Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 is off and running...

Caleb has gladly returned to his therapy work. We went to St. David's Rehab Center on December 20 and Christmas Eve, and he was so happy it seemed his feet were barely touching the ground. True the patients were happy to see him, but the staff response was especially nice. The staff become attached to some of the therapy dogs, and it was clear that they had missed Caleb during his year off. This past Sunday, we went to the Austin State Hospital Acute Unit. What a treat to behold. Caleb was thrilled to be back, and he reclined in the grassy lawn area while the patients came up to talk and pet him. It was a wonderful experience and reminded me why this work is so meaningful. One of the patients asked me if she could purchase Caleb from me. Trying to be gentle, I said he was family and asked her if she would sell a member of her family. She quickly responded "yes!" I had to backtrack a bit and explain to her that Caleb and I are family and meant to be together. While she understood, she made it clear she was going to ask again. I assured her the answer would be the same, but it's always fine to ask. As soon as the schedule is finalized, we will begin visiting a private school in Austin that serves students with dyslexia. Caleb loves it when students read to him, therefore, I've a positive feeling about this new-to-us site.

Iris continues to run the household as if there is much to do. It is comical to watch her direct Caleb (138 pounds) and Micah (50 pounds). She is clearly the queen of the pack. Over the holidays, she snapped at 2 of my grandsons. True, they caught her off guard and, as trainers would say, invaded her space. However, as everyone knows, my grandsons are at the top of my list. I will work with them to teach them about dog behaviors but until that is solid information for them, she will be in another room when they visit. I'm sure the boys will pick up quickly--after all, I think that they understand dogs need their space just as humans need theirs. Logan spent numerous hours in my red chair reading to Iris and watching television with her. I can imagine how happy he will be to do that again.

Micah, my 10 month old Border Collie, continues to be a blessing. He is incredibly calm for a BC yet he also possesses a unique gentleness. Late last week, he was romping in the back yard and broke one of the toes on his right rear foot. Luckily, it was a middle toe and should heal easily. For now, he is in a splint wrapped with bandages. Being a BC, he wants to be busy, and he dismantled the first splint/wrapping after he figured out how to remove the e-collar from his neck. We returned to the vet today, he was rewrapped and, on the way home, I purchased an inflatable e-collar. Hopefully, this will prevent his pulling at the wrap. More x-rays in 2 weeks for Dr. B to check his progress. We will have to be utilizing a lot of mind-working puzzles for the next two weeks. He can't run loose but wants to be busy. I'll be working with him closely in order to keep him happy and challenged!

Jenny and I met for breakfast on Sunday. It was terrific to have time to catch up now that she is back in school after the holiday break. She loves her work and it shows. And that smile of hers seems that it should be declared an alternative source of energy! Combining her company with Julio's food made it a very special day.

A dear friend of mine has been living in Australia for the last couple of years. It is with an open heart that I welcome her back to Austin. Caleb was so happy to see her last week. I can't remember the last time I saw him wiggle that much! Thank you, Jyl! We're glad to have you close again.

I was fortunate to have lunch today with a special friend. It is always so grounding to spend time with someone who understands life's stages and what it's like to have your children become adults. The fact that we share passionate love for working with dogs makes it even better. Susan, you made everything better!

I'm beginning to look for spring. The larkspur and poppies are beginning to pop through already. I'll post photos if they turn out anything like they did last year. I also have plans to rebuild/redesign my front entry walkway. At least I know I'll get plenty of exercise! It is an absolute joy to have my health back, and I'm ever grateful.

I hope all is well in your world. Thanks for checking in. Be well.

If you live the questions, life will move you into the answers. 
--Deepak Chopra

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another few steps

We did it. Caleb and I worked through his Canine Good Citizen renewal evaluation yesterday, and he aced it. Watching him was a treat for me. He has always done well in evals, but there was a clear difference this time. Another year of maturity and the closeness of our bond have contributed, I'm sure. After safeguarding me through my time of illness, our connection is definitely more complex. The important thing to me was the confirmation that Caleb thrives on our working together, and we enjoy what we do. Just being out at the training center and seeing Paul made Caleb so happy--I can only imagine what he will do next time he sees Jyl! Caleb's coat has grown out from the summer cut, and this fall weather has certainly recharged his battery. It is fun to walk the pups this time of year--especially Micah. He seems to become an alternative source of energy when there is a chill in the air. When he is in one of his goofy moods, it's impossible to keep from smiling! And Iris--who can be around that little character and not smile?

And speaking of characters--Jonah Mark Hughes! He is quite the bright light in Amanda and James' lives, and the rest of us treasure him as well. From what I can tell, he has one speed, and that is fast forward. They made a surprise visit a few Sundays ago, and here is a good shot of Jonah and me at Shady Grove.

The cooler weather has been a welcome change. I've been spending more time in my quilting studio and have actually completed one of my projects. I have sketches and ideas for the next one, and I hope to begin that today. We hardly have what most people would even consider winter, but I'm grateful for the climate change in order to focus on my quilting. Perhaps because I'm accustomed to such intense heat here, I don't enjoy gardening when the ground begins to chill. I do, however, need to scatter the poppy and larkspur seeds this week. The neighbors will be looking for those in early spring. And it's heartwarming to watch people, whether I know them or not, slow down, smile and simply enjoy the flowers.

Step by step, routine is setting in, and my health is stabilizing. Many special people, family and friends, walked with me through all of the confusion and change. Lots to be thankful for in life!

Thanks for checking in. Be well.

You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won't happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.' — Joel Osteen

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Going forward...

This past year has been eventful in many ways--some good, some challenging. The important thing is that I've made it through the obstacles and am beginning to see much more than just the light at the end of the tunnel. Health problems, even if temporary, are frustrating, but they became increasingly more so due to living alone. As always, if one perserveres, everything works out. Sometimes it can feel as if things move in slow motion. The best part of where I am now is that I'm on minimal seizure medication and have no restrictions on my activities. True, the meds slow me down a bit, but things are continuing as they should. Some of this I've written about before, but this process has been confusing and erratic, and writing about it has helped me sort through where I've been and what is ahead.

One of the most unsettling things of my being ill was the change in Caleb. He seemed to have transformed himself into a filter deciding what was best for me. Even long-known neighborhood dogs were not welcome for a few months. Trust me, when he would curl his lip and stand erect when a dog went by, those dogs quickly decided to use someone else's yard to meet their needs. Now that I'm back on my feet and alert, Caleb seems to have slipped back into his previous role. We go for walks and he saunters as if nothing had ever changed. I took him with me to Home Depot the other day, and all of the regular employees were glad to see him, and Caleb was just as happy to see them. I don't expect everyone to understand my connection with my pups, but I do hope that those close to me realize that the dogs bring me support and comfort in helpful ways. Now that Caleb has returned to his usual ways and I'm back on my feet, he will be re-certified for his therapy work, and that will benefit both of us. There is no way to describe how we feel after a visit to one of the facilities--both of us are always tired, quiet and know we've made a difference.

I was officially retired as of February 1, 2012, but, as I've written before, I left the university December 23, 2011 due to illness. Leaving the university was confusing. While I had many things to joyfully anticipate--time with my grandsons and my daughters, gardening, quilting, dog therapy work--the department had become my home away from home providing many friends. There were major life changes in my personal life over the years I worked at the department, and my colleagues/friends walked right beside me through those events. Of course, the most life-changing was Mark's passing in 2004. I honestly believe that those people know how much their love and support carried me through that time. The hardest part about retiring was knowing I wouldn't see many of those people on a regular basis. There is a small group that stays in touch, and I suspect we always will. My point for writing about this is that I've come to understand that we are given many people in our lives. Even though we may have extremely close, family-like relationships, we aren't necessarily meant to remain that way forever. Sometimes we are gifted with special connections for specific purposes. I've learned to trust God and understand that we have to move forward, and that can often mean letting go. Trust me, I savor the friends and the closeness we shared. Sometimes, that simply has to be enough.

