Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mobile grooming station...

For the dog show enthusiast who is too tall for one level of crates, and too short for two...

 

How they attach.  Just a couple of L-hooks, screwed in.  Spaced so they drop into pre-drilled holes in the crates.

 

The stain was called "Black Cherry", but I thought it looked more like eggplant when applied.  No matter, I like purple.

 

Casters attached with nuts and bolts.

 

And it all folds down and goes in the back of the Element.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday: worried about Ty...

Today is thoughtful Tuesday, and I don't much feel like writing.  I'm worried about Ty.  I don't wish to vocalize anything specific, but would ask for some prayers for him, and to give the vet healing hands for his visit this afternoon.  That's all...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The remnants of St. Patrick's Day

I love St. Patrick's Day, for one reason.  It's not for the green beer, nor celebrations in local pubs.  It's for the leftover corned beef, and the hash that follows on the day after.

 

This year we made the traditional corned beef and cabbage.  I just put mine in the pressure cooker.  One hour later it's done, and fork tender.  There were, of course, leftovers.  While some of the corned beef made it to the next day, the cabbage did not.  If cabbage doesn't get eaten the day it's cooked, it just seems to be flat and unappealing on day two.  I need to find a recipe that better allows for leftovers of this vegetable, but for now, it's an "eat it the day its cooked, or it goes" kind of thing.

The hash on the next day was so good, we went back to the store and bought two more corned beef briskets, and put them in the freezer.  They were on sale, of course.  =)  A few days ago I pressure cooked one of them, made a huge batch of hash, and put it in the fridge.  We have been having it for a quick breakfast, with poached eggs, each morning ever since.

Today I made a nice Hollandaise sauce to add to the dish.  It's Saturday, after all, and I'm not trying to get my husband out the door by 7am, so I had time.

The hash is pretty easy.  As I said, I start with the brisket, and pressure cook it for one hour.  Some people slow cook it, all day, and that works, too.  I just like to get it done quick, and the pressure cooker does that for me.  Pressure cooking leaves the meat ridiculously tender and full of flavor.  Once cooked, and I dice it up, and set it aside.

I use red baby potatoes for the hash, also diced (leave the skin on, of course).  Once diced, I microwave them for several minutes, until they are cooked and tender, but not falling apart.

I finish them in a skillet with some olive oil, chopped onion and garlic.  Once the potatoes are browned nicely, I add the meat and continue to cook on higher heat until the meat forms its own light 'crust', if you will.

I let it cool completely, then store it in the fridge.  When it's time for breakfast, I heat a pan of water for my poached eggs, and heat a serving of hash in the microwave.  I top the hash with the eggs, and viola!  Breakfast is served.

Today I topped it with Hollandaise, and it was delicious, though certainly not a requirement.

Once that second brisket (currently sitting in the freezer) finds its way to the pan for hash, corned beef will fade from my memory until the next St. Patrick's Day, and we'll do it all over again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is here! But is it, really?

It's officially spring, or so says the calendar.

My surroundings say it's most definitely winter, with two days of snow, and the white stuff still all around town.  It's cold, it's windy, and I have been on a comfort food binge for weeks, just trying to keep the bones warm!

I caved, and changed the blog banner, even though it doesn't really feel like spring yet, but perhaps the pretty flowers will give me a reason to better tolerate the snow, and cold temperatures, knowing warmer days are just around the corner.

Of course, the avalanche on the pass last night didn't really do much to give me hope for those aforementioned warmer days, but who's really counting that?  After all, it's just one little avalanche, right?  =)

On another note, new recipes will be coming soon.  I'm planning some fun things I have in mind for the spring and summer, including my own smoked deli meats.  I have a small smoker I got two summers ago, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it to this point.  I thought it might be nice to branch out.  I'm doing some research on making my own pastrami.  More on that when those warmer days make their way to the high desert.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday: animal rights vs. animal welfare

The title of this post should alert you that a very controversial post is forthcoming.  In light of what happened at Crufts (the elimination of three dogs from competition, who were unable to pass an independent veterinary check), as well as the growing animal rights movement, lead by the likes of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I thought it would be a good time to talk about something that's rarely discussed - the view from the middle ground.

I'm a breeder.  I'm probably as small as they come.  I have two retired performance dogs, who are my constant companions - they are both neutered, and were neutered as youngsters.  I have two intact bitches.  One younger and actively showing in conformation, and who I have talked about in the blog, and the other, her mother, who at almost 4, has had one litter, with another one now in the works.

My four dogs live in the house, as I write, two are laying at my feet.  They are all well trained, happy, good citizens.  They are confident and easy travelers, having logged many miles in their lives, via car, and plane.  Interested in their accomplishments?  You can visit my website for more information at www.raelanshelties.com.

But I digress...

Today is not a day about expressing my thoughts on the 'animal rights vs. animal welfare' battle, but rather a day to shed light on both sides, and let you form your own opinions, adding a few things for you to consider.  Of course, as a breeder, albeit a ridiculously small, and non-traditional one, I have a vested interest in retaining my 'right' to breed my dogs, but that's really beside the point of this post.

Our animal rights advocates, HSUS and PETA, have very clearly stated goals.  They wish for no animal use in our society.  This includes no animals for food, no animals in service of the disabled, no animals for research, and no animals to warm your feet at night.  Wayne Pacelle, the President of the HSUS, has stated that he has "no problem with the extinction of domestic animals..."  Please hold that in your mind as you move through the rest of this post.  It's important to remember the goals of HSUS and PETA.  If you choose to support one side vs. another, it's really pretty critical to understand what you are supporting.  It's not always the carefully controlled and crafted media messages and images.  To be fair, you should also be well versed in the the other camp's goals, as well.

Our animal welfare advocates, NAIA, to name one, believe in preserving our right, as a society, to use animals for all the above purposes, and support the welfare of these animals.  You can find information on all these groups via a web search.  And, as I said, it's very important to keep in mind the end goals of each of these groups, in particular if you choose to offer them your support.

Each side wants to win the battle.  Each side wants an "all or nothing" result, but can this really be achieved?  Is it possible that the well populated middle ground makes more sense for each side?  Could it be, by standing on the "all or nothing" fringes, we are setting ourselves up (no matter which side we stand on) for failure?  This question should not be an indication of my position.  It's not.  It's information I want you to consider.  If I had the perfect answer to the animal rights vs. animal welfare battle, I would probably be the leader of the free world.

Let's look at use of animals for research.  I know the argument well.  I think we all do.  If you have no need for that research, in the framework of your life, it might be easy to say "abolish all animal use for research, it's cruel."  But let's assume your 2 year old daughter falls victim to a terminal illness that might be cured with that research.  Would that change your opinion?  Or, at a minimum, would you want to know you could change your mind, and find some inherent value in animal research?  If so, wouldn't it make sense to remain open to the possibility, and further, cease a movement that pushes that option out of your reach?  Every mother I have ever met has been heard to say "I would die for my child".  Would it follow they would allow the death of an animal, not known to them, for that same child?  Or, would that same mother at least like to retain the option to seek any/all means available, to cure her ailing child, including animal research?  If that research is abolished, that option is gone.  That 'right' is gone.

Okay, moving on...

Let's look at use of animals in service of those with disabilities.  To be honest, service animal use is far more palatable than animals for research, but the same principles apply.  If the animal rights' movement wins, every blind man and woman, every child afflicted with epilepsy, every hearing impaired neighbor will cease to enjoy the extended life function these animals provide.  Aren't those in our physically impaired world entitled to the more equal playing field these wonderful animals offer them in service?  If you were to lose your sight tomorrow, would you want the option to pursue a guide dog?  Would you at least like to have the choice?  The right.  If all animal use is extinguished, that option is gone.  That 'right' is gone.

