Tag Archives: pets

Falling Into My Lap

All weekend, Hansel reminds his dad about what will have to happen in order to actually get a puppy.  “If one falls into our lap, that’s what you said.  If it just falls right into our lap.”

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Hansel’s father is a fair man.  Their last dog, when they still lived next door to us, was a wild thing that got cancer at age 3 and had to be euthanized, so he is justifiably wary and put the issue — his three children’s deep and constant yearning for a puppy — into the realm of the Almighty.  “If one falls into our lap,” he had indeed told Hansel all autumn, and now it is January, and the Almighty has spoken.

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*   *   *

All week the Bearded One and I revel in the decision to move to Hawaii.  We take stock and clean out, things we might have done anyway after the New Year we tell ourselves, as if we haven’t really decided.

Never mind that we’ve talked to a realtor neighbor and have considered whether to include the goats to make it an already-stocked-farmlet, or to advertise the goats on Craigslist just like the ad we responded to two years ago.  Arly sniffs through the piles of files, boxes of art supplies, and bags of clothes, absorbing all the stories.  He shreds the Bearded One’s flop.

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“Are there Flop Trees in Hawaii?” the Bearded One asks me on Sunday night, and I laugh.

I’m on the couch and cuddling Arly’s solid little chesty 21-pound body, kissing his velvet ears.  He licks the lotion from my neck.

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Hawaii has a pet quarantine law of up to 120 days, which is four months, which is how long Arly has been alive on the planet.  Too long for a pup, so if we are really moving, finding a new home for him sooner rather than later seems the way to go.  Better for him.

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Garfield is seven, but since our idea is to rough it in Hawaii for a few months and explore, we need to re-home him as well.  On Friday I emailed Hansel, Gretel and Batman’s mom asking if they would like to adopt Arly.  And now, on Sunday, they’ve accepted.  This is our last night together, and I’m enjoying the best part of having raised this sweet puppy for two months.

*   *   *

Hansel, Gretel and Batman pile out of their car.

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Arly races to meet them.  Hansel crouches to pet the wiggling puppy.  Gretel presents me with a gift, a drawing of a chicken —

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— which matches the button she gave me the last time they were here, and which I’m wearing at this moment.  Gretel notices and smiles, showing her emerging two front teeth.  Batman clings to his mom, since Arly scratched him on the chin last time.

We all go inside to talk and get Arly’s luggage.  His favorite pillow, his bag of food and treats, bowl, leash, basket with shampoo and nail clippers, and a couple of our favorite dog picture books…Good Dog, Carl and Hideaway Puppy.

There are boxes everywhere, including one with oodles of office supplies — paints and markers and construction paper and tablets — and I offer the whole pile to the kids.  Seven-year-old Gretel beams.  “I always wanted a clipboard!” she says.  There are two clipboards, and Batman seizes the other one.

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Batman, too, has had a dream come true.  He smiles and says that Arly, who perches on Hansel’s lap on the couch, is better than last time.  Calmer.

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Hansel is in charge of Arly, and he takes him out on the road on the leash while we load all the puppy and art supplies into the car.  Then we help buckle Batman into his car seat.  Gretel climbs into the middle of the backseat and immediately continues work on a new chicken series on her clipboard.

Finally Hansel walks back into the driveway and offers Arly up for us to say good-bye.  I’m so happy for Arly — he’s been rather bored this week since Roger left — that I can hardly be sad.  I’m full to overflowing.  This is a giant step into the rip current taking us to Hawaii.

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All of the theoretical obstacles to a big move are falling like dominoes. The Bearded One grins, and pulls me to him.

Hansel gets into the car next to Gretel, his long legs cramped, his smile lighting up the world as he pulls Arly into his lap and says, “YESSSSS!”

Beagles Who Need Beagles

Just like that, he swipes the napkin from my lap and races with sheer, urgent joy into the living room, flying like only a 9-week-old Beagle puppy dragster can.

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The Bearded One and I are eating lunch in the midst of puppy chaos, and the very least of my concerns is a paper napkin — may it occupy him for a minute.  It doesn’t even make the growing list of puppy taboos, aka the Dogma.

“Would you like another?”  The Bearded One graciously hands me the napkin basket and I accept and dab it graciously to my lips, our universal skit of refined civilization out here in the sticks.

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“Did you hear that?”  Now Arly is at the front door whining which, at this stage of life, could mean that he has to pee or poop.  Like any second.  But didn’t he just have a long, lavish pee outside for which he was lavishly praised?  Our perfect new puppy has pooped in the house every day since I told my daughter he hadn’t yet.

