Dear dogs ‘n friends:
It has taken a year - it has been hard to write. I am trying to find my Mojo after that year we had. We are OK now, but it was sketchy for a while. The bad year was really two - May 2016 - September 2018. Elvis died, Dude died, our friend Don Benton died, the oil train derailed in Mosier, the ice storm and Snowmeggadon blasted us in the Gorge. Then the Eagle Creek Wildfire. After that, I got sick for two months with pneumonia. Then, doxie surgery in January 2018. Then my dad’s stroke.
Ever have a stroke of bad luck? Sometimes those ups and downs take time to ride. Before you come out on the other side. Thanks for being there. Here, with us.
- Barb and Doodle, Surf Dog Diaries.
The elephant in the room is gone. A mini series - Part 1
That spiteful, mean, fast-growing Goliath.
Threatening to split us open. Apart. Explode between us.
That rough-skinned bulgeous bump that took over our lives. Tried to take away my baby.
My fear, my son and I. Elephant-sized fear, growing wild.
The big C.
Dare I say that word…. tumor.
It took a couple weeks of denial and anguish, for me to take action. What started as a little brain bump on my dinky doxie’s head… grew into Goliath in just three weeks. It was terrifying. And it was Christmas. Not a time for dire life-changing emergencies.
It was too soon. Two months after the Eagle Creek Fire, that tore out our forests and our hearts. I was working 24/7, as County Emergency Manager. Stuffing feelings, trying to help my community survive.
Afterwards, that disaster threw me into a black hole that was hard to crawl out of. No highs, all lows. Sleepless nights. I grew a big, fat butt. I got sick for two months with pneumonia.
It was too soon after losing my two old dogs. The basset boys had been with me through so much – houses and jobs, a failed engagement, and escape from the big city to a dead end road.
We were bassets. Family. Sharing the ups and downs. Surfing life. Surfing together.
And then we had that really bad year.
Our family shrank from three dogs to one.
And then, my baby had a fast-growing tumor on his head.
I called it The Big E. The Elephant.
After the surgery to remove the Big E, my baby boy shivered uncontrollably on a 45-degree day, which is steaming hot for an Oregon January.
So we climbed into bed. Doodle shivered under thick blankets, even with a girl and cat spooning beside.
Rescuing the baby doxie a few years ago was really about rescuing me. Doodle was the doggie succession plan.
I woke up one day and realized both of my basset boys were aging, and falling apart.
The thought of my hardwood floors’ empty echo… mocking me, amplifying the pain of loss, without those 40 dog toenails tip-tapping away…. was too much to bear.
So, naturally, as all normal people do, I opted for THREE dogs, since the two I had were the same old age. Naturally, I was running low with two. I really needed three. Some day, in theory, there would be an empty house. Right?
For years, there were two bassets, Elvis and Dude.
Then two, plus the doxie and me.
On the paddle board, the surfboard, the windsurfer. Surfing and shredding the Columbia River.
Surf dog family.
Ears flapping back, noses quivering. Hanging out. Hanging twenty toes on the nose of a surfboard.
Small, medium and large doggie floatation vests - matching red and white Hawaiian print, like a scene from an old Elvis movie.
With attitude, and low CG (center of gravity.)
Low is good. Low is the secret to surfing.
Low is hot. Hmmm… maybe not.
Not the coolest in our extreme sports town - Hood River, Oregon, Windsurfing Capital of the World. Where everyone’s a pro and the rest are top 100 surfers.
The basset / doxie team didn’t win trophies, they won hearts. Of a hundred million kids, here in our town of 25,000. Surfing parades on Hood River streets.
They won The Style award from the official windsurf agency, CGWA (Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association.)
They won Most Lovable Pet in the Hood River News.
Small awards - in a small town. Isn’t that the whole point?
But more than anything else, my three rescue dogs saved me.
Sing together now: “We are fa-mil-lee. I got all my surf dogs with me.
We are fa-mil-lee. Get up, everybody - dance!”
after that bad year,
there was one.
And as luck would have it, an elephant grew on his head. At Christmas.