Barry White, My New Love

I took my new enrichment dog, Barry White, on the Stray Rescue group walk


We stopped at a place called Paradise Cove

The white dog in front is my former enrichment dog, Boogie Pilgrim


Barry and I then headed to Forest Park.

Where he relaxed










and smiled


I love this dog!IMG_5898

He needs a home!


Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

The Stray Rescue staff started a wonderful system to track enrichment time spent with the shelter dogs to ensure each gets equal time. It’s not a perfect system, since some dogs are more popular with volunteers and hence they have more “fans,” but this way the love is spread more evenly as the staff fills in the gaps where needed.
There’s a key for us to follow. W = extra walk / E = enrichment outside of the shelter (park, home, etc.) / CR = car ride / A = time in apartment / Y = play time in yard / R = run
The red colored marker is for volunteers and the black marker is for staff, but the red pen got lost and the volunteers started writing “vol” next to the letter.
Some dogs are not allowed extra enrichment for various temporary reasons.

I love that Paul, an enrichment staff member, encourages staff to spend time with red collar (staff only) dogs by offering lottery tickets. These dogs don’t get a lot of enrichment time because volunteers aren’t allowed to take them out. The goal is for the dogs to become purple collar so anyone can enrich them.

My own dogs fight over enrichment time with me. Here’s how it goes:  Stella comes and sits on my lap first. KC immediately comes over, plops herself right on Stella and squeezes her out as if she’s not even there. “What? Stella? Where? I don’t see a dog.”
Poor Stella. And she’s so submissive. She quietly backs out and walks to the other end of the couch. 
And waits for her daddy to get home.

Our Month in Pictures – October

You know it’s a slow month when I post pictures of myself with friends at a hookah bar. But it was such a fun experience. Have you ever been? My friend Katie is the best at making people do things outside their comfort zone. So when Katie, Jan and I had lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ranoush, we ordered things like shish tawuk, chicken shawarma, and baba ganoush. Then Katie insisted we try a hookah. I thought she was nuts, but all of a sudden the waiter was telling us the flavors and bringing the hookah to our table. We were cracking up.
“Is this even legal?”
“We’re not really doing this, are we?”
“Take a picture of us!”
By the way, it’s molasses, fruit flavoring (we picked watermelon and bubble gum) and a little tobacco. It’s actually pretty good. It’s like having dessert without the calories, since it leaves a fruity flavor in your mouth.

We ended up having the best time…eating great food, laughing, and trying something new. We even did a little shopping afterwards. Who would have thought lunch could be so fun. Thanks Katie! Crossed off “Experience a Hookah Bar” from my Bucket List.
My niece’s (Larry’s sister’s daughter) teacup micro Maltipoo, Phoebe, came over for a visit. Stella absolutely adored her and was sad when she left.

KC, who wanted to eat Phoebe at first but eventually tolerated her for the hour she was here, had surgery last week to remove the mass on her back. It was about the size of a silver dollar, but to get clean borders, they made the incision big.
Biopsy results:  Grade 2 mast cell tumor
Translation:  On a scale of one to three – one as benign and three as malignant – KC’s tumor is a two, and it’s actually a low grade two so it’s closer to a one. This means she’s likely to get more masses, so we’ll keep a close eye on her and remove any new ones right away. If it was a grade three they would send her to an oncologist. If it was a one it would be totally benign and they wouldn’t worry at all. Her stitches come out on Wednesday, and otherwise she’s doing great.
I wanted to share this picture I took of Stray Rescue pup Nelson Hull. He is just the sweetest!  Apparently Brett Hull found him somewhere and brought him to the shelter, so they named the dog after him. Nelson Hull must have been adopted already, because I can’t find him on the website. I knew he wouldn’t be there long.

My last enrichment dog, Phycox, is still available.

He’s so sweet. I’m going to take a break in November. I can’t stand having so many of my enrichment dogs still at the shelter. Madame Butterfly, one of my dogs from last year, is still there. So are Kiddo and Phycox.

And my dog for this month is Barry White…

Even though most of my former enrichment dogs are assigned new enrichment buddies, most people work full time and aren’t able to see them as often as I did. Plus, I’ve made a connection with the dogs and feel I should visit them. That’s four dogs worth of guilt right there!
So next month I’m not going to get a new dog; I’m going to focus on the ones I already have and just hope they get adopted. Soon.
Eric…remember him?
He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his scrimmage yesterday in Tampa, FL. Larry and I are going to see him play in Ocala on November 13, and then he’ll be home for Thanksgiving. 
He’s doing well in school and has made friends. He likes his basketball teammates, but he’s become good friends with guys on the baseball team and with girls on the volleyball and softball teams.
Yep, that’s Eric in a shopping cart. 
I don’t ask questions.

