Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tiger by Sarah

In my book "Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone" I was fortunate enough to have others share stories of special memories of their pets and photos of the art made to honor them with love. I am now collecting new stories for a revised addition and for my blog. I do this so that others may help heal their hearts by reading and resonating with these special words.I hope these special lives will  live on forever through these stories. I believe when we lose a special love,  it is comforting  knowing others have loved as much and felt the same

I was for fortunate enough to have Sarah share her beautiful eloquently written 
 story of Tiger. She also allowed me to honor Tiger by making a sun catcher with his special memories in mind, with her hair lovingly fused inside. One of the memories she  wanted  to empahsize was the color of Tiger's harness in the blaze on his head alittle larger. Thank you Sarah for sharing your story and trusting me to honor Tiger's  life with love. Below is his  story.

The connection we as humans have with animals, is one of the most primal and spiritual that we
will ever hope to know. As we grow, this unique connection changes based on our experiences
and will either flourish or falter. I always embraced my connection, (arachnids and most insects
excluded) with a sense of tranquility and wonder. Horses, with their ultimate grace and
dominating power, quickly became my favorite of creatures. Once I started riding, I immediately
felt a sense of deep trust and attachment.
As I continued to evolve my fascination, the unique personality of each equine began to teach
me new things. It was apparent that my personality mirrored certain horses more than others.
So, when I started helping rehabilitate and retrain off-track Thoroughbreds (OTTB), I knew I
would fall in love with some and eagerly rehome the rest. In the two years I’ve been part of the
program, I’ve had two horses with which I really connected.

The first was three year old filly. She was a champion on trails, going over any hurdle I pointed
her towards. Her sweet personality drew me in and for a full summer, she was my special bond.
When she was adopted to a loving family with a young girl to love her unconditionally, I wasn’t
certain I’d find another horse that stole my heart like she had.
Months passed as fall turned to winter and winter to early spring. New horses were coming into
the program and life started sprouting at the farm. One horse, an eleven year old, bay, war horse
with a beautiful star sparked my interest. Call Tiger had a gentle eye and a regal presence about
him that commanded admiration. As a descendent of Secretariat and Storm Cat, he started 114
races, earning over $267,000 and retired without injury.

As we began to evaluate his future career, he proved to be as amicable under saddle as he was
standing in a field. I rode him lazily around the ring for his first time off the track and I was
hooked. Never once did he test the limits of his rider or attempt to pull a dirty stunt. I’d had a
recent fall and my confidence was shaken, but with Tiger, I wasn’t afraid. Immediately, I felt him
wholeheartedly trust me and I reciprocated the feeling.
Still unsettled from losing the three year old filly, I was hesitant to allow another horse so deeply
into my heart. Others at the farm joked that Tiger was my replacement. Clearly, they saw
something spark between the two of us that I tried to deny. I didn’t want to get hurt again. After
all, our goal is to adopt out these wonderful companions, not hoard them to ourselves. I held
strong to my perceived guard, unconsciously unaware that I’d already lost the battle.
As the weather grew nicer, I started taking Tiger on any adventure I could find. His first trail
ride was on the farm with a group of six riders. His only hesitation, was briefly at the edge of the
stream where the muddy footing was deep and unsettling. With a little encouragement from a
more seasoned horse, he walked right into the stream, and even pawed playfully at the water!
While my heart jumped at his vivacious antics, more pieces of my wall floated away with the
trickling hum of the water.

With his impressive disposition, we opted to take Tiger on a paper chase on April 2. He tolerated
being moderately dressed to support Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness. He loaded the
trailer with bored interest and didn’t flinch at the saddle bags I introduced to him. Having
rained earlier in the morning, the woods were sloppy and I was unsure how he would handle the
less-than-desirable footing. After briefly trying to walk along the edge of the pathway, he finally
resigned to easily move through the mud. Pride rose through me as this stoic war horse trudged
over rocks, through three rivers, and jumped any obstacle facing us. We encouraged each other
as our confidence combined into one force of trust and respect. By the end of the seven mile
trek, I was hopelessly in love. One of my favorite moments during the chase was when the owner
of the farm looked at us and said, “We aren’t going to rehome this horse, are we?”
A second paper chase a few weeks later only increased my infatuation for my regal gelding. He
once again faced multiple terrains and obstructions with grace, power, and elegance. The steep
hillsides, larger downed trees, and rocky paths were no challenge. Since the horses handled the
chase with such valor, we decided to let them gallop the home stretch. Competing for first, Tiger
flew up the hill with ease. I tentatively allowed him to set his own pace, unsure if the racehorse
would be released. As the top of the hill rounded into view, I swept away my hesitation and gave
him full permission to race the wind. Tears crept down my cheeks as the wind whipped past us
and I felt the sensation of flying. There are few moments in life when time seems to stop and you
are truly living in that moment; this was one of them. My insecurities faded as ecstasy took hold,
and my connection with Tiger was solidified.

