Miz Peaches LaRoo, B.C., showed up, hungry and sick, the day after Thanksgiving 2009... Miz Peaches LaRoo, B.C., joined us in Limoux, with "Monkey girl" assistant Diane
and a suspicious-looking bronze statue in the b.g. which we strive to ignore... Miz Peaches LaRoo, B.C., was thrilled to meet new "Big Brother" Shmoo Alexander, whom we trust, sort of, except when we don't...
Miz Peaches LaRoo, B.C., and Big Brother Shmoo Alexander then decided to go on an adventure... But after much adventuring, Miz Peaches LaRoo, B.C., is feeling sleepy... But... "Did you say steak?" Meanwhile, Mr. Shmoo Alexander was recovering from too much adventuring...
by Her Faithful Friend Randy
The Blessing that Was Maggie
Not even a full day since our dear, Diva Maggie crossed the Rainbow Bridge [on February 26, 2008], but already we must accept that life goes on. Shmoo must be walked, fed, cuddled. And, his presence is probably keeping us whole for now.
But Maggie was something that is so rare in life. In the dog world, we talk about that “special” one; that dog who comes into your life and connects with you in a way that no other has before or will again. That dog is known as your “heart dog.” And, for us, for me, that was Maggie in a nutshell.
From the very first time that I saw an ad in the paper mentioning her name, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was ours and would always be ours. Now, I know that those of you with a logical turn of mind will think me crazy, but I have always felt that our previous dog, the Late, Great, Taffy-Jerôme decided that it was his time to go, because he knew that Maggie was there waiting for us and we needed a push to go out to find her. He told us he was ready to go exactly a week before we found Maggie.
When we went to see Maggie that bright, southern California morning in Santa Monica, the connection was immediate and strong. Even the people from the pet rescue group were astonished. But it was clear Maggie had been waiting for us and needed us as much as we needed her.
From the instant she walked in our door, it was clear she was special. There was the look of an old, wise soul in her eyes. I could look at her and know that we were “speaking” with each other. It was not like looking into the eyes of just a dog, but looking into the deep pools of a cognizant, communicating being who just did not have words to explain her thoughts.
Maggie had a hard life before she came to us and our goal was to spoil her rotten. We did that to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Maggie’s hardships did not end when she came to us. Three years after we adopted her she developed a Mast Cell tumor. Luckily, I had found it early and it was easily excised. But, two years later I felt something disquieting on her side. It took me a while to convince our vet that something was there; because even though she was a good vet, she did not know my girl as I knew her. Finally, it grew large enough and when it was removed our worst fears were confirmed: fibrosarcoma.
Fibrosarcoma is a bad cancer, and most dogs don’t survive more than six months. Maggie’s tumor grew back and the second surgery was carried out at one of L.A.’s premier animal clinics. The surgery was radical: removal of three ribs and a part of her diaphragm. But it was the only way to have even a hope of getting all the nasty little offshoots of the tumor. I won’t even tell you how much it cost, but we took on a debt so large that we nearly ruptured our relationship with my in-laws over it, because they thought we were insane. But, what choice was there? Maggie was our girl and we had to do our best for her.
Amazingly, she not only survived but thrived. When, a few months later we made the move to France, she came through that hard, frightening experience with dignity and gentleness. The minute she arrived in Paris, she walked through CDG airport as if she had been doing it her entire life.
Once we were here in the Possum Kingdom, she opened doors and hearts for us as if she possessed some kind of magical key. And, thinking about it, I suppose she did; once again it was her special spirit and gentleness at work. She came everywhere with us and was always, unfailingly, a lady. Everyone who saw her instinctively knew that she was special and opened up.
Then, last year, those same mysterious forces which had sent us Maggie, sent us Shmoo. We have never wanted to have more than one dog at a time for a variety of reasons. But not only did Shmoo choose us, but Maggie chose Shmoo! Instead of being jealous and guarding her humans from him, she welcomed him, played with him and seemed to blossom with his presence.
Did our special girl know that soon we would be in need of the Shmoo’s healing qualities? We’ll never know; but I like to think that she felt easier in crossing the Bridge, knowing that he was here to help us through the loss.
