Marching Into March 

Yesterday was the first day of March and it started off overcast but pleasantly mild. Hoping to avoid the predicted rain showers, I took Jazzmin on the short hilly walk right after breakfast. Although the clouds were thick, it was warm enough to walk without a coat and it didn’t start sprinkling until we were almost home. On our walk we were treated to the sight and sounds of a large group of turkeys in a field. I always enjoy seeing the males all puffed up as they try to attract the females.

Once back home and freshly showered, I expected to hunker down inside for the rest of the day and work while it rained outside. Mother Nature had other plans though as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Not one to waste such beautiful weather in the midst of winter, I took Jazz for a second walk, much to her delight! 

I spent a bit more time outside taking care of other important tasks because I knew the forecast was calling for a drastic drop in temperature the next day. Sure enough, this morning dawned with temperatures in the teens even though it had been 50s with I went to bed the night before. Such extreme temperature changes ushered in by ridiculously high winds seem unfortunately normal these days.

It was too cold to walk Jazzmin even once today and I ventured outside as little as possible but I know the weather will rebound eventually. March is a temperamental month as if it knows that everyone is eager for spring and it wants to hang onto winter a bit longer. Regardless, the world around me is starting to reawaken as spring nears and I’ll take it one day at a time while looking forward to warmth and new beginnings. 

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Time Flies with Big Brown Puppy Dog Eyes

Jazzmin being adored by Daisy

Five years ago today I adopted my beloved pup Jazzmin aka Jazz/Jazzerboo/Puppers/Goofball etc., etc. I can’t imagine my life without her following me around and watching me with her big brown puppy dog eyes.
We’ve learned a lot from each other over the years. I’ve taught her how to play fetch and she’s taught me the importance of walking every day, weather permitting. We learned the right way to walk together and although it’ll always be a work in progress, we’ve come a long way. 

When I adopted Jazzmin from the shelter, she was untested with cats and I had two cats at the time, my senior cat Aviendha and my former feral cat Owl. Fortunately, with some patience, refereeing and the unavoidable affection of loving Owl, Jazzmin learned to live happily with cats. 

Avi has since passed and Jazzmin has learned to love our two newer cats Angel and Daisy. During the winter, all three of them are quite often snuggling on the couch with me as Owl sits closeby. Their furry, sleeping bodies help keep my body warm and their unconditional love warms my heart.

Jazzmin’s sweet nature helped my daughters get over their fear of dogs and see just how great pups can be. Jordan will walk her sometimes and Jaycie wants to become a dog trainer some day and own multiple dogs. Amazing what the love of a yellow mutt can do! 
As I write this, Jazzmin is rolling around on her back on the floor like the adorable goofball she is. I gave her a special treat to mark her five year adoptiversary and she was happy to snarf it. Five years with her and her big brown puppy dog eyes have flown by!  I don’t know if she even still remembers living in the shelter or who owned her before she became a stray, but I do know that she seems very happy now and that I’m very happy to have her as my loyal companion and walking buddy. 

Have pup, must walk!

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When I first adopted Jazzmin four years ago, all I knew was that I wanted a dog. I figured a dog would be good company when I didn’t have my daughters and a dog would motivate me to walk more regularly. I had been walking almost every day that first year in my house until winter set in and I then lost all desire to venture out in the cold. But when I adopted Jazz, I didn’t rescue a dog, I rescued a pup.

I call her a pup because I think it’s as adorable as she is and because she has the seemingly limitless energy of a puppy. She was two (best guess by the shelter) and already well trained when I adopted her and knew sit, stay and shake. She was also crate trained which was perfect because at the time I worked away from home and had to leave for several hours a day.

The first night I had her home it was just me, her and the two cats I had at the time. Not knowing how good she was about letting me know when she needed to go out, I took her out a few times during the night despite the snow and cold of January. I quickly learned that she’s very good about telling me when she needs to answer nature and that she can make it all night without a problem.

It took me a while to figure out the right way to walk Jazzmin, but even as we were figuring that out, I walked her almost every day. It was obvious how much she loved walking and I didn’t want to deny her that pleasure, even in the cold. I bought her a fleece jacket and booties to help keep her warm and dry and we walked the roads around my house quite regularly.

I’ve kept up the regular walking of my pup Jazz for four years now and I don’t intend to stop. I have watched the Dog Whisperer and know that he suggests walking a dog daily to get their energy out. I don’t actually think it’s possible to get all of Jazz’s energy out, but I do at least try.

I think I owe it to Jazzmin and myself to walk as often as we can. It’s good for both of us as it’s great exercise and gets us out in the fresh air, even when that air has a wind chill in the single digits like it did today. There are some days we don’t walk because it’s too cold or too hot or I’m sick but otherwise, if I’ve got at least 15 minutes, I walk my pup. She doesn’t have the best concept of time so she forgets I’ve walked her shortly after we get home, but I know I’ve walked her and that makes me feel like a good pup Mama.

