It’s a Tuesday night and we’re off to dinner with friends on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. I’ve had a horribly busy weekend and I’m tired. I got up early today to do a transport for dog rescue. The pup is an adorable and horribly misunderstood chihuahua who now has a second chance at a Canadian Rescue.

For as good as I feel about the transport I’m brought down by fatigue. I come home and try to nap for an uneventful hour before I get up and shower.

As we drive across the border I confess to Brent that I’m exhausted. Too tired for this adventure, but since we’re already on the move I’m game. He confesses that he’s tired too, but very excited about the prospects of dinner on the town. We rarely go out for meals. It’s a bit of challenge to afford the farm, so we limit our spending. It’s worth every chicken dinner in.

We arrive at the restaurant and see our friends through the window seated at a table. The place is small with lots of home art on the walls and I’m instantly taken. I feel energized as I walk to the table and am welcome with smiles and delight. Ah… to be accepted.

It feels good to be in a mix of family and friends with everyone talking at once and holding several different conversation. The restaurant is small, cozy with fantastic food. I couldn’t ask for a better venue or better friends.

I wish I would have spent more time on Elmwood as a young adult. It might have made a difference.

The end part is my favorite with Lynn telling childhood stories. I’m delighted with her generational tales that seems to transcend time. Perhaps I cling greedily to her words seeking my own comfort, but Lynn is so generous she doesn’t mind me soaking up her positive energy.

This is a woman who has found herself and is accepted into her community and her family. She’s the one who gave me the wonderful words of comfort when I lost my Gizmo. Lynn said Gizmo was so happy running he didn’t realize he’d run straight into heaven. Her words help to heal.

I look forward to my visits with Lynn with an enthusiasm that is a dim reflection of my youth with horses. Don’t be offended Lynn, horses were my salvation. Don’t be intimidated either, I don’t expect you to be my salvation. I would never expect that of one person.

I am grateful to have these friends and family and I want to say thank you. When I came home that night I heard some sad country songs that reminded me of my Gizmo and had a good cry before Jax began some wonderful antics and drew me out of my grief.

I poured a glass of red wine and sat on the floor and listened to by puppies snore for a little bit before retiring to the comfort of my bed. Thank you friends. Thank you family. Thank you puppies. I’m a lucky person. 
I look forward to my next meeting with the gang from number eight. I just hope Bella can make it this time. 

Mud Taz

It has been raining for days and the ground is saturated with ankle deep puddles that wreak havoc on regular shoes. Rubber boots are in order at the farm. Super Taz Adventure Puppy loves the bad weather and has no problem splashing through huge mud puddles and then dashing into the house and jumping on the leather couch. At least I can wipe it off.

There was a five minute reprieve of rain where the sun came out and I sat outside reading the flyers.  I saw Taz out of the corner of my eye running at mock five diving head first into the puddles and racing through the mud. She ran back and forth across these banks of mud puddles for several minutes while I watched, laughed and soaking up a few rays of sunshine.

When I brought her into the house she looked like I’d coated her belly with chocolate pudding. She was coated with thick wet mud and was quite proud of herself.

I pick her eight pound body up and the first thing I noticed was she was shivering from being cold and wet, but the second thing I couldn’t help noticing was the mud oozing out from between my fingers. It was that thick.

She looked something like this:

This is a puppy story written for a little girl who’s mom is a co-worker and told me that her daughter is always asking if there are more “puppy stories” on the computer. Maybe I should put a book together that could be read as bedtime stories about puppies and horses and pigs. I wonder if anyone would like that?

Walking the Dogs

It’s my last day off before I have to spend twelve hours out of twenty-four at work away from my four legged family for five days, so I wanted to spend as much time I can with my kids (and Brent, but he’s working).

We started off the day with grooming and baths for everyone. Jax still has a smell about him from being so dirty for so long, so he gets a bath but no trimming. Often my grooming skills are questionable resulting in some unusual pompadours, however Poco and Taz turn out particular lovely this time.

After bath time there is a brief rest period and then a game of  fetch. Everyone racing across the living room floor and smashing into the wall, table legs or couches. Great fun and lots of giggles and barking.

I needed to grab a few things from the grocery story, so I decided to go to the little village of Ridgeway where the locally owned grocery store is right beside the Friendship Trail.

The Friendship Trail is many miles long and runs through country and city venues. If I head west I have at least three miles before I see a stop sign or cars. It’s through farmers fields and swamps where the sumac grows wild across the trail.

Once I’m away from the main road I let Taz and Jax off leash. Taz is a very good listener and Jax sticks close by the gang. Jax is just starting to get comfortable with going for a walk and he shies away from the leash. In hopes of making the idea of walks fun I let him play as free as I feel is safe.

Through the process of emancipation Jax has learned important commands like: come and wait. If I call “Jax come” he comes running at me like his tail is on fire with his too big tongue is sticking out of his too small mouth. He looks like the definition of Joy.

Poco has to stay on leash. Should he see anything with a fuzzy tail he’s off and there’s no way to stop him. It’s too dangerous. It’s not safe, but with the use of extend-a-leash he has a lot of space to play.

