… on the scamp and birthdays

The Scamp

I looked it up.

Scamping is being mischievous in an endearing, a playful, or naughty way.

Actually, I don’t think ‘scamping’ is a word.

Scamp is though. And Marshal Dillon Dingle is one. Hence, when Marshal is being Marshal, he is – indeed – scamping. That just makes sense.

You know that term in the rescue world, ‘failed foster’? The one that is used to describe a dog (or cat, bird, alligator…) that is placed in a foster home and then never leaves? Well, Marshal was more of a … failed sleepover.

And because he showed up so soon – literally a week – after I said goodbye to my soul dog, my heart was not ready, and kept its distance. No, I did not withhold snuggles! Of course not, he was a puppy fer Gawd’s sake…. how could I resist?

Puppy Marshal Dillon Dingle

But the universe sent him for JoHn, who had waited so long for his next soul dog to find him. And they fell in love pretty much instantly, as happens in such situations, and have been pathetic adorable ever since.

The other day, Blaze turned six… where did that time go?! She came to us as a twelve week old back in 2011, a little darlin’ with a collar in royal purple (what else?) who immediately took charge of our house, and everyone in it. And when she has a birthday, we know that the following August, Marshal will have one. This means he will turn five in just a few months. And that is a really really good thing because a long time ago we projected how old he would be when he finally calmed down.

Which is nine.

So now people think we are being oddly political around here because we are chanting “Four. More. Years!” a lot, and it’s not even August.

To be respectful of those of us who are sick of politics, perhaps we might want to make up some t-shirts saying ‘No, no, no… we’re cheering for Marshal’s potential maturity, please don’t hit us’, or something. 

Marshal’s blurry response to ‘grow up!’

Blaze celebrated her birthday in typical Blaze style, a few official appearances with some foreign dignitaries flown in (Mac and Jack came home). All and all just another jewel in her crown. She really is a people’s princess.

But, you know how sometimes a happening or smell or quote or something will trigger a memory, good or bad, and you’re all like ‘whoa!’.

Well one of those memories thwapped me upside the head the other day, when I realized it was her birthday, and went to check her puppy contract to be certain. Sure enough, it was her birthday and, sure enough, she was six.

It was like I was on one of those supersonic train thingies flying backwards station after station and suddenly…

It was 2005, and I was in an exam room with our vet, Dr. Smith. On the wall was a poster warning us of the danger that obesity posed to dogs. I remember I found it perfect, and funny, that the creators of the poster decided to use a lab as their example dog. I thought they had to use graphics, vs. photos, because I’ve never seen a too-skinny lab. I didn’t say that though because I think that fat shaming would be politically incorrect in a doctor’s office.

I waited until I was home to laugh about it with JoHn.

Anyway, I was there with my beautiful, wonderful nanny-ShepHerd, Ripley – the dog who helped me raise my kids. My heart dog, my first ShepHerd… my girl.

She’d rocked her exams – eyes, ears, coat, paws – and was calm as could be through her required vaccinations. And then Dr. Smith turned to his treat jar and back to Rip. He scratched her between the ears, gave her the treat, and knelt down in front of her, with his hands on massaging her shoulders and said, “Yep, solidly in middle age. Good girl.”

What the fuh…

Who says that to a lady when they are within earshot? Hello! She was right in the room!

I was actually really irritated.

Okay, fine.

It wasn’t because Ripley might have been insulted (though I can’t say for sure), but more because she was six… SIX…. she was still a puh… well okay not a puppy but she was still a young…. okay she wasn’t totally on the young side but she was… she was…

She was not half way through her life!

I was planning on way more than six more years – way more.


The laws of physics and cell transmogrification and stuff had other plans though.

And cancer took my girl away from me in just under five.

After that memory jog, I spent a bit of time with Blaze on the afternoon of her birthday, tracing her now-greying muzzle with my index finger. Telling her she was a pretty cool chick, you know, for a royal.

I asked her to stick around for as long as she could, careful not to ‘should’ (wouldn’t want to apply undue pressure). She is, after all, a dog.

And I know she will be here until her job is done…

And done well.

Happy birthday, girl.


Thanks for readin’.

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