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Saying Goodbye to Rogie

10 Jul

The first time I remember praying to God on behalf of our Rogie, he was barely three months old. Joe had taken him to a 24-hour emergency veterinarian clinic after this new little black lab puppy had a two-day bout of vomiting and diarrhea. I was home with our sleeping boys, who were 9 and 13 at the time. In the previous year, we had lost two dogs — first, our beloved 9-year-old yellow lab, Niner, who died suddenly, and a few months after his death, our “replacement” mutt puppy, Friday. She — who was mistakenly adopted out to us by a terrible rescue organization terminally ill with distemper — was to help us heal from Niner’s loss — lived a mere 10 days.



And here we were, a few months after that, thinking the worst (more distemper!?) about our new puppy.

I pleaded to God to heal Rogie. I shared my concern that the devastation of losing three pets in a year would be too much for them to handle.  I asked, “Father, may he live a long and full life, and be sitting with us and comforting us as our boys go off to college some day.”

God gave us the favor of this answered prayer, and so, so much more.

After a sub-dermal saline injection at “24-Karat Vet” as I came to think of the emergency doggie clinic, Rogie was back to his mischievous adorable self in a few days. He was even the first to place a “present” under the Christmas tree as I decorated it (a nice, firm puppy poop. Sigh.)

His namesake was LA Kings hockey goalie, Rogie Vachon, a moniker arrived at after a naming conference akin to the NHL draft. Although there were many other popular choices, my hubby pulled the sympathy card, after reminding us that he had to call after a dog named after the SF 49ers all the while he was a Raiders fan. When his registration papers arrived from the AKC, it turned out he was the 5th such-named pup. Perfect! He was Rogie V!

Rogie V. was a chaser (and one-time catcher) of squirrels, a hater (and one time catcher) of crows, an enemy (and one-time tumbler) of feral cats, an unexplainable sounding board for humming birds (they used to hover in front of him, chirping, while he kept watch over his yard), and he reveled in the “country life” of his suburban home. He had a late-night run-in with a raccoon (and sported four white hairless scars on his forehead to prove it) and he mercifully called our attention to (but did not attack) an opossum in labor in our back yard one Sunday morning. 

He wasn’t big on fetching, despite the “retriever” inbedded in his genus. He’d get that item for you once, if you were lucky. And then, with a look that said “If you want that ball so bad, you’d better stop throwing it,” he’d lay down and admire it with you from afar. A trainer, upon seeing how stressed out he got when we kept asking him to do tasks as part of his training (he would head-butt us and tear through the yard in circles, turf flying behind him), asked us if, by any chance, Rogie was from the Bruegger line of labs.

Our affirmative answer seemed to make it all clear to her: “They’re hunting dogs, you know. Real independent thinkers. He thinks he knows better than you.”

And really, he often seemed to. His job, looking back with clarity, was to bring us joy, not tennis balls. To divert our attention from the things we couldn’t control, and just walk him for two miles four times a week, already. To give us unconditional love, laughs, chores (poop patrol) and the occasional wonderfully annoying phenomenon that is a dog who liked to eat so much, it seemed he purposefully ate too fast so he could throw up and eat it again.

He moved seamlessly into a rental house with us when he was just a year old as we did a 7-month remodel to our home. He only destroyed the backyard! He comforted us with familiarity and routine (and poop patrol) as we missed our neighbors. He provided a warm body, always putting his head or a paw on one of his people when they needed it most, when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer during that seven-month period.

We taught him to pick up the newspapers from the driveway and bring them inside (that was a fetch that made sense to him apparently) and then we had to tone down his exuberance for this task as we walked in the neighborhood, and he proceeded to pick up every newspaper he passed. Thursdays, when the local freebies came out, were his favorite.

He barked appropriately at Lloyd the exterminator, at the UPS truck when it turned onto the street, and the gardeners every single Friday of his life. He greeted most other visitors with a wagging tail, grabbing whatever cloth was nearest to his mouth — whether dirty underwear from the laundry pile or his bed pillow — so that he could somehow resist the urge to jump on them. He stole tools from the plumbers’ chest as the crouched under the sink, and he buried rawhides outside so they could get good and moldy before he brought them inside.

