February 15th, 2011

We had to say goodbye last night to our 13 year old golden retriever, Chance. We first met Chance when he was a year and a half old. We adopted him from a family going through divorce, and the young boy who had to give him up to move into an apartment that didn’t allow dogs was heartbroken. We let him visit with Chance for a few months to ease the transition for both of them.

Chance adjusted well and enjoyed his new home with us, even our cat Sammy,and we eventually added other pets to the family.  We lost Sammy and added new cats Willis and Selena. We adopted a new old dog, Roxie, whose family was moving to Texas. She was thirty pounds overweight and as we took weight off her, would get so hungry she would steal bread off the counter. We added a cute puppy, Darwin, who turned into a wonderful therapy dog. We lost Selena, probably to a coyote, her body was never found. We lost Roxie to cancer, and she died in my arms. We added another cute puppy, Edison, at the suggestion of the breeder we got Darwin from, to keep Darwin company when Chance was gone.

And so last night, be lost Chance, who had ruptured discs in his neck, couldn’t walk, and was in a lot of pain. When the pain became too much for him and for us, we let him go.

And now there are Darwin, and Edison, and our old cat, Willis.

But losing Chance has been the hardest loss of all of our pets. We was a wonderful dog and friend, and I’ll miss him terribly.

Happy Birthday, Edison!

December 28th, 2010

Happy Birthday, Edison! One year old!


August 6th, 2010

It’s always great when things that were going wrong with your world begin to go right again. I’m feeling really peaceful and enjoying the quiet of the moment and the peace I am feeling. In about a minute I’ll get up to feed the dogs, and they will fill the space with their energy. But this moment, just now, is peaceful and calm.

Hope all is well in your world, too.

Spontaneous Treats

May 23rd, 2010

“Dogs come to quantum physics in a better position than most humans. They approach the world with fewer preconceptions than humans, and always expect the unexpected…If dog treats appeared out of empty space in the middle of a kitchen, a human would freak out, but a dog would take it in stride. indeed, for most dogs, the spontaneous generation of treats would be vindication — they always expect treats to appear at any moment for no obvious reason.”

– “How to Teach Physics to Your Dog” by Chad Orzel

Well, of course — if dogs ruled the world, bones would rain from the sky! And the world might be a better place..

New Puppy, New Toys

May 17th, 2010

It always amuses me to see how new technology plays into our lives, and the things that we end up focusing on using different tools. With a new puppy in the house, I’ve had less time for my more serious contemplative thinking and blogging, and have turned to the lightweight tools of Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook which I can enjoy and play with in a few moments of time rather than long uninterrupted blocks of thought time. And I use Google Reader to keep up with all the hundreds of blogs I read.

You would think I might do similar things with all these tools, but no, they end up being very different sorts of creatures. On Tumblr, I’m enjoying a mix of gorgeous photography, humorous posts, and short inspirational quotes and writings. On Twitter, I’ve ended up following neighborhood restaurants that feature organic and local foods, and my favorite craft brewers, as well as friends around the world, news personalities abd news aggregators, and also some inspirational quotes and writings. On Facebook it’s a mix of high school and political friends and blog friends. My blog posts feed into my Tumblr account, my Tumblr feeds my Twitter account, and it all flows into Facebook eventually. So I guess I maintain some sense of connection. My Google Reader shared posts are available from a tab on my blog or in the Google Reader share that my friends read.

And all of this fits into the theme I developed for this year of being open to change, open to new things, and opening up myself to new media, new experiences, new circumstances. My deepest communications this year have been reconnections with old friends, bringing these long term relationships into new arrangements. I’ll be spending a week in Hawaii soon with one of my oldest and dearest girlfriends from high school and our husbands, But the new is here as well — with the new puppy, new toys, new ways of talking with old friends. We’re redoing our front yard, making it more drought-tolerant, upgrading the landscaping with new walls and steps, more structure but using less of more precious resources like water, and restoring native plants to the space.

