dogku by Dennis
roll on, bad old storm
got me a new Thundershirt
ain’t shaking no more
Dennis peacefully enduring tonight’s storm in his new Thundershirt
dogku by Dennis
roll on, bad old storm
got me a new Thundershirt
ain’t shaking no more
Dennis peacefully enduring tonight’s storm in his new Thundershirt
I taught him how.
When I was about fourteen.
He was so enthusiastic.
Of course, I had to lean over a bit.
It was hard for him to jump that high, with those short little legs.
“Kiss?” I would say.
And he would try. He’d jump for all he was worth, with joy.
He was my first dog. I named him Onyx. Onnie for short.
He and his brother Bagel (named for Barry Manilow’s dog) were born across the street from my childhood home.
Daddy said we could NOT have any of those puppies.
–We got them anyway.
Onyx startled me the first time he jumped high enough to “kiss” me.
Then he learned the command. It was his favorite way of greeting.
It is his word.
The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers is underway, meaning that I am posting every day in the month of March. This marks my fifth consecutive year and I’m experimenting with an abecedarian approach: On Day 11, I am writing around a word beginning with letter k.
Well, it’s a bit early, but I am well-prepared. I might as well sign on.
[logging into Google Classroom]
Now, where is that video link? — aha.
Microphone on, camera on—why, there I am!
Let Me just split My screen [click, click]… pull this window over…
There. Nothing to do now but wai—What’s this? Someone signing on?
Oh! Hello, Principal.
Yes, but of course. You are most welcome. It is My great pleasure. I’ve been quite looking forward to it since the interview…no, I cannot imagine so many teachers taking leave all at once. Tremendous strain, certainly, certainly. The rest of the week at least, you say? Possibly longer? Not to worry. I’ve updated all lessons and classwork activities. Eager to meet the students…what’s that? The dress code? Well, I borrowed this good blue shirt for the occasion…why, thank you. I do love blues. Calming. Shows up well on the screen, I think. A nuisance to button, if I may say… but you were saying—? The dress code is “professional on top” because…oh. I see. I beg your pardon. Let Me readjust…
No, thank you. I certainly appreciate your stopping by, Principal. A great day to you as well…
—Hello, Student! Good morning. You are early. No, no, your teacher is fine, just on a short, shall we say, vacation…
My, how you students are popping up like popcorn! Egads. You’re becoming exponentially tinier on My screen…
Welcome to class today, one and all. Let Me introduce Myself. I am Mr. Henry Rollins Haley. You may call Me Mr. Haley if you prefer, or HRH, which I prefer. I’ll be your substitute virtual teacher while your teacher… ahem….recuperates.
Let us begin by taking attendance.
—Pardon Me, but two of you do not appear to be on My roster. Are you in this class? …Then will you please sign off promptly and go to your own?… Yes, My understanding is that you will have a substitute there also. Someone by the name of ‘Ms. Fluffy,’ I believe. Make haste. What’s that?… My apologies. Let Me rephrase: Hurry on to your own class now. Enjoy your day.
Time for learning to commence! Today we will—wait, that rattling sound—who’s eating Spicy Nacho Doritos?…. How do I know? Of course it isn’t magic. You flatter Me. I happen to be possessed of superior hearing; every single bag of chips has its own distinctive sound, its own signature, if you will…a better question is: Who’s eating Spicy Nacho Doritos at 8:00 in the morning? Is it you, Student XYZ*, there with your camera off? Please turn it on at once… oh! You’re the parent. My apologies… the student is still waking up but will be here shortly? I see. Thank you for letting Me know. By all means, keep the camera off… please…
All right, then, we are ready to delve into our first, if I may say, most exciting activity on—students, I really must ask that you refrain from using the chat feature to have personal conversations unless I direct you to do so, or unless you have a question or comment for Me, of course. I am glad indeed that you’re so happy to see one another and that you are communicating in writing; it warms the very cockles of My heart, truly. I have so looked forward to getting to know each and every one of you, and there is no better way to begin than by this (if I may say) fabulous introductory activity I’ve designed! All right, without further ado—wait, why is everyone frozen on the screen? Hello? Hello? [tapping screen with toenail]. Can you hear Me? Students—?
