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Andrea's Story - It's a Dog's Life

Andrea Doria's memoirs, as dictated to Kenneth A. Larson, 2000-2001.
Dedicated to all the people who loved me and took care of me.

Table of Contents

  1. Forward
  2. Chapter One - the First Year (or, One Down, Thirteen to Go)
  3. Chapter Two - the Second Year (or, Two Homes are Better than One)
  4. Chapter Three - the Third Year (or There's Gold in Them Thar Hills)
  5. Chapter Four - the Fourth Year (or Moving Back in with Daddy)
  6. Chapter Five - the Fifth Year (or Daddy's New TV)
  7. Chapter Six - the Sixth Year (or Goodbye Jonesy, Hello Binky)
  8. Chapter Seven - the Seventh Year (or Daddy Goes Back to School and the Earth Moved)
  9. Chapter Eight - the Eighth Year (or Uncle Kyle Moves Out)
  10. Chapter Nine - the Ninth Year (or The Family Grows)
  11. Chapter Ten - the Tenth Year (or Daddy's New Job)
  12. Chapter Eleven - the Eleventh Year (or More Time with Daddy)
  13. Chapter Twelve - the Twelfth Year (or A Slow Year)
  14. Chapter Thirteen - the Thirteenth Year (or The Bad News)
  15. Chapter Fourteen - the Fourteenth Year (or The Fight for My Life)
  16. Chapter Fifteen - the Final Frontier (or Beyond to the Gates of Heaven)


I sit here, poised at the crossroads of two millenniums, looking back on my long life of almost fourteen years. It's time to write my memoirs documenting my exciting life in the suburbs, my trials and tribulations, and all the important people I've met. President U. S. Grant restored his family fortune with his memoirs, maybe I'll make mine. Besides, if President and Mrs. Bush's dog Milly can write a book, so can I, I'm twice as smart and three times as pretty.

Chapter One - the First Year (or, One Down, Thirteen to Go)(1987-1988)

I was born April 21, 1987, on a beautiful spring day in Northridge California. My mother was an Australian Shepard. I don't know who my father was, but the people who took care of my mother think it was the German Shepard down the street. I was very happy with my mother, siblings, and the people taking care of us. When I was about six weeks old, the people we lived with started to give away my siblings. When only one of my sisters and I were left with my mom, a nice man and his brother and his brother's girlfriend came to visit us. They played with my sister and me for a while and then took me with them. I never saw my mother or sister again. The man was very nice and adopted me. For a time, I missed my mother and siblings, but my new family was large and I almost never got lonely. We went to my new home less than a mile away. Except for frequent long visits to my new adopted grandparents, I lived there with my new father for the rest of my life. I never met my real father but my adopted father was wonderful to me and loved me very much.

My father named me Andrea Doria, Andrea after his friend Peter Anderson, Doria because he liked the way the two names sounded together. Besides, the cruse ship by that name was big and beautiful, and that's the way I grew up.

I also had a new adopted sister, Jonesy. Although she was already seven years old, she was smaller than I. She was adopted too, and we all spoke different languages. Jonesy spoke with more of a meow sound. Although she was smaller than I, I learned quickly not to underestimate her. One day I was teasing her and she imbedded a needle sharp claw in my nose. I never forgot that day and when later we adopted more sisters that spoke the same language, I avoided that claw. You could say, I got the point. After that, we got along fine until she died many years later.

We had two pets in the back yard. They were large reddish-brown animals that walked on two legs and had large wide arms. They weren't covered with thin fur like the rest of us, they had large fluffy wide flat fur. They made a very funny noise, sort of "bowaaak". One day when I was in the back yard and getting a little bored, I started examining those strange furs on one of these pets. I pulled one out. She didn't seem to mind and just stood there so I pulled out another. After a while, I had pulled out so many that she had no fur on her back at all and we were surrounded by a big circle of these fluffy brown furs. I also pulled off some of the skin, but she didn't seem to mind that either and just stood there without moving. Finally my father came out and saw us playing. He got real upset and it was one of the few times he punished me. He bought some ointment and put it all over Lucky (that was her name). Eventually, the skin and fur grew back but daddy never left me alone with these pets again. Jonesy was always curious about these pets, but they were bigger than she was, so she didn't get too close.

The day I met my new father, he brought me to my new home and put me in the back yard. Then he left me. I was alone for what seemed like ages. He said it was fifteen minutes, but it seamed like an eternity. Anyway, once he came back, he started digging holes in the back yard. Something I never understood was why he didn't like it when I dug holes. Over the next few weeks, he made a big hole and lots of long holes. Finally, he and his other brother, Kyle, spent a whole day putting this gray sand stuff on the insides of the hole. After the sand got hard, he filled the hole with water. I fell in once and didn't like it much. Then he got these funny orange things and put them in the water. They liked the water and swam all around the water filled hole. It was so much fun growing up with all these things to watch, the ones with the funny fur and the ones in the water.

