Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday Question

What is your sleep position?
Pocket:  I curl into as tight a ball a possible and I keep my butt covered.
River Song:  I like to stretch my front and back legs as much as possible to take up as much room as I can. 


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Moose is our August 13, 2018 Pup of the Week

When a boxer or wrestler passes away, their contemporaries gather around the ring as the timekeeper rings the bell ten times.

When Moose crossed over Rainbow Bridge this week,  joining his DS friends and his sister Sydney, the bell rang ten times, because a true warrior had joined us.

Moose was born into a life without love.  Little is known about Moose’s life before Momma Michelle adopted him. She and Papa Mike worked hard, with little Moose, who had that time was known as Sonic.  Moose did not like people and was convinced all humans intended to hurt him. He learned not to lunge at, or try to bite, people. Moose was not vicious; he was just scared.  If not for his parents Moose may have been deemed too dangerous to adopt and sent to the Bridge before he even learned how to live.

Learning not to be afraid and to trust humans was Moose’s first battle, and he emerged victoriously.  He also mastered how to sit, roll over, lay down, dance, twirl, shake, high five, wave goodbye, and sleep.  He became a regular Houdini.

On February 25, 2013, Moose encountered his greatest challenge.  He was diagnosed with Autoimmune hemolytic anemia.  His packed cell volume, which should have been between 37 and 55, dropped to 12.  His parents elected not to put him through the trauma of a blood transfusion.  It was a costly procedure, and his doctor said there was less than a fifty percent chance it would work.  Moose’s parents took him home with instructions to keep him comfortable.  He was fed every human food his parents could coax him into eating, something they had been vehemently against and gave him prednisone and doxycycline.  His mucous membranes turned white which is a very bad sign. By that Sunday night, he was breathing hard, and his parents were prepared to send him to the Bridge.

Sunday night he ate three hamburgers without having to be hand fed.  His gums were pink.  His mom tried feeding him some of his siblings’ food, which he had no interest in for over a week, and Moose ate it then barked for more.  Moose went to an appointment for the following Saturday to check his packed cell volume, and it had climbed to 29.  The disease, commonly known as IMHA had been defeated, and, although he would carry it the rest of his life, it never reared its ugly head again.

Moose continued to live a healthy life until early 2017 when his beloved sister Sydney went to the Bridge. Toula became a member of the pack and Moose, and his brother Buddy took her under their paws so she would be a happy and content dog.

In May of that year, Moose’s mom discovered a growth on Moose’s back leg and had it removed.  When it grew back, it was tested and was found to be cancerous. He battled this illness just as he had every obstacle in his life.  For fifteen months he wrestled the disease to a draw, but with no cure, it was just a matter of time when the ultimate fighter would have to leave the ring

This past week the growth on Moose’s leg opened up, and tests showed cancer had spread throughout his body.  His mom told him he no longer needed to fight and she sent Moose to Sydney at the Bridge so he could be young and whole again.

Moose had stood at attention while the bell tolled.  As the last peel echoed off the mountains, Moose broke into a run.  Sydney joined him, and they ran together just as they had as pups.  They ran through the rain left by the puddles of human tears above us. Moose was sworn in and given his detachable wings, and Sydney taught him how to run and fly.  Their smiles lit up the sky.  

Moose told me he had fought as long as he could, but he knows his loving parents are in good paws with Buddy and Toula. Moose stayed until Toula knew every single thing that makes his parents happy.

And now their parents will have two angels, Sidney and Moose, watching over them, ghosting them, and visiting them as winged creatures.  

Moose has a new challenge:  To make his parents realize he and Sydney are not gone, just somewhere their parents can’t access, and that he and Sydney visit their parents’ dreams, but their parents will only be able to remember the visits in their hearts.  That is where all grieving parents need to look

The heart. That is where the love is.

It will be a hard task but if any dog is up for the contest, it is Moose.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Foley and Ladybug Try to Help the Seniors Wear Young Bodies

All angels, of every kind, have closets filled with the bodies they used during their lives.  We can choose a different shape and be a different age every day. On Monday I am a puppy and on Tuesday, a senior dog.  It’s all up to me.   Most of my bodies look the same, but it is still good to have choices.

Humans have lots of bodies to choose from.  They have little kid bodies, old person bodies, fat bodies, skinny bodies, whatever they are in the mood to wear.  Everybody they have ever used is ready to be worn.  Somedays I see my human friends as little kids zipping by on their skateboards, others as wizened seniors.  Then there are some who can’t stop wearing the body they arrived in.

These people are stuck in their old, broken down elderly bodies. They have inhabited these frames for so long they are afraid to abandon them.  Sadly, their bodies do not let these folks participate in many Bridge activities. That is when we dogs step in to help them.

Dogs are often used as therapy animals for the elderly.  But at the Bridge our duties are different.  We need to help the elderly be young again.

I brought my friend good friend Ladybug with me.  She is high energy and always ready to party, exactly what was needed.  We entered the rest home where the old angels were watching Judge Judy and wearing blankets to keep warm.  Lady Bug, a very brash girl, unplugged the TV, plugged in the boom box and began playing “Gonna Make You Sweat.”

As the singer screamed, “Everybody dance now!” Ladybug pulled an old man up and forced him to dance.
“Leave me alone!” the old man grumbled, I am going to break a hip.

Two of the orderlies brought in the man’s closet full of bodies.   “If you want to avoid breaking a hip then change into something younger,” Lady Bug said.

“Bah,” the man balked.  “This is the body the Lord gave me.”

“He didn’t give you that.  That’s the body you were wearing when you went out of fashion.” Lady Bug barked back.

Lady Bug shook her booty, nipped at the man’s ankles, and threw pretzels on the floor.  The man struggled to bend over and pick them up.  If you had your young body you could get these delicious pretzels,” Lady Bug teased.  She then picked one up, bit into it, and smiled.  

“Alright!” the man whined.  “I will put on my 30-year-old body, but just to pick up the pretzels, then I am coming right back to this comfortable body.”

The man slipped into his 30-year-old body then gobbled the pretzels.  “Hmmm,” he said moving his torso back and forth, “this body is better.”  He ran in place several steps.  “My heart rate is down,” he said.  He looked at Ladybug.  “Why don’t you and I go for a walk?” he asked.  Ladybug happily obliged knowing the man would not be returning to his old form

Now it was my turn.  I picked a shrunken old woman and asked if she wanted to be young again.

“Leave me alone,” she yelled.

The song was still playing on the radio.  “Come on old lady,” I said.  “Let’s dance and show these folks how it is done.”

She slapped me.  ‘Leave me alone you damn little dog.  And put Judge Judy back on.”

I ignored her and danced around being as cute as possible.  I nipped at her wool sweater pulling her off the couch.  “Come on Grandma, shake off the old coil and come dance with me.”

“You want me to shake off this coil?” she asked.  I jumped up and down saying yes. I was really good at this.

The orderlies pulled out her closet of bodies, and she chose a fifteen year old one.  She too twisted and turned enjoying how limber she was, and enjoying no longer being in pain.

“Now that you have changed bodies do you want to play?” I asked.

“No,” the now young girl said.  “I want to beat your ass with this mop for interrupting my Judge Judy.”

When this old lady was young, she must have been on the track team because she was fast. I ran out the door, and she followed swinging the mop.  She hit me several times. I wished I had a younger body that moved quicker.  The good news was that she had a body built for speed, not distance and I eventually was able to outrun her.

The next day I returned to the home and saw the woman back in her old body sitting in her chair with a blanket on her lap watching Judge Judy.  I decided to let her be old if that is what she wanted. Some people just like who they are.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

River Can't Stand the Heat

It’s hot!  I spent the first year of my life in Florida, and it’s hotter in Massachusetts.  When I was down south, I thought the north was a place where it snowed all the time, and people drank ale to keep warm.  Fake news! Massachusetts is terribly cold, then, one day in March, it gets hot, and stays that way until November when it snows four feet.  What a miserable place to live.  Give me Florida’s unbearable heat and then not too hot winter to Massachusetts’ unbearable heat and then unbelievable cold.  

The heat upsets our lives as much as the cold does.  When it is hot we can’t go on long walks, or spend time in our buggy overseeing the garden work, which means it is done wrong by our well-meaning but unskilled parents, while Pocket and I run from one enclosed porch door to the other barking “no, no, don’t plant it there, it doesn’t thrive in the sun.”

It is very frustrating.  I feel guilty when I get outside and see the suffering plants. “Oh River,” a new flower will whine, “why are you inside while we are being planted.  Now I am suffering in this brutal heat, longing for shade, and I am afeared my life shall be a short one.”

I tried to explain that I am a Brachycephalic dog and need to be careful on hot days.  Have you ever tried to use a multi-syllable word with a thirsty plant?  Flowers, by nature, are selfish and not interested in my breathing issues.

We don’t get full walks when it is hot.  When Pocket and I are taken outside it is more like we are being accompanied to the bathroom than getting a walk. We only walk until we poop. Weather people can determine how hot it is by how many steps we take before we poop.  If it is less than a hundred steps, it is very hot.  If it is more than 1,000 steps, then it is comfortable.   I want to hear Jim Cantore say “It is so hot in New England today it only took River Song 20 steps to poop.”

Sometimes, when we can tell it is going to be a hot day during a morning poop, we keep a little in the chute and push it out on our hot late afternoon walk.  Our walkers don’t know if it is morning or afternoon poop.  We eat the same food for both meals, so it really is the same old s++t.

I promised, during our long, cold, snowy winter, that I would not complain about the heat.   I made that vow before I knew this summer would feel like the devil rented the house next door and was operating a blast furnace.  Everyone knows my word is my bond, but I am itching (from prickly heat) to complain. The cold winter is looking better.  But Mommy reminded me the grass is always greener when it is not covered by a foot of snow.

How I yearn for one sunny 55 degree days  Why is it always too hot or too cold. Can’t Mother Nature make it just right?

Sigh.  This is River Song reporting from hot, humid, sticky Massachusetts.  I will see you in five months when I will be reporting from under a six-foot snow drift.

Oh Florida, how I long for thee.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Monday Question

Having you gone through training classes?  Do you respond to voice or verbal commands?

Pocket:   No training for me and boy does it show.  If I was a big dog I would be trouble.

River Song:  I got trained at Petco.  It was great. I was trained all alone and everyone in the store played with me.  Later on we found out I was trained by someone in grooming and not a real trainer.  But I am still good. I respond to voice commands.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Summer is our August 5, 2018 Pup of the Week

On August 4 Summer departed for Rainbow Bridge leaving the world a colder place and darker place.  She left her loving parents, Debra and Mike, and her cherished Lutgen lake to begin her life as an angel.

Summer loved the water, and she was very fortunate to have her a lake on her property.  Last week she came out of the water bleeding from the throat.  Her parents thought that she had burst a blood vessel from too much water intake. That injury should have healed quickly. But over the next few days, Summer kept bleeding.

Our water loving girl was taken to the vet and underwent x-rays and an ultrasound.   Something was spotted on her lung.  Everyone prayed it was pneumonia.  When Summer did not respond to treatment, her parents knew it was not pneumonia but much worse.  

Summer tried to hide her illness, so her parents didn’t know how sick she was.  No matter how hard she strived to act, healthy her parents saw through her efforts.  Summer passed on her food, her energy level was down, and her mom could see in her eyes how tired she was.  They knew the time was approaching.

Summer tried to rally.  She went outside to hunt toads and kept her tail wagging.  She ate and took a walk with her dad around the lake.  Soon the illness overtook Summer’s best efforts.  On Saturday morning Summer’s parents knew their baby girl’s mortal coil had worn away.  It was time to give her an immortal body that was free of illness.  Although recognizing the decision would break their hearts Summer’s devoted mom and dad shared one more day with her than set them free.  

There were scores of Summer’s friends waiting for her arrival. We all strained our necks and looked towards the Bridge for Summer.  Then the vast clouds came, filled with human tears shed when Summer passed.  The downpour lasted more than five minutes.   I can’t remember seeing so many tears.  But still no Summer. Never had the tears arrived before the dog.

When the tears stopped, I heard a splashing sound.  I lead a procession to the river.  We found Summer gleefully swimming.  I had seen this behavior before. Newly arrived dogs try to swim back home to their parents.  But Summer wasn’t trying to swim across.  She was happily swimming in circles.

“Summer,” I yelled at her.  “What are you doing? We are here for your ceremony.  Come on up to the top of the Bridge.”

“Why would I want to do that?” Summer called from the river.  This is the best water I have ever swum in.  Why don’t you come join me?”

I was prepared to tell Summer all the reasons this could not be done when our friends poured past me and jumped into the water.   I sighed.  I was wearing my best robe and hated to get my paws wet, but we try to indulge the new angels.  I found a row of rocks to walk on and waded to Summer only getting my back paws wet.  For the first time in my career, I inducted a dog in the river.

Summer and her friends swam in the river the rest of the day.   When it came time for wings Summer said she did not need them. She could swim to the bottom of the river, touch it, and when she surfaced she would be back at Lutgen lake where she could watch over her parents or borrow a flying body if she wanted to get closer to them.

Summer wants her parents to know that if they are missing her, they should look at the lake and know she is still there swimming happily.   And if they wake up with the sheets slightly wet, they got a dream visit from Summer fresh from the pond.

Summer Grace will always be in her favorite spot, happily swimming, and watching her house, to keep her parents safe.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Foley, 12 and Bisket Look for Rainbow Beach

One day I was walking along the river bank with two of my oldest friends, Auntie Gretchen’s Angel Bisket and Auntie Judi’s angel 12.   We saw, lying on the grass, a stinky, orange blob.  I wanted to avoid it, but Bisket has always had an inquisitive mind.  He poked at the blob with his paw.

“Excuse me!” the blob said. Bisket ran behind 12, a huge Newfoundland,  and I jumped on the big dog’s back.

“What the hell is that?” I asked to no one.

“I am Ollie, the octopus,” the blob said.  “A short while ago,  I minded my own business floating in the ocean when a stupid shark bit me in two.  The shark said I was going to be fine, soon I would be at Rainbow Beach, but instead, I ended up in this stupid river.”

12 laid down so I could get off of him.  “I have been at the Bridge a long time and have never heard of Rainbow Beach,” I said, slowly approaching the blob.

“Well, I never heard of Rainbow Bridge,” Ollie answered.  “We were told all ocean animals go to Rainbow Beach. I haven’t heard from you land animals.  I never met any until now.”

I walked closer to the stinky thing.  “I think when you passed over the Great Old Dogs did not know if you were a land blob or an ocean blob, so they sent you to the land by mistake.  Now we have to figure out how to get you to Rainbow Beach.”
“I am not a blob,” Ollie said.  

“Have you ever looked in a mirror?” Bisket asked.

I think the blob was angry but who could tell?  

“We’ve never found it before,” 12 said.  “Why don’t we just put him in the river and he can swim there?”

“Yuch!” the blob yelled.  “I am not going into that bilge.   I need salt water.   I would rather live on land.”

I was starting to figure out why the shark ate this snarky octopus.  “Maybe we can find Rainbow Beach if we look hard enough,” 12 said.  We all agreed to help Ollie find him forever home.

We started walking when we heard Ollie behind us.   “Excuse me, someone is going to have to carry me, I don’t have any legs, you know.”

We looked at one another.  We loved all of God’s creatures, but this thing was gross.  “I am too small to carry it,” I said.

“And I have a hankering for calamari,” Bisket barked.

12 knew it would be up to him.  He has always been a kind soul.  He offered to carry the slimy weight.  It was hard to get the blob situated on 12, but finally, Ollie was safely on his back, and we began walking along the river.

Suddenly a long, ugly snake-like creature climbed out of the river.  “What you got on your back?” it asked.

We ignored the water snake.  They are very untrustworthy.    But the blob, who was proving to be a bother, began jabbering about Rainbow Beach.  The snake said he was an eel and could swim in both fresh and saltwater.  He promised to show us the way to the Beach.  Ollie insisted we go. My friends and I discussed what we should do.  We decided to cautiously trust the eel.

“Can we walk along the river bank?” Bisket asked.

“No, you have to get in the water,” the eel said.

Yuck!  But we had promised to try and find Rainbow Beach, so we all got in except for Ollie who refused to put a tentacle in freshwater   We moved slowly through the river.  I climbed on Bisket when the water got too high.  Ollie continued to complain about our pace until 12 shook him off and he flew into the river.  “Actually, it isn’t that bad,” the chagrined octopus said.

The eel led us to a small tributary that after a couple of twists turned into a wild sea.  We were lifted by the waves and tossed on to the beach where penguins, dolphins sharks and whales were all basking in the sun. “Dogs!” one of the sharks yelled in terror, and they all slithered into the sea in fear.

Ollie yelled to them that we were not a threat and we, with the eel, had helped him find Rainbow Beach.  The eel was hiding under a rock.  One of the whales returned to shore and tossed the rock aside.  “How could you lead the leg walkers to our Beach?” the whale asked.

“I’m an eel, it’s what I do,” it said then slithered away.

I stepped up.  “I am sorry we have invaded your secret place,” I said.  “I am sure we would be intimidated if whales, sharks and sea lions came swimming up the river.  I know we have different lifestyles, but I am sure we can live in peace and be an example for mortal humans.”

A shark, whale and sea lion discussed our proposal then turned to us.  “We agree, we shall have peace between our groups, and we will send emissaries between our lands. 
 Now come to join us for a feast.”  We sat on the beach with them and happily ate a seafood buffet.  Like with the Bridge food, what we ate quickly regenerated in the ocean and joined us, although they did not eat themselves.

Then we swam with the dolphins, played on the whales, and frolicked with the penguins.  It was like a whole new world had opened to us. When the sun was setting, we swam out to the tributary and found out way back to the Bridge.  We couldn’t wait to tell our friends about Rainbow Beach.

Thanks to Bisket and 12 our immortal world got bigger with more adventures ahead of us.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Pocket and the Broken Appliances

What a week we had!  I am going to have to sleep until September to make up for it.

All the problems began last year, when the two-year-old HVAC unit stopped working, causing my parents to install two insufficient window units to try and protect us from the broiling heat. It worked, as long as we did not stray too far from the units.  The original one was supposed to be under warranty, so my parents asked me to draw up court documents, and they prepared to sue the service company.

During this time our tankless hot water heater started to work intermittently.   One minute would be hot water, the next cold, then hot again.. My parents first said they would address this after the HVAC unit issue was resolved, and, once it was, Mommy wanted to wait until spring so the plumbers would not track dirt on her floors.  (My Daddy has to remove his shoes when he goes inside. We are lucky we don’t have to remove our paws.)

In October my parents were awarded money for the HVAC system and had a new one put in.  Everything was working except for the hot water. This spring my parents had various plumbers look at the tankless heater and were either told it was beyond repair or the plumber did not want to work on the unit.

Finally, Daddy got someone to look at the hot water heater. Before the plumber arrived, Mommy opened the washing machine and found all the clothes soaking wet.  The agitator was broken. They hired another plumber to look at that, and he said the part would cost as much as the machine, which makes no sense, since, if that were true,  every other part of the washer would have to be free, but what do I know, I’m just the dog. “It’s only two years old,” he said. “It shouldn’t have done that.”

We heard a lot of that.  My Daddy called Whirlpool and ended up buying an expensive machine that was discounted because “it shouldn’t have happened” but still cost a wicked amount of money.  That was scheduled to come on Tuesday. The plumber for the water heater was coming on Monday.

On Monday the water heater was fixed. The plumber played with us a little bit.  On Tuesday two men came in with the washing machine, and we were put in the bedroom and did not get played with at all.  It was the first day in more than a year that all the appliances worked. Almost.

That night the air conditioner froze up.  At first, my parents hoped it was a freak thing.  We went to the groomers that day for a summer haircut which is exactly like a winter grooming except it is warmer out.  When we got home, on a humid day, the air conditioner was not working. So much for our appliance streak. Daddy called another plumber.  Plumber is a term meaning ‘I only work on one appliance.” The plumber said, “well that shouldn’t have happened.” Whatever was wrong with the washing machine the HVAC unit probably caught it.  The plumber said he would send his partner to our house at 2:30 the next day.

Daddy was at work.  He had been told he would get a call on his cell phone before the plumber arrived.  2:30 went by, 3:00 went by, 3:30 went by. Daddy called Mommy and asked if a plumber had arrived.  She said no through the sweat drops. Daddy called the elusive plumber several times with no answer.

When Daddy got home, the plumber called.  His partner, before our scheduled appointment, had fallen off a roof.  Man, everything happens to us. The plumber’s partner had only sprained his ankle. 

  It must have been a tiny house. The plumber with two good ankles said he would be over in the morning.   Mommy took some happy pills, and we all tried to sleep in the bed without touching one another.

The next morning the plumber came and fixed the HVAC unit.  He said a bunch of stuff that amounted to “well that shouldn’t have happened.”  I would like to say things were fine after that, but it had been very humid when the unit was not working, and the house was stuffed with hot air, much like the plumbers.  It took a day to cool off.

Now we are on a streak of a few days with all the appliances working, but we know we are just a few days away from some other appliance catching “well that shouldn’t have happened” and needing repair.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Beat This Caption

I am sure it is a very cute picture. Now open the freaking door because we are soaking wet out here. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Question

Where is your favorite place to be scratched?

Pocket:  My ears, by where they meet my head.

River Song:  My belly, all day long.  I don't even roll over.  People just reach down and scratch

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Four Hero Dogs Are Our July 29, 2018 Pups of the Week

Finally, I had a week when I did not have to greet any friends at the Bridge.  We angels have been working hard trying to keep several of our friends and their parents healthy.  We don’t mind. Any week we don’t greet a friend is a victory, and it has been a long time between wins.

So it is time for me to recognize four outstanding pups, all of whom are heroes in their own right.

The first is Lucifer, or, as his family lovingly calls him, Lucy.  Lucifer’s daddy was in his Hutchinson Kansas home with his feet up on his recliner sleeping when Lucy jumped on his lap interrupting a well-deserved nap.  Waking a parent is usually the wrong thing for a pup to do but Lucy had her reason.

Larry’s house had caught on fire, and his smoke alarms failed.  Lucy saved his life by waking him up, and Larry was able to save Lucy’s two siblings just before the house became engulfed.

While Moore lost his house and many of his possessions he said all he cared about was that he, Lucy, and the other two dogs survived, thanks to his heroic little dog.

Sometimes hero dogs don’t have names.  Forty-year-old Marion Ion of Romania found that out the hard way.  He was riding his bike in a wooded area of Mount Semenic at night and crashed.  When Ion tried to move, he found he couldn’t. He was totally alone in the dark and injured.

Mr. Ion heard the sound of paws coming towards him.  Who knew what predatory animal was waiting for dinner?  The animal came near and then lay up against him. It was a stray dog, who, instead of taking advantage of the accident, did what all dogs dog, he took care of an injured human.

When the ambulance arrived the paramedics, put a blanket around Mr. Ion, and the dog stayed nearby to keep him warm.  When Mr. Ion was loaded into the vehicle, the dog got in the ambulance with him. The police removed the dog. When the ambulance left the dog ran down the street after it.

Mr. Ion recovered in the hospital from a dislocated hip and mild hypothermia.  Meanwhile, the hero dog now has a name, Max, and a home, with the vice-president of Caras-Severin county council Ionut Mihai Popovic
European dogs are not the only way who can save missing humans.  An 11-year-old boy went for a walk in the woods behind his house and got lost as it became dark and torrential rain started.

Enter Leo, a nine-year-old German Shepherd and a veteran K9 for the Trempealeau County Sheriff's Office who, among his many duties, is a scent tracker.  Leo was given a pair of pajamas the boy had worn the day before. The dog sniffed them, remembered the scent and headed into the woods with his handler.

It was difficult because of the torrential rain.  Leo kept losing the scent. Still, it only took him 15 minutes to find the boy huddled under a tree a half mile from home. The boy was brought to his worried parents and has fully recovered from the incident.

That may have been Leo’s last save.  He is scheduled to retire at age ten for a well-deserved rest.

Our final dog is named Baloo.  He did not save a sleeping dad, a bike rider or a child.  But he did show ingenuity beyond that of the common dog. What do you do when you are hot and want to cool off but don’t want to go outside?  This was Baloo’s answer.

He grabbed the hose, brought the working sprinkler into the house and cooled off in the living room.  Thankfully his mom, Cora Wohr, took a picture of her fun-loving little man before she turned off the water  In his defense at least he did not ask to go to the pool.

I hope to tell you the tales of more hero dogs next week because that means that no friends crossed the Bridge.  Those weeks are coming further apart.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Foley Reports on the FDA's Warning About Grain Free Dog Food

I do feel bad for our parents.  There are so many decisions they have to make regarding our health.  Just when they think they have made the right decision the information changes.

After years of eating the same food, two months ago, my parents decided to switch my sisters to grain free food.  River Song had several feet, and ear infections and Pocket often has a bad tummy. Since they made the switch River hasn’t had any allergies and Pocket’s belly has been better.


Then the stories started.  Grain free food, long promoted as the gold standard of the pet food industry was the common thread in some dogs who were suffering from DCM or dilated cardiomyopathy which makes the heart weaken and become enlarged causing some dogs to suddenly go into heart failure.

There are dogs who are prone to DCM like Doberman pinschers, Irish wolfhounds, boxers and Great Danes.  But recently veterinarians have seen DCM in golden retrievers, doodle mixes, Labrador retrievers and Shih Tzus.  The common factor in many of these cases has been grain free diets, and, in a few cases, a raw diet.
It is not the absence of grains but what is substituted.  Peas, lentils, chickpeas, and potatoes, which replace the grains in grain free food is being looked like the possible culprit.  Some researchers believe that the carbohydrates are blocking the body’s ability to either make taurine or absorb taurine. Many of the most popular grain free brands, including Blue Buffalo, which my sisters eat, contains taurine, an amino acid used to break down fat, which is good, unless the carbohydrates are blocking the taurine, which is bad. Right now researchers don’t know.  Many of the dogs with DCM have low taurine levels, but some have normal levels, deepening the mystery.

No researcher has named a specific brand of food.  They have mentioned the term “boutique brands” meaning those that are made in small batches and not sold in major retail stores.  They also have said exotic proteins like buffalo, kangaroo, and alligator Poultry and beef does contain taurine which helps keep taurine levels up if taurine is the problem.  

Dog food companies have been trying to outdo each other by raising protein levels for years.  Many consumers think protein equals meat, but often protein equals peas or potatoes. Many dog food companies, will split the carbohydrates up and list a few different types of peas or potatoes under ingredients.  This could mean the main source of protein in your dog's food comes from carbs and not meat.

There are millions of dogs who eat grain free food and below one percent are showing symptoms of DCM.    The vets are still not certain if it is a problem for all dogs or for certain ones who have rare biological issues causing the body to react poorly to peas and potatoes.  The research is in the early stages. But the FDA was concerned enough about grain free food that they issued a warning to consumers.

My parents haven’t decided if they should switch back to food with grains.  The vet tech they talked to said she feeds grain free food and sees no reason to stop.  My parents are weighing the possible benefits of grain free for Pocket’s tummy problems and River’s allergies.  They are going to monitor the research and make a decision when it is time to buy the next bag.

Being a dog parent is hard, and with this new controversy about grain free food, it has got harder.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

River Talks with the Resurrected Butterfly Bush

I am happy to report after a perilous spring the butterfly bush is blooming and attracting lots of butterfly angels who fill our lives with beauty and love.

It took a lot of tender loving care from my mom, a good trim, and some of my special puppy growth urine for the bush to thrive.

When I was peeing the bush back to its former glory, I sparked a friendship with my green friend.  Last week, after he had begun to bud again, I heard a voice in my head, much sweeter than the usual voices that reside there.  “Hello River,” it said.

I looked around.  “Hello?” I barked.

“Don’t bark out loud,” the voice said.  “No one can hear me and dogs who bark to themselves have to attend special classes.  I just wanted to thank you for your efforts to return me to proper health.”

I looked up at the bush.  “Is that you?” I barked.

“Yes,” it said impatiently.  “Now, stop barking out loud, just think what you want to say to me.”
“You mean you can read my mind?” I thought.

“Yes, you dirty little dog.  But you are not as weird as that strangelYorkie you pal around with.  Now listen, I thought I was a goner during the winter. I was cold, alone, buried in snow.  I could feel myself bending further and further to the ground. Some of my branches broke off; it was a grim existence.”

I didn’t know what to think, and I was trying to keep my mind clear from thoughts I did not want to share.  I gave the bush a lick of kindness.

“When the snow melted, and I was all bent, hanging over the driveway, I was sure your parents were going to cut me down to nothing.  I heard you thinking that I should be given a chance, and I could read your parents seeing the thoughts in your eyes and agreeing to give me a chance.”

“Can you read my parents thoughts?” I asked.

“Oh sister, you don’t even want to go there.  That is one dark, scary place. Just think of them as the kind, loving people they are and don’t wonder what goes on behind the curtain.  But luckily, in the midst of all their twisty thoughts, they decided to cut me back, water me regularly, and give me lots of love. When the sun got high, and the days warmer, I could feel myself become stronger and then one day I felt bursts of energy running down my branches and viola, I had buds.”

I told the bush that I was very happy it recovered and brought pretty butterfly angels to the yard. 

 Butterfly angels are good luck, and we can always use that. Then I asked how much my special pee helped him recover.

“Oh, about that,” the bush said.  “I would appreciate it if you would stop pissing on me.  It doesn’t help and tastes terrible. But outside of that, I thank you very much, and if you ever need shelter from the rain, you just stand under me.  Just make sure you don’t tell anyone, people think dogs who communicate with bushes are barking crazy.”

But I had to share the story of the saved butterfly bushes with all of you and give you the message to never give up even when they think you are barking crazy

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Beat This Caption

As I stand in front of my puppy training graduates today I want to remind you that while we are obedient we are not subservient, while we may come when they call we still do so by own our free will.  We don't chew the shoes, or pull on the leash, or bark at every noise because that is what we choose.  We may be good dogs but we still reserve the right to chase a squirrel or poop in your slippers.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday Question

What causes you the most anxiety?

Pocket:  High pitched noises or loud noises like thunder.

River Song:  Being left alone

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Wishbone is our July 22, 2018 Pup of the Week

Someday, when I have been at the Bridge for hundreds of years, I will be sitting with a group of young pups around me, and a dog will run past us at lightning speed.  The young pups will ask “What was that?” And I will tell them the Legend of Wishbone.
I would compare Wishbone to the legendary Harry Potter.  Harry was the boy who, against all odds, lived, and Wishbone is the dog who, despite being close to being sent to the Bridge several times, survived for more than nine years.

Wishbone, a coonhound, was born in North Carolina, and unwanted from birth.  He was marked for the Bridge by his first owner when Paula Malatesta, a legendary dog rescuer, saved him from death row and brought him home where he could become part of a large pack, some permanent, some transitory.

Wishbone saw himself as more of the transitory sort, and, the first chance he got, he ran away. Paula looked for days, posted pictures of him, and was about to lose hope when one Sunday, upon leaving church, she saw him, and ran, then tumbled, down a hill where she landed next to Wishbone, who decided if the woman were that determined to keep him he would allow himself to be kept.

Paula was stricken with health problems, and her concerned family thought the dog rescuing was the cause of her medical issues so they gathered up Paula’s rescues and her own dogs then took them to the shelter while Paula was in the hospital.  Realizing that the reaper was seeking him again Wishbone fled.

When Paula was released from the hospital, she found Wishbone but knew she could no longer keep him.  Thanks to the large network of moms on social media Wishy found a home with a family in faraway New Hampshire.   When he entered Tiffany’ Campbell’s house and saw her husband, and two kids, he knew he was finally home and stopped running.  

