Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tasha (yep… again) 3 Weeks after Found

I know that I posted about Tasha and wrote that she had grown in almost miraculous way. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I’d take time off chores to show how much she has changed in a mere three weeks! Since I’m pressed for time, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Tasha 3 weeks after being found 002Tasha 3 weeks after being found 003-1






Tasha 3 weeks after being found 004

Tasha 3 weeks after being found 005








Tasha 3 weeks after being found 006

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reporting on Tasha

I just want to give you an update on Tasha. I’ve been very busy with the dogs, mainly Tasha. I had to train her so that she could stay home with the “pack” while I’m gone for two weeks. My good friend Lupe will look after them and if Tasha had required more care or being separated from the big girls, I would have had to leave her at the vet’s. For such a young pup with a terrible start in life, I had to do everything that I could to have her stay home without asking too much of Lupe.

Well… this little fur ball is so bright that I have to show her only ONCE and she gets it. Plus she’s a feisty little thing, growling at the matron Queenie to get her bone! Queenie does not seem overly impressed. . . perhaps a bit surprised at Tasha’s impertinence. I have been so pleasantly surprised to see that all three adult dogs have been very patient and wholly accepting of the pup. A very good thing since she now has big girls to teach her how to be a dog. And she’ll avoid being fixated on a human.

At the beginning, I had to leave her in the bodega since it remains much warmer than the RV during the night. The nights get cold enough that I have to start the heater in the early hours of the morning. But last week, pressed as I was to fully integrate her into the “family”, plus feeling terrible at her crying being separated and staying alone for the night, that I moved her bed into the RV right next to my bed. I had made her a bed with a cardboard box sideways and a thick foam mattress into a flannel pillowcase to sleep on. So I took it in. What a surprise! Tasha has not had a single accident in the house! She’s quiet all night. But she’s an early riser. In less than two weeks, she has mastered asking to go out or come in, and the steps of course. She’s clean and comes when called. I feel totally secure leaving her with the threesome and Lupe.

She’s growing in ways that I had not foreseen. She’s gaining in body length and in height only it seems. It’s almost as if her body is trying to restore her skeleton and muscle mass, which was non-existent, to what it ought to be. Her head is more proportionate to her body. But I can still feel her ribs and a few other bones that are sticking out just before her tail. She still has flesh out. But important things first. However, all this growth is making her quite ungainly. Her ears, which were upright, have gone down. But I’m told that they will probably be upright by the time she’s 6 months old. Her fur is still woolly and very dry. Probably from lack of food and liquids. I’m adding linseed to her food and she’s getting sardines and tuna. They’re high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid and worked very well to restore Mindy and Tina to health from demodectic mange they had as puppies. Tasha is running, playing with sticks and bones, and whatever she discovers. I sometimes have to confiscate her “discoveries”, particularly those of the yucky type.

So the good news is that she’s doing so well that she can stay home with her pack while I’m gone. What I had feared though is obvious, at least for now. She’s obsessed with food. With time, she’ll grow to have the assurance of getting all that she needs: love, care, good food, and water, plus toys and three big girls to constantly annoy. They let her get away with stealing their bone or whatever they’re interested in. I never thought they’d be such softies. But I’m both happy and relieved about it. I’ll take photos after I return. Right now, I’m trying to accomplish miracles in very little time.

Tasha is priceless. I simply adore her.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Dr. Wm. Glasser Helped Put me on the Road–Part One

