Category Archives: dogs

My Cousin Rescues My Dobermans and My Husband’s Ashes

Lots of you are animal lovers, so I thought you’d like the story of how Danielle’s sister, Viviane, and her husband, Paul, drove my packed Jeep cross country with my two Dobermans, my husband’s ashes, and a car full of my most prized possessions.  This is one reason why I called Viv my “guardian angel” in my last post about my cousin Danielle.

The night my husband had his fatal car accident, one of my first calls was to Viv, who immediately flew from LA to Virginia to support me.  If you’ve already seen my previous blog post — COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY — you know what transpired in the hospital.

After my husband died, Viv stayed with me in Virginia while her husband, Paul, flew to my Colorado vacation home, picked up my Jeep and my two Dobermans, and drove them to my house in Virginia.  As if that weren’t enough, Paul and Viviane flew back to Virginia three months later, and did the whole trip in reverse so I wouldn’t have to do it myself.

Viviane is so smart that she organized the whole thing while I was still in zombie mode.  There’s a lot I don’t remember about that time, but I do know I acted quickly to sell my Virginia home so I could move to our smaller place in Colorado.  I had an estate sale, gave away my most precious things to the friends and family who had helped me, and was ready to move in three months.

Viviane and Paul flew back to pick up the dogs and the Jeep and begin their cross-country adventure.  My Dobermans were the kind you see in suspense films.  Big, docked tail, and cropped ears…you get the picture.  Calypso, my female, was a sweet-natured, highly intelligent dog I’d raised from a puppy.  She was sleek and lean. Max, the male, was a rescue dog we’d gotten when he was probably two or three — the rescue league wasn’t sure.  He either was nudging you to pet him, or kind of grumpy.  He was unpredictable and aggressive toward other dogs.  Our vet, and the trainer at the pet store, recommended for him one of those choke collars that look like large-linked chains.  He had thick fur and a very thick neck, and was impossible to control without it, especially since we hadn’t raised him (if only we’d known about the Dog Whisperer then). I wouldn’t use that collar on a dog now, but it didn’t seem to affect him and we didn’t realize he could have probably been re-trained at any age — by Cesar, at least.

The car packed to the hilt, Paul and Viv commenced the trip, which takes two or three days. Once at a destination with the dogs, and the dogs out of the car, Paul feared that the packed Jeep might attract the attention of thieves, so he wouldn’t leave my late husband’s ashes in the  car.  The ashes were in an antique-looking wood and leather container with little brass feet.  No way you could pass it off as a suitcase or purse or any other sort of case you might carry around.  I cannot imagine what people thought when he entered a restaurant carrying the thing, which was about twenty inches wide and a foot high. Given recent events, someone probably would have called the SWAT team.

Entering a hotel with the dogs was no better. When my late husband and I had made the same trip the previous December, we had tried to make the dogs look friendly by putting Christmas ribbons around their necks and big smiles on our faces. Still, when we rode the elevator and the door slid open for other guests, the people quickly backed away and said they’d wait for the next elevator.  Can you believe the exact same thing happened to Paul and Viviane?

Many hotels also had a size limit on pets, so Paul and Viv had to avoid the lobby and claim to have dogs under 25 pounds.  Every time they barked, of course, it was clear these weren’t chihuahuas.

At last, they arrived at my Breckenridge home.  Finally, the could breathe easy.  Except for one thing. My home was at an elevation of 10,000 feet and Viviane has asthma.

So when I tell you how great Viviane is, you can see it’s not just a warm, fuzzy impression on my part.  She’s been through the fire for me. I don’t have siblings, but the powers that be made up for it by giving me great cousins.

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