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Shasta Cove Dogs
title_dogdays.gif
Sally

Sally died two weeks ago.
salfocussed
Shortly after her beloved brother, Jasper's, death,
Sally was diagnosed with the same kind of
aggressive bone cancer.
Tho not unexpected, her death on April 2nd
was a surprise ~ that morning she
was eating and wagging, smiling and chasing pinecones,
giving kisses and asking for tummy rubs.
She was so alive.
And then, she was not.
IMG_0048
As with all the others,
Sally guided us through her illness and her death.
Always the alpha girl, in her last months 
she became more spirited, more gentle
and more with us.
She almost became cuddly.
Or Sally's version of it.
IMG_1547
After Jssper's death, Sally seemed to carry a sadness within her
that none of us ~ 2 or 4 footed ~ could reach.
They had shared everything, beginning in the womb
and carrying right through to pinecones, frisbees, food,
long walks, wild runs, barking marathons, leading their pack.
 They even shared a crate....
taking turns sleeping in it at night.
sjtongues2
Sally was so lively, so bright, so smart....so fun!
She was a huge spirit, taking up all the room there was.
We miss her terribly and feel her everywhere.
We are with her and without her now.
sallyfrisbee
As always, grief is a journey.
Sally was the 5th pup gone from our beloved pack
in the last 18 months.
As each one passed ~illness and old age taking their toll ~
there was one right here who needed
extra care along his/her way.
Our grief was shielded in the caring.
sallywatching
With Sally gone, we take time to grieve them all.
It is a big, deep job.
We are filled with their life, love, and loss.
IMG_0121
And we are grateful.
sama



Comments: 2 | Categories: General |
Hank....

Hank died in the end of July.
He was 15 years old and had been ill for some months, so it was not a surprise.
We knew he was ready, it was his time to go, and yet it was a very difficult decision.
Hank made it easier on us, leaving quickly and quietly, as was his way.
He always saw what needed to be done and simply got on with the doing of it.
hank2
Dying was no different for him.

Hank was the third of our pups to die in the last few months, Tux & Jasper went before him.
I feel as if I have been holding my breath, knowing Hank's death would come
and wondering how we would all get through another loss.
And here we are. Getting through. Slowly, sadly. Together. 

Hank's passing has another level of grief accompanying it:
he was one of my Dad's beloved companions in the last years of his life. 
I have been convinced that the fullness of Dad's last years, 
his ability to have a loving and generous life beyond the loss of my Mom, 
was due in large part to the deep companionship he shared with his beloved dogs. 
As with all the pups, Hank's ability to give and receive love 
kept my Dad's heart open and flowing.
It is this connection we are also grieving,
a living link to Dad has left us. We must find our own way to both of them now.

Of all the dogs on the cove, Hank had one of the biggest followings.
The connection to my Dad was part of the reason for that.
After Dad's death he became the embodiment of the love and wisdom we shared with Dad.
And the acceptance we received from him.
Hank_2000
Hank came to Dad an anxious and distrustful pup.
With gentle, shared loving his anxiety and fear went away
and the wise old man of the cove emerged.
Hank would quietly contemplate everything.
He was the observer, carefully letting us know what was really going on. 
When we could quiet ourselves and listen, Hank had much to say.
His fierce distrust of everybody except Dad
became an incredible acceptance of (almost) everyone.
He treated all his people as if they were as special as he was.
Which, of course, in his presence we all were given the chance to become.
hank4
In the last few days of his life Hank would go out and wander his 3 acre, fenced enclave.
He would be out there for hours, sitting, sniffing, even running, digging, watching, 
taking it all in, as if he intended
to leave part of himself here and take a part of this with him. 
I would sit out there and watch him
as he came out from under brush, covered in pollen and dust, 
looking so happy and young again, pleased with himself and this doglife.
He would catch my eye and just stare at me as he walked my way and
I could almost hear him say "It's all good, Peg, it's all Life".

I will find that place again. Soon. But I am not there yet.
daddogs2
Dad with
Hank, Lucky, Rusty & Tux,  2000




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Jasper

1/19/20053/30/2013

jasper_last_day_profile

Jasper died last week.

j
Diagnosed with cancer a year ago,
his pain was well-managed until the day before his death.
je2
His spirit still wanted to chase pinecones,
walk his daily loop with Emma,
bark gloriouosly and in perfect harmony (to them at least) with his beloved sister, Sally,
and come to us for ear scratches, tummy rubs and treats....
bringing love and joy to all of it, to all of us.
bljs
As his cancer grew so did his spirit, the essence of Jasper -
gentle, big, full, loving, funny, and strong.
je
His strength held us all - 2 & 4 footed alike - through this last year.
He never, until his last night, moved out of the joy and presence he felt in each moment.
When I would worry and waiver he brought me right back to what is important -
being. living. dying.
not the anitcipation of what will be
but what is.
right now.

It is such a gift to be led so gently right up to his end.
It makes the sadness somehow softer.

jblogok

We are so fortunate to have loved and been loved by Jasper.
He was the gift of a lifetime.
To each and every one of us.

And the real blessing is
we knew it.
And we know it.
jh1
All along.
Into forever.



