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The Real Lori Mauger

Lori and Mia

Lori and Mia

Hello! Before I list my credentials in antiseptic detail, please permit me to share a personal glimpse of the real me. You see, I feel obligated to divulge the truth about my family. Quite frankly, they must be aliens. If not, then surely they picked me up from the side of the road in some alternate universe when I was an infant.

In a nutshell, I’ve faced a dilemma ever since I was old enough to ponder my existential existence. My upbringing was nothing unusual. I spent the better part of my youth in a diminutive Cape Cod starter home in a nondescript suburb that was within commuting distance of the Big Apple. The immediate members of my family—mom, dad, and a younger brother—did all the things that average people do from day to day and year to year. They tended to working class jobs and public school studies. They fretted over endless chores and routine money woes. They celebrated report card grades and Independence Day parades. I’m sure it all sounds pretty mundane from where you sit, and certainly the aforementioned evidence doesn’t support the alien theory. But back then, the dilemma I confronted was real. It loomed large in my evolving adolescent brain, and it spawned from one Big Question: why was I terminally AWOL from this familial platoon? The answer came from The Green Poodles.

The Green Poodles

The Green Poodles

It was all Cousin Fern’s fault. I wanted to be just like her. She was British, and she had her very own dog, a smart and talented champion poodle named Juliet. When Fern became an orphan, she and Juliet left England and moved to her Aunt Lena’s farm in Texas, where they took up residence with the other members of the Green clan. Of course, it wasn’t long before Fern and Juliet solved a mystery, saved the farm, and earned Juliet’s American championship at a local dog show. Cousin Fern is a character in The Green Poodles by Charlotte Baker. It’s the only library book I ever absconded with, and to this day it holds a place of honor on my bookshelf. That’s because the tale defines me. I imagined what it would be like to live in England. I dreamed of having a dog that I could make into a champion. But mostly I yearned to live on a farm. I must’ve read that book a hundred times. I still smile at the nirvana it gave me.

Basically, my genetic configuration screams FARM GIRL! Yet, my family merely tolerates all creatures great and small in a friendly but less-than-enthusiastic way. In fact, my mother was downright afraid of dogs—hence my alien status. How could this animal-crazed kid be born to a woman who feared everything on four legs? Nevertheless, I begged and pleaded and cried for a poodle just like Juliet. Finally, the day came when mom lamented. She wanted to make up for the fact that she and dad were divorcing.

When Juliette the poodle arrived —notice the spelling is varied to make her unique from Fern’s dog—she became the center of my world. I showered her with love and attention. Problem was she wanted none of it. In fact, she sought refuge from my overzealous affection. Juliette’s sanctuary became my mother, the dog hater. Imagine my profound disillusionment.

I continued on with my farm dreams by taking up horseback riding. Once a week I went to the stable to learn how to tack and post and keep my heels down. Soon enough, I volunteered to muck stalls. The stable manager loved the free help, and I adored being immersed in dung and hay and horse sweat. Unfortunately, though, my gratis labor never amounted to a return favor of free instruction, and when the cost of lessons became too much for my single mom, my riding days were over.

Sassy with her Ribbons

Sassy with her Ribbons

Eventually I got another poodle named Sassy, and Karma intervened in the form of a family friend. Mrs. Pentilla was one of mom’s social acquaintances who happened to own a couple of poodles and who also happened to belong to the local dog training club. Thankfully, Mrs. Pentilla recognized my enthusiasm for all-things-dog. She invited me and Sassy to accompany her on Thursday nights to obedience class, and the rest is history. I became a junior member of the club, and all these years later, I still belong.

Even though I’ve trained and shown dogs for the better part of my life, Cousin Fern’s legacy lives on. I’ve never been to England, and I don’t own a farm. However, over the years I’ve satisfied my inner farm girl by becoming involved in sheep herding competitions. Like the horseback riding lessons of yesteryear, I dutifully took my two now-retired border collies for weekly herding practice. These days, the dogs are content to chase toys rather than sheep. As for me, I’ll probably never be a full-fledged farmer, but what’s life without a bucket list? Besides, there’s always England.

Thanks for indulging me! And now, here’s the formal poop… the professional Lori.

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