Friday, December 9, 2016

My annual Rottweiler Christmas Card project, (Part two)


Here is the second batch of outtakes on my quest for the perfect Rottweiler Christmas card for 2016. Like the others before each was marred by the unexpected turn of the head or dropping out of the frame, as Axl is fond of doing. This batch also ends with what I thought would be the most promising card. One that had everyone sitting just right (except me) and looking in the right direction but one that required the most digital remastering. When I started this years ago I tried to attach the Santa Claus hats with elastic chin straps but this became too difficult and unpredictable. Later on I posed each Rottweiler by themselves with the hat and took several pictures and then saved just the hat to later paste on top of someone's head.
It is futile to try and hide a few biscuits. They gang up on you until they get what they want.
 
 
 
And here is the completely finished, Second Place choice card.
 
I originally liked this card because everyone was looking in the right direction but I looked like I had too many drinks and was falling over. But the Santa Clause hats came out pretty nice anyway.
 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My annual Christmas card project begins. (Part one)


Two days ago I started taking photos to use on our annual Rottweiler Christmas card. To make up for the shortage of Rottweiler pictures on this blog lately, I decided to post some of the outtakes from the project. When I first started doing this Christmas card it was a tedious effort to get everyone ready and then go set the timer on the camera, run back to the couch and hope to get a decent picture. I even went to the trouble of putting a leash on each of the three Rotts so that Jacqueline could keep them from walking away.

All that changed when I bought a remote shutter release for my Nikon. Now I no longer need to leave the couch and I can hold all the dogs in place. It also helped to have a box of Milk Bone dog biscuits on hand. On the plus side I have a lot of good pictures to choose from but if there are any downsides it is that I have too many pictures to choose from. So rather than one final Christmas card to share I am posting a few of the dozens of Rottweiler pictures that were taken.
 The camera wasn't tilted down far enough and I only got the top of Axl's head which I cropped off.
I love to get kisses from Ruff. He uses them to buy favors, like "Gimme a biscuit."

Now if I can only get Axl to turn around.
Great example of Rottweiler biscuit radar.
OK. Take 2. Where is Momma?
A little pep talk to explain how I want everyone to pose for the camera. By the way, if anyone is still curious about how big Bessie has grown, that is her on the left sitting next to the big guy, Ruffin. I still haven't had the chance to take her to the Vet's office to put her on a scale but I'm sure she is well over 100 lbs.
Ruffin on the couch and Bessie on the floor. Now where did old man Axl wander off?
That's better. This is only a small bit of the three dozen pictures. Believe it or not out of all of these I managed to pick just one that came out just right. Stay tuned for Part 2.
One more note of interest. Take a close look at the little Christmas Tree on the table. It has over 25 tiny Rottweilers climbing it. Here is a closer look.







Friday, December 2, 2016

A gift of love from Jacqueline's old friend came the other day.


Everyone seems to know about the love we both have for Rottweilers, and the running joke about how we can never get enough of them. A few days ago a package arrived in the mail from a wonderful lady named Marge who was Jacqueline's best friend when she lived in Northern Kentucky. We all came down here together in 1991 when Delta was expanding flight operations at CVG. I worked with her husband for many years before we both retired. Marge bought a little Rottie puppy plush toy and had it mailed to Jacqueline from her home in North Carolina. The card that came attached read: "I think you need another Rottie."

From the moment I gave the toy puppy to Jacqueline she held in her hands and her fingers kept stroking and caressing it. She even held on to it when she was sleeping.

 
When I got Jacqueline out of bed this morning to have breakfast she was still holding her baby Rottie so we took it out to the kitchen while we had breakfast. She never let go of it all the time.
That's what Rottweilers do to you. They fill you heart with love and you can't ever stop thinking about them.

Marge was right, we could always use another Rottie. But these little guys are not as soft a cuddly as the one she sent.

Friends come and go but good friends never leave.

  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Once again, everything and everyone is back where it belongs.


You might say we're still picking up the pieces. There's been no secret here that my wife Jacqueline has been afflicted with Alzheimer's for many years and the disease only progresses in one direction. Seven weeks ago she had a bad fall and the hospice nurse insisted that Jacqueline be confined to her bed because she could no longer support herself on her feet. That has been a hard thing for all of us to deal with. She must take her meals in bed while I eat in the kitchen and the three Rottweilers didn't like the new arrangement at all. 

The Rotts are creatures of habit and love routines that never change. The morning ceremony in the kitchen has always been the same for the last 20 years. After breakfast they all got their peanut butter and pills and a big biscuit. Now, after breakfast doesn't take place in the kitchen any more, it takes place in Mom's bedroom, and those peanut butter pills and biscuits frequently get overlooked.

Jacqueline has managed to convey her feelings about her confinement in ways that did not require words and I have relayed them to the hospice group. My wife is not going to spend the rest of her life in bed. 

So began my plan to find a way to get her out.

I'm getting old and new projects seem to take me forever to plan and execute so after some searching I decided to just go and buy a patient lift machine to pick her up from the bed and put her in her wheelchair. A week ago it was delivered and the hospice ladies showed me the proper way to use it. And I was determined we were going to eat our Thanksgiving dinner together in the kitchen. And we did. (and I forgot to comb her hair)

Because the nurses advised me that Jacqueline shouldn't sit in her wheelchair for more than an hour, for the last two days as soon as dinner was finished I brought her back to her bed. Tonight I made a change in plans. After dinner I brought the patient lift into the family room and picked Jacqueline up and put her in her favorite recliner chair. Just like she always enjoyed for several years. Watching TV and surrounded by her faithful companions. Something she hasn't been able to do in the bedroom.
Once again, everything and everyone is back where it belongs. For a little while, anyway. But we'll take what we can get. I'm not sure if they're smiling or not but it didn't take Ruff and Bess long to get up on the couch.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Ruffin gets a surprise birthday party


Tonight Ruff had a big surprise birthday party that came 3 days early. I'm pretty sure he didn't know it was early but I did. I wanted to make sure I didn't forget because something else is going on around here in the next few days that could have easily got me preoccupied. And that wasn't the only surprise.

In the past 20 years whenever one of the Rottweilers had a birthday we have always had a meatloaf birthday cake, topped with mashed potato icing. When old man Axl started breaking all of the longevity records I substituted something a bit more elegant, a Filet Mignon steak. But tonight Ruffin got to enjoy a whole roast pork with the same mash potato icing.

I think he liked it.


And I got one of Ruff's famous kisses.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIG GUY.

 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Bess and Grandpa Axl


Nothing much going on here. Just had a visit in my den from Old Man Axl and Bess heard he was getting his ears scratched so she had to get some attention, too. The camera was laying next to the computer so I just snapped some pics.

I think the old man is really starting to show his age now. The flash from the camera picks up all of the gray whiskers on his face.

Its now six days away from Ruff's 10th birthday. The big guy has been my BFF since he was a little fur ball and I remind him of this often. He may be getting into his senior years but he still gets lots of attention from the girls. I wonder if he would enjoy a special birthday cake?

 

Monday, November 7, 2016

A tornado that almost was. And Thank God it wasn't.


This story may seem to be out of date because it actually happened a week before Axl's 15th birthday, but I thought you might like to read it and what happened afterward. I have repeated the story below as I wrote it to praise the two county police officers who came to my home to help us. I sent this story via email to WCPO-TV because it was their weatherman, Steve Raleigh, who is pictured below, has the best severe weather graphics of all the local TV stations and the one station I always watch when bad weather is coming.
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Text of email sent to WCPO-TV:

Last Wednesday evening (October 19th)  a small but powerful storm only about 3-miles wide tore through my neighborhood on Cadillac Drive in Nicholson which is south of Independence. It was estimated the winds reached 80 mph and caused a power outage over a two square mile area. The streets surrounding us were littered with fallen trees, massive tree limbs and the downed telephone poles knocked out our electricity and telephone service.
 
I captured a picture off the TV of the WCPO weatherman showing the storm heading straight for us just before it hit. In the photo the storm is the red blob located just above the town of Walton. You can almost see our house by following the red line. We are just about at the point where the red line is closest to the large black area. We get our mail from Independence but actually live in Nicholson. 
My wife and I are both in poor health. Jacqueline, my wife of 56 years, is confined to a hospital bed under the care of Hospice of the Bluegrass with advanced Alzheimer’s. I am her only caregiver at home and coping with Congestive Heart Failure and breathing problems. The power failure Wednesday evening trapped my wife in her hospital bed in the full upright position that I put her in to feed her dinner. She had great difficulty sleeping that way and was forced to sit all night in her soiled bedclothes.
 
First thing Thursday morning I got to look outside at the damage and my property as well as the street was filled with huge tree limbs and several toppled trees. The local power company, Duke Energy, already had dozens of trucks on my small dead-end street that has only 60 houses. My next door neighbor told me Duke Energy estimated up to 3 days before they could restore power. I’ll tell you one thing, they worked around the clock and in the rain replacing the telephone poles and electrical equipment.
 
What happened next was truly amazing. About 9 o'clock Thursday morning two uniformed Kenton County Police officers came to my house and asked me if there was anything they could do to help. I told them my wife was stuck in her bed because I couldn't lower it so the first thing they did was call EMS to send an ambulance and then a Fire Dept truck showed up and they ran an extension cord from a generator on the fire truck into the house to power up the bed motor. The EMS people got Jacqueline out of bed and sat her on the bedside commode and I thanked them and told them a hospice nurse’s aid was supposed to show up as soon as she could.
 
Then these two Police officers came back and told me they were going to go home and change into work clothes and come back to clean up the broken branches on my property. And when they arrived they brought their own chain saws. And it rained most of the day while these two guys hauled the tons of branches from my front and back yard and piled them up at the curb. I kept thanking these two gentlemen every time I saw them but I think they deserve more recognition for what they did. When I saw them dragging the branches hundreds of feet behind my house up my driveway from my backyard, I told them to please use my lawn tractor and my cart and they actually thanked me for offering it. 
To cap it off, Colonel Michael “Spike” Jones, the Chief of the Kenton County Police stopped by later and asked me if everything was going OK. I asked him how come I was getting so much help and he said the first thing his officers did was to go up and down the street, house to house, and ask everyone who needed help the most and he said everyone pointed to my house. I almost cried realizing that most of these neighbors who I don’t even know, were aware of how much we needed help. The Chief also advised me that his officers did not want their names mentioned or to be singled out. What they did was community service even if it was above and beyond the call of duty.
 
This is the kind of story about our local police that needs to be shared with the public. 
--------- 30 ---------
Soon after sending this email I got a phone call from the news desk at WCPO and they asked me if I would give them a videotaped interview telling this story. They sent out the cameraman who taped me and followed that with a live feed truck with a reporter who added commentary and it became the lead story on the 6 o'clock news that Sunday. If you care to watch it you can read the story on the WCPO web site here:  
The ABC affiliate WCPO-TV in Cincinnati also has a YouTube page with a permanent link to the video story about the storm damage on my street and my interview in my home.
 
The damage from this storm was almost as bad as if it was a tornado. 80mph straight line winds did a great deal of damage not only to the trees but to many of the roofs of the houses on our street. Dozens of mature trees were toppled along with many telephone pole and huge tree limbs being sheared off. It took the county Public Works people almost two weeks to clean up the debris. While our electricity was out for only 24 hours some people were in worse shape than we were. When I finally got to inspect the damage on my own property I was amazed at the size of the tree limbs ripped apart.

When things began to quiet down I went ahead and prepared for Axl's birthday.

 
 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The BIGGEST Happy Birthday of them all.


When he was born he was given the fancy dog name, Armani's Cold November Rain, but his first Mom was a young lady rocker who happened to love Guns 'N Roses so she named him after Axl Rose. As he grew up the only name anyone called him was just Axl. After spending seven years working as a service dog his second Mom's home had a bad fire and it was time for Axl to look for a new home and retire. Things didn't work out exactly as planned.
Axl's retirement only lasted about a month. Good service dogs never stop working and it turned out his third Mom, and my own sweetheart for the last 56 years, was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Did Axl also know this? Did he sense that he was needed again? Maybe he just liked Jacqueline better than me but he sure did stick by her side every day. And slept by her side every night. Literally.
If you have read this blog for a while you would know that over the years there has been some confusion over Axl's exact birth date. That confusion was cleared up last month when his first Mom, Carey, pulled up his AKC Registration Number and confirmed that Axl was born on October 28, 2001.

Well, besides having an abbreviated retirement, two years ago Old Man Axl, (he has begun to acquire a few new names) was called into duty to help his best friend Ruffin raise a 7-week old female Rottie pup. I think the night the little fur ball walked over to him and tried to play with him, Axl firmly planted his paw down and declared for all the world, "Hell No!" And the little fur ball was swatted across the floor. So Mr. Ruffin had to do it all by himself and Old Man Axl acquired another new name, Grumpy Grandpa. But that's another story.

Well, Rottweilers are a resilient breed and have a natural tendency to want to be loved and to give love, so the Grumpy Grandpa sort of faded away after a year or so and Mr. Axl and his new little girl Bess became good friends. Of course it helped a lot that she was also a very pretty girl, too.

So that brings us to today. And what do you give such a wonderful old Rottweiler? How about a special cake made with a medium-rare Filet Mignon steak covered with globs of mashed potatoes and a beautiful candle? Here it is in all its glory. Thanks to my great photography you can almost taste it.

And he didn't have to share this with any one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Signs of Love


Kisses. If your Rottweiler doesn't love you will he still give you kisses? Not very likely. Kisses are a universal sign of love. But they are given freely from the heart and cannot be bought or bribed or ordered. They are always free. And I can tell you from personal observation that the skin on my face has absorbed so many slobbery kisses in the last 20-years that my DNA is now part Rottweiler. So sit back and enjoy some kissing photos. And eat your heart out if you never got any.
And, please click on the photos for a larger view.
Sometimes, it hurts.
Anywhere, any time.
Any one.
But especially, us.

When I started to take a lot of photos of my Rottweilers back in 1995, at first I began saving them by scanning the prints into my computer. Then when I got my first digital camera saving the photos simply meant uploading them to the computer. But I never cataloged them. The only smart thing I did was creating a storage file using the model number of the camera. Then a few years ago I actually reached the end of the numerical file sequence for the Nikon D40 camera and had to give it some thought what would happened after image DSC_9999.jpg was created. To my dismay the counter simply went back to DSC_0001.jpg so I needed to create a new storage file so as not to overwrite the original photos. This led to Nikon D40, Nikon D40 2014, Nikon D40 2016.

All these years I always wanted to catalog the ever-growing mass of photos that now exceeds 30,000. One of those catalogs would certainly be by subject and the first one that comes to mind are my Kiss photos. In order to find them I literally have to look though all of the photos. In selecting this tiny sample of Kiss photos I came to realize I must have over a thousand of them scattered throughout my hard drive. I hope I picked the right ones to entertain you today.