Sep 232015
 

So, the astute among you may have noticed that although this is the Wordplay Blog, ostensibly with a major in Wordplay stuff (that would be me, my books, the dogs, blah blah blah) and a minor in Write Horse stuff (that would be Patty Wilber, who blogs fun horsie stuff on Fridays), the recent content has been all Write Horse and no Wordplay.

I do normally lag in the summer time–that’s about how the Lyme disease gives me grief in the heat.  Just never to this extent.  And I don’t honestly know if I’m ready to re-emerge and start blogging again.  July was a month that never should have existed, and from which it might take quite a while to recover.  Illness, loss, office disaster, conflict, and depression, all on the most profound levels.  It is to suck.

But it’s also past time to poke my head up just long enough to say:

THANK YOU, PATTY!

I’ve so enjoyed reading your Write Horse adventures here, and it’s meant everything to me to know that the blog has been chugging away without me.

Three cheers and huzzah!

 

Jun 082015
 

by Doranna

0711.connery.teeter.LJTell you what. I am so sick of other people being all up in my business. Trying to control my personal decisions about my dogs when it comes to spay/neuter, collars, car crating…

For one thing, no matter how much outside micromanagement occurs, the irresponsible people who inspire the micromanagement are still irresponsible, while the rest of us pay the price.

For another, to manage our dogs to their best benefit it takes thoughtful understanding of the individual circumstances–and the ability to make choices accordingly.

Something we’re allowed in increasingly short supply these days.

My Beagles are pro-choice boys when it comes to neutering. That doesn’t mean being fervently on one side or the other…it means understanding the pros and cons of the choices and factoring in our household, our resources, and the individual dogs. And then doing what’s best for them.

Most of my online friends know that I never had any intention of neutering 5yo Dart. I mean, why would I even consider it, when there are so many studies pointing to the health consequences?*

*(That’s the usual discussion for another time. Or go Google for studies rather than opinions. It’s not hard to find the information. Here’s a brief but far from complete start.)

Anyway, this choice thing goes both ways, so I respect that circumstances sometimes make neutering seem the most responsible decision in spite of the health consequences. But for us it very much isn’t.

Wasn’t.

Things do change.

In Dart’s life, too much changed, too persistently. He lost his older sister Belle Cardigan. He gained a new older sister in Rena Beagle who turned out to have escalating, chronic health issues. Then after a series of struggles, he lost that sister, too. He gained a younger brother in Mickey Cat, who was as much a part of his life as any of us. Then Mickey Cat was badly injured; the stress and recovery affected them all. Then–and all this as Dart was heading for his prime while older brother Connery aged into graceful Unclehood–he gained his younger brother Tristan Beagle. And then, finally, almost a year after losing Rena…

He lost his beloved Mickey Cat. Sad and sudden.

Dart was born a hyper-vigilant and over-stimulated dog. He was struggling even before we lost Mickey–too many changes, too much assumed responsibility on the shoulders of the pack’s only intact adult male.

Mickey’s loss pushed things over the edge. By early spring, Dart was constantly hackled, walking around on his toes with a growl in his throat. Suddenly we were actively managing to prevent an always-imminent explosion. And the worst part?

Dart knew it. Knew he was acting out, knew he was causing trouble, and was miserable with it.   Herbal calming options didn’t work. GABA-based options didn’t work. Valerian put him to sleep, which I suppose worked in its way, but not in a quality-of-life way.

So we had a family discussion and then I talked to his breeder, who is wonderful for all the right reasons and knows exactly the oddity that is Dart, and within moments the decision was made.

dart.vulture.220Within a week, the deed was done.

Because while neutering most certainly won’t change ill-manners or learned behaviors, it can help an over-reactive dog. And while I did consider medication–in fact, the $$amitriptyline$$ still sits unused on my counter–I wasn’t quite ready to try it without exploring all other options.

It’ll take six months from surgery for Dart to settle into his new steady state, but the changes are already obvious. The pack runs together again, needing no special management at meal times, bed times, or transition times. Dart and Tristan play together with abandon, and Dart doesn’t flail into reactivity when they do.

For this dog, this time of his life, it was the right thing to do.

dart.heel.313It’s up to all of us to make the best possible decisions as we go along, factoring in not the shame culture that now imbues the spay/neuter discussion and not the fact that Family Smith down the road isn’t able or interested in responsibly handling an intact dog, but based on what we know and actively continue learning about dog health/behavior, and on our own individual dogs.

Along the way, people who aren’t us need to stop thinking that they are, and need to stop trying to force and shame us into decisions that aren’t in the best interests of our specific circumstances. They should make the best decisions for them.

