Life With Dogs

Friday Five – the Bliss edition

Bliss #1
I’ve embarked on a journey of looking back at high school, pulling back as many memories as I can. I’m trying to remember more of that conflicted teen that I was so I can carry that into one of the current WIP novels. What I find in my memories is a mix of bittersweet. The bliss is in being able to notice this and move on.

Bliss #2
I’ve had so much fun working on this little art project. It’s made me happy to paint and glue and doodle. Here’s just one page.

If you haven’t seen them on FB you can click over to Flickr to see some more. I decided this small size will be perfect for a new journal of my favorite positive words. For someone who never did art as a child, someone who never even liked to color, this new art adventure feels like I woke up in the morning learning how to talk to animals. It is so wonderfully strangely perfectly me.

Bliss #3
Having so many books in my home library that I can choose to read and reread again and again. Each night I grab a couple to take upstairs, devour them, fill them with little Post-it flags and think how lucky I am to have them at my disposal for any time day or night. I can choose from writing books or art books or history or fiction or so much more. Lucky, blissful me.

Bliss #4
I rarely read the newspaper except for things that catch my eye as I pick it up to put in the recycling. Today I actually turned a page and right there was an article that totally fits into the major plot point of another WIP (Max’s story.) I had had a feeling I was on the right track and boom, there was the anger-making, very sad, proof. Bliss!

Bliss #5
When we yanked out the lawns a few years ago and put in the native garden I saw an immediate increase in bugs and bees and birds. But what I didn’t see were butterflies. Today there has been a pair of Swallowtails flitting around the yard, from verbena to verbena. The blossoms aren’t the typical landing pads that butterflies prefer but it doesn’t seem to slow these two down. Sitting at my art desk, painting pages in a new journal, Cassie at my feet, birds playing in water at the bubbling rock, and Swallowtails dancing across the yard. Pure and utter bliss for me.

Here’s to a blissful weekend all around.

Friday, May 20, 2011|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |16 Comments

Just another Saturday night

CT, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

Cassie watching one of her favorite TV shows, Pit Bulls and Parolees.

Saturday, January 29, 2011|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |10 Comments

post-company nap

room1, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

I had company for a few hours today. Cassie considers it her job to make the rounds to see everyone, bring out her toys and show them off, go through her tricks, and basically beg for attention. This is all well and good except it means she doesn’t get her afternoon nap.

Once everyone went home and the house was quiet she sprawled on her couch and zonked for a much-needed 2 hour nap.

Monday, December 20, 2010|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |7 Comments

at the end of a long day

cassie, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

I’m not the only one tired of all this house stuff.

Saturday, December 18, 2010|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |8 Comments

Hard at work!

cassie, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

Cassie says all this home renovation stuff is exhausting!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |2 Comments

an update of sorts – Many on Monday

I thought I was back on track with the blogging but alas, life had other plans. So it goes. I’ll give you a many on Monday edition.

1. The roofers are done. Which is great. No more noisy pounding throughout the day. Cassie can relax. Yeah!

2. Only one plant was injured during the roofing episode which is a pretty good ratio.

3. There’s only one slightly funky little thing I don’t like about the front but it will probably only bother picky people like me and the rest of the world won’t notice. Still, it bugs me.

4. The driveway, as in the new paver driveway installed less than a year ago, did not fare as well as the plants. Somehow paint got spilled on them. White paint. Which we haven’t figured out how since the only thing that was white was the new gutters and downspouts and they came that way. So we will see how good the guy is when he comes back tomorrow because if my pavers don’t look like new again, he’s going to be replacing them. But that means a confrontation. I hate confrontations and I don’t want one tomorrow because it is my birthday tomorrow and I will be making a special birthday post after this one.

5. I am in love with my new refrigerator. Love, I say. I don’t even mind that it sticks out a little bit because heck, I stick out a little bit in places I don’t want to too.

6. I’ve been taking a writing class online all month and it has been very interesting to sit back and let someone else drive the bus. I’m having such a good time that I signed up to take another writing class with a different teacher next month. I’ve learned some things about Flyboy and some things about plot and some things I wish I could forget because it is going to be hard to do within the structure of my story.

7. Last week I taught the last social media for authors class I had scheduled. I think I am going to swap the format to a one-on-one work at your own pace sort of thing if I do it again. I have to balance that time thing and it isn’t something I do well.

8. After some serious one-on-one time with my business plan and a whole lot of finger crossing I have decided to cut back on a lot of the work-for-hire stuff I’ve been doing so I can have more time for fiction. It’s a scary decision. Really scary. But it’s time to, as my grandmother used to say, either fish or cut the bait.

9. I finally scored an antique buffet on craigslist that is perfect in our place so I’ve spent the last week moving glass and china and STUFF from one cabinet to the other. I love having it all organized and easy to find. But now I have a big tabletop to decorate and I am spending way too much time looking at things on the home decorating forum which is giving me more ideas than I have house or money to implement.

10. Saturday we took Cassie to the dog park for the first time. We were a little apprehensive as to what we could expect from her. I figured we’d see a lot of ears back and tail between her legs but she was great. She didn’t actually "play" with anyone but she seemed very happy to stay on the sidelines and watch. She wasn’t hiding behind us and a couple of times she even followed the big kids out into the middle of it all. Cassie a big dog but this guy was just a little bit bigger.

Whew! Okay…that’s my many on Monday. On to my birthday request post next.

Monday, July 20, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |4 Comments

A hard day at the office

Cassie is in charge of supervising our work in the yard. We were out there all day today. She disppeared toward the end of the day, finally giving in to take a nap.

