Archive for August, 2011

The Travails of Tucker
August 26, 2011

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies. ~ Gene Hill

A month after Shannon graduated from high school in 2004, I got a call from Guy Mauldin, who breeds, trains and shows Shetland Sheepdogs. We had gotten our outstanding Shadow from him in 1996, and now eight years later, he was calling to say that he had a new puppy for us, which of course ended up being our Bailey, another beautiful, spirited and memorable dog. 

When we returned home after leaving Shannon up at Bard College in NY, I had some sad moments in my oh too quiet house, but having Bailey helped me through it, and I focused on raising him up right. His and Shadow’s presence filled my days with routines that we all thrived on, and their antics made me laugh out loud. 

Fast forward to a year ago- in the summer of 2010, Shannon and her then fiancé, came to live in our garage apartment for a transitional year. It was fun having them back, and they brought their enormous Great Pyrenees, Lucas to add to the mix. 

As faithful readers know, soon afterwards, both Shadow and Bailey passed away over the span of seven months time. We have had many sad moments since then and miss them both dreadfully, but having the kids and their dog here have helped fill the void.

But now they have headed to their new home in Lexington, VA where Kat will be attending Washington & Lee Law School. Their presence will absolutely be missed, however, I know it is good for them to get away and live separate lives. It’s the way God intended things to be.

So I called Guy. 

I told him that I was ready, thinking it would take awhile for him to find just the right puppy. But he said he had the perfect one available right now! So Joel and I went to meet the little fellow. 

“Tucker” is a 12 week old tri-color boy dog. He was hand raised when his mother was unable to nurse her puppies, so he LOVES people. Cute and sassy, smart and sweet… can’t beat that combo. 

I think I had been experiencing some mild depression after we lost both dogs, and the prospect of not having the kids and their dog around was not a happy one. But now, all of a sudden, I became motivated and excited. 

Joel and I both fell in love immediately. It was a little harder to teach him commands without an older, mentor dog to lead the way, but he learned how to “sit” on the very first day (I have a video of it!). I was so proud of him, and looked forward to working on the next command. 

Then Tucker got a runny nose, so I decided to introduce him to Dr. Young, thinking that he would have a non-invasive visit at the vet and come home with some antibiotics or something. But it turned out to be a sinus infection. Dr. Y was really sorry to have to tell me that it was due to a cleft palate. He said he’d need to have it repaired or he wouldn’t live a good, long life (he’d keep having problems). 

Guy was HORRIFIED about this outcome, and told me to bring him back and trade him for a new puppy, but we declined. One, we already loved him to pieces, and two, he likely would have been put down, and I just couldn’t bear it.   

So Tucker had surgery yesterday and came through like a trouper, although he is pretty pathetic, as you can imagine. He needs a feeding tube, since he can’t eat anything by mouth just yet, so I went and learned how to do it today. He’ll come home tomorrow, which I know will do him some good. We had barely established a routine, so I am anxious to start over again, albeit on a slower pace, given his recovery needs. 

We will figure it all out and shower him with love. Watch this space for future Tucker Chronicle follow up reports!

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Procrastination Pays!
August 20, 2011

One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow. ~Vincent T. Foss 

Sometimes I just put things off. Either I don’t know how exactly to deal with the situation, or I just don’t want to. Eventually, I must, but sometimes things resolve themselves without my having to do anything! 

For instance, during last winter’s hard freeze, I tried covering my very heavy potted plants to protect them. They were just too big to move inside. I knew that I’d likely lose the tops of them, but hoped that they would come back. 

Especially I hoped that the scheffelera trees would return, because of their sentimental value. Back in 1983, Joel’s dad was hospitalized after having had a heart attack. He ultimately did not make it, and Joel brought home a small potted scheffelera plant, which the folks at his dad’s office had sent to him to cheer up his hospital room. 

I cared for it, and it grew and grew. Eventually I divided it and re-potted it into bigger pots; the trees continued to thrive. Twenty-eight years later, I was hoping for the best. But, uncovering them post freeze, things looked pretty grim. 

All I could do is cut the dead growth off and wait. Months later, there was still no sign of life. I told myself to give up and start over, but just couldn’t get around to making it happen. 

Then one day in June, FIVE MONTHS after the freeze, I finally saw a leaf pop out. I couldn’t believe it! Both plants had sprouted, and look, even the rubber plant showed signs of life! 

I was way too excited about such a small thing as this, but as I mentioned, these particular plants have a history that made me cherish them. As I patted myself on the back, I thought about a gardening column in the Houston Chronicle called “The Lazy Gardener”, which is as good a description of me as any. 

It will take years for the trees to grow to their former glory, but I can wait. I’m pretty good at this procrastination thing…

NOTE TO READERS: I have just returned from a road trip to VA, so this piece is one that I had tucked away to post when pressed for time. Tune in next week to meet Tucker, our new puppy!

Lucas’ Fan Club
August 11, 2011

Do a Good Turn Daily~ The Slogan of the Boy Scouts of America

I have a dog friend named Mr. Buergermeister, or as I like to call him, “Herr Buergermeister”, as he is German by birth, complete with a charming accent. When I’d walk Shadow through the neighborhood, we’d often run into him walking his enormous white Kuvasz, a Hungarian dog that closely resembles our Lucas, who is a Great Pyrenees. “Nanook” was polite, but aloof, but he would always greet Shadow, then make it clear he wanted to move on. 

