My Books For Your Reading Pleasure

My Books For Your Reading Pleasure
Proud Indie Author

Friday, November 18, 2016

IT'S ALL ABOUT SAM ..... socializing a six year old dog


On the beautiful sunny afternoon of July 31st, 2016, rescue worker, Jennifer, arrived at our Elliot Lake home with Samson and Princess Delilah; two adorable, little, six-year-old chihuahuas.

For me, it was love at first sight.   I was still grieving the loss of our beautiful ten-year-old German Shepherd/Mastiff boy, Ki, on this day, while my love and happy memories of  sixteen-year-old, Jack Russell, Dudley, had become an integral part of who I am. 

Both Ki and Dudley were always the most affectionate, lovable, pets.  They hogged the bed at night, they walked happily on their leads and loved the attention of all they met on their walks.  They each got along well with people and with other dogs.  Pure delight, Ki and Dudley are my only experience with dog ownership.

Upon the arrival of these playful chihuahuas, I watched with fascination and amusement as the two little ones romped around my backyard seemingly making themselves right at home.

We received no warning.  Totally unprepared for a dog that growls, snaps, and bites, I was shocked the first time it happened.  My first bite from Samson was on my nose as I bent down to pick him up.   It was such a fast event that I had no time to move away and protect myself. 

Future growls and bites have been on my hands and just above my wrist.

I haven't been bitten by Sam for several weeks now.   His behavior is improving for sure.  But, also, I have adopted little tricks to keep myself bite-free.   I don't believe I've been successful in teaching Sam anything.  I've just sort of learned how to protect myself.   I keep hoping that love will conquer all.

Yes, the name Samson has been shortened to Sam, and Princess Delilah is now our little Lila.

Our understanding is that prior to coming to our home, these soon to be seven-year-olds lived with a lady who loved them.  However, this lady, I am told, did not entertain anyone in her home nor did she take her little dogs for walks.  These little Chihuahuas never met or interacted with anyone but this lady.   They knew only her home and her backyard.

Consequently Sam and Lila never saw other people and certainly never saw other dogs.

Knowing that they have never been socialized, I am doing my best to learn how to best bring harmony into their lives as well as  into my own.

Of the two, only Sam is a biter.  Lila, well, Lila is the barker.  Yes, they both bark but Lila is most often the instigator when it comes to barking.   And her bark is a high pitched yippy kind of bark that is known to grate on the nerves of people.  Sam's bark is a sincere, loud, pay-attention-to-me kind of a bark.   Lila is very affectionate.  Sam is very jealous if I give my affection to Lila.   Sam is also very affectionate when he wants to be.  They both love belly-rubs.   For the first few weeks they were both little poop-factories.   As much as I love them, between the two of them, I sometimes think I am going to go crazy.   Fortunately for several weeks now they have made no deposits in the house.

We want to socialize Sam and Lila.  And for this reason we take them for short walks in order for them to learn that, yes, there are other people and other dogs in this wonderful world.

If a person approaches when we are walking the dogs, Lila starts with her barking accompanied by Sam who expresses his barks and growls in a don't-mess-with-me kind of way.  We know that if we tighten their leads to keep them away from people it makes both dogs more determined to bark.    But we also know that if we don't tighten their leads someone could be bitten.   Oh, not by Lila.  Lila is not a biter.  But, by Sam, it is quite possible.  Therefore we feel we have no choice but to tighten their lead in order that no one be injured. 

Surprisingly we have had no problems with close family members coming into our home.  Oh, yes, Sam tries to be the bully but he soon settles down and behaves himself in their company.

Again we face a dilemma.  We want people to come to our home.  We love our friends.   Also, we know that unless people come into our home, Sam and Lila will never become socialized and welcoming to people.

Ninety-five percent of the time Sam is now very well behaved and respectful of me.  But still there are moments when I know he would rather bite me than do as he is told.

I have a friend.  Her name is Tammy.   I am so very grateful to have her in my life.  She is a fearless lover of animals.   And although Sam has been doing his best to bully her, Tammy stands firm earning Sam's respect.      She understands the situation and she knows how very much we want to teach Sam to get along with others.

I understand why most people don't want to come into our home.   At the same time, how can we socialize Sam and teach him to get along with people if he does not have people around him?  It is a conundrum.

