Sunday, January 29, 2012


On Saturday, I took Cheyenne and Dixie to the dog park in southwest Houston.  It's a bit of a drive but the park is enormous with trails and trees, lots of room to run off leash, and a big pool for swimming and retrieving.  After the rains Houston had last week, there were also plenty of puddles here and there.  Have I ever told you that Cheyenne likes puddles?  Oh yes, she does.  The muddier the better.  A Water Buffalo, that one is.


For Dixie, all that space translates into one thing:  RUN.  That's all she does. She ran there, and then over there, then across there and back through there and then she'd stop for a moment and look for where I was. When she found me, she'd run to me for a nose rub, and then she'd take off again.


There are actually two dog parks. The other park, smaller but still sizeable, is for little dogs, 20 pounds and under.  There are signs at the entrances of both parks, Large Dogs Only, and Small Dogs Only.  But sometimes, those with little dogs opt for the large dog park.  It doesn't raise as many eyebrows as I'm sure it would if someone were to bring their 80 plus pound dog in the small dog park, but I always sort of cringe nonetheless. There are big dogs in the big dog park. In addition to all the Labradors and Pointers there are German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Boxers, American Bulldogs, Akitas and Mastiffs. I wouldn't dare bring a small breed dog into the park designated for big dogs. What happened yesterday is exactly why.

A man and his small Beagle walked into the park as Cheyenne, Dixie and I did. I thought then, hmmm, that dog is small and Beagles are barkers. I hope he doesn't go after a big dog. And then I didn't think about it again. 

Because of Cheyenne's recent surgery, I wanted to keep her away from the pool and the temptations to run and jump, so we instead walked the winding path through and around the area. A lot of people do this, they get their exercise and their dogs get to roam around here and there while still being in site. 

I heard the barking first. Then I heard a loud aggressive growl. Then I stopped in my tracks. Ahead of me I saw the beagle. The focus of his barking, and source of that aggressive growl was an enormous American Bulldog. The Bulldog lurched for the Beagle, got it in its mouth by his back and lifted that little dog straight into the air. The beagle was yelping and the Bulldog's owner and Beagle's owner were trying to separate them. They did so almost immediately. While the Beagle's owner was checking him and the Bulldog's owner was apologizing profusely, a crowd began to gather.  I stepped closer and saw the bloody drool from the Bulldog's mouth.   

I wonder what you would have done at this point.  Me? I would have immediately put my dog in my arms and carried him to my car and driven him to the vet.  But for some reason, even though his dog was injured, the Beagle's owner did not do that.  Instead he and the others who had gathered around him began verbally attacking the Bulldog's owner.Why isn't your dog on a leash?  You've trained him to be a killer! Who the hell needs a dog that big? The Bulldog's owner kept apologizing, saying, he's never done anything like that before, I'm so sorry. Those words were not heard, or they were ignored.  A woman was yelling at him, the Beagle's owner was yelling at him. The man did not raise his voice, just kept apologizing.

Cheyenne and I walked past them, leaving a wide berth between us and the scene.  I sat on a bench at a distance and watched the commotion going on, still wondering why the Beagle's owner was not seeking treatment for his dog.  The Beagle was standing and obviously frightened and it seemed to me uncomfortable but I could not see any bleeding. Still, I wouldn't take any chances if the dog were mine.

Cheyenne and I got on our way again but I couldn't shake what I had seen. Why did the Beagle owner take his dog to the big dog park? And when he did, did he not consider the risks? Why didn't he grab his dog when it started barking at the Bulldog?

Later, when Dixie was sufficiently run down and Cheyenne had sniffed her fill, we headed to the car. At the gate were the Beagle owner and two other people, seemingly waiting for something. When the police arrived, they approached the car. I shook my head at it all, mainly because the Beagle still had not been taken to the vet, so how concerned was this guy really?  I put the dogs in the car and then watched the police approach the Bulldog owner who was sitting on a bench inside the park.  Another crowd gathered. One policeman walked away with the Beagle owner and, it seemed to me, asked him to stay there, while they spoke with the Bulldog owner. 

