Tag Archives: Dog

WHATEVER LOLA WANTS

Husband and I came to this marriage not only with kids in tow, but with a dog each.  Mine, a large not-so-bright rescue and his, a smart-as-a-whip beagle. After many years, we lost them both in a few weeks time, one from cancer and one died in her sleep.

A few weeks later, we visited Wayside Waifs to pick out our first dog as a married couple. We walked by dozens of lovable mutts, but it wasn’t until we passed a kennel with twelve puppies that we both paused.  A volunteer put us in an enclosed area and shuttled the dogs in.  While the other puppies nipped at my jeans and bit my fingers, a little puff of black waddled over and climbed into my lap. She plopped down, settled her tiny head onto my ankle, and expelled a loud sigh.

My husband made a case to take home one of the animated puppies attempting to cover his face in kisses. I pulled an exuberant pair off him and placed the serene black ball of fur in his hands. Sporting a pair of small, rounded un-dog-like ears we quickly dubbed her Lola Bear and walked out the door with our new best friend.

Image 6-1-15 at 3.53 PMTold she would never grow beyond forty pounds, I bought a compact flat basket for her bed and lined it with an old sweater of mine. After nine hours of whining, she agreed to sleep when we added a radio playing country western songs.

Lola quickly outgrew her little basket and the one after that.  She topped out a seventy pounds.

I’m sure there must have been struggles while house training her, but I don’t remember them. Like any dog, she probably chewed up a shoe or two and tried to run away, but those errors in judgment have been erased from my memory.

IMG_0836IMG_0838I think of her as the gentle giant that followed me from room to room where she’d settle on the floor next to me, expelling her colossal sigh. When I woke up in the morning, before my feet hit the floor, I’d hear the thump-thump of her club-like tail beating on the floorboards.
Eventually, Lola struggled with arthritis, a torn ligament and hip dysplasia. As a well-trained human, I gathered what I needed for the day and settled into one room of the house. All day I sipped on luke warm tea rather than move to the kitchen so Lola  could avoid the pain of following me there.

Husband and I met with the vet to discuss euthanasia. He said it was time and explained how lucky animals are that we have the power to put them out of their misery.  We weren’t ready then and took her home.  That “power” the vet discussed became a curse, haunting me as I looked into Lola’s brown eyes, begging her to tell me if she was ready to go. I laid on the floor with her describing what a great dog she’d been. She thumped her tail a few times, but when I began to cry she got up and walked away, not agreeing to any melancholy.

Lola’s been gone a few months now, but Husband and I still pause at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for her to lead the way to our bedroom where she’ll flop down and expel her inimitable sigh.

 

A Few Good Dogs

The other night, as I dined in a fancy French restaurant surrounded by my husband’s colleagues, the gentlemen next to me asked, “Does your dad still have the three-legged dog?”

You’d think by this point in my life I’d be used to near strangers asking me about my life, but it still startles me.  Evidently the look of shock on my face caused his wife concern and she leaned in to ask what we were talking about.

“Honey,” he said.  “This is that woman I was telling you about.  The one whose Dad had a three-legged dog.”  And then he launched into his memory of attending a Senate bonfire at my dad’s house over ten years ago.  My dad — and his three-legged dog — are memorable that way.

Normally we got our dogs and cats the way every farmer did – from the city people who drove out to the country to dump their unwanted pets.  The new animals were named without imagination – Socks because she had four white paws, Pumpkin because she arrived on Halloween, or Stupid, because, well, she was stupid.  Although, I believe she was renamed one morning after the milk truck arrived to pick up our weekly stock. Stupid barked and growled as usual but this time Mom punched open the back screen door and shouted “SHUT UP, STUPID!” just as the poor truck driver was climbing out of the cab.  He apologized and Stupid was renamed.

But our two most remarkable dogs came to us in a different way. Rookie was our first.  The tiny puppy arrived, cradled in the arms of my high school sweetheart, a birthday present.  When my boyfriend walked into our living room and handed me the dog, Dad couldn’t have looked more shocked if the guy had handed me an elephant.  Dogs did not belong in the house

Although Dad didn’t approved of the fancy baseball-referenced name, Rookie quickly became an indispensable part of farm life.  If he wasn’t already in the truck when Dad left, he’d run up the driveway and leap into the back before Dad turned onto the road in front of our house.  When my youngest brother was born, Rookie appointed himself sole guardian and planted himself on the baby’s blanket. I swear he didn’t budge until that kid was able to walk.  When Rookie died, Mom made sure he was buried where she could watch over him from the kitchen window.

It was a few years before the next good dog appeared, arriving like Rookie in the arms of my brother’s girlfriend.  He came with a sister that Dad allowed us to name Daisy evidently softening since the Rookie naming.  However, we  called the male Friday, after the day he arrived.  Daisy was a pretty little blonde haired dog while Friday, on the other hand…well, as Dad would say – he must have fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

Neither dog seemed suited to farm life and it wasn’t long before we lost Daisy to an accident.  Friday hung on though and eventually became Dad’s constant companion.  When Dad headed out to the field on his tractor, Friday ran beside the front wheels, waiting to chase whatever darted out, coming within inches of the tires.   One day, he dashed after his prey and was run over.  Dad rushed him to the vet, something unheard of for previous pets.  They amputated Friday’s leg and he survived.  We tried calling him Tripod after that, but it didn’t stick.

Being a three-legged-dog didn’t slow Friday down one bit and within a few weeks he was out with Dad, running along side the tractor, like a good dog should.  In the evenings, I’d find Dad on the front porch watching the sunset.  In his lap would be a beat up old tom cat and at his feet would be Friday.

My dad always said he was a fortunate man.  I’d smile for a moment thinking he meant his kids, but he’d continue, “Why, most farmers are lucky to have one good farm dog in their life and I’ve had two.