Monday, January 30, 2012

Born Special

Readers: I recently came across this poem, which was composed in February 2010. It is sort of a love letter to Shadow Sunshine, my beautiful "blond"-furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross. In rhyme. This poem expresses flawlessly my love of mixed breeds!! Seriously.... I was touched and blown away by this concept!! Shadow has been on my mind literally all month, and I added her picture to Beautifully Unique's sidebar. So I thought I'd share this....

Mama loves your German Shepherd ears;
Which are loyal and very sincere;
Plus that beautiful "blond" fur;
From the Golden Retriever;
Mama loves those German Shepherd eyes;
A deep brown which never criticize;
Plus that pink Golden Retriever nose;
You were born special and duly so!

Then, of course, I composed one about Rose just this afternoon....

Mama loves your big light brown Beagle eyes;
They are expressive, so playful and sly;
Mama loves that German Shepherd body;
Which neighbors could determine before me;
Mama loves those soft, floppy Beagle ears;
You are special to me, is that not clear?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stalking Squirrels

Rose has an interesting approach when it comes to "hunting" squirrels. While most canines give chase the second their eyes spy a bushy-tailed rodent, she does not. No. When Rose's beautiful big brown "Beagle" eyes catch sight of a squirrel, she remains stationary. For the longest time!! Her eyes constantly fixated upon that bushy-tailed rodent, she seldom loses sight of "him". Unless another squirrel enters our backyard!! Rose sits, patiently awaiting, as tremors work their way through her body. She just shakes and shakes!! Occasionally, my mongrel will point in the direction of her "prey". She balances on three legs, twain eyes staring down a squirrel, her right front leg lifted. Then, like an African lioness, Rose sneaks toward the unsuspecting bushy-tailed rodent, slowly, legs slightly crouched, body low.... One day, I was preparing to leave someplace. I ran around our house like "a chicken with its head cut off", so the saying goes. Marking off my mental checklist before leaving Rose. Chairs on furniture. Doors closed. Food pushed back. Radio on. Check, check, check, check!! Rose was outside, in our fenced backyard, enjoying some fresh air. When suddenly "he" appeared: A bushy-tailed rodent. "Not now!!" I protested. "We gotta go!!" But my words flew out into the air, unheeded. As I knew that they would!! For like a Major League Baseball pitcher facing an opposing hitter, Rose was, once again, in the zone!! I have witnessed this countless times before. Her Attention Deficit Disorder was taking complete control over everything else!! I could not "bribe" Rose with a treat. Nope!! Rattling her red leash to indicate a walk would be for naught. Honestly!! And Rose can stand stock-still for over an hour, her body trembling, patiently awaiting a chase!! Oh dear.... We did not have that much time!! So.... I decided to "help" her out some. I walked toward the squirrel. "He" was terrified of me, which I am well aware of!! Hence my plan!! The bushy-tailed rodent scurried away toward "safety". Rose's right front leg lifted.... She was in pointer-mode, once again!! Next, Rose stepped toward her "prey", slowly.... I standing between the two creatures. "He" was fearlessly nibbling on some dry grass. Rose's ears "perked", her forehead furrowed. I was caught in the middle of a potential chase!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Peanut Butter Day

I logged online this morning to discover that January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day!! Seriously? I did not know that.... So, in honor of the creamy spread, I allowed Rose an unexpected treat. Yep. Following a Cheesy Beefy home-baked biscuit at 2PM, she was given this small spoonful of.... Wait for it.... Peanut butter!! The treat was, not surprisingly, well received!! Rose certainly loves peanut butter!! She must think that we reside in the tastiest nation on Earth!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meant To Be

