We have been gone awhile.....
Hank was the third of our pups to die in the last few months, Tux & Jasper went before him.
Hank's passing has another level of grief accompanying it:
Of all the dogs on the cove, Hank had one of the biggest followings.
In the last few days of his life Hank would go out and wander his 3 acre, fenced enclave.
I will find that place again. Soon. But I am not there yet.
1/19/2005 ~ 3/30/2013
Jasper died last week.
It is such a successful day when i wear (most of) them out!
I was thinking while we were out today,in our various summer day endeavors- a long walk, frisbee time, water play, digging, and more -how wonderful it is that they can all just be,however they like.....they need be nothing more than who they are.Isn't that all any of us is looking for?A place to be.
Clyde and Bob: A Small (& true) Story
They became close friends. Clyde often knew when Bob would be coming out to garden and would be waiting for him.Bob knew that Clyde would be joining him and always had a pocketful of treats.
When Bob died, Clyde missed him.In his loving family, Clyde's dog days were full of love and affection, kindnesses, treats, and dog adventures.But Clyde never forgot Bob or the times they shared.Every now and then, Clyde would cross the street and wait awhile in Bob's yard.
One 4th of July, a few years after Bob had passed away,Clyde and his family were outside in their backyard,when a fire cracker went off down the street.Startled and frightened, Clyde ran off.As darkness fell, his family drove all over town for hours, anxiously looking for him.On their way home they decided to drive through the cemetary.
And, there they found Clyde, lying on Bob's grave.
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When I looked at the pictures from this snowy day, I saw a small story unfold.....
Can't you just hear her saying "Where'd everyone go? it's deep out here!"
Then, seeing Tux across the meadow, digging, she throws caution to the wind and jumps right in......
"Tux, your shoulder! Let me dig!!"
"What shall we do next, Tux?"â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘ â€˘Sally and Jasper spent the afternoon playing wildy in two feet of new powder, finding something new in every single moment, as only dogs can.I don't think they ever stopped moving.They are so happy, these wild dogs of Shasta Cove,their joy is contagious......deeply.
.......but no less Heartfelt New Years Greeting.....
He sniffed it, and plucked it, then threw it in the air; chased it,retrieved it, and gnawed it; then carried it around all afternoon.He never exactly ate it, but he got such delight out of itthat we were as delighted as if we'd had a taste.Almost.
We are excited to let you know that Cody's memorial has been published in BARK Magazine! Please click on the link below to read:
Soon after Abbey died all but two of the dogs moved into our room at night - when Cody died these two hold outs moved in, too. These moves were made on their own - they can pretty much sleep wherever they are comfortable, and each has had a night sleeping spot of their own choosing for years, no changes. Until now. I don't understand it, but I do feel the comfort of all of us together. Fortunately they are all quiet, good sleepers. Until first light.
There are more changes that we notice -Hank is more watchful, more careful, Tux more loving, Sally happier;We are, as always, a work in progress.
Physically he was never strong, always a bit unsteady, off balance.....spiritually his enduring strength and harmony were literally breathtaking.Cody was never contained or limited by his physical self.He was transcendant.His spirit entered the room before his body and continued after.We understood, from the beginning,the honor that being able to care for him was.Tending to him was a delight, a wonder......Cody was truly a gift -Of light and love, of knowledge and strength,of courage and commitment,of all that we have ever sought.
He was the mother of our pack. Perhaps because he knew what it was like to be physically "less than",he took great care with the puppies who came into our life andtended Lucky, Rusty, and Abbey as their health diminished.
He was friend and companion to all of us,sharing his heart, his food, his bed, his toys, his joy, with any one of us, 2 and 4 footed alike, who were in need.
He taught us so much - as Dogs do - not by any one specific "action", by simply being,here with us, in his life.......Beautifully.
Grief is like the ocean - it comes in waves,and each wave, as it breaks over us all,brings not only the missing, but also,the warmth and delight,of loving Cody.Thank You, Cody.Forever.Cody 11/6/99-6/17/10
She has to work to pull her grown-up self through the small opening.There is always a point at which it seems she will be stuck.Once she has made it out, she turns and barks ferociously at the door, as if it were a monster who's clutches she has narrowly escaped.Living with dogs is endlessly entertaining.
