Lola is Eleven

A while back Bhagpuss mentioned that he and Mrs Bhagpuss are thinking about getting a dog. I think they should! I think everyone needs a dog. I love dogs.

In particular I love our dog, Lola. I used to blog about her but at some point I stopped, but then I stop most things. Going back and reading about all our plans for rules and structure just makes me chuckle because so few of those persisted.

I am not, generally, a happy person. I spend a lot of my time irritated at something. I have a nasty temper. In a lot of ways Lola saved me. @partpurple quickly dubbed her The Morale Officer of the household. Whenever I’m frustrated or angry, Lola is there to cheer me up. When I do get angry she reacts strongly and gets quite withdrawn. This has helped me to finally get control of my temper; seeing so clearly how it makes people (and dogs) around me feel helped me to come to grips with it. These days it is very rare that I lose my temper and when I do it is quite mild compared to the old me. I owe that to Lola and it has spared me SO much heartache.

Us: Lola, why is your face so dirty?
Lola: Baroo?

Lola makes us laugh or smile dozens of times every day. I love her in a way I’ve never loved anyone or anything. I don’t have kids but I guess what I feel is like 2 steps removed from what a parent feels for their child. She is our puppy-daughter. I’d do anything to keep her safe.

Before we adopted her we were big fans of the show The Dog Whisperer and we learned all about boundaries and how a dog is not a person and you shouldn’t treat them like a person. How you always have to demonstrate that you are pack leader.

Yeah, we do none of that. Maybe we’re just lucky but it doesn’t seem necessary. Lola very, very rarely needs to be corrected for doing anything wrong. If you tell her she is a “bad dog” her mood will change for hours. She’s only been told that 3 or 4 times in her life. It is the worst punishment she ever gets. Honestly I can’t remember the last time she had to be punished for any reason. Usually she punishes herself. Every once in a great while she’ll have an accident, always related to being sick. When this happens she gets so sad and miserable about it that we don’t even consider the need to correct her. She is harder on herself than we would ever be. Plus they are indeed accidents. She has never made a mess unless she was sick. And y’know, when you’re sick sometimes you just can’t hold it.

@partpurple and I both work from home. She has always done so and I’ve been doing it for 8 years. Lola is almost never alone. I think that might factor into how tight of a bond we have with her. She is always near one of us and she is happiest when we are in the same room so she doesn’t have to choose between us. The downside to this is we don’t travel because we don’t like to board her. We tried taking her with us on a trip once but she was in a panic the whole time. Lola is a homebody.

In her prime she was the life of every party and she still charms almost everyone she meets. But 11 (she turned 11 in June) is getting on in years. She has arthritis in her hips and can’t really play with other dogs like she used to (she was fearless when she was younger, happily wrestling with dogs twice her size). She is on so many meds but fortunately she is a champion about taking her pills.

Been a long day of keeping the squirrels in line. Time for rest

She sleeps a lot these days. She is no longer so quick to jump up on the couch or bed to cuddle, preferring to stay on the floor because getting up and down hurts. The stairs are becoming a challenge for her. She and I are getting old together, sitting around thinking about our glory years. She’ll probably go before me and I’m not sure what I’ll do at that point.

Sometimes I think about what life will be like when she is gone. I mean at her age, she could be gone next week or she could hang on for another 4 or 5 years. We relish every day we get to spend with her and we never take her for granted.

I don’t know if we’ll get another dog when she is gone. Walking is getting hard for me (not in a significant way, but extrapolating to 10-15 years in the future I can imagine not being able to walk a dog), money is getting tight, financial security is dicey. And I wonder if it would even be fair for whatever dog we adopted. How could it live up to the standard Lola has set? I don’t think it is possible.

On the other hand, the apartment will seem so very empty when she is gone. Not too long ago she had a tooth pulled and a cyst surgically removed from her eyelid, so she was at the vet all day. And just having her gone for a day, the house felt empty. When she is gone for good we’re going to be very sad for a long, long time.

<3 My Dog

She loves the simple things, like a field of grass to lie in

The Perfect Moment

Sometimes I wonder what is normal. Do other people have a Perfect Moment? In my 60+ years of living I have one moment that I always return to in times of despair, or panic. One moment of perfect peace.

Not that I panic or feel despair all that often. The last time was when I was getting an MRI of my head. Being strapped down and stuck in that machine freaked me out, but I took a deep breath and went to my Perfect Moment and felt better.

I’ll try to describe my moment.

* * * * *

It is late summer. The sun is low in the sky. I’m on my boogie board waiting for the perfect wave. There is no one else around. Just me, the waves and the sand. Maybe a couple of gulls. There’s a stiff wind blowing off shore. The waves are pounding; I’m surprised no one else is surfing today. But they’re loud, the crashing waves.

A good set rolls in. As the first wave passes under me, I sink into the trough behind it. The sun is so low that when I do, I fall into shadow. It gets dark and quiet. The wind whips spray off the lip of the wave, spray that catches the sun’s rays, forming a rainbow that dances overhead. It is so beautiful and peaceful that I forget about riding, and just stay where I am, falling into the trough, watching the rainbow above from the shadow below, then bobbing up as the next wave arrives so once again I’m in the light and hear the crashing of the last wave that passed. Then down again into peace.

I stay there until the sun sets, then ride a wave in and head home.

* * * * *

This happened… jeez, I’m not sure. Sometime in the mid 70s, putting me in my mid-20s at the time.

Just writing it down has me feeling calmer, and of course quite nostalgic. I hope you have a moment like this that you can travel to in your head when the here & now gets a little overwhelming.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

[The header image is one I took at Topsail Beach in North Carolina a few years ago. Sadly I have very few pictures from the old days, and I certainly wasn’t carrying a camera while I was surfing. Not back then, in the days of 35 mm film and when Go Pro wasn’t even someone’s great idea yet.]