Sunday, May 31, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |8 Comments

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for Cassie.

The drugs are almost all out of her system and she is back to her wonderful, goofy self. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

Very. Very. Happy. Very.

Thursday, May 7, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |6 Comments

Five on Friday – A random edition

1. I continue to see bits and pieces of Cassie’s personality returning as we taper her off the steroids however she seems to be in the 2% group that suffers from lethargy as a side-effect from the Atopica. She sleeps all day long and on walks she just lays down and doesn’t want to go any further. Not sure what the solution is going to be since Atopica is the drug of choice for life long treatment.

2. It is supposed to be raining but instead the clouds are spitting down on us every now and then but not much else. Come on, rain.

3. LitChat today on Twitter was tons of fun. Thank you to all who came out.

4. Oliver has been invited to Illinois! I’m so excited because he hasn’t been anywhere for a very long time. I need to go get his backpack ready to go. Is your school a must-see school? 
5.I was really hoping this was going to be a wise and witty list so that anyone newly discovering my blog would be impressed with my wise and witty self. Guess I need to practice channeling my inner  and  .

Friday, May 1, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |4 Comments

Six on Saturday

1. I got the first wine barrel pot pond planted yesterday. I like it, well I will once the plants grow and stuff starts to hide the black pots that you can still see, but I really, really wish I could do an in-ground one. I know though it would be a recipe for disaster with Cassie who thinks it is her job to remove anything from water.

2. Easter dinner is at our house this year. We’re going for simple and non-traditional – raclette.

3. I am still waiting for the results from Cassie’s biopsy. They said maybe Monday or Tuesday. 

4. There are still spots open in my online class on Social Media for children’s authors and illustrators. May 4-7. Details. 

5. We are getting estimates for a new roof, a "green" roof, a steel roof. I know it is the right thing to do but I’d rather do something fun with that tax refund, like remodel the downstairs bathroom or paint the inside of the house. Sigh. The joys of being responsible.

6. I’m pondering blogs. My blog in particular. And then I am telling myself to quit pondering because it is a recipe for, if not disaster, insecurity. Do many people read any more? What prompts people to post a comment? Am I blogging about the right things to build an audience? Ack! You can see how this kind of pondering can lead to dangerous thinking. ūüôā 

Edited to add: I know many people read and don’t comment…I’m just pondering the changes from why people used to comment and now don’t. I find it curious.

Happy Saturday to all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |33 Comments

Cassie update 2

So the first results are back from the biopsy and the lab said it is consistent with something called panniculitis but they are not saying that’s what it is. The doctor is having a consult with the expert tomorrow to try and get more information and decide a plan of treatment.

I looked up panniculitis but the only pictures I have found are very red and oozing and angry looking. I don’t know if that is something coming with these or if it is something different all together.

The good news is that there was no cancer cells.

Thursday, February 26, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |14 Comments

Cassie update

I posted this in FB and Twitter updates but not here. A few weeks ago we found a hard bump on Cassie’s side. It wasn’t irritated and she wasn’t bothering it so we decided to do the wait and see. Suddenly they were popping up all over. Very hard, not movable as one would think of a typical cyst. She has several on her side, two on her nose that popped up overnight and one on her leg.

We just got back from the vet. The vet, who has many years experience, said she hadn’t seen anything like these bumps. First she thought it might be a reaction to something though we can’t figure out what. I asked if she could suddenly be developing a problem with peanut butter which she gets in bones/kongs/etc and she shrugged and said she wouldn’t think so but also anything is possible.

She took a sample from the largest one and said she got some material out that looked like it was a cyst. She’s sending out and we’ll get the results tomorrow. She’ll also do a consult to try and figure out next steps, if we should remove one and inspect it, just watch or what.

More waiting.

On the plus side, it doesn’t seem to be slowing Cassie down at all. She pays no attention to them. I’m the one who is a nervous wreck.

On the way home from the vet we stopped at the pet store so she could pick out a new toy and a treat (why yes, she is incredibly spoiled-LOL) and some kids were there looking at guinea pigs. She went up to sniff the guinea pigs but turned away, waiting not-so-patiently until the kids themselves paid attention to her.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |25 Comments

Sunday thoughts

Today I:

Worked on CW article. I have the interview questions but now I am worried about finding the editors to interview. That’s always the hardest part for me.

Started and stopped a WFH project 11 times. I think this one’s a dud for me.

Taught Cassie how to balance a treat on her nose.

Ate chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven.

Life is good.

Sunday, February 22, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |2 Comments

Six random things on Saturday

1. For some reason Cassie has changed her wake-up time to 6am. 7 days a week. This does not endear me to her at all. Remember, I am NOTa morning person.

2. It took me two hours to water the yard today. I’m hoping to get enough water to the new garden that I don’t lose any plants if and when we end up with rationing this summer.

3. I have too many books. I mean don’t have too many because I love them all, but I don’t have enough room. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t so picky about where they go. I want all the writing craft books in the bookcase right next to my desk but it is overfull even with stacking books vertically. I already moved the poetry craft books into the library with the poetry books but I am still out of room. Grrr.

4. No matter how many layers of padding I put against my office window I can still hear the evil neighbors, their music, and their horrible cackling laugh still comes through the walls.

5. #4 means it is going to be impossible to enjoy my own backyard all summer long unless they drink themselves into an endless stupor. Sigh.

6. Chocolate silk pie makes many things all better.

Saturday, January 31, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |12 Comments

New Year's Day

It is morning and I have been up a few hours thanks to the dog who can’t sleep past 7:30 no matter what time she last goes outside. I stayed up til midnight though I was ready for bed by 11, still trying to kick this cold. Hubby has it now and I and hope he doesn’t pass it back to me.