On April 21, Tiger came in from the field scrapped and not himself; presenting strange signs of
colic. I felt a tinge of panic, knowing my sweet war horse was injured. The farm owner reassured
me that he would be taken care of, but something nagged at me when I hung up the phone. I
wanted to be by his side. Although I hadn’t officially adopted him, he was my horse and he
needed me. Before I could even think of telling my boss I was leaving work early, one phone call
shattered my world. Through breathless sobs, I understood only three words: Tiger was gone.
Only an hour and a half after finding him that morning, he collapsed in his stall.
I hadn’t realized how much I truly loved Tiger until I felt my heart shatter. Silent sobs thrust
their way through my body. Denial flooded my mind as I recalled everything I'd done the day
prior. Surely there was a mistake; he was happily grazing when I’d left. But alas, even as I drove
to the farm to say my final goodbye, the truth remained as such - my sweet, majestic steed was

Call Tiger left an impression with everyone he met. His unexpected death rippled through the
racing community as the devastation hit his previous owners and trainers. Social media flooded
us with condolences and words of intended healing. He had a nobility to his presence and such a
kind eye. He was respectful and honest in everything he did. He truly loved trotting through
woods, galloping across green fields, and playing in cool streams. He mirrored me in so many
ways, and the only time he hesitated doing anything was when I was unsure. Tiger trusted
unconditionally and in return, earned the respect of all. He never once acted unruly. He was a
gentleman. I loved every moment I spent with him, and although I only knew him a short while,
the devastation and ache I feel for him is hollowing. He was full of love and life and there will
never be another like him.

Dearest Tiger, I know you are galloping in greener pastures and though I hurt deeply that you
are no longer here, I know we will meet again. You gave me so much and I just pray that you
know how loved you were by all of us. You will never be forgotten, my magnificent man.
Thank you for everything. I love you, now and always.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rescued is my favorite Breed , choosing the right pet for you

"Rescued is my favorite breed"-author unknown

     Are you looking for a faithful companion to include as a new family member in your life?  Including a new dog in your life can be the most amazing and rewarding decision of your life. The joy a new pet brings can be priceless.
     That being said, I ask that before you make that decision you take time to ponder what is best for you. Please think about what pet will be the best for you lifestyle.  If you do not have the time to walk a dog at all, or are gone for more than 10 hours a day, maybe a dog is not right for you at this time. Perhaps a cat, bird or other pet would be more appropriate.
If a dog is what you decide on, I suggest you research your breed before you take on a five to twenty year commitment of another life. Just because the cute little black lab puppy is the most adorable bundle of love you have ever seen, doesn't mean it is right for you.
More times than we can ever imagine people do just that. When the little black puppy grows to be 60 lbs, needs an abundance of exercise, and starts chewing everything in the home, because that is one of his traits, the owner may get frustrated.
When the owner becomes SO frustrated, the animal may end up behind bars at a shelter facing death just for being himself. Even if it is a mixed breed you can get a good idea of what the dog is mixed with and research the combination.
A common misconception is you cannot get the breed you are looking for by rescuing. Just an example, I was happily surprised when I went to a Great Pyrenees Facebook rescue page how many there are available. Researching your breed will give you the information you need to make an educated decision on whether or not your lifestyle will be a good fit for what the dog was bred to do.
If you have little time to exercise a dog, you should look more at a low energy breed. If you are runner,or love the outdoors a more energetic breed would be better for you. When dogs are bred certain traits such as herding, endurance, or hunting, they are deeply ingrained into their being. They need ways to do what is instinctual to them.
Odin has Great Pyrenees in his mix and shows many of the traits. Great Pyrenees are meant to protect the farm and be kind to the animals on it. Odin most certainly has those traits. He is so kind to kitty Raven. When I used to help rehab wildlife he was very gentle and loving around baby squirrels. Also when let outside he must check the perimeter.
Another prime example is I have a friend with a Kelpie, Lilo. Kelpies were bred to muster livestock. This friend does not have livestock, but realizes that her dog was bred for a high energy job. She takes that into consideration and Lilo runs about four miles a day on the treadmill. Lilo's mom also takes her to water rescue, biking, sledding trick training and nose-work. She knows that if she does not fulfill the natural instinct in other ways she would develop some of the OCD traits that other busy breeds get such as spinning, chewing, shredding or even self destruction.
Lilo and friend carting 

