For Wembley

>> Thursday, September 23, 2010

"I Cried For You"

You're beautiful so silently
It lies beneath a shade of blue
It struck me so violently
When I looked at you

But others pass, the never pause,
To feel that magic in your hand
To me you're like a wild rose
They never understand why

I cried for you
When the sky cried for you
And when you went
I became a hopeless drifter
But this life was not for you
Though I learned from you,
That beauty need only be a whisper

I'll cross the sea for a different world,
With your treasure, a secret for me to hold

In many years they may forget
This love of ours or that we met,
They may not know
how much you meant to me.

I cried for you
And the sky cried for you,
And when you went
I became a hopeless drifter.
But this life was not for you,
Though I learned from you,
That beauty need only be a whisper

Without you now I see,
How fragile the world can be
And I know you've gone away
But in my heart you'll always stay.

I cried for you
And the sky cried for you,
And when you went
I became a hopeless drifter.
But this life was not for you,
Though I learned from you,
That beauty need only be a whisper
That beauty need only be a whisper


Do All Things With Love

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

We spent a lovely weekend relaxing at the cabin. It just happened to fall on the 18th, which marked eight months since Wembley and seven months since adopting Walter. While we have a large yard and the dogs are not suffering for any major outdoorsy time, they sure love being at the cabin. Reagan and Quincy especially enjoy chasing the mule, and Walter always finds some lucky curve of the earth to nestle in as a makeshift bed.

We had a bonfire, lit fireworks, did a lot of reading, stayed warm by the wood stove fire, and gave the pups a special treat- cranberry and pumpkin biscotti with meat and vegetables on top. They all nibbled on fresh pumpkin too; a very nutritious and tasty treat.

There is a photo on the table of this family I married into, taken on another weekend where we all worked on odds and ends. Wembley is in this photo, for it was taken back when it was just our golden girls. Wembley and Reagan are not looking at the camera, but have their heads tilted to the side, in the same direction, which seems appropriate in a melancholy way. Wembley loved the cabin and enjoyed many fine days there.

Even though our pack has changed, we felt Wembley all around us, knowing she is the reason we are so lucky to have Walter, Reagan, and Quincy. We fell in so much love with Wembley that we opened our home to these other loving creatures one at a time, and because of that, she will always be around, as will each one after.

This weekend we watched as Reagan, riddled with hip dysplasia, ran and ran some more. She also swam and retrieved the stick with such force, her muscles bulging and flexing with every step and paddle. Earlier this year, the vet said Reagan was healthier now than she ever has been in her life. This is all thanks to endless hours of research and reading that Wembley's awful disease provided us with. Thanks to Wembley, Reagan is in the best health of her life.

Quincy tagged along with her sister, and she swam for the very first time this weekend. Before, she was scared. Now she jumps right in. I can't help but feel so grateful for this little one. Quincy ensured that Reagan would never be without a playmate. She distracted Reagan as we drove hours back and forth in the middle of the night for emergency vet visits with Wembley. She brought Reagan's smile back.

Walter stunned us this weekend with his abilities. We saw him run- and I mean really running as fast as his disability will allow, and he was quite fast! No, he can't go far, but he did it, and he was very proud. Walter climbed a hill too, and rode in the back of the mule on his dog bed without jumping out or being terrified. He showed us trust and an ability to survive and love and overcome in the way that only a dog can.

So many people put a cap on how much love should be designated for a particular person or thing. Like you should love your children more than your pet, and love your children more than your spouse, and love your spouse more than your parents, or love your million dollar home more than the thousand dollar trailer you had before you made the big money. All of this logic is ridiculous. Do all things with love, and love as much as you want. There is nothing wrong with loving your child or spouse or parent as much as you love your dog, your cat, ferret, horse, or rat. If we didn't love as much as we do, Reagan may have never bounced back to life from losing her best friend. Walter would be long gone from this world, and Quincy might still be at the rescue, waiting for a forever home.

All of the love you give to a pet, you will get back a million times over, without conditions. Now that is true love!


They Choose Us

>> Friday, September 3, 2010

I've been doing some thinking about breeds, types of dogs and cats, and preferences that people keep, myself and Alan included. Saying that we love Golden Retrievers is an understatement. Clearly, we are Golden Retriever fanatics. We also love the Great Pyrenees, Newfs, St. Bernards, Chow Chows, pits, and the list goes on. Last fall, we decided a Newfoundland would be our next dog. Two dogs later, we do not have a Newf, and that's because sometimes they choose us.

Alan said, "No dog for at least another year," and this was last fall before we got Quincy. I had a feeling we were going to fall in love at the pet expo, but Alan insisted this was not true. He never looks at shelter dogs or adoptables, because he feels bad for them and doesn't want to fall in love with one. When we saw Quincy's litter at the BFF rescue at the expo, we did think they were Newf mixes upon first sight. We weren't the only ones, either. Even our vet thought we had a Newf mix on our hands! I picked up Quincy, and she nuzzled her head into the crook under my chin. She gave me some puppy kisses and held on for life. We stood there for ten minutes until Alan gave in and admitted he was already attached too. Even though the rescue said she was a Border Collie mixed with "anything," at that point Quincy had already picked us as her people.
I have never been into Border Collies, and would never have thought of myself as a BC mama, but here I am with one.

After Wembley passed away, the pain was unbearable, especially for me. I lost my sidekick. We decided to wait until spring to find a Newf puppy or rescue for our family. That seemed like it was months away. I casually browsed rescues, looking at the same breeds I always look at: Goldens, Chows, and Newfs. There were many cute dogs, but in my grief I was not feeling much. I just wanted another sidekick, knowing full well it would not a princess girl like my Wembley. Then I found Walter, a lost soul, unwanted and sad. Our "Newf puppy" ended up being a disabled senior Chow/Golden mix. I never thought I would have a boy dog either, and here we are with the best boy in the whole world.

The same thing applies to the cats. We didn't think we would have any cats, much less three! Now we have this perfect pack of six, and we are incredibly blessed to have this mish-mash of personalities.


Graduation Day

>> Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today is a big day in the saga of Walter: we took down his crate.

Alan and I have crate trained all of our dogs because we have had a very positive experience with it. Each of the dogs has learned to enjoy being in the crate and considers it a safe place, like a human would view a bedroom. Whenever Wembley was scared of something, she always went into her crate. If Reagan had a bellyache, into the crate she went. When we try to get Quincy to sleep in our bed, she always goes back into her crate instead. Walter is no different. He goes into his crate and even opens the door with his nose when it's time for bed.

Our bedroom is a decent size, but when there's a king sized bed and two dog crates, it really isn't that big. Luckily, we do not have dressers and we only use the closet. Dog crates are definitely not part of the decor we would like, but it's a minor inconvenience to make them happy. We could easily put the crates in the basement like logical people, but we like to have the dogs sleeping by us, so in the bedroom the crates went.

Walter's crate is big. He panicked in the smaller crate, so we picked up something more spacious that will also house our future Newfoundland (whenever that may be). Walter was not totally housebroken when we brought him home. He had a lot of accidents at first, which was frustrating. I think he might have been an outside dog and just completely neglected, left to fend for himself.

The big question: Can we train a senior dog already set in his ways? The answer proved to be yes. With a strict schedule and crate training, Walter is now fully housebroken!

Here's what his schedule looked like:

First thing in the morning, take Walter out of the crate and put him on the lead in the front yard. He wanders, so we didn't want to leave him unsupervised without the lead. We also put him in the front yard because there are only two steps, so it's easier for him to get down.

If we left the house, Walter either stayed in his crate or the kennel. After he got out of the crate while we were gone, we decided to leave him in the kennel only, because he panics when he's in the crate and I'm not around.

At night, Walter went into his crate when we went to bed, and then the whole cycle repeated the next day.

This summer we had some opportunities to test him. When Alan and I went to DC to visit Delina and Gary, we brought Walter to save some money on kennel fees. Walter not only was out of his crate for over eight hours without an accident in their apartment, he also made it up and down three flights of steps for the duration of the weekend.

When we got back from DC, Alan stayed the night at a friend's house because he had to work in their area the next day. I was too tired to haul the crate out of the trunk, so I just put the dog bed where his crate was, and Walter slept on it all night (I'd like his next move to be sleeping by me).

For some time now, Walter has been going outside with Reagan and Quincy in the morning, not down the front two steps, but all the way down the back deck stairs! He has no problem zipping up and down those handfuls of steps (maybe 8 or so?).

All of this led to taking down the crate this afternoon. He's probably not going to like it, since he is not a fan of change (his Chow side comes out at any change in his routine...stubborn), but I think as long as he has his dog bed, he will be good to go.

I'm so proud of how far he has come in all of this time.



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