Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
Bloody mud piles, play
dig your mean gut, soul, under
Won’t cry over you.
I admit, you were a very bad puppy when you were young but I’m sorry I called you Lucifer and the “Puppy From Hell.” You really acted like the devil incarnate but I should have kept those feelings to myself. I thought you would never change from that biting, horrific puppy you were, EVER. My friends told me you would grow up but I honestly didn’t believe them; you were nasty and mean and had that defiant puppy look in your eyes, that “dare me” look. I remember screaming out loud in agony when your dagger like teeth would bite and hold on to my flesh. I had red, swollen welts and scratches all over my arms and legs. We all did.
My mother would be on the phone and I would shriek in pain and would have to hang up and call her back because I had to physically detach your teeth from my wrist. I swear you were out to kill me. My mother, protective as always, was completely direct and told me to “give you back.” “Return her, right now” she said, “before you get more attached.”
I couldn’t do it. I just did not have the heart to return you to the shelter, it’s not who I am. But honestly, you were a living hell. We had trainers come, one after the other, some of the best in the United States, all of them shook their heads and said “she’s a willful thing, isn’t she?” We already knew that. You had dragged me into a dirty pond when you were six months old, I hadn’t realized your strength. I didn’t give up the leash because I had no idea where you would go, so you pulled me in after you. I have a photo of you and me, me and my white, muddy pants coming home with you, puppy, looking quite pleased.
You went into our garbage cans, and ate used tissues and ballpoint pens, leaving ink stains everywhere. You were always wild, once you got yourself stuck in a fence and I thought for sure your head would be decapitated but your “sister” figured out a way to dig you out. Thank her, I was useless. You always ran away, we could never find you, though you always loved food and would return for a nice, big, juicy treat. “Breaking Bad” was the name of a popular television show, “Being Bad” was your personal motto.
Then, from one day to another, I couldn’t even pin point the time, you changed. All of a sudden, you calmed down and were always near me. If I was sick, you would jump on the bed and lie with me, part of you always touching me. With a chronic pain illness, Fibromyalgia, I’m in bed a lot and you are at my side, always. In the living room you would always climb on the couch and settle down right next to the person sitting there. After that you settled down and gave sweet kisses and charmed everyone. You love people. You even offered your paw, like Lassie.
But when a stranger passes or someone knocks on the door, BEWARE! You growl, bark, show your teeth, protect us. A car door can slam and you are on the job. But, now, you are one big love, one sweet endearing, mush and I appreciate you every minute. I guess we both needed to learn to be more patient.
Now, you are in my lap and I’m giving you pieces of chicken, it’s just you and me. I love you, Lexi but you know that and I know you love me too.
Do over. Can I call do over? Because this entire past week, has been downright miserable. Medical tests, doctors appointments, dizziness, nausea, balance tests from hell and condescending (male) doctors. I thought it was all over and I was safe last night but then my dog projectile vomited yellow stuff all over the white wall. I prided myself on having two kids that had never done that, now, my dog? After having children, you know when something is up or about to be up chucked. Ugh.
I write about food and my love for food and strange combinations. How did I rescue a puppy from the shelter with the same feelings about food? Heads up to the “nurture” theory, I swear she gets so excited at mealtime that she throws up in anticipation. Leave it to us to have a dog with food issues and who is an actually dog “foodie.”
Tonight, I thought ahead, I gave her a third of a cup of dog food before dinner just to calm her down and will give her the rest of her meal later. I also soak her meal in warm water so her delicate stomach can absorb the food. If it happens again, I’ll call the vet and see if there is an anti-acid that I can give her to stop this anticipatory reaction. Oh dear, the dog is just like me “nature” I too have anticipatory anxiety at times. Win-Win!
Unfortunately, I can no longer take the dog out for walks unless I am with my husband. Lexi is so strong, all muscle that she will literally pull me down in two seconds flat. She doesn’t mean to do anything wrong but she is incredibly muscular. I, however, have no balance and it’s gotten worse. Using a pink cane is not exactly an asset while walking an elephant strength, red-haired, adorable, short-haired mutt around the block. Please, no more advice, we have every collar, leash, zapper that is known in the animal kingdom, she defies all odds. Four well-respected dog trainers have admitted that. We are focusing on love, her better quality. She’s a sly, slick dog, that is so stubborn she makes me seem like a pussy willow.
Now, she does look like an angel lying down on my bed next to me. Not only does she keep me company if she knows I am feeling weak or tired, her head or her side, some part of her is always leaning in to me, always touching but with strength. With the kids in college it’s nice to have my dog home with me, she protects me and loves me. She barks like an attack dog if someone even passes in the street outside.
The last day of the week is warm and beautiful. The late afternoon sun is shining on the yellow-orange leaves, it is quiet. I’m hoping tonight will be the end of this past horrific week. Next week already has its own scheduled appointments and tests so we start anew. A dear friend of mine called me “awesome” but there really is nothing awesome about me. We all do what we have to do, we don’t have a choice, here, on my blog, is where I can think out loud, complain, where people understand me. There is nothing more I can do, except looking at alternative health care, meditating and continuing on, step by step, day after day. To me, there is no other choice.
nothing feels better and happier than my dog lying straight across my feet, her favorite position while i am in bed and its cold outside. i’ve been in my bright yellow with cherries pajamas for the whole day and i would be happy to be in them for another day or two if only i could. it’s my dog, lexi’s first birthday, it’s truly a miracle how the time has gone by so quickly, ok, well it feels like it now. oh, don’t think I have forgotten the early days, no, no, no, believe me i haven’t. i remember the tearful puppy days when i cried out for help. “she’s just a puppy” my dear online friends would say soothingly and that was true but an active, stubborn and willful puppy with the strength of an ox. my family of friends would coo, “chew toys are good” but nothing was safe in our house from this fierce princess, our little warrior. furniture legs were eaten, chairs, tissues, my husband’s computer toys, sixty dollars, pants, shirts and sentimental items from the past. our arms and legs were riddled with red welts as lexi would grab on to our hands or legs, bite them with her sharp teeth and would not let go. there was always someone screaming from pain in our house.
now, lexi, has a new habit she howls in the back. is it joy, is it for attention, does she spot an animal. we think it’s for sport. she looks like a young deer, red and long, she howls like a wolf. we just don’t know why she does this but i can practically see her grinning like a young teenager getting a real kick out of annoying her parents. i’ve seen that look before, many times.
i remember the first time i saw her it was love at first sight. she was curled up at the shelter, probably drugged, fast asleep having been shipped from north carolina or south. i thought she was mellow, she sure had me fooled. my best friend sarah drove and i had gone just to look, i had been at several shelters before but i knew i needed another dog in my life after my first dog, callie, died of pancreatic cancer. i was missing a part of myself, i think this made me a dog person officially. when i adopted lexi i told her that lexi has two mommys since sarah was there with me. i called my husband from the shelter to prepare him, he was not as enthused as me. he could easily have waited several years before we adopted another dog. i said “congratulations, it’s a girl” he answered with with a wry laugh. after 24 years of marriage he’s used to me by now.
i had a healthy, active puppy. the way a puppy should be. our last dog was very scared and timid and probably had been abused, all she wanted was to be comforted in my lap. i didn’t know what a real, healthy, energetic puppy was like. i learned quickly to substitute toys and the miracle of ice cubes but this girl was too fast for anyone. it has been quite the year with our girl. once in a while she still jumps on people with delight and we are working on that. this puppy is ridiculously strong, even second mommy and daddy agree so there have been times, like when we go to the vet, (she loves it there) she will drag me and all the people at the vet just shake their heads and laugh at me. we’re working on that too, suggestions are welcome. i believe she understands the command “come”” but it has to be followed with the word “cookie” that’s just so me. right? when there is someone outside our door lexi is our great protector, she barks and growls angrily and furiously, she becomes mean and proprietary.
