know no cage. Amber bore two litters of kittens. The first tiny three babies brought such joy to me. She had them out under the shed. I carefully watched them grow, and saw that they needed to go to the vet. They had Ringworm, Herpes, and unfortunately FIP. So we had to euthanize those three sweet babies; Sprite, Squirt and Fuzzball. That event broke my heart so much, that even though I knew I needed to have Amber spayed, I waited too long and once again she bore three little kits. Two gray, like her, and one dark tabby. I named them Cougar, Lord Greystoke, and I forget the third. They grew and were wild little creatures, but they had the misfortune to come and play in an old wood stove in the dog yard, where the dogs found them. Poor little things, first one, and then Cougar. They gave the dogs ringworm on their noses and faces. Again, a sad ending. But, we still had Lord Greystoke or Tarzan as my vet, Rhonda, likes to call him. That silly little boy would follow me around the driveway, and throw himself at me,as if he was saying, "Take me home, Sue." So unlike his mother, who would hide at the sight of me or any human. I took him home. He too, had the ringworm, but he lived in the Musher's Cabin for a long time, until he was clean, and then he came into the house and joined the other Stargazer cats in the cat room, safe from all dogs and predators. I captured his Mama that one time. She was a hurricane of fear in the exam room, but she survived, and was spayed. That time she was carrying five kittens. I felt so blessed when both Lord G and Amber's bloodwork came back free from Feline Leukemia. Amber lives on. I may capture her again, as I think she could use a dental and a look over.
We have been having cold, clear weather here in Rainier, and the pellet stove has been burning non stop. I emptied out the ash tray, which still had some live coals burning. Normally, I take that out to the fire pit, but this time, I dumped it in the garden. The next morning, I watched Bullet sitting on the deck, staring intently over in that direction. Often that will mean, Amber is about, or the free range chickens. All I saw was a plume of smoke, wisping lazily into the air. Those live coals had kept smoldering overnight. In my mind, I saw a little gray cat, sitting on her haunches, holding her front paws up and warming herself by the fire. Such a happy thought for me. I hope for Amber, that she has a nice cozy hidey hole somewhere on my property, keeping her dry,warm, and safe, as I continue to feed her like clockwork in the morning for many years to come.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Raining hard here today

Winter has arrived at Stargazer. I am reminded of the adage about the creek thoughts are more targeted towards the sump pumps operating after several months down time. The heavy rains begin in November and run through February although I have had the basement flooded as late as April. Living in a bowl alongside a river requires working with the flow. Today, I am waiting for my crumb topped cherry pie to come out of the oven, which I will be taking to book group. Tonight's read, "Having Our Say", by the Delaney sisters, who are both approaching 100 years old. They tell their story of growing up in North Carolina, moving to Harlem, becoming a teacher and a dentist and living their lives within a black culture, totally insular, and quite at variance with the surrounding white world. So a cherry pie is a bit like Southern food, although pecan would be better. The kennel dogs are all tucked in the barns, warm and dry. The house dogs are all crated up except for Gar, the American Pit Bull Terrier, who prefers his alone time. His story will come later. Of the 28 dogs here at Stargazer, 13 live in the house, with often a kennel dog and a foster dog visiting. That is a lot of crates...and mud...which requires me to be constantly changing out towels and every so often using the old fashioned rag and hot water to wash the tile. I find this works better than the mop, as the mop strings are always getting caught up in the crate wires. I realized today that half this crew would not pass house training. I just don't get it. If that dog door is shut for five minutes, suddenly everyone has to pee. Now if there was not a dog door, the dogs would go to the door, and woof or scratch or ring the bell ( not mine, but friend's do this), but here they just seem to forget that little step and just let loose. I love tile and laminate. Not all of them do this, but some do, and I must say, the some are all male.

