Friday, January 3, 2014

Beginning Again...

My husband gave me a Garmin for Christmas.
The very one I wanted. 

Layla and I took the month of December off because I was whining about how cold it was outside.  
Enough of that nonsense.  

My husband gave me this Garmin because he loves me, and he knows I love to run. 
He could honestly care less whether or not I run, but he knows it makes me happy. 
Smart guy, right?

I signed back up for the 5K program that I didn't finish this fall.
I hurt my neck and got so behind that I just dropped out.  
My chiropracter is ready, and so is Layla.
First training run is Tuesday night!! 

Let's get it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Short Leash by Janice Gary - TLC Book Review

Short Leash by Janice Gary

Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Michigan State University Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2013)

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy of Short Leash from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Why? Short Leash has my name written all over it.  This one was a no-brainer for me. 

What Now?
Just as I did with Following Atticus, I'll loan my copy of Short Leash to my friend Murray so that she can be touched by Barney's life and experience Gary's strength.  Then, Short Leash will be tucked away into the antique desk where my special books live behind the glass windows.

Golden Lines

We continue down the road, Barney's ears flapping in the breeze, a big smile plastered across his face.  It's odd, but walking into this wind - plowing through it head-on instead of cowering before it - I feel something warm and certain stirring in the deepest part of my being. (15)

He brings me back to the present, back to earth, which is a good thing for a person who has trouble staying grounded. (35)

Maybe it's time to see myself as clearly as I see my dog.  Perhaps it's possible to be inherently flawed and still have a decent life. (73)

I've spent three-quarters of my life worrying about what will happen in the future, and three-quarters of that has never happened. (109)

I think back to Dr. Kummel's words, "He's only trying to protect you."  Maybe my fear has been triggering his aggression all these years. (164)

This is America.  As a woman, I can drive a car, hold a job, divorce a husband if he abandons me, and take a lover without fearing for my life.  But I cannot walk into the woods or even down a city street with the same confidence as a man. (178)

I am not good at this "being present" stuff.   I can only stay in the moment for a few seconds at a time.  But in this moment, I am here with my dog.  And for now, that's enough. (200)

Barney and I have found our way through this park by placing one foot and one paw in front of another.  These three hundred and thirty-three acres have been our wilderness, our wildness, as Thoreau would say, unexplored territory whose treasures could only be found by walking into the unknown. (209)

With alarming clarity I realize that I haven't just been walking with Barney all this time, I've been fighting.  The park has been my battleground, the rain, the wind, the ice, my honorable foes.  Not letting excuses win, not giving in to willful weakness, not heeding the voices that have said, "It's too hot, too cold, you're too tired," has built something in me I didn't know I had - determination, a strong heart.  Clear intention. (215)

Summary from Amazon

"It's hard to believe that a walk in the park can change a life - let alone two - but for Janice Gary and her dog Barney, that's exactly what happened.
Gary relied on dogs to help her feel safe when walking on her own ever since being attacked on the streets of Berkeley as a young woman. This solution worked well for years until her canine companion passed on. Grieving, and without the benefit of a guardian, she encounters a stray Lab-Rottweiler puppy in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot and falls for his goofy smile and sweet nature. With his biscuit-sized paws, Barney promises to grow into her biggest protector yet. But fate intervenes when Barney is viciously attacked by another dog just before his first birthday. From that time on, he becomes dog-aggressive. Walking anywhere with Barney is difficult. But for Gary, walking without him is impossible.
It's only when she risks taking him to a local park that both of their lives change forever. There, Janice faces her deepest fears and discovers the grace of the natural world, the power of love and the potency of her own strengths. And Barney no longer feels the need to attack other dogs. Beautifully written, Short Leash is a moving tale of love and loss, the journey of two broken souls finding their way toward wholeness."

What I Liked

Gary's mixture of psychology, feminism, recovery, theology, biology, canine behavior, and life.

Her words and her honesty - Gary's voice is here; I feel like I know her deeply from reading Short Leash.

The lyrical writing - I wanted to read slowly, just to experience the flow of Gary's words, to see what she saw, think as she thought and then to put it all back together again.

Barney - I'm a dog lover, so I easily forgave him for his shortcomings just as Gary did.  

What I Didn't Like

Nada.  While I'm not typically a re-reader, Short Leash is a book that I might very well revisit just for the experience.

