Bark for Peace!
musings & ramblings, mostly about dogs, from a three being, three species family

Bark for Peace!

Bark for Peace! and The Green Dog Lounge

November 30th, 2007 . by blogadmin

Calling all great and groovy, peace hopin’, local shoppin’ dogs and their dog lovin’ peeps in the Austin area!


Join us for the all local, all sustainable, all good, all, eco, all fun Sustainable Shopper’s Ball tomorrow! We’ll be there from 9am-2pm @ Toney Burger Center, alongside the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market.

Bark for Peace! will have our delicious award winning treats, in new larger size bags (still 100% biodegradable/compostable)!

We’ll also have fair-trade boiled wool toys, hemp toys made in the US, jingle bells made from land mine shells, dog tags hand-hammered from recycled aluminum, clip-on safety lights, organic shampoos, soaps on a hemp leash, all natural supplements, hemp and recycled plastic tote bags, organic cotton sweatshop free t-shirts and 100% biodegradable/compostable gift boxes to wrap it all up!

Bark for Peace! is joining our good friends at Verysupercool in sporting our new fantastic feature- the world’s first Green Doggie Lounge. In the lounge we’ll have lots of cool, fresh, filtered water with rescue remedy and cell food for natural de-stressing, along with samples of our super fantastic Bark for Peace! treats you can eat with your dog!

Throughout the day the lounge will feature: first aid demos, dog training tips, rescue and hospice info, safety stickers, and paw signings! Plus, we’ll be collecting gently used blankets and towels to support the amazing work at Animal Trustees of Austin.

Come out and join us and start the holiday season with a sustainable smile! The entire event is Dog, In-law, Kid, and Date Friendly! woof!woof!

Her barking is no more…

November 25th, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

The cascade of feelings is just that. Words are doomed to fail at these times, at least for me. They’ll be plenty of them later, I’m certain.

For now, I am posting a simple announcement:
At 4:48 pm. yesterday afternoon, FORD reached for a final breath of earthly air and collapsed peacefully into my arms for the last time. When I burst into shaking sobs over her lifeless body, Clementine, who was on the bed with us, came over quickly and with a worried glance, began lovingly licking away my tears. I smiled and thanked her. Her silly antics are balm to my sad soul.

I spent a few short/long minutes trying to realize FORD’s death. Why is it that even when we are so prepared (we think) and so aware (we suppose) we are still (inevitably?) taken by the shock and surprise of a body no longer animated? I gently clothed FORD’s tiny 20 lb. shell in her burial gown- a Bark for Peace! organic t-shirt, rosemary sprigs- transplanted from my late brother David’s yard, and the first organic towel I ever purchased, with which I swaddled her.

Dave made delicious fresh guacamole, and we drank a nice bottle of pinot (Siduri, our fav) with fresh Boggy Creek Farm greens and spicy mixed olives here on the bed- FORD’s swaddled corpse laid sweetly between us. We propped Dave’s laptop on some floor pillows and watched movies as a three dog family for the last time.

FORD’s on her bed now, on the floor beside our bed, her velvet ears still soft for snuggling. Bounce had not approached her until we put her there. Obviously, he needed his own time and space. We watched from a distance as he slowly sniffed and circled, confirming for himself her demise. Clementine intermittently puts herself on watchguard duty from the edge of the bed overlooking FORD, gazing down upon her with an expression that seems steady and deep, yet almost unsure that what she is seeing is true, final. FORD had become the living canid example of Mark Twain’s infamous quote: “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”- how are we to accept that this is no longer true? Only time will burn the pain of reality through us, her miraculous and legendary death dodging years are now over.

I am grateful beyond expression for her life and love, her faithfulness, her relentlessness, her love of life and adventure and her impatient insistence on justice- now! And I am grateful that we were able to stay with her and allow her what she wanted, to live until her body could no longer support her life. She will be buried on the ranch in January.

She taught us every moment of every day. I know we will always be learning from her. And I would be so pleased if you have a story or memory to tell that you would do so here on the blog, for others to hear.

Her voice is no more in this realm, and my heart has a gaping whole. But I have no doubt FORD is always with us, and will be barking for peace like she taught us- forever, in heaven.
She has passed her torch. Once again, Wisdom has made way for Youth.

Wisdom and Youth
Wisdom and Youth
FORD & Clementine
July 2006, Engineer Pass- 12,000 feet elevation- southern Colorado

Sustainability x 2

November 23rd, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

My good friend, Verysupercool Sue, and I met for dinner the other night at one of our favs- the vegan, organic, macrobiotic haven Casa de Luz.
Casa de Luz

(and yes, for you omnivores out there- it’s delicious!) We chowed down on roasted garlic and califlower soup, salad, greens, pintos and brown rice, gorditas and YUMMY SPICY avocado salsa!! uuuummmmmm……

Sue and I often “talk shop.” Since we both have local, eco, dog businesses, we have a lot in common! We’re both trying to be as light as possible with our carbon pawprints, trying to do business a little less destructively and a little more constructively. Bascially, we’re working out what it means to have a sustainable business, which is always a work in progress.

As we were discussing our efforts to do and be ecologically sustainable in business and in life, we turned the term onto its other edge- the alternative interpretation of sustainability- economic sustainability. Just as a practice (farming, for instance) won’t continue to exist if it is not sustainable, a business won’t continue to exist if it is not (eventually) sustaining itself economically.

Blogging is something we were encouraged to do to help get the word out about our businesses. We can process “out loud” so to speak, about the small choices we make that cost more in the short run, but we believe are more economica,l as well as ecological, in the long run. In other words, it’s affordable advertising! Maybe that’s part of economic and ecological sustainability!

Asfor today, our household has committed to join “Buy Nothing Day” (no gifts, no gas, no food, no video rentals, no laundry soap…) which as one pointed out- isn’t good for much of anything if it changes our habits for only a day. Still, it’s something, and a great way to start the holiday season in a more contemplative manner.
Happy Buy Nothing Day

November Blessing

November 22nd, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

I start almost all my prayers with “Thank you for the gift of life, and the gift of this day”- and usually I mean it, though I don’t always feel it. I do think that there’s something to what John Wesley said about preaching (forgive my sloppy paraphrase), “Preach it ’til you believe it!”
Today, I mean it and I feel it.

Austin hit 89º degrees yesterday, obnoxious, as well as miserable, in my opinion- not that anyone asked.
But last night the cool front blew in, with 50 mile an hour gusts, and with it came breathing and clarity and a reduction in joint achiness for me. I am most grateful!

The cranberry relish is in the fridge and the gluten-free, organic, vegan dressing is in the oven- smells like heaven! Our cousin dogs, Jeb and Millie,
Jeb and Millie

are perusing the backyard. Clementine is keeping her distance, unsure and acting wary.
We are breathing, moving in the crisp Autumn air, grateful to be alive and together.

Bless the beans,
Bless the bread,

Bless the puppies
being fed,

Bless all those
so dear to us,

Keep them safe
and near to us.

Bless Us All book cover

(Cynthia Rylant, Bless Us All- A Child’s Yearbook of Blessings)

And may those far away, and those longing for food, shelter, companionship
find peace and a friend as we work toward justice and live out our hope for shalom.
woof!woof! l, F & C

Regarding Usefulness

November 20th, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

My good friend John called tonight. Actually he called the other morning at 3:30am which caused me to roar with laughter, once I realized there was no emergency and he just wanted to gab. John is a philosopher which makes for intriguing conversations.
<p>Dave & John, August 2007 in Ft. Collins, CO.

He asked how FORD was doing. (She is sleeping soundly now.)
I had cancelled my evening plans at the last minute- I was supposed to join a focus group for 2 women writing a book- when she awoke and seamed restless. I couldn’t bear the possibility that her restlessness might increase into duress without me there to take care of her, and intervene if necessary. So, I called, apologized, and cancelled. Then I crawled into bed and snuggled up to spoon her, rubbed her tiny tummy and we dozed into a lovely nap!

A couple of hours later, John called and we began processing the latest scenarios of our lives.

I had been thinking, once again, about this life and the value of it. Who determines one’s value- the self or the other? Do we make that determination based on power, fear, or love? Is the value of a life renegotiated, especially in instances of decline? If so by whom? Who gets to make the choices?

Much of this stems for reading a gem of a little book written by the late Chuck Meyers, A Good Death. In the book, Meyers presents research and testimony from his years as a hospital chaplain and workshop facilitator regarding the circumstances and desires of the dying. Meyers argues that the onslaught of medical technology has left us with what he calls “technological imperative”, which often serves technology better than it serves the patient. I think his point is well made, which is to say that in my observation and experience, I concur. It boils down to this: when asked, most people say they don’t want grandma or uncle billy to die without trying every procedure possible to “save” them, no matter what the cost- physical pain, emotional, or monetary. Yet when grandma or uncle billy are asked, they say they want to die at home, or in the garden, surrounded by those they love and without all sorts of tubes and monitors and rib cracking shock treatments. A good death. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Death of a dog can be more complicated, since there’s no advance directive that accepts a paw print for agreement.
But to paraphrase Patricia McConnell, PhD., there are times when it makes sense to anthropomorphize. If that is so- situations and circumstances around death must be one of them.

My friend’s ex brother-in-law was a straight and narrow, no-nonsense vet who used to tell his family, “When I start going downhill, treat me like your favoite horse. Shoot me and put me out of my misery.” Ironically, he spent the last year of his 62 on earth incapacitated from an inoperable brain tumor. He was stuck in bed unable to do anything to take care of himself, frustrated that he couldn’t speak, in pain from the cancer, suffering, and there was no way to end the misery.

I’ve often thought that there is truth to the statement that we are able to be more faithful and loving to companion animals than to other humans, when we are able to end their suffering with a mercy-filled, permanently sedating injection. I was sure, and have never doubted, that that was the case with Miss Maya who left this world that way in January 2004, while cradled in my tear speckled arms. Maya was running 2-3 miles a day on the ranch in Colorado until 3 days before her death.

But FORD is another story, another life. Both dogs chose to spend their time with me (how lucky I am to keep getting re-rescued!)

FORD and I long ago lost the rich life we once had: riding together in my Mazda pick-up, romping through mountains, deserts, production offices and film stages. She is my FORD Escort and my FORD Explorer only in memory now.

FORD is no longer useful in the way that she was for so long- she can’t crash a party with me and be the belle of the ball, protect me from drunken men staggering to the truck window at a red light, hike to the top of our favorite peak, or be the darling at the film shoot, or the coolest dog in the campground! She can’t really do anything useful. She sleeps. She eats and drinks. She eliminates. And she loves. She still licks my fingers when I wipe her eyes, she still burrows her head in my hand or against my leg, she still breathes with the rhythm of my breaths. She is.

I am daring, maybe foolish or stupid, to write about this as I won’t even discuss it with many people. There is a bias toward euthanasia that decides ahead of time and circumstance and without regard to individual character and situation what is the “humane” thing to do. (who determines “humane”? based on all the human depravity going on in the world today…) OR there’s a selfish insistance to “keep Fluffy alive, I can’t bear to lose her” which neglects the other and focuses only on the suffering self, the lover losing the beloved.

I am trying to find another way- our way, her way. I am endeavoring to be found faithful, by FORD, as her life winds down.

I can imagine that other beings (and I think that I am one of them) would not have worked so hard to be mobile (she was “supposed” to be paralyzed due to spinal cord compression- that diagnosis, via MRI, came over 3 years ago, while she was still herding cattle & hiking at 8-10,000 ft. el.). I can imagine that other beings (again, I think that I am one of them) might be too world and road weary to hang on for very long when multiple organ failure sets in (this happened in March). And I can imagine that I would want to die in Colorado- in the place that feeds my soul, not in the humidty and mold that aches my joints and clogs my sinus cavities. But I’ve never had the fire in my belly that FORD has in hers.

