the red collar, by colette makray

I read the wrong book; seriously, who does that??? The Red Collar was recommended to me by a friend who’s book club had read it. She said it was short and a really good read. So upon searching Google, Goodreads, and Amazon, I found several books with the same title. But one in particular stuck out and seemed like it was ‘the one,’ so I read it.

Soon, I realized it was the wrong book. But I didn’t care. At 50% through, it dawned on me that I was supposed to be reading about a man and dog associated with the military, set in the early 1900’s. Not a single mother struggling with loss and an elderly man doing the same.

They meet periodically at the cemetery. Both grieving. Both trying to move past the hurt that death and loss often bring. At the center of this poignant short story is a dog. 2 dogs really. And the love between man and man’s best friend. Loyalty. And the enduring, often magical, thing we call life.

Since I bought this as an e-book, I’m not entirely sure how many pages it is, but I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 16. A very fast read but one that will stay with you. I think it’s somehow fitting that my first read of 2017 is one that ends with the realization that, life goes on.

The Sarge Chronicles: My Protector

ImageSince I often share the frustrating–yet amusing–stories about Sarge, I thought it only fair to share some of the good as well.

A few weeks ago I was having a panic attack. It’s not a regular occurrence for me–thankfully–but none-the-less, it happened. While I was trying to calm myself down, Sarge came over and jumped up at me as if to say, “It’s ok.” Eventually, it was–sort of.

Since the panic attack happened in the evening, at some point I had to go to bed. Now, Sarge has a bed of his own, on the floor, on the opposite side of the bed that I sleep on. But because of my anxiety level–which I assume he could sense because he’s a dog–he didn’t sleep in his bed. No, instead he slept on the floor next to the side of the bed I sleep on. But truth be told he didn’t really sleep. I, myself was up until 3:30am. Every time I looked down at Sarge he was laying down with his head up and he’d look at me as if to say, “It’s ok, I’m here and I’ve got this.”

I’ve never understood how anyone can be unkind to animals and I never will. Yes, Sarge was the reason I fell a few weeks ago and had a limp for several days. Yes, as a puppy he chewed my bluetooth, several pairs of shoes, and a library book I was not only unable to return–but didn’t finish and had to pay to replace. But he’s also the dog that greets me at the door when I come home; Cuddles with me every night before we go to bed; Gives me kisses before I go back to work at lunch time; And stays up all night to watch over me when I’m on edge and can’t sleep. Who couldn’t love all that?

For those that know me, what brought on the panic attack was something called entomophobia–an irrational fear of insects. A lot of people find my condition funny–though I have no idea why. I don’t laugh at people who are claustrophobic, or those afraid of heights. But for some reason it’s not until I tell people who I have panic attacks at the site of a stink bug in my house that they stop laughing. I’m seeing a hypnotist for my condition this week. I am incredibly hopeful that this will be the cure I need to be able to live my life free of what has become a debilitating condition and will give Sarge and myself the peace of mind to sleep easy. Stay tuned.

The Sarge Chronicles: Off Leash

photo-1Doesn’t he look like he’s pleading with me not to write about him? It’s not gonna work.

Last Thursday, as with all days, I got up to walk Sarge. I’ve mentioned him before in this blog, my german shepherd mix rescue from the MD SPCA (a place I threaten to return him to on occasion even though I’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old and he’s now 5 years old). Anyway… So, Thursday, started as it does with all days–a .40 mile (roundtrip) walk. On our way back we saw one of my neighbors with his 3 big dogs. They crossed the street and went on their way. Sarge got excited at seeing them and then pulled himself together. We again started on our way home and Sarge proceeded to have another ‘moment’ but was unable to settle down this time. The next thing I knew, Sarge slipped his no-slip collar and proceeded to cross the street by himself and…RUN. (Please keep in mind that Sarge isn’t all that great at crossing the street when he’s on a leash, so off-leash is beyond suspect. But he made it safely.)

This is the 2nd time in 5 years that this has happened. The last time, (he didn’t cross the street) after 1-hour of no success with the help of a kind stranger, I just started walking home. Sarge followed–though his route included walking through every one of my neighbors’ yards. Once home, I had to open my car door and say, “Let’s go!” in order to get him in a confined place. Hard to believe, but that was ‘easy.’

This time, the school bus driver that was picking up children in my neighborhood tried to help beckoning him to the bus–didn’t work. My neighbor that was standing with her youngest child tried beckoning him with her keys–didn’t work. My repeated calls of “let’s go”–didn’t work. So, in honor of the recent NFL draft, I attempted to tackle Sarge on one of his laps past me. He yelped and I went down on both knees, hard (I think my career as a defensive end may be over.) Needless to say, that at least got his attention and on his last lap I screamed, “Sit!”–and he immediately laid down.

As of Thursday night, Sarge has a brand new harness for our walks. For my troubles, I am unable to comfortably walk up and down stairs, I’m taking ibuprofen, icing and elevating my left leg. Subsequent morning (and evening) walks have been, thankfully, uneventful–just the way I like it.

There is no moral. There is no real world application (though I’m sure there’s something to be learned in all of it.) This is simply, my life.