J-Pups

Happiness Is . . .

Resting and recuperating at home.

IMG_3636

Good news from the vet.

IMG_3637

And having your bestie nearby again!

IMG_3632

I thank you for all the good juju yesterday.  It helped!  Jenny did well with a very nasty surgery.  She got to come home last night, which no one really expected.  And so far (keep your fingers crossed) we are having an easy time with her recovery here at home.  (Her surgery comes with some potentially . . . messy . . . side effects.  So far, so good.)  

I think no one is happier to have Jenny home than JoJo!  She moped all day yesterday, and was just not quite herself.  She even slacked off with perimeter control, which she sees as her Most Important Role in our pack.  (Trust me, this is BIG.)

Happiness is . . . hanging around with your pack!


Hungry Dogs

As I write this blog post this morning, my dogs are looking at me with the mournful eyes.

For they are very hungry.

S-t-a-r-v-i-n-g, in fact.

And I am not feeding them.

Why?

Because this diva . . . 

IMG_4531

is scheduled for some rather serious surgery in a couple of hours.  (Please send the good juju.  She is 11, and we'd like to keep her around a while longer.)

My hungry dogs remind me of this perfect Mary Oliver poem, from her Dog Songs book.

The Wicked Smile
by Mary Oliver

"Please, please, I think I haven't eaten
for days."

What?  Ricky, you had a huge supper.

"I did? My stomach doesn't remember.
Oh, I think I'm fading away.  Please
make me breakfast and I'll tell you 
something you don't know."

He ate rapidly.

Okay, I said  What were you going to
tell me?

He smiled the wicked smile.  "Before we
came over, Anne already gave me my breakfast,"
he said.

Be prepared.  A dog is adorable and noble.
A dog is true and loving friend.  A dog
is also a hedonist.


Next Up: Adventure

Last month I told you about Jen Tulson's Sacred Invitation Deck -- a set of beautiful cards I won in a random drawing -- that I'm using as a tool in creating an "area of refuge" for myself.

The first card I chose was . . . savor.  And the card did its magical work!  Every time I glanced at it, I found myself thinking about simple things that I savored in my life (looking out the window at the snow, being able to throw a hand knit shawl over my legs when I was chilly, the smell of food cooking in the kitchen . . . that kind of thing).

I liked the savor card!  It brought me comfort and a daily gentle reminder to notice the little things.  I was in no hurry to switch it out with another.  And so it remained, sitting on my desk (in a little stand-up card holder I had stashed away in my junk drawer) for nearly a month.

Until it wasn't.

Over the weekend, it must have fallen to the floor under my desk.  And this pup . . . 

IMG_2381

normally so well-behaved - but with a strange penchant for cardstock (and only cardstock) that she finds lying on the floor - decided to, well . . . savor it herself!

IMG_2445

I decided, then, that the time had come for me to choose another card!  

IMG_2447

But I'm gonna be honest here.  When I saw my new card - adventure - I was disappointed.

Adventure?

In the middle of February?

I mean, seriously?  Adventure . . . conjures excitement and new and plans and going somewhere.  Not . . . exactly what my life looks like right now, y'know?

But I stuck the card in the little holder on my desk anyway.  I'm going to live with it for awhile and see where it takes me.
Because hmmmm.  
You never know.

 


On Frolicking, Snow, and a Poem

We had our first snow yesterday.  Not much.  But enough to cause some roadway havoc.

I always love the first few snows of the season . . . but the dogs?  Oh, they REVEL in it!  They race around the yard, frolicking.  They rub their faces in the snow and dig and roll and chase each other.  It is Pure Dog Joy!

IMG_1465

Watching them play in the snow always makes me think of this perfect poem by Mary Oliver, from her book Dog Songs.

The Storm (Bear)
    --- by Mary Oliver

Now through the white orchard my little dog
    romps, breaking the new snow
    with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
    hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins,
until the white snow is written upon
    in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
    the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better
    myself.

==========

Have a wonderful weekend!


Dogs on Vacation

Although our dogs come up north to our cottage with us all the time, they usually have to stay at home with a dog-sitter when we go on vacations to other places.  It was a Grand Adventure, then, for all of us, when we brought the dogs along to Beaver Island for our vacation.

IMG_8015

Beaver Island is completely dog-friendly - beginning with the island ferry, where the dogs got their own tickets!

IMG_7776

Both dogs did just great on the 2-hour ferry ride out to the island (which is in the middle of northern Lake Michigan).  They were well-behaved and pretty relaxed.  (It was tougher on our way home because the water was really rough that day, and they were somewhat uncomfortable about that.  But still good dogs!)

IMG_7794
IMG_7794

On the island, we stayed in a cottage right on the lakeshore for the week.  It was pretty much dog-heaven -- with the water and the woods and the turkeys and the snakes.  So very much to check out!

IMG_7992

One day, the lake was super calm -- barely even a ripple on the surface.  A perfect day for swimming!  

IMG_7910

We had hoped for a dog-swimming-day and planned accordingly, packing water toys -- including one of Jenny's favorite blue floatation cushions.  The dogs LOVED swimming in the "big lake!"

IMG_7896 2

The shoreline of the island is mostly rocky, so it's challenging to "walk the beach" -- but there are a few bays with sandy beaches.  They are very dog-friendly (unlike most of the Lake Michigan beaches nearer to home, where dogs are not allowed - even on leash) and the dogs were welcome.  We were able to let them off-leash where they could walk along with us, free to explore and roam a little.

IMG_7863 3

They LOVED it!

IMG_8092

And we did our part to keep the beaches walk-able for everyone. . . 

IMG_8166

It truly was a Grand Adventure for all of us -- J-pups included.

IMG_7939 2

==========

And, as an update, Jenny is feeling much better.  (She got into the trash at our cabin on the last night of our vacation. . . )  We're still waiting for her to pass whatever "interesting thing" she ate -- but she's eating again, and acting like her usual cantankerous self!


Decade Dog

 Saturday we celebrated Jenny's 10th birthday . . . 

with a long walk on the trail at Asylum Lake

IMG_5207

and special dog treats --  dog-hamburgers on the grill and special doggy-cones at our neighborhood ice cream parlor. 

IMG_5225

Jenny enjoyed all the special attention (and JoJo loved tagging along for the fun).

But it go me thinking . . . 

Ten years . . . they go by in the blink of an eye.

(But in dog years???  Even faster!)

The summer we got Jenny - as an 8-week-old pup - Erin had just graduated from high school,

DSC00048 copy

and Brian was a gawky high school freshman!

2007 new pup 2 copy

We had recently lost our 14-year-old German Shepherd, Jake, and were all still grieving when Jenny came along to fill the hole in our lives (and hearts).

She fit right in to our family, and quickly became a beloved member of our "pack."

IMG_2300 copy

She's been very healthy and low-maintenance -- except for her two "knee replacement" surgeries, of course.  But those surgeries were totally worth it -- as she now has "bionic knees" and shows no signs of arthritis.  (She's in for the long haul.)

IMG_0043 (1) copy

It took awhile, but she's (pretty much) forgiven us for bringing JoJo into her life 4 years ago.

IMG_2258 copy

Even though Jenny is quite a diva about the whole thing, she and JoJo get along well and seem to enjoy sharing the same space.

IMG_2931_2 copy

There's some healthy rivalry there, sure.  JoJo's youthful exuberance drives Jenny crazy sometimes . . . but there is no doubt, really, about who is boss.

IMG_2867 copy

Happy birthday, Jenny . . . our Decade Dog!

 


Out and About

Last Friday, we had the first day that's really felt like spring (well . . . since February . . . ), so I decided to take the dogs for a trail walk.

Let's just say . . . 

IMG_4750

BIG HIT!

Although I take them out for a neighborhood walk nearly every day (which they love), our routes are completely "old hat" by now.  There just aren't very many surprises or curiousities on our walks in the neighborhood, y'know?

So they loved getting out in the woods.  On a trail.  With millions of fresh smells!  (Oh, happy day.)

It was great to be out, enjoying a beautiful spring day in the sunshine.  

IMG_4790

We went to Asylum Lake,* which is only about a 10 minute drive from my house.  There is a trail that loops about 2.6 miles, past the lake, beside a little stream, and through a meadow.

IMG_4788

It's very nice -- and especially with the dogs.  They really do love getting out and exploring -- although it was hard to keep them out of the water.  (Jenny plunged right into the creek, pulling JoJo -- and almost me, too -- with her.)

Best of all?  Lovely weather -- with sunshine and warm temperatures.

IMG_4792 2

There really wasn't any evidence of "spring" quite yet in the woods, but soon.  Very soon, I'm sure.

IMG_4791

For now, it was great to just be . . . out and about . . . with my very happy dogs!

==========

*  Asylum Lake is located on the former grounds of the Michigan State Asylum (yeah . . . ), now part of the Western Michigan University campus.


Morning Ritual . . . Now With Added Tail-Wagging

A couple of years ago, I added meditation to my daily morning ritual.  I discovered that meditation was a powerful tool for me; that it helped me feel centered and prepared to meet the day.

But then . . . last year . . . lots of my regular habits and rituals started to unravel.  Including my budding meditation practice.  (Like I've mentioned before . . . I lost my balance last year.)

So.

I decided to use last month's One Little Word challenge (to develop a new habit or activity) as an opportunity to put meditation back into my daily morning ritual; to get myself back in balance.

IMG_4452

With a few exceptions, my focus on daily meditation was a great success, and the practice is now rooted in my morning ritual.

IMG_4453 2

I've discovered a few things along the way.

  • If I let the morning get away without meditation, it's much harder for me to find a way to fold it into my day later.  (Those days I missed?  It's because my morning was crazier than normal that day.)
  • It helps to have a designated place for meditation -- and a signal to let Tom know I'm meditating and not to disturb me.  (I close the door - and then Tom remembers that I'm meditating.)
  • I really like having a candle burning . . . even though I tend to close my eyes during meditation.
  • Soft, gentle music playing in the background helps me stay focused.
  • No distractions allowed.  No phone.  No Tom.  No dogs.

But wait a minute.

No dogs???

While Tom understands that a closed door means Do Not Disturb . . . the dogs?  Not so much.  They sit on the other side of the closed door and try to get in.  Loudly.  Distractingly.  (And sort of pathetically.)

After several days of trying to keep them out, I decided to give in and let them come in with me for daily meditation.

IMG_4455

We begin the ritual with some petting and tail-wagging.  Maybe a dog-kiss or two.  And then we all settle into our places.  JoJo usually to my right, and Jenny right behind me.

Turns out my daily meditation practice is enhanced with dogs.  And I think this is really okay.  Because, for me, interacting with my dogs is a great way to get into a more mindful state of being.

And I think they like it, too!

IMG_4454

Have a great weekend!

 


Hygge Weather

It started snowing here on Friday.

IMG_1587

And, with only a brief pause Saturday afternoon, it hasn't stopped yet.  (Although definitely tapering down now.)

IMG_3253

Yeah.  Garden Buddha . . . wearing his little snow-cap at noon on Sunday.  Now?  Well, now you can't see his face.

But this is perfect hygge-weather!  

The dogs LOVE to romp in the snow.

IMG_5282
IMG_5282
IMG_5282

We enjoyed a little time out in the snow -- I filled the bird feeders while Tom threw snowballs (JoJo loves to chase snowballs).  I took a lot of photos.  

And Tom and I got out to the gym and to see a movie.

Inside, though, it was All-Hygge-All-the-Time!

IMG_8226
IMG_8226
IMG_8226

I hope your weekend was nice and cozy and hygge-filled, too.