I’m so glad she was born. SO glad.

At first, she looked like this…

I’ve recounted the story of how FTH Oopsie Daisy/Daisy/Daisy Duke/Daisy Mae/Mae/Mei Mei/Princess came into our lives.  You have undoubtedly heard me brag about how she was named by the community of greyhound freaks over at GreyTalk, how she lived on her Mama Caffie’s kitchen floor until she was old enough to go outside in the puppy runs, and how my entire family on my mother’s side once gathered around the computer to watch her come in spectacularly, amazingly, and fabulously dead last in one of her attempts to break maiden at JAX.

(For those not versed in Racing Vocab, that means she has to win a maiden race to get to run with the big dogs.  She didn’t do that at JAX but did at Sanford Orlando, where she got up to Grade A.  I’m sure you’ve heard THAT story before as well, so I’ll move on.)

Then, this happened…

What you haven’t heard from me lately is that Daisy is nine years old this week (there is a running debate about the Leelo Babies Birthdate so I celebrate 12-14 August to cover all my bases…and because I love her too much for only one day).  Nine.Years.Old.  It has been almost a decade since I watched via text on GreyTalk that she had been born, almost a decade of knowing about her and waiting for her and loving her.

I know, everyone moons over their dogs like they are the only ones that have that sort of relationship.  I know that I am not the only one that loves my dog.  But y’all, my Mei Mei is special.

She came home to me and Simon at the tender age of 2.75, in March of 2007.  Me and Simon weren’t even a Me and Simon at that point, not officially, but he was Daisy’s Dah-dee from the start.  She never had trouble understanding him like the other dogs did, and would look up at him with the most adoring expression as he talked to her, as though trying to understand every syllable that came out of his mouth.  She still does that.  With him.  With me if I prattle on too long she licks me to shut me up.

She came into a family of old dogs.  Hunky was 10 when Daisy came home, going on 11, and Jeany would turn 10 the next month.  They were still reeling from the loss of Profile, who was the clear pack leader, and were none too thrilled to have this young and bouncy dog around.  So she adapted to them, not the other way around.  She would defer to them in all things, and became a comfort to both of them as they got older.  She also took their Mommy’s focus for awhile, so that they could sit around and love each other and not be bothered by my constant fussing and attention seeking.

After Jeany fell down the stairs in Keighley, Simon kept finding Daisy curled up next to her.  She could have been out exploring her new home, terrorizing the cat, or doing a host of other doggie things, but instead she decided to make sure Jeany was comforted.  I think Jeany actually liked it.  After we lost Jeany, Daisy was forever snuggling up to Hunky, even when he wet his bed, and I’m not sure if it was to comfort him over the loss of Jeany or herownself.  Daisy falls hard in love, and when she loves you, you know it.  She loved her big brother and sister with a fierceness that I wish more people could possess.

And now, all she has to do is this and I’m a goner. 

Now she’s back in that position again, after two years in the UK of being the only dog, getting all the attention, and generally living like the Princess she is.  With Clowny’s injury and subsequent paralysis, Daisy has to navigate a world where her people are either ignoring her or telling her to be careful, don’t stand on Clowny, let him finish eating before you dive into his bowl, etc.  She could turn into a spoiled brat, acting out because she isn’t getting the attention she’s used to, taking her frustration out on Clowny who is, to be fair, the easiest of targets right now.

But she doesn’t.  My precious baby girl, my Daisy Mei Mei backs up when we ask, she waits to be allowed to clean up the food Clowny leaves behind, she snuggles on the bed with him at night until he grouses at her to move.  She takes her toys elsewhere and plays on her own, tossing George, her stuffed monkey, up in the air over and over until someone notices.  She follows me down the hall when I just need to go cry about Clowny a little without letting him see me do it and licks my tears off my face.

Today (and the two days prior) are more than a celebration of her birthday.  Today is a reminder that through some twist of fate, I was given the gift of Daisy.  Love you to absolute bits, my babygirl, to the moon and back.   I don’t know what your Daddy and I would have done this summer without you.  Thanks is not enough, not by a longshot.

