Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And just like that, I'm back in.

For months and months (obviously) I have not been able to remember how to access this blog. Couldn't remember my sign in, couldn't remember my password, and couldn't find information on how to get back on.

And then magically this morning, it all came together. I searched the Help area, put in the right search terms and found the solution. Ta-da! And here I am again.

To catch everyone up -- Diego's baby brother Skippyjon is now living with us. Same parents, different litter. He's an aggressive little bugger and starts fights with Diego on a daily basis, but we're working on that. He is serving his purpose is a most excellent way -- he and Diego are best buds when they aren't fighting, and they totally leave Chelsea alone. She's much happier and more relaxed now, which makes me happy. I really didn't want her last years to be spent hiding behind the chair or under the bed so that she could avoid Diego.

I changed jobs almost a month ago. I'm now working as publications director for another yarn company. And I LOVE MY JOB!!! After a year of not really liking what I was doing at the previous yarn company but settling for it because I couldn't figure out what to do, actually liking my job again is refreshing and welcome. I'm crazy busy with it, and that's ok. I feel like I've been there for a long time instead of a few weeks. The whole thing totally fell into my lap out of the clear blue sky, and I'm incredibly blessed with a good salary and a great position.

What else, what else ... oh! I'm getting a new car today! Well, not a new car, but a new-to-me car. The Transition Car died two weeks ago. I've had a rental for a week, and found a 2003 PT Cruiser with decent milage in pretty good shape. It comes home today, and I can't wait. It's a limited version, with a sun roof and heated leather seats. The inside is in great shape, as is the outside. The dealer fixed a few little problems for me (that could have been big problems had I not had a prepurchase inspection done when I looked at it), so I'm happy. I still will need shocks, new wipers and new tires, but all of them can wait a bit and I can do one thing at a time until they're all done. I feel safe enough with it to drive to visit family over Christmas -- about 600 miles each way -- and it will be nice to not have to pay for a rental like I usually do when I drive home.

On the knitting needles: six socks, all on double-points, and one more sock to be cast on [soon] to try out the new square double points I just bought. I want to see if all the hype is true. It wasn't [at least for me] for knitting two socks at once on two circulars. I still have the same two socks on the same two circular needles that have been there for a year. I should finish them ... Also on the needles, my version of the Noro Silk Garden 1/1 rib striped scarf. I'm using Sonnet from Wisdom Yarns, which I'm pretty sure is very similar to Silk Garden. The colorways I'm using are prototypes, so they aren't available anywhere. The scarf is gorgeous and will be a gift to a friend who has been helping me out with occasional rides while I've been car-less. I finished up socks for my brother and sister-in-law, who are on their way here as I write this to spend Thanksgiving weekend with me. We'll have a wonderful dinner tomorrow, do some work, and then have some play time at Gem Mountain over the weekend. I can't wait to see them!

I think that's all the big stuff. Now that I know my sign-in stuff, I'll be posting often again. I missed writing here!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In other news, Diego reaches 2 pounds today.

Back to our regularly scheduled garden news tomorrow, I promise. I really do have baby tomato plants!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Diego, the Explorer

One of the few times he sat still today. That tail is moving though!

Whoa -- what's this under here? Can I eat it? (Once he was under the chair, he sat up -- he didn't have to crawl under on his belly.)

Hi Mom! Hi Mom! Hi Mom! Hi Mom! (each Hi accompanied by a jump)

I know he's around here somewhere -- I need to hide!

[Note: Sorry for the blurry photos -- neither of them would stand still. Diego is so excited to just be, and Chelsea is trying very hard to stay out of his way. Perpetual motion these days!]

