All posts by L. Nahay

Soft and Broken

I woke up this morning to the weirdest sounds. Muffled and light, soft and broken and released in little batches.

Ok, it’s a bird.

Mine?

Sure enough, Phoebus, my little red god of light and singing, has found his voice and is in practice mode. I detect a bit of cardinal in his song, too. (that cardinal likes my yard and is always nearby, belting his songs out. I love cardinals, so it’s good). I had put out a large sock feeder for the finches last weekend, hoping their noise would also entice Phoebus a little (canaries are actually finches. Who knew?). He’s young and I’m not sure if they need to be taught. We play some YouTube videos here and there for him.

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It seems I’m not allowed to post video. Hmm. I swear I have in the past…. Anyway, meet Phoebus! Five months old now. I found him at a bird fair back in April. A red and black bird. Come on, I couldn’t pass him over. I wanted to name him Nightmare, but the boys vetoed me. The actual Nightmare does not sing and would not have been amused with my sense of humor. It only struck me as more hysterical. Oh well.

It’s been a hot week, but it rained much of yesterday, thankfully. I glanced out my patio door and found that my delphiniums had begun to bloom! I first saw these last year, I think. (It was not a gardening year, though. It was a painting year. Still haven’t finished.)

I saw them again early this year, but could not bring myself to pay $25 per gallon plant. Geeze, with as many as I want, that’s like a mortgage payment in flowers. But I found some hidden in a new nursery, $10 a gallon. Score! I didn’t know why I was so drawn to them at first. The blue-purple of the flowers were just amazing and striking. I looked them up and discovered they are my birth month’s flower. Huh. How about that?

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There’s two more waiting to be planted…but there was a forest of ferns to clear out! It’s taken a whole lot longer than I originally planned. My back has decided to do some funky-scary spasming where I go completely numb and partially paralyzed to my toes. Yea, this year has not started out very well, and six months out, hasn’t yet improved. But we’re working on it. Dr just wants me drugged without trying to figure out the whys.

Anyway, it suddenly hit me that I’m a mother of boys. And while this is in the realm of things I wouldn’t have asked them to do, I realized I had to. Accepting that you’re no longer physically able to do something you could have done easily last year is a really difficult thing to come to terms with. Anyway, they’re teenagers. Physical labor and outdoor chores are good for them. They need some muscle and character development.

They got those three large patches of ferns cleared in two days!

I’m a mother of boys. That was a pat on the back moment.

So the humming bird garden got started. The hummingbirds aren’t acknowledging my effort and continue to prefer the feeder. Oh well.

These Are Not Good Things

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After constant debate, I decided that euthanizing Daisy was the only humane decision I could make. I know that mentally, she was not ready, nor was I, which is where I struggled. But I could not do anything to keep her body in sync with her mind, and it was causing her to suffer.

So now there is none. Within three months, I’ve said goodbye to both my dog and my cat.

I came home yesterday and cleaned. Her litter boxes, her food bowls. Today I washed my sheets and finally washed our bathroom floor mats- after nearly a year in the laundry. She had started defecating on them, so I could no longer put them out.

This morning, the sound of a cat howling outside my window woke me up around 6am. This is not normal, but I refused to get out of bed and look. No. I’m not taking in anything more right now.

My son and I finally moved the 200# broken turtle tank to the garage, and as expected, it wreaked havoc on my back. I ended up sleeping for about four hours later in the afternoon. Throughout it all, I kept waking up to the feel of a cat jumping on my bed. My old cat, Sigfried. He had the mass to make that small disturbance. Daisy did not. The only time I felt her on the bed was when she started to lick my forehead. I was exhausted, yet I think in control of my capacities. It felt so real, I forced myself awake each time. What if it is a cat? Like, the boys found the one howling outside the window from this morning and brought him inside? What if it isn’t a cat, and I left the back door open, and someone’s on my bed?

I set out the bathroom floor mats when I got up. The fuzzy thick ones that feel so good on your feet, and it was not a good thing. I stared at them, turned away.

I made my bed, and after some thought, threw my pillow in the center of the bed, as she’s no longer taking up the right side. And that does not feel like a good thing. I stared, and turned away.

My clean house. No accidents to clean up after. And it does not feel like a good thing.

Yesterday was rough. All I felt was loss, and flipping through my photo albums, my sense of loss was amplified by the amount of pets that have come through my home and are no longer with me, and it struck me as a failure.