Let's look at animals for food.  In order to get a balanced view here, we need to look at shows like Planet Earth.  All animals, no matter species, must eat to survive.  Carnivores need meat.  They kill their prey, and consume it, as part of the cycle of life.  I have heard the argument, "well, they make it painless and swift, and they must hunt for it."  Yes, they must hunt for it, and we have enough sympathy for the 9 out of 10 failed hunts, that we can 'stomach' the one successful one.  But if you think predators inflict swift and painless death, I beg to differ.  I watched a pride of lions take down an elephant on the series Planet Earth.  It sure didn't look "painless and swift".  I watched, just two nights ago, on the series Frozen Planet, a pack of arctic wolves take down a bison.  Again, it didn't look "painless and swift".  Eating the gut contents of an animal that is still living can't possibly be considered "painless and swift", not to the viewer, and surely not to the animal who is aware he is being eaten, and will bleed to death, painfully and slowly.

I don't know about you, but it's getting harder and harder for me to afford the offerings in the meat case at my local grocery store, and I'm a meat eater.  I'm not a vegetarian, nor do I have any plans to become one.  More and more, the constraints put upon those who farm livestock are driving up those meat case prices, until, at some point down the road, I will need a second job to consume them.  And, before my vegan friends tell me I should just stop eating meat, let's look at non meat offerings.  They aren't any cheaper.  My produce bill outweighs my meat bill, and it does so by about a factor of two.  If I want organic produce, make that a factor of 3-4.

By promoting animal rights, we are losing human ones.  Have you considered that?  If so, are you aware of the implications in your life, long term?  Have we become so disconnected from our food that we really don't understand, nor have compassion for the livestock farmer?

Again, I'm not asking these questions as an indication of my own position, but rather to help you see what "animal rights" will mean in your life, your children's lives and your grand-children's lives.  If you are educated, you can better make the choice that truly suits your beliefs, and your life-style, but this post is about information, not opinions...please remember that.

Moving on...

I titled this post "animal rights vs. animal welfare" for a reason.  As defined by Merriam-Webster, here are a couple of definitions for you:

Rights:  qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval.

Welfare:  the state of doing well, especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity welfare. 

In looking at these definitions, which applies to the general care of animals?  The definition that's derived from lawful authority, or that which is not?  I'm not here to answer that question for you, but to point out a subtle difference.  The use of the word "lawful" in the definition of 'rights', infers law.  A law that tells you how to treat and/or care for your animals.  Those laws must be written, lobbied and passed.  Laws are passed when big money is involved, and generally when much glad handing has taken place.  It's called 'politics'.

We often like laws that put animal abusers behind bars.  I would raise my hand and say that appeals to me, but what if those laws also told you that you could not have your beloved cat, or dog, live in your house with you?  What if those laws told you that animal ownership, in any form, was against the law?  Now which definition would you choose?  How would you view those laws that you once thought were great and wonderful?

Like I said earlier, this post wasn't about me formulating an opinion, and sharing it with you.  It was about the view from both sides.  For me, I view the battle from somewhere in the middle ground, because it's where I get the most balanced view, though I have, as previously stated, a strong vested interest in maintaining my right to breed by dogs.  Where do you stand?  Have you considered all the ramifications, of all those laws?  Have you really thought through the difference between "rights" and "welfare"?  I know I have, and I keep challenging myself to remember my stance, and be as committed as I can be, while trying to understand opinions that vary from my own, and how they fit, or not, into the fabric of my own beliefs.

Happy thoughtful Tuesday, friends.




Friday, March 16, 2012

What happened to Kindle?

 

Last summer I noticed something just a little bit 'off' with my beloved Kindle.  Nothing overtly obvious, I could just tell her body wasn't in alignment with all of its parts.  She'd never been injured, that I was aware of, and she'd never had a lame day.  It was more an overall lack of full extension in the way she uses herself.

