Keeping Up with the Times

This week, I finally got my first ever smart phone. I haven't had one before because I work from home, so I haven't felt much of a need for one. But there have been more and more times when I wished I had one, like when I'm shopping for dog treats or moisturizer or running shoes and would love to look up a review to see which kind to buy. Or if I go somewhere new and want to look up a restaurant on Yelp. I was getting a smart phone for my daughter, and it was only $10/month more to get one for myself, so I figured what the heck.

My technological advancement made me realize I needed to keep up with the times in other ways, too. I figured it's time to stop struggling to update this blog, which is a struggle I've pretty much given up on. Unfortunately, Facebook has taken over, and it's rare that I enter the blogosphere these days. Although I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, I think I've learned to make it palatable for myself by limiting most of my news feed to dog-related posts. I don't want to hear about people's political or religious views, or know what they're listening to on Spotify, or how many times they've given life in Candy Saga Farm Crush. But I do like pictures of and stories about dogs and keeping up with my local animal shelter's updates, as well as other animal rescue organizations.

So, I started a Facebook page for Cabana, mostly so I can have a place to record what's going on in her life and post photos that I've taken. (In addition to the smart phone, I also got a new camera this week. It was an expensive week.)

I hope you'll follow along if you feel like it. I'm not saying I'll never post to this blog again--I would feel sad to let it go all together. But I will definitely be updating Cabana's Facebook page on a MUCH more regular basis.

Click here for the link! Please "like" the page to see posts in your news feed.


Feeling Thankful

A couple weeks ago, we had our family Christmas card photos taken by our wonderfully gifted friends, Bill and Nat, from Photo Lab Pet Photography. They used Cabana in a photo shoot a while back for a dog product website they were building. In past years, we've always taken our Christmas card photos ourselves, either utilizing the self-timer or just Photoshopping myself or whichever other family member took the photo into the best overall shot. Usually, I can pull something decent off, but last year, the final result was hodge-podgey, dark, and slightly embarrassing. So I decided back then, come heck or high water, I would have Bill and Nat take our photos the following year. As you can see from this photo, there is absolutely NO COMPARISON between their results and my feeble ones. They know exactly where to go for beautiful backgrounds, how to get Cabana (and the rest of us) to look in the right direction (although she is a very eager model, especially when treats are involved). They have a stellar eye for capturing the right second and the right light. And sure, they have expensive professional equipment. This photo was a sneak peek, so I'm still waiting with baited breath to see the rest of them!

Four years ago at Thanksgiving, Cabana was career changed. I remember being in Los Angeles at my sister's house when we got the surprising yet expected news. It sent me into such a quandary about whether to keep Cabana as our pet or allow Guide Dogs for the Blind to place her with someone else. Had we decided not to keep her, my life would look completely different today. It almost scares me to think how different. Without Cabana, I would not have become involved with my local shelter, I would not have even half the friends I now enjoy, I would not have my wonderful Etsy business, and I would not have a soft yellow toe warmer lying at my feet as I type this. My life is more successful, more fulfilled, more balanced, and more enjoyable. There's not an area in my life that hasn't been permeated by Cabana's presence, all changes that have resulted in GOOD.

Yep, I'm thankful today, thankful for everyday I get to spend with this beautiful dog.


Happy 5th Birthday, Cabana!

It's hard to believe, but today, Cabana turned 5! She is doing really well, very healthy, still her sweet albeit somewhat aloof self. Her favorite things are eating, eating, and eating. Unfortunately, her weight has crept up a pound or two, but we are working on bringing it back down (story of my own life). We still walk to the park on a regular basis, where she meets up with her friends. Lately, Cabana has gotten finicky about who she will play with. There are certain dogs she loves to romp with and other dogs she will bark at to say "bugger off".

One new friend is Molly, a 10-month old black lab mix. It surprised me that Cabana was willing to play with Molly, since Molly still has that crazy puppy energy and can be a bit "in your face", as seen here as she tries to kiss Cabana. But every morning at the park, Molly greets Cabana like a long lost friend, and they run and romp, which Molly would probably do with any dog, but it's surprising for Cabana.

A week ago, a nearby lake had a dog swim event. They enclosed the lake with netting and allowed only dogs, no humans, in the water. When we first arrived, it was like a kid's first trip to Disneyland (for most kids other than my own who have never liked Disneyland, but I digress). Cabana could not WAIT to get inside the enclosed area. Dogs to meet, smells to sniff, water to splash in, oh my goodness, what to do first!!

Because the lake was completely enclosed, unlike our dog park, I had the freedom to just let Cabana WANDER. You may recall from previous posts (back when I used to post with regularity) that Cabana has that propensity. She is NOT a velcro dog that stays by your side. At the park, I have to call her back to me constantly, or she would end up in Timbuktu. The lake was quite small, and I could easily see the whole area, so I decided to do an experiment to see how long it would take Cabana to realize she was "on her own". Well, the event would have ended at 5pm, and it was 10am when we got there. It's only a slight exaggeration to say it might have taken Cabana the whole day before she missed me. Maybe dinnertime might have made her think, "Where's mom?" I could see Cabana circling the lake, stopping to meet people and dogs here and there, going in and out of the water, happy go lucky, not a care in the world. Not a single thought of where her beloved human might be. After about 15-20 minutes, I used my whistle to call her. I have a special signal for her--one blow, a pause, then three short staccato blows in quick succession.

From across the lake, I could see Cabana's head go up, her ears alert, and she RAN full speed to find me. Maybe she did miss me at least a little after all.

The absolute best part of the outing was that Cabana actually SWAM. She has always loved the water, but she has never really willingly gone into deep water and doggy paddled. Until now! Maybe it was the nice gradual descent into the water, maybe it was seeing all the other dogs doing it. Maybe she finally, at 5-years old, realized she's a lab and is supposed to swim. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I know, Cabana's not really old, but you know what I mean.

Happy birthday, dear Cubby. You are the best dog ever, and I love you more with each passing year.


Wordless Wednesday - Sun Stream


Wordless Wednesday - Trio of Adorableness


Cabana the Canine Educator

Our shelter has a wonderful Humane Education program, where human/canine teams are invited to local schools to provide animal-related lessons to students ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade. I had Cabana take the Canine Good Citizen test last year so that she would be eligible to participate. There are a total of 10 different lessons, geared for various age groups, which teach kids about caring for and respecting animals, and how they contribute to our lives and to society.

The first lesson we participated in was a lesson called Best Friends, which teaches young students about how to safely greet a dog and how to help care for their pets.

Because younger students can sometimes be afraid of bigger dogs (although I consider Cabana rather medium-sized myself), we did the lesson with another team that included Bubbles, the cutest little tiny pug I've ever seen. The kids got to choose whether to brush Cabana or Bubbles. I was happy to see that the class ended up pretty equally divided in their selection. Cabana may be 5 times the size of Bubbles, but I don't think many kids could stay scared of her.

We did the same lesson a few weeks later for a Kindergarten class. There were a couple students that admitted to being scared of dogs in general. The teacher asked those children if they would be willing to sit near Cabana and Bubbles. Within a few minutes, the little boy sitting by Cabana became much more comfortable and even petted her throughout the lesson.

The director of the program asked me to design a dog safety poster, using the acrostic "L.A.S.T", which stands for Look, Ask, Show, Touch. I had my younger daughter to sketch a picture of a child looking at a dog and his owner. I scanned the picture and manipulated it in Illustrator to make this poster.

The last lesson we did was probably my favorite. It was called "Science in the Real World: Solving a Veterinary Mystery" and was presented to a 6th grade class by an actual veterinarian. He pretended to examine Cabana and gave the students clues about her "illness". He would ask me questions, and I would answer according to a script I had been given earlier. The students were also allowed to ask questions, and their job was to use their deductive reasoning skills to figure out which of four possible illnesses Cabana had.

The correct answer was heartworm! Blechh, thank goodness it wasn't real! I'm looking forward to future participation in the coming school year.


To Be Continued, I Promise!

Oh lordy, I've fallen off the blog wagon, but I intend to get back on! I met up with Becky and Cricket over the weekend, a friendship that came about through our blogs, and I was reminded of all the good things that have resulted from this blog. Plus, I had a few other reminders. A dog park friend said that Cabana was the nicest dog she'd ever met, and another said that at 4.5 years old, Cabana was in her prime. I thought, these are little things I want to remember. Time goes by so fast, and I may not remember this special time in my life and in Cabana's life if I don't record it on this blog. I know that Facebook has taken the place of blogging for many people, but I need to remember that this blog is first and foremost for ME. It's a record of Cabana's life, and I intend to keep blogging for the entirety of it.

A year or more ago, I vowed to start taking Cabana to the beach more often, my goal being like 10 times a year. Well, that didn't happen, BUT I did take Cabana there a couple days ago. It's a 30-minute drive there, 2 hours to leisurely walk the length of the beach and back, another 30-minute drive back, plus about an hour to bathe her (and myself) afterwards. It's a time commitment that I can't justify often, but I was glad to get to do it on Monday.

kelp mounds dot the sandy beach, four black dogs scattered about sniffing the mounds, with yellow Cabana among them
When we first arrived at the beach, we saw our old friends, the Blue Picardy Spaniels, arriving at the same time. Such a happy surprise! They haven't been coming to the dog park lately, so it had been almost a year since we'd seen them. Cabana recognized them right away, and they were excited to see her, too.

group of people in the distance by the water's edge with large group of dogs of all shapes and sizes
The Blue Pics are "regulars" at the beach--their breeder brings them 3 times a week. It was evident that there were other "regulars", too, gathering together to chat and let their dogs intermingle.

group is somewhat dispersed, as a large Great Pyrenees and a husky approach Cabana
Some of the regulars noticed Cabana and decided to come in for a closer sniff.

cabana encircled by three large dogs, sniffing her all over, she stands still with her ears back on her head
I could tell by Cabana's pinned-back ears that she was a little overwhelmed by the mass scrutiny, but she passed muster, as I knew she would.

The town of Dillon Beach is a tiny place. About 90% of it is pictured here. Would I like to live in one of those houses overlooking the ocean? If I had a spare $2 million, maybe--but it's so often foggy at the coast, so for that reason (and not because of the $2 million thing) I'll stay where I am.

cabana sniffing an overturned crab on the shore
Cabana spots a dead crab in the waves. I wonder if she knows that's what's in the crabcakes I often make. Cabana loves crabcakes, but then, what food doesn't Cabana love?

cabana tagging along after a woman holding a toddler in her arms
Cabana also loves babies, or at least, she loves the way they smell. Here she is, trying to be polite but get a good whiff of the baby at the same time.

cabana running through the water toward the camera, alongside mounds of kelp that run the length of the shore
It's funny how the kelp mounds together in little piles that dot the shore. I bet there's some scientific law of nature as to why it does this, like matter attracting matter. Kinda like how Cabana's fur gathers in little tufts under the kitchen table.

Cabana on things.

cabana in the ocean with two other dogs, she has an orange ball in her mouth
I didn't even know Cabana had momentarily stolen another dog's ball until I saw this photo! She's a sly one.

cabana's behind with her tail in a curl as she runs through the water away from the camera
We had a great time. I don't usually like butt shots, but it seems appropriate here. The end.


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