September 24, 2018

White Dog was helping me make pumpkin cheesecake. The list of eager volunteer supervisors was so long, we had to gate off the kitchen leaving only Nilla (lying quietly on her blanket) in the room with us. The others pressed around the doorway and cried.

"Anchovies, spinach, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and bell peppers on pasta with a squirt of fish oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan will be the main course," White Dog told me but I think it was as much to tease her siblings as it was to inform. "Then, of course, the cheesecake while we sing."

Today is Bailey's very first Gotcha Day with the White Dog Army and we are celebrating. It is extra special because we know that just a few weeks ago Bai also turned eight years old (she was an owner surrender so we have some information we usually are missing).

Our Sky-Eyed Girl walked in to our home knowing destiny was being fulfilled. We needed her calm, elegant, gentleness and her clever way of intervening without being noticed to keep peace. Bailey is unflappable.

Not that Our Girl does not have a streak of mischief, "character" we call it here in the White Dog Army. She is a notorious counter surfer, drinks from the toilet, loves tissues, and can be (for her size) quite a stealth thief. But her eyes sparkle with love and she gives kisses as she assumes forgiveness every time...and always gets it.

Tonight we will honor and celebrate our most wolf-like "nearly" white one ("Well, she does have some patches," Nilla ruled) with a feast, tributes, music (she is a big fan of momma's eclectic tastes so we will be driven by the moment)...and LOTS of family love.

And we will share highlights of your year of "firsts":
She came wrapped in a blanket of love from Breeder Release Adoption Services.

Happy Gotcha Day, Sweet Bailey! Like momma tells you every day...you ARE our perfect fit!


September 23, 2018

White Dog nodded toward Tizenegy. "Dad, you better give Tiz some extra attention, he was missing you LOTS while you were away. You might notice his liquid "love letters" around the house. Honestly, he can be so nervous sometimes. I TOLD him you were coming home."

Steve and I met Beth, in town from Virginia, for dinner tonight. As usual when we left we told the White Dog Army where we were going and promised a special treat when we returned. Since it was a"school night," (Steve has to be into work early tomorrow) we told them it would not be a late outing.

When we walked in the door, Steve greeted each member of the Army and cupped Tizenegy's head. In response to White Dog's comment, he said to his boy, "Go wait for me on your bed. Let me clean up your spots and then you and I can have a little special time. What do you say?" Tiz excitedly scampered off and then back to Steve's side three times before our OCD baby actually sat wagging on his bed.  Steve did what was needed as he called out encouragement to Tiz.

A few minutes later Steve walked into the office. "OK Buddy, here I am!" He looked to the corner and this is what he saw:
The anticipation was overload for our old man.

Quietly, Steve backed out of the room and went out to the kitchen to prepare dog dinners. Steve fretted about his unkept promise but Pearly reassured him. "Don't worry, dad, as soon as he hears kibble hitting bowls he will be out." And sure enough...


September 22, 2018

White Dog started the debate that comes up this day every year. Is today, the Autumnal Equinox, the beginning of Autumn or is it, as she and I believe, the middle, the center of the season with an equal amount of Fall before and an equal amount after? It is a fun debate that has been part of our "celebration" ritual for years. It is a ritual that includes the first official homemade pumpkin empanadas of the year (fresh pumpkins are showing up at the Growers' Market, the search for the first leaf that has changed color and fallen, switching out the weed torch for the leaf composter...more outdoor time and window open cool nights.

Beginning or middle of the season, the Autumnal Equinox calls us back to ancient times and honoring the earth's changes. A time of bittersweetness, golden light, and earlier nightfall, we enter into the season that instinctively brings us to more cocooning, more treats. more naps.

September 21, 2018

White Dog worries when any member of the White Dog Army is having an issue and Nilla's declining cognition is a hard one to accept. WD knows that Nilla receives the best of care and all of the best supplements, assistance, and encouragement that there is. But she also has witnessed the disease take its toll on other members of the WDA so she knows that there is no "magic" cure. We can slow the progress but old age dementia is a disease of stable times and slippery slopes.

Nilla this week has experienced a period of sliding. For nights she went almost entirely without sleep as she paced in the kitchen. Neither melatonin nor the calming herbs eased her into rest. I could hear her throughout the night, her tags jingling as she moved about inside the gated room.

Weaning her off of the antibiotics from her surgery left her system unsettled and unpredictable. Her inability to know she had to go left her shamed even though we reassured it was not her fault. Nilla was timid and stressed that she was a "bad" girl. The first days of post-op we also had the challenge of cleanup without wetting sutures.

We have found that changes in weather and season affect her confusion; this has been a weather week that was all over the board. Fortunately, she is not fearful but the disorientation leaves her nervous.

In her nighttime wakefulness and now even into the day, Nilla has begun ignoring her mattress, critical for old bones getting proper support and rest. She has all week, chosen to sleep on the bare floors and consequently struggles to rise when her joints get stiff. Even temptations of different sleep surfaces have been rejected. I hope this is just temporary.

White Dog told me HER clue to Nilla's most recent challenges was that Nilla actually wanted to just rest in my arms with her head against my heart. "You know, momma, Nilla is not a great cuddler. She likes a few minutes of attention but then she wants down. This week our senior lady has nestled gratefully into your arms and pressed against you...for long stretches at a time. Your security and heartbeat are grounding her."

Growing old is not easy, I tell both my girls. I point to my own aches and sometimes forgetfulness. White Dog laughs and kisses me as she reassures that I am as young and vibrant as ever. Nilla, well Nilla leans into me and quietly whispers, "I understand momma, I do."


September 20, 2018

White Dog laughed. "Who knew there was a term for it?"
I hugged her. "NOT that the White Dog Army EVER resorts to it!" White Dog replied, "I sense a bit of sarcasm, momma!"


September 19, 2018

White Dog subtly backed out of the room.

"Whatcha got, there,Opal?" I asked my Sparkling Girl who just came in from the yard. She tried to turn her back and hide what she was chewing upon.

Opal is known to indulge in pretty disgusting stuff she finds blown over the fence and enjoys a poop snack every now and again. But NOT IN THE HOUSE is my rule; what I can't see...goes the saying.

I figured this was as good a time as any to seriously practice "Bring It" with My Girl. I put on the Momma tone and gave the command. She looked at me and turned away. "NOW! Bring IT!" I repeated. Opal was conflicted. She always wants my approval but whatever she had was so irresistible. She looked at me for a long moment, then slunk over with whatever it was tightly locked behind her teeth.

Then we began the "Drop It" portion of drill. She knew by then that she was not going to win and whatever it was was too big to swallow.

She dropped it at my feet. "Good Girl!" followed by "Opal this is a Wasp NEST!" As I scrambled to encapsulate it lest it be active. My empty coffee mug fit over the architecture perfectly. I did not see any wasps but dared not risk the chance that Opal had been stung inside her mouth.

She was NOT happy as I held her between my legs, one hand on her collar to keep her from bolting and probing her gums and tongue with the fingers of my other. All of this while trying to push away a curious White Dog Army interested in our game AND why the coffee mug was on the floor.

She was fine. I whispered a prayer of thanks to the Universe.

I opened the cart next to me and found an old greeting card from Steve. "Hope you don't mind, honey," I muttered as I slid the card under the mug so that I could upright it. Holding the card in place I carried it to the bathroom and placed it in the tub where I weighted down the card with a bar of soap to await Steve and his ability to help deal with it. No one could bother it there.

Opal was proud to show dad her "find"when he returned from work and all followed him to the yard where he set the cup down and flipped off the card. Nothing. He turned on the hose and sprayed until the mug was full. Still nothing.

Everyone came in carrying the apricot sized nest which Steve had cut open with the trowel. It WAS beautiful and looked as though it had been deserted for a time.

"Sweet Opal," I hugged her in momma-relief. "You could have been hurt! PLEASE do not eat things if you are not sure they are food." And to Steve, "In the morning check around the house to make sure they have not just moved somewhere else."


September 18, 2018

White Dog stood next to me for a long time and encouraged me to keep stroking her face, ears, and side. She turned so that her other side would not be neglected. She rested quietly under my hand and looked into my eyes.

WD is not usually so cuddly...or patient. "Are you feeling all right, Little One," I asked as I felt for added warmth or a hard tummy. She was fine; her eyes were clear and her breathing good. She rested her body against my leg.

It was also unusual in that the office was empty except for she and I.

I turned and invited her into my lap. She came up and nosed into the desk drawer that is her "hiding place" for things too personal and loved to share with her siblings. Things that are only hers in a family that shares just about everything (and with brothers and sisters who have loved too many of "her" things into oblivion.

White Dog gently put her paw on blue lambie, a stuffie she has had since she first came to us. Paw on her baby, chin on the drawer, she settled onto my lap in what seemed like a bit of reminiscence. I held her tenderly.

And then we heard the dog door slam and Bella zoomed in to join us...followed by Tiz and Bai.The moment was gone.

I shifted WD higher into my arms and shut the drawer. I kissed her nose. And she gracefully jumped down to rest in her usual spot next to the desk where she was quickly joined by her sisters.. 


September 17, 2018

White Dog giggled. "The Stoic One strikes again."
"Oh no, you go ahead momma," Bella reassured me. "If it makes YOU happy PLEASE continue torturing me by dragging that brush through my delicate furs. I don't mind at all."

"Aren't you being a BIT dramatic, Tiny One? You had a tangle that you have been chewing at for the past hour. I am just helping to make you comfortable."


September 16, 2018

White Dog representing the White Dog Army at today's Rio Rancho American Cancer Society Bark For Life.
For all of our loved ones who have been taken too soon and had to fight too hard...two- and four-legged.

September 15, 2018

White Dog came into the office. "Did you see the brood hen in the living room?" she asked. I turned and looked at her.

"The Darkest White One incubating the package of English muffins that are missing from the grocery bags. She is lying on them."

"I hope she hatches egg, bacon and cheese breakfast sandwiches," Tizenegy laughed.

Zsofia must have heard WD rattng her out because the next thing I saw was a flash of darkness and a dangling bakery bag heading for the dog door.