I’ll Never Let You Go…

Thirteen years ago, Patrick and I bought our first real home and moved in. I had always promised him that we’d get a dog when we got our own home. We brought Biscuit home on September 11, 2004. He’s a Snow White Tibetan Spaniel and rather fond of shoes, paper and wood. For a year, he chewed his way through our house, destroying window sills, base boards, furniture, tennis shoes, flip flops, expensive coffee table books, entire rolls of toilet paper. My boss told me that Biscuit was bored and lonely, and needed a companion. I told him that he was crazy. I needed another dog like a hole in my head. So…I looked at local pet rescue agencies and found a female Tibetan Spaniel at Atlanta Pet Rescue. We trekked en masse to APR to let Biscuit and the lady Tibbie meet. She had ZERO interest in him. Zilch. Feeling rather disappointed, we searched for another option. Standing amidst 40 raucous, barking dogs, Skyler looked like the chillest dog ever. He wasn’t jockeying for attention…he had a calm smile on his face and looked so happy. So we introduced Biscuit and Skyler…

The boys hit it off instantly. Biscuit is naturally submissive and ridiculously docile. Skyler had the domineering personality typical of chihuahuas (he was a papillon chihuahua mix, we think). We took him home and I went back to work for the remainder of the day. Fast forward to five o’clock…Andy calls me and asks if I had turned the new dog over. Erm, no. Andy told me that Skyler had giant swollen black testicles. He was supposed to be neutered!!! I called the vet in total panic. I assumed that he was going septic and/or had gangrene. She assured me that he was merely suffering from a post-op infection and that we could bring him in the morning for an antibiotic shot. I was certain he’d be in ICU by dawn. Skyler’s balls healed nicely after all. Unfortunately, he had contracted kennel cough and passed it along to Biscuit. Their first month together was spent miserably ill, sleeping in twin round dog beds, side-by-side, forming a very special bond. 

I have so many stories about Biscuit and Skyler…it’s going to be difficult to condense 12 years worth of love. My heart hurts everyday because he’s gone now, but I have to record all of this, even the pain. It’s all part of how much we loved him. 

Running away: Skyler was my Olympic runner. He could dart out the door if you gave him three inches of space. He’d be bounding down the street, jaunty tail fanning out behind him like a flag. I’m fast on my feet, and Patrick is like lightning, but Skyler was cheetah-on-a-rocket fast. You couldn’t catch him unless he stopped to eat, poop or snarl at another dog. For Sky, it was all a game. He’d turn around and laugh at you, eyes sparkling, chest heaving, before taking off again like Flo Jo. After nearly being run over by cars chasing him, we learned to just let him roam. His microchip saved him on several occasions. 

Eating terrible things: Skyler spent an unknown amount of time as stray. Someone obviously cared for him as a puppy, but he escaped into the world and had to survive on his own. He was supremely scrappy and resourceful. Week old catfood, chicken wing bones, raisin oatmeal cookies stolen from a toddler, leathery, sun-baked bullfrog roadkill, an entire pack of Xylitol-laden chewing gum, steamed broccoli, giant green grasshoppers…the world was his buffet. We spent many a late night at GVS getting emetics and watching him yak up his strange meals. 

Singing, dancing and paw pumping: Skyler had quite a few talents that we discovered in time. Cell phone ringtones bothered him and he’d sing and howl when certain tunes played. Canned Heat was his favorite/least favorite. I have a few videos and, boy, could he sing! When I’d come in the door after a long day, he was certain to greet me at the door, jumping up on his hind legs, dancing around and pumping his front paws. He taught Biscuit to pump his paws too; only, Biscuit does it when he’s laying on his back. 

Puking on my head: I still laugh out loud telling this story. I was home one day from work, sick as a dog, suffering from a sinus infection and bronchitis, laid out on the sofa like a corpse. Biscuit and Skyler were snuggled up behind me. Suddenly I felt a wet “SPLAT”! on my head and shoulder. I woke up instantly, hearing the blurp, blurp, blurp noises as Skyler heaved and prepared to unload more. My screams scared him and he popped up on the back of the sofa, where he proceeded to puke again. I yelled more and he jumped down onto the rug. BLURP, BLURP, BLURP! Boom! Right on the rug! Dripping with vile, goopy kibble, I bellowed again, and propelled Skyler across the rug (scooting him across like a shuffleboard puck) until he landed on the hardwood floor near the sliding glass doors. BLURP! I opened the door, deposited him outside and watched in disbelief as he dry-heaved. It took me an hour to clean up everything. Poor little guy looked so contrite. I think he was so sympathetic that he got sick to more fully commiserate with me. Or he snarfed his food down too quickly…

