Archive for puppies

Generally, a sad day

Posted in Personal with tags , , , on March 5, 2009 by Mike

Today we put my old Cattle Dog, Sara, to sleep. She was almost 15 and had been sick for a while.

Sara at 9 years old

Sara at 9 years old

I got Sara as a gift from a friend when I started looking for a house to buy. She was the first dog I ever had and quickly became my buddy. When I worked from home (which was most of the time for years), she slept on the office floor, between me and the door, in case I left the room.

Cattle Dogs are called Velcro dogs because they bond to one person and then follow that person everywhere. I was her person.

My son taught her to swim the summer we got her. Matthew spent a month making sure she could get in and out of the pool safely. He created a monster.

She usually started swimming by April every year. When she was younger, by mid-July, her red coat was green. She would let you spend hours throwing the ball in the pool so she could get it. Hours. She never tired of the game.

Sara was a party dog; she liked playing with children in the pool on long summer days. She would swim for 8 or 10 hours straight, only stopping when the children stopped. And then collapsing under my chair.

When she was 5, she blew one of her knees out. The options were put her down or repair the knee. We chose repairing the knee, knowing that she would be arthritic when she got old. Six months later, she blew the other one out. We had that one repaired, too. It only slowed her down a little.

When we got the orange cat, Marley, she adopted him as her best friend. She taught him how to be a good dog and was always mad when he got on the roof. Dogs don’t belong on the roof, she seemed to say, pacing and barking at him.

Being a good herding dog, she also herded children. Toddlers were great herding targets. I found her guarding a group of small children, all neatly herded up in a corner of my living room more than once. She looked very proud of herself but the children were crying.

She had a wicked dog sense of humor. I called her Laughing Dog for a reason – she would get the giggles and fall over.

In the last few years, her swimming almost completely stopped because it was too hard for her to step into the pool. Her entire back end was just not working that well. When we got the Aussie 18 months ago, she paced the side of the pool, huffing and barking, looking for the world like she was coaching as we taught him to swim.

She was diagnosed with a slow growing cancer about 4 years ago. The vet said her 5 year prognosis was not good but since her breed usually lives 12 years… We decided to do nothing and just watch. The place it would show up next was her stomach, he said. And it did.

All her life, Sara slept next to my side of the bed, in case I got up during the night. That spot will be empty now, unless the Aussie takes it.

Not the best day in my house. But I wouldn’t have missed having her for the world.


Posted in Personal with tags , on February 6, 2008 by Mike

We take our almost 9 month old Aussie puppy to a Dog Day Camp a few days a week. We’re really not crazy animal people – he’s a very active breed and the other dogs in our home are too old to play with him the way he needs to play. We also have a small yard so he doesn’t have any place to run, which this breed needs. Thus, Dog Camp! The perfect solution.

I dropped him off this morning. As we got out of the car, he wiggled. I watched him wiggle more when he got thru the gate to go play with the other dogs. Sometimes he’s so excited that his legs give out, one at a time, and he sort of lists to one side or another as he gets full control of his legs again. He doesn’t look back – he just heads out to play.

When I drove away to come to work, I thought that I’ve never been that happy. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been very happy. I’m a very happy person by nature. But I’ve never been so happy that all I could do was wiggle until my legs gave out.

I think this is what Joy looks like. Gus doesn’t worry about he’s only going to stay for 8 hours and then has to go home or that maybe his best friends won’t be there (yes, he has best friends), or that maybe they won’t make macaroni art today. He’s right now in the moment; right now, he’s at his favorite place and the whole day is ahead of him.

That’s Joy. About 60 wiggling pounds of it.

Marley the orange cat/dog

Posted in Personal with tags , , on January 31, 2008 by Mike

My husband and I like animals – or at least I do, which under the rules of marriage, means we do. We have 5 total:

  • Gus, the 8.5 month old Aussie puppy. He’s our sweetie and makes us laugh a lot. At about 55 lbs, he’s also the biggest guy in the house, but he doesn’t know it. He should top out at about 70 lbs, we think – 2x as big as the next larger dog, Sara. We got him last summer because we know that we’re going to lose one of the older dogs in the next year or so – they’re both well past the expected life span for their breeds.
  • Sara, the 13.5 year old red Australian Cattle dog. She blew her knees out when she was 5 and suffers badly from arthritis now that she’s old. She’s also losing her hearing but is still Queen of the house. She’s my first dog and clearly the best dog ever. When she was younger, she swam in the pool every day when it was warm – by herself if needed. She can’t step down into the pool now and stopped swimming last summer. Which broke my heart.
  • Lady, the 14 year old Border Collie mix. She’s almost totally deaf and blind and has never been happier. She’s always been a morose little dog and now no one can bother her. She’s also getting a little senile.
  • Xibalba, the 16.5 year old black cat. I got her when she was about 5 weeks old. She’s a little crazy but in a sweet way. She has almost no teeth now, but the vet says she should live to 20 or more. She’s finally adapted to the old dogs but the puppy has her worried. I’ve had her through my son growing up, 2 husbands, graduate school, just so much. Her name is the Mayan word for the Underworld, as my focus in Anthropology graduate school was the modern Maya.
  • Marley, the 9 year old orange cat. He’s been Sara’s best friend since he arrived at 12 weeks. They play games, chase each other around, curl up together to sleep. All the animals in the house think he’s a dog.

Marley hasn’t come home for 2 days and I’m worried. I’d hate to lose him – he’s Sara’s best friend. He’s also my bedtime buddy. He goes to bed with me at night and we spend 20 minutes in a petting frenzy before he lays down on my feet and goes to sleep. He’s a very good cat, even though he thinks he’s a dog.