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I’m Chi.  You might remember me from the last time I snuck into my human’s office and wrote a letter to all of you. I’m back! I’m sorry I was gone so long. It’s not easy sneaking into her office a second time, you know. Plus, I’ve had a lot to contend with these past couple weeks… like my shaved butt.

Yeah, they shaved my butt. And I like it when people play with me, but that was not cool. Mom took me into the vet’s office one day when I thought we were just going out together someplace special. She left me there! Alone! I made sure I pouted at her for the whole time she walked away. Don’t tell her, but I saw my human looked kinda sad and scared. I don’t like to see her look that way.

So then, they took me back into this room and they poked me with something. It made me yelp, and then I got really sleepy. The last thing I remember is the nice lady in the white coat saying she was going to take my picture… I like pictures…

Then, everything was spinning. Spin, spin, kinda like when I chase my tail — only I couldn’t figure out which way was up. And then I woke up really thirsty and I was in a cage thing. I really wanted my humans a lot. I went back to sleep cause I couldn’t do much else.

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I guess I had stitches and things, and it hurt a lot for a while. I hated the big white pills and I spit them out cause it made my humans mad when I did that. Serves them right. Then maybe a week ago, they were talking to someone on the phone and Mom got really happy and squeezed me real tight and everyone got excited. I thought I was going to get some cheese or something. The humans did sneak me some banana. That was ok.

So ever since they have been telling people I am be-nighn, whatever that is. I’m a pug, not this other thing. I think they are confused. My dad looks at me and laughs and says I have a wart on my ass. Well, that’s rude….

You’d think my story was over, but nooooo. Then it started to rain. And it rained, and it rained, and it rained some more. You have to understand that I hate walking in the rain. It makes my big paddle feet wet. And I just don’t like it and I try to find the dry spot near the house or wherever I am so I don’t get wet. It was terrible. One day Mom came home after getting stranded without an umbrella and she was soaked to the skin. The next day she came home early with a bucket and threw water all down the driveway. I really appreciated that she wanted to get rid of the puddle of water so I didn’t have to get my paddles wet.

Later that night and the next day, my humans seemed very upset, and sad. I guess there was so much water that people could not get out and no buckets were enough. They had to get their paddles wet. I am so sad for them. They even told me about a story where a dog like me saved a man from going under the water. I really hope everyone is ok out there…

I better go for now. Bye bye and remember to keep your paddlefeet dry!

Photo disclaimer: Is this yours? Please let us know so we can give appropriate credit!

Always from the days of old men has it been this way

And none born can escape this thing.

–Miu Hsi, “Bearer’s Song”

 

Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. This saying is not Taoist, but it’s still true. The morning dawned bright and warm, and all indications pointed to a fine day. We were in the vet’s office with Chi to make sure he had all his shots up to date. Chi was enjoying interacting with dogs and humans alike. The exam started off normally enough. Chi was healthy, happy. All these things we knew. The vet’s smile faded as she explored Chi.

The sun passed behind a cloud as soon as she uttered the word. It was just a bump, probably nothing. Chi was taken to the back area of the clinic. An aspiration was done. It’s nothing, we all said to each other.

Several days passed, and finally the results came. Mast cells in the blood — not good news. Words like surgery and excision were mentioned. Other words like incontinence, and worse, were also bandied about. More blood tests. Discussions about chest x-rays and paths of treatment… and when not to treat. Surgery was scheduled and it was decided an x-ray would be taken before anything was actually done. If the cancer had spread, we wanted Chi to live a happy rest of his life with us. It was decided that I should take him in and take care of the paperwork and the front-end stuff, and my husband would pick him up after the surgery in the afternoon.

The morning of the surgery, Chi was unusually affectionate, nuzzling my shoulder and offering kisses. The vet met me on the way in, and grinned down at Chi. “Wild man,” she called him. She disappeared behind a door, and soon the vet tech was weighing the pug, and going over instructions. I signed the forms and handed Chi’s leash over to her. I will never forget Chi’s eyes watching me as I left the clinic and headed for the car.

