Tag Archives: animals

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

2 Jul



Pinta …

Listener to my secrets.

TV watching pal.

Squirrel chasing champion.

Neighborhood explorer buddy.

Huggable friend.

Warmer of hearts.

Maker of smiles.

Improver of life.

Pinta … definitely companionable … definitely missed.






Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

5 Feb





We visit the zoo at least twice a month.

We see the elephants … mighty.

We see the giraffes … tall.

We see the gazelles … graceful.

We see the gorillas … amazing

But there’s nothing … nothing like animal with a Robert DeNiro you-lookin’-at-me-you-talkin’-to-me personality.

Meerkats … definitely unique.


My Marley And Me Moment

26 Nov

I couldn’t take her to the movies, but she enjoyed watching LOST, 24, and the National Geographic Channel. However she wasn’t a fan of Law & Order … any of them. I think it was the DOINK-DOINK sound. I couldn’t take her out for dinner, but we often had picnics in the park and she was a great lounger. She didn’t really say much during conversation, but she was an awesome listener. Her arms weren’t long enough to hug me during troubled times, but she’d sit next to me on the couch, sniff my pants, wag her tail, and nuzzle her head under my hand. She was a good therapist.


Pinta hanging out ... smiling after playing fetch.

Pinta hanging out … smiling after playing fetch.


Being a Dalmatian, she got a bad rap for belonging to a breed that is considered to be hyper, and extremely needy with temperament flaws.


So not true. She was an exception to the rule. She was my exception. “She was a unique constellation of attributes,” who loved chasing squirrels, back massages, playing fetch with her FAT CAT Inc. dog toys, going for walks, pretending she was a horse for my son, being a pillow for my daughter, and hanging out in the kitchen as I cooked dinner. Wishing, and hoping, and praying that something savory and tasty would hit the linoleum floor.

Seventy-three years old. She passed away at seventy-three. That’s a lot of lint brushes. To think I don’t have to buy another one makes me kind of  sad. I used to get irritated that every time I hugged her or pet her, I’d be covered in black and white dog hair. I must have spent thousands of dollars on lint brushes. But now … no more lint brushes needed. No more Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dog Food. No more Greenies. No more Snausages. No more chasing Penn Tennis Balls. And No more plastic trash bags filled with stinky poop.



A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water-logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?

— – John Grogan, Marley & Me

To answer Grogan’s question … not many. Other than my children and my Dad … not many. But Pinta made the list. She thought I was amazing, even in Costco sweatpants. And she loved me unconditionally. It didn’t matter if I was a short, struggling writer who was prone to bouts of crankiness when woken up from a profound sleep at six in the morning. She loved me anyway. She was a great dog. She was loyal. She was a member of my family. She was Guat. She will be extremely missed.

Cause of death? Complications due to a herniated disc that put pressure on the spinal cord which resulted in pain in her hips, lameness, and loss of function in her hind legs. Apparently the degeneration happened because of age. We could have put her through more tests, examinations and surgery, but considering her age … the most humane course of action was saying good-bye.

I held it together as long as possible, but watching her go was very emotional.  Next to losing my dad and uncle it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever experienced.

After leaving the vet, my son said he wanted to visit my dad in the cemetery. He said he had something very important to tell him. Considering what had just happened, I thought it would be the best place to let everything out.

He sat next to my dad’s tree and said:

“Papa … I have something very important to tell you. Very important. P doesn’t feel good. [He calls her P] She went to the doctor to get more medicine. Her legs don’t work. She’s a little old. She needs medicine. But she’s going to go to heaven with her medicine. You need to take care of her. She likes Snausages.”

Dude. I so needed another minute after that little speech.

After a while we drove back home and as I entered the house the first thing I noticed was her empty dog bed.

It was a tough day.

“Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky.”

— John Grogan, Marley & Me

I Bought an Extra Bag of Greenies and Some Snausages

23 Nov

You got osteoporosis, hearing problems, cognitive impairment, hypertension, and aches and pains in about every joint in your body.


Being a senior citizen is tough. My dog. She’s a member of the club.

I’ve known her since she was two, she’s currently 14 going on 15 and apparently the life expectancy for Dalmatians happens to be around 16.


My dog Pinta … hanging out at the fire house


She’s walking The Green Mile.

It saddens me to see that her clock is slowly winding down. Earlier in the week she was having problems walking. Her hind legs weren’t really doing their job — they weren’t being very supportive so I found myself picking her up and helping her get outside. But she only needed a little lift and then she’d get the hang of it again. One foot, and then another and another. However yesterday … yesterday was quite different.

The Thanksgiving feast was well under way and the aroma filled the house. This aroma would usually get her up and trotting towards the table, hoping that someone would drop a piece of turkey. However she didn’t get up and in fact when she tried, her hind legs wobbled and she fell.

My dude gave me the look. The Dr. Kevorkian look and I strongly suggested going to the doctor and getting a professional opinion before he made plans to pull the plug on her. He initiated the “I-know-what-I’m-doing” conversation. The one that included his speech about having owned dogs before and how he just knew what would come next.

This began the heated conversation about veterinarians. I felt we should go to the office and have her assessed by one … you know to see if there was anything I could do to help improve my dog’s situation. He felt differently. He felt there was no need for doctors, you know seeing how he knew everything there was to know about dogs. He felt the need to tell me this repeatedly. However I still insisted we visit the doctor.

Unfortunately everyone was closed on Thanksgiving. They were closed the entire weekend, so we had to take her to urgent dog care. This is where our heated conversation continued. For a minute I thought she wasn’t going to come back with us, and I got extremely depressed about the whole situation. I started imagining the worst-case scenario and started thinking about the past and all the things we’ve been through. She was part of my family. I had plenty of time to think. We were there for three hours. Three, and they weren’t even that busy.  We’re going to see our regular vet on Monday and run some tests.

I guess it’s probably old age, but it could be something else. The hopeful possibility occurred to me, but it failed to enter the imagination of my dude. And that just burned me out. I was stressed out and so worried about the dog and there he was with his Dr. Kevorkian mentality and sassy attitude, which of course didn’t help. Now I know that we don’t want our dog to suffer, and we don’t want her in pain, but I would like all the facts before making that tough decision that all pet owners have to make.  I mean people say “putting them to sleep,” because I imagine it sounds less drastic. But it still sucks. It’s still death.

I’m hoping for some good news on Monday, but I’m preparing for the worst. I bought an extra bag of Greenies and a large bag of Snausages.

She’s living it up this weekend.

The Standoff

15 Nov

Standing on a chair. There I was standing on a chair freaked out of my mind. I guess it’s not a normal response for most people, but it was for me. Most people wouldn’t have paid attention to it. Just another resident of their neighborhood.


Yeah I’d seen them before, plenty of times when I went to go visit my sister in Florida. Plenty of them hanging out by the pool, just getting a tan I guess and, I’d seen plenty of them at the zoo. I’d even seen them in Rango … that Johnny Depp … very awesome. But all of this took place outdoors. The Great Outdoors. They were hanging out in their natural habitat — a place with sunlight, plants, palm trees, cactus, and dirt.

Today they were not hanging out in their neighborhood. Today they were indoors. Today they were hanging out in the kitchen.

Let me tell you something, a kitchen is no place for a lizard. It’s just not.

Image via Steve Creek Wildlife Photography.

It’s really not. I know it’s only about five inches long, and I know it’s practically harmless. Practically being the key word here. You never know. There could be that one bionic lizard that decides to be a nonconformist and attack me or something. I don’t know, it could happen. So this small chance really freaked me out. And I guess it’s strange to hear considering that I think of myself as a strong woman. But I have my moments … most of these freak-me-out-jump-on-a-chair moments revolve around insects, roaches, rats, or small creatures with tails that scamper.

This was no different except my kids were with me this time, distracted by the Sprout Channel, so they had no idea that I was standing on the chair with the heebie-jeebies. I called my dude to inform him of my little standoff, but he was of no help of course. He told me not to freak out, that they were harmless.

Yeah I know they were harmless. I got that part. However I was way beyond rational thinking. I was in freak-me-out mode. When I’m on that chair, the only thing helping me is if that wiggly tail finds itself outdoors, where it belongs. However, my dude didn’t seem to quite get that part of the puzzle. He just kept telling me not to freak out. Yeah … that didn’t help me. The more he repeated it, the more I felt like telling him to jump off a cliff.  He said he’d eventually take care of it when he came home in about two hours.


So I looked over to my fourteen-year old dalmatian, Pinta, to investigate. I thought she might catch it. Back in the day she was the master squirrel chaser and bee catcher, like Grease Lightning. Yeah … that didn’t happen today. I think she has osteoporosis. She took one look at me, slowly walked around the kitchen, sniffed the refrigerator, and then licked a Cheerio that had rolled under the cabinets. She could care less that I was standing on a chair. She could care less that I was freaked out of my mind. She probably looked at me thinking ‘what the hell’s a matter with you?’

Dogs. They fear no lizard, they just fear a shortage of Cheerios. So I stood there, on the chair, by the stove stirring the albondiga soup and waiting for the lizard to make his move.

It was a long evening.

Learning Lessons From A Borneo Native

3 Aug


I didn’t expect to be reminded of this lesson at the zoo. I just expected to see some elephants, meerkats, and giraffes hanging out. I expected the heat, the humidity, the crankiness, the irritability, the moms running after their kids, The Cheerios on the floor, the Cover Girl foundation melting on the twenty-something chicks on their dates, the animals hiding in the shade, the chimpanzees making us laugh, and the bees trying to attack us while we ate lunch.

I was expecting the norm.

I didn’t expect a Borneo resident suffering from a bad-hair day to remind me of fearlessness. He’s a vegetarian for crying out loud. He’s probably considered to be a toddler. As a mom, sometimes you forget your adventurous side, because the adventurous stuff that happens to you now consists of Huggies diapers, chasing after your four-year old, and running out of Tums late at night.

So I’m glad that I saw him today. I was reminded that The Guat is fearless. I didn’t expect to see him. But I was glad that I did. I didn’t expect him to give me the holy crap moment of the day. But he did.


Fearless youngster