I'd really forgotten what having a new puppy was like. Chelsea was a puppy 13 years ago, and she was so very, very good. Diego is a totally different story -- he's a little terror! Must be the Chihuahua blood ... And he isn't really a terror. He's very much the fearless explorer. He wanders all over the apartment, and he discovers new things at every turn. This morning I caught him chewing on all of the following: a bead, a little clump of Chelsea's fur that she pulled out while scratching, a tiny piece of rubber that must have bounced off the table when I mounted stamps the other day, the label sheet to a set of stamps that I've been looking for (who knows where he found that), a piece of pine straw that must have come in on Chelsea's fur, an ancient treat that was under a living room chair (he fits under there quite well, almost without crouching down), a strand of yarn from the skein hanging off the back of my desk chair (that I didn't think he could reach), a corner of the blanket covering the back of his play crate, the potty pads in the bathroom, a piece of dog litter from the box he doesn't use, a strand of carpet fiber, the corner of Chelsea's steps, my socks (my fault for leaving them out). And when he was very quiet and I couldn't find him, I called him, only to find him right at my feet chewing on the strap of the clog I was wearing. He had quite a busy day, and now he's sleeping soundly at my feet under my desk, right where Doodlebug used to sleep and where Chelsea had been sleeping. She's cowering under the dining room chair in the corner.

Chelsea absolutely hates him. He's tiny and very quick, and he absolutely adores her. Whenever he catches sight of her (which isn't often because she stays very far away from him), he gets all quivery and waggy-tailed and darts toward her. She immediately jumps up on whatever surface is closest, which has made for some interesting moves this week. She ended up on my desk chair yesterday, and then fell off of it when it swiveled. She's been limping a little today and hesitant to jump, so now she's started barking her head off whenever Diego gets close. She truly doesn't like him, which surprises me a little, and disappoints me, too. I really wanted him to be fun for her as well as fun for me. Maybe one of these days she'll at least tolerate him and will forgive me for bringing him home. She hasn't slept with me since last Friday. She won't kiss me. She doesn't look at me if she can help it. And the only time I can pet her is when he's securely locked in his sleeping crate and far away from her. I knew he would rock her world, I just didn't realize he would devastate it.

Anyway, here are his vitals -- he was 10 weeks and a day old when he went to our vet for the first time. He had his first vaccination on Tuesday, and he weighs 1.8 pounds. Our vet was very impressed with his lines and thinks he could be a champion show dog. I'm not interested in showing him; nor am I interested in breeding him. He'll be neutered at the first available opportunity, although the vet wants to wait until all of his adult teeth are in so that he can pull any remaining puppy teeth if necessary. He doesn't want to have him under anesthesia any more than necessary because of his size. He'll top out at about 5 pounds when he's fully grown. He was also dewormed again, and I have a tiny heartworm pill to give him on the 10th of this month, provided he weighs 2 pounds by then. I can check his weight on my kitchen scale. We visited some of the apartment office staff yesterday, and he was exhausted by our outing. We've been staying inside because of his lack of immunity. I can't put him down outside until he has two more parvo/distemper shots. Because we live in an apartment complex that allows pets, there are quite a few dogs here and the vet is concerned that he'll pick up something from feces or vomit on the ground. There's plenty of both, even though we're supposed to clean up after out pets. I know, TMI.

I love him so much already. He's so very sweet, and so very mischievous, and so very comical -- everything I wanted in a puppy!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Diego is finally old enough to come home. Yay! He'll be ten weeks old on Monday, and his breeder says his mom's milk has dried up and he's eating solid food now. He weighs a whopping one pound (plus a few ounces). I'm a bit nervous about bringing home something so tiny. I had guinea pigs bigger than he is! And Chelsea, at 16 pounds, will look like a hulking giant next to him.

And I'm also sad. I tore Doodlebug's huge crate apart tonight to disinfect it and wash the blankets. I left it up after he died so that Chelsea had his scent to remember him by. I did pull out his bed and put it the chair where she sometimes sleeps. Hopefully she'll use it occasionally and think of him.

