Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Author Roy Dimond with Mickey and Lou

Mickey on the couch that we cut the legs off when he got old.
Lou with her kind eyes
Barbara, thank you so much for providing me with the opportunity to share a story on your exciting new blog. I swear that every word here is the absolute truth. This all happened… to me.     Roy Dimond

I was on a date with a young woman whom I found most attractive. It was early in the relationship and I was on my best behavior, trying mightily to impress her. We were walking beside a four-lane highway holding hands and chatting -- when I saw it -- and without even realizing it my shoulder pressed against the young lady nudging her out into traffic. I was halfway into the oncoming traffic; hands holding her so tight our knuckles were turning white before I realized what I was doing.

By the time we meandered between honking cars and had made it to the other side of the street without dying, I knew she was the woman I would marry. Anyone who would follow me into traffic, help me stop four lanes of cars, with no explanation other than my shoulder slowly guiding us, well she was the woman for me.

Now you may ask, what would cause a perfectly sane man to drag his date out into traffic. I had spotted a dog. A black dog to be specific. Probably a lab, but to me all black dogs were hounds spawned from some biblical beast and a threat. Why? Because of what happened to me when I was 6 years old.

It was a beautiful summer day and I was throwing a tennis ball against the house. I will always remember that day when the ball went into our open garage door. I trotted into the darkness and waited for my eyes to adjust before finding my ball. I remember it so clearly, partially because it was such a beautiful summer day with summer clouds and bright summer sun, and so dark in the depths of the garage. When I turned around to leave, three of the biggest, blackest, most vicious dogs I have ever seen or ever hope to see -- hounds from hell -- cornered me in that dark garage for who knows how long. A day, a year, it seemed longer, but most likely it was about ten minutes. But ten minutes of hell is a lifetime to a six-year-old boy. They snarled and their back legs quivered in attack mode anytime I moved. With hackles up they kept me cornered until thankfully my mom came looking for me. She was Super Woman that summer afternoon. Beating them off with the handle of a broom. They jumped our fence and the pack was never seen in our neighborhood again.

That is why, despite trying to impress my future wife, I crossed to the other side of the street… I had to, at any cost… loss of dignity and thus loss of future wife, run over by car, cause a multiple car pile up, it didn’t matter. It was a black dog and it was on my side of the sidewalk. This is what my life was like whenever I saw a dog, especially a black dog… until…

One day, my now happily married wife, and yes it was that same loyal woman who married me, came home and announced, “We are getting a dog.”

“No we aren’t.”

“Yes, we are.”

“NO we are NOT.”

As with most arguments between my wife and me, it went back and forth like this until I finally put my foot down and insisted, “Yes darling, you are right, we are getting a dog.” I take great pride in that I win most of the family arguments, even if it takes me some time to see the correctness of my position.

So we went to meet the beast -- the enemy -- the spawn of Satan. En route, I admit to some mild complaining, but not, as my wife has expanded over the years when telling the story, to sniveling and whining like a five-year-old girl. That NEVER happened… anyway… back to my story…

We showed up at the country home where a dozen dogs roamed about terrorizing all other life forms. Sure it looked like play to the untrained eye, but I knew they were actually exercising their skills of trickery, rolling on the ground exposing their bellies for a pat only to rip and tear the hand that offered nothing but kindness. I watched them run and frolic until their tongues hung out. No doubt these were cardiovascular drills training them to chase down humans and to attack as a pack. Ruthless beasts.

While standing in the middle of their drills of death, I heard my wife.  “Here, this is the one I wanted to show you… he’s perfect.” She picked up the puppy and held it close.

I thought to myself, what guile… tricking her into bringing her face close so he could rip a hunk of flesh right from her cheek. But no… he licked her. Little bugger must be waiting for his canine teeth.

At least he was white and a lab; they do have a nice face… I was weakening. Then it happened…

I took a step closer and almost fell flat on my face. Down at my feet was the cutest… err… I mean the most deadly looking beast… it was a lab… curled around my ankles so if I moved I would fall allowing the other hounds to eat the flesh off my bones. Worse of all… yep… it was black. Yes, yes, it was the runt of the litter, but it was black… and it had me in its grip and it was NOT letting go.

Still clutching the white lab puppy to her chest, my wife laughed so hard that tears streamed down her face… she had a cruel streak in her.  My knees were locked, paralyzed with fear. The dog owner chuckled, “I can’t do a better selling job than that.”

Unfortunately my wife agreed. “We have to have both of them.”

“No, we do not.”

“Yes, we are.”

“NO we are absolutely NOT.”

I, of course, eventually saw the error of my ways and won the argument… by paying the dog owner for two Labrador puppies.

By the time we got home it was raining hard and we had not one, but two dogs romping about the basement. We agreed that the white lab would be named Mickey. He was all boy and handsome as handsome can be – Mickey Mantle.

The girl dog we named Lou and she was tiny, tiny, tiny, so naturally she was already bossing around her bigger brother.

I put down my car keys and closed the garage door, and before I could stop him, Mickey had picked up my keys in his mouth and sprinted into the back yard. For two hours in the pouring rain I searched for my keys, and by the way neither mutt even offered to come out into the downpour to help look.  After locating them, I marched inside soaked to the skin. I yelled at Mickey, “Bad dog! You don’t ever take my keys again.” Please remember, it was my first hour, ever, with the enemy and I did not understand the terms of our agreement yet.  His head cocked from side to side clearly confused by my tirade. My bemused wife offered me a towel, but then it happened. In that moment, the enemy became a part of my family. I yelled one last time at Mickey, “BAD DOG” when in the corner of my eye I saw little Lou faint -- she toppled over, legs in the air, unconscious.

