Wags n Words Healthy Dogs & Happy Tales

December 27, 2014

The Empty ChairEmptyChair

It’s about that time when I’m supposed to review the year. You know, go over all that has happened with me and our business in 2014. But if you’ve been reading my posts (scarce as they may be), you’d realize that 2014 has been one helluva rough year.

I was reminded of this again last night by an empty chair.

For the holidays we’ve done what we always do. We’ve travelled to my Uncle Paul’s house to celebrate Christmas (and a couple of birthdays too). I love going to Uncle Paul’s. We go on long walks in the woodlands, we play in his HUGE yard, we snuggle by the fireplace, and we eat way too much food (well, the humans do…my food is closely monitored). I not only love my Uncle Paul, but equally I love my brothersAunt Patti and my cousins (human and canine) — Lindsey, Nathan, Ringo, Hope, and the newest addition, Kili (who I like, and on this trip, I’ve learned to love…oy!…that’s another story for another day).

Part of the journey to Uncle Paul’s is a long drive in two different cars. Momma Ann drives ours with me in it and Gretchen drives Grandma and Grandpa’s car with Grandma and Grandpa  in it. They switch drivers halfway just so I don’t think we’ve left anyone behind and off we head barreling down the highway for our vacation.

Only this year, all of that has changed.

First, there’s Dezi, my newly adopted much older brother. He came to us in April, if you recall, after the tragic loss of his own Dad. It’s taken a bit for Dezi to adjust and after some serious stress-related illnesses, he’s definitely a member of the pack and we are definitely glad he is (though sometimes I miss being the complete center of attention).

Now that Dezi’s with us, I share everything with him — my moms, my place on the couch, my place on the bed, everyone’sIMG_20141025_122852_485 affections and my prized spot in the car. I minded at first, but now Dezi and I share everything pretty well though Gretchen says sometimes we are like two kids battling it out in passive ways in the back of the car with Dezi leaning into me to take up more room and me grumbling about how Dezi is pushing me.

But I digress.

Another change is that our dear friend, Ann, passed away and we’ve spent a lot of time with her widow, Jan, and their silly dog, Albert.

Jan and Albert lived with us for a long time while Ann was in the hospital and so Albert is, for all purposes, another brother to Dezi and me. We visit Jan and Albert a lot and it’s always a wonderful time, but when I think about why we are so close sometimes, I get sad and wish Ann could see how happy we are together. IMG_20140510_090117_598-1

The next thing that’s changed is that Grandpa is no longer in the car. His passing in June has had a huge impact on this family and though everyone is doing well, I felt his absence more on this trip than I have in the past few months and all because of an empty chair.

There are certain traditions in our family. Grandma makes this killer Chex-mix every holiday and the humans stand around munching away– non-stop — and I often swoop in to clean up their crumbs off the floor. There’s the tradition of a turkey made in the smoker that sends my taste buds into a tizzy every time I smell it. There’s the tradition of gloriously prepared meals spread out on a beautiful table under, which, I spend most of my meal time.

SONY DSCEveryone has their place at this table and since I’m under it, I know everyone by their feet. Uncle Paul is at one head and Auntie Patti at the other. My moms usually sit together and across from them sit my Grandma and Grandpa. My cousins, when they make it for a meal, squeeze in between us and I can sleep peacefully because I know everyone is where they should be and I am where I should be as well.

But this year, for our first meal at the table, not only did I have to share my place under the table with Dezi, I noticed the one empty chair.

This is when I was overwhelmed with sadness. Sure, I knew Grandpa wasn’t with us the whole trip down, but all of the sudden, with one less person at the table, the weight of his absence was manifest and its significance this holiday season brought tears to my eyes.

And all because of an empty chair.4studs

I realize I’m not the only dog in the world celebrating the holidays with joy and grief, but this is the first time I’ve had such an experience and let me tell you, it’s a challenging feeling. I love being at my Uncle’s and Aunt’s house. I love sharing it with my new brother, Dezi. I love journey and the destination; and the meals and the laughter and the desserts and the moments with my family laughing and catching up on stories of the year gone by.

And I really love the long walks around the “loop” chasing squirrels, chasing my cousins, having my cousins chase me, and sharing the beauty of the season with my entire family — two and four footers.

But now the love I have for this vacation has an empty spot in it…marked by that empty chair…and my love of this trip is tempered slightly by a hole in my heart.

Here’s hoping 2015 is more gain than loss; more friends than foes; more love than sadness.

Rubin

 

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November 25, 2014

Gratitude = Attitude with a Grrrrrr…

Recently someone used the word “gratitude” in reference to me. I don’t remember the context, but for some reason the wordbadasses stuck in my head. Maybe it stuck in my head because, while I’ve heard the word, I’ve never heard my name and “gratitude” in the same sentence. Or perhaps it’s because, when I heard it, I heard the “grrrrrr” as separate from the “attitude” and I was stumped as to the meaning.

Then I looked it up: Gratitude: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

brothersOkay, I am thankful for many things and I do often express it in my blogs. For instance, I’m thankful for my job (dog walking); I’m thankful for my friends (always growing in number); and thankful for my family. But somehow, gratitude feels like a much bigger word than thankful and while I can see thankful as a quality I exhibit, gratitude feels far more out of my league.IMG_20141118_093058_454

And yes, I show appreciation, but I have to admit that I tend to be kind of persnickety about who I show my appreciation to. Full confession: I can be quite a grouch if given half the chance.

IMG_20141120_093848_226Sure, I look like a cuddly stuffed animal and everyone (dogs included) want to squeeze me and sniff me and get all mushy with me, but that’s not the kind of fellaIMG_20141118_082914_482 that I am. I’m a grrrrr fella and that can sometimes get me in trouble.

Take, for instance, the sharing of the backseat of the car. If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I have a new older brother (kind of an oxymoron — new older IMG_20141105_091536_536– but he’s new to our family and older than me, so you get the picture). Because of his age — 13 — he is afforded some “comforts” and “privileges” that I am not. Yes, we both get to lie on the couch though Dezi gets the prime corner and first pick and yes, we both get to sleep on the human bed though I am forced to move to my dog bed when the lights go out. True, my dog bed is luxurious by any standards, but it’s not the human bed and it’s not, dare I say, equal to the spot Dezi gets to sleep — right next to my moms…all night long.IMG_20141111_114333_652

And so it is with the backseat of the car. We have a pretty nice set up there — cushy bed, safe sort of hammock to keep us from flying forward in the event of a crash, and prime window spots — but when it’s time to get into the car, Dezi is allowed in first and I am allowed in second. This might not be a problem for anyone else, but Dezi, as he’s grown more comfortable, hogs the backseat. He jumps in and lands right in the IMG_20141024_115937_464middle and instantly, plops down. He will not move. Even when I jump in almost on top of him, he doesn’t move. He holds his spot, stubbornly and weightily.

Sometimes, though the occasions are rare, I am allowed in first and when Dezi jumps in after me, he aims for that middle spot again. This is the hard part to admit, but I growl at him and at times, when I am really annoyed, and snap at him — not to bite him, but just to make a lot of IMG_8831noise to let him know he needs to respect my bubble.

And my bubble is big.

And I make a lot of noise.

A lot.

Oh, and Dezi is pretty much deaf.

Dezi isn’t the only one I snap at. I snap at my best buddy Monty, too whenever we have to share the way-back of the car. Monty HATES riding in the car and so Gretchen puts me back to there to “relax” him. Instead I snap at him every time he tries to get close and because he’s nervous, he always tries to get close.

My bubble is big.IMG_20141120_105338_765

This does not mean that I don’t love Monty or Dezi. I love them ore than life itself, but remember my “gratitude” begins with a grrrrr and I am quicker with the grrrrr than I am with the thankfulness.

Still, it is the season for Thankfulness and Gretchen tells me I must let go of my attitude and shrink my bubble a bit.

But it’s hard. Often the grrrrr escapes before I have a chance to stop it.

Gretchen also tells me that this is the time of year when we’re supposed to reflect on our behavior and decide what we want to change in time for our New Year’s Resolutions.

So I am reflecting.

Begrudgingly.

IMG_20141120_120953_320It’s hard to know if the grrrrrr in my attitude is a problem for me or a problem for others and therefore, do I change it to please others or do I expect them to just lump it.SONY DSC

I’m leaning towards lumping it, but now that I’m older and keep getting water squirted at me (especially in the car) when I let the grrrrr escape, perhaps I need to spend more time reflecting.

How does one shrink their bubble? That’s the big question and I guess before January 1st, I should figure it out.

Or not…

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!! May your gratitude not be filled with any grrrrrrrs.

Rubin

 

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