All dogs are good dogs…

My (then fiance), Dr. J woke up one day and said, “Let’s go to the pound…just to see.”  He had been pressuring me to get a dog since we had been dating and I always felt like I had a legitimate excuse to say no.  “No, we can’t – we don’t live together.”  “No, we can’t, we’re not engaged.”  “No, we can’t – my family already has a dog.”  “No, we can’t – I ate Mexican for dinner.”  I finally gave in because I really had run out of legitimate excuses and I really liked the idea of having a heartbeat to come home to that was ours and not shared amongst 3-4 households as my family pet was.
It was a beautiful September Sunday in Columbus, Ohio (9.17.06 if you’re curious) when we went to the Franklin County Animal Shelter’s “Mingle with our Mutts” open house event.  It was a pretty big event for the pound and they invited several dozen rescue groups to set up on their front lawn for good measure.  It was sunny with piercing blue skies (a rarity in the Midwest) and the green grass of the shelter lawn beckoned us to come closer.  Walking across that lawn I immediately eyed a Beagle Rescue and a *big* Beagle inside of a pop-up “jail”.  It was love at first site.  She was quiet.  She was calm.  She was super interested in her surroundings.  She had a “pink eye” where one of her eyelids is pink instead of the typical black/brown.  She was house trained and knew a whole slew of tricks.  She had short hair.  She had ridiculously soulful eyes that said, “Love me, please!”.  She was a “she”.  She was Maggie.  She was perfect!  I wanted her.  Dr. J said to me, “Wait a minute – shouldn’t we look at a few more dogs before deciding on the first one we see?!”  I didn’t care.  I was sold.  We signed the paperwork, paid the $100 adoption fee ($50 from him, $50 from me), gathered her up and brought her home.
Maggie - OSU

Our first pic of Maggie. Dr. J took her into “work” at Ohio State University. That’s the ‘Shoe behind her…

Maggie Eyes

Those eyes are what slayed me…

The Maggie head tilt

The Maggie head tilt

The information we got from the Rescue filled us in on Maggie’s already eventful life.  She was born sometime in August of 2005 and was immediately adopted by somebody who probably didn’t realize how much work a Beagle-Boxer mix was going to be.  She was energetic and quite a handful so that person eventually gave her up to a Vet’s office around 6 months of age.  The Vet took one look at her and said, “Beagle!”  So they called up a Beagle Rescue nearby in Ohio, Beagles Rrrrrr Us, and they took her in.  But she kept growing and growing and growing…Eventually, she was too much for even the Beagle handlers to handle and they sent her to the klink – no, really!  She spent about two months in Madison County Correctional Facility living with the inmates, learning tricks, being cared for and rehabilitated by the inmates and, in turn, she rehabilitated them.  They kept a daily journal for her and it is still one of our most treasured items to flip through about her time as a puppy.  After her freedom from jail, she went back to the Beagle Rescue where she was passed over for a few months simply because she was “too big” by Beagle standards.  But she was absolutely perfect for us!  Home she came!
Whoever said two months in prison would teach you nothing?:
Maggie - trick - shake


Maggie - trick up


Maggie - trick down

Down! Now gimme a B-O-N-E!

Adjusting to life with a “puppy”, even a 1 year, 1 month old house trained mutt, is always a big adjustment. Maggie had all of the usual puppy things to get over that used to drive us (mostly me) crazy. She jumped up on people all of the time when they came in the door, including us! She chewed on our furniture (but never our shoes). She barked at random things and would wake us up in the middle of the night with her “big girl bark”. She also had a tendency to “jailbreak” and try to run free – boy, did she like to run! She also loved to tug on her leash and was a powerful little fireplug – she could take down a whole city block if she wanted to! We took her to a dog park very soon after we adopted her and she clotheslined several 5 year olds. She also had a tendency to chow down her meals. I timed it once – 5 seconds flat. It took a lot of creativity to break her in and in some cases she never really grew out of everything, but she eventually grew up and out of most of those habits and became the absolute best Mascot Mutt and Co-Pilot we could ask for.
Maggie Pillow

How we found her one morning and determined that she needed a doggy bed – yes, that is our pillow:

