Browsing Tag

dog

Divorce, Guest Posts

The Perfect Blue: A Restless Bird, a Good Dog, and The End of a Marriage

April 7, 2019
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By Wendy Cohan

I drive too fast from Missoula, west through Spokane and the scablands of Eastern Washington, through the industrial maze of the Tri-Cities, along the other-worldly beauty of the Columbia Gorge and on into Portland. I drive up to our family home—painted a color that we worked so hard to choose: the perfect blue. Now, my husband and I face the task of going through our remaining belongings, separating his life from mine, over the next five days.

I’m staying at my friend’s empty house, just up the street, to limit any awkwardness and to give myself some private time and space. I play it cool: I’m helpful, generous, and not too inquisitive about his new life and new love. Although it’s difficult, I avoid playing “Do you remember?” too much. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Pets

What I Think About My Dog’s Death

August 26, 2016
dog

By John Coleman

He who understands everything about his subject cannot write it. I write as much to discover as to explain. —Arthur Miller

Two days ago at this time, wife Kathy and I sat in our living room, not watching whatever cooking program was on television. Son Micah was in the attic having a go at his electric drum set.

When I got down to the last bite of my cold breakfast sandwich, I said, “I was just going to give this to Watson.”

But rigor mortis was setting in about this time, our old buddy having received the injections that cemented our decision to euthanize him. The first shot made him snore deep in his throat. The second killed him almost immediately. Once the syringe of blue pentobarbital started to empty, I wondered how often pet owners say, “Hey, stop, wait, I changed my mind.” Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, love

Falling In Love With Flip

June 12, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Judy Kirkwood

What happens when you’re not a dog person, but you are left with a dog?

It wasn’t until my dog, Flip, was 15 years old that I realized I loved him. After my divorce, 5 years ago, I would jokingly say to my sons that Flip was my husband now. But the truth was that I had only just tolerated Flip for much of his life. I didn’t fall in love with him until he had a bad case of fleas: not the first time, not the last time, but the in-between time.

Although constant and caring, I was so detached in my relationship with Flip that until last year I believed he was a Yorkshire Terrier, even though he weighed 20 pounds. Watching a youtube Animal Planet video one night it dawned on me that Flip wasn’t a Yorkie at all, despite his bill of sale. He was a Silky Terrier. The giveaways, besides his size, were how he had always lifted up one paw in a quizzical manner when he looked at me, and how one ear often was up while the other flopped down (hence the name my younger son gave him).

In addition, I woke up one day and realized Flip was a year older than I thought. I had been so caught up in other things in my life – things I can’t reveal, except for my husband’s infidelity, which became pretty obvious – that I had lost track of Flip’s age, which was at the far end of his breed’s lifespan.

I should mention he is a handsome, dapper dog, who attracts attention even though he has an enlarged liver that makes his belly look as though it needs to be reined in with a waistcoat. I’ve always thought he should be wearing a Sherlock Holmes cap and ruminating on a small Calabash pipe, which would fit neatly in the space where he is missing his two lower front teeth. Like most dogs, he is on a mission when he is on a walk, looking for aromatic cues and clues and behaving accordingly. Everyone stops to admire him. But I never felt proprietary about his looks or charm. He was sort of a legacy pet. Mine by default. Or so I thought.

We had trouble bonding because it took so long to potty train him. We failed at crate training because he barked so much that his saliva pooled on the floor of the kennel and made it slippery plus rusted the metal grate he attacked for hours. He shredded pee pads. I had to take him to a pet therapist because he wouldn’t stop peeing and pooping in the house. He relieved himself next to her desk as she was asking me what the problem was. Although I had some success in training him with treats to go outside, which he expects every single time he potties to this day, my husband’s strategy to save our wood floors and carpeting was to train Flip to void in the concrete basement of our home. I never went down there.

A family dog for the first 10 years of his life, bought for our 10-year-old son, Flip ran around the grassy common area of our suburban home, a blur against the tree line, swing sets and sandboxes. He was so lively that he jumped back and forth, straight up like a young goat, over Magic, our lame black lab, who sat calmly for Flip’s stunts. Sometimes if Magic was off-leash (it seemed unlikely he would move far since he dragged his back legs on the ground when he tried to run), Flip would spirit him through the woods into the next subdivision or down the railroad tracks. Flip came back while Magic usually ended up in a ditch until someone called thinking he had been hit by a car and we picked him up. Once Magic died, Flip became more aggressive with other dogs so I really couldn’t let him off the leash too often to fly around our big yard.

