Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

In honor of Sylvia Day

I just had my annual little cry for Sylvia Day, when I pay special tribute to my first fur baby. (It’s not as though her memory is neglected the other 364 days of the year – I have pictures of her all around my house and her ashes are on my mantle in a lovely little purple piece of pottery.) I recognize that I get super attached to my dogs, and not everyone can relate, but they are my family, and I’m glad I decided to make a little holiday to remember Syl-beast. I read through all the emails and notes people sent me when she died, and it makes me sad, but also happy, to go back in time and remember her funny little quirks and what an awesome friend she was to so many. And I wear the necklace Kristin gave me as a token of healing.  I even got a card in the mail today from Ann Trina. I can’t believe it’s been six years. Bittersweet traditions.

I always post pictures of Sylvia on Facebook on her day, and it’s funny to me to see who mistakes her for Ruby, my current companion, but I get it. I don’t have a lot of pictures of Sylvia, at least not compared to camera-savvy Ruby who is a social media icon. But I do have a handful of lovely portraits of Syl and me from a fortuitous event right before it was too late, and it’s one of the memories I always pause on.

My then-husband had an opportunity through work for us to pose for a portrait photography class. It was an interesting deal in that they needed test models to practice on, so it was free and you got all the pictures and some of them were great and some were not. We had a time in the future we were scheduled for, and then Sylvia got sick and one of his coworkers asked if we wanted to swap dates with her (thank you, Carol!) so we could go sooner and take Sylvia (which was good for them too – opportunities to practice with kids and dogs were important). At first I thought maybe it was silly, and then I was uncertain if I wanted to subject her to it – I wanted things to be easy for my dog, and I wasn’t sure if it would stress her out. In the end we went, and I’m so thankful for that, because we got some beautiful pictures and it was a lovely moment captured.

And it was a nice respite, too. I was devoting pretty much all my energy to caring for and worrying over my dog, and this was a family outing where nobody knew anything was amiss. The students and instructor were great and Sylvia worked her charms on everyone as usual. Sometimes she cooperated and posed, but at one point she got up and walked around the room and greeted all her paparazzi one by one. They loved it. I found out after the fact that I was wrong, they did know she was dying, they just had the kindness and grace not to say anything to us, and for some reason that moves me every time I think about it. They gave us some normal.

One week to the day after our session, she was gone. Gone, but not forgotten. Never forgotten, sweet Sylvie-girl. You and our other furry friends live on forever in our hearts. And I’m so grateful that I have some pictures of my beautiful, wily girl.


2008-03-18 18.36.19-1




Ah yes, the art of trying to get your dog to hold still, look up, and act casual. 🙂


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I like winter, and I’m not sorry

If you think this post is about you, it’s not. And it is. It’s not directed at any one person or interaction, it’s based on weeks of everybody.

I am a Midwestern girl. I have lived here my entire life, and I like it. I understand the appeal of living someplace with perfect weather all year long, but I sincerely mean it when I say I wouldn’t want to live someplace where we didn’t have all four seasons.

And I really do love winter. I love snow. LOVE. And in case you live under a rock or are from a different country, it has been quite the winter this year. We’ve had a lot of snow. We’ve had some periods of extremely cold temperatures. And we’ve had A LOT of snow. Yes, so much that it merits being mentioned twice. And as far as I’m concerned, this is the best winter we’ve had in years! Usually we don’t get much snow, or it doesn’t last very long. Not this year. I was out yesterday morning shoveling the almost one foot of new snow and I was struggling to figure out where to put it. The mounds lining my sidewalks are already so tall that it was quite an effort to launch more snow onto or over them. I’m thinking of putting in a ski lift on the biggest one. I was exhausted when I was finished. And I felt great. A few hours later Ruby Dogwonkafonka and I went for a walk around the neighborhood.  Sidewalks weren’t clear and we traipsed through some stretches with snow almost to the top of my boots. We slipped and slid walking in the middle of the street, where ice was the layer beneath the snow. I almost wiped out multiple times. We had a blast.

Winter is a big adventure.  That’s my outlook.

And even though I don’t think I should have to defend my affection for the season, I will acknowledge that I have a good gig working from home, and that it makes it easier to love the snow when I’m not required to drive in it every day. I’m not opposed to driving in it though – I sometimes have a weather-be-damned attitude that causes me to venture out when perhaps it isn’t the smartest move. (I do this much less often now that I don’t have AWD or 4WD.) Getting the car out of my alley is usually the biggest challenge; if I can do that, I’m good to go.