Ciao for now.
par sa fidèle amie Randy
La bénédiction que fut Maggie
Il ne s'est pas encore écoulé une journée depuis que notre chère Diva Maggie s'en est allée de l'autre côté du Pont Arc-en-Ciel [le 26 février 2008], mais nous devons déjà accepter que la vie continue. On doit sortir Shmoo pour ses promenades quotidiennes, le nourir et le caresser et le réconforter. Et sa présence parmi nous est probablement ce qui nous permet de conserver le moral en ce moment.
Mais Maggie était quelqu'un d'une grande rareté dans la vie. Chez les amateurs de chiens, on mentionne parfois la notion de chien "spécial", le chien qui entre dans votre vie et vous touche d'une façon intime qu'aucun autre chien n'a jamais réussi à atteindre, ou ne réussira jamais à atteindre. On les appelle parfois les "chiens de coeur", et pour nous, pour moi, Maggie était cela.
Dès la première fois que j'ai découvert son nom dans une petite annonce dans le journal local (le LOS ANGELES TIMES), j'ai su sans le moindre doute qu'elle était destinée à devenir notre chien pour le reste de sa vie. Je sais que ceux d'entre vous qui ont une forme d'esprit cartésienne penseront que je divague un peu, mais j'ai toujours pensé que notre chien précédent, le grand Taffy Jérôme, avait décidé que son heure était venue (après 19 ans de vie glorieuse) parce qu'il savait que Maggie était là à nous attendre, et que nous avions besoin d'une motivation pour la trouver. Il nous fit savoir qu'il était prêt à partir exactement une semaine avant que nous rencontrions Maggie.
Quand nous fîmes connaissance de Maggie pour la première fois, un beau matin ensoleillé de Californie à Santa Monica, nous établîmes tout de suite un rapport solide et empathique. Même les gens du groupe d'adoption qui la sponsorisaient en furent étonnés. Mais il était clair que Maggie nous attendait et qu'elle avait besoin de nous, tout autant que nous avions besoin d'elle.
Dès l'instant où elle franchit notre seuil, il fut évident qu'élle était spéciale. Ses yeux contenait la sagesse et la bonté d'une vieille âme. Je pouvais la regarder et savoir que nous nous "parlions". Ce n'était pas comme regarder dans les yeux de n'importe quel autre chien, mais dans ceux, profonds, d'un être conscient, capable de communiquer, mais qui n'a simplement pas les mots pour exprimer ses pensées.
Maggie avait eu une vie difficile avant de nous rejoindre et notre but fut de la rendre aussi heureuse que possible, quitte à la gâter. Hélas, en dépit de nos intentions, ses malheurs ne s'arrêtèrent pas là. Trois après son adoption, elle fut victime d'une tumeur "mast cell". Par chance, nous la découvrîmes tout de suite et la fîmes enlever. Mais deux ans plus tard, je sentis au toucher une masse inquiétante sur son flanc droit. Il me fallut encore convaincre notre vétérinaire que c'était quelque chose de suspect, parce que bien qu'elle était une bonne vétérinaire, elle ne connaissait pas notre petite Maggie aussi intimement que nous. Quand la masse grossit, Maggie fut opérée et les résultats confirmèrent mes pires craintes: c'etait un fibrosarcome.
Le fibrosarcome est un mauvais cancer, et la plupart des chiens n'y survivent pas six mois. La tumeur de Maggie repoussa et il fallut procéder à une seconde intervention, qui fut faite dans l'une des meilleures cliniques vétérinaires spécialisées de Los Angeles. Ce fut une opération radicale: on enleva à Maggie trois côtes et une partie du diaphragme, mais c'était la seule façon, le seul espoir d'essayer de prévenir le retour de la tumeur. Je ne vous dirais pas ici quel fut le coût de l'opération, mais nous dûmes nous endetter à un point tel que mes beaux-parents pensèrent que nous avions perdu la tête de faire ça pour un chien. Mais nous n'avions pas le choix. Maggie était notre compagnon et nous devions faire tout ce qui était en notre pouvoir pour elle.
Incroyablement, non seulement elle survécut, mais elle prospéra. Quelques mois plus tard, nous quittions les Etats-Unis pour venir vivre en France. Elle supporta cette longue et pénible transition avec sa dignité et gentillesse habituelle. Dès son arrivée à Paris, elle traversa l'aéroport Charles de Gaulle posément et dignement, comme si elle n'avait que cela toute sa vie.
