Archive for January, 2012


A Comfort


Cody was an unhappy pup last night. I heard him whimpering from his bed around 11:30pm, so I went over to check on him. Nothing seemed to be the matter but it was obvious he wasn’t feeling too well. When I knelt down to cuddle him, he rested his head on my shoulder and began licking at my arm. I figured his stomach might have been bothering him because he was also licking his lips a lot, so I gave him a Pepcid to see if it would settle him. I decided if the pup wasn’t feeling up to snuff, it would be alright if he slept on the bed for a night, so I invited Cody up to lay next to me while I slept. He was definitely pleased with the idea, though after about 2 hours, he decided, “to hell with this,” and got down and went back to bed. He wasn’t whimpering anymore, so either being near me settled him or the Pepcid did the trick. Either way, I was glad to be able to be there for my pooch when he needed me.

Cody has time and time again proved what a special dog he is. We got him from Fallston Animal Rescue back in March of 2008. He had been abandoned by his former family and left at a kill shelter. The good people at FARM saved him from that terrible fate on the date of his schedule euthanization and we were lucky enough to find and adopt him. He was 11 months old when we got him and he has been such a wonderful member of the family since, always happy to see us, expressing love and compassion and regularly enjoying life. We have seen him through two massive knee surgeries (one on each knee) to repair a degenerative joint with which he was born. On both knees they repaired a torn ACL, torn meniscus and osteoarthritis while simultaneously performing an osteotomy that corrected and leveled off his tibial plateau (the angle at which his knee sits on his lower leg bone). These surgeries not only corrected his issues, but freed him of pain from which is was likely suffering for the entirety of his life. Not long after the second surgery site healed, Cody was behaving like the dog he had never been, playing and jumping and having fun, able to use his rear legs in ways he was never able to before. He has built up more muscle since then and as a result is up to a meaty and healthy 90 pounds.

His disposition with Eric is a sight to behold. He seems to know that Eric is a little person, not able to protect himself or handle the strength that MB or I can, and Cody lessens his grip, lowers his play level and respects Eric’s space when he is around. In his toddler meanderings, Eric will of course trip over Cody, attempt to pet him a little too rambunctiously or, and we are trying to teach him to put a stop to this, attempt to whack poor Cody in the head with his toys. Through it all, Cody doesn’t react, but instead looks at Eric with this sort of longing stare that says, “Kid, no matter what you do to me, I’ve got your back.” He’s been that way since the day they met, when Eric was only 5 days old. Cody took one look, one sniff and parked himself at his feet, as close as possible without covering him, protecting him. Whenever Eric cried, Cody was at the bassinet, attempting to peer over the side to make sure his “little brother” was alright. Theirs is a friendship that will last a lifetime.

Empathy is a trait often found in dogs, and Cody is no exception. He has a way of knowing when we are down or sick and does his best to convey comfort and care in such an unbridled, real way that your heart can’t help but feel warmed. He will lay with us, rest his head against us or just come closer for contact when he feels we need it. Our moods can directly affect his, as well; if we are nervous or agitated, he will pick up on it and feel that way as well. When we are happy, he is more relaxed and laid back.

I often describe Cody as our “dark shedding companion,” a monicker that earned quite a big laugh from MB the first time I said it. In a more detailed manner, I describe Cody as a son, a brother and best friend all in one loyal package. I can’t imagine a dog more suited for us, for our family, than that lovable, tall, lanky, goofy and affectionate black lab mix that will undoubtedly be attacking my legs when I come through the door later tonight.


A Sea of Words


A new year, perhaps a new outlook…

One of my presents this year was a much-desired Kindle Fire. I found myself wanting to read more and more, yet also realizing I had less and less time to go to the library or the bookstore to peruse the shelves and borrow or purchase books. Sure, you might say, “Get up off your lazy ass and make the effort,” but the simple fact is as one of a pair of full-time working parents with a rapidly growing and blossoming 14-month-old boy, time is a valuable commodity that is best reserved for the truly important things: family and grown-up responsibility. I thought to myself, as the gift-giving (and receiving) season approached with its bevy of people asking me what I wanted, maybe I could ask for an e-reader, perhaps thinking if the avenue of easy one-click borrowing and purchasing was made available to me, with the the ability to carry thousands of books in my hand, per se, maybe I would be able to read as much as I wanted, or at least more than I was.

