Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Good Bye Sweet Harley

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“There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.”

Rudyard Kipling – The Power of a Dog

The picture above may be blurry, but this is the Harley that I knew and loved.  A merry little dog who couldn’t get enough love or attention.  Today, Harley joined his sister Snickers, adopted brother Mookie and my dog Rascal in what I hope is a better place.  He was a silly little goof ball who until he was almost 13 didn’t realize that he was no longer a youngster.  A dog that woke up every morning expecting attention and toast – in that order.  A dog that lived his life to the fullest and who really only changed when his sister was no longer there to protect him.

Harley was not a tough dog.  He was a lover, not a fighter.  I’ve written about this before, but anytime that I saw Harley, he was always beyond excited to see me – so much so, that he’d spray me with pee, but how could I be mad at someone so happy to see me!  He was a sweetheart that was playful but never really got the hang of playing.  Throw a ball to Harley and it would roll on past him.  Instead, he’d look at you, with his big brown eyes, wagging his stub of a tail (even for a Cocker Spaniel it was a little small) wanting attention, not game play.  Put a stuffed animal in front of him, he moved away.  Harley cared about treats and attention – he didn’t have time for anything else.

I wrote about Harley before, in a blog entry called “Harley and Me”.  From that entry:

“I always wondered why dogs live such a short life compared to humans.  The best answer that I’ve ever heard came from an article on lgd.org courtesy of vet Linda Bobo.  She was putting down a family dog and after, she and the family wondered about the very same thing.  The family’s four year old son came up with the following: “Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody and being nice, right? Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Today, my sister, niece and nephew are experiencing the heartbreak that comes with losing a cherished family member.  As hard as it is, I hope that knowing that they did the right thing for little Harley will bring them comfort.  They loved the dog with all of their hearts.  I’ll miss him too.  But, it’s still worth “giving a dog your heart to tear” for all of the unconditional love and joy that they bring.  I will always be grateful to have had Harley for a furry nephew.  Good bye my sweet Harley.

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Southern Fried and Dignified

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As part of my plan to de-stress a bit, I went away to North Carolina to visit my good friend Claudette.  The Type A in me usually does my research on any destination that I go to.  This time, I decided to do no research.  I was simply putting my faith in a local who knew exactly what she was doing and I LOVED the experience.  Instead of doing every touristy thing out there, I got to experience Winston Salem and the surrounding counties the way they were meant to be seen – almost like a local.  I felt at one with the people in this lovely little place.  I think I was meant to live in the south.  I loved the pink cowboy hat I tried on, the hospitality, the fact that my hair was bigger and bouncier there and the fact that I felt really understood by the women there.  I was chatting with some people at a restaurant (they are so friendly there, which I love) – I told them about my HORRIBLE experience at a Pittsburgh Steelers game last year  when my Longchamps purse was cruelly (and unusually) taken from me and I was forced to put the contents of my bag in a hideous Steelers clear plastic bag and they were outraged.  I was told that no one takes a Southern Ladies’ pocketbook – nobody – I felt like I had come home.   If I have to beg, borrow or steal (not Steeler) –  no one will ever take my pocketbook again!

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Dr. Oz has a black Labrador Retriever and has commented on the stress relief that pets provide.  My friend had a beautiful Golden Retriever/Labrador Retriever cross.  It was just the sweetest dog ever (aside from the dog that I grew up with) and having the chance to be around a dog for 3 days was also very soothing.  This dog loved attention, but was so gentle.  He was an 80 pound marshmallow.

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It was also nice to go to a place where the pace was slower.  Just being able to stroll instead of rushing from place to place was nice.  The only complaints?  Hot tea is not a big deal there and I’m a tea drinker.  Sweet tea to me is just torture in a glass, I’m a British subject  and I need a steamy hot beverage.  It was also unseasonably cold, but you can’t control the weather.  It’s a small price to pay for the fabulous experience that I had.  Check out some of my favourite pics…

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Old Salem

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Old Salem

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Chapel Hill (UNC)

So what am I grateful for?  That’s simple.  I’m grateful I got to see my friends – I even got to catch up with a friend from junior high who happened to live in a nearby town.  I was touched that she drove all the way out to see me.  I’m grateful that Claudette took us to such great places.  I’m grateful that I had a chance to spend time with such a special doggy and I’m grateful that I had a chance to get away from it all for a few days.


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Harley and Me

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Image courtesy of my niece…

I’m a dog lover.  I always have been and I always will be.  If you’ve ever walked with me and a dog patters by, I always get distracted and ignore the people next to me.  It’s all about the dog.  Dr. Oz has a few pets, including a Black Lab named Rosie – how cute is that!  He offers the following advice on owning a pet (from his blog on DoctorOz.com): “Owning a pet can have positive effects on your cholesterol and help fight depression. Petting your animal has been clinically proven to reduce blood pressure and increase serotonin, a hormone that helps to elevate your mood.”  I can tell you, that in general, I am much happier when there is a dog around.  The only problem is, that like many people, my heart has been shattered by the loss of a pet.  I grew up with a beautiful black and tan American Cocker Spaniel named Rascal.  I’ve written about him in passing once before, in an article about depression, that I’ve already re-posted once.  I had Rascal from the time that I was 7 until I was 21.  He was my best friend, constant companion, faithful confidante and all around best dog in the world.  He had a joy in life that was infectious, a sweet disposition, the patience of a saint (I’ll write more on my boy later – but really, I deserved a few more bites than I ever got), and the compassion that only dogs can show.  Here is where it gets depressing…

I went home to Nova Scotia, many years ago to get my wisdom teeth out.  My dog was a senior at that point, but still stayed by my side as I was recovering.  He always stayed with me when I was sick or suffering – it’s that compassion that dogs have that people could use a little of.  He was sick himself at that point with cancer, but as anyone with a dog can tell you, their people come first.  I knew that this would be the last time that I would see my beloved dog, and it broke my heart.  My last night at home (I was living in Toronto), he was trying to sleep on the cool tile in the hallway.  I had to be with him, so that he would know that he would always be my best boy, my sweet prince and my beloved booboo forever.  I lay on the floor next to him crying all night.  I pet his velvety nose, his soft ears, held each of his paws in my hand and hugged him.  My patient boy knew that I needed this and even though he wanted to sleep and he probably would rather have escaped, he let me complete my ritual.  I was trying, I guess, to memorize my dog.  He sighed, and instead of getting up, licked my hand as if to say, “I know that you need this, and even though I’m tired and I’d rather dream about my dog cookies and running through the grass the way I used to, I’ll let you.”  Dogs sacrifice for us…and when they get older we need to sacrifice for them…

Which brings me to my furry nephew Harley.  I dog sat this weekend.  Harley is also a senior, having celebrated his “Bark Mitzvah” (13 years for a dog).  Harley is also an American Cocker Spaniel.  A beautiful blond, unlike the dark handsomeness of Rascal.  Like Rascal, Harley has a merry disposition.  He was that silly goof that was always into everything and getting into trouble.  You can never stay mad at Harley – he’s a cutie.  He cares about only 3 things in life – 1) food, 2) love and 3) sleep and yes, it’s in that order.  When I read the book “Marley and Me”, their trouble-making Yellow Lab reminded me of Harley.  Harley is not the smartest dog in the world (sorry Donna), but he was always an adorable love sponge.  He used to get so excited when I’d visit that he pee all over my leg.  I couldn’t be that upset – who else has that much emotion over a Jill sighting?  He had a ready smile – really – he was a smiling dog and loved nothing better than to sit in your lap and have you pat him, for hours.  His poor sister Snickers (now in doggy heaven) always got shoved out of love’s way by Harley – but she knew he needed the attention more.

When Snickers died, Harley had a shock. He’d never been alone, and within the last year, the merry little boy had changed so much.  When I came to take care of him, he initially was afraid of me.  It lasted about 3 seconds, but he just leaned his little body against me, in relief.  I had to carry the former bounciest dog around, down the stairs to take him for a walk.  My shock was when he couldn’t find his way back into the house.  Little Harley had aged, and the happiest dog ever was tentative in a way that I had never seen before.  He was fairly calm as the day wore on, even taking a nap, but seeing him so fragile has hurt my heart.  This morning, I woke him up at 9 for a walk, and again, he had trouble getting started and finding his water bowl.  I was going to take him out again, but once we got to the living room, Harley decided that he needed a nap more than a call to nature.  I sat with him on the floor, so that he could lean against me, like he used to, and I gently patted the sweet little boy.  As he tried to get comfortable, I kept my hand on him, so he’d know that I was there (he has some vision problems) and to help keep him calm.  I needed this just as much as he did and once again, I started crying because even though it may not be Harley’s time, I know that once day, this joyful little dog will go on to heaven to be with my sweet furry niece Snickers and my Rascal.  It hurt that this love sponge, needed affection so much less than he used to.

I always wondered why dogs live such a short life compared to humans.  The best answer that I’ve ever heard came from an article on lgd.org courtesy of vet Linda Bobo.  She was putting down a family dog and after, she and the family wondered about the very same thing.  The family’s four year old son came up with the following: “Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody and being nice, right? Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”  As much as a dog breaks my heart, I will have one of my own one day because the unconditional love that they provide is worth the pain.  I hope that anyone who has or plans to get a dog knows that they grow up and grow older.  They need the same love and patience as a senior that they did when they were a puppy.  Don’t abandon them in their time of need – they would never do that to you.  

Today, I am grateful for the love that dogs like Rascal, Snickers and Harley have given me.  I’m grateful that I was able to give Harley a bit of comfort.  I’m grateful that I know so many people who have or have had dogs that love them even when they are no longer the fun, cute puppy that they grew to love.  A senior dog may be slower, and greyer but they need as much love, or more than a puppy…