Half Marathons (And Happily Ever Afters)

Marathon Photo 215899_178379135_edit test1Jim is off on a little training run this morning. Last weekend he ran his first half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. Running. On foot. All at once. With NOTHING chasing him. Not even one zombie.

Wow.

I was also at the race. Oh don’t even ask…of course I was just a spectator. I had the all-important job of holding Jim’s bag o’ stuff. You know, the stuff he might need at the midway point to fuel him on to certain victory. (Victory in this case is defined as crossing the finish line, because, well, 13.1 miles.)

The meeting spot we chose along the race route was on a corner directly in front of the home of some good friends, thus ensuring additional moral support for my favorite runner.

(NOTE TO JIM:  You might want to skip the next dozen paragraphs, give or take. You know…blah, blah, blah. It’s all about you sweetie!)

The bonus of standing on this corner, in front of this house, with these friends, is that they also happen to have two outstanding dogs that also came along to enjoy the show. Oh come on. You HAD to know I would bring this story back around to the topic of animals somehow, right?

The bonus-bonus of these particular outstanding dogs is that one of them is my former foster dog, Hansel, now known as Loki. I ab-so-lutely LOVE seeing my former foster dogs in the setting of their ‘happily ever after.’ LOVE it.

When Loki, accompanied by Rex, his never-met-a-stranger-I-didn’t-adore golden retriever housemate, came down to the sidewalk to find his normally peaceful neighborhood filled with humans running for no apparent reason, he was a bit confused. He’s a young dog and this was his first introduction to the idea that humans like to self-inflict pain and suffering in the name of fun and fitness. His eyes were wide as he sat behind his personal human, Maddox, to take it all in. He did not notice me standing there grinning from ear to ear.

Loki and RexWithout saying a word I held my hand near to Loki’s snout and waited. He sniffed, he jerked his head away to see the next wave of humans fleeing some obviously terrible monster, then, with recognition dawning in his sweet brain, he snapped his head back to glue his nose to my hand. Let the celebration begin!

There are few things more rewarding than running into a former foster dog and seeing that moment when they realize who I am. Whether I simply walked them out of a shelter, or—like Loki—rescued them from the street, the reunion is pretty joy-filled, for both parties.

Loki was no exception. His tail started flying and he immediately pressed himself against my legs. Ahhh…love this boy.

This little reunion made me think that I’m very good at telling my initial rescue stories, but I’m not so good at providing a follow-up. I’ve had a few people ask about the dogs we have rescued and fostered, so here’s a little “where are they now” recap for you on a few of the dogs I posted about over the past year.

Loki was part of a trio that Jim and I rescued from the road near our home. That group included Cinder, Hansel (Loki), and Gretel. These young German shepherd mixes were thin, exhausted, and covered with more ticks than I think I have ever seen on a dog. The ticks had ticks. It was horrifying.  (The story of their rescue is here and here.)

Today, Loki has a wonderful family, a lovely home, a teenager to call his own. He has a pool he can swim in (though he prefers not to). He has Rex to play with. He sleeps in a human’s bed. He has grown into a very handsome big boy (we all saw those feet in the original photos).

Gretel new homeGretel—still known as Gretel—also won the rescue dog lottery. She too has a lovely home, just blocks from where her brother Loki lives. She has humans who let her share their bed. She has a huge yard with a canopy provided by giant shade trees that creates the perfect doggy paradise. She has a dog sister named Gwen. She doesn’t have a care in the world. I just saw her last week. Another grand reunion.

