I am Walter and this is my World.

I am Walter and this is my World.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My darling, wonderful, most wanted, loved and adored peeps.

This is a picture I took from my Key West desk, while writing (my very important) manuscript #4. I ask you - what are my chances of putting the writing first? Um....none? Pug first (note his mournful, disdainful, corrective gaze) and book  - far second (even though it will be here after we're both long gone)  Even my editor suspects the lineup.

So this is to say, we made it to Key West again, which as you know became out PUG HAVEN last year, when I had the movie-worthy freak-out and shouted (to no one)  "ENOUGH! I CAN'T WATCH THAT PUG SLIP ONE MORE TIME ON THE FREAKING ICE! WE'RE DRIVING TO KEY WEST! WEATHER, LOGIC AND COMMON SENSE BE DAMNED!"

And then I politely, with a remarkable amount of poise, graciousness and finesse (otherwise known as fear and loathing) high-tailed it through every hideous ice storm, blizzard, freezing rain storm an un-nameable yet very real weather condition the universe saw to throw at us. It was a bad idea, coupled with a nervous driver, a for-the-moment crippled pug and an excessive amount of luggage.


As we made it again this year despite a freakish throat infection that required sudden medical treatment. WHY do I look at these various challenges as taunts from a bully universe? Each unpredictable, strange and uncomfortable element appears to me as a dare. "What if we make your car emit weird noises? During an ice storm? What if we remove all non-scary hotels and chuck hail AND snow at you simultaneously? What if we put a tailgater on your butt for fifty miles, and you're in Arkansans, where you could kill him and get away with it?"

I say to each and every..."Oh yeah? Is that all you got?"

 I look at the above photo - a picture of walter watching me work and I stop. I think about what a miracle, what a stupid, strange, unlikely  miracle, sheer FREAKING MIRACLE it is that this dog is even alive, let alone with me. Traveled twice now all the way to Florida. Bad foot? You bet. Limps? All the time. Were we unlucky? In spades. Did a miracle happen? You God Damn bet it did. Is the shoe permanent? No. Maybe. I don't know.  I don't care. He's here. We can live with a shoe. Take the look of pity somewhere else. We're the luckiest people we know.

Shoe goes on, shoe comes off. I answer concerned passerby's constantly. To the point of exhaustion.
"He got hit by a Lexus SUV. Now he wears a shoe. But he's doing really good. He's a trooper. A soldier. He's okay. He made it. We're just glad he's here. He made it. " And I see these people, strangers, who maybe now number in the thousands, and who look at him and smile. They go on, they go off. They take the idea of perseverance with them. It is always, always, always a look of recognition.

Tonight I looked at Walter and I thanked him. I said, "If we're all sentient beings here on planet earth and we're all connected,and weaving our own destinies,  then thank you. For picking me. If it's all random and you're just a dog, well hell. You're still one good egg. Here's to you and me and the lemon balm plant. We rock." (I bought a lemon balm plant a few days ago, which suffered greatly in the sun, and I revived it this morning with soothing words and distilled water...identifying with it's fragile nature and weak constitution, making me absurdly attached to it.)

I'm starting to believe humans are at the bottom end of the evolutionary ladder. The self-centered rung caught up with worry. When we're done with that...when we're ready to turn our lives over to the healing of others...we become animals. Cats, dogs, canary's, pugs....creatures with an unlimited supply of unconditional love. True powerhouses. Limitless understanding, Creatures who have dedicated themselves to giving. To the rest of us. To you. To me. What else explains it?

From becoming dogs I don't know what happens. I drank some tequila to find out - and thought maybe we move to plants and then soil and then stone...and then I don't know, because it's outside my intelligence, but I believe as we progress we become more and more able to love, to care for, to heal. SO. My twitter tonight was this:

I just realized. It's all backwards. Intelligence is only ego. True power is unconditional Love. Upshot? The dogs win.

It's the best I could do, in a small effort to say thank you to you  - the wonderful souls out there in the dark, Who we think of daily, and love always and who are never ever far from our thoughts. And to Walter, A spirit I can never properly thank, to whom I will always be grateful. Why I was shown such grace, I do not know. Why the universe chose to bring this odd/beautiful experience into our lives, I'll never quite grasp.
Love, love LOVE to each of you. Viva el Pug, el girl and el Lemon Balm Plant. Screw you, bad luck. You don't even know where we live anymore.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Packing the Pug

Wally and I were home for Thanksgiving - and here's a shot of me packing up afterwards to go back to Key West. Walter wanted to make darn sure he didn't get left behind, so climbed into my suitcase. (and included a forlorn orphan look just in case the act of getting into the suitcase wasn't cute enough.)  Oh these pugs have such remarkable strategy skills!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Pug Ugg Site is almost complete!


I have been so quiet, because I have been fiendishly working on my gift for the world ( rather, for anyone who wants to build a shoe for their dog...) You guys know what we've been through with these blasted orthotic shoes, and how much we LOVE the otter pelt shoe...the Pug Ugg!  Well, I decided that this information needs to be out there, all the materials needed, the steps to take...where any dog owner (or cat owner, or rabbit etc..) can get it!

Nobody should have to go through what we did finding a shoe solution and NOBODY should have to put one of those cruel ouchie orthotic shoes on their dogs! SO! I give you a work in progress...but a masterpiece of insanity NONETHELESS. (...drum roll....)

