Archive | November 21, 2015

My Doggy Dog: 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 22

the first snowfall of 2015

the first snowfall of 2015

Day 22: I am grateful for my dog.

I rescued my dog from an animal shelter twelve years ago. He was very ill as a puppy, having been fed rat poison, and abandoned in a shopping mall parking lot. He was hemophiliac and needed much medical attention, including eye surgery for glaucoma, which left him one-eyed. When he was small, he was very afraid of traffic; you couldn’t bring him anywhere near a roadway. He overcame his fear in time, and now is very well adjusted and unafraid. He has such a serene nature, we often refer to him as our “Buddha dog.”

Most people love their dogs. Many would say that they have the best dog in the world. The truth is that I love my dog, and I really do have the best dog in the world.

Our dog doesn’t bark. He loves people and people love him. Of all the ways I have been lucky, I have been luckiest when it comes to rescuing the best dog. The shelter said he is a Swiss Bernese Mountain Mix, and that he was abandoned because he wasn’t a full breed. Although I do not know for certain, I think his mix is what makes him perfect. Some people say he looks like a Border Collie. We say, whatever he is, he is forever our sweet Romeo.

I love my dog, and I am so grateful for him every single day!


Hanging out, just enjoying the day with one of the neighborhood kids.


kids and dogs

Everyone loves to visit Romeo. He is popular.


Romeo on a walk...dogs and kids.

Taking Romeo on a walk means children running over, asking if they can pet him.



More children loving on Romeo.

dog, baby

Romeo is very gentle, and babies are completely safe petting him.


Romeo running into his friend Daisy on their walks.


Romeo lost an eye to glaucoma, just weeks after I rescued him. His eye swelled to the size of a softball, and had to be surgically removed.


I love to watch Romeo look and look and look. He does this for hours.


Romeo smiles all the time, even as he pants from a brisk autumn walk.


© debra valentino,, all rights reserved

original photos; may only be shared with credit

Dreams: 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 21

Anne Bronte

“I love the silent hour of night, / For blissful dreams may then arise, / Revealing to my charmed sight / What may not bless my waking eyes.” — Anne Bronte

Day 21:  I am grateful for dreams.

I am grateful for dreams, both varieties–the kind while we sleep and those that look forward with hope and planning and desire. Dreams while we sleep can be so funny and quirky, so entertaining…and occasionally illuminating. Dreams tell us we are alive, even as we sleep. I imagine that dying is something like dreaming while sleeping…that the images float by, have meaning, engage us while we do not speak nor move. In a way, dreaming is only thinking…and our thinking, in itself, is one of life’s richest, most powerful gifts.

I love the wackiness of dreams, and am grateful for those I can remember when I awaken. Last night I dreamed a lot about my son, who in my dream was being his present adult self. Usually when I dream of my son, he is a baby again. Once I dreamed that I was driving the mountains in California with my boy in the car. We came to a cliff, and were about to go over! In my dream, I made our car fly so that we landed safely across the precipice, on the next mountain road, continuing our journey. My son and I were safe! This is an example, I believe, of lucid dreaming…where we are aware we are dreaming, but we impose life- like strategies to change the outcome of the dream. In this case, a nightmare became a good dream. I was able to solve a problem–falling off a cliff in an automobile–and save our “lives.” I always remember the relief of that dream…the love and protection I felt for my small child, who in the dream was only three years old.

W.B. Yeats

“But I being poor, have only my dreams; / I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.” — W.B. Yeats

Last night I dreamed a really wild dream.

Last night I dreamed a really wild dream. My friend came to visit me with her “new boyfriend.” This was very odd, because my friend has enjoyed a long, loving marriage with a good husband. They have many grandchildren all to whom they are very devoted. Yet in this dream, my friend was happy with her new (and youngish!) boyfriend. They came to my office at the university, where I haven’t worked since retiring from teaching. They were sitting across the desk from me chatting, when I noticed the youngish boyfriend awkwardly observing my back end, which happened to be bare! YIKES! Dreams are embarrassing!

I know what happened. I was mixing reality with my dream, as in my sleep I had kicked off my flannel pajamas, which had become too hot. I excused myself, saying,”Oh, I’m sorry, I do have some pants here,”(which instantly appeared as I glanced sideward). “If you will just give me a moment and look away, I will put them on.” As I struggled to put on my jeans–which were of course too tight from just being laundered, I woke to my embarrassment…

Now you can read all sorts of things into this dream, but for me it is just funny–the friend with a new, younger man, me back at my job…and pantless, trying to struggle to get some old jeans on: too funny, and so dream-like!

Anais Nin

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” — Anais Nin

When I was recovering from head injury, I did not dream much, because I rarely slept. It seemed I was in a state of non-sleep for hours on top of days on top of weeks on top of months. It is confirmed that head injury causes sleep disturbances. When I had the first dream I could recall having during my convalescence, it was such a gift to experience: “I dreamed! I dreamed! I had a dream!” It felt like being reborn. You do not realize how much you miss dreams until they cease to happen.

I love my dream life. Sometimes I create whole stories or poems or even songs. In my dreams I can do some things well that I cannot do in life, like sing! That is both a real dream and a sleep dream. I have always wished I could sing well. In dreams, I solve problems and sometimes find answers to life’s mysteries. I don’t know what we would be without the dimension our dreams bring.

Before I was injured, my dream was to be the healthiest I could possibly be in mind, body, soul and spirit. This for me, was the key to happiness. I worked hard to develop all these areas of my life. I loved the feeling of good health more than anything I could imagine. Then my health was taken, completely and unabashedly. I had to live with dreams dashed, crushed, taken and forsaken. But I did not give up the fight to live or to regain what I lost. That could not happen–I was just hurt, badly hurt, fighting for life, but not dead. Dreams saved me. Dreams are great and powerful things.

Langston Hughes, American poet

“Hold fast to dreams, / For if dreams die / Life is a broken-winged bird / That cannot fly.” — Langston Hughes

As I was writing this, a real dream happened–my niece got engaged to be married. My Button, the sweet little girl I held who was born the same month and year as my own daughter. I am so happy for her…and because she LOVES her dog, happy too that the occasion was also marked with a new puppy.  Talk about dreams coming true! A real “dream within a dream,” as without earlier knowledge of the proposal, dreams happen to be my gratitude topic today…

My niece’s boyfriend proposed this morning!

A new puppy sealed the proposal.

A new puppy sealed the proposal.

As they say today, he put a ring on it.

So sweet.


From the bard himself, through Prospero in THE TEMPEST, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”


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©debra valentino,, all rights reserved