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Empress Alice lets loose a string of dog obscenities as she thunders through the dining room to the kitchen sliding window. It seems the neighbors had the audacity to get their airstream trailer stuck on the driveway again. The glint off the aluminum alerted her, then there were the odd lights flashing and voices barely audible through the shuttered windows.

We don’t live close to our neighbors, so the smallest infraction in Empress Alice’s keen oversight of her kingdom is always greeted with alarm. She is in charge of all the realm. The birds, the bees, the humans who dare to intrude on her turf without proper clearance or an appointment.


But tonight, when I came home emotionally drained, when all I wanted to do was cook myself a good dinner, crawl into my PJs and call it a day, she insisted on racing through the house with the blue octopus in her mouth, declaring it a Shar Pei holiday that never made it to my calendar. She is funny, irreverent and full of life at the moment, instead of life as I am currently viewing it.

So when she acts out of sorts, I have to take careful notice. She ignored breakfast the last few days. It is a bothersome break in our routine. Her nose seems more snuffly than usual. Pollen? The weather has rocketed to almost 80°, then plummeted to high 40s° and rainy. I’m gone more than I have been for the last 18 months. A year ago I was here writing every day, all day. Perhaps she is stressed over this change.

I have populated my life with five pets. Their personalities and secret lives, their social interactions and hierarchy must change with the patterns of my life. I know that I provide a life far superior to what they knew before and must console myself that they are intrinsically happy. No matter that they are domesticated and humans have changed their basic life patterns to match our own.

I have been blessed to share my life with many four-footed beings. The current crowd represents many different phases of my life: Belle from the farm in Lunenburg, Night from Hanni’s eventing years, Choco from Han and I filling the gap of lost dogs, Skeedles from Hanni and I living through her high school years, Alice from my road to redemption and Dahlia from my life of hospice for those who are passing on daily.

Animals, pets, in our society, represent a huge chunk of who we are and how we live. I hope never to be the little old person who drives with my fluffy, yapping dog on my lap through town. Please pull the proverbial plug if I become the “weird CAT lady,” and no, I am not her yet!!

The sobering fact is that as we age, our pets become more of a comfort, as well as a source of concern. I have started volunteering for a new segment of hospice that is a fund specifically set up to care for pets of hospice patients. The service is “Pet Peace of Mind,” funded through the Banfield Charitable Trust. Our local hospice qualified for a grant to service clients and the results are heart-warming. People who are in crisis are often torn between providing total care for a dying family member and taking the dog to the vet or having enough food and cat litter.

I have worked the periphery of this project and now we are finally ready to “go live.” Coincidentally, the woman who produced the New Hampshire Chronicle spot for the store, was in today. I told her about the idea and she is very interested.

Perhaps, I should just run through the house with the blue octopus and recognize the unknown holiday that brings connections to life…





8 comments on “Empress Alice

  1. Touring NH says:

    I DARE YOU to run through the house with the blue octopus in your mouth!!!! I want a date and time so I can record the event! Our pets are a definite barometer of our own health and feelings. I know when I am down or ill, Diesel is right there beside me (nearly smothering me with his consolation). I think the new program, Pet Peace of Mind, is a wonderful addition to the caring help Hospice gives to all of it’s clients.


    1. If I do, there will be no photos!! I think Alice is just slightly depressed with my new working hours. Took her for a walk today and she bounced right back and ate her breakfast…
      I’m really enjoying what Pet Peace of Mind can do for folks, so worthwhile.


  2. Stephanie sheridan says:

    LOVE IT! I think it is one of those things that folks always wonder about but are afraid to ask. “so, what happens to the pets?” Please let me know more about it…. is Banfield the same Banfield that is the vets associated with Petsmart? If so, I cant say enough about the one near me… Having taken my many dogs to many vets over the years, I joined the Banfield Wellness plan for my older dog Moose, and I must say it is a Godsend. The vets are great and the assistants too.


  3. Hi Steph, thanks for dropping by. I don’t know if it is the same charitable trust but will look into it. It’s amazing how something so simple really does make a difference in the quality of a patient’s life, knowing their pets are cared for and will be when they are gone.


  4. When you live alone with pets and get sick there is a lot of worry about them that you don’t need, so the Pet Peace of Mind is a great idea.
    Maybe Alice just has a little separation anxiety.


    1. I do think she is having a hard time with my new routine. The Pet Peace of Mind is such a great program for relieving some of the stress from terminal illness. I proud to be a part of it.


  5. mariekeates says:

    When Mother was in the hospice one of the big worries was her dog Sasha. Sasha hated cats and children, I had two cats and three children, one only weeks old (Mini Commando), my sister has terrible allergies. In the end my uncle took her in, but grudgingly, and I always felt bad about that. The Pet Peace of Mind is a lovely idea and will be a great comfort to people and their families.


    1. Thanks Marie, I think this is a program that will resonate with lots of folks. Pets are such a part of our lives.


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