Après que nous fûmes établis ici, au Royaume des Possums, elle contribua à nous ouvrir maintes portes, comme si sa présence était une clé magique, et à réflexion, cela était le cas, car une fois de plus, c'était sa gentillesse et sa nature exceptionelle qui firent des merveilles. Elle allait de partout avec nous et se conduisait toujours en parfaite gente dame. Tout le monde qui fit sa connaissance vit instinctivement qu'elle était un chien merveilleux et nous accueillit en conséquence.
Puis, l'année dernière, les mêmes puissances mystérieuses qui nous avaient envoyé Maggie nous envoyèrent Shmoo. Nous n'avions jamais désiré avoir plus d'un chien à la fois pour tout un tas de raisons. Mais non seulement Shmoo nous choisit, mais Maggie choisit Shmoo! Au lieu d'être jalouse et d'essayer de garder "ses humains" pour elle, elle lui souhaita la bienvenue, joua avec lui et s'épanouit en sa présence.
Est-ce que notre très chère compagne savait que nous aurions bientôt grand besoin des pouvoirs curatifs de la présence de Shmoo? Nous ne le saurons jamais, mais j'aime à croire qu'elle se sentit plus prête à emprunter le Pont Arc-en-Ciel en sachant que Shmoo était parmi nous pour nous aider à supporter la douleur de son départ.
Ciao pour le moment.
Maggie McMiggins (and her two human helpers) visit the notorious Bastille district of Paris and Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, home of famous Police Commissioner Maigret (who, sadly, did not have a dog).
Then Maggie McMiggins (and her bedraggled assistant) takes part in a Parisian demonstration by French Workers and Trade Unions in favor of the 35-hours week. Maggie wears her Che Guevara red bandana to express undying solidarity with the struggling masses (but is nevertheless concerned by the abundance of air horns).
The whipped cream can stands alone.
Where are the amber eyes that,
With such desire, stare,
Begging with dignity
For even just a small taste of its
The corner, clean of dust
Where the furry black body
Curls up in happiness and security,
Gapes emptily, no sighs of contentment
Making themselves heard.
Empty, empty, all echoes too emptily.
No sounds of joy.
Even the walls wait for the return of love.
© 2004 Randy Lofficier.
by Randy LOFFICIER
With barely disguised
I allow you to feed me your leftovers
I lie here on the cold, hard floor
Watching as you gorge on
While I eat indistinguishable morsels
From metallic, clanging bowls.
You proclaim your love
Yet why am I not served with
Gold and fine linen,
The Princess of your heart?
© 2004 Randy Lofficier.
by Randy LOFFICIER
This came to me while watching Maggie napping. I'll warn you in advance, it's very sentimental.
My heart is full of joy;
Your warm breath
Makes my hand tingle
With the feather touch of
My love for you
Knows no bounds;
Your flanks swell and fall
With the force of your
Your glossy coat,
Shimmering in the sun;
A warm tongue on my palm;
My soul swells with happiness
Because of your
© 2002 Randy Lofficier
by Diva Maggie McMiggins
Morning. My day begins and I've got a job to do. My humans count on me for so many things. Sometimes it's tiring living up to their expectations, but I live to make them happy. It's 4:30, I need to get started.
My first task is to make sure that She knows that I love her. To accomplish this I go over to the human bed and poke at her with my nice cold, wet nose. Sometimes, She makes this difficult by hiding under the covers. But I won't be dissuaded. I know that's just a trick she tries to test me.
Ah, She pats my head. That means she knows that I love her. I can take care of my second job: making sure the humans are warm enough. I jump up on the bed and get in between the two of them. They don't realize how difficult it is to keep them both warm. I need to stretch out as long as I can so that I can reach them both.
Now She is getting up to go to the tile room. When it's light out I like to follow her in there. I'm still looking for the secret door I know she must have there. I haven't found it, but I'm sure it exists. But that's for another time. For now, I have to move to the pillow spot to keep it nice and warm until She gets back. It's so comfortable there I fall asleep. I don't want to move, but She is making me. What I do to keep them happy.
