Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rainy days

Dear Jack.....I caught you and mom huddling together watching a Lifetime movie while it was raining outside last week..and YOU were actually watching the TV!! I hear that dogs see better with the high definition TVs! xxoo Kennedy

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guide Dog Puppies on their way to campus

Gucci is the one looking out of the basket....isn't she darling?! I hope she is headed to the Oregon campus!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Finally..can the truth be told?

Dear Jack:

The video of the Family Jogging Event is truly delightful and so fun to watch and is the #1 most watched video up here!! You were great, as well as MOST of the other dogs.

I hope now that you can work on the one issue I asked you to -- especially since it now is at least "referred to on tape"....i.e. Megan saying to Curtis and Greta..."Stay away from the hotdogs"!! Perhaps the editor of the Buck Banter will now publish the real story of what occurred that day in Sellwood Park and exonerate me from being the worst offender at a family function (when I grabbed the turkey leg at Patty & John's Thanksgiving event). As most of you do not know, cousin Greta "table danced" at Sellwood Park that day -- jumping on a picnic table of some poor, unknown family and tried to get some hot dogs. It was all hushed up...but know the truth can be told since the video is out!

Poppy and I are on our way to Ireland...all decked out in our green shamrocks!! We will take special care to make sure all goes well for Amy & Tom!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Black Pack

Dear Jack:

Poppy and I watch with much interest and delight your new morning routine at Dog Park with your black buddies -- Chumley, a large 6 month old standard schnauzer; Kate, a 1 year old Great Dane and Black Lab mix, and Bumble, a 2 year old Standard Poodle. The four of you wrestle, tumble and roll around and play together so well...sometimes you engage Kate to tug with your yellow ring and it is all so hilarious! This foursome is indeed "The Black Pack"! Once you 4 get started, it is "Annie Bar the Door"...

What a way to start the morning!

Lots of love,

From the New York Times

Dear Kennedy:

Mom thought you and others might enjoy this article from the NY Times...

Life Lessons From the Family Dog

New York Times editor Dana Jennings writes every Tuesday about coping with an advanced form of prostate cancer.

Bijou, the family dog of Times editor Dana Jennings.

Our family dog started failing a couple of months ago. Her serious health problems began at about the same time I was coping with my own — finishing my radiation and hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

Since last summer, I’ve learned that my cancer is shockingly aggressive, and the surgery, radiation and hormone treatments have left me exhausted, incontinent and with an AWOL libido. These days I’m waiting for the first tests that will tell me the status of my health.

Even so, as I face my own profound health issues, it is my dog’s poor health that is piercing me to the heart. I’m dreading that morning when I walk downstairs and … well, those of us who love dogs understand that all dog stories end the same way.

Her full name is Bijou de Minuit (Jewel of Midnight) — my wife teaches French. She is a 12-year-old black miniature poodle, and she is, literally, on her last legs. Her hind quarters fly out from beneath her, her back creaks and cracks as she walks, she limps, she’s speckled with bright red warts the size of nickels, her snore is loud and labored (like a freight train chugging up some steep grade) and she spends most of the day drowsing on her pillow-bed next to the kitchen radiator.

Bijou’s medicine chest is impressive for a 23-pound dog: A baby dose of amoxicillin for chronic urinary tract infections; prednisone and Tramadol for pain; phenobarbital for seizures; Proin for incontinence – all of it wrapped in mini-slices of pepperoni.

She is, I realize, “just” a dog. But she has, nonetheless, taught me a few lessons about life, living and illness. Despite all her troubles, Bijou is still game. She still groans to her feet to go outside, still barks at and with the neighborhood dogs, is willing to hobble around the kitchen to carouse with a rubber ball — her shrub of a tail quivering in joy.

I know now that Bijou was an important part of my therapy as I recovered from having my prostate removed. I learned that dogs, besides being pets, can also be our teachers.

Human beings constantly struggle to live in the moment. We’re either obsessing over the past (”Gee, life would’ve been different if I’d only joined the Peace Corps.”), or obsessing over the future (”Gee, I hope my 401K holds up”). We forget that life, real life, is lived right now, in this very moment.

But living in the moment is something that dogs (and cancer patients) do by their very nature. Bijou eats when she’s hungry, drinks when she’s thirsty, sleeps when she’s tired and will still gratefully curl up in whatever swatch of sunlight steals through the windows.

She’d jump up onto my sickbed last summer, nuzzle me and ask for her ears and pointy snout to be scratched. It made both of us happy as she sighed in satisfaction. And she was the subject of one of our favorite family jokes as I recuperated: “You take the dog out. I have cancer.”

In spending so much time with Bijou, I began to realize that our dogs, in their carefree dogginess, make us more human, force us to shed our narcissistic skins. Even when you have cancer, you can’t be utterly self-involved when you have a floppy-eared mutt who needs to be fed, walked and belly-scratched. And you can’t help but ponder the mysteries of creation as you gaze into the eyes of your dog, or wonder why and how we chose dogs and they chose us.

Dogs also tell us – especially when we’re sick – of our own finitude. And, partly, that’s why we cry when they die, because we also know that all human-being stories end the same way, too.

Good dogs – and most dogs are good dogs – are canine candles that briefly blaze and shine, illuminating our lives. Bijou has been here with us for the past 12 years, reminding us that simple pleasures are the ones to be treasured: a treat, a game of fetch, a nose-to-the-ground stroll in the park.

Simple pleasures. As I lazed and dozed at home last summer after surgery, there was nothing sweeter to me in this world than to hear Bijou drinking from her water dish outside my door. It was if her gentle lap-lapping ferried me to waters of healing. I’ll miss her.