Several months ago, in September, I discovered that Rose is a Beagle/German Shepherd mix, the result of an "accidental crossbreeding". It was quite obvious!! I mean, who in their own right mind would deliberately breed a large-sized canine with a medium-sized dog? And, while there may be exceptions to this, Rose is an "Oops Baby". That's right!! She is the result of twain canines who were never spayed/neutered. "Papa" Beagle most likely escaped his confinement, met "Mama" German Shepherd.... Then Sixty-three days or so later, alongside her littermates, Rose entered this world!! And I am so glad she was conceived!! Even by "accident". Back in September, I was visiting with my neighbor, Pat. She is a sweet talkative woman who lives with her husband, Gary. We seldom ever converse, since I reside across the cul-de-sac from their lovely-looking house. I was telling Pat, in a rather proud tone of voice, that Rose is "an Oops Baby". I said: "She's a Beagle/German Shepherd." For once, there was confidence in my voice, as nobody truly knows what kind of canine Rose is. I used to mention her "breed"--which changed three times as we guessed--then swiftly add an "I think." What can I say? Rose is a mystery!! After declaring her mix to Pat, I slowly added, "She's an 'Oops Baby'." In other words, Rose was a chance happening.... Right? Then, Pat glanced down at my mongrel, and asked, as though Rose could answer her: "Were you an 'oops'? No.... You were meant to be."

I am different. I'm unlike anybody who enters and passes through our lives. I am different from most of my family members, even. I have learning disabilities. Attention Deficit Disorder. And short-term memory loss. No child behaviorist or psychologist ever "diagnosed" my neurological conditions. We were told along the way that I have "developmental delays". Really?! "Developmental delays"? What exactly does that mean? Like Rose, I am a mystery, too!! That's what it means. Not knowing has been both a positive, plus a negative. For over one decade now, I have struggled mightily--and privately--with accepting myself, which has recently lead to solving the mystery that is me. Because, come on. Every mystery needs solving!! I've somehow always known that I am different. I was constantly made fun of and called mean names by neighborhood, or church kids as a girl. Stories which feature misfits touch my heartstrings. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is practically a kindred spirit to me!! But until I "graduated" from Home School over ten years ago, I was blissfully ignorant about my learning disabilities. Nothing--not even seeing a psychologist at age 12 for state testing--weighed me down. My mind held ever-changing ambitions. When I "graduated" from Home School at age 18, all of that was aborted. Suddenly, my learning disabilities became burdens. Limitations. Curses. And, for over a decade, they have stood as powerful obstacles against happiness. All I've wanted is to be normal.... Whatever "normal" is. Sometimes, more often than not, I feel like a mutant from X-Men. Different. A freak. Misunderstood. I feel small and insignificant, like a single speck of sand. But during the past two years, God has whispered into my ears that there is nothing wrong with being different. Nothing. Since 2010, I have figured myself out.... And "ping-ponged" from acceptance to plain stubbornness. I cannot be at peace with my learning disabilities. I won't. My short-term memory loss causes me to feel middle aged and stupid. And I have zero control over it!! This produces many of my frustrations. A nearly 28-year old is not supposed to forget what she ate for dinner last night!! But I do.... All the time. My Attention Deficit Disorder? What is that like? It makes my brain wander, to the point of utter distraction. I can successfully control this condition, though, sans any prescription drugs. Like a fish being caught for dinner, my wanderlust brain simply needs "reeling in"!! But sometimes, the ADD commands me. Then, I "catch" it. Sometimes, I need to allow my brain to run free.... Or I will go crazy!! I can also "work" the condition to my advantage. Having Attention Deficit Disorder is kind of cool, actually!! This will prove to be a learning experience for me.... As I embark on accepting myself. An arduous journey....

Rose was born different. She is my "Medium Dog-Big Dog"!! Rose has the Beagle's face/ears/eyes. I love that about her!! And the German Shepherd's body.... In medium!! I love that about her, as well!! Rose had no choice in the matter of being different, either--better than our next door neighbor's purebred Beagle--and she is beautifully unique!! Meant to be....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cheesy Beefy Treats

