Life with Dogs-Part 8: We Love Lucy

Every kid needs a pet.

I knew I was lucky to grow up with dogs and wanted the same for my boys. Lucy made our family complete.

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Even though I insisted we get a female dog so there’d be another b**** in our House of Boyz, Lucy had all the skills they admired.

She was good at messing around in boats,

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She had the patience to fish,fishingweb

She loved to snorkel,
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and most important, she had game.

She never tired of the game of catch-of trying to catch the baseball, and of chasing it down when it got away.

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Lucy was becoming an excellent new muse.

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Life with Dogs-Part 7: We meet A New Puppy

Our long, dog-less drought finally ended with a puppy.

I knew it was time.

B&R were independent and ready to help care for another creature. I tried to find another Vermont farm dog like Pumpkin, but when that didn’t work, I followed a lead to a breeder in Maine.

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We 1st met Lucy in southern Quebec. Her mother was appearing in a Sheep Dog trial and we drove up to see a tiny, 8 week old pup. Then we waited and waited for a month until she was 12 weeks old.

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I wanted my boys to have the experience of raising a baby; chewed shoes, baseballs, flowerpots and all.

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It’ll be fun to watch as Lucy grows up and become a book character in her own right.

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Life With Dogs-Part 6: Creatures Between the Dog Years

In 1992, Pumpkin died from old age at my mom’s house in Vermont.

I entered the longest dog-less period of my life.

 

When my boys were little I didn’t want

one       more       single      solitary      thing

to care for. Not even a house plant.

 

Cut flowers were too much trouble.

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It was lucky that Pumpkin, as my alter ego, was far more energetic and willing to entertain.

In her world we were visited by frogs,

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Lobsters,

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sheep,
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chickens, and

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Beavers!

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Life with Dogs-Part 5: Two Children, no Dog

It was amazing how easy it was for Pumpkin to love babies when she didn’t have to live with one.babyRoweb

A few months after the visit to Mesa Verde, Rowan was born. Pumpkin was happily living at Camp Stoneledge with my mom and never knew she needed to be jealous all over again. ash&roinfant

Suddenly my canine alter ego enjoyed having two little boys around as much as I did.

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But more peace at home didn’t mean all was right with the world. The adventure continues…

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Life with Dogs (Short Side Trip to the southwest)


I am traveling in Colorado and Utah this week, hiking in some of the great western National Parks.

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Today I climbed down to the Cliff Palace, a cluster of dwellings of at least 150 rooms built below the rim of the mesa in a rock alcove. These structures were built of hand-shaped sandstone blocks, cemented together with mud. They were built between 1200 and 1270 AD in Mesa Verde, CO. The last time I was here was 24 years ago, in the spring of 1990. I was 5 months pregnant with my 2nd child.
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As usual,  Pumpkin acted as my alter ego, grinding corn with a stone on a Metate with her baby strapped to a cradleboard nearby.
The scenery and architecture of the south west bowled me over and when I got home I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I revised the setting for the book I was working on: A Garden Alphabet by Isabel Wilner. The gardener, who looks an awful lot like Pumpkin lives in an adobe house with a kitchen hung with strings of drying chilis called ristras.
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And after a hard day in their desert garden, the gardener and her friend the frog relax in the shade.

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Life with Dogs, and One Child- Part 4: dé·tente

Eventually  we all settled into detente.

Finding a photo from these years with both Pumpkin and Brennan in it is a challenge. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t images.

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 I painted several that illustrated the tensions between toddler and dog.
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And just as Pumpkin finally began to adjust to one child around the house, I became pregnant with another.
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 This new person was strong and liked to do his tumbling act whenever I needed a steady hand.
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By the summer of 1990, we were in the  last weeks and Pumpkin and I were feeling heavy and tired.

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Meanwhile, over in Bookland, I was illustrating Isabel Wilner’s A Garden Alphabet. Pumpkin is the gardener and her best buddy is a frog.

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That rude frog laughed right along with Brennan when I broke the rope hammock in my 9th month.
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Knowing what was coming, I made the hard decision to leave Pumpkin at “Camp Stoneledge,” aka my mom’s house, in Vermont. She was 13 now, and touchier around Brennan than ever.

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 But with Border Collies Ben (left) and Flora (right) as housemates she thrived and lived another 2 years.

Life with Dogs- Part 3: Introducing the Dog to the Baby

brennanbabyThough Pumpkin is holding THE BABY, I actually gave birth to him.

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Pumpkin was not happy.

She had never liked children and , while still loyal to me, she had nothing to say to the little stranger in our midst.

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The eyes say it all.

Nevertheless, I pretended that she liked Brennan and that they got along fine, or at least okay.

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Pumpkin was allowed to express my conflicted feelings about motherhood–with humor and no sniveling.

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But it was obvious that they were never going to be friends.

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Meanwhile, over in Bookland, they have started appearing together too. in Block City, by Robert Louis Stevenson, still pregnant Ashley climbs the stairs.  Brennan, now born, holds my cape. Pumpkin looks on.

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Maybe they’ll be friends here…

 

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