Dog GONE It!

Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for me this year.  I am suffering from a dog-sized hole in my heart after the loss last week of my four-legged baby, Radar. I’m broken-hearted that I won’t get any more doggie kisses from him or see that look of love for me on his sweet face.

As wonderful as it is to have a fur baby, you go into the relationship knowing that it won’t end well.  You will fall in love with your canine, but the relationship is doomed to last only a few short years.  Your pet will age, slow down, perhaps suffer from physical issues, and then leave you behind to mourn.

Those who have never had the unconditional love of a dog have no idea what they have missed.  With a dog, there is a celebration every day.  He is thrilled to have you walk in the door.  It doesn’t matter if you have been at work all day or out grocery shopping for an hour.  Your arrival makes him deliriously happy.  You are the center of his universe.  You can basically do no wrong.  Ever forget to feed your dog?  He won’t give you the cold shoulder or hold a grudge.

Dogs can sense your deepest emotions often better than any human ever could.  A dog knows just when you need that doggie kiss to cheer you up.   He is happy to lick the tears right off your face and does not demand an explanation about what is going on.  He is simply concerned about you and wants to love on you.

Radar is gone, but he leaves behind so many happy memories.  Here are a few:

–Radar had cute perky ears that stood straight up; hence he was given the name Radar at the vet’s.  It was a perfect fit for him, so we didn’t change it when we adopted him.

–Since Radar was a rescue puppy, we had no idea what his actual background was.  We suspected that he might have been part pit, but who knows?  My husband just took to telling people who asked what he was that Radar was a “Florida Brown Dog.”

–Radar was all Alpha dog.  He had to make sure any dog in our house knew he was the top dog.  I had to pull him off of our younger dog Oryo in the back yard one day.  Radar could’ve ripped her to shreds, but he was just proving a point and simply nicked Oryo’s face.

–Radar may have been gruff with other dogs to assert his Alpha position, but he was a pushover for our pussycat, Mocha.  Mocha would lovingly walk over to where Radar was lying down and rub against him.  Sometimes she’d even lick his nose.  And he allowed her do it.

–If we let Radar out in the backyard, he knew exactly what to do if we didn’t come to retrieve him as quickly as he wanted us to.  He’s simply squeeze through the fence and walk around to the front door and wait patiently and quietly for us to open it.

–Radar loved to take trips to the bank drive through on Saturday mornings.  The tellers would send dog treats back with my deposit receipt.  I don’t know who enjoyed it more–Radar eating his treat or me watching him anticipate getting it.  I found myself making excuses to have to go to the bank just so I could take him.

–As Radar got older, he suffered from arthritis.  He couldn’t get up on the bed by himself anymore, and he got up on the couch with great difficulty.  Often my husband or I would pick him up and place him there.  We called him our “flying dog.”

–Lying down on our tile kitchen floor was not very comfortable for Radar, so we put a couple of small rugs in the entryway to the kitchen on which he could rest.  He’d oversee the kitchen activities from this spot.  I got lots of step exercising done this way because you’d have to step over Radar to get in and out of the kitchen.

–Radar enjoyed going on sleepovers to my brother-in-law’s house.  My elderly father-in-law lives there, and Radar would stay in the room with him to keep him company while my brother-in-law was at work.  They were both elderly gentlemen and connected on some level.  My brother-in-law’s three year old granddaughter was taken with Radar and was always asking where “Daydar” was.

–Radar was no dummy.  When I took him to the vet one time, he was aware what was up and that he wasn’t particularly going to enjoy it.  He was on his leash and kept dragging me over to the door as if to say, “Please let me out.  I don’t want to be here.”

–Radar had an affinity for plastic.  Forget chew toys,  His favorite thing to chew on was a remote control.  We went through umpteen of them because he kept finding one and chomping on it.

–Radar was as much a part of the family as our children.  When the kids were grown, he still got to go with my husband and me to cut down our Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm in an adjoining county.

–Radar’s favorite part of a walk was to stop and lie down in the soft grass across the street from the post office.  He’d roll around and get comfy.  He would not budge until he’d had his fill of being on that grass.

–When Radar was having medical problems, an ultrasound had to be done.  His little tummy had to be shaved.  I was allowed to come in and talk to him and soothe him as the procedure was being performed.  I was there for my daughter’s ultrasound when she was pregnant, and I was there for my fur baby’s diagnostic procedure.

–My faith is very important to me, and I exposed Radar to it.  He was taken more than once to a blessing of the animals service at a local church.  Radar blessed me so much with his doggie love, how could I not have him blessed?

