Saturday, October 15, 2016


Here we are at the Atlantis, where we have visited 2x a year throughout most of Bugsy's life.
This is the place where I think we realized that people were drawn to him. I cannot recall a stay here where we didn't wind up in a long conversation with someone about him; what is he? wow he's handsome, people stopping to laugh at his antics, in the later years people commenting on how well-behaved and sweet he is.
In some bizarre way, I think all dog owners feels some sense of pride when people compliment their dog, even if it has nothing to do with the human. I am no different.
I have enjoyed the attention as it wasn't on me (which I find uncomfortable) and Bugsy absolutely loves it.
The comments on how well-behaved he is still elicit a wry smile from me. If only they knew the REAL Bugsy.

This trip though it's a little different.
Sure he's made canine and human friends and the compliments have been numerous.
However, this time people see the shaved belly and ask.
So I tell them he had his spleen removed less than 3 wks ago.
Then they say something similar to, "wow he's doing great! is everything going to be OK?"
"hmm, no. He has cancer, the prognosis is poor"

Then comes the but he's so young, he looks so healthy, my goodness he is beautiful and sweet.
A few have teared up, I imagine they too have lost a dog they love.
They love on him and he eats it up.

My heart pretty much fills and explodes.

I trot along the beach with him, still reminding him he is supposed to be WITH me.
We play in the sea.
He greets all the dogs and remains non-plussed with the ones that want to take a chunk out of him
He sticks his head in the mini garbage can (this is a beach only habit)
Nose punches the fridge
Digs in the sand, being sure to have you in the line of the flying sand.
He scours the beach for crabs to hunt.

And he goes up and down the 3 flights of stairs to our room first thing in the morning, last of the night and multiple times a day with no additional effort.

They are just an obstacle between places he wants to be and things he wants to do.

To him this trip to the beach is just like the others but with more naps.

I haven't done too badly at being there with him, but when folks ask about the shaved belly I am thrust back to reality.

So, kind strangers, please don't ask. Let my boy and I pretend we are just hanging at the beach as we always do this time of year.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Happy 11th birthday

Happy 11th birthday Bugsy. When I selected this day to be your appointed birthday, I chose it because I knew a great human who was born on Sept. 1st and who lived 101. I thought it might be a good omen to share her birthday.
I have too many feelings and thoughts to write here about how fortunate I am to have been adopted by you.
I will say this, you inspire me every day. EVERY day. You fascinate me and entertain me. I try to replicate your genuine gratitude and joy to live. I try to be the kind and strong soul that you are.
I promise to do all that I can to comfort you as you age and to continue to be the owner you deserve.
Love you buddy.

PS could you let me in on your secret to not graying - I am losing the battle!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Follow the path that lies in front of you (and a huge thank you to all my dog connections!)

Today I did my first transport leg for a rescue organization.
I have wanted to this for years but my life and the path never collided. 
This time it did.

The texts had started early, telling of her progress, so my mind was on this all day long.

It is a simple task but it feels important. Just meet one person/car and drive to somewhere to hand the dog to another person/car.  
But it FEELS good!

I discovered it was a puppy and only 25lbs so I ran out to buy a crate for safety.   And I bought a couple of cute collars and a leash.............and a cute pink bag to put it all in. And treats.

I packed toys, water, a bowl, secured the crate in my very suitable car, added some cushioning and hurtled down I-95 to meet the previous transporter.

As I prepped , I had a quick question of crate size; I reached out to my Facebook friends. As I tagged people in the post I had to start laughing because it would have been easier to add everyone and just untag a few people.
Over my 10+ years of Bugsy ownership (er, management) I have connected with extraordinary people. 
"dog people"

My experience of adopting Bugsy from our SPCA turned me into an advocate and fundraiser for the SPCA
My experience of owning the devil in black/brown fur brought me to many - MANY - of you for help.
By knowing you, I met other people who did great things for dogs in need.
Each of you prepared me for today. 

