Tag Archives: Play

#smallstone: Play

The growls are softer now, when they come, and there is more play, tail wagging. Sam grooms Ringo’s neck and chest, his teeth biting softly on him the way I’ve seen monkeys do. Ringo rolls on his back, belly exposed, sometimes biting Sam back.

The playing and the biting is causing more episodes of what we’ve been calling Sam’s “itchiness.” He’ll shake his head and his back leg will cramp up like he wants to scratch something but isn’t sure what or where. No one can explain it, not our vet, not the specialist, other than maybe it’s some kind of nerve damage in his jaw. None of them have ever seem anything like it. It doesn’t happen all the time or last that long, and seems instigated by excitement, and he doesn’t seem like he’s in pain or suffering. And yet, for us it’s hard to watch. It’s tempting to interrupt, to stop the playing, to keep them from it, but what is a life without play?

#augustbreak2013 Day Eleven


viewfromtheballI can’t think about play without thinking of Dexter. He was the most cheerful, happy dog, always looking for an opportunity to have some fun. He is the only dog we’ve had that if we were going on a trip, we needed to make sure and pack toys, and he had favorites: his Little D, various other babies such as his kitty or his baby ram or Monkey, and any tennis ball, even better if he’d found it on a walk.

Dexter on the beach last summer, with a tennis ball he'd found

Dexter on the beach last summer, with a tennis ball he’d found

No matter how much he loved playing with other toys, Little D was always his favorite. It was a bit sad because Little D was the present we gave him for Christmas the month after Obi died, a sort of “sorry your brother is gone” gift. He loved Little D almost as much as he loved his Obi, which is really saying something. One of Dexter’s favorite games with Little D was to throw him into a pile of leaves or snow, bury him deep in the pile, dig him out, shake him around, and then start the whole thing all over again. I’m not sure how much Little D liked it, but Big D loved it.

Without Dexter, play looks a bit different. This morning, it was taking my two boys and my camera up to Lory State Park, going on a three hour hike, being surprised by not one but two mama deers with twin babies, noticing how green everything is and how many wildflowers there are, stopping to smell the vanilla sent of the pines, taking lots of pictures, remembering and missing our Dexter even as we imagined what our next dog might be like, hoping he (she?) has the same playful attitude, cheerful disposition as he did.

Wishcasting Wednesday


from Jamie’s post

Today Jamie asks “what’s your Spring wish?” I haven’t Wishcast in a long while, not because I don’t appreciate the practice but because I was doing too much and needed to slow down, so this was a practice that was on haitus. However, this wish felt like an opportunity I shouldn’t pass up.

You see, I was just out in the backyard playing with Dexter (and Sam too). It’s a bit cold out today, but I wanted to be outside. The grass is starting to green up and things are starting to bud and even bloom. There’s a lawn chair out from just a few days ago when it was sunny and warm.

I never thought I would see another Spring with Dexter in it. His prognosis when his cancer was diagnosed was 95 days, with his first significant symptoms a month before that, so I wasn’t even sure if he’d stay long enough to see snow again. That was almost eight months ago, and he’s still here.

And yet, living with a terminally ill pet means things can change at any time. He went to physical therapy this morning and even they noticed he was in a happier mood, was clearly feeling better. He’s getting stronger and while the tear in his knee won’t likely heal completely, he’s doing really well considering, is able to be moderately and carefully active. That made me feel really good, but then just a few hours later, he sneezed a few times and there was blood, so I shifted to feeling sad. This is how it goes.

So my Spring wish is in two parts: May I be able to remain fully present with Dexter while he is still here, and when it’s time for him to go, may he have an easy death.

Gratitude Friday


This post started as a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.1.

1. Play. Specifically Dexter, him playing with Sam in the backyard, reminding me so much of when he was younger and would play and play, him with his babies, waiting outside the bathroom door for me this morning with his Little D in his mouth, tail wagging and head held low, Sam’s play bow, so graceful and long because of his crazy tall legs, but also being reminded of play by others, of how fearless and free we were as children and contemplating how to bring some of that back, how to remember, to be that again.

2. Pen Pals. I am being reminded of the pure joy of sending packets of hand written, doodled, dreamy and loopy love between friends. This feels playful, tangible, makes me feel like a kid again, so young and full of possibility.

3. Books. I started a few new ones, ordered a few more (I have a serious problem, y’all). As much as I love to write, I love to read. I wonder who I would be if I had been born in a place or time where women were (are?) kept illiterate. What would I do? Where would all that love, that longing go?

4. Clip on Collar Lights for the dogs. I clip these on the dogs’ harnesses on dark mornings (all of them this time of year), since they are both blackish. It makes them more visible. Along with my headlamp, you can’t miss us, and we can keep mostly clear of the ninjas who are out that early too.

5. Tribe. And all the technology and tools that make connecting with them possible. Whether it’s in an online class, a Skype session, an email, a handwritten letter, or across the table from each other over a cup of coffee, I am so grateful to know and be loved by so many strong, inspiring, kind, brilliant women.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. This has gone on for so much longer than I expected, and yet every week is worth noting, worth celebrating, worth remarking and giving an offering of gratitude, a heart full of it.


#SmallStone: Day 17



In the backyard, still covered by a thin layer of snow, the weather feeling more like spring than winter, we play. Bowing, running, chasing, wrestling, biting, bumping into each other, rolling around, barking/laughing, with a single toy and big love connecting us, all of us awake and alive, together in this shining, brilliant moment, “soft and unrepeatable,” (Mark Nepo).

Book Writing Saturday

Last night, Dexter and I played with his baby monkey until he fell asleep. Then I sat with him, his front feet pressed against my leg, the heat of his body warming me, the sound of his breath, the sound of our breath together, in and out, in and out. It was the purest of moments, sweet and quiet and joyful. The only reminders of his cancer were his runny eye and my sadness.

As always, in these moments when we are together and in love and nothing is wrong, I remind myself to just be there, to let go of panic and fear and grief, not to force those feelings away but to let them be with me, and even as I let them rest to also not cling or get attached, let those feelings leave when they are ready to go, allow them to dissolve.

And yet, I can’t help wishing that this sweet good-bying would go on forever, the two of us here together like this.

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~Mary Oliver

The importance of play

When you know for sure your time together is limited, you take every opportunity to be present, to slow down and notice, to really see and to connect, and when one of you is a dog, to play. I raked leaves this morning, and one pile was “D-constructed” four times by Dexter and his favorite toy, a stuffed Cattle Dog named Little D, or Mini D.

Just to be clear, this was a two dog job, (three, if you count Little D).