Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walter yet again

Hey ! What are we ? Chopped liver ? Walter again ? ? ? ?

Sorry guys - Walter is on a roll and here is a short "movie" of me trying to make him slow down and get some rest. Unfortunately this was not on Walter's agenda at the time and here he is, fine tuning his vocal cords for a loud crescendo should I dare not to open his bedroom up again. Since he is stone deaf he obviously can't hear himself "sing":

What did we learn from this ? Under no circumstances do we mess with Mr. Magoo's time schedule - EVER ! It is amazing how age changes a living being's behavior patterns. Once released he sneezes once and triumphantly goes on his merry way. (No dachsie has been harmed during the filming of this "movie". The condition our ear drums are in is a different story. *lol* )

Got it !!!

What, if I don't wanna get it ? *grumble*
Bica is not amused...........

Monday, August 30, 2010

Walter travels...

Oldtimer Walter has problems with his anal glands on occasion. One morning I saw him scooting around on his behind and my suspicions were confirmed upon closer inspection of his rear end: Everything underneath the tail was swollen and inflamed and it looked as if a trip to the vet was in order. Now mind you - traveling with Walter-dearest is no fun. He hates riding in the car and no matter how much Mr. Budelheimer a.k.a. Rodney is trying to convince him of the opposite: Walter despises it ! ! ! It messes with his schedule and inconveniences his sleep patterns. Therefore Mr. Magoo gets to only ride in the car when it is
a b s o l u t e l y necessary. We already tried different approaches to ensure his travel comfort and every single one has been rejected so far. First trip with Walter happened with his royalty confined in his crate. He whimpered and complained the entire time throughout the trip. Second outing I secured him in well upholstered laundry basket and strapped it next to me on the passenger seat. Even worse ! He did not want to be restricted in a basket and he did not want to sit still. He also lost total control of his bladder and rear, which found me standing on the shoulder of Rt. 66 during rush hour to clean up the mess. So that was a no-no too. Third time I thought I could outsmart the old rascal and I put him in front of the passenger seat on top of some soft and fluffy blankets. Wroooooooooooong ! The result was a Walter concert from start to finish, making me wonder how such loud noises can resonate from such a small body. Amazing !
Having told you our history of Walter travels, you probably now wonder how I got him to the vet's office without suffering a nervous break down. Since I liked the basic principle of the last trip, I did a repeat performance of the basic set-up:Walter was put atop a few blankets and secured with some rolled up towels to keep him snug in place. He's contemplating as you can see......
Next to me on the seat I put a couple of charlee bears. Available at almost every pet store, they are a nice low cal treat for dogs whose happiness depends on their supply of food. Walter is one of those. He loves to eat and since one charlee bear only has about 3 calories, it doesn't hurt him to have a handful during the duration of a car trip.Recognize this slightly distressed look ? You are right. Walter is fine tuning his vocal cords to start his "Walter does not like to travel" song with a soft crescendo, which soon will turn into a fiery aria of dachsie distress if not fed by at least five charlee bears. Owning - pardon me - being owned by a virtuoso like Walter Magoo let's one shift in to overdrive in a minute flat and multi tasking becomes a breeze.Don't let those innocent looking, big brown eyes fool you. He's a manipulator and he knows how to extract charlee bears out of my hand. It is quite an experience to deal with a demented dog and requires a lot of patience, persistence, and yes - love. Dementia is a disease that progresses in stages and like humans, dogs can be affected too. There are phases of panic, disorientation, neurological problems and many more. Walter can sometimes not differentiate between night and day and there was a time, when he demanded to get up at 4 a.m. After a few weeks we were looking like zombies from lack of sleep. A few days ago I started giving him Melatonin, thinking what helps me overcome jet-lag, may help Walter find a better sleep rhythm. It did ! ! He lets us sleep now until about 5:30/6 a.m. We can live with that. :-) To help him deal with his dementia a bit better, he also gets a medication called Selegiline. We just started giving it to him a week or two ago and it may take up to two months to find out if it is effective.
More info about CDS here: http://www.lbah.com/cds.htm
Of course every drug has it's downsides and one must consider the side effects a drug may have. I personally have to take medication and upon reading about possible side effects one wonders if taking that particular pill really is all that beneficiary. If it improves my quality of life - I guess I have no choice.
To get back to Walter's bum: The treatment was successful and he's feeling much better again, thank-you-very-much !

