Monday, December 29, 2008
They prove animals not only inspire love, they also inspire poetry.
Dog is God reversed,
I think, scooping up your mess--
a cruel joke indeed.
Little fuzzy dog
licks my face and snuffs my hair.
Patiently my cat
waits for the sunbeam's return--
ears cocked, tail twitching…..
Where did that cat go.
One more black shoe than normal
gives his game away.
Yellow eyes appear
in the jumble of black shoes.
Time for your bath, cat.
Rustling fall leaves
remind me that you’re still gone--
and I am still here.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Exactly a month later, my sister came home with a picture of a Chow/Lab mix named Bailey...who needed a home, fast. If he couldn't find one, he'd be off to the pound and then who knows what. I was cautious and not into it, but my dad agreed to keeping him for a night or two until he found a real home.
And then Bailey ran in. Literally ran into my home, my room, my heart. He was a ball full of crazy energy, life and happiness. My heart was still reeling from losing Niki, but because Bailey was such a different dog, I didn't feel like it was a replacement for Niki's beloved spot. I gave Bailey a chance for one night, and by the next morning, had told my parents that I wanted to keep Bailey and we were his new home, and I was his owner.
Dogs are known for their loyalty, and Bailey is the epitome of the term. Since the first minute we met, he followed me EVERYWHERE, refusing to leave my side. He slept at the foot of my bed, raced downstairs to reach the bottom before me and was always one step ahead of me. And he was protective, that's for sure. My mom loves to tell the story about how during the first few weeks when we got him, she would go into my room and try to wake me up for school and he'd growl protectively over me, refusing to let my own mother try to wake me!
Eight years later, he's still just as energetic, loving and loyal. It may sound silly, but I feel like I have a very special bond with Bai, even though he may just be a dog. He's my best friend and my loyal companion.
My dad always reminds me of how crazy/bad-dog-Bailey was saved by us, but I know it's much deeper than that. In every way possible, Bailey saved me and showed me the importance of love, all over again.
Thank you, my dear Bailey, for being everything I need at the exact moment I need it. I love you.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Back in 1992 my boys found a gray kitten under a bush, apparently the mamma cat was no where to be found.
This kitten was only a few days old, so I decided to take care of the kitten until it was old enough to give away. I had no intention of keeping the kitten and even refused to name him.
My boys kept bugging me to give him a name, so I started calling him Mr. Kitty and the name stuck, and we ended up keeping him.
He was the best cat ever, he was a very affectionate and loving cat.
Mr. Kitty expected to be fed first thing in the morning when I got up and if I didn't feed him right away, he would bite me in the back of the calf. He would sleep under the covers with me with his head on the pillow.
One day he started to go to the bathroom on the floor instead of the litter box, which was not like him at all so I took him to the vet and found out that he had kidney disease but I wasn't ready to let him go so I brought him home only to return to the vet two days later because when I saw just how much pain he was in I knew that the best thing for him was to end his suffering.
It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make.
He rubbed his face against mine for the last time and looked at me with such love in his eyes right before he took his last breath, I stayed with him and held him in my arms for the longest time wondering if indeed I did make the right decision.
I cried like a baby because I had lost such a precious part of me. Mr. Kitty will always remain in my heart, I keep a picture of him on my nightstand to this day.
He was a part of the family for 12 wonderful years.
West Haven Animal Shelter
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.
I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved.
At least I could save one.
I rescued a human today.
Editor's Note: This was contributed by Bridget Albert. Janine Allen, a trainer with RescueMeDog in California and Wyoming, has granted permission to share her essay.
Friday, December 5, 2008
As it is nearly an official month since this blog was created, it seems as though it is the right time to say the first official 'thank you.'
The thank you goes out to all who have contributed to date to Tesla's Love and to all those who will do so in the future. The assistance that those contributions of beautiful stories has given is immeasurable.
Kiley and I also must thank all those who sent cards and letters as we mourn the loss of Tesla, and while Kiley never saw them, I must also note that the flowers from the dog lovers at Yale-New Haven Hospital really brightened up the office. We also received in the mail a note from Kiley's aunts saying a donation in Tesla's memory had been given to the Humane Society. Tesla would have liked that, as she loved other animals. Kiley's Aunt Gayle also sent a book, which is very touching. My siblings and parents have been a lifeline too.
This blog has been visited by people in 22 nations around the world - according to Google Analytics - and I think that shows the power of the love people everywhere have for pets and all animals. Many people also have joined the Tesla's Love page on Blogger's Network on Facebook and our stories there are consistently voted as popular - a couple of times as most popular.
So, thank you again readers and writers and please keep those stories coming.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Family pets are the latest victim of the economic downturn. As the economy worsens and more families struggle to make ends meet, Connecticut animal shelters are seeing a huge inflow of pets being given up for adoption.
“Shelters and rescue groups are overwhelmed with the large number of dogs and cats released by people who just can’t afford to care for them,” said Jeremy Moran of Best Friends Pet Care, Bethany. “The shelters simply don’t have enough food or supplies for all these newly homeless pets.”
To help address the shortage, Best Friends is collecting donation of food and supplies through its “Angel Tree” program at all four Connecticut locations. Beneficiaries include Connecticut Humane Society of Newington and Westport, Animal Haven of New Haven, Meriden Humane Society, Pet Protectors of Fairfield, Hotwater Rescue, Double Dog Rescue, Stamford Animal Shelter and PAWS of Norwalk.
Throughout the holiday season, animal lovers can visit any Best Friends to select a card from the Angel Tree and donate the items listed for that homeless dog or cat. Since each shelter has specific needs, donors are asked to shop from the list on the pet’s card. Donations can also be made by phone. Best Friends is at 60 Harris Road, Avon, (860) 673-0555; at 227 Cheshire Road, Bethany, (203) 393-3126; 528 Main Ave., Norwalk (next to DMV), 203-849-1010; and at 1511 Silas Deane Highway, Rocky Hill, (860) 721-8080.
“The holidays are always a difficult time for shelters,” adds Moran. “Donations usual dip during this season, but this year, with all the newly homeless pets, the shortage of food and supplies is becoming a crisis. We are inviting anyone who loves animals to help out by donating to the program.”
For more information, visit http://www.bestfriendspetcare.com/.
Editor's Note: As a service to animals everywhere, Tesla's Love will from time to time post notices of events and efforts to help pets and wildlife. This is one such notice. It is only lightly edited and otherwise is in the words of the contributor.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The cost is $7 and canned cat food and refundable cans and bottles will be collected during the event.
The event is open to all pets of every shape and size and "of course children," organizers said. Cookies, cider and coffee will be served. All proceeds will benefit the Wags & Whiskers medical fund. For more information, please call Jim Vitelli at (203) 937-3642 or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Baron Bruno von Barker never passed on a challenge.
