Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021
When the guardian angel for rescue dogs Aunt Laura, was summoned to the Bridge to help homeless pups find homes, our dear friends, Toby, Maggie, and Pokey, went to live on the other side of the country with their surrogate skin sister, Kate. The three of them were thrilled that they were still in the (Doggyspace) family, but they had decided, when their mom passed, that, in short order, one of them would follow her into the dark.
The logical choice was Pokey, the oldest and the one with the most health issues. He was his mom's heart dog. Pokey knew his going to the Bridge would be detrimental to his mom’s fragile health. He begged for and borrowed heartbeats. When it was time for one of them to join their mom, Pokey had too many to pass over. Sadly, he got the majority from his brother Toby.
That was when the pack’s youngest brother decided to end his mortal existence and aid Momma Laura at the Bridge. His only regret was leaving Sister Kate after such a short time with her. The Lunn Pack was grateful to her for giving them all such a lovely family after their first one was shattered. They knew she had lost her own heart dog when Shiloh went to the Bridge, and they did not want to hurt the sweet sister who gave them a home.
It was Shiloh, who visited Toby’s dreams, and convinced him that his mom could handle his passing Toby thought it was cruel to leave her after a short time, and Shiloh reminded him the awful thing would have been never to live with Sister Kate and not experiencing the privilege of being her dog.
One day this month, a seemingly healthy Toby developed breathing problems, an issue that stumped more than one vet because his lungs were clear, and he had no visible underlying symptoms. What they could not see was a combination of lent heartbeats and the willingness of a stubborn pup to leave his mortal coil and be with his mom. He passed over on the vet’s table at his sister Kate’s work.
While we angels were well aware of Toby’s desire to join us, we underestimated his ambition. We were surprised when he arrived so soon after making his decision. Standing at the edge of Hobo’s Landing, looking down at Toby as he climbed the steps towards us, was Angel Laura waging an inner battle to either be angry he had thrown his mortal life away or happy to see her boy again.
Toby had been in trouble a lot when he lived with Angel Laura, but he knew a single sweet look could get him out of it. When Laura saw that winning expression again, her anger melted; she dropped to her knees and almost hugged the stuffing out of him.
When they relinquished one another, Laura told him he did not have to come to the Bridge because she was okay. Toby answered that he could tell during their dream visits how much she missed her kids. Passing over to be with her was not a sacrifice. It was a privilege.
That very first night, they visited sister Kate in her dreams so Toby could thank her for saving the family and apologize for any heartache he may have caused. Angel Laura said that Kate probably wouldn’t remember the dream but still feel relieved when she awoke.
Even a dog rescue Angel like Laura wants things a certain way, and Toby explained what they are to the hundreds of angels who were homeless mortals but now lived with her. Toby has been an invaluable asset: the connection between mom and dog. Now their lives are more manageable, and Angel Laura can concentrate more on mortal dogs in need.
And, at the end of a busy day, Toby is one of a dozen dogs who snuggle with Aunt Laura in the big bed. But Toby has the best spot. He has earned it.
Friday, June 25, 2021
I told the angels to line up and look dignified, an important pup, Champ, the country’s first dog, was crossing the Bridge, and I wanted to make sure we gave him the arrival he deserved.
I don’t think a dog partnered with a successful person is more valuable than one whose companion is homeless. The latter probably gets more attention than a President’s dog, who receives significantly less snuggle time when they move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Still, no person has more responsibility than the President, and, like all humans, they rely on their dogs for advice, which made Champ great and worthy of our respect.
` I must admit, we were expecting a grand spectacle when Champ crossed the Bridge, but in his 13 years, two-thirds of them were spent on a farm in Delaware; he lived a quiet and unassuming life of anonymity.
When he arrived, we barely noticed the humble dog crossing the bridge and climbing the stairs. Suddenly, we recognized Champ and showered him with applause. He quieted us, then talked about his fascinating life.
After his first few years, shuttling between the farm and Washington, Champ settled into life as a simple life of a dog living with two retired people. Then his dad got a big job back in the crazy city, and he, and his brother Major, went from the farm to a home with people scurrying everywhere who caused stress. Champ had experienced life in the capital when he was a young dog. Although he didn’t like it, he accepted the circumstances of his new situation. Still, Major, a rescue who only knew the peaceful life, reacted poorly, nipped several people, and suddenly became fodder for public discussion. It was not the life either dog wanted, but they loved their parents, so they tried to adjust.
