Loose Dog on Expressway

One of the things I absolutely dread more than anything is coming across a road- injured animal or loose pet. I came across the latter this week as I was driving down a 3-lane interstate. Several cars were lined up by the side of the road and people were running in the grass. It looked like it could be an accident scene except for the people running in the grass. And then I saw why they were running – this little brown-ish dog was tearing down the middle of the highway. In my rearview mirror I saw her get hit and my heart exploded, but after a somersault, she was back up and running like a bat out of hell. I pulled over and opened my car door, hoping maybe she would leap in, but she sailed right past. In the meantime, bless the State Police, one of their cars got in front of the traffic, lights flashing to slow down the lines of traffic moving towards the little pup. Last I saw of her, she ran up an exit ramp.

I could not sleep wondering what happened to her, so the next day I posted to a Lost, Missing and Found group on FB to see if I could find out what happened. Amazingly – she was safe. She was sore and had a seriously bruised lung and ravaged foot pads, but she was otherwise home. After being on the run for 30 hours, I hope everything turns out okay and she doesn’t find her way out again.  

Anniversary of the Diane Schuler Tragedy

Perhaps one of the greatest, and most tragic mystery of times is the wrong-way accident on the Taconic Parkway in New York. It happened on July 26, 2009. The wrong way driver was one Diane Schuler whose autopsy showed she was both intoxicated and high on marijuana. She killed 8 people, including the 4 children in the minivan she was driving, 3 of whom were her brother’s little girls.

The Taconic State Parkway is the most dangerous highway in New York

The Schulers went camping just about every summer weekend at Hunter Lake Campground in Parksville, New York  a beautiful spot in the Catskill Mountains. On this weekend, she had her 3 nieces with her and by all accounts, the kids had a great time playing, while the goal for Diane was to relax. Diane was a regular marijuana user, and she did smoke a joint that Saturday before the next tragic day. She and her husband also had a few drinks as they sat by the campfire that evening

Diane had been suffering from an abscessed tooth which was causing her a great deal of pain. She was also stressed by basically being a single parent while her husband worked nights, and the main breadwinner for the family. Pressure!

The story goes like this: After this weekend with her husband, her own 2 young children, and her brother’s 8, 7, and 5-year-old girls, Diane set off in her brother’s red minivan with all the kids and her husband drove away in his pickup with the family dog.

As evidently was the custom on the way home from camping, Diane stopped at McDonald’s with the kids for breakfast. After breakfast she emerged with a cup of orange juice. Shortly after, she pulled into a gas station and went in and asked for Tylenol. They had none. Back on the road, she is said to have driven crazily – honking, tailgating, straddling lanes and flashing her headlights.

By the time she and kids had crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge, (now the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge) Diane had called her brother to say they were being delayed by traffic. Also, witnesses recall seeing her bent over by the side of the road and appeared like she was vomiting. Shortly after, her oldest niece called her father and said words that were etched into the kinds of everyone who has ever followed this story: “Daddy, there’s something wrong with Aunt Diane,” who she said was slurring and having trouble seeing.

The catastrophe finally unfolded when Diane got on the Taconic State Parkway going the wrong way. After 1.7 miles, she slammed head on into a vehicle carrying 3 men, a father, his son, and a close friend, all of whom were killed in addition to herself, her daughter and her 3 nieces. Miraculously, her 5-year-old son survived.

The concrete cause of the accident became clear after toxicology tests were performed, and that was that Diane Schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19%, 6 grams of which was in her stomach and had not yet been absorbed into her bloodstream. Accident investigators found an open, half empty bottle of vodka in the van. Her blood also contained levels of marijuana.

So that’s all straightforward. But what’s not is the denials made by her husband that Diane had not had any alcohol and her condition must have been caused by her tooth pain or another physical condition. Then there was the sheer disbelief that a woman who was referred to as “Super Mom” would experience such a tragic meltdown. Or was it? Some people believe it was suicide. Others believe she had a black out of some kind.

The bottom line is, we will never know what prompted Diane Schuler to kill herself and 7 others.

So much has been written about this, and here is one very thoughtful and detailed article

There is also the fascinating look at the story in “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane” documentary.

But What About the Animals?

Photo by Ryan Leeper

I suppose many people will take umbrage with what I’m going to say here, but I think it merits some thought. This morning I read a story about a yacht fire where 3 people and 2 dogs had to jump off and into the water. The story talked about the people’s conditions, but nothing about the dogs. Truthfully, so what about the people, I wanted to know about the dogs.

A plane crash: You always hear how many human lives were lost or saved, but what about the animals on board? Dogs? Larger animals in the cargo hold?  And what about the animals that are saved or fall victim in home fires? Car crashes?

Our dear animals catch short shrift when it comes to being treated as the valuable and precious souls that they are.

Renewal

Has it really been since July of last year?

Oh friends, the proverbial time clock ticks and tocks and suddenly months have gone by. 

I have many things to share with you, but I’ll just gloss over the highlights now and fill in details later. We lost our precious old lady, Sasha, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge in November after she spent months of hanging on to her little corner of life. Nothing is as heartbreaking as ushering a beloved pet on to wherever their sweet souls find to rest.

In January we adopted a beautiful, 3-year-old Boston Terrier of the red-coated persuasion. He came to us as an abused case, and he is keeping me busy with training and loving. He gets along with our other two – a big plus. It’s just strange people he’s not real fond of.

After much pondering, I have decided to throw in the career towel and retire! I still feel like I’m 16 instead of 60-something, so I cringe when I say the word. It always reminds me of old people, of which I do not mentally consider myself one.

So, with retirement here, I devote myself to my lifelong pursuits of writing and dreaming.

My Precious Old Lady

She’ll be 14 next month and she doesn’t particularly wear it well. Once a beautiful girl, she is now painfully thin, despite gorging on the high-protein foods we feed her.  She limps terribly, but we can find no obvious injury. She is stone-deaf and her vision is also going. However, she ‘sees’ through her nose and continues to follow me faithfully. I slow down my pace for her now, and when we arrive at one of our in-home destinations, she plops down and falls into an immediate and deep sleep. She is my office mate, my reading companion, and my sit-under-the-tree in the backyard buddy. She sleeps with us in bed at night, and hardly moves once she’s curled herself up tight and cozy.

She has many health problems including Cushing’s and never-ending UTI’s. She’s been on every antibiotic in the book. She wears diapers because she has no control over her bladder. But her time hasn’t come despite her current condition. She eats, she follows, she sleeps, and she loves. Likewise, I love her with all my soul and heart. My beautiful girl. It’s not time, but when it is, she will tell me. I dread that day.

The Little Dog That Did

I continue to smile with joy and admiration every time I see this video and the heart of this little Boston Terrier, Ripple, as she races with everything in her, only to make sure her handler is okay when he takes his unfortunate fall. Despite losing, at the end these two show the world what real winning is all about.

A Case for Plain Writing

As an academic for (dare I say it) over 30 years, there is one thing that has always bugged me and that is the self-serving, pretentious and utterly unreadable text of many in the higher education profession. So when I came across this article today, I could not wait to pass it along.

Enjoy!

Where Did You Say the Bird Was?

You’ve surely heard of “A bird in the hand.” Well, I have a bird on the foot. My precious cockatiel Grant (my good friend has his brother who she named Lou) is an odd duck, er, I mean bird. (Aren’t ducks birds?) He is a bit standoffish, doesn’t like to fly, eats like a, ah, flying pig, and is obsessed with my feet.

Yes, that’s correct, my feet. You see, Grant’s cage is up on a high stand, and shortly after I remove him from it and put him on top of the cage for a change of scenery, he flop-flies down to the floor and toddles to my feet which are usually under the desk as shown here. He then scrambles up onto my shoe where he happily meditates. Frankly, I do feel plenty foolish with a bird thusly ensconced on my foot.

I’ve had a number of birds in my life, but never have I had one with such an unfailing foot fetish.

Pool on the Hill

It starts with a huge splash followed by manic flapping of wings, punctuated by a few quacks: a cherished early rite of spring.

Year after year, a mated pair of ducks land in the neighbor’s pool to herald the coming of spring, despite the snow that often still flew. It was always so exciting to hear that initial splash, followed by our excited chorus of “they’re here, they’re here!”

We often wondered: could it possibly be the same two ducks every year or was it their offspring who picked up on the pool where their parents left off?

No matter, it was soul soothing to watch them as one went off to find food for both and the female disappeared to sit on her nest in a secluded spot nearby. It was fun to hear the splashes of their landings in the pool, and the enthusiastic quacks of the greetings they gave each other. Then one day, mama duck emerged with her ducklings waddling behind her and soon, they be gone, until next year!

Next year came, and so did the ducks. Only before long, the male duck was alone and he started screaming and screaming and screaming. It was heart wrenching and a clear signal something was very wrong. The female didn’t return and he was screaming for her. Surely she would return? She didn’t. On the road the next day, there sprawled a duck, silent and dead.

Gradually his cries subsided and eventually, he left the pool. Ducks mate for life, so I wondered if he’d find another mate and another pool.

This is the first year it’s been quiet in the pool on the hill. No splashes, no quacks, and no joyous welcoming of spring except for the forsythia that blooms, yellow and quiet, in our side yard.

Finja the Devil Dog and Her Monkey

Don’t let this precious little face fool you. It’s the face of a devil dog, and I created her!

See that thing in Finja’s mouth? Of and by itself, it is an adorable little thing. It is a stuffed monkey made for dogs and it makes the most gosh-awful sound when the dog squeezes it. Finja loves to squeeze it. That’s Problem number 1.

Problem number 2: She is absolutely, unequivocally and resolutely obsessed with the thing. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

My little pupper will not, repeat, will NOT let go of this thing, for anything, except food. What you see here in this picture is exactly how she, and it, look all day long. She carries it in her mouth everywhere she goes. When she has it, we keep her separate from the other dogs because, well, it is entirely possible that there could be an unfriendly discussion among them. So, we remove the monkey from her mouth and put it someplace where she won’t know where it is.

Ha!

So much for that idea. Dogs and their sense of smell. We have since found a fool-proof hiding spot, but until we did, no matter we put the monkey to encourage her to forget about it, no luck. She became a quasi-pointing dog, eyes unwavering on the spot where the monkey was “hiding.”

We are thinking this monkey is her “baby” in a very real sense, but never having bred dogs, maybe someone can tell me if this makes sense?

This whole monkey deal is somewhat endearing, except for when it is really, really not.

Nick DiChario

Reader, writer, life-long mistake-maker

Judith Shenouda

Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications

Motivation for better life.

This site is here to help you with health issues, depression, anxiety, time management, daily life problems, etc. I will be glad if we walk together in this.

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No one ever reads the same book. We all react to the written word differently. The following are my opinions regarding the books I have read.

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