Thursday, September 19, 2013

I’d jump in front of a possum for you

When you called to me that night from the backyard, your familiar voice in a particularly urgent timbre, I knew something was wrong.  There you stood, in between the bush that always needs trimming and the birdbath that never seems to get used, facing off with a very large possum.  He hissed and you made a growl-y sound back, a noise from the back of your throat that I’d never quite heard before.  That you were the one closest to the house, out of the two of you, would seem to make this easy:  you merely need to turn and run inside, and I’ll slam the door behind us.  But your back was to me and I could sense the fear you had of turning and running, afraid this creature would run just a little faster.  As the person who was next in line in this stand-off, I had a bit of the same fear.  

I wondered why the possum didn’t turn and run, up the wooden fence, or around the back of the bush, but even with its hissing bravado I could sense he had the same concern, not wanting to be the first to break the stare.  You stepped forward just a bit, testing the limits, and he countered his slightly-frightened side-step by hissing with increased ferocity.  Then he mirrored your move, and you reenacted his, and for a moment it was like a dance in the boxing ring, two prize fighters moving around an invisible center.  I called to you, but you either didn’t hear me through the adrenaline or you weren’t ready to surrender.  I made a mental inventory of the weapons in the house, a short list it turns out, and I landed on the kitchen broom as the best choice, its length and solid wooden handle making up for the rather wimpy straw-end.   

My only other real option was a heavy glass vase by the back door, and as I imagined a lifetime of picking up shards of glass from the backyard, I quickly went in for the broom.  I could have come back in full offensive mode, swung the broom, and made enough of a distraction to get you inside, but I had another problem.  I’m not much for rodents. Or rather, marsupials with rat-like tails disguising themselves as rodents. My own fears began to take over and I wasn’t sure exactly how close I wanted to get to him.  He was acting more and more agitated; those teeth-baring hissing sounds, the arched back, and onyx eyes gaining in intensity.   You seemed more and more desperate, and the Muhammad Ali re-enactment had now placed you off to the side, and the direct line to the door was no longer direct.  I played out a few scenarios in my mind, all of them involving one of us getting a course of rabies shots and a definite trip to the emergency room.    

And then, with the clarity that comes when the thing you love most is in danger, I acted.  I took the few quick steps to where you stood, grabbed your collar, scooped you up, and ran inside.  Kneeling down to pet your fur, I said, “I love you so much, I’d jump in front of a possum for you.” And if I wrote country songs, I’d write that one for you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Songs for Frodo

Though there is always a lot of music in my life, I've found I tend to turn to it most in the most emotional or difficult times.  I have always enjoyed making mixtapes, or mix CDs, or now, apparently, YouTube/Spotify playlists, for myself or friends... the art of finding just the right songs, with just the right lyrics, in just the right order has been well-documented by many, not the least of which, of course, being Rob Gordon in "High Fidelity."


So, one of the first things I started doing after Frodo died was listening to music, finding some songs of solace for my broken heart.  Many of them weren't particularly dog-specific, but many were, so I decided to make a little (virtual) Dog Mixtape for myself.  There's some good stuff on here, so I thought I'd share it.  And until I can find some more words to write about him, this is a good substitute.  Thanks to all who sent me song suggestions!

(I know I should probably feel bad for using Spotify and YouTube for this, both of which probably pay songwriters actual pennies for using their work, so I promise I'll tip my local musician a little extra to make up for the bad karma.  If you enjoy this, you should do the same.)


Your Adorable Beast -- Bobby Bare, Jr.
This is the song I keep coming back to. Frodo looked so, so cute at the end of my leash.
"Obedient and true, loyal through and through, a fuzzy reflection of you."


Make Me the Man (My Dog Thinks I Am) -- Jimmy Scott
"If I was the man my dog thinks I am, I could do anything.... he must think my name's Superman"

I Love My Dog -- Cat Stevens
"All he asks from me is the food to give him strength
All he ever needs is love and that he knows he'll get....
All the pay I need comes shining through his eyes"

Frodo Nonsense

A couple years ago I took a creative writing class, and one of our assignments was to write an essay (200 words or less) of complete non-sense.  This was mine. 


It’s cold outside, but still I spring from the covers bright-eyed; thankfully my blanket is sewn onto my skin.  The downside to that is I leave pieces of myself everywhere I go.  The nice lady says I’m like a cat the way I clean myself with my tongue, which is ridiculous since I’m nothing like a cat. Still, I do enjoy freshly licked hands.  I use them to arrange my blanket that sits on the pillow which is bigger than I am.  When I eat socks, I get to exchange them for cookies.  Later, walking in the neighborhood, I smell a pizza crust around the corner and make a run for it.  The grass tickles my chin as I run.  It reminds me of chasing motorcycles, though I usually only catch their sound.  Speaking of chasing, there are creatures in my yard that I need to find, but the nice lady calls to me, shaking cookies. She talks to me in a language I cannot speak, write, or understand, and she makes perfect sense. 

Fun Facts About Frodo

A few months ago, Frodo was the Friday Featured Dog on the Facebook page of his favorite pet store, Barkstown Road.  Barkstown's owner, Kim, asked me to submit a few sentences about him, but I couldn't stop at just a few.  

I could write paragraphs about each and every one of these things, but this is a good place to start getting to know him. 


Fun Facts About Me: I am a 12-ish year-old beagle, rescued from the Mid-City Mall parking lot in June 2002 by a nice man and woman; they thought I was lost, but it turns out I was found.  Until I had to retire because of a back injury, I was well-known as the fastest dog at the Morton Avenue Dog Park.  Also, I once pick-pocketed a $100 bill out of someone’s wallet, earning me one of my many nicknames, The Artful Dodger.

Favorite Activities: Making “coves” with the blankets on the bed; walking to Barkstown Road for a treat; practicing my downward dog every morning.

Pet Peeves: Not being able to climb trees to catch squirrels; bad people who stopped good dogs like me from getting to walk on the Big Four Bridge; rain.

Special Talents:  Detecting the smallest piece of pizza crust on the other side of the street while out on a walk; knowing the distinct difference in the sound of a bag of dried fruit vs. the sound of a bag of treats; looking cute.

Dog heroes:  Hope, the Border Collie thrown out of a car on I-65 and rescued & rehabilitated by NoKill Louisville and the Arrow Fund; Ruby and Otis, because their mom owns an ENTIRE STORE full of treats.

Favorite Barkstown Road items:   Honest Kitchen food (Keen!); alligator dental chews;  Rocko’s Rewards treats; the latest trendy and colorful bandana.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Comics for Frodo

I'm not as much of a regular reader of the Sunday comics anymore, but I loved them tremendously as a kid and I still appreciate the way they can convey so much emotion and wisdom in just a few frames. There are probably a ton of doggie-centered comics (plus, obviously, Snoopy/Peanuts), but these three mean a lot to me. 


My mom sent me this cartoon years ago (she’s always been great at sending the best newspaper clippings!). I’ve kept it on my fridge ever since, through several moves. Now, it’s like she gave it to me again.

This one probably came from my mom too.  Happiness is indeed a warm puppy.

I'm not sure where this one came from, but it also has had a place on the fridge for awhile.  Note the date.