Simple Start, Weight Watchers — Why? Because It Works!

Dearest Readers:

Yes, I know…I’ve been quiet. As you recall, the new year started with a loss…not at Weight Watchers, but a loss of a loved one — our precious little Maltese, Shasta Daisy Shampagne. She was at least ten-years-old, probably closer to twelve. For approximately six months we watched her slowly fading away from us. At first, she stopped jumping across the gate. Then, she started to sleep — a lot…almost all day long. Occasionally she wouldn’t eat. During her wellness check at the vets, we discovered our suspicions — she was now completely blind, and that is why when she was awake, she raised her head high, to look at the bright lights she could see from the skyline of our windows. She could see a bright image, but nothing more. Each time I reached to pick her up, I would rub her and speak to her softly. She responded by struggling to jump into my arms. When she needed something, she did not whine or bark. She paced herself and I fully believe she knew exactly how many steps she needed to take to find the water bowl. She stopped playing with her favorite toys. When the seizures began, we strove to accept Shasta was fading away. I’ve never been a believer in ‘putting a dog down’ although we have let two go in this way. Their quality of life was gone, and so we made the decision to let them go peacefully, with us by their sides. With Shasta, it was different. Every time we considered making that dreadful call, she bounced back. Just like the Energizer Bunny. Twenty-four hours after a seizure, she worked hard to show us she could still walk and move. She could take care of her body functions. She could still drink and eat. Little Miss Independent Shasta wasn’t ready to go. Unfortunately, on January 4, early in the morning, I went to pick her up to let her go outside with me. She did not respond. She went on her terms. She did not want us to make that dreadful call. And so, we started the new year with the loss of our precious Shasta.

Life has taught me the fact of life that after death, we must continue. The question is how? How do we learn to live without those we loved? It is a known fact that we must continue to move. Demands in life force us to pick ourselves up. To take baby steps. To move. Simply — just to move. After losing Shasta, I wanted to just shut the world away, but the phone rang, door bells screamed, and I realized, I had to move on. I forced myself to get up and to return to my life. On January 9, I returned to Weight Watchers, anticipating more dismay, much to my surprise, I lost 1.8 pounds. This week, I lost .02 pounds. Baby steps. Now, I’ve discovered for me, it takes baby steps to continue my weight loss.

I do have a confession. Years ago, my husband bought a treadmill — one for him to use after heart surgery. Funny. He’s only used it twice. He used the excuse it was boring. He needed a TV so he could watch it while on the treadmill. We moved a TV into the room. The treadmill sat, all by itself, still awaiting my husband to move it! For years, I used it — to air dry clothes. After joining Weight Watchers, I stared at that treadmill. By now, it was dusty and needed attention, so I hopped on. ‘If only I can do ten minutes,’ I said. The treadmill is a 1998 version. The timer would not work, so I counted it down, while watching the clock and gasping for air. I’m asthmatic. Exercise is a bit difficult for me, but I was determined to do just ten minutes. At first, after five minutes, I had to jump off while gasping for air. That treadmill was getting the best of me!

Those of you who really know me understand how stubborn, independent and determined I can be when something intimidates me. I continued my pursuit. After joining Weight Watchers, I learned we must move to be successful with weight loss. I walked. I exercised, occasionally, but that silly treadmill all but stared and laughed at me. It was beating me, and I was just a bit annoyed.

Last year, I decided to set a goal of ten minutes again on the treadmill; after all, I had lost about 30 pounds. Just how hard can a treadmill be? My newest mini-schnauzer, Hankster the Prankster showed me. One morning while letting the treadmill down, he hopped onboard, as if to say, “Ha…Ha…I can do the treadmill and you cannot!” I turned it on just to see what he would do. That silly four-legged friend moved…and moved…and moved. Then, he barked, looked up at me as if to say, “Make it go faster,” so I did. Now he was running! A four-legged friend who knew much about me was using the treadmill. His little legs moved quickly and he barked a happy bark. I wanted to spank him!

Baby steps! The next day, I gave myself five minutes on the treadmill…a few days later, ten, and this time, I did not stop! Ten minutes was an achievement and I was proud of myself. I am happy to say, now, I can move on a treadmill for 50 minutes — non-stop! Then, I do an upper body workout. All to the credit of Weight Watchers!

This year, there is another new program with Weight Watchers — Simple Start, a two-week jump-start program that is easy to do. At the meeting this morning, many of the members shared weight losses and how easy the program is. As for me, I suppose you could say, I lose ever so slowly, but what I have learned this time with Weight Watchers is something simple. Weight Watchers works. No longer is it a difficult program. No longer is there a beige curtain with an intimidating scale staring in my face. The weigh ins are ‘confidential.’ Never do we share how much we weighed when we joined, and now, even a small weight loss of .02 is still — A LOSS!

Perhaps I owe the credit to Hankster the Prankster for teaching me that IF a tiny dog could work out on a treadmill, then I could too! There are days when he still wants to show me up on the treadmill, after a few minutes he hops off, as if to say, “OK…it’s your turn now!”

Thank you, Hanks. Yes, it is a new year. A new year to remember little Miss Shasta, and I still hear her little bark sometimes. When I walk by her bed, I still speak to her. As the year continues to move forward, I must focus on the blessings I have, including my precious four-legged children, and I must continue to move on to accomplish my weight loss.

Thank you, Weight Watchers. Thank you Hanks for teaching me I can do the treadmill, and Little Miss Shasta, thank you for the spunk and determination you taught me. I suppose people who do not have animals cannot understand how much they nourish, teach and inspire our life. These four-legged friends are there for us when we need a hug. They will lick away your tears, and melt your heart. I am blessed to have them in my life, and I am blessed to have a new inspiration and determined with Weight Watchers. It is a new year with Simple Start. A new year to count my blessings. Now, if I could only convince Hank I must use the treadmill before he does! Baby Steps!

To a New Year, New Beginnings, Goals and Promises – Learning to Move On

Dearest Readers:

My last post, Saturday, January 4, 2014 was written with a broken heart after we lost our precious Maltese, Shasta Daisy Shampagne. To say it has been a stressful, depressing and an almost unbearable week is an understatement. I have caught myself bursting into tears as the sea of grief rushes over me once again. Nevertheless, after losing many loved ones, friends, and family members, I recognize that life continues. Just because we have lost someone so special does not cause our lives to stop. We awaken in the morning. Demands of life still need attention. We still must pick up the pieces and “Move On!”

I must say, I am a bit proud of myself and how I have dealt with the grief and emptiness that Little Miss Shasta Daisy left. Shasta lost the remainder of her eye sight last year. I am convinced she counted the steps to where the water bowls were, along with the pillow she loved to rest on. This pillow is located next to my desk. Daily, she curled her tiny body by the pillow, and when she was thirsty, never did she whine for me to carry her to the water bowl. She was a feisty and most independent little girl. She loved doing things her way! Today, her pillow and blankie rest by my desk. I haven’t found the courage to wash her pillow or the blankie. Our newest little boy, a Maltese, named Toby Keith has adopted the spot, pillow and blankie as his comfort zone. Funny. Never did he claim this territory as his until Monday of this week. We were blessed to be the foster parent of Toby in early December after Shasta became weaker and weaker. As I’ve written before, Shasta’s seizures became more violent in December. Christmas Day was her worst. The amazing thing about Shasta is after a seizure, after Phil and I decided we should consult with our vet once again about her, Shasta chose to prove to us that she was still our little energizer bunny. Mornings after she suffered a seizure, she would go outside to potty and to walk around the back yard, as if to say, “See…I’m OK!”

We did not call the vet. I am convinced that little Miss Shasta Daisy chose to leave us on her terms — after she was certain we would be ok. Maybe she and Toby communicated, and maybe Toby convinced her that all would be OK. I am convinced animals communicate, to us, and to each other.

So, while it is a New Year and we had to build new goals, promises and beginnings, I am learning to move on. Yes, I miss Shasta, and I certainly miss my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus; although, our home is filled with the love of our precious four-legged children. Together, we strive to make each day a new and good day. Yes, at times, I am sad, but I am learning to work through the grief. After all, life continues.

Today was my first day back at Weight Watchers after the holidays. Let’s just say, during the holidays I was a most naughty girl. Just before Christmas, I broke the plateau and I was so proud to accomplish that goal. Attending parties, I found myself craving Christmas cookies. I asked Phil to get us a few Christmas cookies and when he brought them home, I continued to eat and eat those blasted temptations until I was furious with myself. Then, I decided to do a bit of Christmas baking. My mistake! Going back to Weight Watchers, I hopped on the scales — gaining four pounds. I missed the next meeting — intentionally, and I continued to binge. No matter what I said to myself, I could not stop eating desserts.

“It’s the holidays,” people said. “Enjoy yourself.”

Thanks so much for your encouragement! Then I realized, I was the one out of control. After all, no one was forcing these delicacies on me, but myself! Naughty…NAUGHTY — OH SO NAUGHTY GIRL!

Now, my scales were reading a 10 pound gain. I was ready to jump off the bridge I was so angry with myself. I had a serious talk with myself and hopped back on the treadmill. After all, if my life was spinning out of control and I was gaining weight, shouldn’t I jump on a treadmill to stop this craziness?

