Posts Tagged ‘Ebony’

Ebony Dog

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

As a puppy, she chewed every shoe that was not closeted and everything else she could reach.

To her dying day, we could not leave her alone with a trash can because she would tip it and scatter-chew-eat the contents.

See full size image

When Amanda was one and Abby was not yet born, we had Max the Cat and Copper Dog at home.  We went shelter-hopping for a Black Lab.  If she had been a boy, we would have named her Tod.

She got kicked out of puppy class for being too rambunctious.

See full size image

She once knocked a full crockpot onto the floor and she and Copper Dog ate all the chicken and all the bones and drank all the sauce before we got home.  Neither got as much as an upset tummy.

See full size image

By the time she was seven, we had taught her not to jump on people…except my Dad.  She was just so happy to see him, she would forget every time.

See full size image

She could open almost any door.  She broke out to run.  A lot.

See full size image

She could not open doorknobs.  Every doorknob in Mom and Dad’s house has Ebony bite marks on it.

See full size image

We have never lived near a busy street because of Ebony.

See full size image

When she would escape from Mom and Dad’s house, we knew we were not fast enough to catch her, and she was too in the moment to hear us, so we would just watch her bound through the corn/soybean field.  She was so beautiful when she ran.

See full size image

She chased squirrels and bunnies, including the neighbor’s pet bunnies in their hutch.

See full size image

She trampled the gardens of the neighbors in her pursuit of bunnies.  More than once.

See full size image

If she was awake, her tail was wagging.

See full size image

She had such a deep, menacing bark that no one from UPS or FedEx would come to the door.  She made every single mail carrier jump except Tall Sexy Mailman.  If he wasn’t delivering the mail, she didn’t want them on her porch.

See full size image

She used the same bark when she was happy to see someone.

See full size image

She escaped Mom and Dad’s house once and barked her happy-to-see-you bark at their neighbors…from their porch…while they were inside trying to come outside.

See full size image

They were so scared they called Nebraska Humane Society and when the officer arrived at Mom and Dad’s looking for a black dog at large, Mom and Dad’s four-pound Ernie Dog came running out and barking, trying to take the heat for her.

Ebony got a dog-at-large ticket anyways.

See full size image

I forgot to pay it.

See full size image

A warrant was issued for my arrest.

See full size image

I went to the police station to ask them what I should do.

See full size image

I got arrested – mugshot, fingerprints, everything.

See full size image

She and I were eventually pardoned.

See full size image

She was a good dog.

Ebony, I do not know what my life looks like without you in it.  I am not ready to figure that out, and we were not ready to say good-bye.  Our family has always been you and us.  But…we will deal with all of that.

See full size image

You run.

The Perfect Dog Nobody Wanted

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Guest post by Russ…

They said “You don’t want that one. She is afraid of everyone and will roll over and pee on herself every time you get near her.”  But I knew they were wrong.  I knew when I saw you through the glass, lying in your kennel.  I had been waiting to meet you since I was eight years old, almost twenty years.

Gary across the street had Black Lab hunting dogs and had puppies every year.  Of course, we already had dogs, so I never got one of those puppies, but I vowed that when I grew up and had a house for my own dog, I would come find you.

They said you spent the first few months of your life roaming the streets of New Mexico and probably would not be very social.  I knew they were wrong and we asked to meet you anyway.  You came in the room and the pound caregiver was holding her breath as she dropped the leash.  You did not roll over and pee or cower, but for the first time of ten thousand you came up to me and put your head under my hand and pushed up to be pet.

She was shocked, wondered out loud why you were acting that way.  I think you were waiting for us like I was waiting for you.  You nosed Shawn, you gently peeked at baby Amanda and you sat down on my feet while I pet your ears.  Everyone knew you had found home and we had found our beloved friend.

