Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Dog Day

We didn't have a party for the birthdays. We didn't have a people party, I should say.

The dogs and I went out to the Kennel Club Property. It was an absolutely lovely day. Mid sixties, with sun that was warmer than that by far, but constant cool breezes kept us in perfect comfort. When I turned the dogs out into the large fenced area, I had to consciously remind myself that they were, in fact, dogs. I looked out at the herd of sleek shapes with their heads down grazing, and my brain saw a paddock full of tiny horses. It was good spring grass, though, and nobody puked. They simply enjoyed the tender shoots.

We nearly didn't make it. I had to retrieve a shipping container from the attic. I was stubbornly attempting to get the attic steps down by myself. (The ceilings upstairs in this old house are eleven feet, and the attic stairs fold up in one of those pull down doors. Eleven feet of fold up stairs are heavy and hard to manage, and my shoulders don't work so well.) Bill was encouraging me to let him help, and I was crying about something totally unrelated and not listening to reason, and I fell off the little step ladder and the stairs came crashing down on my head. Then I let Bill help. And he is such a kind man, that he didn't call me a stupid idiot or fall down laughing.

It seems like we only just celebrated Giacomino's thirteenth and Sammy's fifth birthdays. I have lost great chunks of this year. January and February completely elude me. I looked at their papers, to make absolutely certain, and it's true. They are fourteen and six. Giacomino's sister Lilly is Sammy's mom Jessie's mom. Dogs are only pregnant for sixty-three days, and Lilly only came in season every ten months and she was only bred one time. Jessie only had one litter, too. What are the chances that Lilly's grandpuppies would be born on her birthday? Is there a mathematician among you, dear readers?

I think it was a little miracle.

Sam and his great uncle's births couldn't have been more different, though. We rescued Giacomino and his brother Jazzbo from a "breeder" who sold their littermates to a pet store when they were five and one half weeks old. It's too long a story for the blog; I knew better than to buy the puppies from the pet store, but I threw up in the pet store's trash can one day. They didn't sell any more whippets after that. Giacomino was starved and filthy and full of worms and worried. Whippet puppies should be little pudge balls. He was skin and bones. This "breeder" also bred and sold pit bulls, and the whippet puppies didn't come out very high on the food chain.

Sam I Am, on the other hand, was born into the best of worlds. His Nana Linda and her anesthesiologist husband delivered the first puppy while the three midwives raced down I-95 at four in the morning. Jessie did a stupendous job and popped those puppies out bing, bam, boom. (Linda had made the trip to Massachusetts in February with Jessie to be bred to Sammy's father in a blizzard alone. It turned out to be the same days that Bill and I had come to visit Paducah for the first time, and I wasn't there for my friend. I would be there for the birth.) Jessie's seven puppies were born and were so beautiful and healthy, we were wild with happy relief and excitement. The x-ray had predicted seven. Jessie started to push again, and we figured it was the missing placenta. "This placenta has a head," I exclaimed, and out slipped Sam I Am.

Giacomino (for new readers, that is pronounced Jocko-MEENo and he's also called Very Old Dog in these writings) has been my shadow for fourteen years. He also won a Hound Group, and finished his Championship, owner-handled, and his Field Championship in AKC and his Lure Courser of Merit in ASFA, and got his obedience title, and was Best In Field at the American Whippet Club National Specialty in California. Meaning we spent a lot of time together, having the time of our lives. And he did all that before he was six, when an injury put a stop to any sort of competition.

And now Sam is six, and he's the very first Agility dog, and the very first Therapy Dog. (Well, Giacomino was a certified Therapy dog, but he only saw the patients in our office.) And Sam is so like his great uncle. It's uncanny.

I thought about all of that, and more, as I sat in the grass today watching the dogs. The young ones (Sam is still included in that group) ran with their squeaky toys and rolled in not too stinky stuff. The seniors walked around and smelled county smells and smiled a lot. A very kind neighbor has been visiting Giacomino and working on his meridians and his Chakra to help him with his thunderphobia. He's been sleeping better since she started. He proved that by flopping on his side in the sun and closing his happy eyes.

I bought a big hunkin' huge piece of pot roast on the way home. I had a Board Meeting to go to, and we had stayed late enjoying the sun. The dogs were hungry and didn't want to wait for the rice to cook and for me to cut up the humongo beef, so I gave them their regular food. Bill had pasta (with you guessed it broccoli rabe yum) ready when I got home, and it had a bacon garnish. We're disgustingly fair around here. If one dog gets to lick a plate, nine dogs get to lick a plate.

But tonight, when the rest of the dogs were outside, Giacomino got a whole slice of bacon, and so did Sam I Am.

And that was OK. Ain't life grand?

Hug your hounds

[good photos credit Laurie Erickson. snapshots me]


  1. I've been out of town and am spending the morning doing some catch up.
    With visits from cousins, a fullness of broccoli rabe (yum!), and special dog days my heart is full.
    Glad to have spent these moments with you.
    I think I'll go kiss my cat. That's acceptable, right? I mean, cats are as good as dogs, right?
    Are dogs as good as whippets? Now that's a thought.

  2. boscoe loves spring grass, too.

    i love that sprinkler photo.

  3. Good lord - I can't believe it is 8 years since your very old dog injured himself!

    Hug your hounds on my behalf :)

    Kathy & Agnes

  4. I just wrote about being "rescued" from a pet store -- but Mom never threw up in their trash can. The store did get put out of business a while later though.

    We love the image of your whippets grazing like young horses -- but we always throw up after we eat grass. Glad they were OK.

    Wirey love,


  5. What a marvelous dog party you threw! The only better thing would have been to have invited a couple of terriers along. We volunteer for next year.


  6. Bacon makes a fine birthday cake! You tell the best stories, Patience!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  7. Oh do you dirty up the plates again just so the other dogs can lick them?

  8. Did you get all shook up this morning? My dogs just lifted their heads and looked around while stuff was rattling around.

  9. Life is always grand if you have a dog to share it with.

  10. Happy belated birthday to Very Old Dog and Sam I Am! 14 wow! Me thought big Harry was old, tee hee!

    Cassidy x

  11. Did Bill laugh just a little after he realized you were ok?? A slice of bacon is definitely a GREAT birthday present. I have never had a whole slice to myself!!

  12. Not a party but sounds like a great day!
    Kisses and hugs to you all!

  13. Patience-you are, and will always be,the best story teller. just the sight of VOD makes me teary-having had so many of my own. Sounds like a wonderful party for all-Martha and also six P-Doggy


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