Here’s what I don’t understand.

Why are people so angry with me for liking winter? Because they sure seem to be.  At the very least, they act like I’m crazy and that there’s something wrong with it.

I don’t understand people who like heat and humidity, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re wrong. We’re just different. It’s kind of like being a morning person versus a night owl. One isn’t better than the other. We’re just different. And as with many things in life, you don’t choose which you are, you just are what you are.

So let’s make a deal. You don’t have to like winter, but please stop trying to squelch my fun. If I get excited when more snow is in the forecast, remember that my glee doesn’t actually cause the snow.  I’m sorry you are cold and miserable. Get better socks.

And now, a list! Things I love about snow and winter!

  • A fire in the fireplace. Nothing is cozier or homier. And it might include s’mores.
  • Fuzzy socks.
  • The way fresh snow sparkles in the sun.
  • Watching dogs romp in the snow. Sylvia freaking loved snow. She would run like a maniac around the yard and dip her head to lap some into her mouth without breaking stride. She would stick her entire head into a snowbank. Dogs and snow make me happy.
  • Warm blankies, some of which I might’ve actually made myself.
  • The really beautiful socks and scarf I bought in Ireland. The socks are super warm and I would never be able to wear those without cold weather. My feet would explode otherwise.
  • My new purple coat.
  • Hot chocolate. Maybe with booze.
  • The way my dog sleeps smashed up against me when she’s cold.
  • My amazing red mittens that keep your hands warm and dry EVEN IF YOU DUNK THEM IN A BUCKET OF WATER.
  • Deciding to spend the day sitting inside wrapped in a blanket reading a good book. Or watching a favorite movie. Or napping.
  • Homemade chili.
  • Shoveling. Yes, I enjoy shoveling. I find it satisfying.
  • Karma points earned by shoveling for a neighbor.
  • The camaraderie and neighborliness of people helping each other get cars dug out, unstuck, etc. This happens a lot in neighborhoods where you have lots of on-street parkers.
  • Turning the heat up one degree higher on a really cold day.
  • The way the world looks after a wet snow when everything is coated and beautiful.
  • Snowmen, snow angels, snow forts.
  • Going for a walk while it’s snowing, and everything seems extra quiet and still.
  • Snow days! (I get it, we’ve had a lot of them this year.)
  • The fact that snow isn’t rain. 38 degrees and rainy is probably the most miserable weather I can imagine.

And as usual, Frazz gets me. 🙂



ps….I wrote this yesterday; today I got my car stuck trying to pull into the alley to get to my garage. Really stuck. Four strangers with shovels dug and pushed and dug some more and pushed and finally got me dislodged. And this does not change any of the above. All part of the adventure! Thank you, strangers!! 🙂

Who needs brown paper packages tied up with string when you have self-sealing envelopes?

A while back I posted a list of things that drive me crazy. Lest you think I’m a supercrab who only focuses on the negative, I thought perhaps we should have an equally obscure list of things that I adore beyond reason.  Let’s call it….

Things that make me unreasonably happy and sometimes I go on at great length about how much I love them:

  • Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate forever envelopes. Delivered to my home, for free. Or maybe they charge $1 to deliver, I’ve lost track, but still totally worth it for my work-from-home set up.  All I have to do is stuff them full, address them, and leave them outside my house for Mailman to pick up. Postage never expires. No waiting in lines. No fake nuns.  Woot!
  • Dropbox – It’s perfect for file sharing for work, since we’re in different locations. It’s perfect for volunteer work where people need access to the same documents. It’s perfect for accessing random crap from my phone, when I’m nowhere near my computer, like the list I made of movies that I used to own but no longer do but would like to again, in case I see one in a bargain bin somewhere. It’s perfect for everything. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to use. My mom was telling my about a medical emergency her husband had a few weeks ago (he’s fine, I promise) and in the story she had to leave the hospital to go home to email someone a document. My immediate reaction was, “I need to show you how to use Dropbox”.
  • Self-sealing envelopes. I know it probably seems that I’m obsessed with mail. I’m not. But I do like mail, and I do NOT like the taste of envelope glue. Plus, you know, George Costanza’s fiancée Susan. But mostly I can’t believe it took so long for someone to come up with these and now that they exist I appreciate the crap out of them.
  • Shazam. An app on my phone can listen to a few seconds of music and tell me what song it is and who sings it? THAT SHIT IS AMAZING! For this reason alone I consider my smartphone a worthwhile investment.
  • My scarf from Ireland. 3Names and I spent a marvelous week traipsing around and all I knew was I wanted to bring home some piece of knit something. I looked at loads of sweaters, but they were all big, bulky-looking affairs that aren’t my style and probably would have made me spontaneously combust. One day we were in a little shop on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, where it’s literally like going back in time. In amongst some of the more typical souvenir-type items, I found a lovely, soft, colorful knit scarf, long enough to wrap around my neck twice when it’s really cold. The tag said it was hand-made in Ireland. Was this a trap for a gullible tourist? Ha! When I took it to the clerk to pay she said, “Oh, my neighbor Maggie made this.” I wear the crap out of it, but gently, so as to extend its lifespan, and when someone comments on it, I get all happy-like.
  • Fuzzy Blankie, capitalized because that’s its name, not just a description. Fuzzy Blankie was a gift from Sunshine a few years ago and it turned me into Linus. It’s warm. It’s soft. It’s fluffy. It’s comforting. It’s soft. (It’s so soft it deserves to be mentioned twice.) It’s white, and somehow, miraculously, the Queen of Spill (that would be me) has managed to keep it remarkably clean. Dogs are not allowed to lie on it.  Fuzzy Blankie is always there for me when I need it.
  • Compliments from strangers. No explanation required.
  • When Ruby Dogwonkafonka sticks her face right up in mine and burps. I know that sounds disgusting. Ok, it is disgusting. But it makes me laugh every time. Partly because it seems so deliberate, and she never looks sorry. And her timing is impeccable.
  • This one set of hand-me-down sheets that my dad gave me. I have no idea why he didn’t want them anymore. (I know exactly why he didn’t want them anymore; they didn’t match his décor.) They are so soft and comfy that they have made all other sheets completely inferior. I am on a quest to find something that will be their equal, but so far I haven’t found anything. Or anything that I can afford. But. I. Will.
  • This video. I am not sure how many times I have watched it, but I would guess it’s in the neighborhood of 36,284 times. I think it’s hilarious. (FYI, you’re only committing to a minute and thirty-eight seconds of your life if you click the link.)
  • The infamous rainbow shower head.  
  • This blog post. It makes me laugh my ass off. After Beyoncé, it’s the thing I’m most committed to getting the entire world to read.

    He totally goes with the chair with the missing leg, no?

    He totally goes with the chair with the missing leg, no?

  • Tomás, the colorful metal t-rex Klondike gave me for Christmas. Whose boyfriend is better than mine? Come ON, I have a t-rex in my freakin’ living room.  (My style is, um,eclectic.)
  • My next door neighbors, Jim & Phyllis. They give me vegetables from their garden and chili and baked goods from their kitchen. They let me borrow tools and ladders and a power washer. They keep an eye on me. And my house. And my dog. In a nice, neighborly fashion, not a Gladys Kravitz way.
  • Crack cookies. They don’t actually call them that at The Fresh Market, but they should. They actually call them something like Heath bar cookies, and they are stupid delicious. I make people eat them so I can get them to concede that they are, in fact, freaking amazing.

As said when the other, negative list concluded, this is not all-encompassing at all. It’s just my version of Maria von Trapp’s raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. (When did this blog become so full of nuns??)  Personally I think my list is a little better than hers, but she had to deal with Nazis so I’ll cut her some slack.

I would suck as a human mom.

Note: Feel free to skip this post if you’re not a dog person.  

Also note: I am human. I recognize the title might suggest otherwise.

One more note: I’m assuming you already know I’m one of those people who is freakishly attached to her dog. Or I guess I’m not assuming it, since I just spelled it out for you. She’s my best pal and I pity my friends for the aftermath when she goes to doggie heaven someday.  

A few weeks ago Ruby Dogwonkafonka got her teeth cleaned, and while they had her knocked out the vet removed a little wart on her side. I was angsty – I get angsty anytime my dog has a procedure requiring general anesthesia – but everything went well. Growth was nothing to worry about, dog came through just fine, improved breath – all good. All we had to do was make it through the healing process and we’d be rocking and rolling.

