Dog Blog

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day 5
Daisy sent the noisy goshawk to wake me this morning. She was making such a racket outside my window, I had no choice but to get up even though I didn't want to, as would also have been the case with Daisy's noise every morning. This morning I tried to engage Bubba in his walk, playing his favorite game, "roll out the bagel," and I also tried to get him to come out in the front garden with me. He wasn't having any of it. Of course, it was already getting warm outside, but even when I placed the chaise mat beside me in the shade and leashed him to my chair, he still only wanted to go back inside. I just let him do his thing and didn't force him to do anything he didn't want to. All in his own good time. I sometimes wish dogs had cartoon thought bubbles over their heads so you could read what they are thinking. I sure do wish it with Bubba right now. Is he thinking about Daisy as much as I am? Does he miss her as badly? How did he really feel about her? I guess I'll never know for sure since I'm not bow-lingual.

Today was busy, so I was happily distracted from grieving about Daisy; well, mostly. A friend sent a beautiful sympathy card, and I started crying right in Java City where I was reading it. I also missed seeing her waiting for me in the garage, but I was surprised to hear barking coming from inside the house. It was Bubba! He hasn't uttered a "word" since she died, until today. Tonight Bubba came to life like I haven't seen since Daisy left us. He was barking that rich, deep baritone bark of his and wanting me to play with him. He went to town on his Dentabone and challenged me to play keepaway with it, which I was only too glad to do. He was acting like a pup again. It did my heart such good to see him that way and helped me not to miss Daisy so much this evening. She was Yang to his Yin, and things still seem unbalanced and incomplete without two dogs, but perhaps it won't be so bad having an only dog, after all.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Day 4
Bubba was sick last night. He stayed out in the back yard a long time eating grass and throwing up. He deposited big grassy donuts on the patio. His belly felt distended, which worried me because his symptoms were a lot like those of bloat, a common ailment in bassets and some other large dog breeds. We lost our first basset, Butter, to bloat at age 12 1/2. Bubba's 10 years old, and that's when bassets typically start to decline. I gave him numerous droppers full of simethicone to dispel the gas and soothe his stomach. Finally, it worked, but it seems to take more simethicone each time this happens, which is also how it went with Butter. He's been fine all day and there was no repeat of it tonight. I have to be very careful what I feed him in future. The least little variation in his supper menu causes trouble. I just can't lose another dog so soon after Daisy. I hope this is not going to be a repeat of 1995, when I lost three bassets in the span of 10 months to various ailments. That was dog hell. I think he may have also been upset about Daisy, which might have triggered the incident. I know exactly how he feels.

This morning was terrible. I miss Daisy most in the mornings, and I miss so many little things about her all through the day. A piece of beef fell out of my sandwich at lunch, which she would have been at my side in a flash begging me to hand over to her. She'd also have been begging for some of the crispy skin off the chicken I cooked for dinner. Mostly, I miss whenever I come home and she's not at the garden gate or in the garage or house barking a welcome.

My spirits improved as the day progressed, until this evening when I went with my parents to visit my brother's first wife in the hospital. Shalita has stage 3 ovarian cancer, and they just discovered two malignant tumors in her brain. They are removing the other one tomorrow. She looked very ill and weak. I'm worried for her. She's 47 and has two children, one only 10 years of age. He looked upset. That quickly put my problems into perspective. I wish they would hurry up and find a cure for this rotten disease, for people and dogs alike.

The goshawk that appeared in the tree near my window a few days before Daisy died has returned. A harbinger, perhaps? I was feeling sad about Daisy this morning and suddenly heard the loud kak-kak-kak of the raptor outside my window. I glanced to see her sitting on the fence peering through the window at me. I like to believe it was a sign sent from Daisy, not unlike the mourning doves and hummingbirds that visited me shortly after Dolly and Patti passed. Wouldn't you just know that Daisy would send a noisy, aggressive messenger to let me know she's okay?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day 3
I'm just muddling through each day somehow. Going through the motions of carrying on. I try to distract myself with work and today with some shopping therapy. I bought a new dress for Talbot's Book Club Thursday when Sacramento Magazine will be there taking photos of authors who've done appearances there. I had to get out and about for a little while. It's hard staying around here because Bubba is grieving for Daisy, too. He mopes around the house, which doesn't make me feel any better. But I'm trying to stay around as much as possible for his sake because I don't want him to be lonely. Today, there was actually a tear rolling down his cheek. I would have marked it off to runny eyes from allergies, except he doesn't have allergies, and I've never seen this happen with him before. It was a real tear! We're shedding many together since Daisy left. We all miss our crazy Daisy. Bubba didn't get shopping therapy today, but he had three walks, one at the park where we lately walked with Daisy, so I hope that helped fill up the long hours of his day. I can't say he looks much happier, but with a basset how can you tell? He did want to play the biscuit game after dinner, which he ate all of tonight, so that's an encouraging sign that he is adjusting to her absence. I wish I were.