Digging a hole
Digging a trench
When I first came to live with my new father, he was with me a lot, except he made me sleep outside at night which I didn't like. He did let Jonesy sleep inside. After a while, he started to be gone for a long time during the day, almost every day. He said he "...had to go to work to buy dog and cat food." These times were lonely and boring. I was always excited to see Daddy come home. Sometimes Jonesy got excited too, other times, she couldn't care less.

The first year in anyone's life is difficult. You need to learn who's who, who likes you and who doesn't. Especially important is to learn to go outside to relieve yourself. Actually, I learned this quickly and only had a few accidents, usually when no one would let me go outside. My biggest problem was chewing. Looking back, it might have been better had I not destroyed Daddy's new patio set. And the squirrels chewed as much of the redwood desk as I did and they were never punished. Then there were the holes I dug. Anyway, somehow we survived my first year.

Chapter Two - the Second Year (or, Two Homes are Better than One)(1988-1989)

My second year was less eventful than the first. There was one major change in lifestyle however.

Daddy had a job, I don't think he was happy there, but he was always happy to come home to me and Jonesy. He bought a new car, a station wagon. This was nice because I could stand and turn and move in the back more easily than I could on the back seat of the old car. In the old car, I had to sit or stand on the seat and every time Daddy stopped quickly, I was knocked to the floor and it was hard to get back up. But these aren't the significant lifestyle changes.

One day, Daddy took me to visit my grandparents. Then he and Grandpa and Uncle Kyle got in the new car and were gone for two weeks. Grandma and I took care of each other until they came back. After that, I lived with Grandma and Grandpa most of the time. Daddy was working so much that I was less lonely there. Sometimes, I wouldn't see Daddy for a week or more at a time. He'd pick me up on Friday after work and drop me off Sunday night. He was so busy and Grandma and Grandpa were almost always home and Uncle Kyle was there a lot too. They were able to take good care of me. I spent most of the weekends with Daddy.

Uncle Kyle, who likes to be called Kyle Edward, and I were very close until he moved out a few years later and got his own children. Still we were always close. There were four or five times when I moved back in with Daddy for a long time, but those are other chapters.

Grandma and Grandpa had a big house and a big yard with a hill at one end. I wasn't allowed in most of the house, but except at night, there was almost always someone in the rooms where I was allowed. I did get lonely and scared at night. Sometimes at night, I would sneak into Grandma's and Grandpa's room to see that they were alright then go back to my area. Once in a while, I would sneak into Grandma and Grandpa's room at night and sleep where they couldn't see me. But I would sneak back to where I belonged before they got up in the morning.

My other aunts and uncles and cousins would visit Grandma and Grandpa often as well, so I almost never got lonely, except at night. Sometimes Daddy would stop by and play with me for awhile, but then he would leave and I had to stay - I missed him. I was happy with Grandma and Grandpa and spent almost half my life living with them. So, I had two homes, one with Daddy and one with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Kyle.

When I was about one year old, Daddy's brother Keith and Keith's girlfriend Debbie (these were the ones who were with Daddy the day he adopted me) adopted their own girl, Brea. They adopted a son Dutch, a year or so later. I got along with these cousins most of the time - but not always.

Once I started to live with Grandma and Grandpa, Daddy let me sleep in his room when I spent the night at his house. Eventually, Grandma and Grandpa let me sleep in the house at night too, but not in their room. The reason they changed their minds was that I found a way to sneak out of the back yard at night. They tried everything to keep me in and to this day, I won't tell how I got out. You never know when I might need to use it again. It was fun to go off by myself for a while at night. I'd explore the neighborhood and the wild area a little west of our house. Also, I usually found something to eat. And of course, it was breakfast that always brought me home again about noon. The last time I got out was Fourth of July about three years ago. Eventually, I taught Brea and Dutch how to get under the fence and into the neighbor's yard. The neighbors weren't always glad to see us and Grandpa had to walk around the block to get us.
Bowling 10-3-99.
The lady next door liked me and would talk to me. I liked her and looked forward to her visits. There weren't as many people at Daddy's house, but I still liked being there best.

I taught myself bowling. Daddy says I'm not doing it right, but I have fun - and that's all that really matters.

Daddy often watches television. I never understood TV.
I sometimes see animals but they don't look right and don't smell like real animals. And the people never talk to me or pat me on the head.

