Archive for September, 2010

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Today’s Lesson

September 21, 2010

Whether your hounds are young or old, sick or healthy, hug them now.  Don’t take them for granted.  Take photos and video.  Take them on a car ride.  Give them an extra squeeze, an extra cookie.

Sly was only 10.  We had only had him for 6 months.  He was healthy.  Then he ran outside one afternoon and never made it back in.

You can never know.  You can never take anything for granted.  I thought we would have him for years more, and it’s one of my biggest regrets that I do not have more photos of him, that I was so distracted during our time together.

Hug them now, and make sure they know how much you love them.  Give them an extra kiss from me, and another one for Sly.

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Sly

September 21, 2010

I wrote this to my sweet Slider on the day he died, one year ago today.

To my sweet baby Slider,

You’ve been with us for 6 of the hardest months of my life.  When you came here, I was in so much pain from the loss of Tanner that I didn’t know if I’d ever be okay again.  I saw something in your photo on the Michigan REGAP site, and I knew you were meant for us.  And you were perfect.

No one could be around you and be sad for long.  You were irresistible.  You gave us so much in these past months, more than most people get to have in a lifetime.

Thank you for your tooth chattering.  It made everyone laugh.  Everyone at the Meet n Greets was instantly charmed by you, instantly wanted to hug you tight.  It sounded like you were going to rattle your teeth right out of your head.  But we know you did it when you were happy.

Thank you for being such a great Meet n Greet dog.  I know you helped a lot of dogs find homes during your time with us.  Everybody loved you.  They thought you were so pretty and so soft and so sweet.  You let little kids crawl on you, and helped me eat my French fries and cheese curds all summer long.  I’m sorry we kept bringing you to places with balloons.  You really hated the balloons.  It would have been better now that the festival season is over.

Thank you for your wiggly ambling walk.  You had such loosey-goosey hips, and you waved your tail all around.  It made us smile just to watch you trucking around the house and the yard.

Thank you for your paper shredding.  You went at it with such joy and abandon.  And persistence!  You really wanted the paper shredded right now.  Tissue paper was your favorite, but newspapers, napkins, whatever you could get your teeth on would do.  I loved to watch you do it, obviously enjoying yourself so much.

Thank you for your runaway-freight-train run.  You ran sideways, without regard to where you were headed or what might be in your way.  You ran out that way today to the yard.  When I came back to get you, I expected you to run back that way to me, like you always did.  You would run past me a little, turn, dance a bit, and run back up to me.  When we’d played that game once or twice, you’d come to stand next to me and nose my hand for pets, and we’d wait for the other dogs to be done.

Thank you for putting up with your brother Crisco.  He’s old, and achey, and grumpy.  He grumped at you an awful lot, but you never grumped back.  You just sat there calmly and waited for him to get over it.  He did love you, in his way.

Thank you for the way you snarfed down your bagel sandwiches like you were a snake swallowing a rabbit whole.  You’d be done with yours before Crisco had even managed to get the top off his.  It made us happy to see how enthusiastic you were about it.

Thank you for sleeping next to me, and helping to fill the empty space that Tanner left.  I could not bear to see that empty bed every morning.  It made me happy to see you there, curled up or sprawled out.

Thank you for your excitement about car rides.  Whenever you thought you had a chance of getting brought along on a trip, no matter to where, you were so excited we could barely get out of your way.  You barreled down the stairs and through the door….Only to stop and wait for us to lift your back end into the van.

Thank you for your soft bunny fur, and your little pudgy greyhound belly.  You were like a stuffed animal when I hugged you.

Thank you for putting up with Sunny, and maybe even liking her a little bit.  She called you Si-Si.  She always wanted to bring you along in the car, and she laughed at all your silly tricks.  You were just such an easy-going, silly, goofball.

Thank you for trusting us, after so much transition and loss in your life.  I really, really hope you knew how much we loved you and that we would have been with you forever.

Sly, thank you for saving me, when I was in such a dark place after Tanner died.  You brought smiles back to everyone, brought me new hope.  You brought back thoughts of happy times to come, when I had wondered if all my happiness had died with Tanner.  You were so much like him, that if I believed in such things I would believe that he sent you to me when I needed you the most.  Neither of you had a mean or naughty bone in your body.  You were both just pure goodness.  Maybe that’s why I lost you both so quickly.  No one deserves to have that much pure goodness in their lives for long.

Sly, I loved you so much that I even thought I might be able to stand the loss of Crisco.  You made me smile even today, as I sat with him and tried to wrap my head around the idea that I will lose him soon too.  He’s been my best friend for 7 years, and losing him will be like losing a part of my body that I need to survive.  To lose him so close on the heels of Tanner’s death is just too much.  But I thought that if I had you, my sweet boy, I could get through it.  It was too much to ask of you.

I don’t know what I will do without you, my silly old guy.  I truly cannot believe that you are gone.  So fast.  You were acting goofy and playing with your bunny not five minutes before you left me.  I just hope you know that you were loved beyond measure, and that you were finally home forever.

I love you Si Slider, Sly dog, pudge monkey, fuzzy little noodle.  I will never, ever forget you.

If all this rainbow bridge stuff turns out to be true, or some version of it anyway, please take care of Tanner.  You would really have liked each other.

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On a tired Sunday

September 19, 2010

On this sleepy Sunday, I have a bunch of things rattling around in my head.

On Friday night, after dinner, we drove down to Iowa for the Prairie Beach event that Heartland Greyhound Adoption puts on each year.  I haven’t been a vendor at a greyhound event in something like 3 years, and I was really looking forward to this.  It was the first time we had attempted it since having the 2-leggeds.

Unfortunately, it POURED the entire day.  I mean, sheets of water, thunder, the whole shebang.  Was hoping to raise some $$ for MNGR, but we barely made enough to cover the trip.  Plus, everything is now wet.  We have yet to muster the energy to unload the trailer, but we’ll need to air everything out.  Hopefully nothing much is ruined.

But yesterday’s weather was about on par with my mood today.  We were rushing to get set up, and so I was still hanging necklaces when the “blessing of the hounds” began – the opening to the day’s events.  Since  I was a kid, I have gone out of my way to avoid hearing the Rainbow Bridge poem.  It has always made me cry.  But with the losses of the past year and a half, it hit me in the gut yesterday morning.  Untangling necklaces and sobbing.  Had to stop and hold onto Lloyd until it was finished.

Damn, I miss them.  I wish I could believe the Rainbow Bridge story.  I really do.  But I’ve also been an atheist since I was a kid.  My best hope is that each of them went peacefully, without pain, and knowing that they were loved and safe and cherished.

But my boy Sly didn’t get that.  This coming Tuesday, the 21st, is one year since Sly died.  One year since probably the worst day of my life so far.  I was lying on the beanbag chair with Crisco that day, in my jammies, because I had just been told that Crisco had osteo in his spine and had weeks to live.  Sly came up and did his silly waggle dance to go outside.  So I let him.  When I went to get him a couple minutes later, instead of careening back to me with his ridiculous sideways run, he was there struggling on the ground.  I was alone.  I couldn’t lift him.  Pried open his jaws as he fought for breath, tried in vain to find something to remove from his throat.  Then I dragged him across the yard to the van.  I dragged him, as he struggled and flailed.  As I flew down the road, not caring if cops caught me or I wrecked the car, as long as I got to the vet, he died there in my back seat.  Alone, without me to comfort him.

The cuts on my hands from trying to lift him off the wood chips in the yard remained for a couple weeks, dirt ground into them.

That one gutted me.  I couldn’t sleep at night without replaying it.  Took to lying down on the couch at night and watching reruns of Star Trek Next Generation to turn off my brain until it ultimately would shut down completely.

Crisco died a week later, my heart and soul. I had been having occasional nightmares about his death for years, because it was simply the worst thing I could imagine.

Those are the associations I now have with this time of year.  The cool air and falling leaves, and the reading of the Rainbow Bridge poem, have made me ache for them all.  If only I really could see them all again someday.

Right now, I have a houseful of 6 healthy dogs, and it is strange.  No one takes any medications.  No one has wounds that need tending.  There is no one who is frail, and needs me to clear a path for them as they move through the house.  No one who hops on 3.  My oldest dog is Tobey — 11!

Now, when I do turnouts, they race around the yard and chase each other like my Founding Hounds used to, back in Atlanta, and even when we first moved here.  When they were young 10-year-olds and spry.  One of the hardest things is to remember my Original Six Hounds that way, instead of the way they were at the end.  I try to picture Tanner doing his “where’s-the-bathroom” dance routine in the yard, and then his “I-did-a-good-job” sprint to me when he was finished.  And Crisco chasing down and pouncing on a mad and snarling Abby Schnauzer, just for the fun of messing with her head.

I miss them.

It feels like a lifetime ago that we were this family:

Now we are this family:

I love this family too, but it sure doesn’t make me miss the others any less.