Sunday, December 31, 2017

The 145 are the December 31, 2017 Pups of the Week

I sat on a wooden bench outside the small church that stands in a green valley under the shadow of Rainbow Bridge.  I had asked for the bell to be rung 145 times.  I looked at my friends, some playing in the river, others running on the green grass and further up, in the hills, more played in the snow.  The bell chimed for the 145th time.  That one was for Hattie.  The 144 before that were for each friend that has crossed the Bridge since I began writing about them in 2009.  

I thought of the parents who had lost the 145, some of them have lost one pup, others have lost three, and there were those who lost two, sometimes within a few days of one another.

When the clanging concluded I was left with one emotion:  Hope.

I have experienced the pain each parent felt as their dog passed over the Bridge.  It is a shattering hurt.  I didn’t think any human could persevere through it.  They had the same doubts.  But they kept moving forward, proving that they are stronger than hell, because they trekked through the very depths and came out the other side.

And that what gives me hope.  

Because after such unbearable suffering these people step up and open their home to another dog desperately waiting for a family.  They know, from the dog’s first step in their house, that they will be crushed again, but they still give the pup a perfect life until that day comes.

That is one of the bravest acts people will undertake during their lives.

Of course, from the time between the dog’s first step to the final heartbeat, there is going to be joy 99% of the time.  Having a dog in your house is like living on stage at a Springsteen concert:  Happy, sad, exciting, challenging, optimism and joy.  (You can insert your own artist here, but the Monster has always been a Springsteen dog.)
After the bell stops ringing, I looked into the water and saw Aunt Kristi, who lost Chelsea and Junior within the same year, happily playing with Noelle.  She smiled during her time between dogs, but not like she is smiling now.  There is a smile known as a dog smile, and Aunt Kristi is proudly sporting hers.

I also see Aunt Kim playing with Charlotte.  She was in the depths of hell when she lost Hannah Banana this year, but she stood in the fire, and she outlasted it, and her home is filled with love again.  

They still miss Hannah, Chelsea, and Junior.  You can’t look at the Freedom Tower without remembering the World Trade Center, and you can’t see a dog and not see all the dogs that came before. There is still the pain.  But there is happiness with the pain.  Both of these dogs were rescues, in need of loving homes, and the great things about rescues is they are the ones who do the rescuing.

When I think of the 145, I think about how many of their parents have provided homes for new dogs, and put their hearts on the line again, and have days of hell in the distant future.  I know when they prove they are tougher than hell they will get on the roller coaster called pet ownership again and it will be a ride well worth taking.

Endings are sad, but beginning as happy, and I do advise all the humans currently in hell too, when you are ready, find a beginning.

I know, in 2018, the number 145 will grow.  And I know that somewhere there is a homeless dog, hoping for a home, or an unborn puppy, with its life before it, praying it will be filled with love, who will be the beginning that comes after my friends ending.
Whatever the year brings I know humans will survive. 

They really are the toughest animals of all.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tails From Rainbow Bridge: Seeking Help For Those Left Behind

It will be 2018 in a few days.  The last time I welcomed the new year in mortal form was 2013.  I remember it well.  Pocket and I were snuggled in bed with my parents. 

 There was a big countdown, a ball dropped, best wishes for the coming days were expressed, and Daddy wondered what the New Year would bring.  He doesn’t ask that anymore.  The answer will present itself, with little either of my parents can do to prevent it.

I began writing about pups who went to Rainbow Bridge in 2009.  Back then I was like a journalist writing about a war I had never experienced.  I thought when I arrived at the Bridge I would understand.  But I have been in the battle for four and a half years, and while I have seen the war, I still don’t comprehend it.

Why is a dog’s lifespan so much less than humans?  Why would a benevolent creator make the perfect match between dogs and humans then make dogs lives a seventh as long as humans causing pain, pain, and more pain?   It is nothing less than a failure of creation.  Dogs and humans should be paired for life.  

Humans need to admit that a loss of a dog is as sorrowful and life-shattering as the passing of a human, sometimes more so, because humans grow up, move away, but dogs are constant, always home, always devoted, always loving, until suddenly they are not.  

Parents who lose a child often join support groups to share their grief.  But a support group for pet parents is met with eye rolls and “it was just a dog” comments.  It is time to get past that.  I have read countless posts on the Internet about parents who have struggled for months dealing with the loss of a pet.  Grief is grief no matter what caused the sadness.  Hopefully, someday humans will realize that and people will have to stop suffering alone.

Until then there is the Internet where kind people help one another with their grief.  I know it helps, but it cannot replace human contact.  No one recovered from addiction by talking with people over the Internet.  I don’t know if people can recover from the loss of a pet over the Internet either.  Do not be afraid to seek people in your community suffering from pet loss and share your stories.  Your vet may know someone struggling with pet loss.  Talking and sharing has been proved to aid healing. 

 Pet lovers should be able to access every tool possible to begin the road to recovery.
I hope writing about pups who have crossed the Bridge helps their parents if is only for a few minutes.  I had thought, at one time, when the day came that my friend Hattie crossed over, that she would be my last tribute.  But there will be others that follow Hattie’s footsteps. And I will continue to chronicle their journey.   Hopefully, I can help ease their grief parents grief a smidge.

We can’t stop pups from crossing Rainbow Bridge, but maybe we can help those they leave behind.

And we can stop thinking of us as just the dog and start thinking of us like the family members we are.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

River Song and Pocket Host a Wild Life Christmas Party

On Christmas morning when we went outside to do our business there were two dozen turkeys parading across the backyard.  The only sound Pocket and I made was one of disgust.  Just like turkeys.  They had appeared early.

Please indulge me while I backtrack.  The past four Christmas seasons our parents have left us alone on the 23rd, 24th and 25th.  Please don’t judge them unkindly.  That is our job.