A few months after I departed for the Bridge my parents with Pocket and River Song went to Momma Laura and Pokey’s pack’s house to meet with several New England dogs and Whiskey’s mom from California.  That is when my parents met sweet, gentle Wishbone who could not have been kinder or better behaved. He was even nice to Pocket and River which take a lot of patience. The first time my parents laid eyes on Wishbone, like everyone,  they loved him.

Sometimes, when a dog escapes the Bridge’s reach, the Bridge never stops pursuing him.  As Wishbone aged his body began to break down. He had trouble standing, and the doctor said he had four compressive discs in his back which caused chronic intervertebral disc disease.  Wishy was in his forever home, and no matter how often they had to help him to stand and walk, Wishbone would not be leaving again.

By the end of that year, the vet told Wishy’s parents that if their beloved boy had an operation, he could walk without pain.  His parents agreed. Wishbone had a difficult time after surgery, having to be carried outside, walk in a sling, and be “expressed” but Wishbone did it all with dignity. He had been through worse.

That was over a year and a half ago.  The surgery did give Wishbone relief but it was temporary and each day became more painful for him.  This week Momma Tiffany made the hardest decision and sent him to the persistent Bridge.

He was met by all of Paula’s pups and his New Hampshire sister Annie who had surgery to remove her leg before she got to the Bridge, only to find afterward that cancer had spread far beyond the limb.  Annie is now patron saint for the tripaw dogs.
Annie announced after I swore Wishbone in like an angel, he got his wings, and the clouds of human tears passed over us, that Wishbone would join her as a patron saint.

  He is the saint of all dogs whose future seems hopeless. They will now look in the sky and see a star, and that star will be Wishbone, and they will believe in a better life.

And his mom can see the star too.  She doesn’t have two angels watching over her, she has two saints, which will leave her in very good paws.

But she knows she has been in good paws from the moment she saved Wishbone.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Social Networking Parents Come Together to Save a Dog Named Radar

This is a story about a dog named Radar who needed a lot of help from caring humans to get to his forever home.

Radar belonged to our friend Angel’s mom  Lori’s neighbors.  Momma Lori saw Radar nearly every day.  He was malnourished and mistreated.  He was left outside in the worst heat and in terrible rains.  Over time Momma Lori could not take seeing this dog so abused, and she convinced the family to surrender Radar.

Unfortunately, Momma Lori was already living in a house overstuffed with dogs.  She was going to have to find a good home for the little man.  She took him to the vet where she found out he suffered from ringworm and Lyme disease.  It was an unwanted expense for Momma Lori, who had recently suffered lots of damage from the floods, but she had sworn to be Radar’s angel on Earth.

It is fitting that this was the week when Radar needed to find his way to a new home because it also marks the tenth anniversary of Doggyspace the social network that brought many of us together.  Angel Tommy Tunes, to commemorate the event, posted a blog showing many old friends who we have lost touch with or are now angels.  People commented about how they found the site and the wonderful friends they made there.

It is proper that Angel Tommy was the one to write this blog because it was Doggyspace that helped Tommy’s sister Freddy get to Tommy’s Dad’s house after Freddy’s mom Gina passed away. When Tommy’s dad was one of the two people who offered to take Freddy and her sister into their homes, it was the DS parents who came together to transport Freddy all the way to Florida in the middle of a blizzard.

While DS has been discontinued the friendships remain.  Carol Johnson-Isaacson read about Radar’s plight, and she found someone in her home state of Minnesota who would give Radar the home he deserved.  The problem was getting Radar from Nebraska to Minnesota.  All it took was one post on the Doggyspace Facebook Group where many of our friends had found refuge.

Momma Karen Schlabach, who was instrumental in transporting Freddy to Florida, stepped up and said that she would be the middle person to take Radar from Lori and to meet Carol.  The only other part to address was the money for the transport and medical expenses.  The three caring women asked their old DS friends for help raising money.  It did not take long for that to happen.

The transport began on Saturday.  Momma Lori took Radar to meet Momma Karen.  Momma Lori tearfully said goodbye to a dog she thought of as her own.   There were tears in her eyes because she would miss him, but also because she knew the hungry, wet, uncared for dog who would visit her pack was now going somewhere that he would know nothing but love.  It was truly a bittersweet moment.

Momma Karen drove to meet Momma Carol and gave her Lori.  Momma Carol then delivered Lori to his forever home.  Doggyspace, and sites like it, were about celebrating dogs, but they grew into something more, a way for humans to make dogs’ lives better.  Eleven years ago Momma Lori would not have found a home for Radar so quickly if at all, proving that people who let pets into their lives are the most caring people in the world.

This is a picture of a happy, well cared for Radar with his Dad.  Radar had a happy ending. Thanks to the Internet, and caring parents, more parents and dogs should be getting happy endings and their forever homes.

So, to the parents who are reading this, or spend lots of time on pet sites, especially at work, if anyone asks you why it is because you are saving lives.  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pocket and the Walks We Take

We are very lucky.  We live in the middle of a large neighborhood with a 10 MPH speed limit and lots of different places to walk.  Mommy likes to take different routes to change the scenery. We are all for that. A new direction means more pee-mail to read and stories to pee.

When my parents bought their first house together, it was in development across the street from the village where we now live.  After work, they would take our angel sister Blake for a walk around our present village and talk about how nice and quiet it would be to live here when they got old.  Some residents complained about my parents walking Blake in their village because they didn’t live here. My parents ignored the “Private Property” sign and boldly walked Blake on the quiet streets.  Now that my parents are old, and live here, they grumble about people who don’t live here waking their dogs on their lawn too. People change.

There is another factor to determine which direction we walk.  River and I know where every dog lives. Sometimes the pups are outside, or in a window, ready to bark with us, and other times they are hiding inside.  River and I bark so they know their friends are outside and we start the entire neighborhood barking. Depending on how much our parents want to listen to our barking we may go one way or another.

Our normal route is a quiet one.  We stay off the two main roads where most of the houses are.  There is also an area with woods on either side. It is a nice place to walk, and that means it has one big upside for us and a downside for our parents.  Other people like to walk there too. We think the only reason anyone would be outside is to give us attention, so we bark and pull towards them. Some of them do give us attention, but most of them just talk about how cute we are and keep walking.  Talk is cheap. You want to see the cute you got to give us at least a scratch.

If we go to the left, then we are headed for the front of the development.  There is a lot of common area in that direction but there is also a house with two dogs, and they like to sit outside with their parents.  If the pups see us, it triggers a cacophony of barking and even more ignored pleas to be quiet from the humans. If the dogs aren’t out then we turn around at the office and go home, but if they are out then, we get a longer walk, because Mommy doesn’t want us going past the barking dogs again.  On those days we walk on the main streets. We bark at every house where a dog lives and at every person walking. Honestly, the barking is more exhausting than the walking.

Mommy and Daddy usually walk us together.  Occasionally, Daddy walks us alone, and that is when we get a barn walk.  There is an old barn at the front of our site. We walk around that, up a hill, then go over a fence and walk along it, with the tall grass ticking our paws, as we smell everything, and enjoy the room to roam.  We love when Mommy goes with us but getting the fence walk is a treat.

I will say no matter what direction we go I have never gone on a bad walk.  Even a two-minute walk is okay with me as long I am outside and with my parents.

A day with a walk is always a good day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Beat This Caption

I am not going to school today.  All of my friends are going to make fun of me because of my socks.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Question

What is the best way too cool off?

River Song:  I put my entire face in a cold bowl of water then lie on the bare floor with my leg spread out until I cool down.

Pocket:  I find a human to sit with.  This is also what I do when I am cold, scared, happy and sad.  It is my go-to move.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lucy is our July 15, 2018 Pup of the Week

I heard a beeping on my phone in the middle of the night and knew what that foretold.  Yet another angel had earned their wings. I put on my judge’s robe, and my big slippers, because the grass was wet with dew, then hurried to the meeting point at the top of Rainbow Bridge.

I looked at my phone for an update.  It said my friend Lucy would be joining us.  I sighed. Such a brave girl. She had been fighting a winning battle against cancer for three years.  But the thing about cancer is it only has to win twice when it first arrives, and the final battle.

It was in the middle of the night at Lucy’s mom April’s house.  I wondered if Lucy had slipped away during the wee hours. She has always been such a polite girl.  It would be so like her not to make a fuss, or force her mom to make the hardest decision, and just let her mortal coil be found in the morning when Lucy could return as an angel and give her mom the comfort she needed.

When I reached the greeting area, there was a man looking over the river.   A human waiting for a pup to cross is rare. The last time I saw one, it was Macdougal’s dad who I had met when I arrived.  I stood next to the nice looking man who smiled down at me. We waited silently.

First, we heard the paw steps, then we saw Lucy, running, for the first time in years, cancer free, feeling young and spry.   The man next to me bent down and whistled. Lucy’s ears perked up, and she saw him, then she ran so fast she was like a lightning bolt zagging across the grass.

Lucy ran into his arms and knocked him over.  She started licking his face 1,000 times. Apparently, they knew one another. I started to feel I was intruding and stepped back.  The man and the dog played for five minutes until Lucy turned to me. “Foley, this is my dad, he has been waiting for me,” Lucy explained.

I didn’t know Lucy had a Dad at the Bridge  I took his paw in my hand and introduced myself.  I told him, there were certain rituals that we had to follow and he stepped aside and told me he would not interfere.  By now word had spread of Lucy’s arrival, and her friends ran over hills and through valleys to get to their beloved pup pal.

Her father watched happily as his baby played with her friends and acted like the pup he once knew. Finally, Lucy separated herself from the dogs and went to her father. I did not want to eavesdrop, but I was standing near them and have always been a bit of a snoop.

They talked about Lucy’s mom.  Our little friend was worried. Lucy knew her mom would be heartbroken and she wanted to be there to help.  Lucy’s dad assured her he had done nothing but look after his wife since he came to the Bridge, and he was not going to stop now.  And he had ways of ghosting a loved one that we dogs didn’t know anything about. Sometimes humans can even be seen. Lucy took her dad’s hand, and they flew into the sun to help guide and support a mom and wife respectfully.

I knew Lucy would adjust to the Bridge swimmingly.  She still has a human to live with. I hoped they could help her mom.  It is hard to be the one left behind.

Hopefully, now that Momma April has two angels working for her full time she will find her way out of the grief to love again.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Foley and Heart Memories

It was my good friend Odie’s Bridge Anniversary last week.  Bridge Anniversaries are sad occasions, marking the last time our parents got to look in our eyes, to touch us, to tell us that they love us.  We Angels work very hard to make sure the pup who has the anniversary does not get sad. We arranged for Odie to go on a boat ride down the river and every time the boat came around a  bend a scene of Odie and his parents from his mortal life was playing on a screen. I do believe we kept him happy despite the sad day.

The Angels do have it easier than our parents.  We can slip into their dreams and snuggle with them, to feel their body heat, to even touch their warm skin.  We can smell them and taste them. It is bliss to be back with them, but also frustrating because our parents believe they are dreaming and when they awaken they may remember a nonsensical snippet of the dream, but most of it is gone.

Our parents don’t remember how some nights we sit with them while they tell us all their problems and, to their surprise, we converse with them, giving them the best advice, which they usually follow to their advantage.  Angels never give bad advice.
As we meandered our way down the river, Odie wondered what happens to those memories our parents have of dream dates.  The memories are still there, but can’t be accessed.

“I think it is like a computer,” Odie said.  “When we are visiting with our parents, they are retaining all these memories but when they awaken the thoughts are erased.”

“But they must go somewhere,” I said.

Scooby was eating a big piece of cake.  He licked the frosting off his mouth. “When you erase something on a computer it doesn’t go away, it stays on the hard drive but can’t be accessed by the memory.”

“Where is the human hard drive?” I asked

Odie smiled.  “It’s the heart,” he said.  “All the memories that get overwritten in a human mind go to the heart, where the brain can’t remember them, but the heart can.

And that is what helps the humans get through the most difficult times. The memories that are kept in their heart. The unexplained feeling of strength or comfort that rises inside of them.  That is caused by the heart memories.”

I knew Odie was right.  It explained everything.  Our dream dates are not forgotten, they just go into the human heart, where they are most needed, because those memories help heal broken hearts, and they spark unexplained feelings of calm or happiness even in the hardest moments. 

So, dear parents, do not feel bad that you cannot remember the dream dates.  You do, but you remember them with the heart and not the mind, so, instead of it being a memory, it is a feeling, which can be even more comforting than things you remember with your brain.

And someday, when we are all together, your heart memories will join your brain memories and a huge feeling of peace will overcome as you cross the Bridge to your immortal life.

Until then, dear humans, heed my advice listen to your heart more than your head because that is where all the truly important memories are kept.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

River Has a Tick Talk

I was lying in bed, late at night, when I felt something moving by my left ear.  I brushed it with my paw. A tick fell off me on to the sheet. Surprised, I stood.  “What were you doing on me?” I asked.

“Bah, I was hungry,” the tick said.  “I’ve been outside in your yard for days with nothing in my belly when you came by on your leash.  I hopped on you and waited, all night, for you to fall asleep so I could bite you and drink your blood.  But every time I tried to bite you I was repelled by your skin. You must be wearing the poison.”

“My mom puts some sticky stuff on my back to keep you ticks off of me.”   When I said “ticks” my voice could not hide my disgust.

“Don’t get uppity with me!” the offended tick said.  “It isn’t my fault I was born a blood-sucking nuisance.  It’s who I am. Who are you to judge? You get kibble given to you on a clean plate every day.  No one feeds me blood; I have to lay in the grass and wait.”

“You gave me Lyme disease!” I barked.  “I had to go on medication for weeks, and three years later I am still carrying the illness.”

“I didn’t give you nothing,” the tick said.  “I am barely a year old. And I got the disease from a mouse.”  I grunted in disgust. “Don’t judge me; I have to suck every vermin out there just to make it until tomorrow.  But I got off that disgusting little thing as soon as I could.”

“I don’t feel sorry for you,” I said to the little creature, “you just want to attach yourself to a hard working dog and live off me for nothing!  

“Not true!” the angry tick countered.  “I go from animal to animal trying to get enough blood to stay alive.  Oh, it's a wicked existence. I would not wish it on anyone. I couldn’t even find a yard with big dogs, I only had you two little ones to pick from, and when I finally worked up the nerve to jump on you, I find you are wearing the poison, which is very unhealthy by the way.  You should get the collar. We know not to jump on dogs with the collars. But no, you need to be tricky with your poison drops. Bah! I curse you.”

I did not like this tick’s attitude.  He had hidden on me to get inside and now was in my bed, being argumentative.  “I don’t wear the collar because I have a collapsing trachea,” I explained.

“Oh, how terrible for you!” the sarcastic tick answered.

“And we don’t take the pills because of Pocket’s tummy,”

“Oh the pills,” the tick shook his head.  “I know all about the pills. I have heard of ticks which had died on the pill.  They bite a dog, get infected and expire. What a way to go! Right in mid-suck.  That’s how I’d like to go, in the middle of sucking. But no, I had to get the only two dogs in America still using the drops.  I’m telling you, I don’t get no respect.”

“Well, you can’t stay here.  Pocket has the drops too,” I told him.

“Oh, I don’t want to bite her.  Too scrawny. I could suck that thing for days and never get off.  But these humans are tempting.”

I could not let him bite my parents.  If they get Lyme disease, it is much more serious than when I did.  They should be wearing drops and collars.

I knew I had to get this thing out of my bed.  Mommy would freak out if she found it there in the morning.  I assured him if she did he would end up in the toilet. And I forbid him to latch on to Mommy.  We agreed he could hide in Daddy’s hair until morning and hop out when he took us outside.

But, as history has taught us, all tick are liars, which was unfortunate for him, because midway through the day Daddy felt something in his hair, pinched it, said “oh crap, it’s a tick!” ran into the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet.

Good luck in the sewers my little friend.  Maybe you will get to go to the Bridge where you can live happily, or come back as something better.

I can’t think how it would be possible to come back as something worse.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Beat This Caption

Oh my god!  You were caught in a trap and hauled on to a boat?  Then what happened?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday Question

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

Pocket:  I would want to have x-ray vision so I can find the ball I like to chase when is missing.

River Song:  I would like to be able to suddenly add weight to my body so when I am snuggled on Mommy she can't get up and I don't have to move and she can't leave me.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Jewel is our July 8, 2018 Pup of the Week

I hate to apologize to friends.  When I need to do that it means I may have hurt a pup and nothing bothers me more.  My first rule, like all dogs, is always to be kind.

I walked through our Doggyspace neighborhood to a new sparkling house covered in jewels, which was appropriate because living inside, after arriving at the Bridge ten days earlier, was my old friend Jewel.

I rang her bell.  The chime sounded pretty.  I heard the pitter patter of paws, and then Jewel opened the door.  “Hello, Foley,” she said, then gave me a long hug.

When she let me go, I took hold of her paws.  “My friend, I owe you an apology,” I said. A confused Jewel asked me why.

“I try to pay tribute to a dog each week, usually one that arrives at Rainbow Bridge.”

“Oh yes,” Jewel said.  “I read them, I know some people find them emotionally manipulative and overly maudlin but I like them.”

This is what I love about Jewel.  She has always been a straight shooter.  I continued. “Last week, when Kaizer came, I decided to write about him.  I should have written about you too.”

“Oh Foley,” she said touching my face.  “It’s OK. I would rather have a blog all about me, even if I have to wait a week.  You never have to apologize. Now come in and have a slice of lemon cake.”

I sat down at her table, and she gave me a delicious slice of lemon cake.  I asked her how she was adjusting to living at the Bridge. “It is lovely here,” Jewel said as her eyes looked over her little house.  “But I do miss Mommy so. She took such tender care of me my whole life, and I tried to do the same for her. Sometimes I was hard to care for because I was a nervous, little dog.  But nothing calmed me down like Mommy. I still get the shakes, even here, and at first, I couldn’t calm down because Mommy wasn’t there, but then I thought of her, and I slipped right into her mind, and it calmed me.  I hope she knew I was there. I don’t think she knew in her mind, but I hope she did in heart, because that is where the most treasured memories are kept.”

Jewel took our plates and put them in the sink then sat down.  “I felt terrible when I took sick, not for me, but for Mom. All her worst fears rushed upon her at once.  Mommy hadn’t been working much, which was great because we had a lot of time together, but she didn’t have money, and the last thing she needed was a sick pup.  But we can’t control these things. I developed a cough and a heart murmur. I knew the number of heartbeats I had left was ending, and I metered each one out to stay as long as I could, and Mommy spent every cent she had to stretch that heart beats out too, but finally, they ran out, and I expired, having to leave her.”  Jewel grabbed a tissue with her paw and dabbed her eyes. “I just wish there was more time.”

“We all do,” I said, and then we hugged and sat silently for a long time.

“That’s not my story,” Jewel said, “that’s just the end.  Come again sometime, and I will tell you the real story of my life. The happy, fun-filled, loving days I spent with my Mom.  That is a story worth telling and remembering, not the end, that was just a sliver of life. I know we concentrate on the end, but we need to remember all the good before the end.”

The sun was setting.  I needed to get home. I stood and thanked Jewel for the lemon cake.  I promised to come back with a cake of my own and to hear all her stories about her life.  The important times, the only ones worth hearing, all the days before the end.