Today was a good day. I am proud to say, the scales showed a loss of two pounds. Yes, even when life is spinning out of control and I am depressed from watching my precious friend Shasta fading away…even when I felt my life was losing its balance, I am happy to say, I have rejuvenated myself…after many tears and discussions at my special window. Today, I am moving on with life, goals, dreams and promises made to myself. Today is a new day. A new beginning. I have started the new year with a two pound loss! Thank you, Weight Watchers! This holiday season taught me something special. I have always been described as a strong, independent and opinionated woman. Yep. That is me. However, when a craving enters my brain, I become weak. Because of the weight gain, I have discovered that I must get back in control. I have lost 36 pounds, thanks to Weight Watchers. How many inches have I lost? I haven’t a clue, but my body is changing, along with my attitude about food. I must remember to be strong, independent and eat healthy. Yes, there will be times when I am tempted. At parties…dances…and other special events… Now, I must remember, I hold the key. I have the strength. I have the courage. After all, no one is spoon feeding me. When temptations occur, I will think twice! And then, I will think again…and AGAIN!

Rest in peace, Little Miss Shasta Daisy Shampagne. You were such a blessing to rescue and to become such an amazing loving part of our family. Watching you and the determination you had taught me that life must go on and with each day, we must continue to make the most of each day…Just like you did, precious Shasta!

In Memory of Precious Shasta Daisy Shampagne, Our Adorable Maltese

Dearest Readers:

Only moments ago, when I awoke, I rushed to check on our precious, weakened little girl, our adorable Maltese, Shasta Daisy Shampagne. Today, when I touched her to whisper love words and good morning to her, she did not respond. I uncovered her from the blankets keeping her warm. Only this time, she did not move her head. Carefully, I lifted her into my arms, discovering her spirit and fight were gone. Over the night, Shasta left us, crossing Rainbow Bridge. I cannot stop crying.

If you read my blog regularly, you will remember little Shasta and her battle to survive while having seizures. We spoke with the vet about the seizures. He felt she was much too weak to survive any treatments. We were told to make her comfortable and to help her work thru the seizures. “She will let you know when she’s ready,” he said. Christmas Day was a rough day for Shasta. She suffered three long seizures. Her head rolled back. She gasped for breath and her tongue turned as blue as the sky at dark. We cradled her in our arms. I sang to her. With each seizure, she used all of the strength she could find, just to survive.

“Dear God,” I prayed. “Please don’t let her die on Christmas Day.” She survived, sleeping comfortably next to Phil. When she walked around, her walk was more of a weakened, confusing crawl, her body turned to the right. Her tongue hung out, but later, she was back to almost normal. She drank water, and she ate every bite of her food, wanting more. She wasn’t ready to go.

Phil and I discussed her situation. We agreed it was time. We decided we would call the vet, the day after Christmas to find out what he would suggest. We anticipated it would be to ‘let her go.’ The day after Christmas, she appeared better. We didn’t make the call. Carefully, we watched Shasta, counting her intake and her body functions. She drank water. She pottied. She kissed us. She loved us. She played with our boys, so it appeared that for now, Shasta was back. Remembering our vets words, “She’ll let you know when she’s ready,” we cared for Shasta, carrying her outside to potty and bringing her back inside to rest. After Christmas, she walked around the back yard, and she snapped at our newest family member, Toby, another rambunctious Maltese. After Christmas Day, no seizures.

We rescued Shasta from a shelter in July, 2005. She was about two or three years old and had been left at a shelter in Florida. She was tiny, as white as snow, fluffy, with only one minor problem. She had a crooked neck. Her face always appeared to be cocked to one side. When I met her, her face was cocked to the left, but she was just adorable. I drove to Jacksonville to adopt her. Full of spunk when I met her, she jumped into my arms, as if to say, “Hey there. I’m your new girl!” Phil fell in love with her the moment he met her. We massaged her neck and she appeared to enjoy our touch and she moved her neck a bit straighter.

Our vet checked her over, telling us to massage her neck. “It might help her straighten a bit.” She did not have any difficulty with her spine and he thought she was born with a slight disability; however, for Shasta, the crooked neck only added to her charm. It never stopped her! Over the years, she loved to walk. She was the little princess on the right. Shakespeare walked next to her, and to the left, Prince Marmaduke Shamus guided us as we walked for 2.5 miles. Last year, when Shasta started having the seizures, I stopped walking her. She wasn’t strong enough anymore. Slowly, I watched Shasta fading away from us, and although at times I thought about letting her go, Phil and I agreed we were not ready, nor was Shasta.

