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It's a Dog's Life-


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Little Corgie:

"Hello, I'm here to make your Monday suck less".


And you have as well as all your little co-horts.


It amazes me how such little dogs can command so much larger animal herds. I favor the Pembroke variety which many of these seem to be. One was a big hit at the National Dog Show and we will probably be seeing him at the AKC and Westmister ones as well.

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"Regarding my 1,000-year-old dog"


This is my dog.






Her name is Harper, and she is very old. Decades. Centuries. A cool millenium. You might not believe me that she is actually 1,000 years old, and you might try to convince me otherwise, but I would like to point out that you have no proof. And she?s my dog. So.


She has been in our family since 1998, back when my husband and I were two shacked-up quasi-Communist, vaguely Anarchist ne?re-do-wells, stomping around Stumptown in our government-issued firefighter boots and quoting Saul Alinsky at whoever stood still long enough to listen. We lived in a house with a bunch of other twentysomethings and their various friends, partners and hangers-on ? artists, puppeteers, Wobblies, graduate students, people who used to work for ACORN, and so on. I would make huge vats of beans and rice and someone would bring beer and we would play cards and eat and argue until early in the morning. My couch often had some guy sleeping on it. Some guy in need of a shower.


And then this dog showed up at our friend?s house.


In retrospect, I understand that the dog was a prophecy of sorts. A sooth-sayer. A sign.


Your life will change, the dog told us. Indeed, it is changing already.


She was in awful shape ? hungry, filthy, cold. She had only just had puppies. She was still lactating and her womb was all busted out. She had the shakes. When you pet her, your hands turned black. She was frightened. If you moved your hands too quickly, should would cower and whine. She had a tender spot on her head that she didn?t want you to touch. She was wary, wounded. And I loved her. Instantly.


We weren?t going to keep her, not right away. We wanted her with a family. We had housemates with allergies, and couldn?t keep her indoors. She deserved parents and kids and teenagers. Someone to snuggle with next to a fire. Road trips. Hikes in the forest. A little child to dress her in a cape and a facemask and call her SuperDog.


These are the things we said. These are the things we believed. We didn?t know we were predicting our future.


It is happening already.


We brought her to the Humane Society, and then had to move heaven and earth to get her out and back home with us before they put her down (they had a policy not to keep mixed breed dogs alive, or even to make them available for adoption; they did not tell us this policy when we brought her in and told them explicitly that if they couldn?t place her with a family that we would take her, joyfully; there were, then, very tense words, uttered by me, with swearing; we got our dog in the end). I?ll tell you what, nothing bonds you to an animal more than saving her from certain death. Nothing at all.




We took her to the vet. ?This is the healthiest half-starved dog I?ve ever seen,? the vet said. ?She?s made of barbed wire and duct tape and galvanized steel.? He gave her some shots and removed her uterus and guessed that she was somewhere between three and five. ?Clearly full grown,? he said, ?but young enough to still be a ****.? (It is now 2013. She is still a total ****.)


She was a tough mother. She?d go on ten-mile runs with me and wouldn?t even get winded. She ate entire packages of bakers chocolate and didn?t even get a stomach ache. She ate, digested and shat batteries, and didn?t blink an eye. She never got sick, never got hurt, never skipped a beat.


We took her with us everywhere. We went for long hikes. We took her to the coast and Forest Park and Columbia Gorge. We started eating outside and hanging out on the back porch, just to be near her more. And we changed. Ted and I noticed that our youthful resistance to life-long commitment started to ease, and our discomfort with aligning ourselves with institutional relationships drifted further and further away.


Family, we started to say. You?re my family.


You?re learning, said the dog. Good job.


We got pregnant. Got married. Moved. Bought houses. Sold houses. Started businesses. Wrote books. Had more children. We built. Expanded. Grew.


All the while, there was Harper the dog ? babysitter, muse, helpmate, protector, janitor, exterminator, friend. She built us into a family.


Two summers ago, we brought her to the BWCA. She almost didn?t come back. Later that year, she developed a tumor on her leg that grew and grew and grew. It impeded her gait. It kept her from doing the things she loved to do. The vet counseled us not to do the surgery to remove it. ?She?s so old,? the vet said. ?She might not survive the surgery. And if she does, she will heal so slowly. She?ll hurt, she?ll infect, and she won?t know why.?


We did it anyway. Her tumor was three pounds ? bigger than a puppy. She healed like a champ. The vet was amazed. ?It?s one thing,? he said, ?to have a dog the age of Methuselah. Lots of people have those. But to have an ancient dog heal as fast as a puppy? Either you?ve been replacing your dog with younger models of herself, or you have a dog who is virtually ageless. One or the other.?


And so I began to think that my dog is a thousand years old. I believed she would never die. I believed she would outlive me and my children and my children?s children. I believed that my dog was from Faerie, or Asgard, or Alpha Centauri.


