Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Reading

Do you remember those long lists of books that teachers handed out to you and your classmates at the end of every year? Just when you thought that the school year was over, and you could give your brain some much needed slacking off time, those darned teachers would hand out those lists of epic proportions deemed "Summer Reading". And the lists would come with both bribes and punishments; the more books you read from the list the better. You would get into different "levels" of difficulty, and sometimes you would even get to chose a book that was NOT from the list. But whether you chose a book off the list or chose it to exercise your freedom of expression, you would always have to do a REPORT on it. And the report seemed to just be an excuse for the teachers to make you PROVE that you actually READ the book, and did not just buy the "Cliff's Notes", ask a friend for a summary, or to make sure you just didn't see the movie!

These reports usually followed the same format: they asked questions about the main characters, secondary characters, plot summary and your interpretations of certain themes (i.e. "do you think that this book helped or hindered the women's liberation movement?") etc. The report was to be typed or be written in CLEAR hand writing. Jeeze, the teachers didn't want too much from us on our Summer break, now did they!?!

But far from complaining, I actually bring this up because this has been a lesson that has stuck with me throughout the years. I have always been a big reader; no doubt owing to my lacking social skills and the desire to seek out the quieter things in life. Reading for me, much like writing for me, comes in spurts. There are some times where I just want to get home at the end of the day, do my nightly rituals, blank out in front of the t.v. and then hit the sack. But other times, my appetite for reading is so voracious that I cant seem to have a book in my possession that I will not be tempted to read. Indeed, any books that find themselves waiting idly to be read, soon finde themslves unable to be put down until the final word is read and absorbed.

I find myself in one of these manic reading states now. I planned on buying some used books off of my VERY extensive wish-list on Amazon. Realizing that I would once again be in the hospital for another procedure, and then need some time to rest and recuperate seemed like a good time to get some more titles under my belt. The books would at least keep me from sitting in a mind-numbed state in front of the t.v. for the entire time! And who knows, I might even learn something and enjoy the story that was to unfold.

My taste in books is pretty simple. There are two main categories: Harry Potter and Dogs. Now, the Harry Potter Category is quite simple. I read, and re-read...and RE-READ (12 times) the books in the series of 7. I usually have to be in the mood for a certain book, and so sometimes go out of chronological order. I'll sometimes read one of the books right before the next movie comes out (as I'm planning on doing now!) to make sure that all of the literary details are fresh in my mind when I see them played out (and sometimes edited out) on the big screen. The dog category gets a little more involved. I am, and have always been, fascinated by the human-canine bond. I tend to pick up any title that even suggests that that is what the book is about. My favorite thus far has to be "Pack of Two" by Caroline Knapp (which I have referenced from heavily in other posts), "Bones Would Rain from the Sky" by Suzanne Clothier, and I L-O-V-E Patricia McConnell's books. And due to my love of reading all things about the canine bond, I love reading personal memoirs of people and the special relationships that they have with their special pets. I'll read anything including blended story books (like the "Chicken Soup" books), stories about agility dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs and just pet dogs. I know that none of this will come as a surprise to anyone who reads THIS blog regularly, as these kinds of stories are what I also like to write about. I try to get across that no dog is un-special or "regular". Every single dog that is loved and loves someone deserves to have their story told. I know that no one will ever love your dog as much as you do, but hopefully by telling your dogs story you can get others to fall even more in love with their own dogs.

So, on to the reading list! There are three books that I would like to mention in this post. Again, I don't pretend to know your taste in reading, but I hope if you are reading this blog, that these stories just might interest you too.