Nadia nappingLittle Nadia (original story here), also found along the ‘I-found-the-dog-a-home-in-the-country’ dumping ground that is the road that leads to my farm, could have been a foster fail…but someone else needed her more. She now lives in a wonderful home near my dog care business in Tulsa. I am lucky to see her just about every day. She is such a sweet, soft girl. Her new owner is taking her to training classes to build her confidence and earn her canine good citizen title. Most importantly, she loves Nadia dearly. Yes, this former foster too gets to sleep on the bed in her new home. Do we see a pattern here?

the girls 2Oh, and remember Ginger and Maryann? Ahhhh…sweet girls.  I actually witnessed someone dumping them and then speeding away. I opted to rescue the dogs instead of chasing down the van (want to read about it? Here.). Seemed like a wise choice at the time…still seems like a wise choice. Well, they are dumped dogs no more! These sweet girls were adopted by friends/clients of my dog care business. Ginger is still Ginger, Maryann is now Mei. They live in different homes,but see each other—and me—regularly at Pooches. Each has a doggy sibling in their new home and both enjoy very pampered lives.

10307421_10204007447570173_2652448704952831572_nWe also took in Gus, the senior Dalmatian, earlier this year (We are part of the formal Dalmatian rescue nonprofit for this area). He was dumped at a fire station in a nearby town (need a refresher? Story here). Jim and I take in a lot of seniors and, like many, Gus has a few health ‘opportunities.’ He has a significant heart murmur that requires a few different medications to control. He is also…well…he is a little special. Remember the movie Rainman? Um, yeah. Gus is our own little Rainman in a dog suit. We love him and all of his quirks. He will live his days out here on Tails You Win Farm.

And of course there’s Kainan, the wolfdog, formerly known as Big Bad, now recently nicknamed Bam-Bam (initial story here…many stories follow that one. This guy is an adventure.) This was the one we were just going to help a friend with. Ok, we’ll take responsibility for him, but we’ll board him at the vet. Ok, he can come home for the weekend (I actually knew where this was headed when Jim suggested “just for the weekend”), but we’re handing him over to Freedom’s Song Wolf Rescue on Sunday. Ok, we’re just meeting with the rescue folks, but we’re going to continue to foster him at our house until he gets healthy and can be placed. Foster? Did we say foster? 

20140901_103907Yeah, he’s found a great home…and we couldn’t be happier. He’s free to sleep on the bed too, but thank goodness he gets too hot to spend the whole night there. Not much room remains, even on the king-size bed, when Big Foot decides to climb in.

We still have a few other fosters (that really are fosters!) waiting for me to have the chance to detail their happily-ever-after. It will happen…the right families are out there. My hope is that by the end of 2014 I will be able to add Cinder the shepherd mix, Bruce the pit/American bull dog mix, Charlie the Dalmatian mix, and Piper the pit bull mix to the ‘where are they now’ column.

Oh…and Jim. The race. Yes. Back to Jim running his first half marathon. That’s where we started, right? Gotta give the human his praise!

(NOTE TO JIM: Pick up reading here. Ok? It’s all about you, sweetie!)

post race edit1He finished the whole 13.1 miles in great form with a really good time. After an evening to recover and a small funeral service for one doomed toenail (gee, another great reason to run…you can lose toenails!), he was up and ready to roll again. He has even committed to run the full marathon next yet.

That’s 26.2 miles. In one lump. Again, with nothing chasing you but your own pride and determination.

Huh.

Hey…wonder how many dog friends I can find along that race route? Goooooo Jim!

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Cooking the Thanksgiving Meal—Tails You Win Farm Style

Thanks HowieLet’s make one thing perfectly clear. I’m not much of a chef. My culinary skills are fairly limited (I can make mac and cheese…I can make one fabulous tomato bisque that a friend gave me baby-step-by-baby-step instructions for…I can make nachos). In fact, my idea of being a good cook is in knowing where to shop for really great carry-out (that I can then put in my own serving dish…you get the picture).

All that said, this fine year, I decided to cook our Thanksgiving meal. It’s just me, Jim and…oh, at last count with holiday guests…25 dogs and one wolfdog. Intimate, really.

We could have gone to enjoy a lovely meal at the home of some amazing friends. It would have been wonderful. These people know how to cook. They have a gourmet kitchen that makes me panic just a little when I simply stand in it. They have burners and ovens galore. They have a sink with a special faucet just for filling big pots with water.  (In my world the use for said “pot filler” would be to douse whatever fire I likely set…but WAIT…you don’t use water to put out a kitchen fire…so we can all see how that would go.)