Pocket and I had been planning Christmas for two weeks.  It began with making peace with the turkeys.  Then we conspired with the squirrels and birds.  The plan was set.  One hour after our parents left the first annual River Song and Pocket wild animal Christmas party would begin.

Parents are always distracted on Christmas.  They leave the house with packages, boxes, and bags.  They leave with casseroles, bottles, and desserts.  They are in a hurry, and their hands are full.  It was easy for me to slip a paw in the jam to keep them from turning the deadbolt.  Once they departed, I used my supersonic leaping power to open the door.

Pocket and I quickly went to her kitty condo where we had stored bags of nuts, berries, bird food, grass, water, and bowls.  (No kibble made of turkey, I had learned my lesson).  We set the food out on the table and then opened the door to allow the turkeys, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and one cat who claimed to be feral but smelled like alpine kitty litter into our home.

Within an hour the house was a complete mess.  Turkeys may be good to eat, but they don’t eat well.  They acted like a gaggle of petulant infants tossing more food on the floor then they swallowed.  The squirrels began hoarding nuts. When Pocket confronted them, they said they had to make the feast last all winter.  How ungrateful.  The birds were kind, but we sadly discovered that getting a bird to poop on a pad was impossible.

A squirrel and a turkey got in a fight over a berry.  The squirrel ran up a curtain ripping it, and the wild turkey tried to fly after it and went through the window.  Like parents of a student entering his senior year, we quickly discovered we had lost control of the party.

Even though we were smaller than the turkeys they are not known for their bravery and my sister, and I chased them, and the other critters out the door then stopped to look at our tattered house.  “Boy are you in trouble,” I said to Pocket.

Suddenly a bright light appeared over us, and Angel Foley floated down.  “You are lucky you had this foolish party today,” Foley said.  “No Angel can refuse a request on Christmas.”  We sat looking at her while she fluttered impatiently above us.  “One of you has to ask me to clean the house!” she shouted.  Both of us did so, quickly.  A portal opened, and her minions flew inside.  They cleaned the table, counters, and floors then replaced the curtains making our abode look as spotless as it was when my parents left.  Of course, we had to endure a long reprimand from our sister, but we acted chagrined as a show of gratitude.

We heard the car door shut.  Our parents had returned.  Foley hurried off (her getting caught would be a major rule violation) just before our parents entered.  We excitedly greeted them at the door, celebrating their return and us having gotten away with our ill-conceived venture.

Mommy went into the bathroom and came out holding a feather.  “Where did this come from?” she asked us.

We both ran into Pocket’s kitty condo to hide.

We learned a hard lesson this Christmas.

If you are going to have a turkey over for the holidays, it is better to eat it than to feed them.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Monday Question

What was your favorite Christmas gift?

Pocket:. Our friend Leo sent us a log stuffie with little stuffie squirrels poking out of it. The log and squirrels are grand fun to play with a

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hattie Mae is our December 24th 2017 Pup of the Week

A week ago I recounted the story of Hattie Mae’s Christmas hat.  Little did I realize how soon the legend herself would be joining me in the immortal world.

    I seldom know, as I make my journey to the stairs rising from Rainbow Bridge, who will appear before me, but when Hattie arrived I had an inkling, because the ground beneath me shook, an unimaginable wail rose from the mortal side, and the plains became rivers as clouds of human tears opened and pummeled the terrain.  A dog of huge importance had to be passing over Rainbow Bridge and there is no dog more important that Hattie Mae.

    Hattie Mae reached the top of the stairs wearing a red hat with a white brim and a brilliant red velvet dress with a black belt and trim.  While hundreds of dogs ran down the hill to greet her she scanned the Bridge as if she was looking at a suite deciding if it was up to her standards.  She sighed and softly nodded her head.  “This will do,” she said.

I knew my first duty was to thank her.  Every dog with a blog owes a debt of gratitude to Hattie Mae and her Mom the ethereal Aunt Darla.  In 2007 we joined what was called “Facebook for dogs,” a site named Doggyspace, or DS for short.   The owner was clever, if incapable, and while thousands of dogs flocked to the site, none of us knew how to properly translate our personalities, wants, desires, quirks and faults into Internet posts.  The site could have quickly faded away after several uninspired “My dog did this today,” posts.  Enter Hattie Mae who wrote “I did this today, and while it may seem mundane, it was fascinating, and let me explain why.”

Her posts were unassuming online tutorials.  We pups read what she wrote and realized this was how it was done.  Every dog with a blog or profile  can trace their online family tree to Hattie Mae.  Even if you were never on DS if you have read our blog, or Hobo Hudson’s News and Taies, or Jodi Chick’s Kol’s Notes, or Molly’s The Fast and the Furriest, they were all influenced by Hattie Mae.  For that I thanked her.

I thanked her for teaching us that dogs are always kind. We never bark a hostile word. And we always show compassion.

I thanked her for the humor, for showing us that our lives are filled with laughter and the cause of this humor is often ourselves. Humility and self deprivation are two important traits of for a dog to posses. Hattie provided us with smiles daily and taught us that not only is it important to make our parents smile but our friends too.

I thanked her for showing us how to dress. I never considered wearing dresses.  thought they were silly. But when I saw how regal and self-assured Hattie looked I became a proud wearer of outfits too.

I thanked her for her generosity because most of the clothes I wore were.designed by her fabulous mom and gifted to me by Hattie. She sent her designs to several of our friends who proudly wear them.

I thanked her for the love. To be loved by Hattie was to be touched by sunshine. They both left us with a warm, happy feeling.

As I watched Hattie be greeted by her beloved husband Leo, by her brothers Smartie, Fella and by her sister, by countless friends who came before her, and by Jackie Pool her Mom’s very dear human friend accompanied by her dogs Saffron and Sage, I thought of the horrible sorrow Hattie's mom and dad must  be enduring this Christmas.  For all the joy she gave us she gave her parents tenfold and the hole in our lives left by her passing was only a divet in the grass when compared to the Grand Canyon sized hole left in her parents hearts. Please don't forget about them. Please keep them in your hearts and prayers. Hattie’s passing was the final awful cut in a cruel year. They no longer play in the vast social media playground so old fashioned thoughts and prayers are due.

Once Hattie had concluded her greetings she announced that there was a reason for her sudden appearance. She looked at our Christmas tree and noted that there was no angel at the top. I told her it was because no angel was worthy.

“Well now there is,” she said. Hattie flew to the top of the tree where she shone brightly just as she had in life.  From now on when you look to the sky and see the brightest light shining know that is Hattie Mae standing on her tree for the world to see.

She is lighting the world for us angels, showing us the way, just as she did in the mortal world.

She will always be the light showing us the way.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Tails From Rainbow Bridge: Foley Takes the 2017 Bridge Angels to Deliver Gifts of the Shleter Dogs

Alright, 2017 Angels, it is time for our most trusted duty, we have to help Santa deliver gifts to all the shelter dogs.  It is going to be a long night with a lot of stops so no shenanigans.  Sydney, you come up here with Santa and me.  You are in charge of the GPS.  Don’t drool on the screen.  We got terribly lost during a similar incident last year.

Barney the cat I want you up here with us too.  Cats are more organized than dogs and less likely to run off if they see a random squirrel.  You are in charge of distribution.  

Okay, everyone holds on, we are taking off.  Now we are airborne.  Everyone make sure they hold on tight and follow Dancer, Prancer, Donna and...Pintus.  Darnit Pintus you are not a reindeer.  Well, it’s too late now.  And you are flying better than Blitzen who might be a bit blitzed.

Noel is going to be our liaison to the shelter dogs when we land.  He never had a true home of his own, so he has shelter experience and will help us when we approach the dogs.

There is the first shelter.  Pintus, we are coming up on it too fast, slow down!  Oh no, we are going to crash.  Wait, we stopped in a hurry.  Oh look, Brutus grabbed the back of the sleigh as slowed us down.  Thank you, Brutus.  You kept us from crashing into the shelter.

Okay, Cocoa Puff it is time for you.  Wow, look at her run across the snow.  Her black fur looks stunning against the white.  Look at her leap; she got right through the window.  Now she is opening the door.   Way to go Cocoa!  They really need to put chimneys on shelters.

Now we need to get the cage doors open.  Where is Tiny?   Hello, there my little friend.  That’s it, get under the door and let all those pups out.  When you need a jailbreak, you always get a Yorkie.

Hi Janey.  Do you have the cookies?  Your Mom made thousands of cookies for all the dogs.  We have to thank her when we get back.  If my Mom ever comes to the Bridge, she will help your Mom, so she doesn’t spend the whole month baking.

We have to get all the dogs lined up to get their presents and….wait!   The dogs are all taking off! 

 Who is leading them?    Beaux Jangles!  You come back here with those dogs right now.  Stop laughing at me, young man!  Now we are going to have to wait until Beaux is done running.   We are going to be way behind schedule.

Nora, get Beaux and bring him back here.  I know you are a good and responsible dog  Look, Nora has them.  Beaux, stop laughing at me.  You are going to have to sit in the back of the sleigh.

We have to get these cages looking beautiful for the holiday.  Don’t worry; I think the shelter workers are getting used to these Christmas miracles.  Here come Dory and Bilbo with beautiful flowers and decorations to make the dogs’ surrounding look homey, at least on Christmas.  Thank the Big Guy what we were blessed with these two wonderful dogs who have made a cold shelter look like Christmas.

Bailey, thank you for getting the dogs lined up again.  You are very good at keeping dogs organized  You had to do that with your pack, and you are a natural.   I am going to make sure Santa knows you have been a very good dog, unlike other dogs.  That’s right I am looking at you Beaux.

Thank you for getting the dogs calmed down Pancho.  I know you have been in a shelter too.  It is very kind of you to tell them that even if they don’t get out of the shelter, they will find marvelous, loving homes at the Bridge.

Now dogs, you are lucky this year.  Here comes Hannah Banana with trays and trays of the most delicious treats you have ever tasted.  She is so sweet to kiss them all on the nose.  I think some of these boys are blushing, but not for long.  You can’t blush and eat at the same time.

Thank you for passing out the napkins Minnie.  You don’t have to clean their whiskers yourself.  I know, this is the night the shelter dogs are treated like royalty.  That is very sweet of you.
Deuce you tell the elves that the dogs are ready for their presents.  I know you will.  You are a good boy.  You deserved better from the mortal world.

And look who is leading the sleigh with all the presents?  It’s Junior Johnson!  Of course Junior would be in charge of giving away the gifts, he is the kindest hearted dog in the world.  Look at his big smile.  He loves making others happy and running through the snow.

Hi Jazzmin!  I see you there on to the top of the sleigh.  Start throwing the gifts of the pups. 

 Remember don’t give them all the gifts because we have a lot of shelters to go to.  What’s that?  Santa said it like a bottomless bag.  Well then share as many gifts as you want.

Thank you for making sure the little ones get their gifts, Otis.  You are very thoughtful, and you do a great job of taking care of little dogs
Cappy, we need you now.  We have to start getting organized for the next shelter.  While we do that Cappy is going to keep the dogs enthralled by singing beautiful Christmas carols for them.  They can hear how much spirit Cappy has with every note.

Sorry shelter pups but it is time for you to back inside.  We wish we could keep you with us all year round, but we are sure there are good parents out there looking for you to make their lives complete.  Dixie has been working inside the shelter to make sure you have lots of blankets and toys for next year and that you have enough food for months.

Before you go back to your cages, Pepper is going to give you each a sweet kiss.  It is going to fill your heart with warmth for months to come.  Thank you for giving them all hugs to Pepper.  That will keep their coats warm too.

Now come Jasper and Sophie Rae with a magic dust that they have created just for you.  They are going to sprinkle it on you. It is called hope.  It will give you the strength you need to survive whatever comes your way and not lose spirit.  No dogs have more spirit than Jasper and Sophie, and they are happy to share it with dogs who live without hope.

Here is sweet Abbie with the gift of wisdom.  Many dogs have trouble getting adopted because they don’t know how to react.  With Abbie’s gift, you will become smarter, do better on walks, and be more appealing to humans.  Wisdom is a marvelous gift.

Lily has left you all a wonderful treat under your pillows for the morning.  When you wake up, you will see the treat, and you will smile just like Lily made her parents smile every morning.

Before we go, MacDougal is going to give you the greatest gift, the one he gave his entire life, joy.  It will keep you happy through the tough times ahead.  MacDougal is sprinkling you with joy power now.  We can see the smiles on your faces.  That makes it all worthwhile.

All right Pintus, lead us out of here, we have lots more shelters to go to tonight.  He we go.

Oh no!  Beaux Jangles, stop playing with those dogs and fly up here.

Boy, this is going to be a hard night.

Before we go, we want to wish all our parents and friends a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year  They know your hearts have been broken this year and the wish you much healing and love in 2018.

Look to the sky tonight.  If you see anything moving that is us flying over you to the nearest shelter.  We would love if you gave us a wave.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pocket Gives Thanks to Her Online Friends and Offers Advice to Humans

Christmas comes at the end of the year so we can celebrate having survived the past 51 weeks.  The human world seems to grow meaner every day.  Peace, love, understanding, acceptance, and patience are all in short supply.  Humans used to wonder if they would make it to the end of the year.  Now they pray they see the end of the week.

I am so happy I was born a dog.  I don’t think I would want to be a human.  I prefer to be the one who has their poop picked up than the one who does the picking.

Humans are getting further stressed out by the day.  They no longer surf the Internet, they combat it, sidestepping verbal landmines, desperately trying to decipher what is real and what is fake only to discover one person’s real is another person’s fake.  We dogs are not concerned about real or fake.  Whether the antler is organic or made in a factory, we are just happy to shut up and chew.

I have found a home on dog sites:  The Tanner Brigade, Facebook Groups, and Blogville are peaceful, happy places.  There is never a bark about politics or religion.  There are no arguments about what divides us, only conversations about what unites us, love for our parents; the joys of a good breakfast; the peace found in pursuing a bouncing tennis ball; and good naps taken with great frequency.

This Christmas I am very thankful for my online dog friends.  They perfectly personify our souls.  Everyone is happy, loving, caring, and supportive.  There are some sad blogs, but most of them are joyful.  Unlike the humans we love we live in the moment.

  We may have been left for hours but once our parents appear all the tension is replaced by bliss.  And we know they will leave us again but for now, we are getting snuggled, or belly rubs, or just blessed attention, and that is what’s important.  

Humans can learn from dogs.  Always be kind, generous and supportive.  Love comes first.  Life is too short for anger.  Maybe it would be different if we lived 80 years instead of 15.  We don’t have time for anger.  We have to fill as much happiness into our short lives as we can.

My gift to humans this Christmas is advice:  Go on dog sites and interact with the pups and their humans.  Experience the joy that comes with peace, love, and understanding.  There is always room for more happiness in your life.

Leave the tweeting and Facebook rants to the petless.  I think that is the real reason they are so hard-hearted, to begin with.

And remember, always let a furry little love into your heart.

We will surely improve your lives.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Beat Ths Caption

Great,  on my way to a Christmas party and I get pulled over for speeding on the couch

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday Question

What are your family Christmas plans?

My parents go to her family's Christmas party on the 23rd, to her son for Christmas Eve lunch on the 24th.  After that they are home with us to wait for Santa.  Then they go to their daughter's for Christmas dinner.  It is a lot of time away from us but if it makes them happy then we are good with it.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

MacDougal is our December 17, 2017 Pup of the Week

Two more of my friends,  Rani-Go and Bailey, arrived at Rainbow Bridge this week.  It filled me with fury.  I was determined to fly up the mountain to confront the Big Guy.  Why is there such despair just before Christmas?  How much pain can humans endure?  I wanted the Big Guy to answer the questions he has thus far avoided.

I was preparing to fly up the mountain when I heard the church bell calling me to the top of the stairs.  I shook my head and wondered which friend’s family had been devastated.  I heard little paws bouncing up the steps.  I looked up at the sun, and when I glanced back, I dropped to my knees, grabbed my friend of close to ten years by the waist, and sobbed.

MacDougal, after 16 years of mortal life, many illnesses and close calls, had finally run out of heartbeats.

MacDougal and I have been friends for ten years.  Right now his Christmas card is hanging on the cabinet over my mom’s  dishwasher.  He is smiling; his eyes are filled with joy, looking like he loves every second of life, which I am sure he did.

The bond between him and his mom, Aunt Inge, may have been the strongest union I have experienced.  Shortly after we became friends Mac’s dad was diagnosed with cancer  He fought the disease bravely, but, sadly he was taken from Mac and his mom way too soon.  Aunt Inge and Mac mourned together, recovered together, and moved on together.  That is the word that springs to mind when I think of Mac and Aunt Inge:  Together.

A pup does not live 16 years without their body starting to betray them, and that happened to Mac.  His pancreas and his liver were both problems.  He needed expensive medicine every day.  His mom loved to travel but that had to be put on hold.  Mac could not be left alone.  

But his mom did not miss her old life because she knew what she had in MacDougal.  He was joy personified.  Who wouldn’t give up their life for more days with a barking, playing, loving, furry beating heart of joy?

There were many times when we thought Mac was on the cusp of becoming an angel.  Aunt Inge had made an appointment in  August to send Mac to the angels after he hadn’t eaten for six days.  That afternoon Mac let his mom know he was not ready by eating two bowls of food.

But we all knew he was on borrowed time.  And Saturday, that bill came due.  That strong, joyful, persistent little heart gave one final beat in his mom’s loving arms, and seconds later I was wrapped around his legs crying.

Mac put a paw on my shoulder.  “It’s OK, old friend,” he said to me.  (I really am a terrible greeter.  My job is to console new angels, and they all end up helping me).  “I could not have had a better life.  The first time I saw my beautiful mom I was a dirty ball of fur:  The runt of the litter.  But guess what?  The runt had the best life.  And now I need to get to work on being the best angel.”

I stood and composed myself then swore Mac in, but that composure was temporary, because when I turned, I saw, squatting, with his arms open, waiting, Mac’s dad, who had left him so many years before.  Mac barked in joy and ran to his Dad, jumping ten feet and landing in his arms.  Mac gave him 1,000 kisses, and he got 1,000 more in return.  There is nothing more moving than a parent and dog reunion at the Bridge.

Mac apologized for taking so long, and his dad said it was fine.  He wanted Mac to stay with his mom as long as he could.  That was where he was needed.

Mac will be back to visit him mom soon, even though she may not know it.  That is what stinks about being an angel.  

While I know his mom has a large chasm in her chest where her heart used to be, she should know that Mac is still being loved every day and has a warm lap to sit on it and a soft hand to ruffle the hair on top of his head.

He wants his mom to get the tears out, to cry as long as she needs.   Once the tears are out the healing can begin, and with Mac as her angel, he will be sure direct her to more joy to help heal her heart.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tails From Rainbow Bridge: The True Story of the Hattie Mae Chrisrmas Tree Hat

I popped into my good friend Hattie Mae’s dreams this week.  I wanted to give her my fondest Christmas wishes.  Hattie was one the most famous dog models in the world.  But she has retired from public life and now lives on her fabulous Virginia estate where she is waited on by her many minions.

During her prime, which spanned more than a decade, the masses anxiously awaited to see what creation Hattie had designed and modeled.  One fashion post from Hattie would send the entire dog community abuzz.  We simply had to have what she wore.

  Until the Christmas Hat.

Hattie debuted the look one December afternoon.  She paraded it in front of us and waited for the usual praise.  There was stunned silence.  Brody broke the tension by blurting “Hattie Mae you look ridiculous.”  The diva had never heard a word of criticism in her life.  Humiliated she ran off the runway.

Josie told Brody that he should not have been so blunt.  “You’re laughing too!” Brody said.  Josie put a paw to her mouth to cover her smile.

“We should go talk to her,” Lou said.  

Smoochy stood and said he would lead the way

I joined them as we walked down the hallway to her dressing room.  We could hear the sound of glass shattering against the wall.  Brody knocked on the door and opened it.   A vase shattered inches from his face.  He shut the door.  “She’s busy,” he said sheepishly.

“Don’t be foolish,” Smoochy said.  He knocked on the door and entered.  Hattie was sitting at her dressing table with her head in her paws.

“I am ruined!” she said.  

Josie stepped into the dressing room cautiously.  “Don’t be silly Hattie,” she said putting a paw on Hattie’s shoulder.  “It is just one design.”

Hattie picked up the hat with her mouth and flung it across the room.  “It isn’t even mine.  It is from the House of Etsy.  I only modeled it because they offered me enough kibble to buy my mom a new sewing machine.  She really wanted one.  But now I will never work again.”

“You are being overly dramatic,” Smoochy told her.  “No one will notice.”

Brody giggled.  “The picture I put on Twitter of Hattie’s in her hat has been retweeted 100,000 times.”

We all groaned.  

“Ruined!” Hattie Mae said  She climbed down and hid under her table.

“You are only ruined if the hats don’t sell and are never seen again,” Lou said.  “We all have a following on social networking.  If we wear the hats and promote them, I am sure they will become popular, and Hattie Mae’s reputation as a top model will be maintained.”

Brody’s paws were working his phone.  “I just ordered five,” he said.  “Or fifty, it is hard working an I-Phone without opposable thumbs.”

And that is when we got to work ordering hats and getting our friends to do the same.  The hats sold out.  Hattie was given all the credit.  Her Mom got a new sewing machine, and the wearing of Hattie Mae Hats on Christmas became a tradition that has gone on for years.

Hattie is retired, and several of us who were there that day, namely Smoochy, Brody and myself are at the Bridge, but we gladly wear the hats each year even if we look foolish.

Because looking like a fool is what we do for a friend, especially at Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Snowstorm Makes River Reflect on Poop Neutrality

I didn’t sleep well Friday night.  There was something in the air, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I was awake before the alarm went off.  When Daddy took me outside, I realized the foul, officious malignancy that had upset my normal sleep pattern.  It was snow.

I spent my first year in Florida surrounded by too many dogs and too few humans.  I have it so much better now.  There are two humans to every sibling.  There is always an open lap.  I get lots of individual attention.  My life could not be better.  Then someone made it snow.

I want nothing to do with it.  Most of the time I find humans pooping and peeing inside a refillable water dish reprehensible.  And they call us animals.  But when there is snow on the ground I wish to join them in this most malicious act.  Move your feet human, for, while I may not be able to lift my privates over the rim I can certainly evacuate next to the porcelain throne.

“Bad girl,” they say when I do the same act they complete several times a day, more so if they have eaten Mexican.  When I am outside, my death of Adam tickling the snow, they insist I pee.  They train us not to pee in the house and most of us (Pocket’s company excluded) learn.  We all become professors of voluntary urine retention.  My bladder could be bursting, but I can stand in the cold and hold my pee barely showing the slightest effort while my parents shiver and shake in the cold.

I could hold out (or in, as the case may be) until I break my parent’s will, we go back inside, and I let the water loose like the Hoover Dam opening, but I inevitably pee because the yellow stain would make my parents more frustrated, and I, like all dogs, have the unconquerable instinct to please them, and making them impatiently stand freezing is revenge enough for not being given equal indoor pee and poop rights.

They say this storm “only” dropped four inches of snow, but when your legs are only three inches high, four is more than enough, especially when you run around without pants on, which is why Harvey Weinstein can’t get a movie funded in Hollywood anymore.

I will not pee without permission, but if the snow persists, I will cinch my bladder tight, and slowly break them, until I gain temporary indoor pee rights, something Pocket claimed by having a weak bladder years ago.

Then peace shall reign throughout the land.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Question

Do you exchange Christmas cards with your dog friends and how many more cards do you get if you do?

Pocket:  We do.  This year we sent out close to 70 cards to eight different counties.  If it wasn't for dog friends my parents would send out a dozen cards.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lily is our December 10, 2017 Pup of the Week

There is never a good time to send a beloved pup to Rainbow Bridge, but December is the worst.  During the holidays we count our blessings and hold our loved ones tighter.  Losing a family member not only casts a dark shadow on the upcoming festivities but a cloud reappears each subsequent holiday season as a sad reminder.

Recently we wrote the unimaginable tale of Jasper and Sophie-Rae.  Jasper’s parents knew he was ill, but they had no idea Sophie-Rae was running out of heartbeats too.  The same is true of my blogger friends Lily and Muffin who write the Doxie Life blog.  Their parents knew Muffin had congestive heart failure, but they had no signal that Lily was ill as well.

Lily and Muffin’s parents were at the doctor’s waiting for Muffin to have a follow-up exam when suddenly Lily went into full respiratory distress.   She was immediately placed in an oxygen tent.  Subsequent x-rays showed that Lily had fluid around her heart and her liver was twice the normal size.

An oxygen tent is a very bad place to be.  I went in on a Friday and didn’t come out for more than a minute until my parents sent me here on a Sunday.  The tents are necessary:  Without them, neither Lily or I could have lived another five minutes.  But, we both became dependent on it to live and someday you have to come out of the tent.

Lily departed for the Bridge the day after she was placed in the tent.  There were tear clouds from across the world leaving wide puddles on the ground as Lily climbed the steps to start her immortal life. Her grandparents were there to greet her and to tell her she would never be without a human touch.  She gave the hundreds of kisses.

I got a moment alone with her and asked her why she didn’t let her parents know that she wasn’t feeling well.  “My parents were already worried about Muffin,” she explained.  “They say dogs don’t like to show pain because it is a sign of weakness.  It is not weakness it is worry.  We don’t want to show pain because it makes our parents nervous.  They were nervous enough with Muffin.”

Lily does hope she did not ruin her parents’ Christmas forever.  She loved every Christmas they spent together and hoped this Christmas they will only have good memories of her.  She has vowed to become Muffin’s angel and give her plenty of heartbeats, so her parents do not go through this pain again for a long time.

She wants them to know she will be there this Christmas and everyone to come, twinkling like lights on the tree, singing along with the carolers on the radio, and in their hearts.

Hopefully, Lily’s parents can keep that knowledge in their hearts and their heads and don’t let Christmas be a sad reminder of her but a joyous remembrance.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tails From Rainbow Bridge: Welcoming Penny, Charlotte and Noelle

When a pup comes to Rainbow Bridge, they don’t come empty-pawed.  They bring their parent’s hearts with them.  This is unfortunate because humans need their hearts.  Without them they stumble through the day, tears flowing from their eyes, they lose interest in life, barely eating and are in constant pain.  It isn’t our fault that we take their hearts.  They are just returning what they received.

There are three ways for our parents to get their hearts back.  Hearts will slowly grow inside of them unaided, but it can take months or even years.  If the pup who went to the Bridge left a sibling behind, they could help with the rebuilding.  The quickest way is to get a heart transplant is a new pup.

When a dog comes to the Bridge, they immediately begin looking for a new pup for their parents.  The hard part is getting mom and dad to open their lives to a new dog because they know at the end of the road their hearts will be ripped out again.  They have to be reminded that sharing your life with a dog is a ride that is so thrilling, joyous, and full of love it is well worth taking, even knowing that the heart beating inside of them will be gone when the loving little soul sharing their life disappears.

Angel Pepper knew when her mom, Aunt Cathy,  makes up her mind she moves quickly so she could not waste time.  She was doing interviews her first full day at the Bridge, and by her second she found Penny.  Then she pointed her mom in Penny’s direction and when they met Aunt Cathy felt her chest filling with love again.  The pain from the absence of Pepper’s heart could still be felt, but the hole in Aunt Cathy’s chest was gone.

While Aunt Cathy was broken hearted she still had Pepper’s sister Juju living with her, so there was puppy love in her heart.  When Hannah Banana went to the Bridge there was not a shred of her mom’s, Aunt Kim’s heart left.  Hannah also immediately got to work finding Aunt Kim a new pup, but the timing had to be right for her to receive her new heart.  Hannah had to wait five months until Aunt Kim was ready.  When she was, Hannah found little Charlotte.  Aunt Kim, when she went to see Charlotte, was worried the pup would not choose her, which was silly, because Hannah had told Charlotte all about her wonderful mom, and when Charlotte saw her she knew Aunt Kim would be her forever mom.  Another heart transplant was completed.

