Creative. Life.

Howie and coI’m not going to lie to you…and my blog won’t let me lie even if I wanted to. I haven’t had much time to write lately.

Writing is my therapy. It’s my joy (well, one of my joys!). It’s my me-time. It’s the place where the voices bouncing around inside my head sometimes come together to make sense. It’s an outlet for my good friend, Creativity.

Ah, Creativity. How I treasure and respect you, both in my own self and in the incredible works of others. If I could, I would just bask in your light every day, all day. Just imagine…

But lately, I have been beating myself up because I feel I have been neglecting my best friend. I haven’t made time. I’ve let “life” get in the way.

Life has a way of doing that sometimes. Hustle. Bustle. Ping-pong from one project, one commitment, one necessity to the next. And then, at the end of the day, you collapse on the couch and wonder where time went.

So I thought maybe I should write an apology to Creativity. You know, give my dear friend an explanation. I could list all of the “life” things that have been going on and surely Creativity would understand. Yes. I could tell Creativity I’m very sorry and ask for forgiveness.

So here it goes:

Dear Creativity,

I haven’t been a very good friend to you the past couple of months. I’m truly sorry for that. 

You see, life has been crazy busy lately. My business partner and I opened a second business and getting that up and running…and then working to make it successful has been quite a task. It seems I spend every minute of every day thinking of ways to get customers through our doors. Thinking of advertisements, promotions, posting away on social media. It’s fun, but boy it’s time-consuming.

And do you know that Jim, my friend Lawanna (aka: business partner!), and I run a non-profit organnization to rescue, care for, and re-home Dalmatians? Of course you know. you’ve helped me write about my beloveds spotted dogs often. Well, things have been a tad busy on that front lately too. We’ve taken four additional Dalmatians into our home in the last two months. They’ve each come with their own set of special needs, so they’ve kept us hopping.

13716136_10210354273316850_5128798030219378446_nDottie came to us neglected and with horribly disfigured feet. We’ve been working to keep her comfortable, healthy, and happy. Sweet girl, her tail never stops wagging in appreciation.

Then Brother and Sister came along with several of their litter mates. Just babies, they all had come down with a terrible case of deadly parvovirus and needed our help. Some of their siblings did not survive, but Brother and Sister did. We’ve been nursing them back to health while being careful not to spread the disease to other dogs. It’s been a huge juggling act! And did I mention that we had to set up a giant fund raiser to pay for their treatment? Oh, but how rewarding that has been as we witnessed so many friends and strangers-who-are-now-friends stepping up to help provide the needed funds to see our puppies through to good health. 

Amazing stuff right there.

Almost immediately after we took the puppies in, we got the call about Skip. Ah, Skip. What a little doll. He was born and raised in a puppy mill where his life was restricted to a small cage with no toys, no soft beds, no belly rubs. Then he, his parents, and several other Dalmatians were placed in an auction, to be sold to the highest bidder. Sad, scary stuff for a six month old puppy to endure.

skip crate 2Luckily for Skip, dedicated rescue friends were able to purchase him and asked if I could pick him up from the auction house in Missouri, get to know him, and help him find a REAL home. One with toys, soft beds, and tons of belly rubs. They didn’t have to ask me twice, I’m a sucker for a cute, spotted face. 

Of course that just added a lot more work to the old to-do list, and that darn list was already pretty full anyway.

Because we have our own dogs to care for. There’s chickens to feed and a barn full of animals. There’s laundry  and mowing and a house that always needs cleaning.

There are bills. There are seminars to attend. There are errands to run. There are birthday parties. 

Darn it! When is that doctor appointment?

There are articles to write. Deadlines to meet. More business ideas that need research, thought, and execution. 

The car needs an oil change. My closet is a mess. We’re out of milk. I need to take Lacy the Whippet to the vet for a check-up. 

Creativity, I know I’m babbling here. The point I’m really trying to make is that life has been crazy busy lately and I’ve neglected you. I know I have. I’m truly sorry. You are such a good and loyal friend that you haven’t even complained once. You’ve just been waiting patiently for me to return, haven’t you?

And I will. I’ll be back. I promise. I’m truly sorry.

Love, 

Nancy

As soon as I put my apology out into the universe, an immediate reply filled my heart and mind.

Dear Nancy,

You never left me. I was never neglected. And I certainly never left you. 

I come to you in a lot of forms. I’m not something you make time for, I’m not something that can be scheduled. I’m a lot more than just words on a computer screen.

