My Miracle Dog…

This a re-post of a piece I wrote many years ago about a special dog I rescued from the street on a cold November day. Slick passed away on August 9, 2016 after fighting a mast cell tumor for about two years. He was close to 15 years old. He had a long period of remission, but finally age and a possible return of the cancer forced me to say goodbye. I think about him every day, along with my two other dogs, Toro and Tico. Toro passed at 13 from a mast cell tumor on August 8, 2012 and Tico died of old age on December 23, 2017 at 16.


Today, A Stress-Free Post! What Could Be Better Than a TRUE Story About a November MIRACLE DOG!! (With Pics)

Posted on November 4, 2008 by insightanalytical

Let me take you back EXACTLY 6 years ago to November 4, 2002.  It was the day before Election Day that year, an off-year, of course, from Presidential politics.  The weather here in Southern New Mexico had been getting very cold at night for a few weeks.  It was the time for everyone to start getting cozy as the sun set. It became a very special day….

Toro and Tico, both chihuahuas,  were happily ruling the roost here. We had adopted Tico in February of 2002 as a companion for Toro, who had come with us from New Jersey to New Mexico a couple of years before. Everything was proceeding nicely, except for one thing.

I had had back surgery two years before in 2000 and had spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. It went smoothly, but recovery was slow.  Two years later in October 2002, I was still in severe pain, drugged to the gills, hardly moving and depressed.

Over the summer my mother, who was doing the dog walking, started talking about a little black dog that was roaming the neighborhood.  As I tried to walk down the block, I would run into neighbors who also reported on the little dog.  One woman told me she thought he slept on a house porch on another street…that turned out to be untrue.  Another woman told me he would drink from her bird bath. Yet another neighbor told me he was in his garage sitting on a stool cleaning his car wheels when the dog came into the garage. The man reached for him and fell off the stool…and the little dog ran off.

The reports kept coming. Finally, I called Animal Control, only to be told that they had been trying to catch the little guy for 8 months. Cages, traps…they couldn’t get him. Doing the math that October, I figured he had been “on the road” since February. That means he had been without a home through the cold spring, the extremely hot summer, and now was heading into another season of cold nights.

He was seen in the arroyo, near the highway and under cars.  In fact, a man a block away told me he was sleeping some nights under his mothballed Corvette.  New construction was starting next door to our house and I began seeing him resting underneath the construction trailer. Occasionally, I saw him with other strays, but he was usually alone.

One day as we were driving out of the development I saw a man sitting on an electrical box with a big dog biscuit in his hand.  I stopped the car and asked him what was going on.  He told me that he was trying to feed the little dog. Just then, at the corner, we saw him. He was licking the sidewalk. He ran off when I approached the spot…and I saw that he had been licking a smashed egg that had dried. Then, a few days later, my mother saw him in the middle of the main street out of the development in the morning during the rush hour…he appeared confused and cars had stopped but he managed to escape unharmed.

Something snapped right then. I knew I couldn’t let this little guy continue like this. It was getting bitterly cold at night as we headed into the last couple of weeks of October. My mother said he was limping.  I was afraid a coyote would catch him if he were down in the arroyo. Something had to be done. He actually began trailing after my mother and our two clannish chis, who took an immediate dislike to him!

I noticed that he seemed to come down our street in the morning and the late afternoon. I got some food and water and put it down near our front wall that was next to the lot next to us where the new house was going up.  That was in the morning. It was gone almost immediately.

I then moved the food and water bowls to the end of our driveway. And then a short way up the side of the driveway.  He’d come again by around 4 P.M. every day. I got into the routine of getting up early and putting out the food in the morning at around 6 A.M.  Sometimes he’d come down the street from the direction of the arroyo around that time and would eat. Other times he would come from the opposite direction, from the  main road.

This went on for about a week. Then, I started opening the garage door and placing the food just outside the lip of the garage.  Sometimes I’d leave a treat.  One day I left tuna fish in the morning. He ate it, but when I left it in the afternoon, he skipped it. Not a tuna fan, apparently!

After a few days, I set up a folding chair. I put the food down outside the garage, but sat in the chair.  He was tentative, but he was hungry, so he ate but he left immediately.  Then, he got to the point where he ate but would take a treat and bury it across the street.  Then he started sitting in the driveway in the sun for awhile.  All this time I sat quietly and talked to him.

