Tears to my eyes

I have come to make many special Golden Retriever friends during my many years on the web, but Chandler Rudd is clearly one who has a unique place in my heart. We came to meet due to his lovely wondergirl, Lucy, who so many people loved and now miss.

Chandler is a very gifted man, who can express the truly important things in life with a clarity that can be breathtaking. I am simply thrilled for him that he will be continuing Lucy’s Legacy.

But, knowing how much the loss of Lucy has affected hi life, I am even more touched by his moving on with his newest Golden addition to the family. There is now a wonderful boy named Luke and Luke has already begun to make a name for himself in the Assisted Animal Therapy world.

I have just added Luke to the site, to also celebrate his new official therapy dog status. Luke is definitely following in the pawprints of Lucy. Read below to experience a story like none other of Luke’s first official therapy dog visit.

A couple of weeks ago, Luke finally received his registration from Therapy Dogs Inc. Things have been hectic here so we haven’t had a chance to pay a visit to Exeter Healthcare….until yesterday [April 28, 2008].

It was a rainy, dreary day. Just perfect for a visit to our favorite rehab center. A thorough brushing to remove any excess fur, and a change of clothes for me and we were off. Luke was excited to go for a ride and when he saw where we were going, he became more animated. We have been here many times before so Luke could work with the staff getting him used to all the things he will encounter during his real visits. Wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and, oh yes, the inevitable lunch cart were taken by him until they were no big deal. Now, we would put all this work to the test.

Luke and I walked into the facility and were greeted enthusiastically by the staff. Most of the people were old friends and knew Lucy and Ben. They were so happy to see me back with Luke and gave us the royal welcome. We started with the short term rooms where I could get Luke used to visiting people who could interact with him. To my delight, he warmed to the task and delighted everyone he met. He proved to be a “leaner”, resting his body, gently against the patients so they had no choice but to pat him. I watched him very carefully, looking for traits that I would need to work out and others that I would need to encourage. Amazingly, there was not one negative trait that needed correcting. I did see, however, a few I need to encourage. Eye contact, and head resting are my priorities for now.

I felt comfortable enough to take him to the “Vent” wing where people who are paralyzed live. This is a long term care facility and some of these patients have been here for 10 years. I just cannot imagine having to live a life, in a bed, without the ability to move one muscle from your head down. The depression must be enormous. Imagine, then, (assuming you like dogs) the joy of a visit with a beautiful, friendly, golden retriever and an understanding human.

My first patient was “Doug”. Doug has been here for as long as I’ve been visiting. He’s about my age, thin, bald, but with expressive eyes complete with crows feet. How does a guy who has been paralyzed for at least 10 years have crows feet? Doug smiles! He cannot talk but will mouth his words and compliment them with his eyes. Believe it or not, communicating with him is easier than you think. It’s amazing how clear he is when his mouthing a greeting and his eyes are crinkled in a smile. He has seen Luke before but we have not made any physical contact.

I walked into his room and said “Hi Doug! We’re official now!”

His eyes crinkled and he mouthed “Congratulations!”

“How’s he doing?” I read from his lips.

“So far, so good!” I replied.

I explained that because he was so new to this, I wanted to let him look around the room and get used to the equipment that kept Doug alive. I showed Luke the ventilator that was making a rhythmic, wheezing sound followed by a click and the exhaust of air. Next we saw the catheters and electrical cables that carried the waste from Doug and kept him monitored by the nurses station. Luke took all this with aplomb. Finally, I brought him to Doug’s side and told Doug what I wanted to do.

When Lucy was alive, I would lift her out of her stroller and place her in the bed with Doug. She would make her way to his head where she would give him kisses. Because of Doug’s paralysis, he has no feeling anywhere on his body with the exception of his head. Lucy seemed to know this and Doug absolutely loved it!

I told Doug that I was going to place Luke’s big paws on the side of his bed, next to his head so Luke will understand that this is where he needs to go to make meaningful contact with Doug. He crinkled his eyes and mouthed “OK!”

I told Luke “UP!” and “Easy!” and lifted his paws and placed them on the side of the bed. I covered his paws with my hands in case he reached out. Doug can’t move out of the way and Luke’s claws, although short, could do some damage.

Doug looked at Luke, moving just his eyes, and mouthed “Hi Luke!”

Luke then amazed me by slowly leaning forward until his nose was almost touching Doug. Carefully, gently, he began to lick Doug’s face.

