Do your ever dream about pets?

Angus and Sherman visit me in my dreams. Angus lived until 15 and Sherman was 18, RIP.

This might seem weird. But from time to time my RIP pets enter my dreams. I’m so happy to be reunited with them. This happened to me last night. My childhood dog Pepi was there. She was so happy, waving her tail and playing with a ball. I watched her romp around. Pepi was born on my six birthday, one of a litter of 10 golden retriever pups that arrived on my special day.

In my dream, I couldn’t believe how good Pepi looked. I was telling a friend that she was born when I was six. I was trying to figure out how old that would make her, but got stymied after I hit 50 years old. That couldn’t be! Even in my dream, I knew that was way too old for a golden.

Often when my pets visit me in my dreams, I see them from afar, running through a field. I sometimes get to pet them, but mostly they are out of reach.

I wonder what it means when our pets are in our dreams? I googled pets in dreams and one thing stood out to me. Several websites said that dreaming of our own pets means that we are preparing to take care of someone. Interesting, since I’m going to be flying to the Bay Area to take care of my son after his surgery.

kids playing with a Rottie
My kids celebrating Natasha’s birthday. Natasha also appears in my dreams. We had her for 10 years.

What are your thoughts about pets in dreams? Do you ever dream of a pet that’s passed away, or do you dream about a pet that you have now?

What is it with pugs?

Waffles the pug
Waffles last July on our Park City vacation.

My daughter called at 8 a.m. yesterday freaked out because Waffles the pug wouldn’t eat breakfast. If you know anything about pugs this is a serious sign something is wrong. I asked if she’d taken him for a walk and if he’d eaten some grass. She said, yes, he ate grass and threw up but he was still obviously in distress.

I asked if she was taking him to the vet. She said they were on the way to the emergency hospital.

It was a long day. They didn’t see Waffles until 2 p.m. My daughter missed work as a tutor which made me nervous. She’s been at this job less than a month. But what choice did she have?

That evening she called me crying hysterically. Oh no. They gave Waffles an ultrasound and found a mass in his small intestine. It wasn’t moving so they’d have to operate. They also told her it was risky because he’s a pug and they don’t always do well with anesthesia. They said he’d die without the surgery.

I haven’t been this worried since Friday getting driving through the hail storm. But this was worse. What would happen to my daughter if Waffles didn’t make it?

Waffles had surgery last night. The surgery was successful. The object was a piece of wood. What is it with pugs having to put everything in their mouths? They think anything on the ground is food. They are 100% motivated by food.

Last year when Waffles was with us during COVID shut down he ate half a package of pork chops that my husband put in the sun to defrost — styrofoam and plastic wrap included. He ate poisonous berries from the ficus tree and ended up in the ER. When my daughter was in college, he ate an adderall one of my daughter’s college friends had dropped on the floor. Another ER visit.

Waffles the pug
Waffles the pug

It’s not like he’s not well taken care of, but he is incorrigible. It literally takes one second for him to put something he shouldn’t into his mouth while you’re not looking. My daughter is blaming herself. I’ve told her it’s not her fault.

I’m relieved Waffles survived surgery. But now he’s having trouble with congestion with his flat nose. They want to keep him longer because they have to siphon out his nose every few minutes. I’m hoping for the best for Waffles and my daughter.

What happens if the emotional support animal doesn’t make it? That’s a question I’ve wrestled with overnight. My son told me this morning, “My view of dog ownership is setting yourself up for heartbreak in nine or so years.” He’s got a point.

Waffles as a baby pug
Baby Waffles

SEO Soup

cat harness for sale on amazon

I ordered this harness and leash for my kitty Olive. It arrives today. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I’d love to let Olive experience the outdoors, safely. It took me 30 minutes to measure the cat with a tape measure to get her size, so I’m not expecting much success with this. Maybe we should stick to the catio idea — if only someone would reply to our calls build one. The problem is an outdoor enclosure for kitty isn’t a big enough job for someone to do. There is the DIY option, but my husband and I aren’t that handy.

So back to the SEO soup. I texted the screen shot above to my daughter. Olive was her cat until she took off for college and left the cat with me. Then she got Waffles the pug — and the two didn’t hit it off to put it mildly.

My daughter replied to my text with “I love how the product title is just SEO soup.”

“I don’t know what that means,” I said.

“SEO is search engine optimization. So to show up more in searches you use a ton of keywords and all possible alternate titles. So that product title isn’t just cat harness, it’s that paragraph looking thing,” she explained.

I get it now. I learned something new. SEO soup.

pug profile
Waffles on his first visit to our new home. Olive’s claw somehow got embedded in his face, but my daughter pulled it out.
cat sitting next to flowers
Olive outside at our old home. She spent 12 hours a day outside.

