Thursday, June 2, 2011

Springtime in the Rockies

Ah Spring--my favorite season, other than fresh ripe tomatoes! Greg and I took advantage of the one nice day the weatherman has offered lately and visited the National Bison Range, a wildlife refuge an hour north of home. The especially rainy Spring has brought out wildflowers bigtime, especially the dramatic arrow-leafed balsamroot with spectacular daisy blossoms and lovely gray-green leaves. As we drove the windy gravel road through the refuge, we also came across a mule deer doe with newborn twin fawns and a mother pronghorn with her single fawn. The pronghorn have learned that coyotes, the main predator on their fawns, stay away from the road, so the pronghorn give birth near the roads.

I've always loved visiting wild places for the sense of possibility they offer. You never know what you'll find; it's all luck. One very hot late summer day, my photographer, Bill Muñoz, and I drove the Bison Range but feared we'd see little in the dry summer heat. Besides a bear and a weasel, we had a special surprising treat--we saw two bull elk in the river, plunging their heads into the water and pulling up plants, their antlers draped with vegetation--that's usually the way one sees moose, not elk!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Good News about Bad Newz and Thoughts on Audie

First I want to share this news that Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit focusing on more humane lives for dogs, has bought the property where Michael Vick's infamous dog-fighting ring was headquartered. Let's hope their plans to create a healing center for dogs are successful.
I also wanted to share this post I put up on the Saving Audie website and on Audie's FaceBook page. Many people liked the post or commented on it, so I wanted to share it here as well:

Audie’s book is out now, and I love the stories getting posted on his Face Book page, especially the one from the mother of a 4 ½ year old girl who insisted the book be kept under her pillow at night and standing up on her bedside table during the day—now that’s a real fan!
Audie’s story strike a deep chord with adults, too, I think partly because the courage shown by this little dog and his ability to have his life transformed from bleakness to one rich in love and fun helps them have hope that they can also transform the negativity in their own lives. It’s such a powerful message of hope and redemption.
I’m feeling so blessed to have been able to share this story with the world and to have met so many wonderful people and dogs in the process. There’s so much negativity and fear in the world today, which can paralyze us and keep us from acting positively in our own lives. We need to focus our attention and our spirits on positive stories like this one and always keep in our hearts the knowledge of love’s power to transform.

Here is Audie as he is today, forever bonded to his person, Linda.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Many years ago I did meditation for awhile, but it didn't last. Recently a friend recommended "Meditations to Change Your Brain," by Rick Hanson, PhD, and Richard Mendius, MD. She said their material was really changing how she lives and feels in very positive ways. The biologist in me became intrigued, and I have almost finished my first pass through the 3 CD set. Early on, Hanson and Mendius give reasons why it's hard for people to be happy, showing how the evolutionary history of our needing to be ever alert to the possibility of danger in its many forms makes it difficult for us today to relax and "enjoy the moment."

As I stood in my cool basement folding newly washed napkins and dust rags, this CD track came to mind, and I stopped to think about the moment. As I sorted and folded, I became amazed at what lay before me within these mundane items--colors, patterns, textures, an explosion of delightful variety that I ordinarily wouldn't notice as I acknowledged the uncomfortable chill and thought about my next task.

And now, as I write, I watch scattered snow flakes drift in from the north and know that if I went outside and examined them I would see their incredible delicate symmetry and infinite variety. So much in our everyday worlds can bring pleasure if we just remember to pay attention.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Long Silence Broken

I haven't written in this blog for many months. The irony is that I was so busy doing interesting things that I didn't have time for it! I'm going to try to catch up now, beginning with a trip to California in May to do research for my book, "Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance," to be published this May.

My photographer, Bill Muñoz and I flew into Oakland to meet Audie and his family, especially his official person, Linda. Audie was just a puppy when rescued from the Michael Vick dog-fighting ring in 2007. Thanks to the diligence and determination of a number of people, the Vick dogs were tested to see if they might be dangerous to people or animals, and all but one of the 48 pit bulls showed promise for rehab.

When we visited Audie at home, he was alarmed at first. In his life before coming to California, strangers generally weren't good news. Despite his past experiences, he clearly wanted to trust us and be friends. He would come close, then run away, come a bit closer, and run off again. Soon he was jumping on the couch and sniffing, then running away, and after about 10 minutes, he settled down next to me, snuggled against my leg, and went to sleep.

We also got to meet many people and dogs associated with BAD RAP (Bay Area Dogowners Responsible About Pitbulls), a wonderful Bay Area organization devoted to education about pit bulls. BAD RAP provides obedience training for pit bull type dogs and their humans every Saturday morning, and there's always a waiting list. Dogs adopted by or being fostered by BAD RAP folks also show up just to enjoy the activity and to savor the company of their friends, both canine and human.

Writing this book has been a great pleasure, and I feel it can contribute to helping dispel the image of pit bulls as innately dangerous dogs. With any kind of dog, what matters most is how they are raised and how they are trained. All dog owners should take the responsibility of helping their pets learn how to be "polite" members of society through obedience training and insistence that the rules of good behavior be followed.

Audie has his own fan page on Facebook, and soon he will have his own website as well. In addition, he and some of his brothers and sisters have their very own blog courtesy of BAD RAP.

Audie's buddy, Uba, whom he often gets to meet and greet on Saturdays, is especially fond of letting folks know what he's up to.