JUNE GLOOM (AWOL From The Dog Park)

Dudley and Blanche

Ever since his 4-year anniversary, Tanner and his humans have been busy with a host of projects, including finding a home for GIMME SHELTER. The journey continues and we hope to have an agent in place by Eugenie’s birthday (June 21). In addition to tweaking the book, crafting a proposal and starting a rewrite on my play, “All That He Could Be” (the true story of the only solider to successfully challenge the ban on gays in the U.S. Military – a black drag queen!),  I’ve been I’ve been teaching at Probation and Eugenie has been carving like a mad woman. She’s submitting to several galleries and competitions and applying for grants as well.  On top of that, we took a quick trip to Palm Springs to visit Eugenie’s mom, for Mother’s Day. It was 100+ and Melissa’s AC was out!  Thankfully, our friends Toni, Ron and Alana let us stay at their place in Palm Desert. Tanner dislikes the heat and long drives but he bore up surprisingly well.  On a sad note, Melissa’s beloved Pug, Dudley passed away recently, a few months shy of his 15th b-day. Dud was a funny, mischievous little imp who trained his owner to do his bidding. For most of his life, he spent the summers with us when things got too warm in the Desert, so we’ll miss him terribly, too.


‘Make-Up’ cuddles

In addition to work and travel, we’ve been fixing up the house in anticipation of our niece Margaret’s wedding two months from now, when all of the Spirito famiglia will descend on SoCal, many for their first visit since we moved here in 1991. We can’t have them thinking we live in a slum, albeit one with palm trees and an ocean view (if you stand on your toes in the upstairs loft). Like his grumpy ‘father (and our late cat, Blanche) Tanner HATES changes to his environment or routine. Sprucing up the master bath fits that label, and he’s been on edge the entire time.  It doesn’t help that we’ve been AWOL at the dog park lately so Poor Tanner has had to make do with local play dates, extra treats and cuddles in bed.


As it too often does, the ‘June Gloom’ has settled in bringing overcast skies and chilly (by California standards) temperatures. Tanner likes it cool but not foggy, and he detests the rain. I like it warm and sunny, so I’m bummed. 
                                                                                               ~  ~  ~
“Our first year here it rained all spring and the lousy weather lasted well into fall.  Like a kid who’d been promised a trip to Disneyland but forced to settle for a T-shirt, I felt gypped. And ill. Before we quit New York, Eugenie’s mom graciously supervised the fix-up on our Malibu rental. Under her decorator’s eye, the place was painted top to bottom, the floors and furniture refinished, and new carpeting installed. The work took all of February.  During that time it rained so fiercely that she kept the doors and windows shut tight, allowing the petrochemical fumes to reach critical mass. When we boarded the plane that would take us to the Left Coast, we had no idea that we’d be moving into a toxic time bomb. Shortly after we arrived my head began to pound. I was green, listless, and in constant agony.  I tried aspirin, massage, and meditation. Nothing could blunt the pain. Either I was dying, or I was allergic to California. I agreed to give it one more week; then I was flying back to New York where I’d stay until I recovered. In desperation, Eugenie took me to see a homeopath who diagnosed me with chemical poisoning. I scoffed, but I took the little sugar pills and the headaches went away.” (from “Gimme Shelter: A Damaged Pit Bull, an Angry Man and How They Saved Each Other”).
                                                                                              ~  ~  ~
Right now Tanner is crashed out on his bed, taking advantage of a lull in the hammering and sawing to catch up on his sleep. He’d better since we’re off to Fashion Island in Costa Mesa tomorrow to visit with Eugenie’s godfather, Gene, and his wife, Jennifer. There will be tons of Yorkies, Shih Tzus  and other pocket pooches at the mall so Tanner will makes lots of new ‘friends’ and probably scare a few uptight O.C. residents.
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VENI, VIDI, VINCI: We came, we saw, we didn’t barf!

For those of you new to our story, Tanner doesn’t like the car.  ‘Doesn’t like’ as in used to puke every time he set foot in it.  That soggy stage lasted about a year, then he calmed down (a relative thing) to only profuse drooling and shaking.  It’s all chronicled in GIMME SHELTER: a Damaged Pit Bull, and Angry Man and How They Saved Each Other, which we hope will be available soon.

The past six months or so, however, he’s made a quantum leap.  I used to sit in back with him whenever we went out but he now rides ‘up front’, with his butt resting on the rear seat, his back paws on the floor, and the bulk of his muscular torso stretched out on the console of our Prius.  He still looks miserable but the barfing as stopped and the drooling has slowed to a mere trickle.  This past Wednesday, we took a last minute trip to Palm Springs to visit Eugenie’s mom.  Her 14-year-old Pug, Dudley, is failing and we thought it only right to say ‘goodbye’, especially since Dud spent a good portion of his first ten years living at our house.
Tanner & Dudley 1/18/12 (Palm Springs, CA)

Tanner made it all the way to the Desert huddled in his new car pose, with me cupping his massive head in my free hand (I was driving!) and Eugenie cuddling him from the passenger seat.  Eugenie’s mom was thrilled to have us and Dud greeted us like long lost pals.  He looked like Methuselah – limp, gray all over, missing teeth – but much better than we’d feared.  He took three walks with us, doing his best to set the pace like the old days, and he made sure to chase Tanner away from any and all treats.  He’s on all sorts of meds that might be propping him up but, for the time being, he’s still here.   


Tanner spent the night on his travel bed, sandwiched between Eugenie (sofa) and me (inflatable bed).  At home, our mattress is two-plus feet off the ground which requires some effort on his part (and an invitation from us) to reach.  But my inflatable bed was on the floor and he took full advantage of the situation to crawl in next to me for morning cuddles.  Boy, was Eugenie jealous. 

Tanner gave an encore performance on the ride home.  He yawned and fussed a bit but he kept his food down.  Eugenie drove this time and somewhere around El Monte, he began inching forward until he was curled in my lap, where he fell asleep until we reached  our complex.  It was a far cry from the days when a ten-minute run to the store left him wrung out and car reeking of vomit.  Even with his new attitude, the journey left him gassed and he spent the evening at home, snoring away.