Friday, December 31, 2010

Erin and Nana

My grandmother aptly called Nana by all family members adored Erin and the feeling was mutual. They loved spending time with each other and Erin especially loved the fact that Nana was very generous with whatever food was at hand. It didn't matter whether the food source was canine or human, if it was edible then Nana believed it was not to be wasted but to be given to a cherished pet and since I spent much time in Nana's company then Erin reaped the rewards of leftover food and the mountains of stockpiled dog treats. Rarely can I remember a time when Erin didn't receive a goodie of some type and it always elicited a rapid tail wag when I said "Go see Nana".

We routinely visited Nana's house where Erin considered herself the boss despite numerous cats roaming the premise. By nature, Erin was very curious and loved to investigate every nook and cranny that was available for exploration and during these visits with Nana, an occasional encounter with a feline ensued. Once in awhile, Erin would corner a cat would didn't appreciate quality canine company but she never got the hint until a hiss and swipe across the face shocked her. She always looked over at me to say "I just wanna play with them" and then she went back to wagging her nub as if that would seduce the cat to play chase. The cats never gave in to Erin's tomfoolery and believe me...Nana would never allow Erin to harass her babies!!  

Unfortunately Nana broke a hip and her health deteriorated to the point where she was admitted to a nursing home to receive the medical care she truly deserved. Despite being in a senior care facility it was arranged for Erin to have access to visit Nana and as much as possible, Erin was loaded into the car and we drove across town for a visit. Eventually, the medical staff, patients, and family members came to recognize myself and the "hunting dog" when we strolled onto the premises.What I always found remarkable and a testament to Nana's love and friendship for Erin is how she hoarded food from her dining room trays until we arrived. It was generally a biscuit, hamburger patty, or a piece of cornbread but occasionally some sweet dessert that was hidden away until we surprised her with a visit. With Erin in tow, I'd enter the room where she'd say "look in the top drawer" and there would be a morsel for Erin wrapped inside a napkin and placed alongside other personal belongings.  

Repeatedly, myself and other family members told Nana to stop storing food items for Erin as she was well fed but due to Nana's generous nature and feelings towards Erin, it continued until the very end. It was a win-win situation as Erin provided the love and companionship while Nana offered attention and food in return. It brings tears to my eyes as I recall them together in happier times both full of energy and love for each other. Something tells me as they're both watching over me from above, Nana is handing Erin a yummy treat to munch on. RIP Nana and Erin!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simple Pleasures

A common sight in the downtown Savannah was Erin peering upwards as she scanned the ancient noble oak trees for lurking squirrels. Tirelessly she scoped out the drooping branches and massive trunks for any indication of the bushy tailed varmints and usually she wasn't disappointed. Eventually one would wander down in search of food or a pair could be spotted playing chase high above, all oblivious to the canine who would've given anything to join in the hi jinks. Many days the squirrel activity was nonstop thus Erin had hours of entertainment compliments of mother nature.

The squirrels would often wander down from the tree and usually meandered a few feet before Erin decided to chase them back to safety and it's from that position the irritated fur toys would taunt her. Unbeknown to the squirrels was Erin's patience and dedication to the task of stalking and she scurried her object of attention up the tree time and time again. This game of pursuit would continue until the frustrated squirrel realized it had no chance at foraging without harassment and you could see it leap to another tree where there would be better feeding opportunities.

For Erin this instinct passed down from generations of Springers pursuing game around the globe was honed and it was impossible to contain that passion and the thought never crossed my mind. A broad smile, rapidly wagging tail, and unbridled perseverance were her trademarks of squirrel stalking in the numerous squares or Colonial Cemetery and those traits never diminished over the years. Watching Erin interact with squirrels brought me nearly as much joy as she experienced, if she was happy then I was happy. Tourists often stopped in their tracks to observe and take photos of Erin stalking the elusive prey, they found it so entertaining to watch the lovable dog dart off in the direction of a squirrel, then promptly return when called.

I'm hoping Doggie Heaven has an ample amount of squirrels for Erin to chase and  her toothy grin never disappears from that beautiful face. Personally, I'm looking forward to that day when I can lay by Erin's side in the lush grass of paradise and for an eternity, we'll gaze up into the trees watching her long-tailed nemesis.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chippewa Square Girl

Picture taken in early June 2010 while on a morning stroll through Chippewa Square.There were very few tourists swarming the monument so the opportunity presented itself for a impromptu shoot. Erin was hoisted up and instinctively she snuggled up to one of the four shield holding lions while General Oglethorpe looked down with respect for the regal canine. Erin sat there for several minutes while I snapped a few pics and this is one of my all-time favorite photos of  her. Beautiful girl in a beautiful locale!!

Monday, December 27, 2010



Erin was pretty near perfect in my eyes but I'm sure everyone feels the same way about their kids, human or fur covered. Many people claim it albeit knowing the statement is totally false but I publicly avow to the fact that Erin was near canine sainthood and I'm sure quite a few others would make that claim. That said, she wasn't perfect as all living breathing creatures have flaws, quirks, and imperfections that make them unique.  It's those blemishes, inadequacies, and the so called deficiencies of Erin that I'm truly reminded of how special she was and why I miss her tremendously. As I reflect upon my years with Erin, it's those intimate flaws that come to mind and are sorely missed. 

A scene from a favorite movie, "Good Will Hunting" comes to mind and in this shot, Robin Williams describes to Matt Damon his deceased wife's quirks and how much he misses them. The dialogue from the scene is posted......Sean: Ah...! But Will, she’s been dead for 2 years, and that's the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that's what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but there not. Ah, that's the good stuff.
~ Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Matt Damon as Will Hunting


That is how I feel about Erin and her oddball imperfections. What I wouldn't give to see her drink water from a bowl again and to witness the flood of liquid mopping the floor. Rarely could she drink a bowl of water without it dripping out the sides of her mouth and it became a regular punchline as we visited with friends and family. We would always hear how Erin mopped Mother's kitchen floor or shined Shaver Bookstore's wood floor with the excess drainage. Innocently, she would gaze up at everyone and inquire as to what the fuss is about, oh how I miss those times. She had a few other quirks that drove me crazy but now I find them so endearing as I recollect the past. But, like Sean in GWH, I'm going to keep the remaining imperfections of my loved one a secret unknown to all but me as that is truly the good stuff.

Erin your secrets are safe with me!! RIP my angel!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shattered Heart

Everyone is one phone call away from falling to their knees and the universe crashing down upon their head. No matter if it is a parent, sibling, endearing friend, or a beloved pet in my case sooner or later, all humans will suffer a devastating loss in their respective life's. Whenever that treasured soul is lost forever, all we can do is pray for a glimmer of color in an dismally painted world.

For the longest time it felt as if I was immune to pain and the agony associated with the death of a loved one. The most personal death til Erin was my grandmother whom passed away 7 years and that was heart wrenching as she was my best friend and biggest supporter in life. Nana was as close to sainthood as any human being to ever walk this earth and her passing ripped my heart out. I still recall not wanting to leave the funeral home viewing area and funeral home representatives asking me to leave because they're closing for the evening. Given the opportunity to sleep on the floor next to Nana's casket, I would have done it as a few hours isn't enough when your loved one is being buried six feet under.

The lost of Erin in my life is in another stratosphere compared to any other death. It's more personal as we spent so much time together and the accumulated memories are so vast. Erin was always at my side as I accomplished many milestones in my life and was ever present when I needed a hug or a dose of fur companionship. Her passing cuts deep as we are entrusted with the welfare and safety of our animal friends and to be powerless to prevent the death is a tough pill to swallow. Humans know death is inevitable and around the corner, thus for us it's part of the deal. I wonder as Erin gazed into my eyes and I held her paws if she knew the end was at hand, wish I had the answers. Hope she knows I did everything in my power and means to give her the remarkable life, few other dogs experience. Would have sacrificed my life to ensure her survival but I know she wouldn't have wanted to trudge on without me, so it's now up to me to carry the burden.

Thoughts of you during this holiday season!! RIP Erin!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shunned at Xmas

It's Christmas morning and I'm all alone, both physically and emotionally. Due to the contagious virus  harboring deep inside me, the family has voted me off the island or in layman terms, forbid me from attending the annual family Christmas gathering. Before I was informed of the decision, it was something I was already contemplating due to the fragility of my young nephew Brennen and it's the correct decision as my ride home from the hospital is now very ill and vomiting uncontrollably. Feel so sorry for my cousin as he did my mother a favor and a trip to the emergency room is a real possibility. Pray that the bug doesn't spread any further!!
Wasting time at Starbucks, drinking large amounts of coffee and taking advantage of their free wifi. Not sure how long I'll spend here as my body aches all over and it seems like I be hugging the commode very soon.