Today, Shasta has crossed Rainbow Bridge. She was ready, so she left us. I pray that Shamus was waiting for her and that they are playing together again, or maybe they are walking together. I will miss Little Miss Shasta Daisy Shampagne, but I am thankful that now, she will not suffer any more seizures. Now, she can run and play, eat and rest, while knowing she was loved by Phil and I and our children. Rest in peace, Little Miss. Mommy and Daddy love you and miss you terribly.

Gobble…Gobble…Gobble…Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dearest Readers:

On this date, November 28, 2013, we celebrate Thanksgiving. As we grow, there are many traditions made, and some traditions are broken. Growing up in the State of Georgia, my family taught me many traditions during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays were for family. I recall celebrating Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparents. Although when I was little, I often was curious why my maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents did not come together for the holidays. Later, I discovered how strange our families were and I did my best to welcome all of my relatives.

I remember my maternal grandmother always prepping, baking and cooking for the holidays. Our table was filled with most of the foods we celebrate and gobble down a bit too quickly. We always had a country ham, turkey, homemade biscuits that felt and tasted like a cloud and I recall eating too many of them. OK…so homemade biscuits are my weakness, and that is why I do not make them! Additional foods included cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, Southern potato salad, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and of course, we had a variety of desserts. My grandmother was a great Southern cook, so you can just imagine all of the food we ate. Another tradition we shared was always saying the blessing at the dinner table. Joining hands, we would ask my dad or grandfather to lead us into prayer.

Some traditions must be preserved, and that is why when Phil and I eat at the dining room table, or at the breakfast table, I always remind him we must ‘say grace.’ Phil did not grow up with that family tradition, and the more I discover about his family, the more I recognize that his family was more estranged than mine could ever be. His mother did not cook a Thanksgiving turkey or dinner. His mother said she hated turkey because it was dry. She changed her mind when tasting mine! After moving to Charleston, I went to the trouble of inviting Phil’s family for Thanksgiving Dinner; however, after the way his mother behaved, I was a bit annoyed with her. Just picture it. As the cook for the Thanksgiving Dinner you are tired. For many days you have prepped the foods, thawed the turkey and prepared it. Baked. Cooked. Cleaned the dishes. Dressed the dining room table with your finest linens, china, candles and all the fun things I enjoy doing for the holidays, only to be told — perhaps in a dictatorial tone — that you are hungry and want to eat…NOW!

I asked Phil if I could speak to him privately, letting him know I was furious that his mother was so demanding. He shook his head, refusing to speak with his mother. I returned to the kitchen, letting his mother know I had some peanut butter and bread and if she wanted to EAT NOW…she could fix a peanut butter sandwich. She growled at me… “Just give me a paper plate and I’ll dig in…”

“You’ll do no such a thing. Dinner isn’t ready!”

That was the last Thanksgiving I shared with Phil’s mother. New traditions were made, in hopes we as a family could teach our child that holidays were family days and were not to be dictatorial.

Now, our son is married, building new traditions with his wife and child. As for us, I still prepare a Thanksgiving meal, and I dress the dining room table with china, a lace tablecloth, and candles and we take the time to enjoy our meal. Occasionally, I invite our friends over but as life has a way, most people have plans for the holidays.

A new tradition we started two years ago is to decorate our Christmas tree on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Last year, I was so sick with acute bronchitis I did not feel like cooking Thanksgiving, although I did. Weak and exhausted by dinner time, I did something I rarely do.  I asked Phil to help with the clean up. That weekend he put the tree up. When I asked him to help with the decorating he grumbled, so like his mother —
“I HATE decorating the tree…”

I gathered the decorations and with tears in my eyes, I decorated the tree. Exhausted, I went to bed, furious with Phil and his hatred for the holidays.

This year, I’ve let him know how his cold, and demeaning words hurt me last year. There I was as sick and as weak I could be, and all he cared about was watching his stupid football games! How dare him! Never did he consider how sick I was and how hard I worked to keep the traditions going.

Traditions are important to me, and they should be for everyone, especially at the holidays. Much to my surprise, Phil has mentioned twice that we are decorating the Christmas tree this weekend. Sometimes I cannot help wondering just who is this strange man I married. His moods change quicker than the winds!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are sharing it with friends, and on Friday, I am cooking a Thanksgiving meal at home. After all, some traditions need to continue. Since early marriage I have cooked the Thanksgiving meal. That tradition must continue. Additional traditions will continue, and a few will change. We have a family of four-legged children to celebrate the holidays with. This year, all of them — Shasta Daisy Shampagne, our 12-year-old, frail Maltese will probably share her last Thanksgiving with us. She has seizures now. Until last evening, the last was three weeks ago. Our pet sitter describes her as a frail, little old lady most comfortable in her rocking chair. Only for Shasta, she is most comfortable curled on a pillow with her blanket at my desk. Last night’s seizure scared us and I prayed, “Please God, let her live just one more Thanksgiving!” She made it through the night, and she is curled at my feet now.  Thank you, God!

