This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
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Dog Tales–Welcoming a Dog Into Our Home

  • July 31, 2017 2:42 am

When I think about how happy I am to have my delightful dog Sparkle in my life, I am amazed.

For a long time I resisted having a dog. First of all, I am allergic to dogs, and I feared that I would be sick all the time. Secondly, I knew that a dog would tie us down. My late husband, Dan, and I loved our freedom and being spontaneous—often deciding to take an overnight jaunt to the beach when we got up in the morning. Dogs are very social, of course, and need to be around people—especially their “parents.” I didn’t see how our lifestyle would accommodate a dog.

True confession: I really didn’t like dogs—I thought they were a nuisance and I avoided them as much as possible.  And then there was my fear of dogs, which started when I was just 3 years old. Our family had an Irish Setter—a puppy. My Mom had her hands full with my brother and sister and me—and she was expecting her fourth child. So, I’m sure she had no available time to train a rambunctious puppy. My Dad worked shift work and had a long commute, so the dog sort of trained himself. I remember playing in the backyard and the dog knocking me down and tearing the sash on my dress. (I refused to wear pants when I was little. I told my parents that “Pants is for boys.”) Shortly after that, the dog (whose name I can’t remember) went to “live at the farm.” The result of my interactions with this pet was a fear of dogs that stayed with me into adulthood.

Sparkle came to live with us after my husband’s first cancer. Seeing his transformed face when he cuddled a dog at the hospital during his recovery, I knew we had to find one I could tolerate. People suggested a French poodle, claiming that they were “hypoallergenic.” But quite frankly, I found poodles to be cloying. And I thought that they were probably high maintenance princesses. But,  mixing a poodle with another breed, results in a    delightful dog that I could tolerate.

Finding a reliable, caring dog sitter who charged a reasonable fee to keep our pet in her home when we wanted to travel or had a busy day, made having a dog easier.

With all of the obstacles to including a furry “baby” into our home overcome, we found a little Yorkie-poo puppy that we named Sparkle.

My husband adored Sparkle. I credit her with helping him to recover from his first cancer surgery, which was a brutal operation following chemotherapy and radiation. She gave him great comfort and he loved to take her out for walks several times a day. Dan trained her with love and gentleness, and she was housebroken by the time she was only 3 months old. Walking Sparkle got my late husband back into life and he even met several other “puppy daddies” every day to chat and occasionally go out for coffee. After Dan’s death, Sparkle helped me mourn my terrible loss and I know that she misses him.  I cherish Sparkle as my connection to my late husband.

I’m astonished by how much I enjoy being a dog parent. Here are a few of my insights:

 

What I learned from my Dog, Sparkle

It is easy to love an animal.

A 14 pound,  one foot tall dog can be in charge of a household!

Petting a dog is soothing and helps to deal with stress.

Taking care of a dog is a job— and is a lot like having a toddler.Daddy's Girl

Kissing a dog does not lead to a fatal attack of “dog germs” (ala Lucy in “Peanuts”).

Playing with a dog is not only fun, it is comical and relaxing.

Dogs are a great comfort when you are sick, stressed or lonely.

Dogs love to eat—all the time.

Dogs have the most pathetic way of begging for food—all the time. And it is very easy to give into them.

You can learn “doggie-talk.”  For example, I know the difference between a bark that means, “I want to go out” and “I want a treat.”

Walking a dog is a great way to get to know people.

A dog can quickly learn that if she sits just right, you will give her a treat.

Living with a dog brings new energy into your household.

It’s easy to spoil a dog.

You can give your dog a cute name, and she won’t mind.

Stuffed dogs and dog books are no substitute for the real thing.

A dog will find a place deep in your heart and, at some point, you realize how grateful you are that she is there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Special Place

  • January 23, 2015 2:11 am

Solivita Blvd

Every morning I take my faithful canine companion, Sparkle, for a walk. We have route that we both enjoy. Sparkle likes it because it is a treasure –trove of (apparently) fascinating smells.

I enjoy it because it is beautiful and serene.

The route is a very popular path along Solivita Blvd which follows the course of linear stream. There is plenty of shade in the summer and shelter from the chilly breezes in the winter. I love starting my day out with this leisurely walk with Sparkle. It sets a happy tone for the rest of the day.

