Monday, March 24, 2008

Oh Boy Oh Boy: Sunshine!

We finally have happy campers here. :o)

After what has felt like months of gray skies and drizzle (or downright downpours), we've had a couple of days of SUNSHINE, which means...

the canine gang gets to play outside (lots and lots)!

Whad'ya think? Do they look happy?

And then there's the Boos (aka Baxter, the couch potato).

Mind you, it's only been in the 40s and 50s here (glorious as far as I'm concerned, but chilly for some).

Yet, while the gang is out retrieving with Don and acting like a herd of recently freed lambs, Baxter decides it's just too hot to play.

Poor delicate soul; he needs to cool off in the shade by the front gate:

LOL... what a guy.

'Til next time,
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Retrieving Girls

Elsie loves to retrieve.

Kenya loves to retrieve.

Pinot loves to help Kenya retrieve.

Pinot loves to help Kenya and Elsie retrieve.

As far as they're concerned, the more the merrier! There's plenty of room on a rope for three. :o)

No wonder they call them retrievers!

'Til next time,
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ten Things Labs CANNOT Do!

Those familiar with the Labrador breed know well their incredible aptitude for learning. They're fabulous dogs. They can do just about anything we'd want a canine to do.

When I watch Elsie, for example, open our back door using the brass lever handle (something she figured out on her own) or Ridge "find it" (seek and retrieve a hidden or "lost" dummy), I sometimes wonder if there's anything these faithful friends can't do.

And, of course, that got me thinking (can you smell the smoke?). :o)

Here are ten things most healthy, normal Labs cannot do (or, at least, ours can't do) in no particular order:

1. Remain cool, calm, and collected when they hear the jangle of a training collar or leash being readied for them. OhboyohboyohboyohboyIgettogoforawalkandtrainmyhuman!

2. Ignore a new scent. Anywhere. Anytime. Anyplace. With anyone. In any weather conditions. A Lab version of Dr Suess might be "I like to sniff things in a chair. I like to sniff them in the air. In a rutt or 'neath your butt - especially another mutt. I like to sniff them in a park, I like to sniff them after dark. In a field or in a stream, I even sniff things when I dream. I like to sniff them here or there I like to sniff them everywhere."

3. Be cliquish or aloof. It's just not in them to condescend.

4. Forget the treat you left in your pocket. Don't even try to hide it from them. In fact, if you ever had any doubt about a Lab's memory, show them four treats, put four treats in your pocket, take out and give them three, and then see what they do.

5. Not come when called for dinner.
Not come for food? Are you kidding? Labs are even more food motivated than people.

6. Stay out of mud puddles, streams, ponds, marshes, lakes, swamps, rivers, bays, the ocean or any other natural body of water (note: a bath tub or shower is not a natural water formation).

7. NOT wiggle when they greet you. They just can't contain their joy. :o)

8. Hold a grudge.
Lab are the most forgiving, faithful creatures on the planet. They put humans to shame.

9. Lose hope. Talk about eternal optimists! Have you looked, as in really looked, into your Lab's eyes lately? That's the glint of hope-filled expectation you see there: always hoping; always expecting; always believing; always trusting. What a breed!

10. Grow old or weary in spirit. Labs are the epitome of childlikeness. Even when their bodies grow stiff and slow with age, their hearts still beat with joy-filled abandon and everything-is-new-everyday wonder. How I wish I were more like them.

Well, that's my first ten. I have a boatload more to save for another day. How about you? What CAN'T your Lab do?

'Til next time,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Life Lessons from Labs

Every now and then I take a minute to record what my Lab kids are teaching me. Today, it's that time again.


To get the gist, you can check some of my earlier lesson records (or you can just skip these and read further for today's):

Lessons from our Labs (from May 2005)

Human Canines, Part 2 (from December 2005)

10 More Life Lessons (from March 2007) here it is: More Life Lessons from Labs (March, 2008)

1. It's okay to be vulnerable; in fact, it can grow quite comfortable in time.

2. We don't ever have to let big, dark, hairy things make us flinch (they're usually less harmful than we think).

3. When walking life's roads, we all need traveling companions.

4. We never outgrow our reliance on the generations who came before.

5. Into every life a little rain must fall (see no. 4).

6. When it does, we can wallow aimlessly, or we can look for treasures in the mud (I'm convinced all mud contains at least some treasure somewhere if we look hard enough).

7. And if looking for treasures gets messy, we can shake it off, then dive in again.

8. When we want or need something, we should speak up! It's unfair to expect others to read our minds.

9. Sometimes discomfort is good for us. It's less painful if we submit to it and learn from it than if we fight it.

10. No matter how small we try to make ourselves, no matter how hard we try to hide, we can never quite disappear.

But that's a good thing (see no.1).


'Til next time,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Of Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters

Okay guys (you know, you folks of the male gender) can check out now. ;o)

This entry is a girl thing.

Watching Pinot interact with Kenya and Elsie has gotten me thinking about mothers, daughters, and sisters.The older I get, the more I realize just how important and irreplaceable these relationships really are (don't call me sexist here; I'm saving fathers, brothers, and sons for another discussion).

Regular Reader knows we've had some sizable family yuk going on here since late October.

When my brother's family's stuff hit the fan in late October (the same week, btw, as my twin sister's stuff started here), my dear 84-year-old mother flew out to AZ (yes, that's PA to AZ, and yes, she's 84!) to help my brother and his family get through their crisis.

She thought she'd be gone a week or two and was certain she'd be back by Thanksgiving.

Mom is still there, in AZ, as I write this.

Now, don't get me wrong. She's been absolutely needed in AZ. And still is (looks like she's coming home in April now). And I'm glad for her to be so wanted and needed there in this season of her life.

But I miss her.

I never thought I would. I'm pretty independent and always have been. And we weren't super close while I was growing up (jobs, busyness, etc.) and for most of my adulthood (lived too far away). She moved down here to live near my sister and me five years ago when Dad died. It's only in these recent years that I've begun to know and value her for the wonderful woman she is (instead of just "Mom").

Besides, I have always had my twin sister. Don't ask me to explain the twin thing; it is what it is.

Enter twin sister's family crisis.

We didn't tell Mom about my twin sister's (let's call her TS) crisis until a few weeks ago (the same crisis that started the same week my brother's family's issues started back in October). We kept thinking Mom was coming home and that we wanted to tell her face-to-face.

But it got too long. My sister finally told her over the phone. Of course, as soon as Mom found out what was happening here she wanted to fly back. But if Mom flew back, no one would be there for my bro in AZ. So Mom stayed.

I've been saying to Mom all along..."it's okay, [insert brother's name] needs you there more; I can be here for [insert TS's name]. Stay as long as you need to. We're okay here."

The problem is, I lied.

What I didn't realize is that I need her.

The stuff with TS's family is killing me (rips my heart out, infuriates me, confuses me, confounds me, grieves me deeply). And TS has all she can do to stay sane and function. For this season (and I hope it's a short season), TS can't be the sister she's always been. It's just too difficult. And though I'm glad to be there for her, and will be forever, and though I love her to pieces and I'm willing to support her however I can, and though she's handling things with incredible dignity, strength, grace, and endurance, I miss the playful "us" TS and I used to be.

(Okay, before you rag on me, I know TS can't be herself right now, nor do I expect her to be -- I just miss my seeester's joy and confidence and creativity and sense of humor and easy-going nature, all of which has been mostly absent since the crisis began -- I despise what this is doing to her. And I know much of her old self will return in time -- the circumstances are just too ugly right now).

I miss her. I miss life before October (should I call that life BO?)(hehe)

And missing her makes me miss Mom all the more.

Here I am, a 47-year-old grown, responsible, mature (well, some would say that... I'm not sure I would), successful (ditto last parentheses), well-adjusted (ditto again), woman. And I miss my mommy.

You know, it's funny. I miss my Dad, too (gone five years now). I saw an older gentleman yesterday who looked a lot like Dad and I started blubbering like a baby (I didn't even cry at Dad's funeral). But that's another story.

What is it about parents and children?

Why is it that when we hurt, we long for people who love us (or loved us long ago), who we think will understand?

When Pinot becomes rattled she doesn't bother Baxter or even Kenya (her best bud in all the world). She scrunches in beside Ridge (canine Dad) or Elsie (canine Mom).

When I'm rattled I first scrunch in next to hubby, but I don't want to stress him too much. And it used to be that when I didn't want to stress him, I'd scrunch in next to TS or Mom. But neither can be here right now.

I wish the stuff with my brother's and sister's families had never happened. I want life BO.

Or maybe it's just that I don't want to need people so much. Maybe we really are more pack animals than we'd care to think.

And, you know, if I think about, I suppose it's okay with me -- this needing people. Being a pack animal has its perks.

At least our laps stay warm when life gets cold!

And, when it's all said and done, I suppose that's better and healthier than managing life alone.

I just wish it didn't hurt so much.

'Til next time,

Joan (yes, that's the real, round me there snuggled in with the girls!)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Picture Fun

Look, guys, I got a BONE!

Look again! I got a BONE! Betcha can't catch me!

If I could just grab that scruff, I'll bet I could catch her!

Yes, that's just a freckle on the end of my nose! Can I go back to sleep now?

Is that food?

Ah...wait a sec, Baxter. You dribbled.

Awwww....Mom! I don't wanna come in from playing in the puddle! Do I have to?

But I really don't want to go back on lead, Dad! Come on, can't I stay off for just a little longer? Please?

Down a little, now, and to the left....yup, yup.....ahhhh....

Who said kids couldn't walk all over their mothers?

Excuse you mind? I'm trying to take a bath here!

There'll be more to come! :o)

'Til next time,

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kenya Joins the Fun! (got more towels?)

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Got Towels?

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Puppy Pinot and Puddles!

Here she is: our puddle-playing Pinot!

'Til next time,

Joan (who has to go throw ANOTHER load of dirty dog towels into the washer because we're going through about 2 loads of muddy towels a day!)
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