Maybe it was the New Mexico streets or maybe just your need for speed, but you ran and explored whenever the urges got to you.  You would wait for the door to open and dart past, then run like the wind.  You never went to the close highway and always came home, but not right away or at our command.  You just needed to run.  We accepted that and went to dog parks and to Chalco Reservoir where you could run safely and we worked on coming back to the sound of a whistle.  You would come for the treat, but not to be done running.

Later it was the bean field behind Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Freedom to run and bounce through the field.  We all laughed at the black head and back popping up out of the beans every few feet.

In our new house, the first project was a fence to keep you in the yard.  You were the fastest dog I ever knew, underestimated by some unfortunate rabbits and squirrels, and you never outgrew the love of running.  Still, from the first day, and wherever we moved to, you knew where home was and when to come back.

Well, I figured that our new Lab-Mix puppy would love to play fetch and pick up on it pretty fast, but you just looked at that ball with all the apathy you could muster.  I periodically would try fetch with you again, maybe with a ball or another toy.  Eventually, maybe five years later, you humored me by fetching a stick a few times, but it was never your thing.

Lab-Mixes ought to love the fact that my parents lived on a lake.  You weren’t afraid at all, but you looked at me like you were saying “Why would you make me go in there?”  So, water was not your thing either. I would joke with people that you were a Lab that didn’t fetch and didn’t like water, but it was never a big deal to me.  We weren’t going to hunt anyway.

Of course, when we met you, we had a baby girl at home.  We wondered if having a big puppy, a big dog, would be safe for Amanda.  From the first time you nosed her, you were the most gentle and patient dog I had ever met.  Amanda grew and was soon grabbing your face, pulling ears, climbing on your back, taking handfuls of fur or tail as she learned to “pet” the doggie.

Then it was her baby friends on play-dates, then her sister Abby.  You never snapped, you never growled, you never knocked them over, you never even whined a complaint.  Maybe you sometimes pleaded with you eyes, but always with a wagging tail.  Unless a kid had hold of it anyway.  You loved your kids as much as we all loved you.

Then much later, Joy the puppy tested that patience again.  It seemed like you relished having another baby to play with.  Joy followed you incessantly and copied your every move.  She walked like you.  She would lay down by you and look to make sure she had the position just right.  I know that she sometimes annoyed you, because, well, she’s Joy.  You were like the mother she probably never knew, and you once again showed your patience and love.

I miss the way you put your head under my hand to be pet.  I miss the thump of your perpetually wagging tail.  I miss the happy noises you made- like Chewbacca.  I am so sad that we didn’t have more years together.  I know heaven is a bean field full of bunnies and running without getting tired and that Jesus has his hand out for you to push up on and be pet.  I will always miss you because I always wanted you and loved you.  You were the perfect dog that nobody wanted.  You were our dog, the one we wanted and loved, our Ebony.

Boobs and Coffee

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Things that have cheered me this sad week…

You ALL showed up with hugs and encouraging words after Piggy passed away.  And some of you just sat with me and sighed.  You are all wonderful.Wednesday I saw sixteen cats as patients, which I am pretty sure is an all time personal high.

My last two patients of the day Wednesday were two blond Pomeranian brothers, who took turns jumping onto my lap to get squoze then onto the floor to dance in happy circles then back onto my lap again.  One of them had tiny pom-sized sled dog boots.

My patients right before Happy Pom Kids were two of my favorite guinea pig patients.  Angela had to tell me to give them both back.  It was hard to let go.

The day Piggy died, the girls and I started a HUGE photo album project to cheer ourselves.  It is working.  Also, Russ found these pictures of Amanda (2) with Ebony…

and Abby (6 months) with Ebony…

who was just over one year old at the time.  Look how much she looked like Joy does now!  (I took this picture of Ebony (left) and Joy (right) today…

I don’t look for gorgeous black pets.  They just find me.My friend started a blog that I absolutely love.