It’s been roughly 2 weeks since I was given the Fire and I have since read two books; King’s X by Stephen T. Harper and Far And Away: A Prize Every Time by the incomparable Neil Peart. I will refrain fromreviewing  these books, as that is not the purpose of this blog (at least, not yet), but I do want to mention a thought to which I kept returning as the pages swiped past: I feel more complete when I read. Maybe it’s a flawed point of view that by reading I am somehow culturing myself, or maybe there is simply a part of my mind that lays dormant until the written word ignites it. Either way, I found myself rediscovering that wonderful eagerness to return to the pages (or screens, as the case may be) the comes with reading a good book.

One of the things that struck me, in particular while reading Neil’s book (as I refer to him like he’s a close personal friend — wishful thinking, hah!), was that I should keep more of a journal. I had recently redesigned my website to function as a WordPress blog since it lends itself so well to being a content management system, but I feel my personal ramblings should not mix with my artistic and professional portfolio. That is why I am writing here, in a semi-neutral environment that will not intrude on the additions to my galleries. I was intrigued, almost impressed, with the way Mr. Peart (more professional, now) was able to articulate his thoughts and actions in a way that not only told a narrative but also allowed the reader a glimpse into his mind and inner workings. My life is certainly nowhere near as exciting as his; my days are habitual and rhythmic as opposed to his daily jaunts through the snows in Quebec, motorcycle adventures through the backroads of whatever country in which he happens to be or any other of his hobbies, but in the same breath, nothing is stopping me from sharing and expanding on all that I do. Nothing, that is, except me.

This past weekend was one of laying low and letting things pass. Saturday had me feeling weak, weary and achy all day, despite having no fever. I spent a good deal of time in bed, when not watching Eric while MB completed work she unfortunately had to bring home. Anyone who questions the dedication and heart of a teacher truly has no idea of the reality of the occupation. Mountains of work, unruly students and sometimes, just as unruly parents. But I digress. Saturday was a low-key day. It has become a regular and very welcome sight to watch my son grow at a alarming rate. Having just surpassed his 14th month, he is running, playing, laughing, smiling and entering in the ever-evolving language of babble on his way to talking. Each day that I look into his eyes, hold his hand in mine or feel the weight of his head on my chest when he tuckers out, I smile in disbelief that this amazing little person came from me, came from MB and is now in my arms, growing and living every single day. It’s been over a year and the novelty, for lack of a better word, of being a parent has not worn off; every day brings the possibility of a new discovery, a new action or a new accomplishment for our Little Bear, and his enthusiasm for everything is contagious.

On that note, another tangent: while I will not delve too deeply into the nature of this topic, I want to say that advances in psychotropic medication are wonderful. Having been mired for a very long time in a low that wouldn’t lift, a visit to my doctor brought about an addition to my daily regiment that was felt within 48 hours. Again, without entering into too much detail, my mind is clearer, my mood is brighter and my quality of life has improved tenfold. It is because of that improvement that I am even able to write this entry; before now, the words would have faltered after less than a line had been written (typed). Now I feel expressive, articulate and, quite simply, able.

For our Sunday sojourn, we went to MB’s parents’ place for breakfast, the early football game and belated Christmas gift exchanging (MB’s sister was away on business for the holiday, so the gift exchanged was pushed back until she had returned). It was tiring for me because I still did not feel particularly up to snuff, though a good time was had. We returned home weary, all three of us, and while MB settled in for yet more work, I took care of the weekly laundry and ordered up some pizza for dinner (yay, healthy eating). The evening ended well enough, with a full week looming in front of us and a Steelers loss still keeping the energy in Baltimore elevated.

Tonight, I plan on starting a new novel, this time borrowed from the Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, titled Asylum by Kristen Selleck. I am looking forward to continuing my newfound (?) dedication to reading and, perhaps, expanding my mind.

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