June 20, 2016

I Have a Very Old Dog and I Don't Know How Long We Have Left.

I have a very old dog.  His paws are solid white now, along with his neck and jaw.  The rest of him remains black.

He's frail.  He has arthritis.  It's a slow walk now, not a fast run.

We play catch the ball in the yard now, not fetch.  Well, sometimes we do a little bit of fetch, so he will walk a bit.  But it's far from the young days, where he was speedy and quick.  I wonder if he remembers being that way, if he dreams about it still.

If you have an old dog, you'll understand.  This is such a bittersweet time.

Because I know what's coming.  I've been through this before.

It's my job now to be strong and sturdy and solid for him, because this keeps him feeling safe.  All day long, he wants to be near me.  On his bed at night, he will periodically look around, just to make sure I'm there.

For so many years, I know that he has thought of his job as being my protector.  And now, it's my turn to protect him and keep him feeling safe.

There's not room in his world for me to be sad or scared or fretful.  So I can't be any of those things.

I must be strong and confident.  I must be fun and happy.

We had a bad episode recently.  There were a series of thunderstorms that came through here.  Bad ones, lots of thunder and lightning.  When he was young, this didn't bother him.

About a year ago, he started to be scared of storms.  Terrified of the sound of thunder.

So, he was facing night after night of the terrors, and then the roof leaked and a strange man had to come by to fix it.  The back door became so swollen that it wouldn't shut fully and lock; another strange repairman had to come into his world.  Stranger Scents in the house, on the back porch, in his yard.

Two strange dogs got loose in all these storms and kept running up and down the alley, causing my old boy no end of distress.

And then I went off to the grocery store.  I wasn't gone that long, maybe an hour, but I could hear him howling as the garage door rose.  Now, my boy never makes a sound.  The only time I've heard him howl was the night after we had to put his baby sister to sleep last year.

So I knew he thought I was gone, like his sister.

And for the past two weeks, he's been recuperating from that stress.  At first, it was hard for him to get to his feet.  He barely ate that first night.  He slept a lot.

Today, things are better.  He's bounced back but not all the way.

And here's the thing I want to share with you, Dear. Reader.  Not the sadness or the grieving or the tears that I am fighting against.

It's the beauty of all this.  The lessons that he's teaching me in all this.

Things like:

This is how you live life to be happy.  You take the day.  You take the morning.  You take the afternoon.

And you look for the beauty in it.  The face of a smiling dog.  The sun on the leaves of a tree. The heat of the sun on your face, or the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

You must relish life.  A bite at a time.

I thank God for the blessing of being entrusted with the spirit that lives in this dog's body.  I am honored.

January 11, 2016

Ricky's for Dog Arthritis: Ricky Litchfield Dog Anti-Inflammatories Are Almost a Miracle

This past Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was a cold, wet, and rainy day here in San Antonio.  

My old boy was hurting -- and hurting badly.

I had resorted to giving him baby aspirin, which I hate to do because it's so bad on his digestion.  It didn't help much.  The natural pain pills (Aches & Pains) did less.

My Arthritic Dog Was In Lots of Pain 

He had trouble getting up.  Standing, his tail curled under his butt and you could tell he was in pain.  He huddled near me wherever I went.  No smiley faces.

He would venture out only as far as necessary to do his business in the yard, and then scoot back inside.  To lay near me, wherever I was.

He ate little.  He turned down treats.  He stood or he laid down.  No sitting.  Toys? Forget it.

I was so upset, I thought I might be losing him.  He was one month away from his 13th birthday.

So, I went online to see what I could find.  And I prayed a bit (a lot!) while I was at it.

And I found Ricky Litchfield pills online, at Amazon.com.  The customer reviews were so encouraging!  The ingredients seemed to make sense.  (They are Buchu Oil and Salmon Oil - go check them out.)

And they had a vet who was there to answer your questions via e-mail.  A vet.  A real, live vet.  Wo Nellie.

So I ordered Ricky's on a rush delivery and that next day, Saturday, my beloved boy got his first dose of Ricky's.

It's January 11th now, so it's been around six weeks.  I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW BIG A DIFFERENCE THESE PILLS HAVE MADE FOR MY DOG.

Results From Six Weeks on Ricky's Arthritis Pills Have Been Amazing

These have truly been a life saver.  Today, my pup and I played fetch outside in the yard.  We're back to doing this all the time!

  • He has a better appetite that he's had in years.  
  • His fur is thick and smooth and glossy.  
  • He smiles all the time.
  • He's waking me up, not to go outside to pee or poop, but because he's ready to play and start the day.  
  • He's gone and found a green ball that he hid Lord Knows When (or Where) and now we're playing with it, as well as his stuffed squeaky toy.  
  • He rolls in the grass.  
  • He chases squirrels.  
  • He jumps into the back seat of the car again -- and we're bouncing along the path at the park now.  (We're walking at the park again!) 

Part of a Plan -- But a True Answered Prayer

Now, this isn't the only thing that my boy gets.  He gets really good food that I cook for him.  No grains.  He gets a probiotic daily.  He gets vitamins and he gets Osteo pills with gluco, perna, etc.  