Restructuring and repurposing our own lives has become ever more important in a world of rapidly changing communication and technology. Finding the balance of the new and making room for it with the old seems to be the major focus of my life right now.

Meet the new kid…. we have a little brother!

May 4th, 2010

All Name suggestions welcome!!!

Surf Dog Ricochet Raises Over $8200 for Quadriplegic Surfer

October 13th, 2009

Go Ricochet!!

San Diego, Calif. — Ricochet, the “Surfin’ for Paws-abilities” surf dog, exceeded her fund raising goals, and won 2nd place in the large dog category at the Surf City Surf Dog event on October 11th in Huntington Beach.

Ricochet has been leading a fund raising campaign for Patrick Ivison, a 15-year-old quadriplegic adaptive surfer for the last several months. As part of these efforts, she and Patrick performed a tandem surf demonstration at the Surf City Surf Dog event last Sunday with the goal of raising funds, as hundreds of onlookers enjoyed the tandem pair.

Ricochet’s fund raising goals were twofold: Raise enough money to cover the $2000 cost of Patrick’s new service dog, Kona from Pawsitive Teams, a local service dog organization. And, raise at least $5000 for Patrick’s intense physical therapy at Project Walk.

The WebMD Health Foundation, who is thrilled to help Patrick reach his goals, made a kick off donation of $3600, which helped Ricochet raise a total of $8200. Donations are still being accepted — to donate, click here.

Despite injuring her paw two days before the event, Ricochet was determined to do her job for Patrick, and competed in the large dog category of the surf dog competition, where she placed first. Ricochet then went on to the finals where she won 2nd place in the large dog category, and Patrick happily accepted her prize. But, Ricochet says “The best prize was raising more than $8200 for Patrick, and doing our tandem rides, which put a huge smile on Patrick’s face!”

Patrick suffered a C4/5 spinal cord injury as a result of an un-insured driver backing a car over him when he was a child. Patrick was diagnosed quadriplegic, and has used a wheelchair ever since, but uses an adaptive board to surf.

Ricochet was slated to be a service dog for people with disabilities, but had to be released from that role due to her strong drive to chase birds and other small animals, which could be dangerous to a person with a disability. She went from service dog to SURFice dog, and is now fundraising for charitable causes.

via CityDog Blog: Surf Dog Ricochet Raises Over $8200 for Quadriplegic Surfer.

Regrets… I’ve had a few…

July 10th, 2009



“Oh, Lord, it is not the sins I have committed that I regret, but those which I have had no opportunity to commit” — Ghalib

“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes” — Oscar Wilde

“Never regret anything you have done with a sincere affection; nothing is lost that is born of the heart”
– Basil Rathbone

“I have no regrets. I wouldn’t have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say.” — Ingrid Bergman

Diggin’ It

May 14th, 2009


VIa I has a hotdog

This pup reminds me of mine today — they have a golden-sized hole about a foot deep dug on the side of the house right now to keep cool. Fortunately the dirt is dry and fine enough not to stick to them. Hubby had to put pavers down next to the gate so they couldn’t dig there anymore, but their new spot is in the planter area next to the house. I suppose we could fill it again, but then they’ll pick another spot. May as well leave them this one to enjoy during the hot months, I suppose.

Hey, sometimes you just gotta get down and dirty!

More reasons to tweet

April 27th, 2009


No, really, xkcd wasn’t kidding:



Me, I got nuthin’.


Awesome Sauce

March 22nd, 2009

Darwin was full of win today, and covered in awesome sauce — he passed his Therapy Dogs International test with flying colors, and will now be an internationally certified therapy dog! Yay!

Also,  I’m off to San Francisco for the week, so blogging will be light if at all.  See you soon!

Escondido Humane Society for Paws in the Park 2009

March 20th, 2009


Please support Darwin (and me) for PAWS in the Park if you have a bit to spare!

