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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vacation report

We are going into our third week here in Florida. Monday I go back to work online with two courses and I am looking forward to it. My classes are interactive and I enjoy talking with my students.

I have been doing a whole lot of knitting and some sewing. The sewing is a dress I will post pictures of, but to be really honest I have sort of downshifted right now and getting that organized is not something I am going to get to today. 

The knitting is a sweater for my youngest son. I am in the search for a generic knit in the round pattern I can adjust to different folks and basic stitch patterns and this was a version of that. Sort of a knitting TNT. Not sure if I am there with this one. 

I got it into my head that since he is tall and slim I should make a long thin sweater but I may of overdone it. We will see when I get home. If it doesn't fit him it may fit Lowly Worm, an entity that Richard Scary readers will recognize:

The other thing I have been doing has been therapeutic.

I am a big walker. I should have self-identified that with the last shoe post. If you can't walk in it, it is of no use to me.

When I first got here I went on my usual morning beach walk along the route Mr. R and I used to take. 

I also did my annual thinking and at one point that even included serious consideration of going to a place here called The Electric Chair and getting Rascal tattooed on my wrist. 

But then I figured that wouldn't be fair to the other dogs that proceeded him, and then how could I do the dogs and not the grandkids, and then there was the love of my life, and my children and by the time I figured I would be a 60 year old with sleeves I decided to pull myself back over the saner part of the line.

And my feet took me one morning past the local shelter that takes in animals other shelters were about to put down.

I decided me walking by myself every morning was the waste of a good dog walker. So every morning since I spend about two hours walking dogs from the shelter.

I really enjoy it a lot.

My own dogs have always been of the purebred carefully cared for type and I have had my eyes opened here. There are some terrible stories. I am not taking my husband with me because he is a sweet soft-hearted man and would be teary at what some people have done in a few of the situations. I have worked for politicians and am of course better prepared for this kind of stuff.

The thing is that even with a few bad stories there are not bad dogs. Overwhelmingly these are lovely, lovely dogs and being in contact with them, walking them as opposed to just looking at them in the pen where no one would be at their best, I have let lose of some of my preconceived ideas on refuge animals.

These would be:

  • You don't know what you are getting. Actually neither do you with any dog but with the dogs that are a little older than puppies, - teens, adults and even seniors, you do know exactly what you are getting, particularly if you spend some time walking and getting to know the dog.
  • These dogs have behavioural problems. Actually few of them seem to. You have to remember that in many cases these were pets that were owner surrendered because of non animal issues - the owner died, got sick, or had to move away from a pet friendly housing situation. These dogs are trained, loving, and ready to fit into a home.
Of course the puppies are more adoptable but the older dogs are wonderful and many have 3/4 of their lives ahead of them and have the advantage of already being trained and socialized.

If I could I would write a few new cards on some of the pens if I had a chance. This is what they would read.

My name is Vanessa. My owner passed away and when I came here I was despondent. Wouldn't even move. However after some attention I got my perk back. All I want is to go around the block once a day and spend the rest of the time smiling and watching you.

My name is Arthur. I am two and lived on the streets and then in shelters my whole life. I should be a mess but I am not. I am calm and happy, cheerful and sturdy. I am an optimist.

It gives me a lift every day to see these guys.

Project photos later.


Anonymous said...

We have a dog from that kind of background and she is lovely except that certain things frighten her terribly, even after a couple of years with us.....so as we learn of them we avoid those stressors or set up some kind of relief to try to spare her or console her. Its so worth it and wonderful to have a dog companion on your walks.

are you considering taking a dog home with you I wonder?


birdmommy said...

My MIL volunteers at a shelter during her winters in Florida. They seem to be OK with the fact that she is only going to be available part of the year. On the other hand her 'local' shelter (in Central Ontario) only wants volunteers who 'are making a long term commitment'. I get that some animals may be stressed by dealing with new caregivers all the time, but it seems a shame that they don't seem to want her help. I do wonder if it's because high schools here require a certain number of hours of community service, so they get all the temporary help they could ever ask for?

annie said...

Our beloved Ollie is a short-legged Jack Russell. We only know a bit about his past. Lived for 9 1/2 years with someone. Was sent to a shelter and probably fostered. Adopted by a woman who kept him for a week and found she couldn't manage him. (He's a terrier, for gods sakes.) Gave him to a neighbor who kept him for three months but was moving and couldn't take him with her. By some very strange maneuvers he came to live with us on 27 December 2012. I truly do not know what we would do without him. The most precious, best-behaved dog you could wish for. Now my deepest concern, since he more than 12 years old, is what I shall do when he crosses the rainbow bridge. Shelter dogs are like any others and just sometimes sweeter.

