Mercy!

From the archives – unplublished….

Mercy! Took five puppies out to the hay feeder to play. They raced around and had a blast. Aqua Boy busied himself exploring scents up higher in the feeder, perhaps the fragrant mixture of sheep poo and wool? 😛

We got back to the house to find one Miss Red had awakened from her slumber. As the puppies had begun to bring me pieces of linoleum from their castle, I felt it necessary to take them back outside, and give Miss Red a stretch of time on the hay. So off we went.

All the puppies now go up and down the stairs. Benazir (the incomparable Miss Pink) is the wildest of the bunch, and the prankster. She likes to dive bomb everyone, and will play equally with the adults and the puppies. She bites hard, and loves pressure while on the bite.
IMG_0746-IH111413-B-Litter-6-wks

After our walk out to the hay and play time, and the walk back, there are now six puppies passed out quietly in their castle. Said castle was freshly mucked out today, and given fresh hay and wood pellets. Long gone are the blankets that once made soft comfy beds. Just too much laundry to do when this group of puppies is so messy, and insists on peeing on blankets.

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The Development of the Future Soul Mate

It seems everyone has a formula for the success of their puppies. There is the “Super Puppy Program” which hinges on early neuro-stimulation and stressors scientifically “proven” to increase your puppy’s ability to handle stress as an adult. There are “rules” for exposing puppies to X number of people in X number of days. There are “rules” for exposing puppies to X number of “new” things each day. These are not unfounded processes, as they are based on current understandings of cerebral development. However, there is also just common sense. I think parenting was more effective at times in our culture when we did not rely so much on the expertise of others. I think that when we rely solely on the instruction of others, and fail to honor our own inner voice and the voice of experienced mentors, then we fail our children, puppies, society, friends, etc.

The Busy Bumble Beez have received their “early neuro exercises” befitting of the “Super Puppy Program” and have met new persons in their life, though not 100 people in 10 days, dare I say. They have met chickens, sheep, big white dogs, a black dog, and climbed a manure pile.

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) meeting the rooster

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) meeting the rooster

They have smelled human remains. They have perfected the art of movement on a Sit N Spin. They have learned about snow, sheep poo, moss, trees, toddlers, teenagers, men, women, music and television, pots and pans, blenders, food processors, telephones, brushes, Dremmels and X-Pens. They have ridden in a vehicle in a crate, and have had their first outing to a novel location. They have walked on unstable surfaces indoors and out, including the Sit N Spin and an inverted umbrella.

The object of the umbrella is to introduce something new and unstable to walk on. It is just one measure of their confidence with unstable footing. These puppies didn't care, and felt it was a better chew toy than wobble board.

The object of the umbrella is to introduce something new and unstable to walk on. It is just one measure of their confidence with unstable footing. These puppies didn’t care, and felt it was a better chew toy than wobble board.

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) tearing the umbrella

Bhanavi (Yellow Girl) tearing the umbrella

Their fifth week did include new persons tending to their needs, whilst I flew out of town for the funeral of my beloved Grandmamma McEntire. I visited with family I had not seen in 25 years. The puppies had 3 caregivers to visit them. My neighbor Stephanie came throughout the day to rotate the adults through the backyard for extensive play and potty time. She fed the puppies and adults each morning. She brought her toddler and teenager to help and to visit. My friends Sharon (fine breeder of Red Royal Standard Poodles) and Kathleen (skilled manger and rearer of all things wild, including coyote, wolf and fox for a game farm) came each day to spend additional time with the puppies, and to offer their second feeding, and attend to any medication needs for adults.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

The puppies have spent time with a toddler who lives next door.

On my return, I continued their education outdoors, and added the human remains scent to their play pen. They just figured the scent tube was another chew toy. We also climbed the manure pile. It seemed like a nice mountain to climb for babies.

"Little Bit" (Bhanavi, a.k.a Yellow Girl) making her way down the manure pile

“Little Bit” (Bhanavi, a.k.a Yellow Girl) making her way down the manure pile

After playing, they got a wipe down with a damp cloth. They learned about the Dremmel and had their nails trimmed (it was too hard to see their nails to use clippers, so I switched to the Dremmel, which I use on the adults anyway).

Climbing the hill.

Climbing the hill.

