Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some people sleep with a security blanket, others have teddy bears....
Brickles needs some sort of comfort toy...

to sleep.

(ps...okay I was cleaning my work room and they were there for "support"...there isn't always so much muck strewn about the floor...shuffle shuffle...)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Talking Dogs. Big Bad Collars.

On the lighter side:

This is one of my favorite AFV videos.  I often pull it out when we have bumps, bruises and tears around here.  Or some days we are just sad, adults too.  Then, we are not so sad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nubs. A Lesson on Life. A Children's Book.


Please keep in mind, helping the dogs is only a small part.
The people who offer their lives to keep us safe have made the request.

I once met someone who won't have dogs as pets.  It wasn't the usual "I'm a cat person" or "Dogs are messy".

As parents they refused to have dogs as pets because when the dad was a kid the dog died and it was too hard on him. 

I will always have dogs as pets because they teach life.  They teach the love of another life.  They teach unconditional love.  They teach the value of effort and work.  They teach patience and tolerance.  They teach reciprocity.  They teach family roles.  They teach responsibility.

And, sadly, they teach death.

It is important that children learn all about life.  It isn't always good and pretty.  

I asked this fellow parent does she feel it is better when children learn about death through the loss of a grandparent...or friend...or sister?

Children need to be taught to value life.  To understand when you have a good life, a fortunate life.  To know how to persevere when life is unkind, often cruel.  

I try to teach my children that life is all about choices.  We cannot control what happens to us.  But we can control what we do about it. 

I choose to have dogs in my life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Afghani strays attack suicide bomber. Save sleeping troops. (Iraqi strays pt 3)


Tuesday, 09 March 2010 11:23
Rocky: A True Military Hero

Rocky: A True Military Hero

Rocky's Story
An Army National Guard unit stationed in Afghanistan befriended two dogs in the fall of 2009. Since finding them, Sam and Rocky have brought a touch of home to their soldiers at the remote and desolate location where they are stationed. These two dogs have been the guy’s running buddies, confidants and distraction during the long arduous days of their deployment. At night the dogs routinely position themselves at the entrance to the men’s sleeping quarters and frequently bark to alert those inside of possible dangers.

Earlier this month the dogs were barking in a manner that drew the attention of the soldiers. When the barking persisted and the normal, “Shut up,” that would be yelled out to get the dogs to be quiet did not work, one of the guys decided to investigate. Something was different this time.

Before the soldier could make it outside there was a loud, resonating, “Boom.” The dogs had intercepted a suicide bomber, intent on detonating his device inside the building.

A witness saw Rocky attack the man, biting him in the leg and hanging on to keep the man from being able to move and gain entry into the building. When the bomb went off, Rocky was at the epicenter of the explosion.

These were not military trained dogs, but just two strays that had become fiercely loyal to the men that took them in and cared for them in an environment that is not kind to animals. In return, Sam and Rocky more than likely saved the lives of their soldiers that night and greatly reduced the injuries. Unfortunately though, Sam was so severely mangled she had to be humanely euthanized. Rocky sustained serious injuries but the base medic was able to provide treatment and this survivor is expected to make a full recovery much to everyone’s amazement.

Rocky is a wartime hero that deserves a life outside of Afghanistan for what he did. That is why SPCA International is working with the animal loving members of the unit to bring Rocky to the U.S. where he will be reunited with one of the soldiers that was injured that night. However, there are many obstacles to overcome – location, the dangers of war, uncooperative commanders and a short time frame as the unit is due to return home in the near future.

Leaving Rocky behind is not an option. Everyone that is involved in saving this amazing canine is determined to repay Rocky for his heroic deed because it is the right thing to do for a dog that was doing what he does best – taking care of his people.

Unfortunately, bringing Rocky home is not going to be easy. The SPCAI team is working every angle tirelessly to find a way to bring Rocky to safety in the U.S., but we need your help too. It is clear that this rescue will take significant funds, please support Operation Baghdad Pups right now so that we can bring Rocky and many other military mascots home.

Quotes from David:
“Rocky is the last good thing that I have here, the ONLY thing that I look forward to each day is petting him and loving on him.”

