Sunday, May 24, 2015

Corgi Minnesota Meet-up

I have a friend out in California who has a corgi, and they have these incredible corgi beach day events several times a year, where up to 700 corgis gather at one time - in one place!    Can you imagine?!   I've always been envious of such a fun event and wished we had something similar here. Yesterday we did.    The Corgi-MN meetup group gathered for an afternoon of fun at the Bloomington Off-leash Dog Park.     Yes, I admit I might be a little crazy; driving 500 miles round trip to take my dogs to a park with 40-60 other corgis, but it was so much fun!   We left in the morning, drove into some rain and I was concerned it might dampen our event - but other than a few sprinkles, the rain held off and our event was a smashing success.

The park is huge!    Thirty acres of fenced in space to run, play .... trails to walk on with your dog ... even a lake to swim in!   The down side is that with an area that large, it is hard to keep your dog in sight, let alone pick up after them.   There is a big water fountain that my dogs were fascinated with (we have to bring our own water in Fargo) and even a spray hose for rinsing your dog off when they roll in the mud, as Scarlett did!    In fact, Scarlett took the unofficial prize for getting the dirtiest!   That girl just loves to roll in the mud!


It was fun to meet so many other corgis and their owners.  A special treat was having a few cardigans there, amongst all the pems.    Before I left home in the morning, I put flag bandanas on my two and that sure helped me keep track of them.   It's amazing how many corgis look alike - especially from a distance, and when running in a pack!    Corgis are natural herders, and this video clip shows them banding together to herd a couple of unfortunate non-corgis that were there!   It was a hoot.
video


I thought that Zak would surely be the loudest dog there, but he wasn't even close.   He was actually a little overwhelmed by all the dogs there and at one point in the afternoon I lost sight of him.   As I was walking around, calling his name, someone told me that she'd just spotted him sitting by himself under a shade tree.   I walked over there and sure enough - he was taking a little 'rest' by himself - something I have never seen him do before.   It was so sweet and I was proud of him for being able to care for himself in that way.   After a few minutes, he was back with the group, running and chasing and occasionally breaking to have someone scratch his ears.   He had so much fun.

Scarlett wow'd everyone with her speed.   I'm sure she was the fastest corgi there.   She has her basic running speed, but she loves to occasionally kick into 'overdrive' and she is amazing to watch when she goes full throttle.   She can keep up with any large breed dog, will skid around corners and occasionally somersault out of control.



After so much exercise, I thought Scarlett and Zak would sleep all the way home.  But Zak has some car anxiety and, for whatever reason, cannot relax while riding.   He sits quietly but has an anxious look on his face and just cannot go to sleep.   Princess and Dee Dee loved to ride in the car and would be sound asleep as soon as we hit the highway.   Scarlett also enjoys the car, and slept a good bit of the way home.   But Zak never shut his eyes.  I knew he was exhausted and when we got home, he was sound asleep in two minutes.   We have several other trips coming up in the next few weeks so I am going to get him a thundershirt and see if that will help him relax.






Friday, April 10, 2015

Cherry Blossoms and Yuppy Puppies


I had an absolutely delightful two week trip with my brother Dan to Washington DC and points south.  Although the cherry blossoms were a bit late this year, they were starting to bloom towards the end of our trip.    There were so many highlights of our trip, I hardly know where to begin, but here are some of them: 
  • The Library of Congress - arguably, the most beautiful building I have ever been in.

     
  • Museums, museums, museums!!!   The Holocaust and the Smithsonian aeronautics among my favorites, but they all were great.
  • Tour of the Supreme Court gave me a new appreciation for the judicial branch of government. 
  • Arlington National Cemetery and the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.

  • National mall and monument tour.   I hadn't seen the WWII monument before and loved it.   The Martin Luther King monument was also, very inspiring. 

  • Shenandoah National Park - a place Dan and I have talked about going for years.   No, it wasn't the best season to go there, but we saw a beautiful sunset and sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mts.


  • Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.    I especially enjoyed Jamestown, where recent excavation has recovered many artifacts and shed new light on the lives of the early settlers.  I also loved Yorktown.   I had no idea that battlefields could be so interesting (we saw Bull Run, too) but many of these places were significant in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars.   The bravery of men who sacrificed all for our freedom was sobering.   
  • Kitty Hawk, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  We also stopped at Fort Raleigh, site of the lost colony, which we both were intrigued with.

  • Touring Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson) and Mt Vernon (home of George Washington).
  • Attending a symphony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Palm Sunday service at St. John Church - across from the White House. 
  • Performance of St. John's Passion on Palm Sunday at the National Cathedral and a Men and Boys choral concert and organ concert on Easter. 

  • Fireworks over the Potomac River at the Southwest Waterfront as part of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  

  • Easter Sunrise service with Michael Tait of the Newsboys in front of the Lincoln Memorial. 

We stayed at the International Guesthouse, where we enjoyed homemade granola and muffins every morning, cookies and tea in the evening and met fascinating people from all over the world.   Many of them were in Washington to do research or work at their country's embassy.

We ate in some wonderful restaurants .... including  Highlands RestaurantMitsitam Cafe at the Native American Museum and Founding Fathers Cafe.   Chicken kabobs and saffron rice at the Persian Kitchen were a definite favorite for both of us.
Although I loved all of it, I'd have to count Mt Vernon as my favorite place.  A gorgeous museum and educational center has been built since I was there many years ago, and I had either forgotten - or never realized - what a truly inspiring man George Washington was; giving up power, having a vision for this country that he wouldn't let die and providing leadership when it was so desperately needed.   Every American owes a huge debt of gratitude to this great man who was unmatched in his ability to pull dissenting voices together and form the United States from a collection of colonies.  He had the respect of all and truly was, the father of our country.

Meanwhile, back home, Scarlett and Zak were having a blast.  I never cease to be amazed at how different they are from Princess and Dee Dee. Princess was in a kennel twice and she trembled and pleaded with me not to leave her.   I walked away in tears; guilt-ridden for abandoning her!    I never even TRIED to put Dee Dee in a kennel.    She was so attached to me that even when I hired in-home care, they couldn't get her to eat or go off the front porch for several days!  Scarlett and Zak, by contrast, are the most socialized dogs I've ever seen. They LOVE to play and trotted off happily when I dropped them off at Yuppy Puppy Kennels.  It's by far the best boarding kennel I have ever seen. The staff are kind and caring, the whole place is spiffy-clean and the large outdoor play area is amazing. When I picked my dogs up this week, they didn't want to leave!   Thankfully, they warmed up to me after a good nap, but they had so much fun that I bought a day-care package to use occasionally when I have an especially busy week.  Unlike my Christmas vacation, which was a nightmare, I was able to truly relax and enjoy every minute of this trip, knowing my dogs were being well cared for. Thank you, Yuppy Puppy.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March Musings

We got our snow late, enjoyed playing in it for about three weeks and now it's gone!   The best kind of winter, in my opinion.   We had several cold snaps, and February was especially cold but we've been breaking records (highs) for the past week and it definitely feels like Spring!   It doesn't look like Spring yet with brown grass and no leaves but that will come eventually.   We've been to the dog park every day this week.   We were stepping over (and occasionally into) mud puddles at first but they have dried up now.   Zak had great fun playing with this 12 week old Siberian Husky last week, and the last two times we've been to the park, he has had a blast racing a one year old Pit Bull along the fence line.    I won't let my dogs play in a pen with Pit Bulls but with a fence between them - well, they've both had great fun and I've been amazed that Zak can totally keep up with Chole!

Dan and Zak
My brother Dan was here (all the way from China) last week and Scarlett and Zak had so much fun with him.   I think it was mutual.   We're looking forward to a few more times together with Dan before he has to return in August.  

Dan and Scarlett
Yesterday would have been Princess' 16th birthday.   I miss her so much - especially this time of year, when she went to work with me.   Whenever the temperature was between about 40 and 70, she'd go with me, spend the day in the car (windows open, of course) and we'd go for a walk and share lunch together.    Sweet girl - great memories.

Finally, THIS is where Zak lies when he wants to play (which is most of the time) or otherwise, just wants my attention.   Yes, I know that sitting at a desk would solve the problem, but I've always preferred sitting on the floor.   He's too smart for his own good, but I did manage to get the upper hand this week.    He's too big to be left in a kennel for nine hours a day, but I don't want him having the full run of the house yet either.   My bedroom door has a very weak latch and he's been able to get it open.    I finally figured out a solution.  I attach a bungy cord to the outside doorknob, stretch it across the hall and attach the other end to the bathroom door.   It works like a charm, so now he and Scarlett can play in the bedroom during the day when I'm at work.   I put up things like dried flowers and boxes of kleenex (his favorite thing to destroy) and leave toys in the room for them.    So far there has been no damage and no accidents.  A Mom couldn't be more proud.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Snow - Better Late than Never!

It's interesting that I started that last post commenting on how cold January was, because right about that time, we began an extended warm spell.   January thaws typically last one or two days around here.  This one lasted two full weeks.   It was wonderful!    But the little bit of snow we had quickly disappeared and for the past month, it's looked like more like early Spring than mid-Winter.   That all changed this week.   We finally got a couple of good snowfalls (nothing compared to Boston, mind you!) and a push of Arctic air behind it.   We usually have at least a few winter days with sub-zero highs, and we're in a stretch of that now.   On top of that, the wind has been pretty fierce so it is REALLY cold!   This morning, after shoveling two inches of fresh snow that had blown itself into a concrete drift in the driveway, the puppies and I played in the yard for about an hour.   I've found a great toy for playing in the snow.   It's called a Hol-ee ball and it's large enough, and light weight enough, that it doesn't disappear in a snowdrift.  In the house, I put a Milkbone in it, and it provides entertainment and mental exercise for about an hour.




  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Man of the House


January has been a quiet month; cold - and not much snow.   We got about an inch one day last week and Scarlett was so excited.   She tore around the yard, burying her head in it and popping up with a smile.    This, my girl from Alabama!   Go figure!

Zak and I play with his ball every evening in the living room.    If he's feeling neglected, he will lay his head down on my laptop or drop his ball on the keyboard!  He's loving and well behaved and charms everyone.   Hasn't had an 'accident' in the house in about six months now.   So nice to have that behind us!    I saw an ad online, featuring a corgi and some houndstooth merchandise.    Since I love houndstooth, myself, I decided to do a photo shoot of Zak with some of my stuff.    He sat so nicely for me while I snapped about a dozen pictures!   Pretty handsome boy, if I do say so! 


We hope that everyone had a good Christmas.   I was in Michigan with my brothers, and we had a great week together - although a rather large wet blanket was thrown over our Christmas Eve when I learned that my dog care provider, back home, had bailed on us!  Thank goodness for neighbors who, in spite of having a small house and both having to work, were willing to step up to the plate.   They are the best!

I have a four day weekend coming up and it's supposed to be in the 30's!   Around here, that is warm - especially in January!    We look forward to some good romps in the park.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

In memory ....

In Memory of Princess Isabella
March 14, 1999 - December 4, 2014 



I am grateful to the staff of the Casselton Veterinary Clinic for their professionalism and compassion this week.   There is no easy way to let a pet go, but they certainly made it an infinitely better experience than I had with Dee Dee.   I am at peace with the decision, and grateful that I was able to hold Princess throughout the procedure.   She died in my arms, and the veterinarian and tech sat with us for another 20 minutes and we chatted about our dogs and the love they bring into our lives. That meant the world to me. 

This week marks the end of the "Princess, Dee Dee and Elvis era".   The memories of the times we shared with all three dogs are precious.   So much life happens in the span of fifteen years.  Princess was with me through upheaval at work, through the loss of my parents, through other changes in my family and in my own life.  For fifteen years she slept pressed against the small of my back.   I can hardly remember life without her.  

I look at Scarlett and Zak now and try to imagine what they will be like in 12-13 years .... what memories we will make together and what those years will bring.  I'll be in my 70's (yikes!!), retired, quite possibly living in some other place.   Dogs are amazing creatures.   They know more than we realize .... and they love unconditionally.   I have marveled at that over the years.   I shudder to think of how many mornings I was running late and snapped at Princess and Dee Dee or failed to give them the attention they needed.  And yet when I came home at the end of the day, they were at the door to greet me - butts wagging, so happy to see me; and I, them.   

I miss Princess terribly.   She brought more joy into my life than I would have believed possible.   She was my first corgi, and the reason I got the others.   She changed my life, and I will always be grateful.    Rest in peace, sweet girl.   You are forever in my heart. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Princess, at the age of 15-3/4 years, has lived an extraordinarily long and wonderful life.   Our veterinarian gave me the supreme compliment at her wellness check in October when she said  "You've taken such good care of her."   I hope it's true.   Princess was my first corgi, and the one who made me fall in love with the breed.  Just like first time parents, you cut your teeth on your first puppy and learn as you go.   I'm sure I made some mistakes, but it wasn't for lack of love.   I adored my girls, and only hope Scarlett and Zak have lives that are just as good.

Sleeping in the car
The past few weeks have been tough for Princess.    We've had a cold start to the winter, she gets the chills when she goes outside and needs help going up and down the steps.   She drinks so much water and of course that means she has to go outside a lot too.   The puppies are rambunctious and bother her.   This Fall she went to work with me most every day but now that it's gotten cold, she can no longer do that.    She adores my neighbors and loves to go to their house.   But those trips are more difficult with the onset of winter.    Her digestive system has been upset, her back hurts and her legs are no longer stable.   It's time to say goodbye.

Princess with our neighbors, Mike and Gina


On Thursday, my neighbors will accompany us to our veterinary clinic in Casselton where we will help her cross the Rainbow Bridge.   Unlike Dee Dee, who passed in an unfamiliar place with a doctor we'd never met, Princess will have our wonderful Dr. Schmid, and Casselton has a special room, quiet and peaceful, just for this journey.   I anticipate that it will be a bit easier than it was with Dee Dee.    Princess is almost three years older and I have no doubt that it is time.

Princess and Susan
But the ache in my heart is still horrific.   Ever since the decision was made last week, I've had intermittent waves of grief.   Not one to cry in front of others, I've savored the moments we've had together at home.   But Princess is not just my dog.   Dee Dee was very attached to me and didn't even want to leave the house without me.   But Princess has so many, many friends.   And because of that, I've needed to let them say goodbye.   So, since Saturday, we've have a number of different friends stop over.   Princess has enjoyed tummy rubs and special treats, although I've maintained pretty tight control over that because I don't want her to have a tummy upset in her final days.   On Sunday, our friend Susan Lenthe took these wonderful photos of us together.    They will bring comfort in the weeks ahead.  Tonight I will bury my head in her back, memorize her smell and allow my tears to fall on her fur ... I will linger ... I will treasure these last two evenings together.   She will always be my PRINCESS.