Category: animals

Circe and me

by Andrea Elizabeth

Maybe I’m like St. Mary of Egypt and was prevented. Whatever the main reason, I was not directly anointed with the Holy Theotokos of Iveron myrrh-streaming icon during Holy Archangels’ feast day Tuesday.

Image result for iveron myrrh streaming icon

My reason is that I have a special needs dog. I have written somewhere and on Facebook about Circe, who was rescued from the local shelter a month or two ago. She needs a lot of supervision and assurance. She has extreme stranger anxiety, and is only comfortable around George, me, and our one son. She was rescued to be a companion to his dog, Loki, but he is gone too long and she started acting out by destroying first her bed and then his. She ripped out a big chunk of his foam mattress. He’s gone too much and the apartment is too small for her.

I believe she is a Dutch Shepherd. These are great dogs who are very loyal, intelligent, obedient and fast (greyhounds were bred into them), and are often used as police dogs in the Netherlands. They also need a lot of land to run around in. They are usually outgoing, but she is hardly socialized. Her reaction to almost everyone else is to escape or to very loudly and deeply bark, which combined with her very erect build, is intimidating. We had to put her in a choke collar because her neck gets thinner as it goes up, and her head isn’t much thicker than her neck. She used to wiggle out pretty often and go to a safe spot. Since the bed incident I have acquired her. I love her so much for her beauty, sweetness, and intelligence. She is not aggressive at all, but she is high maintenance.

I figured that the state park near the monastery in the fall, during the middle of the week would be a good place to start her socialization and leash skills. I took all three dogs to the monastery during Vigil on monday night, but she barked at anyone who passed by the car, where she was to stay. My husband came out and watched her as I went and stood in the back of the Church for 20 minutes. It was a blessing just to be in the same room with the icon, my friends, other worshippers, and the wonderful monks. I think they may have been singing O Gladsome Light because as they were Byzantine (Greek) chanting, one of the monks started swinging the huge candlelit chandeliers, and I heard “Doxa” which means glory, I think. “Oh gladsome light of the holy glory”. I tried to get up closer on the women’s cloistered side to see the icon, and did from about 20 feet. I didn’t want to venerate it with everyone around the perimeter watching. If someone else had, I would have joined them.

Since the dogs couldn’t really wait in the car or at the campsite by themselves, or with any of my friends or family at home because of Circe’s anxiety and requirement of a high level of engagement, I didn’t go back during Liturgy the next morning. My husband, other son, and daughter were able to participate fully. George’s forehead was very fragrant with the miraculously ex nihilo holy streaming myrrh, and he transfered it to my forehead. Really that’s good enough for me.

Meanwhile, Circe gradually calmed down about the few people we encountered on our beautiful, long hikes. I had to explain that she wasn’t mean, but was scared of them and just wanted space. So walking calmly across the parking lot from other people without barking or escaping was accomplishment enough for me. Thank goodness for my two sweet dogs who give her the security of a pack to belong to, and a calm example.

I’m a pagan

by Andrea Elizabeth

because I love dogs and nature. I elected to stay home from Church today because I believe Circe needs me. She was getting bolder and bolder till I left her for 7 hours Thursday while I went to far away Denton to Liturgy, Church cleaning and fiddle group for Rebecca. When I texted my son, who was home, to let Circe out on a leash, he said it was too late and she had made 3 messes near the front door. She hadn’t done that all week. And, I found out when I got home, since he didn’t trust her, he tied her to a tree and left her in the back yard. By the time I got there she had dug under the deck barrier and her choke collar was pulled very tight. When she saw me she nervously came out half way but wouldn’t continue till I unhooked the leash, even though I had pulled her some slack. She was a lot more nervous after that, though she would follow me and the dogs a little ways from the house. She bounded a bit Friday and was more attracted to our deep woods section where she can disappear. She waited longer to come to me when I called as well, but at least she came. Since she wont come to this son, not her owner, I told him that if he’ll sit on the porch with the door open in the morning, she would follow our other dogs out and do her business. He’d just have to watch her and call them all in afterwards. His other mistake was having the other dogs outside while she was inside alone. I should have given him more direction before I left. My bad.

