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Archive for the ‘the Welsh Springer’ Category

Baker “Goes Red for Women”

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Baker dressed for "Go Red" day

As part of February heart month, our hospital participates in the national “Go Red For Women” day to raise awareness of heart disease, one of the major causes of death in women. A booth in the lobby offered free blood pressure screenings and information on preventing heart disease. The therapy dogs were invited to participate and draw visitors to the booth. I think Baker was a bigger attraction than the chocolate candy (did you know dark chocolate is good for your heart?). Petting a dog is also known to reduce blood pressure and stress. But what I noticed most is that at the sight of a friendly dog, everyone smiled.

Greeting hospital staff

They may have entered the hospital lobby with a worried or somber look, but that vanished when they spotted Baker and Heidi, another adorable daschund therapy dog. Please visit Go Red For Women to view a short, entertaining video on the symptoms of a heart attack. I think we can all relate to the young, multitasking mom in the video!

Hug your dog today. It’s good for your heart!

This post is part of the Saturday Pet Blog Hop, hosted by Two Little Cavaliers and Life With Dogs. Please visit these sites to connect with other pet bloggers!

Where is Old Man Winter?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

“The horses are blowing their coats,” a friend said yesterday.

Like much of the country, we’re having an usually warm – well, maybe “temperate” would be more accurate – winter. It’s caused the dust bunnies of dog hair to multiply in my house. Daffodils are peeking above ground like periscopes on the cabin’s rocky slope, as across the valley the snow-making machines hum through the night, trying to cover the ski slopes. I can almost hear the daffodils whispering to each other, “Is it safe to emerge?” I’ve watched them in previous springs as they inch up carefully, sometimes just the green tips showing under a blanket of spring snow.

Like most Welsh Springers, Alex and Baker love the snow. They stick their snouts in it until their faces look like powdered donuts. Then they jump for joy. And lie down on their backs and make snow angels. Or pretend they are otters, sliding sideways with their head on the ground.

As long as I don’t have to drive in it, I like snow too. Occasionally. Such as for the beautiful white Christmas we had in 2010. And one of the items on my “bucket list” is a dog sled ride through the snowy woods.

It’s February and we could still get walloped with snow, but the horses and dogs blowing their coats tells me not to worry. I’m sure they’ll be right.

Everyone Speaks “Dog”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Last week Baker and I were assigned to visit the hospital’s Neuro-trauma ICU waiting room, where families with loved ones who  have suffered a stroke, or been in a car accident, or have a life-threatening condition requiring intensive care pass the hours until they are allowed a few moments at bedside. The room is furnished with small groupings of chairs and couches so families  have some privacy as they wait. Most of them sit quietly, gazing at the TV or reading magazines, alone with their thoughts.

It’s hard to know what to say to greet people. Most are surprised to see a dog come into the waiting room, so I begin by explaining that Baker is a therapy dog who is there to visit them if they would like. I’m learning that Baker knows by their smell whether or not they are “dog people” and want to be approached. He’s not shy about sniffing shoes and pant legs as they pat his head.

But it’s not about me making conversation, it’s about Baker making a connection and for a few moments, helping them to forget why they are really there. (more…)

Baker’s Therapy Dog Debut

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

This week Baker and I made our first hospital visit as a therapy dog team, which was a dream come true for me. The journey began years ago when a dear friend was hospitalized with terminal cancer. Therapy dog visits were the highlight of her last days, and led to fond reminiscing about dogs she had loved. Smiles, tears, joy, and faith in being reunited with them on the other side sustained her to the end, and I realized the power of a wagging tail in a hospital, a healing dimension that no high tech treatment, or the most caring human, can provide. To honor my friend’s memory, I promised myself that someday I would do this work.

I had a lot to learn. The process to meet national certification standards and hospital requirements takes time and commitment. It begins with having the right dog, one with a friendly personality and unflappable calm amidst strangers, medical equipment, hospital smells, and sick people. A dog who will obey commands in spite of distractions, and will navigate carefully around wheel chairs and IV tubes. A dog who loves to be hugged by strangers. (more…)

Of old dogs and puppies

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Alex and Emily

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.

Be a good boy!

Baker takes the therapy dog test

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Learning hand signals

Years ago, I had a dear friend who was hospitalized with terminal cancer. She loved dogs, and her final weeks were brightened by visits from a troupe of golden retriever therapy dogs. Louise’s face lit up with a smile as she described their visits, and often led to reminiscing about her childhood pal, a German Shepherd, whom she was confident she would see again on the other side.  Since then, it’s been a dream of mine to become a pet therapy volunteer. (more…)

Snow Dogs

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Baker and Alex watch the snow fall

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…)

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Alex enjoys his Christmas present!

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?

The Best Gift Ever!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Alex (top) and Baker

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…)

In loving memory of Byron

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Byron

Three years ago today, on November 7, 2007, my beautiful Byron crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He would have been 15 in January, a year or so older than the typical life span for a Welsh springer. I adopted him when he was 18 months old, a breeder re-home situation, and during our years together life had many ups and downs, but he was always there for me with his gentle presence. I especially treasure his graceful aging. In spite of spinal arthritis which progressively weakened his hind legs, his spirit remained cheerful. We adapted to the mobility issues with shorter walks, where I let him turn back towards the house when he wanted. He had a comfy bed in every room of the house, but he spent most of his time on his bed in the hall, where he could keep watch over my comings and goings. I helped him get up and walk with a little sling, and when we came to the cabin, I carried him down the stairs to his bed by the window, where he enjoyed looking out into the woods. Saying goodbye to him was very hard, but I knew I had to release him from his struggles. (more…)

Dozing Dogs Photo Contest!

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

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?

Dozing off

Sleeping with toy

Curled up

Alex and his brothers napping

In Loving Memory of Byron, November 7, 2007

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

Today is the second anniversary of my Welsh Springer, Byron’s death. Like today, it was a beautiful, clear fall day when he slipped quietly into his last sleep. He had struggled with mobility as spinal arthritis took its toll. For months, I had to help him to his feet. He walked with the aid of a sling under his belly. When he came to the cabin on weekends, I carried him down the stairs and settled him gently on his bed, next to the window where he could look out into the woods. He was a wonderful companion who brought me much joy. It’s hard to believe two years have passed. But no matter how many years go by, he lives on in my heart. I miss his gentle presence, but I am grateful for our time together.

Byron in the sunlight

Byron in the sunlight

Our first anniversary

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

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.

Alex on the deck

Alex on the deck

A pooped puppy

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I’ve often said, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.” This morning Alex seems to be saying the same thing.

I know I'm not allowed on the bed

I know I'm not allowed on the bed

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!

Our summer vacation

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Alex and I are back from our summer vacations. Mine was a week in Maine, at a writing workshop. His was a week in Weaverville, NC at “Camp Airedales,” a beautiful home whose owner admits was “built for the dogs,” and is surrounded by acres of rolling fenced pastures to romp in with resident Airedales Pixi, a therapy dog and agility champion; Peach, a rescued Airedale, and Pubb, the elder statesman of the pack and therapy dog extraordinaire. I missed Alex, but Maine and the writing workshop were wonderful experiences. A week with twelve women writers, who by the end of the week had dubbed ourselves “the women weavers of Stonecoast,” as we shared poignant, painful, and sometimes humorous stories of our lives, woven into words on the page. Back at Camp Airedales, Alex was learning boundaries including electric fences, scat mats, and not throwing tantrums in the crate when confined. He also learned to use a doggie door, and had adventures hiking with the Airedales. In just a week, he seemed to grow up. It was a  memorable week for us both.