We have been told that the lady who loved Sam and Lila for six years did not socialize; did not entertain in her home; did not take the dogs for walks.

Now, the question is this:  Did she not do these things because of Sam's behavior?  Or is Sam's behavior the result of her decisions?

This we don't know and, this, we will never know because the lady, sadly, has died.

I love Sam and Lila.   Most of the time in our home they are well-behaved, affectionate, and loving little pups.   We hope and pray that, in time, we will be able to say that they are this way all the time.  After all, they have been with us for just a little more than three months.

Life is good and life goes on.  But the truth is that for the past three months in our household it is all about Sam.  

We are grateful to our closest neighbours who have not yet complained to us about the yapping pups out on the verandah as the children walk by on their way home from school.   I don't put them out there every day as the kids go by, but I do on occasion because I am hoping that Sam and Lila will one day finally accept that there are children in this world and, hey, we don't own the sidewalks.

How do we socialize dogs unless we take them out into the world to see other people and dogs; unless we have people visiting in our home?     

We are in love with Sam and Lila.   And Lila, apart from her barking, is a delight.  She is not a growler or a biter; just a little yapper.   

If you have ever experienced anything similar in your own experience with your pet, I will be most grateful if you are willing to share what steps you took to socialize your dog.   I've been googling constantly and, yes, gaining some good advice in this way. 

Your positive thoughts are ever welcome.      Here's a photo of Sam and Lila. 



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Growing old -- some thoughts

There is no doubt that I have reached the stage in my life where I am no longer able to say that I am growing old.   I am old.   And, yes, I feel blessed to be old.  

I've known many wonderful people throughout my life who never had the opportunity to say I am old.

Contrary to the belief of many, being old is not a disease.

I know some people who are old who complain of feeling the cold.  Sometimes I complain about the cold; the snow; the necessity for boots, scarves and mitts.  But sometimes I love to go out into my back yard on a cold sunny day and just breathe in the fresh, life-giving, air.   I feel cold?  That's wonderful!   I complain because I feel too hot?  That's equally wonderful.   I feel happy?  Life is good.  I feel sad?  Life is good.    I feel uplifted?  Life is good.  I feel disappointed?  Life is good.

Life is good because I am feeling.  I feel.  I am. 

At the stage of life that I have reached I am able to achieve some things that remained elusive in earlier years; too filled were they with responsibility.   Yes, I continue to be responsible; but I am now able to let go.   I am able to let go of material things; downsizing is a wonderful release.   I am able to let go of people; something I thought I would never be able to do.  But I am now able to love those who choose to love me.   I am able to let go of those who choose not to love me.  And that's okay.  I am learning how to be like the title of my recent book.  I am learning how to Simply BE.

Being old does not mean I am dependent, miserable, lonely, or of no use.      Some people choose to be these things in their old age; some choose to be these things at an early age.    My use of the word choose  is deliberate.   Choosing is not always a conscious act.  Choosing is often unconscious but it is always possible to raise awareness in order to make conscious choices in life.

In my earlier years I devoted my time to many people, events, values, that I loved.   But simultaneously in my earlier years I too often devoted my time to many people, events, values, that I didn't love but they were often those that I believed I needed to permit in my life because it was expected of me.  

The expectations of others can be haunting; can be limiting; can be harmful.   Even today I know there are those who have expectations of me.   That is okay.  They are welcome to their expectations.  I no longer allow the expectations of others to interfere with those I have of myself.   This is another gift I am able to give to myself now that I am old.

When I finally arrived at what is commonly termed retirement age, I took a good look around me and asked myself, okay; now what?

This is when I began to write creatively.   Now eighteen books later, I still love to write creatively.    

More recently, my beautiful dog, Ki, died.   Grief overwhelmed me.  I loved and missed him so much.   I tried to write out my feelings but the words didn't want to come.

And then I remembered some good advice from my earlier training as a psychospiritual practitioner.   Draw out your feelings!  I can still remember those instructions well.  

I carried my grief, my pain, my love, and my memories of Ki downstairs into the basement.  I began to paint.   My first painting was one of sky and hearts and the names of every pet I had ever had the privilege of loving; those of my own and those of my closest family members.   

I poured my heart into this painting.   And the feeling within me was a good one.
I decided I would paint something just for my "Ki"
And so I did.

This is where I started.   An old woman who had spent her lifetime caring, typing, listening, encouraging the gifts of others picked up a paint brush and silently said, I am not intimidated.  I will simply do my best.

And this is what I do.   I accept the criticism of others.  Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't, but I have also come to know that I have no control over what another chooses to say.   I know I am not a Van Gogh or a Picasso.   What I am is someone who is enjoying the expression of who I am through the printed word and through my painting.

I wrote a book and I call it Simply BE.     In this book I express that we don't have to be perfect at everything we do.  We simply need to be who we are.  That is a good thing to be.  That is enough.

The picture on the cover of Simply BE is of my family of origin.  My Mom and my Dad; my brothers Ray and Ken; my sisters Eleanor, Muriel, and Linda.   And there I am, beside my mother with my arm around my baby sister.  I am 12 years old in this photo.
And the background of this photo is the little woods behind my current house in Elliot Lake.  This photo, so cleverly put together by my daughter, Susan,
beautifully unites my past and my present.
And with my past and my present, I am at peace.  I am able to Simply Be.

By now I have painted a lot of pictures.  I am running out of walls in my basement.

I have no training.  I may have discovered a very tiny grain of natural talent but mostly I have discovered a challenge; a wonderful learning curve that is satisfying.   Learning how to mix colours and playing with what turn out to be some very strange backgrounds that often get lost when the primary focus of the painting makes its debut.  I paint the way I write and this is by following my beautiful mother's advice which was If you want something done, then simply begin.  I still don't know how to draw a straight line and learning to paint fine lines is still a goal.   When I write a story I never know how it is going to end.  I follow the characters and they lead me where they want to go.   When I paint I never know how it is going to turn out.  Sometimes I try to do my rendition of a photo.  My painting, in the end, never looks like the photo.   I don't know if I will discover any talent but I have the desire and, for me, for now, this is enough.  I am enjoying the adventure of creating.

I have since been told that by choosing oils, I have chosen the biggest challenge.  I have since been told that by choosing to paint people, I have chosen the most difficult avenue of expression.  

Leave it to me!  Throughout my life I have always learned things the hard way and so it would seem that even now when I am old, I still do things the hard way.  This, too, is okay.  This way of being often contributes to a sense of humour which is sometimes difficult to find.

Two nights ago I had a dream; a real dream while I was sleeping.  When I awakened I remembered that in my dream along with my books, I had one painting, the one painting that was maybe sort of Christmasy because at least it was a winter scene.  I dreamed that this painting was on a table along with my books.

Knowing I have been painting pictures for only three months with no instruction, it was not an easy decision to take this painting along with me and to place it on my books table.   But, as I have done in the past, I continue to trust my dreams.  I believe they are, as Carl Jung believed, God's forgotten language.  

My heart was so warm when strangers complimented the painting.
When one of these strangers actually purchased it, I felt like I was in heaven.  I'm sure she must have thought I was crazy when I wanted to give her a big hug to thank her for her purchase.
And I do thank you, Pauline.

And I hope you will feel the love from this painting that now hangs in your home.

Yes, I am old.  But I am not dead.  Throughout my entire life I stated, I don't know how to draw a straight line.   And it's true; I don't.  But I have learned that crooked lines are more fun and more interesting than straight lines anyway so who cares!

The truth is that, surrounded by talented artists, as I was in my family, I felt intimidated; not good enough; not one who should ever pick up a paint brush.  My job was to encourage others; that is what I believed and I can't remember a time when anyone disagreed with this core belief and encouraged me to make the effort.

In my family also are talented singers and musicians.   I always felt like a bass in a soprano world.   Yes, I could carry a tune but I felt I could do so as long as I didn't have to carry it too far.   But a time came, and I believe the confidence came from the very fact of oldness, when I wrote the lyrics to a song; wrote the melody; and actually sang the song permitting others to hear it.   With the help of a most talented, good friend who did encourage me, I posted on You Tube, my song titled Too Late.

I also wrote lyrics to two others songs.  Listen to Love was recorded by the most talented singer/musician, Johnny Tyger.  You can also hear this song on You Tube.    I Followed My Heart to 108 has been recorded in Nashville by Kimberly Arnold.   This has made me believe that, hey, maybe I can write poetry.

And so I got busy writing poems and put them all together in an anthology which I have titled Poetry From A to Z.   In this book I have published my poems, the titles of which span the alphabet.  

So, you see, one thing follows another if we choose to allow ourselves to be who we are.

My very first book,  Sara, a Canadian Saga, I dedicated to my mother.  The picture on the cover of my very first book is also one of my family of origin.  In this cover picture I am the smallest girl who feels the loving hand of her mother on her shoulder.

Family has always meant everything to me.   Family still means everything to me but now that I am old, there is a difference.   I don't put myself on the back burner anymore.   I don't apologize for being who I am.   I don't want to displease anyone but to please is not my purpose; not a need; just not necessary anymore.   I love those who love me.   I am able to let go of those who want to let go of me.   And it is okay.

This coming summer I will celebrate my tenth writing anniversary.   During these ten years I grew old.  Yes, I did.  And that's okay too.   During these ten years I have written many books; eighteen so far, and still writing.    Of course I want people to buy my books.  Every writer wants people to buy the results of their labour and I am no exception.

As I Simply Be, so do my books and so do my paintings.   Some are better than others.  It is all very subjective.   Another's opinion is  wonderful to hear; especially when it is a positive opinion.   But my books and my paintings are what they are.   At the time they were created I was doing my best.   I never fail to feel thrilled when someone buys one of my books.   I never fail to thank that person for buying because, in buying, they are expressing encouragement and support.  For this I am always grateful.

When I began writing I had a wonderful publisher; Maggie Kirton of Wynterblue Publishing.  She believed in me and my desire to write creatively.    My earliest books were published by Mags.  She knows I love her and she knows I am forever grateful.

But the time came when Wynterblue stopped for a rest.   There I was, this old lady, who wanted to publish books but who had no publisher. 

Again I had no training but only the desire.  And so once again I taught myself.  I taught myself how to format my stories and how to get them on-line so that hopefully others would buy them.  I became a proud indie author.
There is not one person on this earth who knows when his time on this planet will end.   I am one of the most fortunate ones.  I have been allowed to grow old and I am allowed to enjoy being old.     I am allowed to Simply BE. 

When I first began self-publishing I knew nothing of the process.  I certainly did not know how to add a back cover to a book.  Three or four of my books have nothing on their back covers.  That's okay.   I learned.   And now my books have information on their back covers.

Let me share with you what I have written on the back cover of Simply BE.

Sometimes we forget that we are born into this world as human beings.

We forget because too much of the time is spent as human do'ers.

We do this; we do that; and then we do some more.

Sometimes we become involved in doing so much we forget who we are.

Simply BE is a reminder to all of us that it is possible
to be who we really are.

Life is good.   And life goes on.

You can also find me on Google Plus; Twitter; and Linked In, and I hope you do.

This blog post has been sparked because one stranger, who I now know as Pauline, bought my painting.  Pauline does not realize that by her purchase she made my dream come true.

Yes, indeed, life is good.  And life goes on. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Moose Road, a Canadian Tragedy: some reviews

Moose Road - a Canadian Tragedy:   I'm happy to share a few reviews with you.

"I grabbed your book and headed for bed. This was about 7:30.
I turned out the light just after midnight.
I couldn't put it down!
... Your characters are so real and believable! I absolutely fell in love with the Road, and Santo's dad, Arthur broke my heart and I think we all know someone a little...
like Eunice...
Just wonderful!
I liked how you interjected the Road's thoughts midway, and I liked the ending!
The story is riveting. I felt like I knew these people!"

Susan Ruby K.

A review by Lucy AnnSpence:
"WOW !!! Just finished reading  this fabulous book...Audrey, you have a winner here...thoroughly enjoyed it and held
my attention right to the end...."
Moose Road is an exciting story and the characters living on the same road were all so down to earth, and it is a story you will not want to put down
until you have finished reading it as I know I couldn't. There has been a lot of research put into this story and the author is to be commended on her
great work. Eleanor Lambert.

Moose Road, a Canadian Tragedy is available in both paperback and Kindle format on all Amazon sites.