On Monday, October 24, we had to put down our 16-year-old dog, Lucky. We knew he was old and wouldn’t last forever, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

We discovered that he had cancer on Friday. By Sunday he had deteriorated so much that he couldn’t stand or walk. We had to carry him back to the emergency vet. We got test results back on Monday that gave us the worst news. His cancer was aggressive, advanced stage and spread through his abdomen and pancreas. We decided to let him go without further suffering.


It all happened so quickly at the end that we are in shell shock as well as extreme grief. The trauma of his death is still raw but I can now start missing the dog I loved. I can begin to remember what a unique and wonderful dog he was and how much he added to our family.

Lucky was a regal looking Chow/Shiba Inu mix. He had a thick double coat of off-white fluffy fur that came out in clumps several times a year when he ‘moulted’. He would look like a sheep who was only partly shorn and in an odd pattern. He also had the Chow purple tongue.


He was an incredibly independent dog. He did his own thing and if you didn’t like it, it was your problem! He had no interest in pleasing humans and did not see humans (even professional dog trainers) as authority figures. We have been told by several of those trainers that he was one of the few untrainable dogs they had ever met. But he never did anything we really objected to, except steal food off the counters when we left it too close to the edge. So we didn’t mind his independent streak.


On the other hand, his charm and personality were off the charts. He was a happy dog with what really looked like a smile. When he bounded up to you or nuzzled you to get affection, everyone just melted. And absolutely everyone loved Lucky. People who met him were always taken with him. He was genuinely winsome and appealing. He was also dignified and not at all needy, so you sort of felt flattered when he paid attention to you and wanted affection back in return.

Lucky had another unique character trait. He had more fixed habits and routines than any other dog either Tom or I have had (and that’s a lot of dogs). He had a strong sense of territory and made his rounds through the house and yard. He would go in and out of the doggie door at least 50 times a day!


He particularly loved to sit on the back stoop in an iconic pose – his butt on the top step and his front paws on the lower step. From there he surveyed his domain for hours, rain or shine. On rainy days we lived with constant wet dog smell. As soon as he’d start to dry off, he’d be out again till he was thoroughly re-soaked. If he didn’t feel like going outside, he would just stick his head out the doggie door and look around for a while.


Almost two years ago Lucky had several strokes and blew out both hips, one after the other. We thought we were going to lose him then. For weeks, Tom and I took turns sleeping on an air mattress in the family room to help him get around and get out to pee at night. He was finally diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and put on medication.

Although he had some minor residual damage from the strokes, he went back to an almost normal (though somewhat limited) routine. We all had a healthy, peaceful and happy year and a half plus for which we are now so grateful.

Lucky had a wonderful life as a well-loved member of a human/canine family that truly appreciated him. He was a unique, quirky and loving presence and his absence will be deeply felt forever.


I’m not sure what caused it. Might be post Cubs victory euphoria, or the oldies radio station mix of Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett. My mind was drifting away with Roger Williams and “Autumn Leaves” as I pulled off I-91 in Connecticut. A pit stop for mind and body. I was returning home from a brief visit with my middle Brother, Billy, at the old family home on Long Island.

The sun broke through suddenly in what was an otherwise predominantly gray, rainy day.


I was caught in my own little twilight zone between past and present.


Another week has run away. Left me in the dust.

Maybe it’s just me, but time seems to have sped up and each time I look up, a week, two weeks, a month is gone. Now, it’s November. So soon. And the election is next Tuesday. Garry is in New York. I’m here in the house. With the dogs who obviously wish Big Daddy Doglegs would come home. Because mom isn’t nearly as much fun.

I got some interesting portraits of Gibbs this morning. He’s fuzzy. A bit grubby. A trifle matted if you look really closely, but he is 100% cute, with a weird factor of 9 out of 10.


And today, for some reason, he reminds me of “poor Larry Talbot … “the Wolfman.” He’s got a werewolf face, doesn’t he?

Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, the Wolfman

Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, the Wolfman




Chaos is not the same as disorder. It’s not the same as random, wild, or unplanned. Chaos is the void before the universe existed. Or the hysteria following an explosion. It’s the effect on a social entity (city, town, region) of a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake. It’s not your guest room with all those boxes … or the junk drawer in the kitchen. Those are just untidy.


And in case you think maybe I’m just cherry picking the definition, here’s another:


A heap of Legos is not chaos. It’s a heap of Legos. Someone created that heap. It is intended to be what it is. The Legos are not in that pile because a tornado swept through the house and and that was the result. Moreover, your office, no matter how disorderly, is not chaos. It’s just disorganized and messy. Those of us with messy offices and guest rooms full of boxes and empty luggage can take some comfort from this.

Photo: Garry Armstrong - Late autumn, Connecticut

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Late autumn, Connecticut

So perhaps what the editor of today’s challenge was asking for is a scene of unplanned-ness. Disorganization. Random “stuff” that no human has arranged. The thing is, nature is never chaotic. It may appear random, but it isn’t.

Not being photojournalists who take pictures of war zones, riots, and other things that might legitimately be termed “chaotic,” the closest thing we’ve got is nature being natural, which to usually beautiful. It’s why gardeners work so hard to create a natural look. An orderly garden is a lot easier to create than a natural-looking one. It takes a lot of planning to achieve the look of nature unassisted .

November foliage

November foliage

There’s a lesson in here. I’m just not sure what it is.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016