Tuesday, February 14, 2012


My post today is a newspaper column that I wrote in Maryland during February, 2000. You'll notice that my life has changed quite a bit since then.

Valentine's Day will be here soon and the sight of all those heart-shaped boxes of candy in the stores makes me want to open my mouth.

While it's open so I can pop in a little chocolate, ever-so-delicately of course, I think I'll share a secret with you, my closest friends. I know you're my closest friends because, as far as I can tell, you're the only ones who read my writing.

OK, so I have one friend who says she watches for my byline in the paper.

Anyway, the first part of my secret is that I'm in love.

Now let's enjoy a little more chocolate, perhaps something mint-flavored, and I'll tell you the second part. My new love is not my husband.

(***Note: It's not that I don't love my husband, David. I might as well. I have to keep him. Early in our marriage, David and I came up with three reasons we could never get divorced. They must have worked because we're still together after more than 20 years. I quite often share these reasons, as follows, with newlyweds, and I encourage them to come up with their own three reasons:
1) We don't have time to get divorced.
2) Nobody else would have either one of us, and we know it.
3) David's mother -- now think of the shrillest, most grating voice you've heard and magnify it a million times to imagine my mother -in-law -- would say, "I knew it would never last. I just knew it." The fear of that voice keeps us together more than anything else ever could. But back to my new love.)

My darling has a fuzzier face than my husband's. His beard drips every time he drinks water. His breath is pretty bad. He nips me sometimes when we're kissing. He drools. His gas makes my eyes water. He's even left a few puddles around the house of what my daughter calls "liquid sunshine."

Yet I pronounce myself totally and utterly besotted. Cupid has zonked me with his arrow. I adore this dog of a fellow, adopted from the Washington County Humane Society.

Kesey (pronounced Kee-zee, with two long e sounds) is a bearded collie, about five-years-old. I named him for Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. With his gray and white coat, he bears a marked resemblance to the aging author.

I had to give Kesey a new name because I wouldn't use his name from his old life for my worst enemy. Suffice it to say, he wasn't well treated.

In spite of his past, he's sweet and loving. When I arrive home after slaving over a hot newsroom computer, Kesey erupts into a full-body wag.

He has thrown all 40-pounds of himself into his new life with us. Kesey is no mere dog: He is a life-force. He flies through the snow, urging our dignified smooth collie, Faulkner, to romp with him until Faulkner is so exhausted that he has to settle down for a nap, while Kesey continues to play.

He can't remove one toy from the doggie toy basket; He has to tip over the entire basket and dump out all the toys before he selects one.

He runs through the house, using his sense of smell to search for our three cats. They don't have too much trouble staying out of his way. He can't see them very well, for this fearless, playful, loving guy is going blind.

I knew he should be part of our family as soon as I learned he was losing his sight. Some friends have told me how nice I am to adopt this poor little dog. People can go right ahead and have nice thoughts about me, but the truth is that we need Kesey more than he needs us.

Faulkner, whose herding instincts surface quite easily, has become Kesey's guide dog, providing Faulkner with a job. My husband needed Kesey because he didn't have a leash to hold when he accompanied me on walks with Faulkner.

And I needed Kesey because I need to love, more and more all the time. My love for Kesey doesn't mean I have less love to give. The more I love others --- animals, people, and sometimes the two are combined in one form -- the more I'm able to love.

Love: I recommend it highly -- along with chocolate consumption. Both feel awfully good.

Share the secret and have a happy Valentine's Day.

How strange it is to look back at my life in 2000. I had no idea I would be divorced and alone in 2012 and my "husband" would be married to someone else. And look at what I wrote about my mother-in-law, who has been so generous and sympathetic since I told her her son had left me. She was disappointed in him and offered me financial assistance immediately. Sadly, I don't have a photo of Kesey to share with you because I left most of the heavy photo albums in Illinois. I had no idea my ex-husband would deny me access to them in the future. 

Kesey lived with us for about five years. His health was never the best because he had been abused and neglected before we adopted him. He didn't completely recover from that phase in his life, but he was a very happy dog. Then one Saturday, he couldn't walk properly. I think he had a stroke. We took him to an emergency vet clinic, but they couldn't save his life. My ex-husband buried him in our backyard garden in Illinois.

After he died, we took him out to our car and I cried so hard I could barely stand up. He was still warm, and I stroked his fur until we arrived at our home and he went to his grave. But I knew he was in Heaven and no longer blind.

I look forward to seeing Kesey, Faulkner, and our hound, Thoreau, in the future.



  1. Things do have a way of changing... I'm glad you had Kesey in your life. Maybe he helped you learn what true love can really be, the kinds of faults that are reasonable to accept in your true love (bad breath, blindness...), versus the kind that are not (meanness, fault-finding....) Kesey sounds like a real stand-up guy. :)

  2. Dear Janie,
    What a lovely tribute to Kesey you wrote back in 2000 and again today. Perhaps because he's been abused, he loved you even more than he would have. And how tender is the scene of your holding him and bringing him home to bury. This brought back to me my own loss of those cats with whom I've lived--Bartleby, Dulcy, Tybalt, Laz, Jeremiah, Noah, Eliza Doolittle, and Raissa--all of whom have gone before me into the Presence of the Holy Oneness of All Creation. Thank you for these thoughts.


  3. LegalEagle, Kesey was definitely a stand-up guy.

    Stephanola, Now I can't stop thinking about Donnie Osmond singing, And they called it puppy looooove . . .

    Dee, Your lovely comment brought tears to my eyes. I do think dogs and cats who have suffered appreciate our love even more. I love the names of your cats, and I know you will be reunited with them.

  4. Another note about Kesey: After I wrote this column about him, the Humane Society asked if he could be part of their fundraising effort later in the year. They wanted a photo of Kesey, preferable with a person. One of the photographers with whom I worked took photos of Kesey with The Hurricane. She was a freshman in high school. Their photo was in the fundraising letter that went out all around the county. It was then that I found out how horribly Kesey had been treated and saw photos of his "home" that were used in court against the creature who owned him. A good friend of mine at the paper wrote the article about the abuse case. She was extremely disappointed that the article was shortened considerably and did not include all the details of what he had suffered. She had no idea that Kesey had become my dog. When I spoke to her about it, she said the officer from the humane society told the judge that Kesey was in a new home where he was loved and got lots of attention. Because of that article, I knew the name of the officer who rescued him. I called her to thank her, and ultimately, it led to Kesey becoming the poster child for the local humane society.

  5. Dogs are the best, love mine totally!

  6. Yes, My Dear Mrs. Tuna, dogs are definitely the best.

  7. How lucky you & Kesey were to have found each other! And your experience with your ex-husband & mother-in-law should teach you never to say never.

  8. fishducky, Maybe I should live in never-never land.

  9. I'm so glad your mother-in-law has been a good support and my heart aches that Kesey wasn't there to be your true Valentine this year. (although, he would have been super old by now, in dog years)

  10. Maggie, I miss Kesey, but I miss every one of my dogs who has preceded me to Heaven, especially Faulkner. I look forward to seeing them again. For now, I still have Harper and Scoutie and Franklin. Harper and Scout love to cuddle in bed and Frankie gives the best kisses ever. I've tried to tell my mother-in-law (and father-in-law) how much I appreciate them, but my words seem poor and puny next to their actions.

  11. Well as you know I am more of a cat person.

    But I like to think that I will see all the animals we've lost over the years again.

    If I never get to be the crazy cat lady in this life then I will in the next.

  12. I love cats, too. When FYM and a girlfriend lived here for a while, we had ten dogs. I really was the crazy dog lady then.


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