Saturday, December 24, 2005

'Twas The Night Before Christmas...

'Twas the night before Christmas and all thru the house,
not a creature was stirring except for Art's mouse.
The computer was humming, the phone line was busy,
he was surfing the internet in a shopping frenzy.
That one last present he still had to buy,
for someone special he loved deep down inside.
www .net and www .com
were frantically searched, would he be there 'til dawn?
The puppies were sleeping, all snug in their beds,
while visions of dog cookies danced in their heads.
When up on the roof there arose such a clatter,
the dogs started barking saying, "Something's the matter!"
The fat little elf all dressed in red,
slid down the chimney and fell on his head.
Dizzy and dazed, he got to his feet,
"I've never seen so many dogs! All wanting treats!
Cookies for Amber, Star, Skippy and George,
Gosh, I hope I've brought a lot more!
Can't forget Hannah, Linus, Eddie, Porter or Max
They’re all good doggies, that's just the facts."
Then laying a finger by the side of his nose,
with a wink and a nod, up the chimney he rose.
Then we heard him call out, as he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
- Gayle Ballinger 1997

Amber & George, Christmas Eve 2003

We sent this poem out on Christmas Day, 1997 to friends and family, when we had a houseful of dogs, when George was still a "Guest" and we were hoping to adopt him while his family tried to figure out what they were doing... We didn't do a tree that year, we simply lined our tiny living room with kennels and had a very merry and warm holiday with a lot of furry love. I'll close this now with how we closed our letter that Christmas day...

Hope you get more than a lump of coal in your stocking for Christmas!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!
Art & Gayle

Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Twas Heaven here with you...

...Grieve not,
Nor speak of me with tears,
But laugh and talkof me
As if I were beside you...
I loved you so ~
'Twas Heaven here with you...
- Isla Paschal Richardson

George loved to lay on the front porch and watch the neighborhood. We have wonderful neighbors who loved George or at least were tolerant of his visiting them; he didn't see doors as things to stop you from going in, merely a passageway to see a friend. Now, we don't just let the dogs run helter-skelter all over the 'hood, but if you were working in your garage, or on the way out to your car, you could bet that you'd get a visit from George... and usually Amber, too.Our neighbors often found that they had Georgie's help, asked for or not, on various projects.

As "The Welcoming Committee" he made sure everyone knew how glad he was to see them, going back for more, just to be sure. He loved the kids and one of his favorite spots was lying at the end of the driveway, watching them play ball up the street, longing for Zack or Luke to come by on their bikes or scooters. He would pester me in the afternoon to go out front for a walk, as he knew school had gotten out and it was time for his friends to come home. He touched the hearts of many and was blessed by Sandie who made very special dog cookies for George and Amber; Thank You - you are so special.

The love and outpouring of warm condolences, has served to remind us that we aren't the only ones who were blessed to have Georgeous in our lives and I thank you for it all. As people who love dogs immensely, know that the love is returned to you and we wish you, your family, dogs and other furfriends included a blessed a peaceful holiday and long, healthy lives... Please hug them all from us and give them little kisses on their little cold noses.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In Honor of George

Greet everyone with enthusiasm and make sure they know you are glad to see them. It doesn't matter what kind of shoes they wear or car they drive. Love doesn't ask if you can afford it.

Smart dogs can catch. SMARTER dogs, can't, as people will give you loads of treats trying to teach you how.

When Mom says, 'I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George!" You know you're in for a fun day!

Play in the snow, chase and eat sno-balls...
If your tummy tells you something's not right, listen to it, or it will grumble very loudly later.

Be gentle with children and little old ladies. They are delicate and give sweet hugs and kisses.

Don't miss the boat.Never bark when a simple woof will do.

Going shooting is fun!
Find the Clay Pigeons they miss and bring them back!Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet.

Help clean up when there are Beer cans in someone's shop - you might get lucky and find one half-full!!! Never turn down an invitation for a cold one, or warm one, or sharing one with Dad...

Getting to go along is great, even if you don't like the ride part all that much; you get to have so many neat adventures.Only fart around Mom when Dad's nearby, she won't know who to blame.

Mind your manners; Grandma will make you scrambled eggs.

Love your Vet & Groomer, they care for you very much and going to see them is fun! They have very special treats and Mom always buys some for at home!

When snuggling with Mom on the bed and she tries to hide you under the blankets from Dad - don't wag your tail!

"The Earth is my towel and I shall dry myself upon it."

If you help Dad mow the lawn, your paws will turn green.

Wallow in thick mud and enjoy the Spa treatment; some women pay hundreds of dollars for this luxury.Pick the remote up and hand it to Dad before jumping up on the couch to watch TV with him.

Go boating every chance you get & always wear your lifejacket.Never skip a meal; eating is important!

Keep everyone's secrets and wag your tail a lot.

Go swimming whenever the chance arises.

Remind PaPa how much he likes Popcorn; he likes to share.

Hunting fish is fun!Goofiness is almost always appropriate.

Tummy Time is always good - who doesn't love a good tummy rub?

Go out with Dad to get the mail and carry in a letter to Mom - you'll get at least 3 cookies everytime.Wiggle when you walk.

Pick up skeins of yarn that roll off the couch and bring them to Mom; she has biscuits hiding in her knitting basket.

When you're a puppy, don't eat the siding off the house, Dad get's really pissed off.

If someone doesn't feel good, curl up with them for a nice long nap.Flirt with women, it will get you everything; respond enthusiastically to the adorable nicknames they call you -like Georgeous, Handsome, Mister, Georgie, Goofball...
Let everyone whom you love, know that you love them with all your heart.

George was born Beckwith's Bright Star, May 11, 1997 and came into our lives October 16, 1997. We were blessed by his presence immediately and although at that time he was not ours, he became very special to us and we loved him very much. I'll never forget that day. He was a stocky 5 month old Golden Retriever puppy; he made me think of a linebacker. He was so happy - jolly - to be precise and so easy going as he dragged my sofa half-way across the living room... When Art came home that evening and met George, his exact words were, "We're not getting another dog. ...But if he needs a home, we'll take him." It was a prophecy, but at the time, we had no idea what was in store for George or our little family, but on March 1, 1998, on a cold, rainy evening, we brought George home for the first time as our dog. We have had so many wonderful years, wonderful adventures and sweet times. On Monday, December 19, 2005 George passed on to Heaven, where he is free of cancer and pain and with his friends and brothers Skippy and Yukon who await us at Rainbow Bridge.

George, we love you.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My Amber

She's Beautiful!
and just loves getting dolled up and wearing pretty bows in her hair!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Over the River...To Grandmother's House We Go...

(To clarify, that is "To George's Grandmother's House"...I don't want to bring a lump of coal upon myself when I have tried so hard all year to be good and I am this close!! But the title did seem to fit...) Actually, George and I spent a few lovely days at Art's Mom's & PaPa's house playing decorators while they were off playing elsewhere. This is what we started with...
And after Christmas Eve, I'll be showing the final results. I had so much fun stringing lights, of which there are never enough, fixing that ever-needed last strand, opening boxes, discovering treasures, (no~ I didn't do any peeking or snooping, I promise!) hanging ornaments and spending some quiet time with my boy.

While we were there, George insisted that Gramma left them apples out, just for him...
What do you have when you get a Golden Retriever that cannot catch?
A comedian!
By, George, I think you've got it!
Merry and his friends at ACS have been working with him on his Catch skills, but they are still a bit off... As you see, his concept is something to the effect of "maybe if I close my eyes and open wide enough it will just magically land in my trap!"

His skills are improving - well, he get's luckier more often!!!
Thanks for the comment, Stephanie, please feel welcome to call him "our dear George." I don't think people can "own" animals anymore than they can "own" another person. His heart is his own and it is big enough to love everyone - and he does. I am just lucky that he lives with me!

While at Mom's I took a picture of a very weird plant that has been growing in her front garden bed. It is dying off now, but does anyone know what it is??

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's Peanut Butter Time!

What exactly is the Magic Ingredient in Peanut Butter?I'm not sure, but I am grateful for it; it makes pill time go so smoooooothly!
'Tis so very Exciting!Mmmmmm.... Tasty!Fun!
Gotta Have MORE!Don'tcha LOVE it?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

George is feeling better!

It's been a tough weekend, but George is definitely feeling better today. How can you tell? He's a bit more frisky! He loves those Ice Cookies!!!! What a treat! They're keeping him hydrated and his tummy is feeling better, too! Today is a vast improvement over yesterday, which was not a good day, but not the worst. I was having my doubts, although his temp was acceptable yesterday; today his temp has lowered even further to and continues to be normal! No vomitting or the runs...Thank you, Lord!

I finished the Squiggle Scarf (pictures to post after Christmas) and started another present last night. There is so much to do! Ack! How does this happen when I started on Dec 26th? Well, Christmas is in full bloom around our house!At Thanksgiving Dinner Art's Mom gave us a poem by John Wesley which I thought was pretty special:

Do all the good you can;
By all the means you can;
In all the places you can;
At all the times you can;

To all the people you can;
As long as ever you can.

She also gave us table favors. Mine was a beautiful gold fabric box, filled with a lovely scented hand lotion and aromatherapy jar for relieving migraine headaches, which I have been battling for years. She not only finds the most beautiful gifts, but also ones that are special for the recipient. I have much love and admiration for my mother in law; she is an incredible lady. Thank you Jo.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

George Updates, Line Dancing & Snoopy

Thanksgiving was indeed a wonderful day! We have a lot of great Art in our family and this year, we were especially blessed to have more Art than ever with us at the table. In fact, it could have been possible to have as many as five...We had some other special guests, like Richard, our good friend and brilliant creator and Commodore of the Yacht Dogs Yacht Club...

After dinner we played Texas Hold'em and made a beautiful puzzle...

It's been a busy week, trying to get ready for the holidays, making presents, many of which I cannot post as I'd like to surprise the recipients, so after Christmas I will have lots of knitting projects to tell about, and most importantly taking care of Amber and George, both of whom went to the vet this least once... ahem...
Yes, the George update is that the last round of chemo didn't do much to reduce the internal organ problems. We changed protocols Thursday to something we had never tried before and he was feeling pretty punky that evening. By morning, the diarrhea was back, his temp was up and he would not eat, even when I tried to hand feed him little pieces of chicken. So, we went to the vet. I love our vet; I should say, I love our vets, we have several now. I called and they said to just come on in. We arrived and were seen within 5 minutes - and they were busy! They care so much. They put him on IV fluids and gave him Sucralfate to help his GI tract. My suspicion that he was becoming dehydrated was right; had we waited until he was truly dehydrated, it could have been a really bad situation. He's still feeling punky, but he ate a small breakfast and his temp has stayed in the normal range today. He wags his tail when we talk to him and we are giving him crushed ice "cookies" (cubes) as treats to keep water in him.

Oh, Amber is fine, she had the normal yearly checkup and is in great health, especially for being 13. However, as we have radically changed George's diet these past 6 months due to the cancer, I have failed her in her health on the weight issue. She has always been a 45 pound dog. Always, withing a pound one way or the other, never an issue. She has gained an enormous amount of weight these past months and I am to blame. Her mind set has gone from slow and never wanting to eat much (famine), only eating a full meal every few days, to constantly wanting to eat (feast) and always looking for more. Fortunately, she likes Ice Cookies too, as they contain no calories. So, other than my worrying about her teeth, she is getting lots of those and little else, other than her strict food diet now. Hopefully we can turn her metabolism around. I hope so, she's having arthritis worse than ever and I know this is a major factor in it all.

I sent a care package to a friend, Sheri in Arizona this week. I hope she has it before she sees this post. Sheri is an actress and was recently on CSI NY and West Wing, we've been friends for years through the Marine Lending industry. She's a Snoopy nut. Among a few other treasures, I sent her a piggy bank that I've had since I was a very little girl. I know that it will be highly cherished at her home among her other Snoopy memorabilia and that is where it truly belongs.
Last night I went dancing with my friend Kim. I haven't been country dancing in years. I used to be quite good and I knew all the line dances. I remembered most of the ones they did, but not well enough to go out there and do them. That was very frustrating. It was the first time I have ever come home from a night dancing without being completely exhausted. I did, however, have an absolute BLAST! As we left last night, it was snowing hard, again, but my dreams of a white weekend are not to be, it has all melted away. I'm looking forward to more dancing nights and wondering how long it will take for me to remember the steps. I think the last time I went was in 1993...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow! Turkey Day is here again! This year is nearly over and as I look back, I see so many things to be Thankful for. It may not have been the easiest year, but easy years are not always the best years, for it is the hard times that promote growth and even the hard times could have been much worse and for all of that, I am thankful. I am thankful first and foremost to God, that His hand in my Life has molded that growth. While I may not understand the reasons why or the purpose for the struggles, illness and heartache this year held, He is still in control and in that He knows, is Wise and it was His hand that prevented those things from becoming worse than they could have. His hand comforted me, held me and I was not alone. That in the end, all these things will pass and none of them shall matter anyway, when we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

I am thankful for Art, who has stood by my side. Who was there during my seizure and helped me in a moment I needed him so badly and who has supported, encouraged and loved me. For Trevor, who was there that evening, assisting in those crucial moments - there for Art & I both. I know it was very difficult for you, Little Bro'. Thank you, I love you. For Papa & Mary Jo, for their loving support. For the many miles they so lovingly put on their car for me to get me to appointments I needed to go to. For the special bond I got to develop with Papa during all those minutes on the road. I love you. I was adopted into Art's family a long time ago, but this past year, the love and support was incredible. The cards that Mike, Donna, Jennifer & Kristina brought to me in the hospital touched my heart in a new and meaningful way. THANK YOU, I love you all. I am thankful that God has blessed me with two wonderful neices whom I love dearly - and for getting to do "Prom Hair" and perms and other fun things! Love you, J&K!

I am thankful for God answering my prayers of many years by bringing Art Hansen back into my life, after all these years. To get to develop a relationship with someone so special, someone I've admired since I was a little girl has been very special to me. Thank you, I am glad you are home again and that we've become friends.

I am thankful that I've been able to learn to forgive and accept my mother in new ways which has allowed me to build a better relationship with her. I am thankful for my Aunt Myrna she was a blessing in my life; she is now free of pain and Home with the Lord.

I am thankful to all my friends, the ones I've held dear for a long time and the new ones I made this year; your love, support, friendship, time shared chatting, knitting, shopping and driving me (and the dogs when necessary) is so much appreciated! Thank you all, I love you!

I am thankful for my vets and their staff and the new friends I have made there, particularly, George in Australia, Merry, Amy, Dr. Meleo & Dr. Smalley. I have learned so much, much I did not want to know, about canine cancers, but I have anyway, so if I have to learn it, you have made the process better. I am thankful that you are willing to share your knowledge with the rest of us so we can do all that we can to help our canine friends. Thank you for your support, loving care and that you do your work with your hearts.

I am thankful for Amber and George. For their love. For the laughter they bring to my life. For the silliness that they readily display to lighten the atmosphere and remind us not to take things too seriously, but to live each day to the fullest. I am thankful that Amber, at the age of 13, is a young, active, healthy dog, full of spunk and vigor, and always ready to give kisses. I am thankful that George is feeling good, not in pain and doesn't care that his body is fighting cancer. Thankful that he laughs inside as he wags his tail and does silly things (like climbing on my neighbors jet ski trailer, just because "he can") to amuse us and wants to cuddle and play and is happy. Thankful that he is with us and he is happy.

Thank you all for your concern, support and inquiries as to George's health. It means so much to us.

I am thankful that God created dogs to remind us of his unconditional love...
(and not to take ourselves too seriously!)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


My neighbor got a new roommate and he is really cute!!!!

In fact, I think I am in love! Of course, with a face like that and a body to match, how could a girl not be? He is definitely a Babe Magnet! (Of course, my neighbor, who already thinks I am a freak is probably reading this and is now making plans to move... ha ha...)

But he is so adorable!!!George & Amber were quite excited to meet their new friend!

Amber, who is 13, was having a ball and I really enjoyed observing the play bows and body language that dogs use to communicate. She was having so much fun! I remember when she was just a little tyke. My how time flies!George says, "How did I ever FIT in such a tiny package??" Maverick had some pretty good ideas of what would be fun, after all there are so many things to learn, explore and do!

Like eating Dad's pants...
and... everyone should know that....
When sneaking up on "lions" ...
...POUNCE!!!! But only from behind, of course...

You know, one of the best things about dogs, is that they are so accepting, loving, and once you are welcomed into their pack, that's it. You're there. Done Deal. It's pretty rare and very extreme to be extricated or pushed out. It is very neat to witness first hand, the wonderful instincts that play out when a pack welcomes a new member, especially a baby - they were so gentle - into their fold...