As we’re walking down the partially overgrown path Jax stops to play tug of war with an obviously dangerous piece of ragweed. He manages to wrestle it to the ground and chew on it for a few seconds. He gives his prey a quick nip and bark before running towards me with his tongue out and his ears flapping in the wind. I’ve never seen a pup look so happy.

Jax runs past me and attempts to bump directly into Taz, but she sees it coming and side steps leaving Jax confused and sitting on his rump in the grass until I come up beside him and give him an encouraging pat. He wiggles in delight and runs next to Taz as though they are best friends.

Poco feels the need to intervene at this point and breaks up any unnecessary fun. Big brother type antics.

I was laughing. I was laughing out loud as I walked alone down the friendship trail. Well, not completely alone. I have my puppies.

It’s almost dinner time and I’m surrounded by my little pups. Taz on my lap, Jax by my leg and Poco on guard beside my couch on the floor. We are a lovely and happy family.

Farm – October 2011.

There was a beautiful day at the beginning of October and all my animals were in a less than one acre paddock together. Two pigs, two ducks, two goats and one horse all pleasantly sharing a small space. They all got along. They were happy together and it made me smile. This is when I first saw a picture of Jax.

There are so many articles stating you can’t house pigs with anything, especially horses. If all these different animals can get along… why can’t we? Watching all the struggles of the human world I wonder how these guys can make it work, but the rest of the world can’t manage to find a peaceful solution?

There was a brief adjustment period when I brought Jax home, but after a few growls and some chasing within a day they had it worked out. Jax is the baby, while Taz and Poco are more mature and own all the toys. However, they let Jax play with the toys anytime he wants and he often takes the toys right out of their mouth. Okay… maybe the toys belong to the baby too.

I managed to capture this moment on video. I am delighted with my four legged family.

Jackson “Jax” Bear

I first saw his picture on petfinder on October 2, 2011 exactly two months since Gizmo died. The irony is not lost on me. I had a visceral response when I saw the black and white shih tzu named Grover. I closed the internet page and decided it wasn’t time to adopt a new dog.

By October 5th his picture was haunting my dreams. I thought about him steady. It bothered me. I asked for advice from friends and was told to follow my heart. Brent said to apply and see what happened. Just because we apply doesn’t mean we’ll get the dog. A little heart and a little fate went into my application.

On October 6th in the late afternoon I got a call from Ohio. If you want the dog come and get him and bring cash. No vet check. No interview. No home visit. Shaggy Dog Rescue was ready to give me Grover.

I told Brent about it and he said “we’re going to get him”. It was that simple. I worked nights on Thursday and by 8am Friday morning Brent and I were driving the volkswagon towards Ohio on a wonderful puppy rescue road trip.

We talk about our dreams and goals. We talked about how life has changed and how we’ve had to re-adjust our views. We talked about the future and avoided talking about this pup until we hit Mentor, Ohio.

Mentor is where I picked up Gizmo. We drove right past the exit and I couldn’t help but cry a little thinking of my little dude. I miss him so much. The tears landed on Taz’s soft baby blonde hair and she looked up at me with love. I gave her a gentle hug and stared out the window for a while. A good friend recently told me that Gizmo was having so much fun running that he didn’t realize he’d run right into heaven without a second thought. It really is a typical Gizmo thing to do something wonderful without really thinking too much about it.

We kept driving south for another hour until we reached Canton, Ohio where we got off the highway. The woman in charge of the rescue (Judy) asked if we could pick up some vaccines for her at the local feed store six miles away. Her car was stolen a month ago and she had no way to pick them up. A tray of 25 5-way puppy shots for $80 was part of my adoption fee.

We called Judy as we left the feed store and headed back into Canton. Brent and I were both quiet on the ride to her house to pick up Grover.

She told us to knock on the side door and she’d meet us at the front door with the dog. It took about ten minutes after we knocked for her to meet us out front with papers under one arm and Grover under the other. She said she had trouble catching him because he was playing.

When the front door opened the smell was horrific. Grover was a mess of black that turned out to be a mix of dirt, urine and feces caked on his feet, face and belly. His white patches were yellow with angry red patches of urine burn on his tender skin. He smelled so badly that Taz and Poco wouldn’t go near him. Brent and I were speechless as we took the seven pound shih tzu out from under the fleshy arm of Judy.

She gave us syringes filled with wormer and revolution that we were to administer at different times. She said her photocopier no longer worked, so she could only give us a bit of paperwork. She assured us he was neutered July 2011 and was given a rabies shot at that time.

Brent and I left with Taz and Poco in the front seat and Grover in the back seat. Even with the windows down the smell was horrific. We drove five miles and stopped at the closest PetSmart where we begged them to groom Grover. They were wonderful and promised to have our puppy smelling better within the hour. It was the best forty-five dollars I’ve ever spent at PetSmart. Thank you to those groomers who did the last minute job of cleaning up our new pup.

After leaving Grover in the arms of a caring groomer at PetSmart our next stop was to Target to buy a cooler for our cold stuff and a new tee shirt. The one I was wearing when we picked up Grover smelled horrible and was covered with brown and black stains. I changed beside the car then we walked to the closest eatery to wait for our stinky boy to get de-stinked.

