Friday, August 26, 2016

A Month of Kirby..........

A Month has passed since a beat up, scabby, shaky dog walked through the door.  My oh my, what 30 days can do for the forlorn and downtrodden.  30 days of treats and attention you get your wag back!  

Since last posting, Kirby made it to the beach, gone for three car rides and made it onto his bed.  Although the bed seems to be more of hurdle than the beach or the car!  Clearly, he has never seen furniture before.  Two days ago I sat on the floor and sprinkled a peanut butter treat at each corner of the very expensive orthopedic dog bed, we have been walking around for a month.  He walked around to each corner, ate the treat and asked for more!  No, you need to get on the bed to get the treats!  2 treats placed in the middle of the bed and wow can this dog lean into get treats, his paws never left the floor.  I gave up and told him I'd try again tomorrow.  This guy has scabs on one hind elbow and a healing scab on a front elbow.  I'm pretty sure he spent a lot of time on concrete.  Trust me the bed is better than the floor, you're gonna love it.  

Next morning.  I get on the floor with a bag of treats and tapped on the bed with my hand.  Oh God, he dropped to his belly quivering and I got the flickering squinty eyes like he was waiting to be beat.  Well my heart turned to goo.  Here have a treat, no wait have the whole bag of treats, no wait give me a couple treats.  And while I was dolling out treats I got on the bed and talked pretty to the dog who was gobbling down treats.  Everybody calmed down, took a breath, lots of praise and then he figured out there was a full grown person on the floor playing with him and giving him treats.  In the heat of fun time he jumped on the bed, immediately jumped off the bed and dropped to the floor.  When he jumped on the bed I exploded with delight!  What a good boy!!  Yes, do it again and he did!  And I exploded, clapping and carrying on and if a dog could laugh I think he did. And if the neighbors saw me I'll be in the loony bin.  After all that we went for a long walk. 

We tried again later and with a lot of coaxing, he made it onto the bed.  As I backed away, he got off the bed.  Thats OK, we can try again later...... 

The next morning I went for my run and decided it was time for us to hit the beach.  He's a lab for pete sakes, he has to love the water.  First trick, get him in the truck!  He had not been in the truck since he arrived.  I put his life jacket on because it has a handle and I hoisted him in the truck.  He hooked his front feet under the jump seats and dug in.  I had to put him down and try again.  By the time I got 90 pounds of dog in the backseat of the truck we were both shaking and panting.  Rolled the windows down, started the truck and off we went, both breathing hard.  The beach is about 2 miles away and we made it!  I opened the door, his tail was wagging and the ears were on full alert, all good signs.  I grabbed the handle and hoisted him out.  His feet touched the sand and he froze.  Hmmmm never been in sand Kirby?  Cool, we'll just hang out until you're comfortable........ and we hung out in the parking lot for 15 minutes.  He was velcro-ed to my knees.  We spent 3 hours at the beach.  And just for the record, you can't poop in a life jacket.  He attempted twice and the third time I took the life jacket of and the relief on his face.......well you can only imagine.  Poop time over, life jacket back on.  We made it to the water.  Lake?  Wave Action?  You're kidding right..... 

We spent a good hour wading around and then I walked in a bit deeper, up to my knees.  He kept up brilliantly, it was like wearing another pair of pants!  I finally walked to where his feet no longer touched the bottom.  The life jacket held him up but he flipped over!  He was like a bobber at end of the leash. Then panic set in.  Shit was all I could say.  The last dog loved the life jacket.  While in the deep end I unbuckled him and took it off and he did great!  He knows how to swim but is not happy about swimming.  We waded back to shore and we happy danced.

Life is pretty sweet at the beach.  His third trip to the beach and he was much easier to get in the truck.  On the return trip, I said: well Kirb, lets go home.  We got to the truck and he hopped in; BY HIMSELF!!  Phew!  

We got home and we were both pretty exhausted.  When we walk in the door I always get the peanut butter treats and tell him to sit.  After 3 weeks, we walk in the door and he automatically sits, patiently waiting for a treat. He is eager to please and I'm just easy. 

Your bed awaits........

