Thankful for Zen

Happy Puppy

Bogie and Ducky knew exactly what we both needed in a puppy. Their little brother is sweet, adorable, and precious. He is active and curious, and all. over. the. place! He keeps us – mostly me – busy.

He’s not much of a snuggler yet, but that’s okay. He prefers the coolness of the kitchen floor to the warmth of the living room carpet, and apparently my lap as well. But he did oblige me with a short snuggle session on Monday afternoon.

My Baby Snugglebuddy

This little boy has been living up to his name. He runs around like a little Tasmanian devil, but he’s still calm. He makes me smile, he makes me laugh, and he expands my heart with his puppy kisses.

Happy 10th Birthday Ducky! 🎂🎉❤️🐾

Oh my sweet baby girl, where have the years gone?! It seems like only yesterday when I first met you at the shelter!

Baby Ducky

And a couple of months later, you came home with me for good and changed all our lives forever.

You loved Callie and Shadow, and wanted to play constantly. You pestered the bejeepers out of them both; and were constantly getting into tussles with Shadow over one toy or another. Callie did her best to teach you good doggie manners, but for a while we wondered if you were paying attention.

My sweet girls

On Shadow’s birthday a month later, we started taking you to doggie daycare (thank you, Sabine, for the recommendation). Shadow said it was the best birthday present we could have given her. 😁 Callie was grateful for the break, too.

When Callie left us three years later, you were as heartbroken as Daddy, Shadow and I were but you got us through it. Especially Shadow. You became her friend and constant companion. You still tussled with her over toys at times; but you showed us that you had been paying attention to Callie all those times. You stayed by Shadow’s side when she was so sick at the end. You “protected” her in the yard, and gave her kisses on the head at times.

I love you, Shadow

After Shadow reunited with Callie, you helped Daddy and I heal. You needed a playmate, though, so we fostered Radar with all intention of adopting him. You two hit it off right from the start. Not just sister and brother, but best and most special friends.

Best Friends

When Radar left us to join Callie and Shadow, we were all devastated. You looked for your buddy constantly, and the sadness in your eyes when you couldn’t find him tore my heart apart. Yet, as you had when your sisters went ahead, you pulled Daddy and me through it.

When we brought Bogie home last year, you weren’t sure what to make of him. We had promised you another brother to play with, but I’m not sure you were quite ready for an 8-week-old puppy. You soon found out what “karma” is, even though you don’t understand me when I tell you.

That’s MY toy, Bogie.

You’ve come full circle, little girl. You started out your life with us as the little sister who was a constant pest. And, until a few weeks ago, you were the older sister who tolerated a much younger sibling’s constant pestering.

Once again you’re an only dog, trying to help Daddy and Mama to heal from yet another devastating loss. And missing your favorite pest. It has taken you all this time to realize Bogie’s not coming home in his earthly form. You still look for him at times. Or maybe you sense his spirit is here with us, wanting to play with and love on us and to be loved on.

We love you Ducky. We love you to the moon and back. We love you more than any words could ever express. You’re our sweet baby girl, our princess, our earth angel with paws instead of wings. You’re our precious, loving, sweet senior puppy.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LITTLE GIRL!!!!

Just Ducky

Since Bogie joined our little family, Ducky’s hardly had any posts of her own. So, here goes.

Just watching the world go by.
Hi Mom!
Worn out after a wrestling match with baby brother.
My turn in Mom’s chair!

This little girl has been, still is, and will always be my rock, my earth angel, my canine soulmate, and my sweet baby girl. She helps me with Bogie, tells me when “Dex” is lurking in the shadows somewhere, and knows me better than I know myself sometimes.

I love you to the end of the universe and back, sweet girl. And I always will. ❤️❤️

Saturday Morning Crazies

Just figured I’d share some of the shenanigans that were going on this morning.

And then this ….

These two hooligans keep us laughing, that’s for sure. They’re also going to make us both deaf one of these days. 🤣

I realized I haven’t posted anything in a while, so it’s time to share the growing friendship between Ducky and her baby brother. Yeah, she still gets jealous and snarky; but she’s playing with him more than grumbling at him.

Happy Birthday Ducky!!!

Where have the years gone??!!

