Lessons from the Dog - Forgive

The mind is an interesting thing. My husband can remember details of Penn State games that happened over 10 years ago, while I can barely remember the name of the star running back on last year’s team. Yet, I can remember the time the fight we had when I left the house in tears vowing to never come home again. I may not remember what the fight was about, but I do remember all the details of what happened after I walked out that door. My husband has no recollection. 

You hear stories and meet dogs all the time that have suffered abuse at the hands of an aggressive human or even an attack by another dog. Heck, Izzy was the victim of attacks by a dog we fostered. At first, fear and distrust sets in. The dogs are wary of others who remind them of the perpetrator. Then, over time, though not in all cases, many of these dogs are able to forgive and learn to trust again. 

I was concerned about Izzy a few years ago wondering if her experiences had scarred her for life. Initially, any time a dog approached her from behind, she’d spin around so as to not be so vulnerable. But over time she’s gotten over it and no longer snaps when a dog sniffs her behind or shows any fear toward other dogs. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of yelling at my dogs not because of something they did, but because I took my frustration out on them. It’s not their fault that Comcast over charged me, then disconnected my call after 30 minutes after being transferred to another department because the first person couldn’t help me. And now I’m late for a client meeting. So, no, this is not a good time to ask to go for a walk.  I come home feeling guilty, but am greeted by wiggly, squealy fluff balls as though it’s been weeks since we’ve seen each other. And I realize as I show them the bag of treats I picked up on my way home, they had already forgiven me. I still say I’m sorry as I hand out tasty snacks. 

It’s one of the best traits of our canine friends – the ability to forgive. A dogs’ cerebral cortex is not as developed the way our brains are. So It’s not that they can’t remember, it’s that they don’t hold on to these experiences the way we do. They just simply move on. 

And that is great advice for all of us. So, the next time you share a story of how you almost got ripped off because the waitress overcharged your drink order, remember this. Or the time someone cut in front of you while in line at the convenience store, do what your dog would do, don't hang on to what happened and let it ruin the rest of your day.

As Taylor Swift sings in her hit song..."Shake, shake, shake it off!"

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A tasty snack - or is it?

I'm late with getting my blog written for today. But I have a good excuse, albeit, one I wish I hadn't experienced. I spend a couple of hours every afternoon on my computer doing work. From reading my emails, to writing blogs, editing photos, handling business tasks, I prefer doing this during the normal work hours even though I can theoretically do this anytime of the day. But my husband is usually out of the house working, the dogs are quiet and I found I can generally block off this time from scheduling any appointments. I'm a pretty focused person, so I'll get lost in what I'm working on, tuning out just about everything around me. 

Then my husband came home. With some groceries. Which was a nice surprise since that's usually something I take care of. Among some bread, lettuce, chicken salad, and ice cream, he also picked up a bag of grapes. Then proceeded to wash them. And left them on the kitchen counter to dry. The dogs wanted a walk, so off they went. I went back up to my office to wrap up a task before we headed out to shop for a new stove. As we were putting on our coats, Steve noticed some of the grape stems on the floor. With no grapes. My first reaction was that he must have eaten the grapes and forgotten he did. But he insisted he hadn't. So we looked under the appliances to see if they rolled under. I opened both of the girls' mouths to see if there were remnants of grapes inside. Nothing. Once we realized there was a significant amount of grapes missing, I went into panic mode. 

I got on-line and began researching grapes and dogs, dialing my veterinarian's office at the same time. Both reinforced what I already knew - grapes are toxic to dogs and can be deadly. So what to do? And how quickly do we need to act? My vet gave me the proper dosage of hydrogen peroxide to give to each of my dogs to induce vomiting. And out to the backyard we went. I had both girls vomiting within 30 minutes of ingesting the grapes. Kita, as I suspected, hadn't eaten any. To my surprise and almost horror, Izzy had eaten at least 35, maybe as many as 40 or 50. To make sure we got them all of out her system, I gave her another dose of hydrogen peroxide. She didn't bring up anymore grapes. A second call to the vet to make sure a trip to the emergency vet wasn't in order and my vet agreed with me, that she had probably gotten all of them out of her system.

Both of the dogs were confused and upset. I'm sure they have no idea of what they did to deserve going through this ordeal. Up until recently, Izzy was never a counter surfer. But with the arrival of Kita a couple of years ago, this rule seems to have gone out the window. I've caught her eating my dinner while I wait for the oven to heat up, right in front of me. While I'm yelling at her. She just gives me the stare and keeps on munching. 

No doubt we learned our lesson too. Izzy won't hesitate to eat grapes. While she's had opportunities to do so before, she's always spit them out. The thought that something so simple could be so deadly, really really scared me. I gave her plenty of hugs afterwards, and within an hour it was clear she was feeling ok again when she let us know it was way past her dinnertime. 

I'll be keeping a close eye on her for the next 24 - 48 hours to make sure there are no symptoms indicating a toxicity from her tasty snack. As I shared this story with a couple of my friends, I was surprised that none of them knew grapes could be so toxic for dogs. Which is why I'm sharing our story. It is not known what substance in grapes that causes such a reaction. It doesn't matter whether it's green, red, black, seedless or dried grapes (raisins), even in small amounts it is fatally toxic to dogs. 

Symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, seizures and eventually kidney failure leading to death. While some dogs can tolerate some grapes, other dogs cannot tolerate even a small dose. How much the dog weighs does not appear to be a factor. 