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Little Vultures

This morning we had an exciting walk at our favorite park. First, when we got there we were greeted by a deer and her two fawns. They fled as fast as they could once Rodney's battlecry hit the airwaves and he threatened to have them all for breakfast. Thanks, Monsterman - nice going !We then went down towards the observation platform to check the water level of the Potomac. Last time we went there, it was alarmingly low and the sewage and run-off from the neighborhood streets were quite visible. This sight gets to me every time I go there and it makes the pleasure of viewing the beautiful scenery only half as enjoyable.
On our way we could see some young vultures sitting on the reling that surrounds the platform:Two little dots in the center of the picture - barely visible. I wanted to try to get some close ups of the two birds and that meant I had to leave Tessa and Rodney behind, because they were going to spoil the pictures for me. Tessa hates vultures with a passion and goes ballistic when she smells one. Rodney the same. So I grab Bicalina and together we zig-zag towards the vultures who sit unsuspecting on their lookout.
All in a sudden all hell is breaking lose behind me and I see Rui struggling with two highly excited dogs barking on top of their lungs. A herd of deer was racing across the meadow right in front of them, coming seemingly out of nowhere........ So much for taking pics of vultures, right ?
Wrong. Those guys seem to be fairly young and dumb, or simply unflappable. They stood their ground and let me sneak up on them even further:The dots are getting bigger. They still didn't seem to mind my presence and so I sneaked up on them a bit further and here are the results:
Kind of curious but not too concerned.......(However - I used the zoom on this one)
Getting closer. . .Checking us out.Finally they had to make a decision if they wanted to be tame birds, or if they wanted to continue to live in the wild. The chose latter.

**As always: Clicking on the images will show them in their original size **

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Playing For Change

Today, let's not "talk dogs". The heat and humidity are horrendous and we just did a little sniffing round in the dark at about 5:30 a.m.

A little while ago I stumbled about this program, called "Playing For Change".
Here's their mission statement:

The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF) is dedicated to connecting the world through music by providing resources (including, but not limited to facilities, supplies, and educational programs) to musicians and their communities around the world.

* Several years ago, a small group of filmmakers set out with a dream to make a documentary film about street musicians from around the world. That dream has grown not only into a reality, but into a global sensation called Playing For Change, and has touched the lives of millions of people.

* While traveling to around the world to film and record these musicians, the crew became intimately involved with the music and people of each community they visited.

* Many of these people lived very modestly in communities with limited resources; nevertheless, they were full of generosity, warmth, and above all they were connected to each other by a common thread: music.

* In an effort to ensure that anyone with the desire to receive a music education would have the opportunity to do so, the Playing For Change Foundation was born.

* The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF) is dedicated to the fundamental idea that peace and change are possible through the universal language of music.

* Music is our ammunition.


If you like what you've been reading, here's an example of their music, showing street musicians from all over the world:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our Morning Walk

No thanks to Mr. Magoo (Walter that is...) we still do get up anywhere between 4 and 5 in the morning. Which is okay, now that we are plagued by heat and humidity. Come winter though, I want that old man to change his habits of howling like a wolf at oh-god-thirty, just because he thinks he should be getting something to eat. This is not about having to go out. This definitely has to do with the senility of his stomach, and that seems to go right along with his somewhat forgetful brain. He simply forgets that we do like to sleep until at least 5:15 a.m.Moi ? I would never ever do anything like that. Waking up people in the middle of the night ? They're making that up !

Neither here nor there. No thanks to Walter we were ready to roll - more or less - around 6 o'clock. Humidity was already alive and well and so we strolled slowly from one blade of grass to another.Bicalina got "stationary" and started grazing like a little goat. Nothing better than fresh greens after a good rainstorm. Last night we had a couple of severe thunderstorms in the area and this morning it was obvious that there had been some destruction going on in the neighborhood. On the upside: The grass got greener and tasted fresher.
We also investigated the porch of the old Lewinsville Farmhouse......and found the setting quite tranquil.
Strange objects were also seen along the way. Did somebody try to set up a 'green office'?