It was then that I realized she wasn’t a beast, but as sensitive a creature that has ever walked the earth. Better than man and kinder and wiser as well. I coaxed her back to consciousness and realized that I could never raise my voice in my house ever again. That included shouts of joy over a sports event, as that would mean twenty minutes of what we came to call “Love Talk” -- twenty minutes of kind words so that precious Lou knew she was safe and loved.

I also learned that I was not allowed to do sit ups because that caused dear nurse Lou to run to my side and closely monitor me. If I continued my sit-ups, she would put a paw on my chest to pin me to the ground. If I persisted, she would spread eagle on top of me.  I would be laughing so hard I was forced to stop.

In time, as the puppies grew into healthy dogs, my fear vanished and for that I am ever grateful for being wise enough to demand that we bring home both dogs. At least that’s how I remember it.

In his old age, Mickey began having seizures and Lou would always come and tell us minutes before they happened. Somehow she knew and would try to pin her much bigger brother to the ground thus giving us warning so we could put him into his safe bed where he couldn’t hurt himself.

On Lou’s final day she passed peacefully while giving me her paw. That night, Mickey went to bed alone for the first time in his life.  After my wife and I went to bed, he let out the most mournful howl imaginable. We cried and climbed out of bed and went down stairs to sleep with him.  He never recovered from that loss and followed Lou one year later, but at least he never had to sleep alone.

Now when a black dog comes walking along the sidewalk, I don’t cross over, but am the first to greet it.  Every time, I am reminded of my Mickey and my Lou and miss them -- I would have it no other way.

Book Excerpt:

Mickey with his bowl... good story In Saving Our Pennys about him saving his bowl from a storm.

This is a segment from a book I co-authored with my good friend Jeff Leitch. It is a story about an individual who is struggling with his day-to-day life and the journey he takes to find joy and happiness. It is called, Saving Our Pennys.
In the book, we shared a couple of stories about Mickey {we call him Lab}. Although he has a small part in the book, he is very fundamental to the tale and everything we shared is true. I hope you enjoy…


Available on Amazon

     When I finally arrive at the end of the driveway, Lab frantically dashes out to share all the day’s events with me. One of the peculiarities of this rather peculiar dog is that wherever he goes he carries his food bowl in his mouth. No one has ever taught him this, but my kids attribute it to the Boy Scout in him. “Always be prepared,” as one never knows when food might arrive. At this point in our greeting ritual, he usually does me the honor of dropping his bowl and taking my hand to guide me around the yard. It is his way of showing me what happened during his day.

     However, just before he is able to do this, there is a bright light followed by an ear-splitting crack of thunder. I am nearly hit in the head, not by the lightening, but by Lab’s bowl as it flies into the air. In the millisecond it takes me to realize what is happening, a tail disappears through the dog door. I run after him as cold wet drops begin to splatter the ground. Inside, whimpering comes from a dog that has no bowl. My consoling does no good as he paces.

     Despite the thunder, his courage wins the day, and I have never been so proud of him. I open the door and at warp speed he races out, ears pinned back, crying in fear during the entire frantic dash. Without breaking stride he scoops up his bowl and, trying to bleed off speed, forces his head to aim toward the house while his back legs skid out from under him. This makes his circle route as small as the laws of physics allow. I open the door just slightly wider than his terror-filled eyes. Focusing on his destination with one mighty leap through the opening, he slides across the floor and with a loud grunt bashes into the wall on the other side of the room. With his bowl tightly gripped in canine teeth, he has made it! A finer display of courage I have never seen.

     I congratulate and then console him, as thunder shatters our moment. We share unimaginable trust as he allows me to pry the just saved bowl from his jaws and place it beside his blanket. Still panting, he sprawls next to it. I lie beside him and pat his head, muttering, “Good boy. Good dog.” Despite the thunder, we are both thankful: he for his bowl and me for my dog.
About The Authors Of Saving Our Pennys.
Roy has visited three times on my Book Talk Blog. You can click on each book title and visit the post. Saving Our Pennys, The Rubicon Effect, and The Singing Bowl.
Roy Dimond lives with his wife in Pender Harbour, a small fishing village on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Locals call it "Penderdise." In his first life, Roy had the honor of helping at risk children and their families. In his second life, he pursues his love of travel and writing. Having explored four continents from Cuzco to Kyoto, Santorini to Tsumago, his wanderings have all found a way into his stories. Roy's first book The Singing Bowl and is now in a Second Edition. His second novel is called, The Rubicon Effect.  Saving Our Pennys is his third book, and first work of non-fiction.


Jeff Leitch lives with his family in Maple Ridge, a proud community at the base of the majestic GoldenEarsMountain in British Columbia, Canada. Honoured to be a teacher in his native Coquitlam, British Columbia, Jeff’s passions include his wife Linda, and their three kids, Amanda, Matthew and Adam, “all his families” and friends, and the great stories they share. You can find him at any sporting venue, or live theatre, with coffee in hand, cheering and coaching those who display courage and dare to chase greatness. Along with writing occasional articles for local papers, Jeff’s current restlessness has him dreaming of many more novels, while writing at least one musical hit as he goes beyond the three chords he knows on his acoustic guitar.
About the Book:
Ever been overwhelmed by the everyday burdens of life? And yet, everyone else turns to you for support and guidance. You see a person sitting next to you laughing, enjoying life. How did they get there?  
The universe seldom takes the straight path. Seeing someone filled with simple joy can often provide the opportunity for a profound experience. Our long journey is often twisted with depression, angst, dread... But IF we have the energy to keep our eyes open, then solutions may appear in the strangest of places.  
Mentors are everywhere, waiting patiently... IF we look for them. Heroes take many forms, one may be the small child laughing on a swing and another may be the old man smiling contentedly beside you on a bus, or perhaps even the people who look to you for help and guidance. Is it possible to help someone else while helping yourself?
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