I stayed up not because I felt the overwhelming need to see in the new year but because I felt an overwhelming need to wait for the firecrackers. Chelsie, my last dog, was terrified of the firecrackers that went off in the area on festive days. The poor thing would cower and try to hide under pieces of furniture much too small for her.

Cassie was sleeping when the firecrackers started. She lifted her head and stared at me then moved to patio door. She rang the bells (her signal that she wants to go outside) and waited for me to do her bidding. I was trying not to make any reaction to her or the fireworks. I opened the door and she trotted outside, looking first, as she always does, to the back corner that the squirrels use for all their comings and goings. There was a movement and Cassie began to bark. Not her little puppy bark but her big dog alarm bark that she has been trying out of late.

I worried that it was a rat from the nest I know they have next door. But it was too big. A cat? Too slow. To my surprise it was a possum who, as Cassie moved closer (still staying 10 feet from the fence) turned around and walked down the opposite end of the fence.away from our yard.

I live in the city, surrounded by small houses with small yards and busy streets all around. This is the first time I’ve seem the possum at this house (we had one at our old house too.) I imagine he came to go fishing in the neighbor’s huge koi pond.

I don’t think a lot of about possums one way or the other as long as they keep their sharp claws away from me and the dog and don’t nest in the house. But it does make me feel a little bit hopeful that other creatures will find their way to our yard as the native plants grow and bloom.

Before bed last night, well into the wee hours of the new year, I wrote a bit, a few bad poems, some lines in a journal. I plan to do more of the same today. I also plan to work on my new blog for my garden. (Any one out there a LJ CSS expert? I need some help.) I want to move the garden posts to the new blog so I can track my progress.

Here’s to the new year. May it be filled with many new adventures.

Thursday, January 1, 2009|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |6 Comments

Smile Meme

beckylevine  tagged me for this and probably doesn’t realize how hard it is for me think of things that make me smile.
(hulabunny however knows my struggle.)

1. My dog Cassie playing bone hockey on the tile floor. She bats the bone, watches it slide across the floor, then goes after it growling and pouncing until she bats it away again.

2. Yummer rib tips for dinner from C.B. Hannigans.

3. Getting all my writing figurines put back into my new cabinet in my office.

4. Cassie snoring.

5. Turning in a project about an hour ago and getting a big thank you from the person who hired me.

Tags to anyone else who needs to remind themself that life is good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |1 Comment

Friday five – a random edition

1. This is the new tree bench we got for the backyard. On clearance no less! Now if I could only find some chairs I liked on clearance too.
(I’m debating removing the rock path. It feels a bit overwhelming with all that rock right now.)

2. I had a few pieces of slate from our old house that I had moved over to this house then decided I didn’t need it. For the heck of it I put it up on craigslist and someone came to buy it from me. He kept canceling when he was going to come over but something told me to stick with him. He came today and picked up the slate which means now I have a bunch of extra space on the sideyard.

3. Same guy saw all the empty black nursery pots – lots and lots of them – and asked if I wanted to get rid of them. I said yes and he took most of them. I kept some for as I try to propagate plants.

4. Same guy took the single aggregate stepping stone and two cement piers.

5. Turns out the guy used to be a contractor. One of his new sidelines is building custom raised planter boxes. He’s going to build me a 7 foot long box for the courtyard for our herbs. His price for the one big one, raised, which will work better and look nicer is cheaper than the 4 I would have had to buy elsewhere.

A bonus item not yard related. I had a bunch of clothes all bought and ready to wrap for my husband who comes out and shows me his list for Macy’s that he is just getting ready to order because he needs clothes. So I had to give him his Christmas stuff early. Tell me other people’s husbands do the same thing?

And a second bonus item not yard related. I trained Cassie to ring the bells to go outside but today it has been too much of a good thing. I think she rang the darn bells 25 times and only two of those times was because she actually had to go to the bathroom.


Friday, December 5, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |11 Comments

No doggy daycare for Cassie

Cassie had her evaluation for doggy daycare today. It was at the same place we do our dog training classes. It was a long shot because, as an older rescue dog (as in past the puppy socialization stage) she has issues.

The evals run about an hour long.

Cassie only lasted 15 minutes. Poor baby.

She was great when I handed her over to the evaluator. She was fine, I am told, with the other strange person she met for the first time. People skills, 100% okay.

They brought out the first dog, the marshmallow dog. The dog they say if your dog has issues with it the problem is all with your dog. Cassie had no problems but she also wasn’t interested in having anything to do with her.

Then they brought out Blaire. Cassie knows Blaire from class. Cassie and Blaire were co-valedictorians in class. They love to play together so with Blaire, Cassie was fine. They ran and played just great.

Then the brought out the next dog who is a bit of an in-your-face-stand-still-let-me-smell-you kind of brat.

And she had a melt-down.

They tried a couple more dogs but it was way too much for her. There was no way she could handle being out with the pack all day long. The evaluator brought her back out to me so Cassie didn’t have any trauma associated with the visit.

I knew it was a long shot, her making it in so quickly. She just doesn’t have enough confidence yet. She is MUCH more confident than she was when we brought her home a few months ago. At first she couldn’t stand to have us leave the room, she had to follow us everywhere. She also had a "closed mouth" all the time. Now she is happy to watch us as we leave the room and most of the time has an open, happy mouth.

She is fine with other dogs one on one but the group thing, still too much. We’re supposed to organize more play dates with multiple dogs but there is no place around here to meet with other dogs. Our yard can’t handle it and the dog park is too much for her too.

