Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Violated. I feel absolutely violated. I had my debit card information stolen for the third time last week and I am beside myself. Sorry - no dog pictures or adorable stories in this writing - I am just trying to wrap my head around identity theft and online fraud.

People keep saying, oh don’t get so upset – it’s not personal. How could it not be personal when someone is stealing from me? I’m just another person trying to make ends meet and pay the bills and then this happens. I’m sorry, but it is very personal to me.

So for a week I have been calling the bank, canceling my card dealing with the people who auto bill my card for things like the Y and my Audible membership. Things have just been a train wreck. I have no debit card, I worry that other information has been stolen as well. I sit her and stew over the fact that I have tried to do everything I could to ensure that this doesn’t happen; yet once again her I am.

I use McAfee, spyware killer; I only shop where I know. I shred my bills and statements; I always tally my receipts and then shred them too. What else can I do?

I know technology and science advances and all of that are supposed to make a better world, a better life, but I just don’t get it. My landlord’s kid perpetually has a cell phone hanging off his ear and is so sullen and rude for absolutely no reason that I can fathom. People are more self indulgent and less courteous than ever before. I love talking to my friends – but what happened to personal, face-to-face discussion. Even if the technology existed there is no way my parents would have ever given me a cell phone in high school. Nobody rights letters any more and you can forget thank you notes.

I know life is supposed to be better in this modern world – but why do I feel that things have just gone horribly wrong? I used to scoff at my parents and others for talking about the good old days, but now I just wonder where those days went.

I love online shopping, I like the convenience of checking my bank statement online – I just don’t want to be stolen from. These people online that steal your information have no face, no name and really rarely ever get caught or punished for their crime. The unknown has violated me and I think that is what bothers me the most. I see the world spinning at a break neck speed and bad behavior, rudeness and theft are now part of everyday life? I just do not get it. I don’t want to get it.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Okay, I am obsessed! Dory is too darn cute. We were over at the vet today, she got her lyme vaccine out of the way and now since she is officially ours she got "microchipped". The vet staff all raved how cute and what a good girl she is. The vet pronounced her in perfect health and she is good to go until next summer.

My mom asked what she was like the other day, did she have any traits or behaviors. BOY DOES SHE EVER!!!

To look at her you see this slim pawed medium size Lab girl and when the UPS Man rings she lets out this mighty, deep "WOOF"!! The bark does not match the pink collared girl. On the boat the other day, Dory was trying to catch flies in her mouth - another cute trait that she shares with my first Lab girl Gillie.

Today's cute attribute I noticed is that she seems to rest her head on things. Dory was sitting beside me while I was checking my email and she sat here beside the chair and rested her head on the coffee table. I had to laugh, I mean I have seen her rest her head on the chair arm, but there she sat just resting her head on the table as if it was too heavy to lift.

Chris calls her "Hammy" because she is very expressive and well, a ham for attention. I know that people say that others never want to hear about your kids or pets - but I really can't help myself. Having a younger dog around for the first time in a long time is invigorating. I am gushing because I am definitely in love with Miss Dory Blue Young!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dory's Day at Sea!!

I know, I know - I've talked all about Emily's passing, Dory's adoption and my occasional free form rant about life - now Dory takes main stage.

Yesterday was Dory's first day aboard the Kanaloa for a day of fishing. For those of you don't know, the Kanaloa is our 25 foot Parker fishing boat moored in Salem, MA.

Anyhow - after the boat being off the water for 3+ weeks Chris and I decided to go fishing and take Dory along. Needless to say I was a little nervous. It's one thing to ride in a truck for two days, meet a new family, get used to a new schedule and become accustom to urban life - but riding on a continuously moving machine on the water is a whole NEW thing.

We started out the day slowly, getting up to the boat around 10 am. Dory was excited from the get go, packing the car, making a couple of stops picking up bait, gas and ice.

When we arrived at Winter Island park where we keep the boat Chris unloaded our supplies and Dory and I headed over to the rocky, lighthouse side beach front. This is usually not too populated and great entry way for dogs as it is a gentle slope into the water.

Dory seemed cautious at first so I steamed ahead into the water - it was very warm by New England standards. Dory on leash crept in as a cheerily called her name and gently sprinkled her with water. Let's just say she needs to work on her style and form, but she was definitely swimming. There were a few women enjoying the shore and watching our antics. The marveled at Dory's bravery and all gave her a congratulatory pat. They asked about her and I told them she was was rescue dog, and said what a great experience it had been working with the Lab Group.

For a Southern girl she did just fine. Our next challenge was going down to the floating docks.

Winter Island has an aluminum drop down ramp to the docks and even for the sure footed it can be a challenge when wet, rough seas or low tide. Dory was a champ and scooted right down. Once on the dock I saw a familiar face - a boat called "Makin' Waves" and their large Old English Mastiff. He is very cute and always out with his people. Dory said "hi" and then sat down with me to wait for Chris to bring the boat around.

While we were waiting a couple of women with a gaggle of young girls came by - they all wanted to pet Dory and she willingly obliged. The youngest looked to be about five and kept waving to Dory saying "good by Dory, good bye" as the boat she boarded pulled away.

Amazingly Dory was not afraid of crafts pulling up to the dock and actually board the boat as Chris stepped off to tie the dock lines. I guess she figured if it was good enough for him - it was safe for her.

Anxious at first, but she settled right in. We checked our lobster pots (traps for you non-NewEnglanders) and then headed over to children's Island Rock - right off of Children's Island in Salem Sound. Dory loved peering over the rail and enjoyed watching all the seagulls dive and swoop. The bait was a mystery to her - she kept sniffing it but fortunately did not try to eat it! Herring makes great Striper bait but smells and is very oily.

She marveled as Chris and I cast out over and over again and was very interested in our catches as we brought the keepers on board - three in all on the day out of a total ten caught (Liza 3, Chris 7).

As we rapped up our big adventure we took the boat over to the docks off Beverly Harbor. There is a quiet corner that is great for boat washing and as we made our way down the channel and through the harbor it was great to see people point, smile and wave at Dory as we chugged through the water. For some reason people love to see dogs on the water and what is cuter than a Lab in a neon life vest peering over the gunwall of a boat!

All in all the day was a success. Dory seemed to like the boat and we can be confident next time we go out in the boat.

On the Menu at Casa Liza tonight - Atlantic Striped Bass and rice with asparagus unless you are wearing a fur coat - then you are having Lamb & Rice kibble.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I'll be in PRINT!!

One of my postings is called Labs4Rescue Article - I finally submitted this article to my local paper and I got the email today they will be going to print with it around August 25, 2006!!!

How cool!!!!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Labs4Rescue article

It’s a sunny warm August day and the commuter park and ride lot off of Route 93 looks pretty much like any other boring piece of asphalt. What is unusual about this day is it is transport day and individuals and families are milling around and anxiously awaiting the trailer that will bring dogs, all eagerly awaiting to start new lives in new homes with loving families.

Most of these people, like me chose to adopt a “rescue dog” instead of buying a puppy. Some adopt because work and family schedules make it tough to adopt a puppy, some feel it is important to save these dogs from rural Southern and mid-Western high-kill shelters and some just love dogs and want to do a good deed.

When my Labrador Retriever Emily passed away this spring, I was, like many long time pet owners, devastated. She was twelve and had developed a fatal heart condition, and even though I know she had led it a good life and had been a great companion, it truly did not ease the pain. I missed the sound of her tags jingling as she moved around and it was very sad coming home each day to an empty house.

It was at this point I began surfing the Internet and I was surprised to find what seems like millions of homeless and needy pets all just begging for a good home. Shelters near and far had websites and there were countless breed specific rescue groups. I was entering a whole new and often heart wrenching realm.

I read books and articles and finally settled on working with a Labrador Retriever rescue group, there are several reputable groups in the New England area and I ultimate began working with Labs4Rescue based out of Killingworth, Connecticut. Labs4Rescue is an outstanding group of volunteers working from Tennessee to all over New England who are committed to giving Labradors and Lab mixes a second chance in loving homes.

Some Labs are surrendered but most come from high-kill shelters in the South and Mid-West. Before Labs4Rescue volunteers post dogs for adoption they make sure the dog is healthy and happy. The dogs undergo a veterinarian screening and are spayed/neutered and then they are placed in foster homes where they are assessed for temperament and behavior. All the dogs are vaccinated, received heartworm and flea prevention and are treated for any prevailing health conditions. Before fostering or adoption takes place a volunteer goes to the home of the prospective family to make sure they have the proper space for the dog and asks them critical questions to make sure that a rescue dog adoption is the right choice both for the family and the animal they adopt or foster.

After I filled out an online form and paid my $15 non-refundable fee, I combed through the endless profiles on their web pages to find the right match. Each dog had a photo or two and usually a story that would bring a tear to even the toughest guy’s eye. It was sometimes overwhelming and at times just down right depressing. I had concerns about adopting a dog I had never met, but those fears were eased after my first phone call.

Shortly after submitting my application I started to get phone calls and emails from the volunteer coordinators for the dogs that I had indicated I was interested in. I discovered that each dog has a person who coordinates its foster care, transportation and ultimate adoption. These volunteers were polite, knowledgeable, supportive and truly wanted to help me find just the right dog.

Labs4Rescue has put in place a “foster to adopt” process that allows families to foster their prospective dog for two weeks before they have to commit to the adoption, if the dog is not the right match, the group works to find a better match for the dog and the family fosters the dog until that happens. Families can either choose to find another dog or have their adoption fee refunded.

When I finally picked the perfect candidate, a three-year-old female black Labrador Retriever, there was a whirlwind of paperwork and emails. The dog I finally selected was an owner surrender, the couple was divorcing and the dog was too much trouble. The Labs4Rescue coordinator told me that when they went to get her they found out she had been tied up outside and sleeping under the porch in the dirt. She had skin and coat issues and had never been spayed. Labs4Rescue picked her up, put her in a loving foster home, had her spayed and got her back to good health. Upon hearing her story, I was sold, she sounded like a dog how could use a good friend.

I sent in my $350 adoption fee and anxiously awaited her arrival. I was like a mother-to-be with a list of things to do and buy. Since my last dog had been older she didn’t need a crate, so I had to get a new one, I wanted to make sure the new dog had the proper food and would have not only Emily’s old toys but some new ones as well. I started investigating obedience classes and made an introductory appointment for the new dog with my veterinarian.

Finally the day arrived, I drove up on a beautiful Saturday afternoon waiting with over dozen other adults and children for the transport trailer to arrive. As each furry friend was brought off the truck, people broke out into smiles and happy voices. There were children frolicking with excitable puppies and young dogs and adult dogs with trepidation gently greeting new owners. The driver smiles as he hands off each dog and their information packet to the adopters.

I’m not sure how each of the dogs have fared in their new home, but I can tell you there is a 3 year old Lab who now enjoys lounging around the house on one of her several doggie beds and has recently discovered the joy of swiping a slice of pizza off the counter when no one is looking. We have some work to do together, I have just signed us up for obedience classes this fall, but from the first day she has been a great dog.

I decided to call her Dory, and she doesn’t have to sleep under a porch anymore or worry about someone giving her up because it is convenient, she has a home for the long haul and I have a beautiful new companion.

If you think rescue adoption for you I highly recommend it. If you are looking for a breed specific rescue group check out the American Kennel Club website at and click on the Future Dog Owners tab for a link to rescue groups. If you are interested in learning more about Labs4Rescue, check out their website at or contact them at PO Pox 955, Killingworth, CT 06419. Their slogan is “Save a Lab, have a friend for life!”

Liza's "Marley and Me" - website posting

Surfing around Labrador Retriever sites has become my obsession lately, but I will get into that later. I bought Marley and Me for my mother’s birthday, and ended up reading it myself before ensconcing it in birthday wrap. As an adult it is always a challenge to get something for the parent who has everything, but as a long time “Labrador Retriever Family” the story seemed like a perfect fit.

My parents had Labs before they ever thought of having me and from my perspective I’ve lived with a never-ending cast of Labrador characters. In the early years my parent did a bit of back yard breeding and enjoyed field trials at the amateur level. In my early childhood the house was filled with all kinds of Labs, big goofy ones to small gentle ones. They were my friends and protectors, my playmates and confidants.

During the early years I loved all the Labs, Goldens and Chessies my parents and their friends had around. I even amazed my poor grandparents who were babysitting had all but given up getting one of our dogs in their crate – they pushed, they prodded and cajoled to no avail. They were clearly flustered when, as family lore goes, my small preschool voice said “KENNEL UP” and promptly our hulking 100-pound dog Wag hopped right into the crate.