About 30 minutes after I left, my cell phone rang. The x ray had been done. Nothing had spread. Even so, I went about the day’s business on autopilot. Keeping routine and living in the moment were some of the best Lessons Chi had taught me, and I worked them.  I couldn’t relax until he was safely out of surgery. Around noon, it was all over. The vet reported Chi was awake and resting comfortably.

Chi, in essence, had a cancerous bump on his ass. It appears they got it all, and very early. Life has never been so good.

Chi, for his part, milked the occasion as much as he could. The vet techs spoke of his eyes following them back and forth when he came out of anesthesia. He could not really lift his head, but his eyes followed them and he made a game attempt to beg for treats. “I’m so pitiful,” his eyes told us as he walked unsteadily back into the house. With a deep sigh he sank onto the cushions of the loveseat and promptly fell asleep.

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Chi also has built a relationship with the neighbors to the west of us. Well, not with the humans, not really… with the dog.

When we first moved into our home, there was an elderly couple living next door. They eventually packed up and moved away, and the house was vacant for a time. Early one summer, a new family moved in. Young, hard-working, the type of people who rise early in the morning and return home, then do it all over again. A few months after they arrived, they came home one day with a visitor. This visitor liked to bark. A lot. Other neighbors would occasionally walk by, looking for the source of the noise. Some of them didn’t look very happy.

Chi, Jake and I decided to go check it out one day. A wooden fence blocked the yard from view. Through a space in the vats I saw a gangly-looking pit bull, perhaps a year old. It was well-groomed, well cared for, but it was left alone in the backyard. I felt bad for the pup, and made it a part of the daily routine to throw treats over the fence and coo at the young pittie. I also knew socializing the animal was important, especially if it was to be left alone for a certain amount of time.

I let Chi and Jake out to play a lot during that summer. Food, toys, various items made their way over the fence. One day when I went out, a new dog toy had come from the opposite direction. It was all in good fun, and everyone was bonding.

Chi developed something of a crush on his new friend. He’d bounce out the door and run directly over to the fence. Jake, being an old curmudgeon, would banter and harass and bark at the young one across the way. Not Chi. Chi would lay down on a cool brick in the shade, and try to look under the fence and play with the dog.

One day near the end of summer, we were throwing sticks in the backyard and noticed a hole in the fence. I leaned over to examine the hole and started to laugh. The pittie was standing there, tail wagging, clearly admiring his handiwork in chewing off half of the wood beam. The dog didn’t count on the chain-link fence on our side, but still, he had applied himself and wanted everyone to see his accomplishment.

By the end of that week, the entire beam was worked loose and finally fell off. The neighbors quickly hammered a replacement up onto the fence. The replacement was gnawed loose within days. Chi would be very excited during these times.  He wanted to play! My husband and I started discussing building some kind of latched gate for the pittie. The beams of wood hammered up to fill the gap in the fence became wider, still old wood, but wider. The pittie was determined to chew through them all.

Finally, one day when all the leaves were falling off the trees and autumn was giving way to winter, a thicker, bigger, newer beam of wood was hammered into place.  Chi’s new friend has not been able to chew through this one — yet. They still meet at the fence, and treats and toys go back and forth.

But Chi has yet to get his pit bull friend over for a sleepover. He can dream…

that side of the fence

Experience is a riverbed,
Its source hidden, forever flowing:
Its entrance, the root of the world,
The Way moves within it:
Draw upon it; it will not run dry.

— Tao te Ching adaptation by Peter Merel

Chi has a thing for the neighbor over the back fence.  It may have always been so. The neighbor is a kindly old man, rather like the Sage in the stories. He spends endless hours in his yard perfecting the grass, the beautiful flowers. Each tree is cared for and pruned with exquisite attention.

This care extends to Chi. As long as I can remember, the man has called Chi to come to him; preening, mugging, cajoling, teasing. And, as long as I can remember, Chi has had nothing to do with it. Chi runs to the fence like a sentry, barking, hairs standing at attention.  The dance goes back and forth between the two.

I’ve tried to help the old man. Surely, this man would have a treat for Chi. I greet the man, tell Chi the man is a friend. I tap my foot and look annoyed. I yell at our poor pugalicious. Normally, any of these things would stop Chi in mid-bark.  Not this situation; not this neighbor; not this day.

