Browsing articles in essays
Culture: Stories & Lit
Pug in Assisted Living
An elderly Pug needs a little help with the day-to-day.
I recently put my dog, Jack, into assisted living. I knew it was time: he has escalating hygiene needs, he wanders, he is confused and he often puts himself in harm’s way. The assisted living facility is lovely. It has wide windows, many of them facing south and east, which let in the warm, chunky beams of sunlight in which Jack loves to nap. There is a pleasant, fenced-in green lawn where he can...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Lessons Learned ... And Unlearned
Love and forgiveness. What else is there to know?
My Golden Retriever, Annie, died yesterday. So did my grandmother. God, I’m going to miss that dog. I’ve been asked to write my grandmother’s eulogy, and as I try, I can’t help but think about these two lives and deaths converging, and the difference between the two paths on which they took me. Annie and I walked along the nature trail together the morning of her death. I didn’t realize it would...
Culture: Stories & Lit
George, The Dog Who Saved My Life
By the time George had come into my life, I had more than three hundred convictions to my name and had been in prison over thirty times. You might be thinking that I couldn’t have been much of a thief to get caught so many times over the years, but the truth is I found it so hard to cope with life on the outside that I had started to effectively check myself in to prison for the winter. It got to...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Strawberry Blond
Labrador retriever and berries
Nick was my husband’s dog. But, come June, he tagged along every time I ventured out to the garden with my picking bucket. Like me, the big yellow Lab knew that nothing in the world tastes as good as a strawberry plucked hot from the vine on a summer day. I think of him now, with this year’s bumper crop of berries, as I lean over to snap the stem of each scarlet jewel between my thumbnail and...
Culture: Stories & Lit
The Gift of a Great Dog
Recognizing the “one” but taking on a new dog.
If Rex could have talked, we would have finished each other’s sentences. We got another dog right away. That wasn’t the plan. But back in March, less than two weeks after Rex died and when I still had faint bruises from digging my fingers into my forehead amid uncontrollable sobs, I signed us up to “foster” a Saint Bernard mix that had been rescued from a crack den. It was a classic rebound move...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Training Maxine, Rescue Dog
Learning that life can be good
She and I are alone. When I say the B-word, she rushes to my side and goes into a sit, the first thing she learned, and so far the only one: sit comes before treat the way head comes before tail. It’s not open for discussion. “Bagel! Maxine! Bagel!” She’s so wiggly, she can barely hold her bum to the floor. The eyes that were sad and dull in her adoption photo are now bright. Her long tail goes...
Culture: Stories & Lit
SoCal Coyote Encounter
A surprising encounter with her dog’s canid cousins.
When you grow up as a child of the dry, in Southern California where water has always been as valuable as melted silver in the canals and irrigation ditches called zanjas way back in the early 1800s, the river calls you. The Santa Ana River calls me every day. I can’t ride my bike or walk beside it every day, but I do as often as I can, and my dog Fantasia loves the wildness of the river as if...
Culture: Stories & Lit
A Pup with a Sting Allergy
When the action kicks in in real life, being a movie buff pays dividends
My Boxer puppy is allergic to bees. I found out as I barreled home from work on I-580 East toward the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge one recent afternoon. Cali—short for “California”— goes to work with me every day. One moment, she was a spry, energetic, sporty Boxer; the next, vomit everywhere, bile and diarrhea all over the passenger seat. I accelerated, crossed two lanes of traffic and pulled onto...
Culture: DogPatch
Letter to My Ex-Dog
Let me start by saying that I love you. No matter what else becomes true in the chaos surrounding my leaving, my feelings for you will remain. There is no force on or above this earth that could shake you from my heart. The world of people is complicated. It’s not just about who smells nice or is easy to get along with. Even people with wonderful personalities and exceptional smells aren’t always...
Culture: Stories & Lit
Walking with Misty
Daily routines provide welcome relief at both ends of the leash.
Back in 2004 when my daughter was 10, she and my husband were united in their desire for a dog. Me, I shared none of their canine lust. But why, they pleaded. “Because I don’t have time to take care of a dog.” But we’ll do it. “Really? You’re going to walk the dog? Feed the dog? Bathe the dog?” Yes, yes and yes. “I don’t believe you.” We will. We swear. We promise. They didn’t. From day one (okay...