These are the dogs of my life

It has been over a month since Ozzie moved in and boy, has he moved in. From the torn up toys, stuffing and muddy paw prints around the house, his presence is evident everywhere. My only concerns are my sister being knocked over by his puppy energy and his eagerness to chase the cats.I had hoped that he would be cat friendly. He had lived with a cat. But so far all he wants to do is go balistic when he sees them.

It will be a long haul.

He is affectionate, goofy, full of manic energy and I am afraid I may not live up to his expectations. Yet he doesn’t seem frustrated or unhappy. I have promised him many adventures and will live up to them. He reminds me more and more of my sweet Buster, in looks and personality. Buster challenged me and I think so will Ozzie.

And Stormy my sixteen year old girl, is still hanging in there. She no longer walks or hardly gets up off the floor but she is alert, loving and loves to eat. I have been prepared for her final day and yet neither of us is ready.

So we wipe up the pee and poop. We clean her up. Give her fresh blankets.

She protests whenever Ozzie goes into my sister’s room, where Stormy rules. I try to reassure her that she is still the Queen. We stroke head and spritz her with Shalimar. I won’t give up until she does. She seems pain free as long as she doesn’t have to walk.

The fragillity of life seem so apparent in spring. Little fledgling birds that leave the nest for the first time only to be caught by the fat well-fed cat. Where is the justice? Or a cat run over on the road because he decided to cross at the wrong time.
Who is too blame?

I have in my home a dog on the way out and a dog that has hardly begun to experience llife. And I am torn in both directions.
The pee is eating away at the paint on the floor. But I can repaint. The house smells of pee and sometimes poop. But this has been the case for seveal years because of all my senior pets.

And now I have a youngster with muddy feet bringing in the spring mud and shaking it all over the house.

All we do is clean up after the animals. Maybe this is what keeps me going, from shriveling up, giving up. for I love the dogs of my life.


Death and Taxes

April 15, 1985 is the day my mother died. It was inevitable. Death and taxes, can’t escape ’em.

She died a week before her birthday.She missed the blooming of the tulips she had Dad plant the previous fall. She loved to garden, and that was the only time she didn’t participate in the planting.

I have clear memories of her poking around in the garden in her pedal-pushers with a trowel in her hand. She planted irises, peonies, lilacs and roses. In the summer she bought flats of petunias and marigolds. Hauled manure from the horse farm nearby to mix with the clay that was left in our development. Together with my father, they planted an apple, cherry and peach, and a honey locust tree given to them by the housing developer. In the back we had a vegetable garden. In the early summer, we chased little wild bunnies that munched on the raspberry leaves.

It was from my mom that I learned the pleasures of turning the soil, of pulling the weeds and of planting the seeds.

Gardening was her release from the tensions of the household. Laboring intthe garden, lost in the task, we both found peace.

Mourning doves

I saw Frank and Vivian the other day. That’s what I call any pair of mourning doves that appear on the power lines in front of the house or anywhere I go. This time it was the power lines. They always show up whenever they need to remind me of my parents. As parents they console me but also tell me when to behave myself. They have been there through many a crisis.

The first time I ever saw a mourning dove, or heard one was in the backyard of our house in Cary, Illinois. The sad song sounded like a little owl but was really a coo-hooting dove. It was a long while before I actually saw what it looked like as they were high in the trees.

Many years later at the time when my father was dying, I was walking in Oaks Bottom. I was on the path next to the railroad track. On the power line next to the track was a dove, looking down at me. It coo hooted and I answered. I cried that my father was dying and that I knew he was probably already dead. There was a message on my answering machine waiting for me. I didn’t want to listen to it because I knew it was about my dad I wanted a good cry at Oaks Bottom with my dog Buster at my side.

I stood very still watching as the dove looked down, coo-hooting and I was coo-hooting back both of us softly mourning together. I cried “I’ll miss you” and it answered, “I’ll miss you too.”

My dad and me, we argued and got on each others nerves most of our lives. But he was my dad and he never meant me harm. But he was a hurting sad soul much of the time and his own unhappiness with himself spilled over onto the rest of us.

But that didn’t matter when the dove was talking to me. I love you. Another dove came along and I knew they were speaking to me. I felt their presence. And I realized how much I missed my mom and now my dad.

So now when I see a mourning dove or two I think of Frank and Vivian and I remember to behave myself and shape up and be a better person. I have failed recently at that but I am trying, DOG knows I try.

My Orphan of the Storm

I watch her walk across the room, every limb, stiff with pain, shaking, splaying in different directions like Bambi on the ice. Every step could end with her slamming to the floor.

For the second day in a row, I have found her right by the front door when I came home. I found it kind of puzzling because she hardly moves from her bed in Vivian’s room, except to pee and poop. She is still my Queen my strong warrior Queen.

Most of her life she has lived in some sort of pain, physical and psychological.

The first year of her life she lived chained outside. Bred as soon as she was able. The puppies sold for cash or whatever. They may have tried fighting her or at least sparing her with other dogs. for she had wounds from dog bites and she feared other dogs and reacted with aggression. She was scarred in more ways than one. The multiple adults and children in the household probably didn’t even pay any attention to her, except to tease and frustrate her. Or to beat her. They starved to a thin shell of a dog.

When they were done with her they tied her chain to a street sign and left her there. On December 12, 1995 during the largest storms to hit Portland since the Columbus Day storm of 1962.

That day I opted for leaving early to get home before the worst was predicted to arrive. The wind was already intense. Twister weather. I saw her from car frantically, pacing around the pole. I was stunned by how thin she was. I had never seen a dog that thin except in PETA brochures.

I untangled her chain and she made one threatening lunge at me but was freaking out. Still she trusted me and let me lead her to my car.. When we got home, I put my dogs Daphne and Spot outside, then I took her down to the basement with some blankets, food and water.

Over the next few days, I would go down and check on her. I knew she was afraid and lonely but at least she was warm and getting fed. She’d stay on her blanket, curled in a ball and watch me out of the corners of her eyes. I talked softly to her but kept my distance.

As the days went by it remained the same. I asked an acquaintance to come over and give me her opinion about whether or not Stormy was adoptable. When we came down to see her, Stormy stood up and when she saw my friend, she lowered her head an growled. She did not like what was happening. I didn’t blame her. It was intimidating. My friend was a very manly female and I wonder if it was the tone of her voice that Stormy did not like. For it was obvious later on that she didn’t like strangers but especially, men.

My friend immediately told me that she though the dog was to far gone. That she could never be adopted out. It would be too dangerous.

I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge of handling a dog like this. Especially since I had two other young dogs. And also because I wasn’t sure . how she was going to be around them. I hadn’t been ready to introduce them. I wanted Stormy to get more acclimated. As much as it pained me, I considered taking her to the shelter because, I wasn’t sure I could do it.

I tormented all night and in the morning when I went down to check on her, I apologized to her for what I might have to do. Maybe today. Christmas was coming. I was actually going to Seattle. What would I do with you while I was gone. Who could take care of you. While I was checking on her food and water, she actually walked around the room watching me. And as I was standing my the stairs ready to go upstairs, she came over and licked my hand.