Unpredictable Grief, Hopelessly Whitebread, and Only by the Grace of God

It’s probably a sad commentary on my current mental state that I really miss my dogs today. I’m ashamed to admit it but my heart aches so much more for these guys than for my late husband (hard to say, and sad- but true.)

It’s been almost three years since Jerry died and mostly when I think of him I guilt trip because I really don’t feel sad about it. It’s like I should…but I don’t. It feels like when Mom dragged us to Confession and I knew I should confess all the unforgiveness I held on to for all the shit my sisters and their friends did to me, but I just didn’t feel the remorse. I was going through the motions because I knew I was supposed to.

This condition of knowing- you- should- feel- bad- but- you- really- don’t caused me a lot of theological cognitive dissonance, (i.e. Catholic guilt…) until I realized that it is God who grants the gift of repentance, and it is God alone in Christ who forgives my sins. This is fantastic news, because in and of myself I just can’t do it. I can’t force myself to regret or feel sorry or to forgive. Back to Lutheran theology and Christ Alone. I get the sufficiency of Christ alone, if only because I am so pathetically weak and emotionally and spiritually impaired. Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed states it pretty clearly:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. – Martin Luther

Most of humanity, quite honestly I can do without, which may not be right, but I freely admit it. Clara and Lilo, I miss them both, and painfully at times. Even though they were dogs. I love the dogs I have now (Brutus and Lucy) and I am incredibly thankful for them, but there are days. Clara, especially, was my heart.

Emotions are just so damned complicated. Then again no dog ever did anything to hurt me, and I can’t say that about any relationship I have ever had with other humans. Especially Jerry or my sisters, because, well because. The wounds are deep and the scars profound. Can I forgive anyone by my own choice? I can only forgive by the grace and intervention of God, and it’s a long, hard process. The old Adam fights that one with a pernicious tenacity.

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I know part of the human condition is that no one gets out of life alive, but knowing my vulnerabilities and blind spots it is almost impossible for me to be open with anyone because I don’t know what weapon they are going to use against me. I don’t read people well at all. I’m fine with keeping everything on a superficial level but the deep dark secrets? I don’t mind letting others confide in me, but the converse is most certainly not true. I don’t want to rely on anyone because people use me and let me down.

I can’t say I understand what “normal” people think or feel. I’ve never been “normal” or anything close to it. All I know about “normal” is what I can see and script for navigational purposes. I put up a good front, but that’s exactly what it is, a front- a stressful and draining, but necessary, front.

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I don’t think I would have done well with the 1950s housewife gig.

I can only see where I have been and I can only navigate through the mechanics of my own wiring, which has got to be skewed. I am sure that a psychologist would have a field day with me at this point in my life. It’s been over 15 years since I’ve seen a counselor (that probably would be a good idea, but I don’t have the scratch to afford it, nor can I take time off work.) There’s been a ton of crazy shit that has gone down in my life since then.

Oh, yes, crazy shit. Living with an alcoholic and the insanity and crazy-making that goes with that for 20+ years does wear one thin. Then he gets a terminal disease on top of that…which makes him even meaner and more irrational, even though at first he does try to do the right things to a degree. Add having to watch your best friend die, then having to dig her grave, (and I am referring to Clara, who was a dog, so don’t get any macabre ideas) then having to move in a fire sale, desperate sort of way, all while my terminally ill, alcoholic husband is screaming and raging as much against me as he is his inevitable death.

It’s hard to write that. Maybe the delayed reaction is kicking in after all. PTSD – the gift that keeps on giving. We can add in all the other right psychological terms too- learned helplessness, chronic anxiety, and our miserable old companion major depression, who is always camping out on the door mat waiting for the slightest opportunity to slip in the door and come in to stay for a good long time. It doesn’t help that anxiety and depression go hand and hand with autism, and there is mental illness galore in my family history. I even took one of those genetic screening tests for shits and grins (as if I didn’t already know my ethnic ancestry…oh yeah, living advertisement for the Most Whitest Anglo Saxon Ever…)

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The ethnic info was no surprise. It also showed I carry specific genes that increase one’s chances of being bi-polar, and of suffering from major depression and schizophrenia. That explains Mom’s family…and her to an extent, which is scary as hell because there are days when I seriously doubt my mental stability.

Sometimes I want to scream, cry, sleep, run or stage a twisted combination of all of the preceding. I’m afraid to even mention some of the good things happening in my life (and there are a few, and I thank God for everything with everything I can) because I’m not convinced it’s really real…and I’m afraid I’ll jinx it if it is.