Miss my girl Erin but there's nothing I can do. Shed a few tears as I reflect upon the past dozen Christmases together, they are tears of joy and sadness. I was so blessed to have been part of such a loving relationship but always yearn for more time. Very few people devote their love, passion, time, and money into a animal as I did for Erin and that's why the loss hurts so much. As my mother said "You put all your eggs in one basket" and I definitely did that but Erin deserved nothing less as she was beyond loyal. Not sure what the future holds in terms of dog ownership, at this junction I'm not actively seeking a dog but on occasions I'll sneak a peek at the canines online. I saw a German Shepard the other day and it had soulful eyes like Erin's and I thought that would be a good dog. For me it's all about the eyes...expressive, reflective and loving.

Hope everyone around the world has a Merry Christmas and may the world find peace in their hearts!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

End of the rope

From the moment the sun set upon Erin's life, it's been a daily struggle to maintain control of my life and to find motivation for continuing this journey. I've been open minded and receptive to the solutions that society deems acceptable for folks mired in complicated grief...medical intervention, therapy sessions, religious services, and a variety of drugs. At the end of the day nothing is changed and my heart has a gaping hole in it. I do not need an expert to tell me how special my time with Erin was as I experienced it everyday for nearly 12 years and I won't take a drug that numbs me to the point of being unable to shed a tear.

Talking to friends about the issues and writing about ny relationship with Erin has provided the most therapy during this time. Eventually though, folks tire of listening to other's problems as they have their own worries in life and the afflicted are left to their own devices. That's human nature and it's understandable. If you believe folks don't comprehend the depth of grief for a human, wait until you experience the loss of a beloved pet. Most people really have no clue as to the heartbreak associated with an animal and consider them replacable objects but from the early stages of my life with Erin, she was my reason for existing in this world.

No one knows what the future holds but our creator in heaven but I'm maintaining hope for the future. Sometimes I believe God will call me home soon  to ease my suffering but then I think he inflicts pain to teach us life lessons for future battles. Regardless of the circumstances involving Erin's death and my eternal pain, this is a no win situation for all involved. There are only so many knots in a rope til one falls into the abyss, question is how many do I have left. RIP Erin!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas without Erin

Erin chasing hares in Mannheim Germany. This thicket contained several families of rabbits that entertained Erin for hours on end, she never caught one but so much fun was had. Hopefully, doggie heaven has prey to pursue!!

On August 16, 2010, Erin departed this world for the next phase of her journey. This years holiday season is the first I'll spend in 12 years without the company of my fur angel. It's surreal as I envision life without numerous trips to petsmart with Erin in tow, the filling of a shopping cart with treats and knick knacks of all varieties, and photo ops with Santa. Gone are the trips to relatives houses on Christmas day to navigate through mountains of strewn gift wrappings, and gift boxes, her sniffer always on the prowl for  misplaced morsels of Xmas goodies. The young kids loved to torture her with the remote control cars until I finally got tired of the fun at her expense.

At our household, a stocking adorned with a photo of Erin attached was stuffed with her favorite treats and upon Xmas morning, it was dumped out for her approval. The larger items were gift wrapped as if she was a human and I'd unwrap them to let her inspect the package. Upon completion of unwrapping the goodies, I'd open up a few for her to sample the haul, she always approved of what Santa (me) brought down the chimney. In addition to my stash, numerous relatives and friends contributed to her growing waistline by giving packages of gourmet and organic treats, which she greedily devoured over the next few weeks. Arguably her fave present was a leftover massive ham bone and a baggie loaded with slices of ham from the family feast, Erin would plop down on her bed with the bone and gnaw away with unbridled attention.

Experts contend the holidays are the worst times for those who've lost a loved one, whether a human or four legged friend of some sort. For myself, most days are a grind to get through and my aim is to make it through the day without having a emotional breakdown, where I put myself in a dangerous situation. Thanksgiving was a somber day as I reflected upon the previous years and there's no doubt Xmas will be more depressing. Personally, its impossible to erase the slate and pretend Erin wasn't a huge part of my holidays for 12 years so I'll agonize over this period and hopefully forge new memories without Erin next year.

There's no Christmas tree or decorations adorning the exterior of the house and I'm refusing to open the Xmas boxes because Erin's ornaments with likeness and name are permanently etched. Next year, I'm hoping to be in an advanced stage of healing to allow my Holiday joy to shine outward and who knows I might even have a new dog to spend the holidays with. In the meantime, I'm wishing my family and friends a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Erin have a Merry Xmas!! Love Daddy!!