This ritual was playing itself out for the umpteenth time last weekend when a new thought emerged. Maybe this dance, this back-and-forth, was exactly the point. Both seem to enjoy it, no matter how noisy or frustrating it might appear to outsiders. It perfectly illustrates the endless spin of yin and yang, both circling, one sharp, one gentle, The play IS the point.

And, once again, I find Chi teaching me. Humans talk on and on about living life. But those damned rules sometimes stop us from experience. Don’t bark, don’t trample the flowers, don’t be rude, don’t, don’t, don’t.

Getting to the root, the essence of life, IS life. And sometimes, it’s loud and messy.

OUTSIDE VOICES, EVERYONE!

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Photo by Rick Harris.

Photo by Rick Harris.

“… I’m afraid a boat

so small would sink

with the weight

of all my sorrow.”

Li Qingzhao, “Spring at Wu-Ling”

Sometimes we must walk through life as solitary creatures. We may have companions, but, in essence, we are born alone, and die alone… with the exception of the Divine, if you believe in such.

This week just past was one of those times. A cherished friend passed away unexpectedly last Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Funny my choice of topic last time. One could almost infer I knew something was about to happen, but I did not. Maybe it would have been easier if I had.

Chi was always by my side, for he could feel things were “off” somehow, and would curl up on the back of the sofa by my head, or at my side, or somewhere nearby. Even so, this was one of those journeys I felt I had to take alone.

Loss is never easy. In this case it was an invitation to look deeply into the things that make life tick. Friends, small pleasures, moments caught in shards of glass within time. And it was a good chance to practice the Lessons of Chi. I took many walks along shaded, tree-lined parks and sidewalks. I wrote love letters. I sat and reflected on my friend and the ephemeral, fragile nature of this life we lead. I prayed; I cried; I spoke with this one who had finally moved beyond the veil. I played sad songs – mostly for me, not for my friend. I shared many hugs with other friends and acquaintances doing much the same thing. We spoke about our friend and realized, as we shared, that maybe we were all linked more closely than we realized. Complete strangers came to share their thoughts, love, prayers, and energy.

As we walked through the process together, we realized our small boats were, in reality, not so small. There are a lot of boats out there, all sinking under the weight of so much grief. And yet, if you join boats, the boat gets progressively larger and more buoyant.

This event of loss became something much larger, and more life-affirming. We all have this chance to pilot our ship, be it a rowboat, a canoe, a yacht, a cruise liner, or speedboat. It’s up to each of us to make it count.

I am grateful for all who reached out in ways large or small. I am grateful to be sharing this experience of life with each of you. Let us choose to enjoy this grand tour, wherever it leads.

Recently I’ve talked a lot about my experiences with recuperating from a neck injury. During one of these experiences with my acupuncturist, Stephanie, we were talking about the lovely Chi. Stephanie asked if Chi had ever received acupuncture. Of course! What self-respecting Chinese dog has not, especially with one with a name like Chi?

It happened about 5 years ago.

Chi, like many pugs, gets excitable at times. He’s not always the most graceful. Occasionally, he’ll trundle into serious trouble. On this particular day, he was playing with a stuffed ball on an elastic band. And he’d shake, and shake, and whack himself in the head with it. Over and over he would repeat this with no ill effect. He was really getting into it that day. He took one careless step, fell forward, and slammed headfirst into a wooden tv cart.

Poor baby cried, and snuffled, and was completely miserable. Chi would not allow anyone to touch his neck, or console him. We took him to the vet early the next morning. Luckily, he hadn’t broken or ruptured anything. Still, he had a slipped disc and was pretty wonky. One of the staff vets had experience with acupuncture for animals. At the time it seemed a natural thing to do.

Acupuncture being performed on Wallie Fitzpatrick, an 11-year-old pug.

Sadly, we didn’t think to have a camera in the vet’s office way back then. This is acupuncture being performed on Wallie Fitzpatrick, an 11-year-old pug.

One of us held him while the vet began placing the needles. This really wasn’t necessary, although it’s something most acupuncturists would probably prefer just in case. Chi didn’t flinch or make any indication that the needles were troublesome. The vet put in about 10 to 12 needles, clustered around the ruff near the site of the injury and then extending all the way down the spine. After that, the vet left us all to relax for about 15 to 20 minutes. Chi was not restless or in any way bothered. It was something to see. The vet returned, removed the needles, and sent us off with a small prescription of valium in case he became agitated during the healing process.

The prescription was nice, but Chi didn’t need them. He healed completely naturally on his own. He slept most of that first day, and exhibited some stiffness over the following 48 hours or so.

Skeptics may respond that natural healing time is around the same. I’m not a vet, and can’t really respond to that. I can say without any reservation that Chi’s level of discomfort went way down almost immediately.

So, if your adult pug or animal is showing signs of arthritis, pain, or other issues, acupuncture may be for you. Check with your vet.

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy. – Spider Robinson

Pain

Pain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week was a time of great stress – deadlines, evaluations, things to get done everywhere I looked. As the days crept along, my neck bore the burden. It was tight on Monday, aching on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had my quarterly review at work. When it was over, I was finally starting to relax. Suddenly, my neck snapped out of alignment. Pain, great pain. That night I woke up and couldn’t rest at all. Of course, the dogs sensed my discomfort.

The two Manchester terriers, Cara and Mara, both wanted to make me feel better – literally. They both jumped up by my face, licking me. Despite my best efforts, the natural reflex to protect the neck kicked in, making me jerk in pain.  They kept licking and trying to get me to move or play to feel better. While this is great puppy therapy most of the time, it was decidedly wrong for this particular occasion. They were summarily dismissed from my presence due to the fresh pain they unknowingly caused.

Chi waited until the terriers had gone to lay across the room, and then he came up close to me.

“No, Chi! Go! It hurts! Go!”  After several rounds of this, I gave up. Chi refused to leave.

The pug gingerly step-stumbled over my legs, and curled up in a ball at my feet. He snuffled with considerable nervousness.  I was still mumbling my objections. Finally I gave up and let Chi stay there at my feet.

It may hurt my pride to admit that some relatively small amount of time passed before I fell sound asleep. And, once again, I became aware of how wonderful Chi is at the fine art of being present to someone else’s pain. By insisting on “being there,” Chi made the pain seem bearable. From that point, the time passed quickly until I could go see my chiropractor and get some treatment.

The next time your animal wants to simply lie with you or rest against you, don’t be quite so fast to send them away. They may well be giving you a gift.

In the meantime, I have an hour of massage scheduled for myself tomorrow. Time to rest and rejuvenate!

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Related articles

Hi. This is Chi.

I took over Mom’s computer tonight for one reason. I am here to tell you that I hate Facebook.

Mommy sits on the computer all day and night. When she comes home, does she take time to snuggle her pug? NO. She gets on Facebook and talks to other pug people. And she writes about me. ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it’s embarrassing, like the time she pinned my picture to some strange French Bulldog’s wall. My belly was flashed all over the world in a millisecond! What about my puggy privacy!!!! And then there’s the thing that happened yesterday with some trollop named Anderson Pooper. I know the NSA has files on me now. I’m humiliated and I can never leave the house again!

And you know what’s the worst? She will get into fights with people she doesn’t know and will never meet. Mommy, if you want to fight, we can play tug-o-war. I’ll growl real loud and snuffle and spray snot all over you! I can do that real good.

And then there’s the people who are gonna save the world. These people are funny. Mommy likes them too and she wants me to make friends with them. I don’t know, I’m just a pug. I like to lay in the grass and stare at dandelions. I don’t get how that can change the world. Mommy thinks it can, though. That and squirrels. And rabbits. I want to chase them and play games. Mom doesn’t get it.

Oh, GAMES! Those stupid Facebook games! If I see one more Bejeweled Blitz invite on the side of my pug wall, I’ll unsubscribe Mom just to watch her cry. And there’s the trolls. I had one troll on my Facebook page, once. The person apparently didn’t like bacon. How can anyone not like bacon?

Yeah, Mommy loves her Facebook. It is kinda cool though when people get together on Facebook and do nice things. Things like find all the puppies and horses and cats and llamas and stuff spread out from the Black Forest Fire. People got together on Facebook and got puppies like me reunited with their families. I would be pretty happy if Facebook brought me back to my mommy if we got separated.

And sometimes an animal gets into trouble. Sometimes mean people want to hurt animals. And sometimes people on Facebook will give money to rescue animals like me.  Sometimes they take them to the vet, though. That can’t be cool.

Mommy’s coming. I’d better go.

I HATE FACEBOOK!

Prompt courtesy of The Daily Post.

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Verse 26 – Gravity is the Root of Lightness

Gravity is the root of lightness,
Stillness is the master of passion.

The Sage travels all day
But does not leave the baggage-cart;
When surrounded by magnificent scenery
Remains calm and still.

When a lord of ten thousand chariots
Behaves lightly in this world,
Lightness loses its root,
Passion loses its master.”

~ “Tao Te Ching Lao-Tzu”, translated by Sephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo

I’ve been reflecting still more on Chi’s sense of quiet, of flowing like water.  The thing that is really wonderful about working with the Tao Te Ching, of taking the low road, is that you learn an entirely new way of reacting — actually, not reacting — to things as you practice.

In our Western world we are encouraged to “strike while the iron is hot” ; “seize the day”; “take control”; “be assertive”; “don’t be a doormat”… and on and on the advice goes. Be strong, strike hard. Many of us become addicted to this confrontational, competitive style. It’s no wonder. These qualities are often listed among the most attractive traits for managers and entrepreneurs in the contemporary business world. These personality markers also thrive outside the office. Within sports, games, even personal improvement programs there is often found competition and different scenes of what could easily be called battle.

Chi sees most everything in his own puggy time. He is, as the Sage above, calm and still. (Unless there is a squirrel.) By allowing all of the millions things to move around him he gets to experience much more of his puggy world, rather than chase every single thing as his sisters do.

I am trying to allow time to flow like that for me as well, be it at work, or at home. Surrendering and flowing with things allows me to relax. It allows new creativity to flow. And, amazingly, I accomplish more than I would if I was running around after everything.

This also works beautifully in relationships. Allow people to come and go. Stay in the baggage cart being taken from place to place. Force nothing. Embrace the moment and be grateful. These seem like simple tasks. They are deceptive.

So, until next time, I am going to continue to practice this new receptivity, this new yin way of relating to the world. If you try it too, share how it goes for you!

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou...

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou 中文: 福建泉州老君岩 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take good care of my… baby….

There’s a lot of taking care of a dog, you can bet on that. Exercise. Grooming. Bling. Vaccinations. Dental work. Toys. bones. Special toys when the dog won’t play with the toys he’s already got. (Don’t judge.)

And yet, there are so many more moments when we take care of our pets.  Think about it a little while.

There’s the time Chi stepped on a piece of gravel. He stopped, plopped down on the ground, and cried until we stopped and plucked it out. And who can forget the cross country trip with Chi in the back of the car? He’d sit, cry softly despite the low-grade tranquilizer we’d give him.. and then howl as if he’d been stabbed when we had to stop and go inside the convenience store to use the restroom. So intense was his fear of separation that we had to take turns sitting and soothing Chi while we were doing even simple things while travelling. This went on for a very long time… although fortunately for all of us, he’s getting to be an old pro in the car now.

We could go on and on with these stories, large and small, about how we take care of our pets. There’s another way still we can look at taking care. We can look at how our pets take care of us.

If I allowed Chi to tell this story he’d talk about how I sometimes come home tired, overworked and overemotional about some silly thing which happened through the course of my day. He’d tell about trying to get me to stop — just stop. Mommy, lie down and smell the dandelions for a while. He tries to get me to pet him. Petting him calms me down. And there is always the best thing of all — I can give him treats! He swears it makes me feel better, but I’m not so sure about that one.

In the morning, Chi is my litmus test for the morning. If I’m tired, he’ll try to burrow me in and trap me under the covers. If I greet the day with a smile and gratitude, he wants to play. I always do feel great when I take that extra moment to play with him. And then we have the “conversation”. I’ve mentioned this conversation before, and I am sure I’ll mention it again. “Mommy has to go to work now.” Chi is always displeased with this, even when I remind him I do it to be able to get him more doggy bling.

It’s a dog’s world, after all. Dogs can be pretty smart about teaching us how to take care of ourselves. How do your pets take care of you?

Thanks to the Daily Prompt for the inspiration.

 

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