The Decade of Melvin.

I rescued Melvin ten years ago. Of course he rescued me ten years, and one week ago (when I drove to Delaware to meet him). I don’t know how it is possible that it is only ten years, because I cannot really recall a time before, or without, Melvin.

Melvin made me believe in fate.  I believe the universe delivered a master plan in us.

Yes, Melvin won in his life with me. He got the vet care he needed. We waged an assault on his allergies. He had the healthiest life he could have, with me. I love him with my whole heart. But the winner of our union will always be, me.

He changed me. He taught me to chase joy. Jake came, because of Melvin. Because we were joy junkies and we needed that little peanut so we could all be more joyful together. I have so much patience for Doug, because Melvin taught me to be understanding of all dogs. To accept that it is not where we’ve been or where we are going, it’s where we are right now.

I worried when he died that he wasn’t able to impart his wisdom on more dogs. Had I know cancer would strike so quickly, I would have brought more dogs into our house so they could soak up Melvin vibes. But now with Doug, I realize that I am his link to all that. I am the connection from Doug to Melvin and Jake. And there are so many things about Doug that remind me of his brothers. My love is the link to them all.

There will be more decades of Melvin, because I carry him in my heart. His love, and life, and light, will always shine brightly in me. Melvin magic lives on.

A few years ago, I wrote a letter to Melvin’s first family. You can find it here.

I have said this before, I have hard time being anything but happy about Melvin. I didn’t spend a ton of time being angry at his life before me. I made a huge effort to not be angry when I was grieving his loss. Melvin personified (dogified?) joy every moment he was alive. I mean his tail got amputated and he came out of that surgery, on the stretcher, wagging his nubbin. He was ALL JOY, all the time. I worked really hard after he died, to not let anger become a part of our story.  There is a peace that has always washed over me when I see Melvin’s face. I hope that stays with me forever.

Ten years of Melvin in my heart. I’m blessed.

5 13 13b

Wild Kingdom.

Doug has never really shown interest in chasing squirrels.  He might see them and stare but for the most part, no. Obviously last spring through fall, he was on post-surgery tie down, so much more so, nope to squirrels.

This year, Doug is pretty aware of the two squirrels (they have lived just behind our fence for YEARS and I named them Breakfast and Dinner because Jake used to hunt them 24/7, even in his sleep) who use our yard as a dumping ground for acorn shells and squirrel germs. Doug doesn’t hunt them like Jake, he is much more of the: I shall chase after them but hopefully I don’t catch them because they could be violent or be concealing a weapon.

He will see them from the couch, and sometimes forget he’s inside as he goes to chase after them. Almost always, they will see him (whether he is inside or outside) and do a freeze with a look that says, you are way less scary than the dog before you, and then they will take off. If Doug is outside, sometimes he thinks, I guess, that he can jump over our 7-foot fence. He however, cannot.

Where dat squirrel at? IMG_7106

It’s all fun.  If a squirrel drops anything in its efforts to escape, Doug, true story, will go locate said item (an acorn) and bring it inside as an extra FU.  I just love having acorns in my house with squirrel saliva all over them.

So to recap, squirrels = friends/playful.

Move over to the driveway side of the house, where Boy Bob (Bob 2) taunts Doug with his meowing. Doug is way more aware of that window now and he polices it pretty regularly. Recently I noticed that Bob’s food bowl was being taken over by ants so in true crazy person mode, I googled ant-less feeding solutions.  Found a few and I’ve been outside setting up some of those fixes, along with a new condo for Boy Bob to take a break from the elements. My being out there makes Doug even more aware of the Boy Bob situation.

IMG_9688

Well this week, a crow has taken up residence in our driveway area.  I have never once, in seven years here, seen a crow.  So it makes sense that the first one to move in, moves into our yard. Apparently the crow thinks the condo and food bowl are his. Or hers. I don’t know crow gender. Let’s call him S/he.  So this giant food thief is always lurking. This has not gone unnoticed by Doug. There is nothing, NOTHING, that Doug flips out more over than this crow. I don’t know if they know each other from the streets of  South Carolina or what, but Doug sits at the window like a scarecrow and comes to life horror movie style when the crow arrives. I have yet to catch it on film because the home camera does not pick up that window and if I’m home, I’m just trying to avoid having the crow fly into our house via a suddenly broken window.

