Everyone had a great time. After 14 days of family celebration at sea and a few extra on land we’re finally back home. My bags and body sat for a few days in New York trying to get rid of the London fog in the center of my chest. A bonus I brought home from England. (As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.)
Sunday I gave up. On Christmas Day, I ‘snowbirded’ south. I quit trying to accept the chill and finally gave in to the call of South Beach and the end of gloomy and cold weather. Somehow being sick in warm weather eases the pain of being under it. Unless you have a dog.
Having a dog. You have to always pretend you’re well. You can never be sick. Look sick. Feel sick. Succumb to even the thought of being unwell. Dogs have to be fed and walked no matter how much more comfortable the couch is. Twice a day, I slip on flip flops, bypass the pile of unopened mail on the floor and shuffle out of the house with wads of Kleenex to stifle my coughs, counting my steps until I can lie down again, hoping I don’t run into anyone in the elevator.
So here I sit, lie, cough, my luggage still sitting like two heavy bouncers by the door. Maybe today I’ll get them upstairs. Unpacking is another story. When all my clean underwear is gone? Sounds like a plan.
On Monday after his morning walk our sweet rescued Pesto became paralyzed in an instant. After our vet recommended a neurologist within an hour he was headed to the MRI and resulting disc surgery.
During all this drama our car was in the shop so I had to rely on the car service Uber to get us back and forth the veterinary office.
The trip we made to pick up Pesto after his operation, Uber sent us a very interesting Egyptian driver, an accountant by trade, who had been in this country about two years. He met online and married a woman living in Miami from Honduras.
Before coming to America he said he never could understand how Americans could feel so strongly about their dogs. In Egypt dogs wander the streets and they are never incorporated into the family unit, but he added that his wife has a little Yorky and he has fallen in love with her. She greets him with all of her wiggles as soon as he opens the door and makes him feel loved. It has taken this experience with the little dog to change his whole life’s mindset about the relationship between animals and human beings. He said that indeed they do have souls and they can love. An admitted revelation he never would’ve experienced had he not come to America.
To me this has been a learning experience, or lesson in cultural understanding, that if we could take this on to a bigger picture and walk in each other shoes, then maybe, we could understand one another much better. The curious custom of loving a pet and regarding them as a part of the family could only be understood by him until he experienced it.
As we arrived home my husband told Ahmed how much Pesto’s treatment cost. He threw up his hands in dismay. “Do you know in Egypt I could get married, have a big wedding and buy a house equal to that!”
Pesto do you really know how lucky you are to live in America ?!
In 1979 my son, Emerson, his sisters and I piled into the car and headed out to our local ASPCA looking for the perfect pet for them to come home to after school. They quickly picked a black furry ball who never stopped wiggling in her cage. She was definitely the one. A schnauzer poodle mix, the nameless pup was placed in the middle of two kids in the back seat and had found a forever home at the Harts.
Now, if you have ever been to any of Emerson’s solo concerts, he often gives his big sisters credit for introducing him to music of the late 70’s and 80’s. Therein lies the name of our new wiggly friend, Quiche Lorraine, from the B-52’s 1979 song of the same name. It just seemed such an obvious fit.
So, in the end Quiche Lorraine, lived for 20 years; long enough to see her young master learn to play the guitar, write songs about girls and trucks, and grow up to write his first platinum album, Lemon Parade. She stayed around just long enough.
So here is on Flashback Friday a memory tribute to the early influence of rock in Emerson’s life, the B-52’s and Emerson and his sisters’ best friend, Quiche Lorraine. A child of the 50’s Bill Haley and the Comets “Rock Around The Clock” was my introduction to Rock, and of course that older guy with whom I celebrate a birthday, Elvis. A high five to the evolution of Rock and Roll.
While walking along the beach the other day with my two rescued pups, Sofi and Pesto (who constantly lives up to his name) I was thinking about life and as individuals how our perception on “just being” varies.
Sofi merrily bounces along in life without a care, along the beach, in the park, everywhere. People just love her because in spite of her bow-legs, pigeon-toes and under-bite (but she does have a gorgeous tail that curls high over her back) Sofi is a clown, loving me, I think, but loyal to no one but herself. I often fear that should I forget to be a good mom, she would easily take up with another who’s pastures seem greener. Sofi’s cheerful independence is catching and it makes me happy to be with her.
Pesto, on the other hand, is like Crazy Glue, I can’t walk, talk, sit or work without his trying to get on my lap, under my feet or stuck to my side. I can’t pick him up without his trying to infect me with every germ he has breeding in his long and slimy tongue. I try to give Pesto the extra love he needs, but his neediness and blatant insecurity makes me weary. In other words, I do love him in spite of himself, but Pesto weighs me down at times.
Sofi’s Lesson: We each are unique packages, not one like another. It is our inner package that shines through with independence and a zest for life that helps make us attractive to others. Having confidence in that difference and realizing that it does truly make us special allows us the freedom to be happy with ourselves and honors the fact that we are comfortable with who we are.
She was running. Running from what she could never reveal. Running to go home, sorry she ever left? Running for her life? We’ll never know because the authorities picked her up before her end game could unfold. If she even had one.
She must have decided her escape route would be the backroads of Oldham, a small town north of Lexington in Kentucky. Safer, or maybe a better way home. The county sheriff apprehended her. Ended her plans. Picked her up with her hair all askew, her primitive tattoo obscured by the unwashed skin on her stomach. She was a mess in more ways than one. Nothing else to do but throw her in prison. Lock her up safely behind bars to keep her from running again.
Well actually it was the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, the first security institution to be built in Kentucky since the Kentucky State reformatory in 1937. The mission there is to prepare incarcerated felons to be capable of contributing to society in a positive manner upon release through the use of constructive classification, program and work assignment opportunities. What better place for her.
It was during her eight week incarceration there, that I first heard about Frannie through my daughter, Alison. She has always been active in rescuing those in need and when she met with Frannie, she immediately realized that her mother and Frannie would be able to help one another. Kindred souls, so to speak.
Frannie was in Camp Canine at the correctional complex, a joint venture between The Humane Society, Animal Control and Dr. Phil Heye LaGrange Animal Hospital. The program has 14 inmates and 12 dogs. Twelve trainers,one clerk and one janitor to take care of the messes. The inmates are responsible for the dogs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Frannie was assigned to one of those inmate handlers. During the course of this program the dogs are trained in basic obedience commands, so they will be more adoption friendly. Each dog must pass the AKC “Canine Good Citizens Test”.
I was on pins and needles during Frannie’s jail time. I was accepted as her adoptive mother, so that hurdle was jumped, but would she pass her tests and graduate? With my three children (none of whom have ever been in jail, thankfully) I had already been there and done that, so I was not too keen at my ‘over fifty’ age on going through this one more time. I was in love with my new little girl and did not want to be heartbroken if she had to stay longer or, as in some cases, not graduate at all.
Finally, the call came and I boarded a Continental flight to Cincinnati where Alison drove me to the Correctional Complex. Without phone or anything that would ‘bling’ I passed through the metal detectors and my Frannie was brought out with a bright yellow lead around her neck. She was beautiful and, for me, it was love at first sight. She was a year old cream-colored Lhasa Apso with a flowing plumed tail curled over her back. I cried. The administrator cried. I was told Frannie’s handler (we are both anonymous to one another) also cried as he handed her over for her jail walk to meet her new mother.
My husband’s late mother was named Frannie, so it was rather awkward calling our new dog the same name. Frannie quickly became Sofi (we live in Sofi in South Beach, Florida) and she has been a wonderful part of our family for four years now. Each Christmas Sofi sends a card to the folks at Camp Canine with a request to hand it over to her handler. And every time she curls next to me or looks up at me with that sweet face, I am so glad that she got in trouble and wound up in prison. Sometimes prison can be a good thing under certain circumstances. Incarceration in her case gave both of us a second chance for a new and better life.*
*My husband and I had been mourning the death in the months prior to finding Sofi our six year old Harley, a Shih Tzu.