I know that it may be surprising given that I don’t know Dr. Glasser personally. Have never even met him. One of his books has made a lasting impression on me and has influenced many of my decisions. Some of my favourite books have been written by psychiatrists and psychoanalysts who have delved deeply into human consciousness, have studied human behaviour and related their observations. On top of the list is Victor Frankl’s “Man's Search for Meaning”. Then is Erich Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom” and “The Art of Loving”. The latest but not the least, Dr. William Glasser’s “Choice Theory”. I’ll have to elaborate a bit on that last one.
But first, permit me to share an observation that came to me as I used the astrological chart and my studies in psychology for counselling. It is quite simple. When we flounder in hesitancy or doubts when making a decision, it is most often because we fail to ask the right questions. Or fail to focus on the real heart of the problem. The answer is therefore murky and the result wholly unsatisfying.
Now I’ll come to “Choice Theory” and try to be as brief as I can about a complex subject. Dr. Glasser explains that there are certain beliefs that are the foundation of what he terms “External Control Psychology”. By this he means that we often react by rote to external stimuli that are just information. Such as answering the phone and countless other signals that merely provide us with information. Therefore, we are not “forced” to answer a ring. People do not “make me” mad or sad or happy. They do not control my response to their behaviour or talk. I CHOOSE to react to whatever information they give me. The only thing that falls under my control is how I think, act, and feel. Neither do I control them. The only thing that I can do is provide them with information on how their talk or behaviour affects me.
Furthermore, External Control Psychology posits that it is my right, even in certain cases my moral obligation, to ridicule, threaten, or punish those who won’t do what I want them to do, or reward them whenever they comply with my wish.
He then describe four basic needs. 1. Survival, under which fall Love, Loving Sex, Belonging. 2. Power, which according to him is a drive that is restricted to human beings only. Animals are not hormone-driven to be aggressive. It is just a matter of survival.  We are the only species that is power-driven. He adds that External Control is the natural offspring of Power, therefore the enemy of freedom. 3.Freedom. 4. Fun.
How we individually perceive reality, and this differently from any or all others, has to do with what he terms our “Quality World”.  This small personal world is created by each person in his or her memory shortly after birth throughout the whole life. It is composed of specific pictures that portray the best ways to satisfy one or more of our basic needs. These pictures fall into three categories. 1- The people we most want to be with. 2- The things we most want to own or experience. 3- The ideas or belief systems that govern much of our behaviour.
Thus, anytime we feel particularly good, we are choosing to behave so that someone, something, or some belief in the real world comes the closest to matching a picture we hold in our quality world. He says that total objectivity is a myth and could exist only in a world where everyone shared exactly the same quality world. So, as we attempt to satisfy our needs, we are continually creating or re-creating our quality worlds. Some pictures may remain in our quality world long after we can satisfy them to the extent that we want. Hence our suffering.
He goes on by explaining that all we do from birth to death is BEHAVE. As we choose what we DO, we are neither the victims of our bad choices, neither are we the beneficiary of our good ones. He declares that a Choice Theory world is a tough but responsible world. I will add that it is a world that, within obvious limits (weather, government, etc.), falls totally under our control. It is a world based on Freedom of Choice. Here, I’ll add that according to Erich Fromm in his “Escape from Freedom”, there exist two types of freedom. The freedom TO and the freedom FROM. But that’s an entirely different question.
When I was in a Seniors apartment, I kept a journal. Following a number of months of profound unhappiness I realized that I had to remove having a dog from my quality world. Likewise with a sense of freedom, wild open spaces, nature, and what I call the Go factor. Mobility and the means to just go. Whenever, Wherever. And I honestly tried very hard. What I got in counterpart was definitely not part of my quality world. The security it provided had been part of it when I had a family to raise. That was no longer the case. My new world was restrictive, confined, and devoid of any meaning or pleasure. Simply put in terms of my quality world, way too much was missing. It was MY responsibility to make the necessary correction. Without anyone’s permission or opinion. So I did. Got me Queenie and took my RV out of storage and got GOing. And never missed the downtown apartment! Dr. Glasser, thank you.
On a final note, it may well be that all this is merely semantics, but how are we to evolve beyond mere instinct to conscious living unless we use ideas, words, mental concepts, that inform our behaviour as human beings distinct from other life forms?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tasha (Tisha) Settling In

Just a note before I go further. In memory of a beloved Shepherd named Keesha, I thought I’d give her the same name. Then I thought not and changed it to Tisha not realizing that it was way too similar to Tina. Another name had to be bestowed so as to avoid identity conflicts. So now, she’ll become Tasha.

