My friend once told me my dog Olive was sent to me by my dog Arrow. Arrow passed away about a month before Olive came into our lives. My friend speculated that Arrow knew I was upset about his passing and he wanted to console me with another mixed breed dog. Olive was a wiggly puppy, abandoned by the side of the road on New Year’s Day and found by a kind soul in the Seattle area. She was skinny and filthy and had fleas. But with a good bath and a lot of love, she recovered. In fact, once she landed in our house, she thrived.
Not a Reincarnation but Eerily Similar
Normally, I wouldn’t believe that a deceased dog could send a new dog to earth but there are a few uncanny similarities between Arrow and Olive. First, Arrow and Olive are both almost identically colored. Solidly orange-tan. The hair is similar length, medium, German Shepherd style. Though Arrow was part Dingo and had pointy ears, Olive is probably part terrier and has floppy ones. Second, they both have white patches on their chests and paws. And third, they smell exactly alike. My husband and I used to say Arrow smelled fresh, like hay, and Olive smells the exact same way. Fresh and like hay.
I had a deep attachment to Arrow. He was the coolest. Our friends used to say he had a special soul because he could hold a person’s gaze for a long time. He was soft and loyal and beautiful. He lived to almost 17 and when he died, I felt crushed. I thought we’d be together forever.
But not more than a month after he died, Olive popped up on a neighborhood list in need of a home. I ignored the mail for 4 or 5 days, thinking someone would swipe up the cute Shepherd mix. But no one did. That’s when I knew I had to check her out. When I visited her foster home, she nipped her little puppy teeth at my hand and tumbled around, wanting to play and follow me everywhere. I knew it was meant to be. So I took her home and now at almost 8 years old, she’s been our sweet puppy ever since.
Twins of Happiness
I’m not inclined to think heaven or hell exists but I do wonder at the work of the universe, whether some consciousness aligned events for me. Arrow brought joy to my world. And now Olive brings joy. And so, I’ll try to not over analyze and simply cherish the present experience of having known and knowing these two lovely doggie souls.
I’m writing this post so my cat doesn’t die. I’m superstitious. She’s been ill. She’s old. Her eating is spotty and she’s losing weight. If you’ve read any earlier posts, you know that she’s already been a miracle kitty, having died and then been revived on the exam table at the vet. I even wrote a short book inspired by the experience. Now in May, it’s been a year and a half since that incident. Every day with her has been a gift. But just recently she started refusing food and has declined in strength. So, as the day nears when my first traditionally published novel comes out, I fear she’s hanging on for me until this milestone.
You know how pets sometimes do that? They’re so loyal and loving, they instinctively know you need them and will hold on for you as long as they can. I can think of two stories off the top of my head when this happened to people I knew. And I’m afraid my dear cat Maddie is doing the same.
A Long Journey Together
I don’t want Maddie to die — ever. She’s a good-natured beauty who came to us as a six-month-old stray when my dog Arrow cornered her. She’s lived a life of luxury and happiness since. She knows she’s beautiful and has used it to her advantage in the past. In fact, her nickname is Khaleesi. But she’s also provided us with unwavering affection over the years as my husband went through cancer treatment and we suddenly brought home three adopted children. She’s tolerated living with four dogs over the course of a decade too. And one very grumpy cat who she never liked much. At night, she snuggles by my head in bed and during the day, curls up in my arms.
So, as she loses weight and I call the vet every few days, please pray or think good thoughts for us. She has a thyroid condition and mild kidney disease. She’s weak but sometimes attentive. I know she can’t live forever, but I hope the stars don’t align in a way that breaks my heart. It’s hard not to think only about myself here but at the same time, she’s a mere fourteen, which seems too young for such a sweet and otherwise healthy kitty to leave this earth. And so I write this post, thinking if I do write it, she’ll live through the summer and if I don’t, she won’t. We’ll see how the stars arrange themselves.
Hey everyone! We’re about a month away from The Forgetting Flower‘s release so I thought it would be fun to do a 30-day blogging challenge. I’ll blog every day until the book’s release on Tuesday, June 18th, at which time I’ll fall flat on my face on the floor!
The Topics of the Day
Spring is here so I thought I could tackle a few gardening-related topics as well some book inspiration, travel memories, and writing. So in no particular order, here’s what I’ll be tackling:
- My Garden. It’s starting to fill in so I’ll share what I’m doing in it and some advice for newish gardeners. I’m also trialing some new plants from Proven Winners and I’ll let you know how those do.