When he wanted more, he would stand by the dish. I calmly got up and went inside and brought out more food.  He would dart away, but return and eat.

One morning I didn’t see him around. Worried, I got myself down to the corner and called, “Sweet-ie”!  Down the hill he came and he followed me home.   This became a ritual over the next few days. One day, he didn’t return at 4 P.M. and I was worried that something had happened to him.  Not only was he limping, but I could see that he had patches on his coat. He seemed tired and run down.  I thought he was ready to get picked up.

By this time I had moved the food bowls into the garage a few feet away from where I sat.  On Saturday, November 2, I moved the bowl right next to me.  He ate without a problem.  But the next day, he didn’t show up in the morning and I was panicked.  Had I waited too long? Had he wanted me to pick him up but had given up on me because I hadn’t moved then? Was he hurt? Or worse?

On Monday, November 4, I set up the chair and the food and went down to the corner. I called “Sweet-tie” but he didn’t come! Upset, I turned to go home…and there he was , coming toward me down the sidewalk from the other direction!

I sat in the chair, and he came up right next to me.  Before he took a bite, I quickly scooped him up and ran into the house! I had set up a baby gate so that he would stay in the kitchen. Toro and Tico, the clannish chihuahuas, were going nuts.  The little black dog jumped over the gate and promptly deposited a gift under the piano bench.  I put a halter on him and put him outside and he immediately went over the wall! I fished him up and knew I couldn’t take my eyes off him for a second!

Things settled down as I took him for a walk. He did fine. And then we came home and he went to sleep on the couch. That night and for several nights after, he howled at the back door. But during the day he slept like he hadn’t slept in a long while.  He was under the covers, warm, well-fed and safe.

I scheduled a vet appointment to have his limp and skin checked out. In the meantime, I called the no-kill shelter, Safe Haven, but they had no room for him.  A man in the neighborhood who had tried to catch him once and failed said he wanted him…but he went out to work every day. I couldn’t see the little guy thrown into a yard…he’d get away somehow.  And I refused to bring him to the shelter because I figured he’d be adopted…but would wind up roaming again! He could jump any wall and walk it with ease!

I wasn’t really sure what he was, but the vet confirmed he was a fairly big miniature pinscher!  His limp was going to be fine and we got started on clearing up his skin.  The vet thought he was about a year old.  Still not sure what to do with him at the “logical” level of thinking, I scheduled an appointment to get him fixed.  Of course, by the time he went in for that a week or so later, my heart had made the decision. We were going to keep him!  Toro and Tico weren’t too happy about it, either!

What to name him?  We went through a couple of names until I looked at him and commented that since he had roamed everywhere around the development, he was really a “city slicker.”  The name stuck–from then on he was SLICKER (Slick for short)!

Then came the problem of walking him! My mother couldn’t handle all three, so I took charge of Slicker. I started to walk, painfully, down the block with him.  At the corner we started getting into some hilliness.  Slick wanted to go there, so we’d go a short distance. Everyday I’d huff and puff a short way up that low grade hill.  Gradually, the huffing and puffing disappeared and my weak leg and back started to get stronger. Soon, I could walk up that hill!!

As I started walking with Slick, my energy came back and I started doing more. Instead of sitting around in pain and depression, I as now getting out and about. My little MIRACLE DOG had restored my interest in life and had started healing me, physically and mentally!

Six years later, Slick and I are celebrating our anniversary together tomorrow, November 4th. No matter what happens on Election Day, we’ll be happy about being together!  Toro and Tico have made an uneasy peace with “the intruder” and Slick has matured into the most loving, appreciative dog one could hope for!

Now, you won’t believe this, but a week or so ago I saw a little black and white dog with something draped around him/her in the street. I stopped the car, but he ran way down the road.  A couple of days ago, a neighbor about a block away told me he had seen the little dog and what he was dragging along was a plastic bag with ties that had been caught on his neck! The little dog probably got tangled up while searching for food in the bag that was set out on garbage day. I’m keeping an eye out to see if he comes this way again…

So what have I done? Yesterday I put out a bowl of water and a bowl of food near the wall at the side of the driveway near the sidewalk. Maybe it’s time for another November miracle…in more ways than one!

****

Slick and Toro, enjoying the sun together

It’s Sun Oven Season: Solar Cooking Revs Up!