This was a rare, spur-of-the-moment idea for me. Completely Unplanned. I am not the type of person to make rash decisions.... Ever. When I do, they are once-in-a-lifetime. Like every several years. January 16th happened to be one of those days. Twelve years ago on that date, I was given Shadow Sunshine, my beautifully unique "blond" furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross, who died in June 2010. We were experiencing an electricity-outage tree-uprooting sort of wild Winter storm. It was definitely a "red-letter" date!! So, on Sunday, January 15th, 2012, at 8:30 PM, I made my spur-of-the-moment decision: Tomorrow afternoon, I was going to bake Rose some dog biscuits!! Yep. In honor of my past, present and future!! Despite the very fact that Rose has not finished her Christmas bacon/cheese-flavored Beggin' Strips, or chicken jerky.... Oh well!! We have a new tradition, now!! In my dog treat cookbook, there's this recipe created specifically for obese canines. However, Rose is not the least bit fat!! But why couldn't I alter their recipe? Use the ingredients we have? Besides, I knew that Rose would love these biscuits!! Plus, it was Shadow's "birthday". A memorable anniversary!! And I was feeling nostalgic. Regarding one Christmas when I baked Shadow a batch of cheesy beefy treats. Which we found somewhere on the Internet. That, unfortunately, I recycled. It was not a success with Shadow.... Oh, how I wish that I'd saved the recipe!! If only I could have foretold my future. Seriously. Messages would have declared: "You will own a 'food-lovin'' Beagle mix someday...." Sigh.... But if memory serves me right, this recipe's ingredients are quite similar to that long-ago discarded Internet find!! Happenstance? I do not think so!! There are no such things as coincidences.

First, the original recipe, for those with obese dogs:
Smaller Collar Diet Bone
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
(I followed every instruction correctly, even though it was changed.)
And now, for my "alternate" version:
(Rose rates it Four 'paws' way, way up!!)
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup 2% reduced fat milk
1 tablespoon butter
(We like to eat the real stuff around here!!)
1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve bouillon cubes in warm water. Mix shredded cheddar cheese with flour. (Using a spoon!!) Add milk, margarine, (Butter!!) and beef broth. (Then, I beat the ingredients together with a mixer!!) Knead dough until firm, and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Stamp out with cookie cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (I baked 12 at a time for about 33 minutes but not all ovens were created equal!!) Makes 2 1/2 dozen. (I baked 28 bone-shaped treats, plus 3 "hearts", which were made with my leftover dough by cutting the ends of our bone, then carefully pulling together its bottoms!! Creative, huh?)
Bake bones on the middle oven rack. If your dough is sticky, apply a light layer of flour to your hands, the rolling surface and rolling pin. (I did.... As well as a few "sprinkles" of water. Something strange occurred, though. As I formed my dough, it was sitting in loose flour!! Perhaps I used too much? I created a ball, then rolled and rolled my dough. That loose flour was not clinging to it!! And this was gooey dough.... Difficult to "pop out" of my cookie cutter.) Because of variations in oven temperatures, monitor the cooking time for your batch of "Doggy Bones". Bake bones until the bottoms of the biscuits become medium brown, and adjust remaining baking times accordingly. (These biscuits seemed nearly impossible to determine whether or not they were done.... Which baffled me a little....They are not "bone hard", just crunchy. And their bottoms were never medium brown!! But I "test-tasted" one. They were done!! And delicious!!) If bones do not become "bone hard", bake bones for an additional five minutes or leave them in the oven as it cools. Store "Doggy Bones" in an airtight container. For extended supply, double your batch and freeze them!

Rose absolutely loves cheddar cheese. It is easily one of her favorite foods!! She also likes mozzarella, which I love!! Every morning, before our walks, I toss a small handful of grated cheddar cheese into Rose's bowl. This is how we usually begin our mornings. And how I persuade my little miss "Lazy Bones" out of bed!! Rose always knows when someone in our house is eating/cooking/baking with cheese!! Honestly!! So, not surprisingly, as I pulled out the Ziploc bag which contained cheddar cheese, she came running!! Then my good girl sat, eagerly awaiting. So, of course, I gave her some!! If memory serves me right, which it seldom ever does, these treats tasted just like Shadow's Christmas biscuits!! I revived an age-old memory.... Successfully!! Wow.... I am still touched by that concept.... Happenstance? I do not think so.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thankful For Mysteries

The other day, I finished reading this amazing fictional children's chapter book. Authored by Ann M. Martin. It is entitled "A Dog's Life": The Autobiography of a Stray". This story was an incredible page-turner--I read chapter after chapter--and could hardly put Martin's "tale" down!! Her writing was beautiful. Descriptive, forthright, ingenious, moving.... Squirrel's story, however, is at times heart-wrenching, plus intense. I would not recommend reading it aloud to young children. But otherwise, "A Dog's Life" is an excellent read!!