Doug opened his mouth wide in a laugh. His body shook as he laughed. He pursed his lips and made squeaking sounds (Like you were calling a cat) and all the while Luke kept licking. All this took only seconds but for me, time had slowed down to a crawl. Luke finally stopped and pulled away. Doug stopped laughing but the smile remained.

“Good boy!” he mouthed. Then to me, “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Doug” I said. “I am so happy that Luke seems to know what he’s doing. I think Lucy’s there beside him, guiding him and encouraging him.”

Doug replied “I think so too.”

Not wanting to stress Luke out, I told Doug that I would be back next week. He thanked me and as we made our way out of his room, Luke looked back at Doug. I could see that he liked the visit and was sad to go.

We had been at the rehab for almost an hour and I decided to call it a day. Luke was beginning to pant. It might have been the heat but he may have reached his limit for the day. We said goodbye to everyone and walked out into the rain.

“Not bad” I thought to myself. “Not bad at all!”

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Golden Retriever Mambo Boogie

This is your Monday morning Golden Retriever video pick-me-up. Golden Devo is doing his ‘happy dancing’ with Golden Puppy Cosmo (4 months old) bouncing with Sunny looking on in the background.

Devo was recently loss to cancer, and additionally appears in his mouth full of ball pose in my (more contemplative) Golden Angel Dog video below.

I Love Lucy

A Seven Week old Baby LucyWe have a very special page at our Foundation’s site to honor Therapy Golden Retriever Lucy. It is called, of course, I Love Lucy. Lucy’s special story is everything about what rescue is about, as they faithfully work on to mend the wrongs in our often throw-away type society.

During the week of February 15, 1997, a puppy was found in the North End of Middletown, Connecticut. Two reports were given. One was that the pup was found dumped on a doorstep, in a basket. The other was that she was found in a dumpster. That pup was Lucy, then named Precious.

She was taken to Pieper-Olson Vet Clinic, in Middletown, where it was then learned that she was paralyzed from the waist down. Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue (YGRR) was called and she was admitted into their program. She was transported from there to Yankee’s Vet Clinic, Fremont Animal Hospital, in Fremont, New Hampshire, where more tests were done. Soon after that, Precious was brought to Tufts Vet Hospital for more extensive tests and it was determined that she suffered from a neurological injury, either as a birth defect, or possibly from being dropped soon after birth, although no evidence was found to support that theory. Their recommendation was to euthanize her. YGRR refused and brought her back to Fremont.

If you do not know Lucy’s story, please visit her very special page of honor. There are many wonderful stories, photos, and video clips to enjoy. Here are her parents’ (Chandler and Dee Rudd) words about taking Lucy into their family:

Our daughter, Susan, had been telling us about a handicapped Golden at Fremont Animal Hospital for months. She now came home and asked us if we could help this little dog out by taking her into our house. We were to try to housebreak her and socialize her with our two Goldens, Maggie and Bennie. She explained that this was perhaps the last chance for this dog to become adoptable. We really didn’t want a third dog, but Susan said that it would only be temporary. When Lucy became housebroken, she would go back to Riverview and hopefully get adopted. I decided that I wouldn’t become attached to Lucy. I considered her a work in progress …. a job, so to speak.

We had our work cut out for us that first night. Lucy was a sweetheart, but, oh my! The mess! We began by putting her on a schedule. Just like a puppy, she would go out to ‘potty’ right after every meal, as soon as she woke up, and right before bedtime. We praised her after each successful ‘outing’ and after a few days, she was almost perfect. Sure there were some mistakes, but we could see that Lucy was sorry.

One night, Lucy was sleeping on the couch. I looked over at her and watched as she dreamed. Her eyes, although closed, moved as she watched something in her dream world. Her legs moved rhythmically as she chased it. I wondered if she was still handicapped in her dreams, or if she could run as she had never done. I moved closer to her, studying her face, looking at the perfection in her features. Wondering why something so beautiful, so innocent, could be so imperfect. As I drew even closer, Lucy must have sensed my presence. Her eyes opened a little, and when she saw me so near, they opened wide in surprise. Then something happened that changed everything. She recognized me. Her eyes softened, and she leaned closer to me and gently licked my face. This one act went straight to my heart. I knew then that I was totally in love with this little girl. I also knew that we would never part. All our plans for her were now in our hands. She had found her ‘forever home’.

We had originally envisioned Lucy being adopted by a Physical Therapist. Someone who could use her disability along with her wonderful personality to help handicapped children overcome the obstacles in their journey towards rehabilitation. Dee and I felt that Lucy was put on this earth for a purpose. She had come a long way and fought incredible odds just to get this far. Now we had a new job. We wanted to, eventually, use Lucy to help others. It took almost one year. We worked with Lucy, socializing her with other dogs, working her with people, especially children. She loved children! We worked with a local Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lucy became certified as a Therapy Dog to work in that hospital. Later this year, she was also certified by Therapy Dogs International to work in any hospital or nursing home in this country or Canada.

In April 2008, The Goldstock Fund announced the addition of a new fund, LUCY’S LEGACY. During life, Lucy’s courage, determination and unconditional love constantly amazed and inspired everyone she met. All ages, all nationalities, challenged and able-bodied—she touched thousands of lives both physically and emotionally. Lucy was an active therapy dog, and a shining example of the positive life force that can be found in all dogs. Click below to see her on the job, as shown on NHPTV’s Outlook Program on August 6, 2001.

Lucy’s Legacy Fund, actually developed from an idea by YGRR founder Joan Puglia to honor Lucy, will provide therapy dog training as well as activities to enhance the bond between people and their dogs. Proceeds from activities will be given via grants to Golden Retriever rescue programs.

Partnering with other groups that improve our dogs’ quality of life, Lucy’s Legacy will be featuring educational and social activities that explore the health, emotions, and behavior of canine companions. One such program, CAMP LUCY, is providing guided workshops for developing each dog’s emotional and physical potential—so offering relaxation, recreation and social events for people and their canine companions.

The first annual CAMP LUCY, hosted by Camp Robin Hood, will be held September 12-14, 2008 on Ossipee Lake in beautiful Ossipee, New Hampshire. There you can strengthen the bond with your dog in the quiet tranquility of the White Mountains. All meals will be provided by the camp and prepared by their gourmet chef. Snacks and vegetarian selections will also be available. Lodging in the camp cabins is included in the $200 price. Although lodging is shared, the cabins are large and offer plenty of room for you and your dogs. Check out the wonderful activities and workshops, your ability to participate in as many or as few as you choose. Or, if you wish, you can simply enjoy the weekend relaxing with your dog. The camp has a beautiful sandy beach, large fields and miles of hiking trails. For more info, email Chandler Rudd at summerpaws@earthlink.net.

  • First aid and accident prevention
  • Introduction to tracking
  • Flower essence workshops
  • Trick training
  • Introduction to land and water retrieving
  • Daily guided nature walks (on leash)
  • Canine Good Citizenship preparation and test
  • Movies
  • Beach campfires
  • Candlelight ceremony
  • Special senior (and almost senior) seminar: Developing and implementing a comprehensive, holistic, home enrichment program for your senior.

“Do not trust the EPA to protect your environment.”

“Do not trust the EPA to protect your environment.” This is actually a statement made by one scientist at the EPA regional office. Pretty scary, huh? And, please realize, that as our dogs develop the same illnesses and cancers that we do, they too, are affected by environmental toxins.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded with the simple yet profound charge “to protect human health and the environment.” Yet a new Union of Concerned Scientists survey of scientists at the agency reveals that challenges from industry lobbyists and some political leaders have led to the suppression and distortion of EPA scientific findings—to the detriment of both science and the health of our nation.

The Union of Concerned Scientists say that more than half of the nearly 1,600 EPA staff scientists who responded online to a detailed questionnaire reported they had experienced incidents of political interference in their work. On numerous issues—ranging from mercury pollution to groundwater contamination to climate change—political appointees have edited scientific documents, manipulated scientific assessments, and generally sought to undermine the science behind dozens of EPA regulations.

These findings highlight the need for strong reforms to protect EPA scientists, make agency decision making more transparent, and reduce politicization of the regulatory process. Congress, the next president, and the next EPA Administrator must restore independence and scientific integrity to the EPA by:

  • Protecting EPA Scientists: Scientists should be free to report the distortion, manipulation, and suppression of their work without fear of retribution. Congress should pass a whistleblower law that includes protection for scientists. The EPA should adopt a communications policy that lets scientists speak freely to the press about their findings.
  • Making the EPA More Transparent: Too many decisions are made behind closed doors with little accountability. The EPA’s scientific findings should be freely available to the public. The EPA should open up its decision-making process to congressional and public scrutiny to help reveal misuses of science
  • Reforming the Regulatory Process: The White House should not change scientific findings in order to weaken, delay, or prevent new public protections.
  • Ensuring Robust Scientific Input to EPA’s Decision Making: The EPA should review and strengthen how it uses the scientific expertise of its staff and external advisory committees to create policies—especially when scientific input is critical or required by law.
  • Depoliticizing Funding, Monitoring, and Enforcement: Problems with funding, monitoring and enforcement also need to be addressed by Congress and the next President to ensure that the EPA is the robust environmental agency that our country needs.

Based on this survey, House oversight committee Chairman Henry Waxman today sent the following letter to EPA chief Stephen Johnson:

Almost 1,600 EPA scientists completed the Union of Concerned Scientists survey questionnaire. Over 22% of these scientists reported that “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome” occurred “frequently” or “occasionally” at EPA. 94 EPA scientists reported being frequently or occasionally “directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from an EPA scientific document.” Nearly 200 EPA scientists said that they have frequently or occasionally been in “situations in which scientists have actively objected to, resigned from or removed themselves from a project because of pressure to change scientific findings.”

Political appointees at EPA and other agencies appear to be a major source of political interference. Over 500 EPA scientists knew of “many” or “some” cases “where EPA political appointees had inappropriately involved themselves in scientific decisions.” Even more EPA scientists knew of “many” or “some” cases “where political appointees from other federal agencies,” including the White House, “had inappropriately involved themselves in decisions.” In open-ended essay responses, “nearly a hundred EPA scientists identified the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as a primary culprit.” These essays included numerous comments like “OMB should stop interfering in EPA Science” and “[t]he unprecedented and unwarranted influence of the EPA’s scientific work and findings by the White House and OMB must end.”

Overall, 889 EPA scientists said they “personally experienced at least one incident of political interference during the past five years.” Based on the survey, there may have been as many as 2,604 incidents of political interference at EPA during that period of time.

When asked about the role of science in EPA decisionmaking, the scientists provided some troubling responses. Nearly half of the scientists said that EPA determinations “occasionally, seldom, or never make use of the best judgment of its scientific staff.” Over 550 scientists reported that the agency “occasionally, seldom, or never heeds advice from independent scientific advisory committees.”

These survey results suggest a pattern of ignoring and manipulating science in EPA’s decision making. At May’s hearing, the Committee will examine one apparent example of this disturbing trend: EPA’s recent revision of the national air quality standards for ozone. You should also expect members of the Committee to ask about these survey results and other evidence of political interference with science at EPA.

Sincerely, Henry A. Waxman, Chairman

Click here to download a pdf of the report.

Honestly, no one really cares about their mental health

I am ashamed to see our government be so cavalier about the mental health of our soldiers. Not only are they cavalier, but it’s just been shown that they are liars as well. I have worked with and evaluated those with depression and possible suicidal ideation. It is quite a serious task and I am never able to forget those souls who do manage to take their lives.

It is simply unconscionable that these folks in our government continue to get away with such blatant disregard for human life. It is embarrassing that Dr. Ira Katz, a man with Ph.D. and M.D. degrees who has been placed in a position that oversees all mental health services for the VA, is playing games with the lives of thousands.

Senate VA Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka and Sen. Patty Murray called for the resignation of Dr. Ira Katz, the VA’s top official for mental health, who had the audacity to provide inaccurate information on new suicide statistics to CBS.

There is currently an epidemic in suicide that the VA has been concealing. Just look for yourself at the incriminating emails that attest to 1000 suicide attempts being made every month.

Rather than there being fewer than 800 suicide attempts a year, as stated by Dr. Katz, the number is more like 12,000 a year. And, now one day after calling for the resignation of VA’s top health official, Senator Murray is correctly questioning a 2nd-ranking VA official on why the true needs of veterans are being hidden from Congress.

Family Systems Theory never prepared me for this – Updated 2x

One of my post graduate fields of study was family therapy and I was schooled by a very gifted professor (Dr. Danuta Mostwin) who studied under Dr. Margaret Mead. She was very big on systems theory and it is the basis for the type of family therapy she advocated. I would love to know her feelings about the disturbing story right now playing out in the Texas courts regarding the Fundamentalist LDS Church raid in Eldorado, the latest ruling from the judge detailing the need for the 416 children to remain in state custody while DNA tests are ordered.

The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect, written by Daphne Bramham, is a book that should be read by all. But, especially, it is one that should have been read by the folks who are covering the big story in Texas, before they began their sadly, typically irresponsible, reporting.

This book details the founding and flourishing of a polygamous, fundamentalist Mormon sect in Bountiful, B.C. There, Winston Blackmore of Bountiful, says it’s G-d’s will that he has twenty-two wives and more than one hundred children. Canada’s most outspoken polygamist insists his faith left him no choice but to “marry” and impregnate nearly a dozen teens, and he has publicly admitted to marrying girls as young as fifteen. Polygamy and sex with minors are both illegal in Canada and yet Blackmore and this cult flourish.

This must-read book unravels Blackmore’s story using his own words as well as those of people who have escaped the cult to live in the outside world. It details the intermarriages and intrigues among the patriarchs as they fight for control of minds, money, property and women. And running through the narrative are the most troubling questions of all: Why has nothing been done to stop the illegal practices of this cult? Why haven’t the polygamists, pedophiles and abusers been charged and jailed?

Writer, Sara Robinson, has put together some must-read posts (I’ve included some of her excellent analysis below) about the current situation, also detailing the seminal books in this area. She speaks to the definitive book on fundamentalist Mormonism being Jon Krakauer’s 2003 bestseller, Under the Banner of Heaven, a book that related the murder of a woman, along with her child, who dared to defy her husband’s involvement with that polygamous sect. It also introduced America to Warren Jeffs, long before he became a fugitive and eventually a convicted felon; and put Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT on America’s cultural map. I will certainly be keeping in touch with her comments as this story unravels.

Don’t Mess With Texas
In choosing Eldorado, Jeffs may have, at long last, picked the wrong place to hide. Texas doesn’t harbor the ghosts of Mormon pioneers or FLDS martyrs. Any liberal Texan will tell you that the Lone Star State is not cursed, as BC is, with an overbroad sense of religious freedom. What does lurk in its memetic closet is the memory of Waco — another closed, secretive, sexually abusive cult that was left to fester unattended too long, with horrific consequences. Many of the people who are dealing with the FLDS had enough of an up-close-and-personal view of the 1993 disaster with the Branch Davidians to know what they’re dealing with here.

Are FLDS women brainwashed?
The problem, as it so often is with the mainstream media, is that absolutely everybody involved with reporting or commenting on this story has been airlifted into it in the past few days. (You’d think somebody would have at least taken the time on the plane flight to skim Krakauer’s book and get up to speed. You’d be wrong.) And this is just one example of the ways that ignorance of the backstory cheats the rest of us out of a real understanding of what’s going on here.

Because, by the definition offered by these experts, the FLDS is very coercive indeed.

Almost every feature of these women’s lives is determined by someone else. They do not choose what they wear, whom they live with, when and whom they marry, or when and with whom they have sex. From the day they’re born, they can be reassigned at a moment’s notice to another father or husband, another household, or another community. Most will have no educational choices (FLDS kids are taught in church-run schools, usually only through about tenth grade — by which point they girls are usually married and pregnant). Everything they produce goes into a trust controlled by the patriarch: they do not even own their own labor. If they object to any of this, they’re subject to losing access to the resources they need to raise their kids: they can be moved to a trailer with no heat, and given less food than more compliant wives, until they learn to “keep sweet.”

At the very least, women who do decide to leave the sect leave without money, skills, or a friend in the world. Most of them have no choice but to leave large numbers of children behind — children who are the property of the patriarch, and whom many of them will never see again. If a woman is even suspected of wanting to leave, she’s likely to be sent away from her kids to another compound far yonder as punishment for her rebelliousness. For a woman who’s been taught all her life that motherhood is her only destiny and has no real intimacy with her husband, being separated from her children this way is a sacrifice akin to death.

At the very worst, death is indeed what awaits them. The FLDS preaches “blood atonement” — the right of the patriarchs to kill apostates who dare to defy them, usually by slitting their throats. And they’ve done it: Krakauer hung his entire book on the murder of Brenda Lafferty and her year-old daughter, who were both killed by her husband’s brothers because Brenda rejected (and mocked) her husband’s desire to take plural wives. (Warren Jeffs also liked to rouse people out of their beds in the middle of the night for dramatic mass meetings testing their readiness for the Final Judgment — meetings that had dark shades of Jonestown.) Brenda is the only one known to have been killed, but others who’ve left report being threatened with the same fate.

So ABC’s reporters blather on about how these women aren’t really brainwashed, because that would require coercion and being held physically against their will. One hopes that if they understood that they’re holding forth about a group that routinely controls women by threatening to take away their kids — and tells them that God justifies the slaying of wayward brides and their babies — they’d change their minds and admit that this isn’t just another odd, quaint sect on the American religious scene. Without that information, though, everything else that’s going on in Texas loses much of its context.

April 22nd Update

Well, this posting from Sara made me a little bit sicker today, that’s for sure. Be sure to check out her full posting. It explains far more than you will see on the little news clips being presented.

