And the prize* goes to . . .

. . . Karen! I think she may have hit the nail on the head. In her comment on my last post, she said:

“Then again, losing interest in blogging could have something to do with a different sort of loss altogether. Perhaps it’s a form of mourning.”

Perhaps it is. I hadn’t really made the connection between losing Penny and losing my interest in blogging. But it does make sense. She was such a fixture here, especially in that last month or so. Even as I sit here with Maggie sleeping next to me, I’m missing my Penny Pup.

Maybe now that I’m aware of it, it’ll be easier to pull out of the slump. Thanks, Karen. Do you charge by the hour for your analysis?

*Okay, so the prize is my heartfelt appreciation.

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Psssst . . . hey buddy!

Remember this guy? He’s a Sesame Street character. I remember one skit where he was standing in the shadows when Ernie (I think) walked by.

Lefty: Pssst!! Hey buddy!
Ernie: Yeah?
Lefty (opening his trench coat to display dozens of
watches hanging from the lining): Wanna buy a watch?

Okay, so this may not be exactly how it went, but it’s how I remember it. Why do I bring this up, you ask? Because the director of the rescue where we got Penny reminds me of Lefty.

You see, K. sits next to me in church choir. A few months ago when I told her that Penny was sick, she expressed sympathy, of course. She knows what it’s like to lose a pet. But in the next breath?

K: Psst! Hey, Sharkey! The rescue has a beagle puppy.
S: Yeah, beagles are cute, but they’re hunters. I want a dog that I can trust off-leash; one that won’t go chasing after a rabbit.

A few weeks later when Penny was still hanging in there . . .

K: Psst! Hey, Sharkey! We might be getting a cocker spaniel. She’s young, and she’s spent about 10-12 hours a day tied outside. She just wants lots of love.
S: Hmmm . . . it’s too soon. We still have Penny to think about, and we can’t bring another dog home while she’s still around. (And besides, dogs who’ve spent a lot of time outside aren’t usually very well socialized, I thought to myself. The last thing we need is another dog that doesn’t get along with people or other dogs.)

During those last few weeks of Penny’s life, J.P. and I talked about what kind of dog we might like to get next, and when we thought we’d be ready. (Notice that it wasn’t a question of if, but when.) Since we wanted a puppy, I thought it would be good to wait until spring. I had visions of trying to housebreak a puppy in the winter; both of us standing outside, shivering in the cold and snow.

We talked about pugs, bichons, and springer spaniels. But we didn’t even consider another cocker. Then, at the choir rehearsal after we’d lost Penny . . .

K: Psst! Hey, Sharkey! We got that cocker spaniel puppy. We want to keep her in foster care for a while, to be sure she’s healthy, give us enough time to have her spayed, and to see how she behaves with the foster family. Do you think you’d be interested? If not, just say the word and I’ll quit bugging you.
S: Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt to meet her.

You know how the story ends, of course. But what you don’t know, and what even I didn’t know at the time is that K. sent an email to the rescue’s board when she heard about Penny’s cancer. She asked them to keep us in their thoughts, and to pray for a dog that would be a good fit for us after Penny was gone. So you see, our little love sponge was an answer to prayer.

I felt bad that it all happened so soon after we lost Penny—like we were trying to replace her. But K. says (and I believe) that we’ll never be able to repair the hole she left in our hearts. Instead, Maggie is finding her own place.

Can you stand one more?

I realize that some people may be tired of the All Penny, All The Time format that I’ve adopted here recently. But I’ve been wanting to write one more post—primarily so I don’t forget the details about Penny and her personality. And since today’s Motif Monday theme is pets, I have a good excuse to do it.

But before I do, I just want to thank everyone for your kind comments over the weekend. Although putting Penny to sleep was definitely the right thing to do, that didn’t make it any easier. Your words—last weekend and over the last few months—were very comforting.

Penny was a pooch with personality-plus. Here are a few things that I loved about her.

I loved her curly tail. When she first moved in, it usually remained in its full upright and locked position. But as time went on, we saw her wag it more and more frequently. And when she went to sleep, it relaxed into a straight line. Last Friday, it was straight even when she was alert and walking around.

I loved her voice—most of the time. When we’d pet her, she would growl/purr/talk at us. We were never quite sure what it meant or why she did it. And when she wanted something from me, she would sit in front of me and demand my attention by emitting “woofs” through her clenched jaw.

Woof

I loved that she was smart. As soon as she’d hear us turn off the TV, she’d get up and head for her crate. Or if it was bedtime, she’d wait for us at the bottom of the stairs.

I loved her Lassie impersonation. Each night as we watched TV, she would come and sit in front of us. She would stare intently at us until I asked, “What do you want?” At this cue, she would run over and stand in front of the refrigerator (we stored her rawhide bones on top of it). Then I’d call her back, she’d come running over, and I’d ask again, “What do you want?” She would run back to the fridge and woof at me, as if to tell me that Timmy had fallen into the well.

I loved the soft, soft fur on her head, ears, and neck. Feeling that silky soft fur against my face is one of the things I’m going to miss the most. And I loved that she didn’t mind being a lap dog on occasion, allowing me to love and pet and spoil her.