Defending NJCAA National Champion CF Men’s Hoops 2013-2014 schedule set

The defending NJCAA National Champion College of Central Florida men’s basketball team had its 2013-2014 schedule announced recently.
The Patriots will kick off their regular season home slate with a game against Pasco-Hernando on November 2.
CF’s non-conference home schedule also includes games against State College of Florida-Manatee (November 5 and December 14), St. Petersburg (November 13), South Georgia College (November 16), Hillsborough (December 4), Pensacola (December 13), Palm Beach State (December 15) and Polk State (January 11).
From there, the Patriots kick off conference home slate on January 22 against Daytona State.
CF will have a pair of conference home games against FSC-Jacksonville and will face DSC and rival Santa Fe one time apiece at Patriot Gym.
The Patriots have five home games against teams that made the state tournament last season, with two of those matchups coming against Manatee.
CF rallied from a 23-point deficit to knock off SCOF 105-103 in Ocala last year, before rolling to a win over the Manatees in the opening round of the state tournament.
SCOF, along with another state tournament team from a year ago, Palm Beach State, will be CF’s foes during the Florida Colleges Men’s Basketball Shootout.
Meanwhile, the last team to knock off CF at home back in 2011, Pensacola, returns to Ocala for a game this season, as does Polk, a state tournament squad from a year ago.
As far as road games, CF will make out-of-state trips to South Carolina and New York for games this season.
The Patriots will face USC-Salkehatchie, a national tournament team from a year ago during their trip to the Magnolia State and will also embark on a trip to the Big Apple for the second consecutive year.
I’m going to make a separate post for this later because I have a ton of pictures, but today I crossed off “Attend a Woodchopper’s Ball” from my Bucket List. 
Let’s just say it involved tractors, chicken shit bingo, baby donkeys, pie contests, and moonshine samples.
Only in Missouri.

And I can’t go without posting a picture of baby Will, who’ll be 7 months on Halloween.


It’s a Wonderful Life…

Sorry if I send posts to anyone who already receives them automatically. The subscription is anonymous, so I can’t tell who subscribes and who doesn’t.
We’ve had a busy few weeks. I love these collages because I can fit lots of pics in 🙂
For Labor Day we went to Lake of the Ozarks. The best part was spending time with Will, who is 5 months old now. He is such a happy baby.

Love this pic of Larry and Will…

Last Friday, my friend Nicole held a Trivia Night Fundraiser for her 9-month-old foster puppy, Maddy, who needs life saving heart surgery. She’s the black and white pup. The other one is Gabby, who, because of her overtly affectionate tendencies, “worked” the kissing booth.  The night was a success and the money was raised.

By the way, this was Gabby before, when she was found as a stray with severe mange only about six months ago. She is the sweetest, friendliest, wiggly-est butt dog you’ve ever met! How adorable is she in her pink tutu and purple headband?
Hard to believe it’s the same dog…
On Saturday morning, Larry and I drove to Missouri State to meet Eric, who was there on his official visit. He played basketball for about an hour with the players, which we got to watch. He had a great visit and really liked the school. This Thursday or Friday he’ll visit Florida Gulf Coast University and then decide in the next week or two where he’ll go next year.
That’s him in the picture on the left in the grey sweaty shirt. He played seven games in a row.
On the way to the school Larry and I called Big Cedar Lodge to see if they had a room for the night. We figured since it’s only 50 minutes away from the school – and it was our anniversary the following day (6 years) – why not make a mini-vacation out of it. We’re so glad we did! It was beautiful. The best part was that when it was time to pack up and leave we didn’t have anything to pack except the T-shirts and toothbrushes we bought in the gift shop 🙂
At night we went to the Buzzard Bar to watch the “Singing Cowboy.” His real name is Clay Self and he was the funniest comedian and most talented musician we’ve ever seen. We laughed so hard. His 14-year-old son Levi (see picture bottom left) was incredible on the fiddle and banjo. I would have gone back the next night to see them again.
If you ever get a chance to go here, do. We’re trying to figure out how to do a family trip here next year. Anyone in?

 I brought my former enrichment dog, Kiddo, who is still at the shelter 😦 boooo, to our house to swim one day. She loves the water and had the best time. My dogs went to doggie daycare so they wouldn’t cause a noisy raucous, barking at each other through the glass door. Stella hates daycare, by the way. The staff told me she barked the entire time. Three hours won’t kill her, though. Poor Kiddo lives at the shelter day in and day out. 
Love you, sweet girl!!

My new enrichment dog as of yesterday is Phycox. 
He’s been at the shelter for a few years. 
He has issues. 
He likes to bite people. 
Especially men. 
I have to keep him far away from anyone he doesn’t know because he becomes protective of his handler. 
Other than that he’s very sweet! Haha!

When Larry Finds Out the Name of My New Dog…

Larry is not fond of my pit bull obsession. He doesn’t think they’re cute. He’s afraid of them. He thinks they’re all mean and they all bite. Still…after two years of me volunteering at Stray Rescue.

But I thought he’d feel differently when he found out the name of my new enrichment dog…


When I told him my new dog’s name is Ferrari, you know what he said?

“Is she red?”

Sheesh. It’s hopeless.

