Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Sunday, March 28, 2021
As you know, nothing cures depression and the pain of mourning like a dog. Most of my stories revolve around pups helping people mourn another dog, but we get the job done when it comes to losing a person too.
When Abigail Rabbet’s mom passed to the Bridge, she lost her parent, best friend, and confidant.
Abigail felt lonelier than she ever been before.
She experienced all the worst stages of grief. She could not work because she had lost the ability to concentrate; she could not stop crying, she dyed her hair in an attempt to feel differently, and, most concerning, she binged watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Before her mom passed, while she was very ill, Abigail became her full-time caretaker. They spent all day together, watching TV, talking, drinking tea, and supporting one another through the crises. Then, in a breath, it was over.
After the passing, everything that had given Abigail and her mom pleasure now brought pain. There was no escape from the reminder that Abigail was now alone.
Abigail’s dad knew that he had to break his daughter from the cycle of grief. He coaxed her to leave the house on a special mission to find a dog.
While growing up, Abigail and her parents had a beloved black Labrador who lived to 17. The family was so devastated when he went to the Bridge that they could not get another dog, but now her dad decided it was time.
The breeder was a friend of the family. He agreed to let them take a puppy right away if they so chose, not his usual policy. The dad immediately bonded with a little black pup and insisted on bringing it home that day.
Abigail was skeptical, but when the little pup curled up on her lap on the way home, she began to experience true euphoria. Still, that night the joy turned to sorrow as she began to feel guilty loving a dog like she loved her mom.
She did not realize that her mom and her Labrador angel were pulling the angel strings to make sure the family found the dog, who they knew would cure her daughter’s, broken heart. Abigail fell into a restless sleep where she was visited by her mother, who told her it was alright to love again. Abigail didn’t remember the visit, but when she woke up, her mind had changed, and she accepted the dog into her heart and home.
When she woke up, the dog began to follow her around the house. She named him Shadow after his devotion and black fur. He needed a lot of tending to, which helped fill Abigail’s lost hours devoted to her mother. Shadow may be exaggerating his issues, like crying in his sleep, at Abigail’s mom’s instructions because she knows the more Abigal is needed, the better she will feel.
Now, as she heals, Shadow is Abigail’s constant companion. Shadow accompanies her on her long walks to the grave, something she could not do before he joined the family and giving her the support she needs as she improves every day.
She is also beginning to understand that Shadow’s was her mom’s final gift and maybe the best she has ever received.
Friday, March 26, 2021
For River, the first sign was a change in the smell emanating from under the house.
“That’s not Ugly Joan,” River whispered to Pocket.
The little Yorkie walked to the floor vent and took a whiff. “It smells like a cat to me.” Pocket observed.
For a dog whose nose looks like she ran snout first into a concrete monolith, River has a sense of smell like a wine connoisseur. She can detect the subtle differences in odors, able to separate everything that comprises the scent. Ugly Joan’s smell had traces of wet fur, lousy attitude, and old mice. The new aroma was a combination of hickory, pine nut, cinnamon, and poop. River knew it did not belong to Joan.
It did not take long to learn who was sleeping in Ugly Joan’s bed. The following morning as Pocket and River went to perform their morning doodies, they caught a cat with tan fur sprinkled with brown and a black and white ringed tail slinking out of Joan’s lair.
I am sure my sisters would have liked to question the new cat about how he came to live under the porch. Unfortunately, they forgot to translate their barks into words so they could be understood, and the intruder snickered over his shoulder as he disappeared under a neighboring house.
River was incensed. She vowed not to make the same mistake twice and lose control of her southern boarder. She would run this kitty off and guarantee only Joan, the rightful occupant, was the only kitty allowed to sleep there.
When they were left alone, River slid down the HVAC duct, landed in the crawlspace, and marched to where the cat was happily licking itself. River demanded to know what the interloper was doing there.
Calmly the cat explained that he had sublet the space from Ugly Joan. River told him that was impossible because she had no such right. The cat reached under the bed and pulled out of a contract. “It says right here under paragraph four subsection, line six, subsection seven, clause E of the cat-landlord agreement that the cat can do whatever she damn well pleases. Its standard language in any contract involving a cat.”
“That is ridiculous!” River shouted. “Who would be dumb enough to sign a contract like that?”
“It says Pocket T. Dog signed it.”
“Drats,” River thought. “Foiled again.” River made a note to attack Pocket in her sleep. It was something she regularly did, but now she had a purpose.”
Knowing that she could not legally evict the cat, River almost abandoned her cause when she thought of one more line of attack. “Why do you have a tail like a raccoon?” she asked.
