Hoarding Hound

Dwight, you’re a hoarder. It appears to be new learning, as you came here with no possessions. Only a harness, a short lead and a bag of food. A few days after your arrival, we gave you Little Dino. You adored him, taking him with you everywhere. It was sweet to watch you care for him. This Christmas, a treasure trove of toys descended upon you by well meaning family and friends. You pile them on your bed and fret over their care.

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Life was much simpler when there was only Little Dino. You could scoop him up in your mouth, run around the yard, bury him, dig him up, re-bury and dig up to the cadence of our days. Let dog in, let dog out. Now your toy collection seems overwhelming. You have even started stockpiling items on our walks. So far, you have found and fretted over an unidentifiable piece of black plastic, a hairband and a glove. These treasures have been stashed in various spots in the neighborhood. You check on them frequently, and many times relocate them. But today was over the top, D Man. You found a plastic Coke bottle. A big ticket item to bury, which you managed to do. Pretty impressive.

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You’ve got an issue Dwight. Too much stuff is weighing you down, getting in the way of life. I can relate. I have my own clutter issues. What to do with all this stuff that sneaks into drawers and closets. A golf ball found on a walk, a box of chalk, dry rotted rubber bands, safety pins and paper clips that reproduce and move on to live in an adjacent drawer. I bought a book, took a class, and started my de-cluttering adventure.

Then I had to stop to take care of life for awhile. And then, loss. And then, Christmas came. But its a new year now, so, no excuses. Let’s make 2019 the year to de-clutter and reclaim joy and freedom from stuff, Dwight. We can help each other. With every bag of impedimenta I take to Goodwill, I’ll squirrel away one of your toys for a needy dog. I’ll dissuade you from collecting more things on our walks and try my best to keep us mindful and grateful for what we have.

There are emotions attached to possessions. The trappings of things. That’s why its hard for us sensitive types to let go. Memories can be messy, but they don’t clutter. Fond ones warm the soul and inspire us forward. Sad ones overwhelm, encouraging us to hang onto more stuff in order to stay anchored to the past.

Let’s bury our sadness under the Birch tree in the backyard. If we need it, we’ll know where to find it. We will be respectful and remember its location. Don’t look back, Dwight. Were not going that way. Happy New Year.

 

Fall Walk

Rain drops and leaves float to the ground carpeting the path in a fall tweed.  Yellow, red, orange, ocher,  a welcome contrast against grey sky.  The evergreens remain loyal to their colors, while the hardwoods surrender theirs. Birch trees reveal mottled curls on variegated bark. Sycamores show smooth, white coats freckled with brown spots, while oaks display deep creviced mazes of bark and branches slick with moss.

You don’t seem to mind the rain today. The scents of the season cling to the moisture of the cool heavy air. Hunting season. Does it bring back memories Dwight? You were a hunting dog…right? I don’t mean to pigeon-hole you, but you look like one. Tail up. Nose to the ground. Focused, following the scent. Jowls puffing air in and out, as you pull me along today. We are tracking something. It’s your instinct, what you were bred for. Do you miss it? Do you long for the way life used to be?

You wander off the path, deeper into the woods, blending  seamlessly into the brown fall scene. Only your white chest, boots and snout reveal your location.
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I wish I could let you off leash. I’d love to watch you really track and hunt, Dwight.  But, I’m afraid you’d follow your nose and not return. I’ll let you lead me off the path.  We can explore together, living  in the moment.  Don’t look back…were not going that way my friend. Now…for just a little while.

 

Howloween Magic

Frost paints the edges of the yard. Nights are longer, daylight treasured. The sun sneaks up in the morning, silhouetting trees against a grey sky. Leaves paint the path as branches begin to bare their winter beauty. Fall battles summer, tossing acorns and walnuts at the naysayers. Magic.

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I love this time of year. I think you do too, Dwight. You start your morning nudge, ready to go out, at my first sip of coffee. You leap like a gazelle as we wander through the woods, eager to explore. Our walks are longer. Fall change is good. It’s time to cut the spent blooms of summer. Embrace nature’s autumn displays. Crisp morning air invites sweatshirts, but warm sunshine keeps them unzipped. Aromas of warm soups, apples and baking wrap around the kitchen table, inviting us to linger a little longer.