The bottom line is this. If you suspect your dog has had a grape or raisin, call your veterinarian. If you know that your dog has eaten a small helping or more, it is imperative that you act right away. 

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The Three Frenchies

Back in August I posted a blog about my dream photo session. If you missed it, click HERE to see what I'm talking about. At the top of my list was a photo session with a French Bulldog. I don't know what it is about this breed, but they just melt my heart. Maybe it's the big ears. Or the cute little snoring noises they make when they sleep. Or their roly-poly bodies. Or all of the above! All I know is that I just want to squish every single one that I meet!

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Well, the universe was listening and granted me a photo session with not 1, not 2, but 3 frenchies! In New York of all places! Now how cool is that! I'm making a mental note to put more wishes out there. Because dreams really do come true!

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Not only was the session in New York, but it was in Dumbo of all places. When I heard that, secretly I found myself looking for the elephant correlation because I couldn't imagine why else an area of the city would be called D U M B O. But it turns out there is a reason. Not related to the Proboscidea. It's short for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. An industrial area, many buildings are being converted to spacious luxury lofts. It's also the home of the 100th West Elm store which once warehoused the Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company. Ok, whatever. But this location was a photographer's dream! Literally. And we weren't the only ones pointing our lenses at beautiful models. Waiting our turns so we could set the puppers up, because everyone who owned a camera had the same idea we did. But it was so worth it! 

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Claus, Buttercup and Khaleesi didn't disappoint! In fact, I could have spent all day with them, not just a couple of hours. They probably would have minded, needing a snooze at some point. Not only did they show up in the cutest collars and leashes, but their owners had a bag full of other leashes, collars and outfits for them to wear. Just doing a fashion show with their accessories would have taken an afternoon alone. These are some serious trendy pups! I'm not one for dressing dogs up, but now that it's getting colder, I know there are many breeds that truly benefit from wearing a hoodie. Frenchies are no exception. 

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Whether I'll ever meet this trio again, one thing I know for sure. I'll be back to explore more. 

Endeavor Third Annual Horse Show

I recently had the pleasure of attending and photographing Endeavor's Third Annual Horse show in New York recently. Endeavor Therapeutic Horsmanship is an organization that a friend and fellow photographer has been involved with for several years.  Offering therapeutic riding lessons for individuals with special needs, veterans and at-risk youth, equine therapy helps improve physical, cognitive and emotional issues. This type of therapy is a trend that is gaining popularity all over the United States. And after attending this show, I can see why. 

I've only ever ridden a horse once in my life - on my honeymoon in the Caribbean. While it was quite an experience, I was also ill prepared for it, wearing flip flops and shorts. Needless to say, I was quite sore the next day. Watching kids as young as 3 or 4 ride these exquisite beasts was nothing short of awe-inspiring. While some of these kids have physical issues and need support and guidance as they trot around the ring, the smiles and thumbs up made it quite apparent they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. 

The event is a culmination of showing friends, family and spectators how much they've learned and grown in the last year. Proud parents were there to cheer their kids on ringside. Competing in different levels and in different events, each competitor won at least one ribbon. Watching moms and dads take cell phone photos while siblings admired their prize, was really touching and emotional to watch. For some families, their struggles are hard and challenging. Seeing breakthroughs with a nontraditional form of therapy is clearly watching dreams come true for so many to them. Here a few special moments I captured that beautiful fall day.

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Shaking it up

I don't know about you, but when I flip the calendar to November, there's always a little bit of panic. With Christmas lingering around the corner, I know things are about to get crazy busy. Calendars for sale in all the stores reminds me how just a year ago I was writing out goals for 2017. And the sharp realization that I still have much to accomplish. 

I been doing some soul searching recently. Maybe it's because of all the books I've been reading. Titles like "You are a badass" by Jen Sincero, "You can heal your life" by Louise Hay, re-reading parts of "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne and "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill (I still can't get enough of this book!). All of them have served to make me aware of how much time I spend thinking about all my fears, anxieties, anger, resentment and so on. How I get caught up sweating the small stuff and carry my frustrations, stress and worry with me all day long. Even when I'm doing something I enjoy. My husband often asks me why am I mad. I can't imagine what makes him think that until he tells me that's quite a scowl I'm wearing on my face. Only then do I realize how tense my body is. 

November is the month of giving thanks. So I thought I'd shake things up a bit. Break my routine. Do something different every single day until Thanksgiving. Throw my routine out of whack. See if the break in monotony makes me see the world and myself a little differently. It's actually a challenge offered by my photography mentor to those of us who are always striving to be better artists and creators. But I think it's an excellent idea. So I started yesterday and will do something daily for 3 weeks. And then evaluate how I feel about my experience. 

Today, for example, I went for a walk. By myself. I don't know when the last time was that I did that. Probably years. I didn't do it because I needed the exercise. Goodness knows, I walk plenty on a daily basis. But I'm always on a mission. Running errands, walking the dogs, or walking for work. This was just to go and simply be with nature. Quiet my mind. Use my senses to experience my environment. And you know what? It was so invigorating! By the time I was finished, I could feel how my body had relaxed. My breath had slowed. And my mind had calmed down. 

I've got lots of ideas of how I'm going to break my routine over the next several weeks. How I'm going to shake up my life a bit! Honestly, I think this will be good for me. And for my creative self. I can't wait to see how I feel in three weeks! Anyone else want to join me?

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