He gave us laughs with his reluctant obedience, and his utter exuberance for kibble and treats — and yet he never stole food off the counter (but if it fell on the floor, stand back!) He would wait patiently, drooling, over his morning and evening meal, until we gave him the verbal, “OK” to begin eating. Hilariously, during my physician-imposed two weeks of silence after vocal cord surgery, he would not eat one morning because I could not say “OK.” I had to run upstairs with my white board and a scribbled message to my hubby, asking him to lean out the window and give the dog permission to eat! After an “OK” from above, Rogie dug in, with a mote of saliva surrounding him.

He was there, waggy and sweet, as our oldest headed off to University of Texas, and as we moved him to Dallas four years later after graduation. He was there, gray and lumpy, laying in the floor of the second-born’s room as he packed to go to college for the first time.

He was there, smiling from his favorite “hotel” at the LAX Kennel Club, as we flew off to see the second-born’s college graduation in Mississippi earlier this spring.

And he was here, waiting and struggling to move and eat just over a week ago, as our youngest arrived home for his last visit before beginning his career 2,000 miles away.

In the last week of his life, Rogie didn’t do a lot of greeting at the door with dirty socks in his mouth, but you could locate him, lounging on a cushion or carpet, by the thump-thump-thump of his wagging tail hitting the floor. 

And by the trail of saliva he dripped through the house.

When he first lost interest in food last month, we thought it was because of antibiotics for an ear infection (he ALWAYS had ear infections!!!) Even our houseguest, who thankfully made it possible not to have to board him while we went out of town for a wedding just weeks ago, cooked him eggs. That probably bought him a few more weeks of life, as even his beloved home away from home seemed to take a little out of him in recent months. After the eggs were semi-successful for his palate, I began cooking for him. Yet this voracious beast, who treated dry kibble as though it were chateaubriand, couldn’t muster more than a few days of interest in my chicken/brown/rice/egg/sweet potato/kibble masterpiece.

Our poor old boy could not swallow. He would get excited for meal time, wait patiently for the signal, but then chew just one or two bites and they’d fall out of his mouth. He would drink a bit, but his water bowl remained full. He drooled constantly. It turns out, he had a paralyzed larynx.

Our sons said their goodbyes over the weekend, and yesterday, on Monday, July 9, 2018, after prayer that we would sense we were doing the right thing, my husband and I took him to our Vet to have him put down.

It was our 30th anniversary. As we wiped our eyes and turned toward the car after petting and comforting Rogie as he took his last breath, finally free of the hunger, the difficulty breathing, the aches of obvious arthritis, we marveled at the date. What says “for better or for worse” more than sharing this important but excruciating necessity of mercy? As we walked away from the vet — probably for the last time — we held hands and hugged one another.

Later, as we toasted to an extraordinary dog who brought us so much joy and just the right amount of annoyance over the years, our oldest, who had been temporarily living with us after relocating from Dallas for work, informed us that he had signed a lease on his own apartment just that morning and would be moving out in a week.

Rogie will not be there to offer comfort this time. But that’s not on him. I think he fulfilled his purpose — and beyond. We will miss him, and I’m sure, we’ll unnecessarily jump up to put him in his kennel when we hear the lawn mowers crank up on Friday mornings for awhile. We’ll look for him absently when heading to bed. We’ll hear phantom jingles of his dog collar. We’ll shed some more tears when the UPS truck rumbles down the street, only to be met by silence.

I don’t know if there’s an afterlife for dogs — but it seems like there should be. If so, I’d like to think he’s there now, meeting Niner and Friday for the first time and comparing notes on how much joy and the right amount of annoyance we brought them. And perhaps he’ll finally acknowledge his old buddy Bo, who loved him dearly but he completely ignored, even as Bo licked Rogie’s chin.

