Monday, January 26, 2009

When we don't bond with our animals - Part 2

It’s true – some critters just worm their way into our hearts and stay there forever. But what happens when an animal finds their way to us and we just don't feel a connection?

I think we attract to us those beings who may bring us opportunities to learn and grow…to challenge beliefs that may be holding us back, even if those beliefs feel quite comfortable THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

If I need to be practicing more patience in my life I can guarantee an animal will come to me who will interact in a way that doesn’t perfectly match my patience level.

Or, what if I’m looking to be wrapped in furry love because I’m tender and broken from the loss of a beloved animal? There is a good possibility the critter that will find me may have a completely different life plan than the one I have for them, and taking care of me might not be on the top of their list.

This may force me to look deeper inside myself, or reach out into my circle of friends and family for help and support. It may be that I need to learn how to ask for a shoulder to lean on, instead of relying on my animals to be my main source of healing.

Many years ago a little poodle-mix doggie came into my life. She was about 6 months old, and I named her Gypsy. She was very shy and insecure, and would spend a large part of our 17 years together in hiding. I had several other dogs while Gypsy was with me, but she just wasn’t that big on interacting with them….or me. I loved her, as I love all my animals, but I would never have the same bond with her that I had with Martha…or Jake.

Toward the end of her life she became blind and deaf, and I thought she would spend her final years in her own silent world, living under the bed.

And then I found JAKE. I was concerned about bringing a new dog home with Gypsy almost 16 yrs. old, but when I saw Jake I knew he would NOT be staying at the shelter.

Jake not only changed my life – he changed Gypsy’s, too. He treated her like she was the queen of the manor, and she loved being deferred to. The last year and a half of her life was spent going on walks and taking car rides with her best buddy, Jake, with both their heads hanging out the window. She was so happy!

I learned a lot from little Gypsy, a dog I had never really connected with. I saw firsthand that it is NEVER too late to get in the game and enjoy life. I learned that sometimes we ALL need to be treated like a queen…even if it’s just for a day. And I came to understand that sometimes being blind and deaf isn't so bad - you probably miss a lot of things that aren't good for your blood pressure, anyway!

Perhaps if we let our own expectations and hopes fall away we can see all the wonderful gifts these furry miracle workers bring with them. It took me many years to understand just how special Gypsy was, but by the time she left my life I was oh so grateful for our 17 years together.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

When we don't bond with our animals - Part 1

Forever Dogs. Those are the pups who come into our lives, and we just KNOW that somehow, somewhere, we’ve been with them before.

Whether we’re talking about forever dogs, forever cats, forever horses or forever tarantulas, one thing remains the same – it’s wonderful to have that kind of connection with an animal!

But what happens when a critter comes into our life and we don’t feel that kind of bond?
If you’ve shared that deep connection in the past, it can be challenging to go forward with an animal you may feel totally disconnected from.
The four-legged love of your life may have been a dog who slept quietly by your feet, waiting patiently to go for a walk. Or maybe it ran through the house like a race car, and the sound of those nails clicking on the floor was music to your ears.

Your forever cat may have been a sweet little purr-ball, who loved nothing more than to curl up contentedly in your lap. Or maybe your fabulous feline was more aloof, but you were so perfectly in tune it felt like two beings sharing the same heart.
So those critters pass from our lives, as all living things do, and in comes a creature who sees the world very differently from your lost angel critter. You want to adore them but you just can't seem to feel that same down-to-the-depths-of-your-soul love that you felt in the past.
What happens now?
To be continued…


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Was my CAT once my DOG?

Many years ago a very special dog named “Martha” entered my life. I had found her pregnant mama running around on some nearby train tracks. I brought mama home, and a few weeks later Martha and her 5 siblings were born in the bathroom of my old Victorian home.

Martha spent the next 13 ½ years with me, and I came to know her better than any human being I had ever met. She was magical…mystical…and definitely odd. She loved me fiercely. It was like having my very own fire-breathing dragon – if someone threatened or got too close to me you had to watch out for her fire.

Martha left me in 1995, and I now share my life with 4 ten year-old sibling kitties – Dickens, Pippen, Molly & Star. I love my 4 felines deeply, for they introduced me to the fanciful world of cat magic.

Molly is definitely the odd one out of the bunch. When I look at her I think of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, always disappearing and reappearing. You can engage in a very animated conversation with Molly, but the feeling that she’s just not really there never leaves you.

Martha was EXACTLY the same kind of creature! Our bond was very strong, and I knew that nothing…not even death…would keep us apart for long. I have wondered for many years if Molly is my dear Martha, come back to me in feline form. Molly doesn’t have Martha’s fire, but perhaps time mellowed her a bit, as it often does to us all.

What do you think?



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stressed out?

These are certainly challenging times! Whether it comes from the TV, computer or daily paper, the news is hard to hear. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been impacted by the struggling economy.

As an animal lover, some of the saddest stories are those of the critters who’ve been brought to shelters or simply abandoned by families no longer able to care for them. Rescue organizations are overwhelmed with loving animals who don’t understand what they did wrong, or where their people went.

It may be tempting to jump into the “river of fear” and let the current take you wherever it wants to, but please DON’T DO IT!

Here’s something I just read online from the Institute of HeartMath. It’s called the De-Stress Kit, and I found a lot of valuable ideas for grounding myself and remaining centered during these crazy times.

The company is offering a free download of this information -

If it calls to you I hope you’ll check it out. Then go throw your arms around your beloved animal companion and remember that you can get through anything…TOGETHER!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Three-Legged Raccoon

Back in May 2008 I wrote about Jack, the raccoon who had begun visiting my yard. Many things happened after that blog. For one thing, Jack turned out to be Jackie! Shortly after I made that discovery Jackie showed up outside my door with her 4 babies.

I fell in love with this masked family, who had taken up residence under my deck. I was re-living the joy I had felt watching Grizzly Adams on TV!

The raccoon family quickly grew, as relatives and in-laws began visiting, too. One morning it was like a scene from “Raccoons Gone Wild” and I knew I was in trouble. The little critters took over my yard, cleaning their feet in my pond and tearing apart the pump and pond plants.

One day Mama showed up with her babies, and one of them was missing a back leg. I was heartbroken, because I thought the little one’s days were numbered.

Boy, was I wrong!

The raccoon visits slacked off a bit during the fall, but recently the little darlings began coming by on a regular basis. The other morning there were three in the yard, one of whom was eating the food I had put outside for a neighborhood kitty. Out of nowhere a creature came tearing down my hillside, pushed the feeding raccoon away and took over eating the cat food.

It was the three-legged baby!

This tenacious kid, who was now HUGE, had survived the terrible snow and ice storm we had here in Portland over the holidays. It had survived the predators in our woods. Heck, it hadn’t just survived – it had thrived!

Lately I have been struggling with knee problems. After limping around for over two months, I learned that my left leg is completely out of whack, and the left knee is turned inward toward the right. I am working with a physical therapist to change the structure of that leg.

It’s not easy. My funky knee has been perfectly happy all these years facing the wrong way. I’ve tried telling my knee it will be the laughingstock of knees everywhere if it doesn’t correct itself, but so far it seems immune to the threat of public humiliation.

Then I saw the three-legged raccoon, and I realized if that little one could survive in the wild with a missing leg surely I was capable of getting my knee back into shape.

Maybe that’s why the raccoons came to me – to teach me about perseverance.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Good Dogs with Bad Names

As a writer of books for animal lovers you just KNOW I love a good read! So, here’s a fun and informative book for dog lovers that came my way recently - Good Dogs with Bad Names by Maxyne Bursky.

The cover says the book is “A playful and purposeful journey through the world of breed rescue, with tips on how to adopt the dog of your dreams!”

In addition to many excellent tips for people looking to bring home a new dog, the author also offers her thoughts on good (PAWS UP) and bad (PAWS DOWN) names for specific dog breeds. For example, you should NEVER name your Dalmation SPOT. NOELLE, however, is perfectly acceptable!

Ms. Bursky has a light, engaging writing style. I laughed out loud at several points in the book, while finding many other areas about the world of breed rescue very educational.

For more information or to purchase the book please visit the Good Dogs with Bad Names website.

Happy reading!


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why don't dogs live longer?

“The thing about dogs,” says Sandra Ferguson, “is that they live such a short time and though I hate that, it is the way that it is.

"The reason is that they are truly angels from Heaven and it takes a lot of energy to keep that kind of glory contained in a dog body. It just burns them out. And each dog has something unique to teach us so we are meant to know many in our lives.”

Here is Sandy with her poodles Kiley (right), Tessa (left) and new rescue puppy, Toby, on her lap.

Sandy shared her thoughts with me in a recent email, and it got me wondering about the glow I have often seen around my dogs and cats. Maybe all that loving energy IS too much to be held within a body for very long.

What about you - have you noticed your critters glowing?


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Shelter dogs, animal lovers and one very special New Year's Eve event

Just like Christmas Eve 2007, animal lovers gathered on New Year’s Eve 2008 at Clackamas County Dog Services, here in Oregon. This under-funded program takes care of abandoned and stray dogs in need of help.

One by one people brought gifts from their cars and added them to the rapidly growing pile of food, toys, treats and beds…lots and lots of beds. No dog would be sleeping on a cement floor this night.
I visited with all the pooches, but I have to tell you my heart was immediately stolen by Ralphie, a sweet 5 yr. old boy who put his paw on my outstretched hand and never stopped looking at me.

“Just take me home,” his eyes said.

There are so many loving dogs at the shelter including Sandy, a three-legged sweetie-pie, and Gizmo, a little bundle of black fur who just needs a lap to snuggle in.

Looking to bring a new dog into your life? I hope you will consider stopping by the Clackamas County Shelter. If you are the lucky person to adopt Ralphie, Sandy, Gizmo or any of the wonderful dogs there PLEASE email me and let me know.

Here’s to shelter critters – may they all find their forever homes soon.

Happy New Year!