Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rapidly Approaching the new year...

Christmas is passed and I hate to say this but I barely noticed. Tom and I had such great plans for it this year. This was to be our first Christmas that the kids were not with us. It was morbidly depressing until we realized that all of those things we wanted to do when we were younger, like going for a carriage ride through a quaint Christmas town and stopping by a pub to take the chill off of our noses were possible again. Then my mother was hospitalized for kidney failure on the 22nd and after the CAT scans it was discovered that the cause of the kidney failure was terminal lymphatic cancer that filled her belly and cut off her kidneys.

Kind of put a damper on the whole old Christmas Spirit ...

So, on Christmas day, Tom was in New Jersey and I was in Delaware.

I learned something from this Christmas, though, especially about giving. I really was stumped about what to take my mom for Christmas, so I finally decided to take her the one thing I knew she would eat no matter what...glazed donuts. Watching both of my parents as my mother scarfed down her glazed donut was worth ever Christmas present I ever screwed up on because it was one of the last pleasures in life she is ever going to have and those moments of sitting there and chatting with her about crabbing on the Chessapeak Bay and all of the boating we did when I was a kid while she ate that stupid donut were worth traveling to the moon for if I had to.

My mom is passing right now between here and the next place. It could be a horrible thing, and it is for my father, but to me, dying is a lot like being born. For me, it's a passage, not an ending. My goal in all of this is to give Mom the best quality of time that I can. She doesn't always know who I am. She doesn't always hear what I'm saying or understand, but I'm pretty sure that she knows that I love her and that's why I'm there. In the end, I think that's probably all that is going to matter.

I'm going to miss her when she passes. God, how I'm going to miss her, but I know she's going to be watching me. I also know that she won't be in the pain she is beginning to pass through and her mind and body will be restored to her. For that I am thankful because she doesn't know what is happening now.

My greatest prayer in this is that I am with her in the end to pray because my father's parting gift to her is to keep her ignorant of her condition. In short, she will not be able to prepare herself spiritually for this passage. For him, it's an act of love. To me, it makes a hard thing all the more difficult because she knows something is happening but not what.

And today on the phone when I told her I had made it home okay she wanted to know all about the flower pots...

There weren't any flower pots. She was in a different place.

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where has she been?

Hello all!

As mentioned in my email by some of you, I haven't been around much lately. There is a reason for that, actually two. On December 2, 2008, I started college again. I also started working full time. In school I am taking a compressed online course in which we cover an entire semester in 5 weeks. I love it, but it is a lot of reading and writing! At work, I am working one and a half positions as I am filling in for a co-worker who is out on maternity leave. I started my job five days before the end of the last quarter of our fiscal year after having the girls in the office, who didn't really understand the computer program I work with, filled in my job for a month...after the girl who worked my job over the summer, who really didn't understand this program either walked out. Consequently, I have been having to go back over an entire quarter of the year, clean the data up and create the monthly reports, quarterly reports and annual reports for my position.

Nightmare does not describe what has been transpiring with all of this... however, I do have it pretty much straightened out at this point and will hopefully be moving into the new year with the reports in order... I hope.

SOOOOOOO..... This is why I have not been writing here. I've been working a lot and going to school.

Bear is adjusting to all of this pretty well. The husband has been working with him, taking walks with him...military style, which Bear absolutely loves, and has cut down on the "leaking" in the house all of the time. It seems that 3 miles a day, up and down the mountain is perfect for him. It is also improving Bear's listening skills, considerably. He does still require "Mommy time," but not all of the time.

One of the things we have noticed is that Bear has real separation issues from us, howling miserably when one of us leaves the house or even goes to shower. He really wants both of us within sight, and The William as well. He is really enjoying the cold and doesn't mind being outside on the run at all because he can see us through the windows and hear us. As soon as he can't, the howling begins as well as well as nervous prancing and leaking. After seeing this, I really believe that is where the chewing and destructive behavior comes from when we are gone. He gets very upset and anxious and just starts tearing at things. He has also taken to watching us out of the windows whenever one of us is outside or leaves and he is inside.

While it is wonderful to be loved this much, I do not think it is something we are going to be able to cure Bear of and thus, the crate will probably remain a fixed part of our lives. He has gotten to the point where he really likes his crate and knows that it is "his place" alone. Sometimes he just goes in and hangs out in there with his toys and when he has done something wrong, that is usually where we find him. He goes in now whenever we tell him it is time to without us having to pull or coerce him into it, which is nice!

Other big news is that we have, indeed, survived the ice storm in the North East! We lost power Thursday evening and it came back on at about 4 this morning. All in all, it could have been a whole lot worse! The roads remained passable and the generator ran fine. The husband has gotten the water pump hooked to it, so we have water and lights as well as heat and refrigeration when the electric goes out like this. The water was the last big thing that we needed hooked in. While a bit of a pain in the neck, we were not as uncomfortable as we could have been and our neighbors all fared through it well too. There were definitely places in the area that did not have it this good!

So that is the "news that's fit to print" here. I've got to run as I need to go into work this morning and I am definitely going to hit the shower first! My next break will come at roughly Christmas, so if I don't get over here till then, I wish everyone a wonderful holiday!

Stay safe!

The Wandering Writer and her dog...Bear

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where are we on the days?

So tomorrow I will, hopefully but not guarenteedly, figure out what day we are on. In the interum, I need to update about the week. I start school again on Tuesday. I'm finishing my Bachelor's degree and very psyched about doing it! Hunting season has continued and Bear has been a mess. House time is not his friend, especially as the weather gets colder, we have discovered. We've had an incredible amount of "mouthing" activity this week, which really grated on the nerves. The husband figured out that if we grab his tongue and hang onto it...which is very long due to the Boxer influence, the mouthing stops immediately.

Bear is not real thrilled about that, but his mouthing had transferred from grabbing my pinkie to take him out to grabbing my arm or clothes or whatever. It was enough, already. Now, whenever he mouths, we grab his tongue until he decides that maybe he doesn't need to have our entire appendage in his mouth any longer.

Bear has also been getting really rough in play and anxious whenever anyone comes...or leaves. We attributed this to the fact that he has been getting like no exercise lately and was thus focusing on everything else. A Bear with no exercise, it seems is a very nervous and anxious being. Yesterday, the husband decided that we should go out to the lower field and bat a tennis ball for the dogs to go fetch. The idea was great...aside from the fact that the husband is going to be 49 a few days after I am and his connecting with the old ball, well, ain't quite what it used to be at 25. He did make a few good hits, but during the time between those the dogs entertained themselves by chasing every car and truck that passed on the road.

Not good.

Especially since Bear is still not real clear on the "come" command.

The episode did last roughly 20 minutes or so but 10 of this was encompassed by looking for the ball which we never did find. All in all, not a real "exercise session" for the Bear...or the William for that matter.

Today, as I was trying to "configure a feng shui in which my portion of the biosphere and my schema develop a symbiotic synergy...aka clean my room while getting ready for school, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. Yes, the lightbulb went on and the heavens did part and I had an idea to channel some of this "anxiety" out of this poor dog before he drove all of us nuts!

"What," I thought, "if I were to take the haybales that we had gleaned from the now famous Pumpkin Party and started an obstacle course for Bear?"

Would it channel some of the excess energy? Would it make him less "mouthy?" Would it end the rough housing and accompanying ... leakage?

Turns out that it has.

I grabbed one of the sleds and Bear and I moved three of the bales plus took all of the gourds from the garden over to the compost. After that, we commenced to start "jumping" the bales!
(Well, he doesn't actually jump them. He hops on them and then jumps down but we do this at a run and I'm hoping that soon this will develop into a full blown jump.)

Bear is thinking that this is BIG fun and every time we go out, we have to do the "course" ... like five or six times. It's made for a much more comfortable inside time for all of us and a much more mellow Bear!

And now it's time for Dog's 101 so I gotta go!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 85

Has it only been 85 days that Bear has been with us? My God! It seems like I have known this one for a lifetime! I guess that's what draws us to them...

Anyway, it has come to my attention that I am really behind in my reading...and commenting...which means that this weekend will be devoted to that. (I know. I cheat. I can't help it. I'm a perpetual procrastinator.) Anyway, I'll be around this weekend, and, unless the husband has other plans for the weekend, should be back to posting on Monday.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 82-84

So life goes onward here. The job is requiring more time at present, but that's okay for now. The husband is off this week and next week is a short week because of the holiday, so Bear is getting pretty spoiled here. A friend is coming over in the mornings to go hunting with the husband which is giving Bear a lot of door greeting practice which is excellent for him, especially since I'm still sleeping at arrival time. Barking has not been a part of the picture for either of the dogs, which is really nice!

We've been using the ball quite a bit and doing off leash yard time with both of the dogs as running beyond the bounds of the yard is out of the question right now. We find that as long as there is a focus for the dogs, they stay pretty close and ball is a great focus for them.

Bear has taken to bringing in large chunks of branches that have fallen from the trees this week which is gangs of fun and is giving the vacuum cleaner a good workout. These are great "prizes" to him that he really seems to enjoy collecting. Each is special to him and hidden throughout the house. He's also getting much more comfortable with his crate, wandering in and out at whim, although I haven't seen him curl up for a nap in there on his own yet.

Biggest event for the dogs this week was that, as the grass is dying back, we are beginning to find all of the lost balls and their absolute favorite, the Kong bouncy ball, was found by Bear on one of our walks. It had rolled into the trench by the road. He spotted it and proudly brought it back to show off to The William, who promptly too possession of it and has yet to relinquish.

We found the ball on Tuesday.

Happy Wandering!

The Writer ... and her dog, Bear

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 81 part 2

Oh Irene! Our wealth is not measured in the number of deer we get! It's measured in the security of knowing our community and being able to count on our neighbors... not because they are forced to give by the government and offer their least, but because they want to give and offer their best.

The food and heating situation is just an example of what I am talking about. It extends beyond that all throughout our community. The library is another example. We needed a new one because ours, having been built in the 1800's is now way too small to house the programs and books, let alone computers and equipment needed to move into this new century. We could have just raised taxes. We could have gone to the State. We, as a community, decided not to primarily because we, as a community, wanted to define what we feel will be necessary for our library to have in the future. This offered us an enormous amount of flexibility in designing and building this project, including switching the heating/cooling system, mid-construction, to geothermal.

How are we paying for this project? Donations and The Pumpkin Party. My funnel cakes are helping to build a library...along with donuts, used book sales, and a host of other things that people are doing all throughout this community. We also aren't paying construction crews to build it. We're building it ourselves with our own hands, donated equipment and even some donated materials. Little by little, it's building a library that will outlive all of the people who have participated in building it and the stories that our children pass down to theirs about doing this are what will preserve this place and keep it growing. I think that is one of the best reasons for doing this the way that we are.

Yes, we could have settled for less and had the government do it for us, but why do that when we can design and make exactly what we wanted to ourselves?

It's the difference in our way of thinking, of dreaming and of living that I think we are talking about here... not deer meat, and whether or not we are willing to settle for allowing our government to determine where we live and what we do with our lives. I like being able to determine those things for myself rather than being stuck as some anonymous cog in a system whose only purpose it to perpetuate itself by keeping me dependant upon it.

I don't see that as being justice and I sure don't see being kept incapable as being equality. I see it as slavery.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 81

Welcome to America during hard economic times... The sun has been up for about two hours now and there's no sign of the guys. Haven't heard any shooting at all, so I'm guessing that the rain is having an effect on things this morning. What they need is a cold, clear morning. The deer are all bedded down today and aren't going to be moving in this weather.

Everybody is out today. I saw some of the older guys driving down the hill to the deli. They go down there to dry out and will be back around noon.

For the guys on this hill, the stakes are pretty high this year. In the next farmhouse up the hill, there's a family whose having a tough time. He was a pilot until a few months ago when he just one day didn't have a job anymore. The family is one of the newer ones on the hill. They've lived there for about eight years now. They have six kids and she works as a substitute for the school... their only "steady income" right now. When they moved in, they put everything they had into their new home. Now they're in danger of losing it and, while winter hasn't hit yet, heating is going to be a major issue.

Everyone on the hill knows and consequently filed for every tag they could get...even us. The husband and I don't need more that two deer at the most. The third will go to this family, along with the extras everyone else gets. They will need at least six to get through a year and could probably use eight.

Could this family go on the welfare system? Yes they could, but I don't see that happening in this community...especially with a family like this one. They are hard working people who have come into hard times and I know that this neighborhood is going to take care of them because, here, we rely on each other, not the government. This is how we survive up here and always have.

During my husband's deployments, which lasted almost two years, I wasn't alone. Every eye on this mountain was watching and when I needed help, it was here. Not once was my dignity imposed upon. Things would just happen. If the snow was coming too fast, the snow plough fairy would show up and dig us out in the middle of the night and you'd better believe that my mailbox was always kept accessible. If my tire was flat, one of the guys would show up and help me fix it. If we needed food, it would be in a box by the door. There would never be a note or anything else asking for recognition, just a quiet reassurance that everyone was standing behind us on this hill.

So, yes, we eat deer meat up here. We can buy meat in the stores, but if we had to do that for all of our meat, everyone in the county would be on food stamps because no one could afford to do it. The deer and game, the gardens and the fruit trees are all an integral part of life here and, yes, we do survive on them. The stores are used for toilet paper, laundry soap and supplementing the bulk of our diet that we provide for ourselves and our neighbors. Some may see this as being "primitive." We see it as independence and, as a community, we are very proud of it. To us, "primitive" would be standing by and doing nothing but watching as our neighbors get devoured by bureaucracy when part of the solution is walking around eating our front yards.

I guess it all depends upon the culture you live in.

The guys came in around 10:00 am. I'd like to think it was the aroma of my made from scratch biscuits, but I don't think it was. A father was seen walking the woods with his eldest son. If he's come down this far, it means there was nothing moving up at his place and, as they move down the hill, the "first fruits" of the season and the mountain are being gifted to them. There are enough deer for all of us here, and to us, there is nothing more important than the lessons of independence that father is teaching his son this day.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 80

Oh God... "Opening Day" is tomorrow... For those of you not familiar with the rural life, there is a day every year that signals the hoped for decimation of the local deer population. "Two buck and a doe" are the hoped for commodity.

In the sticks, that's how families survive through the winter.

Tomorrow is the day that all of the men, and many of the women, on the hill here will go out and try for their first deer of the season. Sunrise is happening around 6:03 am, so at 6:02 and about 25 seconds it will sound like a cannon is going off on this hill. By 6:10, the hill will be silent and those that "got theirs" will be heading back to hang it off of the tree in the front yard. Those that didn't will sit and no avail, until 10:00 am or so in the rain.

It's a warm hunting season this year.

So, I'm planning a bacon and egg breakfast at 10:00 am with the Virginia bacon we brought up from down South from the Peanut Guy. Win, loose or draw, the bacon hits the grill at 10:00 and if the guys aren't there to get it... well... Bear and Willie will have a nice breakfast!

All of this has brought the problem of "how to dress" to the forefront for Bear. Hunters shoot at anything during season... well, non-locals anyway. We don't have too many of those on the hill here, but once in a while they do show up and Bear is exactly the type of dog that doesn't come home during this season...not that he's ever off leash, but these guys have been known to shoot horses and cattle in their lust to "kill Bambie." The thing that really gets me is that the non-locals are notorious for taking the yearlings... we call them "ling-lings" who have just lost their spots. The act as though they've taken a monster, when in point of fact, they are thinning the herd from the wrong end.

Anyway, Bear has been a concern in all of this because he really needs his morning walks! Let me rephrase that... I really need him to have his morning walk because if he doesn't, he drives me completely nuts for the rest of the day! So the problem was, what to walk him in. The husband came up with the answer! He had a half-vest that almost but not quite really fits bear and is blaze orange. Should do the trick, but I may just have to get him a hat as well. We shall see how the season goes.

Long season this year, so "the big drive" won't be for another three weeks. That is where the guys go through, "drive" down the hill and do the major culling on the herd. I know it sounds barbaric, but it's a lot better than watching the herd die during the winter and interfering with the cattle herds up the hill. These cattle feed the area as well as the deer. What isn't taken for meat for the hunter's families goes right into the food banks up here and ... well, the food banks have been getting hit pretty hard lately. Between the hunting and the churches... we're hoping that at least the families with children will be able to have holiday dinners this year.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 78-79

With the "Bounding Bear Back" life has been a little bit hectic around here for the past couple of days. Outside time has once again become a necessity and Bear is getting a lot of it! He's feeling good, eating very well again and driving us crazy, which is what a Bear should do, I think.