Puppies at the top of a hill, which they found very easy to go up, but not so easy to come down.

Puppies at the top of a hill, which they found very easy to go up, but not so easy to come down.

A day after their 6-week birthday, the puppies began to climb the stairs on their own. And we ventured over to the forest edge, and they played on some tree stumps.

Puppies exploring the edge of the forest where many new scents await.

Puppies exploring the edge of the forest where many new scents await.

Benazir (Pink Girl) playing on a log.

Benazir (Pink Girl) playing on a log.

They also got their first brushing, which they all enjoyed. They also entered into their first “fear” period, which probably coincides more with the changing depth of field in their vision. Puppies are at first blind, then see shapes, then are very near-sited before this continued expansion gives them the eagle vision of a proper predator. When we’re outside, they can have trouble seeing me and Savannah if they don’t stay close. But on this day, they began to notice things above them, below them, and farther away from them. Some appeared a bit startled, others not. I remember in the A litter, the Purple Girl was dubbed the Purple Dragon. She was dominant and had a temper. The day her ears stood up, she became a princess. It’s so interesting how changes in their senses can change their behaviors. Pink Girl’s ears stood up, her vision changed, and so she was a bit startled by things coming toward her on this day, but much less so two days later.

Two days after their 6-week birthday was their first field trip. It was a fairly haphazard day, having had to travel a bit to fetch the last of hay I had purchased before this weekend’s snow set in. I also had to move a refuse pile from under the barn roof where the snow will pile as it avalanches off the roof. And I picked up the LGD’s bones from the field so that there won’t be sharp bones buried under the snow. Then I quickly loaded the six Beez into a crate in the back of the truck (which has a canopy) and off we went to Montana Earth Pottery, the business and passion of friend and fine breeder of Airedales, Judy Howell. Since it was cold, we carried the crate inside the shop. We probably both regret this maneuver as the puppies in the crate were screeching, waling, howling, and making all sorts of other profane remarks about not being allowed to explore en masse. We let one puppy out at a time to meet Judy and observe their explorations. They were fairly even except that Yellow Girl (Bhanavi) made more eye contact with her new friend, and was the most explorative (of course). She was also the loudest screecher when it was not her turn. Pink Girl (Benazir) also made reasonable eye contact, and was very independent. Aqua Boy took his customary moment to think on things, and then wanted to go about his independent way. Green Girl was her sweet social self and then explored. Orange Boy (Bashir) was also his sweet self, and seemed soft and pliable. Red Girl (Bhagavathi) was pliable and did explore but mostly wanted to be by the humans. When we first arrived, they were all a bit trembly or shivery, but otherwise, still explorative, confident and wagging their little Bee tails. Nobody really stood out in an extreme or dramatic way.

Then we let them out in two groups of three, just to have a quick romp. I noted the two boys zeroed in on the tupper of food (with the lid on). They got in the scent cone and went right to it. Not that I expect any less than this but I note these things. Aqua Boy was the only one to venture to the kitty litter pan. He was not permitted to ingest Kitty Roca. I think at that time, our human ears wore out from the screeching. They are getting better about this at home. I try to reward silence with visitation and feeding.

We had a big snow this weekend, so I will have to ponder their future visits. We have a plan for a visit to do a small temperament test, and a visit to evaluate drives in a novel setting. Though I prefer to look at drives at 10-12 weeks, the timing of Christmas and travel makes placing the Beez in their new homes at 10 weeks more favorable. I will have to plan their early scent tests soon 😛

The puppies learned about snow.

The puppies learned about snow.

Snow on the nose

Snow on the nose

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Swarming Beez

The early morning began with a little escape from the puppies night time Hive. One Miss Pink Girl was exploring the bedroom, unimpeded, as her family watched on. After situating the adults and lone juvenile, I released the Beez from their Hive, and enjoyed the sound of 24 galloping Bee Paws across the house, while I prepared their breakfast. This was not accomplished without some difficulty, as the Beez began to hang onto my foot and leg with either teeth or paws.

This morning’s meal was much the same as other meals, raw goat milk, ground lamb, natural anthelmintics, and vitamin C. Though last night, they got minced deer, and other days they have had egg or cottage cheese.

