December 10th 2006 11:42 am
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A CHRISTMAS VISIT
It was December 22, a Saturday, and the last weekend before Christmas.
She was getting some last minute shopping done. After making
her purchases she walked with her son over to the cottage covered in
artificial snow that sat in the middle of the shopping mall. She had
promised her son that he could visit Santa.
Her son was eight years old -- tall and lanky like his father.
He had dark auburn hair and gray-green eyes, a sprinkle of freckles
on his cheeks and a wistful smile. His voice was gruff for a boy so
young, prompting many folks to refer to him as the "little man."
Since his father's untimely and sudden death seven months
earlier, he had tried to fill his daddy's place by volunteering for
extra duties around the ranch and his once-boyish mannerisms quickly
gave way to an assumed adult demeanor.
Juggling her packages she gently prodded her son forward when
the elf assistant informed them it was her son's turn to sit with
She couldn't hear what the shopping mall Santa and her son were
saying, but she couldn't help notice her son's expression. His
gray-green eyes sparkled with unshed tears and his lips trembled as
he nodded his head in response to something Santa said.
An elf with a camera told her son to smile as he snapped a
couple of shots. Her son looked past the camera. His thoughts miles
distant. The only one who smiled was Santa.
Once in the car she asked her son what he had told Santa he
wanted for Christmas.
He turned his head toward the window. His words bounced off the
glass with a dull echo.
"I want to tell daddy I love him. I want him to hug me and tell
me, 'I love you, Buddy!' when he tucks me in at night."
She tried to draw a breath past the painful lump in her throat.
"I know, honey. We weren't able to say goodbye. We weren't
there to hug him up and savor his goodness one last time... I'm
He hung his head.
"Me, too," he muttered in his gruff little boy voice. The hour
it took to get home was quiet.
That evening as they decorated the tree a storm crept out over
the flat range, groaning with snow laden clouds and whining winds.
Soon wet heavy snow was pounding at their windows and icy fingers of
the wind crawled under the doors and into the house.
"We'd better check on the horses. I'm concerned this storm will
spook the mare who's due to foal any day now. And I want to make
sure the chickens are locked up good and tight."
"Okay, Mom. I'll check on the chickens." He picked up the
boxes of ornaments from the floor and placed them on the nearby
couch. "We can get to the rest of this later."
She cast a proud glance at her son. "Yes, my little man. We
can." She grabbed their coats and scarves from the coatrack. They
bundled up and went outside.
The flood light from the roof of the barn was little help as the
gusting wind tossed thick folds of snow everywhere. Pushing against
the wet and cold she reached the barn, threw back the retaining bar
and went inside. She flicked the lights on and took a relaxing
breath. It was suddenly more quiet and calm within. She scanned the
stalls. All was peaceful. The horses were fine. The pregnant mare
dropped her head over the stall half-door and huffed a welcome.
He opened the door to the coops and warm air brushed 'round him.
The heat lamps were on bathing the chickens in a red glow. They were
settled in for the night. Some sleeping, while others clucked softly
in the shadows. He pulled his scarf tightly around his neck as he
shut and bolted the coop up.
As he turned towards the barn he was stopped short by a sound.
There, in the blustery snow was a dark shape. A whimpering
sound issued from the quaking creature. The boy gingerly stepped
closer. He saw a black ball of fur. The head trembled as it whined
The wind died down and the boy got a better look at the animal.
"Come here, pooch." He coaxed softly. He squatted down nearer
the dog and held his hand out. The black dog stood slowly, then
reached over and licked the boy's hand. Holding his arms out the boy
called the dog to him. In a bound the dog crawled into his arms --
all the while licking the boy's face.
He met his mother just outside the door to the barn. She gasped
when she espied her son and the creature in his arms.
"What do you have there?" She knew, but she was caught by surprise.
"Can we go inside?" he implored, staring down at the dog. "He's
freezing out here."
"Umm." She nodded and hustled herself and her boy towards the
house. Shutting the front door behind her she faced her son.
"Let's take a better look at him, shall we?" She drew closer
then wrinkled her nose. "He will need a hot bath. Then some food
He grinned and rushed off with the dog. In moments, the tub in
the bathroom was being filled with water and she could hear her son
talking to the dog reassuringly.
Half an hour later son and dog emerged. She studied the dog who
now followed closely behind her son. He was of medium size,
bright-eyed... and smiling.
She watched as the dog ate.
"Your father had a black dog and he loved that dog a lot. He
used to tell me stories about him. Said his name was Jeremy."
