As cliché as it sounds if I had a quarter (inflation) for every time I’ve been asked “Have you been published?” this website wouldn’t exist.  You would find me in a tropical locale, attempting to fulfill my fantasy of being the female Ernest Hemingway writer of the century:  warm sand pulsating through my toes, a gentle breath of wind carrying fragrant nautical scents with a faint taste of salt on my tongue.  No Wi-Fi, everything is hand written.  Margaritas for everyone!
Ernie would understand.
Yes, I’ve been published – thanks to a dog.  How is this related to a commercial writing website? It’s storytelling – authentic, emotionally engaging, and memorable.  Give me a product, concept, service or topic and I’ll work some magic for you.  In the meantime, enjoy a not-very-business-related-but-fun-read-nonetheless dog tale.
In memoriam:  RIP Katie Marie – July 4, 1998 – December 13, 2012.
Ode to Katie Dog
Before you came into my life with your four large paws, floppy ears, wet kisses, table-clearing tail and glossy penguin-like coat, I considered myself a confirmed cat person.   Cat people, as we are known by the masses, enjoy the feline faculties such as an inherently independent nature, the ability to defecate in a small box deftly concealing the evidence, and their undemanding requests for daily exercise.  Cats, you see, are the chosen pet of choice for those of us unwilling or unable to make long term emotional commitments.  You don’t need to rush home to let a cat out to pee.  Daily walks are unheard of and they rarely, if ever, generate a call from a neighbor complaining that their constant meowing is keeping them up at night.  “Shut that cat up!” is something I never heard, not once, in my thirty plus years as a self-described cat person.
Cats are simple, you are not.  The day you arrived I held serious reservations concerning the future of our arrangement together.  Your original father, my son, couldn’t keep you because you wanted to herd the new baby and he was afraid you might accidently hurt her.  Given your breed’s nature this was not a complete surprise, after all you should be on a ranch herding sheep in the Scottish Highlands not sequestered in a two bedroom duplex with wall to wall carpeting.  What was a surprise was that he asked me, the woman who harbors a secret Cat Woman fantasy, to adopt you!  I don’t do dogs, I do cats.  You know tuna, balls of yarn, scratch posts and self-cleaning litter boxes.
Fortunately for you my life partner is a dog person and he suggested we take you for a short foster ‘trial’ week to see how you adapted to our home before we took full-fledged ownership.  I know he really meant “let’s see how the crazy cat lady adapts” but the burden of proof really falls on your furry shoulders Missy, so don’t act too needy or off to the farm you go.
Day one, you lick a lot and this is annoying.  Mc-Partner thinks you are sweet and tells me they are kisses not licks as if I just landed on earth and it is his job to educate me on all things living.  You are pretty smart, I’ll give you that.  One of your Border Collie relatives made the cover of National Geographic and was referred to as one of the smartest breeds on the planet.  I liked that.  Better to have a smart dog than a stupid one.    I was impressed with your ability to go to the door and make a low howling sound indicating you really needed to visit the giant outdoor litter box and you never once mistook any part of the house for the lawn.  You will never fully understand how much this is appreciated.
After a week of walks I can’t say I’ll ever be happy about having to pick up your hot poop with my bare hands – well two double-wrapped Albertson plastic bags serves as a buffer – but still, it’s disgusting.  Would you like to pick up my poop?  Just so we have an understanding:  Feces are not fun.  Mc-Partner agreed at the start he would “face the feces” in the backyard which suited me just fine.
What I can say that I am happy about is our walks in that not only do I find people more willing to engage with me whilst you are in my company but after our first walking week I shed about four pounds.  This was a surprising discovery and I’m thinking this arrangement might work out as you are the ideal work- out partner: encouraging but not demeaning, slows down or speeds up to meet my pace, could care less what I’m wearing and besides the pooping (dropping your own and smelling others), you love to listen to everything I have to say.
You arrived just four months after my human mother died.  She and I didn’t have the best relationship and I spent most of my life trying to win her love and approval.  Upon her death I realized I had run out of time and was forced to cope with the hand I was dealt.  Toward the end of your trial week while Mc-Partner was at work and I was parked on my office futon attempting to read, I was suddenly assaulted with a mishmash of feelings about my mother – some good, some bad – as they spewed out from their tightly sealed bottle concealed deep within my emotional pantry.  In the background I vaguely recall hearing your frantic paw peddling as you dashed from under your chair-cave in the kitchen, nails scratching and scraping across the linoleum as if you were herding a lone lamb away from a hungry wolf, eliciting a soft whimpering noise as you barreled into the room diving onto the futon.
You used your nose to skillfully pry apart my hands which were sealed tightly over my eyes as if to try and stop the tears from falling.  You whimpered and forced your way through my hand fortress licking my tears and nuzzling my face as if to say “let me stop the pain, it’s ok, it’s OK!”  I pushed you down, yet you persisted until finally, I relented.  You patiently sat by my side while my body’s convulsions slowly dissipated and my mind returned to the here and now.
Now I never had a cat do that.  If I attempted to seek feline consolation I was most often met with aloofness or complete rejection.  I liked this new feeling – of being loved, comforted and not judged.  Even the licks, I mean kisses, were nice.  Was my self-described cat person identity really a projection of the rejection I experienced in my childhood?   Could a dog prove to be a more suitable ally than my therapist?  Certainly she costs less overall.  I don’t have to make an appointment to see her and my therapist would never dare cross the professional boundary and give me a hug, let alone lick away my tears.  Hmmm, this might just work.
So Katie, I owe you a lot.  You have taught me that unconditional love does exist.  It’s OK to have poop issues.  I need to walk daily with you, it calms us both down.  You keep me from hanging out too much inside of my head.  You ask for very little but give so much.  I’m ode to you girl, for bringing me back to life.
Now let’s go chase off that Siamese cat that keeps pooping in our garden.  Please try and refrain from wanting to eat her poop as I see a peanut butter snack in your near future.