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Out In The Cold

Texas weather has a reputation for being bipolar. The sun shines and all seems perfect, but by the time you get dressed and open the door to go outside, hail plummets from the black sky and a tornado comes roaring down on you. Okay, so maybe not that extreme, but this past week illustrates the fluctuation of Texas weather perfectly.

Early last week, the weather was pleasantly mild. The dogs even had a blast chasing bunnies and playing outside while I caught up on some yard work. By late Thursday, however, the weather people predicted that we would have snow. Snow! Yeah! We haven’t had proper snow in years…2010 to be exact. The neighborhood kids would get a snow day, traffic would be light on my way to work and Grimm and Rufus could experience the cold, pure flakes of frost for the first time.

The weather forecasters were correct in saying we would get frozen precipitation, but wrong in leading us to believe it would be snow. Instead of white, fluffy flakes we got hard, crunchy ice. Yes, technically it was still frozen precipitation, but ice and snow are not the same thing. For one, you don’t usually slip and bust your bottom while walking on snow covered ground. Ice covered ground, however, leads to lots of slipping and cursing and muscle pulls and cursing and falling and cursing and then bruises…in that order. Even though hard pellets of sleet and ice were falling from the sky, I was determined to make allow Grimm and Rufus to experience the joys of frozen precipitation for the first time.

"I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun...this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!"

“I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun…this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!”

 

Both dogs were tremendously excited at first when their jackets came out. They suited up, I opened the back door onto the porch, they bolted out and promptly slid and crashed into the rear portion of the deck. Both dogs started trying to stand and continued to slip. They looked a little bit bewildered and confused, but no way were they running back indoors. I was determined they would have their moment of icy fun.

 

"What in the world is this cold stuff? I can't sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!"

“What in the world is this cold stuff? I can’t sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!”

 

Grimm gingerly walked around the deck, sniffing at the ice. He kept lifting up his feet and frankly looked miserable. The ice pellets were blasting down and hitting him in the eyes and he begged to go back indoors. Rufus kept running in circles and slipping and falling, only to try again. I did not realize that he had to really go to the bathroom. I thought his frantic circling was due to the cold ice touching his feet and the frozen precipitation hitting his head. Finally, he found the one spot on the deck where there was an actual patch of what might have passed for snow and urinated on it.

 

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

 

Where was Zella while the boys and I were having so much fun slipping and sliding and trying not to fall in yellow snow, you ask? She was curled up on the couch, refusing to step one hair over the threshold into the cold. She much preferred the warmth of the indoors to the stinging pellets of ice. I don’t know why. Ice pellets in your eye and slipping and sliding on ice seems like awesome fun to me.

 

"Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles."

“Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles.”

 

Zella is not generally a fan of frozen precipitation, snow or ice. She’s seen and experienced both before and was in no hurry to repeat the experience. There was a reason she lived in Texas, she told me, and the current weather we were experiencing was not the reason why. She never expounded on why she lived here but it must be because of her excellent owner. I feel so blessed.

 

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

 

 

After drying paws, the boy woofers and I came inside to thaw out. They were never going outside again if they could help it. I don’t think they are fans of cold, frozen precipitation, at least of the variety we have here in Texas.

The whole city of Austin pretty much shut down and we made national news for being the dumbest drivers in the world. I was not one of the 150 plus people who got into accidents of some kind or another driving on ice, but I did experience the fun of slipping and sliding while trying to stay on a road and not run into other vehicles or trees or houses. I must say, though, it was pretty amusing to watch a few terrified drivers pull off the road, hazard lights fluttering as quickly as their pulses, and then wait in their cars in cold panic, determined not to drive any further until the ice melted. Since it was 6:00 in the morning and temperatures were not to get above freezing until early afternoon, it looked like they had a long wait ahead. They were probably wishing they had stayed inside, curled up on the couch. Being out in the cold was not fun. Zella had the right idea.

 

 

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I must have been out of my mind the day I wished Rufus wasn’t so lazy. You’re probably saying, “Well, you know they say to be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.”  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Like I said, outta my ever-loving mind.

