Remembering Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Today, March 7, 2018 is an extremely sad day for me. Today is the first anniversary of losing my precious mini-schnauzer, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Exactly one year later, I am still heartbroken over losing him. Over making the decision to allow him to go to Heaven so he would not suffer any longer.

On the morning of his loss, when he struggled to walk outside, his rear legs gave out on him again. Those precious little energized legs split apart. He fell down and looked at me, as if to say, “It’s time. I’m tired. I’m weak. I’m sick. Mommy, please do something so I will not ache anymore.” His legs were so weak he could not lift them like most male dogs do when they potty. He was pitiful, deteriorating right in front of my eyes.

Sir Shakespeare was born on April 11, 2003. On April 12, 2003, I met him. There were three newborn puppies. The female was promised to someone else. I touched both male puppies gently, rubbing their ears. Little Shakespeare, the “piglet” responded with a slight moan and I knew he was the pup we wanted. He fit into my hands and I kissed him on the nose while whispering his name: Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. We visited him weekly and when he was six weeks old, I was told he could go home with us. I wrapped him in a blue blanket and we brought him home. Little Shake n’ Bake squirmed from my lap onto my chest, and there he rested until we arrived home.

Independent. Affectionate, and a unique personality – that was Shakespeare. We communicated. He slept with me, always wanting to rest on my hip – touching me. Always. He did not like it if I asked him to please move over. He responded by scooting his little body over, grumbling the entire way. In the morning, he would climb on top of me. If I didn’t respond, he reached out with his left paw to touch me and awaken me. His eyes stared deeply into mine. I kissed his nose.

When I was sick with acute bronchial asthma, Shakespeare followed me around like a shadow. He would kiss me once, then he crawled onto my chest, sniffed at my nose and mouth and refused to move. He was my nurse, caring for me while he listened to the wheezing in my chest. He would not move away from me, even if I asked him to. He simply stared into my eyes, as if to say: “I’m taking care of you. You’re sick. You need me.” He fell asleep on my chest and when I awoke, he was there. My nurse. My loving, caring little Shakespeare.

Over the years together, we walked daily, until Shamus died. Shakespeare would lead us. Occasionally, he stopped to smell a flower, or to feel the fresh breeze blowing in his ears. Sometimes he would pick up a stick and carry it while walking. He had a phobia of darkness if he was alone. On one night my husband and I got home a bit late. The breakfast room was dark. Shakespeare and our other pups slept in this room if we were not home. On this night, when Shake n’ Bake heard the car, he was barking a loud and vicious bark. When we walked into the room, he jumped on my leg, still barking. He was reminding me that he was in the dark and he was frightened. Don’t ever leave me in the dark again. You know I hate being alone in the dark.

The next morning, I placed a lamp on a table in the room, turned the light on and never left it off. Shakespeare would not be in the dark again.

As he grew older, his appetite grew. He would eat his food and if another of our precious little friends hadn’t finished their food, he would attempt to move them over so he could eat again. During his yearly wellness check-up when he was 10-years-old, the vet suggested giving him green beans and less food. Shakespeare lost weight, weighing in at 24 pounds, losing six pounds.

In September, 2016, after grooming, I noticed Shakespeare was still losing weight. Occasionally, he turned away from his food and wouldn’t eat. I struggled to feed him from my hands. He wasn’t hungry. His legs began to give away and when he went outside, he would move to a corner of the back yard, ignoring me asking him to come inside. His hearing wasn’t as good as when he was younger. I noticed if I clapped my hands three times, paused and clapped three more times, while shouting “Come here, Shakespeare” after a few minutes, he would get up and move slowly towards the door.

Although I could see Shakespeare fading away, I refused to accept it. I wanted him to fight. I cradled him in my arms, telling him I loved him and I wanted him to fight. He responded by licking my face, jumping from my arms, and when his feet hit the carpeted floor, he whined.

Our nightly ritual of cuddling in the chair no longer happened unless I picked him up, and when I reached to pick him up to cuddle with me, he wiggled, moving his back legs like spaghetti. He was in pain.

The vet said he was getting older. He reminded me that most schnauzers have a lifespan of about 14 years. Shakespeare was 13. He would be 14 in April. I wasn’t ready to lose him.

Over the next six months of his life, Shakespeare wanted to go outside less, and when he did go outside, he squatted. He could not lift those painful rear legs like most boys do. He would look in my direction, as if he was saying, “Don’t watch me. Don’t watch me fading away from you.”

In December, Shakespeare could not hold his bladder. He would urinate on the floor in the breakfast room. Sometimes he would do other business there. We placed puppy papers on the floor nightly since he was sleeping there now. I let him know I was not upset with him. I understood. His body was getting older and he was fading away. He licked my face to let me know he understood and he loved me.