So, while Liturgy was going on, I cross-stitched and listened to St. John of the Cross’ Ascent of Mount Carmel on Audible.com, which my husband had downloaded and recommended. I feel that there are such extreme views in the Church. Either you’re a total ascetic, creation is contemptible and only spiritual contemplation on God is good (St. John), or you’re a liberal who thinks that gay sex is good because they love each other’s createdness. It is very hard to find balance. I don’t believe creation is bad or that it cannot be loved. There is a difference between selfish, exploitive love and selfless appreciatory love. And to the other side, there is a difference between selfless appreciatory love and indulging in inordinate desire. What should be emphasized is obedience to God’s commands and will concerning what to do with one’s time. There is a time to devote oneself in action and affection, and a time to withdraw to pray. Hopefully one can develop prayer while with others. One should love God more than creation, but not despise it as he doesn’t. He assumed created flesh so thus it is hallowed.

This dichotomy is why I believe some people carelessly exploit contemptible nature, or forsake the Church and say they feel closer to God in nature. I do think one can love nature too much and not give God His due. Normally one should abstain from nature and go to Church on Sunday mornings. One should sometimes abstain from hiking with their dog and cook dinner for their kids who are either too busy or disinclined to hike. Finding the right balance is very much the struggle, and I believe discerned by learning to walk in the Spirit.

Rehabilitating Circe

by Andrea Elizabeth

Circe is a psychologically complex possibly Whippet/German Shepherd mixed brindle colored, elegant dog. She was put on the urgent list at the shelter for extreme shyness. My son and I were looking for a companion for his dog who is left alone a lot while he is at work. Circe, then “Juniper”, is a medium to large dog and had to be carried to the greeting pen. She was very gentle, but cowered next to the fence. I could not coax her away from it, so I just sat with her and hugged her, which she did not resist. The only budge she gave was to lean against me a little while also leaning on the fence. In her favor was very steady, intelligent eye-contact.

Finally after I gave up, she was willing to walk back towards her pen following loosely on the leash, but when I detoured before getting there, she determinedly went behind an air conditioner and had to be carried back to her pen by a shelter worker. A bit skeptical, I went ahead and thought we could give her a shot. Another reason was that the spot on the fence she chose in the greeting pen was right in front of a domineering German Shepherd’s kennel, separated by a sidewalk. I could tell she liked his alpha male protectiveness. My son’s other dog, Loki, is a male alpha husky/Pyrenees mix.

After her neutering surgery I took her home for a couple of days till my son was off work and could meet her and possibly take her home. Looking back I think some of her reticence at my house was due to being in pain. She cheerfully greeted my two female smaller dogs when I put her down, and she followed them into the living room under her own steam. I put a dog bed there, and that’s where she camped the rest of the evening and night. The next day she followed them onto the porch, loosely on the leash, and to the grass to pee. I thought she’d like to be tethered there, and mistakenly left her and went inside. About 20 minutes later I found her empty harness next to our deck. I was afraid she’d run off, but a flashlight revealed she was just beyond arm’s length in the 9″ high clearance under the deck. I blocked off all the other exits with firewood and tried to entice her with food to come out. She didn’t budge for 6 hours. Finally, after placing several heavy 5 foot high pen sections around the one opening, since she wouldn’t come to the entrance to be caught, I called one of my dogs, Cassie, into the pen where Circe could see, hoping she would want to rejoin the pack. I praised and pet Cassie for following me, and that’s when Circe, with a cry of pain, squeezed out of the narrow opening and came to me to be pet and praised. Wow. Such a relief. This was after I had desperately ordered a dog-catcher pole and noose that would take a week to come in. It was that or take apart the deck. I had also tried flooding her out with a water hose, but she went to a high spot and let herself get wet.

Anyway, I didn’t leave her unattended in our unfenced back yard after that, but kept with her on a leash which she cooperated with if my dogs lead the way. My dogs have radio collars and 1.5 acres bordered by an electrified underground wire makes the collar first beep then shocks them if they cross it. The collars are expensive and it takes a couple of weeks to gently train dogs on it. The next day Loki and my son came over and the two big dogs were very happy nudging each other and playing a little bit. Circe was the initiator of most of it. My son took her home and she was very happy with him and Loki, but not so much with being in a pen while he is at work, evidenced by shredding the dog bed she had loved at my house and sometimes peeing on his bed.