The first couple of days went great – I could tell a few times she wanted to scratch or nip at the stitches, I could literally see the internal conflict, but catching my eye always brought about the right reaction of leaving the incision alone.  Saturday morning I left her alone for the first time. Not unattended for the first time – she’d had plenty of solitude hanging outside in the yard. First time fully alone.

A few hours later when I returned….gack. Stitches were gone. And for the Queen of Squeamish, I thought I was going to pass out when I saw the hole in my dog’s side. (There wasn’t really a hole, exactly. But definitely an open wound.)  Gah. I was also terrified of what kind of hideous pools of blood must have been waiting for me inside the house.


Like, really, a lot.

The dog was all, “I know I did something bad but I could not be less concerned about the hole in my side can I go out and play and get away from your crazy?”

Further investigation throughout the house revealed….nothing. I don’t know how she did it, but my dog opened up her wound without getting any blood anywhere in my house. Either that, or she did some serious cleaning. Whichever, good dog.

When I called the vet, they didn’t seem nearly as wigged out – apparently this kind of thing happens. This had a calming effect on me. What did not have a calming effect was taking the dog back to get replacement staples. I had to exit the exam room and rock in the lobby covering my ears while they did it, and I still almost melted down when the sound of Ruby yelping made it past the less-than-effective earhandmuffs.  

We left the vet’s office and went straight to PetSmart so we could implement the Zero Freedom Act of 2013, aka the Cone of Shame. Fortunately, my friend Liz had mentioned an alternative to the satellite dish version and I quickly ponied up 3x the money for a more comfy looking style. It basically looks like a neck pillow you would wear on a transatlantic flight, and it was totally worth it.

See how happy she looks? yeah, reality had not set in yet.

See how happy she looks? Yeah, reality had not set in yet.


Definitely less amused now.

Definitely less amused now.

I have to say, the dog was a trooper, but I was a pretty big stress case for the better part of a week while we established our groove. Week two was better. Then the staples came out (another horrific experience that left me shaking after they made me hold her while they removed them – I mentioned I’m squeamish, right?), we kept the collar on for a few extra days, and then the first time she got the chance, she went for the wound, the little shit. Now almost a month later, we seem to be in the clear. The incision has almost completely healed and fur is growing back. 


Which brings me to my original thought. How do you people with actual little humans do this shit? Kids must get hurt and/or require medical attention roughly 92 billion times more often than dogs. I don’t want to get so used to blood and grossness that it doesn’t make me freak out, because that means I would be seeing A LOT of blood and grossness and omg just no. But also the watching of the misery and suffering when your wee one is sick or hurt. Gah. I don’t think I could deal.

Please note, this is not to suggest this is the only reason it’s good that I’m not a parent. There are many, and I’m sure we’ll revisit the topic in the future. And there are also maybe four reasons I would have been a rockin’ mom. For now, though, I’m just going to breathe a sigh of relief that this episode is behind us and my fur baby is almost whole again. 🙂

ruby after

“My bald patch needs to grow back but at least I’m FREE!!!! Except holy crap, why does it look like I have no legs in this picture??”


My dad lies.

I thought I shared this story with you a while ago. Apparently I did not.   Klondike & I took a day trip somewhere, and I asked my dad to come by and feed the pack and let them out. (Klondike brings his two dogs up when he comes.) This conversation took place the next day…..after Dad’s report that all the dogs behaved nicely and ate their food immediately upon being presented with it.


Me: You are so busted. Did you bring over cottage cheese (to stir into the kibble) when you came to feed the dogs?

Dad: No.

Me: Ohhhh, hahahahaahahaha! We found a spoon in the dish drainer and neither one of us had used it for anything so I thought maybe that was where it came from, and that that was how you got all the dogs to eat right away. Hahahahahaha!


Dad: Tuna

Me: What?

Dad: I didn’t use cottage cheese. I used tuna.

Me: Um.

Dad: I had some tuna I didn’t like so I stirred a little bit into the dogs’ food and they all ate as soon as I put the bowls down.

Oh, my dad. He thinks he’s so funny.

Sometimes I do, too. 😉

The pack

The pack

Barky Anniversary!

See that lovely girl over there in my picture?  ——->

The furry one? That’s Ruby.