On March 7, 2017, we made the decision to have the vet check him over and see if it was time to let him go. Our vet knows how much we love our animals. After examining Shakespeare, he looked at me with tears streaming down my face he said: “You’re making the right decision.”

I held Shakespeare in my arms. I told him it was time to see Shamus again. He lifted his left paw, touching me, and he kissed me one last time.

My arms were holding him as he went to sleep. The vet gave us a few more minutes together, then he asked if we were ready. Since Shakespeare was sleeping, I nodded. I heard Shakespeare’s last breath, and he was gone.

How I wanted to bring him back, but I knew he was suffering, weighing only 17.6 pounds on this date. He was so tiny now it was easy to pick him up. After losing him, guilt almost tore my heart out. I questioned everything while realizing we did the most humane thing by letting him go. I did not want him to die alone in the house with only his brothers around, nor did I want him to die in darkness.

I prayed that God would welcome him into the gates of Heaven and let him find Shamus so he would not be alone. I reminded God that Shakespeare did not like the dark, and I prayed for a sign to let me know he was ok and happy.

A few days later, I found a fly inside the house, flying around my desk. I was writing at the time so I did not pay attention to the fly until I found it floating inside my coffee cup.

“Shakespeare!” I cried. “You’re here. You’re letting me know you are OK.”

Through blinding tears, I smiled, remembering how Shakespeare detested when anything got in the water bowls, especially IF it was a fly. He would sit while taking his front paws, moving them into the water, attempting to remove the fly. After a few minutes, he would bark – his demanding little bark. He refused to drink any dirty water, or water that contained a fly.

Staring at the fly floating in my coffee cup, I picked it up, poured it out and washed the cup, while remembering my precious, silly, demanding Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

A few nights later, I had a dream. Shakespeare was sitting on a hillside with the greenest pastures I’ve ever seen in life or while dreaming. He barked and wiggled and barked once more. In the brightness of the lights of Heaven, Shakespeare barked one more time, then he turned to run away while looking in my direction. Yes, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway Cooper was in Heaven, playing with Prince Marmaduke Shamus Cooper. Little Shake n’ Bake and Shamey-Pooh were together again.

Yes, today is a sad day for me. A day of remembrance and so much everlasting love.

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In Memory Of – Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


Dearest Readers:

This week has been such a dreadful, sad week for me. Why? Most of you who read my blog regularly will know what an advocate I am for animals. On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, our family had to say goodbye to precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

035Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, April 11, 2003 – March 7, 2017

Oh how I remember the day he was born, April 11, 2003. We received a phone call letting us know we could drop by at our convenience to select the puppy we wanted. Shakespeare was nicknamed at birth as Piglet, since he was the largest puppy. That evening, Phil and I drove to the home to look at the new puppies. I touched each pup, rubbing ears, and whispering gently to each. When I touched Shakespeare (Piglet) and rubbed his ear, he responded with a moan! I knew Piglet would be our puppy. I smiled, hugged him a bit and said, “This is our pup. Hello Shakespeare Hemingway.”

Everyone laughed. “His name is a big as he is,” their young daughter said. “In six weeks you can take him home.”

I was so excited. I counted down the weeks, recording them in my calendar. On May 23, 2003, Shakespeare came home with us. He curled his little body on my chest and went to sleep as I rubbed his ears.

Whenever he got upset, felt badly or just wanted a bit of affection, he would come to me wanting me to rub his ears. He became close friends with our oldest giant schnauzer, Prince Marmaduke Shamus. They romped and played outside, enjoyed boat rides and walks. Shakespeare LOVED walking. Whenever he passed by the area where the leashes hung, he would jump up and hit a leash, as if to say, “Hey Mom. It’s time for us to take a walk.”

Walking continued until we lost Shamus on May 2, 2012. Shakespeare loved being leader of the pack. He rushed ahead every time we walked. Over the years, Shakespeare loved to cuddle on my hip in bed. If I asked him to move so I could sleep, he groaned and when I fell back to sleep, he attached to me again.

Growing into a husky, mini-schnauzer size, Shakespeare loved to eat. At dinner time, he would stand under our kitchen table, knowing we would not allow him to beg for food, but he was nearby IF we gave him a bite. He grew to be 30 pounds. Once, while at his wellness check-up, our veterinarian suggested we cut back on his food a bit and give him green beans.

“Oh…He loves green beans!”

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Our giant – Prince Marmaduke Shamus, lived with us from June 11,. 2001 – May 2, 2012

and Shakespeare, enjoying a walk

Every day with Shakespeare was a new experience. He would jump up to play, run around to play chase, and at Christmas time, he sniffed all the gifts until he found the gift wrapped doggie cookies. When he found it, he tore the gift wrap and chewed down, eating all of the cookies. When it was empty, he carried the empty container to me, as if to say, “May I have some more!” Every crumb was gone!