Comments: 0 | Categories: |
Tuxedo

Tuxedo died on Thursday,
His death was swift and quiet, as was his way.
Tuxedo
Always there, Tux was the backbone of our pack.
A graceful, playful, loving companion to each one of us.
In whatever situation arose he knew just what to do,
how to be....whether it was playing with Emma or Henry,
diffusing a situation with Sally, running with Jasper,
stepping aside for Abbey, or simply lying quietly by the fire with Hank....
his love was unwavering: steady, deep, and sure.
IMG_0248
Tux was part greyhound and part black lab.
His legs were long, his body lean,
he leapt like a gazelle, ran with the wind,
played rambunctiously, and dug deeply.
His excavations have become legend.
extuxemtexcavates3_copytuxAtWorkinSnow2
He did not simply dig holes.
With Emma supervising and Henry testing depths,
Tux dug caves and trenches from one end of our meadow to the other.
We often wondered if Tux was digging for deeply buried treasure.
We know now that he is the treasure to be found in his digs;
when the snows melt we will spread his ashes
through-out his excavations.
TUXEDO!
The speed he flies with is strong, bold, ecstatic;
Gravity cannot contain him,
Nature rejoices at this dog's splendor,
The pure thrill that makes the wind dance.
IMG_6823
After Tux died, we looked up and this is what we saw.
The full Moon, to light his way.



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Jasper

BlogJasper
Our beloved Jasper, who we call the Gentle Giant,
has been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer.
His diagnosis, which came two months ago, was a shock.
complete surprise.
We had assumed his renewed limping was his arthritis,
defying the pain meds he was on.

It took us awhile to catch our breath.
img_1300
As options for Jasper's treatment are invasive, painful, and expensive,
with no guarrentee of even a modicum of success,
we decided to treat his pain as best we can
and cherish every single moment we have with him
for how ever long he has.


Jasper reminds us every day that he is living, not dying.
He smiles often, eats well, greets visitors happyily,
wags his tail vibrantly, and dances in his sleep.


Tho his frisbee chasing is quite curtailed,
he is helping us find other ways of playing,
that are not so hard on his body:
Short walks, tug of war, easy pinecone tosses,
big barking recitals, many cuddles,
and the like.

Jasper's behavior has changed in the last few months;
he has always been a gentle, loving dog
and a bit aloof, staying outisde most of each day,
entertaining himself, keeping watch on the property,
being the big black watchdog in our life.

In these last months he seeks our company,
both Todd & I and the other pups, more than he ever has,
as if he is wanting our protection and comfort now.
He snuggles with us more,
comes to us often through the day for a belly rub, ear scratches,
or just a quiet moment together.
bltj
He has begun to play with Emma in a way they never have.
He is gentle and funny with her, she is feisty and joyful with him.
They take walks together and Emma,who  at 17 pounds, is (maybe)1 foot tall,
walks under Jasper, who at 90 pounds, stands 3 feet tall.
We watch her wagging tail tickling his tummy as they go.
blogje
He has been particularly close to his sister, Sally,
their whole lives, and they have become closer still,
spending most of each day together now.
bljs
It is as if Jasper is allowing us all to soak him up,
to imprint his loving into each one of us.....
in whatever time we have left.

There is sadness here, grief again.....
and joy, love, and discovery.
This is life.
sj



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A Successful Day.....

It is such a successful day when i wear (most of) them out!

It happens so rarely (usually it's the other way around)
that I notice when it does....

worn_out_3
Emma_worn_outjasper_worn_out

I was thinking while we were out today,
in our various summer day endeavors
- a long walk, frisbee time, water play, digging, and more -
how wonderful it is that they can all just be,
however they like.....they need be nothing more than who they are.
Isn't that all any of us is looking for? 
A place to be.



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A (True) Story of DogMagic

daddogs2
This Year, in celebration of my Dad's birthday,
(the highest of higH and holy holidays, as Dad would say),
i'd like to share this story of dogmagic with you.

Clyde and Bob: A Small (& true) Story 

Clyde (the dog) and Bob (the man) lived across the street from one and other.
When Bob came outside to garden, Clyde would cross the street to visit him.
Over the years, Bob and Clyde shared treats and affection, kind words and time.
They became close friends.
 
Clyde often knew when Bob would be coming out to garden
and would be waiting for him.
Bob knew that Clyde would be joining him
and always had a pocketful of treats.

When Bob died, Clyde missed him.
In his loving family, Clyde's dog days were full
of love and affection,
kindnesses, treats, and dog adventures.
But Clyde never forgot Bob or the times they shared.
Every now and then, Clyde would cross the street and wait awhile in Bob's yard.

One 4th of July, a few years after Bob had passed away,
Clyde and his family were outside in their backyard,
when a fire cracker went off down the street.
Startled and frightened, Clyde ran off.
As darkness fell, his family drove all over town for hours, anxiously looking for him.
On their way home they decided to drive through the cemetary.

And, there they found Clyde, lying on Bob's grave.

• • • • • • • •



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Spring(?) Snow(!)

Between the storm we had last month and the storms of last week,
I think we may have enough snow to make a winter.......
dogdoorview.jpgThe view from the dog door 3/29/11
ess.jpgEmma is light enough to skitter across the top of the snow,hss.jpgwhile Henry sinks right in, and being Henry, stays awhile.
jasper_everhopeful.jpgNothing stops Jasper's pursuit of his frisbee......tuxthesame.jpgnor Tux's excavations.....
snowdog3.jpgnor Sally's desire to fly.
Emma & Henry.....snowdog2.jpg....coming and going.



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A Snowy (Finally!) Day

(These last two months Tux, the excavator, has had a flare up of arthritis in his right front shoulder - one of his main digging legs!- he has been "grounded" - no digging, daily anti-inflamatories, massage, short leash walks, and warm rest - Emma has helped us take care of him - she hung out with him inside while the rest of the pack was outside; if he slipped out alone she let us know we weren't doing our job by following him, barking; and when we all did go out she was his shadow.  This last week he has been doing much better and has been able to go out on his own.....and dig (just a little.)

When I looked at the pictures from this snowy day, I saw a small story unfold.....

emmalone.jpg

 

 

 

 

Can't you just hear her saying "Where'd everyone go? it's deep out here!"

 

 

 

 

jumpingin.jpg

 

 

 

 

Then, seeing Tux  across the meadow, digging, she throws caution to the wind and jumps right in......

