Last Friday could not have started any better. It was sunny, warm and I was on my way to Woodstock.
Last August, Ryan and I purchased “that house”, the one that you both drive by and at the same time say, “if that house ever goes on the market we have to buy it.” We did that for 6 years and then last summer the day it went on the market, we made an offer and it was ours.
We have spent the last seven months ripping apart “our dream house” to make it I guess even that much dreamier? And while we definitely suffered all the ups and downs a first time home renovator goes through, the light is finally at the end of the construction tunnel and last Friday was the day to make all the FINAL decisions.
I spent the first part of the morning discussing paint colors, wallpaper and floor stains. The early afternoon I was in heaven discussing plans for the PARTY BARN, a separate structure that will become our ultimate party laboratory.
Distracted by the team of people I was meeting with, I did not notice that one of the gates on the property was open (The first thing we did was fence the entire property so that Stanley our 11 year old beagle could not run away) and yes Stanley our beagle got away.
Not even two minutes from his escape a woman pulled into my driveway (dressed in a wizard outfit…yes a wizard outfit….remember we are in Woodstock), she was shaken, very kind and spoke the words “I hit your beagle with my car, I know he is hurt, I heard him yelp but he ran off”.
Immediately, we all launched into rescue mode, our sweet builders tore off their tool belts and ran into the woods, the two talented designers up from the city (in nice shoes) did the same and I in panic and shock followed behind them.
For four hours we scoured the woods, four hours I had to think about Stanley and the last 11 years he shared with us. Practical things first, like I can’t believe the last thing he ate was a piece of my egg sandwich through his cage in the back of the car. How would he survive a cold night in the woods with just the bite of an egg sandwich? Each hour I began to loose hope. Finally a moment I was dreading, I called Ryan who was on the train up and said “I just can’t find him. He is gone”.
Ryan had always wanted a dog and the first year we got married Stanley was ours. We could barely pay our rent but Stanley had the best dog toys, bed and treats money could buy. We have moved 8 times since we got Stanley and he is our constant, our rock,ushering us though the successes and failures of life. Our 20-pound Sherpa always reminding us with his constant love that true happiest comes in the simplest forms.
Without Stanley being there to guide us into the next part of our lives, this house would not be our home.
When my dear friends Michael and Martha came by to help. I told them, this house is cursed, put it on the market; I’m never moving in here (I will admit my Sicilian does rear its head from time to time).
I had given up, but per the suggestion of my friend Michael, we took one last trip into the woods, I prayed (yes I pray) to Ryan’s Uncle Rudy (who we lost earlier that week), St. Francis (The Patron Saint of Animals) and to Stanley I softly said, “We still need you Stanley, please come home to us.”
And with the help of Michael and Harry (who I will forever call the Dog Whisperers) Stanley with a bruised paw miraculously popped out of the woods and into my lap.
Maybe he was teaching me a lesson. Perhaps my priorities have been slightly askew. The last year has been so fast and furious with wonderful distractions that perhaps it was time for me to take count, be present and appreciate it all. For without the people or animals around that we truly love, no tile or paint matters. All the stuff we stress about or think is important just becomes stuff.
And then as it always does my head went back to food.
I always thought people that cooked meals for their dogs were a little crazy. But hey I’m Italian and the best way to show your love and appreciation for someone or something is to cook for it, so guess who’s had three hot delicious home cooked meals since he came running out of the woods….yup….my Stanley, our Sherpa, our teacher and our home.
Turns our Rachael Ray has some amazing dog recipes. Grazie Rachael. Stanley and Hudson thank you too!