Monday, July 30, 2012

Cerebrating Uniqueness

Blogging Friends.... If you have not already figured this out, I am a shameless advocate of mixed breed canines and mutt adoption on my Blog!! I'm unapologetic, really!! Why? Because I share my existence with a certain Beautifully Unique "Mystery Dog", named Rose!! And I love and celebrate her every second of the day!! Plus, based upon personal observation, seemingly nobody owns mutts!! But that is just what I have seen.... So, twice monthly, I will be expressing my feelings regarding anything mixed breed!! But do not desert me, dear Friends, because of this one Blog post. Please. There will be plenty of stories to come!!

We are all unique. Different in our own ways. Nobody is exactly the same, personality-wise. Nobody. Everyone is his/her own individual!! Everyone. And, what truly amazes me is how mightily this is expressed in nature!! It truly amazes me.... No snowflake is identical. A Zebra's stripes vary from creature to creature. My fingerprints are mine and mine alone. Plus no mutt looks exactly the same compared to even a littermate!! Nearly twain years ago, I was looking at some tables of various free stuff. I saw this children's picture story book entitled: "Zak: The One-of-a-kind Dog" by Jane Lidz. Curious, I picked it up. Flipping through this book's illustrative photographs, I was captivated by the first page!! It begins like this: (As Zak looks upward, a quizzical expression written on his face) The first thing people ask me is, "What kind of dog are you?" (As Zak lies, forlornly, on some leather chair) I wish I knew. Someone said there were many kinds of dogs in my family. Who are they? (A serious Zak looks as though he carries the world's weight upon his shoulders) Judge? (Zak is going to walk the plank) Pirate? (Zak and a Pug are lifting their legs on some bushes) Trailblazer? (Zak is standing beneath a "Pa Ingalls"-like statue) Pioneer? (Zak is wandering through miles and miles of acres) City Farmer? (Zak is running through the street) City Slicker? But that doesn't tell me what kind of dog I am. I'll have to seek the answer. (Zak is trekking up some sandy hill) (Zak meets a girl) Excuse me, but... (Zak then meets a baby boy) Do you know what kind of dog I am? Am I the top dog? (Zak plays with this small canine) Or the underdog? (Zak, looking overwhelmed, meets this larger canine) I'm not black or white. (Zak encounters two dogs. One black. The other white.) I'm not even on the dog chart. But at least I'm a real dog... (Zak poses alike to this mural of some canine) with real feelings. I can be brave (Zak crosses a black cat) honest (Zak has his left paw up) funny (Zak is "laughing") playful (Zak is attempting to steal a stick from some girl) curious (Zak is rebelliously looking up toward a sign which reads: NO DOGS ALLOWED IN THIS AREA) and loving. (Zak is being greeted by a pair of twin brothers) There's no one else just like me. It feels good to be special. So now when people ask, What kind of dog are you?" I say, I'm a one-of-a-kind dog." What kind of person are you? (The end!!) This book is such a beautiful tribute to Mystery Dogs everywhere!! Plus their weird and crazy owners.... Like me, who grab free children's books!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thunder's Fury

Ah, weather. It can be gentle like some docile lamb. Such as breezy, warm, seventy-degree, Spring sunshine. Or, quite the opposite. It can also produce an untamed storm, bringing about gloomy, ebony skies.... Plus thunder and lightning!! I love our weather around here!! Because, seriously. Our weather is somewhat irrational, indecisive, and rebellious!! It can swiftly change from sunshine to pouring rain.... Within a few short hours!! Our weather makes Mother Nature look bi-polar, or something!! It is highly unpredictable!! Highly unpredictable.... Last week, around five AM, I was awoken abruptly by this hard impact against my wooden bed frame. A distinctive THUD, one that, in spite of any groggy mental weariness which I'd felt at the moment, I knew its culprit. Rose. A noise phobic Rose. Something frightened her. But what? A soft rainfall tapping against our window scares Rose!! Still groggy, I rolled over onto my back, and dangled an arm. My right hand reached contact with Rose. Tremors were powerfully working their way through her body. Poor baby.... What had terrified her? It did not require long for our weather to answer this query. In the sleeping darkened bedroom, my eyes witnessed this single illuminating flash of light. I gasped. Lightning!! I then pulled myself out of bed, still tired, and sat on the hard, carpeted floor next to Rose. Her colossal brown eyes grew even larger, as she awaited its following thunder. I listened, too. And, as though keeping some promise, thunder arrived!! KA-BOOM!! And, it was dangerously nearby us. Dangerously nearby us. It was above our house!! Lightning would flash against my closet door mirrors, its reflection on the windows. And, then, thunder rumbled!! Shaking our walls!! Literally. It felt as though we were in Roswell, New Mexico, where, if memory serves me right, I once watched these bolts of lightning, stretched out like veins within somebody's arm, actually touch Earth!! Which was awesome!! I love thunderstorms.... And feel weirdly mesmerized by lightning!! Weirdly mesmerized. However, last week, I never felt so unsafe, or so vulnerable during a thunder and lightning storm!! Never. It was eerie!! Thunder rolled above us as though some high-speed train were driving past our house!! My sister's collection of blue dishes, which hang securely on the walls, rattled. No exaggeration!! I sat beside Rose, stroking her velvet-soft fur, feeling the vibration of my little girl's trembling body, and waited our storm out. Patiently. Around 6:30 AM, our skies were silent. At last!! Confident that the thunderstorm was over, I stood up. Rose shot me a quizzical expression which basically said: Mama!! Where are you going? Mama!! No!! Don't leave me!! Then, as though she were crawling out of some safe shelter, Rose slowly followed my footsteps. I logged onto our computer and finished typing last week's Blog post. Sure that the storm was still raging, my poor mutt suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-like symptoms all morning. But, she is resilient....     

