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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Do over (Friday Wrap Up)

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

My Stubborn Mule

Bucket-headed dog

Bucket-headed dog (Photo credit: Paul Kidd)

The sun shines through the slated blinds on my red dog’s face. As much of a pain in the bleep she is, I can’t stop loving her. She’s my girl, Lexi, the one I rescued from the shelter and even though I can’t walk her (she is ridiculously strong) in public, she’s still mine. She PULLS me everywhere, I have to stay in my neighborhood. You wouldn’t believe how many times members of my extended “family” have told me to give her “back” or “give her away.” But there is no way I will do that, I can’t. I love her.

Admittedly she is one of the toughest dogs, strongest dogs I’ve ever known and on the advice of three, yes, three, dog trainers, they have all agreed she is a “wild one with a stubborn streak.” Frustrating? Yes. Do I love her less? No. I rescued her from the shelter when she was tiny, curled up in a little red ball, sound asleep and my heart fell in love immediately. This was MY dog. I played with her, she let me cuddle her, nothing could stop me from adopting this sweetheart.

Sometimes love is blind, we know that. And, admittedly, maybe I missed my dog Callie so much (she had cancer) that i didn’t give myself enough time to recover from that grief. I probably should have waited longer to adopt my puppy but I didn’t. That’s my fault, not hers. I needed to hear the sounds of a dog in the house, I missed them so much and I need to have a dog in my life. I have become a dog person, through and through.

I should have known, when she was the worst, evil puppy in the world, that she was Trouble. She would go after our hands, feet, like I would go after a chocolate layer cake, sink her sharp puppy teeth in and not let go. Screaming in pain, little” Honeybadger didn’t give care.” Her grip would tighten. She was a really difficult puppy but still I didn’t love her any less.

She will be two in February, February 16th, 2014. I’ve had people tell me that she will NOT slow down, not this dog. She is muscular (all muscle) and strong (like an ox) and she still pulls me around that I’m scared to go out with her. It doesn’t help that I am very weak and have no balance. We have about nine different collars, leashes and equipment and Ms. Stubborn defies the odds. But that’s okay.

I love her and I won’t give her up, I could never do that. She is my dog and when I have to take her to the vet I will ask someone to come out and get her since she loves going there and pulls me dangerously across the street. I will make compromises, she will not. She is sleeping on my bed now looking like an absolute dog angel. She doesn’t show affection very often but this is her way. She keeps me company, gives me kisses. She’s going nowhere except in my arms for a big hug. She is not an easy dog, for sure, but I love her, I picked her and she makes me laugh. Sometimes.

PS: Remember the book and movie “Marley and Me?” Marley is a sweet kitten compared to Lexi, I kid you not.

photo credit paul kidd

words copyrighted lf

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

Honoring Someone Else’s Pain

Postavaru Mountain - ROMANIA

Postavaru Mountain – ROMANIA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do, when a friend is suffering, is nothing. It goes against our natural instinct to nurture and comfort and try to make people feel better. However, we need to think of what they want and not do what we feel comfortable doing.We need to honor their wishes, respect their needs. I identify so very well with this particular pain, I lost my best friend, Callie, my dog, less than a year ago. My friend, everyone’s friend, Judy Judith lost her dog Max the other day. He was not only her dog-friend but ours, he was an icon and part of all our lives. We all knew him, and apparently, he knew us too. He wrote us letters.

His name was Max. The dog owner of the wonderful blog “Creativity to the Max” helped by his “human,” Judith Westerfield, one of the loveliest and intelligent people I know. Those who know her adore her, those who interact with her form her wide fan club and fall in love with her. She is direct and honest and she will tell you what she thinks, good or bad, directly, no matter what, and when she says something you wrote is good, you better believe her because if not, she will theoretically smack you on the head over cyberspace in a loving way, of course. She is also extremely funny and she makes us laugh.

To know that she is in pain is killing me. When my dog, Callie, died a few months short of a year ago, Judith was there for me, telling me it will hurt but it would get better, Selena told me about the Rainbow Bridge that I had never heard of before. Maureen and Rosemary and Lorraine and Tammy and other friends supported me and helped me through it. I relied on these friends that I have never met in person. These friends on-line had become family, our own family, they knew the right things to say, there was no drama between us (okay, maybe just a little), no childhood memories or lapses in judgment. They were here to listen and to support and encourage; I am here for them as well.