While I fed Flip and let him in and out all day, he took long evening walks with the man of the house. I appreciated the break from doggie care until I found out that those leisurely walks with Flip were an opportunity for my husband to talk on his secret phone with his girlfriend.

When we separated after a 35-year marriage I decided to move away from my Midwest home and start over in the small Florida town where my younger son had relocated. My soon-to-be ex had no desire to be burdened with a dog while ironing out his relationship problems with the other woman. Drained and empty, I didn’t know if I could afford to take care of Flip either financially or emotionally. I thought about putting him up for adoption. But with behavior problems and, of course, his inconsistent pottying how could I be sure he would not be mistreated by a stranger?

In the end, I packed him in the car along with the few things I was taking from my old life. For the first few months, Flip and I had a gypsy existence. First I stayed on a farm in Georgia while I helped an author write a book. Because there were a number of rescue dogs running around the house, all female, which made Flip want to constantly mark his territory, I spent the days with Flip tethered to my belt as if I were Mother Superior and I had a very long rosary dragging the floor with a dog at the end of it. Then I stayed with friends and family whose allergies or own pets made it imperative to board Flip at different kennels.

Back on the road, Flip was my steady companion in a changing landscape. We were on a journey together and he rose to the occasion, holding his bladder during an interminable traffic jam outside of Atlanta, and not barking when I left motel rooms to search for food for us.

As I was cobbling together a new life in Florida, Flip had a terrible bout with fleas. I’d never met a flea and suddenly they were crawling all over my animal. I was more worried about me getting fleas than about Flip having them. I got rid of them, but saw Flip as a flea carrying host whose silky hair was a golden meadow for creepy things I didn’t want close to me.

The next time Flip got fleas was less of a panic. I knew it was normal in Florida. Against my space being contaminated by a chemical bomb that might exacerbate my asthma and his panting and wheezing, I chose to comb and bathe him faithfully, with the addition of dog flea pharmaceuticals. Every day I spent hours attending to the little devils that hopped around in his hair making him bite himself. I was as devoted to grooming him as any ape, chimp, or monkey mother. As an old dog, age 15, his skin was covered with benign tumors under his hair and I had to be careful not to scratch their surface and make them bleed. I felt so sorry for him I gave him little massages, listening to him groan, sigh, and cluck like the gray squirrels on our morning walks. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Humor, Self Love

Self Love and The Police.

December 22, 2014

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By Natan Baruch.

I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror.

“Fuck,” I said. I didn’t even think I was speeding. I pulled to the shoulder and rolled down the window. An officer approached.

“License and registration, please,” he said. I handed them over. “Hmm,” he said. “Do you know what the problem is?”

“No,” I said. “I’m afraid I don’t.”

“You’re being a dick to yourself,” said the officer. “I’m gonna have to give you a complement. I love your hair. Is that a recent cut? And here, have a Warhead. Black cherry. Your favorite.”

I lifted my hand and he dropped the candy into my palm.

“Didn’t they discontinue these in the nineties?” I asked.

“So what if they did?” said the officer. “You deserve the best.”

“Oh, I don’t know—”

“Please step out of the vehicle,” said the officer.

“What?” I said.

“Now,” said the officer.

I stepped out of the car and the officer gave me a hug. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Lost.

April 12, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Wendy Jackson.

“We lost our beloved yellow lab in January,” I heard myself tell someone the other day and I thought to myself, what am I saying? We didn’t lose her. I know right where she is. I didn’t misplace her, and she didn’t run away. I lay with her on the floor and waited for the boys to come home from school, and the vet to arrive. I stayed right by her side until her last breath. I cradled her head in my hands as my kids kissed her goodbye. I rubbed her ears while the vet gave her the injection. And I watched the life slip away from her. And when I did, I felt another tiny piece of my heart chip away. Truth be told, I did not lose her at all. She is still with me, her beautiful carved urn is right where it belongs. So no, I did not lose her.

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Nor did I lose my grandmother last year. I watched her deteriorate, wither into nothingness. I held her hand and prayed that she would fall asleep, that I would hear her breathe in, and slowly exhale for that last time. I whispered in her ear that it was okay, she did not have to fight anymore and she could go. I promised her we would be okay. I watched her body twist and contort and cease to function. I looked in her eyes when her voice could not be found anymore, and they to pleaded with me, with anyone who would listen…’let me go’. She was not lost. She was right there everyday trapped inside herself. We didn’t lose her. She was stolen from us by time and age, stroke and dementia.

Today I got the call that in my heart I knew was coming. I have prayed everyday to a God I do not understand. I have focused on positive energy and love and support and none of it has been enough to save this life. I am losing my dearest friend to cancer. Burkitt’s Lymphoma. It has been an aggressive beast and shown no mercy. There is no more to be done. And there is that word again.

We are losing him.

‘Losing him’ makes it sound like we didn’t pay attention for one second and he was gone-that we were irresponsible with him. We were watching him, I swear! I watched him very carefully six months ago almost to the day, when he said ‘I do’ to his soul mate. I watched him dance and laugh on that day, and it was beautiful. I have known him since I was 13 and I can tell you that he is a rare soul. He has a kind heart. He is one of those people that has lived authentically, honestly. He has been good since the day I met him. To see him happy and at peace with his two girls and this new woman in his life was right. It was as it should be. This is not the way his story should end.

But now we are losing him. And losing him sounds as if we might find him once again, like he just stepped out and one day when we least expect it, he will appear. That perhaps someday when our hearts are healed and we are walking down a crowded street, we will see his face. But that is a lie. We will not. He will be gone from us forever. It is not going to be like the soap operas, where months will pass and we will hear he was really on some mysterious island and he will show up again. There is no ‘lost child’ kiosk that we can run to and ask that his name to be shouted over a loudspeaker. We will not find him.

I lost her. We are losing him. It is a lie. He is dying and it will be final.

Is ‘lost’ the only word that captures the feeling of emptiness that is descends on you when someone so cherished ceases to exist? The hollow that you feel in the pit of your stomach when you know it is forever? Who decided this? Do I feel lost now, so far away from him, too far to say goodbye or hold his hand or whisper don’t leave us? Does he feel lost already, far away in his mind, drifting away on painkillers and unable to find his way back to the last time he felt good? Is lost the only word that sums up all of those emotions, and then some? It hardly seems like a big enough word and I can certainly come up with countless others to describe the fragile state of my heart right now. I can only wish it were lost-perhaps then I would not notice it is breaking. Lost feels like it mocks the situation. It makes me want to look for the word ‘found’ and that is cruel. Lost just sounds too small, like it cannot possibly hold all that I am feeling right now, or all the tears that I have cried today and will surely cry tomorrow.

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My name is Wendy Jackson and I am a mom, a wife, a sister, daughter and friend. I have been a volunteer, a Realtor, an office manager, dental assistant, courier, marketing consultant, a photographer’s assistant and a few other things in my life! I just recently added ‘blogger’ to the list. I love a good laugh, a house full of people, a great craft beer (or two), a bold red wine and a book or movie of any kind. Good, bad or otherwise! You can find me at www.startingwritenow.com.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

Guest Posts, healing, loss, love

What My Dog’s Death Taught Me.

November 22, 2013

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

By Amy Roost.

Last week, my husband and I took our 13-year old yellow lab, Tiki, to the veterinarian…for the last time.

Ever since she’d been diagnosed with bladder cancer a few months ago, I’d been bargaining with God (I’m not religious, mind you). First, I asked God to allow Tiki to survive until I got back from a trip to Toronto. She survived. Then I asked God to allow her to survive until my oldest son came home from college for fall break. She survived. Most recently, I asked that she be allowed to survive until Christmas when my younger son was due to return home. But as her steady decline quickened its pace it was clear I’d bargained all my chips away and there would be no Christmas miracle. So I changed tactics and selfishly began praying that she would die peacefully in her sleep so that I wouldn’t have to put her down. But she didn’t die in her sleep. Why would she?   Even if her body was was no longer working for her, she loved life too much to give up. But signs that the inevitable was near were there no matter: The click, click, click of her nails as she paced across the the slate tiles in our home woke me night after night; and the fur around her eyes turned dewy as if she was suffering from a fever. And then, despite all my magical thinking and best attempts at praying, she let us know with one large pool of blood-filled urine that there was precious little life left to wring from her body.

My husband and I spread sheets in the back the car and lifted her onto the seat. We drove to her favorite bridle path where we thought we’d take her for a short walk before heading to the vet’s office. However, as soon as she picked up the scent of that old familiar trail, her nostrils flared and she caught her last second wind. We walked nearly a mile, further than she’d walked since 2010 when she blew out her knee chasing a raccoon across our deck. We passed by a corral where we used to stop every day and feed the horses carrots. I clicked my tongue and a black and white mare left her feeding trough to come greet us. I had nothing to offer her and thought as soon as she realized I was empty handed she’d go back to her supper. Instead, perhaps sensing something, she raised her muzzle over the fence and placed it on my shoulder. Leaning the side of her head against my face she breathed a warm, soft exhale onto my cheek and neck. I surrendered into this beast’s tender embrace of my sorrow.

The mare then did something even more unexpected. She raised her head back over to her side of the fence and bent down to where Tiki’s own muzzle was poking through the chain links. She touched her nose to Tiki’s through the fence. Just like God’s finger reaching out for Adam’s, she seemed to communicate, one animal to another, “take this moment, this beauty with you to the other side so that you may remember how good life was.”

Several dog-loving friends advised me to arrange for a home euthanasia but unlike other dogs, Tiki never seemed to mind doctor’s visits. Besides, I’ve been taking my pets to see Dr. Singh since 1997, and he and and his staff were extended family to me.  We were greeted with a sad smile from the receptionist, and Tiki was escorted to her usual examining room. She stood patiently while the doctor felt her bladder. He confirmed we were doing the right thing. As he and his assistant led Tiki out the  exam room to go place the catheter in her leg, my husband silently reached over and took my hand. I sat still, attempting a breathing technique I’d learned from years of practicing yoga, hoping it would help me through what was about to go down.

The assistant returned with Tiki and spread a fleece blanket on the floor. She and I knelt down and Tiki obediently followed my guide to lie down. The doctor came back into the room with two needles, the first containing a general anesthetic, the second a large dose of phenobarbytal which would stop Tiki’s heart. He placed the first needle into the catheter and began squeezing the pink fluid into Tiki’s vein. I thought to myself, “it’s not too late, I can still change my mind!”. Instead I simply cradled Tiki’s head as it slowly descended to the floor. Just as the assistant had warned me, her eyes did not close. I couldn’t bare to watch as Dr. Singh inserted the second needle but I knew he had because Tiki’s amber-speckled, soulful brown eyes began to cloud over. I said aloud to no one in particular, “the eyes are the window to the soul”. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the doctor place his stethescope on Tiki’s chest and listen.

Some time later, a few seconds, an hour–who knows?–I heard the doctor whisper, “That’s it”. With his words, I exhaled, realizing I too had stopped breathing (not exactly the breathing technique I’d been angling for). The room then fell silent and Tiki’s spirit–as evidenced by her fully occluded eyes-left the auditorium.

For the rest of this story, you’ll have to scoot over here a little closer.

Closer still. As if I’m your mother on her deathbed about to whisper my parting words of wisdom. Yes, it’s that important.

Okay. That’s good. Now, listen up:

No one ever waited for an envelope to arrive in the mail. No long-distance lover. No warrior’s child. No one.

What we wait for is the letter. Not the envelope.

As I looked upon Tiki’s motionless blonde fur; her barrel-chested body that once bounded through high chaparral in search of rabbits; as I looked at her sweet face that never growled at the hi-jinks of our two-year-old grandson or winced at the pain I know she’d suffered most recently–what I understood, and internalized for the first time, was that our bodies are the envelope, not the letter.  What made Tiki who she was, a sweet-natured, strong-willed, immensely loving, loyal and constant companion was NOT her body, the envelope, but rather what was inside the envelope. Her spirit…the letter.

You. Yes, YOU. The person sitting right next to me. You are not your Louis Vitton purse, your Brooks Brothers suit, your BMW, your tinted mascara, your low lights, your perfectly sculpted abs or your bulging pecs. That’s all envelope. Okay, so maybe your envelope is velum, or embossed or made of artisan handmade paper. Or maybe it got lost in the mail and your envelope is crumpled and stained around the edges. I don’t know and I don’t care. What the people who know you love, what they enjoy, what they crave, what they will miss when you are gone is the letter. The contents. The meaning. The spirit. The YOU.

 1328_1023322255733_9486_nHer multi-dimensional suchness, Amy Roost, is a freelance writer, book publicist, legal and medical researcher, and vacation rental manager. She and her husband are the authors of “Ritual and the Art of Relationship Maintenance” due to be published later this year in a collection entitled Ritual and Healing: Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories of Transformation (Motivational Press). Amy is also Executive Director of Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO) which offers geriatric yoga teacher certification, and provides yoga instruction to underserved seniors. Click here to connect with Amy.

 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being.  Click photo to book.   "Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing. She listens. She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you. Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening. And what her kind of listening does is simple: It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book.
“Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.
She listens.
She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.
Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.
And what her kind of listening does is simple:
It saves lives.” ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!