Besties!

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I have had dogs almost all my life. I remember my first dog,”Bucky”, who came along when I was roughly 8 and was gone less than a year later. I remember being devastated and, knowing me, probably inconsolable. I remember that he and I were Besties and almost inseparable. And I remember, most of all, that we were bunkmates… in bed or on the floor in front of the TV or out even out in the back yard under one of the shade trees, if there was a nap to be had me and my dog were having it.

In the time between Bucky and today, I have lived with and loved 19 different dogs. Without exception, each of these guys has made my life just a little bit better. Caring for each of them has also given my life more meaning and made me a better person.

Unlike being the parent of human children, where you can’t (and shouldn’t) pick favorites, the same can’t be said about your relationships with your dogs.

As each has come and gone, and I have designated one or the other as my favorite when I met Daisy I knew from the moment I laid eyes on her that she was quite different and very special. Blame it on her eyes if you like or blame it on her eternally happy disposition… Blame it on the fact that she is so incredibly attached to me and never wants me to leave her sight… but whatever it is, Daisy – over the three and a half years we have been together so far – is far and away the best dog I have ever had. So much so, in fact, that I taught myself how to make videos worthy of posting on YouTube so that I could do one in her honor. The good news? Our story has only begun.

Enjoy.

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Ode To An Old Friend

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in loving memory of an old friend: Scooby and I were together for nearly a third of my life. He made it to 119 people years, lasting longer than either of my marriages for what that’s worth.

He was a pain in the ass. He never stopped barking and never fully shut the hell up until he finally lost his voice. He considered the rules regarding only going to the bathroom OUTSIDE to be purely suggestions and not applicable to him.

He never stopped humping female dogs (fixed or otherwise), even though he was fixed at the tender age of 2, until the day he died.

He was a trash hound, and he always smelled like he had just taken a bath in a steaming hot fresh pile of horseshit.

He was always happy and full of life and fearless and resilient… and he was never sick.

Ever.

He was run over by a car, trampled by horses, and damn near killed (more than once) by the very same pack of English Mastiffs that were his brothers and sisters. His crime? Stealing their bones when they weren’t watching. And, as fate would have it, he has outlived all of them.

He was loved. He was respected. He was admired. Scooby and I were together through some of the best and worst times in our collective and respective lives.

He will be missed.

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Channeling Sweet Baby James

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I came of age in the 70s and was fortunate to have been exposed to James Taylor early in his career. Even though I grew to prefer loud smash mouth music, Sweet Baby James was always the go-to background guy for cuddling and make out sessions with your best girl.

In a lot of ways, I guess he still is. There’s just something about that voice… smooth and soft and laid-back… just relaxed and chill. I have lost count, over the years, of how many times I’ve gotten worked up or felt put out about something or another and started humming one of his countless ballads and felt instantly better.

I was reminded of this the other day when I had to go out for an emergency run – to that big box store that everybody loves to hate – because I needed to replace, of all things, my front door knob. While I might have preferred to go to that other big box store (you know the one… the handyman’s “Graceland”), but it’s not on a bus line and it’s too dangerous to walk given all the ice and snow that nature dumped on us over the holiday.

Forced to choose between preference and convenience, I gathered up the necessary quarters and my senior fare discount ID card and trundled down to the bus stop. Unlike my usual shopping adventures, this trip would require that I disembark from the first bus partway into town and walk several blocks in order to catch a second bus that would take me to my destination farther out toward the outskirts of the city proper.

When I arrived at the spot where I would have to await the transfer, I was amazed by how much snow the city plows had pushed up, over, and around the waiting area. The snow bank must have been three or four feet deep and would have otherwise rendered the bus stop useless save for the brave soul that had carved out enough of it to be able to get inside and away from the wind.

I began to wind myself up. I started bitching out loud about the utter lack of care or concern, on the part of the city, over how important it was to provide safe access to city services for those of us out here that rely so heavily on them. And just about the time I had worked out my “flaming hate letter” to the new mayor in my head, I began to hear Sweet Baby James singing “try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride”:

At that point, all I could do was chuckle, pull up my 70s Spotify list… scroll down to that song… and think back to the picture I had taken earlier that morning of the Sun shining through that leafless tree. I realized that there are only so many things over which we really have any control and that – at the end of the day – all any of us can do is make the most of what we can and figure out how to enjoy the ride through everything else.

James Taylor is exactly right: The secret of life really IS just enjoying the passage of time.

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City Buzzards

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I’m one of those people that appreciates nature and all of her wonders no matter how great or small. Though not a tree hugger by any means, I do believe it is in the best interests of all of mankind that we be good stewards of the planet and all the creatures which inhabit it. However, I am also a believer in the old adage which suggests that too much of anything is not necessarily a good thing. Such is the case with seagulls… Or what I like to call City buzzards.

I googled this little factoid before I started this entry just to make sure, and was able to confirm that seagulls have been a protected migratory bird for nearly a hundred years. I think it’s safe to say, given the population explosion beyond their natural habitat into places such as urban areas and city dumps, that somebody screwed up their calculations.

Somebody should probably look into this.

I recently found myself in need of a few items at the grocery store. It was cold and overcast, but I went anyway because – I am proud to announce- I have mastered the art of dressing in layers. Besides, I told myself, it’s no big deal… It’s not windy, and it’s not supposed to snow, and there were only a few items that I simply could not live without.

And so it was that I bundled up and headed for the bus stop to wait for the next # 10 inbound. I got off at my usual spot and headed for my favorite coffee shop where I stopped to get “the usual,” before heading down a few blocks to the store.

As is routinely the case with my great good fortune, when I was almost to the door it started to snow. Rather heavily in fact. I chuckled and shook my head as I walked in, grabbed a cart, and began my hell-ride through the bumper cars sea of humanity. I gathered up my supplies (along with the compulsory extras that somehow always manage to jump into the cart when I’m not looking), and headed for the checkout lines.

Once outside the door, I pulled over to the right and began transferring the contents of the cart into my heavy duty backpack. As I was doing this, I could hear seagulls bickering with each other over some random rotten french fry or discarded piece of garbage behind me and to my left. I ignored it at first, trying to focus on the matters at hand, but it started sounding like a war was about to break out, and I couldn’t help but turn around to see what the hell was going on.

Sure enough, there was a bird bitch – fight kicking off (in the driving snow no less) right across from the bus stop. Some asshat had apparently decided it would be a good idea to dump half a bag of Cheetos onto the ground. The mess was now soggy and melting into the wet snow next to the curb, and about 10 or 15 City buzzards we’re trying to work out which of them would be cleaning up the mess.

The waiting area at the bus stop was empty when I got there, and I had about 15 minutes to wait before the number 10 outbound would arrive. Like always, I tucked my cane and backpack under the shelter and settled in to watch the shitshow that was taking place about 30 ft straight in front of me.

I had a flashback to my childhood and all of those Sunday nights that I spent watching “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” I laughed out loud a little at how much this feeding frenzy reminded me of all those images I saw of buzzards fighting for a spot on a carcass. Watching those seagulls made me feel bad, all over again, for that poor water buffalo that had had the great misfortune of being at the back of the line when the stampede of fear kicked off.

Before everything was said and done another 20 or 30 seagulls had joined the fray, but only a handful succeeded in getting any of the orange goo. One gull in particular – the largest of them all as far as my feeble eyes could tell – chased off most of the competition and got most of the bounty for himself.

After a lot of screeching, and several hovering laps around the parking lot to make sure he didn’t miss anything, he perched himself on the very top of a light pole… Looked right at me as if to say “what the hell do you think you’re looking at?”… and screeched a little bit more before settling himself down up there to flap – dry his wings and take a short rest.

[PostScript: Something that has always mystified me though, including all of my years spent at the ocean where Seagulls are supposed to live, is just how quickly word travels amongst and between them. I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Seagulls uptown, 15 blocks away, heard about – let alone got there in time to fight over – a big assed pile of melting Cheetos. Just a little food for thought. [sic] ]
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