Tag Archives: Fisher

Fisher Banks: April 1, 2003 – September 19, 2016

I am almost always the first one out of bed.  There is a light on the kitchen counter and I turn it on and head towards the coffee maker.  Right about then there is usually a thump.  Fisher is jumping out of bed.  He heads into the kitchen and I say “Go back to bed, buddy.  It’s early.”

For years he would head straight to his dog bowl but recently he would sometimes head back to the bedroom.  I would return to the bedroom and help him back into bed.  Sometimes when I left in the morning I would fill his bowl and he would still be snoozing.

This morning I went out into the kitchen and wept.  He was gone.

Last week I took Fisher in for a check up.  The days that he decided not to eat had been outnumbering the days that he was eating.  Lab tests came back and indicated that something wasn’t quite right.  Our vet asked if we wanted to come back in later in the week for x-rays.  I explained that Emily would be turning eleven on Sunday and that I needed the weekend.  We started him on some antibiotics and hoped for the best.

On Saturday I almost called the vet to say that I felt like I had my old dog back.  On Sunday morning I fed him before I left for a run. I came home to discover that he had tricked Mike and the kids into feeding him again.  Old man was up to his old tricks. Emily’s birthday was the kind of day where we were all together and everything was just right. I went to bed Sunday evening with my girls upstairs and Fisher curled up on my feet.  If an ordinary day can be almost perfect than Sunday nearly was.

I struggle with Em’s birthdays.  She is getting older every day it seems and her independence is startling.  When I woke up just after midnight I was teary and struggled to go back to sleep.  I ran up the stairs and peeked in on each of the girls.  I let Fisher outside and sat on the couch to wait for him to come back and scratch at the door.  He was out longer than normal so I opened the door and called for him.  For a moment I thought “If that bastard went outside and died tonight I will never forgive him.”  It was dark and I really didn’t want to be out on my knees in the dirt sobbing.  Just then he came around the corner and he looked so tired.  We came back in and he went straight to the bedroom.  I tried to get him to come back out for some water but he didn’t want any.

I went back to the bedroom and patted his spot on the bed.  For weeks now I have helped him get the back legs up.  He would jump up into bed when nobody was home but if I was home he would whine until I helped him. “Come on, let’s go to bed.”  He curled up on the floor and he wouldn’t look at me.  I went back to bed and tossed and turned.  Eventually I joined him on the floor and listened to him snore, pressing my face against his ears as I have done so many times before.

In the morning I told Mike that I was worried about him.  He didn’t eat.  We joked that he was likely still full from Sunday’s double breakfast.  I admitted that I was possibly just being melodramatic what with Em’s birthday and Lucy sleeping in her own bed.  I was running out of babies to baby and was just focusing all of my attention on my old man.  We sat on the front porch and waited for the school bus.  Lucy and Fisher were slow to come back up the front steps.

In the morning I called the vet to schedule a time to take him back in.  They had an appointment in the late afternoon available.  I hung up and put it on the calendar and the phone rang.  “You can bring him in right now if you’d rather.”

When our vet came back in with the lab results she said that his hematocrit levels had dropped rapidly in the five days since they had seen him.  She said his anemia was likely the cause of his lethargy and that x-rays could give us some answers.  I said “I would rather be worried sick and here than worried sick and at home.  We can stay all day if we need to…”

Lucy and Fish and I just lay on the floor and goofed off.  Lucy is good company when I am worried.  She has a pretty black and white world view.  “We don’t even know what’s wrong yet, Mom!” So no tears from me!

When the vet came back in after his x-rays she said “Lucy do you want come up front and color a picture for a minute while we talk to your Mom?” I knew everything I needed to know right then.  “We just took one picture and that was all we needed to see.”

I am not much of a hugger but as she said “It’s cancer and it’s in his lungs,” I clung to her in the hopes that I would not slide to the floor.  “You don’t have to do anything right now.  But you will need to make some decisions soon.  He is one tough dog…”

I explained that I felt like I was crazy this morning but that I knew.  You read those stories about how people live until their grandchild is born and then they pass in their sleep.  Or a husband passes and days later the wife joins him.  He had given me one more weekend.  I had asked him for one more and he rallied.  But he was holding on just barely and I had to let him go.

Lucy was coloring calmly in the lobby.  “Come on, Lu, we are going to take Fish home.” In silence the three of us got back in the car.  It had been pouring down rain all morning, a perfectly gloomy morning. I had seven hours.  Seven more hours to make sure he knew that I loved him.

