New York, NY
by Heidi D. Hansen c2013
In the high end of town sits a five star hotel with palladium – circus painted ceilings, marble columns, and where all the windows are arched and twinkle day and night with crystal lights.
It was built in the early days of the railroad tycoons, and one of the wealthiest of those built this hotel to house himself and his family as well as guests of royal and worldy lineage.
Many generations later, his great – great granddaughter; the last of his family line, inherited this building. She was called, by all who knew her, as simply, “The Countess.”
She and her favorite cat, Mimosa (a green-speckled tabby), resided in the top floor penthouse suite, doing lots of charitable business and only coming down to the lobby floors to attend gala parties and to welcome Dukes.
Like a lot of cat lovers who live for their pet’s comfort and adoration, The Countess became excessively devoted to Mimosa, and towards the end left everything to the cat in her Will.
But sometimes even with hootsba and the best of intentions, the timing of things just doesn’t go right, and when the dark day came when Mimosa parted to the heavenly skies above, The Countess stopped coming downstairs. She no longer attended events, and she closed all of her charitable business. She called in her head lawyer and wrote a new Will, one that left the hotel — and all of it’s assets — to the dogs. The dogs of Rescue Ranch.
The dogs of Rescue Ranch. Rescue Ranch was an animal shelter a few miles over on the edge of the city. Urban legend had it that dogs who go to Rescue Ranch never leave Rescue Ranch.
Until, that is, the day the Countess passed on through that celestial bridge to join her Mimosa.
This was a sad day for her hotel staff, and rumor has it that they loved her so much they refused to let her leave her beloved hotel and suitel. She still resides there today, in a sealed glass coffin, laid out in pearls and lace with perfectly coiffed blue hair, up in her penthouse suite.
Upon her departure, the Hotel was cleared of its guests — even the Dukes — and only the most loyal of her staff were kept on to cater to the dogs, who were promptly evacuated from their kenneled headquarters and brought through the red carpet..
According to The Countess’ wishes, the old hotel signage was removed from the marble building and a new sign was hung over the impressive archway of the grand entrance.
“Dog Hotel,” it read.
And, what is to follow in these pages, are the stories of the dogs who were sprung from despair and moved onto living the Life of Riley at Dog Hotel.
“So that they, and we,” The Countess penned in her last line of her Will and Testament, “Can come to know that this is a beautiful world, and bless us to appreciate it every day.”
“HAND ME THAT SECTION, WILL YA?”
Mr. Montague, a Golden Cocker Spaniel with a Hercule Poirot mustache, worked as the hotel consierge at Dog Hotel, and kept things running like the Grand Central Terminal clockwork.
Daily classes and events available to all guests include Dog Yoga, Massage and Spa (which included papaya-avocado facials and whale songs accompanying a good roll in the Mud Baths), and a support group for the romantically challenged.
A floral shop in the lobby offered guests a wide array of potted plants as well as freshly cut flowers to serve as plumbing fixtures.
A month after the dogs moved in, a tremdously large and heavy crate arrived — and not through the service door — but through the front entrance, the marble archway. It was deposited squarely in the center of the lobby.
Mr. Montague sputtered something to the moving men, about deliveries to be done on ’round the back, but then, he read the french letttering on the side of the crate and ran to the service bell and rang it and rang it until everyone came running.
“It’s here!” he cried! “The day has come!!”
And lo, what was uncovered in that crate was an exquisite, gigantic, hand-sculpted marble statue of Mimosa. As commissioned by the staff, in honor of their Mistress, to be put on the front steps of the hotel to honor the cat who led the rescue dogs to their new good fortune.
From the moment the giant feline was revealed from it’s packaging, tummy engulfing the lobby arena, a french bulldog named Cousteau swooned over it and — with a flourish — fell over onto the marble floor, clutching at his heart.
“Mon Dieu, mon amour…” he gasped.
Mr. Montague rushed to him and began several rounds of CPR on the writhing bulldog… But then, he stopped when he realized that this was not cardiac arrest, but rather, Cousteou had fallen madly, deeply, and completley in love with the statue of Mimosa. Instantly.
“Mon amour Mimi,” he purred to her as he sat, every day from then on, next to her on the front steps, writing stacks and stacks of love poems in french.
Well, some dogs don’t necessarily have that kind of elegance and finesse.
Take the Chaplain, for example. A plain soul, and one who prefers it that way. A graying sheepdog with saggy chops, who had dedicated himself to the Collar while imprisoned at Rescue Ranch.
