Monday, October 22, 2007

Do Boomer Women Have it All Together?

I think the majority of us Baby Boomer Women maintain a positive outlook to help support a strong sense of self. To others, that may seem like we have it all together. Maybe we do. I think we've become stronger women as we've moved into our boomer years.

For me, keeping a positive attitude works as well. Being negative isn't an option for me. What I've found I've learned through the years is that I have to make time for myself. No one else is going to do it for me.

If I don't go for a walk, no one else is going to tap me on the shoulder and say, "Dear, you really must go take a walk." Well, my dog will remind me that we have to go for a walk, but he's not consciously looking out for me.

Women, in general, have a really hard time putting their needs first. We've had it ingrained in us for so long that we are caretakers and must take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves.

I think the notion of "having it together" goes along with taking care of ourselves. If we do that, most other issues in our lives have a tendency to fall into place. We're better equipped mentally, physically, and emotionally to handle any bumps that come along our way.

I know that when I feel good about myself and my life, then I tend to think more positive, and when thinking positive, I don't let temporary setbacks get me down. I can overcome self doubt.

When I take care of myself, then I'm better able to take care of others. And that shows in how others perceive us. As boomers, I think we're more secure in how we project ourselves. We're not pretending to be someone we're not.

While growing up, we're our parent's child. A girlfriend, sister, or aunt. Then we're a wife and we try to be the woman our husband wants. We are an employee in a working environment. We become what our bosses ask for, to fulfill our job requirements. When we become mothers, we give ourselves over to being the perfect mom for our children. We try to be all these different personalities, all the while eventually learning who we really are.

We face the reality of who we are to ourselves, seeing our inner self, maybe for the first time. Learning how to take care of ourselves first, gives us the confidence to be the great women we are.

Baby Boomer Women.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Love Dogs, and this Story Melts Your Heart

My friend's daughter has a chocolate lab that has a unique mission in life. Here is her dog's story.

The Dog With Two Last Names

Written by Star Johnson

The hot dog, clutched in the hand of a small boy, hovered mere inches from the nose of an 80-pound Chocolate English Lab. In the ordinary world, the hot dog would be history. But when the boy in question is a 2007 Wags-for-Wishes Make-A-Wish child and the Lab is Barker the Therapy Dog, the hot dog is completely safe.

Barker's mom, Sherry Buchbinder, is justifiably proud of her six-year-old Lab's amazing self-discipline. After all, that self-discipline earned Barker the therapy dog equivalent of a Doggie Doctorate in just one year. "Barker is my first Therapy Dog," says Sherry about their success, "I had no idea what to do. It's just him."

But how does such a young Lab (a breed infamous for lengthy puppyhoods) become so responsible so quickly?

Barker's life didn't start out smoothly. "Products" of an unsavory puppymill, Barker and his sister had little defense against the filthy surroundings and complete lack of care. By the time they were rescued by Animal Control Officers, the 10-week-old puppies were deathly ill. Rushed to a veterinary clinic where Sherry's sister-in-law Kim worked, the pups were grimly diagnosed with advanced Parvo. It was hoped the little female would pull through (she did). Barker, however, was not expected to survive.

Resisting the recommendation to "put him down," Kim crusaded to keep the little male alive. Her determination paid off. With a healthy four-month-old puppy in her arms, Kim called Sherry and said, "I've got your dog!" Sherry wasn't looking for a puppy -- she had two dogs of her own, plus two others from a sister staying with her. But Kim insisted the puppy was meant to be hers. And, indeed, it was love at first sight.

Which brings us to how Barker got his name. "I know something about barking!" says one of Barker's fans, a woman owned by a Sheltie (a breed infamous for their barking), "But I've never heard Barker bark." Come to find out Barker isn't named after a behavior, he's named after a person -- Sherry's hero, dear friend and adopted dad, Lynn Barker. "I had fallen in love with the puppy, but was hesitant about bringing him into a home with four other dogs" explains Sherry. "Lynn, who lives right next door, used to raise chocolate labs. He had recently lost his beloved friend Sammi a14-year-old cockapoo. I knew he'd love the puppy, so I asked if he wanted to keep him. It was okay because I knew I'd get to play with him every day." But Lynn did something unexpected, muses Sherry. "He said 'No, he's your dog'." Named in Lynn's honor, Barker Buchbinder is the dog with two last names!

