Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Letter on Puppies and Life Unplugged

Dear readers,

My mother asked me if I still have my blog. In short, yes, but my blog has been a diary I haven't felt like writing in. I think of the pioneer diaries (both real and fictitious) I love reading where they write frequently but then months go by and there's no mention. I notice a lot of my favorite blogs I follow are posting much less frequently. I suspect, like me, realities of everyday life have taken over.

Life does certainly lead us on unexpected paths, good and bad. Our path is covered with paw prints, which explains in part my radio silence here. Let me introduce you to our family dog, Nikki (we kept the name she came with).

About one month after our return from our honeymoon trip to northern California, my husband Steve brought this sweet girl into our lives, whom he personally rescued from a family who needed to "get rid of her" (their words) as soon as possible and who was being left outdoors on a cold back porch.

My mother took one look at her and said, "That dog's pregnant!" A visit to the vet shortly after confirmed it, and that same night, eight lives entered this world, two on our bedroom floor, six in the adjoining bathroom. Steve can now add "doggy midwife" to his resume.

So we were consumed for months, spending time with Owen (named after the title character in John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, who was small in stature but large in spirit), Angelina (Steve thought this pup was the Brad Pitt of the group, but he was a she, so...); Fred and Ethel Mae (of I Love Lucy, although Steve insists Ethel Mae was "Crazy Toe" with her white paws), Hans (our Swiss cow pup, and a nod to my Swiss heritage), Jet (our midnight black pup), Floppy (with these adorable Floppy ears), and Teddy. With the help of a local rescue group, Steve and I spent weekends meeting with families, their doggies, and dropping them off.

No time to make anything out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We had an army to feed!

Bath time!

Then there those wonderful lazy days of winter, curled up indoors, nesting. Napping while Steve and I caught up on Dexter. I'm now procrastinating writing new blog entries while I watch Downton Abbey.

Owen was destined to become Augie, Angelina is Callie, Fred is Bode (after Bode Miller), Ethel Mae, now Harley Jane, Hans answers to Momo (a Japanese anime character), Floppy soars as Raven, Teddy is now Miley and Jet is....

Jet, our forever puppy. Here she is pre-groomer. Steve picked her name and it just seems to fit her. Plus I love the Peter, Paul and Mary cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane, which I'll sing to her very off-key.

It was so hard to say goodbye. The tears flowed freely.

There is an episode of the Golden Girls where Dorothy decides to write a letter to her father who passed away to get down all the thoughts she didn't get to say when he was alive. In the end, she decides to write it to her mother instead. She simply writes,

"Thanks for giving me life, and thanks for making it good."

I said this on behalf of the pups to Nikki each time one left. Life certainly is so good.

"As a woman once said to me, one has a great deal of pleasure out of dogs because one can spoil them as one cannot spoil one's children. If the children are spoiled, one's future is spoilt but dogs one can spoil without any thought of the future and that is pleasure." - Gertrude Stein, as quoted in Le Chien de Paris.

After we dropped off our last puppy, we toasted with a bottle of homemade red wine that Teddy's family gave us, and made a fire on our outdoor patio. We've spent many a spring and summer night in front of the fires, just enjoying life offline.

The adventure continued. After the spay surgeries, Nikki and Jet had to bravely wear their cones for 10 days. Our little astronauts...

They were so happy when we came home from our vacation in Washington state in June. I tell them I must have done something really good in my last life to deserve them. One is lucky is to have one best friend in this world. I have two!

I do hope to get back to writing. I've been an absentee commenter on my favorite blogs, a terrible excuse for a pen pal and a blogger gone missing, but I hope to change those things.

I hope you are well, and have a wonderful storyteller on your nightstand. Mine is Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, about a young female botanist in Philadelphia in the 1800s. Gilbert describes the character as a seeker, something we should all strive to be.

Wishing you all the joys of the autumn season, and I'll be in touch soon.



  1. So nice to hear from you again, and what wonderful pictures of your babies! Bless you for taking care of them and finding them homes. My cat had kittens when I was 8 years old or so, and we kept one and gave the others away, just as you did. I'm glad that you've been having fun and doing such important work during your blog drought!
    Lilypad in Seattle

  2. Greetings Lilypad, and so good to hear from you! Our doggies have brought us such joy. I'm so plugged in for my job during the week and harried rushing about to work, they connect me with what's so important. I have to remember to sniff as they do (the rosemary in the garden), go for walks and take in nature (no matter what the weather), enjoy my treats (they have no guilt about their waste lines!), get good rest, and overall live in the moment.

    We loved Seattle by the way. I hope to share my diary of my time in Washington.

    Hope you and your family are doing well!

  3. I'd love to see your impressions of Seattle. I'm a native and quite tired of the cost of living, actually.
    We always had a collie growing up and my husband had a mutt but in 20 years together, we've never had a dog of our own. We were always waiting for a house with a fenced yard, or for our son to be older etc. I would love to have a doggie friend to walk. We do have a pampered kitty princess, a senior rescue tabby, who delights us daily. Give those doggies a big kiss for me,

  4. Thanks Lilypad! Dog companionship found us and I’m so happy it did. We wouldn't have gotten a dog at this stage. Our backyard isn’t fenced all around so I have to take them on walks, but it’s a good excuse for exercise and fresh air. My friend says dogs bring us closer to nature, and I think that’s true. I adore cats but have terrible allergies.

    I'm sure visiting as a tourist and living there are completely different. Seattle was our base, but the highlights of Washington were visits to Mount Rainier (which we sadly couldn’t see during our visit due to bad weather) and Olympic National Park. We also took a short road trip in September to Vermont and upstate New York, where I visited the Almanzo Wilder Homestead in Malone. Photos and thoughts to come!

  5. Ahh, I just realized that I began catching up on your blogs out-of-order. I'm happy you shared about your pups -- and I loved the names you gave them initially even not all of them stuck! And now I shall continue on with you -- Westward Ho!

  6. Hi Amy. Thanks so much. It was exciting to see the families at their forever homes pick names for lifelong chapters with these souls. Of course, Steve and I will always remember them by the names we gave them during our time with them. We were so fortunate to have known them all.