Ducky at 5 months, Foster Weekend

When we adopted you from the shelter, you were a little demon. Sweet to us and Callie, but you tormented Shadow almost constantly. Thank goodness Callie knew just what to do to keep you in line. And then daycare helped you work off some of that excess puppy energy.

Callie was on alert to prevent argument between her younger sisters

Fast forward some years and Callie had gone ahead to be our guardian angel. I wondered if you would ever stop tormenting poor Shadow. You did, for the most part. Callie must have told you to be a good girl. 🤣

Sisters at last

Then a few years later, when Shadow was sick and hurting, you stayed right by her side nearly 24/7 until we all said goodbye. Just before she left us to reunite with Callie you gave her a sweet goodbye kiss on her head.

Then there was your most special friend and foster brother, Radar. He was here for such a short time, but you two were best friends from the start.

A rare quiet moment between the 2 hooligans

When Radar left us, we were all devastated. As with Callie and Shadow, you kissed him goodbye just before he left to join your sisters. It took a while for you to accept that your buddy was here with you in spirit only. And that made it harder for me to adjust; but somehow the three of us helped each other get through another devastating loss.

I promised you – a few days after Radar left – that when the time was right, Daddy and I would find you a new friend, another brother. I asked Radar to help his sisters find us another Golden Boy for us all to love. Now I can tell you we’ve been working on fulfilling that promise.

My “little black demon dog” of 2012 has grown into my little earth angel of 2020 and beyond.

HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY DUCKY!!!! We love you sweetie!!!!

Happy Girl!!

ACE Free Work, Ducky & Me

*ACE stands for Animal Centred Education, and is a program conceived and built from the ground up by a British gal by the name of Sarah Fischer.

To greatly simplify and shorten a long and complicated story, Sarah has been doing free work with many different animals for several years in an attempt to find reasons for their unwanted behavior, including reactivity and/or sensitivity to many things, people, and other animals. She also uses Tellington TTouch body work to introduce handling but ACE includes Free Work and detailed observations which give clues to a dog’s sensitivities. 

I first learned  about ACE and Free Work from my friend, Janet Finlay, who owns and operates Canine Confidence Academy in the U.K. and provides online learning as well as person-to-person workshops (up until the pandemic shutdown and will start again as mitigation makes it possible). I’ve taken several of Janet’s online courses over the years since we adopted Ducky, including the current (ongoing) one – Your End of the Lead 2.0 (an updated version of her original course by the same name) – to help me deal with Ducky’s reactivity. The courses also include private communities/forums where those of us taking the course can share our videos and stories without fear of judgment and form valuable alliances with other guardians of reactive dogs.

In some ways, Free Work for dogs is similar to beginner nose work; but instead of hiding treats, you put them in full view of the dog. Generally, we use a variety of surfaces, enrichment toys, etcetera, as the “course” layout so that the dog gets sensory information through its feet, nose, eyes, ears, etc.  Once the course is set up, you invite the dog to explore it.

If possible, video the session (so you can watch later to pick up on those things you might miss) while the dog is exploring and getting the treats and observe her/his movement and posture, noting things that they like, nervous system responses, preferences (with respect to the direction they move in, objects they interact with, etc). Don’t include items in the course that you know are concerning to the dog, or remove an item if the dog appears to be wary of it. And, importantly, observe without any expectations as to the outcome.  (Believe me, that last part takes some practice!)

The great thing about Free Work is that you don’t have to buy any special equipment – you can use whatever items you already own. And you can lay out just one or two items, or four or five, with enough room for the dog to move freely around them. (If your dog is super sensitive or tentative to her/his environment, it’s probably better to start with only one or two items so as not to overwhelm them.)

For Ducky, I needed a space where I could give her the freedom of eating her breakfast away from the main source of her anxiety – her “Daddy”. And, because she was so anxious at times that she wouldn’t eat out of her regular food bowl, I got out some different lickimats that I’ve purchased over the last couple of years. At first I just laid out the lickimats on the floor of my “office”. Then I experimented with different heights – like a 12-pack of toilet paper, an overturned Amazon box, and an agility cone (with the lickimat bowl inverted over it). Over the last several months, this has become Ducky’s preferred way to eat her breakfast. 

The ACE Free Work not only gave me a way to relieve Ducky’s morning anxieties enough for her to eat; but it also gave me a learning opportunity. While observing her movement around the room via the videos I posted, several of my course mates (and Janet) started picking up on clues that she had some definite areas of bodily discomfort. When those clues were pointed out to me – in addition to the clues I was picking up on myself – I saw something that greatly concerned me: that Ducky might have cruciate disease in her left hind leg. As you know from an earlier post, that didn’t turn out to be the case; but she does have dysplasia in her left hip and we now have options for relieving and managing the pain.

So, with all that said, if you’re interested in learning more about ACE Free Work, I suggest checking out Sarah Fisher’s website: http://www.tilleyfarm.org.uk.  There is a private group on Facebook, as well, called “ACE Connections” that you can ask to join.

My Sweet Earth Angel

That’s exactly what Ducky is to me. An Earth Angel. She has seen me through the loss of her two older sisters and her slightly younger brother.

She’s a happy, sweet girl most of the time. And a sassy, loving girl all of the time.

She misses having a playmate; but there’s no doubt she thrives on being the center of our attention.

Ducky owns a huge piece of my heart. She’s my baby girl, my little sweetie, my sassy-pants, my little stinker, my “Ducky Doodle Demon Dog” and lord-only-knows how many other nicknames.

I love this little girl wholeheartedly and unconditionally. And I thank God every day for letting me be her “HuMom”. ❤️❤️❤️

Gone Too Soon

Hubby, Ducky and I are devastated. Our sweet foster boy has gone ahead. He joined our family on October 4th and on December 7th he joined Callie and Shadow in Heaven. Sweet, loving Radar. Ducky’s best doggie friend and brother. She loved Callie and Shadow dearly; but Radar was her most special friend. He tolerated her antics and she willingly shared her toys and our attention with him.

He was our boy. He was our first-ever male dog, our friend. He was an equal-opportunity lover boy. He loved hubby and me equally.

He learned quickly that “Daddy” is the soft touch and buddy; and “Mommy” is the cook, nurse, teacher, nurturer, and friend.

Radar fit into our little family perfectly. He was gentle with Ducky, played with her, shared his toys with her, gave her space when she was feeling “snarky”, and let her get attention from us when she felt neglected.

He loved us humans equally. He loved to stand, sit or lay down between our chairs so we could both pet him at the same time. Loving on him was therapeutic for both of us. And he knew he had his “fur-ever” home and family. He trusted us and we trusted him. I had plans to work with him to earn his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title after he finished his heartworm treatments. And possibly therapy certifications. He had the perfect personality/temperament for both.

Our boy is gone. Our special boy, Ducky’s most special friend. Ducky is as heartbroken as we are. The price of love.

Radar will always be in our hearts. Our love for him and his for us will help us help each other to heal. Ducky, hubby, and I will heal. Radar’s spirit – like Kissy’s, Callie’s and Shadow’s spirits – will always be nearby. He and the girls will watch over us. They will send us another friend to love and welcome into the family when the time is right.

Introducing Ducky’s Foster Brother, Radar

As of last Friday (October 4th), we have a new Golden Retriever in the family.

He’s a sweet, equal-opportunity loverboy.

He was found as a stray about two months ago. The lady who found him spent three days trying, unsuccessfully, to find this handsome boy’s owner. No tags, no microchip, no known owner. So, our local breed rescue took him in, vetted him, and placed him with a foster.

The poor boy’s fur was so matted that he had to be shaved down to the skin. The fur has been growing back, though he does still have some bald areas.

And he tested positive for heart worms. He was settling into his first foster home when his foster had to leave town indefinitely. This sweet boy was being boarded at the veterinary hospital that cares for all this rescue’s charges.

The volunteer coordinator called us last Tuesday, we met Radar on Wednesday morning, and on Friday afternoon I picked him up.

When Radar first saw my hubby on Wednesday morning, it was as though they had known each other all of the dog’s life. Radar practically did a Snoopy happy dance! He was barking and wagging his tail and bouncing around happily. Sorry, no photo of the bouncy boy, but here he is with hubby.

And here’s one of Radar giving me the happy paw.

And one where he and Ducky met each other. Ducky was so good! No growling, grumbling, or snarling. Just polite sniffing. The way Callie taught her so many years ago.

Once Radar’s heartworm treatments are complete and he tests negative, we will have first dibs on adopting him.

This boy is Heaven-sent. Callie and Shadow found him for us and intervened in his foster home placement. He’s a very handsome boy; and he’s a perfect fit for our little family. He’s the boy hubby and I need, the brother and friend Ducky needs, and we’re the permanent family he needs.

Some months ago a friend posted something on Facebook that asked her gal pals – in essence – “if you had to choose between a man and a dog, which breed would you choose?” My answer was “a male Golden Retriever that I could name Radar because he would instinctively know what’s about to happen. Just like my favorite character on my favorite tv show of all time, M*A*S*H.” That was only a few weeks after Shadow had been reunited with Callie. I wasn’t ready for another dog, not even a Golden. And Ducky wasn’t ready yet either. She missed Shadow, but she was enjoying all the extra attention from hubby and me.

Back in July I decided I was ready. And Ducky was ready. I think hubby was ready a week or two after Shadow had gone ahead.

On August 3rd, our local Golden Retriever rescue group had a meet and greet at the nearby Petco store. Hubby and I went and turned in our adoption application. In September, a volunteer called to schedule our home visit. We thought we were in for a long wait, so we relaxed and continued spoiling Ducky with extra love. I knew that when the time was right, Callie and Shadow would send us the right dog. Our angel girls know exactly what we need.

As I write this post Radar has been with us for two and a half days. Hubby and I love him already. This boy is so sweet, so easy-going, so gentle. And happy. That tail seems to wag constantly, sometimes even when he’s asleep. He seems to be “settling in” pretty easily. He loves Ducky, though Ducky’s not quite sure about him yet. She will be in time. At least he shrugs off her grumpy moments. And gives her a look like “what-ever” as he gives her some space. I think they’ll eventually be great friends as well as siblings.

Seven Years and Counting

Oh, Ducky! Seven years ago today I found your name (and photo) on the shelter’s super urgent list in the morning, and by 1 PM you were officially a member of our little family.

Seven years ago today, my life – and your Daddy’s, Callie’s, and Shadow’s lives – changed forever. I had no way of knowing then what it would be like raising a shelter pup. I started thinking you’d be better off with a different family; but then you spent a day at doggie daycare and your demeanor improved so much that I couldn’t give up on you.

Callie helped me so much with you. So did Maria and the other girls at A Dog’s Day Out. Daycare was great for you. It taught you how to get along with other dogs, helped you spend all that turbo-charged energy, and gave you some socialization time, too. And it gave Callie and Shadow a needed break from your rowdy puppy playfulness. As well as the quiet time together and with me that they cherished, that I cherished.

You were a little stinker. Always wanting to leave Shadow out of your fun with Callie. But Callie didn’t let you.

And that awful morning when we had to say goodbye to Callie. You gave her puppy kisses that said “I love you, sis.” And your attitude toward Shadow started to improve. Callie had taught you well.

You had your spats with Shadow over the next 3-1/2 years, but you always made up with her. And when I was at Uncle Doug’s house last year, you were a good girl for Daddy. Then, when Shadow got sick in February, you watched over her for me, along with Callie. You were always right there, keeping her company whenever we had to go out. And you looked for her that weekend when she was at the hospital. And that horrible Monday when we said goodbye to Shadow, you “protected” her in the exam room. And you kissed her, as you had Callie.

You’ve been my and Daddy’s rock since Shadow reunited with Callie. I don’t know what we would have done without you, especially those first few weeks. I know you’re fine on your own in the house when Daddy and I have to leave you for a time; but I miss you from the minute we leave to the minute we get home. If I could, I would take you every place I go, just so you wouldn’t have to be alone in the house. But, then you’re not really alone during those times. Callie and Shadow are here with you, in spirit, watching over you for me.

Ducky, you are definitely one of a kind! You exasperate me, you push my patience to its limits, and you make me question my sanity at times. BUT you are sweet, loving, fun, silly, challenging, and precious all wrapped up in one 30-pound package. And every day I thank God I adopted you from the shelter that warm September afternoon seven years ago!