Long, rambling disclaimer:If you let your kids read Riley and James for the guest posts written by kids, or the hamster pictures or other fun stuff, but you don’t want them to read the word BOOBS, have them skip this post.  The link isn’t kid-appropriate, but only because it is Things Grown-ups Struggle With That Kids Should Not Have To Yet, not because of inappropriate material or pictures.  We try to shield our kids from Almost Everything in the World.  I know I probably overstep, and I will pay for the therapy as they need it, but hilarious names for anatomical parts is one thing we definitely do not shield them from and even encourage them to learn. 

That being said, here is a very thoughtful, sensitive, multi-layered new blog by one of my very favorite people in the Whole Wide World.  It is about Life, but it also has a Cat I Love and a Dog I Love.  In fact, I love the whole family.  You would too if you knew them, I just know it.  Thank you Friend, for starting this blog the week I needed something to take my mind off the sadness of losing Piggy and helping put things in perspective, as you also do so well in Real Life.

Boobs and Coffee


Vera Jo

And finally, this Christmas 2010 picture of Piggy that I forgot I had…

AND this picture of Piggy that Dave drew cheered me.  I put it as my phone screen background…

May you have pets in your life as wonderful as Piggy and Friends in your life as wonderful as mine, and may you find reasons to smile, even during the most difficult of weeks.

A Very Boring Nutritional Case Study

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

…and thank goodness!  Because, as you know, Ebony is MY dog.  I was trying to write a dramatic nutritional case study, but by their very nature, nutritional case studies ARE boring

Problems take months or years to develop and resolve, and (here is the upside of boring) dog and cat nutrition is SO excellent these days, that we do not have most of the dramatic health issues we had in the past.

So read this if you are having trouble sleeping…otherwise, just be thankful we have such excellent nutritional choices for our pets, and that problems like nutritional hyperparathyroidism and feline taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy are so rare anymore, that we usually only get to read about them in medical journals!

Nutritional Case Study

Ebony:  nine-year-old 70 lbs. spayed female Labrador Retriever mix

Ebony presented as a four-month-old puppy, thin (body condition score two) and healthy.  She ran and walked regularly and was fed Science Diet Puppy at one cup per ten pounds per day divided into three meals. At six months of age, she was switched from three meals a day to two meals a day.  At one year of age, Ebony was transitioned to Science Diet Adult, and her daily amount of food was decreased to one cup of food per twenty pounds, due to her decreased rate of growth.  At about this time, her body condition score increased from two (thin) to three (normal).

At three years of age, Ebony decreased her exercise from running and leash walks to leash walks only.  Her diet remained the same.  Over a period of several months, her body condition score increased from three (normal) to four (overweight).  Hypothyroidism, a common contributor to excess weight gain in dogs, was ruled out with blood work. She was switched to Science Diet Light and returned to a body condition score of three.

At seven years of age, Ebony was switched to Science Diet Senior.  Between lower fat and higher fiber in the senior diet and some age related muscle atrophy, Ebony, now age nine, has remained at a body condition score of two (thin) for the past two years.

She has recently developed osteoarthritis diagnosed by clinical signs, physical examination and hip radiographs taken under anesthesia.  She has done well on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Rimadyl, carprofen).  Her diet has not been changed, as she is at an ideal weight (body condition score two, thin) and an adequate nutritional level.

Pets have advantages over humans in reaching and maintaining nutritional goals.  Willpower is a much smaller consideration.  The caretaker has control over the amount and type of food a pet eats, as well as his or her exercise schedule.  It is often easier to be objective about someone else’s nutritional and health needs than our own.

Another advantage pets have over humans is the widespread availability of complete balanced nutrition in a single food source.  No similar product to dog food or cat food exists for humans.  Only a few decades ago, very serious nutrition-related diseases were commonly seen in pets that are rare today. The range of available pet foods continues to be expanded and improved by veterinary nutritionists and other professionals in many excellent organizations working to promote health and longevity in our dogs and cats and even pocket pets, birds and exotic pets.

Though nutrition cases today are inherently less dramatic and slower to develop and resolve than other veterinary cases, nutrition and body condition scores are central to the health and longevity of our pets.


Christmas Memories

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I was just informed at our family dinner yesterday that we will not be repeating the Purple Christmas Tree of last year.  Actually, it felt like an intervention of sorts.  Mom and Dad made a big, wonderful dinner.  Dave and Sara were there.  Russ looked into my eyes and said, “We still have purple dust in the living room.”  Both daughters nodded silently.  (We don’t.)

So, I am sad to say, the purple flocked tree may be, instead of a new holiday tradition, only a memory.  Because I will only have a plain old pine tree to show you this year, and because this is an especially cute picture of all three dogs together, I have posted here my favorite picture from Christmas 2009.

Ebony, Joy and Noodle, Christmas 2009

“What Happened to Russ”

Also, perhaps only a memory…my favorite Sunday School craft ever:  Peanut Baby Jesus.  Russ and I teach three to five year old Sunday School at Westwood Church.  For the past several years, we have made Peanut Baby Jesus with the kids.  (We stole the idea from the awesome teachers of Two Year Old Sunday School after our oldest daughter came home with one years ago.)

Last year, we had one child in our class with a peanut allergy.  Being kindhearted, anti-anaphylaxis types, we thought it would be a good idea to use a shortened wooden clothespin for Peanut Allergy Kid’s Peanut Baby Jesus.

Russ is a carpenter…with no saws at church.  But there were steak knives.  Never say “whatever” when you are choosing appropriate tools for a task.  Russ tried to cut off the end of the clothespin, sliced his thumb, could not get the cut to stop bleeding (even with top-of-the-line veterinary intervention) and ended up at Urgent Care with several stitches.  He still has a scar.

Peanut Baby Jesus:  Materials: Bottom half of a disposable cup, squares of brown paper, craft hay, scrap of cloth, peanut, Sharpie, glue.  Assembly: Glue the brown paper squares around the outside of the half cup.  Fill the “manger” with hay.  Draw a face on the peanut and place the scrap of cloth over Peanut Baby Jesus.  Place Peanut Baby Jesus in his manger.

SAFETY NOTES: Use kids’ safety scissors to cut the cup in half and cut the paper and cloth.  Also, if you have a kid with peanut allergies in your group, choose a different craft!

Update on The Purple Christmas Tree, 2010:

Yay.  Thanks Russ : )

Update on Peanut Baby Jesus, 2010:

Click here!


Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

You already know to keep your pets safe from scary, scary trick-or-treaters and even scarier Halloween candy.  And you know not to dress up a dog or cat or guinea pig with any objections to the celebration of Halloween, moral or otherwise.*

So instead of a list of pet safety tips, I present you with…The cutest set of Dominoes you will ever see in your whole entire life ever.

*Max the Cat decided to sit this one out.  He would not have matched the set anyways.

Piggy is the zero-zero Domino!  Ha!  I sprayed a quick (non-toxic!) line, snapped a picture and gave him a quick piggy bath.  He was mildly offended, and I was regretting involving him at even that five second level (we both were) until he saw his handful of cornflakes reward.  He is SO on board for participating in Halloween 2011!

Next up, Noodle the Poodle.  He was less inclined to be bribed by food, but was a relatively good sport non-the-less.  He was one-two, but did not want to show his whole costume.  Cute butt though, huh?

Joy the Puppy!

Joy and Ebony…Russ thought we should have them lay down at right angles for a picture (you know, like in a real Domino game…)  I thought they were doing well to lay on the same blanket at the same time without wandering off!

And the (almost) complete set!  By this time, Piggy was already back home happily eating his cornflakes, scruff still damp and sticking straight up.  I’d include a picture of that cuteness, but as you know, I have a difficult time getting good photos of our black pets.  I would say the morning went remarkably well.

