Category: My Furkids

Twenty-One Little Ralphie Things

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

2012-10-03 - A lazy afternoon with the dogs - 0002

Dear Ralphie,

I know I’m a day late with this, but cut me some slack, okay? It’s been a pretty stressful week/month/year/decade around here. Mags is maybe-probably dying – or at least really struggling – and I have to deal with selling my house, packing up, and moving back to New York when I should be worrying over her 24/7. (Yup, right back where we started!) Anyway, if you think about it, it’s a tiny miracle that I was able to continue the tradition at all this year. I’m sure there are a million other things I oughta be doing right now.

Anyway, you’ve been on my mind lately. I’ve spent no small amount of time in the local auto shop’s waiting room, and the owners have two dachshunds that they bring to work with them! The more curious of the pair kept me company; I rubbed my clothes all over her to keep my doggos jealous and on their toes. It worked as planned with Rennie and Finnick, but Mags really couldn’t have cared less. She knows where she stands. (Right on top of me, if that is her wish.)

I miss you, bud, but I’m also glad you got to go first. These have not been happy times, and you got out while the getting was good. Lucky goose. I still miss you anyway. Shine a little light my way if you can, okay? I mean, assuming part of you is now a star. We could sure use it down here.

Love you. Wish this was more upbeat. Next year, maybe?

Forever yours,

Mom

Sunday Afternoon

(More below the fold…)

Thirty-Four Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

2012-03-24 - Dogs Outside - 0004 [Original]

Dear Kaylee,

Last week my sis asked me to send her a few of my favorite pictures of you. I’m sure you can guess what happened next: I spent all night on Flickr, perusing and reminiscing, and was only able to whittle it down to twenty-six pictures or so. I don’t care what she says, you were by far the loveliest and most photogenic all of my doggos. I mean, that butt alone!

I also don’t care what you might say, you and Mags didn’t coexist nearly long enough. Among my absolute favorites are the photos of you two together: Mags trying her best to cozy up; you, snubbing her with all your might. I wish you two could have been friends, but I understand your position. You didn’t want to share me. I get it! I didn’t want to share you either. At least not with any other hoomans.

Even at eight, Mags looked so impossibly young in those pictures! Now she’s older than you were when you passed, and I find myself having to confront her mortality too. She was diagnosed with dementia in July, and things have escalated pretty quickly in the weeks and months since. We’re planning a move to New York in November; on her worst days, I fear that Mags won’t be there to see it. As difficult as this all has been, it’s that thought that hammers my heart the hardest.

I find myself measuring and marking time by you guys: Shane and I got married the summer before we found you, so it was June of 2016; or, we started house shopping the spring after you joined our household, so it was in 2017. We put that new walkway in the winter before Ralphie died – just in time for his stubby little legs to enjoy the new short steps – so it all went down in the last months of 2012. And so on and so forth. You get the idea.

You guys are the single most important thing to me, so much so that you are the things around which all else revolves. I don’t know who I am without you. I don’t want to find out, but it’s inevitable, I think.

Anyway, these are the thoughts rattling around in my head on your birthday/gotcha day. It’s a melancholy one, but then so are most anniversaries nowadays. Things have changed so much for me in the last few years, and I’m not even halfway out the other side yet.

One thing that will never change is how much I love you. I wish you were here for real to see me through it, and not just haunting my heart.

I love you so much, baby girl.

– Mom

2016-05-14 - Jayne - 0005 [flickr]

Dear Jayne,

Thinking of you still hurts my heart. I wish we could have done more for you…or less, as it were.

Though your final few months were mostly filled with pain and sorrow, there were good things too: You opening yourself up to us, if even just a tiny bit more. The spring sun on your face, and leisurely strolls at Smithville Lake. Trips to the drive-in with your sisters. Snuggles and naps and new experiences.

It’s not fair. Eleven was far too young. You should still be alive. Your Eeyore face would fit right in around here.

I miss you too, sweet girl. Even though you were more cat than dog, I never regret a bit of it. I’d adopt you again fifteen times over.

I hope your atoms are happy, wherever and whatever they are now. You deserve an eternity of sunshine after all you’ve been through.

xoxo,

– Mom

2011-12-06 - Kaylee & Jayne - 0154

2016-08-19 - Jayne Pop - 0002 [flickr] 2016-08-19 - Kaylee Pop - 0001 [flickr]

PS – One thing I’ll definitely find a place for in my new home are your funny little Funko peoples. That way I’ll be sure to think of you a dozen and one times a day.

(More below the fold…)

Twenty-Eight Little Mags & Finnick Things

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

IMG_20180722_201606

Dear Mags & Finn,

The past who-knows-how-many years have sucked, but you guys make everything worth it. (Mags especially. Sorry Finn! We’re each others’ second choices and we both know it. I still love you though!) I hope you both make it to New York with me, and Rennie too of course, and live at least long enough to experience each season in the Northeast. It’ll be a big change, but we’ve got each other, and isn’t that the most important thing? Plus you’ll finally get to meet (and snub, lmao) your extended nonhuman family: Hash and Roxy, Diablo, Jack and Diane, and Laila and Shadow.

