The Puppy Isn’t a Puppy Anymore

100_1404We had a little Chihuahua and some cats and I had no intention – None – of taking on another dog. Ever. Taking on the responsibility of a dog is huge. I know this. So I had no intention of ever doing it again. I had been looking forward to the peace and quiet of a house without teenagers, a house to nest in and write to my heart’s content. I was determined to get all those novels I had in my head on paper, maybe finish some illustration and picture book projects.

Around that time I got an email from my daughter. She was a student at Texas Tech in Lubbock. The subject line read “Look at my new puppy!” The pictures showed an adorable black, tan, and white hound with humongous feet. I emailed back and said, “No, you can’t keep a puppy. It’s going to be huge! There’s no room in your apartment. Take it back. Get rid of it!”

At around that moment, my husband called her just to say hello. I overheard him say, “Why are you sounding so sad?” Then I heard, “I never said you couldn’t have a puppy.”

Christmas 2007 088When the hound was 4 months and 45 pounds her roommates rebelled. She brought him home over Easter break and said, “Could you keep him for me?” I said, “Is he house trained?” She said, “Not very well. But he has a crate.” (Because everyone knows that a dog crate makes everything better?) I said, “Thanks.” Though that word was said sarcastically. Mom had a dog, and not just any dog, but a growing, floppy-eared, clumsy, drooling, smelly dog.

Writing, you say? Writing? When I would sit down at the computer and had the right words, before I could get them down, the mutt had to go out. And that means desperately for a puppy because a puppy that size holds a lot of pee. Or I was in the middle of a break-through paragraph and before I could get it into words, the hound would leap off the ground with a tremendous barking that wouldn’t stop until I put him out. My nerves were a little jittery at that point. Oh, yeah, writing wasn’t going so smoothly either.

Then there was the time I came home to find the mutt surrounded by the couch cushions. He’d chewed a hole completely through one of the seat cushions. Not even turning it could hide that one. It was a “Marley” moment.DCP_2937_0146

In between lots of life-changing things: my parent’s illnesses and deaths, the daughter coming to live with us, the joyous birth of our grand girl, three house renovations and three moves, and lots of shuffling of other family members, the writing and the dog are still here. He isn’t a puppy anymore. He is a big dog at nearly 80 pounds. He sheds constantly and copiously, so when I sweep the wood floors of our vintage house I feel like I’m gathering up small puppies with my broom.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll survive his goofiness. One day as I was walking him he saw a…you guessed it…a squirrel. On. The. Ground. Yes. And I didn’t see it so wasn’t prepared. I landed on my stomach about four feet from where I had been standing. When I landed I let go of the leash so he didn’t sled me to the light pole where he ended up barking his silly head off. And this evening when I went to give him his “treat” and it was dark in the kitchen and I lowered my hand at the same time that he snapped. I do still have my thumb. It’s just a little numb.

And the times my husband has barefoot-slipped in his drool (because he feeds him the end piece of his peanut butter sandwich every evening, this one shouldn’t even be in the mix.)

But wherever we’ve lived whether near downtown or even out in the wilds of Sugar Land, if our gorgeous mutt sees a stranger, he becomes Mr. Seriously scary-bark-growl-snapping-dog. And therefore his value surpasses all the gutted couches and buckets of doggie-throw-up there have been. Do I have an amen to that? Amen.

100_1063                  He’s a keeper.

Not a Complaint, An Affirmation

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few years ago I was at a writing conference. One of the speakers, an esteemed and prominent agent on the West Coast asked this question: What do you have standing between you and a full commitment to writing?


He asked everyone in the audience to stand. Then he asked all who had ten things standing between them and a full-time daily or hourly commitment to writing, and would those please take their seat. A majority sat. He asked those who had five things standing between them and a full daily, hourly, moment-to-moment commitment to writing to take their seat. The majority of the people left standing sat. He asked who, of the few left, had two things that were more important than a writing career to sit. Many more people sat. And then he asked who had one thing that was more important than their writing career to sit. In the end, only one person was left standing out of two hundred. He pointed to that person and said, “That person will be a successful writer.”


Talk about guilt trip.


But let me talk just say something: Life is what it is. When both my children were in college my husband and I had time on our hands. No more sports events to attend, no more Saturdays coordinating the things that needed coordinating for the children to have a great life. We were free. We went for day trips around Texas. We spent our weekend mornings doing – you guessed it – nothing! After the initial shock of leaving the children in Lubbock (Texas Tech), which is nine hours drive away (Yes, still in Texas), we felt liberated. And I had time to write. I wrote. Lots.


It was fun.


Then, a year after my son graduated and came home from college with a good job, he was ensconced in his nice apartment. Things didn’t stay that way. Life is always about change, isn’t it? He decided it would be good to move back home to save money to buy his own home. He came home with his little Chiweiner dog.

Then my daughter sent me an email with pictures of her new puppy. WHAT? Not good. I told her she had to get rid of the puppy. After all, she couldn’t have a puppy while attending school and living in an apartment with other girls. She was sad.


A few days later her dad asked her (on the phone) why she was so sad. She said that I (the mom) had told her to get rid of her puppy. Her dad said, “I didn’t say you had to get rid of it. You can keep it.”


