Dog Blog

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bubba and I must have bonded while we were at Tahoe together. He's always been Daddy's boy, but since we came home he seems to want to be in my company more than before and is more loving toward me. He comes into my office often for attention the way Daisy used to. He also likes for me to take him places in the car, which he never cared much about before. I think it's probably because he always deferred to Daisy, who was definitely the alpha dog of the Wright pack. He probably also sensed that she was my special girl. He was used to letting her be top dog, and of course she was always so bossy and downright ugly to him whenever I put them in the car together. She'd bark and snarl at him while I was trying to load him in the car, and it was hard to make her stop. She always was our crazy Daisy and would have made a real test case for The Dog Whisperer. Now Bubba has the spotlight for the first time, and truthfully I think he glories in his new alpha status and our showering him with a double portion of affection. I'm still missing Daisy terribly, especially each morning, but it's high time our Bubba had some undivided attention. He's just come into my office for some affection, and he's going to get it. Bubba and I are signing off.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Back from a much-needed vacation at Lake Tahoe, although I was doing some editing on book three in my mystery series. I was also checking out any changes to South Tahoe and gathering material for future books. The trip was very well timed since I missed the killer heat wave that claimed over 50 lives in central California, mostly the elderly and infirm, and countless farm animals. Blackouts made ovens out of people's homes and many just slow cooked to death. One person had a core temperature of 109 degrees. We are not even prepared to survive 10 days of triple digit temperatures. How would we survive a disaster of Katrina proportions...or worse? No such thing as global warming, huh, Mr. Bush? Have you stuck your head out the Oval Office window lately? I feel fortunate that I could escape to the mountains. For many there was no escape. A blessed delta breeze has finally cooled things off here, though, temperatures and tempers alike.

I'm glad that Bubba was up in the mountains with me because heat like that is hard on an old dog. Even Tahoe was not immune from the heat, though. The sun at 7,000 feet elevation is instense. Most homes and businesses are not air conditioned because it's usually not needed. Mornings and evenings were cool and pleasant, and that's when I walked Bubba. He discovered the chipmunks that abound in the forest, and our walks became all about stalking Chip and Dale. That's not unlike the cat scans he does at home when we walk around the neighborhood.

I took Daisy along with us on the trip and scattered some of her ashes at the crest of the hill behind the cabin, that special place I call our "sunny spot," where I have walked with all my bassets over the years. I did a ceremony for her and read aloud some lovely verse my mother-in-law sent titled, "The Truest Friend." And she was.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A friend who formerly lived here referred to Sacramento as "the hinges of hell." I think that was pretty accurate. It was still 105 degrees at 7:00 p.m this evening. It was 88 degress at 9:00. The sparrow hawks that are nesting in the tree next door (I mistakenly called them goshawks before I correctly identified them in a bird book) have been cooling themselves off in our pool. They sit in the spa spillway and do a funny little spa dance, bumping their fannies up and down, fanning their wings, and taking a sip of water now and then. The much bigger female, which is brown in color, really keeps the smaller, darker male in line. She pecked at him when he crowded her while drinking. I guess the heat is making the birds cranky, too. I see them swooping back and forth all day long from the back window. They put on quite a show for us, which we've been enjoying through the Leica birdwatching binoculars Keith found at the flea market last weekend. They are about $1,000 pair for which he paid only $40. A real find!

I look forward to escaping to Lake Tahoe for a few days. Even though it's in the 80s up there, which is unusually warm for Tahoe (no A/C at the cabin), it's still better than being here in this inferno. It's supposed to hit 107 tomorrow. Real dog days. Bubba and I will go to our old Tahoe haunts we used to go to when he and Daisy were young and full of life. There'll be some Daisy ghosts to haunt me there, too, but I can't wait to see the beautiful lake again and get some renewed inspiration for my mysteries. Speaking of mysteries, Mickey Spillane died today at age 88.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Finally, I am beginning to feel some closure about Daisy. We brought her home on Friday, in a manner of speaking. Her ashes are contained in a foot-long cedar box with the engraving I requested,"I'll give you a daisy a day, dear." DAISY 12/16/96 - 6/24/06. She is lying in state near her bed for now, but we'll make a place for her under some bricks in the front garden where she loved to sit on her chaise mat and bark at the world. That is where she'd want to be if she were still here, in the garden with her mom. She always will be now. Of course, to paraphrase another dog writer, she really will lay buried in my heart.

Along with her ashes, we received Daisy's pawprint pressed into clay. I have to bake it to harden and preserve it. How I loved holding those big paws in my hands and stroking the soft part underneath them. She loved that, too. I remember how she used to clutch my arm with her paws, a dog hug. Bubba doesn't do that. She loved me so.

I also went and picked up the DVD I had made of the video tape I took during her last couple of days with us. I am so grateful to have it now, and Bubba is preserved on there, too. I only wish I could have gotten the full hour on the tape before the battery went dead. At least I have half an hour of her barking and gazing up at me adoringly with those melting chocolate eyes. And her last walk at the park with Bubba and me, which I now realize was too much for her on that warm June day. But she always wanted to go, go, go in the car. How could I refuse?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I called SVSS to find out about Daisy's ashes and why we didn't have them yet. We were told it would be two weeks, and it's been three weeks. The kid who answered the phone (vet tech) said he'd check to see if they had them yet. They didn't, so he said he'd check with the pet cemetery. He called me back to say it took longer because they had to send the box out for the engraving I requested to be done. Do people have to wait three weeks to get the remains of their loved ones back? I sure hope not. To make someone wait that long to close a painful chapter of one's life and try to move on, be it the loss of a human or a cherished pet, is cruel and insensitive. I kind of lost it and gave the poor kid a basset-sized piece of my mind about our whole miserable experience at this emergency clinic with our Daisy. Not his fault, I know. I think a strongly worded letter to the head of the money-grubbing corporation (doG Bless America) that has bought out most of the clinics in Sacramento will do more good. The kid on the phone probably just wrote me off as a crazy dog lady. Guilty as charged.

The weather's heating up again. I'll need to get outside early tomorrow morning if I want to work on Daisy's painting. And I do want to.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I heard the all-too familiar comment again this morning, which I've heard with few exceptions from everyone who has asked about Daisy, most of them dog owners themselves. "Are you getting another dog?" This is said as if we already should be about the business of the equivalent to replacing a worn out sofa and not be mourning the loss of a living, breathing being that filled our lives with unconditional love and incredible joy and laughter (and yes, some annoyance) for a decade. Would you ever conceive of asking a bereaved parent if she was going to rush right out to the nearest orphanage to adopt another child to replace the one she's just lost? Such a question is no less absurd to one who loves a dog in the way I love my dogs.

When my first dog died, my parents took us kids right out to choose another dog, a poodle, which was a far cry from the rough and tumble mongrel Dusty had been. That was a terrible mistake as well as an injustice to us and to Kissy, the poor dog that never did receive the full measure of love from us that she was entitled to because we tried to fill the Dusty-sized hole in our hearts much too soon. Before moving on to the next chapter in your life, it's good to take some time to grieve your loss, no matter what the loss may be--a job; a divorce; the death of a parent, spouse or child, or even a dog! Loss is loss. Grief is grief. The heart doesn't know the difference.

That's how I want to respond to people who make that statement to me, but I understand that they mean well when they make the comment and instead just answer politely, "No, not yet."
It's cooled off quite a bit today, thank God. There's a nice breeze blowing, and it was a perfect morning to take Bubba to the coffee shop. Panera has a nice dog-friendly patio where we can sit outside with our best, and now only, basset buddy. It made my day and his, too. When you look at him, you can just tell what he's thinking: "I love being a cafe canine. It makes me feel ne sais quoi...continental." His dad is off work today, so he walked him around the neighboring streets while I sat and read for a while. Lovely.

Think I'll paint a bit today. It should be nice out on the patio. I bought some new pastels, a small set of Schmincke landscape colors. I don't have many Schmincke in my collection. Can't wait to try them out. Then later this afternoon I will do some editing on book 3. I'm glad to finally have some time to work on it now that Bow Wow!, the nonfiction book on keeping your dog happy, is finally finished. I plan to head for Tahoe soon to recharge my batteries for continuing work on the Beanie and Cruiser series and escape the valley heat. Seems like whenever I decide to head for the hills, though, it cools down here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's Second Saturday. That's the art walk night in Sacramento where people tour the galleries and appreciate art and good food & wine. It's always enjoyable. I'm, of course, always looking for dog art. I do see more of it than I used to and even enjoy creating some of my own on occasion. It's already too hot out to work on Daisy's pastel painting on the patio. Guess I'd better get Bubba's mid-day walk out of the way while it's still bearable out there. Summer in Sacramento. Ugh! I'm already looking forward to autumn's cooler weather. A little summer here goes a long way.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Another hot day in the valley. Bubba doesn't much care for the heat, like all the other bassets I've had. They come to life in cool weather. It's supposed to cool down again a bit, thank goodness. Perhaps some painting in the garden tomorrow. I went on a search for a photo album to put Daisy's photos in. All I could find was a memory album, which is not quite the same thing, but the great thing was that the cover was printed in yellow daisies, perfect for an album of a dog named Daisy. Tomorrow I'll start sorting out her photos to paste into the album. I bought extra pages because I know I'll need them. I've never been one to scrimp on taking photos of my dogs. Having a digital camera is much better. I also dropped off the video tape I took of the dogs in the few days before Daisy left. They'll put it on a DVD for me. I look forward to seeing it since it's the only record I have of them in motion. We always had the basset picnics for the other dogs, but we've not had any of those with these bassets. I wish I'd bought a video camera years ago.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I’m a day behind in my posts. Yesterday I went to my 9:00 a.m. art class. I’m taking the class from a master pastelist, Barbara Haselton. She teaches all kinds of art in the class and people can work on whatever they want, but she is a signature PSA artist, so I feel very fortunate to be taking her class, which is much more convenient to get to than all the way to Auburn where other teachers are located. I thought I would have trouble working on the pastel I began of Daisy in the months before she passed, but it turned out to be a catharsis, not only because of the beloved subject matter but because I enjoy pastel painting so much. I’m glad I went now. It was good for me to get out of the house for a while and do art. Bubba was alone a lot yesterday, though, so I'll have to make up for it today.

