This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Monday, February 21, 2011

How I Got Zack

Well, that's not a very interesting title, is it? But it sort of came to me............LOL
When I met my husband (many moons ago!), his family had 2 dogs, a beagle and a black and white springer spaniel named Bridgie. Bridgie was a dog of the first magnitude! I'd never met a dog like her before and I doubt I'll ever meet another like her again in this life time. She could literally read your mind!! It was uncanny! She and I connected instantly and I think visiting the Haydens was as much about being able to spend time with Bridgie as it was about seeing my boyfriend, John (now my husband). After we were married, John invited my dad to go bird hunting with him and Bridgie. He told my dad, "Watch Bridgie. When she's about to put up a bird, her entire rear end will start wiggling, then she'll turn and look at you for a few seconds which means 'I'm about to put that bird up. Get ready.' And the next thing you'll hear or see is that bird going up. Don't mess up or she gets really mad." My father was amused by this and thought John was pulling his leg. Well.......Pretty soon, my dad sees Bridgie stop and start wiggling that stumpy tail. She turned, looked him in the eyes for a few seconds, and then darted forward. It was so quick that the bird was up and away before my dad could raise his shotgun! My father said he'll never forget what happened next. Bridgie very slowly turned to face my him and gave him this glare that clearly indicated, "You idiot! I TOLD you I was going to put that bird up! How could you miss it?" She locked eyes with him and just GLARED! My husband was laughing uproariously and said, "I TOLD YOU!" For the rest of the afternoon, Bridgie would only look at John before she put up a bird and after John got off the shot, Bridgie would give my dad the look of disgust. Clearly, he had failed her test!!
Bridgie died of cancer in 1976. I was devastated. My husband was in grad school at the time and we lived in a dingy old apartment on the 2nd floor of a house in Burlington, VT. There was no way we could have a dog there but just before Christmas, John called me at work and said he'd like to get me a springer puppy and his parents had agreed to keep it at their farm while he finished up grad school (another 2 years). I was ecstatic! A new pet store had just opened up on Church St. so on my lunch hour, I walked over to see if they had any springer pups. Sure enough.......there sat 2 chubby liver and white bundles of joy! The place was very crowded so I didn't ask if I could hold either of them but simply sat and watched them wrestling and romping around in their cage. The next day I dragged John to the store and asked the clerk if I could hold the pups. He told me that the female had been sold but the male was available. The second that puppy was in my arms, we claimed each other! I could feel his warm little body squirming against my chest and he wouldn't stop licking my face and making little puppy noises about how happy he was to see me! Finally he started contentedly gnawing on my zipper pull. John asked the deciding question....."How much?" When he heard "$400," his face went white and he said, "Give the dog back. We can do better from a private breeder." Need I tell you that my heart was broken?? Or that I cried off and on for days to no avail? Ah, well, such is life...............
Six months later, John again called me at work and said, "Since your birthday is coming up, I'd still like to get you a springer. Why don't you go through the phone book (remember those? LOL) and see if you can find the names of breeders?" Instead, I figured I'd save time and call the Humane Society and ask if they knew of any local springer breeders. I opened my conversation with, "Hi! I'm looking for a springer spaniel and........" I was rudely cut off with the words, "How did you find out about this?" Naturally, I was taken aback and said, "Uh......I have no idea what you're talking about. I just wanted to know if you know any breeders in the area." The tone of the conversation quickly changed from defensive to friendly as I explained about losing Bridgie and wanting another springer and that my dog would be living on a 200 acre farm in southern Vermont, etc. The woman said, "Well, we do have one springer but he's not listed on our flyer because he's not up for general adoption. He has.....uh....some issues. We can't let him go to just anyone." She told me that he was very bull-headed and hard to train. (Hmmm......so are most people. ha ha) I told her I'd love to see him anyway if it was OK. John picked me up from work that evening and we appeared at the Humane Society at the appointed time. The woman said, "Just be prepared because this dog has had a very sad life. He's spent the last six months tied to a wood stove by a short length of rope because his 80 year old owner had no control of him. He's very hyper and has no manners." Totally undeterred, I said, "Ok. Let's see him." She opened the door to the dog's cage but before she could get a grip on his collar, the most beautiful liver and white springer looked at me, burst past the worker, ran down the aisle, and literally launched himself into my arms!!! I got down on my knees and this dog was licking my face and squirming and whining.............
I was smitten! I said, "He's beautiful! Where in the world did he come from?" "Oh," she said, "Some old man bought him at the pet store on Church Street last Christmas." My heart almost stopped beating! It was MY PUPPY!!! The one I'd wanted all along! When I told the woman at the Humane Society, she was incredulous and told me that obviously he was meant to be my dog so "let's go fill out the paper work."
Zack was with us for 8 years. He lived happily on the family farm while John finished grad school and then moved with us to Windsor, Vermont where he was never far from me. We were inseparable at that point. Sadly, Zack inexplicably wandered out of the yard one day
and was hit by a car. I never did figure out why he left the yard - he never did that and I've never quite gotten over it. Even as I'm finishing up typing this, I will admit that I'm in tears. I still miss that old goof ball and I always will.
Go give your dog a hug today!!!!
I miss you, Zack! You were and always will be my anam cara!

Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
-- Agnes Sligh Turnbull

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