A few years ago, maybe in 2008, I started singing again. One morning, I was so wrapped up with a song, I didn’t notice Shakespeare until he tapped me with his paw. He was sitting up, listening to me singing, as if I was only singing to him. So, I sat down next to him and sang. When my husband came into the room, he watched us and said, “See, Shakespeare loves to hear you sing.”

Every time I sang after that day, I made certain to sing to Shakespeare.

We were bonded as one. Wherever I would go, Shakespeare wanted to go. When I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and work on my tan, Shakespeare followed. He would lie next to me on the ground, or he would jump on my chest. Silly boy!

He was independent. Charming. Trusting. Affectionate, and so funny! Shakespeare loved to spend time at home; however, when we left him in the breakfast room with the other dogs, if we failed to leave a light on and we arrived home in the dark, we could hear Shakespeare chewing us out as soon as we got out of the car. He would yelp at his highest pitch, as if he was saying to us: “How dare you to leave me in the dark. You know I don’t like the dark, and even if I am resting with the other dogs, I do not feel safe in the dark. DON’T LEAVE ME IN THE DARK AGAIN!”

I found a small vanity lamp, placing it in the breakfast room. Shakespeare would not be left in the dark again!

Approaching his senior years, he began losing weight, even though he was eating. The vets said he was OK. In 2015, his wellness check-up revealed he had lost a bit of weight. Even though he was husky, he was healthy. In September, 2016, after he was groomed, I noticed he was getting thin. In November, he would not eat occasionally. He didn’t want treats, nor did he want to play with Prince Midnight Shadow.

We cuddled a lot. His favorite spot was to be cuddled in a ball, next to my feet while I wrote. Often, I would touch him and rub him with my foot, and he moaned.

Two weeks ago, I noticed when he went outside to pee, he squatted. He could not lift his rear legs and when I picked him up, sometimes he would yelp. Shakespeare was quickly fading away.

I remembered when Shamus got so ill in May 2012. His wellness check-up was in February. He got a good report. All was fine. Everything changed in May. He would lie on the floor, his breathing was a bit too rapid and he flopped down on the ground after being outside. His stomach was puffy. I called the vet. That afternoon, I was totally unprepared for what we needed to do. I thought Shamus had another stomach blockage, only this time, it was much worse. He was bleeding internally. The vet suspected a tumor on his spleen but the x-rays could not reveal what was so wrong since there was so much blood. The vet looked at me. “I think it’s time to let him go,” she said. “If I do a blood transfusion and surgery, he will probably bleed out.”

How could I make that decision?  I phoned my husband. He rushed to my side, and we agreed that since he was terminal, letting him go would be the only humane thing to do. And so we said our goodbyes. Before the first injection, I sang to him. Choking and almost hysterical, my voice trembled. “I love you, Shamus. I love you so much my precious Shamey-Pooh.” I did not stay with him for the final injection. How I wish I did.

Since November, I’ve debated a thousand times to myself about making that same decision for Shakespeare, my little “Shake n Bake.” I watched him losing more weight. Not eating at times, and walking around only when he had to. Occasionally, he would play with Shadow, the giant we rescued six weeks after losing Shamey-Pooh. I told myself IF he goes without food for two days, it was time.

I knew Shakespeare needed to go to the vet, but I was horrified that I would hear again those horrifying words, “I think it’s time to let him go.”

I wasn’t ready! How could I make that decision again? If it was time to say goodbye to Shakespeare, I did not want to make that decision. In November, I made lists of the pros and cons for Shakespeare. Yes, he occasionally played with Shadow. Yes, he ate – just not every day. I realized he was getting thinner. And thinner.

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, I could feel all of his ribs and his backbone. He would not eat. He didn’t eat on Monday either. It had been two days since he ate anything.

I made another list:

Is Shakespeare eating? Not on a regular basis.

Was he drinking water? Although I watched him, he didn’t appear to walk towards the water bowl.

Is he walking?  Did he get up to go outside? Only IF I coaxed him to go. He wasn’t interested in walking, even if I shook the leashes.

He was a bit hard of hearing and when he went outside, he would not come inside unless he heard me clapping my hands. When he did, he would slowly get up from his corner of the fence and come inside. Sometimes, he flopped down and I would get him. Although he did not like to be picked up, I realized I was carrying him more than he was walking.

Is he playing?  No. He would not play with me, or with Shadow. All he wanted to do was to flop down and sleep.

Was he enjoying anything? No. Not even a treat.

Did he stand at the gate by the kitchen watching me cook? No. Not now.

Tuesday morning, I came to the reality it was time — time to let Shakespeare go home.

“But he is at home,” I argued with myself.

The truth was he was shutting down. He was letting go. He was in pain and he was miserable.

I spoke with him, brushing his fur back so I could see his eyes. His eyes were glassy and lifeless.

