Zany copy editor and writer with more than 25 years’ experience in everything from advertising to petting zoos! Am I meticulous? Heck, I get on my own nerves sometimes, that’s how much attention I pay to details. "I am not making this up" – Dave Barry

Archive for the ‘dogs’ Category

Why a Dog Wish Psychiatric Service Dog is SUPERIOR, by Bob Taylor

Why a Dog Wish Psychiatric Service Dog is SUPERIOR, by Bob Taylor.

Turning Point

OBarbara and Mama LOVEne year ago today, I was sprawled on a blanket in the vet’s office. My beautiful, spiritual, best companion – a Golden Retriever named Barbara Bush Mallory – had told me that morning that it was time. She needed to give up the fight. We laid down together, just to be there for each other. And later, I left the vet’s office without my companion. As I sobbed my way to the car, I held tight to her collar. Three days later, I returned to pick up her ashes and a plaster cast of her pawprint.

Today I write about her – for myself. The past year has been an emotional one, and at times I have felt so lonely, so alone, so misunderstood. I live in a new home now. I moved away from St. Petersburg and the home where I saw Barbara in every room after she was gone. Now I am in an almost-perfect small town, with love and friends and beauty filling my life. Still, it does not feel like home. I have been unable to fully unpack – especially in the room where I’d planned to hang my dog art collection – because I do not feel complete. I miss my precious Barbara. It isn’t home. How could it be? I am, for the first time in my 57 years, going through life without a dog.

I don’t mean to say anything negative about what’s happened since I moved here. I can’t count the number of fantastic trips I’ve taken. I can’t count how much I’ve laughed. So many happy days, so many new friends and new emotions. I even rode a horse, and hope to do it again.

Still, there are no words to describe what it’s like to wake up in the morning and still look down to see if Barbara is there, sleeping by my side. I dream about her regularly. And just this week, I SWEAR she barked to wake me up. It was just one loud bark, but it was indisputably her voice. “Get up, Mama. I need to go outSIDE…BARK!”

I have waited until today to go through “her” box. When I opened the box, oh, the wonderful perfume of that sweet dog filled the air. I laid my head on her little pillow and bawled. I have touched her collar and rubbed it on my face. I have thumbed through photos and little things I scribbled down over the course of her life. We had such a life. I’m sorry to say that much of it was bad. For me. I tried to keep my emotions away from her. We walked every day, went swimming, made friends, sang, danced, and did everything we could to enjoy life. And then she got cancer, and it was time for me to be her caregiver. Through it all, right up until the last day, she faced life with a wagging tail and constant kisses for her mama.

I’d give everything I have for just one more day with her. But today marks a turning point. She is not coming back, and I must go into the future with a happy, positive “Golden Retriever Attitude.” I call it GRAttitude. Makes sense to me.

Get those lizBarbara Hunting Lizards at Boppie's 5-11ards, my sweet Barbara, just like you did in this picture. Chase all of heaven’s squirrels. Be young and free. Wait for your mama. I’ll be there one day, and I hope you’ll be right there, wagging your tail.

Mama always loves you. 

B

So there’s this guy and his dog…

Best book you'll read this year.

Best book you’ll read this year.

Sometimes, you discover something and want to shout to the world (or put it on Twitter), “Look at this miraculous discovery! Get ya one!” But I didn’t do it, because, well, it’s a book – and I don’t recommend books. This is an exception.           To those who know me, it’s no secret that I LOVE dogs. I have been following Luis’ and Tuesday’s journeys via Facebook, and the more I saw, the more I knew I had to have this book. You see, even though I did not serve in the military, I have PTSD and other issues. I lost my beloved Golden Retriever, Barbara, last year and have not been the same since.

What I liked about the book was the fact that this brave author, a soldier to the core, does not try to hold back his feelings. We are right there with him in battle, experiencing fear and frustration I’ve never imagined. CPT Montalvan never quit. He never complained and he kept helping until he could no longer serve.

His description of what it’s like to experience PTSD “moments” hit right on for me, and his words should help family and friends understand what we go through. Because if you have not experienced this “brain curse,” you can try to understand, but then you’ll probably think, “He/she should be over that by now.” Or worst of all, “He/she is just doing that to get out of going to work.” Little do y’all know that when a person is in the vice grip of PTSD going from one room to another makes you filled with fear. In the worst cases, when you cannot go to that other room, you want to give up. Luis Montalvan went through this, and in a “don’t-feel-sorry-for-me” writing style, lets you into his life – the life of anyone – not just vets – who suffer conditions not visible to the eye. Oh, how he suffered.Then, Tuesday entered his life, and although trepadacious, Luis realized he was no longer trapped. Tuesday brought freedom and confidence to Luis, and Luis returned it to Tuesday, a sensitive, goofy, and loyal creature.

The best part of this book is the way he explains the special connection between a human and a pet (which is great) and a human and his/her “dialed in” dog. I had this experience, but could neither explain it nor get others to understand.

In crisp, write-like-you-speak language, we go through the highs and lows. We laugh uproariously at Tuesday’s antics and get lumps in our throats when we hear Luis’ heart cry… But always, always, always, Tuesday and Luis emerge victorious.
I loved this book so much that I told my friends I’d buy their copies back if they didn’t learn one thing.
I seldom call a book a must-read, but here it is

Remembering those who are gone

Last night, in my first volunteer assignment for our lovely Hospice, I helped at the group’s annual Renewal event. It was a time for people to remember those they’ve lost. We opened with a prayer and introduction, and then the hospice grief counselor sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Next, attendees had an opportunity to say a few words about their loved ones, if they felt like talking (some didn’t). Then they lit a small candle and placed an ornament on the tree in memory of their loved one/s.

Then Brian lit four special candles.

1. For grief, which we all experience, even if we’ve been fortunate and have not yet lost                       someone dear.

2. For courage, which we need to keep going after a loss.

3. For memory, which will never leave us; those we love will always be with us.

4. For love, which does not fail. “Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the             greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13

We sang again, then stood, and held hands to form a never-ending circle, while Brian said another prayer.  Hug all around after that, followed by some refreshments.

I was there as a volunteer, so no one knew I was also there because I lost a loved one this year, and I miss her more than ever during this, my first Christmas in High Springs. I think about her all the time, especially on days like today – the air is crisp, the temperature is in the 40’s, and there are all sorts of places to explore and “sniff.” She loved the cold weather.

This morning, I’d planned to do my Christmas cards. I went to the drawer where I’d stored them for the move. They are sweet little cards, but I cannot send them because the image makes me cry. It’s a painting Christmas 2005 2 (2)of all types of dogs and puppies, dancing around a snowman. The littlest things just bring me to my knees with missing her.

I guess what I want to say is that if you know someone who has lost a human or “animal” loved one, please don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t think, “Well, maybe she’s not thinking about that right now,” or “I don’t want to bring it up; it will just upset her.” Trust me; we’re all thinking about it right now, and maybe we’d like to know that you care. Maybe we’d like a hug or just a few words so we know you recognize what we’re going through.

I lost my son 27 years ago, and my dad passed in 1994. I still think about them. And I still think about my sweet, precious Barbara, whose joyous spirit and unconditional love embodied what we need to remember at this time of year.