Five Stars

I pulled up at our 4.5 star hotel in San Diego. The valet kid came up to the driver side door and I instantly said that I was marginally overwhelmed and possibly not ready to give up my van and check in. My belongings in the back were in total disarray. Quinn more than likely needed to relieve herself. I didn’t know where they would be taking my van in case I forgot something. I wasn’t sure if I should have the valet muscle my keyboard to the room just yet. I didn’t have a leash or collar. I was blocking traffic on a pretty busy One Way.

I desperately needed that extra half star which would have provided an area to take a moment to get my act together. We were in a big city, and I was thoroughly proving it.

I couldn’t take the situation another honk, so I drove off and ended up in a student parking lot for I believe San Diego City College. I pulled into a one-hour, visitor parking spot. Snoopy found immediate relief on a grassy island. I cleaned out my van, reorganized my van, fed Curly Q, and drank a liter of water. I attached a surfboard leash to a shoelace collar, slipped that around my Hyena, put on my New Balance running shoes, and decided to give the city a quick once over by foot before bringing my van back inside for round two.

So Dingo and me hit the pavement running. I played The Beach Boys mix thru my original Ipod Nano. As has, and likely will always be the case with any Beach Boys mix I have ever given to someone or received by someone, the first song most certainly always seems to be Good Vibrations.  Feeling positive, we ran our way all throughout the entire Gaslamp District of Sunny San Diego.  California Dreamin’ for sure..

Admittedly, I still thought too much about Janet and about my warm winters in Puerto.  Both subjects, on their own, still opened up the emotional floodgates.  Combined, they will forever represent just the most hurtful series of blows I will ever be forced to accept.  Christ, I had admired and appreciated that woman for some 35 years, and had been equally splitting my time between Santa Cruz and Puerto Escondido for the better part of a decade.  So yeah, I was still grieving my way through these shitty, unforeseen losses.  All the while doing my very best to let it go and move the fuck on.   

Next subject.  Girl Dog kept shaking her head to suggest the gimmicky, makeshift leash and collar system I made for her was bothersome. Fair enough I thought.  This was her first time being tethered, so I cut her some slack. I also knew she would learn to tolerate it because that’s the kind of canine she is.

I spotted Hotel Solamar. I had wanted to stay at this hotel all along because it was only a few blocks away from where this yoga retreat was taking place. It was more expensive so I opted otherwise. Solamar is the 5 star sister hotel to the 4.5 star Hotel Palomar where I had first stopped. Both hotels are dog friendly.

Piglet and I decided to make our presence felt in the lobby of this fine looking five star. I talked to the Manager in Charge and let him know that Big Ears and I had a reservation at Palomar but that we were beginning to feel that maybe Solamar was the better fit. He made a personal call to the other hotel, and yada yada, we were now going to be guests at The Solamar. Excellent!  I asked if we could get the same rate. He said sorry. I knew it never hurt to ask.

We ran back the mile to where my van was parked, and drove immediately back to our new home. I pulled up to the off-street valet, told the boys what needed to go up, and me and Quincy Jones went on into the lobby to check ourselves in.

They gave us Room 409, and she was real fine that 409, that Fourrr Ohhh Nine. Anyway, it had been one crazy week for Girlfriend and Me. It sure was nice to luxury up for a bit.  I took a long, hot shower, and crawled under the covers for a quick siesta. It was 3:45pm.  My first bit of yogurt was set to begin at 6pm.

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I listened to the voice mail and didn’t hear a word. I just knew that we were losing Jake. My day was now over. It was 9:30am on a Tuesday.

I had spent about forty nights with Jake over the past six months. Three days here. Two weeks there. Ten days here. A long wknd here and there.

We each had what the other needed. He saw me through my un-finest moments. I saw him through some of his. Trying times for both of us.

The first dog that My Quinn met was Jake. Quinn read the situation and knew the etiquette. Jake assured Quinn that her food was safe.

Walks with Jake were reduced to five minutes. Nights with Jake became long and restless. I did everything I could. Quinnie studied my love.