The only reason I wished for Rufus to not be so lazy (mind you, I didn’t wish for him to be active, just to not be so lazy) was because I was getting tired of dragging him off the couch…and out of the car…and out of his kennel…and off of my bed.  My arms and back were threatening to mutiny if I kept using them to haul fat-boy Rufus around.

The one time I took him hiking with the other dogs, I had to help him climb up some of the boulders on the hike out. Before this, I had never had to help a dog climb up a moderately steep incline–usually they were the ones pulling me. Let me tell you…it was quite awkward, trying not to slip while pushing Rufus’ derriere in front of me. He basically would just put his front legs up on the boulders and look back at me, waiting for his push. I tried to see if he could do it on his own, but he just rested his head on the rock and looked at me like I was the cruellest person in the world for not helping him. Finally I gave in (because if I hadn’t, I would have been there all week) and hoisted him up the rest of the trail until the area levelled out and he could make it on his own. Needless to say, since all the attempts I have made to get Rufus to really exercise seemed to end up with my arms falling out of their sockets, I gave up.

Rufus Before...

Over the last few months, Rufus has battled ongoing skin issues.  It started as soon as I rescued him.  He had road rash from being run over and was on antibiotics to help his skin heal.  Even after his skin healed, though, he never seemed to grow new hair and was losing what he did have left and right.

I scraped him several times looking for mange mites.  I never found any under the microscope, but because he was a pit bull type dog (they are notorious for getting demodex mites) and because he was itchy (pruritic) and because sometimes you don’t find the mites, I treated him empirically with Ivermectin for three months.  The missing hair around his eyes (an area you can’t really scrape without sedation) grew back, but the rest of him stayed as bald as ever.

I changed his food to grain free and only fed him a fish based diet. I added fatty acid supplements to his food, antihistamines to his medication routine and bathed him with oatmeal-based shampoo. His pruritus continued to worsen and he started to stink really bad. He had horrible seborrhea (oiliness to his skin), developed comedones (fancy term for blackheads) and continued to lose hair. I performed skin cytologies and more antibiotics and anti-seborrhea/antipruritic/antimicrobial/antifungal shampoo were tried. He became less itchy, but the comedones were so bad that he looked like he was growing mold. Through it all, he continued to lose hair. I could either have his skin biopsied and/or start allergy testing or see the veterinary dermatologist.

Instead of putting him under anesthesia for the biopsy, I decided that I would see the dermatologist first. In preparation for that visit, I decided to go ahead and perform a complete blood profile on him. I remember joking with one of the veterinarians at work:

“Wouldn’t it be funny if he just had a low thyroid?”

“Well, it would be an easy fix, but juvenile hypothyroidism is just so rare. One can always hope,” she replied.

Then I really started to think about it. Maybe he DID have a low thyroid. Other than the fact that it is very rare for a dog to have juvenile hypothyroidism, he did fit the other criteria:

  • Poor hair coat with lack of growth and general alopecia–Yep.  With his patchy baldness, he was starting to look like a chupacabra mixed with a hippo.
  • Lethargy–Check. It he was any lazier, people were going to start assuming he was just a weird dog-shaped pillow.
  • Mental dullness–Uh oh. I was pretty sure his IQ was well below normal for a canine…or a rock.
  • Heat seeker–Yep!  Rufus hated the cold weather and I had to give him Charley’s old jacket to wear else he trembled uncontrollably, even in 68 degree weather.
  • Gain in body weight–This was the whole reason I was trying to get his lazy behind off the couch to begin with. He was definitely becoming more rotund.
  • Neuromuscular signs–Hmmm. Rufus had been observed to do some weird head bobbles and tremors at times. I thought maybe it was just because his head was too heavy.
  • Myxedema of the face–Also known as thickened or swollen skin, this leads to the tragic expression seen in dogs with severe hypothyroidism. Rufus definitely looked tragic, with thick eyebrow folds and drooping skin.  I thought he just looked sad because I made him get off the couch every once in a while.

