When a musician experiences a tragedy, they turn it into a hit song. When a blogger goes through hard times, they write a post about it.
On March 31st I lost my best friend Penny the wonder dog
Many of you have heard me speak about Penny during radio show or podcast interviews. I have referred to her as my mindfulness coach. She was the one who would show me how important it is to live in the moment. I’m really going to miss that crazy mutt.
I remember when we first got her
We were looking for a dog for my nephew Seth. You know every boy needs a dog. Or at least in my family they do.
We were working an event in Kirbyville, Texas, and word came to us on the lot that the local vet had a dog that needed a new home.
We had just had to give away a dog named daisy because she just didn’t handle carnival life well. That dog had eaten part of the steps to our house trailer along with part of the trailer’s door.
We were naturally cautious about our next dog. We wanted a small one that would be easier to take with us in the trucks or sneak into the occasional motel room.
My Mom, Patrick, and Seth went to look at Penny. At that time Penny didn’t have a name yet. She was young, energetic, and the right size.
The vet assured us she would be a small dog. We would later learn that the vet didn’t know what she was talking about. When we first got her, she could ride on my lap in the truck. This would allow her to stick her head out the window and catch a breeze. By the time she was fully grown she would be almost 100 pounds.
Penny Marks Me As Her Own
I remember the first few weeks we had Penny. We climbed into the truck to move the carnival over to the next town. It was summer in Texas, and it was about 100 degrees outside with about 70 percent humidity. It was hot and sticky and miserable when riding in an unairconditioned truck.
The first thing Penny did was to throw up all over me. I’ve got dog spit up on me and no way to do anything about it. I didn’t even have a jug of water to dump on myself.
Penny threw up on me on move day for three weeks in a row. Finally, someone realized that they shouldn’t feed her on the morning before leaving for the next town. Eventually, she would become so happy riding in the truck that she would bark in anger when the family went somewhere without her.
Penny Calls Shotgun
Just a few weeks ago my mom was getting in the truck to go to the store. She left the front passenger door open while opening the rear one for Penny to jump in. While my mom’s back was turned Penny jumped in the front seat and refused to leave. My mom gave up and got in the back. Then when they left the driveway, Penny decided to lay down. My brother Patrick said it looked like he was chauffeuring my Mom.
How Penny GOt Her Name
I actually got to name Penny. For the first few weeks she was just girl dog. The family wasn’t sure what to call her. Penny would help with that.
We were playing a fair somewhere, and I was left to watch penny. I rolled down the windows to let in some air. Penny jumped out of the truck and took off. A while later she came back and jumped in through the window.
Later on she would get off of her leash while we were set up in some town. She stayed gone a few hours. Eventually, she came back home to the trailer.
I told mom that just like the proverbial bad penny she kept turning back up. SO, I said why not call her Penny?
Variations On Her Name
Over the years she has had many incarnations of her name. She has been Penny, Miss Penny, PennyLope, Penelope, and even sometimes Penelope Cruze.
We have also referred to her as crazy and the little white dog in spite of her size.
And don’t forget wonder dog after the character in the Super Friends cartoons.
I guess I should tell people who don’t know why I call her a gray-mation. The vet we got her from had rescued her. She didn’t know what kind of dog Penny was. So, Seth and Patrick went online looking at various breeds of dogs.
They didn’t find one single breed that looked like Penny. They said she looked somewhat like a greyhound and a little like a dalmatian. So, we took to calling her a gray-mation.
She Was Crazy
Penny was crazy. I don’t mean she was stupid. She was actually a very smart dog. My mom used to say that Penny could have been a guide dog if properly trained.
Whenever my mom would say that, I’d think of that self help saying that has been going around. It goes any dog can be a guide dog if you don’t care where you are going. Or as my nephew Seth used to say Penny will get you there but she might not bring you back.
Her OCD Tendencies
She had several tendencies that reminded you of a human with obsessive compulsive disorder.
When she went through a door, she had to rub her entire body along the door jam. Also, the door had to be open completely or she wouldn’t go through it. And she believed that I was the only person who could open it for her.
She would eat just about any dog food. We gave her both canned and dry dog food. If the wet mixed with the dry creating a crust, she wouldn’t eat it. We would have to clean the dish and put new food in it for her.
Also, she would drink out of puddles, but she wouldn’t drink from her own bowl in the house if it was less than half full. It was like she didn’t want to have to bend down that far just to get a drink. My mom even put a huge bowl out on the porch to try to get penny to drink only our water.
SHe Really Hated Baths
Penny hated baths. It was even more so than most dogs. If you said the word bath or even words that sounded similar to bath she would run and hide.
One day I was watching Ink Masters with my brother Patrick. They were doing tattoos of x-men characters. I didn’t catch the name of one of them. I said Patrick what did that guy say. Patrick said he has to draw the character warpath. Penny took off right away.
Funny thing is I could say bath and it didn’t bother Penny. People would ask me why that was. I would tell them its because she knows I’m not the one who would give her that bath. Basically, she wasn’t scared of me.
And then sometimes Penny for no reason would just walk into the bat room and climb into the tub. But usually it would take all three of them to give her a bath or trim her nails.
She Was A Real Chow Hound
Penny loved food all kinds. It seems like any time I’m eating I’m reminded of her.
When we would have pizza, Penny would be there to gobble down the crusts. When she got too full to walk back and forth between us, she would lay down next to my chair and reach her head up to get more.
One of our regular dishes is salmon croquettes. Lately, we had taken to making extra patties for Penny. The last time my Mom made them we had several left over. We all thought of Penny.
More than once she stole a sandwich from one of us. Penny believed that if you held your food low enough for her to get it that you were offering it to her. And if you walked off leaving your food unattended, then you must not have wanted it any more.
She especially loved Cheetos or anything with cheese in it. More than once she helped me eat the string cheese that became one of my favorite snacks after having gastric surgery.
When I say Penny loved Cheetos, I mean she really loved them. One time we were working in Kansas. Penny got off of her leash. She was found by some of the help roaming the chips isle at the local grocery store. Luckily they were able to drag Penny back to the lot before she ended up in doggie jail.
Her Favorite Scratching Post
Penny loved a good scratching. Fortunately, or unfortunately; I was her favorite scratching post.
I used to tell people that Penny would show up and remind me when it was time to put the silly laptop down and do my real job of scratching the places she couldn’t reach.
Even here, Penny wasn’t like most dogs. She didn’t want you to scratch her ears or rub her head. She wanted you to scratch the middle of her back down to the spot just above her tail.
The family used to tease me about that. They would say Max I love Penny but I’m not scratching her ass. I would point out I always stopped on the right side of her tail.
I mentioned Penny in my second book when I talked about modern meditation and the calming effect of petting a dog or caring for another pet.
She Was A Free Spirit
Penny was a free spirit. She spent a lot of time roaming our neighborhood. We live at the end of a dead end road near a state forest. It feels like we are in the country, and Penny treated it all like it was her yard.
When we first moved here, Penny would chase the deer. We think she got kicked by one because Penny eventually adopted the following rule with deer. If there was a couple of them in her yard, she would chase them. If there was three or more deer out there, then Penny would sit on the porch and watch them.
But then two springs ago Penny befriended a baby deer. My brother came home and found penny and this fawn playing tag.
Patrick said it looked like they were playing tag. That or maybe they were practicing stalking and being stalked. He got some photos of them together. I’ve never gotten him to send them to me, but he has posted them on face book; so I know they exist.
Later we would find deer in our yard and even on our porch. We drove home one night to find them gathered around the door to our house. Mom said it looked like they were having a meeting.
Recently, we had to have our porch redone. Mom said it was probably because of Penny and her deer.
I Don’t Want To Know
Now, I don’t know if Penny’s death was accidental or on purpose. We live in the country, so it could have been someone not thinking and dumping anti freeze on the ground. Problem is when you get a rain that stuff ends up in the puddles that dogs and other creatures will drink from. It was Penny’s bad luck.
It is possible that someone could have poisoned Penny on purpose. We can’t think of anyone around here who didn’t like Penny, but there are a few new people in the area; and Penny did sometimes roam pretty far a field.
If someone did do it on purpose, I don’t want to know. I say this because I know I could hate that person. My dad taught me never to hate anyone. I know its not good for your heart or sole. But if I found out someone hurt my dear sweet buddy on purpose; I could want to do them harm.
I’m not proud of this. I try to see the best in people. I would hope there aren’t people in the world who could hurt a poor defenseless creature like my sweet girl Penny.
Its been almost three weeks since we had to accept that Penny was gone. Its still hard. I think just like my dad she is always going to be with me. There are always going to be times when I’m reminded of her.
Just today I was responding to some birthday wishes on face book. I told someone I was having a quiet night with my Mom, Patrick, Seth, and I started to say Penny like I had so many times. But Penny isn’t here. I started crying again.
I don’t have the courage to do it yet, but at some point I’m going to have to take her name off of my media kit page. I really don’t have the first clue what I’ll change it to.
So far, the only thing I’ve done concerning her that was easy has to do with my next book. I mentioned Miss Penny in the dedication section. I did that because there wouldn’t be a story without her. And her passing did motivate me to finish the editing of my latest book and finally get it off to my editor.
In fact Penny was one of the reasons I was allowed to finally quit traveling with the carnival and stay home. My family had quit traveling cross country and were only doing weekend events with the occasional week long trip away form home. If it hadn’t been for Penny I don’t think they would have felt comfortable about leaving me here by myself.
I really don’t know what I’m going to do without my buddy Penny. She could always make us laugh or smile. She kept us on an even keel and reminded us not to take life to seriously.
Pets are good about that. I mean a dog doesn’t worry about what they should or shouldn’t do. A dog thinks hey I want to chase squirrels so they chase them. A cat thinks I want to lay in the sun and they go find a patch of sunlight to stretch out in.
One time Penny was barking at a squirrel in one of the trees in our yard. The squirrel wouldn’t come down. Penny got tired of barking at it, so she rolled over on her back and continued barking while sprawled on the ground.
Well, this post doesn’t have a point or a lesson. I’m writing it to share my thoughts and memories surrounding one of the greatest dogs ever. She was one of the sweetest most loving creatures that God ever put on this earth.
I would love it if you would share your own stories of a favorite pet. And while mine have all been dogs, comments about cats, horses, birds, or even snakes are welcome.
I look forward to hearing from you. Maybe by sharing this I will help someone who is also hurting over the loss of a favorite pet.
Until next time thanks, God bless you, and take care out there, Max