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Gaga for Gizmo

Adding Gizmo into the mix has been a whirlwind of emotions. We’re so in love with him and incredibly protective already. What Gizmo wants, Gizmo gets.

Last night Tim showed me his new three dog feeding system. Mookie first because his bowl doesn’t skid (has a rubber bottom) across the floor when he’s eating and he gets twice as much food (he’s nearly twice their size), so he takes longer to eat.

Next, Belle on the pink dog bed in the kitchen to keep her bowl from skidding as she eats.

And finally Gizmo gets fed in a bowl pressed up against a bin for leverage (aka no skidding), I laughed aloud. Really, this is our life?! A well thought out system to prevent skidding bowls.

We’ve all adjusted since last week’s drama and are slowly settling into a routine that involves different walking schedules, equal attention allocation, various meds, and doctor’s appointments. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, on Saturday we got sad news. Gizmo has cancer. He has a fatty mass that was thought to be benign. But after our vet ran a pathology report, we found that the large mass on his side is actually cancer. We have an appointment with a cancer surgeon specialist first thing Monday morning (their soonest opening) and look forward to exploring options.

My hope is that it’s low grade and hasn’t spread, of course. Either way, we’ll do all we can to make sure he’s happy and healthy as long as possible.

It’s been a tough blow considering we’re still mourning the loss of our beloved first-born, Louis, who died from brain cancer and madly in love with this guy. He truly is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. And, truth be told, I think he likes me more than Tim. Thank god!

Tim joked that I was going to keep adopting until I got a pug that liked me more! Belle is obsessed with Tim, I’m mostly chopped liver despite flooding her with love (and cute clothes). And Mookie, well he’s in his own very special world. Same with Jackson the cat.

Gizmo caught my attention on Homeward Bound’s Instagram account in November and I kept sending his photo to Tim and Mom. Finally I broke them down to at least coordinate a meeting with him. (Pssst, I have a formula in case you’re interested!).

The rest is history. He now sleeps in our bed and we’re head over heels for this one-eyed, 10-year-old boy who walks like a crab and snores like an old man.

I clearly fell in love with Gizmo on Instagram for a reason. Truly gaga for Gizmo.  Bisous. x

A Pile of Pugs

Greetings from the less-than-tranquil Pink Palace!

We returned from Paris on Friday and two days later set out on a 26-hour round-trip drive  to pick up our latest Homeward Bound rescue, Gizmo Pierre (shown above on the left).

After teaching the New Year’s Eve mini-retreat at Tranquil Space, Tim, Belle, and I headed toward Pennsylvania to get a head start on the drive. I made my end of year donations and, per usual, couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to see the ball drop.

Mom and Pops had graciously agreed to watch Mookie and Gizmo while we were in Paris with Belle and to meet in St. Louis (somewhat midway between DC and OK) for a reunion.

Up early on New Year’s Day, we made the additional eight-hour trek to St. Louis and spent a wonderful evening and following morning with Mom, Pops, and the pugs at the beautiful Union Station hotel (where it was -2 degree outside).

Yesterday was our first full day together at home. Following a 1am return and early morning vet appointment for Gizmo, I was with clients until 9:30pm. Midday I checked in with Tim expecting a fairy tale update and, instead, it was chaos.

Two pugs had a brief altercation. One pug peed on the bed, so Tim began washing the two lines affected. Then another pug peed on the bed, so he washed all the linens. Once he sat down to check email, Gizmo claimed his lap as Belle looked up at them from the floor with her “doe eyes,” as Tim described. Since she’s never more than a few feet from Tim and definitely isn’t one for sharing him, he set up a chair on either side of his to accommodate all of them.

I called as he was heading out the door with all three (no easy feat) and Mookie was freaking out in the background (the norm, he has lots of anxiety). Poor Tim, I could barely hear him over Mookie’s barking, but could tell it wasn’t going well. He’d just driven 26 hours in two days, was still struggling with jet lag, and had three special needs pugs to handle. No biggie.

