Transition Ceremonies & Memorial Services: I’m a Guest Blogger at Talk2theAnimals!

My article, Transition Ceremonies and Memorial Services for Your Animal Companions, is posted on Janet Roper’s Talk2theAnimals blog. I love being a guest blogger there! There are so many good stories. Check out my article and while you’re there, be sure to click around and read other narratives of the human-animal bond.

white candle burning

photo by Smabs Sputzer

D is for Dog

DI don’t think it’s a coincidence that Dog is God spelled backward. To me, communing with dogs is the closest one can get to God because it is here where you will find pure and absolute unconditional love.©

I think people like to think that they can love one another unconditionally but I don’t believe it’s possible. Only dogs and God are truly capable of unconditional love.

For the love of dogs,                                                                                             all those who tug at our hearts and consistently crack us up…                       Enjoy this funny dog blooper video:

And “Happy — the Puppy & Doggie” version by Pharell Williams:

Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

REMEMBERING MAGGIE

I adopted Maggie on June 7, 1999. She was just 3 years old then. And she was my first greyhound: she awakened my love for all things canine and was the start of my life with dogs.

reverse brindle greyhound

We don’t know any real background on Maggie because she was double tattooed. National Greyhound Association, aka NGA, racing greyhounds are registered and tattooed on the inside flaps of their ears. In one ear is the owner/breeder ID number and in the other is the month and year of birth. When the dogs are illegally disposed of or sold to be used for underground racing, often the owner/breeder tattoo number will be obliterated so that the dog can’t be traced back to them. Maggie had such a tattoo. She was rescued from a rabbit-runner bust and, according to the adoption coordinator, the dogs that were rescued from that underground circuit were in terrible shape. When they got to Maggie, she had to be carried out because she was too weak to walk on her own. She was only 38 lbs when they found her —and her regular weight was supposed to be 65-68 lbs.

She was a two-time bounce-back with the adoption group. A bounce-back is when a dog who had been adopted out is returned. I always found that hard to believe because Maggie was such an incredible dog!  Apparently the first family had adopted her when the husband had a home-based business,
but then he got a job outside of the home and Maggie started peeing in the house, so instead of working with her on it, they gave her back. The second woman who adopted her said she couldn’t control her (Maggie was very strong-willed!). So ironically –but I believe it was actually fate– the day that Maggie got returned for the second time, the woman dropped her off at the GPA Meet & Greet and I just happened to be going over to there to hand in some additional adoption application paperwork.

I’ll never forget the first time we met. They told me her story and said that if I wanted to take her, she was mine. They suggested I walk around with her for a little while, which we did. I took her outside for a walk on the grounds and was sweet-talking to her but she was completely unreceptive to me. I kept telling the adoption coordinator, “She won’t make eye contact with me.” It was bothering me so we sat down on
the steps and I just talked to her and petted her and she just kept averting her gaze. But finally, after what seemed like a very long time, she turned her head and looked into my eyes. And that was it. The bond was established. And it would be one of the most incredible bonds of my life.

the bond between pet and human

Maggie was a love-bug. And everyone who met her fell instantly in love with her. She simply and immediately captured the hearts of everyone who spent any amount of time with her. My vet described her perfectly: “There was something very special about Maggie. She was a real lady.” And that she was.

She was also fun, funny and goofy. Especially at dinner time: she would go into one of her playful modes while I was preparing dinner for the dogs. She would start tossing around the toys in the living room, twirling around in circles and diving at the toys, then throwing them up in the air again and again. This would go on for a few minutes until she had worn herself out. Then she’d come to the doorway of the kitchen, panting, with this big grin on her face, in anxious anticipation for her dinner to be set down.

And just two days before she died, she did exactly that. When she was standing in the doorway that day, I looked at her, laughed and said “Boy, Maggie, no one would ever believe you were 13 years old!” She was actually just two months shy of 13 when she passed.

See, Maggie had been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease in December 2008. Her prognosis at the time was three to six months. My vet put her on a cocktail of drugs that turned her around quickly and she was doing fantastic! So good, so back to her normal playful self that I thought we would well surpass that six month prognosis.
Four months into it, she woke me at 5:30 on the morning of April 1st 2009. I took her and the other dogs out to potty, gave Mag her dosage of Lasix and then she came back in and stood next to my bed. Everything was completely normal. I got her up on the bed, and then I crawled in next to her. At that point, she hadn’t yet laid down and was just still standing on the bed. She looked down at me and I chuckled and said “where do you want to go Mag?” She turned and just plopped down. Her one leg was folded underneath her and I said, “Well, that can’t be comfortable” and straightened her leg out for her and then, as usual, I just laid there with her, stroking and rubbing on her. And we were watching the morning news. Just like every other typical morning. Then she started to pant. Her heart condition caused her to pant sometimes but she was panting harder than usual. I continued to stroke her and was soothing her when all of the sudden, she had a big spasm. She spasmed and her legs kicked, then tensed and tightened. I jumped out of bed and ran around to the other side. I grabbed her snout and started blowing into her nostrils, doing mouth to nose resuscitation, screaming “breathe Maggie, breathe!”  But she was limp. And she was gone. In a matter of seconds she was just gone.

I was devastated beyond consolation. But later that day I thought, ‘What a way to go out!” She was completely fine one minute and gone the next. Literally. And she was where she most loved to be, up on my bed, getting stroked and loved on by her mama. I guess you can’t ask for a better way to go than that. We should all be so lucky.

She was my precious princess, my Magarooni, my Magger-Doodle, my sweet angel girl. It’s been five years and I still miss her like I lost her yesterday. She was the one who started this all, my life with dogs, and for that I will be forever grateful. And I will always be thankful for all the love she showered me with and all the lessons she taught me.

I’ve always believed that Maggie was intended for me. After all, she had been bounced out of two homes, two families, and it never made any sense to me because I couldn’t fathom why anyone would ever give up this dog! She was so good and so loving and so well-behaved. After a while, I realized that it was her path and her inevitable journey to get to me…and that a Higher Power intended us to be together. And maybe not just because I could give her a wonderful life in a loving home but so that I could learn from her what I needed to learn.

I learned so much about myself from Maggie. She was fiercely independent, like me, and very much had a mind of her own. Although independent, she was equally dependent and coveted lots of affection and attention. It never failed: when I’d stop rubbing on her after a lengthy cuddle session, she’d lift her head up, turn back and look at me with pleading eyes then let out a pathetic whimper to tell me that she hadn’t yet had enough. So I’d relent and give her what she most wanted: more loving. Then the minute I’d stop rubbing or stroking, again she’d raise that head, look at me and whimper – a soulful cry that would beckon my hand back to her belly. This would go on for hours…usually while we were watching TV in the evenings.  And it would happen regularly, almost constantly. She never could get enough rubs and tickles.

One day I looked at her and realized how much of myself I saw in her. I too can never get enough rubs and tickles. Like me, Maggie was demanding. Like me, she was persistent. Like me, she was selfish. Like me, she was never satisfied. For Maggie, as with me, it was never enough. She opened my eyes to not only a whole new world of living life with dogs but she opened my eyes to myself.

I love you sweet Maggie. You will always be in my heart. Missing you today…and every day.

                                                 Maggie Truhlik                                                    June 1996 – April 1, 2009

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Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

To Pee or Not To Pee

This has been one of the most productive writing weeks I’ve had in a long time. I’ve spent several days this week doing nothing but write. And if you’re a writer you know the editing is NEVER done. If I’m stuck and can’t seem to get any further in whatever I’m working on at the moment, I’ll pull out some old stuff and re-work and edit the shit out of it. Today I pulled out the story that I wrote a little over a year ago after a harrowing day here at the Grey Zone (which just so happened to be the very next day following yet another harrowing day, the one that yielded my Poop Madness story). Just thought I’d share with you the new edited version of TO PEE OR NOT TO PEE.