Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My thought for the moment:


hug your hounds - in private or splashed all over your facebook page!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hey BOOK Lovers! Read Kathryn Magendie now!

Want to read a good book - or four?

Early in my blogging adventure, I found the blog of a magical man in Canada. We became friends. I developed a deep affection and admiration for this person I'd never met. So much so, that when he died after contracting esophageal cancer, I mourned. Barry introduced me to another blog writer, Kat. "I think you will enjoy her writing," he said. "She's good."

And, as was often the case, my friend Barry was right. Kat is a good writer. In the time that I've 'known' her, (we've never met), she has had four, count 'em four, novels published. Four! Plus she contributed to a collection of short stories, The Firefly Dance, and she edits an online literary journal, Rose & Thorn.

Three of her novels are a trilogy: Tender Graces, Secret Graces, and Family Graces. (This link takes you to her publisher's website, where you can purchase the paperbacks. All of Kat's work is available in ebook form and from Amazon, etc., but since yesterday was Small Business Saturday, well, there you go. She also wrote a stand alone novel, Sweetie, which I loved, loved, loved. Oh I love them all.

Kat's characters are real. Her language is musical, lyrical, lilting, what? I'm no book reviewer, but I am a snobby reader. The writing takes me to impossible places, and I am right there, hanging on, smelling the mountain, and shaking my hair in the wind. You know the books. You pick up your book so that you can fall asleep after a long day. Sure enough your eyelids get droopy because you are tired, but the book makes you fight with all your strength to keep on reading, because you can't stop. You are sad when the book ends because the characters have become important to you and you'll miss them. You end up thinking about them years later, and you reread the book, finding a new layer this time.

I don't know how a writer gets 'discovered'. (Obviously! ha hahahahaha!) But I know this: you will enjoy her books.

So what are you waiting for!!!

Curl up with a great book, and

hug your hounds

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am a Tiger.


I worked the weekend. It wasn't a horrible weekend. I finished work and left the hospital at 8:00 PM on Sunday. 

Not bad at all.

Monday morning the dogs let us sleep until 6:15, woohoo! Fat Charlie had some diarrhea during the night, sometime after he asked and we let him go out at 1:30 AM. It wasn't hard to clean. He can't help it. I don't care. Oh I hate cleaning dogshit as much as anyone, but I don't care. He is the World's Best Oldest Dog In Our House.

Pottied dogs, fed dogs, washed dog bowls, fed me, remarked on day's news with Bill. (Mostly I grunted unintelligible 'unh's' while Bill remarked on the day's news stories.) Settled onto the couch in the teal hoodie footie (only have photographic evidence of the Big Pink Thing, so you'll have to imagine it in dark teal) to watch my new favorite morning show, CBS This Morning.

I'm too sexy for my ... to sexy for my ...  No, I'm really not.

I got up to pee. (That's a good thing!) Bill was in his study. I said, "It is purely amazing how my body feels after working the weekend. It feels like in the old days when I had a bad fall from a horse at speed. Even my toes hurt."

"Well," said dear Bill, "All you have to do today is keep the couch in place."

I walked into our guest bathroom. "BILL!" Crap! "There's a bird in the guest bathroom." I promptly walked out of the guest bathroom, closing the door so quickly that I caught part of the ass of my teal hoodie footie in it.

I don't do birds in the house. Bill doesn't do bats in the house, so it all works out. Bill opened the window and out flew the grateful bird. The guest bathroom was, er, bathed in birdshit. Walls, tub, sink, floor, toilet, paintings,  birdshit birdshit birdshit. It's a white tile floor.

I have a confession, or maybe two. Bless His Heart Bill returned to the guest bathroom with inappropriate cleaning equipment. He was going to try to clean up the birdshit birdshit birdshit. He is truly a Good Man. I (ever the ingrate) said, "That won't work. I'll clean it. Thanks anyway." And then I decided it could wait until the next time I had to get up.

The couch, the dogs, and the I were one.

My phone rang. The number was my unit at work. DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE!!!! Oh I had to. What if they had a question about something with one of my patients from the weekend.

"Croak," I said. (Translation: hello.)

"Hi, Patience." It was our unit coordinator. "Is there any way you could come in? Two people are out sick, and they're already up to six patients each, and we're still admitting."

"Croak," I said. (Translation: think, brain, think! Please think of an excuse! Come ON BRAIN, THINK!) The best I could do was to say I would check with Bill and call right back. Six patients is a nightmare. More than six is plain old dangerous. Oh how I wish I had a not my problem brain. All my life, I can't even watch a scary movie, because I can't do the not my problem. Bill would be my salvation.

"They are short at work and want me to come in." I just knew Bill would tell me no, you are way too tired, and I love you, and I'm putting my foot down. You get back on that couch and hold it in place!.

"Well, that's up to you," he said. And then he uttered the unutterable, the bastard traitor. "You do whatever you think is right."

I showered, dressed, grabbed a piece of bread, and went in. It was fine. Eight hours is a piece of cake! A tiny piece of cake. I had wonderful patients and I got to see my patients from the weekend who had stuff going on and I wanted to see them anyway. It's always nice when you can make other people's day better, and because of my your problem is my problem brain, I knew that just my being there made the five other nurses' days instantly better like magic. That's pretty darn potent.

Bill and I have tickets to see West Side Story at the Carson Center tonight. I might nod off, and I can't say I'm looking forward to leaving my dogs and couch, but I'm sure it will be fun once I get there. Now I need to walk the dogszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And then ... there's some birdshit I need to clean up. Even after magic, life goes on.

hug your hounds





Friday, November 16, 2012

A Fitting Life

photo credit: my dear friend Laurie Erickson
Do you ever feel that you were plopped into someone else's life? Or that your life is somehow a size too large or small? That whole drink me eat me Alice in Wonderland scene.

I do.

It is difficult to acknowledge, much less write about; then again, the writing gods have been partying elsewhere for so long, might as well.

"Might as well, as well as not, once the pants is down." I cannot say 'might as well' without hearing my sainted mother-in-law's voice. "Might as well, as well as not, once the pants is down."  Who knows where she got that, but it still makes me laugh.

I live in a southern city. On a river. I grew up, first in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, and then in the rolling horse country north of Baltimore, Maryland. My family was full of generations of educational snobs. Princeton, Vassar. My ancestors were Presbyterians and Quakers. I was confirmed in the Episcopalian church. I now work at a Baptist hospital. One of my co-workers, who was worried for my soul, asked, "Episcopalian? I've never heard of that. Is that like Amish?"

