Furry Flashbacks – What the…??

During the 17 years that I have been a doggie mom, I have asked, “What the…??” numerous times. Most of the time, I end up laughing and shaking my head. But one time in particular left me thinking that I had lost my mind.

I was heading to the gym, but before I left, I put some frozen chicken breasts (four or five) in a glass casserole dish and set them on the counter to defrost. I slid the dish as far back on the counter as I could and chuckled while I did. I remember specifically thinking, “Rocky’s not going to bother this. He’s too old and it’s too far back on the counter.” (This was pre-Jacques.) With that, I went to the gym.

When I returned home about two hours later, I was greeted with great fanfare (as usual) by Rocky. He escorted me through the kitchen barking and dancing the whole way. I got to the living room and stopped. Something was wrong. I looked back at the kitchen but didn’t notice anything out of place, so I continued through the living room to let Rocky out. I stopped again… I had this nagging feeling. Something wasn’t right. I went back to the kitchen, turned the light on and quickly looked around, but, again, nothing caught my attention. As I turned to leave, it dawned on me. The casserole dish had been moved.

I walked over to inspect it. It was only moved a few inches… but there was now only one chicken breast in it. And there was no drips down the side of the cabinet; no liquid of any kind on the floor. There was no indication of what happened to that chicken. As I stood and looked at the crime scene, it was obvious who the culprit was, but I couldn’t figure out how he did it. I tried to imagine the scene and just couldn’t. For a few minutes I really felt like I was losing my mind. Surely I didn’t imagine putting out all that chicken? Why would I only set out one breast?? If Rocky ate them, how did he get them and a) not make a mess or b) not break the glass dish? Was it Ancient Aliens? Or was I just losing my mind??

IMG_0213The casserole dish was left flush with the back wall on a 2+ft. deep counter top.

I still have no idea exactly how Rocky managed to get to the chicken, but it’s obvious that’s what happened. He, of course, played dumb when I asked him about it. (And don’t think eating all that chicken kept him from eating his dinner!) From then on, if something needed to be defrosted that day, I put it in the sink. I wasn’t taking any chances after that! Oh, Rocky… what the…???

IMG_1332“Missing chicken? I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

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Happy Rocky-tober 2015

For our family, October is a special month. Sometime during this month, 15 years ago a puppy was born. This wasn’t just any puppy. It was a puppy that would forever change my life and live in my heart. I witnessed this little puppy get hit by a truck – not once, but TWICE. I watched in amazement as he got up and walked off. And as I rushed him to the vet, my heart melted as he climbed into my lap. This little guy was down, but he certainly wasn’t out – and that’s how he got the name Rocky. That would be the theme of his life. He was able to take the things life threw at him in stride, and while he would occasionally get down, he was a fighter… he was never out.

He was the goofiest, most frustrating, most lovable, most “special” dog I ever met. So, in honor of the “special”-ness that was Rocky, I would like to wish you a Happy Rocky-tober! Be kind to the lost, wounded, and special souls in your life. And always carpe canine!

happy_rocky-tober

Furry Flashbacks – The Time Niko Almost Ate My Friend

A number of our blogoshpere friends know that mid-July is ruff at our house. We lost Rocky on July 14, 2014 and Niko on July 22, 2010. They were both beloved family members. To honor Niko’s memory, I decided I would share one of my favorite stories about him. It still makes me cry – but they’re tears of laughter. I can never get through the story without laughing hysterically. I hope it at least gives you a chuckle.


In the summer of 2000, my dear friend, Shaun*, came to visit. Shaun was a big guy (like 6’5”), very amiable (he’s Canadian, after all), and while quite ornery, he was (and still is) a genuinely good guy. None of that mattered to Niko. For whatever reason, Niko didn’t like Shaun.

One day during his visit, Shaun offered to get groceries and cook a curry dinner at my place. I gave him a key to the house and thought nothing more of it. While sitting at lunch with a friend, I realized that Shaun would be entering the house without me… and I wasn’t sure how Niko would handle that. My friend and I raced back to the house and saw the front door ajar. Before he had stopped the car, I jumped out and started running towards the door. I heard fierce barking and ran faster. I hit the door full force and was stopped in my tracks. The door wouldn’t budge. I was able to poke my head through the crack and couldn’t believe my eyes. There, in the small foyer, was my giant friend crouched down into a ball. Across the room was Niko – ears back, teeth showing. He was not about to let this guy into the house!

Don’t let his smile fool you… He didn’t like strangers coming into his house!