We wandered over to a pub with an outdoor patio, but they wouldn’t let us sit with the dogs, so we crossed the street and ate outside at the tables at Burger King. It was gross, but we were hungry and nervous, so we ate.

We returned to PetSmart and our puppy was clipped and cleaner, but still had a smell. They offered pet perfume, but we decided that would be too many competing smells. He slept quietly while Taz watched for the long drive home.

Brent and I were quiet for a long time and when we did finally start talking I realized he was angry. He was angry that Shaggy Dog called themselves a rescue. He was angry that a rescue would not provide basic grooming and general care.

I believe Judy was doing the best she could with little money. Unfortunately, Ohio has a huge number of puppy mills and dogs get turned in constantly. She told us there were twenty dogs turned in with Grover. Nineteen males and one female that the breeder was finished with and dumped at the local humane society who called Shaggy Dog Rescue to help. Overwhelmed and still trying to help Judy had a tough job. Her best wasn’t our best, but she was trying to save the dogs. Without her, Grover would have been euthanized with a week, but she bought him time and then gave him a chance. Grover had been staying with Judy and up for adoption since July.

It’s interesting to think that Gizmo was still alive when Grover went up for adoption. It’s amazing that nobody snapped this little darling up. Fate? Was Grover waiting for us? Was he willing to wait a little longer to come and convalesce at the farm? Was Grover really sent by Gizmo?

I’m grateful Judy gave Grover some time to find his forever home. She pointed out that Grover had two letters tattooed on his ear: “JB” could clearly be seen on the inside of his left ear flap. We don’t usually re-name dogs, but Grover didn’t recognize his name and we wanted to find something that matched the initals.

We thought about Joe Packer when we thought the JB was a JP. We considered Cleveland, Ohio, Lambeau, Akron and Puppy. We were in New York State when I thought of Jax or Jackson. It started with a J and we could add Bear as a middle name. Taz has four names why shouldn’t Jax have two?

Jackson “Jax” Bear became our puppy on October 7, 2011 on the eastern edge of New York State. We got back to the farm at 9pm that night where Jax immediately started playing with plush toys and peed outside. We were so proud.

We had plans at the beach with friends, so we packed up our turkey and headed to the beach where our friends were waiting. Jax was awesome. He traveled well and made himself at home at the beach.

On Saturday I was on the kitchen floor playing with Jax and asked Brent if it was too soon to be in love with this pup. Brent laughed and said I was in love the first time I saw his picture and read his story. I smiled knowing he was right.

It hasn’t been a week and we feel like Jax has been apart of our lives for years rather than days. He’s fit in and started to fill out. He doesn’t have much muscle, but it won’t take much time to get this boy in shape the way he follows his big sister and adventurer: Super Tazil Puppy Dog.

Poco still isn’t sure, but the baby isn’t intimidated. He even barked at Poco for playing too rough with the toys. They had a brief game of chase in the rain after work tonight and I see these boys becoming not only best pals, but brothers.

We aren’t looking to fill the hole in our hearts that Gizmo left behind, but we are looking to ease our grieve by helping another pup find a new life. We’re helping each other.

After a second bath and trimming off his dirty beard his whites are whiter and he now smells like a healthy dog. Jax is younger than we thought at just a year old and has breathed new life into the old farm.

New Re-Birthday: October 7, 2011 since we don’t know his actual birthday. He is one year old on re-birthday this year. Welcome to the farm and thank you Jackson Bear.

Video Blog: A day in the life

When I woke up this morning at the farm it was overcast and raining. There was a brief reprieve where I went out and cared for all the farm animals. The mud is getting thick in some places and I’m glad I had my rubber boots on:

Taz and Poco were inside trying to find ways to blow off some steam. Wouldn’t you know that the smallest dog chose the biggest stuffed toy to beat up. Do you think she had big dog syndrome? Poco chose a smaller toy with no stuffing and lots of squeakers that he could easily thrash around. 
Taz vs Reindeer

Poco vs bunny 
Taz tried to go outside on cat patrol, but was quickly deterred by a chill bout of rain. The cats ran for cover and Taz ran for the house. The cat in the video below is from the feral cat society of Toronto and has been at the farm for about three years now. He is a ragdoll who was discovered at a cat colony in downtown Toronto and made his way to the farm. I wormed him this year by putting wormer in a pile of tuna and leaving it for him in the field. I hid around the side of the barn and watched him eat it and gave myself a high five. 
By now I’d had enough of the chilly rain and decided to head to the beach and see if the weather was any different. Was I in for a shock! The dogs were delighted as they ran down the beach
Taz even got so warm she took a dip and lay down in the lake. Who knew the beach would be so hot in October. In Canada! 
Meanwhile, across the street Brent is doing a little leveling with his favorite toy. 
Later on we had a fire on the beach. 
This is my first video blog and I hope it’s enjoyable! Now, the dogs are climbing my leg for another beach walk, so I’ve got to go and you should too. Get out there and take your pup for a walk before it snows. Remember this from Winter 2010?? 
How to end the day… Beach Fetch!