I’m part of you. I’m with you every minute of every day. I help you make things happen. I help you solve problems. I help you make a seemingly impossible to-do list do-able. 

How in the world do you think you ever get everything done?

We do it together, my friend. 

Love, 

Creativity.

You know, I don’t think I’m going to beat myself up any more. And you know what else? I’m pretty sure this reply wasn’t just to me.  We all have to deal with that life to-do list thing. Nice to know you have a good friend to help you juggle it all, isn’t it?

Thanks Creativity. You’re the best. We’ve got this.

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Sleep-In Sunday. Who Needs It?

sleep Kaine 2

I’ll admit it. I was a tiny bit giddy when I tucked myself into bed last night. It was Saturday night and I had NOTHING to do Sunday morning. Nothing. Nada. Nil.

And so I drifted off to sleep with visions of a lazy morning dancing in my head. I would sleep in. Not the 7:00 am kind of sleep-in. Not even the 7:30 kind of sleep-in. I was going for the gold. I was shooting for 8:00 am sleep-in glory.

That rarely gets to happen.

It still rarely gets to happen.

Several factors conspired against my lazy, stay-in-bed Sunday. If you know me at all, you might think that some of those factors were the members of my four-legged family. You would be right, but in their defense, it was the two-legged inhabitants of the farm who really stirred the pot.

“Stirred the pot” may be an unfortunate phrase choice, because the two-legged creatures I am referring to are our little flock of chickens who decided that a rainy, gray, perfect-for-sleeping morning was, instead, the perfect morning to crow repeatedly (that would be Cluck Norris testing his new-found skills as a young rooster), and run hither and yon across the yard. In front of the windows. The bedroom windows. Where the dogs WERE sleeping with me. Until they were not.

windowBarking, pawing, and whining incessantly at the windows became the new order of the day. I tried desperately to press my eyelids tightly shut and pull the blankets over my head in an effort to block the dogs, who were ping-ponging across the bed as they vaulted to the windows and back to me in a HEY-DID-YOU-KNOW-WE-HAVE-CHICKENS frenzy.

Yeah. I know. Chickens.

And then the lead two-legger came in to crash my slumber party once and for all. He released THE hound. Yep, I believe his words were, “If you’re not going to come see him, he’s going to come see you.”

With that, approximately 115 pounds of soggy Kainan, our resident wolfdog, landed squarely on my abdomen.

Chicks in yardOh, and did I tell you that the aforementioned human two-legger also happened to be the one who let the chickens out of their coop at 6 am? On sleep-in Sunday? On a cloudy, rainy, perfect-for-snoozing day? Yeah, I’m not pointing any fingers, but that’s what happened and his name rhymes with hymn. (That reference is going to make all kinds of sense here in a minute and you’re going to look back and you’ll surely think I’m quite clever…)

But the sound that REALLY got me out of my fog and into the day had nothing to do with rogue chickens or bouncing dogs. It was the pitiful, complaining, wail that echoed from the garage, down the hall, through the living room and straight into my pillow-muffled ear canals.

PUPPIES!

Oh yes! My eyes suddenly popped wide open. It was my first morning to wake up to our two tiny spotted charges. Our new little foster babies.

In the garage, you say? Yes. I know. It goes against everything that is Nancy and Jim (hey, that rhymes with hymn…). Our dogs and our foster dogs are in the house. Everywhere in the house. They own the place.

But these tiny babies are special. They are two of the survivors from a litter of Dalmatian puppies that came down with the dreaded parvovirus (parvo).

In a nutshell, parvo is a highly contagious virus that attacks a dog’s intestines and destroys the lining that allows them to absorb nutrients and fluids. While there is prevention for parvo – all puppies and dogs should be vaccinated for it – there is no cure for it once a dog or puppy has contracted it. So the only course of treatment is to provide supportive care while the virus runs its course and hope like heck the puppy can rally. It is an aggressive disease and can be deadly.

We learned all too well about the deadly part this week.

Jim and I, along with our good friend Lawanna, run the Dalmatian Assistance League, Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to the welfare of our beloved Dalmatian dogs. We educate the public about our favorite breed of dog. We rescue homeless Dalmatians. We foster them. We provide care for them. We find them wonderful new homes. And we love them. Each and every one that passes through our lives.

About a week ago, while on a trip to California for my cousin’s wedding (BEAUTIFUL!), I received word about a litter of 10 Dalmatian puppies that had contracted parvo. One puppy had already died, and other puppies in the litter were starting to fall like a line of teetering dominoes. The litter owners, who had not really planned to breed their dogs, but ooops happened, were overwhelmed and out of resources. Treating one case of parvo can be costly and is a 24/7 proposition. Treating an entire litter was devastating.

