- 04.24.16 | Permalink | | Comments Off on Golden Slumbers
Martha was the best. Dog. Ever. You might think yours is great, and he or she probably is, but my dog, at this moment, on this blog was the Best. Dog. Ever. And the Best Dog Ever deserves a last day that parallels some of the best times she’s ever had, geriatric style, so that’s what we set out to do once it became clear that Martha was ready to leave us.* It all started with a weenie roast outside. If you could call it a hobby, one of Martha’s favorite hobbies was laying in the grass. It was even more fun when the family hung out, so Bradley spent her last late afternoon cleaning the patio interspersed with massages and loves for the old lady, followed by hot dog roasting, hanging out, excessive petting and sharing our Martha memories. We lasted outside until dark and the fire was out. It was a wonderful way to spend her last evening.
We headed to Martha’s favorite park, Wallace Swamp Creek. There’s so much to smell there and, while its not officially a dog park, it’s one of the few places we’ve found where friendly dogs seem to rule and run off leash. Martha is not the only geratric patron, and the few people we ran into in the park on Friday gave her their best and their blessings as they said hello and goodbye.
When she wasn’t being carried, she looked around, breathed deep and stood strong. She didn’t see the squirrels, flowers, bunnies, millipedes or other dogs, but she knew she was in her favorite place with her favorite people.
She walked a little bit. She was slow, she shuffled and almost fell when she traversed a little bank, but she went. It was tiring though and made her pretty thirsty, so when she saw the river she waded right in!
She drank and drank and drank! During the last three weeks at home she showed a keen appreciation for fresh, cold water. Whenever we would change her water dish, she would dash over to her bowl (‘dash’ being a relative term) and lap it down as quickly as possible. I think the river flowing directly into her mouth was the best thing we could have allowed her to experience. She waded further and further into the water, getting wetter and wetter. At one point, we realized she would lose her balance in the current if we kept letting her get deeper so we had to get her out. Her dear papa picked her up, dripping from the river, and continued down the trail.
While we were at the park, Gigi saw a bunch of little daisies and decided to make a daisy chain forMartha to wear for the rest of the day. She ever took them off. After about an hour of wandering around her favorite stomping grounds, we picked her back up and carried her back to the car. We headed home where Martha headed right to her bed and laid down, just tuckered out. That was a lot of adventuring for a 98 year old girl!
Then it was time for goodbyes. We each sat with her, stroking her ears, massaging her neck, scratching her chest, rubbing her legs and told her how much we would love and miss her. Martha closed her eyes, thumped her tail once or twice and laid her head down. She heard us. She knew.
When we arrived at the vet’s office we carried her in, paid the bill and it became real. All around her were tears and affirmations of love. We were in a frenzy of panic, preparing to miss her, but Martha was the calm at the eye of the storm. She laid on the table and never moved. She didn’t object when they gave her the catheter or when they moved her from room to room. She was dignified and beautiful in that moment and she seemed to teach us something. I think she may have known what we were there for. She relaxed, closed her eyes and went to sleep. We knelt around her touching her with love and snipping a bit of her fur, when Bradley recognized that we accidentally dressed as the Scooby Gang one last time! How appropriate that we usher out our best girl while dressed in the group costume that had her as the key player! It was a lovely moment of kismet, but you can see yourself that she was totally crashed out, completely unmedicated:
But after that, the vet came in, Martha went to sleep and then she left us. We stayed in the room and told her we loved her still. Her spirit scampered around us like her puppy self and we sang Golden Slumbers, This is the Last Time and the songs we wrote for her and sang to her as a puppy. It was a good last day, though short. She is going to be missed every single day. She was a good friend- the best friend. Reliable, kind to a fault, enthusiastic and so full of love. Rest in peace, Martha Dear. Xxoo
Martha dog, Martha dog, running through the yard.
Martha dog, Martha dog, life’s not very hard!
Martha dog, Martha dog, always on the run.
Martha dog, Martha dog, life is very fun.