She is the funniest little dog, overflowing with personality. And today is our anniversary. Two years ago, my friend Sue sent me yet another doggie personal ad. I had told her I might be ready to start looking for my next canine companion, and she had been relentlessly sending me doggie porn, but nothing had sparked my interest until I saw Ruby Tuesday. She was fluffy (one of my requirements) and totally smiling for the camera. I decided I should go take a look, so I rounded up my dad for a second opinion, and we headed off to the shelter.

She was sitting quietly in her kennel, watching, waiting. I asked if I could meet her, and she was a total doll. Smaller than I thought I was looking for, but cute as shit and super friendly. She had been abandoned at the shelter so they didn’t know much about her, but she appeared to have been well cared for. I was smitten.

“I want her.”

At the shelter

The nice people at the shelter explained that the people who had been there right before me wanted her, too. They have this kind of odd system where they make you call and leave a message the next morning to say if you really want to adopt. The people had to call by 10am if they wanted her. I could do the same thing, and be second in line. Great. I went home and tried not to get my hopes up. The next morning, I called and left a message indicating that I was still interested.

And I waited.

I thought I should hear within an hour or so if I was going to get her. An hour passed and my spirits started to sink. Of course the other people wanted her – why wouldn’t they?

When my phone rang a little after 11, I figured they were calling to let me know Ruby Tuesday had been adopted. Instead, they told me that the family ahead of me was planning on adopting both a dog and a cat, but when they found out someone else wanted Ru, they decided just to adopt the cat so I could have the sweet doggie. I almost started crying. We were meant to be.

“You can pick her up at 4.”

What ha?? That day? Going to see her was a total whim. I wasn’t prepared for a dog – no leash, collar, food, treats, bowls, toys! But no sweat, I had five hours.

I think we were both a little anxious when we made the drive home that afternoon. You never know what you’re getting into with a new dog. Hell, I didn’t even know conclusively if she was housebroken (she was). I let her sniff around the yard a little, then took her inside to give her the grand tour. She wasted no time making herself at home, immediately jumping on my bed with an expression on her face that said, “So obviously this is where I sleep. Would you like to join me?”

We spent the next several days settling into our new life together. I was concerned. I’d had a really special bond with Sylvia, my prior dog, and Ruby was so different from her; I wasn’t sure I was going to fall head over heels.

Silly self.

I am powerless to resist the fur babies.

Seriously. I am the cutest.

In no time at all she had me wrapped around her little paw. I can’t imagine not having my funny, snuggly, happy Ruby girl. There will be more Ruby stories another day. For today, happy anniversary, sweet baby dog. And to the neighbors….sorry about the sometimes excessive barking.  🙂




Friday Night Bliss



That is the sound of me, sitting on the couch. Ruby Dogwonkafonka is at the other end of the couch. We just ate a delicious cupcake (ok, I ate it, she licked the plate). “Catch Me If You Can” is starting on TBS. I have had my jammies on since 6 pm. Snuggled up with the laptop. It is Friday night. And this is perfect.

There was a time when I would have been mortified by this scenario. Home, alone, on a Friday night??? What’s wrong with me??? Lately, though, Friday evenings have become a cherished opportunity for ME time. I can work a little later (which I like – tonight I was in my office till almost 7) and still have plenty of time to make dinner (ha ha), relax, watch a movie, read, blog, whatever I want, without the tick tock of the clock hanging over my head on a “school night” when I feel pressure to go to bed at a semi-reasonable time. (Run-on sentence much, Wonkafonka?) (Yeah, I just made “run-on sentence” into a verb. Cuz I’m talented like that. And I now think I have more parentheticals in this post than, um…..non-parentheticals?)

I originally had plans tonight with Sunshine and Mourtney, but one of them is under the weather so we rescheduled. And even though I was disappointed, not having seen their lovely faces in far too long other than at the gym, part of me was secretly delighted. It has been seven weeks since I spent Friday night on the couch by myself, and I was starting to get twitchy. Everything I’ve been doing has been fun and wonderful and something I wanted to do, but I didn’t realize how much I’d come to depend on having Friday nights to recharge and just chill the eff out.