- Paris Memories. In the year 2000, I worked and lived in Paris with a corporate job. It was an interesting, wonderful, and lonely experience. I’ll share some snippets of my time there and other travel memories.
- Book Ideas & Writing Advice. I glanced at my book shelf today and realized I have a bunch of craft (and other) books I love that I need to share with my fellow readers and writers.
- Weekly Inspiration. I used to post inspiration weekly on Mondays to inspire readers to take on their workweek as best they can. I set it aside as I grew busy with my novel but it’s time to bring it back.
- Fun With Kids & Pets. I have three kids and four animals. Yes, that’s a lot but those little souls mean the world to me. I’d like to post some thoughts on my kids/mothering and pics of my two dogs (Zeke, Olive) and two cats (Maddie, Aleksy). The idea of it already makes me smile!
- The Latest. This will be a post where I talk about what’s happening in the world and how it’s affected me and/or my writing.
- The Forgetting Flower Tour. I have a few friends around the world who have photographed themselves in a TFF T-shirt. I’ll run short interviews with them and the books they love. We’ll start in Seattle and end in Paris!
I hope you’ll join me. This should be a fun challenge. Not sure if I can do it, but I’ll try!
In Spring several years ago, we adopted a big black dog. He was a Belgian Shepherd mix about six months old with pointy ears and a pointy nose, the largest dog my husband and I had ever owned. I’m 5’6” and he came up to my mid-thigh. Since all of our dogs have had or have names that start with vowels, Arrow, Iris, Olive, we named him Ezekiel. With a brassy bark and sharp brown eyes, he looked more like a Zeke so we started calling him Zeke.
Zeke liked to roam the perimeter of our yard, woofing at crows that flew overhead, chasing squirrels that ran up trees. He also liked to bark at our neighbors behind the fence as they got out of their car. Inside, he followed me everywhere, convinced I needed guarding. It was how he earned his second nickname, “The Sheriff.” And on nights when his body dissolved into the darkness of the front yard, I’d call for him, saying, “Are you Shadow, the Direwolf?”
A Pet Den of Smells
In our bedroom, Olive slept on her bed beside me, our cat Maddie between our pillows, and Zeke in the corner near my husband. (Our other cat, Aleksy, likes to sleep with my daughter.) Unlike Olive, Zeke didn’t snore like a buzzsaw or whimper like Maddie. He just plunked into sleep every night, breathing deeply and solidly, probably relieved to have found a “forever home” after being returned to the shelter more than once.
A few weeks into our slumber ritual, I noticed a trend. With warm spring nights and three pets and two humans breathing in the same room for eight hours, the room stunk in the morning. Like dog. Strong dog. Oftentimes, like wet dog. I’d wake up to damp air and animal musk smells. It was not fun. I considered buying an air cleaner but I wasn’t sure it could truly help me. An air cleaner pulls particles out of the air like dust. I wasn’t sure it could process scents. Then it hit me: a plant could clean this musky indoor air.
A Peace Lily Plant, Nature’s Purifier
I had always grown houseplants but I’d never put any in our bedroom. Aleksy liked to chew on the stems in the early hours. So, I bought some metal screening. With tin snips, I made a circular fortress to keep the cat out. Afterward, I was unsure which plant to choose. I already owned several to clean indoor air: devil’s ivy, dracaena, snake plant, ferns, etc. I wanted something I hadn’t grown before.
A few days later, as I was roaming through a local nursery, I found a lush plant of dark green leaves. Its wands of white flowers faintly resembled calla lilies. The blooms held a tall oval bract around a spadix. It was a Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). I bought it and a new ceramic container and potted it up. Peace Lilies like shady conditions so in the bedroom I set it atop my husband’s dresser, about four feet from the window. I watered it and set the metal fortress around the pot, hoping it could clear the air in a few weeks.
Well, it didn’t take a few weeks, it took all of three days. It worked its magic at night until one morning, I woke up and inhaled neutral clean air. I thought, “Gosh, it doesn’t smell in here. Why?” The plant had taken in the foul air through the miniscule holes in its leaves and had exhaled fresh oxygen. I’d solved the dog musk issue.
Peace Lily Plant Profile
Peace Lilies are ideal house plants because they take low light and aren’t fussy about soil. When happy, they bloom for six or more months. They like watering and require a drink twice a week. Big rooms need more than one plant. Their air-cleaning talents only cover about a six-foot square space. But tucked among other houseplants of various textures and sizes, they can be part of a peaceful green sanctuary. Then at night, with or without a big black dog, one can sleep well and breathe easy.