IMG_9689 (1).jpg

 

To maintain my sanity on this issue, I do pretend that Doug is defending Boy Bob’s condo and food. It’s the story I plan to tell the window replacement company.

May Day.

It has been a little too busy over here. I am helping out with some extra projects at work so that is one part of it, our roof decided to give up 7 years into existing so when it rained ALL week last week, it did so outside AND inside.

Here are some highlights as we call ‘uncle’ on May!

  • Doug met a few ‘potentials’. It turned out they were only potentials for me. Doug hated them. Thus, we met with a new trainer, who I really like.  In the past I have worked with trainers on his need to mouth feet, or my need to be able to encourage him from wild to place. This trainer is going to help us get Doug back to being more comfortable with play dates and hopefully then, a housemate. I will do a separate post on this.
  • I don’t think Bob #1 is with us anymore. She could have relocated, we had a surge of feral cats this spring so maybe she found a new gang to run with. I have not seen her in several months. She is chipped to me and I have not gotten any phone calls so, who knows. We wish that vixen all the best.
  • Bob #2 is a regular. Last night I pulled into the driveway and he was in our bushes.  I stood in the garage to see if he would come up to his bowl and he did. Every time a bird flew by or there was a noise, he would flinch. I guess that is the life of a feral cat. After he ate he took a little siesta on the driveway and even though I’m deathly allergic and he is just generally terrified, I think he knows I’m the provider of food. Also, I love him. IMG_9524

 

  • This spring is so much better than last spring for Doug! Last year at this time we were a few weeks into Doug’s first surgery. This year, Doug owns his yard like a boss. He chases the squirrels out of it, he digs for moles (I could live without this), he makes sure his jolly balls get the attention they deserve and then he lays down on every soft surface, except the dog chaise I bought for him.IMG_9396

 

  • To add to the awesomeness of Doug’s life, he has graduated from being in the mudroom when I am gone to having access to the main floor of the house. I slowly gave him more freedom and he has done really great with it all.  The first few days he sat and stared at the door like a statue, but somewhere around day 5 he realized he could do what all other dogs do when their humans are way – lick his parts and nap.IMG_9363

 

  • Melvin and Jake continue to send me songs and beautiful sunsets. And Doug and I continue to help dogs in need so that their #loveliveson .

Have a wonderful week!

 

 

Who runs the world? Moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! To the hockey moms, the dog moms, the new moms, the grand-moms.  To the male moms, the single moms, the families with more than one mom moms. To the cheer moms, the carpool moms, the dance moms. To the moms that gave birth and to the moms who open their doors to children in need. To the working moms, the stay-at-home moms and the do-whatever-is-necessary moms. To the worry-they-have-no-idea-what-they-are-doing moms. To the moms of one and the moms of many. To the moms setting a better example for their kids, than what was set for them. To the moms preparing to become moms.

To the moms who have lost a child. I won’t pretend to have the words.

To those who have lost their moms. I wish you strength as memories sneak or flood in.

Moms rule this universe. A mom created your beating heart and then (hopefully) filled it with love and confidence and joy and understanding.

To my mom, you taught me the meaning of true, unconditional love. It’s the foundation of my beautiful life.

To Max, Melvin, Jake, Bob(s) and Doug, being your mom, is my everything. You are my joy.

mothers day.jpg

 

Good Dog.

I know I share a lot of challenges about Doug.  Some I share so that others know that the struggle is real here too. Some are just funny.  Mostly, it’s just reality, right? Kids are way harder dogs, but raising dogs is something new every day too.  Both journeys are everything that love is about though.

Doug was handful from day one. He was every bit as spastic as Melvin was, but having Melvin didn’t automatically train me for Doug. Doug was energetic, Doug was not down with any helpful commands, but the worst part was, he mouthed my feet, 24/7.

Doug is now none of those things. Yes, he is energetic, and there are spastic moments, but that is also, just Doug. He and I have come a long way and there has been a lot of joint compromise.