As for me, I’ll go on supporting everyone’s ability to make their own choice. That includes spreading the word about the health consequences of neutering, talking up sterilization instead of neuter, and yes, supporting low-cost S/N. And then I’ll stay out of other people’s business while they make their choices, and thank them to stay out of mine.

Mar 232015
 

mk.0917As soon as I saw Mr. McKittypants, I knew he would break my heart.

(No.  Not quite yet.  But he’s working on it.)

He came to us young–a born feral, behavior modification flunk-out—an unadoptable cat.  We needed a barn hunter and we’d already lost one feral who couldn’t adjust to her new location, so we had no intention of considering this one to be family.

HA HA HA. Continue reading »

Nov 172014
 

by Doranna

cb.dart.visiting.848My lesson for the month: Plans mutate.

(Probably my lesson for life, but let’s just stick with the month.)

I’d intended to blog about the treadmill thing again today, especially in the wake of my aggravated feet.

Then again, this fall I’d also intended to adopt a socialization-resistant kitten as a barn cat (yes, this cat sleeping here on my office chair), get caught up on my paperwork, get a book started/finished before the end of the year, target completion of Connery’s PACH title, and figure out how to relax when it was time to relax.

And in the really big picture, I once thought to keep beating my head against traditional publishing until I finally found where I fit.

One thing at a time, I guess.

In any event, I’m not writing about the treadmill thing today.  Because things change, and yesterday I went tracking, and as it happens the tracking was all about things changing.

(The meta here is just killing me.)

Continue reading »

Nov 122014
 

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to submit a story to editor Becky Kyle for the anthology Tails from the Front Lines.  Hard to resist, when the proceeds are slated for donation to TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior).

Right.  Service dogs for our wounded, whether physically or emotionally or both.  So I was very happy when I got the word that Just Hanah would be part of the anthology.  And naturally I was curious as to how it all came about, so…I asked!  And discovered that I’m not the only one out there who’s still a hippy-era kid at heart…


Becky:

I was a hippie-era kid. At twelve, I wanted to go to Woodstock. I protested Viet Nam. Every few months, we got word another soldier was gone. As I got into high school, my male classmates worried about what they’d do after graduation and if their number would be called.

Around that time, we stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I still stood, still held my hand over my heart, but I couldn’t speak a word of it. Most everyone had a friend, a family member, even a brother who’d done to war and didn’t come back.

Already, I felt like I was stuck in a dystopia.  I was sixteen and there had never been a time my country wasn’t at war.

The one thing I never did was blame the troops. None of them approved the Declaration of War or signed it. They just went to war when our country called them to.

Years later, when I was in Library School, I got involved with the Operation Paperback collections. From there, I started sending care packages to the troops as an extra Christmas present. In 2003, when a friend’s husband went to Iraq with only one pair of underwear and socks, we took up a collection to get him and his men the supplies they needed. It’s nothing heroic—it’s just saying thanks for an often thankless job.

A year ago, my phone rang. My husband answered it, covered the mouthpiece, and said:

“It’s Cindy, you should answer this.”

My heart fluttered. Cindy is an ER nurse in Indiana. She’s funny, good-hearted, and one of the most unflappable people I know.  When I got on the phone, Cindy was sobbing. It took a bit for her to calm down enough to be coherent.

The son of one of one of her fellow nurses, twenty-two years old and just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan two weeks before, had shot himself. What was worse was that his Dad’s firefighter company had been to the ones to transport him to the ER.

Every emergency worker who tended this young man as he died knew him. They watched him grow up. They cheered when he did well and they were all grateful when he came home safe and seemingly unharmed.

The only good that came of this tragedy was that the young man had signed an organ donation card. Doctors and nurses who knew him performed the last surgeries on him and sent the organs to new homes where they’d save lives.

By the time Cindy was done, I was sobbing.

Being a research nerd, I started looking into veteran suicides. What I didn’t know was that twenty-two soldiers killed themselves every day.

This was more than books and underwear. I had to do something.

I’d been reading about therapy dogs and how much they assisted soldiers with PTSD. An animal can get a soldier outside and into the world again without feeling alone. The presence of a dog can literally reduce their prescribed medicines by half.  I found TADSAW (Train a Dog, Save a Warrior) online and was highly impressed that they got many of their dogs from shelters or used the warrior’s own pet to train.

It was sheer luck that I mentioned wanting to do something to the right person, Carol Hightshoe, publisher/editor at Wolfsinger Press. Carol was onboard quicker than I could have imagined. While I have served as part of the editorial staff for several venues, I never expected to have only my name on the masthead. Carol was wonderful to provide support and helpful hints whenever I needed them.