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Dog's Addiction

Blogging Friends.... I am in the mood to write a humorous post today, for some reason!! I have no idea why!! However, what with the Aurora, Colorado "Batman" tragedy weighing fresh on our minds, perhaps humorous is just what we need right about now!! This is a true accusation, though, regarding Rose!! Well!! I am getting ahead of myself here. Read on!!  

Addictions. People suffer from them. There is alcoholism. Drug addiction. Even lesser life-threatening stimulants such as coffee, or soda pop. Come to think of it, in this case, everybody has addictions!! Of the human race, anyway!! But, what about canines? Can they suffer from addictions, too? Perhaps. Although, I have no factual information to back this up!! In Rose's case, however, there is one sweet-tasting type of food that she seemingly cannot consume enough of. Chocolate. That's right!! Chocolate. It is true!! In the nearly twain years that I have shared with Rose, I've had to swiftly pry open her mouth, if memory serves me right, and pull out three forms of chocolate!! Yeah. My dog has a problem. It's called an "addiction" to chocolate!! Does Rose not know that this is a dangerously unhealthy type of food for her? Does she not know? Chocolate contains two ingredients which could kill her!! Kill her. Caffeine and theobromine. Lethal ingredients to canines. Does she not understand how many adrenaline-rushed panic attacks that this "addiction" of hers has produced for me? My heart pounds like some rapid drum beat!! Every time!! Does she even care how many occasions that I have saved her? Does she? All because I love this crazy Beautifully Unique mutt, and do not wish to lose her? Several weeks ago, I was vacuuming. When, I noticed Rose sneak down the hallway which leads to my parents' bedroom. I did not think much about it. Until, in the corner of my eye, I watched her emerge from the hallway. She was running. Toward my bedroom. In a smooth, cool, swift motion. And, if Rose were human, she would have laughed manically!! Sounding something like this: "Ah--ha--ha--ha--ha!!" If my Beagle cross were fluent in English, her words might have been: "I've got something I can't have...." How do I know this? Because Rose's stance while running toward my bedroom was guilty. It screamed of guilt. See, whenever Rose's mouth is holding something "forbidden", which has always been food products, she runs, full-speed, toward "our" bed!! Not very sneaky.... So, there I was, sitting beneath our dining room table, using the vacuum's hose to suck up Rose's wispy fur, when my eyes witnessed her guilt-ridden run!! Oh no!! Next thing I realized, life spun in rapid motion. Rose has something that she shouldn't!! And I had this sinking feeling that our culprit was chocolate!! So I needed to act fast!! The next thing I realized, my verbal response was: "Oh crap!!". Oops. I should really watch my language!! Now, I am not the most agile being who ever walked this planet. Nope!! So I stood up as fast as my legs would allow, first lying on the hard laminate floor with a baseball player-like stance who just slid into home. Real graceful. I skinned my elbow in the process, as well!! Which did not even hurt!! I turned off our vacuum cleaner, and allowed it to gently fall backwards onto the floor. I stood up. Time was racing against me, with the knowledge that Rose's mouth may contain something chocolate. Something poisonous. On wobbly legs, like a newborn foal, I ran to her, afraid that I'd been too late. I gently pried open Rose's mouth. She worked every muscle in her jaw against me, clenching her mouth shut. My stubborn girl!! However, I was born with an iron will!! I, too, can be stubborn!! And, I was determined to win this mini-battle against my dog!! So, I opened Rose's mouth, peered inside, and pulled out this saliva-drenched brown ball. Gasp!! A chocolate-coated malt ball!! I yelled at Rose, utterly displeased with her behavior. Thank God I was not too late!! Rose only got a slight taste!! Phew!! After carrying the slimy malt ball to our kitchen garbage, I resumed vacuuming. I will forgive Rose later!! Which I did!! That was when I reached the conclusion that my dog has a chocolate "addiction". Yeah. She needs help. Is there such a thing as rehab facilities for canines with chocolate problems? Hmmm. Choco-holic Anonymous? Oh!! And.... Do they have such rehab centers for people? Because I just might qualify....  


Friday, July 20, 2012

Yapping Versus Baying

Toy breeds and their mixes yap. Rather loudly. You can hear them from blocks away while they perform a little "homeland security". For toy dogs and their mixes view the world around them as intruders. Nobody is safe. Beagles and their mixes can bay. Rather loudly. This is instinctive, something about their behavior which cannot be controlled. Ever. They bay to alert their masters from afar of hare or fowl during hunting expeditions. For these men, this is a highly desired instinct!! A highly desired instinct. Rose bays. Yeah. She possesses what I affectionately refer to as "mighty vocal chords"!! Rose's bay, her "happy sound", is high-pitched and can be eardrum-piercing. No kidding!! It sounds as though somebody has just stabbed Rose in the back with a dagger, and blood is gushing out of her wound. Like she's dying. Literally. Rose carries on and on and on!! I have often wondered, if she  were to be involved in a competitive yapping/baying match, who would win? Which canine has the loudest vocal chords? Who would come in first? The headache-inducing yap.... Or the nerve-rattling bay? Well. The other day, this mystery was solved!! And, its answer surprised me!! We had spent our morning hiking this beautiful nature boardwalk, Rose's red leash securely attached to my right wrist. The weather was overcast and muggy. Yuck. I drank twain bottles of water, yet still managed to get a headache!! Twain bottles!! I felt dead by the end, as though I'd caught some nasty head cold germ!! But, happiness is a mindset, after all. Happiness is a mindset. So, while we walked and walked, I keeping Rose well hydrated, she poking her ebony nostrils everywhere, squatting and leaving "pee-mail" along our paths, I attempted to maintain this positive attitude. I will enjoy myself!! And I did!! Rose is such a fun dog to take hiking!! Well-behaved. Curious. She is my little trail-blazer!! While on the boardwalk, Rose always peeks her light brown-colored head through its wide-open sides. To see what is down there!! Tadpoles. Insects. The occasional snake. Who knows what might lurk beneath those murky waters!! On the car ride home, we stopped at Dairy Queen for Blizzards. Mmmm!! I stayed in our Chevy minivan with Rose, its sliding door swung open, her red leash wrapped tightly around my right wrist. After a short wait, the Oreo cookie Blizzard which I ordered arrived!! Yum!! The sliding door still open for air current, and a busy street nearby, I never let go of Rose's leash. By nature, I am right-handed. However, with Rose securely attached to my wrist, I ate the Oreo cookie Blizzard as a southpaw!! Quite successfully, actually!! Hey, I could pass for being left-handed!! Meanwhile, this family who we used to attend church with pulled up in their minivan. A couple of us stepped out and greeted them. They'd brought their dog, this tiny miniature Dachshund, along. Rose had already sensed that there were friends outside, but she seemed calm and under control!! Initially. Then the miniature Dachshund's vocal chords let out a fury of yapping!! Nonstop. And, suddenly, like some wild stallion, Rose reared back on her hind legs, pawing our drivers seat, to take a look. She whined, then bayed. I patiently scolded Rose for jumping up. This is not allowed!! Then I just gently stroked Rose's velvet-soft fur, making verbal "ssshhh-ing" sounds, empathizing with my hound about a behavior that can't be controlled. A behavior that can't be controlled. Much like my short-term memory loss. Or Attention Deficit Disorder. Much like my being weird and somewhat crazy!! Then, I listened. Plus I observed. My ears and mind took in this yapping/baying match. I always thought that Rose's "happy sound" would beat any toy dog's defensive "I'm-bigger-than-I-look" bark. Wrong!! As Rose bayed, and the miniature Dachshund yapped, which sound could I hear the loudest? You guessed it. The yapping miniature Dachshund!! Mystery solved. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Happy Medium

Blogging Friends.... If you have not already figured this out, I am a shameless advocate of mixed breed canines and mutt adoption on my Blog!! I'm unapologetic, really!! Why? Because I share my existence with a certain Beautifully Unique "Mystery Dog", named Rose!! And I love and celebrate her every second of the day!! Plus, based upon personal observation, seemingly nobody owns mutts!! But that is just what I have seen.... So, twice monthly, I will be expressing my feelings regarding anything mixed breed!! But do not desert me, dear Friends, because of this one Blog post. Please. There will be plenty of stories to come!!

