Tag Archives: pets

Filling the Void with Remembrances

He had the softest ears of any dog I’ve ever known. That said, I almost never passed up an opportunity to caress them. Nor could I deny how I loved snuggling with him on the couch, his box-like body curled up and wedged next to mine—safe and warm. No matter what the day had thrown at me, I knew I could always count on him to erase the tension and to reconnect me with the here and now, almost the instant I stroked his fur and scratched behind his ears.

He had a penchant for chasing crows, for stovetop popcorn and for following me from room to room as if we were tethered together, a girl and her dog. I swear I can still hear his toenails clicking on the tile floor behind me, never mind the jangle of his collar every time he shook his head or sneezed—which he was inclined to do whenever he was happy. Of that, I am sure.

His name was Jasper and he was the most wonderful rescue pet anyone could ask for—the epitome of a “good dog.” But we lost him—three days after Christmas, no less, his aged body too tired to continue another day. Like so many dogs, he left us bit by bit as he declined over a period of months—his daily jaunts around the block becoming slower and shorter, eventually ending altogether when we had to carry him to the backyard. We tried hand feeding him to keep up his strength, to no avail. We covered him with a blanket and kept a vigil where he lay on the couch to give him some measure of comfort. We put him between us in our bed on his last night on this earth, to let him know he was loved—unconditionally.

Although it’s been almost five months now, I can’t seem to accept the fact that he’s gone. His ashes and plaster paw print came home from the vet’s shortly after his death. But I still listen for his rhythmic breathing in the quiet of night. I stare at his bed, now empty, yet lined with traces of black fur—an unwelcome reminder of what was. Against all logic and understanding, I can’t bear to remove his food dish from the kitchen. Not yet anyway. What’s more, there isn’t a room in the house where he didn’t have a favorite spot to lie, and that’s exactly where my eyes fall the minute I step through each doorway. I can’t help but visualize him in those places, his head resting comfortably on his paws, his caramel-colored eyes watching me with hopeful expectation, since there was always the possibility I’d suggest that we go for a walk and chase the godawful crows together. Heaven knows he wouldn’t want to miss a signal.

Strangely enough, I miss tripping over him. Well, maybe not so much, since that was beyond exasperating—especially in the kitchen when I cooked his meals—scrambled eggs, ground beef and rice. Truth be told, what I miss the most is kneeling down on the floor to hug him—gently wrapping my arms around his warm frame and placing my head against his, something the people at the SPCA taught me how to do appropriately. Who knew there was a proper way to hug a dog? At any rate, I followed their advice and it seemed to engender a remarkable sense of calm—in both of us. Sadly, hugging my tiny, yappy dog in a similar manner doesn’t produce the same result. Maybe it’s because he’s not as tolerant of my foolishness. Maybe it’s because he’s incredibly small. Maybe hugs just aren’t his thing.

One thing I know for sure is that he misses his forever friend, too. There are days he pads around the house in search of him, wondering why he’s no longer here to toss favorite toys in the air and growl at each other—just for fun. Other days he just seems sad—something with which I am all too familiar.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (missing my dog). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2018 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Gratitude, Love and Loss