There is now, mostly good. I mean, can’t we all claim that?  I’m mostly good too!

  • Doug greets the day with an exuberance that most will never be able to replicate. He springs from bed into a zoomie manuerver that takes him down the steps and out the door in about 3 seconds flat! He reminds me every morning that we are chasing joy.
  • Doug loves to eat. He loves food more than zoomies. But he has never once barked to be fed, and on days when we had to withhold food, he never showed me any punishment.
  • I taught him leave it. It is how I got him to stop destroying my feet. He knows leave it no matter what the situation is.  I have complete confidence in Doug and that command.
  • He never marked in the house. He had a few accidents at the start but who cares about that.
  • He is GREAT in the car. He loves car rides but just in general, he is calm and happy no matter how long the journey.
  • He does not beg.  He will stare at you with the intensity of a fiery hot sun. And he will drool.  But he will not try to take food or invade your eating space.
  • If i put him in the mudroom, or when he had to be crated after surgery, he never fought back on that. He goes in and waits to be let out.
  • He will stop anything and everything he is doing if I raise the volume on my voice and calmly say, absolutely not.
  • He sleeps 10+ hours a night. I’m not even joking about this.
  • He is not all that verbal. He’s more interested visually in what’s outside the window than he is to bark about it. He barks if he hears a noise that startles me and he barks like crazy at Bob #2.
  • He loves people.  Like he wiggles and wags and smiles and froths and very few people are nervous to meet him.  The ones who are mostly just worry his exuberance might result in them falling over.
  • He knows all the drills. When the doorbell rings, he has to go into the office. When I say bed, he goes upstairs and gets into his bed. When I say dinner, he breaks down all barriers to get to his bowl. He then sits and waits until it’s placed in front of him.
  • He knows go upstairs, go downstairs, get on your mat, go into your room (mudroom), go into office.
  • He knows sit, down, touch. He refuses to learn stay. Stay doesn’t translate to nuclear energy.
  • He never learned come but he did learn treat and now I use that to get him to where I need him to be.
  • He has moments when he has crossed over to hyper. When his face gets tight and his eyes get a little crazy. I say nap, and he goes to chill out for a little while.

He’s crazy. I am pretty sure he will always be a certain level of nuts.  That is who he is. But he’s also become a really, really, great dog.

I see so much of Melvin and Jake in him.  I know that what I see in him in those moments, is me. I am the common denominator.

I understand Doug and Doug understands me too.

Who you calling crazy?IMG_1496

Stockholm syndrome.

You will recall that Doug did great with other dogs. All dogs. Even if a dog didn’t like him, Doug was in love with that sucker.

Then he had surgery and was not around other dogs, but when he was (at the surgeon and rehab), he was oddly very lungey. We chalked it up to pain, not being full strength and maybe a little lockdown pent up’ness. He was also attacked twice just before lockdown last year and that may play a factor.

If only he could talk.

Since coming off of restriction, he has been around dogs at Thanksgiving. My sister has two little dogs and I had Doug on a lead cause I was not sure how he would do and I didn’t want him to think they were what smelled so good (it was the Turkey).  He did fine. This was at my parents house.

We have since started meeting dogs again. Mamma wants more dogs. Doug does not seem 100% on board with that idea.  The dogs are ok if they are met on a walk. Walking near each other and even sorta side by side, is OK. What he does not seem to deem ok any longer is a dog heading into our yard or house. The moment Doug realizes this is a home turf visit, he turns and become very vocal and lunges like a damn disco queen.

He also seems to do this intense stare thing that other dogs do not enjoy in the slightest. He does this to me sometimes and I start to feel like food. The thing is, I don’t think he knows he is doing it. His eyes are intense and he has them open like the rest of us but when we look towards something it’s ‘seeing’ and when Doug does the same it is ‘staring with the intensity of a thousand hot suns’.

We met a bulldog and the moment I met her I was already picking out her first five Sirius Republic collars.  The dogs were fine on a walk, They came inside and Doug apparently felt like she was a huge threat to the couch cause he went nuts on her and she was like F you, no you didn’t just lunge at me. 

So fun!

So…a wonderful follower of the blog, Jodi, reached out to a wonderful trainer in our area and we have our first appointment next week. She will (hopefully) help Doug get back to being Doug and then she will help us do meet and greets with other dogs.

Wooohhooooooo!

The foster mom of the lady Bulldog mentioned to me that Doug seemed ‘very fond of’ me. We may have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome and perhaps Doug has bonded too much with the person who held him captive for five months last year. I am trying to be less wonderful so that he feels like he can branch out and like his species again but it is really hard for me to be anything less than lovable.

We are a work in progress. Happy weekend!

Doug: I love my mom. 54342NNhol112204-R4-057-Edit

Doug: But not as much as Becky. IMG_7287

 

Joy.

I get asked a lot about choosing joy. How I choose it over grief, or anger, or uncertainty.  The answer to that is, it is not always easy, but it has become who I am.

I have human moments. I start crying in the car for no reason (ok, fine, when the boys send me songs) and I have to pull over for other’s safety. I get sad and even mad that Melvin and Jake are not here anymore. Work stresses me out. People annoy me. Sometimes, it seems like the day/week is against me.

Choosing joy is not always a done deal. Eventually though, Melvin pops into my mind and love and joy rush over me and well… I have no option but to do as he taught me.

  • Jake and Melvin are not here anymore. But they were here. And were here is way more incredible than never here. And I feel them and I see them in all the beautiful things.
    • My heartbeat, is joy.
  • Doug does things that frustrate me. He is absolutely not the yin to my yang. He sometimes manages to push all my buttons, at once. But the moment I feel the frustration creeping in, I start laughing. Because Doug is, quite literally, powered by joy. He was delivered to my life when I prayed to still be a joy seeker after Jake died. I said the words please help me to continue on this joy journey and the universe said: here you go. Joy powers this one, whenever you are running low on joy, just look at him.
    • Joy still lives here.
  • Sometimes the wrong memories get served up. A moment of frustration with Jake, me wondering if Melvin’s cancer could have been cured had we found out earlier. A day after Melvin died when I was broken and not the best mom for Jake. Life sometimes tries to come at me from all the wrong directions. I do not entertain any of those moments. I did my best, I refuse to be torn down, not after all we’ve been through. So when those moments try to sneak in, I say nope. I go towards the joy. I go towards the moments that mattered, the moments that we won.
    • Joy owns my past.
  • Work stresses me out. Some days I feel like I’m drowning. But there is never a moment that joy doesn’t remind me that this job, that I happen to LOVE, this job has allowed me to give the boys everything they have ever needed. When cancer struck, I didn’t have to worry about whether I could give them the best care possible.
    • Joy is always just around the corner.

Let’s be honest folks, joy does not win (right away) every time. That would be odd and impossible. Sometimes, the grief is way stronger than the joy. Sometimes, the transition from angry to joy filled takes a few days.  I choose joy when I can and I accept that some days it’s going to be harder than other days.

I just don’t see myself ever giving up on the chase. Joy for me, translates a lot of the time, to thankfulness.  I have yet to arrive at a day where I am not thankful for something.

This joy journey all started with Melvin. From day one, Melvin dragged me, forward. I kicked and screamed and he just kept dragging me. One day he stopped for a break, and I had a moment of reflection and I looked back and realized, he’d gotten me through. Where I might have been happier to linger in a sad or difficult situation, he had shown me how to persevere. He changed me. From that point on, every time I looked at him, I felt joy wash over me and I knew with all that I was, that he and I were meant to continue chasing that emotion. He was the original joy for me. The joy catalyst. The one creature in this life that absolutely, every time, no matter what – moved forward with joy in his heart.

I’m just another way that his love lives on. Even saying those words, is joy to me.

We are coming up on the third anniversary of his death. I get haunted by flashbacks of our life three  years ago. But our life is not defined by our end, in fact I’d argue, the end is separate. The end will always come, but the middle, the middle is all ours. What we make of the middle, is what defines who we are. We don’t get to choose our beginning or our end, but we can own the shit out of the time in-between.

Our middle, is joy.

IMG_0446IMG_4294IMG_3201img_0911