He was so tired there was no problem getting him on the bed....... 

on alert.....

but soooooo tired........

And it's sooooo cushy........

Every night I make sure he starts off on his bed.  I turn the lights out, say good night and in the morning he's on floor. 

Speaking of on the floor......... 
guess who just couldn't stay away....... 

See this floor dog?  Well it's all mine....... 

Now seriously guys, we gotta talk...... a dog?  You're keeping it?  
I just don't know what to say...... 

So can he do impersonations?
Look, I'm the Sphinx! (more like the Stinks)
You're still keep'n him? 

Hey Rufus, I got this....... 

and I'm not getting anything else done...... no pottery updates this week! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Not So Quick Up Date........

A quick catch up before I lace my shoes up and head out to wrangle the day into some sort of order...... 

The best phrase to sum up this summer: Drag and Drop (thank you Apple).  
Still hot, still humid, still trying get my underwear on in less than 30 minutes.  Seriously why isn't this an Olympic sport?  Anybody can row a canoe or take a dip in the pool but Michael Phelps until you can get a sports bra on in less than 10 minutes in 100% humidity are you really an athlete?  The judges deduct points for dropping to the floor, crying, screaming, excessive sweating, writhing on the bed, giving up and just telling everyone you're wearing a turtleneck; you just have not been in a competition because the sports bra wins.... every time!  Hey Iowa, cut the corn already, we need the corn sweats to stop!  Honestly if one more person from the midwest posts a picture of cornfields with the caption; The corn is just beautiful this year...... I'm sending them my underwear!  I have lost count of how many times I've run to the bathroom, tried to get my underwear up or down and discovered I put on tear away underpants.  Of course I should not get dressed in the dark either because I had wiggled myself into a leg hole instead of the waistband.  Half way through my morning I wondered why my underwear kept riding up to a thong on one butt cheek one........ because it was your waist hole.  I figured this out by the time the temperatures were over 90, another pair of tear aways.....  

The rain has arrived, thankfully!  The river is up, the steelhead will spawn, and the gardens will grow.... like little shop of horrors! Yikes! 

Tuesday I walked from the studio to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and make the mistake of bending over to see whats going.  4 hours later I'm headed to the kitchen with an arm load of cukes, excited I have more pumpkins than I can count and pockets full of peppers and tomatoes.  I always know it's August when I see this on the counter because I have cukes up the kazoo!  
and how cute are baby pumpkins?

Kirby has these same issues.  I have learned soooooo much in a month of Kirby!  Butch was standing in the kitchen yesterday saying he thinks Kirby can really see and is just faking it.  Kirby will sit there and watch him eat a hot dog, begging with those doggy eyes and Butch just melts.  Butch declares;  He can see me eating this hot dog, look at him!  No he smells you eating a hot dog!  I think he's faking it........ and then Kirby walks away, into his water dish.  Yep, totally faking it and you're such a guy! 

This dog!  We walk everyday, in the morning, evening and right before bed.  Everyday he grows more comfortable in this new house and neighborhood.  Everyday I ask a little more of him.  I walked  everyday before Kirby arrived but it has occurred to me how blind I had become.  This big yellow dog with the polka dot tongue has made me slow down, be patient and quietly observe.  He might not have sight but his nose makes up for his eyes!  I am realizing his world is so much bigger than I ever thought it could be.  My expectations were limited, his are not!  This week he made me look at small tiny mushrooms, caterpillars, a pile of downy goose feathers, many piles of random poop and a pink condom.   Yeah we walk in a cemetery and it made me laugh.  I thought, how interesting this is a place where we honor the end of life and yet I wondered how many lives had started in the back of this old cemetery?  It's been here over 150 years ........  I run in the cemetery I find it to be great incentive to keep going!  All this stuff has been there since before Kirby but now I am seeing it. 
He found the skunk in the middle of the night before I did!  Thanks buddy!  Really! 

He is teaching me no matter how many times you run into a wall, you eventually find the door!  
And when you find the door, wag that tail and be so happy! 

Yesterday I asked a lot of him.  I asked him to run with me.  I asked him to trust me enough to run along side, not timidly picking your way down the sidewalk but on the road.  We started with a walk, then a little faster then we dropped into a nice cadence.  He matched my steps and fell in behind me.  Early morning, the day was still cool and we had a gentle breeze.  It was perfect!  We got to the big open field and took him off the leash to explore.  I could hear and see a huge flock of geese that had spent the night in the field.  They seem unflustered when we arrived.  Kirby didn't seem to care either.  Then the wind shifted and he got a snoot full of goose.  The tail went up, the nose hit the air, the ears perked up, and he was on red alert.  The honking did nothing for him but the scent!  Very methodically he worked the field.  The geese never took off but just kept moving and honking.  He never broke into a run because that would be crazy!  But the tail was on full wag!  It was amazing to watch and I loved it, he loved it!  The heat was building and I decided it was time to head for home.   He will not jog with me in the grass but prefers pavement.  He dropped into a nice rhythm.  The last 200 yards we walked to cool down.  He was spent.  He slept the rest of the day. 
He's still getting used to new things.  Bed: $50, Floor free......

 I am excited to be back in the studio these days.  I'm loving all the carving these warm summer days.  And high fire porcelain has won my heart too. 

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
W.B. Yeats

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Dog Days of Summer.......

Here in Ohio we have entered the 8th month of the year; the month I wish we would just skip.  I love that my Anglo Saxon ancestors called it; Weod Monath or better know as Weed Month.  It's the month when you know summer is over.  The yellow fuzz ball geese bobbing along on the river a few short months ago are eating everything in sight to gain the strength to start the journey south.  Butterflies are very busy; I have not seen one Monarch butterfly this summer.  Many swallowtails and admirals but no Monarchs, pay attention humans and put that bottle of RoundUp down.  The yellow jackets have turned evil and I usually need to duck and cover at least once while walking to the studio.  The cicadas, also known as space invaders, are singing madly this month. Spiders are on the move too.  There are so many spiders in the downstairs bathroom it feels more like an outhouse.  Every morning I scoop them into a cup and return them to the garden.   Too sum it up, stuff is moving. 

In lieu of the early summer drought and now torrential rains. In the heat and humidity the plants are waking up, although things are looking pretty stressed; hell, I look pretty stressed.  I have delayed firing glaze kilns as our night temps are almost 80 with very little breeze and humidity lingers and builds through the night to 90-100% by morning.  Not so great for computerized kilns, even with a fan blowing on the components.   

As for the true dog of August, Kirby. He is doing great!  We are still figuring out these thunderstorms and as they are hitting daily and we are figuring this out as fast as possible!  

Yesterday a storm hit out of nowhere and he decided to hide behind the buckets in the studio.  The pacing and panting started.  


He hates the crate.  It's akin to caging an angry bear. The ace bandage trick worked pretty well except he is a 90 pound guy and even the biggest ace bandage only works for a while before he wiggles out.  I read reviews on the Thundervest and thought that would be a good investment.  I remembered I had the life jacket from our other 90 pound pup, Zeus. Zeus loved his life jacket!  It's practically brand-new, has a handle on the back, and I can tighten it down pretty good to make Kirby feel snug.  Perfect!  I dug it out of the rubbermaid in the shed and let Kirby smell it and see what he thought.  Seemed ok.  


Well I thought he was relaxed...... the next storm hit about three hours later and it was packed with 50 mph winds, power outages, thunder, lightening and full on Ohio summer storm.  

I ran for the life jacket, the way the rain was coming down I thought I should get mine too! 
I strapped him and he stood frozen.  No pacing, lots of panting and stress but not the usual hiding under tiny chairs, knocking over pedestals and vibrating.  
I sat on the floor with him and tried to get him to sit down.  

Holy shit he couldn't sit down because I had velcro-ed his boy junk in the life jacket!  Sorry buddy and ripped the vest off.  He stopped walking on his tip toes and took a breath.  

Made it through that one and got ready for another round of storms coming in.  I gave him 30 milligrams of melatonin (thank you Brenda!!)  It took about 30 minutes to kick in.  The first lightening bolt hit about 20 minutes in.  So I carefully put the life vest on him, avoiding the boy junk and it helped! 

