Two Months Today
February 5, 2011
By Julie Kay Smithson aka Wiggles' Mommy
At seven-fourteen this morning, it's now been two months since your last earthly breath, dear, beloved Wiggles. I know you're fine and no longer suffering from any health or age issues, yet miss you keenly and still shed tears several times each day, longing for the touch of your nose, fur or foot.
Until they're no longer happening, it's so easy to take for granted that such blessings will always be ours. The feel of your breath in the night, from just an inch away. The always-awesome feel of awakening to find you staring at me, willing me to "wake up, Mom!" The sweet sound of your toenails gently coming through the kitchen into the office to encourage me to leave the work chair and computer, and come play with you, go for a walk, brush you, or just be together. The simplest things -- like having you accompany me when errands are run, or dumping/cleaning/refilling birdbaths (during the nine months when weather permits), or having you lying on the kitchen floor while I cook, bake or do dishes -- are now things that give my stomach a twist and make my heart hurt, longing for them again.
I took for granted that the dearest soul in the universe, Wiggles Blue Heeler, would always be there for me. I tried to always be there for him. Now our lives have changed and though we're still joined at the heart and soul, our physical time together has ebbed.
Every day the labor of love that will soon be his book, takes place. Whether actually writing a chapter, or sifting through the hundreds of photos, several-score videos, years of Christmas cards sent to the two of us, birthday cards, veterinary and dog tag records (and the county dog tag, rabies tags, and his tags with his name and contact phone numbers, all of which I saved), receipts from special toy, treat and food purchases, and more -- distilling the essence of Wiggles Blue Heeler into a family-friendly, educational, empowering book and DVD, is both an exciting and a somber activity. If it were an either/or -- either have him here with me still, or writing his book -- the choice would be a no-brainer ... but there is no choice.
Wiggles Blue Heeler's life, from the standpoint of sight, was divided almost equally: Six years of vision and six years of "seeing with his heart," due to inherited late-onset progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA. In many ways, the second six years was the greater adventure and joy, because those were the years that:
* Wiggles received the only test unit of SoundFlash that was ever available for animals, a real miracle that was amazing and delightful to him, me and many others. A micro-processor, battery-backup unit that utilized echo-location "click" technology, SoundFlash was tested and enjoyed for more than two and a half years by Wiggles Blue Heeler. Visit YouTube and search for "Wiggles Blind Dog" and "Wiggles Sees!" to view five 30-second videos. To see a blind dog trotting through a cemetery and confidently wending his way through different sizes and shapes of granite stones is to be so grateful to the Alcon Foundation for its grant to World Access for the Blind (WAFTB), and from my viewpoint, to be so glad that Wiggles Blue Heeler was the animal that, through more than one miracle, got to test this device!
* Wiggles Blue Heeler attended many events, from fundraising bake sales for the Humane Society of Madison County (London, Ohio), to the ZooToo celebration when our shelter garnered one of the Top 20 awards, to the first fundraising SlobberFest, to a fundraising booth at a classic car show (where he met a young boy with autism and melted the hearts of the boy's mother and me), and more. At each event, my special dog-friend was quiet, kind and loving to all, earning one of his many nicknames, "Many Kisses," as he bestowed barely-damp, fine-grit sandpaper kisses on anyone within reach. A salesman at a local auto dealership "took it on the chin" from Wiggles and loved that slurp! An elderly couple whose pet had recently passed away, attended one bake sale and enjoyed Wiggles so much that they returned twenty minutes later. The gentleman said, "I've just got to have some more of his kisses!" Promptly sitting down on the floor, he received many more kisses from a canine sweetheart that understood the man's grief and need for comfort.
* Wiggles Blue Heeler helped me run errands and made many friends wherever we went. At the Post Office, the hardware store, the garden center, the feed store, and many more locations, he greeted old and young, athletic and wheelchair-bound, with the same affectionate nature, which I came to call "seeing with his heart," when people exclaimed over his beautiful pearlescent and luminuous blue eyes, once brown, or asked if he were blind.
* Due to the tendency of loose dogs -- and in some cases, the owners of dogs that seemed to enjoy having aggressive pets -- to attack Wiggles Blue Heeler, my options to find safe places to walk him became, by necessity, creative. At those safer places, we usually encountered peace and quiet. When we would cross paths with someone, they were so pleased to meet a canine with such an abundance of "all the good things life has to offer" in one package. Sometimes, after a walk on a hot summer day, we'd head for a local ice cream place, where I'd get him a scoop of French Vanilla for his bowl and one of black walnut or buttered pecan for mine. Always carried on board were these two bowls, plus a gallon of water from home, cool and fresh to slake our thirst.
* A dear friend who divided her time between Maine and Virginia, gifted us with some very special clocks, kits utilizing a CD on a Lucite base with the label being our favorite photos. These clocks, which I so enjoyed during the time Wiggles Blue Heeler was physically here in our home, have become so much more precious now that they remind me of some of our times together. They also help me recall that time is not to be wasted, that it is to be tasted, savored, devoured with alacrity and appreciation. Thank you, Jane H., for these generous gifts that you put together as a craft project, which became priceless treasures to me, Wiggles' Mommy!
All these, and many more fond memories, are carried in my mind, heart and soul, and in the collection of things pertaining to Wiggles Blue Heeler. This time in my life is of immeasurable importance, for it is teaching me how much one dear soul -- in no matter what form -- can bless and make so much richer, for having shared time. Time is fleeting, and although our dozen-plus years together were wonder-filled, they sped by like a comet flashing acrost the heavens, leaving a brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime memory in their wake.
Two months have passed somehow. Still a huge lump remains in my throat and tears sting my eyes, but time continues to measure my life. This book of Wiggles will be a way through this time, and a way to chronicle the best years of my life, which were all the years of his life. May this book fairly dance into the lives of many, pulling them out onto the dance floor and saying, "It doesn't matter if you've ever danced before; this is a dance of life and love, holding on for this dance and being made whole for having joined another heart!"
There is a certainty -- not to be confused with 'preaching' -- that God chose me to be Wiggles' Mommy, and Wiggles Blue Heeler to be my best friend, which will be woven throughout the pages of Wiggles' book. Your own beliefs will not be diminished by this book, nor will my beliefs try to change yours. This book is about all the miracles, trust, love, joy, and more that were contained in the presence known as Wiggles Blue Heeler -- and will strive to open readers' hearts and minds to the following ideas:
1. Blindness should never be a death sentence or a reason to part with a loved one, whether in dog, cat, equine, human form, etc.
2. "Leading with one's heart" is something that can and should be done throughout life. It does not mean abandoning awareness of one's surroundings or letting danger come near. It does mean that looking with more than physical eyes, can open the door and fling open the windows to joy!
3. The mere cessation of physical sight is not a handicap. It is opportunity dressed in work clothes. It is the boundless ability to strike boundaries from one's vocabulary. Daniel Kish, executive director of World Access For The Blind -- http://www.waftb.org/ -- travels the world, showing children and educating their parents that mere physical sight is not the edge of the earth. Christopher Columbus did not sail off the edge of the earth. He traveled with a purpose and with a faith that did not depend on physical sight. Like Columbus, Daniel Kish, the Alcon Foundation, Vision and Vocational Services http://www.visionandvocationalservices.org/ and Wiggles Blue Heeler, have not and will not ever allow boundaries to challenge what they know in their hearts to be true.
Two months today, Wiggles Blue Heeler became my partner in life in a different form. His playful, ever-loving and sweet self remains, while he now encourages me in a different way, to take the lessons he taught and bring them to the world. He still teaches; may I be cognizant enough to continue learning in the months yet to come!
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