TinaLou said...

I love your walking mission - win-win! Would you be able to post Vanessa and Arthur's - and others - photos as well? I for one would consider long-distance adoption for the right pet, but that comes with the disadvantage of not having a chance to get to know the animal, like you have so generously done here. Enjoy the sunshine; we're back to old man winter here in the Northeast!

Jane M said...

Bravo, bravo to you for your kindness. "Lucky the rescue dog" (his full name) was left in our local Florida dogpark three+ years ago and we are sure there was a sad health or economic situation behind that. He is the best dog imaginable and has taught me that my next dog will be a rescue as well. You are so right, you can tell so much in just an hour or two with a dog. We met with a pet sitter yesterday so she could introduce Lucky to her small pack and yup, they all had their personalities.

lsaspacey said...

I have a feeling the shelter might welcome your new kennel cards especially since you are getting to know each dog's personality. Perhaps your cards could be in addition to the ones that they have?

Deb Fox said...

I know the shelter you are talking about! I got my precious little Corgi mix from them in November. They do amazing work. I reposted a picture of little Vanessa on my FB page last week to help find her a forever home...how wonderful that they have you to help them walk those precious babies. Bless you!

Janet said...

I am doggie all the way. I think you really should write new cards for the pups in the shelter, no, really!
Thanks for the post.

Jodie said...

Barb you sound better. I love your "lowly worm" sweater story...it will be interesting to see how it turns out.
We have a rescue dog and love her. Got her as a puppy but I'm thinking seriously of adding one more - or another when she leaves us. I love your dog walking stories - and the cards for their pens.
Stay well and enjoy the sun, not much of that up here in Alberta.

Lydia March said...

I grew up in a house that was always filled with a dog, or two, or three. My mother the perpetual softie could never turn away a stray. As an adult I've never been able to have a dog as I always seem to live where the landlords don't allow dogs. So I've had to be an auntie to many a dog. I've attached myself to dogs with owners who were too old to walk them as much as their doggie would like. But I always felt like I was getting the best part of the bargain. There's something very therapeutic about dog walking. After many a walk I found myself feeling like I was the one who was walked and not the other way around.

Nancy said...

What a good idea; I'll second the bravos on your kindness. And I'm so glad that you've discovered what we've long known about shelter dogs and strays--they are no more likely to be a problem than any other dog, in spite of what they may have endured. (Sometimes I think those that have lived without kindness love us even more once they are given it.)

Fashionista said...

Our little wire haired Jack Russell Scruffy is from the RSPCA and he is a darling, such a part of our family. Of course he has baggage (separation anxiety mostly) but he loves us and we love him. I am a fan of getting your dog from a shelter, they seem to be so grateful for the second chance. Enjoy your dog walking!

Jean W. said...

Thank you for walking the dogs. We, too, lost our beloved older dog this past Christmas. By February we missed having a pet too much-I love walking as well and needed a companion. So, we have taken in our second shelter dog. I know she will bring as much joy and love to our family as our late dog. I can wholeheartedly recommend a shelter dog as a pet. And I am so sorry for the loss of Mr. R.

Tracey said...

My daughter walks dogs from the stray rescue organization in St Louis. Even after she adopted one of the dogs she continues to be an enrichment buddy for one particular dog. Thank you for getting involved with the shelter dogs - they are wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Please send pictures of the dogs, too, won't you? How wonderful for both them and you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the idea of you writing cards for the dogs is such a good idea.

Meegan said...

Can't think of a better way for you to start out your day. Shelter dogs are so remarkable in their sheer joy of life - even when they may have been so poorly treated, It's uplifting to be around. I hope you get to re-write their dog bios too.

Anonymous said...

We have a doggy adopted from a rescue group in Clearwater. She was found in a field with 5 puppies and all were sick.
She was(the Vet estimated) just a little past one year old. We brought her home, cleaned her up, nursed her back to health and she has adores us. She's a little black and gray Cairn named Cricket! and needless to say, she now owns the place and lets us live here! Love your stories and sense of humor....if you're ever down in Sarasota, would love to meet you! Liz

Anonymous said...

I think what you are doing is wonderful! I help out sometimes at our local shelter and also live with five cats, two of which had two homes before they came to live with us, after the latest owners unsuccessfully tried to surrender them to all their local shelters.

What gets me every time is not the younger animals, who don't know any different from the shelter. It's the older ones, who have learnt how to interact with humans and clearly crave that contact but find themselves in a pen, most of the time through no fault of their own.

Happy walkies!!! :)

Stef The Longtime Lurker(*) From The UK

* Should probably say Lurcher today ;)