Zen on the Trail 

As Corbin departed his aging 13.5 year old body last week, this post seems appropriate to share again in his memory. It captures so much that was special about a dog that left a paw-shaped hole in my heart.
~ Kat

Travel. Garden. Eat.

It has been a long week. The candle was burning at both ends most days; I sacrificed some needed sleep to find those extra hours in the day. So when the end of the work day rolled around on Friday, it was tempting to just pour a glass of wine and tell myself I could postpone a run until the weekend.  Finding great camaraderie and motivation through the “Another Mother Runner” podcasts that often keep me company on the road, I signed up for a 5-week training program through the “Train Like a Mother Club” to jump-start the fitness machine after taking a break following the more intense training earlier this year for my June marathon.  Nothing like a  virtual community of training partners to provide some accountability … in addition to my faithful companion.

Today’s training schedule called for a “Zen Run” – leave the GPS watch behind, pull out the…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

Creepy to some …. nature’s circle of life to others.  A tuft of fur, bones picked clean, a dismembered leg, signs of a deer’s death but symbols of sustaining life for others.

Death on Ice
Life and Death on Frozen Lake Superior

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  “Creepy” is this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Ciao! ~ Kat

My Final Message

For those of you who have followed Otis and his Guardians, or anyone who has ever loved a companion animal as a member of their family, I am sharing this beautifully eloquent post that reminds us why we love them so. For those who have welcomed a senior or infirm companion to the family, oftentimes the tenure with the family is relatively brief — but as wisely stated by Abraham Lincoln, it is the life in your years, rather than the years in your life, that count. Peace to Otis and his family.

The Blog of Otis

My Disciples,

If you are reading this, I have departed. Let us first just acknowledge the weight of that. Our journey together was not nearly as long as I hoped it would be, but please know that it has been an honor to have met so many wonderful people, furred and non-furred, and to have shared the trials and triumphs of My life with you.

I know that during My long convalescence many of you were hoping and praying for a miracle to happen that would save My life, and it may seem like that miracle didn’t happen. But I need you to understand something. That miracle did happen. It did happen, and it did save My life, but it happened at the beginning, not the end.

The miracle that saved My life happened seven years ago when two humans looked out into their yard and saw a desperate, starving…

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Preparing for the Rainbow Bridge

I heard the tell-tale “thump, thump, thump” and went downstairs to find our oldest black lab sprawled out at the bottom of the carpeted steps.  I helped him up, and with assistance he made it upstairs to his favorite daytime napping spot.  Kruger was diagnosed with lymphoma a couple of weeks ago.  He is on prednisone to help control the swelling, but the cancer continues to work its evil, and his body wastes away a little more with each day.  He still has a smile and tail wag for us, so we know it is not quite his time to cross the Rainbow Bridge, although we know that time is coming soon.

Happy black lab in snow

Kruger has only been part of our family for 15 months.  He was estimated to be 11 years old when we adopted him from our local humane society.  We swore with two large black labs already occupying the household, that bringing the number of dogs to three, particularly when the third was another large lab, was too many.  But, sometimes our four-legged friends have a way of worming themselves into our hearts and we find a way to make room for them in our homes.

Black lab tug-of-war

He was so sad after two different potential adopters returned him to the humane society  less than 24 hours after bringing him home.  Reportedly, he was not housebroken.  Despite suggestions by the adoption counselor that they give it a little time, letting him learn the ins and outs of his new home and routine, he was returned, and his time at the shelter approached four months.  After the second return, poor Kruger slipped into a funk, showing no interest in people who stopped by his kennel to say hello, and he lost interest in eating, as well.  The former happy-go-lucky lab who never met a tennis ball he didn’t like was in danger of letting depression overcome his will for living.

Kruger ready for a swim in his doggy lifejacket

We took him in, and in less than two weeks, after only a handful of housebreaking accidents later as he figured out the new routine, this gentle, old lab settled into the last home he would have.  He could be a stubborn old cuss, and we learned that arthritic body could really move when he wanted it to — like when I thought he was going to trot up to greet my son but instead bolted past the car, across busy streets, and through residential yards to reach the shores of Lake Superior, where a thin layer of ice had just formed,  reaching out 50 feet or so toward that icy, open water.

I should have kicked off my shoes that had a slight heel instead of trying to jog after him, but honestly, how could that old guy run so quickly and be so nimble?  He weaved in and out of spots where I had to slow to follow, and then managed to negotiate the icy rocks on the shore that caused me to slip and slide, screaming out in panic and watching a scene seem to unfold in slow motion as he walked out onto that icy film covering the unforgiving winter lake waters.