After a washing from their mother and half sister Aarti, the Busy Beez have fallen into slumber… quiet descends on the house. Today’s agenda includes play time outside in the barn. There lies on the ground 4-5″ of freshly fallen snow. We’ll see which Beez choose to touch the snow.

The little ones are changing so much by the day now. As I describe them, I note each individual does not develop at the same rate as the next, so I don’t pass judgement so much at this point, but observe and take note.

Yellow Girl, 4 weeks

Yellow Girl, 4 weeks

On their romps in the house and out doors, Yellow Girl seems to be a global explorer, investigating independently, and confidently. She is very committed to her decisions, and focused. She will bark loudly when discontented. She is a very Busy Bee, and I see her needing plenty of stimulation and activities to keep her fulfilled.

Pink Girl, 4 weeks

Pink Girl, 4 weeks

Pink Girl is strong and full of fire. She is independent, acts alone in her her decisions to explore, where to sleep, etc. She is biting and tugging, and pushes back when pushed on. She is calm in neuro-stimulation exercises. She leaps into me to grab at my clothes, and today, barked and chased the broom. Yesterday, I played a gentle game of tug with her. Early tug games should be rewarding, but keep in mind the growth of the puppy so as not to cause injury to the jaw, neck, head, etc.

Green Girl, 4 weeks

Green Girl, 4 weeks

Green Girl is sometimes reactive in a “I’ll kick your butt!” sort of way, within the mix of puppy play and fights. Puppies learn about the power of their bite and how to engage appropriately through these early games, as well as through their mother. Savannah has had to deliver some reprimands for biting during nursing, and has also corrected some unfavorable play around her face. In Green Girl’s case, she will respond with the fire of a dragon when crossed by a siblings painful bite. She is also explorative, and investigative, though at present seems more a follower, or needy of the pack to choose exploration.

Red Girl, 4 weeks

Red Girl, 4 weeks

Red Girl is strong in that she will speak her mind through her voice or reprimand to a sibling, but seems to be more an observer of things at this stage. She has a beautiful sit as she watches the world around her. Like Green Girl, she prefers the company of her siblings to independent exploration.

Orange Boy, 4 weeks

Orange Boy, 4 weeks

Orange Boy is very similar to Red Girl. While both of them bite and engage in play, they seem a bit softer than the top dogs, and more of a follower. I say the were soft with a grain of caution, as none of the puppies seems particularly soft in the truest sense of the word. From the A’s, there was a clearly soft puppy in Pinkie, and I don’t see that in any of the Beez, nor would I expect a truly soft puppy from this combination. But of course, there will be degrees of dominance, hard/soft, drive, etc. in every litter.

Aqua Boy, 4 weeks

Aqua Boy, 4 weeks

Aqua Boy is an interesting combination of traits. Being larger than the others, he has natural advantages. He is very strong, and will act independently and then other times prefer company. He can instigate puppy fights, and can often cause quite a few of them. But it seems more that he doesn’t know his strength yet, and so he instills some insults. He will cry when a sibling bites his ear too hard, but recovers quickly. He has been, early on, the one with the most corrections for biting, from his mother. What I predict in him, is a boy that is a bit slower to mature, but whom is cocky, somewhat arrogant, and perhaps a little foolhardy. He reminds me of his father, more than his mother. With him, I can almost hear the wheels turning in his head. I am fascinated by him really, as I can’t wait to see what he does next. He’ll sit for a moment, as though plotting some plan, and then pounce into action, usually to attack a sibling.

I will be sure and take photos today of their new experiences.

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Growing up a Bee.

The “Beez” are growing so beautiful. They are playful, and vocal, and each has so much personality. Red Girl and Aqua Boy have developed the most beautiful watchful sits when they just want to observe something. Often I will be sitting with the puppies, and all of them in my lap, but then those two will sit back, as though waiting politely for their own opportunity for private attention.

Each day I try to bring something new to their lives, either a new toy, a new scent, new sound, new person or dog, or new environment to explore. They went outside for the first time on their 4 week birthday, and met Joseph, one of my Livestock Guardian Dogs.

belgian sheepdog puppy with LGD

Pink Girl of the B litter meets Joseph (LGD), on her 4 week birthday

They went outside then again two days later, and met a toddler and his father.