Our other children are Shakespeare Hemingway, a salt and pepper mini-schnauzer, Sandy Bear Sebastian, a blonde mini-schnauzer,  Sir Hankster the Prankster, a smaller mini-schnauzer who grumbles and grumbles and grumbles… Our youngest is our biggest, a giant wiry schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow. We adopted him from a shelter last year after my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus crossed Rainbow Bridge. All of these precious children will enjoy a taste of Thanksgiving this Friday with us. Yesterday, the rescue I volunteer for requested for us to consider fostering a pup from a kill shelter. Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas needs fosters willing to help these little guys adjust to a life away from kill shelters and crates. At first, I thought “No, I cannot do this again.” If you recall, my last foster was Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet…the Pup Who Ran Away, But Came Back! I confess, I fell in love with Sweet Cletus and hated to let him go when he was adopted. I am happy to report he is progressing ever so slowly with his new parents. It has been a long process for him to forget the abuse he tolerated as a puppy mill stud, but now, he has a caring family who do everything they can to give him a life filled with love and tender care. Together, Cletus, now named “Little Buddy” and his family are taking baby steps. Baby steps leads to independence and trust, and I look forward to the day when I hear that Little Buddy is now a changed guy!

I am happy to announce, Phil has agreed to take in another foster – a Maltese. So now, this Thanksgiving, even though we do not have the newest foster in our household, we have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2013. This year I have good health again! We are still together in this marriage. We have love and peace in our world at home. We are thankful for our soldiers who are away this year, and we are hopeful they return home safely, soon. We are thankful for our grandchild, William; and we are thankful and so appreciative of our good friends. May we all have a toast for Thanksgiving, and may we all give thanks to God for another Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your special day!


Caring For A Sick Baby — Our Little Maltese

Dearest Readers:

To those of you who read my blog regularly, you recognize what an advocate I am for animals, especially rescued dogs. We are the proud family with five dogs, four which are rescues. Yes, they are expensive to keep up and care for, but words cannot express how fulfilling it is to see them grow under our care. Last month, Shasta, our aging Maltese, and Shakespeare, our oldest mini-schnauzer had their wellness checkups. We were concerned about Shasta because she has a slight growth on her nose. Our vet checked it. According to the reports, she has a slight cancer of the nose, so we are treating it with a medication. We must administer the medication — two pills every three weeks – with gloved hands. Upon giving her the pills, mixed with peanut butter so she could swallow them easier, I could not help wondering if I had to wear gloves to administer the medication, just what would these pills do to a tiny less than seven pound Maltese. Last week Shasta received her second dosage. Yesterday, I noticed how lethargic she is, lying around, barely moving at all, and she refused to eat her food. Knowing she must have fluids, I managed to get her to lick ice chips. When my husband got home, I shared with him my observations of how weakened she is. He tried to coax her to eat. She turned her head, locking her mouth. At dinner time, I had leftover mashed potatoes. Phil scooped a few bites of mashed potatoes on a spoon, and Shasta opened her mouth to eat – a bit.

Later, I noticed her blankets were soiled, so I placed fresh towels around a pillow so she could rest comfortably in the breakfast room. We managed to get her to drink ice chips again, deciding to leave her alone for the evening.

This morning, Shasta went outside to potty, flopping down in exhaustion. I’ve spoken to the vet’s office and this was anticipated. They reassured me we are giving her the proper care and this too shall pass — just like it did with the first dosage. Gathering all of her blankets and bedding to wash them, I placed a pillow inside a plastic container, a nice red blanket over it (her favorite) and I have Shasta resting next to me while I write and do laundry. Frustrated that she would not eat or drink again, I gave her ice chips. She locked her mouth down once again.

Earlier, for lunch, I decided I didn’t want to prepare anything time-consuming, so I made a fresh smoothie with bananas, yogurt, blueberries and strawberries. Shadow, my youngest, and most energetic giant schnauzer, loves yogurt. While I attempted to drink my smoothie, Shadow whined for his share. I poured a small amount into a bowl and he consumed it in moments. Now that he is outside, I decided to see if Shasta would drink a bit of smoothie. Pouring just enough to barely cover the bottom of the small bowl, I am pleased to announce, Shasta licked every bit of it and she is a bit more energetic now. Suppose it could be due to the storm and thunder brewing outside, but I suspect she is feeling just a tad better.

