Tag Archives: best friends

My Best Friend: Psychic Bonds

When you can’t rely on language to have a connection, a psychic bond is the answer.  It is a heart and head connection requiring no audible noise.  Claddagh in the early days was a bit of an escape artist, but she always seemed to have a reason to go where ever it was that she would end up.

In 2008 in the hours leading up to the 48 Hour Film Festival debut, Claddagh disappeared out of my friends yard.   His dog stayed within the fence, and Claddagh was no where to be found.  Knowing that I had a bunch of shit to do in a short period of time, looking for my dog was last on the list.  As I washed up in the shower, in my mind I said “Claddagh, if you don’t get back here in the next five minutes, don’t bother coming home.  You are stressing me out right now.”

A few seconds later my friend hollered through the bathroom door that he found her.  After finishing up, I came out and asked him where she had been and he says “You’re never going to believe it… She was just over at this guys house down the block.  He said that he saw her at the fence and she took one look at him, jumped the fence and ran over to him and just started loving on him.  He told me that he had just lost his mother and his dog in the last 24 hours, and it was like she came over to console him.  He volunteered to watch her while we go to the film festival.”

WOW!  I was floored.  My dog had sensed this man’s deep despair, and she broke the rules in order to go give him some much needed affection.  I couldn’t be mad anymore.  I was proud of her, and I hoped that she looked both ways before crossing the street.  They neighbor watched her for a few hours without incident, and I was able to enjoy the film festival without stressing about my dog.

Claddagh had two run in’s with getting put into Doggy Jail.  The first time was probably around 2010.  Some friends invited me to go to Breitenbush hot springs with them; but Breintenbush is a dog free zone.   I asked another friend to watch Claddagh for the day, as we would be leaving early morning and wouldn’t be back until later in the evening.

It ended up that the person who was going to watch her, flaked out; and I wasn’t sure what we could do with her.  I wasn’t familiar with the roommate that would be home, and I knew that their backyard fence was low enough for Claddagh to escape.   I told the group, “I can’t go.”  And they assured me that Claddagh would be fine.  Despite having a feeling of uncertainty, I was cajoled into going on the trip.

We got up to Breitenbush and spent several hours hanging out in the hot pools.  Sometime around 3 pm, two of us decided to take a hike in the lush forest surrounding the area.  While hiking I made the observation out loud, that it seemed wrong of us to be hiking in such a beautiful place without our dogs.  Right around that time I felt a panic set in, and I just wanted to get home.

I think it was probably 10:30 or so in the evening when we returned to Corvallis.  Sure enough when we get to my friends house, Claddagh is nowhere to be found.  Two friends head out on foot, and I drive around hoping she is still in the neighborhood.   No luck.   The roommate that was home said he let her out around 3pm when he left for work.  So she was left unattended in a backyard with a fence low enough to scale.

Here is where things lay over into the psychic world.  These friends lived very close to the only park in Corvallis where it is a dog free zone.  Claddagh had jumped the fence and went straight over to that park and was picked up by animal control and taken to the shelter.  The following day was a holiday and the shelter was closed, I couldn’t be with out her for another night so I knocked on the employee door because I knew there must be someone there to feed them.

I could hear Claddagh barking from outside the building as I walked around looking for the employee entrance.  A kindly little old lady answered the door, and I told her that I could hear my dog crying and that I really wanted to get her back today.   The lady led me back, and she could tell that my dog was who I said she was.   She told me “You are a good doggy parent, I’m just going to let you take her home today.”   She waived the fee, and sent Claddagh home.

I told Claddagh “if it is a no dog zone, you might want to avoid hanging out near there.”   She seemed a bit shaken with her time in lock up.

A few months later Claddagh would escape again, but differently.  I had plans for us to go to the Corvallis farmers market, and before we got down there I stopped into a convenience store, in the time it took me to purchase a cold coffee and a pack of cigarettes, she had jumped out of the back window.  Now, mybad, because I didn’t notice she wasn’t back there until I got to the farmers market… and low and behold, an empty back seat.

I got back into the car, and drove back to Philomath where the C-Store is.  I start walking the blocks, calling for Claddagh.  I see some kids on skateboards and I ask if they have seen a friendly, red and black dog wandering around.   They say ‘yes’ and I ask them to show me which direction she went.  They lead me toward a boarding house where we had a friend who was living there, so I definitely felt like they had seen my dog.

Now, Philomath is about eleven miles from the farm we were living at in Wren.  I spent an hour looking for Claddagh and then I had to get on with my day, so again, silently in my head I called out to her and said ” I don’t know where you are or what you are doing, but you better not be anywhere near the highway.  I have shit I have to do today, you are stressing me out.”

It was a long day, and I by the time I got home, I had been gone for about twelve hours.

As I pulled into the driveway, there was Claddagh, cowering, but happy to see me.  After talking to her I got the sense that she followed the rail road tracks home.  She had walked that entire way back to the farm.  Needless to say, I was quite impressed with her fortitude and sense of direction.  I am sure she followed the smell of the sheep all the way home.