Each morning, the puppies go to a playpen in the living room, which is where the crates are for the adults. The adults are only in crates for meal time, times when I’m away from home, or times when I want to give them some privacy to chew on a bone, or I need to clean house or something. It’s also the room with the dog yard access, so it is here that the puppies witness the most activity of the house. At night, the puppies return to the whelping “den” so that we are all sleeping in the same room. At first, I carried the puppies in their green basket.

puppies carry basket

The “Beez” are carried in this basket when going outside.

This morning, the puppies said they wanted to follow me to their playpen, instead of being carried. It’s probably what I started yesterday when we were outside. It took very little effort to call the puppies, as one would expect. So this morning when I had two puppies in my arms and was headed to the playpen, one popped over the barrier to follow. So I put the two in hand on the ground, opened the barrier, and off we went as a family, me, Savannah and six little beez.

It’s so nice to have two places for them, so one can be cleaned and set up with surprises while the other is occupied. Today they got an empty toilet paper roll. Yes this is a magical thing. The puppies have many toys, including wool balls, rubber balls, Tuffy balls, Tuffy animals, teddy bears, rubber Dynomite. But their favorite things today are their plastic water bottle which crunches loudly, their new cardboard, and their plastic infant bumble bee that is strapped to the side of the xpen. The bee has a hard plastic body, but soft head, and the wings are fabric with krinkle inside. The puppies pull on the wings and it makes the bee body flash a red light. They of course love their My Pal Scout also.

After arriving to their play pen, they enjoyed some raw goat milk with ground lamb and natural anthelmintic (DE, Rascal and GSE) and vitamin C, followed by some play time and a washing by their sister Aarti. Aarti has taken Nanny duty very seriously. She bathes them, “nurses” them (no milk) and is very concerned for their constant supervision. Last night I had to take her out to her crate because Savannah wasn’t going in to nurse them. It’s lovely to see natural mothering skills in any bitch like that. Savannah allows all the girls to visit the puppies now, but doesn’t want the boys to even look at them yet. With their great love and need to chew on things, due to teething, they were given a nice elk bone to rip some flesh from. They needed no instruction, and set to the work of tearing at it.

puppy with bone

The puppies are wanting to chew on things so much, they got to tear up a meaty elk bone.

The puppies are showing beautiful social temperaments, all of them are biting very hard, are coming towards all sorts of sounds, demanding interaction with the adult dogs and loving all their human interactions equally.

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The Gifts of Autumn

As I watch the radiant hues of Autumn spring forth over the land, the trees beaming with change, and carpeting the pastures and hillsides with golden leaves, I consider the immense anticipation this time of year brings. It is a season of preparation for Winter, a time when our energies draw in to reflective spaces. It is also a time when I consider our Winter skijor and sledding activities. This year brings a special excitement also with the arrival of the “B of Intention Hill” Litter, affectionately referred to as the “Beez.”

On October 2nd between 9:05am and 11:20am, Savannah delivered her six puppies, four girls and two boys. The puppies are lovely reds and fawns, fairly consistent in appearance, but having a split in sizes much like the A Litter. Their arrival felt surprising, as I was counting on 2-3 more days, and noting that Savannah’s milk wasn’t running as it had with her first litter. In fact I was preparing to head to the veterinary clinic for her xray when she was frantically in first stage labor. I’d missed her temperature drop, though might have caught the tail end of it. I came home Tuesday to see she’d had a rough day, and the next morning, she began labor in earnest. But I was still surprised. A couple weeks later a friend’s litter also came in four days before expected, and was the earliest whelp she’d had in her many years of breeding. We decided it was the moon. In any case, the Beez arrived in fine form. They are a vocal bunch, creating a chorus of trills, yips, yaps, puppy barks and howls.

This year’s whelping area is the same as for the A’s, in that it’s the walk-in closet space. The space has a linoleum floor, but no door, making it an easy place to observe them and visit them, yet protect them from most drafts. It provides enough shelter to keep it warm in the chilly Autumn of Montana. They have a heat lamp and the primary room space has a radiator. I didn’t use the wood whelping box sides this time. I put primary colored anti-fatigue mats down, creating a nursery style look, and created pig rails with 4″ PVC. This box has less bedding than the A’s because with no sides to keep the blankets down, Savannah creates mountains of bedding for puppies to get buried in. It’s worked fantastic, is easy to keep clean, and is nicely roomy.

