The most unkindest cut of all

Wed 04/08/09 at 3:03 pm

Jensen
October 20, 1992 – April 8, 2009

He was, quite simply, the love of my life.


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Joe Joe

Sun 07/13/08 at 8:29 am

I don’t care what the Good Book says
Our Savior said.
No amount of Faith
(mustard seeds notwithstanding)
Can move
An 86-pound greyhound
Splayed, Sphinx-like,
Munching his morning biscuit.

cko
July 5, 2005

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Patsy Quick

Mon 07/02/07 at 8:47 am

April 19. 1995 to July 2, 2006

We’d had Devon, our first greyhound, for a few months. He had been rather morose since we’d brought him home, so we decided he might be happier if we acquired another pack member for him. We called Judy and inquired about the availability of any potential adoptees. A few days later she called to let us know she had extradited “the most beautiful champagne” greyhound she had ever seen from an undesirable situation. For the last six months, he had been relegated to the backyard of his first off-track residence with nothing more than a human pillow for warmth and companionship. We made arrangements to come by and meet him. We arrived at Judy’s midafternoon on a Saturday with Devon in tow. At the time Judy was caring for four or five greyhounds, all of whom came bounding out the door to greet us. Sure enough, one of them was a gorgeous champagne-colored greyhound. On his papers he was named “Patsy Quick.” They called him “Buddy” at the track. We’d been there about 3 minutes when he ran over to our Honda CR-V, the back of which had been left open after letting Devon out. The next thing we knew, Buddy had jumped in and refused to leave. What were we to do?

We brought him home with and named him Dante because we had rescued him from hell. He was high strung, and had some separation issues. He hated thunder and whenever there was a storm, he would seek the safety of “his closet.” About a week into his life with us, he and his brother had an alpha-dog issue. We heard Dante let out a blood-curdling scream, and when we got him into the house, we discovered he had a nice tear in his throat. Off we went to the vet, where we learned the bite had just missed an artery. If that had been severed he would have bled out before we got him to the clinic. Not too long after that incident, he presented one day with an enormous swelling just under his jaw. Back to the vet for more surgery. A biopsy revealed cancer. Our vet told us she’d cleaned around the swelling as best as she could, but told us it was unlikely he would survive the year. Well, he did, and became known as the miracle dog, surviving his older brother Devon, and his after-acquired sister, B’mer, as well as another throat tear and an enlarged spleen.

Two years ago, my brother John came for an extended stay. Dante fell in love with him, and the two of them were inseparable. John would take him and his sister B’mer on long walks almost every day. On the way out he would let them wander and sniff, but on the way back, he would march them home, one on either side. It was a sight to behold.

Shortly after B’mer died, we got Dante a baby brother, Joe Joe. He and Joe had a wonderful year together, and then a year ago today, Dante the beautiful miracle dog finally succumbed — probably to cancer. We miss him, but every time it thunders we know he’s finally found peace.

Dante the greyhound

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B’mer and Joe

Thu 08/04/05 at 1:34 pm

A few years ago, B’mer f/k/a It’s a Hubba Bubba appeared as the featured greyhound in an edition of the Greyhound Companions of New Mexico’s newsletter. We learned that since B’mer’s retirement from the track, and through no fault of her own, she had been placed in three different homes in nearly as many years. She was nine years old and needed somewhere to grow old in peace. Darcy and I couldn’t stand it, so we called Judy Paulson, a representative for Greyhound Companions of New Mexico (http://www.gcnm.org) and a wonderful human being to boot. She’d helped us adopt our two big boys, Devon and Dante, and she was delighted to learn that we wanted to give them an older sister. Judy arranged for us to visit B’mer at her foster home that evening. She turned out to be as advertised, a sweet, darling red head with soulful eyes but who always had a smile on her face. She had a tuft of hair standing straight up on the back of her neck, so we called her our Rhodesian Ridgeback Greyhound. A few months ago my brother came for an extended visit, and he and B’mer became fast friends. He nicknamed her “Maime” because of her resemblance to Maime Eisnehower. All she lacked was a pillbox hat. Last April, at thirteen, B’mer finally succumbed to complications resulting from a degenerative spinal condition.

bmer.jpg

After our first greyhound Devon died (see July 5, 2004 post), we declared, “no more greyhounds.” We planned to attrition back to a family comprised of humans and cats. However, Dante, our remaining greyhound, was devastated by B’mer’s absence from his life. He hated being the only dog. In addition, like B’mer, he had become extremely attached to my brother who was slated to move on to LA in mid-July. And then, on July 9, 2005, Darcy’s birthday, Judy called to say she had just retrieved a boy greyhound from the track who was white with brindle coloring and had “funny ears.” He was only a year and a half old and hadn’t cut it as a racer because all he wanted to do at the track was play. We had spent the week mourning our beloved Devon. (He would have been 10 on July 10.) It seemed like fate, if one ascribes to that sort of thing, so we arranged for Judy to bring Joe over. We loved him. Dante loved him. He learned quickly that the cats don’t want to play. The balance has been restored.

joedante.jpg
Joe & Dante

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Jensen!

Fri 05/27/05 at 11:33 am

I’m as yet unwilling to call myself a writer, but I think I’ve progressed far enough in my craft to call myself a wordsmith. I have a decent vocabulary and the ability to string words together in such a way as to communicate some meaning to others via the printed page. But when I start to think about what it would take for me to consider myself a writer, my thoughts usually turn to Jensen. A writer would be able to use words in such a way that a reader would “get” him — would capture his essence and convey the wonder of him. And who is this Jensen? The Linnaean hierarchy categorizes him as a member of the kingdom of animalia, the phylum of chordate(vertebrata), the class of mammalia, the order of carnivore, the family of felidae, the genus of felinae (profelis), the species of felis catus, the breed of Cornish Rex. In a word, Jensen is a cat.

According to Encarta, the first Cornish Rex, a cream-colored male, was born in a litter of five barn kittens in Cornwall, England, in 1950 — hence, “Cornish.” “Rex” because of the rabbits the owner once had raised. Every Cornish Rex in existence can trace its origins back to this anomalous boy-kitty, named Kallibunker. See, e.g., www.petnet.com. Rexes have certain distinguishing characteristics. They only have under fur (no guard hairs), so their coat is exceptionally soft, with mercel-like waves. The lack of guard hairs also means their body temperature is as much as 10 degrees higher than what is otherwise normal for cats. They have large ears and roman noses. They like to talk, a lot. They look delicate, but in truth they are strong and sinewy. They are tiny — Jensen, for instance, has topped out at 7 pounds.

Jensen was born on October 20, 1992. His registered name is Beaconwood Desert Chief, but he was known around the cattery as Beaconwood. Like his ancestor Kallibunker, he is a cream tabby with orange eyes. My brother got Jensen as a 40th birthday present. John and his then-partner Jim drove up to Connecticut one April weekend in 1993 and brought Jensen back to reside with John in his East 52nd studio apartment with a breath-taking view of the East River. As they drove down 7th Avenue, John spotted an old painted sign on the side of a building that read “Jensen Lewis Awning Company.” And the kitten had a name.

I first met Jensen shortly thereafter, and, for me, it was love at first sight. Jensen was fairly feral in those days. He didn’t mind being petted, but forget about holding him. Any attempt to do so would be met by a fierce struggle that ended with him leaping out of one’s arms and running for cover. He was, however, extremely fond of playing fetch with his little toy mice. John would throw one and Jensen would go careening full speed after it and pounce on his prey. He would then pick it up in his mouth, walk over to my brother, and deposit the mouse in front of him for another throw. He never tired of this activity. Given his penchant for fetch, I sometimes refer to him as “dog-kitty.”

When next we met, John had moved to a one-bedroom apartment on 14th between 5th and 6th. As noted above, Rexes have a need to communicate their presence often and loudly — especially in the early hours of the morning. For that reason, the kitchen served as Jensen’s bedroom, and a blanket atop the refrigerator as his bed. I would awaken in the morning, stumble into the kitchen to start the coffee, and there he would be — staring at me from his perch. I would melt, every time. John and Jensen lived contently in Manhattan for the next few years. In 1997, circumstances made it difficult for John to keep Jensen. He asked if I would take him. I readily assented, and so he and Jensen boarded a jet plane for Albuquerque. I met them at the airport, and I will never forget when Jensen’s Kennel Kab finally emerged through the flaps on the oversized luggage conveyor belt. He was wide-awake, lying on his refrigerator blanket. We took him home, and my life (and his) has never been the same.

Suddenly, everyone and everything looked like Jensen. To this day anyone who knows me well knows the answer to my inquiry, “What does he/she/it look like?” is, “Jensen!” Everything he did was a delight. I still love to watch him drink water from a slowly streaming faucet or gobble up his hairball pounce. When I’m home, we’re inseparable (unless he is being a carnivore and catnapping or communing with his fellow feline siblings). He follows me from room to room, and sit-sleeps on my keyboard shelf when I work on the computer. In the beginning, if he stayed asleep too long, I would go over to him and ask in a loud voice, “Are you SLEEPIN’?,” so he would wake up and pay attention to me. A couple years ago he just went deaf one day, so that no longer works. I can now pick him up and hold him for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. It took a few years, but eventually I actually got him to sleep in my lap and to sleep with me at night. One other characteristic I failed to mention above is that Rexes incisors and canines are three times larger than other cats. A couple times a year, Jensen had a nasty habit of biting me, without warning, on the hand or forearm, inflicting deep puncture wounds. Hence, his nick/surname, Lestat. The last time he bit me, I ended up in the hospital for five days on antibiotic IVs. That’s when we finally pulled his teeth.

I could go on regaling you with stories of this creature. How at least once a day he becomes “thunder kitty,” pounding up and down the stairs at breakneck speed. How he adores his sleeping tent we dubbed his “yurt,” as he acquired it around the time we invaded Afghanistan. How he wanders around the house crying long and loud when he can’t find me. But that’s not the point of this entry. The point is that while I could perhaps tell you all about Jensen, I still don’t have the words to communicate what, exactly, Jensen is about. How, for instance, without ever meeting him you would understand why people always speak his name as though there is an exclamation point at the end.

Someday, perhaps, I will find the words and have the ability to arrange them in perfect syntax so that reading them will fire the neurosynapses so as to evoke the feeling, the music, the mathematical perfection (or whatever it is) that explains Jensen!. For that to happen though, I must be more than a writer; I must be a poet. Until then, a picture is worth . . .

jensen!
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The Dog With the Backwards Ears

Mon 07/05/04 at 9:21 pm

“What can you say about an eight-year-old dog who crossed Bifrost just five days shy of his ninth birthday? That he was handsome and elegant. That he loved squeaky toys and walks, bananas, and us.”

He was our companion. Our familiar. We will miss him. Big.

In Memoriam
Devon f/k/a Tiawah Big Horn
July 10, 1995 – July 5, 2004

Devon

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