Champ, at 13, a grand age for a Shephard, was slowing down and faced illnesses no dog could bear, but he fought to stay with his dad because he had become the President’s most trusted counsel. But, as was proved during his dad’s trip to Europe, Champ could not go everywhere with him. There was only one way for him to advise his dad constantly, through dream visits. That is why Champ decided to go to the Bridge. It would be better for the country.
But, Champ was worried about his brother. He had come from an abusive situation, and the insanity of daily life in Washington was too much for the dog’s fragile psyche. He would have to spend a lot of time in Champ’s dreams, but, unlike their dad, the young pup moved quickly, relying on instinct and not reason, which makes keeping him out of trouble, off the news, and being a cable news talking point, difficult. Major hopes Champ adjusts to being a White House dog because his dad needs him, but that life isn’t for every dog.
Major is confident he can communicate to and correctly advise his dad because, as a person ages, the wall between the conscious and sub-conscious weakens and makes them more susceptible to strange, disembodied voices that speak in the dark. When that wall collapses, they call it Alzheimer’s.
We didn’t have the chance to speak with Champ for long. Bo brought him to the stately land high in the mountains where Presidential dogs live with their parents and work to influence the nation’s top officeholder. On his first day, Champ met with Fala, and his dad FDR, Fido, and Abraham Lincon, as well as Sweet Lips and George Washington, who told Major to advise his dad that, if there is a troublesome Fox in the hen house, put it down quickly before it causes problems with the flock.
At least, thanks to Champ’s sacrifice, the President will have history’s greatest minds to help, with his loyal dog as the conduit. Hopefully, he won’t ignore those mysterious night visits. The whole mortal world will be better off if he listens.
Thursday, June 24, 2021
My good friend, Professor Geordie, burst into my office and announced, “Eureka, I have it!” I told him to take some penicillin, and it would clear up. “No, I know why River attacks Pocket in bed, and Toby bites my mom too!”
“Is it because my sister is a little bitch and your brother is a sneaky bastard?” I asked. That was the going theory.
“No, I have been talking to thousands of dogs and found a condition that is most prevalent in greyhounds but affects other dogs too. It is called the Sleep Startle Reflex. A dog, when woken suddenly, can, if the pup is so predisposed, attack without notice, or even realizing what they are doing.”
“River sleeps all day, often next to Pocket, and only attacks in bed,” I explained, questioning Geordie’s research.
“You have to be in deep REM sleep for it to take effect,” he said. “And that doesn’t happen during naps.”
I asked Geordie to show me his research. I pretended to understand and told him that he was a genius. We had to tell our siblings that they are dangerous, violent psychopaths, but only when they sleep: Understanding will ease their guilt.
I summoned River to meet us in her dreams, and when she arrived, I told her that I had good news; she no longer had to feel guilty about attacking Pocket in her sleep.
“I don’t feel guilty at all,” River said matter of factly, “I am quite proud.”
“Well, you can tell Mommy why you are doing it, so she doesn’t get mad at you.”
“Mommy never gets mad at me.”
God, that fierce-faced girl can be annoying. “Well, it’s something we can tell Pocket, so she doesn’t think you hate her.”
“Whatever,” River said dismissively.
I invited Geordie to explain his findings to River. She took the news, like she does everything, with a scowl. “Wait a minute, you mean I have some congenital disability that turns me into the night stalker.” Geordie triumphantly explained that was correct.
“That’s terrible!” River cried.
“I thought you would be happy to know you are not at fault,” I said.
“Why would I be happy? I thought I was the baddest bitch in the bed, and now I find out I am some freak.”
Both Geordie and I were surprised at her reaction. “Don’t be upset!” I barked. “This proves you’re a good dog!”
“I don’t want to be a good dog!” River barked. I want to be evil, with style and panache, like Roger Stone, but less effeminate. And don’t expect Toby to be happy either. We are a new breed of dog, the kind that is ready to rumble as soon as we wake up, and we will not be categorized as some byproduct of bad genes.”