The first is "Where the Trail Grows Faint: A year in the life of a Therapy Dog Team" by Lynne Hugo. This book was something of a surprise. I expected the book to be about the authors journey into therapy dog work, complete with how the dog came to be, training and stories of visits once the time came to make them. I did find all of that, but this book brought out so much more. This book really brings to light the various things that people are forced to give up when they enter a nursing home or hospitalized situation. It really, REALLY hit home to me. The issues were not the blatantly obvious ones such as becoming physically less capable of taking care of ones needs, but it brought into sharp relief what it felt like to LOSE every one of those needs including ones independence, autonomy, and the right to space and privacy. I thought I had a lengthy twelve days in the hospital at the beginning of this year, but after reading this book I realize how truly lucky and fortunate I am to have been able to get healthy enough to get out. Although tough times still take their toll on me, TRULY after reading THIS BOOK, I have had my mind changed about complaining about and sweating the small stuff. I know that I have pledged both here on this blog, and aloud to friends and family that I am a changed person who will no longer let time and life pass me by, but THIS BOOK has helped solidify those promises. It has helped me see that truly, if I am to end up in a state like some of the patients, I have to live my life, and live it the fullest. Without letting a single opportunity to enjoy it pass me by. Don't get me wrong; the issues brought up by this book are not brought up in an overly sad and dramatic way. They are brought into the light with skill and intelligence; they are not brought into the story to bring in feelings of depression and sadness, but in ways to make you outraged, and determined to look at your life and lives of others differently. By the time I had finished this book, I have already visited the Delta Society web page, and found out when the next prep-class and test will be held. I am determined to not only take the lessons shared here in this book to heart to change my OWN life, but to hopefully help people who are already in this situation as well. I will never again take for granted the feel of the sun on my face or the wind through my hair; or let the sights of the sun illuminating the high-lights in Shelby's fur, or the wind delicately playing with Heidi's mane. This book is a FANTASTIC read for anyone practicing or interested in therapy dog work. It is also great for anyone with aging relatives, or who want a clear, unbiased insight on what it is to live in one of these long-term facilities. Again, I want to emphasize that there is nothing indecent in this book; it is not filled of stories of having to clean up after incontinent patients. It is the honest, un-blinded view of what it costs to have to give up who you are when you are unable to physically be that person any longer. Although the authors therapy dog is obviously mentioned and does play a large part in the book, it is definitely a story that I would have read and enjoyed even if there WAS no dog. It was that much of a lesson teacher and eye opener for me.
The second book I read is one a bit more on the scientific side. It is a book called: "Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship" by Alen Beck et al. This is a great read for the obvious reason that the book is about exploring the amazing bond that people have with their pets. As I said, it is quite a bit more scientific minded with many medical studies mentioned and cited, but it also does have quite a bit of interesting information regarding how pets keep us healthy through all kinds of medical maladies including heart disease and mental illness. Lets put it this way; if I was going to write a book about the special bond that humans have with their animals THIS is the book that I would want attached to my name. It is something that a layman like myself could NEVER pull off, but thankfully someone did because it really is a wonderful book. Some parts of the book get a little dicey (in terms of dealing with issues of pets and sexuality-I'll let you form your own opinions about this topic), and I didn't actually read the last chapeter because it talked about how the animalhuman bond can make you a better parent (no doubt useful for people into that stuff; you know HUMAN children) but over all the book gives wonderful insight on just how important pets really are to our health and well being. Put it this way, if Dr. Marty Becker's book "Thee Healing Power of Pets" had a second edition, more scientifically written, this book would be it. It goes beyond the holistic view of Dr. Becker's book, and is able to cite some really wonderful medical studies. Again, if your interested in the animal/canine-human bond, this book is definitely one of the top ones I'd recommend.

The third, and perhaps my FAVORITE of all the books Ive read, has to be "Dogged Pursuit" by Robert Rodi. What an (for lack of a better word) AWESOME book! The brief synopsis of the book regards it as a mixture of "Marley and Me" and "Dog Show" (the movie). This is SPOT ON! (Without the death of the beloved main dog at the end.) I found myself laughing out loud so often at this book, that I worried what my hospital roommate must think of me! I had actually stumbled upon it by accident, which in my mind, makes the book even better-I'm a big fan of serendipity! I had just placed my somewhat large order with Amazon the day before and started getting confirmation emails that my books were to be shipped (as I bought all of them used, they were all coming from different places). I realized that I probably would not get a single one of the books by the time I was to be admitted into the hospital for my procedure. So much for my brilliant idea of being able to read while recuperating! So I went to Barnes and Noble the night before to see if any of the titles on my still VERY lengthy wish-list were available for a quick sale. I was scanning the shelves to no avail when I came upon the bright blue book with a LEAPING SHELTIE on the cover. My eyes highlighted on the word "Agility" and I KNEW I was leaving with this book. I had to practically bind my own hands to prevent myself from reading it before I really needed to. I ended up packing it in my over night bag straight away to eliminate any and all temptation. I ended up reading some of the book the night after the procedure and finishing the rest of it the next day, after being sent home from the hospital.