Rufus’ bloodwork came back with a few discrepancies:  he was slightly anemic, his cholesterol was elevated and his free T4 and total T4 were both very, very low;  all of these tests displayed biochemical trends that are usually seen in true hypothyroid dogs. In fact, his free T4 value was so very low, it was reported as “less than” the lowest number they record. I had my solution to his skin issue (and his other issues, as well). All I had to do was supplement him with thyroid hormone, no need to see the dermatologist just yet.

Rufus After

Fast forward one month. Holy mother of dog! Rufus is a new canine.  His hair coat has almost completely grown back in, his oiliness has disappeared, he lost eight pounds without any change to his diet, his tragic expression has almost gone away completely and, in answer to my wish, he has become turbo-charged. Whereas before he would only play for a few minutes, now he wants to play ALL DAY LONG. Grimm is worn out, Zella is worn out, I’m worn out. And guess what? Rufus can actually run and gallop and jump up into the car on his own. He drags me out the door by his leash rather than the other way around. AND he can go outside in 60 degree weather (like today) and not shiver at all. Now, he still likes the couch, but these days he uses it more as a springboard to jump off of rather than a bed. At times I’ve almost been tempted to stop his supplementation, just to have lazy Rufus back for a bit. But…then his hair will fall out and he’ll stink again.

The only symptom that hasn’t gone away is the mental dullness. Thyroid hormones did not make him a genius overnight. He will probably always be a little slow mentally. Puppies who don’t have enough thyroid hormone during development can have impeded mental function and retardation of growth (they call this “cretinism”). They  can  still grow once supplementation is started, but they can not catch up mentally.

So there you have it. I got exactly what I wished for (a less lazy dog with better skin) but found out I was not yet prepared for all that entailed. Now I guess I need to wish for a magical way to exercise and entertain Rufus so Grimm and Zella don’t become worn out. Then again, if I wish that, there is no telling what cruel joke fate would play on me. I just might get it.

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“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” 
-Winston Churchill  

 

Meet Waylon.  He’s the boxer puppy in the below picture with Grimm and Rufus, although he is much bigger now.  And no, he’s not mine.  At one point, he almost became part of my household but, because another was smitten by his cuteness, I was let off the hook.  Waylon is now 9 months old, crazy as only a boxer puppy can be, and is Rufus’ blood brother.

 

"I'm the baby.  I said, I'M THE BABY!"

“I may be the littlest, BUT I’M THE LOUDEST!”

 

 

Back in June, Waylon presented to my veterinary clinic on an emergency basis for vomiting, lethargy, inappetence and basically a failure to thrive.  He was skin and bones, white as a sheet and completely depressed.  Originally from a breeder in Missouri, his owner at the time brought him to Texas and assumed that everything was normal.  He trusted that the breeder had dewormed and vaccinated the puppy as stated and couldn’t believe the reason his young dog looked the way he did was because of hookworms.

Hookworms can be devastating to young pups, frequently causing severe anemia if left untreated.  Hookworms feed on their host’s blood by attaching to the mucosa of the small intestine.  Enough of these parasites were present in Waylon to reduce the amount of red blood cells in his body to 8%, a dramatically low number when a growing pup should have a hematocrit of at least 30%.  A blood transfusion was needed but the owner at the time could not afford treatment and wanted to go ahead and euthanize the little pup.  I offered the owner another option:  turn him over to my hospital, we would cover treatment and, if he survived, adopt him out.  The man readily gave his consent.  Now all Waylon needed was blood.

My personal dogs, with the exception of Charley, have always been blood donors.  (Charley could not be a donor because of his chronic ehrlichia infection.)  My dogs have been lucky enough (or unlucky, I guess, if you ask them) to be universal donors.  Grimm, because of his size, his high hematocrit level, universal donor status and easy-going nature, has been the go-to dog at the clinic for blood when we have no packed red cells in hospital or when whole blood is needed.  He has saved the lives of numerous parvo pups, IMHA dogs and other anemic puppies.  However, I did not have Grimm with me the day Waylon came in.  I did, however, have a nine month old red head named Rufus with me who was ready to step up to the plate.

 

Rufus Lounges in the Grass

 

 

I have warned clients in the past that I am not responsible for any changes in their dog’s behavior after receiving some of my dog’s blood.  I am joking, of course, as the new blood will not change their personality in any way (although they will feel better) and will only remain in their dog’s system for a short time.  After receiving Rufus’ blood, though, I swear Waylon became a mini-Rufus for a while, at least until the blood was replaced by his own.

Just two hours after receiving the blood, Waylon’s color and attitude improved immensely.  He started barking and jumping around, his appetite returned and he wolfed down his puppy food.  His barking turned into ogre noises like those Rufus’ makes.  He was now Rufus’ blood brother.

Waylon was adopted by one of the technicians at the hospital.  Curiously enough, the technician who adopted Waylon was the same technician who originally brought Grimm into the treatment area where I first met him.  Because of her, I have Grimm.  Because of me, she has Waylon.  Circle of life…sort of.  Anyways, I digress.  Waylon’s parasites were treated, he continued to thrive and has been my dogs buddy ever since.  Fast forward now to the end of October.

A rescue group came in with a litter of six, seven-week old Australian shepherd mix pups, all of which were suffering from hookworm anemia.  One was too sick to be saved.  The remaining five pups needed blood fast.  The only available dog at the hospital able to donate was Waylon.  Because each pup was so little, they only needed a small amount of blood and, because Waylon is now so big, he was able to donate a bit to each of them.  All of the remaining pups survived and are now in foster homes, waiting to be adopted.  See?  Even a dog can pay it forward.

There are so many things given to us each day:  a small kindness, a helping hand, the gift of life.  How many times can we say we really do pay it forward?  I would like to think I do my part, but I know at times I have fallen short.  I challenge each of you to pay one positive act forward each day.  You don’t have to give blood to save a life…sometimes a smile may make all the difference.

 

 

Here is your smile to pay forward as you see fit.

Here is your smile to pay forward as you see fit.

 

 

“You may be only one person in this world, but to one person at one time, you are the world.”

-Anonymous

 

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It goes by many names:  Elizabethan collar, doggy lamp shade, satellite dish, cone of shame.  Most dogs, at some point in their life, are buckled (and possibly wrestled) into one by their loving owners.  Contrary to what the dog may think, we do this for his or her own good—to protect them, to reduce the chance of further injury and maybe, just a little, to laugh at them.

Rufus, apparently, never read the “Caution:  Beware of…” section in the addendum to Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World. Otherwise, he would have known about the hazards of the cone and the laughter that may befall him.  Frankly, though, he could care less.  He wears his cone with pride.

Rufus shows of his cone of shame...er, fame.  Not only is it a fabulous fashion accessory, but it also acts as a bib when he drools as shown above.

Rufus shows off his cone of shame…er, fame. Not only is it a fabulous fashion accessory, but it also acts as a bib when he drools, as shown above.

Unfortunately for Rufus (and for me…the cone becomes a weapon of mass destruction at times), he has had to wear the lampshade many times in his short life.  With his ongoing skin issues, he has to keep the cone on to prevent self-inflicted trauma.  At first, he was a little frustrated.  Now he practically shoves his head into the cone when it comes out.  He uses it to bulldoze the other dogs out of his way and to earn sympathy treats from unsuspecting humans.  When outside, it becomes a plow and is handy for making furrows in the ground.  Plus, nothing amuses other drivers on the road more than seeing a goofy pit bull sitting in the front seat of a vehicle wearing a plastic cone on his head.  Road rage goes right out the window.  City of Austin, you can thank Rufus for the calmer demeanor of the drivers on the road.  He can’t be held liable, though, for the accidents that may occur from the rubbernecking and hysterical laughter.

Accepting life as it comes is what Rufus and, generally, most dogs do.   And I’m not talking about learned helplessness, where they put up with something because they believe that their particular situation is hopeless and no matter what they do, their condition will not change.  Although this does happen (to people and animals alike), I am referring to their ability to adapt to novel situations, not them feeling helpless because they have nowhere else to turn. When Rufus wears his cone, he does so with pride.  This is why he has three of them—one for day wear, one for evening and one for formals.  Rufus is able to transform a difficult situation into an opportunity.  He turns frowns upside down, lemons into lemonade and a cone of shame into a cone of fame.