Here is what the back cover said:

Squirrel is not like most dogs. At first she has companions on her journey -- her mother and her brother, Bone. But when they're separated, Squirrel must experience the world in a different way. As a stray, she must make her own way, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans who can be both friendly and cruel. It's a hard life for a dog... until Squirrel makes two friends who will change her life forever. This is Squirrel's story, told in her own words. It is a story no reader will ever forget.

Reading this book reminded me of the blessing I have received by never knowing Rose's past. I often wonder about my mongrel's history. Was Rose owned by negligent people who were too busy for her? How frequently did she escape backyards, chains, open doors, or crates? The nipples across her abdomen indicate that Rose may have once carried puppies. If so, how many pregnancies did she survive? Had Rose resided in numerous local shelters before I adopted her? These queries of mine constantly accumulate.... Like the light snowfall we experienced throughout this weekend. But reading Squirrel's story--a stray mongrel herself--has brought something to mind. Ignorance can be bliss!! I am obviously emotionally attached to Rose.... Knowing her past may leave me mentally disturbed!! Thus I'm thankful for mysteries!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday The Thirteenth

I do not consider myself a superstitious person. At all. Walking underneath some ladder, a black cat crossing my path, or spilling salt in our kitchen will not bring me bad luck!! However, I am strangely fascinated by superstitions!! Seriously. Superstitions intrigue me, for reasons beyond my comprehension!! So, obviously, I love Friday the 13th!! And just this morning, Rose was cautiously attempting not to test "bad luck". She is one bright girl!! The sliding glass door which leads to our backyard also has a screen, plus this clear storm door. Weather around here have involved dishonest blue skies, and freezing cold wind. But rain is in the forecast!! And, perhaps, snow? So we have had both doors securely closed. Keeping the chilly air outside, where it belongs!! Well.... Rose has accidently run into both doors.... On more than one occasion!! Naturally, I feel terrible whenever this occurs!! Rose always receives a gentle scull massage, plus apologies from my mouth during such moments.... Even though I cannot avoid this from happening!! I try though.... I attempt to constantly be aware of our surroundings, and hold Rose's collar before she dashes full-speed after squirrels.... We even practice my made-up "wait" command!! But because both doors are clear, she sometimes forgets about them!! This morning, at eight AM, I fed her, as scheduled. I then gave Rose a half of Christmas Beggin' Strip. Now, she needed outside, to do her business. Everything went as planned.... I opened both doors, and Rose performed her "Beagle trot" toward our backyard!! Then.... She would not come back inside!! My mongrel began to, but stopped. She backed up, like a horse being controlled by reins. I knew immediately what was going on.... Rose absolutely refused to step through that open doorway!! Yep. She was convinced that our doors were still closed!! Poor baby.... As I patiently encouraged her, she stepped forward, then back, forward, back. "Come on, Rose, come on.... the doors are open!! Trust me!!" I softly pleaded. And finally, she bravely sprang through the open doorway!! "Good girl.... Good, good, girl!!" For a fleeting moment, I felt this intense feeling of hatred toward our storm door. But it swiftly vanished!! Next, I found myself praising Rose in abundance!! "Good girl!!" She did it!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Absent-minded Outfielder

