Posts Tagged ‘Dogs’


May 1, 2019

An interesting series of things happened the other morning that cause me to elevate the mental acuity of my youngest yet again.
Already slightly exasperated because she forgot her book bag, I’m listening to her from the back seat engage in this long ball of yarn treatise on things that disappoint her, things that ran the gamut from shoes to the colors I liked and  how they were different from the colors she liked. Then, out of nowhere, she looks over and sees a dog in the back seat of the vehicle besides us. The first thing she says is, “Oh look, it’s a cute little puppy.”

It really wasn’t a puppy, but it’s a thing that we do and she has picked it up. Doesn’t matter how big or small or old the animal is, they’re still a puppy. Anyway, she looked at him and made that comment And then without missing a beat she said, “well, I hope he’s wearing a seatbelt.”  At the intersection I pull up just so she could see the puppy and we both look over at the same time and before I could say a word, Addison Rose at the top of her lungs yells, “oh my gosh! Hey! Put down your damn phone”  because the driver of the vehicle was on his phone.

First of all, full marks to the kid for being so safety-conscious. Second of all, full marks for using all of her words in that sentence correctly and in context. Now I could tell looking at the dings and bumps on this guy’s Cadillac that he probably wasn’t the best driver, and according to one nice big white scrape on his wheel well he probably tried to hug a wall or a parking pole too close for comfort and the wall was having none of it.

But her sheer Brilliance and understanding of what the guy was doing and recognizing that he wasn’t being safe was a thing to behold.
Luckily for the operator of the Cadillac, Addison’s voice carries. So he heard her and rolled down the window all the way. “Excuse me?” He asked the question more perturbed than indignantly. Before I could say a word Addison Rose said, “put down your phone!” And he looked at me and shook his head as he said, “your kid should mind her own business.”

I couldn’t help myself or stop the words that came out of my mouth as I said, “Maybe that’s why you have a dog instead of a kid, but it’s pretty bad when a five-year-old has more common sense than you. Maybe you should take the bus.” To which Addison said “yeah!”

Well, the fella told me I was number one but he used his middle finger to do so as he rolled up his window. He continued playing with his phone, probably updating his social media status, likely not to reflect that he had just been schooled by a 5 year old. Addison turned her attention to the dog in the back seat and just kept talking to him even though the window was up, just cooing over and over again about the cute  puppy.
So, that’s what life with Addison Rose looks like.  Don’t even get her started on not using your turn signal indicator.
On a more serious note, more serious than all of this, think about your actions and the examples they set as well as how much common sense is going into your decision making process. this isn’t just about driving, it’s about life in general.
Don’t be afraid to exercise common sense And make the right choices.  There’s nothing wrong with being a good example, just like there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
If a five-year-old can figure that out some of the time, then we’re simply making the  process too difficult for ourselves.


Life With Epiphanies

July 14, 2018

While the title suggest time spent with a Greek philosopher, it truly is about that elusive boon: the Epiphany. Epiphanies are an interesting thing. For most of us they typically show up after the event or cycle of action, causing us somehow to adjust our perspective, if we’re paying attention.

Lost a night of sleep this week standing Sentinel over my youngest daughter’s 102.6 fever. Lost another night of sleep when I had to bury our dog at 3:30 in the morning, digging a hole to lay to rest the body of a creature we loved unconditionally. His passing has cast a dark Pall over the household, and a grieving aching sadness I couldn’t have possibly imagined. If those two things in a seven day period are not enough, my full-time employment came to an end.

That is a busy f****** week I don’t wish on my enemies.

I’ve learned a lot and had several epiphanies during my full-time gig.

I learned if you are not creating happiness at home and with those you love, it means little that you’re creating happiness anywhere else.

I learned I am not good at hiding my frustration. I learned I am pretty good at stepping on toes, sometimes upsetting people and bruising egos.

I learned I’m a failure when it comes to putting up with BS.

I learned it is not only important, it is necessary to have people in your corner.

I also learned I am still as passionate an advocate as I have ever been for the operation, the right people, and the right reasons. While I still believe more than ever that one should bloom where planted, do everything in your power to make sure the soil is firm and nutrient-rich, and you are surrounded by others that will help you shine and grow, and not be buried in the weeds.

I learned I loved that dog more than I could possibly have imagined. I discovered how much I missed the click click click of his toenails across the wooden floor. All the things I found annoying, like him jumping up on the couch and trying to nest through the leather, are things I would happily sacrifice just about anything to hear that sound and see the event one more time. He was the most food motivated creature I have ever known in my life, and that’s even considering me, who likes a good Buffet. Whenever anything dropped on the floor, which was a regular occurrence, all someone would have to say was “Uh oh Bucks,” and wherever he was even if he was in a deep REM-induced sleep, you would hear that tap tap tap of paws and claws as he would come to the kitchen. He often made it unnecessary to keep a broom and dustpan nearby.

Huckleberry didn’t have issues, he had subscriptions. To my account, he bit me four times. There is a permanent laminated sign with each of the dogs in the household. Next to his picture it says, “I look as sweet as an angel but I will bite. No matter what I do, whether I jump on you or wag my tail, don’t fall for it.” He couldn’t help it. Every time you did me, he would cry the most mournful cry, the saddest thing you ever heard come from a dog. It was as if he was being remorseful. He had been severely abused. That’s another conversation all together, but suffice it to say, Dante carved out of special ring for anyone who sees fit to abuse an animal. That is not your place or purpose in the world.

I was irritated and frustrated by all the puddles I had to clean up. I was certain it was my Orange Grove dog, who I’d literally found dying in an Orange Grove. With Huckleberry gone, so to have disappeared the never-ending scattering of those pools of various sizes. Was it possible I had been blaming the wrong dog? Yes it was. As a friend once remarked, “Huckleberry was the sweetest dog I never did pet.” If you did find yourself fortunate to hold and cuddle him, which happened every time there was a harmonic convergence of the planets, you would discover his fur smelled like hay, a pleasant smell indeed.

The vacuum is vast for space that had once been filled by 14 lbs of lovable sausage with legs. To quote Gibran, “Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”

I learned a lot in a week. Above All Else, I reaffirmed my priorities.

I learned there’s no time like the present to show those you love whether they have two legs or four legs how much their presence in your life means to you. I learned that the same mindset holds true when you run a multi-tiered operation. I learned that no matter where you are and what you are doing, partnership makes the difference.

Most importantly, I’m reminded of something my neighbor once said. I once shared with him the crazy hours of my schedule and the fact that sometimes a day or two would go by and I’d only get a glimpse of my family.

He said, “Nobody ever gets to the end of their life and says, ‘I wish I would have worked more’.” That’s a wise man indeed.

I haven’t yet found anything I can’t do, but I’ve discovered a few things I won’t do. Sacrificing time with the people who matter most is one of them.

If you are not taking advantage of the time you have with your friends and family, whether they have two legs or four, you might consider adjusting your priorities.

Remember the parable about the two wolves? This Epiphany is all about feeding the right one, while taking care of both of them.

No matter what you do with it, ultimately your time is your own.

My daughter is better, my dog has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and now it’s more important than ever to look forward.


Harry and the art of living richly

December 10, 2010

I had one of the best neighbors anyone could ever ask for.  His name was Harry.

His passing was the sort of news I hadn’t any preparation for.  It came via phone.  I received a call from my girl and she knew how fond I was of him.

“Harry was put down yesterday.  Lee isn’t ready to talk about it.”

I stared into space.   I had seen him the previous afternoon.  “I went over to say hi to him and had five good minutes of puppy love before Lee came back out.”

“Yes,” she began, “You were one of the last people he knew to see him and give him love.”

I broke down over the phone as the awareness washed over me, an emotional building collapsing on the foundation of my soul.  It overcame me, a torrent of sadness and emotion.

“I have to go,” I whimpered past the lump in my throat as I hung up the phone.   I let my head collapse into my hands as I quietly sobbed.  I was at work and in an office surrounded by colleagues and didn’t want anyone to notice, although I was prepared to lie if asked.  I would have readily blamed the sniffling and tears on allergies.  Plausible in the Florida climate on almost any given day but not likely in the winter when the weather was clear with a temperature in the mid-forties.  I just didn’t want anyone to ask because explaining would have diminished the impact the little guy had on everyone he met and I didn’t want to put anyone in that awkward position of comforting a grown man with wet cheeks, because big boys aren’t supposed to cry.

A bit about Harry.  Harry was a handsome blonde fellow with the most brilliant golden-yellow eyes one had ever seen.  When we moved into the house across the street from him we quickly became friends with his human companions.  They loved and doted on him in a way that only people who understand what it means to have a canine companion almost from birth in one’s life.  He was already fifteen when we first formally met, and there shone such brilliance in those eyes.

I went across the street to bring Lee a big bronze eagle.  It was the sort of Americana piece one hung proudly over the mantle, or kitchen, or even in the garage, over one’s tool crib.  There was a community garage sale coming up and I decided I didn’t want to sell it; I wanted to give it to Lee.  Something told me he’d appreciate it.

That was when I saw Harry.  I knew I heard him barking, a subtle plaintive call for attention from anyone near enough to hear.  When I walked up to the garage the passenger door to Lee’s old Ford with over a quarter – million miles on its odometer was open.  I expected to see Lee hunkered down, working on something inside.

Instead there was Harry.  I placed the bronze art piece down and began scratching his head.  I leaned forward and talked to him, oblivious to anyone else.  And his eyes? They looked out from a frame that had long ago stopped working to support a soul that was still as energetic and vibrant as any puppy turned loose in a field.  But those eyes were lucid, understanding, comprehending eyes.  Harry could no longer run, but you knew, as he slept, in dreams he was out chasing squirrels and rabbits and running because that’s what retrievers do.  I continued to scratch his ears and jowls until Lee came out.

Lee could be one heck of a poker player, because he didn’t give one tell as to what he was up to or the hard decision he was to make.  I gave Lee the piece and said good bye to Harry, sure I’d see him sitting outside later.

Oh, they fussed over him, and he deserved it.  They loved him in a way that makes one realize the world is filled with good people doing good things who never get recognized nor desire the recognition.  What is more sacred than the preservation and protection of life?  In his golden years they saw to it he was cared for, because they did it with love themselves.  Mom would feed him chicken, and dad would pick him up and take him outside to lie in the grass, where he would paw at it, and bark, and drink water, or just relax.  Nothing brought a smile like watching that tail wag vigorously when Harry was moved to a prime piece of real estate in the front yard, high above the road, master of all he commanded.

The first time we’d been invited inside their house we noticed the layout was designed with Harry in mind. There was a mattress on the floor, for Harry. “Some people say I’m cruel,” Lee once said.  “But Harry’s fine.”

Lee didn’t need defending.  Where the dog’s body had begun to fail him, his mind still served him exceedingly well.  It was a quality-of-life issue.  And Harry’s life was all about quality.  He was a quality guy surrounded by quality people.  I agreed.  Harry was fine.  It reminded me of an expression I once heard.  “I hope I can only be the measure of the man my dog thinks I am.”  Lee satisfied that and more.  In a moment that carried the heft of immeasurable weight the words of Pablo Neruda rang with surprising clarity.

Harry would never have had a better, more fulfilling life anywhere else.  And I know he is running around right now, even as I work through the sadness of the passing for a dog that touched my life. I can only imagine how he enriched the lives of Lee and Cami, two people who loved and cared for him with the sort of selflessness not often evident these days.  I was lucky to have met him.  So was anyone else.

Have a good run, Harry.

A Dog Has Died by Pablo Neruda

November 19, 2009

This piece is too beautiful not to share.  My thanks to Mark for the timeliness of its arrival.  We find ourselves in timeless moments of awe when something speaks to our soul and resonates with a voice all its own.  This piece does that.  Let it speak to you and let your spirit soar.


My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair

or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter

of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.

Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer

Ladybug and the art of Rescue and Adoption

November 16, 2009

It’s been a week since my world lost a beautiful little girl.

This may strike some who do not have animals of the four legged variety in their life as a bit much, but most of you will completely understand.  It struck me as I endeavored to let people know, people like her vet, and people who knew her and looked forward to her affections whenever they came to visit.  There was genuine sadness at the vacuum of loss.

I thought about how she had been someone else’s pet, and then someone else’s, and that she had been chipped, and when found, the last owner of record had said they had given her away but didn’t really want her.  Until the evidence proves otherwise, I believe micro chipping is a great resource for both two and four-legged creature.  I am also a believer in rescuing animals.  They cannot help their place in life and how they wound up in that place.  I tell people if they are looking for a specific breed of animal to go to the shelter or contact a rescue.  From the smallest to the largest you’ll find the creature you’re looking for.  I promise.

And a rescued animal knows.  They know they’ve been given a second chance, or third.  And while it sounds a bit sacharrin-tinged, their wants are short list:  They want to Love, they want to be loved, they want to feel safe, and they want it to happen in their forever home.  I have begun the process of looking.  Not as a replacement, but because I know the world is filled with creatures looking for a single chance to prove to a human they are the perfect companion.  The shelters and rescues have them all: puppies, kittens, younger dogs and cats, and older senior animals.   I met several older animals, one seven, one nine, and one 11.  And they’re beautiful.  Everybody wants a puppy or kitten without fully understanding the work involved.  Many people don’t go to shelters and rescues because they either don’t think of it or are working off misinformation on the  conditions of a shelter or facility.  I’m not telling you how to spend your money when it comes to our companions and friends of a furry nature, but you are removing a wide spectrum of options and doing a tremendous disservice to yourself and the animal.  I have met several animals in the past week who have displayed every sort of wonderful temperment from energetic to laid back.  Shelters and rescues benefit from the time donated by volunteers who come in to assist in basic care but also to walk and exercise the animals and to spend time with them training them.  These animals by and large have a tremendous aptitude for learning and for wanting to please.  A wagging tail says it all.  I believe they know what might happen if they don’t find a home.

Ladybug was my little girl, and as a four-legged child she was better behaved in public than a lot of two-legged children.  A close friend of mine asked me if I thought it was too soon to look for another animal; I needed to give myself time to mourn.  Another mentioned that this would give me the opportunity to enjoy my free time.  Time is something we have and share when we’re wise about it.  Time is the sense of knowing we have done something right and can be pleased with the outcome.  Time is the blank slate the Creator has given us to make the world a better place, and leave it better than we found it.  I have of late spent considerable time wondering what I can do to make my world and the world in general a better place.

Ladybug was a rescue.  When she came into my life she was an older rescue.  She had been a stray wandering the streets.  Everything I wrote about her in the last post was absolutely true.  She was sweet with every animal she ever met, even for a short time fostering a small clutch of tiny baby possums, who slept pressed against her stomach as she herself slept curled around them.  Ladybug was gentle in every aspect except eating.  She ate like she was starved, but she liked food.  Who could blame her?

To those concerned, I am going through my period of mourning, I assure you.  The tears still readily come when not called when my mind drifts to her.  I had to toil through the effort of vacuuming the house recently because I found tufts of her hair and as silly as it sounds, I was concerned I was banishing all evidence of her presence.  And in a gesture that might seem certifiable to some, I have set out her water bowl. In case she’s thirsty she’d have something to drink.

I have been touched by those who have read about Ladybug and shared their own heartbreaking stories of loss.  Her memory lives in my mind and her energy lives in my heart.  Saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I had to do in a long time.  As I touched and caressed her and comforted her in her transition I believe it brought some small measure of relief to us all.  And I know that for her to say good bye it was even harder because she wanted to leave the world as she found it: a world filled with Love and affection and hope.  In those moments she was not alone, nor were we.  I cried the whole trip back, alone with my grief.  There is so much I miss about that beautiful little girl.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.


November 7, 2009

I had planned to write another response to USA Today’s recent article once again eviscerating the General Aviation community.  That article will have to wait.

The Unexamined life is not worth living.  This I believe:  this statement not only applies to ourselves, but those around us.

I lost my little girl  Ladybug yesterday.  Lady was a Golden Retriever who had not met a human who didn’t immediately fall for her.  You hear that sort of thing all the time from doting pet parents, but ask anyone who knew Lady and they’ll just silently nod their head.  With us was her mom and our dear friend Vicki.  A comment on Vicki – she is always the calm in a storm that is life and it has to be an exhausting effort to generate the energy she does to care and love her husband, son, and those who are fortunate enough to be covered by her umbrella of warmth and compassion.

When I was told I needed to get to the facility in Maitland if I wanted to see her before she passes I didn’t allow the internal turmoil to interfere with my outwardly stoic appearance at work – or so I thought.  Thing is, people have been aware of things going on in my life for a while, but I do like most.  I keep the walls high enough and thick enough to keep everyone out.

But this last bit of news would force me to rendezvous with my emotions.

I arrived and told the front desk I was there to see Ladybug.  When I walked in to the room she was on the floor, devouring a huge bowl of a delicious looking pasta dish Vicki made especially for her.  Lady was extremely food motivated, and I believe with enough motivation she would recite the Greek alphabet if there was a worthy enough gastronomic prize waiting.

I sat down and began to rub her coat.  Still so soft and luxurious.  She turned to look and see who was touching her and the recognition and joy was unmistakable.  And then she returned to the task of finishing the pound or so of pasta and vegetables.  She managed well despite the enormous mast cell tumor that had grossly disfigured her beautiful lips and face.

Except for bathroom breaks, I spent several hours touching her or rubbing her mane, or massaging her muscles.  She had a mild stroke a couple of years ago and I had taken to doing deep tissue on her joints every morning before I left for work.  It became a ritual for us just as she would come to me to get a good fifteen minute rub under her chin before going to sleep for the night.

Some things non-pet owners should know about our pets:

We love them.  They keep us.  They are moody, and social, and sometimes anti-social, but never complain.  They comfort us because they know when we are down or ill, and they love us in spite of our treatment of them.  Their Love is selfless and sometimes unrequited.  We recognize that having them in our lives is a lifetime commitment.  And all they ask in return is to be kept safe, because they’ll keep us safe, and to be fed, and most importantly, this one thing:

The last time they close their eyes and go to sleep, they want to be able to see us and hear us, and know that we will be there for them, because it is a difficult and uncertain journey to leave such a life behind.

When the doctor came in my heart began to race.  I looked at Ladybug and saw her chest slowly rising and falling as she lay there as relaxed as royalty being attended to.  The doctor explained the process, and a part of me wanted to say, “no, there has to be another option.  There has to be some other treatment we haven’t tried.”  But I knew that we had tried everything, just as they had.  And her body had become too weak even for the chemo.

Afterwards the doctor hugged us both.

“It never gets easier,” she said, with tears in her eyes.  “But we should be as lucky to pass on surrounded in our final moments by those who love us.”

I continued to rub Lady’s mane.  Her eyes were closed, I had facilitated that partially out of fear of not wanting to stare into lifeless eyes, and partly because I wanted to believe she was still gently asleep.

The trip home I cried like I have not cried in years.

Last night my dreams were filled with her.  She was fine and running and happy.

I awoke much earlier than normal and the first thought that filled my head was of every time I had been impatient with her.

She was never impatient with me.

The thought provided a valuable lesson.  We should aspire to become the people our dogs believe us to be.

Ladybug – We Love You.