Tag Archive | Raven

Ready

Dameron Marsh, Virginia

I’ve had a series of dog dreams since Stellar died. Symbolic or otherwise, they have featured greyhounds, a Great Dane, others I’ve forgotten, and dear old Stellar, younger. People ask me now and then if I’m thinking about getting another dog. Of course, I reply. But not until after winter. What kind, they ask. I don’t know. Whatever kind shows up at the right time. Maybe a puppy, maybe an old dog, or maybe two whose people died and they need to be adopted together. Maybe a dog that just shows up in the yard, or on the side of the road, or maybe I’ll go to a shelter–when I’m ready. But for now, I’m enjoying not having to get up at the crack of dawn and go outside in the freezing winter morning; enjoying lots of quiet time while no one is depending on me.

And frankly, I’m still recovering from the intensity of the mutual devotion during Stellar’s last months, even years; in fact, of his whole life. He was like no other dog, no other relationship. We were continuously connected at the heart and the soul from the moment I first held him. I still look up from the kitchen counter sometimes expecting him to be lying there across the living room; I still jolt a bit when I drive home from somewhere and he isn’t here to greet me. So I’m not in a hurry to get another dog. So don’t send me anymore dogs on Facebook that need a new home, or even mention a catahoula pup.

However, there’s been some comfort in the dreams. I had another one this morning. Stellar and Raven and the new dog were romping in a field as I watched. Suddenly Stellar took off like a streak across the field and I called after him but he didn’t stop. Raven looked at me, then took off running after him, and the new dog followed them both. “Hey!” I yelled, “Stellar! Raven! Come back here! Hey–!” I realized I didn’t know what to call the new dog. I didn’t know his name yet! He looked a lot like Stellar, almost a clone, just a lot younger and a tiny bit smaller. “Hey! Come back!” But they all disappeared over the hill.

Fred and Mary pulled up in their blue VW bug, and I got in, and we started tracking the dogs. We drove for endless miles up the east coast, catching sight of them once in a while and then losing them. Hours… We drove by a big-box store parking lot, and saw a few people around a couple of pickup trucks who were trying to round up three dogs and collar them. “We’ve gotta check,” I cried, “those could be my dogs!” But they weren’t. We drove on through the parking lot, and there on the far side, frolicking along a stream, were Raven, Stellar, and the new dog.

Bennett Spring State Park, Missouri

“Stellar, come!” I called, and he did, and I called Raven, and she came, and I tried to call the new dog but remembered that I didn’t know his name yet, but that was okay because he just followed the other dogs right into the back seat of the VW bug, and they all piled on top of each other with me in the middle, and I was so relieved. We were all laughing. I said, “I don’t even know this guy’s name yet.” Fred mentioned a friend who had looked after him a couple of times, and said, “She told me his name.”

“What?” I asked, “What’s his name?”

And Fred said, “Ready. His name is Ready.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

photo from the Dalai Lama’s Facebook page

One of the two greatest men on the planet has died. Like so many, I am grateful for Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I’ve nothing to add to the global outpouring of appreciation hinted at in this Guardian article, which includes a four minute video synopsis of his immeasurable importance.

The other greatest man, his dear friend the Dalai Lama, called Tutu his “elder spiritual brother,” and mourned his passing with this message to Tutu’s family:

“…Archbishop Desmond Tutu was entirely dedicated to serving his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a true humanitarian and a committed advocate of human rights. His work for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an inspiration for others around the world…. With his passing away, we have lost a great man, who lived a truly meaningful life. He was devoted to the service of others, especially those who are least fortunate. I am convinced the best tribute we can pay him and keep his spirit alive is to do as he did and constantly look to see how we too can be of help to others.”

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

For a few minutes of absolute delight, watch this heartwarming short video of their virtual meeting last July, celebrating the release of this movie about them, Mission Joy.

My admiration for Archbishop Tutu goes way back. I named a tortoise after him many years ago, Desmond Turtu, who actually was kind of an ambassador for peace, love, and freedom…
Desmond Turtu has been gone so long that I don’t have a good face shot of him handy, so these images of his interspecies laissez-faire diplomacy will have to suffice.

Propane

I was going to write about gratitude for propane, a natural gas/petroleum derivative that I hate having to use to live on solar power but have relied on for thirty years to fuel my backup generator during cloudy stretches in winter. I’ve also been using it for my cooking stove, and for about fifteen years for my refrigerator, until I bought a high-efficiency Sunfrost. This winter I have to use the generator almost every night to keep the batteries charged until morning; they are on their last legs, but the new batteries on order have been delayed for months because of ubiquitous supply chain issues. Now they won’t arrive til “after the first of the year.” That could mean May, as far as I know. So I am grateful for propane, which is currently giving the sun a big assist in electrifying my house, enabling the refrigerator, freezer, water pump, lights, TV, radio, etc., to function in the manner to which I have become accustomed. And I’m grateful to have been getting my power mostly from the sun for the past thirty years.

So, I was going to research propane and write about it. But when I opened Photos to search for a relevant image, for some random cosmic reason this one showed up, mama Raven and her baby brother Stellar shortly after he arrived here almost fourteen years ago. And that melted my heart and rendered me useless for the rest of the night. I am so grateful to have had these two remarkable, beautiful, brilliant dogs as my companions for the most recent quarter of my life; I’m grateful that I recognized and celebrated that gratitude almost every day of their presence in it.

Raven

New flowers planted around Raven’s grave.

A year ago tonight, right around this time, my little Raven dog fell off the couch and never moved again; she died in my arms a couple of hours later. I still don’t know what killed her. It could have been a heart attack, stroke, or some toxin she ingested. She lived through her mouth and was forever eating things she shouldn’t. Like an entire loaf of poppyseed bread off the counter in two minutes. Like half the book club cake off the table. Like, maybe a handful of small green seed potatoes that may have resulted in solanine poisoning, but I’ll never know. It happened fast, and peacefully.

The next morning I buried her in the garden, deepening a hole she had dug under a sagebrush. Yesterday I pulled a few weeds from around the stones on top, and planted some violas and a columbine. I’m grateful she essentially dug her own grave, so I didn’t have to. I’m grateful that beautiful, smart, mischievous dog came from Dog World to live with me when she was six weeks old, and made me laugh and cry for almost fourteen years. I’m grateful that after all that (fleeting) time, after her many dramatic veterinary events, her life ended in quiet two-hour cuddle instead of some awful, bloody, tragic spectacle and/or a frantic trip to the vet. I’m just grateful for Raven.

Raven resting on the day she arrived at my house. Chris flew her across the country and I picked them up in Denver in mid-July, 2006. She was six weeks old. Have you ever seen anything cuter?
Raven at a year-and-a-half old, meeting the love of her life, her baby brother Stellar.
Raven in her prime at eight.
Raven a few months before her end, at Ice Canyon with Stellar.

Raven Review

Even as a puppy Raven liked to lie on her back. She's in the top right corner of the litter.

Even as a puppy Raven liked to lie on her back. She’s in the top right corner of the litter.

I can’t help myself. After almost losing Raven on New Year’s Eve, I’ve pored over hundreds of images of her from the past eight and a half years, her life flashing before my eyes. It was hard but I’ve selected these few to share with you who cared during her ordeal. She is just a dog, I know that, but her little life is so entwined with mine. One day she will die, and I’ll be too heartbroken then to do this, so here is Raven’s life in review, thus far, An Incomplete Pictography.

Raven at a couple of weeks old.

Raven at a couple of weeks old.

This was the first photo I saw of Raven. Chris emailed me a shot of her holding each puppy so that I could choose which one I wanted. They were all cute; when I saw this one it was love at first sight. "THIS ONE!" I wrote back, "I WANT THIS ONE!" How could I have wanted any other?

This was the first photo I saw of Raven. Chris emailed me a shot of her holding each puppy so that I could choose which one I wanted. They were all cute; when I saw this one it was love at first sight. “THIS ONE!” I wrote back, “I WANT THIS ONE!” How could I have wanted any other?

Raven resting on the day she arrived at my house. Chris flew her across the country and I picked them up in Denver in mid-July, 2006. She was six weeks old.

Raven resting on the day she arrived at my house. Chris flew her across the country and I picked them up in Denver in mid-July, 2006. She was six weeks old.

Raven's first hike to the canyon, with Mocha and Mr. Brick.

Raven’s first hike to the canyon, with Mocha and Mr. Brick.

One night shortly after she arrived I suddenly couldn't find her. I panicked a little; she was so small! Found her shortly, asleep in the laundry basket.

One night shortly after she arrived I suddenly couldn’t find her. I panicked a little; she was so small! I looked everywhere, and finally found her in the laundry room, asleep in the laundry basket.

She loved to be near her grumpy uncle, who wouldn't give her the time of day for awhile.

She loved to be near her grumpy uncle, who wouldn’t give her the time of day for awhile.

Sitting pretty for cookies, with Mocha and Brick.

Sitting pretty for cookies, with Mocha and Brick.

Brick was skeptical of her when she first tried to get him to play with her.

Brick was skeptical of her when she first tried to get him to play with her.

But she persisted and won him over in the end.

