Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For the Dogs

What a weird morning. By the time I got up and dogs were playing outside, I decided it was high time to get some work done. Maybe ten minutes went by with Bogey, specifically, barking nonstop. D and I tried to enjoy some nice hot coffee despite the barking, but when it became apparent that wasn't going to happen, he went to the door to let them in. Problem: Byz was off and running. She had somehow found her way out of the backyard and was free. D ran for his boots (did I mention we had snow last night? And it's still with us now, of course, just hanging out all over our street that never gets plowed) and I slipped on my house shoes and a long-sleeved-t-shirt. With two treats in my hand, I burst out the door and there she was: Byz running toward me from the street as I yelled out "treat!" Once she got to me, she waited at the gate while I unlatched it and forced it, frozen as it was, open. The question: How did she get out? Fi pulled on his warm coat to go outside and inspect the possibilities of her escape (an open door? broken slats? did she-please don't let it be this-jump???) and as he reached the door, we were greeted by a small tannish, short-haired dog with a collar on. "Buddy? Roberta's (neighbor) dog?" I held back our two crazy dogs while he escorted "Buddy" next door to Roberta's only to discover the dog was not, in fact hers. Right.

At this point the dog took off running through the neighborhood, again. I threw on some sneakers and a hoodie and charged out to help. A car pulled up two houses down and the driver got out and explained to us that he was the dog's owner and he was staying there in that house with his daughter for a while because his wife had just passed away. At that moment, the dog came whirring back down our street and we asked it's name which, strangely enough, was also Buddy.

"Two Buddys on one street!" I noted the irony, but neither D nor the lost-dog-owner thought it worth acknowledging.

Needless to say, we chased the dog, cornered the dog, ignored the dog, bribed the dog...did everything possible to help this man (did I mention the man is handicapped and has mechanized legs rather than real ones with which to chase this dog with?) coax Buddy back to his home, to no avail. My ears were frozen, the bottom of my pants were wet and I couldn't feel my hands by the time we decided to wait it out a bit and see if Buddy found his way home.

Just as we got settled back in the house and began to discuss our own dilemma of keeping Byz from jumping the fence again, our visiting neighbor returned to our stoop to thank us for our help and to let us know Buddy had returned home.

"Merry Christmas," D waved to the man as he headed back to his temporary house and shut the door behind him.

"His wife just died," I stated.

"She did? How do you know?"

"Cus he said it. That's why he's staying with his daughter. His wife just died."


Then his dog ran away and he already has no real legs and it's Christmas to boot. How merry could it be? I asked myself thinking of my mom and how hard Christmas is without her mother this year. He didn't even know us and he told us his wife died. I wondered if he just felt like he really needed to say it. Out loud to someone. Anyone. But, at the same time, he seemed ok.

I remember a time when I was so sad that if my dogs had run away, I'm not sure I would've had the strength or energy to go after them. I'm not sure I would've thought I provided a better life or family or home for them than the wilderness could. And I didn't even really have a reason to be so sad-no deaths, no loss of life or limb, no anything to explain it beyond chemical reactions. Yet, there he was, a recent widower running around as best he could through snowbanks after a spritely five-year-old dog he named Buddy. There he came, knocking on our door to thank us for our help and to let us know Buddy had come home. There he'd be, when his daughter comes home, waiting in front of the fire and tree with two dogs-safe and sound.

I hope D is right and that he has a Merry Christmas. I hope, even though the holidays are said to be the hardest time after the death of a loved one, that the man two doors down has a Merry Christmas and that my mom and our family find a way to have one, too.

Recently, I told my mom I loved Christmas and was excited about it and was celebrating it every day and, bitterly, she said-Well, that's nice for you, Neesha.

I knew she was thinking of my grandma, and I do, too, which is why, for the first time ever, I've been celebrating every day of the Christmas season and not just the 25th. I suppose I'm having an adverse reaction to the norm-while a large part of my family is mourning this holiday season, I can't help but celebrate and not because Grandma would've wanted it that way, but because she's with me more now than ever before and I know she does want it that way.

Or maybe I just don't know much about all of this...I'm just glad my family is healthy and happy and my dogs are safely at home.

Merry Christmas!



  1. People are different, and they grieve differently. My paternal grandfather died on a December 21st years ago. And I always wonder if I would remember the date if it weren't just before Christmas.

    And Jesse's maternal grandma died last year right after Thanksgiving. This year his mom still hosted the holiday, but it was off a little, as if her heart really wasn't in it.

    I think some people can't help but focus on the sadness, while others throw themselves into anything but.

    Maybe your jaunt in the snow with the temporary neighbor was an unexpected and not too terrible of a distraction. For me, I'm going to think it was a break from the grief. And once he realized it took his mind off his deceased wife, (and his dog came back) he wanted to thank you.

  2. My mom had a hard time the first Christmas after her mom died, too.