I was going to wait for it to be completely finished, but I realized I need your help. Can you please look at this and tell me if you think I should include not just the directions to make the shoe, but possibly tips for a recently injured dog? And if so, what tips or, what links should I post? Medical tips? Community resources? Let me know what you think. Also - SPREAD THE WORD! Anybody who needs a dog shoe...here it is!

Maybe this can be a real resource for people going through what we all have gone through. (I say we, because lets face it, y'all have been there every step of the way!) WE LOVE YOU BIG TIME!!!!

  Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts.  It's what you do with what you have left.  
~Hubert Humphrey

Defeat is not bitter unless you swallow it.  ~Joe Clark

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Winter's Coming...Let's Keep the wee Beloveds Warm!

Hey guys, We're headed to Key West again this winter...it's so good for Wally's foot and for Mama's psyche!

 This is a picture of Walter in a Kentuckiana Pug Rescue scarf, they sent it to him along with a care package filled with amazing, lovely things when he was hit last year.  (He is opening that very package in the picture. Nom Nom Nom!) I really don't know what we would have done without KPR's ongoing support, love and concern. It's an amazing group of folks with families and jobs, who help pugs in multiple states in the Midwest.

They've been hit themselves recently, with a big wave of incoming pugs who need HELP, like little Lazarus here, who was found half-dead by animal control and brought to KPR. This picture might make you sad, but it shouldn't! Lazarus us alive and recovering because of  the warm hearts at  Kentuckia Pug Rescue.

In fact, Kentuckiana Pug Rescue has had so many new arrivals, they just announced they'll have to close their doors temporarily until they get more funds for medical treatment and foster home care.


Kentuckiana Pug Rescue were there for us - Now, Walter and I want to be there for them. I'm sending them all the nickles and dimes I can find,  and a bunch of signed books they can use for fundraising.  I want our 11th hour angels to have their doors wide open and stay in flight!

Many of us would take care of additional pugs if we could, but time and obligations prevent us. We rely on pug rescues to be 11th hour angels, and so they are, but even angels get tired. We owe it to the small beloveds, we owe it to the rescue groups, we owe it to ourselves to keep these doors open. We need rescue groups. We need our angels. If you can send them any nickles and dimes, please do. Every little bit helps.

Lets use the community's pug power to get 'em up and running again!  Walter and I will never forget their good works and we say THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kentuckiana Pug Rescue • PO Box 22697 • Louisville, KY 40252-0697 
 • 877-784-7988

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love ya Indy!

We tried SO HARD to come to the Indianapolis Pug Meet up. Man! It was close, and then due to all this travelling I'm doing for the book tour, I got walloped by a bug. No way could I come, not just because I couldn't make the drive, but I couldn't bear it if anybody caught this thing!! Maybe it's the last time I'll get sick this winter! Bah-hahahahaha!!! Anyway, we love you guys and we're thinking of you!!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

much better pug

 UPDATE: Smudge is doing much better. A food allergy was the most likely cause, they're monitoring her and  she's doing much MUCH better. Thank you for all the great SMART suggestions!! XOXOXOXO

You guys, medical advice is needed for my friend who has an elderly pug she rescued from a mill. "Smudge." My friend is going to her regular vet in the morning, but if this reminds you of anything, or you have any ideas what she should ask the vet to look for/check/test, please let me know. I don't think a sudden change in behavior is indicative of weight trouble. I also don't think now is necessarily the time to change her diet...
  xoxoxoxoxo H =

Here's what she posted:

So Smudge and I have been at the emergency vet for 3 hours. She is acting lethargic and not her usual...She kind of cowers from me at first. and won't use the stairs. The emergency vet checked her paws, hips, legs, neck for pain and said she didn't have any discomfort. Smudge weighs 20 lbs and this broad said she should weigh 14lbs! I almost s...wallowed my own tongue when she said that.
She started a new diet today so we'll see if dropping a few lbs helps her breathing. But it really doesn't address the rest of her odd behavior which started on Friday.

She ate today I fed her a 1/3 of a cup instead of a half. She won't go outside to pee. It's like while I was at work on Friday she suffered something traumatic that has her all out of sorts. She still hasn't used the stairs to get to the second floor though emergency vet checked her paws legs hips etc and said sometimes if a dog has a stiff neck they don't want to go down stairs head first which was about the only thing she said that made sense.

I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of the palette surgery but this woman was so clinical and unfeeling. Plus 20 lbs doesn't seem "MORBIDLY OBESE" I know she's a barrel but I give her diet food in measured doses and no people food and walk her everyday so wtf??

I realize when it's hot smudge gets less exercize than usual.
I'm watching her like a hawk from the corner of my eye so she won't feel observed. She's eating, drinking, peed on her pad etc it seems behavioral. But won't go outside on her own.
My god I wish she would just tell me what is wrong. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pug in a Yurt

We are off to Chicago again for a reading at Columbia. Before the big trip (driving) Wally and I got some heavenly rest in our new Writing Yurt. Now, I am patently opposed to becoming a hippie (as per walters request) BUT a Yurt, which is not a "yacht on dirt" as my ever-posh brother guessed,  but a fancy tent with hardwood floors -  is a very wonderful thing. In this photo it looks a bit like a wedding tent prison with the gate...but its more of a vaulted circular room, and that crossed wood gate is the wall. There's screen behind it and canvas flaps that drop down outside for bad weather. Anyway, Walter really liked the Yurt and snored away as I wrote and finished making his NEW super streamlined and utterly AWESOME new Otter Pelt shoe.  It makes the old one look like a meatball. pics soon!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Breaking News

 Okay Indy Bloggers. Now it's serious. I need to know where you will be and when. Is there a schedule? How best to fit a reading in? Anyone know any cool local booksellers who'd bring books to the event? (Independents are easier to work with) also, anyone happen to know/or are able to contact members of the press? Something like: WORLDS MOST GRATEFUL PUG MOM COMES TO INDY or WALLY COMES HOME!