This book is good. I have not yet read Susan Garrets book "Shaping Success" about training and competing with her border collie, but I expect that this book is much different. It really is truly hilarious! This is my favorite line from the book; the author is trying to highlight the differences with his current, female Sheltie, Carmen, with his newly acquired rescue, Dusty (the main character): "With a treat in my hand, I could get Carmen to do anything. Any-thing. She'd go up and down an A-frame a dozen times in a row. She'd teeter till she tottered. She'd do back flips. She'd dial up a restaurant and book a table. In French." I laughed so hard at this line, because this is true of my two Shelties too! So many things in this book I could relate to: from the crazy jitters you feel at a competition for the first time, to the obvious Sheltie-like behaviors, to the digestive pyrotechnics that reared up at such in-opportune moments. One of the best things I liked about the book was not only the authors humor (that is so much in line with my own) but of his social awkwardness as well. I too have found myself high and dry at a trial or seminar; trying to blend in with the few people I am acquainted with, but really writhing and dying of fear and insecurity inside. This book is a wonderful read for anyone with Shelties, rescue dogs, and any one who has a passion for agility and other dog sports. I cannot, AGAIN, recommend this book enough. It seems like a short read, but there are so many laugh-out-loud moments, that it actually takes you longer to get through then it should; your too busy wiping away the tears of laughter!

So, this concludes this session of my book reports for summer reading. I hope you have enjoyed my not-so-brief accounts of some of my new favorite books, and I urge you (just like your teachers of yesterday) to go to the book store or library and pick up one of these, or another title that sparks your interest. With so many negative things going on in the world, and being broadcast into our living rooms every night, its nice to escape to another world, or someone else's life for a little while. And if you can find a comfortable place to curl up with that book, it just seems to make everything fall into place.

Here are a few pictures of my favorite reading (and writing) place...I actually just typed this post right here:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Venting Session

OK, this is definitely not the post that I was planning on putting up. But something happened today that has made me SO angry, if I don't get it out I'm probably going to be in a VERY bad mood for the rest of the day.

So, I'm trying to get us all out and about more to practice on some skills that have gotten a little rusty (heel, stay, leave-it etc.) and to get us all a bit more exercise as we can all stand to be a bit trimmer (which I'll chat more about in the next post). Now walking has become a bit of a challenge; gone are the days of walking in the woods or open fields due to the arrival of the dog-days of summer. Those quiet, pristine places are not off limits due to the awful amount of ticks my girls bring back with them. So we've been confined to pavement walking: hitting the local parks and sidewalks instead. And these places are neither quiet OR pristine. Not only are we dealing with a lot more in terms of distractions (litter on the ground, people going by with skateboards, bikes, strollers etc.) but we're also having to deal with the sheer NUMBER of people with and without these additional things.

Now, don't get me wrong. My girls are BOMB-PROOF; they have seen, experienced and dealt with all of these things before. They ignore just about all of them;they are not reactive in any way. They just let them pass right along by. BUT they are having to relearn what it means to "get in close" as we are now on a narrow paved path with these things and they need to learn to be polite and move aside so there can be room for us all.

If it was just these things then our walks would still be fine. I mean if anything, they would enhance our training sessions and make us all stay on our toes. But there is one BIG, HUGE incredibly ANNOYING consequence that we are also having to deal with: CHILDREN. Lots of them.

I cannot STAND children. I have always been like this. I can't stand anything about them: the way that they are always sticky, they smell, they don't know how to behave and most don't listen. Now don't get me wrong; as long as they are not affecting me in a negative way, we can coexist without a problem. But am I going to knowingly seek out their company or want to "hang out" with them? Absolutely not. I always joke that I was born with a "defective mothering gene"-I only feel those warm, maternal feelings towards small furry beings. The sounds of babies (crying, etc) to me is like nails on a chalk board. But a puppy whining or even barking immediately sets my brain into nurture mode. I can easily turn a deaf ear to barking and just tune it out (I do live with Shelties you know!) but the sounds of screaming children makes me want to pound my head into a brick wall.

Again, its not like I go around wishing harm on all of the children in the world. I don't stand up and cheer when I hear an awful story on the news about something tragic happening to someones kid; I feel bad just like everyone else. But I really am getting sick and tired of dealing with stupid parents who let their obnoxious children run amok.

