Thursday, January 2, 2014

I'm a great daddy. I'm a terrible daddy.

I'm a great daddy. I'm a terrible daddy. I guess the truth is really a matter of perspective. If you ask our dogs, Annie, Molly, and Sammi, I'm the most wonderful, fun, generous, loving daddy a girl could have. If you ask my vet, I'm too generous, too undisciplined, and I spoil my girls. On that, we agree. 
A bag like this is more powerful than a magnet for my dogs.
A bag like this is more powerful than a magnet for my dogs. 

It's hard for me to say "no" to them. We don't have kids, and so, they are our kids. I want them to be happy. I want them to be happy, because, I didn't have much as a kid growing up. I wasn't spoiled. I want them to be happy, because, every time I see a story about an abused animal, it tears me up, and I want to beat some human for being so cruel to a defenseless animal. Maybe I'm trying to compensate for the inhumane treatment that some animals go through, in my own way. So, my girls are spoiled. You can tell just by the names we gave our dogs. The three that my wife and I had together that are now gone, and the three that currently allow us to live with them, all have had elegant, rich-girl names: Lexi's formal name was Alexandra. Cleo's formal name was Cleopatra. Maggie was Maggie May. The current girls include Sammi (Samantha Jo), Molly (Molly Mia), and Annie (Annabelle Joy). 

But here's how you really know that our little girls are spoiled beyond belief: every time they hear a package crinkling, being ripped open, like a bag of Cheetos, they come running. I had a granola bar in my hands, just minutes ago, and I realized I'd wake them up if I opened it - so I took it into another room, and opened it surreptitiously, like I was a spy or something. That's what I've been reduced to, eating and hiding, relying on subterfuge, so I could eat the whole thing myself. I love my dogs more than anyone can believe, but I think my vet is right. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Personalities and Idiosyncracies

Very funny. My own girls have their little idiosyncracies too. One likes to chew on wires, like speaker cables. Our twin labs like to walk around with our shoes and socks in their mouths. They don't chew them up, thankfully. I think all of these behaviors are just a way of getting more of our attention. I don't know who's dog this is in the picture, but it reminded me of one of my favorite things about our furry family members: Dogs are people too! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tracy and me with Annie (the white one), Sammi (the black one), and Molly Mia. 
We definitely love our dogs. So much so, that we call pictures we take of our dogs and us, "family pictures". We had a great family picture taken of Tracy and I back in 2008 when we had Lexi, Cleo, and Maggie. Of course, all three of those girls have since passed on, and now we have Samantha Jo, Molly Mia, and Annabelle Joy (Annie). Since Tracy's parents were here for Thanksgiving, we had them snap some pictures in our back yard. It was a little too sunny, as you can see, but at least we finally have a picture of what I call the "new tres amigas". 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Christmas is Coming; Save a Life

Whenever I see the big sad eyes on the SPCA's TV ads, it gets me. So, I do donate. I'd like to donate more than I do, but I do donate monthly. I don't think we really miss it. The other thing that I'm thinking right now is that it now late October; and the holidays will be here before we know it. When I think of what I'm thankful for around Thanksgiving, I of course think of my wife, Tracy. But I immediately also think of my dogs, past (Lexi, Cleo, Maggie), and present (Molly Mia, Sammi Jo, and Annie Joy). They all  make me happy, and I love being their "daddy". We feed them, protect them,  play with them. They in turn love us,and they show it every day, no matter what.

So, when I see these ads on TV, it tears me up, and especially so on Thanksgiving and Christmas. No family, no child, no person, should be without a loving dog or two. Or cat, if that's how you roll. I hate thinking about how so many of them will be euthenized today, but it should never happen  during the holidays. But it does. So, donate to the SPCA or to your local shelters. Buy them some meals, some blankets, some toys. Pre-pay for someone else's adoption. Make a difference in a furry little life; you'll be rewarded many times over. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rhapsody on a Rhodesian Ridgeback – 9/18/13

Well, when I first started this blog, I was inspired by the movie "Marley & Me", and I thought it would only be my own posts. But today I received the following from a dear friend, Stacy (who I haven't seen in FAR too long). I really loved reading this, but, it reminds me of the same question I keep asking myself: "Why can't dogs live as long as humans?". It's not fair. 

Here is Stacy's post:  

Ranger, my mom’s Rhodesian Ridgeback, passed away last night of thyroid and lung cancer. He had 8 and a half wonderful years with my mom and stepdad. In fact, if I were ever to be reincarnated, I would want to come back as a dog or cat rescued by my mom and stepdad. I know Ranger’s loss is keenly felt by both of them, not only because he was extraordinarily sweet, but because his life spanned the time of when my mom and stepdad started THEIR relationship (at their 35th high school reunion, but that’s another story). Every dog and cat has their own personality and their own story worth remembering and telling. This one is Ranger’s from my perspective. I know my mom and stepdad could contribute many chapters of their own.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, they were developed in South Africa to hunt lions. They are extremely muscular with short hair and a distinguishable ridge of hair that runs across the back (and gets spiky when agitated). Obviously, they were bred for a warm climate. 

Ranger worshipped the sun and loathed the cold. In the summer, he would bask in beams until the sun went down.

In the winter, Mom put a horse blanket on him, but that wasn’t enough. He would burrow under the covers in his dog bed. When it was time to get up in the morning, Mom would have to drag him out like a sullen teen refusing to go to school. He would actually stick his head in the fireplace.
As with all of my mom’s furry family members, Ranger was a rescue. He was also HUGE, even at a year old.  From day one, he was a gentle giant. He fit in with the other dogs immediately. This was the original trio – Ranger, Guinness (the black collie-chow mix and only one left of these 3), and Scout (the collie-retriever mix, who also sadly passed away within the past year and has her own amazing story).

