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This is Mika

Over the years I’ve had this blog and sporadically posted, I’ve written about Zoey and about Mika.

The Captain and my husband Jack

Zoey passed away 3 years ago and we still miss her. One day, she went outside with my husband, (her best friend in the whole universe) and laid down and didn’t get up. We carried her back into the house carefully, certain that she had a spinal issue.

She didn’t.

She had a tumor on her spleen that had ruptured. Even with the extreme surgery, we lost her.

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Jack and Zoey

We waited a year before we let another dog into our hearts. A year because that’s how long it took, not because it’s a magical amount of time and then suddenly…POOF! …The grief is gone.

No. It isn’t.

I thought we’d foster some K-9 friends and get our puppy fix that way, but in September of the following year, after returning from a wonderful Irish vacation, I started looking for a pup to adopt as our very own.

TA DA!  This was Mika two years ago.

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And this is what she looks like now.

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I love this dog. There’s no other way to say it but outright. I love that she’s always happy; that she loves me unconditionally; that she just wants to be with us all the time no matter what we’re doing; that she wants us to be happy. All the reasons that people love their dogs…because the dog isn’t the high-maintenance being…WE ARE!

Okay, I can see why that might offend you. I’ll speak for myself…I AM!

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She’s going to be 2 years old a week from today. TWO! I’d love to say it went quickly, but in those two years, we’ve amassed a number of experiences I’d rather not live through again:

  • We got asked to leave puppy class. And when I say ‘we’ I mean that I was asked to take Mika to a different class! Or no class, as it turned out in the end. This was because she reacted excitedly to the other dogs. Hell, she began reacting as we hit the parking lot! She knew who was in there…her BFF, the Golden Retriever who always wagged her direction when we entered.

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  • We moved on to private training at home, which she loved even more because that trainer, Charmagne Shremshock, brought really fabulous treats and even better toys!
  • With our newfound confidence, we joined an Agility Training Class. IMG_4478
  • We quit an Agility Training Class after Mika decided she HAD to play with the new Golden Retriever who looked an awful lot like the first Golden Retriever who always wagged her direction when we entered class. Can you blame her? Neither can I…except that she faked me out. She stood at my side, so serene, so calm, so obedient (thank you, Charmagne), until I relaxed my death grip on her leash. And then she lunged! I fell backward and Mika kept going toward her prize…the Golden standing so innocently beside the Cat Walk. She pulled me across the gymnasium floor on my back! We weren’t asked to quit that class…but I quit.

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(Sure she looks innocent NOW!)

  • She nipped our ankles every time we walked across our living room.
  • She chewed everything she could sink her teeth into and some things that she couldn’t sink her teeth into.IMG_3136
  • She unrolled rolls of toilet paper.
  • She emptied waste baskets.

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  • She thought kitchen countertops were just another level of ‘floor’ and therefore NOT off limits.
  • She learned how to open interior doors.
  • She learned how to howl…yes, HOWL, and not at the moon. The moon has nothing to do with Mika’s howling.
  • She decided going for a walk meant it was time to audition for lead dog on a sled team.

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And then, about a month ago, she decided she’d had enough of this puppy stuff…on her own, though I wonder if my twitching eyes and nervous ticks had anything to do with her decision. At any rate, she’s not perfect. She’s not totally mature or a master at K-9 Etiquette, especially when she just meets you and has to…apparently is driven to…stick her nose up your butt.

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But she’s my lovable, cuddle-able, 100% charming mutt and I love her!

Do you have a dog? Show us pictures already!

 

 

 

 

 

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Avoid the Fear

Avoid fear—that’s what people like Pat Robertson are trying to do when they make pronouncements about natural disasters being linked to sin.  The logic circle is that since he hasn’t sinned, nothing bad will ever happen to him.  Neat little circle.  Too bad it doesn’t work.  

Tragedy doesn’t work on a direct cause-effect mechanism in every case.  We feel so much safer when we can make connections between someone’s choice and their tragedy, but all illness, sudden death and natural disasters are not easily explained by a pattern of behaviors.  

We try to make sense of everything in our world and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s human in fact.   But once we make judgments about other people, we’re getting into dangerous territory.  Once we try to assuage our anxiety by indicting someone else…or whole groups of someone elses, we are wading into the same stream that carried the massacred bodies of Native Americans, Jews, Catholics, and Tutsi’s.  

Let’s just say that some things happen and we don’t know why.  Oh, but then, they could happen to us, right?  And that scares us to death.  Well, it scares me anyway.  Maybe there’s no one else out there who feels anxious about earthquakes, violence, sudden death, losing a loved one.   We try to avoid feeling scared by setting ourselves apart…on some island where the guys in the white hats always win and the guys in the black hats have no redeeming qualities.  We’re white hats, of course.  

Here’s the problem with avoiding fear…it chases you through your life and bites you in the ass like my mother-in-law’s pomeranian used to chase everyone across the kitchen.   Got that picture firmly in your mind?  Yes, I said Pomeranian…not Rottweiler, German Shepherd or Pit Bull.  Just like fear, when we stop to really examine it, it isn’t as big and scary as the noise it’s making.  

We blamed my mother-in-law—she didn’t train him well and coddled him too much, but guess what?  Blaming her didn’t do a thing to stop the dog from biting people.  We got angry at the dog, but that only escalated his aggression.  We made judgments about him being bad and evil and incorrigible, but that did nothing to calm him down.  The only thing that gave anyone any peace in that kitchen was to plant their feet, look Jerry directly in the eye and tell him to STOP!  Once we clearly communicated our expectations, Jerry calmed down.

 And that’s the only thing that works on fear too.

I’ve been scared about so many things in my life, some of them real and some imagined.  I used to be so scared about everything that I had panic attacks and to show you how crafty fear can be, I then became afraid of the panic attacks!  The only thing that pulled me out of it was to stop trying to run from it.  I had to face it; admit my fear, embrace it, look it in the face and tell it to stop.  It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick; it never is easy or quick to change a habit of the mind or of the heart, but it’s necessary.   It’s a process and a constant choice.  It’s a commitment I have to make to myself every time I feel afraid.   I’d love to tell you that I’ve become  brave and fearless since then, but it isn’t true.   If we were comparing me to the Winnie-the-Pooh characters, I’d be Piglet.  You know, the one who follows Pooh, but does so with trepidation and a lot of anxiety?    Still, I’ve learned to manage it and I couldn’t manage it before I named it, embraced it as part of me and stared it down.  Here’s a secret:  fear can’t live under scrutiny.  Go ahead, try it.

 Ask your fear some questions:  Are you real or am I imagining you?  Are you a big, fierce dog likely to destroy me or a pomeranian named Jerry?   Am I wasting energy and precious moments of my life feeling fearful about things that are beyond my control?  How fast would you disappear if I became the Alpha Dog?  

I don’t want to run across the kitchen anymore, sliding into the nearest chair to protect myself from the razor sharp teeth of a little fur ball with no manners.  Jerry needed to learn the difference between a real and imagined threat.   Becoming alpha-dog did that for him just like becoming alpha dog does that to fear.  

Answer those questions; face the fear no matter who’s peddling it; become an alpha dog and stop running across your kitchen.    

Don’t give fear the power to write your life.