This is FLDS founding patriarch Rulon Jeffs with his last two wives (he has around 100 I believe). They are sisters, Edna and Mary Fischer, shown on their wedding day. How delightful that he received the pair as a 90th birthday present.

The Fatal Flaw: Inbreeding Takes Its Toll
One of the most striking things about the FLDS is that certain surnames — Jeffs, Blackmore, Fischer, Jessop, Barlow, Steed — occur over and over again. In a community of over 40,000 people — many of whom share fathers, grandfathers, or uncles — the degree of blood relationship between any two people is likely to be very close indeed. In fact, over half the people in Hildale/Colorado City are blood relatives. So it’s not surprising that, starting in 1980, the tragic results of three generations of tight inbreeding began to appear.

That was the year the first Colorado City child was diagnosed with fumarase deficiency — a genetic disease so rare that only a handful of cases had ever been diagnosed worldwide. The disease causes severe mental retardation, seizures, hydroencephaly, growth failure, and physical deformities. Two of the FLDS’s old-line families, the Barlows and the Jessops, both carry the recessive gene — which is now present in several thousand FLDS members who trace their descent to those two founding fathers. By the 1990, Bramham writes, the twin FLDS cities had the highest concentration of children with fumarase deficiency in the world.

There are also signs of widespread hereditary eye problems among the current crop of children, along with evidence that that the community has a higher-than-average infant mortality rate. Arizona coroners recently — and finally — got involved in investigating these. But there’s plenty more here for public health officials to look at; and it’s becoming clear that the custom of close intermarriage needs to end on genetic grounds alone.


April 23rd Update
Just when I thought I could not be more worried, I read more about the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). Sara Robinson has done an impeccable job detailing the background to these types of churches and their danger to society.

To get folks up to speed, though, I would suggest reading the following documents in the following order.

1. Read Doomsday Religious Movements from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service which summarizes signs they look for to determine who’s gone over the edge and may becoming a security threat.

2. Sara did a comprehensive analysis of this report in 3 parts, which can be read here:
Are They Crazy Dangerous, or Just Plain Crazy?
Part Crazy Dangerous, Part II: Big Flashing Yellow Lights
Crazy Dangerous, The Last: Running Up to the Edge

3. Sara’s latest article compares the 12 main signs of trouble detailed in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service report to the FLDS church’s recent behavior, then scoring the FLDS on a five-point risk scale for each of the signs. Entitled HOW DANGEROUS IS THE FLDS?, this article is a must-read for anyone who wants to really understand the implications of societies such as these.

While we are all preoccupied with terrorism from abroad, sometimes we lose sight of the terrorism brewing in our own neighborhoods. I am a city girl so the chances of me encountering such rural families is slim. However, I have seen the power of the family unit and the destructive forces that are often hidden behind closed doors. Sadly, the intimidation of persons and animals, deemed to be of lesser strength or worth, is a continuing theme of the human condition.

Thank you, Bob Schieffer.

I watched the ABC debate the other night when the question came up, again, about why Senator Obama doesn’t wear a flag pin in his lapel. Since no one asked me, here’s my thought on all that.I think it is a nice thing if people want to wear a flag on their lapel. But I believe it more important to keep the flag behind our lapel; in our hearts. I feel the same way about wearing my religion on my sleeve; it fits better for me on the inside.

When I go to see our local baseball team, I do wear my Washington Nationals baseball cap. But am I less a fan if I don’t wear it to work?

The truth is I have been known to wear a red, white and blue, stars and stripes tie on the Fourth of July. Am I less patriotic when I trade it for my Santa Claus tie at Christmas? Patriotism is no more about signs or pins than religion is about reminding others how pious we think we are.

No, the proof in these puddings is not the signs we wear but how we act. Wouldn’t that also be a better way to judge our presidential candidates than by the jewelry they wear?

And, just in case you were wondering . . . .

How our puppy raisers are able to do it ……

pat-bear-graduation-web2.jpgPat Lawson is a Golden lover after my own heart. Currently a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence, she has raised nearly 20 puppies for various service dog organizations. Pat is shown here with her second CCI puppy “Bear” who graduated as a Skilled Companion in August of 2005. A while back she entered in our Labor of Love Photo Contest with a photo that showcased her first CCI puppy Raymond, who graduated in February 2003.

