Tag Archives: bischon frise

the unexpected one

We find ourselves here once more.  Telling the story of a little dog who unexpectedly wove her way into our hearts.  Yesterday afternoon, with the gentle and kind assistance of the wonderful folks at Cincinnati Animal Medical Center, I said a tearful goodbye to our Charlie.

She wasn’t always ours.  Charlie began her life as the much coddled lap dog belonging to Tony’s mom Pat.  Very shortly after she came to them, health problems began to take center stage as can happen in life and Charlie learned to tolerate shuttling to and from the homes of relatives between hospital stays.  After Pat’s husband Larry passed away, Charlie and Pat settled into a number of peaceful years and I know Charlie was great company for my mother-in-law, who was now very much on her own.

Eventually, Pat’s own health began to suffer and with that, her ability to care for her beloved little dog.  And so, in the grand arc of all the things involved in Caring For An Aging Parent, we took the dog.

She was a bit worse for wear, having been reared on tasty but lacking-in-nourishment “treats” and too little exercise.  When Charlie arrived here at Chez Bogard, she weighed almost 20 pounds and was unable to even walk up the driveway without lying down to rest.  Eventually, forced into the Bogard Clean Living Plan featuring good food, no junk, and more and more gentle exercise, Charlie lost her extra pounds, getting to a healthy 13 pounds.  Imagine losing a third of your body weight!!  Over time, the compounding changes in her health led to a softer, whiter coat and more energy.  Charlie’s feisty personality really blossomed and she settled into life here, amazingly able to keep up with our two larger dogs, Iris and River.

“Even the tiniest poodle or chihuahua is a wolf at heart.”

~Dorothy Hinshaw

But honestly, her favorite thing was lying around on the couch.

Charlie was the last creature I saw each night before I went to sleep as she liked to lie at the foot of our bed.  Sometimes, in full moonlight she would shine like a bright little beacon.

I often drew her in my bedside drawing practice.  I’ve always liked scribbly dogs, and Charlie was very scribbly indeed.

As you may have read, the last couple of years have been a bit rough around here with quite a bit of loss and grief.

Charlie spent nearly a year as our only dog and we could see she was aging a bit.  But we adjusted.

She was able to go to the seashore for the first time….

And she continued to make friends wherever she found herself.

Last December we adopted a puppy called Philomena and Charlie, once again, adjusted beautifully.

Eventually.

I find myself this morning settled with our decision to let her go.  Everyone who knows us had been saying for a while, ‘maybe it’s time’, but I struggled to know when exactly that time was.  For a good long time now, Charlie has been deaf to all but the shrillest sounds, blind to all but the shifting shadows of light and dark.  Still, she had her routine and she carried on.  We managed her pain as best we could and carried on with the day to day.  She relished meal time in what I now know was an almost demented obsession.  I look at the photos of her from as recently as this past spring and I can see how much she had shifted in just the last couple of months.  Gone was the brightness in her eyes and she just seemed weary.  Much as I hated to admit it, I was holding on to her for my sake, not for hers.  It was time.

We didn’t choose Charlie, rather we all just sort of fell together somehow.  I always joked that “she was not the brand we ordered.”  Here was a dog who’s hair care routine was more expensive than my own! And yet, she was one of us.  We learned a good deal of patience through the stewardship of this little dog.  We learned that change is possible – good, solid, life-altering change – at any stage of life.  Charlie may have been an unexpected acquisition, but we loved her well.

Long may you run, Charlie.

 

 

Do what you can do

Today I have taken yet another day to do things slowly, to allow a plethora of new medicinals to take hold of this winter’s cold symptoms.  I stumbled upon a Keith Haring quote on the instagram page of Sketchbook Crafts which I know to be true and which I jotted into my own book, even as I chased the colors around my own sketchbook, doodling my magical canine beings.

Of late, I have pondered the notion of activism.  What can we do in the times ahead which are shaping up to be very different indeed. There are those who will march together on the day following the Inauguration of the vile new leader of the free world.   (Alas, I am signed up to take an art class, but my heart is with the marchers here in my town, and in DC.)

And there are those who use their fame and cultural influence for good (unlike some.)

But there are quieter avenues of activism as well.

The mere act of making some art feels like activism to me. As does teaching it to people who may think art is not theirs for the doing.  Open up one’s heart to their own making and there is no telling the sea changes which can occur.   In the coming weeks I am taking some remedial Spanish classes to re-learn a language I once spoke as a child.  This too feels like activism.  The class is in preparation for another trek down to Guatemala to do some sketching and exploring for future workshops there (stay tuned!!).  But I also would like to do more volunteer work in my community with folks who might not know English yet.  Small things, yes.  But perhaps they can stem the tide of where the election seems to be taking us.

So today, I do what I can do.  Everyday the light returns, as does my vim and vigor, and with that, some hope for better days.

 

At One

We are down to one hen, having lost the family favorite, mischievous, curious, moxie-laden Bernadine.  Her personality here on our little acre of land will be sorely missed.  11295616_10206664562194990_1017598909952787150_n

That leaves us with Elvyra, who was kind of the extra one from the beginning.  We went to the little farm in Kentucky to get four chicks, and came home with 5.  The farmer suggesting ‘that little easter-egger over there’ might be a good one to have if we wanted a pretty flock.

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And pretty she is.

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Of all of the flock, this one has been the quiet one.  Part of the flock enough to be safe, but not overly keen on human attention or affection.  Having read that lone hens are prone to depression and rapid decline, I have been keeping a close eye on Elvyra, but so far, she seems ok.

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She preens her feathers regularly and scritches around the garden and woods for bugs and fresh spring green things.  She’s still laying daily and roosts  predictably at night.  She is eager to de-coop in the morning and join me for a cup of coffee and some treats on the back stoop.  It’s become a bit of a thing for me lately amidst this crazy time of year.

There is just something so soothing about watching a hen peck around the yard for a bit each day.

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Even if it is just the one.

 

I’m gearing up for the Taos trip here in a few weeks and so have ramped up my yoga practice and running routine to get my head on straight, to be the best I can be for my incoming students.  Spring can be a frenetic season with graduations and birthdays to be celebrated, chores to be caught up on and of course the usual day to day work to be done.  Busy.  a word I loathe, but to which I must occasionally succumb.  I am woefully behind in my own sketchbook, but have instead been at the easel a bit each week in a painting course I decided to take from Manifest Drawing Center here in town.  I am learning  a lot in this class about color and painting in oil paints, some of which I hope to apply to my own teaching out west.  It’s important to me not to rest on laurels and to always be finding new things to share in my classes.  I am keenly aware that to do this work is a great gift.  I do not take it for granted.

While we are down in numbers in the avian world, our canine sphere is fit to burst since last year.  It’s nearly a year since we took over the stewardship of my Mama-in-law’s little dog Charlie.

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She was not as little as she really should be when she first joined us.  But with some exercise and the company of other dogs, she has trimmed out a good bit and her more boisterous personality has begun to shine (read, bark).

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Charlie seems quite happy here with us and still makes regular visits back home to Mom as well, which is good for everyone.

And so, on this very average day, I must get back to work.  Attempting the task of getting ahead of myself a bit before the summer travels begin in earnest; pondering the One-ness of all things via the simple avenues of home – ‘fanimals’ and family.

Til next time….