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Doggone It!

I couldn’t resist using the above title for today’s post.

I know a lot of you are waiting for puppy/dog news, but I think it’s going to be a very long wait.

Train Tracks:  Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

People who have dogs with recent Newfie litters,

And even people who are expecting litters in the next few weeks,

Already have their puppies spoken for.

That’s not to say something couldn’t (unexpectedly) change, but I don’t have any expectation of finding a dog quickly.

The people I’m talking to, for the most part, are people who will have pups available in 2015.

Yes, it DOES seem like a long way away.

Especially when I thought I’d be training my future service dog by now.

That is, however, the reality.

I did talk to one breeder with three young Newfie dogs.

She was willing to sell me one of them, but I had a serious health concern about the dog she offered.

I declined.

I’m fortunate because I have some very kind people in the Newfie world helping in my search.

They are putting the word out to their Newfie contacts.

Kind woman in need of a working service dog.  Woman was treated like shit by a previous breeder.  Dog will be treated like Dog Royalty.  Dog will be photographed extensively and will most likely become quite famous.”


At first, after Puppy Heartbreak, I was concerned, because some breeders only want to talk to “show people.”

After a very painful experience with a breeder I perceived to be more concerned about titles than humans,

I’m in no rush to “go there” again.

Now I’m finding, there are many people who value a dog’s contribution to society via service and/or therapy work more than they value show ribbons.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with show ribbons but in the end – they really are meaningless.

They contribute nothing … except stud fees to the pockets of a small percentage of breeders.

You can buy a show dog, you can pay the best trainer, you can pay the best handler, you can pay to be in a zillion shows ….

But in the end, as fun as that might be for YOU, all you’ve got is a ribbon.

It might be fun, it might get your competitive juices flowing, it might be a fulfilling hobby.

I’m sure it is great for a breeder’s ego.

There’s nothing WRONG with it if the dog enjoys it and, most importantly, if he/she is loved and well cared for.

(Did you know some people give the dogs away when they’re no longer good show material due to age and/or health issues?)

Does showing a dog make our world any better?

Does it help society or another human being?

Show breeders might not agree, but helping a person with some type of challenge is not meaningless.

I know, as a partially disabled person, I’m biased.

But, the breeders who care about helping other humans more than they care about ribbons are “my” type of people.

Fortunately, I’ve begun meeting like-minded people who would be honored to have one of “their” dogs contribute in such a positve way as a service dog.

I talked to one breeder this week who DOES (successfully) show her dogs.

She told me “often times a show home is not necessarily the best home.”

She is, genuinely, concerned for the best interest of the dogs.

I knew as I talked to her, she cares much more about her dogs finding loving homes than she does about shows, ribbons, or herself/her own ego.

She doesn’t have a litter at the moment, but she is definitely the type of person I’d be proud to get a dog from.


She’s been very supportive – actively searching and helping look for My Future Service Dog.

I really think, once I get my dog trained, I’d love to get him certified as a “therapy dog.”

I’ve always had a soft spot for elderly people.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to take a big, gentle, loving, Newfie into retirement homes?

I can’t imagine the joy it would bring.

It seems like such an easy, rewarding, way to give back – since so many people have helped me in my post-accident journey.

It isn’t easy starting over with the search for a service dog.

It may take months.

It may take a year.

But, at least, I feel like I’m on the right track.

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I have almost this entire week free.

A “free” week NEVER happens … but I had cleared my calendar thinking I would have a brand new puppy this week.

I wanted an open schedule so I could bond with him, etc.

Life is full of funny (and not so funny) twists.

Laguna Beach:  Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

•  On a positive note, I’ve met some REALLY nice people since having my Bad Breeder experience.  It’s a good thing too, because I  had given up  was about to give up on the human race.

•  Every day I’m contacting a few breeders from the list the NCA gave me of accredited breeders.  I started with those I’ve gotten personal references on … and so far they’ve been great people.

•  I got a flu shot yesterday.  I usually do that around October 1st so I’m a little late.  (We always get flu shots because we have sickness-induced asthma issues in our family.)

•  Do you get a flu shot?  I know a lot of people don’t believe in them for various reasons, but they seem to always keep us flu free.  Fingers crossed!

•  Some of you have asked ….  My sister has improved a lot.  She’s doing much better, but I think she has a long road ahead of her.  Yes, she was wearing a helmet when she had her bicycle accident.  The helmet cracked in half on impact.  In addition to a fractured skull and brain injury, she had numerous injuries/broken bones/etc.  My parents are with her for an extended stay right now.

•  My iPhone (I think it’s an iPhone 4??) is broken.  The touchscreen only works when it feels like it.  For instance, the other day my daughter called me and I kept touching the screen to answer the call.  The phone would not respond.  This went on for quite some time.  I eventually found a land line to call her back on.  (Remember land lines?)  Other times the touch screen works fine.  Also?  It will only connect to wifi once in awhile depending on its mood.

