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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bigfoot owls?

Eleven p.m. The last park of the evening. Gus busts out of the back door and pops into his hey-who's-out-there huff and puff. An owl howls in the north from the dark woods down the hill.

Mr. Henry leaps off the short wooden step and hits the "pea garden" running. He slides under my wooden arbor-seat with a rooster-tail of pea stone, turns and sits. What's that?!

The owl hoots again, this time a bit closer. Gus hops a few feet on stiff front legs and puffs his chest in his best act of protection. He throats a deep bark, yet holds his ground. Henry shrinks further under the seat.

The air feels like fall. I am glad for my hoodie, figuring I'm going to have to wait Henry out before he feels safe enough to park. I don't mind lingering. I look up. The past-new-moon sky is brilliant; after a few days of rain it is nice to be in awe of the Milky Way again.

The owl continues with a long, drawn out whoooo-who-hoot-whoooo! It seems even nearer. Gus woofs louder and my imagination goes wild. Is something rustling there in the brush? Why does an image of Bigfoot pop into my head?

Henry darts out beyond the pea garden onto the grass, pees and heads for the door. I don't mind that he parks on the grass this time.

Let's go inside!  Gus whips around and beats us in.

I doubt that Henry totally emptied his bladder. He wakes me with a whimper at 4 a.m. When I take him out the sky is clouded over and all is still. He uses the pea garden this time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lucky me

First night
     last park: 11 pm
     first, second and third park: 2 am, 4:30 am, 6 am

Second night
     last park: 11 pm
     first and second park: 4 am, 6:30 am

Last night
     last park: 11pm
     first park: 6:30 am!

Good boy Henry!

A floor level shot of a small yellow puppy laying on his right side on a pine laminate floor, his right paw stretched out toward the camera. He is fast asleep and the morning light through the window above is shining through his fur.. His eyebrow hairs shine bright against a blue puppy bed behind him.
A sleepy FLD Henry.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A tear -dryer, not only for me

I carry FLD Henry from the car across the park to meet Tammy. She is sitting in the pavilion waiting for us. I set the sleepy pup down some 20 feet away and wait for him to "park."

A short, round man strolling with a rounder old dog along a perimeter fence line spots Henry. "A baby!" he exclaims and picks up his pace to a slow walk. I hadn't even had Henry for two hours and already he is attracting attention. I shouldn't be surprised. Henry is an adorable puppy.

A small yellow lab/golden cross puppy is in mid-shake. He is standing, facing the camera with his eyes closed and his ears all floppy and the tag on his collar is flying up. The background is blurry, you can almost make out a parking lot and a white car.
FLD Henry shakes off.

Henry pees before the man reaches us. (Yay!) I snap him up into my arms. The man is disappointed that I don't let him meet his dog.

"He hasn't had all his shots, yet," I say. The man's dog, some kind of beagle mix, is overweight, has cloudy eyes and a myriad of gnarly red tumors sprouting from her snout, ears, paws and just about everywhere. 

"She's on her last leg," the man says. "And so am I." He lifts his shirt slightly to show us a black bag and holster belted around his waist. "This is my mechanical heart. I'm getting a transplant and I won't be able to get another puppy. It's a bad time for me."

I step forward. "You can pet him," I say. The man asks, "Can I hold him?" I hand over Henry, who snuggles into his neck as the man buries his face against his fur. The man takes a deep breath. "Puppies always smell so good!" he sighs.

"This is Henry," I say. "Henry!" the man exclaims. "Sadie, where's Henry?" Sadie has curled up a few feet away, glad for the break. I'm worried the man will bring Henry down to greet her. 

"My Sadie has a favorite stuffed toy named Henry," the man explains. Sadie isn't interested, she seems content to rest. I reach to retrieve my puppy. Instead, the man slips the handle of Sadie's retractable leash into my hand and begs me to let him hold Henry for just a little longer. The man eases himself onto the picnic table bench and begins to quietly cry into Henry's shoulder.

Henry quietly accommodates him.

A close floor-level shot of a small yellow lab/golden mix puppy lying on the cement. The puppy's chin is resting on the cement and his eyes are sleepy. His ears are touching the cement.
FLD Henry takes a nap under our picnic table. It's hard work lending a shoulder to cry on!

Friday, July 25, 2014


It is never easy. But there comes a time when we are called to make that hard decision and give our pets a gift of peace. This week it was time for my Gypsy. At 14, my anxious mutt had too much pain.

We let her go.

A black and white photo of a medium sized old dog with a brindle coat, lying in the grass. The dog is facing the camer with her eyes closes and her ears flopped back.
My old Gypsy-doodle enjoys a bit of sun.

Over the last several years, Gypsy kept a string of Future Leader Dog (FLD) puppies in line (and off the furniture). She helped raise Rosie, Mike, Gus, Scout and Dutch. She also kept some part-timers in line. FLDs Bear and Bandit spent time here before heading off to prison. She puppy-sitted FLDs Baker and Grant this past year. 

The old girl will be missed. There is one thing, however, that works wonders in drying tears. 

Introducing - FLD Henry!

A ground level shot of a small yellow lab/golden retriever puppy standing in front of a black german shepherd dog stature. The puppy's leash is looped around the statue's leg. The boy puppy is facing the camera and he is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. His head is slightly up.
FLD Henry looking proud by the statue in front of the kennel lobby at Leader Dogs for the Blind.

After we returned Dutch to Leader Dogs last fall I decided to wait to see how Gypsy fared before bringing yet another puppy into our home. Some family commitments made my choice an easy one.

But now I was able to say "yes" when Leader Dogs called about a puppy.

FLD Henry (named by my hubby after Henry Blake in MASH) is a Golden Retriever/Labrador mix. His Golden Retriever mother, Emma, is Dutch's sister; his father is my puppy counselor Tammy's breed stock yellow lab, Wally.

Here we go again!