“I am soooo happy that my "good thing" is here. He is really what gets me up the morning because there aren’t that many redeeming qualities about this country or the people in it.”

Donate to SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups program today to help us raise enough money to bring Rocky and other wartime buddies home.

**Names have been changed to protect the dog's safety and the safety of the National Guard unit.**

Donate to SPCA International's Operation Baghdad Pups program today to help us raise enough money to bring Rocky and other wartime buddies home.

4/20/2010 UPDATE
SPCA International staff continues to work aggressively on Rocky’s complex rescue. Rocky’s unit is deep in Afghanistan far from the accessible cities of Kabul and Kandahar with extremely limited transportation options. Hiring a local Afghan to transport Rocky across the country would put both the driver and dog in danger because the enemy would assume any Afghan transporting a dog would be doing so for American troops. Dogs are not normally kept as pets in this part of the world.

SPCA International is working with a local animal organization, airlines, and a security team on the ground to find a solution. We are confident we will succeed because failure is not an option. Rocky will continue to live in relative safety and comfort with his unit until a rescue plan is put in motion.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Dog Left Behind. (Iraqi Strays pt 2) Big Bad Collars

 The Stories tell themselves the best:

More Clips and Stories:
No Dog Left Behind : Military Channel

Nov 11 2009 7:38pm

TV's 'No Dogs Left Behind' Follows Rescued War Dogs on Journey to U.S.

Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
While he was in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Bryan Spears and his company found a scrappy puppy and named him Moody. But due to military regulations, they were prohibited from caring for the animal, and the soldiers said their goodbyes to their new friend.Fast-forward a few weeks later, and tragedy strikes: Five members of Spears's team are killed in an attack by a suicide bomber. That same day, Moody returns — and it was that turn of events that Spears says saved him from losing all morale. The dog had helped him cope with the loss of his fellow soldiers.  After that, there was no question that Moody would be going home with Spears when it came time for him to end his tour of duty; the only question left was how to do it. Moody's story, along with that of three other dogs traveling to the U.S. (including Nubs, who had a 75-mile odyssey through the desert), was chronicled for No Dogs Left Behind, a documentary airing Nov. 15 on the Military Channel.

Moody was rescued by a team from SPCA International called Operation Baghdad Pups. The project began in February 2008 after SPCA International received an inquiry from a soldier who desperately needed help with retrieving a dog he had befriended in Iraq. Since then, the team has launched 42 missions to Iraq and has saved 180 animals.

The process of bringing a dog from Iraq to the United States costs an average of $4,000. SPCA International funds most of the effort with the help of donations, and asks each dog's soldier to contribute $1,000 if they can — but things don't always go as planned.

"When you're running an operation that's inside a country that's at war, a lot of things are beyond your control," says program manager Terri Crisp. One time, she says, a dog didn't make it out as scheduled because the Iraqi president was flying in and the airport was shut down. The dogs are sometimes gone by the time the team gets there — "whether they ran off or somebody took them, you don't ever know for sure."

Most important, though, is the commitment of the soldier asking for the dog's transport. "They're making an investment in the animal, and chances are they're going to take care of that animal" Crisp said. "The level of commitment to the animal is unbelievable. They've been through so much together."

Ellen Goosenberg, the documentary's executive producer, told that her hope is that No Dogs Left Behind will humanize soldiers, their experiences and their needs once they return from war.

"A lot of times, they need a community," Goosenberg said. "They need to be understood. There's no way you transition from war back to civilian life without some kind of assistance. Sometimes animals do a brilliant job at that."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stray Iraqi Dogs Protect Soldiers. Big Bad Collars.

There is a phenomena that has apparently occurred in both Iraq and Afghanistan of stray dogs following American soldiers and becoming staunchly loyal to them.

Under Islamic beliefs, dogs are considered "unclean" and by religious law may not be kept as pets, only for work.  The laws prevent cruelty to animals but also prevent the social bond our culture has with dogs.  The degree of the laws are argued by both Sunni and Shia leadership, but both retain the fundamental distance.

Soldiers befriend, feed, play with and are generally kind to the strays and the strays have come to be fiercely and defensively loyal to the troops.  Sometimes, like the dogs in the video, guarding all soldiers, other times sticking with specific units or soldiers.

Of course many of our soldiers have become fiercely loyal to those dogs.  The Military Channel did a documentary on some of these relationships and the efforts that the international SPCA made to create a formal rescue effort to bring the dogs home for the soldiers.

To be continued...(but I warn, though wrought with stories of happy endings, it makes you very teary eyed too...)

PS  To punctuate how important dogs are to us, they show us how important we are to them!  I love this video of the sweetest homecoming.  It actually went viral at the time it was posted:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some Days. Big Bad Collars.

Some days you just need your blankie, your dog, and to suck your thumb!

Currently in the house:
*2 cases pinkeye
*1 cold
*1 ear infection
*1 swimmers ear
*1 bee sting
and partridge in a pear tree!

Ain't summer grand!

On a lighter note:  today is my favorite day of the year!  Summer Solstice:  this means that everyday after this there will be one less minute of the Arizona sun!  HOORAY!
 (yes...there is also 1 case of too little sleep too...things are getting loopy around here)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who says my dogs aren't trained? Big Bad Collars.

I say it is all Brickle's fault he is not trained!  He made me lazy.  He is so well tempered.
He won't move until she is done.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Tacoma

For the first time in 8 1/2 years, I left my children...not even a baby with me.  I was ecstatic and terrified at the same time.  The end result was I had a blast  And upon return, I did not find that the house had been hit by a wrecking ball.  All and all I would say a good trip!

When you live in this:

And you come from this:

You will take any excuse to visit this:

I went up to see my sister and the girls in the family.  On a lark, my sister and sister-in-law wanted to see a musical and realized that if they could get 10 people then they could buy discount tickets.  My sister put out an email blast to girlfriends and family girls...and by the end of the day they had people flying in from the east coast!  36 tickets were bought and an even bigger after party at her house!  Yes, I know you are dying to know...we saw Menopause the Musical...which was hilarious.  No I am not THAT old!...but old enough to think it would be fun to fly to another state to see it!

I flew in a couple days early so I could just hang out with my sister...something we have not been able to do in about 15 years.  I got to go to her work...she is a lawyer...and actually see her in court for the first time.  It was just a Perry Mason stuff that day...but fascinating for an ex-government teacher / baby sister.  We went grocery shopping (party hint #1 if you shop at multiple stores, stay aware that you have bought enough to feed an ARMY! EACH location!), cleaned the house, decorated the garden, chatted with her friends:  We got to be sisters, something we don't get a chance to do often enough any more.  Something we all need to do more often.

My sister has the prettiest house, built 1940 with a 1/4 acre lot that has a view of Puget Sound and complete with the sound of boat horns drifting up.  Since the yard is stepped, she has created little flower vignettes all over.

Other than life of the party, my only other party contribution was a recent hors d'oeuvres I created (the one I forced Gail to wrap with me as we left too late for another party, cough cough...).
I am a pinch of this, handful of that type of cook, so I will do my best to recreate the recipe.  I absolutely love this stuff:

1.  five cans tuna, drained
2. about 1/3 jar Trader Joes Pesto 
(I recommend this because the garlic is mild
strong garlic overwhelms all the other flavors)
3.  Mayonnaise about 1/2 cup
(just enough to moisten and 
transfer the other ingredients)
4.  1 1/2 jars Trader Joes Artichoke Hearts
smashed and chopped
(again must be mild, not spicy or such)
5. 1/2 finely diced onion
6.  Mix Well
7.  1 bunch celery, chopped
8.  Mix Well
9.  3 or 4 tsp Safeway brand Capers, drained
10.  Mix Gently
11.  Cut Prosciutto slices in half
12. Wrap about 1 T Pesto Tuna Salad in each slice

The Tuna salad is good...but the prosciutto takes it to a whole new level, a must do!

Moral of the story:  Go hang out with your sister.  It's a well worth it adventure.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Awesome Dog Surprises Cop

I'M BACK!  (my husband always calls all caps "email shouting"...I always picture a cartoonish deaf old man with an old fashioned hearing horn writing...)

I think I am the only person on the planet who can go FROM Phoenix TO Tacoma and get a sunburn!  I had a great time visiting my sister...more on that the mean time, something a friend from up there had on her is stressful but guaranteed to make you smile at the end.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Training?...oh, THAT's what it's called. Big Bad Collars.

You see there is this amazing concept out there...some people really swear by it even.  It's called training.  I even hear that if you try it, it can work!  Very well, even!

Over this past year I have gotten the chance to meet a really great group of people in the Phoenix Schutzhund Club.  Schutzhund, for those who may not me a year the title for the kind of work Police Dogs do:  tracking, catching bad guys, patrolling (I know I have caused many heads to bow and shake in shame for me but I do not wish to describe something in depth beyond my own shallow knowledge.  I do know for a fact that it is amazing to watch these dogs work!  I highly recommend attending a competition sometime; it is especially great for kids to appreciate the vital roles dogs play in our lives...and exciting.)  Active members range from police to college students to tradesmen to professional trainers.

One of the guys from the club designed a beautiful custom collar for his Dobie little girl, Marcella.  But for her training, there are situations where an e-collar (electronic collar) is used.  (I learned you even do "snake training"...a necessity here in the desert...where a professional handler brings a defanged rattle snake to teach the dogs to not engage snakes when tracking...or any other time...back home I had a high school teacher who I think could have used this kind of training.  That woman was smaller than many of the dogs I work with; she was all of 5'2" and maybe 100 lbs on a high carb day.  She would sweep rattle snakes off her back porch with a broom each morning so she could enjoy her coffee overlooking the lake...never underestimate tiny elegant English teachers...)

So, John looked at this e-collar and knew there had to be a better way for the dog to wear it.  It looks terrible and is held in place by just a 3/4 inch plastic strap that cinches into the dog's neck.  I love learning how peoples' brains work...John clearly has an engineer's brain.  John brought the e-collar unit for me to mount inside a latigo collar.

The big decision in the first planning session was where to locate the electronic unit:  center it; next to the buckle and so on.  We decided to nest it next to the buckle as close as possible.  John was good enough to leave the unit with me for a week.  I am the kind of person that if I can stare at a problem long enough, then I can answer it.  Perseverance slays the dragon.

But the problem was I just wasn't happy with the design.  The fact is I just didn't feel the unit was secure nor did it fit well. Then, while messing with templates and scraps on the work table, it occurred to me to fit the unit into the buckle.  With that hurdle passed, it became possible to cinch a strap securely and make the mount removable case the unit broke or just wasn't needed anymore.

To say John is a nice guy is an understatement.  He patiently ...and bravely... came back out to the house to face my mongrel untrained dogs, then the mongrel untrained children and then to put up with me chatting his ear off (In my pre-children life, I was a college and high school teacher...with a captive audience of 150 students per day.  Now my audience is reduced to just 3 under the age of 10.  Woe is the person who makes eye contact with me!).  We needed to size Marcella and check that the mount would be secure.  It was then that it was decided to punch 1/2 in sizing holes as well in order to get a precise fit.

Now the e-collar is secured by 1 1/2 inches of latigo leather.

And Voila:  the Modern Working Dog...and looking good doing it!

Thanks John...for an awesome idea and the patience for me to get it done!


Friday, June 4, 2010

This is one Smart dog. Big Bad Collars.

My brother (who has delusions of dog training grandeur just because he has the good fortune to live in the same house as Boomer the wonder hunting lab... who happens to humor him) sent me this video a couple years ago in an attempt to inspire me to train my dogs.  Well, we are almost up to "sit"...almost...(though I must say quite proudly that my dogs have done an excellent job training me!  They are such clever children...)

If you have more time, the second video is about 8 minutes and a very sweet (and truly inspiring) interview with Skidboots' owner.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hero dog saves another dog. Big Bad Collars.

You may have already seen this, it has floated around the internet.  I remember when it was on the news last year.  It is just so amazing I thought it was worth the second glance.  This is just one of many reasons why my home will always have dogs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010