After living for years with two dogs Aunt Kristi, within eight-month, lost both parts of her heart, which were taken by Junior in December of last year and Chelsea in August.  They were both very anxious to find a new heart for their mom, but she needed time.  Junior and Chelsea strenuously interviewed dogs and even allowed some to meet their mom before vetoing the choice.  It had to be the perfect dog.    Recently they found Noelle, and they made sure Aunt Kristi located her.   When Aunt Kristi and Noelle met Junior and Chelsea held one another tightly as they saw their mom smile in a way she had not smiled in a year.  It was a full-hearted smile full of love.

Welcome to Noelle, Charlotte, and Penny.  You are very lucky dogs.  You have the best dog parents in the world.  I know you will give them beautiful hearts for them that will sustain them for years.

Thank you for saving our friends.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pocket and the Moving Christmas Tree

My house has been decorated for Christmas.  I know this is a good thing because it means that Santa Paws will soon be arriving, but I don’t like it.   When the house is being decorated no one is sitting next to me, and my parents only pay attention to me if I get underfoot.

It is a positive sign that the tree is in the living room.  When we lived in the condo, the tree was always there, when Mommy’s children and grandchildren would come over to open presents, yell excitedly, and leave the house looking like a wrapping paper factory exploded.

But her kids got older.  They all wanted Christmas at their house and had no interest in getting together.  The tree became a reminder.  When we first moved into our modular home, the tree was in the seldom traveled front room where it would look pretty from the street but could not be witnessed inside.  The Dickens Village was set up on the porch for the same reason.  On the outside, the house looked festive.  No one looked inside.

Three years ago the tree was moved into the kitchen and the village on to the TV stand.  Mommy was letting Christmas back into her house a little bit at a time.  I didn’t mind the tree in the kitchen but River, when we were alone, kept knocking it over in excitement, as she would run to the window to see if our missing parents were home.

So, now the tree is in the living room.  I am getting used to it.  It’s pretty and harmless as long as River doesn’t run into it.  I think it is a positive sign that Mommy, despite Christmas the Ghost of Christmas present never being as joyous as that of Christmas Past, is letting the beauty of the holiday back in her heart.

The tree didn’t cause much drama this year.   My parents purchased the tree pre-lit, but like most things that enter your house pre-lit, they eventually disappoint.  Last year Daddy had to keep going to the store to buy lights as the pre-lit ones became post-dark.  But this year the lights all shone.'

I like looking at the Dickens Village.  I think I would have enjoyed living there.  Everything seems so simple:  No loud cars, no screaming televisions, happy people wishing each other the best of the season, ignoring the river of excrement flowing down the street, all reasonably sure the government is screwing them but with no Twitter feed they are unable to confirm it.

Mommy used to get very stressed about buying presents, but as grandchildren have grown the pressure to buy them all multiple presents has waned, and much of the buying is done on the computer, with me on her lap.

Even the picture taking was easier this year.  I think it is because River and I are both older and have figured out if we both looked at the camera for one picture out of 50 we would be done.  

We have two snow shower lights outside the house.  One lights up the big pine tree making it glow.  The other is in front of the house and shines on the garland on the pole in front of the house.  When River and I got out to pee, the lights hit us, and we sparkle like 70’s Disco Queens.

I think we have all, including me, made our peace with Christmas this year  We will see what the season brings.  We hope it is nothing but good cheer and little drama.
I won’t be able to judge until next December when the tree goes up again.  It has made it’s way to the main room.  If it keeps moving and is in the back bathroom next year, I’ll know things didn’t go so well this year.

I guess I am dreaming of a tree in the living room Christmas for next year.

What could be better?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Question

Do you get Christmas gifts and if you do are you given them open or do you unwrap them?

Pocket:  We only get some special food from our parents.  We do have some wonderful friends who send us gifts.  if they are wrapped we just look at our parents until they unwrap them.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Abbie is our December 3 2017 Pup of the Week

Rainbow Bridge is in a constant state of flux.  I think it reflects what is happening in the mortal world.  I know things are quite complicated and bothersome there.  Here at the Bridge life has become simpler.  I no longer have a pager to tell me when there is a new pup who needs to be sworn in as an angel, now the sharp sound of a church bell ringing summons me.
I do hate the sound of that bell ringing.  It signals that hearts have been shattered and lives upturned.  It also means there is a new pup climbing the stairs, separated from everything they have loved, somewhat scared, and feeling lonely before they experience all the glory the afterlife presents.
It was raining parent’s tears.   I splashed through the puddles and arrived at my designated spot just as Abbie cleared the final step of her journey and sat on the landing. I had strict instructions to read the Angel Oath and wait for the words “I do,” but, as usual, I forgot my directions and hugged the new Angel.
We had received so many prayers for Abbie.  We flew them up the mountain and left them outside the Big Guy’s cave.  The next morning, when more arrived we flew them upward, the previous day’s prayers were gone.  Someone had considered them, and we awaited an answer.  Sadly, it was an abrupt no.
Abbie was dealing with dueling health issues, one serious, the other usually not, but they hit her like two thunderstorms approaching from opposite directions that combined to become devastating.  One was kidney failure; the other was dental problems.  She needed to eat to combat the kidney failure but couldn’t because of her teeth.  She needed work done on her teeth but could not be put under anesthesia because of her kidney failure.
It had only been two weeks since Abbie was diagnosed with kidney failure.  The doctor said the disease could be severe but her Mom, Aunt Gail did not expect Abbie to be taken so quickly.  She could only watch helplessly as Abbie didn’t eat and grew weaker.  Her friends flooded her with suggestions, but nothing worked.  Aunt Gail’s precious baby was fading before her eyes.
Aunt Gail took Abbie to the vet who told her that Abbie could not survive the dental surgery.  He could give Abbie medication, but it would only give her weeks.  Aunt Gail made the world’s hardest decision, and now Abbie was with us.
Once she was sworn in all of Aunt Gail’s other angels hugged Abbie and promised to take her back home to ghost her mom and visit her in her dreams.  They would also visit Abbie’s siblings, Charlie, Star, and Toto to make sure they took care of Aunt Gail and didn’t cause her any worries.
Abbie wants Aunt Gail to know she is happy and healthy again and she is eating all her favorite foods.  She loves her and misses her and her siblings.  She is sorry for the worries and for passing over so fast, but she promises that someday they will be reunited in a land called Happily Ever After.  
Abbie will be next to her mom as she makes her difficult journey through the world of grief.  Everyone’s journey on that road is different and the length changes but it is always arduous.  Abbie wants her mom to know that she has lots of friends who will walk with her when she needs company.  And Star, Toto, and Charlie will be there too.
Someday she will get through that dark road and be happy again.  
When that day arrives Abbie will finally rest, but she will never stop watching over her mom.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tails From Rainbow Bridge: Saving Private Enzo with Totti, Chelsea and Queenie

I was lazing in the sun when my emergency angel beacon went off.  “Angels, oh Angels, please help me!”  I picked it up.  I could see my dear friend Enzo standing in a vast cornfield.  At first, I thought he was his usual joking self but then I realized he was terrified.
“Angels,”: Enzo yelled.  “I was hunting with my parents and chased a bird into this cornfield.  I saw another bird and ran after it, and now I am hopelessly lost.  Please, angels, help me find my way back to my parents.
We needed an Angel Rescue Squad.  I checked who was on call for emergencies:  Queenie, Chelsea, and Totti.  I could not assemble a better group.  I told them to assemble by the river bank.  
We held one another’s paws and flew into the sun.  We emerged over the dense cornfield.  Enzo’s dad was walking around the perimeter calling his name.  His mom was standing by the truck praying for a miracle.  She did not know it, but her miracle had arrived.  Queenie, Chelsea, Totti each took a side of the field and began calling Enzo’s name.
I heard Enzo whining on the south side of the corn.  I flew down and saw Enzo huddled under a stalk.  I called his name several times until he looked up and saw me.  “Oh Angel Foley, I knew you would come.  You have to help me out of the corn.”  I called for Queenie, Chelsea, and Totti to come to me and then had them go to the edge of the corn and call him.
Enzo tried to reach them, but the corn became too thick.  He kept getting blocked.  He begged me to come into the corn with him.  I hesitated.  My Mommy told me never to go into the corn.  I didn’t want to get hopelessly lost too.  But, if I had to get hopelessly lost at least I could do it with Enzo.  I flew into the corn.
It was dark and thick.  I asked for Quennie to fly over us and direct us to the end of the corn.  Every way she tried to direct us we got stuck.  It looked hopeless.  Enzo asked if I could try to fly him out.  I got underneath him, but he’s a big boy, and I’m a little girl.  I only got him a foot off the ground.
We both fell backward.  Enzo hit the stalk hard.  I had tucked my wings in, but they popped out as I fell and they sliced a stalk in two  Enzo said:  “Yummy, corn!” and started eating an ear before I realized that our wings were the way out.
I called to Queenie, Chelsea, and Totti to come into the corn.  Queenie and Totti flew right down, but Chelsea, being a cautious Yorkie, like me, said she would guide us with her voice.  Smart dog. Queenie, Totti and I began walking backward and flapping our wings as we cut through the corn.  Chelsea guided us towards Enzo’s dad.  Once we could see light through the field, Enzo ran off to his dad, and we gathered above the corn to see the tearful reunion.
As Enzo walked back to the truck, and his mom ran to him, they turned and gave us a tip of the tail and a big smile for helping us guide him out of the corn.
But that is what angels are for.
If you are ever get lost in the corn, thinks of us, and we will be there to help you.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

River's Trip to the Groomer

As many of you know, I am treated like family at my groomer’s.  One of my siblings lives with them as does my Baby Daddy, although our mutual attraction was squashed by a few snips of the doctor’s scissors.  Now, like many old married couples, we take a whiff and move on.
Now that my breed has won Best in Show the adoration has only become greater.
When our groomer, Jan, took me from my Mom, she said that she cuts lots of Griff’s hair, but I am her favorite.
Who can blame her?
When we entered the grooming area, I was placed on my comfy throne with many pillows piled on top of another with red velvet on the backrest.  Pocket was thrown in a cage with a rusty hinge and no blanket.
First I got a bath with soap from the synactif soap collection.  Three vestal virgins gently washed me in distilled water using a brush made from fine llama hair.  Then they placed me on a red cushion and dried me by waving silk handkerchiefs.  
Pocket got bathed in a rusty steel tub in filthy, cold water, with a used brillo pad.
Once I was dry, it was time for my manicure.  My paws were dipped in lovely, warm soap and then they were gently filed by three elderly Shih-Tzus who were manicure masters.  Pocket’s were filed with an unsharpened steak knife by a retired Vietnamese grocer with cataracts.
Then my anal glands were expressed into a small pool that, once created, was poured into a beaker where it would be made into a sensuous perfume.  Pocket’s anal glands sent a senior sheepdog to the hospital with respiratory problems.
My hair was then tenderly cut by Vidal Sassoon while Pocket’s hair was cut by the three-fingered stepson of Gorilla Monsoon.
When the cutting was done, I was put back on my throne while Pocket was put in another rusty cage with a broken hinge.
When my parents returned the groomers tipped my parents for the privilege of letting them cut my hair, but they charged twice as much for having to clean Pocket.
I am scheduled to go back to the groomers in seven weeks, but I might go sooner. I am sure they would appreciate that.
(Editor’s Note from Pocket:  When we arrived at the groomer’s River fell asleep and stayed that way through her entire treatment.  Her entire account of our grooming is delusional.  But I let her believe it.  That’s what good sisters do.)

Wordless Wednesday