The Dog Days of Summer

waiting... waiting...

I am in the water

This is what we do when it’s hot out.  Muma takes us to the boat launch or to the Little Beach.  Today, we went to the Little Beach because it’s Friday and a lot of people come up from Massachusetts.  And not all of them know how to launch a boat correctly.  So it’s safer for us at the Little Beach.  Plus, we don’t have to share.  With anyone.

I bring it to Mum and she throws it. I love this game.

Rose used to not like the water.  She was afraid of it.  She was afraid of everything.  But she’s getting better and now she really likes to wade and romp and splash along the shoreline.

Mum says by the end of the summer, she’ll be out there swimming, where her feet can’t touch, just like I do.  Humph.  I seriously doubt that, but I’m not saying anything…

Rose likes hanging out near the edge… but sometimes, she gets brave:

what are these things and why are they out here?

Muma says it’s good exercise for us on hot days.  I don’t care about exercise.  I just like the water.  And getting the ball.  And I never fuss when it’s time to go because I know we’ll be back.

Life is good.

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Tilly… you are thought of every single day

This is my last post about Tilly.  I thought that doing this would be cathartic and that it would somehow heal me.  It hasn’t.  I will always hold myself responsible for her death.  Had I been better informed – there are SO MANY things I would have done differently.  Yeah.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and that doesn’t help my girl.  I should have done my research and been BETTER informed.  I am a teacher.  There is no excuse.  My heart is heavy.

So.  And I can’t/won’t do the details surrounding her death.  It will serve no purpose.

I made a photo book on Shutterfly about Tilly, and I look through it often.

And this is her true legacy:

10 Reasons Why I Loved Tilly:

1.  walking her on the leash – she was on a mission:  ‘I am walking.  I AM walking.’

2. her coat was silk; her tongue was satin- she gave lovely kisses

3. she bounced.  yep.  and hopped

4.  her tail!  she could wag it sideways, up & down, helicopter style… honest

5. she aimed to please

6. she was so *damn* happy

7. she swam vertically!  her chest was so big, it acted as a buoy! truly

8. she was deaf

9. she was learning ASL

10. she loved my jeep

I’ve always been blessed with great dogs.  I will never forget Tilly.

oh sweetie…

Coming Clean, part 2

We think Tilly was around 3 years old when we adopted her. I was able to trace her back to a shelter in Massachusetts, where she’d been picked up with 3 other pit bulls, wandering the street.  No one claimed her, and it was when she went in to be spayed that they discovered she was deaf.

She loved her Bean bed

She was sent up to a kennel in New Hampshire after they’d tried placing her in several homes down their way.  She was always returned to the shelter within a week. Why?  Which is what prompted me to contact them.  They were fabulous and forth-coming.  They’d kept records- Are you ready?  These are my top 3 reasons (there were others) that Tilly was returned to the shelter:

Reason number 3-  too active in the house, jumping, hopping, tugging on leash.  Noted.  Although she was getting better about ‘climbing’ the leash.

Reason number 2-  frightened an elder couple- they claimed she bit the woman when they cornered her. Cornered her?  Why?  What happened?  They wouldn’t say, and they also wouldn’t reveal the “bite” marks. Uh-huh.  

And the number 1 reason Tilly was returned to the shelter?  Deaf.  “Doesn’t come when called.”  Yep, Ladies and Gentleman, that was listed as a reason.  So they sent her up North, thinking perhaps she’d have a better chance at a forever home in a more rural setting. That’s us!

I did a lot of things wrong.  A LOT.  She was listed as an American Staffordshire Terrier so I looked that up on Wikapedia and was good to go.  I brought her home- just let her loose in the house, leash attached.  She jumped on the bed and scared the beJesus out of Moses.

But Finn seemed to like her just fine.

He shared his bed with her

And she shared hers as well:

Took her to our vet.  Learned that other than an ear infection, she was healthy.  And oh?  Those marks on her legs and ‘elbows’? Those were “kennel sores” from being crated. Constantly.  No wonder she was a nut ball when we picked her up- zooming all over the place.

She earned several nicknames:  Tilly the tick magnet, that one’s obvious Tilly the Tank, crashed through screen door to greet Daddy, taking door frame with her.  Daddy was not amused.  Tilly the Table Top Ornament, the girl liked bagels- she got herself one- right up on the kitchen table to scarf it down.

