Under a Year to Retire

Well, it’s August. I started to work at my current job on August 1, 1988. Wow, so long ago… and I can potentially retire at 25 years. Yesterday was my 24th year at my job. I started working in the welfare office, and now I’m a programmer… after going to school and getting a degree, but since I work for the same government, I get to keep all my seniority, leave benefits, and pension benefits.

Jet, Tatum, Quinn

Jet, Tatum, Quinn

The dogs, I think, will be exceptionally happy to have me home all the time! Above is a picture of three… Jet, Tatum and Quinn. Quinn doesn’t have a very good stay yet, gonna have to work on that for Camp. As we are heading to Camp Winnaribbun on August 25th, for a week of fun in the trees and on the beach! Though I will probably cry a lot, since I’ll miss Levi, and this will be the first trip without him. For some reason, my brain has flashes of planning for him… how he’ll do no the drive, how he’ll be with Quinn… weird stuff, just for a fraction of a second, then I have to catch myself and realize Levi is not going.

I still can’t take his name and put it on the Memory List in my right menu bar. It’s been four months since he died… and, actually, tomorrow, August 3, is one year since Lucy died. Ugh. I miss her very much, still. I miss Levi too. I still try not to think about them very much, as thinking about them just hurts. The below picture is me and my husband, with Lucy, Levi and Angel. All three are gone now. I miss them all. *sigh* (Okay, I moved him in the menu bar… and of course, now I’m balling like a baby again.)

Lucy, Levi, Angel

Lucy, Levi, Angel

But I do love my current family. They are wonderful, and they make me smile. So, one year to retire, then I can play with them every day!

Changing Pack Dynamics

Chase

Chase

It’s been a month since Levi died, I still miss him terribly, and it’s interesting to watch how our pack dynamics have changed. We only have four dogs now, down from our high of seven. Four dogs is like having hardly any dogs at all.

The biggest change I think has been Chase. He’s the oldest now (8.5 years), and he has space issues with dogs he doesn’t know. He will attack without warning when we go out and he’s too close to other dogs. He will still do this. He always hated having foster dogs in our house. So he’s the happiest one of them all that we no longer foster. He’s very relaxed at home now and, strangely enough, he’s becoming our mediator dog. Chase and Levi never got along. Levi would grump at Chase on a regular basis.

But now Chase loves to play with Jet (he did before, but he’s more relaxed about it now). Chase plays with Tatum too, and kinda tolerates Muffit. Muffit barks at Chase when he (Muffit) wants to play, which annoys Chase to no end. But after years, Chase is showing lip and teeth when he gets annoyed. We think that Chase’s warning system was punished out of him before we got him. So he’d just explode without warning. At home he gives warning now (he was giving warning before Levi died too). Chase hasn’t started a fight at home in probably over a year. It’s quite nice.

Jet has been having issues with being unable to stop when he starts fighting. I believe he learned it from Levi. Jet didn’t learn a good way to tell another dog that he’s been hurt or he wants something or needs another dog to stop something. I blame Levi, and myself, of course. Hopefully we’ll work this out. But anyway, a couple weeks ago Jet was going off on Chase, and Chase just stood there in the back yard with Jet latched onto his cheek. This is HUGE for Chase. Before, Chase would have fought back and not have stopped. But now, Chase is like our medium dog that has taken on the role of smoothing everything over. It’s really cool.

Anyone in a multi-dog household understands that dogs fight. It’s what they do. Our dogs have good bite inhibition and don’t break skin. But they sure sound mean. And they don’t fight without reason. People yell at each other, dogs growl and snarl and fight. And our house is kinda small, so the dogs are close together a lot. Maybe we need some wood pergolas to lighten things up, but we can’t afford anything now!

My husband and I aren’t sure who is highest ranking dog anymore. It’s probably Tatum, our only girl. But it could be Muffit, he doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap. It’s not Chase, he’s just the middle ground dog. And I don’t think it’s Jet either, even though he’s intact. Though we think Jet wants to be. It’s one of those flowing easy going packs that just get along. It’s quiet and nice. It’ll be interesting to see how a puppy throws them all for a loop again. Chase will probably have the hardest adjustment, he always does, but hopefully he’ll adjust quickly.

Lucy Would Have Been 13 Today

Aside

Lucy

My sweet Lucy girl didn’t make it to 13. She died last August, 2011, when she was just twelve and a half years old. I still miss her every day. She was one of those dogs who I swear was going to be around forever, so losing her was really hard on me.

Lucy was a good girl and had a great attitude. She was stubborn and knew she wanted things her way. She loved food and would do anything for a treat. Though when the treats were gone, she didn’t have much interest in working. But I was able to get an ASCA-CD on her and an AKC Rally Advanced Titles. She didn’t much like agility. She wasn’t built very well and had a hard time jumping. And she developed a strange limp when she was about seven years old. None of the vets we took her to could figure it out.

When she was nine she developed megaesophagus and we had to feed her upright in her chair. But she didn’t seem to mind as long as she got to eat. And she ate three of four times a day, which she really liked!

I have collie things all over the house, smooth collie things, to remind me of the collies. I love them so very much. I even have a switchplate cover of smooth collies, and I do think those kids switchplate covers are fun too. I wonder if I can make up customized ones… I’m going to have to look into that, because I love pictures of the dogs all over the house.

I adored Lucy and will always miss her. I wish our dogs could live so much longer and stay with us. The house is much quieter without our lovely Lucy.

My Family

My Family

Lately I have been having a really hard time dealing with the loss of Lucy. She was the hardest for me, even more so than Angel last year. Or Littles just last week. I realize that I have a really hard time dealing with death. Not that anyone has an easy time of it… for one thing, though, my dogs are my kids. They mean as much to me as any human I know. My core belief system is that I am an animal. I am a human animal, and my dogs are canine animals. I am no better than them. Maybe human belief systems follow that humans are ‘better,’ somehow, than other animals. I do not believe this. I am more of the belief that I am the same as the earth. I live on the earth and I am as a tree or a rock or a bush. Or a deer or a rabbit or a dog. Maybe this is more like the American Indian belief system. Or the pagan belief system. Which I prefer to follow for myself.

So when a dog does, a part of me dies. Even though at the same time a part of the dog lives on inside of me. Still, I feel empty and hollow and I don’t know how to deal with it. Since I don’t really have an after-life belief system, either, I’m not sure where they go, though I do have my ideas.

Anyway, where I’m going with this is that all my life I’ve really avoided getting close to people. I’ve had trust issues with people. Haven’t really trusted those who were trustworthy in the past, instead I’ve trusted those who were not trustworthy. Though I think that I’ve changed in that regard now, it’s still hard for me to get close to fellow humans. It’s always been easier for me to get close to dogs. And so the main support network I have in my life is that of my very short-lived dogs.

And so when they leave me, I’m pretty crushed. Though now I’m at a place in my life where I can finally trust people more, get close to people more, which is a good thing. And most of my life I’ve really denied the thought that I need people, and dogs, to rely on as close friends and family.

And I’m so worried about Levi. He’ll be 12 in just about a month. And sometimes I think that my entire world of sanity is balanced on his life. Which is way too much to ask any creature to endure, I know. 🙂 Even though he gets extra attention now, which he really loves.

So I guess where I’m getting to with this is that today I had some sore of revelation. That it’s natural to love these creatures in our lives. And it’s so sad when they have to leave us. It’s just a natural part of life and it’s okay to love completely. I’ve avoided loving completely, because it means that when the object of your love is gone, then live is just about over and being crushed and miserable sets in. But it’s okay to have both, isn’t it? To love completely and still go on living. It’s natural and normal. Guess it took me a long time to realize this. But I have always loved my dogs completely, without reservation, unconditionally, just as they love me. They are so much easier than humans. So very much easier to love and live with.

I’ve been sick the last few days and feeling pretty rotten. I know it’s a combination of having too many losses, stress, catching some nasty cold, and also this underlying virus that I think I carry with me all the time. It all adds up, dangit. But today, or at least right now, I can look at our little graveyard of ashes in our cabinet that I have set up, and find a little bit more peace. At least for a while.

So I have to get back to the normal aspects of life. Missing those I’ve lost. Settling into a new life with the ones who are still alive. Maybe I’m a nut, I dunno. Maybe I just need a Steripen Adventurer Opti water filter to keep myself healthy… oh, and I joined Weight Watchers, to drop these awful pounds I’ve put on in the last couple of years. Still gotta take care of myself, eat healthy, and love completely the family I have with me still. And try to come to realize it’s okay to love completely, as well as lose completely. And still be okay.

Too Many Losses

Well, I removed Lucy’s picture from the top of the blog. And in the sidebar, I put her under In Loving Memory. Too very sad. I am not crying as much now, but still once in a while I just am still in shock that she’s gone.

And then we lost Littles, too. And last year we lost Angel. It all comes in waves, when you don’t space your animal’s ages out well and they get old at the same time. Though really we didn’t think of spacing them out, we just fell in love with them and took them home. Though now we are not fostering for rescue, and so when I get a dog or a cat, I put a lot of thought into it. We won’t be getting another dog for a couple of years. And I don’t think we’ll be getting any more cats, and we just can’t give them the lives they deserve.

And so life goes on. Not putting a picture in this post, because it’s too sad for me to put one of Angel, Lucy or Littles. And of course Kip and Jackie are always in my heart, too. Kip died in 2000, and Jackie when I was a teenager.

They are a part of me forever. I feel like an Immortal from Highlander. My loved ones dying as I live on. If they could think about it, maybe they would think I was immortal too. But I’m not. Just longer lived than the furkids I love so much.