Posts Tagged ‘LeeLoo’

A Cinderella Story

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Usually, you’re very aware of the life-changing moments. Baby birthed, troth pledged, first day of college, cross-country move, whatever etcetera.

But October 11th came and went this year and I barely noticed. Meanwhile, down south in Gardena CA, someone found a starving, half-bald dog on the streets and took her to the Carson Animal Shelter.
        

On October 16, a Wednesday, my one-line-a-day journal says that I took Lu to school in the morning and watched her climb a tree. I didn’t know that was the day West Coast Boxer Rescue found that emaciated, mange-ridden little dog in isolation at the animal shelter and brought her into their fold.

They named her Cinderella, hoping to lend a little fairytale magic to her hitherto desperate life.

The vet told the WCBR rescuer that the dog wasn’t a 3-month-old Boxer pup, as they first assumed. She was a Boxer/Boston Terrier mix, and she was closer t0 a year-and-a-half.

It was an easy mistake to make. At 18 pounds, covered in mange, infested with worms and suffering from pneumonia and anemia–little Cinder was a sad story indeed. But there was something in her eyes. A sweetness. A spark.

A volunteer in Redlands welcomed her into her home, taught her how to sit and pee outside. Fed her and loved her and nursed her back toward health. Two weeks later, WCBR noted that Cinder was up to 23 pounds, her hair was starting to grow back, and she was enjoying a long-delayed puppyhood, playing with toys and goofing around with her foster-dog-brother, Baxter.

        

On November 7, WCBR reported that Cinder had gained 5 more pounds and was clear of pneumonia. In photos, the difference was obvious…

      

Around this time, I started stalking the WCBR website for Boxer ladies. Bruce and I had decided that, three+ years after the death of our much-loved LeeLoo, we were ready to add a dog to our family again. LeeLoo was with us for 7 years, and was a huge part of our lives. She died just 2 months before our daughter Lucette was born. Although I missed her every day, bringing a new dog into a home with a new baby wasn’t a good idea. So we waited until we were ready, until Lu was ready, and then we started looking for the right dog.

My parents got me a dog, Mitzi the Beagle, when I was 5 years old. So many of my childhood memories include Mitzi–running together down the lane to the cottonwood tree, exploring the 40 acres of woods behind our house, showing off at the 4-H Fair in Amboy every July.

                         

And then there was LeeLoo. My friend, my confidant, my best Boxer lady. I missed having a dog in my life, and more than anything, I wanted Lu to have that experience, that friendship, that one-of-a-kind love. So, as I said, we were looking. We submitted our application, I made a list of available dogs. Cinder wasn’t on it.

The dogs I was drawn to were fawn-colored Boxers. LeeLoo-esque Boxers. And by the time our application was approved, they were all adopted. That’s when Julie from WCBR said, “What about Cinderella?”

I had scrolled past her picture on the “Available Dogs” list several times, but never even thought that she could be our dog.

But after talking to Julie and talking to Doni, Cinder’s foster mum, I began to reconsider. On December 3, Doni sent me these pictures of Cinder:

                              

I printed them out, showed them to Bruce & Lu and said, “I think this is our dog!” Lu looked at the pictures, then leaned closer and looked harder. “Ooooh, she’s soooooo cute! Can she be mine? Can I love her?” she said.

On December 14, we drove to San Jose to meet the WCBR transport from southern California. I took one look at Cinder in the back of the van and burst into tears. Yeah. She was our dog.

         

She’s been a part of our family for 17 days now. I’m already wondering what we ever did without her. She’s the sweetest thing ever. Patient with Lucette, eager to learn new things, snuggly and snorty and wiggly and funny.

We call her Vila. In folklore, the Vila are nymphs, fairy-like creatures who live in the wilderness or in the clouds. It seems a fitting name for such a magical wee lady. We’ve already had all sorts of adventures together, and we’re looking forward to a lifetime of more.

        

Last night, snuggled up on the couch, Lu leaned over and planted a kiss between Vila’s ears. “I wuv you in the morning, Weewah. I wuv you in the evening,” she whispered. “I wuv you so much!”

And I sighed a happy sigh. Our family is complete.

-Lo, who’s thinking life is doggone good.

365 LeeLoo-less Days

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

loo_smile

One year ago today, LeeLoo passed away.

For months after, I cried every day. The sense of loss was incredible.

I still miss her and think of her daily, but it does get better with time, as the cliche goes. Perhaps because time dulls the edges of your memory. That, and having a wiggly newborn around just weeks after the Loo died proved to be very distracting.

But I still miss her wiggly butt and crispy tongue and nubbly underbite.

