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November 3. 2017

Reflections

Yes, it’s been awhile. Too long of a while, but here I am, with my paws back on the keyboard, pounding out another round of Rubinations.

I could spend this time telling you about all that has transpired since the last time I wrote, but everyone keeps telling me that dogs live in the now, which means, I suppose, that I shouldn’t dwell on the past. So I won’t, except to say that I lost two of my best friends since I last visited this page and those losses gutted me.

If you want to see how important these two fellas were to me, I invite you to watch their musical slideshows (if you haven’t already).

First loss was of my dearest friend, Monty…click here

And the second loss was of my first and dearest brother, Dezi…click here

Each loss was devastating for all of us. Monty, because he was my first true friend who taught me so much about life that I will forever be indebted to him. And Dezi, because he was my first true brother who was as patient with me as he was kind.

Perhaps their losses are what staggered me, are what kept me from writing, but I think it was more a combination of my life spinning in several different directions in addition to their crossing the Rainbow Bridge.

We’ve been busy in ways that are too numerous to count. There’s Oscar, my newest brother, who has now been with us for over a year. I have had to switch from being the youngest in the crowd to now being the oldest and let me tell you, being an older brother is a whole lot more work than being the younger one.

Gretchen’s work has meant more time away, though we have had many wonderful adventures and gone on a million different outings so I can’t complain. Still, there are times when I miss my dog walking days — days where I’d spend hours with new doggie friends, showing them all the trails and neighborhoods to explore. But I’ve even had a chance to do that as we’ve helped out Eileen of Paws With Wonder on occasion.

 

 

And there have been family visits as well — trips to Oregon to visit Uncle Paul and Aunt Patti, trips to Grandma’s house, and even a trip to the Oregon Coast with just our own little family.

And it was there, at the ocean, where I started thinking a lot about my life and beyond life, as I like to call it. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older — I’ll be 11 years old in February– or maybe it’s because I have said goodbye to some very important members of my family recently — dogs and human. Whatever the reason, I have been in deep contemplation of late and I think all of that has kept me from writing.

But alas, here I am again — paws clicking away at the keyboard and my thoughts racing ahead of me.

While on vacation at the coast, I enjoyed the beauty, but I also enjoyed the time to just be. No real responsibilities except to eat, sleep, walk, rest, explore. 

There are waves — each one coming then going — pounding the shore or, on quieter days, rolling gently up the stretches of sand like fog. And there is sky — endless and in a state of constant transformation, white clouds then blue pockets then the grayness of fog or the green-grey of rain. And there is air — fresh and clean and salty — so much air that my lungs can’t resist expanding and opening way beyond their day-to-day capacity.

But there is something else as well. Scientists say that bodies of water, like the ocean, have more negative ions, which apparently is good for you. In fact, negative ions have healing properties, none of which I can begin to explain, but I can certainly feel them.

But I think there’s something bigger than science or maybe it’s just science I don’t understand. When I stand at the edge of the ocean, with my sensitive nose in the wind, I feel something ancient. Something so profound and large that it almost feels mystical.

Needless to say, it made me realize that my role in this family has changed. No longer a dog dog walker, I am, in essence, retired and I’m learning every day how to embrace that retired-ness. Gretchen’s still working, Momma Ann too and I do my best to assist them every day. While on vacation, Gretchen and I discussed shifting this blog to something more useful and less contemplative, so in the coming weeks, watch for more blog posts, but posts more attuned with the work Gretchen does now — massage, acupressure, cranial/sacral, and swim therapies — and less about me. Yes, I’ll make a guest appearance now and then, but for now, our work is less about adventures and more about healing.

Looking forward to the changes…I hope you are too!

Onward,

Rubin

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July 22, 2016

Brother Druthers

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Recently, Gretchen took Dezi and me to visit with Rachel Millikan of Beyond Barking. This almost caused a rift in my parent’s marriage because Rachel is an animal communicator. For some of you, this probably feels like the hokiest thing she could have done, but I’m here to tell you, it was wonderful to FINALLY be heard. I could spend this entire blog sharing with all what we learned from each other (Gretchen, Dezi, and me), but I would rather focus on the events that folded AFTER the communication session.

