Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Raschal was the Sweetest Dog

When I got married, I got the whole package, instant wife, two boys, a granddaughter, a dog and two cats. This is the story of the dog, Raschal.

My wife Kay and son Mitchell moved into my house in the small town of Headland, Alabama. Raschal was an eight-year-old mix breed at the time and she spent most of her days relaxing on the front porch. She was a very happy dog, loved people and was a pleasure to be with. She was very talkative, never barked, she would make whimpering noises as if she is talking, like a high pitched hmmm, hmmm, hmmmm. Always friendly toward people, she walked up to them with her head down and tail wagging. She had one little problem, thunderstorms. She did not like the thunder and had to be inside, right beside anyone who would listen, telling us it was thundering. If we were not home during a thunderstorm, then the neighbors had a scratch at their door so she could tell them it was thundering.

One day my wife got a call from the local vet that Raschal was in the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. There was a thunderstorm that afternoon and the nearest safety she could find was a block away, in the Piggly Wiggly. To get out of the rain, and away from the thunder, she followed a customer into the store and made a friend in the meat department. My wife called the store and told them to escort her out. They told her they enjoyed her visit and gave her a few scraps of meat. Over the next few days she went back for more treats, the manager who must not have been working the first time Raschal went, called my wife to complain. Kay told them it was their fault for feeding her and to tell Raschal to go home. Raschal stayed close to the door of the Piggly Wiggly and promptly got herself arrested. That afternoon my wife was calling the city offices to find out where Raschal could be when a police car pulled up to our house. I went outside where Officer George opened the back door of his car to let Raschal out. He petted her a little, said she was a great dog, but we needed to keep her away from the Piggly Wiggly for a while. That night I bought a chain and stake to keep her in our front yard.

The next day before work I made sure she was chained properly and that she could reach her food and water in the garage. I came home that afternoon to find her chain tangled with a table and chair we had stored in the garage. A slight problem, but at least she did not go to the Piggly Wiggly. The next day I chained her again before work. My wife got a call that afternoon from the local florist that Raschal was dragging a table and chair down Main Street. After she was rescued from the table and chair she did not go to the Piggly Wiggly again, she must have thought it was too much trouble.

One day Kay was at home when she heard Raschal scratching at the door, making terrible whimpering sounds. Something was wrong. Kay opened the door and Raschal said something like “Hurry, come with me!” She followed Raschal around the corner to a side street to see two dogs tossing a kitten around. Kay yelled at the dogs to no effect. Then she punched the one holding the kitten in its mouth. It dropped the kitten and backed away. Our hero Raschal went over and gently picked up the kitten and brought it back to the house. Kay shooed the bad dogs away. A quick visit to the vet revealed that the kitten would probably be okay, just sore for a few days. That kitten grew up to be a good friend to Raschal. Raschal never had puppies, but she loved cats. She would lick their heads and nibble their necks.

Raschal enjoyed living in Headland. Everyday she would go out around town visiting her friends. The elderly lady who lived by the funeral home would have a biscuit with her in the mornings. We were watching the Christmas parade on a local channel one night when the announcer said “and there’s Raschal!” She was winding her way through the marching band trying to get the attention of Mitchell’s friends from school. She knew when Mitchell came home from school and was always waiting for him. When Mitchell got his car Raschal was always ready to go somewhere with him. She would climb into the car and go for the driver’s seat, although we never let her drive.

One day she did not come home. We called for her, drove around looking for her, even called the pound to see if she had been arrested again. No one had seen her. She was missing for several days. Kay was worried that something bad had happened to her. I knew someone would have called. I told Kay and Mitchell someone probably adopted her because she is such a great dog and she can’t get away from them. I told them to wait for the next thunderstorm, she will drive her new owners crazy. About a week later, the day after a storm, she showed up.

Raschal loved food. Anything we were eating she wanted. I was about to put some ribeye steaks on the grill one night. I sat them down and stepped back inside for the tongs. I came back out Raschal was sitting by the grill, a guilty look in her eyes, one of the steaks was missing. Every time I grilled burgers she knew there was an extra piece of cheese with her name on it. I have seen her devour an entire 9x13 pan of chicken almondine. He stomach was bulging, but that tail was wagging the entire time she was eating. She was so gentle about what she was eating. I have seen other dogs almost take a finger when they take a treat from your hand. Not Raschal, she was so slow and sweet, our granddaughter, Shyanne, could hand feed her anything.

She really started to slow down over the last few years. Gray hair replaced the some of the black. She preferred to be inside napping most of the time. When we first met she could jump into the back of my truck, lately she would have a hard time with a few stairs. Whenever I would come in from work, she was slow to rise, but would always come to lean against my leg. I would pet her, as she would make that whimpering sound telling me she was glad I was home.

A bang on our door woke us last Wednesday night. I thought she must have laid down against our door to sleep. When I got up, she was in the bathroom panting, not wanting to get up. I saw where she had vomited bile. I went to work while Kay took her to the vet. She had to pick Raschal up, she was too weak to walk. She left Raschal there so the vet could run some tests. Raschal could not hold her head up she was so weak. A few hours later the vet called to say it was liver cancer, her enzymes were in the 2000 range and should have been 200. There was nothing he could do for her. We wished we had gotten up to check on her that night.

We went to be with her. We waited in room number 2. The doctor brought her in. She saw us and her tail started wagging. He laid her down on the table and repeated that there is nothing to do for her. We told him we were ready. He stepped out to get the shot. Kay cried as she told Raschal how much we loved her. I rubbed her ears, it always relaxed her. Raschal made her whimpering sound again. I would like to think she was saying she loved us too, thanks for the food and I enjoyed looking out for you all these years. With all of the pain and weakness she was still able to look at us and wag her fluffy tail. The doctor came in and asked if we were ready. He gave her the shot and within a few seconds Raschal let out a sigh and eased her head down on the table.

That night Kay told me the story of a little red headed boy who had a bad first day of first grade. She asked him what would make him feel better. He said maybe another cat. She took him to the pound where a black playful little puppy came up to say hello. Mitchell said, “She’s a little rascal. Can we get her?” They became best friends and everyone who met her loved Raschal.

How to have a successful yard sale

How to have a great yard sale

Having a yard sale or garage sale is a great way clean out unwanted items from your home and make extra money at the same time.

Call your local city government offices to check for ordinances affecting yard sales. Some cities will put a limit on the number of yard sales you can have each year by requiring a permit. This permit is usually free, just a way of tracking yard sale activity. Others may not allow signs to be placed on city property, street signs, power poles, etc.

Check the weather several days in advance of your yard sale. If rain is expected you may want to wait for another Saturday. If you are planning a sale in your garage or carport a mild rain should not be a major factor.

Also at this time, place your ad in the local newspaper. Does your newspaper have a website to list classifieds. A lot of yardsalers check the internet on a Friday night to list the yard sales and map them out. Try Craigslist if it is available for your area.

Do not wait until the last minute to prepare for your yard sale. A yard sale makes for a busy, but rewarding day. Start a few days before the yard sale pulling items and pricing them. Pricing is very important. It makes a yard sale easier for everyone involved. If not you will spend the entire morning quoting the same prices over and over. Customers also like the convenience of not having to ask. Your local dollar store sells small pre-printed pricing stickers or you can use a piece of masking tape. If you have a large number of similar items make a sign just for those, CD’s - $2, Pants - $1, Shirts - $.50.

Go through every room in you house. Clean them out. Ask yourself, “Am I ever going to use this” or “Will I ever wear this”? Get your kids involved. Let them keep the money they make from their sales. A yard sale is a great time for kids to set up a lemonade stand.

A bright and colorful sign with large letters is the best. Fluorescent signs attract a lot of attention. Write your information with large letters, at least 3” tall. The sign should be legible from 30 feet or ten long steps. The address is the main part of your sign. Most people know it is for a yard sale they only need to know where. Arrows are great; just make sure they point the correct way. Signs are very important. If I cannot read a sign as I am driving by, I think these people must not really want me at their yardsale.

Start your signs at a major roadway and work your way back to your house. If there is not a good place to hang your sign, check with a local sign company for inexpensive step stake signs. If you make your own signs to stick in the ground, make sure they have plenty of support to hold them up for visibility. A full piece of poster board stapled to a stake in the center will curl up or fall apart and no one will know where you are.

The day before the yard sale visit your bank to have money for making change. We get $50 of ones, $50 in fives and a roll of quarters. It is best to be prepared, as one of your first customers will probably try to buy a $1 item and hand you a $20 bill. Keep your money on you at all times and never leave it in a cash box.