Dogs at last!

Photo by M. Douglas Wray - all rights reserved

Tammi and Dozer first meet

My wife Marilyn died of cancer on May 14, 2009 after eight months of almost-successful monoclonal antibody treatment. She was actually declared free of cancer but the diagnosis turned out to be incorrect. Lymphoma cells had invaded her spine – by the time her doctor verified it she lasted only a few more days. She swiftly forgot who she was, where she was and who I was. It was horrifying to see my strong, vibrant wife fade away. When the end came it was a blow to all present. She was well-loved and several friends were present to attend her passing.

It left me emotionally shattered for a long time.

My wife and I had two cats and they became a focus of my life. That focus is what put me in the place to meet my next wife Tammi. She was working in the store where I bought pet food. We met while I was buying supplies for our cats. When she asked for the store’s loyalty card I realized that Marilyn had always dealt with that and said so — and that she was no longer with us. Tammi looked me squarely in the eye and replied that she understood — she had lost her husband six years before. Weeks later we met for a date and two years later we were married. I think God sent us to each other.

One of the issues we had to resolve when we merged our households was introducing her two dogs Kona and Sugar to my two cats Kinkles and Chloe. Oh boy.

There were a few incidents but things settled down and we managed to get the “Wild Kingdom” under control, sometimes with a whip and chair. A year or so later Tammi’s last live-at-home child, Kylie, went off to college in Durango and took her dog, Kona, with her. That left us with just Sugar and the two cats. Tammi had wanted a giant-breed dog for years and been unable to have one living in an apartment — now was her chance!

I was really enjoying having dogs around. Marilyn had resisted having cats but finally caved and ultimately fell head over heels with our cats. I figured I could work the same magic with a puppy but never got the chance.

One day Tammi and I were at our cabin above Lyons and happened to go by a neighbor whose Anatolian Shepherd had recently had a litter of puppies. I decided to stop and give them a look.

Again, Fate took the wheel of our lives.

Photo by M. Douglas Wray - all rights reserved.

Bonding with our puppy Dozer

One of the puppies was a stout-looking little boy who was not enjoying the life afforded to mountain dogs. Also, his four sisters were trying to pull his ears off and competing heavily for the food. Tammi coaxed him out and got him to let her pick him up. When she turned to me and I saw them together it was like a door opening. I knew this little dude was coming home with us!

We made the deal, loaded him up and off to the city we went. Poor little fella was clearly terrified of being in a vehicle and huddled next to Tammi the whole way home. His first bath followed – the first time he’d ever seen any large amount of water — and it was much-needed!!

Afterwards he slept on the bathroom floor, exhausted. A few hours later he woke and there was much romping and greeting from Sugar and us. A meal of premium healthy dog food that he didn’t have to fight tooth and claw for, and it was time for bed.

We’re not the least bit shy about it. We both love dogs, all animals in fact, and he’s welcome to sleep with us, just as his ancestors on the Anatolian plains did with their masters thousands of years ago. He cuddled up to me and we both went out like a light, and Tammi documented one of the sweetest moments of both of our lives.

Well, Kylie didn’t like college in Durango and came home. So did Kona. Suddenly we had three dogs and two cats. The circus was back in town!!

Photo by M. Douglas Wray - all rights reserved

Dozer seems to know something he’s not telling

Years later we’re down to just four animals. Chloe and Dozer decided they were WEFL (worst enemies for life) and had a couple of run-ins that left everyone unhappy. A happy foster home was found for Chloe and things settled down. Kinkles was able to deal with the dogs (sometimes with claws out) and everyone learned to get along. Now it’s not at all unusual to see Kinkles walking under Dozer and tickling his belly with her tail. He’s learned that she’s not prey and does not appreciate his nose in her behind — at all — thank you very much!!!

Living with cats is one thing, with dogs another, but both at the same time is pretty challenging — especially at night. Best to segregate the crazed-eyed demon from the dogs then. Everyone becomes prey at night to Kinkles. Once we’d settled that, we got a rhythm going and everyone fell in line. Now we have wonderful Saturday mornings with everyone on the bed playing and jumping around. Kinkles sits up on the armoire and watches with great interest but stays out of the rough-and-tumble.

I still miss my dear Marilyn and Tammi sometimes pines for Scott, but we’ve linked our fates together and so have our pets. Something I haven’t mentioned till now — Dozer was born the day Marilyn passed. Sometimes when I look into his eyes I wonder if perhaps Marilyn had something to do with him coming into our lives.

Dog, after all, is “God” spelled backwards.

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