Dog Blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worn out from trudging up mountain paths for the past week with two dusty dogs to prove it, I decided to give the Bijou Dog Park here in South Tahoe a try.  I thought Beau would like to socialize a bit with something other than Golden Mantled Squirrels for a change.  There were only three other dogs in the park, a Char Pei, a young husky and a senior lab/rottie mix.   The Char Pei growled at Beau through the fence and the owner wouldn't call him back from the entrance, so we went into the small dog side of the park until he was distracted sparring with the husky.  Then we slipped in without incident.  The growly Shar Pei left, but the husky was a bit overbearing and didn't know his boundaries, which Peaches and Beau quickly clarified for him.  After a little snarling and tree marking, they all got along okay.  I walked them around the adjacent area for a while after we left the park, but after we got back to the cabin, Peaches was soon pouting at me, so I guess it wasn't enough of an outing to suit her.  She knew we hadn't been gone long enough to qualify as an excursion.  Guess I'll have to take them back down to Tallac Historic Site tomorrow.  It's a bit of a drive, but we all love it, even though due to water levels there's not much beach left at Kiva Beach, Tahoe's only dog-friendly beach on the South Shore.

The best part of coming to Tahoe is Alpina Cafe on Emerald Bay Road.  It's a quaint Tyrolean-style coffee shop I wrote about in my third mystery, though I changed the name.  It even boasts a ghost that is purported to haunt the second story rooms.  I believe it was once a house turned into a cafe.  It was originally called Alpen Sierra.  Coming to this wonderful place never fails to spark my creativity and fire my imagination, and I'm blocking out chapters of my current book and making notes for the next one.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Peaches and Beau are exploring Lake Tahoe one twig at a time in true basset fashion.  It's great to be here again with them, soaking up some natural beauty and inspiration for more books.  Dogs have good memories.  Don't ever doubt it.  They remember every trail they've trod on before.  Beau, unfortunately, is not much of a long-haul trekker.  He has to take it in small doses.  He's younger than Peaches, but he goes one speed on the trail, dead on slow.  I may have to leave him behind for their second walk of the day.  He's really just a one walk-a-day dog.

I heard there are a couple of pit bulls new to the neighborhood and the owners let them wander off leash, like every other resident in Tahoe seems to.  A neighbor said the male seems very aggressive.  I wouldn't want to run into him out on the trail.  Don't they observe leash laws up here?  They have never seemed to in all the years I've been coming to Tahoe.  It's a given that everyone's big dog can roam at will.  I don't care how nice that dog is to his owner, if I don't know the dog and I'm out walking my dogs, I want to see it at the end of a leash.

Hope to have some photos to post when I return.  Can't seem to get my Bloggie to work, but we'll see.


Monday, August 01, 2011


Today the world seems to me less full of grace, kindness, and compassion without my beloved Aunt Lucy (Lucy "Iris" Owens Kendall) in it.  She preferred to be called by her middle name, Iris, which is a more beautiful name befitting this spiritual poet and artist, but she was always just Lucy to her blood kin.  I don't know if the love of animals is learned or is a gene that runs through families, but there's no question that a passion for our fellow creatures is one she and I shared to our cores.

Lucy was a cat lover, and while living on the acreage she shared with Uncle Charlie near American River College, she provided a safe haven for over 20 homeless cats.  Many of them were dropped at the end of her driveway, especially when word got out about the cat lady of Sycamore Avenue.  She had them all spayed or neutered and gave her adoptive cats the very best of care for the duration of their lives, including her favorite, Puccinelli--Pucci for short.  I once wrote a poem about him for her, which I'll post here if I can find it.

I well remember visiting Lucy's and Charlie's lovely secluded estate, cat heaven to the assortment of felines she doted on like the children she never had (something else we shared).  Each cat had its own special domain, jealously guarded from the others.  Some were indoor kitties, and others claimed a planter or other outpost of their own on the verdant property, which was also populated by a community of raccoons who helped themselves to the cat food.  Whenever we came to Aunt Lucy's home, we were always treated to an entertaining dinner show viewed through the panoramic picture window of her dining room.  At sunset, a bevy of bandits arrived to compete for the kitty chow.  It was always such a delight to observe this wildlife diorama while dining on Lucy's creative assortment of casseroles, sans cat hair, amazingly.

When she had to downsize to a smaller home after Uncle Charlie died, she also had to downsize her cat colony, but she took the greatest care to ensure that every cat went to a loving, forever home.  The happiness and well-being of her cats was always the most important thing to my aunt.  Living without any of them to love must have been unbearable for her after she had a stroke and was taken from her home much too soon by the relatives entrusted to manage her care and estate.  Her remaining cats were placed with friends, she was assured, so at least she was content believing her cats were happy in their surroundings, even if she was not.  "This is a strange life," she once told me when I visited her at her new "home." She seemed resigned to her fate, but is anyone ever really content living in a rest home?

Whenever I visited her, she didn't want to talk about her cats.  It was too upsetting for her.  The only remnant of her former life spent in the company of cats was a battery-operated fuzzy toy feline that purred loudly whenever you'd pet it.  I doubt if it was quite the same for her as the real thing.  She spent the last year of her life, like too many elders, in an unfamiliar place devoid of her beloved pets, and I'll always believe it hastened her demise, as the loss of the things we most love surely must.  I hope that this country will someday see fit to adopt the models of European countries and realize the importance of allowing our senior citizens to remain in their own homes until their last day on earth and provide the finances for quality, compassionate care needed for them to do so.  

Like my father, his favorite sister always liked to work and feel useful.  If there is a vacancy in Heaven for a special angel to care for all the kitties, then I know Aunt Lucy has found her perfect work there.   Your gentle presence here will be greatly missed, dear Auntie.