Seventy-five percent. That is the total of mutts which enter shelters nationwide. Seventy-five percent. To me, this is a heartbreaking number.... Which experts do not tout nearly often enough!! No. They always mention the lesser, yet equally significant, percentage. In books. Online newsletters. Seemingly everywhere, this message is declared: Twenty-five percent of dogs which enter US shelters are purebreds. Well, while I feel pity toward those "pedigree" canines, what about the mutts, I always question. What about the mutts? Seriously. They are the seventy-five percent. And, which number is most likely to be unjustly euthanized, like some criminal on death row, in kill-shelters? Hmmm.... I have zero statistics for an answer, but my guess would be the seventy-five percent. The seventy-five percent. As I share my daily existence with Rose, this Beautifully Unique "Mystery Dog", that breaks my heart!! Breaks. My. Heart. It is my opinion that more people, in this case Americans, should adopt shelter mutts!! Why? For twain reasons. One: So that they can learn to love these "imperfect", yet beautiful four-legged creatures!! Mutts are not purebreds. Nope!! They are not "pedigrees". Yet mutts will be your devoted companions, same as with purebreds, for their entire lives!! Their entire lives. And two: If more Americans adopted shelter mutts, then, not only will they contribute to the seventy-five percent, but this number, hopefully, can be eradicated!! I'm an eternal optimist, I confess!! But when we adopted Rose at our local shelter, that is what I did. I contributed to the seventy-five percent!! Although I did not realize this at the time!! I was oblivious to any stats. I simply wanted a canine!! But I did contribute to the seventy-five percent!! Plus, I opened my heart to an "imperfect", yet beautiful four-legged creature!! That's right!! An adult three-year old "second-chance" little girl with a mysterious past, even!! And I'm so glad that I did!! I could not imagine my life sans Rose!! I could not imagine.... However. What would happen if every prospective owner adopted shelter mutts? Most likely the reverse result!! Literally. Purebreds would, eventually, became the seventy-five percent. Do I wish for that? Absolutely not!! So, I present my "Happy Medium" solution. That every multi-dog household, if possible, adopt one shelter mutt, and one shelter purebred!! Or more!! Some people do own several canines!! I acknowledge that. Should I ever adopt a second dog, which I'd never do, then he would be some medium-sized shelter purebred!! If possible. And he would be some rare breed, because I love all things different. If possible. He would be around the same size as Rose, too. If possible!! Then, I would experience this warm positive feeling that I'd just contributed to both parties!! Both parties. But, meanwhile, the seventy-five percent could use adopting....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Earned An Award!!

Just yesterday morning, I was talking to my sister. Her attentive ears were listening. My chatty mouth was doing the talking. All of it!! I had been expressing an incredible fact. One year ago--365 days--seemingly nobody knew that this Blog exited. My writing had been done for naught. Few people were reading it. And now, I have more Blogging Friends than I can even keep up with!! Which, insanely enough, is a good thing!! Believe me!! I feel a part of this amazing online community called Blogville!! This amazing online community. It is a place where, after several years of feeling like some misfit outsider in this world, I am one no longer!! Because I no longer feel like a misfit!! I can be weird, somewhat crazy, learning disabled and real in Blogville!! Anything goes!! We are all accepted in this community!! And the fact that, not only am I a part of Blogville, but my writing is now internationally known.... It's mind-blowing!!

Thank-you Rama's Mama from:!/ for passing on the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award to me!! I am feeling deeply humbled and grateful!!

Here are their rules:

Write seven things about either yourself, the or dog(s). Whichever you choose!! I am planning to make this all about me, me, me, me!!

Pass the award onto five Bloggers. Only girls. No boys allowed with this award!!

1. I dislike the taste of watermelon. Weird, right? That is everybody's reaction whenever I share this information!! Yep. They tell me I that am weird!! Please!! Like I did not already knew that about myself!! Uh.... Yeah!! But I have given watermelon so many "second chances", and all it does is let my taste buds down!! Sorry!! Watermelon needs sugar!!

2. As an ill, failure-to-thrive infant, I developed a hole in my diaphragm. Yep!! A surgeon operated on this health problem. He fixed it!! And I have a lengthy scar across my abdomen, plus no appendix, as resulted!! But, hey!! I love scars!! They are reminders of God's healing!! Plus scars give a body character!!

