Category Archives: animals

Inspiration and Aspirations

Never mind perspiration. I awakened thinking I was late on a Sunday to take her out. Turns out the sun was bright and it was 5:30 in the morning and I awakened her.

If I were to opine, I’d say that when her eyes first opened as a pup she realized she was living in squalor. She knew she was a mutt, and wanted to get out of there pronto. Luckily the folks that allowed her to have worms, coccidia et al dumped her litter at the local shelter. Neither I nor my husband ever grew up in those conditions but we understand them and are grateful for shelters who take care of needy animals.

We were married a year and “settled in” as much as a software guy can be coming off the dot-bomb era so decided to get a dog. We met Zoe and were smitten. She was taken. We saw other dogs but liked “Camilla.” They called the next morning, said the hold was released and that she was ours. She was so excited coming home in that cardboard box she jumped right out!

I threw the box in the back seat and she relished sitting on my lap and driving in the car (windows closed, of course, AC on). Oh this was the second shelter to nudge nudge. wink wink change the name. We were down to a list of five. After 20 years of volunteering with shelters and also helping spay/neuter over 2,500 feral cats we settled on a name. Zoe, Greek for “life.” It has suited her all these years as she is the happiest dog I’ve ever met.

Her aspirations were realized. A good family and new/no hips. Yes, by the time she was four months old, at under 20 lbs. she had the worst hips her surgeon had ever seen. I did two weeks of research and we got her in to Val the Vet at six and nine-months of age for two FNHO’s, femoral head and neck ostectomies, they took out her hips. Back then they didn’t have titanium hips for smaller dogs so she had to grow her own hips and that she did. We walked her, my husband had her sneak into the pool for water therapy and she just took it on, life as usual.

Zoe is a trouper. All these years later she is kind of a mascot in our community and all the kids call out “Look, it’s Zoe!!!” My name is irrelevant. She is so kind and gentle to people, little ones, other dogs, even cats. She does have a forever home and has since she turned six weeks old. She is an inspiration to me for the light she gives others, and an aspiration as to what one can do with no hips.

I’ve had two dogs. The first was abused by a Deputy Sheriff, terrified of men in uniform, men with a cap, men in general and all children. I cured her of that in a month. Well, until my Navy neighbor came out in his dress whites. I just said “Chani, it’s Chris!” and she ran up to him and luckily didn’t get any yellow fur on his uniform. He usually wore a tee-shirt and camo shorts to work. She had never seen uniform or lid.

Zoe was to be raised from the day she turned six weeks old, a little puff ball, to now, with love and training and knowing she would be with us for the rest of her life. We’re family. We have inspiration, aspirations and have shared some perspiration to get there.

I like to think our little family has harmony. My brother just says Zoe is needy. Well, she has her own sign language (stare language) and sometimes he and usually I, know what she wants or needs. Out? Need “Precious” that is her only toy?

There was a terrible story yesterday about a tremendously malnourished, frightened and probably abused dog. She looks like my Chani before rehabilitation. Now with a foster family, I hope she gets the food and care she needs to find her own forever home. I know we saved Zoe, as in Texas rather than have two hip surgeries many would have put a bullet in her head. She chose well. Zoe has taught us too, and made a lot of friends. I will be with her, holding her, until the last moment of her life. Right now she’s happy and healthy.

Zoe was offered a mowed goat pen first time in Texas 13 years ago, so I asked my husband to go without us. Then his dad scrubbed an old dog crate and put it in my husband’s old room. Zoe walked in and out in a few seconds and wanted the bed. Now she stands on the sofa on “grandpa’s spot” and watches him come home from feeding the cattle. As she ages I do not wish to fly her anymore. If I’m driving, she has her own setup in back with 4″ orthopedic bed…and she still loves the car. When we fly in “grandma” is always upset that Zoe is missing, even bought her a matching stocking to ours last year because “she’s family.” We do up to five days of cooking and need someone to pick up crumbs. That would be Zoe. Here’s to the dogs in our lives! Dee

Water and Dr. Dog

Two days ago we received a notice on the elevator that our water was being shut off by the city. Then an email saying “Please plan your day accordingly.”

I’ve been through a Cat 5 hurricane, blogging it. 149 of 150 lofts were damaged. Ours was not. My husband and dog slept through the night, clueless while I watched trees sway side to side in 80 mph winds and the Bayou rise 25 feet.

Saying to a young mother that she will be without water and to “plan accordingly” is city-speak for we don’t care about you and are not going to give you a hurricane plan sheet about a water shutoff to families with young children and retirees. They don’t give any plans for conserving water to use during the days in question. I don’t trust the city to do the work, get it done in time and it may be days without water and people will die.

We have a hurricane kit and have already delivered an empty six-gallon water vessel for our neighbors to fill and to do what I will do in a few hours. Fill tubs, pitchers, and one sink with soapy water. Six gallon hard plastic tub is filled and sitting in the shower to be used for washing hands and dishes. Water flowers and plants. Use pitchers to get tub water to place in tank to flush toilet when needed.

It’s two hours before I have to get up to finish preparations. I don’t want any more “they’re doing this, not us” going on. The management company doesn’t care that we pay a premium to live here. We live with basketball stars, baseball stars, TV news personalities and hockey elites and I enjoy sports and see players on a regular basis. It’s “hey, how’s it going? Can I pet your dog?” Not me. Him.

Yes, everyone asks this of our old dog Zoe. Look! It’s Zoe! I don’t ask who they are. If they’re tall and skinny I ask how it is to be a linebacker. It’s a joke.

We’ll all be without water today and I’ve tried to get the City and our residents covered in terms of conserving water for daily use for the outage. No one will respond. There are no instructions. Today I help folks with water, tomorrow it’s baby food and blind dogs.

I talked to a dog maven yesterday about the blind neighbor dog. He gave me pointers and asked for a report. He charges for consultations but did not charge me. I’ve been interviewed on his radio show before and he remembered me from over 20 years ago. He asked me questions and one had two bad answers. I chose the best then offered a third option, to give the dog a chance. I passed. He is a brilliant man and has helped me not only with my dogs, but through that training volunteers to care for spay/neuter feral cats, dealing with kids, families and work. Don’t tell him, it’ll go to his Mensa head! Cheers! Dee

 

Do Dogs Dream?

Cesar Millan asked this question last week and his site would not allow me to respond. Yes, they do dream. Our 13 year-old Zoe just had one and I hated to leave her to come in here and write this. She’s a herder and will be by my side in under three minutes.

The tail wags, ears twitch, eyes open and close. Then the entire body twitches and the paws run like crazy. Sometimes she awakens for a walk and breakfast, and sometimes the REM phase just puts her back asleep. I like to guess whether it’s a squirrel, bunny or mouse. When she was young and faster she did kill two mice with precision and my husband took each out of her mouth immediately and fed them to the baby birds over the fence in the protected wildlife area. 1,200 acres, five feet away. Moose crashed a wedding and elk jumped the fence and crossed the highway. I used to make our bedroom balcony available for credentialed photographers. What a view.

The baby colts (young Greater Sandhill Cranes) would make sounds at night. I’d awaken and tell my husband that mom was going to the 7-11 to get them something to eat. There was no 7-11, and we didn’t see any this year. Years ago there was a fox that hung out there for hours every day, waiting for the 6′ parents to leave their colts. They never did, “married” for life and raised colts every year. The fox always left, disappointed. Hey, you just chose the wrong prey!

Yes, dogs do dream. She’s never had a thing for any bird, as there is a turkey who lives in our neighborhood and he is pardoned by all of us every Thanksgiving! She just ignores him as she walks by on leash.

She has been with me for 20 minutes and can jump down, just not up. Time for “last chance” and bed. You know who’s the boss now. It certainly is not me. Cheers! Dee

Euthanasia

Yes, it means death. It is allowed for pets but not for people. Only secretly for people.

For a cherished pet a proper parent should make the decision when there is no other alternative, hold that pet and be there.

For pets I would ask that there is a special room with a panic button. My old dog got up five times after the anesthesia and I couldn’t call on anyone. It was heartbreaking for me because I knew it was the last time I would see her alive and I didn’t want her to suffer. Because of what I went through, they’ve a “death wing” with a separate checkout and back door for payment, and the rooms have panic buttons to summon assistance.