Friendship is both about being there for someone when she needs you but, even harder, stepping back, when she asks you to. We are all stepping back in honor of your request, in honor of Max. We will miss you, Max, and we will hurt because we know our dear friend Judy Judith is hurting. Don’t worry, Max, you can count on us to take care of her for you. In memory of you, Llliiiiickingly yours, Lexi-Pro and her human friends.

The Start Of Good-Bye

In two weeks my son will graduate from High School and head to his summer job, after that he will be going to college. This is harder than I thought it would be. It’s also brand new and I’ve never been too good with change.

Simple yet elegant prom corsage

I literally want to sink my head into my folded arms on my cheerful, flowery bedspread and cry. I want to cry loud and hard enough to erase the pain of change and sadness, new beginnings and endings. I want to cry for all the graduating seniors that will say good-bye in two weeks to their life-long friends, their girlfriends, their boyfriends, their parents, siblings, dogs, pets. I want to cry for me, I want to break down in unwavering sobs because it feels like I am losing my son to the future and I know that things will never be the same. Already, the “Seniors” have changed you can see it on their faces. Next year, my baby, my daughter will graduate High School as well.

I am a fluctuating emotional mess, happy, sad, crying, excited and miserable.  It is after prom and before graduation; it is the time in-between. The Pre-Prom party was at my son’s girlfriend’s lovely home. For me, it was like a Hollywood set, the girls with their glowing, shiny faces and beaming smiles, the sun streaming down on the back lawn highlighting their hair. Girls in long dresses of all colors: fuchsia, beige, royal blue, gold, gorgeous girls, each one of them, with the light in their eyes dancing, their faces sparkling. Their wrists adorned by delicate  wrist corsages awkwardly put on by their dates. I have known some of these girls since they were four. The young men in their tuxedos, stand tall and proud, handsome and mature. It felt like the tuxedo added years of wisdom and maturity to them.They stood brave and beaming, handsome and charming, strong and proud, very proud. Each one had a boutonniere shakily attached by nervous girls with manicured fingers.  My son posed willingly with the three best friends he has grown up with, solid friends, forever friends. He posed with his girlfriend, he posed with his family. This was a boy who refused pictures taken of him since he was nine.

These were not boys and girls anymore, here stood young men and young women going off very soon, to follow their dreams. Even though as parents we try to be prepared for the good-byes, it still hurts us. Like pieces of our heart literally being chipped off never to be repaired exactly like it was before. Our hearts still work but differently. With the young men and women’s new-found freedom, so too, comes pain. As a parent, not being able to prevent that pain is horrible yet I know, being a good parent means just that, letting them go solve their own problems, make their own mistakes.

As a mom, I am on an emotional roller coaster. Am I grieving beforehand like I usually do? Merely picturing graduation makes me wince. When my son actually leaves for college, I hope I will be just fine but anticipation is truly my downfall. I look at the photos I took of Pre-Prom over and over as if I will learn something new each time. Yet, every time I see the photos I see the same thing, utter, unblemished joy and happiness. As a parent, I wish that these things would continue but I know in a mere two weeks a lot of that joy will become heartache. It doesn’t seem fair does it? That is what growing up is all about, I’m afraid, there are always trade-offs.

These youngsters have precious little time to say good-bye to all their friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends. I don’t envy their losses but I am happy for their new adventures. Tonight, on a dark and windy evening, I dread my own loss. My son is one of the nicest people I know, he is moving on and I will miss him. I love this boy of mine and in addition, I truly like him. Follow your dreams, first-born, the world will be a better place with you in it. That, I know, for certain. We will always be here for you, will always love you and support you unconditionally, when you are ready to leave, place that in your heart forever.

because i can’t even speak

At the remembrance garden in Dublin

Image via Wikipedia

when someone you love is hurting you hurt double because you are sad and depressed and of no help and that makes it worse. so together you are alone.  pumpkin bread is baking in the oven but the smells of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon don’t even reach my senses. i don’t know if i should allow myself a really good cry (why do they call it “good?”) or keep sucking in the stress like a dyson vacuum cleaner going over the carpet where my sweet, shaggy dog sleeps. even her warm brown dog eyes look sad.

i wish i didn’t cling to the last hope, the last ember in the fire amongst the dying coals. outwardly i am pessimistic but hidden deep inside me is a wisp of a wish, no stronger than a single blade of grass in a summer breeze. yet still i hope for a miracle and he does too, even though we say all hope is gone and it’s really, really bad. and it is.

i am numb and trembling, silent and screaming, shaking and still. my worried face is too obvious to the world; i wish i could hide my feelings and be like that mean francine who i hated but she could pull off  a fake happy face in half a second.  my feelings show on my face even if i try to fake it and then i crumple like a paper ball tossed into the trash. i don’t call my mother tonight even though i call her every day because i don’t want her to worry and i know that’s what mothers do. my silence, even for a day, signals my message to her.

i need to hold myself together so i don’t break down in front of my children; no matter how old they are they still don’t like to see their mama cry. and i wouldn’t just be crying, i would be sobbing and crumpling in the fetal position and rocking, rocking, rocking. if the situation in a situational depression continues and continues when does it just become depression. i may have crossed over into that, maybe he has too. i want to support him  but i don’t know how to do it anymore. i am failing the one i love the most because i can’t bear to see his flat, deflated face. he lacks affect and looks gray and defeated, worn, sad. we are mirror images of each other.

there’s certainly nothing to look forward to, not that there has been in a while. yes, i do count my blessings and yes i am grateful but i am feeling less lucky and more like a victim with a really long run.  we are not alone in our misery many people share this sadness but who would feel better because of that? it just makes things worse.

the beep beep beep of the timer goes off and i stick toothpicks in the pumpkin bread and burn my finger. the pain feels good, it feels like something, instead of this numb, internal despondency.  this is what depression looks like, it feels like everything and nothing, it lingers inside me, on and on like an unwelcome guest you can’t ask to leave.

Permission

I am a newborn foal, a furry white rabbit with pink eyes, an adorable black, white and tan 6 week old puppy curled inside a warm hand; a 19-year-old dying cat. I am someone’s life-long companion and friend; I give unconditional love. I have meant more to some people than most friends. I am a pet.

The 19-year-old cat was laid to rest a few days ago. She was a well-loved cat who slept with her owner and gave her happiness every day, all the time and especially when times were tough. They were each others comfort. When the cat lay dying, her mother/owner gave her one last precious gift. She ended the long journey with pain and put her out of the miserable, uncomfortable life she had known for many years. It was probably the hardest thing she has had to do in a very long time but she did it for me and I know how hard that must have been. Letting go of someone or something you love is never easy. Never.

I know; I speak from experience. Letting someone go is sometimes the truest test of love.  I gave that permission to my dad when he lay dying in the hospital and was just clinging on by a very weak thread so delicate it was almost like a fiber. I talked to his nurse and told him to give my dad a secret message that included it was “okay to let go” and that “we would all take care of each other,” my mom, my sister and I. He died 20 minutes later. Do I believe he heard the message and felt it? I do; I have to.

The pain of life is like a current that runs through all of us. Sometimes the current is low, sometimes it’s very high. We need people, friends, family, pets, something to believe in to help us get through the challenges and the losses we face in life. Life changes so fast it’s hard to keep up, but we have no choice but to try;  it’s hard to do it all alone.  No matter who we choose to love, no matter what. Sometimes, we all need a little help and mostly, not always, it is ours for the asking; and it is ours for the taking.

We are buoyed by our loved ones when life is down, and when life is up, we sing together in joyful harmony. Life, though, is not just about the good times, really, it’s about how we cope, who we lean on and who we love. It is about joy and sorrow.  It is knowing when to love and knowing when to let go. It is hard and painful and exuberant and joyful, every day there is some surprise.  Just try to “ride the waves” a friend once told me, up and down and never, let go, until you have to and you will know,deep inside, when the time is right.

For my friend: Michal.  In Memory of Dusty.