“A Good Dog”

Our beloved dog Grace, a 15 year old Australian Shepherd, succumbed last Thursday to a progressive neurological disease that was inhibiting her breathing. While we had thought she had arthritis for the past year, it turns out it was the beginning of the illness along with her arthritis. I am grateful I didn’t know that since she was happy and I was not anticipating her decline. In the end she only dealt with severe symptoms for 10 days. I had hoped she could die naturally at home, but in this disease a dog dies from not being able to breathe. That was appalling, so we chose to use a veterinarian in the end.

Needless to say it has taken a toll on us all. She was a loving member of the family, with us since her days as a rambunctious puppy brought from upstate New York as she slept peacefully in the back seat. At that time she joined our dog Tess, now also gone, and was a great playmate for her. We realized, too late, that we have never had just one dog, so it is very quiet–too quiet–right now.

In a while we will contact the woman active with the Australian Shepherd club and begin the search for another puppy. No dog ever replaces another as we know from having lost four in our marriage. But we are definitely dog people and will be again.

“Shooting the Breeze”

Before it was turned into a “pub,” Home Tavern occupied a spot just off the highway near our old home in Portland. The area had once housed furniture factories, and clearly this was a convenient stopping off place for men to drop in after work. I say men because I only ever saw men there before it turned into a “pub.”The tavern was between our house and the large riverfront park, so I walked by its open door frequently. The small place emitted an unforgettable smell of cigarette smoke and stale beer, an odor I can still bring to mind just writing about it.

I could hear laughing, swearing, yelling and general camaraderie as I passed by. I could only guess what they were talking about, but figured it was raw, opinionated, and generally full of bull. I appreciated that they had their place to vent and relax after work, but I never had to learn their views on women, politics or the world. I didn’t figure I was missing anything.

That entire atmosphere seems to have been recreated on line. Between Facebook posts, tweets, comments to the newspapers and comments on comments, I now feel as if I have walked unwittingly into the Home Tavern. Sadly there is no one around to slap one of the writers on the back laughing at his point of view. Comments that once would have led to “let’s take this out to the street,” are now casually thrown back and forth. Most lacking is humor and a general understanding that it is all bull anyway.

Next time you get caught up in rants on line, imagine them coming from a man on his third beer loudly entertaining his friends at the Home Tavern.