I know that this is to prevent grieving pet owners from paying the death bill in front of others at the front desk. Two friends arrived at the hospital and visited my Chani before she died. In the end, Chani had bled out and had no hope of survival.

When I got home I called a dear friend and her husband answered the phone. Are you sitting down? Yes. I lost Chani. I’ll be right there to help you find her. This is an Army Ranger, yes, the Army Ranger.

No, she’s gone. What do you need? Companionship and a good glass of Pinot. He ran for me with a precious glass. I jumped the wall 200 feet away and we missed each other. He’d called his wife to come home, and when I arrived he arranged to have Chani’s remains given to me, not fodder for a pet cemetery.

I had spent six years trying to gain legal leash-free areas in our city. The entire neighborhood donated money to the city for a tree in her memory. The city decided the type, location and size of tree and the money and we paid  it. Then there was a big fight with neighbors who didn’t like dogs in “their” park.

Time was spent with both of my parents, who are gone now. They both had onsets of debilitating diseases that were accelerated by either medical mistakes or diseases of just being in a hospital. Mom died. Dad just died weeks ago. I can’t even find his grave. They both went through torture just to decide to die. My pets had a better death.

We scattered Chani’s ashes, at night, everywhere. But I’ve the last thing she brought to the park, a large teddy bear I bought at a garage sale for fifty cents, from a woman who hated me for trying to allow dogs in the park. A milliner friend, dear friend, placed ashes in the bear and sewed on a heart with lace and beading and everything.

I spoke with said other mother this evening. My new old dog, 13 years, would eat Chani’s bear so I keep it up high, always remembering the family that called me their daughter and still do so. She’s getting older. We had a good talk this evening and I promised a visit.

As to trees, there are so many now I can’t even see Chani’s on Google Earth. I heard the Wicked Witch of the West is no longer controlling “her” park so will visit, place flowers and water on her tree, and meet the people who made me, me. Thanks from your only daughter, Dee

 

 

Haiku for Dad

The kitten found me

Our deaths were not an option

We kept each other warm

 

***

Parents sent me to camp for a week. I hated it. Five mile hikes in the rain and 40 degree weather at night, my lame sleeping bag let me not sleep because of the cold then I had to drink prune juice every morning and use the loo with other girls into a chemical toilet.

My younger sister thrived on this stuff a week earlier. Now I spent my ten cents a day on two Peppermint Patties, wrote a postcard home and awaited my release.

That kitten saved both of us, and that has been a theme for many years and tears. He crawled under my crummy sleeping bag near my feet, I finally slept without freezing and we kept each other warm all night. I freaked out to find out there was a critter, and we checked it out. He was removed and probably killed.

For years I’ve worked for as a volunteer for feral cats and for shelter dogs and cats. He inspired me. The earliest memories are the purest of heart.

I think we should name him. I was just eight years old and thought the camp people were being nice. They were getting rid of vermin. He saved my life from frostbite. To this day I regret his demise.

Nathan and Mickey, I know you’re taking care of him up in the big blue sky. He inspired your unique personalities. At age eight, I did get a sense of what to do but forces were overwhelming and I didn’t have Dad to help. There were no cell phones, even land lines, there.

Paladin, “Pala to me” means character, nobility and courage. He saved my life. Cheers, Dee

 

Fear

What did I fear most as a kid? I was afraid to be smart. Of course I was set aside as smart with another kid and we got to read real books, in the back of the classroom, years earlier than other students older than me.

I do not know what happened to my reading companion after that but we enjoyed studying different books together at the back of the classroom. We were made May Queen and May King for Mayfest in 2nd grade. That was a degree of notoriety I never intended. Reading and understanding and crying at home reading Death Be Not Proud was not something my fellow students wanted to know or learn. They were learning phonics, and S and I had already known how to read for years. We learned to read early and I taught my sister when she was four. Our parents fought ITA, phonics, for smart kids who were already reading 2+ years ahead.

Sitting in the back of the classroom, the new teacher, first day, would butcher my name.  I’d raise my hand and give them my nickname as they were not smart enough to master my given name. They didn’t care, nor did my parents for giving me the name. I did. I was a little kid with a big name. It was scary to raise my hand from the back of the room and say “call me Dee.” I love it now but still everyone calls me Dee.

They always put me in the front of the class, front of the grades until later when… that comes later.

