Category Archives: Dogs

Debates, Benghazi, Sandy…

Yes… I’ve been a little distracted of late. I’ve only managed to get around to working on Sky for two days since our White Mountain trip. So much has happened, so much to read about in the news: the debates, the election, the continuing, awful revelations about what happened in Benghazi, now Hurricane Sandy.

And boy have I been reading! You’d think I’d be writing about all that I’ve read, especially considering that I got plenty worked up about a lot of it (what happened in Benghazi torqued me the most — and the way the mainstream media’s just ignoring it — you can be sure that if George W. Bush were still in office something like this would be all over the news. But then, if GWB were in office it wouldn’t have happened at all…but still)…  ahem.

Anyway, while I was plenty worked up, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be coherent if I tried to write about it. Especially since I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to it (on account, in part, of all the blogs/news sites I’ve been reading,) and even more, not enough mental energy left when I actually did have the time. It just seemed too hard to sit down and try to describe the event and lay out my thoughts on it when all I wanted to do what howl about it.

Besides all that, I’ve had all the stuff to get caught up from after the trip as well as several social events to take part in and a general chaos around the house as a result of my hubby’s annual deer hunting trip which did not proceed in the normal manner. Usually he goes out, stays there until he gets a deer and returns.

This year he’s had trouble with his hiking boots. First the soles started to come off so he had to come home to get replacements — another, older pair. Those turned out to be too narrow and killed his feet so he had to come home again, for a third set, which also happened to be brand new, but were at least wide enough. This all over a period of several days.

Meanwhile my car’s engine is making funny smells after I drive it, but hubby can’t find anything wrong with it.  And I thought Quigley was coming down with another intestinal infection the other day when he woke me up at 6am to go outside (which he never does) and then, an hour after I brought him back in and went back to bed, he woke me up again, and me being half asleep, decided he just wanted to go bark so I refused, despite his continued whining and putting his head on the bed trying to get my attention. Finally he started throwing up.

Boy, did I fly out of bed then!

Too late. I put him out anyway, but then had the mess to clean up.  😕  Serves me right, I guess. When he deviates from routine, there usually is a good reason and it’s not just to go bark. In fact, he’ll bark just fine in the house; he doesn’t need to go outside to do it.

It’s just that I had been so hoping(determined!) to sleep in that day.

Anyway, his stools were a bit weird that night, but nothing came of it, just another opportunity to decide whether I’d put the matter in the Lord’s hands or try to handle it myself.

There’s been a lot of that lately, but not in ways one can write about in any interesting way.  Still, I did get into the office this afternoon and at least started thinking about Sky again. And I’ve now written this post, such as it is. So that’s a sign that things are finally getting back to normal, too.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write another…

Dogs in the City

I am LOVING this show!  It is so fun, and it’s been very useful as well.

But this last episode with the young bloodhounds, Duke and Daisy, was such a kick. Watching them act like Quigley used to was hilarious (okay, sometimes he still does act like that!). The clip below shows them running across the sofa, which Quigley did once long ago when he was so excited about my hubby coming home.  In fact, that’s when they did it, too.

Duke’s snatching the pillow was typical as well:  The dog guy, Justin, arrives and is talking to the owner and suddenly here comes Duke with the sofa pillow, which means the woman has to break off talking to deal with him. And then he runs under the table with it… ! ROTFL!!!

Yeah. Quigley does that with a sock. Or shoe, or anything he thinks we might value (a paper towel recently used!  Hey, his discriminatory powers aren’t all that great). He trots in while we’re in the middle of watching TV and makes sure we notice, then when we tell him to bring it to us, the game is on.

Just like Duke.

And they are SO gorgeous and cute. The hound pleading look… yeah, we get that one too, the way they kind of wrinkle up their eyebrows while they beg. Quigley, however, does NOT drink from the sink faucet, because I would never turn it on for him. He will drink from the dog water fountain on the walking path — the only one of our dogs to do that.

Anyway, Justin had some suggestions for dealing with various behaviors that I think I’m going to use. The sit/stay for when my guests arrive is the first that I’m going to work on.

Here’s the clip of  just the Duke and Daisy part from last night’s episode: “Duke and Daisy”

 Love it.

The Darkest Evening of the Year

In keeping with my theme for the week of dog related posts, I thought I’d put up my thoughts of that Dean Koontz novel I mentioned having read last week.

Published in paperback in 2007 Koontz’s The Darkest Evening of the Year is first off a paean to the Golden Retriever in particular (They sound like fabulous dogs — except for the hair) and dogs in general.

He also touched a bit on his “dogs are the way to redeem a wounded/wretched/evil soul” theology which I first encountered it in One Door Away from Heaven. That was more in passing. This is much more developed.

Not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I did. (Quigley is SO not a Golden Retriever!)

Since Koontz is now on his second Golden, and works with the organizations that provide service dogs to people with disabilities, I am sure he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the temperament and behavior of the breed. I mentioned in my previous post about the Wonder Dog Chancer, that 70% of Goldens, Labradors and German Shepherds pass the service dog training course, whereas only 2% of other breeds do. I doubt any hounds would ever even be considered. I cannot imagine Quigley sitting patiently on the patio deck, unleashed, waiting for “permission” to join his friends frolicking in the water as the Goldens are said to do in this book.

The only time Quigley sits patiently is at dinner time when he sits between my hubby and me watching us eat, waiting for the moment we are done and the plates will go into the dishwasher whereupon he will attempt to get in a few licks…

But I digress. I read the book mostly in one day and finished it up the second night. I was never bored, I didn’t think it took too long to get into… in fact, I loved his wordcraft. Here’s the start:

Behind the wheel of the Ford Expedition,  Amy Redwing drove as if she were immortal and therefore safe at any speed.

In the fitful breeze, a funnel of golden sycamore leaves spun along the post-midnight street. She blasted through them, crisp autumn scratching across the windshield.

I especially like the way he turned “autumn” into a thing that scratches the windshield

I wept unrestrainedly during his depiction of the euthanasia of the above-mentioned Amy Redwing’s first retriever. The whole thing was so much like what I went through with Bear, it was like living it again… Very poignant. Very well done.

And despite Koontz’s weirdness regarding the spiritual efficacy of having a relationship with a dog, there was a place where, though at first his character ridiculed the idea of the Rapture, he nevertheless got the point of God’s perfect righteousness dead on:

…if God existed, a God of pure love, then for sure there had to be a purgatory, because you would need a place of purification before you dared go upstairs for the Ultimate Hug. Even a sweet woman like Mrs. Bonnaventura, rapturing directly from this life to God’s presence, would detonate as violently as anti-matter meeting matter, like in that old episode of Star Trek.”  (pg 173-4)

Cool! Exactly why Jesus had to become a man and go to the cross and why God had to create in us a new creature at the point of salvation,  give us His righteousness, and will make for each believer a new resurrection body for eternity. Because we ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God and there is none righteous, no not one. (Ro 3: 1o;23)  I’ve thought before that sin and God are sort of like matter and anti-matter… Except that only the anti-matter (ie sinful creature) would detonate when it came into contact with God because God is immutable.

Of course that wasn’t the direction that Koontz took the matter, but it’s exciting to come across a statement of truth like that when you’re not expecting it.

The story centers around the special Golden Retriever Amy Redwing rescues from an imminent beating at the very beginning, who was…

… …

SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

… …

…I guess, possessed or indwelt by the spirits? souls? of her long-dead first dog and baby daughter. At the end this special Golden with subtle supernatural powers resuscitates the heroes who have both been killed in their attempts to stop the villains.

Readers on Amazon didn’t like this and many complained bitterly, calling it a hideous Deus ex Machina. Except technically, I don’t think it was.

As I understand it, the term comes from the Greek dramas where everything would be going wrong by the end of the play, and then the god would be lowered in on a platform to clean up the mess and restore order. But in this case, by the time of the resuscitation, the story was over, the problems solved, the villains dealt with. Yes the resuscitation definitely made for a happy ending, but I think it also played along one of the main threads he’d been weaving through the story. That is, that there are forces beyond our ken, that there is divine grace and a purpose to this life.  There are second chances.

The villains were all about living in the moment because, they thought, there was nothing else. No God, no mysteries, no meaning, only self and satisfying self.

In that it fit right in with messages I’d been receiving from my pastor shortly before and while I was reading the book. About the old man, the one that’s been crucified with Christ, and how it’s only and always about self. What’s in it for me? How do I feel? What am I going to do? What did I do wrong? How can I do better? What do I want? What did I not get? Etc.

To be sure, the villains in this piece were not that introspective, but even that was more in keeping with their in-the-moment approach. They were more like, “I want to [have sex/ eat a sandwich/ torment a child/ go to the desert/ burn down a house] right now.” So they got up and did it. Now. They also thought way more highly of themselves then they ought, but that’s typical of villains.

Anyway, I think this last quote encapsulates one of the book’s main themes and one of the things I liked most about it:

“Born in a tornado, Brian had considerable respect for the chaos that nature could spawn and for the sudden order — call it fate — that was often revealed when the apparent chaos clarified.”

Which has kind of been playing out in my life lately — especially in my writing life!

Wonder Dog

Wow. I got this link off of Power Line. It’s an article in the current issue of The New York Times Magazine by Melissa Fay Greene about service dogs for children with disabilities — including autism and fetal alcohol syndrome. Not only can they alert parents to the fact their child is having a seizure, but they can disrupt unwanted behavior — like habits of pulling out one’s own hair or throwing horrible temper tantrums. (I’ve noticed Quigley has a tendency to disrupt unwanted behaviors as well — like me or my hubby talking to each other, or trying to use the computer! Maybe we just need to train him better. I could use a “check email” disrupter or a “I think I’ll check the web for a bit” disrupter.)

Anyway, Greene’s a great writer and her article moved me to tears several times. Which is I why I’m drawing your attention to it. It’s a fairly long piece but very much worth it (Thankfully all on one page so you don’t have to keep clicking; and there are no side ads for the most part either.) When you finish, check out the video at the start… I am amazed at what a blessing dogs can be for us.

Wonder Dog by Melissa Fay Greene