Veteran's Day passed pretty quietly here. The husband and Vet did the ceremonies in town and indulged in the television Veteran's Day marathon. Both of the boys called from down South. Its always good to hear their voices and talk for a bit. They are both stationed down there but don't really get the chance to spend that much time together as they are kind of busy.

It's been a long war... very long.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 76 and 77...

Boxer Bear is back, brazenly bouncing beyond boundaries, boldly barreling boisterously before balls and broadly bounding by his buddy, the William, tonight...

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Saturday, November 8, 2008

HEY! HEY! HEY!!!!!!!!!

I GOT IT!!!!!!!

Due to technical difficulties, the posting of the winner of "The First Annual Really Silly Halloween Dog Picture Contest" has been slightly ... delayed in presenting on the site, but I am happy to announce that FINALLY, I figured out how to get it up here. Thus, without further adue and many congratulations I now present the winning entry in the above mentioned contest. Many thanks to phaird over at Dog Parks and for all of his assistance with this endeavor and congratulations again to –Luck O The Labrador!!!!

"Big Dog Discrimination

As a big dog owner all of my adult life, I have found there is a certain level of discrimination against the 50+ pound doggy crowd. Some hotels and resorts that are "pet friendly" are actually restricted to small dogs. Some people are more fearful of big dogs just because they are big. Houseguests don't want a big dog on their lap but probably wouldn't mind a small dog or cat.

I'm sure there are other examples but the most discouraging, especially this time of year, is the very small selection of big dog Halloween costumes! Last year, in order to participate in our local doggy day care's Halloween party, I went out in search of a costume for Finn, our 70-lb Labrador. I didn't have much luck as almost all of the costumes were only provided in small and medium sizes. I ultimately settled on a tuxedo and top hat outfit that came in size large. It appeared that all of the super cute costumes - the hot dog, the pumpkin, the dragon, etc. - were reserved for the small dogs.

I quickly discovered that even though the packaging on the tuxedo costume indicated it would fit a 50+ pound dog, I could barely get it zipped. Finn looked like a stuffed sausage as the costume fabric pinched and stretched across his chest and back. Worried that the circulation was being cut off to his legs and chest, the nice staff at doggy day care took some photos and quickly took the costume off.

So this year, I gave up on the costume idea and went with a simple neck scruff that was more comfortable and just as festive. As you can see by the picture, Finn was less than pleased to be wearing it but was a good sport overall! Happy Halloween!"

WOO HOOO! Congratulations Finn for a great job done!!!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 74 and 75

And life is good. Bear is really feeling pretty much himself again and to celebrate his successful surgery, we went out today and got him an appropriately sized Kong. We already did have a Kong that we got for the William right after we got Bear, but Bear kept stealing it, a fact that I was really unhappy about because its the tiny one for 0-14 pound dogs...which Bear is not. I was really afraid of him using it because, for him, its a real choke hazard. He loved this thing though and I kept finding it in his crate... where all treasures now go.

So, anyway, we got one for the 60-90 pound dogs and stuffed it full of dog biscuits. He's been going to town with it ever since! Definitely an excellent deal and worthy of the price!!!

The presentation went well on Thursday night and I think there were a few more signatures added to the petition, which is good. I always get nervous before presentations like that but, aside from the fact that there was no sound and I had to use a boom box for part of it, it went pretty smoothly. It does me a lot of good to get out and talk to people about this issue, especially college kids.

I'm still working on getting Luck of the Labrador up here and will hopefully do so this weekend. I have her post, I just can't get the picture to transfer so we're going to have to work on that. Otherwise, it looks like a quiet, rainy weekend here.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 70-73

My apologies for not posting sooner! Its been a busy week here in the States and we have a new President. Either way the election went, I have a big presentation to do tonight and have been preparing for this along with taking Bear out walking!

He's doing great and feeling pretty much himself again which is great to see! Biggest problem we are having at this point is keeping him from romping. That we can live with but has caused a great deal of frequent short walks. He is also finally sleeping through the night, pretty much now. He's still waking up but its usually around midnight so I'm getting an uninterrupted chunk of sleep again which I really needed!

Normally I won't get political on this blog, but with the election just passed and some of the things that I am working on, I really have to pass this on. The presentation I am doing tonight is a series of power points about my two grand-daughters. Both of these little girls were born premature. The first was born at 25 weeks gestation, 5 months, and the second at 35 weeks. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. As you can guess, this is a huge issue to me and, not surprisingly, after seeing what these two little ones endured in the early days and months of their lives, I support The March of Dimes in their efforts to see that every baby in the US gets a normal 40 week pregnancy.

Currently, 1 out of every 8 babies is being born in this country premature. Every day, 1400 babies are being born too soon here. One third of all babies who die in this country do so because of the effects of prematurity. What they, and their families endure is heart-wrenching and if there is a way to stop this from happening, I want it to become a reality.

If you feel that way too, please consider visiting , and signing the petition to continue funding for research, treatment and training for these little ones and their families. These children don't have a voice, but I do. As this is National Prematurity Awareness month, I'm using it as well as my signature in the hope that it will help them.

I hope that you will too.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 69

And Bear does not deal well with pain killers!

Having finally gotten over the effects of the anesthesia, Bear was feeling pretty uncomfortable by this afternoon, so when the husband got home, we gave him one of the pain killers that the vet gave us for him. This proved to be a mistake for several reasons, but primarily because, rather than calming him down, it wound him right up like a clock! Granted, he felt no pain but he also lost all self control in area of contenance and has turned into the ADD/ADHD 70 pound puppy... with stitches.

This is not a good situation and thus, we have decided no more pain meds for Bear!

He is eating better as I have added canned food to his normal fare, but is still not feeling the greatest. He's still breathing through his nose quite a bit, which is nice for him! Its just going to take some time, I think.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 68

Thank you to everyone for the well wishes for Bear! He had a little trouble this morning, but the vet said that he would and it has gotten better as the day has progressed. I think he gave him enough sedative for a horse, but it has finally worn off and Bear seems to have his legs back for the most part. I think that tomorrow we are going to go for a short walk and I'll see how he does with that.

I don't know if this is harder for bigger dogs or the medications they had to use because of the breathing or what, but I don't remember any of our dogs ever having this tough of a time coming out of the anesthesia before. Its been kind of a humbling experience, to say the least. He is doing well now, though, and chewing on his bone for the first time since he got home. William still won't play with him and is watching from a distance and Bear doesn't seem real inclined to wrastle yet. He has shown an interest in playing ball, though. We're a few days from doing that yet but it'll come. Its just nice to be looking into his big black button eyes and seeing somebody there again! Interestingly, he is still breathing through his nose too. I don't expect that to last, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 67...Final update and the winner is....

Its been a busy afternoon and evening and as I await phaird's opinion on all of the photos to see if he agrees with me or not, I thought a final update was in order. Bear is doing well, although I've spent most of today catching him as he falls over sideways because he's still a bit loopy. He was given extra steroids to help his breathing through the surgery and, because of his size, the went a bit heavy on the pre-surgery relaxants. I kind of hope he's enjoying the steroids because this is probably the only day he will be able to breathe through his nose the way he is and smell things the way that he is. Tomorrow or the day after, it will probably be back to panting and snoring.

He's just getting to the point now where he is feeling comfortable not touching me and is actually asleep in the other room while I'm writing this. He was pretty upset at first and wouldn't get off of my feet.

Willie is being great. Never more than a few feet away from Bear, he's keeping an eye on him but not teasing or trying to play. He was a bit concerned about the lack of food and water and told me about it quite adamantly. He had his food and water in his crate, but around 6:00 pm, decided it was time to get some down in the big bowls for Bear and that enough was enough. I put a little food and water down, which Bear has been able to keep down quite well, and the William proceeded to ignore it. The husband had fed and watered him this morning while Bear was at the vet so Will wasn't hungry to begin with. It was just the principle of the thing that was bothering him, I think.

I really want to thank everyone who sent pictures in! It really made my day to be able to check in and see all of these great pictures! The hardest thing has been to try to "judge" them impartially because I really feel like I know all of your dogs! This is one of the reasons I wanted to pull phaird, the dog photographer, in on this. I think he can look at these more objectively than I can because every time I pull one up I think "Oh...there's so and so and he looks so cute!" because they all do!