What’s happeni—that spinning circle! No! Don’t tell Me…
Dear Google Meet, just a bit of advice: Never state the obvious.
Nevertheless. I shall attempt reconnection.
[refreshes. No Internet access]
[drumming toenails, clickety, clickety, clickety]
I might as well head to the kitchen for a snack until the connection resumes. An energy bar, perhaps…or three or four…
—But I am watching, every single second…
Hello? Anyone there?
Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge and for the vital mission of encouraging writers and writing.
Henry (HRH) dedicates this post to all the teachers out there, in honor of their Herculean efforts and extreme dedication…as well as to all the dogs who faithfully accompany their children in virtual learning, even if they do occasionally lick the screen—the dogs, that is. Children seldom lick the screen.
*Student XYZ: Name has been changed for obvious reasons.
From the pen—um, keyboard, rather—of a favorite guest paw-thor who has his own category here on Lit Bits and Pieces…
Dear, Dear Readers,
It has been far too long since we last communed.
So much has changed.
Where to begin?
Nearly one year ago, my Him ushered Me to a new home with new—how shall I say it?— Beings. A new Her. And a little Her. And two dogs, imagine.
Predictions were made. It was said by Some that I wouldn’t be happy. That I wouldn’t adapt. That I might lash out, because, Some stated, it is the nature of My kind, for We cannot be trusted…
That is where Some make the fatal error, see.
They commit assumicide.
They do not walk in My paws. They do not see with My eyes, do not feel the rhythms of My heart.
Sure, I am—I confess—a bit of a worrier who needs a dab of reassurance here and there.
—Okay, okay, My Him says “constant” reassurance, but.
I have reached a place of peace. A higher state of being.
—Right? I know you’re asking how that’s even possible, with My obvious preexisting highness! But it is true.
This, Dear, Dear Readers, is My secret.
It isn’t found in chasing rabbits. Trust Me, there are too many to catch. More will come to taunt you tomorrow. Not worth it…
It isn’t in staying in the same comfortable place ad infinitum, but in trusting, even when it leads you to somewhere very different.
It is always, always in People, even a small One who moves quite erratically and unnervingly yet drapes Herself around Your neck whilst murmuring “I love you” (I think of Her as my living necklace. My medal of honor. I wear Her with pride. Even as I tolerate Her plunking on a ukulele in excruciating proximity. Whatever happened to lyres, I ask You—?).
It is in learning to tolerate—nay, make friends with!—creatures that breathe the same air and share the same space… it is easier than Some might think. In fact, when all the Two-Leggers are out, those dogs and I have free rein (I prefer ‘reign’) over the dwelling. My old crate, My old safe place, has been disassembled. I need it no more, for now I am never alone, and accordingly feel no need to be “destructive” (although I occasionally recall the flavor of a good book cover with much fondness. Alas.).
Above all, this higher state is achieved in spending every possible moment with The One You Love Best (in My case, Him) which I have done more than ever since last spring, these moments, these days, the joy of My existence.
I wish it to last forever and ever, Amen.
But for now I will simply bask in it for as long as I can, togetherness.
So, from My perch here on the new couch I’ve claimed as My own personal seat of dominion, right beside Him’s desk where He works, I leave you, Dear, Dear Readers, with My perfect picture of peace.
May such be upon you and yours as well.
(Henry Rollins Haley)
To sleep, perchance to dream… of more love to give on waking.
Noble beast, Pit sublime, in his state of bliss.
Many thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge honoring writers, writing, perspective, and voice.
My Dearest, Dearest Readers,
Heartfelt thanks to each of you for joining Me this week as I mark another year of being alive.