Still hiding but finally found a safe place and laid down, somewhat weathering the storm.

I'm not getting too much done as we figure this out but it's August and it's the dog days and I have spiders to wrangle and glaze calculations to revise...... 

Hurry up September........ 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Future is Clear and Bright........

Oh how a life can change in 10 days since my last post.  Life has been pretty full, in fact there were days I would call it overflowing.  I am learning, Kirby is learning....... yes, I changed his name; either that or buy a zig zag brown shirt, a red baron hat and a friend called Linus.  He responds to Kirby and eats everything off the floor so it seemed to fit.  Just like he fits in this old house, we three call home, and an occasional interloper called, Rufus. 

I am now jumping out of bed at 5:30 a.m. grabbing a leash and waiting for me is this face.  We have our customary 30 second meet and greet, then hit the backyard, tree lawn and navigate up the driveway to the house for breakfast.  Kirby eats while I make coffee.  

Food and treats have taken a couple days to figure out.  The kibble sent home with him was too big.  He had had three teeth extracted from his run in with the Akita and I think the big stuff was just tough to eat.  Luckily they make the same stuff in small bites and I added 1/3 can of something called tender chunks that make me want to blow chunks but it was the ticket, it stayed down and he was happy!  Tail wags all around.  Phew!  Entering the realm of treats, who knew there would be an aisle, yes and aisle of treats........ I stepped away when I read a bag called; Better Than Pig Ears.  Pass on that "treat" and bought 5 others.  I ran home and opened package after package.  4 brands where taken excitedly, rolled around the discerning pallet and spit on the floor; Nope.  The last package which I thought for sure would be a dud; Hollywood Stars, peanut butter treats for dogs, $1.99 for a package (the cheapest treat on the shelf)  4 paws up and a full drool bar of success!  I went back and bought 3 more bags.   

After several days of sleeping, experiencing our first thunderstorm in this summer of drought, hanging out,  just getting to know each other, it hit me I had work to do.  Oh and on that thunderstorm..... he cleared the back room, flipping a table full of potted plants, a couple pedestals with old pots I didn't mind loosing, disconnected the printer when he crawled under the desk; it was nothing short of experiencing a tornado inside your house.  The backfire of a car or a neighborhood kid with firecrackers will send him to the moon.  The back room is now decorated in early American dog.  I went back to the APL and purchased a crate, then off to buy a cushy orthopedic dog bed and more treats.  The ace bandage sits above the crate (works like the thunder vest) and I have a bottle of melatonin at the ready.  Installed the window air conditioner.  Survival gear and if all hope is abandoned, the crate for me!  Noises he likes: motorcycles, vacuums and big trucks....... he obviously has history. 

Ok back to work.  I put the leash on him after three days and walked him out to the studio.  I opened the door, he backed away and dropped to his belly shaking.  OK, not today.  I had asked so much of this dog in three days I was not pushing the studio.  We walked back to the house, I opened the door and for the first time he walked across the threshold without being coaxed and laid on the floor.  It was enough and he knew this was a safe place.  I stroked his head, told him how great he was, he passed out and I went to the studio to work.  We did this for 4 days....... the fourth day, with a lot of coaxing, he put one paw in the studio, then the second paw. I cheered, handed out treats but the back end was just not coming in.  I put a pile of treats of the floor as he gobbled them up I hoisted the back end of this 90 pound tank into the studio.  I took the leash off, he turned around and realized the door had closed.  I waited for the tornado but instead he very carefully paced.  I turned up the radio, thank the heavens above he likes NPR, and set about my studio routine.  He checked out every corner, under every table, he liked the hum of my old Shimpo wheel but never sat down for three hours.  He paced and panted.  I finally thought this was enough and picked up the leash.  When he heard the leash, he danced!  We went for a toot around the yard and back to his safe place and a treat.  Phew...... but he had made it to the studio!  The next day, same routine, however after 30 minutes I looked over my shoulder and saw this: 

I had a bed and blankets on the floor but he decided on dirty concrete..... and how happy am I that I work in porcelain and white stoneware!  Life's little wonders..... or I would have gotten a brown dog :)

He does well with routine, as do I and there has been a cadence to my day again.  

My morning view also includes this guy....... the romance is going very slow but he is coming around. 

Hey, whadda ya do'in?

This is gross...... who eats this stuff? 

We can visit from the safety of your window ....... for now.

Kirby has had his nose swiped once but not been deterred and Rufus really needs a snuggle along with his ears and butt scratched everyday so eventually they will figure it out.  I anticipate once the days grow short and cold and the wood stove is fired up, we will see d├ętente and the cold war will ease. 

I never thought this blind dog would join me on the long walks and hikes I love so much but to my amazement he will.  In 10 days he has made one entire lap around the cemetery, 1 mile.  Wild cheering on my part!  He seems to want to go, his energy level and smell expectations are grand!  We have walked to the corner of the street.  Other dogs freak him out a bit as does the traffic on the road.... me too so we will find quiet places to hike.  Kirby likes to go to the same destinations and each time it is easier for him.  He is not of fan of walking at night and tends to walk to the street lights, so he can see some light.  He bumps into things ..... a lot.  I have learned when he bumps into me I should not jump out of his way but let him because that is how he is building self confidence and getting his bearings.  A short leash is a great tool too.  We both could use a helmet as we wander through life and boy we both have our bumps and bruises from finding out way...... 
Nice to have a buddy to find it together.  He has fit into this old potters life seamlessly.  

Next week we tackle porcelain teapots and car rides ...... 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Two Eyes Blind and the View is Beautiful

As many know I have been hunting around for a studio buddy for a while now.  Butch swears there is a mark on the curb and random creatures just show up looking for the sucker who lives here.   After leaving Lakeland a few months back I looked up a very full moon and announced; Well if you want to send something, now would be a pretty good time.  I waited, another month passed and nothing showed up.  So I thought I would take a teensy little look at a couple of my favorite adoption sites.  Nope, nothing screamed: Hey, I'm looking at you, come get me!  Until two days ago.  
Not even sure why I went to the site I did as I had never been on the APL site before.

  I scrolled down the page and there at the bottom I saw this face.

I carefully read his bio and thought hmmmm, can I handle this but then it said partially blind so I called and talked to one of the kennel workers.  Got all the preliminaries and then she came on the line and said; Someone is looking at him check the website in the morning if his picture is still up he is still available.
I thought well if it's meant to be he will be there.  

I didn't sleep much, got up the next morning and checked the APL site, he was still there.  I went for a 4 mile jog/walk and cleared my head.  I really wanted a fishing buddy, jogging buddy, studio buddy, walking buddy and wondered just how partially blind he was.  I showered, thought some more, jumped in my truck and made the trek to Cleveland.  Through the Republican National Convention insanity, wondering if there were any cops left anywhere else in the US as they were all in Cleveland.  I wound my way through the streets of Cleveland and found Wiley Ave. and the APL.  The place was hop'n, not a parking space left!  I thought for sure this dog would be gone but he wasn't. 

I asked to see him, filled out a bit of paperwork and then I was escorted to see "Snoopy".  He was calm, in a cacophony of barking dogs.  Big, little, medium mutts, round about town mutts, puppies and more than I could count but it was deafening.  All crying out for attention and little love.   I pressed my hand to the kennel and he pressed back with his nose.  Yup, I want to see him.  A very nice kennel worker said: She wants to see the blind the dog to two other woman working at the desk.  I got a quick once over and a smile.  All three said; He is so sweet and gentle.  The kennel worker got him on the leash and we were going to take him outside but he could not see the pipe running across the kennel floor and he sure did not want to leave the kennel.  I immediately became aware of just how blind Snoopy was, like a bat!  We coaxed him out ever so gently and tried to get him through the front door.  So careful with every step, feeling his way out of the kennel and into sunlight.  On shaky legs and squinty eyes he felt the sun on his face and smelled the petunias growing at the entrance of the APL....... he watered one.  He never got comfortable so we decided to take him back in.  As we approached the front door I said;  I'll take him.  He was going to be a project but everything we had asked him to do he did, to the point of shaking so badly he had a hard time standing.  Yes, this is a dog I can work with and who will give his all.  As we approached his kennel, his neighbor Franky, an older beagle mix who looked to be on the lamb a bit too long, barked incessantly.  But I noticed Snoopy calmed as he heard Frankie and as we got closer to the kennel.  He entered with no problem, collapsed on the floor and fell asleep.  Snoop's big day out! 