Mike came home quickly and picked up Em from school.  She knew right away when she saw him that it was Fisher. “Baby girl, Fish is sick…. we have to say goodbye and let him go…”

We spent the day on the floor in the living room.  Shortly before the vet came to the house we tried to take him for one last walk.  He peed on some mailboxes.  He was trotting along and making me doubt our choices and I was sobbing as I watched him.  And then not a quarter of a mile from our house he just sat down.  He was done.  Mike went back to the house for the car and we sat in the middle of the street and laughed at our stubborn old man.  One more car ride and we were all back assembled in the living room.

Fisher was my constant.  In a life of heartbreak and new houses and divorce and new love and marriage and babies and change he was my one thing that was unwavering.   I have been dreading this day since Emily was only a few months old.  When the vet looked at me yesterday and said “Are you ready?” I lowered my face into his chest and sobbed.

Fish, I brought my babies home to you.   I will take care of the babies… you, go.  I got this….


Uh oh

It’s cute the first time your kiddo says “Uh oh.”

It’s cute the second time, maybe even the third time.

Somewhere around two or three days after learning the word “Uh oh” it dawns on the stay at home parent that “uh oh” is toddler-speak for “Mom, come clean this shit up!” and it becomes infinitely less cute.

This week I did that foolish thing again where I go to the bathroom.  Alone.  I wasn’t gone thirty seconds when I heard “Uh oh” from the kitchen.

I hurried back out to the kitchen and there they were.  Lucy and Fisher.  Covered in baking powder.  Completely covered.

Fish likes to give me this look like he has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on around him.  Like all labs, you can catch him red-handed and he will still do the dog version of shrugging his shoulders.

I didn’t have the good sense to snap a picture before I started cleaning up baking powder.  But even a picture would not have captured the madness.  Dog covered in baking powder.  Floor covered in baking powder.  Baby delighted with herself.  “Lucy!  What are you doing?”  Lucy smiles.  Fish just looks around like he is as innocent as the day is long.  Lucy turns and reenters the pantry and emerges with a handful of dog food.

Kid ratted him out. She knocked the baking powder on the floor while getting him a little snack.  These two are thick as thieves.  Uh oh.


Do the Right Thing

I had one of those moments today where I was forced to make a choice in a split second.  I had one of those moments when neither option is really what I want but the confines of time and the number of arms I have forces me to choose.  I did the “right thing.”  But it didn’t feel good. It did not feel good at all.  And my heart still hurts.


I have told the story here before of how I fell in love with Fisher.  I have admitted that he sleeps in my bed with me. But I have never spoken of the way he tears my heart out of my chest every so often, mostly because I like to try and forget.

He will hop down from the bed and then be unable to move.  Or he will be in the midde of jumping up on to the couch and he will collapse.  A seizure, says the vet.  They do not happen often enough to establish any kind of pattern.  Blood work comes back fine.  No known cause.

His legs crumble beneath him.  He begins to pant and drool.  His eyes look deep in to mine as if he is frightened.  He doesn’t move.  It lasts for a minute, maybe two.  If I am alone with him I hold him in my arms and tell him that I love him and that he is okay, that he is safe.  If I am with MQD or my ex-husband I bawl and sob and say “Is he okay? Do you think he is okay?” repeatedly until I am kicked out of the room.  (I will wait here while you make a mental note – Kelly in a crisis, bad idea unless she is the only adult present.)

This afternoon marked the first time that Fish had an episode while I was alone with him.  Alone with him and Lucy.

Fish and Lucy like to look out the window in the afternoon and wait for the school bus. When it is warm they stand at the door.  When it is cold they stand and look over the back of the couch.  Today we were all snuggled on the couch, Fish with his feet over the back of the couch, Lucy Goose right next to him.  They were watching, waiting for the school bus.  They might have stayed just like that for the thirty minutes it would take for Emily to get home.  I considered reaching back behind me to grab my phone and take a picture of these two but I feared my movement would disrupt this quiet calm.  So, I just watched them.

And then his legs folded under him and he curled in to himself.  Lucy was quick to take advantage of this chance to climb on to his back.  And this was my moment.  My split-second “what the hell should I do now?” moment.  I wanted to take my sweet ten-year-old boy in my arms and hold him, shh-shh him and tell it was going to be okay.  He was scared, he is just an animal.

In that moment, though, we were all animals.  All three of us.  And I chose Lucy. I don’t think I should get a medal for having the presence of mind to grab Lucy and hold her away from my ailing dog.  Anyone with a pet knows that a good dog, even a great dog can be squirrelly when they are frightened.  I could pet his head.  I could shh-shh him but I could not hold him in my lap.  I could not hold him because I had this wild thing of a 13 month-old in my lap instead.  And my heart broke in to a million pieces.