Good job Dominoes!


2010 Nebraska Humane Society Walk for the Animals

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Phil the Puppy – ready for the Walk!

The 2010 Nebraska Humane Society Walk for the Animals was a very fun event!  The Family Finch Dog Pack consisted of Russ, Jodi, Erika Workman (an honorary Finch) and me and our kids and dogs:  ours-Ebony the Lab Mix, Noodle the Poodle and Joy the Puppy…and Phil!, Jodi’s-Taco the Belgian Malinois and Erika’s-Bella the Long-Haired Chihuahua.

We saw tons of gorgeous dogs and between us could identify all but one by breed (a BEAUTIFUL huge Great Dane shaped dog with tan and dark brown Mastiff-like markings).  We saw lots of friends and pet companies and rescue groups we love…

♥ ♥ ♥ Good to see you! ♥ ♥ ♥


Pug Partners of Nebraska

Little White Dog Rescue

Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue

Nebraska Border Collie Rescue

Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska

Three Dog Bakery

Oxbow Animal Health

Hayneedle Pets

Last we heard, Nebraska Humane Society was very close to meeting their fund-raising goals for the day.  That will help so many pets!!  Thank you SO MUCH for supporting Family Finch and the Nebraska Humane Society!

Grown-ups Left to Right:  me, Erika (with Bella), Russ, Jodi, the other dogs:  Ebony, Joy, Phil (in the carrier!), Noodle, Taco


Joy, Ebony and Noodle in a calm moment

The Beautiful Bella Workman

Gorgeous Taco Dog

Ebony and Phil chat before the walk

And we’re off!  A beautiful walk around the outskirts of the Nebraska Humane Society campus

Walking Around Omaha (Bring a Leash)

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Happy New Year!

I have decided to dedicate an entire year’s worth of newsletters to health through fitness and nutrition.  This topic, and my New Year’s Resolution (which I will tell you in a minute), came as a result of seemingly random, unrelated interactions with five people, to whom I am deeply grateful.


To start, Janet Shulenberger of Nebraska Poodle Rescue asked me to dedicate a newsletter to obesity in dogs.  I thought that was a great idea.  However, weight management in pets is far too important and broad of a subject to cover in only one newsletter.  Instead, let’s make 2009 all about healthy living.  We will start with dog walking and cover different topics from there…other pets, nutrition, obesity-related diseases…let me know what you would like to discuss.  I decided to start with dog walking, because it has been on my mind a lot lately, and I have not been as diligent as I would like with my own health, or that of my dogs.


I visited a chiropractor recently for the first time in almost twenty years, Dr. Shawn Schmidt.  I was a little apprehensive, but soon realized that I did indeed need an attitude adjustment about my views on holistic health.  Dr. Shawn asked what I did for exercise, and I realized I did…nothing.  I had completely fallen out of the habit of any sort of physical activity.


Shortly before the great, internationally known speaker Luis Palau came to speak in Omaha during the summer of 2007, he challenged a group of Omahans to pick a few streets of Omaha and drive through them and pray for them on a regular basis.  I have been thinking about that challenge alot lately.


During a recent veterinary visit, my Aunt-in-Law Judy Finch asked if she could start walking her puppy Lucy three miles a day instead of their usual two, since Lucy was almost grown up.  I don’t know if I even answered.  (If I didn’t, my answer is, “Yes!  Of course!”)  I was just so impressed by Judy and her commitment to fitness, that I think I went right home to walk Ebony and Noodle, leaving poor Ken and Judy at the front desk with Lucy, and the rest of my clients and patients also standing around, I assume overnight, to be seen the next day, by a doctor who didn’t run off to walk her dogs.  It was a good walk though, and the three of us have been walking ever since.