Several months ago, we drove to a nearby park. This location has everything: swings, climbing structures, slides. Picnic benches, a covered eating area. For reservations only. Basketball "courts", a volleyball net, baseball fields. Plus tree-lined trails to hike on. We frequent this local park monthly, sometimes weekly, even, during the Spring and Summer months!! Our lunch is usually bagels with cream cheese, potato chips, and Oreo cookies for "dessert". Several months ago, however, we did something a little different. Our lunch was cooked at Panda Express. With fortune cookies for "dessert". I love Chinese food!! Our main activity at this park is to play baseball. There are only four of us, so we would not make an actual team. But who cares? We rotate around and allow everyone a chance to hit, pitch, catch, or outfield. Because of our highly anticipated "games", I have never brought along Rose. What to do? Rose is half Beagle, and fast. She cannot be off-leash. Ever. Tie her lead to the batting fence, and what if she comes loose? Abandoning Rose in our van is not right, either. She could swiftly die this way!! So, I leave her home. Despite the fact that this park allows canines. At least she is safe there!! But several months ago, we decided to bring her along for the ride. Finally!! It was undecided whether or not I would participate in anything except "cheerleader" for our baseball "game". At first. But I played outfielder.... Alongside Rose!! Before we arrived, there were three people visiting this park: two women and one little girl. Plus a very, very, very yappy dog. For reasons beyond our comprehensions, they had set up this tent. On the baseball field. But we played anyway!! The outfield can certainly be a boring place to occupy, when nobody is hitting balls in our direction!! But not for Rose!! I believe that every canine has some form of Attention Deficit Disorder.... Perhaps this serves as a reason for why I relate to dogs so well? My girl probably has the worst form of ADD. Being part hound, Rose is downright absent-minded!! Rose instantaneously wanted the twain ladies' little canine--which they had tied to a sturdy cable--not far from where she and I stood!! But I kept patiently redirecting her from "him".... As best as one could under such circumstances. Rose was so well behaved!! Only a few whines came from her vocal chords.... There was absolutely no high-pitched baying!! Amazingly!! I was impressed.... And Rose received praise aplenty!! Whenever somebody actually hit the ball, together we ran!! "Go, Rose!! Go, go, go!!" I enthusiastically screamed. "Go" she obediently went!! But only because her red leash was attached securely to my right arm!! Rose obviously had zero options.... When I chased our ball, so did she!! And at the sound of my coaching, the women's little dog let out a comical "yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap!!" Every time. It was hilarious!! We had our own personal canine cheerleader!! And, in spite of all this commotion, Rose was perfectly fine!! Still no howling!! Yes!! I heaved our ball unnaturally toward my "teammates": left handed. Immediately following, Rose would distract herself by staring in the direction of the little yapping dog.... While letting out a few whines. Huffing and puffing, I praised my mongrel. Then I gently redirected her from "his" barking. The lady with short hair actually needed to remove our yapping "cheerleader".... Although "he" never bothered us!! Now, Rose's Attention Deficit Disorder was all about smells. Rose sniffed here, there, anywhere she could.... Until the ball interrupted her!! Then, with a "Go, go, go!!" we ran!! Eventually, however, Rose and I had to desert the outfield. In all honesty. For she pooped.... And somebody needed to clean it up!! I abide by the laws.... Unlike many disrespectful owners!! So I reached into my left jean pocket for an empty recycled newspaper bag. Cleaned her poop up. Then I walked away. I found the nearest trash can, and disposed of it!! Wow.... Playing outfield was never so exciting!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Personal Quote

"Ever consider what they must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul--chicken, pork, half cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!" ~Anne Tyler

I discovered this quote a while back. I found it hilarious!! And true. Too true!! Whenever we carry home grocery bags full of food, first Rose greets the door with her ferocious "hound" bark. Next, comes high-pitched baying. Soon, her nose is poked deep inside our bags!! Ooh!! Potatoes!! Yum!! Corn chips!! Ooh!! Chicken!! Is it all for me....? Seriously. The "greatest hunters on earth", all right....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy? New Year

Written with a groggy brain, plus short-term memory loss.... Never an ideal combination!! Hopefully, I have every detail correct....