I shopped today for food, doggy litter, teeny tiny toys, a very little collar and a very small crate. Deigo will sleep there, and I'll put it inside Doodlebug's crate so that he has a secure corner for snoozing when I'm not home. Doodlebug's crate will serve as Diego's home for as long as he needs it. I won't let him have the run of my bedroom until he's reliably housetrained. Chelsea has potty pads in my bathroom, and Diego will have a litter box there, as well as the small one in his crate. He isn't vaccinated at all, and probably won't start getting shots until he gets a little larger, so he won't be able to go outside at all for quite some time.

Besides shopping at PetSmart, I stopped at the holistic pet boutique across the street from where I work. I was talking to the owner about getting Diego neutered relatively soon, and she was all over me about waiting until he was an adult. What's up with that? We have an appointment with my vet on Tuesday, and his word will be the final say. I'm all for early neutering/spaying, and can't see that it has hurt any of my dogs in any way. This woman was very annoying, and if she wasn't the only place in town to buy the food I want to feed him, then I would not go back. She totally poo-poo'ed the idea of training him to a litter box, and said she hadn't heard of it ever working. Of course she wanted me to buy the potty pads she sells there.

Anyway, there you have it. Excited, sad, anxious, annoyed. And tired! Night-night!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vote for Chelsea!

No, she isn't running for president, although she would be fair and just and a proponent of animal rights everywhere. Hurricane Katrina would have been handled much differently had she been in charge. I'm just sayin' ...

I've entered this photo in a contest at Bissell. The weekly prize is a new Pet Eraser Vacuum and a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 donated to the pet cause of our choice (along with Chelsea's photo on new product packaging). My current vacuum cleaner is over 10 years old, and on it's last leg (wheel?) -- although I'm very proud of the fact that the two times it has broken in the last year, I've been able to fix it myself!

Please vote this week, and only vote once. Duplicate votes will be disqualified. And if you'd send all your friends there to vote, too, we'd appreciate it! Here's the link:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Diego, Week Four

Here he is -- sitting up no less. Isn't he the wonder pup! The breeder has two puppies in this litter. She's keeping one -- also a male, and she's named him Ace. She said Ace has more attitutude, growling at her with his little puppy voice when she talks to him, although wagging his tail the entire time. Diego, on the other hand, licks her nose when she talks to him and looks at her adoringly. Just the type of puppy we need. Ace also happens to be just the type of puppy she needs, since she plans on showing him.
Since she's only an hour away, I asked about visiting. She said sure, but that I couldn't hold the puppies or bring Chelsea around them. I had planned on taking Chelsea, but leaving her in the car. Working in a vet's office for a while, I should have known that I couldn't hold Diego either, or get anywhere near his pen because of the possibility of transferring a virus to an unvaccinated pup. I didn't even think of it, although I should have. I don't think I'm going now, simply because I won't be able to resist the temptation to touch them, and it will be too hard not to pick Diego up and snuggle him a little. The breeder has promised to send photos frequently, so I guess I'll just have to be content with that until I can bring him home.

I think I'm going to send her a new, wrapped baby blanket that she can let Diego sleep in for a day or two (or a week) and then send back. I'd really like to get Chelsea familiar with his scent so that she recognizes it when he comes home. I'm sure she'll accept him -- I just want to make this whole thing as easy as possible on her.

I'm so excited!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Where does the time go? Seriously ...

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post! So much has happened -- a trip to California taken--a trip to Minnesota canceled, a new puppy waiting to come live here, socks finished, the flu from hell, learning about hand-dying yarn ... so where to start?

Well, we're learning how to get along without Doodlebug. We still miss him terribly. I find Chelsea in his crate frequently, and she's been pretty mopey sometimes. Because of that, I decided to buy us a puppy. This puppy needs to be a male and grow up smaller than her. A male usually won't challenge a female's alpha status -- I didn't want her "golden" years to be a constant battle for position. She's been the dominant dog for 13 years, and there's no point in messing with that. So I did a bunch of Internet research and book purchasing, and here's who is coming to live with us as soon as he's old enough: Meet Diego!

