Sweet family dog pile

I didn’t look at my timeline prior to beginning this post but I know it has been quite awhile since I have posted anything.  Somehow, even despite my prolonged absence, there continues to be new readers who pop up from time to time.  I am thankful to everyone out there who finds interest in what I have to say.  Writing gives me peace and although I don’t do it enough, when I do, I remember exactly why I enjoy putting finger to keyboard.

So where to begin.  I will start at the present and work backwards because that feels like it makes sense right now.  It is Monday, March 25th, at 5pm PST and I am sitting on my couch with The Shining on TV and two beautiful puppies at my feet.  They are snoozing before suppertime, with light snoring and their ears flipped inside out, after running around on the patio in the afternoon sun.  The windows and sliding glass doors are open, the sun is beginning to descend, and I can hear the water fall from our large, double-sided rock fountain just off the sun room.  That fountain is one of the most beautiful blessings in our home, one that we didn’t realize the benefit of until we moved in nearly seven years ago and saw the high volume of bird activity that our water feature attracts.  The weather was beautiful today – 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.  It feels so good to be coming out from the other side of our winter in SoCal, a winter in which we sustained a heavy amount of rain and overcast days.  For us Southern Californians, the lack of sun and the cold weather (a bone-chilling 50 degrees on some days) is somber and depressing.  So, needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed the past two days of sunshine on our warming planet.20190225_090620

I believe I have welcomed Koa in this forum but our newest arrival, Gunner, has yet to be seen.  Gunner joined our family about a month ago, after my coworker from a prior assignment called in need of help.  Heather and her husband, who are also Rottweiler lovers, got Gunner from a breeder just north of San Diego and they readily welcomed him into their family.  Heather’s family consisted of the two of them and their older dog, who they have had for twelve years.  When Gunner, the lively three-month old puppy entered the picture, the older dog was not as hospitable as they had hoped.  What started as minor nips turned into a couple of progressively more violent and frightening attacks on Gunner, as the older dog did not have patience with his puppy energy.  Heather knew she had to do something immediately so she called me, remembering that I had mentioned we planned on getting a male Rottie pup this summer, once Koa was settled, trained and a little older.  Although she didn’t want to give up her new little guy, she knew that she had to make a change, in order to keep Gunner safe.  It only took Hugo and I about thirty seconds to decide if we would take Gunner – he was adorable and in need of a home so it was an easy decision.

Heather drove to our house the following night, with their SUV arriving in our driveway and her husband popping out from the backseat.  Gunner was on his lap, wrapped in a paw print blanket and ready to start the next chapter of his life.  We let Koa and Gunner meet, on their leashes and from a distance at first, but that only lasted a few short seconds.  As they both tugged to get closer to their new sibling, their noses eventually touched, they gave each other a kiss and they immediately became best friends for life.  Since that night they have forged a bond rooted in love and adoration for the happiness they bring each other, Koa giving Gunner a safe place to live and Gunner providing our little girl with the companionship she so craved.

Now, I can’t say that having two puppies, who are mere weeks apart, at the same time is easy.  Because it’s not.  At all.  In fact, just about every other day I have a brief moment where I wonder how I ever got into this chaotic puppy situation in the first place.  And then I look into their sweet little eyes, who are already staring back at me with such extreme love its overwhelming, and I answer my own questions.  Somehow these two little beautiful souls have perfectly filled the void that Kaiser and Nala left when they passed.  That’s not to say that we replaced our dogs or forgot about them in any way.  But it really is magical to see and feel the happiness that they have brought to Hugo and I.  And interestingly enough, both Koa and Gunner truly embody all of the joyous aspects of our other dogs, without even trying.  Koa is channeling my late Nala’s love and calmness and I can feel her energy being carried on through this new young lady.  She is so young and full of life and when she stares back into my eyes, it’s as if she is telling me that Nala is safe and happy, wherever she is, and she would want me to be happy.  And then there’s Gunner, who is not more than fifteen inches off the ground and already 41 lbs.  In fact, I had to weigh him four times the other night, because I couldn’t believe the number that the scale was spitting out.  Regardless, our chubby baby brother has found a permanent place in our family and it couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly for everyone.

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In between puppy play time, three meals a day for growing bellies, and obedience/socialization class, I have been slowly but surely continuing to inch towards finishing my degree.  I can now happily and proudly report that I only have a little over four weeks left until my Bachelor’s degree is finished!  With a taxing job that begins shortly after 3am during the week, plus double puppy trouble and the remainder of adult life commitments, needless to say I have been busy.  But it will all pay off soon, when I have that piece of paper and upgraded resume to boot!

