Archive | May 2015

The Love I Gave Stayed…

 

I’d like to think those other dogs are around my family because of me.  I was the first dog they had.  My biological father was a black lab, and my biological mother was a cocker spaniel.  When I first joined my family, I was three years old, and the kids were 11, eight and six.  I cuddled with them, let them brush my fur, and happily ate the dog food they put in front of me.  I was happy to protect them when they went for walks and played games whenever they wanted.  Sometimes I ended up in their beds when they were sleeping, and they didn’t seem to mind.  I was used to being a part of a family like theirs, and it didn’t take me long to get used to them after they adopted me from the Animal Humane Society, a wonderful place that helps pets find new homes.

After I passed away, my family thought they were doing me a favor by waiting a respectable amount of time of six months before getting another dog.  The kids thought Mom and Dad needed a dog because Laura, the oldest kid, was going to go off to college and the other two weren’t far from being really grown up too.  The kids didn’t want Mom and Dad to get lonely!  I didn’t mind when they decided to adopt Lila, a two-year old, beautiful black lab retriever mix.  I knew they wanted another dog because they missed me and my love.  Someone found Lila wandering around in the northern woods of Minnesota covered with 17 wood ticks.  My family found her at the same Animal Humane Society where they found me.

It took a long time for Lila to soften up to the whole family because she was used to living on her own.  We don’t know if she got lost or was abandoned.  I didn’t blame her for wanting to stay away from everyone.  After moving in with her new family, she enjoyed digging holes underneath bushes and hiding from the sun.  Lila seemed so brave when she stayed outside during storms.  After being stuck in the house over winter, she finally softened up to the family.  It took about a year before she fell in love with them, realized she found her home and wasn’t going to have to go anywhere else.  She got comfortable and figured out to stay inside during storms and watch over the family.

When Matt, the youngest kid, went off to college and got an apartment, it wasn’t long before he found Bauer, a beagle and blue heeler mix, and adopted him.  Bauer was around three years old when he moved in with Matt.  When Mom and Dad went to visit them, Bauer was friendly and seemed like he knew the visitors were Matt’s Mom and Dad.  Later that night, when Dad walked by Matt’s bedroom, Bauer growled and Mom and Dad were worried Bauer was mean.  The next day, when Mom held Bauer in her lap and moved his legs because his paws were digging into her shirt, Bauer growled.  Mom growled back.

A few months later, when Matt and Bauer came home for a visit, Bauer acted like he was king of the castle.  Bauer scared Lila, a dog three times his size.  Bauer growled at Lila every time she got close to Matt.  That growl caused Lila’s fur to fall to the floor.  If it was possible for the floor to make a sound each time a piece of fur fell, it would have sounded like a steady drum beating.  Mom tried to keep up with the fur piles, but they bunched up and rolled along like dust bunnies.  By the time Matt and Bauer’s visit was over, Mom was thankful Lila hadn’t gone completely bald.  Now that Bauer has been in the family for a few years, and when he comes to visit, there isn’t as much growling.  Either Bauer got used to them or it could be because Lila stood up for herself a few times by growling back and showing her teeth.

Just as the two of them were getting used to each other, Laura and her hubby got Kona, a German shepherd puppy.  Kona and Lila got along from the start even though Lila tends to keep a respectful distance when she doesn’t want to play.  Thankfully, Kona is learning how to adjust to Lila’s moods.  The first time Kona and Bauer met, they got along very well.  Bauer played with Kona like they were long lost friends.  They wrestled, ran around the sofa and stood staring at each other in puppy play fashion with their legs pointing towards each other.  It seemed like Bauer was happy to be with a dog his size.  The next time they met, Kona wasn’t Bauer’s size, and Bauer wasn’t interested in playing with Kona any more.

Sometimes Mom thinks back to the time when I first started to live with them.  It was a few years after they moved into their house with the white tile kitchen floor.  Mom sweeps the broom, then uses a Swiffer, if the broom didn’t do the job.  She wonders if it was dumb to get two black dogs when they live in a house with a white floor.  Now when Kona and Bauer stop by, brown and gray furs fall waiting to get swept up as well.  Mom can get frustrated and thinks about getting a different floor but sometimes realizes it’s practical to see where the dogs leave dirt.

Mom must not mind the mess too much.  If she did, these other dogs wouldn’t be around the white tile floor.  I like to think Lila, Bauer and Kona are there because I did a good job of training my family.  It looks like the love I gave stayed and it’s being handed down every day.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

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Why I’ve Never Had a Puppy

kona at purgatory creek
Kona

 “I’ve had this animal poison hotline magnet on my refrigerator for about 15 years,” I said to the nice lady on the other end of the phone.  “I never had to use it before.”

magnet

“Okay, well, let me talk to the vet who’s on call right now, and I’ll get back to you.  I’m going to have to put you on hold for a little while,” she said.

While sitting on the steps with my cell phone in one hand and the magnet in the other, I thought about when I first picked up the magnet.  It was when we took our first dog, Music, to the vet.  Music never got into anything poisonous and so far, neither has Lila, our current dog.  Both Music and Lila were older when they came to live with us.  As I watched Kona looking at me, I dreaded telling my daughter what happened.  Kona is Laura and her hubby’s puppy.  I’ve watched both of them work to care for and train their adorable seven-month-old dog.

Earlier that night, as I was taking a break on the sofa, I thought I heard a crunching sound when I thought Kona was laying on the mat by the front door, one of her favorite resting spots.  When I went to inspect, I found fragments of red eucalyptus leaves scattered on the floor.  The leaves had been part of a dried floral arrangement.  I wished I would have listened to myself the other day when I thought about throwing away the dusty old leaves.  Then I wouldn’t have this problem.  As I tried to piece the scattered leaves onto the empty spots on the branches, it looked like they matched up and that Kona hadn’t swallowed any.

“Hello?” the lady’s voice was on the line again.

“Yes?”

“The doctor said that it’s really dangerous if dogs ingest the essential oils of eucalyptus.  If Kona only got a little bit of the leaves, she should be okay.  If she throws up, don’t give her any water for about an hour.  If she can keep a little water down after an hour, give her a little more.  If she has excessive vomiting and diarrhea, call us right away.”

“Ok, thank you.  Now I know why I’ve never had a puppy,” I said.  Older dogs work better for me, I thought.

“Your daughter can call us too,” she said as she rattled off the case number and we said our goodbyes.

I grabbed the dusty leaves and threw them in the garbage can in the garage.  When I walked into the living room, I checked our other plants.  After searching “plants poisonous to dogs” on Google, I learned that philodendrons and Christmas cactuses are also poisonous to dogs.  Thankfully, all the leaves were intact on those plants living in our house.

When my husband, Kona and I got into the car to bring Kona home, I made sure the folded piece of paper was tucked inside my pocket.  The case number and phone number of the poison hotline were on that paper, and I knew I’d have to tell Laura what happened right away.  As we drove Kona home, she rested quietly on the backseat with her head hung low, her nose almost touching the floor.  Before the leaf chewing incident, we visited the dog park with Lila, and I figured the exercise wore Kona out.  When we pulled into Laura’s driveway, I was excited to see the new place Laura and her husband had moved into that day.  Laura greeted us at the door.  After we said our congratulations, and after Laura reported that all the carpets had been cleaned, I handed her the piece of paper and told her what happened.

“I’m sure she’ll be okay,” Laura said in a calm and even tone.  I saw a Christmas cactus sticking out of one of the moving boxes and gave it to Laura.

“These are poisonous to dogs too,” I said as I handed over the plant.

After we got the tour, said our goodbyes and made it home, I settled down on the sofa in front of the TV.  Only a few minutes passed and my cell phone rang.

“She threw up!”  Laura reported in a scary voice.

“Oh, no!”

“I gave her a half a cup of food after you left.”

“Do you see any little red leaves?”

“No.  It looks like she had a chewie.”

“Yes, I gave her half a chewie and half a dog bone when she was here.”

“Well, it looks like her dinner is here, and all that stuff too, but I don’t see any red leaves.  It’s a lot.  It’s gross.”

“Do you usually feed her food that late at night?”

“No.”

“Maybe we fed her too much.  I’m sorry!  How’s the carpet?”

“I’m not worried about the carpet, I’m worried about Kona!  We tried to get her in the bathroom, but she didn’t make it.”

“I just hope we fed her too much and that she’ll be okay.”

After we hung up, I knew the night would pass slowly for Laura and me.  When I checked my phone early the next morning, I was glad to see a text message from Laura saying, “No more barf!  Kept a little breakfast down.”

The following day Laura, Kona, Lila and I went to a dog park where we tried to coax Kona into going for a swim.  Even though Lila showed Kona how to fetch a tennis ball from the pond, Kona only ventured to the shoreline.  Laura reported that Kona only had a big cough in the middle of the night after throwing up, and that she has been okay ever since.  Plus the incident didn’t leave a stain on the carpet.

Now I know I can’t let my guard down whenever I watch Kona.  That is, if Laura will ever ask me to watch her again.

2015-05-03 14.49.11
On the shoreline!

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Katie’s Mom

Katie and Me

My duffel bag contained the most pairs of shoes ever for an overnight stay. The brown pair worked for the afternoon but would not work later that night. Neither of those two pairs would go with the outfit the next day. Another pair needed to be packed for the trip home because tennis shoes go best with sweatpants. I tried to figure out a different wardrobe so fewer shoes could be packed, but doing that would be too much work, so all the shoes stayed in the heavy duffel bag.

When my husband and I arrived at the Senior Artist Thesis Show, no one noticed my shoes. The crowd was focused on the art pieces and followed the students as they talked about their work. We arrived in time to hear one of the students talk about her pottery creations. When she finished, we listened to another artist speak about his charcoal drawings. The only sounds we heard were shuffling feet and the voices of the students.  Megan was the one we came to see. Megan has been Katie’s roommate for the last four years. I thought back to the day when they moved into their freshman dorm. By the time my husband, Katie and I arrived, Megan and her family had gotten almost all of Megan’s things in order. We arrived late because the battery went dead in our van.  While we stumbled into the room with boxes and clothes falling off hangers, Megan sat quietly at her desk organizing pencils, pens and markers. Each of her books was carefully arranged on her desk with a nice supply of snacks on a shelf above. After we carted in Katie’s stuff, I worked on covering the mattress of the top bunk with sheets and blankets. As I stretched my arms as far as they could reach, I wondered how that night would go for the two of them because I didn’t think their organizational traits matched.

Katie and Megan

No matter what kind of organizational skills Katie and Megan have, they found a friend in each other. Many of their other friends were at the art show too, and they whispered how they were nervous for Megan to give her speech. Megan wasn’t sitting quietly in the corner of a dorm room arranging writing utensils any longer. It was her turn to speak.  Megan talked about her works of photography surrounded by people who care. When the professor concluded the event by thanking everyone for attending, she asked us to raise our hands if we were family or friends. I was proud to raise my hand as a friend even though I was far from college aged!  🙂

After taking a closer look at the individual pieces of artwork, my husband and I went to check into our hotel room. While Mike put on a nice suit and tie, I stayed in jeans but changed into a dressy blouse and black shoes. We met Katie’s roommates and parents at a little fancier place. It was nice to introduce myself as Katie’s mom to the parents I hadn’t met before.  It seems like as more time goes by, the less chances there are to introduce myself as my kids’ mom.  As we munched away on burgers, salads, sandwiches or wraps, we listened to the students future plans and learned about upcoming events as they counted the days until graduation.

Father Daughter

The next stop was a little get together before the father daughter dance in one of the senior student’s apartments where I was introduced as Katie’s mom a few more times.  The moms stayed in the apartment chatting while the fathers and daughters went to their event.  During our conversations, I couldn’t help but notice how some of the moms’ shoes looked nicer and newer than mine.  Some were ornate while mine looked blah.  When the dance was over, we walked over to the very crowded local bar to be all together again.  Even though my shoes looked comfortable, my feet hurt.  Mike and I decided to leave around midnight because the music was too loud.  It wasn’t worth staying if I couldn’t be heard, hear, or introduce myself as Katie’s mom!

The next morning, I dressed in black pants, a white blouse, and a nicer pair of black shoes.  I met Katie at her apartment, and we walked over to the mother daughter brunch with Megan and her mom.  A big table lined up with mimosas greeted us.  After we wandered around a little and a few more introductions were made, we found a table and sat with Katie’s roommates and their moms.  We listened to a couple of speakers, ate a wonderful brunch of chicken Kiev, cheesy potatoes, an egg dish, spinach salad, fruit and banana bread.  After we played and lost a couple of games that involved a coin toss and who had the most stuff in their purse, we listened to one of Katie’s friends and her mom talk about how their struggles made them closer.

When the brunch was over, I stopped by Katie’s apartment to change into sweatpants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes.  It was hard to say good-bye after such a nice weekend.  Thinking about shopping for more shoes for future celebrations helped make me feel better!

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present,
and the hope and promise of the future.
~Author Unknown

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