3. I have spent most of this Summer "impersonating" Iron Man with our cousin and youngest brother. My example being Robert Downey Jr.!! Lofty aspirations.... Right? Yes and no!! It has been quite challenging "acting" as though I possess this huge ego, self-confidence, plus an arrogant, top-dog, lone-gun attitude!! All the while maintaining a stone-faced expression. Oh. And I have to "talk cool". The low voice? Easiest part about this "job"!! I have always been gifted in mimicking other people's voices!! Always. Being Iron Man is like an out-of-body experience for me!! I have very little in common with that comic book super hero character!! Do I expect perfection? No. I do not!! Why? Two reasons. One: I am not RDJ. Okay? The world only needs one of him!! Which I mean in a positive way!! I am just some 28-year old girl who is trying--and struggling--to figure herself out!! Me. Real, unique me. Two: I don't do witty!! I can, however, act eccentric!! Which I put to the test last week as an insane, drunken, dying Tony Stark from "Iron Man 2"!! Neither our cousin, nor my youngest brother liked that!! So, I have been banned to ever impersonate "Iron Man 2" again!! Our cousin's praise for my performance? "You over-over did it!!" Sweet!! But, how is that even possible?

4. When I was a girl, about nine or ten years old, I slammed my right hand thumb into an old yellow/white Chevy suburban door. While fetching our youngest brother's backpack/makeshift diaper bag. Then, I yanked my thumb out of the ajar door. That's right. Yanked it free. Why didn't I just open the suburban's door? I do not know.... Either I was insane, or daft!! Or both!! If memory serves me right, I then noticed that my thumb was gushing out blood. So I stuck it into my mouth like some insecure toddler. Blood touched my taste buds. We were at our grandparents house, and I knew that this was somewhat of a serious injury. I knew. And I figured that my Mom would panic upon seeing it!! But I had to tell someone!! I needed help!! So, Grammy became my temporary "nurse"!! But Mom did find out. About one third of my thumb turned these beautiful hues of yellow, blue, and purple until that much fell off!! Cool!! Although I never broke my thumb, because fortunately, I'm hard to break, the digit is now slightly bent, and you can visibly see where its nail fell off!! Like an indelible reminder!!

5. I own a silver circular necklace with the words REMEMBER engraved around it. My sweet, thoughtful cousin gave this piece of jewelry to me after Shadow died. It is priceless!! I wear the necklace tucked within my T-shirts. Like guys do. Because I have an unfortunate history of losing necklaces!! This way, if it falls off, my bra should catch it!! Right?

6. At age 12, my hair began turning silver. Premature graying is, oddly, genetic in our family!! My Dad, sister, oldest brother, everybody has inherited this curse!! It is from our Grandma's side!! Over time, my hair changed back, sans any dyes!! Recently, however, it has been turning silver again!! Oh well!! Gray hair gives a person this mature look.... I could use all the help I can get!!

7. I have an almost child-like faith in doctors and surgeons. I trust their years of schooling, their skills, their intellect. As a baby, I had both my abdomen and skull operated on. That's right!! Taken to the knife. So, I am alive because of doctors' schooling, skills, and intellect!! Still learning to be grateful....  

Now, for the hard part. Passing on this award to five Blogging Friends!! Here goes....


Monday, July 9, 2012

Star-Spangled Treats

I had a plan. After last Independence Day's long explosive weekend, plus its following tedious Summer of dealing with the fireworks which existed within Rose's head, I have spent all year thinking about and preparing for July 2012. That's right. All 365 days' worth!! I fully expected Rose to be my stubborn little girl, who will put up a nightly fight of tug 'o war. Fully expected it. So, this year, I had a plan!! Had a plan. Which, our neighbor Deborah warned would not be successful!! My response to that? It was point-blank. "Well, you don't know my dog." I said. Rose, who has strong-willed plans of her own, and I were going to overcome this. Sooner rather than later. I have a plan.... I will bake Rose this batch of biscuits. Carry some with me on our pitch-black nightly walks. Give her one when she actually cooperates sans any fights. As a reward. In the end of last year's ordeal, this worked. With baby carrots!! Healthful. Yet boring!! So, on July 3rd, I baked a batch of biscuits for Rose--and made them patriotic--by using my star-shaped cookie cutter!! I was getting in the spirit!! This is one of my favorite holidays, after all!! The recipe was not intended to be for Independence Day. But, it did have a Summer theme!! Rose would rate this recipe: Four 'paws' way, way up!!
2 cups whole wheat flour (Yeah.... I heard someone tell me once that too much wheat can effect a dogs' digestive system. So I substituted for white flour!!)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix oil, water, honey and tomato paste. Add to dry ingredients. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick, (I wanted "fat" stars. So decided to be a rebel in this case!! Which made them thick.... And chewy!!) cut with cookie cutter, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. I baked them for 35 minutes.... If memory serves me well!!) Makes 2 1/2 dozen. I made 43 stars!! I needed twain airtight containers to store them in!! That was a first!!

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. 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. 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!

When combining this recipe's ingredients, I allowed Rose some tastes of its contents. Tomato paste first. She loved it!! I then allowed Rose a second liberal taste!! Which she happily accepted!! Wow.... I tasted some tomato paste, as well. Ewww!! It left this foul taste in my mouth!! But Rose liked tomato paste.... Well, I suppose when you are a dog that licks her privates, anything goes.... Right? I then offered Rose a small droplet of honey. She sniffed it. Turned her face away. Sniffed it again. Turned her face in the opposite direction. Okay.... Then, finally, her tongue peeked out, slowly, timidly, like some snake's. But.... She snubbed the honey!! It was hilarious!! My hound dog's black nostrils just could not get over the honey's potent smell!! But that is okay!! I dislike honey, as well!! My dough was gooey, so I added a few sprinkles of flour into it. However, this did not help!! My dough was still gooey!! So I sprinkled some flour onto our countertop. Repeatedly. Every time I rolled my dough into balls for flattening out!! Next, I have no clue what came over me. Because somewhere along the way, I morphed into a version of Martha Stewart!! Me!! The nondomestic person!! I pulled each gooey star out of its cookie cutter. Then, using my fingers, I molded and shaped their "arms". Finally, I flattened them a little!! These biscuits are orange/red colored!! Plus they taste--and reek--of tomato paste!! I had to literally hold my breath while making them....     