Maggie’s travels after adoption mirror that of her parents.  She lived in three states: Ohio, Oregon and California.  She traveled with us through 14, the final list being Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California.  She also got to see some incredible sights along the way like Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower and the Badlands.  She experienced cities like Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Salt Lake City and Reno.  She also got to kick back in smaller towns like Bend, Kennewick, Sioux Falls, Cody and the farm fields of Iowa.  She went up to peaks of about 7,000 feet like those in Lake Tahoe and Bighorn National Park and down to around sea level.  She got to see the Pacific Ocean on many occasions, both in the frigid waters off of Oregon and in beautiful sunny California.  She never really liked frolicking in the water, though a Sea Lion did intrigue her one time at the docks in Astoria, Oregon.  In California, she got to witness some amazing sunsets on the beaches of Cambria, great hikes, amazing weather and her long sought after sunbeams.  She saw snow, rain, sleet, hail, heat waves, cold snaps, blizzards and everything in between, though sunshine and warmth were her favorites.  She got to experience the highs and lows of her parents’ life as we took her everywhere we could with us that was possible.
Is this heaven?

Is this heaven? Iowa, 2008

Yellowstone National Park, 2008

Yellowstone, 2008


Cannon Beach, Oregon, 2009.

A San Francisco treat...

San Francisco, 2009

Cambria Beach, California, 2013

Cambria Beach, California, 2013

As much as her parents loved to travel and drag her along she really was a home body.  She enjoyed hanging out on whatever back porch/deck/patio/veranda we had just to catch some rays and work on her tan.  She lived in four different houses over the years as her parents flitted from state to state.  She loved chasing the Canada Geese at our Condo in Columbus and curling up by the fire in both of her Oregon houses.  Her California house gave her three floors to roam and she loved it when we let her out on the front porch to watch the crazy people walk by – her “big girl bark” came in handy in those instances.  Her favorite spot in all of those houses was either in a sunbeam or, in a pinch, in front of a fireplace.  She liked to stay active like her folks and she helped us with all kinds of remodeling projects around the house, big and small.  She suffered through demolition, renovation, painting (including accidentally, a few times on her – oops!), air compressors, power tools and all of the confusion it brought to her world.  She didn’t seem to mind it, but I’m sure she would’ve much preferred a quiet place to sleep with a lot of heat.


Supervising Dr. J

Supervising Dr. J

I'd much rather be sleeping...

I’d much rather be sleeping…

She had many rich experiences but she was always, first and foremost, a simple dog.  While we loved sitting on the beach with our dog, she just loved being close to us.  She hated car rides, but loved going places.  She wouldn’t let me touch my keys without promising to take her somewhere.  She loved sunbeams and green grass.  California was her favorite for that reason :-).  She was an insanely good catch, but a terrible retriever.  She loved to chase the laser pointer and would follow us around even if it was turned off waiting for us to turn the “dot” on.  She loved bees and hummingbirds.  She was confused by cats.  She hated the UPS man but loved the FedEx guy.  Bald people were apparently very scary.  So were long skirts, umbrellas and briefcases.  As such, her guard dog ways were both very helpful and insanely embarrassing.  Cuddling was her favorite pastime, though she never got up on the couch without first asking or “Mrf-ing” as we came to know it.  She had three doggy beds in our house so that no matter where we were she had a soft place to lie down.  We didn’t allow her to sleep in the bed, but every morning she would jump up the last 30 minutes or so before the alarm would go off and cuddle with her Daddy.  She must’ve known we were weak to her wiles at that time of day.  She loved to lick the dishwasher’s dirty dishes for us and even stole a spatula from the dishwasher at Christmas and ate it.  I couldn’t be angry.  She was too cute.
Cuddle time!

Cuddle time!

Early morning cuddles

Early morning cuddles


Oh, please. Not another car ride!

Maggie was our dog, but she was my baby girl and she knew it.  She and I would “go to work” every morning, which was just a short shuffle down the hallway.  This was very important to her as her job was to sleep on my feet and provide me with hilarious instances over the years of her having “dog-mares” and snoring while I was in meetings on the phone.  Occasionally she would let one rip while I was on the phone for work and I had to quickly mute the phone so I wouldn’t laugh too hard while trying to remain professional.  She knew the sun schedule, too, and would often whine for me to open the blinds at the appropriate time so she could get her suntan and look out for the UPS man – God, she hated him and I don’t know why.  When I was having a rough day, I would walk away from my desk to give her a cuddle, rub her soft dog ears and calm my blood pressure.  Best medicine ever.
Maggie sleeping while I work - notice her tongue hanging out...?

Maggie sleeping while I work – notice her tongue hanging out…?

She likes to work it work it

She likes to work it work it

Maggie was a talkative soul and we talked a LOT.  Her eyes and head tilts always seemed to say, “But I really DO want to understand you!”  Her earnestness to understand was something I had never experienced in a dog before.  She had the most soulful eyes and expressive eyebrows.  It wasn’t unusual to see her tilt her head so far that it was almost upside down like a bird.  She mastered the art of cute.  She always asked to go outside by running to a door (or a window if we were in a 30 story hotel), sit, MRF.  No response.  Sit, MRF!  She would communicate this to us as opposed to the door, which I always thought was pretty incredible.  Even if she was really sick, she would rather die than make a mess indoors so she would wake us up in the middle of the night if it was an emergency…even for vomit!
We called this ear placement "Bat Dog"

We called this ear placement “Bat Dog”

Those eyes!!

Those eyes!!

It goes without saying that she was an incredible dog as all dogs are to their owners.  So it was a great shock to us when she passed away a few weeks back due to a short illness that took us completely by surprise and took her from us far too soon.  She was 8.5 years old and far too young to die when she did.  There really was nothing that could’ve been done that we didn’t do.  Had a kidney been needed, I would’ve gladly donated it.  Her last days were confusing and her final moments terrifically chaotic and traumatizing for me personally.  As difficult as it was for me to watch our beloved and adored Maggie die in our house by myself, I’m glad she felt “comfortable” enough to die in front of me.  She knew I was “there” even if I was running around like a crazy person behind her screaming to the vet on the phone begging for help.  Although her last day was not very easy for us, I’m glad she died in a place where she felt comfortable.  Familiar.  Safe.  With her Mommy by her side.  Definitely not alone…
Her last photo

Her last photo

As we try to move on and grieve, every day is a small memory of Maggie and how she would react to the simple things in our house.  Loading the dishwasher.  Watching the UPS man make a delivery.  Cooking a meal.  Watching TV with her on my feet.  “Going to work”.  Picking up my keys.  Listening to hummingbirds.  Chasing bees.  Hearing a doorbell on the radio or TV.  Picking up the laser pointer (which also happens to be our TV remote).  Seeing the leftover remnants of nose art on our windows and doors.  They all bring back so many memories and each time it hits me my breath catches and I think, “Oh, Maggie…”  I’ll be having those thoughts for years to come, I’m sure.  And someday we will get another dog and love the poop out of that creature too.  And we’ll mourn that pooch and cry as well just as we have our previous family pets and critters.  But for today, she’s the one I want to think about and mourn and remember.  She was our first dog as a couple.  She was our baby girl.  She was our Maggie…and she was very loved…
RIP, Maggie.  2005 - 2014

RIP, Maggie. 2005 – 2014


Movin’ out+Movin’ in – aka why I didn’t answer my phone last week…

I’m not gonna lie.  Leaving the house in Oregon was pretty difficult.  It was a very bittersweet goodbye not only to the house, but to Portland, Oregon in general, a city so quirky that even I fit in!  Add to that my overall exhaustion last week of getting the house prepped and ready to move plus a missing Dr. J for some of it (he was still in California for a portion of the madness) and there were a few emotional and tearful nights for me.

On the house itself, though, I’ll be back later in the week with more of a “goodbye, house” post.  This one is just to show you the madness that we had facing us during the week and some pics for good measure.  It was a sprint to the finish line.  We both took the whole week off and we hauled ass from sun-up to sun-down *every*single*day*.  Here is the basic rundown of our week last week Here is a 2,384 word rundown of our week last week:

Sunday – Dr. J was still in California, so I had a mountain of things to do on my checklist and a lot of it I couldn’t do with just two hands (or reach with all 5’2″ of me).  So I put a plea out to all of my friends in Portland and I had a house full of eager volunteers at one point.  To those of you that showed up (Jill, Katie, Whitney, Amanda + family, Al + family, Keri & Phil), I just gotta give a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you!  By the end of the day, we even got to the point where there wasn’t a whole lot left to do and so I fast-forwarded to my weeklong checklist (like clean up dog poop in the backyard) and Amanda gladly volunteered!  I mean, talk about dedication!  God, I love that girl!  I was almost in tears because everybody was so generous with their time!  It was so great to be able to have people there with open arms and willing to help and made both Dr. J and I feel truly blessed.  Sunday night was unfortunately pretty restless for me, though.  I think I got maybe two hours of sleep because there was still *so*much*to*do* in the morning….

Monday – The packers showed up bright and early and I was already exhausted.  No sleep, no coffee left in the house so I didn’t get my morning caffeine until at least an hour after they showed up.  *Groan*….  There were five packers working ALL DAY LONG to pack up roughly 110 (_HIO!) boxes of everything from dishes to clothes to decor items.  I calculated that 5 people working from 8am-5pm with only one hour of breaks total = 40 total hours of packing.  And these are professionals!  So you know that they packed like fiends.  Regardless, they were a good group of people, we had a lot of laughs and they even came to my aid in a major way when one of my nosy neighbors stopped by to tell me that it was, “against HOA policy to post a FOR RENT sign in your window.”  I just about spit in his face I was so mad.  Do you SEE all of these boxes?  Do you SEE that I don’t have time for your busy body ways?  I mean, there is a tactful way to approach somebody about this situation and this simply was not it.  One of the packers stepped in (without me asking) and told him to leave and quit heckling his customer.  There was yelling.  There was shouting.  It was epic.  And I’ll love that man forever for doing that!    After they left, I ran Maggie over to a friends’ house because she was already a nervous wreck just from packing and sat pretty much with me all day in a manner like so…

I.e. – she sat in my lap while I watched the movers do their thing OR she was underfoot to the point that I was tripping all over her.  So she spent Monday night and all day Tuesday at their house getting sexually harassed by their dog, Dexter:

It was always meant to be…

Then I drove home to an empty house (no Maggie and no Dr. J) and only a bunch of boxes around the house to keep me company:

….and then Dr. J arrived home later that night and woke me up from a dead sleep to say he was home.  Talk about relief…

Tuesday – Loading Day!!  Big day!  Dr. J and I woke up early and had some last minute things to take care of, including trying to pack up boxes and suitcases filled with our “emergency supplies”, which may or may not have included some 24 odd bottles of Whiskey and Wine:

…again, we just tried to stay out of the way but also be available.  It was so nice, though, to have a partner in crime.  At least since there were two of us here, somebody could make a coffee run while the other one was busy doing other stuff.  Monday I had no such luxury.  There were a few odd repairs that needed to happen like fixing the door lock mechanism on the stove so that we could self-clean it.  This repair was a highly scientific process of jiggling the door until it locked – who knew?!?!  We did a lot of running around the house, cleaned out the fridge, patched holes and touch-up painted before they loaded the ladders into the truck (this was one very highly coordinated dance, lemme tell you).  Speaking of highly coordinated dances, check out MINE:

We also tried to keep the movers informed/happy.  I accidentally stole one of their “spare parts” boxes to load up one spice cabinet that the packers forgot (it happens) and then I was on the loaders shit list for most of the morning as a result.  Haha…le sigh…though they said I was surprisingly easy/low key by comparison to a lot of people they move, so that made me feel pretty good.  I blame the Valium…

…but through it all, I didn’t really have any time to feel sad or upset.  I was just too busy and plain exhausted.  But they got pretty much everything loaded onto the truck and then we both took one last shower in our bathroom as kind of a ceremonial “goodbye” to our favorite renovation in the house.  Then we headed over to our friends, Trish and Rylan’s, to be re-united with The Magster and to spend the night at their house for a few days since our house was essentially empty.  Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe it…

Wednesday – With the house empty, we really didn’t have much else to do aside from letting the cleaning lady in to do a final clean-out and then packing up all the leftovers into the cars.  My cleaning lady, Shari, has been like a second Mother to me in Portland so she got us a card and even a goodbye “Prayer Plant”.  It was so sweet.  While Dr. J worked on his master packing skills, including unpacking all of the boxes of wine that I had crappily packed the other day and just loading them into the half dozen or so empty suitcases that we had to fit into our two cars for the drive down, I finished up more touch-up painting/repairs and oversaw a rental showing of the house in the middle of the day as well (still no word yet!).  **Update:  We also oversaw a delivery of a new washer and dryer as our set had been loaded into the truck the day before.**  We ran to the recycling center a few times to drop off mounds of extra boxes and trash, transported our Compost Bin across town to a friends’ house and made sure to put the trash out at the end of the day.  We also gassed and loaded up the Mazda full of everything we needed, parked it in the (now empty) garage and got it all ready for the drive to California.  Shari took a moment at the end of the day to take an exhausted and sweaty picture of Dr. J, Maggie and I in front of the house one last time:

I ran through the house and snapped a few pics of the house empty (*sniff*) and then we left the house that night – empty and alone.  And this is when exhaustion just took over me and I started to cry.  Thinking of leaving the house and leaving Portland and moving to another state (which, let’s face it, California may as well be a foreign country) and all of the great friends we’ve made over our four years here.  Blerg!  It was just a lot to take coupled with the stress of moving (which, I guess, is essentially the same thing).  Even though I knew I would see the house again in the morning (SUPER early, in fact), it was hard to leave it and just think of it as bricks and mortar.  I could see so much of US in that house.  And every little reno that we did over the past three years just brought back memories of projects both good and bad.  But it was bittersweet.  Because I was also so happy to be leaving it in a better state than when we found it.  It’s so improved over what it was when we purchased it.  I always knew it could be beautiful.  But not without a lot of work, duct tape and spit polish.  But enough about that.  I didn’t have time to mourn….

Thursday – Our last morning in Portland and we were up WAY before dawn.  We had to be at the house prior to 7am (and we were coming from the Eastside which ended up being about a 45 minute commute) to let the carpet cleaners in.  This was a HUGE relief to us, actually.  We were really afraid that the carpet cleaners wouldn’t come until late in the day and one of us would have to stay to let them in and not be able to drive down to California until Friday – blerg!  Fortunately, we called ahead of time to get them scheduled as early as possible and they were in and out in less than an hour.  It gave us enough time to snap some pictures of the house from the car while we camped out across the street with the dog.

…then our neighbor (the one I like!) came over before she left for work  and gave us a Panera gift card and a goodbye card and lots of hugs.  So good to be able to say goodbye in person!  And that Gift Card came in handy later on…

Then the carpet cleaners left and we walked thru the house to survey it cleaner than it had probably ever been!  Haha!  We also closed all the windows and drew the blinds, turned the heat WAY down (we can’t shut off the utilities until the renters move in), took a few more pics of it one last time:

…loaded up the cars…

…loaded up the Maggie (her face echoed our sadness)….

….and said our goodbyes.  I shed one tear in the car, but then driving through rush-hour pretty much jolted me out of my emotional stupor.  We had to run a few errands before we left Portland (dropped off our cable modem and gassed up the Audi) and then we were on the road by 915 or so for the 12 hour drive down to San Jose, California.  It was a pretty uneventful drive for me.  Dr. J had Maggie in the car with him and I had the plants in the car with me.  They don’t make very good conversation partners, but that just meant I could listen to a good audio book (Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, if you’re curious).

We thankfully managed to time our trip such that we missed rush hour (mostly) in Portland, somewhat in Sacramento and entirely in the Bay.  I don’t remember what time we got in, but we managed to have enough time to unload the cars somewhat, walk the pup, take showers, and crash on the air mattress on the floor of the new master bedroom never having grabbed dinner.  No rest for the weary, though….we had to be up (again) before dawn to wait for the movers…

Friday – the movers show up (geeze, they booked it!) and managed to introduce us to the neighborhood by blocking every single garage on the street…

Haha!  Hi!  We’re your new crazy neighbors!  You have NO CLUE what’s coming your way…muwahahaha…

Now when you are moving with a professional moving company, they have you “Play Bingo” with the checklist.  There’s a “Box list” and an “Everything else” list.  We had roughly 110 boxes and approximately 200 items..  As they load things into the truck, they assign stickers with numbers.  My job is just to sit there and check the numbers off as they come off the truck.  However, we learned one lesson the hard way when we did this the first time (moving from Ohio to Oregon) which is essentially not to TOUCH anything until they leave.  They need to be sure that everything gets off the truck and if there is a missing number (which almost always happens) at the end of the day, we need to go searching for it through the house, which can be pretty tough if you’ve unloaded a box already and thrown it away.  So I sat outside all day with the pup while Dr. J directed traffic inside when needed.

By the end of the day, this is what our kitchen looked like:

…though we did have just enough time and energy to unload the bedroom enough to be able to sleep in our bed..

…it was a very nice ending to a REALLY stressful week.  And now we’re in San Jose, California, desperately trying to unpack boxes as much as possible, although now that we’ve got the kitchen, office and master bedroom mostly functional, we’ve cut back to about 1-2 boxes/day (hehe – we sound like smokers!).  I’ll be back later with some pics of the new house empty and possibly a video tour as well.  But for now, I’m signing off.  It’s been a stressful summer and, boy, am I glad there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…