Dog Stories

I recently met a big dog while at a craft fair when he broke loose from his home to come join the party. He roamed freely through people and booths, happily slobbering and shedding on everyone. When he reached us, he leaned heavily onto my lap, tongue hanging, full of dog joy in all its no-manners-no-shame-no-guilt glory. He obviously cared nothing for the fact that he wasn’t obeying leash laws.

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Luke, the worrier of the family

When the owners found him, he didn’t want to leave the party. He flopped, boneless, to the ground, refusing to move. They tugged, they pleaded, they lifted portions. Nothing worked. He was a limp rag. Until someone came with treats. Then he agreed to go home. Since I wasn’t the dog owner, I found it hilarious. I hope to meet him again.

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Canine soul-mate aka Strider

He reminded me of an old dog named Jack who freely roamed the town. If someone was walking their dog on a leash, he went along. If kids were out on recess, he joined them in the playground. If there was something interesting going on at the town hall, he’d show up to watch. And if there was traffic, he’d lay in the middle of the road to keep an eye on who was going where. He was also the dog who sat in the woods and rain with me when our own dog was lost; a story some of you have heard.

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Jack and his kids

This past weekend I watched an older lady making her way down the road with a daschund mix draped over her shoulders. She struggled with balancing him and as I watched, he began to slide. I caught him just as he was hanging, suspended by his collar and leash, down her back. Once on the ground he was full of energy, dancing around and getting attention.

She told me he’d been exhausted moments earlier and she’d had to carry him in order to make it home. As she walked away I heard her say ‘If you’re so full of piss and vinegar, you can just walk, mister.’

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Escaped the fence and then didn’t know what to do

That reminded me of two very old, fat dogs my parents had. I would take Jello and Moose for walks and they did fine going, but as soon as I turned around and they realized the walk was over, they would collapse. I’d end up walking home with one sausage under each arm. They never did lose weight.

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Jello before he grew up and got fat

There was the terrified dog in the woods that several of us spent weeks hiking food to before it trusted us enough to follow us out.

There were the two Border Collies sitting on the side of the road in the pouring rain, next to a fifty-pound bag of dog food, patiently waiting for someone, anyone, to explain why their person had just dumped them in the middle of the woods. We found a home for them.

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Sorka – who broke the rescue agency’s record for how long a dog needed a behavioral therapist

There was the terrified dog hiding under our cabin. When we showed up, she charged out with full body wiggles, and you could almost hear her shouting ‘Hello! I’m yours!’. She joyfully lived with friends for many years.

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The puppy, Maggie, sitting on Sorka. Yes, a puppy. Maybe 6 months.

I remember an ancient, fossilized Yorkie with no teeth and collapsed joints so it walked on its elbows rather than paws. His owner was an elderly woman who had been in a car accident. We were on the fire department and the old thing was under the car when we arrived. He went home with us until the family came to get him, and in spite of being old and smelly and decrepit, he was happy and sweet. He was so well-preserved he’s probably still around.

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Goofy Vaila with her big ears

So many, many dogs have been in our lives. Some staying, some just passing through. I could easily continue on with these stories. Dogs uncouth, misbehaving, disobedient, peeing on stuff, shedding on everything, barking, pulling on leashes, rolling in dead salmon, eating nasty stuff, farting with blissful disregard, scratching, licking themselves in private areas in public places…I keep saying ‘no more!’.

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Strider again, not quite a year old

But…life would be so dull without them.

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Luke and Arthur…photo chewed by Luke

Universal Sadness

It’s funny how the universe tosses things to you in lumps, almost as if somewhere, someone is saying ‘the theme for this week is going to be…’.

Sometimes it’s things like dishwashers. You know – you make the mistake of pricing a dishwasher online and suddenly all your feeds are filled with ads for dishwashers. And every delivery truck you pass on the road is carrying boxes of dishwashers. You see them everywhere for a week or so and then they’re gone, as if people quit buying dishwashers.

It’s like that when you’ve lost someone, too. There are universe themes where, for several days, you seem to see them everywhere you look.

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This week has been like that. I went to the local grocery store and there was Sam, standing in the produce aisle.

Except it wasn’t Sam.

Then I saw him walking down the street in shorts and flip-flops, earbuds in.

Except it wasn’t Sam.

Then I got online and in a grief resource page I belong to, a person I don’t know posted about how lately they saw their child everywhere.

And then Sam’s mom said she’d seen Sam in a young firefighter she passed, and how emotionally hard that had been for her.

Obviously there’s been a lot of sadness this week. But at the same time, it’s strange how this comes in waves. Why now?

What happens in the world around us that we are all having the same sort of grieving week? Not just those of us connected to Sam, but others, too. Is it that odd sense of days shortening, seasons changing? Even though it’s only July and too early, there have been days this week that felt like fall. Is it the melancholy moment of change, of the earth turning toward sleep, of darker mornings?

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Or is it simply how grief works? That some days are good and some days are hard and some weeks there are reminders surrounding you that are bittersweet?

Or maybe it’s just our loved ones giving us a gentle nudge, reminding us that they are still with us. To not forget them.

Whatever the reason, I’m not alone this week. There are people around me seeing their loved ones, suffering through that brief second of joy when we recognize the one who is gone, before reality smacks us in the heart.

I’m with you, wherever you are. And I understand.

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The husband on the river Sam loved to kayak.

Earthquakes

We had a small earthquake this morning. I slept through it.

Coincidentally enough, I’m releasing a new book that deals with a major earthquake. I felt, momentarily, as if Mother Nature was either giving me a little free publicity, or giving me a little shake, saying ‘don’t do it!’.

THIS DEEP PANIC ebook

I did it anyway. E-book now available for Kindle; print coming soon.

But events like this always bring to mind preparedness and balancing the need to be prepared with being paranoid.

We choose to be prepared but are far from paranoid. We have bug-out bags in our cars. We have jugs of water in our freezer. Think about it – a jug of ice can be put in your fridge to help keep things cold when the power goes out. And when it thaws you have drinking water. We also have little bags hanging by our doors that have the basics inside so you can grab them as you run out the door and at least have a flashlight.

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The granite here doesn’t roll like ‘down below’. It slams around instead.

Of course a couple weeks ago we realized every single flashlight in our house and our vehicles had dead batteries. Having flashlights is being prepared. Having dead batteries is us not being paranoid.

I like a stocked up pantry, a full freezer, and shelves filled with home-canned goods. That’s being prepared.

We’ll be able to live on home-canned raspberry jam for years. That’s being not paranoid.

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Old photo of the cabin, but we still have, and use, the lamps. Didn’t keep the cobwebs though.

Earthquakes are like any other natural disaster in that it’s always a gamble. Do you roll the dice believing it will never happen in your lifetime? Do you roll the dice hoping you’ll be prepared but when the quake hits it won’t be that bad? Or do you believe it’s just a matter of time, it’s going to be horrible, and you’re going to need to live without aid for a long time?

I used to create disaster recovery plans for local government. I can tell you most definitely that all that publicity about having food and water for three days is not true. Three days is nothing.

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Natural water sources; the advantage of not living in cities.

A few years ago a bridge on Interstate 5 was damaged and the freeway was closed down. Fixing it, even with emergency assistance, took THREE WEEKS. So if you think help is coming within three days when you live any distance at all from major traffic corridors, you’re going to lose that roll of the dice.

I don’t want to be paranoid, to think about these things, or lay awake at night because of fear. But when these little tremors rattle you a bit, it’s time to pause and ask if you still believe that a natural disaster won’t happen in your lifetime.

After the tremor this morning I also have a new worry. My son asked if we felt it and said his apartment building was rolling. Which reminded me he lives over an hour away in cheaply built apartment buildings, and we wouldn’t be able to get to him in a hurry.

And I’m willing to roll the dice that he has dead batteries in the bug-out bag we gave him for Christmas a few years ago. He’s prepared like his parents.

But not paranoid.

Arthur Lookout Pt 4