Today one friend quipped I was, "the best prepared transporter ever"
Damn that made me smile - you all taught me good.
I can't list all of you as I would forget someone for sure. 
I hate when folks say, "you know who you are", but you do.

You taught me to open my heart.
You taught me how important this is.
This being anything you can do to help.

The dog community is a community of big-hearted people who step up. Proud to have joined you.
Thanks for grooming me.

The other day I shared this:

Time is the most valuable thing a person can spend. -Theophrastus

Very true.

It is also the thing that when you spend it, you get the best reward.

So a heart felt thank you to each of you, you do know who you are.
I promise to keep following the path that unfolds 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I take my chances

Weeks away from the day we'll celebrate his 11th birthday, he and I went for a hike today.
Great park in the middle of North Carolina that promised mountains (albeit short ones) and a big river. (Morrow Mountain State Park)
The weather was about as good as you can ask for in August in NC; overcast, humid, but reasonable temps (77 at the start and 88 when we finished).

No need for a blow by blow of the day - it is all bittersweet at this point. He's been struggling all summer and other than "he's old" we don't have much to understand why. His one rear leg is bothering him and we attribute it to arthritis from the knee repair.
This means that we didn't hike miles and miles, just a few. One mountain trail and one by the river. We both enjoyed ourselves.

Although much has changed in his 11 years, one thing has not: the Beast only knows how to trot at a mighty clip. Apparently walking just isn't part of his makeup.
Today's mountain trail was covered in slices of rock - I don't think it was shale but it reminded me of shale in that it was sharp shards. I worried about his paws as he trotted and at times slipped as the gravel moved under his feet.  He never slowed, worried or seemed to notice.
Another habit that has been a constant is to walk on the very edge of mountain trails so that one wrong move and you're off the trail and on a descent.
Concerned about his less agile creaky joints I tried to move him away from the edge.

Nope not going to happen.
Each time the scree moved under his feet my heart jumped.
He survived, my heart survived and this song kept running through my head.
Definitely a theme song for him. "I Take My Chances"

So great to take a road trip and be on the trails again with my buddy, his desire hasn't faded one bit, but his body has.  
All part of the life cycle and I am so very lucky to have him and be able to do what we did today. 
I admit it's hard to see him work so hard to achieve what his heart wants to do though.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A microcosm of life

The first time we brought Bugsy to the beach he was under a year. He was insane and still had a feral edge, meaning he was like a wild stallion and had no hope of getting off leash.
We hoped that he would settle next to the lounge chair and we'd all chill out. I still remember that at about 6:30 PM as we tried to eat dinner, he was still bouncing and driving us mad. We put him in his crate and he literally fell asleep before we could slide the locks.
I recall the looks we got on the beach and how exhausted Steve & I were.
Over the years, we progressed and found a system to release his energy, give us some relaxation & enjoy our trips.
One thing has been the same; Bugsy absolutely feels he should greet all dogs and all humans who come down the steps to the beach.
In the early days, people gave him a wide berth, he was clearly an oversized nutcase. Owners with high energy dogs were happy though, as he was always ready to play.
Fast forward to now.
He still wants to meet and greet all.
He still wants to run and play, although for MUCH shorter times with long naps and rest periods in between.
Nowadays though, he's the gentle giant and "a sweet baby". People stop and pet him and he just eats it up.
Like many dogs, you see that people connect to him. They want to know his name and find out his story.
We met a guy this morning and were just chatting a short time. We chatted about dogs and aging.  After we wrapped up, he walked off and a couple walked down that had two golden retrievers. Bugsy LOVES goldens so he was desperate to play with them, doing all sorts of playbows and zoomies.
More than 30 minutes later, the man we had met earlier came back from his walk. He came over and said, "boy he wanted to play with those goldens, didn't he?" You could tell it made the man happy to see the old dog want to play.
Another guy stopped by to engage in chat and pet Bugsy 4x today; with breed guesses, a cracker, to tell us who he reminded him of, and to give B a pet & get a kiss.