But she persisted and won him over in the end.

Raven pensive.

Raven rarely pensive.

Baby's first bee sting.

Baby’s first bee sting.

Eventually the grumpy uncle would let her do whatever she wanted with him.

Eventually the grumpy uncle would let her do whatever she wanted with him.

Taking Mr. Brick for a walk.

Taking Mr. Brick for a walk.

Growing up.

Growing up.

Falling down.

Falling down, sound asleep.

Raven's first snow.

Raven’s first snow.

Raven and Rocky meet for the first time, at Rocky's first home. He was almost a year old, she was about three.

Raven and Rocky meet for the first time, at Rocky’s first home. He was almost a year old, she was about three.

Raven sharing the chair with Little Doctor Vincent.

Raven sharing the chair with Little Doctor Vincent.

Raven plays with her daddy, Sundog, while her mother Feather looks on. They are a close knit family even years after being separated by half a continent. She is always so excited when we visit them in Florida, or they come to see us here.

Raven plays with her daddy, Sundog, while her mother Feather looks on. They are a close knit family even years after being separated by half a continent. She is always so excited when we visit them in Florida, or they come to see us here. Sadly, Sundog met his demise last year after living a life of legend.

Raven meets her baby brother Stellar at Dog World in Florida, and immediately begins to lick him all over.

Raven meets her baby brother Stellar at Dog World in Florida, and immediately begins to lick him all over.

At home in Colorado, she teaches him all he needs to know, from finding antlers to digging holes.

At home in Colorado, she teaches him all he needs to know, from finding antlers to digging holes.

Even when he outweighs her by thirty percent she continues to groom him like he's her baby, always thoroughly licking his ears.

Even when he outweighs her by thirty percent she continues to groom him like he’s her baby, always thoroughly licking his ears.

Rope tug.

Rope tug.

Stick tug.

Stick tug.

A meditative moment.

A meditative moment.

At the rim.

At the rim. Is she not ridiculously adorable?

Romping in the snow.

Romping in the snow.

Après Bone Burying.

Après Bone Burying.

Little Miss Chiff. Mischief.

You can trust me. Really.

Deep in the Big Snow a few years ago.

Deep in the Big Snow a few years ago.

A week before the Thistle Episode, still and always on her back.

A week before the Thistle Episode, still and always on her back.

Three weeks after her extraordinary surgery, she is perfectly fine in her own mind; though in an apparently unrelated incident, two days after she got her stitches out, she started pissing blood. It lasted all evening, one red pee after another. I rushed her back to Doc, who suggested after analyzing the urine that she must have suffered some trauma to her bladder. “You’re more worried about this than I am,” he said, and sent us home with some Vitamin K and a request for another urine sample this week. By bedtime that night the urgency had tapered off, and by morning there was only a faint pink tinge. A few hours later she was perfectly okay. It’s a long, unlikely story, but I think he was right.

We continue to take three walks a day, the silver lining in the Thistle Episode. First thing in the morning and just before sunset we go up the driveway; she is still on-leash for these and probably always will be, because she will chase the deer. In between, we walk to the canyon rim. The past two days she’s been off-leash for these walks but it makes me nervous. She seems to think the sole purpose of our going for a walk is so that she can find forbidden things to put in her mouth; nose to the ground she searches out deer poop, old bones, anything rank. So far I’ve been able to keep her close enough to keep shit out of her mouth, but not sure how long that good behavior will last. I’ve ordered a soft nylon muzzle to try out, so I can let her run free without the worry of what she’ll eat next. Not sure if either of us will be able to tolerate that. But right now the thought of her running off and chowing down on an old deer skull or femur bone is just too much for me. I’m sure I’ll eventually relax about it.

Another silver lining is that I’ve added some elements to the dietary regimen of both dogs, after consulting with the holistic vet an hour away. Both doctors concurred that she probably wasn’t drinking enough water in general, and that likely contributed to her intestinal impaction. So now I add a full cup of water to their food twice a day, and additionally once a day I add a little flavoring to an extra sixteen ounces of water to be sure they’re drinking enough; a little chicken stock, or tuna water, or half teaspoon of cat food, and they lap it right up. I’m also adding a couple of tablespoons of canned pumpkin to their breakfast to give them more fiber, and they get a midnight snack just before bed, a handful of little biscuits or a quarter cup of food. I had noticed they were both making mouth noises early in the morning, licking licking, as if they had a bit of reflux. Dr. Betty suggested the bedtime snack would keep their stomachs busy overnight, and sure enough there’s no more morning mouth noises or tummy rumblings; they sleep soundly til it’s time to get up. And so do I!