Happy Father’s Day

Friday was one of the toughest days ever.  On our way to Doggie Fun Land (the dog park in Ferrysburg) Sue got VERY excited in the car.  Now Pal is a great car rider, he just lays down and takes a nap knowing that there will be excitement when we get where we are going.  Sue on the other hand is always excited, and knows that we’d get there faster if I would just let her drive.  But on this occasion Sue was beyond excited – she was nearly out of her mind.

As we turned the corner, I saw why she was in such a state.  We pulled into traffic behind Dad’s old car and the folks who bought it from us.  Sue had heard Dad’s car and KNEW that was where her Daddy was.  Soon, they turned one way while we kept on another way.  The keening sound that Sue made cut through me like a million sharp knives.  I don’t think that anything has ever hurt me so badly as the sound that she made, knowing that she was in pain and wanted to be with her Daddy.  I was so impacted that I had to pull over and gather myself before I could drive any further.

Of course, Sue being a dog, she lives in the moment.  So by the time we got to Doggie Fun Land, she was ready to run and play.  I wish I could have recovered as quickly.

Today, Father’s Day, was the toughest holiday since Dad passed.  It was even tougher than Thanksgiving, Christmas, Dad’s birthday, or mine.  Since my younger brother

John with Barkley and Alexander

John with Barkley and Alexander

John passed away in 2004, Father’s Day has been a special occasion for Dad, Sue, & I.  This year, with just Sue, Pal, and I it seemed a very lonely day.

If you know me, then you know how dearly I loved, and still love, my father.  If you don’t know me, then words can never tell you.

But I want to share these words anyway.  In 2007 I was still working part time at WGHN– and of course I was working on Father’s Day.  Before I left for work that morning, I placed a card and a pile of gifts on the dining room table.  I also left him a note.  The note is reproduced below, without any further comment.

Mel and his first puppy Sue

Mel and his first puppy Sue

Dad,

I know that I’m doing more for Father’s Day this year than what we’ve traditionally done.  Partially that’s because I’m so grateful for all that you’ve done for me, and partially because I’m a little guilty about how little I’ve done for you.  Certainly some of it is a side effect of how scared I was about losing you in February.  But mostly it is just because I love you.

You’ve always seemed superhuman to me.  The strength of your character and the gentleness of your nature still inspire awe in me.  And when I look back from the lofty heights of my 47 years (yes, you should read some sarcasm in that) at how much you had accomplished in life by age 47, and how little I have accomplished, I am humbled.

Probably the single greatest thing that you did for both John and I was that you allowed us the space to be children when we were children and that you allowed us even more space to be our own selves when we became adults.  Recently I’ve thought a lot about that, and how I haven’t really given the same back to you.  I’ve always expected perfection from you.  And while you generally deliver on that score, I let myself become frustrated and even angry when those occasions arise when you are simply a human being.  That isn’t fair, and it isn’t right.  It has been a limiting factor in our tremendous friendship, and I am sorry for all the times that I’ve allowed my attitude to impact our relationship.

I know that you aren’t some comic book superhero who always does right.  I know that you are simply a man who always tries to do right.  And that is a far more precious and valuable thing.  I know that you forgive me for this, you always do – and I appreciate your indulgence more than I’ll ever be able to say or even show.  I will try harder to allow you the space to be your own self, and a human being.  But there will always be a little corner of myself that enjoys pretending that you really are that comic book superhero.

I wrote this all down and stuck it in a card for you to read while I am at work so that we could avoid one of those awkward, mushy moments.  But that doesn’t make it any less real.  Thank you for being my father, I love you.  Happy Father’s Day!

What I Want For Christmas

Sue tells Santa her Christmas Wish

Sue tells Santa her Christmas Wish

Another year is coming to a close, and it actually finds me in a pretty good situation.  Dad & I are together – taking care of each other and our Irish Setter, Sweet Sue.  And I don’t dare forget the cat, who is doing well but would punish me in the middle of the night if I forgot to mention her.

For those very few of you out there who are wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, I have only one suggestion or request.  Since I have pretty much everything I need or want; I’m asking you instead of buying me a gift to make a donation to Save Our Setters.

We have been fostering dogs for them since the fall.  We are on our third one.

Foster Girl Danni

Foster Girl Danni

Danni, the little girl who had been used as bait in a dog fighting ring came out of her shell and found a perfect forever home in Wisconsin.

Foster Boy Hunter

Foster Boy Hunter

Hunter, the very handsome Irish Red and White Setter who was a stray in the U.P. found a perfect home (and a new name – Conner) on the eastern side of Michigan.  And little Codie Joe, who’s family had to surrender him when they lost their home in the mortgage crisis is still here with us.  Hopefully once the holiday activities settle down somebody will turn up who wants this

Foster Boy Codie Joe

Foster Boy Codie Joe

beautiful boy to brighten their lives.

Save Our Setters is an amazing all volunteer organization that absolutely performs miracles for the dogs.  If you haven’t checked out the story

Cloud learns to use a cart

Cloud learns to use a cart

of Cloud – the Dog that Could you really should.  It will warm your heart.

Save Our Setters has placed nearly 150 Setters into their forever homes in 2008.  That in itself is an amazing and heartwarming fact.  But the sad part is that they have received in excess of 500 intake requests from Setters in need.

That

Cloud stands on his own

Cloud stands on his own

boggles my little mind.  Somewhere out there in the past year 500 families decided that they either couldn’t, or worse – wouldn’t, continue to care for one of these beautiful animals.  Thank goodness that organizations like Save Our Setters exist to help.  Sue and I would both appreciate it if you could do something to help them help the animals.  Financial contributions are tax deductible and will make you feel good about yourself.  The link to make a donation via PayPal as well as the address to mail a check (and a list of other ways you can help) are all available here.

Even if you don’t know me or like me enough to want to give me a gift, you can of course still contribute to Save Our Setters.  And if for some unfathomable reason you don’t like Irish Setters – please Google up the name of a breed that you do like along with

Sue wishes you a Merry Christmas

Sue wishes you a Merry Christmas

the word “rescue” and you will find a number of other breed specific rescues that also need your help.  Or you could just donate money, time, or other resources to your local Humane Society or animal shelter.

That would make my Christmas very merry indeed.  Thank you.

The HUNTER Experience

 

Hunter is our latest foster dog.

Hunter is our latest foster dog.

I haven’t been able to blog, or do much of anything, lately.  HUNTER is the reason why.  HUNTER is our latest foster dog for Save Our Setters.

He is an extremely handsome Irish Red & White Setter.  He has been neutered comes to us extremely well educated.  HUNTER is housebroken.  He has mastered “Sit,” “Down,” “Stay,” “No,” and “Heel.”  He is absolutely beautiful at heel and he is just a joy to walk with.

keep reading…

DANNI has been Adopted!

 

DANNI is ready to go meet her forever family

DANNI is ready to go meet her forever family

Our foster girl DANNI has been adopted!  Save Our Setters has lined up what seems to be a perfect forever home for DANNI.  I will be delivering her to her new family on Saturday.

 

While Dad & I are of course a bit sad about DANNI leaving us, we are thrilled to see her go to a great home and a great family.  

SUE and DANNI share a game of Rope

SUE and DANNI share a game of Rope

SUE will miss her little foster sister as well.  

 

DANNI’s story is a great success story for animal rescue in action.

But the story does not begin and end with this success.  Unfortunately the supply of abandoned dogs at shelters, hoping against hope to be adopted before their time runs out, vastly exceeds the capacity of the rescue system.  We will be picking up a new dog to foster for Save Our Setters on the way home from delivering DANNI.

Thankfully Save Our Setters, and many other groups like them, are doing what can be done to stem the tide.  Ultimately though, only the continuing education of dog owners will put an end to the need to kill so many abandoned dogs on a daily basis.

But enough of that.  For the rest of DANNI’s time with Dad, SUE, & I we are going to be celebrating DANNI’s success!

Rope Wars

While I’m on the subject of overly indulgent video of our Irish Setters here is some badly barely edited footage of the one-eyed wonder SUE locked in mortal combat with foster girl DANNI for possession of the world’s greatest prize – the Rope!

They really can do this for hours at a time, so please forgive me for not editing it down further.  I hope you enjoy this.

DANNI is available for sponsoring, or you can apply to adopt at Save Our Setters.

Surviving Danni’s First Week

 

DANNI is available for adoption.

DANNI is available for adoption.

One week ago today we picked up DANNI.  DANNI is an Irish Setter that we are fostering for Save Our Setters, an Irish Setter rescue organization.

For an Irish Setter, DANNI is absolutely tiny. She stands just 18-inches high at the top of her shoulder and weighs less than 32 pounds. Our vet thinks that her small size is due to malnutrition as a puppy.

The scars on her muzzle

The scars on her muzzle

She has a number of scars on her muzzle and a very large scar on her left hind leg.  These would indicate that she was badly attacked at some point, probably by a larger dog.

DANNI came to us from a shelter in Alabama, so we don’t know much about her past.

This is the large scar on her leg

This is the large scar on her leg

  It is obvious that she is very skittish.  When I first picked her up, I had to carry her out to the car, as she was trembling too much to walk on her own power.  When I got her home, I had to carry her in the house for the same reason.

She does not seem to have any issues with people.  She rode in the car beautifully, snuggled up against my leg with her head in my lap.  When I carried her into the house, I put her on Dad’s lap where she immediately fell asleep.  She gets along great with the people that we meet on our walks – including kids from the ages of 4 to 13.  On Thursday I took her to meet “Cousin Vi.”  “Cousin Vi” is my grandmother’s cousin, a very spirited young lady who is 103-years old and lives on her own.  Vi and DANNI immediately charmed the heck out of each other.

keep reading…