Tag Archives: dogs

By The Sweat of Your Brow You Will Eat

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Abby, “Mom, give my food now.”

When I was a kid, my mom used to say over and over again, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat,” and I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about.  In my defense, I was 6 years old at that time.  Anyway, now I understand what she meant and this is something that also applies to our canine companions.  By the way, do you see that pair of socks on the floor?  I left them there on purpose.  Why?  So Abby can go and play with them and I can correct her.  She won’t learn unless she makes mistakes.

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Abby, “Mom, you have my undivided attention.”

Notice the distance between Abby and me, but remember that she has been with us for almost 2 months so this was not an overnight thing.  I started with very little distance and now I’ve increased it.  The hand signal is for her to stay and this is why Basic Training is important.  Look at Abby’s eye contact.  Perfect!

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Abby, “Oh boy, when will I eat?”

Now is a good time to feed her.  I started by feeding her in her kennel and then outside the kennel.  Next time I’ll post what she does prior to sitting pretty like that.  Why?  Because she goes bananas and she has learned that she will not eat until she is calm.  As you can see, Abby does work for her food, or should I say sweat?  And just so we are clear, this is a combination of behavior and training.  We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but little by little we are getting there.  Do you make your dog work for his food?  If so, how?  Enjoy your weekend.

Letting Go Of My Alex

ltg1There is a special place for dogs called Rainbow Bridge and that’s where my Alex went on Wednesday, August 12 of this year. Alex turned 13 years old this year and we celebrated her birthday a bit late and I remember thinking, “I hope we have more years together.” But that was not meant to be.

We got Alex when she was a little over 2 months old, and Cynthia was not too crazy about her, but as time went by I saw Alex work her magic and Cynthia fell in love with her. The day we took her for the very last time to the vet, I was driving while Cynthia sat in the back seat with Alex. I was very serious and quiet but I would not allow myself to cry because I was thinking, “I need to be there for Alex. Don’t cry,” but as soon as Cynthia touched my arm without saying a single word the tears just came rolling down my cheeks. At that point in time my heart was telling me, “Drive. Drive. Don’t stop. Go back to Maryland and all would be fine.” But my head was saying, “Do the right thing, and let her go.” I stopped crying and we finally got to the vet. We were led to a small room where we were given time to say goodbye to Alex. Cynthia couldn’t stop crying. I kissed and hugged Alex and after that my girl stayed with Cynthia giving her kisses while she continued crying. Till the very end, Alex kept teaching us lessons to live by. Although Alex really was my dog, her last moments were spent consoling Cynthia. I can still see them together and it was amazingly moving. Cynthia had fallen in love with my Alex. The vet and vet tech finally came in and while Cynthia held Alex in her arms and I held her little white paws in my hands Alex left this world.

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We stayed with Alex for a while and then we put her on a stretcher and gave her a final kiss and hug. We went outside and sat in the car crying our eyes out for I don’t know how long. 13 years of being the 3 musketeers all of a sudden ended. It has taken me almost a month to write about Alex because I just didn’t have the strength to do it, but now I am ready, so here it goes.

Alex and Gir

Alex and Gir

My dear Alex,
Let me start by saying that you’ve been the best teacher I could have ever wished for. If one day I could be even a fraction of the amazing being you were, I’d venture to say that I did great. You were my furry kid, companion, and most of all my teacher. Because of you I learned about patience, tolerance, love, peace, laughter, and even the one I find the hardest to do, letting go.

Words could never express how much I miss you. You were the only being that could calm me down when I was enraged. There were times when you knew that I was mad even before I realized it. You’d shiver and look straight at me. That’s how Cynthia knew I was mad. You always gave me away. I’d look at you and my anger would disappear in a matter of seconds. You had that calming effect on me. I heard somewhere that we don’t get the dogs we want, we get the dogs we need and I do believe that was the case with you.

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It’s been almost a month since you left, and your bed, brace and leash are still in their usual place. I cannot put them away yet. Your ashes are in the living room where we spend most of our time and I keep telling myself, “She is still with you. She is still with you.” I don’t know what to do without you in my life. I truly do not. I feel a void, an emptiness, a hole in my heart, a pain that words would never be able to fully describe.

It’s amazing how much I changed because of you. I was a party girl. Before you came into my life, fun was going out dancing on the weekends. Once you entered my life, fun was staying at home with you and Cynthia watching TV and eating popcorn. I don’t regret one single night I enjoyed at home with you. Also, I wasn’t a very friendly person, you, on the other hand, greeted every person as if he/she were your best friend therefore I had to say, “Hello.” Do you see how much you changed me?

Walter, Alex, and Dexter (L to R)

Walter, Alex, and Dexter (L to R)

Alex, I love you with all my heart. I miss you dearly and you will forever be in my heart and in my thoughts. Thank you for all the lessons you taught me, for all the kisses you gave me when I cried, for all the times you made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt, for your love, for your companionship, for the balance that you brought into my life, and for so much more.

It was an adventure, a learning experience, a love affair, a joyful journey, and a privilege to have had you in my life. I will be forever grateful to have been fortunate enough to be your mom.

