Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Of Dogs, Horses, Donkey, and a Wee Begging Pony

I would like to start by thanking everyone who has taken the time to send positive thoughts and energy my way; it's working! I was able to walk downstairs this morning without any significant discomfort - well done people :-)

Photo: Roberta Coppler
This photo is of two of my newest friends, Arthur and Aimo. Due to the fact he is sitting closer to the camera, Aimo the Jack Russel looks considerably bigger than he is in person; although his personality certainly is even bigger than it looks here.

These pups are the "security" team at Coppler Farms, where I've been horse riding this fall. They take the job very seriously. Every time I arrive they threaten me with barks, tail wagging, and in Arthur's case, usually a long story about how he's been waiting for someone to go riding so he can run alongside. Arthur likes to run along with the horses, while Aimo likes to run about three miles for every mile the horses walk. I don't think there could be a more perfect exercise routine for a Jack Russel.

This is Lizzie. She's a registered National Show Horse (a deliberate cross of Arabian and Saddlebred). She is not however, a show horse by profession, although she does get out to local fun shows. Lizzie is what we call a "trail veteran" which means that when we're riding through the woods and a chipmunk bursts from out of nowhere and races practically under her hoof, she just keeps walking without needing to jump three feet into the air.

That's not to suggest that Lizzie doesn't still have horse moments. For while dogs evolved from predators, horses evolved from prey. When it is particularly windy Lizzie starts to suspect that Horrible Beasts and Horse Eating Monsters could potentially be waiting ... everywhere.

This suspicion was not alleviated when the latest trainee recently arrived at Coppler Farms.

Poor Buddy - he looks different, he sounds different, and Lizzie cannot walk by him without stopping and staring. Really, rudely, ears forward, with a "What!" look that is just not friendly.

This week Lizzie did finally allow a nose sniff  from Buddy and did not squeal (something mares tend to do when they are making a fuss) but she's still got a way to go on being more accepting of his glorious differences.

The pony is Sampson, who can tell if anyone could be convinced to slip him a little snack it might be me. He likes to reach through and nuzzle me as I groom and saddle Lizzie.
Sampson however, must be kept on a "dry lot" without access to green grass which has a high sugar content; he's on a perpetual pony-diet. Unfortunately for the little dude he gains weight just by looking at food, a condition I can easily relate to. I think it is plain to see here that he is saying, "Please miss, just a crumb!"

Photo: Roberta Coppler
 Lizzie at a fun show with a Jr. rider 

Over eating in horses can lead to both intestinal problems like colic and hoof/leg issues like laminitis and eventually founder, where the horse's hoof rotates, resulting in not just permanent damage but causing pain with every step. To avoid this easy-keepers like Sampson are fed grass-hay, as dried grasses have a lower sugar content than green grasses, plus daily intake can be monitored and limited.  Like most Labradors, ponies would prefer the option of eating to death.

The weekly riding therapy is proving useful not just for keeping my joints mobile but for supplementing my mental health. I'm also greatly enjoying the opportunity to spend some time on a farm again. Especially when, at the end of the ride, I get to go home and leave all the clean up chores to someone else!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catching up and Fun Dog Pictures with links


I think there's something to be said for learning to not take one's self too seriously and in turn, to not taking life's ups and downs out of proportion. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Fortunately, I have dogs and cats in my life to remind me that I focus on things that aren't nearly as important as say, handing out dog biscuits or making sure the cat gets a little milk in her bowl.  Sometimes we have to just take a deep breath and allow the universe to unfold around us.


This past year has been a bit chaotic and as a result this blog has been somewhat neglected for chunks of time. Good intentions aside, I haven't made time to keep up with  my blogging friends and I miss their posts and their blogs.
While most people who stop by here are infrequent visitors looking for specific information about a certain type of dog, there are a handful of visitors who have blogs I like to follow and/or who like to follow updates here when they are posted. For those folks I feel a little explanation of my semi-disappearance is in order.

I haven't spent all my time laying around taking selfies. Really!

About a year ago I found out I was living with multiple complications caused by lupus, which is an immune disorder that opened the door for fibromyalgia, sensitivity to the sun, fatigue and other fun stuff.  More recently I had a week of tremendous spine pain which culminated with waking up one morning not able to use my right leg. 

Brain imaging has shown there is now a lesion on my right frontal cortex. It will take more tests from a neurologist however my doctor and I suspect that the lupus may have eaten away some of the myelin sheath around my nerves. If this proves to be true than I am now living with multiple sclerosis.


MS can sound intimidating but the way I'm looking at this is, regardless of what it is, or what it is called, I am already living with what I am living with. I would like to know what it is so that I can take appropriate steps to keep it as manageable as possible.


For example, my joints and muscles have become very problematic. I've found that both physically and emotionally I benefit from taking a relaxed horse ride once a week. That's a new therapy that is proving very beneficial. I figure I'm among a small group of people who at my age actually feels stiffer getting on the horse than when I get off.  I'm also making a new friend in the woman I rent a horse from and getting out into some beautiful fall weather to ride.

And I continue to find a lot to laugh at both in myself and the nut-bar animals I live with. They've also been very comforting. Lil has decided she will be my protector and back-up cuddler, whenever Gracie gives her room to squeeze in and squish me. On those days when I'm stiff enough I need to lay down with heat, I don't need to bother with electronic gadgets - I have a Terrier on one side, a Lab on the other and a Chihuahua who snuggles up against whichever joint is sorest.  The Collie stops by to stare at my face and make sure I'm still breathing.

I'm grateful that I'm still able to work and that my employer is currently able to accommodate me. Also, I can still write and have a publisher who will be printing my latest book: Disability Services and Disability Studies in Higher Education: History, Contexts, and Social Impacts.  


Honestly, some days I feel a little muddled, so it's good to know I can still think and write and produce stuff other people want to read. That's an affirming fact that also fuels my optimism that I will continue to be able to live with whatever I am living with. It's all a matter of remembering to stop and smell the butterflies in life, right :-)

I am intending to be a bit better about keeping up with blogs I follow and with posting here at least several times a month. I also need to find my camera's battery charger so that I can post some update photos of my crew. Jenny's looking older but still plugging along. Chi Chi on the other hand seems to be getting younger and healthier. My sister suspects he's found a way to siphon off my life energy which is why he keeps getting stronger ... of all the Chihuahuas in the universe I had to adopt an evil genius!