My Dog’s Getting The Last Laugh; The Chapter I Didn’t See Coming

My Dog’s Getting The Last Laugh; The Chapter I Didn’t See Coming

Let me say, Dear Reader, that you are amazing.

Wonderful.

Clearly, you’re an over the top dog lover, like myself.

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The emails have been flooding in ever since I shared the latest chapter of my sweet Darla’s life in the column, “My Dog Is Teaching Me A Final Lesson.”

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I shared how my dog has been showing signs of slowing down, how she’s preparing me to let her go after more than 15 years together.

I know, you can’t even think about that with your own dog without pulling out a tissue or a bucket or swimming pool to catch your tears.

You’ve been so sweet to share with me the story of your dog. Of the great love you shared. Of his or her final days. Of how hard it is to say, “Goodbye,” to your best friend.

You’ve also been wonderful in offering advice. Ways to have the vet come over, books to read, videos to watch, poems to read.

The time you’ve taken to help me cope and ultimately grieve has been humbling and overwhelming.

Which leads me to the thing I feel compelled to share this week.

Something I need to let you know, because, well, you and I have that kind of relationship.

See the thing is, my dog is alive.

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Not just alive. Very much alive.

Yes, she’s still over 15 years old. Still deaf. And was definitely having some struggles.

But it seems since I wrote that column a couple weeks ago, Darla has undergone a renaissance of sorts. It’s kind of like when you call the dishwasher repairman and have him show up only to watch the darn machine work just fine.

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I wake up to emails, texts and phone calls bemoaning Darla’s passing, only to see a dog scrambling to get to the front door for our daily walk.

It’s as if she’s living the old quote, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Darla gets the last laugh.

And why not?

We’ve been laughing together since she was a six-week-old puppy and I took her over to a friend’s house for their one-year-old’s birthday party. They freaked out thinking I was gifting them and their baby with a puppy. The punch line was I just didn’t want to leave her home alone.

Darla was probably giggling as I had to email my sweet neighbor, the one who dropped off a condolence card the other day. I explained that he shouldn’t be freaked out if he sees Darla prancing down the street on one of our walks.

She still spends most of the day snoozing behind the couch. I do that thing where I tip toe over to watch, feeling that lump of joy and relief rising up in my throat each time I can see she’s breathing.

Your efforts are not wasted, Dear Reader. The calendar tells me this renaissance cannot last forever. I’ve tucked your email away for the time I will need them.

For now, I’m happy to give Darla this last laugh.

Darla Catches Snowflakes With Her Tongue

Find more stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution,the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

The Issue That Almost Upended My Marriage Before It Began

The Issue That Almost Upended My Marriage Before It Began

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.  Here’s this week’s column.

It is the issue that almost upended my marriage before it began.

I can picture you, Dear Reader, nodding your head in understanding. “Yes, it’s tough to agree on religion, money, politics, how to raise our daughter.”

Actually, for two people raised in very different backgrounds, my husband and I are remarkably compatible when it comes to traversing those potential mine fields.

Our issue was and can still be quite a tale. Make that a tail. And fur. Bottom line, we don’t share common values on animals.

My husband didn’t grow up with pets, has no interest in animals, does not get the attraction.

Me? I’m that crazy animal wacko who was well on her way to becoming the eccentric cat lady down the street. Let me add, I was quite content with the idea of that.

He sees shedding, mess, and fleas.

I see unconditional love.

How did this happen? I’ve shared in this column (July 11, 2013: How I Found A Husband) how meticulous I was about making lists of the qualities I was looking for in a man.

I do remember the day we were introduced by mutual friends, this new person said something about not renting a house because “dogs had been living there.”

“Oh, well, not my guy,” I thought to myself.

When he asked me out for coffee a few weeks later, I made sure to out myself. “I have a dog, a 3-legged cat and just last week adopted 4 chickens,” I shared.

He didn’t run for the hills, so I figured his aversion to animals wasn’t that strong. That he liked me for who I was.

That was a mistake.

After a couple years of dating and moving closer and closer to marriage, I could tell he was getting cold paws, er, feet.

“I just can’t imagine living in a house with animals,” he blurted during one emotional conversation. “I thought you had animals only as placeholders until you met, well, humans.”

I hear my fellow animal lovers laughing and shaking their heads.

Not wanting to give up on each other, stubborn like two dogs on a bone, we headed to pre-marital counseling where we came to some agreements. We will always at least have one dog, probably no more cats, as my husband does have a mild allergy.

My big give was no more animals in our bedroom. Our dog, Darla, now sleeps in our daughter’s room. Almost everyone is thrilled with this arrangement, including our daughter who feels secure having a nice-sized protective dog sleeping by the side of her bed. Even Darla is happy, looking so proud at bedtime, prancing in our daughter’s room like she’s one of the big girls. She has a purpose.

Then there is me, who misses the sound of a dog snoring and licking her chops in her sleep as she dreams of dancing cheeseburgers. Sounds that are as soothing to me as ocean waves crashing on a beach.

The sounds that give me joy these days? Eavesdropping on my husband.  A year into our marriage, he’s taken to having conversations with the animals when he thinks I’m  not listening. “D-Dog, you love Daddy more than Mommy, right?” “Good Morning, Cat, you look happy today,” are among the words I never thought he’d say.

Then there was the day a few weeks ago when a couple of my chickens had died. Not knowing how to grieve a chicken, my wonderful husband blurted out, “Honey, you need to go restock.”

Nothing says, “I love you,” to an animal lover like, “Time to go get more chickens.”

As I drove out to the country to pick out the new chicks I couldn’t help but smile. “I get to be the crazy animal lady AND have the husband and kid?” I thought.

Dreams really do come true.

Here’s one our new chickens, a little Polish Maran chick the kids have named, “Nugget,” though Facebook fans and friends think looks more like Phyllis Diller. Whoever she is, clearly loves to play and dig in the mud. What a face!

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