River disappeared and then came back. We asked her what happened. “I was so startled by the news I woke up and attacked Pocket.”
“That goes to prove my theory,” Geordie boasted.
“Not at all; I attack because I’m a bad bitch, and Toby is a rough boy, and if anyone says different, they are going to find out how bad we can be.”
“It’s not like you can hurt us; we’re angels,” I said confidently. Then she lunged at us with such ferocity that we were knocked out of her dreams.
I asked Geordie if we should tell Toby. “Best not,” he advised, “if Toby finds out, he will start sleeping with a bow and arrow in his paw, twitch, and shoot my mom dead.” We didn’t want that.
At least we know their behavior is from sleep startle reflex and not from “Just Plain Nuts,” as I thought.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Twelve years ago, I decided to start an Internet group for dogs, and their loving parents, named after my good friend and fellow rebel Tanner, who had just gone to the Bridge; I figured how hard could it be? Just invite some people, sit back, and do nothing.
Truthfully, that’s pretty much been it. But, there have been times when this grand experiment in dog social media seemed on the brink of failure. I was heartened to see how generous people were when the weasels at Ning began to charge for the service. We have lost many original members and have been lucky enough to have brilliant dogs and devoted parents arrive to keep the site going.
The most challenging part was the beginning. At that time, huge sites were run by tech people with massive servers, and to get dogs and their people to invest time in a new site was a daunting task. We had the words to attract others, but we needed more, namely a catchy catchphrase and graphics. I was blessed to have a friend, Erin, the German Shepherd , fluent in both.
She had a popular blog with easy-to-understand instructions on how to set up pages. At least it was to the average dog. I was puzzled. Luckily, Erin was a dear friend and said that she would do all the graphic work on the site. She also gave free advice to friends about setting up pages. I was the primary administrator, and she was my assistant.
More importantly, Erin allowed me to use her phrase “Freedom to Bark.” One of the biggest complaints that people had of the more bigger sites was that they were censored. We told dogs to bark what they liked and used Erin’s slogan, to sum up our policy.
As the years passed, Erin and her Mom withdrew from social media. When we needed graphic work to spruce up Doggyspace at the Bridge, Erin agreed to leave her mom and help us. She had lived a splendid life but was tired, so our offer came at the right time.
When Erin left, she knew her mom would be in good paws because her birth daughter, Elsa, was part of their pack and had learned everything her human mom needed to survive the wicked world.
This week Erin woke me up and sadly told me we have to go to the Bridge because her daughter, Elsa, was due. She, too, had lived a good life, but her heart and soul were breaking, and she needed to cross over to live again.
The mother and child reunion was beautiful. While it is fun to look up your littermates and birth moms at the Bridge, we don’t have a strong connection, because we were separated, but when a dog keeps one of her pups, it creates the strongest bond in the canine world. When Elsa crossed, they stood on their back legs, hugged, cried, and then licked one another. It was the most touching reunion I had seen in months.
Erin did not stay on social media for long, and Elsa was barely seen there, but the mother and child have an important role in helping dogs and parents set up sites and understand the Internet. If humans look to the sky they will see two bright stars clustered together, and should know it is the unbreakable mother and daughter using the sky as their new site web page making it beautiful and reminding us all to keep barking freely.
Friday, June 18, 2021
Sometimes I wonder where the time went. I swear it was yesterday when I first found Doggyspace and began to make friends throughout the world. Our lives lay before us like an endless highway. At that time, we didn’t know that there was an abundance of exit ramps ahead and that we would be pulled into one, leaving the road and our mortal lives behind.
There aren’t many of us original members still on the road. They are all in their teens, an age when their off-ramps become more numerous and their pull greater.
The longer we travel on the road, the more we begin to break down. Molly had been on it for close to a decade and a half, and her vehicle was becoming weary. She had dementia, which made it harder to stay in her lane and accelerate past the off-ramps. She also lost the use of her back legs, making it nearly impossible to steer. In addition, her engine grew weaker when she was afflicted with congestive heart failure, but still, Molly, against all odds, kept ongoing.