Having lost Flare, Willy, Tink, and Devil in the past 7 months, I am now looking at losing another dog, Ibis. She arrived here as a foster for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue in July from Thurston County Animal Services. She is a lovely grey, stunning blue eyes, around 10 years old with severe dysplasia, spondylosis, and cancer. Last summer, a 5 pound tumor was dangling off of her abdomen, swinging like a cumbersome grapefruit when she walked or ran. Removal of this mass by my favorite vets at Mt. View, along with another tumor that was an aggressive form of mammary cancer, gave her a new outlook on life. She leaps, and runs and digs like a 2 year old. She is a song mistress, wooing and cooing and talking to me. She is happy to have me, a home, a crate of her own. No longer a foster, she became a Stargazer when it was found that the cancer had metastasized into the lymph nodes. Not too much time left for this old girl, and I do not have the time table, but I do have the time and the desire to give her some good ol' loving, and maybe even a taste of my cherry pie.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Deedle..D..Red Devil..played today!! Briefly and joyfully he played with the Cuz ball. It has been so long since he played. Must have been that acu-poke-ture he had at Mt. View on Friday. Devil is the second Stargazer. He arrived before we knew we were Stargazer Siberians. His story begins, long ago, in Bellingham, where he roamed wild in Whatcom County, honing his skills of egg eating, pop drinking, and the policing of all miscellaneous dog activity. In those days, as now, D had 'issues'. The nice lady running Preferred Animal Services understood this, and while Devil was visiting that shelter, she purchased him an Igloo, so he could hide from the other dogs. Gail Roberts had posted a picture of Siberian Boy, in which she asked for help for this guy, as he had 'issues'. I had only one Siberian at that time, Sparky, who taught me everything about the breed in a few short months, including the love and joy that this breed brings to me. Sparky needed a teammate, so I was looking for another dog. Siberian Boy was a young, black and white male with the wide open white face, and freckles, that I have grown to love. His eyes, brilliant blue, broadcasted mischievious trouble. We liked that face, a lot, so off we drove to Bellingham in my blue and silver Suburban named Sirius, with Sparky, otherwise known as Mr. Snarly Growl Face, an intact yearling, spoiled brat, favorite, only dog, accompanying us. As the story unfolded, we arrived at the shelter with a specially chosen bag of squeaky toys. We met Mr Siberian Boy, and while I went to look at the second Siberian there, Will introduced D to the bag of toys. 30 seconds later, all toys had been ripped and de squeaked and by the time I returned, Mr S B was looking for something else to destroy. "Of course, we will take him. We love him!" While I filled out paperwork, Will tried to take the 'issue' dog on a walk. He was very strong, nearly pulling Willy off of his feet. I was hopeful at this pulling strength, wanting another sled dog. Little did I know, that the second 'issue' we would encounter would be a luxating patella otherwise known as a slipping knee cap. Not so good in a running dog. Please understand, we were quite new to this Siberian world, having come from the world of normal dogs, and so we were making quite a few mistakes that day. And here came the biggest mistake, we put Devil in the car with Sparky, separated by a gate and an Igloo, but none the less in the same vehicle, which proceeded to suffer horrendous damage as the two dogs met through the gate, and immediately began to try to kill each other. Foam and fabric flew through the air, as the terrible shouting and growling continued. The dog with 'issues' went into his Igloo and our special Sparky continued to rip foam and fabric out of the back seat for the entire 3 hour ride back to Lacey. Sirius carries those scars to this day. Speaking of scars, these two dogs have continued to have these kind of fights, horrible, frightening, life threatening fights, thousands of dollars kind of fights, to this day. Sparky and Siberian Boy who soon became Red Devil, named after an Alaskan town, with a fire theme, are two of the most beloved friends here at Stargazer. They are so dear to us, but if I knew then what I know now, Siberian Boy would have gone to that nice couple coming up from Whidbey Island. We did make it home that day, to our log cabin in Lacey, with Sparky on a leash in the car, and with Will screaming, "He is going to kill Sparky," and I am thinking, "Lord, what have I done?" No, I believe it was more like, "Could everyone just SHUT UP!!!" There are so many chapters in this dog's tale, but I will skip to the present, where after those 53 fights or more, Devil is crippled with arthritis in his neck, shoulders, knees and back. He has Horner's syndrome which causes his right eye, already cloudy with corneal dystrophy,to move in and out of its socket as his nerves are tweaked, renal disease that is controlled with diet, and high anxiety, as our house fills up with many more Siberians. At first, we would tell D that his girlfriend was coming. Tink was