Finally, the other happy happening to report is the joyful ten years of marriage that Hugo and I recently celebrated.  I couldn’t imagine life without him because my life is defined by his friendship and love.  When I met him over fifteen years ago, I had no idea what life would have in store for us.  We have taught each other and grown together, transforming from kids with throwaway jobs and nothing to lose into adults with careers, a gorgeous home and two little pup kids.  My love for Hugo continues to grow, day by day, and it surprises me to see that the trajectory continues up, without an end in sight.  He has shown me what a true friend looks like and what a real man is, and because of this I find it difficult to find many people in the world who stand as tall or as strong, in terms of character and dignity, as he does.  Hugo, you are the love of my life ♥

 

I spoke too soon…

Just as fast as I posted my last thoughts today, Hugo agreed to getting a second puppy!!  We will now be getting the first pick male (boy pick of the litter, if you will) from the next batch of puppies slated to be whelped in late December with our breeder.  Our girl will now have a best friend for life, permanent wrestling opponent and partner in crime as it relates to chewing on our newly renovated kitchen cabinets.  I can’t wait to see what fun and joy the next chapter brings ♥

Still got it in him

Despite being nearly seventy years old in dog years and being mortally ill with throat cancer, Kaiser still has it in him.  And by “it”, I mean the will to fight.  He has always been a scrapper; never a fan of other dogs, he has fought with all breeds, ages and sizes since he reached adolescence.  In addition, he gets rather feisty with Nala from time to time, whether it is over food or random dominance battles.  That is exactly what happened moments ago in our kitchen…over an ice cube.  Every time that I scoop ice from our freezer, both dogs frantically run into the kitchen, in hopes of acquiring a fat-free frozen treat on these hot summer days.  Although I didn’t give them one today, which may have lent itself as to why they were upset, as they turned to leave the kitchen, it was on.  Either Nala looked at Kaiser sideways or Kaiser didn’t appreciate the side eye that Nala was handing out because as they both took a step forward, they simultaneously turned and began battling.  It is normally mostly bark and minimal bite but two large Rotties getting crazy is always enough to get me yelling as loud as possible and stomping my feet, in an effort to break their attention away from one another.  Since they are both aging and quite frankly not in the mood for craziness like they used to “back in the day”, the brawl was brief and short-lived.  No injuries reported and both parties retreated to separate corners of the house, as they normally do for a short period of sulking and licking their wounds, if you will.

Although I don’t want to see my dogs fight, or any cross feelings between anyone in my midst, it is still nice to see that his soul is alive and well.  He can’t fight his instincts which is both real and raw.  Dogs can’t lie or fake it so it warmed my heart to see him want to get wild with his kid sister.  It will be rather telling when he does slow down to the point that a quick ice cube brawl is too much for him to sustain.  I know that day will come eventually but let’s hope it is later than sooner.

Afterword:  About twenty minutes later, as I continued thinking about this post, I couldn’t help but consider the similar behaviors that humans engage in.  The main difference is that as humans, we have the self-awareness and knowledge of our condition, which is both a blessing and a curse in my opinion.  For instance, if we have knowledge of a terminal illness, some of us may shelter ourselves or limit our energy exertion, which goes completely against acting purely on instinct.  If we are aware that we are sick, we may not solely act on how we actually feel but we factor the knowledge of our sickness and all of the negative attributes in when we make decisions or assess ourselves.  

I have said it before and I will say it again – we have a lot to learn from the animals in our lives.  Now I am off to refill Kaiser’s food bowl, so his belly can be full and his heart can be happy.

This could be your last Thursday

As Kaiser sauntered into the bathroom, as he has been following me everywhere in recent weeks, I turned to look at his sunken face.  The bones of his skull are now exposed because of all the weight he has lost from cancer.  His hip bones are pronounced as they pop out just next to his tail and his spiky spine is rigid along the length of his back.  I have been feeding him several times a day with meaty meals, in an attempt to not only put weight on him but to also make his final days as happy as possible.

Kaiser has an incredible attitude considering his prognosis and that really is one of the most amazing attributes that animals have.  Since they don’t have the knowledge or awareness of their condition (or maybe they do), they are outwardly as happy as they feel.  Today he happens to feel pretty good so he is exuding joy from his eyes, as he chases me around the house.  He has gotten a few hyper jumps on the front door in over the past few days, as the UPS delivery man approaches and he goes into full-blown puppy dog mode again.  Hugo even suggested that we lean our mobile plastic gate against the door, in an effort to prevent our crazed old dog from pouncing on the door and possibly breaking the glass.  These are his last few days of excitement in his life so we decided to let him jump away, even if the door gets scratched.

When Kaiser followed me into the bathroom today I told him out loud, “This could be your last Thursday buddy.”  Not really sure why I said it but it just came out.  But it got me thinking; this could be all of our last Thursday.  Anything could happen to any one of us today and we could not make it to next week.  So, after my brief moment of inward reflection in my dimly bathroom this afternoon with my ailing dog, we both decided, together, to embrace every moment.  Live each day as if you are sick, but can’t feel it.  Chase your loved ones around the house, eat as much as you want, and don’t think so much.  In short, adopt Kaiser’s lifestyle.  Celebrate every day as a blessing because just like Kaiser, they could be our last.

The girl who never wagged

I have been holding onto this writing topic for a while now because I love it.  I love it because I happen to live with the girl who has never wagged.  She is almost nine years old, fully covered in black and tan hair, and one of my best friends.  Her name is Nala and I love her almost as much as I love her flaccid tail.

When Kaiser was a few months old, I begged and pleaded with Hugo to get another dog.  After hours of online sleuthing, I found a local Rottweiler breeder with pups that were ready.  I hopped in my trusty Jeep and drove two hours east to my pup pick-up destination.  Upon my arrival, I told the breeder that I was interested in the largest female that they had.  He fished through the pen of puppies and out came Nala.

In hindsight, the breeder was fairly irresponsible because he sold me Nala when she was only a month old.  I set her on the front passenger seat of my car, with my sweatshirt as a makeshift bed, and she curled into a ball, sleeping the entire trek back.  When I lifted her out of the Jeep to go inside, I noticed she peed a little while she slept.  A quick welcome bath, followed by lots of hugs, and we were finally home.

Nala, who was named after Simba’s female friend in the Lion King, has been an incredible addition to our family since the day she got here.  She is fiercely loyal and protective of me, always treating me as her true mother.  I really feel that this is due to the fact that I have been mothering her since she was a little bigger than my hand.  Nala is also silly and playful while being cranky and outspoken.  She grunts and growls almost hourly, expressing herself through her voice but never with her tail.  While most dogs wag theirs in happiness, Nala’s tail has never wagged.  She shakes her butt from side to side, as if she wants to wag, but the tail appears to just not work.  I always hypothesize about why it doesn’t wag and my best guess is that it was possibly broken when she was a puppy, before she joined our family.  It doesn’t matter though because Nala expresses herself with her voice and through her eyes.  I can read that dog’s emotion right from her sweet face.  As I type this right now, she is staring at me from underneath the buffet table she has claimed as her den over the past several years.

The love that we have for dogs can easily supersede the love that we have for a lot of humans.  Or maybe that is just me.  As a side note, I tried taking a sweet little picture of Nala to post here but she sassily refused to look at me.  I am thankful to be blessed with the girl who never wagged and we wouldn’t want her any other way.

 

 

 

Puppy love

Hugo and I are heartbroken.  We just found out yesterday that our male Rottweiler has advanced throat cancer.  That is a heavy sentence.  Our poor puppy – we love him so incredibly much and our house is in mourning already, just knowing that we are about to lose him.  The vet herself was somber and not very optimistic for his future.  Right now it is just about giving him the best life possible and prevent him from suffering in any way.  He is sad, we are sad.  Life really sucks sometimes.

It breaks my heart and physically pains me inside just knowing that his throat is almost completely blocked from the massive growth in there.  I feel helpless looking at someone who we have loved since he was a wiggly pup over nine years ago.  Most pet owners take on all animal relationships, knowing full well that normally humans outlive the animals in their lives.  Yet we all do it.  We know that after a silly puppy phase, to a growing adolescent phase, to a mild senior phase, we are potentially met with these awful times.  We do it for the love of animals and the friendship and companionship they give us.  And they give us so much more than that.

I have learned and grown in my own way from my relationship with my animals.  I have learned to be more patient and to love blindly, because they are masters of both qualities.  I have learned to enjoy the simple things in life, like food and how simply sitting next to someone you love can warm your heart.

I know this cycle continues every minute of every day, everywhere in the world.  Babies are born and everyone dies.  All species and for all different reasons, yet it doesn’t make it any easier when it is actually happening in front of you.  I do not believe in a higher power but I do believe in love and being kind.  Right now, my plan is to drown my old, sick dog in love and if there is anyone floating in the clouds listening to my desperate pleas, maybe they can spare him from suffering.