Very Old Dogs, Maria and Giacomino
I've been, oh, a little um... down lately. First Aynex moved, then on Tuesday, my dear friend Jeanie moved to California. (I'll write about that later when it's not quite so raw.) I am watching my Very Old Dogs, Giacomino and Maria, get more fragile by the day. Lately, the two of them, who have always been devoted chow hounds, have been skipping entire meals. Also, I've had to help my son financially for the last year, a little more than I could afford to. I cleverly gave up my income for six months to work on the novel. And a week from today I'll be at the World Dog Show in Stockholm, Sweden.
"Oh, Sweden!!!" you say. "How marvellous!"
Yes, to one not so cuckoo as I. Leaving Bill with all nine dogs, even for an evening, always makes me feel like a creep. Like I'm taking advantage of him. Leaving the two Very Old Dogs makes me plain old crazy. I don't like to leave them for a day. Ten days? Psychotic. And then there's that financial stuff. The credit card which was designated to pay the airline ticket to Sweden and the hotel? That's the one I've been using to help my son pay some bills. Oops.
So I've been sewing like mad to pay down the credit card, not spending so much time on the blog (and watching the readership dwindle), and thinking "What on EARTH am I doing trying to write a novel and putting us under all this financial pressure and I am the biggest stupidest dork on the planet." And because of all that, there will be NO dog shows or agility trials for us for the rest of this year. Not one.
A little down.
This morning I was on the last walk with the young'uns - Sam I Am, Swede William, and Lindy Loo. On the first walk with Giacomino and Maria, we saw a stupid city squirrel, and we chased it! I let them run, in their bouncy, teetery exuberance, with me running behind, leashes of course in hand. It was an extraordinarily stupid city squirrel, and I thought Giacomino was actually going to get a mouthful of stupid city squirrel tail. Oh they were delighted with that adventure and they beamed and wagged, and for the first time in years, the Very Old Dog lifted - precariously, but authentically - his leg on the very next telephone pole. I could hear him say, "I still got it."
Next, I played tickle butt with Fat Charlie and Mama Pajama on their walk and they did silly butt scoots and spins, with grinning shiny eyes, appreciating the cool morning. They will turn eleven on Sunday.
The young'uns need no encouragement to enjoy their walk, but I got them stirred up anyway, just for fun. That can be hazardous, as the three of them add up to one hundred pounds of fast dog, which can go from zero to thirty mph in two seconds, and can achieve top speeds of around thirty-five mph.
As we were walking along, being silly and looking out for stupid city squirrels and evil kitties, we passed a bank parking lot. In this town when you pass someone on the street you exchange pleasantries. Always. "Mornin'. Nice and cool, isn't it?" Only this man did not make the prerequisite eye contact.
He got out of his expensive car, in his pressed white monogrammed shirt and his tie and his black pants. He opened the back door to retrieve his tailored suit jacket. He wore a sad, resigned, miserable expression on his face. Like an animal which had been caged for so long that it no longer cared to live.
And there was my epiphany.
I realized that I had been able to help my so deserving son when he needed it. What more could a parent ask? It is a fact that Giacomino will leave us, and probably not too long from now, but I have been blessed with him for fourteen years of delight. And, at thirteen and a half, Maria already has lived longer than either of my first two precious whippets and has made us laugh every day of her life. It dawned on me that Bill is more than willing to take care of the dogs, and, I epiphed, that the trip to Sweden will be a once in a lifetime magical opportunity. I can spend the rest of this year practicing my dogs like crazy, so when we do get back to competition, we will rock!
And the book? You know what? This book is stinkin' good! I was telling my friend and cheerleader and advisor Rhonda about the main events in the climax, while we were on the phone yesterday. "Oh my God, I've got goose bumps all over," she cried. "Seriously, chills!" It is a story which is telling itself, through me. And I know, I know that everyone who cares about their dog will love this book.
So, I looked at the sad caged man with all the money in the world and I decided it would be a crime if I let the financial pressure - which I created - rob me of the incredible blessings heaped on my head. If I let Giacomino and Maria's fragile last days, or even their death steal from me that joy they have so freely given, I do them a terrible disservice. And if I don't finish this book, I believe it would be a crime against the generous spirit of my husband, and a slap in the face of the universe which told me to tell the story. And if I don't enjoy my trip to Sweden, then I'm just stupider than the stupidest of stupid city squirrels.
I don't know about you, dear readers, but I am going to go hug every single one of my nine precious hounds.
Then I'm going to give Bill a kiss.