Sunday, November 27, 2011

There's still time for Military Working Dog and Handler Care Packages - Update and More Suggestions

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was delicious and spent with loved ones nearby.  We were lucky enough to have tickets to the Dallas / Miami game at Cowboys Stadium.  What an experience!  Yesterday we had our traditional turkey feast and each of us took turns giving thanks.  We three shared thankfulness for being together.  So much changes from year to year - kids grow up, people move, humans and their dogs age.  So for this moment, for this one blink in time, we are thankful.

If you read my last blog post, you know that I'm going to be sending care packages to military working dogs and their handlers in Kabul, Afghanistan.  These men and women, far from home and family, need all the support we can offer.  They're risking their lives each day, while caring for and working with their dogs, just hoping to make it back to their families intact.  Please consider them while shopping over the next week.  Along with the stress and uncertainty of living in a merciless and unfriendly environment, these handlers and their dogs deal with boredom and homesickness.  If you choose to send a package, I have the original Facebook post (with item suggestions and direct APO address) for care packages here, OR - Matt's software company, Webldr, has graciously offered the use of their PO Box:
Webldr LLC.

Grace Foley (K9 Package)
PO Box 631508
Irving, Texas 75063
I'll be sending all the items I receive at this PO Box during the week of Dec 5-9.  You still have time!

Here's another list of suggestions I found from a care package sending website of what soldiers commonly request:
  Baby Wipes
  Phone Cards
  Hand Warmers
  Foot Warmers
  Tooth Brushes
  Body Wash
  Body Spray
  Beef Jerkey
  Comic Books
  Travel Size Games (chess, checkers)
  Deck of Cards
  Memory Cards (i.e. PSP's)
  Memory Sticks
  Suntan Lotion
  Non Carbonated Drinks (Propel)
  Uniform T-shirts (which can either be ordered on line 
     from AAFES or bought at the PX)
  Pictures From Home
  Thumb Tack (to hang the pictures) 
  Hard Candy
  Blue and Black Pens
  Fly Paper (some areas where the soldiers live have lots of flies)
  A multi-tool or really good folding knife
  Sun Glasses
  Digital or Disposable Cameras
  Travel Size Packets of Laundry Detergent
  Powdered Drinks, especially Gatorade
  Blank Writable CD's
  Crossword Puzzles, Word Searches, Soduku, 
  Sports themed things - football, baseball, etc

And for the Military Working Dogs:

Collapsible nylon water and food bowls
paw pad salve
Durable rope toys
Durable chew toys like Kongs/ Nylabones
K9 ear and eye wash
Dog beds - orthopedic
Fast drying bath chamois
Hand towels, washcloths for paws
Grooming items - brushes, K9 shampoo, K9 toothbrush/ paste
Treats and chews

Please, please, please - remember to send a note for the soldier.  This will allow them to reconnect with home and the reasons why they're over there.  Many soldiers say these letters and notes from home are what keep them going over the many months of their deployment.  

"Can we send them tennis balls, Mom?  I have some to share!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let's Spread Some Holiday Cheer to Military K9's and Their Handlers!

Recently on Facebook, there was a post by a German Shepherd group that I belong to, German Shepherd Tips that really tugged on my heart strings.  This holiday season, as with each one in years past, there will be men and women serving in the military far from home and away from their friends and family.  I know we haven't even hit Thanksgiving yet, this might be a good way to get in the spirit of giving!

I can't begin to imagine the sacrifice these handlers are prepared to make each day.  I'm the person that starts crying like a baby when I know an animal in a movie is about to die.  Not only do these handlers risk themselves personally, they are also responsible for their ever-loyal partners, too.  Nobody can work side by side with these dogs daily and not become firmly attached to them.

I'm hoping some of you might consider participating in donating to a care package.  I think we might run the risk of making an overseas, deployed holiday, a bit less horrible for a few K9 Handlers and their dogs.  Here's the original post:

I know there are some enormous hearts out there in blogville.  Do you think we could gather supplies for these handlers and their dogs?  The list above is a great start - anything you add to it would surely be appreciated.  I was thinking - tennis balls, rope toys - the kinds of things that wouldn't be standard military issue.  For the Handlers - digital cameras, stationary, pens, jump drives (do they have computer access?).
Medical supplies for both handlers and their dogs aren't needed as they're provided for by the military.

Most importantly, please include a little note or letter with a few kind words.  I know if I was overseas away from home, reading a letter from someone that cared enough to think of me would mean a ton.  You can send the package yourself, or you can mail it to me and I will send a group package.  If you send your package directly, please keep in mind that it takes about 2 weeks to arrive and you must have a soldier's name (in this case - Clint Reynolds, Program Manager K9 Unit APO AE 09321 - see in letter above) or your package won't make it there.  I'm aiming to send a group package around the first week of December.  If you have any questions, please e-mail me at , or you can send your package and letter to me directly at Webldr LLC, my hubby's software company that's graciously donated the temporary use of their PO box!
Webldr LLC.
Grace Foley (K9 Package)
PO Box 631508
Irving, Texas 75063

Nyxie dreaming of all her military cousins serving  abroad

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Today Was a Good Day

Years ago, relaxing wasn't something I had to work on.  It came naturally, as effortlessly as breathing.  I could kick back on the phone with a friend for hours without needing to juggle laundry and bills with the other hand.  I could read a book without checking the clock.  I could sit in silence in a waiting room without checking Facebook updates.  I could dance and sing like a banshee, and to hell with anyone else.  I could hug my friends easily and laugh so hard my sides would ache.  Since then, I've moshed and fought, found myself on the razor's edge of danger, and lost friends and family to death and distance.  And over time, through these tragedies great and small, I thought I'd lost the ability to be carefree.

Then there are moments when I look around only to find myself isolated in a room full of people, when I feel less than what and who I am, when I let the waves of negativity rush over my head.  In these gasping moments, I turn inward and focus on my strengths.  That I've had struggles and have come through stronger.  I'm a tough, Irish-Peruvian, ass-kicking woman that's at peace with her life.  I've become a woman my father would be proud of.  I'm proud of myself.

Do I wish I had more money, more beauty...just more?  Sure, I do.  But then again, I realize I don't need more when I have a day like today.  Today I laughed with my family.  We laughed so hard we cried!  We danced and sang, hugged and talked.  We snuggled with our dogs.  We spent the day just being together.  I looked around at my apartment, full of dogs, geekery and the people that mean the world to me, and realized how at peace I am.

So what does all this have to do with dogs, gentle readers?  I'll tell you.

Dogs don't have these misgivings, hidden anxieties and self-doubts.  They have short lives and don't hide a damn thing.  They live with utter simplicity and clarity.  They live easily, the way humans should live.  Their tragedies and losses make them sage and dignified.  Wise, really.

Today was a good day.  And now I'm going to snuggle into bed with my dogs and NOT fold a single stitch of laundry.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Daddy's Home!!

Matt has been working from home for a couple of weeks now with his friend's software business.  No more daily commuting and working for a hated boss.  Now there's the stress of invested labor - somehow a much more satisfying stress than working for somebody else.  One of his first assignments has been to sell a number of their company's Apple MacBook Pro's.  So that he can do so, we're playing host to these computers in their boxes, all in our itty-bitty apartment.

What the dogs' see: "Agility Obstacles!!!  Wheeee!!!"
Now I understand why when we say we have 3 dogs, people always ask if we have a big yard.  Nope - we sure don't...

Since the big transition to Matt working from home, the dogs are rarely in their crates, and have more flexibility overall.  Matt's there to walk and feed them, and they can have cuddles at will.  But they are NOT momma cuddles.

"You're leaving us here with HIM?!"

For the first few days, the dogs greeted me with the wild-eyed look of kids after a night with a 1st time babysitter.  Matt's home to walk them at lunch, so I don't have come home midday, either.  This makes me a far less rushed, crazy woman.  After about a week, the kiddos have settled into their new routine, content and calm.  I hate to admit it, but they're doing just fine without me - all of them.  Except for maybe the apartment itself which still needs my TLC...

