Category Archives: dogs

As Explosive as a Dog Sneeze

“As explosive as a dog sneeze.”

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There’s a phrase you don’t hear every day, and here’s another: I am no stranger to being sneezed upon by dogs.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m haunted by the thought that this could be my epitaph:

Here lies Mickey, no stranger to being sneezed upon by dogs. 

I suppose there are worse ways to be remembered.

Anyway, earlier today I decided to make a smoothie. Shiloh, Mischief Dog can tell when I’m getting ready to make a smoothie.

Can he tell because I get the blender out? No, because I’ve learned to get the blender out LAST and throw everything in willy-nilly and turn it on quickly to drown out his barking. This has led to the smoothie-on-the-kitchen-ceiling and spoons-don’t-blend scenarios, but that’s not the point.

The point is this: now he can tell I’m getting ready to make a smoothie when I get the oats out of the pantry.

Yes, the dog who gazes at you in gentle bafflement when you say, “Shiloh, want a treat?” has figured out the recipe for a smoothie. There are people in this house who can’t make scrambled eggs, but one of the dogs now knows how to whip up a tasty frozen treat.

Today seemed like a good day to begin training Shiloh out of his driving need to bark whenever the oats appear. I called him into the kitchen and took the lid off the tin. I knelt down and let him sniff – he’s a very curious dog. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised when he plunged his nose through the opening, but I’m here to tell you that steel-cut oats stick to a dog nose like jimmies on soft-serve ice cream. He sucked in his breath, and I had just enough presence of mind to cover the top of the can with my shirt before he sneezed.

And boy, did that dog sneeze.photo (30)

I got oats on my shirt, on my face, in my hair. There were oats in my eyelashes, there were oats in my EARS. When I went upstairs to shower and change, oats fell from my clothes. They sat there on the bathroom floor in sad, abandoned little drifts.

Unlike regular oats, which I suspect have greater drag due to design, steel-cut oats appear to be quite aerodynamic. In direct defiance of the laws of physics, I found oats in the dining room around the corner from the kitchen. Maybe the explosive nature of the sneeze launched them with such velocity that they banked around the dining room wall and ended up in our neighbor’s living room. It really wouldn’t surprise me.

It took a good ten minutes to clean poor Shiloh off before I even started on me or the house – getting oats out of a dog nose is a delicate business, fraught with peril. Having experienced the wordless joy of having simple WATER stuck up my nose, I certainly didn’t want to risk having oats stuck up Shiloh’s. And it’s not like you can hold a Kleenex up to a dog’s nose and say, “Blow.”

Well, you could. I suspect that this is in the advanced dog training course, though. We’re still working on “Stay.”

All in all, it was an interesting day.

Also? You might be tempted to think a dog sneeze is funny, but it’s snot.

<muffled snorts of laughter>

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Filed under dogs, humor, laughter, Shiloh, writing

The Perils of Doggie Bath Day

“Someone smells like a dog.”

“Why are you looking at me?”

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Our dogs are pretty clean, overall. They don’t have many chances to get dirty, although in our old house Sophie managed to find stinkbugs in the basement with alarming regularity. She’s smart, though, and soon made the connection between rolling in the latest Eau de Canine perfume and going straight into the tub, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Our philosophy behind having clean dogs is pretty simple. We like petting them without getting grime on our hands, and we prefer that the house not smell like dogs.

So today was Doggie Bath Day. As soon as I said the word “bath,” Sophie went stone-still and tried to melt into the couch. She knows what that word means – she can even spell it – and she wants no parts of it.

Shiloh followed me right upstairs and into the bathroom, because he doesn’t know what ANY words mean. He watched me hook up the spray hose to the shower head. He observed me getting out a stack of towels. Being a good sport with a bad memory, he even jumped into the tub, wagging his tail.

He endured the first round of water and soap with equanimity. “Hmmm,” I could see him thinking, weighing his options as I lathered up his back. “This doesn’t seem TOO bad. It’s kind of like getting petted, only with bubbles. Odd but strangely compelling.”

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When I moved on to his head and neck, however, the situation deteriorated rapidly. He went from gentle and amiable to panic-stricken in seconds, even though – and here’s the interesting part – nothing unusual happened. I did not spray gallons of water directly into his eyes or ears. I failed to squirt dog shampoo up his nose. We were not suddenly menaced by a gigantic wall of water. There was no gelatinous ooze monster with teeth like razor blades emerging  from the drain. 

“Good boy, Shiloh! Good, good boy. That’s right, you’re a good HEY STOP! NO! STAY IN THE TUB! No no no no Shiloh what are you OUCH! NO! NO CLIMBING ON MY HEAD! COME ON, BOY, GOOD DOG AIIIIGGGGHHHHHH!”

Afterwards, I dried him off, mildly stunned. He even gave me his paws, probably out of sheer embarrassment. I squelched downstairs, dripping, to inform my husband that he was on deck to wash Sophie. I was done.

There were two spots – one on my shoulder, one on the side of my shorts – that weren’t soaked. Muscles I didn’t even know I had ached from keeping Shiloh in the tub. In direct defiance of basic anatomy, I somehow got water in my spleen.

Doggie bath time isn’t fun for ANYONE.

Sure, there are local places that wash dogs, but Shiloh hates them. Despite the attentions of caring, gentle staff who genuinely love dogs, he struggles and wheezes and sounds like Darth Dog to the point that even Sophie feels sorry for him. Last time we took him, she toddled into the washing area and laid down on the rubber floor mat in a surprising show of solidarity.

It didn’t help, of course, but it was still cute.

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So I’ll wash Shiloh at the house, and he’ll remember halfway through every bath that he hates getting baths, and I’ll get soaked, and he’ll get embarrassed. And Sophie will hope against hope that Shiloh continues to go first, and that we’ll somehow be distracted into forgetting that we have two dogs. At least as far as bath-time is concerned. Dinner time? That’s a whole different story.

And we’ll ALL keep our eyes open for a gelatinous ooze monster with teeth like razor blades emerging from ANY drain.

You know, just in case.

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Filed under dogs, humor, laughter, Shiloh, sophie, Uncategorized, writing

An Open Letter to Dave Barry

Dear Mr. Barry,

Where to begin? I suppose the most logical place is this: I swear I am not making this up.

I’ve been a fan of yours since I lived in Miami in the 90s. Your ability to sum up the absurdity that is South Florida while maintaining an air of unwavering loyalty always brought a wry smile to my face: It might be crazy, but it’s OUR crazy.

I saw you play as part of the Rock Bottom Remainders one year at the Miami Book Fair. The show was in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse on not-yet revitalized South Beach. It still ranks as one of the most enthusiastic live performances I’ve personally witnessed. There is no denying that you were having a blast, power strumming chords to that perennial crowd favorite, MacArthur Park. Hahaha – just kidding! It was La Bamba. And possibly Wooly Bully.

I’ve taken part in the Tropic Hunt and the Post Hunt. One of the only overt exhibitions of civic pride I ever witnessed in Miami happened when the crowd united in anger against a team from North Carolina that won the Tropic Hunt one year in Coconut Grove. I’m pretty sure the winners were ferried to an undisclosed location across Biscayne Bay in order to give them a head start in fleeing the city ahead of an aggrieved yet highly motivated mob. Woohoo, Miami!

I proudly (word choice?) performed as part of the Kazoo Processional that led guests to dinner at our local Chamber of Commerce Signature Event the year that you were the Guest Presenter. Let’s just say I am not one of the world’s naturally-gifted kazooers: to this day I have no idea if my cheeks hurt so much afterwards from steadily sustained laughter or from honking out “When the Saints Go Marching In” eighty-seven times in a row.

I’ve read several of your books, most recently Peter and the Starcatchers. I’ve laughed out loud at your columns, especially the Year in Review and the Gift Guide. However, if forced to choose one of your most notable literary achievements, it would have to be the naming of the title character in Naked Came the Manatee: it’s hard to go wrong with a manatee named Booger.

Recently, a friend wrote to tell me that you were coming to Annapolis, Maryland for a book signing of your newly released Insane City. I was excited all the way up until I remembered I’d committed to making a presentation that day, clear on the other side of the state. Even though Maryland isn’t Florida, where travelling across the state can take up to three days depending on traffic in Orlando, it was still enough to prevent me from making the event. My friend magnanimously offered to get a copy of your new book signed for me.

The following Tuesday, I entered my office to discover the book sitting on my chair. I was elated and extremely grateful. Rumors suggest I may have run a celebratory lap around the first floor of the office with the book proudly held over my head.

