the fisherman


tilting at the windmill

The Galisteo Basin Preserve was once a large cattle ranch.   It is miles of cow trails, rutted dirt roads and nature.  Old cowboy camps and lean tos dot the countryside with broken-down foundation remains and falling-down corrals.  A dry river bed runs through the ranch, it’s eroded banks reaching as high as twenty-to-thirty feet above the sandy river floor in some places.  I know of three windmills with water troughs at their base, their blades creaking against the wind as the pump struggles to pull up water for the trough.  All combined, it is a rustic reminder of its western heritage and the old frontier.

Just a few miles from our home, the GBP is now a hiker’s mecca.  It’s a horse and rider’s trail workout and mountain biker’s nirvana.  It’s where we take the girls for their daily walks.

Our first few experiences at the Preserve were riddled with adventure.  As Amore scouted for lizards, Tiamo trotted along sniffing every low hanging branch there was.  Dolce stayed at our heels.  New trails brought new scents and the girls would scatter about to investigate the foreign territory.  Once or twice we will catch sight of a coyote, several times we have crossed paths with snakes.  We’ve seen evidence of antelope and deer and have heard of sightings of mountain lions.  The easy access to water makes the area ideal for wildlife.  And koi.

The dogs had a habit of drinking the trough water at the tail end of our hikes.  Though we packed water with us to keep the girls hydrated throughout our walks, they like the cold, fresh from the well, water.  We make a point to stop at the troughs before loading up into the car, allowing the girls one last sip.

It was on a cold, drizzly January day, the wind kicking up due to an incoming storm, when we were trying to get a quick walk in before being hit with the impending deluge.  As we finished our hike and neared the water trough, Tiamo ran ahead to get her fill.  At the edge of the trough she stilled, looking intently into the darkened mossy water.  We saw she was tracking something but had no idea what.  Her quick eyes had spotted movement and she was on it. Waiting just a few seconds, she moved her head in a little circle and before we knew it, leaped over the rim into the water trough.  Icy cold water splashed heavily over the sides.   Large water droplets landing on both Malcolm and I.  Cold, freezing ucky water  soaking our sweatshirts.  The wake of her splash landing on our boots.

“What the hell?” Malcolm shouted.  With a death grip, I grabbed on to the collars of Amore and Dolce, the only foot-loose canines left on dry land.  I wasn’t about to let Amore and Dolce follow into the trough along with mama.  Malcolm scrambled to get to Tiamo.  Once in the trough, Tiamo didn’t want to get out.  She had more fish to fry.  Literally.  Namely the koi hiding deep in the bottom moss of the water tank.  Tiamo had gone fishing.

As I held on to the girls, Malcolm struggled to haul Tiamo out of the water.  Jumping in was much easier than climbing out.  The rim was nothing more than a sharp torch-cut metal edge, hurtful for Tiamo to balance her paws on to jump out.  The weight of the water, the slippery moss-covered bottom hindered her escape from the cold water.  She was stuck.  She was completely soaked, now trembling from the frigid water.   The koi forgotten, she wanted out.

There was no two ways about it.  Malcolm was going to have to lift her out.  He was going to have to reach in the finger-numbing icy water to pull Tiamo out.  Cussing like a sailor, Malc stripped off his jacket and sweatshirt, pulled off his gloves and plunged his arms into the water, encircling Tiamo’s belly to heft her out of the water.  100 pounds of basically full on dead weight – this was not going to be an easy feat.  As she was clearing the water Tiamo panicked.  Back legs kicking, front paws scratching Malcolm’s bare torso, Tiamo twisted and turned for freedom.  Malcolm and Tiamo landed on dry land but both were soaking wet.  And freezing.  And stinky from the stagnant waters.  Malcolm was covered in stinky mossy uck.  Tiamo just stunk.

Needless to say, I drove home, Malcolm sat in the back with the dogs.


Dolce scouting for goldfish


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“Get your elbows off the table!” my mother scolded.  She was always after us kids to mind our P’s and Q’s, reminding us to say “please”, “thank you”, and “yes, Sir”.  Dinners were lessons in the napkin goes on the left, the glass in the upper right corner, spoon to the right of the knife facing inwards towards the plate.  Reprimands of “don’t chew with your mouth open” and “don’t talk with your mouth full” were dispersed between the meal’s conversation.  My mom was big on manners.  Over and over and over mother would admonish our unbecoming behavior.

The lectures didn’t come to a stop when one by one, we matured into adults.  They just took a different slant.  “Take your feet off the furniture!” she would chastise my sisters and I when we would come to visit.  As the grandbabies started arriving, we were chided for our language, “not in front of the kids” mom would caution as a swear word slipped out of our mouths. I have no doubt we caused her many embarrassing moments with our inappropriate, or lack of, etiquette.  “You just wait until you have kids!” was mother’s final reproach to us.

My past regressions are coming to haunt me, cause now Malcolm and I have kids, or rather dogs (same thing).  And talk about embarrassing!

Tiamo was so good, so well-behaved, Malc and I just assumed her good manners would rub off on the pups.  Tiamo never begged or whined when company was over.  Tiamo never mis-behaved while out in public.  We had worked hard in her training, repeating commands, rewarding her good behavior.   She sat, she came, she heeled.  She stayed, she stayed off the bed and she stayed close to our side when walking.  She was damn near perfect!

When the puppies were born,  we morphed from a family of three to a fledgling football team of eleven.  Overnight.  Spring Training consisted of performing head-counts twice a day to be sure we still had our team intact.  On a sunny day, we exercised the puppies in the pen.  On a cold day, they ran amok in the house.  We held on tightly to the belief that when the puppies were traded to their new home-camp, they would receive the proper training.  That, once we were down to Mama, Amore and Dolce we would get to work on their end-game.

However, once we were down to just Tiamo, Amore and Dolce training halted.  Came to a complete stop, occasionally back pedaling.  The coaches had thrown in the towel.

Don’t get me wrong, we tried.  We tried really hard.  With treats, Amore and Dolce learned how to sit.  With arms of steel, a heavy ballast, and treats in our pockets, they learned to walk by our sides.  With a whistle and a treat in hand, they learned to come…  well, mostly come…. okay, sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t, mostly they don’t.   Everything else we tried was useless.  We tried the STAY command.  The DOWN command.  The OFF command.  The HERE and WALK.  The pat on the thigh, the out-stretched hand, the hand-held up and out.  We tried the clicker.  We tried separating them with individual workout sessions.  We paid for trainers, enrolled in behavior classes.  I tried to mimic my mother’s stern voice.  I tried the full name reprimand including the middle name like my mother when she was upset with us.   Nothing worked.

My famous saying to Malcolm was, “when the girls turn 6 months”,  they’ll be better with their manners.  They just need time, they are still puppies.  That turned into “when Amore and Dolce are a year old”, they’ll be more mature, better able to handle the training.  They needed to grow out of their puppy stage.  That turned into “let’s wait until the puppies are around 18 months”  before we expect to a see difference.  Then, I pushed the time frame out further.  “Maybe when they are 3 years old”, Amore and Dolce will be better mannered, more behaved.

They turn six years old in a month.  They only know “sit”, “down” and “off” and not very well at that.  And Amore still picks her nose.






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Winner Winner Pesto Pasta Dinner + Recipe

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And the winner goes to KC Hop Talk – yep, it’s a beer and pesto pasta night for ya’ll to try out.

The Wandering Gourmand

The Gourmand household has been hashtag trending on eating seasonal.  Sure that’s easy to say in the middle of the summer when the tomatoes are plump, the peppers are ripe, and the peaches are juicy.  But with the recent addition of the Weeknight Fresh and Fast cookbook (you gotta buy this) to our library, we plan to keep the trend going year round.  You’d be surprised what the Farmers Market offers beyond the summer plenty.

Thus, I was pumped for the Perfect Pesto Pasta Pairing Challenge (Say that five times fast) as presented by Wander and Wine.  Pesto is one of our favorite meals to prepare in the summer.  It’s versatile and easy to cook which it makes a great weeknight dinner or a quick dish to throw together for a picnic.  However, I was curious about what to pair though as the strong herbs and garlic can ruin…

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Uh Oh!!! A Tie in July’s Beer Versus Wine Challenge!!!

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Pasta and Beer OR Pasta and Wine? You decide

The Wandering Gourmand

Uh Oh!!!  A Tie in July’s Beer Versus Wine Challenge – Pesto Pasta!!!  And it couldn’t be a more perfect tie – a beer and a wine!  In one corner, we have KC Hop Talk’s recommendation of Boulevard’s Tank 7, a farmhouse ale, with 27% of the vote.  In the opposing corner we have Wander and Wine’s recommendation of an Italian Verdicchio, a white wine, also with 27% of the vote (Duh! It was a tie after all!).

As there is nothing in the rules about what to do in the event of a tie and I am the host of the challenge, I get to play dictator for a moment (I feel very powerful right now).  We’re going to host a 24 hour run-off vote between Boulevard’s Tank 7 and an Italian Verdicchio. 

Voting ends Thursday, July 24 at 12:00pm Eastern Time.  Tweet out this link to…

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so god made a dog


It starts with a tiny whimper, a small murmur barely audible to our human ears.  The slight quaking of Amore’s front fore legs is, at first, scarcely discernible underneath her thick feathery fur.  Amore’s apprehension and anxiety quickly escalates into deep, heavy panting and full body tremors, along with wide-eyed panic and fright.  All caused by thunder. Thunder and lightning.

Up until a year ago, Amore would sleep right through the loud clashing of thunder.  Up until a year ago, the rumble of thunderstorms, the whip of lightning didn’t bother her.  Up until a year ago, Amore was fine with the summer storms that rolled over our high desert. Today it’s a different story.

Today, Amore’s fear from the loud crack of lightning sends her into terrifying distress.  Today, her terror and fear of a storm can last long after the billowing dark clouds have passed.  It’s heartrending to witness.  Her terror and anguish is agonizing to watch.  We’ve tried everything.  Thunder shirts, calming music, distractions, car drives.  We have read articles and books and talked to experts to learn how to minimize and/or eliminate her fear.  Nothing seems works but to wait it out, giving her time to calm down while the tempest blows by.

July marks the start of our monsoon season and right on cue, our monsoon rains came within days after the calendar flipped to the seventh month.  This Fourth of July weekend brought a series of rains, cool relief from the hot temperatures of summer.  But with the rains came thunder and lightning, and on it’s heels, came Amore’s shaking and rapid breathing,  her anxiety palatable.  By late Sunday afternoon another storm was rolling through, the growl and grumble of thunder far in the background was faint and distant.  Amore’s keen hearing distinguished the thunder.  Fear gathered in her brown eyes as she quickly recognized the rumble.  The tremors already starting as terror locked in on her body.

Malcolm and I instinctively knew this time it was going to be a bad one.  Malcolm hurried to retrieve the thunder shirt as I went towards Amore.  Before I could reach her shaking frame, before I could take two steps forward, Dolce was already there besides Amore, offering her comfort and love.

As obvious dog lovers, Malcolm and I understand the joy and comfort dogs give humans.  We know how rehab dogs can help patients heal, both physically and mentally.  We are aware that canines can sense the onset of seizures and depression and assist their owners.  Dogs give and give and give and give some more to their loved ones.  They are a comfort to our soul, a balm to our weary hearts. They can pack more smiles in the wag of their tail then a kid in a candy store. Loyal, a trusted companion, without judgement, they are man’s best friend.  We understand why god made a dog.

So when Malcolm and I saw Dolce come along side of Amore, leaning against her to give relief, we froze in place to observe.  We watched in awe as Dolce nudged her litter mate, reassuring Amore that all would be okay. We watched Dolce as she licked away at Amore’s mental fear and pain.  We watched Dolce place a gentle paw on a quivering Amore to calm her, soothe her.  Dolce’s paw stayed on Amore shoulder for over ten minutes before the shaking began to still.  We watched Dolce lean against her sister for more than a half-hour, easing Amore’s anguish, absorbing her fear.  We watched Dolce give peace to her sibling.  Watching Dolce give comfort, we understand why god made a dog.

So God made a dog……

Video by webartads


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You choose!

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You choose!.

5 Human Foods good for Fido

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Warning: Spaghetti is not one of the 5 human foods to feed your dog (but it's a really cute picture). (Corbis Images)Warning: Spaghetti is not one of the 5 human foods to feed your dog (but it’s a really cute picture). (Corbis  …Most of the time, pet owners are cautioned to never feed their furry friends “people food.” Veterinarians often remind pet owners that chocolate, grapes, and raisins can be poison to dogs and cats and that onions can cause a life-threatening form of anemia. And while broccoli, cauliflower, and other vegetables in the brassica family (cruciferous vegetables) can be healthy additions to diet, but can have a troublesome affect on thyroid function unless they’re cooked before feeding.

But there are human foods that, when used as a supplement to a dog or cat’s diet, can be quite beneficial to their health. Our pets have thrived on our leftovers for hundreds of years, but with increasingly unhealthy diet choices in human meals, we need to be careful what we offer our pets from our own plates.

Human foods such as meats, fish, cheeses, and other animal products can be used regularly in a healthy pet’s diet. We just have to be sensible about what we feed, and, of course, how much.

So what should you skip? Avoid feeding your pet any corn, wheat, soy, or peanut butter in food or treats. Be aware that glutens, spelt, maize, breads, corn syrups, and pasta are other names for wheat and corn products.

Dogs who have “sensitive stomachs” may just need a healthier diet of fresher foods. The GI tract depends on a large amount of appropriate bacteria to function properly, and to decrease gas and improve stool consistency. Because the foods we feed our pets tend to be so carefully packaged to avoid bacterial pathogens, it may be difficult for animals to obtain proper bacteria for their gastrointestinal tract. A periodic probiotic supplement or some yogurt (and if you can find it, goat yogurt is even better than cow yogurt) can help re-populate the GI tract and improve digestive health.

Other over-the-counter probiotics can be used as a pet supplements as well. Dairy-free versions are available for sensitive animals. Just remember to look for well-sourced organic products from respected companies.

Aside from the occasional meat treat or healthy leftover, here are five additional foods that you should be feed your pet, and why they’re good for your furry friend.

Unsweetened Canned Pumpkin
For a Superman-strength stool regulator, give your dog or cat a bit of pumpkin. It regulates moisture and provides a gentle fiber, making it a terrific tool to combat constipation or diarrhea. Dosage is 1 tablespoon once or twice daily for a 30-pound dog or a 1/2 teaspoon for an average cat, in food or as a treat. I’m surprised at how many cats like to eat straight pumpkin from a spoon, but you also can mix pumpkin with meat, baby food or yogurt.

Fun idea: Put the pumpkin or pumpkin mixes (with yogurt, meat baby foods or other meat-based treats) into ice cube trays or in rubber toys, or in spoonfuls on wax paper and freeze to use later as treats. This also solves the problem of open cans of pumpkin from going bad in your fridge.

Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil aren’t just good for humans, they can improve your pet’s coat and him recover from inflammatory conditions, arthritis, and skin problems. How? Omegas encourage free-radical scavenging, which can decrease inflammation. But take note: Carnivores do not efficiently convert plant sources of omegas, like flaxseed or hemp, so stick with fish oils.

I personally believe pet owners should avoid feeding their animals krill oil (which is derived from small crustraceans usually found in the Arctic and Antarctic seas), since it’s the only thing whales eat, so let’s not be cruel and take it away. While Omegas are usually a helpful supplement, they’re not for all pets. Fish oil may not be recommended for an animal that is overly hot, and has oily/hot skin or loose stools. If you’re giving your pet Omegas, be sure to monitor the response to see if they’re right for your animal.

Psyllium Fiber
Many foods, including many raw foods, may not include enough fiber. Typically a scavenger or carnivore would eat a good deal of fiber – including roughage like hair, feathers, and nails. And those are not typical ingredients in pet foods. Adding psyllium fiber (about a teaspoon per meal for a 50-pound dog or a 1/4 teaspoon for an average cat) is a great way to improve the fiber content of the food. Derived from the husks of seeds in the Plantago family, Psyllium fiber contains a high level of soluble dietary fiber. It can be found in most supplement sections of your local drugstore or supermarket. Fiber moving through the GI tract can be used to improve symptoms of both loose stool and constipation, and may even enhance the ability to fight off GI parasites.

White Rice
Cooked white rice can relieve signs of diarrhea. But how you prepare it can really make a difference. Cook the white rice with extra water and overcook until it is gloopy. Your pet’s system can absorb it better when it’s overcooked and sticky-wet. The reason it works is because of its absorbent quality, not its nutritive value, which is why brown rice is not as effective for diarrhea and loose stools. But do not use Minute Rice; all the good absorbent stuff has been processed out of it.

Chicken or Beef Broth
Warm, low sodium chicken or beef broth — or even plain warm water — can be added to pet food to increase palatability. The meat broth itself can enhance the flavor of foods, and foods smell more appetizing when they are warmed. In addition, if you’re concerned about hydration, pets will drink more fluids if the fluids taste good.

Barbara Royal is a veterinarian in Chicago who is internationally renowned for her work in integrative medicine and physical rehabilitation. She is the author of “The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets” and the go-to veterinarian for Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Royal currently is president of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and president-elect of the AHVM Foundation. She also is the founder and owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center in Chicago.

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