Her nose is almost healed now, but I cannot help wondering — when an animal gets sick from medications that they must have, should we administer them? I suppose I am questioning the ‘quality of life’ for now…and I do feel a bit of guilt while recognizing that I was the one who gave her the pills that have weakened her tiny body so much. She looks up at me with weakened eyes that cannot see me since she is blind now and can only see bright shadows. It breaks my heart to see her so weak and I have prayed that God is guiding me to care for her properly.

For today, she is enjoying her smoothie. If she wants more, you must believe her mommy will make certain she gets another one. We rescued Shasta in June 2005. She has blessed our lives with her sassy little demeanor and energy.

Looks like I must cut this short. It is lightning outside. I must cut the computer off. I will share more updates about our sweet little “Shasta Daisy Shampagne…She is white, like a Shasta daisy…bubbly like champagne. Such a little princess. At the moment, she holds her head high. Shakespeare, our oldest schnauzer that must snoop his nose into everything, is sniffing at her, making certain all is AOK.

More later, Readers — after the brewing storm!

Cletus Has a New Home

Dearest Readers:

I am pleased to announce my little foster child, Sweet little, Cleet, Cleet, has a new home. Tomorrow morning I will take him to his new home. He has been such an interesting little character, and he has taught me much about acceptance, trust, gentleness and kindness. After he came into our lives in October, 2012, I felt like such a failure when he refused to come to me…how his eyes quickly glanced away when I touched him, how he jumped away to get away from me when I simply reached to touch him. One week after arriving here, as you will remember, he ran away and was gone for three weeks.

Since his return, I’ve seen a new Cletus. Still skittish, at first, he stopped playing the game of here we go around the table and chairs again. Instead, he would slide down, allowing me or my husband to pick him up.

Today is our final day together. Yes, I’ve cried. I’ve grown to love this beautiful, gentle and sweet, little guy, and I do believe, he’s grown to love me, as he showed on one occasion when he jumped up to touch my leg, wanting me closer to him.

Like all things in life, we have to grow, to accept the things we cannot change. Cletus was my foster child. When he needed someone to accept and love him the most, he came into our lives and our home. Here, he has learned to play with other dogs, and to cuddle up next to Shadow, Shakespeare and Sandy. No doubt all of them have communicated. Perhaps that is why he has responded to me recently.

Tomorrow, he will have a new home. I am certain he will see that there are humans who will accept and love him, not because he was a stud, or because he was so mistreated….they will love him because he is easy to love. When he came to us, he was frightened. Now, he’s learned to trust.

I wish his new parents the best. Fortunately, they have a puppy family member at their house. It will be easier for Cletus to adjust with another animal to sniff, play with and communicate with. Animals do communicate. How I’d love to know what my little crew has told Cleet…Cleet. I do believe it’s been positive doggy talks as they shared how we love and spoil each and every member of our Schnauzer and Maltese family.

Cletus, go with love, knowing only good things are coming your way. Never will you have food thrown at you, ugly words shouted at you, and water splashed in your face to make you move to the next ‘stud puppy’ environment. Your life is changing to a happy life. Go with my love and best wishes for your happiness, Cletus. I wish you more “Happy Tails!”

What Is An Animal Communicator

Six weeks ago a new foster baby was brought into our home…a frightened, sandy blonde and cream-colored mini-Schnauzer, Maltese mix named Cletus. Riding home in the car with my friend, Lyn, another foster parent, I held little Cleet…Cleet in my lap. Each time I touched him, he cringed. He would not look at me. His eyes shared such a dreadful fear that I wanted to hold him closer, and when I tried, his horrified little body trembled. It was easy to see, Little Cleet…Cleet had been mistreated, abused and never cared for like animals deserve.

Arriving home that Saturday afternoon, he sniffed at our animals, Shakespeare, Sandy Bear, Shadow and Shasta. He rushed outside, watching us to see if we were coming after him. When I moved my arms out to pick him so he could come inside, he darted away. My husband watched him. “This little guy has been beaten,” he said. Cletus had such sadness in his eyes. Looking at him I wanted to scream at the person who had been so abusive to him, but I could not. Cletus had been removed from a puppy mill, emaciated, sick, covered with fleas and an eye infection. The infection was so bad the veterinarian caring for him was afraid he would lose his sight. Thanks to the loving care of the veterinarian’s office his eye sight was saved, but nothing could treat or remove the sadness those beautiful brown eyes expressed. Every day was a challenge with Cletus. I was told by the vets office that he might not eat around people, but in the dark of night, he would eat every bite, wanting more.

