Welcome! I have started this online journal in the hopes of satisfying 2 goals; One, an outlet for creative expression, whatever may come of it. And two, an online freelance writing portfolio. I have promised myself to put down as much as I can - and here it will be.

I might have a poem or story to share, I might need to vent away on a particular subject or I may have just discovered the meaning of life. Who knows? Some will be serious, some light, some pointless and silly. Some will be writing just to write. But, hopefully each day I can be inspired by something going on. Most entries will be a little of this, a little of that. And most likely, they will not be continuous from day to day, unless I am working on a longer story that I want to break up into daily snibbles.

Like I said, anything and everything in this mind of mine, for good or for bad. It will all end up on here sooner or later!

I would honor your opinions of my endeavor and the pieces that arrive here. Feedback is crucial to my success! If you have any constructive criticism, just want to say you like/don't like, or that it affected you in some way...that would be fine. Quite nice, in fact.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Picking Out Ruger

I wanted to share the story of how we came upon adding Ruger to our family. It's one of many stories I have been writing since he left us...and it makes me super happy to remember that day. What a great dog!

Ruger was my wedding present to Mike, as Cody was his to me. Ruger was first, though, since we both always wanted a purebred shepherd. Finding an ad in the paper, we drove out to a town called East Otto, exactly in the middle of nowhere…to see a German Shepherd breeder and his new litter. This breeder - Joe - was quite an eccentric, really belonging in the town we drove to - in every way a good thing. A country boy, but really not very good at the "social skills", I liked him very much, because he was great and loving to the dogs. They were his life and his passion. He truly cared about every one of those dogs…I knew in my heart that he loved them all, like you would a large amount of your own children and that it broke his heart every time he let one go.

That is a genuine quality that is hard to find in a dog breeder. Most are in it for the money, and some will even tell you that. The others will try to sell you their false love, making you think they love their dogs, but for the most part it is a charade, part of the salesmanship needed to sell as many dogs as they can, to fund their big-screen TV and BMW and House on the Hill. It’s sickening, and all too common. Even among “good” people. They just don’t respect the dogs enough to treat them as the sentient, gentle beings they are. So trusting and dependent on the breeders, they are given exactly, or even sometimes less than what they need to make the biggest profit. It makes me cringe to think about those people. It makes me want to go out to every one of those “loving” breeders and have a heart to heart with them, or steal their dogs away in the night - their cash cows - to give them to a real, genuinely happy home, where they will be treated as they deserve to be.

But, I digress…What I mean to say, is that he was the real deal. He was passionate and caring and devoted. I loved that about him. It was obvious, maybe to just a dog lover who cares about these things, but nonetheless, I was impressed and moved by his devotion.

He was telling us about the dogs he had…they were already 10 weeks old, I think…already much older than the age when they are technically ready to be taken home. But we still weren’t ready for him yet. We had just gotten married, and we were about to depart on our first married family vacation with Mike’s family. We didn’t want to bring him home, only to leave him with someone else for a week – what a confusing transition! Not to mention what it would do to have that gap in his training. We asked if we could pick him up a month from that point…which would make him about 14 weeks old. That’s old to pick up a puppy and start from scratch! Many behaviors would have to be purged and re"written”. But it worked out well – he was incredibly smart and obedient!

We walked over to the pen to see 6 or 7 puppies frolicking together. We watched them for some time, silently enjoying the show and sizing them up. After a while, we started to notice that one of the puppies was stirring up the whole mess, every time. He would sidle up to a pup, nip at his back end, and then run for his life, being chased the whole time, the whole lot barking and yipping and wrestling. He would usually end up on top of the dog house in the middle of the pen, knowing that no one would/could follow him up there since it was too small to fit more than one dog. He was so smart!

I knew he would be the one, though I thought for a moment, “Whoa. What are we getting ourselves into with that spitfire?! Do we really want this crazy, trouble-making dog at our house? Will we even be able to train him? Or is he going to prove to be more of a handful than we can handle?”

But I fell in love with his spunky attitude, right there behind the wire fence. Staring at his beautiful coat, his huge floppy ears and his tongue lolling to the side of his mouth, panting in the aftermath of so much play. I loved him for that! He kept instigating, and we kept laughing. I glanced at Mike and he nodded. Without a word, we had picked out our baby. Love is instinctual and it is instant, in this case anyway.

We sensed he would bring so much joy into our lives, and we hit the jackpot that day. My finger hooked over an opening in the wire wall of the pen, silently willing him to come over and lick my hand, to say hello.

We got a chance to enter their den, to introduce ourselves. We snuck in, careful to not leave an opening behind us for a slithering puppy to escape through. Walking up to soon-to-be-Ruger, he performed his signature play bow, ears askew, eyes flashing and tongue lolling, he bounded away, eluding us. He wanted to play! We laughed and chased him about, infatuation stealing over us. I remember giggling unabashedly, wanting to take him home that very day. But, the preparations had to be made, and we wanted it to be perfect.

We returned a month later, ready to parent this little crazy pup, determined to make him love us as much as we already did him. We loved him enough to shower him with copious amounts of love and lavish comfort and room to roam. But we also loved him enough to be committed to giving him needed discipline and healthy food and necessary obedience lessons. All that and more...and we were so excited about our new family.

We scooped him up into the truck, onto my lap in the passenger seat of the car. I vividly remember that comforting and wholly satisfying journey back to our house. My first job as Ruger’s mommy was to cradle his 40 pound body in my arms for the whole hour and a half drive back to Alden. Some would writhe in agony…I was in heaven.

Becoming acquainted with his scent that I would be so familiar with and end up missing so much was a job I was privileged to experience. His heavy, lanky limbs and flank were a pleasure to hold. He was surprisingly calm and docile the whole way home, only squirming a few times, packed in as he was. I think he slept much of the way, as a baby does in the beginning of its precious life. He was adorable, and I adored him for that 90 minute journey, never once feeling uncomfortable or spiteful of my current position. I didn't want it to end! A beautiful imprint on my memory that will never leave me, and I thank God for that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

10 Things I Miss About Ruger

He loved being outside

The Boys

His favorite pose

Cody sticking his tongue out at Ruger...

This list is by no means comprehensive, nor is it in any particular order...but just a random off-the-top-of-my-head list of my favorite things about him that I ache to experience again.

10. His rare snuggly kisses in the morning. Since he was the height of the bed, he would walk up and rub his muzzle right into my sides, snuggling back and forth. Almost scratching his snout on me, the way an animal would against a tree, nudging his muzzle under the covers. Eyes closed, lazily rubbing back and forth, against my side, under my arm, up into the crook of my neck, making that sound a dog makes when you get that really good spot behind his ears, then kissing me sheepishly a few times before doing it all over again, almost ashamed that I am witness to this guilty doggie pleasure of his. It was rare, and it was lovely.

9. The play bow he performed so well, inviting Cody or even us, to play, wrestle, or tussle.

8. His spunky attitude, the cornerstone of his appeal; the funny, playful personality that was uniquely him.

7. His inquisitive, deep eyes…fathomless, yet invitingly warm and gentle.

6. His burps…gulping down dinner, his appetite was amazing…and the ensuing, hilarious dog belch that followed….Tail swishing the air because I was laughing so hard….”What did I do?”

5. Seeing him run to the door when arriving home, his excited face and whole body exclaiming just how happy he was for us to be home. What a spectacular feeling.

4. How he followed me from room to room, sitting on my feet or just nearby – it made me feel incredibly loved, needed and even liked…as a mom, no greater satisfaction. Who was protecting who? ;)

3. His friendship and brotherhood with Cody…I loved having the two of them occupy, love, and need each other. They were puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly - exact opposites and complementary to each other. They were brothers, keeping one another company, keeping each other in check, offering to the other just what was needed at the moment; a traveling companion, a wrestling partner, a hierarchy, someone to play with, lounge with, swim with. They were the perfect pair…Cody and Ruger.

2. His emanating, perpetual protection. I loved the feeling that he was there always; alert, aware, protective, strong and instinctual. The hair standing up on the back of his neck was enough to get mine to follow suit. The low, menacing growl, threatening whoever heard it to stay back, or else. I was glad I was on his team.

1. His presence. I loved having him around always, to be able to cuddle, or hold him, or ruffle his fur, to play or wrestle with, goof around, do tricks, take walks, even just around the yard, tell him I love him, how good of a boy he was, hear the jingle of his collar, clip his nails, give him treats, see him chase the cats, see him wrestle with Cody, give Cody strength, someone to follow, see him play with or steal food from the kids, feeding him canned food as a treat, how he always knew that the sound of the can opener meant business, to ask him if he wants to go for a walk or ride and see those great big ears perk up, and his head cock to the side, asking “Really? Sweet! I’m In!” To see his thick, richly colored fur; the reddish glow seeming to radiate from his very insides, the hair glossy and smooth. The tan fur on his whole body dappled with light and spotted with dark, red and brown and black, and his distinguished muzzle speckled with a perfect smattering of gray.

Did you know him? Please share your favorite memory of Ruger if you will - I would love to hear it!