Let me just say this though: Rachel was fantastic so if you are so inclined, give her a call. It’s really helped our family tremendously.

But back to what I really want to tell you…

IMG_4204…we have adopted another dog. Yep, the dog Blue that I wrote about during the last blog, the dog who lived on the streets and Costa Rica and was brought home by my beloved sister-in-law, Patti, is now living with us.

Permanently.

Like forever.

Like for always.

Clearly, I have mixed feelings about all of this. In our communication session I think I made it pretty darn clear that I have, as Rachel called it, a large energetic bubble. I am very particular about who gets to be in my space. When Dezi came to live with us, he had to learn about my proximity issues, but because I already knew him, it wasn’t too hard to establish my comfort zone with him.IMG_4135

True, as he’s grown older and more unstable, he occasionally stumbles into my zone, but I have learned to be patient with him because he is, after all, my “older” brother.

I also have issues with sharing. Not just food or treats or toys, but pretty much everything — my time, my moms, their affections, my place on the bed, hell my place in the whole damn house. Dezi knows all this and he still loves me. He is very careful not to tread into my space or ask to “share” anything that I deem is mine, which I’ve made clear, is pretty much everything. Dezi is respectful and is not too bent out of shape when I claim what I feel is mine, perhaps nudging him out of his desire to have it too.

IMG_4115Still, when we met with Rachel, I was pretty certain that Dezi living with us was a one time addition to our family. There would be no other brothers for me to contend with.

Boy was I wrong.

This is all made pretty unbearable because the new addition, who they have named Oscar, was, in a sense, a “gift” from my favorite Aunt Patti. I adore Aunt Patti and whenever we visit her, I show my affections for my favoritism by sidling up to her and giving her my most loving sweet eyes so she will give me the undying attention I so deserve.

So for Patti to betray me in this way, to come home from her vacation in Costa Rica with a street dogIMG_4193 in tow, is a bit of a slap in my devoted-to-Patti face.

Oh sure…I’ve heard it all: Oscar is Dezi’s doppleganger; this is a sign from Dezi; Oscar needs a loving and caring home; Patti trusts us the most; he’ll get the best food, exercise, and medical care in our house; yada yada yada. And then it was even more painful when I was misled under the pretense that he would live with us “temporarily,” as a “foster dog” until we could find him a proper home. You know what? That dog wasn’t with us for more than 6 hours before he was all the sudden “our” dog, a member of the family, and an additional “brother” for me!

When this was all going down, I did my best to rally the troops and get Dezi to put his foot down along with mine, but wouldn’t you know it, Dezi fell in love with the little guy. I didn’t have a chance.

IMG_4190Yes, Oscar is cute. Yes, he is affectionate. And yes, he knows how to play to his strengths. Even though he only spoke Spanish, he knew exactly how to woo my moms and Dezi and anyone else who came in contact with him.

I think they should have named him Romeo. Or perhaps Casanova.

Cheeky little thing!

So now I have two brothers when all I ever wanted in life was to be the one dog in a one dog family.

Okay, so I’m not as cold hearted as I sound. I do love Dezi. If I had to choose a brother, it would be Dezi (or Monty). He is the perfect gentleman. He fits his nickname (David Niven) perfectly. He has blended into our family perfectly. And he is perfectly loved by all of us.IMG_4220

But to bring another brother along without so much as a “Hey Rubin, what do you think?” is a bit of an insult. Don’t ya think?

I think my moms know this because they have done a whole lot of stuff to make certain I am not “put out” as they like to say. They take me on separate walks so I can have alone time with them; they put up a gate so I can have my own separate eating space; they made sure my place on the bed was still available and my place in the car was clearly delineated.

And, to be honest, Oscar has been pretty respectful of all the imposed boundaries. Yes, he still wants to play with me — licks my cheek every morning — and he shadows me everywhere, as if to get on my good side by flattering me and emulating me. If I give a full body shake, he does the same. If I bark at a squirrel, he IMG_4097
barks too. If I lie down in the kitchen, he lies as close as he can get without disturbing me.

Everyone says Oscar is a mini-me of Dezi, but I think Oscar thinks he should be my mini-me.

Oy!

Part of the problem is that I can’t play with Oscar yet. Playing is the way I best learn to accept other dogs. If they chase me or wrestle me, then I know they are ok, but Oscar hasn’t been able to do that yet.

You see Oscar came to us with some major health concerns. He had tick disease to start with or IMG_4135something called ehrlichiosis. The isn’t as serious as Lyme Disease, but it’s still serious. Luckily, it’s treatable but the medication has side effects and so Oscar didn’t feel 100% for the first month of his homecoming.

And he has heart worm. This is serious, but again, treatable through some pretty powerful medications. He is on those for quite some time and this is the main reason we are not allowed to play and romp together. Briefly, the goal of the medication is to help the heart worm die off slowly. It breaks the worms a part into tiny little pieces so they can be absorbed into the body without causing damage. If they die off too quickly or break about in larger pieces, they can cause a stroke and one way that they die off too quickly is if Oscar’s heart races. Hence, we are limited to long walks and no playing chase.

I am sad about this because one of the best ways I know how to make friends is to let them chase me. And let me tell you, this little guy wants to do exactly IMG_4125that! I have to admit that I have been known to taunt him from time to time, but my moms break up any attempt on our parts to play pretty quickly. Oscar keeps trying though. For instance, after a long walk Gretchen let him off the leash when we got into the house. He proceeded to race up and down the hallway with an absolute look of glee on his face. I, of course, jumped in because who doesn’t like a gleeful race up and down the hallway?

So I’m hoping, once the meds are finished (October at the earliest, December at the latest) our playing can commence and our friendship can truly begin.

In the meantime, I am doing my best to accept my new brother.IMG_4167

Dezi, I must say, has tried his best to talk me through it. “I don’t want you to be alone,” he tells me. “You need someone younger in your life to keep you on your toes!” I know he’s just saying this partly because he is so in love with Oscar, but partly because I know how much he loves me.

I’ll be honest. It’s gonna be hard when Dezi crosses the Rainbow Bridge. I have grown to love this wise old man. Rachel, the animal communicator, called him a light and I think that’s a perfect description of him. He has brought light into our lives and I am going to miss his sage counsel and steadfast friendship.

IMG_4207But I don’t want to think about that yet. I need Dezi to be with me now as we transition Oscar completely into the fold. Dezi has been holding his own of late, but every day, I can tell there’s a little less life in him, a little less spark. He sleeps a lot and only rallies when he knows a meal is served. He goes on walks with us, but they are much shorter and much slower these days and that twinkle in his eyes is fading, growing more dull as the weeks pass.

I have grown to love Dezi like a brother and he tells me that, in time, I will grow to love Oscar the same way. I think he may be right, but I’m not sure I’m ready to admit it yet. And I think that’s only fair since I’m a dog who never wanted one brother let alone two.

Sigh.

Perhaps this is my lot in life — to face the things I never thought I’d enjoy and find out that I really enjoy them. Well, at least I know who to thank — Dezi. He has been the light who has shown me the way and for that I will always be grateful.

For now, though, I must breathe deeply and realize that Oscar is here to stay. Gretchen tells me that IMG_4224it’s my job to teach the little guy how to be a dog in the United States. She tells me that he has lived his life on the streets and many of his behaviors — barking at other dogs, for instance — was his way of surviving. I need to show him that other dogs can be his friend, that drinking water out of a bowl won’t harm him, that we pee outside the house (which he’s pretty good at), and that when we say “forever” we mean forever. Gretchen tells me that this is an opportunity for me to be the wise, older brother like Dezi was for me.

It’s not a role I’m completely comfortable with, but she says, given enough time and if I’m super patient, I will come to love Oscar as much as I’ve loved Dezi. Hard to believe, but I have to admit, she hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

We’ll see. Stay tuned for more Oscar and Dezi updates and when you have a moment, send me some courage, okay?

Thanks,

Rubin

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