Exactly one year and one day ago Emma came to stay. Not a whole lot has changed since then, except that we still haven’t mastered not-blurry photos of her AND elder-dog Zoey now has one more “damn millennial” to shake her head at AND cat-brothers Loki and Marcel have mostly put aside their differences to join forces against the high-energy pupster AND strangers now stop Zippy and me on the street to inform us that Emma is so very cute.
As if we hadn’t noticed.
Yesterday I moved my writing desk from the living room into my weight room / standing desk room / ginormous whiteboard room. The animals are all a bit confused by the change, and are taking turns hanging out with me. Zoey and Emma were just underneath the desk where Zoey quivered in fright because of thunder while Emma slept on my feet.
This is Marcel from earlier in the day. Right after this photo was taken, he noticed his tail and started chasing it. Confession: I have yet to look away from a cat chasing his tail. I’m dialed into those feline hijinks for the duration, and will watch as long as the cat continues to act the fool.
The change in venue feels good for my writerly brain and psyche, but so far, the animal distractions are more than I bargained for.
Can’t really tell from the above photo, but Emma is a whole lot of Corgi. And you know what that means…
Okay, that’s still not a great representation (she’s hard to photograph because she likes to be on the move). But trust me, she’s got an unusual build. Despite her looks, she’s very strong and fast.
We’re happy to restore the household balance back to 2 humans, 2 cats, and 2 dogs. (Not to mention the approximately 2k worms in the basement.) As for the name “Emma,” it’s growing on me. She’s answered to that name for at least the last year so we’re loathe to confuse her with another. We temporarily floated “Gemma” but Zebu immediately responded to that text with “She’s adorable, but you’re gonna have to change that name.” Wildebeest said “Gemma” reminds him of some psycho female character on Sons of Anarchy.
Emma is starting to sound better and better.
Zoey has lived with us for the past eleven years and for the majority of those years, remained in either the house or yard. She (and Coco) didn’t get to go on neighborhood walks (or open space hikes) because they were out of control on leashes. When they saw another dog, no matter how far off in the distance, they’d bark, growl, lunge, and generally behave in a bat-shit manner.
At one point early on, we spent a whole lot of money to have a personal dog trainer work with us. That strategy ultimately failed because of a lack of consistency. The dogs responded to me as the alpha, but couldn’t care less about pushover-Zippy’s commands or young Wildebeest and Zebu with their high voices and unassertive attitudes. The dogs still believed they were the alphas who needed to protect the pack.
It all came to a head years ago when I took Zoey and Coco for a walk. They went nuts when they saw another dog, and in their ensuing barking / twirling / lunging, knocked me to the ground. Both my knees were thoroughly black and blue.
That was it for me. I no longer felt guilty about having two dogs that never, ever left the yard.
And then Coco died. To help Zoey through her grief, we started walking her once a day. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been an entirely pleasant experience (one walk lasted a full three minutes because I had to drag Zoey home after she went ballistic at the sight of another dog), but I am pleased to say we’re having some enjoyable walks. Today’s, for example.
Zoey still has an alpha attitude, but she’s older and wiser (and a little less strong). I’m grateful we can give our old girl the gift of a daily walk.
Today I’m thankful for my mental and emotional flexibility.
Exhibit A is this photo of Cliff Swallows.
I was searching my photo files for a picture of my dog Zoey,
and opened an unlabeled file in hopes of finding one there.
Instead, I found this eighteen-month old photo of those delightful birds
and immediately abandoned my planned blog post about walking my dog.
I’m sure Zoey won’t mind.
Saved from a shelter
eleven years together
Hole in Zoey’s heart.
Zoey and Coco are watching us closely (despite the nose smears on the glass), well-aware the 6:30 p.m. feeding is nigh.
On Saturday, Wildebeest drove for six hours to come home and see his brother before Zebu leaves for ten months in Sweden. (In the time-honored tradition of all young adults, Wildebeest brought his dirty laundry with him.)
A few minutes ago Wildebeest hugged us all goodbye, loaded up his clean and folded laundry, and headed back home. He’s leaving one home for another.
I’m hyper-aware that whenever I refer to this, the childhood home we made for our sons, as HOME, I run the risk of minimizing the lives our children are creating for themselves. But I also want them to know they are always welcome here and will always have a home with Zippy and me. This is their home. We are their home. So I use “home” to refer to here and there, wherever there may be.
Wildebeest is currently on the road, migrating back to the life he’s chosen for himself. I miss him already, but will see him the next time he comes home.
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
~ Matsuo Basho
Yesterday I posted some photos of myself along with a few words about my uneasy relationship with cameras aimed my way. Less than 24 hours later, I took out my camera and pointed it at Zoey.
Oh, my Sweet Zotato. Thank you for not sinking your teeth into the pushy photographer.
Happy Independence Day.
This time of year is trauma-inducing for many dogs (including my own) because of the exploding fireworks. It’d be one thing if the fireworks only happened on July 4th. But people in my neighborhood have been shooting off stuff for the last several nights and will continue to do so throughout the week.
It’s hard witnessing your dog cram herself beneath your bedside table and then shiver in fear. There’s no way to get her to understand some humans’ need for loud noises and flashing colors. If I don’t grasp the concept, she’s not gonna get it, either.
I realize I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about all this. (The other night I waited for a lull in the explosions and then yelled out my window: “It’s July 2nd, people!” A few seconds later, the fireworks recommenced). However, I want to note that there’s another way to exhibit July patriotism. Go to MuckRock and file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to help make our government transparent. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, and that’s definitely something worth celebrating in a non-exploding way!
ONE: The right headlight on our 2004 Prius went out and Zippy fixed it with a new bulb (something he’s done four times over the years, thanks to the kindness of people who post YouTube how-to’s).
TWO: We replaced our garbage disposal splash guard (taking only three trips to the stores to find the correct size), again thanks to the kindness of people sharing DIY knowledge.
THREE: One night this week Zippy and I watched WILD, the movie based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, and an image from that film that’s stayed with me is Cheryl writing in her journal and then tearing out the page after it’s filled, and feeding it to the campfire.
FOUR: One of our two old dogs is suddenly walking like a drunken sailor and yesterday the vet told us Coco is (hopefully) suffering from “Old Dog” Vestibular Disease, so she’s now on some medication and we’re hoping she’s soon upright and back to herself.
FIVE: Last fall Zippy and I dug out the raised bed on our patio that had been destroyed by our two old dogs, and replanted it with new perennials (before adding a barrier fence to keep out Coco and Zoey), and the new plants are poking through.
Yesterday I took Zoey to the vet for a thorough check-up because I was sure there was something seriously wrong with her. I was sure she had a tumor, just as our long-ago Packy had a tumor that made her mid-section feel just as Zoey’s did on Sunday.
I was wrong! Zoey does not have a tumor. Zoey is overweight and may need medication for her blood pressure, but otherwise is doing pretty well for an older gal.
Hooray for being wrong!
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”
~ Andy Rooney
Zoey, of the unconditional love and bad breath, is at the vet’s right now receiving a “senior exam.” I’m hoping I’m wrong about what I sense. Either way, I’m leaving now to pick her up and bring her home to her best friend, Coco. The reunion will result in tail-wagging that would sting my legs if I was foolish enough to get in the way.
At the end of May, Zebu graduated from high school and was one of the speakers. The ceremony was held at Red Rocks Amphitheater (coolest place ever!), but we were seated halfway up the venue so had to rely on the Jumbotron. (Aside: It was a thrill seeing Zebu and friends on the big screen.)
My older brother and his girlfriend also attended, sitting even farther from the stage. Later on, he told me he couldn’t see a whole lot of details but did notice Zebu’s red tie beneath his black gown. I reminded my bro he’d given Zebu that tie for Christmas one year (along with white gym socks), thinking that was a cool factoid. NOT. Rather than feeling warm and nostalgic, my brother panicked a bit because he had no memory of that and went into a short tailspin about getting old and forgetful. I eventually helped the silly codger to a chair and handed him a glass of milk to calm his nerves, and we laughed it off.
Fast forward to today. I just found photographic proof of the tie AND gym socks. Behold, Christmas eve 2005:
I’m thrilled with this evidence, but am not sure whether it will soothe or further agitate my brother’s mind . . .
On Wednesday, July 10, we said goodbye to Lebowski. We adopted The Dude (known as “Harry” on his adoption papers) from the Dumb Friends League in November of 2004. I went to the shelter with the intent of adopting another female cat (I’d had two females before, Diva and Isis), and instead ended up with the friendliest (male) cat I’d ever met.
Lebowski would run ahead of us and flop down on the floor, inviting us to rub his tummy. At which time, he’d purr in the loudest tones. Writhing in ecstasy.When people came to the house, he’d hang back a minute or two but then stroll out to make introductions. Lebowski viewed everyone as potential friends and ear-scratchers.He had a good relationship with Coco (pictured below) and Zoey, the two shelter dogs we adopted in the year after he joined us. He tolerated their sniffing and nuzzling, and he repaid them with friendly swats on their heads from where he perched atop their crates.This summer was The Gift of Lebowski. Expectations were that he’d die in May but he stayed with us for almost another ten weeks. I spent most of the summer with him. Lots of time on the bed or couch, but increasingly either on the deck, the patio, or wandering the backyard. He had quality of life as he watched (and sometimes chased) the butterflies and stalked beetles. In the final days, he was happy to curl up beneath the yarrow and valerian where he could observe everything around him. I like to say that Lebowski won the lottery when we brought him home because for the rest of his life he had four devoted friends who loved on him and satisfied his hedonism. But that lottery feeling went both ways. I’m forever grateful the female cat I’d picked out to meet/adopt didn’t want anything to do with me and that the shelter volunteer then said, “You know who’s a really nice cat you should meet . . .”
Words can’t do him justice.