For the first two years of life with Sherry, her husband Rhein, and the other four dogs, Barker was a typical Lab puppy – bouncing around and into everything. That began to change when Sherry underwent knee surgery. "Coming home from the hospital, I worried that Barker was going to bounce around like his usual self and come down on my knee," recalls Sherry. Instead, Barker sat quietly by Sherry's side. "I couldn't believe it," she says. "He just did it on his own."

When Barker turned three, two events occurred that showcased Barker's true potential. First, Sherry underwent two more knee surgeries. And second, Dozer, the family's alpha dog, died. "Barker just stepped up to the plate." Sherry explains. "I was in a wheelchair at first and, eventually, I needed a cane. It was difficult for me to get around. So Barker would get the newspaper and bring in the mail for me." Barker also brought Sherry her various medications. "I painted the bottle caps different colors, so Barker could get the one I needed." Barker became Sherry's indispensable Service Dog.

Barker was five years old when Sherry signed him up for his AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification test. He passed with flying colors. "When the testers, who were from the Hidden Valley Obedience Club, saw how well Barker and I worked together, they kept saying 'We can't believe he's not a therapy dog'," says Sherry. "I didn't know anything about Therapy Dogs, so I asked them a ton of questions. They were so enthusiastic that they inspired me to do what we do."For work, Barker is showered, his teeth are brushed ("That's when he knows we're going to work!"), and his paws are disinfected with gel both at home and again just prior to going into the job site. Barker doesn't mind the several-weekly baths – he thoroughly despises being dirty. "We call him our white collar dog" says dad, Rhein. Returning home from an outing in the great out-of-doors, Barker ran to the shower and jumped in. "It was like he was saying 'Get it off! Get the dirt off!'" Sherry laughs.

Therapy work can be exhausting, for both dog and handler. Sherry and Barker were asked to visit a young ICU patient who had bonded with Barker during earlier visits. "We didn't know it," says Sherry quietly, "but they were going to pull her plug while Barker and I were there. I was totally unprepared. It was really hard for both of us." Barker is a volunteer at Kaiser Permanente hospital in Riverside, California and visit's patients at other area hospital's. He also visits convalescent facilities, senior apartment complexes and works with the Make A Wish Foundation. "If Barker works two days in a row, he just crashes the third day. But if a few days go by and he hasn't gone to work, he'll nudge his vest, make little vocalizations, and stare at me with those big brown eyes."

Training to be a Therapy Dog encompasses lots of touching (paws, ears, tails, etc.), and obedience behaviors (long sit stays, comes, etc.). Dogs are observed in the car, in a variety of public venues (stores, malls, hospitals, etc.), and are subjected to many loud distractions (falling metal chairs, crash carts, confrontations, etc.). Trainers are looking for anything that might cause a dog to react inappropriately.

Like a waved-in-your-face hot dog, for example. Or the time a little girl used Barker's wagging tail as a jump rope. Or the time a small child gripped onto Barker's, ahem, nether-regions. "Training can't possibly prepare you for everything," Sherry admits. "But Barker just takes everything in stride."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lucky Streak

I think I'm on a lucky streak. I've won a couple of contests and I'm hoping my luck holds out and I win some more. No, I'm not greedy. Just hopeful.

And excited. It's fun to win contests. The randomness of the selection intrigues me.

For instance, the Bird Talk Parrot Romance Novel Giveaway. We entered via e-mail. I don't know how they made their selection randomly, but in whatever way they processed the e-mails, my name came up.


I was one of eight winners of the Bird Talk Parrot Romance Novel Giveaway on I'll receive a romance novel with a parrot as one of the characters. I can't wait to see which novel I get. I'll let you know when I receive it.

The second contest wasn't so random. I had to submit a caption for a picture. But, the winning caption is selective. It's based on the site owner's sense of humor. What might be funny to me, might not have been funny to her.

But, it was.

I won first place in the YOU NAME IT! contest hosted by Queen Jaw Jaw. There was a choice of three pictures. The entry was a caption for one of the pictures. You can see the pictures and my caption at Queen Jaw Jaw's site.

Now, if only my luck holds out a little longer I'm entered in a few more contests. I'd love an all expense paid trip to Hawaii. That diamond ring looked pretty nice too.

And, that ten million dollars that Publishers Clearinghouse is giving away ain't too shabby either.

Wish me luck!