Yes—it is My birthday!
Or—ahem—at least it’s the annual day set aside for marking this monumental occasion, as I was projected to be approximately thirteen months old when I inherited the kingdom over which I currently rule. Thus saith the veterinarian to My Family when I was … er … adopted as a … (sigh) … foundling.
Which by no means affects My jurisdiction, mind you, nor My inalienable rights.
Speaking of which: As We share the same birth month, I felt that I could afford to be magnanimous to the United States of America by donning a bit of stars and stripes. I assure you that this is not an attempt to throw the nation a bone, as it were, nor to outshine any festivities:
Although I am looking quite glorious for five years of age, don’t you agree?
Let Me just say that while My Family is busy celebrating the paramount importance of My birth, I am truly and humbly grateful for every minute that I live. Indeed, I spend the whole of my existence, every minute of every day, asleep as well as awake, attempting to convey the indescribable magnitude of My love for them. I can scarcely keep it from bursting forth from My exceptionally big heart, with every single beat.
They are, after all, My People. Who dwell in My home.
Our relationship is one of complete mutuality (as long as I am patted and scratched for the length of time I deem to be appropriate, and as long as I am provided with delectable morsels at exceedingly regular intervals).
With proper obeisance shown Me (and ONLY Me), all remains peaceful here in Our tiny realm.
And so it is no wonder that an artist was inspired to capture My likeness on canvas, as befits one Who reigns supreme. I therefore give you this portrait in commemoration of My birthday, that you might henceforth hang it in your heart gallery alongside your own sovereign rulers:
*not His Royal Highness, although I can see how it would quite easily be inferred. This is America, remember? In the absence of a title—alas—I simply sign My monogram.
Off now to rest My aching toenails (how DO you Humans spend so much time on these atrocious devices??) and to locate Me a Person for snoozing against.
[Editor’s Note: For your convenience, Henry has archived all of his posts under the Henry Writes category. He says this will have to suffice until he has his own site, etc. ]
“It’s finished,” said Cadillac Man, as we laid the headstone commemorating his little companion of sixteen years.
He’d chosen this spot months ago as he watched his beloved dog wasting away, day by day. And so we laid Nik to rest here in the shade of the crape myrtle our family planted when we first moved to our home. Nik was a year old then. Cadillac Man was five, soon to finish kindergarten; he’s entering his last year of college now.
The tree in its fullness marks the passing of time. It was young when my boy with black curls and his little red dachshund were young. I think of myrtle being an ancient funeral flower, how it represents love and faithfulness . . . never mind that a crape myrtle isn’t a true myrtle. The name association is enough; the symbolism perfect. As the pink blossoms collect here by Nik’s likeness, I recollect the bright spot of happiness he was throughout my son’s childhood, throughout the life of my family.
The statue is my doing. Cadillac Man drove me on a four-hour round trip to get it. “It’s just like him!” he exclaimed when he saw it.
Yes. For the garden is not here for remembering that Nik’s no longer with us after so many years, whenever we see it through the kitchen windows or as we pass by on our daily comings and goings. It is not for mourning, or to assuage our pain.
It’s here to celebrate the gift of his life—a garden of gratitude.
It is complete.
And so, it would seem, the Nik stories are complete.
The Nik collection:
Cadillac Man shares his writing!
As I’ve a few moments while My People are busy, it pleases Me to skim the goings on of this site. I’ve been clicking through comments (literally clicking, the sound of My nail striking the keyboard) and have discovered, to My utmost delight, that many of you have expressed the wish that I write again.
It gives Me great pleasure to grant this wish.
I shall share My important work with you today.
I wake of a morning at approximately 4:00 a.m. Usually She is up by then and ready to attend Me. I exit my bedchamber and make My way into the Room of Dining, where I receive, in no especial order, a massage (if insufficiently performed, I simply nudge Her repeatedly until she does it again, to My satisfaction), a hearty breakfast of salmon nuggets for Sensitive Systems, and a brisk jog around the posterior courtyard. I re-enter the dwelling and wait for the fine tidbit that is given Me simply because I am Me.
Then I rest a while before awakening My other Servants. I give them ample time, but, as I am no sloth, and have little patience for slothery, eventually it becomes time for me to sit— with all due respect— outside of closed bedchamber doors, politely clearing my throat so that less-early risers will get the message: It’s time to get up.
Once I’ve roused the entire Staff, and everyone has greeted me properly, they go about grooming themselves. My important work is nearly done. By approximately 6:00 a.m.
With the household up and running, I am ready for My morning nap. I retire to the master bedchamber, where the gilded quilt atop the bed is freshly prepared for Me. I perform My ceremonial turning, turning, turning, before situating Myself ever-so-comfortably in My luxurious robe of red.
Which smells most wonderfully of Her.
I wish for you an equally charmed day. And existence.
-My robe awaits. I shall meet you here again soon, perhaps.
Henry Rollins Haley (HRH)
P.S. Noting the lack of My own category on this site, I have chosen to take the high road. Rather than pointing out this glaring oversight to Her, in particular, I have simply created a category for Myself: “Henry Writes.” When not consumed by My important work as described above, I may write a few words. And, if you can figure out a way to send Me some of those magnificent tidbits through this screen, I would be most appreciative.
While I—er, I mean Henry, our dog—composes his own blog post, my younger son (the Cadillac man) drifts through the kitchen.
I pull up a previous post on my phone and hand it to him:
“Here, read the comments about you and Pa-Pa’s Cadillac.”
He reads, smiles. He’s pleased but says little. He’s a man of few words.
He won’t ask, so I tell him what I—um, Henry—is working on: “This is the next post. Henry is writing it in response to one I wrote about him interrupting my writing.”
“Hmmm,” replies the Cadillac man.
“Want to read it?”
So the Cadillac man sits down at the table and takes my laptop. He reads Henry’s post-in-progress.
“I like it,” he says.
He sits for a minute.
Then: “I wonder if I could write from Nik’s perspective.”
Nikolaus is our sixteen-year-old dachshund. We got him as a puppy when my son was four.
As I take my laptop back, I say, rather airily, “You should try it.”
I don’t expect him to.
He hates writing.
This is a big, jagged stake in my heart.
His older brother loves writing and even maintained a blog for a while, long before I started this one. But the Cadillac man has gone all the way through his academic career cracking books only when he had to, writing only when forced for assignments, and utterly exasperating me with his lack of interest. He didn’t struggle with reading or writing. He just didn’t care about any of it.
At all. Ever.
He’s a brilliant musician, however, and a powerful vocalist. He’s loved music all of his life. At age seventeen, two weeks after graduating from high school, he was hired as a church music director. He’s working on a degree in that field. He’s adapted songs, composed a little—”just the music, not the words. I don’t do words”—and coaches others as they try playing instruments new to them. He speaks beautifully before a crowd, did so at Ma-Ma’s funeral despite not having any notes, because . . . he hates to write.
So, when he mentions writing about Nik, I think he’s just wondering out loud, nothing more.
He leaves the room. He comes back to the kitchen table with his new Chromebook.
“Do you have homework?” I ask.
“No, Mom, it’s spring break, remember? I’m going to write a story from Nik’s perspective. To see if I can actually do it.”
The first time in his twenty years that he’s chosen to write a story.
I feel like the floor under my feet is shifting, that the Earth itself hangs in the balance. I have to leave the room.
I can’t stand it. I have to know.
I creep back into the kitchen.
He’s typing away.
“How’s it going?” I dare to ask.
“Is it . . . fun?” I hear my voice quaver.
“It’s sad, really,” he says.
He finishes, lets me read it.