We’re getting ready for the Escondido Humane Society’s Paws in the Park 2009 walk! Thank you for your support of my walk to raise funding and awareness for animals in need.

The Escondido Humane Society (EHS) cares for thousands of homeless, abused, neglected or abandoned animals every year. As a nonprofit organization, they depend upon animal lovers like us to support their lifesaving work. Animals cannot ask for help themselves – but animal lovers like you and I can ask on their behalf, and together, we can give them what they need and deserve.

This year has been difficult on so many, and animals are no different. More and more animals come to shelters every year, and it’s in times like these that they need us the most. Even if you cannot give as much as you would like to, know that every bit that you give makes a difference in the life of an animal. 100% of your donation to sponsor our walk at Paws in the Park cares for the animals at the Escondido Humane Society, who will transform your gift into safe shelter, healthy food, medical care, and TLC for an animal who truly needs us.

Think of an animal who has made a difference in your life, and do what you can to help other animals just like him or her. Please sponsor me as I walk in honor of all animals who need and deserve our support! Your gift is fully tax-deductible (Escondido Humane Society’s Tax ID #95-1661662), and will do so much good for dogs, cats, and all companion animals who need our help. Together, with other walkers, we hope to raise $100,000 for animals at the Escondido Humane Society. Join me today in saving lives – four paws at a time!


*** Message from Donna ***

Please support me and the Escondido Humane Society for Paws in the Park 2009!

About Donating Online
Donating through firstgiving.com is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to support Donna Woodka’s fundraising efforts.

Rough Water

March 19th, 2009

“Among the Mattole, conduct toward waves is prescribed: The water watches you and has a definite attitude, favorable or otherwise, toward you. Do not speak just before a wave breaks. Do not speak to passing rough water in a stream. Do not look at water very long for any one time, unless you have been to this spot ten times or more.

Then the water is used to you and does not mind if you’re looking at it. Older men can talk in the presence of the water because they have been about it so long that the water knows them. Until the water at any one spot does know you, however, it becomes very rough if you talk in its presence or look at it too long.”

And if it is salmon that chooses to lead some of us back to our immersion in the natural world, then our first order of business must be the survival of the salmon, the health of the waters.

– Freeman House, Totem Salmon

Days and nights, summers and winters.
Waves curling up, consumed by new waves.
The ongoing march of generations,
The vapor of water congealing into clouds -
Tao is cyclical, not linear.

The multitude of things are innumerable,
But they travel circularly.
Those who accord with Tao
Understand rise and fall
And gain clarity and insight.
Those who do not accept rise and fall,
Ride recklessly with misfortune.

Thus it is said: the secret of Tao lies in returning.

Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Dao

The wen person is someone who can read not just human language, but the languages of nature as well. There are patterns and secrets throughout the world — the rings of trees, and tracks of animals, and the traces of water down the sides of a valley are as clear as any scripture. The person who follows Tao does not blindly go through life, but is able to read it on every level. Those who follow Tao are those who know the many languages of life.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

Water wears away rock.
Spirit overcomes force.
The weak will undo the mighty.

Learn to see things backwards, inside out, and upside down.

Tao of Leadership

Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this, yet no one puts it into practice.
Therefore the sage says:
He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people is fit to rule them.
He who takes upon himself the country’s disasters deserves to be king of the universe.
The truth often seems paradoxical.

– Tao Te Ching 78

It’s Darwin’s 200th Birthday!

February 12th, 2009


No, not my Darwin, but the one he is named for, Charles Darwin:

MY fellow primates, 200 years ago today, Charles Darwin was born. Please join me in wishing him happy birthday!

He practiced a kind of ideal, dream-like science. He examined the minutiae of nature — shells of barnacles, pistils of flowers — but worked on grand themes. He corresponded with lofty men of learning, but also with farmers and pigeon breeders. He observed, questioned, experimented, constantly testing his ideas.