Week one of caring for Cletus was a challenge. That Saturday morning, I let the dogs outside early knowing my husband and I were scheduled to pick up another foster that afternoon. I poured a cup of coffee and went outside to get the dogs. All of our family of schnauzers and a Maltese rushed inside. I looked for Cletus. He was nowhere to be found. It was 7:30 in the morning. I had to get dressed and leave to drive to Charlotte. My heart ached for Cletus. I looked in every corner of the back yard. The shed door was open, so I rushed inside. No sign of him. I noticed a hole, freshly dug. My heart stopped. Cletus had escaped. I rushed outside, “Here Cletus…come here baby…” but I knew he would not respond. Cletus had made the decision to make his own life, away from humans. After all, in his little world, humans were mean…abusive, and they hurt him. He was taking a stand to his independence. He wanted freedom!

That afternoon we had another foster to add to our little family. We had fostered him before, so when he walked inside the house, he rushed to the water bowl and the toy box. Noting how familiar he was with us, I phoned Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas, to report that our new foster, Hank, was home…and I had some bad news to report. Tears filled my eyes as I told the director that little Cletus ran away. We called Mt. Pleasant Animal Control, but they were closed. A report was filed, but nothing could be done until Monday. 24 Pet Watch was called since Cletus was micro-chipped. The animal shelter was called. I made flyers, posting them within a five-mile radius of Mt. Pleasant. I felt so guilty. I have never lost an animal before.  The independence of Cletus was teaching me a lot about what to do when an animal is lost.

For years, I have been an advocate for animals, especially abused, neglected, mistreated animals. In 2001, I was introduced to a giant schnauzer at a rescue center. He was scheduled to be euthanized because every time someone was interested in adopting him, they stopped the process because he growled. Meeting this giant beauty in June 2001, I moved closer to him. He growled at me. I moved closer, huddling on the floor to get to his level. Surprisingly, he moved closer and stuck out his paw, as if to say “Pet me.” My heart melted. Thus began my interest in rescuing schnauzers.

For 11 years, Prince Marmaduke Shamus touched my life. The day I adopted him I took off his leash in the foyer. Although he was not familiar with the surroundings of his new home, he marched into the hall, rushed towards the master bedroom, plopping his body down in the shower stall. When I found him, he wagged his tail, as if he was saying, “I’m home. This is my new bedroom.” We lost Shamey-Pooh on May 2, 2012, after a terminal diagnosis and illness. Words cannot express how empty I have felt since his passing.

My giant Shamey-Pooh taught me so much about rescuing animals and how to treat them. Now I am a volunteer foster for Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas. My life is blessed with richness when I see these scared little animals grow with love and trust with us. When they leave, I share a tear, knowing we have done our job well and a new home will be blessed with their new baby.

On Sunday, I received phone calls from neighbors saying they saw the little lost dog. He was on King Street. Next report was McCants Drive by Mt. Pleasant First Baptist Church. I searched. I walked. Deciding it might be easier to find him if I walked with my dogs while searching, I added Shadow and Shakespeare to the search, finding nothing. At night, I placed food and water on the front porch, hoping Cletus would find the scent of food and Shakespeare and Shadow and come back.

A few days later, Schnauzer Rescue suggested an animal communicator. I was totally unfamiliar with an animal communicator, but I wanted to find Cletus.  An animal communicator was located and would assist SRC pro bono. Phoning Karen, the animal communicator, she spoke with kindness and compassion, telling me not to blame myself. Funny, she was picking up on my vibes, just speaking with me. She encouraged me to send a bit of history about Cletus in an e-mail. She would review it and phone me at 5pm today.  I shared the history and photograph: Cletus is  14 lbs, a Schnauzer/Maltese Mix, and is missing. He is VERY timid, has been abused, and will run if frightened. He has never bitten but will growl if frightened. Speaking to him in a comforting voice and approaching from his level is the best approach with him.

I did a bit of research. According to the website,

1. “Be Present, Calm and Emotionally Peaceful

The first step to communicating with any animal is to quiet your mind, relax and be fully present in the moment. Many people find it helpful to get themselves grounded by closing their eyes and gently focusing on their breath. Take a few deep breaths, relax, breathe normally and when you feel calm and present, begin.

2. Be Open and Receptive

Having an open heart and mind, free of judgments or attachments, is essential to receiving messages clearly and accurately from animals. It is important to recognize that all animals are sentient beings with intelligence, emotions and awareness, and when we are open to receiving their wisdom, there is much we can learn from them. Animal communication is not something to ‘try’ to do. It is something we allow to happen. Being open and receptive to whatever comes, in whatever way the information comes to you, will foster greater opening of your intuitive abilities and your ability to receive and transmit messages will expand and grow with practice.”