We had a family Thanksgiving here at my house. It warmed my heart to watch Logan play with the little ones. He went to the garden shed to gather his own gardening tools to share with his little cousin, Jonah and little brother Spencer. It was also nice to watch him teach the boys how to feed the goldfish that live in the livestock tanks in the back yard. Most important to me was the realization that Logan felt at home and knew his way around. I absolutely love spending time with the boys, and it makes me smile to think of how many things Logan and I have done together. Also, he always waters the plants when he is here. When I asked him about it, he said, "Lulu, it's just what I do." And then he gave me a smile.

My Border Collie pup, Micah, is a sweetheart. As typical with BCs, he's incredibly bright, but this little guy has a sensitivity that is most welcome, and he is always at my side. BCs are known for being driven and focused. That turned out to be a major challenge for me when it came down to convincing Micah that the squirrels don't live in the back yard for his entertainment! He caught two of them, used them for playmates, and the end results were not good for the squirrels. In addition, he was also stripping the bark off of the huge pecan tree in hopes of scaling it to nab the little furballs.  So, I sought the advice of his breeder--after all, this wonderful, loving woman lives and breathes BCs. Following her advice, I purchased a vibrator collar with remote control. After a couple of days of being buzzed (thankfully, I didn't have to advance to shocking him), he decided that squirrels were fine to look at but that it was best not to chase them. There is no special place in my heart for squirrels, but they are living creatures, and I just couldn't watch them being tortured even if it was unintentional. I  must admit, however, that I smiled watching him play with them with such free and absolute joy--he was just doing what dogs do, and I'm glad he had the experience of having so much fun.

Step by step, I suspect I'll find my way. Thank you for taking time to check in.
Be well.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
--Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Unexpected surprises!

Another new day full of surprises. Last Saturday, I accepted a foster pup for our pyr rescue group. It seemed that it was my turn and this baby girl is quite special. She is sweet, gentle, spunky, alert and responds to direction very well--all of this at 7 weeks of age. I enjoy communicating with my fellow group members and this work helps keep perspective in my life. I'm thankful that the litter was found and that we are on the path of rehoming them. Here comes the real reason I decided to write today.

The first adoption application on my foster girl came from someone I've known since the late 90's, and this person did not know that the pup is in my care. This extraordinary young woman, I'll call her DM, was a grad student in the program I administered at the university. DM is kind, compassionate and I remember watching her engage affectionately with my family's pyrs. Our rescue group prefers to stay with in-state adoptions except in special circumstances, and I can easily say that this is an extremely special circumstance! In fact, I stated that if an unforeseen situation arose where I had to relinquish one of my own pups, I know that they would be safe in DM's home. As my rescue friend and I discussed, this is a small world! Glad I was behaving myself this time!

Over the past year, I've had some challenging situations and life events. I've written about them openly in this blog even though, at times, I felt like I had mostly sad or difficult information to share or write about. It made me so happy to be able to share this uplifting story with you all. What are the chances of our paths crossing like this? Even though it has, at times, been sporadic, I'm proud of the pyr rescue work I've done, and those activities have brought numerous good people into my life. Easily, I can say the same about the therapy work I do with my Caleb. He is the essence of pure love...

Occasionally, I sense that some people in my life roll their eyes when it comes to my dogs' roles in my life. Until fairly recently, that bothered me. Now, it doesn't concern me at all. I can say with certainty that Mark's beautiful smile is ongoing as he watches me trudge through life with my pups at my side. Many times over my 61 years of life, dogs have helped me stay the course. They have provided an energy and unconditional affection that kept me going and reminded me of God's strength and love.

I hope all is well for you. Thank you for reading.
Be well,

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.    - Milan Kundera

Monday, November 5, 2012

Over 10 months since my last posting. How is it that time seems to simply evaporate?