He nodded at the dog. "May we keep him?"
She didn't have to give his question much thought. She'd not
seen her son this animated in months. "Sure. What are you going to
Her son paused, then gave his answer. "Buddy."
For the next two days boy and dog were inseparable. They played
and worked together. Come bedtime, Buddy followed the boy to the
bedroom, jumped up on the bed and settled down for the night.
Christmas Eve, before the boy fell asleep, Buddy squirmed over
to him, placed his paws on the boy's shoulders and snuggled up
against him. The boy hugged him close and Buddy covered his grinning
face with dog kisses. "I love you," he whispered, then fell asleep
cradling the black dog in his arms.
Christmas morning the boy woke up to find Buddy gone.
He hurriedly changed clothes then ran out of his room, calling
after Buddy. He couldn't find Buddy in the house so he rushed
There, in the snow were paw tracks. Buddy's. He followed the
tracks, calling for the dog, when suddenly, the tracks disappeared.
The boy canted his head. "Oh!" he burbled with a giggle. He
then took a deep breath. "Oh," he said again as understanding
He bowed his head and whispered, "Thank you."
Hearing her son crying out as he hurried through the house she
bolted after him. When she caught up to him she glanced down,
following the boy's gaze.
She studied the tracks, puzzled. "Where's Buddy? Did you find him?"
The boy reached up and grasped his mother's hand.
"I'll tell you when we get inside." With a light tugging he
pulled her back in the direction of the house. It had begun to snow.
"Let's go, Mom."
She looked back at the tracks. The snow was quickly filling in
the depressions, obscuring the dog's path. She turned back to her
son. He was pulling her faster toward the house. He looked back at
her and a bright smile blazed across his face.
"I'll race you back!" He let go of her hand and dashed across
the yard. As he reached the porch he threw his arms over his head
and let out a big whoop.
Behind his mother, a tall lanky figure bent down just as a
smaller, darker figure ran up to him.
"Good dog, Jeremy. Come on!" The black dog wriggled into the
man's arms. "You did good, boy!" The tall lanky figure smiled, and
there was a sparkle in his green eyes.
He then turned into the swirl of snow, and vanished.
Copyright 2006 by Snuffy's human
April 16th 2006 12:54 am
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Don't Give Up On Me
Someone had opened the gate at my parents' home and their dog and my grandmother's dog got out. Grandmother was in a nursing home and my parents had taken her little poodle mix in.
After canvassing the neighborhood, questioning all the neighbors and putting ads in the newspaper I began making daily trips to the pound looking for the lost dogs.
For grandmother's dog, I looked in the puppy section as they told me if she came in that is where they'd put her as she was so small. For my parents' dog I walked the aisles where they kept the larger dogs. I went at lunch and left crying everyday.
But there was one small thing that made me smile each time I visited the puppy room - a long, black and white spotted basset beagle mix. Each time I came to her cage, she would wriggle against the bars. She wagged her tail so furiously her rump swung back and forth. Her body was one happy wag.
With each passing day I bonded deeper to the pup. No one had come to claim her. She was moved from pen to pen. Her fate was not known. The puppy room caretaker informed me she might be put up for adoption, she might take ill as disease ran rampant through the pound, or she might be put down if there were too many dogs. Her expression, each time she saw me was as clear as any communication, Don't give up on me!
The day I took her from the pound I discovered she had been turned in as a lost dog by a couple who had given a non-existent phone number and an erroneous address. Turned out it cost nothing back then to turn in a lost dog, but if you turned in your own dog you had to pay a fee. No one was ever going to claim her; she had been unwanted. But not by me.
It was winter when I brought her home and she was small enough to fit into a tube sock. I cut two holes for her front legs and turned down the top of the sock like a turtle-neck sweater. What a sight. I named her Snuffy.
I quickly discovered Snuffy was ill. When I took her to the vet he prescribed a special diet regimen and medicine. As ill as she was Snuffy was always happy. Devoted, protective, loyal, loving, and happy, she was my constant companion whenever possible. An extension of myself we were like one soul in two bodies: one human, one furry.
When Snuffy was 8 years old she had an accident. She'd fallen from a bench and damaged her back. The next day the lower half of her body was paralyzed. The vet said I should probably put her down, but the look she gave me said, Don't give up on me!
I brought her home and set up a place for her in the kitchen. She was incontinent. She dragged her back legs, scraping the tops of her feet in the process. The linoleum in the kitchen was non-abrasive, and also forgiving of bowel and bladder accidents.
