Those year end reflections…

I’ve been slurping up the “best trash cans of 2017” stories that most media organs pump out this time of year.

Why? So I can muse about 2017 without thinking too much about reality in America. You haven’t seen “Greatest Hits of the 115th Congress,” have you?

As indulgent as they may seem, this NYT story got to me:


When you lose a dog, you not only lose the animal that has been your friend, you also lose a connection to the person you have been.

I hit 62 this year- old enough to qualify for senior housing. I walk with a cane, slowly. I’m grateful when I can remember your name. And at each wave of aging, there’s a wash of nostalgia/regret for what used to be.

It’s hard on me, losing a pet. This year my bright spirit Charlee (above right) was suddenly killed by a passing car. Four years ago I lost my old black dog- she presided over an important and eventful 15 year slice of my life. At 44 I had so many options to work with. Now I feel doors closing, firmly closed, on chapters in my life. It’s sobering.

I still have my Young Dog, Lily (above left) At 11, she’s considered old now, her vision dimming. Can’t see the squirrels to chase anymore.

I’ll never be the globe-trotting artist I was when Seneca was young- not again. I’ll not careen around the city on my bike. I’m most likely past my last great romance, and glad for the lack of emo drama.

My Wiccan priestess would challenge me: “look for your unfolding challenges! The crone has plenty of important things to learn.”

Okay. Perhaps it’s just year-end blues, all this looking back with poignant feeling. And the cold and darkness that Winter brings. Let’s light a lantern and look ahead.

Fundraising for Vet Bills

I’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the vet bills that have exploded in the wake of Lily’s skin disease.

If you can help by sharing the link or donating even a few dollars, that’s a big help. Prayers and good wishes are greatly appreciated. You can read all the details at this link:


I didn’t want to get to this point, but I found out the hard way that relying on the budget vet clinic is a very bad idea with skin diseases!

Thank you again for your kindness.

I Have Your Heart

I spent last night curled around Seneca, my ancient and bony dog. I have not been sleeping with her the past few weeks because her incontinence has become so severe. But on this short night, her last, I did not care.

Today I will take her to the vet for the last time. I’ve been putting this off for weeks during her long and gracious decline. She rarely complains. She mostly does as she is asked. She will go anywhere with me, waiting patiently in the car. She has always been well mannered and willing to please.


Well past one hundred in dog years, Seneca has lived her whole life with that kind of grace. I’ve had her since she was seven weeks old. Runt of the litter, my standard poodle was chosen for me by the breeder for her gentle temperament. When I picked her up that day nearly fifteen years ago, she readily transfered her affections to me the moment I pulled out of that driveway, and has been my true and loyal friend ever since.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make: to help my dear friend have a good death (euthanasia from the Greek literally means ‘good death’). I have watched friends grapple with it, have gently encouraged them to let their pets go. It is indeed much harder from where I sit. I deeply do not want to lose my dog. I have cried like a six year old, losing her puppy. And then the other day I blurted out to a friend: “How can I do this to her?! All her life I have had a vow to protect her from all harm!”

My friend asked me: “Haven’t you done exactly that? Aren’t you still doing that for her?”

I have to admit that I have, every step of the way, given her the best life a dog could have. I began to see that I am not failing in my promise to her. I cannot prevent her aging, arthritis, the atrophy of her limbs. I could not prevent her dementia or it’s confusion and nightmares.

I can prevent further distress from these things, and I can prevent seizures or other painful experiences as she approaches her death. It is completely in line with my vow to her.

Last night as we curled together, I drifted in and out of sleep, and cherished the sensation of her warm, gently breathing form. I wrapped my arms around her and the words came to me “I have your heart.” I was saying this to her, as she has always said it to me.
Rest in Peace, Seneca
May 1998 – November 2012

Today in the Garden: Surprise Gifts

I went to the garden the other day for solitude. To my surprise, five children under 7 ran up alongside my car, squealing about the dogs and can we play with them?

Two girls and three boys were looking for something to do while their families set up for a big wedding at the community center. They chased the dogs in happy circles and were hugely comical trying to help me move the heavy wheelbarrow with a flat tire. They were so eager!

A fellow gardener had ordered a truckload of leaf mulch and my mission was to spread this wonderful black soil around my irises, radishes, spinach, broccoli, red cabbage and day lilies. I had lots of help. There was great competition for the big shovel. Then everyone wanted their own trowel, so more were found.

“Tuck those plants in, put that nice black blanket around them, like your mommy tucks you in at night.” And so they spread the leaf-gro around the young plants then helped me water.

Before they left, I showed them how to pull a carrot. One of my all time favorite things is to watch a child discover a natural miracle. It’s so rewarding to see the astonishment on their bright faces when the familiar orange food comes out of the soil, and after hosing off the bright orange root, they experience the taste of real food.

I was looking for solitude when I went to the garden. But I received a different kind of gift. I guess we don’t always know what we need, until we get it.