at the end of the day, when the lights are off, having lexi in the house is comforting and sweet. not only did we find each other, we saved each other.
happy first birthday, lex. i love you bunches.
love, original mom
There were too many people inside my parents house. They talked too loudly so I slipped out the door in my black down coat and covered my cold, red ears with an old gray hat and crouched behind the bushes. They were probably all drunk. The clinking of glasses sounded like mirrors being shattered. I didn’t care if it was my mother’s birthday party. Who did they think they were to have a place this garish when they didn’t need it? It was all for show.
Unfortunately, I’m their 18-year old misfit daughter, Lindsey. I embarrass them all the time by the way I talk, the way I dress. They are pretentious and all they care about are their fancy clothes and their BMW cars, glossed so they gleam in the light. If you asked either my mother or father if they knew anything personal about any guest invited they would come up blank. Their uplifted, tightened faces would freeze and they would change the subject: “Would you like another drink, darling?” These are all plastic people, acquaintances to be used to just get ahead. They really don’t know about each others children, lives, troubles, they just need each other like the stepping-stones to get to their private yachts. I despised them all.
I’ve never been used to the amount of money that my parents would throw at me as if to entertain me. “Here, darling, here’s five hundred dollars, go buy yourself something” my mother would say, waving her hand away. “Umm”I said, just standing there, silently pleading for her to look at me. She never glanced over. Our conversation was over, she tried to buy my love with money. As if. I wasn’t stupid, I stashed that money away and I had a huge pile saved up in my sock drawer.
Later that night, I shoved all my money in my a bag, took the keys to my dad’s car and left. I was going to my boyfriend Adam’s house, the only person I loved and trusted. I had done this many times before. My parents never even knew I was gone.
In the morning I went with Adam to the *animal shelter where we worked. I loved it there. This was a place where I could go and feel love, unconditional love and I never wanted to leave. My parents would never let me adopt a dog but I had always wanted one since I was a little kid. I begged and pleaded but my mother refused; she didn’t want a dog to “mess up her carpet.” That pretty much summed up our family.
Adam and I had worked at the shelter for about a year now. We cleaned and held the puppies and fed them, stroked their soft fur, wiped out their smelly cages, fed them and gave them water. Then we walked and cleaned the older dogs, same thing every day but it never got boring. Me and one dog who was about a year old were best friends. I named him Rex and he was special to me. I was going to adopt him that very same day.
I hated my life here and Adam hated his. Adam, Rex, and I were going out on the road. I would never have to see my parents again and I knew if they looked for me at all, they would stop in a week. I was an embarrassment to them. I didn’t fit in with them but Adam and I fit together. Rex was MY dog, and we knew, when we set out that day, we would never ever, look back.
*Both my dogs are from animal shelters, please save a life if you can.
Finally, I live in a small white house that has a yellow door. Imagine just locking and unlocking my door every day, several times a day, makes my smile light up like a jack o’ lantern. I don’t like too flashy or bright colors but rather, warm and welcoming. Framing the house, and in the small garden, are yellow flowers, all different kinds, but easy to take care of and maintain. In the warm weather, I sit in my garden and slowly sip my hot tea, with cream and sugar, and I take a few moments appreciating this lovely bit of a place. My big, rescue dog, named Shep, lies beside me and I stroke his fur and he puts his head on my lap. I marvel at how wonderful my older life has become, feeling the sunshine on my face and how much I appreciate my simple life here, at home.
After our family dog, Callie, died from cancer of the spleen from one moment to the next, I was heartbroken. We all were. This happened shortly after her tenth birthday party, a tradition in our home, mocked by the boys but revered by the girls. This year, being her BIG birthday, even the boys made an appearance and I was so happy. I even bought the number 10 candles and put them in her special mushy dog food that we gave her once a year as a treat. Little did we know it would be her last birthday and that she would die shortly thereafter. My son took me aside after she died and said quietly “Really glad you had that birthday party, Mom, it was a good party.” Of course, I burst into tears but was grateful.
Of the four of us and our neighbors, I was the most emotional; I’m always the most emotional. I couldn’t walk around our small, cozy house without crying. It was too quiet in the house, no one followed me or greeted me at the door, no one loved me like Callie did and I missed her desperately. I grieved intensely for a while and then decided I was the type of person who needed a dog. Against the lectures of my family, I started visiting animal shelters on my own, with my husband and with my friend, Sarah.
After months of visiting, holding, petting, I hadn’t found the right dog for us. I had been told to adopt an older animal (and next time I really will) but at this point I didn’t want to miss a minute of a puppy’s young life. I looked at older dogs but not seriously. I was happy just being near dogs and puppies until one day, my thirtieth trip to an animal shelter but the second trip to the North Shore Animal League, my friend Sarah and I walked in and my eyes met the sleepy eyes of a rust colored puppy, curled up in a circle, sleeping. I had just met MY dog. We fell in love. I asked to see her, this “German Shepard Mix” and soon I was led to an inside room and she was in my lap, all kisses and hugs and sleepy sweetness. When another woman asked me if I was taking that dog, I immediately said “Yes, this was MY dog” and so she became mine. My friend Sarah and I filled out the papers, (I tell the dog that she has two mommies) and I called my husband and said “Honey, it’s a girl!”
I named her Lexi (were both names from my favorite show Grey’s Anatomy?) and I sat in the back seat, Lexi sleeping in my lap, while Sarah drove us home ever so carefully to avoid the huge pot holes in the road. I did not substitute Lexi for Callie, it was a different love, a new love, a love I had to grow into and an important lesson to learn. There are no two loves alike in this world. You can love equally but not exactly alike. This applies to every type of love there is, it’s a huge life lesson.
I admit, I had forgotten what having a puppy was like, after all, I was ten years older now and that makes a big difference. I think my puppy years are behind me and while I know I will always be a “dog person” I can see adopting an older dog in the future. But, what was most different were their personalities, Callie was a lap dog, a fearful dog, terrified of being in cars, scared of people, perhaps abused before she came to us. She liked nothing better than to stay at home in her comfort zone, yet she was perfectly attuned to my feelings. Lexi, wild thing, crazy dog, likes nothing better than to hop in the back seat and go for a ride, has the strength of a bull, loves to play, jump and go places and hasn’t shown a lot of tenderness (yet.) She’s fun and playful and but when I fell on the ground once, she didn’t leave me, I even saw concern in her eyes and gratitude in mine. Once she’s through her puppy phase I’m hoping she will settle down and be a really great dog. Actually, I’m counting on it.
When our dog, Callie died, I thought I would never feel happiness again. She was my first dog, the most gentle, shy, docile animal on the planet. She was scared of everything and only wanted reassurance and comfort; she loved my lap and my bed. She was frightened of external stimulation, loud noises, new people, she just felt safe with her family. We, of course, got her from an animal shelter and adopted her at six weeks; she had already been adopted at four weeks by another man. She was sweet and loving, and could read my feelings better than anyone else. Callie saw me through my father’s death, the most painful experience of my life. When I cried, she licked my tears and wouldn’t leave my side.
The risk you take of getting a shelter dog is that their past is somewhat of a mystery and you need to accept that. The dogs or puppies do come with some baggage, but really, don’t we all? I’m definitely a rescue dog person, I can’t, personally, see the need to go to a pet store to buy a pedigree but it’s just my personal preference.
Callie was an amazing first dog, she was not a problem for one second except that she was afraid to socialize with other dogs, wary of new people and was anxious. Our backyard was fine for her, walks were okay but she needed to stay close to home and she hated the car. I always dreamed of taking her to the beach or a lake so she could swim but she got near water and ran away, terrified.
When, from one day to another, she wouldn’t look me in the eye and yelped quietly twice, I brought her to the vet, he told us that there was a mass on her spleen and he needed to operate. Once he operated he saw that 75 percent of her body was filled with cancer. We were in shock; there were no signs. She didn’t even trouble us in her pain, her last, dying days. We did not want her to suffer, the vet suggested we end her life while she was in surgery and we agreed. With the lovely technician, Stephanie, covering her face with kisses, Callie left our world, without suffering any pain. Pain was for the human beings she left behind, extreme pain.
I didn’t think I could get over it. I cried, all day and night, she was my girl. We understood each other and for at least a solid month I was depressed and nothing could get me out of it, except time. I found I also needed to be near other dogs so I visited other animal shelters. I wasn’t ready to adopt but being around dogs helped me heal. I went to shelters about twice a week, looking at the older dogs, smiling at the puppies, asking about volunteering. Each time I thought I was honoring Callie, little did I know I was helping to heal myself.
My husband and I went to a couple of shelters together, he was definitely not ready to adopt but he was open to looking. We looked together but there wasn’t a dog that “felt” right and that was fine. A couple of weeks later, I went with my friend, Sarah, and what I was looking for was sleeping right in front of me, curled up like a little cinnamon cupcake. I loved her immediately, or rather fell in love with her. I did walk around the shelter (not really seriously) but I came back to “my” dog and asked to hold her. It went quickly from there, adoption procedures were started, I welcomed her to our family.
Yes, I thought about my chronic illnesses, Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and my age, 55 with a new puppy. It really is like being a mother to a newborn. Did I doubt myself? A couple of times. Did I regret it? Not for a second. Is it challenging? As Sarah Palin used to say “You Betcha.” I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Lexi is NOT Callie’s replacement, there is love in my heart for many people and now I know, many dogs. She is nothing like my first dog, my first love. She is a rambunctious, rebel-rouser, biting, jumping, super-active pup. She has found the stairs and climbed up them in three days; we had to train Callie to go up them because she was so scared. Lexi is fearless, too fearless sometimes and we need to work to reign her in. As you can imagine, my nickname for her is “Marley to the Max” based on the wonderful book “Marley and Me.”
How can you heal a broken heart? Many different ways, of course. For me, I welcomed a homeless puppy into our home. One crazy, willful, gorgeous, “*mutt-a-gree” dog with big brown, rebellious eyes and short, warm, silky fur. Do I still have my chronic aches and pains? Yes. Do I feel them more? Sometimes, but I can’t concentrate on them, I don’t have the time. Am I happy? Absolutely. Did I do the right thing? For me and my family, for our new puppy? Without a doubt, yes. There is no doubt about it, we saved each other. each other.
**Lexi, 10 weeks
DEDICATED TO STEPHANIE
Pedigrees Need Not Apply
Without a doubt I’d be a dog, but not just anyone’s dog, but my dog. A dog in my family is loved beyond reason, is treated with kisses and hugs and table treats and secret snacks. She is adored, deeply, fully; we go on walks, we play games in the back yard; I warm my feet underneath her body when she lies on the bed with me. We have a pretty albeit small home, we feel safe here together. My dog, Callie, gives back every ounce of love she gets and more. Every time one of us walks in the front door she is so happy to see us that she gives kisses and hugs and licks; there’s always a celebration at our house. A celebration of love and yes, she gets a small birthday party every single year that my daughter and I throw along with our neighbors. My husband and son are no longer even INVITED.
Besides, the dog and I have a secret promise together, something only we know. I promised never to leave her, ever, but also, not to let her suffer terribly in pain down the road. We will make decisions together, she and I, and that I will be with her, looking into her beautiful velvet eyes, as the last person she sees, the person who loved her the most.