Saturday, June 23, 2012

Miky the Dog

In my obsession with dogs, I ran across this unusual story about a German shepherd named Miky in Montana.  It is a touching collaboration of a dog from Israel, a Lubavitch rabbi, and the police force in Helena, Montana.

Miky was raised in Israel to be a bomb-sniffing dog.  He was then surplused and ended up in the police department in Montana.  He was a smart dog, but he had been trained in Hebrew.  It was only through Rabbi Chaim Bruk that the police in Helena learned how to issue commands to their new canine assistant.

You can just see the intelligence in that face!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

And So It Begins...

This morning we drove over 2 hours to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, to make a down payment on a dog that hasn't even been conceived.  Some time later this year we should be the proud new owners of a goldendoodle puppy, somewhat like the little guy below, who is already spoken for.

We filled out an application where we specified our preference for sex, color, hair type, size, etc.  My husband emphasized that we preferred a dog who was engaging like Jake, as opposed to the sweet, placid wallflower that Dylan was.  In truth, I just want the clone of Levi, who immediately bonded to me.

Levi is just one of several multi-gen goldendoodle studs who will be paired up with an appropriate female during the coming months to produce the perfect litter for us (and everyone else on the waiting list).  Levi has the additional distinction that he gives to a doggy blood bank every 7 weeks.

My husband, in his typical thorough fashion, was the first to determine that a goldendoodle would be the perfect dog for us.  They shed very little if at all.  They have the temperament of a golden retriever and the intelligence of a poodle.  And they come in a variety of sizes, depending mostly on the size of the male.

He also sifted through the many breeders in the local area to find Amy at Fox Creek Farm, who was a pioneer in creating these "designer" dogs.  Along the way, she has donated many such animals for use as service dogs.  Her world revolves about the goldendoodle and she has many fruits of her labors to show.  One of her major concerns is the health of her dogs, so she certifies that the parent dogs are free of the many defects that can cause problems in their offspring.  She socializes the puppies from an early age so they adapt well to people.  She feeds them food free from the awful stuff that goes into most commercial dog food.  She does just about everything right, as far as we could tell.

So we paid our non-refundable money and will now wait until our puppy comes along the the next few months.  He will then stay with his mother for 8 weeks before coming home with us.

As much as we still miss Jake, we are both excited about the prospect of welcoming a new dog to our house.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lunch on the Water

Today was my annual paddleboat outing at the Tidal Basin.  It was the most perfect day, with a nice breeze and billowy clouds.  The sun was out but not too hot.  My paddling partner was my friend of many years, Doug.  He is one of the few people who appreciates the old Volvo wagon as much as I do.

We paddled out into the middle of the Tidal Basin where we drifted not too far from the newly open MLK Memorial while we ate our lunch.  I had made curried kohlrabi with peas over rice.  (I added sweet curry powder and mustard seeds to the recipe, but otherwise followed it completely.)  We aslo had sugar snap peas from Polyface Farm and fresh peaches and strawberries with a few squares of dark chocolate for dessert.

A nice addition to the boats was the white canopy which kept the sun from becoming too intense while out on the water.  It was a good cardio workout paddling against the current, but certainly more pleasant than an hour on an exercise bike.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Almost Summer Food

Each year I am struck by the abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables we receive in our CSA share as we start a new season.  It’s often difficult to keep up with all the things that need to be cooked.  Tonight we are having a medley of roasted vegetables in a variety of colors.
While they are roasting, I just finished shelling 12 ounces of green peas, yielding about a cup of peas for 20 minutes of work.  It has always fascinated me how the peas seem to alternate sides in their shells.
The absolute best offering of the season is garlic scapes.  The first time we got them, I blogged about the mystery vegetable I couldn’t identify.  Since then I have learned just how special they are.  Last week I made shell pasta with black-eyed peas and garlic scape pesto, omitting the bacon.  Served with some parmesan shavings on top, it was heavenly.
The other news of the season is my almost-4-year-old amaryllis has once again offered up its tall stalk of blooms.  Unfortunately they are unpredictable and short-lived, one of those things you simply appreciate in the present moment.
I have missed everyone.  Blogging is starting to feel like a therapeutic thing to do after a long period of drought.  I hope to make the rounds to visit my old friends in the next day or two.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


 A lot of things have happened in the past couple of months since I pretty much stopped writing.  My son has come and gone.  Jake is no longer with us.  But life goes on and I seem to stay busy.
Yesterday we took a road trip down to Staunton with a double purpose.  We are starting to think about a new dog, knowing full well there will never be another dog like Jake.  Last week on a whim I called the breeder where we got Jake in 1998, one of 10 dogs in an OOPS! litter which resulted from a champion golden retriever meeting up by chance with a champion black lab.  It was an interesting conversation.  First of all she told me that one of Jake’s littermates had died just the previous week.  Second, she said another oops! dog of about 2 years had been returned to her because the 4-year-old in his house had become allergic.
Despite the fact that my husband has declared we will never again own a dog that sheds, we stopped by Deja Vu Kennel in Bealeton to see Riley.  Unfortunately Riley turned out to be a bigger problem than just an allergen.  He was the one who snarled viciously at us as we approached.  He was no Jake replacement, that was for sure.
Yesterday afternoon, however, we stopped by Old Mill Kennel in Staunton to see golden doodle puppies, a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle.  If done right, they don’t shed and they combine the temperament of the golden with the intelligence of the poodle.  The puppies were indeed adorable and already spoken for.  I think I am coming around to the idea of a dog with messy hair who has to be groomed a few times a year.
The real reason for our trip was to take tour of Polyface Farm, the source of most of our protein these days.  Ever since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we have purchased our beef, chicken, and eggs from Polyface, knowing the story but not having seen it firsthand.
Today’s tour leader turned out the to Joel Salatin himself, the guy who totally revolutionized farming so as to create an environment which improved the land over time while providing us with much of our food.  We all piled onto hay wagons, which took us to see broiler chickens, pigs, turkeys, and beef cattle, all living contentedly off the land.  There was no smell, no noise, and a bunch of happy animals mostly munching on fresh grass.
I may not agree with Joel’s politics (Libertarian) or religion (fundamentalist something graduate of Bob Jones U), but everything he said about farming today made infinite sense.  He raises thousands of animals every year and needs a vet about once every other year.  He uses no antibiotics and no artificial hormones.  He simply relies on nature to support the natural relationship between grass, chickens, poop, bugs, cows, etc., emphasizing how outputs become inputs in this cycle of life.
I came home more committed than ever to Polyface products.  Oh, and by the way, this big guy Michael is the night patrol who keeps the farm free of predators.  

Monday, June 04, 2012

Jake at the Rainbow Bridge

This is Jake lying in the back of the Prius as we drove him to the vet's to be put to sleep today.  He could still lick his kong, but he could no longer stand up for more than a few seconds without collapsing.  He had been through two major seizures in the past 12 hours.  His quality of life had finally taken a turn for the worse.

He had done well for the past 8 weeks on the anti-seizure meds and steroids.  As recent as last Saturday, he was fetching his kong in a neighborhood park.  His appetite had never waned, although today he was down to 49 pounds.

We came home and sadly went through all the dog paraphernalia collected over the past two decades of having big dogs in our lives.  The house seems so still and empty of paws.

My son Dan stumbled upon the following poem on the website of Jake's breeder, who cared deeply for all her dogs.  Even if I don't believe in heaven, the idea of a Rainbow Bridge is enchanting.  Who knows?  Maybe we will see our beloved pets there someday.

 Rainbow Bridge 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...