It's been a difficult year but things are looking up. First, I went out to fill the bird feeders this afternoon and a warm, comforting sun shone down. Patches of snow had melted to reveal brown grass. Green shoots broke the soil, although barely perceptibly. An enticing earthy smell filled the air.
We started 2009 with three Labrador retrievers but ended it with just one, the 5-year-old baby, Banjo. I knew my old friend Carlos wasn't likely to make it through the year, but I expected to have dear sweet 9-year-old Lucy as a companion for a while longer. Some bizarre event sent her digestive system into complete collapse. Her pancreas ripped apart and she died at the vet clinic on Christmas. Banjo and I both have been mourning her all winter.
Banjo is a good watch dog - when he chooses to be - but he doesn't have the intense protective instinct that his elders did. I guess he never had to, because they were always in charge. So, with spring's arrival I hope to also acquire a protective female. She'll provide the Banj some much-needed company and help keep us safe.
Getting a puppy, however, means I need to get better. Last summer I developed a pinched nerve in my cervical spine which became so extreme that I quit my job. My insurance company recommended Rush Hospital for spine surgery and I met a terrific surgeon there who gives surgery a 90% chance of improving my pain and numbness. I'm looking forward to getting back to work, training a puppy, and even gardening later in the summer.