Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Canine Memories

Yesterday the Wife and I picked up my Mom and went to lunch (Joe's Cafe in Benson, really good, inexpensive, food). After our lunch we went to the Humane Society to look at dogs.

It has been two and a half year since we had to put down Homer. I thought I'd finally got over it. I still felt sad when I saw a lab but the feelings were less dark and they were short lived. Then I walked along the cages full of dogs, dogs of all sizes, and the dark cloud formed and memories of Homer came flooding back. I still miss Homer. I also had memories of Aldo.

I don't think I've ever talked bout Aldo. I don't think the Wife has either. A couple years before Homer, we got the urge to get a dog so we went to the local animal shelter and looked for a dog to adopt. There we met this dog, a cross between a dog and a sausage, who the Wife described as an old Italian gentleman. We thought it over and we eventually brought him home.  We named him Aldo.

Aldo was a sweet old dog. He wanted to be with you. He seemed happy. That night he slept on the floor beside our bed. The next morning when I took him out he started hacking up large gobs of phlegm. He'd actually had done this the day before but it didn't click that something was wrong until the morning. After contacting the Emergency Animal Hospital, he was diagnosed, over the phone, with Kennel Cough.  The hospital made it sound terrible - they said to bring him in but not to bring him into the building.  They made it sound like a very difficult thing to cure.  Turns out kennel cough is highly contagious but can be cured.  We were naive.  We didn't know.  We took Aldo back to the animal shelter.

Later that afternoon, after several miserable hours, we looked at each other and decided to go back to get Aldo and do what it took to get him better.  Having a pet was a big responsibility and we needed to do what we could for Aldo.   We drove to the animal shelter but it was too late.  The shelter's policy was to euthanize all sick animals.  Returning Aldo to the shelter had sealed his fate.  Aldo was gone.

Aldo had been home for less than twenty-four hours.  I don't think I've ever felt so guilty in my life.  We didn't talk about it.  I never forgot.

Homer came along a few years later.  My enthusiasm for a dog was not as strong as before.  I think a bit of it had died with Aldo.  But I sucked it up and my guilt melted away when I held that little puppy in my hands, the puppy who would grow up to be the Homer Dog.  I became very close to that dog.  Did I walk him enough?  Did I play with him enough?  Did I take him for granted?  When we had to put him down, a bit more of my enthusiasm passed as well and once again I felt guilty.

So here we are again looking for a dog.  The Wife is more enthusiastic than I am.  I don't think I will ever be as enthusiastic as she is ever again.  We looked at three dogs - a black lab mix (a little too rambunctious in need of a lot of attention) and two beagle mixes (one not house broken with daily accidents and the other partially housebroken but with occasional seizures).  All of them were sweet but none were a good match for us.

I know we will find the right dog.  I know my guilt, and heart, will melt once again.  I know memories of Aldo and Homer will fade, but they will never be forgotten.  Maybe this time I will assuage my guilt.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diversions And Distractions

I mentioned in my last post that I would probably start posting about our vacation in a week or two but I overlooked some diversions and distractions that may sideline the trip posts for a while.

The first are the Olympics.  I am not a sports fan but every two years when the Olympics are on I find myself captivated by the competition.  The fact that I've spent some of yesterday and today watching Women's and Men's futball may be a good indication that I will be glued to the tube for the next two weeks.  It may also be in indication that I'm still a bit jet lagged.  One more incentive for me to watch is archery.  In Bhutan we took some time watching the country's national sport, archery, and I think I will have to watch that when it comes on.

The second distraction will be a new dog.  Starting next week we are going to start to look for a dog.  We'll be checking out the Humane Society and a few Rescue organizations in the area.  I'm sure this will generate a post or two over the next few weeks.

I'm not sure how much of a delay there will be.  I've started going through the pictures but I had a huge bout with jet lag yesterday.  Jet lag teamed up with allergies and a caffeine withdrawal to really throw me through a loop.  I was totally exhausted last night.  Hopefully I will be totally detoxed and in sync by the weekend ... in time to get engrossed in the Olympic Games ... so I can restart sifting through all the pictures.  Once that's done I will consider drafting some trip posts.

Until then GO TEAM USA!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Almost Home ...

My body got back from our trip yesterday noon, central standard time.  My mind is still somewhere a hemisphere away.  I don't expect it to get home until the jet lag abates sometime later this week ... I hope.

Our travels took us through China, Nepal, Bhutan, and India as I mentioned last post ... over a month ago ... and it turned out to be an incredible experience.  I had high expectations for the places we were going to see and low expectations about the weather.  To my surprise and, frankly, utter joy, everywhere either met or exceeded my expectations and the weather - it was the middle of monsoon season there - did not interfere with any of our activities ... not a one.

The first half of the trip, the China portion, was with a tour group.  Based on our two previous tours (Peru and Jordan) you either got a good group or you didn't.  It was a 50-50 chance.  Once again luck smiled on us and we ended up with an awesome group of people.

The other half of the trip were private tours - just me, the Wife, a guide, and a driver.  I'd had some apprehension going into this part of our tour.  I like the dynamics of a group.  It turned out that the private tours have their benefits.  We rearranged a few things in Nepal and India that we probably couldn't have done with a group.  So, which is better a group or private?  I think it's a wash ... but I think I prefer groups.

If you've read Homer's Travels for long then you know I can often find the negative in most positive situations.  There were few negatives in this trip.  Three of them stick out in my mind.  The lay over in Chengdu on the way to Kathmandu felt awkward.  Kathmandu, while full of interesting things, came up a little short.  By the time we'd reached India I was starting to run down and I think I didn't tackle the country with the enthusiasm I had in China.

The big surprise for me was how much I liked Bhutan.  I liked it so much I'm hesitant to talk about it as more tourism will eventually spoil the beauty of the place.

I will start posting the details of the trip in a week or so.  I want to go through the over 3,500 pictures I took before I start writing.  Yeah ... That may take me a while.  Patience is a virtue, you know.