I ran back to the house and told my husband to get over there quick the new [expletive] neighbor had "lost" another one of her puppies, this time I found it. We hurried back to the ditch and he jumped down in to rescue the little pup. Shivering from the cold, we bundled him in a towel and started back towards our house. Coming towards us was the new next door neighbor, and owner of the puppies. They had moved in a couple weeks before, with their black lab and her six pups. The puppies kept "disappearing through holes in the fence." She never got any of them back or figured out just how they were getting out. Our offers to help with her fence went unheard. We knew this was the last one.
"Oh you found him, he got out again," as she started to reach for him she said, "I'll take him."
I pulled away quickly, "Like hell you will! This one's ours."
And that is how we got Pooka.
I had recently started studies into Celtic mythology and anthropology. Pooka is a name with several definitions, arguable as to it's origin. [See below quotes from Lady Wilde; I named him perfectly] From what I had learned by that time, the meaning intended upon our little guy was that of the "fairy" ('puca') or "nature sprite". The name may possibly originate from 'poc', the Irish word for a male goat, as the satyr-ish appearing Puck in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Well we did find him in a ditch, right near the bridge!) The Pooka is normally associated with Samhain and quite the mischievous character.
His first nickname was "Shredder" there wasn't a piece of paper safe. He stuck to me like glue from the day I brought him in the house. Following me everywhere I went. We had several other dogs, I was doing rescue so he was used to being around other dogs with no difficulty at all, at least from his end. He never showed any signs of possessiveness. When I was busy with another dog, he just faded into the background. But he was always my shadow. When I stood up, so did he. When I picked up my keys, he went to the door, the expectant look on his eyes "Do I get to go this time?"
He was goofy. He bounced. He made me laugh. He made me smile. He jumped up on the bed and snuggled when my husband was gone for months at a time. He always knew exactly when I needed him. He may have had some neediness in him. But to be honest, I'm not sure who leaned on, or needed who, more.
For two years we gathered with a group also interested in Celtic Traditions to celebrate Lughnasadh. On both camping trips Pooka was there. I never had to teach him how to walk on a leash. Signs everywhere said "Dogs must be on leash at all times." So I put a leash on him and dropped my end. He never, ever, left me if I told him not to. I was never alone. If we were on a walk, he stayed with me. He might wander a few steps ahead, linger a few steps back, but a snap of my fingers and he was right by my side in a heel. He is the only dog I have ever had to do that. No matter where we went, how busy or distracting it was, he did not leave me.
In 2001 Pooka was laying at my feet and went suddenly still, then started with tremors. He was as stiff as a board, his eyes unfocused. He'd had a seizure. Having never experienced that before I completely freaked. Within 15 minutes he was happy wiggly Pookie again. I had him in the vets office immediately. They did tests and couldn't find anything wrong. They never did. He went for a couple years were he would have a seizure almost every 3-4 mos. Each time he would come to me first. He knew what was going to happen and he knew I would protect him from the curiosities of any of our other animals. He'd had his last seizure in 2005. We never figured out why.
In 2003 we moved from Oklahoma to South Carolina. We had 3 cats and 4 dogs traveling in two vehicles. On the way here, at a rest stop in Georgia, a black cat popped it's head up out of a ditch while my husband was walking our wolfdog and husky. The cat walked right up to them, face to face. I went and got the cat carrier. Any cat that could do that was our cat. I put our new cat inside the carrier all the way in the back of the car, Pooks jumped in and we were off.
When we got to our new house (I mean just finished, spic-and-span brand new house), we backed both the SUV and car into the garage. Friends were here, eager to meet our wolfdog Odin and the rest of our "Underdogs" so we opened the doors and out they jumped! They ran through their new house, happy and free! Our friend noticed something on the wall and pointed it out to us. A reddish brown streak. Hmmm...no idea. I went to grab the cleaner and then we started seeing them more. Pooka stood next to me in the hallway, his tail thwapped against the wall, and there was a streak (and another and another and another, "Pookie move!") We checked and sure enough, his tail had been chewed on...by that cat we eventually named Salem. Pookie had ridden the last couple hundred miles getting his tail gnawed on without complaint. He just took it in stride. This was the nature of "The Pooks."
There was a different side of him where he really showed his fear; he did not like fireworks or thunderstorms. He had very nervous energy. He was never a ball playing dog, toys didn't interest him. I have the picture of the one time in his whole life that he had a rawhide bone. It was really hard to drain the energy from him. He never seemed to relax, always anticipating...