Here a few more impressions we found along the way:
Pumpkin behind bars.

A natural frame.

Flowers reaching for the morning sky.

Now we're back home and the dogs are snoozing away in their beds, trying to stay cool. It will be another day in the nineties. . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Potomac River

... is only about 15 minutes from our house and we pretty much go there for our walks every day. We've seen the river almost rise over the observation platform at Great Falls Park and we encountered days when the water level was so low that you could almost cross the river on foot to reach the MD side. (Not really - but you get my drift.)

This is what it looked like this morning. We definitely need rain !

I didn't post this picture to primarily show you the state of the river. No - I want you to look closely at the foamy stuff that is floating around in front of the run off pipe, which leads into the river just at that spot. Not visible to the naked eye are all the plastic bottles, garbage bags and other debris which float along the shores of this otherwise very scenic river.
People close their eyes. They don't want to see it. Some try to make a difference, but their efforts seem fruitless. Concerned citizens within the Commonwealth volunteer to protect their natural resources. They monitor the streams, rivers, and lakes in their backyard. There is no limit one's contribution: Be a water quality monitor, participate in stream cleanups and stream bank restoration, or help educate yourself and neighbors! For starters: Stop using chemicals on your lawns and pesticides.

Everybody can make a difference. If you're interested, read on about "the state of the nation's river": http://www.potomac.org/site/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/pc_sonr_web.512kb.pdf

Here some info about Potomac water quality: http://www.potomac.org/site/water-quality/
Mind you that the Potomac at Great Falls belongs to the MD side. The MD side is 66% impaired, as far as pollution goes.


  • Of approximately 10,000 stream miles assessed in the watershed, more than 3,800 miles were deemed “threatened” or “impaired”.
  • The Potomac is one of the least dam-regulated large river systems in the eastern United States.
  • The Potomac has the highest level of nitrogen and the third highest level of phosphorus of all the major rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These nutrients can limit the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, cause low oxygen conditions and create deadzones.
  • Approximately 90% DC area drinking water comes from Potomac.
  • Between 1986 and 1999, Maryland averaged more than 6,000 acres of forest loss per year. Forests are capable of capturing up to 6 times more rain than grass alone and 20 times more rain than impervious surfaces, such as parking lots.
  • Over a 30-year period, the tree canopy in Washington, DC has declined by 16% and the stormwater runoff has increased by 34%.
  • Swimming is not an approved activity in the waters of the Potomac and Anacostia in the District of Columbia.
  • Effluent from wastewater treatment plants is currently the most notably identified point-source contribution of endocrine disrupting contaminants in the Potomac River.
  • Emerging contaminants in the Potomac include personal care products, pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications, agricultural pollution, animal feedlots, industrial byproducts, and biosolids.
  • In the last three decades, many areas in the watershed have seen their population more than double. A growing population alters and stresses the natural state of its land and water.
  • The Potomac watershed is expected to add more than 1 million people to its population over the next 20 years.
  • The most densely populated area in the watershed is the Middle Potomac, including Washington, DC, which is home to 3.72 or about 70% of the watershed’s population.
  • In the next 20 years, the population of the Potomac watershed is expected to grow 10% each decade, adding 1 million inhabitants to reach a population of 6.25 million.
  • An 80% prevalence of the intersex condition was reported in male smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah and Fork rivers of the Potomac in a 2002 USGS study.

  • View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

  • EPA reviews anywhere from 1500-3000 “new” chemicals annually­­-- many of which enter Potomac waterways, undetected by wastewater treatment plants.
  • The combined sewer system in Washington, DC includes 53 combined sewer overflow outfalls in the Potomac watershed: 10 of which discharge to the main stem, 15 to the Anacostia River, and 28 to Rock Creek and its tributaries.
  • Along the Anacostia shoreline, 17 discharge locations result in 2-3 billion gallons of sewage overflow into the river each year.
  • The Potomac River delivers the largest amount of sediment to the Chesapeake Bay each year which can limit the growth and submerged aquatic vegetation and affect populations of all fish, shellfish and birds that depend on this vegetation as a source of food or shelter.
Please note: Sources include State of the Nation’s River reports 2007, 2008 and 2009, and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. (Source:Potomac Conservancy)

Another eye opener is "Poisoned Waters" which aired on PBS's "Frontline" last year: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/poisonedwaters/view/
This delicate system is fed by the billions of gallons of raw sewage brought in by none other than the Potomac River. No thanks to mankind, nature is taking a devastating beating.........
Once We Cared...Back in the 1970s, the public demanded action. Nixon's EPA sued big polluters, tackled auto emissions, banned DDT. What changed?