After about a month, this week I am dog-sitting to give them all a break and let her get out more. Monday morning I held her on the long 25′ tether, and she loved bounding after my dogs. Her whippet body can really cover a lot of ground. Later that day, since she is so shy about venturing out by herself, I took the leash off. At first she stayed on the porch, but then when my dogs got excited and ran after something, she forgot herself and let herself go with them. Once she even went past them over their border. Afraid she’d keep going I nervously called her back, and she came! I put her short leash back on her hoping that dragging behind her, it would caution her a little, and allow her to be caught if need be. Since then, leash-less, she mostly stays on the porch or with my dogs, outrunning them easily till they stop, then mostly she stops. I have had to call her back a few times. This is why I wont leave her out by herself. She loves our quiet, spacious yard. She needs to visit often to get her energy out and to stretch her long legs. Loki could use it too, but he’s much more independent and does heedlessly run off. Maybe he could be put on a long leash with a running human to keep up with the other dogs when he visits.

happiness, idealism and death

by Andrea Elizabeth

I deleted half a post on my other blog, which I wrote during post-epic trip blues while dealing with several times that “I died that day”, as the Princess Bride said. It was also about how I’ve made a sort of peace with “get[ting] used to disappointment”, as Wesley said. And about how I’m not a saint because I don’t have lively joy, but have settled for peace. One reason is that to be joyful is to submit to the belief that those bad times were necessarily that way and for the greater good. To be bitter and angry is the other extreme where you hate God and life for cheating you out of what should have been yours. For me, to have peace is to recognize that things have gone wrong, but will be made right in heaven, and probably not on earth. Joy would be if they were right/perfect right now.

Therefore Saints are happy with the future/death and don’t mind that the present isn’t that way yet, because they are not passionately attached to it. I still mind, but I’m almost done with my temper tantrum.

Idealism is being deluded that things are right right now, but at least they believe in things being right.

Some people are happy with things being wrong. They are the, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, “you’re only human”, “you only live once”, “I’ll enable your sin if you enable mine”, “things are exactly as God originally intended” type people.

I’m more happy in nature where things are righter than than they are amongst men, which is probably because of me, so I still have some purging to do.

Why do you increase your bonds? Take hold of your life before your light grows dark and you seek help and do not find it. This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.

– St. Isaac the Syrian


by Andrea Elizabeth

I met Loki Monday at my daughter’s horse barn where one of the equestrians had caught and named him after he’d been straying in the neighborhood for quite some time. Ms. Carrie, who already has nine dogs, put him in the maybe 20×20 chain link enclosure to see if he would get claimed or adopted. I thought he was beautiful, but we already have two dogs over my husband’s limit, which is none. He’s bonded to them more than he lets on. Ms. Carrie says Loki is about 9 months old and probably a designer husky/golden retriever mix. I thought, Ben (my son) has always liked shepherd/husky type dogs. He needs a traveling/walking buddy, so… I sent him the above picture and we waited. I went ahead and saddled and rode Copper, a strawberry blonde Arabian/Quarter horse mix. When I rode close to Loki’s kennel he’d get excited, then when I turned away he’d howl like a coyote. After I got off, gave Copper his treats and turned him out, I thought I should see what Loki’s like, since Ms. Carrie said he was really sweet. I detached Copper’s lead rope from his halter, which I was still holding, and opened the kennel a crack and could barely contain him coming out on top of me. He is very strong and can pull really hard against his collar. But I got it fastened and tried to keep him from dragging me towards the barn. He knows how to stop, though, so we did that every now and then as I pet him. We got to the chair and I sat down and he leaned against my leg. I told Rebecca to take a picture and we sent that as well so Ben could see scale size and how sweet he was being at the moment. Right after that, a neighbor’s huge, burly, black dog whose name, Dually, I couldn’t remember, started coming towards us and Loki started growling. This scared me since ‘Bruno’ wasn’t on a leash, so I took Loki into the barn and shut the gate where Ms. Carrie was body-clipping Calypso, a cute little gray dappled Andalusian horse. She said, ‘you have to be assertive and not let him rudely growl, but it’s ok that you brought him in here’. She told me to go out the back of the barn and walk him in the back pasture. So he drug me that direction, and went through the gate before I opened it. I was able to untangle and keep hold of the lead rope from the gate well enough. So we started sledding and I thought, he’s been pent up all day and probably needs to run so I started jogging. He was surprised and jogged with me at my same speed. I thought, this is fun and good exercise. Ben may like doing this. Until Gracie, the 2yo black filly decided to meet and greet. I was about to let her when about 10 other horses started coming towards us. Oh dear. Horses can trample dogs. At first Loki started growling and lunging, but I assertively told him to hush, pulled him close, and whipped the long end of the rope towards the horses, telling them sternly to back off. I had to hit one of them. They weren’t charging, but weren’t respecting personal space either. I’m not sure if they wanted to greet or wanted the dog out of their territory. I had to keep shooing them the whole rest of the way back towards one of the front gates. Loki kept by my legs and stayed sweet. I thought that meant he would bond pretty well with a human. Annabel, who was in the round pen working Cappi, an amazingly trained level 4 at least dressage horse, handed me her whip that has a rod going down the first half for reach, which the horses respect more than the rope. My daughter Rebecca met me at the fence, took the rope and let Loki slip through the bars while I fended off the horses, returned the whip, and made my way to the smaller, easier to open gate. Schwew. Assertive situations are scary.