I had planned on FORD dying this summer- at the ranch. I had envisioned a pastoral denouement at sunset, at the beginning of our summer there. She would be buried next to Maya and Tory and we would cry and sing and toast her with champagne as the Canada Geese honked overhead. Then Clementine and I could hike and heal and I would be well into my next major relationship with a dog before returning to Texas in August. I had it all figured out. After all, I had a career as a coordinator. I do know how to be in charge!

But FORD wasn’t ready to die then and there. Againt all odds, and every prediction, she enjoyed a delightful summer of being taken to favorite spots along trails, peaks, streams, and campgrounds along with tottering about the ranch and even nipping a horse’s nose when he got too close! She revelled in being there- eating like a mad-dog, breathing in the crisp, clean mountain air and she remained bright, intent, and alive, very alive. Until the end- I stayed an extra week, which turned into three, and finally could no longer postpone coming back to Austin to prepare Bark for Peace! for the Texas State Fair. I thought she was gonna die while traveling cross country- which as one friend pointed out might not be the worst thing ever- we loved our road trips, they were always legendary.

We’ve been back in Austin for over two months now. Hospice- the compassionate care given at the end of life, continues. It’s about being useful to the other. No extraordinary measures, just companionship, good food and good company. Maybe that’s all we ever need.

This is hospice and hospice is about love.
I am going now to once again snuggle and share sweet dreams with her, my brave companion of the road…

Organic Art on the Eastside

November 18th, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

Weekends are for work, not rest, right? At least until January! That’s the way it works if you create something that people might purchase as a gift for any of the cultural and religious holidays celebrated in December, or if you sell anything that people might purchase…, or if you create and sell… (anyone remember Lloyd Dobler’s great “I don’t want to buy…” speech??) We baked Friday and Saturday and will cook sweet potatoes tonight- dehydrating happens next week.

For today, Clementine and I will be hanging around with the amazing artists (& their dogs) at Pump Project for the second day of the East Austin Studio Tour. I’ll be the one by the garage door and the Bark for Peace! table, happily knitting away on the organic baby blanket for my niece who will arrive in December!! Clementine will be the very, very long and very, very spotty drama queen slinking and slurking around, seducing all the men and grovelling before all the children! Oh, to be half the flirt she is!
crazy clem
It’s not really work afterall- it’s life, it’s art!

Texas Recycles Day!

November 15th, 2007 . by blogadmin

Recycle SymbolGreen

Although it’s the last three of The three R’s, it’s the one on which we focus today.

I’ve been a pretty obsessive recycler for almost 20 years. This means scenarios as simple and as benign as “wait, don’t throw that out! I’ll recycle it!” shouted at a pub or party, to the embarassing observation a good friend once offered of me during my life in LA: “if anyone ever needed a historical reference, they could just do an archaeological dig in your truck- you have every LA Weekly from the last five years!” (nice, huh???)

At Bark for Peace! we recycle the usual suspects (paper, glass, plastic, steel, aluminum, ink catridges, batteries, food scraps, blah, blah, blah…); we only turn over-and-out to the big boys that which we can’t RE-USE. So, we keep the boxes shipped to us filled with organic goodies: ingredients, soaps, shampoos, supplements, toys, t-shirts, tote bags, art, samples, etc. AND we keep the packing materials- people use all sorts of stuff and we faithfully re-use it when we make our outbound (carbon offset!) shipments!

This all sounds well and good and is ever so beautifully organized in the fantasy in my head! Of course, that involves an appropriately sized warehouse. Let’s just say that I can see it in my head, but it’s not in my house. Which means the Wonder Women and I have a fabulous opportunity to practice breathing and daily re-organizing (with three doogs underfoot, phones & faxes & emails ringing, deliveries arriving, people coming and going, and the occasional crashing- typically Clementine out the doggy door, or some waiting to be re-used packing/shipping materials no longer stacked precariously in the southeast corner of Bark for Peace! headquarters!!! Never a dull day around here.

Worth noting: (just for a start!)
HEB is giving free reusable totes in exchange for (5) plastic bags today- while supplies last

Know where your Trash Gets Dumped, particularly “e-trash”
•For an eye-opening exposé on what goes around, coming around-
it’s a small world afterall: Marketplace’s “our e-waste comes back to haunt us”
Take Back My TV (hint, buying Sony is usually a more sustainable choice, I know “they’re sooo expensive”- but cost is more than the amount on the price tag)

And not to be forgotten, an Austin treasure and national model is always open to take your recyclables and reusables (there’s a great book exchange in front of the office window): Ecology Action They take ALL SORTS of THINGS you can’t recycle curbside! HOORAY!!! Everyday IS Earthday! woof!woof!

Eating & Drinking

November 14th, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

One of life’s little pleasures, right?
Two night’s ago we had the pleasure of returning to an all time fav- Mother’s Café, which had been closed for several months (click on link for details). Mother’s resides in an old 7-11 convenience store, on the northeast coner of a 6 pack of eateries, in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin. I love Mother’s not only because I have multiple delicious, gluten-free, vegan meal options, but because it is one of those (sadly) rare vegetarian restaurants- the kind where I can take non-vegetarians and they exclaim “I can’t believe it- there’s no meat and it takes good!” DUH.

gathering mushrooms in southern Colorado
Aunt Evelyn’s dog, Lara-belle, takes a break while I pluck part of dinner from the lusty soil-July 2007 on the Hansen’s Mill trail to Wheeler Geologic Area

This summer we spent many meandering afternoons foraging for wild edible mushrooms, in the sprouting-from-rainy-season mountains circling the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. We tossed Puffballs into scrambled eggs, grilled the smoky King Boletes, made curry sauces from Hawk’s Wings, and devoured the sauteed Chanterelles simply by themselves! I am salivating now, just remembering those glorious forest-fresh meals! (plus, I haven’t eaten a thing since a midnight guacamole snack!)

Food is clearly more to us than a mere biological necessity. We love gathering, preparing, sharing, and EATING it! But biological necessity is something I hold before me as I live with my fading companion, FORD.

Our culture doesn’t live with Death very much. It seems we like it, and so many other things- war, for instance, to happen “away” from us. Wonder Woman Joanna and I were discussing this yesterday afternoon. Death rarely happens in person as it does in the movies- with a last gasp whisper of “I love you” before the camera backs away and the lifeless face blurs, while the strings softly plead their wails.

In most cases, Death is a process. FORD’s death surely is. Most friends and family have given up asking regularly, “How’s she doing today?” Nothing spectacular to offer from this end- she is fading, yet strong- she is FORD. More than a couple have said, either to me or around me, “maybe it’s time to ‘put her to sleep’”. I hate that phrase. Psychologists make the point that it can be very dangerous to use it with young children who might then be afraid to go to sleep since Fido did, never woke up, and got buried in the backyard.

I keep asking myself this question regarding FORD, and have counted on various wise voices in our lives along the way- Dave, Nancy, Rhi, Tim, Evelyn, Dr. Ma, Kendra, Sue, Brian and of course, our Marti. They all know FORD well, and love her well. And they all know determined she is and have continued to be amazed by her. Tim told us this summer that he was trying to tell his students at vet school about her, but then he said “there’s just no way to explain FORD, unless you know her.” I beamed, of course! That’s exactly how I think of her, and why I call her my greatest teacher. Like any great teacher, nothing replaces knowing her.

FORD teaches Clementine a thing or two about Elk legs
In the summer of 2006, FORD came across the alpine meadow, which wasn’t easy for her to do, to reprimand Clementine: “hunter’s leave Elk legs for us to chew on, not roll on!” (it took Clementine about a week to fiure this out!)

As we continue to discern whether or not FORD would be best served if we were to make a deciding intervention, we remember the biological necessity of eating and drinking. We observe her doing both with great enthusiasm, so we give her fresh water and her favorite foods, and we wait. Love abides…

Austin Allergies

November 12th, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

They are notorious- everything from cedar elm and grass, to ragweed, and of course the mold is always very, very high- nice.

Does the local news (if one should even call it “news”) in every city offer an allergy forecast? calls it the lcoal “PollenCast”, backlogs are the “Pollen Almanac”- my eyes are rolling (along with being red, burning, and swollen). Breathing is often hard work here, especially now that we have smog.

So FORD burrows.
This is new behavior. She began burrowing a few weeks ago, or was it a couple of months? I think it was around the time that she began really seeking out being held and cuddled. She likes to put her head under my hand, leg, or a pillow.

Early this morning, I awoke to loud lapping of water next to my head. Dave heard FORD wheezing and thought a cool drink of water might help. He was right! She had been wheezing yesterday afternoon and Cara said the ragweed was very high. FORD gave out several weak sneezes and I thought- this dog needs a netty pot!
(that’s a NYer cartoon, not a recommendation)

Between 5:19am and 8:45am there was only sporadic dozing, as FORD, cradled in my arms, struggled to breathe and relax. I discovered that soft, rhythmic strokes around her forehead and ears was no longer effective, which made me sad. I wanted to comfort her. Bounce and Clementine had moved closer- they looked on, quite worried. Bounce moved closer and smelled her- “…what’s going on? is she still alive?…” I think he needed to find out for himself. He has lost housemates before; I don’t know if Clementine has ever encountered death, or the dying.

I’ve heard dog trainers say that “nature takes over” and that youngsters will kill the infirmed; we’ve been advised to keep them separated when we’re not around, and we do. Natural or not, I can’t imagine anything worse than that scenario happening in our family, in our home.

But nature is not only brutal, nature can be kind and caressing. One of my favorite scientists (Marc Beckoff ) has studied some of the wonderful ways that non-human animals care-take, grieve, share, teach, and offer nursing to others. This morning, the youngsters were concerned and empathic, maybe scared- of course I can’t prove this, but after years of living with them, I am certain of it.

Eventually, I tried making soft circles on FORD’S bloated belly and, surprisingly to me, she melted back into me and received the sweet dreams and silent breathing of relaxation for which she surely longed. Peace be with us. For now, she burrows…She Likes to Burrow

Sabbath Stillness

November 11th, 2007 . by lisa knaggs

Technically, I don’t observe a Sabbath. Maybe in the loosest interpretations of the most unorthodox of practices, but no not really. I should, I know I should. But I have a start-up business, a birthing is in process!


I did begin the day in a slower way- snuggling w/ FORD and listening to “On the Media” and “This American Life”- two of the more thorough programs on NPR. Lingering in bed, I picked up my knitting. I am knitting a baby blanket (organic, or course!) for my new niece, due in December. She is the first child who will be born to my sister-in-law Rhiannon (my brother David’s widow) and her husband Bobby.

Leukemia stole David from us four years ago, right before Christmas. Decembers have been rough since then. Holidays not so happy. Celebrating the arrival of this precious bundle of joy cannot mask the pain of loss, nor override it, but new life meets that loss and its attending grief head on- with more information. Isabella will have a baby sister! We will have another one to cuddle and coo and nuzzle and serenade. Yet another reminder that death’s strong sting finds a capable opponent in life’s insistent retaliation, pleading for- if not commanding- Hope.

So, back to Sunday. I love how I can feel the subtle stillness- it is undeniable, yet not weighty. I can feel the slow all around me, having its way with me- guiding, calming, grounding, renewing. Spirit is present…

« Previous Entries