Could plants from the mainland colonize a newly formed island? If so, they would need a way to get there. Could they survive in the ocean? To find out, he immersed seeds in salt water for weeks, then planted them to see how many could sprout. He reported, for example, that “an asparagus plant with ripe berries floated for 23 days, when dried it floated for 85 days, and the seeds afterwards germinated.” The Atlantic current moved at 33 nautical miles a day; he figured that would take a seed more than 1,300 miles in 42 days. Yes, seeds could travel by sea.

He published important work on subjects as diverse as the biology of carnivorous plants, barnacles, earthworms and the formation of coral reefs. He wrote a travelogue, “The Voyage of the Beagle,” that was an immediate best seller and remains a classic of its kind. And as if that was not enough, he discovered two major forces in evolution — natural selection and sexual selection — and wrote three radical scientific masterpieces, “On the Origin of Species” (1859), “The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex” (1871) and “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” (1872).

The “Origin,” of course, is what he is best known for. This volume, colossal in scope yet minutely detailed, laid the foundations of modern biology. Here, Darwin presented extensive and compelling evidence that all living beings — including humans — have evolved from a common ancestor, and that natural selection is the chief force driving evolutionary change. Sexual selection, he argued, was an additional force, responsible for spectacular features like the tail feathers of peacocks that are useless for (or even detrimental to) survival but essential for seduction.

Before the “Origin,” similarities and differences between species were mere curiosities; questions as to why a certain plant is succulent like a cactus or deciduous like a maple could be answered only, “Because.” Biology itself was nothing more than a vast exercise in catalog and description. After the “Origin,” all organisms became connected, part of the same, profoundly ancient, family tree. Similarities and differences became comprehensible and explicable. In short, Darwin gave us a framework for asking questions about the natural world, and about ourselves.


You can find out more about Darwin Day here or here. Or do a google blog search on Darwin Day for lots of posts! The google logo today celebrates Darwin too, if you go to the main page.

My Darwin is named after Charles Darwin because the first couple of weeks he was here, he ate most of the plants in my yard. I figured he had to be a botanist. He’s also done pet education work with all kinds of animals, and was always just calmly and quietly fascinated with rats, mice, lizards, chicks, turtles, and all the other animals we worked with. So he’s just a naturalist at heart.


January 19th, 2009


Chance broke his dew claw on Saturday, so today he went to the vet to have it cut back behind the break. Owie…


The bandages are off today and he’s feeling much better.

As a bonus, all his other nails got a trim, too!


January 5th, 2009

Knowledge by Luis Cabrera

People think they don’t have to learn,
Because there is so much information available.
But knowledge is more than possessing information.
Only the wise move fast enough.

The amount of information available today is unprecedented. In medieval times a few volumes could form an encyclopedia of all known facts, or a despot could control his subjects simply by isolating or destroying a library. Now information is available to us in tidal proportions.

Some people take a lethargic approach to this enormity. They feel that if there is so much at hand, they do not need to actually learn anything. They’ll go out and find it when they need it. But life moves too fast for us to rely on this laziness. Just as the flow of information has increased exponentially, so too has the pace of decision making accelerated. We can’t be passive; we have to internalize information and place ourselves precisely in the flow.

It has been stated that the average human being utilizes 10 percent of his or her mental capacity. A genius uses only 15 percent. So we definitely have the capacity to keep up — if we unlock our potential. This requires education, experience, and determination. One should never stop learning, never stop exploring, never stop going on adventures. Be like the explorers of old. What they acquired for themselves will always surpass those who merely read about their exploits.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

Forget about knowledge and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times better off.
Throw away charity and righteousness,
and people will return to brotherly love.
Throw away profit and greed,
and there won’t be any thieves.

These three are superficial and aren’t enough
to keep us at the center of the circle, so we must also:

Embrace simplicity.
Put others first.
Desire little.

–Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 19

Renounce knowledge and your problems will end.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the difference between good and evil?
Must you fear what others fear?
Nonsense, look how far you have missed the mark!

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 20

Without opening your door,
you can know the whole world.
Without looking out your window,
you can understand the way of the Tao.

The more knowledge you seek,
the less you will understand.

The Master understands without leaving,
sees clearly without looking,
accomplishes much without doing anything.

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 47

One who seeks knowledge learns something new every day.
One who seeks the Tao unlearns something every day.
Less and less remains until you arrive at non-action.
When you arrive at non-action,
nothing will be left undone.

Mastery of the world is achieved
by letting things take their natural course.
You can not master the world by changing the natural way.

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 48

The more knowledge that is acquired,
the stranger the world will become.

– Lao Tsu, Tao te Ching, 57

The master seeks no possessions.
She learns by unlearning,
thus she is able to understand all things.

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 64

Knowing you don’t know is wholeness.
Thinking you know is a disease.
Only by recognizing that you have an illness
can you move to seek a cure.

The Master is whole because
she sees her illnesses and treats them,
and thus is able to remain whole.

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 71

I’ve always had a tremendous love of learning – learning new things is one of the greatest joys in life for me. These days, I sometimes joke that I don’t have to know anything because Google knows everything. But I still love to learn things for myself.

And yet, I also understand the admonitions of Lao Tsu about giving up seeking knowledge to seek the Tao. There is a point where we have worked so hard to understand something, and then, we seem to gain an instant insight and it all falls into place. I have found this while studying many different subjects, while dealing with difficult people, while trying to learn about myself, while trying to understand the world, and while studying the Tao. When we give up seeking to understand, suddenly, we simply do intuitively “get it”.

I always liked the expression, “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” Being an engineer, I have always had a real problem-solving bent, and greatly enjoy figuring out a solution to a problem. But life itself simply has to be lived – there is no special knowledge that will suddenly make your life wonderful. You simply have to decide life is full of wonder and go from there.

Tao is simply about how things work and how they change. That’s all. Once I understood that and stopped looking for more words to describe the feeling of Tao to me, I “got it”. I still like to understand how things work and how things change, but I no longer ask why they do – I just “get it”.

Happy Birthday to Gertrude

May 14th, 2008

One of Darwin’s friends at the Casa where we do pet therapy turns 106 today. Here’s hoping she will have a wonderful birthday!

I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it to her age, but if I did, I would hope to be as bright and alert and lovely as she is. She had a lap full of birthday greetings yesterday when we visited and plans for a big party today.

Roxie is at Peace

May 10th, 2008

My brave girl collapsed today and made her final trip to the vet.

She was ready to go and went very quickly, and beautifully. She is at peace…..

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
- Li-Young Lee
From Blossoms

This is not one of those days for me….


The veterinarian’s office sent a very nice sympathy card, signed by all of the staff members.
It’s nice to know you have a vet that really cares about your pets….

The Golden Cafe

April 18th, 2008

We took Darwin to the San Diego Humane Society’s Doggie Café for a meetup with the San Diego Golden Retriever Meetup Group. You can see more pictures here. We all had a very good time!

Cancer sucks

April 16th, 2008

My poor Roxie girl. Yes, I know it’s common for goldens to get cancer, and I knew when I rescued her we might get here one day. Today is the day.

My older golden retriever girl Roxie has been diagnosed with fibrosarcoma in her right hind leg, and I’m trying to get her comfortable and spend as much time with her as I can while she is still doing well. She was limping, but is now walking fine with her painkillers for now. She is a rescue we’ve had about three years, and a very old girl, so there will be no drastic measures that would cause her suffering, but we’re gonna make it fun for her while she’s with us.

If you are interested in helping dogs with cancer, you can donate here:


Rochell, who runs the foundation, also keeps a wonderful blog, mostly about goldens but also other working dogs, here: