Take down the squirrel-proof feeder and nobody gets hurt
I have been very impressed with Pocket’s quickly adjusting to being an Angel. She has ascended to the position of patron saint for the infirm and scared. I think it is the perfect position for my sister. Mortal dogs like her are wearing bracelets that say “WWPD” for What would Pocket do.
Spike is the first dog who sought Pocket’s help. A quiet, unassuming pup, he spent most of his life outside with his only friend, a cat named Max. They had both been abused by their owner and were scared of humans. When Spike began to lose his eyesight, he prayed to the angels for help. Normally, I would have taken the case, but I figured Pocket would be the one to speak with Spike.
Pocket told Spike that she could arrange for the duo to get a new home. She knew that their parents had hurt them, but those people were outliers. The vast majority of humans, especially those looking to help him, were kind and would make his life better.
Spike had one good reason why he did not want another home. He was afraid that they would separate him from Max, who had become his eyes in the world. Pocket promised they would not be apart.
Pocket knew she had made a vow she could not keep and didn’t know what to do. At wit’s end, she came to me for help to keep Spike and Max together.
She told me I was the only Angel she knew who could help her. Pocket knows nothing motivates me like flattery, and I said I would enter the parent's dreams and convince them that a blind dog and senior cat were too much for them and Spike and Max should be surrendered. Meanwhile, Pocket prepared them for the abrupt change in circumstances that would be upcoming.
Even if a dog is unloved and abused in his home, being surrendered is still a frightening proposition. Every dog is afraid of the needle that sends so many to the Bridge without love. After being left at the shelter in separate cages, both pets feared being sent to the Island of Misfit dogs, an urban legend commonly believed to be where unloved pets are fated to go.
A sign that they were undergoing a reversal of fortune was when they were removed from their respective careers and handled for the first time with kindness and love.
The staff quickly determined Spike needed eye surgery for painful cataracts. At first, he had difficulty recovering from the procedure, but the dog immediately perked up when Max was put in his crate next to Spike. The staff realized they could not be separated.
As I have said, every pet in a shelter needs a hook to get adopted, and Spike had two. He was blind and needed a seeing-eye cat.
When the shelter posted their profiles on the Internet, people were immediately interested, and the workers we able to pick the best possible homes for them.
Now, Spike and Max are in a new home together, always inside, not suffering from the rain or the cold. They are fed regularly and get a lot of love. Their lives are perfect, even with only one of them being able to see.
And it was another victory for the teeny tiny terrier duo.
It moves in without you noticing to be a permanent resident. It seeps into your mind, heart, and soul, dominating your thoughts. Its name is Grief.
Grief turns everything dark and makes you shun the daylight like a vampire. All the sun does is cast empty shadows reminding you who is missing.
Grief brings his sister, Guilt, with him. Together they whisper in your ear that you are to blame. Grief is as mischievous as Loki and as powerful as Thor.
Grief hates laughter and causes you too to do the same. It makes you want to yell at giggling fools, “what’s so damn funny?” And if you laugh, Grief brings Guilt to berate you.
Grief has a cousin called Misery. He is more social than Grief. He loves company. Grief hates it. Go away; I am with Grief.
Grief loves the rain. You can stand with Grief during a storm and weep. It looks like you took too many raindrops to the face. Grief prefers anonymity
Grief enters your mind and puts it in a vise lock. You have thoughts not connected to Grief, but they all lead back to him. Grief strives to be the center of attention.
Grief abhors sleep. His hosts must constantly engage grief. If you somehow ignore him and fall asleep, he will prod you until you are awake and slam into your weary state like a massive wave on a skiff.
Grief remembers all the times he encountered you in your life and ties all the losses together in a black bow.
Grief puts everything into perspective. What bothered you before he moved in is now trivial. Grief conquers all.
Grief is angry that he doesn’t get more respect. Companies give their employees months off when a child becomes part of the family and a couple of days when someone dies. Grief thanks, it should be equal time because he knows no one can work with him dominating their thoughts. Grief is hitting people harder to prove his case.