 

 

 

 

 

 

emmadigs.jpg"Tux, your shoulder! Let me dig!!"

emmatux.jpg"What shall we do next, Tux?"

• • • • • • • • • • • •
Sally and Jasper spent the afternoon playing wildy in two feet of new powder,
finding something new in every single moment, as only dogs can.
I don't think they ever stopped moving.
They are so happy, these wild dogs of Shasta Cove,
their joy is contagious......deeply.
wildones.jpeg



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A Belated........

.......but no less Heartfelt New Years Greeting.....

truckdogs.jpg
Where has January gone?!?
(actually November and December, too?!)
2011 is still quite young, tho and we did not want to miss wishing you all
a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, and Playful New Year!
We hope that 2011 is filled with many dog-worthy moments
for all of us, 2 and 4 footed alike!
• • • • • • •
(That is Sally in the back seat, Henry and Emma in the front.
As for the rest of our pack -
actively dislikes the camera,
as soon as he heard it click on off he went, in search of snow,
(which I am so happy to report, he found;-);
doesn't like riding in cars or trucks, and at almost 100 pounds,
unless it is an emergency or a vet visit,
he pretty much gets his way! ;
and Tux nytux.jpg
who has not been feeling well all month, is
sound asleep behind Sally on the backseat.)
• • •
nymtn.jpg
(Mt. Shasta, January 25th, 2011)
• • • • • • •
And, on another note:
Be sure and check out this new website -
you will be so glad you did!
• • •



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A (perfect) Dog Day....

Quiet, reflective, playful
(with the emphasis firmly & equally on both parts: play and full)
golden dog days.
Each to his or her own,
and all together
bltodd.jpg
blsally.jpgblemma.jpgblhen.jpg
bljs.jpgblhstick.jpg
bltuxdigs.jpg
As the light fades, shadows grow long,
and  it is time
to catch our breath....
blsal.jpg
bltux.jpg
and take our (well deserved) rest.
blhensleep.jpg
I feel so fortunate to not only live this doglife,
but to completely recognize the wonder of it.



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Henry and THE Pear....

Unlike last year, when we had a bumper crop of fruit - apples, peaches, pears, and plums - we had no good fruit on our trees this year (probably due to frosty nights right through June) - EXCEPT one beautiful, perfect pear that we were watching with focussed anticipation as it ripened.
Apparently so was Henry:

henrypear.jpg

He sniffed it, and plucked it, then threw it in the air; chased it,
retrieved it, and gnawed it; then carried it around all afternoon.
He never exactly ate it, but he got such delight out of it
that we were as delighted as if we'd had a taste.
Almost.



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Cody Memorial in BARK Magazine

We are excited to let you know that Cody's memorial has been published in BARK Magazine! Please click on the link below to read:

http://thebark.com/content/cody-cahill



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Changes....

Life being change, we have been in the thick of it these last few months.
With Abbey and Cody's deaths the dynamics of the pack have changed, are changing.

 

sama.jpg
Much to our surprise, Sally & Emma, who both often vied with Abbey for the alpha position, to no avail, have been working out a sharing of it - mostly thanks to Sally's ability to behave democratically. Emma still wants things HER WAY but she is now fine being the only one doing them that way.With Abbey gone Sally seems to think the lead position is not that important any more, playing is way more fun! We often see her step around Emma's antics and continue to do exactly as she pleases. Neither Sally nor Emma possess the character of an alpha dog - Sally being far too random in her reactions, and Emma being a true Princess - they do not consistently have the leadership qualities that Abbey possessed. And it seems they know this. Now. It was Abbey who taught them this,of course, and tho they didn't really let on while she was alive, they got it.

 

cody.jpg
When Cody was alive all of the other dogs wanted to sleep on his bed - and often would when he was not on it. They each have their own bed, so that was not it.....I always felt it was that  because it was Cody's bed, it was special. For the week after he died, not one of the dogs would lie on it - each and all would gather around it, sleep up next to it, touching, but never on. After a week or so of this they went back to their own beds and, no matter how much we've coaxed or where we've moved Cody's bed, not one of the pups has slept on it. It seems it is Cody's bed now more than ever.

 

abfullfaceagain.jpgSoon after Abbey died all but two of the dogs moved into our room at night - when Cody died these two hold outs moved in, too. These moves were made on their own - they can pretty much sleep wherever they are comfortable, and each has had a night sleeping spot of their own choosing for years, no changes. Until now. I don't understand it, but I do feel the comfort of all of us together. Fortunately they are all quiet, good sleepers. Until first light.

 

There are more changes that we notice -
Hank is more watchful, more careful, Tux more loving, Sally happier;
We are, as always, a work in progress.
blsj.jpgblhem.jpghankblog.jpgtuxoct.jpg

(Left to right) Tux Sally Jasper Henry Emma Hank

 



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Tux Excavates, continued....

And on (and on, and on) he digs....
Tux is still at it!
labrynth.jpg
Excavating our meadow with focus and intent,
he continues to dig a labrynth of tunnels and bridges, holes and caves.
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His workday is not quite as long in the summer heat:
he begins early in the morning, digs until just before noon,
and then stops til evening time,
when he gets a few more digs in before bed.
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Emma oversees his work most mornings,
occassionally gettting buried in fresh dirt;
which, being a dog, she minds not at all.
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We have lost a few frisbees, kongtoys, tennis balls and the like in Tux's holes and caves,
only to have them re-appear in a newly dug opening a few days later.
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We often wonder if Tux is on the dig for buried treasure,
fully aware that HIS idea of treasure is
likely to be completely different from ours.
We once had an animal communicator tell us that Tux was digging channels to keep
Mt. Shasta's energy flowing freely to our home.
Whatever his intent, we are so grateful to share in his happy, purposeful life.
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(the view from Tux's dig, early evening)



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Cody

Cody died today(6/17/10),
he took off this morning, on a blue sky day......
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Cody loved life with a gentle fierceness that I could almost touch.
With the exception of my Dad,
I have never known a being more committed to being happy.
To finding the light in every single moment.

 

Physically he was never strong, always a bit unsteady, off balance.....
spiritually his enduring strength and harmony were literally breathtaking.
Cody was never contained or limited by his physical self.
He was transcendant.
His spirit entered the room before his body and continued after.
We understood, from the beginning,
the honor that being able to care for him was.
Tending to him was a delight, a wonder......
Cody was truly a gift -
Of light and love, of knowledge and strength,
of courage and commitment,
of all that we have ever sought.

 

He was the mother of our pack.
Perhaps because he knew what it was like to be physically "less than",
he took great care with the puppies who came into our life and
tended Lucky, Rusty, and Abbey as their health diminished.

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He was friend and companion to all of us,
sharing his heart, his food, his bed, his toys, his joy, with any one of us,
2 and 4 footed alike, who were in need.

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He taught us so much - as Dogs do -
not by any one specific "action",
by simply being,
here with us, in his life.......Beautifully.

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Grief is like the ocean - it comes in waves,
and each wave, as it breaks over us all,
brings not only the missing, but also,
the warmth and delight,
of loving Cody.
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Thank You, Cody.
Forever.
Cody 11/6/99-6/17/10



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Emma Emerges

When Emma was a tiny puppy she learned to use the catdoor first,
the dogdoor was far too big a contraption for her.
On her first birthday she used the dogdoor for the first time and has used it ever since.
Once in awhile she will try the catdoor again:

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She has to work to pull her grown-up self through the small opening.
There is always a point at which it seems she will be stuck.
Once she has made it out, she turns and barks ferociously at the door,
as if it were a monster who's clutches she has narrowly escaped.
Living with dogs is endlessly entertaining.



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our (Dog)House

When folks learn we have
7, 8, 9, 12 dogs - however many are here at the time -
they most often ask "Are they indoor or outdoor dogs?"
To which I reply: "Indoors, on the bed, under the covers."
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We not only share life with the pups,
we share beds, couches, chairs, and floors.
Everything but the kitchen sink, actually.......
(and if they would learn how to wash dishes we would be
more than happy to share that with them!)



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Abbey.......

Abbey died yesterday(3/30/10).
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She left us on Tuesday, when the moon was full.
She died with dignity and grace, in the loving arms of her family.....
she guided us through, as she has always done.
We miss her terribly and feel her here with us.
She was beautiful and brave, clever and funny, tender, loyal,
passionate, intelligent and strong. She wore her crown, as the
Queen of the Cove, perfectly, guiding us gently yet firmly,
and - tho Sally and Emma did not always think so - fairly.
These last years, as Abbey's physical self diminished
her spirit continued to grow,
encomapssing and accepting all that came her way;
she added vulnerablity to her many strengths.
All of us learned so much from Abbey - none more than my Dad,
whom Abbey, along with Hank, came to live with
shortly after my mom's death.
The depth of loving companionship they shared brought us all
joy, gratitude and peace.

abtodd.jpgWe are so much the better for having known, loved,
and been loved by, Abbey.
She was, (she is?), an extrordinary being
who graced us all with her presence.
As sadness threatens to overwhelm........
the loving and gratitude continue to grow.








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SNOW! and then some.....

henrysnow.jpgWe are buried in snow ~ 7 feet in three days!
The Pups, Todd, and I are blissfully snowed in ~ too much snow, too fast, for our truck+plow to handle, which is just fine with us. We are fortunate to have retained power through it all and, tho many trees and branches have fallen, they have missed the house, cars, dogs, and people.

We are having a grand time: Todd and I on snowshoes, which the dogs think are ridiculous, (of course dogs come equiped with four wheel drive, very clever!).
I love how Mother Nature focusses the mind and body: we have been shovelling, snowshoeing, playing, looking, seeing, shovelling some more, sitting by the fire,
all 10 of us, watching the snow fall......
simply being with what is:
SNOW! and then some.
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Sally watches, very carefully,
as Jasper swims through the snow after her pinecone,
(he found it and, after some negotiations that
involved A LOT of barking, brought it back to her).
NOTHING stops Tux from digging!snowdig.jpg
emsnow.jpg1 ft. of dog+7 feet of snow=oh dear
And when, on Friday, the sun came out
and the sky shined with blue,
this is what greeted us:
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Glorious! Truly.



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Happy New Year!

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Molly, (of Michigan), sits by the fire in perfect dogness and, as I look at her,
I can feel all the warmth of the season.
It's an internal, cozy time, full of wonder and possibilities.
Here's hoping your New Year dawns warm and bright,
and white!
Happy, Happy New Year.



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Petit Tom et le chat tendre

Animals and children have their own language.....
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.......they speak it best, together.



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SanFranciscoChronicle article!

This story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle a few weeks back,
we've had wonderful, heartfelt response. The dogs are very happy.
Click below and take a look!:

 

Shasta Cove offers sanctuary to dogs in need

 

 



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Dig Deeper

This is so far beyond digging - excavation is the only word for it. Tux began his project about three years ago. He has focus, sticks to a schedule, (mid morning to about 3; all weather except rain, snow is fine; breaks to help Jasper and Sally chase their frisbees), takes help when it is offered - most often Henry and Jasper, sometimes Emma, like to dig with him for awhile; and loves to show off what he has done! He will actually come find either Todd or I and insist we look at his day's work. Tux is so intent on this that I know he is heeding a higher calling than I can hear or see or understand,(as is so often true of dogs); I am grateful and glad that we have the space and the knowledge that allows him all the freedom he needs to dig. Deeply.