“You’re my back bone.
You’re my cornerstone.
You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.
You’re my head start.
You’re my rugged heart.
You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum my heart never stops beating…
For you, for you.”

(from Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips)

You Days of Our Lives Jinxed It, Didn’t You?

Mommy, did you say GO? by Nancy Dunne
Mommy, did you say GO?, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

If you are not familiar with the Days of Our Lives Jinx phenomenon, let me briefly explain. I watched Days from the time I was in pre-school until about four years ago, so I consider myself somewhat of a home-grown expert on soap opera plot construction, at least for American soaps. I also should mention that I just did the math on that, and I spent an incredibly HUGE chunk of my life in the fictional town of Salem…and I’m not sure whether I’m impressed by my own loyalty or horrified that I’ve just admitted that in public.

Right, so on to the Jinx: You can always tell on Days that a major plot twist is coming when a character utters something in terms of absolutes. I’ll give you an example. “Nothing can ever come between us again!” is the signal that the third member of the love triangle is about to arrive in town. “Your prognosis is beyond excellent and I’m sending you home today!” means that this character will be in hospice by the holidays. That sort of thing is the Jinx, and I have a hard time avoiding it in my real, non-soap life.

I seem to have done it again, on a grand scale. Remember that post before, about how we had sold our house? The buyer backed out. So, all of that “we are on the path to happiness” business of last week is now replaced with “hello, Square One, fancy meeting you here, AGAIN.”

I chose today’s picture because it’s a visual reminder of the Days of Our Lives Jinx which is loosely related to the adage about counting chickens too early…and because it’s my Hunky Man, whom I miss desperately. Ugh. I need a do-over.

Week Nine Update

This past Saturday my sisters in law Louise and Sarah threw a wonderful reception for me and Simon here in the UK. It was a bit overwhelming, in that there were lots of new faces there to meet, but it was also wonderful to be so accepted into not only my husband’s family but his circle of friends as well. Cheers all around, y’all! One thing I especially loved was the food on the buffet. The only thing missing, seriously, was Yorkshire pudding. Pork pies, mini scotch eggs/egg biters, bread and butter, and trifle. I love that it was very representative not only of England but of the particular part of the country where we live.

I had some doubts earlier this week about my place in this country and specifically in Yorkshire when the European election results came in, but I’ve had a good think about it since and I’ve decided that I love where I live. The people around me are real, genuine even to a fault, and they have all been so very nice to me. Also, if I understand the results correctly, there were two specific parts of “Yorkshire and theHumber” that had a large hand in voting in the British National Party and neither of them was Keighley . I was guilty of doing the same thing that I find annoying in others…painting an entire area with the same brush instead of seeing the individual parts that make up the whole. There are a lot of very progressive, intelligent, forward-thinking people in Yorkshire, just like there are everywhere. Sadly, there are also closed-minded, xenophobic people everywhere too.

The big news of the week, though, is that yesterday I took my first solo train trip yesterday. Although it was only to Bradford, it was all by myself and to a station I’ve only been to once prior. I popped over to go to a fantastic pet shop that Simon and I visited on my first trip over in 2007 so that I could get some nail trimming implements of doom for the cat. You’d think that I spent the entire trip berating myself for not doing it sooner, for being unnecessarily cautious, but I didn’t. Instead I thoroughly enjoyed my new found freedom (and talked on twitter/posted pics to twitpic till I killed the battery in my phone) and made the entire journey in just over two hours. I can’t say that I could have done that faster with a car.

I’ve applied for a job and for a BSL course at a college in Leeds…in two weeks I’ll be visiting home…Daisy and Mills seem healthy and happy….dare I say all feels right? I still miss Hunky more than I can put into words…his loss makes Jeany’s absence more acute and more bearable, all at the same time. But we’re moving on; books to write, Yorkshire to explore.

I’m resolving to do better with the blog too…weekly updates on Wednesdays at the least. Hang in there, Lettuce Readers, the blog is heading back to normal, whatever that is for me anyway.

Faith 0, Humanity 2

So the dogs and I went out for a meet and greet at a local pet store yesterday, right? While we were there, Hunky had an appointment to get groomed in the hopes that a professional could get the extra hair out of his coat that is currently covering my furniture and kicking up my allergies.

Our appointment was at 1:45. I brought his rabies certificate in as requested, discussed with the groomer what I needed done and what I didn’t need done, and left him in their care. I was concerned, as I always am when I leave my animals with people I don’t know…and to make it worse, they were adamant that if he was on the grooming table I should make sure he couldn’t see me. They seemed concerned that he would get very excited when he saw me and try to jump off the table. I mentioned that he couldn’t see that far or through a glass window anymore anyway, but I don’t think she believed me.

Back to the meet and greet…Daisy was anxiously waiting for me and Jeany looked like she was miserable. Status Quo. We met and we greeted (how tempted was I just now to type “gret?”) and all was well until a strange little man with a little too much bling on his hands and an aversion to looking any of us in the eye approached the table. It seems that he was a representative of an invisible fence company, and wanted to try and convince us that an invisible fence was the only way to go if you love your animals.

I’m going to take a second, dear readers, and mention that if you (or someone you love) has an invisible fence and you (or that special someone) can sleep at night knowing that you’ve strapped an electrode to your dog that would make you almost wet your pants were you to hold it in your hand and approach the perimeter, or that while your dog can’t leave the yard without a zap the other neighborhood dogs who are irresponsibly left to run loose can enter your yard and harass your dog at will, or, even better, that if your dog is a greyhound that can be at full speed in three strides so you’re basically playing Russian roulette with his or her life that he or she will be moving so fast through the perimeter that the only pain he or she will feel is when he or she is struck by a car outside of the perimeter of that bloody stupid invisible fence…then have at it. But never, ever let it be said that someone doesn’t know my opinion on invisible fences…and that my opinion on the fence colors how I feel about someone who would leave their “beloved” pet behind one, waiting to get shocked.

Whew! Okay, so back to yesterday. Fence Man tries everything that he can to convince us that as a group we are mistreating our hounds because our group does not adopt to people that use invisible fences for containing their animals.

Let me say that again…we do not support invisible fences. I’m sure we all said it numerous times yesterday…so one wonders why Fence Man continued to try to sell it to us?

Fence Man made outrageous claims, our favorite being that he could personally guarantee that the fence would work for each of our hounds. Is that right? You can guarantee that my dog, who, by the way, can be at 40 mph in three strides from a standing position, will be contained in your fence? Is that because you ramp up the voltage to get my dog’s attention? Is that really a selling point? Oh no, he assured us, it’s because he personally trains the dogs and the owners on the proper use of the fence. It’s a week long training.

Seems to me it would take about five minutes. Put electrode on dog. Take dog to perimeter. Watch dog writhe in agony. Take dog away from perimeter. Watch dog go back in house and never ever leave again. All done! Dog contained.

My argument about the dog being at 40mph in three strides was the only one that he didn’t have an answer for, by the way. We told him they will ignore it if their prey drive kicks in and they take off after something. He countered that his training would break them of that habit. Habit? Um, sorry Fence Man, that’s actually thousands of years of instinct. We told him about the other animals being free to wander in and out of the yard. He countered that under controlled situations that was never a problem. I’m sorry, isn’t the reason for this torture device so that it will control the situation and I don’t have to lift a finger?

Finally Fence Man was reduced to lying. Outright lying. He told us that he worked with “that big group in Greensboro, NC” and that he had personally trained lots of their greyhounds with the fencing and that “they totally support me and what I do.” He then wanted to know what was wrong with our group. Now there are two fairly large adoption groups in Greensboro and I am about 95% sure that neither of them would support this kind of “fencing” for their hounds they adopt out. When we confronted him with his lie, he resorted back to insulting us. “I can’t believe you don’t really love these dogs.” “It’s just ridiculous that your group wouldn’t take advantage of a free offer to show you how well this fencing will work for your dogs.” He finally left after saying the bit about the free offer again and being told that our group did not support his fencing, but if he wanted to talk to the group’s director that he was welcome to do so.

Oh, and on the way out, we saw him with a nice 40lb bag of total crap dog food that he was taking home to feed his beloved dog that was probably bald around the neck from being zapped when it tried to escape.

Well, okay, but it was Beneful dog food. That part is true.

After all that ruckus things settled down and I waited for them to bring my handsome and no longer shedding boy out to finish him up so that I could show him off to everyone and not drop enough fur to make a new dog in the process. No Hunky. Dropped off at 1:45 and it was now past 3pm. She had told me it would take about 3 hours to do a groom on him which I thought was suspicious because it doesn’t take me that long when I’m chasing him around the yard with a hose trying to wash off the soap! But I digress. One of the other ladies went in and asked after him, to be told that he was in the back drying off and then he’d be done.

What? In the back drying off? Isn’t that why they have those drying machines, so that my dog doesn’t have to drip dry? Unless they put him under a dryer like my mother used to sit under when I’d go to the beauty shop with her, they let my dog drip dry because I watched the girls that were working…working on other dogs. I ran to the toilet and when I came back, one of the ladies at the table was holding my Hunky, my gorgeous…fluffy…slighly damp Hunky. Hunky was fluffy with visible loose fur in his coat and still damp in spots almost three hours after I left him with these people.

Oh, and let’s talk about the “fragrance” they left on my dog. On second thought, let’s not, it made my head pound just riding in the car with him on the way home yesterday. Thank goodness he loves his dog bed that has cedar in it.

Apparently when I didn’t want them to do his teeth or toenails (teeth don’t need it and he hates them to be brushed and his toenails are always potentially ready to shatter) I also excluded him from a certain package of service that includes de-shedding treatment of some sort. Hunky got brushed (I’m still not certain of that), bathed, “fragranced” (he smelled like a man on the pull, all he needed was a gold chain and some Colt 45) and was so happy to see me I thought my heart would break.

I have to admit here, dear readers, that I might have done something I shouldn’t have. I went in to get Hunky’s rabies certificate back because without that we don’t get into England in January and there was no one at the desk. I’m sure that they have to keep it on file, so I hope they had already xeroxed it because I snatched it and headed back out the door.

My poor boy. My poor nerves. I was literally (Susan? LITERALLY!) shaking by the time I got home. And I will never, EVER subject any of my dogs to that again unless the groomer is someone I know personally that I know will not make my Hunky into Leon Phelps. Seriously. That is disgusting.

Welcome to my Forehead.



What?
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen

So much going on…so little brain cells to cope with it all…

This is pretty much how I look most days. Note the furrowed brow and the raised eyebrows. There is something to be said for adrenaline, because I think that’s all I’m running on these days.

The wedding has to be planned. Three of the four members of the wedding party that aren’t the bride and groom live across an ocean.

Oh yeah, speaking of that ocean, I have to move across it in about nine months. Before that, though, I have to move down the street here in Greenville, and then into my grandmother’s house in Georgia.

It’s enough to make you crazy. Oh, speaking of that, work is more often than not a headache. The joys of working a government job and supervising people that are not in the same physical area you are in…it just never seems to end.

Speaking of ends, I’m watching Hunky’s carefully. He had a “boo boo tummy” last Thursday and Friday which kept us home from the Renn Fest in Georgia. Since Friday there’s been no movement on that front, literally…well, until Daisy got sick for two hours straight on the rug next to my bed.

Note the eyes in the photo…that’s called tired, boys and girls. Tired.

Hello from Falls Park!


Hello from Falls Park!
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen

Just today I remembered why I love Greenville, and why when I was in Alabama last year I longed to get back to the Upstate. Before my friend Leah went back home, we took all of our dogs out to the Reedy River Falls Park for a walk and it was just so gorgeous and tranquil…in the heart of downtown with its bustle is this oasis, and I love it. Late New Year’s Res…go to Falls Park with the kids at least once a week!!