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Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Left to Right: Beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler (July 19, 1998 – December 5, 2010), yours truly, and Good Boy, rescued on March 2, 2011.

This photo blending of me, Good Boy and beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler was done by friend Len Wood of Melbourne, Australia (who also has blue heelers, and had one gal, Tramp, aka Trampy, for fourteen years, so knows how I feel about Wiggles). Len kindly did this very special color image, as well as a black-and-white one. Friend and neighbor Marlene Wade took the original photo of Wiggles and me on April 1, 2007. Friend and neighbor Jeff Caskey took the original photo of Good Boy and I on April 18, 2011. Len used the 2007 photo and background and cropped Good Boy out of the other photo and into this one, weaving Good Boy in so it looks for all the world like we’re all there together, at the same time – and in many ways, we are!

I’m filled with the joy of Christmas and Jesus' Birthday, but have been working so hard that the thought of sending Christmas cards -- even though I've put return address labels and postage stamps on all the envelopes -- is just overwhelming. I sent 197 out last year (to my family, friends, subscribers to my research efforts, and friends via past chapters of my life: horses and trucks). This year, no way! There are 200 envelopes done, but getting the envelope addressing and card writing for each might as well be like me trying to go to the moon and back! This year, all family and friends will be receiving Christmas blessings via email. I love the traditional time spent with the cards, envelopes, photos, address book, etc., but must downsize to those few that don't use email, and closest family members.

Good Boy, December 10, 2011. My new dog friend and I with two of Santa’s elves at Champaign Feed/Pet, part of “Christmas In The Village” in Mechanicsburg, Ohio.

This has been a year during which change has been more keenly felt, and love and caring more appreciated than ever before. The prayers offered are cherished, the times spent together, tucked gently into my memory.

July 11, 2011. Sparkling Orange daylilies hold calm during a gust front precluding a summer thunderstorm. Our lives contain just such moments, treasured forever.

It’s a peaceful, quiet and happy time here this Christmas. My prayer is that your Christmas is also filled with peace and joy, the happiest of memories, and that you’ll make more memories with which to grace the home that is your heart. I am very grateful for your love and caring, this and every day!

Julie, Good Boy and the sweetest memories of Wiggles Blue Heeler

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wiggles Blue Heeler: Always and Forever

Wiggles Blue Heeler: Always and Forever
December 5th, 2011
Wiggles' mommy-me, Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net
There is never a doubt that beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler will be with me always and forever. Do you remember the song from the movie, "Pride of the Yankees," called "Always"? "I'll be loving you ... always! With a love that's true ... always. When the things you've planned ... need a helping hand ... I will understand ... always, always. Days may not be fair ... always. That's when I'll be there ... always! Not for just an hour ... not for just a day ... not for just a year ... but always ... always." Deanna Durbin sang it then, but I sang it to Wiggles many, many times over the years, and still do.

I watch God and Wiggles working in Good Boy, communicating and guiding as they also communicate with and guide me, and it warms my heart with a warmth that will never cool, never grow old, but is eternal. When Wiggles and I saw each other on September 22nd, 1998, it was as though we'd always been together, two halves of one soul, and we are still that way ... for always.

Wiggles always had a sweetness about him that permeated his core. He had no 'smell' at all, other than his clean sweetness. No doggy odor, ever. His sweet heart manifested itself in countless ways, and everything remains, including the way his fur felt, his sweet breath mingling with mine in all the nights and mornings when we slept, not snuggled, but each on our own pillow, and my hand often holding one of his feets/feeties/feetles gently. When he'd awaken, he'd slowly go 'belly up,' his dear face near my own, and I'd stroke his throat and tum-tum. How he loved that! Sometimes it took us up to a half-hour to get up, because we just so enjoyed those quiet times as soulmates.

This has been a day filled to overflowing with peace, like last December fifth. When I drove home, westbound, in the still coolness of that December dawn, my heart was filled with peace, and after I got home, a dear friend and her son stopped by to say goodbye to Wiggles, not knowing that he'd returned to Heaven. As they sat in our living room, Christine sitting in the chair Wiggles loved, her son, Max, sitting on the couch where I usually sit, and me, sitting on the other couch, right next to the place on it where Wiggles often slept, we all looked at each other in wonder, ALL of us feeling Wiggles' presence so strongly that I told Christine it felt like, walking through the house, like I was walking through cotton candy, so strong was Wiggles' presence and aura! We all basked and reveled in this miracle as the December sunshine poured into the living room! Even after they left, this miracle of Wiggles and his love permeated my soul and held me in joy, and though days to come held moments of intense grief and many tears -- many times when I could hardly breathe -- this day, one year ago, and again today, brought my baby, the child of my soul, for me to hold once again!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thank you, Dearest Littlefoot, Wiggles Blue Heeler!

Thank you, Dearest Littlefoot, Wiggles Blue Heeler!
December 4th, 2011
From your mommy-me, Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net
Dearest Littlefoot, Wee Gull, Many Kisses, my lil Booberry, and so many other terms of endearment, in a little less than eight hours, it will be one year since your return to Heaven, but you have never left me, not for one second! You've been here in my heart and soul, your love strong as ever, your loyalty to your mommy-me just as true.
I miss your barely-damp-finegrit-sandpaper kisses and always will, until the time that you can bestow them on me again, each and ev'ry one a blessing in and of itself.
Now I realize that you loved me so much that you and God brought Good Boy into my life (not just to save his life, but also to save my own), and for these miracles, I am so grateful to you. Would that I could hugabugga you again, one arm 'round your middle, the other arm 'round your chest, and kiss the top of your dear headbump, just above your precious Bentley mark -- but you know and receive my love just as you always have, and you continue to gift my heart and soul with your love.
Tonight I sat for a little while in your chair, the orange flowered one from Mom & Dad's house, and remembered how many times I'd gaze across their living room to see you sleeping in this chair -- sometimes curled up this way or that, sometimes 'belly up,' all four feets in the air in utter trust and relaxation.
You and I were soulmates from the start, and I know it's all right with you that I love and care for Good Boy, because he did not 'replace' you. After all, you and God sent me to bring him home! You know my love for you is as soul-filling as ever, and we are always a team. Now we work together to bring Good Boy happiness and a life free of the pain and fear he knew for so long. Thank you, my sweetest one, beloved WigglesBlue Heeler!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

With ev'ry beat of your heart, ev'ry stir of your soul ...

With ev'ry beat of your heart, ev'ry stir of your soul ...

Here I am, Person O' Mine! Right here with you,
When my heart stopped beating, I didn't leave you.

I'm inside your heart, helping it heal;
Inside your soul, helping it feel.

The tears are of love, that you shed for me,
I am not gone; I'm hereinsideyou, see?

Look in our yard, look 'round our home;
I didn't go, I didn't roam!

Far from you? There is no way!
I could go, not for forever, or even a day!

God knows our love as He knows our hearts;
He loans us the bodies, but we never part!

When things wear out, as on earth they do,
He tucks us inside the other's "soul shoe."

There to live, comfy-cozy we are,
ALWAYS near-n-dear, never far!

Tonight, as you lie down to sleep,
Feel my paw on your arm, my breath on your cheek.

"Seeing" me isn't just the old way,
It's seeing with our hearts, where we always stay!

Fresh as the day I came into your life,
New as our love, old as the knife

That cuts our hurts and pain away,
And leaves our love, forever 'n' a day!

Where am I? In the love that makes you whole,
With ev'ry beat of your heart, ev'ry stir of your soul ...

By Julie Kay Smithson, forever Wiggles Blue Heeler's mommy, and now Good Boy ACD's mommy, too propertyrights@earthlink.net 

Inspired by this photo of Henry, Shari Reinesto Tyler's beloved dog, who lives forever in her heart and soul: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325863979#!/photo.php?fbid=1942996657696&set=a.1268183427787.2036487.1325863979&type=1&theater and by the great and endless love of Wiggles Blue Heeler for his mommy-me, as evinced by his and God's gift to save two lives: mine and Good Boy's.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Anniversary To Us, Beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler!

Happy Anniversary To Us, Beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler!

September 22, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net

Thirteen years ago this day, I attended the Farm Science Review north of London, Ohio, and it was there, on Friday Avenue at the southeast corner of the FSR exhibit area, that Wiggles and I laid eyes and hearts on one another and became a pair, a team.

Today has been a good day, a day of calm happiness and contentment, for loving Wiggles -- and being loved by him -- has been so good for me.

Thank you, dear, sweetest one, for all that you gave me, every moment of your life, and even now, nine and a half months after you shed your earthly, worn-out trappings, you continue to love and to give, to me and to Good Boy. I can see you working in him, and see his happiness and trust coming to fruition, thanks to you and to God -- there's no doubt that the two of you continue to bring us miracles!

Monday, September 19, 2011

God and Wiggles Blue Heeler: Dual Lifesaving Duo

God and Wiggles Blue Heeler: Dual Lifesaving Duo

September 19, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net

People meeting Good Boy -- energetic senior Australian Cattle Dog / ACD / Blue Heeler that God and Wiggles Blue Heeler set on course to join me on March 2, 2001 -- tend to view me as some kind of hero. I am anything but!

The glory for this lifesaving belongs to God and Wiggles Blue Heeler. Like Good Boy, I am a beneficiary in this miracle, but not the worker of the miracle.

It makes me uncomfortable to be cast in such a role when I deserve no such honor. Over and over, I try to communicate that it was not only Good Boy's life on the line in late February, but also mine.

The dozen and more years that Wiggles Blue Heeler graced our home and my life with his physical presence, were proof positive that God loans such souls to those of us in such terrible need of them. My need for Wiggles was beyond my puny ability to describe. Only God, Wiggles and I understand that in its entirety.

When Wiggles' health waned -- and no matter how much effort was put into helping fix whatever was going awry, nothing could stop the march of time -- I knew in my heart that his physical body was wearing out. The best care that could be given, could not stay the inevitable. On Sunday morning, December fifth, 2011, Wiggles could physically remain with me no longer. His fourth paw joined the other three in Heaven.

Life required my continued presence and my time (and still does), but there is no measure of the depth of our love. For some time, I could barely breathe. "Going through the motions" of living is not the same as living.

God and Wiggles put their all into saving not one, but two lives.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a small, abused and/or feral, blind heeler dog two hundred miles to my south, whose life was filled with terror and fear. He was on his own -- for how long, no one knows -- when an animal control officer in Franklin County, Kentucky found this little fellow standing, frozen in fright, next to a flooding stream. It was late February, and that part of Kentucky has very little level real estate; it's mostly Appalachian hills. Factor in the slipperiness of winter, no eyesight with which to navigate -- only the grace of God and this dog's instincts kept him alive. Fearful injuries to his tongue and mouth, eyelid and ear, paled when compared to his terrible toothache. He was having to drink cold water and eat, with at least two completely broken teeth, not counting the few he was already missing. An infection behind his right cornea made his eye not only red, but also sore. How his mind was able to keep him going, is part of the miracle.

The evening of March first, I returned home from visiting a family member. Tired beyond description, I signed in at Facebook. Someone had posted a photo of a cattle dog / blue heeler in need of saving -- not the first cattle dog whose photo I'd seen posted with a plea for help -- but this time, I felt an almost tangible urging from 'somewhere' to help this dog. It was too late to speak with anyone at the shelter, but I phoned and left a message, then called back as soon as it was feasible the next morning. I could come visit the 'small girl' whose photo was posted, I was told, and adoption would be considered.

The details of the next days/weeks/months have already been chronicled. Suffice to say, that dog in need and this woman in need, were melded.

I ask that people not look at me as a hero or miracle worker. Here is where the credit belongs: God still works miracles, and my beloved Wiggles Blue Heeler helped with this one. Good Boy and I are living proof!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thy sweet self, thy memory and love for me, comfort me

Thy sweet self, thy memory and love for me, comfort me

August 20, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, always Wiggles' mommy propertyrights@earthlink.net

Dearest Wiggles Blue Heeler, you who gave me your all, your whole earthly life, still give, each and every day. I feel you and your love, deep in my heart and soul. It is manifest in the way you still shore me up with your love. You come so near to me that I can still whiff your sweet, never 'doggy' fragrance, almost touch your soft and fine fur, and know that you love me, for all time.

It should not surprise me, that you remain so near and dear, after several months have passed. 'Surprise' is not the right word, but in those grief-stricken first days, weeks and months, I dumbly did not understand that your love would be strong enough for me to draw upon, time after time after so many times. Did I think your love had an expiration date, because your earthly time in physical form did? If so, your mommy-me was foolish. I'm unsure what I thought would happen, but what has happened is a gift you continue giving. Your love breaths life into me when the times come that I seem unable to breathe without you. Your all-knowing eyes, which always looked into mine with quiet calmness and utter devotion -- even more exquisite after your physical ability to 'see' with those eyes had passed (I thought) -- still hold my gaze, still thrill my soul.

You and God weave so many miracles in my life, including that that is Good Boy. I am so 'short' with him sometimes, so unable to give him the unconditional love that my soul tells me he cries out for in his mute countenance, with his shy efforts to win my love. Wiggles, you are there in him so clearly, so strongly, and yet ... I cannot yet bring myself to simply fall to my knees and thank you, much as my actions should honor you in that way. Every moment of your life -- and now, in your eternal life and love -- you led me by your example. Why am I so fearful of allowing your love to completely flow through me and seep out into Good Boy's world? Do I fear that, if that happens, I'll somehow lose the strength that you give me to go on? I do not know. It is a complex thing, living here with your physical self ... I cannot bring myself to say 'gone,' for you are not 'gone.' You understand what words fall short of expressing at this time. You love me so completely that it does not matter if I cannot utter the 'right words.' Here I sit, trying to make my stunted, small self -- which cries out that you are not here, even when my soul knows that you are, and that you always will be with me -- believe that there are only one set of footprints, when I can see only one. Fool that I am, dearest Wiggles. When you needed to be carried, I would always pick you up and carry you. How can I not see and accept that you now carry me?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Face Of Love

The Face of Love

Wiggles Blue Heeler

who trod the earth from Sunday morning, July 19th, 1998,

until Sunday morning, December 5th, 2010.

June 19, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, Always Wiggles' Mommy

Nothing I can say will be able to convey my love for you, child of my soul. We knew each other so well. Your love for me was so ... so much like God's love, and now that you divide your time between my heart-n-soul and Heaven, you know that what I sang to you softly was true, is true, & will always be true:

I'll be loving you, Always! With a love that's true, Always! When the things [we've] planned need a helping hand [God will understand], Always, Always. Days may not be fair always. That's when I'll be there, Always! Not for just an hour, Not for just a day, Not for just a year, but Always!

God loaned you to me here on earth for over a dozen years, but our souls are one forever. My little boo, you are loved by me as I am loved by you, always and forever, more than words can say!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wiggles: Six months today, dear heart

Wiggles: Six months today, dear heart
June 5, 2011
By Wiggles' Mommy, always Wiggles' Mommy, Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net
Six months ago, life for Wiggles Blue Heeler and I as we knew it, changed forever. The lurking, growing unseen presence within his midsection had grown -- from something that added enough pressure to make him leak urine almost two years earlier -- to a mass that now was shutting down his ability to urinate or defecate. Wiggles, he of great heart and even greater love, could not go on in his earthly form any longer.
What could I say, now that we'd come "down to the wire" and my promise was being called? Wiggles had never let me down. He'd always been there for me, and now I had to be there for him, keeping my promise to not let him suffer.
A little after five in the morning on Sunday, December 5th, I awakened to see ever-faithful Wiggles stretched out in clear discomfort, perpendicular to me, his front feet off the bed, trying to buy a little more precious time, a few more breaths without struggle. He and I knew, when we lay down to grab a little sleep just four hours earlier, that this would be our last time to be physically near each other on this earthly plane.
We didn't have to talk about it or fight it any more. I called the emergency veterinarian I'd spoken with the night before, letting her know that it was time for us to meet her and her assistant. She asked if nine o'clock would be okay. I replied, "No." She inquired, "Eight o'clock, then?" I spoke words that, even now, seem unreal. "We need you to meet us as soon as you can get there, about seven o'clock."
Now things seemed to slow down. Wiggles actually got down off the bed by himself and went out the front door and down the steps on his own, knowing, I'm certain, that this was our last ride in the little blue truck. I can't remember if I helped him up in the truck, but it seems that I did (he'd always jumped in on his own before). Then we were off, taking the smoothest possible route so as not to jar his bulging midsection and make him hurt. Down the state highway to the interstate, going up to legal speed and a little more, we had only fifteen miles to cover to get to the exit where ...
As we got within a half-mile of the exit for Wilson Road, I reached over to pat his head gently and put a hand up across him so he wouldn't be jarred as we took the ramp. For the first time in his life, Wiggles was trembling under my hand, his head transmitting the pain to me.
I gave him all I had in assurance and love. "Hold on, sweetheart. We're almost there. I won't let you hurt anymore." When we got to the clinic, the lady vet and her young assistant were arriving at the same time. One of them held my door open, and I carried Wiggles, his bed and thick towel, as the other held the door of the clinic for us. Paperwork was signed, a 'sleepy shot' was given (the only time I ever heard Wiggles yelp in pain, because he was tense with the pain that he still endured without a whimper -- then the sleepy shot helped him relax, though he still remained upright, though lying, his dear face consigned to the moment at hand. He kissed me one last time for now, and kissed the vet and her assistant to reassure them that all was okay.
At seven-fourteen on this crystal-clear Sunday morning in December, Wiggles, child of my soul and my best friend for this lifetime and eternity, was whisked back into God's arms. Someday, we'll be rejoined in joy, but at that moment, all that mattered was that this dearest, gentlest of souls was no longer hurting, and was free at last from his earthly bonds of age.
I love you, Wiggles, forever. You know me, like God does, better than I'll ever know myself. Thank you for all your love, love that surpasses everything, and swaddles me always. Get ready, dear one! My soul will flee earth one day and rejoin you forever!

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's personal

It's Personal

May 11, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net

I took Wiggles' life personally, made every effort to give him the best food, the freshest water, lots of great places to play and walk and sleep, and yet ... time took its toll. The ravages of age crept up on him, and although I didn't want to see it, looking back now on the many photos I took of him over the years, it's clear that he wasn't feeling 'up to snuff' as early as midway through 2008, more than two years before he returned to Heaven.

From the first time we laid eyes on each other, we were a pair, a team, a match made in Heaven. Wiggles and I knew each other so well, were so attuned to each other that we often felt like one rather than two. We enjoyed life immensely, loved to work and play, walk and run, dream and sleep the sleep that comes from days well lived.

Wiggles Blue Heeler lives within me still; he always will. There is no doubt in my mind that a big part of me lives in his soul for all eternity. Here of late, Wiggles comes to me in a new way, through the life of Good Boy, the blind senior blue heeler (Australian Cattle Dog / ACD) that God and Wiggles sent me to rescue on March 2nd, 2011.

As I work in our yard and do springtime things like scrub and refill birdbaths, replenish topsoil, pull weeds, etc., I'm keenly aware of  Wiggles' presence. He is looking out for me as he always did -- as he always will -- and the sweetness of his love and loyalty still knocks me to my knees in prayers of thanksgiving!

Good Boy is learning to trust and become my dog, and Wiggles has a paw in this process. It's clear that Wiggles is guiding Good Boy in his antics, and sometimes I can almost see Wiggles in his old spot on the other couch, quietly watching me with eyes of utmost love and affection, letting me know that he is glad my heart is healing. Still, at some time each day and night, the lump rises in my throat and tears sting my eyes as the tsunami of grief comes washing o'er me.

For all the well-meaning, kind folks that try to understand, there are no words to offer them that sound anything but strange, even to me. They cannot know -- how could they know? -- the bond, the love, the two-halves-of-one-whole, that Wiggles and I were, are and always will be.

Good Boy is here in our home, going places with me in our lil truck, and enjoying our yard. He has come so far from his first days and weeks of pain and abject terror. Wiggles has helped me to help Good Boy, shoring me up when fatigue and frustration threatened to overwhelm me. Wiggles has been always with me through family issues, ever loyal and loving, no matter how strained things have been.

It's personal, this love of ours, and yet, I must write about it, because writing about it is like giving Wiggles another 'hugabug,' a way to wrap his dear self in my embrace and drink in his sweet fragrance (never, ever 'doggy') and hold his silken paw in my hand. As his book is written, and the chapters come out to meet the world, I will still take it personally, because no one else can share the miracles of Wiggles but me. For that, there are no words to encompass everything, but I will personally share fifty sweet memories of him. Each will be a gift from him, through me to readers, to soak into hardened or broken hearts and heal them. Wiggles lived every moment to love me, and he needs for me to share as much as I am able, what he was about during the dozen years he trod this earth as my-dog-but-so-much-more.

Stand by, world! Distilling the love of Wiggles cannot be rushed, though I know it is needed by so many. As I take it personally, it will be his to give the world, one heart at a time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Four Months Today, Good Boy & a Healing Heart

Four Months Today, Good Boy & a Healing Heart

April 5, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net

Four months have passed since Wiggles Blue Heeler wore out his earthly body and returned to Heaven, leaving me with his soul sheltered always in my own heart and soul, my grief unlike anything I've ever known.

Wiggles was on loan to me from Heaven and I always knew that with certainty. When his dear furry self was no longer in our home for me to touch, play with, sleep with, brush and pet and listen for his 'feetsteps' on our floor, my loneliness was profound and devastating. Other family matters only increased this need for my baby, the child of my soul, to be here in the flesh, but it could not be. Hours became days, days became weeks, and weeks stretched into months. I truly believed that any other dog in our home would be nothing more than a trespasser, and though I tried to put out feelers for another dog -- and dear friends also tried to help me -- nothing mattered.

Then, upon returning home from my dad's house late Monday evening, February 28th/early Tuesday morning, March 1st, I got on Facebook. Someone had posted a photo of a blue heeler (Australian Cattle Dog / ACD), with a caption like, "Someone please help this poor soul." The details described this terror-stricken dog as a small female, blind and about to be euthanized at an animal shelter in Franklin County / Frankfort, Kentucky, two hundred miles south. As soon as my eyes saw this animal, something happened inside me. Having never rescued a dog before -- and not wanting a female dog, having always had males and being comfortable with them -- my brain told me to sit tight and not go ... but God and Wiggles had other plans for me, and other plans for that shelter dog.

I phoned the shelter and left a voice message -- two voice messages -- expressing interest in learning more about that blue heeler. When the shelter opened at noon, I phoned again, asking if it would be possible for someone from out-of-state (I'm in west-central Ohio) to adopt. The people at the shelter were so kind, so understanding of our plight: mine as a brokenhearted mom of Wiggles Blue Heeler, and 'hers' as a blind dog picked up in the county by Todd, animal control officer. There's virtually no future for blind older animals once they arrive at animal shelters. Very few people want older animals; fewer still want blind animals.

Somehow the shelter staff heard the need in my voice, knew the tears were real, and when they checked my Facebook page and saw the photos of me and Wiggles Blue Heeler, realized that this was meant to be. They said yes, that I could come and meet 'her' on Wednesday, March 2nd at noon. All the way down to Frankfort, I kept wondering why I was going to rescue a female. Hadn't I already seen other ACDs available for adoption (both males and females, all sighted), and turned them down? Why was I on this journey? Would I leave the shelter and return home alone? God and Wiggles Blue Heeler smiled quietly. They knew. They had planned. The right moment -- the right dog -- had come.

When the shelter volunteer brought the small 'girl' out for me to meet, I broke into tears. 'She' was literally scared stiff, flat as a pancake in fright in the young man's arms, stiff and shivering uncontrollably as he held her while sitting on a bench. I sat down beside them and touched 'her,' feeling the terrible fright for myself and knowing that I could offer 'her' a quiet, peaceful home that was already blind dog friendly, a nice yard that was already safe for a blind dog's eyes. After twenty minutes, the shelter director (or one of her employees, I don't recall which) asked if I might like to 'foster' the 'little girl.' My answer came unbidden and quickly: "No. I want to adopt her and take her home." The half-price adoption fee I'd been quoted, was changed to no fee at all. The small 'girl' -- that seemed to have never known either a leash or harness -- began to be put into a new blue nylon harness. That's when I learned that 'her' size and fright had masked her gender: she was a he!

Please visit my Facebook page -- Julie Kay Smithson -- to learn more about Good Boy and his new life. In the past month, we have had experiences like barely sleeping for the first two weeks, getting his health issues fixed (one of which was dental work that involved, not only cleaning terribly tartar-encrusted teeth, with two teeth already missing, but extracting two more teeth, both of them already fractured under all the layers of tartar), getting to not be so shy about 'doing his business' while on-leash, clearing up a bacterial or fungal infection under his right cornea, and much more. We have emerged, bonded and so glad to have each other -- and thanking God and Wiggles Blue Heeler for their actions, so perfectly timed to heal both Good Boy and me.

Sunday, April 3rd, I took Good Boy to a local Metro Park, and that afternoon, for the first time in such a long time (since knowing in my heart in early 2010 that Wiggles' health was going to lead to his physical death, which came on December 5th), I smiled, and the smile came from my heart. That smile came from Wiggles, who helped find Good Boy for me!

Wiggles and God knew that I'd have to put my words -- "Blindness should never be a death sentence" -- into action. They made it possible for this miracle: Good Boy -- to happen!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wiggles' Book: Fifty Chapters, Fifty Miracles!

Wiggles' Book: Fifty Chapters, Fifty Miracles!

February 22, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, always Wiggles' Mommy propertyrights@earthlink.net

Wiggles' book -- fifty of the true stories that tell about his life, and our life together -- is coming along, though not as much "on paper" as I'd thought. The outline is done, and it's being written when the time is right and inspiration prompts me to sit down and write. There are so many memories of Wiggles Blue Heeler, so many precious moments and times of joy and adventure, countless times that my heart holds dear. Even having picked fifty to share, there are myriad more swirling about in my brain.

It's important that the book be right, because it will be part of Wiggles' legacy as well as a tool toward changing perceptions of visual impairment.

On this late February afternoon, as I slog around outside, shoveling ice and snow, my thoughts are of Wiggles Blue Heeler. The lump in my throat remains, tears still sting my eyes (though they may not fall as much, they are still 'right there'), and my vision still looks for him. The sweetest one -- the Australian Cattle Dog / ACD / Blue Heeler named Wiggles Blue Heeler, upon whose countenance God blessed with utmost patience, love, loyalty, and so much more -- is safe in my soul. Even as my eyes miss his footprints, his precious physical self in and around our home and yard and little pickup truck, he is still yet ... here.

For more than twelve years -- which seem like a heartbeat in time, and flew by so fast, so fast -- this place on Planet Earth was our home. Now I know that it didn't matter where we were, because wherever that was, was home to us. Wiggles Blue Heeler was happy to be with me. I was happy to be with him.

Wiggles' book -- fifty chapters, fifty miracles -- will tell of a life lived to the fullest, in total faith and utter love. May I be guided to tell his story well!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Glossary and More: Inherited Diseases of Dogs, from OptiGen

Glossary and More: Inherited Diseases of Dogs, from OptiGen

February 11, 2011

(Note: This is simply a glossary of terms often used by OptiGen to explain many terms used by OptiGen. While it is helpful, it is not, however, all-inclusive. You must actually visit this link -- http://www.optigen.com/opt9_glossary.html -- to read the glossary. Related information below is from parts of the OptiGen website and should prove to be useful in understanding more about inherited diseases of dogs. I was unaware of inherited progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA, in dogs, when Wiggles Blue Heeler and I found each other on September 22, 1998. It was not until six years later, when the diagnosis was made, which explained his huge pupils and bumping into things at night -- which is usually how PRA is first noticed -- that I learned. Had I known, on that beautiful September day in 1998, that my sweet pup would lose his sight halfway through his life, I WOULD STILL HAVE BECOME HIS PERSON. Loss of sight does not change love. For all those puppies yet to be born, and those dear dogs whose physical sight is doomed by their DNA to dim, I pray that testing will become commonplace and that PRA will not mean a possible death sentence at the hands of people who view dogs as working partners -- and who may not have a place for a partner who can no longer work livestock. PRA will put a stock dog in harm's way when it can no longer see the hooves of the animal it's herding. Wiggles Blue Heeler, while carrying the herding instinct strong within him, mostly herded his toys. Thank God he was never in the position to get kicked. The book I am writing -- Wiggles' book -- will hopefully help other precious dogs live the longest and best possible lives!)

Compiled from the OptiGen.com website by Julie Kay Smithson propertyrights@earthlink.net

Glossary from OptiGen: "OptiGen is a service company established to provide DNA based diagnoses and information about inherited diseases of dogs. We promise the highest quality diagnostic and testing services available in the fields of veterinary medical genetics and molecular diagnostics. Our testing procedures are developed by research scientists and veterinarians associated with OptiGen, and are extensively field-tested in cooperation with breeders of dogs."

OptiGen, LLC

Cornell Business & Technology Park

767 Warren Road, Suite 300

Ithaca, New York 14850


Fax: 607-257-0353

http://www.optigen.com and http://www.optigen.com/opt9_freePRAtest.html
genetest@optigen.com or optigen@clarityconnect.com



Canine genetic testing (OptiGen - Test offered):

"The OptiGen tests can be done on very young pups and a special litter rate is available for certain tests. No longer is there a need for test matings combined with expensive and potentially inconclusive ERG testing for PRA. Because carriers and affected dogs having other desirable traits can be bred to normal/clear dogs, the increased value of the genetically tested dog is very high. It's just the beginning... We are committed to an active program of continued research and development of faster, simpler, less-expensive testing procedures for all forms of retinal disease as well as for dozens of other genetic diseases that affect dogs."



Possible results using the OptiGen prcd test:

Genotype / Risk Group / Significance For Breeding / Risk of prcd Disease

Homozygous Normal / Normal/Clear / Can be bred to any dog, extremely low risk of producing affecteds / Extremely low

Heterozygous / Carrier / Should be bred only to Normal/Clear to remove risk of producing
affecteds / Extremely low

Homozygous Mutant / Affected / Should be bred only to Normal/Clear to remove risk of producing affecteds / Very high


OptiGen Tests PRA Affected Dogs at No Cost


It is EXTREMELY important to test as many PRA-affected dogs in each breed as possible. To promote this, OptiGen will test, at no charge, affected dogs from each of the breeds with a known genetic form of PRA. Link to “Tests” - http://www.optigen.com/opt9_test.html

Why is this so important? Because, a genetic test is developed to detect SPECIFIC mutations that are KNOWN TO EXIST in the breed. If a second or a rare variety hasn’t been discovered yet, we can’t test for it.

Here are two examples. Miniature Schnauzers and Miniature/Toy Poodles appear to have at least two genetic types of PRA. Only one type (Type A in MS and prcd-PRA in M/TP) is detectable now. We need to find PRA affected dogs that do NOT test affected with the current test in order to research and discover the other forms of PRA.

The other example was seen with Portuguese Water Dogs. Only after testing over 1600 PWDs did a new allele that causes prcd-PRA come to light. When a PRA-affected dog did not test “Pattern C”, extensive research was done by the Baker Institute and OptiGen to define the mutation associated with PRA in this dog. The result: Discovery of the cause for prcd-PRA in PWDs and improvement of the test.

Who qualifies?

The dog’s sample was not submitted previously either to the Baker Institute (Drs. Acland and Aguirre) or to OptiGen. The dog must have a clinical diagnosis for PRA by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist (ACVO, ECVO). The diagnosis must be compatible with the form of PRA present in the breed. Status of “PRA-suspicious” or “atypical PRA” or “multi-focal degeneration” does not qualify.

Here’s what you do!

FIRST, mail in a copy of the eye exam report (CERF report or other) and a copy of a 4-5 generation pedigree for pre-approval before sending a blood sample. If possible, provide an email address for a reply.

Wait for a response from OptiGen to learn if your dog has a diagnosis that qualifies for free testing.

NEXT, provide the blood sample - 2 tubes of 3 ml each - according to standard instructions (Ship Sample). http://www.optigen.com/opt9_shipsubpg3pkg.html One blood tube will be saved for research.

Complete all details of the standard Request Test form. http://www.optigen.com/opt9_request.html

Send NO payment.

Send the sample and all paperwork to OptiGen.

You will receive a report from OptiGen 2-3 weeks after the sample is received. A copy can be sent to your veterinary ophthalmologist at your request.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two Months Today

Two Months Today

February 5, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson aka Wiggles' Mommy

At seven-fourteen this morning, it's now been two months since your last earthly breath, dear, beloved Wiggles. I know you're fine and no longer suffering from any health or age issues, yet miss you keenly and still shed tears several times each day, longing for the touch of your nose, fur or foot.

Until they're no longer happening, it's so easy to take for granted that such blessings will always be ours. The feel of your breath in the night, from just an inch away. The always-awesome feel of awakening to find you staring at me, willing me to "wake up, Mom!" The sweet sound of your toenails gently coming through the kitchen into the office to encourage me to leave the work chair and computer, and come play with you, go for a walk, brush you, or just be together. The simplest things -- like having you accompany me when errands are run, or dumping/cleaning/refilling birdbaths (during the nine months when weather permits), or having you lying on the kitchen floor while I cook, bake or do dishes -- are now things that give my stomach a twist and make my heart hurt, longing for them again.

I took for granted that the dearest soul in the universe, Wiggles Blue Heeler, would always be there for me. I tried to always be there for him. Now our lives have changed and though we're still joined at the heart and soul, our physical time together has ebbed.

Every day the labor of love that will soon be his book, takes place. Whether actually writing a chapter, or sifting through the hundreds of photos, several-score videos, years of Christmas cards sent to the two of us, birthday cards, veterinary and dog tag records (and the county dog tag, rabies tags, and his tags with his name and contact phone numbers, all of which I saved), receipts from special toy, treat and food purchases, and more -- distilling the essence of Wiggles Blue Heeler into a family-friendly, educational, empowering book and DVD, is both an exciting and a somber activity. If it were an either/or -- either have him here with me still, or writing his book -- the choice would be a no-brainer ... but there is no choice.

Wiggles Blue Heeler's life, from the standpoint of sight, was divided almost equally: Six years of vision and six years of "seeing with his heart," due to inherited late-onset progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA. In many ways, the second six years was the greater adventure and joy, because those were the years that:

* Wiggles received the only test unit of SoundFlash that was ever available for animals, a real miracle that was amazing and delightful to him, me and many others. A micro-processor, battery-backup unit that utilized echo-location "click" technology, SoundFlash was tested and enjoyed for more than two and a half years by Wiggles Blue Heeler. Visit YouTube and search for "Wiggles Blind Dog" and "Wiggles Sees!" to view five 30-second videos. To see a blind dog trotting through a cemetery and confidently wending his way through different sizes and shapes of granite stones is to be so grateful to the Alcon Foundation for its grant to World Access for the Blind (WAFTB), and from my viewpoint, to be so glad that Wiggles Blue Heeler was the animal that, through more than one miracle, got to test this device! 

