Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Loosey Goosey

How would I have ever become a writer without my faithful dog,
Lucy, creating havoc wherever we walk. In the nearly four years she has lived with us her nicknames have changed regularly. For the most part we call her Loosey Goosey just because she plows headlong into bushes, deep grasses, furniture, beds, chairs with people sitting in them, and then bangs her head on tables as she attempts to sniff for food. 

In the beginning she was a frail pitiful lost soul of a dog. Sadly, my youngest cousin, Gary, had died quite unexpectedly and my sister and I drove to Altus, OK for his funeral. During the funeral services family and friends had an opportunity to share a memory or story about him. Gary worked in the plant department at Wal-mart where he was deeply and sincerely loved by his co-workers. The store manager spoke in near tears as he recalled my cousin. The manager, standing near the back of the funeral home, with his eyes glancing at us and then upwards as if searching for a bird spoke, "Whenever I was having a rough day, I could always go out and talk to Gary. His genuine smile greeted me. As I began to lament my problems, he'd listen then cheer me up by asking me to listen to the birds chirping. I'd just stand and listen and before long my frustrations floated away. Gary loved working outside with nature and his birds that came to rest in the garden area...We will all miss Gary and his smile." With those words the pews of friends and family were wiping tears from their eyes. 

As our family gathered later for a meal we began telling our own
Snow Fall 
Gary stories. In the end the one serious note was left. He had owned four dogs, three of which would go to rescue homes because of their breed and personality, but one lonely scared dog would be put down unless one of us could find a home. It seems as though this dog was terrified of people and no one would take her. My cousin Patty had already picked the dog up from the shelter but had no place for her. Our dog, Woofer, had died that fall and our home seemed empty. I had taken one of Gary's dogs years ago, little Poco, who lived only a few short years with us, but they were good years. So here I was saying, "Let me just see her. Surely no dog can be that sad and scared."

With a slight lease on her neck we attempted to get her to walk to my car, but she shook so badly we carried her! And so began the drive back OKC with my sister and an unnamed terrified dog. By Lawton, we thought to call her Birdie after the story about Gary. I stayed in OKC for several days with family and during that time I changed her name back and forth between Birdie and Trembles. Her tail began to wag ever so slightly on the day I drove home to Kansas. From the rear view mirror I thought I saw her grin when I told her we were going home. At home she cowered and hide from my husband, but she was my constant "Shadow" another nickname. Little by little she began to seek us out. She just acted so strangely we started calling her "Goosey" then just like that it was "Lucy." To honor Gary I wanted to keep the "Birdie" but it just didn't rhyme. Finally, I remember how much I admired Lady Bird Johnson and her daughters Linda, and Lucy. By the end of May our "Lucy Bird" was official.

That summer when we'd go for walks Lucy didn't know she was a dog. In one attempt to chase a squirrel she literally leaped and crawled up a tree, sliding back down, she took a flying leap into the ditch. We were stunned, sorry we didn't have a video of it, but also laughing out loud at our "Flying Goose." After several attempts at climbing after squirrels and cats she decided that whatever she was it might be best to stay on the ground. She hadn't, yet, learned to bark.

On a warm fall day, I was outside under a shade tree reading The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller when our neighbor stepped outside to work in the yard. Apparently, Lucy decided he was too close to me. Barking erupted from her belly like a volcano spewing ashes scaring her almost as much as it scared me. She looked at me for moment asking what had happened, then she turned back to Roger, our neighbor, and barked some more. So Lucy, the cowdog, blue healer-mix, was born. Jack and I became her only two cows. We've trained her to carry a "chew" in her mouth when she gets excited, so she doesn't accidentally nip us. She must think she has a tremendous burden in keeping her cows corralled. One of us leaves, another leaves, one returns, another returns, or sometimes we both leave. When we leave she is the drama queen, lowering her head nearly to the floor, crossing her legs in front like a broken ballerina. Oh, how far our dancing, barking, flying "Lucy Goosey Bird" has come since those shaky trembly beginnings.


  1. Post script: My husband reminded me that not only did I carry Lucy to the car that first day, but I continued to carry her, tot her, and walk with her like a 10month old baby learning to walk, for several weeks until she came out of her bed or closet cave to greet us. I'm happy to report that she's a heafty 45 pound dog now who no longer needs to be carried.

  2. Letty,
    I love your style of writing! Have you published anything, yet? During my "pre-golden years", I have acquired such a facination and awe of how one can pen such unique ways of writing. My means of communicating through drawing and painting is minimal compared to what the writer does!
    Your story about the tornado cellar brings back special memories. The Littletons across the street, were our neighborhood shelter providers. Many evenings Mom and Dad would load up the coats (for the rain), the umbrellas and the transistor radio and sludge through the rain to Littleton's storm cellar. After preceeding with this for it seemed like years, my Dad also built a cellar in our back yard. I can relate to one of the comments about fear of snakes. Our shelter could have been a wonderful haven for any kinds of snakes or spiders for that matter! Anyway, the funniest memory about tornados is when we were still going across to the Littleton's shelter. After the siren, gathering up a radio, umbrellas and coats, my Mother was so rattled about tornados that she ran across the street with coats in her arms, got there and said,"Oh no, I forgot the girls"!!
    Well, Letty, thanks for writing.

  3. I remember where the Littleton's live but I'm blank on who you are. If you're on facebook contact me and let me know who you are. Yes, I have published but not in this area. In '86 and '92 I co-authored two books on Children's Literature with a professor at OU, just recently I submitted a story to the Hutchinson News that they published as a community guest columnist. That was fun. For now the blog purely serves as delightful fun and practice into as many writing styles as I can learn. Thank you for sharing your story. Think our mother's must have been made of the same cloth!