I called the vet, telling them we thought it was time to let Shakespeare go, but I wanted to see the vet, have him check him over and let me know what he would do, if this was his family member.

My vet has a wonderful demeanor with animals. He greeted Shakespeare and checked him over. A few minutes later he said he suspected Shakespeare was in kidney failure. He wasn’t eating properly and was almost anorexic. He was basically lifeless. Probably lingering on because of us.

Then the vet shocked me, telling me that he had to make the same decision in February and allow his mutt to die with dignity.

Although I realized we were making the same decision, my heart is so broken I cannot stop the tears. A tsunami of tears rushes at me and I cannot fight back. I feel such emptiness. I’ve only slept a few hours every night since we lost Shakespeare. I feel guilt, and I have doubts that we made the right decision. While I rested yesterday morning, I felt something touch my hip. I placed my hand there to rub Shakespeare, only to realize he wasn’t there. Maybe his spirit was connecting with me.

Sudden thoughts entered my mind. Shakespeare was communicating with me. He told me he appreciated the loving home we gave him, and he appreciated that we were letting him go with dignity. He reminded me that he will always be with us in spirit, just like Shamus. He said he could move easier now, but he did miss us. He wanted to know if we could welcome him as a spirit. I patted my hip, talking to him, letting him know we still loved him and we missed him, but we were happy he wanted to return in spirit form. Yesterday afternoon, I heard Shakespeare barking. This morning, I imagined him snoring, and I moved my leg to touch him, only he wasn’t there.

Yes, I miss him, and while writing this another tsunami of tears attack me once again. Deep inside, I know I must go on. Now we have four dogs as family members. I am certain one day, I will probably adopt a rescue, but for now, I will focus on the needs of Shadow, Hank, Sandy Bear and Toby. Believe me, they expect a lot of attention.

Rest in peace my dear, precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Run and play with Prince Marmaduke Shamus and please remain the spirit I so desperately need. You are resting on our mantle, next to Shamus. I love you and will always love you, my silly, Adorable Shake n Bake!

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Shakespeare, as a puppy, playing with his favorite toy.

A Tribute to William Lloyd Garrison and My Precious “Shamey-Pooh”


Dearest Readers:
If you follow the page, “Following Atticus,” on a regular basis, you know that precious, Sweet William Lloyd Garrison, aka “Will” left this world yesterday, October 25, 2014 at approximately 3:30pm. Will, as you probably know, is the lost, angry oldster that Tom Ryan rescued from death’s door in May, 2012. Sweet Will, as I describe, was a beautiful white, curly haired schnauzer with one of the sweetest faces and the most beautiful, expressive eyes that one can imagine. Each time I saw a picture of him with his long eye lashes and amazing face, I melted. I asked how anyone could ever neglect or abandon such a precious life. Each time I watched him prancing and dancing around in a video, I laughed, enjoying those special moments. Although he was considered a senior dog, he certainly did not behave in such a manner.

May 2012 is so significant to me. Perhaps I failed to connect the significance of that sad month until reading about Sweet Will yesterday. May 2, 2012 is the day I lost a special part of my heart and soul when Prince Marmaduke Shamus left us due to a terminal illness. I do not remember the exact date where I discovered the Facebook page, “Following Atticus,” but I am certain it was right after the loss of precious Shamey-Pooh.

When Shamey-Pooh left, my heart felt completely empty. For weeks all I could do was cry – sometimes exploding into an ocean of tears. While it is true, I have suffered great losses prior to the loss of Shamus, I must say, never have I cried like I did with his loss. One night in a dream, Shamus spoke to me, telling me I needed to open my heart to another rescue, and so the exploration began – to find a lost animal to help ease the pain. Shakespeare Hemingway, the boss of our home, gave me great comfort after losing Shamus, but nothing could ease the pain. I searched online, checking the Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas website, in hopes of rescuing another giant schnauzer. No, I was not replacing Shamus, because I fully believe each of our animals, like children and loved ones, cannot be replaced; nevertheless, we can find a place inside our hearts to allow new love to enter. I checked other sites, failing to find ‘giant schnauzers.’

I found numerous sites to purchase a giant schnauzer, but I knew I had to find a rescue. Still, each time I looked at a picture of Shamus, my heart told me to wait and rescue. Early one morning, I opened Facebook, discovering a photograph of a solid black giant schnauzer needing a home. He was a stray that arrived at an animal shelter in Athens, GA. He was beautiful, with sad black eyes. I phoned the shelter. If I applied for him, I was told I would be the ‘fourth in line for him.’ Quickly, I filled out the application and faxed it to them, phoning to confirm receipt. The next morning, I was told he was still available and if I truly wanted to adopt him, I would need to be at the shelter the next morning at 10 o’clock. I was hopeful no one else would arrive before my husband and I did. That afternoon, I received a phone call from the shelter, letting me know that if I wanted “Schultz” I could adopt him!

Within 24 hours, I would meet “Schultz” arrange his neutering surgery and take him home. I was ecstatic!

My new guardian angel, Prince Marmaduke Shamus, helped me to find another animal needing a good and happy home. After meeting “Schultz” at the animal shelter, we fell in love. We were told he loves to jump, and he can jump extremely high, but that would not be an issue. “We accept and love our animals and I am certain we can teach him a few things in our home.”

Today, Prince Midnight Shadow is a different boy. He still loves to jump and tries to jump into trees to capture squirrels; however, he hasn’t managed to catch any, and there are a few squirrels that appear to tease him when they stop at tree level, as if to say, “Ha. Ha…You can’t catch me!” Shadow continues jumping in air, wishing and hoping that one day, he will catch a squirrel. He is quite comical with his behaviors and he loves to walk and chase balls. Shadow is the perfect friend to help with the loss of Shamus.

While writing this, my heart is still breaking over the loss of Sweet Will yesterday. If you do not know the story of Tom Ryan and his love and acceptance for animals, allow me to explain. In May 2012, Tom heard about a lost and neglected senior schnauzer that was dropped off at a kill shelter. He decided to rescue Will. Arriving at Tom’s home, Will was angry, short tempered and fearful. He bit Tom many times. Tom Ryan is a patient and gentle man, never lashing out at Will, simply remaining calm. He discovered Will’s spirit was broken, and Will was almost blind. He had the ability to see shapes, and he loved music and flowers. Tom wrote about Will. Reading his stories helped me to see how broken Shamus’ spirit was until we adopted him. Losing Shamus left me with such emptiness, but the words of Tom Ryan and his stories of “Following Atticus,” and the additional of “Will” helped ease my pain.
I still have days where losing Shamey-Pooh torment me. The emptiness I feel during those times is impossible to describe. When Shadow hears my sniffles or sees my tears, he rushes over to place a paw on me and to lick my tears away. This week, Shadow has heard me cry many, many times while reading the deterioration of Sweet Will, his inability to stand for long and the weakness in his body. As for his heart and soul, Sweet Will never lost it. If anything, he grew into a younger, feistier little fellow with expressive eyes, opened wide, ready to melt the heart of anyone he met. Yes, the body aged and was quickly giving out, but his spirit kept fighting.

Reading the compelling, touching words of Tom Ryan and his love for Sweet Will forced me to think about Shamus all over again, only this time, I recognized the guilt I had from allowing Shamey-Pooh to die with dignity while we held him was the right and dignified way to allow him to go. I did not want Shamus to ‘die on a table while bleeding out,’ nor did I wish him to suffer like my dad suffered a few weeks before his death. I wanted to sing to Shamus since he always loved to hear me singing.
One thing I have learned about the dying process is those who live deserve to die with dignity. While it is true, we allow animals to be euthanized when their life is almost over; we do not do the same with people. I believe we should. For two years, I watched my dad daily battling esophageal cancer. Gone was the privilege for him to walk, without a walker…Gone was his ability to eat, without regurgitating his food…Gone was his independence. At first, he was determined to continue living; however, the longer he fought, the angrier he became. At one point while visiting him in the nursing home, he shouted to me, “Just let me go. Go on. Get out of here…Leave me be!”

I visited my dad daily, unless I was sick. I did not want him to die alone. I refused to give up on him; however, on July 6, 1999 as he was dying, I remained strong when the nurses said they could bring him back. “Let him go,” I whispered through tears. “He wants to die with dignity.”

Today my heart aches for Tom Ryan and Atticus, while recognizing Sweet Will was allowed to leave on his own terms, just like my dad and my precious Shamus. Although he could not speak to Tom Ryan, Will’s tired, aching body was telling him that his life would end soon, and so this week, although he struggled to get up, he braced his legs and pranced around until collapsing. He was determined to smell the scent of the endless supply of aromatic flowers his fans sent to him. Sweet Will found happiness amongst scented flowers and music and when he left this world, he was surrounded by the therapeutic vibrations of music and flowers. We should all be so blessed when our life escapes us. Rest in peace, Sweet Will. May you and Shamey-Pooh prance around, making new friendships in the life beyond.

To read the inspiring, touching stories of “Following Atticus,” and “Will,” click the following link: http://tomandatticus.blogspot.com/

Animals Communicate to Us…


Dearest Readers:

Today, I awaken to another gray day in Charleston. Now, it is raining outside. Raindrops tap, tap, tap, on the windows and I’m thankful I called my four-legged family members inside only moments ago. They are so funny when it rains. When the back door opens, they rush inside, only to stop as the back door closes. They lift their little heads up. Their eyes stare at me, as if to say, “Where’s my towel? I don’t like being wet!”

Drying them is a funny site. First, Sir Shakespeare rushes to the front of the line, to get dried. Sometimes, Sandy Bear is second. He loves to feel the soft, fluffy towel rubbing his fur. Many times, he will moan, as if to say, “Um-mmm. That feels so good.”

Hankster the Prankster is usually third in line to get dried. He doesn’t really care to be touched, but he does allow the soft towel to rub his fur, while he growls, and growls and growls. I continue rubbing him until he backs away. He is such a funny and grouchy little character. Saved from a kill shelter, only to live for a bit with people who did not understand him, this precious, confused little mini-schnauzer communicates his needs to me. After he left our foster home, he communicated to me in three different dreams that he wanted to come back to us. One dream said he wasn’t happy and the people did not understand him. Later, in another dream, I awoke early one morning, in the early gray darkness of an extremely early morning, to hear whining and a familiar bark. In my dream, I slumbered towards the front door. Opening it, I discovered a cold and wet Hankster. He lifted his face towards me as if to say, “May I please come in? I ran away and I’m tired. Hungry and cold. Please, Mom.”

If you, my readers, read my blog at all, you will remember I have visions. Sometimes these visions are so strong that I know, deep inside, that this vision will come true. My last vision about Hankster was the strongest one. In this dream, I was driving along the Interstate. Traffic was bumper to bumper. I was curious as to why the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. I didn’t see any emergency vehicles. No sign at all of an emergency; however, as my car crawled along, horns were blowing. People were shouting. I looked to the right of the road. In the emergency lane, there stood a small little dog, hovering down. Afraid. The animal advocate in me kicked in and I pulled over. Carefully getting out of the car, I prayed, “Dear God. Keep me safe and please let me capture this scared little fellow.” I moved slowly, making soft noises so the tiny dog would not be afraid of me. He crawled towards me, and when I was able to touch his fur, he howled. Carefully, I picked him up, thinking, wishing and hoping that he was Hankster.

Placing the frightened animal in the back seat, I covered him with a blanket and buckled him. I lifted his collar. “Hank,” I read.

My eyes opened. I looked into the darkened room, hopped out of bed and turned the light on. This dream was so visual…vivid…almost as if Hank was communicating with me. I kissed the pups sleeping soundly in their beds and I rushed to my computer. Downloading e-mail, I discovered an e-mail titled “Hank isn’t working out,” in the subject line. I opened the e-mail. Tears rushed down my face as I realized those dreams were now a reality that Hank needed me.

Two days later I was informed that Hank was coming back to the rescue center. He would be placed in a kennel and re-entered into the foster and adoption program for the rescue center. As silly as my dreams sounded, I notified the director that I needed to be the one to rescue and foster Hank. I mentioned my dreams. Much to my surprise, when I got a reply, the director understood my dreams. She thought our family would be perfect to assist Hankster.

That weekend, we rescued Hankster again. At first, he barked. I allowed him to smell my scent and scooped him in my arms, placing him in the back seat. On the drive home, Hank was fine. He curled himself into a little ball and slept the entire two-hour drive. Arriving home, he rushed inside to the water bowl, then to the toy box. He remembered our home and our four-legged-family.

Some people say that animals cannot communicate simply because they cannot speak our language. I correct those people, letting them know that animals do communicate their needs by their actions, and sometimes, in their dreams. I am convinced that Hankster was communicating to me for weeks and that is why I kept dreaming about him.

Today, Hankster is happy. We adopted him and slowly he took baby steps to improve his attitude and disposition. For a few weeks, he bit my husband’s hand and he chased after his feet, especially whenever my husband moved closer to me. It was obvious that Hank did not like men, nor did he appreciate Phil giving me a hug. His story is one of abuse. After he lost his first home due to death, the family members took him to a kill shelter. Fortunately, Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas stepped in to save him. He went to a foster home, then to our home for us to foster him. A few months later, a family adopted him but Hank wasn’t happy, so we re-fostered him, only to fall in love with him and adopt him. Today, Hankster the Prankster is curled at my feet while I write this. Yes, he growls at my husband, but when he realizes he has no reason to growl or be ugly to Phil, he rushes up to him, as if to say, “Hi Daddy. Pet me please.” Hankster has truly grown into a little guy capable but skeptical of trust. Yes, he is still protective with me, and I imagine he always will be my little protector, but he does know how to love and how to accept love. Baby steps. Hankster has finally found the road to happiness.

This morning as the rain pours from the heavens, I give thanks for this precious little bundle that could’ve been put to sleep alone, without anyone to care for him. People ask me why we foster animals. I think Hankster tells the story better than I, or anyone, could by his actions. I will let you, my readers, decide. As for me, I feel blessed to love Hankster and to be the one he rushes to whenever he is wet from raindrops, cold, hungry, or just needing a little pat on his head while he growls. What is his growl saying to me? One word. One syllable. “Thanks…!”

Yes, animals communicate. All we need to do is open our hearts, and our minds, to listen to and welcome them!

Communicating With My Precious Animals


My silly pups. Prince Midnight Shadow, my cold black giant schnauzer rushes inside to brush against the leashes, hanging near my office. He is telling me he is ready to walk today. “Mommy,” he says, staring into my eyes. “It’s nice outside today. The heat will not burn my paws. Can we go for a walk later?” I smile. Nod at him. Now, he is resting by the leashes. And to think, I’ve actually been told that only a ‘crazy person would believe that dogs communicate and understand what we are saying to them.’ I smile, snickering to those people saying, “Maybe you are the crazy one…I communicate with my animals. They understand what I say, and they love me for communicating and understanding their needs.’ Like earlier this morning, when Hankster the Prankster, my smallest mini-schnauzer, raised up by my legs, wanting me to pick him up. He doesn’t like to be picked up. He’s always afraid that he might get hurt. It is so obvious that he was mistreated by someone. It doesn’t matter who mistreated him. All that matters now is he is not closed inside a crate where he was barking…barking…barking…at the top of his little lungs when I agreed to foster him. It doesn’t matter that someone raised their arms to him, ready to attack him. It doesn’t matter that he was dropped off at a kill shelter, to end his life. What does matter is this little guy has found a home that loves him, regardless of his demeanor, temperament, and personality. He is finally getting more comfortable with us, and he hasn’t snapped at my husband’s hands in a few days. That is an accomplishment for him. Although he is small, he is powerful and quick with his mouth. He defends me from everyone!

Hank is unafraid and will protect his mommy, at all cost. He doesn’t care that something or someone could harm him. He cares about me and his home. That is, now that he has a home that accepts him and is teaching him he doesn’t need to snap at others. All he needs to do is trust. Today, when he raised up on my legs, he scratched his little paw on my leg, as if to say, ‘pick me up, Mommy.’

“What’s the matter, little buddy,” I asked him? “Do you want Mommy to pick you up?” He growled. When he growls it is usually a warning to back off, but I carefully scoop him up in my arms. He grunts, placing his little salt and pepper fur next to me, then he cuddles next to my neck. This is something he has never done before. He rears back, to look into my eyes. “What’s the matter, Hankster? Are you finally saying how much you love me and this home?”

He grunts again. I place him down. Moments later, he returns. He wants me to pick him up again, and so, I do. We talk for a bit without saying words. Our eyes stare into one another. He moans, moves his head close to my chest. He is telling me how much he loves me. My eyes fill with tears.

Today is Wednesday, a day of remembrance for me. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, I lost my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus, also known as “Shamey-Pooh.” Wednesdays are still a sad day for me. Words cannot express how deeply my heart ached after losing Shamey-Pooh. A tsunami of grief appeared to wash over me, like a gigantic, rushing, angry tide and for weeks I wasn’t certain if I would survive. I did survive. The sun still rose in the morning, and set at night. Bills still needed to be paid, and Father Time continued to tick, tick, tick the minutes of life by. Still, my heart ache for the loss of Shamus continued, and that is when I decided to foster Hank, until Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas could find a suitable home. Hankster and I bonded, even after he left our home for an adoptive home. I dreamed about him on several occasions, dreaming he wanted to come back to us. That dream came true, like many of my dreams.

Last October, Hankster returned. When I suggested allowing us to pick him up from his adoptive parents, some people were afraid he would not remember us. At first, he seemed aggressive, only to relax inside the car when he heard me singing. Silly dog. I think he remembered that I liked to sing. Arriving home, he rushed inside, to the water bowl, the toy box, and to greet our children. Hankster announced, “Hey guys, I’m back!”

Today, Hankster communicated to me — as if to say — thank you! Snuggling next to me for a few minutes, he grunted, and then he brushed my face with a soft kiss, something he never does! Now, he is resting next to me, along with Shasta, and Sandy Bear. Hankster is home! It is such a beautiful, cooler day outside so I’ve decided a brisk walk with my babies will be more healing to me than a treadmill!

Caring For A Sick Baby — Our Little Maltese


Dearest Readers:

To those of you who read my blog regularly, you recognize what an advocate I am for animals, especially rescued dogs. We are the proud family with five dogs, four which are rescues. Yes, they are expensive to keep up and care for, but words cannot express how fulfilling it is to see them grow under our care. Last month, Shasta, our aging Maltese, and Shakespeare, our oldest mini-schnauzer had their wellness checkups. We were concerned about Shasta because she has a slight growth on her nose. Our vet checked it. According to the reports, she has a slight cancer of the nose, so we are treating it with a medication. We must administer the medication — two pills every three weeks – with gloved hands. Upon giving her the pills, mixed with peanut butter so she could swallow them easier, I could not help wondering if I had to wear gloves to administer the medication, just what would these pills do to a tiny less than seven pound Maltese. Last week Shasta received her second dosage. Yesterday, I noticed how lethargic she is, lying around, barely moving at all, and she refused to eat her food. Knowing she must have fluids, I managed to get her to lick ice chips. When my husband got home, I shared with him my observations of how weakened she is. He tried to coax her to eat. She turned her head, locking her mouth. At dinner time, I had leftover mashed potatoes. Phil scooped a few bites of mashed potatoes on a spoon, and Shasta opened her mouth to eat – a bit.

