Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Introducing Scout

Scout, a Jack Russell Terrier, at nine-weeks of age sitting on a blanket.

Scout joined the pack of Casey and me Saturday, April 26, 2008. He's a Jack Russell Terrier, all white, with one tiny tan spot on his neck, behind his floppy left ear. I call it a "kiss target." His paw pads are pink like the color called salmon in Crayola crayons. I'm well acquainted with his satin tongue and needle-like teeth because in the past few days, I must have reached in his mouth a hundred times to retrieve items that don't belong there--leaves, lint, litter.

And those eyes! Glossy black olives. Long white lashes. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul--he's a new soul.

Video introducing Scout (45 seconds).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Presenting Casey

Video clip of Casey running circles around the late, great Duncan at Carmel by the Sea, California, U.S.A. Video taken August 2007 (30 seconds).

Overall, my dog Casey, a West Highland White Terrier, is a kind and gentle little gal. She is somewhat athletic and has a sweet temperament. For example, she:

  • Tolerates a child's rough handling

  • Stands still when having her nails clipped

  • Climbs up the back of my chair to look out the window but won't sit on my lap

  • Loves to go "car bye bye"

  • Demands her independence

  • Thinks she a big dog

  • Holds a grudge when insulted, criticized, or scolded

  • Bolts when off leash and won't return when called

  • Requires frequent brushing because her rough coat doesn’t shed on its own

  • Gets very protective when I'm eating

  • Bites through bones like butter

  • Walks mile upon mile with her nose to the ground and tail in the air

  • Kills rats, mice, snails, flies without remorse

  • Chases cats, squirrels, geese, ducks, children with glee

  • Runs in circles like a thoroughbred at the race track

  • Swims a perfect dog-paddle stoke

  • Rolls in anything dirty, stinky, or both

  • Watches dog food commercials on TV and dog videos on YouTube

  • Barks when an animal or human approaches her territory

  • Enjoys the company of humans and canines

Casey's old-world ancestry shows in her dignified expression.

West Highland White Terriers probably suffer from inbreeding more than any other breed. As everyone knows, excessive inbreeding results in health problems, and mental and physical degeneration. Casey is from old-world stock. She's blessed with excellent genes, and a vigorous body, sound mind, and hardy spirit.

Tomorrow I fly to Colorado to pick up Scout, a Jack Russell Terrier. We'll be a pack of three again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Remembering Duncan

On March 9, 2008, after a three-month long illness, Duncan, my beloved West Highland White Terrier, died.

During the course of his illness, he lost 10 pounds. His once thick white coat became thin, stained, and soiled from skin lesions and too many runny bowel movements. Duncan stopped eating, so I fed him DogSure, a liquid food supplement, using a plastic syringe. I knew his days were numbered--I just didn't think that particular day would be his last. It started off as such a fair morning. Tiny leaves were just beginning to bud on the Japanese maple in my backyard. The sun warmed the room through the sliding glass doors. Jasmine blooms smelled so sweet.

That fateful Sunday morning, we sat together in a big, over-sized leather chair and watched Paul James the Gardener Guy on TV--just like so many times before--me sipping coffee and rubbing Duncan's head, he taking it all in. Mean while, my other dog Casey was outback, chasing birds.

After watching Paul James, I went upstairs to get dressed so I could take Duncan and Casey out for a walk. When I came back down, Duncan was lying on the floor, gasping for air. I picked him up, and thought I should perform artificial respiration, call the vet, do something heroic, but instead, I just held him close to my breast. He looked up into my eyes and wept, the way only a dog owner knows a dog can weep. I whispered in his ear, "Everything's going to be all right." Within five minutes I felt only one heart beating. Duncan was dead.

Later, my son and I took Duncan's remains to the emergency vet for cremation. What torture, standing at the counter, paying the fee to a detached cashier who had no idea how miserable I felt, missing Duncan so much I could hardly stand up, answering the cashier's silly questions though tears, sobs, and snot. "Who is your vet?" "What did your dog die from?" "Do you have pet insurance?" "Can I see your driver's license?"

Then, the vet on duty brought out on leash a bouncy, bright-white Westie that looked just like Duncan in his prime. The vet handed the leash to a woman, and said, "Here you go. Your dog's fine now." The little Westie came over and licked my shoe, looked up into my eyes and smiled, the way only a dog owner knows a dog can smile. It was a enchanting and magical moment.

The late, great Duncan (March 19, 1998-March 9, 2008) scouting around the hills he loved above Castro Valley, California, U.S.A. Photo taken April 2006.

But this blog isn't exclusively about Duncan. It's about life after Duncan. It's a forum for exploring the profundity of the dog/human bond, expressing myself, presenting my other beloved Westie Casey (born January 31, 2001), and introducing my new dog to the pack (an all white Jack Russell Terrier named Scout, born March 1, 2008). It's time to walk off the field of grief and go Scout Around!