Chapter Three - the Third Year (or There's Gold in Them Thar Hills)(1989-1990)

Andrea gold prospectin'
One day, Daddy loaded me into the car and we drove a long way to his friend Al's house. Al had a son named Nero. Nero was like me except a little smaller and no black fur. I don't know why I do this, but I wasn't very nice to Nero and Nero was nice to me. I just can't help it, I like to be Boss. Al and a friend of Al's got in the car with Daddy and me and we drove some more up into the hills and forest. The friend had these funny round white paper things that he set on fire.
The smoke bothered my eyes and Daddy was annoyed by it but was trying to be polite, which is more than can be said for Al's friend. Finally we stopped the car and took a walk in the forest. This was fun. There were all sorts of new things to look at and strange smells and animals. Daddy did worry about all the broken glass. He always worried about broken glass when we walked. I did get wet crossing the streams. Daddy filled a fanny bag with treats and water and tried to make me carry it, but my body just wasn't shaped the same and it kept falling off. We stopped by a stream and the other three started putting sand and water in these shallow black plastic pans and splashed the water and sand out. They spend several hours doing this while I just watched. It all seems silly to fill these pans with sand and water and then slosh it all out again. But they seems to find the experience fun somehow. I was bored most of that time and started digging in the stream bed with my foot. I found one big shiny yellowish rock that was real pretty while I was digging. I was hoping Daddy would bring it home, but he was absorbed looking for gold and I didn't see anything that looked like our gold fish. In the end, they gathered their things and we walked back to the car. Daddy said it was interesting to have tried it once and when we got home, he put the pan in the closet and never used it again.

One day, Al and Nero came over to our house. Nero and I were starting to get along when Al set a plate of food on the floor for me. Then Nero tried to eat it so we got into a fight. Finally Daddy pulled me away and said that if Nero wanted the food so much, that I should be polite and let him have it. Then he gave me my own plate of food. I liked Al too. He was nice to me.

Chapter Four - the Fourth Year (or Moving Back in with Daddy)(1990-1991)

Grandpa had a new lawn seeded in the back yard and I had to move back in with Daddy for awhile when I was three and a half years old. Daddy was still gone during the day (he said he was "working for the mouse," whatever that means), but not as long as the first year. We had more time together. I still had to stay in the back yard while Daddy was at work, but stayed inside when Daddy was home. Being outside is fine sometimes. In fact, I'd rather be outside with other people to keep me company, but not alone.

Earlier that year, Daddy liked a lady and hoped she might be my new mother. I only saw her a few times when she stopped by Grandma's and Grandpa's house with Aunt Karen. She broke Daddy's heart a few months before Grandpa seeded the back yard so I never saw her at Daddy's house or saw them together. After this, Daddy needed me and Jonesy even more than before. Jonesy always lived with Daddy because she didn't get as lonely as I did when he was gone.

Eventually, Daddy got a job that kept him away from home longer and Grandpa's lawn was growing. So, I moved back in with Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of years.

One day, Daddy came to pick me up after work and I spent the night with him. The next day, he took me with him to work. Finally, I realized why he let me stay with Grandma and Grandpa. Work is boring! Still, there were nice people there. I love being with Daddy, but I never wanted to go to work with him again. I did go to work with him one more time many years later. This second time was better.

Chapter Five - the Fifth Year (or Daddy's New TV)(1991-1992)

A little after my fourth birthday, Daddy bought this new TV. It was different from the TV we already had. There was a big box connected to it and there were small boxes with buttons connected to the big box. He got a new desk and this TV almost covered the whole thing. The TV didn't show very interesting pictures and it only made occasional sounds like birds sometime make. I don't think he liked the TV much and was always shouting at it but he sat in front of it for hours. It ignored his screaming as much as Jonesy did. Still, every two years or so, he gets another one. Maybe he keeps hoping to get one that works. He often calls them the Silicone Monsters. He started drawing on the TV by moving the little boxes and pushing the buttons. He spent a lot of time on it the rest of the year, and ever since for that matter. He's using the newest one of these TVs to help me write these memoirs because my feet are too big for the buttons.

Chapter Six - the Sixth Year (or Goodbye Jonesy, Hello Binky)(1992-1993)

Around my birthday, Grandma and Grandpa had part of the patio enclosed with windows and walls. They had a small door added that was just the right size for me. This was nice because they could leave the door between the house and the patio open and I could go through the small door and get outside when I needed to without having to get someone to open the door for me. Getting someone to open the door when I need to go out is often a problem.

I was five years old when Jonesy started to get sick. Our Vet had retired without telling us, so it took a while to find a new vet and for the new vet to figure out what was wrong with Jonesy. By then it was too late to fix her, so one day Daddy took her to the new vet and she stayed there. He said that they helped her to go to sleep and that she would wake up in heaven. I spent those last few days with Grandma and Grandpa because Daddy thought that I would disturb Jonesy as she got sicker. The first night after Jonesy left for heaven, Daddy left me at Grandma and Grandpa's house, then I came home. Daddy was very sad but at least we had each other.

Three weeks later, we adopted a new sister, Binky. She was like Jonesy except smaller and grey and white where Jonesy was black and white. She was friendlier and when she grew up, we got along better. She stayed at Daddy's house all the time, the way Jonesy did. When I am at Grandma's and Grandpa's house, I miss Binky more than I had missed Jonesy and she missed me more too. Binky sometimes sits on her stool in the kitchen or another piece of furniture and swats my back as I walk by. I have so much fur, it doesn't hurt when she does this. Sometimes, she hisses at me, but usually, we get along fine.

Daddy was home a lot that year, so we were together more.