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our Independence Day

Fireworks. Bottle rockets. Firecrackers. They are caught aflame twice a year. On New year's Eve. And during July 4th. They explode in brilliant colors, like some shooting star, across the nighttime skies. Fireworks entertain those who care to watch them. They produce gleeful cheers from spectators. "Ooohs and Ahhhs". Plus, around here, fireworks also bring on drunken stupidity from neighbors!! Unfortunately. But, to poor Rose, those bottle rockets, which, quite literally sound like bombs from some warzone, are extremely loud and incredibly close!! Extremely loud and incredibly close. This began as an odd July 4th, with a touch of humorous coincidence. My sister had been baby-sitting nine little downy-feathered chicks. She temporarily transferred them from their home to ours. They were adorable!! I held one.... Twice!! My fingers felt her soft feathers and bony immature body. Here is the humorous coincidence. What were we were eating for lunch? Not barbecued hotdogs. We were eating home-made fried chicken!! No joke!! Isn't life funny? I think so!! Rose, my "food-lovin'" birddog, seemed immediately fascinated by these downy chicks!! Immediately fascinated. Their "cheep-cheep-cheeping" sounds caught her attention!! Why am I not surprised? When my sister gently held one for us to see, Rose stood up on her hind legs, ears perked, forehead furrowed, colossal brown eyes intensely fixated. As if she was thinking: Mmmm....Yummy!! This looks like a tasty snack!! Can I catch it? All of them? Can I? Can I? Can I? Let me at them!! Then she licked her lips!! "Rose!!" I playfully scolded. We set up the chick's "camp" in "our" bedroom. With its door securely closed. "Sorry Rose...." I repeatedly told my mutt, "You can't have the little baby downy chicks!!" Fireworks began early, around 6:00 PM. Even though it was still light out!! Rose and I were sitting together on the living room rug, until our neighbors' friends began arriving in large groups!! Carrying fireworks. Oh boy.... Rose then began to bark at every slammed car door, looking expectantly out the window for friends. And my family was watching a movie!! Oh dear. We then temporarily hung out in my youngest brother's--Uncle Michael, to Rose--bedroom. I started the blue window fan. For two reasons. It was hot and stuffy in his bedroom. Plus, fans produce a little "white noise" to counteract bottle rockets' deafening explosions. I turned on Uncle Michael's television. I decided to "kill some time" and watch the Special Features from "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". Soon thereafter, bottle rockets exploded. This forced Rose to nervously stand on all fours, looking like some deer in a vehicle's headlights. She walked away, and headed toward the closed hollow wooden door. Rose attempted to seek refuge in Uncle Michael's closet--an off limits location--because of its broken crawl-space door. Gasp!! "No, no, no!! Don't go in there!!" I frantically yelled. My submissive girl stopped in her tracks. I felt guilty for yelling at a time like this. Guilty. But she forgave me!! I changed DVD's. This time, I was watching something a bit more patriotic. Halfheartedly. I held Rose close. I stroked her velvet-soft fur. Uncle Michael's digital clock struck 6:00 PM. We were then forced to vacate his bedroom, as if evacuating some burning building, while bottle rockets exploded outside. It no longer felt safe. To Rose. Nowhere did. I opened Uncle Michael's door, and let Rose aimlessly wander loose around our house, like some confused, lost child. I followed her. I then lead Rose toward the quietest room in our house, where even bottle rockets' booming explosions are muffled. Muffled. As though we are hiding in some cave. Where is that room? We reside in a one-level house. So it is the "boy's bathroom"!! I sat down on cool, hard flooring with Rose, and watched my little girl slowly settle into a small curled ball, like some threatened potato bug. I stroked her soft fur, hair shedding everywhere. I sang some patriotic songs. Apparently, Rose thinks that I am a good singer, because my voice calms her considerably. I hummed some tunes, as well. I break two very important rules regarding dogs and fireworks. Every time. Two very important rules. Why? Because I am a rebel!! Rule number one: Never pet and console your canine. What?! Hardly anybody follows that!! Rule number two: Allow your dog to wander aimlessly around the house. Really?! Just watch helplessly as your baby walks about from location to location.... And do nothing about it?! If I followed that rule, I'd be sorry. Because chances are, I would find an unpleasant surprise the next morning: Poop and/or urine. We do not want that!! We do not need that. But, being a rebel has its advantages!! Major advantages. Because, by breaking both of these rules, I am allowed some intimate quality time with Rose!! Just the two of us. And, I sat alongside Rose, a few interruptions notwithstanding, for six hours straight. Six hours. Of insanity. From 6:00 PM, to midnight. That was how long everybody's fireworks lasted!! In relationships there are compromises made. Eventually, as soon as Rose seemed calm, I stood up, turned on some patriotic music, walked toward the living room window, and witnessed some brilliant bottle rockets illuminate our ebony skies. Because, after all. What is Independence Day sans some fireworks? I listened to three songs. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA". Aaron Tippon's "The Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Flies". Plus Martina McBride's beautiful version of "God Bless America". This was the promise I made to Rose. Three songs. I would watch fireworks explode during this time, and then return to her side!! A flawless plan!! And it was successful, too!! Bathrooms are quite the convenient rooms to hang in!! Quite the convenient rooms. They have a bathtub. Which I never had to use. They have a toilet. Which I did use!! They have a sink, complete with fresh running water. Which I never used. The only thing lacking? Sprite soda!! Well.... It is only a few short steps from the "boy's bathroom" to our garage!! Sweet!! So, around 10:30 PM, I snuck into our garage. Bottle rockets exploded, echoing off the walls. It truly did feel like I was in some war-torn nation out there!! Like an explosion at any given moment could blow down our house or sever my limbs!! I did not feel safe!! At all!! And, neither did poor Rose, who would have followed me out into the garage if I allowed her to. She was so brave, though!! Tremors never once worked their way through her body. Rose did not cower beneath tables like last year. We created ourselves a "cave" in the "boy's bathroom", and that is where she remained!! All night long!! As soon as the skies were silent, I gently lead Rose out of our "cave", and into my bedroom. All was well now....I could finally pull my exhausted body into bed!! Finally. My sister's nine little downy chicks had been driven back home, so they were safe from any canine intruders, namely Rose. However, our bedroom now had an obvious farm smell to it. Bark dust chippings, feathers, chicken feed. Inhale. I love farm smells!! So, at midnight, Rose ran around the bedroom like some insane manic, meanwhile breaking my sister's number one strict rule, and entering her side. Which I allowed!! Rose was going crazy looking for those little downy chicks!! Her block nostrils inspected every corner.... Repeatedly!! I laughed so hard. Then, suddenly, I was high on silly giddiness, and no longer exhausted!! Well, now isn't Rose resilient!! She swiftly moved onto the next thing--chicken smells--until finally falling asleep!! It was as if no bottle rockets or screaming fireworks even exploded for six hours on end....  

