Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More about history

Obi has had his ups and downs. The past week has been pretty good - I think we found a combination of medicines that are helping for now. In case anyone else is looking for possible solutions - Obi's stomach was not tolerating the Metacam as prescribed. After much fiddling it seems if I give him Sucralfate 1 3/4 - 2 hours ahead of his dinner (not 1 hour as directed, that did not work for us - does need to be 2 hours after any previous food too) and then give the Metacam with dinner at a dose meant for a 60-65 lb dog instead of Obi's 85 lbs things are going well. It has been 4 weeks since the bone cancer diagnosis. He still enjoys his walks - though slowly. He loves to go to the pond and now that the weather is warming we can play there. Obi's favorite game has always been to catch things I throw him as he stands in the pond. He's such a beautiful guy and it is an image that will be forever imbedded in my mind. Click to see it on some Black Labrador gifts and shirts. It is a great joy for me to be seeing that pose again this spring.

Here is a picture of another wonderful Lab that has since crossed Rainbow Bridge. This is my Buckaroo, one of Leela's puppies. You can click to see more of my OtterTail Labrador Retriever dog family. We had many wonderful years when all our dogs were young and healthy. The maximum number of adult Labs I ever had was 13. They were all trained, well-behaved and lived in the house as pets. Today we have 6, but sadly we will say good-bye to Oberon all too soon and Dave is nearly 14, so his time is also short. It does not get any easier to say good-bye.

Roo inspired many designs in my Labrador art. He was my model for the swimming dog cut into wood items and one of my first sculptures. He was the model for the diving dog design used on wood and metal. His lovely face graces products in my Cafe Shop as well as his own shop. All Roo products donate 25% of profits to support Lab Rescue. Roo is also a Fairy Dog. Pictures and memories I have of my sweet Buckaroo continue to inspire me today.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Good Day

Here is my beautiful OtterTail Oberon - King of the Fairy Dogs. He's having a good day today - eating and taking walks and feeling happy. I am playing with the pain medicine (with my vet's consent). I don't know if my changes have helped or it's just coincidence. It's hard to tell, it's been a mixed week. Maybe some days are just better than others.

King of the Fairy Dogs - I named him Oberon because he was such a scaredy-cat baby when he was a pup even though he was a big boy. The only thing he could ever be king over is fairies. He's been my big baby his whole life. The idea of fairy dogs developed into many pictures combining my love of gardening with my love of my dogs and some digital graphics fun. You can see some of my Fairy Dog designs here: OtterTail Labrador Retriever Fairy Dogs as well as some printed on many products here: OtterTail Labrador Art Shop - Fairy Dog shirts and gifts. Sweet Obi inspired the whole Fairy Dog concept. It's interesting how design ideas come about sometimes. I love these Fairy Dog pictures, but the truth is they take a ton of time on the computer to get the details the way I like them. One magical fact is that Fairy Dogs do not cast shadows.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Obi and Tallulah

Obi and Tallulah had a cuddle a few days ago on "the Reilly bed". Reilly is a lab we took in for a family in NYC who could not keep him due to health problems after 8 1/2 years. He is a wonderful guy who lives with good friends now, but he sent his big bed back to us because all the OtterTail dogs love it so much. Reilly's name is embroidered on the cover. We think of him often.
Today started out like spring. The daffodils and tulips' noses are up. Crocuses are blooming and thousands of geese flew overhead. After a tough morning for Obi we had a slow walk and Obi got to play in the pond - one of his favorite things. I made a new picture of him there and put it on blank cards. You can see them here: Labrador Retriever Greeting Cards. I plan to do more with it; it is so much Obi and one pose that I will always remember of him.
Now we are about to get heavy storms, the thunder is approaching. Then back to winter tomorrow. This storm is looking ominous - heavy winds and hail are expected. Time to huddle up with my Labs and hold them tight.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I woke up this morning...

I woke up this morning and lay looking out the window. I was watching the sky and saw a cloud dog running fast to the north. A few minutes later this appeared. I think perhaps it is Rainbow Bridge -- here for my Oberon.

The day began. The temperature warmed and after the rainbow shower the skies cleared, but the wind began to roar. We went for a walk this afternoon - my husband and I and our dogs we have now - Dave, Obi, Gwendolyn, Marius, Eponine and Tallulah. Obi was having trouble, so Marius, Gwen, Eponine and I walked a short path with him. They all love to go farther and faster with me, so after Obi was finished I took these 3 back out for another loop. The wind battered us as if God was ripping Obi from my arms. I don't want to let him go...

But I'll go back in time now - to Leela. What a joy. A Lab's Lab true and through. Leela got me to meet other breeders and I went to my first Labrador Specialty shows. I was totally smitten. We all had great times together. Leela and Holly adored each other. They inspired my OtterTail Lab*Art design called "Friends". Click here to see one version and their photo: Labrador Retriever Sculptures
I bred Leela once to a wonderful, top-winning stud dog and our family grew. In 1988 I started my OtterTail Lab*Art as a way to help pay for my "dog habit" of going to specialty shows half way around the county with our expanding family and it gave my husband something to do at the shows. I never knew what my art would lead to today and look forward to where it will lead me in the years ahead. I give thanks to all of my dogs who have touched my life and inspired me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


This is the first entry in my new blog. I had thought about starting a blog for a few months - I don't know that now is the best time, but it is the time. I thought starting a blog 5 weeks ago when I got a new puppy was a grand idea. We could learn and grow together. I didn't find the time then, but I will find it now. It has turned into a very sad time for me in many ways, but perhaps some of what I share will mean something to others who love their Labradors or any dogs as much as I love mine. And I promise to share the joy too - there is so much of that!

Eleven days ago I found out my sweet Oberon has bone cancer and not long to live. Perhaps sitting here at my computer with Obi and my other Labs by my side (and puppy at my feet) and typing some of my thoughts will ease the sorrow. At least it will let anyone reading this get to know us more.

Where to start? In due respect I will start with Holly - my first Lab and first purebred dog. That's her in the photo with snow on her nose. Holly was truly the instigator of it all. She moved in with us as an 8 week old pup, straight out of someone's backyard on an upstate NY January day in 1985. I didn't know better. All of my dogs had been mixes (mostly from much worse places) before Holly. I learned a lot since then. Holly had poor conformation and a host of health problems, but I wouldn't have given up sharing 14 1/2 years of my life with Holly for the world. So we live and learn.

Holly got me interested in purebred dogs and dog shows. We were living in Fairbanks, Alaska and were "on leave" to NY the winter I got Holly. I didn't know anyone, had no place to go, worked at home and shared one car, so I trained Holly myself and we had a lot of fun taking daily drives. Back in Alaska I decided to take a training class as something fun to do with my pal and we were encouraged to enter AKC obedience competition. Holly was a real star and got me involved in dog shows, which lead to my interest in conformation and showing in the breed ring. I was bitten by the Labrador Love Bug.

Then came Leela - and her story will begin in my next post.

As for today - Obi was responding very well to Metacam and truly enjoying himself last week. I bought a big bottle on Monday ($100) with hopes he would live long enough and well enough to use it all. On Tuesday he got the runs. Wednesday he didn't want to eat. Today, on a diet of ground deer and pasta he is hungry as a Lab should be, but we skipped a dose of Metacam to ease his guts. Nothing is ever easy... I cherish each day, each smile he gives me, each cuddle, the smell of his feet, his beautiful gaze and every nunu we can share.

If you read this - thanks for joining me. Say a prayer for Obi's peace and hug your dogs with thankful hearts.

Amy - OtterTail