As I got older I begged to be given a dog of my own, I daydreamed of cuddling up with a Lab all my own, showing her off to friends and having a private playmate of my own. Finally when I was 12 my parents relented and I got my very own black Labrador who I named “Derby City Gillie” or Gillie to her family and friends.

Right from the start she was as you termed it a “saint” dog. Gillie was smart, patient pretty and devoted. She was my responsibility and I took great pride in that. I trained her to retrieve birds and took her to local small field trials, I participated in 4-H obedience classes and took her to dog shows.

Our crowning achievement, at least in my eyes back then, was winning 4-H Communications Day at the state level. My demonstration topic, How to Train Your Dog, a simple theme made only more impressive by the fact that I babbled on for the first 6 minutes, flipping poster board charts around while Gillie calmly and patiently remained silently sitting while waiting to show off her fancy obedience knowledge. To this day I feel sure that it was not the content of my speech but more the conduct of my dog that helped us take home the prize.

Gillie had an easier life as I edged into the later teenage years, there was less working and more consoling to do. There were boys taking more of my time and breaking my heart, moving to a new high school and fears that I would never make new friends – all of which were eased by a loving wet tongue and warm fur to cry into. Gillie was confused when I went off to college, and according to my mother would hear the school bus go by and start to look for me.

Gillie remained a part of our family for 14 years and one day she just took a turn for the worse and our family vet came over and helped her on to her final peace. When I got my mother’s call I was devastated, I could barely remember a time without her and couldn’t bear to think of the world without her.

As they say time heals all wounds and life goes on. I’ve been lucky enough to have several dogs in my life since Gillie’s passing, Lucy and Fox the golden retrievers and most recently Emily.

Lucy was just the second dog I ever owned, a gift from family friends she is everything a golden should, sweet, loving and devoted. At one point I decided to adopt a second dog and along came Fox, another golden retriever. Fox had belonged to an older gentleman who could no longer care for her and she was a senior dog by the time she came to live with us but was a joy to have around. She had a happy few last years and shortly after Fox’s passing I had the opportunity to adopt another adult dog, enter Emily the black Lab.

Emily belonged to a breeder who was a friend of the family. She had recently been diagnosed with a thyroid condition and our friend Nancy wasn’t going to breed her anymore so she was looking for a home for Emily. Lucy and I missed Fox and I had known Emily since puppy hood so it seemed a perfect match.

Emily joined the family and definitely could be considered another “saint” dog. She loved coming to the Head Start preschool program I ran, she loved people, dogs and puttering in the garden. When I decided to move to Boston I could only bring one dog with me, so Lucy retired to the country to live with my mother and Emily and I moved on to brave the big city.

Emily, like Gillie was my confidant, consoler and companion. She adjusted well to urban life and made friends everywhere she went. She sat for endless hours at my feet while I furiously finished my doctoral dissertation and spent boundless hours frolicking on north shore beaches in the roar of the Atlantic Ocean.

In May 2006 I lost one of the loves of my life, Emily Jean Young. We had spent eight years together but it had seemed more like a lifetime of days. Emily was diagnosed just before her twelfth birthday with canine dilated cardio-myopathy – heart disease for which there is no cure. I tried to make her last days as comfortable as possible, but finally on Memorial Day, May 29, 2006 just five days after turning 12 years old, she could no longer walk, her heart chambers were leaking and she was having trouble breathing. I did the only thing I could, I took her to the animal hospital, held her furry face in my hands and told her how much she was loved as they gave her the injection to put her to sleep.

I had never been with a dog that was put to sleep before, all our previous pets had either passed away in their sleep or my mother had handled all the final arrangements. This was new and terrifying territory for me. Emily looked at me the entire time and then just simply closed her eyes and let out a soft sigh.

I know it was the right thing to do, but I would have traded anything even just for a few more days with her. The house is quiet now, even though I know she is gone I still find myself listening for her soft snoring or the jingle of her tags and only hearing silence.

I said in the beginning that surfing the Internet for Labrador Retriever sites has been my obsession and it is true. Not one to be without a dog, I surfed the web and looked into rescue groups who specialize in Labrador Retrievers. I selected a group that does great work and has super volunteers – Labs4Rescue.

I have applied to Labs4Rescue and eagerly await the arrival of a new black Lab girl, just three years old, who is arriving new weekend. I thought about a puppy, but there seem to be so many lovely dogs in rescue programs that need good homes, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I have a lot of plans for my new Lab, but first and foremost all I want to do is hug her and let her know she has found a forever home – I think Emily would approve.

Thank you for your book, it helped me realize I’m not the only one who takes the lost of a beloved dog hard. You adventures with Marley had many parallels with Lab stories my family and friends all have. It was a great read and a nice way for me to start putting closure to my loss as well.

Rule Britannia

I'm tired lately, not the slightly sleepy tired, or I've been busy tired - a down to the bones tired and I don't know why.

I clearly remember as a kid never being tired - it seemed as if we all were on autopilot as kids, the days swiftly melding into months and years. I want to be that kid again and I want the tired to just stop.

Last night on the news they were talking about how much US employees work. It was pretty clear from the tone the correspondent blamed technology - pagers, phones, email and texting keeping us too connected - but I don't buy that. I have a cell phone that never, well rarely, rings. I have a Palm pilot - and all I do with it is use it as an overpriced appointment calendar.

The news spot said the French get on average 39 days of leave, the Brits 24 and drum roll please the US 12. I say we mount a new revolution - we want Britain to be great again and take us back. I mean normally I would say lets all go to France - but frankly those folks are too grumpy, pompous and kinda gross - I'm thinking 39 days may be a few days too much.

Imagine, going back to the English fold! We could get rid of the Bush family and begin royalty bashing. We could get great holidays like the Queen's birthday off - which honestly isn't even her real birthday. How cool. And all our vacations would be referred to as breaks or going on holiday! I could be my own Bridget Jones!!

Well, I'm not feeling any less tired, but I am invigorated by the thought of becoming a loyal subject of the crown. Is anyone with me on this?? Don't forget - if we start this re-revolution we also get to start driving on the left side of the road too!!!!

Monday, August 14, 2006


My Emily Jean Young.... May 24, 1994-May 29, 2006

Ode to Emily Jean

I must confess I don’t take loss well and when my dog Emily, a twelve year old Labrador, had to be put to sleep on Memorial Day, 2006 I was just devastated. Emily, gray fur, bad breath and all was the last remnant of my old life before moving to the Boston area. Basically she was a smoochy, living, breathing piece of what I call home, even after six years of living here.

Truth be told I really didn’t even do much with Emily, she was old and I was wrapped up in getting my dissertation done. The world just kept going and Emily and I fell into a complacent groove. No I don’t by any stretch of the mind mean to say I didn’t love Emily, I very much did, but what I did do was take her for granted.

I never knew until she was gone how much I loved coming home to a happy dog, it made the house seem less empty and my life seem less pointless. I didn’t realize that I would miss all the little things, small things, silly things when you say it out loud – like her tags jingling. That jingle was part of the everyday of my life and suddenly with Emily’s passing there was silence.

I also very much missed the routine and responsibility of a dog. The daily up, out to the yard, have some breakfast, pat the dog kind of thing I did without thought each day. I also used Emily now and again to get me out of things, “oh I have to go home and feed/walk/take care of the dog”. I missed the responsibility of caring for another living being that in return gave me nothing but unconditional love and reverence.

This past Friday I finally found a suitable “box” for Emily’s ashes. Emily and I will forever have a deeper bond than any other dog because she was my first. Not my first dog, not by a long shot, but she was the first dog I ever had to put to sleep. All my dogs in the past had died in their sleep or my mom had handled “final arrangements” for. I was there cupping Emily’s beautiful head in my hands as she silently looked at me, closed her eyes and drifted off to her final sleep.

I was so disconsolate about her loss.

They only way I knew to handle it was to start looking for another dog, not a replacement but another dog who needed a good home and a loving mistress to spoil them. At times I wish I had gotten a puppy, nothing is more fun than a Lab fur ball, but then again nothing is more work than an 8-12 week old puppy, and right now I just couldn’t manage that. So I did the right thing and adopted and have since fell hopelessly in love with Dory. It was a rough road to find her – but that is a story for another day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bad News Redux

I woke up today with a raging headache only to be greeted by choas on the news.

The was our Govenor explaining how unsafe the world is and that the Massachusetts National Guard was no going to be protecting us at the airport.


I wish I could believe that, but there is no way we can be protected. If violence or terror will happen - it will happen. Today I am just staying home, curling up with my "puppy" and a good book.

And Dory - well she is always up for a good cuddle. We could learn from dogs - hell life would be simpler if I were a dog.