There is something deeply sweet and undeserved about being able to be safe and loved in one’s home, and that is both majestic and terrifying because I have never been in such a place before.

There’s still a LOT of pain- emotional, spiritual and always, physical, and I don’t know where that’s going to go. I think it wants to translate into fear. I don’t want to give in to fear. The panic attacks are thankfully getting less frequent and less severe but they still happen. As for the arthritis flares, medication usually keeps it down to a dull roar, but when the fire is on, it’s on, and not much will touch it.

I spend a lot of time in sacred music and Bible reading these days even though I know that forgiveness and healing are not things I can do- but what God does for me.

Kyrie Eleison…

The Dismality of February, and This Will All Thaw Someday

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Oh, the dismality of February yet again.  There is a reason why February only has 28 days (at least for three out of four years,) and that’s to put a lid on the number of people who die in February.  If February were 30 or 31 days, half the damn population would die in February, and that would just be weird.  We have to spread the death throughout the year better.  Not that everyone should die from heat stroke in July, but jeez.  I can understand losing the will to live when it is 90° and 100% humidity if there’s no air conditioning, perhaps a bit more than most, because I am not at all equipped for high temperatures.  I can abide cold a far sight better than extreme heat.

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But at least in July there is sunlight, and Ohio winters are notoriously dark and sunless. I can go all week without seeing sunlight save for maybe a ray or two on the weekend-  unless there is a damned blizzard going on.  And even if the damned blizzard is going on and it’s 4° below, Target still has nothing but bathing suits, tank tops, sandals and sleeveless dresses on display.  If I need a parka, I will have to wait until July when they put them back out.

Here in central Ohio we have been enduring a rather harsher than normal winter.  Oh, yippee skippy, because I just adore driving in ice and snow.  I’m all about those below zero temperatures too.  There is simply nothing like one’s ass freezing to the toilet seat unless I break down and turn on the space heater in the bathroom.

“Spring” will arrive someday. Probably sometime in May there will come a day when my back yard will transform from frozen tundra into Dog Shit Lake overnight.  Oh, the smell of Spring in the air.  Temperatures will go from -4° to 90° and 100% humidity within the span of about 12 hours.  There is really no Spring in Ohio. There is just arctic cold and wind, followed by stygian heat, usually accompanied by torrential rain.

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This is Brutus, the Catahoula^ (Catahoula Bed Hog Dog)

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This was Clara^ (God rest her sweet soul) the Malinois

Note to self: the 80# Catahoula shits according to his size.  For those unaccustomed to dogs, for an example, a 65# Malinois has the strength to overpower a 300# man.  The 65# Malinois consumes, and disposes of about the same number of calories as a 300# man every day. Imagine that kind of waste load deposited in your back yard every day for six months from October until the May Thaw arrives.

In all fairness, since a Malinois is an ultra high energy, high metabolism dog, a 65# Malinois and an 80# Catahoula are pretty much identical in strength, energy consumed, and waste put down.  My paradigms have been pretty much the same for awhile.

There’s going to be a lot of dog shit to deal with.

Strange Song Lyrics, Walmart, Livestock, and Back to 1981 (or not)

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I was just thinking what an interesting world it would be if I wrote trivia questions for money. I have stored away too much esoteric and ephemeral knowledge for my own good over the years. Making it multiple guess would be too easy.  I go for fill in the blanks, which at least requires some thought and/or creativity.

The first question I came up with? It’s a real blast from the past.

Name a song with the word “guillotine” in it.

I am sure there are more than one, but the one I am thinking of is, “Bastille Day” by Rush.

Even cooler is the rest of the phrase: “the guillotine will claim her bloody prize.”

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At least I used a cartoon. Lighten up.

Imagine the lyrics police on that one today, although it’s better than all the sister raping and cop killing in rap music. If you could understand the lyrics in rap music, that is.

I am dating myself in saying that, especially knowing that rap has been around since before Blondie and her song “Rapture,” and that dates back to 1981, when Reagan was President, Steve Perry was the hottest thing in Spandex, and all was right with the world, except that the cars sucked.

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Some things really suck about getting old. Since my car was trashed almost 3 months ago (yes I am pleased with the new Corolla, but still residually pissed about the perfectly fine 2014 Corolla that got trashed) I am finally feeling somewhat normal again.  Therapy for my shoulder did actually work, which I am glad about even though I have had to fight the other guy’s insurance for bloody everything and I am still hashing over various things.  I didn’t ask to get rear ended by some moron with a history of seizures who should have known better than to be driving.  I didn’t ask to deal with four or five full blown arthritis flares along the way either.  Thanks, asshole.

