Wags n Words Healthy Dogs & Happy Tales

October 2, 2014 (Addition)

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There’s a temptation to think the world is against me these days. So many losses so far this year; I’m not sure I can take much more. I feel like every time I decide to write a blog there’s another loss I must talk about with this most current loss one of the most difficult to share.

On June 10, 2014 my dearest Grandpaw passed away. I couldn’t be there with him, but luckily Nori was (a dog who worked at the Hospice facility).

This is a big loss for me because Grandpaw was a very special person in my person world. He loved me from the moment he saw me and every time I visited him, he had something special for me in his pocket. Even when Parkinson’s made it difficult for him to reach into his pocket or even hold the treat, he did it for me and I’d wait at his feet for the blessed snack.DSC00019

Gretchen wrote all about Grandpaw HERE, but this is a human’s perspective and I think it’s only fitting to offer up a dog’s perspective and as his Dogson, I am taking it upon myself to let you know what a huge loss Grandpaw’s passing is not only for the humans in his life, but for the dogs, too.

Grandpaw Bob was born in Wisconsin in a town that sounds a lot like a place I might enjoy — Mill-walkie. He had dogs and goats and geese and chickens who lived with him and when Grandpaw Bob and I talked about his childhood, it was the Irish Setter of his childhood that he remembered most. I’ve never met an Irish Setter, but I do have to English Setter friends, Carter and Kali, and I think they’re pretty special so I imagine that Grandpaw’s Irish Setter was pretty special too.

SONY DSCGrandpaw Bob was a really smart guy. He read all the time and when his eyesight started to fail, it was really really hard on him not to be able to pick up one of his huge books and read it. I wish I had known how to read it to him because I would have, but alas, while I can write and I can understand what’s being said, it’s difficult for me to both hold a book and to read the words out loud to someone else.

But Grandpaw Bob understood that. Instead of reading, we’d talk and all the while he’d scratch my chin or stroke my head and I liked that very very much.

Well, until a squirrel raced by outside or their neighbor’s cat showed up on the doorstep. When that happened I got a wee bit distracted.

Still, Grandpaw Bob understood that barking at critters is what a dog was supposed to do and so he’d tolerate it pretty well. Of course, if I barked at my own reflection in the sliding glass door, he’d laugh, but most of the time, he’d understand my need to be the protector of the household.

Grandpaw Bob and I liked to watch TV together. At times we’d watch the Dog Shows that were on the TV especially around holidays. We’d each pick our winner and see how our choices stacked up against those the judges (in their funny, fancy outfits) picked. If there was an Irish Setter in the show, Grandpaw Bob always chose that one to win even if he knew that the Rottweiler or the Poodle or even the funny looking Affenpinscher looked better. He had a soft spot of those Setters.SONY DSC

He also had a soft spot for me. Whenever we’d call to talk with him, he always asked how I was doing. He read this blog too and offered up sage advice if he thought I was having a problem.

When we visited my Grandparents, I’d always sit next to  Grandpaw Bob either by his favorite chair or under the dining room table. He liked that. I liked it too. Sometimes he’d even drop a piece of food for me or reach in his pocket and give me another treat when no one else was looking.

Grandpaw Bob loved to garden. It got really hard for him later in life and the last year or so, he really didn’t garden at all, but he’d push his walker outside while my moms would work planting something or digging up weeds and I always stood next to him while he inspected their work.

The best times (and there were many) were when we drove my grandparents down to Oregon to visit my Uncle Paul. We did this in the summer and then during every Christmas and that car ride down was one of my favorite adventures of my whole entire life. We’d take two cars — Grandma and Momma Ann in one car and Grandpaw and YoungDadGretchen in the other. I usually rode with Grandpaw because he liked that I was really good in the car and had a quiet presence so, if need be, Grandpaw could take a nap on the long ride down. We listened to music, talked politics, and shared snacks all the way to Oregon and Grandpaw would always tell me I was the best dog.