Queen of the Cove, perfectly, guiding us gently yet firmly,and - tho Sally and Emma did not always think so - fairly.These last years, as Abbey's physical self diminished her spirit continued to grow, encomapssing and accepting all that came her way; she added vulnerablity to her many strengths.
All of us learned so much from Abbey - none more than my Dad, whom Abbey, along with Hank, came to live with shortly after my mom's death. The depth of loving companionship they shared brought us all joy, gratitude and peace.
As sadness threatens to overwhelm........the loving and gratitude continue to grow.
We are having a grand time: Todd and I on snowshoes, which the dogs think are ridiculous, (of course dogs come equiped with four wheel drive, very clever!).I love how Mother Nature focusses the mind and body: we have been shovelling, snowshoeing, playing, looking, seeing, shovelling some more, sitting by the fire,all 10 of us, watching the snow fall......simply being with what is: SNOW! and then some.Sally watches, very carefully, as Jasper swims through the snow after her pinecone,(he found it and, after some negotiations thatinvolved A LOT of barking, brought it back to her).NOTHING stops Tux from digging!1 ft. of dog+7 feet of snow=oh dearAnd when, on Friday, the sun came out and the sky shined with blue,this is what greeted us:Glorious! Truly.
Shasta Cove offers sanctuary to dogs in need
This is so far beyond digging - excavation is the only word for it. Tux began his project about three years ago. He has focus, sticks to a schedule, (mid morning to about 3; all weather except rain, snow is fine; breaks to help Jasper and Sally chase their frisbees), takes help when it is offered - most often Henry and Jasper, sometimes Emma, like to dig with him for awhile; and loves to show off what he has done! He will actually come find either Todd or I and insist we look at his day's work. Tux is so intent on this that I know he is heeding a higher calling than I can hear or see or understand,(as is so often true of dogs); I am grateful and glad that we have the space and the knowledge that allows him all the freedom he needs to dig. Deeply.
with a little help from his friends:
Somehow - perhaps a bit of magic is afoot - Abbey is still with us! We are grateful and loving and curious - as Abbey continues to lead the way. Tho more frail and blind, and often quite disoriented, her tail is up, her appetite is excellent, she wanders the meadow following scents only she can smell, barks at sounds only she can hear, greets us joyously each morning as we all awake, and continues to provide gentle lessons for us all on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. She finds her way through each day, and, as dogs do, helps us find ours.
(For more on Abbey's illnesses, scroll down to 'Abbey!' and 'Abbey near the end...')
This one speaks for itself......
We have had weeks of thunderstorms, with more to come. It has been a lively time on the Cove for our pups, one of fear and trembling, vigilance, and relief......and in Abbey's case: hard work!
(Henry, Hank, Todd, and Emma find their place, as the thunder begins.)
Hank has never tolerated loud noises well and thunder is the worst for him. Though he has gotten a bit better over the years, he is an anxious and frightened thunderstormer. Through a long process we have learned he is best on medication, combined with gentle holding and loud cello music. And if we are able to anticipate the storm by an hour or two, that is better still. Emma has developed a fear of loud noises - every year she brings us a new facet to her personality - her 4th year it was fear of thunder, gunfire, etc. Her trembling lessens a bit if we sit with her and hold her tightly or let her nest into a pillow or blanket right next to, or often on top of, us. Both Cody and Henry become very excited with each clap of thunder - they are not really frightened, tho very hyper and vigilant: noses to the air, eyes bright, waiting for the next one. As long as some part of us is touching some part of each of them, they are fine. After a 1/2 hour or so of vigilance they wear themselves out and fall asleep. If we loose our physical contact with either one of them, he awakens immediately and, again, becomes quite excited. Tuxedo does not like thunder at all and at the first sign, retreats quickly downstairs to bury himself in the puffy quilts of the guest room bed. When we go to check on him we can barely see him he has nested in so completely. As the storm progresses he will come upstairs and curl up next to us on our bed, trembling all the while. At the first hint of thunder, Jasper, literally flies (do his feet even touch the ground?) through the dog door and runs straight for the safety of his crate, where he stays, rather calmly, throughout. Sally becomes a bit anxious but as long as one of us is in her sights she will settle down, napping with one eye open in case we move. Abbey has a completely different response to thunder and lightning, or any kind of loud noise: she hurries out on the deck, nose to the air, ears back, tail tightly curled, and marches up and down, barking loudly until the noise subsides and her home is safe. We always thank her for keeping the thundergods at bay. Even in her illness and frailty she persists and succeeds in this wonderful endeavor. Protecting us all. Loudly.One of the (MANY) things I love about dogs is that when the storm has passed and the thunder is gone, the residual effect is:
tired dogs sleeping soundly.