Maybe I should have gotten a lawyer, but I hate the legal profession even more than the medical industry. I refuse to refer to the medical industry as “health care.” They don’t care, and the last thing they want for their pocket books is for anyone to actually be healthy. The legal profession, insurance companies and the medical industry are all rip-offs, and all are in cahoots.  Follow the money trail.

Yesterday I saw another one of those displays of cross stitch patterns that are a bit on the dark side. I love cross stitch, but haven’t done it in a long time.  I would like to indulge in a nice cross stitch piece with a dark saying or two.  I saw one that had a cactus, then underneath it the word, “prick.” That one is funny. I am considering designing a simple one about being a sweetie and wiping the seatie if you sprinkle when you tinkle.  Then again, maybe a subtle DON’T PISS ON MY TOILET SEAT would serve me better.

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It’s been enjoyable being able to cook again- real food like beef and noodles or rotisserie Cornish hens, or grilled meat. Jerry was never pleased with anything I cooked, except sometimes bacon, and toward the end about the only thing I could get him to eat were chocolate covered mini-donuts. It was sad but there wasn’t anything I could do, and I felt like everything I did do was wrong.

I have said it before, and maybe it’s cruel to see someone’s passing as a relief, but Jerry’s truly was. He had been unhappy and ill and suffering for many years, and I bore much of the weight of his frustration and pain and sorrow.  When I see people who I’ve not seen in awhile and have to explain what happened I can’t pretend to be all grief stricken and weepy.  It’s not my personality anyway to be emotional and maudlin – yes, autistics get emotional, but not on cue, and not usually in any kind of “normal” appearing way.  I strive to keep my emotions private and sometimes I am so good at it I convince myself I don’t have any at all.  Then something taps the latch and the floodgate springs open at the most inopportune time.

I’ve had a few freaky dreams lately. The one about hanging out in a pen with a bull- yes, as in bovine-was especially weird.  Why was I the only one he would be docile around? Everyone else would just aggravate him and make him aggressive, but I could do anything with him.  Maybe it’s about boundaries or control issues- both are things at which I completely suck in the real world.  Being the bull master in dreams- not really the stuff power trips and fantasies are made of- but I guess I have to take whatever power I can get.

I’ve had that effect on dogs and a few cats, but I generally avoid animals larger than dogs. I have a healthy respect for horses.  It’s been years since I’ve ridden a horse.  I like them, but they are harder to read than dogs and there is a lot less margin for error with them.  You cheese off a dog and you get a warning snarl or raised hackles or any number of other warning signals.  Dogs are good at body language, even to the point of getting an autistic person to get it. Dogs normally want to help.   Cheese off a horse, however, and you are like as not to get kicked across his stall with little or no warning.  Horses don’t have to be nice.  They are only nice if they respect you.

Of cattle, I know nothing.

I never really had to hang out with cattle, except in Newark, Ohio.

There were, and likely still are, some Really Fat Cows there. Even 20+ years ago there was a stampede of heifers sporting too much cleavage stuffed into too small bras, and the parade of big butts hanging out of leggings stretched beyond reasonable limits was on.  It was when I worked in Newark that I could buy “dinky sizes” such as 10 or 12 on the clearance rack at the discount store.  I could also find 38D bras marked down which never happened in less ample parts of the world. It was also in Newark that I learned there is such a thing as women’s size 20 underwear, and that they could also serve as a car cover for my Corolla with room to spare.

Granted, morbid obesity is a thing in rural Ohio and it’s almost as bad as heroin or crack. People don’t have much to do other than watch TV, play on the Internet, screw, and scarf those dreadful greasy $5 pizzas from Little Caesar’s, unless they’re shooting heroin, making meth or smoking crack, that is.

There is Wal-Mart though. Wal-Mart is an endless source of entertainment.

Sometimes I think it would be funny to strap on a Go Pro in Wal-Mart and just see how it goes. What kinds of weird shit would I encounter?

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Things That Suck #1149, and We Cry for Chlorine for the Gene Pool!