Golden Service Dog Raymond

Below please find a note sent to me by my CCI puppy’s new partner in life. I took this photo moments after meeting LaVonne and being reacquainted with ‘Raymond’ after his six months of formal CCI training. In the 12+ years of raising service puppies, I have never seen such a perfect match like LaVonne and Raymond. Raymond was a very special puppy to raise and had a romance with everyone who met him. It is true . . . Everybody Does Love Raymond! — Pat

Thank you for raising Raymond and training him so well and especially for giving him up—I love him so much I was willing to accept any dog they gave me but I fell in love with only Raymond the first day. They gave me different dogs in the AM and Raymond in the afternoon. There was such a difference—a magic between Raymond and me. He seemed so happy with me and followed my commands more quickly and easily. He’d turn his head toward me and look at me with those beautiful eyes and my heart melted—and still does. Working together just seemed more natural and easier with Raymond. At the beginning of the first week they gave me five different dogs to work with but by the middle, two (Raymond & Jomar)—and on Friday we could write the reasons we wanted a particular dog knowing it was still the trainer’s decision. I selected Raymond stating I felt a special connection that made our working together more effective. I am so thankful they felt the same way. Now when I look at the impromptu pictures taken during training—I can see a real sparkle and love in my face when working with Raymond.

The second week was terrifying as we were told no dog assignment was for sure, that they could change dog assignments at any time and we also had to pass all written and practical tests on Friday. The fear of losing a dog you already love made that last week very difficult and scary. I guess I should have had more self confidence but with the decision in someone else’s hands, not mine, I feared a broken heart if I did not get to take Raymond home Friday afternoon. I was told I had one of the highest scores ever on the written test, passed the practical and that I would be coming back in six weeks for one whole day to finalize the public certification with the rest of the class. Upon hearing that I was taking Raymond home, I cried with joy and relief. We quickly left the room and I invited Raymond up to my lap and we had the biggest hugging, loving, tearful exchange that was one of the most emotional times of my life. We were finally a team and we were going home together! — LaVonne

Pat just let me know about a very special video, with this special message:

This video features a young boy and his new CCI dog. It is all about why I can say goodbye to my great puppies once they are ready to go back to advanced training.

A Golden Retriever Orange Peeler

Tavi is a CCI Service Dog-in-Training [April 2008] being raised by Pat Lawson (she’s trained nearly 20!). Pat is a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of CCI. All the Goldens at Pat’s enjoy these wonderful organic navel oranges. She has a mini grove in Arizona where the oranges are growing at the base of the San Tan mountains, in soil that promotes incredible sweetness. Go here to order them yearly at winter time. We love ’em and believe that organics are great for every 2-legged & 4-legged family member. Click here to learn more about the importance of organics.

Wonderful Veterinarian running for Office!

Like his father, Jerry Nothington went on to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, and was asked to teach neurology at the Univ. of PA School of Veterinary Medicine for four years. He eventually helped to establish a veterinary specialty hospital, and continues his practice as a veterinarian with a practice limited to neurology.

As a scientist and healthcare professional, Jerry has had to develop listening, problem-solving, case management and other skills that are so lacking in the halls of Congress today. As a small businessman, he has had to learn how to stretch a dollar and keep good records. As a teacher, he has learned to communicate and motivate others to work toward a goal.

Jerry is now running for Delaware’s sole U.S. Representative slot. I am in Maryland, or I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. Us dog lovers generally have love affairs with veterinarians, as they are surely the most important medical folks in our lives. But, Jerry is that and much more. A veteran who fought in the Vietnam War, Dr. Nothington is truly concerned about the country and has decided to step up and show just how committed he is at making a difference.

Here is a very special entry from Jerry’s blog, entitled $3386 and I Am On The Ballot

The state of Delaware has a system for elections in which any person may join the fray by declaring their candidacy and paying a fee to the party of one’s candidacy. Today was the day for me. We trekked to Dover, DE, to file the papers and pay the fees. All went very well as my wife, our friend, and I wandered along the campaign trail one more day.

You can learn more about Dr. Nothington’s campaign and how you can help by clicking here.

Eddie and Pets for the Environment

Pets for the Environment was formed in early 2008 when Eddie joined forces with the scientists at Environmental Working Group. The mission: To create a healthy environment for pets and people by demanding toxic chemical reform legislation in the U.S.

I’m a dog on a mission.

When nonstick chemicals from a frying pan killed my buddy Feathers, and my feline friend Cleo and I found out that we’re full of chemicals too, I was barking mad. Did you know that the humans’ government doesn’t make companies test chemicals for safety before they start using them in our toys, furniture, or even our food? And where do you think all those flame retardants, mercury, and perfluorochemicals end up? In us! And I know because I was tested. The chemicals in me are the same kinds of chemicals in people, and scientists think that other cats and dogs—and horses and birds and bunnies and snakes—around the country are full of them, too.