Today, they will serve the perfect wine. They will have perfect hors d’oeurves. They will have feast beyond compare. They will follow it with an array of desserts that could make the cover of the holiday edition of Bon Appétit Magazine and their table presentation could grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, the holiday how-to edition. I know this. And they will pull it all off with effortless smiles to hide the hours of planning and work that went into the whole affair.

And it would have been a lovely, gluttonous experience.

But this year, with all of our doggy house guests (and my vision of the havoc they could wreak while we are away enjoying said lovely Thanksgiving gathering), and realizing that I have NEVER in my adult life just had my own stay-at-home-and-figure-it-out feast, I decided that Jim and I would have a Tails You Win Farm Thanksgiving.

Turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, gravy, and whatever other side dishes should happen. Yep. Doing it ourselves.

Stop laughing. Seriously. I have feelings.

For a week or so I have been planning.  I have been on Pinterest. I have Googled until my fingers are numb. I found that it’s a tad tricky to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for two. Or so I now believe. Though I have nothing to compare it to. But I have SEEN people cook a huge Thanksgiving meal. (I’m usually in charge of salad and rolls. Hard to screw up salad and rolls.) Thanksgiving recipes are designed to feed the masses. Huh. Just another fun hurdle in my culinary pilgrimage. (Look! I even used a Thanksgiving word!)

Anywho, I gathered recipes, I bought a small turkey breast—all white meat, no scary sack of guts inside. The perfect size for Thanksgiving pour deux. I think that’s French for ‘Thanksgiving for two.’ Why I think I need to use French in describing a strictly American holiday, well, I blame the fact that I am channeling Julia Child.

Bright and early this morning, I awoke with dawn’s first blush, all excited to go start the preparations for our first, wonderful, stay-at-home Thanksgiving feast. The turkey breast was perfectly thawed in the refrigerator. Step one. Success!

I brought my little turkey breast out to “pat dry with paper towels and season.” As I set it out on a tray on the counter I SWEAR I heard the theme from jaws.

thanks groupDa dum.
Da dum.
Da-dum-da-dum-da-dum.

Rut Row.

And so they started circling. Their leader…the one with the incredible reach…nowhere in sight, but I could feel him lurking. Waiting. Watching for that one precious ‘distract the human with cute puppy antics’ opportunity.

OH HELL NO.

And THIS is why I will never score my own cooking show. Well, besides the issue about me not really having a clue what I’m doing in the kitchen.

I am fairly sure you cannot have a cooking show that involves lots of cussing, threats (albeit empty ones) to lurking canines, and the potential for including dog hair in the seasoning list. Nope, not even the dude on Hell’s Kitchen can rival my misuse of the English language and my mom’s old Betty Crocker cookbook on this day.

So now, the turkey breast, having been bathed in butter (because, like bacon, butter makes everything yummy) and properly seasoned (to the best of my knowledge), is tucked safely in our slow cooker (yes I am using a Crock-Pot to cook our turkey. Don’t judge. It’s going to be tender, juicy and wonderful. You will be BEGGING for my recipe which I can’t share because I kind of just tossed some random stuff in there that seemed like a good idea at 6:30 am).

thanks brookeAnd, in this lull between turkey prep and rest-of-the-stuff prep, I am sitting on a stool in the kitchen watching the Crock-Pot. Let’s change ‘watching’ to guarding. Yes, mimosa in hand (thank you Jim…again don’t judge…it’s made with orange juice therefore a perfectly logical beverage for 7:44 am on Thanksgiving morning) I am guarding my slow-cooking turkey breast.

Because you know they’re out there. Those little and not-so-little furry bastards are plotting. They are waiting for that one moment of distraction that will turn my perfect little Thanksgiving into a movie script that would most definitely include Chevy Chase in a starring role.

Thanks Kaine and CinderHuh. A movie script for a Thanksgiving story starring Chevy Chase and Kainan the wolf dog.

Might. Be. Worth. It.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Wish me luck either way.

Out of the Woods

Maria's tree

Artwork by Maria Wulf. Photo used with her permission.

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a new poem. For days a thought bounced around inside my mind. Words floated in and out, but it just wouldn’t come together. Then I saw a post by Maria Wulf featuring one of her wonderful, whimsical works of art. I think this piece was really a test of a new technique she was trying out, but the moment I saw it, I realized she had captured the thoughts that my mind could not bring to order. How wonderful it is to accidentally collaborate. And that little test masterpiece Maria created? It is now mine to cherish forever. Thanks Maria…let’s accidentally do it again sometime soon.

Here is Maria’s artwork as my mind interprets it…

Out of the Woods

Determined roots find purchase,
Defying ever-shifting soil and rock.
Branches reaching, constantly reaching
Though brush and thicket strive to thwart.
Not the tallest in the forest,
Perhaps not the most glorious crown,
But I am strong, I am supple.
I am tenacious,
I can bend without breaking.
I will dance in the wind.
I will offer shelter through the storm.
I will find my path to the sun.

Wolfdog in the House: Busted.

10350350_10205453432278887_1906984399020605388_n

The face of innocence? I. Think. Not.

Sing with me!

“Bad wolf, bad wolf,
Whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

In this case, “they” are not the police. They are Jim and Nancy. Bad wolf? Well, If you’ve been hanging out with my blog in the last month or two, you know who that is.

Let me set the scene for you.

Jim and I were upstairs in the office/loft/lounge/dog room (every room in this house is multi-purpose…every room in this house is a dog room). We were enjoying a little rare quiet time. The dogs were fed and napping. We were catching up with the world on our computers.

Then I heard what, for a nanosecond, I believed to be Jim playing a little online video clip.

“Kainan!” Jim roared as he launched out of his desk chair, “Leave it!”

What the…the dogs and wolfdog are all right here. Wait. Where is the wolfdog?

Gone, that’s where. That animal is pure ninja. Here innocently napping one moment, gone the next without a sound. But, what about that audio (still playing in the background) suggested bad-Kainan?

“He’s got the remote!” Jim’s voice bellowed as he bolted down the stairs to grab the spotlight we keep by the backdoor for just such emergencies. I too leaped into action at this point.

Here’s how it works…whoever busts Kainan’s latest “grab and dash” heads into the yard to talk the wolfdog out of whatever he shouldn’t have in his mouth. The other partner grabs a handful of treats to distract the resident also-leaping-into-action dogs who would otherwise interfere with any search and rescue attempts.

I couldn’t see what was going in the dark yard, but here’s the audible version:

“Kainan.” (stern male voice from one corner of the yard)

“Leave it.” (even more stern now, from the opposite corner of the yard)

“KAINAN.” (caps mean even MORE stern, back to that original corner)

“GIVE. ME. THAT.” (somewhere in the middle)

Jim came back in cradling the remote control; this time rescued unscathed by wolfdog teeth. Other remotes have not been so lucky. (Moment of silence)

So how did Jim know EXACTLY what was going on? Well, apparently this is not the first time that Kainan has inadvertently turned on the television while stealing the remote control. And this is why said remote now lives in the drawer of the bedside table.

10636093_10205453447479267_1152023416844802364_n

Kainan. Busted and pouting.

I’m pretty sure I could maybe, sort of, possibly be the one to blame here. I was the last one to use that remote. I may…there is no actual evidence…but, I MAY have forgotten to put it back in the drawer after using it.

Kainan slunk back inside trying to look contrite, but I didn’t buy it. He was obviously just waiting for the next time we let our guard down.

Bad wolf, bad wolf…or is it bad dog, bad dog? Either way, whatcha gonna do?

Well, I, for one, am “gonna” remember to put stuff away…out of reach. Which reminds me. I watched that TV just last night. And I put the remote…I put the remote…

Wait. Do I hear the theme for Good Morning America? Dammit. Gotta run.

KAINAN!