Fall is a gift with Halloween smack in the middle. This time of year rakes up fond childhood memories of picking out costumes at the Dime Store. Plastic masks with eye and nose holes that never matched up with my own, and an elastic strap that pulled at the back of my hair. Wendy Witch from Casper. Huckleberry Hound. Homemade Hobo costumes, with a bandana on a stick. Black grease under my eyes. A ghost with eye holes cut into a sheet, that ghoulishly wandered above and below my real eyes.

Pretending. Not hiding behind a mask, but embracing being something else for just one night. Walking in the dark with a group of friends, filling pillow case sacks with sweet treasures as we ran from house to house. Dumping our loot on the kitchen table at the end of the night, assessing our bounty. Pure decadence.

I’m too old to trick or treat, Dwight, but I still enjoy opening the door to squeals of “trick or treat”, coming from pretend super heroes, princesses, and ghouls. I thought I’d share my love of the season with you. I found a bandana and a small cowboy hat, thinking you would make an adorable Deputy Dog. Perfect costume for my best dog friend.

You graciously allowed the donning of the bandana,

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IMG_1573You kept in on  long enough for a photo op. I passed the costume on to your BFF, Frasier. I guess you don’t need to dress up to feel the magic D Man. Me neither. Happy Howloween buddy.IMG_1575

Hound Walk

Walking you today was a challenge. What was in that Jughead of yours? I say that with the utmost endearment, Dwight. You were quite obstinate today, randomly stopping, wide stance, feet firmly planted, looking right at me, as if saying, “done.” I felt like a tug boat pulling a barge. I had to lean forward with all my weight and pull the leash taught. The gentle harness tugging  at your chest didn’t faze you.

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The give and take on this stroll was measurable. Had a stampeding herd of buffalo just gone ahead of us and marked this as their territory? Did you sense an imminent earthquake or tornado? Perhaps you’ve been down this road a few too many times and you longed for a new path. Dwight, this walk in the woods is all shade. I was determined to avoid the heat of the sun. I can be just as stubborn as you.

I’d almost go flying when you released from the pull and stepped forward. You seemed to enjoy this game . Leash yo-yo. Bungee walking.  You surprise me every single day, Dwight. Sometimes you can be puppy playful. Very unhound like.  Dwight, the rascal, appears at the oddest times. You love to take  socks from the laundry basket, clean or dirty, and run through the house. If I don’t offer a chase, game over. The socks are abandoned. If I say “leave it”, the chase is on. You jerk your head, front paws slap the floor, and you’re off. You really do look cute with a pair of socks in your mouth. I can’t play the sock game, D Man.  I have enough trouble matching socks on laundry day.  At least now  I have a scape goat, or dog, for the missing ones.

I’ll make you a deal. I’ll give you a pair of socks if you “walk nice.” Sounds like a fair trade to me. Can I trust the paw shake and those brown eyes?

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Word by Word

 

 

 

 

My mom passed away May 21. She was an amazing woman who lived a beautiful life. A  well-loved lady, she was appreciated for her fine cooking and kind heart. She taught me compassion, sharing and resiliency. It’s difficult to move forward without her, but it’s time. Dwight, you have been my champion; keeping me mindful of routine, exercise, napping and sometimes just playing or letting out a melodic howl. Despite my best attempts; memories, longings and regrets find their way into my being. The past spills and I sop it up with my heart. I’m not sure how to stop it. Some days I don’t want to.  My words struggle to surface through the past and breathe life into the present.

Grief sits in my writing chair, blocking me from the table. He seems aware that the words in my head  will begin  the healing process, banishing him from the room. Grief is clever. He hides in the corner behind the plant, always in the shadows, growing larger as he feeds on past despairs. Sometimes, a short grief visit keeps me grateful for the here and now. Sometimes the melancholy drowns me.

You soften the sadness, Dwight. Your brown eyes soothe my soul. Your cold, wet nose pushes my arm, encouraging pen to paper, knowing this is what I need. So we start again. One breath, one word at a time. I wrote this poem at the beach a few weeks ago.

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The ocean is noisy today. Her waves crash and rip at the shore. I close my eyes as my thoughts drown in the surf. She spits out a winter coat, studded with barnacles, lying abandoned on the beach, its story buried by blowing sand. What’s my story? I need to start again. My words, like waves, tumble in my head, ever reaching and retreating. Rinsed and pulled under, some never surfacing again.

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Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

We still have lots of stories to share, Dwight. Thanks for listening.

 

 

Paw Pause

You have been a great support to me these last few weeks, Dwight. I have taken you away from your best friend, Frazier,  your fenced back yard and your walks in the woods. You seem to sense that we are here for something important. I walk you when I can. You enjoy the scents in this rural area. Our morning walks in fresh, heavy air spiked with skunk spray and farm odors must seem exotic to you.  I brought your bed, but this isn’t your house. It’s quiet. Empty.

Helping an aging relation is difficult. There are a lot of decisions. As I struggle to find my new normal, I am thankful to have  you as my constant. You push your soft muzzle up under my bent elbow when I am on the phone, or lay your head in my lap. Twirling your ears is a comfort for both of us. We may have to pause from our usual routine, but you help me remember that the important stuff happens right here, right now…for just a little while. Thank you for keeping me in the moment D Man, my Mindful hound.

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

 

 

Job Interview

Hounds are part of the Working Dog Group, Dwight. Maybe you keep running away because you need a job. Even though I grew up in a hunting culture, I don’t know of any openings for a “spoiled suburban, two bed, basket full of toys, pantry full of treats” hunting dog. As I used to hear my dad say, “That dog can’t hunt.” So, I have decided to see if you can volunteer with me in a post Rehabilitation day program in the city. It’s called Club Rec and  folks come to socialize, exercise, explore recreational pursuits, and take day trips. You and I are working hard with Katie from Lucky Dogs on our Canine Good Citizen skills. We are close to achieving this goal, which means you will be ready to go to work. I want to make sure this job is a good fit for you. We are going to meet and greet. While they are observing you to see if you are suitable for the position, I’ll be observing you to see if you want the position. I hope we can make this a twice a month event Dwight, but I promise, if you don’t like it, we won’t pursue it.

The morning of the interview starts with you not wanting breakfast or a walk. Are you nervous, Dwight?  Maybe its the chewable  flea and tick medicine you got yesterday. It does seem odd, that this drug goes into you blood, so when a flea bites you it dies. What does that do to your body?  I was trusting science to keep you safe, but the way you are acting this morning, makes me question my faith in veterinary medicine. So, with an empty belly and full protection from fleas and ticks, you transfer into the car with maximum assist from me (I lift front paws to the bumper, scoop under belly, lift and push rear) we head to the city. You sit and gaze, your back toward me. I watch you through my rear view mirror. You look like a big furry bobble head, as you sit, stoically looking out the back window ,ears and head moving as I maneuver through traffic. The city landscape is so different from suburbia. Lots of noise, buildings, graffiti, bikes, cars, stop lights. Do you notice?

We pull into the parking lot, where I find a shady spot on the back row. I open the rear hatch, grab your leash and you hop down. Your feet hit the pavement as a city bus pulls in front of the building. You startle when the air brakes hiss, but then cock your head and wag your tail as the bus announces its next stop. Your first friend in the city! I love your sense of adventure, Dwight. We walk around the parking lot while  we wait for Katie and Rob to arrive. They are meeting us to offer support and expertise on visiting dogs. There is no grass here, but the median is mulched and there is a small dirt bank in front of a large privacy fence that blocks the alley. This is where you pull me, looking for a way to get over, under, or around the barrier. You sniff, nose to the ground. The city smells stale and heavy. Restaurant odors mixed with exhaust from cars,  hints of oil and gas, blended with stray tobacco smoke. The pavement is gritty with crumbly bits of rock that sneak into my shoes. There’s a congestion of buildings,  cars and people that hold the noises in.  Horns, engines, screeching brakes, chatter, sirens. I wonder if your senses are as overloaded as mine.

You greet Katie and Rob with a wagging tail and a nudge to Rob’s hand. We walk towards the entrance. The automatic doors slide open. You don’t hesitate as you stroll in and meet  a client in a power wheelchair. You walk right up and let her love on you. Katie gives the patrons a plastic knife slathered in peanut butter to lure you and keep your attention. I’m not sure a bribe is necessary. You are thriving on the ear rubs, cooing and petting as you wander from room to room, person to person, meeting  folks using walkers, canes, wheelchairs and slings. Some have speech issues and make noises and pitches you aren’t familiar with. That doesn’t phase you. I ask if you want to sing and give you my rendition of a howl. You point your nose to the ceiling, and to everyone’s delight,  let out a long, deep song. You are a working dog, Dwight. The job is yours. We will be welcomed back. I think you’ve found your purpose. Good for you, D Man.

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