Arista Warrior, 2nd Edition

The long wait is over, and I’m happy to announce that the second edition of Arista Warrior is in the production phase. What does that mean? It means that the book is done and the only thing really left for me to do is approve copy-edits and quality control notes. So far as I’m aware, and if everything goes according to plan, the book should be hitting your favorite bookstore shelves, websites, and e-readers by mid to late June.

To give you a glimpse into the new edition, here are my notes from the preface about what’s changed. Remember, the first edition was published in October of 2012, so there’s over six years of advancement to cover which is part of why it took so damn long to finish. Well, that and having a job, family, dogs, guitars, and a life, all of which are excuses further compounded by my apparent compulsion to miss book deadlines.

My primary goals in writing the second edition were as follows: (more…)

Cozy Tales: 62. Empty Wrecked House

For the first time in ten years, there were no dogs in our house, but we could still hear them.

We would hear their collars clinking on their water bowls. Sometimes I would hear them snore at night. Other times I would hear them scratch at the door, only to become overwhelmed with sadness after catching myself walking to the door to let them in.

We continued to hear the dogs, but there were no dogs to be heard. There was no snoring, no woofing, and no other disturbances except those caused by Meghan and Colleen. Even with two wonderful, energetic children, the house seemed somehow devoid of life. Cozy had been the one to fill the house with life. She had been the one to show us that we were capable parents. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 61. Daisy’s Last Stand

As a room mom at Meghan’s school, Lauren often went on class trips when they did something fun. She had left Daisy alone for six hours on one such trip which was the longest Daisy had been left unsupervised in quite some time. When Lauren got home she called me in tears telling me that Daisy was dying because she was almost unresponsive. I told her that I would come right home.

I was working up near the New York border at the time, so “coming right home” meant a 90 minute trip, and when I got home Daisy did indeed seem to be nearing the end of her time with us as she seemed to be barely breathing and had no energy. She didn’t even have her eyes open while Lauren spent hours with her that afternoon lying on the floor and talking to her. Daisy seemed as though she would draw a final shuddering breath and be gone at any moment. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 60. Daisy Saves the Day

Since we lived in the woods, we often had wild turkeys roam by our yard. When Cozy was alive she would bark and scare them off, so they never got too close. In fact with Cozy around, the only thing that would come inside the fence were the numerous insects and the gas man. He liked big dogs, as did many of the insects.

At any rate, Daisy had gotten very sick, and didn’t go outside much except to relieve herself. One day we had a flock of wild turkeys come visit. Cozy hadn’t been around for over a year at this point, so two of them decided to fly inside the fence. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 59. Return of the Crab

Just after we celebrated Daisy turning 12 ½, we took her to the vet where we were saddened to learn that Dr. Fritz, the beloved vet for both Cozy and Daisy, had died suddenly in New York. With Dr. Fritz gone, we took Daisy to a new vet who discovered a tumor in her belly that had apparently been there for some time. The good news was that it was probably benign, though large. The bad news was that having a heart arrhythmia at her advanced age meant that she would not likely survive the surgery needed to remove it.

This was a shocking blow for us. While surgery could save her from the tumor, we weren’t sure that we would want to put her through that. The point was moot, though. Since we had not had her heart problems resolved, she would likely not survive surgery to remove the tumor. Lauren and I both felt like we were to blame. After living through Cozy’s ordeal, we had put our beloved Daisy in a similar situation. Of course it wasn’t that simple, but we blames ourselves nonetheless.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 58. Dog Years

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While every dog is different, I would estimate that 10 years is about the average lifespan for Newfoundland dogs. Cozy had only lived to be eight, but we considered her to have died too young. The oldest Newf we had ever heard of was Henry who lived to the ripe old age of 17 ½. Such long-lived Newfs were very rare however.

Someone on Newf.Net had posed the idea that once a Newf reaches the age of 10,  every half year should be celebrated. Of course Lauren took that to heart and we celebrated accordingly. Still, Daisy’s 12th birthday was a special occasion, even when counting by half-years. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 56. The Duchess

Over time we slowly adjusted to life without Cozy and Daisy developed some interesting eccentricities as during that time. When Cozy was so sick, Lauren had done anything she could to get her to eat including cooking bacon and eggs for her every morning, and liver most nights for dinner. If you’ve got two dogs you can’t give bacon and eggs to only one, so Daisy of course enjoyed the bountiful new eating arrangements. Not only did she get her fair share, she would also get Cozy’s on the days when Cozy didn’t feel like eating.

Once Daisy had a taste of the good life, she had no interest in returning to the common fare of the bourgeoisie and so The Duchess, Miss Daisy, became beneath such insulting grub as kibble. She demanded that her dinner be handmade to her exacting specification.

In other words, she had become a royal pain in the ass. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 55. Cozy Comes Home

Just when I thought I was done crying, Cozy’s ashes were delivered, after which I sat in the office with her and wept all over again. We couldn’t decide where to put her. I wanted  to keep her close, since that’s all she ever wanted, but I knew that anywhere near where I sat and worked posed a risk of her being knocked over.

We talked about putting her in the entertainment unit in the living room. She would be protected behind glass in there, but that wasn’t my Cozy.

We decided to put her on the mantel in the family room. The family room is where I would sit and watch movies at night with Cozy either at my feet, in her favorite corner, or with her head in my lap begging for scritches. When it would get too hot from the fire she would go outside and lie on the patio, but always so she could see me.

Guy Germaine, one of the more active members of Newf.Net, had posted many pictures of his woodworking skills. He had donated some wonderful creations to Newfoundland Rescue which were auctioned to raise money for their cause. I contacted Guy and asked him to make me a special box for my Cozy. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 54. Grief

The weeks after Cozy’s death were very hard for me. The hardest part of the ordeal was first receiving the news that my Cozy was terminally sick. The vet told us she only had days, and looking back I think he was right. I think Cozy also finally got me to understand how sick she really was, and then needed to stay to make sure we would all be okay. Either that or she really just liked having eggs cooked for her breakfast every morning. I’d like to think it was a combination of both.

During the last two weeks I spent with my Cozy, I struggled daily. I should have been spending as much time as possible with her, but I was so sad some days I couldn’t bear to do anything but sit in my chair and weep. My mind would scream what a waste – she’s still here! so I would go sit with her and weep. Many times I pulled myself together enough and take her outside and take some pictures, some of which have graced these pages.  (more…)

Cozy Tales: 53. Cozy Lets me Know

In the midst of Cozy’s ordeal, Colleen had her fifth birthday party. She had a good party, and I don’t think the recent events at home impacted her enjoyment much, if at all. What five year old doesn’t like to be the center of attention? Certainly not our Colleen.

The party was held at a local business built solely for the purpose of hosting children’s birthday parties, and Colleen enjoyed her party. As usual, Lauren was busy running the show while I took pictures. The break from the drama in our lives was welcome, but Lauren and I both wanted to get back to Cozy. We felt guilty for leaving her, but Colleen deserved to have her special day. (more…)