Long story short…with lots of texts and phone calls, Jim and I started arranging assistance for the puppies, hoping that a little help would go a long way. Sometimes you can nip parvo in the bud. Sometimes you can’t.

This was one of those “you can’t” times.

Pink 2Once back in town, I met the puppies for the first time at a veterinary hospital that was willing to work with our rescue group to try to save some lives. Three puppies had already left for new homes (and were receiving care from their new owners), one, despite supportive care from the litter owner, had already passed away. We were left with a plastic tub full of six puppies, five of which were showing symptoms.

I won’t give all the details, but of the six puppies, five required hospitalization through the course of the week and in the end, we lost three of them. Overall in the litter, five died, five survived.

It was heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. It was a yo-yoing, emotional, glass half full, glass half empty kind of week. At times, especially in the mornings when I awaited my daily update from the veterinarian, it felt like a cracked glass draining fast kind of week as I received news of loss despite their very best efforts.

But then there was the morning when the remaining puppies made it through the night. That was followed by the call when I could actually hear the puppies complaining loudly as they vied for attention in the background. Then there was the news that the two puppies remaining at the vet were drinking water on their own and holding it down. Soon came the news that they were finally hungry…in fact, hAngry. Finally, we had good, glorious, turning-the-corner kind of news.

These kids were ready to be sprung from the vet and Jim and I were ready to welcome them to our home to recover. Oh…wait. We were anything BUT ready.

Even though they were doing better, the puppies would still be shedding the virus and though our adult dogs would not be affected, we could not let our home environment become contaminated. Parvo can live in your yard for years. It is one stubborn little bastard.

So Saturday morning erupted in a flurry of preparation so we would have a comfortable quarantine space for our new adorable charges. Though parvo is spread through contact, it is not airborne, we still needed to have a good plan and set-up for keeping the puppies isolated.

Hymn, um, I mean Jim, cleared a space in our do-you-really-use-all-of-these-tools garage (and he does. I guess he really does) while I ran out to gather/buy supplies. Supplies included a tarp for the floor, rubber gloves and gowns to wear when handling the pups, blankets, a crate, a puppy pen, oh, and a portable air conditioner. Oklahoma is hot, hot, hot. Recovering puppies needed to be comfortable.

We got everything set up in record time. I went to the puppy hospital, met with the wonderful Dr. Sellers, got all of my instructions, and then loaded a little crate into my Jeep, two sweet, curious faces peering out of it.

13568795_1372346229461358_3022580120059058848_oThe pups settled into their new recovery space nicely. They both immediately lapped up a big drink of water (yay…dehydration is one of the big killers with parvo) and then discovered the pile of new toys we had waiting for them. It was a great feeling to see two puppies who had just a day ago been so ill they could barely raise their heads, pounce on squeaky toys and settle in to gnaw on puppy chew bones.

And so these spotted charmers were the determined little alarm clocks that finally broke through my Sunday slumber fog. They were my reason to bolt out of bed and start my day just a wee bit earlier than I had planned. And I didn’t mind. Not one bit.

It was perfect.

13592266_1372345986128049_2484418169794870042_nGowned and gloved, I sat holding each puppy, thankful for a great veterinarian, thankful for a litter owner who did not give up, thankful for that Jim guy who would never turn his back on a puppy in need.

In our set-up, we had added an old radio in the garage to keep the puppies company. On this Sunday morning before the 4th of July, one of the few stations we could find that would actually tune in was featuring the “Big Country Sunday Morning Gospel Show.”

The old-time hymns (see that…hymn, rhymed with Jim…I brought it full circle!) brought a grin to my face as I sang along to my little patients. Patsy Cline and I crooned “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” I harmonized with the Statler Brothers through “Amazing Grace,” followed by a rousing rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” that reverberated through the garage as two happy, returning-to-healthy puppies squirmed in an enthusiastic attempt to lick my nose.

You know what? Sleep-in Sunday can happily be damned. My cracked glass is now full and runneth right over. I have puppies to hug.

 

There is a fund raiser underway to help cover our mounting expenses for the puppies. If you would like to contribute to the puppies’ care fund, you can find information here: gofundme.com/dalmatianrescue. Donations in any amount are greatly appreciated. All funds go directly to the Dalmatian Assistance League, Inc.,  a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Good thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement are equally valued. We thank you!