The Cards

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WHOA. WHOA.  WHOA!  This post is by no means about the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team (who just so happens are often referred to as simply “The Cards”).  I live outside of Chicago and learned I am supposed to despise StL especially during the summer months…and maybe early fall.

What I was trying to tell you about before I was so rudely interrupted by The Scribe, was the cards we recently received from “The Lap of Love” and our vets (who I refer to as NBAC).

The first arrived a few days after Sammy left for college and came from the team who helped him move.  The card had some very lovely personal words from the attending vet, Dr. K.

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They also posted this lovely tribute to Sammy on their Facebook page:

Although part of the services “The Lap” provides is contacting my regular veterinary clinic about his graduation, we stopped by on the following Saturday morning to drop off some goodies and a letter my Mother wrote to them (which was quite touching about all they did for Sammy, as well as our other pets.  They have always gone way above and beyond anything that could be expected to care for us fur babies).  She also sent a nice thank you email to Lap of Love who were just fantastic.  While she wrote these I slept with The Scribe while it rained rained rained outside.  One thing we have learned since Sammy moved on is that I am really good at sleeping!  And btw I am also housetrained (maybe mostly), but this story about me being disparaged is for another post.  Back to sleeping.  I am like super good.  But I digress…on the way home from NBAC, we stopped by Starbucks and I got a Pupaccino.  This time I didn’t have to share it, which was in one way really sad, but in another way I was able to polish it off in one go (although this time it was a smaller cup…what???).  When we got home, this card from the NBAC was in our mailbox with a special heartfelt message from Dr. K. (not the same K that I previously referred to).

To be honest, I’d give up all the Pupaccinos and  Pup-Peronis  in the world (I would have to think about steak) to have Sammy back and to be his young(ish) self, but we all knew he was no longer himself (even though he could still break out that killer grin whenever he wanted) and I realize there may be no better place to find oneself than college.  Take care my big brother.  Looking forward to running with you and the rest of the pack in the far off distant future.  My Mom is insisting I add “super very long” to the words distant future.  I will try to do as she says, even though that is bad English.

The Tempest

P.S.  Sammy may be fading from our lives, but not our hearts.  Our house seems empty, but our memories are definitely full.  AND…I finally ate both meals the last two days and am mostly back to my old self #TempiTrouble.  I think I am doing okay.

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The Summit

Today I called a meeting of the minds to discuss the future of our pack.  This happened to coincided with parents cleaning out and washing our crates…as well as me.  The later I was not particular happy with but it did loosen up a bunch of fur that later in the day I was appreciative had been removed as the temperatures SOARED and humidity peaked.  Anyhow, for some reason, over the past year or so all my toys had accumulated in Sammy’s crate.  Therefore, when the washing commenced I realized I had a golden opportunity in front of me to gather my friends to discuss the following questions:

  1. Is the life of an only dog preferable to one in which I share the attention of my parents?
  2. If not, how long before I get a sibling?
  3. When the time is right,
    1. a) will I prefer a brother or a sister?
    2. b) what breed?
    3. c) how intelligent should they be (remember after I joined the pack, my mother said if we ever added another pup it would be dumb as a stump)?
    4. d) how old should said dog be?
      1. A puppy for me to train?
      2. An older dog like Sam?
      3. An aged match hound?

As you may have noticed, if the majority of us voted for the single dog household, this would be a very short meeting.

As the Chairdog, I called the crew to order and we started with question #1:

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As you can see, my peeps were rapt with my leadership and eloquence during my opening comments.

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Toni, the meerkat (remember my slacker daughter?), may have gotten a little distracted by my Mom’s presence in the background but the rest of them couldn’t take their beady little eyes off me. [https://montanamomentstrn.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/a-life-of-leisure/]

Afterwards, we all sat together and posed for the traditional post-conference photo.  At first I was a bit peeved at Dad (who was pretending to be the official photographer for the summit) and I looked away as I felt my hair hadn’t been properly attended to after my bath.

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But then I remembered as Chairdog I had a duty to the peeps.  So after a little help from the makeup crew, I was ready to shine and OWN IT.  Like I always do.

The outcome of the meeting?

Well that is a story for a future blog.

Happy Fathers Day!

The Tempest

 

Weather Report: June 9,2018

Part I:

“The waiting is the hardest part”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tick, Tick…

Saturday was a tough day for the pack.  To see Sammy get all his stuff together and get ready to head off to college was nothing less than heart breaking.   But none of us could deny all the hard work and studying he did to achieve this accomplishment.  We always thought his intelligence was underappreciated by the college review boards but we always clapped (inwardly) when he was denied acceptance into any schools.   However, yesterday it was clear he was ready so we all sat around and supported him as he transitioned to the next stage of his existence.

As it turned out, the vet arrived first while dad was outside “talking” to our next door neighbor as the neighbor was unpacking his car with bags of mulch.   Dad initially went out to cut down some of the irises around the tree in our extension when the neighbor asked how things were going.  Both my parents had spent the last few hours piddling around with one meaningless task after another while Sammy and I puzzled over their odd behavior.  They kept trying to get Sammy to hang with them outside in the backyard since despite the forecast for rain all day, the skies had cleared, the sun came out and the heat index increased beyond Sammy’s sensitivities.  I myself found a nice spot in the sun to relax.

What was my point?  Oh yeah.  The vet arriving.  Just prior to this while Dad was on one of these seemingly time wasting chores and mom was sitting on the chair next to Sammy, the neighbor asked how things were going but when Dad went to talk, rather than words coming out only blubbering, sobbing nonsense (and gesticulation toward the house and possibly the name of Sammy) came out of his mouth.   The neighbor, in his patient way (he has three children), waited until dad could compose himself to actually articulate that we were waiting for the vet to come and help Sam off to school.  Having two dogs (along with the 3 kids), the neighbor was appropriately sympathetic and compassionate even going so far to ask if there was anything they could get or do for our pack in this difficult time.   Dad, finally, got his emotions in check and said, “thank you, but we are going to be OK.”  They then started talking about the neighbors mulching effort, dad offering up our pitch fork, followed by general guy talk  about yard maintenance when the car pulled up with the vet inside.   All of a sudden Dad went from coherent (at least for him) to a gasping, sobbing mess again.   Our neighbor got the gibberish Dad was speaking – did I mention he has a 2 year old? – and excused my Dad as he went to meet the vet.

Then one of my favorite people, who isn’t but should be, a part of the pack arrived.  Our beloved pet sitter/dog walker Ms. A.   We met her when mom panicked after about 1 day of having Sammy and Banshee and did a Google search for pet sitters.  So, she knew Sammy almost as long as he was a member of our pack.  Dad went out to meet Ms. A., and again he went non-verbal, and pointed at the house and was able to choke out that Sam was still here and we were waiting until everyone was ready to send him off on his next adventure.

We were able to get Sammy on his Big Barker bed and get comfortable next to Mom.  Dad squeezed in next to them on the mini bed which was originally intended to be mine until I about doubled in size from when they got me.  Maybe my cousin Snowy would like it?  Anyhow, both my parents were on either side of Sammy and I rolled on my back basically wrapping my body around Ms. A’s ankles as the rite of passage continued.   The doc gave Sammy his feel good meds and as those settled in, stories were told of Sambuca, “Banana” Banshee, Montana, Boomer, Hassenpfeffer and the star of any story time: ME! The Tempest!!

Although there was a lot of sniffling and nose blowing – not sure why you people would allow all that stuff in your noses…it is no wonder your sense of smell is for [Poop emoji] – the stories were by and large humorous and joyful (at least those were the odors they were transmitting during their conversation) – since I did not pay any attention to the actual words as I continued to lay on my back.  Well that isn’t entirely true.  If I heard my name or the words “center of attention”, “food motivated”, etc. I may have tuned in momentarily until I realized I was not going to get any treats right away.

The final moment came with no sounds of anguish from Sammy.  Just the sweet smell of relief.   I tried to give the vet a kiss, as well as Ms. A and Sam but I could tell he was already gone.

I won’t go into the details of how Sammy went from our living room to his school bus, since to be honest, I was not paying too much attention as I had to continue to be the bestest hostess to Ms. A and make sure Mom was OK.  Suffice it to say, he caught his connection on time and we were all able to give him one last kiss and fur rub before he left.  I must admit, for a wee second, I thought we were all going on a road trip and started to board the bus before I was reminded I had years of studying before I was ready for college…MANY more years (have I mentioned I still am not very good at doing our daily homework?).  My parents aren’t too worried though since Montana was probably the best at it and she went to college way too soon (https://wordpress.com/post/montanamomentstrn.wordpress.com/300).  Dad says I can still be awesome even if I am an under achiever (and he should know…wink, wink).

Part II:

“And sometimes you close your eyes

And see the place where you used to live

When you were young”

The Killers

Just after the vet arrived I saw all my peeps from the neighborhood run across the front yard.   I was concerned they wanted me to come out and play at a time I knew I had to be there to give Sammy my highest praises for his great accomplishment.   But as quickly as they arrived, they disappeared again.  We found these on our porch when we took Sammy outside after he was all prepped for his limo ride to school.

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Later, after Sammy had taken off, we were sitting in the backyard enjoying the day and possibly chasing a squirrel or maybe conversing with the neighborhood dogs.  This was about the time we heard a rap-rap-rapping at our front door.  Much to my relief it was not The Raven, Poe or anything sinister…in fact it was the complete opposite.  Three of my peeps had returned!  And in the hand of the middle one was a toy for me!!  More on that in a bit.

Dad grabbed my collar and opened the door.  The kids said, basically in unison, “We are sorry about your dog Sammy.”  Then one said we brought a gift for Sammy, and again as a chorus “It really isn’t a dog toy though”.   I didn’t seem to care and got very focused on my little treat while the children continued to talk to the guy restraining me from getting to my present which had been lofted over my head and was resting inches from my reach on the floor behind me.

Child #1:  “Why did you let you dog die?”

Dad: “He was in a lot of pain.”

Child #2:  “What’s pain?”

Child #3: “That’s when your body hurts.”

C2: “Like when I sprained my finger?”

D: “Yep.  Sammy was like that all the time.”

C1:  “Our dog when I was younger had a bad back leg and did this when it walked,” as she bent over, put her front paws on the ground and started kicking up her back paw.  I was thinking we might need to take her to the vet ASAP.

C3: “One of our dogs has trouble with her legs too,” as he looked a bit concerned that said pup might also have to go to college soon.

D: “Sammy was 15 years old and had a lot of other troubles too, so you don’t have to worry.” – at least this is what he hoped he said to quell C3’s anxiety but in reality I might have pulled him over a bit to get to my toy.

C2: “Did you take Sammy to the vet?”

D: “No.  He was sitting on his favorite bed in our house.”

C2: “Where is that?”

All three kids getting further in the house to see the place where Sammy took his last breath, a bit of awe over taking them.  I finally got my mouth on my newest and favoritest toy ever…at least since the one I got during the Tesla kid car festival that I still haven’t told you about.

“Sorry about your dog.” – all three as they ran back to their respective homes and I settled in with said toy.

So first off, my parents really should do something about the couch covers.  I mean this is getting a bit embarrassing to have my kid friends visit.  Secondly, this is the text C2 and C3’s mother sent us later Saturday evening:

“C2 told me before bed tonight, that she picked her white stuffed animal because it was the closest she had to Sammy’s color. 💙 and C3 said if Tempi every wants a buddy, kenadee and bosee [their pups] can play.”

If that isn’t the two nicest things I’ve ever heard.

Part III:

“The Sky is Crying”
Stevie Ray Vaughn

As the day began, the day ended with dreary skies and mist rising from the streets.  A weird day all around for a June day here in the northern suburbs of Chicago.  The morning had an ethereal feeling to it and this returned came night fall.   The only thing that was there in the morning that had disappeared by the evening was my dear brother Sambuca.  But is that really true.  Sure tears were shed, hugs were received and given but as I went out for the last time that evening I looked upwards and if that wasn’t Sammy looking down on our backyard (with that concerned look of his which he often had just prior to breaking into that big ol’ grin of his)….

Well maybe it was wishful thinking but I believe in my heart of hearts he had arrived at college and was giving me one more lesson.

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One he and the rest of my pack learned when Montana graduated:  The world is full of great individuals who honestly look out for one another – whether they walk on two feet or four paws (in my opinion the better option) – the love and compassion we show one another is the positive energy that drives all innovation (my current favorite catch phrase), progress and creativity.  We can only hope that our current world “leaders” can tap into this resource in a positive way.

Epilogue:

Everyday is like Sunday

Everyday is silent and grey”
Morrissey

 

The next day we were all still a bit out of sorts but as a collective, we decided it was important to get back to some of our normal activities.  So what better to do than go for a good long walk.   Once we set off we ran into our neighbor who was so kind to Dad when the vet arrived.  He kindly asked how we were doing and asked if there was anything we needed – including introducing me to one of their girls so I would have another canine friend.  So sweet and likely something we will take him up on when the opportunity presents itself.

The walk for us was much further than we typically go when we are at home and Sam was with us.  In fact, the last few mornings Mom and I have high stepped it around a lot of different streets than I’ve been on before.  She told me this is where she used to take Sammy and Banshee when they were my age.

Anyhow, on the Sunday walk, we were nearing home we came upon our another one of our neighbors – the recently retired electrician who is going to soon be moving southward with his darling wife – something we are seriously not happy about.  In fact, we had the great idea of giving their for sale sign to the guys who come around and collect scrap metal on the night before garbage pickup.  Unfortunately, those darn people down at the internet had already found someone willing to buy their current domicile.  Drats.  So we met up with Mr. M (who when my parents first moved into the neighborhood had the alpha male of the block Max).  Despite seeing that Sammy was not with us he engaged us on a very interesting conversation about electric vehicles, solar panels, and geothermal energy rather than the depressing topic of no Sammy.   Despite the fact that I really had to go to the bathroom, I sat down, and was fully engaged in everything everyone was saying.

Both of these interactions really helped calm me down.  First, it is OK to acknowledge what we lost when Sam graduated and secondly, his moving on doesn’t have to be the only thing we talk about.

We will grieve.  But we will also move on and take try and embody what Montana’s subtitled her blog:
“It is great to be alive.” [a phrase she first heard on WXRT in Chicago]

Did I mention I’ve been hunting squirrels? Now that is living!

 Conclusion:

I’d like to end on this quote which I came across while doing research for this post:

“A person’s life consists of a collection of events, the last of which could also change the meaning of the whole, not because it counts more than the previous ones but because once they are included in a life, events are arranged in an order that is not chronological but, rather, corresponds to an inner architecture.”

-Italo Calvino

The Tempest

RIP my knight – college can be an enlightening and tiring journey.

 

PS – I almost forgot!  I started this post with the words Tick, Tick not only to reference the agony of having to wait but to tell a story about one of the strangest occurrences from this weekend.  Mom found not 1, but 2 ticks on Dad which she promptly removed and squished.  Unfortunately, from my perspective, no blood was in those little pests.  These events makes me think maybe he (and not me) should be the one taking the flea and tick meds on a monthly basis!  But now that they are chew-able treats he’ll have to fight me for them 🙂

All Good Things…

I heard this phrase once which went on to say “must come to an end.”  What malarkey!  Who came up with this concept and then perpetuated it?!?!?  Let me tell you, I have a few concepts and words for them.  I want all good things to continue forever.  These include steak dinners, walks with my pack, chew toys/treats coming from Amazon…come to think of it all of these things at once all the time would be pretty much heaven on earth.

But, as the flowers in our backyard sprout from the earth (or in some cases arrive with my parents and apparently sprout from the trunk?), grow, blossom, and eventually lose their petals, then their leaves, their stems becoming ever weaker so much so that they have trouble supporting their own weight even when trying to intake sustenance…well not to belabor the analogy but this cruel reality of nature has piece by piece afflicted and taken control of my big brother Sammy.  He is the total trooper and does everything in his power to support our pack and provide us with what we need.  He keeps trying to teach me how to carry his torch, and, well, I guess I have my own twist to this :).  However, the poor guy hobbles through his days – always with a smile on his face – but the light in his eyes ever fading.  In fact, this week he twice had trouble getting up when the pet sitters stopped by for our mid-day visit.  Then Thursday night, with that sloppy ol’ grin on his face, he met my parents at the door when they arrived home from work – with a wake of blood splatters trailing behind him as one of the pads on his feet was worn through.  Did I mention he was a super trooper?

And [what I wish were] years from now when this old light
Isn’t ambling anymore
Will I bring myself to write
“I give my best to [Sammy my Bro]”

Paraphrased from the song

June Hymn

by Colin Meloy

(and The Decemberists*)

*this is a band that my parents recently saw in concert in Ann Arbor with my Aunt D and Uncle A.  What a great Knight they had – starting with dinner at the new Knights restaurant in downtown A2 in which all my aunts were in attendance.  The only downside is I was left behind with Sammy and my Michigan grandparents…which in itself wasn’t so bad…until I found out Knights is a STEAK restaurant!!!!  I think the reason this song came to my mind is that D and A are in my thoughts (and all of those in our pack) while they are down in Austin TX.

So, in order to fully appreciate all he has done for us, all those brave smiles/countless walks, kisses and memories he has provided me and everyone who knows him it is with a sad heart but everlasting gratitude that I will be there tomorrow when, after packing his bags with treats, toys, best wishes for Banshee, Boomer, Hass, and Montana and then steak (of course), with a lasting bite of his favorite broccoli (yuck) my parents help him off to college…Did I mention he got accepted into the greatest school in the universe?

The Tempest

93 and 3

After I wrote this, I said it out loud and it reminded me of “23 and me” – the genetic testers.  I haven’t gotten my cheeks swabbed yet but Sammy and Montana did a few years back with a service called “Wisdom Panel DNA kit for Dogs.”  Interestingly, Montana came out to be a Australian Cattle Dog, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Rottweiler Mix and Sammy was Rottweiler, Tibetan Mastiff, Chinese Shar-Pei, Labrador Retriever Mix.  Mix is right, but Sammy has no Golden or Husky in him?  I have to question these results.

My parents are convinced I am a German shepherd/treeing walker coon hound so they don’t think I need to be tested, but I disagree.  And likely these genetic tests would have me as a ShitSu…unless they’ve improved their database over the last 5 years or so.  Then again, maybe these people aren’t my real parents after all.  Like my father’s friend at work told him after he got his 23 and me test done, he isn’t sending in his kids so he doesn’t have to know they aren’t his.  HAHAHAHA!  He is quite the jokester that friend of dad’s.  On a side note, he found out from the test that he has the gene for male pattern baldness…which was a shock to him since he has no hair anymore.  There was also something about a lack of empathy gene that he apparently has but that result wasn’t so obvious to dad.

Did I get side tracked again.  It may have been while I was mugging dad and giving him wet willies from my perch on the table…as I was transcribing this blog to him.

Back to my original point.  This past week held many eventful milestones…along with many other good stories that the scribe was too distracted to type out.  The first we realized after the fact.   It has now been over 3 years since Sammy had his tie back surgery and near “college” experience.  This is remarkable since most pups barely live 2 years after such an experience.   If you weren’t following Montana’s blog at the time here is a link to that story:

https://montanamomentstrn.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/rejection-letter/

Unfortunately, this has been a rough week for the old guy and he may finally go off to school.  Our neighbor recently graduated from high school and is off to Augustana College in the fall.  Hopefully Sammy can be her classmate there – since they’ve known each other pretty much their whole lives…and it seems she has forgiven Sammy that little incident all those years ago.  The hardest part for all of us is that the old fool still can grin like no other!  Even when getting totally confused and stuck in a mere sliding screen door.

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But tonight when I brought him this cool piece of cardboard – which I stole from the box that contained new clothes for my dad – he was cordial but not really interested.

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The other milestone, which we celebrated a little early last time we were in Michigan, is the 93rd birthday of my grandfather in Michigan.  I got to play with Snowy a lot on that day (and trip) which was tons of fun.  In fact, we were both off leash for much of the time!  My Michigan family had another party on the actual day of the 93 anniversary of his birth and we tried to call.   Funny thing is, due to technical and familial issues it took about 93 tries before we actually talked to him…HAHAHAHAHA!

Although this may have not come through in this post very well – due, no doubt, to the ineptness of my scribe – family is what you make of it, whether genetic, associational, or adoptive, and it is important and it is probably the most important thing we have as collective of mammals.   So, anyone out there who is a part of MY pack, who is suffering, sad, anxious, or in a state of funk, know we love you!

The Tempest

Tempest and Robin

OK.  So we didn’t make the dynamic duo that Robin did with Batman but that is only because mom called out for me to stop and then dad intervened and pulled me off the little thing fluttering around our backyard.   Come to think of it, if they didn’t do that and I had my way with the nearly flightless bird, we probably wouldn’t be dubbed dynamic duo either but rather The Tempest and her Dessert – given I just finished dinner.

In short, after dad pulled me away from Robin, mom distracted me with Scooby Snacks – which are also a tasty postprandial palate cleanser.  In the meantime, dad scurried around the backyard until he cornered it by where the dryer vent expels its hot air into space.  I knew this, not because I witnessed it live, but I definitely caught the scent trail of that baby bird.

I did however watch from our front window as he walked across the street and released Robin into an area that is relatively dog free – for our neighborhood at least, in which almost every house has one if not two from the canine nation.

Afterwards, when I sniffed out this treachery – which was just a formality as I had already seen it with my very own eyes – I may have pouted a bit at my lost opportunity to become a super hero with my side kick Robin.

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Just to show my displeasure with my parent’s actions, I took some time to sit on some of their newly emerging grasses and flowers!

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The Tempest (superdog)