The Loss of a Friend



When we find that little four-legged friend, we know that we will most likely outlive them, but we give them our hearts and treat them like family. And if we’re lucky, we get years of love and devotion back from them.

After Jan and I got together, we decided to find a little dog to keep me company while she commuted to and from work. We found an ad in the paper for AKC Chihuahua puppies, for only $175. Although we knew it was probably a scam, we hopped in the car and traveled for almost an hour to a home northwest of Dallas. We sat outside on the porch while the woman brought a small, trembling pup to us. She was overly skinny, cowering and covered with scabs and bites. She was the “runt” of the litter, and according to the woman, was picked on by the other puppies. She had the little doe head of a Chihuahua, but we had a bad feeling this dog was no more a registered pup than I was. But the moment she was placed in my hands, I fell in love with that stinky, shaky little thing. Jan and I had a silent conversation, and we “rescued” the pup from what was obviously a puppy mill.

When we got home, we found that the little thing was so scared of everything and everyone that she wouldn’t come out of her carrier. Jan had to feed her by hand, and she’d only drink water from the tips of Jan’s fingers. It took weeks and weeks of patience, but soon Princess ButtNugget learned to trust us, at least enough to eat and drink on her own. After a few months, she became a rambunctious puppy, demanding attention and play.

Nuggie, as she became to be called, was a year old when we decided she needed company. We joked that we needed to get a dog for our dog. I started checking the local animal shelter sites for a suitable companion.

Have you ever just seen a picture and felt an immediate connection? That’s what happened when I stumbled across the photo of a two-year old Rat Terrier, at a nearby city shelter. Jan and I hopped into the car and drove the four to five miles. The city shelter was busy, loud and the smell wasn’t the most pleasant in the world. They told us to go back and look around. The small cages were stacked three high and four across. Most of the inhabitants were either barking, sleeping or trembling in their boxes. The card on the outside of the cage read, “Vivian, Female, Rat Terrier.” Nothing prepared us for the sad eyes that looked back at us through the narrow bars. “Vivian” was so skinny you could almost see through her. The animal control officer explained how she had been found roaming the streets after having a litter of puppies. She placed a leash over Vivian’s head. The moment the cage was opened, Vivian jumped into my arms. I had been claimed. We weren’t allowed to take her home until after she had been spayed, but as soon as Jan returned, Vivian happily accepted her leash and followed Jan out to the car and hopped into the front seat for the ride home.

Our newest family member didn’t look or act like a “Vivian.” Our daughter, a fan of the movie, “Clueless,” named her Cher. While not my first choice, it worked okay for me. The moment Cher met Nuggie, she “adopted” her. Nuggie became the puppy that Cher no longer had, while Cher became the friend and companion that Nuggie needed. For the next ten years, they were inseparable.

As Cher aged, she fought through several health problems. Because of her previous life on the streets, she had bad teeth, brittle hair, and poor eyesight. Her hearing slowly left her until she could only hear a loud snap of the fingers or a clap. Her balance became shaky, and she’d undergone two surgeries to remove cancerous lumps. She’d walk along the concrete edging around the swimming pool, losing her balance a couple of times and falling in. We pulled her out the first time, and my brother spent quite a while teaching her how to find the steps to get out. The next time, she raced into the house, soaking wet. We were glad to know the lessons worked, but worried any time she was outside for very long.

Cher also had some hilarious habits. She loved to “shop” in the kitchen. She’d stand on her hind legs and walk around the counters, sniffing and seeing what was close enough to steal. Once, she grabbed a fried chicken leg, which scared Jan to death. Cher raced to our bedroom and dove beneath the bed. Before we could stop her, she devoured the leg, bones and all. Jan just knew she’d choke, but she was fine. It took us a lot longer to get over it than it did her, that’s for sure!

Another crazy thing was her hoarding. When she and Nuggie were younger, we gave them rawhide chews or pig ears to chew on. The moment one would hit the floor, Cher would grab it. The more we tossed in the floor, the faster she moved. Poor Nuggie stood by and watched as Cher gathered each “chewie” and put them in a pile. Before Nuggie could get one, Cher would lay down on top of them. Sometimes we’d toss half a dozen of the chewies around the room, just to watch the show.

The older Cher got, the more attached to me she became. I was home all the time, and she’d look to me for comfort or security. Her mind began to go, and she’d get even more clngy. She hated for me to get out of her sight, and she would panic and chase me down if she noticed me missing. I can’t even count the times she’d race between our feet, usually causing either Jan or me to trip or fall. Thoughout it all, she was still our sweet Cher. I could sit beside her and start giving her a good head scratch, and she’d give me a gap-toothed smile that would almost make me cry. She never met a stranger, and was always happy to see anyone that came to the house.