And truly, this is what makes dogs Real.  Not real, lower case (because we know they are not a figment of our imagination), but Real with a capital R.  They accept their people as they are and their life as it comes, cones and all.  This, unfortunately, is why we can abuse their trust but also why we can build such tremendous relationships with them.  They trust us to help them, take care of them, love them.  And this, in turn, makes us Real, too.  This is better explained through a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

When you are Real, you wear the cone because you trust that your person has your best interests at heart.  You put up with the jokes and the teasing because you sense the love underneath.  The cone may not make you beautiful, but that doesn’t matter because your beauty shines regardless of the piece of plastic on your head or the patchy baldness in your fur.  This is when your cone of shame becomes your cone of fame, and you wear it with pride because you are Real and nothing can take that away.  And if someone gets a chuckle at  your expense, well, that’s okay because you know that you are REALLY loved and no piece of plastic can take that away.

Cone of Fame

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Over the past few months, I have been presented with a few awards by my fellow bloggers.  To those who have bestowed these gifts, do not think I have forgotten.  I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude and am truly honored that you all have taken an interest in the life and adventures of us here at Grimm’s Furry Tail.  As the newest addition to the canine crew, I will let Rufus speak for all of us:

Thank You

Now it is my turn to pass along these terrific little gems.  Giving an award to a fellow blogger remains one of the best forms of encouragement; it is a way to tell someone that you enjoy their work, appreciate their effort and seek to read (or see) more of their talent.  Being on the receiving end, for me at least, lets me know that others have been entertained or somehow affected by my work.  Those words strung together, those photographs perfected, made their way into the life of another person and caused some sort of effect in their life.  Did I inspire them, compel them to ponder a deeper question, alter their perception or just make their day a little brighter?  Hopefully, if I did my job, I did all of the above and maybe more.

Awards

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Back in May, Kat from Travel. Garden. Eat. was kind enough to pass along the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Her blog addresses most of my favorite things in life and she inspires me to get out and explore, even if it is just in my own backyard.  Her pictures, too, are truly beautiful but you shouldn’t just take my word for it.  Go check her blog out for yourself.  Go on.  I’ll wait.

There are a few rules to be followed when accepting this award:  thank and link back to the person presenting the award, post the award on your blog, pass the award along to fifteen other bloggers (I’m going to cheat and only pass the award along to three inspiring bloggers) and share seven facts or thoughts about yourself.  Because this blog is more about my dogs than me, I’ll share seven facts about them instead.

  1. Grimm has recently become obsessed with squirrels.  Even when inside, if you say the word “squirrel”, he looks up at the ceiling in anticipation of a fat, furry rodent dropping from the heavens.  I worry about him getting a crick in his neck from all the head twisting he performs in his search for these delicacies…I mean critters.
  2. If Zella gets really excited, she starts to vibrate.  Playing frisbee and running with me while biking tend to bring on this condition.  If the excitement continues, she starts to make duck and monkey noises, too.  One day, I expect her head to actually explode from her fervor.
  3. When Rufus waits for his food, he drools…and drools…and drools.  A small lake forms around his front feet.  Saliva bubbles erupt from his mouth.  Strings of slime drip from his chops.  The boy needs a bib.
  4. All three of my pit bull dogs have donated blood to other canines in need.  I warn the owners of the receiving dogs that if their canine suddenly develops an urge to eat flip flops or destroy any plastic disc shaped items after the transfusion, I am not to blame.
  5. Whenever we go outside, Grimm has to run about three laps around the yard just to warm up.  Then the real shenanigans can begin.
  6. Zella excels at reading my body language.  At times, she seems to know what I’m going to do before I do.
  7. Rufus is secretly a princess trapped inside an ogre’s body.  He has to sleep on soft, fluffy surfaces, can not walk or potty on damp or wet ground and must be assisted in getting in and out of his carriage (my car).

Now for my nominees for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

  • fishofgold.net–This blogger was recently Freshly Pressed for her post titled, “How To Make A Goldfish”.  After reading this, you understand just how incredible this lady is.  She touches on subjects some of us would rather pretend didn’t exist, but that is the reason why I respect her writing so very much.  Plus, she has a super cute dog!
  • bebeinside.wordpress.com–This blog actually belongs to my sister who inspires me every day.  She currently is staying with me and the crazy dog clan and is preparing for a new little one; I am going to be an aunt for the first time in 5 months and Grimm, Zella and Rufus are going to have a new human cousin!
  • queenofzoom.com–With five kids and five dogs, she really is zooming!  Her pooches make me smile and Mr. B is just a doll.  If you haven’t already, stop by for a visit!

Zella loves awards

The Liebster Award

At the end of May, Ena from Trying To Pray presented me and the gang with The Liebster Award.  A month later, another Liebster Award came our way, this time from The Crossover.  Thank you both for this honor and I am truly grateful to have gotten to know a little about both of you through blogging.

The rules for this award are as follows:  thank and link back to the nominating blogger, state eleven random facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions presented to you at the time of the award, pass the award onto eleven other bloggers and leave them with eleven questions to answer, too.  Lots of elevens in there!  So, without further ado, here are eleven facts about me (and the pooches):

  1. I have only had a cell phone for a little over a year.  Before then, I used a landline and smoke signals to contact people.
  2. When I was little, I wanted a horse so very much, but I only had a faithful dog.  I used to make a halter out of a leash for her to wear and I would make her jump over bricks and other obstacles while I pretended to be a great equestrian hunter/jumper.  Only later, as an adult, did I learn that our playtime and make-believe was actually agility and I had been using (quite successfully) a prototype of the canine head halter.
  3. The only food I really hate is jelly.  Yuck.  Don’t hide it in doughnuts or cookies, either–I’ll find it…and spit it out.
  4. Grimm is the biggest dog I have ever owned.
  5. I really wish I had a pool right now.
  6. Every time I go to the store, I buy a little something for the pooches.
  7. Rufus loves watermelon.  Anytime anyone eats any, he immediately starts drooling.
  8. I find myself browsing the back to school aisles even though I am not going back to school nor do I have any children who are.  Buying school supplies was one of my favorite tasks and perusing the school supply section is completely nostalgic for me, even if the trapper keepers have been replaced by iPad cases.
  9. I have been vaccinated for Rabies.
  10. Zella loves to bark at the lawn mower when I attempt to start it.  Once it starts running, she stops and runs away to chase bunnies.  It has become our lawn care ritual.
  11. I have always loved to read.  When I was a kid, I would actually get in trouble for reading too much and not completing my chores.  I would lock myself in the bathroom or read outside while hiding in the woods.

Here are the answers to the questions asked by Trying to Pray:

  1.  Are you a cat, dog or other person? I’m definitely a dog person although I do love cats, horses and goats. 
  2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?  I love coffee and vanilla bean.
  3. Best childhood memory?  Exploring the woods around my house with my siblings.
  4. What is your favorite place to sit back and ponder life?  Anywhere outdoors.
  5. If you could go back in time and place, where would you go and why?  If time travel were possible, I would be the first in line to go back to the Jurassic period.  Dinosaurs have always amazed me and seeing a live Tyrannosaurus Rex would be truly awesome.
  6. What writers have inspired you?  L.M. Montgomery, Jack London, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shel Silverstein, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Chris Wooding, Jane Austen, Jim Butcher…I could go on and on and on.
  7. If you couldn’t do what you are currently doing, what would you like to do or be?  I would love to have a little bookstore or run a plant nursery or have a hobby farm.  One day, maybe.
  8. What tastes better with ketchup on it?  I’m not a huge fan of ketchup, so I would say nothing!  Mustard is more my taste.
  9. What is your favorite color?  I love earth tones and all shades of blue, but I have been very partial lately to the color of slate.
  10. Where is the best vacation spot?  Anywhere away from the beaten path.
  11. Who fills your life with joy?  My family and friends and, of course, my dogs.

And from The Crossover:

  1. What is your all-time favorite book?  I have a lot of favorite books, but I think my all-time favorite must be The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  I think I first read it when I was about seven years old and I immediately gained a new respect for trees.  The unconditional love shown by the tree has meaning for both children and adults.  Reading it again as an adult who has experienced life and self-sacrifice makes the book relevant no matter your age. 
  2. What is your current favorite song?  Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard.
  3. What was your favorite subject in school?  Biology and Studio Art.
  4. What is your favorite season?  I love the fall, especially when cold fronts bring blustery winds to Central Texas.  Spring comes in as a close second.
  5. If you could have any job, what would it be and why?  I would love to be trained as an architect, both structural and landscape.
  6. If you could interview any living person, who would it be and why?  Actually, this would probably be my maternal grandmother.  She is the last of my grandparents and her life experiences are always fascinating to me.  I always want to know more, but she is not the kind of person to really talk about herself.  Time is passing too fast, though, and I really need to find out all her secrets and desires, fears and feats.   
  7. What is the last movie you saw?  Pacific Rim.
  8. What is your greatest fear?  Death.  Or rather, I fear that I will die before I can accomplish all that I want or need to before I go.  I guess it is not so much the death part I fear, but rather dying with regrets.
  9. Are you a cat or dog person?  I am definitely a dog person.  I like cats, but mostly the ones who act like dogs.
  10. When are you the most productive?  Generally, I am most productive mid-morning after my coffee has kicked in and my brain has awakened.  I’m worthless after 10 pm.  My brain goes into standby mode then.
  11. Who is your hero?  Anyone who puts the needs of others before their own and who works to make the world a better place–the list is endless.  Anyone who makes the effort to make another’s life better is my hero.

And now onto my nominees for The Liebster Award (in no particular order):

For all of you listed above, these are the questions I would like to know the answers to:

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. If you had to give up one cherished pastime or hobby, what would it be?
  3. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
  4. Where did you grow up?
  5. What is your favorite food or beverage in the whole wide world?
  6. What are you least skilled at?
  7. And most?
  8. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
  9. Do you prefer coffee, tea or neither?
  10. What type of landscape relaxes you the most?
  11. What television show or book series are you currently addicted to?

The WordPress Family Award

Lastly, two excellent bloggers presented us here at Grimm’s Furry Tail with the WordPress Family Award.  Thank you, Thoughts Of A Lesser Canine and Tails Of A Foster Mom for being part of our WordPress family!  Since all of you, dear readers, journey into the world of Grimm and friends, you are all a part of my WordPress Family.  Therefore, I pass this award along to all of my readers and thank you, with the deepest sincerity, for being a part of my blogging family.  I hope you will explore some of the blogs listed above and make your blogging family even bigger.

The Best

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Happy 4th of July 2013

 

 

Today America celebrates Independence Day–a day to relax with family and friends, drink a few beers, eat comfort food and ooh and aah over the spectacular fireworks that will be on display when twilight descends.  But how many of us really consider the words that started this day in motion on July 4, 1776?  I must admit…I hadn’t read The Declaration of Independence since my US government course in college.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

The second sentence of The Declaration of Independence has been said to be the heart and soul of America.  All men [and I would add, “women”; Grimm would add “canines” to that sentence if he was asked his opinion] are created equal with certain unalienable rights.  Are we, in America’s society today, living up to this credence?  Would our founding fathers be proud of what we have become…or would they shake their heads in shame, disappointed in the welfare of our nation?  I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.  After all, today’s society, and our world in general, has changed much in the past 237 years.  But no matter the changes, the above sentence has to remain true else we turn into the exact force we were trying to escape to begin with.