*Four weeks before Martha died she started growing a big, hard tumor on her neck. It rapidly took over, finally circling about 2/3 of her neck. It wore her out and prompted food refusal, made breathing difficult, swallowing painful and, as a result, her body weakened significantly. We made the appointment when she could no longer hold herself up to go to the bathroom, when she couldn’t walk further than 10 feet and when she refused all food- even delicious ham, roast beef and hot dogs that make non-vegetarians drool. It was not an easy decision to make, but after her response at the vet’s, I have no doubt that it was the right thing to do. I have no regrets, I just miss her like crazy cakes.
- 04.22.16 | Permalink | | Comments Off on Martha 2002-2016
Martha Stewart Littlejohn (birth name ‘Sunflower’) was born on June 20th, 2002 to her mother, a golden retriever named Daisy, and her father, a Burmese Mountain Dog who shared a fence with Daisy. Of her litter of 12 (or 14- we can’t remember), four were blond and the rest black, our dear Martha being the only one who was blonde and blessed with polka dotted paws as well as the gentlest and kindest spirit. Upon arriving at her birth home, the choice was clear. For 50 dollars, we left as a family of three. I’ll never forget how Martha was followed to the gate by her mama who knew it would be her last time with her baby and wondering if Martha would also reflect that kind, protective spirit. She definitely did.
Martha started out in the family bed but quickly graduated to her own as her size doubled and tripled and her claws in the middle of the night certainly helped with that decision. After a few minor scrapes in the chewing department, Martha found her rhythm within our structure and rose to prominence within our family. Naturally potty trained, we felt comfortable taking her everywhere with us- she went to work with Bradley, to the grocery store and on endless walks and hikes. We read that Goldies need at least two hours of intense cardio per day, so one hour was always on the trail and the other was in the field, throwing the ball with the chuckit. Martha was the kind of girl who loved to chase a ball or stick and she was as in love with the lakes as the land. When time was short, we would take her to Bloedel-Donovan park, which turned into an off-leash park in the off season, and we would throw the ball or stick into the water and she would churn through it with amazing agility to find that stick! She also liked to chase rocks at Whatcom Falls Park by sticking her head under the river water and sniffing around for the right one that we tossed in. If she saw a squirrel, fish, duck or anything, forget about it. Talk about a dog with an adventurous spirit.
She and Calvin (our cat) fell in as buddies quickly. He would groom her and she him. It was terribly sweet to see them coiled up in bed licking one another’s ears, noses and other places, too😳. When we got Martha, she was smaller than Calvin so she always deferred to him as the big cheese, even though she outweighed him by 50 pounds when they were full grown! They would play tag and learned to rely on one another over time. Early on, Bradley and I gave them alter egos of The Paw and The Claw. She was good cop, he was bad cop, and I wish we had written some of their misadventures down becasue they were pretty darn funny. She was also known as the Marvelous Marthetta (paired with The Great Calvino), Beauty, D-O-G (say the letters like a word: Deeohgee), Marf-Marf and can claim to be the inspiration to endless towns in Animal Crossing, to our wifi networks and a myriad of other properties. When she sang, she was a classically trained opera singer while poor Calvin was always off key and could never carry a tune. She clearly felt his absence when he passed.
When we weren’t on trail or curled up together growing babies (little sister was on her way within Martha’s first year) Martha went to the warehouse with Bradley. At the time, he was employed at a furniture warehouse with a group of people who welcomed our dear one with open arms. She was so loved there, so appreciated that we think she really thought it was her job. She would follow Bradley around the warehouse while he did this and that and looked forward to going with him daily. We called her Go Dog Go. After that, it was established: she was a working dog. As Bradley went from place to place, job to job, eventually Martha would end up there with him. She was so sad when he became a stay at home dad and went into a little bit of a depression. Sulking in her bed…
The changes of kids and moving came at a cost to Martha. No more stuffies, plastic toys were baby’s now, not hers. She adjusted but always seemed proud that her place was ever in the most important bedroom of the top dogs. She was regal, sweet, patient and kind. Guinevere poked her chubby little fingers into her eyes and down her throat and Martha never nipped, growled or even moved away; she simply allowed the abuse to continue until the baby moved on or Bradley or I rescued her. A favorite activity of hers when the kids were young was when Bradley would push the kids around on a stuffed horse or flying around the living room while singing theme music to Superman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Hearing her favorite tunes would incite a stampede and Martha would chase us in circles as we careened around the room, everyone in peals of giggles.