We’re not giving up. Hopefully a few more months or so down the road we can try again.

So because I felt bad, I bought her a tunnel to work with. (and a hula hoop.)

She seems to like it just fine.

Friday, November 14, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |12 Comments

Friday Five – dogs again

I’ve been trying to write this post all week but it’s been hard.

So here are my five dogs things first, and then the story.

#1  We met a dog named Cullen.
#2  We agreed to foster Cullen.
#3  Cullen came to our house.
#4  Cullen and Cassie played wonderfully well and never a cross word between them.
#5  Cullen moved on to another foster home.

Recently we met a dog named Cullen.

He had been found on the streets in Monterey, picked up and taken to the pound and pulled from the pound by the wonderful Bob at the Northern California German Shepherd Rescue group. We met Bob and Cullen at a local park and Cassie and Cullen seemed to get along just fine. They walked nicely together, sniffed a lot, played a bit. Cullen was still a little stressed (panting/drooling) from his trip to the pound but was a real love bucket. He was about the same age as Cassie and a total goofball, all arms and legs without a lot of control.

We went home to talk about it. Then last Saturday we went to the adoption fair to take Cassie to see her amazing foster mom PJ. We also wanted to meet Shane, PJ’s current foster. Shane was a beautiful sweet boy but my heart had already been stolen by Cullen. He was a living, breathing teddy bear and I could already see him as my therapy dog.

So we agreed to foster him which would give us a week to decide if we wanted to adopt him. Bob dropped him off at our house that afternoon.

There was a bit of excitement right off the bat because the dogs were being dogs and chasing one another and we hadn’t removed everything from their path. My fault and no one was hurt and my wonderful husband cleaned up all the broken glass.

This is Cullen.

He quickly found where all the air vents were in the house. He especially liked the one in the kitchen so he could stay cool but keep an eye out for food that magically fell from the sky.

He also found Cassie’s bed.

But she didn’t seem to mind too much.

It took a bit to tire him out but he finally crashed. Cassie is laying just a few feet away from him.


It really was a case of wherever one went, the other would follow, exactly the kind of doggy friendship one would hope for. Really, the two of them were great, walking side by side, sharing and swapping bones. Cassie couldn’t quite figure out what Cullen was doing when he launched himself into the small wading pool and laid down in it but she was very happy to have him to chase around.


Alas, while the dogs were fine it was too much for me. Cullen had no house manners yet (major counter surfing, broken dishes, etc) and was on and off the furniture. I have no doubt that a few months of training is going to turn him into the perfect dog for someone, but that someone is not me.

I thought back to when I was much younger, in my twenties with babies in diapers and 4-5 big dogs living in the house, a house much smaller than this one. I don’t recall it being so intense, where I wasn’t able to relax a minute. But then I’ve gone through a lot in the past years so I guess I just can’t do it anymore. Or maybe later, down the road, when life settles down some.

I should have posted this yesterday, I meant to, if only to be able to give thanks once again to the Northern California German Shepherd Rescue group. First for bringing sweet Cullen out of the pound and second to finding another foster family to take him in when it became apparent that I was unable to keep him. A special thank you to PJ who not only helped me hold it together over the phone but gave up her Sunday to drive over the hill and pick him up.

Cullen, I know you’ll find a forever home soon. I’m sorry it couldn’t be ours.

Friday, August 29, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |21 Comments

Friday Five – More about dogs

These are the thoughts going through my head this Friday:

1 – Cassie is very attached to my husband. I adore her, she has a giant chunk of my heart already, but if I had it to do over again I might go looking first for a male dog that would glued to my hip. (Example – My husband left the house around 9:30 this morning. It is now 11:30. She has circled the house up and down stairs, his office, around the house again, outside, back inside, repeat, for 2 hours. ) She loves me, but she loves me more when my husband is home.

2 – Another dog might help Cassie with missing her favorite human. Her foster mom had told us that too.

3 – Cullen (see yesterday’s post) is a real teddy bear of a snuggler who would totally be my giant lap dog. 

4 – Cassie and Cullen are close in age – maybe only a few months apart. This could be insanity waiting to happen. 

5 – I don’t know if it’s crazy to bring another new dog into the house so soon or not. But with all the stressful stuff in my life right I have to admit that having a teddy bear dog to love on sounds pretty good. But I have to think with my head and not with my heart and make sure we can do right by two dogs.

Oh, and a bonus I just remembered – the yard is not in, not even close, barely started. So to deal with two young dogs and new plants? Yes, I am insane.

Friday, August 22, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |24 Comments

Friday Five – the Cassie edition

Cassie has been with us almost 3 weeks now so I thought this edition of the Friday Five should be about her.

#1¬†¬†¬†¬† We are still working on separation anxiety. She has super-bonded with my husband which is both nice and sad. It is nice because of course I like to see both him and Cassie happy but it is sad because I want her to bond with me. She loves me, but since he is home with her most all day it is different. When I am home with her and he is gone she whines for a long time and sits in the dining room facing the front door. It is getting better but it is a lot of work on my part to build the relationship. I am the person with the best (translations – stinkiest treats) and I’m the only one who feeds her scraps of meat that she gets to take from my mouth. I do a lot of the play/training with her so hopefully it will all add up. I realize we may have this who thing in reverse when we get a male dog down the road.

When we are both gone she has to go in the crate. This does not make her happy.

She does not like the crate at all. The trainer suggested we set up a video camera to see how long she freaks out when she was in it so we know how serious it is.

#2     Things happen for a reason. Remember all those big piles of dirt and decomposed granite in the backyard? Cassie loves them. She loves to climb to the top and dig in like a pile of sand. She likes to take a stick and lay on the top of the hill. She likes to crane her neck back so she can watch the planes go overhead. So now we are replanning our backyard design so that we can make a hill for Cassie.

For the longest time that was about all she would do outside, run to the hill and sit down. Now she is learning how to play. Outside she likes to gather sicks and run puppy races. When we first brought her home she really didn’t know what to do with many of her toys. She liked things that squeaked though so we got this little beehive that has three small bees inside. They all have a different kind of squeak. She has to get them out of the hive. She loves it.

The trainer that we are working with told us that we should add tricks in now, at the same time we are working on obedience, and Cassie is loving it. She isn’t 100% consistent yet, but she is getting there on SHAKE, SPIN, and CRAWL. She is also learning to ring the bells hanging on the door to let us know when she wants to go outside.

#3¬†¬†¬†¬† She does not like the ocean at all. We took her to Aptos to see the ocean and this was as close as she would get and she wasn’t happy about that. There were dogs all around her racing into the water but she squirmed away. She does however like her wading pool in the backyard. She won’t go IN it but she likes to dive underwater and pick up things on the bottom of the surface. And she likes to remove all the leaves from the pool. We are surmising that someone used a hose to scare her in some way because whenever I water the plants she moves away. We are working on me having the hose on the ground next to me and having her come close for being touched. Tonight I was watering in the courtyard and she actually walked over to me of her own even though water was coming out of the hose. We are constantly amazed at how quickly she is progressing for a rescue dog.

#4      She loves meeting new dogs and is wonderful with all of them. She met several new dogs at the beach. She meets new dogs on her daily walks and is great with all of them except for the little yappy dogs, like daschunds, that come toward her. Those she is afraid of which makes us think the probably with the people who adopted her from the pound were the little dogs. Sigh. We were charged by a Beagle, barking and growling and ready to bite and Cassie just sat down and waited.

Her favorite playmate is her cousin Crice, my brother-in-law’s three-year-old Shepherd. They love to play chase.

#5 She loves going everywhere with us, even out to dinner. We went to Ma Maison in Aptos for dinner and they allow dogs on the patio. They even brought Cassie water in a porcelain bowl, the same kind of dishes we had on our table.

We just gave her a bully stick and she was happy.

I’d forgotten how much work a puppy was, even an older pup like Cassie. She sleeps all night but gets up way too early, no matter what we do and someone always has to have an eye out for her so I can’t ever relax. But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

In the midst of all the crazies going on in my life right now, most especially the waiting at work as the merger goes forward with plans to close toward the end of the month and the layoffs in huge numbers due to come as soon as possible after the merger closes, well, puppy kisses make it all bearable.

Friday, August 15, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |21 Comments

Thankful Thursday

In my typical random order – 

I am thankful that we found a dog trainer that I think is a great match for helping us work with Cassie.

I am thankful that the company we are merging with is doing it all very quickly. There will be a HUGE layoff when the deal closes, which will be painful no matter where I land, but it will be done quickly. Those that are still employed will know the layoff is done and shouldn’t have to have the threat of more layoffs hanging over their head month after month after month. Those that lose their jobs (or have delayed departures) will at least know where they stand. I won’t know what happens to me for another month but in another month, it will all be over. Considering that for the last 2 years we have lived in constant fear – this will be an improvement.

I am thankful that the blasted water pipe is finally fixed which means the pavers can finally be put back in place.

I am thankful for puppy kisses because they are so good for everything that is not right in my word.

I am thankful that for now, at least, Thursday is my Friday and I have three days off.

Thursday, August 14, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |2 Comments

Monday, Monday – an update of sorts

You know how it is – you don’t blog regularly for a while and then you think of all these things you should blog about but you don’t and you don’t have time to read and post to other people’s blogs so you know they are going to stop reading yours and your can’t blame them and you haven’t even had time to respond to people who responded to your blogs and pretty soon the guilty feelings pile up so high that you figure you might as well just quit blogging right now.

But then I figure if one of the things that is making me crazy is not writing then maybe if I go back to blogging it will be a little bit like writing and I won’t feel so bad. And if nobody but me reads my posts, I will tell myself that’s okay because I understand that blogging is a reciprocal activity and without time to reciprocate, well, like I said, I understand.

And then I remember that some of the most fun I had with writing recently was writing character letters and that even if the books are going nowhere for a variety of reasons I could maybe play with the characters again.

Before long I recognize that I have always been one to pile the guilt on myself without too much help from the Universe at large and wouldn’t it be nice if in this second half of life I could just chuck the guilt and enjoy a guilt-free version of life?

Okay, so that last one probably isn’t going to happen but I’m working on the rest.

Here’s the mini update.

The yard – I listed out the major steps needed to complete the front and back yards. There are 33 things on the list. Sigh. That is a ton when you consider one step might be “pick out plants for small planting section to right of driveway) because there are a lot more steps that go into that, plus the actual planting that will be done in the fall.
But at least I have a list. It is frustrating to me because I have to rely on my wonderful husband to do the hard work. Due to my shoulder/arm/wrist issues I can no long use the pick axe to dig or shovel dirt or carry heavy things. It is frustrating to have to wait for someone else to do things I used to be able to do myself. 