Grief is a Yankees fan.
Grief prefers the respect he got in the past when people wore mourning clothes that signaled they lost a loved one and permitted them to be a bit of an asshole. You could get away with a lot wearing mourning garments. Then full-time assholes realized they could act with immunity by wearing them. The phony mourners ended the tradition. Their ancestors are currently making fake vaccination cards.
Grief has a point.
Grief has no patience. Grief is always itching for something to start. Grief can morph into anger easily. Grief elevates the indiscretion of others. Grief makes you want to punch someone in the face. If you do so, Grief will not join you in the jail cell. His cousin Terror will. It's another argument for mourning clothes.
Grief never leaves. Grief becomes bored and turns into acceptance. Grief stays in this dormant state but can arise again on birthdays and anniversaries. Sometimes without warning, it comes back and slaps you in the head when you least expect it.
Grief is relentless
Grief is here.
It was time to teach Pocket how to save a mortal dog. I was assigned the perfect pup in need. A dog named SkipJack was playing on a private beach near the Rappahannock River in Virginia. His Momma sat nearby, reading a book and enjoying the warm summer day. She would look up to check on SkipJack then go back to reading. The last time she looked up, SkipJack was gone.
The pup had been having a grand time chasing waves when one of them grabbed ahold of the slight dog and pulled him out to sea. His mom ran into the water, calling his name, but could not see him. Terrified, she contacted 911.
Meanwhile, SkipJack was operating totally on instinct and tried to swim back, but the under-toad would not let go. Desperate SkipJack prayed for help. I looked to the sky and saw the head angels had lit the Foley Signal, a picture of my face in the sky, and I knew it was a prayer only I could answer successfully. I told Pocket to come, and we took the Yorkie poles back to the mortal land.
We found SkipJack struggling in the water a hundred yards from shore and going further out. Pocket and I appeared to him. I told SkipJack he had nothing to fear: Pocket and Foley, the Yorkie sisters, were here for him.
I turned to Pocket. “Okay, this is the situation. This dog is being dragged out to sea and is growing weaker. Rescuers are on the way, but they couldn't see him even if they arrive before SkipJack was dragged away. What should we do?”
“Excuse me,” SkipJack interjected. “What is going on?”
“I am teaching my sister, Pocket, how to save a praying dog.”
“Oh,” SkipJack said while spitting water. “Could you do it some other time? I seem to be drowning.”
Boy, this was a needy dog. I told him to be patient, and we would be with him in a moment, then turned my attention back to Pocket, who was in deep thought.
“He needs to stand out in the water,” Pocket said. “I know! He can stick his tail in the air, and the rescuers will save him.”
I told Pocket that was a brilliant idea.
“Excuse me again,” SkipJack said. “I hate to be a bother; for me to stick my tail in the air, my head would have to be underwater.”
“Your point?” I asked impatiently.
“I will drown.”
That was a good point. “He should extend his neck, so his nose is higher,” Pocket suggested.
SkipJack said he would try. His head wasn't high enough above the waves. I told him to try and lick the sun. He did; just as the rescuers arrived, they spotted the sun shining off SkipJack’s nose. They sent a boat, and he was pulled from the sea. The rescuers even gave him a life jacket, so it never happened again.
Pocket and I went back to the Bridge triumphant. We were lauded as heroes. The only drawback was that SkipJack, on his customer satisfaction report, said we were too chatty.
There are some customers you can never please.
Today was another lesson for Pocket. This one was going to be a difficult assignment. She was accompanying me to welcome a friend to the Bridge.
Pocket had been to one swearing-in ceremony before, her own. You can’t judge how emotional they can be when you are the new angel. It is like a bride who has never been to another wedding describing what it's like to watch someone get married.
I told Pocket that our old friend Sushi was arriving, and my sister would be next to me at the swearing-in ceremony. I stressed that it was a solemn occasion, and Pocket needed to be on her best behavior.
We saw Sushi emerge from the water after swimming across the River of Life. She ran over the Bridge and stopped at the bottom step, looking up at us.
I looked at Sushi as I told Pocket that this was the most critical moment in the crossing-over process. Sushi had to come to terms with her own passing and make a choice to climb. We should not interfere. Then I saw Pocket running down the stairs, taking Sushi by the paw and practically pulling her towards us. Oh, man! She attends one swearing-in ceremony, and the whole system breaks down.
But, to my surprise, Sushi was happy that Pocket interfered, and when the duo reached us, she said she was unsure what to do until Pocket used sweet persuasion and saved the newest angel from an immortal life of walking like a ghost between the two worlds.
Maybe Sushi did need some Angel encouragement to climb the stairs. After all, it was Angel's advice that allowed her to have a remarkable life.
Sushi had been living a very unrewarding existence tied to a tree in the hot Arizona sun. One day she was visited by an Angel named Scrappy, who had recently gone to the Bridge. He told Sushi to pull on her chain until it broke and then make a break for it. Most of all, no matter what happened, she couldn’t go home. When all seemed lost, she should trust the angels.
Sushi ran through the broiling hot Arizona summer heat until exhausted. Then she was found and brought to a shelter. Once Sushi recovered, it was determined that she was a sweet-tempered pup, and they placed her in foster care, where the parents aggressively tried to get her a new home.
Meanwhile, Scrappy used all the dream persuasion he could muster to get his parents to find Sushi. It took a phone conversation with Scrappy’s rescue workers and an email to bring Sushi and his parents together.
It took a lot of love to keep them together. Sushi proved to be a rambunctious pup from the day they met. That did not stop her parents from adopting and providing Sushi a forever home. But it would take a lot of training and patience before she stopped eating the remote or anything else she found on a flat surface.
But no amount of bad behavior would put asunder what Scrappy had brought together. It took many weeks, but Sushi learned to curb her enthusiasm and became her parents’ perfect pup.
While the love Sushi and her parents had for one another will never end, the dark angels from the Bridge did temporarily part them physically. When she and Pocket reached Hobo’s landing, Sushi ran to Scrappy, and they thanked one another for Scrappy giving Sushi a great family and she for taking care of their parents.
I had put Pocket in charge of the welcoming party, and she did a great job. The food was the first rate, and the video tributes to Sushi from dogs on both sides of the River were a classic touch. Having recently crossed the Bridge, Pocket helps her understand what a dog needs on their first night: love, laughter, and bacon.
Both Scrappy and I would agree. Having a sibling to share the Bridge experience does make or go faster.
Pocket has never been brave, but she always had an adventurous spirit. After settling in at the house, she decided to explore the Bridge.
She traveled west, towards Kitty Villiage, passing through Together Land, where dogs and cats cohabitate. Pocket smiled uneasily at the kitties. She had never developed a relationship with cats on the mortal side. She spent her time barking and chasing them. But, now that she was immortal, she felt the need to make amends.
Pocket found a cat looking over the river and asked if she could sit down. The kitty smiled sadly and said Pocket was welcome to do so. They sat in silence as Pocket tried to think of something to say. Then, when the sun hit the kitty just right, she noticed it looked familiar.
“Excuse me, do you write a blog?” Pocket asked politely.
“Yes, I do,” the cat meowed.
“Are you Paddy O’Malley?” He confirmed that was his identity. “I am Pocket Dog; I write a blog too.” When Paddy recognized Pocket, they hugged, happy to see a familiar face. Paddy asked how Pocket came to the Bridge, and she told him about her kidney issues. “It was lung cancer for me,” Paddy sighed. “I hid it from my mom as long as I could, but it is hard to hide an inability to breathe.”
Pocket agreed and said for her it was an inability to stop pooping bits of blood and, later, to pee that betrayed the secret of her ill health. “That is when Mommy sent me to sleep-away camp to get better.”
