miles: a tribute.

This is going to be a tribute to my parents’ dog, Miles. Also my dog! The family dog, although he moved into their house when I already was living on my own.

On Monday, Miles had to be “put down,” as they say. He was 11, old for a large dog, and his back legs didn’t work well and it got to the point where they didn’t work at all and he couldn’t walk or even live. My parents had to make the terrible decision that pet parents must make every day – it was better for him to be guided by science into a peaceful eternal slumber than to live another day feeling scared, confused, hurt, and unable to do anything he loved.

The death of a pet is a nightmare many of us know too well. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my mom and dad, I’m sorry for me, I’m sorry for all of you. Animals like cats and dogs do not live nearly long enough. Birds can live like 80 years and turtles like 100…but not cats and dogs, our closest animal companions.

You KNOW I love birds and turtles (tortoises?). But this is a tribute to Miles. So here goes.

We got Miles in Spring 2009 and he was very small and cute. AND SOFT. I just love puppies and I feel like I don’t get to hang out with enough of them.

I don’t know if it was the day we got him or just the first time I met him, but we went into the “back field” behind my parents’ house and he was running around after us on his little puppy legs and we loved him so much. He instantly was very sweet and kind and cuddly and fit right in with all of us.

Miles was a dog that loved people and always needed to be around people or he’d be sad. Not even mad or agitated, just sad. Crying and howling and jumping out and breaking our kitchen window one time, cutting himself on the glass so he needed stitches. This was how desperate he was to be next to us. There is not a love so pure anywhere else in the world.

Miles was cuddly if he felt like it, but not too cuddly. You may be aware I dislike cuddling overall so he was the perfect dog for me. He would sit right next to me on the couch and be cute but not smoother me with himself. Unlike my sister’s pitbulls, who are cuddly in the way that they seem like they want to be INSIDE of you, acting like fully merging their bodies with yours so they can FULLY BE A PART OF YOU is their only goal in life.

It’s fine, they’re still cute.

Another characteristic common for large dogs is just like…fear? They’re very big but somehow they’ve evolved to be terrified of certain things: fireworks, thunderstorms, the sound of an NFL game on the TV because they know their dad might yell. Miles was really very scared of many things: he had a thunderjacket for storms and patriotic celebrations, and he would hide behind my mom and I when the sports game was on. He also got really scared of gunshots or the sounds of trucks in the distance when we were walking in the woods and we would have to reassure him.

I always thought it was so sweet that he would look to us for comfort and he would usually accept our reassurance. He was a good boy.

Miles loved walking and running in the woods and breaking off his leash to chase deer and rabbits. He did this a few times and he was in BIG TROUBLE and then he was not allowed that kind of leash freedom again. We didn’t want to lose him!

Although he was part lab, he wasn’t much of a swimmer. He preferred to occasionally wade in the river to cool off and take a drink, but he certainly wasn’t jumping in and swimming around like a true lab would. If we were out in the water he liked to stand on the shore and whine until he got tired and went to lay down in the shade.

Miles really was a big baby. A great dog! But a baby. He never wanted to be away from us. I already said that but like, HE REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO. We were his reason for existing and if we weren’t around or not paying attention to him he was beside himself.

Over the years I made a ton of silly videos of Miles barking at me while I was babysitting him. He would always bark NONSTOP and I don’t know what he was trying to say but it seemed along the lines of “HANG OUT WITH ME I MISS MY MOM I HATE YOU I LOVE YOU,” over and over again. It made me NUTS when I was trying to work or get something done or take a nap. But eventually I figured out that if I hugged him in the same style as his thundershirt he would calm down.

What a weirdo.

He often climbed up onto couches or chairs next to us and would paw at our arms to get us to pet him. He wasn’t much of a “fetcher” but he would bring a toy over just for a little toss so he could engage with us for a minute and then sit back down, curled up happily with the toy. He loved his squeaky blue football and had it for many years.

Everyone loved Miles, and he loved everyone. Every visitor that ever came over was his friend, even if they sucked he still liked them.

He loved to go out to eat and calmly sit under the table at outdoor restaurants. He love, love, LOVED the All About Downtown Festival in Jersey City and attended it like 5 years in a row. It was his favorite day. I know because he told me.

He spoke to me, he spoke to all of us.

He was such a good dog, and we love and miss him so much, and I just wanted to think about him for a minute, so thanks for listening.

Miles is survived by my mom and dad, my brother and sister in law and niece and nephew and their dog Leroy, my sister and my brother in law and their pitbulls Apollo and Ziggs, and Finn and Smee the goats, and Pony the pony, and Jax the horse. And my boyfriend and our 4 budgies Elvis, Birdie Sanders, Blondie, and Franz Birdinand. And me. Also, his closest companion and partner in crime Guinness, the oldest dog alive. He has a big family and he made many people and other creatures happy and we love him so much. That’s all I wanted to say.

So now, at the end of this dog obituary/eulogy, I invite you to think of the pets you have lost over the years. And think about how great they were, and how much you miss them. And know that it’s okay and normal to miss a pet and still think about them, years later.

Because I say so.

Rest in power, Miles. But like, also in peace. I hope you’re not too scared without us there to hug you. </3

paterson bird store.

Today we got 3 new birds! At Paterson Bird Store in Totowa, NJ.

I’m not going to tell you much about the birds yet because I’m honestly scared it’s too soon and they’ll just up and die. Maybe that’s irrational but I just get nervous. After a few days I will properly introduce them. Also two of them still need names! And we want the names to be bird puns and I’m terrible at thinking up puns even though I really love puns so if you have any good bird puns to use for their names PLZ ADVISE.

I WILL tell you more about Paterson Bird Store because I enjoyed it. It’s not IN Paterson, at least not the one I think of when I think of the (NATIONAL PARK!) waterfall or the train station where my friend from Woodland Park comes to pick me up when I visit her. It’s not just my thinking because it’s not Paterson, it’s Totowa. So don’t get confused (I got confused). It’s all in that general direction anyway.

Whatever.

Paterson Bird Store was highly enjoyable! I was looking for a place to get another budgie so my budgie had a budgie to budge with, and I came across it on the Google. I located their Instagram and I thought it seemed like a happy place for happy birds. I also knew I could take a 30min Uber ride there so I was sold.

They were very responsive to DMs and let me know they had a lot of budgies for sale and were open today, New Year’s Eve. YES.

Sadly it was raining, so as we rode through the Meadowlands I didn’t spot any of the outside birds I like to see there, like snowy egrets.

STUPID RAIN.

I WANTED TO SEE BIRDS ON THE WAY TO GET SOME BIRDS.

On the way, I had reached the decision that we would get two new birds, for a total of 3 in our home.

We rode past “American Dream” – hadn’t seen it yet. Well…it was there. We saw it.

We finally arrived at Paterson Bird Store and IT WAS TIME TO PICK OUT SOME BIRDS.

You guys, this is a really nice store. It’s birds and birds only. Special stuff for pet birds. A whole bar/buffet of different kinds of bird seeds and snackies! Tons and tons of toys!

BUT WHERE WERE THE BIRDS?!

“In the back.”

As we entered “the back,” a cacophony of beautiful bird sounds echoed in our ears and we knew true joy.

These birds were having the time of their goddamn lives. They actually seemed really happy and were chirping and flapping and hanging out with each other. It really made me happy and excited to see them all partying in such a way. I feel like my bird Elvis is very quiet and it made me sad, like he’s been so lonely with no bird friends to party with.

This set the stage for me deciding to get 3 birds. It had to be done.

As far as the party birds, I’m only talking about the budgies they have. They had some very pretty finches but I didn’t hang with them too much. They also seemed happy! But I don’t really know their lives so who knows.

A blue and gold macaw, a scarlet macaw, and an African grey were also in residence!

These three are all super cool looking and smart and large birds, and it was a treat to see them and say hi.

Yes. I said it was “a treat.” Accept that. They were lovely and perfect. And I love them forever.

It was really hard to choose a budgie! They were all cute and lively and had fun patterns and feathers. I wanted to go with a bird or two with a wacky color mutation because the one we already have is a very handsome standard version and I wanted to mix it up. I think we did a good job in choosing a standard looking blue one, a bright yellow one, and a gray/white/blue/yellow one. Those are not the scientific names for the colors. But they break them all down here and it’s interesting as hell, if you care.

The gray/white/blue/yellow one was my favorite to choose but he also bites so…yeah. I think he’s just nervous though! Let’s give him a chance, please.

The kind women at the store expertly retrieved our chosen birds and gave them a quick nail and wing trim. Elvis has his wings grown out and can fly around but we thought it might keep these new guys safer to have them short to start, as they learn their way around the apartment. I hope it works for them but they seemed really sad when I was moving them from the travel cage into a bigger cage and they tried to fly away from me and they couldn’t get off the ground.

Not that they had space to fly around before but their wings worked differently and felt different and they were dealing with accepting that and it made me so sad.

Maybe I’m just projecting…but I was like “They WILL grow back you guys!” <sobs>

Anyway they’re adorable and we packed them up and brought them home.

They have to quarantine from Elvis for a week so they are in a cage nearby to allow tweeting and meeting. I can’t wait to hang out with them more once they settle in and stop feeling shy.

And angry.

i had a budgie but it died.

Starting with a joke because I’m still really heartbroken about it. I had a budgie but it died.

Just like Murray, my budgie died. Also we don’t really call them budgies around here IN AMERICA but I think it’s a fun little name so I’m going to go with it.

A few months ago I wrote a post that we got a parakeet. We did! His name is Elvis. A few weeks after we got him, we got another parakeet and named her Stevie. In a true expression of the curse of the second child, I did not write a post about Stevie. So I’m going to write one in her honor now.

From the moment Stevie came to live with us I felt worried about her. For some reason I was nervous she would die. I never talked about it but in my mind she was always on the edge of death and I was constantly googling what could possibly be wrong.

It could have all just been in my head, like 99% of my problems, but she didn’t seem as strong and robust as Elvis. I know she was probably smaller because she was a girl, but there was more to it. She stood in kind of a slouchy position all the time. She often looked like she was breathing heavy or struggling to catch her breath. She came to us with dirty-looking wings and a tail feather that was all shredded up. Birds are supposed to preen their own feathers, so it seemed like she wasn’t taking care of herself properly. And I’m not 100% sure but I think a budgie’s long ass tail feather is supposed to really help with their balance, etc.

The first thing I thought when I saw her was “I can’t wait until she gets settled in and starts to thrive.” Budgies can live 15 years in captivity, and I was looking forward to the long haul. I wanted to be able to look back to the day we got her and say, “Look how far she’s come!”

Ugh. This really crushes me. But I felt like she DID get better. Her feathers started to look cleaner, and they also grew longer. She was talkative and alert. She actually yelled a lot. She made an angry bird screech that I’ve only heard Elvis do once or twice when he’s like REALLY PISSED. I thought it was a good sign she was so pissed. She had a zest for life!

Stevie also seemed like she was getting close to saying words. All of the YouTube videos I watch of budgies, and I watch a lot, include budgies speaking. And it’s cute as hell. But part of their warmup to speaking is like…robot sounds? And Stevie made a lot of robot sounds.

She was the only budgie in the family making any effort to say human words. And it was awesome. Her brother/roommate/boyfriend would just stand there and stare judgmentally. As he continues to do to this very day.

Stevie and Elvis also had a very sweet relationship that made me smile. She would yell a lot but often they would snuggle up together, clean each other’s feathers, and eat and drink together at the same time. At night after we would “put them to bed,” aka put a blanket over their cage, which is so much like “tucking them in” it makes me want to sob, they would make soft happy noises at each other for like 30 minutes before they fell asleep.

It makes me really sad to think about it now. I hope Elvis isn’t lonely.

I probably think about this too much.

The morning things started to go downhill for Stevie, she seemed really sleepy. Out of it. She sat in the food bowl and looked tired. She moved to a perch and kept kind of falling asleep and then flapping when she started to fall off the perch and woke herself up. I reached in to have her hop on my finger to check on her and she didn’t put up a fight. She wasn’t really trained yet so she would usually hop away, but this time she just hopped on my finger and kind of relaxed. Something was wrong.

I left to go to a barre class and brunch because I may be a weird bird lady but I’m still basic AF. When I returned home, conditions hadn’t improved. I started to panic and desperately sought advice from the internet. I came across a very helpful site called Just Answer. It seems silly but they had live people to chat with and I was able to talk to a vet that could advise some things to do. When it got to a point that I couldn’t find an actual avian vet to go to, the chat vet found an emergency care place in Hoboken that had a vet with some experience with birds.

The vet visit was going to cost $150 or more and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to pay for it. Because I’m poor. But the chat vet also sent me information about veterinary care financing options. Like get it now pay for it later. I love to pay for it later! And get it now!

We loaded Stevie up and called an Uber. And went to Hoboken.

The vet was very kind. We had to drop Stevie there and leave her for a bit, because COVID, so we went to an outdoor bar. I was really upset. I drank a watermelon vodka drink. I felt more upset.

They gave Stevie oxygen and fluids, and recommended that she stay overnight. I thought that sounded fine until they said it would be $1300. There was no way. Vet care is so expensive. I won’t say that they took advantage of us or anything like that, I think this is just the way it is. They let us know that even if she stayed they couldn’t say it would even really help. They were very kind and helpful, and even gave her more fluids and a beak and talons trim, free of charge.

Not sure she really had “talons” but that’s the only word I can think of.

In the end they chalked it up to “respiratory distress.” Which a bird can fall victim to for no less than one million reasons. So we still have no idea why.

We took her home, to meet her fate. In the Uber on the way, she uttered her last little chirp of her short adorable life.

We kept her in a separate cage from Elvis in case it was contagious. She was covered for peace and darkness. She had food and water, and a heating pad to keep her warm. For little birdies it goes downhill fast and I felt like it was only a matter of time.

Not a good sign 🙁

Stevie only lived another 24 hours or so. The end was hard. I cried a lot. I felt really helpless. I knew she was dying and I didn’t know if she was scared and wanted company or wanted to be alone. It’s not clear what a budgie would prefer. Even google didn’t really know.

After she died I kept crying. For at least a week. I felt really overwhelmingly, unreasonably, unbearably sad. I couldn’t stop crying.

It felt strange, to feel so sad about a pet. And not even one I’d known that long. I just couldn’t feel better about the fact that I’d let her down. That I couldn’t pay to try to make her better. That I didn’t get to see her live and grow and thrive. Or learn words.

She used to love her bowling toy. Elvis doesn’t really care about the bowling toy and it makes me so sad, seeing the bowling toy still and silent.

Not interested in the bowling toy. Or any toy.

I had to do a lot of googling to find support for my unbearable sadness. As always I sought solace in commiseration. I tried to find other people that were uncontrollably sad about a pet’s death. And I did! The internet is a beautiful place. It helped me to heal. And I’m grateful for it every day. And I don’t care how bad some people think it is. It has everything we need.

Stevie currently is in our freezer. It’s a makeshift bird morgue. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. She’s wrapped in tissue paper, in a small cardboard Madison Reed box, also wrapped in plastic. I’m 80% sure it’s perfectly sanitary. She’s awaiting an epic Viking funeral, when we find the right place.

I just wanted to share all of that, to commemorate her. Thanks for reading. I love you little Stevie, Rest In Peace.

we got a bird.

Today, we got a bird! He’s a small green parakeet and his name is Elvis.

I didn’t name him but I guess that name is okay. It references the Elvis Costello Elvis. Not the other Elvis. GET IT STRAIGHT.

You may be aware that I love birds so I’m very excited to have one as a family member. I had a parakeet named “Petite” as a pet growing up and I really loved her a lot so I’m pumped to hang with this guy as well.

Elvis is still settling in, he’s quiet and shy for now. He’s made a few little soft chirps and has eaten a ton of food. Today I ordered him some toys and a mirror and a bath and perches and also a cuttlebone. Still not 100% sure what a cuttlebone is or does but it’s something FOR HIS HEALTH and therefore very important.

Currently he has full wings, they aren’t clipped. Which means he could fly off into the sunset and never come back, or he could fly into a wall and hurt himself. So we have to be careful taking him out. And I guess we’re supposed to clip his wings? That makes me kind of scared. But seems like it doesn’t hurt? And would keep him safe? Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll just leave the wings alone for now anyway. Since it’s the apocalypse.

We put our photo by his cage to watch over him.

I wasn’t aware of this previously but he also would enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables according to the internet! So I look forward to sharing those with him. I’ll share the fruits. I’ll give him all of my vegetables because I don’t want them. DON’T TELL.

We discussed getting a bird previously but getting one today was a surprise! A surprise to me, my boyfriend went to pick him up and said he was “getting a palm tree” (which I also still want), and when he got back he was like, “Close your eyes!” And he walked me through the living room and I bumped into everything in the living room and when I opened my eyes the bird was there!

We got a bird!

the oldest dog alive.

Guinness Popov is the oldest dog alive.

JK I don’t really know if Guinness is the oldest dog alive but today is her birthday and she is 16!

Sweet gal ❤️

16 may not seem like much if you know some old cats or old smaller dogs, but Guinness is the oldest dog alive because she is a 16 year old LARGE dog. 16 years is a lot of years to be galloping around the world like a small horse and leaping into the river because you’re half lab (and half border collie) and enjoy aquatic sports and jumping up onto the kitchen counter and eating bagels that were put out for your human sisters to eat before cheerleading practice.

Guinness loves my brother LOTS.

16 is also pretty old because Guinness had 5 brothers and sisters and they have all since passed away, I think before they were 10 years old. She was part of a “6 pack” of dogs, because there were 6 of them, so they were all named after beer. We didn’t change her name because 16 years ago we all really liked beer. I guess we still mostly like it.

Guinness having a nice lounge.

Guinness, the oldest dog alive, was once a very small and cute little pup, the runt of her dog family and the last to be adopted. When we arrived to meet her at the Hunterdon County farm that was fostering her, she was alone in a little enclosure outside and jumped up like, “Pick me! I’m the last one!” But not in an intense or annoying or desperate way because Guinness always keeps a low profile.

Guinness on the left, when she was taller than Miles.

We went as a whole family to check her out and as soon as we saw her we knew we had to take her home! But for whatever reason we hadn’t brought any puppy transporting materials like a crate so the foster man hesitated to hand her over. Nevertheless we persisted and Guinness was ours!

Guinness (on left) in the Delaware River.

She’s always been a very sweet and laid back and relaxed gal. She is affectionate but doesn’t jump and slobber all over you. She stands next to you and supports you but does not push you to do anything for her, like throw a ball or a stick. She’s happy just being around you, in your presence, although she does appreciate an excessive number of treats.

When we brought Guinness home 16 years ago, we still had another large dog named Nanu. Nanu was a purebred black lab and he was very smart and loved to swim in the river but he was very, very needy and thought that he was also a human. We loved him dearly but Guinness is not like him. She loves to be a dog and she’s glad she’s a dog and she doesn’t demand that you recognize that she is also a human because she knows that she is not.

“Excuse me, I’m napping here.

When her big bro Nanu passed away she of course was sad for a while. Then she became overwhelmed by too much attention from our family. She became nervous and embarrassed when we paid too much attention to her, it was the weirdest thing. She crumbled under the pressure! One dog gal can only do so much and she never tried to pretend she was human! She didn’t understand why we were putting so much on her little shoulders!

Big sis Guinness and little bro Miles.

So after we got Miles, who like Nanu thinks he is a human being on the inside, and started giving more attention to him, Guinness got more relaxed again and really enjoyed the decrease in our demand for her attention.

(This is more than 7 years ago)

Guinness had many years of playing outside in the fields and forests, I’d say about 12 or 13 years? But now she has retired to the home and yard, and takes many happy naps. We’re so glad she’s still around and that she always has a happy face and a wag of her tail to offer, even if she’s having a bit of a tough day. Sometimes she seems to get a little confused, she is a senior citizen after all, but she’s still able to get around and she is still comfortable and happy.

I love Guinness a lot and I wish her a happy sweet 16, as the oldest dog alive.

Look at that smile! 🤗❤️

Do you know an oldest dog alive? How old are they? What kind of dog are they? Why don’t dogs just live forever, or at least as long as people?! ANSWER ME!