•  Yes, I *am* eligible for a phone upgrade so I ordered the bigger-than-my-head iPhone 6 plus.  I had trouble deciding which of the new iPhones to get.  I went into an Apple store.  The iPhone 6 plus does fit in my small handbag.  It also has a better camera and longer lasting battery … so I chose it.  I mainly use my phone to look at photos anyway – and bigger is always better in the photography world.  I ordered it with 128GB so I can consolidate everything onto my phone.  Yes, even all the music from my very old, and also broken and unusable (but filled to capacity) 64GB iPod.  Unfortunately, Apple tells me my new phone won’t arrive until the end of November.  That means I have to try to coax another five weeks or so out of my broken phone.  Fun times??

•  Yesterday, the Internet went crazy insulting Renee Zellweger for having a face/eye lift done.  Yes, the very same Internet that constantly condemns cyberbulling.  Of course, people would also insult her if she  looked old and/or aging.  I can’t imagine the pressure in the celebrity world ….!   (It’s bad enough just living in Orange County!)

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The Pet Adoption Process

Did you know how difficult it has become to adopt/purchase/rescue a dog?

I had a friend go through the process awhile back.

He joked about it taking nine months, the “interrogation process” he endured, endless paperwork, etc.

He said it was harder than adopting a child.

Of course, he was joking – and I laughed right along with him.

But, really …

It’s become quite a drawn-out ordeal.

I realize there are Bad People who were scooping up available dogs to use as dog fighting “bait.”

(The very idea makes me ill!)

And there are always lots of people who think they want dogs/puppies until they realize what an expense and inconvenience they are.

Then, sadly, many of those same people abandon their pets and/or don’t give them the care they need.

What I’m saying is I GET IT.

And yes, it’s better to have a lot of safeguards in place than to have an absence of them.

Still, it’s mind blowing to me how much things have changed in the last thirteen years since we acquired Mocha.

I spent yesterday (the entire day!) talking to people all over the country about Newfoundland dogs.

I even talked to a very nice woman at the Newfoundland Club of America.

(She was awesome!)

I filled out paperwork for rescue dogs.

•  Yes, I’d be willing to take a non-puppy dog.

•  Yes, I’d be willing to take care of a dog with some medical issues.

The rescue paperwork informed me I couldn’t be considered for a rescue dog unless I belonged to a local dog club for at least a year.

So I filled out paper to join the dog club … even though I currently don’t HAVE a dog.

Of course, the paperwork to join the dog club asked how long I’ve owned my dog.



I think the pendulum has maybe swung a little too far?

I’ve also learned almost all Newfies are “co-owned.”

I actually learned this with “my” (not-to-be) puppy.

Breeders keep their names on the paperwork as a co-owner so you don’t make a bad breeding choice with “their” dog.

(They don’t want you to randomly let your dog breed with a dog with bad hips/heart and pass bad genes on.)

They also do it in case the dog becomes world famous … they want to take some of the credit.

I understand this is usually done with good intentions.

But, I’ve also heard some really nasty stories about co-ownerships gone bad.

Co-ownership used to mainly be a contract for top show dogs, but (at least in the Newfie world) it pretty much applies to every dog now.

I actually wish future people-parents were screened as carefully as future dog owners are.

You can have as many babies as you want, but you have to go through a LOT of steps before you can have a dog.

It’s crazy out there in dog-adoption land!!

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The Weekend Without Pictures

I hope you had a good weekend.

I went to see Gone Girl.

It was really good.

I had read the book when it first came out.

I always worry movies will be disappointing compared to the books they originate from, but that was not the case with Gone Girl.

I also went to a “Newfie Picnic” put on by the Southern California Newfoundland Club in Long Beach.

I crashed their party in hopes of meeting “someone” who could put me in touch with “someone.”

OK, I didn’t completely crash.

I was invited by a woman I’ve met, but at the last minute she couldn’t go and I went anyway.

Honestly, Newfies must be the most difficult dogs to find … at least here in Southern California.

There just aren’t a lot of them.

I did, however, meet some nice people and nice Newfies at the event.

I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked, but I’m still glad I went.

(I was there long enough to get some Newfie hugs … which were very healing to my heart.)

I also met up with my daughter and her long-time boyfriend.

We went to a Carribean restaurant by the beach.

We sat outside, in perfect weather, and enjoyed catching up over a couple beers and jerk chicken enchiladas.

In other words, I didn’t have an earth-shattering weekend …

But, I had a very NICE weekend.

And now …?

Well, now it’s Monday!

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I’ve had a rough couple weeks.

My sister’s accident.

The puppy heartbreak.

