Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The tapestry of life with dogs

It’s been 7 years and 4 months since Phoenix arrived in my life. Seven years and 4 months since I’ve had a little baby creature in the house.

By the time Aussie-puppy-with-no-name arrives, it will have been 7 years and 5 months. I am going to see the litter next week and am nearly beside myself with anticipation. The breeder has been excellent about sending pictures and video, which quite frankly is only making matters worse. While photos of human babies leave me fumbling for something polite to say, pictures of puppies send me into paroxysms of maternal bliss. The puppy-induced endorphin rush has nearly rendered me dysfunctional. (The Farmer made a smart comment about this but I deleted it. Editorial privilege.)

A lot has happened since February of 2007 when Phoenix marched into my life, looked around and took over. I’ve sat with a parent in hospice care, said good-bye to that parent, attended four national specialties, said good-bye to two wonderful dogs, found out my heart doesn't work right, avoided being downsized at work at least nine times, had my job “reorganized” 10 times, buried a parent-in-law, became a storm spotter for the National Weather Service, had surgery and added cats to a household that contained a dog who thought cats were demon spawn to be scourged from the earth.

Through all of that, there’s been the never-ending roller coaster of Phoenix’s obedience career. Not a day has passed when at least some portion of my waking hours have not been occupied by thoughts about training that crazy dog. One of his best gifts has been giving me something else to focus on when normal life was just too toxic to embrace. Granted, that wasn’t just Phoenix. Jess, Connor and Jamie did it, too. I have endured the stress of "there will be lay-offs" staff meetings, the uncertainty of doctor’s appointments and the emotional drain of funerals while thinking about ways to clean up a drop on recall or fix a stay problem.

Dogs have always been such an integral part of my life that I tend to remember events through the years by connecting them to what my dogs were doing at the time.

Wedding planning in the spring of 1991? I was showing Jess for his UD. My mom kept wanting to do wedding stuff and I kept telling her I couldn’t because “I have a show that weekend.”

The straight-line windstorm that decimated our farm in the summer of 1998? I was just starting to show Connor for his OTCh. I remember dragging my jumps out from under the twisted wreckage of an evergreen tree in the back yard and thinking, “Crap, cleaning up this mess is going to cut into my training time.” It did.

Painting the house in the autumn of 1999? (The Farmer and I painted it by ourselves. Every. Single. Fricking. Board.) I remember finishing “my” portion (everything below the fourth rung of the extension ladder) the weekend before driving to Ohio to pick up baby Jamie in September.

The ice storm of February 2007? It hit the night I got home from the airport with Phoenix. One week without heat, lights or running water and a crazy baby malinois sleeping in the bed with us. Good times.

Putting vinyl siding on the house in 2007? I remember Phoenix grabbing big sheets of loose Tyvek house-wrap and running around the yard with them. I’m probably lucky he didn’t pull it off the house.

I wonder what non-dog memories I will attach to this puppy? What will happen in its lifetime that will leave me remembering, “Oh yeah, that was the year we . . .”?


  1. I think that's a pretty cool way to remember events, with a furry friend (or 2) by your side.

  2. Can't wait for stories (and pictures and video) of the new puppy!

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