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Thursday, October 20, 2011


I am really enjoying making the 'ads' using my dogs. This newest one is my oldest dog - Matisse. He is just about 16 years old and has been with me since he was a baby. I adopted him when I was in my early 20s. I had just bought my first home and it was a fixer upper and had been working on it for a long time. It was an exciting time for me- I would work all day in an office and then run over and strip wall paper, knock down walls, rip up carpeting and paint and then go home to my parents exhausted to sleep. I had been working on the house for several weeks and had finally gotten to the point where I would be able to live in it. I remember moving day well. I was at the house and my Mom had called and said they were ready to leave with the truck and I needed to come back ... I left my house to meet them and as I was driving over the interstate a man ran through a red light off of the interstate ramp and slammed into me. He was on his cellphone. I had to be pulled from the car - it was totaled. Luckily, my brother, who was in the passenger side, was not injured. I was not so lucky. My hand was so broke that it stuck out the side and I had so much pain everywhere. I was taken to the ER in an ambulance and I ended up not being able to move to my home that day... in fact, it was several weeks later that I was able to go back. I had worked so hard on my home and on the most exciting day I had ended up being broken and unable to continue my work. It was so depressing. 

My birthday came and my Grandparents gave me a $25 check. I decided there was only one thing I wanted with that $25 and that was a dog. It was the exact amount that the local animal shelter charged for adoptions at the time. However, adopting a dog would mean that I would have to move into my home meaning I would no longer get assistance in doing things and I was still healing. But, I didn't care.. I needed something to motivate me and get me excited again. 

I went to the shelter with the intent of finding a large dog or puppy that would grow to be a giant. I fell in love with a german shepherd puppy, but was told it was on hold. I was about to leave empty handed when I stopped by a pen by the door with little puppies in it. I had not looked at them when I first got there since they were little..and were not going to grow to be giants. But I stopped and looked at them. Three puppies... one looked like a poodle - one looked like a terrier and then there was one that looked much more unique. My hand was still messed up so I had to ask one of the shelter workers to pick up the little unique one- as soon as I had him in my arms I knew that I no longer needed a large dog- I needed that one. As I filled out the paper work, the person who the german shepherd was being held for called and canceled. I kept the unique puppy since I thought it was meant to be.. it was. 

The puppy and I moved into my house and I was able to continue working on my home- often one handed. He was a little crazy so I decided to name him Matisse- since the artist Matisse was referred to as a wild beast. As I worked on pulling old staples out of the hardwood floors, Matisse would bring me his toy to play catch. He never stopped - he was always moving- always. 

Later, I ended up selling that house and I went to college- Matisse was with me through my Associates degree- my Bachelors- and my Masters degree.. he endured the long nights I put into school and work for many years.. he never complained. He would wait patiently for me and as soon as I walked through the door he would jump up and down and up and down to greet me.. I remember thinking how nice it would be when he would get old and calm down a little. 

In grad school I took Matisse to the dog park- there is a fantastic and huge one in Memphis where I lived. He would run and play catch for hours- he had so much energy and would play until he collapsed. He loved to swim- loved it. He was always jumping in the ponds at my apartment complex and he would jump in the lakes at the dog park. He always did this funny thing where he would jump up in the air as he went in.. it was the kind of thing that made all the people in the park stop, notice, and comment about it... people would see me and say "Isn't he the dog that does that jump thing in the lake?"

Matisse was with me through several jobs. Some of my jobs were so low paying that we had to live in very meager housing and sometimes I would worry how I would feed my dogs and myself. He never complained - he just dealt with the times I had to buy the cheap food and seemed to like the times I used rice to make his food go further. He made me feel a little safer in some of the scary places- like the falling apart shack I lived in when I was in Knoxville- sometimes the lock didn't catch and I knew that if he heard a sound he would let me know ...and I could jump out the back window. He was never as scared as I was living in some places.

Years after I adopted him, I moved back to my parents. My Mom had a stroke and I needed to help her as she had helped me when I had been in my car accident. Even though we had been away from my parents's house for years he remembered it.. I always thought that was his favorite of all our homes. He would curl up in bed with me when I was worried about my Mom's failing health and when she died he stayed with me - not seeming to know what to do, but knowing he must be at my side. 

When I found out I had cancer I was devastated. However, Matisse was there for me - yet again. As I lay in bed healing from surgeries he stayed at the end of my bed... he would not get up until I did. He would not eat or go outside unless I had someone take him. During chemo, he would follow me to the bathroom and wait by the door until I was done being sick- he would look at me as if to ask "are you ok?". Cancer sucked, but having Matisse there made it just a little bit better. 

I am healthy now, but Matisse is the one who needs me to be by his side. Sometimes he gets confused and forgets to go out to go to the bathroom. Other times he can't remember how to get out of the porch. But some days he is clear and well seeming- but, he sleeps a lot. He sleeps most of the time. Matisse no longer wants to play... it is too much for him. I finally moved into a place with a pool- but it takes too much out of him to swim... I really miss the old wild Matisse... I really do. 

So, I decided to make an ad for the old dogs.. for Matisse. I don't know what I would have done without that crazy dog all these years... and it breaks my heart every time I have seen elderly pets end up in the shelter-- I think about all the times they may have stood by their person only to be dumped. I would never do that to Matisse.. I will lose him- but it will be to old age.. I would never give him up.. he is too awesome. 

Please feel free to pass on Matisse's ad.. that is why make them. It is just one little thing I can try and do for all the other Matisses out there. 

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