This week, Molly could not stay on the road any longer. She had used every reserve in her tank to get that far. What kept her going was her parents, always just ahead of her. Traveling the road is easier when you have something to travel towards.
Last Friday, on her parents’ sixteenth anniversary, and her packmate Pepper’s third Gotcha Day, Molly finally lost control and was pulled onto a nearby offramp that took her immediately to Rainbow Bridge. Her mortal form passed in her loving dad’s arms, making her final experience a loving touch.
All her friends, both in real life, and the virtual world, along with the pack mates who preceded her, watched Molly cross the Bridge and become the energetic puppy her parents first fell in love with while retaining the wisdom and determination she acquired during her senior years.
She climbed the steps to Hobo’s Landing, and I gave her the oath of angel office. Tommy Tunes had recently thought of a unique gift he could give a new angel; a framed picture of Molly with her loving family. I know people think there are no tears at the Bridge, but Molly shed a few happy and grateful ones when she saw the gift.
More tears fell from clouds composed of the residue of weeping adults saddened when they learned of Molly’s loss. Some of my parents’ own were included, and I gathered them up to keep in my home.
Molly immediately attended classes to learn how to visit her parents’ dreams. Unfortunately, we can only communicate to them when they are in REM sleep. For the first few days after a loved one's passing, parents don’t sleep well, so it is hard to gain access to their thoughts, but it will happen soon, and even if her parents don’t remember, the sweet words spoken during the visit will buoy their subconscious.
It will be a hard road for Molly to comfort her parents after her passing, but she has proved that she can navigate a tough passage as well as any angel, and I am sure she will guide her parents past the grief into the world of acceptance.
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Homeless dogs need to stand out from the pack to find new families. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a name, and when I met a dog, who wasn’t praying for a new home but to escape his hellish life, I christened him Phoenix and waited for him to rise.
I chose that name because the 10-year-old Maltese had lived his entire life in a deplorable puppy mill. He would have prayed for a better life, but he didn’t know such a thing was possible. He was as hopeless and empty of faith as a cow who never lived more than three steps from the slaughterhouse. He was only let out of his cage to breed, not the enjoyable life some teenage boys would lead you to believe.
Phoenix had heard of this other place, called the Bridge, that, when his hellish, solitary, lonely life finally concluded, he would be transported to a life there was only love. Phoenix took a chance that such a place existed and began to give away heartbeats to those who were foolish enough to hope. One day, when they were almost gone, he lay down prepared to see what was on the other side.
Before the last heartbeat expired, the humans came in a swarm, grabbing pups and taking them away. When they came to Phoenix, he was barely breathing. He was brought to the North Shore Animal League America, a non-profit rescue facility on the organization’s Long Island campus.
I was sent down to guide the willing Phoenix to the Bridge. He was very tired but still had the strength to tell me about his tragic life. I was supposed to take him by the paw and guide him to the River of Life, but my conscience tugged. I asked if he wanted a second chance with a family. At first, he scoffed, but when I told him it was possible, he regretted giving away heartbeats. I told him I would immediately begin looking for more.
I found 100,000 for him just as his last one was expiring, and the machine he was hooked up to ceased to beep. The staff had written him off, but when the monitor began signaling loudly, they all remarked on him rising from the ashes and agreed with me that his name could only be Phoenix. He was brought to the Long Island Veterinary Specialists to help with his recovery. That was the perfect place for him. I could find a lot of available hearts there,
The heartbeats, and some medication prescribed by doctors for congestive heart failure, extended his life. Phoenix was ready to be adopted.
He was brought back to the rescue that saved him, and they were amazed that the dog who could not stand up when rescued was now a sweet, funny, boisterous pup looking forward to his second chance at life. His story caught the eye of Beth Stern, NSALA's spokesperson and well known foster parent. She shared the story of Phoenix’ressurection with her Instagram followers. He now had a hook to help him find his home.
I searched for the right family for Phoenix and found a couple who had recently lost their Maltese to congestive heart failure and had a lot of experience in caring for a senior dog with health issues. The couple, Bobbi and Kent, drove from their Pennsylvania home to meet Phoenix in New York. They fell in love with him instantly, and within days, after ten years and the loss of every heartbeat, Phoenix, now named Joey, finally had a family. He has forgotten his past and is enjoying life as a pampered family dog loving his family, and his life, like a Phoenix rising.
