Thanksgiving shot by, threaded with sadness because I’d had to have Chewbacca put down before he began to suffer from the lymphoma that was beginning to overwhelm him. I’d had him since he was eight weeks old, and he was easily, by temperament, the sunniest dog I’d ever owned, in a lifetime of owning dogs. He seemed to believe that he was the host of a wonderful party, and we were all his valued guests. He stole socks and underwear and dragged them into the back yard. He loved hiking with me and our friends Terry, Tanner, and Chelsea. He loved stealing from Tanner. He loved me and I loved him. About people who die, we are always somewhat equivocal, but about our pets, never. What a fine dog he was. He had a great ten years, and then it was over. Here he is. in a picture Mollie took last year, which catches all his joy, which lasted to the end of his ten years. And great years they were, though there weren’t enough of them.
Not long after, since I am not me without a dog, I went to a local shelter, and was regarded solemnly by Sasha, a border collie mix, about 4 years old, who has not had a good time in life. She is very nice, and pretty, and is trying hard to adjust to a world in which no one hits the dog, and there are lots of walks and snuggles. She has plenty to eat, a good sized back yard from which she patrols for squirrels, and lots of walks. Little by little, she will relax in her new situation.
I took her shopping for new clothes: a red collar and a fine new leather leash, which perked her up from a cringing animal with her tail between her legs to being a proud animal with her head up and tail waving. I took her to Dr. Lisa, the vet, for updated shots and evaluation. I bought, at a friend’s advice, some Rescue Remedy, an herbal preparation that helped to calm her anxiety attacks — quivering, panting panics started by nothing or something innocuous, like the furnace coming to life. I introduced her, one by one, to Chewbacca’s friends. I began to put some weight on her, because she was so thin, at only 32 pounds, that you could count both her vertebrae and her ribs. She is scared of loud noises and fast movements, so rather than use the blower, we raked the leaves in the back yard a little at a time.
We are doing pretty well. She loves being brushed each day before her morning walk. She is excellent about going out in the truck, which has been rearranged because, unlike Chewbacca, she is too big to ride in the passenger seat, or sleep comfortably on it. She is quiet, with an infrequent bark that is part yodel. I am teaching her, slowly, that it is good to be in the house, but I got her a big cushioned bed to have in the garage when she needs to be outside but still needs a comfortable, warm place to settle down.
As we approach Christmas, a fierce winter is already well begun. We’ve had four snowfalls so far, including a record 17 inches of snow on 29 October, which turned my umbrella-style laundry line into what you see here. The sun came out, the temperatures soared into the high 70s, and it was gone in no time. But in the meantime, it took a fair amount of shovelling.
I wish you well with your Christmas knitting, and ask that if you need help, please call before Christmas Eve! I was up until midnight helping last year. To Emily, I hope your fingers hold out. And to Victoria, in the faraway Shetland Islands, I’m still basking in the glow of having an actual Shetlander use one of my patterns, Altiplano, a take on a Fair Isle vest done with Peruvian motifs. I hope your fellow Shetlanders like it, too.