Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Border Collies

Okay. We're obsessed with border collies. But everyone holds a special place in their hearts for their "first love" whether it was a girlfriend or boyfriend or a first dog.

This will be a relatively short entry because I intend to update the blog early next week when we have real pictures of our new puppy to show and hopefully know her new name.

We've had quite a time trying to come up with the right name. It has to "fit" her look and personality and we haven't even met her yet. The name has to work phonetically with Jamie. As in Haley and Jamie.

We each have our favorite names we're holding onto but in the end, you know we will need to compromise.

Marika takes her summer school final on Friday morning. She then heads to the airport to catch a flight to Michigan. I will pick her up at the Detroit airport at midnight. She claims she is going to get up early Saturday morning so we can drive up to Traverse City -- a four hour drive -- to get the puppy. We'll stay overnight and come back on Sunday.

Then the real fun begins!

What could be better
Than puppy breath on your face?
Nothing I know of.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Garden

It's the middle of July -- what I consider to be halfway through summer -- and my garden is thriving in spite of lots of hot weather and foraging deer. I wish the deep purple wave petunias in the foreground of the photo were perennials because of their rich color, but alas they are annuals and will need to be planted each year.

Gil and I are in Las Vegas this weekend as Gil attends the annual SCCT (Society for Cardiac Computed Tomography) where he is a Board Member, Fellow and Faculty presenter this week. It is REALLY hot here -- 112 degrees when we arrived yesterday at the airport. We'll be back home from this trip on Sunday.

Prior to this trip, I was in Kentucky for my high school's 40th reunion and I had a wonderful time catching up with everyone there. I stayed with my mom while I was there and those are always good visits for us.

While I was in Kentucky, Gil drove himself to Chicago for a national guidelines meeting on echocardiography for three days. Although we both enjoy traveling, and have only recently been allowed by the doctors to make these trips due to Gil's as yet immature immune system status, we'll be glad to get back to spending the remainder of summer in Michigan which is always so perfect this time of year.

Gil started back to work full-time the end of June with his only restriction that he not have patient contact at this time until his immune system is ready for that. He's happy to be pouring his full efforts back into research and contributing to radiation dose reduction in cardiac CT -- a metric that has been in the news a lot these days.

Marika is halfway through her Kaplan MCAT Review Course in Santa Barbara and will be coming back to Michigan to spend her last month of summer with us arriving July 31st.

Adam and Evan are getting the hang of their first clinical rotations and feeling sleep deprived, and stressed to be their best during the long and arduous days that dealing with sick patients requires. Everyone in medicine goes through those days of incredible tiredness and feelings of inadequacy -- after all, they're learning how to be doctors and that's complicated-- and it's going to take a while to fall into step. Laura tells me she is doing everything she can to help Adam and Evan get through these first trying weeks by offering her support, and healthy cooking and understanding.

Although we think of Haley every day and how much we miss her in our family, we have been looking around for another border collie puppy to bring home and we have found one! She will be eight weeks old the end of July. Marika and I will travel up to Traverse City here in Michigan to pick her up when Marika gets home for the summer in a few weeks.

The puppy is adorable and I'll be posting a blog entry with her picture when we bring her home on August 1st.

Gil got himself the iPad and the iPhone 4. He "bequeathed" his Kindle to me and I'm enjoying reading my books on it. (Do you remember when he was in hospital last year and we got him the new Kindle which he was so delighted to have?!) I'm reading The Black Swan now about uncertainty and liking its message.

This next Haiku is for Vanessa, a friend of Adam's and Evan's, who selflessly offered to pick Evan up from the LA airport when he flew home a couple of weeks ago.

Vanessa's taxi
Riding home in luxury
A traveler's friend.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Farewell to Haley

Sadly for the Raff family tonight, Haley left us for her next adventure in that big dog park in the sky. Hopefully, she is frolicking with her friends and chasing frisbees and tennis balls and eating carrots (her favorite dog treat) to her heart's content.

Thirteen years ago, our young children were asking us for a pet dog. I was fine with the idea because my family had always had dogs. But Gil had not grown up with dogs and kept putting off the decision. To this day, I don't know what persuaded him to change his mind.

But the minute he did, Marika (then 8 years old) and I headed to the dog adoption fair at the local pet store and found (and fell in love with) a little black and white bundle of fluff who became known as Haley -- named for the Hale-Bopp comet which was appearing that year. She was apparently a "rescued dog" from the back of a truck on the Navajo reservation and we felt sure she had chosen this moment and this time waiting for us to reach down and choose her from all the other puppies in the enclosure. In our family, she was going to get the love she deserved.

We thought we had simply chosen a very cute little mixed mutt -- half-this and half-that. She grew into a dead-ringer for a border collie. Unbeknownst at the time to Marika and me, Gil had particularly wanted a border collie when he agreed that we should get a dog. I don't know that the appeal was anything more than his wanting a very smart dog whose breed was famous for looking its owners directly in the eye -- something many breeds will not do -- but he had it in his mind to look for a border collie.

Border collies are always looking for direction from their owners and so stay focused on our faces for the next command. Herd the sheep? Chase the FedEx truck? Get the frisbee? Haley was no exception.

Haley surpassed all our expectations for a bright, engaging dog and Gil soon admitted that Haley needed a companion. That's when Marika and I drove from Albuquerque to southern Colorado to pick our next dog, Jamie, a pure-bred border collie, from among a litter of frisky black and white pups.

Jamie is very smart. She knows something is different tonight. She watches as tears pour down our faces and I'm quite certain she knows Haley is gone. Perhaps she doesn't know it's permanent but she knows that Haley is not in the house tonight and that she has never known a night without Haley sleeping at her side.

So now we will lavish our love and affection on Jamie and try to help her cope with the loss we are all feeling deeply tonight.

Fortunately, Marika and Evan were here this past week and saw for themselves as Haley's health took a turn for the worst. Although it was difficult, both said their goodbyes knowing that this would be the last time they would see Haley who taught them the joys of pet ownership and abiding trust between humans and animals.

Haley's life was good
She shared her best years with us
And we won't forget.