Sunday, October 30, 2016
Life can be cruel. But even in the cruelest lives, there are moments of joy.
When Shanna Niehaus gave birth to her son Kainoa five years ago, she had the expectations that all young mothers have: Years of love and affection; of watching her little man grow up surrounded by friends and family.
But Kainoa never showed love nor affection. He could not hug, snuggle or touch freely, nor could he wash or dress himself. Her son was diagnosed with autism. They were desperate to see a sign of the loving boy they knew was trapped inside their son. They raised $15,000 in hopes of getting an Autism Assistance Dog for Kai.
Meanwhile, at the 4 Paws for Ability facility a golden retriever named Thunder was born. Thunder was bred to be a service dog. From the moment of his birth he and the other dogs born at 4 Paws are trained to enrich the lives of children with disabilities or veterans who have lost their limbs or hearing during contact. It takes 12 to 16 months for a dog like Thunder to be fully trained.
Here at Rainbow Bridge, there is a similar service. Unrescued dogs are trained to find the perfect match between a service dog and the individual the service dogs can help the most. They immediately knew that Thunder and Kai belong together.
It was not going to be easy. The Niehaus family was in Japan, and Thunder was in Ohio. The family had to get referral letters, provide medical forms, and videos of Kai in different social situations. Once the family was accepted for a service dog they held, auctions sold their personal artwork, and several fundraising events to pay for Thunder’s training.
Tornado was trained for companionship since children with autism have problems maintaining social relationships. He was also trained in behavior disruption. If Thunder senses that Kai is overwhelmed or anxious he can calm Kai so he does not exhibit behavior that could cause Kai injury. Tornado was also trained to be tethered to a person since he would be tethered to Kai so the child could not wander away from his parents. Since Kai cannot communicate this would be a disastrous situation.
Finally, Tornado was ready. The Niehaus hoped that Kai was able to form his first connection with another living soul. He attempts with his family and at school had all failed. What happened was more than they could have ever hoped.
Here is the video:
Afterwards his mother said: "It's worth every fight for services for my son, every diagnosis, every new provider, every dollar spent, every paper filled out, every school meeting, every shed tear, every step forward, every step back, and every wonder of the unknown future. Somehow because of this – because of Tornado – I know everything will be OK."
So here is a tip of the tail to Tornado who proves a theory we have all believed for a long time.
With a dog’s love, anything is possible.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Would make your wishes come true
When your family has come and gone
I’ll say this poem just for you
So what becomes of the unrescued dogs
Who never find a home
They’re sleeping alone tonight
In a shelter over there
Kibble poured from a bucket
Water out of a pail
Will there be a visitor tonight?
To let me out of this jail
So what becomes of all the unrescued dogs
Who never find a home
They’re sleeping alone tonight
In a shelter over there
Looking out the window, wishing upon a star
Tonight the cage next door is open
It’s occupant left today, happy, in a car
A palace made of solid gold
Can never beat a person and dog as a pair
Tomorrow the cage next door will be filled
In a shelter over there
A dog’s made for playing catch, running in the rain
Begging for bits of Daddy’s supper
Never letting a human bring you down again
From the window a bird sings, ready to fly who knows where
High, free and never caged
In a shelter over there
So what becomes of the unrescued dogs
Who never get a home
The world just gets lonelier
When your fate is in on the backlog
So what becomes of the unrescued dogs
Sleeping all alone
Dreaming of a warm lap
In a shelter over there
It’s time to climb out of that little cage
And into the car you go
It’ time to go to your forever home
Far away from the shelter over there
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Last year I got Lymes. I thought it was going to be great. I love fruit. I figured I would lay them like eggs. But every time I squatted it was the same old s**t. They say I still have traces of lyme but I have given up on producing anything.
Last week was a very busy week for my parents. It was one of those weeks when our parents say “we can’t possibly fit in one more thing.”
On Tuesday we had a groomer’s appointment. When our parents came to pick us up the groomer’s announced “River has a yeast infection!” Geez, sister, don’t you know what happens at the salon stays at the salon. The last thing I needed was them announcing what’s going on inside of me to the outside.
When we got to the car daddy called the vet. He told the woman who answered that the groomer had diagnosed me with a yeast infection (Man, why don’t you just put it on Twitter!) and he wanted to know if I needed to be brought in or if he could just get the medicine.
“Are you asking if River can avoid the costly exam?” the vet tech asked. Daddy said yes. And then the vet tech laughed and laughed. “Of course you have to bring her in silly,” she said. “We don’t make money on curing what is wrong; we make money on telling you what you already know.”
So the next morning I had to go to the vet. I didn’t see why. I wasn’t showing any symptoms, and I didn’t feel poorly. This thing was rigged! There were a bunch of ditzy blonds with German Shepherds in the waiting room. It must have been ditzy blond Wednesday. One of the ditzes dropped a leash and this giant German Shepherd looped right over to me. I used my resting bitch face get him to retreat behind his mom.
My mom, dad, and I were brought in this small little room and had to wait a really long time. Then they vet came in, swabbed me ear, smelled it, and said I had a yeast infection. Way to go Dr. Pasteur. Then I got a shot in the butt, drops in the ear, pills for future use, drops for future use, and a big old bill. Thank the Big Guy that daddy had one of those little plastic cars the forgives all debt.
So now I am getting drops in my ears, and somewhere mommy is sneaking me a pill. I don’t know where. She is very clever. Before I am cured I hope I have more luck creating yeast then I did lymes.
I can’t promise anything but if anyone wants some good, old-fashioned, ear bread let me know.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Sunday, October 23, 2016
When Pocket and I made the decision to break away from Doggyspace and start our own social network, called the Tanner Brigade, in 2009, we invited many friends to join us in our experiment to give dogs a place to play and have the Freedom to Bark.
One of our first friends to say yes and set up a profile without having any idea if the site would work or be fun were our brave Yorkie friends Chelsea and Ashton.
We had been friends for two years before we began the Tanner Brigade. That makes nine years of friendship, longer than many dog’s lifetimes. While we loved all our friends, we had an extra bond with Chelsea and Ashton because only Yorkies truly understand Yorkies.
We lived quite similar lives. Our moms were both retired. We lived in retirement communities. And one of our packs was illegal.
Both places only allowed one dog per owner on their sites. Mommy and Chelsea’s mom convinced the management to give them permission for a second dog. Both mommies would rather be homeless than living without one of their beloved pets
While our mother lives in a modular home, Chelsea’s mom lived in an apartment. Chelsea and Ashton had their own pee area outside on their porch. They rarely went out of the building, and their feet hardly ever touched the grass. The three of them lived together in great happiness high above the Texas plains.
As I wrote, nine years is a long time to know pups. Many of our original members are with me now, and some are showing signs of their advanced years. Chelsea was showing signs too. She was at the vet undergoing treatment when she decided to take a nap. When Chelsea awoke, she was no longer at the vets. She was sitting next to me.
“Foley?” she asked jumping up when she saw me. She felt the soft grass under her paws, the bright sunshine high in the sky. Then she saw Samantha and Ashley, two of her predecessors whose love still lived in their mom’s heart.
“Oh Foley,” she said, her voice both mournful and hopeful. I put a paw on her shoulder and told her that she had indeed arrived at the Bridge. Chelsea became very distraught lamenting the loss of long, leisurely days with her mom and sister. It took me, Samantha, Ashley and several of our other friends to calm her. We showed her how to watch her mom and brother, both in the water and on the many secret windows located at the Bridge.
Samantha, Ashley, and I took Chelsea to Ladybug’s house to get fitted for her wings. Her training took longer. It always does with we little dogs. A good wind current will blow us off course. But we three experienced Yorkie angels took Chelsea under our wings, taught her some tricks, and soon she was flying high and strong. Leo told her she was ready to fly into the sunset so she could visit her mom and brother and Tommy Tunes promised to show her the secret warrant to her mom’s dreams.
Samantha, Ashley and I took Chelsea by the paw. We asked her if she wanted to fly high into the clouds. She anxiously agreed. She flew into the clouds and the towards a tower. At the very top of the tower was an apartment, exactly like the apartment Chelsea had left the day before, except without Ashton and her mom.
“This is your home,” I told Chelsea, whose tail was wagging excitedly. “You will live here, with Samantha and Ashley, until you are all reunited. If you get tired of living in the tallest tower, you can come visit me in my little cottage by the river.” My long time, dear friend gave me a kiss on the nose. We hugged, and then I flew out the window down towards my cabin.
I turned over my shoulder to see Leo gathering Chelsea and her siblings for a visit to her mom’s house. While her mom’s house may see empty, it is more full now than ever before.
And I checked the rules. No humans can limit the amount of Yorkie angels a human can have.
Friday, October 21, 2016
One of the most torturous ordeals an angel can experience is to watch their parents mourn them. While we have the advantage that we can still see our parents our ability to make them feel better, except for a few fleeting and forgotten moments in their dreams, has disappeared..
It can take months for our parents to find another dog to fill their home with understanding, compassion, and unconditional love. There are many different reasons for the delay. A new dog needs much more attention than an established dog. New dogs cost more money, take up more energy, and if a parent’s health or finances are in dire straits getting a new heartbeat in the house is not feasible.
Also, there are some parents whom, after going through the ordeal of losing a pet, can’t find the heart to replace them, feeling it would be disloyal to the friend they loved so much.
In some instances, the time goes much quicker. It was only three weeks after I came to the Bridge that circumstances clicked together and River was sleeping on my spot on the bed. While my mom has never stopped mourning me, River helped to rebuild her heart.
Which brings me to this little cutie:
Her name is Misty. She was found by Angel Ciara, with the help of her siblings Angels Dakota, Thunder and Phantom, to help rebuild their parent’s hearts shortly after Ciara arrived at Rainbow Bridge. This cute, little, goggle-eyed pup has brought magic and love back to a home that was filled with sorrow. Ciara may not be able to ease her parent’s pain but Misty can.
I passed by Ciara and her siblings lying on the river bank watching Missy delight her parents in the water’s reflection. “It is so good to see them smile,” Ciara said happily. Then her pack climbed up in the hills to play with one another and bring that same playful magic to the Bridge.
And I only one request.
Play Misty, for me.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
We have become a family of nightwalkers. Our daily constitutional has become a nightly ritual.
Here in the Prune Village where the number one job is being retired people don’t walk at night and seldom come outside after sunset. The sound of lawn mowers and weed whackers begin at the crack of dawn, but a hush comes over our neighborhood at dusk. When the restaurants stop serving the early bird special, it is bed time.
The biggest reason for our switch is that Pocket is obnoxious.
If there is a person walking down the street, she barks. Same is true of dogs, cats, squirrels, leaves and abnormally large bees. I bark as well, but my barks are communications to Pocket that she needs to stop barking. Sometimes I prematurely bark to keep Pocket from barking. But I never bark at just anything. I am a good girl.
Since everyone is getting ready for bed after sunset, there are few cars on the road and since the speed limit is ten mph we can out run any wayward motorist. The only exception is the omnipresent ambulances circling waiting for the inevitable 911 call.
In every yard is a lamp post giving off a soft light. We are never in the dark, but it is never too bright either (just like Pocket). It is the perfect illumination for a pleasant trot.
I have learned while walking in the dark that all your other senses become stronger. We can hear each call from the frog, every cricket squeak, and the cicadas singing. The smells are so much more aromatic in the dark. All the pee mail is deep and fascinating. You can find meaning in the pee that you don’t pick up in the daylight.
The only downside is the flashlight. When we begin to poop mommy shines it on us. Normally, when one is in the spotlight, crapping is bad. I have the instinct to stop the procedure, but once the bomber doors are open, there is no stopping the discharge.
I scurry out of the light immediately after completion. Honestly such an activity demands some privacy. I pull on the leash as my dad cleans up the spot.
I like doing my business on the corner where the mean man lives. He usually yells at dogs who poop on his lawn but at 7:30 he is in bed watching a recording of the previous night’s Hannity.
If you get a chance to become a nightwalker please do. It is a grand experience.
Just don’t poop in the spotlight.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Sunday, October 16, 2016
It seems like there are so many dogs that some of them, even if we are friends, or following them, we never got to know them. That is true of Rory, from the Rory and Stella blog, who joined me at the Bridge this week. I never got to know him while he was on the immortal side, and I regret it very much. Now that I have met him I know I missed out on a wonderful life.
He had a long list of medical problems in his five years of life. He fought them
all off but the last one, a large mass in the stomach, sent him here to the Bridge much too early.
all off but the last one, a large mass in the stomach, sent him here to the Bridge much too early.
Us small dogs leave huge holes in our parent's hearts and houses. When you are a huge dog like Rory your absence truly leaves a big hole. His Mom misses his faithful footsteps behind her, her having to squeeze by him, and him being a big, goofy, snuggle baby. His sister Stella misses Rory very much too They are supporting one another and hopefully will help each other through this terrible time.
I have to take more time to get to learn more about my friends and the dogs I follow. This was quite a poor tribute to this wonderful dog. I know he deserved better.
I would also like to recognize a dog still living in the mortal world, and doing amazing work for her human, work we all wish we could do. The dog's name is Harlow, and she is a therapy dog for a woman named Jaquie Blake who suffers from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system. Among other life altering symptoms Jaquie suffers from migraines are narcolepsy, dizziness, and frequent fainting spells.
She was facing a very limited life confined to her house unless she had a companion. That is when she met a retriever named Harlow. Now she is going to college and moving towards her dream of being a physical therapist.
Harlow’s main job is to warn Harlow if she is about to experience one of the varied symptoms of her disease. Sometimes the effects of the illness hits her without warning and she loses consciousness. Harlow protects her until help comes. A woman passed out on the street may be ignored during these jaded times but Harlow makes sure someone comes to her aid.
And he has learned to do so much more.
He helps with the removal of clothing: https://www.instagram.com/p/BLcJbvMBzw-/?taken-by=helper_dog_harlow
He cleans the house:
He provides drinks:
And he helps in the kitchen
A very special dog indeed.. I am sorry my dog friends but it looks like Harlow has raised the bar quite high.
Fetching slippers may no longer get it done.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Finally, humans have started using medical research to do something besides making daddy’s little soldier to stand up longer.
They have turned their attention to one of life’s most important endeavours. Making our lives longer.
Let me tell you about rapamycin. When I was first informed about it, I thought it was a clever name for a Hasidic hip-hop artist, but it is a drug discovered on an island called Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, where primitive humans built big giant heads convenient for male dogs to pee on.
The drug is created by a bacterium that is found in the soil of Rapa Nui. The island’s indigenous people believed that the living and the dead had an ongoing relationship, even more sophisticated than today’s relationship of blogging from Rainbow Bridge. The famous heads built at Easter Island were in tribute to the dead.
Is it any surprise that in this soil was found a drug that could not just create a relationship between the living and the dead, but hold off death itself.
Rapamycin is being referred to as a miracle drug because t has rejuvenation properties in dogs. That is right, it’s a drug for us, an anti-Rainbow Bridge drug.
I usually find human research on dogs to be silly, but I am all for the Dog Aging Project, which is testing Rapamycin. And they have found success.
Last year, a 13 year old dog named Sherman suffered a debilitating stroke. He was unable to walk, or eat, without assistance. He took Rapamycin for three days, and he was able to eat on his own. He took it for four more days, and he was walking on his own. Today he is acting like a dog half his age, happily playing in his yard with his brother Momo.
Momo was a year younger than Sherman and he was slowing down. His parents decided to give him the drug. He began playing like a youthful dog again.
Like all miracles there are complications. The side effects can be extremely painful making the quality of life much less than the quantity. And the drug is still experimental.
But, if you are certain your dog is headed for the Bridge it might be worth the chance.
Someday, of course, researchers hope to make this drug available to humans. We are part of that testing procedure.
But we have all dedicated our lives to make humans’ lives better, maybe we can make their lives longer too.
Longer time spent with us.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Pocket Dog, your intrepid reporter, is always ready to follow a lead when humans intrude on our peaceful world.
My assignment took me to a luxurious apartment in New York City. I found Miranda C. Cat sleeping on a chair in the fading afternoon sunlight.
I hopped up in a chair near her. She awoke, yawned, stretched, and asked me if I was Pocket the Reporter. I confirmed that was my identity. She agreed to answer my questions.
“It is my understanding that on the afternoon of May 14, 2005, when you were two years of age, the owner of these towers, a Donald Trump grabbed you without your permission.”
The cat licked her paw. “Yes, it is true. I was lying here asleep when I was picked up by what I thought, because of the hand size, was a child, but was, in fact, a large orange man. He snatched me right up. I said ‘excuse me, sir, I do not appreciate being grabbed without permission and he told me he was a huge star and touched unsuspecting kitties all the time. So I scratched him in the tiny hand and ran away from him”
“Do you know of any other instances of this man taking liberties with sleeping kitties.”
“Oh yes, when we meow to one another we all tell the same story. And it always ends up with him grabbing us and getting scratched. They say you should let a sleeping dog lie but that isn’t true. You wake up a dog, what do they want to do? Play with you. What is wrong with that? You wake up a cat she will mess you up.”
“Have you ever had anything like this happen before?” I asked.
“Not me but my sister, who is now at the Bridge, did. This guy named Bill used to come into her house.”
“Would he pick her up?”
“No,” Miranda said. “He would just slowly rub against her and make a sound like a guy who is eating really good barbecue. It was gross.”
“Do you have any messages for people who pick up kitties without their permission?”
“Yes, it is important for all men to know kitties do not like to be picked up. Just let us lie here and enjoy ourselves. If we want to be picked up, we will let you know. If we don’t then back off.”
I thanked Miranda and let her go to sleep in the sun again.
This is your reporter, Pocket Dog, signing off.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Only my Blogville friends know Ciara. I feel a little jealous of my friends who weren’t aware of her this morning. Their tears were not part of the clouds of tears that opened up above Rainbow Bridge shortly before her arrival. She was a resilient, brave, tough dog who fought off seizures as long as she could, but finally, the seizure won.
I hate seizures. Luckily I never experienced one. But my first sister, Blake, had many seizures. They are frightening to everyone involved. To our parents seizures are like a terrible spirit that has taken over their baby and is ripping her apart from the inside. Whether they last for seconds or minutes, every moment is filled with fear and dread. All the parents want is their sweet baby back.
Blake told me, as a dog who suffered from seizures, that, while they were occurring, it was like a bad dream, but one where everything that you physically experienced in the dream still affected you when you awoke. And then there was the look of fear in our parents’ eyes. Dogs are created to take care of their parents. We do hate to cause them any sorrow.
Ciara had been suffering from seizures for three years. As is accurate of all dogs who suffer from these events Ciara, her brother Lightning, and their parents went on a terrible roller coaster ride. There were good days when they thought Ciara was going to live seizure free and there were bad days when they thought her trip to the Bridge was rapidly approaching. There were very few calm, worry-free days.
At the end of September Ciara had gone several days without having a seizure. Her parents were going from Kansas to Texas to visit their son and grandchildren. Their parents hated to leave them at their fun camp, but sometimes our parents have to pay attention to their human children. Ciara’s mom asked for lots of prayers when Ciara and Lightning were left at the camp.
Ciara did not have a single seizure while at camp. When their parents returned home, the people who ran the camp said they never saw a dog as devoted to a sibling as Lightning was to Ciara. He never left her side. The happy family returned home hoping what they called the Seizure Monster was gone for good.
Sadly, the Seizure Monster was waiting in the wings. The first night home Ciara began to have cluster seizures, close together. She was rushed to the vet and put on a new medication. But this time, the medication didn’t work. Two days later Ciara had her last seizure and slipped away to the Bridge.
She left behind a devastated family, including her brother Lightning, who is lost without the sister he so fiercely protected.
I administered the Angel vows to Ciara, and, after being greeted by her angel siblings Thunder, Dakota, and Phantom I got a chance to talk with Ciara. I asked her if she felt cheated because she only had one night with her parents when they got back.
“Oh no, I was fighting to keep the seizure monster away while I was at camp. Lightning was helping me scare the monster away. All I wanted was to be home, to feel the loving ear scratches, my parents’ warm touch. Oh, Foley, that meant the world to me. When the monster came for me, more ferocious than ever, I was ready. I was home, I was loved, and I was ready.”
She asked me the quickest way to get back to her family. Even if they didn’t know she was there she still wanted to be near them. I told her when Leo would be leading Angels into the sun and towards their families. When the time came she took off back towards home to be with her parents and Lightning again.
And as she tipped her wings and flew higher in the air I saw, for the first time in three years, that the seizure monster was no longer following her.
Friday, October 7, 2016
After all the excitement of Miss Vicki’s arrival, I was exhausted. I went back to my quaint cottage. I poured my Mommy’s tears into my garden and watched my beautiful flowers open and grow stronger. I pulled some weeds then went inside, made myself some tea, climbed into bed and drifted into a much-deserved sleep.
I wasn’t asleep five minutes when I was awakened by a great bang, and a puff of smoke filling the room. Had I forgotten the flume? No. Teddy Bond, secret agent angel and founder of Acme Dog Gadgets that have been aiding dogs on escaping crates, counter surfing, and other feats that leave parents scratching their heads about how their dog accomplished whatever impossible task the dog did in their parents’ absence, stood at the end of my bed.
“I finally have a successor!” he announced as proud as I have ever seen him.
I wiped the sleep from my eyes. “A new successor? Has your sister Gracie finally decided to carry on your business?”
“No,” he said with a touch of annoyance in his voice. “Gracie still only wants to sit on mommy’s lap and look beautiful. But take a look at her.”
He handed me a picture of an attractive white and brown puppy.
“Her name is RuBea,” Teddy said excitedly. Do you see what is in her eyes? I looked closer but did not answer. “It is mischief and adventure!” I looked closer but still didn’t see it. Teddy was oblivious to my confusion.
“I am going to let her get settled in,” he said excitedly. “She is still a puppy. But within a couple of months, I am visiting her in my dreams. I am showing her where my hidden workshop is under the stairs. She is going to open the Dog Gadgets business again. Crates will be opened, refrigerator doors will be penetrated, dog food bag seals opened. I am back baby, and this little puppy will lead us.”
Teddy then went running out of the door to plan more gadgets.
Welcome to the family RuBea. I know you will be be loved more than any dog ever could be loved. But be warned. You have a maniacal angel brother. And he has big plans for both of you.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
It was a very normal, everyday Thursday. Daddy was working. Mommy took Pocket and me out to pee. We put on our leashes and went out the back porch door. When we go to the grass Pocket, always trying to be the rebel, got on my back, and rolled around on the cool green grass.
I know I should not get on my back, spread my legs, and roll around. That is the kind of behavior that made me an unwed, teenage mother. But someday you can’t help yourself. You have to get on your back, spread your legs, and roll.
Mommy made me flip over and get into position (for peeing, geez people.) After some searching, I peed, and we began walking back in the house. Every few feet I would stop and sit down. Mommy told me to move, and I would, but then stop again. When we got back inside the porch, I sat down and wouldn’t move.
Mommy picked me up and began searching. That is when she found a bee on my butt. (It wasn’t in my bonnet, but it was too close to my bonnet for comfort.) She didn’t want to startle the bee. I had never been bitten before, and she didn’t know what would happen. So she tried to pinch the bee between her fingers.
That bee went and stung her right on the hand. It then fell on the ground and mommy squished it. I was upset. Mommy got stung because I was on my back rolling in the grass. In my defense, Pocket was useless during the entire situation.
I immediately jumped up and tried to lick the venom out of her hand. She assured me it was all right. She was alone and had to perform surgery on herself with a pair of tweezers and removed the stinger. I think she is going to be all right.
I swore I was never going to roll around on my back with my legs spread again.
But let’s face it, it’s still going to happen
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Sunday, October 2, 2016
My friend Blazer came tearing through the front door of my cottage and then right out the back. As I slowly got out of bed, he ran through the house again. He had a case of the zooms.
His next time through I stopped him and asked what was wrong. “My Mommy is coming, my Mommy is coming,” he yelled, his tail wagging furiously. I asked him to explain. “Something happened to mommy; I don’t know what, all I know is that she is coming.” He ran out the door, then came back in, wet his paw, and patted down the hair on his forehead. “You look beautiful,” I told him. He scooted out the door. I followed, after patting down my hair with my licked paw.
I was happy for Blazer; there is nothing more beautiful than a parent and pet reunion. But I also knew there would be very many sad humans. A cloud of their tears burst over us as I ran behind Blazer. I made a note to collect my mom’s tears to help my garden grow.
My mom knew Blazer’s mom better than she knew any online friend. For years they had exchanged emails.
Life did not give Blazer’s mom, Miss Vicki, many breaks. She had a difficult childhood and became estranged from her family; she married young, to an older man, and their marriage dissolved without children; her dependent personality led her down some bad roads; then came the lung cancer which robbed her of 75% of her lung capacity and made her unable to eat solid food; and then came bankruptcy and depression.
All she had was her dog Blazer and cat Kimber until one day she stumbled on a site called Doggyspace. And it was there that she found her family.
But her pets would always come first. When she was suffering through hard times, while she could still eat, a friend brought over a plate of prime rib. She fed it to Blazer and Kimber. When her friends asked why she said that she would rather be hungry, then let her kids go hungry.
She had an astonishing thirst for knowledge. Around her house books were stacked from floor to ceiling. After contracting cancer, she became obsessed with why she got the dreaded disease and had read hundreds of books on carcinogens. When the Japan earthquake occurred, she read everything she could on the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. What she learned about the damage to the ocean and the air, and that the damage had spread to America through rain, and the long-term ramifications of the disaster would keep the hardiest soul awake all night. She wrote, in her last email to my mom, entitled “I’m Still Alive” that she had received more books about Fukushima and other chemical disasters and not to worry if mom did not hear from her: She would be reading for a few days.
Despite the difficult, painful life she had lived she was filled with love and compassion. She aided my mom greatly after I passed. She was a great friend to Mrs. Jackie Pool who arrived at the Bridge after contracting the same lung cancer that Miss Vicki had survived. When our great friend Leo swallowed a frog, she stayed on chat with his mom until they knew it was not poisonous. When DS shut down, she stayed on the site, long after everyone else had been blocked, posting protest blogs lambasting the company that shut DS down.
When Blazer passed in June of 2015, following Kimber’s passing in 2014, Vicki suffered terribly. She questioned if she had let him go too early, or let him go too late. Mom became worried about her: She was so alone.
Finally, she adopted an abused senior dog named Degas. He had been severely burned and had many physical issues. They were only together a month before Degas joined Blazer.
Then she adopted Rusty, another senior dog, with CHF. Vicki insisted on adopting senior dogs because she wanted to outlive her pets. She had not counted on how much she would bond with Rusty. Her letters were filled with love for him. She was terribly worried his constant coughing and trouble breathing would send him to the Bridge too soon. But it would be Vicki who went to the Bridge.
I saw her, on her knees, hugging Kimber and Drobo, who preceded Blazer. Degas danced around her. And then she saw Blazer. He ran like he had not run for years. He jumped into her arms. They both cried. The dogs around her clapped and howled. Then all the dogs surrounded them, licking her while she scratched them all. Oh, I wish you could have seen how happy she was.
I introduced myself to her, and she hugged me for a really long time and whispered in my ears words I can only tell my mom in her dreams. I told her since she had no family left behind, that her, and her beloved pets, could advance to the land of Happily Ever After, where there is never a worry and every day is filled with smiles and love.
She scratched my ears. “Oh, dear Foley, I have plenty of family. They are all your families, and we can’t go to Happily Every After until all your loved ones are there.” She pointed to the distance where dogs who were crossing the Bridge after passing over unrescued in shelters.
She asked me who those dogs were and I told her. She said that she would take them all. I smiled and told her to follow me. We came to a large mansion. I told her that it was hers.
“Foley, I don’t need all of this,” she said looking at the house.
“Here, it’s not about what you need; it’s about what you deserve.”
Vicki gave me a kiss on the head then opened the front door. All her pets, save Blazer, entered. Vicki whistled. All the unrescued dogs who had crossed the River of Life came running past me, and Blazer, who tried to write down all their names, then gave up, throwing the paper and pencil over his shoulder, joined them. They picked up a laughing Vicki and carried her into the house.
I walked back to my cottage.
Sometimes the best happily ever after is the one you make for yourself.