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.

Maggie sitting on Sorka

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

To Sleep…Perchance to Write

A fellow-writer told me recently about the fantastic writing she composes shortly before falling asleep.

Does that ever happen to me? Of course.

The bed is so comfortable, I’m in that halfway stage between wakefulness and oblivion, and there’s all this stream-of-consciousness writing going on. I see where the work in progress is going, I draft excellent dialog, I think of the best blog post…

And I know I should get up and write it down.

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Most of the time I simply roll over and dip into sleep, convinced I’ll remember all that fantastic writing because it’s so…fantastic. How could I forget?

I wake up in the morning completely clueless.

There was one time I forced myself out of bed to write a blog post. Oddly enough, that was the post that resulted in the Freshly Pressed award.

There is something powerful in the ‘crossing places’ to borrow a phrase from author Ellie Griffiths. In her book with that title, she’s referring to the salt marsh, the place between land and sea. This time between wakefulness and sleep is the same. A place of transition. So it’s not surprising that a brain is freer to create. The daily grind is over, the body is relaxed, the breathing is almost to a trance phase, and the environment is soft, dark, and quiet.

Well, except for the dog across my feet, snoring.

But you get what I mean.

So if I know that place is a creative space, and I know that if I get up and write the words down the writing will be good, why don’t I get out of bed?

Well, the obvious reason is sheer laziness. Who wants to crawl out of a comfortable bed into a chilly room? Who wants to disturb that poor old dog?

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Strider and Art (don’t tell Art I posted this)

A bigger reason is that there have been other times when I have jotted down notes on the paper every writer is supposed to keep by their bed for just these moments. And while that one time I got out of bed and the writing worked, there have been many, many times when, in the morning I looked at the jotted notes and was clueless.

Whatever the words from that crossing place meant at the time I was falling into sleep, by the light of day the meaning was gone. Poof. Gibberish. I’m left holding the scrap of paper thinking ‘what the h…?’.

But for my friend who started this thought process, I advised her to get out of bed and write it down. Because you never know. Gibberish for a thousand nights, stellar writing for one night. Isn’t it worth it for that one night?

Does that mean I’m getting out of bed tonight? Afraid not. After all, there’s that dog.

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Skywalker von Stowe (aka Luke)