supposed to be his girlfriend, as Mikasa ("I was third!") was Sparky's girlfriend, but, well, that did not work out so much. D would continue to police and claim his space. As you well know, the loudest are often the most sensitive, and that is the case with this dog. His sweetness is deep and dear. He has always loved a squeaky ball which he would mouth vigorously with loud squeaks for a few minutes, then bite that ball, pull the squeaker out, and look for the next ball to appear, which it often did, as I would feed his habit by buying him a six pack at Pet Smart. One day, Devil was vomiting, and not feeling so well. Films of his abdomen showed something in there obstructing the flow of things. Mineralized ball bits were embedded in his intestines, so, following surgery, no more balls. This has not really mattered, as Devil has retired more and more to his crate, from which he hollers out expletives at any who dare to come too close. Even a normal trip to the vet requires a Rimadyl the next day, and a walk up the block means he won't be able to hold his head up in a few hours. A recent fight was one of the worst, as Sparky now knows to grab D by the neck and not let go. These two dogs just do not like each other and never will. Most of the time, they keep their distance, but a simple nuance in a slightly charged atmosphere will set them off. Similar to people who just can't get along, these two dogs are best kept out of sight and mind. They have struck some semblance of peace over the years but the the fights continue and will continue unto the death bed. The big issue was and still is, Sparky is #1 and always will be. Devil is #2 and will always want to be #1. Doesn't work that way, with people or dogs. Bragging rights are what they are fighting for. Thus we come to the acupuncture, or acu-poke-ture as we told D he would be receiving. Acupuncture and chiropracty are two healing modes that really help the dogs. Tink received acupuncture for years from an out of town vet. I had taken Devil to Dr. Schaeffer once, but he was so tense, he popped all the needles out. They literally flew across the room so that was the first and last time. Dr. Joanne Salloom, one of my Mt. View vets has been studying canine acupuncture and has now reached the time of needing patients. Several of the dogs here are candidates, but Devil was at the top of the list. We booked the appointment, and of course, I told everyone about the other time, when he popped all the needles out. The staff all know D at Mountain View, very loud, and barks like a seal. Yes, barks like a seal. We all shared private chuckles at poor Dr. Salloom, having to work on D and his micro movements and his barking, and growling and snorting whenever a hair on his body is touched. "Don't touch me, I don't like that!" Side note, of which there are dozens: After his luxating patella surgery at one year old (another chapter), D developed cloudy eyes. He saw our superior Olympia opthalmologist, Dr. Penny Cooley and was told he had Corneal Dystrophy. Around here, we just say "cloudy", which they are, very, very cloudy, now that he is 12. He receives liquid tears in his eyes twice daily so they will not dry out and ulcerate or something just as awful. He is good at getting his eye salve, as he always gets a cookie, which is one reason, he is like Number 4 or 5 on the chart of what your dog ought to look like. From the aerial view, rather tube like. Penny Cooley is another special doctor. I had thought, prior to our first meeting, how will she be able to tap on his eyes and examine him. But healers are healers and they have the magic. I am blessed by these brilliant people who work with my animals. The current of healing runs through them, and the animals respond. Devil sat quite still as Dr. Cooley worked on his eyes so long ago, and every year since. I did not think it would be this way with the needles. As we went into the exam room at Mt. View, Devil was a little worried and shook a bit, as we waited. This was our home ground though, familiar and calm. Dr. Salloom entered the room, and we told her some of D's story. She is not our regular vet, so she does not know him as well. Joanne and I usually seem to meet on a dark, frozen winter night at 2am with one of the dogs being in crisis. Did I mention that the Scofield dogs and cats have their own shelf at Mt. View? Yes, we are indeed special. She approached D, stroked his back, he lay down, and she calmly began to work. He lay there like the sweet Devil he is, as she gently applied the needles and worked on him. Only when she reached his front feet, was he reluctant, so she stopped. Calmly and quietly he waited while the healer worked with him. As this is a training stage for her, we discussed how I will monitor him, and give her feedback. She recommended giving him his Adequan shot (liquid Glucosamine), but I thought I would wait and not change anything in his daily protocol while I am observing the after effects of the acupuncture. We said good bye, he became his loud, barking seal self, clawing at the door, and we came on home. I was on alert. How would this work, would it help, how would he feel? He kept to himself in his crate most of the rest of that day. The next day, I watched, as he moved very slowly about the yard. Normally, he would have been very stiff and sore from a vet visit like that. His slowness was not one of stiffness, but one of relaxing, of slowing down emotionally, of unwinding. He was calmer and moved with a certain peacefulness. I continued to watch him. He sat by his crate and did not police. He was decompressing, he was relaxing, he was less anxious, and... he played with his ball. For just a few minutes, he played, he scooted the ball around, he chewed on the ball, he played with his ball. I put all the other dogs away as we watched our dear Devil play with his ball. It had been years since this happened. Only for a few minutes. This was enough, his leg started shaking and he was tired. Today, he has been out of his crate,and he is more himself than he has been in years. We love our D. We do not like seeing him old. We do not like to see him get hurt. We had a few moments of secret and overwhelming joy and delight as we watched our old boy play. He will be going back to acu-poke-ture with one of the best vets around. We are so lucky to have these people in our life.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Fix a Broken Dog

How to Fix a Broken Dog? It is quite easy, a yard full of other dogs and a large helping of love and patience. Happy dogs are the best medicine for broken and worn dogs. They teach by example, through play . Over and over, the dogs demonstrate the proper response to any given situation. There is no punishment, no judgment, just repetition, until the broken dog unwinds, reboots, and becomes a happy dog again. Throughout this time, I, like the other dogs, show by example, how we do it here at Stargazer. We go up for meals, we do not jump on the Susan, we let Susan tend to our needs, we do not use our mouths to hurt each other. We are all good dogs at Stargazer. And then we get to run, to get hooked up to a scooter or a sled, and we run, all together we run, and that is the Best. Some broken dogs, after becoming Happy, prefer other activities, such as, holding down the couch, monitoring other house dogs to ensure rule adherence, sleeping long hours in the Sun, and chewing on hard rubber objects. We are all good dogs at Stargazer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

TinkerBelle-the end of an Era

Tink the Tank, Mrs Elk Pants, StinkerBelle, Tinker, Smellbox. Why do we give our friends these silly, pet names? TinkerBelle, like the fairy of the same name, was both sweet and naughty. Tink was a fighter, especially with other females. That giant maw of a mouth was terrifying when her teeth were snapping, her eyes were narrowed, and the hair on her back went straight up, puffed and prickled . Tink was quite prickly. In her life she survived a broken wrist, breast cancer, perihemangiosarcoma, a tumor on her adrenal gland, IBD, one, two, liver surgeries, the last which also removed her gall bladder. There were surgeries to remove tumors, pancreatitis, flare up after flareup of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, yeast infections, UTI's. She never gave up so I never gave up on her. But one Friday in June of 2011, she was so ready to go to sleep. When she arrived at Mt. View as her final destination, she lay right down on the soft pillow they had fixed up for her, and closed her eyes. Many of Tink's friends came in to say good bye, but she was already sniffing the winds north of the Rainbow Bridge. The previous evening, she and I had sat together out in the yard, facing North, as that nose worked the breezes, and I laid my hand on her soft redbrown fur, for what I knew what would be the last night. We talked of the others waiting for her; Nemo, Pyro, Athena, and how soon she would be leading the team, in single lead of course, in her Silver Harness. A myriad of other Scofield animals would be there, but Tink would be back in her glory days, when she ran like the steady soul she was. She always used to do her spinning when she saw the harness come out and would pull until told to stop. She was Sparky's friend and teammate from the first time they met at Susan Price's over in Dayton at Nightsong Kennels. She was covered with very little fur, had leathery skin, and was tied out by herself since she was a fighter. Winter was coming on and Susan was concerned that Tink would be cold. After I saw her photo, I knew she was mine. When she and Spark met, they had a little tussle and after that became friends for life. Tink was known for her spinning and could be a whirling dervish if happy or if it was dinner time. After I brought her home to Lacey, she learned how to be a house dog. She was so smart, and so very pragmatic. She had a spay, which took care of a sick uterus and allowed the hair to come back. After a week, she and Flare had the first of many horrible fights. This first one broke Tink's wrist, requiring an orthopedic specialist. Ha! Tink's story had begun. Lord, those fights were something awful. Boys fight for points, Girls fight to the death, and that is how it was with those two. I wanted Tink to never be tied out again, so when I moved here, I built the yards, and arranged the dog door, so she would have freedom to come and go as she chose. She often was seen patrolling the fence line as she was a sentinel