And I don’t think she’d mind, at all, if we added a new wiggly butt to the family. Not to replace her, because that would be impossible. But just because a fur friend is very good to have.

-Lo, marking the days.

In Limbo

Friday, August 20th, 2010

mood: ponderous | drinking: water

limbo

I picked up LeeLoo’s ashes today, brought them home in a small cedar box.

This weekend we will meet up with a few of her favorite people to let her fly free at the beach.

It’s been almost a month now since she left us, and I was getting to the point where I didn’t cry every time I thought of her. But when the vet tech handed me the smooth, heavy box, the reality of her loss crashed over me again.

I loved that dog more than I love most people I meet. She was a part, a big part, of the best years of my life, sharing the last 8 years with Boy and I, traveling with us everywhere that didn’t require an airplane.

We knew that change was coming… we’ve known it since the plus sign appeared on the stick in January. But somehow, losing LeeLoo made the end of our old life very clear, as if we suddenly reached the end of a book, closed the cover and put it up on the shelf.

And soon, any day now in fact, we’ll begin a new book. We’ll open up to page 1 and start writing a new era, one that includes Bean. Everything will be different.

But that’s the future tense. LeeLoo was the past tense. And right this moment, we’re in the present tense with not a lot to say. It’s a surreal time. We are living in the in-between, a weird frozen moment between what used to be and what will be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying all these last moments of alone time. I’m sleeping in, watching movies, reading books, getting facials and massages and waxes and mani/pedis. I’m loving all this time with Boy, just the two of us.

But every time Bean puts a heel in my kidney, every time I feel the cramp of a Braxton Hicks contraction, every time I try and fail to hoist my planet-sized body out of a chair, I’m reminded that this time is just Limbo. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I have no idea what the future will look like, but I’m hoping very hard that it will be even better than the last eight years. Because that would be pretty goddamn amazing.

-Lo, with less than 2 weeks to go.

The Mourning

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

mood: bereft | drinking: lemonade

loo_wait

Honeydew Melon

These are the heavy days.
I am weighed down by every hour.

Unwieldy with the delight of you
and cumbersome with her loss.

She would have loved you,
would have licked you,
would have introduced you
to the wonderful world of Dog.

But you have not yet arrived
and she is already gone.

Alone and ponderous,
I stagger through rooms
bereft of her sweet snuffling sounds,
rooms that await your newly born racket.
There is plenty of room
here for each of you

but not enough space
for my grief.

[written week 35]

-Lo, from limbo in week 37.

My Friend LeeLoo

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

mood: devastated | drinking: who cares?

the_leeloo

I woke up this morning to a world that’s just not right.

There was no LeeLoo snoring at the foot of my bed, and she wasn’t curled up like a peanut on the couch, either. There are empty patches on the floor in the bedroom and the living room, where her dog beds are supposed to be. The dining room is strangely bare of bits of kibble. The house is so quiet. The clock ticks so loud. And LeeLoo is just… gone.

It’s been nearly 8 years since Boy and I saw her picture on petfinder.com. A side profile of a small fawn boxer, sitting quietly with her lower jaw jutting about 2 inches out below her top lip. “That one,” I said. “We definitely have to go see that one.”

I remember walking up to the foster home in San Jose where she was staying and seeing her through the fence. She trotted right up to us, smaller than I had imagined. “I know who you are,” I said. Two hours later, she was riding home with us.

LeeLoo has been a part of our family through some of the best years of our lives, and some of the most difficult times, too. She’s been such a faithful friend to me. Boy travels a lot for his work, but I was never alone when he was out of town. I had LeeLoo. Our routine would just change slightly while he was gone. Instead of hopping onto the foot of the bed in the middle of the night, the Loo would pop right up onto the bed and curl up on Bruce’s pillow, within arm’s reach, every single time.

Boy is out of town for work again, but there was no LeeLoo on his pillow last night.

She was elderly for a boxer lady. We adopted her when she was 5, and she would have celebrated her 13th birthday this December. Pretty impressive, since boxers usually fall prey to cancer at a much younger age.

But LeeLoo has been healthy and happy for a long time, and at her senior checkup just a couple of months ago, the vet passed her with flying colors and said he thought she’d be around for quite awhile.

So I was making plans, having visions of LeeLoo and the Bean. She loved kids and babies, with those small deliciously lickable faces. I had imagined LeeLoo when we brought Bean home from the hospital, all excited at this new fun adventure we all were embarking on. It’s fairly heartbreaking to realize that Bean will never get to know her.

