Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Friends, Two- and Four-Legged

Thank you everyone for the thoughts about Cajun. I never knew we had so many friends. I have been so overwhelmed with this sudden tragedy and it has helped more than you know to have the support of people who understand what it is like to love a dog.

And then there is Clifford! I rode him in the Pinckney Memorial Day Parade on Monday. He helped my friend Dianne introduce her boyfriend's Tennessee Walker, Dollar, to the excitement of a parade. It was Dollar's first time and he was escorted by Cliffy and me on one side, and Dianne and her parade veteran TW, Kinkaid, on the other.

It was a lovely day. I was so excited to be invited to participate and Clifford was THRILLED! We enjoyed and hour trail ride through Pinckney Rec Area to reach the starting point at the school. When the parade was over, we took off for the trails again. Clifford was doing a lot of trotting to keep up with a batch of Walkers and I started worrying about his knee. I asked Dianne if she would mind separating from the group and just going back slowly with us.

"Sure!" she said. "I'll even ride behind you and let him set the pace."

We let the group go on without us. We turned up a trail through the woods. As soon as we got into the thick brush under the trees, I felt Clifford bunch up underneath me.

"He always wants to run in the woods," I called back to Dianne. Clifford was so eager to go that I finally just gave up and let him take off. WHOOSH! The next thing I knew, we were galloping up that path with the wind rushing through my hair.

"Good grief!" I screeched as he hurled himself around a bend. I ducked easily under low hanging branches as Clifford charged ahead.

"Take a right up here!" I heard Dianne yell, but Clifford needed no direction as he veered to the right at the fork in the trail and blasted up another hill.

"Left!" Dianne hollered and again, Clifford chose the correct direction at the next fork. I could feel his power and it was just like the years had fallen away from us, reminiscing about speedy rides up on Drummond Island.

"I'm just going to quit calling directions and see what he does," Dianne said. I gave Clifford free rein and he correctly navigated the miles back to the farm where we started out -- all at top speed.

He was sweaty and blowing when we got back, but so happy. And -- he hadn't limped a step.

So... Let that be a lesson to me! Never underestimate the power of a Morgan, and never underestimate the intuition of a friend who reads your moods and knows just what to do for you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Parade

Cliffy and I attended a parade today. We went in the Pinckney parade with Pinckney Trail Riding Assoc. Here is a pic of us with my friend Dianne and her boyfriend Fredd. They're riding Tenn Walkers. This was Fredd's horse, Dollar's first parade and so he was stationed between Cliffy and Dianne's horse Kincaid. He did great!

It was a really good time and I am SO glad I got out and did it. Clifford was happy and it was a nice diversion for me. He even did some galloping through the woods on the way back and was none the worse for wear. It did my heart good to be back in the saddle. Thank you Dianne!

Clifford is great therapy.

Friday, May 23, 2008


It's with a heavy heart that I write this goodbye to my friend of nine years, the mighty Cajun. He had so much presence that it's hard to believe his life could end so abruptly in sudden illness.

He was in every way the perfect German shepherd. He was black and red, 80 lbs, a tall and imposing figure, but he was always gentle and completely reliable with kittens and little kids.

Cajun was a hero in his own right, having saved the lives of many other dogs during his years as a universal blood donor.

He was smart, strong and versatile. We never competed, but throughout his life Caje became adept at tracking, obedience, agility, flyball, and bite work. He played frisbee and swam. He knew lots of tricks and performed on stage with me in one of my plays. He was my bicycling and trail riding partner. He did everything asked of him with boundless energy. His energy level drove me nuts sometimes, but he kept me hopping and that was good for me. He was always happy and always ready to get moving. I hope that I have learned something from his zest for life. He was a hugely important part of mine.

Thank you Caje-man, for watching over the fur kids and me, for keeping us safe over the years. I hope you knew how much you were cherished. You did great.

Cajun von der Zalens
February 18, 1999 - May 22, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today's Project - Palomino Mare with Foal

I decided this piece needed something so I added the baby. This is conte with oil pencil on black charcoal paper, about 8 1/2 x 11". It's listed on eBay.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Trillium Season!

I took the dogs for a walk in the woods. It's been our first sunny day in awhile and the trillium are in full bloom. I was able to get a few neat pictures. Here's a pink painted trillium.

Reflections in the pond. I think this photo looks like an abstract painting. I was walking near the water and heard a big "kersplash!" and saw a redtail hawk swooping over the water. He was trying to nab one of a pair of ducks -- or maybe their ducklings? -- that were nesting there. Of course, it all happened too fast to have the camera ready.

I really like the dramatic backlighting in this one!

Here's a trillium with some groovy colorful toadstools.

I just love this time of year!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Today's Project - Greyhound

Actually this was done a couple of weeks ago. My friend Ellen took it to a GEM event for rescue greyhounds. This is pastel and conte on black charcoal paper, about 9 x 12".

Hand Woven Items

Check out this beautiful shawl my friend Pearl made for me. I wish I could describe the silky texture of this. Pearl does real old-fashioned type hand spinning and weaving. She uses alpaca hair and other cool stuff. She has a couple of new pages up on her website that feature her wonderful craft.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Clifford's Supplement

Well, it's Day 25 and I'm happy with the results so won't wait any longer. I've been using StemEquine, a stem cell enhancer designed for horses, with Cliffy. It's a new product having only been on the market for a couple of years.

It's not a cure for his arthritis. He still has days where he is stiff and can't use the leg like he used to. But he is so much happier than he was, that alone makes the difference. I haven't resorted to Bute or steroid injections. I might start adding a glucosomine supplement back to his diet now that the "test run" is over.

StemEquine is pretty palatable; it's a powder that I just mix with his feed and he eats it right up. It contains a plant that induces the release of Cliffy's own stem cells which are already present in his body. I don't know the details -- I just know it has made a difference for us. But those who would like more info can check out this FAQ page.

I like it so well that I decided to become a distributor so I can get discount rates for this and for StemEnhance for my dad to try. (They make human and pet products too.)

In my humble opinion this is definitely worth a shot and I would love to hear results from other people.

Thanks everyone for all the good thoughts and wishes for Cliffy and me. You guys are the best!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Clifford - Day 23

The farrier came this morning to trim Cliff and Trudy's feet. After he left Clifford was running and jumping and came barreling up to the gate to get a bit of apple. The feet trimming was going to be a pretty good test, because I planned to do some arena work with him afterward. (He was stumbling because his feet were long.) Unfortunately it's been raining ever since. (I call it "arena work" but it's all a facade, as one doesn't actually exist here!) So, we will wait for better weather. Meanwhile, he posed by the apple blossoms.

I have to say that I am already considering the new supplement a success, even though technically I still have a week's worth of test run to go. Clifford has had a couple of episodes of limping and stiffness (in the field on days after working). It's just a reminder that there isn't a cure for arthritis and he's only human after all! But judging from how rapidly he improved, and how much better he feels, this has definitely been worth it. I have my horse back!


I took the camera along yesterday when I walked the dogs on the Lakeland Trail. It's a sure sign that spring is here, for real!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cajun and Rip

They really want to play outside, but are trying to be patient!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Who Has Seen the Wind?

I took this picture just a little while ago. It's so windy here that the topsoil is blowing off the farm down the hill and making a big black cloud.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Today's Project - Bronx the Rottweiler

Here's Bronx, my friend Debbie's sister's Rottweiler. This is oil pencil and conte, about 12 x 16". Poor Bronx is on his last legs this year. So this is a tribute to his sweet old soul.