By NM-GRL

At the Jersey Shore, Memorial Day weekend is the traditional kick-off of the summer season.  Here in southern New Mexico,  we ease into summer early, usually during May. And that’s when my solar cooking kicks into high gear!

The great thing about living in the Southwest is that I can use my Sun Oven all year long. In more northern climates the winter gray will curtail its use.  But, temperatures won’t stop you–so on a clear, sunny winter day, you can cook!

Here during the summer, when the sun shines down from high in the sky and the days are longer, I can use it to cook several meals in one day.  And, it costs nothing and doesn’t heat up the kitchen and make the A/C run like crazy.

I’ve had my Sun Oven for about a year and it’s fantastic. I bought it for “self-sufficiency.” This simple but well-engineered oven uses no electricity or gas and can cook, dehydrate, and pasteurize water.  Just the thing to have around if things get dicey if and when the dollar collapses under the weight of our national debt.

In the meantime, I’m just enjoying it for its own sake.  I have to say that this thing makes the BEST sweet potatoes (yams) that I have ever tasted! No need to candy them with extra sugar–they candy themselves.  So much better than baking in a regular oven, microwave or boiling them!!   In fact, all foods taste wonderful.  Seriously, for this alone the Sun Oven is worth having!

Side view of the oven

I bought my oven after attending a talk at our co-op given by the president of the company that makes them.  They are carefully designed and are so well insulated (with non-toxic materials) that they are able to keep food warm after cooking is completed, something most solar ovens can’t do.  The company has worked with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and governments to fulfill their mission:

Our Mission

SUN OVENS International, Inc. is striving to develop and implement comprehensive solar cooking programs that will radically decrease the developing world’s dependence on fuel wood and dung as the primary cooking fuels while benefiting the environment, raising the standard of living and improving the health of the poor worldwide.

From ice fishermen in Minnesota baking their catch on a frozen lake to desert dwellers in Kuwait baking lamb,
SUN OVENS® are helping people everywhere!

“Everywhere” includes the following countries (click on the the links to find out the details about these efforts):

You can get all the details on how the ovens are built and operate at the Sun Ovens International site.

Here are some more pics of the oven:

Reflectors fully opened...

The oven is easy to carry when closed up...

Since the oven weighs only 21 pounds, it’s easy to carry and set up anywhere!  And yet, it’s big enough to roast whole chickens and a decent- sized turkey! There are loads of recipes here at the Sun Oven International site…but it’s easy to create your own and adjust them to cooking solar.

Aside from cooking the best yams ever, I like using my oven to make casseroles. I put some elbow macaroni in the bottom of a blue Pyrex baking dish that I’ve sprayed with cooking spray, add vegetables, and pour over diced tomatoes or broth.  After the oven is preheated (usually to about 350 degrees or even higher on extreme sun days), I pop the dish into the oven and walk away, except to check on where the sun is every half hour or so and move the oven slightly to catch the maximum light.   If I start a dish for dinner at about 3:30 p.m. I’m ready to eat by 5 or so and if I eat later, the food is still warm.  If I want to cook during the noon hour, cooking time goes way down…often to cooking times similar to those of a conventional oven.  You can even put your food in the oven before going to work and come home to a fully cooked meal!

Solar-cooked foods are extremely healthy, too, because you can cook without any oil.  Natural juices are retained and food is delectable!

The oven comes with a dark enamel pot and lid which  maximizes heat retention. But, if I want to check on the progress of a dish, a dark glass dish (red or blue) will do fine (especially for casseroles–see above).    It’s easy to tell when a dish is starting to cook…food smells begin to waft out of the oven and once condensation starts to form on the glass, you know that some serious cooking is underway!  If the dogs are out, they start to sniff the good smells, too!

Here’ are some pics of a dish I made the other day for dinner:  eggplant with onions, garlic and tomatoes over pasta.

Ready to start cooking...

Within 45 minutes, cooking is progressing nicely.

Serious cooking underway, lovely smells wafting...

Even though clouds cut into the sunlight later in the afternoon, the temperature in the oven stayed high enough to complete the cooking.

In addition to baking potatoes and making casseroles, I’ve baked bread and made pasta (warm up uncooked pasta in one container while water is being boiled, then dump the pasta into the hot water and continue cooking…).  It gives me a real kick to cook food “off the grid.”

As I write this, I have some yams cooking in the dark enamel pot. Here’s a pic of them nestled in, before being covered. I wash them and no extra water needs to be added. I use 4 binder clips to make the cover fit tightly, which helps them cook even faster. I don’t even prick them with a fork. Once done, they will be incredibly melt-in-your-mouth soft and sweet.  I have them at breakfast every day. Yummy! And the dogs LOVE them…

Yams ready to go...

I’m seriously thinking of getting another oven so I can cook and either bake, boil or dehydrate at the same time.  That way, if things get crazy and there’s a disruption of services, I’ll be able to put a meal on the table without a problem!

***

More info on worldwide use of solar ovens, testing various ovens, etc. at The Partnership for Clean Indoor Air site…

Starting the New Year on a Positive Note: A Tribute to My Favorite Car Dealership, SISBARRO VOLKSWAGEN!

~~By NM-GRL

(Cross-posted from InsightAnalytical)

UPDATE: Still in love with this VW Sportwagen in 2017!!  Went cross country in the Fall of 2016…perfect!!

***

During these tough economic times many businesses have to kick it up a notch in terms of how they treat the customers they DO have.  Then there are businesses that have been going all out all along…like my favorite car dealership SISBARRO Volkswagen here in Las Cruces, New Mexico!

The VW dealers I dealt with in NJ were pretty small outfits…like the defunct Princeton VW and the one I went to next, Hamilton VW.  And although Sisbarro VW is part of a larger organization, the VW store still maintains the homey atmosphere that is something special.

Sisbarro Volkswagen
Service at Sisbarro

Part of my loyalty to this organization, apart from the fact that I’m loyal to the VW brand, may be because it just so happens that the owner, Lou Sisbarro was born in NJ (across the river from where I grew up!) and that he gets back to the Jersey Shore (Lavallette) every year (… I have childhood memories of a week at Lavallete with my aunt and uncle and cousins one summer).

But that’s really just coincidental icing on the cake. The real story is that the folks at Sisbarro VW over the years have been great…and the last few months have been EXCEPTIONAL!!

It all started when we traded in our two Rabbits (Golfs again this year) for an end-of -the 2009 year Sportwagen.  Years ago, we had looked at a Jetta wagon, but it was a bit small, so we opted at the time for a Passat.  Since it was a turbo and my mother had so little mileage on it, we decided after 5 years that we might sludge things up because it wasn’t getting driven enough.  We both got our Rabbits, but now that my mother stopped driving, it was time to go to one car.  Luckily, VW reintroduced the Jetta wagon, this time as a totally redesigned Sportwagen…which, seems to be almost as roomy inside as the old Passat!

Of course, since they are in demand and it was the end of the year, our Sales Consultant Andy Gutierrez, had to initiate a search around the western region.  Andy and us go WAY BACK…he’s been at Sisbarro for 10 years and we’ve bought cars from him before.  And he may very well have been the person who helped us out on our first visit to New Mexico. At the time, we were driving a 1998 Jetta sedan and for some reason the trunk indicator light was staying on.  We stopped by the dealership and the problem was resolved…we had been slamming the trunk too hard!!

I longed for a white car but one that was available was pretty much sold. There were two others, one already in sales negotiations, so we decided to settle for the Reflex Silver, just like our old Passat had.  We reviewed the features and said OK!  We’d buy it sight unseen!!  (But, as a courtesy, Sales Manager Mike Tourtillott said we didn’t even have to sign the papers until we actually drove the car!) A customer with a Sportwagen was at the dealership by chance and graciously allowed us to try out the trunk…yes, a walker fit in it, no problem!  The owner, another VW buff, raved that it was the best VW he had ever owned.

Within a few days the car arrivedfrom Utah and it was gorgeous!!  We had a lot of laughs as we paid for the car…Finance Manager Ronnie Frietze has a talent for making the entire process of signing a zillion forms and handing over the check painless as he keeps the jokes coming!

When we sat down with Andy to review the car’s features, I wondered where the AUX input was.  This is the input used for things like MP3 players, etc.  MMMM…… In the center console there was a weird looking receptacle, which turned out to be an IPod cradle.  Panic. I don’t use an IPod and don’t want one.  Where was my little $30 Sylvania  MP3 player going to go??

Apparently, the normally wonderful VW engineers had had a few too many beers over in VW-land, because they had decided to get fancy and strike a deal with Apple to put in an IPod dock even though the first car reviews had said the base model Sportwagen had an AUX input!

OH, DEAR!!!!!

Now, I don’t go crazy listening to my MP3 all that much, but I did use it last summer when I drove the 300 miles up to Albuquerque and the radio dial seemed a bit empty out there in the wide open spaces at times.  Driving alone, it was comforting to hear SOMETHING playing (free classical performance I found on the internet). Besides, I had no use for the IPod dock whatsover.  I felt robbed!!

Well, I launched into a web search and lo and behold! Others had turned up the same problem, only in  a 2008 VW GTI.   And there were pictures to prove it!!  Here’s the page I found with lots of pictures and the solution to the problem:  http://www.golfmkv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73447

But first, the folks at Sisbarro tried to find a fix through Volkswagen. The Parts Department, Dee Lerma and Jack Tellez, ordered official VW parts at Andy’s request, but they turned out to be converter kits for cars that had an AUX but not an IPod cradle. (Andy walked over to me with a bunch of cables and connectors, a sight to see!)  Along the way, another salesperson, Martín Torres, also tried to lend a hand.

At that point, I showed him the info I had found at the above site.  Andy called in Service Manager Theron Ledbetter.  At that moment, his very young son had a case of the H1N1 swine flu!  He was worried, of course, but still devoted himself to solving the problem that VW had created, not Sisbarro!  I investigated a few different aftermarket “fixes” but it all boiled down to something I found at Enfig Car Stereo…based, amazingly, in Carlstadt, New Jersey only a couple of miles from where I grew up!

Theron actually got on his phone and talked to the guys at Enfig directly to make sure the item would work in my car.  We had to make sure that, as an aftermarket product, it wouldn’t void my warranty.  Luckily, this little gizmo didn’t involve anything more that unplugging the IPod cradle and plugging in the adapter for the MP3 so there was no warranty issue, thank goodness!  Enfig sent the product promptly, but when Theron plugged it in, it didn’t work!  He was back on the phone with Enfig who promptly sent out a different brand.

VOILA!  The little plug in adapter worked perfectly and now all I have to do is tap the CD button on my radio, turn the MP3 on and listen.

Andy, Theron and Mike worked it so I didn’t have to worry about the cost of the unit so the issue was resolved!  I actually had called VW corporate and someone said that “the problem was being fixed” in the 2010 models…obviously, they must have seen some problems with just providing an IPod cradle at the expense of a AUX input that can be used for several other devices.

So, thanks to the crew at Sisbarro VW, I now have an AUX input and play my MP3!

And, much to my delight, I received a Christmas card from Andy thanking us for our continued loyalty.  Well, I have to say, I was very surprised. I think he also wanted to thank me because we had agreed to have a potential customer drive one of the Rabbits we were trading in…and which was sold along with the other immediately!

This whole incident was unusual, of course, but over the years I’ve always had great service at VW…so, I must also thank the folks in Customer Service, Tony Aquilar and Kevin Reed, who also made sure our new car was fully prepped.

And then there’s the lady who sits in a corner of the waiting room. Her title is “Office Coordinator” and she juggles everything from taking phone calls to handling bills.  This always friendly face belongs to Lisa Murillo, whom I snapped through the waiting room window (pic used with her permission):

The Friendly Face of Sisbarro VW

For anyone looking for great people to do business with in the Southern New Mexico area, I suggest taking a drive over to Sisbarro Volkswagen.  Not only will you find great cars, but you find a group of people who will take care of you needs and provide great service after you buy your car!

In this day and age, with so many stories about how people get treated badly, it’s really a pleasure to be able to recommend a great dealership and the great bunch of people who make it happen!

Sisbarro Volkswagen

1115 S. Valley Drive

Las Cruces, NM 88005

575-524-3561;  800-578-1670

(The Sisbarro Dealerships)

Hello from Open Range Ramblings….

By NM-GRL (IA-GRL)

Just a quick post to let you know what’s going on today.  This is the first day in several where the wind ISN’T  howling so I’m outside planting. Bagged shopping and will go to the gym later if I feel like it…

But for now, I’m planting and putting up “trinkets”…like my little windchimes. Found a new spot for them and the are making lovely sounds right now!

Will update later…but for now…INTO THE GARDEN!