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Archive for the ‘dogs’ Category

Rest In Peace Precious Pogo


PogoAndMeIs it serendipity that I euthanize my dog 12 years, almost to the day, that we met each other on that fateful walk around my neighborhood? And the night before my birthday no less. Then he was my birthday present – my first, ever, dog. Now what is it? A lesson on the cycle of life? An exclamation of the impact this 25-pound perpetual puppy has made on my life? An exercise in extreme grief and mourning?

I’ve loved Pogo with an intensity I’ve not felt before and I’m an animal lover, a mom to a couple dozen cats by now, all of whom I’ve exchanged deep bonds and connections with.  I’ve buried my fair share of kitties and mourned each one, some more deeply than others. But Pogo … Pogo is different. He’s the love of my life. Part of my heart has been ripped from my body and thrown into the ether. My best little buddy is gone. My greatest fan. My fiercely devoted companion. My tireless cheerleader. I’ve never been loved like that before.MyBabyPogo

I’d heard that a little brown dog had shown up in our neighborhood 12 years ago. Our wooded peninsula seems to be a magnet to stray or discarded animals who’ve become neighbors’ family members over the years.  Though I walked the neighborhood everyday I hadn’t yet spotted him.  And then I did!  Or rather, he noticed me and decided I was his long-lost mom – I guess that’s what he meant by jumping up and down and smothering me with kisses. He was beside himself with joy, and so life together was never questioned. Pogo and I instantly became family. And for 12 years he’s never wanted to leave my side, always looking up at me with his big cheerful smile and love drenched eyes. Buds forever starting at his estimated age of 2.

PogoOnWalkBoy did he love the summer we spent in Boston. Every morning I walked and he romped through the Esplanade, bounding into The Charles River to take bites of water. Chasing the geese and making friends with pups and people, alike, because of course they had to say hi to him! He’s Pogo!

He was the little boss of everyone and everything. Anyone coming near me had to pass his inspection. Even in the vet’s office. On our RV trips he owned our camper and was the self-appointed boss of the cat. And, of course, the trail we walked, always trotting ahead of me to make sure that the coast was clear. At campgrounds he was on leash. But at home I never leashed him. Never needed to. He was very familiar with our environment, having lived by his wits for about a month before we met. Truth is, he never wanted to be too far from me and always looked over his shoulder to make sure I was near, even if he had sprinted after a deer.

Pogo

Pogo

I’ve often wondered where Pogo came from and how he made his way to our neck of the woods. Perhaps a hunter came looking for game of some kind and Pogo ended up lost. As a Feist Terrier he was a squirrel hunter, very fitting for a dog bred in Tennessee. But as my baby he wasn’t allowed to hunt squirrels, or anything else for that matter. I turned him into a mama’s boy and I’m proud of it!

Things I’ve learned from Pogo …

That loyalty runs hand in hand with unconditional love

Suffering is optional

Simple things in life matter

Tomorrow’s another day to be cheerful

It’s unnecessary to feel sorry for yourself

Deep bonds are not fragile

To live is to love

Forgiveness

Pogo3I always told him he wasn’t allowed to die, that we had to be together forever. Anticipating his eventual demise was not something I could bear to do and yet now I have to.  His precious heart was in failure, his only eye blinded by cataract, his legs severely weakened by arthritis and dementia made him fearful, irritable and confused.  I’ve wailed myself empty and somehow the grief fills to the top again. I’m drained, I’m hollow, I’m numb. And so deeply, deeply sad to my core.

Goodbye my special, adored, feisty little friend. You’ve taken a piece of my soul with you.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ”   Anatole France

More about Pogo …

And again …

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Pogo

His dreamy eyes (I call them goo goo eyes) look at me as though he’s known me forever.  His heart bursts open with uninhibited love every time I walk through the door, jumping for joy to see me.  For years I’ve wondered what made this little dog choose me to be his mom when he had his pick of contenders.  I ask him that question repeatedly and all he does is look deep into my eyes, smile and wag his tail.

In June Pogo and I will celebrate nine years as a family.  June 9, to be exact, the day before my birthday during a fateful evening walk around the neighborhood.  I’d been hearing stories of a little brown dog that showed up, sneaking around at night devouring food left outside by sympathetic neighbors.  But he’d let no-one touch him.  Until June 9.  When we laid eyes on each other for the first time.

Then he jumped all over me like he’d been searching a lifetime for ME!  I sat down in the street and the little guy smothered me with affection, rolling upside down in my lap, covering my face with sloppy kisses.  If he could speak he’d have screamed, OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!!!  I FOUND YOU!

Deep in my soul I think I know where Pogo came from.  Now for the back story…

More than 10 years ago my neighbors’ house burned down, the tragic result of a living room candle flame gone awry.  That fire stole much of what those people held dear — from photos to wedding presents to pets.  They lost a cat and a dog in the tragedy, rendering themselves numb and the rest of the neighborhood.

Miniature schnauzer in car, seatbelted

I was traumatized too, not only because such a horrible thing instantly wiped out a lifetime of collections for my friendly neighbors, but because their dog and I had a special bond.  Spike was my walking buddy.  He was a precious miniature Schnauzer with a giant personality and feisty spirit.  Everyday he waited for me to pass his house during my walks so he could accompany me home for hugs and treats.

Hans on St. Vrain Trail, Colorado.

He had this quirky little trot as we made our way to my house.  In the middle of a run he’d lift his back right leg and hop on the remaining three until we reached the corner.  He did this often enough to inspire me  to check into his health only to learn that the vet was as perplexed by the behavior as we were.  He never found anything wrong with that leg. It was just a “Spike thing” I suppose, a trait that endeared him to me even more.  In fact, Nanette often teased me that she’d know exactly where to look should Spike “forget” to come home sometime.  My heart was broken when my little friend was taken from our lives and I mourned his loss for months.

Fast forward a year or so to my historic walk around the neighborhood that lucky evening on June 9, when Pogo and I met.  From that day on we’ve walked the neighborhood together just about everyday.

And for the first few months as we’d pass Nanette’s and Spike’s now rebuilt home, Pogo would pick up his back right leg and hop to the corner.

And now you have the whole story.  No kidding

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childhood memory

Image by AlicePopkorn via Flickr

Recently I find myself revisiting memories of my childhood that laid the foundation for who I am today and the direction life is taking me.  Back then is when I discovered a love for animals and a palpable need to commune with them.  That bond occupies a large part of my life today and can trigger flashbacks to earlier days.

Take morning walks with my dog Pogo for example.  He dances for joy each time we leave the house as though this tour of my wooded neighborhood is the first in his life.  Actually, he knows every square inch of it because during his month as a stray he foraged for food among our trees until the day he decided that I’d be his mom.  Though I’ve always longed for a dog, he’s my first one and the love of my life.  Believe me, it’s mutual and he loves our daily excursions where we visit with neighbors and fellow canines.

As Pogo and I reach the crest of a hill, I catch my first glimpse of Marley who’s already thumping her tail in anticipation of our visit.  She’s a beautiful Lab mix that belongs to a neighbor but she’s adopted us as family members too.  She can barely wait for me to sit down before plopping herself on my lap for hugs and kisses. Together we enjoy the beautiful view of the Tennessee River and the Smokey Mountains beyond. And I’m transported back to that nine-year old child who used to visit the collie around the corner.  Together Bow and I would crawl into our fort in the bushes and snuggle.  She helped me through some tough times back then, laying her head on my lap and cooing soft sounds as I cried out my troubles and accepted her soothing licks on my face.  We loved each other and it broke my heart when she died.  While I silently reminisce Marley looks up and smiles.  I think she knows.

There’s also a real familiarity at the barn where I spend Tuesday mornings with rescue horses.  They’re very sensitive creatures and have always tugged at my heart.  Maybe the seed was planted when we kids went with my father to his business and visited Murphy, a gorgeous Palomino gelding.  He’d jump on that horse’s back and take off as though the two were born as one.  My father was happiest on a horse and we went riding many Sunday mornings along the Wissahickon River into Valley Green, outside of Philadelphia.  We’d walk and talk while my father oozed vitality and a freedom of spirit that was contagious.  I fell in love with horses too and now when I’m at the barn feeding, grooming, turning out and mucking – I think of those days and smile.  And they look at me with those soulful, knowing eyes as if to acknowledge an understanding of our bond.

Over the years so much has changed while so much of me has stayed the child I used to be.  I guess that’s what it means to realize your essence.

What events trigger memories for you – and what are those memories and how have they defined who you are today?

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