Two years ago yesterday:
And from January, 2011:
(I had to soak her in a tub of warm water to melt the snow.)
Two years ago yesterday:
And from January, 2011:
(I had to soak her in a tub of warm water to melt the snow.)
As was the way with most things we did together, Lexi loved training and running Agility courses. No matter where we were, if she saw agility obstacles, she would go and run them. When we were learning the weave poles, the instructor told us to lead our dogs through the first pole, then to let them run straight along the side to get used to the poles. Lexi, being the precocious pup that she was, did a perfect weave first time out (with no previous training).
When we were practicing, she was very patient with me (thank you, Lexi) when I would get confused about which obstacle was next. She would simply go to her favorite – the V ramp – and run it over and over until I got my bearings.
Today, while going through a box of Valentine decorations we will use for our Dance Class Valentine Party, I came across a forgotten memory. These are our certificates of completion for Agility 1: Foundation; Agility 2: Obstacles; and Agility 3: Sequences.
Toward the end of the Sequences Course, our turn had come at the starting line. The instructor, with timer in hand, asked if we were ready. Looking down, I said, “Are you ready, Lexi?” In answer, Lexi shot toward the first obstacle, with me a split second behind her. I faintly heard the instructor call, “I guess she was ready!” I think, if Lexi hadn’t been totally focused on her task, her reply would have been, “I was born ready.”
from June 30, 2005 originally posted on Dogster when Lexi was 2 years old.
Today I swam eleven laps around my pontoon boat – a personal best – perhaps because no one was watching when I wanted back in after the fourth lap. When we were done at the lake we went to Dairy Queen, a place that has the most wonderful treats. Brrr! The ice cream made me very cold and I started to shake uncontrollably. I knew Mom would take my ice cream away if she saw me shivering so I gobbled my pup cup of vanilla ice cream (my favorite flavor). It was worth it! To warm me up, Mom had to sit in the hot car with me until the shakes went away. I’ll make up for it tonight by puking on Mom’s bed. Won’t she be surprised?!
I believe that for most of us, our lives are like a novel that can be broken down into chapters. A new love can produce a new chapter: romance, marriage, the birth or adoption of a child or of a pet. I clearly remember the Saturday in June of 2003 when that new chapter began for me – the day I fell in love with Lexi. While her 4 littermates were sleeping, Lexi was trying to bite the cool air coming out of the floor vent in her breeder’s home. Two weeks later, on the Fourth of July, I made the three hour trip back to pick up my spirited, eight-week-old puppy. Thus began a glorious new chapter of love in my life. My Angel Lexi, forever my heart dog.
I promised to do Memory Mondays after Lexi left for the rainbow bridge. Even though I have been following your blogs and getting smiles from them, it has been too painful to post anything, other than helping Piper from time to time. Every time I think I am beginning to heal, the wound rips wide open again. My precious husband is grieving much more quietly, but still grieving nonetheless. He has lost so much weight that his pants bag and try to slide off, and he is pulling out the clothes that fit him several years ago. We miss our little girl terribly. The house feels so empty with just Jeff and me here. Everyone else has moved on, one way or another.
It helps that it is October, with Jeff working Rocktoberfest every weekend and me accompanying him every Saturday. Even there, though, there are so many memories, as Lexi always went with us.
Last week our eight year wedding anniversary came and went, with neither of us feeling like celebrating.
So today I am determined to tell a story I promised one of Lexi’s wonderful blogging friends not long ago. It is the story of how Lexi helped me get my job at St. Luke, where she was so loved, even to the point of a memorial service after her passing. So here goes.
In the spring of 2015, the Ochs Center – Lexi and my Tuesday and Thursday job – closed up their offices. Lexi loved going there and it was quite difficult to leave that last day.
The board president told me about her church needing a part-time office administrator and said she would recommend me for the position. Happily, I got the call and scheduled an interview. The next Wednesday we celebrated Lexi’s 12th birthday at St. Timothy’s, where I worked the other three days of the week, and where Lexi usually joined me on Wednesdays and Fridays. I brought cookies and people came by my office to wish Lexi a happy birthday and to eat a cookie. That afternoon it suddenly dawned on me that my interview at St. Luke was immediately after work that day. In looking forward to celebrating Lexi’s birthday, I had completely forgotten, and it would take me an extra hour to take her home and drive back into town. I decided I would call to see if I could bring Lexi with me to the interview. Bold move, but I was desperate. As a contingency plan, I called Jeff, who said he would meet me at the foot of Signal Mountain to take the schnauzer if they said no. I made the call, explained the situation and made my request. Unbeknownst to me, I was speaking with a volunteer. He said, “Well, we don’t usually encourage dogs at the Sunday service, but I reckon it would be ok to bring her with you to your interview.” So I did.
It was certainly providence that the three ladies who interviewed me were – and still are – dog lovers. Lexi was on her best behavior as she sniffed around the room and under the table, then, not finding any food, sat quietly beside me. The interviewers were all impressed with my resume, but I think even more impressed with Lexi. After a rather brief interview, I was offered the position with the caveat that Lexi would also come work with me. We started work the next week. She always believed she was the reason I got the job, and I won’t be the one to argue with that.
Some call this extremely hot August weather the “dog days of summer.” If that’s right, then we have been in the dog days all spring and summer. In these 90+ (F) degree days, sometimes it helps to reminisce about the cooler times. Here in Chattanooga, we hardly ever get snow, but every once in a while…
Can you feel the cool coming on, my friends?
This month for Memory Monday I thought I would mix it up with a picture collage. Isn’t that why we take pictures, anyhow, to remember? This one contains never before posted pictures of my first time as Toto in 2006. You can click on the collage to make it bigger and easier to see.
The top left picture is, of course, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion. The Tin Man got mad at me once because I got away from Mom during his big scene, his solo performance, and danced back and forth across the stage with him. The audience was laughing when it wasn’t supposed to be funny. He may have forgiven me by now. I never had much interaction with the Scarecrow. A man made out of straw is liable to flop onto you at any time, so it is prudent to stay your distance. The Lion was my buddy. He carried me a lot, especially when things got a bit scary, like in the Wicked Witch’s castle. He didn’t even get mad the time I gently reached over and grabbed his nose between my teeth while I was in his arms on stage. It was just an affectionate nip, which, as a fellow animal, he seemed to understand.
In the top middle picture, that’s me in Dorothy’s arms, sandwiched between the two witches. I was fascinated by the wicked witch. She was scary mean when we were on stage, but so nice to me at other times. However, I managed to upset her once too. *sigh* She was sneaking across the back of the stage, supposedly unseen by Dorothy and company who were at the front of the stage. I ran off from Dorothy (which Toto was always doing in the movie) and started following and barking at her. She started waving her arm wildly at me to get away, which, again, got the audience laughing. I felt it was such a success that I included that in my performance every night. She never seemed to get used to it. *sigh*
The bottom left picture is of me and the costume person. I liked her because she never tried to put costumes on me. She said I was perfect the way I was. *big smile* Finally, the bottom middle picture is my brother Andrew, so proud of me after one of the performances!
This is Lexi Toto with lots of great memories!
Before I tell you about my final gig as Toto, I remembered that I wanted to show you something from the first show. The Theatre Centre had these cool buttons made. That’s ME!
Now, I am back to give you what you crave: details of my final appearance in a production of the Wizard of Oz.
It was spring of 2014. I was eleven years old, limber, sharp of mind, and jonesing to get back on stage. My first Dorothy had been one of the managers at Rock City ever since I knew her. Every year she would hire Dad to teach Irish folk dance in March at Shamrock City and polka at Octoberfest. She
deserted us left after having her second baby and Rock City hired a new person, Jonathan. During the Shamrock City gig in 2014 Dad heard Jonathan talking about bringing WOZ back to the Colonnade. Dad came home and told Mom she needed to go with him the next weekend and bring me and some of my calling cards. Of course we went, and the next thing we knew we were being asked to submit my bio for the play. It’s pretty impressive, so I know you will want to read it, too. Lexi’s Bio.
Even though it had been a couple of years since my last performance, I was still active in Freestyle. That kept me sharp and responsive to movements. I still did a bit of preparation for my part, which you can read about in a previous post. There were lots of rehearsals, too. I knew what to do, so I tried to help everyone else so we could just get on with opening the play. Here are some pictures from rehearsal:
Always listen closely when the director gives directions.
Finally, rehearsals were over. Every night for a week we didn’t get home and in bed until eleven o’clock. Mom and I were exhausted. We were barely getting to work the next day. And there was too much to do for us to sleep at work. Our schedule was get up, eat breakfast (me), go to work, eat lunch (Mom), starve the schnauzer, go to the theater, rehearse and get treats (me), go home, get a treat (me) and go to bed. Over and over again. I lost a whole pound.
The play opened in September of 2014. I loved being on the stage again. It was on Mommy’s birthday that I posted my thoughts about it, which you can read here. Of course, I had a different Dorothy again. Here is a picture of us on stage. I know this is while we are in Oz because her dress is blue. In Kansas, everything is black and white. Isn’t it funny that I am still black and white in Oz, BOL!
I look at the picture now and am embarassed about my weight back then. No wonder she grunted every time she picked me up! What an extra 5 pounds can do to a little schnauzer!
On opening night, those munchkins kept getting in my way. They started dancing as I was entering from stage right and almost danced me right off the front of the stage. Now that would have been an opening night to remember! It shook me up. I wasn’t myself the rest of the night. I hear people say that, and I think it is funny. Who are they if they aren’t themselves? Of course, in my case, I was Toto. BOL. The next night Mom adjusted my entrance to be from stage left. It worked much better.
I performed every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, plus a matinee on Saturdays. I’ll tell you, by the time Saturday night came around I was almost too tired to walk onto the stage. I know my acting Saturday evenings suffered from it. At first Mom would take me out shopping – like to Lowe’s Hardware or the pet store – after the matinee, just to kill time. We live an hour away, so it was too far to go home. When she realized how tired I was she let me sleep in my kennel in the wings, just off the stage. That helped, but I was still ready to go home. By the end of the second week I was posting about that.
One night my Dad came and watched me perform. I didn’t realize he was there until I saw him in the lobby at the meet and greet. He held me while everyone pet me and asked if I was his dog. He had the honor of saying yes. I was really tired from my performance so I laid quietly in his arms. However, when he put me down, I tried to scamper down the hall, where I could smell the Mexican food from some other event. I am never too tired for food. After that, either Mom or Dad held me until it was time to go home. Drat, foiled again.
The last day of the play was a Sunday. Before the curtain opened on the evening performance Mommy said she had something very important to tell me, and to listen closely. She said it was not only the last performance of this production, but probably my last performance as Toto. She said to do my very best; push away being tired and give them a show they will never forget. So I did. I acted my little heart out. I think it was my best performance ever. I took my final bows with Dorothy and the cast and walked to the door. I was too sad to say goodbye to anyone. At least I have my memories.
When all the world is a hopeless jumble, And the raindrops tumble all around, Heaven opens a magic lane. When all the clouds darken up the skyway, There’s a rainbow highway to be found, leading from your window pane. To a place behind the sun, Just a step beyond the rain. —- Somewhere over the rainbow…*
*The opening lines from the song “Over the Rainbow.”
Let’s see, where was I in recollecting my first experiences as Toto. Ah, yes, we had just met my now Auntie Jen.
In theater, there is something called a green room. It is where the cast can sit and rest between scenes, but most especially between the first and second act. I usually showed up about 15 minutes before the show started since I didn’t need makeup or wardrobe. It would be just in time to warm up my voice with everyone, as I previously posted. Besides, it was fun to see the stage manager sigh with relief every time I
walked tore through the back stage door. One evening as I ran toward the warm-up room I smelled, then saw, someone walk in with baked goods and place them in the green room. During the entire play I couldn’t stop thinking about that. Now let me mention that as unlikely as it may seem, there are a few scenes that I am simply not supposed to be in, such as when Uncle Henry and Auntie Em can’t find me or My Dorothy after the tornado. It was during one such scene that I could no longer control my urge to eat those baked goods. Unfortunately, they were on the far side of the stage. Sure, I could have taken the long way around behind the back curtain. Bwahahaha! Who are we kidding? Even I know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that line took me straight across the stage. Like a good quarterback (my peeps brother Andrew watches a lot of football so I understand a bit of it), I made it through the first line of defense as I exited the stage, intent on my goal. The second line of defense closed in on me just before I could round the corner and devour what was calling me to it like a siren song. So I didn’t get my baked goods and Auntie Em was mad at me. 😦 Mom wasn’t very happy with me either, but gave me points for speed and determination. Points? She could have just given me baked goods.
In June I posted some Memory Mondays about my time as Toto. If you missed them, you can read them here. I was going to tell you all about winning my Annie Award, but that is included in the June post, too. I guess Mommy’s name is also on the award because she was my stage director.
Mom actually made a schedule of when I was supposed to be on stage with cues and stage sides to enter and exit. If you are interested, you can see it here.
2nd Production of the Wizard of Oz (WOZ):
Early in 2010 I got called to star once again as Toto in a WOZ production at a convention center called the Colonnade in a town called Fort Oglethorpe in North Georgia. I blogged about it at the time, also. Go ahead, click the link, it is safe. I got left out of the playbill, if you can believe that! I mean, who leaves the star out of the program? I wasn’t too happy about it, but Mom was steamed!
This time the director didn’t have a plan for what scenes I could be in or how much I could be on stage. Having had some experience at this, Mom called the shots for me. She let me go on stage a lot more, but not when it would have hurt the story line. She still had my playbook all marked up with when and where I was to enter and exit. Apparently, direction and routine appeal to her as much as they do to me.
I didn’t understand why there were long gaps between each scene as the sets were changed. At one such time I was with Kandis the Dorothy behind the curtain, bored with waiting and peeking out to see what I could see. Suddenly I spotted my Auntie Jen in the audience! I glanced back at Kandis, who was distracted with texting, and made my break. For the first and last time in my career I forgot the stage actor rules and tore down the stairs and into the middle of the audience, leaping right into Auntie Jen’s lap. I was wiggling all over, wagging my tail and even gave her a hug. She was beaming. I could feel the happiness radiating off of her. People in the seats near her were asking if I was her dog. “No,” she replied, “this is my niece.” ❤
We went to the Star Awards ceremony, which was held at the Colonnade. I fully expected to get another award, but those people forgot all about me – again. I made my point by running up on stage while Kandis (Dorothy) was singing Over the Rainbow. Would you believe she had her eyes closed and didn’t even see me! So I trotted backstage, lickity split, where they were setting up the food for after the awards. If I wasn’t going to get an award, I sure was going to get something out of being there. I came back out as she was finishing the song and this time I know she had to have seen me because people were chuckling. When she looked down, I slipped her and went back to the food. She came after me, though, and acted so very glad I was there. We went to the lobby and she wanted me to run with her and play with her, but I just wasn’t into it. I was a bit bummed, no award and all, and I just wanted to get back to the food.
When the play was over, I did a final blog about it.
“Stay tuned” as they say, “for my final Oz blog the first Monday is January!” Great story! Great pictures! It is all about me!”
I (still) am LexiToto.
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