I eagerly look forward to the day when I will see Radar again.  I firmly believe that he will be in heaven with me.  No, that’s no just a cute movie title, it’s faith based.  God loves animals.  Why Jesus was even placed in a manger (an ANIMAL’s feeding trough) after he was born.  (Luke 2:7) John saw a white horse as heaven was standing open.  (Rev. 19:11)  Don’t think that God would have horses in heaven but exclude dogs.  There will be no mourning in heaven (Rev. 21:4), so that must mean our beloved departed dogs will be there with us, and we will no longer be separated.  Looking forward to a heavenly reunion, but I am struggling with the hell of the earthly loss of my fur baby, Radar.

 

 

Maternity Mission: Operation Stork Drop

 

Although I am a proud member of a military family, war stories aren’t my thing.  Blood and guts?  No thanks!  But my grandson’s fifth birthday last week prompts me to fondly recall and recount the military mission surrounding his birth.  It was a maternity mission–Operation Stork Drop.

As a newly commissioned Army officer, Lt. Son-in-Law wanted to be hitched before leaving for his first duty post.  Military training kicked in and lots of planning and preparation commenced to make this wedding happen in a timely fashion–NOT!  I got recruited to make the arrangements, which I happily and very successfully (if I do say so myself) handled.  The newly wedded couple departed the officers’ club where their reception was held and headed to a B & B for a two day honeymoon.

I’ve never been in the military, but I am pretty sure that being prepared is key to the success of any mission.  None of us were prepared for the turn of events following the wedding.  Thank you notes had not even been written when I got a call from Mrs. Lieutenant one evening about three weeks after the wedding.  “Mom, I have something to tell you,” she started off.  Then she dropped the bomb.  “I’m pregnant.”  WHAT?   Yup, they got pregnant on the honeymoon.  They wasted no time in finding a new recruit for their family even though they apparently didn’t intend to increase the ranks that quickly.

Now that Lt. Son-in-Law had done his brief part, he took off to the field for training leaving a new puppy and a sick pregnant wife behind.  Time to call for reinforcements.  I made frequent four hour trips one-way to visit Mrs. Lieutenant to check on her morale and welfare.  She was in and out of the ER with a difficult pregnancy.

Even though the pregnancy was difficult, at least it was shorter than anticipated.  The new recruit decided to show up early.  He politely waited a week after his dad returned from grueling field training and then made an unexpected appearance.  Liam had the element of surprise on his side–a month before his due date and on a Friday night when Dad was still sleep-deprived from field training. What’s a military couple to do?  Call for reinforcements again, of course..

I hastily threw some clothes in a bag and jumped in the car with my husband to head out of state to the hospital.  I patted myself on the back for having been smart enough to have written down the military hospital’s address so I could plug it in to our GPS.  Ha! Ha!  The GPS did not work on the post and, gosh darn, I didn’t have any night vision goggles with me.

It was around 1:30 a.m., and we were driving around out in the boonies on an unfamiliar post with no idea where to go and no signs of life anywhere.  It was no man’s land.  But wait!  A police car was parked on the road ahead in this desolate location.  We pulled up to it, and my husband went over to ask for directions.  Frustrated, he came back saying, “It’s just a dummy in the car.”  Or not.  The policeman was so focused on what he was doing that he didn’t notice my husband approach the patrol car.  After scaring us to death by miraculously coming to life, the officer escorted us on a winding route to the large military hospital a few miles away. (Thanks, Officer Covington!)

The next order of business was the massing of our forces.  My husband and I  were there, my son arrived from out of state and Lt. Son-in-Law’s parents showed up from a different state.  Between all of us we thought we could take on the challenge of “Incoming.”

The challenge was frustrating.  When was the incoming going to arrive?  He took his sweet time. Time to use military equipment–a needle for the epidural.  Mrs. Lieutenant hated needles; she’d rather have taken on a hand grenade.  I left to go walk the perimeter to avoid witnessing the manuever.

The big moment finally occurred about 12 hours after I arrived at the hospital.  I was the first to see the incoming; no whites of the eyes were seen, just his head (with hair!) crowning.  It was an invasion of my heart.  I fell in love instantly with that adorable baby whom I got to hold just minutes after birth.

Happy ending, right?  No, the mission ain’t over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, until the crying baby gets released from the hospital. Mrs. Lieutenant was in a bad way with post-eclampsia.  This left the sleep-deprived CO in charge of caring for the new recruit.  Diapering and feeding of an infant must have inadvertently been omitted from his field training.  Thank goodness for civilian assistance from Mimi.  I can’t shoot a gun, but I can burp a baby.