Today’s lesson: Never give away heartbeats; a miracle could be right around the corner
Monday, June 14, 2021
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Chewy Cutecute, so named because as a puppy she resembled Chewbacca, may have had a pretty name, but when it came to fighting off the dark angels who bring souls to the Bridge, no one was fiercer.
Chewy belonged to a trio of Shih Tzus, who were living their best lives. Instantly recognizable to all their friends by their smiling faces, braided hair, and triple-decker carriage, they caught the hearts of everyone they met and never relinquished them.
In 2018 I saw a list of dogs who were scheduled to become angels that year. The list wasn’t absolute, and those on the list could evade it and stay with their parents if they had a strong will but would have to rage a hellish battle. It was not for the faint of heart.
When I recognized Chewy’s name, I knew the dark angels would be in for the fight of their lives. They decided to inflict her with an enlarged heart and then have the medication cause problems, leaving her with very little energy or appetite. The situation looked dire, but a combination of Chewy’s strong will and dog prayers, which are the most powerful, healed her. While still inflicted with a heart disorder, she went back to living life to the fullest.
The dark angels retreated, but they mounted another attack within a few years, causing vision problems, blood in the urine, and breathing issues. Finally, the cute little dog, who the dark angels failed to take seriously, defeated them, and she stayed with her family.
No dog can vanquish the evil ones alone, and Chewy had a mighty partner in her mom. There was no time or money; she would not sacrifice to keep Chewy by her side. Instead, she tried every available treatment, from standard medicine to acupuncture to new age ideas. Few moms could have done more, and her all-encompassing love gave Chewy a reason to live.
The demons who separate loved knew when it came to Chewy that time was on their side. Every day Chewy lost a little more of herself until she needed a blood transfusion. Sadly, her body showed signs of rejecting it. Chewy’s mom knew that her baby would not choose to go to the Bridge no matter how much she was suffering, so her mom helped her cross over.
When Chewy was brought back home, after her soul went to the Bridge, her siblings QQ, Cherry, Koh Koh, and Kakak knew they had to be incredibly loving and caring for their broken-hearted mom while trying to navigate the cold world without their leader. I know they have a painful road ahead of them, one they may never stop traveling, but they will do so together, and it will make the treacherous path easier to navigate.
All her friends and some fans who rooted for Chewy, and the way she fought to stay with her mom, gathered at the Bridge to give her a much-deserved hero’s welcome. Two of her predecessors, Patch and Peng, were with me to welcome her to her final forever home. As Chewy crossed the Bridge, all the pain and illness were gone, and by the time she reached her siblings, she was back to being as energetic as five-year-old.
After a monsoon of tears fell created by the sorrow felt by friends and family, Chewy pledged to spend as much time in her mom’s dreams as a ghost, or a pretty flying creature, to help her through the most difficult time of her life.
I am not betting against the girl who turned Cutecute into a synonym for kick ass.
Friday, June 11, 2021
Last night, a very excited River dreamed of me so we could talk. “You won’t believe what happened!” she yelled, bursting into my cottage and tracking in dream mud. When I asked what, she informed me that she and Pocket had finally had visitors after more than a year.
At first, we dogs thought the pandemic was awesome. Our parents were home all the time, and the shelters were being cleared out. But then parents started to get extremely sick, and some went to the Bridge. We had to go into the vets and groomers alone. This pandemic was not going to be as pleasurable as we thought.
My parents, as is true with all dog lovers, don’t like people. There are only a few they allow to cross their threshold. The most frequent visitors are Mommy’s brother and his wife and her daughter and granddaughter. While the pandemic was raging, the daughter and grandaughter visits were limited. Mommy’s brother did not visit at all. For two dogs like my sisters, who thrive on smells and attention, it was a long, dark year.
When you are home with just your parents, the routine of life becomes absolute. You know what day it is when the groceries are done, when the linen is changed, when the bathrooms are scrubbed, when the parents get take out, and when soup day is. In our house, the soup is made on Friday.