Monday, September 6, 2010

We got to meet Peta and Gen (but not the Foo!)

Okay, nobody told me someone might bring a pug to my reading...if thats possible then maybe this reading thing isn't so awful after all. I mean, who else was there to greet us at the reading in Chicago but Peta and Gen the pug? I was so psyched/relived/happy!!!!

Heres the only pic I was able to snap of my one and only and FIRST Pug attendee.

Oh I was sooo happy! So when I read Harry Pugalicious's comment that I should come to Indy, where we basically have a big old fat pug-rampant reading, I thought YES!!!

So I'm working on it. Whaddya think Indy bloggers? Would you be up for me coming in early october? Are you ready to meet walter? To see my lip quiver, tremble and then the torrent of grateful tears when I break down thanking you all?

Where could we even h'ave a reading that would allow dogs? Actually, doesn't have to be a vookstore...could be a petstore/coffee shop/wine bar etc thats cool with dogs in the store! Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Photo Shoot with Walter on the Stone Arch bridge!

Here's what I posted on Facebook today:

Heather McElhatton Photoshoot on the stone arch bridge for MSP Mag = $5K. White couch from Ikea for Walter and I to sit on while bicyclists whiz by = $200. Slice of heavenly pink and white cake from Buttercream bakery which I hold on delicate plate and pretend to eat = $7. Dropping entire frosty slice on my lap = priceless.

I WISH you could have seen this photoshoot! It was so fun, even though it was laden with obstacles. It was a terribly hot day and we (Walter and I) were sitting on a big white IKEA couch the Msp/St. Paul Magazine crew hauled out right onto the Stone Arch Bridge (above). I was scared walter would get hot so I actually drove my car out onto the bridge (normally peds only) where I ran the AC, had battery operated fans set up in the back seat, a big bowl of drinking water with ice.

I ALSO had a "plunge tank" set up in the back of my car, a big tub filled with ice water, which I could plunge walter into in case he overheated. Everyone must have thought I was insane...but we ALL know what its like when our pugs get too hot and start "wheezing." Scary. I knew if anything happened up on that bridge, there was no where to go quickly enough, so the plunge tank, while seemingly excessive was actually an easy way to have peace of mind. I highly suggest it.

I was supposed to be eating a piece of cake from the award-winning wedding cake bakery, Buttercream but I dumped it on my shirt! Luckily the smart talented kids over there brought multiple slices. whew. After the shoot I got this gift:

This little cutie is made by "Tapas" and I named him JoJo Potato. How did I know it was a "he?"

CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wally likes JoJo Potato too. I think.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Introducing the Otter Pelt Shoe

Hi Guys!!!!! How is everybody?
We have been super wonderful great! I am weeks behind in blogging, but I finally got this years cabin photos uploaded. Check out Wally up at the lake! It was the first time he's been back there since the accident, and I was quite worried about how he'd get around - what he'd be able to do etc... The good thing is he's very cautious these days, he knows he can't jump or climb, and doesn't try.(Did I even tell you guys we found another BIG PIG in Key West? Auntie Meredith gave it to Walter!)
On the other hand there were a few things we both thought Walter would be able to do up north, i.e. walking on the pebble beach, which turned out to be far harder than expected. You can really tell his bad leg is still quite a bit weaker than the others when he walks on the beach, sort of like jogging on sand, he got tired quickly, so we ended up having short adventures. Then a long nap on the flat rocks.
Walters shoe has been really irritating his foot lately. I don't know exactly why, but it seems we're always trying to heal a new hotspot, bloody cut or seepy pad. its been awful and it reached a new low when Walter got a little bit of moisture in his shoe on the third day at the cabin. Oh man, trouble. His poor foot looked like hamburger just after an hour. I luckily had brought antibiotics with me and materials for a portable scamperland (fencing, yoga mats) so he had a place to mend, but I was SICK of this darn shoe! Metal grommets, hard seams, unforgiving materials...the shoe, while holding his foot correctly was also causing him topical injuries and days on end incarcerated!
I showed the shoe to a local trapper and he didn't even tease me about my high maintenence pet, he just turned the shoe inside and out...hemmed, hawed and said, "What he needs, is a moccasin."   He suggested I use fur turned inside out, hand-stitched with no metal parts. Specifically, waterproof fur that would stay soft even after getting wet, such as otter pelt.

It made so much sense! I spent the remainder of my north woods vacation acquiring scraps of an otter pelt and remnants of tanned deer hide (I KNOW! I have never in my life purchased fur/hide etc...shows you how far the maternal instinct will take you.) I made Walter a little moccasin. I stitched up a fur pouch, using velcro tabs to cinch the top around his ankle. Then I sewed four buttons (removed from one of my sundresses) on the toes. These are what the elastic bits on the ankle cuff (velcro backed with chamois) attach to.

 It's not the most durable creation, clearly he will wear through the bottom quickly, but I have to say, I am amazed at how well it works. Walter is more sure-footed in it and he has not had ONE SINGLE cut, owie, sore spot or weeping pad the entire time he's been wearing it. Not that pretty...but miracles are packed in tiny packages these days. Some, no bigger than an otter pelt shoe.