On top of that, I am bloody sick and tired of having to deal with people we have had to hire to do stuff for us. We do have a wonderful new courtyard fence but I also had to ask the guy to rehang the old gate to the sideyard and they said because there was nothing strong against the house to mount it to they made this weird thing that is self-supporting and I HATE it. I’m glad I can’t see it very often but every time I do, it makes me grit my teeth. But not nearly as much as looking at the backyard fence that we had put up last year. We trusted the guy who installed it for us and he put pressure treated wood on the top horizontal section of the fence. Now we have been told by three different fence people that the reason it is all warping is that they never should have put pressure treated wood on top. So we will have to pay to have it all replaced and it isn’t even a year old yet! And only one of the 4 neighbors helped pay for the originally fence so we are out even more money. But wait, there’s more. The fence is one of those with overlapping panels but they were too cheap to put enough wood in the sections to allow for shrinkage so now after not even a year, I can put my hand through the fence in many places. What is so stupid is that instead of just putting in one extra piece of wood, they guy took the time to cut a piece vertically to put in there. Sigh. We need to at least replace all the back fence sections ASAP before we put the plants in come fall.

I am also still very frustrated when I see the decomposed granite and the blue stone. There have been some very expensive homeowner lessons of late. 

For the last month we have had sections of the new paver driveway torn up due to a broken water pipe to the sprinklers that has defied repair. We are now waiting for the electrician to come install new outlets in the courtyard then we can get the pavers repaired and back to what passes for normal.

The job – we are in crazymaking times at my job as the merger goes forth and people are meeting for what basically amounts to interviews to discover if, in a few weeks, they will still have a job or not. So I am gathering my best pieces of work and beefing up my confidence for the weeks ahead. On the plus side, by September 2nd, we should all know if we have a job or should be looking for one.

Sleep – not getting enough of it. Stress and other life issues (see above) mean I’m getting about 5 hours a night. I need 8 and maybe even one night of 10. Ugh. I miss sleep.

The writing – not happening much (see above). Lots of thinking though which may come out more in character letters or something else. I am feeling afraid of poetry for reasons that I probably won’t go into here in the blog and yet I am feeling drawn to working on poems.

The dog – the part of my life that isn’t obsessing about whether or not I will still have a job next month or the yard or wondering if it crazy that I only want to hire workers around my home that speak the same language as I do, well, the rest of the time is spent with Cassie. She is already such a joy in our lives. Frustrating at time in the way that puppies can be but it is all a part of growing up and getting trained. 

Saturday we took her to the beach for the first time and she was not at all impressed. Afraid of the ocean. Then we went to dinner in Aptos, at Ma Maison, and had a lovely French dinner out on the patio with Cassie contentendly chewing on a toy at our feet. I am grateful to live in an area that is so dog friendly.

That’s life in an oversized nutshell.

Monday, August 11, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |14 Comments

Meet Cassie

I’ve spent most of the week looking on Petfinder, at the animal shelters and at the various rescue groups. Once we eliminated breeds that didn’t speak to us we really didn’t have a lot of choices. We knew in our hearts we both wanted a German Shepherd. We’ve both had and loved Shepherds before and missed having one around. Once we agreed on that it I basically parked myself at the local Geman Shepherd rescue website and studied the profiles of the animals they had available. 

Cassie caught my heart right away. Saturday they had their adoption fair so we went down to visit the 7 or 8 dogs they had there. I’m so glad we were one of the first ones to arrive because otherwise we might not have been able to adopt this little sweetheart. While we were at the adoption fair the workers were home installed a new gate and front fence so we could pass the home visit.  Sunday morning we picked her up and brought her home.


If you’re not familiar with breed rescue groups they take in owner surrenders but they also go to the pound and rescue dogs from there and try to place them with people who love that breed. Cassie was found at the pound about a month ago. Her owners surrendered her saying she didn’t get along with other dogs and she made too much noise. (They also gave her the inappropriate name of Patton. We think she was just left in the backyard alone.) Her foster mom had her with several other dogs and a caged Macaw and said she was just fine. Hmmmm. 

She does like to talk but we think it’s when she is trying to tell us something (Take me outside. Let me sit in your lap. I feel the overwhelming need to kiss you right this very second.)


Her foster mommy said she loved squeaky toys so we made sure she had several. She loves to try and pull the nubs off of this. She also loves the tennis ball except when it rolls under the chair. Then she waits for someone to get it out for her.


She’s about 7 months old. We took her over to meet my brother-in-law’s Shepherd who is 3 and Cassie is already as tall as she is. We figure she should get to be about 75 pounds or so. She is amazingly gentle for still being a pup and walked very well on the leash. She’s already learning some of the basic commands and goes to the door to ask to go outside. It’s going to be hard to leave her at home when I have to go to work in the morning.


Now all we need to do is find her a buddy. ūüôā

Sunday, July 27, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |57 Comments

Friday Five – The Animal Edition

1 –¬† Thank you to everyone who shared my pain in saying goodbye to my long-time four legged friend, Chelsie. It really does help to hear from so many of you. While I miss Chelsie and will continue to do so for a long time to come, I can look back on how unlike herself she had become and know that it was the right thing to do. We have packed up her toys and bowls and will donate them to the local shelter. (New animals will have new things.)

2 – We are already looking for another dog. Actually two. We wanted two dogs for quite some time but Chelsie never did well with other dogs. I’ve spent my events scouring and the various animals shelters. Hopefully we can find one or two that click with us aged 1-3 (for at least one of them.)

3 – At least one of the dogs will be a German Shepherd rescue dog. Both my husband and I have had them in the past and miss them. I didn’t have the room for one when I got Chelsie. Tomorrow we will go to the first of what I imagine will be many events to meet a few potential dogs and see how we get along.

4 – To adopt from anywhere but the pound there is a mandatory home visit, which is fine. I can understand wanting to make sure the yard is safe, etc. But we had been spoiled in that Chelsie basically never did anything. Now that I am looking at the house through new eyes we have a lot of picking up to do. That’s okay. I’m also looking at my landscape design in the back with new eyes. One thing to be grateful for is Chelsie leaving us before the new yard is in. I need to plan for a longer expanse of grass for the dog and a dog water play area.

5 – We’re looking forward to being able to have a dog that wants to go places with us. Many of our friends have dogs that we would like to visit. We want a dog that can go to family dinners with us and play with my brother-in-law’s dog. We live in an area where many places are dog-friendly and we are anxious to get out and play.

Friday, July 25, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |14 Comments

Saying goodbye to Chelsie

It was not a coincidence that today’s memory challenge was about animals. I have been trying to get up the courage to write this post. I still don’t think I have the courage but I need to write it now.

Monday, my 50th birthday, was not spent with cake and ice cream. There was no quiet dinner out at a favorite restaurant. Instead I came home from work early to spend a few last hours with my best four-legged friend Chelsie. Her time had come. And as always is the case, it is too soon for those of us left behind.

Was it only May that I wrote this post about her? I knew then that my time with her was coming to an end. Later in May I posted the sunflower episode. After that she slowed down even more, rarely wanting to move from one of her two favorite spots in the library, one of two corners, each with the safety of a chair for her to hide behind. She was less interested in saying hello in the morning or when I came home from work. She would skip meals for several days. After that it came fast.

Monday afternoon I sat with her for the last time.

I spoke softly and recalled every step of the journey we had taken together over the last 14 years. She came into my life at my absolutely lowest point, when I was living in New Orleans. She would jump up like a kangaroo to greet me each day. As I spoke, I reminded her of the great escape I gave her from the pound. It was a horrible place, filthy and she was covered with so many bugs. She was skin and bones but even then, not interested in food. I talked of the agility classes we had taken together and how much she used to love the tunnel and the poles. I laughed again at how she never met a puddle she didn’t want to roll in and how, in her younger years, she believed children and ducks at the park were meant for herding. She and my big orange cat Benjamin were the best of friends. I don’t know if she thought she was a cat or if she thought the cat was a dog but the two of them did everything together, including getting into cabinets for their favorite treat, bread. She wasn’t food motivated but she did love the scraps of plain tortillas and a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

In New Orleans life was rough and many a day I didn’t want to get out of bed, not even to go to work. But I got out of bed for her. And while I lived in a very scary place and she really wasn’t that big of a dog, I felt a little safer with her by my side.

On the trip moving from New Orleans back home to California Chelsie was supposed to ride shot-gun but instead she scooted over as close as she could get, her nose always under the steering wheel. And when I got pulled over for speeding I think it was her goofy clown face that saved me from getting that much-deserved ticket.

She was terrified of most men but once we were in California and she met me soon-to-be husband, she didn’t hesitate to give him all the love she had reserved for me. She was content to sleep on the floor on the side of the bed until someone got up in the middle of the night and then she would quickly jump up and claim as much of it as she could. She and Benjamin would sit on the chest in front of the window to watch for me to come home. When she injured her back and had major surgery I had to move the chest and not let her jump anymore. I think she began to die a little bit back then, so much did that girl love to jump.

When Benjamin died she mourned him for months and some of the light went out of her eyes. She would lay in the garage staring at the last place she saw him and my heart hurt for her hurting, missing her buddy.

Monday I knew it was time. I told her to go find Benjamin. That it was okay to leave me now.

A wonderful vet, Dr. Apple, came to our home so we didn’t have to subject her to the vet’s office. (In recent years she had become so fearful of the vet that she had to be sedated for basic exams.) I worried that she would give me a look of betrayal at the end but instead I saw her finally relax and look more peaceful than I have seen in longer than I want to remember.

This morning when I came downstairs there was no black and white clown face to greet me. When the doorbell rang there was no answering bark to make sure I heard it. My husband went out to get the paper alone. The house is emptier than I could have imagined it would be.

Chelsie was not my first dog nor will she be my last. But she was the dog I needed most for one of the toughest struggles in my life. I was so proud to call her friend.

Goodbye, my friend. Run wild. Run free.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: |123 Comments

Friday Five – The Sunflower Edition

#1     I am the sort of person that needs to be around plants and flowers and bugs and birds and stuff like that.

At my last house, even though it was a rental, we put in a small native garden. When I would come home from work I would head out the garden just to deadhead flowers or see what new bugs had come by to visit. It was soothing and inspiring.

#2     Sunflowers make me smile.

#3¬† If I can’t have sunflowers outside, I want them inside.

#4  But sometimes I CAN have them outside.

I have¬†been patient, waiting this first year in the house as we learned what we did and didn’t want in a garden. We’ve done the prep work, ripping out everything in the backyard save one tree and the lawn and the lawn will be gone too. But I missed flowers. The birds were coming to visit. But all we had growing in the yard was a Japanese maple that, while lovely, had no flowers. While the garden I am designing will be filled with many natives that will flower I didn’t want to plant them now because we still have to take up the lawn and the concrete and do some more prep work. So I decided I could have just a few sunflowers out back. I picked up 4 plants in the little 4″ pots but the sunflowers were already over a foot tall. I planted them out back, near the bird bath. They all had flowers about to open. The second day, one flower opened and one of the local hummingbirds came to visit. (Hey, it was the first time I had something new to offer him besides the bugs on the maple tree.) I was thrilled.

