Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crossing the Rainbow Bridge

"Go see Grandma!"

That's what I always told Elvis whenever we'd visit my mother's house. Entering her foyer, I'd remove his leash, say, "Go see Grandma!" and whoosh! I'd witness a flash of the lightening-fast racer my greyhound once was as he bolted down the hallway and into my mother's waiting arms.

But ever since mom died in August of 2009, I've never said the word "Grandma" in front of Elvis. I didn't want to confuse him, have him wonder what happened to the "Grandma" he loved. The "Grandma" who used to feed him cookies and give him kisses.

Until Wednesday.

Under a big picture window, bathed in the rays of a streaming morning sun, I laid alongside Elvis on a fleece-lined pillow. I looked into his gentle eyes, sleepy with the sedative Dr. Arnott had administered to help my sweet boy with his labored, ragged breathing. I held Elvis like I've done a million times before. Inhaled his sweet doggie scent, stroked his velvety soft fur and talked softly in his ear, making sure he knew I was at his side.

Always, at his side. And he, forever in my heart. Oh, how I love this dog.

And with my heart breaking, I whispered the words that I knew Elvis would recognize. The words that I prayed would help guide him on this new journey he was about to take without me. "Go see Grandma," I told my lovely, loving boy.

"Go see Grandma."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

No Joy to the World with Three Dog Night

Oh, it was a bad night.

It all began when I got home from work and -- in what has now become our daily evening procedure--rushed Elvis to the vet, before they close, so the lump on his neck can be drained. Afterward, I rewarded my sweet boy with a slow-paced walk around the block, even though it was cold, misty and dark, and I was chilled, tired and hungry. I so wanted to go home and relax, but after being poked and prodded, Elvis deserved this simple pleasure.

One hour later, walk completed, we returned home and I hightailed it to my neighbor's house to feed and walk her adorable chihuahua, Mandy, whom I was dog-sitting for the weekend. Then I returned to my place to feed Elvis and Olivia, and then take my girl for her long-awaited walk.

Keep in mind, still chilled. Still tired. Still hungry. But I wasn't done. Not yet.

Before preparing my dinner, I returned to my neighbor's house to collect Mandy. The plan was that the peanut-sized love bug would sleep with me upstairs with a baby gate blocking her access downstairs. I didn't want to take any chances that my new dog Olivia--still in training--might play too rough or worse, mistake the chubby little chihuahua for one of her stuffed squeaky toys.

But we never made it to my bedroom.

The second I stepped inside my house, cradling Mandy in my arms, Olivia went ballistic. Jumping, nipping, spinning and barking, What's that? What's in your arms? It's a toy, a new toy! A stuffed toy! A moving toy! I want it! It's mine! Gimme gimme gimme!

Mandy wriggled frantically in my arms while I spun around in circles, trying to dodge Olivia's probing needle nose that was targeting the frightened little dog like a heat-seeking missile. I was attempting to make it to the staircase, past the baby gate and out of Olivia's reach, when I suddenly heard a horrid, but all-too familiar retching sound.

Oh no.

Sure enough, still skirting Olivia, I turned to see Elvis vomiting the entire dinner he had just finished. On the Oriental carpet, of course, even though the hardwood floor was just inches to his right.

This was so not the relaxing Friday evening I'd been looking forward to.

Almost 90-
minutes later, Mandy was safely returned to her own home, the carpet was cleaned, and Elvis was treated with doggie-Kaopectate. Olivia was sleeping, no doubt dreaming of the stuffed chihuahua toy that got away.

And I finally sat down and relaxed with the only meal I could muster at that hour, excavated from the caverns of my freezer: a box of Joe-Joes, Trader Joe's Christmas peppermint cookies, washed down with a deliciously toxic, mind-numbing peppermint martini.

Because if mama ever deserved a two-punch tonic, it was on this three-dog night.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Signature on the Windshield

So there I was on my usual 7am drive to work this morning. Sipping a latte from my 62 oz. commuter tumbler while listening to DJs Sarah and Vinnie talk their usual celebrity trash on Alice Radio.

I had slowed to about 40mph since I was approaching the toll plaza of the San Mateo Bridge when all of a sudden, WHOOOOSH! I heard a loud scraping sound that reverberated through the air and made my skin crawl. What the heck?

And then I saw it, just yards behind me, filling up the space in my rear view mirror.

A big-rig truck had jack-knifed in the lane where my car had passed just seconds earlier. Had I been driving a hair slower, the truck's front cab, which had veered left into my lane, would have slammed into my little Honda CRV rendering it flat as a plate glass window.

hGawdOhGawdOhGawd. The enormity of what I had narrowly escaped left me shaky and breathless. However, what happened next just about paled in comparison.

As I continued driving, trying to regain my composure, I noticed droplets of water suddenly appearing on my windshield. Except there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Nor was it misty or foggy. And I realized that these drops were specifically located straight ahead in my line of vision right below my steering wheel. The rest of the windshield was bone dry. Confused, I looked up to the sky, and then to my left and right, trying to figure out where these drops were coming from.