In other news my book, Million Little Mistakes, is out Tuesday. I did my first radio interview today and the host spent the first twenty minutes talking about....Walter! He said (and I quote) "Heather, I think the thing I like about you most is...your relationship with Walter."


 I laughed out loud. Sometimes that's what I like best about me too. I just posted a link in the sidebar - so you can peruse the book for free. If you have the ability/inclination to post the link anywhere, it really helps get the word out about the book...which really helps pay for otter pelts.

Glad to be back my friends. We don't always blog, but we always think of you. Every day.

“Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”   - Tina Turner

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Hello all you loveable wonderful pee-po's! I am so sorry we have been out of communication. Lots of traveling and one book coming out while another is due has put blogging on the back burner. I am going to catch up with everyone's blogs now and respond, I shudder to think what I've missed!! I will attempt to load some photos here shortly, been having lots of trouble with uploading!


I feel like celebrating because he's HERE. He's inspired so many people, who can't believe his gut, determination and his love for life. He is still wearing the shoe one year later, and we still don't know if he will ever walk without it again, BUT, he's here and so are you and so, this my friends, is a good day.

May I take a moment to remind you all how much we've been through with this little one? (By WE I mean, YOU, who all have so lovingly been keeping track of our story!!!) Remember when we prayed and sent white healing light minute-by-minute, through each operation? And how I wept all the time, sure I could never make it through all this?

Now FLASH FORWARD to today! We moved to Key West, then the UK, all in search of a better life. This little guy has made me make changes in my life that were so good for me, and I made them solely b/c they were good for him! (Trickster) I've learned healing comes slow, and that it has to, or you would'nt have time to recognize the miracles. That there are more good people than bad, more love and concern in the world than darkness. Also, there is one hell of a group of people in the world called PUG PEOPLE. Bestest in the world.

Walter has helped so many people and so many people have helped him. The little bruiser has taken so many steps without his shoe...granted they are months apart and we're not sure if its nerve growth or dumb luck, but gosh darn it. He made it, I made it and you all came along with us for the ride.

We continue various forms of therapy and are always quick to try new things. Walter is not a candidate for nerve surgery at the current moment, but we have our lives down to a system now. Get up, baby powder between toesies, baby sock, new improved anklet (mom made it with velcro we got during our breakdown in Georgia!) and we're off and running! By 9pm we take shoe off, soak toesies in epsom salts/warm water than a quick massage and nighty-night.


So obviously I have to get this whole experience down on paper. If any of you want to contribute thoughts or observations, from the moment you learned of walter's accident to the ongoing saga to today, I would love to have your thoughts and try to include them in any manuscript I manage to put together. You can email me anything you want to at prettylittlemistakes a-t gmail. We love you all so much!!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


1.) Name and Age: Walter! 3 years old.
2.) Breed: King Pug
3.) Nickname(s): Wally, Wee-wo, pickle butt, angel, kissy face, pooder-pie, peanut.
4.) Where'd ya come from? A house not too far from the one he lives in now. Mompug and Dadpug are near!


1.) Toy:  Stuffed Pig
2.) Snack: Chicken strips
3.) Human person: A hotly contested topic. Too politically sensitive to post (obvious to me but not to everyone else) answer here.


1.) Worst habit: pooping on shoe.

2.) Most embarrassing moment: When people take pictures of him whilst peeing

3.) Family dynamic (this is a question for those of you with more than one animal in the house. i.e. who is alpha? who is the cuddler? who is the naughty one? etc. I just want to know how you fit into the family!) Solos Lord and master of Universe. Thenk yoo.

4.) Your humans' FAVORITE thing about you!: Feet that smell like Fritos, Sounds he makes when sleeping, indomitable, unstoppable spirit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Anakin!

It's Anakin's birthday, and the poor baby has been going through a hard time lately. He had a surgery that's been difficult and we want him to know how much we love him!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goodbye for now, we love you and will be checking in!

We're off across the ocean on our next great adventure! Email/internet will be tough for a bit, so I wanted to tell you all not to worry, we will be reading your blogs and keeping in touch as often as we can!

Also, Walter and I opened a big box of NEW BOOKS! My third novel, MILLION LITTLE MISTAKES will unbelievably be out Aug 1, and if any of you want to reserve a copy, just call your favorite bookstore or go to Amazon.com to preorder/buy a copy As always, your support makes me (and Walter!) incredibly grateful.

If you're able to tell a friend about Million Little Mistakes or even post a link to the book on your blog, it's always the BEST way to spread the word. A recommendation from a friend is better than anything else! These book sales will help pay for Walters ongoing treatments, which as you know are pricey, but worth it. (The vet says it will likely take a year or more, but if we're able to keep with the treatments, those nerves will keep growing in the right direction!)

MLM is a choose-your-own-adventure book for adults, just like the ones we had when we were kids with multiple endings. Only in this book, you win twenty-two million dollars in the lottery and you can spend it any way you want. You can buy a private island in the Caribbean, or an antebellum mansion in New Orleans, or an underwater hotel. You can take a luxury cruise around the world, bet on horses, give all the money to charity, and a whole bunch of other ideas that many of YOU gave me. You might remember me polling y'all for ideas! (Okay, the really crazy/naughty threads, like going to "Sex Island" and/or where you buy descend into a gluttonous pit of debauchery, those might have been more my ideas...)

The premise behind the book is that eternal question, can money buy us true happiness? Possible answer? Sometimes it can and sometimes it can't! (Does that antebellum mansion turn out to be haunted? Do pirates attempt to hijack your luxury cruise? Will a charitable organization just buy paperclips with your contribution? How will you know who loves you?)