And if there’s a dog Heaven, he’ll be eating. And when he does, maybe he’ll pause out of habit for the “OK,” and then smile the way we all think our dogs smile, at the memory of a family who loved him so much. Then, maybe, he’ll eat so fast that, if he’s lucky, he’ll get to eat it again in a few minutes.

RIP Rogie V. McMahon

10-10-05 – 07-09-18

Resume. Resumé. Remember?

1 Jun

A few weeks ago a friend encouraged me to apply for a job at her company. Motivated, I went right home and went to the Careers portion of the company’s website. Name. Check! Address. Check. Phone and email. Check Check. Upload Resumé. Uh oh. More like cross-check!

How long had it been since I’d updated my resumé? Yikes! I searched my laptop, which replaced my completely crashed laptop in November of 2014. The only files that came up were all resumés that belonged to my sons.

Well, isn’t that telling! So, in the past couple years I have edited resumés, formatted them, and cheered as my sons landed pretty incredible positions. But me? Not a draft of my achievements to be found.

So, I vowed to dig out a hard copy at some point and start over. And then I went on a walk. And made dinner. Watched a hockey game. And didn’t think of it again. Until today.

Linked In emailed me this morning to inform me of a freelance position at a lifestyle publication catering to mid-lifers. Well, that’ll get the attention of an empty-nested 53-year-old, won’t it? I made some coffee and followed the links in my jammies, feeling a little nervous.

Returning to the working world after writing freelance (with the emphasis on “free”) for various non-profits for which I’d been involved over the past 20-something years, is daunting to say the least. Such accountability! I’m not even sure I want to — but I probably need to. Not for the money, or the clout. But for the mind, body and spirit.

Being a “stay-home mom” (always a funny little description since none of the stay-home moms I knew ever stayed anywhere for very long) for the past 24 years, using my gifts of writing, speaking and organization to help out PTAs, churches, foundations, booster clubs and the like, was extremely gratifying and enriching. I was helping the very organizations that served my family, I was exercising my professional skills, and it was all voluntary and project-based (meaning, I didn’t have to punch a clock, could say no-thank-you when I wanted, and work from anywhere (like editing a newsletter while I sat in a ski lodge).)

Once the nest emptied, and those natural school-based volunteer opportunities dried up, it was much more difficult to find places to use those gifts and talents on a casual basis. And the lack of a “team” of folks to work with makes a huge difference. I will tell you, after the camaraderie of a vibrant magazine office back in the day, and the teamwork of a Board of Directors speaking into your projects, it is lonely and desolate looking at a blank Word file, determined to finally write that screenplay that’s been dancing in the back of the mind for a few years. So instead, you know, a person might close up and head to the gym.

But today, I did it. I created my resumé, from scratch, digging deep into my long-term memory to extract dates, projects, jobs and skills. I even put a few little funny nuggets in there, just in case someone reads all the way through (Bonus points if they respond to my “Roll Tide” reference!) I sent it to two companies. I guess I have resumed my professional life.

Now it’s up to my Resumé — go, resume and flourish!


‘Twas the Night Before Hockey

18 Jan

‘Twas the night before hockey

And all through Cup Kingdom

The fanatics were stirring

Like Luc doing Gangnam

The Banner’ll be hung

In the rafters with care

A reverent unfurling

While we’ll all gawk and stare

A long night ahead, tossing, turning in bed

With visions of June still fresh in our heads

Then we, in our jerseys, & Stanley Cup Caps

Will finally awake from this long puckless nap

Now out on the ice, there’ll arise such a clatter

Bettman’s folly, that lockout, won’t really matter

Jimmy & Bob will be back in a flash

And some bitter Ducks fan will prob’ly talk trash

Now Dusty, now Kopi, now Quickie and Penner

Now Cliffy, now Williams, Carter and Greener

To the slot, to the point! Willie & Drew

Shake off the cobwebs, get ready Ice Crew!

Then Sutter will stand, to his team give a whistle,

And away Champs will fly, like Scuds, like a missile

Without David Courtney, it won’t seem quite right,

But Happy Hockey to all, and to all, a good fight!