I decided to have her x-rayed.  On x-ray, we discovered compression between L6 and L7.  After extensive discussions with the vet, and the orthopedic specialist, we could not conclude the cause, but assume it was either birth trauma, or an injury.  If it was an injury, I was at a loss as to when it happened, though I can recall one incident when she was playing with her litter brother, and he jumped at/on her.  She got pissed, and snarked at him, but it looked as though it pissed her off more than hurt her.  I didn't really think more about it, other than noting just a few 'shake it off' steps that followed.  All was well...I thought.

I still can't conclude that's where the 'injury' took place, but there is just no other time I can remember anything else like that happening.  What we do know for sure, it was some form of an injury, we just can't pin-point when/where it happened.

On we went, and she appeared fine, none the worse for wear.  She was about 6 months of age.  It wasn't until she was about a year old I noticed this very slight 'off' in her.  I really don't know how to describe it, other than to say I just could tell she wasn't 100%.  She was damn close, but perhaps it's just something you know when you live with, and observe your dogs as closely as I do.  No one else saw it, just me.  I tried to convince myself I was just being paranoid, but I decided it was time for x-rays.  It was time for her hip preliminary x-rays, which were excellent, BTW, so why not just shoot the entire rear assembly.

This is when we found the aforementioned compression.  We got on the waiting list of the very highly recommended chiropractor/acupuncturist in our area, Dr. Leslie Griffith.  To say we love Dr. Leslie would be a gross understatement.  Treatments started about the first of October.

What we discovered is that Kindle, while maintaining very near to full function, had no feeling in her left hind leg.  None.  No cognitive reflex response.  Nothing.  She was just using the leg, because it was back there.

Several treatments would follow.  In mid-November, while showing her in the ring, she suddenly turned around, as though something had bitten her in the rear.  It really freaked her out, and me, too.  I thought, "oh, crap, here we go...the well known Sheltie meltdown."  Absolutely not what I would expect with this happy, solid and confident girl.  We came home from the show, and she was a mess.  She wouldn't settle, couldn't sit still, stress panted, and paced, constantly, for 24 hours.  By Monday morning, I was so upset, I called the vet.  We needed to do something for her.  What the hell was going on?

The regular vet couldn't get us in...I guess all the money we have spent there over the past 8 years really meant nothing, in terms of priority, but bless Dr. Leslie, she said, "get here as quick as you can, and I will see her."

Well, guess what?  The treatments were working.  The nerve compression was releasing, and feeling was returning to the leg.  It was simply a matter of Kindle feeling that "pins and needles" feeling that we all feel when our arm falls 'asleep', and begins to wake up.  In her case, it was the entire leg...the one she didn't know even existed.

It took another treatment, and some institutional medications, but we got her through that 'waking up' period.  Of course, I now had the challenge of helping her realize there weren't monsters behind her, looking to bite her butt at random.  It's not like I could explain to her what had happened.  I let Dr. Leslie do what she does best, and I worked on the psychological part.  I'm so glad I have so much experience with recovery following adversity, and I'm so thrilled I work so hard at building that into my puppies.  Without it, where would be be now?

Once she was through the major 'waking up' period, we slowly weaned her off the institutional medications, and we were back to the Chinese herb combination.

Progress has been slow, but it's been marked.  I asked Dr. Leslie if Kindle would ever be able to do agility, which was my plan for her, from very early on.  The short answer was "probably not".  I can't tell you how hard that was to hear.  I so wanted to prove this girl in both conformation, and performance, but my dream was now derailed.  But, Dr. Leslie added an "if" to her response.  If full feeling and full recovery could be achieved (and we were *so* close), and the opposite shoulder could be limbered up (from all that compensating it had done for nearly a year), there was a chance, albeit a very small chance.  Okay, that's all I needed...hope.

Kindle had also been released to work with a PT, and that would be my very good friend, Bobbie Lyons, of Pawsitive Performance in Portland, Oregon.  I met Bobbie, several years ago, when she came to my training school with her Border Collie, Stanley.  She had moved into canine conditioning and rehabilitation in the ensuing years.  I just knew she could help us, and I was right.

