[Authors note: This was written months ago, and my wife asked me not to publish it at the time. Not exactly smart to taunt the Devil, and she thought this fell into that category. She was probably right. Read on to the end for an update.]
This summer started off as a drag. I’d come out of the spring with my writing blistering along, my physical condition improving all the time, and life going pretty well.
Then June hit, and along with the death of Stormy, I spent a day in the hospital, and a funk set in that curtailed the writing. I mourned my dog and decided to “man up” and get back to work.
That came to a crashing halt when I tore a muscle in my calf. Not only was I not walking any great distances, but I was having a hard time just hoofing it to the bus a few blocks away.
This past two week period has officially marked the end of that phase. I have said it is to be, and so it shall be.
I’ve written consistently on all three books I’m working on, started a collection of short stories for a really neat project we’ll talk about down the road, and begun recording the next Michael DiMercurio novel.
All of those are good things. All of them positive. All of them nifty. But two other things happened this last weekend that really made things better.
This weekend we resumed the hunt for a new rescue dog. We had put that on hold since our back yard was a disaster zone with construction going on next door. We had no back fence, and for a few weeks we had a nine-foot pit adjacent to our southern border. Much like President Trump, we are in favor of “building the wall” along that southern border. But until the ground was filled in, and the house framed up, there was no way that was going to happen. With no fence, there could be no dog.
Today the roof trusses are being delivered (allegedly) and should be in place by Friday. That means they can clean up the piles of plywood in the yard, level out the dirt piles, and restore our fence.
With a fence there must be a dog. Saturday and Sunday we visited rescue dogs again, knowing we were almost there. The guy we met on Saturday was a 1.5 year old Australian Shepherd named Duke. What a kid. He was a ball of tail-wagging, face-licking, let’s-go-for-a-walk joy. He had exactly zero inhibitions about throwing himself directly into a loving relationship with me. He reminded me of one friend in particular who regularly takes to Facebook to proclaim the previous night’s date “THE ONE” to the derision of all of us who haunt that timeline. We’ve seen “THE ONE” so many times before that we just can’t take it seriously.
Duke, however, is one of those dogs who will spend about a week in rescue foster before someone has their heart melt in response and he will be delivered to a new forever home.
Sunday we revisited Chewy. I am sure that it’s short for Chewbacca, but my wife isn’t quite as sure. Chewy is a few years older than Duke, and he’s painfully shy. This struck a note for us, because Stormy was not just shy, but fearful in her time with us. I loved Stormy with my entire heart, and knew that she loved me as well. But it’s hard to have that unrequited love as an issue, and I needed to know that Chewy wouldn’t be another dog who couldn’t even look at me for the first three years.
We arrived to play with him at the foster home, and he gallivanted around with their other dogs. He would come for treats, just like the last time, and tolerated being petted. But he kept retreating and watching from the stairs to the deck. He wasn’t fearful, but cautious.
We took him for a walk and stopped under a tree and just petted him in the shade. I needed to know where he’d be if he came home with us, so we gently rolled him on his side and touched his belly, his paws, tail, face, and talked to him as we made sure he wasn’t going to panic.
We had no need to fear. After a few minutes he quit shaking (it was minor) and relaxed. Then he actually began to enjoy the pets. Finally, he started to doze off – that crash that comes after the Adrenaline has been pumping. You see, I think he was upset that when these two people put him on the leash and walked away from his most recent home, he was going to have to give up a family and dogs that clearly loved him.
We returned him to the fosters and told them we’d love to adopt him, but we had to wait another two weeks for a fence. Not a problem. While we were talking, he met the final benchmark: he wandered over to where I was sitting and asked to be petted without my calling him, or offering snacks. He was just glad to have me as a part of his life.
That’s a big deal. I will always love all of the dogs I’ve shared my life with. They have given me so much more than anything I’ve done for them that the math is not even possible. Stormy taught me about kindness, patience, and persistence. She was damaged when she came to our home, and on the day she died she was whole again.
It is our hope that Chewy will bond with us even more quickly, and that his healing is rapid. But we’ve got the experience and training in how to deal with a shy dog: Stormy takes the credit for that!
Welcome to our lives Chewy. We will have your dishes and kennel ready when you arrive. And a brand new fence to keep you safe in your new home.
The other good thing? I walked to work today, and am writing this on my laptop. Turns out my laptop case fits nicely in my gigantic backpack. Three miles, good time, and no pain in my leg.
Lots of healing going on in my life. And it’s a joy to share it with you. I hope, and pray, that if you are reading this and in need of healing, that you feel my encouragement across the miles. I know that I truly appreciate all the encouragement the readers have sent me over the past two months.
Now, get ready, because here is the first in a long string of pictures of Chewy if all goes well. Ain’t he adorable?
Be well, and be healed.
[UPDATE. So, it turns out that the day after this was written I tore the muscle again. Once that had healed, I got sick. And stayed sick for a month. During that month the fence made no progress, and I started visiting specialists to get well. I did, but it wasn’t fun.
I’ve not resumed walking. It’s been five months since I was on the upturn and have fallen into sloth in the physical realm. I completed the audio book, wrote more than a bit on other projects, and just struggled to get along.
Chewy is doing better all the time. He’s a “forager” when he’s bored. That means any bag he meets must be opened. He’s chewed off the closures on my backpacks, and rooted around in Kip’s knitting bags. Not overly destructive, but annoying. He takes a perverse pleasure in chewing the finger tips off of my gloves and mittens. I’ve bought a lot of new gloves and mittens in the last month.
Christmas is here, and now the Santa madness has begun. I’m healthy now, and will be resuming workouts. Chewy is a blessing, and our home is warm on cold nights. And the fence, well…. It’s up, but not well done. The builder and I agreed that could wait until spring. Good enough for the moment. The ground is frozen now so it’s gotta wait.
That’s the update. Be well!]