The baby-sitter

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It starts with a phone call – a call where immediately you know something is wrong, awfully wrong.  Every warning bell in your brain goes off, your internal antenna goes on full alert, frantically searching for a false signal of normalcy to beat back the dreadful feeling that something bad has happened.  The tone of the voice on the other end is somber,  contrasting with your erratic heart beat.  You take a deep breath, bracing yourself for what’s to come….

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I’m out-of-town, three states over at a National Conference, sitting in the middle of a meeting.  My cell phone is silenced – if I hadn’t of looked down when the screen lit up as the call came through, I would have missed the call all together.  It’s Malcolm.  My first thought is to call him back when my meeting is over in another 30 minutes.  He knew I would be in back-to-back sessions all day long and I would call him later that evening.  My next thought brings a tightening of the stomach muscles, Malcolm knows I’ve turned the ringer off and am out-of-pocket for the day.  I quickly gather my belongings and step outside the conference room.  “Can you talk?” breaks the silence as I answer the call.  My eyes search for a quiet corner where I can’t be overheard, fortunately I find a private area with a sitting bench, across the wide hall.  I sit down, turning my back to the activity behind me.  “I’m at the vet’s” fills the silence.  At once I’m both relieved Malcolm is okay and worried about which one of the dogs has been brought to Dr. Bob, our veterinarian, on a Saturday, late in the afternoon.  Who?  Why?  What?  How?  The questions rapidly spew out like the staccato of high heels on a hard-wood floor.  “Amore, she swallowed a bone.  It’s lodged at the base of her esophagus, just above her stomach, they can’t move it, it’s too far down her throat.  Honey, it doesn’t look good.”  Moisture pools heavily at the corners of my eyes, I’m trying desperately not to cry.  My Amore?  Our girl who so loves life, was going to lose her’s due to a bone?  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I wasn’t going to be able to say good-bye to her?  Malcolm, having to deal with “this” by himself.  My thoughts turned to cutting short my attendance at the convention, getting a flight back to New Mexico, being there for Malcolm, being there for Amore.  The next words I hear are, “gotta go, the vet’s here!  I’ll call you back when I know more.”  Malcolm cuts the call.

A bone?  We had given our dogs beef and buffalo bones for years.  Bones were the perfect baby-sitter.  They were the equivalent of putting the kids in front of the TV to watch the Little Mermaid, over and over and over.  A beef bone meant the house would be intact when we came back from running errands in town.  No chewed library books, no masticated shoes scattered out in the dog pen, no drooled on socks randomly spread from one end of the house to the other, touting new holes in the toes.  The girls would be so entranced with their bone, they wouldn’t even know we had left home.  Bones were our puppy sitter of choice.  And cheap!  A few dollars spent on bones kept the house clean and the tartar on their teeth to a minimum.  A bone had brought Amore so much enjoyment and now caused her so much pain.

The second-hand on my watch spun into minutes.  Those minutes seemed like hours.  I was paralyzed, sitting on the bench, waiting for Malcolm to call me back, praying for Amore to pull through, for some miracle to occur.  Another call and Malcolm appraised me our options were not good, we were running out of time.  Ideally, Dr. Bob would like to push the bone down into the stomach and then perform surgery to remove it, however he doesn’t have a long enough apparatus to impel the bone through.  Worse case scenario: the bone adheres to the esophagus, restricting Amores’ breathing, eventually suffocating her.  Second worse case scenario would be to operate in Amores’ current state – the success rate of this type of surgery is low, every low.  Very few recover from the surgery.  Malcolm and I were in the cross-hairs of Amores’ death.

Another hour had passed and still I hadn’t moved off the bench.  Waiting.  A text came through from Malcolm – “goin n 4 surgery.  don’t fly 2 ABQ.  horse vet fix bone.  will call l8r”.  What the hell?  What horse vet?  Which surgery?  The worse case scenario surgery or the ideal surgery?  New questions swirled, impatiently waiting to be answered.  Sifting through the next few conversations with Malcolm explained our miracle.  As Amore was being prepped for esophagus surgery, a horse veterinarian happened to stop by the clinic.  He suggested Dr. Bob try a tool used on horses, allowing him to  push the bone down.   The device was long enough to reach the bone to tap it into the stomach, allowing the location of the surgery to switch from the throat to the stomach.  Amore breezed through surgery with a newly shaved tummy and a coarse cough due to her throat being constricted.   We had orders to feed her soft food and keep her quiet.  Quiet?  Our Amore, who loves to run?  Who is our ADHD dog?  We had our work cut out for us but we had our Amore back.  Miracles do happen.

I flew home on schedule, making Malcolm drive straight from the airport to the vet clinic so I could see Amore.  We brought her home the next day and managed to keep her quiet for one more day after that.  We fired the perfect baby-sitter that day, threw away very bone we could find, and forbid any bone back in the house.   Amore has completely recovered from her ordeal – Malcolm and I, well…  let’s just say, we smile when we come upon a dog-chewed book or missing shoes.

 

Snow Angels

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Snow. The girls loooovvve the snow! AND, everything that goes with snow! Dolce especially. Her eyes light up with excitement, her tail wags with anticipation, her body quivering with eagerness at the mere mention, the slightest hint of snow. The little pup in her rises to the occasion – she is ready for play! Her eyes dart from snow patch to snow patch frantically searching for the best knoll, one with the steepest incline and the most snow covering it’s side. She plows through the powder to the summit, does her flop and drop and slides down the hill. Belly up or belly down – either way, the avalanche has started! For those at the end of her slide, beware – she has no brakes, no intention of stopping, no pause in her play. 100 pounds of uncontrollable dog is about to plow into you. Back up the hill she runs for a replay of the first slide, belly plop and down she goes, legs askew, stomach on skids.

Her favorite is creating and designing snow angels. She’ll drop down in the snow and roll back and forth, over and over and over, biting at the frozen crystals as she stretches and rolls. Gets up, shakes off the ice and flurries and begins another quest for an angel.

The joy in her eyes as she frolics is worth our cold noses and numb fingers. A tired dog at the end of the day makes for a happy owner.

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Friday nights

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Friday. 5:00 p.m.  Time to close up shop.  Time to shut down the computer, turn off the copier and printer.  Time to head home to the hubby and dogs and start the weekend.

About two years, on a Friday in early summer, I was doing exactly that, shutting off lights and grabbing my keys to head out the door, when the phone rang, a distraught member on the line, frantic that their entire brokerage was unable to access the forms library.  To a REALTOR, this is bad –  really bad –  especially with the weekend looming in the background.  I dropped back down into my office chair and began damage control.  It was two hours later before I was able to correct their “user” error.  In the middle of their crisis, I phoned home to let Malcolm know I’d be late and to hold off on dinner.  It had been a long week just made longer, but I was able to keep 200 brokers in business for the weekend.  I locked up the office and headed home……

A half-hour later I walked in the house.  I was tired, hungry and grouchy and there was my sweet, wonderful husband, waiting for me at the door, a blended margarita with salt in his hand, the dogs eagerly awaiting to be allowed to hug me in their welcome home attack, a platter of appetizers (okay, cheese and salami with salsa) sitting on the kitchen counter.  Malcolm grabbed my purse and handed me my drink with orders to go outside and sit on the lounger on the portal.  The girls followed me outside and waited for me to get comfortable.  Once settled, Dolce immediately crawled up on the long wicker lounge, curled up between my legs and put her head on my lap.  Tiamo sat by my side, getting her ears gently rubbed as Malcolm and I caught up on the week’s happenings.  One margarita led to two, cheese and salami ended up being dinner,  we watched the sun set over the Sandia’s while the tension eased and I was able to relax.  Dolce never lifted her head from my lap, Tiamo never left my side.  Amore would amble over every so often throughout the night ensuring all was well.  Malcolm and I talked until well after all the stars were lit and sparkling.  It was one of the best nights ever and the start of our “wine nights”.

The following Friday, I was able to head out for the weekend without any phone calls or delays.  On my drive home from work, I called Malcolm and asked that he uncork a bottle of red wine and pour two glasses, I’d be home soon.  Summers in Santa Fe are gorgeous – it’s our monsoon season, afternoon showers help cool down the day’s heat and create some spectacular sunsets, showing off the colors of the sky as it opens the door to the night.   Malcolm had put together another tray of hor de oeuvres which we nibbled on throughout the night.  We sat outside on the portal, the dogs at our feet, content in hearing our voices as we conversed, sipping on our wine.

We have continued  our Friday night wine nights ever since.  On occasion we invite friends and neighbors over to join us, but mostly it the two us and the girls.  On cold winter nights we will light a fire while we enjoy a warm toddy, Dolce always by my side.  Since Tiamo’s passing, Amore has taken to laying down at my feet, keeping them warm, letting me know she is right there.   She’ll lift her head when she hears a car drive by, check out what’s happening when Malcolm gets up to add another log on the fire and come right back to me, leaning up against my feet.   Eventually, she’ll roll over and start to snore, relaxed and at ease.  I believe the girls enjoy the evenings as much as we do.   I believe they hear the cadence of our voices, the low tones of our words and know their family is all right.  All’s well.