Since I wrote Million Little Mistakes during Walter's accident, injury and treatment, there are a lot of animal thoughts/threads in the book and of course, one ending is creating the perfect animal sanctuary. My personal favorite. You also may notice a WHOLE lot of threads where strangers help each other, where uncommon grace and random acts of stunning kindness are common. What can I say? Writers write what they know, and you all have made those things a part of my daily experience.

Wally and Heath

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Walter is so glad to be home, even though we're only staying a short while. He made a new friend, a Pembroke Corgi named MILTON!! I know he's not a pug...but wow. Cute butt award!!

Meanwhile, even though Walter still rolls on his ankle and "knuckles" when he walks without his shoe, I am noticing a definite improvement in how often he walks "correctly" too. (Not on Dorsal side.) He will stand and eat food now with leg held the right way. Could he be feeling more? His leg is still very weak and we're working on new exercises to strengthen the upper "hock" part of his leg. We've also increased his glucosamine and chondrotin, which promote joint health. I'm using "vibration therapy" on his pads, where I massage them with a vibrating massage gizmo.I also massage his hindquarters and back, by the nerve roots.

I'm also looking into a possible nerve grafting procedure using the cutaneous saphenous nerve (Yes, I've learned a little bit about neural anatomy during this time!) Basically, it's where a neurosurgeon takes a part of another, healthy nerve and grafts it to the injured site. The nerves, which grow like coral, will branch out and hopefully reconnect.

one problem, the only surgeon who has done this procedure is in England. So, naturally, I'm going to England.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Home Again

So long since we last blogged! Lots has happened. Wally and I did the long drive back to MN and made it safely home, where it's cool and comfortable. Key West gets mighty hot! Walter has been keeping up with his therapy and the BIG news around here is he took another ten steps without his shoe on!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another Star for Wallymon

Jeff Baenen's Associated Press photo of me and Walter the Pug won the MN Society of Professional Journalists "Page One" award for news portrait! We all know why this photo won...and it ain't the redhead. I remember when Jeff came to my house to take this shot. I told him to make a strange noise, so walter would look at him, and he made a high-pitched sound, like a tea kettle, causing me to smile and walter to tilt his head, "ba-roo?" Way to go Jeff!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

workin on it

Walter has been walking a little pigeon-toed in his shoe lately. I was afraid a bone had shifted, but a second set of xrays shows that all the pins are holding, and that this difference in walking could be due to....wait for it...NERVE GROWTH! Thats what we hope anyway. That those thin strands of nerves are weaving their way down to his toes. I really hope so - even though his foot has compensated for being walked on "upside down" (On the dorsal side) in an amazing way. He has actually developed pads on the top side of his foot. While it looks weird - as though he has truffles stuck on his foot, it's brilliant, because wherever there are pads, he doesn't get scraped up or bleed. It's the body's way of counterbalancing a new behavior. (walking on topside of foot!)Nevertheless, we're maintaining water therapy and accupuncture, as well as fish oil in the food and joint supplements. Pigeon toed looks like progress!

Nothing reduces the odds against you like ignoring them. ~Robert Brault,

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blackouts, spring storms, spring breakers and NO INTERNET!

HELLLLLLLLLLLLO! So so sorry we've been incommunicado for so long. Living on a tiny island 100 miles out to sea has it's perks, but it has its drawbacks too. Intermittent electricity for one. Also, hella ferocious storms, where torrential rain flies sideways and stings like needles and I think maybe we should lash ourselves to a palm tree, even tho everyone else takes it in stride.

The spring break kids also flood the island and careen around in rented electric golf carts, frequently banging into parked cars, and VERY frequently banging into my car, which is so uniformly dented at this point it almost looks like post modernist design. I'm told every year these youthful party people bring diseases from up north, and sure enough two weeks after spring break started, everyone in Key West started coming down with killer colds and a particularly nasty stomach bug.

The hardest part for us however has been the complete lack of internet access. Whatever dime store router we had went out, and upon calling the office for repair, we learned a little more about "island time." Many businesses here have a captive audience and little or no competition, so getting service can take weeks. I've never gone this long without connection and that combined with all the storm sponsored candlelight and old timey mustard plasters, I almost thought we'd turned Amish.

Then they fixed the internet! Back to civilization! We instantly forgot any of our piddly gripes and refocused our gaze on all things paradisey. Our tranquil backyard (see Walter above refusing to come out of palm grove), the aquamarine ocean, the fact we've made friends with people who have boats and have gotten to spend lots of time on said aquamarine water.

Not Wally tho. I don't want him trying to keep his balance on a speeding boat. He gets to bask in the air conditioning with a butcher bone whilst I play. I've adopted the Hemingway schedule, writing in the morning until 3-4 pm, then heading out for cocktails and sunset. Then I go back home and write some more. Wally gets 2 walks a day, and a long leg massage at night.

We still haven't seen the miracle walking again, but I'm convinced the nerves are growing. I can tell he feels more when I put his shoe on now, and he licks his foot intensely after a full day of wearing his shoes, which means he can feel something. Soaking his foot in warm water and epsom salts really gets the swelling down and seems to sooth the urge to lick, so we do that at least once a night now.