The next day I opened the blinds, looked out back hoping to see a little hummer darting around or at least a smiling sunflower face beaming back at me.

Instead I see this.

That would be just a stem of what used to be a sunflower. One of the four flowers were gone.¬†And I don’t mean broken off and sitting in the dirt which was my first thought. I figured a bird or squirrel had landed on them, broken it and that we’d fine the flowers in the dirt. Nope. We looked all over the yard (which, remember, has been stripped of everything but the one tree and the lawn. There’s just dirt.) There was no flower in sight. There were no seeds in the flower yet but we finally decided that¬†a squirrel must have carried them off. There was no other explantion.

Or was there?

The next day when I was at work my husband was working from home. He sent me a text message that said “I know the creature that is eating your sunflowers.”

Of course I had to call him right away to find the answer to our mystery. He said we had lost another flower but that he caught the criminal in the act.

#5  Dogs will eat anything, even entire sunflowers.

Yes, my picky eater dog was the one who calmed ate an entire sunflower and then, went back for more.

Sigh. I still have two left but I don’t know for how long.

Friday, May 30, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , , |19 Comments

Friday Five – the Canine edition

She’s a Southern girl. Part Border Collie with a little bit of Aussie Shepherd and Spitz.

I got Chelise in New Orleans. Yes, I know that is not the way most people spell Chelise but trust me, it was the only small battle I could win about her name at the time. I wanted to call her something literary. Sigh. I did not intend to get a dog. I had a cat. I was living in an apartment (albeit a nice sized one) and I was working a full-time job. But I went to the pound with a friend (always a big mistake) who was looking for a replacement dog. Replacement because he had adopted a dog there and then when they went to spay him, the¬†dog had some disease and they had to put it down. So he basically had a gift certificate to the pound that he didn’t want to use.

Then I saw Chelise who was scrawny and covered in bugs. I figured she was about¬†9 months old back.¬†She leaned against the cyclone fence and it was love at first sight. I remember being worried about have the same pound spay her. When I went to pick her up she was still out cold, sleeping in a pile of urine. They let¬†me take her home even though she wasn’t awake and I remember carrying her up those very many stairs of the apartment and hoping I didn’t drop her. Benjamin (my cat) was fascinated with the sleeping dog who didn’t move even when he poked it with a paw.

I gave her a sponge bath and waited for her to wake up.

When I lived in New Orleans she was always happy to see me¬†come home from work.¬† I thought she was part kangaroo the way she would jump into my arms. I’d have to be quick to put my purse down so I could catch her. Not so much anymore. I often have to go find her to let her know I am home. Part of it is I think she is starting to go deaf and part of is she just doesn’t care as much as she used to.

For the longest time my cat Benjamin was her best buddy. (She mourned him for months after he died.) The two of them would wait anxiously for me to come home from work. We had a special cushion made to fit on this chest so they could look out the only window in this very tiny place we lived in when I first moved back to California.

Back then she could still jump up on all sorts of things but now that she is older and has had back surgery, she hesitates before deciding if she really wants to make the next step up or down between the library and the rest of the house.¬†Now that we finally have a big house with a yard it is sad. She doesn’t go upstairs at all and really doesn’t care to be outside for any longer than it takes to do her business.

She is the least food motivated animal I have ever had in my life. At least now. When I was in New Orleans and she was still so afraid of everything and hungry she would do more for food but not anymore. She saves her treats until after dinner. No matter when you give them to her. No matter how many you give her. She just lets them pile up. At the end of the night she could have 5, 6,7 treats piled up. And while she will eat a milk bone or a greenie, she would much rather have a piece of a plain tortilla or lick the ice cream bowl. She does, eventually eat them though.

She’s a bit of a snob.¬† She’s not fond of most men and doesn’t like other dogs. She takes a while to warm up to anyone new.

And she’s easily bored.

She is also the first dog I’ve ever had who didn’t know how to play with a ball. In all the years I’ve had her I’ve never been able to teach her how. She doesn’t play much at all. Never did. She has some stuffed toys and will sometimes run after one once if you throw it, but only once.

She’s¬†also a bit silly.

Whenever I sneeze, she leaves the room. And my office has two sets of French Doors, one from the library (where she spends most of her time) and the other from the living room (where no one spends any time.) If I close the ones to the library and leave the ones to the living room open, she can’t figure out how to go around and get in the other way.


She appreciates a good nap.

In fact, nowadays that’s what she spends most of her time doing. Sleeping. Behind the chair in the library or in the corner of my husband’s office. Sometimes in my office but not often. Getting her to eat anymore¬†is a major chore and she doesn’t want to be petted or brushed so it is always a struggle. She just wants to be left alone and sometimes I find myself resenting the caretaking I am doing without any of the fun of having a dog.

But then I remember being in New Orleans with only Chelsie and Benjamin to keep me company. I remember how Chelsie and I would run laps around the inside of the gated apartment complex (because it was too scary to run anywhere else) and how she would always stop to roll in a muddy puddle (of which there were always many) and then jump up and shake like it was the best joke she had ever heard. I remember when a stray mama cat deserted the last kitten in a litter and I brought it home. My own cat wanted to eat it but Chelsie let it sleep between her outstretched paws and growled whenever Benjamin came close.

But most of all I remember how very lost and alone I felt living on my own for the first time (even though I was in my 30s) and how easy it was to get depressed and feel like my life was never going to get any better and how knowing I had to get up and take her outside was often the only thing that got me through the day.

And I figure being a caretaker to her in her old age is a mighty small price to pay for all she has done for me.

Friday, May 16, 2008|Categories: Life With Dogs|Tags: , |44 Comments