One by one, I watched the drops continue to appear, plunk, plunk, plunk, until they formed the outline of a very specific shape.

A heart.

I stared at it, not quite believing what I was seeing, but there was no denying it was most definitely a heart. And it stayed there for maybe 30 or 40 seconds, defying the velocity of the wind until it eventually dried off, one drop at a time.

Someone was watching out for me this morning, and the signature on the windshield? A nice touch, just in case I had any doubts. Trust me, I don't.

Not any more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Cleaning out my desk yesterday, I came across a stack of old newspaper articles I'd written from the late 90s and early 2000s. One piece in particular stood out, and so, in honor of Valentine's Day, I bring you a reprint of:


"Studies insist that singles are looking for love in all the wrong places. No kidding, Einstein. If we were looking in the right places, we wouldn't be single on Valentines Day, now would we?

Desperate men order brides from Russia. Alaskan hunks advertise on Oprah. Lonely women seek dates online and singles beseech their friends for introductions.

Ann Landers says it's simple: We should hang out at houses of worship and attend 'wholesome social functions' where we're sure to eventually meet someone. Oh sure, Ann, it's that easy. Maybe during Prohibition when you last had a date.

These days, people create websites, join single groups, auction themselves on eBay, and sell their souls on reality TV, all in hopes of meeting a potential mate. The results?

We're still sleeping single in a double bed.

The thing is, most of us aren't Neanderthals. We're fairly decent people with good jobs and most of our teeth. All we want is a loved one to balance a checkbook with, raise a kid or two, laugh with us at the movies and cry with us when we're audited. A soul mate who will love us, cellulite and all, along with the promise to donate a kidney should ours suddenly go on the fritz.

Where is that special someone who will lovingly rub our feet, take out the trash, wax the car, do the laundry, cook the meals, program the VCR and clean up when the dog gets sick? A life partner who will waltz with us at weddings and post our bail when we're busted?

Like our married friends, we're really just romantics at heart.

We too crave the intimacy of shared hangovers, interfering in-laws and children that we can lovely refer to, over Sunday morning Alka-Selters, as spawn of demon-seed. Where, oh where, is the amour who will kiss us full on the lips in spite of that festering blister? Sigh.

Nothing says love like shared Amoxocillin.

Despite our carefree image, most singles are responsible enough to recognize the trust, commitment and selflessness it takes to make a successful union work.We are fully aware that marriage is a give-and-take relationship. Our loved one gives and we take. We are willing to make the sacrifice if it means we can attain that highest of goals:

n iron-clad pre-nup.

Yet for reasons unknown, true love continues to play dodgeball with many singles. I, for one, will keep hoping to meet that special someone. A man I can look square in the eye and whisper with heartfelt emotion, 'I've canceled the restraining order.'

Because really, I'm just a sucker for romance."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

When I once dreamed of sharing my life with a significant other, I never quite pictured my veterinarian as the man in mind. Alas, Dr. Arnott has indeed become the most steadfast, reliable and longest relationship I've had in recent years.

And I don't mean in a holding-hands-while-strolling-the-beach-at-sunset kind of way.

It's been a roller coaster whirlwind of emotions ever since Elvis was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (tonsil cancer) last November. There have been horrific days when I truly thought this was "goodbye," and glorious moments when I've almost believed my sweet pup might beat this demon. We were relishing those better moments up until last Wednesday night.

I was lying next to my boy on his La-Z-Dog recliner, cradling his head in my arms and rubbing his belly as is our nightly ritual. Elvis just eats this up. Whenever I stop, he raises his head and nudges my chin with his needle nose. "Carry on," is the obvious message. But this time when he raised his head, I saw that the crook of my arm, from elbow to wrist, was wet. Soaked.

In blood.

The incision on his neck was leaking. Gushing, actually, a pink watery fluid. Don'tpanicdon't panicdon'tpanic.

And I didn't. Instead, I remembered to use a sanitary napkin as a makeshift bandage (a most handy tip from a pet first aid class) and wrapped his neck with gauze. This enabled me to avoid a pricey trip to Emergency and safely control the leak until morning when I could take him to see my significant other. Dr. Arnott drained the remaining fluid from Elvis' neck, cleaned and wrapped the site, and reminded me that this leaking business is good: the chemo is dissolving the tumor.

Alleluia, right? Except the leaking hasn't subsided.

Over the past 12 days, I've taken Elvis to Oak Tree Animal Hospital every single night, except Sundays when the clinic is closed, to have his incision drained and cleaned. It's getting to be our daily ritual: work all day, drive my one-hour commute home, pick up Elvis, rush to vet, drain, clean, wrap.

Sigh. And we were there again tonight.

But trust me, I'm not complaining. I'll do whatever it takes to keep my boy comfortable. However, I have learned one thing:

The next time I wish for a steady man in my life, I'll be a little more specific.
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