Monday, November 27, 2006

Good Dog News!

Here's the latest dog news from Dancing Pig! We have 2 new dogs, both rescues from our local shelter, Roane County Animal Shelter in Spencer WV.

First up is our Budgth (we do iron age Celtic re-enactment and believe in superfluous letters whenever we can fit them in-- it's a very Gaelic way of spelling. We also have a Hemingway cat named Pthumbh). Budgth joined our family a month ago, on November 1st. She was listed on Petfinder as a Boston Terrier mix, and she looked spookily like our beloved Ani. Ani was our first little dog love, allegedly a JRT/Cocker Spaniel mix. We got Ani as a 4 week old puppy from a flea market parking lot last February and she lived with us for 7 wonderful, joy filled months. We loved her so much. Ani was hit by a car and killed instantly in late September. (see earlier blog entries below)

We found Budgth on Petfinder. She was at our local shelter. They do their best there, but it's a high kill shelter-- that's the reality of life in poor, rural communities. Too many animals, not enough money or motivation to get them spayed and neutered. I try not to be too judgmental-- it's hard to pay for your dog's elective surgery when you can't afford health care for yourself or your children (we're not gonnat go into the flat screen tvs and fancy ATVs parked in front of falling down derelict trailers with 5 scrawny dogs chained outside) (well, i said i TRY not to be judgmental-- in never said i achieved that state of grace very often)

Anyway, we went in to meet the Ani lookalike & fell instantly in love. While we were meeting her, i noticed a JRT mix in a cage off in a corner. His front leg was swollen at the 'elbow' and he was obviously in pain, but also obviously sweet and gentle and desperate for a home. We were leaving for a business trip in Florida in a week and would be gone for 2 weeks and he couldn't travel. And we still had our big dog, Barnaby to consider. Still, i couldn't walk away from him. So, i sponsored him: i paid for his vet visit, x-rays and antibiotics and pain meds and promised to stay in touch with them. We took a joy-full Budgth home and had two and half wonderful days with her and Barnaby. We came up with her name because a) she's totally a cuddle bug and b) she reminds us of the character on Crossing Jordan called Bug; like him, our girl is sweet and earnest and a bit undersized, dark skinned and a bit socially awkward, and that's all part of her charm. We figured the TV Bug wouldn't object to having a girl as a namesake.

Three nights later, my husband was walking Budgth on the leash while Barnaby was running free. Barnaby was hit by a truck that didn't even stop. It was an unbelievable loss for both of us. We took ourselves and Budgth down to Florida and sold pottery on the weekends and sat on the beach and cried during the week. Budgth was a wonderful comfort for both of us. She's an awesome being and such a cuddler. A very sweet girl. An awesome 'consolation' prize.

We came home to Hearth Hill on Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, we went over to the shelter and met our next new dog. His current name is Sage, though that might change. We're thinking maybe Feegle (after the MacNacFeegle aka the Wee Free Men of Terry Pratchett's books) or maybe Albert, after Burt from Sesame Steet (i wanted to change Budgth's name to Ernestine/Ernie so we'd have Burt and Ernie, but my husband isn't having it. He's insisting on keeping Budgth's name as is). Sage looks like a tall JRT mix. Someone docked his tail, but didn't bother to get him fixed. He's a really thirsty guy, he drinks water all the time. We think that his previous owners might have been fed up with his constantly peeing to mark his territory, and instead of getting him fixed, they just denied him access to water. It's a typical redneck solution. (opps, that's the judgmental side showing up again).

He was brought into the shelter as a stray in late October/early November, severely beaten up, either by coyotes or a pack of dogs. He was throughly worked over, bitten on his head, ears, back and chest. The bite on his front leg seems to have gone into his joint & gotten infected. His tongue has a hole in it that seems like it might be permant. Maybe we should get him a tongue stud! He's painfully skinny and a bit worried about new situations. But despite all of this, he's also gentle, loving and very desperate to cuddle. He's also a talker-- very vocal, lots of barks and singing, especially when he catches sight of our big orange cat. He's not quite yet acclimated to indoor living and our new tile floor-- so he sees the cat, starts yowling and tries to lunge for him, but inevitably he spins out on the tile floor and ends up slipping and skidding around, looking very put out by it all. If he weren't re-injuring his leg when this happens, it would be even funnier than we currently think it is.