With Dr. Leslie's green light, we worked on PT with Bobbie.  I have been quite religious about Kindle's rehabilitation, and PT, and while it sometimes felt like two steps forward, and 1.99 steps back, progress was happening.

Yesterday was Kindle's monthly appointment with Dr. Leslie.  After all the months of treatments, and all the weeks of PT, we had a break-through.  She yelped when the acupuncture needle stimulated the nerve that had been compressed all that time.  While her leg had been slowly returning to full function, the stimulation wasn't complete...until yesterday!  While I feel horrible celebrating her pain, it means the leg is completely free of compression!!  This is what I had been dreaming of, praying for, and believing in - for months!

So, with hope, I asked the question I'd asked before - "will she be able to do agility?"  Dr. Leslie smiled and said, "I think so."

I can't tell you what that meant to me.  Yes, Kindle is "just a dog", but this little dog is my pride and joy.  She is my baby.  I love and adore her like I have only ever loved and adored one other dog, and that is my heart dog, Jet.

She still hasn't been released for the agility work, and it may be a few more months, but it's going to happen, and my baby is back to 100% sensation/reflex!  A late start in her training is far better than no start at all.  We must continue with re-training her body to use itself with balance, and we are making great progress, but the work is not done.  The nerve, however, is free!!

So, that is what happened to Kindle.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday: lung function sucks!

Not sure there is more to add...

Had my annual visit with the allergy/immunology specialist.  My lung function sucks...a little worse than last year.  Tired of the meds, tired of hearing I need to get rid of my dogs (not going to happen).  Tired of having immuno-therapy pushed on me (I had a reaction to it, so not keen on trying it again).

I keep expecting the doctor to tell me it's time for a lung transplant.  My 'normal' function is 30% of normal.  To me, that's what normal is.  I once took prednisone for an extended period of time.  I could breathe so well, I felt like I was 'high', and light-headed, in a very good way.  Those of you who can breathe normally, enjoy it.  You don't know how lucky you are.

To my respiratory impaired friends, I feel your pain, every day of my 47+ years of life.  Hang tough...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thoughtful Tuesday: weather tragedies

It has been one heck of a winter.  Very late in coming, we finally did see some snow.  Not much, but enough to make us feel that we really did live in the land of cold, and the fluffy white stuff.  It came, it stayed, and it made way for one incredibly beautiful weekend's worth of weather.  It was 60!  I felt like I'd woken up in the tropics.  For those who live in the tropics, I'm sure the utterance of a 'high of 60' makes you shiver, but for those of us in the cold north, it was warm.  I filled the pool for the dogs, and they played, and they played, and they played.  Put the pool away Sunday afternoon, and woke up to snow this morning.  All I can say is "wow!"
I really don't know what to think about the weather, all across our country.  The early tornadoes in the south really scare me for our good friends down there.  My soul sister, Sharon, lives in Kansas.  I worry about her, every time severe weather rolls through her state.  I hope to God we won't have to call her Dorothy after it passes her by.  So far, so good.

None the less, a post about the early tornadoes would not be complete without remembering those who were tragically killed in this last burst of severe weather.  I can't stop thinking about the baby, the last one of her family to survive after being thrown into a field.  Sadly, she did pass away from her injuries.  It makes me tear up, just thinking about her, and so many other who were lost.

I grew up in California: earthquake alley.  I know those who live in the midwest think earthquakes are horrible, and make no mistake, they are a serious and deadly force of nature, but they happen once in a blue moon.  Tornadoes average 1,000 per year in tornado alley.  1,000.  That's an average of almost 3 per day, every day of the year.  I don't love the idea of tornadoes, nor severe weather, and I sure didn't like the earthquakes I experienced when I lived in California, but if I had to choose, I would take the very rare earthquake to the far more frequent tornado.

Pray for those who are lost, and those who remain.  Pray for those tasked with re-building communities devastated by theses swirling devils of destruction.  They need all the prayer they can get.  God, bless them...amen.