He even let the cats climb all over him. This picture shows one of my mom’s cats, Teddy, riding Ranger. I can haz giddyup? Teddy, after a long and full life, recently passed away, too. 

Ranger was such a pushover that he allowed another of my mom’s cats (a 10th of his size), Charlie Weasley, to take over his bed. All Ranger would ever do is put on a hang-dog look and maybe whine a little. Charlie is about 16+ years old and still hanging in there.
As much as Ranger was a good pack dog and kind, IF the family’s safety was in jeopardy, he would howl like a hound of Hades and that famed ridge would pop up into play. Like when THIS stranger came to visit and didn’t stay for long.
But most of the time, he just wanted to be loved (is that so wrong?). He used his size to get attention. He would simply lean on you until gradually your legs buckled out from underneath you. I even remember one time when he tried to climb in my lap. He started with a massive paw and then eventually hoisted his bulk into my lap. I laughed until I lost circulation in my quads and had to let him down gently.

On his last day when it was clear that he was no longer himself and couldn’t move, Guinness and my mom’s 2 other new rescue dogs (Molly and Abby) formed a circle around him. When I got the news last night and cried in the fetal position on the living room rug, MY 2 cats ran to my side immediately. They all knew. Animals always know.

He spent his days with his 2-legged and 4-legged family loved, warm, fed, and enjoying all of the pleasures of the outdoors. His life was taken too soon, but the quality of what he had and what he gave was significant and memorable.  Give your furry family members some extra love today and always.

- Stacy Crickmer

Friday, September 13, 2013

Test Blog Posting

It seems a little weird to me that I can post to my blog just by sending an email. So, I'll test it. Can't wait to see how this looks. Even if it works, I think I would rather be logged into my blog. I like to be able to edit while in it. 

The Month After Lexi Died

It’s been a damned difficult month. Despite being busy with work, it’s been hard to not think about Lexi, my little girl. Although I’ve been trying to prepare myself mentally for this inevitability for a few years now, I’m still a wreck. I miss her so much. Sometimes when I feed the girls, I still look for Lexi’s bowl. Sometimes when I’m driving, I look down to the passenger side floor, where Lexi always wanted to ride, and look for her.

As I write this, with tears welling up in my eyes, Molly has jumped up on the couch next to me. She’s looking at me, and giving me the gentlest little kisses, and it feels like she’s reading my mind, telling me that it’ll be OK. I have often wondered about how dogs process death; what they think about it, how they feel. I wonder if Molly Mia, Sammi Jo, and Annabelle Joy miss Lexi? They were there, at the vet, in the same room, when Lexi took her last breath. They witnessed it all, and they handled it much better than I did. Do they remember Lexi? Do they remember Cleo?

When Cleo died, I had no doubts whatsoever that Lexi mourned her, and missed her for the last three years of her life. Lexi’s own health and energy declined noticeably starting when Cleo died. I think Cleo and Lexi both missed Maggie when she died too, but I don’t detect the same sadness from Molly, Sammi, and Annie now that Lexi is gone. I only sense that Molly knows how sad I am, as she lies on the couch next to me now, comforting me.

Spending 1/3 of my life with Lexi, and going through so much together, I know I’ll never forget her, my little princess. But an idea came to me, as I was thinking about her, an idea from the original “Highlander” movie. In it, Highlander’s wife asked him to light a candle for her each year on her birthday, to remember her. That is what Tracy and I will do for Lexi, as well as the other girls, Maggie and Cleo, and we’ll do it on Christmas also. I’ll never forget the love, friendship, and fun that we received from these three wonderful dogs. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dogs Are Great For Kids

First, let me say that I think the world would be a much better place if all kids had at least one dog. The lessons they help teach children are invaluable, and the other benefits are great too. Companionship, unequivocal love, obedience (well, sometimes) are all great benefits. Dogs don't bully kids - instead, they invariably want to play and bring a smile to a child's face. Dogs can really help kids learn social skills too, responsibility being the one that always seems to come to mind. I just believe that kids who grow up with dogs are better-adjusted. They love better, and probably make better parents. I think they have a healthier respect for life in general. Oddly, there are people in the world who don’t like dogs. I simply do not trust these people, never will, and make no apologies for that. Dogs aren’t something to be feared – even the meanest dog in the world is purely a reflection of it’s owner’s treatment. So, I don’t buy into the idea that pit bulls are inherently dangerous or vicious. I’ve seen wonderfully sweet pit bulls and rottweilers – and they’re usually that way because they’re treated by their owners with respect and love, and have a healthy “master / dog” relationship. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Man's Best Friend

Is a dog really a man’s best friend? I have to give an unequivocal thumbs-up to that question. What do I love the most? How about being greeted at the door when coming home after a long day at work by a bunch of little critters who simply don’t care about your mood – they have love to give! Nothing matches the pure joy that a dog expresses when his (or her) master comes through the door.  Here is one of Tracy's favorite pictures of her with Maggie; Maggie was a great friend to both Tracy and myself, not to mention her sisters Lexi and Cleo. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Little Jeep Buddies

I've had two dogs in my life that loved riding in my Jeep: Maggie and Cleo. There is something really awesome about simple trips with your top down and your dog in the seat next to you, her face feeling the breeze, sniffing the wind. Unfortunately for me, Maggie died in 2008, Cleo died in 2010, and my Jeep died in 2011. I suspect that our little white one, Annie Joy, would probably like riding in a Jeep, so maybe soon I'll get another one. I sure miss mine. I miss the fun I had with my two little Jeep co-pilots. (Top pic: Maggie; Bottom: Cleo.) 

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