©Cindy McMcMahon

Manhattan Beach CA

Jan 18, 2013

My Fave Five

11 Dec

This fall we started a new segment of our monthly Mothers of Preschoolers group (I’m the mentor, BTW, not one of the “young” moms) called Fave Five where we share our five favorite “things.” Could be anything, from cleaning products to websites, from recipes to cosmetics. I was considering sharing this: “Sunday after-church nap.” But I wanted to combine my talk with giveaways in the spirit of Christmas, and I wasn’t about to offer to watch toddlers while one of the mamas napped! Maybe in the spring….

Here’s what made the list (and seriously, I feel like I could have done my Fave Fifty!)

Microfiber Hair Towel — I’ve got thick, curly hair that takes forever to dry (I don’t blow-dry my hair, so this is especially an issue in the winter). I love my super absorbent hair towel turban! I usually go through one about every year and a half (they last but get discolored… especially when I use it within a day of “rescuing my roots.” Ahem.) My latest version of hair towel is turbietwist. Of course, it has its own website (but I bought it at CVS–they had a two-for-one dealio that was perfect for my give-away idea!) TurbieTwist

Fleishmann’s Pizza Dough Yeast — We love thin, crispy crust. Since I discovered Fleishmann’s

Pizza Dough Yeast at Ralph’s

supermarket (it doesn’t need time to

Homemade Pizza with dough by Fleischmann's Pizza Dough Yeast

Homemade Tostada Pizza with dough by Fleischmann’s Pizza Dough Yeast

rise!) I’ve been making pizza from scratch about once a week. Makes it so easy! I make two crusts from one packet, and I let my bread machine do the heavy kneading (I split the dough ball into two after it’s formed). I bake the crust for 7 minutes before I add the toppings for extra crispiness, but otherwise, I follow the directions on the packet. I have frozen the crusts (after the initial baking) and it worked out great to pull them out of the freezer, add leftovers and bake! A fave:  BBQ Chicken Pizza — use bbq sauce instead of tomato sauce, add white cheeses, thinly sliced Bermuda onions, fresh chopped cilantro and leftover shredded bbq chicken!) The photo is another favorite — half salsa/half refried beans for the sauce; Mexican cheese blend, shredded roasted chicken, black beans and corn. Mmmm. Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust website

Kevo Moisturizer: My friend, Brad Glynn, developed this great product after years in the sun playing and coaching

tennis, as well as years on the giving end of deep tissue sports massage. He wanted an all-natural moisturizer that could multi-task. He has since developed a couple of more specialized products (deep tissue massage oil, lip balm and eye cream), but I still love Kevo original for a lip balm, eye cream, cuticle cream, chapped face (hello Tahoe!), dry elbows, heels and knees, and so on. I have pretty sensitive skin (especially when it’s chapped….even hypoallergenic stuff stings me), but Kevo has never failed me nor stung even my most chapped ski-bum lips! Kevo Website

Method Shower Spray: We have two glass shower walls and really hard water. That’s not a great combo. And who wants to squeegie every time you shower? Neither my husband nor I! Never fear, Method Shower Spray is here! Bought it at Target after reading the label – it’s all natural, non-caustic and –yahoo– you just spray it on and leave it! Five years of showers and still the glass looks great! You can spray it on the tile too. If I could only convince my sons to use it too…..workin on it! Method Shower Spray

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge: Not new, but still one of my favorite household products. Thank you, Mr. Clean. You’ve been bald with an earring long before it was trendy. What a forward thinker! These magic sponges are great to wipe away scuffs on the wall, scuffs on my shoes, soap scum in the tub (for those among the family who don’t use Method Shower Spray, cough cough) and a variety of other wondrous feats! Magic Eraser

So, there’s my Fave Five for now — and it’s probably important to know that I don’t get any kind of grease from promoting any of these products. Dang, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

I’m blogging?

2 Jan

Last one into the pool on this, I guess. But as I find myself writing columns in my head now and again, I figured I might as well get it down on the keyboard — either to be read by others, or to cease the constant editing in my mind!