It’s been an amazing Spring day. This morning I woke to the sound and the sight of frozen pellets of rain bouncing about in my garden! Hailstorms are not a common occurrence in California. It’s very exciting for us. It brings everyone to the windows to watch. And after it’s over, we must inspect what’s left.
Winnie is ever curious, but she returned to the warmth of her cozy bed shortly after her first encounter with ice. I imagine her paws were very cold.
A couple of hours later, the sun appeared and our little four-legged trouble maker resumed her exploration of the garden.
One of my favorite regular columns in any magazine is the Harper’s Index in Harper’s Magazine…of course. It’s a simple list of interesting factoids that makes for fun reading and sharing. Today I learned:
Percentage of U.S. pet-custody cases that involve dogs: 96%
That involve cats: 1
Apologies to the “cat people” in my life, but I was not in the least bit surprised to read this! After all, dogs have a “pack mentality” as do people. (More trivia: what is the name of a group of cats????? Got you, right?!) All three of my four-legged family members are draped across my legs as I write this. It’s a chilly morning and they are earning their keep!
My husband and I have been married for 33 years and for 25 of those years we’ve had at least one dog. We were excited the day we finally moved into a pet-friendly condominium. It didn’t take long for us to adopt our first dachshund, Carly. For eight years, our friends and family had speculated as to when we’d have a child. They had a good laugh when we purchased a small library of books in the genre of how to raise the perfect dog and consulted a baby naming book. There were whispers that we were “practicing” for our first child. The speculation grew when we took Carly to Sears for Christmas pictures.
Alas, the next member of our pack also had four legs. Bill, another long-haired miniature dachshund, joined us the year after our first. Jeff and Karyn of Wagsmore Dachshunds named the dog after the president “before the Lewinsky scandal” they told us. We thought our new puppy looked rather “presidential” so we chose not to change his name. It would be another two years before we had our only child, Natalie, and Bill would be the first to arrive in her room when she cried.
It’s impossible to imagine our home without a dog or two or three and perfectly outrageous to ponder me and my husband embroiled in a custody fight over them. But, there is no danger of this as we are happy together and have further bonded over the arrival of our latest baby “Winnie.”
P.S. A group of cats is called a “clowder.” I looked it up.
My new girl is a tail-wagging cuddler…perfect for me as my friend Karyn of Wagsmore Dachshunds promised. She’s also got a bit of the imp in her and a touch of the German stubborn to make her entertaining.
Dachshunds were bred 300 years ago in Germany to hunt badgers. Their name literally means “badger hound” (dachs means badger; hund means dog). Their short legs allow them to enter badger dens, and their fierce nature gives them the courage to take on the 15-pound mammals.
As a tribute to my dog’s origin I selected a German name.
“Here Winnie, Winnie…” rolls trippingly from the tongue. And, “Bad girl, Winifred Angela Wagsmore!” sounds very dramatic. “Angela” is in recognition of a strong leader who has spent her life refusing to be intimidated by egotistical leaders of the opposite sex. (When our country elects a president I can be proud of, I’ll consider naming my next dog after her.)
Winnie is my sixth dog, but it’s been eight long years since I’ve had a puppy. Three days into this journey, I’m struck by both what I remembered and what I forgot about the puppy days.
– Puppies teeth are sharp; I have a “love bite” on my neck.
– They leave noseprints on eye glasses, computers and phones. The world is a bit blurry.
– Puppies are exhausting. Life is a bit blurry.
– They are like toddlers; they put everything in their mouths!
– One should “puppy proof” the house BEFORE they arrive.
– Puppies need stuff! I love Amazon; they even offer Amazon Basic Puppy Pads at a very good price.
– When a puppy enters your home and heart, life becomes one big photo-op.
Things I remembered (not much):
– I’d spend a lot of time following a small creature around waiting for her to poo or pee.
– I’d be so excited when said creature pooed or peed in the appropriate place. After Winie’s first outdoor elimination, I ran inside to tell my husband. “Yes,” he said. “I know and I think the whole neighborhood knows, too.”
– The best lives are oftentimes a bit smelly, messy and exhausting. Friends and family have commented on both the dark circles under my eyes and my ebullient glow. Puppies are so wonderful 🙂
P.S. I started writing this days ago, but have been too tired to finish it until today. It’s day six with my new baby!
The great artist and philosopher, Charles M. Schulz, said it best: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” And, I’m ready for more happiness since losing my faithful companion Bart.
“Hmmmm,” you may say, ” don’t you have two other dogs?”
“Why, yes, I do,” I’d answer, “but I don’t have any puppies!”
I’d also add that there are three people in my family and I’ve had three dogs for the past fifteen years. Three’s the perfect number, you see. One, two three…I count as I put down the bowls filled with kibble. One, two three…I count as I brush out their coats. One, two three…I count as I round-up the pack at bedtime.
Bart passed away while my daughter was studying in London this summer. When Natalie arrived home, tired and jet-lagged, we spent several days hanging out and watching movies with her. My girl is a sweet one and she immediately noticed that there were more laps than dogs.
“Oh, mom, I’m sorry,” she exclaimed one night when she noticed that she and her dad had doxies in their laps, but mine was empty. “You must miss Bartie. I even miss him,” she said. “I miss him trying to get away from me to get to you!”
She was right; I did and I do miss my Bart. So, it was a welcome surprise when I received a note with baby pictures from my friend and the breeder of all of our dachshunds. She was, of course, sorry to hear about my loss and wanted to tell me that she happened to have a litter of pups and…one of them would be perfect for me!
“My little dog—a heartbeat at my feet.”― Edith Wharton
I’m going to miss the little heartbeat at my feet. It’s been three days since Bart died in my arms, but I’m still looking for him. He followed me everywhere, and there’s no substitute for that. (Heaven forbid my husband should start following me around!) We have three dogs, but Bart was mine. He needed me.
Oh my goodness, how Bart loved it when he’d hear me grab the keys to my shed from the kitchen drawer. He’d run straight to the back door and wait to descend the stairs down to the pink shed. He had a well-worn bed (he liked to chew on the corners of it) under my desk and he’d patiently wait until the writing part of my day was over. Then I’d put him in my lap while I read or enjoyed a cup of tea in my cozy chair. Bart is featured in two of my of my most popular posts: See The Nose?! and My Dog’s Favorite Books.
I’m so glad to have had the absolute adoration of my cuddly Bart for nine years!
Remember my little editor, Bart? You caught a glimpse of him in “See the Nose?! He spends a lot of time with me in the pink shed, because he’s a “mama’s boy” and, well, he’s an editor. This week he has two books to recommend: he hopes you will consume them with as much pleasure as he did.
His first recommendation is the $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals by Lauren Slater. It’s probably obvious why he was drawn to this book, and, of course, it’s the same reason I was drawn to it. Slater’s memoir is one long, beautiful meditation on the solace and joy that animals can bring to our lives. Slater, a psychologist, survived a difficult childhood with a mentally ill mother. As a child, her bike provided her with a means of escape from her troubled home and the country lane she travelled was her introduction to the natural world. It was there she fell in love with a variety of animals. We meet a horse, raccoon, swan, bat and Lila, her precious dog, who eventually loses her sight despite the $60,000 in veterinary care. Her dog is resilient, though, and adjusts to blindness so well that it seems to inspire Slater’s husband who is suffering a medical challenge of his own. Anyone who loves animals will love this book, but it is not just for animal lovers. Slater’s honest reflection on life’s joys and sorrows is inspiring.
Bart’s second choice is an old favorite of mine, as it reinforces my eat, drink and be merry philosophy! A surgeon and a psychologist teamed up to produce: Live a Little: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health. The book covers the full gamut of women’s health topics including: exercise, stress, nutrition and sleep, and contains quizzes to help you determine your current state of health. Love and Dormar debunk some common myths and explain why the studies we read about in the headlines are often highly flawed. The big takeaway is just as my grandmother preached: everything in moderation. Don’t worry!
I’m sure you’ll agree after reading these two titles that my little guy has excellent taste in books!