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Posts Tagged ‘Dogs’

April showers are nourishing all the perennials we just planted, but if you are a migratory bird looking to nest in Florida, you’d be plain out of luck. Wading birds like egrets and herons depend on fresh, clean water from rivers meeting the sea in estuaries on our coasts for their food supply, and scientists have been putting on waders to count their nests this time of year. Considering Mr T’s deep cuts to the EPA, this Audubon report is troubling:

The latest South Florida Wading Bird Report, which was published last week, offers signs of trouble for the birds and the places they live. During this nesting season, which ran from December 2015 to July 2016, surveyors were disappointed to find 26,676 nests total. That’s just one-third the number of nests tallied during 2009, one of the best nesting years in decades, and the lowest nest census since the 2007-2008 season. Of the indicator species, only two (Great Egrets and White Ibises) met their nest recovery goals. The only bird to show an above-average nesting season last year was the Roseate Spoonbill. http://www.audubon.org/news/floridas-wading-birds-had-terrible-breeding-season-last-year

We had a Great Blue Heron swoop over our Rumson garage every morning to fish in the Shrewsbury River. When you live so close to the ocean, you begin to notice the rise and fall of tidewater by the line of black silt on your Corgis’ short legs, which would sometimes cover their bellies. “Swamp Dogs” was our affectionate term for Toots and Blaze. My sister Kay was kind enough to immortalize that mother/son duo in a 1993 watercolor.

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But it’s the long, stilt-like legs of Great Egrets that are helping them navigate the rising seawater levels due to Climate Change.

And now we have a circus/barker/climate/denier as the Leader of the Free World who would like to dismantle and disrupt the federal government, and return power to “the states.” I’ve always wondered why Republicans even pursue public service when they hate it so much! If any of you are still wondering about the loss of Arctic ice or if keeping that house your aunt left you on the Jersey Shore is a good idea, take a look at Leonardo diCaprio’s interactive global temperature map. It looks like there may be a quarter of Rumson left after the flood. Seriously.

“Every fraction of a degree of global warming sets in motion sea level rise that will profoundly threaten coastal cities across the world,” explains Dr. Benjamin Strauss from Climate Central. “[Our map] shows the incredible stakes and urgency of our climate choices.”

https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-crisis/sea-level-rise/

Now that you’ve put in your city, and the visual has sunk in and maybe you’ve “woke up” think about these cuts to the federal budget. Keep calling your legislators people, dig out your Wellies (English for waders or rain boots), and start looking for higher ground while planning your retirement

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Things are springing up around our little house. Crocus are about to bloom, daffodil leaves are reaching for the sun, and temperatures have been hovering around 70. No bugs or humidity yet; “This is what California is like all the time,” I said to Bob in my most ingratiating tone of voice.

When we were living in New England, this time of year was called “Mud Season.” Snow was melting and everyone coveted a “mud” room, a place to ditch your dirty clothes and hats and gloves and boots before entering your house. The rest of the country might call this a back porch. But Berkshire sentimentality aside, I love seeing bluebirds playing on my deck. Spying a Tiffany-blue breast makes me want to break out in song!

Bob breaks out the tractor and the gardening tools. For him, this is pruning season. When we built this house we picked out every tree and shrub, which means we now must keep them from enveloping us entirely. My French friend looked us up on Google earth and said we must live in a forest, and she’s right. Our tract of land demands constant vigilance! A herd of deer trim our most succulent new growth all winter, and now it’s time for Bob to play his part.

The viburnum, the hydrangeas, the crepe myrtles! No one is immune to Bob’s pruning shears, loppers and hedge trimmers.

Ms Bean must do her part too. She refuses to come in when all the gardening work begins. She offers up a tiny dead field mouse to our back door, while Bob shows me an abandoned bird’s nest at the front door. These “gifts” are received calmly, while I check to see if anyone has taken up residence in the bluebird houses Great Grandpa Hudson put up years ago. Anyone that is, besides the flying squirrel who scared me half to death with her bulging black eyes!

But usually I prefer more indoor activities. The National Men’s Indoor Tennis championships have been taking place at our gym, so exciting matches are on the docket all the time. And when I’m not watching tennis, I was learning how to string and knot pearls this past weekend. It’s slightly meditative once you get the hang of it. It’s an escape from the news.