When I’ve felt anxious or troubled, I’ve sought its peace and calm. To me, it’s the perfect place to meditate. Even though we take this same route every day at least once, and most often, twice a day, I never tire of it. The ripples on the surface of the water remind me that life has an ebb and flow to it.  The trees, flowers and birds that are attracted this stream provide an ever changing scene.

It is a piece of paradise practically in my backyard.

 

 

Going AWOL

  • September 13, 2014 11:37 pm

 

My dog, Sparkle, went AWOL a few nights ago.  She’s back home where she belongs  now, and I’m being  vigilant about  making sure I know where she is at all times.

Here is the (almost) tragic tale.

It was a dark and gloomy night—okay, it was the latter part of the evening after a rainy afternoon.  I had gone shopping for much needed food. When I got home, we went for one of our walks. I was relaxing by playing my usual word games on the I PAD—a marvel of modern technology that allows a person to waste all sorts of time. I assumed (thus making an ass of –well, you know) that Sparkle, my delightful companion, was lying on the floor near where I was sitting.  I got up to stretch my legs and noticed that she was nowhere in sight.

“H-m-m,” I thought, “She must have gone to lie down on her doggie bed in my bedroom.” (I’m sure she thinks of it as her bedroom.)

She wasn’t there. I checked a couple of other known “dens”—no dog. Now I was worried.  So I called her name. I heard a faint bark coming from the garage area.

Heading that way, I wondered if she was hiding in the closet in the guest bedroom where she and Dan used to hangout.  No sign of her there, either.

When I opened the back door, I saw that I had left the door from the garage to the street wide open.

Then I saw it…Sparkle’s toy right next to my car which was parked in the garage!

And there is all her doggie glory was Sparkle—sitting on the grass. She must have followed me into the garage when I was unloading the groceries, and found herself locked out of the house.

I called her and she came right in.

After we were securely ensconced on the couch, she laid across my lap for a half hour, just wanting to be petted. I hope that she has learned her lesson.

I had a hard time getting to sleep that night thinking about all of the frightening things that could have happened: She could have been run over by a car, gone for a walk and gotten lost, been snatched by an alligator, been bitten by one of the many critters in our neighborhood…the list was unnerving.

I hope that the next time Sparkle decides to go AWDaddy's GirlOL, she’ll get a pass from her commander -in -chief–me!

 

Daddy’s Girl

  • January 19, 2014 8:00 am

Sparkle, my little Yorkie-Poodle mix dog, loved her Daddy. Even though he’s been gone for almost a year and a half, I think she still misses him—especially when we run into one of his buddies on our walks. She gets very excited when she sees these guys, almost as if she expects that Dan will be along soon, too.

Daddy's GirlOh, how Dan loved Sparkle!

He walked her everyday as often as she wanted. Even if it was the last ten minutes his favorite TV show,  if Sparkle started making noises about going out, he got up and took her. (I eventually started taping his shows because he never knew how they ended, thanks to Sparkle!)

She spent her days draped across his lap, with him petting her. You could say she had him wrapped around her paw.

He would wake up early and bring her up onto the bed, which was one of the many things I swore she would never be allowed to do. He’d whisper to her, “Don’t tell Mommy that I let you up on the bed,” and then he’d give her a tummy rub and take her out for a walk. I almost always overheard them and just turned away and smiled, knowing that he loved Sparkle and that she loved him back.

Dan’s connection to Sparkle makes me feel more connected to him across time and space. I hope that when we are united in Eternity, we will still have our little dog to love.

 

She Who Must be Obeyed

  • June 3, 2013 3:13 am

 

I’m

Here she is--Queen Sparkle

Here she is–Queen Sparkle

being subjugated , put down and ordered about—by my 15 pound Yorkie-poodle mix dog, Sparkle. Perhaps it’s the name. If I had called her Wendy or Cutie or Moxie or, well just about any other name, perhaps she would not have assumed the role of the Queen of the Household.

I think her power has increased dramatically since my husband passed away. After all, she had him well trained and then she was left with just me—the one who thought that she was in charge. So now Sparkle had a real challenge on her paws. How to get “mommy” (yes, I answer to that) to do the Queen’s bidding.

It started out slowly. First it was demands to be petted for long periods of time. Okay, I could do that once or twice a day. Now, I get a few minutes off each hour from the petting duties.

I used to like to sit on a recliner to read for a while. I can’t do that anymore. Why not, you ask.

Well, it’s because Sparkle wants me to sit on the end of the couch with her while she lolls around so I can pet her for the required hours of petting. If I don’t do this—she sits at my feet and whines in a tiny, annoying voice. (Thank God I never let my daughter whine like that! H-m-m. Do you think I’m onto something?)

Of course there are also the required walks—I do try to exert some control over that—until she comes up and bends her expressive ears back and cries and vocalizes her approximation of “out.” So off we go for our half hour to 40 minute jaunts while she does all the regular doggie stuff and sniffs every square inch of the route. A few times I tried to encourage her to try to wait a while. Do not do this at home if you have a dog! I have an emergency “doggie –diaper” pad in the utility room for emergency use. Well, it seemed like any procrastination my part was an emergency for a while. When Sparkle would see the tell tale evidence , she would  look up at me with her big innocent eyes , cock her teddy bear face my way as if to say, “Who did THAT?”

We usually top the day off with a very active play session in the lanai which consists of me cheering her as she catches various toys mid–air, runs around—and get treats. Lots of treats.

I’ve thought of getting her one of those cute little doggie shirts and having “She Who Must Be Obeyed” emblazoned on it. But I think she would fight wearing it, and then chew it up. Just like the adorable red dress I got her for her first Christmas and all the bows and scarves the groomers put on her. Sigh.

But when we finally turn in for the night, she cuddles next to me, gives me doggie kisses –and I’m happy to know that I have her with me. Of course, I curtsy before I get into bed—royalty you know.

 

 

Puppy Love, Part II

  • August 24, 2011 5:25 am

In my previous post, I told about how we came to welcome our delightful dog Sparkle  into our home. There is so much more to this story.

I resisted having a dog for so long and I and so many good reasons why we couldn’t have one that our friends are amazed that I have taken Sparkle into my heart.

In addition to my allergies, I feared that a dog would tie us down. Dan and I are pretty spontaneous at times. For instance, we have been known to decide to go to the beach for an overnight with no previous planning. And I really didn’t like dogs—I thought they were a nuisance. I avoided them as much as possible. And then there was my fear of dogs, which was still in the background.

But seeing my husband’s transformed face when he cuddled a dog was a compelling reason to try to find a dog I could tolerate. People suggested a French poodle, claiming that they were “hypoallergenic.” But quite frankly, I really found poodles to be way too cloying. And I thought that they were probably high maintenance princesses. But, by mixing a poodle with another breed, you get a delightful and cute dog that I can tolerate. ( By the way, my allergist wished me “good luck” with the dog—3 years ago!)

We also were able to find a reliable, caring dog sitter where we live who charges a reasonable fee to keep Sparkle in her home overnight when we need to get away.

So, all of the obstacles to including a delightful furry “baby” into our home were overcome.

What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much from having a dog in our home. I’d like to share those insights with you.

 

                                                                                              What I learned from my Dog, Sparkle

It is possible to love an animal.

A 14 pound, foot high dog can be in charge of two adults!

Petting a dog is soothing and helps to deal with stress.

Taking care of a dog is a job.

Kissing a dog does not lead to a fatal attack of “dog germs” (ala Lucy in “Peanuts”).

Playing with a dog is not only fun, it is comical and relaxing.

Dogs are a great comfort when you are sick, stressed or lonely.

Dogs love to eat—all the time.

You can learn “doggie-talk”–for example, I now know the difference between a bark that means, “I want to go out” and “I want a treat.”

Walking a dog is a great way to get to know people.

Dogs have the most pathetic way of begging for food—all the time. And it is very easy to give into them.

A dog can quickly learn that if she sits just right, you will give her a treat.

You have to be careful to not feed your dog too much restaurant food—not only will she get fat, but she will refuse to eat anything else.

Living with a dog brings new energy into your household.

You can spoil a dog—really!!

You can give your dog a cutesy name, and she won’t mind.

Stuffed dogs and cute dog books are no substitute for the real thing.

Dogs find a place deep in your heart and, at some point, you realize how grateful you are that she is there.