I sound funny here. Though I must admit to saying, more than once, at the end of a twelve hour shift, "Yes, I'm fixin' to get your pain medicine now." I'm fixin'. I've always been a parrot.

I love the people I work with. They are good people. Smart, caring, funny, highly skilled, and professional. Dedicated. And they are kind to me. In our crowded nursing station when someone asked who I would vote for, and I said, "President Obama," there was a stunned silence. Eyes met each others' but not mine. "Are you really?" They were still nice to me.

And then I say I have eight dogs. Two fifteen and a half year olds, a twelve year old, a ten year old, two six year olds, an almost two year old, and a yearling. Are any of them indoor dogs? "They all sleep in our bedroom," I say. Really! They say. They look at me a little sideways, with an involuntary narrowing of their eyelids. They feel compelled to tell me about a wonderful dog they used to have, who got hit by a car in front of their house.

I feel like I have landed on a planet that looks like Earth.

If you had ever told me that I'd be living without horses in a city, I'd have told you to keep smoking whatever you were smoking. Me without a horse? Not in this lifetime. After that lifetime of nothing but wide open countryside, I walk my dogs on sidewalks. The same sidewalks as the day before, and the day before that, and now it's been ten years of day before that.

I love it here. I love the people, and the spirit, and the heart of this place. I love Victoria's Secret push-up Angels Fantasies bras, too, but that doesn't mean they fit! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! If I'm going to shop at Victoria's Secret, I better find myself a pair of flannel PJs and the free matching slippers; or maybe just go for the slippers and call it a day!

I need a hair cut. Badly. Maybe that's all it is. There are times when I feel I fit just right. Any time I'm with my husband. (Oh, alright. Almost all of the time. That's the worst whack-a-doodle - when Bill and I get out of sync.) Being on the couch under a pile of whippets fits just fine, you may have noticed from my incessant Facebook photos. When I am listening to my patient who has just received a horrible diagnosis, or news of a cure, and my empathy makes a difference, or I'm re-positioning my hospice patient and am able to make them comfortable, that feels like a perfect fit.I sail through those moments.

Howsa bout it? Does your life fit? Is it just me being a spaz?

I know one thing that helps, so I'll pass it on:

hug your hounds

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fat Charlie is Okay

I was going to title this simply "Fat Charlie" but when you have a fifteen and a half year old dog, and you title your blog post "Fat Charlie" everyone would gasp and think that he died. So I added the "is okay" to prevent  heart attacks among Fat Charlie's many dear friends.





Here he is, right this very minute, lying next to my chair as I type. He's okay. He has laryngeal paralysis. It doesn't bother him mostly, but three times in the last year (most recently Monday morning before I left for work) his larynx has gone into spasm. He can't get air in or out. He gets so oxygen starved that he is incontinent and his legs slowly buckle. The first time it happened, I thought I was watching him die.

As he is about to lose consciousness, the larynx muscle doesn't have enough oxygen supply to stay in a spasm and it relaxes. Air goes whooshing in and out, and Fat Charlie looks up at me with big eyes that understand more than I can. The first two times it happened, I screamed for Bill in a panic. This last time Bill happened to be right there in the room. I calmly held Fat Charlie, and told him you're okay bud you're okay, and when he started getting some air in and out in big deep hungry gulps, it was Bill - my steady, one you want in an emergency, keep his head and assess the situation, Bill - who said, "Well. I am certainly glad THAT didn't happen while you were at work! My God, that was awful."

Now Bill understands why I screamed for him the other two times. In a high pitched help me I ain't birthin' no babies terrified Friday the Thirteenth aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Biiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllllllll kind of scream. By the time he got to me the other two times, Fat Charlie was already at the whooshing air in and out stage, and Bill (might have) thought I was being a nanny booboo. Now he understands.

Mama Pajama fell down our entire staircase the other day. She hates to be helped. Hates, hates, hates it. I try to get a gentle hold of her collar at the top of the stairs. She dodges. And wham! Thump! Crash! Down, down, down. My heart hits each step with her little sideways body. She gets to the bottom, stands up, and looks at me.

"Oh, Mama Pajama! Are you okay?"

Mama Pajama is okay.

I, on the other hand, have 25,007 new grey hairs.

Having two fifteen and a half year old dogs is not for sissies. Just sayin'.

Hug your hounds

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On the subject of sags

-----
I bent over to give Mama Pajama some fresh water and some scritches; it's part of our bed time ritual.

"Do you realize how much weight you've lost in your butt and your legs," asked Bill?

We have changed what we eat. Radically.

I looked at my thighs and, as best as I could, my butt.

"They sure are saggy," I said. "I have old lady saggy thighs."

"Yes," said Bill.

We laughed. He tried to make it better.

"I mean," he said, "you have other parts that sag much worse than your thighs."

We laughed more.

hug your hounds, and people who make you laugh

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Of Dreams and Friends


... I woke this morning from a dream about my late best friend, Alison. I was crying. Oh, thank God, it was only a dream.

I have a history of these dreams. I waited for two years to dream about my mother. She died when I was twenty. I looked forward to seeing her in my dreams. When I finally did, I dreamed I found her, alive and well. It had all been a misunderstanding. 

"You're alive," I cried! Thinking her to be dead had been a strange and terrible mistake, and she was not only alive, but glowing with health. "You're alive, alive, alive!!!"

"Yes." She dismissed my elation with a roll of her dream eyes, something she would never have done in real life. "I have a doctor's appointment. Can you drive me? I can't find my keys."

The dream was in dull black, white, grey. I drove my mother to the doctor's office, where we were told that she had cancer for real now, and was dying. 

Sucker punch.

I had that dream over and over again, and each time I woke sobbing and exhausted.

So, I should not be surprised that when I dreamed of Alison this morning, she was in a coma, and I was solely responsible for her care. I also had to walk the dogs - all of them, past and present, all at once - on a steep ledge in a slippery wet snowstorm. I came in from the walk and rolled my best friend Alison over, so she wouldn't develop bedsores, but my hands were so cold. I felt horrible because I wanted to put fresh linens on her bed, and a cute pair of flannel pajamas on her, but there was no time. I was late.

In real life, the real Alison and I loved to talk about our dreams and what they meant. She was the first I told about the dream about my mother. We spent hours together. Each of us in not great relationships. We rode our horses together. We spent hours driving to horse stuff. Alison was generous enough to take me and my horse in her truck and trailer. We talked and laughed and listen and understood and valued each other. We talked religion and spirituality. We talked personal growth and politics. We talked food and oh we talked about those relationships we were in, each of us wishing better for the other, and we talked horses, horses, horses. We talked family. We talked, and talked, and talked. We encouraged, supported, and believed in each other.

She went back to school - Johns Hopkins, no less - to get her Master's, and then her Doctorate. I went to nursing school and got remarried. We moved and lost touch. We reconnected because Alison found this blog, and we became friends on Facebook. Those missing years evaporated, poof, and unlike my dream of my mother, Alison had survived an unsurvivable cancer, and we were right where we had been. She was enamored of the whippet puppies, and was seriously considering one from my next litter.

And then my friend Alison, in real life, died. At the height of her career. Married to the love of her life, thank God, a wonderful man whom she adored. Inexplicably, she was gone; sudden cardiac death. 

Why did I dream of her last night? 

Because beautiful Ali the whippet had come to visit? Alison the person had thought Ali the puppy (then cleverly called Brindle Girl) was beautiful. Ali the whippet is so well-named, that when I am around her, it is as though there is a tangible part of Alison present. And part of her spirit. I can't put words to it, without sounding like a candidate for an intervention in a long term care facility. But it's real and powerful.

 Because I miss my friend Alison's professional voice in this maelstrom of political blah blah blah about economics? She would have made it all clear; that was her field and she was quickly rising to the top of it. She was brilliant. (Anyone who could make me understand economics had to be.) Paul Krugman quoted her.

Because I am at a Strange Place in my life? Oh how I wish she could read this and email me her thoughts. 

She would make me laugh about it, I know. I mean, acrophobic me walking my dogs up a steep, narrow, slippery, icy, frigid ledge in a blinding storm, while my comatose friend needed to be turned? Gee, what could it mean? We would laugh until the water we were drinking would come out our noses. (Okay, that would be me. Alison had more class. But we would have laughed until our bellies hurt.)

I miss her. 

And now I'll go and walk my dogs on this beautiful sunny day.


hug your hounds and treasure your friends





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

.. TEN! (Or The Kindness Of Friends And Strangers)

Mia and Ali are visiting. 
That means the canine population in this (crazy) house consists of:
  1. Fat Charlie who is 15 and almost a half
  2. Mama Pajama who is 35 minutes younger than Fat Charlie
  3. Delia who will be thirteen in March. (Oh how we miss her brother Luciano, who died in August.)
  4. Sam I Am, a youngster at 10 and a half.
  5. Swede William. He's six.
  6. Lindy Loo. She's six, too.
  7. Jabber who will already be two in December how is that possible.
  8. Baby Tindra who already turned one in September how is that possible.
  9. and 10. Jabber's litter sister Ali, and her housemate, the ever ebullient Mia.

And Bill went away. He went to McKinney Texas where he exhibited his work in a dazzling one man show at the Laura Moore Fine Arts Gallery. (If you clink on that link, and then click on portfolio, and then click on the first image - phew - you can see the paintings in the show. Which are, by the bye, for sale.)

Now, when Bill goes away and I have to work, Lee and Dee let out my dogs. Only this time Lee and Dee were going away too, and I would have their dogs oh..good..Lord. Enter dear friends and neighbors Deb and Karen and Steve to the rescue.

The dogs have been exemplary! Fat Charlie wasn't quite continent on the days I worked, but he did fine and Mama Pajama was excited to see her special friends. Delia and Sam I Am have been uncharacteristically gracious and have surrendered the best seats in the house to Mia - never imagined that, in my wildest dreams. Ali remembers that she was my darling pup pup and has snuggled, woo-woooed, and sparkled her way back into my heart, deep into my heart, that it's a Very Good Thing I am so fond of Lee and Dee. That's all I'm saying about that.

I've been walking them in three groups. (Today Bill walked Delia, so she isn't pictured, but she went on the first walk on the other days.)




The first walk was Sammy and Lindy Loo. We went a bit over a mile. The weather was perfect. Sixties and breezy.



The second walk was Swede William and Mia. We walked two and a half miles. During the first half a block we saw two squirrels. Two STINKIN' STOOPID CITY SQUIRRELS, who chattered at us and flicked their hideous bushy tails. I was ready; I held a leash in each hand. My arms are now longer. So much longer in fact that my knuckles are dragging on the ground when I stand. This will be quite helpful at work, as I will henceforth be able to empty foley catheter bags without ever bending down! And if I'm charting, and I drop my pen? Ha! Sweet!


The third walk made me happy just because; all these related Swedish Americans on one walk. Jabberwonkus, beautiful Alison, and spunky Tindra. (In the above photo, L to R are Tindra, Ali, and Jabberdude.) I was happy - for a moment, at least. One block from our home, a large saunter-y, penultimately evil C.A.T. spat at us. Oh, really? Whippet gods you think this is funny, don't you? Ali hates C.A.T.s.  Tindra? Tindra must have been a mouse which was tortured for days on end by a gang of C.A.T.s in her last life, so great is her loathing. And then there is Jabber who is only good. He takes after his Swedish grandmother, Sotis, and his American great granduncle,  Fat Charlie. He is purely goodness in a dog body. He is one of those rare souls who has no concept of the meaning of "NO", because he's never heard it applied to his dear self.

When we spied the devil C.A.T., Jabber looked at me and said, "Oops. A nasty! Over there, Dear Servant." Which is exactly the behavior I've been training for, so he got a Good Boy treat from my pocket. Good Boy! His sisters? I will skip over the events of the next several moments other than to let any neighbors reading this know that there wasn't actually an axe murderer wreaking havoc in the neighborhood at 8:30 this morning. It was just the whippets. Sorry.

I walk these days with Pandora radio in my ears. It makes the city walks less ... city? I listen to songs from my youth: Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Carol King, Elton John, John Mellencamp, and Abba. Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Rod Stewart, 60's folk, and 70's rock. I am a singer along-er. I was singing along as I walked past the Quilt Museum, when I thought I heard my name. I focused on the real world and saw a lady in the museum parking lot calling to me. I didn't recognise her.