In the mornings when I greeted her she was so happy. In the evenings when I hurried to the kitchen as soon as I got home Snuffy was always smiling. She acted as if nothing were wrong. She couldn't wag her tail but joy radiated from her, no matter.
I massaged her legs and hips and gave her anti-inflammatory meds. I cleaned up after her, loved her, sat with her, held her, and talked to her. Every day I hoped for change, however small, to herald a healing of her spine. Nearly three weeks passed and as I stroked her back leg her foot moved. I began crying. Two weeks later she was walking. Snuffy's vet was flabbergasted. He shook his head and exclaimed, "She is one tough gal." And she was. Snuffy never gave up on herself.
She never regained full function of her lower extremities, but she could run and walk, play, and even jump on good days. And she was no longer incontinent.
Snuffy is an old lady now and she doesn't see well. She is nearly deaf. She has arthritis. She can be crotchety and forgetful. She has bowel and bladder accidents. But when she looks at me there is no mistaking what she is telling me, Don't give up on me! I still have love for you. I am still happy!
As long as she tells me these things there will be no giving up on my end. I know, however, there will be a day when she looks at me and her expression will tell me, It is time to give me up...to God.
Copyright by Snuffy's human
Part of my heart died and was taken away October 10th! Such separation I never figured would be bearable, and I was right, for I cannot bear it "in the now." It is a new ache that seems fathomless, both in its pain and in its endurance.
She was my friend and family. I wanted her to live forever and it seemed that she would; so indomitable was her spirit. When she was a babe, she was very ill. I nursed her along and all the while she had a ready smile and a happy heart. At the age of 7 years she had an accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. It was suggested that I let her "pass on."
However, her love for me and mine for her would not allow it. And after several weeks of tears and hope, pain and prayers, she regained most of the use of her legs. She had a fierce drive to thrive, if for nothing else, to live so she could continue to be at my side, through all the good and bad the years and circumstances toss at us. Her devotion and loyalty to me were unwavering.
I learned more about the human condition through my relationship with her, than with any other. Her life force and her heart were like beacons. And the light she radiated unveiled the best and the worst attributes of my humanity. She helped me rise above my baser self; enriching my life as I strove to be more like the loving being her spirit exemplified.
I can't accept that my eyes cannot see her, that my ears cannot hear her, that my hands cannot gently touch her. Or, that my arms cannot lift her up so that I may nuzzle her ear and tell her how deeply I love her. I cannot reconcile these things for she is there, in my mind, residing in my heart, warming my spirit, and touching my soul. She is so much a presence within me that surely she cannot be absent from my tactile world. Can it be I will never hear her sigh, or hear her breath in sleep? Or look into her eyes, always brimming with love for me. The soft shuffle of her feet at my side as we walkno more. Gone, is the bright and happy little girl who loved me beyond any human capacity to do the same. She was my family, companion, and friend.
I want so to see her ever-wagging tail. And to hear her tail happily thumping on the floor, just behind the front door when I arrive home from work. Each time I heard it, I knew she was smiling. Eager to see me.
My dear Snuffy Do you hear a thumping? It is my heart reaching out to you. Eager to see you. Someday the door will open, and when it does and I see you I will do the things I ache to do now and cannot. I look forward to hearing your tail wagging happily as I draw open the door. And the door will remain open, left behind, as we journey onward, ever together.
I dedicate this to Snuffy, the 17 year old Basset-Beagle mix who not only shared her love with me, but gave it all to me.
Ah, man! I miss you so much, my dear Snuff girl!!!
Say hi to Shamren, Selah, Shay, Jolly, and Sadie. I hope they are all keeping you company. Know that I am with you now as my spirit yearns for your company and my arms ache to feel the weight of you in them. My eyes look for you in every familiar place, while my mind sees you everywhere. My memories of you are just a continuation of the part of my life that you shared with me; then, in body and heart; now, in spirit and heart.
When I gaze upon the tin on the fireplace mantel that holds your ashes, it seems hardly large enough to contain all that you were and still are to me. But, Snuffy, my heart has a huge void in it that I wish to fill with all the wonderful memories of the years you shared with me. Keep me company there, in my heart, and share with me the rest of my years. There is so much more of my life I want to continue to spend with you. If you are in my heart you are as close as any being may be and I will be as happy as any being can be with you there. Journey with me 'til my time wears out, here. Until I can hold you in my arms as I embrace you within my heart.
I love you! I wish I could kiss your sweet face and caress your soft, floppy ears...and tell you that you are "the bestest!"
Snuffy ~> October 1987 to October 10th 2004