Tails from the Front Lines became available on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2014. The anthology is comprised of twelve short stories written by well-known veteran authors to two first-time publications.  They cover everything from fantasy realms to the future. Best of all, proceeds will go to TADSAW to help provide soldiers with companions who will help them re-enter society and lessen their chances of falling into despair.


Tailsfromthefrontlinescover.144So yeah. Becky didn’t do it, but I’m going to.  The anthology is freshly available at Amazon (including a trade paperback version) and Nook.

Meanwhile, I’ve got the happies.  It’s cool to have the opportunity to help!

Nov 032014
 

0711.connery.teeter.LJAs one part of Connery Beagle’s Overcoming Very Bad Luck Journey through this life, he was given steroids through his adolescence.  This wasn’t particularly good for his developing tendons and ligaments.

We shifted him to Atopica as soon as it became an option, and then he was getting prednisone on the side as necessary.  But when he was 3 ½, after the final attack by yet another dog four times his size and amidst various other trauma, he went into a cortisol crisis with many ramifications and was declared off-limits to steroids.

Fast forward to another big part of the journey when he was seven.  Skipping the details (because there are so many of them), he ended up on a doggy inhaler.  These steroid drugs were not supposed to be systemic, so were thought to be okay. Continue reading »

Aug 112014
 

by Doranna

1375930515977128357Coloured question marks.svg.medI know, I know.  It’s been a while since anyone saw me on this blog.  Even though it’s ostensibly my own blog.  Patty keeps regularly chugging forth on the Write Horse Fridays, and yet from me…silence.

Usually I’m pretty decent about regular blogging–once a week, sometimes twice.  There’s always something new going on with the dogs, always something to chat about with the writing.  Because hey!  Me = opinionated.  Just ask me.

But now and then the universe proffers a butt-kick of the sort that throws everything out of whack. Continue reading »

Jun 092014
 

by Doranna

rena.1062.SMPeople have lately been asking me about Rena Beagle.  How she is, why I’ve not said much about her.

I’ve been bound to leave you, we’ve known that for awhile…

I’ve told them that she’s on hiatus from agility (where we finished her Open and Excellent titles last year) and she’s been playing rally when she feels well enough.  In fact she earned her Rally Advanced a month ago and even got her first Excellent leg, very close to the year-anniversary of her arrival here.  I danced about it here on the blog, too.

I’m sure it’s something I can’t do if I can’t leave you with a smile…

But the blog isn’t real life.  There are a lot of things that go unsaid, because they’re complicated.  Like the fact that Rena’s journey from her past mom to her now mom (me) triggered  hidden health issues, and I’ve been dealing with them since the day she got here–just over a year ago, now.

 I don’t know how far I’ll have to go ’til I’m sure those eyes won’t cry…

At first we thought a change of thyroid meds protocol would sort her out.  And it did, for a couple of months.  But then the rhinitis broke through.  And the spay incontinence.  And the chronic dehydration, and the painful pottying, and and AND.  After another seven months of exacting and expensive efforts, we thought we’d gotten all that sorted out, too.

And in my mind I’ve left enough to know that I can’t leave you
With a bad goodbye.

And then I found a way  to get her fully hydrated, and I put her on Transfer Factors, and within a week I was getting glimpses of the dog I knew Rena had once been.  Cheerful and silly and fun.  What a delight!

DSC_0459-(ZF-3928-01989-2-003).700

But there was another side of that coin: It told me exactly how unhappy and uncomfortable she’d been.

And a third side of that coin: I was excruciatingly aware of the delicate balance of keeping her healthy, happy, and comfortable.  I knew that at some point, we would learn whether we’d caught and stopped the various processes at work in her body, or simply bought a little time.

So I’ve been watching.  But it still took me by surprise when the change of season…mattered.

Apparently, it matters a lot.

Oh, there are details.  And developments. Things that came up suddenly over the weekend, bringing tears and denial and slow acceptance.

In truth, there’s no single thing going on with Rena Beagle that it isn’t possible to overcome, either for me or for her.  But in aggregate, they are an enlarging mountain.  And meanwhile I’m watching her fall apart, piece by piece, right before my eyes.

It’s the other side of the coin again.

And in my mind I’ve left enough to know that I can’t leave you
With a bad goodbye.

A bad goodbye, for me and mine, is one that comes too late.  One that drags on.  One that would rather watch a little princess dog fall apart piece by piece than do the necessary thing.

And any way I look, I've only seen that I can't leave you With a bad goodbye.


And any way I look, I’ve only seen that I can’t leave you
With a bad goodbye.

Today I do the necessary thing.

(“A Bad Goodbye,” Clint Black)