As we grew and changed, Martha adjusted. We built a house and she was thrilled to return to the job site, but she was clearly disgusted when the job site became our home and we all moved in. She reigned queen in the neighborhood, fenceless, and made friends with all the passerby. She became an avid hiker in her old age, climbing Little Si, visiting Lake 22, Heather Lake and Wallace Falls in her 12th year. We were so impressed to see her same old enthusiasm and aged, silver snout making its way up the mountains with vigor.
She will be missed. She was less a dog, less a canine and more of a friend, a sister. She was reliable and kind, always. She never groused or was grouchy. At any moment, she was game for adventure: 6:AM, 6:PM and anytime before or after. She accompanied me to many middle of the night lesson plan preparations into a spooky school without complaint and offered her false sense of protection. We will miss our walks and our family tradition of inclusive Halloween costumes. But mostly, we will just miss loving her in person.
Martha passed away peacefully on April 22, 2016, two months shy of her 14th birthday. In dog years she lived to be almost 98.
It was a blessing to spend time with the most grace filled creature we’ve ever met. She will never be forgotten: our first baby, our sister, our friend. Our Martha.
Rest in peace, dear Martha.
- 11.26.15 | Permalink | | Comments Off on Thankful
We spent a comfortable day at home, in front of the fire the tv and Wii. We spent it with one another, laughing, playing and eating way, too much. We spent it outdoors in our wonderful world, with our Martha in the brisk, freezing November cold. It was a beautiful day. One where we only ate baked goods made by our 12 year old daughter (pumpkin roll, two pumpkin pies and one apple), where Jude honored Charles Schultz and everyone understood the blessing of too, much food. We thanked one another, thanked the pilgrims and shared gratitude for our very existence. A very, Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.
- 11.14.15 | Permalink | | Comments Off on Veteran’s Day
My mom and dad came over the mountains for a visit over Veteran’s Day. Gigi and Jude have been begging him for years to come to the Veteran’s Day assembly at their school, and the time was right, at last. My dad stood on the stage with scores of veterans, holding the hands of two of his grandchildren, and spoke a little bit about who he was and his service. It was incredibly emotional and I’m grateful for his service as well as his effort at coming to be honored. Both of the kids are in the choir, and Gigi even had a solo to sing, in honor of her veteran.
- 10.31.15 | Permalink | | Comments Off on Halloween
When asked what they would like to do for Halloween this year, our kids requested that we lay low. That we keep our trick or treats in the family this year. I suppose there is wisdom in that- the years are briskly whipping by. So fast that even the babies are remarking that it seems like we just started school yesterday. Instead, Halloween came and went, and with it the potential of Gigi’s last trick or treat. She knew it, we knew it. So we did it big this year.
Jude was Link, from Legend of Zelda, while Gigi wore the costume for Reese, the recycle maiden from her favorite game, animal crossing. I was a last minute scarecrow for the costume carnival, but on Halloween night we were Pooh B ear and Tigger, just like we used to be when we first became a family.
But this year we promised them that we would go for as long as it took to wear them out. We didn’t need to head back to our house or think of anyone else this year. This year it was all about them. We started at 5:30 with our direct neighbors, and by 6:30 we had completed our entire street and we’re ready to head into the fun neighborhood where everyone from school trick or treats! Arriving there was like a Speilburgian fantasy, straight from the 1980’s with kids running like mad through the streets. It’s terribly fun. We managed to run into Jude’s “secret crush” and several friends from both kid’s classes.
After that, both kids said they were tuckered. But we promised an epic night of
beggingtrick or treating, and by golly they were going to get one! We headed to the third, and final, neighborhood. Those people were over trick or treaters, it was 8:00, after all, so they dumped their candy into our kid’s bags and turned off their lights. We headed home at last to survey the damage, and it’s pretty safe to say that we did epically well. This was a year for the record books!
Update: one week later and most of the candy is still left. Neither Bradley nor I have eaten any of it and the kids are treating it like a rare, natural resource that is hard to come by. I suppose that’s true of our house, these days. 😉