I Need Another Dog

The Stray Rescue enrichment program director emailed me with a list of dogs looking for a buddy, but I’ve been procrastinating about taking on another one since Combination went to foster.

The problem?  Each time I go to the shelter it breaks my heart. I couldn’t feel the heartache before because I was busy planning my next outing with Combination. But since taking a break after he left, I feel less stress. No pressure. No guilt. No dog waiting for me. Waiting for me…his only friend, his only chance at going on a hike, to the park, or to the pet store to pick out a toy. His only escape from the monotony of two 10-minute walks a day and a reprieve from the crowded, noisy shelter. His only chance to climb in my car or on my lap and pretend for the day that both belong to him.

If I don’t hear 200 barking dogs, I can pretend they’re not crying out – pleading – day after day for anyone walking by to take them home. If I don’t see them spinning in anxious circles or curled up on a tiny, thin towel trying to stay warm, I can pretend they’re not worried or cold.

If I don’t go, they don’t exist. 

But without grateful wet kisses and happy tail wags, how will I fill my soul? How will I know once again the satisfaction of teaching a dog to walk nicely on a leash, sit for a treat and other skills needed to prepare for a forever home? 

There’s nothing quite like the love of a dog.

I need another buddy.

My Enrichment Buddy – Abacus

Stray Rescue started a new program called Rehabilitation and Enrichment Program (R.E.P.). Volunteers are assigned to dogs who have been in the shelter for over a year or who are doing poorly in the shelter – losing weight, spinning, etc. – or in the case of the dog I was assigned to, both.

To help make the dogs more adoptable, volunteers are asked to spend at least five hours a week with their dog, take them on outings, to training class, and on overnight visits if possible. The hotel near the shelter offered to let us use their rooms for overnights with the dogs if we can’t take them to our homes. Blues hockey player Barrett Jackman is a huge Stray Rescue advocate, and since he leaves for the offseason, he’s offered his St. Louis home (with a caretaker) for that as well.

I was assigned to Abacus. He is labeled “staff approved volunteers only.” That means only certain volunteers are allowed to walk him because he humps and nips people and bites at the leash. He is crazy. He’s not mean or aggressive, he just has so much energy that he doesn’t know what to do. In his “apartment,” he jumps up one side and down the other in a sort of rhythmic fashion.

The first time I tried to get him out of his apartment he bit me in the upper thigh as soon as I opened the door. My heart was absolutely pounding and I slammed the door shut. How am I going to enrich him if I can’t even get him out! But I love a challenge and was not about to let him intimidate me. So I opened the door again and let him know who was boss. He jumped and jumped and tried to run out. But I stood tall, blocked him with my legs to prevent him from escaping, and demanded that he “SIT!”

And he did.

As soon as I leashed him and walked him out he was an angel.

We got in the car and headed to the park. Apparently the water looked inviting because he jumped right in. I still had him by the leash, so I fished him out and he gave me a look like, “What’d you push me in for?!”

After hanging out at the fountain, I gave him an antler to chew on; he loved it.

See the halter he has on in this picture? He had it on because if a regular leash was used, he pulled so hard that he choked himself. And rather than having to take it off and put it on twice a day for his walks, they left it on 24/7. His skin was rubbed raw under his legs. I insisted it be taken off, and it was. Stray Rescue is amazing and they do a wonderful job, but with so many dogs, sometimes a special advocate is needed. Which is why I love this R.E.P. program!

Even though he looks happy here, he’s so much happier without the halter.

For a few days in a row I picked him up and took him to the park. We practiced loose leash walking and he did great. If he strayed from my side at all, I gave him a little tug and he walked right next to me. He looked up at me so proud that he was behaving. He honestly reminds me of a 6-year-old with ADHD.

Yesterday I took him to a restaurant called Luvy Duvy’s, where the servers bring dogs a plate of food and bowl of ice water. I could tell he’d never been to a restaurant. He wiggled his whole behind and wagged his tail, jumping on the table and knocking chairs over like a bull in a china shop. He acted friendly and wanted to say hi to everyone, but until I get to know him better I have to keep him close to me.

It took 15 minutes for him to settle down.

Using his bacon, cheese and chicken platter, I worked with him on “leave it.” At first he wondered why in the world I would leave a perfectly good piece of bacon sitting on the ground, so he thought he’d help out by trying to pick it up. He finally figured out that if he did leave it he would eventually get to EAT it!

The server, who knew I was a Stray Rescue volunteer, came over later and said my lunch was free and that the owner wanted me “not to give up on the dog.” It was so unexpected that I got teary.

I showed Larry this picture and he said, “He is not a cute dog.” Okay, well maybe not in the typical cute dog sense, but I think he’s adorable.

We piled back in the car after lunch. He laid down, so I thought he’d go to sleep, but as soon as I stopped at a stop light or stop sign he shot up in the seat, like “Do I have to go back to the shelter already?!” I wanted him to relax, so I drove up and down the highway and stroked his sweet head while he slept.

Poor Abacus just needs someone to love him. If I can be his little bit of heaven by showing him love until his forever person comes along, I will do that for him.