20 Things I Never Imagined I’d Say to my Dog

  1. photoIt’s really cold outside and it’s not time for a walk yet. I just want to spoon you and watch Hallmark movies. All day.
  2. I know the FedEx truck looks tasty, but YOU CAN’T EAT IT. Stop barking as if you’re possessed. Please try to act like a normal dog.
  3. Must you INHALE your food? CHEW already, you maniacal little beast.
  4. Yes, the doorbell is ringing. On television. That doesn’t mean you need to freak out or work your stupid self into a barking frenzy.
  5. Stop licking yourself…your 7 million plush toys…the stuff I spilled on the floor…the strange dog you just met…the leather couch…the carpet…the dishwasher…my feet…the road kill you love more than life itself… JUST. STOP. LICKING.
  6. Why do you feel compelled to eviscerate your stuffed animal toys? Isn’t it enough to pluck out their eyes and dismember them 15 minutes after I present you with a new one? FYI, the squeaky thing inside IS NOT the devil.
  7. Stop dragging dirty socks and underwear into the living room like a frat boy on a panty raid. You disgust me. Also, please note that the foul matter in the trash can IS NOT FOOD. Please stop gnawing on it and strewing it all over the house.
  8. DO NOT pee on your brother’s head. No, it’s not at all like marking territory. He’s another dog. Just a shorter version. And by the way, marking territory INSIDE the house is a VERY, VERY BAD thing to do. I will stop loving you if you do it again. No I won’t. I love you unconditionally, against all logic and understanding.
  9. Why did you eat AN ENTIRE LOAF OF BREAD (and/or leftover pizza, Halloween candy, et al.) while we were gone? You glutton.
  10. The crows and defenseless squirrels we see on our walks are not secretly mocking you; therefore, you needn’t chase or lunge at them like some sort of savage, effectively dislocating my shoulder in the process.
  11. Must you torment the cat? I realize that he is mocking you every minute of every day, but is it necessary to hunt him down like a dog? I understand that you are, in fact, a dog. It’s a rhetorical question.
  12. You don’t own the couch. Please share the space in this house with the humans who live here—as much as it pains you.IMG_6206
  13. For the love of God, STOP EATING POO, or anything that resembles poo. Deer droppings are not Skittles. Neither is bear dung or rabbit pellets. Have we not taught you anything?
  14. If you walk directly in front of me or trail me closer than my shadow, we WILL collide. It’s basic physics. Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Google it.
  15. Please refrain from doing your business in the neighbor’s beautifully manicured lawn if you can help it. If you could circle back and instead utilize the vast expanse of woods and weeds we just passed I’d be eternally grateful, you never-ending poop factory.
  16. Back up, please, so I can actually open the door for you. I know you’re beyond excited to go for a walk, but it won’t be possible unless and until you back up.
  17. You most certainly CANNOT EAT THE JOGGER, the kid on the scooter, the woman pushing the stroller, or the adorable toddler inside the stroller who desperately wants to pet you because you look like a cute little dog, only deranged. Oh, and here’s a newsflash: YOU’RE MAKING YOURSELF HACK AND CHOKE by pulling on the leash. Not me.
  18. Did you seriously startle yourself with your own fart? You crack me up, you weird little dog.
  19. What’s with the poop ritual—the one where you practically screw yourself into the ground before you actually go? Should I hire an excrement coach?
  20. Must you shame me into giving you food during dinner? Don’t give me those eyes. I simply can’t handle it.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, uttering the most ridiculous things to my dogs. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2015 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives

2012: The Year of the Dragon

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the year of the dragon. I know this to be true not only because I googled the bejesus out of it, but because my brood became riddled with delirium upon learning they had received a baby bearded dragon for Christmas. Make that TWO baby bearded dragons, coupled with a profusion of lizard-friendly paraphernalia said beings apparently require to survive. Heaven forbid the celebrated pet in question spend the rest of his days socially isolated, unable to collectively revel in the knowledge that the year ahead promises good things to those who are symbolic of reptilians.

Or something like that.

At any rate, we now own two disturbingly Godzilla-inspired organisms and, as a result, my children are entirely convinced that 2012 will be filled with good fortune—especially as it relates to the aforementioned scaly creatures. Translation: “We hope they have babies, Mom! Lots of them!” I’m not sure I could handle that much good fortune, particularly given the prolific nature of their poo and the nauseating reality of stockpiling live mealworms in my refrigerator and seasoned (read: calcium-dusted) crickets in the den. Gah! This is SO not in the parenting handbook. But I digress.

Against all logic and understanding, the tiny beasts have become a never-ending source of fascination for me. The way they ogle me with their freakishly bulbous eyes, twist their wee necks to an impossible degree and seize their prey in the true spirit of savagery intrigues me no end. Even the way they chew their vegetables is mildly entertaining. That said, I find myself drawn to their fetid tank, patently engrossed as they bask beneath the torrid rays of a pseudo sun—silent and still, much like the rocks and canopy of branches to which they cling almost invisibly; or when they devour legions of hapless victims in a manner that makes me cringe in horror, yet renders me wholly incapable of turning away. Never mind the dreadful sound of their jaws as they crush, chew and swallow without a morsel of mercy or an ounce of regret. Shame on me for being perfectly enthralled by something so inherently gruesome.

At least I’m not alone. Our entire household gathers en masse at the tank in a twisted display of fanaticism—noses to the glass in palpable anticipation, each of us about to be categorically mesmerized by what can only be described as a feeding frenzy. Furthermore, we’re fairly entranced by the hunt itself, duly impressed as our dear lizards scuttle about like spiders, hugging uncertain terrain and cleverly cornering a handful of crickets that, unsurprisingly, max out on the Stupidity Scale. Every. Single. Time. It’s entirely possible we need to develop more empathy for the ill-fated vermin. Then again, maybe the point is moot. (i.e. “It’s sad that the crickets have to die such a horrible, violent death, Mom. But it’s sort of entertaining to watch. Especially when their legs fall off and stuff.”)

Just when I think my husband and I are doing something right with respect to raising compassionate kids, they drop a disturbing little nugget like that on us. Oy.

At any rate, we’re having far more fun with our newish pets than I ever imagined possible. They’ve cheered homework completion on numerous occasions, been privy to godknowshowmany deep, dark secrets and journeyed far and wide to learn about their surroundings (i.e. “This is the television, which you probably won’t care much about…and this is the dog, which you should be profoundly terrified of…”).

Furthermore, they’ve balanced on heads with remarkable aplomb, starred in a multitude of ridiculous Photo Booth dramas (don’t ask) and, of course, perched atop a certain Justin Bieber doll to the delight of many. Looking back, I don’t know how I functioned without having such unadulterated hilarity in my life.

Indeed, 2012 promises good things—amusement involving a special pair of lizards, chief among them.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (when I’m not at Animal Specialties stocking up on crickets and counsel). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Lizard Lips

Rodent Rage

I always hear the wild rumpus before I determine its curious source—a raging battle within the confines of a two-story, purplish hamster cage with an electric green spiral slide and a profusion of tunnels that twist and turn at precarious angles. A sudden and intense eruption of sound, to include screeching, scratching and scurrying about, arises from what was once dead silence. As if something in the Land of Peaceful Accord tragically shifts, causing the whiskered beasts in question to become hostile combatants—their tiny voices piercing the still of my home. Lord knows why they engage in such vicious behavior. Never mind why they choose to poo where they dwell or why I ever thought my brood would need five of the stupid things to somehow make their lives complete.

Needless to say, much of our robo hamsters’ day-to-day conduct baffles me and I often struggle to find the mere suggestion of logic and meaning in their actions. Like the manic pace at which they circle the cage, the reckless manner in which they fling themselves (and each other) off their miniature wheels and into oblivion, the obsessive nature of their grooming and gnawing habits, the adorable way they hold behemoth-sized wedges of fruit in their little paws and bring it to their mouths to nibble ever so slightly and, of course, the huddled mass of fur they form while they sleep, commune-style, wedged impossibly inside a plastic hovel or in an obscure corner of the trendy enclosure we felt compelled to purchase—the one that apparently requires a master’s degree to assemble.

Nevertheless, the bursts of aggression perplex me and I watch in amazement as they stand on their haunches and brawl like savages—although it’s slightly comical, given their diminutive stature. Try as I might, I can’t seem to wrap my mind around what drives this asinine show of bravado. There are no potential mates to impress as they’re all females. There is no shortage of food since we lavish them with all their little hearts could desire. Nor is territory an issue in my categorically unprofessional opinion. Perhaps a simple and overwhelming desire for the heady rush of world domination is largely to blame—or at least dominion over a 1,080 cubic inch corner of the rodent world.

That said, I don’t pretend to know what makes hamsters tick and/or hurl their smallish bodies at one another, thrashing about the place on the fringe of complete and utter derangement with every intent to maim those on the receiving end of their wrath. However, I find it fairly disturbing that, of late, the aforementioned hostility smacks of bullying in the truest sense of the word. More specifically, all of the big and burly hamsters join forces to torment the remaining (and pitifully defenseless) creature—chasing it without end, wrestling it into submission and causing it to cower in lieu of feeding or resting comfortably. No wonder it has failed to strengthen and grow on pace with the others. It is the Fregley (of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame) of the hamster world, while the others, collectively, are Scut Farkus (the infinitely repulsive, skank-mouthed beast-of-a-thing that played in A Christmas Story).

Oddly enough, I find myself wanting to intercede beyond the obvious solution of segregating them—to play the role of mediator, to dole out therapeutic blurbages in Hamster-ese and to assign the warring factions exercises to promote cooperation and civility. I feel like demanding there be some sort of formal agreement, too. And in a perfect world, they would each sign something to that effect. A binding contract, suitable for framing, that I could display in full view of their purplish cage—a constant reminder of the joint investment made. Additionally, I feel as if the victim deserves special treatment for combat fatigue, because, clearly, that is what plagues the poor soul now. I’d also like to enroll the belligerent beasts in an anger management program—refusing to buy them any more strawberries or (gasp!) bananas unless and until they willingly participate and fully comply with its tenets.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for the segregation strategy, methinks, ever grateful to our kind and generous friends who GAVE us another hamster cage—an interconnected wonder of plastic feeding bubbles and cozy tunnels, gigantic domes and a wheel made for three or more of the smelly rodents we love so dearly.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (dealing with rodent rage).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under The Natives are Decidedly Restless