On Friday, for the first time in 14 months, there was no soup made on Friday. At first, my sisters wondered if they had slept through Friday, and it was Saturday, but that was foolish. River would never sleep through dinner. Then the dog dinner dishes were brought out, and supper for my sister was prepared.
Pocket was smart enough to know something was happening. It was either awful: our parents going out, or exceptionally good: someone coming over. She couldn’t discuss this with River, who was, as always, obsessed with food.
Then Daddy arrived with five pizza boxes, which is a lot, even for the pizzaholics I lived with. That is when the girls realized the long guest embargo was over. Of course, that made my two undisciplined sisters want to pee, and while they were out, the guests entered without the pleasure of two crazy dogs sniffing them like they are old cheese in the back of the refrigerator.
River and Pocket were four houses down the street when they witnessed the guests’ arrival. They pulled Daddy back to the house like he was a Trump brother dragging an endangered species for a photo-op. The guests were already seated, but that did not prevent lots of sniffing and licking. It worked out better for the pups since they are small dogs, and this is the closest to the guests’ butt they would get.
They ran around barking and sniffing. They jumped up with their paws on the guests’ legs. They barked in joy. They did the spin around, and then, after five minutes, they lay down and were hoping these two people went away so they could get a lap.
Dogs love the beginning and end of visits; the middle is long and tedious.
Now the pandemic is close to being over, and lots of people with strange smells will be allowed back into the house.
This is one of the rare times I envy my sisters.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
I blame Stephen King. Once, there were pet cemeteries throughout the land. People would visit them each weekend to mourn their pets and remember the good times they shared. Then, Stephen King wrote a scary book, and pet cemeteries became haunted places no one wants to visit.
The pet cemeteries still exist, but they are overgrown and hidden as if that would keep us from rising and attacking as dog zombies.
The Chobham Pet Cemetery is in Chobham, Surrey, yet none of the residents knew it exists.
It was found by a man named Frances, who built a home in a newly cleared out area, and, when he walked in the woods behind his house, came to a clearing and stumbled on the cemetery.
There were a half-dozen headstones, in two neat lines, evenly spaced, with the bottom of the monuments covered with twigs, sticks, and leaves. Frances dropped to his knees, cleared the brush, saw, carved into headstones, the names of pets, and the dates they walked on the mortal side.
The cemetery stirred several emotions in those who saw it. The people who had created the memorials loved their dogs and wanted their memories to live through eternity, just as their ancestors had. It was touching to see evidence of their devotion and sad to witness how the site failed to create a permanent memorial, as people, and time, forgot the cemetery.
Francis thought that the first headstone was for Moffat Treasure: A Great Friend until, upon further study, he realized it represented two dogs, one named Great Friend. The two dogs passed on the same day. The simple epitaph was: “They brought me real joy and happiness.”
I sought out Moffat and found him in Happily Ever After. Moffat told me that he stopped a runaway horse with a cart attached on a busy London street in 1930, which would have caused several casualties. The Tailwaggers Club awarded Moffat the Brave Collar award, which he still proudly wears his gold collar. Great Friend also received the reward. They both had TW on their headstones standing for Tailwaggers Club.
` I got to meet Mr. A. Jinks, the dogs’ dad who had erected the headstones, and, while he did not want to discuss the sad day both his pups went to the Bridge, he assured me both his dogs were true heroes and his years with them was the best of his life.
When I flew down to the cemetery, I saw a memorial stone dedicated to the eight Airedales of the pet cemetery’s owners: Peter, Sasha, Rover, Joy, Tony, Jock, Luckie, and Prince. The mom and dad, Millicent May Baxter, and her husband, Colonel R. H. R. Baxter – had their ashes buried at the site. Someone broke their stone but, even on the ground, I could still read it. I found them all at Happily Ever After too. They were very excited the memorials were being cared for again; we would remember their pups.
Joy whispered to me that her dad was enlisted to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers and continued his military career through World War I. He moved from India to England after the war. He became an executive with a car company. Growing up on the subcontinent, he was taught a love of animals that never left him.
Soon after being discovered, a committee was formed to restore the cemetery. Today it is back to its former glory and gets visitors who want to experience a little bit of history and feel the love between the owners and their pets.
So take that, Stephen King.
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