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So the picture attached is me with my “robot head” from yesterday’s school performance. It was hilarious. I thought I was going to die between the claustrophobia, dancing like a fool, and laughing like a hyena. My students were very impressed, especially because I knew to “shuffle”. How amazing is that head by the way? An 8th grader made it! Those eyes are flashlights. Amazeballs! I have to comment right away at the amazing 6 songs that popped up today. Holy Awesome!

The robot head worn at this year’s Airbands at my middle school. That’s me!

I drove to Tahoe yesterday after work to finally see my parents and meet their new puppy Quinn, who is precious. I am sort of hanging out, but really, I am working. I was supposed to come up two weeks ago, but snow and a horrible head cold forced me to cancel. Unfortunately, my stack of grading is out of control, so Mr. Sam Cooke’s song is definitely appropriate for the theme of this weekend.

I have made the sad mistake of calling Quinn Darby, several times. All three of us wince each time Darb’s name comes out. We all keep doing it though. This poor puppy has some big paws to fill. Her big sister was pretty special. It’s funny how we are with dogs. Or even pets in general. This is our family’s 6th. We’ve been pretty lucky with almost all of them. Actually, any time spent with a family dog is pretty lucky.

Before my brothers were born, Duke, a horribly behaved, stinky, loving, and loyal golden retriever, arrived via plane from Victoria, TX. He was my best friend. I named him after Luke Duke, my boyfriend on TV. We were inseparable, especially in Oroville where we had a cabin. I was a cowgirl back in those days. Perhaps I still am. Actually, I definitely am.

I was allowed to traipse all over our property with Duke, and he guarded me a few times from some larger dogs when we accidentally wandered into other properties. If you asked me when I was a child, I would have told you that he saved my life many times, but he probably didn’t. He was my superhero. He ran away one horribly stormy night at the cabin, and I cried the whole next day. He finally came home I think the next night, the pads on his feet callused from walking over rocks and through mud. He slept next to the fire the remainder of our vacation, happy I am sure, to be home safe and sound. When we had to give him away to my dad’s friend who had a farm (yes, it’s true. He did go to stay on a duck farm) I didn’t think I could forgive my parents. I was only 5 I think. He was too big, and according to my gram, had no manners whatsoever.

He was replaced with Molly, a cocker spaniel who would snarl and growl if you got too close. She went nearly as soon as she came. Miko came next, the poor black and white shih-tzu with an overbite; she was dumb as a bag of rocks. But she was sweet and I bawled my eyes out when we finally had to put her down 17 years later when I was a grown adult. Before she died, we got Maddie, the most precious puppy I had ever seen. She was a Wheaten Terrier, and eventually became frightened of almost everything, everyone, and everywhere. We put her on doggie Xanax, and that helped a bit. She was my dad’s best friend. Truly. We didn’t think we could ever replace her. Darby though, was leaps and bounds better than Maddie personality-wise. She was the best, and out of the blue, as a very young dog, got sick and died in my parents arms.

It’s been pretty devastating, especially on my mom. This dog arrived while my grandmother was dying in Arizona, and my mom no longer had anyone to take care of. She filled many voids for us all, but especially mom. She followed mom around like a, well, puppy dog. She loved people. She’d sprint down the pier and leap into the lake. She loved toys. And she even barked away a bear at our front door.

So calling this new sweet puppy the wrong name is bittersweet. We haven’t forgotten, and we are all moving forward. Watching mom with this precious little girl warms my heart. Quinn’s already very vocal and full of attitude. She fell asleep in her dog bowl this morning, and I taught her how to shake hands last night. She’s pretty damned smart. But she’s scrappy and loves hearing her own little barking voice at all hours. There’s not a puppy out there as loved as Quinn, or an owner loved as much as my mom. Which is how it should be. It’s just that easy.

Chain Gang–Sam Cooke

Dude Looks Like a Lady–Aerosmith

It’s Easy–Weezer

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys–Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson

Ramblin’ Man–The Allman Brothers

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough–Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell