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My Best Friend: Lessons In Commitment and Loyalty

I’m not much different than most other females who grew up around the same time I did.  We all watched the same Disney movies and obsessed over Wesley in Princess Bride.  We actively consumed the fairy tales of Princess’ being swept off their feet.  Add in some religion, and there was always some illusory man who was suppose to show up and sweep us off our feet.

By the age of twenty-five, if it hasn’t happened yet, the internal worry mixes with the biological clock and things start to get a little weird.

I didn’t start building strong female relationships until about that age.  I started to embrace the feminine in myself and with that came a new feminine energy.  At times I would think that I was the most “girly” out of the group, even though I considered myself far less “girly” than my cohorts.

I’m certain when I went for a dog, I didn’t care what gender it was, but for the first time in my life I was starting to really make female friends and I am sure that played a role in how everything unfolded.

During this time I was becoming very aware of the emotional pain many women carry with them.  It was a suffering that would come from competing with other women more as an unspoken way of being than a logical reaction.   I was going out of my way to express appreciation for women, even ones who I interacted with just in passing.  It could be as simple as saying “You look fantastic in that shade of blue.”  or ” I really love your hair, it looks so soft!”

I could see that women on the daily were not only trying to meet the world with some beauty, but they were trying to convince themselves that they were worthy of love and attention and the most basic way we are taught to seek that out, is by outward expressions of self care.

I knew I wasn’t out there trying to steal anyone’s boyfriend.  I was trying to find some loyal female friends while seeking love, and if you want to get a lady’s attention, give her a sincere complement.

When Claddagh came into my life, it wasn’t complements that won her over.  In fact it wasn’t complements that kept her around.  But while I was trying to figure out how to bring more love into my life via friends, she was sitting right beside me as I hashed things out.

In February of 2009 I received an art commission to paint a mural on the inside of a pump house at a tree farm.  For a week, Claddagh and I camped out while I painted the mural.  In the evenings I would sit by the fire with a headlamp writing about the various musings I may have had over the day.

Here are my scribbles about “What the fuck the roller coaster of love is”;

  • Doesn’t know what love is but aches for it, due to fairy tales and day time drama.
  • Meet someone who likes you and you couldn’t care less for as an individual.  Sometimes it matters not, for the first timer. It’s the wanting of love so badly that most novices force it based on lame criteria.
  • Settle into that “like-ness.”  For some this happens faster than others.
  • Grow personally or experience partners growth.   Get annoyed with everything you previously adored as “quirky.”
  • Jump knee deep into the dramatic experience of separating ways and the fucked up boomerang that always brings you back.
  • Wrestle with emotions vs. a need to get laid, enduring attitudes turn into pet peeves and the struggle to stay seemingly sane through the process.
  • Question life; it’s meanings and what could possibly be next.
  • Waste a few months feeling bad for yourself and procrastinating making a big decision.
  • Finally settle on something, perhaps the easiest thing….
  • And just when you think you are on the money…..
  • The Universe says “I’m sorry, actually you are going to do this ____.”  Which was your least favorite option from the options you initially had to choose from.
  • Just when you resign to your new circumstance, this new, interesting and attractive person comes in and because you haven’t lost all your hormones yet, your body says “HELLO!”
  • Knowing that you just experienced “love” and you have a lot to deal with, your mind says, “OH NO!”
  • Undoubtedly you spend time with this new stranger and your hormones won’t quit screaming “OH YES! PLEASE, PLEASE!”
  • Since you realize we are all animals who are most responsible to responding to our physical instincts,
  • Consciousness takes a back seat in decision making
  • Cave in and let hands graze nameless places- get high on pheromones.
  • Act like sad orphans literally dying to experience affection.  Once is never enough.
  • Realize that all of a sudden this indulgence and connection produces a a desire to satisfy something primal.
  •  Intimacy becomes a third party to rugged and animalistic behavior.
  • Start feeling things for a stranger while temporarily avoiding the recent void of failure, hoping to be re-filled.

Claddagh sat there as a silent bystander as I purged what could be seen as the worst flow chart for “love” to ever exist.  But what do I learn from this when I go back through it with that knowing?

My views on love have been quite askew.  Claddagh showed me another way to love, and it wasn’t based off of some unrealistic script that we are fed through entertainment.  This is why it hurts so badly.  We didn’t follow predictive programming in the unfolding of our friendship.  Even up into the minute I had to choose to let her go, I had no idea what I was doing and I was simply hoping for the best for both of us.   There was an undeniable trust that we were doing the best we could.

I learned that I need to further listen to my instincts.  Love doesn’t really exist in one-sided affairs and one sided affairs have seemed safe.  It’s easier to reject than to be rejected.   But what does it look like when both parties love?  It is harder to walk away, and I have been good at walking away… but I couldn’t walk away from Claddagh.  She made me look at the worst parts of myself, and she could have disappeared at any point in time to find a new home, and she didn’t.  She pushed through my wreckage.

Thanks to her, I can sift through it, and see more of what she was showing but I was only recording in passing. Thanks to her I can see love outside of that wreckage.

 

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My Best Friend: Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

I can’t exactly remember when it was that Claddagh started joining me in the dream space, but what I do remember is that in my dreams I was always trying to get her back to me.   The situations of dog-napping, and a dog run loose in reality were folding themselves into the bizarre tapestry of my well established dream world.

My dream world is conglomeration of places I have lived connected by a highway that leads to different lands.  There is a city in the middle made up of places I have visited, all smushed together into one seamless landscape.   One night in my dreams I became aware that Claddagh was now apart of my dream journey.

Here I will share some of the dreams that I have recorded over the years, in which Claddagh was important to the dream story-

April 5, 2017  “I dream about my dog.  I wonder if she dreams about me?”

May 2, 2017 ” Last nights DREAM JOURNEY , where I was on some camping trip with friends. We left my dog to play with a kitten, and we started to climb the face of some rocks.

Intermittently there were these painted rocks. And as I climbed, I started to realize how high off the ground I was. There was no easy way to back down. So I kept climbing to the top, figuring there would be an easier place to descend. On top of the mountain there was an auditorium theatre, and throughout the building there were boarding rooms.

A few of us got together for a strange “cancer test” Where we had to hold some red liquid in our mouths. And the woman giving the results would come around to each person, and suck the liquid out of us with what looked to be a clear syringe with two compartments, but this syringe was larger than a caulking gun.

If you had no cancer, the syringe would suck all the fluid out… if you had cancer, it would only suck out half the fluid. One of the people in my party was told they have cancer. We go to find our rooms, and I can see my dog acting bizarre, through a glass door. She is acting riled up. Her hair standing up along her spine.

Some one says “They are here.” I want to know who. They looked like brothers from different mothers. One was ginger, and the other had jet black hair. They were dressed like punk rock Nazi’s. Someone tells me that they are demons, as old as time, and that I can read about them and see pictures of them in an old set of Biblical Children’s Encyclopedia.

I was told to look under “Deedle-lingen”? I go wandering around to look for a bathroom, and notice a wet walkway that leads to bathrooms and some guest rooms. It is gross down here.

I see the brothers walking toward me, only this time they are dressed in what appears to be ancient buffalo hide. I turn into a room, and it’s filthy. I see a toilet, and it is filled with cigarette butts. This is the brother’s room. I am appalled that whoever runs this joint, allows them to smoke inside the building.

I look out the window and watch a car drive straight into a deep puddle and sink into the rain gutter under the building, and notice the water turning red. The brothers are killing people, with their minds, for fun. I can’t find my group, but I am able to locate my dog. I woke up before we could get off the mountain.”

May 11, 2017 ” Last night’s dream I am back in this cruddy festival land for a weekend camp out. Again I have my dog and we troop around talking to people. Everyone is talking about God, but it seems like they are talking about some other god.

I get an uneasy feeling.

Someone secretly doses me with something, and I am trying to keep my wits about me. My vision and hearing change, I can see them (kind of like the movie They Live).

Some fella talks to me about God, and I tell him that he worships Lucifer, and he says “I know that, We all Know That.” I rebuke it in the name of Christ, which basically turns me into a big beacon of light, and I can no longer blend in, They All See me Now. I’ve got to get out of there, but now that they see me, they prevent me from leaving.

I call my step mom to pick me up, but she keeps getting distracted by the people and the scene. I pack in the back of my old red Camry hatchback ,Shastina (that I sold in 2006) with my dog; from the back seat I put the keys in the ignition and tell my step mom to drive.

We get out into a mountain highway, and cars are ganging up on us. We hear sirens, so she pulls over. The siren sounds are phantom, there are no police cars. Cars are pulling over surrounding us. I jump into the passenger seat, and yell at her to drive again, and she swiftly pulls back into traffic.

I am trying to read the 32 missed messages that suddenly pop onto my phone. I am trying to call my dad to let him know what is going on. Karen is suddenly falling asleep at the wheel, I pull over to get her coffee. I am still “tripping” and the people at the coffee stop see me and know she is with me, so they have some hand in her sleepiness. Everyone is staring and moving in on me, so I wake up.”

November 9, 2017 (the day Quantum DreamCat showed up.)  “So this afternoon a wounded cat came into my yard, and she let me catch her… she’s been in my lap for most of the day, and I have been acclimating her to Claddagh, who is fine with kitteries.

I’m falling in love, but really trying to find her people. Right now the 3 of us are sharing some Nori (seaweed).

This kittery already knows about litter boxes, so that is awesome…. Claddagh is scared to get hissed at or batted in the face, but she really wants to show love to the kit.

Tonight is going to be interesting…

A couple of nights ago I had a dream that was really lucid, and in that dream I got a phone call from a man who sounded Black, (my spirit guide always shows up as a Black dude, if you want to know more about that, ask.)

Anyway, this guy on the phone asks me “Is it okay if I let your cat drink from the dogs water dish?” And I am aware that I don’t currently have a cat, so I misdirect and ask “Where are you calling from?” Trying to discern more info.

We talked around the topic, but the phone call ended with “Congratulations” Mylar balloons appearing in the reproduction of my dream world….

I have wanted to hold and love on a small kitty for over a year…. now I am fostering one… It’s kind of intense, because it is unexpected, and I am unprepared… But I am getting some really unexpected joy at the same time… This kittery has a perfect personality, or maybe she is just a good guest.  I don’t care… I am loving every minute of it.”

These are just the public posts of dreams that I made in the last year.   When I look at them in chronology I can tell I was being informed of a future that I didn’t see.   All the signs were there, I was choosing not to see it.

When I take all of the information I see the non-linear reality that plays in the waking and sleeping worlds.   This gives me some comfort that soul truly does live on, even when it is out of material form in this 3D construct.

I look forward to her returning to my dreams, perhaps accompanied by my brother, or my Dream Guide Rafiki. I bet my brother would have really enjoyed Claddagh’s company, I hope their re-introduction was beautiful for I am sure he had a hand in the synchronicity of perfect timing for our meeting.

My brother Kevin, was my first best friend, and I know that he would care for anyone that could steal my heart in such purity.   If there is a heaven, they are there together building bonfires in the sky.

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.