Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thoughts on a dog's life...

I grew up with dogs. From the time I was born my family had a dog. The first was Doc. He was some sort of Lab-mixish pup who was given to my mother back when she was teaching special ed swimming. He was a tiny puppy being fed on hamburgers and other non-dog food. By the time I can remember he was a very mellow, protective old guy. I have memories of waking up in the middle of the night as a tiny girl to find doc asleep beside my bed. Unfortunately, we lived on a horrible street out in the country where people drove as fast as they wanted and my family lost several dogs to traffic out there.

The last of the family dogs of my childhood is still alive. She is currently 16, deaf as a post, debatably blind, always hungry, incredibly affectionate and 100% Lab. We got her from some friends when I was ten after our last lab (Sophie) was hit and killed while we were away on vacation. (Worst birthday ever). From day one Cede (Mercedes) has been the best dog I have ever known. Other than the typical puppyhood nonsense of eating only one shoe or stealing food from the counter she was well behaved and incredibly affectionate. When I moved away to college my parents moved to Maine. When I transferred to a new school and moved to an apartment in the city I decided to take Cede with me. She was such a well behaved pooch that she single-handedly turned the building into a pet friendly place. The owner, a stereotypical "maine-ah", was in love with her. By now she was 11 and was a dream dog for the single girl in the city. I walked her several times a day rain, snow or shine without a leash. She didn't like to get too far away from the hand that feeds her. I was also nannying for a little boy at the time and she was amazing with him too. As he crawled and learned to walk and talk they became quite the little pair of buddies. Cede would wait for Milo to put the cracker down on her bed before she would take anything from him in spite of his constantly wandering around with a half eaten cracker or banana in his hand. It convinced me that raising babies with middle aged dogs was something I wanted to do for my own family some day.

When I moved to the West Coast Cede had been diagnosed with cancer and had been quite ill. I had made the heartbreaking decision to leave her behind with my mom and her partner for fear that she may not survive the summer cross country journey in a pick-up truck with no AC. I cried and cried and cried and kissed her goodbye sure that this would be the last time I would see her. It has been 2 1/2 years now and Cede is notably less spry than she was as a pup or even a year ago. She decides that sometimes she doesn't want to walk down the steps to the yard and thus pooping on the porch is a fine substitute. She was the summer camp dog this summer as my mom went to be the Camp Nurse. She wandered down to the water and into the dining room and even got so excited she pooped there too. It didn't seem to deter anyone from falling in love with her. Cede is still, and likely always will be, the best dog I ever had. She was my best friend and served as an important link for my family during the period around my parent's divorce. I feel badly that eventually, my mom will have the impossible duty to decide when Cede has reached her time. However, I couldn't be more grateful for the 16 years I have been able to share with her. In Buddhist terms my dog taught me true bodhichitta or loving kindness.

These days the Hubbs and I have 2 pups of our own. Gwen is a 7 year old Kelpie who has been with Garth for 5 years now. She is brilliant and skilled in psychological warfare on anything younger or less brilliant than herself. She is also the biggest counter surfer and Houdini in history. When we moved several months ago she freed herself from a harness at the store and took herself on a little tour of the new neighborhood. I ran home to find her proudly sitting on the front step all wiggles and "Hey Food Lady, I found the new house! Aren't you proud Food Lady?".

Our other four-legger has only been ours for about 9months now. I found her on the Internet one night and knew from first sight that she would be the next member of our little family. Her name is Luna AKA: LuLu, Lunatic, Stinky, Baddie, Little One, Pickle Head. She was full of barking, begging, craziness and boarder-collie energy when we got her. She was a wild thing and we were not certain it would ever get much better. We had just about resigned ourselves to a dog's lifetime of pure cattle dog insanity when out of nowhere several weeks ago she turned 2. It was sudden as a thunderstorm. All of the sudden she has mellowed and become a dream dog. Don't get me wrong, she still has her moments but over all, these days she is mellow and sweet and only barks when she needs to poop, eat or is being tortured by her big sis. She has even decided that if push comes to shove and she has to have an accident in the house, she will do it in the bathroom on the linoleum floor or as she did in the cabin we rented last week in the SHOWER! Brilliant! So here's to Luna and all the dogs out there who people love both for a lifetime and suddenly and unexpectedly. Here's to dogs. Happy Birthday Little Stinky.

In fitness news Day 3:
Aqua-jogged/swam 60min
Pilates 40min

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