My favorite Friday-night guilty pleasure is “Say Yes to the Dress”. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a TLC show about women shopping for their wedding dress. The original is at an expensive boutique in NYC, the spin-off at an expensive boutique in Atlanta. And tonight’s spin-off of the spin-off, shopping for bridesmaid dresses at the Atlanta store.  It’s ridiculous how much I love this show. I think I like it because it makes me feel sane; the kinds of crazy this show exposes are plentiful. Here’s a sampling from tonight. A bride was having her seven-year-old sister as her maid of honor, and another sister, age 25, as a bridesmaid. The 25-year-old was being a total wench because she wanted to wear a strapless dress, even though, hi, a 7-year-old doesn’t have anything to hold up a freakin’ strapless dress. Another bride had eight million bridesmaids who had all agreed they wanted a dress <$200. The bride identified the dress she loved, and the maids pitched a fit because it was SIX DOLLARS over budget.  Six. Dollars. Maybe two coffees at Starbucks. And for that, you’re going to be pissy to someone you’re close enough to that you agreed to stand up in her wedding, and you’re going to throw this tantrum in front of a TV camera no less? Yeah, you make me feel pretty balanced. 🙂  I never want to admit that I watch it (until now, apparently) but inevitably something so cuckoo happens that I can’t keep it to myself and I have to text Mourtney to rant about it. Which makes her question why I don’t change the channel. But it’s Train Wreck Syndrome – can’t look away!

Fortunately, about as many episodes as they air in one sitting is about as much brainless time that I need before I can move onto something more engaged, like blogging. Or sleeping.   Which I will be doing shortly.


She was the best dog in the whole world.

I know. Everyone probably thinks that about his or her dog. But mine really was. And if you ever spent any time with her, she might have convinced you.

I have always loved dogs. And I think they like me too – most of them, anyway. When I was growing up we had an Irish Setter, Kelly.  She adored my father, knew my mother was the one who really took care of her, and seemed ok with my sister and me. We got her when I was four, and she died when I was 17, doing a nice job filling the house with dog the entire time we were growing up.

College and the years immediately after weren’t the time to have a dog. Too transient. Apartment living and frequent moving. But when I returned to my hometown to settle down, I was on the prowl for a dog. A dog, not a puppy. I had moved in with my mom, and started a new job, and training a puppy wasn’t in the master plan. Thus began Wendy’s Dog Quest. I read the classified ads. Visited the animal shelters. I wasn’t in a hurry. I wanted to find my dog, who I knew was out there.

One day in December 1996, I picked up Peddler’s Post.

“Collie – female, 2 years old, spayed. 260.555.1212”

That was it, that was all it said. But I swear, when I read that ad, I thought to myself “this is it, that’s my dog”. Two years old was perfect. I’ve always liked collies. Good size, nice & fluffy. Who wouldn’t want someone like Lassie around to save the day?  I called the number and spoke to the man (Cleo) who was running the ad. He wasn’t around much to take care of her. He wanted to find a better situation for her.

My dad and boyfriend (now ex-husband) and I drove out to the town where he lived to check things out. The dog that greeted us as we got out of the car was nice enough, but where was the collie? This dog looked like maybe someone in her family tree lived next door to a collie at one point, but calling her a collie was a stretch. But apparently this was the dog we had come to meet: Sylvia. She lived outdoors; I wanted an inside dog. Hmm…wonder how that would fly. She was filthy. A little…not skittish, exactly. Uncertain, maybe. Wary. We gave her a dog biscuit and she took it, but she simply held it in her mouth and kept an eye on things. Was this my dog? “She has friendly eyes,” my dad said.

Cleo told me I could take her, and if it didn’t work out I could bring her back. He’d rather keep looking for the right home for her. Seemed pretty risk free. What the hell, let’s give it a try. I was about to leave town for the holidays, so I arranged to come get her when I returned on New Year’s Eve.

Cleo cried when I came to take her away. I felt horrible. But the truth was, he was saving her life. (We’ll get to that.) And he gave me a bag of kibble. Told me she didn’t really like it, but that what she did like was a little hamburger fried up with some garlic salt. Well sure! No wonder she wasn’t eating the kibble – the dog’s not stupid! (A statement repeated often over the next 11+ years.)

I took her home to Mom’s, but she was a mess. Beyond dirty. Incredibly thick coat of fur since she’d been living outside. And I had no idea what she would do when I took her in the house. So for the first couple of nights we confined her to the garage or the kitchen, until I could get her groomed, and determine if she was housebroken. Mom was a total sport. She never said a word about this previously outdoor dog moving into her house. And you know what? She didn’t have to worry about a thing. We used to joke that when Sylvia came into the house she checked it out and thought to herself, “Heat? Carpet? Hey, I’m doing whatever it takes to keep this gig going.”  And in the blink of an eye, she became an indoor dog. The end.

