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Monday, March 07, 2005

Out of the gate...

and off for a walk
went Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson's Dairy. ~Lynley Dodd


Back when I was still putting my "Mommy, read us a bedtime story!" voice to good use, my kids' favorite books were by the "Dr. Seuss of New Zealand", author Lynley Dodd. As some of you know (especially Brian), my mother-in-law is from New Zealand, and her sister, a retired teacher, still lives there with much of her family. Every year for birthdays, Christmas, and "just because", Charlie's Aunty Val would always send the kids a children's book by New Zealand authors. It was her way of helping us expose the kids to part of their culture. Some of these books were by Maori authors and were filled with folkloric beauty. Some were just fanciful and fun. Lynley Dodd is the kind of writer who just makes you giggle. You just can't read one of her books out loud without making sound effects. The funny part is, you find you're doing it without even thinking. She makes it THAT easy. So many were the days and nights that surrounded by three little munchkins, I would find myself recounting the canine adventures of a scruffy little dairy dog named Hairy Maclary and his barky friends.

The thoughts of Hairy Maclary came to mind recently with the departure of our own canine angel. This past weekend was a wee bit tough. When you're in the middle of the week and all of it's activities, you have something to occupy your mind. At least for a few hours of the day. But come Saturday, the lot of us were moping around like bumps, looking at each other with sad eyes. We all knew what we were thinking, but no one wanted to say anything. But then, nothing really needed to be said. Charlie and I always go out to breakfast together on Saturday morning. It's when we "catch up" on the week and try to regroup. After breakfast, we went over to the vet's to make a payment on our astronomical bill. I could feel the tears welling up before I even stepped in the door...and the girls in reception saw me coming and offered up the tissue box without my having to ask. Having accomplished the task, we were on our way out when I said to one of the girls; "You know, if you hear of any mutt puppies that need a home, will you put a note up to call us?" They smiled and said they would. As Charlie and I were walking out the door, he asked me if I was sure. I just smiled and squeezed his hand; "If they call, they call. It means someone needs a home. If they don't, they don't. Either way, no one will replace her. But someone furry could help to ease the pain and bring new joys to a sad house. Don't you think?" He hugged me and we walked on.

Back at home, I watched the clock, making sure that I wouldn't miss my 6:00 "date" to call Auburn Pisces for her birthday. Sitting on the front porch, watching the world, I noticed a small group of neighbors walking their dogs. I've seen them all before, I know them, so it's nothing out of the ordinary. Except for one thing. They're all walking their dogs at the same time...and they're walking toward our house. As if they had just stepped out of Mrs. Dodd's clever book, here came all of Shanny's friends. When they all got up to our yard, Joe our neighbor, said that he thought they should all get together and come pay their respects to Shanahan's family. So here they all were. They may not have been Muffin McLay (like a bundle of hay), or Bitzer Maloney (all skinny and boney), or Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum), or Hercules Morse (as big as a horse), or even Hairy Maclary (from Donaldson's Dairy), but they were a rag-tag team of mutts and pedigrees who played on the lawn with Shan in happy doggy days. I got lots of puppy kisses from Nancy the Westie, and Rex the yellow lab, and Soleil the golden retriever, and Doc the springer spaniel, and Lilly the...well, I don't know exactly what Lilly is, but her kisses were sweet and warm on my cheek, and very much welcomed. Dog therapy at it's finest.

After "group", I went back inside the house a whole new person. Smiling, and happy, I called Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven and talked to Sweet Auburn Pisces and offered natal anniversary salutations. I wished I could have been in The Vortex with them, but I wasn't as sad as I might have been. The day was turning out quite happy. Friends for Shan, friends for me, how lucky does one person get?

When Averie got home from work, I was reading "Hairy Maclary". She smiled and said, "What are you doing Mommy? I haven't seen that book in AGES!" I returned her smile and told her that I just had an urge to pull it out. She sat next to me on the couch and we made sound effects together. Just like old times.


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