Dogs Cry Too



It’s obvious that Elbee and Gus have  been feeling the loss of their big brother. They are both more subdued. Yet each one seems to be grieving in his own way. At least neither one has a pimple like I did.

Elbee was howling in his sleep the other night and has even whimpered a few times. That’s something he’s never done before.

ELBEE But thank goodness I don’t have a pimple.

He was always happy resting on the floor. Now he sleeps in Charley’s spot on the bed with his head on the footboard. Speaking of the bed, he is sometimes prone to stomach problems during the night. When it happened in the past, Charley would always nudge me awake with his paw so that I would let Elbee out. Well last night was one of those nights. Elbee didn’t nudge me but instead did a soft bark (not his usual really loud annoying one) to get me up. It was surprising.

ELBEE I thought this was supposed to be about my grieving, not my personal habits.

He also seems to have become a lot more mellow. I think it’s because, as much as he loved Charley, he now has one less dog to compete with. It’s no secret that Elbee enjoys undivided attention.

ELBEE Has it ever occurred to her that I may be maturing.

Today was the happiest I’ve seen Elbee in weeks. My grandson Ryan, one of his favorite people in the world, slept over and really seemed to cheer him up.

Gus looks sad and a bit lost without Charley. As Charley quietly passed away in the yard, the little guy sat about ten feet away, watching intently and not moving. It was if he understood what was happening. More and more, I notice him sitting very still with that serious look on his face.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, Gus worked several events with Charley so not only was he bonded to him but Charley was his teacher. Together they comforted at the UCLA candlelight vigil. They taught an anti-bullying group from Compton about kindness. They showed unconditional acceptance to children at a special needs camp. At each of these events they would occasionally check in, licking each other on the face.

Gus has picked up some of Charley’s habits. He’s become a little “stalkerish” in a good way and follows me around the house. The other day he even pushed open the bathroom door to find me. Charley, and my kids when they were young, are the only ones who have ever done that.

He also does the “nudge” during the night. Unlike Charley, who did it so I would let Elbee out to throw up, Gus just does it so I’ll wake up and pet him. The poor guy is lonely.

Elbee Really?

As the weeks have gone by, Elbee and Gus have turned to each other more and more. Very rarely will you find either of them alone. This unusual “rug” is the two of them cuddled together for comfort and support.


A Magic Morning

It seems that whenever I talk about the serious work that the Doods accomplish, I always mention feeling “privileged” to be a part of it. Yesterday morning was no exception when I took Charley and Gus to Camp JPAC. It’s the only summer all inclusion camp in Los Angeles for children with special needs as well as their “typically” developing peers.

Watching the kids interact with the dogs, it was almost impossible to tell those with disabilities from the others. They all cried out in delight when the Doods did their tricks and clapped their approval. At one point, I put treats in front of Charley and Gus and told them to “leave it.” Then I told the kids that when I raised my hand, they could let them have the treats by saying, “okay take it.” As soon as I gave the signal, they all shouted out together, giggling and smiling.




Smiles were a huge part of the morning. As groups of kids gathered around to hug and pet the Doods, I saw happy faces and heard lots of beautiful laughter. They shared about their dogs and had seemingly endless questions about mine. Several wanted to know if Charley and Gus could come back every day. It was an amazing scene of a little chaos, loads of enthusiasm and tons of love.




Perhaps one of the most moving moments took place in front of the camp. As we were getting ready to leave, a mom showed up to pick up her little boy, who I believe was severely autistic. She asked if we would wait for him because he had never seen a dog. When they first brought him outside, he wanted nothing to do with the dogs but with some gentle coaxing from his mom he put his hand on Gus and then on Charley. For whatever reason, it was my big gentle giant that he wanted to pet again. The people gathered around thought it was because of the texture of Charley’s coat. Part of me thought it was because of Charley’s healing magic.