I write romantic suspense and warm, family relationship type novels, often with a touch of humor. Many of my books have featured animals as key players--dogs, cats, llamas, cockatiels, horses...even our son's pet albino corn snake, Sssssid, who appeared in my first Superromance back in 1999.

Animals have been a big part of my life since I was a child. How about you? I hope you'll become a "blog follower" here (see the right-hand column for a place to click) and will come back often. So...let's talk about our pets!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

VETERINARIANS and HORSE PILLS AND BAND-AIDS ...oh, my!



Pets--from tarantulas and snakes (thanks, Andy and Brian!) to rabbits, birds, dogs and cats--have been a big part of my life, with many, many other types of creatures thrown into the mix--but my favorites have always been the horses.

We live on ten rolling acres with lush green grass, shady trees, good fences. It's Horse Paradise not only for the good grass and safety, but for the fact that once a horse comes here, it stays until it grows old and dies. We now have a thirty-year-old smutty palomino, a snowy-gray twenty-year old, and a sorrel twelve-year-old who defines the word "easy keeper" (who is now spending his days in the diet lot--a corral where he has ample fresh water and a little grass hay, rather than the heavy grass out in the pasture. ) Oh--and there's another one out there, a horse we're boarding for free for a friend. She's the baby of the group, at eight.

Mature horses do have their moments, but by and large, it’s mostly a sedate group. So when Powder--the gray mare--came in for her morning pellets, I took one look at the way she was moving, did a double take, and reached for my cell phone to make the equine equivalent of a 911 call. She'd clearly kicked a leg through the woven wire fence out in the pasture, somehow managed to get caught in it, struggled, and did some serious damage: a good 2 inch by eight inch strip of hide completely ripped from the front of her back leg, exposing tendons and deeply lacerated tissues, plus a deep, horizontal slice across the anterior (inside angle) of her big hock joint. She'd also managed find a low, wet spot in the pasture and slog through the mud afterward, completely contaminating the wound.

When your kids get hurt, they cry. They might fuss over the clean-up process. Then they probably show off their badge of honor--a big Band-Aid--to everyone. Horses? Can't cry, of course, but you can sure see the tension--the fine, tight wrinkles under the eye and at the nostril, and the effort to avoid being touched where it hurts--though most of them are amazingly stoic. Not taking any chances, the vet wisely sedated her to clean the wound thoroughly, then he bandaged it....and now, I'll be re-bandaging it for at least the next two months, along with delivering oral antibiotics.

When people talk about a medicine tablet being so big "it's like a horse pill" one might assume that a horse would be willing to consume something that size. Good luck! You know the 800 mg size of Bactrim that your doctor might prescribe for you? She gets twenty of those tablets, divided into two doses. She'd never eat them, though. Bitter. Ewwww! So I dissolve them in water, add a lot of Karo syrup to sweeten the taste, then use a 60cc syringe (no needle, of course) to squirt it waaaay back in her mouth.

And the Band-Aids? Oh, my. This is horse leg owie, and there are seven different products on her leg now: an antiseptic, water-based cream, Telfa pads over that, then Kling gauze, Combi-Roll (like fluffy sheet cotton, but contained between denser layers) held by wrapping with Brown Gauze, then Vet Wrap, and then Elasticon at the top and bottom edges to help anchor the whole shebang. Whew! The funny thing? It had been so long since any of the horses here got hurt, that I hadn't looked at the museum-quality jar of antibiotic salve out in the barn for years. It out-dated in 1989! Needless to say, that one is the garbage. We'll be re-dressing it every three days for the first two weeks, then we'll keep the pressure bandage on it for a total of two months and not disturb it as much...we'll try to get five days out of each wrap. It has to be wrapped until the wound is closed, so we'll have our fingers crossed!

So....what do you think of Powder's fashionable, hot pink bandage?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yippeee!! Grandpuppy alert!!


I've got a picture!! We won't get to see the new grandpuppy for another week or so, but hearing about Abby's intelligence and great personality (of course, no one is biased!) has me eagerly awaiting her first visit. She is just eight weeks old, and has not had one accident in her first seven days of being a Big Girl away from the litter.

In comparison, our two-year-old Border Collie is still not dependable (sigh) even with a careful routine of kenneling and taking him outside! So, when he's in the house, he has to be with me in my office with the door closed, on a leash rather than running loose, or in his kennel. If anyone has any suggstions, I'm all ears!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Squirrels, puppies, and cats in the barn....














We have a new grandpuppy!! No pictures yet, but they'll be coming. Our son Brian just adopted a beautiful little black lab. Abby has the most adorable face--and I can't wait to meet her!

This past weekend I was trying to finish some book revisions. Working hard, chugging Diet Coke, I figured that with a few more hours, I'd have it all done. Then BLAM!!

Instantly, the power went off, and the two surge protectors in my office both started beeping madly. I didn't need to even look to know what had happened. Again. Yet another squirrel had bit the dust on the power line transformer out in front of our house.

Out here in the country, it doesn't take much to knock out the power. Suicidal squirrels--which seem to be present in a never ending supply. Windy days. Rain storms or ice storms, of course. The occasional raccoon that scales the fences and investigates one of the power substations. One small animal can sure cause a lot of trouble--though I also feel sorry for the one that bit the dust.

If the power outage is wide-spread enough, it can take a long time to get it back, and then I start to worry about our well. Are the horse water tanks full enough? Will I be able to run water for the barn cats?

The barn animals don't need an intercom to let me know that the water tank is low, or that they think it's time to be fed. Even from the house, I can tell. BANG-BANG-BANG is equine Morse Code for a low water tank--one of the horses will stand next to the tank and paw at it, then lift his head and look to see if anyone is coming.

If I'm a little late for morning chores, the horses line up at the gate and whinny if they see any movement up at the house, and the cats let me know, too. They line up in a row on the lawn like miffed sentinels, glare at the house, and then do their best to trip me by winding around my ankles when I do head for the barn. Which is a tad tricky, if I've run out there in my nightgown and barn shoes!

Maybe animals don't have words, but it's amazing how well they can communicate, and how they really do have more emotions than we give them credit for. I read a study done on pairs of dogs who were given a simple command, then rewarded. All went well--until the researcher started rewarding only ONE of the dogs. The unrewarded dog's response to the command not only ended very quickly, but the animal refused to even make eye contact with the researcher. Clearly, it was pouting!

How about your pets--are they more animal, or human?!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A dog with a mission


What a beautiful day! Brilliant sunshine, 72 degrees, bright blue sky. Here in the Midwest, it's so lush and green with all the rain we get here--a thousand different shades of green, fragrant with damp earth and just-cut alfalfa and lilacs. No matter where we travel, coming home to this verdant place fills me with such a sense of peace.

We live out in the country, and my office windows look out on our wood-fenced corrals and the pastures beyond, where the four horses are grazing, their new, summer-slick coats gleaming in the sunshine. Across the fence, four beautiful, wildly marked paint foals are romping in the neighbor's pastures--providing no end of amusement to our border collies, who are safely contained on our deck. Elmo, in particular, is a study in total concentration. Head low, ears pricked, body crouched, he stares at them for hours on end, his intensity deepening when they scatter (how dare they!) Our son Brian says we need to buy two sheep, so Elmo can spend his days keeping them together. He is a dog with a mission--but one without a job. His pal Harold, whose grinning pose appears in this post, is a border collie too, but his sole mission is to bark at cats.

Which got me thinking, this morning. Elmo knows what he is and what he needs to do. He never loses sight of that, even though he can't get close to anything he can herd. What about the rest of us...were you blessed with direction and determination from an early age? Have you followed through? Or have some of us come across our true desires later in life?

My daughter is already determined to be a writer. I have no doubt that she has the drive and ability, and that she can reach her goal if she stays on that course. I didn't start writing until we had grade-school aged children....and wish I'd started much, much sooner. How about you? What would you love to do? Have you followed your heart? Become what you want to be? Is there something you could do toward that goal now, even if it can't be achieved any time soon?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Baby Moose Playing in a Sprinkler

If you haven't seen this, you must!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNy9jTeolUk&feature=rec-HM-r2

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring!

Here's a touch of spring! At the black screen, drag your mouse across your monitor in all directions. For gardeners with a black thumb (like me) this is the easy way! http://www.procreo.jp/labo/flower_garden.swf

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Here's another blog to check out--thanks to Margaret Daly!

http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com/2009/05/roxanne-rustands-interview.html

Win a free book!

Check out the interview about my current release, Deadly Competition, and win a free book! The interview is running at: http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 4, 2009

Check this out!

I've just posted an interview with author Amy Wallace at my other blog site: www.shoutlife.com/roxannerustand. Check it out! Her new book is wonderful, and the interview is fascinating!
Roxanne