Tag Archives: Dog

Summer of LOVE … An Ode to a DOG DAY of Summer

It’s not Raining, the Sun is out – the Dog is an old one;
He doesn’t know he’s old or sick.
Bradley is my Grand-Dog and
He is waiting for me to awaken and sip some coffee.

We cuddle and I enjoy my caffeine.
And now it’s time! Bradley-The-Wonder-Dog
Can tell – it’s Time For A W-A-L-K!
It doesn’t need to be said, or even spelled.
The cadence of our morning routine has evolved into a
Comfortable groove; full of certain expectations.

There are signs most days…
That preparations are underway,
And are not moving along quite fast enough:

A half empty coffee mug set down,
Shoes and socks now retrieved and going on,
Finding my jacket, sunglasses, cell phone, his leash,
And finally the smoothing and folding of 3 “poop bags”…

The poop bags sliding into my pocket trigger a resonating bark,
Such a look of love and appreciation, much tail wagging, and
Finally sitting still and silent, for the leash snapping onto his collar.

And we’re off!
Bradley takes his walk seriously; no tail wagging while in motion.
But he is stopping to pee every 20 feet, it seems,
And pooping after about a half-block.

Thank you, Karen!
I know you don’t mind.
A little bag of poop in the trash can
You left on the roadside.

Down to the Church. Ah yes!
A walk we’ve done before, but
Today, it is with my new eyes;
To see things as the Dog does?!

Why didn’t I bring my camera?
Would it capture the Awe?
I wonder…

Past the Church and Cemetery,
Down the Wooded pathway to the
Labyrinth’s natural cathedral
Of Treed walls
And Sky-blue dome.
Bradley stays with me this time,
As we wind along the way
To the Sacred Center.
6 Slugs on the pathway,
The Muddy Moss sinking and worn
With the steps of previous visitors,

And once we’re to the Center,
The old Dog grows impatient and
Signals: Time to Move On.
Now he leads past the picnic tables,
Past the Memorial Stone Bench and its lonely Pine,
And down the Hidden Steps.

Now onto the Stony Beach…
Rhythmic slapping of the Waves in tune with the
Swooshing, rustling of the Breeze –
Oh how Divine! And the
Navy Blue Sea (has it ever been this Color before?!)
With petite lacy White-Caps
(are those Diamonds sparkling out there too?)
And then looking up…
The tips of Lummi Mountain, and Mount Constitution,
Each smothered by Foggy grey Clouds.

We plod along the slippery Coastline;
I, being careful not to slip on the smooth wet Rocks, or the
Green-bright-fresh slimy Sea-Grass bordering the Water’s edge.
Dog, being not so careful.
For an old Dog, he’s nimble, much more than I am!
Leaping the white Driftwood Logs – no problem; and they smell
Very Interesting, observes the Dog.
Some so white and smooth,
Some so rough and home to chomping Bugs,
Soaking with Saltiness.
I wonder: what is the Story of their Journey here to this Shore?

We pass the “Private Beach” sign (Private? “Ha!” I think.)
Soon Brad does a U-turn and we head back.
So interested in the Smells is he and
Interested in the Driftwood Forts am I,
That we are surely past the Entrance-To-Our-Exit…
So another U-turn and yes, there it is:
The Secluded Opening, allowing our ascent to the
Island Bluff and the Church grounds.

Heading up the Stone filled steps and through the
Verdant tunnel of Branches, Leaves, Needles –
Is it always this Spectacular?

Climbing up and out,
Back along the civilized and mulched trail
(a blessing of thanks to the soul who did this –
Now I don’t get soggy shoes!)
Through the Church parking lot, past the cluster of mailboxes,
Down to the red-roofed green home
Nestled behind the splendid Roses, and
Down within sight of Legoe Bay and now
We are standing by its back water.

No Ducks and Ducklings today.
But the ever present lap-lappity-lap of the calm Waves in the Bay;
The trills, chirps, tweets and squawks of God-Knows-How-Many Birds.
Down past the waving flag for a
Quick count of the Reef Net fishing boats;
Are there 6 or 7? It’s tricky to tell from this angle.
Soon they will be hauling fish out there…

We make another U-turn.
We are heading towards home and,
It is time for another poop.
We are back to the Church grounds…

I hope they don’t mind!
A little bag of poop in their trash can?
No I’m sure they don’t.

