Dating Life

Has it been that long? It’s the holidays again!

Wow!  Izzy and I have been so busy that we didn’t realize a year has gone by since our last post.  Well, time to catch you all up, I guess.

We are still working on the relationship between Izzy and Louis (Izzy thinks it’s Louis; Louis swears it’s Izzy), but they really do love each other — even though Izzy lets Louis know he was here first and the bed is, after all, his.

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A couple of times this year, we left Izzy with our favorite dog sitter and were greeted enthusiastically when we returned.  I often wonder what it would be like if we moved to another place, like Ecuador or Paris or someplace truly romantic, like Kenya!  Would Izzy feel a bit out of place or would it be okay because we would still be together?

I’ve been working nonstop on my writing since we last posted, and I’ve been fortunate to have some successes.  In September, I spent some time at the Weymouth Center for the Humanities to write (and to heal after a horrible family tragedy). Throughout the year, there have been several essays published, I’ve republished my back list, and I have a new novel coming out next September entitled The Mourning Parade (about the plight of elephants in Thailand and the heartbroken women that dedicates herself to one of them).  Take a look at what I’ve been doing, if  you’d like: http://dawnrenolangley.com   Throughout it all, Izzy sits and keeps me company, reminding me every couple of hours to take a walk!

Right now, this little four-legged guy needs a haircut, but I hesitate to put him back with the same people who did him last time — because for almost three weeks, he walked with his tail held sideways.  They’d clipped his skin in so many places, the poor guy still has scars.  I’m seriously thinking of learning how to groom him myself.

How about you folks?  Do any of you do the grooming yourself?

Hope you all are having a great holiday season.  We promise to be better about keeping in touch.

Peace.

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Izzy’s Fourth Birthday: No cake. Just bones.

IzzyWe celebrated Izzy’s fourth birthday quietly last week.  Just the two of us.  I don’t think he even knew it was a celebration until I brought out the new bone.  It took him about five minutes to eat it.  So much for that.

I’m not the kind of person who usually celebrates dogs’ birthdays.  I mean, I know generally when my animals were born, but I’m not going to make a cake and have a party and announce the day to the world.  Dogs don’t care.  Cats care even less.  But Banfield (where Izzy goes to the vet’s) sent me an email to tell Izzy “Happy Birthday,” and that kind of got me started thinking about the day, the time that has passed, and the many changes Izzy has gone through during the past three years (he came to me when he was 9 months old, so I don’t count that first year in “our” memories).

 

He spent his first year with very little human contact, which is probably why he loves other dogs so much.  They were his companions until he came to live with me.  In fact, he was so poorly socialized that I didn’t have to pay for him.  The person who ‘sold’ him to me knew that he would be a challenge, and she was right.  “You can have him for free,” she told me, “as long as you promise to work with him.”

I did.  But I didn’t know how difficult it would be or how long it would take for him to trust humans.

For the first three months, Izzy would not come near me.  I couldn’t pat him, and when I forced him to sit in my lap or to let me touch him, his body stiffened and he pulled as far away as he possibly could manage.

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I’m not quite sure when that changed, but finally, he found his way to my lap to ask for love and would look at me directly instead of in a sidelong fashion.

It took a lot longer to habituate him to other people.   He loved dogs much more (and still does).

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My next door neighbors are the ones I credit with socializing Izzy.  Deb and Danny never gave up, constantly talking to Izzy, sitting on the ground in order to touch him, and going for walks with us so that he would “feel” their presence.  It worked.  Three years later, he still gets excited when I mention their names, and when Deb came to visit us in this new house a couple of weeks ago, Izzy tried to turn himself inside out to get to her.

Still, when someone new comes by, he will jump and bark.  My new guy, Louis, is a bit frustrated by the fact that Izzy doesn’t want Louis near me, but we’re working on my four-legged friend.  Giving him treats when he sits quietly works most of the time and reminding him that he’s a dog who lives with humans rather than vice versa works, as well.  But it’s a work in progress.

I wish Izzy understood that dating is difficult as it is, and he’s making it even harder.  Thankfully, Louis is going to stick around for a while and knows that Izzy is “family,” so he (Louis) has to figure out how to get this stubborn little Shichon to chill out a bit.

After I got Izzy, I had the opportunity to rent a little bungalow five minutes from work, so we moved–which was probably the best thing I did because Izzy didn’t do well alone in my apartment all day.

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I kept a journal of our first year in Roxboro, and I’m now working on rewriting it, making the story more of a narrative that might someday find its way into a publisher’s catalog.  Rereading that work reminds me of how much Izzy has learned since arriving in a crate to the Raleigh-Durham airport one hot early summer’s day.  He has gone from being terrified to get out of the crate and say hello to “owning” his new house and making friends with all of our new neighbors.

He especially adored Ellie (and her human, Peggy), always perking up his ears whenever I asked him if he wanted to take a walk to see her.

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It’s been an uphill battle for this first four years, but I’m proud of my little guy, of the commands he’s learned, and the way he has adapted.  We have a mutual love-fest going on that I know will continue for as long as we’re both around.

They say dogs are humans best friends, and I truly agree.  They are also our rescuers, even though we might be the ones doing the initial rescuing.

So, Happy Birthday, little buddy.  And thank you for coming into my life.

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Adopting — and The Emotional Tugs. (from a friend)

Today’s post is one that my friend, Sara Elizabeth Jackson, posted on Facebook.  She’s one of my former students, fosters dogs regularly, and has a huge heart.  This post was exceptionally poignant, so I asked whether I could share.  At the bottom of the post is a photo of the dog to which she refers. 

 

My head is spinning and tears are flowing, and with every drop I become even more angry because rescuing sometimes feels as good as banging your head against a wall that keeps coming back for me. Driving home in silence tonight with this forgotten dog sitting shot gun beside me didn’t feel silent at all, it felt as though I was talking to an old soul. Her eyes are confused and worried, she whimpers with fear every few minutes, only then to look me in the eyes and heavily wag her tail with little thumps that soon fade. Her bones are showing, her breasts are heavy and evident that she has not been loved, she has been used. She has been seen as a money dispenser. Her hips hurt, her back is arched and protruding out in pain. She looks at me for comfort and all I can do is beg for her forgiveness. We have failed her. We as the dominant species have let down another soul that was put here only to give love to us whole heartily, selflessly, and for their entire lives. Instead, many abuse them, use them, forget them and toss them aside as if they are trash. You say you feel bad for her, that it makes you sad, that it hurts? Well I’m no longer sad, I can no longer just feel bad for her, I am angry. I have seen the pain in her eyes, I have felt the confusion and chaos in her soul, the plea for help, the desperation. Every day dogs like her are euthanized in shelters, alone, confused. Blah Blah Blah… you’ve heard it all before, but you know what, take in one of these dogs. See how they transform and only beg to be loved. Love. That is what we need to save this world. Selflessness and Love. Something the dog has truly mastered.

 

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So I’m a Baby Boomer Woman and I have a Dog. That doesn’t make me a crazy old lady.

Lately, I’ve been doing some thinking about dating at this age, and I’ve come to a conclusion:  I have more fun with my dog and my grandson.

For years, other single friends of mine have basically told me that they have “rich, full lives without men.”  I never believed them.  I thought how could they not miss having someone to eat dinner with?  How could they live without sleeping with a man?  How lonely must they be traveling without someone to share the scenery, someone to grab a suitcase when they’re tired, someone to do half the driving?  But every time I came up with one of those questions, the answer would be:  I don’t miss having to cook what someone else wants.  I don’t miss someone snoring and farting in bed.  I have plenty of friends who are fun to travel with and share half the driving.  And, inevitably, the friends also had companions of the four-legged variety.

My friend Jenna travels all over the country in a small mobile home accompanied by her dog, Sandy, and a cat, Mittens, both of which she adopted sometime during the last ten years.  Sandy isn’t her first dog and probably won’t be her last.  Mittens isn’t the first cat either, but she might be the last since dogs travel better than cats in mini-mobile-homes.  Jenna has been single for all of the years I’ve known her (we met back in the  mid-1980s when we were at a writer’s conference).  Only once during that 30+ year span has she had a relationship.  It lasted less than a year, and she practically threw a party when it was over.  I could hear her relieved sigh all the way in Florida, where I was living.  She was in Maine.

Greta moved from Massachusetts to Florida when her long-term relationship disintegrated because the guy she had been living with for 23 years was arrested for pedophilia.  Good reason to say goodbye and good riddance.  I thought she’d find another, better, man at one point, but she has always insisted she’s been quite happy with her two cats (sometimes one) who are quite independent and reflect her persona.  She travels with friends, works from home, visits her grandchildren in Seattle, London, Boston, and has come to the point of being happier at home in her seacoast town than she has ever been elsewhere.  Her question to me has always been:  why do you need a man?  I always insist that I haven’t “needed” one, I just liked having one around, especially one I loved.

Julie pens children’s books and teaches at a liberal arts college.  She lost her husband, the man with whom she was truly in love, several years ago.  Her dog, a rangy and adorable mutt, has kept her company and staved off an unbearable loneliness.  I think that, in many ways, that dog saved her from dying of a broken heart, much the same way my Izzy did with me.  She dates on occasion, but the last time I saw her, she said that she would be fine if she spent the rest of her life walking her dog, visiting with friends, traveling to see her daughter, and being happy that she had the time she did with her precious husband.

The women in my family who lost their husbands always ended up spending the rest of their lives alone.  Some of them had animals, others did not, and I think that the reason why most did not is because the majority of them lived in apartments (which might not have permitted pets).  Those who had animals were happier, I think.  And that supports the research that’s been done on older single people who live with pets — they have less heart attacks, less stress, and get more exercise than their counterparts who simply live alone.  I suspect they are also warmer during storms like the ones we’ve had during this (not-over-yet) winter.  Nothing better than having a cat or dog cuddle up with you on the couch or in bed when no amount of quilts seems to be enough to keep you warm.

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Perhaps I’ll be like this woman in the picture who probably talks to the dog and cat who have been her companions for most of her life.  It could be worse.  At least she’s smiling!  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to have the contentment I have with my silly little dog (and my grandson and my friends and my writing) than to have knots in my stomach  because I’m wondering what the man who lives with me will find to critique at dinner tonight.  I’m not crazy.  And I’m not alone.  I’m a dog lover who happens to be over 40 :0)