It occurred to me, skimming over some of these blog entries, that Cj lurks around the edges of many, and a more complete introduction is long overdue.
It would be easy for a casual reader to conclude that she is merely the "co-innkeeper" of the introductory paragraph. She is, but that is only one small facet of the importance of her presence here.
On a personal level, she has been my spouse, partner, best friend, lover, confidante, co-worker, inspiration and cohort in crime for nearly 25 years now. Those who dismiss the notion of love at first sight have never seen us together. We met, appropriately enough, on Halloween 1986. We both immediately felt a connection, more of a "recognizing" than a "meeting," not so much a "pleased to meet you" as "Oh! There you are! Finally!" We really haven't been voluntarily separated since then.
She still consistently amazes me, this hazel-eyed, red-haired marvel from Oklahoma. She can still surprise me, still make me laugh, still make me think. Her depths of compassion and sympathy, especially for animals, still sometimes brings tears to my eyes and I want to be her, when I grow up. A scared and skittish new foster, afraid of his own shadow and of me, will go to her, allow her to hold him, to croon at him, and cradle him until he's not scared any more. The fact that she willingly fosters with me makes it all possible. I know a few people in rescue who cannot foster dogs, or can only foster one at a time, because of spousal reluctance. Blessedly, I have no such obstacle. Just when I think we cannot possibly work in one more fur-covered anything, and suspect she'd beat me for even suggesting it, she will be the first to say, "Poor little guy. I think we can work him in, can't we?" Couples have divorced over far less than she puts up with daily, without a murmur of complaint.
I'm blessed in so many ways by her constant presence in my life. We've had our rough times - she had a life-threatening case of meningitis a few years ago, with a year of recovery time and two emergency brain surgeries. She's had to endure two phone calls telling her I'd had a heart attack, one call coming from another state. Floods, deaths, financial crises and yet, each simply strengthens our bond and we come through closer than before, still holding hands, still making each other laugh.
Cj is also the origin of my love for pugs. She's the one who first fell in love with our first pug, Petunia. At the time, I pretty much just went along because this particular dog made her very, very happy. Of course, it didn't take long until I was pugged too. Petunia introduced us to pug rescue and life has not been the same since.
Several people have said they enjoy reading the stories of the Shady Rest, and I am deeply grateful and appreciative for each of them. I'm happy if my ramblings about life in this cluttered, fur-tufted little Midwestern suburban brick ranch-style bring a smile, but to give full credit where it is due, Cj is the source. There are eight dogs and four cats here (today); only four dogs and three cats are technically ours, yet I defy anyone to tell from her demeanor and treatment which are which. They all have a warm, safe bed in her heart, whether they're here forever or just for now. Without her tolerance, generosity of spirit, gentleness of soul, and compassionate heart, there would be no Shady Rest. She is my muse - without her constant support, love and inspiration, there would be no stories.
Y'all take care now.