Some friends came over a day or two later for a game day, and were among the first to fall under Sylvia’s charms. They didn’t object to the shocking pink lipstick in her fur (still hadn’t been to the groomer). And Miss Sylvia Dog was making herself right at home. We loaded our plates with pizza and returned to the living room. A few minutes later, Sylvia strutted in with a slice of pizza dangling from her teeth. You could almost hear her saying, “Hey guys! I’m having some too!” I don’t actually know how she got it since she wasn’t the tallest of dogs, but that was the first and last time she ever took food that wasn’t hers. She didn’t need to be told things twice; smart as a whip, she learned lessons the first time.

A trip to the groomer transformed her. My friend Joe B., who was one of the only people to see her in the “before” state, commented that he never knew a bath could make such a difference. She was beautiful. And soft as all get-out.

About that Cleo saving Sylvia’s life by finding a new home for her thing. I was devastated to discover from the vet that Sylvia had heartworm. This little creature had already stolen my heart and she was going to die. I was relieved to learn that it’s not fatal, but the treatment is difficult, similar to doggie chemo.  Our first three months together were stressful, and Sylvia was terrified of the vet her entire life. But other than scary vet visits, what followed were 11+ years of love and happiness.

Syl in her chair.

Syl-beast was crafty, wily, and stubborn. She was gun-shy, which translated to fear of any loud bang (like, say, a car door slamming), having had firecrackers thrown at her as a puppy (according to Cleo). (Two parentheticals in one sentence. Sometimes I amaze even myself.) She had adorably expressive eyebrows. She was an excellent judge of character. She was skittish about having her tail touched, because it had been broken. She didn’t stick her head out the car window, but liked to just rest the tip of her nose at the edge of the glass. Take in more smells, maybe? She was a finicky eater, and sometimes refused to eat until you sat on the floor and fed her by hand. She peed like a boy dog, lifting her leg to mark trees. She loved to play “chase”, and had awesome fake-out moves. She left dog fur tumbleweeds all over the wood floors. She loved her people, including her extended family of dog-sitting friends. She loved water, not in a jump in and swim way, but in a wade in up to her belly way. She would chomp her teeth in your face in the weirdest, non-aggressive, just making noise kind of way. She loved getting into teeny, tiny spaces, like under or behind a piece of furniture. She loved ice cream. She wouldn’t eat pretzels.  During thunderstorms, she tried to sleep on my head.

And she was soft. The softest dog ever. Seriously. People told me that All The Time. A stranger asked one day if she could pet her, then immediately turned to her husband and said, “You have to pet this dog, I can’t believe how soft she is.

Later in life Sylvia would come to work with me on a fairly regular basis, and she worked her magic there, too. The landlord turned a blind eye to my flagrant lease violation. Jerry the Mailman would get down on the floor to play and hug when she was in the office. Even Mark the FedEx Guy, who was afraid of dogs, would inquire about Sylvia’s welfare. Sales reps from vendors asked about her if she wasn’t present the day they came to call.

And though she lived a long, happy, mostly healthy life, the day came when we lost her: March 25, 2008. It was awful and one of the worst days ever, and I spent two years grieving heavily, but we’re not going to talk about that. Because today is a celebration of Syl-beast. I declared that for all time March 25 shall be Sylvia Day, when we remember the sweet, funny dog who wrapped all who met her around her paw. I was blown away by the number of kind, loving emails and cards I received from friends and family when she died. I reread them all this week, and selected two of my favorite comments to share.

“She was such a sweet dog and a great friend. I’ll miss her too.”

“We all miss her and know if there is a doggie heaven (where the streets are paved with steak and small animals run in slow motion), she’s there.”

I also found a thank you from Animal Care and Control. I had forgotten this, but apparently I donated all her toys that were in good condition. As fate would have it, I received a donation request in the mail last week from Animal Care & Control, the shelter where I found Ruby, my current loving companion and best dog in the world. It seemed appropriate to send them a gift in honor of the Sylvie Girl, so I did.

Happy Sylvia Day. Go hug your fur babies.