What new words and phrases have you learned lately? Do you pick up new words from your kids?

Looking back: A birthday for the dogs

robert

Friday was my son’s birthday. I miss him so much but am looking forward to his visit when we are all vaccinated. Hopefully, he and his girlfriend will be here in a few weeks. I’m so proud of the caring and sensitive person he is and how he’s enjoying his career.

I can’t help but get sentimental and nostalgic for when he was a young boy. He called me “sweetheart” because he thought it was my name. When we went to “Mommy and Me” at the Palm Springs Pavilion, there was a “good-bye” song at the end of each session. When his name was called, he’d toddle to the teacher and plant a kiss on her cheek. He was so sweet. Still is.

robert 1

In honor of his birthday, I’m reposting a story I wrote when he invited 50 kids to his 2nd grade party. Originally published in the Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room, it’s about Angus our yellow lab of 15 years, who shared my son’s birthday.

A Birthday for the Dogs

“MOM, I’m inviting 50 kids to my party.”

“What, Robert?” Mom said. “That’s too many. Do you know 50 kids?”

I sat in the back seat while Mom drove home after school. My eighth birthday was in two weeks. 

“There’s my class, plus Cub Scouts, and playgroup.”

“I can’t afford to take 50 kids skating or bowling. And I don’t want 50 kids in my house. What about the city pool? It’s heated, open year-round, and it’s only 50¢ a kid,” Mom said.

“A swim party, that’s cool!” I said.

“I’ll say yes to the party, but no to presents. Fifty presents is too much for one eight-year-old. It’s decadent.”

“What’s decadent?” I asked. Mom used words I didn’t know.

“Self-indulgent, corrupt.”

I sat silently and thought I’d be sad with no presents. Then I remembered Angus. Mom got him for me as an early birthday present. We were on a waiting list for two years with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He was being trained as a companion dog for people who couldn’t see. We got him because he had poor hips and couldn’t be a working dog. Angus was big, yellow, and I loved him. We shared the same birthday.

“I have a great idea!”

“What?” Mom asked, glancing at me in her rearview mirror.

“I’ll ask for money for Guide Dogs of the Desert.”

“Ah?” Mom made a weird swalloing noise.

“It’s Angus’s birthday, too.”

Angus5

In the rearview mirror I watched Mom dab at the corner of her eyes with a tissue, and nod her head in agreement.

Two weeks later, I had a great birthday. Fifty kids came with bathing suits, towels and money. Instead of opening presents after cake, we counted dollars they had stuffed into a large jar decorated with photos of Angus. 

Together, we raised more than $1,600 for Guide Dogs. Mom called me a “philanthropist” – whatever that is.

Angus8

Happy birthday, son! We miss you, Angus!

What she thought about our new home

It was a relief. My daughter spent a few days with us in our new home. She likes it. She likes the area where we live — even though it’s not California. It’s in Arizona.

profile of a pug's mug
Waffles, my daughter’s pug.

Her first job out of school was in Arizona and she has terrible memories. She took the job because the company flew her to Scottsdale from Utah. They put her up in a hotel, they took her out to dinner. She was swept off her feet. It was in her father’s field of investments So, it all seemed perfect to her. But it was far from it. It turns out taking a job to get your parent’s approval may not work out.

She lived in a house we purchased in a quiet family neighborhood. Not at all the best spot for a 22 year old — unless complete isolation and living next to boomers is your thing. Then her house got broken into and ransacked. The only good thing about that is they didn’t steal her pug. They locked him in the garage. Eventually she quit her job, got another one plus nannied in the early mornings for a single mom. She got hired for dream job in the Bay Area and moved up there. That worked out fine until COVID hit.

Fast forward to December 2020 and we moved to Arizona and she told us she would never come visit. She doesn’t have good memories of her one year here. I kept telling her although our address says Scottsdale, it really isn’t. I told we were out in the “sticks” as my hometown was called growing up. We’re far enough out of the metropolitan area to have a whole different feel.

beautiful maine coon
Our queen bee Olive.

She was surprised how far out of town we live. And she loves the nature. We watched a dozen javelina cross the street including babies at sunset. She enjoyed the bunnies and quails romping through our yard. She loves our house. She’s planning on another trip soon to visit.

The only snafu was Waffles. Olive was sleeping under our bed and Waffles decided to charge her at 4 a.m. We heard the kerfuffle and Waff flew out from under the bed. Olive stayed put.

The next day our daughter wiped a booger from Waffles’ snout. It turned out to be a claw embedded through his skin. There was no more trouble from Waffles and Olive after that.

Ancient saguaro cactus with a dozen arms
The nature trails across the street. I wonder how old this saguaro is?
saguaro growth chart

It’s a special Wednesday

pug face
This is Waffles snuggling my daughter.