When I took her in, I had no second thought. At first. But as time went on, I began to wonder at that wisdom. Namely, I was afraid of Queenie’s reaction. She’s a Mastiff and they are known to react negatively, even aggressively, to dogs that they haven’t been raised with. I had seen her in action and had every reason to fear. But it had been upon meeting with adult dogs. I kept thinking that back a year ago when Mindy and Tina arrived, I had found Queenie very maternal with both. However it would pan out, I knew that I had to take infinite care and time for proper introduction to the trio.

The first few days, Queenie kept pacing back and forth whenever I held Tasha on my lap. She’d stare at the tiny puppy and her expression was unreadable. Obsessive, it appeared to be. Whenever she would approach, she insisted on sniffing Tasha but did so roughly in my view. Perhaps a Number 3 would be too much for Queenie... At one point during the first week, Tina even positioned herself between the puppy on my lap and Queenie and kept growling. It made me wonder what she had sensed, if anything.

I couldn’t keep segregating Tasha as she was gaining both in weight and curiosity. She appeared eager to approach the other dogs. Gradually every day, I let her down to check on the interaction with the threesome, all the while staying very close to them. Mindy and Tina (named after Tina Turner since she has such shapely legs like those of the singer even down to the same stance) seemed genuinely attracted to the puppy. Both Mindy and Tina took obvious care to be gentle with her. They could be feisty with each other and rough in their play, as Boxers are wont to be. So I was pleasantly surprised.

I had a full explanation yesterday. Guadalupe and I were giving a bath to each dog beginning with Tasha. Lupe had received Tasha in a towel and the puppy was protesting the treatment in her puppy voice, which sounded alarming. Queenie immediately came to Lupe and appeared very concerned, even jumping up to check on the puppy and keeping VERY close to Lupe. It was suddenly obvious that she had accepted Tasha as her charge. I then knew that she had been and would continue to be vigilant, as if the puppy had been her own. However, this scared Lupe and I had to intervene. Queenie, I’m sure, has a few kilos over Lupe and standing on her hind legs, would come eyeball to eyeball with her. If it had been me, I would have been scared too.

My goodness. I’d had nothing to worry about! Queenie, after 7 litters of a great many puppies, was just being watchful in a maternal way. My relief could not have been greater. So now, Tasha is fully integrated into the “pack”. In fact, Tasha is the one to watch. She will sneak up to a bone and bark and growl at any four-legged that would approach her and her treasure, even if it had never been hers to begin with. For a puppy barely alive some two weeks ago, she’s quite an assertive little thing!

Here are the latest photos.

Tisha 13 days later 002

All together after sunset, asleep in peace





A study in contrasts, yet act as mom and daughter!

Tisha 13 days later 009Tisha 13 days later 010


Tisha 13 days later 006

Tasha between Tina’s legs and Mindy’s bum



Tisha 13 days later 011

Tasha showing a real improvement with her hind quarters filling out and even her front paws that, to me, appear larger than on the first photos, a mere 13 days ago. She’s an amazingly intelligent dog. She knows her name, the commands Sit, Come, Shush… we’re working on more.

Alone and at peace on the communal “bed”

Tisha 13 days later 012

I was lucky to find mini-rawhide bones. Just puppy size!

Tisha 13 days later 013

On a short postscript, Tasha had already learnt to go down the steps of the motorhome. While I was setting up this post, the dogs asked to be let in. It was only after a few seconds that I noticed that Tasha had made it in on her own! I’m so happy that I took her in. Come to think of it, I’m so happy that I rescued all four from death. What a blessing multiplied by 4!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

On St. Pat’s Day, Everyone’s Irish


A Wish for Friends

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!



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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quickie Update on Tisha

My little one is rapidly filling out where it matters most, which is about everywhere. I don’t know if anyone has noticed but on the photo of her lying down, the hind quarters show much emptiness save for bones. Today, a mere six days of 5 small meals a day, her thighs that had been devoid of anything other than bones show a growth of about a centimeter of muscle. Not hard, but solid enough. I know that what ends up happening during extreme starvation is that the body cannibalizes itself. It did hers. I can’t express how thrilled I am to see her much improved.

Her grossly enlarged tummy looks normal now that she’s rid of parasites. I’m afraid that she will feel the psychological effects of her dismal start in life by always wanting more food, even when filled. She becomes frantic whenever any odour of food reaches her sensitive nose.

Her front legs and paws are showing much improvement and growth. Her degree of emaciation did not really appear on the photos because of her puppy woolly down. It hid her true state. But on palpating her paws and back it was achingly obvious. I was so shocked by her condition that I cried every time I held her for the first few days. It broke my heart to witness how such a tiny creature could have faced such hardship. Thankfully, it’s definitely over now!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Addition to the Family

Last Friday around mid-afternoon, the dogs went to the gate in a state of frenzied agitation They kept alerting me to something out at the left of the door. Since they usually alert me to anything that is either moving, or new to them, I ignored it for a while. But their barking and unusual agitation got me a little curious, especially since they had moved from the left to the right side, and were scratching furiously under the middle of the gate.

I went but they rushed out ahead of me and Queenie grabbed a small animal in her mouth, which at first I thought was a small cat. I immediately got it out of her mouth and saw that it was a tiny puppy.  Emaciated, just skin and bones, it was so limp in my hands I feared it was at death’s door. I ran to the house leaving the dogs outside and put it down on the floor afraid that the shock might have precipitated its final hour. It did not react, even when I brought a saucer with milk and tepid water close to it. So I dipped my finger in the liquid and gently put it to its lips. Without opening its eyes, it reacted slightly. So I kept it up. My greatest fear at that point was that the one shake that Queenie  had given it could have broken its neck as it could not even hold its head up!

But my tenacity paid up. She (as by then I had noticed that it was a tiny German Shepherd female) slowly got up and came to the saucer, drinking all of the milk. I picked her up to get a feel of any wound anywhere. Thankfully I found nothing. I prepared an oatmeal mush and gave her a bit of it. She obviously had not drunk or eaten anything for quite a while. And the weather had been torrid. She was dehydrated and starved. I prayed. How I prayed that she’d make it! She was but just a pelt covering bones. Nothing else!

I kept giving her a bit of mush every hour as her stomach was distended like those of starving children in Africa. At night, I made her a cozy nest in the bodega and set up my alarm to wake up and feed her a bit every 3 hours. At 5:30 in the morning, I could no longer sleep. So I went and held her up to examine her more thoroughly. She was not only filthy but infested with fleas and looked to be about 5 to 6 weeks old. I took her to the veterinarian who is a fantastic woman, very caring, very gentle with all animals. Her love for them is obvious. She also has a grooming facility. Tisha (yep, I named her…) was given 3 gentle baths with a flea soap followed by two baby shampoos. The vet had been on home visits—a normal service here in Tequis—while Tisha was bathed. A wise precaution because of the flea infestation.

The vet declared that had she been discovered one hour later, she’d have died in the interim. She was too weak and debilitated to receive any vaccine for at least 3 to 4 weeks and only depending on her recuperation. The vet advised me to give her small helpings of home cooked food as there was the danger of bursting her stomach left without anything for long. I took her home.

That’s Tisha, two days later. Door, saguan, Tisha 017 She’s already noticeably improved since then.


Isn’t she adorable?






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Monday, March 7, 2011

A Woman’s Prerogative

Is it not said that it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Well now, I’m a woman. I changed my mind. I’ll keep the blog now that I’m making a bit of progress. If not on the program, at least in my view of the program. I suppose it’s all about how one looks at things. Perspective. Yes. Guess I had a bit of a burnout.

I did feel in limbo making few decisions, simply waiting for the almighty BUCK. There was so little to report or expand upon. But… I do miss readers’ comments. However, there should be subjects to comment upon, no?  Guess I dried up. Bottom line however, is that I would hate to bore anyone. So out of respect, I retired, at least for a while.

To the present, now. I’d had great fear of losing most of my plants on account of the unusually l o n g period of freezing temps at night. The problem was that it was difficult to forecast how much or when frost would hit, It did mostly around the wee hours of the morning. To plan on covering the more fragile plants was at best a hit or miss endeavour. And also to figure out which were the more fragile ones for a newbie. I did water quasi-religiously, given that we have had no rain since the ONE day (might I say scanty?) rain in October. The days are now getting hot, not warm, but hot!  I’m seriously considering gardening in pots to facilitate moving plants out of the nights of freezing risk. We’ll see.

At our altitude, this spells dryness. Water is vital for us bipeds and all creatures great or small, and definitely plants. So to report on the plants, the bougainvillea are safe for the most part. Two out of three llamaradas also are. The guava burned (should I say froze) out save for a few leaves sprouting from the ground. Pitiable. The jury’s still out on that one. The peach tree looks… just peachy, (pardon my pun.. it’s rare than I can resist!) Lemon tree? Gone. Bamboos aren’t doing so great and probably will have to be moved. The pear tree? Wantonly dried up.

Tomorrow, Don Samuel (a gardener) will come to snip the dead branches and rebuild little “planters” and guards around the plants so that the dogs don’t get an itch to check on the “stick”. Another perspective that differs according to species. Live stems to me—sticks to dogs. Also, since I finally had a first chance to savour a fresh fig (delicious is too weak a word to describe it) I’m dying to have a fig tree. It would replace the pear tree that’s definitely defunct. I hear that there are black and white figs. Really? Can’t wait to find out. Perhaps I could plant both? See how far ambition will lead you to!

About plants. It’s quite unbelievable to witness how, despite lack of rain, unforeseen freezing nights, an almost scorching sun already in March drying up what was already unbelievably dry, mesquites, huisaches that are sporting fragrant yellow blooms, nopales and other cacti, are now springing to life in green splendour. The green hues look almost miraculous to me given the hardships that these plants must face. Where and how do they get the moisture? I used to think that in our hard to bear winters up north, we faced unusual hardships. I stand corrected. My sense of wonder was first initiated by the profusion of blooms in the Arizona desert. It goes on, unabated.

On a more practical level though, I have finally located a reasonable blacksmith “herrero” who gave me a good price on the gate. However, I had to wait three weeks longer than the date promised. For a Northerner living in Mexico, this is probably the hardest part to get used to. Time is both elastic and relative, for the giver of the service and the recipient, as well. It is harder on the receiving end… in my humble opinion. Anyway, here’s what the gate looks like. It insures privacy and is a welcome preventative method of keeping the dogs quiet. What a relief! No view for them to get excited about, be it of sheep, cows, dogs, people, cars or bicycles, action in front of the lot, across from the lot, sideways from the lot, on the street to the right, on the street to the left, on the main road (which is  w a y . . . way  d o w n), or even behind, which is stretching way out! Who would even hear anything from there?  But who was the judge? My word counted for nothing even though I’m the one who puts “kibble on the table”. They were intent on their evaluation of the situation. Now? We’re down to almost nada. I’ll bet Dona Mari, my next door neighbour, who maintains that it’s the dogs’ job to bark, is quite relieved despite her allegations to the contrary. Good grief, am I ever,though!

Anyway here’s the gate. Door, saguan, Tisha 004

The columns on each side will have to be expanded upwards and topped up with bricks for the style that I want. Later.

Also, Don Samuel who happens to be a mason besides a gardener (Mexicans are definitely multi-talented, probably owing to circumstances?) might be available to build a cement base on which to secure the middle joining rod of the gates in the ground. Right now, both sides of the gate sway noisily and a bit precariously to the winds.

More to report on the next post.

As previously stated, most comments are welcome.

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