Later this year, Daddy got so busy with work that he couldn't care for those two legged pets in the back yard any more. Over the years, some had died and he got new ones. We got one once who didn't get along well with the other one, so he took it back to the pet shop and got a friendlier one. Anyway, he got so busy that he gave them all to a friend who could take care of them. We still have their house in the back yard so we can get more if Daddy ever has time again.

I don't remember exactly when, but sometime around this time, we started to get a lot of these little animals with big bushy tails. There were so many of them in the back yard. These just came on their own and Daddy didn't like them much. Daddy called them squirrels which I think means "#$%&* pest" They would jump all over the trees and eat all the fruit in the trees before Daddy could pick any. They chewed up as much of the redwood deck as I did. Daddy tried to catch them and take them to the hills, but there were too many. I loved to chase them, but never caught one. Of course, now I am getting too old to chase them and they tease me.

This year, in the early Fall, Daddy made his last house payment and started to send out applications to go back to school. To celebrate, we had a big party in early December. Binky and I had a great time. There were so many people there. We got lots of attention and food. It was the last time the house was clean enough to have a party. Jonesy used to hide when strangers came over, but Binky liked to be in the center of the party. She's not always friendly, but she loves to be around people.

Chapter Seven - the Seventh Year (or Daddy Goes Back to School and the Earth Moved)(1993-1994)

Andrea and Binky
Andrea watching Binky being bad.
Daddy didn't work much my seventh year but in the fall he started to be gone a little while a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day. Since he wasn't gone long, I moved back in with him for about a year and a half. When he was home, he spent hours every day typing into his TV with all the boxes attached (which I learned is called a computer) and scanning pictures from art books. He did big drawings on his new big table and in his
computer, which is what he called teh TV thing. He did all sorts of kraft project like glueing cloth and pictures to cardboard or making models and stuff from cardboard. He was very tired and worked on these things all the time. But we were together even if he didn't have a lot of time to play with me. Binky would play in the bathroom sink and then walk across Daddy's drawings with wet feet which made Daddy mad. Binky was always doing things that made Daddy mad but she loves Daddy too. Daddy has a nick-name for Binky. He says "You cat!" which I think means "monster." He has a nick-name for me too, "You dog!" which I think means "Angel."
Cone head
Cone head, January, 1994
Uncle Kyle washed my hair for Christmas. He got a little shampoo in my eye which really hurt. I couldn't stop trying to rub the shampoo out which Daddy said made it worse. So he took me to the vet and the vet gave him some stuff to put in my eye. The vet also put this awful plastic cone over my head. It was so uncomfortable and I kept running into furniture and doorways. It was so big. Also it got in the way so I couldn't rub my eye. After a week or two, Daddy took the cone thing off.
Daddy was so busy with these drawings and all, that at first, the house got messy. Then he had a few weeks off and got the house clean again. That's when the scariest thing that's ever happened to me happened. Early one morning, I was sleeping by the bedroom door when the whole house started to shake real hard. Everything was falling off the shelves. Noise everywhere. Daddy jumped out of bed and ran to the doorway. As I ran back and forth, he tried to catch me. Finally he got hold of me and tried to make me feel safe. Just then everything stopped moving. It did it again many time the next few days, but never as bad or as long as the first time.

Daddy put me in the back yard which scared me because I wanted to be with him to protect me, but I guess he wanted to clean up the broken glass before I stepped on it. Somehow the big glass door in the bedroom slid open and Binky went outside and laid down in the grass. She figured there were fewer things to fall on her outside. Daddy worried about her getting lost and looked for her and brought her back in the house where he could keep track of her. We had a big plastic box with more of those water loving animals swimming around in it. The water had splashed all over the floor and by the time Daddy cleaned up the glass and found Binky and calmed us both down, the water had ruined the floor. It wasn't a good day but we were all safe.

In his office room, he had all these little plastic boxes with disks inside. The disks made nice noises when put in this machine he had. Anyway, all these boxes and disks were in a big pile on the floor. I was so scared that when Daddy stepped over the pile to start cleaning, I climbed over the pile. Daddy didn't like that and moved me out of the room and closed the door.

When it started getting dark outside, the inside lights still didn't work. Daddy plugged the TV into the car so he could watch the news, then we all took a nap. Suddenly, a few hours later, everything went back on - lights, TV, pumps, fans, all the things you get used to hearing and don't pay attention to normally. So we got up and started cleaning the house again.

It took weeks, but finally Daddy got most everything back where it belonged, but the first few days, some things got knocked over again and again. It must have been a week until we could get water from the sink and were able to turn the heater back on.

The earth has never done that as bad again and I hope it doesn't again.

Chapter Eight - the Eighth Year ( or Uncle Kyle Moves Out)(1994-1995)

This was the year that Uncle Kyle bought his own house and moved out. We had always been close and I missed him, but he came to visit often. Uncle Kyle always called me "puppy" and "my dog" to which Daddy always reminded him that I was Daddy's baby. Anyway, he moved out during the summer. He still came back to visit and we still spent a lot of time together.