On the phone Karen shared how animal communicators use universal language, sometimes clairvoyant. The information comes in the form of pictures, stories, feelings, emotions, information. The communicator may get quiet for a few minutes to get the information soul to soul, an element of translation, If something is confusing or untrue, give her feedback. When quiet, be patient.

For hours I anticipated the phone call. Is Cletus still alive? What if this doesn’t work…what if he refuses to communicate with her?

The phone rang at exactly 5pm. She explained in detail what she would do. Then, she became quiet. I listened.

“Cletus took a talkative route from the front yard, took a turn to the right, walking along sidewalks. He said he was a bit curious; wanting to know what was out there. Cletus stated he isn’t doing so good. He’s confused. Lost. Curious as to what was out there, he walked on sidewalks. After two blocks, he ran from a boy. (I believe this was the boy who phoned me on Sunday at 4pm, telling me he saw Cletus at 3pm.) Now, Cletus says he is so lost. He is sleeping and hiding in shrubs, against a building.

Cletus showed her a big yard, or maybe a park with a bunch of grass. There are lots of trees, grass, kids. He hears machinery, maybe a lawnmower around. Maybe a groundskeeper doing yard work.” This could be Mt. Pleasant First Baptist Church!

Karen continued: “He hears voices. He says he’d like to go back. He said his curious nose got him in trouble because he smelled things and was so curious and ran away. He was a bit surprised that people are looking for him.” I encouraged her to share with him that we’ve posted flyers with his picture all over the area. He said he will look for them and he appeared a bit surprised/touched that we are looking for him. He liked the house, the people, and the other dogs, but he was so afraid. He said, “the people cared about me. The other dogs were teaching me, and I was watching all their actions.” He also said he really liked Sandy Bear.

Karen became quiet again. A few moments later, she said: “The big yard is mowed and immaculate. Kids were around earlier but they aren’t now. There is a little building around and a stream or a creek. He hears noises. Kids laughing, but he’s hiding in the bushes. He stated he has eaten. He found a sack with food in it. He ate a little. He found water from something dripping.” I asked her to tell him his foster mom is placing food out by the front porch of the house and other places so if he is hungry, come back.

We were encouraged to be flexible, when looking for him. If he runs, we might consider using a trap. The problem is I don’t know where to place the trap. I’ve placed a bag of food in the shrubs by the church. This morning, I did not see Cletus and no one I approached has seen him.

Karen stated that animals are visual. They see things as a movie camera in their heads. She encouraged me to get a leash (I have one in my bag when walking, searching for him). Let the dogs take me by leading the way. Each time I walk I use the command, “Let’s go find Cletus.” This morning, my dogs were searching in the shrubs with me. Obviously, my dogs understand what I expressed. Karen encouraged me to be open with my dreams. I mentioned that I have visions and fully believe in what she does. It was an amazing experience speaking with an animal communicator. If you lose an animal you might consider contacting one.

A week passed. Something was eating the food at night-time. Perhaps Cletus was coming back, just to eat.  Another week passed. I stopped receiving phone calls from neighbors, although they were still looking. One neighbor asked for some of my flyers. She delivered them to grocery stores, hardware stores and community bulletin boards.

Every morning the food bowl was empty, but no sight of Cletus. I was losing faith. During this time I was sick with bronchial asthma. I was so weak, I could not walk the dogs or search in the community. Much to my surprise, we received a phone message while away. I didn’t have my cell phone with me, so I didn’t get the message on my phone until returning home. Phil’s cell rang, Mt. Pleasant Animal Control had found Cletus — three blocks away from our home. He found shelter in a woman’s yard. She left the gate open and Cletus rushed into the back yard. For three days he refused to leave her yard. She fed him and called Mt. Pleasant Animal Control. When animal control came to the house, we weren’t home, but our neighbor saw them, rushing outside. Cletus was inside a trap, emaciated and hungry. She agreed to keep him until we got home.

The joy and relief I discovered when we got home was priceless. Cletus looked up at us, allowing us to pick him up. Cletus was home. Emaciated, dirty, but home! All to the credit of an animal communicator named Karen, Mt. Pleasant Animal Control, my wonderful neighbor, and the precious little lady who allowed him to stay for three days in her back yard.

With each day, we see a bit of improvement with Cletus. He doesn’t come to us willingly — yet, but we are hopeful that with our love and kindness, Cletus will grow into a trusting little guy deserving of love from humans, not abuse. He doesn’t want to go outside now, in the dark of night. Perhaps he is discovering that home is a special place, filled with love and kindness. Welcome home, little Cleet…Cleet!