The Lawn Chair is Empty


Lord of the Lawn Chair

Oct 20, 2006 – Sept 16, 2019

My feet are cold; there is no dog laying across them. He was always there, Wrinkles, from the first day he arrived at my house. Always at my feet, drooling on my toes, leaning against my leg, shadowing me. Indeed, he was my shadow.

He was my heart.

He never let me out of his sight. Even the past few days, when his back legs wouldn’t cooperate, he’d pull himself across the floor so he could be next to me. So I made it easier on him … I just carried him wherever I was going.

I love dogs. And I loved this one fiercely.

My secret dog … years and years past, Bruce told me he only wanted dogs with “proper snouts,” and so I couldn’t get a pug. But Juliana Wence, my beautiful friend, needed a new home for Wrinkles. She gave him to me one August, ten summers past. The greatest gift I have ever received in all my years on this planet. That I was getting a pug … Wrinks … was a secret I’d kept from Bruce. I guess it was one of those better to ask forgiveness than permission things. But I’m too strong-willed for the permission-route anyway. Good thing Bruce also fell in love Wrinks.

He slept between my feet in bed at night … until this past year when he started to fail and I was worried if he jumped off or fell he’d injure himself. And so he slept on a pillow next to the bed, and he snored loud enough so I could hear him. Pug snores usually lulled me to sleep. Comforting, you understand. My personal white-noise generator.

It was too quiet last night.

I could write a lot about him–his habits, favorite foods, how we shared the couch on football Sundays. How I’d slip him cheese when no one was watching. I slipped him into my Piper Blackwell mystery books. The Wrinks in those books … that Wrinkles will never die.

He attached himself to my soul. On my worst days all I had to do was look at him, and I’d smile. A good dog does that to you–makes everything better.

But everything is pretty damn awful right now.

If you’re lucky, you come across a dog or two in your life that sounds a special chord and insinuates himself into your soul. Wrinkles was one of those special dogs … my heart-dog, I called him.

I know it’s about the dash. Not the years listed on a birth and death certificate, but the dash between those years. Wrinkles had an excellent dash. Still, I will miss him terribly.

There is nothing to stop the trains from jumping the track and crashing into my back yard.

And the lawn chair is empty.

Dog Tired and Trying to Write

I have an old dog with health issues, and I get up during the night to check on him. I have a puppy that’s not yet housebroken … a youngling that needs to go outside every couple of hours. I get up for her, too. I’m tired. Dog tired. I should be working on my novella, a short story, and a novel right now. But I’m yawning. And rather than give in to the temptation to take a nap, I thought I’d write a blog. At least it is writing. I love my dogs … all four of them. I can’t imagine life without dogs. And I know this dog-tired phase will pass and the puppy will get older and I won’t have to get up in the wee hours so she can wee.

It is amazing to have a puppy. Look past the accidents and all the things she tries to chew on and get into.

Look at the world through her eyes.

It makes me feel new. Tired, but new.

She dances after butterflies and chases grasshoppers. She tastes dandelions and barks at lightning bugs.

I imagine that she is constantly asking: What is this? And this? And this? Can I eat this? Can I play with it?

She runs. A pug, she has an amazing amount of energy. ShegoesnonstopandracesaroundtheyardcirclecirclecirclechasesmyLabradorandtriestopounceontheBoston.

And when she finally wears down … and this takes a while … she looks for a good place to snuggle. Usually that spot is next to Wrinkles, my elderly pug who apparently makes a good pillow. Sometimes she settles next to the Lab, demonstrating just how small she is.

Both pugs were given to me, a decade apart. Wrinkles from my beautiful friend Juliana Wence. And Hunny the puppy from my beautiful friend Jeni Hudson. How blessed am I?

My dogs make me a better writer.

They force me to take computer breaks, to toss tennis balls, to refill the kiddie pool. To feed them on schedule. To scratch their bellies. I write better when I take breaks. I write energized.

They keep my feet warm. Wrinkles always drapes himself across my toes, and the pup … when she tires out … wedges herself between my heels. I sprinkle them in my Piper Blackwell mystery books. I’m plotting the fourth book now.

Writing this blog has perked me up a bit–or maybe that’s the second huge mug of hot cinnamon tea working into my veins. I’m gonna go write on one of my projects now … on my laptop out on my back porch because the weather is fine, I refilled the kiddie pool, and there is a fresh can of tennis balls. Yeah, I’m gonna play with the dogs first. Then I’ll write.

I am happy and fortunate to be dog tired.