I've received so many nice cards, calls, and e-mails from friends offering condolences on the loss of Daisy. Thanks to everyone who has written to me. I can't tell you how comforting it is to know that others understand and care about what I'm feeling right now and share my sadness. At times like this I can't help wondering why I keep setting myself up for the unbearable heartache that inevitably comes when you lose a beloved dog. I know a decade of unconditional love comes at a price, but my Texas friend, theologian and fellow basset lover, Don Burda, says it much better than I could:

"I believe that we all see a more pure form of the soul, spirit, essence—whatever you wish to call it—we all possess and share, one less tainted, seemingly, than our own. We find that in companion animals, and for us, basset hounds in particular. They reflect what’s good about us, not what’s bad, as we do to each other. Even my Uncle Joe, who was terrified of dogs his entire life, couldn’t resist “The Look” from Sadie. They show us how to be fully human, fully loving, and they do it effortlessly. For unlike us, they are unsullied by our 'superior' intellect and ego...And so we strive to be with them, be like them if we are lucky. To turn away from them is to turn away from ourselves."

Thanks, Don.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 2 wasn't much easier than Day 1 without my dear Daisy. Mornings and evenings are the toughest because that's when my daily routines with her occurred. Morning cuddles and walks in the park, evening feedings and Beggin' Strips and chicken chewies, sitting in the front garden watching dogwalkers go by and her barking at the fence as they did. I never thought I'd miss that loud, obnoxious bark of hers, but do I ever! As I was slicing ham and cheese for our dinner salad, I expected to see her at the kitchen entrance, barking and begging. She so loved her chee-chee. I tossed a piece of it, as I would have if she were there, knowing Bubba would find it later. There are so many little things that I miss about her. I could write a book. Perhaps someday I will.

We gave Bubba a lot of attention today; although he moped around most of the day, much like his mom. This evening he seemed to come to life, wanting to take his walk and play The Biscuit Game. I took him down to the river, and he saw a jack rabbit dart into the underbrush. He wanted to take off after it, but it was long gone. A nice breeze came up this evening and cooled everything down. It made our river walk pleasant. I only wish Daisy could have been enjoying it with us. I miss having two dogs. The pack seems a bit underpopulated now. I'm sure she's enjoying green pastures and gentle breezes across Rainbow Bridge. And she's probably whipping all the other dogs at the Bridge into shape, asserting her dominance as she always did here. She's no doubt the alpha dog in heaven, too. Tonight Mom said that when I get there, the angels will say, "Thank goodness she's finally here to control this dog." Goodnight, my dear Daisy, wherever you are.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Our dear Daisy went to Rainbow Bridge at midnight. She took a turn for the worst late last night. She was very sick, shaking, and vomiting, and then began to "bleed out," as the vet said she would. I didn't want for her to have to be on a cold hard floor in a vet's office when the time came. She always hated going to the vet's. Of course, there were no mobile vets available when we needed one (they're kind of like police--you can never find one when you need one), so she could pass in the comfort of her adoptive home she so loved. Do they really think dogs only get sick during the week? None of ours ever have. Most of the mobile vets I called were on vacation; the others just didn't answer. If she could have made it just one more day, there was one really nice lady vet (Daisy didn't like men) who could have come, but she wasn't available until June 26. The 24-hour clinic we took her to was so "clinical" and not a word of kindness or sympathy was uttered to us the whole time we were there by the vet or vet techs. The latter were terrible and one was even snotty to us. They seemed much more concerned with getting their paperwork and payment from us. Much needs to be reformed in this area of veterinary medicine, and sensitivity training for some staff sure wouldn't hurt. Why would anyone go into vet medicine if they don't love animals and fully understand how painful it is for their owners to lose them? I would like to see a euthanasia room with a soft, cuddly pad for the dog to lie on and so their people can kneel comfortably to be close to them at the end. I'd like to see low lighting, candles, soft music, a peaceful place for a peaceful passage to the Bridge. We should all demand it!