It’s been a rocky ride, but just know that I love you both so much. You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Forever yours,

Mom

IMG_20180819_130522

(More below the fold…)

Sixteen Little Peedee Things

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

2015-07-05 - Peedee & Rennie Out to Sea - 0056 [flickr]

Peedee,

I’ve been missing you so very much the past year plus. You were some dog, you know that? Things have been terrible, and I could use your stupid silly grin and lolling pink tongue more than ever. Not to mention an extra-soft shoulder to cry on, assuming your antics didn’t do the trick.

Also, I think you would have made a great therapy dog/babysitter for old Magsy. What’s that, Peedee? Mags fell down a well!? Take me to her, boy.

Seriously, though, you were rad. I’ll never forget you, even if I live to be one hundred and twenty three (dog forbid).

Love,

Mom

2015-06-27 - Morning Walk at Smithville Lake - 0023 [flickr]

 

(More below the fold…)

Fourteen Little Rennie Things

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

2017-09-17 - Rennie Batgirl - 0018 [flickr]

Dear Rennie,

I love you.

I want to say more, but I’m apt to get weepy and hysterical in my present condition. And no one wants that! There’s just so much to worry about lately without you going and getting all old on me!

I hope you’re still around when we up and move to New York. I hope you like your new home and yard (smaller though they may be), and your cousins Hash and Roxy. I hope I’m doing right by you guys and making this all at least a tiny bit easier. You guys do, you know: make this all a little easier to bear. Some days you guys are the only reason I get out of bed. (So you don’t poop in it, hardee har har.)

I love you. Please stick around a little bit longer, for me?

xoxo

Mom

(Can you believe it’s been thirteen years? I mean, h*ck.)

2017-09-30 - Walking at the Cemetery - 0072 [flickr]

2017-09-06 - Mags, Rennie & the Acorn Cap - 0014 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Twenty Little Ralphie Things

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0036

Dear Ralphie,

I love you so very much, my darling boy. If your atoms happen to bump up against those of Dad – or Jayne, Peedee, Kaylee, or Ozzy – tell them I said the same.

Miss you, little bear.

– Mom

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0110

(More below the fold…)

Thirty-Two Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

2013-05-15 - Getting Discharged - 0007 [black&white-square]

My dearest little daemon,

I miss you so much, sweet Kaylee baby, but you already know that. I think about you all the time (good!), even if many reminders come in the form of a certain nemesis named Mags (bad! boo! hiss!). Sometimes I refer to her as Kaylee 2.0, but I’m totally joking! No one could replace you, baby girl.

Probably it will delight you to learn that there are some autumnal photo shoots in Mags’s immediate future, and that last week I made her dress up as Batgirl to cheer up your aunt Meesh. Finally, we can retire those Wonder Beyatch pictures. (Not! That was the best. I have those ‘roos hanging up in my closet, right next to your shindig dress, because they always make me think of you.)

Anyway, just checking in. Even though it’s been 1,229 days since I last snuggled your mushy little body close, your absence remains a palpable, heavy thing. You were – forever are – my one and only. You need not worry about some sassy little upstart supplanting you, in my imagination or my heart.

With love,

Your other half

 

2010-09-30 - Walking Kaylee & Jayne - 0018

Dear Jayne,

You should be here with me, celebrating your thirteenth birthday in style (read: at the drive-in with ample biscuits and noochy popcorn). I wish things had gone differently; that the surgery had worked, or the chemo; or that we’d had the ability to see into the future, and not subjected you to either. Another canine cancer diagnosis is my worst fear, since it will likely shock me into paralysis. Weighing Peedee’s (relatively) good outcome against the terrible time you had; what’s a caregiver to do?

I miss you, sweet girl. Sure you were a loner, Dottie, a rebel; a bit of a misanthrope who just wanted to be left alone (but not too alone). But on that point, I can relate. We had so much in common, you and I; and you taught me to accept you on your terms, to love you for who you were not, who I hoped you could be. You had a pretty good life, all in all, and I’m happy I could give that to you, if nothing else.

I hope you’re happy, wherever your handsome little atoms are now.

Love,

Mom

(More below the fold…)

Twenty-Six Little Mags & Finnick Things

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

2017-07-14 - For My Dog Mags (Fetch) - 0009 [flickr]

2017-07-28 - Treeloot Monkey Rodeo - 0004 [flickr]

Dear Mags,

It seems you have become my Kaylee 2.0. (That bitch again!) That’s not to say that you guys are interchangeable, or even all that much alike. Yet you are now the little old lady I love to spoil, whereas it used to be Kaylee. You’re not huge on snuggling (though definitely more down than Kaylee), yet we have a whole morning routine that’s worthy of a Folgers commercial. You’re here for me when I need you, and do I need you like whoah lately. It’s been a time, these past eight months/four years+++, and I cannot tell you how much it helps to have you by my side.

Wait, yes I can. You guys – you and Finnick and O-Ren – are the reason I’ve made it this far. The reason I choose to hang around, day after day after day.

You’re turning fourteen this year, and fourteen was Kaylee’s last. I can’t lie and say that doesn’t make me more than a little nervous. I hope you’re still here next year, and the year after that; long enough to see Trump’s impeachment (yea right!) and our move to New York. Long enough to get to know Hash and Roxie – and loathe them with every fiber of your being, on account of they divert some of the spotlight away from you. (See, you and Kaylee aren’t so very different after all!) At least until the sixth Bitch Planet TP comes out, so I can photograph you noming on it.

