Nearly five years ago it had been decades since I lived with a dog. My last “good boy” was a Rottweiler who had been given to me by a girlfriend. She didn’t have the strength or know-how to handle him and she decided he would be better off with someone who could manage his size and strength and had some experience training dogs.
His full name was Kavon Heinse of Stoneflower. The first two names came from his lineage; he was a pedigreed dog and ended being the last one I would ever have. I just called him Heinse, and we spent a few years together before an inoperable lesion on his spine paralyzed him and I had no choice but to have him euthanized. It was a traumatic experience and, because I couldn’t bring myself to have another dog in my life for the longest time, it really affected me emotionally.
Fast forward about forty years and Angel, our rescue pup, came into my and my family’s life. With her, I remembered just how wonderful and special it is to have a dog to love and be loved by. Angel has come to fill a hole I wasn’t even aware I was living with. She also provides me with an “affection sponge,” giving me someone I can hug and kiss who won’t grow out of it as my children have.
I happen to be sitting out in the backyard the other day and Alyssa started playing with Angel. I had forgotten they had this stalking game they did and, as it was unfolding, I decided to take this video. This is one of the many things that make having a dog so special, IMO.
NB: I can’t figure out why the link, but not the embedded video, is showing up here. I’ll keep trying to figure it out but if you click on it, you can see the vid I posted.
Linda and I just said our final goodbye to Zacky, our beloved boy of about 14 years. His body was shutting down and we didn’t want him to suffer any longer. We brought him home on Friday in the hope he might improve, but he didn’t, so we took him to the Vet this morning and they recommended saying goodbye.
I know it was the right thing to do, but I’m beside myself with grief. I’ve never known a cat quite as attached to humans as Zacky was, and I have had the good fortune of knowing quite a few of them in my life. He was especially bonded with Linda and frequently slept in her arms or under the blankets, in a little cave she would make for him.
I would have gladly put up with a few more bloody rats on the bedroom floor to have had a couple more years with him. We’ll be grieving for a while, but we’ll move on. Lots of good memories of this guy.
One of the interesting side effects of self-isolation was “celebrated” in an interesting article I came across on Facebook. Its title is “Nation’s dogs fucking loving whatever’s going on right now,” and you can find it here. I know our dog, Angel, is used to spending significant times either alone, or without the person who gives her the most treats . . . and that time is generally spent sleeping or moping around the house.
Upon our arrival back at home, whether we were gone 10 minutes of 10 hours, her excitement is temporarily boundless. That is no longer happening, as we’re seldom out of the house. In fact, the only one who’s left the house for the past week (at least) has been me. I take that back. I believe my wife went out one evening to pick up a papaya salad at her favorite Thai restaurant. That’s it.
As an aside . . . a secondary effect of thinking about how our animals are dealing with this, though I’ve been noticing it recently; i.e. before the corona virus changed everything, I’ve come to realize the role our pets play for many of us. Certainly, with respect to dogs, this is my experience. I’ll try to explain.
My last dog had to be put to sleep before he was very old. He was a Rottweiler and had been gifted to me by a girlfriend who couldn’t handle him. His name was Heinse . . . Kavon Heinse of Stoneflower, to be exact. The appellation “Stoneflower” came from Stoneflower Productions, Sly Stone’s company. My girlfriend’s father was the business manager for Sly and the Family Stone, and Sly had given Heinse to him, but he was getting divorced and didn’t want the responsibility.
Heinse was an interesting dog. Powerful and resolute, he also chased shadows and stomped ants. He would sit under a tree and wait for birds to fly out of it so he could chase their shadows on the ground. Once, on the beach at Malibu, he confounded a couple of guys tossing a football. They took a while to figure out he wasn’t chasing the ball. He could smell ants and would rear up and stomp on them when encountered. He was a wonderful companion and putting him down was not easy for me. In fact, I had numerous cats, but never another dog until about three years ago. I lived dogless for well over thirty years.
Angel entered our lives about three years ago. The picture above was taken shortly after we rescued her. Her arrival was somewhat serendipitous, and I had precious little to do with it, other than responding to my wife’s text where she sent me a picture of her with a couple of question marks. I wasn’t ready to take on the extra expense, but I’m a sucker for a face like that and I said “OK.”
So . . . she came into our lives when our oldest, Aimee, was going on 16 years old. What’s significant about it, and what has caused me to think about how we relate to our pets (especially dogs) is that was right about the time I could no longer hug Aimee or smother her with kisses. Up until then, I was able to shower her with affection, which I loved doing. She was no longer interested, understandable—I was once a teenager and, even though it was several lifetimes ago, I remember most of what it was like.
Now I use Angel to shower my affection on, though she was a bit wary of me at the beginning. I think she interpreted my kissing her snout as a dominance display; at least at first. I was pretty sure I could interpret the look on her face when I would hug and kiss her as one of moderate concern, perhaps a little distrust. This, of course, is no longer the case. She now serves as my substitute affection sponge and, as long as I give her the occasional treat, we’re good . . . and I’m content.
I’ve always loved dogs (and cats), but I hadn’t had a dog in my life for something like 40 years after I had to put my beloved Heinse down when he developed an inoperable lesion on his spine, which paralyzed him. I suppose I could have developed some kind of wheelchair for him, but I didn’t have much money and I’ve never been terribly handy.
During the interim, I’ve had lots of cats; they’re easier to take care of and deal with, IMO. However, about two and a half years ago, Linda (my wife) came across this little sweetheart and she entered our lives. I’m very pleased.
I learned something interesting in the last few weeks. I was going through a bit of “empty nest” syndrome issues following my oldest daughter’s final dance recital in High School. The reality of her growing up and leaving really caught up with me, but the part that hit me the hardest was my sudden fear I’d screwed up; I hadn’t done the right things or I’d done some of the wrong things and I would never be able to make up for it! It was debilitating for a while. I’m better now, thank you very much.
Before this all happened, though, I was lamenting the reality that I could no longer hug and kiss my little girl, as she was a teenager (and had been for some time) and wanted nothing to do with that sort of thing, though she will let me kiss her goodbye . . . sometimes. What I realized was that I was able to get some of the closeness and the satisfaction of showering affection on Angel, our dog. Harder to do with a cat, but dogs can be super affectionate. This has got to explain why we have so many pets in this country. We can shower affection on our fur babies for their entire lives. They never lock themselves in their bedroom for days, ignoring those who labored mightily that they may have a good life.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.