So, at 9:52 pm, the winner is still pending and if we don't get it up here by midnight tonight, we will definitely be trying to get it up by tomorrow...depending upon contact with whomever. In any event, we will definitely keep you posted!

Oop! Just heard from phaird and the verdict...I mean the vote is in! The winner of this year's First Ever Annual Really Silly Halloween Dog Photo Contest is ........................................................
................................................(this is a drum roll in cyberspace)...........................................................

FINN over at Luck O The Labrador !

Congratulations, Finn and I hope to hear back from you soon!

Again, I want to thank everyone who participated in this and hope it was as much fun for all of you as it was for us! It really has made a different animal out of Halloween for me, but I have to say that the coolest part of this whole thing, for me, has been watching you guys interacting with each other through this and seeing new links being made that maybe wouldn't have been there before!

Life isn't a spectator sport, even in cyberspace!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 66.... 67

2nd update... Bear is home, a bit wobbly on his feet and seriously groggy! As I write, he is laying at my feet sound asleep. The surgery went very well and he had no problems with the anesthesia and breathing. They did it first thing this morning and called me at work about an hour after I got there. He was pretty upset when I left him, and pretty upset when I picked him up but seems very happy to be home now...just really sleepy.

We've got a couple of hours to go before 5:00pm so I'm thinking that a nap might be in order for me!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Update... Because of the contest, I'm going to just update here until tonight. We are now down to it and will be shortly walking out the door to go to the vet. Bear is not a happy camper this morning...not so much because there isn't any food down, but because he hasn't had any water since last night. Being a mouth breather, he dries out quickly and loves to have his water. He also didn't have his "cookie" when he came in this morning so he knows something is up with that. Anyway, I'm looking forward to tonight when Bear will hopefully be back home and sleeping things off. It depends upon how he does with the anesthesia as to whether he will be able to come home or have to spend the night at the vet's. I'm hoping he's home!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, this may seriously change my opinion about Halloween! We've got a great start going with and Bad Mutha Fudruckers !!! These ladies have set the bar high, Gang, and left Bear and I, both, with a smile on our faces as we face our hour of .... well... ya know.
After taking a first glimpse here, I'm thinking that I'm going to have to call on you, phaird, for some impartial judging assistance. These ladies are good and its going to prove difficult to pick just one!
Enter early and as often as you like! This is definitely proving to be fun!!!
Happy wandering!
The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 65 part 2...and the "Really Silly Halloween Picture Contest"

Okay, I'm going to admit it. Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. As a matter of fact, on a scale of 1-10, Halloween has always rated about a negative 73.2. I really despise horror movies too and there is probably some Freudian connection in all of this, but the bottom line is that I've just never gotten into the whole Halloween thing... until I took this picture during Bear and Willie's first game of ball.

At the time, I thought, "Wow! They look like two goolies with pumpkin heads running through a field!" and actually, they do. I also thought that everybody probably has one of these pictures of their dog where the flash buggers their eyes and their love of a dog looks possessed. "Wouldn't it be fun," I wondered, "to run a contest for the "best Halloween dog picture" on the blogsphere?"

I querried with phaird over at Dog Parks about it...Hi phaird!... and he was willing to help out, but then things got busy with the job and ... well, life, the universe and everything, so the idea kind of fizzled...until today when I realized that on Halloween, the husband is out of town and Bear is in surgery all day and recovering all night so its really going to be pretty boring around here! So, in the hopes of not being bored to death on Halloween night, I am launching the "First Official Best Halloween Dog Picture Contest!" If you've got one of these pictures, post it on your site, hit my comments and let me know you have it up and I will come around and see if yours wins. The first and only prize will be that you can post your picture and the story behind it here on my site... and maybe I can find a blog award thingie to go with it. 5:00 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time on October 31, 2008 (oops! forgot to put that in earlier...) is the cut off and we will hopefully be posting the winner at midnight on Halloween.

The rule is, its got to be a picture of your dog, suitable for publishing on this blog, and have something to do with, the one above, costumed, messing with the pumpkin...whatever. Have fun with it but be tasteful. You are also going to have to do a paragraph about it...which is three sentences or more in legnth.

I know, incredibly silly but it will keep me occupied... and phaird, if ya wanna lend a hand on this you're more than welcome!

Oh, and the more the merrier on this thing so if you want to post about it on your site, feel free!
(I'm really not looking forward to sitting around here all night by myself watching Bear sleep off the anesthesia...)

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 65

I am seriously bummed this morning! As you can see from the photo above, there was snow just not here. Bear did get a taste of some that had collected on the leaves a few minutes ago, but did not get to play in the predicted 3-7 inches they were calling for all day yesterday.

Every school in the county either didn't open at all or released the children by noon yesterday because of this storm.

All evening activities, everywhere, were canceled last night.

Everyone in the county was expecting to wake up this morning to a snowday and ya know what we got? A whole lot of wind and some flurries.

Even as I write this, it is snowing outside and blowing like a bat. Is anything laying? No.

This storm was a gyp and I feel seriously cheated because, for the first time in my life, I was really looking forward to coming home and shoveling because Bear would be playing in his first snow with me while I did it.

Well, maybe next time. There will be other storms this year, I'm sure.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 64

Just got the call. Bear has "wonderful" blood and the surgery is set for first thing Friday morning. This tells me two things. First, the vet probably snuck in the DNA test and is really tickled about what he found because it probably confirms that Bear is a 100% purebred all American web footed mutt and he must have really impressed them because he was bumped to the front of the line for the surgery!

All of that aside, something more exciting is happening now and I hope the power doesn't go out before I finish writing this. We are having what looks to be the first snow of the year today. Combine a wind more powerful that "the blusteries" from the other day and snow instead of rain and you've got the idea of what's happening only this one is taking down trees all over the place. It hasn't laid here yet, but I'm hoping by tomorrow it will. It's an interesting storm because there is a snowline that is just above us with it. Earlier, I could look over to the mountains acrosss the way and see it clearly, but it's snowing and blowing too hard to see over there now. I'm hoping that by late tonight and definitely in the morning there will be enough to let Bear go out and play in! Because he was born last spring, he hasn't seen a snow. This will be his first and we get to be a part of it! He wasn't really much impressed when we went out to go hurry earlier, but once it's on the ground, I think he's going to have a blast!!!

Willie really isn't very much of a snow beast. He gets cold really quickly and the snow clumps up in his paws and fur. Bear, on the other hand, looks to be bred for it! I think we're going to find out about that pretty soon!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 61,2 and 3

The weekend is over and it was back to work today but not before Bear went to the vet for his pre-surgery checkup. He did very well and the vet really looked him over! He's gained 11 pounds since he has been with us which seemed odd to me because it doesn't seem like he has grown all that much. As per the vet, he should top out at somewhere around 100 pounds. His bones won't seal until probably around 18 months so he's got the bulk of his growing yet to do. As the vet put it, he is going to be a very substantial dog!

Bear does have a diagnosis of being a "Mouth Breather" and having "Breathing Problems." He checked his face thoroughly and could not be sure whether the problem with his snout is due to a break or genetic as there was evidence to support both, including the chipped canine which he could have done himself. In the end, it doesn't really matter because the result is the same. He cannot be muzzled, because of the breathing and with the breathing combined with his coat and coloring, he's going to have a rough time in the heat and we need to keep him cool. ( I guess this means we won't be moving to NC to be with the kids anytime in the near to immediate future but should start thinking about summering in Alaska or Nova Scotia.)

The other thing that might be breathing related but might also be breed related is the just stopping and laying down in the middle of our walks and play. Bear gets short bursts of energy but wears out pretty quickly. This could be breathing but could also be that he looks to have St. Bernard in him...and Bernese Mountain Dog...and Rottweiler...and Boxer/Boston terrier or Pug... but not Akita or Chow. Without a DNA test, we're probably never going to know what he is exactly except that he's an "All American, web footed Mutt" and a really cool dog!

I'm okay with that.