Then hostile fire erupted.  Mrs. Lieutenant, who was very sick, let off an emotional barrage on the CO, berating him for his poor baby handling skills.  He and I were booted from the camp and hunkered down in a waiting room..  Lt. Son-in-Law was shell shocked.  Of course, we were eventually allowed to return and détente ensued.  Unfortunately, the campaign was not over as we remained in the hospital for five days.  During that time Lt. Son-in-Law’s field training finally came in handy.  Sleeping in a recliner or on the hospital floor was nothing after sleeping on the ground for weeks.  And take out pizza was gourmet compared to fending for yourself to find food in the field.

Finally came D-day–Discharge Day that is.  We emerged from the battlefield, the hospital, with our new recruit in tow.  His parents may have thought birthing Liam was a battle, but skirmishes occur daily when you’re raising a rambunctious little boy.  But that’s another mission.

 

 

 

Oops! They Kidded Again

My grandsons, age 5 and 3, have big plans for the future.  They are already family planning.  Each wants to have a daughter, and each has already picked out a name for his little princess. Talk about advance planning–they haven’t even started, much less finished, kindergarten.  But at their tender ages, these two sweet boys already get it.  Having offspring is something to be anticipated and planned.

A large number of adults don’t get this concept.  I can attest from my 25 plus years as an adoption attorney that having a baby is often a huge surprise for some in their child-bearing years.  Getting pregnant was not planned because sex is not a thinking act.  If any thought is given to the activity, the individual is likely to think, “Well, it won’t happen to me.”  Surprise! It can and very well might happen.

Back in 2011, almost half of the pregnancies in the United States were unplanned.  The Guttmacher Institute found that 2.8 million unintended pregnancies occurred that year–an amount equal to 45% of all the country’s pregnancies.  Although the Guttmacher Institute did not ask this question, I am fairly certain that pretty much all the birth parents facing unintended pregnancies knew how babies are created.  They just failed to plan–not only for expanding their families but also for having a means to prevent an unintended pregnancy.  As my mother always said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Failure takes on an added dimension with an unintended pregnancy.  Failing to carry an umbrella when inclement weather is predicted results merely in one getting wet.  Failing to plan for a method of birth control if pregnancy is not desired can have a far-reaching result–the creation of an innocent new life.

But, hey, you are a well-educated person who reads blogs.  What do unintended pregnancies have to do with you?  The answer is more than you might think.  Such pregnancies tend to lighten your wallet because you, a blog-reading tax payer, are footing the bill for medical care for many of these oopsies.  The Guttmacher Institute found that 68% of the 1.5 million unintended pregnancies in 2010 were paid for by public insurance, mainly Medicaid.

So what’s a responsible citizen to do?  To effectively eradicate the problem of myriad unintended pregnancies would require those of child-bearing age to learn responsibility.  That’s a tall order.

My approach to sex education with my children was a bit different given my day to day in the trenches work with adoption.  I stressed to them that sex is NOT a thinking act.  Therefore, the best approach to birth control is not to let yourself get caught in a position (no pun intended) where thinking is required.  If you don’t go to lover’s lane, then saying “no” might not be required.

Yes, I know.  Pie in the sky you are saying.  And you are right.  Not only do most people not think about being prepared for sex, but they also don’t think about planning ahead period,    If we can’t trust them to have birth control lined up, then how can we trust them to think ahead about tempting situations in which they might find themselves where thinking is the last thing on anyone’s mind?

Is the situation hopeless? Oh, far from it.  I have the perfect solution.  The military will ride to the rescue.  It has (unintentionally) discovered a fairly inexpensive but quite effective method for preventing not only unintended pregnancies but sexual activity in general.  What’s the secret weapon?  BCG’s!  For those of you unaffiliated with the military, BCG’s are Birth Control Glasses.  Of course, these glasses were not created for that purpose, but they sure work.  Put on those thick-framed, large lensed brown frames, and you are unlikely to get a date with the opposite sex, much less a spur of the moment bedroom romp leading to an unintended pregnancy.

These glasses have now been upgraded to a much sleeker (i.e., attractive) style, so the weapon’s effectiveness has been diminished.  But the fact that BCG’s exist gives a clue to the key to avoiding unintended pregnancies.  LOOK before you leap=–er, love.  Think about what you are doing and the consequences thereof. Sadly, people probably spend more time thinking about what car to buy than they do preparing for an activity that might result in the creation of a new life.

So, here’s the plan.  Engage your brain before engaging in sexual activity.  Just say no to failing to plan. No more oops, you kidded again.