Today is Wednesday. I’ve been waiting patiently for today to arrive for several weeks. My daughter is coming to visit. She is driving from the Bay Area and should be here within the hour. This is the first time anyone from our family will see our new home. We moved in December.

When we announced to our kids that we were selling our home, they were furious. They were so angry with us that we’d consider selling the only home they ever knew. All the memories of their lifetimes were wrapped up in our 1930’s old Spanish home. Birthday parties, sleepovers, hanging out with friends between swim practices. Christmas, Easter egg hunts, spaghetti feeds for the team. Playdates at the neighborhood park. They were born in the hospital a few blocks away.

old spanish style house
Our home of 28 years.

So today, I get to see my daughter. It took several months for our kids to get over their sadness. They were never coming to Arizona to see us, they told us. But now we get the first visit.

It’s been a tough year for a lot of us. The shut down for two weeks to flatten the curve turned into a long year with people suffering from lost jobs, lost wages, isolation, depression and anxiety. My daughter lost her job due to COVID around 10 or 11 months ago. We told her she’d be fine with the enhanced unemployment. But the state of California couldn’t get that right. She was one of approximately 1.13 million people who are in unemployment limbo.

She got a few checks and then they stopped. They owe her thousands of dollars from summer through today. Nobody answers the phone. She calls and calls. When she was lucky to get through after weeks of calling, the person on the other end of the line said they couldn’t see anything wrong with her file. Finally, after writing to her Assemblywoman and Congressmen, she got through a second time. She was told she was going to receive all her back unemployment. She was thrilled. A week later she was told she’s back on hold and they were investigating her account for fraud. She was crushed. And she continues on in limbo.

Here’s an excerpt of an article that explains the ongoing problems with California unemployment:

With an added emphasis on fraud, the EDD spent the remainder of December locating unemployment benefit cases that were ‘potentially fraudulent’, eventually find around 3.5 million cases that fit that description by late December. Two million of the cases were immediately disqualified, such as those sent to inmates and some registered to deceased people, leaving 1.4 million to be suspended in January while the EDD takes a closer look at them.

The suspension of the accounts led over a million unemployed Californians to learn of the situation in the last week. Many found out from communication with the EDD, being told that “Your claim is suspended because it may be tied to fraudulent activity.” Others received notices in the mail reading “You have been receiving unemployment benefits, but we have temporarily suspended your claim because it may be tied to fraudulent activity. You will receive further instruction from EDD on how to verify your identity beginning Jan. 6, 2021.”

While initially silent, the furor of unemployment beneficiaries, who rely on the money to tide them over during the pandemic while they find another job or wait until their business reopens, led the EDD to make a statement during the weekend, days before the full number of beneficiaries in limbo was known.

“As part of ongoing efforts to fight fraud, EDD has suspended payment on claims considered high risk and is informing those affected that their identity will need to be verified starting this week before payments can resume,” tweeted the EDD. “More details on the EDD website in the days ahead.”

What a nightmare! It’s hard enough to lose your job. But then California can’t do what it’s promised to do to help. It’s been hard for her to stay positive. She’s been locked down in a tiny apartment for months on end and is suffering from depression. The Bay Area has some of the strictest restrictions of the state. Good news is on the way with vaccines. We’ve all had shots. Now that businesses are beginning to open she has found a job and starts next week. She decided to make the trip to see us before her life gets back to normal. I’m so thankful I get to see her!

selfie in front of the Public Market sign downtown Seattle
This was two years ago in Seattle on a mother-daughter trip.

And then this happened….

Harris hawk on jojoba Harris hawks on our jojoba bush.

After writing about my neighbor’s dog, I didn’t know that this would happen next…

I was taking a break, sitting in a zero-gravity lounge in the sun, reading a book about creativity called “Vein of Gold.” I placed two bird feeders in our back yard a few weeks ago. I enjoyed watching the quail and pigeons who came into the yard, ignoring me as I sat still with my book.

Hawk on wall Harris hawk on a neighbor’s wall.

Then I heard a crash. Another crash. I saw the giant brown wings of a Harris hawk. It looked like it was smashing into the screen door of our casita. Crash! It hit it again. I jumped up, yelled and waved my arms, hoping to scare away the hawk away who had a quail in his claws.

I quickly walked down to the casita door and quietly peeked inside. I wasn’t sure if the hawk had broken through the screen door. I was shocked when I discovered this:

Broken window due to hark The window after the hawk repeatedly flew into it.

It wasn’t the screen door but a window he smashed into. I think the hawk thought our casita was the perfect place to hide out in to devour the quail. I’ve decided not to refill the bird feeders. I don’t want my yard as a hunting ground for hawks, bobcats and coyotes to stalk our fattened quails.

Not only do I worry about the neighbor’s dog, but also large birds of prey shattering windows.