The vet and staff were all very impressed with how well Bear was listening to me and how intelligent he is! I swear it was the starvation for the blood work because he really was perfect the entire time. He alerted on the vet the first time the vet walked into the waiting room but didn't growl or anything, just watched... which is what he's supposed to do. The vet looked at me when Bear did this and said to me, "His job is to take care of you, isn't it?" I had never really thought about it that way before, but it really is and he does seem to take this very seriously. He was "working" the entire time we were out and made sure to check everything and everyone to see if they were "friend or foe" in the office...not so much to him, but to me.

He didn't have a problem with any of the other animals there...and there were dogs and cats who were just kind of wandering around the office and waiting area, except right before we left when a man came in with a Doberman mix that he couldn't really control. Bear didn't growl or lunge but he did place himself very solidly between me and this other dog and gave him "the glare" that said, "If you really feel like coming over here, it's really gonna be the last thing you do." The vet was really great about it and calmly told the owner of the other dog that Bear would not tolerate this dog getting near me, while he navigated Bear and I to a "safe area" in the waiting room and body blocked the Doberman into an exam room because it kept lunging at Bear and I. Bear stood his ground, but did not get aggressive toward the other dog, which was really good because the way this dog and owner were acting, I was about to and the only thing preventing this was Bear! He also didn't make a sound through that whole thing, which was interesting.

Anyway, I was really proud of him! He listened to me the entire time but also kept constantly assessing the situation even while he was being examined and that is exactly what he is supposed to do. He also read me very well and picked up on what he was supposed to do and how he was supposed to behave. The best thing was that he operated in concert with me .... without a whole lot of verbalization on my part which really surprised me a lot!

So, should everything come back okay with his blood work, we are on for Friday!

As to the nail file... So far, it takes getting used to for both of the dogs. Neither will tolerate me doing their nails with it yet, but both allow Tom to. As far as the job it does... eh... I think at this point a clipper would be faster and less of a hassle for them. The other thing about it is that, because of his coat and the webbing on his feet, Bear has a lot of tactile hair between his toes and the vibration tickles him a lot so we can only use it for very short time periods before he goes nuts and tries to eat it.

Would I recommend it? I think its to early to tell at this point as it definitely takes the dogs getting used to. My one note on this is that if you're going to get one, don't get it from eBay. Ours was supposed to come with four extra emery's and an instructional video. It came with one extra emery and no instructions.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, October 24, 2008

Day 60

And I'm toasted! Not only is everyone sick with strep or on a conference...the only sane person in this office is ten years pregnant and about to pop with a 10 pound baby who is premature!

But I got to go up and play with the baby all throughout the day when I got too aggravated with the computer and phones!

Who says my job doesn't have perks?

Bear got to spend the day frolicking with the husband and Willie and is now quietly resting.

I ordered one of those battery operated dog nail files on ebay and the husband tried it out tonight. Willie just about "de"-handed him while he was using it...which was pretty funny. Bear hasn't had his turn with it yet. I figure that tomorrow is bath day and I will do it then. He did do quite a bit of ear schlarping and sitting on the chair with me, but that's a normal even with him.

This has been an incredibly long week for both of us. Thank goodness I don't go in to work until Monday afternoon! He needs a good romping of a weekend and I think that is what we are going to have!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 59

Ugh........ I just got home from work. Everyone in the office either has strep or is at a I guess tomorrow I'm the agency. Lovely.

On a personal note, I made Bear's appointments today. Monday, we go in for blood work and to get his face checked out to make sure that we can do this. Because of Bear's breathing, the vet wants to do a really thorough check before using anesthesia with him, a move I thoroughly appreciate! If all goes well and his blood work is good, the surgery is Friday of next week. That will give us the opportunity to be here with him during early recovery which I will feel much better about!

It was a really really long day today, ending in facilitating a satellite class tonight, so I am exhausted and I think Bear knows. He's been a real softie with me since I got home and just wants to hang around with me...and sit on my desk chair with me while I write...and drool in my ear... I still haven't figured out how he manages to fit up here at the same time as I do.

Oh well. It his way of letting me know that the day was as long for him as it was for me. Its kind of nice to come home to someone who just wants lay on my ankles and chew on my feet...

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 58

HA! Okay, today's a great day. It really is. I worked all day and got home late to check the mail...and do you know what was there? That's right!

THE CERTIFICATE HAS ARRIVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, its that long awaited certificate from the New York State Department of Agriculture that will curtail Bear's ever growing urge to climb on me and enable him to develop consistent thought patterns in the near to immediate future! Not only that, it will be our part in the growing effort to curb the overpopulation of stray dogs on the planet and establish my community in the New York State Department of Agriculture's spay/neuter program.

Thank you! Thank you!

Its been a strain on everyone in the household, but we've made it through the most difficult phase of this endeavor and better times are at hand for us. The only bummer is that I'm going to have to call from work tomorrow to schedule the appointment because the vet was closed by the time I got home...

Before everyone gets upset and thinks that I have a grudge against unfixed dogs, I would like to clarify why this is such a big deal to me. We've always had multiple dogs in the household and one of the things we noticed early on in our years of domestic bliss with canines is that dogs that are not fixed get difficult to handle, for us, especially when there are more than one of them. It has been our experience that neutered male dogs make much nicer, calmer pets and get along much better with each other and everyone else. I want that for both of these guys and that's why we are doing it. It has nothing to do with altruism and an overpopulation of dogs on the planet and everything to do with wanting Bear's experience as a pet and my experience as a pet owner to be the best one that we can have. Its completely selfish. Oh well...

Should the weather cooperate, treasure hunting will hopefully recommence tomorrow although its looking pretty nasty out there tonight...

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 57

This is the time of year where "The Blusteries" come through here. Short storms with ferocious winds that hit in minutes and bring leaves and limbs crashing to the ground! It seems late to be hitting this year, but I think that has more to do with the incredibly long and early Indian Summer we just had than anything else. We really don't rake the leaves too much up here because of this. Everyone knows that one good bluster and they're all going to be gone...or all over the side of the yard you just raked.

This was our day today. Blusteries blowing in and out with a hint of the snow that will be coming soon. Unfortunately, this pretty much "tanked" our plans for "treasure hunting" today. We were up behind the house playing ball when this one hit. It was Bear's first time out of a kennel during a storm, let alone one like this. It was really interesting to watch his reaction to the whole thing because he panicked. I was watching the storm approach over Red Mountain across the way. It hit the top and came climbing down faster than Willie could find his precious ball and Bear was beside himself. He didn't know whether he should bolt for the tree line, grab Willie and carry him to the house or grab me and carry me. As the rain began to hit sideways and the wind blasted, he froze not knowing what to do.

With Willie finally in possession of the ball, I started to run around the house under the trees which caused a great deal of concern for Bear. Finally we hit the porch and all got into the house before getting thoroughly soaked. Missing my treasure hunt for the day, I grabbed the camera and began video taping from the porch, remembering the fun I used to have with the kids watching storms like this blow through. These are the storms that Rip Van Winkle was made of, bouncing between the mountains and rolling through the valleys, carrying great peels of thunder in the summer...

Realizing those days are now gone, I turned the camera off, opened the old screen door to come in and dry the dogs.

And those memories are my treasures for this day.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 56

Something happened today that really got me thinking. This morning, I posted my entry and suddenly I was getting views from all over the world within minutes. It was really interesting to watch because this was the first time this had happened to me on the blogger network. I didn't know what was happening or why and it got my brain turning.

Fifty-six days ago, I began this blog about a journey... a "wanderung" I wanted to make with my dog that I didn't even have then. Finding the dog, I became entrenched in the processes of training and working him so that he would be able to make this "wanderung" with me. He's still a long way from being able to make that journey and so am I, but the desire to make it is still there because I think that a journey of this nature is an important thing to do, not because I want to get out there and explore, which I do, but because I think that the world needs somebody out there who is willing to go out there and find the good things that are happening every single day that nobody knows anything about. These thing are little jewels, treasures if you will, hidden away all over the world and nobody ever sees them because they're part of everyday life.

On any given day we can look at our computer screens or on the TV and see horrible things happening on what seems like every square inch of the globe. "The stock market is crashing! We're all gonna die!" "Global warming is killing the planet! We're all gonna die!" "We're running out of oil! We're all gonna die!" "You didn't get the spots out of your laundry! We're all gonna die!" "If you don't vote for this one or that one, you're not a patriot and ...We're all gonna die!"

You know what? I'm sick of that. I really am. Not for nothing but... I'm sick of the hours on end of horrible events with a sixty second human interest montage thrown in for good measure here and there so that we can all go to bed feeling warm and fuzzy in the full knowledge that its okay because .... "We're all gonna die!"

Guess what, people. Part of living is dying and, yes, when the time comes, all of us are going to die.

That's life. Get over it.

The thing that gets to me about all of this, though, is that we ,as a people, are so focused on the catastrophe of the moment that the moments we are living get lost in these catastrophes and lives are going by without having ever really experienced any of the treasure that makes life worth living for. These moment and relationships are really what life is about and people are completely missing them because they are so caught up in an endless global catastrophic moment that, in the grander scheme of things, they really can't do a whole bunch about...and to me, that is heartbreaking.

So in thinking about all of this, and seeing the great flux in my stats this morning, I wondered what I would do if I had this blog and these moments to say something significant to humanity. What is the thing I would want to show the world in this moment that I am living in right now? Not surprisingly, I realized that I would want to show them and share with them the treasures I have in my life, so that they would know they weren't alone in this world and that it really is okay to feel good about things too...and I'd want Bear to do it with me.

So this week, that's what I'm going to do.

Today is a simple treasure that I noticed when I drove up to the house from work. Its a color, a really special color to me. There is an orange that happens to sugar maple trees this time of year that only happens when the light is shining just right and the moment is right there. It only lasts for a few moments every year, but I saw it on the maple by the driveway today as I turned in to park. I ran inside, let the dogs out of their crates, grabbed the camera and the dogs and while they had their time to stretch, I reached out with the camera and snatched that treasure for my own. Now, I want to share it with you...and go make some phone calls because there are more hidden treasures around here that I want the world to know about this week.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 54 and 55

Well, we have had some limited success with Bear at night. I have discovered that if I stay up a half an hour or so later, until 10:30 or 11:00 pm, and let Bear out right before bed that he sleeps until 5:30 or six. We had been hitting the hay around 9:30 or 10:00 pm because we're up at 5:30 am. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is huge! He has been waking up once or twice a night, usually at 1:37 am and 4:19 am since we got him. I finished midnight feedings and wakeups with the kids roughly 16 years ago so this dual waking throughout the night has been very wearing for me as it is accompanied by an outing as well. For the past two nights there have been no chewing sessions or messes when we wake up! Yay!

Exercise is going much better as we are giving Bear and Will a lot of yard time playing ball and chase. Bear and I also did some walking in the fields and picture taking as my daughter is homesick for fall and wanted some pictures. I guess the leaves don't change in North Carolina...but then again, we don't have a beach here. I don't think there is anywhere that fall happens like here in the North East!
Happy wandering!
The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day 53

On the first night of temper tantrums
my doggie gave to me....
barking incessantly....

On the second night of temper tantrums
my doggie gave to me...
two pair of chewed shoes
and barking a little less incessantly...

I don't know if its because of the full moon or what, but Bear is...quite frankly, indescribable the past few days and nights. My sandals and my most comfortable loafers...both leather, were removed from my room last night while we slept, chewed to shreds and messed on top of right square in the middle of the living room floor... and the certificate for neutering did not arrive in the mail today.

I know, I'm a saint for stubbornly standing behind my community that stood behind me and getting this program in place and all that, but I'm about ready to fix this dog myself if that certificate doesn't tomorrow! I mailed it last Friday and it should be here by now, holiday or not. Not for nothing doesn't take a week to open a cabinet, fill out a certificate and mail it back. This is not that complex a task!

But I rant...

In any event, the barking today seems to be directed toward me rather than the husband, who has been home all day and working in the yard with the dogs who should both be exhausted but aren't. Mouthing as well. We are sticking to the standing and walking away tactic and it is working, but Bear seems to forget after a bit and try again. Maybe tomorrow's mail will bring the long awaited certificate.

I feel like the guy on "Blue's Clues" waiting for the mailman.

Hopefully tonight will go better.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 51 and 52

Somebody's been throwing temper tantrums and it isn't me, the husband or even "The William."

It started over the weekend when Bear discovered he had a voice and that he didn't like to entertain himself. This explains the lack of posting because every time I sat down to write, I have been boxed with the paws, climbed on and when all else failed, barked at with increasing volume and voiciferousness.

This doesn't work for me or the husband for that matter, so today we decided to get matters under control. Every time Bear either barks, paws or mouths on us, we are standing up and turning our backs to him with our arms crossed over our chests. If he walks around in front of us, we simply turn around and put our backs to him again. We don't have to yell. We don't have to swat or push him...and we don't have to put up with being mawled at, barked at and constantly interrupted from everything we are doing because Bear wants us to entertain him 24/7.

Right now he's a bit confused about it, but is calming down in the house fifty thousand percent which should improve the regularity of my posting. It is amazing how quickly this behavior escalated and how draining it was becomming! Bear was literally climbing on me every time I sat down to do anything and all of the walking and playing in the world was not helping the situation. I am sure that part of it has to do with hormones, but a lot of it is puppy stuff too. Again I run into the problem with him that he is a very large pup and, consequently, his puppy stuff can be painful to the rest of us and has to be corrected.

While I would love to say that we thought of this technique ourselves, we didn't. We stole it from the dog lady. We watch her show a lot and saw it there, thinking at the time that it was pretty dumb. It really does work though! It takes consistency, but after about an hour of both the husband and I doing it, Bear is actually minding his manners.

The hardest thing about this behavior is that this wasn't really a "control thing" on Bear's part. He just wanted to play...incessantly and to be engaged with us, incessantly. At his age, its hard to realize that all three of us, even "The William," get tired and sore after a bit and that, in the house, romp, tug and wrestle are not good games to play...and barking every time you don't get your way doesn't cut it either.

In the end, I can't wait for the neutering certificate to get here because I think that is going to help a lot, but even without it, we are correcting the behavior without being punative and that's a really good thing!

As far as the "come" training is going, Bear is doing much better than "The William." Because he wants to be wherever we are, he isn't going very far and all we have to do is walk in the opposite direction and call him and he's there. "The William" on the other hand, comes when he feels like it, so I am giving a loud and high pitched "Bop!", waving my arms and walking in the opposite direction. Will thinks he's going to miss something and pretty much comes running now, after Bear is at my we're getting there.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 50

And we are back to walking! Bear is now unconscious in the doorway. That's okay though, because he's been driving us up the wall for two days now. Unconscious is good for a while.
He slept through last night as well, a really good thing because I'm getting kind of old for the 2:00 am outings. Little by little we are getting there, I think.

Big event this weekend for him is that he is using the bowls in his crate! He likes to wander in a little bit at this point which is very nice. We are getting there as well.

Behavior training is coming along pretty well. Walking today was pretty good with fewer distractions. I think I'm going to start applying some training stuff there too in an effort to try to improve his concentration. One of the things I'm doing is shortening his training walks. Right now we are doing a little under a half a mile. I think I'm going to keep it there for right now until he can really hold his attention for that time and distance. Its also enough of a walk on the mountain to tire him out for a bit.

I don't know if its his age or breathing or what, but he does tire quickly. If there is St. Bernard in him, that would be why. During puppydom, St. Bernards tire easily because they are growing so much. I don't see that Bear has gotten all that much bigger but, from my perspective, I probably wouldn't notice that much. I'm going to have to ask the vet about this when we take him in, which I'm really looking forward to at this point.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 49

Hi guys. Rough day today. I arose late and had to rush off to a doctor's appointment which was followed by a funeral for a friend's mother and then another doctor's appointment for the husband's knees, so its been a day.

All of this running around has made for a very rammy Bear this evening so we have been playing ball and wrastling and playing tug of war and I'm whomped. He, on the other hand, thinks we should play some more. I think tomorrow we are going to take two walks as well as playing outside because he is driving me nuts.

CC asked in the comments what we are doing for teaching Bear the "come" command. There are several schools of thought on this. One school is that we could put him on a lead with a choke chain and have him come to us from the sit position using a tug on the command. Another school is that we could use treats and reward him with them every time he comes. Yet another is that we could turn it into a game for him and finally build a strong enough relationship that when we call him, he can't concieve of doing anything other than responding to us.

The last option was what I had with the Budman from day one. On the first day that we had him, I had him on a cable run and was talking to a neighbor by the road. Bud actually broke the cable and came charging over because the only thing he wanted in the world was to sit next to me, which he proceeded to do.