I have to catch up on all your blogs now, I'm terrified you've all moved on, moved away, or decided to forgo pugs for parakeets. Alas, I know I have nothing to worry about really - as it just so happens that pug people are some of the most wonderful and reliable in the world.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
-Harriet Beecher Stowe

"The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball -- the further I am rolled the more I gain."
- Susan B. Anthony

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Walter and I have been enjoying Florida. The main differences between the Sunshine State and the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes is the the presence of blooming flowers in winter, ubiquitous pastel buildings and nonstop pool parties. Also, alot more people come here for vacation. Walter has become king of the city, and my name is officially "Walter's Mom." Love it.

Looks like Wally and I will be able to enjoy our tropical oasis at least through fall. We found a great place (with a snappy deck)and wally likes to sit under the palms, while occasionally chasing a lizard. We found a great little community here and luckily our new place has central air, for when things get hot hot HOT!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This is Walter sleeping after our landmark trip to the vet yesterday. I have yet to snap him in therapy down here...we do alot and I never seem to have my camera ready. I need a third arm or a personal assistant. Maybe just a roving reporter to follow us.

So I've been writing about relaxing and palm trees since we got here, but what I've not said so much about is the AWESOME vet we found down here. Dr. G is amazing. She specializes in not only veterinary medicine (studied in Switzerland/Hong kong)but she also does accupuncture therapy and therapeutic massage. (There is a miracle here...it's coming after this initial set up...)

Dr G. met Walter when we first got here (bedraggled and road worn) and mapped out the nerve growth in his foot. She was able to pinpoint just where the nerve endings were, what was missing and had to grow and what was possibly already growing. (You may remember from the prognosis after the accident that while we all hope the nerves in his damaged foot will regrow so he can walk again one day without the shoe, nobody could say for sure. It's sort of up to the nerves.)

Thank God for Dr. Julia and the staff at TC rehab, because they were the only ones who did not give up on him. His primary vet in Mpls pretty much gave up on him, as did most "traditional" vets. But because of Dr. Julias work, and the shoes they designed for him, Walter just may walk again! Everyone, including Dr G. says the shoe is 100% essential as the nerves, when they grow, will follow to meet the demand the foot is asking of them, so the foot must be held correctly if the nerves are to grow correctly. tough when Wally can't feel his foot and drags it around like a dead fish!

One big problem is keeping his poor dead-fish foot in tact while being munched in a shoe all day. He gets sore spots, smooshed toes, basically everything that would happen to you if you had to wear a pair of high heels that pinched all day, every day. His toes were getting swollen, cysts were forming between them and I didn't even know for sure if any of this nerve-growth was happening. Getting out of the snow and ice allowed his open wounds to heal (cut them on the ice, skin got soaked in the slush, tore easily etc...) Now being in the warm weather has allowed us to resume walking. Key, key key to his healing!

Dr G. prescribed soaking wally's tootsies in Epsom salts every night, which helped big time with swelling. Then she taught me how to give his legs, toes and feet deep massage (which I'm to do every morning to "wake his feet up" and each evening to stretch them out/soothe them) and she began accupuncture and infrared laser surgery on him. (We had accupuncture at TC rehab too.)

I've been so busy enjoying myself, I was not prepared for what happened yesterday. I took walter in for accupuncture, and set him down. I took off his shoe so Dr. G could have a look at him. She was across the room (big lovely room with lots of Chinese art/furniture) so naturally Wally went over to her. But here's the thing.


Fifteen paces or more, normally, like any dog - holding his foot perfectly. I stared as though seeing a mirage. A hallucination. "Did you see that?" I whispered to Dr. G. She nodded and whispered "Yes I did." Walter sat down by now, because his foot was tired from just that little bit of walking and when he stood again, he knuckled like he always does, but it is still an incredible breakthru.

Dr. G. continued with the session but my mind was reeling. I have not seen him walk in EIGHT MONTHS. Her theory is this little bits of unassisted walking will grow over time. She told me he's going to wear the shoe for a long, long time still. a year or more...but the nerves ARE growing my dear, dear friends! THAT MEANS WALTER HAS A CHANCE - A VERY SERIOUSLY REAL CHANCE - OF WALKING AGAIN!!!!!!

I think all this rest, relaxation, increased accupuncture and massage built on the solid foundation of Dr Julia's work with water therapy and designing his shoe - it's finally pushed us into the NEXT LEVEL of healing. All this of course in wrapped up in the amazing love you all send us, and how we need it and use it! You all know I wouldn't be here without you. What can we ever do to repay the world and pug lover community, which has so completely risen to meet us?

I know! I will have a margarita tonight in your honor! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

pillow boy

walter seems quite comfortables here.

We're also sleeping together again! No more scamperland. We're together 24/7, just like the old days and each morning we get belly-on-belly time, which is heaven. He's also going on regular walks and I've got rugs down all over the place, so when he's sans-show he doesn't hurt his bare knuckles. he is still knuckling, like always, but I've been doing more and more research on nerve grafting and regeneration...i don't think we're out of options yet. There's a surgeon in England he's done incredible work transplanting olfactory cells (nose) into injured spinal cords and getting incredible results.

"No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking."


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy VD Day everybody's! We are settling into our new place...our car problems threw a monkey wrench in getting to the place we thought we were going in time...and whoah, was momma worried about figuring out housing, but then we found a new place with an awesome balcony! We still need to set up a play date with Eric and Louie! (hi Eric! Hi Louie!!) But really our new digs rock. Walter is wearing the purple heart sticker on his head, which the coffee place lady gave him. Everyone here is super sweet to walter and nobody can believe we drove from minnesota through all this snow to get here...but here we are! one of the only freaking cities in the united states without snow! Walter's been thru so much, dang-nabbit - he deserves it. I can't get enough of watching him walk in his shoe, unencumbered by ice as he smells flowers and pees on other flowers simultaneously. We are almost up to pre-accident length walks now. Plus we sneak on the beach and put our toesies in the ocean!
Walter loooves our new balcony. Note leafy palms and American flag waving poetically in the background...
Walter likes to squash his face up to the balcony holes and barkity-bark at passersbys...
more soon!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

we're HERE!

