Good dog

So gentle and kind.
That heart warms my soul.

Her days weren’t all easy.
A few took their toll.

Yet strong my girl is.
Though she cannot walk.

She still speaks of peace.
As her eyes still can talk.

Then she kisses my hands.
To prove up her love.

While I whisper “good dog.”
Until called up above.

Blessed by an angel

Sometimes an angel comes into your life.

If she visits a second time, I call it a blessing.

I’d adopted a scared little senior chi named Greta about seven years ago. For the first few months, Greta was terrified of me and most everyone else she encountered. My vet even had to muzzle Greta for her visits as Greta’s great fear sometimes transfered to a display of aggression when frightened.

Yet Greta’s heart would melt whenever she heard the voice of a special lady named Patty each time I had to board her.

In fact, Greta would take off in a run and leap up into her arms as soon as Patty entered the room. I began to think of Patty as a ‘chi whisperer.’

Eventually Greta did mellow and we had six wonderful years together before she passed away last year.

I had been thinking that someday I would adopt a senior dog again. Perhaps another chihuahua to keep my young chi-terrier Rex company.

Occasionally I’d research available senior chihuahuas online and had stopped by to meet a couple of them at local shelters. They were all sweet pups, but I was looking for just the right personality to mesh with my household.

I thought I would wait until spring until one rainy Friday night I spotted a special little girl on a local rescue group’s website.

In fact, she was VERY little.

Junie B. Jones’s bio said she was two pounds and a little over six years of age. Must be a error, I thought. I figured the numbers had been transposed and the little girl in the picture was actually 6 pounds in weight and two years old.

Still curious, I decided to drive over to the shelter just to take a look before they closed.

I found Junie B. resting over in a crate by the puppies.

And she sure was tiny.

Weighing in at just 2.9 pounds, Junie B. wasn’t looking too happy and wasn’t eating. Found as a stray in a big city alley, she’d just started meds for kennel cough that morning and was also recovering from several tooth extractions.

Yet I sensed a special sparkle beneath that sad expression as I held her shaking little body for a while.

I decided to put her on hold with a adoption specialist as it was near closing time. I needed to mull this adoption decision through overnight I thought.

I admit I was trying to talk myself out of an adopting later that evening. Junie B. was a little younger and definitely smaller than I was looking for, and with the way she was feeling I couldn’t really be sure of her temperament.

Yet there was that look of love Junie B. had given me as I held her. With much effort she had slowly raised her tiny head up as if to say, “Can you take me home?”

The following afternoon I returned to the shelter to check back on Junie B.

Still unsure of my final decision while walking into the building, I made my way back over by to the puppies where I found Junie B. still resting. She lifted her head again and looked at me straight in the eye.

It seemed as if she was smiling and had recognized me.

Or was I just imagining it, I wondered?

The two of us soon entered a small room to get reacquainted. A shelter volunteer stopped by to answer any additional medical questions I had. Then we both gave Junie B. treats that she happily accepted.

Afterwards, I waited on the busy adoption floor to speak to the next available adoption specialist. I soon found myself becoming a protective mother hen of Junie B. She was attracting a lot of attention from visiting children in the puppy area who were amazed at Junie B.’s tiny size, yet mature age.

I just wanted her to get some more sleep.

Suddenly I saw two female employees cut through the crowd to approach Junie B. The pair looked concerned. One of them opened her crate. A little nervous, I walked on over to see what was happening.

They appeared to be vet technicians checking in on Junie B., and they were trying to figure out why she still wasn’t eating.

“Oh, but she is,” I said as the taller of the two turned my direction. ”Junie B. was just enjoying some treats.”

I immediately recognized the pleasant face before me and remembered the distinctive voice.

It was Patty, the same woman who had cared so lovingly for my first chihuahua Greta at the boarding facility across town, and had now done the same for little Junie B.

Just as I started to reintroduce myself, we were joined by the adoption specialist. Soon all of us were smiling, and more than my eyes were moist as I told Patty how Greta had passed on and that I had put a hold in place on Junie B.

We all knew then and there that the sweet girl before us was going home with very lucky me.

As my new pup and I left, I was thinking what a gift it was that Greta received such great care years ago by one angel of a vet tech.

And I smiled, knowing how blessed I am today that Junie B. received such loving care by that very same vet tech.

Perhaps it’s even a miracle.

A little heartbeat

image

“My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.” – Edith Wharton

A friend asked me when I adopted Rex back in December why this little guy is so special to me.

I think I may have found my answer in the quote above while reading on my porch love seat this morning.

Living with intention has never been one of my strengths, though I’m working on it.

However for Rex, it surely is.

The day I first met Rex I’d only stopped by the shelter to pick up a few pet supplies.

Rex however had other ideas and trotted that 6 pound body over to me to offer his assistance.

He seemed to sense I needed to get my empty heart beating again after some losses in my life.

He seemed to know I needed a younger, active pup to get me exercising for my health.

And Rex has now learned that sometimes in the early morning hours, all I need is to hear is that little heartbeat at my feet.

He’s one very smart boy.

And I’m one very lucky girl.

 

Dignity, with a dose of joy

Grief is a funny thing.

Or maybe not.

You think you’ve got proper protection then something bites you in the backyard.

Just like a big old mosquito.

I was outside playing with the dogs tonight when I got stung.

There laying on the freshly cut grass before me was my loving corgi Maddie. My girl’s close to 14 now and she was looking lethargic with her head down on the ground.

One of Maddie’s backlegs is lame, and now the second seems to be slowing down as well.

I joined her on my stomach anyway right next to her, and started snapping pictures.

But that usual magical spark was missing in Maddie’s eyes which was bringing me down even lower.

My girl’s expression reminded me of the words my paternal grandmother shared with me in her eighties.  “It’s hell getting old,” Grandma would often say before she passed from Alzheimer’s a few years later.

I stopped and thought for a moment about about those I’ve lost in in my life, particularly in the last 3 or 4 years.

There once was a mother, one husband, and three sweet senior dogs.

Mom, my spouse Richard, and even one of the dogs had dementia. And yet they all managed to keep happy in spite of their illnesses.

Perhaps even happier than my late corgi Mariah and chi-doxie Greta who held on to their cognitive skills till the day each of them passed on.

I began to scratch Maddie’s soft belly for a while to calm her and to calm me.

Suddenly a mourning dove began to croon on the weathered fence post behind us, but it wasn’t a sad song at all.

Then a monarch darted and danced right past Maddie’s black nose demanding her attention before taking off for the barbecue next door.

Soon I saw joy and dignity return to Maddie’s face.

And I felt a growing smile on mine as my camera hooked just the shot I was looking for.

It’s definitely a keeper.

Heartbreaker

I sure wasn’t planning on adding a new dog to the household last month.

But I wasn’t planning on losing one either.

Or for that matter, the second one I lost earlier in the summer.

I choose to believe Grandma Greta, my chi-doxie diva, and Mariah, a sweetheart of a corgi, are calm and comfortable this day.

Such sweet seniors they were.

I envision them now young again, playing in fields of green grass and pink wildflowers.

Still I was growing more restless after Greta passed seeing another empty dog bowl.

And another empty bed.

I’m also aware that my lame senior corgi Maggie is now 13.

And my aging Yorkie Tucker, age 9, would never do well as an only dog.

So I thought I would start my research, study up some. Maybe even look at a few dogs.

Just to get an idea or two.

I became enamored with the idea of taking on a big black senior dog with one of those sweet gray muzzles.

I knew they were having trouble finding homes in my town.

Yet I also knew it wasn’t realistic for me. I need to be able to lift a dog myself if necessary. I’m having back issues now lifting my 25 pound corgi Maddie to take her outside or to see the vet.

So I went on line to look at pet adoption websites.

Another black senior chi doxie mix showed up, just like the one I’d just lost.

Amazingly, her name was also Greta. Yet I knew there could never be another Grandma Greta in my heart.

And this one was living close to the Canadian border.

Much farther away than I could ever safely travel in January.

So I continued my research on my lunch hour at the local shelter.

I was charmed by the first dog I saw.

He was a gentle, senior beagle mix. At 12 years old, I wondered if he’d ever find a home.

But he did.

And only an hour after I’d driven back to work.

My research continued the following week when I drove back to the shelter.

This time I met a sweet and stout spaniel, age 9.

Sally, I believe was her name.

I knew Sally was beyond a weight I could manage, but oh the way she looked up at me.

What a beautiful soul.

Did she need me, I wondered?

But I was distracted suddenly by the dog in the next cage.

He was a tiny thing, and a little funny looking with his long spindly legs and hair that spiked up.

But he was kind of a handsome man, too.

His card said he was very shy, and that he’d participated in a program to help him overcome it.

This dog must be the type that cowers in the corner I was thinking.

And as a result, often passed up for adoption.

Yet this happy guy appeared to have graduated with honors.

He marched right up to me to introduce himself when I read his name out loud.

He then met my eyes and and kept the eye contact going as I spoke to him.

I heard the dog had been transported from the south with a group of other chihuahuas.

Former puppy mill pooches, I wondered?

Yet this one before me was only half chihuahua, with the rest of his pedigree still a mystery.

No matter.

His personality wasn’t a mystery at all.

And the little fellow knew exactly what he wanted.

He wanted me!

As I walked out of the shelter with my new buddy, we both stopped to greet the stout senior spaniel.

She, too, was leaving with her new adoptive parents. And she looked up at me again, beaming.

“Hey boy,” I said. “Doesn’t she look happy?”

Then looking back at my own handsome man, I added, “And so are we!”

Christmas story

It was five years ago this week when I drove through a snowstorm to meet Grandma Greta, a soon to be 11 year old chi-doxie mix.

She was signed up for a holiday event with the local rescue group.

I’d noticed her image on the masthead for the group’s website. Those jet black airplane ears taking half of the width of the page definitely caught my attention.

I was about to retire from short term fostering at the time.

My husband Richard’s rapidly declining memory loss had made conducting home visits and attending meet and greets with foster dogs unrealistic.

I’d been thinking instead about becoming a permanent foster of a hard to place black senior dog.

I had no particular interest in 4 pound yippee pocket dogs, but there was something about Greta’s gray muzzle and those big black ears. And also her life story. She’s spent the first 10 years on the road with a trucker who was ill, then a family with young children who terrified her.

After dropping off my husband at his adult day care center, I finally arrived at the busy pet warehouse that chilly Saturday.

I wandered inside, past the line for Santa to the back of the store, where I immediately recognized little Greta.

Instantly, I was smitten. I knew she was going home with me.

Against my better judgement, I decided to bring her over to Santa for a picture. The challenges of my husband’s dementia had been bringing me down and I thought a photo would put me in the holiday spirit.

Greta wasn’t exactly thrilled as I placed her in Santa’s lap. One photo was taken and she jumped on down, slipping and sliding forth on rows of shiny linoleum and underneath ceiling high shelf units.

A store employee and I finally trapped her.

Santa never even got Greta’s list.

But I still bought Greta an extra small snowflake sweater and rawhide, even though I was thinking she probably deserved coal in her stocking.

The first couple of weeks, Greta was very icy towards me. I saw those tiny teeth a few more times than I would have liked.

Yet she seemed to warm up to Richard.

I would place her in his lap each night. Though he no longer spoke more than a few words, Richard would always instinctively stroke her back and Greta would peacefully doze off.

As Greta loved food, I was finally able to bribe my way into her heart as well.

Not long after Greta moved in, it was necessary to transition my husband to a group home. Greta loved it there and would twirl in her 25 cent garage sale tutu for the residents.

And she’d continue to nap in my husband’s lap on visits until he passed away two years ago this Christmas.

Yet afterwards Greta reinvented herself again.

She was now my lap dog.

And she was also my social butterfly. Greta loved to go to dog friendly coffee shops and bookstores. She’d be in her glory on long road trips or even short jaunts to McDonalds. And she was a big fan of pet friendly church services, where she’d always try and steal my communion bread and wine.

Greta also finally found she was no longer afraid of young children in the area, who all believed she was still a puppy at sixteen because of her tiny size

I like to think she was flattered, as she was a little diva after all.

Yesterday, I wrapped up my little diva in her favorite red velveteen blanket from the couch.

And we took a drive in a snowstorm.

This time it was to the vet, as she hadn’t been feeling well.

The vet told me it was time for Greta to move on once again.

Crying some, I agreed. And I let her go.

Afterwards, I bought another red velveteen blanket at the store. And last night, my dogs Tucker, Maddie and I watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV, sitting on Greta’s favorite couch.

I dozed off a bit, and awakened later to the sound of a train whistle from the tracks that run by the depot where my husband’s memorial service was held.

I smiled, thinking Greta was helped up to that holiday train and found her way back to my husband’s lap, wherever he may be.

The thought gave me great comfort, and I slept like a baby.

And Grandma Greta, I hope you are as well.