Monday, December 31, 2007

Rescuing Sprite Part Two

The holidays are particularly tough for me because it was around this time two years ago that Malcolm's health began failing and so today was spent in reflection and contemplation.

I finally made it past page 146 of Rescuing Sprite and finished this wonderful book. I did so sitting under a giant Maple tree which offered me not only seclusion but comfort from its majestic timber. Murphy and Hudson weren't with me, a wise decision I made since there wasn't a tearless moment throughout and they hate to see me get all weepy.

My heart goes out to Dr. Levin not only for his loss but because he only had Sprite for 26 months. Along my trails, I've met parents whose pets were diagnosed with cancer as early as 12 months and as old 16 years and what I've learned is that when you love someone eternally, having them in your life even one day short of that is not long enough.

But that didn't stop them from adopting another dog, Griffin. It was Dr. Levin's wife, Kendall, who goaded him into it really because he was reticent to take the leap and open himself up again. Like Sprite, Giffin is an older dog with health problems, too, so Dr. Levin's hesitations were understandable. But while you never know just how long it will last, the journey's the thing. Thank you to the Levin family for sharing such an endearing and heartwarming story and godspeed on your new journey.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dogs as Models

I received a heartfelt email from Pam, who recently learned about the Hike and is in school to become a pediatric oncology nurse. She suggested taking Hudson and Murphy to visit cancer patients after we reach Boston to share our story with kids who are hit particularly hard.

That got me thinking - dogs are ideal models for studying cancer in people as we've learned but they serve a much greater role for us than that. Especially in adversity. Their instinct for survival is so great that they're unaffected by self doubt or discouraged by uncertain outcomes or the opinions of others.

Perhaps even more importantly, they teach us self worth. A dog will never knowingly do anything to harm or hinder itself or its pack. In training and our travels, I often find myself learning even more from my relationships with my boys like abiding by the laws of nature and the importance of working as a team. Thanks, Pam, for reminding me that our dogs provide us with a much greater model for life and living.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Home for the Holidays

And for me, that's Belton, Texas where I spent (or mispent depending upon who you ask) my youth. Incidentally, it is also the hometown of George Eads of CSI fame, a factoid I only mention because I'm a fan of the show and Billy Peterson.

Sunday we set camp at Cedar Ridge Park, a coozy campground on the northern side of Belton Lake which is one of the largest bodies of water in Central Texas and perhaps best known for its hidden coves and steep white-rocked cliffs, many of which I've dived off of.

After we pitched our tent, we joined my family for dinner, Christmas carolling around the neighborhood, and a friendly (Hah!) game of Scrabble. The boys and I got back to our site just before midnight and were greeted by the most spectacular sight. The Moon and Mars hoovered right above us emitting a reddish glow. I tried to capture it with my camera and this photo was the best I could do with it. Still, you can make out Mars. Quite a terrific way to wind down a day.

And then the temperature dropped. And dropped. I don't know just how far down it went but it was well below freezing out at the lake. I had set the boys' collapsable waterbowl outside the tent and by the time I awoke, it was frozen solid. Ambient heat from Hudson and Murphy kept me from the same fate as did my puppy up! hoodie. I just can't help plugging our apparel any chance I can get.

When I returned to my parent's house, my father could tell I was still shuffling off the morning frost so he greeted me with a cup of hot cocoa. It was one of the most peaceful and pleasant holidays anyone in our family could recall. We wish the same for you and yours.

A Christmas Carol For You

A few weeks back, I took the boys out to a Christmas tree farm to cut down ours and, of course, plant a seed in its place. It's quite a handsome Virginia Pine, perfectly shaped and fragrant, too. The boys helped me decorate.

What a lovely time of year and Hudson and Murphy wanted us to share it with you in song. It only took us 26 takes but we hope you enjoy. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Road from Austin to Boston

Travel plans are starting to come together. Our best estimate is a total distance of 2,235 miles and 264 days of walking. That's more than our original estimates because we decided to travel in a more northern direction to avoid hurricane season in the Gulf States.

We've broken the hike down into 7 Stages which are (1) Austin, (2) Texarkana, (3) Memphis, (4), Akron, (5) Syracuse, (6) New York City, and (7) Boston.

Thanks to all who've emailed and offered the boys and me a place to park it for the night.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rescuing Sprite

Part 1 of 2:

If you haven't read the heartwarming and inspiring and book, Rescuing Sprite, put it at the top of your holiday wish list. Isn't he lovely? Truthfully, I haven't been able to make it past page 146 yet, which is why this is a two part series. I was reading it at my niece's State Championship soccer match today and a voice boomed, "Stop. Read no further."

There are few things more pathetic than a grown man getting all weepy at a non-betting sports event. No, this isn't an 'outside' book by any means but I will share with you some of the poignant and insightful passages in part 2. Hopefully, I can puppy up this week and finish this wonderful story.

The Dog Whisperer

Wow! What a thoroughly entertaining and informative seminar Cesar put on this past Saturday. I've only seen a few episodes of his show and had no idea he was more than just a dog trainer but profound philosopher, too.

His Effective Fulfillment Formula for a balanced and healthy relationship is a model that can be applied to our lives as well. Exercising with your dog establishes trust, discipline builds respect, and giving affection breeds love and loyalty. If I'd only known that in my last relationship... jeez.

Another bit of information I found fascinating is that puppies don't open their eyes for two weeks after birth and can't hear until day 21 but they smell from the moment they're born. And it's their powerful sense of smell that enables them to detect our energy. Cesar recommends achieving a 'calm assertive' state prior to interacting with them.

He also says the first thing we should do in the morning is stretch with them. I knew I was doing something right - is there any other way to start the day? It's a great seminar and I couldn't recommend it more passionately.