When a friend told me she and her husband were in a Jewish Community Center yesterday when a bomb threat was phoned in, I didn’t realize it was one of many seemingly coordinated around the country. And I wondered if the Love Bug’s preschool was shut down again for the third time since Mr T’s inauguration. And a knot formed in my stomach, the kind that’s always there whenever I try to suppress an emotion.

I wonder how a president who shouts down an orthodox reporter and scolds him for asking  a complex question about anti-semitism, only to bring up his polling numbers again and again can possibly protect this nation and heal our divided people.

Here is my second attempt at knots, with pearls and lapis – a “so-called” selfie/portrait with Bean and an old gardening broom in the background. img_0119

 

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It’s been three weeks. The new laundry room door just went up, the vents and smoke detectors are going up as I type, and the painters are touching up all over the place. It will be good to get our house back, but to be honest Ms Bean will miss the constant company. Granted she barks initially, but then she warms up and keeps track of everyone. My little, lazy, adorable mutt transforms into a real watchdog! She wakes every morning with a sense of purpose; sitting in front of the front hall windows and listening for the sound of trucks.

Poor baby, the contractors will be done today, just in time for the Fourth of July Fireworks. Anyone with a pup knows the sounds of summer can drive them to distraction – to hiding in bath tubs and even sometimes running away given half the chance. Great Grandma Ada told me about this article, which I had to read on my phone since I couldn’t find my computer.

By some estimates, at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most pronounced in the summer. Animal shelters report that their busiest day for taking in runaway dogs is July 5. Veterinarians tell of dogs who took refuge in hiding places so tight that they got stuck, who gnawed on door handles, who crashed through windows or raced into traffic — all desperate efforts to escape inexplicable collisions of noise and flashing light.                                          http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/why-thunder-and-fireworks-make-dogs-anxious/?_r=0

It was a rainy, stormy day when the Bride and Groom graduated from medical school. We had a few people staying in our newly built house, and the last one out must not have latched the door. Because when we returned several hours later, the kitchen door was wide open and Buddha Bear came strolling around the corner with an accusatory look in his eyes. As if he was saying, “Where have you guys been?”

He also managed to lock himself in our guest bathroom during a storm. I returned home and called his name so many times my throat was hoarse. Buddha wasn’t a barker. Before I started to panic and jump in my car thinking he must be able to walk through walls, I noticed the bathroom door was shut. He was so big, when he tried getting into the tub he must have accidentally shut the door and he was just waiting patiently for me to free him!

Ms Bean wasn’t anxious in thunderstorms before she watched Buddha’s behavior. Now, she becomes a twitchy, shaking mess stuck permanently to my knee. We stroll into the laundry room and I pull out a dryer sheet, the kind without any perfume. She looks at me longingly and submits to my hand stroking her whole body, head to tail, with the little piece of paper as her body relaxes. Long ago I read that a rubdown with a Bounce sheet would reduce the static electricity on her fur; and now I’m a believer.

I’m not a pill person, but of course in the NYTimes article above there is a new medicine for dog anxiety during storms and fireworks. I’d rather just go into a windowless room with my dryer sheet and comfort Ms Bean. After all, she’s been through alot these past three weeks. She already has to take a pill in order to ride in a car, so I don’t want a loopy puppy in the house all summer. Vets say it’s best to desensitize your dog to noise.

But carpenters hammering the basement ceiling under the floor of our living room was pretty strange, and not soon to be repeated. All the building noises are almost done, so relax Ms Bean for a little while. Your world is safe and secure. Time to get back to lying on the deck and watching for deer and vermin!

Hope y’all have a safe and Happy Fourth and a strees-free summer time with your fur babies! Here is Ms Bean in the Zen shade garden.IMG_4763

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Traveling with dogs can be tricky. Particularly when your dog is a rescue who starts gagging the moment you ask her if she wants to go for a ride.

We never had a dog who didn’t love jumping into any moving vehicle when invited for a ride. Buddha Bear would leap onto the Piper Arrow’s wing and happily sit beside Bob as his co-pilot! The Corgis always cuddled under the plane’s seats. So watching Ms Bean run away from the hanger and foam at the mouth while sitting in the back seat of my Honda was disturbing, and finally led us to the Vet for canine anti-nausea drugs.

