Browsing through my photo archives, I found this photo of Alex and Emily taken shortly after Alex joined our family in August, 2008. He was ten weeks old, and Emily was about 14 – as she was a rescue, I never knew her exact age. I had no idea how she would react to a puppy – in fact, I was a bit scared – but Emily seemed to enjoy Alex’s company and was patient when he thought her long spaniel ears were a tug-toy! I treasure the photos I have of them together, and the fact that all my dogs’ lives have overlapped. When one passes on, they pass the torch.
Archive for the ‘Adventures of Alex’ Category
My father is 97 and I am very blessed to still have him in my life. In spite of failing eyesight and the mobility challenges of old age, he is always eager to visit. Today we will celebrate at our mountain cabin, where he loves the fresh air and being enclosed by the woods. He’s always loved dogs, and as he sits in a rocking chair on the deck, there will no doubt be a spaniel on each side, getting a head rub. Here, he’s pictured with Alex. I treasure our time together.
Today we are in the midst of a snow storm, so it’s a good day to bake. As his birthday is this week, Baker wanted to make dog cupcakes. We tried a new cupcake mix for dogs from High Hopes For Pets, a company that donates a percentage of each sale to shelters and rescues, to help homeless pets.
The mix is packaged in a box with fun, colorful graphics of two dogs at a table, looking at a stand of cupcakes. The box contains re-usable silicon baking cups, cupcake mix, frosting mix, and directions. The directions include suggestions for adding peanut butter, banana slices, and other decorations.
The first step is to make the frosting mix by adding a few tablespoons of milk or water, so it has a chance to harden. The frosting is sugar-free and is made from yogurt, egg whites, and natural food coloring.
Then, fill each silicone cup with batter and bake for 10 minutes. Alex and Baker got to lick the whisk, and they loved the batter!
Add the frosting after the cupcakes have cooled for a few minutes. This batch turned out a little crumbly as I think I should have left them in the oven a minute or two longer. They need to be pretty firm to remove them from the silicone cups without crumbling. As I was taking this picture of the finished cupcakes, Alex counter-surfed and cleaned up the crumbs. Alex and Baker give a high five to these dog cupcakes!
Yesterday I was telling a friend about my new dog, Baker. She’s been thinking about getting a dog. “But I wouldn’t want to have to walk one in this weather,” she protested, glancing outside at the snow on the ground and the dreary day.
Yes, it is something we humans mind – but the dogs are eager to go outside no matter what. We don’t have a fenced yard, so every time they go out my routine is something like this: (more…)
We had a lovely Christmas with 8+ inches of snow. Alex and Baker are enjoying their present, a fake fur throw from FetchDog. I bought it to dress things up for the holidays and to cover a favorite chair which got tattered by Alex’s puppy teeth. Alex and Baker love it! It works as a crate pad too, for long winter naps. What did Santa bring your dog?
Since Emily died in February 2009, Alex and I have been a pack of two, and we have become very close. Our daily routines have melded into a comfortable rhythm of walks and play time and quiet time. But for the last 20 years, I have always had at least two dogs, and when one passed away, I found a certain comfort in knowing that their life overlapped with the ones remaining. I got Alex as a puppy in the last year of Emily’s life, and I treasure the photos of them together. I think of all of them as a chain of hearts, each connected to the next. Thus, I have been thinking for some time of getting another dog as a companion for Alex. I thought I would get another English springer, and I checked out the dogs on the Springer Rescue site weekly, if not daily. Occasionally, I checked the Welsh Springer rescue site as well, but Welsh springer rescues are few, as it is one of the rarer breeds in the US, and breeders are extremely careful in placing their puppies with forever homes. But, in even the best of homes circumstances can change, and that is why Baker, a lovely five year old Welsh springer, was up for adoption in early November. (more…)
This week I am at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fl at a conference on using social media in hospitals and health care. Aside from this blog, I am woefully behind in the social media world. People in the audience are actually tweeting about the conference live! It is certainly transforming communication, but yesterday morning I overheard a simple, face-to-face communication that touched my heart. (more…)
One of the traditions we look forward to is the annual pet and golf cart parade, part of the July 4th festivities in the community where our mountain cabin is located. The theme this year was “green,” and golf carts (and a few dogs) were decorated with recycling themes. Everyone parades past the clubhouse, and judges vote on the best designs. All the dogs, including Alex, were well-behaved and seemed to enjoy this unusual parade!
Here is a fun contest for a holiday weekend. The Bark is hosting a photo contest sponsored by West Paw Design (makers of eco-friendly dog beds, crate mats, apparel, and toys) for pictures of dozing dogs. Photos are posted on Facebook where you can vote for your favorite. Winner receives a dog bed! Napping is one of Alex’s favorite sports, so here are some pictures of him snoozing. Which one do you think I should submit?
