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Across the Rainbow

Kyra's final hoursWhere all my goals turn to ash,
where my throat is held up
  by the knives of your passing,
where my arms are emptied
  of your precious burden,
and where my feet drag
  to avoid walking past
  all the trails we forged
  that now echo with your loss.
-TMYC (2014)

RIP Kyra
January 26, 1998 – September 7, 2014

Even almost 17 years was not long enough to share her world. It was a shockingly fast, strangely peaceful, entirely unexpected, unearthly, and dislocating experience.

While Auden’s eulogy (made contemporaneously famous in Four Weddings & A Funeral) is where my heart is today:

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: ‘I was wrong’

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

-WH Auden

At the same time… My experience and soul tell me there is more, so Mary Frye’s words are a more appropriate memorial:

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

-Mary Frye (1932)

Despite the tragedy, I still have to finish schoolwork, I still have to go to the office, I still have to take care of Natasha, and I still have to breathe, so you’ll forgive me if my goal this week is just to stop the leaky eyes and quit the headache from too heavy grief. We’ll see whether next week brings any emotional improvement. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit my ROW80 cohorts to see how they’re doing.

Husky Birthday: 14 Years Young

KyraToday marks the 14th year since a remarkable Husky was born. According to her pedigree (the least of her value), Kyra was born January 16, 1998 of sire G’s Saxman Red Devil and dam Nikolai of Classy G in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last year she had to have a few rotten teeth pulled, and we’ve always paid attention to her sensitive tummy, but she’s outlived two Huskies we rescued after Kyra had joined our family and has always had a remarkable energy and contentment in the way she carries herself through her life.

In honor of her birthday, here’s an excerpt from what I’ve written so far of Sacred Whispers, a book about all of our various pets and animals I’ve known, remembering how we were introduced and how she settled in to our lives and our hearts:

Both of these experiences left me rather ambivalent about getting another pet, but having a life partner adjusted my thinking sufficiently that immediately after we returned from our honeymoon, we started scanning ads in the local paper for a puppy of our own. We made appointments to see three or four, and figured we would make the decision after having investigated all our options. We intended our first dog together to be our wedding gift to each other. Little did we expect that our new puppy would have been born within 2 weeks of our ceremony, and therefore all the more meaningful a tribute to our joining our lives together.

As it happened, we went to the Husky breeder first, on a Monday night after work. Kyra was penned up in the back yard with her four brothers and parents. When we arrived, and the pups were let out for our inspection, Kyra made a beeline for my lap, and crouched there as if she would need to be forcibly removed. The expression in her eyes, as we watched her rough and tumble brothers pile off under the porch, was pure “save me from these rowdies!”

The breeders took this as a sign that we were meant to take her home that night. We were in no way prepared to bring home a bundle of puppy energy… but the price was right, and Kyra had wormed her way into my heart with no difficulty whatsoever. So we made a quick run to KMart before all the local stores closed for the night, and picked up doggie dishes, leash, collar, and those few essentials necessary to keep the puppy fed and safe as we took her out to relieve herself in our unfenced yard.

She settled in as if she had always been with us: She slept through that first night, and was generally very loving and surprisingly easy to train. She soon acted as if she understood our conversations with each other, and her Husky vocalizations certainly sounded as if she had her own words to contribute.

Here’s to another year of happiness with our first baby. And here’s crossing my fingers that her good health continues to sustain her through at least several more years; the world will be a darker place without the light she embodies within it.

Furry Angels – Sacred Whispers

Kyra & NatashaThe other day one of my Triberr buddies, @JustinBog, posted about Russell Blake’s Pet Wall, since his Zippy is prominently featured there. As I read the stories outlined on that site, and in particular Blake’s explanation regarding the inspiration for his latest book, An Angel with Fur, I was particularly moved by his desire to help street dogs in Mexico.

Since I’m an unabashed animal lover, I could totally appreciate his sentiment–and had, in fact, started my own book, titled Sacred Whispers, some time ago, though I wasn’t exactly sure whether there would be a market for my interpretation of the importance and impact of the relationships I’ve had with various pets over the years. Now I’m curious to read his book to see his take on sharing a life with a furry angel.

For myself, I can’t help but share a recent picture of the two furry angels currently gracing us with their presence. It doesn’t take much for me to post an *awww, squee* moment, so I do try to self-edit that way, so you can blame this edition on Blake and Bogdanovitch…


The two pictured above are Kyra (on the left) and Natasha (on the right, with a chew). Kyra celebrates her 14th birthday this January, and was the best wedding gift we gave ourselves–we got her from a breeder in Charlottesville, VA, shortly after we returned from our honeymoon, and she was born just before we got married, so in my heart represents all the good things about my marriage.

Natasha just celebrated her first birthday in September. We got her from a Wisconsin breeder after we had suffered the loss of our two rescue puppies last year (both due to complications of old age; ironically, both were younger than Kyra). We were worried about Kyra having the stamina to establish herself again over a rescue who might or might not have dominance issues, so we decided that we would get a puppy this time around. This tactic worked beautifully to pull all three of us out of the deepening depression that settled on us as we mourned the loss of two pack-mates within six months of each other, and I can’t say enough about the importance of having a reminder to be joyful living in the house with us.

Now… If I manage to keep up with my NaNoWriMo commitment this year, maybe I’ll sit down again in the new year to finish my own tome on living with and learning from the furry angels who have graced us with their presence.

A Month of Puppy

Natasha - four months old

Natasha - four months old

It’s been a month since we welcomed our newest little girl to the house, and it’s hard to believe how much she has grown and changed… Except when I do a picture comparison. She’s likely over 20 pounds now, and is starting to really evolve into her own personality.

Her most endearing habit: Getting up on the bed with us in the morning (I still have to heft her up at this point, since she’s not *quite* big enough to jump up by herself yet), cuddling up between us, and bathing us both with kisses.

Less happy habits include chewing on speaker wires (I just finished my third splicing effort tonight), and protest pooping when we’re gone in the afternoon. She’s a sneak about that, too, making it all the harder to find “teachable moments”. 😉

She’s still abundantly curious, though we need to continue to work on socialization since she’s a little shy when visitors show up, but it’s a whole lot easier raising a puppy with a fenced back yard than not. When Kyra was this age her zooms through the house would have her bouncing off furniture (and US!), which was a little less comfortable for all involved. As of this afternoon, it seems Natasha has almost integrated “Zoom” as a command, since she was tearing around the yard in circles around me each time I suggested it–high entertainment for both of us!


I’m still looking for a good puppy kindergarten in the Milwaukee area, to refresh us all on obedience–though, as you can see, she already sits pretty on command.

Happiness as Inspiration

cuddled puppies

New puppy and old puppy combine for happy days.

I got an unexpected, early Christmas gift last night: A puppy.

We had lost two of our fur-babies in the past nine months (one in March and one in September), and it’s hard to overstate the impact of grieving on your energy level and general ability to accomplish the things you’d like to get done.

A few hours of puppy therapy, though, and it’s all smiles and big plans for all the things I had hoped to accomplish.

So, after another day or two of honeymooning with our new fur baby, and appreciating her for the joy she brings to our lives, I plan to start with actual book reviews–in keeping with the title I had originally established for this blog.