And finally, Pastor Scott Christiansen challenged the entire congregation of Westwood Church to come up with individual blessing plans for 2009–ways we could each specifically help our community.  I said I would pray for Omaha.  I wasn’t sure what that would look like, but now I am starting to, and I think it will be kind of crazy…

My New Year’s Resolution…

I have decided that my New Year’s Resolution will be to walk with Ebony and Noodle the length of every street in the entire community by this time next year.  As I pass your home, your work, your hang-outs, I will pray for you.  If you will not be offended by that crazy offer, I will not be offended if you file it under “Can’t Hurt/Might Help.”

If you have a pet-friendly business, let me know and I will stop by.  If you want to walk with us, let me know when and where, and I will meet you.  So come on…this will be fun!  You keep doing what you are doing (How is that for a guilt-proof resolution?  You can’t fail!), and I will join you and get back into the habit of walking my dogs.

I believe if the five of you were standing together (Janet, Dr. Shawn, Luis, Judy and Pastor Scott), that would be such a cool group!  But what I was going to say is, if you were standing together, you would each be shaking your head and saying “That is NOT what I meant!”  Then you would turn to each other and say, “She is just a little off.”  And that is ok.  I have often been told that I am crazy (and I don’t think people are always kidding…)  So why not substantiate that with a crazy resolution?

I would not make this resolution without my dogs’ input if I thought there were any chance that they would object.  Their absolute favorite thing in the world is walks.  We cannot even spell “walk” anymore without them jumping in circles.  In fact, I looked around to make sure Ebony was not paying attention before I wrote this paragraph.  (Yes, my dogs are geniuses…well, half of my dogs are genius anyways.)

This will be fun!

So come with us!  No, not down every street!  That would be crazy!  Down YOUR street.  With YOUR dog.  YOU do not need such an insane goal as I am setting.  Your pets are in great shape.  Honestly.  For several years, the veterinary journals have been saying that anywhere from 60 to 66% of dogs in America are overweight.  Well, they are not my clients’ dogs!

Ernie plays with his toys so much, it is hard to keep him up at his ideal weight of four pounds!  Riley the Great Dane is a gorgeous, sleek dog made entirely of muscle and goofiness.  Her friend James the Mastiff is in just as good of shape.  Oreo is the only Boston Terrier I know who is not a bit overweight!  And Jacy May can eat whatever she wants and not gain a pound (sigh).

And if you are one of my clients with an overweight or out of shape dog, remember that there are seasons to life.  If you need to sit this one out, do.  Ebony has sat with me through bouts of depression (mine, not hers), crazy toddler years, injury, and just plain apathy.  We have had seasons of diligent exercise, but also seasons of being indoors together.

And there are the literal seasons too.  I have seen you out in the snow and the rain and the wind dutifully walking your dog…from my living room window.  I like to walk in perfect weather, which would explain quite a few of my stretches of inactivity, given that we live in Nebraska!

I do need to get my act together, though.  So keep me accountable.  And keep me company, at least in thought, as I set out to walk every street of our incredible city.  No, I have not thought through how many miles that is.  Russ said it may need to be a five-year plan, not a one-year plan.  But is that so bad?  If I try and all that happens is Ebony, Noodle and I get in better shape, and we have fun walking with whatever combination of friends we have with us, that will not be the worst failed resolution I have ever had.

So grab your pup and a leash.  Add a Gentle Leader or a harness if it will make your walk more enjoyable.  Bring a potty bag.  Muzzle your Pit Bull (or put their “Breed Ambassador” vest on – congratulations to you both!)  Let’s keep walking and see where we end up!

I will be the one with the gorgeous Black Lab cross with the purple Gentle Leader and the cute little black Poodle claiming all of Omaha with his pee.  I may or may not have my family and our friend Baby Kendal with us.  I am very good at getting lost, so I will put Russ in charge of my route.  I will keep you updated on how the walking every street of Omaha goal goes…I know it is crazy, but somehow the idea is appealing to me.  I think it will be fun to try.  I have decided to file it under “Can’t Hurt/Might Help.”

the end…