Daisy lasted seven months to the day since her cancer diagnosis last November. She didn't want to leave us, and we sure didn't want her to, but she let us know it was definitely time for her to go. My heart is aching beyond words, but I am glad that she's no longer in any pain and at peace. That's the only consolation for me. I had them give her a shot for pain before they administered the pink death potion, which always looks like Pepto Bismol; they should have given it to her before they put in the catheter, too. I hope they did because they had trouble finding a vein, apparently, from the bandages on both of her forelegs. They said it's sometimes hard to get a catheter in a basset. Nice information to impart to you when you're in the waiting room agonizing over your dying dog. I wanted to be there while they did that, but they refused. In the past, this clinic did allow you to be with your dog for anything, except surgery, of course. My poor little girl. When the vet administered the drug, she instantly relaxed and fell over asleep in my lap as I was stroking her and singing her "Daisy" songs to her ("I'll give you a Daisy a day, Dear" and "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do; I'm half crazy over the love of you") and telling her how very much I loved her. I'm sure she knew I would give her a soft place to fall.

God, I will miss that crazy little dog. I miss her so much already, and the house is so terribly empty and silent without her. I'm going to miss that annoying wet nose nudge to my elbow when I'm sitting at the computer as I am now. I'd give anything to see her sit up and beg for a treat one more time or hear that sharp, loud, demanding bark when I didn't deliver right away. Our other basset, Bubba, is with me, though, and he slept with me in bed last night, which gave me comfort. This morning we took him to the coffee shop with us and sat outside with him. He can be a cafe dog now because Daisy wasn't that kind of dog and went nuts whenever we left her alone. I can't tell if he misses Daisy, but we'll make his remaining days as an only dog as happy as we can for him. He's probably not going to miss her bullying and snarling at him that he endured for the past 9 years, but I'm sure he knows the pack is no longer complete. We all sense that. I'm glad I still have him to help ease the pain, which at this moment is immense. This is going to be a very long day.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

My teen idol, Paul McCartney, turned 64 today. I remember how old that seemed then. Doesn't seem so old now that Sir Paul is 64. I'm so glad that I went to see the Beatles twice when they came to San Francisco in the 60s. I just wish I'd defied my parents and gone to see them the third time at Candlestick Park, which turned out to be the last time they ever appeared on stage as a group. I still have my first Beatles fan magazine with the heart I traced around John Lennon's picture. He was the one I first fell in love with, but later I switched to Paul, who was of course the "cute" Beatle. John was the "sexy" one, as I recall.

As I was riding my bike through the park this evening, I spotted a beautiful tri-colored basset hound tied under a shade tree. His family was picnicking nearby. Of course, I had to stop and get acquainted with him, and he was only too happy to return the attention. He smelled my own dogs on me, I'm sure. His owner told me that "Stuffy" was a rescue dog from the SPCA. She said he was 15 pounds underweight when they first got him. Stuffy is looking a little puffy now. He had obviously earned his name and needs to lose some weight. Not a rib was visible under the layer of fat on his torso. Clearly, Stuffy is a counter surfing champ.

She asked me if all bassets drool, a trait that she didn't seem to like much, and I assured her that most do as Stuffy slobbered on my leg. I hope that fact won't cause the dog to eventually be surrendered, as is sometimes the case. If it's not the stubborn streak, it's the spit that people don't tolerate well with bassets. Nature of the beast. Seems like the SPCA should have warned her about this and that neat freaks need not apply for basset ownership. Some people pay a lot of money to get that fashionable spackled effect on their walls. A basset will sling drool for the same look free of charge.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Today was our 33rd wedding anniversary. Of those 33 years, 31 have been spent with an assortment of beloved dogs. As with human children, our six basset kids with four legs and very long ears have given us a lot of joy and pain over the years, but unlike two-legged offspring, we've never had to put any of them through college or into rehab (well, we've had an obedience school dropout or two). The best part is that they love us unconditionally, and that's something that's doggone hard to get, even in the best marriages. So, happy anniversary to us and to anyone else who is celebrating an anniversary today, especially those who are married, with dogs.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Daisy is still with us. She's far outlasted what the vet told us we could expect after her diagnosis of cancer last November. I didn't imagine she would ever make it all the way to June, and her quality of life has been amazingly good. Daisy May has survived beyond the month she is named after, and I'm so glad to still have my chocolate-eyed girl with me. As the song goes, she gives me a Daisy a day. She is also teaching me to appreciate each day we are given. Dogs don't look ahead; they don't look back. They live in the moment. If only we could all learn to do the same.

My first nonfiction book was released on June 1, which is entitled, "What's Your Dog's IQ?--How to Determine if your Dog is an Einstein and What to Do if He's a Scooby Doo." It was a tough, stressful project, and I'm glad it's finally out in print. It was worth all the effort, though, because I think it's turned out well. It's a fun read, and I hope people will enjoy it.

"Sirius About Murder" received a great review from Sharon Katz at Reviewing the Evidence ( She says, "Once again author Sue Owens Wright has crafted a top-notch cozy filled with lots of humor and love....Wright is a pro at writing about people and their relationships with their animal companions." I couldn't ask for a better review of my dog lover's mystery, and by someone named Katz. ;-)