Bruno - April 1998 - July 2007
Friday, November 28, 2008
By Chip Bennett
This is a story of a very average dog.
Really, I mean it.
Kelly was average. She was not particularly big, but nor was she small. She was not exceedingly loyal, or intuitive, or watchful, or even fast or powerful. She was not an especially good swimmer, nor could she pull a sled, track a criminal, sniff out contraband, or guide the blind.
Kelly could, I suppose, flush out a rabbit, or perhaps a quail…if by flush out one means startle the poor creature, and then give wild chase.
No, Kelly was definitely not the brightest bulb in the dog world…if pressed, I could argue she was pretty, with her long, flowing, silky red hair that glistened in the sun, as she pranced through the meadows…but I won’t even give her that superlative, as I’ve seen many a mongrel, that looked equally good.
But wait, you say, was she a pure-bred? Surely with her family history…her pedigree, her provenance…she must be special. And indeed, Kelly did have good breeding, that is to say, she came from a long line of “special” dogs.
But so do half the dogs in the country, so that, unto itself, makes her, well, rather common. Yes, Kelly, the Irish Setter, if you must know…was average.
But that being said, her story is worth telling.
Now before the reader of this story gets indignant and wonders to themselves why any self-respecting dog lover would ever call their dog average…a sacrilege statement, a mortal sin…an exclamation worthy of excommunication from the Society of Friends of Four-legged Friends. Well, perhaps…perhaps it is…but listen a moment and I’ll tell you why my Kelly was average.
The story will start with a laugh, but if you are not careful, my reader, it will end with a cry. It begins on a lovely, sunny, glorious, lazy summer day in upstate New York. A day not much unlike the day before, but infinitely different from the day that would follow. The day began with a happy-go-lucky setter out with her master for a walk; a long stroll along the banks of Lake Chautauqua.
Kelly was doing her very favorite thing; absolute tops among a long list of her favorite things. She would sprint from one curious smell to the next, only taking the occasional break from her olfactory ecstasy, to chase a flock of ducks off the grass, and into the lake. A cacophony of squawking fowl and beating wings…though probably pure euphony to a canine. And these chases would end almost as suddenly as they began, because, although Kelly wasn’t clever, she was smart enough to know that she couldn’t catch a duck. Not even close. So she would quickly shake off the humiliation of the ducks that had now circled back , landed just off shore, seemingly mocking her for her effrontery.
Kelly didn’t care, she was lost in her fascinating smells again.
And it was after just such a episode, that I met another young dog walker. He was walking his Dachshund nearby, when the sound of the ducks got his attention, and he came over to introduce himself to me, and more to the point, introduce his charge to Kelly. Well, the two dogs seem to get along just fine , which isn’t surprising, as both setters and dachsies are the friendly type. So the four off us continued our walk along the lake, chatting about whatever 12-year-old or so boys chat about while walking their dogs. At some point along our walk, this kid whose dog was not allowed to walk off-leash, mentioned that it would be nice if he could let his dog run around with Kelly for awhile. I thought about this for a moment, and in a flash of inspiration I said to my new friend, “well, why don’t we tie them together, so they can walk each other?”
The boy, whose name I can’t remember, ( in fact, I don’t think we ever even introduced ourselves to each other), thought that my idea sounded brilliant. If not brilliant, at least doable. That is to say, he agreed to the idea.
And it does sound like a no-brainer….you have to admit. Let the dogs walk each other. What could go wrong? So we tied the dogs together with the leash he had been using to walk his dog, and let the dogs “loose” to their thing.
Well, all was fine for all of fifteen seconds.
All was fine until Kelly decided to do exactly her thing. In other words, she bolted after a rabbit. And I do mean bolted. Kelly, if nothing else, was pretty quick. So within a second or two she was bounding along after the rabbit at a good twenty miles an hour. And yes, you guessed it…the Dachshund was just along for the ride. Literally, no exaggeration, the dog was bouncing along, mostly on its back, behind Kelly.
Picture the cowboy that falls off his galloping horse, but gets his foot stuck in the stirrup.
It was something like that. I was mortified. And more than a little worried that the poor Dachshund was going to be injured. There was going to be a lot of “splaining” to do.
And oh, that poor, poor Dachshund.
Well, the Kilkenney sleigh ride was over in about 30 seconds, or so…who remembers exactly how long it lasted, or why Kelly decided to stop running.
Perhaps she eventually realized there was a yelping dog tagging along her heels, or perhaps she just got fatigued. But when the dust finally settled, and the dogs were detangled, the Dachshund simply popped up, shook himself off, was happy as a lark, and no worse for wear. Thank God. Those Dachshunds are one tough, tough breed. But one would expect no less from a breed that was bred for short legs, specifically to chase vicious badgers down their holes. Fearless, and hardy…short in stature, but tall in courage. Dachshunds are not average.
I scolded Kelly and took her home. I may have chuckled once or twice, on the way home, picturing the bouncing brown dog, but I remember I was also quite miffed at her for being so oblivious to the little dog’s welfare. And it was probably because I was cross with Kelly that I did not take her with me that afternoon when I went to my friend’s house to play some basketball. I can’t remember, after all these years, if I had left Kelly in the house…or perhaps Kelly was in the back yard playing with one of my sisters or brothers.
What I do remember, very, very well, is that it was unusual for me to do anything without taking Kelly with me. She was my best friend, and constant companion. Always by my side. She may have “officially” been a family dog, but in reality, she was my dog.
From the time she came home with us as a 7-week-old puppy, she was glued to my heels. And with the exception of school, of course, I took her every where I went.
So it was significant that she wasn’t with me that afternoon. But she eventually did follow me. Somehow she got out of the house, or slipped out of the backyard, saw me across the street, and dashed the few hundred yards in my direction. I remember it like it was yesterday, though it was more than 30 years ago. She never took her eyes off me as she spirited the remaining 50 yards.
She never thought once about checking for traffic on the road that separated our property from my friend’s basketball court. I felt an instant, rising panic as she approached the road. I knew, very well, that cars flew down this road. I knew that something bad was about to happen.
It was one of those moments that you see coming, but you are powerless to do anything about. Your life is changed in the blink of an eye.
And so it was. The car that hit Kelly didn’t even have time to hit the brakes. I heard no squeal of tires, I only heard the sickening thud of a dog against metal. My dog…my best friend. I’m sure I reached Kelly where she lay on the other side of the road within a matter of 5 or 6 seconds. She was still alive. I cradled her in my lap and tried to comfort her.
It was the worse few moments of my life. Kelly just looked at me with love in her eyes.
There was no panic in her gaze…there was no blame. There was just love. And as I stroked her, I told her she was the best dog in the world.
She gave me a final wag of her tail and died in my arms.
I learned a lot of life’s important lessons that day. I learned that life is not always fair. I learned that it can change in the blink of an eye.
But mostly, with regard to dogs, our most beloved friends and companions…I learned that there is no such thing as an average dog , when it comes the place that they hold in your heart.
Those who love dogs will know…there is more meaning in the wag of an average dog’s tail than in just about anything else one can think of.
Editor's note: Chip Bennett wrote for Tesla's Love from his Rhode Island home, where Cassie and Trixie are now the holders of that place in his heart.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Saturdays are always quite busy at "The Critter Connection," but a recent Saturday was much busier than usual.
This photo shows two females that recently arrived at The Critter Connection as part of the rescue of eleven guinea pigs from a roadside zoo in western New York State.
Cindy Kuester, president and head critter wrangler of the guinea pig rescue based in Durham, recently had her hands full, literally. There were cages to clean and guinea pigs to cuddle. Adopters arrived to pick up and bring home five pigs.
Meanwhile, Cindy's husband William drove to New York. His mission: to complete the rescue of 11 guinea pigs saved when a roadside zoo in western New York closed its doors and auctioned off its "inventory."
Cindy has been through similar rescues before, and she was prepared for anything. She alerted Pieper-Olson Veterinary Hospital in Middletown. Just in case, Cindy and the vets were ready to treat respiratory illness, hair loss resulting from mites, foot blisters from being kept on wire-bottomed cages, and pregnant females. This time, they were lucky. The guinea pigs were in very good shape, and only one of them needed to see a doctor. However, since pigs of both sexes had been kept together at the zoo in a single cage, the five females will be kept on pregnancy watch. Some of the males will be ready for adoption soon. In the meantime, Cindy and her foster families will make the newcomers welcome. The pigs will enjoy spacious cages with room to run, plenty of timothy hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables and fruits.
"Boy, do they eat," Cindy reports. "I've been spacing out their feedings so they don't overeat."
They will get regular lap time to help them become socialized for their eventual homes.
"A few are skittish but settle in quickly for a snuggle," says Cindy.
It will also give the rescuers a chance to observe their individual personalities for making the best matches, between guinea pigs and other guinea pigs, and between guinea pigs and humans.
The Critter Connection, Inc., is a non-profit group dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned and neglected guinea pigs. Since 2004 the rescue has placed more than 600 abandoned guinea pigs into new homes.
For more information, including how to help and how to adopt, visit http://www.ctguineapigrescue.org/, or write to The Critter Connection, Inc., P.O. Box 371, Durham, CT 06422.
Editor's note: This story was submitted by Ellen Falbowski, email@example.com
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Now where were we? Oh, yes, like I was saying, Shelby and I liked to sleep on the couch. She would lay on my chest until I started tossing and turning, then she would move down to my feet.
Then came the new additions…..
I was out in the neighborhood and I met a wonderful, beautiful woman. Her name is Heather. We feel in love immediately, we soon moved in together along with, Zack, her son and her two daughters, Kasey and Dakota.
I could write so much more, so maybe you’ll hear from me again!.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Boris was the first pet the seven of us kids had.
My father brought him home one day in 1966, an unexpected furry puppy treat for the kids. My mom probably asked the obvious question: “Just who is going to take care of this dog?” Not to worry, she loved him too.
A Collie-Shepherd mix, he was so handsome in his predominant chestnut brown. And so friendly! When anyone came home, he would wag his tail furiously and offer you a gift – anything he could pick up at the spur of the moment as an offering. And he loved to ride in my father’s VW Microbus. You could not say the word, but had to spell C-A-R in any conversation within earshot. He also knew the term for animal doctor. You had to say V-E-T.
He could get lost easily, so in 1967, we had a 5-foot fence installed. Dad always mentioned that our free dog cost $750 (over $4,000 today per the CPI). But the fence was needed when we got a pool later. He got out one day, and my mother told Maggie (a later free dog) to “Go get Boris”. And about a half hour later, the two dogs returned. Cool.
Boris passed in 1980 of old age. A nice, furry friend. I don’t have many pictures, so I am using two that I could find, and you can see his good looks.
The first one in 1968, including myself, brother Chris and sister Vicki. The other around Christmas 1975 or 76. If he looks like he was smiling…no doubt he was!
The first Boris was when we were babies in Brigantine, NJ. A Chesapeake Retriever I was told, seen with my dad in 1954. When we moved to NYC, they gave him to people who had a farm, I think. A dog’s life, for sure!
Editor's Note: This post by Ralph Villers was originally posted on his blog Airhead 55.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Benjie is a six-year-old golden retriever.
He was born on New Year’s Day. His mother was a guide dog and his father was trained to be used by law enforcement to sniff out drugs. It was only natural, therefore, that their offspring would follow in their footsteps and he was enrolled in a training program for guide dogs in Dutchess County, NY.
Benjie flunked out.
He was afraid of loud noises. That certainly would not do for a canine whose responsibility would be a sightless human being 24 hours a day. The agency that trained him, therefore, put him up for adoption. Since a young couple from Poughkeepsie, NY had applied to adopt a flunkie, they were called and immediately fell in love with Benjie. They took him home for their young son.
Benjie quickly became a winner. He won over individuals who previously had a professed fear of animals. He won over his family’s friends and their son’s Little League team who, after each game, would play with him, let him run loose in the enclosed ball field until he was exhausted and then return to the loving hugs of his master and the rest of the team.
Benjie also won over everyone who met him. He would bring an old shoe to a stranger in order to coax him to play with him, and when it was time to do his thing, he never failed to find his leash, even in a dark room, so that he could fetch one of the members of the family to take him for a walk.
His favorite pastime? Playing with children and adults. When his new family was away at work or at school, he contented himself to lie on an old sofa and watch the TV that had been left on to amuse him, knowing that his family would be home soon to enjoy his company. His tail, always wagging, would be there to greet them.
Benjie is slowing down. He is happy now to walk rather than running loose on the ball field near the family home. He realizes that his master is about to leave for college and although he senses impending separation, he’s secure and he’s content. The late and great sports writer Grantland Rice must have had Benjie in mind when he wrote in one of his columns that: When the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.
No doubt Benjie would have been a wonderful guide dog. He lost the chance to help an individual find his or her own way. But he found a home, a loving family to adore him and play with him and tend to his needs. By any standards, this flunkie from guide dog school is a hero, a friend, and a loving companion to a fine family, to kids of all ages who enjoy playing with him, and to an extended family in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, who can’t wait for him to pay them a visit.
I know Benjie personally. He’s my grandson’s best friend.
Editor's note: Manny Strumpf of Milford is the author of several books, including "Murder at the Statue of Liberty."
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old.. You too, will grow old.
10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone.
Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.
Editor's note: Provided by Bridget Albert, author unknown
Thursday, November 20, 2008
But the cost prevented me from getting one.
Since then, I have adopted adult dogs that need a home but they all came with their own unique set of issues that I could not solve despite hard work.
They were both good dogs and loving pets but things changed for Bear when our son, Jack, was born. The dog suddenly seemed anxious and a bit more excitable. Bailey on the other hand became nurturing toward the baby. On one occasion when we put Jack on the floor to be photographed with the dogs, Bear would have nothing to do with it and Bailey lay on her side and slithered over to Jack as if to nurse him! She remained affectionate toward Jack and allowed him to crawl on her and let him pull on her to lift himself up as a toddler.
But we had to find Bear a new home because he attacked Jack and bit him in the face. It was a shock because Jack was on the other side of the room from Bear and did not provoke the dog. I think that the dog was jealous because Bailey turned her attention from him to the baby. But soon after Bear left, Bailey became withdrawn and started to whine and howl. Jack also became afraid of her so we thought it best to find her another home too.
Last year, when our family was dealing with many hardships, I thought 'no better time than now' to get another puppy! I also was convinced that a Bernese Mountain dog would be the only breed to lift our spirits.
Hey, I skied there too, so it was decided we would not call him Bruno, but Kernan, and make it fancy smancy with Von Bruno!
He was so very perfect that I had to convince Helen to get one too. She agreed and we picked up Tesla and brought her home with us until we flew her to Helen in Connecticut.
Kernan is now 18 months and full of love for every one. He is big and beautiful but he acts like he can still fit in my lap.
Kernan loves us all but seems to heed to me best and Jack wanted a dog of his own so he recently got Karbon, a 12-week-old black Labrador.
I am not able to describe the love and loyalty that we have in our family since Kernan came into our lives. I can say though that this dog is the pet of all my dreams.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
By Mia M. Malafronte
I was searching through my old photos yesterday, looking for some pictures I had taken of my daughter, Nina, a few years ago, when I pulled out a roll of film I hadn't seen in quite some time.
It contained pictures of my son, Luigi, when he was just 2.
As I looked over the images, smiling at how cute he was as a baby, I came across a photo I hadn't remembered taking. It was Luigi with our old family dog, Ripp.
I felt the lump in my throat as I let the memory of a pet I hadn't seen in almost five years carry me away.
It's amazing how much a person's life can change in just five years.
And this one photo was breaking my heart as I thought about the puppy I brought home for my new husband back in 1996.
We called Ripp the $5.00 dog.
I adopted him from the Shelton pound while out on assignment one day. He was only 3 months old and just the cutest thing I had ever seen.
They charged me a $5.00 adoption fee. Ripp was about the best dog you could ask for. He was happy, loyal, protective, didn't bark too much, and LOVED children.
As years passed, Ripp saw the good, the bad and the ugly in our marriage. He heard the fighting, he licked the tears from my eyes, and sat beside me during some very dark hours. When my husband and I decided to split, he took Ripp with him.
I was sad, but I knew how much that dog meant to him. After all, he was his, a gift from me. I knew he would take good care of him.
Then, one April day in 2004, while out with friends at a Yankee game, I got a call from my ex-husband. I let it go to voice mail, thinking I wasn't going to let him ruin my fun with the usual banter I was accustomed to hearing.
I decided to listen to the voice mail as we were leaving the game.
I was not prepared for the message I was about to hear. My ex was barely audible, and his voice cracked as he told me there had been a terrible accident.
While checking on his family's summer beach house with the kids and the dog, Ripp drank anti freeze from the winterized toilet bowl. No one saw him. No one stopped him. They didn't realize what had happened until a few hours later. It was fast and ugly. He had to be put down the next morning.
He was only 8 and I never had the chance to say goodbye.This picture brings a bit of sadness as I remember a happier place and what seemed like carefree times. but the joy that Ripp brought to those who loved him, makes me thankful we were even able to know him.
Mia M. Malafronte, who is a professional photographer, can be reached at: http://www.miamalafronte.com/
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Dogs no doubt are man's best friend but we must not forget the magnificent animal, the horse.
I'm sure over the centuries, to many men and women, the horse was just as important and loved as the dog. Bred and raised for work and for pleasure, this awesome animal fulfilled its roll until today, where in most countries the horse is used for sporting events or pleasure.
Yet, in my childhood and teen years I was very close to all manner of horses as my father owned a riding and polo stable on Long Island.
Since this was the livelihood for the family we were not to consider the many horses as pets.
But who could help but to fall in love with at least one of these equine creatures. My favorite pony was Indian Girl. She came from out west, where she had been trained as a cow pony.
My Dad bought her to use as a polo pony. He trained her, which was easy, as cow ponies made excellent polo ponies.
Indian Girl was a paint and she stood out on the polo field. She handled so well I used to love to be on her back when as kids my friends and sisters, Dorothy and Elaine, could play a game ourselves.
I hated to see her ridden by anyone else. But on Sundays at an official game if not my father on her back, whom I trusted, it was another player who might not have the love of horses so important for their welfare.
So as it was one Sunday afternoon during a fast-paced and dangerous game down went Indian Girl, as my sisters and I watched. Others would not let us on the field as the Girl was badly injured.
We screamed and cried from the sidelines.
A police officer was called and while I closed my eyes Indian Girl's life was taken with a loud shot.
Having witnessed the Girl's agony trying to stay standing, I knew that had to be the way, but the feeling of loss was enormous.
I will never be able to erase that day from my mind even though I went on to love other horses in my life.
Editor's note: Shown at right in the photo is Joan Scanlon Bennett's dad, Walter Scanlon, atop the Brown Bomber during a match at Bethpage polo grounds
Dear God: Is it on purpose our names are the same, only reversed?
Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?
Dear God: When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?
Dear God: Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a Dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We do love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the ' Chrysler Beagle' or the 'Dodge Ram' the 'Dodge Great Dane'?
Dear God: If a Dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad Dog?
Dear God: We Dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?
Dear God: More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.
Dear God: Are there mail carriers in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?
Dear God: Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good Dog.
1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up.
2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.
3. The Litter Box is not a cookie jar.
4. The sofa is not a 'face towel'.
5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet. 7. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying 'hello'.
8. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table . 9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house - not after.
10. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt.
11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch.
12. The cat is not a 'squeaky toy' so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.
P.S. Dear God: When I get to Heaven may I have my testicles back?
'Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened'
Monday, November 17, 2008
A few months ago, when I doggie-sat for my parents in the house where I grew up, it was my responsibility to crawl out of bed at 7:30, open the slider, call the dogs, and let them outside for their morning pee.
“Abbie, Dixie!” I called, as I waited for the dogs to run toward the door.
It was only when I got back in bed that I realized I’d been calling a dog that has been dead for five years.
Dixie was a sandy-colored shepherd mix who I always thought looked sort of like a dingo. She was my aunt’s dog originally, but I still got to name her … sort of.
At 6, I was into fairy princesses, and when my cousins got a dog, I suggested she be named ‘Pixie.’ My aunt “misheard” my request, (or, as she told me later, thought Dixie was a name she’d be less embarrassed to holler after the puppy), and so Dixie was named. She felt like my dog. When her rambunctious-puppy-personality clashed with the much older dog she shared a house with, my aunt gave Dixie to us. And then we grew up together.
I remember chasing her around the yard and incorporating her into the games I’d play with my friends in the neighborhood. She could chew gum, we discovered by accident, and she could run—FAST. The knowledge that she’d bark at anything that came into our yard as we slept made me feel comforted and protected.
And she was an expert cuddler. I remember, as a teenager, after a bad night or before a hard day ahead, not wanting to wake my parents and crying into her back, arms wrapped around her body. She would stay with me as long as I needed her. I can’t remember what the tears were about but I remember who stopped them. And I remember her fur against my face. And the sound her chain collar made when she ran toward me.
Dixie wasn’t perfect. She was always skittish, couldn’t be trained to fetch a stick or a ball. Given the opportunity, she’d run away, leading us to chase her by car, as she zigzagged across roads, or galloped through the woods toward other dogs, in other neighborhoods. Or leading us to sit and wait. When this happened, I’d take a piece of her hard dog food and put it on my desk in my room. Holding it while I wished and prayed for her safe return.
When arthritis made her life unbearable, my mom made the difficult decision to put Dixie to sleep. I was in college. No one wanted to tell me, or knew how to. I remember how hard it was to take when they did.
Soon after Dixie’s death, my parents got a puppy; he’s a five-year-old dog now. Abbie, who was Dixie’s sidekick, her puppy tag-along, is 10. After I heard about Tesla’s death, I thought a lot about Dixie. I dreamt I walked into my parents’ house, and there she was in the living room where she always slept, frolicking toward me. In the dream, she left in a flash, and I was the only one who saw her.
I woke knowing that even though she’s gone, she will still come when I call her.
I hope those of you who loved Tesla find the same to be true.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
By Jon Bennett
I have been living with my dog Shelby for quite awhile. She is a mixed mutt - lab, terrier, and Pit Bull - I'm pretty sure. She is a little dog completely black with one tiny white spot in the middle of her chest.
She may be little but she is all muscle, very very strong. When I take her for walks she pulls so hard sniffing everything. If she sees another animal, especially a cat or squirrel, forget about it, she wants to rip my arm off. I am trying to break her of that, but it's her instincts.
She also loves to go for rides and stick her head out of the window, but you can't open it too far because if she sees a cat she will try to jump out, even if we are going down the road. She is very smart and I have taught her a lot of tricks. She can dance on her hind legs, sit, shake hands, lay down, speak, fetch and catch a Frisbee in the air. She also loves to play tug-of-war.
We lived by ourselves for a long time, so we spent a lot of time together. When I was at work she would stay on her run in the back yard. She has to stay there because she likes to run the neighborhood and I don't want her to get hit by a car. All my neighbors know her so when she gets loose they will put her back on her run for me. I built her the best dog house on the lake. It is insulated and vinyl sided. She also has a heated water dish so her water will not freeze in the winter.
Even though we live on a lake she is not too fond of the water. When we take a walk to the beach she will only go in up to her belly. When it was time for bed, she would sleep with me on the couch every night. That is, until we got some new additions to our family.
To be continued, watch for it.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
My dog is so very special to me and he has been the constant in my life as he has always been by my side.
I am sure anyone who has loved a pet like we have knows the deep love shared between us and them ....unconditional love.
Jon and my dog Cisco have developed a strong bond. Cisco follows Jon all over the house and is by his side every moment. I am now chopped liver - LOL
At night when its time to go to bed we call the dogs up. If I happen to go up first, Cisco just looks at me but as soon as Jon gets up Cisco is right by his side following him up to bed.
The love we all share is amazing.
The part that touched my heart was the day Jon went to the hospital... Jon was laying on the floor in pain, Jon's head was rested on my lap and Cisco was on the floor right beside us he would not leave Jon's side with his head rested on Jon's chest frequently licking his face... I could tell he sensed his pain.
He is a devoted dog and he loves Jon just as much as I do. Of course I can not forget Miss Shelby she is our little lady we love her dearly, too.
She is a young one, still wild and free; Cisco a little wiser in his old age.
Editor's note: Heather writes here about her two dogs, Cisco and Shelby, and a recent illness of her significant other, Jon, who is now recovered.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The Hail to Gremlin and Shaggy Song (say aloud phonetically at a good clip)
It goes like a camp song that The Houlihan Family Singers sing. So say this aloud- it's fun.
"SHY-KNEE I-KNEE I-KNEE I-KNEE ish me quook me kwIum me kwIum (These
lines sung in unison)
SHY-KNEE I-KNEE I-KNEE I-KNEE ish me quook me kwIum me kwIum
Oh Nicodaymo Oh SHY-KNEE I-KNEE Oompah
Oh Nicodaymo Oh SHY-KNEE I-KNEE
Oompah Oompah Oompah Oompah (This line 1/2 the group carries the repeated low percussion Oompahs)
Killy Killy Killy Killy Wash Wash Wash Wash Key-ya Key-ya Cow-wha
(These lines the other 1/2 of group sings these)
Killy Killy Killy Killy Wash Wash Wash Wash Key-ya Key-ya Cow-wha
Oh hail to our Indian dogs -Oh hail to Gremlin and Shaggy."(This line
-Oompahs stop- whole group sings w/vigor in unison)
This song is passed down in our family through oral tradition. It is about two dogs I never even knew! I love that it is a family heritage song. I love the rhythm, the fake language, the camp feel, the German Oompahs, the regal-ish Nicodaymo Latin reference and the association of these dogs as close to nature, regal Indian dogs being hailed to all eternity. I am very sure we will teach this song to Shawn & Kate's little girl, along with a Norwegian bounce the baby on the knee song, Irish American favorite tunes and family fave camp songs. We will pass this family song on because these dogs were part of our family and therefore should be revered as part of our family history.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
When I went to the animal shelter to find a new kitten, I was mourning the recent loss of my elderly cat named Ashley.
I arrived at the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, but they didn’t have any kittens available, only adult cats. I looked at the animals ready to be adopted, and a fluffy one caught my eye.
This cat had tiger-like markings. She was black and brown and fluffy, with bright green eyes, and was part Maine Coon. When we took her into an adoption room, the adoption worker said it was the first time she had ever heard the cat purring. I was a big fan of the hit television show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” so I named my new cat “Buffy the Rodent Slayer.”
It took a long time to win her over – she was shy after living in the shelter for about a month.
But soon Buffy opened up, running around the house and playing with her toys. She loved to climb under the covers to snuggle. Buffy lived with me when I owned a condominium in Guilford.
We later moved to Ansonia, where Buffy had to try to learn to get along with my new husband’s two cats.
We eventually moved to our current home. With our new house on a cul-de-sac, I thought Buffy would be safe outside, as there is hardly any traffic. She loved going outside, but she had to stay indoors at the Ansonia house, as we had lived on a busy street.
So she went outside in Bristol, and would lounge in the sun. She loved to hang out by the bird feeders, watching the birds and the chipmunks. She would come inside when I called her.
I remained hopeful for weeks, even months. Every time I heard a sound near the back door, I’d run to look to see if she came back. People shared stories of cats that showed up months after disappearing.
I hoped that maybe she had survived outside, and would live up to her tough namesake.
I feared the worst.
She had been treated for worms recently, but appeared to be fine. I also worried that she was the victim of a predator.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I had been through a terrible divorce between 2001 and 2002 after a marriage that included domestic abuse. As if that weren’t enough, my mother was dying and my sister had suffered a breakdown.
Through a fluke – which I now see as fate – I adopted a dog named Ivy from friends who were moving. Filled with doubts about the furry Lab-Chow mix that I was bringing into my home, I thought that I was doing Ivy a favor. But it was Ivy who changed my life.
Ivy rescued me by simply being herself, a dog.
Her constant presence, her sweetness and devotion healed my heart. Within a month of adopting Ivy, she inspired me to write a children’s mystery series which now comprises three books, with a fourth to be published in February 2009. The Shandon’s Ivy League Mystery Series follows the adventures of a group of pets who solve crimes and mysteries.
No one knows how many tears that beautiful black fur held. Ivy had become companion, muse, cardiologist, and partner in crime, so speak.
So when the news came in early May that Ivy was dying from an inoperable tumor, no one was more shocked than I that I would be losing my Ivy Girl. She died May 31, and I was devastated. The woman who had been an “unpet” person for most of her life had been transformed through the love of a dog.
Ivy’s death came right before the publication of “A Paw on My Heart … A Tail of Divine and Canine Inspiration.” I felt driven to write the book – to chronicle the pain of domestic abuse and to share the amazing healing power of pets. I will never be the same because of Ivy.
These words from my book sum up the way that I feel about my life with Ivy:
“Our story began with a woman in despair and ended with a life transformed by the love of a dog. As remarkable as I believe our love story to be, I know that similar stories are being played out day after day, year after year, on life’s expansive stage among children and adults, the poor and the rich, the meek and the mighty, and the sick and most humble of all. As long as there are dogs, we will never be without true love. Unconditional. Sometimes sloppy kisses. Hugs and pats 24/7.
“What miracles they are—these paws on our hearts!”
Tesla’s paws on the hearts of each member of her family will be there forever. Though her life was much too short, her family’s life was transformed by her love – the amazing love of a dog.
I know that I will see Ivy again one day. And when I do, I’ll give her the biggest hug in Heaven!
They call me Chi-Chi.
I came to live with my new owner almost three years ago. My first owners didn’t want me any more. They were mean to me and tried to hurt me. I don’t know what I did wrong. I tried to be a good cat. But one day I was taken for a ride and dropped off on a road in the woods.
I was scared; I was lonely; I was hungry and I was cold. I hid for a long time in the woods and tried to eat whatever I could. There was a house nearby and there was a nice man in the yard. He would leave food outside for me to eat. I wanted so much to be able to go inside his house, but he had a cat that didn’t like me.
One day the nice man put me in a carrier and brought me to house that I didn’t know. There was a lady there. She seemed okay, but I was scared again. She gave me food and best of all, she let me stay inside.
We have become great friends. I live in her condo with lots of room to run around. I have my own pillow and toys and a lovely little yard in which to play. I can chase squirrels and mice in the nearby woods. My best time of the day is at night when I sit on my owner’s lap and watch TV. She is constantly petting me, hugging me and (ugh!) kissing me! But, I’m happy here.
I don’t think about my former owners at all any more nor wonder why they didn’t want me or why they hurt me. I’m just glad I found a loving home.
Author's note: an abused cat found by one of my friends, Chi-Chi is now about eight years old and does have some residual health problems because of her abuse. She is happy, however, and has become “one of the family."
This is a copy of an article I wrote about my darling Chi-Chi who I adopted.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Having loved and lost many of my four legged friends over the years, I truly can empathize with those who have also grieved for their beloved pets.
My first rememberance of a animal who all my family loved is our throw away dog who wandered into our lives when I was about eight years old.
Brownie showed up on our doorstep one day and since he didn't have a collar and didn 't leave, we adopted him.
Brownie became a companion to each of us. When one of us took a walk in the woods, Brownie always came. At the time we didn't think he was protecting us but I'm sure he knew he was on duty.
Brownie would play with us, do tricks to show off, be friendly to people he trusted and warn us when he thought we were in danger. His most important quality was his loyalty to us children.
As kids we took the school bus to school about a mile and a half away from home. Brownie would meet us outside of our school when it let out and ride home with us on the bus. How he knew where we were and how he got there was always a mystery as we lived in the country and never brought him to town.
My Mom always believed in giving us, as kids, a lot of freedom to roam and discover things on our own and she let Brownie have his freedom too.
One day though when Brownie had been gone too long we began to worry. He was always home in time for his supper. This day he didn't show up, nor did he return that night. Our family was devastated.
As Brownie had wandered in one day, so had he wandered out. Whatever happened to him will always be the question without an answer.
To this day I call," Brownie where are you?"
By Bridget Albert
Over a decade ago we found ourselves the owners of a border collie/shepherd we named Lady Jane.
Our home was supposed to be a temporary haven for her as she was termed 'cat-aggressive.' And since we were owned by a feline queen who thought every dog was her friend we knew we needed to find a permanent home for Lady. The reason for her adoption in the first place was that she was high up on the 'hit list' at our shelter in Woodbridge. After all, they rationalized "we can't knowingly adopt out an animal that might do harm."
Well, we advertised her, had people meet her and interviewed them. She snarled at them, bared her teeth and was truly not accepting of any of them, or our friends for that matter. One family actually said they would take her. That was probably a month after she entered our lives as an adoptee. Surprisingly I found myself saying "no."
For the next decade, we had house rules. Prudy, our feline (now 24) had the run of the house during the day and at night. Lady had mornings and evenings. Every once in a while Prudy would get curious and go sit on the basement steps and stare at Lady Jane who would stare back.
Over the years our social life began to change. Friends would suggest we get together at their place or a restaurant instead of at our house.
But our love and affection for Lady Jane only grew. Lady was our protector. I remember shortly after she joined our family we took her for what became her favorite adventure - car rides. We went into New Haven, parked on Chapel Street and left her to watch the world in the Subaru. She was in heaven. All those people to stare at and protect the car from. We watched her as we walked away to shop.
She was a happy girl.
A bit later we went back to the car and I started to get into the driver's seat. She lunged across the seat, bared her teeth and told me in no uncertain terms that this was her car and I was an intruder. But all I had to do was say her name and talk reassuringly to her and I quickly got "Sorry mom, I was only doing my job." When I started to drive away I felt her kisses on the back of my neck.
There are many Lady Jane stories.
Some that would be too painful to put into words these days. In Prudy's senior years she and Lady Jane came to an agreement. Prudy was queen. In the evenings she would make an appearance, walk through the house and announce herself. And go into the kitchen and sit on Lady's bed. These days that is where we will find her. Looking for her friend. She sits there for hours.
A few months ago Lady Jane developed a tumor in the back of her head. Biopsies showed only inflammation but it continued to grow. We tried antibiotics, steroids. We opted not to put her through chemotherapy as we did another special canine. Last week Lady Jane lost her battle with that tumor, which took over her body. Up until the end she fought it as she fought to keep us happy and safe. I will always be thankful to that animal control officer who put the well-being of this beautiful animal first and recognized a good home when they saw it.
Please consider adopting from your local animal shelter.
I am sure you will be rewarded as finely as we were. There are many beautiful dogs and cats waiting for a second chance at happiness.
Give them the opportunity for a quality life.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
A goldie with a golden heart
While I was still in college, albeit married, and living off campus in our own home, I bought a Golden Retriever named Casey. Casey was already 12 weeks old, because a family purchased him from one of the most renowned breeders in Connecticut whose mother was afraid of him as a puppy.
That was incredulous as Casey was a typical light bronze pup that was friendly and only looking for a lap.
Well I was lucky to find him and offered him a loving home.
He came to live with me in West Hartford, Conn. We had a nice large fenced yard and I took Casey for walks everyday around the block. Casey caught the eye of the neighbors who would come over just to play with him and give him treats. When I moved to a condo, Casey came with me and tolerated the time he had to spend indoors but he still loved our runs and walks. I never had to put a leash on him because he would always stay by my side but would tease me and run faster than me so I would have to catch up to him!. I was single again before I came to the condo so Casey and I often shared meals. Meals that I cooked like liver but didn’t add the onions until he ate his portion! He and I shared popcorn as our favorite snack.
I have neglected to write that Casey was gorgeous, large bones and had a beautiful blockhead. He grew to be almost one hundred pounds of energy and excitement. He was my pride and joy.
Once when I let him out of the condo he hadn’t returned from his puppy protective reconnaissance when I had to head to work. I was frantic but called my father to come and look for him. Dad agreed and called me just as I gotten to my office and told me that Casey was waiting by the front door when he arrived!
Dad then appreciated Casey for the loyalty he exhibited and accepted him into his home whenever I visited my parents. Casey celebrated holidays with me and every other person we were with and he was always a gentleman and gracious. He loved their dogs as well!
When Casey was just about 8 years old, I moved to Colorado. My father insisted that Casey would prefer to stay in Connecticut and live with him so, bittersweet memories is what I traveled with to my new home 1,800 miles away.
Casey, and my parents’ Newfoundland, Kaiser, became best buddies. Both big boy dogs and neither one neutered either. Kaiser kept Casey young and Casey gave Kaiser tips on in the house etiquette (of course it was really only tips about how to persuade the old man new daddy to give him food tricks!)
Dad formed a bond with Casey probably stronger than one I had with him. Dad had time and spent it with both dogs and he gave them better leftovers than I ever cooked for Casey!
Then Casey got ill and Dad took care of all his needs until the time the vet said Casey is better off with out the pain of cancerous tumors eating away at his legs and Dad buried him in his own backyard.
Dad realized what my grief might have been asked my sister, Helen, to call me and give me the news. She called me and found me working a job in New Mexico. The words she said I don’t remember but the loss I felt for my Dad and for myself was almost crippling. There will never ever be a dog that could bring two resistant generations together as Casey did.
At right, Maureen and one of her newer boys, Kernan.
Ramblings of a cat person who had special feelings for Tesla
I had a few pets as a child who met tragic endings and in some ways looking back, were a reflection of my childhood.
There was a turtle whose shell melted when he escaped his plastic "environment" and slipped behind the clothes dryer, a cat, "Whiskers" who was poisoned by a spinster neighbor who didn’t like him chasing the birds and a litter of kittens thrown out a window by a rogue babysitter.
But few things are all bad and I also had some positive experiences with my pets.
My rabbit, Sam, escape artist extraordinaire, put the family cat Sylvester to the test when our friends visited one day with their ferocious, loose cannon German shepherd the size of a Shetland pony. When the dog went up to the outside cage and growled like he was going to rip Sam’s fence down, Sylvester jumped in front of him, all hairs up, back arched and made that scary cat sound. The shepherd ran away with its tail between its legs and never bothered Sam again.
That taught me that you don’t have to be big to pack punch - it’s in the presentation.
However, next time the dog was over he lunged at me and ripped my shirt off with his teeth.
I wondered, "Where is Sylvester now?"
Later, I had two orange cats, Alphonse and Ambrose, who could and did detect the supernatural elements in our house (their former owner), convincing me there are such things as ghosts or spirits that can’t get to the right "place." The two feline brothers had a strong bond and that taught me about loyalty, as I had no brothers or sisters.
My luck with fish, not so good. I had an Oscar fish who grew up overnight and ate all his neon tank mates, a rope fish who threw himself out of the tank each day and had to be scooped off the floor and a salt water lion fish who I had no relationship with because he was basically comprised of poisonous spikes.
I would later pass this fish issue on to my already confused child, Will, by letting his beta fish go down the drain while cleaning the bowl. His first phrase ever was spoken as he watched in horror: "Fish die, fish die!" Seconds later, the fish appeared in the sink after flipping its way back up the drain. "Fish back, Fish back!"
But not for long. I nudged it with the net to try to get it out (after all, how could I touch a fish after changing three kids’ diapers?") and it landed back down the drain!
I tried to make it better: "Fish swimming in septic tank! Fish swimming in septic tank!"
I don’t think Will bought it.
My first "children" were two Abyssinian guinea pigs, Lommie and Mommie, parented by myself and the man I should have married. We rushed Lommie to the vet one night when she couldn’t breathe, but there was nothing they could do. It was a very dark night. (and I should have stuck with the concept of guinea pigs as kids).
If you notice, despite all the dog stories I’ve written over the last 18 years, I’ve never had a dog.
That’s a story in itself.
But I hear there is no bond like the one with a dog. Most people say it’s that unconditional love that you’ll never get from a person, cat, turtle, rabbit, fish or guinea pig.
I may never know what it’s like to have a dog, but I still have the blue bowl deemed Tesla’s water dish under my sink. She’s the only dog I ever welcomed into the house and Tesla was special to me because Helen and Kiley are so special to me and she meant so much to them. I think to be taken so suddenly and soon that Tesla was sent here for a good reason that we’ll never be sure of.
May she rest in peace and continue to bring happiness in heaven!
This story takes place in Winchester.
"How is Happy?" my mother asked my sister Deirdre and I from her hospital bed.
Time seemed to slow and stop even though our response was immediate and without flaw. We were good daughters, what could we tell our Mom sick in a hospital bed with terminal brain cancer about our family dog Happy.
My Dad bought Happy from our neighbor and friend Al Clark from down the hill.
Twas the same place he bought our best pony, Cocoa, for my young nephew Shawn.
Both lovely animals had brown /reddish fur. Only Happy's coat was Fox-colored with white paws and a striking white diamond at his delicate forehead. He or she (I was a kid so I didn't know- just a neutral happy dog to me) had a tinge in a fringe of white along the scruff of his collar. As Happy was a partial mutt, I later in life would look with my daughter, Ginny, through Dog Encyclopedia's to try to share about Happy and to define her heritage by looks and description of character in case I could ever possibly as an adult now find another one just like her. The closest I came to finding ancestors through my foibled attempt was that our "Happy" somewhat looked like a mid-sized Hungarian hunting hound which possesses lovely short reddish fur and a delicate stature.
Happy though did not bark a lot. "Happy" was happy. I think she was called "Happy" because she was literally always smiling. Perhaps she knew she was going into an Irish family.
So Happy arrived and became an immediate part of our family.
I would bring Happy out on the green lawn with me to play. We would play a great new game called "Frisbee."
Happy was luckily much better at running and catching the Frisbee than I was at throwing it where I was trying to aim. So therefore, Happy made me feel great about myself. We tousled and rousled with each other like young bear cubs on the ground- lots.
Now Happy could play like the best of them yet Happy also had a genteel quality. Happy could dance and dance well and dance a long time. Happy and I would lock arms (did I mention Happy could stand upright at will?) and sweepingly waltz around the front yard. ( Reader note: notice how "Happy" is now not only able to do things just as well if not better than humans (smile, be cheerful always, play frisbee like a professional, wrestle with feeling) yet now Happy has gained arms instead of front legs and paws)
Photos of this to prove it are being tracked down presently. Ya gotta believe me!
"Where's Happy?" my sister and I would ask each other that week. The snow in Winchester had piled up so high that winter that we only had a towering shoveled path from our step into the yard.
"Was she hit by a snowplow when we let her out?" "She always stays in the yard and comes when she is called." "Gosh, I hope Happy didn't get caught in a trap in the woods?" We could not locate Happy up or down the road and Deirdre did search in the nearby snowy woods for her. "Happy, happy????" we yelled.
Happy also had many human priorities such as its favorite living room chair, which none of us would possibly ever take from this sweet dog after he/she claimed it. Dogs made out pretty well in our house- no dog house blues for them. I remember Happy just knew how to get sooo cozy in his cushioned arts & crafts chair. He would jump in it and circle in it and bed down perfectly. Sooo Happy. Through my attending school most of the year during the day, he become my mother's daytime bosom companion.
One day when we had a visitor, my mother was sitting on the couch laughing (she was known for her hearty laugh) so emphatically from her diaphragm that Happy being so moved jumped on her lap wanting to share in the fun and by accident stuck his nozzle in her open laughing mouth for a second. Well then our laughter went into family hysterics.
This was our reply to Mom in the hospital. We young girls took the easy way out in a day when you don't talk about illness, let alone cancer with the patient and you certainly shield them (wisely???) from any bad news. "Oh- that's good" Mom said calmly "as I had the strangest dream." "Happy came to me in this dream and laid his sweet head peacefully down on my shoulder and died." We then felt relieved to tell Mom the truth. This truth has set my sister Deirdre, my daughter Ginny and I free from doubt- free from pain.
Does a dog have a soul? The answer is "Yes, Virginia a dog does have a soul!"
Humphrey's in Heaven
Our furry little guy died this afternoon on the kitchen floor. Now he is in a box. And Kid Two dug a hole in our backyard, and he and I just had a burial. I certainly am glad I wasn't alone in the house when it happened. My mother and both of my children were here too. We adopted Humphrey when a friend who had eight cats asked us to take him. Humphrey had strayed into his yard and our friend thought he needed another home. We said OK. That was 1999. At the time the vet said Humphrey looked to be about 14 months old. So he was about nine years old today, when he died and went to cat heaven. I don't know if I want to go into all the details here. I immediately called the vet when I sensed by the way Humphrey was acting that he was dying. It all happened quite fast. This is my first cat, so I never saw this before.
Friday, November 7, 2008
She bounded right off that plane and into our hearts.
A Bernese Mountain dog in every sense of the word: brave, smart and loyal, Tesla took her name from Nikola Tesla, the inventor born in 1856. Tesla’s name was often a conversation starter, as more people than you would expect knew that she was in fact named for the important scientist. For me, Tesla often became “Tessie” and she knew everything from Tesla to Tessie to Tess was her.
Along with her smarts and loyalty, Tesla also was stubborn and it showed up right from the start, as when she did not want to do something she was clear about it: flopping down on the lawn and making whoever was caring for her carry her into the house was not uncommon while she could still be carried.
But stubbornness was probably Tesla’s only flaw. To say she was practically perfect in every way is not really an exaggeration. She was not so hot in puppy kindergarten but that was only because she was so in love with all the other people and dogs that pup ADD ensued, and she simply wanted to love everyone. That can be very distracting.
Her love of all people and dogs she met stayed with her every day. Whether is was on a walk, at the dog park, or romping with her extended family of my many siblings’ many dogs, Tesla was the quintessential dog’s dog. She would not take no for an answer from any other dog and simply would tailor her actions and behaviors until she won over the others, even should they be grouchy or bossy.
But even her love for other dogs was eclipsed by her love for people, especially her family.
More to come about Telsa in coming weeks.