Pet Therapy Visit

Bearbear and I were certified early this year as a pet therapy team through Pet Partners, the nation-wide organization for pet therapy teams.

Bearbear and I go to a hospital to visit, as well as the Ronald McDonald House, but for obvious reasons we take no photos. Today, however, we were outdoors at Tucson Medical Center’s annual NICU graduation picnic, for babies and their families who have had to spend time in our Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Here’s a nice shot of me and Bearbear in our volunteer uniform, one of my colleagues took the picture:

Clare and Bearbear: Therapy Team!

Bearbear just passed his exam to be a therapy dog; of course, as his handler, I had to pass the test, too. I think I was the bigger variable, personally.

Of course, Bearbear did very well. Except for the part where he had to demonstrate his excellent “down”. He had to do this after the part of the test where he was intentionally startled, to assess his overall composure. He was fine, but after being scared he gave me this look (pardon me for anthropomorphizing) that said, “You expect me to do WHAT after THAT?” I had to try 3 times but he finally agreed to work with me.

We took a 2 month-long class to prepare for the test. Then a trip to the vet for a $120 signature to say he’s healthy. Then, all the paperwork was submitted along with a fee for registration and insurance to Pet Partners, the national organization for therapy animals. This is the photo I sent them: I hope it can be used for our badge. This photo is a few years old, my sister took it:

Once we get our badge, we’ll be volunteering a few days a month at the hospital where I work, as well as the Ronald McDonald house which is very close to my home: even therapy dogs need easy commutes!

A Corgi Christmas Card

This is the Christmas card I just got from Arizona Cactus Corgi Rescue. The theme this year is Corgi Shantytown, given the economy.

Vicki, the corgi rescue group founder, sent me the image at my request so I could post it. Vicki said that for the past 8 Christmas Cards, she’s had the following themes:

“…Santa and Reindeer, The Nativity (including a live Burro), The Christmas Choir (Bark the Herald), a 7′ Christmas tree out of Hay bales with each dog being an ornament, Santa’s Workshop, with lots of little elves, “Do You See What I See”, with a huge dog bone coming down from above, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, with the Peanuts Characters, and then this one. ”

Ha ha ha. I don’t know what sounds funnier and improbable to stage: corgis as Christmas ornaments, or as Linus, Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I was Linus in my 2nd grade production of a Charlie Brown Christmas, only because the 2 second-grade teachers agreed I was the only one smart enough to remember the words to the Gospel of Luke soliloquy Linus does at the end. I wonder what Corgi personality would fit that role?

More Photos of Baxter the Corgi

That’s Bearbear on the left and Baxter on the right, waiting or dinner. You can tell, I guess, that Baxter is just too skinny; this was about 3 weeks before he died.


My friend Julie was over for dinner mid-November, when I roasted a free-range chicken; we were about to sit down, but I fed the dogs first. Bearbear and Baxter always had to sit and wait at the edge of the kitchen while I put their meals together. Julie thought they looked so adorable and patient, and she took a few photos.

It’s still hard to believe Baxter is gone. Oh well.

Baxter–What a Character–RIP

Baxter died tonight.

I took this photo as we went out the door to the 24 hour emergency vet (it’s Saturday night);¬† it’s not the most flattering photo, I guess I wanted just one more.

Baxter seemed to be in a state of decline for the past 3 weeks, but I thought it was the sudden extremely cold weather we had. His eating changed and it was harder for him to walk. I thought it was age and cold and this last¬† Thursday–just 48 hours ago!–I took him to a vet for a checkup, thinking I’d be told how to feed a finicky dog and get him to gain weight and help him w/arthritis pain; instead, that vet took his temperature–which was 104–and looked and him and listened to my report and told me he had cancer and needed to be put down. I could have a day or two to say goodbye but I shouldn’t wait long.

I felt she was right. But. I knew I needed a second opinion–or some proof–before I put him down. So that night I went to a 24 hour emergency vet for a second opinion. They were awful, and would not do any tests till the morning, though they wanted him to stay there overnight. I took Baxter home and the next morning went to another vet, one I’ve used before for an old dog I inherited. That vet did tests and images immediately, and told me he though Baxter had eaten something like a piece of cloth–he could see it in his stomach, though since Baxter had eaten a scrambled egg before going in he didn’t have the clear image he wanted. He gave Baxter fluids for the fever, a shot of antibiotics, and told me to bring him back Monday for another image sans breakfast, and he’d schedule surgery then.

So, today, 24 hours after we’d gotten home from THAT vet appointment, it was really clear that Baxter completely had taken a nose dive. All day today I worked around the house getting my quilt together, and Baxter seemed really really sick: he could hardly walk, refused to eat, labored breathing….it just got worse. So a good friend from the illegal dog park, Norma Jean, called me and suggested I go to the emergency vet….though I’d reached the same conclusion myself.

Which is where we went tonight, and 3 hours after arriving I had the diagnosis of cancer–everywhere–and I put Baxter down.