of the first degree. There was something very special about this dog, endearing with great depth. The window sill was packed solid with her medicine and giving her that medicine was a twice daily ritual for many years. With an IBD dog there are strict disciplines to follow and a narrow range of possible foods they can eat. She used to take her pills in scoops of canned Z/D, a prescription diet for hypoallergenic needs. At many critical junctures, Tink would stop eating, concern enough with a normal dog, but frighteningly difficult with this special needs dog. We saved her life with Venison and Sweet Potatoes. Venison came from Stewart's Meat Market and her sweet potatoes from Dave's Market where they were special ordered by the case. She loved that mix for quite some time, but then came the day when she would no longer eat her special dinner. Towards the end, I found a duck based food that she would eat, but we would have to stuff those pills down her throat. Those pills that saved her life. The ones, that no longer fill the window sill. Why does that make me so sad? Because that mouth they went in, is no longer here. Nor, do I hear that clicking of her nails as she trundled about the kitchen, licking the floor, always hungry, never satisfied. I have photos of her though, of mighty Tink, in her harness, pulling, and laughing, and grinning as we scooted down the trail. She left me something too, in the spot she always laid in on the deck. I can stand there and feel her, and find that last night, as we looked Northward, and smelled the winds on the other side of the Bridge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bella and the Sheep

Bella goes to "Yes School", which is perfect for a little, red, woolie Siberian that has never heard the word No. Well, maybe once or twice, but not from me. Bella is one of many Siberians, known collectively as the Sweeties, which were rescued by some good people, from a bad person in Eastern Wa. There were 32 of these Sweeties, youngsters, quite young, that had been kept in atrocious conditions in a hellish place, barely surviving horrendous conditions. Due to the heroic efforts of these good people,including those of SNO-Siberians Needing Owners, these dogs were saved and placed in forever homes. Such a hard beginning makes it very difficult to tell these sweetie pie dogs, NO! This can be problematic, as in, "Oh, look at Bella chewing on the coffee table. Isn't that cute?" Or, "look at Bella chewing a hole in the couch. Isn't that cute?" Our Bella is a foxy lady, sky blue eyes, in a dark red face, surrounded by a halo of long, wooly hair. She is a large red bundle of love and sweet. One big ball of fluff with a plume for a tail. Although, I call her little, she is 55 pounds. But somehow, she just seems little to us, as she has these short, little legs. Most puppies, as they mature into adult dogs, change in their looks, but not Belle Belle. It was just as if she expanded into a bigger version of her puppy self. Think of blowing up a balloon. Bella has a huge personality, she spins until you are dizzy, she has no upper incisors, due to a severe underbite, and Bella has to wear a basket muzzle, when she is outside in the yard, because Bella is a rock eater. Something, you really don't want your dog to do, as this causes you a great deal of pain in the wallet, as each surgery for rock removal takes place. Besides the constant worry of your pal running around with the mask on her face, pretty much defenseless. The first time she ate 3 rocks, I thought it was a fluke, the second time less than a month later, she ate 5 rocks, and I ordered the muzzle, the third time, she slipped outside without a muzzle and within 10 seconds , 4 more rocks had slid down her gullet. These rocks are 2-3 inches in diameter. I have other dogs here that eat the pea gravel which passes through, but these big rocks are dangerous. Bella is all Siberian bitch, loving a good brawl, and very bossy. She whams that muzzle around, poking and punching in her own form of roughhousing. Bella must be watched carefully, never allowed to be outside,where she always wears her muzzle, without supervision, and never placed in a situation where she would not be able to defend herself. She lets me know when she wants it removed by rubbing it vigorously on the couch or on my leg or face..ouch..if I am lying down. Bella is studying to be a companion dog for me on my visits as an Animal Assisted Activities volunteer at Providence/St. Peters Hospital in Olympia, WA. Aurora began that training with me, but it was determined she needed some maturity. Aurora went to Military School, that is, old school pinch collar and command training, which was held at a very good facility. I am the weakest link there. Aurora did well. As previously mentioned, Bella goes to Yes School; yes, treat, yes, treat, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Bella is not learning her lessons very quickly, as she is not food driven, and she is much more interested in the Sheep at Fido's Farm where we train in Olympia. Bella does well in my basement where there are little or no distractions, other than the Christmas decorations, which is another story as why the basement is so empty. Think of an indoor swimming pool.