Daddy worked most of the summer and I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa until school started again. In the Fall, he was home a lot like before, gone for a few hours once or twice a day and typing and drawing the rest of the time.

Finally around Christmas, Daddy finished school and started working again. So back to Grandma and Grandpa's house for me.

I always liked Christmas. The whole family gathers and there is so much activity and food. Sometimes, they let me into the living room when they take pictures, other times Grandpa says "No exceptions." Sometimes, I get little gifts of bones or pig ears. I liked Christmas. I'm told that there is more to Christmas than gifts and food, but I never understood the other parts.
Christmas Gifts
Christmas Gifts
Daddy worked a lot for the next two years, so I mostly saw him on the weekends.

Chapter Nine - the Ninth Year (or The Family Grows)(1995-1996)

Cinder, 2000.
Usually when Daddy was working, he picked me up on Friday and took me back to Grandma and Grandpa's Sunday night. But one day, when I was eight and a half years old, Daddy picked me up in the middle of the week. He had adopted a new sister for Binky and me and he wanted us to meet and make sure we got along. We didn't fight or anything, but she was afraid of me. Actually, Cinder - that's her name - was always afraid of me and Daddy, and everything else.
She even ran away when Daddy opened a bag of her food. I'm not sure why, but Daddy gave me different food than he did Jonesy, Binky and Cinder and I thought their food tasted good (those time that I snuck some), so I don't know why she ran away when he opened the bag. Anyway, I went back to Grandma and Grandpa's house the next morning and stayed till the next weekend and Cinder was still there. So we were now four.
Cinder looked more like Jonesy and Binky than she did me. The big difference was where the other two were black and Gray, respectively, Cinder was black and shades of brown. She was white where the others were white. She doesn't climb on the furniture as much as the others and spends most of the time by herself in the bedroom. Daddy says just leave her alone. She seems happy to be left alone.

There are other differences between me and Jonesy, Binky, and Cinder. They climb on the furniture and counters. They also tear the furniture and curtains with those sharp claws. Daddy doesn't like it, but they do it when he isn't looking. I already mentioned they make a different noise. They are also spoiled. Daddy tries to treat us all the same, but the others are always asking for more. They are smaller than I and Daddy is able to pick them up more easily than he can me. Anyway, I don't like being lifted, so I lie down when Daddy tries and so he doesn't very often. They like attention but pretend that they don't care. Daddy knows better though. Despite all these differences, we get along most of the time. Sometimes people remark how surprised they are that we get along, but as long as they leave me alone, I'm willing to leave them alone. And after all, we're family.

Daddy worked most of that year so I spent most of it at Grandma and Grandpa's house. There were about three weeks, after my birthday, when Daddy was home working on something. Sometimes two other people came over to talk about the models Daddy was making. I always liked it when people came over and always liked it when Daddy worked at home. Binky liked it when Daddy was home too. Still, Binky is always making it hard for Daddy. If he was making things, she would knock the parts on the floor and then under the furniture so Daddy had to make new ones or spend time looking for them. When Daddy is drawing, she walks on his drawings with wet feet, tears holes in the drawings, or just lies in the middle of his work and hisses when he tries to move her. When Daddy is working at the computer, she gets in the way or pushes the wrong buttons.

Chapter Ten - the Tenth Year (or Daddy's New Job)(1996-1997)

Daddy worked most of this year so I spent most of it at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Right after my birthday, Daddy started a new job. He worked a lot, but it was the first time that he had liked his work in a long time. He was much happier. He didn't have to start so early, so he dropped me off at Grandma and Grandpa's house Monday morning instead of Sunday night.

In February, Daddy finished his job and we had a lot of time together the next five months. Daddy spent a lot of time on his computer and that box on his desk that he talks to. He also spent a lot of time cleaning the house and yard, but it never got really clean.

Because Daddy didn't have to work, he did have more time to spend with me when we were both home.

Chapter Eleven - the Eleventh Year (or More Time with Daddy)(1997-1998)

Daddy was off work the beginning of my eleventh year, but then in the early Fall, started working a lot so I moved back in with Grandma and Grandpa. Even when Daddy is home, he works a lot. He works at the computer, in his work room, in the yard, or cleaning or repairing the house.

It was this year that Uncle Kyle adopted his own little girl, Fraulein. I'm sorry to say that I never liked her much. She was so bouncy and active, watching her made me dizzy and tired. Also, I never knew when she would bounce into me. But Uncle Kyle loves her and that's all that matters.

Chapter Twelve - the Twelfth Year (or A Slow Year)(1998-1999)

Daddy finished a job shortly after my birthday, so we had about two months together. He did visit a friend out of town, but was only gone for a few days. A month later, Daddy and Grandma were gone for almost a week to visit Aunt Kris in New York. I like Aunt Kris, but since she lives so far away, I don't see her much. During this time, Grandpa took care of me. I like Grandpa. He calls me "Hound Dog," Pooch," or "poochy," and "Good for Nothing." I never understood this last one since I am a very good girl and do lots of useful things. Not only do I protect the family and our home, but I also keep away the squirrels and keep the rugs from floating up in the air. I also keep the floor warm and everyone gets extra exercise stepping over me. Also I make sure that Daddy takes a long walk almost every day.