Sage is also the smelliest dog i've ever met. I'm talking room clearing farts. I hope this is a side effect of the antibiotics, cause if it's not, we're gonna have to make some serious dietary changes. Phew! Even Darrell, who thinks a good ripping fart is the highlight of his day, even big D has been offended by the stink this guy produces!

So, that's the latest dog update from Dancing Pig. Come on out to the Open House this weekend or next and meet the new dogs. You can even vote for a new name for the broken up & very smelly JRT. Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For reasons that are not at all clear to me, i am unable to update the events section of my website. So, here's the latest info:
We are doing the Countryside Artisans Studio Tour at the Art of Fire in Laytonsville, Maryland.
We'll be there, with lots of pottery and leathergoods and wonderful Celtic art, cards, jewelry, stained glass and much more from our pals
DECEMBER 1, 2 & 3 and again DECEMBER 7, 8 & 9
FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY from 10 till 5 each day

We're taking over an outbuilding at the Art of Fire's World Headquarters. Lots of room, lots of pots, lots to see. All in a relaxed atmosphere, as far from the maddening crowds at the mall(maul?!) as you can get.

Come see us & get gifts for everyone on your list. And of course, lots of necessary luxuries for yourself as well!

For directions to Art of Fire:
For information about the Studio Tour:
For information about Tuatha:

if you need to know more about Dancing Pig, drop me an email: pigatsymboldancingpigdotcom
& remember, shop early, shop often and always add some integrity to your gifts.
Give handmade crafts!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Live from Anna Maria Island!

it's the Dancing Pig Road Show!
That's right folks, we've slunk off to the Gulf Coast of Florida to lick our wounds in sunnier climes. We're bruised, burnt out and heartsore but we're still trying to carry on.
We'd planned this sojourn in early September, when both of our beloved dogs were still alive and well and we couldn't back out. How does the song go? "Can't turn back and you can't stand still and if the thunder don't get you the lightning will" Well, we decided to run away from the thunder and lightning. At least for two weeks.
We came down here to do the Sarasota Medieval Faire. It's a two weekend, 2nd year show that we knew practically nothing about other than it was in Florida & we had been pre-approved as crafters. It was pretty cheap fee wise and came at a time when we could use a vacation, so we went for it.

We booked ourselves into a great hotel that we'd found when we crashed a family reunion two years ago (long story condensed: my brother in law's family live down here, we came down and stayed with sis, bro-in-law, niece and nephew when they were down for Grandpa's 60th or 70th birthday). The hotel is only a block from the beach on an awesome island and best of all, they welcome pets. So, we figured, hey, tax deductible vacation. Come down, do the show on the weekends, lounge on the beach during the week, what's not to like?!

Then, dog tragedy stuck, twice in 6 weeks. We were stunned and numb, but carried on. We loaded ourselves and our new and now only dog up and hit the road, in search of money and healing on the beach.

Lucky for us, our new dog, Budgth, is very much a road hound. Here she is, the queen of our caravan:

Not so much with the money. The show was full of great folks and we made some new friends and good contacts, but not very much money. No alcohol at the show made for lots of "Looky Lous" and not so much with the "wrap it up i'll take its"

The first weekend, we set up under some beautiful trees, covered in spanish moss. It was very picturesque, but also very much out of the way. Here's a snap of the booth on the first weekend:

Great neighbors. Beautiful scenery. No customers. Or at least, hardly any foot traffic.
We moved our tent from the back end of the faire into a more central spot for the 2nd weekend and that helped, but it was still a marginal show for us money wise.

Still, we've had a conversion experience and are currently-- not sure if you'd call it brainstorming or daydreaming, but either way, spending alot of time scheming about ways to become snowbirds & spend most of February and March down here on the gulf coast, selling pottery and leather and hiding out from the cold and rain. We even went window shopping for a new trailer: a 'toy box' which is basically an RV and cargo trailer combined. We figure it would save us on the hotel bills... that's our story anyway. Wouldn't it be cool to have all the comforts of an RV and still be able to haul our stock and setup with us?!? And the one we looked at was only 23K! A bargain at half the price! OK, so it'll be awhile before we can afford one of those suckers, but it was fun to dream...