“I am half raccoon, conceived under a full moon. My mom was a tabby named Sandy, who was a bit randy. They met once and decided to bone, and when he learned she was pregnant, he left her alone.”
“Do you know that rhymes?”
“Of course. All raccoons rhyme. We are great poets. That is why so many writers, like Robert Frost, lived in the woods. They needed raccoons to compose their verses. It is rumored that Shakespeare had one in his tool shed who wrote his greatest works. Lennon and McCartney had another named Rocky, but they fired him when he wrote a song about himself.”
“Is it hard having a raccoon for a father?”
“No, not at all. Every year on my birthday, he regurgitates trash for me to store up. Would you like to have some?”
River declined. “Well, the agreement doesn’t say anything about a raccoon living in Joan’s space,” she said
“Except for subsection 12.”
“No one wants to fight an animal with raccoon teeth and a cat’s claws.”
River had to admit the little freak was right. She returned upstairs and began to plan on Ricky raccoon-tailed cat’s subsequent eviction. Sadly, she had no idea how to make that wish a reality.
And the fight for her southern border continues.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
When dogs have litters, we know we only have three months together before being separated forever. We are devoted to our people. That is why we can’t keep our babies; it is impossible to give our whole hearts to humans and kids. It is a tricky proposition.
It is even more challenging for a dog dad to maintain a relationship with his children. Most of the time, they aren’t even there when the litter is born. Their job is wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.
But, once a puppy starts becoming self-sufficient and stays with their parents, they bond, and if they are ripped apart after that, it becomes painful—the earlier the separation, the better.
Marvin, a Texas dog, was thrilled when two of his offspring stayed with him at their home. They became more like brothers than father and sons. That did not interfere with his love for their parents. But, when times became hard, their parents surrendered them.
They brought the threesome to the Doctor Dolittle Rescue. From there, Marvin was the first to find a forever home. Mattie Kahn and Jason Hellerstein adopted Marvin and brought him to their apartment in Manhatten’s Upper Westside. Marvin was thrilled to be at a new home but missed his sons, who could end up anywhere.
Not long after Marvin was adopted, his son Leo found a home with another couple on the Upper West Side. Leo’s dad contacted Dr. Doolittle for some information needed for the vet and was told that his birth father lived in the same area, and Leo’s brother was still looking for a home.
Leo’s mom had a neighbor who was looking for a dog. She asked the woman to call Dr. Doolittie and ask about the status of Leo’s son Murray. Thanks to some hard work by the volunteers at the rescue, and some angel magic, Marvin was adopted by the neighbor. On a play date, an overjoyed Murray and Leo were reunited
The two dogs were brought to the park to reunite. They were delighted to see one another again and barked, kissed, and ran in circles. All that was left was to find their dad. Their owners knew he was living in the city but could not be told the name and address. It would take some sleuthing.
Once again, we angels took control. We got Leo’s parents and Marvin’s to walk down the same street simultaneously. Leo’s mom barely paid attention to the strange dog, which he happily greeted on their walk. When Leo’s mom got a sight of the other pup, she realized it looked precisely like Leo. She asked the human on the other end of the leash how she got her little one, and within minutes they discovered the family was reunited.
Leo’s parents called Murray’s, and that weekend a dog family reunion was held at the park. It was indeed a miracle that they were reunited, but that is what we do best.
Don’t ever give up on seeing someone in your family again. Not when you have determined angels on your side.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Sunday, March 21, 2021
In his life, Hershey has always been in the top one percentile. He is more loved than 99% of dogs; he is cuter, sweeter, and more brilliant. When he went to the Bridge, he did so as part of the one percent but this time in a sad way.
Hershey was confronted with a myriad of health issues when he turned 12. He had a bout of renal failure, but a switch in diet improved his condition. He also had a persistent cough, which was diagnosed as an enlarged heart. Despite these challenges, Hershey continued to act like a puppy. Of course, he was masking his infirmities to keep his mom from worrying about his deteriorating condition.
When a dog is diagnosed with heart issues, its mortal existence becomes a day-to-day proposition. Hershey’s mama Patti was determined to make each minute with him memorable for the little man who captured her heart. She obtained every needed medication, paid for prescription food, and had a ramp built next to her bed so he could climb down. She did not know it at the time, but her kindness and caring extended the number of heartbeats Hershey was assigned at birth and prolonged his life.