After many trials and tribulations, we have ARRIVED relatively unscathed by our travels. Thank you everyone who prayed for us...man, we needed it! I will post pictures when and if I can - right now it looks like internet connection will be almost nonexistent, so stay tuned and I will update everyone when I can. Suffice to say, we have reached PARADISE!! Palm trees, green grass, tropical landscapes and lapping water. We went through hell and voila! C'est heaven. Dreams really do come true!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Break downs, tow trucks and a lost shoe.

Oy. We aren't at our destination yet - we're still hotel-bound. The Gods are hurling every obstacle they can think of at us! First of all, this massive mega storm, which has meteorologists baffled because of it's endurance and erratic movements can be explained by the fact that IT IS FOLLOWING US. First an "ice pellet" storm in Kentucky then sleet and snow in Tennessee and finally, when we made it over to the Georgia border rain, rain, rain.

Then we broke down.

Yup. it happened right at the Florida border. we were so close! Just driving along when I heard a "pop" and all the warning lights in my car came on. I slowed way down, got on the shoulder and eeked off to the first exit/gas station I could find.

Luckily I have AAA (Take anything, but not my AAA membership!) and a tow truck came and got us pretty quick. I had to take everything I needed out of the car, so there's me shoving walter's stroller, bags, supplies etc... into the cab of the tow truck. Walter thought the whole thing was fantastic. barked his head off the whole time and earned the name "tuff lil buddy" from our tow guy.

This was all saturday around 5 pm, and I learned that all the mechanics in this tiny town were closed, and would be closed all day sunday. So we went to a hotel down the street from the shop and that's where we've been cooling our heels for the past two days. Of course, since I used all available cab space for wallys stuff, I only had the clothes on my back, which I have rinsed out in the sink two times.

it gets better.

to my dismay, part of walters shoe was missing. Just gone. The top part, the "ankle cuff," to which the shoe part attaches. Without this part, the shoe won't work. He can't walk. So I freaked. I searched everywhere, but it was just gone. Maybe it flew out the window. The rehab clinic ordered a new one, but it'll take a week to be made...so what do I do? I came all this way just so walter can walk on grass!!!!!!

First I wanted to cry and then I got mad. I said to myself, "Shut up Heather and JUST FIX IT!" So I got Walter settled and took a cab to Walmart. (That is a sentence I never thought I would write in my life btw...) I hunted down supplies. Big Velcro ties from the hunting department, chamois cloth from automotive, thin fishing line from the sporting section. Back at the hotel I built myself a MacGyver cuff! it works way better than the orgiinal, which slipped alot. I think because my velcro was thicker. Also, I lined it with chamois, so it doesn't rub his foot raw.

it doesn't look like much, but it took me an hour to make!

Actually, after I made the prototype, I had extra material so I made two more - for back up. I SHOULD have already had a duplicate - as it's so essential, but you know how that goes - sometimes you don't realize whats essential until it's gone.

Turns out the transmission pump blew and they had to order a part...so I'm now sure how much longer we'll be here in this tiny Georgia town, but you know what? We're having a really good time. There are PALM TREES here and a big GARDEN! I got to see my boy BOUND across the GRASS lawn on the grounds here, and sniff FLOWERS and poop right in the center of a carefully chosen GREEN PLANT. (his signature.) No ice to cut his feet, no snow, no wet soaking his shoe and causing infections between his toes. He's happy, so I'm happy. Plus we had grilled cheese sandwiches by the pool - so it's a certain sort of heaven.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melodie Beattie

Friday, January 29, 2010

STORM HAS STOPPED US (but not for long!)

This is what's happening in NASHVILLE people!

Wally and I were over half-way to our destination down south when we got blindsided by a freak storm. "Worst ice storm in a decade hits the Tennessee Valley" and THAT's where Wally and I are! I was too QUICK to say "we're almost there!" After a great start it took us 7 hours to drive a hundred miles today. We saw dozens and dozens of cars off the road. Semis, four-wheelers, trucks, state troopers...an ambulance - wham, all off the road. A combination of ice, freezing rain, snow, sleet and wind created some of the WORST driving conditions this northern girl has EVER seen.

Plus, these Tennesseans and Kentuckians, who are sweet and awesome and helpful do not know a lot about ice driving and why would they? The last time they saw a blizzard like this in the Tennessee Valley was 1996. They have no snow plows and bless their hearts, the DMV treated the roads with beet juice in preparation for the storm. Beet Juice? do beets have some naturally occurring antifreeze element? All I know is juice is liquid, and if they hosed the highways down with liquid before the storm hit - no wonder they were like skating rinks.

but FEAR NOT my dear friends! If there's anything this Minnesota Girl knows how to do - it's drive on ice. I was like a pace car on the highway today...driving "aggressively slow" with my blinkers on. We crawled the whole way from Nashville to Chattanooga at 10-12 mph and led about 20 cars, who also put their blinkers on, down the highway. The good news is we reached Chattanooga and landed one of the last hotel rooms in town. The bad news is there's a teen Christian music convention in town. Kids with guitars. Practicing. In their hotel rooms.

But Wally can sleep through anything!

This is a small set back - a trifle! We will not be stopped! We will however, be delayed. We're staying at a hotel until this ridiculousness ends. Walter has been a spectacular passenger and his backseat apartment has served as an excellent scamperland. The bad cut on his foot is almost completely healed now - it hampered rehab in a serious way - but it's almost totally better and I cannot wait for him to pee on grass!!!!! Meanwhile, anyone know of stuff to do with dogs in a blizzard in Chattanooga? Yup...looks like it's time to start the next book. :)

Eric, Steve and everyone in FL - we're coming! Hold tight!!!!!! Everyone please continue to pray for our safe travels...it's what kept us from going into the ditch today!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

almost there

im uploading this from my phone - hope it goes thru. We're almost at our destination!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ocean, here we come!

Has anyone ever seen this great commercial? A lady is working at her humdrum job when suddenly her little heart bursts out of her chest, goes into the bosses offices and quits. then it marches out of the building. The best part is the very end when it marches out on its little legs. AWESOME! and it reminds me of our upcoming roadtrip.

I know I told you we were going south but I didn't have time to tell you the whole story. Here it is. you all knew I was looking for a place to go - so I jumped on a plane. I had no plan or contact other than to "follow my heart." Goofy, simple, possibly stupid.

But get this.

When I flew down I met a really nice couple on the plane. I told them my story, that I was looking for a place because of Walter and we exchanged numbers in case I got near their neck of the woods near Key West. Then we all go our separate ways and I start my search, wending my way down the coast without any hotel reservations. (this is the week of New Years eve, NOT a good time to not have hotel reservations.) sure enough, by night four I was homeless. I called the nice couple from the plane, and asked if they have any friends who'd rent me a couch for the night. They called their friends and co-workers and whipped us up a little miracle.

One of their co-workers (HI STEVE!!) let me stay in the vacation cottage next to their house and right on the water for FREE. Then the next day we found a little pink house nearby that would be for rent Feb 1st and it's only one block off the beach. It is LESS (half) of the rent we pay now. And it gets better. we learned one of our soon-to-be neighbors has a pug, Louie (HI LOUIE!!!) and so when I met Louie's owners, I started explaining that I have this pug and he was hit by a car and we really need to move someplace warm...and the guy looks funny and he says:

"Is it Walter?"

I'm not kidding. I just stared. Thunderstruck.Turns out they'd been following Walter's blog and knew our whole story. I couldn't believe it. There I am, so far from home...and the people there know Walter. If that isn't faith rising to meet us, baby, I don't know what is.

So OFF WE GO into the wild blue yonder! and you're all coming with us!~!!!!! I am a bit nervous about everything, but mostly in an excited way. I am telling you all - Walter has taught me anything is possible and if you just have faith, the road will rise to meet you.

-Believe that some boundaries are meant to be crossed.
"Do not let your fire go out. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible it is yours."
- Ayn Rand

-Believe there is always, always a way.
"When you have exhausted all possibilities,
remember this. You haven't."
- Thomas Edison

- These quotes are taken from this amazing little book called "Believe." I highly recommend a copy for every household. I've re-read it almost every day - or anytime I get nervous about our trip. It's lovely. We will try to keep you posted from the road. I opted to stay in hotels rather than visit with all of you on the way, only for walter's stamina's sake. He has very sleepy days, and next to no excercise right now, so the trip will be exhausting for him. Meeting new people and pugs on top of that would be too much I think. Please pray for our safe travels. It is a long way to go. (also ice-free roads and fart-free back seats if you have extra time.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Birthday WALLY BOY!

My big man is THREE today! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Thank you God/Goddess/Universe/collaborative lifeforce for letting Walter live to see this wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Stimulating New Year!

Happy New Year everybody. 2010 has a rather auspicious ring to it, doesn't it? like this is already and important year. If 2009 taught me anything, (and lets face it, I got more lessons than a Rodeo Clown gets from a bull) I learned that life happens whether you're ready or not. It's also short (but sometimes feels long) and filled with beauty (as well as ugliness.) The most important thing is what you FOCUS on. The beauty vs. the ugly, the luck vs. the accidents.

The most amazing part of 2009 was the grace we were shown after Walter's accident. By people, by medical technology, by prayer.

Todays grace comes by way of electrodes and acupuncture. Yes! We have been waiting for this day for a long time. Walter's nerves and muscles had to get strong enough to even handle electro-stim and acupuncture needles. These hopefully help his nerves grow. Nerves, I've learned grow verrrrrrry slowly. We STILL believe walter will walk again. I know sometimes when he's putting on his shoe he flinches, and more than he used to, like maybe I'm pressing on something he can feel.

He really liked acupuncture. he didn't like sitting still, but the vet popped a "happy place" needle in his forehead and he went all melty ga-ga (for anyone unfamiliar with acupuncture, the "needles" are so fine, you can't feel them, so while these pictures make it look like we're doing something akin to medical experimentation to wally, he was actually conking out on my lap.)After the needles are placed they are hooked up to electric wires and receive a very (very) low vibration. It's like someone ringing a doorbell on wally's nerves and saying "Hello? HELLO?" We hope this will greatly improve Walters nerve growth! If you have any prayer time to spare, please pray for that nerve to grow!

The other good news is I think I found a place to stay down south. we are praying PRAYING we can work it out.

We all have the power to give away love to other people. And if we do so, we change the kind of person we are, and we change the kind of world we live in.
- Harold Kushner

You have to pick the places you don't walk away from.
- Joan Didion