A Brief News Update From the Animal House

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have quite a little menagerie here.  In my animal loving prime, when I had a lot more energy than I do now, we had 5 Scottish deerhounds, one Brussels Griffon, two cats, two guinea pigs and eight horses, at least one of which I kept a secret from my husband who I feared would think that perhaps things were getting a little bit out of hand.  One day at the barn, he spotted a horse that he just KNEW I would love, and he inquired of the trainer whether the horse was for sale.  She didn’t quite know how to tell him that I already owned that particular animal.

The zoo has been winding down a bit here, mainly because the kids are gone and I am less prone to temptation without their little voices clamoring for that kitten for sale in the parking lot at the grocery store.  The cat with nine lives, eighteen year old Timmy Tom, was put to sleep in August when we could not control his thyroid disease, weight loss and vomiting.  Many of the horses have moved on to greener pastures elsewhere, where new children could learn to ride from the safety of their well-trained backs, and some of the best have passed on to that great green pasture in the sky.  Stormin’ Norman, the little Lipizzaner who carried my daughter through many a dressage test, left in late June to be leased by a beginning dressage rider.  In August she called to say she wanted to extend the lease to six months.

So I was surprised yesterday to get a call from the trainer to say that they would like to send twenty four year old Norman home.  She said that no matter how much she fed him, she couldn’t keep weight on him, and besides, an old stifle problem was recurring.  Fearing the worst, I went over to the boarding/training facility last night to have a look at him.  Now, mind you, this is a horse who has lived in my back yard for the better part of twelve or thirteen years.  Always a personable animal, with a beautiful expressive face and eyes, he knew me as well as any horse can know a person.  So I was surprised last night when I approached him with a bag of carrots and I heard no welcoming whinny.  His head shot up, and if horses can glare, this one positively glared at me.  His expression, plain as day, said, “Where the heck have YOU been, and when are you getting me OUT OF HERE?!”  And then he munched on his carrots.  He looked a little thin, but otherwise fine.

Norman’s coming home to join twenty eight old Dash on Wednesday, and I must say I’m glad.  The two old souls deserve a nice retirement, despite the fact that they really don’t like each other. And Labor Day weekend I visited a friend in Albuquerque who had a litter of eight week old deerhound puppies– it was hard to leave without one but they were all spoken for.  One day soon, I might be hearing the pitter patter of new little feet around these parts. After all, what’s a new carpet for?


  1. Isn’t it great when animals can communicate what they need – and want? He was ready to come home. Enjoy your retirement days Norman.

  2. Old horses don’t tolerate change well. I ran into that with my 26 year old Thoroughbred. Kinda like trying to get my parents into that retirement home. They, too, did NOT tolerate change well.

  3. My older brother Gus and my mom, Marcia came home sometime (I think) in 1978 with a second dog. All I know is there were no pre-discussions; but those two were giddy when they pulled up in the 1976 aqua Chevy Chevette with a 70 pound shep mix. I knew Lancelot Drive was about to get a bit more exciting! But I was terrified of what my very strict, 100% Greek father would say. They had spent about an hour at a field with the dog and when they came home, the newly named rescue, “Killer”, acclimated to life as my mom’s heart hound (and last canine) IMMEDIATELY. She was a shep mix and hence similar to our other dog, Francis. They got along peachy. The only time I ever remember actually conspiring as a family sans dad, was on this day. My younger brother, myself and the guilty parties were to go on about the household upon dad’s arrival from work, like nothing was amiss. And so we did. Dad pulled up from his job, dapper in his suit and frankly, in a fine mood. The smell of my mom’s cooking was divine. Us kids were somewhat on guard and though we neither made a fuss about one or the other dog, we did not necessarily point them out. Because you see, oddly, the dogs just didn’t seem to be in the same room at the same time for HOURS. And so the little issue of a second dog was not a big deal. Dad sat down in the living room and in walks Francis. Dad lovingly acknowledges Francis. Later, Francis leaves and Killer walks in. We ALL HOLD OUR BREATH. Dad, “…why hi sweet Francis…”. He pets the dog. We’re blown away. But we go along with it. Hours pass. Dad decides to have a snack on a tv tray in the living room (variety shows play loudly in the background). Francis comes to sit by Dad and gets a snack. Right off the fork I might add ;(. Then Killer walks in, sees the food and sits immediately for her turn. We are crushed the gig is up. He looks at Francis. Then at Killer and laughs a jolly laugh. How long has she been here? She’s beautiful. What’s her name? Francis lived to be very old. Killer died at 7 of lymphoma and my mom never recovered from her loss.

    1. Andrea, thanks for telling that story. I am so glad your Dad took it with great humor. And that your mother had a wonderful dog to love. That’s what our pets are all about–love, pure and simple. M

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