He was terribly fearful during thunderstorms. He would shake and tremble, do everything he could to get as close to me as possible. The first New Year's Eve we lived here, we bought some fireworks to set off out in front of the house. Fireworks are illegal in OK, so this was new for us. I knew he didn't like loud noises. I put him (as well as all of the other dogs) into a crate for his safety. We set off the fireworks. We came in. I went to the bedroom to get Pooka and found a bent crate and Pooka standing there panting, with bloody paws and mouth. I screwed up. Fortunately it looked much worse than it was. From then on, Pookie went outside with us if we were doing fireworks. He could deal with it, as long as he could be with us.
With the thunderstorms came the creation of the "Pooka hat", if we were in bed and there happened to be a thunderstorm, we would be alerted to this by Pooks jumping up on the bed and laying on the top of our pillows. Primarily on our heads. After a while, we got smart and put extra pillows, and eventually a body pillow underneath/right above our regular pillows. It wasn't quite as uncomfortable for us, but he could never get comfortable when there was thunder. There was a constant readjustment. Much like the cough someone does to get your attention. He just wanted either of us to tell him it was ok. If it stormed while we were awake, I would sit on the porch with him next to me. Passing on calm energy to him as best I could. He tried, but he was much happier when he got to come inside. Then he could bounce over to Daddy, "I brought her in, safe and sound." Over the years my husband nicknamed him "Braveheart", his comfort didn't matter, being with mommy did. Making sure we were all together was the goal.
In the last couple years he got to the point that he would not leave either of us in the bedroom by ourselves. If I got up early, he would jump up on the bed and lay down next to my husband. All of the other dogs came out of the room. He would look at me as if to say "I'll watch daddy, you take care of everything else." He started to share more time between the two of us. Mostly with me because I am home all day, but you'd think my husband had been gone for years the way that dog acted when he came home from work! With a new job, my husband no longer left for months at a time, he finally got the chance to spend a bit more time with Pooka. They were both better for it. Pooka was the happiest when we were both in his view.
He was needy, but he was never demanding or insistent. He was a wallflower. He helped to raise Rock and Connor. Teaching them "doggy manners" as only another dog can do. In the last couple months, my husband and I would look at Pooka, thinking the same thing... when? He still bounced around the yard like a puppy, but he got tired faster. He couldn't go for the length of walks he used to, especially in the summertime heat. His muzzle was turning very gray. Sometimes he ate. Sometimes he didn't. He'd get grumpy and short with the other dogs. He'd stretch out in the hallway, quiet, and snap at one of the others if they walked by him.
On Friday night, Pooka was laying in the bathroom. When my husband went in to take a shower, he stayed in a bit longer than normal. As he came out he had a very concerned look on his face, "I think he had a seizure." He said he gave him a light massage and talked to him calmly. Pooka walked out of the bathroom over to his spot next to the closet and laid down. I got up to give him his goodnight scratchy and tell him I love him (as I had already done with the others.) All was normal, he looked tired but nothing out of the usual. We turned off the lights and soon after I saw him get up and walk out. Within minutes he was back in the room, as were all the others. I fell blissfully asleep amongst my furries.
Saturday, Sept. 19th, I awoke to the normal routine. Rock on one side of me, Keeva on the other. Keenan at my feet. My husband on the other side of Rock had Connor snuggling with him, Banshee at his feet. I lay for a few minutes ruffling up the fur on my wunderdogs. Then the word "Off" was spoken and, looking dejected, each one slowly plopped down off the bed. I got up and went around the end of the bed and there was Pooka, on the floor laying perfectly still. "Pooka? Pooka! No! No! NO!" My husband got out of bed in disbelief. I kneeled next to the lifeless shell that had held the spirit of Pooka and wept, my tears falling on his fur, my husband's joining. We both stroked the fur, the salt and pepper muzzle, a flash of 12 years instantly gone.
We left him there for a time. So the other dogs could see and smell. Maybe it's important, or maybe it's humanizing, but it seems as if things have been easier on the rest of them. When one leaves and doesn't come back, they don't understand where that pack member went.
We took him to our vet, my husband carried him in. They made a clay imprint of his paw and gave it to us. I drove back home through my tears. Everything was so mechanical. As soon as we opened the door, it was as if I had been smashed in the face. He was always our "tripping hazard" when we came home, bouncing everywhere overjoyed with our return. We were met instead by a happy and mostly calm Banshee. I began to sob, my breathing hitched, I just wanted to wake up from this nightmare.