Although I’m not perfect and I don’t always walk Jazz for as long as experts recommend, I know she’s far better off than most of the dogs in my neighborhood. We rarely see other people walking their dogs, but we do hear the dogs barking at us from inside the confines of their home. Having a nice, safe, warm home is a wonderful thing for any dog and I’ve provided that for Jazzmin, but that’s not enough for me or her. When I rescued her, I committed to giving her a full, happy life and the best way to do that is to put paws to pavement and wiggle on down the road!

Unconditional Love Wrapped in Yellow Fur

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Four year ago today I adopted my pup Jazzmin from Happy Tails Animal Shelter in Canandaigua, New York. I’d wanted to get a dog since my divorce in the summer of 2011, but I hadn’t found one that looked like the right fit yet. I grew up with family dogs and loved them, but had been unable to have one during my marriage because my ex didn’t like dogs. He wasn’t overly fond of cats either, but he put up with them because I wanted them. The freedom to get whatever animals I want and love them without concern for allergies or lack of a partner’s fondness is one of the many reasons I enjoy being single.

Jazzmin and I were a perfect fit right from the start and a friend has called her the canine version of me. She’s full of energy, optimistic and has the most adorable brown eyes. Just like me 😉 She goes a little heavy on the 80’s black eyeliner look, but it works on her and adds a deeper patheticness to her puppy dog eyes.

I was trying to keep Jazz's ears warm. She was not impressed...

I was trying to keep Jazz’s ears warm. She was not impressed…

Jazz and I have had our ups and downs as we’ve figured each other out. I didn’t really know the proper way to walk a dog, ie they walk next to you or behind and not in front, but I learned and taught her. Nowadays she stays by my side with only occasional reminders, as long as a squirrel doesn’t run across the road or we encounter another dog. She’s like me in the social aspect, she likes other dogs but gets overexcited and isn’t sure how to act. Whereas I tend to become shy in similar encounters with humans, she gets exuberant. We may never have the “social with our own kind” thing figured out, but she LOVES people of all kinds and is a favorite visitor at the boarders when I go on my road trips.

Jazzmin panting a smile after our walk.

When I adopted Jazzmin, they guessed that she was around two years old, which makes her around six now and she shows no signs of slowing down. She still walks the road like it’s going to disappear if she doesn’t keep moving and she’s my almost constant shadow when we’re inside. Most days I almost trip over her when I turn around and while I appreciate the loyalty, I don’t need help being clumsy.

I’ve managed to teach Jazz a few things over the years. I taught her how to play fetch indoors. We try it outdoors but she loses all focus and just runs in a circle like a lunatic. I’ve taught her to wait patiently for food and treats and can almost balance a biscuit on her nose before she gobbles it. I’ve advanced the traditional “shake” into a “high five” where she raises the paw a bit higher and while I can’t get her to speak on command, she will howl-talk at me sometimes when she’s impatient. My 9-year-old black cat Owl and I taught Jazzmin that cats are pretty cool and while she may never really “love” the younger cats (neither will Owl), she definitely loves Owl.

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me today

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me

Jazzmin has taught me some things over the years too. She’s taught me that no matter what I do, I’m always worthy of love and that the best snuggles on the couch usually involve a big pile of yellow fur that twitches and snores. Jazz has taught me a new level of patience as I’ve worked to improve her leash skills over the years. I’ve become more aware of my surroundings too as I try to spot squirrels and other distractions on walks before she does.

Jazzmin and the sky

In honor of today’s adoptiversary, I gave Jazz a nice big beef bone and she’s been working at it with occasional water breaks for almost two hours. She’s very determined when it comes to getting every last ounce of marrow out of a bone or chewing on a new toy until the squeakie is suitably dead. There’s a lot to love about Jazzmin. Her porcupine quill-scarred nose, perky ears (her right is always slightly higher than her left) white chest, buns of steel as my vet calls them and upright tail that’s wagging almost all the time all make her uniquely adorable to me.

She's rather fond of lobster tail

She’s rather fond of lobster tail

I can’t imagine my life without Jazz and she’d best live forever! I know I’ll own dogs for the rest of my life and every last one will be a rescue like her because every dog deserves a loving home. If you’re ever looking for a new companion, I urge you to go to your local shelter or contact one of the many pet rescue organizations to find the perfect compliment to your life. I see so many dogs and cats I wish I could adopt, but I don’t have the room or the money to create my own “circus.” Maybe someday, but not now. For now I’ll just love the animals I have and do my best to provide them with a very happy home. =)

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

The Wonder of a Walk

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Lovely blue sky above my house today!

Today’s weather was a lovely preview of summer complete with temperatures in the mid 70’s, sunshine, and a steady breeze. Once I finished my morning work, I saddled Jazzmin in her dog backpack and we headed out on a mile-long walk. I haven’t walked that far in quite some time and it was definitely the furthest I’ve walked since I got bronchitis.

I’m happy to say that I’ve mostly recovered from the bronchitis. I can tell because not only did I not need a nap yesterday, but I couldn’t fall asleep last night and woke up in the middle of the night. When I’m healthy, I rarely sleep through the night and considering all the “extra” sleep I’ve had the past few weeks, I imagine I’ll be wired for a while.

The walk with Jazzmin was beautiful and very energizing, even though I’m still not quite up to my usual speed. I enjoyed listening to and seeing the birds and I even had a fly-by from a hawk at one point.

If you look carefully, you'll see the hawk sitting in the branches of a tree.

If you look carefully, you’ll see the hawk sitting in the branches of a tree.

The grass is greening up and one yard had a spread of colorful crocuses popping up. The sun was nice enough to stay behind the clouds for our walk and we were still plenty warm enough in the mid-morning temperatures.

Colorful crocuses in a yard down the road.

Colorful crocuses in a yard down the road.

Temperatures won’t be this warm again for a while, but they’re still predicted to be more spring-like and I’ll happily take that!

The small stream I like to sit beside.

The small stream I like to sit beside.

Squirrel!

dog in the snow with booties

This assignment for Intro to Creative Writing was one of my favorites to write. We had to write a short story and though I struggled for a while picking a subject, once I figured it out, it flowed smoothly. Here’s a little glimpse of what it feels like to be Jazzmin…

***

Squirrel!

Sitting quietly and patiently as instructed, I stare eagerly at the front door as my mama puts on her boots to go outside. The snow outside is up to my yellow-furred belly in spots, but I don’t mind because that just makes it more fun to frolic in. I’m wearing my blue and black weighted backpack because I like to have a job and because Mama says it slows me down a little.

Sometimes Mama puts rubber booties on me to keep my feet warm, but she says it’s above freezing this morning and I’ll be okay without them. That makes me very happy because I hate those booties! Whenever she puts them on, I try to stand on one leg rather than put my booted feet down. Unfortunately, standing on one leg is impossible for me because I have four legs and I need to have at least two down to keep from falling over.

Once she’s all dressed in her boots, gloves, and winter coat, Mama reaches for the front doorknob and I stand up, my tail wagging happily behind me. We’re almost out! She turns to me with stern brown eyes and I remain standing still waiting for her command. “Come, Jazzmin,” she says in the authoritative tone that reminds me to move calmly instead of leaping toward the door. I do as she commands and walk slowly to the door, though I have no control over the arched yellow tail still wagging happily behind me.

Mama pulls the main front door open and I press my nose up to the closed storm door beyond it. I’m sure I can suck in the outdoors through my snout if I just try hard enough! I hear Mama’s low chuckle and then the storm door is open and I’m ready to take off on today’s adventure! Mama’s quick tug on my leash stops me though and I remember that she’s the pack leader and she goes first.

Once Mama steps through the open storm door and onto the snowy deck, she says “come” again and I’m eagerly at her side with my short ears perked straight up and my deep, brown eyes trying to absorb everything on the deck, in the yard, and into the trees beyond. We don’t go on as many walks in the winter as we do in the warmer weather so every time Mama puts my backpack on I get very happy and excited.

We move down the steps from the deck side by side and it feels like it’s been months since I was outside walking! There are so many smells I’d almost forgotten existed and so much to see even though it’s all blanketed in snow. The snow crunches beneath my paw pads as we walk down the driveway and then I catch the sight of movement. Is it snow falling from a tree? A bird? A car driving by? Oh no, it’s something much better! It’s a squirrel! Hang on, Mama!

Finding the beauty

ice covered tree against winter sky

I don’t think I’ll ever say I love winter weather as an adult, but I’m working on not hating winter. I loved winter as a child when I would put on my snowsuit to go outside and play in the snow with my brothers. Once I started driving in snowy winter weather and experienced the panic of getting stuck in a snowbank and sliding backward down a hill, my love for winter vanished.

Although it got a late start (thankfully) this winter has been especially unpleasant with the unending snow and ridiculously frigid temperatures. During the day, I work at my desk with a blanket over my legs and a space heater by my feet to stay warm because my house leaks like a sieve. I hung insulated curtains by my desk and even installed an outlet insulator on the nearest plug, but I still feel a breeze across the top half of my bundled-up body as I work.

The sun has been in very short supply recently so when it made an appearance this morning, I was thrilled! I watched it rise over the hills, I took pictures, and I tried to memorize what it looked like. Unfortunately, it disappeared a few hours later and the dull winter sky returned.

As I worked, I silently urged the sun to return and magically enough, it did! By noon the sun was in full shine amid a blue sky and I knew I couldn’t pass up such a beautiful opportunity for a walk, especially since it’s supposed to get back down below zero tomorrow. I saddled Jazzmin in her backpack, put on my shape-up boots, zipped up my coat, and led my pup out the door and into the 30 degree winter weather.

snowy field upstate NY

Knowing we wouldn’t be able to walk again for a while, I took us on the winding hilly road that’s more fun to walk than drive in the winter weather. Jazz was very well behaved and the scenery was cold but lovely. Yesterday a snowy fog lingered all day so today all of the trees were coated with a shimmering layer of ice that reflected the sunlight. As we walked, the ice and snow began to melt off the trees and at one point we were standing beneath a tree that was creating a gentle, mini snowfall.

ice covered tree against blue sky

During the walk, I felt my mind and spirit restored and I thanked the universe for the gift of warm sunshine. Finding the beauty in winter weather isn’t always easy for me, but after today I know it’s not impossible.