Tag Archives: pets

Loving Lenny

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
– Anatole France

“Something is wrong.”

It was three years ago today on a bright, cold winter Saturday morning in February. I had popped out of bed early and hurriedly thrown on a pair of old jeans and a comfy sweatshirt, excited that this much-anticipated day had finally arrived. After six full days of this animal-lover’s pleading and begging on Facebook for someone to adopt a sweet, lonely pit bull mix that had found his way to our local animal shelter, my prayer had finally been answered. Little “Lenny” (the name I promptly bestowed upon him after observing his ‘gentle giant’ ways that mirrored his namesake in the classic Of Mice and Men) was going home! And who had adopted him?

Lenny’s shelter photo – Facebook, Feb 2015

You guessed it—me!

After seeing that there was no public interest in saving this sweet boy from his ever looming demise date, my big-hearted husband finally gave in. Lenny was coming home to join our family. Lenny would be pet number five.

The only problem we faced was timing. The shelter (which was unfortunately not a no-kill shelter) had scheduled sweet Lenny to be put to sleep on Friday. But because of mine and my husband’s out-of-town work schedules, neither of us could work it out to go pick up our sweet boy before closing time on Friday. So, the shelter graciously agreed to extend his date to Saturday—with our promise that we’d definitely show up by the time they closed at noon. No problem! I rose with the sun with my happy heart pounding out of my chest. Our baby was coming home!

And then I walked into the living room and everything changed.

There lied my precious fat calico kitty Patches on her little pet bed, struggling for air.

“Something is wrong.”

At first the words came out in a whisper, but as I realized the seriousness of the situation, they gained strength.

“Something is wrong!”

I called out to my husband, “Richard! Something is wrong with Patches!”

My husband came into the room and said, “Let’s get her to the vet. Hurry.”

I began scrambling for my shoes and for a large towel to wrap my sweet cat in. We rushed to the car and started the thirty minute drive to town, with me all the while holding my fluffy girl like a baby in my arms in the passenger seat. We made it to the emergency vet and while my husband ran to the counter to explain what was happening, my beautiful cat’s gentle sweet soul left her body as she lay in my arms in the waiting room.

My girl was gone.

The last photo of Patches – February 6, 2015

Just like that. This day that was supposed to be filled with such anticipated joy was just bombarded with a soul-crushing sadness that I couldn’t possibly have seen coming. I heard voices swirling around me, offering help–burial services, cremation–but all I could do was look at the lifeless eyes lying in my aching arms. My sweet girl had seen me through so much over the past few years. She had watched my children grow with me. She saw my marriage fall apart. She saw me fall in love again and welcomed this new, amazing man into our world. She had been my constant through all the changes swirling around me.

And now she was gone.

I looked up into my husband’s empathetic eyes and saw the pain I was feeling reflecting back at me. He gently took my arm and led me to the car. I wouldn’t let Patches go. I held onto her lifeless body and couldn’t bring myself to put her down.

“Honey. We have to get to the shelter.”

My husband’s sobering words pulled me out of my stupor and I glanced at the clock. 11:00 a.m. In the rush of the morning’s tragic events, time had slipped away from me. We lost my baby that morning but we still had work to do. We didn’t have time to take my sweet Patches home and bury her and come back to get Lenny. We had no choice. We had to go straight to the shelter or we’d be too late.

We pulled into the parking lot of the shelter and my strong, stable husband finally convinced me to turn my kitty over to him. He gently took her from my arms, covered her lifeless body with the towel, and placed her into a box. We had no choice but to lay her sweet body in the trunk until we could get her home to her proper burial. After we got her in place, my husband took my hand and walked me into the shelter. There, we found our Lenny.

And he was terrified.

My eyes locked onto his and I saw his fear of the unknown. I saw the uncertainty and questions that I was feeling too. Could I do this? Could I switch gears so suddenly? From the heartbreaking pain of loss straight into the joy of a new adoption?

No. I couldn’t. And my sweet Lenny didn’t expect me to.

Dragging our terrified new pet to our car, my husband placed him in the backseat. And, in a last minute mindless decision, I climbed back there with him. We both cried all the way home. Both of us were scared. Both of us were leaving what was familiar to us and embarking on a journey where nothing would ever be the same. Both of us were shaking, sad, and weak.

Lenny’s ride home from the shelter – 2/7/2015

We needed each other more than ever.

Now, three years later, here we are. We’ve adjusted. My sweet Lenny helped me through one of the hardest days of my life back then. And I think I helped him through his, too. We snuggled on the couch on that cold Saturday back in February until our pain began to subside. We held onto each other until we realized that our broken hearts had just enough room for each other. My gentle giant coaxed me back to happiness and taught me to open my heart to another furry soul. And I taught him that some people just won’t ever leave you.

They just won’t.

We’re a team now, sweet Lenny and me. We didn’t have the happiest of starts, but we’ve promised each other that we’ll have a happy ending. Instead of me saving him, he saved me.

Someone told me once that they believed that my precious Patches chose February 7, 2015 to leave me on purpose. She knew that this would be the day that I would be able to accept her departure. I don’t know about all that. But I do know this.

A whole big furry ball of gentleness and love immediately filled the spot that she left behind. Was that divine intervention? I don’t know.

But I certainly know who’s a good boy.  My Lenny, that’s who.

Lenny and mom. February 2018.

***

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”
– Bruce Cameron

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Drama Break

 “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
– Isaac Asimov

Last month was a month of  many changes for me.

If any of you are regular readers, you’ll probably notice that my posts have dropped dramatically lately. In fact, I only posted one last month, which was in honor of the death of a friend.  I’ve had many things to write about – too many, in fact – but I just couldn’t seem to find the words.  Everything that was happening was big stuff. Big changes – some good, some bad. Lots of “blog bling” as I like to call it….but the words just weren’t rising to the occasion.  And I couldn’t figure out why that was.

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Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert…Squeeee!

But then I stumbled across some notes I had taken last year when I went to a talk by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  Something she said had resonated with me at the time, so I jotted it down. She said:

“I have found that I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.”

Oh.  Okay, I get it now.

How right she was about that. I’m the same way. When I write, there has to be calm. The room has to be quiet, the chores have to be done, there can’t be anything pressing that needs my attention…there just needs to be calm.  And my life lately?  Heh.  There’s not much calm going on here.

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Patches – February 6, 2015

First of all, on February 7, I lost my beloved cat, Patches. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard about Patches a time or two. In fact, she helped me make it into Chicken Soup for the Soul for the second time with the article I wrote about her and her “step-brother” entitled Tattle Tail. Patches was my girl. She had been with me through a lot over the past six years. She was a rescue kitty and I wasn’t exactly sure how old she was when I got her – but her age had really started showing in the past few months. And on February 7, she gave up the fight…while laying in my arms.

There was so much I wanted to write about Patches. I lost my little buddy – surely she deserved a blog post, didn’t she?  But I just couldn’t find the words. Me – the person who has “words” for everything, had no words for the loss of my sweet little pet.

And to add to the “drama” – see this picture?

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This picture was taken literally within an hour of my losing Patches.  This is Lenny – the rescue pup that we were on our way to pick up from animal control when Patches died in my arms. Talk about drama. My emotions were all over the place. I had to switch emotional gears in a way I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before. To go from such grief to such happiness within minutes…it was just too much.

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Lenny and I on the car ride home

But Lenny helped me out.

See, Lenny was scared too. And confused. He had no idea what was happening. We practically had to drag him into the car because the poor little thing didn’t know what was waiting for him. Once we finally got him in, I climbed in the back with him – teary eyes and all – and he immediately just made his way into my lap and snuggled. We both needed that. No excited tail wagging or licking or any of that puppy stuff – nope. Just calm, confused, scared snuggling. Oh, how we needed each other that morning. I’m not exactly sure who saved who, to tell you the truth.

(By the way – once Lenny got home and settled, that puppy nature came out full force!  He’s such a happy boy and our lives are so much happier with him here. Ain’t he a cutie?)

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Lenny lovin’

So, here I was with another major life event to write about – a new little furry member of the family – and still…nothing.

And then came even more changes.

A new job.

I have had a major commute for work for most of my life. In fact, the last time that I lived and worked in the same county, I was eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. (Now, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was exactly, but just trust me…it was a long time ago.) And suddenly, I was faced with the opportunity to switch jobs and take a position that was only 14 miles from home. It was such a hard decision to make – I loved my old job and loved the people there. But really, work was the only thing I had in that town. When I was faced with the opportunity to do the same work (with a bit more responsibility…which, for me, is a good thing) and do it closer to home, I just had to take it.

Today was my first day.

And, again, more blog bling. Loss of a pet. A new furball to love. And now a job change. Blog bonanza, man. And what did I have to say about it all?

A big fat nothing. *sigh*

So, I return to the words of my mentor – “I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.” Writing is a way for me to process things. I see things, I feel them, and then I process them through a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen. Sometimes, that process is a quick one. And then other times…the real times…the times that shake me up a bit – well, those are the times that may take just a bit longer.  And you know what?

That’s okay.

No more fussing at myself for not writing. For not running. For not reading. For not….well, whatever. Sometimes my heart just needs a little time to get back to its regular rhythm before it lets my brain in on the secret that it’s time to get back to normal. I’ll be back. Heck, I just wrote this. I guess I am back.

I just needed a little downtime, that’s all.

Thank you all for still being here.  I’m just human, I suppose. Life happens. And eventually, I get back in the swing of things and start putting those happenings into words again.  That’s the thing about writing. It never goes away. It’s there. It’s always there…just waiting on the green light from its human container.

Hopefully, traffic is flowing again now.

***

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
– Nicholas Cage

Richard’s Hands

The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
– Anne Frank

So, I’m guessing your response to reading this title is about the same response Richard had when I asked him for a picture of his hand for my blog.

“You want to write about what?”

But yep.  ‘Tis true. I want to tell you a story about Richard’s hands.

Now let me start out by saying this: If you know me, you’ll know that it is rare for me to be especially observant of anything. Ever. (I’m the girl who drove by a wreck once without seeing it.)  And yet, even with this being the case, those sexy man-hands of the man I love have especially caught my attention in the past few days. So much so that I knew I wanted to write about them. And even I wondered myself where I was going to go with that idea – how in the world would I write a whole blog on a man’s hands?  And who in their right mind would actually want to read the dang thing? But finally, I sat down and started to write and, as is often the case, the words started coming out on their own without my help.

I now know exactly why I wanted to write this blog.

Richardshand1First of all, see this picture?  This is the “you want to take picture of what?” picture that I asked Richard for.  If you’ll notice, his poor little thumb is kinda shattered. You want to know why that is?  Well, this sweet guy of mine has spent the past week or so building a chicken coop.  Has he ever built a chicken coop before? Nope. Is he a carpenter? Nope. (Note the smashed thumb…) Do we even have a farm? Nope again. But by golly, this fella wanted some chickens, and he got them. And then he wanted them to have a nice place to live. So he built it.

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Chicken coup a la Richard

Watching him spend hours of his time and go through cuts and scrapes and bruises in the process over six little chickens that he has grown to love kind of touched a soft spot in my heart all on its own. But then, after looking at his hands and seeing the work they went through for those silly little chickens, I started thinking about all of the other things those hands have done in the past few days.

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Sweet little Sassy

I moved in with Richard about six months ago. Part of this move involved leaving behind a sweet little neighbor doggy named Sassy whom I had grown to love over the years. It was hard leaving her behind, even though we had no shortage of animals at Richard’s house. Between my cat, his cat and dog, his four horses, and our newly acquired six chickens, we were definitely doing okay in the pet department.  And yet…I still missed that sweet little Sassy. I found myself looking at pictures of dogs that were up for adoption – something I had never done before in my life. Sometimes, half jokingly, I would forward these pictures on to Richard with the standard “Awwww, look, Richard…we NEED this dog!” message and he would playfully, but not-so-jokingly, respond with, “We don’t need another dog.” To which I would remind him each and every time that we were all evenly paired up – he and I, my son and daughter, his son and daughter, his male cat and my female cat – all that was left was to find a boy playmate for sweet little lonely Lucy, his female German shepherd. He never took the bait though.

That is, until this week.

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Facebook ad pic

In what was strictly an accident (really), I clicked on a link by mistake on Facebook that took me into a buy/sale group for the area I used to live in. When I realized my error and started to click out of it, a picture caught my attention.  There, in all his adorable sweet glory, was a little dog that needed a home soon, or else he was being sent to the pound.  A little boy.  A little boy who happened to look like a brown version of the little Sassy that I missed so much. I read the details about him and the more I read, the more I realized that this really was the dog that would complete our family. I prepared myself to beg Richard.  I sent him the standard “We neeeeeeeeeed this dog” (added a few more E’s for emphasis this time) to which I expected to receive the “We don’t need another dog” message.  But, much to my surprise, that’s not what popped up on my screen.

Those sexy man hands?  They typed this message back to me: “He sure does look like a sweet little fella.”

Whoa.  What did he just say?  Where’s the “No?”  Did I actually have a chance?

So I immediately responded with all the “Here’s why he’d be perfect for us” specs.  The next message those glorious hands typed?

“Well, looks like we have a new dog.”

I was ecstatic!  We were getting a dog!!

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Little John safe in the hands of his new daddy

The next few days were a whirlwind.  Those hands of his drove us over an hour and a half one-way that very day to pick up my new baby.  [We named him Little John Sampson. I know, I know, what kind of name is that?  Long story. Basically it started as a joke – if you’re a James Patterson fan, you’ll recognize the character name – but the “joke” kind of stuck.  Little John it was!]

We were absolutely in love.

And then, the very next day, something horrible happened. Little John went missing.

He had just been outside playing with Lucy (the two were getting along perfectly) and then – just like that – he was gone.  Those hands of Richard’s had to do something that I know broke his heart…they had to type me the message that said, “Sweetheart, I’m sorry, but I can’t find Little John…”

I left work and headed home to help look for him. He was gone.  Just…gone.

I couldn’t believe how quickly I had fallen in love with that little boy. His being missing broke my heart in two. I cried and cried and then cried some more. I was so mad at myself. I questioned our ever going to get him in the first place and beat myself up over not taking care of him like I should have. How did I let him disappear like that?

richardshand6Those hands of Richard’s held me while I cried. They wiped off the tears, they patted my back. And then, feeling like they weren’t doing enough, they went to the computer and typed out a “Lost Dog” flier.  Then, they went out and hung the flier up at all the local stores and at the fire department that happens to be at the end of our long driveway.

That night, a storm came. All I could think about was how sweet Little John would never find his way back now that the rains would have washed the scent of his trail away.  (I was convinced that he has just run off and had gotten lost in the woods behind our home…I had little hope that the fliers would work or that anyone would actually find him.) Richard and I spent a restless, sad night, missing the sweet little dog that had already stolen both our hearts in the short time that he had been with us.

The next morning, I sullenly went off to work while Richard got to work in his home office. After being at work for a few hours, I somewhat reluctantly decided to post a “Have you seen our dog” picture on Facebook, ashamed to admit that he was already lost so soon after we had gotten him. I just had to do something. I didn’t know if it would work, but it was worth a try.

Within minutes, those hands of Richard’s that I so adore typed the following comment on my picture: “Guess who made it home?” Following the comment, was a picture of my sweet Little John all wet and muddy, but safe and sound.

Our baby was home.

Turns out, those fliers that those sweet hands made had actually worked. Sweet Little John had made his way to the fire department at the end of our driveway and, after realizing he was lost and a storm was coming, had planted himself under the back porch of the fire house and refused to budge. Prior to seeing Richard’s flier, one of the firefighters had been attempting to catch him, but he was hiding and wouldn’t come out. Once the man saw the flier, he called Richard and told him to come get our baby. Once Little John realized it was his daddy calling for him this time, he made his way out and right back into daddy’s waiting hands.

richardshand5That night, Richard’s hands went to work again cleaning up our sweet baby and getting him ready for mommy snuggles again. Our Little John was right back in his rightful place – the last little piece of the puzzle that made our family complete.

And all of this happened because of Richard’s hands.  Those hard-working hands that are so full of love, compassion, tenderness, and strength. Those hands that are strong enough to take care of the tough work that needs to be done, and can then turn around and be tender enough to take care of the gentle tasks like wiping away a woman’s tears and cradling a scared puppy.

Yes sir, I gotta hand it to him (see what I did there?)…that man sure is something special. And I will be more than honored to hold on to those beautiful hands for the rest of my life.

Welcome to a life full of love, sweet Little John. You’re gonna have the best daddy around.

***

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