bedlam farm

On Knowing When It’s the Right Dog for You

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I’ve been watching with great interest as my favorite author, Jon Katz and his dear artist wife, Maria of Bedlam Farm have been searching for a new dog to bring into their lives.

The breeder they hoped to get a pup from was taking longer than usual, the dog not going into heat when they’d hoped. They considered adopting, but had a bad experience visiting a shelter over the weekend.

But then something prompted Jon to reach out to the woman who had given him his border collie, Red. As fate would have it and the stars aligned, they knew when they saw the pup with one blue eye that she was the one.

And get this….her name is Fate. I think they need no other clearer signs than this. It was meant to be.

It brought up the times this has happened to me. How it is when you just know. While at times I’ve been anxious for a new dog after one has passed, I believe that it has to feel right—that there is this connection that is undeniable.

At least this is how it works for me. It made me think again about Gidget and how I found her. Or perhaps I should say she found me? But likely once again everything aligned and we were supposed to be together.

When I saw her face and those telling eyes, after looking at hundreds of dachshunds, I felt that familiar tingle in my heart. She was the one.

While I had passed over many sweet and adorable, and most likely great dogs, I couldn’t stop looking at Gidget and found myself getting lost in her eyes. She drew me into her being. I couldn’t stop thinking about her.

It just brings me back to how connection is so important—for both you and your new dog.

Each day our love for each other deepens. I learn new things because of Gidget. I’m learning to step into and own more of my belief’s.

She is the one. And while I don’t know what the future holds, I take one day at a time, soaking in all the love that she is. And I thank all the stars in the universe for lining up in just the right way that brought her to me.

Jon’s post about what happened during a shelter visit in Vermont is worth reading. I was saddened to learn that some animal shelters are now using a process for adopting pets out that seems cold and impersonal for both the person and the dog.

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I Want to Be the Female Version of Jon Katz

Kylie on the path behind our house

As many of you know who follow me here on my blog, my all time favorite blog and author is Jon Katz– no kidding, right?

Sometimes I wish I were him. But in a way I guess I am.  We both like to write. We both like dogs and animals.  We both enjoy trying to just enjoy the simple moments and joys of life. He is (well) known as Bedlam Farm.  I am (not as well) known as Joyful Paws.

So let’s see.  He lives on a farm in NY. I live in a little cottage style home in WI. He has three dogs. I currently have one. He has three donkeys, many chickens, a few barn cats, and sheep.  I’m really short in all those departments I’m afraid to say.  But I do have wild birds and hummingbirds.  Lots of bunnies.  Some squirrels and the occasional woodchuck.  Even had a Sand hill Crane family in my backyard last summer.

Everyday he walks his three dogs on a path on his property. Though that will soon change and a new path will be forged at his new farm house. I walk Kylie on the path behind our house when it is not too hot– which hot it has been most of the summer so far– so not much path walking has gotten done.  And to this day she still is not the most enthusiastic walker- never was, and I suspect she never will be.  I’ve accepted that about her.

I may not have all the animals and life that Jon Katz has, but I know enough to find happiness in what I do have. It is all a matter of choice, afterall. It is where I am in this moment at this time and I’m pretty happy and content.  When I need a donkey or farm fix, I get lost in Jon’s blog.  But for the most part I really do give thanks for the simple, sweet life I’ve carved out here with my supportive and loving husband, John. I feel a wee bit short in the dog department right now, too, but that will hopefully change as I continue to move forward.  Though as promised to John, not until after our fall trip to Vermont.  Hey, maybe I’ll run into Jon Katz and his wife, Maria there as I know they like to escape there, too.  Now wouldn’t that be something?

So I’ve decided, yes, Jon is great and I love learning from him about his writing and his life. I take it and sift it and adapt to what is right for me. So I guess this then means I would just rather stay me. Yup- I like me and I like my life.  It has been something I’ve worked hard on the past ten years and wouldn’t trade where I’ve come to the place of mostly peace and acceptance about who I am and what I do have. Life is good.


For the Love of Donkeys

Donkeys sometimes get a bad rap. Some people think they are stubborn and unaffectionate. Until I started following author Jon Katz who writes about life on his farm with his three donkeys, I thought the same thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I learned about donkeys, I discovered how affectionate and loveable they really are. So began my love, and sometimes obsession, for donkeys. My hope is that maybe someday I can have one. And who knows, maybe one or two are in my future.

Imagine my delight when I heard about a donkey farm in Greenbush. I first learned about the farm when I saw a darling little white van-type vehicle driving west onto Highway 23. Logoed on the side of the car was “Luv Em All Donkey Farm.” I about broke my neck twisting it far to the left as it sped by.  One thing led to another as I did some research on the internet. I discovered they offer tours to meet the donkeys. On a warm summer day in August, my friend Julie and her two year old daughter Lyla, agreed to take along this big kid (me), and we were off to the farm.

Susan and Brian Kilton are the proud owners of four miniature donkeys named Elliot, Rocky, Ferrari and Sidekick. Elliot is chocolate in color and was the first one to win his way into Susan’s heart when she saw him at Villa Loretto nursing home in Mount Calvary.  They have many farm animals on hand to use as therapy pets with their residents, as well as a free petting zoo for the public. Rocky is grey and was the next to come along from Johnson Creek Wisconsin. Then there is Ferrari, who is named after the car because of his red coat.  Last, but certainly not least, is Sidekick, who is the youngest of the adorable brood at one and a half.  All the other donkeys are two years old.

Though we arrived somewhat unannounced because I misunderstood the information on the flyer, Susan was very gracious in giving us a mini tour. We were able to feed and pet the donkeys. She had a group coming out soon that she needed to prepare for. That is when I learned about the extremely generous kind spirit that Susan is. Having donkeys and using them as therapy animals for special needs kids and adults, as well as the elderly, has been a dream of Susan’s. She explained that miniature donkeys are the perfect size because they are easier to handle and are wheelchair accessible.

Hearing the passion in her voice tugged at my heart strings not only because I do therapy work with my disabled dog, Frankie, but being a writer, this was a story right up my alley. I quickly explained this to Susan and said, “I’d love to write a story about the donkeys when a group visits.”  It just so happened a group was coming out the following Wednesday, and my calendar was open. I could hardly stand the anticipation of seeing the donkeys in action doing their therapy work.

When Wednesday arrived, it was the first day in a long time with no humidity. A few clouds were high in the sky as I drove out to the farm. It was mid morning and I was anxious to see the donkeys once again, and meet the group that would be visiting from Paragon Community in Plymouth.

Elliot, Rocky, Ferrari and Sidekick were all out in the corral as two vans from Paragon drove up. Everyone’s face lit up as they saw the donkeys. With the help of the staff they settled into chairs set up in front of the corral. One young lady, decked out in a felt pink hat with purple trim, her arms crossed in front of her, boldly claimed, “I am not going to talk today!”

The donkeys were out in the middle of the field, viewing from afar, their curious visitors as Brian welcomed their special guests. He then opened the gate and went into the corral. He held up a covered bucket and told everyone it contained a treat. As he shook the bucket, the treat rattled loudly which made the donkeys trot over to check it out. As he set the bucket on the ground, the job of the donkeys was to take the cover off.  Sidekick did it in no time at all and is known as the pro.  But being a pro can have its down side as Rocky quickly gobbled up the treat inside. This, of course, made everyone laugh.

Often times from my own experience doing therapy work with Frankie, there are what I call “golden moments.” This is when a deep connection happens between animal and human. Often no words are spoken, but you can just feel that something magical is happening. I was hoping I would experience at least one golden moment as Brian and Susan brought two donkeys out of the corral to mingle with the guests.

Everyone took turns petting, feeding and brushing Rocky and Sidekick. Giggles were plentiful, as well as, the smiles on many of their faces were priceless. The young lady who was adamant that she would not talk that day began to chatter up a storm as she was feeding the donkeys treat after treat.

One young man, Mike eagerly asked Susan if he could hold Rocky’s lead. As she handed it to him he seemed to grow taller in his stance.  He looked so proud as he walked Rocky around the yard.

As I glanced over toward the gate of the corral, I caught my golden moment. Junior, who is in a wheelchair, had a brush in his hand, and was lost in a world of serenity as he slowly brushed Sidekick back and forth. It was if the world around him had disappeared and he and Sidekick were communicating on a special level of their own. Watching them, I felt transported to a place of complete acceptance and peace.

An hour later, everyone climbed back in the vans, smiling from ear to ear, and their hearts full of donkey love.

After the group left, Susan, Brian, and I sat on the porch and talked. We agreed that it is in those golden moments that life brings us our greatest lessons. The donkeys remind us to take time to enjoy the simple pleasures and nature. But most of all they remind us to love each other no matter what.

Bedlam Farm Donkeys (how my obsession began)