"Patience," she called. "Are you Patience?"
"Yes," I said, pulling Sweet Baby James out of my ears.
"Oh! I thought you must be! I'm from Tennessee, and I read your blog! I knew you live in Paducah and you're always walking your dogs, so I thought that has to be Patience!"

Oh how happy this made me. And oh how sad. My poor, neglected, cobwebby blog.

"You make me laugh out loud," she said. "That Sexy/Taxi story! I could see it all, just like I was there!"

"That happened, um, right at that corner," I said, pointing a block over, to 4th and Jefferson. We spoke some more, me apologizing for abandoning my blog, she being gracious, acknowledging the difficulty of writing and maintaining a job.

I miss my blog. I especially miss my blog friends.

I thanked this kind and timely stranger for her kind words. I hadn't thought to ask her how she had found my blog. She mentioned that she had cats, for goodness sake! I put James Taylor back into my ears. We walked over three miles on that last walk, giving me a total of six miles today. 

I decided somewhere around Dolly McNutt Plaza that I would come home and write a blog.

So I did. 

hug your hounds and be grateful for the kindness of friends and strangers






Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Now Breathe


 photo Ober Kline


Bill had his gallbladder out on August 16th. Plain old laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Only, when his surgeon (whom I know professionally pretty well from work) came into the surgical waiting room to tell me everything went fine, he was not wearing his "everything went fine" expression.
He face said, "God I hate having to tell people stuff like this."

My heart screamed.

There was something wrong in the intra-operative  cholangiogram. (After they take out the gall bladder they put dye in the common bile duct to make sure a gallstone isn't lodged in the duct.) Only this didn't look like a stone. Or sludge. Or a benign stricture. It could be one of those things. But.

It looked like the infamous 'something else'.

Bill would need to have an ERCP. (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography). They don’t do that at any hospital in Paducah. It’s a long, risky procedure which makes malpractice rates go up and our gastroenterologists have plenty of business without doing ERCPs. Bill needed to have an ERCP so they could biopsy the common bile duct and the pancreas. To rule out pancreatic cancer. To rule out a malignant bile duct stricture.

This couldn’t be happening.


That was Thursday. On Sunday, Luciano was put to sleep. He hadn’t kept anything down for nine days, despite IV fluids, anti-emetics, and pain meds, and now the ultrasound showed that he had a mass on his pancreas. How was that possible? I had taken him in to Ol’ Poke ‘n Stick in the early spring, saying I thought something was wrong. Nothing specific.  I was afraid; Looch wasn’t quite himself.  All his blood work was fine, and we decided that I was being neurotic. I was happy. Now, he was lying in my arms, giving me a sweet kiss, and then he was quietly gone.
  photo Laurie Erickson

I was all tangled up in Looch and Bill and I was a wreck and my vets are so very, very compassionate. What a blessing they are in my life. Pure and simple.

The one doctor in a hospital forty-five minutes south of here who does ERCPs was out of the country.  We saw her nurse practitioner and finally got the ERCP scheduled on 9/11. We liked the office staff very much, and we liked the folks at registration at the hospital. Everyone had a ready smile and a sense of humor, and there was no waiting. The first day back from the doctor’s vacation (her European family had never met their grandson) was Monday the 10th, so we were grateful that they scheduled Bill on the 11th. (Though we worried – just a tinch – about jet lag.)

On Tuesday, August 21st I ran into our primary care doctor at work and I asked him about a CT scan. “Yes,” he said. “Yes we should do one. I’ll order it.” I saw Bill’s surgeon at work later that day and I told him I had asked about a CT scan. The surgeon’s eyes got huge and he patted/rubbed/grabbed my arm. (The surgeon is NOT a touchy/feely kind of guy. At all.) “A CT scan is fine, Patience, but he still  has to get the biopsy.”
“Yes, yes, we understand. It’s just … the waiting is awful, and at least the CT scan would be doing something. And if it’s normal, we can be happy about that.”
“Okay, of course.” (Still patting/rubbing my arm. Earnestly. ) “But he has to get the ERCP and get those brushings, even if the CT scan is normal. He can have a CT scan, sure. But make sure they do pancreatic cuts. They have to do pancreatic cuts.”

I ducked into the locker room and crumpled. My kind Nurse Director came in after me to see if I was okay. “It is inconceivable,” I bawled.

I am surrounded by the most wonderful people. My friends! Oh! How they put up with me! And  I am surrounded with kindness, compassion, and prayer at work. My Best Ever Charge Nurse quickly rearranged my schedule so that I would be off when I needed to be. My fellow nurses hugged me and switched around their schedules and prayed and stepped up.  I vacillated between feeling overwhelmed, and touched, and silly, and terrified.

Bill and I planned a Sludge Party. If we found out that all this fuss was because of some leftover gallbladder sludge in Bill’s Common Bile Duct, we decided to have a potluck, bring your own Sludge, party. We’d give prizes for the food that most resembled sludge, and for the best tasting sludge. We joked about pesto, guacamole, chocolate mousse.  Maybe hummus?

Bill was scared. I’d never seen Bill scared. In thirty years I’d seen him concerned, angry, sad, and dismissive, but I’d never seen him frightened;  he has such faith. He didn’t want to leave me and the kids. He didn’t want to have pancreatic cancer, or a malignant bile duct stricture.


The treatment of malignant bile duct strictures (biliary strictures) requires consideration of a number of factors, the most important being the extremely low survival and cure rates associated with the disease. Most patients die from malignant bile duct strictures within 6-12 months.

The ERCP was yesterday. A diverticulum arising from his duodenum was mimicking a mass and pushing on his Common Bile Duct. My New Very Favorite Thing in the World, a diverticulum. Oh how I love that sneaky little out-pouching of intestine! I may have to name my next whippet Diverticulum. I could call him Pouch! Warburton Duodenal Diverticulum: catchy, yes?

Bill is home. He spent a morphine-drunken night in the hospital, unable to relieve the pain from the ERCP, but the pain is abating now. All of those years prescribing morphine, and he’d never had it himself. He has a huge fat lip (apparently he is a difficult intubation) and he is feeling pretty puny. Isn’t that just the most wonderful thing? We have to wait for the official biopsies, but the specialist was confident and y’all better start planning your dish for the Sludge Party. Now I can miss Luciano, the way I should. He had a good life and was a sweet dog.

It feels so good to breathe again.

hug your hounds and everyone whom you hold dear

Friday, June 29, 2012

15th Birthdays Deserve a Blog Post!


On June 29, 1997 my husband and I had invited friends to the farm for the first steamed crab feast of the summer. Linda and her husband and Willow, Rhonda, Terrie, and I believe Amy was in town visiting. Sara and Jake could have been there and some non-doggy friends, too. I don't remember, as the coming events have obscured the details in my memory.

I had the outdoor tables all ready in the generous shade of the old beech and hickory trees in the front yard. Newspaper covered all, held in place by stones. Mallets and nutcrackers were distributed, and rolls of paper towels made lovely centerpieces. Several tubs had been borrowed from the horses and filled with ice, beer, soda, and water. Bill returned with the bushels of crabs and we were ready.

Lilly was due around July 1st. Terrie called. "Lilly's in labor."

"What?"

"Lilly's in labor!"

"But all of these people are going to be here in the next half hour."

"That's nice, but Lilly's having her puppies."

"Oh my God!" (I react so well in an emergency.) "Lilly's having her puppies?" (There we go: the train finally pulls into the synaptic station.) "Right! I'll be right there!"

Again, my memory fails. Maybe Rhonda had spent the night at Terrie's? At any rate, soon Terrie, Rhonda, Linda, and I were ministering to dear Lilly, while Bill and guests ate crabs. (Terrie's house was three miles from our farm.)

I was a newbie at this whole whelping thing. I had been present when my Gracious plopped out Willow, but that was all there was to that. I had foaled a fair number of mares, but that was of limited help here. Terrie was our expert, and of course Rhonda had been a labor and delivery nurse, but at that time she was an executive in a medical publishing conglomerate. In fact, Linda, Rhonda, and I were all R.N.s. For what that was worth.

Lilly had her first two pups without a problem. They were gorgeous!!! The third one was big. I called our vet. She was in surgery, so her husband - a beef cattle farmer - parroted my words to her, and her words back to me.

"She's had two puppies, and this third one seems stuck at the shoulders," I said.

"She's had two puppies, and the third one seems stuck at the shoulders," he said.

"Is the bitch in any distress?" asked my vet in the background.

"Is the bitch in any distress?" my vet's husband asked me.

"No."

"She says no."

"Okay, have her push one foreleg back, and pull gently on the other, during the next contraction, pulling down toward the belly, not out."

"She said push ..."

"I heard her," I said. "Will I hurt the bitch?"

Okay, time out. When I asked if I would hurt the bitch, I meant could I cause her injury. I have told you, dear readers, that my vet's husband raised beef cattle. When they calve, if there are problems, they hook up a tractor and chains to the calf, put the tractor in gear, deliver the stuck thing, and mom and baby go out and eat grass.

My vet's husband did not relay my question to his wife. "Well, of course it will hurt! She's having puppies! Just get the puppy out of there." (His voice inflected, "You little twit," but he was too polite to put that into actual words.)

I did as I was told and out sluiced a big, white pup. He had black ears and a brindle patch over one eye and was a huge white marshmallow. I had made a list of names from Paul Simon lyrics. "Well, there's Fat Charlie!" I said. "He'll be Warburton Archangel." No one else wanted him, and I had named him, so he was mine.


Jessie was born. Perfectly marked, breathtakingly beautiful even at the gerbil stage, and we knew she was exactly what Linda had ordered. CH Warburton Hearts And Bones, SD, CR, OTR, Delta Pet Partner. Best of Breed at the Eastern Supported, Therapy Partner for ten years or more. Everybody loves Jessie.


Jessie and her Linda

While  we were still oohing and awing over Jessie, without any effort on Lilly's part, a tiny puppy fell out into the world. The runt. She was split-faced like Fat Charlie, with the same black ears, but she had brindle down three quarters of her right front leg, and a brindle saddle on her back. "She has a pajama leg," I said.

Mama Pajama.

When the seventh pup was born, Terrie and Rhonda took Lilly out to potty. "I'll clean up the whelping box," I said. I moved the pups aside, gathered up the dirty sheets, and placed them at the top of the stairs. Luckily I did not put them in the washing machine. Rhonda came in before Terrie and Lilly. I boasted about how fresh and clean the whelping box was.

"Um, Patience?" said Rhonda.

"Yes?"

"You are missing a puppy."

"No I'm not. There are one, two ... oh my GOD!"

We ran to the dirty laundry pile. All balled up, toasty and happy as could be, was the little pajama legged puppy.







She wasn't supposed to be mine. The plan was we would keep her for six months and then she was going to be a service dog for a woman who was hearing impaired. Only the woman's circumstances changed. Thank God. Oh THANK YOU GOD!!!!

Mollie, Colby, Breezy, and Emma are no longer on this good green earth. They were treasures who made their people's lives better.

But today we celebrate Jessie's, Fat Charlie's, and Mama Pajama's FIFTEENTH birthdays.


Today we celebrate.

hug your hounds, tight to your hearts


Monday, April 9, 2012

The difference between dogs and humans, part 2




Time means nothing to a dog.

To us, it's everything. We measure our lives in years, our existence in weeks, days, minutes. We make split-second decisions, and get paid by the hour.

Dogs measure their lives in love, their existence in companionship, fun, purpose, and treats. They live to welcome us home, to sleep by our side, to chase a fly, and for bacon.

We have so much to learn.

hug your hounds

photo credit Joe Stewart

Friday, April 6, 2012

Do I Have What It Takes?



Right.

So.

Couldn't talk about this for a couple of weeks. Well, I could, but it would not have been appropriate. I wrote a quickie synopsis of what's involved in Getting Your Book Published on my Fans Of Mama Pajama Tells A Story group on Facebook:

1. write the damn thing
2. revise the living poop outta it
3. send it to your Beta readers (oh yes, I am talking fancy writer-speak. Impressed?)
4. get it back from the Betas and revise all over again
5. have a little break down. or two. three is a nice round number.
6. (here comes the fun part)
7. begin to query agents. LOTS of theories on this, if you're an unpublished writer with not a lot of writing credits, maybe it's best to start querying young, hungry, new agents, or what the heck you can start at the top with NYC agencies. you send a query (type of book, word count, synopsis, your writing bio, first 6 - 10 pages).
8. expect the rejections to come in at 4 - 6 weeks post query
9. IF IF IF IF an agent likes your query they MIGHT MIGHT MIGHT request your full manuscript.
10. and then say "No thanks" and you start all over again

My excitement came a couple of weeks ago. Foolishly (and not living up to my name) I queried two agents. BIG time NYC agents. Presidents of the agencies, not some hot to trot brand new need some clients young 'uns. Nope. And here's the dorky part. I knew my book wasn't ready. But I queried. I figured I'd get rejected, but maybe the big shots would have suggestions for my query.

I've read that THREE out of 10,000 queries end up with a request for a full manuscript. One out of 80,000 ends up published.

So, I figured, what the heck.

And the day after I emailed my query, I got a reply: they wanted my full manuscript.

Oh. My. God.

I'll skip the part where I was at lunch at work when I checked my email and saw the request for my manuscript and started to scream and cry and called Bill who thought I had accidentally killed someone and said right away, "We'll get through this, Patience, no matter what it is," (oh how I love him), and I finally got out the part about them wanting the manuscript, and then he started to scream and cry.

Oh my God, they wanted my manuscript!

And I knew it wasn't ready.

My name is Patience. The name of this (my) blog is Patience-please. Every time someone says my name I get a reminder: patience, patience, PATIENCE.

I worked for six hours on the manuscript the next day and then emailed it to the fancy president of the fancy literary agency. Knowing it wasn't ready.

For two weeks I didn't get a rejection. I knew one was coming; of course one was coming. You've no doubt heard of the SIXTY rejections over the THREE AND A HALF YEARS of revising of the NYT best seller The Help. I couldn't sleep. In my little heart of hearts a silly voice would sing, "They're thinking of what a great movie it would make!" I had fantasies about the book tour in my (imaginary) motor home with Bill and all of the dogs. I told Bill, "It will get rejected. I will not go into a deep depression. I will soldier on, continue to revise, and keep querying. My God! I got a request for a manuscript on my first query! It's all good!" And in my little heart of hearts that silly voice whispered, "They won't reject. They'll offer you a contract. It is this easy."

The rejection letter came yesterday, an hour before folks started to arrive for Bill's opening. It was a personal, kind, lovely letter and it even included suggestions! That is huge! The big fancy NYC agent actually read the whole manuscript, and then she took the time to write a personal note and she included feedback. HUGE.

"Bill, it has to be okay with you, and with me, if I give up on this book and live my life as a normal person. You know, go to work, play with my dogs, go to movies." We were lying in bed, after hosting a couple hundred people in the house and gallery for the show. Food and wine were served, clean was the house, spruced was the yard. Bill and Patience were pooped.

In the morning - this morning - Bill held me and said, "You won't give up."

"But it has to be okay with both of us if I do."

"Yes, but you won't."

hug your hounds

Friday, March 30, 2012

Life with Two Very Old Dogs

14 years

Only my very new readers won't recognize Fat Charlie and Mama Pajama. They are litter mates who were born in June of 1997, which - for the math-challenged folks like me - means they'll be fifteen in June of this year.

Fifteen.

3 months

They have been best pals. They grew up chasing each other, curled up together, playing tug of war with countless toys. I don't understand when people say it's a bad idea to keep two puppies. How could seeing the above photo all the time in real life be a bad idea? 

They are fragile now. Our twisting, steep, narrow stairs are a nightmare. Shoot, the four steps from the yard to the porch and from the yard to the breezeway are life threatening. The two old dogs don't want my help. "I can do this," they say. As I approach to help, they get a "Oh no you don't" look on their sweet faces and they hurl themselves -- OH LORD PLEASE WAIT -- with varied levels of success. Or (crash) failure.

My heart skips several beats. 

I congratulate them "You made it!" or I rub their owies and sympathize.

Mama Pajama will feel around with a front foot for the first step up to the porch. Seeing her do this ... I don't know how to share with you, dear readers, the effect that simple action has on me. Can you imagine? I break a little bit, and I'm impressed with her resourcefulness, and I think of her flying in first in a Best In Field run, and of her jumping in my arms light as an unspoken prayer. Landing so softly that I didn't have to catch her; landing with a paw on either side of my neck and a whisper of here I am, your darling Mama Pajama, and here I'll stay in your arms.

Fat Charlie wears Poise Pads in a belly band at night. I spread incontinence bed pads all over the upstairs before we go to sleep, and pick them up in the morning. Fat Charlie, who never once had an accident in the house, and if another dog did? Oh he would look just as guilty as sin. Distraught. Somebody peed in the house, this is not a good day! 

His aim is pretty darn good, and what doesn't get caught by the Poise pad mostly ends up on the Chux. And I have plenty of cleaning products.


And then there are mornings like today. My two Very Old Dogs woke up full of piss 'n vinegar! They were jumping (in a kattywonkus, tilt o' wheel kind of way) and wagging and bouncing Good Morning cheer all over me. 

They raced each other down those Nightmare On Elm Street stairs: clump thump crash made it! I opened the kitchen door and both of the stinkers skipped the four steps to the yard entirely. They launched! OH DEAR GOD, PLEASE LAND ON ALL FOURS!

They did. 

Mama Pajama ran a few strides and then did her reigning horse spins. I think she whirled ten times without stopping. When she did come to a standstill, it was more of a wobble, but she wore a huge grin, from her toes to her sweet little nose. 

Fat Charlie did laps. He ran full speed the length of the yard. A whole 120 feet. Even in his dotage when he pours it on, he covers some serious ground. Only the steering doesn't work so well. I cover my eyes but squint through my fingers. Mama Pajama ducks in the nick of time. I can breathe now; Fat Charlie has stopped to pee. His breath comes in raspy 'hekhs'. Happy raspy 'hekh, hekh, hekhs'. 

And that, dear readers, that makes for a glorious day. Two Very Old Dogs at 6:30 in the morning and my heart is so full of joy and ... oh, bless them.

hug your hounds

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Radish RULES!

Radish is whippetdom's most favorite root vegetable. (Now there is a sentence you won't read every day!) She belongs to a friend and lives in Virginia.

Prepare to be stunned, bedazzled, excited, confounded, awed, stupefied, astonished, electrified. And then, check this out:




Is that not the MOST amazing skill you have ever seen? Yes. It is! It's already got over 202,000 views!!!

Now, Rads has already got a gig on a Japanese TV show, and she's working on Letterman, Ellen (I just think she has GOT to get on Ellen!) and would she not be the PERFECT mascot for the Olympic Volley Ball teams?

You can read more about Radish HERE. And you can help her effort by sharing her video EVERYWHERE, and by going to her store, HERE. Because you know you want the coolest whippet root veggie ball bopping tee shirt ever, and I know it too!

hug your hounds, whatever their talents may be! (Mine excel at couch hogging.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Day In The Life Of A Puppy


Puppy: Pssssssssssst. (waits a second) Psssssssssst!
Human: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz mmph rrrrgh (rolls over)
Puppy: Hey! Hey! Birds are chirping, let's get up! Hey!
Human: Oh for the love of God, Puppy, it's 2:30 in the morning. Damn these stooopid southern mockingbirds, do they not know it's the middle of the night?
Puppy: Well, since you're up, I think I have to pee.
Human: Oh crap. Come on. (takes puppy outside)
Puppy: Cool! Here's my ball and the moon is bright enough, let's play!
Human: Pee.
(puppy pees)
Human: Good puppy. Come on.
Puppy: Throw it once? You know you want to!
Human: PUPPY GET IN THIS HOUSE. NOW.
Puppy: Okay!
(they both go back to sleep)
Puppy: Pssssssssssssssssst. (waits a second) Pssssssssssssssst!
Human: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz mmph rrrrgh (rolls over)
Puppy: Hey! Hey! Sun's up! Rise and shine, human o'mine!
(human gets up)
Puppy: Good morning, good morning,  to youoooooooooooooooooo! 




Human: yawn
(puppy and human eat breakfast)
Puppy: Done with that bowl?
Human: Here, you can lick.
Puppy: nom nom nom. Oh my stars look at this, it's a SQUEAKY TOY!!!!! Let's play! Squeak squeak squeak. Squeak squeak squeak. Squeak squeak squeak. Squeak squeak squeak. Time for our walk!
Human: Time for our walk!
Puppy: Oh boy oh boy oh boy you are the best human ever ever EV-verrrrrrrrrrrrr!
(they go for a walk. human takes a shower and dresses for work.)
Puppy: I don't like the looks of this. Not one bit. Oh yeah, time to hide. (puts head behind chair with butt sticking out big as day) Phew! Safe. Can't find me here.
(human grabs puppy and puts puppy in crate with yummy stuffed Kong)
Human: I'll be back at lunch. Be a good puppy.
Puppy: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Oh hey, what's this nom nom nom.
(later)
Puppy: Uh-oh. I have to pee. Hellooooooooooo? Um, maybe if I shred this blanket, it will take my mind off...
(human gets home for lunch)
Puppy: ... MY BLADDER!!!!! You're home! I love you love you love you !
(human opens crate door)
Puppy: Oh you are the best human in the UNIVERSE! Hello! Wa-hooooooooooooo! It's a wonderful world!
Human: Oh honey, you dribbled. Out we go, quick quick!
(they go out into the yard)
Puppy: WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

(human plays with puppy, eats lunch, lets puppy lick plate, returns puppy to crate)
Puppy: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
(human gets home from work)
Puppy: Hello!!! How was your day? Mine's been awesome so far. Shall we go a'walking? It's been forever since we had a nice walkies. OH YES!! That's the ticket! Good good human! I love you!
(they go for a walk)
Puppy: Look! Grass! I LOVE grass. nom nom nom.
Human: No eating grass! It will make you puke. Come on, sweetheart!
Puppy: Look! An e-vile city squirrellie! Bark Bark Bark! Gnash teeth! RAWR!!! I LOVE e-vile city squirrellies!!! LOVE to bite them up to bits!
Human: Ouch.
Puppy: Whatch doin' on the ground, silly human? Here, I'll lick your face because I LOVE YOU!
(human gets up and checks out bleeding palms and knees; not too bad, just some scrapes.)
Puppy: Here we go! LOOK! A big dog! HI BIG DOG I'M ADORABLE!
Human: (shortens hold on leash) Puppy, the big dog might not like puppies.
Puppy: Don't be ridiculous. Everybody loves me! I'm ADORABLE. HI THERE BIG DOG!!! Whoa! That is NOT a nice dog at all. Move along human. A little faster now. Hurry.
(they get home, eat dinner, lick plates)
Human: hmmmm. Wonder what my Facebook friends have been up to?
(sits at the computer)
Puppy: Let's play!
Human: Go lie down.
Puppy: I'm more fun than any stinking computer! I'm irresistible! Wag wag wag!
Human: GO LIE DOWN!
Puppy: Well, you don't have to get all huffy. Geez. Hmmmmm. what to do what to do what to do. La la la dee da.
(puppy goes off in another room)
(puppy comes back)
Puppy: Oh human? I have a surprise for you!!! [puppy giggle] I have a secret! I made a little poopie in the back of the bedroom all by myself and no one knows but me!
Human: What is that smell? PUPPY!!! You didn't!!!
Puppy: Uh-oh. 
(mess gets cleaned up, puppy goes out, human gets ready for bed)
Human: Come on sweetheart, time for bed.
Puppy: I LOVE bed!
(they go to bed)
Puppy: Have I ever told you that you are the BEST thing in my whole world? Because you are the BEST thing in my whole world and I love you like crazy.
Human: Have I ever told you that you are the BEST thing in my whole world? Because you are the BEST thing in my whole world and I love you like crazy.
Puppy: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Human: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


hug your hounds

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh My Heart

This is our youngest whippet, Tindra, when she was ten weeks old. (Photo by her co-breeder, Laurie Erickson) Tindra is now six months old.

This is one of our oldest whippets, Mama Pajama, when she was around ten weeks old. She will be fifteen years old in June. Her brother, Fat Charlie, is our oldest whippet. He was born about an hour before Mama Pajama.

Mama Pajama and Tindra have a special relationship. Oh my heart.

A bit of background. Mama Pajama smiled and wagged her way through her youth. She jumped up into my arms and landed as light as a giggle. And if you were a Very Special Person in her world, she would jump into your arms, too.

Mama Pajama was fast. She was the number one Lure Coursing whippet in the country. She was one of the smallest whippets competing, but only in actual size. She had the biggest heart ever. And she told stories. She rarely barked or woowooed or rawred, but after she landed in your arms she would put a paw on each side of your neck and look you in the eye and tell you all sorts of stories. My husband Bill and my dear friend Linda heard the most. They were Exceptionally Special Persons.

On May 12, 2003 we had an appointment to put Mama Pajama to sleep. She had a horrid disease. A vasculitis, stemming from a wasp sting, which made her immune system go crazy and she attacked her own microscopic blood vessels. Her ears rotted off. She lost a lung. Her kidneys stopped working. She was dying. And on the morning of that awful appointment, while her hind legs were swollen to the point of splitting, and her heart rate was over 200, and she could barely raise her head, she looked at me and said, "Not yet."

I cancelled the appointment.

She got better. And better. Four years ago she went into a complete remission. We were able to stop the prednisone. Her life was different than it had been before the disease, but it was an okay life. She stayed to herself. She was afraid to be bumped by any of the other dogs. My fearless Mama Pajama who dusted Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Irish Wolfhounds in Best In Field runs now cowered and trembled and slunk away if her brother's tail brushed her when it wagged. Oh my heart.

Along comes Tindra. Puppy Tindra. Another soul who smiles and wags her way through life. "Hey, Great, Great Auntie Mama Pajama, Your Worship, Your Awesomeness," says Tindra. "Whatcha doing? Want to know what I'm doing? I'm going to dig a hole chase a bug capture a dandelion squeak the ever living daylights out of this squeaky toy, do you want to play?"

If any other dog or human or any living being asked Mama Pajama that question now, she would hunker down and wince a bit and say, "Careful there, I'm fragile."

When Tindra asks, Mama Pajama wags and says, "Oh maybe I would, if only for a minute. Yes, yes, I will play with you, my dear."

Oh. 
My. 
Heart.



hug your hounds



Monday, February 20, 2012

Novel excerpt 02-20-2012

In which Hope and Proper get to run off for Best of Breed.


photo credit: Steve Surfman, taken around 1998


     The crowd, the field, the world hushed. Everyone focused on the two whippets. Even the hounds in their vans were unusually silent.
     “Judges, ready?”
     They waved from the middle of the field.
     “Lure Operator, ready?”
     “Ready.”
     “Handlers, are you ready?”
     “Ready!”
     The Huntmaster motioned to the Lure Operator, and the bunnies zipped away.
     “Tally ho!”
     It was a long course, 960 yards, with some formidable straight-aways paired with quick sharp turns, and five changes of direction. The two whippets took off in unison, looking like two miniature winged horses pulling the same celestial chariot. They raced down the first long, straight run. After eighty yards, Proper was a half a length in front of his little sister. The lures whipped around a pulley, making a sharp left. Hope was on it like the smile on her woman, not losing any momentum and flying out of the turn. Proper turned better than the lure operator (or anyone else watching) thought a dog his size could. After all he’d been chasing his sister in the yard and the back fields for his whole life; he had plenty of practice.  But she had gained a length on him, which he made up on the straight, edging past her again. The lure whipped to the right, making nearly a ninety-degree turn, and Hope was there with it, overtaking her brother. She was pure athletic poetry. Not a wasted drop of energy. Proper pulled up even with her just as the lure turned, less sharply this time, and once again the two were stride for stride.
     The collected dog lovers started to shout. They weren’t even aware of their yelling; they just couldn’t contain all that admiration. This is what they each hoped for every time they started with a new pup. This was beauty. Sheer perfection. What people felt when they watched Man O’War run. What the millions of people felt who watched Secretariat win the Belmont by thirty-one lengths. It didn't matter that this wasn't millions of people. It didn't matter that there were no television cameras or foreign press. They were watching perfection in action, and they felt the hairs on their arms stand prickly. They grabbed the person standing next to them and they heard themselves crying out, “Look at that! Look!
     The two whippets chasing the lure didn’t know anything but the joy from the running.
     Run!
    The lure made another turn, the next to the last turn, and the two were even; nose for nose, pulling and digging, stretching for more in each stride, flying. Their muscles straining. Lungs on fire. The humans screamed.
     Run!
   The last turn was a stinker. A hairpin turn to the right, which would bring them back to the crowd. Proper’s greater weight and longer stride carried him wider than his sister, who felt her advantage and sailed on home, three lengths ahead of her brother. The entire gathering of hound-loving humans exploded in whoops, cheers, and old-fashioned applause. The two dogs wagged, breathless, feeding on the wonderful happiness emanating from the crowd. Neither of the two could understand why their own Emily and their friend Laura had the leaky eyes that humans get when their souls hurt. But they did their best to lick up the tears with their smiling tongues.
     “Woo-hoo! That was fun!” they said together.
     Emily walked Hope and Proper to cool them down and let them catch their breath, letting them drink sips of water every so often.
     “I am so very proud of you two,” she said. “I don’t know when I’ve felt this happy. Never. That’s when.”

hug your hounds

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Novel Excerpt 02-16-12


image (C) Bill Renzulli, used with permission :-)

When Emily got the two whippets out of the van, Zeke was a little excited, too, though he was staid compared to Hope. She was zig-zagging around on her lead, wagging her tail, and grinning at her Emily. Fun! This looks like fun! They walked on the grass outside a large building, and Hope could smell all sorts of different dogs.

“Holy schmoly what the heck is that hairy monster?”

Little Hope felt every hair along her back prickle to full attention, and she heard herself sound the alarm. “Danger! Danger! Hairy MONSTER!” She had never in her young life seen such a big, hairy dog.

“Hope!” cried Emily. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard you bark before! You actually do have a voice. It’s alright, sweetie, it’s just a Malamute.”

“Oh it’s just a Malamute,” barked Hope. “Whatever the heck that is, but good grief, what do you know about danger? You’re only a human. Oh my stars!”

Hope raised herself to her tallest, by standing on her tippy-toes. “Get back! Get away from us! I’m a very important protector of my human, who doesn’t have the sense to let us put her safely in the van, obviously. Hey, Uncle, a little help here?”

The terrified puppy glanced sideways at Zeke, who was unfazed by the Hairy Monster. Maybe he hadn’t heard her.

“Look Out. Warning. Danger. Back off, Hairy Monster, you don’t want me to use the power of my teeth! They are sharp and strong, let me tell you.”

Her little body bounced with each bark, legs stick straight, tail up, neck stretched tight as a tug o’war toy to make herself look as big and imposing as a nine month old, skinny little Whippet puppy could look. The Malamute waved his huge tail over his back and acted friendly and non-threatening. Hope could not believe what she heard her Emily say next.

“Could my puppy meet your dog? She’s never seen a Malamute.”