But I am thanking God every day for these Ricky's pills.  They are a God Send.  

I share this with you Dear Reader, in case you are investigating how to help your arthritic pup, too.  I lost a beloved pup at 10 years to Rimadyl-produced liver cancer -- I won't go near Rimadyl.

January 19, 2015

My Morning Routine: Cinnamon in the Coffee, Dogs in the Yard, and Reading the Bible

I have a routine every morning that serves me well, and I thought I would share it with you, Dear Reader. At this point, it's automatic and I think it helps me to have happy, productive days.  Really! 

The alarm goes off. 

I get up and get dressed and let the dogs out into the back yard so they can investigate what monsters may have invaded their territory during the night.  (Currently, there has been a possum roaming around the alley and hanging out in the trees.)

I make fresh coffee in a percolator. 

I use the same mug each morning.  It's huge and has the cartoon image of Wonder Woman on the side.  It was a gift.  I like it because it can hold a lot of coffee and the coffee will stay hot in it.  Plus, truth be told, it's nice that someone thought a Wonder Woman mug suited me somehow.  Makes me laugh.

Anywho, back to the coffee routine.  I toss in a smidgen of Mexican Cinnamon (not all cinnamon is the same, FYI) and some stevia with my Half-n-Half.  A bit of butter (yes; Kerrygold).  I down a tablespoon of Coconut Oil at that juncture (I can't go full bulletproof coffee because I hate that coconut taste in my coffee).

I have a reading spot.

Then, depending upon the weather, I sit outside on the covered patio or inside at the dining room table, and I read a chapter in Proverbs.  I have a little study journal to makes notes in if something comes to mind.  I also read a bit from the Old Testament and some from the New Testament.

I don't follow those Read-the-Bible-in-So-Many-Days schedules.  I always read one chapter in Proverbs, the one that corresponds to the day's date.  Sometimes I read more in the Old Testament books and sometimes less.  It's usually about the same for the New Testament.

I read from the Bible.  Sometimes, I take notes.  

Today, for example, I'm in Amos and I read a chapter before I stopped.  I read a chapter and a half in Mark, ending with Jesus and the kids surrounding him.  It's a nice image to start the day -- Jesus had to be laughing and smiling and playing around with those little children, they were all clamoring to be around him. We don't see enough images of this guy, IMHO: the guy who played with kids, who children liked and thought was fun.

This morning, though, the notes I took were from Proverbs 19 -- about it being smart to have "a wise heart and a clear head."

My Morning Routine Helps Me All Day Long. 

Reading the Bible every morning helps me.  Really and truly, Dear Reader.  Often, something pops up from that Proverbs chapter during the day that is so on point to what's happening.  It's eerie.  It's cool.

Plus, having a morning routine that is automatic habit at this point is a good thing, too.  Before I know it, I'm well into my work day and it's in large part because when that alarm hits I don't lay there and think about what I'm going to do that day - with fear and dread or with excitement and anticipation.  I jump up and get going.

Habits, routines?  They are good things for me in my life.  Reading the Bible every morning?  It's a major help for me every single day.  Just thought I'd share, in case it might help you too.

November 10, 2014

Rodent Repellant and The Rat Palace: Getting Ready for the Cold Front

Last night it was pleasant here in San Antonio, and around nine o'clock I went outside to ponder the day while setting on the back porch.  It was peaceful and quiet; the pups were happily sniffing the ground and hoping that the neighbor's cat might pop in for a visit.

In my head, I was planning for Thanksgiving, silly happy thoughts with a silly happy smile on my face, I'm sure, when all of a sudden: YIKES.

I saw a RAT, not a mouse, not a squirrel, not a possum or bird or space alien, crawl down a tree limb in the neighbor's yard and disappear into their metal gardening shed (which sets back on the fence line of their property, next to the alley, catty-cornered to me).

Now, I was pretty darn far away from that Big Fat Rat.  The dogs either didn't notice it or didn't care.  So, I didn't jump up onto my chair or scream or faint or anything.

I did get extremely creeped out, however.  During the night, my thoughts kept returnING to that Big Fat Rat.  My imagination had that one rat entering an advanced Rat Kingdom inside that shed.

Remember the scene in Men in Black where they open the bus locker and there's the alien world? Repopulate that image with rats and you've got my Neighbor's Rat Shed.

Even today, as I sit in the same spot on the patio in the afternoon sunlight, I sneak little glances over toward the sinister shed.  I listen for Rat World noises.  Wait, they're noctural.  Rat World snores.

Where the heck the neighbor's cat is during all this, I have no idea.  He sure likes to climb my trees and go after birds with great regularity.

So, Dear Reader, here's the thing.  I just threw 8 of these Fresh Cab Rodent Repellents all around my garage and my backyard shed this afternoon, before the infamous Alaskan Cold Front descends upon us.

I tried this stuff last year, and boy howdy does it work.  I like that it's not some toxic chemical mess; it's a strong smell that keeps them away from your place.  It's REALLY PUNGENT.  You wouldn't want to use this inside the house, but it's great for the garage.