A Kuvasz

A Great Pyrenees

Nanook did NOT care for Bailey, who was too energetic for his taste. Still, I’d stop and visit with Herr B regardless of Nanook’s attitude. 

Time marched on, and now all three dogs are gone. I see Herr B walking every now and then, and always enjoy catching up with him. He really misses his dog, so I think he’ll eventually get another one; he’s just waiting for the right moment and the right dog. 

When Shannon and Kat moved back last year, of course they brought their Lucas, who must be walked daily. At some point, Herr B and our great white dog intersected on the path, and a mutual love affair began. Every time I’d see Herr B, he’d ask me about Lucas; he said he’d always walk by our street, in hopes of seeing him. 

As I was riding my bike the other day, I came across Herr B; it’s been awhile since I’d seen him, so I stopped to chat. Of course he asked me about Lucas, and I told him the news that they would be moving to VA soon. He was sad to hear it, so I told him he should just stop by at some point for a visit. 

When I returned home, I discovered that Lucas hadn’t had his walk yet, so suggested to Kat that we walk him around the corner to visit Herr B. I don’t have his phone number, so we showed up unannounced; I just hoped they would be home and that dropping in would be ok. 

When Herr B and his wife saw who was at the door, they were absolutely delighted to see us! They invited us in, and let Lucas go explore every corner. They made a big fuss over him, got him a bowl of water, and fed him some dog treats. What a deal! They didn’t even mind when Lucas slobbered on the floor. I’m sure he probably shed some fur inside, too, which he is prone to do. Herr B said they didn’t mind; they call it, “tumble wool”. 

Frau B told me that every day when her husband heads out for his walk, he says, “This is going to be a Lucas day!” But when he doesn’t see him, he is always disappointed. She said that we had absolutely made their day by stopping by. 

How dear they were, and how happy it made me to know we had done so! It was just a little thing for us to do, but enormous in their sight. I think I smiled for the rest of the day, and vowed to make a better effort to brighten the days of other loved ones. 

Need a smile? Do that good turn daily. 

postscript: Herr B came over yesterday to deliver a wedding present to Shannon and Kat, but I know he really came over to visit Lucas. He brought his camera to take some pictures of him “to remember him” after he had moved away. The two of them had a happy time, and Herr B left covered in “tumble wool” What a sweetheart!!

We are the World
August 4, 2011

When we walk, when we sleep, when we rise, we are one. When we laugh, when we sing, when we cry, when we run, we are one.~ Brian Tate  

In a recent entry I mentioned being so cocooned in my little secluded corner of the world that I seldom see the rainbow of diversity that is Houston, TX.

Jury duty changed that for me; it was most interesting to witness folks from all walks of life, united in a shared task. We were each given a number and told that we must stay in order. I was number 16, between a man from Pearland who clutched his doctor’s orders for daily physical therapy and another man with a fascinating waxed handlebar moustache. There were people from all over the spectrum of life, and in the voir dire period, listening to folks express their opinions really made it clear that life experiences absolutely do color one’s attitudes. 

But for an even greater example of all the world’s people gathering together for a united cause, I submit a college graduation ceremony. At the Rice University graduation ceremony in May, there was a veritable celebration of the United Nations. For example, here are some of the graduates’ names: Wasswa Israel Ahimbisibwe. Yousra Mohsen Ali Alkabani. Maximiliano Jose Besada Vierma. Divya Kannan Chakravarthi. Prince Chidyagwai. Mihir Rajanikant Choudhury. Yogeeswaran Ganesan. And so on. 

I had a huge admiration and respect for the various deans and masters who read these and other names aloud as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas!

The families of these graduates were so colorful and elegant in their various ethnic finery on display (as compared to many of the American attendees). To their credit, the Americans knew it was an outdoor ceremony in Houston in mid May, and honestly, last time I attended, we all just melted into puddles of “perspiration” (the girls) and “sweat” (the guys). So we knew to not put on our Sunday go to meeting togs. 

Me? I had on a favorite pair of “walking shorts” (but they were the dry clean kind!!), a new t-shirt (also dry clean!), my Audrey Hepburn hat and Raybans. At least I matched. Luckily it was a gloriously sunny day, but chilly (the ceremony began at 8:30 am), and I actually had goosebumps for the duration. 

As I looked around the assembled crowd, my thoughts drifted to the lyrics of a song the youth choir at our church sings:  We Are One / Music and Lyrics by Brian Tate, adapted from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 

When we walk, when we sleep, when we rise, we are one.

When we laugh, when we sing, when we cry, when we run, we are one.

And we shall love one another with all our hearts.

And we shall care for each other with all our soul and our might. 

I felt this way about these fine young students who had just spent four (or more) years working together in peaceful camaraderie to earn their educations. My prayer is that this would come to pass throughout the world, that all people would unite in a shared cause, work together and finally celebrate a job well done. 

Wishful thinking, I know…