Goodbye Eddie (2011-20)

IMG_0099Today the wind is roaring like a March lion, but yesterday — Super Tuesday — was a day when the sun smiled on Cambridge, drawing people out to vote and to walk around Fresh Pond Reservation without needing winter coats. Those out walking and jogging with and without dogs had an extra spring in their stride, as if the sun had momentarily melted their anxieties over the future of our democracy, the state of the economy, and the spread of a global pandemic. New England can be counted on to test our mettle with a series of false springs, and politically Super Tuesday was no exception for our hometown presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. The day began triumphantly with the sun warming hundreds of cheering supporters who turned out to greet her at her polling place, but it ended by delivering a blast of winter in the chilly election returns from outside of Cambridge and its ring of liberal cities (Somerville, Watertown, Arlington and Belmont). 

I will remember this Super Tuesday not for its unexpected sunshine or for Joe Biden’s surprising comeback, but as the day my husband and I woke to find that our dog Eddie had died beside our bed. We don’t know the cause; he had begun to seem disoriented and unwell as we went to bed, but we had no reason to think that whatever it was that ailed him would prove fatal by early morning. Born on Tax Day 2011, Eddie was almost nine, and his sudden exit from our lives leaves us sad, confused and lonely.

IMG_0218So much about Eddie will always be a mystery. He was not one of those uncomplicated dogs like Senator Warren’s Bailey that you can take anywhere and trust to be friendly. Photogenic as Eddie was (I lovingly documented his early cuteness on this blog), he grew up to become a “reactive” dog who was nervous around strangers and other dogs to the point where I could no longer take him to a dog park. I gave up trying to bring him on my walks at Fresh Pond once he started to refuse to even go in that direction. He set clear boundaries for our walks, but he never explained his reasons.

For Eddie, the best defense was a good offense. His bark was his warning to keep your distance, and outside he barked indiscriminately at people of all ages with and without dogs. He lunged at construction trucks, school buses and even bikes that passed too close; if I’d lost grip of his leash he’d have been run over any number of times. He barked when the doorbell rang, but once a visitor had been welcomed by a family member he settled down and sweetly accepted their pats. Mornings, he was a curly-haired lamb who snuggled with our cat in their favorite sunspot on the sofa. Evenings, he waited to eat his dinner until I was home so we could enact our ritual of me chopping some raw carrots to sprinkle on top of his food. Outside, he was hyper-vigilant, growling at holiday decorations and giving a wide berth to random objects left curbside on trash day. Indoors, he spent a good part of his time under the dining table chewing on bones, toys and and cat food cans that he pilfered from the recycling bin when we forgot to place it out of his reach. He only responded to “drop it” with the offer of a treat, and some days he even demanded a treat before he would go out for a walk. (I know, I know…he had us wrapped around his little paw.)

IMG_0061We Cantabrigians joke that we live in a bubble. Nationally Super Tuesday’s results left little doubt of that, and by the end of the day there few smiles among Warren’s many local supporters. The bubble had burst. If it were up to Eddie, our bubble would be hermetically sealed, a world populated only by family, a few of our close friends, and the handful of “nature dogs” he spent time with on group walks with his beloved Kip. Our neighborhood streets and sidewalks would be his alone to explore, so he could finally let his guard down without the constant threat of another dog approaching or a truck grinding its gears. The weather inside Eddie’s bubble would alternate between full sun and fresh snow, with no windy or rainy days. The yard in his bubble would feature a private swimming hole and a mud pit for wallowing on hot days. In his bubble there would be no thunderstorms or fireworks, and the newspapers and mail would be delivered silently. The front porch would be off limits to door-knocking candidates and unsolicited vendors. Every day would be Thanksgiving or Christmas because he was happiest when our entire family was gathered under one roof. We will miss him the next time we are all together and on the too-quiet days between.

A bubble wouldn’t have made Eddie immortal, and we know it’s risky to retreat into bubbles in a world that demands even greater connection and cooperation. Dogs can help pull us out of ourselves. Maybe what Eddie really needed was a dog of his own.


Eddie’s Excellent Adventure

I was stunned to get a call from the Cambridge Police last week, informing me my itchy homebody of a dog was loose on a city street about three miles from my house.

Under the table is Eddie's favorite spot. Sometimes he has company.
Under the table is Eddie’s favorite spot. Sometimes he has company.

For the past several months my dog, Eddie, has been hunkered down under our dining room table, afraid to venture out into the maws of the Huron Village Big Dig. I have to bribe him to leave the house, and half the time he drags me back inside once we get to the end of the driveway, and he hears, smells, and sees all the construction activity. You’ve heard the expression, “That dog won’t hunt.”? Well, mine won’t walk. On top of his construction phobia, Eddie has been suffering from severe dermatological problems since last fall, so he wears a Thundershirt 24/7 to control his nervous scratching. Sadly, my hypoallergenic cockapoo is, himself, plagued with allergies.

So, I was stunned to get a call from the Cambridge Police last week, informing me that my itchy homebody of a dog was loose on a city street about three miles from my house. Continue reading “Eddie’s Excellent Adventure”

Teaching Kids “Dog Literacy”

Just as important as making sure your dog can be trusted around babies and children is teaching your children how to interact safely with dogs. Cambridge’s Adria Karlsson of Click ‘n’ Treat offers training services geared to families with children.

dog & baby together
Babies & Dogs Can Be Best Friends -- with Training

In a previous life, moving to Paris when the first of my three children was a month old would have been great fodder for a mommy blog – if only the Internet had existed in 1988. Back then, I knew even less about parenting than I knew about dogs when I launched this blog a little over a year ago as a way to keep busy during a stretch of unemployment. Time wasn’t the only thing I had on my hands – I also had a new puppy. I needed an organizing principle for my writing, so I stretched the old adage “write what you know” to fit my circumstances. In addition to teaching me how much I still have to learn about dogs, one of the benefits of hanging up my virtual shingle as a dog blogger has been the real-life connections I’ve made through Cambridge Canine with bona fide dog experts. Continue reading “Teaching Kids “Dog Literacy””

The Dog We Deserved

Juno 1962
Juno 1962

Animals loomed large in my childhood imagination. When I wasn’t pretending to be one – cantering and jumping fences like a horse, wiggling my nose like a bunny as I nibbled carrots, or swimming underwater like a dolphin – I was apt to be reading animal stories, drawing animal pictures, or playing with toy animals. I grew up with dogs, and the Snoopy poster “Happiness is a warm puppy” hung on my bedroom wall. Continue reading “The Dog We Deserved”

Ringing in the New Year

What's in the box, Lily?
What's in the box, Lily?

Ringing in 2012 Cambridge Canine-style, we extend our congratulations to Laurie and Ben of Concord Avenue, whose 3-1/2-year-old Hungarian Visla, Lily, is pictured.

Laurie, a nurse, told us she had just returned from a morning run the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and was stretching on her porch when Lily came out to greet her. Attached by a yellow ribbon to Lily’s collar was a box containing the engagement ring that Ben, an attorney, gave her when he proposed a few minutes later. The couple hasn’t set a date yet, but they’ve already lined up – and trained – their ringer bearer. We can’t wait to see the wedding photos!

Happy New Year to all our dog friends!

Cutting the Apron Strings

Can there be 4 centers of attention?
Can there be 4 centers of attention?

As the mother of three mostly-grown children, I thought I was long past worrying about separation anxiety. Not that my kids ever gave me much to worry about on that score; all three were socially confident from the get-go, cheerfully waving bye-bye on their first day of preschool and always excited for play-dates and sleepovers at friends’ houses. In this era of helicopter parenting, I’ve always taken a certain pride in my children’s independence and self-assurance.

So it simply never crossed my mind that my puppy would be the one to suffer from separation anxiety. I first realized this Eddie was not cut from the same cloth when he was about four months old, and I dropped him off at the local doggie daycare center while I went on a job interview. I wasn’t overly concerned that he whimpered and tried to follow me out the door; I was sure that as soon as I was out of sight, I’d be out of mind. I figured he’d have a blast playing with new pals and forget all about me. Little did I know! Continue reading “Cutting the Apron Strings”

Eddie & Riley Forever

“He has to retreat into his fanciful world in order to survive. Otherwise, he leads kind of a dull, miserable life. I don’t envy dogs the lives they have to live.”
Charles M. Schulz on Snoopy in an interview with Gary Groth (The Comics Journal, Dec. 1997, Issue #200)

Eddie (L) & Riley
Eddie (L) & Riley

I don’t know a single dog person who doesn’t anthropormorphize her canine companion, whether because, like Schulz, we discount the rewards of living a non-human life, or because our dogs become our surrogate children – and what parent isn’t guilty of projecting her own hopes and dreams onto her offspring?

So, what if real dogs were like the cartoon Snoopy, longing to go home to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm to be reunited with their siblings? There is plenty of scientific and anecdotal evidence to support the psychic connection human twins develop in utero, so why wouldn’t dogs forge a similar bond with their littermates? I’m pretty sure they do, based on how visibly my five-month-old puppy, Eddie, yearns for his daily visits with his sister, Riley. Continue reading “Eddie & Riley Forever”

Joint Custody Dog

Teddy & the Kids (1998)
Teddy & the Kids (1998)

I originally posted this on my blog “Salutations” following Teddy’s death in January 2011.

I didn’t want a dog.

In 1998 I was a single mother of three young children (ages 4, 7 and 9), trying to find my emotional and financial footing following my divorce. I had just started a new job as a real estate agent, and was trying to juggle being on call 24/7 to my clients with the demands of motherhood. Space and privacy were at a premium in our 1,000 s.f. condo, and we shared a postage-stamp-sized back yard with our upstairs neighbors. It was early summer, and the kids were out of school and in day camps; I worked until about three o’clock and spent afternoons ferrying them around to play dates and playgrounds and running errands while compulsively checking my office voice mail. Continue reading “Joint Custody Dog”

One Day at a Time

Sleeping it off
Sleeping it off

Out with my puppy early this morning, I was thinking about how the expression, “One day at a time,” applies to the process of housebreaking a dog. Today I slept half an hour later than usual (until the lazy hour of 5:30 a.m.!) and woke to find that, like an addict in recovery, Eddie had slipped, breaking a streak of four days and nights clean and sober – that is, without an accident in the house. Disappointed in my dog, I was also angry at myself for letting him down by oversleeping. And he had been doing so well! Continue reading “One Day at a Time”