Daddy took a job just after the Fourth of July but it didn't last long. So we had a few more weeks until he started another job. He didn't like this new job but stayed there for over a year. We were together most weekends but Daddy still was gone at the museums sometimes and started at another museum.

I don't remember exactly when, but it was somewhere around here that Uncle Keith and Aunt Debbie's little boy Dutch died. They adopted another little boy, Tanner but they worried that he wouldn't get along with their two two-legged children, so they traded him for Zack. By this time, I was starting to learn to get along with all my four-legged cousins.

Chapter Thirteen - the Thirteenth Year (or The Bad News)(1999-2000)

Sometime during the summer of my thirteenth year, Uncle Kyle adopted another girl. Her name was Sybil. She was almost my age but she needed a good home and Uncle Kyle missed me even though he also still had Fraulein. As I said, she was older and not in the best of health, so Uncle Kyle had almost as big a vet bill as Daddy was about to have.

A couple of months after my twelfth birthday, I started to have some breathing problems and was very warm. I was breathing fast and Daddy got worried. Daddy took me to the Vet and she checked me over and then stuck me with a needle and sucked out some blood. It only hurt a few minutes and then Daddy took me home. A few weeks later, Daddy picked me up after work in the middle of the week and he and Grandpa took me back to the Vet. This time, she checked me more closely. Someone took me to another room while Daddy and Grandpa waited in the examination room. I was lifted onto a table and held down while this funny machine looked at me. Then they took me back to Daddy. The Vet came back and talked to Daddy and Daddy seemed worried but kept petting me and telling me I was a good girl.

During this time, my food started to taste bad and I didn't like eating it. I was hungry, but just couldn't eat the food I was used to getting. Grandma fixed all my favorites, but it still made me feel bad so I almost stopped eating. I was starting to loose weight and get weak but couldn't eat any more. Grandma and Daddy tried everything to get me to eat, but I just couldn't. He called Grandma two or three times a day from work to ask if I was eating. Daddy started to take me for short walks but was worried that since I wasn't eating I would loose more weight, so he kept the walks short. Also I was so weak.

Daddy was very worried about my breathing and seemed sad. Usually, Daddy dropped me off at Grandma and Grandpa's house Sunday night or Monday morning and would pick me up on Friday after work. He started to bring me home every night after work and take me back to Grandma and Grandpa's every morning and spent a lot of time hugging me. He was so concerned about me being sick. So if there's a good side to being sick, Daddy and I have spent a lot more time together since it started. A few days later, Daddy and Grandpa took me to a different vet a long way from home. They put me on a table and used another machine like the regular vet used to look at me. The new vet talked to Daddy some more and Daddy seemed a little less worried. We stopped at the grocery store and Daddy bought some meat and hurried back to Grandma and Grandpa's house and cooked the meat for me. Grandpa ate some of my meat which annoyed Daddy and Grandma since it was for me and I needed it. I liked the meat and ate all they gave me. They didn't give me a lot at one time, but they gave it to me several times a day.

Then a week later, Daddy took me to another new vet, almost as far from home as the other new vet. They took Daddy and me into a room and looked at me and talked to Daddy. Then they put me in a small cage and Daddy said goodbye to me and left me there all day. This vet gave me a shot and later put me under a machine that was different from the ones earlier. Later in the day, they brought me into a room and there was Daddy. Daddy was happy to see me and after talking to the vet a little, Daddy took me home. Daddy and Grandma started cooking a mixture of rice and meat and gave me lots of it. I liked the meat better without the rice, but I still ate all they gave me. After a week, I wasn't feeling so weak. Daddy spent a lot of time with me but it was hard for me to breath when we walked, so Daddy stopped taking me for walks.

One day, Daddy loaded me into the car and we drove a long way. I don't think I've ever been that far from home before. After a long way, Daddy pointed out the car window and said, "Look, it's Disneyland. Do you know how many dogs would like to go to Disneyland and will never even see it?" I really don't know what it meant, but Daddy thought it was important. I was more interested in the building on the other side of the car and didn't bother to look. Finally we arrived at a building where some of the people from the last Vet's office met us. We went into a room and Daddy seemed very sad and hugged me again. Then the people took me away from Daddy and put me in another small cage.

The rest of the day and the next morning, there wasn't much to do and I was bored and lonely. Then they gave me a shot and put me behind a wall. I spent the next week and a half behind the wall. The people visited me a few times and I got a few more shots but for the most part, I wished I was home. Every one seemed to be afraid to be around me. Later, Daddy said I was radioactive, but I never heard a radio and I sure wasn't active. Finally, one day the people took me back to the small exam room and there was Daddy. I pretended not to care, but I was very happy when Daddy took me back to the car. We went home a different way and stopped to visit the place where Daddy had been working the last year. They seemed like nice people, but still, Daddy wasn't staying much longer. Then we went home. It was so nice to see Grandma and Grandpa and Binky and Cinder again. The next two weeks, everyone avoided me more. I was still radioactive. Daddy put chairs in the doorway to the bedroom so I could see and hear him at night, but couldn't get into the room. One day I went to visit Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Karen was there. She grabbed her little girl and ran from me like I was dangerous. I really never understood all this, I never hurt anyone before. After two weeks, everyone treated me like normal again.

