When Your Lap Feels Empty

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

I have always had a general rule of thumb when it comes to the question of “how many dogs is too many dogs?”, to whit: more dogs than can fit on your lap at any one point in time.

I fully admit, I have less lap that I used to, but even so – two dogs on your lap leave an empty space, both there and in your heart.

It’s been a rough two years when it comes to loss. Delilah, who left a weird, unique, one in a lifetime hole in our hearts. Kelda, who went too young, too soon, and too shockingly to be processed. The puppies I lost, again, too young, so young that they never had names, in such a mysterious way (a virus, so say the expensive and yet frustratingly non specific pathology reports from the University of Guelph, and how can something so mundane as a “flu virus”cause such trauma?).

Penelope, however, leaves us with a hole in our hearts, a space in our laps, and an ache that we are still trying to fill. Our tiny little teddy bear girl, who sat up on her hind legs like an imbalanced Buddha, balancing on her butt like a circus seal. Who loved to randomly bark at the ceiling, apparently for the sheer joy it. Who shrieked to introduce herself to every new person she met (“Here I am! Say hello! hi hi hi hi!”).

I don’t care how old your dog is, a death from cancer is never a good death. We took her home for one full week after her diagnosis, a week filled with ice cream and laps and extra treats, and walks that usually ended up being ‘carries’, not that we minded. Weeks come to an end, however, and when pain outweighs joy, it is time to say goodbye.

I have last photos of her, but I won’t share them, because she is and always will be our small, shining, silly girl, running alongside the lake with her sister, her mother, her grandmother, all of them now – gone, and gone too soon, and the holes they leave in your lap and your heart and your life, are holes that no other dog can fill, even though they in turn will leave their own holes, too, and too soon.


How Much is a Life Worth?

I sometimes get discouraged about French Bulldog rescue.

I sometimes feel like all we’re doing is sticking our fingers in the dike, while the water pours over the wall in spite of us. I can’t look at a classified ad or open my email with seeing a French Bulldog for sale at auction, or abandoned, or one who has been through unspeakable cruelty. Sometimes, I feel like all I ever write about are dead dogs, dying dogs, dogs for whom we couldn’t do enough, in time, to save their lives. Sometimes I worry that writing about dead dogs is going to make everyone who reads this blog so depressed and discouraged that they’re just going to look at that wall of water, and say ‘let it pour, I’ve done all that I can do’.

Sometimes, I worry that I’ll walk away with them.

Every once in a while, though, we all do make a difference, even if it’s just for one single dog. Take Holmes, for example.

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Cinco De Mayo

TessaTessa – Beloved now and forever.

Saying Goodbye to Lola

Occasionally, I have the great privilege of placing a dog with someone who seems to have been custom crafted for just that single, unique, particular dog.  Among dog people, we sometimes refer to that once in a lifetime dog as our ‘heart dog‘. I don’t really know of a better way to describe it – this is the dog who occupies a special place inside of our hearts. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that we don’t love all of our dogs, and it’s not even about loving that one dog more than we love the other ones (no matter how many other ones there might be).  It’s something different – something ineffable. After a while, we you’ve seen or known those two beings together, they become so enmeshed that their names almost start to run together (CharlotteHammer, comes to mind, and for me I hope it’s CarolTessa).

In this case, it was MaggieLola, or since we had more than one Lola at the time, it was usually Maggie’sLola. That wasn’t the most accurate way of putting it, perhaps – I think maybe calling her Lola’s Maggie might have made more sense to most of the people who knew them. Technically speaking, Maggie and I ‘co owned’ Lola together (formal name, Bullmarket Chiquita Lolita), but there was never any question of who Lola belonged to (and certainly not in Lola’s mind there wasn’t). On the occasions when Lola came for a visit, she behaved something like Royalty in Exile – she knew she was better than this, and she knew that soon would come the day when she was returned to her rightful Kingdom, where her loyal subject (Maggie), was waiting to pay her homage (which she was).

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A Certain Kind of Dog

When I think of Sailor, one word comes to mind – “Barking”. She was the dog who disproved my theory that “Frenchies are sensible barkers” – a theory I published on my much read, but lamentably rarely updated “French Bulldog FAQ”. If you ended up with a barking Frenchie after having read the FAQ, my condolences, but until Sailor, all of my other dogs had been sensible about barking. Not Sailor, though – for her, barking was a recreational sport, a diversionary tactic and a life long proclivity. Sailor was to barking what Tessa was to snuggling, namely: really, really good at it.

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