Three weeks before Christmas, Harper suddenly started walking with a limp. A week before Christmas, she stopped putting any weight on her back left leg at all, preferring to move like an ambulatory three-legged-stool around the house and yard. And, all in all, she?s doing pretty well with it. She?s still eating, still drinking, still in high spirits, still chasing squirrels, still barking at the raccoons that hide between our garage and our neighbor?s fence. But she won?t let her leg touch the earth.


I took her to the vet.


He took a deep breath and sighed.


?Yep,? he said. ?It?s weird.?


I hate weird.


She has, it seems, odd formations on her bone. It could be atypical bone spurs due to a weird manifestation of arthritis, or it could be bone cancer. In any case, due to her advanced age, we will treat it the same way ? palliative care and lots of love until that doesn?t work anymore.


Which means that I am actually going to have to get used to the fact that my dog will not live for another thousand years, and that she is not immortal, and that she is not from Mount Olympus or the Isle of the Blessed. She is herself. Harper. My dog. And I will love her and love until I can?t and she will live until she doesn?t, and that will be that.


I have written this entire blog post with Harper sitting on my feet. I gave her a piece of beef jerky a little bit ago, and I know that she is waiting patiently until another piece appears in my hands like magic for me to give to her. She shifts her weight and groans a bit. Her leg hurts. My heart hurts. She rests her chin on my knee.


Your life will change, she says.


I didn?t ask it to, I say.


No one ever does. Your life will change. Indeed, it is changing already. She breathes deeply through her damp nose and closes her eyes. She is alive, she is alive, she is still alive. For now. As we all are. And sometimes, that?s enough.


For all of you with dogs in your life: bless you. May your beloved animals live for a thousand years. May they change your life.



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What a beautiful story! When the time comes when you must decide to let her go, do not feel guilty. After the abuse she must have suffered before, she knew only life and love for all these years since you found each other. I pray that she will check herself out, as my Barney did, and spare you that final choice. Thank you for the pictures.

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Star, you're very welcome! That is a blog post that came up on one of the dog lists I am subscribed to, and I thought it was very up-lifting and sweet. I like her writing too. Great advice though! :)


Jake if the queen of England can have any dog she wants and she chooses corgis they must be very very special. As are all dogs! :)

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You are a true champion for dogs. Your dog is very lucky

to have an owner such as you. I only wish there were

more like you for all the abandoned dogs and cats who

just want an owner to take them and make them a part

of their lives.


Your dog is special.


Merry Christmas



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*Harper really does sound like an amazing dog! If you like this lady's writing here is a link to her blog. But you are right about how I feel about dogs, and I know you feel the same way.*




*Are we ready for a little Christmas miracle?*




*A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night, someone came across this. An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort. No one had the heart to send him away so he was there all night. We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus' lap from time to time. This is too sweet not to share. No one mentioned that the dog breed is a "shepherd!" FYI: THIS POOCH WAS RESCUED BY A CHURCH MEMBER ?*

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Jake, They're precious! Old dogs are even more precious because we only have them for so long.


Found this wonderful story about a deaf dog in Scotland.


"Abandoned, unruly deaf dog becomes star canine good citizen"




Horus was abandoned when he was young because he is a deaf dog. Seen as unruly and untrainable, he spent his first few months of life in a drug den and was eventually brought to a rescue where he languished prior to being adopted. Under the loving care of his guardian, Rosie Gibbs, the clever dog has excelled at learning sign language and now knows over 50 commands.


Horus was taken in by the Dog Trust charity in Scotland when he was just a few months old. He was adopted soon after, but his adoptive parents returned him to the charity after one year because they could not manage him. He spent the next 18 months locked up in kennels waiting for a new home. Thankfully, Rosie arrived at the Dog Trust specifically looking for a deaf dog. Rosie is a sign language enthusiast and wanted her first dog to be deaf.




She took Horus home and within two weeks he had learned 15 commands. She says, "Nobody would take him because of his behaviour. He used to get aggressive around dogs and people, but once we got past that and began to communicate he turned out to be a brilliant pet."


She trained Horus with Makaton - a basic form of sign language taught to children. Over the following 5 years Horus memorized 56 commands, knows a slew of tricks and has won numerous Good Citizen awards at the Kennel Club. Rosie explains, "A deaf dog can?t obviously hear you so you can?t call them back so I had to train him to "check in" with me every 20 seconds."


She said Horus can't hear but his other senses are stronger. She describes, "He can tell me who is at the other side of my garden fence by their smell and the shape of their shadow. If I walk into a room he notices the light change and turns around to see who it is."


Rosie helps support other owners of deaf dogs and encourages others to not overlook them as potential pets. "People think deaf dogs are different and stupid and can?t be trained, but Horus is proof that they can," she said. "I would recommend getting a deaf dog to anyone. He?s a member of the family."





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  • TomJH changed the title to It's A Dog's Life On Film

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