It's getting light out now and They are still asleep. Don't they know that there are things to do? Important things! In fact, what's that noise? I need to go and see what it is; it could be important. What if a c*t is coming near? I'll make my most ferocious noises; that will frighten whatever it is away.
Oh, how lucky! My yelling at the street has woken Them up! Great! I'll jump back on the bed and let them tell me how wonderful I am. I love when they scratch my head and rub my tummy. It is almost the best thing in the whole world. I'm so excited I can't control myself, and I sneeze in happiness and sing in joy.
At last, They're up. Now the important part of the day can begin. I lay and watch to see what They will do. He goes to the far room where he sits all day and touches the box on his desk. Sometimes He also talks into the thing in his hand. I don't understand what he is doing, but he must like it 'cause he does it a lot.
I'll go with Her though. She goes into the food room. I need to watch to make sure that she doesn't forget that I'm here. I'm hungry! She gets things out of the big white box with cold air in it. Oh! She has ham! I love ham! Is that for me? I hope, I hope, I hope! It is!!!! Joy! But wait… what's this? She's put one of those small white yucky tasting things in the ham. Does She think I'm stupid? I manage to eat all the ham and spit the yucky thing on the floor. Unfortunately, she notices and shoves it into my mouth in a place where I have to swallow it. I bet she wouldn't like it if I did that to Her!
Ham is gone. I'd better go out and patrol. I sit first and look up at the sky and trees. I can't believe it! A tree-sheep has the nerve to come on my trees! It must be stopped! I run as fast as I can and leap up in the air yelling as loud as can be. "Get down! Get down! You don't belong here!!!" It just sits up there and laughs at me. I'll sit here and stare at it forever if that's what it takes to make it go away.
Finally, it's gone. But there are more things happening. The man who puts paper things in the big box by the gate is here. He's afraid of me, I can tell. I run and yell really loudly at him and he scampers away. I am the winner once again.
Different people come on different days. Some of them I like and I sing happily for them. Some of them I really don't like at all. The worst are the ones who come with the noise machines. She makes me stay in the house when they are here. Doesn't She see how dangerous they are? Their machines make noise and smell and blow the leaves in the air. Why can't they just leave everything alone. I don't like it when they are here.
Finally, it is quiet. It is time for a nap. I go to lay in a nice spot of sun where I will sleep and dream of all the wonderful things I have done today and all the wonderful things left to be done tomorrow.
© 2001 Randy Lofficier.
When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to have a dog. I had seen all those television shows and read all those books, showing children and their faithful companions. The one creature who could always be counted upon in times of sorrow, or crisis, or need of any kind; or just to love and be loved.
Standing in the way of this was the fact that my mother really didn’t want a dog. She didn’t want to be left taking care of it and she didn’t want to fall in love with it. But I was a resourceful child. I begged and wheedled, and finally came up with “The Plan.” I promised to keep my half of the bedroom I shared with my sister clean and neat for three months. My mother, secure in the fact that I lived with a complete and total slob, agreed. She lost.
Once the main part of the deal was won, I still had to convince her to let me get the kind of dog I wanted. Here, the ground rules were simple, my mother would get to pick the breed. I was willing. A dog was a dog.
At the age of nine we brought home our first puppy. She was a six-month old Yorkie named “Jane of the Vale”.
Unfortunately for me, Janie was clearly my mother’s dog. She adored Mom and Mom adored her. They even shared a morning cup of coffee. Try as I might, I could never get Janie to bond with me.
Several years later I was able to convince my parents to try again. We decided to get a second dog. This time, we all fell in love with an adorable Maltese that I dubbed “Avis”, because she was number two and tried harder. Avis was indeed my dog. She loved me and I loved her, but somehow it still wasn’t the relationship I had always hoped to have.
Years went by, my two childhood friends went to the Bridge, I grew up and moved across the country. I met the love of my life and married. Still, in spite of a shared passion for all things canine, we remained dogless.
Then, one day I went out to the parking lot of our apartment by the beach. Cowering in the corner of the garage was this small caramel-colored creature. He was hungry and terrified. I ran back to the apartment and convinced my love to come out and see the poor quailing creature. At first he refused. He knew that if he came to look his heart would melt.
Finally, with some slices of ham in hand, he came with me. Poor little dog, he wanted that ham, but he was so afraid. Finally, he ate it, growling as fiercely as he could the whole time. With the help of a neighbor we managed to capture him. As soon as he was in my arms, he melted against me in total surrender. We decided to call him Taffy, just so that we had a name to use until someone claimed him. Taffy lived with us for eighteen years.
He was wonderful dog. We thought he was a mutt until we found his picture in a dog book, listed under Basset Fauve de Bretagne. The personality description was perfect: stubborn and independent. That was Taffy in a nutshell. I like to say that Taffy allowed us to live in his house as long as we did as we were told. He wasn’t particularly affectionate, except when he felt like it, but he was a special character. There isn’t enough room to write about all the funny quirks that made up our Taffy Jerome. Thinking about him will always make me smile. Still, as much as I loved him, and that was more than I could possibly describe, it wasn’t the relationship of which I had always dreamed.
Then, this past Easter, my poor sweet Taffy crossed the Bridge. I said I could not have another dog. I wasn’t ready. The last six months of Taffy’s life had been difficult for him as well as for us. I didn’t think it would be fair to another dog, I would always be making comparisons. Not yet…
But the silence in the house was deafening. My love and I both work at home and the lack of a doggish presence was too much to bear. Finally, we admitted it, our friends had been right. We needed to have a dog in our lives.
Saturday morning rolled around. We were going to start looking, go to a couple of rescue fairs and see what dogs were available. I looked in the paper under adoptions to find some places to visit. As I scanned the column there it was, “Orphaned. Maggie, 1 year-old Border Collie/Black Lab X.” Somewhere deep inside I knew that we were meant for each other. She had lost her family, we had lost our baby. We needed each other.
That afternoon my love and I went to the pet fair. All the dogs were pulling at their leads, jumping, barking like mad. At the end of the group was a beautiful, quiet, gentle creature. We went over to meet Maggie. I sat down in a chair and immediately she came to sit between my feet; as time passed she pushed closer and closer to me. Then, my love sat on the sidewalk and she went to sit in his lap. We were smitten. We agreed to a trial period to see if Maggie wanted to love us as much as we wanted to love her.
The time between Saturday and Tuesday crawled by at a snail’s pace. I went out and bought her everything I could think of that she might want. Then, she was here. That first night she was so afraid. I sat on the floor beside her for hours, stroking her head and belly. She slept on the floor next to my side of the bed all night. She got up a dozen times to put her head on the bed to reassure herself that I was still there. In the morning she chattered and sang with happiness when I awoke. I knew. I knew that morning that it had happened, finally… The relationship I had always sought. I had found the dog of my dreams, and I was happy.
© 1998 Randy Lofficier.
Maggie is a lucky dog. She lives in Southern California where the weather is pretty nice all year long. This enables her to have a nice backyard that she can visit anytime she wants. She wants to visit it frequently. Sometimes every five or ten minutes. This has become a game she plays. Wait for Mom to sit down in her recliner with the laptop in front of her and SCCCCRATTCH at the screen door to be let in or out. Part of the fun of this game is to see how fast Mom will run to save what remains of the door. Now that it has several large holes, there is, of course, not much to save.
Mom and Dad have discussed the merits of a dog door, but Dad is fixedly opposed. Mom figures she will eventually get around this. Perhaps Dad is opposed because his office is at the other end of the house from the screen door, so he doesn't have to stop working to open it quite as often. Sometimes Mom gets fed up and leaves the door open, which Maggie likes, and so do the thousands of LA bugs that share her yard.
This past weekend, Mom discovered a great, temporary solution. It is a Bug-Off, a kind of portable, screen curtain that can be put in the doorframe by means of a tension rod. The center opening is held closed with two magnets, so human or dog can just push through the center to go in or out and the two halves close together nicely afterwards. Mom and Dad were both satisfied with this.
Maggie is another story. Maggie thinks the Bug-Off is a tool of the devil. It looks like the screen door, but when you scratch at it it moves and doesn't make that satisfying shredding sound which is so amusing. To make matters worse, Mom and Dad are trying to make Maggie run through the evil thing. That can't be right!
Maggie has deigned to go through when it's held open for her, but at other times stands on one side or the other and "roo-roos" her displeasure. Finally she decided that she would try. She backed up a couple of steps, put her head down and ran without looking. Oh frabjous day! Calooh! Callay! She's through and her tummy is being rubbed! Yes, Maggie is a lucky dog.