I took the girls out to the park for a quick early morning walk before breakfast. The walk takes place at a park where there is a big paved path forming two connecting squares around some ball fields and a play ground. It is a pretty popular park for walkers, and parents: both of dogs and kids. There are at least 5 poop pick up stations around the park, lining the paths. Clearly the rec. department knows how popular the park is for dog owners and want to ensure that we take care of it so we continue to be welcomed. (Its funny that you'd be hard pressed to find even one small piece of dog poo, but there are candy and ice-cream wrappers littering the ground around the play ground...but I digress...) So I take the girls for a walk, having their leashes, treats and poop bags stored in my pocket. The paths themselves are pretty quite, but there are already some families on the play ground. No problem; we'll just steer clear of it.

As we're about 1/3 of the way around for our first pass, it starts to rain. So I hustle the girls up (as none of us wants to end up soaked) and we start to head back to the car. When we get there, the rain is letting up a bit, so I ask the girls if they want to play ball (we never go anywhere without their Chuck-It!) so I grab it and we make our way back to the field. As we're walking back, this little girl RUNS off the play ground and starts chasing my girls. Well, they want to play ball and 4 legs are always faster than 2, so they out run her. We make our way to the field and I huck the ball. The girl is still running after them trying to pet them. Now, NORMALLY if the girls father (who is half-heartedly following this annoying child trying to marshal her) had ASKED can she pet them, I wouldn't have had a problem. But he was just LETTING her chase them, so I kept throwing the ball in the OPPOSITE direction; keen to SHOW HIM that NO, I did NOT want his little girl getting near my dogs. Apparently he never got the hint.

So finally after a few minutes of ball throwing, they were sufficiently tired (and wet!) enough for us to go home. Heidi, being normally a little slower than Shelby (and now being really tired) was making her way slowly toward me when the little girl started chasing her again. I FIRMLY said "DON'T CHASE HER!" when the little girl caught up to her, WRAPPED her arms around her waist and then FELL ON TOP OF HER. I YELLED. I mean really YELLED "CAREFUL!!!" and went over and picked Heidi up. I was so INCENSED with anger, I couldn't even get the words out that I wanted to scream at this father who was muttering a feeble"sorry". I wanted to SCREAM at him "look buddy, if I don't let my dogs run up to your kid, what makes you think that you can let your KID run up to MY DOGS? If she had bitten or snapped at your daughter it would have been MY DOG that would be put to death. A bit UNFAIR, don't you think?!?!?"

I STORMED off and carried Heidi all the way back to the car where I gave her lots of good snacks and told her what a wonderful and brave dog she was. (And of course I told Shelby the same and gave her snacks too).

I CAN NOT believe the ignorance of some people. I mean, HONESTLY?!?! What makes it OK that your kids can accost mine? What if my dogs were NOT friendly and Heidi HAD bitten her? I mean, this is RIDICULOUS. As far as I am concerned, if a little kid puts themselves in situations like that (and the parents ALLOW IT) if they get bitten, they DESERVE IT. Maybe then they will learn the lesson to ASK before petting strange dogs. And if you don't like that way of thinking, think about a dog as if it were a hot stove. Would you just let your child run up to a stove and put its hand on it? Or would you check first and make sure it wasn't hot? Or better yet, keep them away from the stove at all?

And if your a parent, put yourself in my shoes. What if you were at the park, and some huge, off-leash dog came RUNNING on to the play ground? Would you just ASSUME that the dog was friendly and willing to put your child's safety at risk to test the dog and see? Even if the dogs tail was wagging, would you take the chance? Wouldn't you be screaming at the ignorant dog owner to get her pet under control and away from your kids??

So let me just say this: I am now going to be taking a MUCH more active role in leader and protector of my dogs. I've already stepped up my safety arsenal of preventing dog attacks by carrying a whistle, air-horn and direct stop. You bet your ass that I'm going to start protecting them from rogue children now too. No, I probably can't MACE the kids who come running up, but be sure that I am going to now start employing body-blocks and using a loud commanding voice to tell kids to "BACK OFF" and deter them from charging the girls. And short of shaving them and painting them black and tan (to have them look like mini-rottweilers), I'm going to also be wearing this to the park:

Hooded Sweatshirt - CafePress

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If this doesn't deter stupid people and obnoxious children, I don't know what will. I'm sure that this is probably going to anger some people, and may even change peoples opinions about me. But look, all I am looking for is the same thing that anyone else is: respect. Respect for my feelings, respect for my space, and respect for my dogs. If I can give it to you, and ensure that my dogs do as well, cant you give it back? I mean, a little common sense and common courtesy goes a long way...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Does anyone have the number for Animal Control?