The past year was rough on Cher, and us. Her hearing worsened, and her eyesight and balance deteriorated as well. She followed me every step of every day, which at times would frustrate me.  She started losing her bladder control, so we took her to the vet. After several hundred dollars worth of tests, he came to the conclusion that she was in the beginning stages of renal failure. He also put her on monthly shots for arthritis pain, which he thought was the cause for her sitting in bed and moaning or groaning. Not only was Cher terrified when we put her in the car for the trip to the vet, but she would yell out for any shots she was given. It broke our hearts. When I asked our vet if she was in pain, he said yes, but he thought we could keep it managable for the time being. While we didn’t want her to suffer, we were glad we’d have more time with her.

The week of Christmas through New Year’s was rough on Cher. It was almost time for her next shot, and she seemed more lost than usual. She wouldn’t let me out of her sight, and she was often confused.

The day before New Year’s Eve, Cher developed a hoarse cough that I was going to mention to the vet on her next visit. She slept more and wasn’t her usual frisky self. We spent extra time with her, and when our nephew came over on New Year’s Eve day to go geocaching, he gave her lots of love, too. After he left, I fed the dogs and then joined Jan in the office for our evening of surfing. Later, I went to the kitchen to clean up. When I was finished, I did my usual headcount of dogs, only to find Cher missing. In a panic, I raced to the backyard. With the light from the sunroom, I could see her in the pool. I screamed for Jan and pulled Cher from the ice-cold water. We removed her sweater and I began to carefully press on her body in the hopes of getting her to breathe. No water escaped, only air. I raised her head and blew into her nose and mouth, and realized she was gone. Since I had lost a dog to congestive heart failure before, I knew the signs. Poor Cher had died and fallen into the pool. Our only consolation was that we know she didn’t suffer, and had passed away before she hit the water.

Jan and I were both in shock. We had prepared ourselves to say goodbye to Cher, but not this quickly.  I was a mess. It was close to ten o’clock on New Year’s Eve, and we were at a loss as to what to do. Finally, Jan realized we had a 24-hour pet hospital less than five miles away, and we called them. They were wonderful, and treated us kindly when we showed up, shaken and teary. Thanks to their help, Cher’s remains will join others and be spread at a local pet cemetery, where she’ll never be alone. I can’t think of a better way for her.

I’m going to miss my little shadow, who we lovingly referred to as crazy dog, or psycho dog. She was fun, she was loving, and she gave us the best years of her life. Over time the pain will lessen, but she’ll always be in our hearts. Rest well, Cher. And thank you for rescuing usImage

Empty Nest? What Empty Nest?

My wife and I did our best to raise our daughter to be smart and responsible, so when she decided to move out a few months ago, we were pretty sure she’d be fine.

Only a couple of weeks went by and we were almost ashamed to enjoy the “empty nest”. But, being the troopers we are, we did our best.

At the same time, my mother, who turned seventy about two months ago, told me she was having trouble taking care of the home she rented. I can understand that, because it was a three bedroom, two bath house – much too big for a single woman to keep up with. I spoke to my wife, and we came up with a solution – move my mother into our daughter’s old room.

Before you think we’ve totally lost our minds, hear me out – Mom would always spend her weekends with us, even though we were less than 10 miles away. But she was lonely, and we loved the company. Our weekends tended to be filled with cooking, shopping and laughing – mostly laughing. So it really wasn’t much of a stretch to bring mom here.

So now, it’s several months later, and there’s been no blood spilled, and no threats to anyone’s life. Believe it or not, we enjoy having our new “roomie” with us – we watch a lot of the same television shows and movies, And, it didn’t take much work to add Mom’s desk to our office space.

Our weekends are much more relaxed – we’ll usually cook breakfast together, visit at the table, then retire to the office to play video games.

In other words, not much has changed. We just put a lot less miles on our vehicles, and get to spend Saturdays in our jammies 🙂

As for our daughter, she seems happy and well-adjusted. Other than the panicked calls asking where gnats come from (not her salad, that’s for sure), and the occasional “I have a cold, what should I take,” question, she’s doing great. And when she comes to visit, we actually spend more quality time with her than we did when she lived here. Everyone wins.

Of course, I haven’t even gone into the “pack” situation – with Mom’s chiweenie, we now have four dogs under twenty pounds. I’ll leave their adventures for another day.

It’s Official: I’ve Lost My Mind

Have you ever gotten completely and totally sidetracked? I seem to be the master.

Case in point:

I went to the sunroom to take out some cooked brisket to thaw for the weekend. Next to the freezer is a small fridge, which is the resting place for one of our two plants that I haven’t killed yet.