She loved hiking the logging roads with Finn and me.  She never strayed far and always kept either Finn or me in her line of vision.  Forty-five minutes seemed to be what she required in order to behave nicely in the house.  So yeah, very high level of activity.  She played well with Finn.  He enjoyed playing with her.

Tug o’ war was their favorite game

And I actually have a video as well.  She wouldn’t let go of the blue ring and Finn hauled her all around the kitchen while she hung on.  It was hysterical to watch.

So what happened?  What went wrong?  I still ask myself those questions…

Coming Clean (part 1)

Yeah, so there’s this:  Rose Marie isn’t the first pit bull I’ve owned.

This is my chair. I like it a lot.

My very first pit bull was Tilly.

home at last…

I found her on Pet Finder,  when her name was “Emily”- the same as my youngest. She was deaf, as was my grandmother- so I took it as a sign. I applied.  No response.  I didn’t pursue it; I had a wonderful dog already:  Finn.  I honestly can’t tell you what prompted me to begin searching for another dog…er,  Wait.  Yes. Yes, I can.  If we’re coming clean here let’s do it.  *Ahem*

Rewind.  When I brought Finn home, Piper was aghast.

This is my pink bird that my girl gave me. I will keep it safe.

Piper was our German Shepherd.  We adored her.  She was getting older, and we’d been told that an older dog can ‘teach’ a younger dog the ropes- the house rules.  Plus, we thought Finn would make Piper ‘younger’.  And honestly?  (yep, let’s be  honest) I’d been without a dog only once in my life…  and it wasn’t going to happen again.

Rewind even further:  Emily was preschooler and Sara was in the second grade when we got Abbey as a puppy.  Abbey grew up with my girls.  Yeah, she chewed the legs off of their Barbie dolls.  But they burned the hair off of them with 175 watt bulbs, so Abbey must have figured legless was ‘ok’.  She was the epitome of a family dog.  She *adored* her girls.  When she died, the girls were in high school. They mourned her passing, as did I, but I wasn’t about even attempting to replace her. How could I possibly? So for the very first time in my life, I/we didn’t have a dog.

It was awful.  No one there to greet you upon coming home.  No boxer boogers. No pretzel dog.  I had tried to convince myself that life would be easier for us all without the responsibility of a dog – we all had “stuff” to do.  But it didn’t take long for us to realize that we were ‘dog’ folk.  Our lives were sorely lacking…

We held a family meeting:  No boxer.  We could never replace Abbey.

Piper.  What a lovely baby.  Tulip ears much too big for her head.  What did Sara call them?  Radar?  Satellite?  She was so easy to train.  Loved her people. Connected to my husband- who didn’t quite know what to make of the adoration and work ethic.  Piper was the first dog we sought professional training for- and never looked back.   Worth EVERY cent.  She came when called.  Sat.  Heeled.  Stayed.  Knew “kennel up”.  She was an amazing dog.

Circling back to “coming clean”…. There were too many years between Piper and Finn.  But, I can counter that- Finn wound up being Piper’s wing man.  She’d lost most of her hearing, but when we hiked up on the logging roads, we never had to worry about leaving her behind.  If she disappeared, all we had to say was, “Finn! Where’s Piper?”  And the chocolate clown would be off-

Let’s go for a walk!

Piper would realize she was being herded back to us and needed to pay attention.  It must have been tough for a girl who had previously always been the herder.  But she took it all with grace.  We had our “Clown Boy” and our “Good Girl”.

It was horrible when it was time to say good-bye to her.  But we weren’t going to let her lose her dignity along with her hearing and the loss of her back legs.  She’d been far to good to us; we owed her that much.

It was about a year later I began looking again for a companion for the Sausage Clown.  My eldest daughter was volunteering at Angell Memorial Hospital and told me all kinds of heart-warming and heart-breaking stories about the animals there.  I knew adoption was the right thing to do.

I found her on Pet Finder- “Emily” a special needs American Staffordshire terrier, approximate age 3, house trained, crate trained, good with kids and other dogs.  I filed an application.  They called!  We were given the name of her foster family to contact so that we might set up an appointment.  I called several times and left several messages.  No response.

Weird.  She must have been adopted.  So life went on.  I was busy.  Finn and I were very happy hiking, playing ball, and riding to the bank together on Saturday mornings.  He was much doted upon, ‘only child’.  Life was good…

Check back soon for part 2 of “Coming Clean”.