Back in the day, the folks that stopped and chatted were people fascinated by B's physical stature and energy. Now they stop to love my sweet boy, who ignores the irritable dogs, who never barks, and who knows the routine so appears very well behaved.

Back in 2006 when we first stayed here with him, if you had told me how easy to manage he'd be when here, I could not have believed you.

Today, although I hate seeing how much he sleeps; I marvel at his behavior, manners, and demeanor. That big old love-filled heart is more accessible to everyone and he is ever so happy to share it.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

the reality of it all

I count my blessings daily as my sweet crazy boy remains sweet, crazy and active.
There are plenty of signs that it won't stay that way for long though. Last May we were told he had a heart murmur. At first I laughed. The dog who had the heart and lungs of a Kenya runner with a heart murmur?
So my vet checked it out (after laughing it off as I did) and lo and behold my boy had suddenly developed a heart murmur.
I didn't think anything of it as there was no indication of it impacting him.

Fast forward to about 2 months ago when I first noticed that his mouth seemed pale, very pale. He'd been very excited at the time and with my knowledge of anatomy and physiology I realized that it was related to the murmur and not a good sign, he wasn't getting enough oxygen.
The good news is that the color comes back once he settles a bit.
The bad news is Bugsy tends to get excited regularly and also stays excited for quite some time.

On Friday he was removing a treat from a toy - as he does multiple times a day - and he suddenly popped up and looked spooked. When he got up he was clearly in pain  (best assessment was neck pain) and remained so all day and into Saturday although the carprofen had helped. I noticed that when his neck was bad his front left foot was cool to touch, not cold, cooler than the other three feet.
He was using it fine and showed no lack of sensitivity but the coolness was yet another sign of poor circulation.

So tonight I am sad. Really sad.
Few things will hurt as badly as losing him.

Until then, we will be enjoying life, I promised him years ago that there would be no heroics, no insanity. Quality of life is our goal.

Bugsy, I promise that I will do something with you everyday that makes your eyes light up the way only yours do.
I will not drag you through extensive veterinary examinations and diagnostic tests.
We'll live buddy.
Day by day.
Sunrise by sunrise.

When you cannot be you. When you cannot enjoy a sunrise, I will set you free.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Who's walking who?

I am the kind of person who generally accepts the imperfections of life.
From the day we brought baby B home I attempted to have him walk at my side instead of out in front.
All attempts, using every known training method (well humane and reasonable ones) failed.
Somewhere after 4 or 5 yrs I gave up.
He walks out in front, he isn't pulling, but he's out in front.
Many who walk with us love to play a silly game of getting out in front of him, which inspires him to gallop into the lead.

When we do a walk at a large event, he charges to the front. I don't fight it, I plan for it and use my human intelligence to devise a strategy that minimizes the impact on me.

There's an older couple that are new to our neighborhood who have on multiple occasions seen us and shouted, "who is walking who?" and I respond with a smile, "he's my personal trainer, walks me everyday!"

It is never as clear that this is the case as it is on our 5am walks. This morning was foggy but with a full or nearly full moon lighting our way. He was tired and I was as usual half asleep. When he is tired it is easier to see that he totally perceives walking me as one of his jobs.
He waits at the back door while I pick a jacket, grab some tissues, find my spare house key, etc.
Then we go into the garage and he waits for me to put his lighted vest or harness on and stands just outside the side door, back to me, just waiting for me to exit and close up the house.
Once I clip the leash on, he becomes almost robotic. It makes me LOL as he hits his stride and has this, "let's get this job done" attitude.
He's out in front setting a speedy pace, surveying, looking for critters, or a new branch or decoration to be investigated.
He pees, he poops, knows the route so never even glances back to check in with me.
After pooping is done, the trot is constant, no more sniffing, heading home now, out walking my mom.
Once home, he has a drink, and waits for his kibble.
On tired days, he goes right to his bed and is asleep in an instant.

So yes elderly grumpy couple - he walks me everyday. And I am totally fine with it.
I wonder some days, when he's both tired and clearly those banged up old joints aren't working real well, what I'll do when he's gone. Who'll walk me then?