I noticed the plant had quite a few dead leaves on it, so I decided to clear them away. Looks much better!

Of course, that meant that I needed to sweep the sunroom in order to remove the mess I made with the plant. No worries. I go to the garage and get the broom & dustpan. Leaf mess too much for the dustpan, so I wheel the 45 gal trash can from the garage into the sunroom.

Meanwhile, Daisy went out back and started barking up a storm. Damned ducks are back in the pool. I went outside with our vicious 5 1/2 pound Chihuahua, and yelled like a crazy person at the two ducks that have adopted our backyard. They fussed at me – I waved the broom – they fussed some more – I yelled and cursed, Daisy barked. The ducks had enough of our noise and left….for now. Okay, I returned to the sunroom to clean up my earlier mess.

As I’m sweeping, I notice a ton of dead bugs/spider webs in the corner of the sunroom near the back door. Okay, I used the broom and cleaned them away. Then, of course, I sprayed the corner for *new* bugs. Now, what was I doing? Oh, yeah.

Took the broom, dustpan and rolling trash can to the garage. On the way, I saw dust bunnies in the kitchen. Since I already had the broom, I swept the kitchen. Dust bunnies vanquished! Oops. Knocked over the rolling trash can. More sweeping.

On my way to the garage, I noticed the washing machine had stopped. Hung up Jan’s tops to dry.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Took the rolling garbage can to the garage before I knocked it over again. Tripped over the dustpan and scared the dogs with the not-so-nice language. Took that evil dustpan to the garage, along with the broom.

Started to put the garbage can back where it belonged, and noticed dust PONIES in the corner where it usually sits. Well, hell. Swept the corner, and totally ended up sweeping the garage. Did I mention that I opened the door so I could get some fresh air in the garage? Did I also mention that the wind is SWIRLING today? I think I ate more dust than I swept. Which of course set off an asthma attack.

Went into the house to use the inhaler. The dogs followed. I believe I heard giggling from Nuggie & Daisy.

Now, what was I doing? Oh, right.

Returned to the garage and put away the dust pan, garbage can and broom. Remembered the fabric softener dispenser from the washing machine that I took out last WEEK to clean. It’s still full of water, so I inverted it over a small trash can and went back in the house.

Where was I? Oh, of course.

Put another load of laundry in – last one today, yay!

Went back to the office, sat in my comfy chair and felt like banging my head on the desk.

I left the frozen chunk of brisket on top of the freezer in the sunroom.

Went BACK to the sunroom, ignored any other projects that clamored for my attention, took the package of frozen brisket off the freezer and took it to the kitchen.

And I can never figure out how I wear myself out during the day, doing “nothing”.


Mrs. Fusspot

That’s what we call our Rat Terrier, Cher.

Mrs. Fusspot.

Believe me, it fits. She wanders around the house, grumbling. Not whining, but grumbling.  It’s rather funny, to tell you the truth.

This morning, Jan left for work, leaving me and the two critters alone in the house, as usual.  So, after a nutritious breakfast of hot dogs, I sat down at my desk to check my email.

I hadn’t been at the desk long, when Mrs. Fusspot wanders into the office, grumbling as usual. At first, I didn’t think anything of it – until she continued to pace and fuss. I looked up, made eye contact, and watched as she went to the door and waited for me.

Being the well-trained human that I am, I followed her down the hallway to our bedroom. After a quick look, I realized why Cher was so put off – Nuggie was on Cher’s pillow, on Cher’s recliner.  The little brat came and got me, so she could TELL on the other dog!

As I’ve said before, I don’t have dogs…I have toddlers.


Duvet is French for…

pain in the ass, at least in my very humble and pissed off opinion.

Okay, so I know that if you pay $25 for something at IKEA, it’s more than likely not top-of-the-heap quality. I understand that you get what you pay for. But, to have a minuscule slit across one end that makes it near impossible to stuff a down comforter through the blasted thing is just evil. Not to mention that their idea of king-sized and mine differ immeasurably. Are beds in Scandinavia that much smaller? Because if two people are trying to share a bed with an alleged king-sized duvet, one of them is gonna freeze their ass off.


And who’s sick idea was it to design a slipcover for a comforter? Hmm? What genius marketed *this* idea? “Yeah, I’ve got a great way to make even more money than ever – we sew two sheets together, leave a tiny slit, and tell people they have to buy an additional down comforter to stuff inside. We’ll make a fortune!”

Sadist bastards.

So, we’re gonna turn over the duvet to the dogs – literally. I think it’ll make a fine dog bed cover – or maybe even a slipcover for the recliner. Anything but what we bought the blasted thing for.  Maybe our Rat Terrier can figure it out.