On Thursday I brought the book home. I took it out of my bag – worried about it getting crushed or torn there – and placed it in the middle of the dining room table. The large dining room table. My husband and I went to dinner and returned less than ninety minutes later to find the book laying open on the floor. The cover had been removed and – how shall I put this? – artfully redesigned by Shiloh, Mischief Dog. He even ate part of it.

Here’s a photo of Shiloh refusing to look at the camera when confronted with the Evidence of the Crime.

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Now I don’t mean to start any trouble, but the copy of Stephen King’s Wind Through the Keyhole sat on the same table for several days, untouched. Shiloh also ignored a copy of the Post Magazine, temptingly opened to the column Gene Weingarten wrote for the 2012 Post Hunt. In Shiloh’s defense, we’d only had him for about a month at that point, so it’s entirely possible that he wasn’t yet aware that the table existed.

Even so, I think you’ll agree that the evidence is crystal clear: he loves your writing SO MUCH he decided to eat it. In the words of Maurice Sendak, “I’ll eat you up, I love you so!” He’s a pretty deep dog with what appears to be a rare appreciation of excellent fiction.

It is, however, equally plausible that he loathes your book. Alternately, he may have confused it with a dog treat. Or a plush squeaky toy.

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He’s kind of difficult to interpret, when you get right down to it.

Sophie, our Main Dog, was appalled by the entire episode. If she had opposable thumbs, she’d waste no time in contacting her congressional representative and formally requesting legislation to reclassify Shiloh as a cat.

The good news? You’re in excellent company. Shiloh has also eaten a paperback  and nibbled the corner of Terry Pratchett’s Nation audiobook cover, both on loan from my the Howard County Library System.

That brings me to my request. No, I do not need you to send me another signed copy of your book. I’d be delighted to buy myself a replacement solely for the cover, or even to enjoy the copy I have sans cover but lovingly drooled upon by my misguided yet well-intentioned rescue dog.

If you happen upon this message and are so inclined, I’d like to ask you to consider helping to promote our local libraries. They are top-notch, but – as with all libraries – there are programs that need support in order to continue. I’ll be raising money this weekend as a Celebrity Bartender during Evening in the Stacks, their annual fundraiser that supports two exceptional programs: A+ Partners in Education and Project Literacy.

And who knows? Maybe one day Shiloh will be ready to take part in their DEAR Program (Dogs Educating and Assisting Readers), in which third graders improve their skills by reading to attentive dogs.

But only if we can keep him from eating the books.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for the laughter. It’s made a world of difference. According to this Alert Reader, at least.

And I swear I’m not making that up, either.

Sincerely,

Mickey

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Filed under authors, books, dogs, laughter, Shiloh, writing

Shiloh Happened

I’d meant to write an AMAZING end-of-the-year post, reflecting on my successes and failures of the past year while promising to do better in the next. Blah blah blah. You know the drill. Earth-shattering insights! Insanely simple yet profound suggestions!

And then, Shiloh happened.

261835_4382759214598_1064910113_nFor those of you who don’t know, Shiloh, Mischief Dog joined our family in April. He’s a rescue dog, somewhere between eight and ten (depending on which paperwork you believe). He spent most of his life chained to a doghouse outside in the mountains. After some initial setbacks that resulted in the death of all floor-based houseplants and new blinds for every window the living room, he settled in admirably.

The fact that you never really know what he’ll get into next adds an element of adventure to day-to-day life. He’s shredded toys (both his and Sophie the Wonder Dog’s), slippers, a paperback, two audiobook cases, tissue paper, cards and several bags. He’s eaten a stick of butter, a pound and a half of homemade Chex mix and a bag of gummy bears (including the bag).

One evening we returned home, opened the front door and were hit with the unmistakable and overwhelming smell of coffee. Shiloh discovered sealed bags of whole beans stored in a box stacked in a corner of the laundry room.

To clarify, the bags were not sitting out in plain view on a counter covered with bacon grease.

Evidence suggests that he enjoyed chewing through the box AND all three bags, cheerfully spreading the beans from one side of the living room to the other with the bulk of concentration focused damningly on his dog bed. Based on the fact that close to half a pound of it was missing, his personal favorite blend appeared to be Pumpkin Spice.

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Panicked, we called the vet. Meanwhile, Shiloh looked hugely uncomfortable, opened his mouth and out shot a stream of partially chewed coffee beans. This was good news – as long as he was throwing up on his own, no further treatment was necessary. That dog vomited coffee beans for HOURS, proving that his body is far smarter than his mind and stomach. I am certain that the laws of physics were broken that night, because WAY more beans came out than went in.

He seems to have learned his lesson, though. “Shiloh, what’s this?” accompanied by the shake of a bag of coffee now sends him slinking into the next room, eyes averted.

After starting to write the end of year post the other day, I innocently left the house for two hours. Two. Hours.

I returned to Plush Toy Armageddon. Christmas was just days before. Both dogs enjoyed the kind of attention that comes from being the Wonder Dog and the Mischief Dog, respectively. Shiloh received several “indestructible” toys with multiple squeakers.

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I’d like to think they went quickly; the plush snake, the adorable alligator, the blue thing that I-don’t-know-what-it-was. Sophie’s duck and bear were collateral damage, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cookies – a gift from our neighbors – were stalked with the consummate skill of a dog smart enough to casually notice a pattern just before the appearance of the magical peanut butter cookies. I have no idea what he was trying to do with the sugar cookie mix, but he seemed to enjoy prancing through it after destroying the bag. His whiskers were coated in flour.

I stood there in the last light of day, stunned speechless. I dropped everything, sat on the steps and called my husband.

“You won’t believe what Shiloh did.”
“Bet I will.” He’s right – my husband has come home to this scene several times and counting.
As I described the sheer magnitude – the duck’s little foot was torn off, there were easily eighteen squeakers out and stuffing EVERYWHERE – he stopped me. “He ate the cookies?”
“Yes?”
“There were chocolate chips in there. And I think macadamia nuts.”
“Yes, but he’s eaten COFFEE BEANS before. I think he’ll be okay.” I offered this last part with a doubtful edge to my voice. “Okay, I’ll call the vet.”

I called our vet and explained the situation.
“Macadamia nuts? Those are toxic. You need to induce vomiting.”
“I’m sorry, I need to what?”
“Induce vomiting. Pour small amounts of hydrogen peroxide down his throat until he starts throwing up.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. He’ll barely let us give him a bath. It takes FIVE of you to hold him down to trim his nails. I’m supposed to get peroxide down his throat?!”
“If he ate macadamia nuts? Yes.”
“Okay.”

I hung up, thought for a minute, and picked up the phone.

“Hey there! Thanks so much for the cookies – we really enjoyed them. Quick question though – were there macadamia nuts in any of them? No? Thank goodness. Why? Um, well, we thought there might’ve been some in the remaining cookies, which Shiloh helped himself to while we were out. And it seems macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Hahaha, that crazy Shiloh. Now I won’t have to induce vomiting, which is a relief all around, let me tell you. Haha. Yep. Well you have a Happy New Year!”

Our neighbors are good sports, but this might have been too much information even for them.

549093_4143832041568_2045243554_nSo I cleaned (pro-tip: use a shop vac for flour), and Shiloh skulked, and Sophie remained hidden until the coast was clear. An hour later, I was relaxing on the couch and Shiloh crept up, curled into a tiny ball and was snoring within minutes.

430370_4224646301874_1199647589_nI admire his resilience. He hasn’t had the easiest life, this dog. He shies around strangers, and gets a little jumpy sometimes. He hates having his paws touched. He didn’t lay down in our line of sight for the first week we had him. He didn’t know what a toy was or how to play with one. He’d never seen a rawhide.

And yet, just months later, he’s settled in. He barks at the vacuum and paper-shredder and blender.  He follows me everywhere.  You can almost feel Sophie rolling her eyes at his exploits from time to time – when he runs into walls, for example, or stands in the middle of a room staring at nothing. For hours. Or when we find him gleefully shredding another toy, crazy tail wagging away.  He adores Sophie, though, and so they get along well. He is kind and gentle (unless you are a squeaky toy), and a very welcome addition to our home.

So that’s what happened to my epic end-of-year post: Shiloh. And honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy New Year everyone! 

And thanks, as always, for reading.

5 Comments

December 30, 2012 · 5:17 pm

Remembering Indy

Please be advised that this is a self-indulgent post, meant to chronicle the life of a good dog. It is long. It contains many pictures. You have been warned.

We had to say goodbye to Indy, Adventure Dog last Friday morning.  He was 8 years old, and we’d only had him for 16 months or so.  It’s hard to believe he’s gone – I don’t want to believe he’s gone.  For such a little guy, he sure left a mighty hole in my heart.

His previous owner couldn’t keep him, and the day that we first learned about him is the same day that we welcomed him into our house and our hearts. Our dog Sophie, who we’ve had since she was a puppy, is also a rescue dog.  She’s about to turn 11, and we’d wanted to get her a companion for quite awhile, but the “right” dog never came along. Until Indy.

He was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.  He was patient, and quiet, and content to be in the background until you had time to acknowledge him. I’d often look up from doing something to find him silently watching me with his gentle eyes.  Although he didn’t love loud noises, he’d often “help” me vacuum by following me through the house and simply being present as I cleaned.  I referred to him as my silent Greek chorus of one.  Sophie (who, let’s be honest, can be a little on the jealous side) often barked at him as a not-so-subtle reminder of who was the boss.  And Indy didn’t care at all.  He’d just sit there, content to be nearby.  I’d often remind Sophie, “You know, there’s enough love for both of you.”  And there was.

We often referred to him as spatially challenged.  He’d try to give you a paw and accidentally swat you in the nose, or the eye.  When you’d toss him a gummy bear (his favorite snack), he’d invariably open his mouth (or close it) at exactly the wrong time.  Peanuts, crackers, biscuits would bounce off of his head.  If you gave him a treat from your hand, though, he take it so gently you barely felt it.  He could be a restless sleeper.  His paws would race, and when he snored he sounded like Curly from the Three Stooges – whoop whoop whoop whoo whoo.

I miss the feeling of him curled behind my legs when I’m sleeping.  When we first got him, he didn’t want to get up on the bed.  We’d wake up in the middle of the night looking for him, only to find him all alone on his dog bed in the office.  We’d entice him back up to the bedroom – happily he figured it out quickly.  After that, he’d always be on the bed, whether it was time to sleep or just keeping one of us company.  He’d lay there quietly, watching or snoozing in the sunshine.

He’d often wake me up by just staring into my face, softly breathing.  I’d wake up, and he’d look hopeful – is it time to get up yet?  Sometimes it wasn’t, and he’d wander back down to the foot of the bed.  Sometimes he simply couldn’t contain himself, and I’d feel his tail wagging through the mattress.  I’d look at him, he’d stop, and then whump whump whump it would start again.  When the time came to get up, he’d jump from the bed and bounce into the hallway, front end down, back end up, tail wagging so hard you could barely see it, then zoom down the stairs like he just couldn’t WAIT for the day to start.

He rarely barked, but when he did, he’d give his gruff little woof, look back over his shoulder, tail wagging with delight as if to say, “Did you hear THAT?!”

He was the happiest dog I’ve ever known.  Just being around him filled me with a simple joy.  He could amuse himself playing with a favorite toy, shaking it and flinging it only to pounce on it then shake it some more.  Indy LOVED sticks, could reduce even a big one into tiny pieces in a matter of minutes.  Sophie enjoyed barking at Indy while he was playing, so much so that she earned herself the nickname of “the fun police”.

Indy was a talker.  When he yawned, sometimes, he’d make a noise halfway through and end up sounding like Axl Rose – AH-oooh! He’d make little grunts and groans.  He loved to wiggle – there were times when we had to moderate his wiggling, in fact.  He’d stretch out on the carpet and drag himself forward with his front paws – a position that we laughingly referred to as “junk rubbing”.  He’d often put his front right paw on your arm, just set it there and look at you.

He loved rolling in the grass in the backyard.  When we first got him, he’d go outside, do his business as fast as possible then race back to the door.  As he got to know us, he’d spend time rolling in the grass, zipping around in dizzying laps or just laying in the sunshine.

Whenever Sophie would race outside after a squirrel, Indy would fly after her.  Since he was faster than she was, he’d invariably crash right into her butt, at which point she’d whirl around and bark at him.  He was just learning what a squirrel was, and that it was “the enemy”.  Whenever he came back inside – rain or shine – he’d sit on his little rug by his favorite book shelf and wait for you to dry his paws.  He LOVED having his paws dried.  We’d fuss over his paws even if they were dry as dust, asking, “Whoa, Indy, were you swimming out there or what? How did your paws get so wet?” And he’d sit there, grinning and wagging.

When you were sitting on the couch, he’d come up and lean his head on your knee, even though most of the time it meant that his head was bent almost sideways.  Sometimes he’d lay down at your feet and, often as not, lay his head across a foot, or simply lay there touching you.

We’d often think he was going to break his tail with his wagging, or that his butt was going to lift off the ground. Thump thump thump thump.  You could feel it through the house.

His favorite spots were his dog beds in the office, under my desk, the living room by the bookshelf, the sofa or the window, and the bedroom upstairs.  He’d just learned to get up on the couch, earning him the new nickname Mister Couch.  Prior to that he’d pull this hysterical move where he’d jump up with front legs only, back legs firmly on the ground.  Once he jumped into the back of the mini-van – he was so worried we were going to leave him home – slammed into the back of the rear seat and collapsed into a boneless heap on top of a cooler, tail wagging feebly to reassure us that he was okay.  Indy dog made me smile each and every day, and laugh out loud in delight more times than I can count.  There will never be another Indy.
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When his end came, it came FAST.  We’d expected to have years with him, you see.  He was only 8, we took great care of him, and we loved him beyond all reason.  But he got cancer, a horrible, ugly, malignant sarcoma that took him from us so fast that it’s almost a blur.

I don’t like to think about how long he might’ve lived with symptoms that we couldn’t see.  He was the bravest dog, and so courageous that it wouldn’t surprise me to know that it was for longer than I can even imagine.  And that breaks my heart.

This is a dog, mind you, who once shredded the skin off the top of his own nose trying to get outside to go to the bathroom one day when we were at work.  He ALWAYS wanted to be a good dog, and you know what? He was. He was the best dog.

We took him to the vet’s two weeks ago because he’d been throwing up.  Our vet gave us medicine to help his digestion and relax his tummy, and it worked for a few days.  That Thursday I took him back in because he’d thrown up twice the night before, and gave the vet permission to do exploratory surgery because the x-rays still looked strange.  The vet found telescoping bowels, and in the section he was forced to remove, he found a gigantic, tennis ball sized mass.  He told us how lucky we were – the mass was contained, there were no tumors in the area, and the mass had sealed his bowel, so waiting even a short time would’ve meant necrotic death for his bowels and thus death for him.  Our vet sent it to be biopsied.

Indy looked like he was completely on the mend, all the way up until Tuesday, when he didn’t want to eat again.  I figured maybe it was a little set-back – I mean, up until then he’d been doing amazingly well, even bouncing around a little (although we tried to limit that because we were afraid of him messing up his stitches).

Wednesday morning I woke up to find him staring at me in bed.  It would be the last time he was able to be on the bed.

I fussed over him – I was always fussing over him, calling him a Silly Old Man, or Mister Bounce, or Indy Dog, or Littlest Man and petting him or hugging him or giving him kisses.  You have no idea how thankful I am for that, although, of course, you always feel like you could have done more.

How could I possibly know that we had to fit that much love into such a short time?

I let him out back, and he tried to go to the bathroom then staggered to the side, collapsing in his favorite spot in the yard, right in the middle of three trees.  He lay there, head high, a thousand yard stare gazing into the forest behind the house.  I thought he was dying – it turned out he was dying – and somehow I managed to get him into the car and to the vet’s.

They opened him up a second time.  You see, sometimes when they remove a mass that large – one that we discovered on that day was so incredibly malignant – it opens the floodgates and let’s the cancer take off.  My husband and I made the difficult decision that if the vet found Indy riddled with cancer when he went back in, we didn’t want to wake poor Indy back up.  We spent every second in that room with him – from the time we got there until they took him into surgery again – telling him want a good dog he was, how much we loved him, and that if it was his time to go, he should go and not worry about us.

He made it through this second surgery.  It turned out the sutures had torn and a small amount of toxins had been seeping out.  What great news!  We could recover from this, although it wouldn’t be easy.  We were over the moon!  No sign of cancer.

Indy looked tired but happy when we picked him up Wednesday night.  His tail was wagging, he went into his favorite bed in the office and slept peacefully.  He wouldn’t eat, though.

I slept downstairs with him, me on the couch, him on the floor next to the couch.  My hand was resting on his back each time I woke up.

I took him into the vet on Thursday for monitoring, and we were told we could pick him up at 7.  He didn’t look as great, but I thought, you know, he’s been through a LOT, poor little guy.  You’ve gotta be patient.

I don’t want to write much about Thursday night, except to say that even though it was sheerest torment to see what my poor dog was enduring, his ears were alert and he wagged his tail every time he saw one of us.

He wagged his tail.  Do you have any idea what kind of unconditional love makes you wag your tail when you are going through that kind of pain?  It was like he knew the end was racing towards him, and he was happy just to be spending his final moments with us.

He couldn’t walk, in the end.  We had to carry him on a folding table to the van to get him back to the vet’s.  They could barely stabilize him long enough for us to say goodbye.  The cancer had gotten him, you see.  It was killing him from the inside out.  His systems were failing.  When the vet told us – and I’d been hoping against hope that there was something he could do, anything – I felt like someone had reached into my chest and ripped out my heart.  Then they’d crushed it, and set it on fire and scattered the ashes into a strong, cold wind.

Saying goodbye to my littlest guy, holding him and hugging him and kissing him and petting him while he slipped away, was agonizing, but something we had to do.  We HAD to be there with him at the end.

He was a loyal dog, a sweet dog, a gentle dog.  Indy was full of love – he was overflowing with unconditional love, no strings attached.  He existed to be near you, and to love you, and to be happy.

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We could all learn a lot from Indy dog.  Keep wagging until the very end.  Be happy.  Live in the moment.  Give love with no strings attached.  Be optimistic.  Try new things.  Have fun.  Race around the yard.  Be open to love, because you never know where you’re going to find it.

I had a hard time dealing with losing him.  I know that life isn’t fair – I’ve known this for a long time – but watching a sweet, innocent, loving dog meet such a fast and nasty end shook me to my core.  We were so unbelievably lucky to have him in our lives – far, far luckier than I ever deserved – but I can’t help but feel that we were robbed.  That we should’ve had more time with him – that we deserved it and he deserved it.

I look around this home and I realize how empty it feels without Indy here.  I look for him in his favorite places.  I think that he’s just out of sight, that if I call his name, he’ll come racing to my side to cheer me or comfort me or just be there.  I see his muddy pawprints on the folding table we used as a ramp for him to get into the car without straining his stitches.  I see the padded basket that we used just once to raise him into the car.  I see his soccer ball sitting, abandoned, in the middle of the backyard and it makes me cry, every single time.  I stumble on his favorite toy, or glimpse his empty bowls.  I look up at dinner time, straining to see his one eye peeking at me from the other side of my husband’s chair.  I walk out of the bathroom and swear that I see him, just for a moment, laying on the bed, patiently waiting for a look, or a word, or a pat.  I refuse to wash a sweater covered with his hair.  I carefully listen, hoping to hear his tail thumping against the wall just outside the kitchen doorway, waiting for a gummy bear.

It took about a day for Sophie to realize that her little brother wasn’t coming home.  They were never really peas and carrots, but I can tell that Sophie misses the hell out of him.  She has far too much yard to patrol now, and the squirrels are getting bold.  There’s no back up to help remind us that it’s food time.  There’s no one to bark at during playtime.  She’s stuck trying to cheer us up all alone.

I don’t know that I’ll ever entirely get over the loss, but then I think, you know what?  That’s okay.  He deserves to be remembered, and you have to take the good with the bad, right?  There’s one thing I do know.  There are so many dogs out there – sad, lonely, abandoned, scared – that need a forever home, just like our Indy dog did.  I also know that I’m going to miss out big time if I let this stop me from getting another dog.  It would be the worst insult to Indy’s memory that I can think of if I didn’t share my life and love with another dog in need.  It will take time, though, for the pain to pass and the healing to start.

There will never be another Indy, Adventure Dog.

But we have to keep on wagging, just the same.

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Doggie Dreams and Stranger Things

So I am on to the Flickr exercise. Naturally I searched under “dog” and found this gorgeous image called “Dog Dreams.”

I am trying to figure out this Creative Commons agreement. . . it says that I can use the image if I attribute it, “. . . in the manner specified by the author.” Trouble is, I can’t figure out how the author would like to be attributed. So I’ll go ahead and say that this picture was taken by Flickr member bobmarley753 and hope that it is enough.

It received a number of positive comments from other Flickr members. I also learned that there is a FlickrEnvy group (by invitation only!) for outstanding photos, but somehow I suspect that I won’t be invited into that group any time soon. Hahahaha!

I went on to try theFlickr mashup exercise and created this little gem:

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