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I am convinced that the Universe doesn’t mean for me to have nice things for long.  All it took to destroy my perfectly lovely 2014 Corolla S+ was some jackwagon who knew he had seizures, but saw it fit to drive anyway.  Dude had a seizure while driving, and lost control doing about 45 MPH.  Sad part of it is, he had his own mother in the car with him and damn near put her through the windshield.  Yes, the gene pool needs a lot more chlorine.   He hit two other cars before hitting mine- I was stopping for a light- and putting my car smack into the concrete divider.

The left rear control arm was completely broken off,  the left curtain airbag was deployed, and the front end- front fascia, reinforcement, both headlights, radiator and condenser, etc.- was completely shattered into the divider. I got off with a ride in the squad to the ER, a badly sprained wrist and jacked up shoulder, for which I have to go see more freaking doctors.  When they can bother to get me in, of course.  It’s always a beautiful thing when I can’t lift my arm over my head, or move my shoulder hardly at all and it’s no better after three weeks, and nobody gives a rat’s ass about my pain or my time because of their vacations… (oh but they do care about getting my money…) <sarcasm here>  That insurance adjuster probably won’t be terribly happy with me over the medical bills and everything else, but I wasn’t the fool who went driving when I knew better than to do so.  At least they paid for my car off so far.  As far as my medical expenses and time off work and all that other shit, we shall see.

The good news is I was able to replace the car quickly (thanks to the good people at Germain Toyota, and just plain dumb luck that they had two 6 speed Corollas in stock) and I do like the new one.

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2017 Corolla SE 6MT

I wasn’t really planning on a new car, but didn’t really have much choice.  I hate buying used cars because you’re usually buying someone else’s trouble, and I don’t need that.  Finding a good manual used car is even harder than finding new ones, and after my illustrious son’s experiences with used cars, no thanks.  I can’t help but to visualize the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where the parking garage valets joy ride in Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari.  I would have the luck to buy a used car that had been rode hard and put away wet.  I had cars like that (not the Ferrari, but cars that had been thoroughly hosed by someone else) when I was in high school and college. I don’t have the time or the patience to jack around with that.

Besides getting my car trashed and having to have more dealings with the thoroughly corrupt and money hungry health “care” industry than normal, (they only “care” when they get money out of you, and that’s the truth) things have been interesting.  In spite of myself and my new found freedom, I am actually having a good time. There are days where I look back and wonder why the hell I put up with as much shit as I did for as long as I did, but as far as being lonely or heartbroken or all that, not so much.  All I will say for now is I am enjoying life for the first time in my life.  Better late than never.

Insert gratuitous pic of Brutus the amazing Catahoula here:

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The End of the World, Not So Much, and Where to From Here?

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I haven’t been here in awhile.  I have posted on my other sites that are mostly on things theological but as far as my personal life and the transitions I’m going through, I haven’t commented much.  It’s been a lot to process, and continues to be a lot to process, so I really haven’t put the words together yet.

My silence might sound strange given the rather cynical nature of my commentary here, and also a bit critical because there really is no compartment of life called a “spiritual life.” Spirituality is everywhere- from the sacred to the profane and everywhere between, so why can I write about spiritual things but not so much on others?  I am well aware that while by the grace of God I may be a saint, but I am most certainly still a sinner too.   Given that, I realize that what I write here may or may not be spiritually edifying to others even though it may be a.) funny and b.) cathartic for me.  Perhaps I have needed a bit less catharsis than usual, which is probably not a bad thing.

As far as living in my grandmother’s old house, I have never felt more at home.  Possibly it’s because I can (within budget and reason) do whatever I want with décor as well as with my time and- this is key- who I spend my time with.  I am almost afraid to even mention that someone has found me (because trust me, I was NOT looking) and suffice to say life is different.  Interesting.  Purposeful.  Alive.

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I never bought into the princess stories as a child.  I knew I wasn’t the princess.  I was the leftover, the consolation prize, the last choice, the one who shovels the shit when the parade is over.  I still don’t buy into fairy tales.  But it is a gift and a welcome comfort to have someone in my life now who doesn’t see me as a whipping post, or as a built in maid, or as interactive furniture.  It is a welcome change to be a part of at least a symbiotic relationship, but dare I admit- it is much more than that.

Of course being one of those once bitten, twice shy people I am moving with caution.  I don’t need a man.  I certainly do not need to be a substitute mommy for anyone.  I’ve never been in this position before and I’m 48 years old- where I want to be with someone simply because it feels good and right when we’re together.  And that’s all I want to say publicly for now.

As to the macabre business of dealing with dead people’s stuff, that’s not so pleasant.  Just a couple of weeks ago I finally boxed up the rest of Jerry’s old stuff- clothes and various kitsch- and gave it to the Salvation Army.  I kept the tools and a few momento type things, but not much.

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I wanted to make the spare room nice for my granddaughter when she spends the night, so she can have her own special place. There is no sense in keeping old crap around that’s not being used and taking up space when someone in need might get some use out of it.

I am still going through the shit of getting his truck title and bank accounts released to me through the court.  Not that any of that stuff is horribly valuable, but I have been pursuing it since October.  I don’t know if it’s the lawyer’s office that is pokey as hell or the court itself.  Probably both.

I don’t know how common it is when someone who survives a person who was terminally ill actually feels more relieved than grieved when his or her spouse dies.  Maybe it’s normal in some circumstances.  He’s been dead since October and I really can’t say I’ve ever been the classic grieving widow.  Granted, our marriage was never a terribly happy one, to put it mildly. It was pretty much defined by Jerry’s alcoholism and gambling, and then the pulmonary fibrosis.  Maybe that’s why the primary emotion I’ve been feeling is relief, as if a huge weight has been lifted off of me.  That’s not to say I am completely heartless.  There are things I miss about him, but on the whole I have a better life.  I am no longer making a game out of how many times he can call me a bitch between 5 and 6 AM as I’m getting ready for work.  I certainly do not miss that. Should I feel like a total shit because I am no longer being bitched at and browbeaten every time I turn around?  At least I am being honest, and that should count for something.

I am not sure exactly what my life is going to look like moving forward.  I know my boundaries a lot better.  I know I enjoy quiet, a simple existence, a tidy home, autonomy and my dogs.

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Death, Life, Mourning and Dancing

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It’s been a month and I’ve just gotten to where I can talk about it.  Yes, Clara was a dog, but there are some dogs who are more than dogs. Even now, just remembering her big, soft ears and deep brown eyes, and the way she would lean on me so hard she almost knocked me down at times, brings me to tears.  I know that the love of dogs has a price- their lives are far too short.

Everything I had learned of the Malinois breed indicated they are noted for health and longevity. Most of the 12 years she lived in our home she was happy, healthy and robust.  In spite of Clara’s difficult start as a rescued dog with a laundry list of physical and emotional issues, she healed and blossomed with us.  She mentored our other dogs.  She visited the nursing home when my Grandma was there, and offered comfort to many of the residents. Clara was a gentle, intuitive dog, who even took care to mentor Brutus, her final protégé, who she had a month to teach, until she got ill.  He has many of the same beautiful, intuitive traits Clara had.  His gentleness reminds me of her.

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I am thankful her final illness was brief.  It took only a week from the time I noticed she was getting a bit melancholy and slow, then she stopped eating, and by then she was displaying all the classic signs of congestive heart failure.  We took her, and for the first and only time, I had to lift her in and out of the truck- to our long time family vet.  I hoped the vet would have a different answer than what I knew to be inevitable.

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Our vet knew the labored breathing and heavy plodding of a dying dog all too well though. One look at a dog who used to be vibrant and alert and active, but now was struggling just to breathe and move a few steps, was enough for the vet to conclude that given her age, and the signs of heart and probably multiple organ failure, that Clara was, indeed, dying. We agreed that letting Clara go in peace without pain would be far more humane than heroics that may or may not buy a week or two. I held her in my arms as she passed, so she would know how much she was loved. We buried her near the gate she used to guard.

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Clara was 14.  I was blessed to have her for a little more than 12 of those years.

Unfortunately there is more impending death around me, and it will cut even deeper than losing Clara.  Jerry is getting more and more ill from the pulmonary fibrosis.  He keeps getting put on more meds. He tires easily and is spending more and more time on the oxygen box.  The only hope for him to improve- and hopefully not die right away- is to get him on track for a lung transplant.  He will have to go on disability to do that, which will be at most optimistic, the very least a month or two away.

To add more to the chaos in my life, we will be moving as we are buying my grandmother’s old house.  Dad is selling it to us, and I am glad to get the strangers he’s been renting it to gone. They are supposed to be out tomorrow, then I can assess what needs to be done before we can move in.  I will have a lot longer drive to work for me, but it will get him into a quiet neighborhood out of the city.  The house is small but the yard is huge and there will (soon) be a large fence so the dogs can go out safely.

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Talk about the psychological maelstrom that I am trying to navigate.  I want Jerry to stay healthy enough for a lung transplant but the reality is that I may lose him too.  Yes, he is difficult and high maintenance, and he takes out his frustration on his health issues on me, but contrary to logic and reason, I am in this regardless.  Death, life, mourning or dancing- it’s all part of the drama of life.

I am looking forward to moving if only because it feels like I’m going home.  I will finally be able to be in a home I will own, that nobody can arbitrarily throw me out of, and my grandparents’ house will stay in the family. I’ll also be closer to my parents, my son and my granddaughter.

 

The Reality of Canine Longevity, Denial, and a Catahoula Cur

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Brutus, my 1 year old male Catahoula Cur

I might as well begin with the Catahoula Cur.  I had been half-heartedly looking for a dog for Miss Clara to mentor for awhile before her time with me is through.  We got Clara as a two year old- when our Kayla was 14.  It was a great arrangement in that Kayla had some time to work with Clara, who was a rescue with a laundry list of issues. Now she is well-adjusted, a fine protection dog, and has had many good years of happiness and health.

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Clara (left- 2 years old) Kayla (right- 14 years old)

I admit I am still in denial that now Clara is 14 years old, and she is slowly fading. I know, and lament, the limited lifespan of dogs, especially when I consider Clara, who is very precious to me.  Lilo is 13. She is also dear to my heart, and a good protection dog as well. Lilo has been Clara’s shadow since she came to us, and will probably not outlive Clara by long.  They are only eight months apart in age.

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Lilo (left- 2 years old) Clara (right- 3 years old)

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Lilo- 3 years old

Even though my mind understands the limitations of canine longevity, in my denial I wasn’t looking very hard to find Clara a protégé.  I was thinking either I would save up some money and try to get either a GSD pup from someone reputable, or that the Hand of Fate would somehow place another Malinois in my path.

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Lucy – 1 year old, being good, but only because she was sleeping.

For me the thought of living without at least one protection dog is not a pleasant one.  Lucy (the Bulldog X Beagle) is only three years old, but at only 40# and with dim wits (love the dog, she’s very sweet, but she’s as thick as a post) she’s not a protection dog.  So I faced the prospect of not having a protection dog at all, and then trying to educate a green dog without the help of a seasoned dog.  Lucy is not a role model.  If anything, as far as canine behavior goes, she serves as a primer on how not to act.

clarawindow1Clara used to get up in the window to watch the world go ’round, but not much any more.

Oddly enough, Providence doesn’t necessarily share my aesthetic, my timing, or my professed desires.  Let’s just say that instead of a young female Malinois or GSD… I ended up with a young male Catahoula Cur.

One of my son’s friends had come back to Ohio from Texas (don’t know all the background info, don’t really need to) and couldn’t keep his dog.  My son- and only male children have a surprising amount of sway on their old decrepit mothers- implored me to come meet this dog before he was consigned to the dog pound, which, given his looks, could lead to a probable nasty fate at the hands of local dog fighters.  So, even though he is not a GSD or Malinois, I agreed to meet the dog.  And I fell in love. Let’s just say I’ve gotten Mr. Brutus his rabies tag and dog license, and he’s loving having a three-girl-dog harem.

Brutus LucyBrutus and Lucy

I’d never even heard of a Catahoula Cur (or more properly, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog) before last week, and I am pretty aware of dog breeds.  I thought he was a very large (1 year old and 65#) and strangely marked Pit Bull.  But Catahoulas are not Pit Bulls.  Their bodies are longer and a bit leaner, their feet are larger, and the webbing on their feet goes all the way out to the ends of the toes.  They are larger (males are 65-95#) than Pit Bulls, and are known for the leopard patterns in their coats. Many, like Brutus, have blue eyes.

Catahoulas are used to hunt wild boar in Louisiana and Texas, and they likely have Pit Bull in their lineage, along with Mastiff, and various sight hounds.  Even though Brutus and Clara look nothing alike, they have eerily similar mentalities.  Both dogs are infinitely aware of their surroundings, and both are intuitive.  He will learn well, and it is good to have a young protection dog again.

Clara 14 small

Clara, age 14

I know that I will grieve down to my very soul when Clara and Lilo pass.  They have been most excellent dogs,  but that is the condition of loving a dog- that their life spans are quite finite and all we can do is love them well in the time we have.

I could talk about and dote upon my dogs forever, and that’s a great thing because they are positive.  Not everything in life is so good.  Jerry is failing at an even faster rate than Miss Clara, and that is not a good thing.  He has gotten the oxygen concentrators he needs to help him breathe.  Life is finite.  Do what you can with what you have.