Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Goodbye My Watch-over-me Dog, Goodbye My Sweet Lena

On September 18th, shortly after 6:00 in the evening, 
Dr. Erzsi Willoughby  came to our house and euthanized Lena. 

 Dr. Willoughby, deeply intuitive and compassionate, helped Lena to gently slip the leash that bound her to this earth and enter the world of pure spirit.  I miss my constant companion intensely. 

Lena's number one job was to watch over me.  She was committed to this job
and was happiest when she was "going along" with me, wherever our trail might lead.

A likely aussie-kelpie mix, Lena cast a field of friendly cuteness that won 
her many friends.  She thrived around people, lived for the sound of jangling car keys,
and was completely committed to her number one charge - me. 

While cute, Lena packed a ton of fierce determination that she tried to express through
alpha dog moves on Stella, my pitt/shepherd girl, and other dog friends.

Through all the rough and tumble doggie games, she more than held her own.

Lena's expressive face would shine with canine joy
 whenever she heard the magic words, "Lets GO" . . .  

. . . that would send her sprinting across the road into one of her favorite
 places  -  the 90 acres where my horses live.

Over the years she joyously leaped and dashed along
 miles and miles of trails that led through the general pasture.

There she could regularly find the nastiest piles . . . 

. . . that would send her into fits of pure ecstasy.

Our shared trail was full of opportunities for exploration and partnership..

She was amazing around the horses.


And was always there, always listening, watching my every move.

We would play zoomies . . . 

. . . she loved racing away from me, then turn and speed back to my side.

There was never a time, even near the very end,
 that Lena would pass up my invitation, "Lets go".

Wait for me my good dog, I'll catch up with you on the trail home.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

View From Our Summer Trail, 2012

Me and the herd are all "farther down the trail" than when I started sharing our stories.  The last two years have brought some challenges, as is true with so many folks.  My little herd of three still lives in the General Pasture, and while they have all achieved senior status, are doing fine.  I'm right there with them.

Yesterday we had a visit with one of our local vets, Dr. Branch.  He was very patient with my crotchety mares and took great care in doing their teeth.  Lyra, who is now close to 30, still has a decent grinding surface.  She has had a tough time the last 3 winters though.  We took a long look at quality of life issues.  Dr. Branch felt that as long as Lyra is  not in pain and enjoying her life, all is fine.  Lyra is currently part of a pasture band headed by a gorgeous young gelding and still gets great pleasure in kissing me for carrots.  Her life is good!

Autumn has thrived since almost starving to death in 2009.  She is around 25 now, a wonderful trail horse, and an easily worried, easily annoyed character.  When she is mad at me, she will run away when I come for her.  Today she is going to be mad (since I allowed her to be tortured yesterday).  Her teeth are a mess.  When Dr. Branch examined her, he kept saying to himself, "What am I going to do with this?"  She has severe waves on both sides of her jaw, and five loose teeth.  We agreed to leave the teeth alone and I will monitor for pain or infection.  This year her hind right hock has given her some problems, I have been using Acti-flex and I believe it is helping.

Red just keeps getting better and better!  He is the great love of my life.  He is so clear about who he is, what he wants, and does not hesitate to communicate his opinion.  Horses are so eloquent when we attend to their messages.  I am touched at how much he gives me, even when we are disagreeing or when he is being challenged.  On the trip pictured above, he was badly galled by the girth behind his left front elbow (still not sure how that happened).  While he tried to let me know (jigging), I misread his communication yet he kept on going. Red Horse has the quality of HEART to the fullest!   

There are some big changes on the trail ahead.  My job as a school social worker was reduced by .20 - major panic!  Just about exactly what it takes to maintain my little herd.  As sometimes happens, the space created in my life has been filled with some pretty exciting new opportunities.  This summer I have been teaching a school social work class that is necessary for the credential.  The class meets for 8 hours on Saturday - it had been hard work and I am learning as much as I am teaching.  In two weeks I start a new job teaching a social work field seminar, something I've wanted to do for years.  It will fit perfectly - both in terms of time and income, with my work at my schools.  While I am nervous about whether or not I will do a good job with my new responsibilities, I feel such relief and gratitude.

What We Need Is Here
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
~ Wendell Berry ~

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday Red Horse (aka Red Tee Bar) b. 4/28/92

My Red Horse just turned 20 years old.  

We have been together for six of those 20 years -  

almost 1/3 of Red's life, almost 1/10 of mine.  

Best years. 

 When I am on Red's back, I am exactly where I belong.

. I am so blessed!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jim Kenneth Smith 1949 - 2011

Last night I found out that Jim Smith passed on September 16, 2011.  This is a late tribute to a talented man with a big heart.  I hope some of his many friends find their way here.  If you are one of those friends, please add your stories of Jim.

Throughout his life, Jim had many personas - carpenter, buddhist ascetic, house-sitter, runner, carver and artist, actor, body worker, men's movement pioneer, advocate, street outreach worker, real estate agent, and no doubt many others lived out during the years before or after our time together.  With his keen intellect, humor both wicked and subtle, uncanny talent to mimic and recite lines and lines of fictional dialogue, he could have easily been a traveling bard of old.   I still have some of his favorite books -  the Wooster and Jeeves series by J.P. Wodehouse.  It was with the subtle, subdued butler Jeeves that Jim identified.  He was quite taken with the ritual of ancient Japanese culture - the bushido code of the samuri that defined a path of structured service.  Gifted being and caring friend that he could be, Jim's soul was pierced from earlier lost loves and some darker angst.  He would sometimes become overwhelmed with a sense of alienation and despair, haunted by what he perceived as his personal shortcomings.

Jim  once said he was only a hitchhiker, sharing the "ride" with me for a short time. Starting in 1995, that ride stretched into six years and traveled through some of the more challenging passages of my life path.  His encouragement and support truly helped me complete three difficult years of graduate school in an external degree program.  Ultimately, when my life began to flourish he chose a single path.  I missed him deeply.  The companionship we often shared was a pleasure for me as was our shared love of so many activities.  Jim and dogs spoke the same language.  They were drawn to him, a friend to all dogs.  In 1999 his dog Eve  passed with her head  in his lap as he sang her through her passage into death.  While Jim helped many dogs enjoy their lives, he never again had a dog of his own.

During the time I knew him, Jim enjoyed fine cigars, movies - Gary Oldman was one of his favorite actors, hiking,  intellectual exploration, music, carving, baking bread, hiking, encounters with friends and acquaintances when he could let his quirky humor play freely, political discourse, herbal wild crafting, local tribal events, cats, dogs, and driving (for anyone, to anyplace).  Once when I was considering moving to Redmond, Oregon he made the trip just to check out the area for me.  While Jim was capable of great intimacy, he was also easily abraded by the intertwining energies of a shared life. It was not my choice to end out time together.  I will always treasure the pleasure of his company, his kindness, humor, desire to help out whenever possible, and the way that no matter what he "had my back".

My condolences to Jim's mother, brother, and sister-in-law.  I know he loved them deeply.

Here is a link to an online "guest-book" - click HERE.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Second Day of 2012 was Just Wonderful

There was sun, dogs, and horses . . . key ingredients for a glorious day.

Autumn couldn't make up her mind, first she wanted to come in . . . 

. . . then she had second thoughts.

Lyra was ready for dinner . . . 

. . . and gave me a big kiss when she got her halter on.

My new slow feed hay bag from Chick's Saddlery was an excellent deal.

Red Horse enjoyed an early supper in his cozy stall . . . 

. . . and at the end of the day appears quite pleased with life.  Me too!