Archives for category: Pet

I’m Chi.  You might remember me from the last time I snuck into my human’s office and wrote a letter to all of you. I’m back! I’m sorry I was gone so long. It’s not easy sneaking into her office a second time, you know. Plus, I’ve had a lot to contend with these past couple weeks… like my shaved butt.

Yeah, they shaved my butt. And I like it when people play with me, but that was not cool. Mom took me into the vet’s office one day when I thought we were just going out together someplace special. She left me there! Alone! I made sure I pouted at her for the whole time she walked away. Don’t tell her, but I saw my human looked kinda sad and scared. I don’t like to see her look that way.

So then, they took me back into this room and they poked me with something. It made me yelp, and then I got really sleepy. The last thing I remember is the nice lady in the white coat saying she was going to take my picture… I like pictures…

Then, everything was spinning. Spin, spin, kinda like when I chase my tail — only I couldn’t figure out which way was up. And then I woke up really thirsty and I was in a cage thing. I really wanted my humans a lot. I went back to sleep cause I couldn’t do much else.

behindbars

I guess I had stitches and things, and it hurt a lot for a while. I hated the big white pills and I spit them out cause it made my humans mad when I did that. Serves them right. Then maybe a week ago, they were talking to someone on the phone and Mom got really happy and squeezed me real tight and everyone got excited. I thought I was going to get some cheese or something. The humans did sneak me some banana. That was ok.

So ever since they have been telling people I am be-nighn, whatever that is. I’m a pug, not this other thing. I think they are confused. My dad looks at me and laughs and says I have a wart on my ass. Well, that’s rude….

You’d think my story was over, but nooooo. Then it started to rain. And it rained, and it rained, and it rained some more. You have to understand that I hate walking in the rain. It makes my big paddle feet wet. And I just don’t like it and I try to find the dry spot near the house or wherever I am so I don’t get wet. It was terrible. One day Mom came home after getting stranded without an umbrella and she was soaked to the skin. The next day she came home early with a bucket and threw water all down the driveway. I really appreciated that she wanted to get rid of the puddle of water so I didn’t have to get my paddles wet.

Later that night and the next day, my humans seemed very upset, and sad. I guess there was so much water that people could not get out and no buckets were enough. They had to get their paddles wet. I am so sad for them. They even told me about a story where a dog like me saved a man from going under the water. I really hope everyone is ok out there…

I better go for now. Bye bye and remember to keep your paddlefeet dry!

Photo disclaimer: Is this yours? Please let us know so we can give appropriate credit!

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Always from the days of old men has it been this way

And none born can escape this thing.

–Miu Hsi, “Bearer’s Song”

 

Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. This saying is not Taoist, but it’s still true. The morning dawned bright and warm, and all indications pointed to a fine day. We were in the vet’s office with Chi to make sure he had all his shots up to date. Chi was enjoying interacting with dogs and humans alike. The exam started off normally enough. Chi was healthy, happy. All these things we knew. The vet’s smile faded as she explored Chi.

The sun passed behind a cloud as soon as she uttered the word. It was just a bump, probably nothing. Chi was taken to the back area of the clinic. An aspiration was done. It’s nothing, we all said to each other.

Several days passed, and finally the results came. Mast cells in the blood — not good news. Words like surgery and excision were mentioned. Other words like incontinence, and worse, were also bandied about. More blood tests. Discussions about chest x-rays and paths of treatment… and when not to treat. Surgery was scheduled and it was decided an x-ray would be taken before anything was actually done. If the cancer had spread, we wanted Chi to live a happy rest of his life with us. It was decided that I should take him in and take care of the paperwork and the front-end stuff, and my husband would pick him up after the surgery in the afternoon.

The morning of the surgery, Chi was unusually affectionate, nuzzling my shoulder and offering kisses. The vet met me on the way in, and grinned down at Chi. “Wild man,” she called him. She disappeared behind a door, and soon the vet tech was weighing the pug, and going over instructions. I signed the forms and handed Chi’s leash over to her. I will never forget Chi’s eyes watching me as I left the clinic and headed for the car.

About 30 minutes after I left, my cell phone rang. The x ray had been done. Nothing had spread. Even so, I went about the day’s business on autopilot. Keeping routine and living in the moment were some of the best Lessons Chi had taught me, and I worked them.  I couldn’t relax until he was safely out of surgery. Around noon, it was all over. The vet reported Chi was awake and resting comfortably.

Chi, in essence, had a cancerous bump on his ass. It appears they got it all, and very early. Life has never been so good.

Chi, for his part, milked the occasion as much as he could. The vet techs spoke of his eyes following them back and forth when he came out of anesthesia. He could not really lift his head, but his eyes followed them and he made a game attempt to beg for treats. “I’m so pitiful,” his eyes told us as he walked unsteadily back into the house. With a deep sigh he sank onto the cushions of the loveseat and promptly fell asleep.

sickychismall

Chi also has built a relationship with the neighbors to the west of us. Well, not with the humans, not really… with the dog.

When we first moved into our home, there was an elderly couple living next door. They eventually packed up and moved away, and the house was vacant for a time. Early one summer, a new family moved in. Young, hard-working, the type of people who rise early in the morning and return home, then do it all over again. A few months after they arrived, they came home one day with a visitor. This visitor liked to bark. A lot. Other neighbors would occasionally walk by, looking for the source of the noise. Some of them didn’t look very happy.

Chi, Jake and I decided to go check it out one day. A wooden fence blocked the yard from view. Through a space in the vats I saw a gangly-looking pit bull, perhaps a year old. It was well-groomed, well cared for, but it was left alone in the backyard. I felt bad for the pup, and made it a part of the daily routine to throw treats over the fence and coo at the young pittie. I also knew socializing the animal was important, especially if it was to be left alone for a certain amount of time.

I let Chi and Jake out to play a lot during that summer. Food, toys, various items made their way over the fence. One day when I went out, a new dog toy had come from the opposite direction. It was all in good fun, and everyone was bonding.

Chi developed something of a crush on his new friend. He’d bounce out the door and run directly over to the fence. Jake, being an old curmudgeon, would banter and harass and bark at the young one across the way. Not Chi. Chi would lay down on a cool brick in the shade, and try to look under the fence and play with the dog.

One day near the end of summer, we were throwing sticks in the backyard and noticed a hole in the fence. I leaned over to examine the hole and started to laugh. The pittie was standing there, tail wagging, clearly admiring his handiwork in chewing off half of the wood beam. The dog didn’t count on the chain-link fence on our side, but still, he had applied himself and wanted everyone to see his accomplishment.

By the end of that week, the entire beam was worked loose and finally fell off. The neighbors quickly hammered a replacement up onto the fence. The replacement was gnawed loose within days. Chi would be very excited during these times.  He wanted to play! My husband and I started discussing building some kind of latched gate for the pittie. The beams of wood hammered up to fill the gap in the fence became wider, still old wood, but wider. The pittie was determined to chew through them all.

Finally, one day when all the leaves were falling off the trees and autumn was giving way to winter, a thicker, bigger, newer beam of wood was hammered into place.  Chi’s new friend has not been able to chew through this one — yet. They still meet at the fence, and treats and toys go back and forth.

But Chi has yet to get his pit bull friend over for a sleepover. He can dream…

that side of the fence

Photo by Rick Harris.

Photo by Rick Harris.

“… I’m afraid a boat

so small would sink

with the weight

of all my sorrow.”

Li Qingzhao, “Spring at Wu-Ling”

Sometimes we must walk through life as solitary creatures. We may have companions, but, in essence, we are born alone, and die alone… with the exception of the Divine, if you believe in such.

This week just past was one of those times. A cherished friend passed away unexpectedly last Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Funny my choice of topic last time. One could almost infer I knew something was about to happen, but I did not. Maybe it would have been easier if I had.

Chi was always by my side, for he could feel things were “off” somehow, and would curl up on the back of the sofa by my head, or at my side, or somewhere nearby. Even so, this was one of those journeys I felt I had to take alone.

Loss is never easy. In this case it was an invitation to look deeply into the things that make life tick. Friends, small pleasures, moments caught in shards of glass within time. And it was a good chance to practice the Lessons of Chi. I took many walks along shaded, tree-lined parks and sidewalks. I wrote love letters. I sat and reflected on my friend and the ephemeral, fragile nature of this life we lead. I prayed; I cried; I spoke with this one who had finally moved beyond the veil. I played sad songs – mostly for me, not for my friend. I shared many hugs with other friends and acquaintances doing much the same thing. We spoke about our friend and realized, as we shared, that maybe we were all linked more closely than we realized. Complete strangers came to share their thoughts, love, prayers, and energy.

As we walked through the process together, we realized our small boats were, in reality, not so small. There are a lot of boats out there, all sinking under the weight of so much grief. And yet, if you join boats, the boat gets progressively larger and more buoyant.

This event of loss became something much larger, and more life-affirming. We all have this chance to pilot our ship, be it a rowboat, a canoe, a yacht, a cruise liner, or speedboat. It’s up to each of us to make it count.

I am grateful for all who reached out in ways large or small. I am grateful to be sharing this experience of life with each of you. Let us choose to enjoy this grand tour, wherever it leads.

I spend a lot of time looking around the web at causes and general pug-related items. A few weeks ago I came across a group relatively close to my area, and they are special indeed. They are National Mill Dog Rescue.

Puppy mills are places that are only now really getting into people’s consciousness. I understand why, too. I was brought up with those wonderful pet stores in the malls and shopping centers. I fell in love with a Peekapoo in high school just from cudding the puppy in the mall for 30 minutes or so. It’s a cherished memory. And, for years, if I needed a mental pick-me-up, I’d head to a puppy store. Cuddles given, cuddles received. These places can’t be all bad!

Pet stores in themselves are not bad. The problem is that often, pet stores use disreputable breeders who breed for numbers and sales and quick turnover — not for quality, health, and the best for the breeds. Living conditions are heart-breaking. Many live squished in cages only big enough for the animal to survive. Their feet never touch the floor. The animals used to breed are bred often and without regard for the animals’ health. Illness is rampant among dogs living in these conditions. When they are used up, they are of no use any more. If they don’t sell, they are of no use any more. And, bad things happen to these dogs then.

This is bad. And shelters and rescue organizations try to help these dogs. Often, they go to places where they never leave. Ever. And they die.

Theresa Strader was a lifelong lover of dogs, especially Italian Greyhounds. She had always been an animal advocate, but like many of us, she found out by happenstance about the devastation of Puppy Mills. This is an excerpt of her story from the National Mill Dog Rescue site:

“February 17, 2007, I arrived at the auction site in Lamar, Missouri – all new to me, I was completely unaware of what I was about to see and moreover, what I was about to learn. Little did I know that on that very day, I would embark upon the most daunting yet rewarding experience of my life. I distinctly remember every thought and feeling I had as I witnessed the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.At about noon that day, I laid my eyes on Lily for the very first time. As she cowered in the back of her cage, her jawless face staring back at me, I was overwhelmed by a flooding of emotions. I leaned close in beside her cage and made her this promise. “I’m going to take you from this hell and love you til you die.” I recall that moment as if it happened just today. In an effort to remain inconspicuous, I had to pull myself together and find the nearest exit. After a long walk, I found myself leaning up against the backside of an old barn where I slowly sunk to the ground in tears. I called my husband. I had so much to say yet nothing came out, nothing but tears. At that moment, I knew I would never rest again without taking a stand against the heartless cruelty put upon the animals that I have adored since I was a small child. The animals that throughout my life have never let me down. Man’s best friend. In that moment, on that day, National Mill Dog Rescue was born.”

Since that time, Theresa and her group have made several trips to rescue dogs just like Lily — the most recent ending just yesterday as the group travelled through Missouri and Kansas rescuing 80 dogs.  Over time, they have rescued over 8000 dogs from puppy mills.

Total trip costs of this trip are estimated at $16,000, and devoted allies have helped them raised over $13,000 to this time. Volunteers spend many hours caring for these dogs, giving them love just like Theresa gave to Lola. The time to foster, train, heal, and find loving forever homes for these wonderful dogs is,  indeed, “Lola’s Legacy.”

To see what you can do to help, visit National Mill Dog Rescue at:

http://milldogrescue.org/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/NationalMillDogRescue

Lolas

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BlogtheChange

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy. – Spider Robinson

Pain

Pain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week was a time of great stress – deadlines, evaluations, things to get done everywhere I looked. As the days crept along, my neck bore the burden. It was tight on Monday, aching on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had my quarterly review at work. When it was over, I was finally starting to relax. Suddenly, my neck snapped out of alignment. Pain, great pain. That night I woke up and couldn’t rest at all. Of course, the dogs sensed my discomfort.

The two Manchester terriers, Cara and Mara, both wanted to make me feel better – literally. They both jumped up by my face, licking me. Despite my best efforts, the natural reflex to protect the neck kicked in, making me jerk in pain.  They kept licking and trying to get me to move or play to feel better. While this is great puppy therapy most of the time, it was decidedly wrong for this particular occasion. They were summarily dismissed from my presence due to the fresh pain they unknowingly caused.

Chi waited until the terriers had gone to lay across the room, and then he came up close to me.

“No, Chi! Go! It hurts! Go!”  After several rounds of this, I gave up. Chi refused to leave.

The pug gingerly step-stumbled over my legs, and curled up in a ball at my feet. He snuffled with considerable nervousness.  I was still mumbling my objections. Finally I gave up and let Chi stay there at my feet.

It may hurt my pride to admit that some relatively small amount of time passed before I fell sound asleep. And, once again, I became aware of how wonderful Chi is at the fine art of being present to someone else’s pain. By insisting on “being there,” Chi made the pain seem bearable. From that point, the time passed quickly until I could go see my chiropractor and get some treatment.

The next time your animal wants to simply lie with you or rest against you, don’t be quite so fast to send them away. They may well be giving you a gift.

In the meantime, I have an hour of massage scheduled for myself tomorrow. Time to rest and rejuvenate!

chi

Related articles

I wanted to thank you all for coming to read my Freshly Pressed entry and the rest of my work. I haven’t been blogging here very long, and to be honest, I didn’t expect such a thing for quite a while, if ever. Words cannot express my gratitude to each one of you.

While I have started to work my way through everyone’s blogs, it is going to take me a while to give each person the attention they deserve. I promise I will come, though!

In the meantime, I hope I can continue to give you content you want to read.

As for Chi…. he’s playing peekaboo.

Thank you again, ALL, so very much. — Sandy and Chi

Image

Service dog sculpture at Metrotech Plaza in Br...

Service dog sculpture at Metrotech Plaza in Brooklyn-2 (Photo credit: Martha Garvey)

After leaving work on a Friday afternoon, my mind is on many things. I think about how hard I have worked during the week. That thought is generally followed by “Only two days off! I need more time!” (Don’t we all think this one!) Generally, I then start compiling all the lists of “stuff” that a weekend entails: honey-do lists (heh), grocery list, schedules, stuff I need to do but don’t really want to do. stuff I really want to do but don’t need to do, stuff I really don’t want to do and will NOT do, etc. This is a process most of us go through, winnowing through the sheer possibility only to thin the list by finance and time into some vague structure to start the weekend. Much will get done, a few items will not and will then be shuttled onto the ever-lengthening list of stuff to do NEXT weekend.

Such was the case this past Friday. I was sitting on the bus as it prepared to leave the downtown area, idly people watching as I pondered what was for dinner. An immaculately-coiffed woman in a blue business suit sat down in a bench seat to my left. She fumbled with her oversized purse and brought out an iPad. She powered it up and sneezed twice in rapid succession, saying nothing to the several people around her who blessed her afterwards. The bus pulled away and started its journey, stopping every few blocks to pick up more people.

I was drawn out of my reveries by some shuffling and unusual activity at the front of the bus a few feet away. I saw the golden head before I saw the rest of the scene. The large golden retriever came onto the bus calm, regal, and quiet. I was on my way out of my seat at that sight alone, before iPad lady told me to move. I moved a few rows back, and watched the dog escort its master to the seat as people milled about, rather uncertain of what to do.

Service dogs never cease to amaze me. This was no different. Surrounded by strangers that might cause a lesser dog to panic and act out, this beautiful animal stood there as its master settled in the seat and then sank to the ground with only some pressure and murmured direction from its lucky human. When another person came to sit, the dog crawled under the seat of the iPad lady and settled right back in.

I don’t believe people understand the work and effort that goes into training a dog to perform as that one did on the bus. So much could have gone wrong in that simple series of interactions. I reflected on that small miracle as we made our way onto the interstate and headed north to suburbia.

I love and adore Chi, and have often thought of training him to be a therapy dog. There’s no way my lovable lug of a pug could be a service dog. He is too involved in responding to others. Most pets are, I’d think. I know that service dogs start their training as mere puppies with their trainers. Preparation time with these trainers can be over a year. There is a reason for that time. I usually witness service dogs leading their humans across streets, or walking down a hall. I take for granted what these beautiful animals do.

I am fortunate to work in a community that hosts two people with service dogs. Sometimes we are encouraged to greet the animals, and sometimes not. One of my favorite moments with a service animal happened at work, in the cafeteria at lunchtime. A black lab serves a blind man at work, and it’s a character to be sure. The dog was laying on the floor at the table next to us as the man enjoyed his lunch. The room was packed full of people. The dog was well behaved with the tiniest exception… it kept looking at us as we ate. My lunch companion and I did not interfere, knowing we should not interact with the dog, but it kept “flirting” with us anyway. A few months later in a conversation, that dog’s owner said he knew she did that, and sort of chuckled. So, clearly these are individual animals with individual personalities.

This golden retriever that came onto the bus was simply a magnificent animal. And as I walked down the aisle to leave the bus, I leaned over and whispered to the man. “You have the most magnificent service dog I have ever seen.” He broke into a smile so wide, so full of pride. In his world, that dog was clearly the greatest too.

The next time you see a service animal, take a moment and think about the miracle of training and love that takes place in order for a dog to serve a human.

Verse 26 – Gravity is the Root of Lightness

Gravity is the root of lightness,
Stillness is the master of passion.

The Sage travels all day
But does not leave the baggage-cart;
When surrounded by magnificent scenery
Remains calm and still.

When a lord of ten thousand chariots
Behaves lightly in this world,
Lightness loses its root,
Passion loses its master.”

~ “Tao Te Ching Lao-Tzu”, translated by Sephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo

I’ve been reflecting still more on Chi’s sense of quiet, of flowing like water.  The thing that is really wonderful about working with the Tao Te Ching, of taking the low road, is that you learn an entirely new way of reacting — actually, not reacting — to things as you practice.

In our Western world we are encouraged to “strike while the iron is hot” ; “seize the day”; “take control”; “be assertive”; “don’t be a doormat”… and on and on the advice goes. Be strong, strike hard. Many of us become addicted to this confrontational, competitive style. It’s no wonder. These qualities are often listed among the most attractive traits for managers and entrepreneurs in the contemporary business world. These personality markers also thrive outside the office. Within sports, games, even personal improvement programs there is often found competition and different scenes of what could easily be called battle.

Chi sees most everything in his own puggy time. He is, as the Sage above, calm and still. (Unless there is a squirrel.) By allowing all of the millions things to move around him he gets to experience much more of his puggy world, rather than chase every single thing as his sisters do.

I am trying to allow time to flow like that for me as well, be it at work, or at home. Surrendering and flowing with things allows me to relax. It allows new creativity to flow. And, amazingly, I accomplish more than I would if I was running around after everything.

This also works beautifully in relationships. Allow people to come and go. Stay in the baggage cart being taken from place to place. Force nothing. Embrace the moment and be grateful. These seem like simple tasks. They are deceptive.

So, until next time, I am going to continue to practice this new receptivity, this new yin way of relating to the world. If you try it too, share how it goes for you!

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou...

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou 中文: 福建泉州老君岩 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Water overcomes the stone;

Without substance it requires no opening;

This is the benefit of taking no action.

 

Yet benefit without action,

And experience without abstraction,

Are practiced by very few.

TTC 43

Interpreted by Peter Merel

I learn a lot when I sit and watch Chi interact with his sisters. His sisters are two rambunctious Manchester Terriers. He lacks their energy and their speed. He cannot outrace them in one of their dizzying races around the yard. He can’t jump so fast and high that he almost catches a squirrel by the tail.

Still, Chi has something the flashier pair lack, and he uses it — often without fanfare. He can lie quiet and motionless. When they crawl all over him, he sinks into himself with a deep sigh. He’ll close his eyes and pretend he’s asleep. They will paw at him, push him, lick him. None of it matters. He’s oblivious. Sometimes, he seems longsuffering. Other times, he seems stubborn.

He uses this with his humans as well. If we want to put him in the kennel, and he doesn’t want to be there, he refuses to move. Quite literally, he becomes as water. Completely limp. The effects are comical as we drag him (gently) across the bed or the sofa or the floor. He is a conscientious objector. He is passive resistance incarnate. If you try to pick him up, his limp dead weight is hard to lift. If he slips from your grasp, he sinks back into the sofa, only for the cycle to begin again.

Chi is illustrating the overcoming of adversity with the humor of a sage. Water has no real substance; it flows, it moves, it molds to hard substances. And, over time, it carves stone. Water is the ultimate example of acting without acting. We can do the same, by flowing through difficult situations. If chaos is exploding around you, remaining low to the ground and flowing with the tide will serve you well. You can observe, witness from this place.

All this, from “doing nothing.”

be water