I started to feel a little better and Daddy started taking me on longer and longer walks. We started taking two long walks every day. Daddy was spending so much time taking care of me, each walk took an hour. One day, I went back to the third vet and they put me in the cage again. Daddy left, they gave me a shot and put me back under the machine. Again Daddy came back that evening and took me home. Daddy and Grandma started to feed me the meat and rice mixture again.
One day, Daddy took Binky and me to something called a church. There were lots of other four-legged children there with their parents. A man dressed in black and white said some words and then we got in line and one by one, the man said some more words to us. Daddy said we were blessed. I didn't feel any better and Binky didn't act any better, but Daddy seemed pleased. I'm still alive so I guess it
helped. A year later, Daddy took Binky and me back for another blessing.

A week or so later, we again traveled to the far away vet but we didn't go the same way. It was the same as the first time. They took me back to the cage and gave me a shot the next day. Then again they stayed away from me for almost two weeks. I was there longer this time but finally one day, Daddy took me home. Again, I was kept out of the bedroom and everyone stayed away form me for two weeks.

When I got home, Daddy wasn't working any more, so we spent lots of time together and took lots of long walks. I was starting to have a little trouble with my legs when we walked. Every few hundred feet, my foot just didn't move right. This caused me to trip a little. Daddy took me to a different vet at the usual building. She examined my foot and made me bend my legs. I guess she didn't find anything wrong because they didn't do anything, but eventually it got better.

About six weeks later, Daddy took me back to the third vet and left me again. They gave me a shot and put me under that machine again. When Daddy came to pick me up, he seemed worried again. A few days later, it was New Years 2000. When the TV said it was midnight, Daddy gave me a big hug and said "You made it! He was very happy.

I was starting to have trouble breathing again and Daddy took me back to the second vet. She looked me over, put me under one of those funny camera tables, and talked to Daddy. A week later, Daddy took me to another vet and he looked me over and talked to Daddy. Then a week later, Grandma and Grandpa took me back and we talked to yet another vet. That was the last time I saw any of the special vets. I did see the usual vet a few more times and Daddy often took me back just to weigh me or pick up my pills. Daddy had a big vet bill that year.

One day in the Fall, Daddy took me to one of the museums where he volunteers. He didn't work that day, it was just that the people he knew wanted to meet me. We walked around the park a bit and saw some strange animals in cages. His boss Zandra was sick that day so we came back a few months later to meet her. The second time we went, it was a warm winter day, not too hot or cold. We wanted to walk in the winter to avoid rattle snakes which Daddy says are not good to make mad. Also, I still needed to walk when it was cool because the lump in my neck made me hot. We walked all over the park which has many trails. There is a place where they have these big animals Daddy called bison. They told Daddy to watch out for the mountain lion. Daddy said he didn't want me to become cat food, so we were careful. There were so many smells and things to look at. I had a lot of fun that day but was a bit tired. We went back a third time a few months later but because it was hot by then, we mostly stayed inside and talked. I did look around the museum a little before they realized and brought me back to the office. They said I could only look around the museum while on a regular tour.

Shortly after my first visit to the museum, the rainy season started. Daddy was determined that I take a walk every day, even if it was raining. So Daddy grabbed his umbrella and off we went. I liked walking in the rain. It was cool, even if it did wash away some of the smells. Daddy piled some paper towels by the front door before the walks and tried to wipe the water off of me when we got home. I find that it's much faster to go into the middle of the living room and shake off the water. Daddy doesn't like this and calls me "silly dog."

Then Daddy got a job. He worked a few days, then had a few days off, then worked at home for a day, then worked away from home again. He didn't work all that much, then he was off again for a few weeks until he started the next job just after my birthday.

Chapter Fourteen - the Fourteenth Year (or The Fight for My Life)(2000-2001

My fourteenth year began with a sweet thirteen birthday party. Daddy's friend Kent came with his little girl Yamo and Daddy's computer consultant Jack and his girlfriend came. I like Jack and he likes me and Binky. Cinder always hides when Jack comes over, but then she always hides from everyone. Aunt Karen and her family and uncle Keith and Kyle came with their families. We all met at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was so much fun until I got into a fight with Yamo over a toy. I just keep doing that. I had a cake and some gifts. It was so much fun. Daddy was so happy that my medical problems weren't bothering me too much.

Just before my birthday, Daddy started a project working at home. Then he started working away from home. I was spending almost every night at Daddy's house, but then Daddy started to get home late and a few time, never stopped to pick me up at all. I spent several nights by Grandma and grandpa's front door waiting for Daddy. He might stop by for a few minutes to drop off some food and give me a hug, but then off he went again. He was very busy in May and still a little busy in June.