I couldn’t quite process what was going on. There were grocery sacks next to Shaun, and between Niko and him was a large package of chicken. I just stood there for a second not knowing what to do. Finally I shoved my way past Shaun and into the house. I yelled Niko’s name which seemed to get his attention momentarily before he refocused on the “intruder.” After calling his name a few more times and “petting” Shaun in a lame attempt to show Niko that Shaun wasn’t a threat, Niko finally came around and ran to me.

Once the situation was diffused, Shaun, our friend, and I finally started to laugh at the absurdity of it all. I Shaun asked if the chicken was supposed to be our dinner; he said yes. Then I asked him why it was in the middle of the room. He told me that he was hoping Niko would rather eat the chicken than him. Fair enough.

From what I remember, Shaun gave Niko some curried chicken that night which finally won Niko over (or at least helped him decide to be a little nicer to Shaun).

*Shaun isn’t the guy’s real name, but it’s close enough.

Dear Rocky – A Year Later

Dear Rocky,

It seems like forever ago since I last saw you. It has been a year since you crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I still call your name… I still feel the void where your ample presence should be. My heart still feels broken. I still miss you so very much. It has been so hard not to collapse under the sadness of losing you. I have wanted to fall apart many, many times. But I made a promise to you – I promised that I would go, do see, and explore in your memory. I promised to live life every day. And while some days I’m more successful than others, I try every day.

In this past year, Daddy and I (and sometimes Jacques too) have traveled to numerous places around the globe. In each city and each country, we raise our glasses and toast you. At the end of each day or each new adventure, we say, “We think Rocky would approve!” and, my furry buddy, I really do think you would approve.

Whether it’s summoning the courage to wander around a foreign city alone, finding the strength to make it to the top of a volcano, or facing medical challenges with an “it’s going to be what it’s going to be” attitude – I find myself channeling my inner-Rocky often. I try to face life’s challenges with your light heart and your determination. You might not be here in the fur, but you are definitely with me in spirit.

I miss you every day. Every. Day. And I still cry. A lot. But I wouldn’t trade the experience of having you in my life for anything. You brought me such happiness and sheer joy… in life and now in memory. I promise to keep trying, to keep doing my best, and to never stop exploring.

Mommy loves you so much. Forever.

Love,
Mommy

rockyThis is one of my favorite pictures of Rocky. It always makes me smile. He was 5 years old but still acted like a puppy – so goofy and uncoordinated. That was just one of the many things I loved about him.

Furry Flashbacks – Martini Anyone?

(Or… Rocky Gets A Dose of His Own Medicine)

(Or… If Looks Could Kill)

In late 2008, Rocky was having a hard time with one of his paws. He had a lick granuloma that started between his toes and wound up involving his whole paw. (For those not in the know – a lick granuloma is often referred to as a hot spot. It is an irritated area that an animal relentlessly licks causing further irritation/infection and results in a downward spiral from there.) He was visibly uncomfortable and panted a lot. He would even growl at me when I got too close to his paw. One of the main things with a lick granuloma is to break the animal’s cycle of licking the irritated spot, so I tried putting a doggie bootie on him. After realizing that I was going to have to tape the stupid bootie on him to get it to stay put (those things are worthless!), I decided that having a wet paw in an enclosed, not well ventilated bag was probably not the best idea ever, so I pulled out the trusty standby otherwise known as “the cone of shame.”

Now, I don’t want to say that Rocky had this coming, but he did make it difficult for Niko when Niko had to wear the cone. Maybe seeing what it was like on the other side of the cone wouldn’t be so bad for him. Apparently it was. After putting the cone on Rocky, he freaked out and was not happy. He refused to move and would only shoot daggers at me with his eyes. On the upside, once I took the cone off him (which was almost immediately after seeing his reaction to it), Rocky was VERY nice to me and didn’t growl anymore when I doctored his foot.

martini_rocky

Furry Flashbacks – An Engagement Story

When my husband and I started dating, I told him early on that I was a package deal. I let him know that I came with a Niko, a Rocky, and a Gina. Never one to back down from a challenge, he said, “No problem.” (Good answer, honey!) It didn’t take long before we were one big happy (and furry) family.

My husband (a.k.a A3) and I had been dating a little over a year when Niko passed. Niko was my first true love. Losing him was devastating. A3 was grief stricken as well and did his best to comfort me. A few months after Niko was gone, I was having a particularly bad day. A3 drove the 60 miles that separated us just to have lunch with me in hopes of brightening my day. Seeing his face made me feel better. After lunch, I went back to work and was so glad and so ready to go home by the end of the day.

As I turned into my neighborhood, I immediately knew something wasn’t right. A3’s truck was in the driveway. I was happy but quite puzzled. There was something on the front door… It was a sign telling me to hurry and go to the backyard.

note

(I think at this point I knew what was happening but I was in such a state of disbelief. It was almost like an out of body experience.)

I went inside and through the house to the backyard. And there were my loves. A3 stood smiling at me (and looking quite handsome, I must say). Next to him was Rocky. And on a table near Niko’s favorite tree was a bouquet of my favorite flowers, one of Niko’s tennis balls, and a picture of Niko. The sight quite literally took my breath away.

I joined them under the tree where A3 proceeded to say the sweetest, most beautiful things to me before getting down on his knee and asking if I would marry him.

(Rocky had gotten bored by this point and had wandered off…)

The box that my beautiful ring was in had a light that shined on the solitaire, making it look as though my ring was glowing. “Why is my ring glowing? My ring is glowing!” kept going through my head. Apparently I hadn’t answered, because A3 said, “Let’s make this official, shall we?” I was brought back to Earth and gave him a resounding “YES!!!” He picked me up and spun me around. Rocky ran back to us and began to bark and jump and celebrate with us.

It was so beautiful. Having Niko and Rocky included in one of the most amazing moments of my life is something I’ll always cherish and never forget.

Everyone Needs an Auntie G

I could write volumes about why my best friend, Gina, is one of the most wonderful people ever. Volumes. And I don’t just say nice things about her because she knows way too much about all of the insane things I’ve done in my life. (Though flattery can never hurt, right?) I could wax poetic (which I have a habit of doing), but I won’t. I’ll simply say that she is an amazing woman who inspires me every day and tell you how it started.

In 2003, Gina and her 11-year old daughter came to pick me up for a fun day out. They were a little early, so I wasn’t quite ready. I left them in the living room to entertain themselves while I showered. While I was showering, I heard fierce barking – and a lot of it. It was Niko. I quickly covered myself and ran to the living room to find Gina and her daughter huddled in the corner of an over-sized chair. Gina was protectively covering her daughter while not moving and managing to keep an eye on Niko who was all but on the chair barking at them. Rocky was right there too, barking as if he was saying, “Yeah, what he said!” I was horrified and shrieked, “NIKO!!!” Niko immediately stopped barking and wagged his tail while looking at me. I was dumbfounded. Gina and her daughter uncurled themselves from the chair and looked at me with fear still in their eyes. I apologized profusely and made Niko and Rocky stay with me while I finished getting ready.

Gina, her daughter, and I went on to have a good day, even sharing a few nervous laughs about the events of that morning. (In fact, we chuckle about it from time to time even to this day!) A lot of people I know – family members included – would have distanced themselves from me after that incident, but not Gina. A few months later when I was in the midst of (another) cross-country move, she welcomed Niko, Rocky, and me to stay at her house – with her two children, cat, and husband. She never hesitated. And when, during that stay, Niko and Rocky made complete asses of themselves, she didn’t judge. She didn’t get upset. She just calmly helped me manage the chaos.

(For the record: I seriously doubt Niko would have ever done anything to Gina or her daughter because he was, in fact, a pansy. That being said, it was still an unsettling experience. He never acted that way towards them [or anyone else] again.)

100_0654Does this look like the face of a bully? He certainly was at times!

Every year that my boys were alive, their Auntie G sent them birthday presents and Christmas presents (apparently the squeakier, the better). Niko and Rocky LOVED getting packages from her!! When she came to visit, she always brought the boys special  “cookies” and didn’t complain when Rocky had pooters or Niko hounded her to throw the ball. She was firm but kind when she reprimanded Rocky for “accosting” her leg. Again – most people I know would’ve stopped associating with me or would’ve judged me. Not Gina.

She understood that these boys were my family; they were all I had. She never once said, “They’re just dogs.” In fact, she would often say, “Sure, they’re dogs, but those are your boys. They’re family.” When Niko was diagnosed with cancer, she was the first one I called. Though she had lost her brother and father to cancer only a few years before, she never belittled me for feeling the way I did. She answered my questions and held my hand though it all. When they were sick, she would tell me to give them hugs from Auntie G, which I did. (It was amazing – those hugs always seemed to make them act as though they felt better.)

When Niko and Rocky passed, she sent flowers and cards and called frequently to check on me. She helped me cope with those devastating losses and, again, never once said, “They’re just dogs.” She accepted not only me with my many, many flaws, but she accepted and loved my boys. She did from day one. It was an honest and unconditional love. It was (and still is) absolutely beautiful. And that is why Gina is my best friend and why everyone needs an Auntie G.

The boys LOVED getting packages from Auntie G! (below)

opening packages