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I put down my soup spoon and herd Arly across our tiny living room, past the pile of shredded napkin, to the back door and easier access to the yard.  I hold open the screen, but it’s raining and he hesitates.

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“Come on.”  I step outside and circle to the other side of the door, but Arly’s still not buying it.  “Do you have to pee or not?”

“Garfield is yowling,” says the Bearded One from the kitchen table.  “Sounds like he’s upstairs.”

I can see the upstairs balcony deck, which is Garfield’s refuge these days — Arly isn’t allowed upstairs — and Garfield is not there.

“No, he’s not,” I say.  “Is he inside?”

The Bearded One wipes his mouth with his napkin, which is on the table and never in his lap, rises and scales the stairs to check.

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Finally Arly steps outside and I shut the screen door after him.

“Not here!” the Bearded One shouts down to me from inside, upstairs.

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“He must be in the cat condo then,” I yell from outside, downstairs.  The cat condo’s what we call the enclosed front porch.

The Bearded One comes back down the stairs to check.

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From my perspective on the back deck, I see Garfield streak from the front deck and under the house.  “He’s coming around!” I call.  “Gar-field!”  Arly looks at me.  He’s forgotten why he is here and so have I.

I am here, I tell myself, because I want to live my life in the company of animals.  People who play with beagles are the luckiest beagles of all.

Suddenly Garfield climbs up the back stair railing and Arly and I both startle.

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I open the door and Garfield streaks in ahead of Arly, who barks.  I shut the door and join the Bearded One back at the lunch table, where he is just returning, readjusting the ice packs on his sacral, which was skronked after sleeping downstairs with Arly his first three nights here.

I unfold my new napkin.  Arly approaches, tail wagging.  Ready to go again.

“Ha, fool me once!” I say, and smoothe down my huge new bib.

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Arly

I park in the short driveway in front of the wire gate at a farmlet much like ours.  It’s 1-1/2 hours southeast of us in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. Which is hidden in clouds as usual. The Bearded One and I are fifteen minutes early to pick up our new puppy.

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Two tabby cats, the twins of our own Garfield, trot out from the house to meet us.  Yay!  Maybe the new puppy will get along with Garfield.

Soon a young ponytailed woman named Kayla comes out and greets us.  We follow her around to the back of the house where I see the chickens and horse pasture.  And there they are — 3 black, white, gray and brown 8-1/2 week old Beagle puppies, two girls and one boy.  We’re here for the boy, who looks just like he does in the Craigslist ad.

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They call him Lucky because his momma, a 5-year-old Beagle who stands nearby, had a difficult delivery and Lucky came by C-Section.  Which was no doubt expensive and why I feel better about paying $350.  It’s a lot of money, but also pretty much normal based on the looking we’ve been doing.

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I cuddle him against my chest all the way home.  He is a little pudgy because he was eating a lot of his sisters’ food as well as his own. His ears are velvet, his brown eyes impossibly engaging.

We briefly consider keeping the name Lucky, but decide on Arly, after the Bearded One’s paternal grandfather

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who was an Oklahoma farmer and potash miner.

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At home, we put Arly in the backyard and the goats run up the hill like a mountain lion has leaped the fence.  All five hens are up on their toes and close behind the goats.

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Garfield is inside, in the kitchen.  We hope this goes well.

Right off, Arly walks toward Garfield and puppy barks a huge hello.  Garfield hisses.  This is just defensive.  He hisses again.  I try to comfort Garfield, but he slinks to the stairs and zips up to the lone refuge of the second bedroom.

Now it’s Monday afternoon and Arly’s fourth day here.  Garfield is not especially pleased with this new critter.  The Bearded One and I sit together in the sun watching Arly race from grass blade to twig to dirt hole to my shoe.

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He bunny hops after Ruby’s old Kong ball.  His favorite toy, however, is also Garfield’s, the mouse-on-a-string-on-a-stick that the Bearded One made.  If they both use it, it’ll mingle their scents.

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I bring Garfield outside to enjoy the sun, and he sits under the house on the lattice wall and sulks warily.  He watches Arly closely.  Sometimes they are only 4 or 5 feet apart.  This is good.  He is sticking around.

*   *   *

“Getting a puppy is like catching the flu,” says the Bearded One, exhausted and sore from three straight nights of “sleeping with” the new pup.  It’s only for the first 3 or 4 days.

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“I thought you knew puppies,” I say, reminding him of his Alaska stories of raising and training sled dogs.  “Yes,” he says and grins, “I tried to warn you.”  We laugh.  He’s right, though.  I’m the one who wanted the little howler.

Getting a puppy reminds me of how much work babies are.  Everything else goes by the wayside.  I haven’t even marked out the last two days on the calendar.

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The Bearded One and I are both bone-tired.  Tonight Arly sleeps alone.

*   *   *

Early that evening Arly is passed out beside the Bearded One in the man cave, watching a football game.

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Garfield arises upstairs and stretches a huge cat stretch.  He pointedly catches my eye.  Watch this.  He saunters unconcerned down the stairs and turns into the den.  Light as a feather he leaps up onto the Bearded One’s leg, maybe a foot from Arly.  He stares calmly down at the sleeping pup, turns away oh-so-casually and hops back down to the floor.  Welcome to the farmlet.

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The Dogsology

Ruby starts a nervous rhythmic licking in her bed, which is right next to the couch where I read.  Lick lick lick lick lick, her tongue shoots out like a snake.  Air licks.  Very loud.  She’s a mostly deaf twelve-year-old Golden Retriever and she can’t help starting these tics.  But she can stop.  I just have to catch her eye.

It’s early and she’s nowhere near ready to get up.  She usually stays in bed until the tens, and then when I’m cooking and the Bearded One is reading the newspaper, she peeks out from her bed under the stairs and rises.  It’s the same most every day — a ritual.  Front paws extended, she stretches, then the back legs.  Then she shakes.  “It’s Miss Ruby!” sings out the Bearded One.

But that’s still hours away.  Now she’s in a sleepy trance that I hope I can break without getting up, dang it.  Lick lick lick…

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“Ruby!” I whisper-hiss, because the Bearded One and His Majesty are still sleeping, and then I start waving.  I know she can’t hear, but I say her name anyway.  I wave wildly.  Sign language is the way in, but her eyes are getting a little cloudy lately and movement really helps get her attention.

Most every morning, after the Bearded One officially greets Ruby, she wags her tail vigorously (she adores the Bearded One) and walks over to the couch where I now sit, and where we congregate for the singing of the ritual morning song.

Good Morning to You!
Good Morning to You!
We’re all in our places
With sun-shiney faces
And this is the waaaaaaaayyy
Ruby starts a new day.
Ahhhhh — MEN.
 
Both the Bearded One and I were raised in Protestant Christian churches where we all sang a prayer song called the Doxology, so, of course, we call this morning ceremony the Dogsology.

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We pet Ruby vigorously as we sing.  It’s a love fest.

Garfield recognizes a good thing when he sees it and wants in.  He’s usually back in bed by ten, but he gets up and comes running.  It’s very rewarding.

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His Majesty, our 22-year-old son, he who is building a new back deck, likes to attend as well.  And this past weekend our daughter the nurse was here and she sang along and then said, “You guys are religious!”

The Bearded One and I both laughed at her word choice — we haven’t been any religion for decades and didn’t raise the kids in one.  We’re not religious, we’re just getting older, like Ruby, and appreciate a good ritual.

Ruby has finally spotted my wild waving and, in shock, has momentarily stopped licking.  We are almost there.

I point my index finger at her with authority.  “NO LICKING,” I whisper loudly.  I shake my finger and lead her to focus on my scowling face and register the seriousness of the issue.  I have her attention.  Now to connect it to the licking, or at least break the pattern.

She stares at me.  And licks.  I shake my finger.  She licks again.  And again.

Her huge ears are cocked up and she looks downright precious as she tries to figure it out.

I shake my finger and point at her tongue.  I scowl.  I send the message telepathically — NO LICKING.  YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE.

I love this dog.  She isn’t cuddly like her brother Jake was, but she is an endearing collector of gloves and shoes and chunks of wood, all of which she piles up in special spots around the back yard.  This week she carried one of the Bearded One’s flops out of the man cave den, back through the living room in plain sight of us in the kitchen, and out the screen door.  We were howling with laughter.

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After dinner we found it near the sweet pea teepee, which I just fertilized with fish fertilizer, a smell that could rouse Jake from the grave to dig and roll in.  I’m sure Ruby noticed, but I’m equally sure she resisted the temptation.  She’s old and knows better.  Heck, she even knows she’s not allowed in any garden.  I’ll miss this when she’s gone and we have to train a new dog.

I hope that’s still a couple of years away.

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