When they awake, all fear and trembling, hyper-vigilance and anxiety, is gone. That was then, this is now.
I was speaking with a friend today, wanting to say how everyday with our pups is filled to overflowing, and I freudian slipped:
"everyday with our dogs is filled to overglowing"
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Last night Henry & Abbey curled up together - at one point they were almost embracing - it's so interesting to me because Abbey never liked to be cuddled or caressed - "no touching the queen!" - she liked to be petted, and played with the others, but always kept a physical distance, she'd sleep close to, but not touching........and now, often, I find her curled up with another - she and Tux were sleeping like spoons a few nights back. It is as if the others are protecting, holding, supporting her - which of course they've always done in their deference to her as the leader of the pack, and now it is more tangible - and, somehow bigger, deeper......and completely natural. I love how Abbey accepts their touching, their holding her, just as she does with Todd and I now - leaning into our caresses. There is such strength in her willingness to be vulnerable as her journey continues.
Perhaps this is what she has stayed for.
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Abbey has been quite ill since last night and I think she may be dying.
She is at the vet's right now - more to see if there is anything we can do to ease her into what is coming, then with any idea of 'saving' her......tho I am holding onto a shred of hope as I sit here in tears........I know she has been terminally ill, for a long time now, weaker, more frail, blinder with each passing week - and yet, she has been so with us, so present, so here, so Abbey! that I find it more difficult than ever to think of her not being here. I can't quite imagine it..........nor do I want to.
It has been a lesson and a blessing to witness as Abbey accepts and encompasses all that has come her way - it has in no way lessened her, it has made her more - all of Abbey has been with us now: the strong and the weak, the sightful and the blind, the loving and the loved - she has allowed us to give to her, she has been able to surrender to our loving in a way she could not do before. It has been wonderful to feel her melt into our gentle caresses; watch her let the other pups sleep up against her, warming her and holding her in place; see her sleeping soundly on the daybed by the windows while Hank, and sometimes, Tux, right next to her, keep the careful watch now.
And, at the same time, her strength, her dignity, her wisdom are intact and with us, too - she leads and frolics - with a gleeful, young Abbey wonder, and the careful, old Abbey body - she barks and laughs and orders us all about - and she carefully walks the perimeter of our (her!) 3 acre enclosure at least once a day to check on her domain.....
....WOW.....Abbey has come home and has eaten a good dinner, gone out and checked the perimeter, and is now sound alseep at my feet. She is ok.....for the moment. We will take the moment. It's all any of us have anyway. The vet said he cannot believe how well she is doing for how ill she is, her blood work is actually good.........she has Cushing's disease and an adrenal tumor which is perhaps malignant and is pushing in on her heart.....this we have known for a year......and yet, here she is, with us......once again I am sure that there is some(thing)(one) at work here that is not known to me, but perhaps to Abbey. She reminds me of Dad in the last year of his life, preparing us all for his death - or at least those of us who were willing to look and see and feel with him.........to take each step as it came. It's Abbey's acceptance of her life as it comes near to death that shows us how to really live.
I witness Abbey's journey and begin to understand my own.
How perfect that once again the pups show the way through the season - a celebration of giving and receiving - sharing. They live this constantly, no matter the season - it is a way of life for them.
As Abbey has become more frail, Hank keeps a careful eye on her - never letting her far out of his sight. When she awakens and wants to go out, he is always there, waiting fro her lead, following her at a distance, standing quietly and watching her whenever she stops, if she falters or seems confused he comes gently to her side and shows her the way - all of this done in the most discreet manner, so as not to take from Queen Abbey's dignity or having her think she is being told what to do (never a good idea with Abbey). At night, when Todd awakens to go out with her, he always finds Hank there waiting to accompany them. As Abbey moves around the house Hank's eyes are never far from her and they often lie together on the daybed - Abbey deeply sleeping, Hank keeping watch. Hank seems to know, instinctively, that Abbey now needs his help. He is returning what Abbey spent a life time doing for him - taking care, keeping careful watch, leading the way. Abbey was never as discreet as Hank is, tho - she always let it be known she was at the helm. Hank seems to know that quietly, discreetly is the only way Abbey could receive his help. They are bookends, Hank and Abbey, always in relationship to one and other, completing each other. I have concern for Hank - (as I do for all of us) - when Abbey leaves us.
The best part of coming home is Todd's gentle strength encircling me after I get off the airplane, the other best part is the greeting each of our 8 pups gives me upon my return - each one different, but the same in context - they act as tho they thought they would never see me again......Emma is the first as she leaps fully into my arms - (the advantage of being the littlest one) - and covers every inch of my face with kisses; Henry, in all his joyful exuberance throws himself at me, his mouth searching for my hand to hold - we settle on my wrist so that my fingers are free to touch, pet, scratch,hold the others; Sally is too excited - which is her way - her wagging tail winds her whole body up and she propels herself sideways full of wiggles and wags until she becomes only black and white motion depicting true joy; Jasper stands silently behind me, his tail wagging well and his nose buried in the back of my kneee - making sure I am me; Abbey insists I come down to her for many sweet kisses and a big hug. I, of course, oblige. Afterwards, with a growl and few barks she lets the others know she thinks they are being a bit unruly - they all try to obey her, and fail, and Abbey, her nose firmly in the air, backs off to observe; Hank is sitting quietly by my side throughout, giving my ear gentle kisses, as tho he is whispering sweet nothings to me; Tux is literally hopping with joy - all 4 feet off the floor at once - his little tiny nub of a tail wagging up a storm that belies it's size as he gives out little yelps of joy; Cody is sitting at full alert, waiting to find a clear space - (he always takes great care to protect his fragile body) - his tale thumping on the floor, his smile encompassing us all. Abbey insists a spot be made for him, and the other dogs know to obey this time. Cody finds his way to me and does not leave my side for the rest of the night. During their greeting I am returning the joy in kind - hopping and hugging, petting and scratching, wagging my own tail, laughing and smiling out loud, yelping with glee at the sight and touch of each one of them. As always: working on matching these pups' joyful love of life, me, the moment, our home, each other, themselves........AND their fearless ability to show and share this love. Wow. Why on earth do I ever leave?!?
(Scroll down for more dogblog)
I am in far Northern Michigan, visiting the latest addition to our extended dog family - Ellie is a very young black lab mix - perhaps part Australian shepherd?. She is lively and deeply loving, smart and bright, playful, mischevious, and completely happy to be. Ellie is a rescue dog - but, as always, the question is 'who is really rescuing whom?'. Watching Miss Ellie, I am struck, once again, how completely dogs are able to be with, and to give of, themselves. The unconditional love they offer is tranformative - if we can allow ourselves to accept it. Truly. Accepting this love, the joy, the depths they offer us requires us to look deeply and surrender fully - letting go of all the protective coatings we have accumulated......and it requires a responsiblity to return in kind. If we follow the thread of their loving we find it is a circle, giving and receiving sharing equal importance. The gift is that the dogs of our life not only bring us themselves, they bring us ourselves.
Miss Ellie kayaks with Cynthia - it is not something anyone taught her. When Cynthia got her kayak, on their first outing, Ellie climbed right in and sat, still and watchful, throughout. She has not missed an outing since.
(scroll down for more dogblog)
I've been thinking how dogs have that perfect kissing space right between their eyes and down there noses a bit - the bridge of their nose? - it just fits my lips and receives them so well. Plus you can give ear scratches at the same time. Very clever whoever built these pups!
In these last few months, as illness has caused her to loose weight, Abbey's kissing spot - the perfectly upside down V between her eyes - has become more defined and more kissable. As has she.
(Scroll down for Abbey and the Monks.)
Cody has had MANY challenges in his life - relaxing is NOT one of them. He completely surrenders himself when he lays down to rest. It is such a peaceful, lovely, and a bit comical thing to see. For much of his life sleep was the only time he could find comfort - he took to it well. For a long time, in his deepest healing, when we weren't even sure he would make it, he would take himself out into the meadow and try to walk, then stop and rest, relax, fall asleep, awaken and try again. Sometimes he made it only 100 feet or so before he had to come in for the day. Pacing himself worked for Cody, he eventually retained use of all his legs in equal measure and made it completely around the fenced in perimeter of the meadow - his gait is funny, odd even, but who cares?! - he is walking and running. And, on special occassions, even jumping! Another lesson learned well from the pups - taking time as we need it to just be.......relaxing doesn't come as easyily to me as it does to Cody, (or Hank, or Abbey, or Tux or Emma or Jasper or Henry,or even Sally), but I am getting there.
13 things I have learned living with dogs:
1. Dance before dinner!
2. Snuggle well.
3. Nap often, sleep soundly.
4. Frolic joyfully in new snow.
5. All there is is right here, right now.
6. Play endlessly and with total committment.
7. Don't go out in the noonday sun.
8. Watch carefully, listen intently.
9. Keep well hydrated.
10. Bark loudly or don't bark at all.
11.Howl at the full moon.
12.Cover those you love in kisses.
13. Anyone who does not believe dogs are capable of reason and emotion, logical thought and brilliance, has simply not lived WITH a dog.....or 2 or 3 or 8.
IÂ have been spending a lot of time with Abbey - more so than usual as I am not sure how much longer she will be with us. She has been quite ill this last year - diagnosed in the Spring with Cushings Disease, various bouts of pancreatitis which have worn her down, an adrenal tumor found this summer, and - as if all that were not enough! - she has been going blind these past 6 months. Her Cushings Disease is managed well at the moment - tho it is, of course, a chronic and terminal disease, her adrenal tumor is untreatable - too risky at her age & health, and her blindness is now complete. And in this moment - (which, Abbey knows better than I, is all we have) - she is actually, almost, perky. She accompanied the other pups and me out when we went to play - she did not play, but she referee'd and then lay in the sun and kept a careful eye on us all.
I oftenÂ think how we live underÂ the watchful gaze of the Mountain - it is visible from everyÂ room of our home and everyÂ part of our property -Â and I can feel it's beautyÂ and strength guiding usÂ throughÂ all our days......IÂ haveÂ the same feeling about Abbey - we live under her careful watch. She is our Alpha Girl and she has guided us well. IÂ wonder if part ofÂ the reason she is still here is herÂ wonderingÂ whoÂ will take over as Queen.....and howÂ willÂ we beÂ without her (almost always) gentleÂ guidance? Hmmmmm......I can't imagine Sally or Emma risingÂ toÂ the occasion,Â thoÂ theyÂ both wantÂ to beÂ boss - and can beÂ quite bossy! -Â they definetelyÂ don'tÂ haveÂ theÂ responsible, knowledgeableÂ nature, and big picture vision, it takesÂ to care forÂ the pack. They are princesses, theÂ both ofÂ them,Â and well suitedÂ to that. It is interesting, even in Abbey's decline,Â theÂ respectÂ she isÂ shown, still, byÂ allÂ the others -Â she is treatedÂ withÂ dignity and her 'word' is still law. Her physical self may beÂ diminishing,Â butÂ herÂ spirit absolutelyÂ has not. ThatÂ isÂ what I feelÂ when IÂ amÂ with her....I can feelÂ the young AbbeyÂ rightÂ thereÂ withÂ the oldÂ girl.
In the last year of my Dad's life, when I was often overwhelmed and fearful, exhausted and sad, I would find - through being with him - the same feeling and I would rejoice in the life I have chosen.
As I work and re-work, add to, & subtract from, our website, I find myself looking ever more closely at the dogs in my life......and understanding, truly, that they are the tangible aspect of all the loving, the abundance, the beauty, and the fun that I have had the good fortune to find in this life. And, as I begin this blog, along comes Sally with a frisbee in her mouth and a wild smile in her eyes.......it is time to play!