Diego is now 4 weeks old, and he's a long-hair Chihuahua who will mature at 4-5 pounds. He'll be with his mom and breeder until he's 10 weeks old, and will come live with us around the end of March, first part of April. His breeder is an hour and a bit north of here -- a nice spring drive for Chelsea and me. I've been trying to prepare her by talking about Diego, but of course she has no idea what's happening, and her little world is sure to be rocked hard by this little guy. I'm ultimately hoping that he'll bring some fun and activity into her life, and will watch them both closely to make sure she isn't freaked out by the whole thing. Here's the deal though, I have to get a new dog now, or soon. If something happens to Chelsea before I have another dog firmly planted in my heart, I'll be devasted at the loss of her and I'm afraid I'll never be able to love another dog. So this puppy is really for both of us. I'm not looking forward to puppy-proofing and housetraining, but it's all part of the process and we'll all get through it.

I know I preach rescue to everyone I know who is looking for a dog, and I've rescued my share of animals. This one time, though, I want to know what I'm getting. I needed to know that this puppy will be free of genetic health problems, and hopefully free of the allergies that have plagued Chelsea all of her life. I need to know that this puppy has a good personality from the get-go, and what size he'll be when he's full-grown. If I didn't have Chelsea's emotional well-being to be concerned with, I'd be the first one at the pound when it opened. But this one time, I'm getting a full-blooded breed.

California was great, and a blur. I got there on Thursday, and we started setting up our show booth early Friday afternoon. The weather was wonderful, and I have no photos besides booth set-up, and those are boring photos. Anaheim is always sunny and pleasant, and this trip was no exception. I got to have a great breakfast with my dear friend Margot, the Impatient Beader (and Blogger -- -- go check her out, I'll wait). And then I had dinner with my dear friend Tanya on Sunday and my dear friend Barb on Monday, both with DRG Publishing. I had about 10 minutes with Laura, and was sad that while we only live 3 hours from each other, we haven't been able to get together here in the two years we've both lived in NC. While I don't miss northeastern Indiana or my old job, I do miss my friends very much, and it was wonderful to have the chance to visit with them. I flew home on Tuesday, and was home in time to rescue Chelsea from prison, which is very unusual and both of us were thankful.

I was supposed to go to the Knit Out at the Mall of America in Minnesota this past weekend, but I brought a visitor back from California with me -- a flu bug, and it bit me hard on Thursday afternoon with a sore throat and earache. Friday morning brought chills and fever, along with a dry cough, aches and intense fatigue. I hated missing this show -- it was the first consumer show that I've been totally responsible for, but as Friday wore on, I knew I wouldn't be able to go. I gave my supervisor a long list of instructions, and hopefully everything was fine. I told him to call if they needed anything, and I didn't hear from anyone so I'm assuming all was well. I'll find out later this week, I'm sure. I'm home again today -- I'm still achy and tired, and now my head is all congested, but at least the fever, sore throat and earache have subsided. I'll go into work tomorrow, and possibly come home early if I get too tired. This stuff is nothing to mess with!

So I've been wanting for a very long time to hand dye my own yarn. Last month I ordered and received nine skeins of naked superwash merino/nylon sock yarn from Knit Picks (,+Nylon_YD5420145.html -- sorry, I don't know how to do hot links), and I have two books that I've been reading and rereading on dying yarn. I don't want to buy new pots to dedicate to harsh fabric dyes, so I'm going to be using food coloring and vinegar. I'm good to go with the technique, I think; now I just need to wind the yarn into 40-foot skeins so that I can start painting. And buy food coloring, but I'm pretty sure Michaels carries Wilton paste food coloring, and that's what I'm going to start out with. Maybe that will be my project for this weekend. Carmela (my youngest granddaughter) loves purple, and I can't find yarn in just the right color and print that I want for her, so I'm going to experiment with small amounts of yarn first. I can get a pair of socks for her out of a 50-gram ball of yarn. I'm very excited about this!

And on the finished object front, I have another pair of socks finished for Carmela, a single for her finished (with the second sock not yet cast on -- please pray for me, I have a textbook case of Second Sock Syndrome), a single for her almost finished (in a different color from previous single, of course), and a sock and a half finished for Lily, my oldest granddaughter. Getting the flu has been good for something -- I've had forced knitting time because I sure don't feel like doing anything else! I need batteries for my camera -- I'll post photos later this week. And hopefully I'll have an updated photo of Diego from the breeder later this week. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Here be angels ...

In the two, almost three, weeks since Doodlebug died, I've had two interesting experiences. The first was a few Sundays ago. I was sitting in my chair in the living room, peacefully knitting a sock for my youngest granddaughter. That particular Sunday was a sunny day, and since my windows face south, I had the blinds closed to block out some of the glare. Something caught my eye and I glanced up to see a play of shadow and light on the ceiling. The precise angle of the blinds and the position of the sun, along with the way the breeze was blowing the tall bushes outside the window—all of these things combined to make the word "Hapy" out of light and shadow on my ceiling. I wanted to get my camera, but I was totally enchanted with this phenomenon, and I couldn't move. After a few minutes, the sun moved slightly and the word blurred and faded away. I found that I had tears running down my face. Even thought the word wasn't spelled correctly, I knew what it was and it made me happy in the core of my being.

The second experience was a week ago on the way to work. One of the roads I take runs next to a school, and there are five speed bumps along the way with a speed limit of 25. You have to drive slowly on this road. As I neared the end of it and was driving over the last speed bump, I saw a beautiful brown/tan husky walking on the sidewalk next to the road. I slowed down to a crawl, because you just never know what an unleashed dog will do. As it turns out, the dog came over to my car, put his/her paws up on the passenger door and smiled at me through the window—smiling in the way only a husky can do. He/she delicately dropped back down the grown and proceeded across the street in front of the cars stopped in the other direction.

I'd like to think Doodlebug had something to do with both of these incidents. The breed of dog that smiled at me is totally significant because when we first moved to Indiana, Doodlebug wiggled out of his collar on one of our walks and instigated a fight with a husky. The husky ended up picking him up and tossing him aside (he was fine), and this was the first of many times he tried to pick a fight with a much larger dog. One of those fights was with my brother's Rottweilers, and Chelsea, even though she had nothing to do with starting the fight and tried in vain to hide behind the couch, ended up being the one who had to be rushed to the emergency room.

Along with letting me know he's happy, maybe he's also trying to tell me that he gets along with the big dogs now and that my brother's Rotties (three of which went before him to the Bridge) are now his friends ...

Friday, January 18, 2008

A bad month for pets at my house ...

I have a little dutch blue lovebird that I raised from a tiny one-week old chick. I named him Sailor because my son was in the navy at the time and he became a very beloved part of my little family of pets -- one of the pack, if you will. He loved to bark with Chelsea.

Sadly, Sailor died yesterday morning. He would have been 12 in March, so he lived a wonderfully long life for a bird. He greeted every morning with enthusiastic chirps and squawks, and he was a happy little bird. In typical lovebird fashion, he had a peacock feather that was well-loved, and he'd love that feather at the most inopportune times, especially when I had dinner guests. He'd eat eggs from my plate, which I always thought was weirdly cannibalistic in a bird sort of way. He loved to hide under my hair when it was long. His favorite busy-bird activity was perforating paper -- he'd punch holes in paper towels, newspapers, but his favorite was crisp cardstock. I was his mom when he was a baby, and then his best girl when he grew older. He'd threaten the dogs when he was out and they came too close to me, and Chelsea has a scar on her nose as a result of being bitten by him.

Sailor has been cranky in an old bird kind of way for several years now and hasn't wanted to come out of his cage in a very long time. He was still warm when I found him, so I knew he hadn't been gone long. I cuddled him in a way that I haven't been able to for years, and I shed many tears over him yesterday morning. Coming on the heels of losing Doodlebug a few weeks ago, it was almost a little bit too much to bear.

