Ponder this:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Angus 1996-2013

When I started this blog I had three dogs and one cat.
Today I am officially petless.
How much cleaner the house will be. 
How much better I will be able to concentrate without frequent interruptions to lift up, lift down, carry upstairs, carry downstairs.
How much more freedom of movement in my bed at night without a warm body smashed up against the small of my back.

I dropped him off at 9am. The doctor and I talked about "what if it IS a mass," instead of a carnassial tooth abscess, and how to proceed if it was.
She phoned me at work at a little after 10am, while Angus was under, and said it was a mass. She couldn't tell if it was cancerous, but it sure was aggressive. She said if she had to guess she'd say it was a sarcoma or something else....melanoma? Or both, now that I remember. She said there was a hole where something normal should be. The swelling had gotten so much worse since the last time she saw him, last week. His mouth didn't have room for his tongue anymore. Does it matter, then, if the mass is benign or malignant?
I said, "I guess it's time to let him go."
She got one of the techs on the line as a witness and I had to say it again.

Jen said, "Why don't you go home June? Take a mental health day." So I left work and I have food, medications, rugs, blankets all out of sight. The food and meds I'll give to the shelter. The blankets will return to "human afghan" service from whence they came. I started to change my sheets but I don't want to wash him out of my bed yet. We cuddled all last night, his lumpy little head on my hand.

I'm going to miss the little boy an awful lot.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wintering over

Wouldn't you think that peace lily's pot would've lost its price sticker by now???

I've been uncharacteristically vigilant about keeping the porch plants alive over the winter . . . I owe them that . . . they are such a joy to me on the porch during The Warm and Light Time. It's a little bit of an undertaking to get them all watered. I carry them from their perch in the corner of the bedroom upstairs to the bathtub and water them with the handheld shower thingie. 

Works quite well, but after I've finished getting all the drenched potsful of dirt and plant back to their windowside home, my back feels as if it's been broken. 
Small price, I guess. 
A little drink now and then is all they ask.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A late Valentine's Day post, borrowed from Rev. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Ph.D.

Winston In The Snow
Rev. Stephen V. Sprinkle, Ph.D.: 
The Souls of Our Dogs: 
A Valentine's Day Tribute to Our Best Friends
February 14, 2013 13:04:43

No treatise on the soul ever taught me as much as my dog, Winston. What a happy irony! I am a theologian being patiently tutored on friendship, loyalty, and love by a brown-brindle English bulldog. It seems only mete and good to pay tribute to the soulfulness of humanity's best companions on Saint Valentine's Day. For many of us, our dogs are the epitome of love incarnate.

Since our species, Homo sapiens, and our domestic dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, have shared a partnership through the good times and bad befalling the human race for better than 35,000 years, we have had ample time to learn many of the answers to life's deepest questions from them. "Who are my neighbors, and how am I to relate to them?"
Dogs have demonstrated unfailing help in time of need: herding our flocks, hunting alongside us, using their superior senses to warn us of dangers we could neither see nor hear, and watching over us while we slept. "Are we alone in the universe?" Dogs have shown us unstinting loyalty and companionship, offering us warmth to ward off the chill of the void, nuzzling us time and again out of our existential angst with their cool, damp noses--peering into our souls with their unfathomably rich brown, and blue, and hazel eyes. In the bargain, they have won a dependable source of food, shelter, and companionship from us. Little wonder, then, that the earliest elevation of dogs to the status of persons in prehistory took place by burying our faithful friends alongside us in human graves as early as 14,000 years ago.

My bulldog, Winston, knows nothing of these things intellectually. But I am convinced that he possesses all the best hallmarks of his race instinctually. He does not care about my ethnicity or race or gender or sexual orientation, whether I am rich or poor, whether I occupy the clifftop of my theological guild, or inhabit a more modest spot near the bottom of it. All that matters to him is that I am his human, and the joy with which he greets me at the door, flews all aflutter, and toenails skittering across the floor in his ritual dance of hello lets me know that I am home, and all is well. For to the world I may be only a single person. But to this bulldog, I am the world.

The ancient Romans believed that a great she-wolf (a lupus) suckled Romulus and Remus in her cave-den, the Lupercal, along with her own pups. True or not, her gentler great-grand-pups and we humans have been mutually caring for one another long enough for us to know that something of the best within us emerges in the company of the single species on earth who will be faithful to us to the last beat of their hearts.

Pagan Roman priests, the Luperci, and the Christian bishops who succeeded them argued theology to a fault, as the petty wrangling over the festival of the she-wolf, the Lupercalia, and the Feast of Saint Valentine demonstrates. Which was the correct god of the Lupercalia: Faunus or Inuus, Mars, Juno, or Bacchus? What rendition of the Holy Trinity proved orthodox enough to consecrate Valentine's martyrdom and make him a bona fide saint? But the dogs of then and now, Winston's kindred, fetched love away from abstraction and made acts of love obvious in each generation until this very Saint Valentine's Day. For us humans willing to learn from our dogs, it was never the finer points of dogma that counted a biscuit--the celebration of love and companionship is all that ever counts in life: canine, human, and divine.

So, do dogs have souls? When they die, do all dogs go to heaven, as the animated film of the same name suggests? I may remain agnostic about the obscure points of such a theology, but I am not undecided that, as St. Francis of Assisi prayed, all our pets manifest the beauty of creation and the holy joys of lives wholeheartedly lived. Prepare your best Saint Valentine's Day cards for them, then: our pets are our sisters and our brothers, and they call us to be better people and better stewards of creation than we are now.

Winston sighs as he nestles at my feet while I write. He looks up at me with his harlequin face, half white and half black, the yen and the yang in fur and wrinkles and underbite. Theologically, I wish I had something "profound" with which to conclude this post. All I can manage is a cliché I cannot better no matter how I try. In my life, I only wish I could be half as good a person as my dog believes that I am. Happy Saint Valentine's Day, Winston, you soulful dog, to you all your kin!  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy talk

It's nice to talk to people in far away places. 

I often engage catalog call center employees in conversation. Had a long and enjoyable conversation with a woman in Oregon several years ago. We knew each other's life stories by the time we hung up. Poor call center employees probably talk to some surly people; it's fun to joke with them, ask where they are, talk about the weather. I like to think I'm improving their days as I am mine. They probably think I'm crazy. Are they wrong?

Last week at work a man named Frank called me from Southern California and asked how I was. "I am wonderful!" I told him. He then heartily inquired as to how things were in the Great Northeast. 
"Oh, it's lousy," I said. And then I apologized to him, saying, "Sorry, I'm well stuck in my winter doldrums." 
He was looking for information about a property in the village and had been given an out-of-date address. I couldn't find the information in my records, but asked for his phone number in case I found something useful. He ended that conversation with, "You are a delight!" 
I fiddled around and found the property he inquired about and called him back and gave him all the info he wanted, and then he advised me to tell my boss and all my coworkers that I was wonderful. When people say things like that to me, my usual response is "I do, quite frequently." 
I think in this case I responded that he should tell everyone he knows, and to refer to me by name.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blessed be antibiotics!

The doctor couldn't get a real good look in Angoo's mouth . . . he was a little intractable . . . but she's fairly sure it's a carnassial tooth abscess, like Max had. With Max the abscess broke a hole through his face, which is not unusual. If Angus didn't have cardiac issues the doctor would do surgery, clean it out and send him home with antibiotics. Instead, she sent us home with antibiotics and if the right side of his face is still swollen in ten days, we'll have to reconsider on the surgery.
And she emptied his anal glands which were just full to overflowing.
I don't know if HE's feeling better but I am limp with relief!

I came home and we wandered around outdoors a little and then we came in and he ate his supper and we sat on the couch together. I read, he napped. I didn't bring in wood or fix supper or do much of anything except commune with my beloved little dog.

And I feel pretty good about that.

Angus is sick

Angus has an infection in his head. I fear that it's been there for longer than I'd like to think about. Old dogs, you know . . . even poodles . . . develop a stink . . . so we didn't pay much attention until he really began to reek more than a nearly seventeen-year-old poodle should. I have an appointment for 3:00 Monday afternoon. I'm thinking it's an ear infection that grew into something monstrous. He's always been prone to ear infections. 

We've been living from day to day since the middle of last week, hoping that the doctor will say, "Here's some antibiotic. This'll fix him up in no time," but I'm not really expecting that. What I'm expecting is surgery with the attendant cardiac risks for a dog who has . . . issues . . . in that area. 

Well, what can I do? Que sera, sera.

Husband thinks he's petted out because he can't stand the ending part. Everybody always feels that way, but we've always had at least one dog since our fifth year together. 
What would we talk about if we should have no pet at all? 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dreaming dogs and weather

A friend sent me this video this morning. If I could exercise like that while sleeping, two thirds of the contents of my closet would become available to me once again. Long ago somebody said to me, "Why do people always wake up dogs when they're dreaming? They always say, 'Oh look, he's having a bad dream!' and wake up the dog. Maybe the dog's enjoying the dream!" That conversation changed my view of dreaming dogs.

Screeny view from the bedroom

We had some snow overnight at the beginning of the weekend, and yesterday and today, sunny. Cold, to the tune of 27F right now (-17C sounds so much more dramatic to me), yet sunny enough that the snow is melting off the roof. I wish it would stay: it's a good insulator.

I am pining for warmth and green.