As time passed, Hershey’s murmur and cough grew worse. At the beginning of last week, his concerned mom took him to the vet. The doctor gave Hershey a thorough examination and determined while his murmur was worse, his lungs were clear, so he was not in heart failure. The vet prescribed medication and told mama Patti to watch over him, something she had done since he was a puppy.
The next day Hershey was his usual self. He took two walks, where he greeted the neighbors and accompanied his mom on a scooter ride. Tired, he went into the bedroom and waited for his mother to join him. Usually, after a short time, he re-emerged and insisted she accompanies him. But this time, he didn’t come back out.
She found her little love passed out on the bedroom floor, gasping. She contacted a neighbor who agreed to take them to the Emergency Vet, but Hershey had too few heartbeats left and passed en route snuggled in his favorite spot: His mom’s arms.
Upon learning of Hershey’s unfortunate passing, his vet contacted Moma Patti and informed her that sometimes a heart murmur could weaken the heart muscles, an undetectable condition. It is rare, occurring in one percent of dogs. Hershey, again, was in the top percentile, but this time he didn’t want to be.
I wish Moma Patti could witness Hershey’s crossing the Bridge, his stunning transformation from a slow-moving senior to the pup he was when he first came into her life. It may not be enough to curb Moma Patti’s sorrow, but it might do her heart well to see him reunite with the Sky, his angel sibling.
And, for the first time that I could remember, a human unrelated to the new angel was part of the welcoming committee. Angel Laura happily greeted Hershey and told him whenever he longed for a mother’s touch or a lap of kindness to come to her house where he would receive the treatment he deserved.
Since his arrival, Sky, Hershey, and the other angels whose lives were touched by Moma Patti have worked diligently to help her get through grief’s dark and silent gate and back into the sunshine where she can handle life without her handsome, joyful companion. It might take an entire village to help her, but there is one at Doggyspace always willing to help.
Judging by her sorrow, it might take all of us, but we won’t rest until she has a day where Hershey’s memories are sweet and not painful.
And hopefully, then she can love again.
Friday, March 19, 2021
Dear Sweet Mommy: The snow has melted, the temperatures have risen, the sun is stronger, the days are longer, and it is time for Pocket and River to get to stepping and sniffing.
A daily walk is a chance to smell and discover what your friends did the day before, but the first few walks after a winter's hibernation provide months of information and can be overwhelming.
My sisters began their first sniff and walk at the neighbor's house where they found, sprinkled on a tree, the innermost thoughts of Samantha, the pit bull who visits the occupant. "I am so tired of those yappy little dogs next door," Samantha peed. "I would like to eat their little livers with some lima beans and a nice Chianti.'
"Now you have done it," River scolded Pocket. "Your incessant barking is going to turn us into an entree.
"Me? I only bark because you bark, and I mistakenly think you know what you're barking at." While, to them, they were barking words, to the humans, they were emitting loud, high-pitched yips, which proved Samantha's point.
“Did she spray so?"
"No, but there's a stone in the middle of her pee."
"Oh, I hate when that happens."
They continued their journey to the front, where there are a row of rocks by the office and north of that the old yellow barn. Both are pee-mail hubs.
"Oh, my," Pocket said, after a long sniff under a rock. "Do you remember when Mrs. Duffy passed?" River nodded. "Their dog Brady says that Mr. Duffy killed her. What should we do?"
Then they moved to the barn. While the rocks were mainly message places for dogs, the barn is a meeting place for dozens of species. It is a Christian Science Reading Room of pee.
"Look at this; we’re invited to a party," Pocket said excitedly. "It's in the woods at midnight."
River checked it out. "That's coyote pee. You go to their party; you’ll never come home."
"Well, should I rsv pee? I think not doing so is rude."
"You want rude try being the main course at a coyote keg party." River took a long sniff. "This is interesting; it’s from a skunk. He wants us to boycott the new Space Jam. Movie because Pepe Le Pew is not in it. Supposedly his actions are demeaning to women."
"Isn't that the governor of New York?"
"No, Pepe is a skunk."
"What is the difference?"
"Come to think of it; ñone. I think we should say we support Pepe. If there are two things, I want to stay on the good side of it is skunks and New York liberals with mob ties."
Pocket found another spot to sniff. “Listen to this one: I can’t stand my sister, and tonight, when she is sleeping, I am going to sneak up on her and bite her in the ear.”
“You can ignore that one,”
“I just left it there.”
“Oh, hey, you aren’t going to bite me in the ear when I’m asleep, are you?”
“Of course not.”
But I knew differently and, in an act of kindness, I fended off River’s late-night attack because I know what you read in the pee always comes true.
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