My latest read.

I usually read several books at once. I have a Kindle Fire, and hear from a lot of people how much they like the feel of a real book and turning the pages. Occasionally I buy a book, but not that often.

I am reading NBC reporter Katy Tur’s New York Times bestseller, Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American history.

From the beginning, I was laughing out loud. Being a traveling reporter is definitely for the young. She uses some colorful vocabulary, which I enjoy. She goes through the raves and rants of the candidate, the running pace of keeping up with where the campaign is going, and sometimes not knowing where she is on a particular morning.

Tur was living a good life in London, had a French boyfriend, and had everything a young reporter could want. Along comes the non-stop of a 24/7 campaign, and her world changes.

I highly recommend this book. It is a fun read, and because it is so well-written and interesting, a quick read.

Meantime, I’m waiting for the Kindle version of Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened. I have read her books before, and I find she is an interesting writer. Her book is also on the NYT best-seller list.

I wish these gifted women luck with their books. I hope to join the ranks next year with Drinking Out of the Trough. The book is written so I’m almost there!

Remembering Dr. Herbert Zipper

As an elementary school student, our school had an orchestra come to the gym to play for us. Its conductor and director was Dr. Herbert Zipper. While I did not care for classical music when I was little, there was a certain magic to sitting on a gym floor and listening to fine music.

Little did I know that Dr. Zipper was a Holocaust survivor, imprisoned at Dachau, was bought out by his father, then went to the Philippines to start an orchestra there. When the Japanese invaded, he was again imprisoned.

After the war, he came to America to do what he loved best: teach others to love music. One of the places he came to live was Chicago. He started the North Shore summer music program, and gave those school concerts among all the other things in his life.

I had no idea that his story was turned into a book, then an Academy Award nominated documentary. I got the documentary yesterday, and sat spellbound watching this great man’s life unfold where previously I just thought of him as the man who led the school gym concerts.

The title is appropriate, as Dr. Zipper was born in 1904, and lived into his 90’s. He was still working at the age of 92. The title of the DVD is a little different than the title of the book. I highly recommend watching it.

Never Give Up: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper.

Thank you, Dr. Zipper, for being a survivor with a tattoo who led generations of people on a path to music appreciation.

Drinking Out of the Trough is the Title of My First Book!

Yes, campers, I have finally taken the plunge and written a book. It’s undergoing editing by the wonderful Judy Fort Brenneman of Greenfire Creative, LLC.

After eight years, I have a new puppy, a delightful Goldendoodle named Ivy. She is six months old. Her breeder, Cathie Crosby of Placer Goldendoodles picked her out for me as a good match. Ivy is a delightful little soul.

I gave the pup Ivy for a name because my beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. Ivy covers the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. I got Ivy 6 days after the series, and today we celebrate four months together. She’s been through two puppy classes, and will take the Canine Good Citizen class to become a therapy dog when she turns one year old.

More later.

Remembering the Wonder Husky

Today marks one year since Tipper went to the Rainbow Bridge. I really miss not having a dog to walk, but right now is not a good time for me to have a dog.

Tip was a good dog. A really good dog. We got her from the same breeder from whom we got Keli, the first dog of our marriage. At first, we chose a red female, a huge pup that we called Moose. When we went back for a second look, however, we noticed that Moose had a huge umbilical hernia. Looking at the other pups, we saw a little grey husky with two blue eyes and an adorable turned-up nose. She looked a little like Keli, with a cloverleaf mask, so we took her.

Tip had an dew claw on one hind foot, a genetic abnormality, but so did her sire, Sir Nicholas. We had it removed later when she was spayed. Dew claws on the front paws are not removed in Huskies. Actually, extra dew claws are a reason to not breed the animal that has them. A happy, but misguided breeding of Sir Nicholas for us!

We had a date to pick her up in January, 1997. The weather was so horrible, we couldn’t make it into the breeder’s property. Bobbie promised to deliver her. I will never forget the delivery. I was working in my cat clinic, focusing on a late-comer, an older cat belonging to an even older lady. The cat probably had renal failure, and we were giving options to the lady and her son. The door opened, and my employees and I knew it was Bobbie with Tipper. I excused myself from the exam room and went out to see Bobby with Tip in her lap holding the pup so her front paws were in the air.

I finished the appointment ASAP, and closed the clinic. Tipper was ours! Keli, age 14, came to life with a little pup around. I still can see Tipper going under Keli’s tummy to get from one place to another. Keli and Tip had 6 months together before Keli’s death at almost 15.

Tipper was a fun little dog. Actually, she was a big dog, 10 pounds more than Keli’s 50. I took her to school the next day. She let many kids pet her during passing period.

Her name came not from Tipper Gore, Second Lady of the United States at the time, but from the tips of color on the ends of her fur. I had held a puppy naming contest at school, and got a lot of cute names. Peyton was the one I liked best,but none really suited her. Tipper it was. I won’t tell you her AKC name, because I made it up. Registered names are stupid, and the one I invented was disrespectfully related to a crime that had happened in Boulder after we had chosen her.

I took her to school every now and then. She would let 100 energy-crazed, early adolescents pet her during 5 minute passing periods. She was always up for a tummy rub. I let the moderate needs program have her for a morning so the kids could pet her, groom her and have the responsibility of taking her outside to do her business. She was a big hit.

Although she barely passed puppy class and was ‘retained’ in novice obedience (husky obedience is an oxymoron), she came away with a wonderful trick where she jumped over a stick for a piece of Pupperoni. She also was a gifted singer, and her signature tune was ‘Ragtime Cowboy Joe,’ which delighted Earl as it is the fight song for the University of Wyoming.

Tipper was never the alpha dog Keli was, and didn’t do well at the dog park. On our last visit over a year ago, she was bitten by another husky. End of dog park. She was just not into other dogs. She loved cats, and when we put Fletcher to sleep due to dilated cardiomyopathy on a hot July day in 2000, Tipper sniffed the body, and I truly think she mourned him. When Matthew came in 2001, they became best friends.

I wrote about Tipper’s last morning, June 2, 2009, which was published in the local paper. It’s in this section of the blog. It happened to be published the day after Earl passed away. That date is around the corner, June 12. I truly think Tipper went ahead to greet Earl at the Rainbow Bridge. I can only imagine how much fun they are having with all the folks and animals who went ahead of them.

May we all be blessed with the love and companionship of a good dog. Aleha ha-sholom, my dog of love.

She was a good dog.

A life well lived

Our beloved paint mare, Marcie (Liberty Sunshine) left this earth four years ago on Monday, July 25, 2005 at the age of 30. We had had a lovely trail ride alone together at our local state park the previous Saturday morning.

Sunday, she looked a little off. I acupunctured her and gave her some medicine. Marcie had had many episodes of colic throughout her life, and I wanted to prevent an episode. I noticed her gut seemed empty, and that she had some trouble eating. The water trough that had been clean and clear was grey and cloudy. My husband and I had noticed some drooling. On our Saturday walk, I heard some breath sounds that were abnormal, rather like gurgling.

I had talked to several colleagues, who said it was probably a mouth problem. The Colorado State University equine dentistry crew was scheduled to come out the first of the month and see the horses for their 6-month checkups. Monday, she had that look in her eye that always told me something was really wrong. Earl and I didn’t want to wait and see Marcie decline. We knew when we took Marcie into the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital that we were probably looking at euthanasia, but we had to be sure it was the right thing to do. Endoscopy and radiographs showed a growth on the back of her tongue that screamed cancer to me. Her blood work was abnormal as well. Major surgery on a 30-year-old horse in an unreachable place was not an option.

It took a while for the tests, diagnosis and final decision. We stood with Marcie in a stall and talked to her. She was never alone on that last day. My girl was a true lady that trying day.

As said in previous posts, it is never easier to make the ultimate decision on an animal family member just because we are veterinarians. We cried like babies together in each other’s arms just as our clients do. The kind equine staff of the CSU hospital set up the apparatus, put Marcie under anesthesia in a padded stall, and let me euthanize her as indeed I did for Franny in 1996. Euthanasia is a special gift we have that physicians do not. Earl stayed outside the closed stall, preferring not to watch. I had to do this for my best girl. I helped our beautiful friend drift peacefully out of this life and into the next.

The following morning we went to pathology to watch the necropsy. That might seem gruesome to some, but we were vets, and Marcie was gone from her body. The pathologist on duty called Marcie’s medical team from the day. They had found something significant for them to see. Marcie had a fist-sized cancerous tumor called a squamous-cell carcinoma on the back of her tongue that threatened to block her airway. That was what caused the abnormal breath sounds while we were riding on Saturday.

There was a lively discussion of her case at pathology rounds that Friday. It was common tumor in a rare location. No one there had seen this before. We took comfort that we did the right thing for our precious pet.

We had 27 wonderful years with this special creature, from pulling her off a ranch in Wyoming four years before we were married, to the last minute. My mother saw her on the ranch before we brought Marcie and Franny, to town. Marcie was the last pet that either my sister or I had that our mother knew. Mom died in 1979 when I was 26. I actually had my horse longer than I had my mom.  Marcie lived three years longer than my sister Natalie, a horse lover and owner, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1981 at the age of 27.

I am a believer that there is a reason why things happen. I think Marcie lived so happily in her last year to help me relearn riding three times after the misery of my orthopedic trauma suffered the previous summer that involved multiple surgeries including the total hip replacement. When we celebrated her 30th birthday on June 1, I was not yet cleared to ride. My cousin, Gail, and my husband took her on a birthday ride with her buddy, Scoot, while I stayed at home.  The instant I could ride, it was “cowgirl up” on my gentle beauty.

Mom always said that kids should not have pets or grandparents, but there is a lot to be said for the human-animal bond. We honored Marcie’s long and graceful life during our grief. Animals also grieve for their friends. Scoot whinnied all that night and into the next day, looking for her after we returned with an empty trailer. Hannah, the Baby, was puzzled that there was no one to trade stalls with to search for after dinner morsels.  Our dog and cats knew too.

There is a quote from Stephen King’s book, Pet Sematary, that brings me comfort:  …”time passes, and time melds one state of human feeling into another, until they become something like a rainbow. Strong grief becomes a more softer, mellow grief; mellow grief becomes mourning, mourning at last becomes remembrance.” The poem, Rainbow Bridge, author unknown, while it always makes me weep, gives me hope for the future with no fear of death when it comes.  My image of heaven is riding Marcie on a warm summer day in the foothills at Lory State Park where my ashes will be scattered when my time comes. I have many animal friends waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge, and Marcie will be there ready to take me over the bridge on her back.

We wished Marcie well on her journey to Rainbow Bridge. She had what we all hope for: a life well lived.

As a postscript to this piece, I had every intention to post it on my blog today. I had no idea that six weeks earlier, Marcie would meet Earl at the Rainbow Bridge and carry him across. You can be sure she was waiting for him, and they are having one joyous reunion.