But watching Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard apologize for bringing their dogs illegally into Australia was even more disturbing. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/18/johnny-depps-wife-amber-heard-pleads-guilty-over-bringing-dogs-to-australia

Yorkies “Pistol” and “Boo,” due to the last-minute sacking of one of Heard’s assistants, did not have all their proper doggie paperwork completed, which led Heard to outright lie on the immigration form as they landed in their private jet. Some excuses seem to work I guess, although I would caution anyone to check (YES) when asked if you are carrying animals into another country, certainly if you happen to have two terriers in mini-mesh-carry-ons. When threatened with deportation, death, or ten years in jail, eh quarantine, Heard and Depp agreed to film their apology.

Heard’s punishment, a one-month good behaviour bond of $1,000, was an anti-climactic end to a Hollywood clash with Canberra in an imbroglio dubbed the “war on terrier”.Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said the video, played to her Gold Coast court on Monday, was “of far more benefit to this country” as a warning to would-be illegal importers than any conviction recorded against Heard.

The scripted video that played in court looked as if some mind control expert had taken over the couple’s souls. Depp tells us to “Declare everything” at the end, as if only the truth will set you free! I kept looking at him thinking they must have to use more make-up to age his pirate persona since he seems to be getting younger. As part of their sentencing, the video has now become a viral sensation, and may get more views than Depp’s latest rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow. Maybe they could rename this next Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, “Dead Dogs Tell No Tales?”

As for us, on last month’s trip to NJ – her maiden voyage – Ms Bean did just fine with her pill onboard. She even got to play with a Jack Russell visiting from Arkansas. Now she runs toward the car when we ask if she wants to come along! And we may just have to pack her up and evacuate if the wind shifts and this Shenandoah wildfire starts moving in our direction. It has burned over 2,000 acres and the smoke is affecting my eyes and lungs. This was our view last night. IMG_4282

 

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jack-russell
Well we didn’t have a three dog night. In fact, NY and NJ are feeling somewhat slighted by the blizzard, while the Blue Ridge simply got a dusting. Ms Bean was snuggled tight in her little cave; her bed is under a credenza next to my side of the bed. Her snoring is my night music. I’m still waiting to rescue a Corgi so we can be a two dog family once again. But before I tell you about my matchmaking skills with a male Jack Russell dog named Mona, let’s go over why owning and loving a dog is good for our health.

The American Heart Association actually issued a statement saying that pet ownership, particularly dogs, is associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, and it can also increase your chance for survival after having a heart attack! http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Owning-a-Pet-May-Protect-You-from-Heart-Disease_UCM_453586_Article.jsp

…there are a variety of reasons that may be at work that influence this relationship. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.

I used to walk my first Corgi Tootsie Roll two miles every day, until one day we were approaching Rumson Road and she wanted to turn around. Every day she was cutting our walk in half! I told the vet she must be getting Alzheimer’s, but he said she was smart. She was getting older and I would have to accommodate. So I just walked the same mile twice; once with Toots and her son Blaze, and twice with Blaze. I called this my “meditative walk,” and it helped me think and prepare my mind for writing.

Little did I know it was also helping my heart. But who would have thought that rescuing a dog could open your heart to love? And I don’t just mean the furry kind.

While our family was vacationing in FL last week we got together with Meredith, an old Med School friend of the Bride and Groom. It just so happens she is a practicing Ob-Gyn in Tampa. The Love Bug played with her sweet son in the pool for hours, while Meredith did her best to sell the doctor couple on the pleasures of practicing medicine in the Sunshine State. And then I just had to ask, “How’s Mona?”

You see I feel personally responsible for Meredith’s marriage! One day long ago BC (before children) in med school, Meredith told me she wanted a dog. I accompanied her to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA and we found a little male Jack Russell, who was full of energy and a kissing machine. It was love at first lick! I would grand dog sit him when she had to do an away rotation and he got on splendidly with my crew. Little did I know that within a few months Meredith met her future husband at a dog park with his Jack Russell, and the rest is herstory!

Dogs are not only good for your heart, they are great for your love life! And Mona is still alive and kicking.

the Maid of Honor, the Bride, the MOB, and Merdith

the Maid of Honor, the Bride, the MOB, and Merdith

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Rainy day snooze in the aviary

Rainy day snooze in the aviary

I awoke to tiny, click/clack paws-on-wood-floors and thunder. Roaring mountainous thunder and more rain. It’s coming down in buckets, replete with lightening and it seems the cat and dog of the house do not like thunderstorms.

Mornings like these at Camp St Joseph for Girls meant we could sleep late. They were called Rip Van Winkle mornings! No bugle calls or flag raising, just hanging out in the cabin, playing jacks or pulling the covers up to finish a book by flashlight.

I had to stop reading my book, “The Dovekeepers” by Alice Hoffman last night. Not because I was too tired and the words were swimming on the page, but because I knew what was coming. And OK, so this book is about Masada, and we all know what was coming 2,000 years ago when the Jewish people held onto this fortress despite a drought and the onslaught of Roman soldiers.

No, Hoffman was about to tell me why the two young grandsons of one of the matriarchs in the book had lost their ability to speak. I already knew, the backstory was perfectly clear. But I just couldn’t let her language of blood lust and revenge be the departure point to my dreams. I needed a restful night. Maybe today I’ll pick up where I left off, if the sun would only show itself.

Last night one of my favorite literary prizes, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, was awarded to Aussie Richard Flanagan for “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”

Named after a famous Japanese book by the haiku poet Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is described by the 2014 judges as ‘a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it’. Questioning the meaning of heroism, the book explores what motivates acts of extreme cruelty and shows that perpetrators may be as much victims as those they abuse. Flanagan’s father, who died the day he finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was a survivor of the Burma Death Railway.
– See more at: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/winner-2014-man-booker-prize-fiction#sthash.duwYDC1W.dpuf

Another book about war, another exploration of man’s inhumanity. this time told from the point of view of a male surgeon working within the confines of a Japanese POW camp. How soon I wonder, will someone be telling the story of a disaffected British citizen who travels to Syria only to become the executioner and butcher of Westerners for Youtube? The cost of war is too high. I’m feeling overloaded with hate and vitriol from the news lately. It’s no wonder we Americans are addicted to cat videos.

Leave it to my favorite novelist/book store owner, Ann Patchett,  to recommend books for us on a wide array of subjects; for instance, Buddhism and nihilism? “A Tale for the Time Being is about Buddhism, nihilism, the second World War, bullying, physics, marriage, depression, and expectations — it is constantly pushing past the reader’s expectations.” As the editor of Parnassus’ scrumptious blog, Musing, so aptly put it –  “Is there anything better than finding the perfect book?” And particularly on a rainy hump day. If you happen to be in Nashville, her shop dogs could use a good pet! Happy reading! http://parnassusmusing.net/2014/09/30/notes-from-ann-frogs/

 

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There’s been much ado about something. The Director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigned, after being grilled by Congress and then skewered by the media. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/01/politics/secret-service-director-resigns/ How much did she know and when did she know it? These are always the two troubling questions surrounding Beltway Business.

We all watched President Roosevelt get shot and continue speaking during Ken Burns’ week, and some of us have lived through that horrific week in Dallas, watching President Kennedy’s motorcade again and again. Hoping beyond hope we’d wake from a nightmare. And then we had that close call with President Reagan.

We would all like to think our home is our castle, surrounded by an impenetrable symbolic moat. And the White House, why it must have many layers of defense – if not a real moat, fencing, dogs, Secret Service Agents patrolling the perimeter, right? Which is why of the series of bungles leading up to Pierson’s resignation, one breech seemed pretty lame.

I get that gunshots may have sounded like a car backfiring.

I could believe that a security guard might slip into an elevator with POTUS

And how many people have jumped the White House fence? 16 people over the last five years!

But the guard dogs. Now that was my last straw; not the elevator or the fence jumper. It was rumored that there was an incident with one of the highly trained attack dogs and our First Family’s dog, Beau. Supposedly the dogs were not patrolling because somebody asked that they be muzzled and kept in a certain area…Now I would agree that Beau should be the top dog IN the White House. But outside, in the Rose Garden and on the vast Lawn, that should be the K9 moat. Keep Beau on a leash, or make a secure run for him on a side portico – allow the guard dogs to work! Release the hounds!

Our guard dog has her work cut out for her. The mountain manse has been invaded by an attack cat, the lovely Ms Uli! Ms Bean is being hunted by tabletops and by windowsills, it’s a virtual Serengeti in here. And we’re doing what every normal pet owner knows to do, we’re letting them duke it out. Eventually, one or the other will become top dog/cat, and that will be that. I’m betting on my pretty little Grandcat, who thinks she’s a tiger in her mind.  IMG_1187

 

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