After we’d left, Ben texted the practical difficulties of having a dog in an apartment in the city and such, but was willing to be talked out of them pretty easily. He finally said he wanted to meet him, so we met last night at the barn.

It wasn’t obvious love at first sight, mainly because Ben was being a little cagey, but I later found out he’d already been discussing names with his other sister before he even came out. She was also smitten with the picture and said she’d babysit “EVERY DAY”, as she and her roommates have a back yard. Loki was scared when Ben went into the enclosure. He barked, growled, and stayed 10 feet away, even though Ben was crouching down and being low key. Maybe he’d been scared by men before. Ben finally gave up and came out. I took the lead rope that was hanging from the fence and did what I did last time, which he a little less enthusiastically participated in. He started pulling and sniffing everything and then Ben stealthily took the end of the rope which was behind me. I let go and Loki didn’t care. Ben slowly started pulling back, and after Loki let him pet him, he started leading him. I told Ben about his liking to run, so Ben did that, and I’m pretty sure he was convinced at that point that it would work out. Especially when Loki stopped and leaned against his leg. I told him he could just try him out, and maybe the city dog shelter where he lives wouldn’t be so likely to euthanize as the local one was. So Ben flipped up the back seats of his truck and took a little while coaxing him to jump in, which he finally did, looking to me for reassurance.

epilogue: We went to Petsmart and bought a kennel for his apartment and bought a really cool silver reflective collar/harness/leash set, food, brush, bowls, treats, and such. He didn’t have time to go to Walmart to get some of the items cheaper. When we went back to the truck, Loki was pushing towards me and I told him he was Ben’s dog now. It was weird how he quit looking at me after that and started looking towards Ben instead for reassurance. Apparently last night Loki didn’t like his kennel very much, but that will take time. I don’t know if he howled or not. Ben’s brother Jordan and Jordan’s cat like him. Ben made the vet appointment for Friday, researched nearby dog parks, and seems pretty settled about the matter. The End.

Dogs are even good for brain clouds

by Andrea Elizabeth

Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses

by Andrea Elizabeth

Before reading the three volume, Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses by Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet, I have had a couple of “live” discussions as to why I have been hesitant to start. This can be boiled down to the traditional boiling down of a person’s lack of progress toward theosis being a problem of vice vs. virtue. I am gluttonous, self-loving, lustful, greedy, angry, fearful, sad, despondent, prideful and vain because I choose these vices over virtue. The therapy is asceticism and grace.

My problem is that psychological conditions are not considered. Abuse and neglect in one’s past is not presented. When I have heard them elsewhere presented, the focus immediately shifts to forgiveness and that’s it. I want a more detailed psychological process. I get this mainly from fiction where a character’s emotional and motivational journey is logically laid out. Cause, effect, intervention, realization, choice to get better or not, difficulties in getting over stuff, etc.

I started reading anyway. I like that the first book starts out saying that virtue is natural and vice is unnatural. It then goes on to say our wills choose the unnatural option, thus we are bad people anyway. Yes, I know this is what the Fathers teach. I love that St. Maximus is quoted so much, but it’s mostly his 4 Centuries on Love, which I have had to put down because it’s all about detachment and I already feel alienated.

However, I do like the desert fathers who alienated themselves in order to fight alone against their passions. I do agree with the method. Maybe my problem is because I am western. Even the British stiff upper lip is largely looked down on nowadays. Compassion, tolerance, and non-discrimination against people with weaknesses is the rage (ha ha) currently.

How I would approach this instead is more individualistic where natural and nurtural causes were more validated. These can include a person’s generational, cultural, familial, ancestral, and traumatic, diseased or bio chemical influences. Metropolitan Jonah is the only one I’ve heard speak on caution when administering asceticism to just anybody. He tells the story of a lady who went psychotic and left the Church because too heavy dose of saying the Jesus Prayer set off a lot of buried and unrealized abuse trauma. There are automatic responses to trauma that are not the person’s will. Such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A person cannot help that he wakes up in the middle of the night with panicky thoughts. The sacraments and many of the prayers can help, but healing will take a long time and the person needs support and encouragement, which I’m not sure would be found in this series. Soldiers feel a lot of guilt already, so being told you are a chooser of vice doesn’t seem the right approach to them in my opinion. My favorite ptsd stories involve the use of service dogs who give the soldier the unconditional love, warmth, sensitivity and companionship that will bring tears to your eyes to watch.


Four new state parks posts

by Andrea Elizabeth


Politically though, I wonder if some conservatives find the idea of state parks socialist. If so, then maybe I’m socialist to some extent. Some people think all land should be privately owned. And over 90% of Texas land is, making access to the prettiest parts restricted to those with better networking skills than I have, if it weren’t for state parks. True conservatives think you need to know somebody in order to get the nicer things in life. I am a bit alienated, and think networks in general make you compromise and schmooze. This is why I identify with Derrida’s marginalized people. I prefer establishments that will serve my kind, even though I don’t like wheelchair access hiking trails. Too straight and boring.

with nature

by Andrea Elizabeth

My original post is lost but I will try to remember it.

Before recent times, people had a common way of thinking and relating. Nowadays things are more complicated. Gone are the days when Paul could say to a new group of people, this commonly known unknown God is revealed in Christ, and they believed. Now we have the gospel of nice where asking people to reject former views is seen as a hate crime.

While I can fundamentally accept that the heavens declare the glory of God, day utters speech and night knowledge (Psalm 19) and that the power of the godhead is clearly seen in the things that are made (Romans 1), modern atheists don’t, even though they may appreciate the beauty and peace of national parks. They see it as a pleasant byproduct of automatic forces at work. I have even had dark times where I see majestic mountains as rubble from cataclysmic destruction, lush vegetation as opportunistic clutter, and animal diversity as adaptive survival mechanisms.

But thankfully the darkness doesn’t prevail and God’s presence wins out. There is something innately holy about nature that our deepest selves respond to. The skies are a tabernacle for the sun, as the Psalm also says. I bet Rich Mullins liked Mountain Cathedrals.

John Denver famously wrote of this otherness in Rocky Mountain High. Here’s another good line, “The Earth is our mother just turning around, with her trees in the forest and roots underground. Our father above us whose sigh is the wind, paint us a rainbow without any end.” – John Denver, The Flower That Shattered The Stone

I hope he knows the Father better now. I do not completely blame those who love nature but reject Christians like the Indians. Modern Christians are too affiliated with big business which is opposed to nature. This is why lawmakers wont get rid of Daylight Savings Time where noon is close to 2pm.

From Billions to None

by Andrea Elizabeth

The other day I saw this very sad documentary on the extinction of the passenger pigeon in 1914.

“The passenger pigeon or wild pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is an extinct North American bird. Named after the French word passager for “passing by”, it was once the most abundant bird in North America, and possibly the world.[2][3] It accounted for more than a quarter of all birds in North America.[4] The species lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to its demise.[5] One flock in 1866 in southern Ontario was described as being 1 mi (1.5 km) wide and 300 mi (500 km) long, took 14 hours to pass, and held in excess of 3.5 billion birds. That number, if accurate, would likely represent a large fraction of the entire population at the time.[6][A][7]

Some estimate 3 to 5 billion passenger pigeons were in the United States when Europeans arrived in North America.[B] Others argue the species had not been common in the pre-Columbian period, but their numbers grew when devastation of theAmerican Indian population by European diseases led to reduced competition for food.[C]

The species went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world during the 19th century to extinction early in the 20th century.[1] At the time, passenger pigeons had one of the largest groups or flocks of any animal, second only to the Rocky Mountain locust.

Some reduction in numbers occurred from habitat loss when European settlement led to mass deforestation. Next, pigeon meat was commercialized as a cheap food forslaves and the poor in the 19th century, resulting in hunting on a massive and mechanized scale. A slow decline between about 1800 and 1870 was followed by a catastrophic decline between 1870 and 1890.[8] Martha, thought to be the world’s last passenger pigeon, died on September 1, 1914, at the Cincinnati Zoo.”

Excerpted from Wikipedia, see the rest of the article for more detailed information.

This picture of bison skulls taken in 1870 was also shown in the film:



My new theory is that after the slaughtering of huge numbers (800,000) of humans was legalized during the Civil War, destructive and bloodthirsty people turned to Natives, animals and trees.