A rattlesnake hissing at me in my own garage.

Terrible, painful, girl-parts tests.

(The test was AWFUL!)

I’m kind of down in the dumps.

More than the disappointment of having “my” future service-puppy taken away,

Is just a general sense of disillusionment with humanity.

I’ve been busy, but I’ve also been a hermit.

I’m still in a state of shock over how cruel the puppy breeder is/was.

I don’t like people very much right now.

People can be so awful to other people.

And, they often are.

I know I’ll get over it and life will return to “normal.”

But, right now I’ve kind of given up on humanity in general.

Maybe I just need to meet ONE person who isn’t totally focused on themselves and their own ego and selfishness.


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This and That

•  I closed comments on the post about my heartbreaking puppy experience.

Sometimes, when people know they’ve behaved badly, they try to save face by misleading others about what they’ve done and/or why they’ve done it.

Maybe they even convince themselves … who knows.

The puppy post was about to turn into a war of words between people who are choosing sides based on *things they’ve been told* vs. the actual facts.

If nothing else, I learned a few powerful lessons from my car accident.

Life is too short to fill it up with negativity and bullshit.

I want to move on from what has been a very bad, and heartbreaking, experience.

I do not want to rehash it over and over again.

In other news …

•  I have a very busy week running all over Orange County.

•  It’s the middle of October.  How the hell did that happen?

•  Have you bought Halloween candy?  I haven’t (yet).

•  I am STILL very freaked out about rattlesnakes.  If you want to freak yourself out too, you can watch a live rattlesnake birth here.  It is terrifying.  (Good Halloween material!)

•  The annual monarch butterfly migration should be starting any minute now.  I’ll try to capture some photos for you soon.

•  I have to have some terrible girl-parts stuff done to me today.  I’m dreading it.  If I don’t have a post up tomorrow you’ll know it’s because I didn’t feel up to writing yet.  On the other hand, if I have a goofy post up you’ll know I was on pain meds after the procedure and writing instead of sleeping.

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I had an unexpected houseguest yesterday.

I arrived home at the end of the day.

I was walking through my garage.

I was lost in thought.

I heard a hiss, and a rattle.

I looked up to see a female red diamond rattlesnake about three feet in front of me.

In my garage!

It was coiled, hissing, rattling its tail and posed to strike.

I backed up, opened the garage door, and went into the house.

I hoped the snake would leave and head out into the sunshine of the day.

It isn’t unheard of to come across snakes when you’re out hiking in the local canyons or mountains.

It is VERY UNUSUAL to find one in your garage.

I waited a few minutes, then cracked open the house door to see where the snake was.

SsssSnake © SHaggerty 2014 W-1

Red Diamond (female) Rattlesnake – phone snap

It had not left and it was headed in the wrong direction.

I’ve seen much bigger rattlesnakes, but I’ve never been in this type of snake dilemma before.

What to do?

I closed the door and waited, again.

Then … another peek.


Red Diamond Rattlesnake Tail – phone snap

Oh no!

The snake was winding itself around the five gallon water bottles.

I took the above photo, and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “RATTLESNAKE IN MY GARAGE!!”

In only minutes @rattlesnakeguy had contacted me from Phoenix, Arizona.

(I just LOVE the Internet!)

He’s the one who informed me the snake was a female and that she had recently given birth.

(Apparently, snake guys know this by looking at her tail and seeing the “fold” towards the end.)

I managed to flag down a neighbor.

He came and (very carefully) removed the snake and placed it in a brush area away from our houses.

Personally, I would have killed it and then burned the house down (twice), but I wasn’t willing to get close to it.

My new friend @rattlesnakeguy then proceeded to educate me about red diamond rattlesnakes.

They have “clutches” of 5 – 25 babies at a time.

They have their babies in the fall.

They stay with their babies for a couple weeks and then separate for the winter.

Many of their babies are eaten by predators.

(I love our road runners!)

@Rattlesnakeguy said to keep an eye out for her babies because they might be in the area.

I’m never going outside again.

I’m wearing sneakers even in the house.

In fact, I plan on wearing sneakers to bed every night.

Wouldn’t you?

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The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend

I have learned some heartbreaking, but powerful, lessons about dog breeders recently.

Over the last few days my Newfie dog breeder (Heartsease Newfoundlands on Vancouver Island, BC) has been talking to me about picking up *my* puppy.

I have been corresponding with Joan Casler/Heartsease Newfoundlands since last July … prior to the arrival of the litter.

I named my puppy-to-be Fred.

Joan Casler, owner of Heartsease Newfoundlands, helped me pick both Fred’s name and his registered name.  (Heartsease Yabba Dabba Do!)

We agreed on pricing.

We discussed the dog’s diet.

Joan Casler texted with me, most nights, giving me updates on Fred.

She sent me Fred photos to help me send out a “name announcement” for my new puppy.

I met with my vet Saturday morning to ask him some questions and get advice about giant breed dogs.

I was making travel arrangements to go get the dog.

Heartsease Newfoundlands sent me the contract to sign midday on Saturday.

I told Joan Casler it looked good but I had a couple questions.

She told me to call her.

Once we were on the phone Joan told me people had been coming to look at the puppies all day long.

She answered my contract questions and I felt good about her answers.

We cut the conversation short when she was interrupted by yet another person stopping by.

And then ….?

I got a Facebook direct message from Joan Casler (Heartsease Newfoundlands) informing me to find a different breeder.

Snap – just like THAT.

I could print out all the text messages here for you to see how abrupt and inexplicable her change of heart was, but there’s really no point.

I’ve been told I could even sue Heartsease Newfoundlands for breach of contract.

(Although I hadn’t yet signed the contract she emailed me Saturday, I’ve been told our string of detailed written communication legally “counts” as a contract.)

Of course, I won’t sue because legal costs would be higher than the cost of the dog.

We hear from breeders, all too often, about people they trusted neglecting and/or abusing animals.

What we don’t hear, apparently, is how BADLY some breeders treat the families they deal with.

I may never know, but speculating – I would guess she sold “our” dog to a friend and/or higher bidder.

Did Joan Casler care that I was left sobbing for the rest of the weekend?

Did Heartsease Newfoundlands, for even a moment, think about the fact I’d have to tell my kids she backed out of our agreement?

Or that those same kids would be crushed?

Did she think about what it would feel like to face my son and tell him “his” long-awaited puppy would not be coming home after all?

My son who has been SO EXCITED for months?

Joan Casler doesn’t appear to care, in the least, about the wake of damage she created.

The lack of ethics is appalling.

It seems like, in the dog world, a lot of breeders give lip service to caring about the dogs and/or breed.

But really, they are all about themselves and their own egos.

Some of them are motivated by money.

We hear those terrible stories frequently … backyard breeders and puppy mills.

Other breeders have illusions of grandeur … thinking they are the greatest breeder to ever mate two dogs.

(They can be very quick to take credit for one great dog, and even quicker to claim a defective/malformed litter was not their fault.)

I try to tell myself it was better to find out what type of person Heartsease Newfoundlands is owned by NOW instead of after paying, in full, for the dog.

But, I’m heartbroken.

My kids are heartbroken.

At Joan Casler’s insistence,

I spent time as a houseguest at Heartsease Newfoundlands.

I had three days at Heartsease Newfoundlands to meet and bond with the puppies.

(Joan told me she wouldn’t place a puppy with someone she hadn’t met personally.)

Joan Casler (Heartsease Newfoundlands) was texting me about Fred almost every day since that visit.

I trusted her to honor her word.

My God, I even LIKED her.

I was already emotionally attached to Fred the Puppy.

Maybe, in time, I’ll be ready to try again.

Right now I feel like breeders are evil, shitty, unethical, people – and I want nothing to do with them.

P.S.  I know rescue dogs are an option for all dog owners.  I need a big, strong, dog for service needs.

P.P.S.  I must be very naive to think people are basically good and have integrity.  This experience has been the worst bad/unprofessional breeder experience imaginable.

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Closet Issues

My bedroom has a very small closet.

It also sits at a very strange angle making it impossible to add shelves and/or put in any decent type of closet organizer.

I envy all those nice modern homes with big, gigantic, closets.

Like most people, periodically, I attempt to get rid of old clothes, etc.

Except …?

It’s always a problem with my bum arm because I’m right handed.

So when I “say” I clean out my closet, that usually means I clean out one small portion of it using my left arm/hand.

I haven’t taken every single thing out of my closet and REALLY cleaned it out since before my car accident.


This week I’ve been home all week fighting my annual October allergy-induced sinus infection.

(I’m on antibiotics.  I’ve been assured I’m not contagious – but I’ve been taking it easy all week.)

Yesterday, I must have had a moment of pure madness because I took every single thing out of my closet at the same time.

You know, like normal two-armed people do.

First of all, clearly I have hoarder tendencies.

Second, I have terrible taste in clothes – how could I have ever bought some of those items?

Third, I ended up with bags upon bags of stuff to take to Goodwill.

I own NOTHING now.

I got rid of it all.


It’s amazing how much stuff you can cram into a small closet if you  try hard enough  are me.

Of course, if I need to go anywhere or do anything I will need to buy clothes.

Unlike most women, I hate to shop so that isn’t something to look forward to.

On the other hand, since every item of clothes I own was about ten years old – it’s probably about time.

I also texted Paul Newman as soon as I was done letting him know I need him.

So, guess who I’m spending my morning with?