Later, I noticed her blankets were soiled, so I placed fresh towels around a pillow so she could rest comfortably in the breakfast room. We managed to get her to drink ice chips again, deciding to leave her alone for the evening.

This morning, Shasta went outside to potty, flopping down in exhaustion. I’ve spoken to the vet’s office and this was anticipated. They reassured me we are giving her the proper care and this too shall pass — just like it did with the first dosage. Gathering all of her blankets and bedding to wash them, I placed a pillow inside a plastic container, a nice red blanket over it (her favorite) and I have Shasta resting next to me while I write and do laundry. Frustrated that she would not eat or drink again, I gave her ice chips. She locked her mouth down once again.

Earlier, for lunch, I decided I didn’t want to prepare anything time-consuming, so I made a fresh smoothie with bananas, yogurt, blueberries and strawberries. Shadow, my youngest, and most energetic giant schnauzer, loves yogurt. While I attempted to drink my smoothie, Shadow whined for his share. I poured a small amount into a bowl and he consumed it in moments. Now that he is outside, I decided to see if Shasta would drink a bit of smoothie. Pouring just enough to barely cover the bottom of the small bowl, I am pleased to announce, Shasta licked every bit of it and she is a bit more energetic now. Suppose it could be due to the storm and thunder brewing outside, but I suspect she is feeling just a tad better.

Her nose is almost healed now, but I cannot help wondering — when an animal gets sick from medications that they must have, should we administer them? I suppose I am questioning the ‘quality of life’ for now…and I do feel a bit of guilt while recognizing that I was the one who gave her the pills that have weakened her tiny body so much. She looks up at me with weakened eyes that cannot see me since she is blind now and can only see bright shadows. It breaks my heart to see her so weak and I have prayed that God is guiding me to care for her properly.

For today, she is enjoying her smoothie. If she wants more, you must believe her mommy will make certain she gets another one. We rescued Shasta in June 2005. She has blessed our lives with her sassy little demeanor and energy.

Looks like I must cut this short. It is lightning outside. I must cut the computer off. I will share more updates about our sweet little “Shasta Daisy Shampagne…She is white, like a Shasta daisy…bubbly like champagne. Such a little princess. At the moment, she holds her head high. Shakespeare, our oldest schnauzer that must snoop his nose into everything, is sniffing at her, making certain all is AOK.

More later, Readers — after the brewing storm!

The Journey of Cleet…Cleet Continues…


Good morning, World. It is a beautiful, sunshiny day in Charleston, SC — a beautiful day where I can see clearly now! What a relief! Thank you, God. To all who have asked, my foster child, Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet… is doing well with his new family. The moment I met them, I knew they were indeed the perfect family for him. His new name is Buddy and every day he takes a ‘baby step’ to his happiness. Truly, he was the hardest foster for me to let go of…but I learned something significant with him…I learned how to communicate with an animal. Occasionally, I will hear his bark and he and I will chat a bit.

Yesterday, he told me he was getting better…The confusion of my giving him to another family is easing, and he recognizes that he was loved by me, but he had to find a true, forever home. My mission was to teach him that humans are trustworthy, and many are loving, wanting only the best for him, a well deserving, gentle but fearful foster child. He said he was sad for a few days, and he watched the actions of his adoptive family, seeing many of the behaviors he saw in our home…the gentleness, kindness, the sweet, soft stroking of his skin…the soft whispers…no shouts…the encouragement. He said he still missed me, but he understands that he needed to go to another home where he could continue his journey to love and trust ‘humans.’ I am so happy for him. Tears drip down my face when I remember how dreadfully sad and terrified he was of me and my husband…at first…and that is probably why he chose to run away. When he saw the posters with his picture on the poles, signs and every location we could post, he recognized that someone actually cared enough to find him…to search and show that he was worthy of love. And when he returned, three weeks later, that is why he was different to us. No longer did he pull his face away, and he learned to look into my eyes! From a dog’s perspective, looking into a human’s eyes is a significant sign of trust! To quote the adoptive mommy, “Baby Steps!”

Today is a beautiful day for us, and for sweet little Buddy. Continue your journey while knowing that you are loved by many…and you are indeed worthy of L-O-V-E!