20130304-194359.jpgThose big brown eyes.  The same eyes I fell so hard and fast for long before I became a mother they tore a hole straight through me.  “It’s okay, big boy.  I am right here.  I am just keeping Lucy Goosey safe, baby boy, keeping her from bugging you, okay?  But I am right here, I promise, I am right here.”

I must have told him in a thousand different ways that I wasn’t going anywhere and that I was just holding on to Lucy to keep her from bothering him.  But I knew even as the words were falling from my mouth that it was not completely true.  My big boy was hurting.  And I was protecting my baby.

It was the “right thing.”  But it did not feel good.  It did not feel good at all.

Minutes went by and his breathing steadied.  I sobbed the ugly tears on the phone and Fish calmed down.  So, eventually, did I. The school bus came at 2:37 and Fisher jumped off the couch like nothing was wrong.  Cautiously, I opened the door.  He’d either take a few steps and slow down and I would know that this time, this time was different, or he’d leap off the porch to cover his big girl with kisses.

He leapt off the porch.  I leaned against the door frame and watched those two run up the front hill, all zig-zag across the flower beds.  Lucy pressed her face against the storm door waiting for them to come up the front steps.  And just like that today was exactly the same as every other afternoon.

So help me, if these kids are not the death of me, this dog will be.


True Love

When I first met my husband he gave me a little spring in my step.  He was hot.  He was 25.  I was a mom.  I was 32.  He liked me.  He like liked me.  It made me feel a little extra sassy.  Mama’s still got it and all that, right?

Years later the discrepancy in our ages sometimes creates the opposite effect.  I wonder if I look older when I stand next to him.  Does his under 30 skin make the spots on my face more obvious?  I am tired.  It shows.  I aged quite a bit the year after Emily was born.  It’s happening again.  Staying awake for a year can wreck you. The lines in my forehead are deep, rivaled only by the dark circles under my eyes.


This morning I took matters in to my own hands.  I took an old, old man to bed.  He has a grey beard and his feet smell like corn chips.  But he makes me feel beautiful.  He kisses like me there is no tomorrow.  His brown eyes have seen me happy.  They have seen me sad.  He loves me unconditionally.  His breath leaves a little something to be desired.  But I love him.  With everything I am.

Fish man



A Pubic Service Announcement

Just a quick Public Service Announcement for you on a Sunday morning.

It is entirely possible that your baby is smarter than your dog.  You can let that sink in.  I’ll wait.

My dog is really quite bright.  At nine years old he is wise and grey.  He is patient and kind.  Unless he wants to go outside and then he is less than patient.  He will whine and bark and run in circles shouting “Hello, assholes!!  Didn’t you hear?!  Your dog wants to go OUTSIDE right NOW!”

Lucy didn’t say a word.  She just waited until I went to the bathroom and hurled her little body at the screen door until it popped open.  Fortunately kids are slobs and she didn’t shut the door behind her or I’d still be screaming her name and looking under the couch cushions.

The takeaway from this little tale – your baby might be smarter than your dog.  And lock your screen door.  You’re welcome.  20121110-153712.jpg


**Note to my readers (some of whom I formerly considered my friends) – Really?  Do you not even pay attention?? A PUBIC Service Announcement?  Note the title, kids.  Killer typo.  And  not one of you gave me shit about this. No wonder my baby is running away, I am a MESS.

Money and Priorities

The decision for me to stay at home with the kids wasn’t easy for me or forMQD.  I had to wrap my mind around being largely dependent on him financially.  Since I would be taking on the bulk of the grocery shopping and management of the household it made sense for me to be responsible for our finances.  It can’t have been easy for MQD to simultaneously turn over not only the bulk of his paycheck to me but also the spending of said paycheck.

So far we have been doing a pretty good job of communicating.  Sharing finances can get messy and I expected there to be more bumps in the road than there has been.  A tight budget means that sometimes you have to go without.  Priorities are what they are and Mom and Dad tend to fall to the bottom of the list.  It’s hard to want to spoil the kids and not have the financial means to do so.  But I grew up in a house without deep pockets and I think it made me appreciate the things we did have.

Sometimes I am shopping and something just jumps in the cart.

MQD, I spent $3 on one of the kids today. But he looks so happy.  It was worth it.

It’s looking like maybe I should have spent $6.  Someone is looking awfully jealous.

Speaking of bed buddies….