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with a little help from his friends:

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Abbey, even more....

at.jpgSomehow - perhaps a bit of magic is afoot - Abbey is still with us! We are grateful and loving and curious - as Abbey continues to lead the way. Tho more frail and blind, and often quite disoriented, her tail is up, her appetite is excellent, she wanders the meadow following scents only she can smell, barks at sounds only she can hear, greets us joyously each morning as we all awake, and continues to provide gentle lessons for us all on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. She finds her way through each day, and, as dogs do, helps us find ours.

(For more on Abbey's illnesses, scroll down to 'Abbey!' and 'Abbey near the end...')

 



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Henry and Tuxedo, at play

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They are relentless and wild with each other,
yet their play has never become anything more than FUN
for the participants and the onlookers, alike.
When they have worn themselves out, they go their seperate ways -
Tux to his various excavation projects and Henry to whatever stick needs chewing.
One of the best things about their play is Jasper and Sally's part in it:
tho they never enter in, knowing this is Tux and Henry's time,
they run in wide circles around these two, barking loudly,
as if they are the referees of Tux and Henry's playtime.



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Worth A Thousand Words......

This one speaks for itself......jaronlexiblog.jpg

 



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TUX!

 

It seems a good moment, this hot summer day, to think of Tuxedo flying through the snow a few months ago.
Tux is part black lab and part greyhound (or so we think); he is long and lean, runs like the wind and leaps like a gazelle.
Paula's words capture him perfectly.

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Tux!

The speed he flies with is strong, bold, ecstatic;
Gravity cannot contain him,
Nature rejoices at this dog's splendor,
The pure thrill that makes the wind dance.
Paula Hackett



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Thunderstorms!

We have had weeks of thunderstorms, with more to come. It has been a lively time on the Cove for our pups, one of fear and trembling, vigilance, and relief......and in Abbey's case: hard work!

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(Henry, Hank, Todd, and Emma find their place, as the thunder begins.)

Hank has never tolerated loud noises well and thunder is the worst for him. Though he has gotten a bit better over the years, he is an anxious and frightened thunderstormer. Through a long process we have learned he is best on medication, combined with gentle holding and loud cello music. And if we are able to anticipate the storm by an hour or two, that is better still. Emma has developed a fear of loud noises - every year she brings us a new facet to her personality - her 4th year it was fear of thunder, gunfire, etc. Her trembling lessens a bit if we sit with her and hold her tightly or let her nest into a pillow or blanket right next to, or often on top of, us.  Both Cody and Henry become very excited with each clap of thunder - they are not really frightened, tho very hyper and vigilant: noses to the air, eyes bright, waiting for the next one. As long as some part of us is touching some part of each of them, they are fine. After a 1/2 hour or so of vigilance they wear themselves out and fall asleep. If we loose our physical contact with either one of them, he awakens immediately and, again, becomes quite excited. Tuxedo does not like thunder at all and at the first sign, retreats quickly downstairs to bury himself in the puffy quilts of the guest room bed. When we go to check on him we can barely see him he has nested in so completely. As the storm progresses he will come upstairs and curl up next to us on our bed, trembling all the while. At the first hint of thunder, Jasper, literally flies (do his feet even touch the ground?) through the dog door and runs straight for the safety of his crate, where he stays, rather calmly, throughout. Sally becomes a bit anxious but as long as one of us is in her sights she will settle down, napping with one eye open in case we move. Abbey has a completely different response to thunder and lightning, or any kind of loud noise: she hurries out on the deck, nose to the air, ears back, tail tightly curled, and marches up and down, barking loudly until the noise subsides and her home is safe. We always thank her for keeping the thundergods at bay. Even in her illness and frailty she persists and succeeds in this wonderful endeavor. Protecting us all. Loudly.

One of the (MANY) things I love about dogs is that when the storm has passed and the thunder is gone, the residual effect is: 
tired dogs sleeping soundly. 
When they awake, all fear and trembling, hyper-vigilance and anxiety, is gone.
That was then, this is now.



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Two by Two

I was speaking with a friend today, wanting to say how everyday with our pups is filled to overflowing, and I freudian slipped:

"everyday with our dogs is filled to overglowing"

well, yes! 

 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

There is a wonderful thing that Sally and Jasper do as they chase and retrieve their sfrisbee2.jpg frisbees: knowing Jasper is not as adept at following his frisbee's flight, Sally watches each frisbee - we throw one for each of them - as it flies through the air, no matter if it is hers or Jasper's. And she pays attention to where each one lands. When Jasper cannot find his, Sally retrieves hers and then runs to his frisbee, whererever it may be, puts hers down, and stands by Jasper's, barking, until he comes and retrieves it. Then they both come running back to us, frisbees firmly in mouth, tails wagging wildly, and it all begins again.

 

sj.jpgThis is just one of the ways Sally & Jasper reference one and other throughout the day. Being brother and sister, they are connected beyond being part of the same pack. Despite having very different characters, Sally & Jasper share an underlying similarity in their way of being in the world and with one and other.
They experience their connection deeply and often.

 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

abhe1.jpgLast night Henry & Abbey curled up together - at one point they were almost embracing - it's so interesting to me because Abbey never liked to be cuddled or caressed - "no touching the queen!" - she liked to be petted, and played with the others, but always kept a physical distance, she'd sleep close to, but not touching........and now, often, I find her curled up with another - she and Tux were sleeping like spoons a few nights back. It is as if the others are protecting, holding, supporting her - which of course they've always done in their deference to her as the leader of the pack, and now it is more tangible - and, somehow bigger, deeper......and completely natural. I love how Abbey accepts their touching, their holding her, just as she does with Todd and I now - leaning into our caresses. There is such strength in her willingness to be vulnerable as her journey continues. 

Perhaps this is what she has stayed for.

Pretty Wonderful.

• • • • • • • • • •

More Soon!

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THE Inauguration!

Sunrise, 20 January, 2009, Washington DC
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(As I travelled to washington DC for THE inauguration I thought I would take particular notice and many pictures of the dogs I encountered.........well, there were none! A surprise, yes, and, of course, they were not allowed at the festivities - tho a few did make it to the concert and I found  a few more outside of the National Mall and it's immediate environs, all in all it was not a visible dog time. As I thought about this I suddenly knew why - it's not the rules (no dogs allowed) - it's that all our pups have been steadyily and joyfully holding the loving, open, bright and hopeful space for us, as is their way; now that we - the human beings - have arrived here where the dogs have been all along, they can stay home and take a long deserved, much needed rest. And that's where I envisioned them: curled up on every couch, chair, bed, snuggly rug, in front of fires and other sources of warmth, napping now that we have finally, finally stepped into the place they have been holding so vigilantly.....)
And what a place it is!  Who knew 2,000,000 people could be so polite, engaged, comforting, focussed, open hearted, willing, helpful, and hopeful?!? 
As all of us gathered, and joined hands and hearts, I felt myself carried, lifted, expanded, and grown by the energy of each and everyone of us,
collectively now -
     It was, and still is, extraordinary - exhilerating and calming, peaceful and exciting, familiar and brand new, all at the same time.
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 Upon reflection, I understand that this was one of the most meaningful (& there have been quite a few!) experiences of my life - the reality of, the renewed feeling of, connectedness between us all is so important - it is wonderful to feel this way on a large scale and not just in my own little life, as it has been for years - to understand that we are all really one and if we can keep our heads up and our hearts open - the very lessons the dogs teach us on a daily basis -  we can live into that. It's a very tall order - something to truly step up to - and that is what the past few days showed me:
We Can!
And now, we must continue......
why would we ever want to step down from this place again?
Everywhere I turned there were stories to bear witness to........Standing in front of the White House I saw a Buddhist monk, a tiny, bright man, absolutely beaming, beating a hand drum rhythmically, he had a sign that said only, 'No Violence' and he looked as if he is out there every day delivering his message to anyone and everyone. I thought what a purposeful life he must be having.........On  Martin Luther King's birthday (how perfect was the timing of that?!), when we went to give blood, the hospital donor center said they had the most donors ever - more even then on 9/11 - and almost all of them reported being there in honor of Martin Luther King, as Barack Obama had asked..........Then there were the countless older folk who I saw struggling with walking, standing and the cold, but so determined to be witness to this, they moved slowly and deliberatley, stopping often, making their way. Others always moved aside for them or slowed down and waited with them, took a hand and helped. I heard many say "Never in my lifetime did I think I would see this". Their courage and committment to be out in the world to stand in the presence of something  profound and deep was completely inspiring and moving.....................And the young faces - shining and hopeful and engaged - no phones to their ears or gameboys at their fingertips, no computers or texting, no earphones or ipods - just them, faces to the sky, eyes focussed, smiles glowing.........At the beginning of the parade from the Capitol steps in to the White House, after the Obamas and the Bidens had passed, came a lone, old bus - traveling slowly, only the driver in attendance, it was unadorned, much like the riderless horse of a funeral procession, and silent as it passed - the Rosa Parks bus, moving reverently as it honored the courage and dignity of all who struggled, sacrificed and believed. The crowd was almost silent, standing in respect, breathing as one, tears falling.......the moment quite literally took my breath away.....
I could go on and on.......and then to find all of this beauty, depth, engagement, brightness and comittment met in equal measure by the fact of the man who just became our new president  moves me to tears, and goes so much deeper than that.
I feel us all, collectively, raising our heads and hearts - relaxing our shoulders, unclenching our fists and jaws - and rising, opening up and out, to a new day - truly - being once again able to take a deep breath and let go of the anger, the pain, the fear and the utter frustration we have lived with for so long now.
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This has ben a long time coming......and we have a long way to go.
Finally, now, we can all work together to get there......



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Abbey near the end....

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Abbey has been quite ill since last night and I think she may be dying.

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She is at the vet's right now - more to see if there is anything we can do to ease her into what is coming, then with any idea of 'saving' her......tho I am holding onto a shred of hope as I sit here in tears........I know she has been terminally ill, for a long time now, weaker, more frail, blinder with each passing week - and yet,  she has been so with us, so present, so here, so Abbey! that I find it more difficult than ever to think of her not being here. I can't quite imagine it..........nor do I want to.                                                          abbeyhenry.jpg    

It has been a lesson and a blessing to witness as Abbey accepts and encompasses all that has come her way - it has in no way lessened her, it has made her more - all of Abbey has been with us now: the strong and the weak, the sightful and the blind, the loving and the loved - she has allowed us to give to her, she has been able to surrender to our loving in a way she could not do before. It has been wonderful to feel her melt into our gentle caresses; watch her let the other pups sleep up against her, warming her and holding her in place; see her sleeping soundly on the daybed by the windows while Hank, and sometimes, Tux, right next to her, keep the careful watch now.

And, at the same time, her strength, her dignity, her wisdom are intact and with us, too - she leads and frolics - with a gleeful, young Abbey wonder, and the careful, old Abbey body - she barks and laughs and orders us all about - and she carefully walks the perimeter of our (her!) 3 acre enclosure at least once a day to check on her domain.....abbey3.jpg

 

                                                 more soon......              