That’s why I started Pets for the Environment. The humans have made a mess, and they aren’t doing anything about it. I need your help educating our humans and getting their government to pass toxic chemical reform legislation. They’ll never listen to just one pet, but all of us barking and meowing and cawing and squeaking together can make a lot of noise. Click here to join Pets for the Environment and help me make a difference!

The Environmental Working Group is filled with eye-opening articles and handy listings to help you have a healthier, non-chemically based life.

  1. 10 Everyday Pollution Solutions
  2. Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (Listing of 43 Fruits & Veggies) http://www.foodnews.org/
  3. National Assessment of Tap Water Quality More than 140 contaminants with no enforceable safety limits found in the nation’s drinking water. Search our database for your water quality reports.
    http://www.ewg.org/sites/tapwater
  4. Tuna Calculator: How Much is Safe? Calculate how much tuna you can eat before exceeding the FDA safety limits.
  5. Skin Deep Safety Guide to Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Go read their article, High Levels of Toxic Industrial Chemicals Contaminate Cats And Dogs

In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group found that American pets are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns.

The results show that America’s pets are serving as involuntary sentinels of the widespread chemical contamination that scientists increasingly link to a growing array of health problems across a wide range of animals-wild, domesticated and human.

Check out Eddie’s Healthy Pet Tips below. And, click here to download a handy printable PDF.

  • Choose pet food without the chemical preservatives BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, vary cats’ diets to limit their exposure to mercury in seafood, and choose organic or free-range ingredients rather than “by-products.”
  • Use a reverse osmosis, faucet-mounted, or pitcher filter to remove contaminants before filling your pet’s water bowl.
  • Replace older foam pet bedding, and replace or reupholster furniture with exposed or crumbling foam where flame retardants are found.
  • Vacuum often with a HEPA-filter vacuum, and take off your shoes at the door to minimize your pets’ exposure to toxic chemicals in house dust.
  • If you suspect your deck was made with arsenic-treated wood, treat it with a sealant every six months and don’t let pets play or sleep underneath it. Wash with mild soap and water, but never power wash!
  • Don’t get optional stain-proof treatments on couches, carpets and car upholstery—they’re loaded with toxic perfluorochemicals.
  • Avoid nonstick pans. An overheated nonstick pan can kill pet birds, and it gives off chemicals that may be bad for other pets and people too. Try cast iron instead.
  • Care for your lawn without using insecticides, which may cause nervous system damage in pets that walk on the treated lawn, eat the grass, or breathe in the chemicals.
  • Use kitty litter made of plant sources like wheat or recycled newspaper. Clay-based kitty litter is strip-mined, causing extreme environmental damage during extraction.
  • Get biodegradable, compostable doo-bags for when you go on walks with your pooch—or just reuse bags like plastic newspaper wrappers.
  • Not only are flea collars generally ineffective, they’re also a source of constant toxic exposure for your pet and family. Instead, vacuum often and thoroughly, bathe your pet regularly, and ask your vet or local pet store about safer flea treatments and repellents.
  • Try a mild baby shampoo intended for human use instead of a pet product. Just like human products, pet grooming product manufacturers aren’t required to test their grooming products for safety—but unlike human products, they’re not even required to list ingredients on labels. Use EWG’s Skin Deep at cosmeticsdatabase.com to find one that’s right for your pet.
  • Did you know that 63% of all households in the US have pets? Together, us pets can make a lot of noise—so spread the word! Sign up for Eddie’s email and action update list, tell your pet friends about Pets with an ecard.

Cancer Machine Potential reminds me of ‘Bones’ from Star Trek

If you missed this from 60 Minutes on Sunday, you must check out this story. I always marveled at how Dr. McCoy (Bones), on Star Trek, seemed able to wave a small receiver over a patient and provide medical treatment. That is what this machine reminds me of. How wonderful if it actually will be able to work on both 4-legged and 2-legged folks.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The $3 Trillion Shopping Spree

The occupation of Iraq will cost $3 trillion, America’s most expensive conflict since WWII. Can YOU spend that money better? Here’s your chance to go on a virtual $3 trillion shopping spree and prove it!

Browse an online store, fill up your cart, click the checkout button, and send virtual gifts to everyone you know. A private island fortress? Healthcare for all? Anything you can imagine, and if you can’t find it, add it yourself! Just click here!

BTW, want to see what I bought with my $3,000,000,000,000.00? Just go here and enjoy!

And, just in case you were wondering . . . .