Start your own Friday night tradition with these Blackberry – Poblano Margaritas.  The deep purple color is a stunner!

Blackberry – Poblano Margaritas

  • 3 tbsp fresh blackberries (ok to use frozen berries)
  • 2 tbsp finely diced poblano peppers (seeds and membrane discarded)
  • 2 oz silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz Cointreau

Muddle the blackberries and poblano peppers in a cocktail shaker.  Add a tablespoon of superfine sugar if the berries need a little sweetening, at this point.  Add the tequila, Cointreau and ice and shake.  Strain into two margarita glasses filled with ice.

May substitute with raspberries, blueberries or a combination of berries.  To avoid pulp or seeds in your glass, strain before serving.

 

 

 

 

WINK, WINK!

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DSC01111 Amore is our mischief-maker.  She is  85% imp, 15 % jokester and comedian.  Full-blooded Bernese Mountain Dog, full-thottle prankster, and full-of-it canine with a sneaky smile to match.

From day one, Amore has been  our trouble-maker.  She was the first to crawl out of the whelping pen, creating a mass ascension with her seven siblings, following in her paw steps.   She was the first to bark, yelp and whine, producing a chorus of noise, usually at night, usually late at night and usually with all her litter mates!  She was and still is the first to gobble up her chow, then proceeding over to Dolce’s bowl to impose a  feeding tax on any leftovers.   She was Tiamo’s first pick, the only puppy in the litter Mama loved to play with.  Amore was the first to discover the dog door, quickly learning if she went through the swinging flap, there was a bite of raw hamburger on the other side.  While a great training tool, the first night, she went back and forth through the doggie door for an hour straight looking for her treat.  At 2:00 a.m. we stumbled with barely opened eyes to the frig and found more ground burger to give her.  For the next week, that dog door was her best friend.

Amore loves to tease Malcolm.  When it’s time to load up in the car for a ride, she runs straight to the tailgate, fakes to the left before the jump in, swinging around the vehicle and on to the back field at a full run.  She’ll wait for Malcolm to come around the corner of the house before sprinting around the other side.  The cat and mouse game continues until Malcolm tires of walking around the house and Amore realizes she might be left at home.

I’ll never forget the first and only time I let Amore walk with me up to the road to retrieve the morning paper without a leash.  5:30 in the morning, pitch black skies with the sun still hiding in the far east, Amore takes off after a cotton-tail.  She recognized her freedom – the chase was on.  I tried everything to get her to return to me.  She would get within 10 yards and stay just beyond my reach.  I knew I needed to out trick the trickster.  Somewhere I had read to lay down on the ground and play opossum. In my skirt and high heels, I laid down on the gravel driveway with the Santa Fe New Mexican as my pillow.  I waited.  Amore waited.  One minute seemed like twenty, I heard the crunch of her paws on the gravel, I waited, eyes closed.  I felt a cold nose on my cheek and then several wet sloppy dog licks all over my face,  Amore checking to see if I was ok.   I grabbed her collar, refusing to let go of our 100 pound bunny chaser.  I gazed up at her and I swear I saw her wink at me.  She knew all along my intentions.  My golden moment of euphoria, having “won” the game, having outsmarted and outmaneuvered a canine comedian crumbled like broken chips at the bottom of the Frito bag.

That wink says it all.  With a twinkle in her eye, Amore is our prank-pulling pooch.   Her goofy grin, her playful antics, her doggy humor, her canine pranks, Amore has perfect timing with her delivery.  She knows the exact moment when to nose-nudge your elbow as you raise your glass of wine to take a sip.  She knows the exact moment when you go to sit on the couch and she beats you to your spot, then rolling over onto her back so you can’t pull her off the cushions.  She knows the exact moment when to rub up against you as you are leaving to go to an important meeting in your wool suit and you don’t have time to change out of your now dog-haired attire.  She knows the exact moment you are done fluffing the blankets and pulling up the bed covers as you prep for sleep, so she can jump up on the bed and curl up on your favorite down feathered pillows.

She knows the exact moment when to send you a wink and a smile, a grin and a chortle, reminding you not to take life so seriously.  She knows her doggy grin will get her out of trouble and her adorable canine chortle will let her stay on the bed.  Our winkster, Amore!