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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Pet's Love

We buried my little dog, Cuddles, a couple of nights ago. She had clamored for my attention and indicated that she needed to go outside to "do her business." So I put on my coat, opened the front door, and we both went outside.
I watched her sniff around for the best place to potty, and I enjoyed the crisp clear sky. There was very little wind, and Cuddles was enjoying romping around in the yard, even though it was dark.
Suddenly, a pickup truck pulling a flatbed trailer came around the corner and headed our way. Cuddles, for some reason, has always felt threatened by noisy trailers and UPS trucks, and immediately ran to the street to bark and growl at it. I yelled for her to come back, but she took her protector-status very seriously, and kept chasing the trailer.
In an instant, it was all over. She must have gotten too close to the tires of the pickup, because I heard her yelp and saw her roll under the pickup. She yelped again as the tires on the other side of the pickup rolled over her little body. One more yelp as the trailer bounced over her. By the time I could get to her, she jerked a couple of times and was gone.
I picked her lifeless little body up and hugged her to me. She was still warm, but there was no heartbeat. Her eyes stared lifelessly straight ahead. She made no sound.
The driver and passengers of the pickup pulled over to the side of the street and walked back to me. They apologized over and over and offered to take her to the vet. I told them thanks but she was already gone. I know they felt badly about it and it certainly was not done intentionally. They hadn't even seen her.
I carried Cuddles back into the house and laid her on the floor on a blanket. I tried calling my daughter, Becky, but she didn't answer. I sent my grandson a text message, telling him what had happened and asking him to come and help me bury Cuddles. I called hubby, Dennis, and cried like a baby while I told him what had happened. He felt so helpless, he said, being so far away when I needed him. I reassured him that I would be alright, but was naturally upset at the situation.
Dennis told my son, Jason, who called Becky's husband, Rusty, and told him what was happening. Soon Becky called me and said she was coming over.
While I waited for them to arrive, I did some straightening around the house, just to have something to do. I couldn't sit still for even a moment or I felt like my world would go spinning out of control. I wasn't making a lot of sense, even to myself. Shock must have been setting in.
Soon Becky, her two youngest daughters, and Regan, my oldest granddaughter, arrived. After hugs and a few tears, they asked what they could do to help. I didn't have much of an answer for them. I continued to clean, just to keep busy.
Becky offered to set up my new Christmas tree. She assembled it, and put the little girls to decorating it. It looks very nice, perched up on top of my folding table. But I could find no real joy in it that night.
Rusty and Colin arrived with flashlights and shovels, and we headed across the street to the back of the empty lot we own. The first hole the guys and Becky dug had too many tree roots, so we filled that one back in and abandoned it, and moved farther north. I held a flashlight on the hole so they could see what they were doing. It was getting much chillier, and we shivered as we stood there by the hole. Finally it was deep enough and Rusty laid poor little Cuddles in the bottom. I saw him caress her little head and almost lost it. I felt like I should say something about Cuddles, but the words just wouldn't come. I finally choked out, "she was a good little dog. I'lll miss her."
After the hole was filled with the dirt again, a little mound was left over her grave. Rusty said he and Colin would make a cross to put as a marker. Becky gave me a hug and said "Cuddles is in Doggy Heaven now." Doggy Heaven. That must be a very special place. So many loved ones laid to rest. So many broken hearts to heal.
When I called my mom, she cried when she found out that Cuddles was gone. She has a new puppy of her own. She told me she would give her dog, Peggy, a hug from me.
Since that night, I have cried myself to sleep every night. There is such a huge hole in my heart. My house is so still and quiet. The love and spontaneity are gone. It's like the house misses her too.
I have realized how much that little dog had come to be such a huge part of my daily routine. She slept snuggled up to me in bed, keeping my back warm, or my legs, depending on where she decided to settle down for the night. She kept my toes warm when I was sitting.
Every morning, as my alarm went off, she bounced up to come and lick my face good morning. She would nudge me with her cold little nose until I got up, and then bounce off the bed and lead the way to the bathroom.
She sat and watched as I showered, and when I had lathered up with soap, she was right there to lick it off my legs, helping me to bathe, she thought. When I stepped out of the shower, she was right there to play tug of war with the towel. She'd take off into the other room to find one of her toys and drop it at my feet, wanting to play fetch.
When I was dry, she'd lead the way to the bedroom where I would dress, then she'd lead the way to my desk, where I'd do my blood sugar tests and take my medicine. All the while, she'd be wanting to play fetch.
I had learned that the easiest way to leave her for the day, was to give her a few treats, then she'd let me go without howling and whining. When I'd return, she was always right there behind the door, waiting for me.
Dennis had learned not to say the word "well" around Cuddles. Cuddles had come to know that when he was getting ready to leave, he'd stop what he was doing and say "well--I suppose" and then get up from his recliner and leave. That always made Cuddles very anxious, thinking she was going to be left behind.
Another word we had to use in moderation was "outside". She knew that word quite well. If we said outside, she would run to me, her little ears perked up and a big grin on her face. She'd jump up on my lap, then turn and jump down, run to the front door and bark, then run back to me and repeat the process. She'd do this over and over until I got up from my chair and took her outside.
She loved to wave at people that came to visit. She'd stand on her hind legs and wave her front legs together up and down over and over and over. It always made people laugh. Sometimes she'd sit on my lap and do this at people. She really loved people.
When she was outside, I'd sit outside with her and do fill-in puzzles or read a book, while she'd explore the yard. If someone walked by, she'd have to run to the street to greet them. She'd stay just out of reach, doing her wave, or barking and running around in circles around them, her little tail wagging as fast as it could go.
She loved making friends with other dogs too. Sometimes that got her into a bit of trouble. We have neighbors that have bigger dogs--dogs that aren't that friendly. One day Cuddles ventured over toward their yard when their dogs were exercising in their yard. Suddenly one of them growled and started chasing Cuddles. Cuddles ran back to me as fast as she could run. She had very short legs, but a long stretched body, like a dachshund, only stockier. She could run like the wind, and loved to do it. Even with that dog chasing her, her tail was wagging. She loved it. But I noticed she didn't venture over that far again.
Cuddles didn't like to ride in cars. She'd whine and whimper and although she only got carsick twice, she'd tremble and shake like she was freezing. I didn't take her in the car very often, usually only to the vet and the groomer, but occasionally, I'd take her to my workplace, where her older sister lived as a therapy dog. I also took her out to my mom's farm a couple of times.
Cuddles loved to share my food with me. I was careful not to give her anything that would hurt her, and she'd only get the last bite of my sandwich. I didn't want to make her fat. She loved doggy treats. I'd give her one in the morning, and one when I got home from work.
She loved to snuggle with me in the recliner. If I'd go to sit in the recliner, she'd usually beat me into the chair and scootch herself down between my leg and the arm of the recliner, with her head facing the tv. Sometimes she'd watch tv, but usually she rested her head on my leg and watched me until she drifted off to sleep. I loved those special times with her.
We've talked about getting another dog, but I doubt I'll ever find one that can replace Cuddles. She will always hold a very special place in my heart. I may write a book about her soon. There are so many facets of our relationship that I have not even touched upon yet. I'm not sure if anyone would want to read it. But I'll feel better about writing it.
Goodbye Cuddles, I miss you. I love you. Sweet dreams.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Whine w.c. 847

Christmas Whine w.c. 847

It’s that time of year again. My calendar is full. Besides working four days a week at the nursing home, and occasionally picking up an extra shift for someone needing the day off, I have art club meetings, Community Pride meetings, Christmas gatherings, family shopping trips, doctor appointments, and enough housework to last a lifetime. My dog even has a doctor’s appointment next week, for Pete’s Sake! When is a person supposed to find time to write?

I can only blame myself. I have always had a problem saying “no.” I have gotten a little better at it, in recent years, mainly because of my health issues, but that doesn’t stop everyone from asking. When I’m really exhausted, I’m not as easily talked into doing things around town, but when I’m feeling good, I forget that I do have physical limitations and end up volunteering for all sorts of things. I know I’m not the only one that does this, either, because I’ve heard neighbors and family complaining of the same problem.

I do enjoy helping out at the community level. I believe it is important to help your town, and your neighbors in time of need. Small towns are in danger, and many are actually dying because of the economic situation. Volunteers are desperately needed to assist with celebrations, promotions, and community projects.

On Saturday, December 11, we are planning a Christmas project in our town. We plan to have Santa Claus make a visit, and have a photographer lined up to take pictures of all the kiddies sitting on Santa’s lap (one at a time, of course). There will be a shopping section, where the kids can shop for Christmas gifts for their parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Gifts donated by the community will be available ranging in price from 25 cents to $6 in price. Volunteers will assist the young ones in finding the perfect gift for their loved ones, wrapping their purchases, and handling the money. There will be drawings for prizes toward the end of the day. Volunteers are selling raffle tickets toward the drawings.

Volunteers will also be assisting with handing out goody bags with candy, popcorn and peanuts. Some will be helping set up for the event, and many will be available for the cleanup brigade. It will be a busy, but hopefully rewarding time for all.

Writing has become a large part of my life. I recently completed the F2K course for the second time in Writer’s Village University. It was so much fun that I signed up for the next session beginning in January. I haven’t written for the local newspaper much in recent times, but would like to get back into that, as well. I have eleven chapters written in my Young Adult novel, DOOR IN TIME, and hope to get a few more done before year’s end.

I recently purchased a t-shirt that reads, “Be careful or you might end up in my novel.” That fits the way my book has been written. I fashion some of my characters after people I know. Not completely, but enough that the personalities might be recognized by someone close to the model.

Experimenting with writing styles has been entertaining for me lately. Usually, I take a sentence out of the blue, and just start writing, letting the words flow out of my mind as if I am watching a movie. No outline, no pre-plotting of any kind. Often my short flash fiction stories are written in this way. I love doing that.

A novel, however, needs a little more direction and framework in order to keep on course. I still write by the seat of my pants to a certain extent. Nothing is pre-outlined, other than having a vague idea of what direction I want it to go for each chapter. I post each chapter in my study group at WVU, and the excellent critiques, or nits, as we call them, are printed out and saved in a file for when I have completed my story and am ready to do rewrites.

Poetry is another area where I usually just write on impulse. I prefer rhyming poetry to free verse, just a personal preference. If I have a problem with this free-style writing, it is in ending a piece. I could just go on writing forever, as is evidence by this blog. Be quiet, Benning, I know I’m bloviating, as O’Reilly would say.

Ok, so I’m through complaining. Now, I need to finish this, and get back to my novel. So, I need a snappy ending, right? That is the challenging part for me. I need a punch line. None seems to be jumping out at me. So, I will use a quote. That often works.

I can only hope that my situation will be better than Robert Benchley’s, when he said, “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”

I’ll keep writing. Maybe someday I’ll be famous, too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This video is quite graphic and should not be viewed by small children. But teenagers definitely should see it. They often believe themselves to be immune to accidents and death. If this video would save even one life, it would be worth it. This video shows actors, but the accidents must surely be real. Please don't drink and drive this holiday season. Think about those who would be left behind and the pain it would cause them to lose you. We have already lost too many young people in our community to traffic accidents. Buckle up and use a designated driver if you must drink.
Have a safe and happy holiday season.