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July

Independence Day. It only comes around but once a year. Oh, how I love this federal holiday!! The celebration of America. Freedom. Patriotism. I have, ever since Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, dressed myself--literally from head to toe--in the Red, White and Blue on July 4th!! I go insanely outlandish!! It is the only time, during my entire life, when I actually care about clothes, because, frankly, I'd rather like anything else!! Anything else. I know, I know, I'm weird for a girl!! But on Independence Day, I wear brightly colored clothing, which is often matching!! Shockingly!! Because the only times when I am ever even remotely color-coordinated, is accidental!! Seriously.... My "Independence Day Getup", as I call it, is even planned and prepared!! Also shockingly!! Because I am not the type of person who prepares for anything!! Ever. On Wednesday, I intend to wear my "star-spangled bandanna" atop a ponytail. This is tradition!! I wear it every year!! I recently purchased this new men's T-shirt, which resembles a draped Old Glory. All the way down!! I own a patrotic cross necklace. Wearing it is also tradition!! My fingernails will be painted Red, White, and Blue. Every other didgit!! I painted my fingernails Red, White and Blue last year!! I looked like some eccentric, immature teenager!! Sweet!! And, yes, I want to look like some eccentric, immature teenager again!! Just for one day.... On my feet, I will wear American flag socks. This, too, is tradition!! However, if you're me, who shares her existence with a Beautifully Unique mutt that suffers from "Noise Phobia" issues, there's only one part about Independence Day which you dread. One word. Fireworks. Our suburban cul-de-sac has actually, surprisingly, been quiet. Oddly. No pops, whistles, or bottle rocket "bomb"-like explosions. Nothing!! Until Saturday that was. Now, as soon as night falls, inevitably, we hear several resounding BOOMS. Which cause poor Rose to unsteadily stand up on all fours, resembling some newborn foal. She hides. Anywhere. Under beds. Beneath tables. Under our computer desk while I type. She glues herself to my side, like magnets on a refrigerator. Tremors work their way through poor Rose's body. And, like last year, she has made a return appearance as my stubborn little girl who refuses to walk at night!! I gently, yet firmly pull Rose halfway down our cul-de-sac. It is like some highly competive human-canine game of tug 'o war!! Last night, I even offered Rose a baby carrot. Which she snubbed!! Snubbed!! Imagine that!! My "food-lovin'" Beagle mix was not interested in a treat!! Then, after minutes of silence, bottle rockets exploded!! Sigh.... Here we go again....

This information was taken from a Summer 2011 local dog newsletter issue:

"Every year, many companion pets escape and are lost or injured because of their fear of fireworks. While many of us love the big bangs and beautiful lights, our companion pets do not share our sentiment. Many dogs and cats escape their homes, some never to be reunited with their families. We encourage each of you to please take the necessary precautions to make sure your companion pet remains safe, at home and healthy. If your pet is easily frightened by sudden noises or bright lights, talk with your veterinarian about a mild sedative to ease your pet's anxiety. Keep your pet in a safe place when the fireworks begin. Options include the pet's crate, a safe room or the basement. Turn on a radio for background noise to help muffle some of the bangs. Provide a high quality chew toy to help keep them busy and distracted. Provide their favorite stuffed toy, blanket or other item that helps them feel safe. Every year all animal shelters see many pets that have escaped over the July 4th holiday."

And.... Its veterinarian writes:

"With the Fourth of July right around the corner, fireworks and loud noises are plentiful and for some pets, it's anything but a happy time. They can become anxious, stressed, terrified or uncomfortable and can suffer from a fear of loud noises known as noise phobia. Learn to recognize the signs of a noise phobia. Signs commonly seen are: shaking or trembling, excessive drooling, barking or howling, hiding, and trying to escape from the house, fence, or other enclosure. Some animals will lose control of their bladder or bowels and some may experience prolonged diarrhea from the stress. Keep in mind, dogs that escape can end up with wounds, lacerations or worse-hit by a car. To help you manage your dog's anxiety, try these tips: keep you dogs at home. Keep dogs inside in a safe, quiet room, turn on music and pull the window blinds. Remove any items that might be chewed. Take your dog for a walk prior to the start of the noise. Provide a safe "escape" place. For safety measures, make sure your pet's ID is current. If needed, visit your favorite vet for medical help with the noise phobia/anxiety behavior to ensure a safe holiday for you and your pet."

I acknowledge completely that some facts were repeated in this Blog post. My apologies for that!!

This may turn out to be a long Summer of fireworks exploding daily, then, when the bottle rockets are over, and our nighttime skies seem silent, they will still be booming within Rose's head. Still booming. Like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in humans. This happened to us last Summer. But on the bright side, God has given me perseverance, plus an iron-will that, along with surgeons' skills, and His Grace, I employed to fight for life as a sickly infant. I can endure this!! I can!! Even though there may be many failures, tears, impatience, and frustrations along the way....