THAT didn’t go over so well with me and here’s why: The puppy that was supposed to be only 45 pounds according to the pound was already 45 pounds at six months. It’s all about the big feet – puppies with big feet grow to be big dogs. And guess what? By Easter, when the puppy was six months old, the roommates had decided they no longer wanted to live with the dog. So the dog came home to live with us. Now here is a run down of the animals we had in the house – a monster puppy, a chiweiner, an ancient chihuahua, and three cats.


Those of you who have puppies know how hard it is to write with a puppy who barks at nothing, needs to pee at weird times, and has a sensitive stomach, ie, throws up stuff for no reason. So in the middle of struggling over the search for just the right word for just the right sentence the dog throws up his breakfast under my computer. Yuck?


This was not such a disaster because I still had time to redirect my thoughts and get back into the “zone” for getting my writing right after I had dealt with the doggie. Besides, the dog adored me so he couldn’t be all bad, right? I soon decided that I had a good dog on my hands although no one else in our circle of friends thought so. They thought I had “lost it” in my desire to keep this mongrel. He was uncontrollable, was sick on the carpet daily, and he had a pee-holding problem. With a big dog these things are big.


About this time my daughter came home to go to college in our city. She moved back in with us also.


Then my father got sick. I spent considerable time at his bedside but it wasn’t much time in the long run. By the time he was diagnosed he was in the end stages of pancreatic cancer. I had twenty-one days between diagnosis and his death to deal with his confusion and with my mother who couldn’t take care of herself. We moved her in with us. Then we had to deal with their house, which they had taken out a loan for and then had nothing to pay back the loan. So it was going to the bank. But we had to clean it out before that. The house was packed with stuff. Lots of stuff. It took several of us, and several months with friends and family, to get it in order and get it emptied.


My mother lived with me for eight months until she was strong enough to live on her own in a senior apartment, which she loved. Now she is in a nursing home because she requires twenty-four-hour care. My parents-in-law we moved down from Arkansas because they were falling and getting sick and needed care. We moved them into an independent living situation very nearby. We spend time with them, helping them out.


My daughter lived with us and went to college nearby. About two weeks after she graduated she told us she was expecting. She got a good job out of college and has an even better job now. I take care of our precious grand girl.


The difference between our aged parents and our little grand girl isn’t very different. The sameness is scary. It brings it home as to what we might expect when we are in our dotage.


Listen folks. Some things are more important than that agent’s idea of what a REAL writer should be doing.


If nothing of mine is traditionally published I still WIN! I have a great family. I love my family and my family loves me. I don’t expect the world cares a burnt peanut about that but that isn’t important. What is important is that my family is healthy and happy.


And I have a great dog.






Ode to Doggie Joy and Other Random Christmas 2012 Thoughts

English: Noah sent out this dove Русский: Ной ...

English: Noah sent out this dove Русский: Ной выпускает голубя (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The End of the World day came and went. Some of us are still here. When speaking of end times the Bible says that ‘No man knows the day’ however, it mentions there will be some warning. The end days will be “like the days of Noah” with a mention of giving and being given in marriage. Until lately, I’ve often wondered what THAT meant. The days of Noah were marked by immorality so rampant it disgusted God. Someone asked ‘where was God’ during the recent school shooting. I like Former Governor Mike Huckabee’s commentary about that – If you make a point to escort God out of the classroom why do you ask where He is? I think the shootings were despicable. I mourn with those who lost loved ones. There is no excuse. I do wonder if that young man, the one who shot all those beautiful children, had ever learned the ten commandments? Parents blame schools for not teaching morals. Teachers blame parents for not teaching morals. Come on!

On a lighter note: This Christmas our fifteen month old grand girl is able to point and spout one word exclamations. Words such as “No!” That is what she says to the Big Boy when he tries to take the kolache out of her hand. She is a constant source of joy and serious giggles.

And the dog makes us laugh, too. He loves to share with the baby. He shares his chewed up toys, her chewed up toys, etc. Big Boy is full of joy – when I come home or even re-enter the room, or when I give him a treat, or after his bath, or at breakfast, or snacktime — just about all the time. I love that. He isn’t in my face about it. He is a big dog. And like most big dogs, he is laid back. Well, with the exception of thunderstorms, or the UPS truck driving by, or come to that – any truck driving by. At these times he is a powerhouse of BARK. Even then he believes that he is chasing the trucks or the thunder away, which is protecting his people from the terror of trucks and thunder, which translates into “I’m being a good dog!” So he is joyful.

Merry Christmas to all of you. And may the year 2013 be a joyful one for you.


Sampson is Found!

My son went hunting this past weekend with some college friends and his best bud, a pooch named Sampson. He had adopted him during his first year of college over seven years ago, my first grand-dog.

The boys arrived at their friends ranch land and unloaded their gear to the air-conditioned cabin. Samson was out of sight but my son didn’t worry. Sampson liked to explore. But after unpacking he went to look for him. His friends had already started practice shooting. Sampson didn’t come when called. His friends joined him in the search. They spent the day searching. Sampson had disappeared.

He was something like a cross between a long-haired dachshund and a Chinese crested, long and low to the ground with not much hair except on the top of his head and on his chin. He ran with his jaw held crooked and his tongue hanging out and he could not hold his licker when anyone visited. He was just about the cutest ugly dog in the world.

It seemed that Saturday was one of those days when the bad news just kept coming. First the call about my husband’s aunt death. Then the emergency techs at the other end of my mother’s “life-alert” system called. My mother had fallen and couldn’t get up, could I go to her? Yes, we got to her and let the firemen into her apartment. She was alert but unable to move from a kneeling position, that’s as far as she could get from flat on her back. She fell when she thought she was grabbing the door jamb but missed and kept going. She was fine and we helped her get supper and settle for the night. Then when I texted my son about the happenings he texted me that Sampson was lost.

Texas is experiencing the worst drought in recorded history. I don’t hold out much hope that Sampson survived for long in the heat. Of all the day’s bad news and events, I think the little puppy getting lost forever in the Texas heat hit me the hardest. I guess the not knowing what happened is the worst part.

When my son was tiny and he lost his cherished teddy bear I told him Teddy went to Australia for a long vacation. It helped. It hurts that I can’t make up even the simplest solution to where Sampson is.

Today, being two days after Samspon was lost, is a red-letter day! Sampson has been found in Ledbetter, TX!

My Biggest Boy

A few years ago I would have fallen into the “cat person” category. My children would often remind me that if it hadn’t been for the fact that “Daddy” was allergic to them I would probably have ended up on the animal planet’s “Hoarders” series. The crazy cat lady, uh… yes, that would be me. As it is, with allergic husband and all – we have three.

Growing up with three brothers my family always had variety of species dwelling on the property: in garbage cans (hognose snakes – and boy, was mother shocked when she went to throw the trash in), in cans (toads for the hognose snakes to eat), in jars (lightning bugs don’t live long in jars – in case you wondered), in hutches (about 48 hamsters at a time), in the dog house (between 7 and 13 cats at a time – they took over the dog’s house), in the pond (goldfish until the catfish ate them, but that’s another post), in homemade cages (for the praying mantis or surviving caught mice), in aquariums (about 10 of them for the budding tropical fishery), and on the side porch(dogs – usually three at a time).

Don’t think I wasn’t in the middle of all of it. I handle snakes. Have a snake question? Ask me. Insects? Expert. I adore frogs – the cool green ones. Not so fond of toads. In my mind the jury is still out on whether those bumps give you warts. AND when you pick up a toad it PEES on you! And its pee probably gives you warts also.

I suppose you can tell I had a problem with warts as a kid.

I was always involved with the animals. We grew up out in the country. Apart from my brothers, I wasn’t allowed friends at my house so the animals were my companions. I would even sneak out at night to sleep in the dog house with the cats. Warm kittens curled up and purring on your chest – there’s nothing like it. Is that weird? Probably.

But dogs? Couldn’t stand them. My brothers loved them. My brothers smelled like the dogs, i.e. don’t like either of them. (Okay – for the record, I love my brothers now, but this was then and now is now.)

I grew up and discovered I liked boys. I even married one. Although he is allergic to cats and initially I gave up a cat to marry my husband. He has been suffering ever since because we have cats. Heh. Heh. Though it is my theory that if you live with an animal long enough you become immune to that animal. There is scientific evidence to back this up. Apparently the cat’s saliva is particular to the cat and humans can build up a resistance. This proves my husband’s undying love as he has put up with and grown immune to our many fuzzy felines for all these thirty years.

Baby number one was a boy. I don’t know why it is that there’s this floating cultural idea that boys need a dog but I believed that my son needed a dog. We went to the shelter and the first puppy I saw was too adorable to turn down. Part German Shepherd and part Lhasa-Apse (I don’t know how either), Grover looked like Benji, but turned out to be the dog from hell. He tore off the siding of the house, the tile from the bathroom floor, ate through a storm door, and made life-changing messes on the carpet. I had him very well-trained. Only he was so smart he would watch to see when I wasn’t looking.

We gave him to a good home.

Years later one of our beloved cats went missing. I visited all the pounds. No Ajax. But, I phoned my husband, “Hey! I found a chihuahua that looks just like the cat.” “NO DOGS!” said my husband. I went home and pouted and whined. Poor puppy. Poor, poor little puppy – in that cold, cruel pound. “OKAY!” said my husband. “BUT IT WILL BE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!”

Fourteen years later we had to put that precious pound puppy down and it was horrible. Yes, Skittles was the husband’s lap puppy for all those years.

Our wonderful Big Boy is a delight. All 80 pounds of him. Yes, the shelter people said he wouldn’t get any larger than 45 pounds. They lied! I could tell from his baby photos that his hooves declared him to be a future monster. We live in a big city. And he has a monster-dog bark.

I’m so glad we have him.

Last night was a little on the coolish side. Big Boy was shoved up against me in the bed, a snoring heater of a dog. Warm dogs smell like a combination of warm buttered popcorn and canned peas, have you ever noticed?

It’s the best scent in the world.