All dogs get missed. Some more than others. Timing can be everything. This time, we are going to feel it. It doesn’t matter why, it just doesn’t.

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Maid of Honor

We sat there on her back porch. We talked about the past, the present, and the future. Just in case she couldn’t see it written all over my face, I made sure she knew right away that I was drowning my way through the most hurtful time in my entire life. She couldn’t believe that was possible.  Both of us began showing serious Deja Vu like symptoms. I told her that it was complicated and that now was not the time to talk about any of that.

The reason I had stopped by to see her was because I had this deep feeling that it was the supernatural move to make. SuperNatural? Maybe that’s not the right word. Organic? Partly that for sure. On a superficial level, and it’s hardly that either, I had this desire to see her because I wanted to show her my new canine. I now had Quinn for about two months, and I was certain that this Dingo like Jackal was extraordinary. If you are a dog owner, I know what you are thinking, and you are not right. You are not right that your canine, as special as it may seem to you, is extraordinary. Because if I’m declaring my Quinnie as extraordinary, then unless your dog can do what my dog does, and can do it as consistently and as bionically as my dog can, then your dog is less than extraordinary. I’m sure it’s sweet and fluffy.  Fair enough?

Lorna is her name. This woman. She is roughly my age, maybe a little older. We have a little history to say the very least. Back in college, and much like the rest of our circle, Lorna was a full time student and a full time athlete. Unlike the rest of us, she also was a full time dog whisperer.  20 year old Lorna whispered to Ashley. Ashley(RIP) was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, of the chocolate sort.  And everybody knew Ashley because Ashley knew everybody. She would go to school with Lorna. She would go to the bars with Lorna. Ash was smart and dialed. She was big and beautiful. Consequently, she will always be remembered.

The past two weeks had presented me with a perfect opportunity to stop by and say hello. It had been awhile.  I had been dog sitting for my dentist and his family in the Carbonera Estates area, which semi put me in perfect line with her house as I would regularly weave my way past her little property en route to the Pleasure Point area. I told myself that if I ever saw her truck out front that I would pop in and say hello. I was curious to know if her current dog Zeus was still alive, and again, I really wanted to show this lady my Quinnie.

So we sat there. Me and 3 year old Quinn. Her and 10 year old Zeus. Elliott was there too. Elliott is a cat. Lorna was drinking a Sierra Nevada. I was drinking a Sierra Nevada. Quinn kept one eye on Elliott and one eye on me. Zeus was sleeping with a ball in his mouth. Elliott was bugging Zeus, keeping both eyes on Quinn.

Lorna informed me that her son would be home any minute. We talked in depth about her son. He was doing very well. He had just turned 19 and had his life together. I hadn’t seen the kid since he was maybe 14. Part of me felt like telling Lorna that I had to go, and part of me was curious to see what had become of this kid. This kid Michael grew up without a father. I was told by Lorna that during the ‘high school’ years, the boy put her through a living hell, but when the California Conservation Core ‘came a knockin’ he answered the door, and it changed his life. No more partying. No more bullshit. Over the course of the last 12 months, he had completely turned his life around.

About 6:30pm, Michael walks in the door. I knew who he was, and he knew who I was. He knew that I knew his father.  I knew that he didn’t.  I stood up and we shook hands. We were face to face. He was a nice looking young man. He was lean. He was engaging. He was also hungry like any 19 year old boy might be. Lorna cooked him up some dinner while Michael and I did some talking.

I knew that he was a musician, and I knew that he was a soccer player. This gave us quite a bit of material. I remembered back about five years prior when Lorna asked me to paint her house even though I wasn’t a painter. One day while painting high up on a ladder, I was able to listen to Michael play his electric guitar. I think he was playing Jimi. The kid was good. These days, his instrument of choice is the banjo.  He even pays for his own lessons.

I asked the questions, and let Michael do all the talking. I let him do the talking because he was beaming to talk. I could tell he was excited about life. I could tell he was stoked and appreciative of somebody like me wanting to know more about his life. He was polite. He was respectful. He was my kind of kid.

His phone rang.  He pulled the phone out of his pocket, looked at who the caller was, and then asked me if he could take the phone call. I told him of course, and he stepped away for a minute.

Lorna came back outside and sat down.  She and I finished up our talk and agreed to make arrangements.  It all seemed so bizarre.  All of it.

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God Save The Quinn

Quinn sat at the U-end of the U-shaped parking with a soft frisbee in her mouth, staring at me, waiting for me to lock up the van. I had a cup of coffee in my hand. I was the only vehicle in the lot. It was just getting light out.

In his Chevy Truck, the Capitola Park’s and Recreation guy enters the parking lot. For whatever the reason, and I actually know the reason, he has his eyes fixed on me. As he approaches the U-end of the U-shaped parking lot, it began to feel like he had no idea there was a dog sitting patiently up ahead of his truck with a soft frisbee in her mouth. It was a feel. The feel quickly became real. 20 feet, 12 feet, 8 feet, 5 feet, GIANT SCREAM..

It was almost a blur. I got halfway through my entire life flashing in front of me before i passed out onto the asphalt. I did see stuff. It most certainly happened. I watched my little Quinnie get run over by a truck. Front to back. Top to Bottom. Side to Side.

The outcome had already revealed itself as a Given, and I was not going to survive this one. That is probably why I passed out before I watched her finally get squashed. So in the slowest of all motions, with only certain sounds making noise, I was sure i was watching my girl get run over and killed in front of me. What could be worse?

The next thing I remember, I was being helped up off the ground, unable to stand on my own. He kept his arm around me but apparently had no idea what had just happened. Crying like a baby, I told the guy that he just ran over and killed the only thing in the world that I loved at the moment. With his arm still around me, all the while apologizing and apologizing and apologizing, he then directed my attention to the left/centerfield portion of the softball field. With my eyes only able to focus in at about 100 yards, there stood Quinn. “Is that your dog,” he asked.

I made my way over to her. The parks and Rec guy came too. He was talking to me the whole time but i can’t really recall what he was telling me. I wasn’t mad at him because he didn’t do it on purpose. A part of me feels like at that point he still didn’t really even believe me. He didn’t hear me scream from the top of my lungs, and he didn’t feel anything hit his truck. And..there stood Quinn.

When i get up to her, I didn’t notice anything different. Not only that, she had her frisbee face on. I picked up her frisbee and threw it. She fetched it just fine and came back for more. I threw it again, and again she fetched it just fine. I asked the guy if we could be alone. I spent about ten minutes combing over my dog, checking for injuries. She did have about a half dozen superficial scratches. Little scuffs down by her paws, and maybe one little one between her eye and ear. Outside of that, there was nothing. I balled my eyes out.  It felt like a miracle.



Seven Year Itch

I was wide awake at 3:30am. Suffice to say, nobody was up. For reasons not entirely unknown, I found myself on Craigslist. I hadn’t been on Craigslist in at least five years. I know some of you are on there everyday, but not me. Just don’t use it. Or do I?

So I was on Craigslist. And again, I really don’t know what was behind all this, but next thing I knew, I was looking at a picture of a dog with an ad that read:

2 year old Red Queensland heeler. Great dog for a family or being a companion for a female preferably. Quinn is smart, sweet, affectionate and active. I’m asking a $100 rehoming fee just to know she goes to the right family/ person.. Give me a call and we can chat further. I would prefer she go where she would be the only dog. She is a gem and I only want her to go to the best home possible.

Hmmm. Rehoming fee, and a desire for her to go to the best home possible. I found my first loophole and knew I could have the $100 rehoming fee waived because I didn’t have a home. The part about going to the best home possible didn’t really phase me either. Sure a dog might care about a home. But more important than the home itself is the master. Because home, for the great most part, is where the master is. The homeless canine that gets to spend 24/7 with his or her master is the privileged canine. The canine that gets food in the morning, food at night, and a couple pats in between, could care less about his or her 4 bedroom 2.5 bath house near the park.

When my brother woke up, and after making coffee of course, I told him to go to Craigslist and pull up the ad. Neither of us completely understood the line about being a companion for a female preferably, but I decided to reply to the ad to say that I am interested. I basically told them that I am going through the breakup of a lifetime, and that I could provide a wonderful home for the dog.

After we went back and forth for a bit, she asked if I could meet at New Leaf on the westside of Santa Cruz CA. She was coming from Bonny Doon. We agreed to meet at 11am.

I arrived at 10am because I had nothing else to do. Again, I was in a world of hurt, and I felt like I needed some serious grounding. This felt much more than just being ready to have a dog again in my life. It had been seven years since the M & M show were in town, and once Madison had passed in September 2008, that is when I began my winter migrations to  Southern Mexico. Well all that came crashing down in a foul way, which opened up the possibility of ‘dancing with the wolf’ once again.

At 10:45am, two young women, with two dogs in the back, pull up right next to my big white van. It all felt like a real moment of truth. We introduced ourselves to one another, and they let Quinn out of the car. I got down on my knees, looked the other way, put my hand out, and that was how it began.

Immediately I noticed the golf ball-size knot around her left knee area. One of the young woman said that Quinn injured her growth plate when she was a puppy, but that it’s a non factor. That it was scar tissue that had grown around the plastic rubber band that never held in place after the surgery. But again she assured me that it had been checked a number of times and the general consensus is that it doesn’t bother her, and that surgery to remove it, albeit a pretty routine surgery, wouldn’t be necessary.

I then noticed that the inside part of her right leg wasn’t growing hair. They said that Quinn was caught in barbed wire some time back, but that too was and is a non factor. She also had an inch long scar under her left eye, but I didn’t even bring it up. Fact is, my mind was racing and my heart was broken. It was a surreal sort of morning.

One of the girls said that they were going to go inside New Leaf for a cup of coffee and maybe I should see if I could bond with Quinn while they were away. They left. Quinn didn’t like it, but dealt with it. I was still down on my hands and knees. I was trying to get this dog to look at me, but she was intent on watching the girls walk away.

I scooted closer to this canine, and slowly began to make eye contact with her. I kept my hand on her underbelly, and slowly moved my head closer to her head. I went to pet behind her ears, and that’s when she nipped me in the face. I knew right then an there that this attempt to bite my face marked the beginning of a relationship that was sure to flourish.

Ok so now i had this 40 lb Queensland Heeler on a leash in a parking lot. She wasn’t so good on a leash either. She was actually pulling pretty hard. I was like, “Aren’t you a heeler?” And she was like, “Not when I am on this fucking leash with somebody I don’t know!” I took a deep breath, and let it go. I totally understood this canine from Australia. Knowing this, I opted for no commands, no discipline, no nothing.

The girls came out of New Leaf. I took the leash off Quinn and let her run to where the cars where parked. She ran straight there. When we all regathered, I asked the girls what they wanted to do. The one girl said that she was hoping that I would agree to a one week trial with Quinn. She suggested that I provide daily updates, pictures, etc..  Basically just see how it goes.

“When do you want to start?”(gulp) I asked.
“What about right now,” she said.

So now I had a dog. The seven year itch was being scratched.  She sat in the passenger seat. I drove straight back to my brother’s home in Aptos, CA. When I pulled up to the house, the whole family was outside in the driveway. Everybody’s eyes lit up. Out of thin air, I had just come home with a dog. Hey everyone, this is Quinn!

Good Girl*

Sit.  Siiit.?  No, Sit!  Siiiiiiiit.  No, Down.  Bad Dog!  I said Sit!  SIT!  Down!  God Damnit, SIT!  Ouch, stop, STOP!!  Now Sit.  Good Girl. No, NO.  Stay.  Down!  SIT.  Sit the fuck down dog! Sit!  Siiiiiit?  OK..Stay!!!  No, Down. Sit.  SIT.  Dowwwwn?  Dowwnnnn. Down Damnit!  STAY!  Staayyy?!  NO.  NO!!  Down!  Down!! HEY..GET OVER HERE!  COME!  No.  OK Down!  Good Dog.  HEY!!!  NO!! God Damnit Dog, NO!  COME! Good Girl..NO.  NO, OUT OF THERE!!  GET OVER HERE!  SIT!!  Sit the FUCK down Dog!!  Good Girl.  NO..BAD!  Good, Bad! Now Sit!!!  NO.  Down Bitch!  SIT, No, Good, No, Down, BAD, Come, STAY, NO!..That’s a Good Girl, Good Gir..God Damnit, I said STAY! No, Yes, Bad, COME, UP, DOWN, SIT?!


Full Time Job

It was the Monday morning after The Texans had collapsed to Andrew Luck and The Colts.  I had gone to bed counting money.  The early news made me want to puke.  

The show had to go on though.  I walked 20 minutes uphill to the highway.  I rode a Collectivo for another 15 minutes, before embarking on the final 10 minute walk. 

I noticed the hole in the yard had been dug deeper than I remembered it being.  New to the crime scene was the futon having been shredded like cabbage.  Where to begin.  

It really is a complicated story.  Too weird to explain the situation I put myself in.  In fact, it’s not to be believed.  It involves a young dog, an old lady, and of course me.


Dog Day Afternoon

The old black haired dog slowly made its way to where i was sitting.  His eyes had a twist of glaze.  Despite my complete captivation with the canine, my first thought was that I hoped he would walk on by, scratch at the hot dirt under the shade tree, and nestle down into a cold hole.  Basically my way of telling myself that I didn’t want to pet the old beast.  

I really figured it didn’t want to be pet either.  Not because dogs don’t love being pet, rather this was a real old dog probably looking for peace and quiet.  Where is it more safe and quiet for a canine than the inside of an unearthed hole that has just been personally dug?  A small racetrack of fleas and such were swarming around his white muzzle.

When Blackie got to me, it stopped and looked right through me.  In turn, I was able to see my calling within the glaze.  I put one index finger directly under his eardrum, and made slow motion, circular movements.  He froze and smiled.  When i stopped, it went downward dog on itself, before stretching out both hind legs independently.

It didn’t want any more or it would have made it known.  In my best baritone, I told it that I got why it decided to stop at my foot.  During our talk, some dog action erupted nearby.  The old black dog naturally opened its mouth to bark.  Little came out.  Again, it looked right at me.  He seemed relieved that natural instinct wasn’t able to get the better of him.

Pit Bull Inn

There was a light tap on my heavy duty wooden door. I knew who it was. My fingers were woven, hoping to God that she would say the right thing. I was purposely hiding away, buying some time, doing the proper thing. Earlier in the morning lineup, I had been given the blessing to blow a fuse if I needed to. It was brought to my attention that I was already way up in the plus column by not having blown one the night before when all indicator lights said it was time to Get Nuts.

I remembered her from two years prior. Her voice actually. It’s Marge Simpson gone extra bad. You just want to jam a sock in there.  I couldn’t stand her chirp two years ago, and nothing had changed in the pitch to make me feel any differently this go around. Her voice just rings and rings and rings, and it doesn’t matter what she says, because the ringing just kills the content. And the echo of the ring within the confines of the cement hotel is almost too much to even handle.

I opened the door. For the final time, I told her I was very sorry about last night, and that it was just a perfect sort of storm. I followed that up by saying that I am glad nothing happened, and that I will really keep a closer eye on the little guy. She chimed in with a passive aggressive follow-up threat to her threat from the night before. She wanted to make sure that I had made other arrangements for the Mako Shark. “We can’t stay here unless He goes,” she cackled.

As she was pointing at The Little Big Man, I was pointing at The Rod Iron Gate. And take your sissy fried husband & Gerber baby with you. Now Git.