As the puppies emerged, I found myself noting the similarities and differences between them and the A’s. Choosing their ribbon colors was like matching crayons to auras. It was easy. It’s amazing that even a newborn baby exudes a radiant aura… they emerge from the womb fully alive with the potential of their entire life, just as a seed carries the potential of an entire tree.

Red Girl is fairly independent and strong. She can frequently be seen touring the whelping den, and yipping, as though trying to see if each section of the whelping box will sound precisely the same as the next. She is not particularly needy, though not overtly independent. She’s a nice sized puppy, and should be a nice deep fawn or mahogany.

Pink Girl is fairly a mystery to me. While Pink is clearly the color she expresses to me, she is not the same kind of Pink that came through in the A Litter. This Pink Girl is as much as beautiful devi as Pinkie (A’s), but she is also fierce. She is Kali. She also is very vocal. She was born with considerable white on her paws and chest, but this is filling in with fawn. She’ll still have white on her chest. She is the first that I observed in a puppy “tantrum.” I went to pick her up and she wrinkled her little face up in a complete tyrade and let out a screech that only a cat could admire. Of course she settled in to appreciate back scratches and tummy rubs. She is a lovely puppy, very expressive, loves to cuddle, but is also a strong presence. I expect great things from her.

Green Girl was initially a very strong presence in the whelping den. At first she seemed the clear alpha of the girls, but her early lead has tapered as Pink Girl and Red Girl have exceeded her size in weight and attitude. We’ll see what Green Girl brings as her flowers blossom. I predict a strong and intelligent thinker, like her big sister Abhithi (A’s).

Yellow Girl is a flower. I cannot say it in any better way. She is a fascinating golden nugget amid a sea of red puppies. She is beautifully feminine, and quiet. She snuggles comfortably under the puppy pile, or in my lap. She is no pushover however, and as the puppies begin to play, she engages equally with her somewhat larger siblings. I predict a sweet and very loyal girl with plenty of drive and highly biddable. I also predict she will be a nice compact little pocket rocket, like her mother Savannah.

Orange Boy was an early and clear choice for the famous “Orange Boy Genre.” He has been highly active, frequently touring the whelping box, and showed a clear advantage in scent development over his siblings. This is not to say that all things won’t be equal with this skill, just that he had earlier development. Orange Boy is vocal, strong, and confident. While he can seem very independent, he will always be found sleeping in the puppy heap, and also likes to snuggle. He was the first to venture outside the whelping box, the first to investigate new toys in the whelping box and I predict a very agile boy with great problem solving skills. I also predict he will be into everything and will demand and occupation.

Aqua Boy… what to say about “Boris.” He’s huge. He has grown more per day than his siblings, and on this day is nearly a full pound heavier than the others. He is arrogant and independent. He has no need for anybody, yet enjoys company. He is happy to sleep alone or to spread himself over top of his siblings for warmth and cushion. He was first to splash his way into the milk pan for their first puppy meal at 3 weeks (goat milk). He can be strong in his resistance to early neuro-stimulation, and on one day that I trimmed his nails, he held onto my knuckle the entire time, with his toothless mouth. I love his strong presence, and clear leadership. I believe he will be very much like his father Gabbit, strong, and a real work horse, with a strong desire to please.

Please visit the puppies on their Facebook page (click here) to see their photos and videos.

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Many Gifts

It’s been so long since I have posted in my blog – but this happens. I have posted on the puppies facebook page, and of course on my own page… but here it is: Things happen and we go through phases and moods, like the tides, and the seasons and the moon. Today I was reflecting on the highlights of my day, and they were so delightful I had to share them.

This morning as I was feeding the sheep, I had Gabbit, Aanandi, Abhithi and Savannah in the dog yard. Normally, I do not put Gabbit in the yard during sheep chores of any kind, because he will jump the fence. But he’d been good lately, and I’d raised the height of the fence. Also Savannah is usually annoyingly vocal about my choice to perform any task without her, so it’s more pleasant to put the more temperate girls in the yard during chore time. So as I stood there by the ram pen, giving them a visual inspection, Gabbit jumps into the ram pen from the yard. I had specifically raised the height of that section of fencing where he’d become a habitual jumper. I scolded him sharply, telling him to “get back in the yard.” Well I’ll be a feathered frog… he jumped back in the dog yard. Okay I made up that expression. You know how some folks have these expressions that always elicit a smile or a giggle? Like “I’m fine as frog’s hair.” It’s not so unusual for Gabbit to return to the dog yard when commanded. The Gift was that I was not at the back door attached to the dog yard. I was not calling him too me. I was commanding him to go AWAY from me. So that was a GOOD BOY! And Gabbit likes to be a GOOD BOY!

This evening I had one of those evenings where I feel such incredible joy and devotion in my life. Really I came home to some signs of mayhem, as the steel ladder that goes to the hay loft was laying on the ground… by it’s position, I was immediately concerned someone was hurt. I had to assume the sheep brought the ladder down. But I was not seeing Jo… so I began walking tentatively to the Night Pen, wishing I’d grabbed my pistol, and noted Mary had arrived. I asked her where Jo was, and she had a worried look on her face. Well if I needed my pistol, the sheep would not be standing calmly… but still I could feel that sense of chaos. But there was Jo, asleep in the sheep shed. He was not immediately interested in following me back to his side of the barn, which is like a parking port, beside the hay loft. But he did, after I’d counted the sheep and lambs, and confirmed all were present.

Once inside with the dogs, who had their long potty breaks and walks/runs, and I with my chores done, I sat by the computer and began to play fetch with everyone. Well of course Jai wanted to play like Godzilla, instead of playing the indoor version of fetch and keep away. So I sent him outside for his private time, so he could meditate. Meanwhile, I had Gabbit, Abhithi, Aanandi and Savannah watching my hand and the magic white hairy ball toy. Their faces were priceless, and their rapt captivation intoxicating. Yes that’s it… they were as stoned on that ball as a cat on catnip. We’ve worked out this fetch game with the accuracy of a great football team. I will indicate that I will pass to Gabbit, with ever so small a gesture, and I will throw a fast pass… he never misses. He will catch with all four feet off the ground. Soon I was laughing without inhibition, with as much delight as a child who knows no hardship. I laughed at Gabbit’s speed and drive for the ball. He is such a professional, and the girls, despite their own intense drives, seem so delicate beside him. Truth be told, they don’t want to lose their faces against his lightening fast attacks on the ball. Gabbit always returns the ball with full belief that I will throw again quickly, so he deposits the ball at my feet with a toss. I must teach him to put the ball in my hand, as I’ve taught Savannah and Jai.

Then I throw to Abhithi. She is so cute, she “hurts my heart.” She is a magnificent creature, full of vim and vigor. She is a Sheltie on Steroids, vocal about most all things, and extreme in all manner of expression. She cannot go to the back door without leaping 4-5 feet in the air and throwing all four feet against it, before returning to the ground, squeaking in her Soprano voice with each leap. So I throw to her, and she catches the hairy ball, then quickly positions herself away from Gabbit so he will not steal the ball. He is nearly twice her size, yet she tells him “MINE!” If I feel he will be unfair, I tell him “let her have it!” and he does. Abhithi always returns the ball to me, because like Gabbit, her treasure is to chase and catch the ball.

Then I will throw for Aanandi. The moment I gesture that it’s her turn, she rears up like a horse, over and over, saying “Me! It’s ME!!!!” Aanandi has more bite and tug drive than retrieve drive. For her, possession is part of the game. Possession is only a rewarding behavior if someone else want what you have of course. She will hold the ball, and tonight, something new… she offers me the ball! Yet she will not release it, so we tug. I let her win, and finally she will give me the ball. I throw again and again, delighting in the young dogs’ joy and skill.

For Savannah, the throws were few, as the ball was not a tennis ball, which is one of her passions. She couldn’t seem to grasp that a ball was bigger than a tennis ball, and so this one popped from the front of her muzzle, back into my hands. She was tragically disappointed by the whole game, and quickly retrieved a tug toy for me. Surely it would be more fun?

Soon Aarti was participating, but in her old annoying way. She would shark dive into the ball when Gabbit or Abhithi would drop it for me to throw. She’d grab the ball, and begin growling with glee. If I tried to take it, she got louder, and more delighted. It was so much more the merrier that Gabbit and Abhithi wanted that ball. She giggled, I swear she did, because she knew she was delaying the game. So finally, I’d ignore her, and she’d put the ball down. I’d try to sneak and grab it, but she was too fast… she’d snatch it and growl some more. Of course I’m referring to her talking, there is no real menace in her act, it’s all a game. Finally, I’d blow gently on her nostrils and she’d let go, though a few times, Gabbit told her “enough already” and grabbed the ball from her. Nobody wants to have possession of the ball when he snaps for it.

Finally I put the ball to bed, and went to watch the sheep through the window. This time of year, it’s like romper room. At one point, the sheep were all sleeping, the lambs curled up beside their mothers for warmth. It’s all very pastoral, but for noting that the ewes with lambs, in their maternal strength, have booted the yearlings out into the snow. They want the space for their lambs, and what was once a communal space is now the nursery. Later I looked again from my living room window, to see that all the lambs were up and and romping. They were leaping around, often on their mothers’ backs. At one point, Ellie’s white ram lamb was standing on her back, when Jonah, his sire, walked over and pushed him off her back. It was as though he was telling the lamb to “knock it off.” Ellie stood immediately, and I’m certain I heard her tell Jonah that “lamb-rearing” was HER business, no this. Surely there was at least a curse word uttered.

Then the little lamb was leaping in the air, and accidentally landed on his Grandmother katy’s head. This gave him an unfortunate landing on his side. Soon as he caught his breath, he was up again, and began to chew on his mothers ear.

Lambing season restores our soles and brings so much joy. This year is such a blessing after last year’s losses. All but one lamb is vibrantly healthy. I’m so grateful for my lovely animals, both the ones that feed us, and the ones that bring us warm woolen clothing.

Finally, I delight in freshly falling snow, as I snuggle into bed with the dogs.

Namaste.

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VETERINARIANS

I suppose it’s a bit like being in hell. Perhaps you have to be living it to understand, but I’ve been here before, it didn’t happen out of the blue. I’ve lived with my dog for more than 12 years. I am an empath. You don’t have to know what that latter part means, but you should figure the first part – I probably know my dog pretty well. If you think I don’t, well you just don’t know me very well.

It was a long and painful night for Kylie. I had left a message with the local vet that I use. He didn’t actually phone me back, I still had to phone him. Understand when I took her to him on Tuesday, I told him I thought it was just “time” but that I wanted a thorough examination and ideas, as a duty as “gatekeeper.” He had just seen her about a month ago, because she was declining, and I wanted to check her platelets and wbc (normal then).

So he saw her Tuesday, repeated bloodwork, checked urine, found wbc, but not a lot of rods/clumps. We put her on Clavamox anyway. Saw her Friday for xrays. I was just feeling it was time to let her go, but going through the motions of exams and such. It wouldn’t be fair to show up on his doorstep and say “kill this dog.”

But she wasn’t improving on the antibiotic and in fact, she is quite acute, with periferal/neurological deficiencty, fever, and overnight, even some nasal symptoms. Vomiting. No bowel movements. A lot going on for this geriatric girl that had an acute immune mediated disease treated starting in 2007, and treated for 4 years. She doesn’t express a lot of vitality, and hasn’t since 2007 and perhaps before then. She has trouble with stairs and her hearing is going, and probably her vision too. But when I took her to him on Tuesday, I pretty much felt it was her time, and told him so. He strongly disagreed. But he had no diagnosis and suggested even trying one of those “new COX-2 inhibitors” just to see if it helped her. I declined (strike 2).

Anyway, so I reached him this morning, and told him it was time to put Kylie down, unless there was some way to fix her, but that I couldn’t let her suffer like this. He just couldn’t believe she could have declined so much. He asked that he be able to keep her for the day, I consented to a few hours. After observing her, he agreed she had deteriorated, and gave a list of possible diagnosis. Basically she has meningitis. She has a fever, she has high wbc, and she has neuro symptoms which by tonight included the front legs and hind legs. He wanted to try an antibiotic that would penetrate the spinal cord. In theory it was sound, but empathically it felt wrong.

But I let him talk me into it. So she got Baytril and Penn-G injected, sub-q and IV fluids. I picked her up at 5:30 and asked to speak to him. I wanted to just share with him that I wasn’t feeling good about this, and ask for his blessing, should I choose to pull the plug in the morning. He was offended. There was discussion back and forth, I felt he was talking over me, though I said I saw where he was coming from, he hardly wanted to hear where I was coming from.