At first, Paddy didn’t know what to make of the innocent dog’s inability to understand where she was. He then let it pass because thinking of his current circumstances as a temporary camp eased his pain over passing to the next world.
Pocket asked how Paddy’s mom was doing. “Not good,” he sighed. “She was devastated when I passed.” Pocket said the same was true of her parents. “I knew they loved me,” Paddy said, “but not how much. I guess there are secrets only answered at the end.”
Paddy and Pocket found, despite being parts of species often at war, they had more in common than not. They shared troublesome younger siblings that they often clashed with, they had bad teeth, and they both loved a warm lap. Pocket was fascinated with tales of Paddy’s days living on the street and how he found his family and lived a happy life, one he was deeply saddened to leave.
The rest of the afternoon, the two new angels traded stories about their lives and shared the unique pain that only someone who has tragically lost love can experience. Pocket promised to teach Paddy how to become a bird so she can see her parents. Paddy explained this was hard when you are a cat because of the overpowering urge to eat your own wing.
Pocket apologized to Paddy for chasing so many cats before she came to camp. She promised never to do it again.
The two pledged to be best camp friends. Then, as the sun was setting, they lay together, enjoying eachother’s warmth, until darkness came.
On the fifth day, Pocket made friends with a cat.
I can’t imagine what is next.
The first few days after Pocket arrived here were a whirlwind. So many pups wanted to greet her that we didn’t have time to go home. But, finally, Pocket being here became routine, as it has at your house, and that is the most troubling time.
I brought Pocket to our cottage on the river where we live with Blake, our pack leader, who takes care of us, Jax Gallagher, my trouble-making brother, Copper, my shy, self-conscious sister, and tiny Skye, a forever puppy. I had worked miracles with Pocket for years, not just to keep her on the mortal side, but to keep her from me. I hate when I have to add a room at our cottage. I had to replant the rhododendron.
I showed Pocket her room. I had it built by my many minions to exact specifications. It had her squished kitty condo (she used to sleep in it, but, like Snoopy, she began climbing on top of it, unaware it could not support her slight weight); the little chair and red blanket she snuggled on; her red ball, her puppy bed, and a big new bed for her to sleep. It also had screens on the wall constantly playing her memories, a big window that looked out on the river, that let in warm sunlight, and a ball throwing machine. It was the best room in the house. I was sure she would enjoy it.
In the middle of the night, I heard her paw step on the floor. She was next to my bed. Pocket said she had never slept alone before and was scared. I told her to fly up, and she could sleep at the end of my bed.
When I awoke, she wasn’t there. I went to the kitchen and found her helping Blake make breakfast. She was flipping pancakes while chewing on some bacon. Blake, who didn’t let anyone in her kitchen, said she loved the help and called Pocket, the sister she always wanted. What was I? Flaked liver in a savory sauce?
My other family members, who all annoy me, were eating breakfast and fawning over Pocket when there was a knock on the door. Three little dogs, which I did not know, said they were there to meet the most famous Yorkie in the world. That had happened several times before. I always obliged them, but I didn’t like them interrupting my breakfast, the most important meal of the day with a break in the title. I told them I would be out to take pawsies with them after I ate. “Not you,” they said. “Her!” pointing to Pocket. “We read all the stories. She is a real hero.” Pocket scampered outside to meet her fans and asked me to take their pictures. For the Big Guy’s Oldest Son’s sake! The whole system was breaking down!
Hattie Mae and Lilly came to our house. I was happy to see them. We could go somewhere together and have fun, away from the family. They said they needed a model for their petite fashion line. I replied I could make time for them in the afternoon, and they answered, “no, we want Pocket.” She burst outside, gave them a big hug, and they skipped off together.
I was pissed. I knew one dog who would understand being upstaged by Pocket. I appeared to River as a ghost and told her how annoying Pocket was.