Well, 2012 has arrived.... An old year is gone. Vanished into time. Again. And a new year has come.... Far too swiftly. 2012 arrived with a bang--literally--in our neighborhood. New Year's Eve does not always involve bottle rockets around here. It isn't a given like on Independence Day. Sometimes we have brilliant explosions, sometimes not. I was sleeping. Attempting to catch a precious night's sleep as I battle an unwelcomed chest cold. Suddenly, I felt something hit me!! Next, my bed shook, as though we were having an earthquake!! I sat straight up with a sharp gasp. Then I heard several booming noises. All at once. I was wide awake now. I knew exactly what had just occurred. Fireworks exploded. Rose became frightened. She pounced onto my bed, trembled, and caused our little "earthquake". My initial thought was: Is it midnight, already? Oh no!! Meanwhile, the mucous within my lungs were creating "fireworks" of their own. I was suffering from an asthma attack!! While bottle rockets rattled our windows, and Rose shook the bed, I could not comfort my poor baby. No soothing touch. No gentle whispering. Circumstances would not allow it!! Oh, I felt so guilty about that!! Plus, I was trapped. By a traumatized, trembling Rose!! I was lying on my right side, as always. Knees bent. Blankets wrapped around me. Rose nestled herself firmly against my legs. I sat up, coughed/gasped for air. Rose turned her head to glance in my direction. It was as if she exclaimed: Mama!! Finally!! You're awake!! I coughed, Rose trembled, fireworks exploded. Then she leapt off my bed. Rose stood, stock-still, like a deer in some car's headlights. Another explosion boomed. It was loud!! This one shot straight through me. And Rose darted away. Coughing, I followed her into the darkness. She was headed down a hallway. Gingerly, I grabbed Rose's collar. I redirected her toward my bedroom. Unfortunately, there is no escaping these bottle rockets. They are everywhere!! And sound vibrates against our walls. Even from outside. But I wanted Rose near me. This way, I do not have to fret about accidents. I needed her near me. I encouraged Rose back onto my bed. No response. Eventually, however, I started coughing and gasping for air again. I was forced to desert Rose for a bathroom. She cautiously followed. I closed the door behind us. Coughed and coughed until things settled down within me. I then opened the door. Rose, who had been trembling against our bathtub, stood up. Then, I decided to watch some bottle rockets "safely" from a window. That was when I lost Rose. Yep. Lost her. Somewhere in our house!! This drove me insane!! I despise uncertainty. And I do not like it at all when my girl is missing!! Even if zero harm will come to her!! So I searched the house. I looked behind doors. I checked both bathtubs. I looked on furniture. I peeked underneath our tables. All while attempting not to cough. "Rose? Rose!! Rose!!" I frantically whispered. Where was she? Finally, I thought: Look under Michael's bed. I did.... But it was pitch black beneath his mattress!! So I found a flashlight. Staring back at me were two big brown eyes. There she was!! I let Rose be. For I could not fit under there with her!! I waited until 12:30 AM, when New Years' fireworks always wane. Will Rose sleep underneath Uncle Michael's bed all night long? I wondered. I did not like the thought of that!! Here I am, sick, coughing, wheezing.... And feeling utterly guilty because I was not there for Rose!! Now, our midnight skies were silent.... At last. So I fetched Rose's Christmas chicken jerky. I broke off a piece. Tossed it into her silver bowl. Naturally, there was no reaction. She did not come bounding into the kitchen for food like usual. No. Not while she was terrified!! So, with the chicken jerky in my hand, I walked over to Rose. I showed it to her. "Come on.... Come on.... Do you want a treat?" I softly whispered. Rose just looked at me, a dull expression across her face. I encouraged further. "Come on.... A treat.... You gotta get it...." Then, she ate the chicken jerky!! With that, I gently pulled my dog out from under the bed. I brought her into "our" room. She was reluctant, but all was calm. The "fireworks" within my lungs began again. I coughed and gasped for air once more. Finally, I took my albuterol inhaler. I have not suffered from an asthma attack like this one in a long time. I'd forgotten what the symptoms were!! I allowed Rose one more small piece of her Christmas jerky. This time she accepted it willingly. Then I sat up with Rose until becoming exhausted. Eventually she returned to her pillow.

Happy? New Year Rose....