My house is very silent now, and at some point I probably will get another bird to fill the void. It won't ever be able to take Sailor's place, though. Like Doodlebug, Sailor's personality, heart and soul were much, much larger than life.

I hope he and Doodlebug have found each other. And that he doesn't bite his nose ...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Doodlebug, a Tribute

This is going to be long, but I just have to write a little more about him, and then I think I can move on. I just came back from the pet store, and while I'd never buy a puppy from there, I did find myself thinking about what having one of them would be like, and how it would up-end my life and Chelsea's. And then I got really sad, bought what I needed for the fish, also bought a little clip-on bejeweled bone for Chelsea's skull collar and left.

Doodlebug came into my life about 12 years ago. I was working at a vet's office at the time, and a woman brought him in with a cocker spaniel she found in the woods. They were traveling together, and they were extremely shy and hesitant to come near her. She said it took about two weeks to gain their confidence. All of us at the vet's office seemed to remember an ad in the paper seeking two dogs that had run off, but none of us could find it when we looked; even the paper couldn't find it when we called them. Hard to believe we all dreamed up the same ad ...

Anyway, I took it all as a sign that he was supposed to come live with us. One of the vets in the office neutered him, clipped off his dew claws, and he came home to live with us (us being my ex-husband, Chelsea, our big dog Deogee, the bird, and various guinea pigs). He was supposed to be my ex's dog, but he took to me and remained my dog to the end. The vet thought he was about 5 years old, but admitted it's hard to tell with an adult dog -- he could have been a year or two younger or older. We didn't have to go through teething and chewing, and he was pretty much housetrained. He was very protective of me (the Chihuahua in him) and frequently growled at my ex when he tried to come to bed at night. He sure knew better than me in that regard ...

Doodlebug traveled with Chelsea and me on our adventure moving to Indiana (the first time I've ever lived alone), and then moving to NC to take this job two years ago. As long as he could see me, he didn't care much where we lived. His second great love was Chelsea, but she never seemed to care for him at all. She never was much for other dogs -- I think she thinks she's a short person in a fur coat. Doodlebug was content to be the Omega dog in our little pack, and it greatly upset him if I slipped up and put his collar on first, or gave him a treat before Chelsea had one or fed him first. He was happiest going last in everything. Dogs are cool that way.

While Chelsea has suffered all her life with various skin allergies and ear infections, Doodlebug was hardly ever sick. He had cortisone shots once when all three dogs were stung several times by ground hornets. He'd get the occasional case of diarrhea when he ate too many dried worms off the sidewalk. I think he had a sore throat once -- he seemed to have difficulty swallowing for a few days, but it went away with no medication. And the first time he received a bordatella vaccination, he coughed for a week. Other than that, he had no problems until this past January.

A routine geriatric blood panel revealed Doodlebug had elevated liver enzymes. The vet watched him carefully and tested his blood on a regular basis. At one point he suggested a sonogram to see if he had a tumor on his adrenal glands. He did not. The vet suspected Cushings disease, and Doodlebug's later symptoms confirmed that diagnosis. Because of his age (close to 17 years old), we opted not to treat the Cushings. The cure would have been worse than the disease. This is a disease that many old dogs get, and the medication is a chemotherapy drug that shrinks the tumor that causes the disease. We opted to let Doodlebug live as long as he was happy and pain-free. He was all of that until the day he died. The Cushings symptoms included excessive drinking and the resultant excessive pottying, but potty pads and confining him during the day took care of that. And the occasional accident in the living room was taken care of by regular carpet cleanings. I could never have put him to sleep because he pottied in the house.

Doodlebug was a typical boy. He loved playing in puddles and getting dirty. He loved sniffing bugs. When we were in the car and a truck drove by, he'd put his paws up in the window to watch it go past. He taught my big dog to howl, and although they had a great time howling when they were together, when Deogee went to live with my stepson, Doodlebug never howled again. When he barked, it sounded like he was saying "out, out!" He loved getting baths, although he did not like getting his fur trimmed -- scissors scared him and I always had to figure out ways to distract him when I wanted to trim the fur on his face. He was a favorite at the kennel here; I boarded him and Chelsea about 8 times a year. The only time he ever boarded alone was when Chelsea had ear surgery. I scheduled it to coincide with a business trip and she was at one vet's office recuperating while he boarded at his regular kennel. I don't know if he was happier to see me or her, but the day they both came home was a day of great joy for all three of us.

To sum it all up, joy is what Doodlebug brought me on a daily basis. His little eyes would light up whenever I came home, and even thought he couldn't hear what I was saying at the end, he'd still look at me as if I was making grand pronouncements that would end world hunger or save all the children. He loved me like no one else ever has, except Chelsea. He's the one who'd kiss away my tears when I cried, or laugh along with me. He was fearless -- attacking big dogs who could easily tear him apart when he thought Chelsea or I was in danger. He wasn't afraid of thunder or fireworks, and he'd sit with me on the glider to watch it storm while Chelsea cowered under the bed. He missed me like nothing else -- whether I was gone 5 days or 5 minutes, and he wasn't ashamed or embarassed to let me know how glad he was to see me again. He was worth every minute of work that having an extra dog caused, and if I had to do it all over, I'd go through it all again, including the pain of losing him at the end -- he was worth every nanosecond of it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Doodlebug's Last Road Trip

We had a great time at Christmas. I finished a few presents, and let go of hoping I'd get the others done -- what a relief. Why in the world do we we put so much stress on ourselves? Everyone was happy with their gifts, and I was really excited about mine. I received a Nintendo DS, and I've already bought several games to play. I love this game system -- I can play it anywhere, and the games I bought are variations of old favorites.

The dogs had a great time. They were fed much and much loved. We traveled home on Saturday, spent Sunday resting, and then Doodlebug passed away on Monday morning. I'm in shock still -- it just doesn't seem real.

I woke up at 5:00 Monday morning and petted him. He wagged his tail and licked my hand. I told him we could go back to sleep since I didn't have to work. At 7:00 when I woke again, he was sitting on the floor beside the bed. I immediately got up and got dressed, but when I walked over to him I noticed that something was really wrong. He tried valiantly to get to me, but his entire back end was paralyzed. I wrapped him up and rushed him to the vet. He was gone before 8:00. I don't think he suffered -- the vet said he couldn't feel anything. At that point his heart was beating erratically and his breathing was labored. His heart stopped the instant the vet put the needle with the euthanasia drug into his vein -- he took two more breaths and then he left me. I tried to comfort him -- I hope he wasn't afraid.

Doodlebug was the best little dog. I always say that Chelsea is my heart, and she is -- but Doodlebug was the love of my life. He was always there for me, and he very seldom let me out of his sight. During the last few months, I started moving his little steps from room to room so that he could join me in the chair or on the sofa. We took the steps with us on our last trip, and he slept next to my youngest granddaughter. He wore sweaters constantly the last several weeks because he was always cold, and they were sweaters I knit for him. He seemed to love them, and he looked very dapper in them. He didn't make much noise and didn't take up much room, but there's a very large presence missing in my house. His heart and soul were larger than life, and his passing leaves us empty and sad. I took Chelsea with us to the vet -- partly to hold me together on the drive there and back (I knew in my heart I'd be leaving him there), but mostly so that she had the chance to see him and smell him and know that he was gone, which she did. She grieved very hard for a few days, and is just now starting to eat and drink normally and be interested in going outside again. She's taken to lying in his spot on the bed and under my desk. I haven't been able to fold down his crate and put it away, and I found her inside it the other day, sleeping in his bed. He was always underfoot in the kitchen, hoping for crumbs to fall from the counter. I find myself still looking down before I move -- still trying to avoid stepping on him.

They say rescued dogs are grateful every day for the person who took them in. I was so thankful every day to have him in my live. I'll miss him for a very, very long time.