Attacking other dogs big and small (mastiffs, Doberman, etc.): Skyler only ever liked three dogs…Biscuit, Bella and Hudson Lou. He loved all people and only three dogs. As a stray, he must have used his hysterical behavior to deter other dogs from approaching him. He’d rear up on his hind legs, pumping and snarling. He was pure ferocity, all twelve pounds of him. Skyler would run up to the biggest dogs and jump right in their faces. He’d also terrorize the smallest four pound teacup poodles. I never knew how fierce the attack would be. He reserved his toughest fronts for the most gargantuan canines…the bull mastiffs and the Dobermans. Sky loved to run pell-mell into the backyard of the 150 pound male and female mastiffs, giddily riling them into a frenzy. The female dog was so big and strong that she could crash through a stained glass door. She could have swallowed Skyler whole. His second favorite dog to antagonize was the nearby Dobie. Skyler went right for the jugular…and almost reached his chest. Almost. 

Befriending Bella and Hudson Lou: Skyler had an immediate repoire with Hudson, a second generation cockapoo. I think Skyler perceived him as a twin. Huddie was jumbly and gregarious, without a mean bone in his shaggy frame. He rocked a faux hawk and the sweetest smile. Skyler wasn’t so taken with Bella right away. She was a gorgeous golden retriever, long flowing locks and a goofy, harmless demeanor. She’d lay down and pee on herself when my boys approached. Skyler would snarl and jump on her. It took years before he realized that Bella meant no harm. 

Finding friendly humans to rescue him: Skyler regularly escaped and seemed to have a knack for finding hospitality wherever he landed. Once he spent two nights away from home. We were massively worried, especially since coyotes regularly roamed our neighborhood. I put up reward posters in all the surrounding communities. I checked with our vet’s office. I was going to start calling shelters and animal control, when I got a strange phone call. All I heard, in a tiny voice with a soft accent, was “reward?”. I said “yes, do you have my dog?”. The response…”yes, reward?”. I could tell that I was definitely speaking with a young Hispanic boy. He kept repeating the request while I was trying to get an address so I could bring him his reward. Skyler had wandered into a nearby apartment complex. I knew that it was full of big dogs when we drove up because the barks resonated all around the dark parking area. Wandering to the back side of the building, we found the right door and knocked. To my surprise, an entire family, full of friendly, smiling faces, welcomed us when the door opened, including Skyler standing in the center of the crowd. The little boy came up and said “reward?”. I laughed and said, “yes, absolutely.” He couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8, very close to Patrick’s age at the time. His relatives didn’t seem to speak any English, and he only spoke limited phrases. I handed him his cash reward. He thanked me and told me “We fed him a lot. He was hungry.” To which I replied, “He always is”. The boy translated this to his family and they all started laughing. No one could believe that this slender, tiny, scrawny, 12 lb dog was always hungry. I thanked them all profusely and carted Skyler off in my arms. 

Attacking cicadas: Biscuit and Skyler loved cicada season at Otter Creek. They would chase the wildly buzzing bugs all over the huge deck. They were too afraid to actually bite the loud insects, but they’d spend ages toying with them. I even have video (sadly I can’t post it here, but it does exist).

Eating grasshoppers: Skyler also loved to nosh on those enormous green grasshoppers. I saw him grab one in his front paws, rip the head off and snack on it like it was popcorn. Biscuit watched the entire scene, head cocked in curiosity. He never ate strange things like Sky. 

Chasing Biscuit: Nothing excited Skyler more than tussling with Biscuit. He’d chase him all over the basement carpet, tearing around the quilting tables like two race cars. Skyler took particular interest in Biscuit after they had baths. He’d hump Biscuit repeatedly, which never bothered Biscuit (he’s a very docile, submissive dog). 

Destroying Loofah dogs: I’ve bought tons of dog toys to please the boys, but their absolute favorites were the Loofah dogs. In case you aren’t familiar, they are long, skinny, soft dog toys that look a bit like Dachsunds and usually have one or two squeaky bits inside. They’d parade all over the house, fighting to have both instead of sharing. The loofah dogs would last a few hours, and then I’d find stuffing everywhere. 