“I wish she were still here,” River said surprisingly. “I miss her. Sometimes I walk around looking for her. And our parents are sad. I am doing what I can to deal with theor grief.”
I began to repeat how it had affected me when River interrupted. “Foley, Pocket’s passing isn’t about you,” River observed. “It’s about me! Our parents are giving me all their love and attention! I am overwhelmed. If I am told what a good girl I am one time, I am going rogue.” I left River ranting. Selfishness is so unbecoming.
I slunk back home and heard a big party going on inside. I was ready to tell all those people, and Pocket, to get out of my house. I opened the door, and everyone yelled, “surprise! Pocket had thrown a “Best sister in history” party for me. Everyone paid tribute to me, and Pocket talked about how hard I worked to keep her from the Bridge for so long. Then she gave a bone broth toast, and everyone cheered.
I thanked them all, even if I didn’t feel like the best sister ever. But I promised I would try to be.
I think I’ll keep her.
Thank you to Angel Tommy, sweet Freddy, and their dad Steve, the kindest man we know for this loving tribute to Pocket. It means the world to us.
Also thank you for all the friends who took time to comment and cheer us up. It is very much appreciated. You all are the best.
It is I, your little Pocket Dog. I am having a fantastic time at Sleep-Away-Camp. You were brilliant to send me here. Honestly, I was hiding a big secret from you. Before I went to camp, I was feeling poorly. I kept pooping; my mouth hurt, I had trouble peeing. As soon as I arrived, I felt better; it must have been something in that river I swam before arriving at camp.
And get this! All my angel friends are here, led by Foley! She was wearing her judge clothes and looked so silly I had to laugh. She made me take the Sleepy Time Camp oath, and then everyone cheered. I felt like a princess.
Boy, did it rain after that! Foley told me that the raindrops were tears shed when people found out I went to camp. Most of them were yours. I guess parents do miss their kids when they go to camp. I felt terrible that you were upset and wanted to go home. Foley told me I couldn’t but that we could visit.
She took me to this bird store and picked out two bodies, then paid the proprietor a bag of seed. The next thing I knew, I was a hummingbird! Foley taught me how to fly. It was challenging, but once I got the hang of it, I was soaring.
Foley told me to follow her, and we flew for a long time until we came to familiar butterfly bushes. I realized I was home again and seeing things from a whole new perspective. I had so much fun chasing Foley around the yard, just like we used to when she lived with us. I saw you in the window, and I felt terrible that you looked so sad. I fluttered my wings at you to signal I was happy at camp and thankful you took my pain away. I hope you noticed.
Not all camp life is fun. Before Foley let me come here, she made me promise that I would become her clerk of courts. Foley is a sleepaway camp judge. I thought it had something to do with picking the winner of pie and pig contests, but apparently, camp members come to her when they have disputes, and she decides who is right. I guess she is cut out for it because she is never wrong. Just ask her. Anyway, whoever had the job before I did was terrible. It might take me all summer to get caught up.
I share a tiny house on the river with Foley, and I met my predecessors, Jax, Sky, Copper, and Blake. It was a true honor to get to know them all. I can see why you loved them so much. Jax is going to teach me how to blow things up: It sounds like fun.
I asked Foley when I could go home, and she said, not today or tomorrow, but since time moves quickly here: Soon. And she said you and Daddy would arrive seperately, but the way Daddy drives, who knows? Then, when we are all together at camp, we will return home, to a land called Happily Eve After.
I am looking forward to that.
I know parents are sad when their dogs go to sleepaway camp. I don’t want you shedding tears. I am all better now. I am at a place where nothing scares me, and I will never have an upset tummy again. Most of all, I am with friends and won’t be sick or in pain
Like all kids at camp, once we were separated, I realized how much I loved you. You are the best mom anywhere. I was a special needs dog with a small bladder, weekly diarrhea, and fear of loud noises. A lot of moms would have given up on me, but you never did. Thank you for giving me the best life any dog had ever lived.
Foley says that we will visit you in your dreams soon, and we will keep doing it until camp ends, and I am with you again.
It just won’t be today or tomorrow and It will be that way for a long, long time.
But I can handle it. You gave me what I needed to survive and everything that made me Little Pocket Dog. I will be thankful for ever.
Love Pocket Dog
I knew the day would come. I could see it, first in the distance, like dark, gathering storm clouds, then each day, it came slightly closer. I used all my angel powers to keep the storm at bay, but in the end, I failed, and the dog I most tried to prevent from coming to the Bridge arrived today: My dear, sweet sister Pocket.
I have never claimed to be a sharing dog. Remember how I used to torment Pocket by stealing her ball and sitting on it? I must admit I wasn’t a perfect sister, at least when we were mortal. My jealous streak could overtake my entire body. And when I became a Judge and went to the Bridge, I helped her battle her frequent health issues. I told you I did it because I knew your heart would be broken when this day came, but also I was enjoying being Pocket free.
Pocket has been like a photo left out in the sun for the past three months, slowly fading away. I couldn’t tell you how much she was suffering. That was a promise I made to her. If you had known her kidneys and other organs were failing, you would have made sure she wasn’t suffering by sending her to me. But, all Pocket wanted was to be with you, and I promised not to let you know her truth.
When I lived with her, I thought Pocket was a whiney wimp, reacting in pain and fear to everything. But, when I left, and she became the protector of your heart, I grew impressed with her. Then she got sick and hid it every day from you.
That is when I knew I misjudged her. My little sister Pocket, all five pounds of her, was the fiercest dog ever and was driven by her love for you.
As much as Pocket tried to hide the effects of her illness, her body betrayed her: First with diarrhea, then with blood added to it, then an inability to go more than a few hours without going to the bathroom. Also, she didn’t have the energy to walk across a room. Her appetite abandoned her, and all she had the strength to do was sit on your lap. I knew it was her time.
But, she is still a stubborn little wench and refused. She said she could put up with any pain for you. I had to provide a reason for her to join me, so I offered her a job as Chief Clerk of Rainbow Bridge. Truthfully, I never had a better assistant than Pocket and could surely use her help.
She lifted her little head and asked, amazed, “You need me?
I told her, of course, I did. She had saved you after I passed, and it was time for her to save me. I told her that River Song could handle our parents. Pocket had trained her perfectly. Most of all, I said that all songs usually end sadly, but the final notes shouldn’t be the only ones you remember. It should be all the beautiful happy notes before that when the song was new, fresh, and young.
And that is when she agreed to join me at the Bridge. All her pain and suffering would end, and she would feel like a puppy again.
I could tell you about her arrival, but she said as soon as she can learn how she will recount it to you. I don’t want to steal her spotlight. I am afraid I may have already done that more than once.
So, Dear Sweet Mommy, don’t be sad because Pocket is young and healthy again. All her pain is gone, all suffering has diminished, and she feels nothing but love for you and her friends who took time out of their lives to pray for her show your great compassion.
I know the road before you is dark and heartwrenching as it should be when you lose something that you loved with all your heart and loved you even more. Pocket and I are together again, and we will guide you through the darkness in your dreams, and River will while you’re awake.
You are with the best moms, the best of women, and we thank you down to the bottom of our paws.
Now the dynamic duo that sprung onto the Internet in 2007 with tails of wild exploits and daring-do have reunited, I can’t imagine the mischief we will create. And the Big Guy better look out because my sister is here, and together we can’t be stopped.
Only three hours after her passing, I returned with Pocket to our yard as hummingbirds, and we played in the butterfly bushes while you watched from the window. Pocket picked up borrowing bird’s bodies quickly, but she wanted to see you before the end of the night and to give you a wing flutter of thanks.
After 21 years, Tien had given everything she had, and it was time to cross over. Some people say when a pet parent and animal, like Momma...