About this time, everything starting to get quiet. It was hard to hear Daddy calling me. I couldn't hear all the little sounds and big sounds seemed little. Daddy seemed to be talking to me but I usually couldn't hear him. He started pointing a lot and I just had to watch everyone more closely. It is easier to sleep without all the noise, but I do have to keep an eye on everything more closely.

Then about two months after my birthday I got a new problem. I had followed Grandma out to the garage for a food treat and suddenly everything started spinning. I almost couldn't stand up and I was so dizzy that I couldn't find the step back into the house. My stomach started to feel funny and I couldn't stand easily. I started walking in circles and everything was sideways. Uncle Kyle called Daddy and Daddy came over. Daddy tried to get me into the car but I couldn't get in. I never liked it when Daddy lifted me but finally Daddy lifted me into the car and back to the vet. The man at the vet's office gave Daddy some papers to read and Grandpa and Uncle Kyle took me back to Grandma and Grandpas' house. Daddy had a class to go to but picked me up after class and took me home. I didn't feel like eating but was hungry. I was so confused and scared as everything kept spinning. I tried to turn my head until things were right-side up, but my head couldn't turn far enough.

After a few days, I started to get used to the situation and also got very hungry. So, I started to eat a little again. After a few days, Daddy started to walk me again.. We started with short walks and worked up. Slowly, I was able to eat again and I got used to my vision being twisted and my head slowly started to return to normal. A month later, I had completely gotten used to my twisted view and was walking better and my head was almost normal. I still fall if I turn too fast, but most of the time, I've gotten used to it.

About the time I got back to normal, Daddy finally went back to work. He worked most of the time until now. Sometimes he had a few extra days off, but mostly he worked.

During the week, when Daddy was working, he usually took me for a walk before taking me home from Grandma and Grandpa's house. Usually on the weekends, we went for a walk in the morning or evening, sometimes both.

This year, as we all gathered for Christmas, Uncle Kyle's little girl Sybil wasn't feeling well. She could barely stand and was getting real thin and weak. Uncle Kyle was sad. Sybil went to Heaven a month or so later.

Daddy was so happy when I made it to another New Year. He hugged me again like he had the year before and said I had reached the "real new millennium."
One of our last walks, 3-24-01.
As for me, my breathing got worse and I started to get hungry and hot. When the rains started, Daddy still managed to take me for walks without getting too wet. Early in the new year, Daddy took me to my usual vet for shots. I think these were the usual shots and not anything for my continuing sickness. Both Daddy and the vet seemed glad that I was still doing OK.
In February, Daddy started to get home later from the museums sometimes and also was gone on Saturdays or Sundays when he usually didn't go to the museums. He also started spending a lot of time on that box on the desk that he talks to. Usually, he makes short calls and does other things while talking, but now the calls were long and he didn't do anything else while talking. Then one Saturday, he dropped me off at Grandma and Grandpa's house. When he came back a few hours later, he had with him the woman who's voice I heard from the box on the desk. She seemed nice and Daddy took some pictures of me with the woman. Then they left for a while but stopped back later. Then they left again and Daddy picked me up several hours later.
Last Birthday
Andrea's last birthday, 4-21-01.
A few weeks later, Daddy had the week off. I still spent part of some days at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but Daddy was home most of that week. Then he went back to work for three more weeks. The woman visited Daddy again at Easter. Easter is another holiday that I like because all my aunts and uncles, and cousins come and visit at Grandma and Grandpa's house. About this time, my breathing got really bad and Daddy stopped taking me for
walks. I'd like to keep walking, but Daddy is so worried about my breathing trouble.

So, here we are, it's a nice day in mid April and I'm all caught up with my memoirs for now. It's my birthday today. We aren't planning a party this year, Daddy seems worried that my breathing my ruin it. Daddy is off work - I guess he's between jobs again.

Chapter Fifteen - the Final Frontier (or Beyond to the Gates of Heaven)(2001-Eternity)

Last Day
Andrea on her last day.
Daddy tells me that soon I will be going to at new place to live. It's called Heaven. It's a real nice place. I won't have trouble breathing there. I'll never be hungry or tired again. There are fields that go on forever where I can run and chase squirrels. He says I'll be able to catch the squirrels there too because it's where the bad squirrels go when they die.

Jonesy is already there and Daddy says that Binky and Cinder will be along sometime
along with any new children he adopts. So I'll have to find Jonesy and when the others get there, they can help find the new sisters that I haven't met yet. Daddy says he hopes to be with us all someday too. Then he won't have to work so hard and we can play together more than we can now.

It sounds so great, I'm looking forward to it. I just hope I don't miss the others while I wait for them.

The End (or the Tail of the Tale)

Editor's note: Andrea was humanly euthanized April 25, 2001, about 6:45 PM. She was comforted by her Father, Grand Father, and Uncle.

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