 

 

 

 

....WOW.....Abbey has come home and has eaten a good dinner, gone out and checked the perimeter, and is now sound alseep at my feet. She is ok.....for the moment. We will take the moment. It's all any of us have anyway. The vet said he cannot believe how well she is doing for how ill she is, her blood work is actually good.........she has Cushing's disease and an adrenal tumor which is perhaps malignant and is pushing in on her heart.....this we have known for a year......and yet, here she is, with us......once again I am sure that there is some(thing)(one) at work here that is not known to me, but perhaps to Abbey. She reminds me of Dad in the last year of his life, preparing us all for his death - or at least those of us who were willing to look and see and feel with him.........to take each step as it came. It's Abbey's acceptance of her life as it comes near to death that shows us how to really live.

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I witness Abbey's journey and begin to understand my own.

 

 



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The Pups Celebrate

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Christmas Day was snowy for all of us and the pups took full advantage of it - they became, as is their way, the tangible aspect of Joy and Celebration - they frolicked and played and laughed and danced and leapt and ran and chased and cheered and retrieved and dug and occasionally, simply sat and watched................as snow fell and life progressed on Christmas jasper.jpgDay in Mount Shasta.
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It was wonderful, perfect, fun, inspiring........ and completely contagious, as we experienced the joy of it all - the day,codybp.jpg the snow, the season, and one & other - with them.....
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If Joy lives it as a Dog.



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Sharing

How perfect that once again the pups show the way through the season - a celebration of giving and receiving - sharing. They live this constantly, no matter the season - it is a way of life for them.

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As Abbey has become more frail, Hank keeps a careful eye on her - never letting her far out of his sight. When she awakens and wants to go out, he is always there, waiting fro her lead, following her at a distance, standing quietly and watching her whenever she stops, if she falters or seems confused he comes gently to her side and shows her the way - all of this done in the most discreet manner, so as not to take from Queen Abbey's dignity or having her think she is being told what to do (never a good idea with Abbey). At night, when Todd awakens to go out with her, he always finds Hank there waiting to accompany them. As Abbey moves around the house Hank's eyes are never far from her and they often lie together on the daybed - Abbey deeply sleeping, Hank keeping watch. Hank seems to know, instinctively, that Abbey now needs his help. He is returning what Abbey spent a life time doing for him - taking care, keeping careful watch, leading the way. Abbey was never as discreet as Hank is, tho - she always let it be known she was at the helm. Hank seems  to know that quietly, discreetly is the only way Abbey could receive his help. They are bookends, Hank and Abbey, always in relationship to one and other, completing each other. I have concern for Hank - (as I do for all of us) - when Abbey leaves us.



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Coming Home

The best part of coming home is Todd's gentle strength encircling me after I get off the airplane, the other best part is the greeting each of our 8 pups gives me upon my return - each one different, but the same in context - they act as tho they thought they would never see me again......Emma is the first as she leaps fully into my arms - (the advantage of being the littlest one) - and covers every inch of my face with kisses; Henry, in all his joyful exuberance throws himself at me, his mouth searching for my hand to hold - we settle on my wrist so that my fingers are free to touch, pet, scratch,hold the others; Sally is too excited - which is her way - her wagging tail winds her whole body up and she propels herself sideways full of wiggles and wags until she becomes only black and white motion depicting true joy; Jasper stands silently behind me, his tail wagging well and his nose buried in the back of my kneee - making sure I am me; Abbey insists I come down to her for many sweet kisses and a big hug. I, of course, oblige. Afterwards, with a growl and few barks she lets the others know she thinks they are being a bit unruly - they all try to obey her, and fail, and Abbey, her nose firmly in the air, backs off to observe; Hank is sitting quietly by my side throughout, giving my ear gentle kisses, as tho he is whispering sweet nothings to me; Tux is literally hopping with joy - all 4 feet off the floor at once - his little tiny nub of a tail wagging up a storm that belies it's size as he gives out little yelps of joy; Cody is sitting at full alert, waiting to find a clear space - (he always takes great care to protect his fragile body) - his tale thumping on the floor, his smile encompassing us all. Abbey insists a spot  be made for him, and the other dogs know to obey this time. Cody finds his way to me and does not leave my side for the rest of the night. During their greeting I am returning the joy in kind - hopping and hugging, petting and scratching, wagging my own tail, laughing and smiling out loud, yelping with glee at the sight and touch of each one of them. As always: working on matching these pups' joyful love of life, me, the moment, our home, each other, themselves........AND their fearless ability to show and share this love. Wow. Why on earth do I ever leave?!?

(Scroll down for more dogblog)



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Ellie of Michigan!

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I am in far Northern Michigan, visiting the latest addition to our extended dog family - Ellie is a very young black lab mix - perhaps part Australian shepherd?. She is lively and deeply loving, smart and bright, playful, mischevious, and completely happy to be. Ellie is a rescue dog - but, as always, the question is 'who is really rescuing whom?'. Watching Miss Ellie, I am struck, once again, how completely dogs are able to be with, and to give of, themselves. The unconditional love they offer is tranformative - if we can allow ourselves to accept it. Truly. Accepting this love, the joy, the depths they offer us requires us to look deeply and surrender fully - letting go of all the protective coatings we have accumulated......and it requires a responsiblity to return in kind. If we follow the thread of their loving we find it is a circle, giving and receiving sharing equal importance. The gift is that the dogs of our life not only bring us themselves, they bring us ourselves.

 ellieblog1.jpgMiss Ellie kayaks with Cynthia - it is not something anyone taught her. When Cynthia got her kayak, on their first outing, Ellie climbed right in and sat, still and watchful, throughout. She has not missed an outing since. 

(scroll down for more dogblog)



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The Kissing Place

abbeyskissingspot.jpg I've been thinking how dogs have that perfect kissing space right between their eyes and down there noses a bit - the bridge of their nose? - it just fits my lips and receives them so well. Plus you can give ear scratches at the same time. Very clever whoever built these pups!

In these last few months, as illness has caused her to loose weight, Abbey's kissing spot - the perfectly upside down V between her eyes - has become more defined and more kissable. As has she.

(Scroll down for Abbey and the Monks.)

 

 




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Buddhist Monks with Abbey


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Reverend Master Jisho and Reverend Berthtold, monks from Shasta Abbey, a Buddhist Monastery not far from us, came over last Thursday and performed a ceremony with Abbey. It was wonderful: comforting, loving, peaceful. I highly recommend Monks in the house! As life would have it, completely serendipitously, the Reverend Berthtold was the monk who had found Abbey when she was a tiny puppy. Perfect. Of course. The ceremony, an Animal Naming Ceremony, is where Abbey is given her Buddhist name and takes the Three Treasures Precepts. She is then encouraged to awaken the mind of selfless giving (which, of course is dog mind).
This ceremony helps to ease and comfort Abbey as she prepares to leave us. Abbey was completely engaged with the monks, very present for her ceremony,and has been quite lively since. We are grateful for every day she is with us. It was so kind of the monks to come to her. Being the Alpha Girl, and in declining health and comfort, she is uneasy when parted from her pack. When the ceremony was completed Abbey took a big nap - but not before strutting across the deck, tail up and curled, nose to the sky, barking at the mountain, - while the monks and the rest of us visited with all the other dogs, drank green tea and ate freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

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Cody relaxes well.....

cody.jpgCody has had MANY challenges in his life - relaxing is NOT one of them. He completely surrenders himself when he lays down to rest. It is such a peaceful, lovely, and a bit comical thing to see. For much of his life sleep was the only time he could find comfort - he took to it well. For a long time, in his deepest healing, when we weren't even sure he would make it, he would take himself out into the meadow and try to walk, then stop and rest, relax, fall asleep, awaken and try again. Sometimes he made it only 100 feet or so before he had to come in for the day. Pacing himself worked for Cody, he eventually retained use of all his legs in equal measure and made it completely around the fenced in perimeter of the meadow - his gait is funny, odd even, but who cares?! - he is walking and running. And, on special occassions, even jumping! Another lesson learned well from the pups - taking time as we need it to just be.......relaxing doesn't come as easyily to me as it does to Cody, (or Hank, or Abbey, or Tux or Emma or Jasper or Henry,or even Sally), but I am getting there.



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13 things I know now

13 things I have learned living with dogs:

1. Dance before dinner!

2. Snuggle well.

3. Nap often, sleep soundly.

4. Frolic joyfully in new snow.

5. All there is is right here, right now.

6. Play endlessly and with total committment.

7. Don't go out in the noonday sun.

8. Watch carefully, listen intently.

9. Keep well hydrated.

10. Bark loudly or don't bark at all.

11.Howl at the full moon.

12.Cover those you love in kisses.

13. Anyone who does not believe dogs are capable of reason and emotion, logical thought and brilliance, has simply not lived WITH a dog.....or 2 or 3 or 8.



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Abbey!

I have been spending a lot of time with Abbey - more so than usual as I am not sure how much longer she will be with us. She has been quite ill this last year - diagnosed in the Spring with Cushings Disease, various bouts of pancreatitis which have worn her down, an adrenal tumor found this summer, and - as if all that were not enough! - she has been going blind these past 6 months. Her Cushings Disease is managed well at the moment - tho it is, of course, a chronic and terminal disease, her adrenal tumor is untreatable - too risky at her age & health, and her blindness is now complete. And in this moment - (which, Abbey knows better than I, is all we have) - she is actually, almost, perky. She accompanied the other pups and me out when we went to play - she did not play, but she referee'd and then lay in the sun and kept a careful eye on us all.

I often think how we live under the watchful gaze of the Mountain - it is visible from every room of our home and every part of our property - and I can feel it's beauty and strength guiding us through all our days......I have the same feeling about Abbey - we live under her careful watch. She is our Alpha Girl and she has guided us well. I wonder if part of the reason she is still here is her wondering who will take over as Queen.....and how will we be without her (almost always) gentle guidance? Hmmmmm......I can't imagine Sally or Emma rising to the occasion, tho they both want to be boss - and can be quite bossy! - they definetely don't have the responsible, knowledgeable nature, and big picture vision, it takes to care for the pack. They are princesses, the both of them, and well suited to that. It is interesting, even in Abbey's decline, the respect she is shown, still, by all the others - she is treated with dignity and her 'word' is still law. Her physical self may be diminishing, but her spirit absolutely has not. That is what I feel when I am with her....I can feel the young Abbey right there with the old girl.

Now that Abbey is completely blind, etiher Todd or I have been getting up in the middle of the night with her - she needs our guiding hand to get herself outside and down the deck stairs when she has to go. As I am going to bed and setting my alarm clock for a few hours later I am often tired and overwhelmed with it all. Later, as Abbey and I go out, I find myself feeling such gratitude at being able to care for her. To return in kind the gentle, careful loving she has given us over the years. While I wait for Abbey, I gaze up to the sky and see the stars, I listen to the night's silence, and, as I put my hand on Abbey to help her find her way - I feel completely peaceful and I know I am exactly where I want to be. it is a wonderful feeling.

In the last year of my Dad's life, when I was often overwhelmed and fearful, exhausted and sad, I would find - through being with him - the same feeling and I would rejoice in the life I have chosen.



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first, Gratitude

As I work and re-work, add to, & subtract from, our website, I find myself looking ever more closely at the dogs in my life......and understanding, truly, that they are the tangible aspect of all the loving, the abundance, the beauty, and the fun that I have had the good fortune to find in this life. And, as I begin this blog, along comes Sally with a frisbee in her mouth and a wild smile in her eyes.......it is time to play!

More Soon.



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There are love dogs no one knows the name of.  Give your life to be one of them. - Rumi