It has instead been an emotionally painful, surreal reality. Tuesday we got a card from the vet's office. Wednesday we got his death certificate. Most of the time I feel him here. I miss his physical presence. I don't ever want to forget his silly happy grin, his always moving swishing tail, his full body "I'm so happy!" wiggling, the way he sneezed, the way those beautiful brown eyes looked into mine, so trusting and faithful; my constant companion, my shadow for 12 years.
A friend of mine is going through a rough time with one of her animals. I wanted to give her some comfort. I wrote this to her. I think I had an epiphany...
"I know there's always a reason. I've lived long enough now that I see that. I see it clearer and clearer; if this wouldn't have happened, then that wouldn't have happened and I wouldn't be where I am. I don't like everything that's happened, but I like where my conscience is. Life just ain't easy when you love furries. No matter what, you end up suffering terribly emotionally; you give so much of yourself because they give all of themselves."
Emotionally, I'm a train wreck. Logically, death is a part of life. And as far as any of us know, who's to say we are not all sharing the same womb to be reborn into a far more wonderful place than this? It is what my Ancestors believed. Death, Life, Rebirth. If so, then I will be happily, willingly, lovingly ambushed by dogs and cats as soon as I get there, Boomer, Binks, Kiwi, Data, Jean-Luc, Luke, Riker, Worf, Odin, and now Pooka among them. If not? Well, I guess it doesn't matter if I believe what I want to believe then does it?
I miss you Pooka, Pookasaur, Pookasaurus Rex, Shredder, Pooks, Pookinator, Pooka Da Pooks, forever the Braveheart.
Forever my Pooka
Phouka According to Lady Wilde (mother of Oscar Wilde)
"Pooka have a reputation for tomfoolery and hijinks.
Their playful natures make them both beloved and hated among the other fae.
Somewhat childlike throughout their lives, the pooka never outgrow their penchant for pranks."
"However, despite the outward playfulness of the pooka, they hide a lingering sadness deep within.
The clown of the changelings, pooka laugh on the outside to hide their suffering on the inside.
At times, pooka fall into wrenching periods of depression that last for weeks on end.
Whenever this happens, they tend to disappear, returning once their spirits have lifted."
"Most other changelings do not understand this dual nature of the pooka, and few ever take them seriously.
This stems perhaps from the fact that every pooka has an animal affinity that effects his looks as well as his personality.
Most pooka tend toward the terminally cute, with fuzzy ears and big eyes.
Most have tails similar to those of their animal cousins."
" However, those who understand the pooka respect and listen intently to them".
"The expression "from the mouths of babes" certainly applies to them.
They have the innate ability to cut through the fog and, with innocent wisdom, to understand most situations."
"The pooka were born of the dreams of mortals who wished for a better, more carefree life.
These mortals envied animals their relaxed lifestyle.
Cats sleep in the sun throughout the day;
puppies romp and play at their leisure. Horses have no chores to do, no taxes to pay.
Animals have nothing more to do than eat, sleep, and learn about the world.
Thus, early legends said the pooka ate, slept, and watched all that happened around them.
They, like the wise animals, were believed to understand more about the world and its workings than their mortal Dreamers. "
"Despite this, the pooka kept many aspects of what they were before the influence of Christian morals.
The pooka never stopped watching and listening to the world around them.
They remained ever-vigilant, peeking in windows,
always looking for a prank or a gag to pull.
They also never became mean-spirited.
The pooka remained a friendly and well-meaning, if somewhat annoying and amoral, faerie.
Above all else, they kept their desire to cheer up those who needed it. "
"Although all pooka may not do so consciously, they use their pranks and games and even their lies to tip the balance back toward the Dreaming.
Their silliness serves as their weapon against the darkness that would swallow the world.
Quite consciously, the pooka realize the burden that they have taken upon themselves as the jesters of the world."
"They step forth into territory where others refuse to go,
playing the fool or risking the anger of their targets,
only to inject a bit of joviality and laughter into an otherwise grey existence."
"Despite their open frivolity, pooka can tender their behavior to fit the circumstances.
When the situation requires them to be serious, they can be
. _Deeply_ loyal, pooka would never intentionally harm anyone they loved.
Nor would they make light of an intensely serious moment"
"However, pooka cannot bear to see people unhappy.
This stems from their own unbearable sadness
They always attempt to cheer others up, even if they may not always choose the appropriate method
And they greatly appreciate any attempt to cheer them up as well".
http:// www.lib.ipfw.edu/~jakwkp01/pooka/sarah.html Maintained by: Kent Jakway