Smelling like a tortilla chip: Yeah, he smelled like a tortilla chip when he hadn’t been bathed in a month or more. I think it was the oils and lanolin in his coat. I miss that smell. 

Looking like a Dr. Seuss Character after being groomed: I’ll have to dig up a photo depicting this. It’s hilarious. The groomer made his feet look huge, shrunk his body, left his head poofy and gave him a massively fanned out tail. 

Traveling cross country: In 2015, I packed up my BMW 3 series, loaded up the boys in their seat belt harnesses and got them situated in plush dog beds in the black seat. We went all the way from Atlanta to San Diego and back, with stops along the way to visit family and friends. Skyler ran away in El Paso, making new friends with a military family on base. He endured gastric episodes every other day, with vomiting and diarrhea. I never could figure out what was causing all of his distress. It took months to slightly solve the riddle…he could no longer eat grains…just protein and veggies. In San Diego, my cousin Summer Lee took incredible care of him and helped him recover from his illness. She kept him at her vet office while her mom and dad took me sailing around Coronado. He and Biscuit would take turns sleeping in the car, so there was ever a watchful eye on me and the road. Skyler was always a great car dog, never whining or running around with stress. He’d curl up and get cozy. Even Biscuit seemed to relax and enjoy the ride. We were the Three Musketeers, braving maurauding motorcycle gangs, crackheads and goats head burrs (if you’ve never experienced one of these spiky monsters, consider yourself VERY lucky). And a wave on the beach that nearly washed us all away…well, Biscuit at least. I’m so thankful we had that trip together. So many special memories. 

Nursing me through depression again and again: Skyler was the most empathetic little dog I have ever known. Scientists say that dogs can understand over 140 facial expressions that humans make, more than even other humans recognize. Dogs can also understand the tone of your voice and some vocabulary. Their sense of smell gives them an additional advantage in sensing our health and mental disposition. Biscuit is sweet and caring, but Skyler would always snuggle with me when I was crying. I spent so many nights on the couch, either weeping, overeating horrible things, or simply inert, and he was my comfort. He never left my side. Skyler knew that I was sick and suffering. He could smell the sweat, the stress, feel the sobs, the tears, my pounding heart. He was so quick to offer kisses. I’d have accepted them all if only he didn’t like to eat poop. He gave all his love to try to heal me. He got me though the worst times with his quiet love, whereas Biscuit would clown around to make me laugh. Together they were the perfect therapeutic combination. If you ever want to dig through my blog, you can find more stories from the trip. 

You passed away on a Thursday, April 20th, in my arms. I spent the day with you, as I should have spent so many days. I held you in my lap and didn’t want to ever let you go. I took you to see Gran, and Bam and Papa. I asked Heather to come see you and say goodbye. Ali came over and sat with me for awhile too. Patrick had said his farewells before he went back to school. Papa teared up saying goodbye to you…he loved you so much. We all stroked your little head, your perfectly round noggin. 

I didn’t want to let go of you, holding you in the blanket. Your spirit had already departed your tiny body, but I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to put you in a box and bury you. I can still feel you in my arms. I’ll never let you go, Skyler. I loved you every bit as much as Biscuit. I’m sorry if I ever played favorites. You were every bit as special, every bit as delightful, every bit as loving and wonderful. I wish I had loved you more, done more for you, doted on you as much as you deserved, taken better care of you. I did what I could with all the distractions of modern life, but I wish I had been less selfish with my time. I’d have reached for all your kisses, let you sleep in the bed with us, taken you for more walks, loved you more. We don’t realize how finite something so precious is until it’s too late and you’ve run out of time. Knowing that I was at least so incredibly blessed with your love is some consolation, but no other dog can ever replace you in my heart. I’ll never let you go, my sweetest little man.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Teenager at Heart (Or how I refuse to stop wearing shorts and bikinis)

So, tomorrow I celebrate my birthday. 41 years twirling around the sun. I always thought I’d hate being older, even mourned my teens and twenties, but I’ve found that I enjoy the experience and wisdom of my years blended with my wistful, joyful, hopeful outlook. I’m really happy with my life. I’m blessed with wonderful family and friends. Patrick is thriving at college now. I have a fantastic job and quite a few fun hobbies. Icing on the cake…I have someone absolutely amazing with whom to share everything. Lots to celebrate!!! To that end, I’m posting a random assortment of some favorite photos. (Disclaimer…they are in no particular order, and if you don’t show up, don’t take it personally, the Cloud isn’t always easy to navigate on WordPress.) Beyond that, I don’t have anything profound to offer at the moment. Just excited about the gift of another year…WOOHOO! LET’S GO DANCE!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ready, Aim, LAUNCH!

Woohoo! I just posted my new needlepoint designs on Etsy! I wish I had time to complete a finished version of each one. I have so many ideas for different types of thread and colors! The small circular designs are perfect as luggage tag inserts or ornaments. I love sewing needlepoint designs, but have found that the cost of most handpainted canvasses is really high (rightfully so, it does take skill and patience), the materials can be costly and that I wanted more exciting designs (no offense to any artists…I just wanted something to satisfy my peculiar sense of humor and appreciation for the cultural zeitgeist). I really hope that my pieces will appeal to a broad range of folks who like fun, edgy designs.

The canvasses are handpainted (by me, of course) on 18 count cotton canvas in acrylic paint. I’m having to learn as I go along about the process (like using #2 pencils is a bad idea because they smear) and the difference between painting individual intersections (which makes for pinpoint accurate stitching and easier stitching so you don’t have to make decisions about confusing intersections) and taking a more inaccurate, painterly approach (what I do thus far). I’m quite open to anyone who has great advice on creating more aesthetically pleasing canvasses. 

When it comes to choosing threads, I’ll admit that my favorites are the velvet threads (they stitch up beautifully with texture and dimension, plus the stitches blend in together for a really solid look) and the single ply silk threads (I hate plying threads…I’m lazy). My least favorite so far has been a delicate ribbon thread, which frayed horribly and split a lot, and a furry thread, which looked fantastic when finished, but was troublesome to work with. 

I’m hoping to take a class or two soon to learn better needlepoint sewing techniques (and hone my canvas painting craft). Until then, I’m gonna crank away and paint more fun stuff! Please feel free to let me know what you think and check out my Etsy page at Littlebirdsews. 

Posted in Accessory Design, art, Etsy, Gift ideas, Needlepoint, Ornaments, Painting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puppery Posting

I got some really sweet shots of the boys recently (and some other pup related pics), so enjoy…

Skyler is exhausted from ransacking the house. Toys everywhere! Blankets dragged around! Mayhem! Chaos! Running Amok!

Biscuit has the best skeptical face. He’s not putting up with these shenanigans. At ALL.

You’d never guess that he’s 12 years old…

Skyler, on the other hand, looks and acts like a sweetly grumpy little old man.

Still a puppy at heart and in his sleep…

Shades of Mr. Winkle here…

I recently repainted the headstones for two precious family dogs…Hunter and Whiskey Brooks. Dad has created a beautiful pet cemetery in their front yard, surrounded by stone pavers and covered in slate chips. Hunter, Lucy, Whiskey, Maggie, Ling Ling, Sunshine, Prissy and Thomasina are all interred there (plus quite a few of Patrick’s beloved betta fish). I’m so glad that we honor them in a special way. They brought so much joy to our lives, and still do, with the happy memories we shared.

I know…I’m bouncing around a lot. I was really impressed with Skyler’s most recent dental cleaning at the Paces Ferry Veterinary Clinic! Apparently, Chihuahuas have terrible teeth that need regular dental cleanings (every 6-12 months).

More sleeping puppehs…I love Skyler when he’s prancing in his dreams!

Such a sweet boy…

I love his pink belly and the pink insides of his ears!

Heather and Skyler…BFFs Forever! Heather takes great care of the boys when I’m at work!

img_0743

Bitsy Brooks…going for the nose shot!

Look at those moist brown eyes and that butterscotch nose! MWAH! Love you, Miss B!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Crafty Fox

I’ve been working hard on some new projects, hence the lack of writing. I love doing needlepoint and decided to make some of my own edgier, quirky pieces. They might appear on my Etsy site soon.

The circular designs are just the right size for luggage tags. Or small ornaments. I’m working on a peach version of the Panda canvas to frame for myself…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Curves Ahead…

Happy New Year, Everyone! I’m finally getting back in gear after a lengthy holiday break. Spent lots of time with the folks, spent way too much time eating sausage balls, and spent the rest working on gifts. 