I am a compulsive bed maker. I don’t like sleeping in an unmade bed and I don’t like getting dressed in a state of mess. (Keep your comments to yourself all those that may have seen my bedroom before I was about twenty years old.)

I walk in the bedroom and think what the hell? My room is a mess! I know I made the bed. And from behind the pile of blankets I hear the sigh. A contented sleeping dog. With his ass on our pillows. Good thing I love him. Can’t say I have ever had another roommate that I’d let get away with this….


Second Fiddle

I couldn't have loved him more if I had given birth to him.

I used to have a bumper sticker that said “My Labrador Retriever is smarter than your honor student.”

This morning I got another bumper sticker. This one was not for my dog. In our county the Kiwanis program sponsors a “Terrific Kid” program. Students are recognized for having outstanding character. Em is this month’s Terrific Kid from her class. MQD, Lucy and I piled in to the cafeteria with parents and Kiwanis members and we clapped and watched the kids get their certificates, their pencils, a sticker and the bumper sticker I had mocked so many years ago.

I held my sweet Lucy in my arms and I smiled back when strangers smiled at her little face. “She’s adorable,” said the strangers and I smiled. But my smile was not as bright as it ordinarily is. Instead my eyes said “Sure, yeah, she’s cute but look up there – my big girl. She is TERRIFIC, dammit!!”

Lucy played second fiddle to our big girl this morning and fortunately she was comfortable there. I took my first child to the vet this morning for his annual check up. In to the reception area we went, Fish on a leash, Lucy in her seat. My hands were full but I did not feel particularly frazzled.

I got the smiles from the strangers in the waiting room at the vet. I smiled back. “How old?” said the woman with the greyhound puppy. “He will be nine this Easter Sunday.”

And I laughed. I think she might have meant the baby. Two months and one week, Miss Lucy was in the spotlight. Then it was unceremoniously taken from her.

Welcome to the family, Lucy Goose. Sharing is a bitch. But you’ll get used to it.


Big, brave boy at the vet

Saturday Morning

It was 6:51 when Fisher’s tail started thwap-thwap-thwap at the end of the bed,  the sound that a dog’s tail makes when he is excitedly wagging his tail against the bed from the prone position.   “Mom!  Did I sleep in? I think I slept in!”

It was about a quarter after seven last night when I felt my eyes get heavy. It didn’t seem fair that I pass out during Friday night movie night,  I had picked the movie, Lily Tomlin’s  The Incredible Shrinking Woman.  But there was no fighting it.  MQD woke me a little after eight and I climbed in to bed.  Continue reading

My Oldest

My first child was a sloppy mess from the start.  He peed in the house.

The Baby & his Grover

He whined when left alone.  And he had very sharp teeth.

The Choppers

He ate the corner of my couch.  He stood in his food bowl when he ate his dinner.

My Sloppy Dining Companion

I loved him from the very first night we brought him home. And I was proud of him as he grew in to a big strong boy.

The Handsome Teenager

When I was pregnant with Emily I imagined the two of them fast friends.    Fisher and I would lie in bed at night and I would tell him everything I was afraid of.

Snoozing with My Confidant

When Emily was about two months old I was sitting on the couch with the two of them, tears rolling down my face.  Her dad asked me in that way that a man talks to a post-partum woman if I was okay. “Yeah, I was just thinking that she will grow up with him and then one day she will have to understand what it is like to lose a dog, and it breaks my heart.  I mean she is going to love him so much and he is going to die…”   Through the hormones I could see that perhaps I was getting ahead of myself.

Tiny Pals

There were a million hard things about Em’s dad and I separating.  But the hardest may very well have been pulling out of the driveway, Fisher’s head poking through the pickets on the deck.  I missed that dog every minute of every day.  But as I said to anyone that would listen, you can take  a man’s kid and half of his stuff, but only an asshole would take his dog, too.

My Kids at Play

Fate and a cross-country move brought Fish back to me last year.  He still smells like corn chips.  He still likes to sleep in the middle of the bed.  I still get choked up when I think about the relationship that a kid has with their dog.

First Trip on the School Bus

And now Fisher is eight years old.  I hope that he is around to walk to the bus stop when the time comes to send this new baby off to school.  He’ll be a little grayer, maybe a little slower.  I was thinking about whether or not he will have the same patience for this baby that he had for Emily, if he will be as tolerant with the “pony” rides and the dress up games.  For now I find peace in the fact that he is already forging his relationship with the new baby.  Recently I remarked to MQD that it seems I pick dog hair out of my belly button almost daily lately.  That’s what that means, right?  Fish is bonding with the new baby?