Overall Recommendation

Anyone who has ever rescued/loved an animal and has been rescued/loved right back will enjoy Short Leash. 

The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, December 16th:  Book Club Classics!
Monday, December 16th:  Shelf Pleasure – author guest post
Tuesday, December 17th:  The Book Wheel
Wednesday, December 18th:  BookNAround
Thursday, December 19th:  Bound By Words
Friday, December 20th:  Dog Spelled Forward
Monday, December 23rd:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, December 26th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, December 30th:  Bookchickdi
Thursday, January 2nd:  Peppermint Ph.D.
Monday, January 6th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, January 7th:  Teena in Toronto
Wednesday, January 8th:  Bibliotica
Thursday, January 9th:  Book-alicious Mama
Friday, January 10th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, January 13th:  Book Dilettante
Tuesday, January 14th:  My Bookshelf
Wednesday, January 15th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, January 16th:  Suko’s Notebook

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Day of Firsts

I'm reading Short Leash today...which I'll review tomorrow...and trying not to get overwhelmed by all the "plans" I've made. 

When Layla was a pup, I took her training very seriously. 
I learned the hard way a couple of times what life is like with an untrained dog who is bigger than me.
I consider those precious animal failures mine, not the dogs.  
Both of those animals went on to live happy healthy lives with other owners.  

From day 1, Layla and I walked.  She learned what a leash was, where to walk, basic voice commands, etc.  In return, I gained a quiet friend who called my attention to the world around me.  

When I started running, she, of course, ran with me.  
But, I found myself sometimes getting frustrated with her because she would pull or step in front of me.  
She was busy taking in the scenery while I was fighting for air :P 

Since my husband's stent placement, he has walked her several times for his own health.  
I've watched her develop a relationship with him that they've never had before...and I want that back.

As I move forward into 2014, Layla and I are going to walk again.
I'm still running...and she can still go with me...but our walks are going to be sacred again.

So we can both stop and smell the roses :) 

Monday, December 30, 2013


The above photo shows the contents of my stocking I received at my mom's tonight.
Yes, we're still having Christmas.
No, we're still not done...we're having Christmas dinner at my husband's family home tomorrow night and then in a couple of weeks, still another smaller Christmas lunch with my January. 
Christmas in January.
Who knew?

For the last several weeks, I've been a slug.  
I've eaten white sugar, flour, cookies, chocolate, cake, and even a McDonalds french fry or two.  
And, maybe, possibly a little alcohol :p

What I have not done is run...or walk for that matter. 
Yes, you remember correctly that I'm signed up to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon.
Yes, you also remembered correctly that I'm supposed to be in training.

2 days ago I almost cancelled my registration.
But, then I decided I wouldn't give myself an easy out.  
I will run/walk the 1/2 marathon if it kills me...and I will finish. 

Tomorrow is my last hoorah...and Wednesday begins the detox and getting back on track.  
The real problem of the moment, however, is how to get all my stocking candy eaten before detox beings.
Just kidding...well, maybe.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Webcams and Doggie Hotels

I've become one of these people.

I usually leave my Layla at the vet when we're away.  
Of course, like every other dog on the planet, Layla associates the vet with pain, shots, scary stuff, and scary smells.  
My 90 lb. German Shepherd turns into a Chihuahua when we enter the parking lot at the vet.  
Her entire body quakes, and I have to use my calm controlled commands, which she obeys even though she's about to toss her cookies.  

My oldest daughter is working at a pet hotel close to our home so I decided to give them a try for a quick trip to  my mom's.  

Yes, I got the did you know?

At first, I really liked the webcam idea.
Layla was still very nervous when we left...the other dogs were barking like crazy.
I felt so much better after we drove away when my daughter logged in to the site and pulled our girl's webcam up.  
She had settled down and seemed to be resting comfortably.

Here's the bad part of the webcam.
We can't stop watching. 

Every funny move she makes, we wonder if she's breathing ok.

Every time she looks around with those sad, brown, beautiful German Shepherd eyes, we say she's depressed.

When the light hit the floor in a funny way, we wondered if she had gotten sick.

She has a raised bed in her crate, but Layla's used to sleeping in a king-sized bed :p 
My daughter called this afternoon to ask the workers to put an extra blanket in Layla's crate so that if she never got on the bed, she wouldn't have to sleep on the hard, cold floor.  

Yes, we have become those people.