Everything took a turn for the worst 2 weeks ago when LeeLoo suffered a seizure on a Tuesday night. It took her about an hour to recover from it, and Boy was on the phone with the emergency vet while I sat by her bed and stroked her. She seemed to perk up off and on over the last two weeks, but now that I look back on it, she never really returned to “normal”.

After a battery of tests that revealed nothing, no tumors, no anomalies in her bloodwork, nothing but a mild heart arrhythmia, the vet was stymied and said that only further (invasive) testing would help us determine the cause for sure. But Boy and I didn’t want to put LeeLoo through all of that. She seemed comfortable, she hadn’t had any more seizures. She was just more tired than normal, so we were all taking it easy.

At 34 weeks of pregnancy, my walking pace is so slow that a grandpa on a walker with arthritis could pass me by, so LeeLoo and I were well suited for taking short, slow walks together.

That’s what we did on Sunday, with Boy, in Golden Gate Park. I took these pictures of her, I guess out of some sort of unconscious intuition that they might be her last. loo3

We had a fun walk. She was slow, and tired, but so was I. So we took plenty of time to smell odd-looking blades of grass and meander slowly through the park paths.

Sunday night I helped her climb up on our bed and she slept there, snoring quietly between us, until 6 a.m. I had to help her down the stairs to the back yard, since she was pretty wobbly. But I never thought, yesterday morning, that it would be our last morning with her.

Boy left for his out-of-town job, I headed to work and dropped LeeLoo off at our friends’, Trini & Kim’s house. They also have a senior lady dog, Reilly, and she and LeeLoo have been good friends for years now.

At 12:30 Kim called to tell me that LeeLoo had vomited blood and passed out. They were on their way to the vet. I left work and met them there.

All I had to say to the receptionist was, “LeeLoo?” And they rushed me to a back room marked “Staff Only”.

And there was my little furry lady, my best friend, my LeeLoo, weak and limp on a shiny silver table, wheezing for every breath with an oxygen mask over her muzzle and an IV of fluids in her right front leg. She rolled her eyes and looked up at me and I just kept telling her it would be okay.

But it wasn’t ok. As far as the vet could tell, she had suffered another seizure that had damaged the area in her brain that controls respiration and blood pressure. Her legs were no longer working, her breath was not coming easy, and her blood pressure was nearly zero. They think perhaps she’s had a small tumor, slowly growing on her brain for months, and all the x-rays never detected it.

“If I were you and she were my dog,” the vet said, “I would let her go.”

I had to call Boy and tell him. I know it was very difficult for him not to be there. I got to spend several minutes with her, saying goodbye and telling her that she was the best dog in the whole word. Not a hyperbole. To me, she was.

And then Kim and Trini came in and we all sat around her and petted her and loved her until her breath went away.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was leave her lying there, so still, wrapped in her red blanket. I kept saying goodbye and then sitting back down and then trying to leave again.

I know she wasn’t there anymore, but it was the last time I’d ever see her, all the little bits of her that are so familiar to me. The scar on her hip where the Doberman bit her 6 years ago, the little lumps and bumps she’s grown as she got older. The soft flaps of her ears and the way she would sigh whenever I rubbed them. Her little chiclet teeth and her one-of-a-kind underbite. The way her long pink tongue would stick out and get all crispy when she slept. Her little footpads that smelled of corn chips. That little butterfinger tail nub that would wag so hard, her body would turn in a U-shape when you walked through the door.

I can’t believe she’s gone.

The house is so quiet, the clock ticks so loud.

I can’t stop crying.

Someday, I know, the ache will dull. Bean will be here, and Bruce and I will take her to meet a new dog, a dog who will ride home with us and become a part of our family and teach us new memories.

But that doesn’t change the fact that now there is no LeeLoo in the world. And we’re all worse off because of it.
loo

I told LeeLoo, when I was alone with her yesterday, before the vet came with the needle, that she didn’t have to fight for breath anymore. That her pain would go away and she’d go meet her old friend Yoda, and they would both be young and healthy and happy, and they could go to the beach and chase birds for hours.

I don’t know what happens to our fur friends when they leave us, but I hope that someday, we will meet them again.

LeeLoo, I miss you. So much, my little friend. You changed my life. I love you.
-Lo

loo_yodes
(LeeLoo & her old pal Yoda)

loo_henry
(LeeLoo and her “internet boyfriend” from Portland, Henry D. Monster, who is hopefully feeding her bacon cupcakes right about now.)

Granny Dates

Friday, February 26th, 2010

mood: mild | drinking: h2o

looandreilly

There will be a big update coming soon, but for now I have only a few tidbits to offer. Tantalizing tidbits…

Up first, the good news that came this week: Our latest cinépoem, “Homogeneous” has been accepted into the Sacramento International Film Festival. It will be showing on the big screen on Monday, April 19th at 7pm. You can check it out live at the 24th Street Theater, 2491 24th Street in Sacramento.

And in other cinépoem news, my video partner Michelle and I are hard at work on the next release, an ambitious 8-part cinépoem titled, “The Tyranny of the Mirror.” We’ve recorded all the vocals and have shot 3 of the 8 vignettes so far. We’ll probably continue shooting throughout the next few months–our longest shoot ever, by far. But it takes some time to put this stuff together. It will be well worth the wait, I promise.

If you’re wondering what “Granny Dates” has to do with any of this, well, it doesn’t.

Granny Dates are outings that LeeLoo enjoys with her best fur pal Reilly, who is also an elderly lady of 12 years. The two old bags like to get together at the beach, act all excited about seeing each other for about 3 seconds and then proceed to completely ignore each other for an hour.

That’s how LeeLoo shows her love, I guess. She’s due for another big Granny Date tomorrow, and who knows if the world will survive all that excitement.

Meanwhile, I’ll be sitting over here on the couch watching the last of the Olympics. Oh yeah, and writing that “big update” I promised you.

-Lo, back to work.

Merry Merry

Friday, December 25th, 2009

mood: chilled | drinking: tea

xmas

LeeLoo’s snoozing on the couch, Boy is the kitchen cooking bacon, the tree is twinkling, the sun is blazing, and I’m still in my PJs.

After a year chock full of nonstop crazy, Boy and I decided to have a super-chill Christmas. We’re staying in pajamas all day, we’ve stocked up on movies, and we’ve got a full box of microwave popcorn all ready.

Our friend Michael is joining us for the festivities, and we plan to be incredibly lazy all day, with the exception of a walk to the beach (which, since it’s only 3 blocks from our front door, doesn’t really negate the whole “lazy” thing).

Yesterday I downloaded an Elvis Christmas album, so I’m all set with my holiday cheer this year.

I hope all of you are somewhere cozy, snuggled up with someone sweet. Merry Christmas!

-Lo, who’s a big fan of fuzzy slippers.

In Dog Years

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

mood: content | drinking: tea

leeloo_12years

It’s true, what they say about dogs being man’s best friend.

My parents bought me a puppy when I was five years old. We lived out in the country and they wanted me to learn the responsibility of pet ownership. Mitzi the Beagle became a good friend of mine, accompanying me on most of my childhood adventures.

Mizti was joined later by Biskit, a blonde Cocker Spaniel, who had a natural mohawk and the sweetest temperament. They were better friends to me than I was to them. I went off to college and left their care to my mother, leaving them behind as if they were teddy bears I had outgrown.

I channel some of my guilt over my unfaithfulness into my love of LeeLoo, my current best friend of 7 years.

Although, let’s be honest, LeeLoo is easy to love for her sake alone.

Boy and I decided we wanted a dog 2 years after moving to San Francisco. (And after trying, unsucessfully, to cultivate warm fuzzy feelings for a tank of tropical fish.) We did our breed research and settled on Boxers–a medium-sized short-haired dog with a good temperament.

Then we scoured websites like Petfinder.com for a friendly face and a good backstory. We noticed LeeLoo’s giant underbite right away, and added her to our list of potential candidates.

Early one Saturday, we drove the 50 miles south to San Jose. LeeLoo was there, with Bay Area Boxer Rescue. She was 5 years old and had been abandoned by her family in LA: sent first to the pound, then to the LA Boxer Rescue. No one wanted her. So they sent her up north to try her luck, and that’s where we found her.

LeeLoo was the first dog we looked at, but after spending nearly 2 hours with her, we couldn’t leave her behind. When we left for home, she was in the backseat.

I quickly learned that being a dog owner in the country doesn’t mean squat when it comes to living with a dog in a metropolitan area. LeeLoo, Boy and I had a lot to learn about each other. We learned quickly with the help of a dog trainer named Dennis and logged a lot of hours of together just roaming the streets, sidewalks and park trails of San Francisco.

LeeLoo soon proved herself to be a loyal, loving and hilarious companion. After 7 years together, we know each other well.

She’s traveled with us on countless roadtrips all over California, up to Portland (where she met her famous Internet boyfriend, Henry D. Monster), down to Phoenix and all points in between. We’ve explored the beach, climbed the mountains; I’ve brushed snow from her paws and pulled out a few cactus needles, too.

She’s always waiting at the door when I get home and no matter how bad my day was, she manages to make me smile.

LeeLoo is part of our family, and today she turns 12 years old. That’s something like 84 in dog years, but as I told her this morning (while handing her a piece of birthday bacon), she doesn’t look a day over 65.

Boxers don’t often live into their teens, and many of them go before their time due to cancer. We’ve been lucky so far, and we’re hoping LeeLoo has many good years left to her. (If 7 naps a day on the couch can add years to your life, she’s going to be spry well into her second decade.)

Here’s to you, LeeLoo. We’re going to celebrate by going to the beach later, with a stop for some cheese on the way.

-Lo, who believes that dogs know a lot more than you might think.

Finding Gratitude

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

mood: quiet | drinking: koolaid-tasting vitamin water
us_house

In the spirit of the impending holiday, I’m going to make myself a little list of the things I am grateful for.

I’ve realized recently that I’ve spent the better part of this year griping about all the changes in my life. Time to step back and take a breath and notice the things that haven’t changed, or that have changed for the better.

So. Here they are, off the top of my head: Ten things that make me happy to get out of bed in the morning.

1. Boy. Through good, bad and ugly, he’s always there when I wake up. It’s an easy thing to take for granted in the hubbub of everyday living.

2. LeeLoo. She’s had a tough year, and is coming up on her 12th birthday, which in dog years is rather geriatric. But she’s hanging in there and is always ready with a lick and an eloquent Boxer sigh.

3. Our new home. We’ve only been sleeping under its roof for 10 nights, but it already feels like home. It’s cute, it’s cozy, it’s ours. And at night, you can see the stars so brightly and the ocean thunders so loudly. I feel incredibly lucky to be here.

4. My family. Mom & Dad were here just a few weeks ago, and my sister and I were talking about how weird we are, among most of our friends, that we actually enjoy spending time with our parents. I’m grateful for that kind of oddity.

5. My friends. Recently a small group of good people gathered for chicken pot pie at a cozy restaurant in the Castro to celebrate my birthday, and I looked around the table at all these people who love me–just love me, asking nothing of me in return–and I was overwhelmed with my good fortune to have all these lovely ones in my life.

6. Books. I’ve been reading so many good ones lately. Right now I’m nearly finished with Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. God, I love books. I love getting lost in another world or being enraptured with the turn of someone else’s phrase. I would be lost without words in my life.

7. New acquaintances. You’re never too old to make new friends, and I’ve made two new forays in that direction recently, meeting Louise, the friend of a friend, and Julie, who took my photo for her art project I live here: SF. I love those unexpected moments when you connect with someone new and think, “Huh. This chick’s pretty cool.”

8. Etsy. Yes, I know, it’s geeky. But this website has opened me up to a whole new world of artists and crafters and seamstresses and amazingly creative people. My sister bought me a Lisa Falzon print off Etsy for my birthday this month and I’m totally in love with it. How else would I have discovered an illustrator in Ireland and have one of her pieces hanging on my dining room wall?

9. Creative outlets. My writing group, first and foremost. The girls in this group rock my face off every time we meet, and I’ve written some things this year that would not have been possible without their input. And then there are the cinepoems. Michelle and I just continue to work so well together and continue to churn out new ideas. We just finished “Homogeneous” and already we’ve got another shoot in the works for December.

10. San Francisco. As I said in my last post, I just really really love this city. It’s a beautiful, weird, wonderful place and I’m so happy that I get to call it my home.

As it turns out, there’s so much to be grateful for, even in the midst of a truly crazy year. And I am, I am grateful. And lucky. And blessed.

And so are you.

-Lo, choosing the bright side.

Practice Child

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Mood: relaxed | Drinking: not so much

leeloo_nap

A new poem for you, started in June but not finished until last week…

Practice Child

After yelling at my dog,
I decide I will be a terrible mother.

The dog doesn’t want much.
Head pat. Butt scratch. Kibble
and bits.

A child wants more,
takes all. I am afraid
of my overwhelming lack.

I have stored up just enough patience
for paw prints on couch cushions
for plastic bags of fresh poop
for long walks on the beach
followed by a car ride fragrant
with ocean-flavored dog.

But I know nothing of strollers and Similac
of the wonders of flushable diapers
and the dangers of Bisphenol-A.

I am attached to my own independence,
to the ability to spontaneously dash out for dinner
or read away an entire afternoon.

What’s more, canines don’t ask complicated questions
about why God sits back and lets bad things happen.
They don’t fall into a tantrum frenzy upon discovering
that all the blue popsicles have already been eaten.

See? Already the dog has forgiven me,
pushed her wrinkled fawn head
into my chest, snuffled my cheek
with foul-breathed devotion.

Surely, at the very least,
a child would make me pay
for the therapy.

-Lo, who will take some credit for being a pretty good auntie.