Till we see each other again, your mom,

Marcela

Alex Found a Sea Monster in Boston, MA

Alex, "Mom, let's go and explore."

Alex, “Mom, let’s go and explore.”

Every time we go somewhere new, Cynthia along with Alex love to explore the area, as you can clearly see in the above picture.

Alex, "Moms, I think I found a water monster."

Alex, “Moms, I think I found a sea monster.”

It always amuses me to see Alex explore her surroundings with such interest.  I guess Alex found a sea monster.

Alex, "Moms, I am not kidding.  I found a sea monster."

Alex, “Moms, I am not kidding. I found a sea monster.”

I guess if Alex found a sea monster, she will be featured in the news and have her 15 minutes of fame.  Well, let’s hope it doesn’t go to her head.

Alex, "Never mind.  I am not as brave as I thought."

Alex, “Never mind. I am not as brave as I thought.”

Ok., let’s forget Alex’s 15 minutes of fame.  My girl hightailed out of the water when she saw that her new found sea monster got too close to her.

Alex, "I am not afraid of you, sea monster."

Alex, “I am not afraid of you, sea monster.”

Alex decided that the best way to observe a sea monster is from shore.  This way nobody gets hurt.  Well, rather nobody gets scared out of her mind is more like it.  My funny girl.  She always puts a smile on our face.

The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston

maholo1While in Boston, I had the opportunity to visit the New England Holocaust Memorial, and to say that I was touched by what I read would be an understatement.  What resonated with me most was this:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

—Martin Niemoeller

maholo2I am a firm believer that if we do not learn from History, then we are bound to repeat it.  It is terrible to know that we, human beings, are capable of such atrocities.  And then, I take a look at my Alex, and say to myself, “Yes, but there are also amazing people along with amazing dogs.”  I don’t know, for me, a canine companion such like Alex, is essential in my life.  Alex makes me do something I have a hard time doing and that is to live in the moment.  So, with that in mind, I would say carpe the heck out of the diem, and if along the way you are able to make a difference in the life of a person or a dog, then in my book you are an angel.

Dinner – Chicken, Rice, and Mashed Potatoes

mp1After reading about what goes in the making of kibble, I decided that it’d be best to feed Alex a combination of human food and kibble with the former making up most of her diet.  In Ecuador, where I am originally from, when I was a kid our pets were fed scraps and I don’t ever remember anybody saying, “My dog has allergies,” but that is a topic for another post.

Anyway, tonight I cooked some chicken in the oven for us.  I did season my portion, 1 chicken leg with Adobo, while leaving Alex’s portion unseasoned.

mp2 I mixed 1/4 cup of kibble, white rice, mashed potatoes, and chicken with no bones.  The mashed potatoes did have a little bit of salt.  When she saw me putting this together she was in the kitchen with me as if asking, “Is that for me?”  Yes, this is for you Alex.

mp3Once all the ingredients were mixed, I served it to Alex.  She, to my delight, inhaled the food.  I love when she eats.  Once she finished, she did what she does every single night.

mp4She waited for me to finish doing dishes so I can brush her teeth, which is followed by Alex getting a dental treat.  Between you and me, I think she hangs around the kitchen just so she can get that treat.  The good thing about this routine of hers is that it reminds me that I have to brush her teeth.  Smart girl.

Belated Happy New Year 2015

2015This was the first year we were not home.  Instead we went to Boston to visit family and did a little sightseeing while there.  As you can see, Alex could care less about the ducks around her.

20152It was funny to see Alex totally uninterested in all the real ducks around her, but once she saw these “fake” ducks she couldn’t help herself and she had to go and meet them.  As you can see, she is meeting them the polite way, the doggie way.  How?  By sniffing the tush.

20153Alex even posed with them.  She was such a good girl.  By the way, because it was so cold that day, we were out for about 20-30 minutes only.  We parked very close so we went back to the car and headed to get some food.

20154We could take Alex pretty much anywhere dogs are allowed because she is used to so many things, including horses.  We saw a policeman on a horse, but I was hesitant about asking him for a picture so we kept walking.  When Alex was a puppy I took her everywhere so that as an adult dog she would be comfortable in different situations and areas.  Belated happy new year 2015!

Bundle Up Your Canine Companions

bundle1Many times, we assume that our furry kids can deal with a cold climate like the one we get here in Maryland, but that is not true.  Our furry kids, just like us, do get cold and we must make sure that they are  properly attire to withstand cold weather.  Alex, in the above picture, is wearing a jacket, but since she gets cold very easy nowadays I am adding a sweater to that jacket when we go out.

bundle2Some dogs like Alex and Dexter with short hair need to be protected from the cold even when they are home.  Depending on how cold the day is, I make Alex and Bella wear a sweater.  Puppies and senior dogs are more sensitive to extreme weather than young, healthy dogs.

bundle3With that being said, please make sure that your canine companions have a comfortable bed that includes at least one blanket, and when venturing outside a sweater and jacket would be nice.  Of course, do not forget to bundle up yourself.