He was the best Grandpaw and I can’t really believe he is no longer with us. After his passing, I got to go visit Grandma to make sure she was doing okay. Grandpaw’s special chair was still in the living room and it was kind of odd seeing it there without Grandpaw in it. I sniffed it and though it still smelled like him, the smell was faint and that made me sad too. To hold onto that smell though, I laid down by his chair — just like I always did — and hoped that his scent would stay with me for just awhile longer.

I know humans see death as an end, but dogs have a different view. Sure, I know I won’t see Grandpaw like I used to — won’t be able to cheer on the Oregon Ducks or scowl at the political shenanigans of the government with him anymore — but Grandpaw is with me in a way that I don’t think humans ever really experience. It’s hard to explain and according to the Dog’s Code of Ethics I’m not supposed to explain it to humans, but let me just say this: I still feel as if I am lying by Grandpaw’s feet and in those moments when I miss him the most, I can still feel his gentle scratches on my chin and the soft pat on my head and yes, I can even taste the treat he hands me from his pocket.

I will miss you Grandpaw, but I feel very blessed to have known you, been loved by you, and to have been your faithful, funny Granddog for these past seven years.

Much love,

Rubin

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October 1, 2014

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Where to Begin…

I thought 2013 was a rough year, but little did I know it was merely a warm up for 2014.

Yes, I have a million and one excuses as to why this blog has sat idle for months and months, but to sort through and explain all those reasons means I have to relive all of it and frankly, I’m not up to that IMG_6880today.

Today I want to begin on a fresh page. I want to forget (for a moment) that I’ve lost some important people in my life and some equally important canine pals. I want to forget that I’ve spent more time waiting for the next shoe to drop than I have doing the things I love…like swimming or hiking or cuddling or playing chase in a big open field. I want to forget the hospitals, the illnesses, the passings, the tragic endings, the dramatic changes in my life…all of it. I want to put it behind me and look at today as a whole new dance, a fresh plate of food, a crisp breeze of happiness.

That’s why I’ve posted that spectacular photo of Alaska to start this post. No, I didn’t get to go on this trip, but I know that when my moms were hiking across that scree, looking out at the expanse of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain Range, and reflecting back on this difficult year, they held me in their hearts.

IMG_20140524_095614_853Of course, I don’t really want to forget because all those people, all those dogs, and yes, all those sad events (and the happy ones too) make me the dog I am. I am the dog who comforts those who spend the night in our guest room because they need not only a place to stay, but a place where they can feel loved. I am the dog who moves over to make way for another dog in our lives. I am the dog who visits my human family and remembers the gentle man by whose feet I laid for most of my life. I am the dog who travels well, who loves to make people laugh (even when they are sad), who is calm when needed and rowdy when it’s necessary. I am the dog who lies under the desk while my moms work too hard and too long and still find time to love me (and my new brother, Dezi) beyond measure.

I am the dog who has 7 1/2 years under his belt and I have no belt. I just have a life and every bump in the road and every glorious peak make this life, my life.

So much has changed in 2014 I don’t know where to begin except to reflect on this past week when things, remarkably, felt a bit more normal.

And for that reflection, it all comes down to the dogs. You’ve seen their pictures here a million times, but if you’re like me, you never get tired of them. Yes, this is where I will begin and hope (paws crossed) that the order of universe falls back in line.

I will begin with Monty — my longest, bestest friend. Monty is my steadfast pal who walks with me, swims with me, begs for snacks with me, smiles with me, and never ever once ruffles my feathers. Sure he used to chase me more in our younger years, but I don’t mind giving that up as long as I can have Monty by my side. (These are two older photos, but I like them very much as they show our playful sides and our serious, moody sides).

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Next, I must mention Dezi — my new/old brother and yes, my new pal. I’ve known Dezi almost as long as I’ve known Monty, but I never thought Dezi would be sharing the same roof (or bed, or back of the car, or moms) with me. I have no regrets. I couldn’t ask for a nicer brother. Okay, I could ask that he be younger (he just turned 13) so I could spend more time with him, but I couldn’t ask for anything else. Yes, I’d gladly give up my spot in the car for him, my cushy place on the human bed for him, and even my coveted corner of the couch just so the last few years of his life can be spent in comfort, security, and love.

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Albert — Little Albert that is. He’s kind of become a younger brother to Dezi’s older brother. What a lively fella and visiting him means we get to explore the Fairgrounds, the park by the water, and the wetlands walk by Grandma’s house. You’ve come a long way in a year, little buddy, and both Dezi and I are proud to call you family!

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And then there’s all the rest…(not in any particular order)…

Maizy and Zizou — what would I do in my life if you weren’t there to smell my privates or jump on jowls?

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Rosie — I doubted your ability to be a normal dog, but you’ve proven me wrong. I kind of like hanging out with you and even though you’re blind in one eye, you are pretty darn good at spotting those crows so we can both bark at them!

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Tyson — Your steady presence in my life (and in Rosie’s) is something I’ve really grown to count on. I like when you can hang out at our house and bark at the people walking by together!

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Chief — I know Gretchen loves swimming you at the pool, but I think walking those slow strolls with you is a pretty sweet way to spend time with you. You make 14 look pretty darn good!

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Bella- You experienced your own loss this year with the passing of your brother, Henri. You two were quite a pair, but with his loss, you’ve settled right into being the top dog. I know, we both still miss that little Henri fellow, but our friendship has been strengthened, I think, by his passing.

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And Bella’s buddy Humphrey, who joins us on occasion. He has many nicknames –Egg Roll, Tater Tot, Dumpling — and he doesn’t mind in the least. He is, as our Scottish friends would say, a wee smasher (translation: a good egg!)

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Sonny — Apple Man! If people only knew what a softy you are…well I know and I can tell you that you’ve given me a whole new way of looking at “street food!”

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Joey — Oh my…was I really that wild and bouncy when I was his age? I think not…but still, it’s good to know that when I need a laugh, you’ll be there Joey to warp yourself up in the leashes or stumble down the stairs with excitement.

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Finn — Finn is, in his own way, a lot like Joey — bouncy, silly, energetic. But Finn has a cuddling side that is, in one word, hysterical. He loves to plop himself on top of the humans and then act like it was all an accident. Just like Joey, he makes me laugh and the way this year has gone, laughing is good!

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Theo — Little Miss Bossy Pants –I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little bit in love with Theo. She has a way about her that just wiggles its way under my skin. Seeing Theo once a week is okay, but when she gets to stay overnight, well, that’s divine.

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Kali and Carter — Our relationship has changed — I don’t see you as much anymore — but your Yin and Yang antics provide me with the balance I need in life!

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Mabel – My only regret with you is that I don’t get to see you as much as I’d like, but when I do, well, I make the most of it. So do you!! Wiggle wiggle wiggle and drool to you, sweet Mabel!mabelMabel in the sun

Lulu — Auntie Lulu, that is. I love it when you walk by our house, stop at the gate, and whine for me to come out and play. So glad you get to hang out with us overnight sometimes! You make me feel safe!

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Roux — We don’t see Roux as much anymore, but when we do, it’s party time! That’s what friendship is all about don’t ya know…even if we can’t always have you on our schedule regularly, we are really good at making up for lost time.

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Buhner — the newest member of our pack! I was tentative at first. You’re  big dude and sometimes I don’t do well meeting new (big) dudes. But you’ve shown yourself to be a perfect gentleman. And because you live in a new neighborhood, I’ve really appreciated you showing me around the Washington Park Arboretum and the surrounding neighborhood.

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There are others that Gretchen sees — the swimmers and the massage and acupressure clients — and I know she adores each and everyone of them, but I feel super lucky to have the pack I do — canines and humans.

Blessings are sometimes wrapped in misfortune…this is what I’ve learned so far in 2014. My heart is sad at times with all those humans I miss — Grandpa, Ann L., and Michael — and with all the dogs who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge — Quillette, Henri, Griffey, Nippy and all those who Gretchen has worked with! — but knowing them has brightened my life in ways I can never measure or truly explain.

I am loved. Bottom line. I am loved.

 

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