Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Year Ago Today

I remember exactly what I was doing on December 14 last year. That morning, my tombstone was delivered and I watched the deliverymen set it in the corner of my family cemetery. That afternoon, I bought Maggie.

I bought the tombstone because— at 60—I realized the end was in sight and, childless and siblingless, I knew I needed to take care of such matters myself. Better not wait until the last minute. My husband has lousy taste. If he outlived me, goodness knows what he’d get. Plus Rhonda down at Add A Touch Monuments was running a special in late November. I saved 5% by buying while she had her sale.

Watching them set the stone was kind of cool, and I’m not talking about the weather, which indeed was a bit nippy. My final place was now marked; whoever handles my, uh, arrangements will know exactly where I go—no quibbling or guessing about what I’d have wanted. I’ll be in the corner, by the lilac that I like so much. The forsythia is behind the tombstone.

At 60, I was probably crazy to buy a high energy dog, but I can’t imagine life without a border collie. I’d gone border collie-less for a year after Abby died on December 21, 2004, and none of the other four dogs in my kennel came close to filling her pawprints. Border collies ruin you for ordinary dogs.

I’d made an appointment to look at a pup on a farm the other side of Bedford. Because my poet friend Jean lived about three miles from where the border collies were, I stopped at her house and picked her up to go with me.

Out of Bedford, we turned off Route 43 and traveled through farmland. When I turned in the driveway, a dog who looked exactly like Abby ran toward the car to greet me. I opened the door and the dog, happy and wagging, flung herself at me as if she knew me. She was Daisy, the mama dog. After seeing her, I really wanted a puppy of hers.

In the house were several cuddly black and white creatures. The first born and the biggest was the only available female pup. The other female had been sold. It was either this one or one of the male pups, and I really wanted a female. I already had the name: Maggie. I sat on the living room floor and held the puppy. Was this going to be Maggie? Before I’d written the check, the phone rang. The caller wanted a female pup. “Have you made up your mind?” the owner called to me from the kitchen. “I’ll take her,” I said and reached for my checkbook.

We bade goodbye to Daisy, the other puppies, and to Maggie’s older sister Sadie and her older brother Shep. Maggie rode on her godmother Jean’s lap as far as Jean’s house. Then Jean whisked Maggie inside to show her husband, Irv. By the time I got inside, both of them were cuddling my puppy.

After we left Jean’s. Maggie rode in her crate. She only whimpered once. Of course, she had her little towel with her mother’s scent on it. Maybe that helped.

That night, I expected to be kept awake by cries, whines, whimpers, and other assorted unhappy puppy noise. Nope, six-week-old Maggie slept through the night. And every night thereafter, even though Dylan eventually peed on her towel and I had to wash Daisy’s scent off it.

I expected plenty of puppy teeth marks on the furniture, but Maggie never chewed up anything that wasn’t hers. She’s been the easiest puppy we’ve ever raised.

Well, except for her attitude.

Maggie has a mind of her own. We dropped out of dog school. I don’t have good stamina and I couldn’t walk fast enough or long enough to keep up with her in class—plus she was determined to never learn to heel. She obeys about half the commands I give her now if she can see the logic in them, and exhibits pretty good sense when she chooses to disobey. But that’s how border collies are.

So, I remember December 14, 2005: preparing for death; choosing life.

1 Comments:

Blogger CountryDew said...

That's quite an entry!

2:20 PM  

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