This past weekend Alex and I participated in the annual “Paws on Parade” walk-a-thon to raise funds for our local pet therapy organization, Paws with a Purpose. The event is held in a park that has a lovely trail winding through the trees, next to the river, and always attracts a good turnout of dogs and their humans. As we parked and got out of the car, I could see that Alex was not eager to join the assembled group, so instead of his usual flexi-leash, I put his slip lead on, as he’s been known to try to back out of his collar if spooked by something. I allowed him plenty of time to check out the scene and the other dogs, though he clearly did not want to be part of the party! As the walk got underway, we were joined by a group of children from a local agency that offers residential and other counseling services for children in the foster system. The pet therapy dogs serve this agency with visits to teach “life skills” such as respect, teamwork, and personal responsibility, and have been a very popular and effective addition to the curriculum.
A group of the kids from this agency began walking with one of the pet therapy volunteers. She had brought both of her dogs that day, two friendly and goofy goldendoodles, and as the parade made its way through the park, the children took turns holding the dogs’ leashes. Alex and I were walking just ahead of this group, and I was glad that he was finally relaxing and ignoring the dogs, joggers, bicyclists, and walkers we encountered along the path. Then a small boy, part of the group walking behind us, ran up along side me and asked eagerly, “Can I walk your dog?” (more…)
Although my children are of the canine persuasion, I have always loved Mother’s Day. Spring is in full bloom and it ushers in the lovely month of May. Since moving back to be closer to my elderly parents (mom is 94) I have especially treasured each Mother’s Day. Today, we will celebrate it at our mountain cabin, though it will be a bit chilly to enjoy the deck. But Mother will settle herself in front of the fireplace with a glass of sherry, and all will be right with the world.
They say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I owe my love of all creatures to both my parents, but especially my mother. One Sunday on our way to church she spotted a collie by the road. On our way home the collie was still there, so Mother stopped the car and coaxed her in. After diligent attempts to find her owner, Sheba became part of our family and spanned my childhood from about age 5 to age 14. The night she died, I was at a school dance, and it wasn’t until many years later I learned that Sheba had gone into acute heart failure and my father had euthanized her with morphine from his doctor bag. My sisters and I thought she had died in her sleep. The next dog, Sherry, saw us through our teenage years and helped Mother adjust to the empty nest as one by one, we left for college. When Sherry died, my parents never got another dog, but they enjoy visits from my dogs at their retirement community. Once, when I left Byron there for a brief time, I returned to find Byron and Mother sitting on the couch, watching a concert on TV. “He’s a high brow dog,” she pronounced. “He loves classical music.” One year my father bought me a pot of daisies with a card from Byron and Emily, for Mother’s Day. I treasured that gift, and saved the card. And when Byron, and then Emily, died, my parents mourned with me.
This Mother’s Day, my brood consists of Alex, my welsh springer who will be two next month. Most of the puppy craziness is gone (sigh!) but he has become a lovely companion, following me everywhere as Springers do. I will burst with pride as he shows off his repertoire of tricks, “high five” and “high ten,” and I will make sure there is a good supply of treats in everyone’s pockets. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the world, and may your children bring you much joy.
After a winter of nearly continuous snow since before Christmas, this spring is particularly welcome! Sunshine, daffodils, and warm weather promise a perfect Easter Sunday. May it be filled with spiritual renewal and thankfulness for the love and blessings that pets bring into our lives.
At Alex’s annual checkup this week, the veterinarian recommended vaccinating him for dog influenza, a respiratory virus that spreads quickly among dogs in places such as daycare, boarding kennels, dog parks, or dog shows. The virus was first discovered among greyhounds at Florida dog tracks, and has since spread to 30 states. Symptoms include sudden lethargy, high fever and nasal discharge, and can lead to pneumonia. Although most dogs respond quickly to antibiotics, the virus can be fatal. The vaccine involves two shots, two to three weeks apart, with yearly booster. For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/flu/canine/ or www.doginfluenza.com.
A year ago today I brought Alex home. He was ten weeks old. The night before I picked him up, I could hardly sleep, wondering what I was getting into. But it’s been a wonderful experience to watch him grow up and see his personality develop. He’s turning into a wonderful companion. I’m thankful that he and Emily were together before she passed away in February. It feels like a passing of the torch. May we have many happy and healthy years together.
I’ve often said, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.” This morning Alex seems to be saying the same thing.
He must have played hard yesterday at doggie daycare, which he loves. When I put him in the car, he has no idea where we are headed. Maybe the tailgate market? the groomer? or, horrors, the vet? He settles into the back seat, usually curling up in a little ball. But he’s learned to recognize the route to the doggie daycare place. As we get closer, he sits up and looks around. Then he stands in the seat and circles, looking out all the windows to be sure. If we’re stopped at a light, I’m sure the other drivers are thinking, “what a wild and crazy dog,” as he bounces around the car, leaving nose prints on the windows.
As the daycare place is on a busy street, I park as close to the door as possible. I’ve taught him the “wait” command; otherwise he would bolt out of the car the minute I open the door. When I have the door open and leash firmly in hand, I say “Okay!” Alex dashes inside and up the stairs to the play area, without even a “Bye, Mom!” But I’m happy that he has this opportunity for play, socialization, and working out that puppy energy. A tired pup is a happy pup!