I do not know how it all turned out because I couldn't stay anymore and watch.  But I do know this:  If you have a small dog, don't bring him or her to the large dog park if there is a small one available to you, especially if you have an aggressive small dog.  The entire episode was completely avoidable.

I wonder if that Beagle was ever taken to the vet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I have a small scar on my chin, courtesy of a German Shepherd who was not at all interested in receiving my enthusiastic pats. I was four then. The bite I received is long gone from my memory, though I do remember the dog and that it was in the morning and in our driveway.

I also have a scar in my heart.  It belongs to my mother. She left this life four years ago.  I googled her name the other day which is crazy but I was curious what I would find.  I found her obituary and several links to this site. I clicked on her obituary and when I read it, I smiled.  The woman I read about was awesome.  I am so proud of her, so thankful for her. Still. Always.

ELIZABETH OXHOLM GROTH passed away peacefully on the evening of January 27, 2008, her son and daughter by her side.

Born in 1925 in Staten Island, New York, Elizabeth (Betty) lived a long and exciting life, actively involved in sports, the arts and travel. In high school and in her college years, she excelled in Field Hockey, Basketball and Tennis. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in Economics, and never let her children forget that while they took four and five years to earn their degrees, it only took her three.

When she married Edward Groth, Jr., he took her from her beloved New York City to the city of Houston where he correctly envisioned a successful future in the oil and gas business on the Gulf Coast. She agreed to go on the condition that they return to New York at least once a year, a trip that would include dinner at Sardi's, and at least one Broadway Show, and a trip they made annually until his death.

As he formed Groth Corporation, she worked by his side, her initial desk being a door placed atop two sawhorses. There was no money for a chair at that time. Through the years, as they grew the business, Edward often referred to Betty as the greatest business asset he could have married.

Following her mother's footsteps, Betty moved on from Groth Corporation and chose a career in Residential Realty. She worked for over 20 years with John Daugherty Realtors, many of those years as one of Houston's top Realtors.

Betty pursued her love of the Arts through a lifetime membership in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and she pursued volunteer work through her membership of the Junior League of Houston, Inc. She also played tennis at least twice a week at the Houston Racquet Club.

Betty had a unique intellectual wit and strength. She was a true individual who could hold her own in any situation, never hesitated to give her opinion and rarely lost a debate. She loved Classical and Big Band Music. And she enjoyed her weekly Wednesday night Prime Rib dinners at the Houston Racquet Club with Edward, relishing the first notes of New York, New York, the piano player would play when she entered the room.

At a time when many her age would choose to retire, she and Edward instead chose to adopt two of their Grandchildren, giving them a stable home and opportunity. More than one eyebrow was raised when she would nonchalantly say she had five children, the oldest in his late 40s and the youngest six years old. Such was the heart and sense of humor of Betty Groth.

She is preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Edward Groth, Jr., her mother, Dorothy VanDeventer, and father, "Pappy." She is survived by her brothers Phil VanDeventer and Carl Oxholm; by her son Carl and his wife Kathy, her daughter Marianne, her daughter Alison, her daughter Catherine, her son Edward, and her Granddaughter, Alexandra.

The family would like to thank the many caregivers who aided her in the last year and days of Betty's life, in particular, Eniola, Shirley, and Dorothy from Innovative Nursing, and Veronica from Odyssey Hospice. Their skill, kindness and compassion will forever be appreciated.

A Memorial Service will be conducted at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road, in the old church, at two o'clock in the afternoon on Thursday the 31st of January 2008 with the Rev. Dr. John K. Graham officiating. Immediately following the service there will be a Reception in the Founders Hall.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation to DePelchin Children's Center, Museum of Fine Arts, or a charity of individual choice.

Published in the Houston Chronicle on 1/29/2008.