Behind the Church, I notice Brad’s Ears are perked and
His Eyes are glued toward The Way to the Labyrinth.
Two Fawns scamper over to the Labyrinth sign and then
Head in for their Labyrinth Walk.

We’re back home now and,
The Grand Dog is Snoring on “our” gold chair;
A nice wide chair where we snuggled, and
I sipped my morning coffee just this morning.

The old Dog is not hungry.
He hasn’t eaten all day and,
It’s almost lunch-time. I urge him and,
Attempt to tempt him with his
Special prescription dog food;
He has no appetite.
I make myself a grilled cheese sandwich and slice an apple.
I carry my lunch and Bradley’s lunch out to our Sunny deck.
Now We eat. (Note: even dogs enjoy company at mealtime!)

We know, as the Day warms up,
There will be Time to lay on the Grass in our Flowery yard.
Brad will find the warmest and driest spot to start with;
Then when the Sun cooks his Bones, he’ll move to Shade,
Then look for a compromise between Sun and Shade,
Maybe Dappled? Maybe on the edge of Shade-Meets-Sunshine.
I will move my chair accordingly;
Then he will nuzzle up and gaze at me,
Reassuring himself that we can
Stay out as long as he wants.

Of course we can…

These are The Dog Days of Summer we share… Days of Love.
And the old dog shares an old Lesson, a Lesson worth repeating:
The Joy of Unconditional Love.
Maybe the closest we get to knowing Divine Love?
And the Lesson of Slowing Down to Smell the Whatever;
And that, although this Life’s Journey can be so Fleeting,
There is So Much to Enjoy and Appreciate Each Moment…

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Bradley – the Wonder(ful) Dog!

He’s back from Fountain Veterinary Hospital. It was a 4 day, 3 night visit this time – we’ll call it his “spa treatment.” It’s really a sort of doggie dialysis treatment for his old and failing kidneys…

In my last “Bradley Blog” in May, I mentioned that he hadn’t been expected to survive past January, so he hung in there for about 5 months. Now in June he started to lose his appetite. He started having some digestive upsets, common in dogs with kidney disease. We feared that he was fading – and he certainly was shrinking. So thin he looked, and still does, like a concentration camp survivor. But this 12-year-old dog still has some spunk in him!

Since his spa trip, he’s eating, drinking, walking, climbing steps, and most importantly wagging his wonderful, spike-like tail. Dr. Pete says not to expect Bradley to put any meat on his bones, and to expect him to get even thinner (which doesn’t seem possible.) And he must stay on his Royal Canin Modified LP canned and kibble food diet. We can supplement it with cooked sweet potatoes and a very little of some of his favorite foods if he balks at his food. It’s important that he keeps eating and drinking, of course! In a few days we’re going to try a blood pressure medication to see if his kidney function might improve a bit.

The really wonderful part of all of this is – Bradley STILL does not know he’s sick! The staff at Fountain Vet said it’s just amazing that all this doesn’t seem to faze Brad. Doctor Pete said we’ll probably need to bring him in for another treatment in about 3 months.

Thank you to all of you who are following Brad’s progress and wishing him well!

Dog Tails and Tales.

I sometimes call him “Spike” but his real name is Bradley. When you see his tail you would agree that my name for him is more fitting; it is just a thin little whippy thing and it wags quite a lot. You can see him walking with me, here on the island almost any day that it is not pouring – it’s our favorite thing to do. You would notice his tail isn’t wagging while we’re walking. Bradley takes his walking very seriously. Once we’ve started, he behaves as if he has blinders on, like a mule, and keeps plodding along. If I stop to chat with people we meet, he gets very anxious about “getting going” and will interrupt like a spoiled child with his sharp, very loud BARK. Brad’s nose WILL get the best of him and he will interrupt the walk to sniff where a deer, bunny, raccoon, bird, other dog, cat, or whatever has left a deliciously smelly mark. He also needs to lift his leg on every mailbox post, clump of weeds, fallen branch. It is amazing that this dog can pee so much – he has advanced kidney failure. Even more remarkable, Bradley was “supposed” to die in January. He came to stay with us “to die” – that was over four months ago, now.

Bradley isn’t really MY dog, he belongs to my son Chris. We call him our “grand-dog.” We lavish love and affection on him as if he was our grandchild. Our vet Dr. Bill says he IS a “grand” dog and we agree. Chris works 5 days a week, so we “share custody.” Chris wanted Brad to have company during his last days and we did too. Chris lives and works across the water from our Island, so it’s not feasible to take the dog back and forth every day, so usually we trade-off just when Chris isn’t working. The dog goes on the ferry as much as most people on the island! Back and forth…

We were in the Oakland CA airport, when we first received the bad news call from Chris. Bradley’s kidneys were shutting down and he wasn’t expected to live more than a few days, no more than a few weeks. We all agreed that we wanted Brad’s last days to be as good as they could be. He loves it here on the island and especially loves hanging out on the warm grass, while we’re gardening. At that point it didn’t look like he’d be enjoying a warm Springtime or the lawn, more like we’d be burying him there. He was puking and having a bit of bowel problems too.

That’s when we got a 2nd opinion from Dr. Bill. Dr. B said that Bradley didn’t quite LOOK like a dog on his way out… but he’d have to see Brad’s chart. It turned out Brad’s “numbers” were really terrible. Bill suggested that we bring him in to the hospital for an IV water flush treatment. We all felt terrible leaving him there – he’d never been at the Vet’s over night before. The people at Fountain Veterinary Hospital were wonderful. We were able to visit ANY time they were open. Chris would go and get in the cage with Brad and just hang out. It took 4 days, but they got Brad’s numbers to improve slightly. A vet there said he’d seen a few cases where dogs were able to survive longer, if we could get Bradley to stabilize.

They said he would need to be on special prescription dog food for the rest of his life – NOTHING ELSE. 1st we tried some canned food Hill’s K/D. Brad quit eating. Then we tried the Hill’s K/D kibble. That worked for a while, and then he quit eating again. We hear this is a common problem at “the end.” The hospital recommended trying Royal Cannin LP Modified – we got both cans and kibble. Hooray!! Bradley likes it quite well. This food, along with lots of water, and Pepcid twice a day has stabilized his condition. The puking and bowel problems stopped. His beautiful caramel/black brindle fur coat has become extra shiny.

We are happy to report that Bradley can go on 5 mile walks, can leap 5 feet off our deck, run up and down the stairs, and in one hop land into my lap in the chair. I didn’t mention that Brad is over 12 years old. He has lived to life expectancy and now is holding his renal shutdown at bay. We treasure every day we spend with him and know that one of these days we will miss him very much.

Bradley in his younger days!

Daunting Visitation

The handsome creature arrived as my grief of all griefs had begun.  I was inconsolable about my son Joshua’s unexpected death. I was open to – maybe even eager for distractions from my suffocating sorrow.  This new visitor became my companion during the first phase of my mourning.  And the distraction he provided filled many hours over the coming months.

“He” was a stunning ring-necked Chinese Pheasant.  He strutted into our yard after hopping over the wobbly wire fence that separates our neighbor’s pasture from our more tamed back yard.  The bird announced his arrival into our garden with a shriek, almost as if he were in pain.  It sounded like MY pain FELT.  Although our visitor’s voice was shrill, he was a fowl of remarkable beauty.  But the little tufts sticking out of his head gave him the persona of a cocky little devil and a creature maybe to be feared. 

Spring was looming and Mr. Pheasant and I were looking forward to the rewards of the approaching season.  Gardening any time the weather permitted became my favorite grief-distracting passion.  I was  preparing our grounds for a memorial event for my son.  The bird was in search of a suitable mate. 

Obstacles would hinder each of us from our seasonal pursuits…

The pheasant habitat in our neighborhood was shrinking.  A new home was replacing the tangle of gigantic blackberry brambles behind us.  In the mornings, the workers would arrive to continue construction and I would watch and note their progress, as I sipped coffee by my window.  I would see my bird companion stalking about, too.  He was on a quest for the perfect (or more likely, any) hen. 

 We put out sunflower seeds and cracked corn kernels for many smaller bird friends. Our large new visitor liked this feed just fine, too.  And as Spring marched on, he found a girlfriend at long last!  We watched with anticipation when we saw a female join him in Bob’s pasture.  First our male hopped over and nibbled our treats, and his new lady friend followed when it looked safe.  The hen soon spooked and took off.  Later, Bob reported seeing a brutal and clumsy mating attempt in his field.  The new girlfriend was never seen again. 

Mr. Bird was starting to get cranky.  Without appropriate habitat, and his lack-luster performance in the romance department, he was probably out of luck for the mating season.  He took to blaming the entire neighborhood for this great misfortune. 

I was digging in the garden, pulling weeds and I saw my new companion approaching and squawking.  He lurched through the bottom of the fence, stepped determinedly, and then lunged directly AT me!  Thank heavens for my little female tigress-hearted cat, Tori.  She jumped out from nowhere and flew at him.  The bird shrieked, flapped his wings frantically and glided a short distance from our area.  Similar scenarios played out for days, then weeks.

The pheasant from hell was getting more and more brazen. 

My three of my cats were more and more intrigued and entertained by him. 

And I was finding it more and more difficult to garden without threat of attack!

These three cats typically do not have much use for each other.  They worked together to ambush the bird.  They triangulated, while the one out in front stalked and then pounced toward the pheasant.  The bird, when he saw this first whiskered nemesis, changed his course only to end up almost in the clutches of another cat.  This effective and fun strategy, as performed by my feline troupe, yielded results!  Within a month the cats had plucked the pheasant’s most resplendent mottled tail plumage until his rump was nothing but bristles.

I learned to call for my cats when the evil devil bird was approaching.  I’d hear his cries and watch in terror as he approached.  I would call out, “Tori! … Kitties!”  They came running.  They were always eager to resume the sport of “Get the Bird!”

By mid Spring, our pheasant tale was neighborhood lore.  The daunting fowl attacked our neighbor while he was digging.  Without thinking, Bob whacked the bird with his shovel and knocked him out cold!  Just as in the “Roadrunner” cartoon, the pheasant rose again, and was eager for more aggressions.  When construction crews pulled up in their big trucks, I would watch grown men being dared by this fowl to just try to get out of their vehicles and work.   A painter began painting the new house.  He would stand on the back porch to have a smoke.  The devil bird would perch on the edge of the deck and glare aggressively.  The painter swung his booted foot, connected with the bird and lobbed him off into the air.  I saw them repeat this ritual and neither of them ever seemed to tire of it!  The creature had spurs on his feet – how could I forget to mention that?  He backed me up and flew into me puncturing the back of my calf!  And then he executed the same attack against Bob’s wife, Sue.

As the day for my son’s memorial neared, my husband wanted to mow the lawn. A mere power mower was no deterrent for our pheasant!  As Russ pushed the mower back and forth across the lawn, my brother-in-law Tommy ran along beside, swinging a garden rake at the bird, to keep him from attacking. 

As Summer approached, the bird was getting more anxious to prove what a great mate and protector he would be.  He started to attack red, a color seen on the heads of potential competitor male pheasants.  If we dared to wear something red, he viewed it as an invitation to attack.  Russ’ red sweater (on Russ, inside our house) attracted attention through the window.  The demon came across two properties to land on our deck railing and cry, glare and fly at the window which was protecting Russ! 

I was starting to dread going outside to garden, for fear of attack…

My grief about Josh’s death had brought on a sullen dark mood.  On a beautiful day, I decided to go for a reflective walk.  As I approached the cemetery by the Church,  a wolf-like dog approached toward me.  As he wound his way through the headstones,  I could see this dog was a stranger.  I had an ethereal feeling about this animal and was not sure why he wanted to join me.   We walked together along the coastline to the seawall, and I was surprised when he followed me on the trip back to my home.  I went inside while the dog made himself comfortable on our deck.  He looked thirsty, so I brought him a bowl of water. 

Later I went outside to work in the garden.  The big dog was waiting for me.  After tiring of my work in the yard, I sat down with a cold beer to admire my abundant flowers.  I relaxed and the dog settled in the shadow of my chair.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the devil bird sneaking along the back fence line to my next door neighbor’s.  He marched through Arria’s yard and then headed straight across at me.  I cried, “Oh, no!”  

With surprising teamwork, the mysterious wolf-dog and my smallest cat took off after that demented bird.  The three of them disappeared behind the nettles clump.  In a matter of seconds, Tori emerged with pride and a mouthful of feathers.  Then the wolf dog appeared, with his trophy – the rest of the bird.  He ate it right there in the middle of our lawn.

          

                 I never saw the dog again.