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Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: The Old Ones

Our dogwood May, 2013
It's Memorial Day 2013.  I think about our veterans, living and gone. I think about my mom and dad, and aunt and uncle.... I think about my brother in law, Bill and my darling sister (in law) Kaya.....

I think about the old dogs.  Winger Joseph and Jesse Ann.

Real names: Keltoi's Power Play, CGN and Truhart's Rescue Remedy, CGC. Winger was from a breeder and Jesse was from a cattledog rescue.

Christmas with the old here to see picture.

Had we but known it, that was our last Christmas together.  I'm very grateful we have that formal picture. By Christmas 2011, they had left us and (I'm convinced) brought Artie into our lives.  (Read The Story HERE. And Part 2 HERE.) I knew Jesse was getting a bit frail and she had some health issues but cattledogs are tough. I really figured Winger would definitely still be with us next holiday season.

The dogwood tree the spousal unit planted in 2010 or '11 (I can't remember) is getting bigger.  It makes me think of their dear hearts.  I hope it outlives me.  Every year I pray for it to bloom and thrive. At its base is a rustic cattledog metal sculpture.

I thought about owning other breeds as I've gotten older and I've fostered some of them. Border Terriers, Papillons, Pit types.... Elke, of course,  is a lovely mix of Elkhound, Shiba, Spaniel and Hound.

But I do think cattledogs are my Heart Dogs and it's very hard to conceive of my life without one in it.

Jamie with dogs 2003
Dri, Jesse and Winger
Winger was with us just short of 10 years (born 3/14/99, arrived her April '01, died 2/11/11).  Jesse was with us from Valentine's Day 2001 to August 2011. Not long enough.  He was almost 12, she was somewhere between 13 and 15, as near as we can reckon. Jamie has Jesse's ashes now, as it should be. I gave the box of Jesse's ashes to her when she visited us last.  Jesse was as much Jamie's dog as ours. So was Wingie. She came into our lives around the same time Jesse Ann and Winger did. We sort of "adopted" her too. The dogs were our Family.  So is Jamie.

Their collars still adorn my mantle. Winger's collar came with him the day he arrived, terrified in a crate, flying from California, until the day he left us, holding him, while his mighty, loving heart stopped.  Jesse wore hers almost the whole time she was with us!

Mom and Wingie on
a road trip to Florida
Darling, weirdo, "pansy-ass-fairy-boy" Wingie, who came to us so damaged, frightened and abused in spirit we never saw his beautiful raccoon tail until he'd been with us three days.  He finally got over his fear of men and blossomed even though he always was scared of thunder and fireworks and had little seizures from age five years on. (Oh yes, and he ate poop. Gross. His worst trait.) A champ at traveling, every trip.  Best traveling dog ever. Loved to play ball, leaping and hopping on a moon-shadow, catching the ball waaaay above your head!  Such a willing dog. Favorite place to sleep: on anyone's legs. Often his head was on or by your foot. If you were at the computer, you had to be careful you didn't trip over him. If you got up, even as he aged, he'd pop up and be fully alert and ready to go. Always "commenting" on every little thing. (His second worst trait.) "Winger, SHUT the F-up!" was said hourly by anyone near by.  Would squeak a stuffy until the squeaker gave it up yet rarely destroyed a toy.  So desperately wanted to get Evil Squirrel.  Loved the water and would fully immerse himself, head and all! Wonderful trail and hiking dog, going a bit ahead of you with his "can't miss it" raccoon tail.  He stop and look for you over his shoulder and wait. (I know he is waiting still for Mom at the Bridge.)  He'd eat anything!  "Clean up in aisle seven!" meant let him in the kitchen to do his job. When he didn't eat for a day, I knew it was near his time. At the end his mighty heart grew three sizes (a tumor) and it was time to let him go. He was a very good dog, so well-behaved.  Probably the best behaved dog I've had yet.  He loved the Spousal Unit, Auntie Jamie, Uncle Daddy, Auntie Megs but he loved, loved, LOVED me. I think he would have died for me.

Jesse 2006
Jesse Ann, the princess. The Boss from Day One. Calm, confident, assertive. So easy-going (except where lawn mowers and vacuums were concerned). Cattledog-stalwart to the end until that time that her body couldn't take much more. The softest ears in Christendom.  Immediately house-trained from day one. Always wanted to play ball!  Madly waggling her stubby at the word "Ball?" Even though, at the very end, she could only go a few shaky, wobbling feet to get the ball, she still wanted to play. Marking like an intact male every where she went on a walk. Learned how to play ball by watching Winger and then, for years, beating him every time!  (We'd keep score, like a volley ball match.) Had the older, pathetic, gimpy dog act going on and then would stealthfully hop over a 4 foot fence like it didn't exist. Quiet; rarely barked.  Except when we'd let them out to potty. She would wait just outside the door for Winger and then snarl, "Barrra-raaar!" right in his face.  Just to remind him just who was who.  She would lean against you and, curving her spine,  bash her head into your jaw when she wanted a pat. She could do "pity-paw" on command.  You would throw the ball, she'd bring it back and you could say "Not close enough, not close up....Cheater!" until it was finally at your feet easily within reach.. Stubborn, lazy and smart.  She was easy; such an easy dog to live with.

I've loved all my "grown-up" dogs: Lab-Shep: Tzara, Cattledogs: Hart, True, Druid and German Pinscher: Dri.   Hart lived the longest (4.22.93-8.19.09, most of those years with just her daddy). We just had Wingie and Jess the longest, it seems. 

I love Elke and Artie with all my heart and we are so blessed to have them with us and sharing our lives.  They can be a royal pain but I adore them!  

But now and then....I miss the Old Ones. Here's a classic moment from around 2005.

Always in our hearts.  (And a million blessings to you, Dri, wherever you are....)

Wingie JoJo & Jesse Ann
Until we meet again.

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