There are days where walking along the trails at Great Falls Park is anything but enjoyable. The smell of sewage follows you pretty much everywhere. Especially near the river bank and all the way on the carriage path along the swamp trail.

That park is near and dear to me and we enjoy it tremendously. We've been walking there now for over 20 years on a regular basis and looking at that polluted river makes me sad. There are people who don't see the importance of clean rivers and lakes, but to me it's an important issue.
Name one river in all of VA where you could jump in and go for a swim. I couldn't name ONE !

Two years ago Tessa got really sick from going swimming in a creek. Scary ! Real scary. :(
So don't tell me, the rivers and creeks are cleaner than they once were. They are just not clean enough ! Pollution is a ticking time bomb. We destroy nature slowly, yet we can not exist without nature. So why is it, that we destroy systematically what sustains our ability to live ?
It's up to each and every one of us to make a difference. Nature provided for us all her life. Now it's time to pay back and take care of her.

Comments welcomed !

Tessa and Beau go to Summer Camp

It's the time of summer break and kids everywhere enjoy camp activities. Tessa and her best pal Beau got a summer job. They went out to teach children about how to behave around dogs and Beau impressed everyone by showing off his skills as a search and rescue dog. (SAR)Yesterday we went to the Cub Run Recreation Center, and I forgot to take my camera. So there won't be a lot of reporting about yesterday's event, but nonetheless - I didn't forget to take the cam to last week's event and here are some impressions of that demonstration:

First my friend Barbara taught the children everything there is to know about surviving in the woods in case you get lost. Tessa is watching patiently. . .

After some classroom time, we head out to the woods where Beau will show how he is trained to find missing persons.

While some of the children are hiding in the woods, the rest of the kids are learning about the search and find process. They are fascinated !

Tessa always gets very upset when Beau leaves her behind on his searches. Once he has found a "victim" he will run back to Barbara and bark at her to make her follow him to the lost person.
That's when I have a really hard time holding on to Tessa. She thinks she has to go and help her buddy...
So once it's confirmed that Beau has located the victims and they have been found, Tessa gets to go and "find" Beau. The kids love that part of the search too, because it's a joy to see Tessa taking off into the distance to do her own search. Here you can see how happy they both come running back to us. Mind you, all this happens at around noon time with temperatures sometimes well into the nineties.

That's why it's so important that the dogs have access to water at all times. We only stayed in the sun for about half an hour and then we headed back into the shade. Many dog owners make the mistake of shaving down their dogs, thus taking away the only protection the dog has against the sun. Not only is it bad for the dog's skin, it also causes the undercoat to grow in real dense and it will over time ruin their coat.

.......but back to summer camp. Considering that Tessa didn't grow up with children, it keeps amazing me over and over how much she enjoys them. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I did take her to the school bus every morning when she was a puppy. She never had a bad experience with children and thinks they are so much fun !

Just a few "Tessa with Kids Impressions":

At the end just a little anecdote from yesterday's excursion: It was hot ! REAL hot ! The temperature was about 96F and the humidity was at around 90%. It felt like being in a tropical greenhouse. The dogs got really hot and even though we parked them in the shade as much as we could, they consumed a lot of water and were panting heavily. Some of the kids felt sorry for Tessa and took some sponges to give her a refreshing sponge bath. (I wish I had the cam for this one. It was priceless ! ) So here are at least ten kids armed with soaking wet sponges which they unleashed onto my panting dog. Some dogs would have run away in panic. Not Tessa. She was soaking up all the water and the kids attached to it. The highlight of her spa treatment was a shower with the hose. They stuck that hose in her mouth, sprayed under her belly and washed down her legs. Tessa thought it was great ! The whole scene reminded me of the movie "Car Wash". Remember that one ? ;-)

***clicking on the images will show them in their original size***