Monday, March 8, 2021

The Dog Days of Summer



Natalie Strom

No dog has ever had a better life than a dog that’s lived in Goodland. I have often talked about my dog, B.B. Wrinkles, in my column because she is very much a part of my life in our village. I hate to be sappy two columns in a row, but this article is dedicated to B.B. Wrinkles Peters-Strom-Erickson, who passed away on July 3, two days before her sixth birthday. I miss her incredibly, and I know I should celebrate her life. So this is my attempt – to share what an amazing life she had here in Goodland.

B.B. Wrinkles lived in Goodland longer than I have. She moved here when she was only six weeks old, picked up from Golden Gate by my soon-to-be-roommate, Jenni. A pit bull, boxer and lab mix, she was adorable as a puppy and beautiful as an adult dog.

When B.B. was six months old, I moved into the shed (if Tara O’Neill is reading this, it was an art studio, not a shed) in Jenni’s backyard. We lived there for more than two years; Jenni, myself, B.B. and Stella the Boston Terrier. We also had Lulu, the “little devil” Boston that later moved on to a wonderful home.

B.B. and I formed a bond very quickly. Stella was very much Jenni’s dog and so B.B. sort of became mine. The dogs had a huge yard to play in, and the back door was always open for them. They were free to roam

B.B. was truly at her happiest in or around the water. PHOTOS BY JOSHUA ERICKSON

B.B. was truly at her happiest in or around the water. PHOTOS BY JOSHUA ERICKSON

as they pleased. And every night, we took them for a walk. They slept in the bed, and they had free range of the couches.

I remember one night, B.B. and Stella got loose. Jenni was out of town and I was terrified that I had lost her pets. A friend helped me look everywhere. I ran down our usual nightly walking route and as I reached a certain corner, B.B. came bounding toward me as fast as she could. She stopped, looked at me and turned around and ran back towards where she came from. It was a total, “Timmy’s in the well!” moment. I ran after her, and sure enough, Stella had fallen in the canal. Luckily, it was low tide and Stella was basically waist high in muck. It was a moment I will never forget. I realized B.B. was incredibly loyal, especially to Stella who she considered to be the “pack” leader.

When Jenni moved away she asked me to take “The B’s gal,” as we called her. She said B.B. was already mine anyway. I was so grateful. I loved that dog so much, and I really couldn’t imagine not having her in my life.

B.B. and I moved to a “triplex” on Goodland; a house split into three apartments. B.B. was really upset at first because she missed Stella. The first time I went to work was the first time B was ever truly alone. She always had Stella – and Lulu for a quite a while,

The B and me delivering the Coastal Breeze in the Everglades. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

The B and me delivering the Coastal Breeze in the Everglades. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

too. It took some time to adjust, but it made our bond closer. I now lived alone, but with B.B.; I wasn’t truly alone.

We called her the “ham sandwich” because of the silly stunts she would pull. Our neighbor in the triplex, Duffy, instantly became B.B.’s new human best friend. Every morning I would let her out and she would walk down the cobblestone path to Duffy’s and lightly tap on her sliding glass door. Sometimes B would spend hours there! I just left the front door open and eventually she would come back.

About a year and a half into our time at the triplex, Duffy stopped by and had a few treats for the B’s gal. She told her to sit – which was the only trick B knew. Then she told her to shake… and she did it! I had no idea Duffy had taught her the trick and Duffy had no idea that B.B. didn’t already know the trick. She just asked B to do it one day, and she did. It was hilarious! After that, we taught her to lie down in about three tries. She was smart.

She also loved to swim. She would “play swim” and she would “serious swim.” When she played, she would push her legs down like a frog, giving her height to splash with her front paws. Then she would yelp and bite at the splashes. People who saw it for the first time always thought she was drowning. Simply ridiculous.

Me, Jenni, Stella and B.B. in the hills of North Carolina. B and I paid a visit the summer that Jenni and Stella moved.

Me, Jenni, Stella and B.B. in the hills of North Carolina. B and I paid a visit the summer that Jenni and Stella moved.

Her serious swim would always take place at our neighbor’s cistern-turned-swimming pool. She would do laps; back and forth and back and forth. She would push off against the wall and would swim to the point of exhaustion.

She was such a water dog. She loved the boat, swimming in the ocean and long walks on the beach – really, she would just stroll along with us as we walked.

B.B. and I used to weed the garden together. She would come outside with me, watching as I pulled weeds that were never ending. Eventually, she would always come over and start pulling on the tall grasses – not to eat them, just to help.

Her loyalty to me had been solidified. She followed me everywhere. She would lie in the doorway of any room I was in. She really didn’t need a leash because she would just follow behind me – but the law’s the law.

She had dog friends and human friends. She knew the island like the back of her paw but never left her yard, even if the gate was accidentally left open. She loved visiting the post office and all the dog-friendly establishments in Goodland. B loved to beg for food, and she usually got what she wanted. She also loved the golf cart rides to and from many of these places – the wind blowing back her ears, tongue hanging out – what a life!

At around three years old, B.B. was diagnosed with an extremely rare auto-immune disease.

Not only did she help weed the garden, but she helped prep for it too!

Not only did she help weed the garden, but she helped prep for it too!

Her body was attacking the cartilage in her joints – literally chipping away at it, especially in her back ankles. High doses of steroids and chemotherapy finally got her into remission, but we knew it could come back any time.

We moved again. This time, Josh joined us. It took a while for her to fully gain his trust. If we were both home, she refused to go on a walk unless I came with. Eventually, that stopped, and I swear, I think she started loving him more than me! I was even jealous at times. They would lay together; she started listening to him more than me; and she would get in the bed right in between us.

In January of this year, B’s condition came back. That meant back to steroids and back to chemo. This time around, the steroids didn’t work and the chemo made her incredibly sick. We tried this for two months and realized it was no longer a quality of life we could accept for her. She was miserable. We took her off all the drugs and prepared for what would slowly and sadly come next.

But we got lucky. A good neighbor came by and made B.B. a “chakra sock.” He practices chakra balancing on humans, using gems and stones to balance different areas of the body and offered to let B.B. try it out. It seemed to work really well. She was walking with ease, back to jumping on the couch and the bed and

Josh and B.B. napping together while also making me jealous.

Josh and B.B. napping together while also making me jealous.

going up and using the stairs. The “bucket list” we made for her, while pretty much completed by then, was put on the back burner.

But her body just couldn’t stop hurting itself. On July 1, I came home and she was not looking good; her gums were incredibly pale. A trip to the emergency vet brought us news that she had now developed autoimmune hemolytic anemia – her body was attacking her red blood cells. Steroids, again was the only possible “cure.” Knowing the steroid treatment wouldn’t work, we gave her a blood transfusion, took her home and spent one great day with her. On Wednesday, Dr. Parisi and MaryLou of Island Animal Hospital came to the house and put her to rest. She was ready.

She was loyal. She was in pain since she was three and never showed it. She stuck by my side always and for as long as she could. All her dog and human friends were so sad to see her go, but most of all me. Because now when I’m at home alone, I’m really alone. I know just how she felt that first day without Stella. But B.B. accepted it, moved on and had a good life. And I know, one day, I’ll do the same.

Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for over two years and has worked in Goodland on and off for more than five years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is also a former Buzzard Queen of Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland. email:[/author]


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