He wondered why, if I just wanted to “kill her” did I even bring her in (strike 3). I told him he talked me into it, and I consented because of his medical experience, but wasn’t feeling good in my heart about it. He was further offended. He said if I was just going to decline his expertise, then all I needed was a tech. So it ended with “I think you need a vet that understands you, we don’t communicate well.” So I agreed.

Strike 1 was when the puppies had Parvo, and some asshole posing as my friend told him some untruth about me. Our first meeting about the puppies was an argument. I finally has to say… “where is this coming from, did somebody say something to you about me?” Yes in fact, they had. Whoever that was, unfriend yourself because I hate you and you don’t know me. You are an ass, and one day I will know who you are. You’re an ass. Go fuck yourself. Do you really think I do not research what I do? Do you really think I give a rats ass that you disagree with what I do? You are destructive and it’s not your business.

I digress, but I had to get that off my chest. How is it I have to go home feeling like shit that my dog has to suffer another long night, to maybe or maybe not recover to a state that wasn’t so great to begin with? Fuck this!

So I phoned another vet. She and I spoke for about an hour. I told her what was going on, and asked if she thought I was out of line. She had a lot of clarity. She said she has learned that owners don’t come about the decision of euthanasia lightly and that it must be respected. She also understood from a medical perspective that if the practitioner does not have a desire to treat and cure, then they shouldn’t be practicing. She saw both sides. She also saw some miraculous recoveries from steroids and encouraged that I might stay open to it. I told her of Kylie’s previous experience with steroids. She lost control of her haunches and her bladder, had to be helped up and down stairs and was so ravenous she began to eat feces. She also broke several teeth… her teeth were trashed while on prednisone. She also had her thyroid crash on prednisone. The current vet wanted to use a different steroid, by the way.

Anyway, I did feel better after I spoke with her, because I felt she heard my desire for peace for my dog, and understood I didn’t arrive at it without great consideration. I also understood that there is a drive from the practitioner to try a few steps to cure. I don’t feel much better about putting Kylie through another night, truly in my gut, I just want to help her over. I feel her body when I lifted her out of the truck and all I feel is pain, disorder and dying.

I am an empath. I do not need explanations for what I feel. I have felt fractures in racehorses before they ever happened. I have felt liver issues in racehorses before they ever diagnosed. I live with this dog. Do I have to go through mental gymnastics to choose for my dog?

In the end, me and the vet I phoned tonight did discuss some matters of contention between this other vet and I. The first concerned herbal and holistic treatments. Understand, I arrived at the use of said treatments because I myself was very ill. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong, and tried one drug after another. As a teenager, I was very unhealthy. Never mind the fuckin side affects of those drugs. But I REALLY arrived when one day I got frost bite from the waist down. I was exercising racehorses one Winter day, and on this day I wore jeans instead of my Goretex. That’s because I was told we’d stay in the indoor gallop. But I was sent to the frozen track for a couple horses. I had excrutiating pain from that.. my skin turned yellow and I had shooting paints, and my skin burned like fire. After 10 days with a catheter because I couldn’t pee, and the doctors having called in specialists and having no answers, I followed my intuition and went to a faith healer. She sent me to a Chinese medical practitioner, classically trained in China. From the Chinese perspective, it made perfect sense that I couldn’t pee after freezing the energy centers for the kidneys. He worked on me for an hour, gave me some nasty herbs and sent me home. I removed the catheter and I was fine. That changed my whole life, and my entire approach to wellness. Should I be vilified in the eyes of a veterinarian who does not live with my dog? It is not about whether she can kick this infection. It is about the suffering at hand, measured with the quality of life before falling into this acute state of illness. That is where we cannot speak the same language.

It ended with this: The veterinarian I spoke with tonight is willing to perform the euthanasia and follow on necropsy. But she also recommended a different veterinarian for me, since my primary foundation to health is herbal or holistic in other measures. I agree. It’s time to just move on.

May God grant me the wish in my heart, to move from this place I find so full of arrogance and corruption, a place that has been largely inhospitable to my animals, and to me.

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