© 1998 Randy Lofficier.
A Rescue's Lament
My life before you was so sad
The loneliness haunts me still
Was it my fault?
Was I that bad?
I try not to think about it,
But in my dreams,
The dark demons chase me.
I cry out! I am alone!
Then, there is your hand,
Stroking my head,
Holding my paw
You remind me
I am loved once more
I am no longer alone
Do you wonder why I am here,
By your side?
© 1999 Randy Lofficier.
We'll never know about the early part of Maggie's life. She was several months old when she was tied to a gate somewhere in Los Angeles. The couple who owned the gate fell in love with her when they saw her and took her in. They were the ones who named her Maggie. By all accounts that year of her life was a good one. The couple loved her and cared for her, although they didn't spay her, that was done later.
Then, after about a year, Maggie's life changed again. Her couple were both killed in an automobile accident. Poor Maggie was abandoned, due to no one's fault but a bad or drunk driver. Someone cared enough to place the poor sad girl with a local pet rescue, not specifically a BC rescue, but run by caring people nevertheless. For the first two months there was no foster family for her. She lived in a kennel. Then, a foster family was found. I don't know why that didn't work out, but they only kept her for two or three months. Knowing Maggie I can't understand how they could give her up, but they did.
The next foster family was not a pleasant experience. The woman of the house didn't like dirt, didn't like touching dogs and had cats. Maggie was left to live outside in a dog run for another couple of months. She had no human companionship at all. For a reason that escapes me, the foster family got a load of fire wood (we live in Los Angeles, don't need much in the way of fireplaces here!), the wood was infested with ticks. Maggie was covered in 125 of them when they took her for grooming.
During the entire 6 to 8 month period that she was in rescue, there were over two dozen applications from families who wanted to adopt her, and there were over two dozen more people who were interested in her, but who were not even permitted to apply for her. For myself, I am glad; for Maggie, when I heard that it broke my heart. I can't imagine how bad those homes could have been if she was left with the foster family that obviously didn't care for her properly.
The day I met Maggie, it was so clear that she was afraid. But it was also clear that she wanted desperately to be loved and once again have a family of her own. As the weeks of our togetherness went by, it was such a joy to see her fear drop away. She has so much love to give, and. I feel so lucky that Jean-Marc and I were the ones chosen to receive it. Does she love?. It takes only one look into her laughing amber eyes to see that answer.
She may be recycled, but she's a special girl who didn't deserve the misery and abandonment she had to endure. I hope we have many years together to share our love.
© 1998 Randy Lofficier.
Old dog sleeping in the sun,
Dreaming your dreams of
Deeds never done.
What thoughts make you quiver?
What smells make you sigh?
How many summers are left,
By and by?
A faithful companion,
Our friend of long date,
What dreams will you leave us,
When you go to your fate?
Old dog dreaming,
Your life is not yet done,
May you have many days ahead,
For lying in the sun.
I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My father and his six brothers were in the rag trade. They manufactured women’s clothing. Over the years the business mutated through many forms, from high-end, fur-lined raincoats to bargain basement ready-to-wear. Often, the Apfelbaum boys were way ahead of their times. They would have clothing lines designed that would bomb totally with the clothing buyers. Yet, strangely, when the women of the family would wear samples of these outfits, strangers would stop them on the street to learn where the clothes had been purchased.
One of these daring experiments was the “Bow-Wow” line. “Bow-Wows” was an intriguing idea consisting of matching children’s and dog coats. To illustrate the way the clothing would work, two different modeling systems were created. One of them was a pair of extremely expensive stuffed dogs, which later provided me with a painfully embarrassing memory. The other required the participation of the seven cousins who, at the time, were old enough to walk.
Thus, one fine Philadelphia morning, the seven of us were awakened by our parents and bundled off to Rittenhouse Square. There, we were dressed in cute little coats and introduced to our hearts’ desire: six dogs of differing breeds, each dressed to match a child, or in one case, a pair of children.
The years passed, we grew up and apart. We went on with our lives and moved to new cities. Twenty years passed, and one day in a drawer, there it was, the photograph commemorating the event. Kids in coats with dogs in coats, a vision of an innocent age long ago.