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THE POODLE PORCH
The porch is a Godsend for poodles in show coat to go “out” but stay dry in bad weather and on the porch my puppies are safe from hawks, owls or sudden storms.
The screened-in porch was built lovingly by my father-in-law when I was pregnant with my son. The porch top is also screened and is covered in heavy duty plastic for warmth in winter and to keep out blowing rains...think hurricanes.
In 1983 there was a hammock on the porch and everyone remembers when, late in pregnancy, I got stuck in it and had to wait, not patiently (!) for my husband to come home to get me out!! Then, as our baby boy grew, he enjoyed his swing and jumpy-bouncy bolted to the porch rafters.
One time, we put a bed out there for long-time friends to sleep on for a weekend. We were going to give them our bedroom and sleep out on the porch ourselves but being true Virginians, they said NOOOOO, they wanted the sleeping porch. Bob still talks about 2 nights on the “poodle porch” listening to the night birds and crickets, and how good the coffee tasted while watching the sun rise. Like me, he is a cancer survivor.
The poodle porch has served many purposes. It was a favorite place for Nick, the goat of Christmas past. I had 3 special-made crates for Standard Poodles and I used one for Nick who was neutered and trained for my grooming school demos. My students loved learning new things on him and like most goats, he enjoyed the attention.
A few years ago, I baby-sat two large dogs for friends and they tore the porch screen door apart! This is not a door you can run to the home improvement store and replace. It was hand-made to fit the space. Needless to say, there has been no porch door for a long time so, the porch hosts many wild critters, most recently a Pileated Woodpecker eating stink bugs!
Early this year I was diagnosed with Small Cell lung cancer. It has been a difficult and wild ride to get to today. 30 rounds of IMRT; Four 3-day cycles of chemo and I could write a book about just that but today THIS is about grace and living!!!!!!! On the good side, I no longer have to go out to open the porch screen door to let the dogs out and believe me, during the 3 months I spent doing chemo, there were days I could barely walk lest I fall.
I now see the world differently. At 3 months post chemo, I cherish the taste of food. Chemo created some nasty neuropathy but I’ve been in PT (physical therapy) for weeks and also getting infrared light therapy (like veterinarians use) plus acupuncture to mitigate the worst of it. My muscle loss was profound so when I’m not enjoying the porch, I have a contest with the recumbent stepper machine once a week at physical therapy. There are still some balance issues, so going shopping is not only a treat but another form of PT exercise and good for mental health. Speaking of which…
I have so much enjoyed the hummingbirds right outside my computer window. They bring joy and smiles when they hover in front of my window as if to say "Hey lady! hungry here.. fill our juice please!" Alas, they have flown south now. I am bereft.
The colors and blooms in my flower garden began to fade about when chemo began. My nephew carefully fed and watered the flowers all summer long just for my pleasure. He also kept my fishpond filters clean and mowed the acres when I was too consumed by cancer to ride a tractor or mower.
I truly cherish my friends who have stuck with me, sending texts when I was sitting in a chemo infusion chair for 5 hours, calling, sending flowers, making soups and cheerleading from afar. My daughter-in-law is my biggest cheerleader! And of course, I cherish my Captain who had his own cancer journey 4 years ago. He took care of me when I was literally down and out.
The moral of this story: Sit on the porch (it doesn’t have to be a poodle porch), listen to the rain, embrace the colors of the flowers, laugh at the antics of puppies, rejoice in the dragonflies catching bugs, be in awe of the determined tree frogs that laid eggs in the rain barrel, then delight in seeing them grow legs and hop away!
Cherish when your dog gazes into your eyes, surely saying I love you! Tomorrow is not promised, LIVE TODAY and tell the ones you love how much you cherish them. Eat the cake and celebrate being alive!
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