Last month would signify Claddagh’s last foray into Doggy Jail.  So far as I can tell, she was out in the front yard, unattended, which is very unusual.  She had her collar off, which was normal.  And someone thought she was lost so they took her in for the night.  When I came out and realized she was gone, I went into full panic mode.   It was pretty late at night so I walked the streets with a flash light calling her name.   No luck, so I laid a sleeping bag under the tree in the front yard, and slept there until the sun came up, hoping she would smell me and wander back home.

No such luck. The shelter opened at 11am,  and though it was my intention to be there before they opened, I got lost while trying to find the building.  I arrived at about a quarter after 11, to find my dad waiting in line to see if she had been dropped off.  Sure enough, someone had dropped her off, right at a 11.  If I would have been there early I could have saved myself the $55.00 they charged me for keeping her all of 24 minutes.  She got a couple of shots out of it.

This time when I went back to identify her, she looked on top of the world.  She had gone on her own adventure and she was high on it. I couldn’t be mad at her, it just stirred the part of me that didn’t know what I was going to do when she was actually gone for good.

See, even that event last month seems like a psychic precursor to what was going to follow on the night of Aug. 25, 2018.   I was given all these tests over the years to prepare me for the inevitability of losing her.   All I can do is be grateful that she was so gentle with these lessons and tests.

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My Best Friend: You Definitely Have My Attention

You know how your best friend can usually pull you out of a funk?  They know a master way to get you to chuckle, or look at things differently, and the world will shift a little bit.

I am certain Claddagh understood how I would get fixated on things that would engage my attention to strong levels. And depending on where I was fixated, my mood would be effected to some degree.  As an empath I tend to be drawn to topics that are deeply rooted in the suffering of humanity.  I have a strong desire to uncover that which plagues humanity while at the same time trying to heal the Universal Feeling of Broken that is a template we live in.

When I lived in the mountains, I didn’t spend as much time or attention on those things the way I do now in large town. I didn’t have consistent internet and I could already just see pain existing around me to one degree or another, so it was an unspoken understanding that having a dog in nature helps all wounds.  I mean obviously it doesn’t make all of the pain go away, but it helps in certain terms of longevity and understanding.

I seriously started writing about my experiences in life at the age of twelve.  I’ve averaged 2.5 journals of various lengths per year for about twenty-six years.  I have no idea how many things I have published on this blog page alone, and this series, in this moment has my full attention. So much so, that I am pulling out the paper journals from the time Claddagh was in my life, because I am so interested in her chronology because it is inevitably tell me more about myself and how I will need to precede further.

My writing has always spoken my own code, to myself.  It is always in retrospect that I can tell if I listened or not.

What I can tell already, I’ve already mentioned a bit.  This feeling of intangible loss versus tangible loss and a feeling of loneliness or “godforsaken.”

I’ve been writing about death and loneliness my whole life, but it was sort of intangible.  I didn’t really know what I was missing, it was then easier to disconnect from the feeling of loss, by becoming callus.  When I lost my mom I was four years old.  What did I know?  I had not the experience yet to comprehend the impact of imagination when it came to comparing my experience in life to those who had yet to experience such an impacting circumstance.

Thirty-four years ago I didn’t have the ability to fully encompass what that initial loss would mean to my future relationships and my perceptions of death and loss of relationships to those still living.

I’ve written many things down about my life and perception.  In my opinion it is a treasure trove but obviously I am biased.  I haven’t written everyday, but I have written in cycles, and when I find myself in that cycle I tend to write a lot.   Perhaps it is because I feel both significant and insignificant in the world all at the same time, and the desire to record this life, outweighs the amount of words or paper I consume and collect in order to prove or assert my existence in the world.

I never thought I would have kids, and Claddagh was my “baby.”  Which leads me to the thought that if you feel lonely, the permanent solution does not exist in having a baby.  Which to some degree is exactly what I tried to do by acquiring a dog.  I’m not saying it was a bad decision, it was (what I am realizing in this moment) a temporary fix to a bigger issue that will still call for some resolution. I suspect that it’s going to take some uncomfortable work to get there. I am literally being forced to see the world with new eyes and I need some sunglasses because I am being blinded by the light.

My love for Claddagh was not only infinite but it was infant.  It was an infant kind of love that no words can express because it is too pure for complicated expressions.   The world could be expressed in a look or a gesture.  Looking at pictures of Claddagh, reflects what I must look like most of the time; deep in some thought far from joyful.  I never stopped searching for the origin of the intangible pain beyond my mother.

It too, comes in cycles.  All these cycles compress and unfold as time moves in the trajectory that we call forward future while simultaneously existing in a past that is added to by the awareness of its existence.