And if you’re not, that’s okay too, or will be in time. We’ve made so many wonderful memories in the past six years. And I have to disagree with Steve Earle on this one – they’re enough to warm my soul. I learned that from Kaylee. (Sorry!)

Love you, noodle.

– Mom

 

2017-07-13 - Outside with the Dogs - 0021 [flickr]

2017-07-08 - Finnick Does Not Want the Pool - 0004 [flickr]

Dear Finnick,

Dad should be here to write your letter this year, and it breaks my heart that he isn’t. I hope I’m doing right by you, though I know some days, not so much. (Friday was wild, right? CenturyLink really knows how to drive a girl crazy.)

You remind me more and more of Peedee every day. I always thought you two were so much alike – enough to repel each other! – but now you’ve taken on his role as comforter, too. Your rough edges are still in need of some light polishing, but I appreciate how willing you are to set your fear aside and snuggle on up to me when I’m having a bad day. Of all the dogs, Shane’s death hit you the hardest. And how could it not? You are a daddy’s boy, through and through. But it’s also led to a strange, sad kinship between the two of us. We are bound by loss, you and I.

But I don’t want for that to be the bond that defines us. I promise to try my best to soothe your hurt, the way you do mine – and also build some wonderful new memories, just the two of us. I love you so, so much, little buddy.

xoxo

– Mom

 

2017-08-07 - Walking at Jesse James Park - 0025 [flickr]

2017-07-19 - Rennie, Mags, Finnick - 0004 [flickr]\>

(More below the fold…)

Fifteen Little Peedee Things

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

2015-08-30 - The Birthday Boy & His Cake - 0010 [flickr]

Dear Peeds,

So you were kind of the best, weren’t you? I don’t think I fully appreciated your awesomeness until after you were gone, and that’s on me. You were hecka smart and kind of a handful, but also the most empathetic and comforting dog I’ve ever met. It all goes hand in paw, I guess.

Part of me wishes you were still here, because I could use a soft, furry shoulder to cry on. But I’m also glad you’re not, since these past few years have been terrible – that last eight months especially – and you don’t deserve all this. So it’s a relief, too, I guess, on account of I couldn’t stand upsetting you with all my tears and temper tantrums and fits. Mags and Rennie mostly ignore my hysterics, which is nice; they spare me the guilt. (Finnick, on the other hand? He takes after you. Which is why you hated each other, I suspect.)

Oh boy, this is pretty morose for a birthday letter, ain’t it? Just know that I love and miss you, and think about you all the time. You’re always with me, sweetheart, through good times and bad. Especially the bad.

I guess you’re my daemon, too.

Love Always,

Mom

2015-05-31 - Peedee on a Boat - 0018 [flickr]

 

(More below the fold…)

Thirteen Little Rennie Things

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

2016-12-30 - Walking at Wallace State Park - 0057 [flickr]

Oh, my Rennie. Given the year (decade?) we’ve had (and we’re not even a quarter of the way through yet!), you have to live forever. Or at least to the ripe old age of twenty-three. Anything else might very well kill me. No pressure or anything. :P

On that note, I know that today is kind of blah, but I promise that we’ll celebrate your birthday-slash-adoption-day-a-versary in true We Rate Dogs style next week. Your uncle Mike is coming to visit, and there will be loads of walks, belly rubs aplenty, and, dog willing, maybe even a trip to the drive-in (or two or three). We will cram so much fun into so few days that you may never want to chase a ball again. Just kidding! Knock on wood! The day that happens will be a sad one indeed.

On that note: I love you! But I have calls to make, books to sort, and maybe even a few people to yell at. We shall see how the day progresses. Just know that I’m doing it all for you. You and Mags and Finnick, you’re the reason for my being. The things I’m trying to claw my way back for. You three are my everything.

Love you, forever and always,

– Mom

2016-07-26 - AM Sun With My Girls - 0025 [flickr]

 
(More below the fold…)

forever and a day

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

2015-11-23 - Late Morning Office Sun - 0030 [flickr]

Trish walked out into the dawn and wished she still believed in God. The sea was still lapping on the shore, the last stars were vanishing as the sky brightened. But the sky was empty of comfort. There was no loving God waiting, no heaven where Doug could find happiness. Just the cold contingent universe where things happened for random reasons nobody could understand. Nevertheless, while she was torn apart with grief for Doug she also felt at peace. His struggle was over. There was no more pain. And she had been with him and helped him. She had seen his whole life, from his birth to his death. “Everyone is born,” she said to the empty sky. “Everyone dies.”

It was cold comfort as time went on and she began to understand what missing him meant.

– Jo Walton, My Real Children

Oh, my little Peedee monster. You’ve been running around my head and heart so much these past days, weeks, months. As the one-year anniversary of your death approached, I found myself thinking about where we were a year ago: exploring new trails, sharing slushies at the drive-in, snuggling and reading comic books in the sun room. Trying to put on brave faces despite our anticipatory grief. And, now, mourning you like crazy.

I wonder what you’d think of our newest foster(s), and wish like hell I still had your shoulder to cry on.

It’s been a damn tough year. Jayne was diagnosed with cancer just four months after it claimed you, and she only last four months. Then there was the election. I went to bed that night feeling just like I did when we learned that Jayne had lung cancer: terrified for her, and for us; wondering just how far this thing would spread, and knowing that it’d be terrible no matter what. It’s made me miss you all the more, since of all the dogs, you were always the best at knowing when I needed comfort, and giving it in abundance. Oh, how I wish you were here.

We have a new foster doggy, a fat little Chihuahua who we’ll call Chunk. I think you’d like her; she’s pretty old and chill, gets along well with Rennie, Mags, and Finnick, but is not a fan of the cat. She likes to follow Lemmy around the house, barking at him. Even though she’s getting a bit bolder, I think Chunk is a little scared of him. Yesterday she darted at him from across the living room; Lemmy stayed put, and she realized too late that she couldn’t stop easily, thanks to the slippery floors. They came within an inch of colliding, and the look of sheer panic on her face was priceless. Lemmy, of course, remained unimpressed.

Regardless, I suspect you two would do some major bonding over policing the cat. (He’s gotten so bad, you don’t even know.)

2007-06-25 - Morning Playtime - 0023 [original]

Yesterday I spent the day decorating the house, even though I found it impossible to get into the mood. Dad and I put up the Christmas tree over the weekend; I think we just wanted to get it out of the way, and maybe we were also compensating for our late start last year?

We had comfort food – extra-cheesy mac & cheese – for dinner. Rennie’s become the designated dish licker in your absence, so Dad set her up with the pans in the bathroom. She was making such a racket that I sent him in there to hold the dishes for her; they took so long that I fell asleep on the couch, my face buried in Mags’s belly! (Like 45 minutes, for reals.) Then we watched that Nazi episode of Supernatural and spent an hour discussing/arguing about Trump before bed. Things became animated enough that you would’ve hid behind the tv before we were done. Luckily Chunk didn’t seem bothered. (I always worry how my loud talking will affect the fosters.) Good times.

Today is Thanksgiving, though I don’t feel much like celebrating. Luckily Dad’s volunteered to make dinner, while I start Chunk’s new exercise regimen. I see lots of trips to the park in our future! The weather’s finally turned chilly, but she’s got several extra layers of fat to keep her warm. You always had such thick, luxurious fur for that.

Dad and I are thinking about adopting another dog or two, but I don’t know. It feels…weird. Wrong. To have new dogs who never met you other four; who are traipsing into the middle of an existing pack, a broken pack. But then I don’t want to wait until everyone else is gone, either. For me or for the dogs. Whether Rennie outlives Mags or vice versa, the surviving dog will need a friend to fall back on, you know? Idk, maybe I just need to let it happen organically instead of forcing it; Ice Cream Star and Brutus fit in so well, I would’ve adopted them in a heartbeat if it was that kind of foster situation. Maybe fostering for a regular rescue group is the way to go. Try everyone on until we find the right fit.

You and Ralphie and Kaylee and Jayne left such large, gaping holes, I don’t even know how to started to fill everything back in. It’s just too much. I don’t want new dogs, I want the old gang, back together. Sigh. I am in such a mood lately, let me tell you.

And…I guess that’s it. I don’t know what else to say except I love and miss you. Last year was so impossibly difficult, but I’d do it all over again just to have some more time with you. Now more than ever.

2015-08-19 - Terrible Trio at Smithville Lake - 0098 [flickr]

Nineteen Little Ralphie Things

Monday, October 10th, 2016

2002-06-17 - RalphieAtTheGame-12

Oh, Ralphie.

Can you believe that fifteen years ago today we were celebrating your first birthday with us?

Last month was the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. It’s silly and incidental, but my memories of that day will forever be bound up in you. I was on the phone scheduling an appointment with the dermatologist when I heard the news. We must have gotten into poison ivy while walking the trails next to our house, and I was covered in the stuff. Well, not covered by today’s standards, but by Fairport only semi-rural standards. (Egads, I didn’t know what “covered in poison ivy” meant back then, with one dog and limited green space.) Anyway, the news coverage and photos of search and rescue dogs? Always makes me think of you, and our first years together. Before we became a pack of two and three and five and finally seven.

Your dad and I miss you so much, buddy. Whenever we get a new foster, I wonder what you’d think of her. I picture you with Daisy’s curlicue tail, and we compare the size of Brutus’s paws to yours. (I think they’re nowhere near as big, fwiw.) Every time we find a new trail to explore, my heart shatters for a split second, on account of we’ll never be able to walk it with you.

I don’t want to get all depressive on your big day, though. So instead of saying I miss you (again!), I’ll just say thank you: for being the first in an era, my Other Boyfriend, by little Ralphie Bear. The very first dog I adopted on my own; the very first dog all my own. For being the leader of our little pack, for nearly twelve years. They were the best. You were the best.

Love you so, so much,

– Mom

2002-06-17 - Kelly&RalphieAtTheGame-11

(More below the fold…)

Thirty Little Kaylee & Jayne Things

Friday, September 30th, 2016

2009-10-24 - Kaylee - 0013

Dear Kaylee –

Remember how last year I said that writing these annual posts had finally begun to feel more sweet than bitter? Well, this year was a bit of a struggle. Maybe because it’s just so soon after Jayne’s passing, but the prospect of penning this letter to you was daunting; a tangible thing that made my shoulders slump and my stomach sink.

You see, I worry that you’re slipping away from me. That every passing day takes with it a piece of you: a memory, an image, a smell, a fragment of thought. And no matter how small, it’s still you; all I have left of you, in point o’ facts. It hurts so much, this feeling that you’re like sand seeping through my fingers, no matter how tight and steady I squeeze them shut.

Some days I feel like Mags is overwriting you. Like I’ve so completely adopted her as your doppelgänger (but never your substitute! never that.) that her picture’s begun to ghost over yours.

Days like these, I wish I was an android with playback memory. Okay, I always wish I was an android; androids are awesome. But still. You know what I mean.

Anyway, I was feeling down – in general, because things have been the worst lately; and about this birthday letter, specifically – and then I read something rather lovely. Something that made me reevaluate all the Kaylee-based angst I’ve been grappling with.

“Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can’t even remember what she looks like. You know? Not really. I miss her, Subhi.” […]

I give Jimmie’s hand a squeeze. “It doesn’t matter what you see. I think it just matters what you feel.”

(from The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon)

You made me feel warm. Happy. Loved. Overcome. Content. Heroic. Awed. Grateful. Mothered.

You were home and light and joy. You were the best girl I ever had; my daemon; my soul mate. My wonder doggie. My avatar.

You’re still all of those things, of course, just more internalized than before. Those little lawn dances you used to do? Now they rock my heart.

I love you so much, sweet babygirl. And as long as I hold tight to that, a part of you will live on.

I am forever yours.

– Mom

 

2011-12-05 - Kaylee & Jayne - 0007

Sweet Jayne –

I’m so sorry. Sorry that we weren’t able to save you. Sorry that we put you through surgery and chemo, all for nothing. Sorry that you aren’t here with us to celebrate your twelfth birthday in person. Sorry that I didn’t make you my special project ten years sooner.

All those years, I thought I was doing the right thing: giving you your space, letting you come to us in your own time and way. And maybe I was. Doing the right thing, that is. Or maybe I could have pushed just a little harder.

I always worried, what the end would be like for you, our little outsider. If we’d be able to offer comfort and support, the way we did with Ozzy and Ralphie and Kaylee and Peedee. I think we did, though. I think you opened up to us, just a wee bit, in those last few months. You dug the drive-in, and sitting close to us while you napped, and even laying out in the sun with me. You even liked being pushed around in the stroller, though I’m beyond sad that we only got to use it twice.

It’s been two months and I still can’t bring myself to write about your death. I’m going through some hard-core avoidance. We got two new fosters the week after you died, and they’ve been keeping us busy. I thought they’d be a nice distraction, and they are both nice and a distraction…but I think maybe it was a bit too soon. Like maybe I should have given myself (and the other dogs) more time to process and grieve first. Because now I feel crazy stuck. The past six months just feels like one bad dream.

Anyway, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. Even though I haven’t been handling your passing terribly well, I want you to know that I love you and think about you all the time. It’s true, I never bonded with you the same way I did my other babies, and for that I’m sorry. But I do miss you, so, so much.

When I look at your little cave-bed in the corner of the office, I still half-expect to see you snoozing there. I catch myself leaving a book lying around, and then remember: with you gone, there’s no other dog who will steal it as a chew toy. Dad kept getting your bottle of Proin out of the cabinet for peanut butter time, until I removed it to your memory box (minus all but one of the pills, which we’ll donate to RBC). And every mealtime, I found myself setting a fourth bowl for you. Now, with Daisy and Brutus, we’re back to five bowls, which is hella weird.

It’s funny; when you were alive, it sometimes felt like you weren’t there: you existed on the periphery. But now that you’re gone, it’s like we feel your absence even more than we did your presence. Is that awful? I don’t know; I suspect it just is. Neither good nor bad, just how – who – you were. And I love you no matter what, with no preconditions. You’ll always be one of my girls.

That picture of Kaylee in the leopard getup may be my avatar, but the one of you wearing a Jayne hat? That’s my background. I glance at your sad Eeyore face roughly two hundred and eleven times a day.

Love always,

– Mom

(More below the fold…)

Twenty-Four Little Mags & Finnick Things

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

2015-10-11 - Mags-Approved Reads - 0005 [flickr]

Mags –

I LOVE YOU SO FUCKING MUCH, MY SWEET BABYGIRL! I can’t believe it’s only been five years since you noodle-walked into my life; it feels like you’ve owned a part of me forever.

There are so very many things I love about you, good and bad. Is that weird? If any other dog gave me love bites or barked at me to hand over peanut butter balls that they didn’t even want, it might not be so cute. But somehow you make it work. You are fierce and funny and so damn sweet, even when you’re trying not to be. I guess it helps that you’re old and have a bum hip. Like, how much damage could you do, even if you tried?

And it’s not like you do. Try to hurt me, that is. I know because occasionally I’ve been on the receiving end of your “real” bite – like when I try to trim your nails – and you pack a surprisingly mean one, for an old girl who’s missing a fair number of her teeth. Nope. All the mouthiness is just your way of professing your love for me. I {{nibble}} you right back.

I love how great you are with O-Ren, and with Finnick. We may only have three of you little buggers left, but it’s shiny that you all get on so well; you guys make a nice pack, as little as it may be. I even love how not-great you are with the fosters; it’s ironical, since it’s more or less how Kaylee treated you. Howdya like them apples?

Even so, I’m sorry the newest fosters are putting you out so. I’m starting to think that maybe we rushed back into it after Jayne’s passing. I thought that you guys could use a distraction, but perhaps quality time with mom would have been better. Plus Brutus is so damn fluffy and cute. It must be eating you alive.

But I love you and you know that and I’ll take a little extra time on your birthday to remind you of that fact. You’re my sweet little babygirl, my lovable little shithead. My Mags and Cheese, my Mad Mags; my Mags and Other Monsters, and my Baked Magsaroni. My sun and stars, my little spitfire. The one and only dog I photograph next to serendipitously-titled literature, much to your annoyance.

Wishing you a happy fifth adoption day anniversary (and an even happier thirteenth birthday), and crossing my fingers and toes for five more.

– Mom

 

2015-07-29 - Playing Dressup - 0046 [flickr]

Dear Finnie Boy,

I never would have guessed that when Kelly called me five years ago about two dogs in a shelter, that I was about to meet my constant companion for the next five years. You were called unadoptable and we already had five dogs, but we did the crazy thing and took you and Mags home with us. I don’t remember how many days it took, but soon you were following me around, curling up next to me on the couch, curling up on the chair in my office, and curling up next to my hip at night.

I’ve loved all the dogs equally, but you and I are a pair. I could be sad and bummed out, and you’ll still want to lick my face like nothing is wrong in the world. You don’t mind if we watch a bad Sasquatch show, as long as I pet you. I’m still the only one who can pick you up with without a freakout. We’ve been best friends for almost every day you’ve lived with us, and we’ll be best friends even after we’re both gone.

How much code have you watched me write? How many times have you heard me lay down on a bed and immediately break into a run to go find me? How many nights did you sit on my lap while I played video games? I wish I had counted all of that and more, and maybe that would approach a way to quantify how much you mean to me. But you know, I bet it would fall so very, very short.

–Dad

(More below the fold…)

Fourteen Little Peedee Things

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

2015-08-30 - The Birthday Boy & His Cake - 0005 [flickr]

Oh, my crazy little birthday boy, I miss you so much. Even more so since going through a decade-plus of pictures, looking for the perfect shots to round out this year’s list. Which was actually kind of fun, despite the heartache and pending tears. The Summer of Peedee was pretty freaking awesome, you know? I’m so, so glad we were able to give that to you.

Jayne passed away just over a month ago. She was diagnosed with cancer four months after it claimed you. We got the first call on O-Ren’s birthday, while we were driving out to Smith’s Fork Park for a walk, as a matter of fact. What is it with us getting bad news on birthdays and anniversaries? Anyway, she didn’t have anywhere near the run that you did; it was four short months from beginning to end. Surgery, chemo, last hurrahs, all crammed into one too-short season. I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. It makes me appreciate what we had with you all the more.

Right now one of our fosters – I’ll call her Daisy – is perched on my lap, right where you used to sit, long, gangly legs be damned. She and her brother Brutus arrived the week after Jayne left the building. Mags almost immediately developed diarrhea, and now Finnick and Brutus have it. So far there are two types of worm infestations in the pack and counting. It’s been a time.

Anyway, Daisy. She has a stinky butt and a nosy disposition; I think you might like her. Or maybe not. You were kind of over puppies and their puppy shit by the end.

One day Rennie started playing with Brutus. You know how when dogs (that’s you!) find a dead animal or some stank poo and roll into it with their necks? That’s what she’s been doing with Brutus. Anyway, Daisy saw Brutus getting all the attention, and inserted herself into the middle like little sisters tend to do. Now she’s under the mistaken impression that she and Rennie are friends. She keeps backing her ass up into Rennie’s face. Rennie snaps at her and she tries again, like it’s part of the game. I kind of feel sorry for her; she just wants to be friends!

On second thought, I’m 99% certain that you’d disapprove. I can just picture you now, scolding her from your perch on the back of the couch.

I think about you a lot, is my point. How you’d react to the fosters; whether B.’s balls (sterilization TBA) might mesmerize you the way they do Finnick. How you’d pick up every parasite in the house, on account of your poo fetish. How nice it’d be to snuggle into your thick, wolf-like fur while I cry my stupid eyes red over Jayne.

Confession time: I sleep with your talking chimp at night (he holds onto my hair bands for me!) and take him to the drive-in with us in your memory. (Daisy is terrified of all your talking toys. Now THAT is something I bet you’d love to see!) That’s how much I miss you, big guy. You’ve left a hole the size of which I couldn’t even begin to anticipate, back when this all started.

I love you so much, Peeds. If there’s one thing I’d want you to know, it’s that I always carry you with me: you and Ralphie and Kaylee and now Jayne. Together, forever.

2006-05-13 - DogsOutside0056

And these are just fourteen of the reasons why. (A drop in the proverbial bucket, okay.)

(More below the fold…)

(Not-So-) Happy Ralphieversary!

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

X-Mas 2015 - In Memoriam (Ralphie) (cropped)

Oh, Ralphie. I miss you so much.

It’s been a tough three years since you left me. Kaylee followed you soon after, and then not a year later, Peedee was diagnosed with cancer. He put up a really good fight, but last November we had to say goodbye to him too. He was only thirteen. Thirteen! Of all you guys, I thought he’d live the longest.

Pictures of happy young Peedee, with his huge goofy grin, still make me cry. Pictures of you two (or three!) together are even worse. Sometimes I wish I believed in heaven, or an afterlife. Images of you guys snuggled together, running through fields and chewing on Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, taking care of one another in my absence, sure would help. But the past is a kind of comfort too. Everything that made you you is gone, dispersed into the atmosphere to form new creatures, but your memory will always live on in my heart. Some days it’s not nearly enough; and yet it kind of has to be.

2008-03-12 - Dogs Outside - 0028

And now we’re going through the same thing with Jayne. She had surgery, and then chemo, but she’s having a much harder time with it than Peedee did. We got some really bad news this morning. Things aren’t looking good. Probably we should stop scheduling vet appointments on anniversaries and birthdays. It was on the two-year anniversary of Kaylee’s death that Peedee got his death sentence. And we found about Jayne’s possible cancer on Rennie’s birthday. Sigh. How am I supposed to deal with that?

I wish I could bottle that feeling of nervous excitement I felt fifteen years ago. There’s nothing quite like welcoming a new dog into your home; knowing that you’re about to meet your new best friend and constant shadow. The love of your goddamn life. I’d give anything to go back there and do it all again. All this pain and heartache is worth it … though in times like these, it can be so, so easy to lose sight of that.

I wish this was a happier letter, but it is what it is. I miss you so fucking much, my little bear. You may be gone, but I keep you alive every single day.

P.S. It kinda sorta breaks my heart that I don’t have any new photos to add to these posts; instead I just have to keep repurposing old ones.

2016-07-14 - Ralphie's Adoption Day

###

Previous years: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2011 | 2008

Some anniversaries just suck ass.

Friday, May 6th, 2016

It was three years ago today that we had to start saying our goodbyes to Ralphie. He was in renal failure and, after several days in the hospital, wasn’t showing any signs of improvement … we were able to give him a few awesome last days, at least, filled with treats and tummy rubs and afternoons sunbathing at the park. He was tired but happy, and basked in the attention we lavished on him. He died at home, three days later, on my 35th birthday.

Two days later we found out that Kaylee was sick too; also from renal failure, in a crazy-making coincidence. She passed away a few weeks later, on May 21st. It was a surprise – she had a stroke and lapsed into a coma – but also not, because though we were treating her, or trying to anyway, it was a struggle. I wish Kaylee’s last days had been as wonderful as Ralphie’s; she deserved that much, and more (so much more!). I try not to think of them too much.

It was two years later, to the very day, that we learned of Peedee’s relapse; that the cancer had stopped responding to the chemo and the best we could hope for was two good months, three if we were super-lucky. He lived six months and two days, almost all of them healthy (relatively speaking) and happy and spoiled rotten. God, how I miss his goofy smile and stupid pink tongue and soft, pink fur. His bark and excitability and spirit. His intellect and empathy. I could use his shoulder for a good cry right now, I tell you what.

I’ve been missing Kaylee and Ralphie and Peedee so, so much this week and month. I wish I could strike May from the calendar and never think of it again. But I can’t so instead I’m gonna watch this Heinz commercial on repeat because it makes me grin like a weirdo every time it plays on the tv. Also, standing in the receiving line of a wiener dog stampede is how I’d like to go out. (Though none of these guys is nearly as cute as my Ralphie Bear.) Someone make this happen please.

2011-02-21 - Dogs! - 0057

Thanks for the memories.

Friday, March 18th, 2016

2015-08-31 - Going to the Drive-In - 0022 [flickr]

When I was sixteen, a work friend of my father’s got us tickets to see The Rolling Stones. He worked for Coke (or was it Pepsi?), and I think they were sponsoring the concert? Anyway, they were primo seats – my friend Heather and I were able to muscle our way up to the fifth row – and we even carpooled with him. (To Syracuse, maybe?) My parents went too, but they hung out with the other adults. It was pretty flippin’ awesome, all around. I still have the concert tee, all these years later.

My mom was really big on thank you cards, and this was an instance where I actually agreed with her policy. Of my own accord, I wrote him a thank you note, attached it to a pricey box of chocolates (not vegan, sadly), and tasked my father with its delivery. Apparently the Coke guy was so impressed that he shared it with his class (I think he taught a class, anyway; or was it his employees, maybe? I forget!) as an example of how to behave in the business world.

After Ralphie and Kaylee died, I thought about bringing a basket of home-made (vegan!) cookies to the staff and doctors at Blue Pearl, where we were regulars for most of May. Everyone was so kind to us, and I wanted to show them that it didn’t go unappreciated. (Especially that one vet tech who helped us carry Kaylee’s body to the car and then hugged me and let me cry on her shoulder. If you know me at all, you know just how damn out of character that is. I must have been a hot mess.) But between the grief and the heat, I never quite got around to it, and I still kind of regret it to this day.

2015-10-25 - Going to the Drive-In - 0038 [flickr]

These anecdotes bring us to Peedee. The Summer of Peedee, to be exact, in which the I-70 and Twin drive-ins played a prominent role. Maybe this letter is a little silly or sentimental, but it’s coming from the right place. As in, straight from my heart.

After Peedee relapsed, we started taking him to the drive-in with us…partially because we wanted to try new things with him, but also because we didn’t want to leave him home alone. (And I don’t think we did, not even once!) I was so nervous, since we’d tried it when he was younger and it was an epic failure. I thought for sure he’d make a scene and we’d be asked to leave. But he was okay and, perhaps more importantly, they were okay with him. The I-70 and Twin are really very dog-friendly; not only do they allow dogs, but they keep the ticket windows stocked with dog treats and sometimes host dog-themed events during the day.

I’ve learned not to take this for granted, particularly in light of the drive-in that opened in St. Joseph a few years back – and explicitly disallowed dogs. (They only lasted a season or two. You do the maths.)

Anyway, to get the point: they helped us create some really special memories with Peedee, and I’m forever indebted to them for that. And it certainly can’t hurt to tell them as much.

2015-07-21 - Going to the Drive-In - 0061 [flickr]

The 2016 season opens tonight, and though Peedee won’t be there with me in person, you can bet his spirit will do a little happy dance in my heart.

(More below the fold…)

I’ll always Gotcha, Peedee. (aka, “The Peedee Post”)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

X-Mas 2015 - In Memoriam (Peedee)

Oh, Peedee. I can’t believe it’s been thirteen years since we met. I wish I could say that I remember it like it was yesterday, but I’m getting on in years and my memory isn’t quite what it used to be. Plus, there’s the hazy cloud of grief that’s been hanging over my head … since your death, and those of Ralphie and Kaylee. Some days it makes it impossible to think. Like swimming through dark molasses, half blind and sluggishly slow.

So no, not like yesterday. But clear enough. I still remember the moment a volunteer (your foster mom?) placed you in my lap. You were so silly and squirmy and full of crazy puppy energy. We went to the adoption event looking for a slightly older companion for Ralphie. But the second I wrapped my arms around you, I knew you were coming home with us.

It still hurts my heart, all these years later, to think that we ever considered giving you back. Ralphie got sick of your antics about a week in, remember? And us being the young and (somewhat) inexperienced dog people we were, we kind of panicked. But things got better. So, so much better. You and Ralphie ended up besties.

2003-08-15 - Peedee&Ralphie-16 [1024x768]

(Ralphie and Peedee and Rennie – I’ll always think of you guys as the original three. Even though there was less time separating Kaylee and Jayne’s adoption from Rennie’s than between, say, you and Ralphie or you and Rennie, you three stick together like glue in my mind. Maybe it’s because you three all got on so well. Kaylee mostly fit in, except that Ralphie all but ignored her. Like he thought two friends was enough and refused to acknowledge the later adoptees. And then the same thing happened with Mags and Finnick: Mags integrated rather quickly, while Finnick is still fighting to, much like Jayne. Three and five and seven, that’s how you all appear in my mind. You all reference each other, in a weird way, and maybe that makes each loss hurt all the more.)

The sense of shame and regret lingers, though, especially now that you’re gone. To think that we almost never got to know you – it’s too much to bear. Even with the cancer. I’d go through it all a million times over; you’re worth that, and so much more.

It’s been nearly four months since we lost you, and it’s hasn’t gotten much easier. Take this post, for example: I meant to write it months ago, but kept dragging my heels. It all feels so final, you know? Talking about it. Admitting that you’re really, truly gone. That those last six months went by just as quickly as I feared they would.

I’ve been holding a lot in, so this is bound to be long and rambly. Then again, you always were the best listener. Humor your old mom, okay?

(More below the fold…)

Twelve Little Rennie Things

Friday, March 11th, 2016

2016-02-19 - Rennie - 0003 [flickr]

Eleven years ago today Shane and I drove up to Animal Haven (now the Great Plains SPCA) in Merriam to meet a few dogs available for adoption. There was Sir Wagsalot (actually I think his name was Wagsley, but I like my version better), a beagle mix who looked friendly enough but had just arrived and wasn’t quite ready to be adopted out yet. Then there was Rachel, a rat terrier who was so disagreeable around other small dogs that she got a whole outdoor run to herself. Her kennel had one of those igloo-type dog houses, plopped down right in the center of the yard; I remember when we pulled up, she was perched atop it like she was queen of the world. And last but not least was Rennie, our lukewarm porridge: just right. Ready to go ASAP and a little ball of friendly energy.

Trouble was, we weren’t the only family interested, and the staff wanted to introduce her to Ralphie and Peedee before taking her home. So we raced back to Stilwell – a twenty-minute drive one way – to grab the little buggers.

Ralphie was totes chill about the whole thing, as per usual, but Peedee. Peedee! He was soooooo nervous. Ralphie only spent one night in the pound before he was snatched up by DRNA and put right into a foster home – so maybe he didn’t remember enough to be scared by a visit to an animal shelter? But then Peedee went right into foster care too; I don’t think he really had any negative experiences to color his perceptions either. Probably it all came down to Peedee being a high-strung, overly anxious bundle of nerves. (Yet another thing he and I shared in common.)

So anyway, Ralphie went right up to Rennie and started checking her out, while Peedee hid behind me and tried to retreat back to the car. All while Rennie chased him around with no small amount of curiosity and excitement. He was terrified of her! Little ten-pound Rennie, scrappy and sniffling with kennel cough. Even back then, they were so cute together.

Of course, you all know how the story ends: we brought Rennie home and she and Peedee and Ralphie all got to be the best of friends. And then Kaylee came along and adopted her as a porcine daughter; and when she passed away, Mags stepped in to fill the role. She’s a little bossy and doesn’t have Kaylee’s curvaceous marshmallow shape, but I know that Rennie’s happy to have her just the same. I sure am.

Here’s the part where I share twelve little things I love about Rennie: one for each year of her life. I’ll keep adding to this list annually, until I run out – so basically from now until the day I die. Because Rennie? She’s all kinds of awesome.

2016-02-18 - Digging With Rennie & Jayne - 0062 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)