Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mike & Phoenix

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Mike! I’ve worked for Washoe County in Reno, Nevada for the past 25 years! That’s right-- the home stretch of 5 more to go! I’ve written as a hobby since the 8th grade and I began to share those stories to a small email group over the years. That group expanded and all readers insisted I write a book. While I haven’t achieved that dream yet I did start a blog last Fall that has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve found that there are millions of amazing, creative writers on this Earth we live on. I’m merely a speck in the sparkling sand of a hopeful beach. In my arms is Phoenix 10 years ago as he started us on a journey. His soft paw on my heart saying to all of you regarding me, “He has no idea what I have in store for him….”

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our morning priority is always the first walk of the day on which we attempt to take a different route each time. He gets bored quickly and I would love to know how many dog owners experience the following. Phoenix loves the outbound part of the trip but at the first sign of returning to his Jeep he immediately begins several abrupt halts at not wanting the walk to end.

What's brewing?

I don’t drink caffeine so it will be a wonderful cup of Iced Venti Passion Tea Lemonade with one pump of Classic. Phoenix would be more of a Triple Venti Caramel Macchiato, 3 pumps vanilla, 130 degrees with extra foam kinda guy. He’s very high maintenance (he just kicked me under the coffee table, “liar!”).

Any treats for you or Phoenix on this occasion?

I will be enjoying bites of one of my favorite, mouthwatering pastries, an Apple Fritter. And due to Phoenix’s colitis all of his life and the natural food diet he is on. He will gladly and knowingly have a few of his dried salmon treats.

How were you and Phoenix united?

I had yearned, wished, hoped for and prayed to have a Golden Retriever all of my life. Through different life hurdles it took nearly 40 years to see that dream come to fruition. Ten years ago, a very special friend of mine had known I wanted a Golden Retriever all of my life. She just happened to be having a new litter of Golden Retriever puppies and gave me a life gift by blessing me with the first pick of the litter. I was soooo nervous about the decision that it took me 5 weeks to pick and there were six other very impatient owners-to-be who had been waiting on me. I brought that new soul home with me that first night and he looked at me, “You have no idea what I have in store for you, mister…” He changed my life forever for the better.

How did Phoenix get his name? Any aliases?

Phoenix was conceived in his mommy’s womb (her name is Sierra) within 48 hours of my previous dog’s death. When that realization came to me there could have never been a more perfect name than the mythical bird that rose up out of the ashes. He also goes by, “C’mer!”, “No!” and “Off!”

How does Phoenix influence your writing?

He’s had a very profound effect on every aspect of my life and I’ve been so blessed as he’s taken me on a magical journey with him. To sit on a soft, grassy hill overlooking the city under a glorious full moon. To go for a walk out in the rain and enjoy the blessing of our senses feeling the drops and sticking out our tongues to catch one. To be able to talk to an attractive woman when I may have otherwise been too shy to strike up a conversation. To trust more, take chances, see life as being cup half full and not half empty. To not take myself so seriously and to see the humor not only in life but especially at myself. Because this Golden Retriever wakes every morning full of everything being possible in his very positive, unconditionally loving, happy soul.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He is completely OCD about his tennis ball and his Chuck-It Frisbee [above right]. Having me throw the ball onto the slanted roof and having it roll off as he catches it midair in his mouth is one of his favorites. But there is one thing uniquely different and that is my ratty ball cap that I wear at home. He absolutely hates it and I’ve never figured out why. Any chance he ever possibly gets he will snag it and run outside with it [photo left]. I will be in hot pursuit and a huge wrestling match will ensue on the backyard grass. He gets noisy (play) growling and barking that it brings my neighbors out to peer over the fence to watch these epic battles. They always root for him!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Our walks are partially residential and partially wilderness and 10 years ago I began to refer to the wilderness paths as “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, oh my!” Every time we would see a rabbit, squirrel, lizard or bird I would refer to them saying, “Phoenix, your friends!” To this day on our walks if I say anything with enthusiasm about a possible friend sighting he will go on alert. But, when gets either close or right up upon one he won’t chase but stop as if to introduce himself with his kind heart.

Does Phoenix have a favorite place to go for outings?

His first favorite place to be is sitting on his porch laying down and observing like a sentinel overlooking the kingdom that is his backyard. He will sit there any day of the year, any weather of the year including blizzards. But, his truest love is going for rides in his Jeep Cherokee.

What is Phoenix's best quality?

His loyalty and kindness. Phoenix, “Explain!” He has such a softness in his eyes that comes from an older soul of generations of wisdom. His kindness and interest in all people and children especially is magical to watch.

If Phoenix could change one thing about you, what would it be?

One thing I think he would change about me would be that I look like Natalie Portman as he loves and adores females. Since that won’t happen, he would change the fact that I worry too much and it prevents me from sleeping well. I have suffered from insomnia for many, many years and hence the name of my blog, Past My Curfew.

Who is Phoenix's best pet-pal?

I would love to say that a kid’s best friend is his father. But, in Phoenix’s life that would be the young 7-year-old Miss Elizabeth who lives next door. They have grown up together with Phoenix meeting her at the knothole in the fence the day she was brought home from the hospital being held in her mother’s arms. Phoenix and Elizabeth imprinted….and I do believe you can imprint on more than one person in a lifetime. He is most often at her house every Saturday night to play and sometimes has sleepovers. They greet each other at the fence daily and Phoenix has walked her to school on some days. This is the best picture I’ve ever taken to date! I’m so proud of it for the two of them!

If Phoenix could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

“Phoenix, if you could go back 10 years in time with the hindsight you have now. Would you spend your life with me again?”

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Phoenix could speak, who should voice him?

Phoenix is deeply sweet to all beings and can be the forever, caring soul when I need a shoulder to cry on. But he has a very caustic personality specifically with me. He offers his humor at my silly mistakes and stumbles in life as I mention him in my blog stories from time to time. So, his voice tone and demeanor at me is often that of Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) from Goodfellas. As he goes gansta on me in my face (catching my attention like I’m being scolded yet holding back laughter within himself and winking at all of you), “You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little messed up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown? I make you laugh, I'm here to amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Visit Mike's blog, Past My Curfew.

--Marshal Zeringue

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