I miss my mother, so very much. I miss her still. I'll miss her always.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What a difference a breath makes

This photo was taken in 2002 when Cheyenne was two years old.  It hangs on a wall in my bedroom.  The sitting was a birthday gift from a friend, and at the beginning of the shoot, Cheyenne circled me one time and then plopped down beside me and placed her leg over mine.  The photographer was thrilled, saying, keep her just like that, just like that, as he snapped awayI didn't have to. My hand is on her but not firmly.  I think this picture captures well the comfort and closeness I've had with Cheyenne.


And nine years later, this is her last night.  She's 11.


I post these two photos because after Cheyenne's surgery, she's acting more like her younger self than how she's been over the past several years.  I had attributed much of her slowing down to her increasing age.  I was so wrong.  Her slowed pace and lessened enthusiasm were due to her breathing issues.  Seems obvious now.  She is such an enthusiastic dog again, at my side whenever I go upstairs, walking at a steady clip when we go on our morning and evening walks, and she's even playing with her toys again.  Her tail? In constant wag again.  In fact, she's so energetic that I have to remember that she's still in recovery, which means that now I am constantly trying to slow her down.

She and Dixie are getting along. They played a rowdy game of tug-of-war with a stuffed toy this morning, the first time they've really played together.  There are a few scrapes, mainly over sticks that Dixie drags into the house and Cheyenne shows interest in, but we're working through those.


So, yeah, the dog-related issues in my life have greatly improved.  A bit of training and a bit of surgery were just the ticket.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


On Saturday, I got to pick up Cheyenne and bring her home, where she should be.  Before I could take her home though I met with two veterinarians who were involved in her case.  They gave me a long list of instructions, things to look out for, things to expect, and things that should make me concerned.  Just standard, post-op stuff, nothing alarming but, in particular, watching her incision for any infection, helping her eat slowly and keeping her quiet for the next two weeks. That first one is easy.

She has a 4-inch incision in the shape of a large "C" on the side of her neck.  The stitches are in four layers from her skin to her throat, including her muscle. 


She's breathing like she used to breath a year ago. It's so nice to hear, or not hear is more like it.


Although she's quite mobile, I brought her big bed from upstairs to the living room and brough her upstairs water bowl down as well.  I also brought Dixie to a friend's house, where she'll stay for a couple days so that Cheyenne can have plenty of quiet time.



Today is Sunday and I'm happy to say that she had a great night last night, came upstairs with me, slept half the night on my bed and the other half on her bed, which I had dragged back upstairs. She's been resting quietly all day, inside and also outside on the front porch. She's eating well and breathing normally.  It's made for a quiet and very happy weekend.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Surgery update

Cheyenne's surgeon called yesterday afternoon to report that my girl came through her surgery like a champ.  The Laryngeal Paralysis was definitely an issue and she needed to have the tie-back surgery but it was not as advanced as we thought, which is really good news.  It turns out that she also had a large fatty lump in her throat and that was hindering her breathing as well. That lump has been removed. 

I spoke with the clinic several times yesterday and they updated me on her progress.  Last night when I called, the assistant told me she was standing right in front of her kennel and that Cheyenne was sound asleep.  I'm so glad she was able to rest.

Dixie has been looking for Cheyenne constantly.  She walks through the house upstairs and down, through the kitchen, the bathrooms and stops to look out the back door.  Then she goes out the front door and looks all over the front yard.  Bless her. 

I get to pick up Cheyenne some time tomorrow. It's like Christmas Eve all over again, I'm that excited!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

About a girl

My Cheyenne has a little problem. Actually, it's a big problem but she and I have adjusted to it over the past year. I took her to the vet and we kept our eyes on it but recently her problem has gotten worse. In a nutshell, she's struggling to get a good breath of air.  In medical terms, it's called Laryngeal Paralysis.  For Cheyenne, its onset stayed stagnant for a while. Just a bit of heavy breathing when she was excited or nervous.

But, Laryngeal Paralysis is a problem that will eventuall progress.  Cheyenne's breathing worsened around Thanksgiving. 

I can tell you that Laryngeal Paralysis is scary, very scary. After diagnosis, the options are treatment, which in Cheyenne's case has run its course, and surgery. There are risks with corrective surgery but there are definite conclusions to forgoing surgery. Surgery is a life-extending solution. 

If you were here, I could show you with my hands what the issue is and what the correction is.  It's difficult to do so in words, but I'll try.  Imagine French doors that must open to breathe and close to eat.  The hinges (nerves) on her French doors are a bit rusty and not working very well.   In fact, her doors rattle back and forth, out of her control.  She can't get a good breath, nor can she get food to go down the proper tube.  These are things that we normally do without considering.  There's been a lot of choking and vomiting during meals the past several weeks.  Surgery takes one of those doors and sews it to the wall of her throat so that the door is always open, leaving a constant area for breath to enter into her lungs.  The other door can flap open and shut but no longer will her ability to breathe be based on a tiny slit of an opening. The drawback is that with a fixed opening, there is a risk of food bits or water going into her lungs. To address this, her diet will change to soft food and, sadly, swimming will no longer be an activity for her.  (Though, her wading pool most certainly will be.)  I can live with these changes.  So too can Cheyenne.

I've chosen surgery for Cheyenne. That surgery is tomorrow morning.  Please, would you keep her in your thoughts and maybe a prayer? 


Monday, January 02, 2012

On resolutions for 2012

Day two of the new year and my resolution for the year has landed in my lap, handed to me by circumstance.

Today, I recognized what was knocking on my door, asking me to answer.

This year's resolution is one of doing for others. Each day of 2012, I resolve to do something for someone. That simple. Large or small gesture, small or large effort. A favor, an exercise, a hand, a connection.

It began yesterday when I found a ring on my morning walk and then found the people it belonged to. I realized how the link between lost and found was my discovery and connection. 

This morning, I read a question on Twitter from a favorite photographer of mine. For Christmas, she received a Hasseblad camera and she was looking for a lab in Houston that processed the medium format 120 film. She was having no luck. After a couple emails with her, and a phone call to the photography store I frequent, I introduced her to a lab that would meet her needs. 

She emailed me:  WHOA! You're awesome, thank you! I'm totally going to take my roll of film there today. I'm so happy.

It didn't take much effort at all on my part. I've lived in Houston longer than she has and I knew who to call to find the answer, that's all. Just the time to make a phone call and relay the information to her. And, again, I felt that I was an element in the solution, just a small link to a bit of happiness. I liked that.

So in 2012, I'm on the lookout for opportunities to help. I'm opening up my mind and heart to being there, to being an answer.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A good start

Good morning, and happy new year to you! 

So far, 2012 has been a good year.  It definitely started out nicely.  Dixie, Cheyenne and I set out early this morning for a walk through the quiet streets of the neighborhood.  Because Dixie kept trying to untie my shoes as I was lacing them up before we left the house, I had to stop after a while to lace one up again. When I kneeled down, something in the dirt near the sidewalk caught my eye.  It was a ring. A gold ring, with several sizable emeralds and diamonds. I picked it up and wondered how I would find its owner.  It was near my neighbor's front gate that I found the ring, but the gate was locked. I put it in my pocket and we walked on.

When we circled back and passed the back side of that neighbor's house, I noticed that his garage door was open so I called out hello? He walked out and I held up the ring and asked if he knew who it belonged to. I wish I could show you the smile on his face.  He excitedly called out for his wife and when she came out of the house he told her that I had found the ring. I wish I could show you the smile on her face as well. They had a dinner party over the holidays and the ring belongs to a guest of theirs who lost it when she took off her gloves. Trouble was, she thought she removed her gloves at the front door. Turned out, she did so at the front gate. 

It's a nice start to a new year, finding something that someone lost and being able to return it to them.