Thursday, April 16, 2009

We're Home/Thank You/Figuring Things Out - part 4

(Carolyn's Early doesn't know he's missing a hind leg. He's a whippet.)

Swede William got in the van on Tuesday and we headed for Atlanta. Sort of. Sam I Am was not happy at being left home, and I sure wasn't happy about leaving him; he figured if ever there was a human in need of his special gifts, I was it. I worried that William would freak being the only canine occupant of the Warburton Whippet Wagon.

I should not have worried. Swede William was a s.t.a.r. No, he was a S.T.A.R. And the trip was longer than the seven hours it should have been. I drove the 2.5 hours to Nashville, and headed east on route 40, like I always do. Kind, dear friends kept me company on the phone, talking about everything and nothing. They talked, I croaked. I had done some serious harm to my vocal chords.

And then Heather called from Paducah.

"How's the trip going?" she asked.

"Great," I croaked. "I'm almost to Knoxville already."

[pause] "... Knoxville?"

As soon as she said it, I knew.

"Oh NOOOOOO," I groaned. "Oh, Heather, I'm on the whole wrong road, aren't I? I'm on I-40 and I should be on I-24. I'm heading home to Maryland instead of down to Atlanta."

Thank goodness she had called. I had gone about 150 miles out of my way. I got off, and studied my atlas and found a perfectly nice route south to reconnect me with I-24. It was snowing. Bill called. I told him what had happened, but tried to put a good spin on it. "Great blog material. And the sun has come out. It's a beautiful drive."

Susan called. I explained my navigational error which would significantly delay my arrival. I would miss seeing her and Early, to my bitter disappointment. She made my heart sing. She and Early had bonded magically. Jenna, her Queen-Whippet-Who-Never-Let-Another-Lowly-Dog-Touch-Her-Person was curling up with her head draped over Early's middle and sharing the hotel bed happily. Early seemed to know that Susan was his person. "If my friend held him for a minute and I went somewhere, his eyes never left me. Right away! It was amazing. I adore him. I feel like he's been a part of my life forever. It's a perfect fit, Patience!"

(Susan and Early at the hotel in Atlanta)

Ah, now these were welcome happy tears.

Swede William had ridden the whole way, including the extra hours in lost land, without a squeak. He also hadn't closed his eyes. He had been lying down, either flat on his side, or sphinx-like, but every time I snuck a glance, his eyes were open. Strange doings, this business of being the only whippet in the whippet wagon. But he wagged and danced at the potty stops, and happily jumped back in the number one crate, right behind the driver's seat. And he was so polite. He never even mentioned the duh detour we had taken.

Bill called when we were only about ten minutes from the hotel. "Honey, I hate to even mention this... Um... There are some clothes hanging on the bedroom door. Did you forget... ?"
"Oh my GAWD..." I croaked. Those were all my good clothes. My show outfit for showing William. A decent outfit for the Board meeting. A suit to wear to the hospital. I felt like turning around and going home. Seriously.

When we first arrived at the National I thought, "This was a big mistake." Everyone was missing Carolyn, and each kind expression from friends who understood, who knew about Giacomino, was just the spark to get a bonfire of screams burning in my throat. Couldn't you just see me walking my beige whippet through the Atlanta Hilton, with my eyes bugging out all mystified, and instead of saying hi how have you been, man your puppy is beautiful, opening my mouth and screaming AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA like the shower scene in Psycho??? I kept my mouth SHUT and nodded silent hellos. The booths - Carolyn and I had set up next to each other every year since 1997. It was coming a big whopper of a scream.... Not cool, Patience. Not cool! I went back outside and walked William around the grounds.

It all worked out. I managed not to scream, not once. And surrounded by dog people, dogs, friends, knowing that Early was doing so well, and comforted by Swede William who was just being SUCH a good boy, and staying in a room with the most generous kind people in the WORLD, the screams went away. For good.

I left Atlanta and pointed the Whippet Wagon with one little saintly beige whippet toward Toledo.

hug your hounds and your sisters


  1. Dogs are really special people. Mom said Early is beautiful. She has heard that dogs do not carry the baggage with them that people do and they seem to accept things better. She was telling someone about a Golden Retriever she had seen that lost both legs on his right side to cancer. His owner used a towel to get him used to balancing and he was able once again to jog with her. Early looks like he is doing great!!
    Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    Ernie & Sasha

  2. we're glad you are hanging in there. it seems like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and still you are doing okay. what a story!


  3. cheers to you, Early & Susan (& Swede William). Prayers for your sister.

  4. Dogs are very special, and I am always amazed at how much they understand. I just finished talking to my mother....everyday, she tells me about Emma, the "wild woman." That pup was a special gift before my father died, but now she is an incredible force for my mother with him gone.

    I am glad that the national was healing place for you. None of this makes any sense. Is there a purpose? Not always, but sometimes....I am still trying to figure that out.

  5. Bless your heart. You have really been through a lot lately. Take care of yourself.

  6. Well, the rest can believe what they want, but I know for sure and certain that my Sweet Willy Yum was keeping a close eye on you and keeping you safe.

    teka toy

  7. P, he's still more perfecter everyday :) thank you from the bottom of my heart :)
    ~ Susan

  8. I just read Parts 1-4 at one time. I have tears rolling down my face. The tears aren't just for your loses and difficult times but in response to your words. You have such a gift of capturing real life...that it brings me back to a similar period in my life and that in the midst of misery, I found humor and the "proverbial" silver lining.
    I am so sorry for your sister and I'll keep her in my thoughts. Until you get on an even keel again...stay close to Bill, the waggle and all those that love you and treat yourself well.

  9. Ahhh we feel as if we are going through this with you,,Thank goodness you have dogs(and Bill of course) to help guide you through...PL2 and A+A

  10. Are you SURE you weren't creeping toward Maryland because of the gravitational pull of WALLITUDE, pulling you to Delaware? Could you tell we were thinking about you?

    I am so happy that your pack is expanding. (THIRTY-SIX LEGS!) It is wonderful that you still ahve a piece of your friend with you, and I'm sure it was great comfort to her knowing her dogs could not be in better paws. I mean hands.

    wally t.

    (My ma ape says--12 legs good, 36 legs AWESOME!)

  11. It was nice meeting you and Swede William in Atlanta. I'm so glad to hear Early's new home is a perfect fit.

    Christina (Hazel & Tacy's mom)

  12. good dogs seem to sense when they need to be especially good. they respond to emotional fragility so well. hug your hounds indeed.
    hugs to you and yours,

  13. Oh Patience
    You have been through so much lately. We don't know what to always touch our hearts with your stories..bravo William!!!!!!

    I'm so glad that Early has found his place and love.
    What fabulous dogs
    smoochie kisses from ASTA

  14. patience, i feel so sad for you with so many terrible things all at once. i know you are a strong person but this must seem like too much to bear right now. i suppose all you can do is get through it and process the feelings later on when life has become more calm. this stuff will leave you a different person but there is no way round that. hugs.

  15. Sounds so totally like something my DUH Mom would do. I am sure Swede William could tell that you needed him to be a good boy, so he was. Us dogs are good like that.

  16. Love your dogs. I was born in Atlanta and lived 14 years on the Hooch about 5 minutes from Helen.

    We live in Maryland now. If you are up this way, give a yell. We will treat you to some crabs.


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