Fido's Farm is loaded with sheep, and sheep dogs. Every field has Border Collies, Aussies, and many sheep engaged in their particular form of work. That is the dogs are working. Maybe the sheep are working also, at how to avoid the dogs and how to practice Sheep Mesmerism, which involves having each individual member of the herd, practicing Watch Me at the exact same moment. The dogs practice chase, down, dart about, chase, down, dart about, as they practice their own form of Sheep Mesmerism. Truly amazing to watch sheep dogs work. I love to watch any working dog, doing their job. Last Sunday, besides being hot, me being sick, and Bella not wanting hot dog treats, there was the additional distraction of The Sheep. One lone individual, it stood in the next field over, large wads of wool hanging off of it, smelling very sheepish, and doing sheep things, like eating grass. In Yes School, there are words like threshold, behavior chains, and loading, but to Bella there was only Sheep. Two of the other dogs in class; one a Border Collie and one a Lab mix, were fixed attentively on their Mistresses, who happen to be friends of mine. The dogs were sit staying on their mat, down staying on their mat, recalling, saying hi politely, while Bella was attentively practicing Watch Me on the Sheep. The instructor thinks this is not a good idea. I think that Bella likes Sheep. It is wooly like her, has blowout like her, is tubelike in shape like her. I do not look like that at all. Food bits do not compete with Sheep. Siberian world vs Border Collie world. I said to my friend, "Sadie is not interested in Sheep."" Oh, but she is," was the reply. Okay then, I thought. Obviously, there is something else going on here. A good On By would take care of this on the trail, but on a hot day in a green field, my little Bella's blue eyes were not shifting from their fixed stare on The Sheep. Maybe she would prefer lamb treats.

One more thing, when I am told that an area is completely fenced, I do not believe it. I have Siberians. Completely fenced means hot wire, top and bottom. Sure enough, when released from the leash, where did my little Siberian go,but to the gate, specifically the hole under the gate. When that was blocked, she jumped on the gate, nearly getting to the Sheep, except for my lumbering, scramble to get there first. I tied the gate shut with the leash, no longer attached to Bella, so then she went to every other gate. Then she peed in the little cooling off pool. Yes, Bella, yes. No worries, we will be a great therapy team, assuming they don't have Sheep there.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kwan Yin's Garden or How Tink Found Her Howl

Tink is a quiet dog. She seldom makes a noise, but her presence is strong. Her repertoire includes a quick, sharp bark that means feed me NOW; a yelp when poked at the vet; and the scary, horrible, growly, snarly sounds of Tink fighting. Tink was the worst fighter here about a hundred years ago. She even had a little scuffle a week or so ago, but she was lying down and hypnotized Maggie to come over and engage in face biting.

Outside, in the house dog yard, I have a small fish pond, built by the former owner, which I keep covered with two cyclone fence gates to prevent Bella and Daisy from fishing. This pond abuts Kwan Yin's garden. Kwan Yin is the Goddess of Compassion, and one of my favorites. She does not ask much, but responds when her name is called. A good lesson for all of us in dealing out kindness. She sits in my little garden beside the pond. Her gifts are many, one being her healing waters or sacred dew. Kwan Yin's garden had suffered from dog digging, weather, dog digging, weeds, and dog digging. I was working on cleaning things up, planting some lavender, finding the pretty colored stones and rocks which line the little creek bed to the pond, and decided to remove the gates so I could better straighten things up and reset the rocks which form the border. I did not finish the job that day, so I left the gates off the pond that night. Later, after putting all the dogs to bed, except for the few that get to stay out at all times, I slowly went to put myself to rest, saddened by the thought of the impending passing of Willy. Immediately, after lying down with a few cats, I heard a noise below my bedroom, which overlooks the deck, facing north towards the river. I did not recognize the sound, and then it came again. This time I knew it as a howl, but which dog? I have 25 dogs here and I know each of their voices as one would know their child's cry. Who was that? My first thought was that wildlife was nearby, causing one of the dogs to make an unusual sound. The second thought was that a neighbor's dog was in the yard. How was that possible? One is not always rational at 2AM. I hurried downstairs, peered out the sliders and saw Daisy, the little, white Seppala ghost dog peering over the deck. What? Was Daisy making that sound? Again, my mind was not working well. Daisy is debarked and her howl is a ghostly whisper. Rummaging around in the dryer, I found something to put on, and ventured outside at a run. As I came out on the deck, and looked over into the pond, I recognized that dark body and head. TinkerBelle! She must have been out patrolling, not seen the dark water and plunged in the pool. She did not have the strength to pull herself out, but was not in any immediate