Major life changes occurred on December 23, 2011. Apparently, I was affected by partial seizures--the kind that cause you to black out--and those seizures went on for about 24 hours before my grandson, Jonah, playfully called my cell phone. After a couple of minutes of nonsensical conversation, Amanda called EMS. Following 8 days in Intermediate Care at Seton, I was permitted one night in a regular room before being released. Luckily, I survived and have returned to good health. Over the past 10 months, life has been confusing and frustrating. The doctors had to adjust medications, run tests, adjust medications, run more tests...you get the drift.  As far as they can tell, some prescribed antidepressants triggered brainwave activity resulting in a diagnosis of epilepsy. I didn't realize how often this type of situation occurs, but I'm confident in my doctors and the care I've received. Fortunately, life has almost returned to normal--I'm driving again and am on a minimal dose of a single medication for the epilepsy. My energy is lower than it used to be, but that is likely due to the medication. I've also learned that naps are good! : )

Due to the severity of my health situation, I did not return to UT after the holidays. I wrapped up January with sick leave and officially retired on February 1. Since a good bit of this year has been spent getting my health back on track, I've not taken on any significant projects. Caleb and I have taken a sabbatical from therapy work. All of our Divine Canine friends have been terrific, and they are ready to see us back in the saddle again. There was a DC barbecue yesterday, and, even though I was tired afterward, it was a much-needed reminder of how much the dog therapy work means to me. Plus this work has given me many new friends and ways to make a difference for others. After talking to our trainer, I'm expecting that we'll work through the annual renewal test and hit the circuit again in the next month or so.

Early this spring, Asher left to go to a place in the country where he could run and play like a Catahoula should. He was extremely traumatized by my illness, and his anxiety was apparent in so many ways and that was simply not fair to him. It was important to let him be somewhere without worries or cares...it was so hard to say goodbye, but that's what we do in rescue work.

In June, a Border Collie baby joined my pack. Micah came from a loving home in Belton, Texas. I'll include a photo because I don't know how to truly describe his beauty. Micah is a sweet, kind and loving boy, and he is extremely laid back for a BC. He has one green eye while the other is swirled green and blue. We have already completed the puppy class at The Center for Canine Training and Behavior.  I agree with Paul's recommendation that we consider Treiball and/or Agility for his next direction in training. I'll be surprised if he doesn't end up in therapy work because of his unusual demeanor, but I want him to be a puppy first. I believe it is important for all dogs to have the time to romp, play, learn and understand what a loving existence can be for them. So, perhaps we will enroll him in therapy work, but that will be after he has his time to be a puppy. And I know Lee would approve!

Iris continues to run the household as always. Since my illness, she prefers to stay as close as possible to me. As I write this, I'm sitting in my red leather chair with Iris affixed to my right thigh! Not long ago, a friend of mine told me that "Iris is not a dog." I must say that I understand his logic. Angels must come in all shapes and sizes in my world.

There is always so much to share. Thank you for caring enough to keep up with my pack and me.
Be well.

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. -C.S. Lewis

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holidays are upon us...

Jen and Brian are officially engaged! Theirs is such a sweet love story, and I'm elated for them. The wedding will be on August 4 at a terrific place on the San Gabriel River. Jen and I have made some dress hunting forays, and it seems that she is close to a decision. Just a glance of a photo of those two together will prove that they are meant to be...period. Welcome to the family Brian!

As we all know the holidays are almost here. Can't wait to share Christmas with my adorable grandsons, and I'm quite excited that I'll see Jen and Brian on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! We've already discussed what activities we'll do--maybe walk Town Lake, definitely go to 34th Street to check out the lights, eat chili, maybe watch a movie--who knows, but I'm certain it will be fun and we'll have lots to smile about. Kate, Joe, Logan and Spencer will join us after naps on Christmas Day. There will be family time, opening gifts and sharing Christmas dinner.  Hopefully, we'll see Amanda, James and Jonah a few weeks after Christmas, but gosh, we will miss them until then.

Today is the last day of 2011 for UT employees as the university will close down until January 3. I'm looking forward to time off for rest and recreation. Asher and I have plans to walk the lake each day, and we'll also work on tricks that he has been learning. Caleb Lee and I will go to St. David's Rehab Hospital on Thursday, and, as always, both of us will leave there feeling richer than when we arrived.  And Caleb will have Canine Good Citizen recertification on January 8. Having the holiday break, we'll be able to brush up on the required test commands. I'm sure he'll pass with flying colors.