I think we're a little young to become snowbirds, but heck, if youth is wasted on the young i guess the opposite applies: retirement is wasted on the old. We're thinking you don't have to be 70 and wealthy to be a snowbird. I'm even toying with the idea of taking up a supplemental craft that i can do 'on the road' so i don't have to come back to the studio and kilns to make more stock. I'm thinking either knitted wool socks &/or maybe funky painted chairs and tables and beaded jewelry... or cool/ funky dog leashes and collars-- that would combine D's leatherwork and my general weirdness... anyway, that's what happens to me when i spend the better part of two weeks goofing off in the sub-tropical sun.

When i got here last week, i was all mocking about the folks down here: "They're either old or drunk or both. And litterbugs. These people are filthy!" (there is alot more trash down here than i see in either WVa or Maryland). "And weather wimps! Everyone has their panties in a bunch and their winter woollies on because it's going down to 50 degrees tonight!"

In my defense, it did get colder this second week. And downright windy. There were even some respectable waves. Here's a cool pic of the sunset on a very blustery day:

Well, you can guess what happened. This week i'm in Walmart looking for long sleeved shirts and warm socks cause it's getting COLD at night. Heck, it's gonna be 50 tonight! How quickly we adjust. I just hope i can adjust back, cause we're going home to my valley tomorrow morning and the projected high for Thursday is 43 degrees. That's the HIGH! Wailee, wailee wailee! How will i manage?!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In loving memory of Barnaby
June 2001 to November 3, 2006
He was a great dog, a good friend and a gentle, loving soul.
The world is a sadder place for me, without him.

I am still grief stricken, stunned and numb.

Just after dark on Friday evening November 3 when Darrell was walking our newest dog on the leash-- so she wouldn't run into the road-- he saw and heard Barnaby get hit by a truck, driving too fast on our road. The truck didn't even stop.

Barnaby died that night, three hours later at the emergency vet in Charleston.

I don't think he was ever really in pain-- he was in shock for the first 2 hours and then, once he started showing signs of distress we were at the vets and they gave him painkillers.

We had begun to hope that we might have gotten away with something by then: there was never any blood, he couldn't walk, but he could move the front half of his body... the vet and her staff were so very competent and compassionate, it was a blessing to have such caring people surround us in our hour of crisis.

Even the vet said that she had begun to hope that Barnaby might get out of there with 'only' a bruised or broken pelvis. They had done extensive x-rays and hadn't seen any damage, and they were moving him into a kennel to stabilize him and then come and give us the relatively good news.

However, as they began to move him into the kennel, he crashed.

He stopped breathing and his heartbeat became erratic & faint. They put a tube down his throat and manually breathed for him and gave him an ephedrine injection to try to get his heart going, but it was no use. A tech came and got us and we were with him at the end, which was peaceful and natural... his heart simply stopped beating.

When they took the tube out, it was covered in blood. The vet said this confirmed that he had suffered massive internal soft tissue damage-- it didn't show up on the x-rays. His insides got pulped and his lungs filled with blood and his heart couldn't take the strain.

The good news is that he probably didn't suffer. He was in shock at first which blocks the pain, then he was sedated.

In the hour long drive to the vet, he was breathing a bit heavily occasionally but he didn't seem to be in pain. He slipped in and out of consciousness, but i'm sure he knew i was there with him. He was surrounded by love and compassion throughout his ordeal.

Here's what was going through my head as we drove home from the vet:

In the house of long life
I will wander.
In the house of happiness
I will wander.
With beauty before me
I will wander.
With beauty behind me
I will wander.
With beauty above me
I will wander.
With beauty below me
I will wander.
In old age traveling
On the trail of beauty
I will wander.
It shall be finished in beauty.

And his death did have a beauty and dignity to it. Not what i would have chosen. Or maybe-- not WHEN i would have chosen, but beauty nonetheless.

Barnaby was a sweet, gentle giant. He was my nap buddy and a boon companion.

He hated water. I used to say that he was allergic to it. He was horrified if he saw me swimming-- he just couldn't comprehend voluntarily getting wet.

Yet he was stoic when being bathed, simply resigned to his fate. It was humbling to see such a large, powerful dog so miserable yet so resigned. He was both dignified and silly all at once.

He was a 130 lb lap dog.

He had a rough start in life. When we met him at the Montgomery County Humane Society, he was 4 months old, a 40 lb skinny pup with scary big paws. He'd lived outside all of his life, in a kennel with his mom and littermates. Yet, when we brought him into our house for the first time, he walked calmly around the kitchen and living room, then headed directly into the bedroom and hopped up onto the bed and laid himself down for a nap. He knew he was home.

I was so lucky to have him in my life.

He was my first truly big dog, and his bulk was a wonderful, calming physical grounding gift, especially when i was in distress. When my life was falling apart, in the midst of my separation and divorce, he was a gentle, peaceful companion who grounded me. Simply having his bulk sleeping in the bed next to me through those lonely nights made it possible for me to get through to the next sunrise.

And, once i'd found Darrell and we moved to Hearth Hill, the four of us: me, Darrell, Lucie and Barnaby, he was delighted to be home here. He ran free, especially in the early evenings, just after dark. He'd chase deer out of the yard or just bound about in the moonlight, delighting in movement and freedom.

B. napped alot and he was good at it. Once Lucie died, in September of 05, Barnaby became a champion napper. He seemed to get older and slower. Always a skittish boy, his fear of thunderstorms and sudden noises and of just being alone, seemed to increase.

He was at first a bit taken aback by Animosh's arrival. Ani was so small and so ALIVE that B. didn't seem to know what to do with her, how to respond to her. But Ani knew what to do, and within a month, Ani was in charge: pulling at B's tail when she wanted to play or distract him, inciting him to riot in the house by hauling a squeaky toy up onto the bed and then squeaking it at a napping B till he couldn't take it anymore, and with a sigh B would haul himself to his feet and set about chasing and playing with her.

Barnaby was with Ani when Ani died a little more than a month ago. They were about 1/4 mile down the road together, and B came back alone, more quietly freaked out than i'd ever seen him. B. looked at Darrell-- just one simple, silent, intense moment of eye contact and Darrell knew something was really wrong. Darrell got into our little car and went down the road to find Ani's body.

Barnaby once more was with me through my mourning. It was a sudden, intense grief-- that small life ripped so quickly from us on a sunny autumn day. B. was with me as i wailed and cried, and slept by my side when i finally surrendered to a healing sleep.

And, it seems, B. kept sleeping. After Ani's death, more even than before. He slept all night at the foot of our bed, on his own dog bed. In the morning, Darrell would get up before me and B. would haul himself up onto the bed and flop down into Darrell's vacated spot. He stayed there, often all day, only getting off the bed to eat breakfast, and maybe go outside to pee. Then it was back to bed and only after he was awakened and fed dinner was he interested in going outside for a few hours of night roaming. Then inside, to sleep on the sofa with us if there was TV watching, or back on the bed if we had other things happening.

That was the shape of his days for the last month of his life. We specualted about doggie Prozac. Was he depressed? It was had to tell. So, instead, we got him another dog.

Three days before he died, the new dog came home. She was an unexpected arrival, a gift of fate and healing.

We've named her Bug and she and B. got along quite well. She is less bossy than Ani, but at least once or twice a day she incited Barnaby to riot, and we had doggie chase scenes in our living room again. Bug also was determined to sleep in the puppy pile with the rest of us. Barnaby accepted her, and even seemed happier and more lively with Bug's arrival.

Then, as i said above, it ended. Darrell was out, walking Bug after dinner. It was dark, and B. was running as usual. I think he might have even been showing off for Bug, a sort of big brotherly "nah nah, i can go where i want & you can't" sort of thing.

Then, the trucks headlights, D calling out a warning to Barnaby to "keep his happy ass out da road" and that sickening thud and B's one yelp.

That was the beginning of the end. However, at least we got a chance to say goodbye, to tell him how much he was loved.

I know that he is playing with Ani and Lucie and Blaze. I hope and trust that Mike Lea and Barry Morley are organizing walks and snuggles. It's a good pack that's waiting for me on the other side, and since i don't think time matters over there, i guess i'm already there with them. But that doesn't stop me from missing them here. All of them, but most intently, my big, gentle, huge galumphing mutt. My Mr. B.

Pass to thy Rendezvous of Light,
Pangless except for us---
Who slowly ford the Mystery
Which thou hast leaped across!
--Emily Dickinson

This is the last picture we have of him. We were napping, maybe a week ago: