Friday, January 30, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I started a new job today. It's a humbling experience to realize that you are worth nothing more than the federally mandated minimum wage in today's economy. Part-time job, no benefits. The good news is that I can quit if anything better comes along. The other good news is that I'm on my feet all day instead of sitting on my ass. I will stay busy, it's not difficult, and I actually rather enjoyed it. That's where the good news ends.
The sobering part of the day was the realization that I barely earned enough today to cover the McDonald's meal and the bag of cat food that I bought on the way home.
All the bad career choices I've made throughout my life came together today and they feel like a crushing weight sitting on the center of my chest.
Now, I am not destitute. Our stomachs and cupboards are full; we are not in danger of losing our home. Some people are in that position, and I can not even imagine how they must feel. It's a wonder that more of them don't "go postal", or climb up water towers with automatic weapons. I can understand the feelings of fear, frustration, desperation, and plain anger that lead to those kinds of actions. I can understand the Wall Street guys who jump out of windows or step in front of trains. Those with more to lose may feel the loss the most. People who have always lived on the edge of poverty are tougher and they probably deal with it better than the middle class, middle aged, white guys who thought they would always be able to earn a comfortable living.
I do not really mean to complain. Nothing terrible has happened. This is a part time, temporary gig and it fills a void until I get things straightened out. It will also light a fire under me and make me realize that I've got to get my butt in gear and doing something about my life. I've never looked down on other people for the kind of work they do. I always figure that they are doing what they can, what they have to do, to make ends meet. There is nothing wrong with that and I respect them for it. I feel different about myself, however. I'm a huge disappointment, wasted potential, a big fucking loser.
I can't scream, yell, or cry to purge myself of these feelings. Writing about them is the best non-pharmaceutical remedy I can manage. It is fortuitous then that the following poem arrived my mailbox as I was writing this. It makes the posting at least somewhat dog related again.
It's a good thing I've got so many dogs around here now.
ONLY A DOG WILL DO
There are times when only a dog will do
For a friend---when you’re beaten, sick and blue,
And the world’s all wrong; for he won’t care
If you break and cry, or grouch and swear;
For he’ll let you know as he licks your hands
That he’s downright sorry---and understands.
American Author (1894-1957)
Monday, January 26, 2009
Virginia's adopter is a runner and he participated in the SECOND ANNUAL TREAD LIGHTLY CANINE 5K RUN/WALK in Charlottesville on Jan 24th. Jim and Virginia placed second in the race, and Jim gives credit where credit is due, saying:
Virginia deserves much of the credit. Once she figured out it was her job to run the race and not harass the other dogs, I felt like I was tethered to a four-legged heat seeking missile that was not going let obstacles or terrain get in the way of her pursuit of the lead dog. We might not have caught the lead team, but we sure left the rest of the group in the dust.Anyone who thinks they need a large, long-legged male dog as a running companion has never tried to keep pace with a small but determined female shepherd. Congrats to Jim and Virginia. I couldn't be happier for them both. (The pictures here are from this summer when Virginia was with me as a foster.)
Once Philly got in the store and saw what was going on, she settled down and enjoyed herself. They all were ready to leave before the three hours were up, and no one made a noise on the entire trip home.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
By the way, Holiday is doing well today, not even limping any more. She's is one tough old gal. Fortunately, she eats her pills when mixed up with a bit of canned food, which I think has been a part of her diet in the past. Bear had his neuter surgery today. He was cryptorchid, meaning that he had only one descended testicle. Consequently, his neuter surgery was much more involved than usual because they had to do an abdominal incision to go inside to find and remove the undescended testicle. Ouch. He is recuperating in a crate here in my office, although he wanted to go back out with Bud and Chance. I guess he had stories to tell and a cool incision with lots of stitches to show off.
Anyway, when checking Facebook, I found a friend request from the folks who adopted Hercules from me several months ago. Herc was an owner surrender from a young guy in Charlottesville who was going to Iraq. (This is the major reason why I don't normally adopt to military people). Actually, Herc would probably have been given up regardless, because was insanely jealous and protective of his dad. Herc's owner had a girlfriend, and Herc did not see the need for her in their relationship. He was a bit unpredictable to say the least, and he needed to go to an experienced home for the safety of everyone concerned.
I didn't take him to adoption outings very often, because he was unpredictable and tended to attach himself to whoever held his leash and considered everyone else to interlopers. But Herc is a gorgeous dog and he got lots of inquiries over the internet. Finally one came along from some folks in the Tidewater area. They had experience with a difficult dog and definitely knew what they were doing. I met them in Williamsburg one day (someone else had done the home visit), and we did the adoption. Herc tested them severely in the beginning. To say it was a rocky start would be an understatement, but their love, patience, and training prevailed, and Herc is now a full fledged member of the family. My hat is off to these folks, and to everyone who takes in difficult, old, sick, or otherwise less than "perfect" dogs. In my experience, it is not those dogs who get returned. It's the ones who appear perfect and appeal to perfect looking families, who are then disillusioned when they discover that the dog has needs beyond what they are prepared to provide. What's the Statue of Liberty's line? "Give your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." It doesn't say, "Give me those who don't need anything from me." Rescue dogs seeking new homes are like immigrants: homeless, needy, and carrying some baggage. But open the door and they will enrich your life. Hercules and his new owners have struck gold.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Holiday has obviously been a house dog and she was not keen on the cold weather, although she has the thickest coat and more body flesh than any other dog here. She got the best of me last night, however, and came inside to the office, while she will probably remain until she's adopted. She's in a crate next to Betty, who has no weight or coat to spare and who just had surgery last week.
That still leaves Jeep, Lyca, Score, Julie, and Philly outside in the other shed at night. In that shed I've built what I call nest boxes. It's basically a long box divided in three sections, each with a separate opening. The top forms a work bench. Each box is big enough for at least two dogs to sleep comfortably but cozily. I fill them with straw, which is a great insulator. They are small enough that the dogs' body heat can warm them up such that the dogs are comfortable even in very cold weather. Jeep will climb in with Score if he wants to; Julie and Philly pretty much always snuggle together.
None of it is ideal, but it's temporary, and in most cases, it's better accomodations than they've had in their prior homes. And fortunately, it's supposed to warm up tomorrow. I hope it does, because the water tanks need to be refilled and that's not easy with a frozen hose.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
He tore down a string of (non-working) rope lights. Fine, they didn't work anyway. He chewed up the end of an extension cord that was along the top edge of the 6' kennel. Fine, I can replace the plug, the cord is probably still ok. He's made the water bucket into a play toy. Very creative. However, he also tore up the canopy that provides shade and rain protection for the kennel, and worse yet, he tore down the upper window sash on the shed window. He didn't really intend to tear out the window, but I had nailed a rug to the bottom of the upper sash to create a flap closure for the window that the dogs use to jump in and out of the shed. Chance started pulling on the rug and pulled the entire window out of its frame.
With the cold weather approaching, I needed to make that shed cozy tonight, so I went to Lowes today and got a sheet of exterior plywood, cut it to size, and cut out a corner to allow the dogs to go through. It is securely screwed to the window frame (I hope), and the shed is pretty cozy again tonight. Bud figured it out very quickly (rotties are smart) and the other two followed. Obviously Chance needs still more exercise and stimulation. All three enjoy a good chew, so I'll have to stock up on rawhides. I didn't get Chance out for a walk today, but the three boys and Lyka have had a good time playing in the dog yard this evening.