Happy 13th Birthday, Milo!

Thirteen years ago today a little Beagle boy was born in a kennel where Laboratory Beagles were bred. The eldest of eight puppies in his litter, puppy CVBAJJ, went a few weeks later to be a part of a dog food trial, testing the use of DHA as a food supplement for puppies to determine its effect on trainability and bonding. From what I’ve heard, Milo excelled and was at the top of his class, which certainly seems likely to me, given his problem-solving ability and his fabulous bond to me and love for everyone he meets.

Whenever I tell people Milo started life as a laboratory dog, they express great sympathy for him and outrage at the cruelty he must have endured, but Milo tells a different story. To be sure, he was under-exposed to the world when Sarah Wilson, my dog training mentor, first got him from rescue. He didn’t know what the green stuff coming out of the ground was, nor what the incredibly high, blue ceiling was, and he found new places overwhelming. But, he was healthy and clearly had been well-treated, looking to people for affection and security, and through Sarah’s skillful guidance became confident and happy to be out in the world (that story will be the subject of another post soon). And, though I often underestimate him because he is so silly and funny, he is an incredibly intelligent dog and a great problem-solver.

I found this information that I think could have come from the trials Milo was a part of:

…it is becoming increasingly evident that nutrition can also significantly impact the achievement of genetic potential in the puppy in ways not previously appreciated. Such is the case with increased puppy trainability with appropriate dietary concentrations of DHA. The benefits of improved trainability can have long-lasting effects by strengthening the owner-companion animal bond and thus increasing the likelihood of a puppy’s successful integration of the puppy into various environments, work or households. (from http://www.breedingbetterdogs.com/article/nutrition-and-dha)

I think it’s really cool that my little Milo has contributed to strengthening the owner-companion bond and increased the likelihood of puppies being successfully integrated into homes!

And now, though Milo is thirteen and his face and whole body are getting whiter all the time, he is wonderfully healthy and active, and in many ways still acts like a puppy, flipping his head and ears around and tossing toys high in the air. Outside he gets the zoomies and flies around the yard, never getting out of breath. He’s still an awesome tracking companion, and now we’re learning to do Nosework together, which we especially enjoy when the weather isn’t conducive to tracking. At home Milo is my constant companion, sleeping near me wherever I am in the house, moving with me if I go to a different room, and snuggling on my lap whenever he can.

Happy Birthday, Milo Bean! You truly are a delight!

Some photos from the past year

Beagle lap warmer
Joy with a favorite toy– chipmunks in a log
Joie de Vivre
Solar powered Beagle loves the summer sun
Soulful eyes
Playtime with Paul

Happy 13th Birthday, Rowan!

It’s hard to believe that Rowan is thirteen years old. It feels like he’s always been with me, so it seems as though he should be much older than thirteen. Some days he seems older than thirteen, when he isn’t really on the ball, but then other days he is more his old self (and thankfully there have been many more of the latter recently). This spring we’ve been spending hours outside just enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and scents on the breezes. Rowan loves to lie in the grass watching whatever I’m doing.

DSCN5926

Recently when I was gardening he decided to help…Flowerpots have always been some of his favorite toys.

And occasionally he’ll still play tag with me…

Waiting to play tag around the hay rake- our favorite game
Ready, Set… Go! (I only caught his feet and chin in the photo since he leaped just as I took the picture)
Ready or not, here I come!
I can still catch you, Mom!

And then we sit on the deck watching the world, Rowan with an ear always cocked in my direction.

Watching the world; listening for Mom

I know all the time I have with my Rowan is a gift, and I cherish each day with him. Happy Birthday, my sweet boy, and I hope you have many more years to share with me.

Happy 12th Birthday, Rowan!

My Rowan is twelve today. In some ways it is hard to believe he’s that old, but then I see him get up slooowly from one of his frequent naps, and I’m reminded that he is no longer a youngster. We spend more time snuggling than playing these days, but every now and then Rowan looks at me with a gleeful glint in his eye and then leaps into the air and darts back and forth in front of me. He did that yesterday when I walked to the car and back; he was overflowing with joy that I hadn’t gone away without him. I overflow with joy and gratitude every time he does that.

No matter how deeply Rowan is sleeping, if I say the magic words, “Do you want to go with me?” he leaps to his feet and runs to the front door, where he dances impatiently until we go out together. He flops into his spot in my car (the floor of the passenger side), always facing me, and happily stays in the car until we’re back home, sleeping some of the time, but frequently opening his eyes to check on my. If I reach down at a red light, he rests his chin in my palm, and sighs contentedly. So do I; it feels so good to have my boy with me wherever I am. Now that the weather is warming up, he can’t go out with me often, since he is retired from formal Service Dog work for the most part, but whenever I can, I schedule errands for cool mornings.

Rowan in his spot in my car

As I type, I hear Rowan snoring behind me. I know no matter how quietly I get up to leave the room, he’ll open an eye to see what I’m up to. If I turn off the light as I leave the room, he’ll get up and follow me. If I don’t turn off a light, he’ll wait in his comfortable spot on the floor to see if I’m coming back, but inevitably within just a few minutes he’ll come find me, flop down near me, and fall asleep again after watching me closely for a minute or two.

