Hi, Mom,

While I stayed with you recently, a frequent visitor to Presbyterian Village dropped by with his little Dachshund. Peaches moved slowly and had a graying muzzle, and you patted her like you two were old friends. After they left, we talked about dogs, and I reminded you about how you always fixed extra oatmeal on cold mornings because dogs needed warm tummies, too.

I told you about a man in Colorado Springs who walks his two huge rescue dogs in our neighborhood each day, and the greyhound that we took your great-grandchildren to visit at the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene. When I reminded you of our dog, Maggie, who cheered up Dad when he was alive, I was careful to describe her recent surgery that left a line of stitches on both sides of her body where benign fatty tumors had been removed. I didn’t tell you that one tumor was so large that for a week after the surgery she had a shunt in her side for draining the fluids. Instead, I showed you only the cute picture of her clad in Jim’s old tee-shirt with her Thunder Shirt over that to keep her from scratching at the sutures. I said Maggie looked like a parochial third grader in her school uniform, and you laughed.

On your shelves you had a book of quotations, and I looked up dog quotes.  Gene Hill wrote: “Whoever said you can’t buy Happiness forgot little puppies,” and you said you grew up with cute puppies. I read more quotes, and the one you nodded and smiled at was by author Edith Wharton, who was also one of the first founders of the ASPCA. Wharton said, “My little dogs…heartbeats at my feet.”  Will Rogers wrote, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” I said Dad was probably enjoying all our family’s dogs and cats and pets in Heaven, and you agreed.

Because of all the expenses with Maggie’s surgery, I laughed at a quote by author Jen Lancaster: “Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.” But I didn’t confuse you with that quote, nor the one by Nora Roberts from her novel The Search: “Everything I know, I learned from dogs.”

I also didn’t read aloud this one by Gordon Korman: “The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down.” But Gordon Korman is also the author of No More Dead Dogs. Hmmm. I’ll check it out. It might be a good book for me to bring and read to you.

Or maybe we’ll just take a walk or wait for Peaches. We’ll do something special–we always think of something.   Love, Marylin

Maggie with shunt in side after surgery. Probably not good for showing to young children or old great-grandmothers.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for great-grandchildren, neighbors

33 responses to “HEARTBEATS AT OUR FEET

  1. Carrie Rubin

    We were only able to enjoy the pleasure of a dog in our home for eight days until we found out my husband was horribly allergic to it. Needed his inhaler and everything. I don’t think my boys have quite forgiven him since. 🙂

    • Oh, Carrie, I am so sorry. I had pets of all kinds (including dogs, rabbits, seahorses, and even a tiny allegator) to make up for my brother’s allergies to cats. I could never have a kitten, and I resented my brother BIG time for that. When I was on my own and my daughter wanted a kitten, I realized nothing was stopping me. Abbra was my daughter’s beloved cat, and through the years we added Solomon and Calla Lily (we got a little carried away, making up for cat-less lives). Tell your boys they can go overboard when they’re on their own, but you’re keeping Dad around in the meantime. ;=) p.s. When my brother had kids, he took shots so they could have cats.

      • My boys kept telling my husband he should get “shots.” But hubby decided five years or so of weekly injections just wasn’t going to happen. 🙂 As you say, my boys will have to fill their home with pets when they’re grown. Of course, my husband probably won’t be able to stay there if we visit…

      • Trust me, once you have grandchildren, you will want to visit them OFTEN, so your husband might end up wishing he’d taken those shots after all!

  2. Jim

    Thank goodness the dog didn’t die in LASSIE, COME HOME or I might never have read another book as a child. Also, we don’t want blog readers to worry about Maggie–she is healing beautifully and has already shown she “hasn’t lost a step” while chasing squirrels up a tree or playing herding games with a puppy.

  3. Nancy Saltzman

    I loved reading this column. 🙂 I’m going back to bed to snuggle with Nacho and Macy.

  4. dianabletter

    That quote about owning a dog being more expensive than doing crack is hysterical! I love what you wrote–I shared about my dog on my blog, today, too. Also, Marilyn, I have a few questions to ask you because you’ve been nominated as my “IDEAL READER.” Yay! Get out your pompoms! If you can, please contact me at dianabletter@gmail.com. Thanks so much!

    • Thank you, Diana. I’ll contact you today. I feel so honored.
      The quote about dogs being more expensive than crack made me laugh out loud, and I had to include it. Now I have a general idea of how expensive crack is! I’d rather invest the money in Maggie!

  5. Oh! You improvised the way I did – instead of using the cone of shame. I’m so happy! What a sweet dog, and the big rescue dogs – gorgeous! I agree with the quote about happiness. A puppy can make almost anyone smile. A good dog is a joy.
    I never, let me repeat, never read dog or horse stories or view animal movies. They always die. I hate that.

  6. I still remember the trauma I felt when I watched “Where the Red Fern Grows.” We owe a great debt of gratitude to our four legged friend who walk beside us on our journeys…

  7. Absolutely. There are times, truly, when I realize Maggie understands and knows so much more than I do, and she’s here to help me figure things out.

  8. Did you ever see “My Dog Skip”? I cry every time. And I’m a cat lover, but that quote by Edith Wharton is making me ache for a little pooch.

  9. Oh, no. I’d forgotten about it…until you reminded me. What a wonderful story with many touching–and sad–scenes. Through the years we’ve had both cats and dogs, and we’ve treasured them all. If you’re aching for a little pooch, Darla, go to your Humane Society. There are lots of little sweeties aching for good homes.

  10. Oh poor Maggie. I so enjoy you sharing the memories of you and your mom. 🙂

  11. Thanks for sharing these quotes about dogs. I’m not a dog person but in the past 6 months, I’ve read A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey, both excellent. I can say one of your quotes applies perfectly to these two books.

  12. I was raised with all kinds of pets (dogs, rabbits, goldfish, sea horses, and even a baby alligator that lost its appeal quickly), but I couldn’t have a kitten because my brother was VERY allergic to cats. So of course I thought cats were my favorites. Years later when my daughter wanted a kitten, Abbra turned out to be wonderful, followed by Solomon and Calla Lily, and this was while we also had dogs! Now we have just Maggie and can’t imagine being without her. I’m curious which of the quotes applies perfectly to the two books you read. I hope it was one of the better quotes.

  13. jakesprinter

    I have 6 dogs too , I really love your post my friend 🙂

    • Thank you, Jake. I’m not at all surprised that you’re a dog lover, too. My dad never trusted anyone who would hurt a dog or a child, and his first instinctive reaction of someone’s goodness was how he watched them, from a distance, treat animals and children. I know he would have liked you, Jake.

  14. Molly


    Your blog definitely hit home, very strongly this week…..with Duchess getting out of the yard, and being sent to doggie jail for one night…..the tears and heartache from the kids (especially Grace) was painful. Luckily, Trevor brought her home the next day, safe and sound……BUT….. it just show how these creatures become so important in our lives…..Thanks for sharing more wonderful stories about Grandma. Love it!

  15. Grandma would share these stories with Grace and Gannon if she could. I’m glad that you and I are filling in the gap so they’ll what wonderful great-grandparents they had!

  16. Gordon Korman’s “No More Dead Dogs” is hysterical. I loved the quote you mentioned and his book. Nora Ephron wrote, “When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”
    Loved your post, Marilyn.

  17. How sweet. I’m allergic to animals, but had a cat anyway til recently. Miss him like crazy.

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