Posts Tagged ‘dog’

“Let Go of My Sock, Please”- by Alison Grambs


Bily & Sumter in Repose


One year ago today, my husband and I lost our furry baby, Bily.

He was 11 years old and loved us with all his heart and all eight of his remaining teeth. He was our daredevil companion on every road trip we took, be it via car or motorcycle, traveling all over the country with us and well up into Canada on several occasions as well. He was witness to us climbing down a 143 foot cliff over the Bay of Fundy. An adventurer at heart, relishing in new sights and new places. Afraid of nothing. A lover of life; a hater of pigeons.

Having no children of our own, Bily was the center of our daily focus. The four-legged child we’d ‘rescued’ from a pet store in upstate New York because he looked just so damn in need of a saving. He was a body and soul entirely dependent on us, and we reveled in our responsibility to give him a happy life. His personality was, for better or worse, a hilariously canine reflection of our own. And we were supposed to have many more years with him.

The seizure this otherwise happy pup suffered in April of last year had been a signal. Intellectually, we knew that of course, but emotionally, we just couldn’t process that there might be an end in sight. And for a few short weeks, all things pointed to the chance that the seizure had been an aberration. That our baby would continue to steal my ice cream out of my bowl, pee on the carpets, growl at my husband whenever he made the mistake of moving one of his toys.

So, there was a big, fat, gaping hole in our hearts when Bily died a month later, leaving us weakened us at the proverbial knees. Our once  happy threesome had instantly been dwindled down into a numbed twosome. The grief felt insurmountable. The trick God had played on us felt unforgivably cruel.

Hell, nooooooo, we said to ourselves repeatedly. We won’t even look at another dog for a long time, let alone get one!

Six months later, we met Sumter in Florida. One of the many unclaimed pups scheduled for mandatory euthanasia by the local animal control services. But a quick thinking staff member at the local Humane Society nearby had saved him from that end- scooping little Sumter up and taking him to her no-kill shelter for safe keeping and ( hopefully) adoption. 

A wildly comical puppy, Sumter reminded us so very much of Bily in spirit and temperament. It was eerie. But not enough to convince us he was meant to be ours. “He’s adorable,” we kept sighing. “Someone will snap him up in a heartbeat.” After all, we had made a promise not to get another dog until we felt emotionally and intellectually ready. This was too soon, we reminded ourselves as Sumter licked our faces. It would be a betrayal of Bily’s memory. Blah, blah, blah.

Still though, there little Sumter staring back at us through the pen every time we visited the shelter to volunteer. Doing his ‘run, run, run, leap!’ prancing/jumping thing around the shelter yard. Doing everything he could to demonstrate just how happy he could make us. Despite ourselves, we had already lovingly nicknamed him Maniac.

Four weeks later, under the cover of a torrential rainfall, that little maniac was coming home with us. It is a decision that changed our lives for the better, and a day that sent us on a wonderful new path to being new puppy parents. Since that day a lot has happened in my life that has been hard to suck down. Life changes, especially those that are unexpected, can be crippling both mentally and physically. But somehow, with just one long, sloppy wet drag of his happy puppy tongue across my face…one ‘run, run, run, leap!’ peace in Central Park…Sumter manages to make everything feel manageable. 

With Sumter’s age unknown, but the timing pretty close according to his size and weight and puppy teeth, we decided to make May 9th Sumter’s birthday. A tribute to his predecessor, whose spirit we glimpse in this little maniac every day. Sumter is an annual reminder of how the seemingly cruel cycle of life is, in fact, a perfect circle- the greatest of blessings if you look at the situation just right.

Happy Birthday, Sumter!

Now…let…go…of…my… sock…please.


“Soooo, You’re Saying I Shouldn’t Lick Myself?”- by Alison Grambs

Gone, but still fetching.


A week ago today our dog passed away. 

He died at home with us, for which I am thankful. However, his passing was sudden, and unexpected, and for that, I am eternally resentful. He was only eleven years old and still so very much a puppy in behavior and spirit. I am angry. I am depressed. I am devastated. I thought I could write about Bily’s death today; I wanted to do something to immortalize the being that is no longer tangible to me in furry form. I thought it would help me to put into words the many destabilizing emotions I have been experiencing for the past seven days. Like everyone who has experienced a loss, either animal or human, Tommy’s and my world has been turned upside down, rendering us unable, at least for the moment, to imagine proceeding through our lives without our crazy Yorkie nipping at our feet and trying to steal every morsel of food we are eating.

But the truth of the matter is, the last thing I want to do right now is think about the void Bily’s passing has left in my heart. I am not a girl used to feeling weak. I am unaccustomed to letting the negatives of a situation outweigh the positives. And yet, here I am, feeling intolerably incapacitated, cheated, and jaded. Bily was one of the happiest, most innately joyful creatures I have ever known in my life. All he wanted in life was to enjoy every day. My God, I’ve never known another being so completely enraptured by the simplest of pleasures. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, right? When God closes a door, he opens a window.

So, here I am, determined to find that window and let the sun shine through it and bask me in positivity. In little Bily’s memory I am going to start living my life a bit more like Bily did. 

When I have to go to the bathroom, I’m not going to scratch at the door or whimper. Instead, I’m just going to the nearest rug in the house and lift my leg. 

If there is something I need from across the living room, I’m going to ask Tommy to toss it, long and low, and then scamper after it on all fours.

If I see a pigeon, I will chase it down, barking the entire while at a decibel so high that any and all incoming pigeons immediately reroute and head in the other direction.

If I don’t like the food someone has put down in front of me, from now on I plan on picking it out of my bowl piece by piece, gumming each piece a bit, and then spitting it out on the floor.

When I am taking a nap, I am going to twitch and flip and flop unnecessarily, just to remind anyone who is nearby that I could awaken at any time and begin an hour-long fetching game that will drive said person to his or her knees.

If I feel like eating something off the ground, I will do so. Even if it is decayed and indigestible. And if I then feel the need to expel whatever I put into my body that shouldn’t be in there, I will embrace my ability to simultaneously expel it from both ends because it’s fun to watch someone try to clean up that kind of mess with just one paper towel.

When on a road trip, from now on I will sit in the backseat of our Rock Lobstah red/orange Jeep and pant uncontrollably in Tommy’s ear. When he offers me water, I will confuse the matter further by refusing the water. But I will still continue panting in his ear. For hours and hours and hours.

When camping in the woods, I will scrape at the walls of our tent until there is just enough of a hole for creepy crawly creatures to push through, preferably ones with stingers.

When I have to go to the doctor for a check-up, and he sticks his finger in my butt under the premise of depressing my anal glands, I will turn right around and do the exact same thing to him.

When it’s raining outside, I will drag Tommy all the way down the block until his perfectly coiffed hair is completely wet. But if the sun is shining, I will refuse to leave the house and instead, go pee on the bath mat right where he steps out of the shower.

I will collect all my toys in a pile, gum each one until it is adequately slathered in my saliva. 

I will bark loudly at night when everyone is sleeping, but then make sure to be very quiet when an intruder busts into the house armed with a machete and chain saw.

Lastly, whenever I get bored, from now on I am going to lick myself all over in public. (During parades especially because then visiting politicians will know exactly how I feel about the job they are doing.)

Yes, it’s going to feel very good to get my canine on. 



“The Rolling Bush” – by Alison Grambs

Watermarked ImageSome people think of the ideal vacation as a trip to a Caribbean resort, lounging poolside, and sipping brightly colored beverages out of frosty glasses with fancy straws in them. But for me and my husband, the perfect summer vacation is one on the open road on our camouflage sidecar motorcycle.

Yes, you read that correctly. Our camouflage… sidecar… motorcycle.

Since we’ve known each other, we’ve owned about ten different motorcycles. (In fact, that Tommy rode a motorcycle at all is the primary reason I gave him my phone number when we first met.) From Ninjas to Harleys to BMWs to Yamahas, our ownership has covered the gamut in terms of two-wheel brands and styles. But it is our current bike, our Russian-made, slightly comical, mechanically antiquated, green, sidecar Ural motorcycle that is, hands down, our favorite.  

Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to be part of the biker community.  I caught the bug when road tripping across country with my parents many years ago.  A hurricane blasted through the plains of whatever mid-West state we were camping in the middle of, and had it not been for the quick thinking of a tough, Hog-riding biker in our midst, the little Grambs family might have blown away entirely.   But alas, growing up in New York City, and proving to be somewhat incompetent behind the wheel of any moving vehicle, the whole Hell’s Angel thing never quite worked out for me.  My husband, however, has been motorcycling his entire life.  He can not only get us where we’re going on any two or three wheeled vehicle, but fix any mechanical problems that arise along the way.  Flat tires, broken shocks, a busted suspension, oil leak, missing bits and pieces of those doo-hickies with the spike thingies that wrap around the tank thingie that goes inside the cylinder thingie… Tommy can do it all.  And while I may not be able to operate a motorcycle on my own,  I am what I refer to as a ‘dedicated passenger’, doing whatever I can to make myself as essential a  partner in our Rolling Bush motorcycling experience as a completely non-essential partner can be. From assisting with navigation and changing the oil, to learning the history of our Ural and being able to identify all the working parts of its 1940s engine, I am involved. 

Through our helmet intercom system I communicate at all times with Tommy.  Sometimes it’s to point out a truck he may not seeing pulling up on our right too fast.  Sometimes it’s to suggest an alternate route to avoid a traffic jam I spy over the hood of the sidecar.  Sometimes it’s to point out a tourist sight we simply cannot miss – like the world’s smallest church or the world’s largest cornball.  Sometimes it’s to inform him of a gas or oil leak I am spotting from my perch.  And sometimes it’s just to sing, rather loudly,  the chorus of a Paul Simon song into our speaker system because I know it will annoy Tommy… and that means he’ll get a headache… and that means he’ll have to stop for a break at the nearest rest stop …and that means I can get a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Yay!

So, as the warm weather rolls in, I am looking immensely forward to being on the Rolling Bush as it leaves its garage for slightly greener pastures. I look forward to breathing in exhaust fumes through my DOT approved helmet, and feeling the tremble of the engine on all sides of my person as I wonder exactly how damp my butt can possibly get from sitting in the sidecar too long.  And I look forward to seeing other motorcyclists along the road, traveling from all walks of life, moving on all sorts of bikes, to all sorts of destinations.  We will spot each other from across open road, exchange the secret biker nod and and sign off with the secret biker wave of the gloved hand that says, “Yeah, I get it. And it’s friggin’ awesome, right?”

Disclaimer: I just showed the drawing I did of us on our Ural (see above.) He claims that my sketch is not at all ‘realistic’… something about how the ‘dimensions are off ‘- how his neck looks ‘freakishly long’ – how I’m standing on the top of the sidecar ‘rather than sitting in it like a normal person with a functioning brain does’ – how he’s missing his left kneecap in my sketch – how the backwards direction of the road ‘implies that we are driving off the road entirely” – how our helmets do not look ‘at all DOT approved.”

Whatever.  If Mr. Biker Dude keeps complaining about my art, I’ll just start singing a Paul Simon song…really, really loud.  That’ll shut him up.