Common sense thankfully got the better of me, and I remained on the shore rather than going out after him.  I have read too many tragic stories of pet owners going after their pets in dangerous situations, with the pet often emerging unscathed while the family member or multiple members lose their lives attempting to save it.  I cautioned my son to take the same course of action and he ran back to the house to get my husband.  When my husband reached the lake shore, I yelled at him to call the fire department.  Kruger was causing the ice to creak and groan as he walked further out.  I helplessly watched our newest family member begin to break through the ice as he approached Lake Superior’s open water.

Thankfully, he must have had some fear enter his thought process, as he slowly made his way back to shore, just as the fire department arrived with their safety gear for ice and water saves.  Apologies and profuse thanks relayed, we leashed old Kruger and remained fanatical about doing so for months.  He learned over time that our home was his home, and there was no need to run in fear of not having a home again.

Black labs galloping through the snow

During his short time with us, Kruger has galloped (using the term loosely given the arthritic hips involved) through the snow with our other older lab, gone swimming at the cabin (his elderly, muscle-wasted hind end required a life jacket to keep him safely afloat and minimize the risk of inhaling water while paddling around), played tug-of-war and chased after tennis balls (even in recent days), and enjoyed snuggling on the floor with us while watching a movie.  In return, Kruger gave us the unconditional, trusting love that reminds us why we repeatedly make room in our hearts and homes for our four-legged companions . . . even when saying good-bye is so painful.

Happy boy! ~ Kruger at the cabin last spring
Happy boy! ~ Kruger at the cabin last spring

The Legend of Rainbow Bridge

From the book, “The Legend of Rainbow Bridge” by William N. Britton

Reprinted with Permission

http://www.legendofrainbowbridge.com

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When a pet dies who has been especially close to a person here on earth, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are beautiful meadows and grassy hills there for all our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is always plenty of their favorite food to eat, plenty of fresh spring water for them to drink, and every day is filled with sunshine so our little friends are warm and comfortable.

All the pets that had been ill or old are now restored to health and youth.

Those that had been hurt or maimed are now whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.

The pets we loved are happy and content except for one small thing.

Each one misses someone very special who was left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one of them suddenly stops and looks off into the distant hills.

It is as if they heard a whistle or were given a signal of some kind.

Their eyes are bright and intent. Their body begins to quiver.

All at once they break away from the group, flying like a deer over the grass, their little legs carrying them faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you hug and cling to them in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

Happy kisses rain upon your face.

Your hands once again caress the beloved head.

You look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet so long gone from your life, but never gone from your heart.

Then with your beloved pet by your side, you will cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

Your Sacred Circle is now complete again.

(Reprinted with permission of the author. Published 1994. Copyright © William N. Britton. http://www.legendofrainbowbridge.com)

Rainbows -- perhaps a bridge to better places?
Rainbows — perhaps a bridge to better places?

Kruger, we will be here for you until you are ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Then, when it is time, we will do our best to help you cross without pain and with as much love as you can carry until we meet again.

~ Kat

In Memory of Bryce Courtenay and The Power of One: It’s Never Too Late to Start Writing

“Always in life an idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the vines will come and they will try to choke your idea so it cannot grow and it will die and you will never know you had a big idea, an idea so big it could have grown thirty meters through the dark canopy of leaves and touched the face of the sky.’ He looked at me and continued. ‘The vines are people who are afraid of originality, of new thinking. Most people you encounter will be vines; when you are a young plant they are very dangerous.’ His piercing blue eyes looked into mine.’ Always listen to yourself, Peekay. It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you grow stronger. If you are right, you have taken another step toward a fulfilling life.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Early winter tree lichens ~ Minnesota

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

My book club’s November read was Bryce Courtenay’s “The Power of One,”  which I had not read since it was first published.  It was always a special book to me, one that I continued to make space for on my overcrowded bookshelves all these years.  Re-reading it over 20 years later, I found even more gems of wisdom.  Not even two weeks after my book club gathered for an interesting discussion, that lent itself to exploration of deeper issues as most book club discussions do, we learned that Bryce Courtenay passed away.  You can read his obituary here.

“. . . besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Mossy stump in early winter ~ Minnesota

In reading Mr. Courtenay’s obituary and other articles reflecting on his life, I thought many of you may find interesting the fact that he did not pen his first book until his mid-50’s, and that book was the worldwide bestseller “The Power of One.”   For all of you participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), take note and inspiration from Mr. Courtenay’s later-in-life start and success with writing (you may particularly be interested in the link below to Capital Letters’ post regarding Mr. Courtenay’s last Master Class).  It is never too early or too late to find your writer’s voice.

“The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. The mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Just a few of the recent posts from other WordPress bloggers on Bryce Courtenay or The Power of One:

This week’s Reflection of Gratitude ~ be grateful for your writer’s voice!

Ciao! ~ Kat