My mother, Vivian

I remember you in the spring when the lilacs bloomed. The bouquets you placed on our night stands filled the air as we slept.

In the summer you planted rows of petunias and marigolds, baked sour cherry pies.

You took each season and made something of it. You made art of weeds. You made food a demonstration of your love that you couldn’t always express in the hurried rush of life.

I still miss you. But you are with me every time, I plant a garden, bake a pie or cook a special dinner.

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I miss your love.

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Buster’s first Christmas

It was 30 years ago about this time of night I met the love of my life, Buster Brown.

He was an early Christmas present from friend of mine, who wanted to give me the best Christmas present ever. And he was. However, impulsive and ill-advised the decision was.

Still, I remember coming home that night, a bit tired but looking forward to some company at home. I knew that my roommate, Leigh was home as we had talked and she was cooking.

When I came throught

Stormy’s Fairy Tale – in progress

Not so long ago, at a house around the corner there was a young dog who lived the first year of her life with a chain padlocked around her neck and tied to a stake in the back yard. The world she knew is the one she saw at the end of the that chain.

Even though the house was filled with a large family, she spent most of her time alone. Every now and then they would remember to feed her and give her fresh water. But days would go by and her food and water dishes would spill. She would eat the old kibble out of the dirt and drink water from the puddles that filled the ground she laid on.

The only protection she had from the rain was the narrow eave of the house and an old dying tree. When it got cold she dug a hole to lie in. Her beautiful gold coat was covered in mud and filth. Even the chain she wore was rusted and kinked and caked with horrible stinky muck. She smelled like old garbage.

In the summer when it was hot, there was no place to get out of the sun. And the dust and dirt filled her nose and made her skin itch. Her fur became thin and clumps would fall out.

The children of the house would always play around her but always out of reach. She was never allowed to run and play with them. Since she was no longer a puppy she wasn’t cute anymore. They teased her by throwing sticks and rocks and food at her. When she would bark at them, they hit her to shut her up.

The House Around the Corner

I watch her walk across the room, every limb, stiff with pain, shaking, legs splayed 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.

The day was December 12, 1995 and the worst storm since the Columbus Day storm of ’62 was predicted to hit Oregon.

That day I opted for leaving early to get home before the worst of the storm hit. The wind was already intense. Twister weather. I saw her from the car . She was 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 talked calmly to her as I untangled her chain. She made one threatening lunge at me but not bite or growl, she was too freaked 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 stayed on her blanket, curled in a ball and watched me out of the corners of her eyes. I talked softly to her but kept my distance. I gave her fresh food and water and scoop up the large piles of gooey poop she left behind. She smelled like filth and poop. Her coat looked brown but underneath, it was yellow gold. It looked dry and brittle and there were several scabby patches and some old scars visible. Her backbone, ribs and hip bones stuck out sharply through her skin. I could also see that her nipples were still a bit descended as if she had puppies a while back.

I thought: “Stupid fuckers, kept her outside all the time, bred her, starved her and when they were done with her dumped her on the street. Made their quick buck and threw her away. sons of bitches.”

She looked part pit bull. I bet they thought that would get them more money.

As the days went by it remained the same. I asked an acquaintance who had experience at rescues 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. Not a good sign.

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 thought the dog was too 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.

TO BE CONTINUED