What is the ultimate lesson of Dog God?  “Love yourself as I love you. ”

How can we conceptualize this in reality through the filters of guilt, grief, and distraction?  New Age people talk about it all of the time but I don’t think many of them really get what that means because they live in a “do what thou wilt” kind of belief system.  I don’t think that I will be able to encapsulate it here because the seed of it’s awareness is just starting to sprout in my consciousness due to the new light shining on it, the conditions have just started to become ripe for its awakening.

The awareness happens with my focus while raking through old weeds.  If you read the journals in reverse you see the story unfolding from the beginning.  Everything we needed to know was there all along.  It is the knot in the rope during tug of war.

If we pay attention close enough, we realize we are never alone.  There are things begging our attention all of the time.  As I was writing this, I noticed at timed intervals that crab apples were hitting the hood of my car.  The branch above the garage door was shaking, and another group of leaves and berries would crash down, causing me to pause my typing.

Finally, I got up to see who wanted my attention.  A squirrel… of course.  The squirrels and Claddagh had their own daily camaraderie.  They would banter back and forth, and Claddagh would chase them up trees and power lines. They definitely had a relationship of sorts that never missed a day.

I felt the squirrel was saying “Hey, I notice your buddy is missing.”  And I spoke out loud and told the squirrel what was up, but he could come around as much as he wants and eat all the crab apples his little heart pleases.   See, sometimes even the nameless fur balls in your yard, can make it into the amazing story of life.

In the last day, I’ve noticed the bunnies are coming closer to the house as they realize their greatest terrestrial threat has been absent.  I noticed there were many more birds in the yard when I came to open the door.  Nature is trying to speak to me and right now it’s telling me that I should probably take old Brody for a walk.

My Best Friend: Assimilating One Another

In any relationship there is compromise.  Especially if you are living together.  I only had a handful of info when it came to Claddagh/IMA/Pasha’s past.   She was found and surrendered on a Reservation.  She may or may not be spayed.  She had BB’s or some sort of shrapnel scattered on various parts of her body.  She was picked up by a person who already had four dogs, and kept Claddagh separate because the situation was “iffy.”

I always got the feeling she was raped by another dog.  She was very concerned about other canines getting in that area and sniffing around.  She seemed somewhat evolved when it came to assessing another dogs intentions.    I use to joke that she was a lesbian who only liked fixed males and females, because they were less of a threat.

I don’t actually know, but this is the feeling I got from watching her behavior.   She wasn’t a “Dog’s Dog.”   She was  a PuppyCat that wanted to be Human.  Okay, I know we anthropomorphize animals and I have a vivid imagination, but something told me she was no run of the mill dog when it came to social graces.

She didn’t want to fight, but she was willing to defend herself.   Mostly she wanted to play but found it hard to find other dogs who know the rules.  The dogs who knew the rules were dogs of friends.   We, as a group, had subconsciously created a frame work for a dog community.  The people who had dogs, were much like me.   Safety first!  Good Friendly Play!

I haven’t heard Claddagh’s voice in over twenty four hours.  I am restraining myself from running outside to call her in.  I keep making attentive notices that the scratching I hear on the concrete, is not her toe nails. My neighborhood is significantly more quiet without the dog barking battles over the fence.  Brody gives it a go and then gives up after a bit.  I guess it isn’t as fun without a friend.  Now it’s just one tiny dog on one side of the fence, and a bigger, louder dog on the other.  Who knows… maybe Brody is telling the neighborhood dogs that there will be one less voice in the mix of calls that saturate the air at any time of day.  One less shit pile to smell.

I think Claddagh had a prerogative of fun. I never felt like I could rely on her to protect me. I never wanted to put her in situations that might lead to harm.  I would avoid situations like that at all costs, especially after the dognapping incident.

She would be with me four years before she could look me straight in the eyes.  It would be just as long before she learned or discovered how to bark.

My friend Cameron and I were on a camp out.  Claddagh and I had camped together many times before this. She would follow along quietly when I played “ninja in the forest.”  Taking her collar off so that the jingle of her tags wouldn’t distract other animals.  We would sneak up on loud camp sites and check them out from the perimeter and then hike back to our camp.  We would try and trail deer.  I was secretly training her for the apocalypse.

Anyway Claddagh, Cameron and I go on a camp out.  And into the darkness of night we sit around the fire, and Claddagh stirs.  She walks out about ten feet from the fire, her ears peaked and moving around like satellite dishes. She makes her first attempt at barking, her voice cracking like a teenage boy during puberty.  She seems shocked at the noise coming from her own mouth.  I hear coyotes in the distance.  Claddagh gets a hang for this new call, and she rolls with it, barking her ever loving head off.  I am amused and astounded… I thought I had a “barkless dog.”  She proved me wrong while simultaneously slipping into a whole new maturity. Still, she never manifested into a physical protector.  We were battling a spiritual thing, and her physical body obviously took the brunt of effect.

Claddagh rarely looked “happy.”  In all reality both her and I suffer from Resting Bitch Face.  It looks pensive, introspective, concerned, and perhaps a little distraught.  Upon meeting, we both knew that we came with baggage, but it didn’t matter, it was “for better or worse.”

I never felt “safer” for her being there, but I did feel a concern of care that made me utilize all of my senses in order to keep us both safe.  Intuition and psychic bond were paramount in our relationship, probably even more so than many human relationships. We bared every season in almost every condition, side by side.  I would spend my last dollars on food for her and go hungry.   She was always a good visitor, and no one ever told us that we couldn’t come back.

I think back to Kelty Krumb. I think about how he was the last dog to persuade me into  having a dog of my own.  How he eased me into dealing with animal hair in every nook and cranny of house and home.  I think he would have liked Claddagh. I think about how my heart broke when I learned he was gone, and how much that must have hurt his owner.  I think about how amazing a dog can be and how if they are amazing enough, they will convince other people to become dog owners by setting an almost unreachable height when it comes to canine perfection as assumed by humans.

Claddagh did that to people.  People who had never had a dog before, became enamored by her very quickly.  Her perfection would settle in the imagination of those who dreamed what it may be like to have a dog.  I didn’t hesitate to tell people that it was years in the making by observation and appreciation.  I told them that she was with me everyday, and that my life continued to be unconventional in order to facilitate the reality we were living.  Most times people shrugged off that part.  They thought they could just go all willy nilly to a shelter and find a gem.

That seemed to be a rare case.  My dog was with me ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.  She sat in a car 6 hours a day some days.  But, when she got out of the car we went on adventures.  Most times it was nature, other times it was urban; she became well versed in various environments, around different people.   She would sidle up next to almost anyone, but building dog relationships was harder.

She wasn’t ordinary.  She was extraordinary.

My Best Friend: Adventures In The Beginning

September 13, 2007; shortly after paying a small fee to claim her as my family, we headed back up into the mountains to Nederland, where I was excited to have her meet my dog friend Gullivan.

Being the attentive dog that he was, he heard my car riding up the steep road and ran down to meet me in the driveway for his customary treat and lovin’.  Little did he know I had a passenger that wouldn’t be going anywhere in the near future.

Claddagh was sitting in the back seat when I parked the car and opened the door.  Gullivan happily jumped up on the ledge of the door opening, looking with happy anticipation.  I said “Gullivan, I have a friend I want you to meet, I think you will love her!”  Gullivan looked at me, and then he looked at Claddagh poking her head out from the back of my seat.  He did a triple take, back and forth, and then started barking like “everything is wrong about this.”

I considered Gullivan my surrogate dog, and he knew it.  He was not impressed with my passenger and made it known for about a week with bullying tactics.  Then something shifted.

Gullivan was known to roam.  He would disappear for hours and then return home muddy and disheveled.  This specific day of shift, I had plans and when it was time to leave from my visit Gullivan and Claddagh were nowhere to be found.  Tammi and I called for them, but they were long gone.  I was starting to taste the first bits of fear that a pet owner gets when their animal disappears for the first time.  I didn’t want to panic, I wanted to trust her… but I was pretty shaken on the inside.

I think I had to go to work, so I got ready to leave, and I just trusted she would come back.  In my head, I told her that I was upset. I needed to be somewhere and I didn’t like the feeling of panic.  Low and behold, she and Gullivan walked up the driveway as I approached my car.  I didn’t know if I should be mad or happy.  My priority was to make sure I wasn’t late.

The dogs were filthy.  Claddagh looked happy, and Gullivan was walking side by side with her with no bullying behavior.   Tammi later admitted that Gullivan would put other dogs through the gauntlet to see if they could keep up.    He was actively trying to lose her in the forest.    Claddagh kept pace; made it home unscathed and earned the respect of what would turn out to be her longest dog friend.

When she came back I mused how awesome it would be if we had camera’s on our dogs to see what the heck they get up to.  This was a bit before GoPro cams were a popular thing.  I still wonder where they went and how many roads they crossed to get there.  What animal did they catch?  I am sure that was part of the initiation.

Gullivan became Claddagh’s die hard fan.  When Tammi would leave town, she would ask me to watch him.  Even after years of being states apart from each other, Claddagh and I would come back in town and things were like the good old days.   They would run and chase and try to escape the fence.   At night, we would all cuddle together in bed, even as new additions came into Gullivan’s family.

Gullivan really helped Claddagh know how to be a “family dog with an independent personality.”  He played with her and nurtured her curiosity as a wisdom keeper.  Claddagh would take the adventurous spirit that he had fostered in her into an occasional break for freedom.  Claddagh wasn’t an escape artist.  She didn’t run away often, but when she did, it seemed like she had a reason.

In 2008, Claddagh and I drove down to Denver so that I could try and find a team for the 48 hour Film Festival.  I didn’t know anyone, and I wasn’t certain anyone would want me on their team.  It was just something I felt like I needed to do and was taking one of my signature risks in so doing.  I sat at a table with a beer and it was like speed dating.  People spend about five minutes talking to you, asking questions and getting contact info.. and if they like you, you get a call or an email.