We went out to the desk to fill out the appropriate paper work and pay the bill.  I got his medical records stating he had been in a horrible dog fight with an Akita, apparently lost the fight and the owner couldn't pay for his needed surgeries so was turned over to the APL.  They patched him up, neutered him, caught him up on all his vaccinations, heart worm and kennel shots and gave him a safe place.  All this for $95.00 plus the cost of a license; $27.50.  They asked for my drivers license and typed up the information.  She looked down and said; So you're over 60?  Yes, but let's not talk about that and you just had a birthday?  Yes, but let's not talk about that either.  Well we have a sponsor who is going to pay for half your adoption fee.  I felt like I won the lottery and almost said; Great,  
I'll take one more!!  But I stopped myself, knowing I had project in front of me. 

All paperwork complete, an announcement was made over the loud speaker; SNOOPY, OUR BLIND DOG IS GOING TO HIS FOREVER HOME AND IF YOU WANT TO SAY GOODBYE COME TO THE FRONT.  A host workers came up to say goodbye and see who is adopting this great dog.  I hoped I passed muster.  We had our picture taken and we walked out the front door.  While the super nice kennel worker (and I do wish I could remember her name!) Held Snoopy while I dashed for my truck.  I arrived curbside and thought I would just pick him up and put him in the backseat.  First time I bent down and realized Snoopy is a tank!  I couldn't lift him!  Heather, another kennel assistant came out, hoisted him in the truck and we were off to a new home and a new adventure. 

The hour drive home was stressful, on Snoopy and me.  I drove with one hand on the wheel, my other hand behind seat on Snoop's head or chest or back.  He was terrified.  I kept telling him what a great dog he was and we were almost there.  And then we finally got there...... longest ride ever.  I opened the back door of the truck and he heard the waterfall in the pond.   Of course I thought, he's a retriever!  
I very gently eased him out of the truck and onto the driveway.  He made a bee line to the pond and the smells, oh the smells.  There was furious tail wagging, and then grass, so much grass.  He pee'd, he pooped and he wagged some more.  He was so happy!  He found the chicken coop but where were the chickens?  He found the groundhog hole but where was the ground hog?  He found the skunks hidey hole but where was the skunk?  I prayed the skunk would stay in his hidey hole and didn't show up anytime soon.  One by one, Rufus appeared and then Ralphie.  They were shocked!  I assured everyone we would all get along and Snoopy just loved cats but they were not buying it and and retreated behind the big maple tree.  Both peering out from the safety of the maple as we made our way back to the house.  
So much coaxing to get him in the house, we made it.  I got him a big bowl of water and he drank like a camel coming off the Sahara.  I took the leash off and he started the methodical survey of every nook and cranny in the back room.  He never knocked anything over, he was ever so careful and so very slowly put one paw out in front, feeling his way around the perimeter of the room.  Once he got his bearings he started to pace.  Rufus glared through the back door.  I went out the door and picked up Rufus, got a nuzzle and then he scramble to get down.  Rufus stood by my feet and watched the big dog in his back room.  Disgusted he walked away.  Oh I am sure he will be back.

For three hours he paced, never sitting, or laying just constantly on the move.  I made coffee and watched.  Shortly around 5 pm he collapsed on the floor.  His head erect, his eyes closed, simply exhausted.  Finally the head went down.  I sat down..... what a day. 

Last night I walked him around the yard.  He walked in the back room, freely and no coaxing this time.  I turned out the lights, kissed him goodnight and promised to see him in the morning.
This morning, at 5:30 am.  I turned the light on to check on him, walked down the two stairs that are his Berlin Wall and he stirred.  I said good morning so quietly.  He got up, never opening his eyes, laid his head on my knees and snuggled in with the biggest smile of contentment a dog could have.  You're home buddy, you're home.  We are gonna be great together,