Spike's Letter From Heaven
Lake San Marcos is a definintely a 'pet-friendly' community. Everyone expected to see Spike on his daily walk. We shall miss him dearly!
Pets are often times the center of
our lives. Spike, my dog, was a one
of the LOCAL REGULARS here in Lake San Marcos.
Even though this is not real-estate related, it is
certainly related to everyone who has ever
had a pet, loved a pet, or lost a pet.
In honor of all our loved pets, please
enjoy HIS Story
"Unleash My Heart, Spike’s Memoir"
I wiggled slightly to the left, instinctively pulling a paw to my right eyelid. It was matted shut from the moisture. I batted it a few times, prying it halfway open. Where was this place? Alvy, my mistress, had taken me everywhere with her in the past ten years, but never here. Never! I began to look around, cautiously. I licked my paw, spreading the salty mixture across my lips. I licked it again. Oh, no! I recognized that taste. Her tears.
I jerked my head around.
That voice? Not hers; but almost. And that face! Oh, yes, I recognized it. It was the face, the one from the hallway in our house with the sparkly beads and the gold cross wrapped around the frame. Madeline! That was it, her mother, Madeline. What was she doing here, and where was Alvy?
"Your crossing was exceptional," Madeline’s whisper fluttered past my ears, circling my neck. Soothing hands stroked the fur along my spine, melting into the base of my tail. Dare I wag it, I thought to myself? No, that would be disloyal. Not until Alvy arrived. Then it would be okay. Yes, I told myself, as soon as she showed up things would be fine.
Comforted by Madeline’s touch, I sank into her warmth, yielding as she pulled me gently onto her lap. She nuzzled her white cheeks against mine, and the smell of lilacs and fresh mown grass permeated the air. I inhaled deeply, immersing myself in that sweetest of scents. Consumed by memories, I spiraled down the vortex, plummeting to yesterday’s door.
It was our nightly ritual; Alvy soaking in perfumed bubbles, delightfully laughing, me swatting at the foam, and all of us carrying on. Us being Tex, the family dog, Alvy, and of course me, Spike, the man of the family. Just us three. Why we had to get a dog was beyond me?
It all started about six years ago. I had been going to the office with her for four years, every day, day-in and day-out. It was pretty cool. My job didn’t entail much. No answering phones, no paperwork, no meeting clients. Well, there was that one time when I slipped out of the office and ended up by accident in the conference room. But that’s another story, maybe for later. Anyway, I roamed around the office at will, taking an occasional snooze in my designer kennel. It was first-class, with a fur-lined mattress, and plenty of room to take my afternoon snooze. When Myrna, our home warranty representative, would visit, about once a month, I would go wild because she always brought me a new present that squeaked. She was my favorite, and I often fantasized about her and soft plastic toys. Sometimes I would go down to escrow and camp out with Jan, the escrow officer, for a few hours. Her desk drawers were filled with treats, and I loaded up my belly like a starving coyote.
Once in a while I would get into mischief. I don’t know why I did it, probably just boredom. Somebody would leave a purse on the floor and the smell of spearmint gum or homemade brownies would lure me. I raided pocket-books on numerous occasions, and usually managed to get the ‘goods’ before getting busted. Once I got into lipstick by mistake. Disastrous!
Yes, I lived a coveted life, until one ominous afternoon when a mean-spirited woman invaded my territory. She marched like a soldier, clicking her high heels and pacing through each office, making nasty, tsk tsk clicking sounds with her tongue. I hunkered down in my kennel, wishing I were invisible, my Harvey the Rabbit impression. I was unsuccessful. Two days later they packed me up, and back to our condo I went, depressed. Apparently there was some official letter about animals being in violation of the lease. Animals? I’d never seen any. It was all very confusing.
Shortly after this incident, Alvy started to scout for a family dog. A dog, for God’s sake! Just what we needed, some creature who smelled like wet gym socks, barked at strangers, and shredded slippers to bits. From animal shelter to animal shelter we scoured, then on to the newspapers and the internet. How hard could this be? Really!
They called him Tex. Now we didn’t live anywhere near Texas, and he wasn’t sporting a Stetson or wearing boots, so even his name was irritating. He had weird eyes that kind of bugged out, and a short snout. With ‘papers’, he touted to be some superior breed that guarded royalty and their castles four-hundred years ago. Not exactly handsome from my perspective! Before he unpacked, he’d better start working on his personality, because his looks sure weren’t going to get him very far, not in Southern California. My mistress claimed he would be good company for me when she went to the office. Good company? Maybe I was missing something here, but good company was a friendly person with a leftover steak and a propensity for long walks. I didn’t want to shake her up though. She was already upset that I had to stay home, so I copped a fake attitude, pretending to like him. After all, he was only a dumb dog, so I tolerated him to in order to please her. Oddly enough, over time he actually grew on me, and eventually we became buddies.
It wasn’t long after that before more life-altering changes took place. A monstrous moving truck pulled up to the curb one morning, and a couple of big burly guys with tattooed bodies and sweaty armpits lumbered through the front door. First went the piano, then the sofa. Alarmed, Tex and I anxiously chained ourselves to Alvy’s heels. She wasn’t going anywhere without us. Slowly and deliberately each box of dishes and clothes were hauled off. It was exciting and disconcerting at the same time. Adventure or no adventure, these guys didn’t look like her type.
Down the steps and across the sidewalk, the flurry and commotion continued until the last boxes were heaved, shoved, and crammed into the vehicles. The last traces of our belongings, two half-worn leashes, were fastened on a brass ring by the front door. When Alvy grabbed them and bent down, I sighed in relief. Wherever our stuff was going, we were going too, hopefully in our Jeep, not in that over-packed truck with those odorous brutes.
The house plants swayed, teetering sideways out the back hatch of the Jeep. The wind whipped through Tex’s hair, lashing at his long whiskers as he hung out the passenger window, inhaling a mixture of car exhaust and tree pollen. I curled up between her chest and the steering wheel, usually a taboo when we drove. We bounced along the highway, on our way to who-knew-where.
Grass! A humongous front and back yard blanketed with it. More grass than our entire condo complex. Where to go first, which bush to mark, which hedge to sniff? Tex and I skittered across the hardwood floors, racing in and out the back door. We’d arrived, at heaven’s door. I was never looking back. And I didn’t, not for many, many years.
"Does he have a cough?" the vet asked. Tex had his annual physical so I tagged along to keep my mistress company. By now Tex and I had a solid relationship. I was the alpha and he moped in the corner, waiting for me to signal that it was okay for him to eat. He hated the vet, so in order to assuage his fears I allowed the nurses and doctors to give me a cursory once-over. When they pulled out the stethoscope, I would step up, volunteering to get jabbed and poked, putting him at ease.
Alvy paled, choking back her apprehension. She forced her quivering voice to a steady tone, all the while rifling through her purse, trying to locate a half-used Kleenex. I brushed her aside, pulling out the wadded up tissue. She honked and sniffled, finding just enough clean real estate to blow her nose. They started talking technical mumbo-jumbo about heart conditions. If Tex needed medication, then let’s just buy it and get him cured. I tuned them out, clearing my throat a few times to stifle the tickle that had recently begun to bother me. I stared at the door handle, willing it to turn. It did, and the assistant entered with a little bottle of pills. He must not be very sick, because that was an awfully small bottle. "Three times a day," the vet said, glancing at me. I nodded discreetly, affirming his hesitancy to discuss any bleak prognoses in Tex’s presence. Time to go! This was starting to become a real downer. We sniffed our way through the deserted lobby, spattering fresh paw prints in our wake.
Our walks became less and less enjoyable, more and more like boot camp. Today’s was especially brutal. I strained and puffed the last few blocks, refusing to give in. If Tex could keep up, then certainly I, the leader, could push a stronger pace. Janet’s shapely thighs were at eye level, a welcome distraction. She was a great friend and a real babe, too. Perpetually tanned, with a zest for walking, she had a captivating laugh that rumbled all the way down the street. She was my secret crush.
We turned the last corner. They waved goodbye, scheduling our next date. Only fifty more yards and I could collapse. Forty, thirty, twenty, ten, five, there…I made it. Phew! I crumpled next to the bowl, sloshing water and saliva over the edge before resting my head on the cool hardwood.
"You okay, Spikester?" Alvy asked, refilling the dish. My head felt like a wet bag of cement, crippling my response. Black eyes reflected in hazel, casting uncertainty. Mine or hers? She’d been worrying more than usual these days, probably about Tex, and had even taken to giving me a placebo of some sort before meals. It seemed a bit extreme, but I didn’t mind swallowing for his benefit. Hopefully tonight’s dose would actually give me a boost. Artificial or real, I needed it.
My legs felt weak, and my stomach started to ache from the liquid overload. I dragged my inert body over to the wrought iron bed tucked into the kitchen nook. Low slung to the floor, it was easier to climb into than the four-poster in our master suite, although the solitude of the master suite sounded far more inviting. Whatever kind of stew was boiling on the stove reeked of witch’s brew filled with eye of newt and catgut. My appetite was nebulous at best, and I couldn’t bear to smell that concoction much longer. Had she had completely lost her culinary skills?
My malaise continued, and within weeks I lost interest not only in food, but in any kind of social outing. We spent an inordinate amount of time snuggled up by the fireplace, just the two of us, my mistress and me. Somehow during this time period, a new pup appeared in our house. Cricket! This time the name fit. I couldn’t be bothered with the introduction. She was supposed to be company when ‘he was gone’. If Tex were going somewhere, I prayed he would just take Cricket with him.
Nestled peacefully in Alvy’s loving arms, I barely felt the prick of the needle. The warm opiate flooded through my frail body, diminishing any fears. Her tears continued to fall, tenderly ushering in my quiet surrender to the arms of the angels.
Radiant colors and thundering music saturated every part of me. I basked in the celestial mirage until the slow flush of recall began its path, inching its way up through my veins. Whoosh, from my paws to my eyelids and back down again. Whoosh! Overwhelmed, I jumped up, shaking my fur and tensing my hind legs. I had to run, to support and encourage Alvy. She could never, ever make it across that bridge without my help. I had to get back to the bridge. Now!
"You can’t go back, Spike. You can’t cross again," Madeline firmly shook her head, holding me by the collar. I pushed against her. Of course I was going back. I shoved my paw into her ribs and flashed my teeth. I had never snarled, but I was certain I could muster one up if necessary. Just when I thought a struggle would ensue, she plopped me on the grass. I dashed, faster and faster to the bridge. Still she was next to me, though she hadn’t run at all, merely glided across the meadow.
I stopped, frozen at the riverbank. The bridge was gone. Rushing waters sobbed as they roared past us, down to the waterfall by the entrance gate. I peered across, intently focusing, looking through the mist to the shadows that danced on the far shore. An occasional light flickered through the fog. I looked up at Madeline, waiting for an explanation. Waiting.
"That’s yesterday across the way," her eyes shimmered, and tears filled the thirsty cracks of her crow’s feet. "A marvelous, wondrous place it was." She continued, reassuring me, "I know your love for Alvy is fierce. Trust me, she will cross when it’s her time."
Poised quietly together for what seemed like an eternity, we remained immutable. When she finally punctured the silence, her voice resounded with hope, "Today awaits you, Spike, right here, right now." I couldn’t. I just couldn’t fathom it. I was supposed to move on without my mistress? We gazed for awhile, the two of us, silent souls, dusted by the winds that whipped through my desperate heart. The fog began to abate, replaced by blue skies ablaze with life. Blinding rainbows cascaded, showering a preternatural energy upon us. Still I waited patiently for a sign, a revelation that her words were truth.
At the familiar sound of his bark I spun around, and there he was, Taiyo, my best friend, bounding over the hillside. Beside him were Brandy, and Misha, and Hoss, and Bucky, and Missy, all barreling head on in my direction.
Excited by this unexpected reunion, and wrapped up with my friends, I suddenly realized I had forgotten to thank Madeline. I turned, extending my paw in appreciation, but she had mysteriously vanished. The faintest echo of her voice wafted from down near the waterfall, "Today is your tomorrow. Grab it, Spike, but remember to hold on to it with open hands. Savor it, or share it, or give it away. It matters not, as it will come back to you a thousand times a day until your heart will burst with joy."
A Frisbee dipped, skimming along the horizon. And then it began, the graceful and sustained climb. Suddenly we were all in pursuit, pursuit of the ultimate prize…the gift of today.