Two teams were interested in me, but I chose to work with the one closest to me in Boulder.  Often I would go to Boulder for shopping at thrift stores, and Claddagh was always in tow, so we would hit up the dog park for an hour or so during the trip.

A week or so before 48HFF, Claddagh and I were at the dog park and this guy without a dog started talking to us.  It ended up that he lived in the apartments across the street.   I told this guy about 48HFF, and he offered to watch my dog while we were filming.  I thought it was a nice gesture, and thought it would be pretty cool to have her about two miles away, versus leaving her up the mountain.  I got his contact info and we met up one more time.  He seemed nice enough. Normal enough.

The day arrived for writing,filming and producing and I dropped my dog off with this guy. We spent the greater part of the day writing.  We started filming that night and ended early morning only to get up and do it again.  Our day ended sometime after 2pm and I was ready to get my dog back.  I was invited to get her and to stay over night at the host families home, as all that was left was to edit and score the film.

I called the guy to let him know I would be on my way over to pick up Claddagh.  He asked me to stay at his place.  I told him “No. I just want my dog.”  He told me I couldn’t have my dog unless I stayed over, and I couldn’t get her right now because he wasn’t home.

I wasn’t about to let some strange dude hold my dog captive in trade for a sleep over.  I told my host family what was up, and that he wasn’t home right now, so I was going to go break my dog out of his apartment.  They asked if I wanted someone to accompany me.  I said “no.”  I didn’t want to make anyone accomplice to what I may have to do.

Barefoot, I drove the few miles to this guys apartment and as I walked along the top floor I called for Claddagh.  She immediately met me at a window to the guys bed room.  It was summer and the window was open so there was only a screen keeping us apart.  I pried the screen off the frame, walked into the room, opened the bedroom door and unlocked and walked out the front door.  I put the screen back into the frame and hoped to God that no one was calling the police on a breaking and entering.  We ran across the hot asphalt and hopped into the car.  As I drove my legs were shaking uncontrollably.

I realized these were the lengths I would go to for Claddagh.  I would break into a strangers home to save her.  I would risk going to jail (again) for my partner.  I kicked myself for trusting some random stranger at a dog park, who did not have a dog.

My host family loved Claddagh.  We drank wine that night as I recalled the affair.  It was wonderful to have a nice safe home to return to.  Even they were kind enough to let her sleep with me in the guest bed.

My Best Friend: Loneliness Within and Without

It’s kind of strange to write this one sided history of a relationship with an animal who can’t speak for themselves… but I have to do it.  The loneliness is amplified right now. No one can do anything for me… I have to just sit with this broken heart and try and make something beautiful out of it.   Honestly, I don’t know how to handle this any other way.  I’d love to go to the mountains right now, and to write on pen and paper there… but the timing isn’t quite right on that move.

Claddagh and I explored Colorado; Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming.   We drove thousands of miles, paw in hand down highways and sideways.  We hiked, climbed, snow shoed, snow boarded, boated and played in water together.  She saw beaches, mountains, forests and cities.  We were quite nomadic in the first half of our relationship.

Claddagh was lucky enough to know what mountain living, farm living and comfort were all about.

I know it’s cliche to think you have the perfect dog… but I really did.  And if a dog can get even more perfect, she did.  Even when I thought there was no way that I was good enough for her, she stuck by with love.

When I got her, I quickly realized she had separation anxiety.  I couldn’t leave her at my friends house because she took to eating shoes.  So I brought her to work with me everyday through the winter, I padded the back seat with blankets and her toy and on my breaks I would take her out for a walk and a pee. Generally my shifts were 6am to noon, and Claddagh was fine in the car.  The car became her sanctuary.  The safe space when I wasn’t around.

When the weather was warmer Claddagh would stay corralled in the cafe patio area with shade, water and friendly patrons who slipped her bacon.  I would come out for a smoke and take her for a jaunt and go back to work. She was always around.

Right now I feel lost, and honestly I felt lost before Claddagh came into my life, but she gave my life some extra purpose in care and attention.  The feeling was mutual.  I feel extra lost today.  And if I am honest with myself, this feels like a small rock falling that is about to initiate an avalanche.

Claddagh and I always had a strong psychic bond.  I could know what she was thinking and vise versa.  I’ve paid attention to the script in life, and whenever you lose a pet, it signifies the end of a chapter, which means anything can happen on the next page.  Claddagh came to me on just little past a New Moon, and she left on a Full Moon, twelve years and one month to the day of my brother’s passing.  These things are personally significant and probably tell more about the specific script I was born into.  In my opinion, nothing is happenstance, that isn’t how I live.

My friend brought me a burger.  It almost makes me sick to eat it, because I know I can’t share it with my buddy.  This observation increases the feeling of pressure on my own chest.   I look to see her, and she isn’t there.

There is a hole in my room where her bed use to be, there is a hole in my heart amplified by time and focus.  I’m writing words to try and fill the void, while avoiding the question. ” What next?”

“Have Faith!”

I do.  Everything does work out.  I didn’t have to watch her suffer.  I didn’t have to drown in debt for hopeful solutions to a problem that only (maybe) could be prolonged a little while.  Granted, none of this was ideal… but the way I see it, the way it went down is kind of a gift.

When Claddagh and I first met, I laid down some guidelines.

1.) Don’t run away or try to cross streets by yourself.  Dogs are notorious for not looking both ways, and it’s your own damn fault if you get hit by a car.  So stay with me.

2.) I am your home.  I am going to work at keeping you safe… so like I said, don’t run away and try to cross streets.

3.) Don’t eat my food unless I give it to you and stay out of garbage… being sick sucks for both of us.

4.) I love you, and I hear you, please listen to me, I want to keep you safe, we are a team.

Honestly, like any animal large or small, she tested those guidelines, and she became a better dog for it.  She found herself in some unexpected circumstances, and I had to have faith she would end up back home.   And she did end up home, every single time.  Never seriously injured, maybe a little traumatized.  By last month, she was acting like an old timer going on a joy ride when she ended up at the Shelter for a whopping twenty four minutes.  I am guessing whoever kept her for the night made her stay, worthwhile.

Claddagh was an empathic dog.  Probably all dogs are empathic, but for Claddagh it was a lifestyle.   I tend to be the same way, and so we were support systems of both ends.  I didn’t get jealous when she would share her love, and she never got mad at me for sloppily trying to work my own personal shit out.  It was a “I know who I go home with every night” kind of situation.   I’d put a human friend in the back seat of my car, if Claddagh wanted to ride shot gun.  It was kind of “ride or die for love” mentality.  I don’t regret it one bit… even the shitty parts.

Life together required adaptation, and Claddagh took all of it in stride, and in so doing, she was able to have some interesting experiences by my side.  She even went on a few adventures of her own… but that is for another chapter.

My Best Friend: Introductions Part 1- The Folks

I’ve made some unconventional decisions in my adulthood.  Getting a dog when I didn’t know where I was going to live next is probably pretty high on that list.

It’s kind of strange to talk about living by Faith, but I do, and I have.  The decision was more of a calling that I had to have faith in.  It was diving headfirst into something that I really had no first hand knowledge on.  I was fiscally pretty poor.  I was bad at making regular appointments for various check ups on myself unless urgent.  I had no savings.

My parents, I am sure, were well aware of this.  And though they say nothing about it, I am sure they have questioned why I do things the way I do.  Shortly after Claddagh came into my life, I decided to drive up to Wyoming for a visit.  I called home and told them that I would be up for the weekend, and that I met someone and fell in love.  I told them I was sure they were going to “love her” and to make sure the bed was set for two.

I’m pretty sure my parents thought I was a lesbian and that I was coming home to “come out.”  They were in for a surprise.

I left Claddagh in the car, and I approached my parent’s front door and rang the bell.  My stepmom opened the door, looked out and asked “Where is your friend?”

I said “in the car.”  My step mom couldn’t see her, so I ran down the steps and opened the car door and Claddagh bounded out and rushed up to meet Karen.  I chuckled at how shocked my folks looked.  “You got a dog?”  They inquire.  “Yeah, I got a dog, I am 27 I think I am old enough to have a dog.”

I am certain my parents did not get what they were expecting on that visit.  And Claddagh, unlike other dogs that have lived in that house, slept in bed with me.

My folks always had “outside” dogs, with the exception of Buffy.  Buffy was a mini schnauzer and couldn’t handle the wild Wyoming winters without a coat.  Dogs over the years would be invited inside for a little bit of human love, but mostly they stayed outdoors.  If I were to guess, it would be because of the hair issue.  My stepmom was mentored by Martha Steward and her house is proof.  She thinks a “dirty house” is when you leave yesterdays mail on an otherwise spotless counter top.   She is the reason I learned what a lint roller is.

My folks embraced Claddagh.  I think they saw just how much she meant to me and they wanted to support that.  Claddagh had a hard time getting along with their less socialized dogs, and spent every moment with me when I was in the house.  On Claddagh’s first Christmas, my parents gave her, her own presents.  Dog treats, and a toy.  This was her first real toy.  It was a stuffed squeaky moose.  She had it up until about two years ago.  She would decimate every other toy, but she prolonged the decimation of her first gift.

At first she chewed off the tuft of hair on the head of the moose.  Over the years she nibbled down it’s antlers.  She put a few holes in it’s legs.  She matted down it’s stuffing by gnawing on it, but she DID NOT harm the squeaker.  This moose was battered and bruised, but in exceptional condition for being nine years old.  I finally threw it away after it was left in the yard all winter through the snow.

I truly believe my parents loved Claddagh, even though they didn’t spend a lot of time with her.   If you love dogs at all, Claddagh was sure to make you feel like she was all about you. She was so playful and gentle.  She had been hurt in her earlier life and had no desire to hurt or be hurt, herself.   She was passively protective. Mostly, I think my parents saw her as the closest I would ever get to having a kid or getting married (which probably isn’t far off, but I guess anything is possible).  Every year, without fail, Claddagh would continue to get her own Christmas presents.  And every year she loved them, just never as much as that first silly moose. She took it over at least four states until it reached its ends.

 

 

 

My Best Friend: How we met

Messes, Money, Grief, God.  What does this mean for me?  What do I need to get rid of?

Every time I look at Claddagh’s water bowl, the tears reemerge.  I threw her bed away.  I tossed all her toys in the trash.  I put her leashes in a free box.  Her is hair everywheret.

I use to be so anal about having hair on my clothes.  A real lint roller bandit.  The day Claddagh and I found each other, I let that go.  I knew that there was no escaping her shed.   I didn’t even think twice about it.   It’s like a part of myself died, or that my hyper-vigilance had at least taken a new direction.  Who cares about hair on your clothes when you are madly in love?

I’ve known so many wonderful dogs over the course of my life.  We had dogs in our family from my earliest memories.  Pepper; Muffin, Maggie, Buffy, Sprocket, Lucky, and Elsie were all Family dogs belonging to my direct family that I spent most of my childhood around. Each was so unique, but none of them were really “my dog.”

I dreamed of the day I would finally find my own companion.  The desire started about the time I was twenty-five.  I had been in a three year relationship with a man who had a beautiful golden retriever named Kelty Krumb.  Kelty reminded me of Falcore from The Princess Bride.  I fell in love with that dog, but I still lint rolled all the time.   One of the hardest parts of the break up, was losing the dog in my life.

So I got serious about “Mandie-festing” the perfect dog.  I lived in dog towns, and my friends often had dogs.  Sometimes I would spend more time hanging out with the dogs than I did my friends.  This all kicked into high gear around 2006 when I was living in Nederland, CO.  A small town up the canyon from Boulder.

“A dog in every Subaru.”  I could buy a bulk brown sack full of dog treats from the grocery store for very cheap, so I was constantly packed with treats for the dogs I would see in town.  I got to know dogs by name better than some of their owners.   I paid attention to the attributes I loved about each animal.  I knew that I would know when and where and who when the time was right.

There were two predominant dogs in my life during this time.  Gullivan and Mountain Girl.  Gullivan was my friend Tammy’s companion.  Gullivan and I created a fast bond and he would always greet me at my car for a treat and some love.  We could play rough and he was just amazing.

Mountain Girl belonged to my friend Michigan Mike.  I was casually sleeping with his roommate for a few months and was able to spend time getting to know Mike and Mountain Girl.  She was the epitome of dedicated and independent.  She was a large St. Bernard, and she roamed about town without being leashed up.  She would walk down to the pub, where Mike was often found, and she would lay outside waiting for him to come take a smoke break.  And if she ever got tired of waiting outside the pub, she would saunter back home for a while to eat and drink.  I really feel like Mountain Girl was Mike’s guardian angel.  It was an emotional hit to the entire community when Mountain Girl passed away.  She was this gentle giant ambassador of the community at one time.

I wanted a dog like that.  The ultimate, to be able to sit and stay, unleashed for a period of time and to always know where home is.  I can say that Claddagh went above and beyond my expectations in the time that we had together.

2007 happens.  I had lost my brother on July 25, 2006.  I terminated a pregnancy in early 2007 after a one night stand during a blizzard and the condom broke. If I am honest with myself, I was lonely as fuck.  I couldn’t find human companionship that was equatable on both sides, meaning “we both want to be together.”  I was always like “Don’t call me your girlfriend.”  But then I’d meet someone I would be interested in pursuing and they would just want to fuck.  I ha d had enough, and I wanted someone of my own.

I had been house/cat sitting for a friend for three months while she was out of the country, and about two weeks before she came home I knew that it was time to go to the Humane Society.  I didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to live, but I knew that by my 27th birthday,  I would have a furry friend. It would take two weeks and three trips down the canyon before I’d find her.

I had heard that Boulder was a no-kill shelter with a 100% adoption rate.  This seemed worthwhile to me.  A place that I want to check out.  On my first attempt, I turned North instead of South and ended up in Longmont. I turned around again and went back up the mountain.  I tried again a few days later and made the same mistake.  Again I was in Longmont.  I am usually great at directions but I kept getting twisted around.

The second time I figure, “why not check it out?”  I find a little mutt puppy who is kind of sickly.  We walk around outside and he poops green.  I am enamored by his tininess.  I say that I am interested.  I’m all ideals of raising a little puppy.  Longmont requires a 24 hour hold, and a call of confirmation to a landlord that having a pet is allowed.

My friend doesn’t care if I get a dog, as an animal lover herself, and says to pose as her using the land line.   They call, I get approved and I can pick up the puppy the next day.

Remember I am house/ cat sitting?  My friend had five cats in a one room cabin.  The bed was in a loft, and the cats would hang out there during the day and night, when they weren’t knocking potted plants off the window sills.  These cats were missing their Momma and letting me know it.  The morning I woke up to go get the puppy, there was cat shit on my pillow, six inches from my head.  I knew immediately that even though my friend would be home soon, there was no way I could have that sickly puppy around all these passive aggressive cats.   So, I called and canceled my adoption.

The feeling I was suppose to have a dog didn’t pass.  I needed to be realistic and I needed to try again to get to the Boulder Humane Society.   A few days later I tried again, this time I turned the right way and found the place I had been looking for.

I was ushered into the kennel area with an older couple and a younger couple.   The set up was to take a laminated sheet of the dog you were interested in, up to the counter and they would set up a meeting.   The people are looking at the sheets on one side of the cage, and I am at the other side of the cages without the paper.  Just checking them each out, looking for a familiar face.

The elder couple is standing at the front of “Pasha’s” kennel.   They look over the paper, and write down her name.   “Pasha” is paying attention to me, so I ask her to sit. And she sits.  I ask her to lay down, and she lays down.  I ask her if she wants to come play with me and she talks.  She doesn’t bark, she talks.  I already know in this moment she is mine.  I grab her paperwork and go stand in the cue for a meeting.

The elderly couple is in front of me.  The volunteer asks to see the paperwork they are holding, they give it to her and they tell her that they would also like to see Pasha.  The volunteer asks them if they have Pasha’s paperwork.  They say “no”, and I sheepishly say, “I have Pasha’s paperwork.”

The volunteer tells the couple that she will set them up with the dog they chose first, and “If Pasha doesn’t go home with this kind lady today, we can set you up with a meeting with her.”  My heart is fluttering.  I already feel like I was so close to losing her and I didn’t even know her yet.

I chose to meet her in an outdoor kennel.  There were some toys, and a baby pool.  Pasha and I were left alone to check each other out.  She didn’t want toys.  She could care less about the water.  She just wanted to be near me.  She listened as I talked to her, she leaned against my legs and talked.  The elderly couple sat in the kennel next to me, their dog of interest was frantic and jumping and barking.  They looked over longingly at Pasha’s excited but mellow demeanor.  She did not jump on me, she did not lick or drool.  She just told me ” We found each other.”  And So I paid fifty bucks for the greatest love I would ever know up until this point.

I didn’t know what I was going to call her.  Pasha didn’t fit, so for about a week, I called her IMA.  I.M.A.= Incredibly Magical Animal.  We slept together with all the cats in the top loft.  I would heft her up the crazy ladder that slipped out from underneath me more than once and our life together began. I finally settled on the name Claddagh Moondancer Wonderdog. Claddagh because of the Irish wedding band, the hands holding a heart with a crown, signifying “Love, Loyalty, and Friendship.”  She was my partner, and I would honor her as such through her name.  Moondancer came along when the snow fell, and Claddagh would lie about needing to go outside to go potty.  She would just want to slide upside down like a penguin on a snow drift.  She would prance through the thick blanket of white, like a deer.  Under a full moon it looked like she was dancing on the moon itself.  Wonderdog, is pretty self explanatory.

My friend came home and Claddagh and I camped out until the snow fell and we moved in with friends who needed some child care and help starting a small business.  Claddagh came with me to work every single day, whether I was working at the New Moon cafe in Nederland, or working for my friends in Gilpin.  Every single day, my dog accompanied me, and I swore I would never work another job that would keep me from her for long periods of time.  I was blessed to have it work out so perfectly over the years.

I understand people get pets that they only see a little bit throughout the day or night… but I seriously got a companion.  She was more than “emotional support animal.”  I didn’t have a doctors note or anything.  I just lived in an incredibly dog friendly town, and Claddagh was the most love-able dog you could meet.  She treated everyone like they were there to specifically see her.  She would give her full attention and love.  She would talk to anyone who came into her sphere.  Only once, during our time together, did she sense that a person was “off”, and backed away as if disgusted.  It was like she hit an energy bubble, and she backed away as if to say “this isn’t a sphere I want to be in.”  The woman was homeless and talking to herself, she looked rather disturbed.

All the regulars at New Moon knew Claddagh.  They loved her.  On my days off, I would grab coffee and paint on the patio with Claddagh right beside me.  Once a week we would go on a date and get a burger and french fries and share it on the patio of First Street, and later Squirrels in Corvallis, Oregon.  Any place that served beer, burgers and fries and had a dog friendly patio, was my kind of spot. I met a lot of people because of Claddagh.

There is so much more to her story.  I am going to cut this chapter off here.  There is so much to process.  My eyes are wet and dry at the same time.   I want to honor her.  If you are reading this, thank you for taking the time to get to know my best friend.  I look forward to sharing more about her as I am able to sit and write it all down.