We know Nik won’t be with us much longer. He’s old. Frail. He’s going blind; his eyes are turning milky. My son’s words show Nik making his peace with all of this, that he’s satisfied he’s served his family well, and how he knows our other two dogs will “carry my torch of comfort and protection long after I’m gone.”
The attribution reads Nikolaus Haley, expert red dachshund.
My throat is tight. Nik and the Cadillac man have been together almost their entire lives. Every single day. They wear a matching red-and-black checkered friendship bracelet and collar.
“It’s a powerful story,” I manage.
“Thanks,” says my son, softly. He gets up from the table, gathers Nik, who’s been wandering aimlessly around the kitchen this whole time, and takes him upstairs to “the lair,” as we call it.
I read the story again and again.
Thinking how he said to see if I can actually do it.
I think he meant getting in Nik’s head to write from his beloved dog’s viewpoint, rising to meet a challenge he set for himself.
And then I think how, when you finally show up for the writing, the writing shows up for you, and pulls you through.
First of all, hello.
I didn’t realize you were out there. Apologies.
I was only sniffing around to see what She is doing all the time on this, this . . . annoying Electrical Thing. I am forced of late to spend a great deal of time sitting on the kitchen rug by her chair instead of on the sofa where She will cuddle with Me. Granted, I can cuddle with a He (there are three from which to choose), but, as She has the warmest lap, She makes the best pillow.
I cannot figure out what’s so compelling about this Electrical Thing, other than, as I’ve just discovered—having inadvertently hit a movable part—there being a story here about ME.
Well. I don’t know what to think. And that accompanying photo of me-! I am aghast.
Do not tell Her this but I tried getting rid of that unflattering story. I confess that I don’t know how to make it go away. But I am, if I don’t say so Myself, a quick learner, as you can see, although it is taking Me a while to tap this out with one nail.
I do have stories, some that you might need to know, and others from long ago that—well, I prefer not to talk about long ago when I was found living on the streets. It brings a shudder even to this day. If I seem, ahem, needy [air quotes], there are reasons: I have loved, lost, and been lost.
-Hang on. She’s supposed to be sleeping. Must check. Be right back.
[clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick . . .
Gracious, how loud My nails are on the hardwood floor when the house is quiet! I’ve been in trouble yet again for biting them, but, HELLO, it’s time for a pedicure, if Anyone cares.
In the interest of time, before They All wake up: Rest assured that I will be vigilant about policing what is said about Me here, as vigilant as I am over what that abhorrent, slobbery yellow monster out back is doing, the foul fiend that She talks to so nicely in the voice meant for Me and ONLY ME, that incessant barker, copious shedder (My own hair, very, very fine, just comes off in wee, hardly perceptible amounts), that, that ANIMAL whose story has, unbelievably, won some kind of recognition, if My ears didn’t deceive me whilst pretending to be asleep during recent conversations.
Happy to make your acquaintance, however. Until next time, I leave you with a far better image of Me, bedecked in My holiday finery:
HRH (Henry Rollins Haley)
Paterfamilias, Dominus, Master of the House
Banjo is my family’s 18-month-old yellow Lab. If he can be summed up in one word, it’s exuberant. If two words – wildly exuberant. He is a force to be reckoned with, ninety-one pounds of raw energy barreling toward us at top speed in hopes of 1) eating something or 2) having us throw a ball or stick for him to retrieve. Endlessly. Banjo goes into a frenzy if he thinks we’re about to stop throwing said ball or stick, the bodily equivalent of shouting NONONONONOPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!!! His beautiful gold-green eyes (sky-blue when he was a baby) go pink around the rims; he often leaves us humans coated in a layer of frothy slobber, prompting us to quote Bill Murray’s line to Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters: “He slimed me.”
During attempted walks on the leash (key word: attempted – these walks are more like trying to restrain a steam locomotive), Banjo’s mouth foams to the point of looking rabid, unnerving to anyone who might recall a certain story about a big yellow dog exposed to hydrophobia. I mentally push this horrible connection away the instant it comes to mind. Managing Banjo has become something of a Herculean challenge, to say the least. Twice he’s escaped from us, running, barking and foaming, through our neighborhood, causing one woman to run into her house and giving young men chase. I corralled him once myself and got him safely to our fenced backyard. The other time my older son chased him for forty-five minutes, while Banjo had the time of his life ripping through neighbor’s yards and swimming in the pond across the street from our house. In disgust, my son gave up and stormed home, at which point Banjo, sopping with pond water, bounded back up the driveway.
Banjo escaped from the backyard recently, having dislodged two slats of the wooden fence by repeatedly jumping against them with his considerable weight. Looking at the slats, presently secured with bungee cords until we can nail them back properly, my husband said, “If we can’t contain him, we’re not going to be able to keep him.”
My turn to say NONONONONOPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!!!
Despite all, I love this wildly exuberant dog. He’s been with us since he was seven weeks old, a ball of yellow fuzz that slept in my lap or on my feet. Banjo’s presence represents hope and survival, his own as well as my husband’s during a dark time; I wrote about it in The unplanned baby. How can I just give him up? Yes, he’s one giant mess. Sure, he sheds copiously, enough hair to make a whole other dog. Yes, he dug up the pipe leading from the propane tank by the back deck until the stench of gas frightened us all, giving us visions of the whole place blowing at any moment, until we buried the pipe again and built a small wall of cinder blocks around it. Banjo barked at these blocks nonstop, all day, every day, for about a month.
But when he goes into his crate at night, he looks at me with those golden-green eyes and waits patiently for me to reach through and rub him for a minute. When I do, he leans his head against my hand, closes his eyes, and savors every second – the sweetest, most loving of creatures.
If only he would stay this calm more often . . . .
It was inevitable, of course, and past time, really. It had to be done.
We took Banjo to be neutered.
We did not know until we picked him up that he’d be wearing a cone to keep him from interfering with his surgery site until it healed – for seven days.
“There’s no way,” I said, watching Banjo writhing, twisting, and jumping, trying to rid himself of this horrid thing around his head. But after a few minutes, he sat still, with his head hanging down. Subjugated, submissive, maybe even dejected, Banjo seemed to be contemplating this new, unfortunate turn of events.
In the subsequent days, he simply made the necessary adjustments.
He learned that he had to put the entire cone opening over his food and water bowl to eat and drink. I laughed at the sight. He looked like something straight out of science fiction, a vacuum-headed suction creature from another planet. He ran through the backyard, as exuberant as ever, with his cone pointed toward the sky like a morning-glory flower. He wanted to play so badly that, despite the cone, he managed to drag a five-foot pine limb thicker than my arm to me in hopes that I’d throw it for him.
He still waited for me to rub his head when he went into his crate to sleep.
“I am so sorry about all of this, Banjo,” I said, working my hand through the bars and past the cone.
He shifted his head to help me reach him, leaned against my hand, and closed his eyes. So accepting and forgiving.
I rubbed him an extra-long time, tears stinging my own eyes.
My husband and I took the cone off after four days. We couldn’t stand it anymore.
Banjo is healed now, running unfettered again in the backyard each day of this glorious, sunny spring. He never fails to lift my spirits, this big, beautiful, messy boy. He reminds me that setbacks are temporary, that whatever pain and hardships come, there’s something good waiting just on the other side. Accept, make the necessary adjustments, carry on – cheerfully.
Just another of life’s lessons from an exuberant yellow dog that will hopefully be calmer now.
Regardless, here’s the truth about Banjo: He doesn’t belong to me. I belong to him.
Reflection: What are the necessary adjustments must you make in your own life, currently? Think acceptance, forgiveness, healing, moving beyond. What’s the something better that might be waiting on the other side of the struggle, the pain? Write your truths.