I have a friend up north who just "put away" his Porsche for the winter, filling it with Bounce dryer sheets. (We should all have the dilemma of having to store our Porsche for the winter, right?  Such a stressor.  LOL.  I digress.)  Maybe I'll tell him about these Fresh Cab bags.  Along with my neighbor who has a Rat Palace.

Egads!  Now I just imagined throwing a couple of these bags into that Rat Shed and all those rodents running out, hoardes of rats and mice ....  I'm all creeped out again.

November 2, 2014

ROKU Streaming TV: How Great Can It Can Be? Pretty Darn Fabulous

This month marks the third year that I’ve lived happily and well without a cable TV connection. I’ve opted for a ROKU streaming device.

Cost me around $50 for a cute little box that connects to my television and a spiffy little remote control. Works off my WiFi.

My internet bill is fifty bucks each month. That’s right: $50.00. It was three times that amount when I stopped using cable television (actually, a bit higher); Lord only knows what I’d be paying now.

And for what? Lots of junk like reality TV shows that I would never watch, along with all those strange channels that I skipped. Not to mention the commercials.

(Now, I do pay a bit each month for subscription services, but my total is under $15.00.  Add that to the cable bill (which also includes my WiFi access for my computers, etc.) and the whopping total is around $75.00/month.)

Commercials: Less is More with Streaming TV

Ye Gads, how I DON’T miss all those commercials. In fact, it becomes very, very clear how many commercials some of these channels stick into their programming when you aren’t used to watching cable television.

You’re at a friend’s house, watching their cable channel, and you realize that there’s an average of 10 minutes of commercials for every commercial break. Viewers don’t realize how many advertisements get shoved into their programming until they get the option of watching a television show that has limited interruption.

Try counting your commercials within the program breaks. For some channels, it’s almost like the chosen entertainment is a break between advertising spots.

Some channels on ROKU have NO commercials. Netflix, Amazon Video: there are no commercials here. Others do contain advertising, but it’s not the same as cable TV. For example, Hulu (I have Hulu Plus) or Cracker both have commercials inserted into their programs, but it’s just one or two quick ones; a couple of minutes and you’re back to your show.

Frankly, I think this is the better way to sell stuff. I remember the Capital One Venture card commercials as well as the GEICO insurance ad much clearer from watching this week’s TV shows on Hulu Plus than I ever remember noticing any advertising on a cable network offering.

Maybe it’s because the same commercial tends to reappear during the course of the Hulu or Cracker show. Watch old Seinfeld offerings on Cracker, and you’re going to see the same product being touted time and again as you go through the episodes. (Gotta love Soup Nazi, right?) Maybe having less commercials is a better way to advertise….

 What I Get To Watch on ROKU Streaming TV

People with cable television assume that I’m losing so much stuff by opting out of paying for cable. It’s been a long while now, and I’m confident that I’m not feeling the loss.

If there is a show that isn’t on Roku that I really, really want to see, I can usually see it for free on my computer. Like the Big Bang Theory, for instance. CBS isn’t on ROKU (yet).

I don’t watch shows on the computer very often, however. I’ve just got so much to choose from with ROKU. Plus,  Hulu Plus offers lots of current TV shows the day after they air.

If you’re a Revenge fan (ABC), no problemo. If you love Law & Order SUV (NBC), ditto. Amazon has FX's Justified (I love Justified) and lots of other cable shows for $1.99/episode so you can pick and choose other cable series as they are being shown for the current season.

I just watch them the next day.  I don't care that I'm not first in line here.  I watched Longmire on A&E the day after it aired for free every season, until A&E was shockingly stupid and axed the series.

Another benefit to ROKU streaming TV is the shows that I’ve discovered: shows that I would never have watched without it. Scott & Bailey; Call the Midwife; Poirot; Miranda; IQ — lots of great British shows that I’ve binge-watched because streaming TV introduced me to them. Great stuff.

Then there are all the free, great movies and the classic TV shows for you to watch as well. From lots of different channels, both free and subscription (Crackle is free, for example).

When I Get To Watch TV Shows and Movies 

 Best of all, I chose when I watch this stuff. If I want to watch Criminal Minds every night at 8, I can. If I want to watch all the episodes of Magnum PI over the course of a weekend, I can. If I’m cooking and in the middle of an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, I just stop the show and return to it later.

Sure, I may miss some stuff. Live local news? Gotta go to the computer to see the local stuff (I usually just read the news the next day on the web). Live sports? Never watch it. The latest reality TV? If I never have the chance to see another episode of the Kardashians, or any of those Housewife shows, I haven’t lost a thing.

Why I Watch Streaming TV Instead of Cable 

 I watch television to be entertained; sometimes to be educated (I love to learn from chefs who cook on TV). Using the ROKU device has returned control back to me; I decide when I want to be entertained and for how long and by what program.

The way that streaming television works, it stops after the show is over (though Hulu can segue directly into the next episode of a series, etc.). You have to decide after 22 minutes or 44 minutes or 1 hour and 15 minutes if you are going to keep staring at a screen or if you’re going to do something else with your time.

You become more aware of the time that you’re spending on televised entertainment. It may mean you watch less TV and do something else. Which is good, too.

Streaming TV via Roku? I highly recommend it.