I’m starting 2017 off with a challenge for myself. My goal: to complete one quilt a month for the entire year! It’s not just ambitious…it’s absurd. Especially since I began the marathon with a tough design, one I vowed never to attempt again–curves! This arabesque design isn’t too difficult since it doesn’t require S-curves. The toughest part was cutting out all those little pieces. Most of the quilts are gifts for special people (but a couple are for me). 

The quilt below was created for Miss Veronica, one of the most gorgeous babies EVER! Her nursery is decorated in lavender, so I thought this beautiful bird print in mint, purple and lavender would match perfectly!

This big block quilt was my gift to Patrick for Christmas. I made him a small lap quilt a year ago, but I wanted to create something larger and more dynamic for him. I used Parson Gray fabric. The pattern looks complex, but is really very simple, using a 9 patch in the center, half square triangles and basic squares. I love the mod background with huge ovals!

Oops! Out of order! This is the front of Veronica’s quilt! The birds were all fussy cut. Dena, my long arm quilter, chose a gorgeous leaf pattern for the sandwich quilting. I love these colors!

Mom, Bam and I worked on these felt ball ornaments from Purl Soho. The kit was a little confusing at first, but they turned out so cute! I wish I had time to make dozens of these! They’d be perfect in a ball pit!

Skyler got into the ‘Nog. Look at those droopy eyes. Just kidding. We don’t drink nog in our house. He’s just being his usual sweet, yet grumpy, old self. The pups loved this spot under the Christmas tree!

I’m planning to hit the keyboard more often this year. I’ve missed it a lot (and my typing skills have suffered). And I’m hoping 2017 is going to be a better year, a healthier year, one spent outdoors and not in hospitals. “It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright, sunshine-y day…”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas…from the elevator…


Merry Christmas, Everyone! Regardless of what you celebrate, I love that this time of year, we can celebrate the people we love and share our joy! To all my family and friends, know that I love you, I appreciate you, I’m thankful for you. This year has been full of scary medical problems, but the love and support we received carried us through the hard times. 

Our family gathering last Sunday was wonderful, albeit fraught with peril during the preparation phase. Mom and Dad’s Christmas tree was still sitting outside on Sunday morning, an eight foot tall, full-bodied, live monster. The house was hopping like a stomped ant hill. Dogs running pell mell. Chex Mix flying around. Anarchy. 

Mom–ordering pizzas and prepping the kitchen with snacks, etc. 

Beth–driving to the store and running errands for Mom. 

Dad–full steroid mode, blowing leaves, barking orders.

Bo–following the general’s orders. 

The tree was moved to the corner of the main living room. Dad took my brother up to the attic to get the ornaments. While Bo was rummaging through the attic, Dad decided to load the cart up with items from my mother’s studio (the attic stairs come down into the hallway leading to the studio), but the attic stairs were IN HIS WAY. He pushes the stairs back up to the ceiling, trapping my brother in the attic. Dad wheels into the elevator, hits a button…and gets trapped between the second and first floor. He calls Mom from the elevator and tells her to get the key to manually release the elevator. Mom isn’t tall enough to reach the key atop the sill. Bo, my brother, IS able to, BUT, he’s trapped in the attic (insert R. Kelly song here). Mom can’t open the attic stairs because she’s not tall enough to reach the ring to pull it down, even with the pull stick. So, now Dad is trapped in the elevator and Bo is trapped in the attic. Mom can’t help either one of them. 

I am still not really certain how they were freed, but Dad and Bo were both running around again when I arrived a few hours later. Somehow, the tree was fully decorated, garland haphazardly draped. Mom and Beth erected the twins’ Christmas gift, an adorable teepee, and decorated it with a faux fur rug and soft stuffed animal pillows. I heard the entire story when I arrived with Bam and Papa, then spent several minutes giggling, especially while army-crawling under the tree to adjust the tree skirt. 

The Brooks/Cox/Saxby families noshed on New York Pizza Exchange Pizza (and Mellow Mushroom), various nibbles, and swigged delicious wine, Scotch and cocktails. And just so you know…no one else got trapped on the elevator. 

Enjoy the happy photos and have a FABULOUS NEW YEAR!!! 

Posted in Bam, Christmas, Family, friends, grandfather, grandmother, holidays, Mom, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment