Monday, January 7, 2013

Dianna Graveman & Polly and Georgia

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Dianna Graveman, and I own a small business called 2 Rivers Communications & Design, which provides writing, editing, and design services for small businesses, authors, and publishers. I'm also a writer, and I occasionally teach workshops and college classes. Polly is a chihuahua, and Georgia is a beagle. We really are not sure how old either dog is, because they both came to live with us when they were already seniors. We call them our "Golden Girls."

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I had planned a little walk around the lake by our house or along a path by the Missouri River. Georgia is a hound and loves all the smells. But when it turned really cold and started snowing, I knew I couldn't keep Polly outside too long, so we just spent a little time outside in the backyard. Polly hates the cold. Even with her sweater and coat on, she was shivering, so we didn't stay outside long.

Georgia loved our play date because I don't play outside with her very often. (I need to change that.) So she started running around in frantic circles and darting behind trees to tease me. Polly just stood in one place and shivered, so I picked her up and held her close until we went back inside.

What's brewing?

My daughter's boyfriend works at Starbucks and gave me some for Christmas. The coffee was brewing in my office upstairs while we played outdoors. I added a touch of Baileys Irish Cream to make a yummy Irish coffee after we came indoors. Warmed me right up!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Santa brought Georgia and Polly some all-natural, handmade treats from Treats Unleashed (Cheese Quackers and Smoky Beef Bones). Earlier this year, Georgia got sick from what we think were tainted dog treats. So we don't buy boxed treats at the grocery store anymore.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both Georgia and Polly already had names when they came to us. That hasn't stopped us from giving them nicknames! Our favorite nickname for Georgia is "Georgie Porgie" or "Puddin 'n Pie." Sometimes, we'll say, "Hey, there, Georgie Girl!" And my 84-year-old dad (who lives with us) likes to sing the old Willie Nelson song by the same name to her.

Polly's nickname is "Polly-Wolly Doodle All the Day" (you can tell we sing a lot at our house) or just "Polly Girl." She came from Florida with a nickname, "Wee-wah," but I'm not sure of its origin.

How were you and your dogs united?

Georgia was a stray. My husband Don found her at a shelter in November 2009. She had several health problems (mange, infected ears, missing teeth and a crooked mouth -- likely the result of some kind of physical abuse). Nobody knows where she came from or how old she is. The vet techs named her Georgia. After we fell in love with her and signed the papers to bring her home, we had to wait several weeks while she was treated for mange. We went back to the shelter every couple of days so she would get to know us before we brought her home.

Polly came to live in Missouri in September 2011. Our youngest daughter, Teresa, brought her home from Florida, where she'd been living for a short time. Since Teresa works long hours as a vet tech, Polly stays with us most of the time. We've grown very attached to her, and we think the feeling is mutual! Like Georgia, she has some health problems, including a heart ailment. Both dogs take medicines for their conditions.

Before Georgia and Polly came to our house, we were the family for two other geriatric dogs: Tramp and Penny. Tramp came to us as a puppy (beagle/German Shepherd mix) and lived until age 18. About two years before he died, Teresa adopted Penny, a miniature poodle) from a vet's office where she'd been surrendered by her owners due to advanced age and multiple health issues, including a heart condition. Penny died about nine months after Tramp. We were "dog-less" for only a month when Don found Georgia.

We've decided that caring for geriatric dogs is our passion. We love them and feel so good about providing a warm, loving home for dogs in their later years. It is a bittersweet experience, because we know our time with each of our four-legged friends will be limited. But caring for older dogs who really need us is so rewarding. We get a kick out of spoiling them and imagining they probably never had it so good in their younger years. Don likes to say that if they had thumbs, they'd be pinching themselves!

How do your dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?

Polly and Georgia are my office buddies. They each have a bed in my office and spend most of every day asleep. I guess it kind of helps me because they always look so peaceful and happy to be here, which adds to my contentment. The funny thing is that Polly sometimes curls up in the middle of Georgia's big bed, while Georgia spills out of Polly's little one. Whatever makes them happy.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Georgia likes to chase an occasional rabbit out of yard. She ignores the squirrels. Now that she's gotten older, she has to take it kind of easy. Sometimes she strains a muscle if she takes off too fast.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Neither dog has much interest in any kind of toy, so we quit buying them. Georgia occasionally enjoys a tug of war with an old rag towel or sock.

What is each dog's best quality?

Both dogs have endearing little quirks that we just love. Georgia is the only dog we've ever owned who will greet us by putting her head on the floor and her rump in the air. She'll even scoot across the floor like that. She also has what we call her "Elvis sneer," due to an injury she suffered before we knew her. One side of her mouth was apparently bashed in at some point and remains disfigured. Possibly someone kicked or hit her with something. So now her jaw is a little crooked. When she first came, she would not bark. She cowered constantly. We started trying to encourage her to bark when she needed or wanted something, which the vet thought was pretty funny. He said he'd never had a client bring in a hound and ask him how to teach her to bark! Usually people ask how to make them stop barking!

Polly has her little quirks, too. She squeaks like a little mouse when she's warm and comfortable and doesn't want to be moved. She also burrows headfirst under anything she can find (pillows, blankets, etc.). We've learned to be very careful never to sit down anywhere without checking first to make sure Polly isn't beneath an afghan or a couch pillow. She reminds me of a little desert animal.

If your dogs could change one thing about Missourians, what would it be?

Polly would want us all to live somewhere warmer, so she could be there, too. I think both dogs would be happy if everyone carried around bits of meat or treats to handout whenever they did something "good" (which at our house, is pretty much anything).

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

This is tough...I really don't imagine them with people's voices. Wish I could answer...but I just came up empty on this one.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

What was your life like before we knew you?

Visit the 2 Rivers Communications & Design website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. This was a heart touching post. The love Dianna and her husband have for these two old maids is so sweet. I'm sure these dogs are grateful everyday for their new home and great parents. Kudos to their people (not owners), because it is apparent that the dogs own them.

  2. Couldn't agree with you more Linda - well said!

  3. Thank you for your kind comments. It is with great sadness that I tell you Polly suffered her final cardiac crisis on February 13, 2013. We have no idea how old she was. I rushed her to the emergency animal clinic about 3:00 a.m., and with all of her adopted family members holding or touching her, she passed about 7:00 a.m. Here are my daughter's words:

    "Around 8:00 Wednesday morning the world lost a little ray of sunshine, and I lost a little piece of my heart. Polly’s spirit left this world to frolic in fields of sunbeams, free from the suffering her body brought her toward the end. I suppose she was just too full of love that her heart simply could no longer contain it. I still feel her energy, and I know it continues to surround me. She brought so much joy to my life in the short time our paths ran parallel, and I know she brought much joy to my family and my friends as well. I am so thankful for the time we shared."

    We are so grateful for the time we had with our little Polly. We will love her forever. We encourage everyone to consider adopting a senior dog. You will give him or her the best years of his or her life, and you will be forever enriched by it. Be prepared for heartbreak. But it is oh, so worth every tear.

    Wishing you all the best,