Every day he preached to the other shelter inmates from his wire kennel, saving souls and comforting the worried. He prayed with them and spent every morning and evening delivering a devotional prepared from scripture.
But,.. Truth is, they don’t hand out Bibles to caged animals.
They put newspaper on the bottom of their cages. Daily news, in print and on paper, morning and night to carpet the cage.
So when Chaplain Max read from “scripture,” to all the others dogs in their kennels, it sounded something like this:
“Sudden blizzard forced district wide school closures today. New accumulation of 2-5” expected by morning;
“Twenty-one year old musical prodigy Davari Nevens will play tonight at the Governor’s Mansion;
“20% off all Men’s Work Boot’s at Harvey’s Shoe Cave;
“Escaped convict J.R. Renning returns to court today. While AWOL from his work release program, he allegedly stole his ex-wife’s car and painted an image of her nude on the black SVU before returning it to park in front of the school where she works.”
And so, the result of this daily scripture devotional moved into Dog Hotel along with Chaplain Max. He took up residence in the hotel chapel, and performed regular services for a steady congregation who believed that the Sports Section is the New Testament, and that the Dow Jones Index is one of the Holy Trinity.
Now, all daily metro newspapers contain a minor section that reports on the events that happen at the Civil Courthouse, namely, marriages, death, and divorces.
As it happend one week in November, an early ice storm froze a large portion of the main internet cable line and the pressure from the frozen moisture cracked it in 3 places essential to the County Courthouse.
Work crews got on this right away, but it took them a week to repair it, and for that week while that internet line was down, the county courthouse restricted computer work to the daily vitals. Only. Headline news and sports, and a bit of celebrity hoo-ha, but not marriage, divorce and death notifications.
So there was a pile up on these notifications. Waiting for full internet cable lines to be restored.
The day the lines were clear for all this stockpiled information to go through the net to the news paper office for print, it took up an entire news page to list them all.
It’s an amzing feat for the County to divorce this many persons in one week. The Department of Motor Vehicles should be as well-oiled.
The day of full-coverage restoration happened to be the day Chaplain Max performed the wedding ceremony for Patty and Duke, a pair of poodles staying at the hotel in separate rooms.
Having had a long engagement, they were deeply committed and anxious to get on with the business of marriage.
Chaplain Max waited at the alter of the hotel chapel for the bride and groom to meet each other through gobs of decorations, and gaze into each other’s eyes. Music played, and then the music stopped on cue, as Chaplain Max began the ceremony.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here on this most happy occassion — which, as a dog of the collar, I feel should be celebrated with scripture to bless this union and the holiness of the vows this couple is about to take.
“From the Book of Section E, Page 5, beginning Column 1, we read, ‘Carrus v. Carrus, divorced November 10. Sorenson v. Sorenson, divorced November 10. Wilcox v. Wilcox, divorced November 10. Harding v. Harding, divorced November 10….”
And he went on. And on.
And by the time Chaplain Max got to the divorces made final on November 12, the couple had stopped holding paws. They had edged away from each other.
And by the time the divorce roster for November 15 rolled around, the couple had exited the side doors of the chapel — in separate directions.
However… the food service was still available to all the wedding guests: A refreshment spread of Meatloaf Cake, gravy pufffs, bottles of micro-brewed beef broth, and mini cheese-chicken quiche.
Mr. Monatague noted in his log book that the bride and groom requested their original, separate rooms. He stayed up late to see each wedding guest returned to their sanctuaries from the reception chapel in one piece. There would be no broth-drinking and alley – howling on his watch.
And so, this is life at the Dog Hotel, because, as The Countess said, “This is a beautiful world and we are all blessed to appreciate it every day.
Up next: “The Gang of Four, and, What To Do With The Leftovers.”
copyright2012heididhansen, text and illustration, all rights reserved, reproduction prohibited
(THIS IS AN ADD-ON, 1/19/2014, for COlumbian and also Post From The Perch)
September, 2013. It’s not that long ago. Just four months back. Perhaps the sling-shot between the eyes of the holidays, or the recent jail-bait traffic in Vancouver has jilted the memory. But it was in this last September, coming off a pristine summer. In our first real wind and rain storm — that this changed our life. That this drifting puff of snowy – purry fur in dancer’s legs crossed our tiney, smudgey apartment doorstep.
And I was not my idea.
Can’t take the credit on this one. Nope…
She was, and still — is a cat. Named Storm, because my stalwart service dog rescued her in that first autumn storm four months ago.
Back up. My service dog, Monty, is a great helper-worker dog and does his suty and fulfills his training to a T. But every hero has clay feet. Monty Dog has never been able to finish a course in recovery from his addiction to chasing cats. He chases cats.