Oh, and speaking of the university--when I return on January 3, I will have 20 working days until I retire! Nice, eh? I'm looking forward to rest, my own schedule, time to truly garden and enough hours to actually do some in-depth training with Asher. A close friend (and my hair stylist), Eric, has been encouraging me to get a few chickens. Quite a few of my friends have them, and, aside from the initial setup, they are fairly low maintenance, affectionately interactive and give great eggs.  I've been interested in them for awhile now, but I'll have to think about that some more. Everyone who really knows me understands that I can never have too many animals around!

A bittersweet change--Moxie Lou has gone to her new family. Fostering rescues is incredibly rewarding, but it is understandable when love and affection grow between the rescued dog and the foster parent. I love Moxie Lou, and it was hard to let her go, yet it makes my heart sing with joy when I see her with her new mom, Mindy. They are a match meant to be!  Thank you, Mindy, for opening your life to Moxie.

Last night, I had a phone conversation with a long-time friend. Did you notice I didn't say "old" friend? : )  Fact is we've been friends since we were about 14 years old. It is such a blessing to have people in one's life that are consistent, supportive and loving, and this dear man is all of those and more. He understands me in a special way, and, when we connect after not being in touch for awhile, we simply pick up where we left off. It's very comfortable. We must have talked for over an hour--about our kids, grandchildren, our dogs, our high school years, Mark, retirement and much more. It's a stretch for both of us to believe we're actually old enough to have all of this life experience and additional generations! I didn't realize that I was a bit down before we talked, but I certainly noticed that I was in a great mood after. Thank you, Bobby!

2012 is looking like it will be a good year...let's see how it goes.

Be well,

A true friend is the best possession.
 Benjamin Franklin

Friday, October 7, 2011

Catching up

I had lunch with a special friend yesterday, and she asked me if I had been writing in my blog. With a look of surprise, I told her I hadn't even thought about it! This has been an eventful summer, and it's past time that I make note of it.

First of all, sadness with gratitude. My beloved sister-in-law, Lana Lutringer, passed away July 30 from ovarian cancer. We had an incredibly close relationship over many years.  Often we would joke about how close we were and how we seemed to have our own language--after all, being married to one of the Lutringer men takes a special sort of understanding, right? We loved each other dearly, and her passing left such a big open space in my heart. I am thankful, however, for the closeness we shared. Gosh, I can't begin to count the times we shared laughter, tears, elation, sadness and every other emotion you can imagine. We kept each others secrets and always shared a tender affection. Thank you, Lana, for being a sister, friend, confidant and pal to me. You always had my back and supported me through the most painful and happy times of my life. I love you. Godspeed, dear one.

Then comes work...two positions were eliminated in the Dept of Theatre and Dance--mine and the Grad Program Coordinator. It was a complete shock to many of us, but there was no choice but to face it. Since ending my employment in July as originally planned by the chair of the dept would be only 6 months prior to my eligibility for full retirement, one of the assistant deans stepped in and offered the same position in her office through January. Therefore, as of February 1, I will be retired!  While I have been looking forward to eventual retirement, having my position eliminated due to budget cuts and reorganization seemed completely surreal. Now that I've had some time to process (along with 7 weeks off), I'm getting closer to actual joy and celebration. Since I'd been with the dept for over 17 years, I've had a lot of support, numerous lunch invitations, visits, and loving care from many friends and colleagues. Michael and Adam were right there for me the instant the news was out. They were angry at the treatment I received, supportive, loving and ready to fight for me. Wow, little did I know when I first met them as students in the mid-90's that they would be permanent presences in my life. Blessings tenfold! Also, Jen and Amanda understood my confusion and how I felt suddenly uprooted. They called me often, and Jen treated me to Harry Potter! Now I'm looking at this shift as an opportunity for me--I honestly believe that a door has been opened and it's up to me to bravely step through it. And I'll have lots of time to spend with my grandsons and work with the pups in various ways.

And speaking of grandsons...this is a snapshot of my youngest, Jonah Mark Hughes. He turned one year old in June! Special, yes? He is one very busy little boy! It is an understatement to say that Jonah has a terrific mom. As Michael mentioned one day, Amanda is an inspiration to many. She has built, step by step, a healthy life and cares for her amazing son with grace and determination. What a girl!

Caleb continues to thrive in the Divine Canine therapy work. Since I last wrote, we have made visits to Fort Hood (to visit with injured and PTSD soldiers). In fact, his photo was used in the intro of an article about Divine Canines' Fort Hood work in Haute Dog Magazine! We also made numerous visits to St. David's Rehab Hospital, the Children's Shelter and the Acute Unit at Austin State Hospital. It is heartwarming to witness the impact Caleb has on the patients and staff at these places. When his Divine Canine vest comes out in preparation for a visit, Caleb immediately shifts to a focused demeanor and posture. I'll get a newer photo up soon so you can see how beautiful he is at 123 pounds. He loves his work! I'm so grateful to God for Caleb Lee's presence in my life.

In addition to the fulfillment the Divine Canine work brings to Caleb and me, some wonderful, positive people have entered my life. Our friendships feel as if we've known each other for many years, and we are quite protective and affectionate toward one another's dogs. I've learned a lot from each of them, and I treasure the time we share. One of the more comical ones, Alice, stated that the adventures she and I share should be considered for a reality show! She's likely right on the mark with that one! We laugh and laugh and laugh--good medicine!

Iris is still the princess of the house--if you don't believe me, just ask her! She had some corrective surgery this summer, and it has helped immensely. She is no longer plagued by the recurring infections and seems to have even more energy to boss the boy dogs! They always give in to her, and it is comical to watch!

Asher and I are in two classes at this time. One of them is fieldwork which is about distance control and following commands while away and/or off leash from me. Last Saturday, we did air scenting. The trainer covered Asher's eyes while I hid in the woods, then she would send him to find me. To say he had fun would be an understatement! The pure joy in his face when he would locate me--so happy! The other class is a foundations class with focus on agility. We're having a good time in that one, too, and he is a favorite of the instructors. He's just so expressive that it's hard not to smile when he looks at you! Both classes offer the two of us an avenue for regular physical activity and terrific interactions with nice people. When Greg (my vet) told me I hit the jackpot with Asher, I wasn't sure what he meant. Now I know. That pup is like a fullback--solid muscle, endurance and determination. I've not had a Catahoula Leopard dog before, and it has been fascinating to learn about them. I'm, indeed, fortunate. The good Lord has blessed me with 3 very different pups that fill different needs in my life. How could I be so lucky?

Right now, I also have a foster girl, Moxie, staying with me. She is a Great Pyrenees mix that was dumped by her family. Neighbors had been seeing her around a neighborhood for a few weeks, and they were finally able to coax her in, and I was contacted because I'm known for working with pyrs. Happily, I went to get her and brought her in to our home. Poor girl is heartworm positive, hasn't been spayed and I'm pretty certain she has had a litter of pups. The vet estimates she's about a year and a half old. Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue is a strong advocate for pyrs, and they have agreed to let her into the group--I will foster her and TGPR will cover her medical bills. Once she is hale and hearty, she will be eligible for adoption--only to a very special, loving family!

Words of appreciation to someone special. One of my long-time friends has been an incredible help to me for a very long time now. Whether I was sad or happy, ill or well, this beautiful woman repeatedly reminded me that she was only a phone call away. During the initial shock of the UT changes, she propped me up, joined my anger and frustration and stayed in touch daily. She understood the trauma of losing such a large piece of my existence. Looking back over the years I realize that there is no way to measure what we've been to each other. I remember when Mark was having his very first biopsy, she found me in the Seton waiting room to bring a bag of healthy snacks for me to have during our Seton stay.  When I went into a fog after Mark's passing, she gave me my space but was never far away--never. She and I have laughed and cried over many events in our lives. This lovely person understands my dogs' roles in my life, and she rejoices in the happiness and laughter the pups provide. Like a number of my friends, she has a special fondness for Iris. For those of you reading this who know Iris, I'm sure you understand.  I'm fortunate that I don't have to imagine my life without this special friend. Thank you, Dana. I love you.

Well, I'll wrap up for now. There's always more to say, but then there's always tomorrow, right? Thanks for reading.  Be well.

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever - in case I need him. And I expect I will - as I always have. He is just my dog.  - Gene Hill