Category Archives: Sam

That they loved…

twoIn my Wild Writing class yesterday, Laurie offered “On the Lemur” by poet Lisa Jarnot as a prompt. The line I chose to work with was “That they loved…” When I read what I’d written, Laurie said it could be a blog post, and because I trust her and also liked what I wrote, I’m sharing it with you here, kind and gentle reader.

That they loved to yell at the garbage trucks, the people with dogs walking down our street, the cats in our yard, the delivery trucks — the UPS and the FedEX, both with the same squeaky brakes. That they loved to bark and bark until they were just barking at each other or barking at nothing, or just barking so I’d tell them to come inside and they’d be so happy when they listened to me and shot back in as fast as they could go through the dog door that I’d give them a cookie in thanks. That they loved to sleep when I didn’t need them to but the second I needed quiet, needed for them to settle down, they would explode in a burst of noise. That they loved how that felt, that surge of energy, that feeling that if the people or vehicles or animals left they knew it was because of the noise they’d made and they felt success, again. That they loved to check every inch of the yard to see who’d been where, peed on what. That they loved to go back to sleep after breakfast, leaving me quiet time to meditate and write before having to leave the house on the long walk, which starts now in the dark and apparently there might be bears so we need to be awake, alert, ready, aware. That they loved watermelon and carrots and blueberries and frozen green beans and the skin off the smoked salmon. That they loved getting ready, getting to ride in the car, hanging out in the back yard or on the couch. That they loved even getting to go to the vet because they got cookies and Dr. Mulnix always told them how good they were but now he’s gone, not retired like he’d planned but gone gone and I’m afraid to go back, afraid the first time we go and he’s not there, that in the knowing why I won’t be able to stop myself from crying. That they loved that dumb fighting game they play where they lie on the floor and knock their teeth into each other, slobbing all over each other’s heads, getting dog hair everywhere. That they loved. That they loved has saved me, again and again, and will keep doing so as long as they do.

#augustbreak2015: Two

twoTwo. We’ve had just one dog at various times — the long year and a half when our first dog Obi was just a puppy and before we got Dexter, the four months after Obi died before we were ready to get Sam, the six months it took to decide if we would even EVER get another dog after we lost Dexter and Sam was sick but we didn’t know why. Even though we’ve had just one at times — and it’s so easy, so much less work — just one never seems quite right. Maybe it has something to do with Obi having such bad separation anxiety. We did everything we could for him and finally realized the only thing left to try was to get him his own dog, and it was so perfect, exactly what he needed. He was so much happier that we wished we hadn’t waited so long, although I suppose we had to wait for Dexter to be born, the dog that was the perfect fit for him. That set in my mind that dogs automatically are happier if they live with another dog, is where I got the idea that two is always the right number.

That’s not to say two is necessarily easier. It’s way harder to train two dogs, feed two dogs, groom two dogs, bathe two dogs, transport two dogs, calm two dogs, walk two dogs. Sometimes it simply doubles the effort, but there are times when two dogs are three dogs worth of work because you attend to each dog individually but there’s also a third dog, the shadow dog they form together as a team.

One time having two dogs is easier is when you lose one. In your grief, that well of sadness and loneliness, nothing can soothe you like another dog. Some days it’s the only reason to get out of bed, the only thing that keeps you going.

My experience with two dogs has had a strange twist. As much as Sam and Ringo are distinct, they are echos of Obi and Dexter. Sam’s sensitive, sweet nature is so much like Obi’s, and they are similar in shape and color. Obi broke one of his canine teeth in the months before he died, and Sam had a broken canine puppy tooth when we got him, so weird because that’s not a common injury. They are both afraid of loud noises, although Obi was more afraid of storms and Sam thinks it’s the washing machine that’s out to get him. Ringo has the same goofy high energy, the same happy good nature as Dexter did, the same athleticism, and the same body type, which someone once described as a “brick shit house.” Ringo has almost the exact same coloring as Dexter’s favorite toy, a small stuffed cattle dog we called Little D. Sam is content to be lazy, just hang out like Obi was, where Ringo and Dexter were always up for doing something, were either playing or asleep, only have two speeds. Our two dogs now are echos of the first pair, and it makes me think if I keep getting two, they will always be echos of those originals.

Gratitude Friday

springleemartinez1. Spring. Bird song, green, blooms, blue skies.

2. Hard boiled eggs, crackers, and Sprite. I had a touch of food poisoning and this was all I could eat yesterday.

3. A month in Waldport. We are all paid up, making plans, and dreaming of the beach. I am setting an intention to pack less, do less once we get there, and get Ringo ready to ride in the way back with Sam like a big boy.

We are also taking some of Dexter's ashes to scatter at one of his favorite places.

We are also taking some of Dexter’s ashes to scatter at one of his favorite places.

4. Ringo. He’s continuing to grow up and get easier. He got his staples removed, the gash over his eye all healed up, and then went back to daycare and spent the day playing. I was looking at him the other day and realized his spots, his specs look just like the night sky, like the Milky way or something.

sleepypink5. Sam. He’s still doing well, getting weaned off his pain medication. That plus all the playing he does with Ringo brings him back to the young, vibrant dog he should be at four years old. He’s such a sweet, sensitive boy too, tries to intervene when Ringo’s getting in trouble or he thinks we are playing too hard or when we are having an animated conversation that might be fighting.

"Make me dinner, Mom."

“Make me dinner, Mom.”

Bonus Joy: I’m a little nervous about this one, but excited — Jamie Ridler is interviewing me for her Creative Living podcast. I’m not nervous to talk to Jamie about creativity, until I look at the other people she’s interviewed, so many of my favorite creatives. How did I end up on that list?!

Gratitude Friday

1. Ringo is healthy after a rough week — a gash over his eye which required a trip to the emergency vet, two staples and antibiotics; a section of leather glove that he swallowed but successfully passed. Why are puppies and toddlers so hellbent on wrecking themselves?!

2. Sam remains healthy. Now we get to start weaning him off the pain medication he was on because we thought it was a nerve issue.

3. I am sane, things are making more sense, I’m calmer and better able to cope. Thank goodness for practice and a really good therapist.

4. My new responsibilities at CSU. I’m the Communications Coordinator, and as such I get to work with amazing interns, edit and create content for Facebook, our blog, and our website. It’s a really nice convergence of what I’m good at, like to do, and what other people need.

5. We are going to the beach, for sure. We’d been putting off committing completely to the trip when we didn’t know what was wrong with Sam and weren’t sure if Ringo would be mature enough, but we’ve decided and are locked in.

6. The semester is almost over, which means summer vacation is almost here. I might like my job most of the time, but I like vacation, my life better.

7. Ringo seems to have settled into a predictable schedule, which gives us a little more freedom. He’s growing up, even though he still has to be watched constantly because he’s teething and wants to eat all the things.

8. Hard but honest conversations with Eric, that we can have them, that they end with hope.

Bonus Joy: Walking along the river this morning, listening to the sound of the train, the rushing water, and the birds.

Gratitude Friday

1. An eagle flew right over our house. I was in the backyard watching the dogs play, we were about to go on our morning walk, and a huge bird flew right over our heads. At first, I assumed it was a crow, but realized quickly it was too big to be a crow and it had a white head and bright yellow beak. It would have made a beautiful picture, brown black wings spread against the bluest of sky, but I didn’t have my camera so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

2. Play date with Franklin, Ringo’s biological brother. I confess, I was a bit worried Ringo might be a jerk. He doesn’t always play nice or even like other dogs, can get scared or bark too much, growl and snap if he gets cornered. I didn’t need to worry. Ringo and Franklin loved each other, played and played. They never got too rough or too rowdy. Ringo was sad when Franklin left, went to the door and whined. I wish they lived even closer, that I could borrow Franklin for a few hours every day. As much as Sam and Ringo play, it’s not that full on five month old puppy kind of play.

3. Strawberries. We still don’t have any local fruit, but the ones at the store are tasting more like the real thing.

4. Sam is still doing really well. Hallelujah.

aprilmorningwalk5. Taking care of the dogs by myself. I know there are people, parents and caretakers and dog people, who do this all the time, every day, always, and I am so impressed, amazed, gobsmacked that they do — but I don’t. Eric has been gone since Wednesday morning at a conference, will be home in a few hours, so I was a single mom for a few days. I didn’t kill anyone and no one died, got sick or hurt. I walked both dogs by myself twice a day, picked up their poop, took care of everyone’s meals and medication, made sure they got enough naps and play. I got covered in poop once, pulled various kinds of poop and dead things out of Ringo’s mouth, along with two cactus spines out of his nose. I had a play date and took Ringo to his final two hour basic obedience class. I even managed to work. The best thing about it is I didn’t get depressed or overwhelmed. I felt capable, confident, and calm — that’s huge.

Bonus joy: Spring.

springsky2014

Gratitude Friday

1. Buds on the trees, and my lilacs. I’m crazy for spring, long to stick my hands in the dirt, plant flowers and fruits and vegetables, heck I even want to pull the weeds, am dreaming about the food we’ll eat from our garden and the flowers that will bloom.

2. Daffodils. More than anything else, they mark for me that spring is really, really here. Crocuses seem like they are only teasing, because they are so often followed by snow, but the daffodils mean it.

3. Four of us. It’s just right. Three always felt like there was an empty spot, but four is full, the way it should be. When I see the four of us in shadow, it’s almost like nothing is different, even though so much changed, so much was lost — but I can have a broken heart about all that while still appreciating this.

4. Sam is better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Remember last week I said I wasn’t outwardly celebrating yet? I am now. There’s still a chance this could flare up as soon as we stop actively treating it, or it could be chronic, but that’s so much better than what we were preparing ourselves for only a few weeks ago. Watching him and Ringo play, for as long and as much and as rowdy as they want, is one of the best things ever.

cochewing playing10 playing095. Ringo learning to lounge, to relax. He’s sort of awake but not, willing to just hang out. Totally a sign that he’s growing up.

Bonus Joys: Chocolate so rich and dark that it almost tastes like coffee. Laughing with Eric. Strawberry plants that came back from last year. Realizing there are only four weeks left of Spring Semester classes and then it’s finals week and then summer vacation!

 

Gratitude Friday

1. Sam is getting better. I’m almost afraid to outwardly celebrate, but inside I am all “praise Jesus!” I don’t even know how to communicate accurately what a big deal this is. I lost my first two dogs to cancer in the past four years. Two of those years I spent knowingly caring for a terminally ill dog. So when Sam started to get sick and no one could figure out why, I feared the worst. We took him to doctors and specialists for a year and no one could give us any answers. They were all stumped.

sleepysam02We started having conversations about how bad it would have to get before we’d let him go. Last week, we had an MRI scheduled to see if he had a brain tumor. He’d gotten to the point that he’d go an entire block at the beginning of our walk shaking his head, his back leg scratching at the air. We couldn’t hardly ever let him play with Ringo because that would trigger the same. He was so uncomfortable, and it was difficult to watch.

Finally, we took another approach, looked again at the possibility of a skin issue. Our vet found an overgrowth of yeast on his lips where he’s lost the pigment, using a testing method we hadn’t tried before, and we decided to take a chance, cancel the MRI and treat it for two weeks with antifungal cream. And it’s working! He hasn’t air scratched for at least four days. We can put on the medicine, really rub it into his lips, and it doesn’t bother him. He an Ringo roll around in the back yard playing, knocking teeth against teeth, biting each other all over, and nothing.


We plan to take him to see a Dermatologist at CSU’s Vet Hospital, to follow up and make sure that there aren’t things we could do, supplements and such, to ensure this won’t happen again. I am so so so grateful he’s better.

2. Daycare and training for Ringo. I’ve said it before, this boy is challenging. I am working harder than I ever have with a puppy, knowing it will all totally be worth it. We took him to his first day of doggie daycare Monday and even though he was a little scared and barking too much, he got invited back, called adorable and sweet, and he’s doing really well with training, which is most likely more about teaching us than him.

training3. The noise of birds in the morning, a sure sign that spring is here.

4. The sound of the grade school playground at recess. We live just down the street from an elementary school and I love how at certain times of the day, if we are in the backyard, we can hear the play, the screaming and yelling.

5. Grapefruit juice. I’m obsessed with it right now. And lest you think I’m getting all healthy or something, I’m also obsessed with two bite brownies made with Belgian chocolate from Whole Foods.

Bonus joy: Walking together, all four of us.

It's all about the sticks when you are a puppy

It’s all about the sticks when you are a puppy