From our family to yours: Happy Halloween.
(you’ll find out more about the dog later)
I got too hot sitting in the sun so I took my book and moved to the shade. Now I sit in a corral made of large branches from a dead cottonwood. I’m facing west. I’ve removed my shoes and socks so my toes can dig in the grass, into the earth. I hear the chickens clucking; they’ll be going to bed soon. I hear a mourning dove. It makes its Whooo-hoooo…coooo, cooooo, cooooo noise. There’s a lark somewhere far to my left. The Stupid Dove (Asian? Eurasian? The ones with the band around their throats and that sound like they were raised by crows because of the way the coo-squawk. Squkwoowk, I guess. They sound like idiots) is squkwooking behind me, looking for its mate.
The sun is descending, falling through the leaves and branches of the giant, wild willow. It looks like a cottonwood, too, but has willow leaves. The garden is growing; I can see the rhubarb from here. It’s beginning to bolt. The hops are creeping up their trellis and the robins hop around lunging at the ground for bugs. There are little black birds with beady eyes and yellow beaks, too. They are more serious than the robins who seem to enjoy the evening as much as I. Beyond the trees that line the creek, the trees whose leaves sparkle in the sun because it rained earlier today, the hill rolls tumblingly up to the rainclouds on the horizon. The clouds are lit by the sun behind them, giving them a golden glow around the edges.
Something has grabbed my attention. On the other side of the corral, the grass wiggles. I watch long enough to see that it’s a mouse, a cute mouse. It doesn’t know I’m here. I watch while I type and it nibbles at … I can’t see what it nibbles, but I see it pause, poke its head above the grass and look around. The dog comes close so the mouse stands still. That is wise as the dog loves little creatures. She wants to hug them and lick them and play with them and take them home and call them “George.” Mostly, though, she catches them and gives them heart attacks and then carries their little dead bodies around, hoping they can be friends if she’s just patient enough. The mouse still has not moved. It knows better. It must be an old mouse. Wait, now it inches its way down the streambank, slowly. I only see it because I’ve been watching. It is going to the rocks where it will be safe.
More robins congregate on the lawn, some chirp from the tree. Across the green, the Peak peeks. It looks like it has lost its snow but I know it’s still covered; I saw it this morning and there was more white than blue. This is just a trick of the afternoon light.
This is a lovely moment. The smell of grass and fresh air. I smell lilacs but that can’t be, as there are none nearby, not that I know of, at any rate. It’s warm – the high sixties at least which is funny since it started out so cold this morning, perhaps in the 40’s? Low 50’s at the most.
I want to remember this moment forever, this evening on an early summer day. I wish I could give it to everyone I meet, I think it would bring peace to many. This is the best I can do, writing about it, sharing pictures. It’s not the same but hopefully, it will help me remember later.
Disclosure: This is my version of Stream of Consciousness-style writing. I’ve only edited spelling mistakes. Also, I had to go into the house to post it because the internet didn’t reach all the way out there.
THE NEXT DAY, an edit: While I was washing the breakfast dishes and looking out the kitchen window, I saw the lilacs. They’re surrounding my car. I’d been sitting by them earlier. I’ve always known they’re there and they’re still blooming so obviously, I was in some other state brought about by peacefulness yesterday when I said there were no lilacs nearby.
I’m all out of fresh and wonderful topics on which to post so…I’m cheating and taking a story from the Notes section on my Facebook page. It’s a true story, one that delights Little B every time she reads it. It’s a tale of my petsitting adventures and as housesitting season is upon us, I think this will be timely.
Transcript from early morning hours of August 2, 2011
All participants are in the bedroom with three participants on the bed
Doug: I am Douglas the Great Explorer and I hereby claim this land mass as my own!
Me: Doug! What are you DOING?
Doug: I am exploring and I name this land mass – which I found all by myself – after me. It will heretofore be called DougLandia!
Me: Doug, that’s my chest. Get off! You’re leaving dents in my sternum with your pointy little cat feet. OFF!
I feebly shove Doug off my chest because it’s 3 in the damn morning and I have no strength after being rudely woken from a sound sleep
Max (using a terrible French accent): Oh ho ho, Doog-lass! Zees eez my prop-pair-tee and has been so seence long before you came heer as an eensolent whelp, you eensolent whelp!
Doug: Have you claimed it as your own? Have you named it? Huh? Well, have you?
Max (with same terrible French accent): Zees eez not for you to qwest-ee-on! Eet eez time for us to duel!
Doug: I will fight you!
Doug reclaims his territory and Max, who has claimed the head and shoulders portion of my person, readies for combat. They both open their mouths and begin to slap at each other’s faces. The open mouths attempt to bite the incoming batting paws.
Me: What THE HELL?? Stop fighting on top of me! I am TRYING to SLEEP! Get…OFF!
Both cats are tossed off the bed. Silence resumes.
Maya: *slurp sluuuurp schlrrp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw sluuuurp slrp sllluuuuurrrp*
Me (so tired. so not amused): Maya. What are you doing?
Maya: Taking a bath.
Me: It’s 3:15 in the morning. It’s still dark out. Why are you taking a bath NOW?
Maya: Because I got dirty.
Me: When? When did you get dirty? Was the landing too dirty for your liking? Is your pillow making your fur all gross?
Maya: No. I got dirty when we went for a walk.
Me: Yeah, because you roll in gross things all the time! Every time we go for a walk, you find something to roll in. You’re a dog! Of course you’re dirty! But is 3:15 in the morning really the time for taking care of the consequences of your rolling addiction?
Maya: Yes. *sllluuurp slrp ssschlooooorp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw*
Me: Ohmygod, just stop. You will have all day tomorrow to clean your pretty little paws. Just…be quiet for now and let me sleep.
Maya: …..*slurp sluuuurp schlrrp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw sluuuurp slrp sllluuuuurrrp sllluuurp slrp ssschlooooorp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw* This continues for fifteen minutes
Me: Are you done?
Me: Are you sure? You’re clean?
Me: Good. Goodnight.
Something lands on the bed
Doug: HI! Hey. Hey! Are you awake? HEY! Hey, are you awake?
Me: Yes, I am, Doug, because apparently, I am not allowed to sleep anymore. What do you want?
Me: Hi. What do you want?
Doug: Do you want to pet me?
Me: No. I want to sleep.
Doug: Do you want to pet me before you sleep? Listen, I’m purring!
Me: No. I don’t want to pet you and I don’t want to listen to you. Get off my chest! Why do you keep denting my chest?
Max: Hello. I have returned.
Me: Oh, yay.
Max: Doog-lass! I see you are trying to stake your claim upon my territory yet again! We must fight.
Me: You already fought, you idiots! Doug, get off me! Max, lie down and shut up!
Maya (appearing at the side of the bed, tail hitting the mattress): *thump thump thump thump* Hey! Are we getting up now? Because I need to go to the bathroom! Let’s get up, ok?
Me: Maya, you do not have to go to the bathroom, yet! Lie down and go to sleep.
Maya: Yes, I do. I need to go right now. And you have to get up because I can’t go downstairs in the dark by myself.
Me: So take Doug.
Maya: But neither of us can open the door.
Me: I hate you. I. Hate. ALL. Of. You.
Everyone goes downstairs. Maya goes outside. I feed the cats their Fancy Feast; may as well since everyone’s up anyhow.
Everyone is back in bed. Doug and Max start fighting again. Doug and Max get thrown off the bed again. Something big lands on the bed.
Maya: There were cats landing on me. I’m going to sleep here. Move over.
Me: I’m not moving over! You have your own bed!
Maya (lies down and shoves me): THIS is my bed. Move over.
Me: Ohmygod, I so hate you all! If you three don’t knock it off, I am going to drive you all over to the Chinese restaurant! DO YOU UNDERSTAND??
Maya (taking up way more space than she needs on the bed): Shhh. I’m trying to sleep. And you’re being racist.
Maya is hogging the bed and Max is back on his head/shoulders perch
Doug: HEY! It’s morning time! It’s time for you to feed us!
Me (so very groggy): I already fed you.
Doug: But it’s morning and you can give us our food now.
Me: I already gave you your food!
Doug: But, now it’s time for food!
Me: So go downstairs and lick the Fancy Feast crumbs out of your stupid bowl!
Doug: Will you come with?
Me: NO! And get off my chest, you freakin’ psychopath!
Maya: It’s time to get up. I have to go find all the bunnies in town.
Me (whining): I can’t get up. I am too tired.
Maya: Stop being lazy! You have to get up, now. The sun is up and we have to find bunnies. Get up.
Me: Make me, you giant oaf.
Maya: (shifting over and pinning my arm under her paws) *lick lick lick lick lick lick*
Me (trying to get my arm back): STOP LICKING MY ARM! What is WRONG with you!!
Maya: *lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*
Me: ARGH! That’s so GROSS! STOP IT!!!
I manage to get my arm free and then dive under the covers to hide from my assailant
Maya (pawing the lump under the cover with her Paws of Death): Hey! I know you’re in there. Get up! We have to go for a walk! It’s time to walk!
Me: No it’s not! I have until 6:30! Let me sleep!
Starts to cry
Maya flumps her whole freakin’ self on top of the lump under the covers
Me (muffled): Get off! You’re suffocating me!!!!
Me: FINE! FINE! I’m getting up! Are you all happy?
Max: I’m not. I was busy sleeping on your pillow, on your hair.
Me: You are all on my list. I am going to make duct tape restraints for each of you.
Maya: Hurry up! There are bunnies and they’re getting away! Get dressed faster!
Me: Move out of my way faster, you obnoxious lump!
Doug: Hey! What are you doing? Why aren’t you in bed? I need to stand on your chest!
Everyone tumbles down the stairs while I finish tying my shoes.
Doug: I want to go for a walk, too.
Me: Well, you can’t. Maya, come here so I can put your harness on you.
Maya (all full of spirit and fun): Come get me!
Me: Oh, hell, no. I am NOT playing “chase” with you. You will come here and put your harness on or I am going to go back to bed for the next half hour and you can suffer without your morning walk.
Maya: You’re so mean!
Lies down in front of me, just out of reach
Me: Seriously? This is what you do? SERIOUSLY?
Me: So help me, if you don’t get your furry butt over here and put your harness on, I really will leave you all walkless this morning and you WILL be SORRY!
Maya: Fine. Put my stupid harness on.
Me: Come over here.
Maya: No. YOU come over HERE.
Me: You are horrible. I walk over to Maya and manage to get the harness on her, even though Maya is lying down Ok. Let’s go.
Doug: I want to come, too.
Me and Maya: NO!
Doug is shoved back into the house by my foot as Maya pulls toward the street. My arm is nearly ripped off and Doug nearly gets a door slammed on his head. Maya and I leave the house, Doug stays in. We walk down the stairs into the lovely, new and fresh summer morning. One bunny was found. Several chickens were stalked. Friends were greeted on the trail and calling cards were left all over the place.
Everyone managed to survive…but just barely.
The end of the beginning of the day.
Gabe never got to have a pet as a kid because he was abused. Obviously. As a result, he’s always wanted dogs, lots of big dogs. After we bought our house, we decided it was time to add to our family. We started out small with Toki and Evie but after awhile, he started making noise about getting a dog and his need for a canine companion was made greater when the neighbors got a ridiculously cute and fluffy Great Pyrenees puppy, the runt of the litter. Her name was Cassidy Jasmine. I called her CJ. Gabe tried to steal her and she obliged by regularly digging under the fence and squeezing through the hole to play at our house.
When Cassidy was almost 2-years-old, sad things happened to our neighbors and they had to move away. The worst part was that they couldn’t take Cassidy with so asked if she could live with us since she had grown up next door and it wouldn’t be a big change in her life. We were pretty sure we could afford her so we accepted. Gabe re-named her Kassidy (because the K is far more impressive than a C) and we had a dog of our own! Kassidy did well with us as long as she was at home or in the car. We found out quickly, though, that she didn’t like to go on walks; she was shy and unsure of other people, other dogs, new situations. We took her to Pet Smart once and found out that she didn’t walk on slippery floors, no tile, no laminate, not even wood. It was carpet or earth for her.
One night, she got sprayed between the eyes, point-blank, by a skunk and that is why we found out she was sick. She started pooping blood and vomiting shortly thereafter so we took her to the vet who thought she’d contracted leptospirosis from said skunk. Guess what? It’s highly contagious and can be spread to humans so Kass was quarantined at the vet’s which was awful since she hated being away from home. They ran tests and found it wasn’t leptospirosis; it was Addison’s disease. Her adrenal glands had never been up to par and slowly fell apart each time we took her on a new adventure. We were killing our dog by doing things people do with dogs. Of course, we felt terrible and had many realizations in hindsight. Getting sprayed had simply been the last stressful straw and her kidneys that had been taking the brunt of her adrenal failure, failed, themselves.
She lasted only a few months after that. She had to visit the vet three more times and each time, the vet told us to say our goodbyes but twice, she called us the next day and told us to come get her; she’d survived the night and could go home. The girl had fighting spirit; she just wanted to be with her family. That third time, though, she didn’t come back to us. Toki was devastated, they’d always been close, and Gabe said he couldn’t face having another dog. In my pragmatic way, I felt we weren’t suited for another dog, anyhow. Gabe had lost his job plus he’d been awful at keeping the dog poop picked up. We needed to mature a bit before we would be able to do that again.
Fast forward to last year. One of our big-hearted couple-friends had lost two dogs in a relatively short time span. They still had two dogs left – Daisy and Abby, both rescue dogs who hated each other – but decided to try to fill the hole by getting a puppy. While he’s an adorable little monster and was able to rearrange the remaining pack to his liking, Daisy was miserable. She already hated Abby and now there was this new punk on the block. She grew despondent and spent most of her time sullenly guarding her food bowl.
Because our friends are good, caring people, they realized something had to give. They also remembered that we freaking LOVED Daisy so they told us that if we were interested, they would let us give her the single-dog home she wanted. She was good with cats, she’s on the medium-small side so would fit in the house with no problems and she’s cuter than anything. While we couldn’t really afford a dog, it killed us to think of her suffering, miserable and full of emotional trauma because her food bowl might be attacked at any minute. We said we wanted her and she came to live with us last September.
Daisy May is a sweetheart and I am awfully glad she became part of our family. She and Evie are best buds, they have their girl time together, but otherwise, she’s sort of shy and is ridiculously submissive. Her first week with us was hard; she jumped at everything and her tail was always between her legs. She eventually became more confident and comfortable and that’s when we decided it was time for her first vet visit. The vet told us her shyness, submissive attitude, and unsure behavior may be a result of having been neglected as a puppy and that it was a lucky thing that our friends had rescued her. While none of us had any real information on her, we’d figured she was about 7-years-old but the vet said she was an older dog, probably 10+ based on her teeth and blood and whatever else the vet was looking at. Then she told us that Daisy was in renal failure and her kidneys were more than 75% shut down. My first response was, “Are you KIDDING me? What are we, dog killers?” It turns out we’re not, we just find the dying dogs somehow.
Daisy’s on specially medicated dog food that smells like dirty, sweaty, old testicles. It’s pretty gross. We have to watch what we feed her; she can’t have too much protein or salt so no fancy food or table scraps. We have to fill her saddlebags with kidney juice every 10 days which means we’ve got a bag o’ liquid medicine that we inject under the skin around her hips or shoulders 3 times a month. She hates it but it’s supposed to help her body do all the things that her kidneys can’t. If we’re lucky and she continues to react well to all this treatment, we could have her for another year and a half which would have been her expected lifespan anyhow. The kidney juice really does help, too; she gets lethargic around day 8 and her appetite fades but for several days after the injection, she’s bright-eyed, happy to go for walks and she eats well. She has many more good days than bad on this regimen and we’re doing as much as we can to make her life fun and full of love. We learned with Kassidy that there’s no use in getting frustrated or sad or pissed off over vet bills. The important thing is that Daisy has the best end of her life as possible.
It’s a hard and horrible thing, being the House of the Dying Dog, but there are so many friends out there who need just that, a place to finish out their days and even though we swear our next dog will be the picture of health, I suspect that won’t be the case. Everyone has a calling and I think we have found ours. It’s a painful job but it’s also a good job.
This post is in memory of Kassidy who died on May 19th, 2010, and is dedicated to Daisy May who makes us laugh with her funny little faces and her bouncy ways. We love you little monsters! And a big shout out to Kathleen who held our hands and sent care packages when Kass was on her way out.