Tag Archives: puppies

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.

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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!”

Where This Is Going

“He’s grown,” says our son-in-law, the Alaska fisherman, as he sits on the couch and the puppy nibbles his sunburned neck and ears.  He, along with our oldest daughter, who is at work in Seattle this morning, and his family were in Hawaii for a week.  Roger stayed with us, and now the Captain has come to get him.  “His legs are longer.”

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Arly, our own puppy, whimpers with jealously and excitement from the other end of the couch where he sits with the Bearded One.  I’m in my rocker.  We are talking about big, important stuff, and the dogs make the conversation difficult in their barking, wrestling, puppy way.

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“I know it’s selfish,” says the Captain, “but I don’t want you to move.  It blew me away when I first heard.”  He’s the only NO in an otherwise unanimous sea of support for our latest notion, which is just days old now, but growing more real with time.

“Well, I’m as surprised at the notion as you are,” I say.  “Maybe more so.  I imagined building this farmlet and having all you Seattle kids and future grandkids drive an hour south to come see Grandma and Granddaddy and the goats and chickens on the farm.”

The Captain knows all about altered dreams.  His father died last month in a motorcycle accident after suffering a massive heart attack while speeding through the backroads of the Baja Peninsula.  It was out of the blue and shocked us all.  He
was 58, the same age as the Bearded One and one year older than me. The clan had planned all year to go to Hawaii. They never imagined their hearts would be so broken. He will be missed.

Arly yelps and lunges at Roger who yelps and lunges back.

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“It’s been a year full of transition,” I say.  “And then your dad died.  Was it just three weeks ago?  Seems much longer — ”

“Three weeks?”  The Captain looks at me and is quiet.  Time is tripping with all of us.

Can it be just days since I asked the Bearded One, “Do you want to move to Hawaii?” and he instantly said, “Yes”.  He’s not one to travel or visit, and he’s never even been to Hawaii, but he loves the idea of living in a whole different place.  Living in Alaska for a couple of years in the mid-1990s, much of it in the bush, was one of the highlights of his life.  The other was an 8,000 mile motorcycle trip across the western USA in 1982.

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The idea of moving to Hawaii came to me after a cold, gray misty walk by myself just a week ago, on December 30, New Year’s Eve Eve.  I thought about our daughter helping to scatter some of her father-in-law’s ashes in the middle of the brilliant Pacific Ocean.  And then I thought of Tom Coolidge.

Tom Coolidge was the first person to live on this road.  There was no road ’til he got here.  Just bears.  He designed and built the 1400 square foot pole house that is now the Farmlet House in 1990.

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He lived here for sixteen years, watching the road grow longer and attract more farmlets.  Now we’ve lived here for exactly seven years —

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— and Tom lives in Hawaii.  His girlfriend, a lovely woman with a Ph.D. in Linguistics named Deborah, came to our door 3-1/2 years ago.  She was in nearby Port Townsend for a retreat, she said, but she was usually in Hawaii with Tom.  He had told her about this house and said he could do the same in Hawaii for them….and she wanted to see this place for herself, would we mind?  It was our 13th anniversary, May 2, 2010.  Come on in! we said.

So when I got home from my cold and wet but thoughtful walk, I found Deborah and her blog on Facebook. And, oh oh oh!  A photo of the “Sherbet Shed” — a smaller version of the Farmlet House painted glorious rainbow colors on an acre of tropical forest in Puna, Hawaii.  The wet side of the Big Island.

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Since that moment, we’ve stepped into a bit of a rip current, whisking us through the week of Roger and Arly, energized by the vision of that beautiful little sunny house.  I’m tickled by all the positive feedback we’ve gotten — neighbors, the UPS guy, and most especially, the kids.

All the kids except the Captain, that is.  Who before our eyes, as we talk, becomes so bone-tired that we send him into the den for a nap before he drives back to Seattle with Roger.  We put the dogs outside.  The Bearded One and I whisper in the kitchen.

Two hours later when he gets up, the Captain says, “You know, lots of Hawaiians and Samoans fish with us.  There are lots of flights between Hawaii and Anchorage.”

He tells us about how he grew up living the summers in Naknek, where his dad worked all year building the family fishing business.  He knew how to filet a salmon when he was 7.

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“There’s a small house and three shipping containers on the property,” he says, “sort of a family compound.  My brothers and I talked a lot this week about how the future grandkids will be there all summer, but we’ll all be out fishing.  It’d be great if you came up and helped out.”

The Bearded One sits forward in his chair.  “Oh my yes…,” he says, and the Captain grins.

And then it hits me, and I leap up.  “Holy Moly.  The way all these farm animals tie us to this place, we’ll see more of our grandkids from Hawaii than we would from here!”

I like where this is going.

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A TIMING NOTE:  After roughly 3 years of weekly blogs, I’m shifting for a time to “intermittent” – whenever-the-muse-hits-me.  Thanks for reading!

Batman and Arly

Batman, age 5, has just been scratched on the chin by Arly the puppy and is near tears and speaks only in his tiniest voice.

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He clings to his mom next to the new deck, even though Arly ran off into the yard.  He and Hansel, age 9, chew their peach fruit leathers as they listen to their sister Gretel, age 7, tell us about her very loose tooth.  Our old neighbors moved six months ago, but happily they still visit.  This time to meet Arly.  They’ve all grown.

“It’s been so long since I lost a tooth,” I say.  “Does it hurt?”

“No.”  Gretel smiles and shows her upper gum with all the tiny baby teeth now widely spread.  The front right is gone, and the left is barely hanging on.

“My father used to tie a string around my loose teeth and yank,” I say, shivering even though the low midday November sun covers the entire new deck.  “Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.”

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“Oh oh oh,” says Gretel.  “The Castaway!”

Hansel’s big brown eyes light up.  “Oh, yeah!”

“I get to tell it!” says Gretel.

Hansel agrees, but paces the deck.  Even Batman is riveted and hopes desperately that Gretel can tell it right.  I watch as she mentally backs away to get the big picture.

She starts with the point.  “He had a real bad toothache and had to knock it out with a rock and an ice skate from a Fed Ex box!”

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Hansel is pleased with her delivery, but he knows the story.  It’s a movie, apparently.

“A Fed Ex box?” I say, as lost as the castaway, but reveling in their sheer joy of sharing stories.

Batman says, still in his tiny, puppy-scratched voice, “He’s a Fed Ex Delivery Man.”

Gretel stares at her little brother then continues.  “His plane crashed in the ocean and he went to this island and lived all by himself — ”

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” — EXCEPT for,” Hansel says, and Gretel tells him that isn’t the main story here, but lets him tell about the Castaway’s sole friend anyway — a salvaged volleyball named Wilson.

At this point Arly runs by with a rotting cornstalk in his mouth.

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He likes to pull the silk out of the undeveloped ears which I planted too late so they are composting in the garden.

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Arly’s grown an inch since yesterday, I think.  Batman eyes him suspiciously.

I turn to Hansel and Gretel and say, “Last year, you stood out in the corn patch and told us a corny joke.”  This is ancient history to them, but it is their history and it is such a fine joke, they are already laughing.  Batman was there but doesn’t remember.

“I get to tell it!” says Hansel.

Gretel agrees, but has to cover her mouth to keep from butting in.

“Why shouldn’t you tell secrets in a corn field?” says Hansel.  Batman stops chewing, baffled.  “Because the corn has ears!”

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Everyone laughs, and Arly the beagle puppy prances up to the deck with the cornstalk.  We all remark on his cuteness.  His white fur and black spots and waving tail.  Batman stands tall, a twinkle in his eye, and says the punchline softly, “I like his ears.”

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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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