The goshawk comes every morning and sits on my fence making her loud call, kak-kak-kak. I caught a glimpse of her in the morning sun. Her eyes were like shining gold nuggets in the light. I wonder why she stays? What can there be to eat in my neighbor’s suburban back yard or mine? The poor wild creatures have so little space left to thrive in. Still, the river is close by, and it seems like there would be more vermine to hunt there. I thought about putting some chunks of meat out for her, but it's probably best not to feed her.

I got a great review on Sirius About Murder and Howling Bloody Murder (re-released) from Dogs, Dogs, Dogs! in Canada. It should be posted on my Web site shortly. See Glenn Perrett's review at Sorry, I have't figured out how to do links on Blogger yet.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We had a pretty nice 4th. Drove to the neighboring town of Davis to see the bike races. In years past we would have ridden the 15 miles on our bikes. We would have taken Bubba along with us today, but it was too hot, and I was afraid it might be too much for an old dog like him. Davis is always hotter than Sacramento, too, which is hard to understand since it's closer to San Francisco than we are. It was fun watching the little kids with their bikes all decked out in red, white and blue peddling like mad in the junior race. Cute! One little girl wiped out and was bawling her eyes out. I think she was more embarrassed and disappointed than hurt. We had my parents over for supper, then when it got dark enough we took Bubba for a walk around the neighborhood to watch the fireworks. There were some good displays this year at the block parties. He isn't bothered by the noise and enjoyed socializing with the people and other dogs. He really likes Cha Cha, the cute little Chihuahua around the corner. She likes him, too, and stands up and kisses his face. Sometimes he can be kind of snappish with little dogs, but he likes her and tolerates her attentions with good humor. Of course, what he was most interested in was stalking her friend, Chico the cat. Fortunately, the cat wasn't out or we'd still be standing there for the staring contest.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Another day to get through without Daisy's lively presence. Yesterday was especially difficult, and I was very lonely without her. I thankfully have work to distract me today which I must do to meet my Wednesday deadline. I'm just finishing the last few edits on Bow Wow! 150 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active. I'm so pleased that there were so few to do on the book. This one has been a better experience than the last project, which was quite an onerous task. I'm very happy with the results on both, though. Once this manuscript is gone I can get back to editing book three on my mystery series, which I look forward to doing. I'll take Bubba to the park, then back to work...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day 7
At midnight it will have been a week since Daisy left. I can feel that a scab has begun to form over the wound to my heart, thanks in large part to all the people in my life who have sent remembrances, cards, e-mails, poems. I've been overwhelmed by the kindess of friends, family and neighbors. I have lit a "puppy's breath" scented candle a friend sent and will send some prayers up to her at the moment she passed from our lives. Bubba just came into my room to join me. She's still in my thoughts and little things throughout the day remind me of her, but the tears are much less frequent than they were. This morning was hard, though, because I lost her on this day a week ago. Going to my aunt's house today with family to celebrate my dad's 85th birthday (tomorrow) and seeing my favorite cousin Jimmy, who always makes me laugh, really lifted my spirits. Reading the story I wrote about her that was printed in Inside Publications was also affirming of the fact that I gave her a good life she would not have otherwise had. I have to keep holding that thought to help me through this.

Bubba is beginning to inhabit his new role as an only dog. He was even barking at passersby, as Daisy used to do with such frequency. His bark is much deeper and more melodious than hers was. He has also been playing a lot, which he hadn't done in a long time. I took him to the river this morning, and he saw some ducks and geese and enjoyed smelling all the wild scents at the river's edge. It did my heart good to see him having a good time. We'll spend some more quality time together tomorrow. We've been showering him with attention, to make up for any lack of it the past 7 months while Daisy was sick. I may even try working on the pastel I began of Daisy before she died. I could not have thought of doing so this past week and missed my last art class I signed up for. I wish I'd finished the painting while she was still here, but I am compelled to finish it now in her memory.