Penny

I loved her big, expressive brown eyes. I’ve mentioned that when Penny first arrived, I thought she was the ugliest dog ever. But even from the beginning, I loved her eyes. And then there were the ears. Oh, the ears! It seemed she controlled each independently, and combined they had a thousand different positions.

I loved how she played WWF with her stuffed toys. She’d grab her alligator by the tail and shake it from side to side. And then she’d move in for the kill, whomping the toy repeatedly on the floor. Thankfully, the Tail Grip meant that the nose end was always dry, and my hand didn’t get all slimy when we played tug-o-war.

I loved her alertness and intensity. When she wanted something, there was no distracting her. Like many of the items on this list, at times it was a pain in the butt. It was difficult to get away with anything when she was around.

Intense

I loved that she wasn’t a morning dog. She would let us sleep in as late as we wanted. And even when we got up at the regular time, she usually remained in bed until after we were showered and dressed.

Penny was never one who liked strangers coming into the house. But if she saw our neighbors standing out in the cul de sac, she would whine at the door until we let her out to say hello. After T. rubbed her belly, she would jump up and tear around, running circles through the yard or around the house. The neighbors across the street would occasionally invite her over for the afternoon, just to hang out. And they spoiled her rotten! They allowed her to get up on the bed, they fed her food from the table, and they allowed her to lick their faces. The funny thing is that she would never even attempt to lick our faces, but it was the first thing she did when she got close to them.

Even though she was a relatively old dog, we taught her some new tricks. When she got here, she already knew how to roll over and to find her bone when we said “Knick, knack, paddy-whack.” We taught her to play dead when we pointed our fingers at her and said “Bang!” We also taught her to shake and to wait patiently in the kitchen while we hid her rawhide. Then we’d say “Find it!” and she’d take off, with her nose working overtime until she found the treasure.

Bang!

Like many dogs, she would always lie in the patch of sunlight that came streaming through the windows. And like many cats, she would lie panting in front of the fireplace on cold winter nights.

No matter what we were making, she would stand at the kitchen counter and beg for food. And she would eat just about anything. Of course she ate meat, cheese, and foods that we would consider treats. But she also ate tomatoes, corn on the cob, lettuce, and even raisins. After she discovered grape tomatoes this summer, she would go in search of the precious few that dropped from the vine and landed outside the garden fence.

Corn Dog

I’m sure I’ll think of ten more things as soon as I hit the Publish button, and I may make some updates here over the next few days.

***Update***

One thing I definitely WON’T miss is her nasty farts. They were usually SBD, with the emphasis on DEADLY. Sometimes we could smell her from two rooms away! But the funny thing was when she would let an audible one. Her head would snap around in an attempt to see what had happened, and then she’d usually dart off, fearing the invisible creature who made that sound so close behind her.

Last summer, I took our front door off its hinges to paint it. We didn’t have to worry about Penny darting outside or running off—some days it was all we could do to get her ouside to pee! Anyway, after I finished, I noticed several dead flies on the floor in the house. I picked them up, but didn’t think too much of it until I saw her suddenly lunge and snap at what seemed to be thin air. Then she opened her mouth and spit out a dead fly! I also saw her snap at hornets a few times; fortunately she never caught one of those.

Every night when I’d go into the bathroom to get ready for bed, I’d close—but not latch—the door behind me. Before I could even get my pants down, Penny would barge in, knocking the door open with her head. I’d sit down on the toilet, and she’d stand up on her hind legs and put her paws on my lap so I could scratch her neck. After washing my face and finishing up in the bathroom, I’d get into bed. She would come over and sit next to the bed for one last pet before turning in.

I loved that she used her front paws like hands. She still had her dew claws, and at times they almost looked like opposable thumbs. When we played ball, she would go and go and go. But then her tongue would practically drag on the floor and she’d need a break. She’d bring the ball back to me, drop it, and then “hold it” with one of her front paws. That way, I couldn’t grab it and throw it again before she had a chance to rest.

Farewell, Penny. We miss you more than we could’ve imagined.

She made our lives whole

Penny the Driving Dog
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Today’s the day we’ve been dreading for the last five weeks. Penny has let us know that she’s ready. She stopped eating yesterday, and didn’t even bark or get off her chair when I came home last night. This morning I scrambled an egg for her. She sniffed and licked it as if to thank me, and then turned her head and refused it.

Our house is going to be awfully quiet and empty, but we know that she’ll be in a better place. To quote one of my favorite bloggers, “She’d better be waiting for me at heaven’s gate, or Jesus will have some splainin’ to do.” J.P. and I are confident that she and Chloe will be telling stories about us by dinnertime tonight.

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made. ~M. Acklam

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Penny’s Pleas

I'm so pathetic . . . won't you please feed me?

*woof* Hello?

Mom? *woof*

Hey! Mom! Could I get a little something to eat over here? Can’t you see how pathetic I look?

You’ve cut me back to five meals and four snacks a day, and I’m wasting away! *whine* You know, I could help you with the rest of that ice cream. It looks like a lot for you. Oh—you’re finished? Didja know that I’m a great dish washer? I can have that bowl clean, lickety-split!

I don’t know why you think I look like a barrel on legs. I think my new figure is quite shapely. Even if *grunt* my collar is a bit tight these days.

What’s that I hear? Hmmm . . . it sounds like Dad, opening the bag of cookies downstairs. See ya later!