danger nor did she seem overly stressed. TinkerBelle was my mysterious howler. No wonder I did not recognize the howl. It had never been sounded before. Amazing, astounding, unbelievable! Tink had found her voice. Tink had her feet up on the edge of the garden and was standing on the rocks in the pond. I pulled her out, brought the now energized, old lady into the house and dried her off. She was spinning like days of old, whirling and jumping about. She had gone on an Adventure and found her voice. Get me out, that howl spoke. Sue, come get me out of here! It took Tink falling into a goldfish pond to find her howl, and it only took 13 years. Kwan Yin was watching over my gentle, little dog, and provided a healing bath and a voice. It might take a while, but do not give up hope, for one day you too, may find your Howl.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Willy, a Stargazer cat

Another friend of ours is standing on the Bridge; Willy the Cat, Will-cat, Chowder. Nearly 17 years old with Lymphoma, which is progressing rapidly. When first diagnosed last November, Willy went to Olympia Veterinary Cancer Clinic where he was treated with love and chemotherapy drugs for several months by Dr. Lisa Parshley and her wonderful staff. We are very lucky to have an oncologist vet in Olytown, as otherwise there would be multiple monthly trips to Tacoma or Seattle. Willy went into remission almost immediately, but the cancer returned once, twice, and then thrice, which is this moment. He is eating constantly, unfortunately, the cancer gets all the calories. Today he has had some hugs and some Tramadol and he is resting now. Will-cat's best friend is Will-son, who happens to be my son. The last few months, Willy has spent most of his time in Will's room, laying on the pillow, or the chair, watching TV with Will or if not in the room, but instead in the cat room, meowing to return to his personal heaven. Will-son spotted Will-cat 9 years ago on a trip to Mt. View, to visit one of our other cats. I believe it was Ziggy, the grumpy Persian, who had endured some procedure or another and was now tormenting the staff. Will-cat was perched up on a shelf, staring at Will with his large, round, yellow eyes. Willy is an American Shorthair and is about as cute as they come. His former owner had brought him in for a dental and never returned. Will, my son, informed me that we were bringing him home, and so we did. The bonding of the two Will's began. My son was about to celebrate his 13th coming of age birthday, so that became Will-cat's birthday also. For many years the two friends have enjoyed each others company, but now that is coming to an end. Never long enough, as our vet has said. I repeat, never long en0ugh...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011 TinkerBelle

Today the Stargazers are relaxing in the sunny Memorial Day afternoon. Most of them, that is. Two are not so relaxed. My dearest TinkerBelle, now 13, IBD, chronic liver issues, spondylosis, sled dog excellent and best friend, stands on the threshold of the Rainbow Bridge. Her body is tired and worn out, she sleeps most of the time, but the great thing is, she is still eating. I found a food, Great Life Potato and Grain Free Duck, that she can tolerate and most importantly continue to eat. It is very difficult to have a dog diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease who will not eat. They are allergic to the protein, so one must find a protein they have not tried or go with a hypoallergenic diet. To discover the duck in Tink's final days has assured me that her angels are on double duty. Tink came from Eastern Washington Siberian Rescue in 2002, where she was tied out by herself as she fought with all the females and some of the males. The other side of the sweet fairy. She arrived with a very poor coat, needed to have a spay to remove a very sick uterus and ovaries, medicine for fungus infection, and then she came home. Within a week, she had a fight with Flare, who has recently passed over the Bridge, needed the orthopedic specialist, and then had a cast for a broken wrist. At Mountain View Veterinary Hospital in Lacey...Heaven on Earth for animals and owners..they decorate the casts, so Tink would come home with hearts, lightning bolts, her name, and other decor on that vet wrap. At our previous home, she still had to be tied out, as she still fought, tough Siberian that she is to this day. Tink the Tank I call her. She became a marvelous scooter dog, earning her nickname of the tank. She was not fast, but she would never let me down. We so loved running together with her partner, Sparky. Those days ended in 2006 when her spondylosis made its ugly appearance, and with the diagnosis of IBD. Then we begn to walk. I moved to this new place on the river and put in a dog door for Tink. No more tying her out. Now, in and out as she chooses, and she most often was found laying out on the deck, until recently. Two dogs, I mentioned at the first. The other is Mikasa, who is currently going through the loading period of Lysodren, for Cushing's Disease, which basically is like getting a diagnosis of cancer. I will save Kasa's story for another page. All 24 Siberian Huskies and the one pit bull here at Stargazer have a story and I intend to share them, but right now it is time to feed. Tink's next installment will arrive soon. Thanks for reading.