And so that’s that. It’s just devastating. I only had Baxter for 10 weeks and he was such a character; I’ve never seen such a complex, intelligent character in a dog, really. Bearbear is a great dog. Absolutely great. But he’s not a character like Baxter. I felt so awful to have to say goodbye to him. It just seemed so wrong.

Goodbye Baxter, RIP forever buddy.

Finished Quilt Top

Every minute I spend posting to this blog, I could be working on my art quilt….which is due January 11th at the local quilt guild meeting if I want it to be in the January Quilt Show.

This is what I had to work with around Thanksgiving: I was arranging the poppy appliques and trying to figure out where they looked best. There was an awful lot of pinning and re-arranging going on before I settled on where each flower looked best.

After looking at it for a while, I realized I was going to need a couple more poppies for the design to feel balanced. I made a couple of appliques at the dining room table; here you see the pieces cut out, but not yet sewn together:

And here’s the finished applique:

If I worked on this before dinner time, I got this look from the corgis in the house:

They are staring at the dining room table. Where I am sewing. Not eating, and not making them dinner.

This is how dinner looks:

Baxter eats about 1/4 cup of wet food and then conks out for a bit while Bearbear attacks his kibble and peanut butter filled Kong toy.

I lost a whole evening of sewing at Thanksgiving time making pies with that super-special lard I blogged about a few weeks ago; yum yum, here are 2 sweet-potato pies and an apple pie and they were DELICIOUS:

Then, upon further inspection of my art quilt, I decided that the satin-stitching wasn’t dense enough: in certain places, because I was using light thread on dark fabric, you could see the fabric through the stitch. So. I put stabilizer under all of my reverse applique poppy shapes and put down another layer of satin stitch on top of the existing stitch. It took FOREVER. I was going crazy. But, the end result is much better: you can’t see it too well here, but, the orange thread on the right side of the sewing machine needle is 2 layers of satin-stitch and the orange thread on the left side is just one layer:

In the photo, it looks insignificant; but trust me, the real thing looks greatly improved with my sewing due-diligence.

My goal was to have the quilt top done–absolutely done–by the end of November, so I could spend all December quilting. Which I hope will be enough time. Here’s the finished quilt-top: pressed, all bits of thread snipped, and looking pretty darn good:

I met my deadline! I’ve already sewn together my muslin backing for the quilt, gotten my batting; I’ll put the quilt sandwich together Friday and get quilting this weekend.

Wish me luck. And just a few chiropractic visits.

Dogs, bees and yarn


It’s the end of a quiet Sunday here in Tucson.

Here’s Bearbear and Baxter as we work together on their sit-stays. We met with a really nice trainer, Mary Ann Coleman, who came to my house last week and helped us sort some things out; she great, reasonably priced, and she’s been doing work with dogs for decades. Baxter has been here a month and we’ve had to work out a few wrinkles. He’s a good dog, but introducing a new dog to the home means we all have to work on a few small details. For example, when I’m getting ready to take the dogs for a walk, I want them to both sit calmly and wait while I get my shoes on, not run around in a crazed frenzy. Now, they both have a good sit-stay while I get ready to take them for a walk.

I also checked on the bees today for the first time in 2 months; the size of the hive seems the same, and I guess I should just be happy they made in through the second-hottest summer on record.

Here’s the inside of the hive:

The entrance on the upper left-hand corner of the photo; the bees have built up comb on the bars on that side, but they still have plenty to grow on the right side:

I was worried about evidence I saw of wax moth larvae on the bottom of the hive; I sent a message to the fellow who built my hive, asking for advice about this:

And here’s a close up of 3 bars of comb in different stages of growth…

as well as some evidence of yucky moth stuff–the white glop there on the bottom. I’ll learn soon if I have to worry about this or not.

I also dyed some yarn today for my quilt:

New Corgi!

This isn’t the best photo; but sometimes it’s hard to get dogs agreeable to a camera flashing, and then the red-eye light blinking….most of the time, when I try to take a photo of my dog inside, I wind up with only his backside, which eloquently expresses his feelings about being photographed.

But tonight I acted fast and got this shot. The bigger dog is Bearbear, my corgi mix who’s been my dog buddy for almost 3 years. The smaller dog is Baxter, a bona fide corgi with AKC papers and a pedigree; I told Bearbear he’ll have to learn to curtsey, now that we have a dog of a different social class in our home.

Baxter is 10 next month; his owners died last year and he’s been in a couple different homes since then. For a 10 year old, he looks awfully good; and the way he chases, retrieves and returns a ball/frisbee, you’d think he was 2. And he won’t stop. In fact, if you don’t throw the ball fast enough when he brings it back he barks at you. It seems that a tennis ball is the equivalent of crack cocaine for Baxter.

Anyway, this is our first day together; Baxter came to our home through the Arizona Cactus Corgi Rescue. I saw Baxter’s photo on their website, learned more about his personality, and after some thought I offered to give him a home. So far he’s low-key and quite the gentleman.

But when the tennis ball comes out, it’s a different story…