On a recent walk– my faithful, happy shadow

These days with an older dog are challenging both due to aging health issues and because of the backdrop of uncertainty that hangs heavy at times, but they are also wonderful in a way unique to a connection forged over years of time growing together. Rowan has long since shed the reactivity of his younger years and has become the most connected, intuitive dog I have ever known. I have grown in more ways than I could write, thanks to what he needed from me to help him learn and grow from an impulsive young dog to a steady Service Dog capable of traveling around the country with me and thanks to his faithful, loving presence in my life. I don’t know how much longer Rowan will be with me, but I treasure every day we have together, and hope we still have years to enjoy the connection and partnership we have grown.

Happy twelfth Birthday, Rowan! I am so thankful for you.

Happy 11th Birthday, Rowan!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful Rowan, the dog who, in some ways, knows me better than I know myself. It’s hard to believe my boy is eleven, except when I remember how his face used to have much stronger color. He’s not really going gray, he’s going white (kind of like me). He used to have such strong reddish color around his eyes, and that has all faded, making his eyes seem darker. That just highlights for me how much Rowan watches me– those dark eyes are following me much of the day, with his characteristic head bob showing when he’s trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. I love seeing that subtle little bob, as he watches me walking along and tries to figure out which way I’ll turn.

He’s slowing down some, and often prefers to sit in the shade and watch Petra and Milo run, but every now and then he gets a spurt of energy and runs through the yard, his magnificent coat waving in the breeze.

If I say “Just Rowan,” he leaps up from the hearth where he’s usually sleeping and comes running, knowing that he’s going to be the only dog to go outside with me. We were just outside this evening having some birthday fun, just Rowan and me, playing one of our favorite games. I either tell him to wait or sneak around to the far side of something, in this case a bunch of flowers, and then turn to face Rowan. Rowan will sit or stand tall watching me for a moment, then race around to join me, while I try to beat him around to the other side. He always catches up to me, and we laugh together.

We’ve been playing this game for 11 years now and neither of us has
tired of it. I hope I get to play it with my boy for many more years and get to have him walking by my side watching my every move for a long time to come.

Happy Birthday, Rowan! You are a joy and a blessing in so many ways.

Nine years ago today…

Nine years ago, a little red puppy was born. I didn’t meet her until three weeks later, when I fell in love with a small, sweet puppy who snuggled into my arms and fell asleep.

That may have been a ploy on her part, as that was the last time we saw her asleep until several years had passed.

 Years full of running…

playing with friends…

 

jumping for joy…

leaping up trees…

 watching for us to come home

being a little sister to Rowan…

 

snuggling on laps…

and being a faithful shadow..

I can’t imagine life without this little red dog. She is my companion whenever I slip out at night to savor the starlight or walk under the full moon. She curls quietly beside my chair whenever I sit to read. She has a contagious way of living fully in the moment that helps me see and experience the fullness of life. With all her idiosyncrasies and quirks, she occupies a unique spot in our home, and with all her devotion and love, she fills our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Petra, and may you have many more years of exuberance and joy!

Happy 10th Birthday, Milo!

It is hard to believe that my little Milo Bean is ten years old. He is as full of spunk and fun as ever, playing and making me laugh every day, which is his primary job in life. He rips around the yard playing chase with Petra, and though she is faster, he has more endurance and isn’t even panting when she’s lying in the grass to catch her breath after many wild loops up and down hills and around trees, shrubs, and the old hay rake. During a fast game of chase, Milo loves to run full tilt to the inside of the hay rake, then peer at Petra through the tines, baying and teasing her to come and get him. Those two are the best of friends, and watching them play can lift my spirits any day. 

Sometimes Milo is seized by the simple joy of running, and he takes off skimming in giant loops around the yard, tail out behind him, ears streaming back, moving with surprising grace (unusual for him, since normally all four legs move comically in four different directions), ignoring Petra and Rowan, just caught up in the joy of the moment. Whenever he does that, Stephen and I have to stop whatever we’re doing and watch; it’s impossible to ignore such pure delight in being alive.

No matter how caught up in play with Petra or running with abandon, though, if I call him, Milo immediately banks in my direction, races to my feet with delight and enthusiasm, and stops with a huge smile on his face and wagging tail. I think I often underestimate this little dog. Because he is all hound, he has the intense interest in scents of any sort that comes with being a scent hound, and can seem to block everything else out when he’s following a rabbit trail, but even so, in his mind and heart, I trump all that, and he will drop a trail to race to me the moment I call his name.

In addition to all the fun and laughter, Milo is a first class snuggler and lap-warm, loving to curl up on my lap and sleep for as long as I sit and read. Recently, too, he has decided that Steve is the most wonderful fire-provider, and we are sure that Milo thinks Steve gets the fireplace going just for Beagle-warming purposes.

How could I not adore my marvelous Milo Bean. Happy Birthday, Milo! I hope you share many more years of joy with me.

Coming!
Indicating an article when tarcking
Sunbathing
Happy Milo

Happy Birthday, Milo!

It’s hard to believe that my Little Bean is EIGHT today. He is such a fun and funny member of our family, making me laugh every day, no matter what might be on my mind. He is also a world-class lap snuggler, keeping me warm on those cold, windy days that make a 270 year-old farmhouse house feels drafty.

Keeping Mom warm

From the connection we have when tracking, to Milo’s overflowing joy every time I walk upstairs from the basement, to his silly, happy dance at mealtimes, Milo is a delight and has been a gift from the day he joined our family. Happy Birthday, Milo Bean, and may you have many more!

 

Rolling with Lucy!

Playing with Kippy