I was always so shy. I did not raise my hand so was called on and always knew the answer. Now the Olympics are on the television and I got to see bits of W0mens’ gymnastic vaults and uneven bars. This was a passion I’ve had since before you were born. Olga Korbut, Nadia the perfect 10.

When my family moved to a new city it was summer and I was 15. I tried out for the gymnastics team before the season/school and made it. Then I was immediately made captain. I had been at an elite public school (ever seen the movie about the trouncing of my alma mater in football by TC Williams? Ask Denzel Washington about it as we were G.C .Marshall.)

I was a much better captain than gymnast. That’s why I like to think young girls like me made a new sport better by caring about it and trying to do better tricks than Olga Korbut could do in the seventies, and even the first ten Nadia who brought down everything in her brilliance.

Now I don’t even understand the scoring mechanisms and new rules but have loved seeing womens’ vault and uneven bars competitions. They are so beautiful, I could cry.

As a captain there are duties, leadership responsibilities, education. Foremost are inspiration, aspiration (life goals) and I believe there is kindness to others. These are high school kids. I’m captain of a ship my younger sister is on who wants me to fail every moment and this is high school.

It was difficult. I led some elite gymnasts and taught others. I taught one team-mate humility after she wanted to leave the State Finals after her own performance. I said her team was there for her, the best gymnast in our school, all along and we deserved her support until the end of the meet.

In the locker room I said unless she did this for her team, as the captain, she’s off the team as of now and I’ll tell our coach and she’ll tell the judges her captain says she’s off the team immediately and she will not win anything.

Guess who was in the stands cheering her team-mates? She won her award. I finally spoke out. These mates have been cheering you on all season. You have to cheer us on as well. She did it.

I know she did not do it for her team as she didn’t have a team except herself. She wanted the award but her team-mates needed to know she was there for them. I made sure that happened for them, not for her.  No-one knew except me and Coach, as I had to ask if I could strip her of her medal, and I hope this helps our old team and coach, and haunts her even now.

After 11 I need to go to bed because I’ll know what I missed and and have been up for nearly 17 hours because of family duties, tomorrow, friends, cheers from Dee

 

 

 

 

 

A Lot

First, I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend. We did, quietly and went to a lovely dinner with former and current neighbors last evening. I got to make my usual trifle for dessert. We were home before the fireworks started, to take care of our old dog Zoe and assure she was not afraid of the noise.

Our friends F and M often make a great deal about dinner and appetizers. Last night F did a lot of work to make a true American feast. We had BBQ baby back ribs, potato salad and grilled corn on the cob. He never lets me work but allowed me to shuck the corn. Now that they’re a few blocks away we only see them a couple of times a year and it’s always a treat.

We’re going off on a trip to celebrate my father’s 85th birthday. Tomorrow we’ll trim Zoe’s nails (with an expert groomer, not me but I’ll be there to assist and keep her calm). Then she’ll try a couple of hours in open daycare with the older dogs and we’ll see how she does. A couple more of these half-days and I think she’ll be ready for an overnight. Yes, we’re leaving her there for a week. There are many phases to planning the trip, Zoe must be taken care of by the best people we can find.

As to vision, Zoe has an appointment for nails (no polish, thank you) and fun, and I’ve one to get a new lens for my new, expensive glasses I use every excuse not to wear. I’ve only had them for a month. They’re top of the line and there is a sweet spot on the right eye where I can actually see.

The problem is that I was born with a congenital defect. Certain vertebrae did not fully form, a fact I found out 30 years later. When I hit the “sweet spot” on the glasses they cause me spine issues. I’m more worried about my spine than I am a pair of glasses. It’s my first pair of gradiated bifocals and is taking time to learn to “follow my nose” as Zoe does, and use them. It is frustrating.

There’s another matter. Should we prop up my computer and television so I can hit that sweet spot on which I recently had surgery for a growth and was just diagnosed with a tiny cataract. I think the proof is in the pudding. Why keep glasses in the case all the time and use cheap readers for computer, cooking or television? I say make these work and have my old ones work as well if the new prescription is a winner. Old ones will be single vision, not bifocal.

I’ve many visions as to life and world and would love to see them through my eyes as well as my brain and heart. Cheers! Dee