Monday, April 14, 2014

Red Dog

The only time I am truly alone at night is when I am in a hotel, staying somewhere out of town.  It is true that most nights I am alone, as far as not being with people, but at home I always have my dogs staying in the house with me.  Buddy usually sleeps in my bedroom, on his pad at the foot of my bed.  Nightingale moves around the house, guarding, but she is always inside with me and often sleeps on her pad in my closet.

Having problems sleeping is common for me but its worse when I am in a hotel room, totally alone.  I don't really toss and tun, laying in bed not sleeping, but my problem is just finding sleep at all.  If I don't go to sleep right away I will turn the light on and read something or get on the internet on my phone.  The nights that are the hardest are when I keep waking up, shortly after falling asleep, with a feeling of dread or (at worst but rarely these days) panic.

There was such a night not long ago.  I'd stayed up very late, until I was physically exhausted, so when my hit hit the pillow I went right to sleep.  Still, my mind fought sleep and I woke up every few minutes and had to get up and move around before going back to bed and trying again.  I couldn't even get a good dream going.

Finally I relaxed and had just settled into a pleasant dream of home and my dogs when I woke up again and had to cut the light on.  What I saw there on the foot of my bed made me sit up and take pause to remember what I had been doing before going to sleep.  Then it moved, and I froze in fear.  It then turned its little head, looked up at me and said, "Hey Tammy!"

Physically I was frozen but mentally I was freaking out.  Why is this long, red, stuffed dog on my bed and how in the Hell is it talking to me?  Then it dawned on me.  I'm dreaming.  Yes, that's it.  That's the ticket.  This is one of those lucid dreams where I get to control everything.  So I leaned forward to pick up the cuddly toy but it eluded me, jumped off and ran under the bed.  That was all, I thought, so I went into the bathroom and splashed some cold water on my face to wake up.

After some cold water and a few palm slaps to the face I was convinced that I was awake.  What an odd little dream that had been.  Still feeling really tired, I walked back into the room and got back in bed.  I was about to cut the light off when I felt something nudge my feet through the covers and when I looked down I saw that little stuffed dog again, moving around.  A cold chill ran up my spine and I began shaking a little bit.  Frozen still, I just looked at the little animal when a strange feeling came over me.  I remembered something.

"Tammy, how have you been?" the thing asked as it nestled against my leg.  "You do remember me don't you?"

I was staring at what appeared to be a stuffed Dachshund, about a foot long.  It's face was lit up like an innocent, loving, puppy....animated.   I knew I had seen this toy before, though I couldn't place it.  My dream was strange but I was going to play along with it, although I still had an odd feeling that somehow this was not a dream at all.

"Red Dog"  The words came out of my mouth before I fully comprehend the memory that had just come over me.  "I Do remember you!"

"Girl, you better remember me, even if its been a long, long time.  We used to have the most fun together!  I watched you grow up, and then.." 

"And then what?" I asked.  "I remember playing with you all the time.  I carried you around everywhere!  I cried so much when they tried to take you away for awhile that they let me hold you all the time.  What happened to you?  I haven't seen you since, since I was a little kid.  Mama didn't hang onto you like she did my other toys.  Did I break you?  What happened?  You look perfect now, just like the first time I saw you."

"Ahh kid, well you ain't a kid no more.  I'm a toy you know, a baby's toy.  Youse guys couldn't keep me forever." 

Among all the other thoughts and feelings dancing around in my mind, I was trying to put a finger on the accent this thing was speaking in.  It definitely had a northern accent, like maybe New Jersey or Long Island.  To me, this "Red Dog" sounded like Fran Dresher from the television show The Nanny.  Very nasal.

"I mean, you remembered my name right?  Red Dog.  That's what your mutha named me anyway.  You couldn't even talk when they brought me to you.  Well, at least you couldn't talk to them.  You and me, we were always talkin'.  Don't you remember now" 

The "dog" was wagging it's tail now and obviously smiling at me.  "How can I remember you if I was a baby" I said.  "Remember you?  Yeah I sort of remember you but I don't remember getting you.  It's like you, you were always there."

"This is true" the dog muttered, making cute faces at me.  "I Was always there and I've always been here with you., you wouldn't understand."

"What do you mean you were always there and you've always been with me?  I got you for Christmas or something didn't I?  And when I got older my parents probably gave you to some other little kid or gave me a new, better toy to play with."  A feeling of ease had settled over me and I was smiling as we went back and forth.  Red Dog came up closer to me and laid dawn.  I didn't feel sleepy anymore and was not aware of the time.

"You were just a few months old when your dad brought me to you" the animal said, tilting its head to the side as it talked.  "You were in a hotel, just like this one.  You know, it was some kind of business trip for your fatha." 

"I don't remember any of that" I remarked.  " I don't even know how I remember you at all.  I was just a baby when I got you, but yet right now I am having memories of being a baby,"  I shrugged.  "I know I had you when I was walking and talking, I do remember that.  I think I remember trying to take you to school?"

"Tammy, that was kindergarten.  You had to go without me.  And when you came home I was gone.  Well, what you see now was gone.  I've really been here all along.  I could never leave you, kid."  The soft, toy dog was now laying in my lap as I sat up in the bed.  I was rubbing its back as more and more memories came flushing into my brain, out of nowhere. 

"I'm from New Yoark Tammy.  Manhattan.  You're dad picked me up when he was on that business trip, to the City"  the dog continued.  "Youse guys were over in Jersey at that hotel, waiting.  You were like 4 months old."

"Wait a minute!  I can't remember all of that.  But somehow, I do remember all of that.  And more, now.  How can I remember this stuff I did when I was a baby?  And how can I be talking to a stuffed dog?  And how in the heck did you get here?"  Now I had stopped rubbing the little stuffed dog and just sort of stared at it, as the disbelief started sinking in.  " I must be dreaming.."

Red Dog sat up, cocked her head again and looked straight at me.  "No, Tammy, this is no dream and you know it.  Yeah they took me away, but the fact is I had to go anyway.  We had such awesome times!  We communicated so well, all the time, and they were none the wiser.  Then they taught you to talk to them.  They put you in those clothes.  They were changing you.  I couldn't stand to see what they were doing to you."

"What do you mean what they were doing to me?" I said.  "I was a little kid.  What was I supposed to do?  Nothing  changed between us just because I learned to walk and talk, because I was going off to school or kindergarten, whatever."

"Yes, Tammy, but they were changing you.  They made you be a boy.  Something wasn't right.  Tammy, you were... you are, a girl."

I just sat there in silence.  Memories were really flooding into my head now.  It was like a movie on fast forward.  I saw the days, months and years go back, even long after I lost Red Dog.  Tears started flowing, but I kept my eyes focused on the little stuffed dog on my lap.

"Tammy, like I said, I've always been here, just out of sight.  I've been watching you, waiting for you to come back.  I've thought about talking to you before now, but I've been waiting for just the right moment.  It has to be the perfect moment.  I didn't want to freak you out, you know?"

"What do you mean?  You are freaking me out!  I want to wake up right now, this is stupid."  Agitation and confusion are mild words for what I was feeling as I uttered those words out loud.  Thoughts even came into my mind of why I was speaking out loud to this stuffed animal.  Then came thoughts of could people in the hall or next room hear me?  Would they think I was crazy?  Could they hear this thing talking back to me.

"Tammy.  Tammy.  Tammy!"  The dog was loud now.  It barked at me, before coming up and licking me on my face.  Instinctively I held it in my arms and rolled over on my side.  I scratched it's belly as she looked over to me to speak again.

"I knew you were going to be in for a world of hurt, girlfriend" the little plush puppy proclaimed.  "Your problems were starting already.  There was nothing I could do.  When you started growing up and started going through, you know, those changes.  I had to leave for awhile.  Stopped checking up on you.  For a couple of years even.  I didn't think you were going to make it.  But then I came back.  Then I realized how strong you were, in your heart.  I figured if you could make it through that you could make it through anything.  I knew you'd be back, you're special."

I just looked at her, gently nodding my head.  I felt like I was talking to an old friend now, a very wise old friend at that.  I also felt the sense of communication I get with my "real" dogs, except this communication was being verbalized in English.  This was no toy I was talking to, or at least that was the feeling I was getting.

"Tammy, there's something else.  I infused you with something when you were a little girl.  I gave you the power to communicate with dogs and put a special love in your heart for them.  When you got Spark, when you were 6 years old, I hadn't been gone long.  A part of me came back into a part of him.  And then when he died you had a long dark period.  That was your darkest period.  A little piece of me came back in Jumper, but she was Joan's dog primarily.  Now when Buddy came to you, out of the wild and riddled with ticks, that's when I came back to you for good."

"You, you mean Buddy is you" I asked?

"No, Buddy is Buddy but he has a part of me in him.  He's got a piece of my spirit.  You know, he came to you about the same time the feelings you always had inside were starting to come to the surface.  You started to get serious about putting yourself back together on the outside in the way you felt inside, when Buddy came to you.  That was me bringing you yourself, as a gift."

"Now when Nightingale came to you, out of the woods, that was a different story," Red Dog continued.  "You always felt that with her, didn't you?  She brought your female spirit back, and her arrival signified that change was coming in your life.  Big change!"

"Yes, Red Dog, I always have felt that Night was bringing change with her when she came.  And I used to hold her and tell her to give me her strong, female spirit so that I could change.  You know, sometimes I still do that.  That's one of the things I don't share with many people because they might think I'm crazy, but everything I felt and predicted when she came to me has come true, is coming true."

"Tammy, I've always loved you and when you love your dogs you show your love for me too.  That never went away."  Dogs don't cry, but I swear I saw a tear in red Dog's eyes as she continued on.  "Remember I used to tell you stories?  And you would tell me stories?  You remember what those stories were don't you?"

Yet again on this night/morning I was filled with amazement, taken to another level.  Another chill came over me but this one brought a very good feeling with it, comforting.  Suddenly I knew things, remembered things, about the past and about the future too.  It was like I was remembering the future.  My mind was moving ultra fast and I had a lot more I wanted to say to Red Dog.  What's more, I was filled with a lot more questions.

"Tammy, I have to go now.  Honey, I gotta go.  You know now that I won't leave you but I can't stay right now, not like this," Red Dog whispered, kind of hanging her head.

"Wait a minute, you can't leave now!"  I realized I had yelled that out but did not care if anyone heard me or not.

"Tammy, I will be here for you, with you, inside.  And I'll be back to talk again, I promise.  You will keep moving forward and I want you to keep telling your story.  Love me through your loyal Buddy.  And Nightingale.  She has the power you always believed she has.  Don't be afraid to use it, don't be afraid."  With that she let out a bark and ran across the room towards the door, wagging her tail. 

I got up and chased after her, but I could not find her.  Red Dog was gone.  I felt a great calm come over me that I hadn't felt in...I don't think I had ever felt this way.  It was still dark outside but how could I sleep after this.  I wanted to relive what had just happened in my mind, analyze it and let it all sink in.  But I was so sleepy, so sleepy.  I laid down to think about it and the next thing I knew the sun was beaming in through the window. 

I had slept like a baby for the first time, well, for the first time since I was a baby.  Had I slept all night?  That was it!  I had the most satisfying sleep and the most fascinating dream ever!  I woke up feeling refreshed, my mind still reeling from the most incredible, enlightening dream I ever had.  And I am quite the prolific dreamer. 

It was getting close to check out time, so I got myself ready and started packing up my stuff.  I laid my clothes on the green bedspread as I got ready and when I was putting them on I noticed something.  Some red, fuzzy stuff was on my floral top.  Then I looked on the bed and there was more.  I looked under the bed again and then I stood up and paused for a second.  A little chill came over me but I was filled with an feeling of energy long forgotten but now remembered.  I looked in the mirror and what I saw both startled and amazed me.  On my lips was a smile and in my eyes, the innocent wonder of a child.....

This story is a little bit out of the box for me, but it is an "assignment" given to me by my friend, writer and fellow Blogger Sophie Lynne.  I'm trying to branch out in my writing skills and this post also gave me a chance to tell a little piece of my story from a different perspective.  Special thanks also go out to my Mom who reminded me what my very favorite toy was when I was a kid, and told me where it came from.  None of us remember what happened to Red Dog.....


  1. Cool story Tammy, Well written. I really enjoyed it.

  2. A wonderful story Tammy, it was a jot to read.

  3. A wonderful story! I KNEW you could do it! And as a bonus you learned a bit about yourself

  4. Lovely post, hon.

    My sister had a stuffed dog like that when we were growing up: Brownie. He has special meaning to me as well, for reasons I'll write about someday in my blog. (In a nutshell: Brownie was there on a very dark night in my life. And I've never forgotten him.)

    Thank you again for sharing this, sweetie. :c)