Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dinner with Karmanos Friends

Finally a blog entry without the word "puppy" in it. (Oops! Oh well!)

Pictured above from left to right: Gil, me, Bonnie Opper, Mark Cornell and Kim Cornell.

(Missing is Steve Opper who spends way too much time out-of-town on business related matters. We missed you, Steve!)

Once again we met our friends from Karmanos Cancer Center for our monthly dinner get-together socializing and comparing the progress from the stem cell transplants last fall. It's almost been a full year (October) and all three of the recipients (Gil, Bonnie and Mark) have been remarkably lucky to have come through it all with hearty appetites, a sense of humor and a heartfelt appreciation for life-lived-to-its-fullest.

Mark was telling us that he is almost ready to get his "baby vaccinations" and Gil and Bonnie will be close behind. Immunizations against all those childhood diseases are important for this newly transplanted group but it doesn't happen until you are one year out from the transplant.

Marika has been doing something she really loves these past couple of weeks. No, it's not studying for the MCAT! She's been riding horses at a favorite barn (Fox Meadow) in Toledo and coming home each afternoon sore and tired and thrilled.

She rides with one of her dearest friends, Lindey, and the two of them are so much fun to be around when they are together and relating tales about riding or movies or friends.

She's also been doing Pilates at our local studio and finding it is a great way to get back in good physical shape before schools starts again the end of September. (Remember the University of California schools are on the quarter system. They start and end later than most schools across the nation.)

Our boys are staying sleep-deprived during their clinical rotations. Evan is doing trauma surgery and Adam is doing pediatrics. I don't hear from them nearly enough but I do remember so well when I was active in hospital nursing the tired and beleaguered faces of the medical students as they made rounds in the mornings and signed their patients out in the evening to the next shift of medical students.

Michigan is having a most wonderful end of summer climate. Cool nights. Sunny warm days. I think global warming may make Michigan the next "preferred spot" to relocate to if you're wanting to escape the heat in the West, South, East and Northeast. Try the Great Lakes region.

We're loving it here!

Dog-day afternoons
Filled with yelps and nips and barks
What could be better?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three Months Old and Already a Little Rebel

Welcome to my world! Raising a puppy has required the utmost in patience, compassion and energy level. Marika and I share the brunt of the "pup raising" responsibilities. Gil gets to enjoy Willow when she is at her best -- recently fed, walked and played with -- so that she is fairly settled and ready to be loved. He is quite taken with her, as we all are.

Jamie has been an admirable companion to Willow. Jamie has taught her to sit, lie down, chase a frisbee and walk comfortably on a leash.

Fitting in all the rest of life when you're training a new puppy is a challenge. My to-do list doesn't have too many check marks because what I've scheduled to get done today usually has to wait for tomorrow's list.

Marika is winding up her short summer vacation with us. She's only got three more weeks here in Michigan and is visiting friends, riding horses, spending quality time with the parents and being very, very helpful with Willow. Marika "gets up" for the 6 am "let the puppy out to use the bathroom" duty and then somehow encourages Willow to go back to sleep for a few more hours.

This blog entry is short. Willow is sleeping and it means I can head off to my Pilates session knowing she will wait in the crate for me until I get back.

So without further ado. I'm off to my workout!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Willow Makes Herself at Home

Hello everyone. Meet Willow. The newest addition to the Raff family. New friend and companion to Jamie. She's our long-awaited Border Collie puppy and we brought her home from Traverse City on Monday afternoon.

Since then, it's been 24/7 puppy-mania. It is taking "a village" to give this puppy what she needs and wants. Gil and Marika and I are the caregivers. I insisted that we all watch the Cesar Millan DVD titled "Raising the Perfect Puppy" before bringing her home and so far, I think we're doing everything "right."

Which is to say, we haven't created an anxious, neurotic dog yet. We are loving but firm. We reward good behavior and redirect unwanted behavior. We use lots of rawhide chew sticks to redirect behavior.

Jamie has welcomed Willow into the family with "open paws." They play together, sleep together and eat together. The puppy hasn't learned to respect Jamie's boundaries yet but Jamie has shown herself to be remarkably patient and understanding.

We struggled for weeks trying to find the right name for Willow. Those of you who have ever had to name a pet or a baby know how important choosing the right name can be. We made lists of favorite names, showed them to one another, the names got vetoed and at one point, each of us was afraid to even mention a "favorite puppy name" we had found, knowing that one of us would nix it and it would be relegated to the cutting-room floor.

Amazingly, when we had finally worn each other down to a frazzle, Marika was thumbing through a furniture catalog and cautiously suggested, "What about Willow?"

Gil and I looked at each other and without pausing said, "Yes. That's it! Willow!"

Willow comes to stay
Made herself at home Day One
Now the fun begins.