Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Good Bye Lucky Lucy

lucky4x6webAfter 3 months of diligent searching for my “missing” dog beginning last February 1st, Lucky’s remains were found under our house by the Orkin inspector, cause of death unknown.  She was last seen by me, bounding around in the back yard, young, healthy, hearty, and in love with life.
I have not until today been able to blog any notice of this, or blog anything further about dog training, and can not at this time post more than a few of her photos in memoriam, to let people know that she was here. and now is gone.

Lucky Lucy Lu Lu von Fry, MX, AXJ, CGC
 “I love you, I miss you, I’ll never forget you, my beautiful girl.”
Love you forever, Mamma

Outside The Ring– #11 Blog Action Day

I’ve been out of the ring now for almost a year, as in, with no dog to run.  I think this topic was meant to be more like “how do I train between trials”, BUT . . .  maybe I have something useful to say, too. Here’s what the other dog agility bloggers have to say:
Starting with why are we out?  Several reasons combined to make 2014 a rough year. 
MaxieTireSquare120x1201. Maxie has slowed down so much that, from 1st places almost every Q, he barely makes course time. For some reason he won’t, or can’t, run fast any more.  After 2 chiropractic adjustments where the doctor said he was “badly out of alignment”, and I heard her pop his sternum back into place, I dare not push him.  Also, since he had 12 teeth removed late last year, his personality seems to have changed.  He’s not as confident, not as feisty, not as demanding of attention.  He actually chooses to sleep in another room, for example.
2. And then, I tripped on a tree root at the agility field last December and tore the meniscus in my left knee.  Painful, and after an MRI, 16 weeks of PT, and 8 months of sitting out, it still throbs and I can’t run at all.
LuckyTire 5x7 web3. Meanwhile, in late January my young, daring, robust, 50 lb. Lucky Lucy mysteriously disappeared, and after 3 months of desperate searching, the Orkin man found her remains under our house.  Due to very cold weather, we never smelled her decaying.  When my husband and son retrieved her from under the house, they put her in a box for me and I took her to the vet next day for cremation.  The box weighed 20 pounds.  Just skin, and bones.  30 pounds missing!  I’ve suffered continuous grief and no closure there, as I still have no idea why she died.  Time has done little to assuage my sadness.  I miss her so much at every turn!  At the mere mention of her name I still tear up.  Her ashes are still in John’s trunk.  I can’t bear to bring them inside.  Going from playing fetch every day, admiring her beauty and insatiable joyfulness every time I looked at her, training and strategizing how to make my girl love the ring (she loves agility, just hates the ring), to no partner, no nothing, has left a gigantic hole in my life. Everyone about me seems to think I should just “get over it”, “get another dog”, “get back in the ring”, after all she’s “just a dog”, etc. The doctor prescribed “anti-depressants”.  All such advice just makes me realize that grief is not well understood.
GRIEVING: I’ve learned that people are terrified of grief.  Nobody knows how to behave around someone crying, how to console the bereaved.  Where does one learn that, anyway? Who wants to be around a sad sack? That’s why it is easier, for all concerned, for the bereived to be alone. But I want to say, grieving is a very important process.  Loss has an intensity shared by no other life transition: except maybe birth, shame, pride, and falling in love. It isn’t bad.  It teaches you a lot about yourself - what is truly important to you. For me, it wasn’t agility, but affection, partnership, loyalty, devotion.  Grief can actually be a way to stay in touch with those qualities, re-living the joy of fondest memories, feeling deeply the bonds of intense love.   If loved ones were instantly replaceable, not long missed, (as in,, “life is too short to waste on being sad”), that would be horrible.  What would that say about any one individual’s worth?  The whole concept of a “cherished loved one” would be moot.  This, my first experience of inconsolable loss, has made me better understand those who likewise grieve.  My mother, for example, widowed 2 years ago after 65 years of marriage, breaking down sobbing at odd moments,with that vacant look in her eye now and then, is more understandable now. I see why in the old days widows wore black for a year – to remind everybody to cut them some slack, give them some space, don’t try to “fix” them.  Let TIME heal the wound. One learns to live with loss – slowly!  I also understand why some people can’t bear to talk about the loss. Even after years, it’s too painful. Some things are irreplaceable!   
4. In April, amidst the bum knee, sick husband, and missing dog,  I moved my aforementioned 93 year old mother to Baton Rouge and we are both still adjusting to her constant presence in my life – in an Assisted Living situation down the road from me. Lots and lots to do to help her adjust and I’m happy to do it.  Doctor’s appointments.  Social outings. Shopping.  Repairs.  Being on call.  Trying to make her days enjoyable when she needs a walker to get about, can’t drive, is getting hard of hearing, is kind of stuck in the past, with lots of aches and pains, etc. Really makes me appreciate the 4 years I had of relative freedom from responsibility!   And the ability to drive.  Cherish your freedom.
5. Oh, and I must mention, my husband and I both quit smoking in January after his bout with a strange type of flu that kept him 15 days on oxygen in intensive care – another big adjustment. According to the doctors, I almost lost him.  As of this writing, he hasn’t yet regained all his strength.  He no longer sets courses for our dog club’s trials, and we’ve had to hire various handy men around the house, whom I get to manage.  What with my bum knee and both of us doing lots more sitting, we’ve each put on about 20 lbs. 
WHOA! Agility does keep the weight down – and that’s one more reason for none of you to ever, ever leave the ring!  I hope you never have to.
Actually, life outside the ring is a lot easier.  I don’t miss the tension of packing up the motor home, long checklists, getting dogs ready, hours on the road, living through storms in a little tin house, dealing with dirt, soreness and injuries, jostling among all the people, the tension of watching the time, memorizing courses, performing the run, processing videos, beefing up my mental game, etc. – all very tedious, requiring extreme focus and total dedication, not to mention gobbling up the time.   It’s a miracle anybody puts themselves through all that trouble.  That so many do is a testament to how our dogs inspire us.
Actually, I only did agility because  . . . . . how can one not . . . . . when our dogs beg every day to be trained and yearn for their turn, there’s a huge payoff in satisfying them.   But  I never acquired an “agility dog” for the sheer love of the sport.  With Lucky gone, Maxie lethargic, Pepper content to be my “buddy”, and Willow too old, I don’t currently have an agility partner.  Maybe when the dust settles around here, and perhaps if I experience another “fatal attraction’ with a motivated, athletic dog that wins my heart and demands my attention, I may well get back in the ring. Lots of my dog friends are getting new puppies, specifically to train in agility. It had it’s peak moments for me, and it would be a shame to waste all that I’ve learned. I wouldn’t trade my experience.  I cherish every ribbon.  Maxie is only 6 QQ’s away from championship, and I do hope we can accomplish that someday.  He’s only 6.  We have time.  When my husband retires in 2.5 years, maybe we’ll head out west in the Motor Home and go trial hopping!
2012-11-28 001 002Meanwhile, friends, I want you to know there is life beyond agility.  I frequently take my 3 papillons (Pepper, Willow, Maxie) to Mom’s nursing home for pet therapy visits.  They are much admired and very popular, and Maxie still loves to perform.  I’m beginning a blog on the “assisted living” experience – lots going on there. 

And, I’ve been recording audio books for Librivox. (type Michele Fry into the search box to see what I’ve recorded so far).  And I’m learning to create podcasts.  Challenging hobbies, all, keeping me motivated, in touch with creative processes and surrounded by human genius.
So, that’s where I’m at right now.  I just beg you all to realize that nothing we do or have is cast in stone. Pets.  Homes.  Friends. Family.  Activities.  Health.  Free time.  Count your blessings and cherish them all.
Upwards and onward!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lucky Lucy is Missing

February 1st, about 1:45 P.M., Lucky Lucy jumped my fence, disappeared, and my life has been a nightmare ever since.  She frequently jumps the fence, but I am usually outside with her, begin calling her immediately, and she comes back within a few minutes.  But this time I put her out, went to the bathroom, and when I came back out she was gone.  I’m pretty sure she was nabbed in the park.

We’ve combed the neighborhoods, the woods, the highway calling her name.  I laminated and posted about 30 of these flyers around the immediate neighborhoods,  posted on Facebook, Craig’s List, Petfinders, brought copies to Animal Control, Companion Animal Alliance, police and sheriff sub-stations, and am still handing out door to door each day, visiting the pound each week,
All the stuff they say to do, I am doing as fast as I can.  Including offering a reward.  But it’s just a drop in the bucket. It’s a huge city. She could be anywhere.
I’m usually speechless, and when I talk can’t stop crying, and my family is advising me to “get over it” and “get on with my life”, which makes me crazier than ever. 
I don’t want to get over it.  I can’t believe she is gone.  I can’t believe there is such a thin veneer of “protection” surrounding our pets.  It’s ridiculous.  Microchips aren’t worth anything if nobody scans your dog. Collars and tags with phone numbers to call are meaningless if somebody wants to keep your pet for themselves.
I want to revamp the system, which is mostly ineffective, and so cumbersome hardly anyone can do it.  Not everyone has a computer, a camera, a color printer, and lots of time like I do, but even with all the tools available, it’s a drop in the bucket.

I’ve found out some shocking things during this nightmare venture.

DID YOU KNOW that if an animal is found dead on the road or in a ditch, Animal Control does NOT come pick them up.  Nobody scans them for a microchip, take their photo and place it online anywhere.  What happens is that Waste Management is called to come out and remove the carcass.   No attempt is made to ID the animal or contact the owners!

DID YOU KNOW that if someone nabs your dog and is caught, the legal punishment ranges from a $500 fine to a $1500 fine, and a bit of jail time, but it all depends upon "the strength of the bond" between owner and animal, which the OWNER HAS TO PROVE.  Upshot of it is, it's only a crime to steal someone's pet if the owner can prove they care a lot about the animal.

DID YOU KNOW that microchips can "slip" and become hard to detect.

DID YOU KNOW that fewer than 20% of lost pets are ever reunited with their owners.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Goodbye, FoohFooh

Fooh Fooh Fontenot von Fry,
American Dingo (aka  Carolina Dog)
FoohFooh left this world today at 3:45 p.m.  He could no longer walk nor hold his water, but he ate his last hamburger and fries with relish on the way to the vet, then went peacefully within a few seconds of getting his shot.  John and I were both with him and while sad, we are satisfied he left as he lived . . . with dignity.  We'll scatter his ashes in his woods behind the bonfire area in a few weeks. He was 15.

Living with, raising and training a dingo has been a rewarding but very challenging experience. I'll let the first post of this blog, which was named after him and Maxie (foohmax), serve as his memorial. I'd like to add that I asked him to do a last trick, a Fay-Do-Do, on the table while waiting for the vet, and he immediately laid down his head and held the pose, like a statue, probably waiting for a treat.

Here's a great quote from a dingo website that expresses our feelings for FoohFooh:
"Dogs give us their absolute all. We are the center of their Universe.  We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.  It is without doubt the best deal man has ever made."  Roger Caras

Here’s an article published in the Smithsonian Magazine about this semi-wild breed.

We didn't know FoohFooh was a dingo when we adopted him at 12 weeks of age, just a lively little puppy with floppy ears who needed a home.  We identifying him much later as a Carolina Dog (American Dingo).  Here are some website photos that leave no doubt about his breed. Check them out.

We’d like to thank all the wonderful friends/family members who have taken care of and shown such patience with Fooh Fooh over the years (Audrey, Laura, Schuyler, Nathan, Garret, Portia) when we've gone out of town to agility trials or on trips, coming at 8 a.m. and/or 8 p.m. to feed him, as well as mid-day to let him out and play with him awhile.

Upwards and onward!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

L to R:  Pepper, Lucky Lucy, Maxie
Here's our very first doggie posed Christmas Card!  I sent it out to family in magnetic frames, and to the dog's teachers and friends in a big card.  Of course the question was "Where's Willow?"  All I can say is Willow doesn't do agility and didn't attend the trial where the photographer was.  I posed the dogs I had with me.

Christmas was fun.  Jonathan came into town, we gathered at Audrey's house Christmas night with all the usual peeps.  I made a double batch of Seafood Gumbo, Audrey made her Oyster Dressing and Sweet Potatoes, other people brought salads and desserts.  Yum!   Then Nathan, Jonathan, John and I all went to see Hobbit II 3D the next night (John's treat).  The dragon was the most awesome ever, but my assessment of the movie was . . . . .  too loud, too long, with too much dragon, and too many orks . . . . . and 28 minutes of previews).  They overdid everything.  I had to make earplugs with my napkin to survive the high decibels.  Movie theatres seem hell-bent on making the populous deaf.
New Year's Eve . . . after 15 straight years of partying around a bonfire in our yard, writing our resolutions on a cabbage leaf, and all jumping the fireline and walking the labyrinth at midnight, we didn't do anything this year.  The energy just wasn't right.  The lawnmower broke so we couldn't vacuum the leaves nor even see the grass labyrinth, John pulled his back and was (still is) moaning with acute pain, my knee prevents me from walking much, Schuyler had the flu, the kids all had young people plans, and Laura's sister, Julie, came to her house to get some rest (she's going to have a baby in 25 days or so and is exhausted). Besides which, it drizzled all day and evening in 45 degree weather. Everyone hunkered down at home.  We all talked on the phone, though.  Audrey and I made sure to be talking together at midnight, and I went outside with towels and wiped the wet dust off my car, with fireworks exploding everywhere, so numerous it sounded like a 3 hour air-raid! And fireworks are illegal in Baton Rouge!!!!!!!!

John and I sat on the front porch sipping hot chocolate, discussed our resolutions and pretty much agreed on a direction for our new year, health being a top priority, financial stability,  family & friends, of course. Following our passions, enjoying each and every day.  And then, of course, being useful,  minimizing stress, etc.

His passion is astronomy, mine is my home, my dogs, and recording audio books for Librivox. 2014 will be interesting for both of us because there's not enough time in the day to learn or do all we want to learn or do, and that's a very good place to be.

Today was the LSU/IOWA game at noon (we won), and Laura made it over for cabbage and black eye peas!  I'll build a fire tonight in my newly repaired fireplace, and we'll look for a new series to watch on Netflix while we recover from our injuries.

My best wishes to everyone out there, and I'll now share my favorite recent fortune cookie wisdom with you: 

"Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out."

Upwards and onward!