I’m So Sorry, Puppy

Dear LexiI am sorry Lexi

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.Lexi 2

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Come what may (Carry on Tuesday)

Old Man Grieving - Vincent van Gogh

Old Man Grieving – Vincent van Gogh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life can be very scary. In one second your entire world could change, blow up into tiny, little pieces. Destroyed. The world you once knew would become Before and After. Usually, unless this change is winning the 22 million dollar lottery, this does not usually occur in good situations. Am I right? In everyday life there are always tragedies that come unexpectedly,  probably things completely different from what you worried about and it never is good.

It’s called growing up. Realizing that sometimes there is fear hiding around the corner, which eery corner you have no idea but for a time it will be dark. You tend to forget about the dangers in life for brief periods of time when things go along swimmingly until something happens and then you realize “yes, it’s been quiet for too long.” As John Lennon used to sing “Life is what happens, when you are making other plans.” The unexpected, the things you didn’t plan for, the strong red slap stinging and leaving an imprint across your pale, white face.

Hold on to someone tight, a best friend, a spouse, a partner, a sister or a brother, anyone. Because, when bad things happen you will need someone who you trust and love, someone who loves you back. A person who will try to soothe you even though you think it may not help. Let them try, accept their offer to make you a hot cup of cocoa with marshmallows to comfort you A person that will make you lie down and force you to rest no matter if you can’t sleep, a person you can cry in front of alone or just someone to hold your hand and cover you in soft blue blankets.

Life is not easy, though we don’t realize that until we are older, but come what may, having someone, to share it with, makes it just a little easier to breathe because you have them and their support.  While your heart is still literally in pain and skipping beats eventually your own heart starts beating at a similar rhythm you had before. You are still alive. You will grieve your loss in your own way, take your  time and try to let your feelings out.  Mourn YOUR way. There are no steps to follow to make it easier for you.  My sister once told me after our father died, that I was “grieving too much.” I knew I wasn’t, I was just grieving louder, and expressing my grief differently than her. We also had a very different relationship with our dad. There is no right or wrong, no time limit, no book to follow.

Sooner or later, with time, you will see that while the pain never completely goes away, it becomes less potent, it happens less often and with less severity. You might even find that one day, you will talk about the loss of a person you loved with a smile of fondness and love. You might think that you had the opportunity, the blessing to love someone and have them in your life for so many years instead of focusing on them dying and leaving your life.

Just two weeks ago I held up a new pen that I knew my father would love for Father’s Day. I picked it up and smiled broadly with delight. I was on my way to the register when I remembered I had no father to give this to. Life will get better, with time, after loss. Truly, it will, I know that. But don’t let anyone tell you that you will never have any tough moments. I can’t lie to you, once in a great while, you will.

happy first birthday, lexi

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.

Little Lexi

Little Lexi

Lexi

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

I Blame My Dog 100 Percent

Dog sunny Day Afternoon

Dog sunny Day Afternoon (Photo credit: allert)

It’s not my fault that I fell yesterday, really. It’s HER fault. My dog, (mega-puppy) pulled me so hard that she knocked me down on the driveway to greet our neighbors across the street. Granted, I am not strong. I have Fibromyalgia and NO balance so that is my “fault.” She left me lying down on the pavement. Twice. What happened to dogs being loyal? Not this one. I tried to get up and what does she do? She yanks the leash again and down I stay with another set of bruised knees (on top of the last set.)

I didn’t have time to drop the leash, this girl is fast and strong.  Not to mention that she made me drop my Fribble! To those of you who don’t know (and I am a recent convert) a Fribble is a milkshake that Friendly’s makes from soft serve (my friend Mark said it was from ice-milk so I’m not 100 percent sure if either or both are correct.) It’s cold, thick, creamy and utterly ( those of you who really know me, I was tempted to say udderly) delicious. Lexi made me drop my coveted vanilla Fribble all over the driveway and the rest of the day went downhill after that. Thank you Lexi.

So, with bumps and bruises all over, I limped into the house with super-puppy in the hands of our neighbor and my husband helping me up and inside. It’s time for the big guns to be called. I know I have a balance issue and yes, I know I am not strong but this is getting ridiculous. My husband is threatening to call the canine police trainer and have him come out and train Lexi to behave. He was here once before and always said she was a willful pup; I hate to break her spirit but she needs to learn to behave before I break my spine. Before he comes, I am trying to train her myself, with a very short leash and many clicking sounds.

I can always go back and get another Fribble but I can’t afford to be falling anymore. I love my dog, returning her is NOT an option. (You know who you are who suggested this) She is now sleeping on my bed, keeping me company but I do need to train her so she doesn’t pull so much. I have tried every leash in the universe. Lexi, you’re a cute puppy, but I have never met a stronger, more willful puppy anywhere. Even my friends agree that you are incredibly strong for one so young. I’m hoping you will mellow and I know you will be a great dog. You are now seven months and yes, still a puppy. When exactly do you become an adult dog and calm down? For my part, I will try to do some strength building exercise slowly, I promise. We’re in this together.

Learning To Love Lexi

Lexi – photo by author

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.

Plinky: Are You A CAT, DOG or Other Person?

  • Cat Lady? Not This Chick!
  • Meet Lexi
  • WOOF!!!
    I am totally, completely, officially and enthusiastically a DOG person. I had a cat when I was growing up and I did love her however I became very allergic to cats. Besides, cats are too aloof and independent for me. I got my first dog (from an animal shelter) ten years ago and I loved her with all my heart. She was everything you could want in a dog and more: affectionate, beautiful, sweet, gave unconditional love, a lap dog and truly my best friend. She was a dog with a soul. She sensed my emotions and when my dad passed away she would always be near me, licking up my tears.
    When Callie, died abruptly from cancer of the spleen exactly ten years later I was heartbroken. I never thought I would get over it, she was the best, most beautiful dog ever, her black and white tail was like a long paint brush always sweeping from left to right.
    I didn’t like my life without a dog so I started going to animal shelters a couple of months after she died. Against my husband’s better judgment to get an older dog, I fell in love with a tiny, brown short-haired puppy. As soon as I saw her I knew I had to adopt her. I named her Lexi. She is barely 6 months old now and she is a completely different dog but I love her so much. Lexi is playful and more daring and while she is not as affectionate as my first dog was, when she wags her little upright tale, and stands at the window when I leave, I know she loves me too.

Simple. Sweet. Joy.

Happy Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve had good news so when I got some today, I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It took a moment to process, I think I was in shock. It took thirty seconds to register, settle in and then feeling came back to my body. Dusty old joy  spread through my body in seconds, like warm, milk chocolate melting in your mouth.   I had been subconsciously waiting for another bad thing to happen since I had known nothing else in a very long time. I had prepared myself for more bad news; after all when you have had month after month of bad news every single time without a break, that is what you expect.

Today, there was a new ripple in the water, the new crescent of wave turning over in my mind. The ocean, my image, of all that is good and strong, minus the sharks that are taking bites out of innocent swimmers. Yesterday, just yesterday I was at the veterinarian’s office with my dog, Callie. I found a lump and told the vet that I was not going to leave until he found it, because I couldn’t find it again. My dog was also itching and scratching everywhere like crazy. The veterinarian finally found it and I was with my dog as the doctor pulled out the incredibly long syringe and plunged it into the back of my dog. “If it were any other place, I wouldn’t even biopsy it but since it’s right on the lymph node I want to be safe…..” I nodded weakly. I admit, first I turned around so I wouldn’t have to look at the long needle but then I swung back sharply and held my dog’s paws and looked into her scared eyes. I wanted to be there for her so I kissed her on the neck and held her still.

The doctor told me to call Wednesday or Thursday, Thursday to play it safe but today, a mere one day after the procedure there was a message from the receptionist that said my dog did NOT have cancer. I played the message and then I called the office, just to be sure, really sure. I thanked them about thirty times and I was so grateful that they had called. I hung up and I was silent. Then, I whooped for joy, hugged my sleeping dog and cried. I cried with happiness, a feeling that has been lost to me for such a long time. I understand that I will know sadness again, of course I will, but today I felt happiness, sweet happiness, in the purest form. Thank you. I appreciate it more now, but you probably know that already.

In a Former Life

Woof, Woof

oh happy dog…

There’s no doubt about it. Woof. I would have been a dog. I will be a dog again. Not only do I like attention but I like giving attention and making humans happy. I’m very loyal and I DON’T have attitude ( like those cats do.) Nope, dogs love people to pieces, we will follow you, lick you, give you kisses and stare at you for food. Just one thing, do not ever betray us. Do not ever hit us, or be mean to us…we don’t like that and it is not in the Dog Code Of Honor. We like those in the “Dog Lover’s Unite” program. I would like to come back as a happy dog with a loving, indulgent family preferably with kids. I want them to get me as a puppy, if possible, and I want to grow up with them and I want them to grow up with me. I will protect them, love them and keep them in my heart forever. That’s what dogs do, it’s what we love to do. Really.

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*I Will Carry You UPDATE

Field of Snow

Image by spodzone via Flickr

 

Dear Callie Dog,

A human neighbor saw you the day before yesterday and she commented that you looked “old.” I was offended on your behalf and hurt and I tried not to show it but inside I was sad and angry and yes, scared. Human people don’t go up to other people and say “you really look old.” I know they wouldn’t do that so why on earth did she have to say it about you? Don’t worry sweet dog, sometimes humans have no manners.

If you can no longer jump on the bed, I will carry you. I will hold you in my arms so that you feel safe and talk to you in sweet, soothing whispers. My voice would stay calm and high so that you would know that things are fine. I don’t want, for a minute, for you to feel afraid. I love you more now than I did when I brought you home from the animal shelter at six weeks. We’ve gone through a lot together.

I now see the wisdom in your eyes, those wide brown eyes, contrasting your snowy white chin and whiskers. You look beautiful to me. You may not be able to jump as high as you used to when you were younger but you still jump and most importantly, you still enjoy it. I know you are waiting for the winter, for the snow to fall, so you can play in it. Sometimes we call you “snow dog” because you love the snow so much. Dad will play his game of shoveling the snow with his snow shovel and he will throw it high up in the air and you will bark, as clear as the sound of laughter, when you jump right into the snow. By the way, I hope you know that Dad has as much fun with this game as you do, maybe even more. I know I hate the snow and I’m sorry I don’t go out as much in it but the best part of having snow, to me, is watching your joy. When you have to leave me, please know, that every time it snows, I will picture you in it. I will still hear your delight as you jumped and bounced and tumbled in the white stuff you loved so much. Whenever it snows, I will think of you.

We have both grown up this year haven’t we? Change is happening all around us and we are learning to cope with it and deal with it and most of all accept it.  We’ve gotten so much better, you and I. Last time we went in the car together you were scared but that’s okay. I get scared of things too, but we make ourselves do new things even if we feel nervous at first. Remember by the end of the car ride how you stuck your head out the window, looked outside, showed everyone your happy face and your wagging tongue? It was lovely to see.

I will love you forever, Callie, my first dog. Though I don’t want this to happen for a long time, you should know that if you are ever in pain, and I see it in your eyes, I will not let you suffer. One thing I know, I will look into your brown pudding eyes and you will look back into my green eyes and we will talk wordlessly and understand each other as we always do. Any decisions we need to make, we will make together, the two of us. You can crawl into my lap, just like you did the first time we met, and I will hold you tight and not let go until I have to.

For now, while you lay beside me, sleeping, just know I will always comfort you. Whether it is thundering and lightening or hailing outside like it did last night, I will always protect you. Last night, I wrapped my arms around your silken body and I held you and stroked you and talked to you so that you would stop shaking so severely.What I want to say now is simple;  thank you for your love and loyalty and kindness. For kissing my tears away, licking my face and sharing blueberries with me. I enjoy our “cookie game” as much as you do. I take a vanilla cookie and hold half of it outside my lips, you take it out of my mouth and we share it. I will try hard, when you are no longer with us, to fight to remember the good times and not just cry at my loss. I will try Cal, I really will; all I can do is to promise to try.

Love,

Mom

*Dedicated to Rosemary’s dog, Mr. H. Rest In Peace.

UPDATE: CALLIE died six months later from cancer.

Dog Lovers Unite!

an old man

Image by adm via Flickr

My sweet dog, Callie, is lying at the foot of the bed sleeping peacefully. She is nine years old yet she acts like a puppy, an older puppy. The other day when I took her for a walk a neighbor said “wow, he’s really gotten old, huh?” I am not a violent person but at that moment I wanted to club him. I was personally offended and wish I had responded with something like “well you look ancient too” but I was too shocked to answer. I told my daughter the story, she considers our dog “her baby” and she immediately hated the man for the same reason. Would I tell this person that he has aged considerably or that his son is a weed-smoking, drunken, troubled and nasty teenager?” Of course I wouldn’t(not that it isn’t tempting now.)

Of course, I know, my dog’s fur has changed from black to gray and white near her chin and adorable cheeks and she can’t jump as high in the snow as she used to jump. It’s called life, getting older, soon old man, you will not be able to walk as easily as you do now. Ever think of that? Perhaps you will need a little help in the future with a cane or a walker, I wouldn’t point that out to you, how dare you point that out to my dog? That’s just plain bad manners.

Older dogs are special, they bring their own kind of wisdom and charm. But, in the back of my mind I do worry about the future. When I found out that I was pregnant with my second child I really worried as all first moms do, if I would be able to love my second child as much as my first-born? ‘The answer: ABSOLUTELY. I recently asked a friend, a fellow dog lover (and ballerina) if the same thing happens when your first dog, um….you know..gets older or sick and…dies can you love another dog the same way? “Oh yes” she said enthusiastically, “of course you do.”

My dog sighs happily beside me, my arm is around her soft fur, whispering to her softly. I love this dog so much that while her whiskers may be white, she will always be the 6 week old puppy that climbed into my lap, and never left. I will have that memory forever, and I will always love you, no matter what.