He shared how he’d taken that great photo (top one) and everything looked perfect, but he was already exhausted. We ended the call when he got home from the walk to find the washer making beeping sounds indicating an issue. The not-so-needed cherry on top.

Since I had a break between clients, I grabbed us both lunch and headed home to help handle the pups and give him a breather.

Today has been slightly smoother and I know we’ll continue to adjust to the “new normal.” Gizmo is the sweetest pup, sleeps most of the time, and always wants to be next to you.

Also, this photo below makes me laugh. Someone commented on Instagram how well-behaved they all looked. Truthfully, this image was snapped right before Belle jumped off my lap and cut in front of a server carrying a tray filled with dishes. He saw her just in time, but we were horrified. That would have been a mess!

So, as you can see, those photos don’t always tell the full story! Here’s to a continued adjustment to 600 square feet of three pugs, one kitty, and two adults. We’ve got this (she keeps reminding herself)! Bisous. x

What Makes You Come Alive

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.—Howard Thurman

Friday is my 44th birthday and we’re celebrating with a jaunt to the rural Virginia countryside followed by our first visit to stroll Virginia Beach’s boardwalk. Birthdays offer a time for reflection and mine falls mid-year when it’s good to review those New Year’s resolutions and explore what’s to come. In preparing for my birthday reflection, I’ve been thinking about the role of animals in my life.

My deep connection to animals traces back to early childhood. There were abandoned cats and dogs that became our family’s beloved pets, followed by numerous fish, newts, and hamsters. Turtles became my first true obsession at the age of seven. Then apes, now pigs.

In April 2007 I funneled through the receiving line for my coveted 300-hour Jivamukti yoga teacher training certificate and at the end teacher Sharon Gannon reminded us, “Don’t forget the animals.” I haven’t.

During the training, I learned about Farm Sanctuary and adopted a piglet named JD. He had been washed down a river in a flood and was the first of many adoptions. This small offering made me feel like I could have an impact on what was happening in factory farms. Now I know that there are 117.6 million pigs killed for food every year in the United States alone and JD is only one survival story.

In 2010 and 2012 I traveled to India to co-host yoga retreats. In between visiting temples and shopping for pink saris, I spent my time doling out tea biscuits to Rishikesh street dogs and cows. I fell in love with a tan mutt who wandered the Lakshman Jhula bridge, dodging mopeds and pedestrians. He had a skin condition, a skeletal frame, and eyes that appeared enhanced with eyeliner. I visited him daily during our weeklong stay. We named him Lumpyji. Lumpy because of his skin condition and “ji” is a suffix added to names in Hindi to convey respect.

Last Saturday I met up with 30 other animal lovers at Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary for our second annual Yoga + the Animals event. The day began with iced mint tea and a private tour of the sanctuary to met goats, sheep, a cow, horses, mules, pigs, turkeys, chickens, geese, and donkeys. Next we rolled out our mats on the green grass under a huge oak for an all-level practice. We were enveloped with a gentle breeze, sounds of the sanctuary (especially Greta the chatty goose), and hands-on assists by Courtney Hattan.

Thanks to participants’ support, we raised $1500 for the work of Burleigh Manor and $500 for Tranquil Space Foundation’s new Pigs & Pugs Project. We immediately used the funds to support Woodstock Animal Sanctuary’s rescue of four sick piglets and their mother.

My favorite Hindi mantra is Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu and Sharon Gannon translates it as: May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all. 

I’m enrolled in University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Social Work program and have transitioned the work of Tranquil Space Foundation to focus on animal welfare. So, no Sharon, I haven’t forgotten the animals. I believe all beings should be happy and free. And this is what makes me come alive. Namaste.

Here’s how you can help: adopt a farm animal, support pug rescues (here’s our local one), support farm sanctuaries, try veg (pick up a starter kit at one of Tranquil Space‘s front desks).