Except this cat.
An orb of fluffy white, blithe, a ballet princess who had been abandonned to live in the apartment yard smoke shack.
Excuses on this were heard at nauseum…yada yada. Why would you do that– what were you thinking — ok.. Yeah.. But Monty cut through the chase (so to speak) and got tot he heart of the matter, a solution. Here’s the tail —
Smoke shacks aren’t meant for pets to survive winter — even our mild ones here in Vancouver. Perils are out there in the dead of night, ones that we as humans don’t always think of until we hear a tragic tail on the news.
OK. Back up … In September, my Monty dog pulled on his leash on a walk one day — over to the smoke shack. The bulldozer-pull on his lead told me there was a cat somewhere there. And there was. Burrowed in the bark chips, angleic white, with yellow winking eyes, four dainty paws and an outburst of a tail.
And instead of chasing the white fluffy snowflake cat who was curled in a dug-out in the bark chips, Monty just stood next to her. Placed himself solidly, without a flicker of a chase in his mind’s eye. Didn’t move. Just sat. And refused to leave her.
And really, didn’t move. Not to chase her, and not to go home.
He wouldn’t leave.
This, — this? Is my headed-for-the-bail-bondsman unrepentant cat-chaser service dog??
(Yes, even service dogs have issues..)
In my slow mind, it didn’t occur to me — at first — that this was a cat who needed help. I just chalked it up to some fad thing, a flight of fancy — in Monty’s mind. Maybe it was the autumn moon or weather change.
But he chased — or tried to — all the other cats in town. He sought this cat out, and stood stoic and all muscle like a serviceman at the Tomb of The Unkown Soldier.
And Monty would not budge from his post. Every day, he dragged me there. Repeat and repeat.
For three days, on all walks, short or long. Hard pull on leash — the determined kind — to that same smoke shack, to stand guard by the poofy white princess, huddled in the dug – out bark chips.
It was still summer weather, so it didn’t occur to me at first. But I did start to understand Monty was a very different dog.
She was given bowls of food, and had the company of smokers in that shack.
But towards the end off those three days of Monty’s mysterious Liason – On -Demand — the weather changed 360 from summer to harsh wind, pelting rain, and a crash in temperature. Outdoors was no longer late barbeques and romping on play equipment, but deep dark with crashing wind – noise, clanging tree limbs all night long, with sideways rain pummeling the windows and filling up the sidewalks with brown water, — and that sudden cold seeping in through the coat I dug out of last year’s closet.
And the next morning, afternoon, evening — Monty pushed his unwavering nose through the stormy wet, gray, bleak moodiness of our Northwest’s Virgin Autumn Dance — and took — dragged — me back to that smokeshack.
This time I did not question him. I waited with him by her, in her cloud of white — and scooped her up and held her and sat down in the stenchy nauseated shack and asked Monty and God what to do.
In a few minutes a smoker came out — ambling to the shack, puffing up.. And because I do not smoke and feel out of place in that shack, I made so much merry comment about my dog who would not leave this cat.
Well, it was his cat. And he was not ashamed at all to tell me he had thrown her out because she did not like the new — and third dog — he had brought home. He had it is mind that she would “make the smoke shack her home for the winter — the wind can’t get in the boards–right? And I put food out — right??”
Then he confessed he was hoping someone would take her
It didn’t take so long for me to get Monty back to my apartment. Ask him if he would share his home with new kitty from the smoke shack — (he bounded and pranced and whimpered at the mention of this cat) — and for me to get my softest bathrobe to go back out there, get her, wrap her, and take her into our family.
Monty named her Storm, because that is where he rescued her.
Storm has a life, a good life, although she still yowls to get back outside — and — I am listening intently — to all her former lives. Helping her know that sofa cushions and warmed grill meats and medicines and music and a good big brother named Monty might challenge the allure of outdoor winter weather.
For the first three days in our new family, Storm curled up in my bathrobe and purred by my pillow, and Monty — unrepentant, cat-chasing, feline depandancy dog — licked her ears, stood guard, and doted like a mother hen.
And he still does.
And we are writing her stories of all her past adventures — apparently, Storm has travelled on Viking ships and served at peril in the French Resistance….Trying to keep notes.
She is well here, , safe, happy and demands to be wrapped in a blanket and sat on the porch to look at the full moon.
Thank you Monty Muse, and all others who support animal rescue/adoption.
We are a family.
Heidi and Monty and Storm, Vancouver, WA