So today, as we celebrate our independence, think for just a moment about your own life, your own liberties, your own pursuit of happiness.  As a nation, we still have many hurdles to clear, but that is true of any large society, especially one comprised of so many different nationalities, religions and beliefs.  We have a choice, something so many others do not get.  Our founding fathers believed in it enough to make the following pledge:

 

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

 

How many of us, today, would make the same promise?  Standing up to tyranny and speaking out for those who can’t is a very hard thing.  People the world over have suffered at the hands of oppression and not all (or even a majority) have been successful in their efforts to achieve personal freedoms.  We are not a perfect country, but we are given choices–free will–to do what we need to within our laws to pursue our own happiness.  We have the choice to drink beer, eat barbeque and gather by the hundreds or more to watch exploding fireworks.  We have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

 

Life Liberty Pursuit of Happiness

 

 

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Ahhh…summer in Texas.  The sun is sweltering, the humidity is high, the mosquitoes are as big as mockingbirds and all the dogs want to laze around inside during the daylight hours.  I can’t say that I blame them.  It’s too hot to run around outside unless it’s early morning or late evening, but that’s when the giant mosquitoes swarm around and make life miserable.  What to do?  Do we risk heat stroke or exsanguination?  Both sound like bad ideas.  Maybe we’ll just stay inside.

My lazy dogs have taken over the couch this summer.

My lazy dogs have taken over the couch this summer.

Even the bunnies are too hot to run.  When the dogs are outside and rustle up a rabbit, the rabbit runs a few yards then stops and hunkers down.  My very brilliant dogs stop the chase and turn around, twirling in circles, looking every which way.  “Whaaat??  Where did the bunny go?  Bunny?  Oh, buuunnnnyyy…”.

Very slowly, rabbit ears come up over the grass.  The bunny peers at the dogs, as if to ask, “Really?  Are we really going to do this?  I’m hot, you’re hot; can’t we just pretend you got me, I’ll play dead, and we can both go on about our day?”.

The dogs exchange looks, shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, okay.  Good point.  But we sooooo got you, bunny.  You better play dead for a long time.”

Grimm dreams of colder days when chasing bunnies and frisbees doesn't tire him out so much.

Grimm dreams of colder days when chasing bunnies and frisbees doesn’t tire him out so much.

How do you entertain three lively dogs when it is hot enough outside to fry your brain?  Walks during the day are out of the question.  The concrete and asphalt would burn their little footsies.  Running around outside in the heat of the day leads to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, even with a giant water trough outside to jump in periodically.  Roughhousing inside causes too much chaos.  So what do we do?  We wait until dusk and then we all pile into the car and head to the nearest lake–Lake Pflugerville.

Zella can't wait until evening comes.  Her dramatic sighs from the couch illustrate her frustration with being inside during the day.

Zella can’t wait until evening comes. Her dramatic sighs from the couch illustrate her frustration with being inside during the day.

Lake Pflugerville really isn’t a true Texas lake…more of a giant Texas pond.  It does, however, have a 3.2 mile dirt and gravel track around it, a large expanse of water, and enough constant wind and rough breezes to blow even the most determined mosquito off course.  Not having many artificial lights around it makes for great star watching and moon gazing.  The croaks of the frogs, the quacks of the ducks, the splashes of the fish and all the smells in between delight the dogs.  Plus, if they want, they can go for a moonlit swim.  This biweekly excursion has become a favorite trip for the woofers and me.

Rufus daydreams about chasing Grimm through the lush prairie grass.  In a minute, his daydream will turn into reality, but instead of chasing Grimm through the grass, he will chase him around the couch...and over the rug...and under the table.

Rufus daydreams about chasing Grimm through the lush prairie grass. In a minute, his daydream will turn into reality, but instead of chasing Grimm through the grass, he will chase him around the couch…and over the rug…and under the table.

The lazy days of summer are aptly named.  The heat and humidity seem to soak up everyone’s energy.  Here at my house we seem to have become seasonal vampires, only out during the hours between twilight and early dawn.  On the days when I’m not working, we save the rest of the day for napping and lazing around, working on indoor projects or doggy behavior training while indoors.  Even though it gets hard to work their bodies during the hottest parts of summer, I can still engage their brains.  I can’t have complete lazy bums around here.  Plus, the waggle of their tails while indoors makes for a nice breeze.  If only they could aim them better, we could turn those tails in mosquito swatters.  Maybe we’ll work on that during these lazy days.

The boys wake up when the sun goes down.

The boys wake up when the sun goes down.

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