Monday, December 10, 2012

2012: The Year of a Third Mulligan

As 2012 draws to a close, Mulligan celebrates yet another chance at life. Thirteen years ago we considered his rescue and adoption a solitary mulligan, befitting the time honored tradition of one chance at a "do over."

In 2011 we added a rare second mulligan to his CV when we chose amputation as a treatment for an aggressive osteosarcoma in his hind leg. Despite predictions of a 6-12 month survival, Mulligan will be celebrating his 24 month cancer-free anniversary on December 22.

Earlier this year he was offered an unheard of third mulligan when a life threatening breathing issue required immediate surgery.

Mulligan capitalizes on these opportunities by remaining a loyal and contented family member of the Shaffer household as well as the Elcona Country Club extended family. Both he and I wish you a new year filled with opportunities to start over.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Every Day is an Ice Cream Day

Soon after we adopted Mulligan, we began celebrating his birthday each year with ice cream cones for each of us. This  probably helped forge his early connection to car riding and happy events. At any rate, he is always up for a ride in the car. Unfortunately for him, sometimes our rides take us past the ice cream place to the vet’s office. These are two vastly different destinations: one anticipated, the other-not so much! Yet he never balks at an invitation to ride in the car. To him, all trips are ice cream opportunities, and, if once in a while he is disappointed when the car stops at the vet’s, he is willing to take that risk rather than miss a trip to get ice cream.

Once again, Mulligan has something to teach all of us. We should anticipate ice cream every day, while equipping ourselves to bounce back optimistically from anything less. It's worked for him for 14 years now. Happy 14th birthday, Mulligan!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Can't Live Without...

It's a common phrase, thrown around loosely to apply to anything from morning coffee to cell phones. But what really does matter that much?

Eighteen months ago, Mulligan was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, resulting in amputation of his left hind leg. I don't presume to know what Mulligan thinks, but it appears that he can certainly live without one leg. It's life as usual for him, with certain allowances for aging. Like humans, as Mulligan ages, I  can cross some things off the list of things he used to be able to do in his younger years: run and chase animals all day long, or get up and lie down with ease, for example. Yet he continues to thrive.

So I suspect it all has to do with purpose. We can live without many things, except a reason to get up each day.  Mulligan looks forward to his role as ambassador at Elcona Country Club where he greets golfers coming and going from the pro shop and shamelessly seeks out members who store treats in their golf bags. He accepts any invitation to ride in the maintenance cart, and he continues to prance and jump when I pick up my car keys to take us to work. He has a job to do.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Publicity Hound

Publicity is a weird thing. Many big businesses feel there is no such thing as "bad publicity" and that whenever a business can make it into the news, it should end up being beneficial in the long term. I'm not sure I agree, but maybe that's why I do what I do every day. I can say with great certainty, that Mulligan could care less about publicity, despite the additional attention he has been receiving at the club since the book has been published or the extra treats doled out by members these post-publishing weeks. Some of the club members have even chosen to reward his new star status with compressed peanut butter and oatmeal in the shape of a ordinary treats for this celebrity! Oblivious to all the fuss, he still maintains his normal "aw shucks" persona and remains unchanged, with the exception of his waistline. He still takes time to greet anyone with a friendly face.

Maybe there is a lesson to learn in all this. Granted, Mulligan has no way of comprehending why he's getting more attention these days; he just appreciates any and all food carrying friends. In the grand scheme of things, there is a subtle undertone on one of life's lessons here. Just because fame and or fortune come your way, it doesn't mean that your attitude or personality need to change. Unfortunately it is easier said than done, unless you are Mulligan.

Now that the first mention of the book has hit one of the golf industry magazines (Golf Course Trades, December 2009), I have been receiving numerous comments and questions about my life with Mulligan and the publishing of the book. There are also many stories being told by fellow superintendents about their own experiences with their dogs. I encourage any of you reading this post, or any of the past posts, to leave comments or share your own stories. I will try to reply to as many as possible. In the next couple of months, there should be some additional publicity in Golf Course Management and Golfdom magazines. Keep your eyes open!

Friday, August 14, 2009

What's All the Fuss About?

During the last week I've had the privilege of doing two phone interviews about my book, View from the Cart, with radio station WTRC in Elkhart, IN and Golfdom Magazine. Apparently, Mulligan doesn't know he's becoming a celebrity. Unlike cats, who claim notoriety as a birthright, Mulligan goes about our daily routines with his customary "aw shucks" persona. He's not sure why more members at Elcona Country Club are stopping to chat and offer treats these days, but he's appreciative, as always.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

View from the Cart: The Writer's Perspective

People have asked me "An elementary school teacher and golf course superintendent collaborating on a book? How did that work?" I'm going to turn the blogging pen over to my mother and author, Jan Shaffer, for this post. She can probably answer that question more articulately than I, so here are her comments.

The collaboration process is easier to understand if you listen to one of the audio files Greg sent me as we began working on the book. If you have the book, you can compare the finished chapter (pages 16-17) with the initial file and see the process in action. This is the story of hiking with Mulligan in Golden Gate State Park in Colorado.

Greg has so many interesting anecdotes about Mulligan, that I threw the "what if we wrote a book" idea out to him last winter. We both believed Mulligan's story had elements that could make an engaging story with a very unique point of view. We also knew that time was a factor. Mulligan is eleven years old, now, and we certainly didn't want to be writing a eulogy. Greg wanted a recorded history of Mulligan's life for himself and his family, and I believed I could make his efforts more meaningful if we could combine my limited experience with publishing the Summoning Stone children's books with his stories. Greg also thought readers might like to know more about the life of a golf course superintendent, too. It seemed like a natural fit and, if you've read View from the Cart, I hope you'll agree.
He sent me 20 audio stories that I transcribed and turned into short "life lessons" by adding quotes and introspective comments. One of the more interesting challenges came from my husband who suggested this would be too feminine if a retired female elementary school teacher and mother added her perspective. To check that out, I found Gender Genie, a website that analyzes text for gender, and submitted one of the finished stories. It came back with 68% of the indicators showing it was written by a man! My husband became a valuable sounding board and objective critic during this process.

I would mention that Greg's brother, Kirk, our go-to tech guy, works for Yahoo! and takes care of special website requests, like linking this audio file, for all of our websites and blogs. This really has been a family effort: a story teller, a writer, a techie and a critic! If you enjoyed the book, feel free to tell a friend and/or leave a review on the publisher's website!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From Blog to Book

View from the Cart: the Story of Mulligan, a Golf Course Dog is finally published and ready for purchase. There is something for everyone in this story of second chances. Dog lovers will make a connection to a wonderful Black Lab, while golfers will appreciate the description of the golf courses and peek at a golf course superintendent's life. The book's 8th grade readability level makes it a quick read appropriate for readers from preteen through retirement!

Ten anecdotes invite readers to take a ride on a golf cart and see Mulligan at work. Stories include such topics as golf etiquette for the course dog, Mulligan's first ladies' day, encounters with members and other wildlife, work related injuries, and a touching story of his adoption from the Colorado Lab Rescue group.

Purchase or preview View from the Cart: the Story of a Golf Course Dog written by Greg Shaffer in collaboration with children's book author Jan Shaffer.