* Wiggles Blue Heeler attended many events, from fundraising bake sales for the Humane Society of Madison County (London, Ohio), to the ZooToo celebration when our shelter garnered one of the Top 20 awards, to the first fundraising SlobberFest, to a fundraising booth at a classic car show (where he met a young boy with autism and melted the hearts of the boy's mother and me), and more. At each event, my special dog-friend was quiet, kind and loving to all, earning one of his many nicknames, "Many Kisses," as he bestowed barely-damp, fine-grit sandpaper kisses on anyone within reach. A salesman at a local auto dealership "took it on the chin" from Wiggles and loved that slurp! An elderly couple whose pet had recently passed away, attended one bake sale and enjoyed Wiggles so much that they returned twenty minutes later. The gentleman said, "I've just got to have some more of his kisses!" Promptly sitting down on the floor, he received many more kisses from a canine sweetheart that understood the man's grief and need for comfort.

* Wiggles Blue Heeler helped me run errands and made many friends wherever we went. At the Post Office, the hardware store, the garden center, the feed store, and many more locations, he greeted old and young, athletic and wheelchair-bound, with the same affectionate nature, which I came to call "seeing with his heart," when people exclaimed over his beautiful pearlescent and luminuous blue eyes, once brown, or asked if he were blind.

* Due to the tendency of loose dogs -- and in some cases, the owners of dogs that seemed to enjoy having aggressive pets -- to attack Wiggles Blue Heeler, my options to find safe places to walk him became, by necessity, creative. At those safer places, we usually encountered peace and quiet. When we would cross paths with someone, they were so pleased to meet a canine with such an abundance of "all the good things life has to offer" in one package. Sometimes, after a walk on a hot summer day, we'd head for a local ice cream place, where I'd get him a scoop of French Vanilla for his bowl and one of black walnut or buttered pecan for mine. Always carried on board were these two bowls, plus a gallon of water from home, cool and fresh to slake our thirst. 

* A dear friend who divided her time between Maine and Virginia, gifted us with some very special clocks, kits utilizing a CD on a Lucite base with the label being our favorite photos. These clocks, which I so enjoyed during the time Wiggles Blue Heeler was physically here in our home, have become so much more precious now that they remind me of some of our times together. They also help me recall that time is not to be wasted, that it is to be tasted, savored, devoured with alacrity and appreciation. Thank you, Jane H., for these generous gifts that you put together as a craft project, which became priceless treasures to me, Wiggles' Mommy!

All these, and many more fond memories, are carried in my mind, heart and soul, and in the collection of things pertaining to Wiggles Blue Heeler. This time in my life is of immeasurable importance, for it is teaching me how much one dear soul -- in no matter what form -- can bless and make so much richer, for having shared time. Time is fleeting, and although our dozen-plus years together were wonder-filled, they sped by like a comet flashing acrost the heavens, leaving a brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime memory in their wake. 

Two months have passed somehow. Still a huge lump remains in my throat and tears sting my eyes, but time continues to measure my life. This book of Wiggles will be a way through this time, and a way to chronicle the best years of my life, which were all the years of his life. May this book fairly dance into the lives of many, pulling them out onto the dance floor and saying, "It doesn't matter if you've ever danced before; this is a dance of life and love, holding on for this dance and being made whole for having joined another heart!" 

There is a certainty -- not to be confused with 'preaching' -- that God chose me to be Wiggles' Mommy, and Wiggles Blue Heeler to be my best friend, which will be woven throughout the pages of Wiggles' book. Your own beliefs will not be diminished by this book, nor will my beliefs try to change yours. This book is about all the miracles, trust, love, joy, and more that were contained in the presence known as Wiggles Blue Heeler -- and will strive to open readers' hearts and minds to the following ideas: 

1. Blindness should never be a death sentence or a reason to part with a loved one, whether in dog, cat, equine, human form, etc.

2. "Leading with one's heart" is something that can and should be done throughout life. It does not mean abandoning awareness of one's surroundings or letting danger come near. It does mean that looking with more than physical eyes, can open the door and fling open the windows to joy!

3. The mere cessation of physical sight is not a handicap. It is opportunity dressed in work clothes. It is the boundless ability to strike boundaries from one's vocabulary. Daniel Kish, executive director of World Access For The Blind -- http://www.waftb.org/ -- travels the world, showing children and educating their parents that mere physical sight is not the edge of the earth. Christopher Columbus did not sail off the edge of the earth. He traveled with a purpose and with a faith that did not depend on physical sight. Like Columbus, Daniel Kish, the Alcon Foundation, Vision and Vocational Services http://www.visionandvocationalservices.org/ and Wiggles Blue Heeler, have not and will not ever allow boundaries to challenge what they know in their hearts to be true. 

Two months today, Wiggles Blue Heeler became my partner in life in a different form. His playful, ever-loving and sweet self remains, while he now encourages me in a different way, to take the lessons he taught and bring them to the world. He still teaches; may I be cognizant enough to continue learning in the months yet to come!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Memories and Meltdowns

Memories and Meltdowns

January 22, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, always Wiggles' Mommy

This week has been a bit 'bumpy' or rough. Working on Wiggles' book has helped, as has the concern of caring friends and family. Thursday was a day of five or six times of simply putting my head down and crying for a bit (not long, but intensely grief-filled). This does help somehow. So does talking to Wiggles, which I do, all the time. He hears me still, and as we went through the second six years -- when his physical eyesight was gone -- I have come to call this his "keeping an ear on me."

Wiggles Blue Heeler is still with me, faithfully as always, loving as always, for always. His presence has simply transcended the physical, though my needyness has caused him to show me that he is still here on a couple of memorable occasions. I'm certain there will be many more over time.

He would want me to share these special times and new memories with others, because he loved the world so much. He was always ready to extend his heart to people in utter trust and affection. Through this blog and his book, his mommy-me will do her best to keep the miracles that Wiggles Blue Heeler wrought, happening. Faith in God means believing in, and expecting, miracles, and God -- and Wiggles -- never disappoints!

Each and every day, no matter how smooth or occasionally bumpy, is cause celebre for giving thanks to God for sharing part of Himself with me in the form of Wiggles Blue Heeler -- and He is still sharing Himself with me ... and each one of you that read this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

One Day At A Time, Dear, Sweet Wiggles Blue Heeler

One Day At A Time, Dear, Sweet Wiggles Blue Heeler

January 16, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, always Wiggles' Mommy (AWM)

This day began with me doing my research work through the night and not going to bed and sleep until after five AM. Much was accomplished, including sending out seventeen items of interest that had been thoroughly researched.

Friday was spent in doing a 'move furniture away from the wall and clean under and behind it' kind of vacuuming and cleaning. I'm blessed with an abundance of energy, and channeling that into something physically demanding was good. There were only two episodes of sobbing, but knowing Wiggles Blue Heeler is still nearby to comfort his mommy, really helps.

This evening, I finally figured out how to get the scanner to work, and scanned sixteen wonderful photos of Wiggles into the computer. What a satisfying feeling, and a very happy one, because these are the photos taken before the advent of my digital camera, and they are all of Wiggles Blue Heeler when his physical eyesight was prime. We were doing some traveling, some gardening, walks, lots of playtime, and his happiness with our life is clear. He's a happy, healthy young lad!

There are approximately 450 photos yet to scan, so there will be many more hours ahead to take visual trips down Memory Lane with these cherished photos, but for now, it's just relaxing and comforting to know that there is such a fine photographic record of our life together.

Some writing was done on his book today, words that I pray will flow into a loving cadence of a book to share with the world how wondrous Wiggles Blue Heeler was. This book will be the avenue to take to meet a canine fellow with a truly angelic heart and soul. Putting photos into chronological order, choosing those that best represent times and places in our life together, then meshing them into book form -- and factoring in some thirty-second video clips on a DVD is hoped-for, too -- is a true labor of love. It is also one way I have to thank Wiggles Blue Heeler and our heavenly Father, God, for putting us into each other's hearts, souls and lives.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Missing YOU, Wiggles Blue Heeler

Missing YOU, Wiggles Blue Heeler

January 11, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, always Wiggles' Mommy

Wiggles Blue, your mommy is trying to not grieve so much ... but the loss of your physical presence is almost unbearable sometimes. Sometimes I can't get my breath, it hurts so much to not have you here to just see ... to just hear ... to just do the simplest things, things which now mean the world to me.

Oh, to be able to fix your supper again. To be able to clean and keep filled with fresh water, your two water bowls -- one in the kitchen, the other in the bathroom, so you wouldn't have to go so far at night to get a drink.

To just be able to stand beside you and get you lined up to jump into the lil blue truck ... and to have you there, either on the center console or lying in the other seat.

The sweet and never 'doggy' fragrance of you ... the softness of your fur, the dear 'Bentley mark' on your forehead, that incredibly intelligent, dear, sweet face ... your loving kisses / slurps.

I still thank God every day -- several times each day and night -- for the great gift of having you here in my life for more than a dozen years. How could those years have passed so quickly ... how could you not still be here with your mommy?

I am so glad that I was able to draw on your courage, even to your last physical breath, and give you rest without pain, all except that moment as we were getting off I-70 at the exit, and you were shivering when I touched the top of your head. My heart is so filled with you, Wiggles Blue, and how you trusted me so much that, when I said, "It's all right; we'll be there in just a couple more minutes, and I promise to not let you suffer," you relaxed and regained your calm. If you hurt after that, you were able to do so in a relaxed way that didn't let me know. I believe you were not hurting when I carried you into the vet's office, though you did tense up again for one moment.

Please be patient with me, dear heart, as I give this my best and try to get through living without you being here physically.

You are, always were, and always will be, so very much loved by me. I miss you so, Wiggles!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wiggles Blue Heeler, The Sweetest One

Wiggles Blue Heeler, the Sweetest One

January 6, 2011

By Julie Kay Smithson, Always Wiggles' Mommy (AWM)

This blog has been created to fulfill more than one goal. It is to help me heal from the profound grief of losing the physical presence of Wiggles Blue Heeler, my constant companion, confidante, best friend, exercise buddy, travels compadre, work supervisor (the kindest kind!), and so much more. Those who were blessed to meet and/or get to know Wiggles Blue Heeler, were privileged. I was humbled to be the one God chose to loan this dearest soul to for his twelve-plus years on earth.

To have a friend to keep you company, always be glad to see you, always be nearby in sickness and in health, to always love whatever was on the menu, to be everything you could ever need -- Wiggles was all that, and more. He was, is, and will always be my most trusted friend.

At this blog to honor Wiggles Blue Heeler -- http://wigglesblueheeler.blogspot.com/ -- there is now a place for Wiggles' friends to visit and share their memories of this most special dog, a place for me to share the life that we had together in its joy and countless blessings and miracles.

Visitors may sign up to follow Wiggles Blue Heeler's blog. They may also vote in the poll, and multiple choices are encouraged. A third thing to do is post comments at one or more article.

I am writing a book about Wiggles and our life together. It will be a book for all ages; a book that parents can read to their children; a book to help ripple the pond of knowledge about blindness and the miracles that we should still believe in and expect!

To those blessed folks that knew Wiggles Blue Heeler personally, I'm asking for you to share your remembrances of him. These memories will help me get through the grief and will be carefully chosen for inclusion in his book. After all, to know Wiggles Blue Heeler is to be loved, and his book will help others learn from Wiggles Blue Heeler, about loving and trusting. Last names will not be used.

Please join me in celebrating the life and love that was, is -- and always will be -- Wiggles Blue Heeler, my Sweetest One!