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The White Dog… Goodnight

Pickle has left us, and our hearts and Augie’s are still missing her. It’s been nearly two months, but I just wasn’t able to write about this until now because it still feels like she’s with us. Many of our friends and family know, and now it’s time to let everyone know—it wouldn’t be right to let Pickle go with no tribute.

The sadness of losing her has been gradually easing a bit the last couple of weeks, and so many memories come up, so much love. There’s so much, too much, not enough to say.

Pickle was nearly 13 and had a lot of health issues: Cushing’s disease, heart problems, high blood pressure, arthritis… and it all seemed to pile up on her the last few months of 2018. She had a stroke on Christmas Eve, and spent the next four days in the ICU. We were able to bring her home on Friday the 28th, and she got to sleep in her own bed one last time. But on the morning of December 29th, she let us know she was done.
She went so quickly and easily, and seemed so very relieved that she didn’t have to fight anymore.

Pickle was a skittish little oddball when we brought her home in April of 2011. She hadn’t been abused, but had been neglected and then surrendered when her parents had a human baby, and for her first couple of weeks with us, she seemed to find it hard to believe that she could pretty much do whatever she wanted now.

It didn’t take her long to warm up, though, and claim her place as princess of the household… and the universe.

And she took a page right out of The Princess and the Pea: If she wasn’t given a cushion on top of a cushion to recline on, she’d arrange her own (often with Augie’s assistance). She required many, many blankies to be piled upon her, and taught Augie about how good that was.




Before Augie arrived, Pickle would curl up in a ball between us in bed, not much bigger than a dinner plate, but would somehow expand during the night until we were clinging to the edges of the mattress. Then she’d move down to the foot of the bed, grunting like a little pig the whole time until she got comfortable there. She’d then wake up in the wee hours, stand up under the covers, and plow her way out, hot and panting. And it would start all over again. And when it was all of us in the bed, the dogs got the lion’s share.

As befits a princess, her preference was to lie abed until about 1 PM. She’d deign to come downstairs late in the morning to be served breakfast and then go out in the yard, but after that it was straight back upstairs for the remainder of her beauty sleep.
When Augie came home about 18 months later, Pickle’s princess status was disrupted by a spunky Orange Dog who seemed to want to always be touching her (gasp!) and attempting to play with her constantly. For about a week, Pickle was not having it. Then suddenly they were best buds, and Pickle started getting a lot more exercise and really came out of her shell.
She learned that binkies were to be played with instead of stared at, the yard was great for romping and wasn’t just a giant bathroom…

…and that there was definitely something to be said for sleeping in a pile of dogs and humans.

The best part was watching her always win at tug-of-war by virtue of being the bossiest, and running around the yard with Augie in the pattern they’d developed, part of which was pretending that the row of trees and plants on the hilly side was an actual barrier that guaranteed immunity from being tagged, even though it was easily crossed.

Pickle gradually slowed down as she got older and some health issues began to appear, and she moved herself to her own bed next to ours and claimed it for her throne. She let Augie share it often, but preferred her own space and would grunt and poke her legs out until Augie gave up and got in bed with us.

But then we’d often wake up in the morning with both of them in our bed, staring us in the face. Best mornings ever.

The last year or so, Pickle didn’t play much anymore, but would still occasionally chew a new binky, remove its guts, and then lose interest once the job was done. But she never lost interest in the Friday Night Treat Ball, and was better than Augie at figuring out how to get the treats out of the ball quickly enough to go “help” Augie get the rest of her treats out, too. And whenever the Scottish binkies from Linda arrived, Pickle reverted to puppyhood and perked right up.
Pickle didn’t love everyone like Augie does, but aside from us, she had a few favorite people and would climb onto their laps when they’d visit, then sit there staring and gently poking them with a paw to indicate that yes, it was recommended to keep petting her… or else. And of course, Dad was always Most Beloved, even when he wasn’t awake enough to realize it.
She wasn’t always the best-behaved dog. But she definitely knew she was special and easily took advantage of us in that… and she deserved pretty much everything she got away with anyway.
Our little White Dog with the orange freckles, the twinkle toes, the pink nose and gumdrop eyes, the beastly breath, the bad habits and stanky face. The snoring princess. The Orange Dog’s and Daddy’s best girl. The spoiled-rotten little alien with the stick legs, chicken thighs, and constantly wagging tail. Pickle Pie, Chicken Leggy, Gigi, Piculier, Twinkletoes, Jickle, The White Dog, Princess. We love you and always will, and we miss you so very much. Our baby girl.

 

“Come back here, you chicken-leg bastard!”

The Pie, 2005-2018





















#TheWhiteDog
#TheOrangeDog
#RescueDogSistersForever
#Love

Spider karma

A friend on FB wanted to know the story about my spider karma, and after writing most of a long-ass reply there, I decided it would work better as a blog post. Thank you, Barb H, for kicking my ass back into gear with posting here.

So. Years ago, I lived in a basement apartment, and there were spiders everywhere. Some of them were truly horrifying — one so much so that I won’t even talk about it here. I had always been terrified of spiders, because my mom was, so that’s how I grew up. But you can’t live among them and keep up that level of terror for years, so over time, in that apartment, my problem dropped from a serious phobia down to a high-alert fear level. One day, I was cleaning and decided to dust the bedroom window shelf. It was a small basement window up near the ceiling. I got on a chair and didn’t notice the wee spider on the shelf — one of those little sort of golden ones that you see everywhere. My face was a few inches from it and when I dusted, it ran around in a panic. I screamed. Really very loud. The spider shot up into the air a couple inches and came back down hard, all curled up into a ball. Dead.

I felt awful, to put it mildly. I left the body there for a couple of days and kept checking on it, but yup, it was dead. I’d killed it to death by screaming so loudly that maybe its heart or brain burst or it died of sheer fright. I never got over that.

Some months later, it rained so heavily that water leaked in through that window and ran down the wall. I dreamed that the water nearly filled up my bedroom, and I was standing on my bed in water up to my chin. I saw a pillow floating across the room and the tiny spider was on it, waving a leg at me and calling, “Mom! Mommy! Save me, Mom!” I paddled across the room and put my hand under the pillow to keep it afloat. “It’s okay, baby. Mama’s here. I’ll save you.” I woke up sobbing.

After that, my fear of spiders was relatively nonexistent to what it had been all my life. They still startled me over the years, but I was able to appreciate their existence, able to appreciate that they wanted much less to do with me than I did with them. I began to coexist with them, and never killed another, instead catching and releasing them. I even let some stay in my next apartment. One lived under the kitchen stove for a season. In my house now, we’ve had several resident spiders over the years. Mainly outside, but a few inside. One lived in our kitchen window between the pane and the screen, and it reminded me of having an ant farm when I was a kid. I got to watch it grow from a baby to well over an inch long:

KitchenWindowSpiderChestnutYawningDog/Kitchen Window Spider

 
My next apartment (the one where the spider lived under the stove) was on the second floor, and it was on the main street of our town, with very few trees around. Just not a very spidery property, really. One day, I left the house to go somewhere and walked into a web someone had built overnight. Luckily, I walked into it with my arm and hip, not my face, because it was a low web in a shrub outside the door. Unluckily, it was a HA-YOOJ web with a giant-ass spider in it. The web was so big and strong that I felt a tug when I walked past it. I didn’t realize what I’d walked into, kept going, moved my arm and felt another tug. I lifted my arm, thinking I had caught a piece of the shrub on my sleeve, and saw the whole web hanging from it, partly attached to my hip, and the spider sitting in the middle of it. I shook my arm and screamed, and the web came away from my side but still hung from my arm. I panicked and started running, my arm held out to my side, the web hanging like a gossamer bat’s wing, the spider holding on for dear life.

I kept running. And screaming. Maybe I thought the web would fall off or the spider would jump off, I’m not sure which. But every time I looked down, I was still wearing them. I ran around the outside of the house twice, screaming most of the way, I think. On the second go-round, I had either enough presence of mind or just enough luck to scrape the web off on the same bush it had come from. I jumped around in the back yard, trying to see all over myself to make sure the spider hadn’t abandoned the flapping web for a seat on my shoulder, or worse, was hiding in my hair. I couldn’t tell, and couldn’t get in the car without knowing, and didn’t want to go back upstairs in case it was on me and might jump off and hide in the apartment.

So I ran next door.

Next door was an old Victorian like ours, but the first floor was a business. I ran into the office and a guy sitting at a desk looked up with huge eyes. I said, “Do I have a BIG spider on me anywhere? Look very carefully!” and did a slow turn. He got up from his desk and said, “Turn around again,” and I cried, “Oh, God!” and he said, “No, no, I just need to make sure, it’s okay.” I turned around again and he looked at me very seriously and shook his head. I said, “My hair!” and he inspected my head. After a few more odd moments where I put him through his paces again, I calmed down. I told him what had happened and he said, “That was you?”

“What was me?”

“The screaming! I thought it was some kids playing around. It was loud.”

I was too freaked out to be embarrassed, really.

Every day after that for a few days, when I walked past that shrub I’d look carefully to make sure no giant-ass spiders were in residence again. Less than a week later, I came out the door and almost did a moonwalk backing up: the web was in place again. I ran back upstairs and got my camera and took a picture of the spider and its web. It was definitely the same spider, because it was all jewel-toned in the morning light, and it might have given me a look like, “Yeah, I recognize you, too. You’re that crazy bitch who took me on a trip round the world a few days ago. My stomach hasn’t been the same since.”

I left the spider to its web for good. As long as it wasn’t attached to me and we both knew where we stood, all was well. I went next door and walked in like a normal person this time. The same guy was at the desk and he laughed and said, “Another spider?” I said, “No, the same spider. It came back. Look,” and showed him the photos on my camera.

orbweavergreenwoodaveYawningDog/Orb Weaver

 
His eyes got all huge again. “That’s what was on you?”

“Yes!”

“Wow. Um… ugh. No wonder you… wow.”

“You wanna come next door and see it? It’s back in its web.”

“…no thanks…”

My spider karma came full circle that day. I had a close encounter (and have had many more since), got terrified, and the spider and I both lived through it.

Be kind to animals, and spiders too. Your karma will balance nicely if you catch and release instead of ending someone.

Just make sure you always shake out your bath towels before applying them to your wet, nekkid body. Just sayin’.

A Winter’s Rescue Tale

The Orange Dog and The White Dog retell Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.”

For all the dogs and other animals still waiting for their safe and warm forever homes.


YawningDog/The Orange Dog and The White Dog, waiting for snow

 
‘Twas a cold Winter’s evening, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes Winter’s magic would soon fill the air.
That night we were nestled all snug in our beds
While visions of chewy treats danced in our heads.

But soon we crept into our parents’ warm laps;
They’d just settled in for their long Winter’s naps —
When out in the trees there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window we flew like a flash,
Pawed open the shutters and nosed up the sash.
The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh with a team of nine deer.


Bill Stevenson/Flickr (altered)

 
Through pine boughs it glided and onto the gable,
Then in through the window, down to the night-table.
The driver turned round and gave us a wink —
‘Twas the Spirit of Winter, yet not as you’d think.
Neither Santa nor St. Nick, no angel or faerie,
But the essence of Winter: stars and snow, crisp and merry.

FlickrAuroraAndTreeJasonAhrns
Jason Ahrns/Flickr (altered)

 
Then a glow filled the room and the shadows drew back —
It came from the nose at the head of the pack.
By this we could see each and every deer’s feature —
Not reindeer at all! But all manner of creature:
A rabbit and rat, a pig and a steer,
Squirrel, fox, and cat and yes, one little deer.
Yet crowning each head, no matter how odd,
Was a set of fine antlers, and each gave a nod.
Their eyes, how they twinkled! Their whiskers, how merry!
Their cheeks were so furry; their muzzles, quite hairy.

But arf! The ninth creature that led through the fog
With her nose all lit up was a little blonde dog.
Her eyes looked like ours! She was cute as a button;
Her shanks were so sprightly, like sleek leg o’ mutton.
She pranced like a pup and sneezed once or twice,
Then shook out her fur, all crystal with ice.


YawningDog/Piglet the Red-Nosed Reindeer

 
Her coat shone like moonlight! Her antlers, so pretty;
Her little pink tongue was all warm and dog-spitty.
Her tail curled so proudly and swept side to side —
‘Twas evident she was enjoying the ride.
Her toenails tick-ticked upon the night-stand,
And each time she leaped, like stardust she’d land.
We reached out in wonder, a curious sniff:
Touched noses with her, became friends in a jiff.
Her glow grew within us and showed us a sight:
Lucky dogs just like us! In warm homes, as is right.


Remi and Wolf, courtesy of Justice Rescue

 
We used to be frightened — neglected we’d roam;
And so many like us still wait for a home.
The memory of that touched our tender dogs’ hearts,
Then the little blonde dog gave a yip — and two farts!
And with jingling of bells and swooshing of tails,
The team turned the sleigh on quicksilver rails.

We saw then that the sledge was filled with our kind!
The spry and the lame, the sighted and blind —
All going to homes filled with warmth and good cheer
For the rest of their lives, to nevermore fear.
Their humans would care for them always, forever.
Good food and good treats — but mistreatment? Never!
We felt in our hearts a great joy that night,
Of love always near, undying and bright.
We crept back into bed with the humans we love,
Cuddled up and entwined to fit like a glove.

SleepyWinterPups
YawningDog/The Orange Dog and The White Dog, all snug in their bed

 
As we fell back to sleep so secure, curled up tight,
We knew everything would turn out all right.
From the sleigh came a bark, a miaow, and a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
We heard in our dreams as they flew out of sight,
“Happy Winter to all, and to all a good night!”

Please consider donating time, money, supplies, or anything you can to Friends of the Danbury Animal Control, the Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS), Justice Rescue, Wildlife in Crisis, or to your local shelter, animal rescue organization, or wildlife rehab organization. Remember that adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment.