Happy Dance!

I was just in the middle of writing a rather sensual poem for Day 3 of November Notes when the phone rang.

Scout the Faithful Companion and I may be having a new dog join our home! Adoption contract and transportation pending, but that’s just like icing on the cake, am I right? How am I going to focus on a poem now? 🐕🐶♥️💗🎈

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Is This Hotel California or Margaritaville? A Romantic Serial?

First off, a song of hope.

I haven’t done a serial in so long that I think I may have forgotten how to write one. This one has its unfortunate inspiration from the storm brewing off the coast of the eastern US. As always, I welcome your input. If you have suggestions or criticisms, tell me (you know, as long as they’re about the story) ;). Thanks. And, if I’m a bit rusty, please forgive me. 🙂  Continue reading

How I Spent My Summer Vacation #amwriting

Hello! I don’t get to post often. Sascha is a blog hog (she doesn’t know how well I rhyme or I’d be given more time…see what I mean?) I am just a crazy rhyming dog. Anyway, in case you don’t know, or haven’t read posts from a billion years ago, I am Scout the Faithful Companion. Personally I dislike that title. I prefer: Scout the very smart, observant English Shepherd. If you know nothing about English Shepherds, I heard someone once talk about us like this: a border collie is smart, but if you tell him to jump off a cliff he’ll do it, an English Shepherd will think about it and then walk away. Now, who’s smart? Continue reading

One Year

If you have never experienced the love of a dog, you may not completely empathize with this post. But I hope you hang on til the end.

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On April 1, 1999, I was presented with a gift, although I paid for it. Her name was Dottie. She had freckles on her face and paws. I renamed her, as you do.

My Cha was fearless. And she couldn’t be housebroken. I’d recently re-injured an ACL tear and was on crutches and she didn’t care. She would just as soon pee on the carpet as look at me.

Oh. I’ll never have another puppy again!

We overcame that first year. My ACL wasn’t repaired, but she did manage to pee in the right places.

We were four years into her wonderful life when her feet began to drag. It was a “hearing” thing that took me to the vets. I just “heard” her back leg dragging when she walked. Dr. Eleanor Thompson took some tests but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She sent us to a neurologist, Dr. Deena Tiches. Cha went through an MRI, which we feared would show a cancerous tumor. There wasn’t one. A spinal tap was then done. The results showed two things. A tick disease and/or a cow/deer related disease. Cha was on antibiotics for nearly two months and was saved. Thank you Drs. Thompson and Dr. Tiches for your perseverance!

There is no way I can convey to you how much I loved this dog. No way. We were a single entity. If I went to walk on the beach, she would stand on the deck barking at me until I returned. If I walked out of the front of the house, you could see her visage in the glass, reprimanding me for leaving without her.

 

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If I was in a room, she would be there. How could a person feel more loved?

And, yet, here I am, without her.

Our lives are long, so much longer than our canine companions, despite our best wishes.

In late December of 2011, she was diagnosed with acute renal failure, probably due to lyme disease. They call it lyme nephritis. I thought I would lose her in minutes. I changed her diet. She was on low protein. I researched. I fed her home-cooked meals. I focused so solely on her kidney disease that when a couple of years later (yes, I DID keep her alive all through that–4 years) the vet said something about neurological deficits but I wasn’t totally coherent. What? Neurological deficits? We’re focusing on kidneys!

Neurological deficits took over. It was slow. Her back legs started to give out. She couldn’t do what she wanted. My beautiful girl. Her eyes were imploring. But she was the most stoic creature ever. She gave herself over to me.

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I was the slow one. I was so focused on her kidney disease that it never occurred to me that I could lose her to something else. A disease called degenerative myelopathy was taking over. I was no longer battling kidney disease. I was so slow. When I finally came around, I fed her whatever she wanted. We were no longer worrying about protein. I needed to give her whatever I could to keep her alive.

This day, a year ago, is when I lost her. I took her for what I thought might be some kind of a stabilizing treatment. I wanted to take her to the beach in a week. One last time. She was lying down and desperately incontinent in the reception room. Dr. Cohen’s eyes caught mine.

I knew what he was thinking.

We were at the end.

I gave her up that day. I sat on the floor in an exam room and let her body rest against mine. I petted her. It was feeble. I so, so didn’t want to let her go. She had been mine for 16 1/2 years. Mine. My beautiful girl. I held her as long as I could until I felt her body begin to grow cold. It happened so much quicker than I could have imagined. That moment I knew she was really gone. My Cha. For so many years I’d dreaded this moment and it was here.

Everyday I wonder if I will ever have in my life a creature like Cha. They are not as ordinary as you would think. I’ve had six dogs and known many more, but a Cha, no. A Cha is a one in a million. She is a boss and a friend. She plays and is never afraid. When you think the worst is upon you, she juts your elbow up with her nose.

She jutted my elbow up with her nose.

And loved me and claimed me as her own.

Every day I hope that I will find a girl like her. My dear, beloved, Cha.

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Bless you always, my dear girl, Cha.

I will miss you for always, until we hopefully live together again.

 

 

 

Cha, Memory

sascha baby picThe eve of our annual Sandbridge trip, our first without Cha. Last year, Cha was still here, although degenerative myelopathy had taken its toll and we knew she was literally on her last legs, but my girl had will, such strength and sense of purpose and plain desire to never let me out of her sight even if it meant that if I was out of the room, she barked so that I would return. And I always did. I didn’t take many vacations without her. If I was near, she was near. Even now, ten months after her passing I have this sense that she is not far. How could she be?sascha

I had her from a puppy. She came on an airplane from Massachusetts, such an amazing extravagance. She looked bedraggled, besieged, and perhaps a tad disappointed,  covered in vomit and poo and urine. She looked a bit like she
would never be happy again.

The first night she wailed and carried on. The second night too. In fact, for many nights. She hated the crate initially, although it soon became her place of comfort.

She was just three months the first time we went to Sandbridge. We rented an SUV and put the crate in and put her in the crate. Oh, it was the most horrible experience. She barked frantically until I took her out and she settled down or, more truthfully, settled into a place where she could see and rule the world.

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When we let her loose on the beach, she ran. She loved it. She barked at the ocean as if she could make it quiet. She chased the seagulls into flight. She weaved herself into the waves and jumped and licked, her brown eyes fervently bright, her tail a metronome on caffeine.

For fourteen years we lived those summers over and over and then age took over and disease and neither of our wills could persevere.

The last visit she sat on the sand and looked out at the ocean. I think she would have loved to ride the waves again, bark at the roar. She was over sixteen, battling kidney failure and neurological deficits.

sascha at beach

There are many things in life that are hard, I mean, really hard. It’s making true life and death decisions. Creating a will. Burying your parents. Letting go of institutions that have kept you grounded. Recognizing you must let go of dreams of children or such things that others take for granted. Losing the dog that you held as a puppy and house trained and obedience trained and who obedience trained you and taught you how to love with a completely open heart. Yes, she was your surrogate daughter, all fifty some pounds that you nearly lost a decade earlier to some parasite. She who was there to jostle your elbow with her cold nose to remind you time and time again that you were never alone, that she was there. She who barked at you, razzed you because, just because, you did something that she didn’t think was quite so. So much love you had for her. I had for her. My shadow, Cha.

I wish I believed in heaven and rainbow bridge and that someday I would see my girl’s face, her joyful eyes and her lamb-like skip. I have a video, which I watch, and which reminds me that she, the life force to contend with all life forces, has somehow passed beyond me and I am left with hope and longing.

On our last drive to Sandbridge, she couldn’t quite get comfortable, although the vet assured me that this disease left her in no pain. It had been her way to snuggle herself between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and lie down, but she could no longer manipulate her body. Her wails were like her puppy wails and we had come full-circle, but this time there would be no running on the beach. We were visiting for the last time and we all knew it.

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I have no profound thoughts to end this. I had a beautiful shadow, an English Shepherd who taught me much about living and loving and being loved, who was a boss in a dog suit, who I gave my heart to, and who I cry for on rainy days and sunny days and who will stay with me even when I am old and gray and can no longer cavort in the ocean but must sit in the sand as she once did and maybe in some realm she will be there with me and we will watch the breaking waves turn white and undulate and I will feel the warmth and think it is the sun, but it will be her shaggy-coated self leaning into me.

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