So in an effort to help me care for the poor, neglected apartment, please consider buying one of these acBook Pro's from Matt's company, WebLDR.  While I love the idea of an at-home exercise course for the kids, high-end computers do NOT make good agility poles.  Having these computers here at home, I can honestly say they're really nice refurbished computers for a very reasonable price.  The hard drives were totally wiped and brand new operating systems have been installed, so they run like new.  I can understand the reason for the whole Apple craze.  To see another description, you can see Matt's local Craigslist listing here.  Send along your email or phone # with any questions! To reach Matt directly, call (214) 937-9979.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch

I have a couple of new articles up:
The Examiner: Walking the Dog Like a Pro
HelloDallas: Cutting Back Fido's Food the Easy Way
I've also recently discovered StumbleUpon - to "friend me, my username is ForPetsSake.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Rhythm of the Ocean

On Mondays I work in the afternoons, so I get to sleep in.  Matt is working from home now so he scooted T off to school and let the dogs sleep in with me.  I opened my eyes to realize I had all 3 dogs curled around me on the bed.  The room was dark, and I could feel their proximity and feel their chests rise in rhythmic waves.  I thought of the ocean and how driven we are to it.  For so many reasons we're driven to the ocean, but that ebb and flow of the water is the enormous breathing of some great big being; the breathing of our great planet.  The tie that beckons and binds is that interconnectedness.    

I didn't want to let the world in on this moment. I was caught in that cloud of sleep that fogs the break of day.  I wanted to close my eyes and resume my own breathing, another rhythm to join the three.  I reached out and found fur which wriggled under my palm, but fell again into that rhythm in seconds.   I wanted to close my eyes with the tightness of sleep, and forget all the preoccupations and responsibilities of the day and the week beyond.  I tried to fool my body back into sleeping.  I tried to snuggle in deeper to the warm press of Fenway's tiny body.  I tried to relax my palm on Nyxie's soft fur, but stroked it instead.  

It was no use.  My brain was awake, the fog was lifting, my eyes were focusing and the rhythm of my own breathing was just a hair faster than the three beside me.  I stretched and pulled myself out of the ocean of sleep.  It's those moments of safety and rhythm and balance that feed the rest.  As I stretched, the dogs came alive beside me, each stretching and yawning and nuzzling one another as they do each morning.  Then the dance begins.  That dance of joy that celebrates that we've made it through the night together and now there will be feasting!  

"Hooray for a new day!"

I have so much to learn from the three...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

That Damn Dewclaw

My poor Nyxie has a split dewclaw.  We discovered her injury a couple of days ago when she was licking non-stop at her poor pitiful paw.  It's the front right paw, the same nail I clipped too short a few months past.  Surely this is my fault somehow.  Maybe cutting it too short made the nail weak, ergo the current state of affairs.  The poor pup has been licking and guarding her paw from Arwen and Fenway since it happened.  She hasn't cried out, and has been playing, eating and sleeping fine, but I know it bothers her.

We discussed lopping it off at work, but this would cause her undue stress and even if we removed the nail, the quick would be exposed and painful.  We decided to let it grow out a bit, aided by her licking, applying a natural antiseptic, and giving her daily anti-inflammatory meds.  She's just about worked it off, and the quick beneath it is slightly less raw.  There's no swelling and other ickyness.  

Although surely this has been hard on her, it's been killing me.  I can't bear the thought of her in pain.  I watch her and worry.  Then I watch some more and worry some more, hoping she'll lose that damn nail soon - it's hanging by a tiny thread!  That damn right front paw with that damn dewclaw.  Being a parent sucks sometimes.  She's the most sensitive of the three, really - the biggest bark and the softest heart.  The Cowardly Lion comes to mind.  She's been so brave through all this, though.

Maybe she'll share her Courage with me.

Please send positive, healing thoughts!  Also, I've added a new custom-order sign listing to my online store.  I'd love to make a sign for you and your pack...