There are many more examples of characteristics that happen when dogs are bred to do certain jobs.The internet and libraries make it very easy to do your homework and find out what breed is best for your lifestyle. If you have very low energy and work alot, look for a breed that will fit that lifestyle. Finding the breed that is best for your will assure a wonderful rewarding companion that enriches your life more than words can portray.

Miracles with Fur, Pets and Autism

“A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull.
Give him your heart and he will give you his.” -John Grogan

I believe this quote applies to most animals in general, they don't judge.
Their nature seems to allow them to provide instinctual nurturing and unconditional love.
In the past, I have written of personal accounts that can confirm this. I have a vivid memory of  lying on the bathroom floor with food poison. My kitty, Raven never left my side and patted my face with her tiny paw. My dog Odin does not care if I look like death warmed over, he is always there with a big ol' kiss when my tears need wiping away. They are natural healers and provide compassion without uttering a word. When Odin had oral surgery Raven stayed by his side for 48 hours only leaving to eat and use the litter box.
Raven staying by Odin's side after surgery

I have read so many stories of miracles animals have performed in people's lives that just warm my heart.  I would like to look a little deeper and share some information about how our animal friends have helped children with autism.

Statistics show autism is alarmingly on the rise. "New numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that one in 68 children now has a diagnosis of ASD—a 30 percent increase in just two years. In 2002, about one in 150 children was considered autistic and in 1991 the figure was one in 500."
Personally, I would like to know, "Why is this happening?"
In my research some theories include:
The amount of vaccines given now compared to 1991 has increased dramatically since that date. Another theory is the increased amount of toxins in our environment and  ingredients in our food. Regardless of the cause, the fact is, it exists.
Wikipedia defines autism as, "Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior." The movie titled "Temple Grandin" is such an eye opener about autism, but also inspirational about making a difference in this world. She has educated the world on this disorder. She states, “I am different, not less." Temple Grandin went on to get her doctoral degree, is a well renowned speaker, professor, and proponent for the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter.  Autistic people simply have to find ways that make them comfortable to communicate and to be in social situations. That can be very difficult for them.

This is where animals can make a life changing difference for those with autism, especially children. Studies show  children are more likely to relate and communicate without fear in the presence of animal versus a human.

 In the book "Angel Animals Book of Inspiration"  there  is a story about a boy who achieved ways to communicate, and attain enough social skills to fulfill his dream of baseball, all thanks to a ferret named, "Rocky". He found the courage to interact with the other children if Rocky was with him. Eventually he could play ball as long as Rocky was in the stands for reassurance.

I have volunteered and organized fundraisers for "Heal with a Horse", equine therapy. It is amazing how much self esteem and smiles the children get from the horses. The horses can sense the children need them to be patient and parents can testify how much it helps them. Many autistic children do not want to brush their teeth or hair, etc.  Emphasis on caring for the horse can be transferred and help the child to take more interest in their own personal hygiene.
Photo courtesy of Heal with a Horse

I have read not just one but numerous accounts of autistic children uttering there first word to their pet.  A pet does not judge, and has all the patience in the world for the child. Unlike human, animals, are just there waiting with a wagging tail and love for whenever the child is ready.

Autistic children can wander away and do quite frequently. This has got to be so stressful for the parents. There are now many service dogs available to help aid with this along with many other special needs these children may have. Can you imagine how much stress can be reduced for a parent, knowing there is a four legged angel that will alert them if the child is in distress or wanders?

Photo courtesy of  Autism Service Dogs of America

If your child is autistic, I hope this may give you other options that may be helpful to your in particular situation.
If you are looking for a worthy cause to support, Odin Raven and I suggest these charities to help partner angel animals with these children who need them so much.