No, not for my dogs...or even for my neighbors' dogs. I need the number for the VERY LARGE foot prints left in my yard!:
My mom was out cutting the grass (or doing other various yard-tending duties that I generally leave to her) and found a big pile of poo. I looked at it and very quickly figured out that no, it did NOT belong to either one of the little Shelties; or to any of the cats or bunnies that roam freely through the neighborhood either. Lets put it this way, this poo-pile was easily the size of one of my girls' HEADS. Yes, the pile was that big. (You'll have to take my word for it, as no, I did not get any of the pictures of the pile of poo.) The other observation (other than me thinking/saying out loud: "HOLY CANOLI THAT IS A BIG PILE OF POO!) was that it was FULL of seeds. Like, seed from a neighbors bird feeder seeds. So, as I am not a wild-life expert, I did not know what had left this mass of mess. Maybe it was a deer? They eat seeds right?

Well, maybe that is plausible, but then the next bit of evidence quickly put that theory to rest. As I was walking away from the seeded deposit, I saw oddly shaped impressions in the soft ground at my feet. My mom had tilled this patch of yard a few weeks prior, and it had not filled in with grass yet. So these new impressions were pretty clear. And they were clearly TRACKS. BIG ONES. Houston, we have a problem. We have a BEAR.

Now, I cant be sure that yes, it is a bear leaving tracks. Again I am no wildlife expert. But I don't think mountain lions (which are not common in this part of the country) or lynx/bobcats eat seeds. Especially not in those amounts. I showed my mom the tracks, and then quickly got the camera. I tried to take pictures of my hand with the tracks and then with Heidi sitting near them for something to visually compare them to, but I'm afraid the pictures aren't that clear. But if you look at the different colored patches of earth, even if you aren't able to make out the shapes, you can see how LARGE they are.

Now were pretty accustomed to wildlife in the yard; although we are the last house on a dead-end street, the end of the street borders a marsh. We frequently get visitors from the wetlands that make their way casually onto our bit of land. We've had turtles (both box and snapping), rabbits (lots and LOTS or rabbits), cats, probably deer and frogs. Frogs of death and doom. I say this not because the frogs are in fact dangerous, but because they SOUND SO. The first spring that were were in the house the frogs made a very conspicuous appearance. They are gray tree frogs, and make a VERY odd noise; a noise that sounds like the sharp trill of a raccoon. My mom was preparing to clean out our empty hot-tub when she heard the noise-she really did think that there was a raccoon trapped beneath the cover. After some very careful maneuvering, she opened the cover (preparing for something large, black-masked and furry to jump out!) and found herself face to face with the real culprit:

Terrifying, isn't it? But a much more welcome sight than this:

Anyways, most of the critters entering our yard have been fairly harmless; I mean the snapping turtle that out-weighed both dogs put together was a little less than friendly, but I've been able to keep the girls away from and prevent them from tangling with the more "dodgy" sort.

But now Ive got to really keep on my toes; especially when letting the girls out for their night-time potty breaks. I'm assuming that "Yogi" (as we've taken to calling our big black furry friend) shows up really late, like in the dead-of-night late, which makes me thankful that we do not have that many emergency "I need to go out NOW" potty trips. And if they do arise, I turn on the light FIRST before opening the door (lets hope Yogi is photo-phobic) and make noise before letting the equally noisy girls out to do their business. I know this is much to my sleeping neighbors chagrin, but...I've got to keep my twenty pound, fluffy mini-rottweilers safe, right? One whiff of the "intruder" in her yard, and Shelby is going to go N-U-T-S. Heidi will just tag along for the ride and bark-fest, but Shelby will be out for blood. Bear blood. And although I'd be willing to bet my own life on her amazing recall, Id prefer not to have to test it and bet HER life on it at 2 am some stormy night. I'd rather be safe than sorry. One more lesson down. Thanks girls...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Birthday cake, ice-ream and lessons

I'm posting today to wish my very special girl, Heidi, a Happy belated Birthday! Unfortunately for all of us, this years birthday did not exactly go to plan (which is also why this is being written late!) Hmmm...odd how neither of the girls birthdays went smoothly...

Anyways, I got sent home from work (and sent straight to the doctors) on Monday because of SEVERE dizziness and nausea. I had a procedure last week to try and relieve some of the excessive bleeding I have been dealing with off and on since being put on coumadin and plavix. Although the procedure went well, I did take out a few days of work afterwards to let my body heal. And it was a good thing I did. I had a rough time waking up from the anesthesia, and then dealt with very bad nausea (which I NEVER have a problem with) and pulled muscles in my neck and shoulders from thrashing. Mondays episode, although seemingly unrelated to the procedure or anything else going on with my health, was pretty scary. It was as if someone had put the world on "spin cycle"; it was like being on a very bad amusement park ride that I desperately wanted to get off. I wasn't able to focus, was having a hard time breathing and could hardly walk. I was driven to my moms work, where she drove me to the doctors.

They did a few tests and figure that I have Vestibular Neuritis, which is an infection (viral) on your vestibular nerve. I was put on prednisone and sent to see a neurologist just to be on the safe side. I've been out of work since. Hopefully, I should be able to go back on Monday. I am feeling better for the first time today, which is why I am able to sit and type on the computer (and which is why I didn't wish Heidi a Happy Birthday blog sooner!) I've been struggling to just get around my house; staring at a computer screen (and especially scrolling up and down!) made me feel, if possible, worse.

But enough about me and my stupid symptoms (I'm sick of dealing with them, never mind thinking about them more!) and on to my special girls day! We technically celebrated today, as Wednesday I was too sick to even bend over and play with her and her sister.

Now, usually we will be in the White Mountains hiking and camping at this time. I can't remember which year we started going camping for her birthday, but it has developed into a tradition that has been a fun one to follow. Even if we were not camping per se, I would drive up there for the day and let the girls run in the woods and splash in the rivers. It was a great mini-vacation day for all of us; being up there seems to recharge our souls.

But, for obvious reasons, this year I wasn't even driving down the street to the park, never mind making the two hour trek to the mountains. I of course felt guilty and sad that I couldn't let the girls enjoy our time honored tradition, but at the same time I knew that they weren't thinking about the day the same way I was. Although I know they would have fully enjoyed our outdoor excursions, they do not celebrate "special occasions" the same way we people do. Celebrating the day of ones birth is a very human thing to do; our dogs will never hold grudges or be angry with us if we forget or are unable to celebrate these special days in the ways that we want to. As I've said before, they're not going to go to school or work the next day grumbling under their breath about how we forgot their birthday, or got them an unsatisfactory gift. As a very good (and wise!) friend pointed out to me (as I was lamenting not being able to go to the mountains for the day), Heidi was probably just happy to have me home for the day; able to snuggle up to me when she wanted and able to hear my voice.

Thinking about that now, I realize how stupid I was being. I was sulking not only because missing a favorite tradition was hard to bear, but also because not being able to do anything AT ALL that day, again because of my health, was a low-blow. But now, a few days later, I am feeling better. Not only physically, but also better about finally being able to share in the celebration of the birth of my very special girl.

So today I got outside for the first time in over a week with the girls. It has been raining here in New England for what feels like AN ETERNITY. So when the precipitation let up today, and the sun decided to make an all but brief appearance, I decided today was a good day to break out some goodies for Heidi's special day. So, what do Shelties consider goodies? Cake and ice-cream! Which is possibly even more important and special to a Sheltie than a long walk in the woods...they do like their food after all!!

My mom got her hair cut on Wednesday afternoon, and so was able to buy some birthday cupcakes from the doggie bakery, "The Barkery". Yes, these are the same cupcakes that caused so many problems on Shelby's birthday in February. BUT, I think that if I chop them up and feed them in pieces (rather than letting the girls go in for a free-for-all!) they should be OK. They just finished their ice-creams outside, and will probably have a 1/2 cupcake each later tonight.

And make no mistake, Heidi got plenty of snuggles, cuddles, pats, and kisses on her real birthday, which was Wednesday. I apologized to her that were didn't go hiking, but I did promise that when we go on a real vacation in August that we would do all of her (and Shelby's) favorite things. I actually spent most of the day today making lists of what attractions were dog-friendly, and what they might like to do (and what I would be able to do!) I think it will be a really nice, relaxing vacation, and of course even if something happens and things DON'T work out the way we wish, I think the lessons of being thankful are finally sinking in: "Don't sweat the small stuff", "don't cry over spilt milk", and "when life hands your lemons, make lemonade". All little anecdotes that we learned at a very young age, but lessons that are important enough for us to remember all throughout our lives. And once again, small lessons Ive been reminded and retaught thanks to my VERY special Heart-Dogs!

Here are some pictures from today with the cake and ice-cream. It doesn't look like they're enjoying it too much, does it?