But today was better. My stepdaughter said that all those pets and animals and fosters remain a positive aspect of her childhood, and that helped enormously. So I thought of Daisy’s goofiness. Her strange, unique meow. How she liked to bite my ex-husband every morning way back then. How I found her, sitting outside her former person’s house, patiently waiting for someone to claim her again. How she always liked the warmest part of the house (on top of the lizards’ cage in our Colorado house, under the covers with my son at my mom’s house, or on the heat vents at our current house), how she still zipped around the house in a fit of play until last year. How she detested me every time I brought home a new litter of kittens. But then how instantaneously she forgave me when they went away again. How she has slept by my head for most of our 16 years together. How she use to bite me if my hand came too close during the night. Brat. Her former name was Sassy, and that she was.

She was a good thing.

Brutal

It stormed the other night. Mini hurricane near the Illiana border (which is not a hurricane area, being in the midwest and not really that close to Lake Michigan). It was terrifying driving through it. But I got home, took several deep breaths in the garage, sincerely thankful to be alive and home, and went inside. Suni didn’t come out to greet me and I panicked. Found her set up in my son’s room. He said she’d been cowering in the corner of his room from the storm. Of course I had removed her thunder shirt a couple days before as the wound on her side finally- after a month- healed up. It helps a lot with storms.

But she wouldn’t eat dinner. Normally this is normal for her, but all her pain medication is in the chunks of canned food, so I sat down and fed her from my hands.

It brought up a powerful de ja vu, where I bent my head to hers and asked if she remembered, that we’d done this before? And it was so hard to not break. So I picked up her dry food and continued to hand feed her, like I’d done long ago, and she wagged her tail and ate what I offered, like she’d done back then as well.

She was four months old when I brought her home from work. She’d finally gotten over a horrible case of parvo. I thought for sure we would lose her. She also succumbed to mange really bad and had lost all her hair and a couple layers of skin. She looked like a little piglet! After I brought her home, she broke out in ringworm. We all got it- myself, the boys, the other dogs.

I hate ringworm.

But I owned my house, had children and stepchildren and other dogs to properly socialize her and prove that pits were good dogs, and mostly, I lived outside Denver, which had passed a pit bull ban a couple weeks earlier. I wasn’t going to keep her. I already had two dogs, I did not want a puppy, and terriers are not my preferred breed.

Four months old, and she was smart! She knew how to get to me- through my three year old son whom she attached herself to (he’s still, at 14, her favorite person), and my shepherd, who was my second in command and absolute top dog in the house. She far outranked the husband, too.

Even so, I couldn’t handle three dogs. Suni got better, and my coworkers introduced me to the adult daughter of a long-time client who was interested in adopting her. It sounded solid, they vouched for her, Suni seemed ok with her, and I couldn’t find a reason to say no.

At the end of that week, the woman called me on my cell phone to tell me that something was wrong with Suni. Her boyfriend had poisoned her. I told her to meet me at the clinic and dropped all my shopping and ran. I brought the woman back into surgery with me where I triaged Suni and put in a catheter while waiting for my boss to arrive. The more the woman talked, the more I started to listen. She kept going on and on about this crazy ex-boyfriend, and I yelled at her. I’d very clearly stated that Suni was not a guard dog at our initial meet. She then went into other very concerning things regarding her grandchildren, and then repeated how scared she was to return home, sure this boyfriend would be waiting for her. By then, I needed her gone. I convinced her to go to the police and they’d keep her safe.

I brought Suni home and had her set up in my kitchen on IVs. We weren’t sure what she was given, though the woman had mentioned vicodin a couple times. Later that night, a detective called me on my cell. Small world, we knew each other, as he and his wife had brought in an orphaned kitten a few months prior that I had bottle fed and adopted out. But he told me that the department was pretty knowledgeable about this woman as there’d been issues in the past, and that she was the one to poison Suni.

Suni was terrified of her food bowls for a week and wouldn’t go near them. What the hell did that woman do? I don’t know. But I sat on the floor and fed her by hand for that whole week. After that phone call, the first time I fed her, I’d looked at her and promised ‘That’s it, you’re mine. You aren’t going anywhere again.’

She has been such a good dog. Suni, (also-spelled-as ‘sunny’, but I rarely do things normal) because that’s always been her demeanor, from a two-month old pupy who spent over a month in my clinic fighting to live, while we did everything in our power to keep her from her original owner (in which we obviously succeeded- though not for her three siblings or the other dogs he brought in later) to now. Life is good, even when it hasn’t been. She can’t use her leg now, but she’s still running and she’s still wagging her tail and rushing to greet me when I come home. Twelve years later, and she’s the only dog I have left. And we’re heading back to how we started.