Some relationships are like that. The one that I have with Bear is not...yet. Bear, at this point, knows he has a "good gig" going here and is "jazzed to be on the show" but the absolute, unconditional bond isn't there with him yet. He doesn't feel that he needs to be right there with me the way that Buddy did. This is not to say that he doesn't like me or love me, he just doesn't trust that I am in charge yet and probably won't until after he is neutered, if then. As far as he understands, I've never been there when he has absolutely needed a human to be there for him and he's never been scared here. When he goes to the vet, even though the vet I am using is one of the most gentle people I've ever known, he will be separated from his home and us and when we come back for him, that will probably be the point at which things will change for him because we won't just be dumping him, we will be coming back for him. That's a new experience for Bear.

So, for now, we are using a lot of games...I call him and run or walk in the opposite direction until he comes. I get down on the ground and "play bow" while calling him and sometimes I scold him when he knows he's being naughty and taking off with the ball or ignoring me in the house. Scolding is the least effective, at this point. Also, I'm not really using treats as "rewards" but more as a part of the daily schedule of things. I know that a lot of people "treat train" their dogs, but I really don't want a dog to behave on the basis of whether or not it gets a treat. I want a dog who behaves on the basis of the relationship it has with me and that, in this case, is gonna take some time and growing for both Bear and me.

Those are the best tips I can give you on this one, although the game one from saratogajean on the last post was good too so check it out.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 48

Boy, today is a lazy day! Well, not really but it feels like it. Bear and I went for a short walk this morning which he really seemed to enjoy and I used to kind of assess how much ground we have lost on his training with my foot thing. He didn't do too badly but any distractions present and he looses all concentration. I really need to work on that because when we are outside, his focus needs to be on me. He's doing pretty well off leash, however, he's starting to get interested in the deer tracks and that's not okay. We were able to call him off of one today, actually I was, by starting to run in the opposite direction he was going and calling him. His "fun junkie" instinct is still stronger than his hunting instinct and that's a good thing because it makes him easier to call out if he starts following on something he shouldn't.

I'm really starting to see a lot of boxer traits in his disposition. One of them is that if you chase or follow after him, he will continue to go where he is going and run. If you challenge him to a game of romp, he can't resist it. I think that Boxers train more easily if you make things a game rather than a challenge and I'm going to work with that and see if we can't improve his on leash behavior.

Bear is also being a real "cuddle bug" today which is really nice. He's been really calm and just following us around the house as we putter. When we sit, he is actually just laying down beside us and hanging out. He's enjoyed coming down to the basement with me and doing laundry or watching the husband work on the computer because his knees are still bothering.

I'm hoping to get another training session in tonight with Bear and maybe another short walk. We will see. I think we need to work on "come" for a bit.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 47

Good day today. Quiet, but good. I decided to clean the fish tank before it became completely engulfed by algea and Bear thought that was big fun. He enjoys the fish, really. I've never seen a dog watch things like fish tanks and TV but Bear really enjoys both. I have five goldfish in a 30 gallon tank and Bear really enjoys watching them. He doesn't go after the tank, but just kind of sits there and watches sometimes. Anyway, he thought that pulling out all of the ornaments and rocks and cleaning them was really pretty cool.

Other big event for the day was that the bowls arrived for the crates. Willie thinks this is definitely the final touch that was missing. Bear isn't quite sure yet but is using the water dish in his. They both also had a bath today with organic soap and organic doggie cream rinse/dip. The rinse/dip stuff smells like beer because of the hops in it but boy did it make both of their coats look and feel wonderful! Now if I can just get beyond the smell it'll be great.

The rest of the day was mingled with outside and inside activities. We brought another load of wood around which the dogs really enjoyed...especially riding inside the cab of the pickup for the 40 feet around to the front of the house. We also had a great game of ball this evening which was big fun.

Didn't risk the walk today as my foot wasn't doing too well today and the husband blew out his knee yesterday while working on a ladder to fix the chimney. Gotta love thouse home repair injuries! Hopefully we will be able to get out in the morning tomorrow...

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, October 10, 2008

Day 46

Busy day, gang! Sorry to be posting so late but...the whole life thing happens, ya know?

Anyway, many things must be addressed today. For those of you who weren't watching last night, Hawk was indeed on TVagain and behaved just as well as he did the first time we saw him on the Animal Planet Dog Championships. Congratulations and Kudos to Hawk!

Secondly but only in order, not in importance, if you haven't gone already, take a trip over to the Luck o the Labradors!!!!! FINN MADE IT!!!!!!!! I am so proud of Finn and his person!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finn is now not only a good citizen, something Bear and Will are both dreaming about, but he is a full blown THERAPY DOG as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has been a really long journey for both Finn and his person, but THEY MADE IT and I am thrilled for both! CONGRATULATIONS to BOTH of you and please keep us posted on how you guys do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, in reality, I am jealous here because Bear and Willie desperately want to be "Good Citizens." For real. I know it. They really we're working on it.... and Bear's application was mailed today.

Next thing is that the STUFFIES ARRIVED TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, Willie's is still intact. Bear's was demolished in like ... maybe two minutes. It was really cute. It was a teddy bear.... I'm never investing in one again because Moo Moo at least lasted a week. From now on we do the Moo Moo and variants....

On the crate training we have the following pictures.

And other incredibly silly things I have done for my dog....

Ear schlarps mean I own him....

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day 45 part 2

As promised, the photos of the crates....

Yes, that is Willie in the smaller one...

Its really kind of embarrassing how much he is enjoying his crate...
Note that Bear's is standing empty...
Because Bear decided to nap on the other side of Willie...

So we're working on it........

Oh, and the application from the State arrived today. Tomorrow it begins the second leg of the journey.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 45

Yesterday was a pretty challenging day at work and, as I let the colors of the leaves soak into my mind on the drive home from work, I made a ton of plans for what I wanted to do once I arrived. They all went out the window as I drove into the driveway and saw the two boxes sitting on the porch.

The crates had arrived!

Now, setting up the crates was not a major source of time consumption. What took the time was removing half the furniture from the living room so that there would be room for them. It isn't that Willie's is so big but Bear's is. Its a 48 inch long crate. Bear and I can both sit in this thing and still have room, which we did yesterday after I got it set up. (He thought that was BIG fun!) To have a place for this crate and Will's, I'm having to remove two chairs and a table from the room. This doesn't really leave us much furniture left in the room because it is a small room to begin with.

I thought about that for a few and decided that, while it isn't the norm to have a couch and two dog crates as the main furniture of a living room, for us this is okay...and an expression of our changing lifestyle. "Less is more" and in our life, the priorities are now changing. We have two dogs that we love and we want to be safe, healthy, happy and with us while we spend our evenings together. The crates in the living room, is thus a non-compromise situation, so our guests can socialize with us in the kitchen...which they always do anyway.

Willie loves his crate! He knew what it was as soon as he saw the boxes on the porch. The funniest thing was watching him wait patiently while I set Bear's up and then escorting me through setting his up. I had just gotten the blanket in and hadn't even moved it into place and he was in his and curled up. If I didn't know better, I would say that he has wanted a crate just like this for his entire life...which he has, kind of.

My mother-in-law lives with Willie's sister from a different litter. Her name is Gia and she has a crate that is a bit smaller than this one but otherwise the same. William has always wanted to spend time in that crate when we visit and tries to, which of course, Gia will not allow. Now he has his own and he knows it. He spent the evening going in and out of it and slept in it all night.

We're leaving the doors open to them when we are here so that the dogs can just go in and hang out if they feel like it. Bear doesn't do that yet, but we have the whole weekend to work on it. The husband is home today as he is dutifully burning up his sick leave before retirement. Tomorrow is his day off and then we have a three day weekend because of Columbus Day which should be "Erickson Day" or "Pocahontas Day" but isn't. I'm thinking that by then we should have him warmed up to the idea that his crate is a good place and hopefully the rest of the stuff will arrive by Tuesday.

So, I'm going to leave you here with this because I have to go get ready for work. Hopefully tonight I will be able to get some pictures up of all of this for you.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Day 45

I love this fall weather! I think I could live in this kind of weather all year long. For me its perfect except for the fact that it only lasts a couple of weeks.

Yesterday was a perfect day. It was sunny, clear and crisp all day long. I was able to walk Bear a little in the morning, but think I'm going to hold off until this weekend to do anymore of that as the toe has been a bit sore since then. We went out back after work and played ball for a while which both of the dogs really enjoyed. After that we hit the pear tree and got some of the last of the pears it looks like. Bear got one that we have both been watching. He took it over into the taller grass and just laid there and relished this thing. It was really funny to watch him doing it because it was like he was eating the most wonderful food on the planet!

A few more days and the pears will be gone, unfortunately. The apples are starting to come though and they should last a few weeks for him. I don't know what I'm going to do once fruit season passes here because he really has enjoyed being able to just go out and pick it up off of the ground or bushes. He also loves to eat grass, but with the frost coming, which has already started here, that will be dead soon too. I've never seen a dog eat fruits, veggies and grass like this guy does. Berries, yes, and sometimes grass too, but never to the extent Bear does. Every time Bear goes out, he goes right for the long grass and munches away. He eats his dog food fine, but really seems to need the other stuff as well. I guess I'm going to have to start making him salads and fruit salads this winter...

Anyway, last evening, when the husband got home we went out and brought over a load of fire wood. The dogs love doing this because they just hang out and play while we load up the truck...which takes a while. Bear has difficulty realizing that he is a lot bigger than Willie and needs to play softer but he's getting there. He's doing very well off leash and is so funny when he comes running after being called because he has difficulty stopping and tends to kind of crash into whoever called him. Its not the heart that isn't there yet, just the coordination.

That will come with time...

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 44

God, what a morning it is out there! I saw two shooting stars while I was letting the dogs out this morning! Beautiful and clear out, it should be a wonderful day here.

This morning I'm going to try to walk Bear for a bit. Don't know how far we will get, but hopefully we will at least stretch the legs. We've been playing ball out back and the husband has taken to having wrestling matches with Bear in the afternoons to give them both some exercise. He's been pretty good waiting for my toe to get better, but really needs his morning walks...on top of playing ball and wrestling.

Another thing I was able to do yesterday morning, because I went in late to work and worked into the evening, was start the final assault with the State of New York. We've had Bear for a few days more than a month now and he needs to "get fixed." Because he was adopted from an approved pound, he is part of a state program that greatly discounts the price of neutering. Our town is enrolled in this program but never got the applications for the people who adopt to mail back to the State to get the certificate to take to the Vet when they get an animal "fixed" and thus get the discount.

After spending a great deal of time on the phone with the Animal Control Officer, I called the State Ag Dept and hopefully got the situation straightened out. They are mailing me an application directly and also one to the town for future adopting people which the town can photo copy. Why this stuff isn't online, I have no clue. It seems to me that the Animal Control Officer should be able to just hook into the system and print the application out, but that would be logical. Instead, there is a file cabinet somewhere in Albany that some clerk has to pull out the one existing copy of this application from, make two photocopies of it and refile it. Then this poor clerk will have to get two separate envelopes and mail one copy to my town and one to me.

That should take a week to accomplish.

When I get my copy of the application, I will fill it out and mail it back to the clerk in Albany. The clerk will then probably have to go back into the file cabinet and get the one copy of the certificate that I will present to the vet, fill it out by hand and mail it back to me. This process should take another week and a half.

Once I get the certificate, I will then call the vet, who is currently waiting for my call because I set that up yesterday, and we will make an appointment. (This should take another week.) Then we will take Bear in to be neutered.

So, we're looking at three and a half weeks until we can get Bear neutered.

I'd like to say that I'd be more than willing to spend the obscene amount of money that is being charged in this area to neuter a dog, but I'm not. I think if you are not breeding the dog, it should be fixed and getting that done should be affordable. Without this program in operation in our community, it isn't, which is why the town and I are working at getting it established, even if it takes a little longer to get things done. This way, the next person who adopts a dog from the pound won't have to go through this kind of hassle.

Anyway, the wheels are in motion and we should be able to get things happening soon in that area.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day 43

Wow! do I feel broke but better. I just ordered the dog crates and decided that some of the things that really bug me about the crates, I can fix so I did. I really don't like that the dogs have no food or water access while crated. Kong toys aside, Bear is still a pup, drinks a ton of water and even for four hours, I worry that he has no water or food. The other issue is that they are planning on giving me more hours within a month or so at work, and especially if I have to be gone longer, I want food and water access. So I got a set of crate bowls for each of the crates.

The other thing that bugs me is that both of these dogs are smart and it gets pretty boring sitting in a cage, thus, I got each of them a Kong stuffy toy...I think they are called Dr. Noys and a special ball. Bear I picked one of the Bounzer Balls and Will, the tennis ball king, I picked air balls for.

I did not get either of the dogs the Kong treat dispenser toys because these two would much rather live on treats and table scraps than dog food and I don't want to encourage that. I'm thinking that a couple of cookies in their bowls with some dog food is a better option for them if they get hungry.

The crates are identical in everything but size so I'm hoping this eliminates the jealousy issue going on. Bear's crate is bigger than the one we currently have and Wills is smaller. I already have the blankets for them, sooooo, hopefully, in a week we will be set with the crate and dog stuff....I just don't know where I'm going to be putting all of this stuff now! Oh well, we will make it work.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Days 41 and 42

HA! Contrary to urban legend, I did not get swallowed into the eternal abyss of deep frying grease and have returned from the "Pit of Despair," more locally known as the Funnel Cake Booth, and have lived to tell the tale as well! We had a great time yesterday in perfect weather and sold a ton of funnel cakes...gag, choke...I hate the smell of deep fried anything, but especially dough! That's okay, though, because I don't have to smell it again for a year, after which I will gladly tolerate the smell of because those funnel cakes are helping to build a library for my town which I will write more about at a later date.

Anyway, we returned home exhausted last night from "deep fried hell" to a destroyed kitchen. I had come home in the middle of the day to let Bear out of the cage and give the dogs a "hurry break." Will has been getting very territorial about the crate lately because, once upon a time, three years ago when he fit into the palm of my hand the 35" crate that we had belonged to Will. When I let the dogs out, Will went straight for Bear and attacked him. I was able to call him off of Bear outside, but Will escalated when we came in and I had to kick these dogs apart. So, rather than putting Bear into the crate which was obviously such an issue for Will, I decided to put Will in it for the afternoon.


Interestingly, Bear did not even go into the living room all afternoon. Nothing was out of place or
even touched. Will was just happily sleeping in his crate. The kitchen, however, was destroyed! Everything we had on the table was all over the floor. Garbage had been gotten into and was all over the place.

In short, I'm just going to have to get over my phobias about crating and Bear will be crated when we are not home from now on.

We are going to make a change, though. As this is such an issue with Will and the crate we are currently using was his a long time ago and he does have a right to be mad about Bear using it and it isn't fair to either dog to allow one to be out while the other is crated, we are going to retire this crate and purchase two new crates, a larger one for Bear and a smaller one for Will. Hopefully, in a week or so this problem should be solved.

After spending an hour cleaning up the mess, the husband and I sat down to dinner in the living room with the TV. We went from National Geographic to Animal Planet because the dog lady was on and then later, the Animal Planet Dog Championships. (Yes, there really are people in this world who watch dog shows on TV.) We watched along through the poodles and shaggy things and then, during the herding class suddenly they announced Hawk the Swedish Vallhund . I looked up, and there was Hawk! He wasn't just any Hawk, either. He was the same Hawk whose person I talk to on this blog!

I couldn't believe it! Our Hawk was right there on TV! How cool was that? Well, I thought it was pretty cool and tapped at Bear, who was laying on my feet watching with us, and told him to see how cool it was that Hawk was just prancing so smart in front of all of the TV cameras and the huge audience and wasn't chewing the kitchen apart and that this is what "good dogs" got to do when they don't chew kitchens apart.

He went out to the kitchen to get a schlarp of water and drool it all over the floor.

I emailed Hawk's person to ask if it was Hawk and, sure enough, it was! In point of fact, he will be appearing on Animal Planet again on...mark these dates....October 9, at 7:00 pm EST and again on October 11 at 2:00 pm EST.

Bear and I will probably be viewing both of these airings.

Oh, and last but certainly not least, Therra Cathryn, the answer to the argument is:

Even the rocks themselves shall sing!

Now how do I get this so I can put it up on the blog because its hysterical!
Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear