Friday, November 21, 2014

Doggie Drama: Part 277654677654

We have Doggie Drama. This is not new drama, but old drama, repackaged and recycled and replayed. Because it is cold and Sam is so old, I put him on the bed, and I do have to lift him to get him on the bed, and Sam is a Happy Hound because he’s on the bed and he was the first one on the bed. But I have to put Sam on the bed first because if I put him on the bed after Lucas then Sam will snarl at Lucas and Lilith won’t get on the bed, until everyone is asleep, and if Lilith gets on the bed after everyone is asleep then Sam gets really upset and Lucas wants to go over and play peacekeeper, which makes things worse, by far.

I could and have called Lilith up on the bed first but when I do that Lucas really gets bent out of shape. She likes to sleep near me, which is Lucas’ spot and rather just find an area to sleep on both of them try to sleep on top of my head. You see why this won’t work don’t you?

So, I get Sam on the bed but he decides to plop down where my legs are supposed to go so I have to shift over. Now, Lilith would fit very well to where I just shift from, but Lucas has to land first and he gets as close to me as possible. Lilith steadfastly refuses to join us. I know she’ll wait until the lights are out and we’re asleep so I pick her up. Whoa! Lilith! That’s some solid mass of a girl dog! But she allows the lifting and when I put her on the bed, Sam snarls at her.

So, there’s Sam, on the lower left side of the bed, forcing me towards the center. Lucas is on the upper right, near my chest and he takes up as much room as I do. So Lilith Warrior Girl decides that frail and elderly Sam is too much to deal with; she plants between Lucas and the head of the bed, near my head, which makes Lucas squirm and twist trying to get closer to me than she is at the moment.

But this is doable. Everyone, well, everyone except me, is very comfortable. I have this odd thought, that it’s possible just to chase them all off the bed and try to rearrange them all, but they look so innocent and peaceful in their sleep, don’t they? Lucas, whose head is inches from my face, but consider the alternatives, there are worse part of the canine anatomy to have aimed at my nose, is snoring already. Lilith Girl Dog is sound asleep as well, contorted to fit the Gerrymandered spot she has claimed, but also strategically placed to share body heat with Lucas. Sam is alone but warm. His body rests against my legs and for a few moments Sam puts his chin on my shin. He won’t sleep with is head there but his is his way of connecting with me, to let me know he likes being on the bed when it’s cold, even if being above the floor freaks him out a little these days. Sam’s world is a dimly lit thing, full of fast moving and confusing images and sounds half heard. But at this moment, on the bed on a cold night, right before Sam drifts off to sleep, he is warm and Sam is a happy being. I can sleep with that thought.

At some point in the night Lucas stands up, licks my face, snuffles me in the ear, turns around three times, and drops as if he was just turned to stone by the angry sleep gods. Lilith gets up, paws at the covers, making a nest, and she too comes over to check my pulse, and then she touches down lightly. Sam wakes up and snarls at them both.


My sleep comes and goes. The dreams are short lived creatures who are forgotten as soon as they are born. Sam’s dreams are haunted and his legs kick and move during the night. Lilith’s sleep is punctuated by short high barks at times and her legs jerk in rhythm of some unknown beat that only she hears in her sleep. I reach out and my hand finds her side. Lilith breathes deeply and sighs. Almost immediately she returns to a deep sleep but at peace it now. Lucas raises his head for a second, maybe two, and then he snores again within the minute. Sam sleeps without dreams. My pack is at peace.


I drift off and slumber too. Then I hear the sound of a puppy in distress, a lost puppy, a little dog right outside of my window and I awake with a start. I can still hear the sound of the puppy’s cries and I almost get up. But The Three rest easy and as I lie in bed and listen I realize that there is no puppy outside, or at least, not outside my window. Somewhere out there this cold morning, there is a puppy locked out into the cold, bereft of his family and any understanding of why he is alone and isolated. This will be his life until they grow tired of him and discard him or he learns to be silent about his lot in life. There will be a few, a very few moments of attention each day but so many dogs are sentenced to life without parole, in solitary confinement.

Lucas knows I am awake and I sometimes think he can read the clock. It’s close enough to time to get up that he thinks he can provoke the awakening of the pack. He stands up, shakes hard, flapping his ears, and Sam moves off the bed and comes to poke me in the face with his nose. Lilith crawls towards me from a few inches away and Lucas, having jumped down off them bed to push Sam away, now puts his front paws on the edge to nose Lilith away from my attention.


I have managed to save but three of many of thousands. But each of these three were discarded, abandoned, and cast adrift in a world that holds very little hope for happy endings. These are my three, these are my pack, my family, and as long as I live there will be dogs whose lives are lived like this, and my life will be lived like this as well.

Take Care,
Mike



Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Letter, Part Two: The Hammer of Being Seventeen



Most seventeen year olds wouldn’t have written a letter to begin with. But then again, I didn’t have any points of reference. Dating isn’t something that had any manuals or 1-800 sex help numbers. It didn’t clarify my feelings that sex seemed to equate love. If a girl loved me she would have sex with me, right? And if she didn’t love me she wouldn’t sleep with me, right? And if I went home and got a hammer so I could get into that metal mailbox and get the letter back.

No, seriously, this was who I was when I was seventeen.

Very seriously I was going to get a hammer and breaking into that mail box. Of course, I would wait until about three in the morning to do it. Yes, I had a plan. Of course, I still lived with my father so I would have to sneak out of the house at three. That wasn’t very hard to do. Then I had to walk about a mile to where the mailbox was, and that was more difficult. The walk itself was easy but I had to make sure the one cop in town didn’t see me. I tried hiding the hammer under my tee shirt but it kept falling out. So there I was, at three in the morning, walking towards the courthouse square in Blakely Georgia with a hammer in my hand.

In that one mile, about three cars passed by and each time I would leap into the shadows as if I were an assassin. No one, ever, was more nervous about their mission than I. By the time I got to where the box was I was sweating profusely and I was also covered in dirt from diving for cover, like James T Kirk, so many times. I didn’t care. The box had to die, be gutted, the letter retrieved, and I would be free.

I knew I had to act fast. The mailbox was right under a street light. Why didn’t I think about that? Why didn’t I bring a pellet gun to kill the light first? I could go back. I looked around. The streets were empty. Now or never! I went to front of the box and had this insane idea of reaching into it. But suddenly I realized there was writing on the front of the box: “All mail picked up at 5:00PM Daily”.

I had mailed the letter at about ten in the morning. It was gone.


This is a feeling that most teenagers can relate to once they’ve hit the send button and realize what they just sent in a text message cannot be recalled. The thing is, the internet is forever and letters, well, that one might as well been. I saw the headlights of a car and I panicked. I put the hammer in the mailbox’s chute and let it fall. There was an ominous and very loud, “Boom!” as it hit the empty bottom. I just kept walking and the one cop on duty stopped and offered me a ride. Maybe he was drunk. Maybe he was bored. Maybe he just wondered what the hell was going on. But he rode me around for about an hour lecturing me on the dangers of loitering and how crime was a slippery slope. Once I started out being bored and wandering around at night I would soon start shop lifting and that would lead to bank robbery and eventually Communism. But that letter was one its way. The only way out now was to break into the post office. Hey! They cop was right!


I sat in my room and watched the sun come up. The morning traffic picked up and I wondered if I could talk to the post office people and get them to give me the letter back. It occurred to me that I had never heard of anything like this. Normal people went on dates, seemed to stress not at all about it, and life went on. I wrote one letter and the world was coming to an end. What was wrong with me? The idea of trying to pass the letter off as apocryphal came to me in a rush. I could always deny that I wrote it. Yes, someone forged the letter in my name that seemed very reasonable. I could imagine trying to explain this theory to her father and that caused a tsunami of fear to wash over me. I could jump out of the window and hope the fall killed me.

Truly, it was that bad. There wasn’t any way for me to relieve the pressure of being in love with a girl that I couldn’t speak to without falling apart. Because she did live twenty-five miles away all the calls were long distance and my father was adamant that no long distance calls were to be made from his phone. But that was an excuse of convenience; I simply lacked the social skills to talk to her. Period. The sun came up on Day One. The letter, short of some miraculous accident that caused the postal carrier to burst into flames, and for that I prayed, would be delivered in two days, maybe three, and there was no telling what would happen after that.

You might think I’m entertaining hyperbole when I tell you some of the things that ran screaming through my mind but I’m not. I thought she, or her parents, might call the Sheriff for harassing her. Then I thought she might call the record company and have me sued for using the lyrics. Then I had this nightmarish vision of where her father contacted my father and we were all gathered together for me to explain myself, and that frightened me much more than any other scenario. I did what I always did when my mind went into overdrive; I drank. A lot.

This was the vicious cycle I commuted on in my day to day life; I would imagine the worst case scenario and then augment it with distilled paranoia. I would then try to figure a way out of the worst case mess I had made and replay in my mind what each party would say or do. Then I would sink into a depression over what had happened and have the repeating epiphany that I would never be able to see her again much less have any sort of relationship with her, and my life, at age seventeen, was over.

 Day Three rolled around and I was already thinking about hitting the road. I would jump a train and just go. I was pretty sure warrants had already been issued for my arrest and my father had begun missing the hammer. You forgot about the hammer, didn’t you? I had, too, don’t worry. I was walking by the phone when it rang and just by instinct, answered it.
“Mike? That was the sweetest letter I ever got” and she started crying.

Take Care,
Mike






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Letter






I remember standing in front of one of those big blue mailboxes with a letter in my hand. I was seventeen years old, and really I was a lot younger than that, and I had sat down the day before to hand write a letter to the girl I loved. There was no way I could express my feeling other than through someone else’s work so I had laboriously copied the lyric to a song on a piece of notebook paper. The song was “Say Hello” by Heart and I wasn’t sure I had them right at all, but what I had written sounded good, at least to me. But now I had to send it. I felt as if I stood upon a precipice and looked down a thousand miles to craggy rocks awash on cold cruel water.

Quasimodo had better people skills than I. A man being attacked by hornets in a phone booth during a sandstorm at midnight had more legible handwriting than I could have produced in a month’s time. Someone on a ten day drinking binge with multiple personality disorder with a meth IV drip was more decisive. My hands shook. I mouth was dry. My knees felt as if they might buckle at any moment. There were some real issues here.


After all, she lived twenty-five miles away. I didn’t have access to a car but I had already figured out that if I walked four miles an hour I could get there by lunch if I started at sunrise. But what if she didn’t get the letter? What if this was the one mailbox that never was checked? What if the envelope opened after I dropped it in and what if the stamp fell off and what if she threw it away when she got it?

“What cha doing?”

Damn. Wouldn’t you know it? Here I am trying to write during my lunch hour and someone has snuck up on me. I parked my truck a million miles from anything else to write on my laptop and now there’s someone who wants to talk.

“Writing my mother an email, she’s not feeling well.” That’s what I usually say. People tend to leave me alone after that. But this is a man who really wants someone to talk to during his lunch hour and I was the only one around.

“She okay?” He asks. “She ain’t dying or nothing like that is she?”

He means well. Really, you have to take it in the spirit is was given.  I assure him that everyone will live through this event.
“How come you’re always writing at lunch? How come you don’t do nothing else?” And I realize that I’ve been watched. I had no idea people knew I wrote at lunch.

“It’s the most effective form of communication that I have.” I tell him. “And I really have to get back to it before lunch is over with.”
“How come you listen to elevator music?” He asks, ignoring the fact that I’m trying to disengage.
“It’s soothing.” I reply and begin to roll the window up. I’ve given up explaining classical music to the masses.
“Ain’t you got a light?” he asks and produces a cigarette.
“Sorry, no” and I look down at my laptop. I check my peripheral vision. He’s still there but he’s looking around. I turn the radio up a notch and he retreats.

I couldn’t mail the letter. I decided to tear it up into a billion pieces so no one could read it, because there are people out there sorting through bits of paper alongside the road who do that sort of thing, and just forget about it. I walked a couple of blocks and then walked back. The mailbox sat there silently mocking me. It refused to be of any use to me at all, except passively. Either stick it in or walk away. I was horrified at the metaphor when I made it so many years ago. Really, this was a spiritual journey.

Tap, tap, tap!

I roll the window down again.

“My mama died of cancer, it was ten year ago March, will you tell your mama I said get well soon?”

I sigh. “Yeah, I will, thanks. But she’s just got a bad cold, it’s not the flu or anything like that.” And I realize this might be it. But he turns around and walks away. I watch him as he makes his way back to his truck and I wonder what all of this was about.


I stood there in front of the mail box and wondered how long it would take the letter to get to her. I knew that now it was inside that damn blue box the die was cast. A sudden jolt of fear hit me when I thought that her mother, or worse, her father might read it. I would die if her father read it. He would kill me. How long could it take to get there? What if she threw it away? What if it never arrived? What if, months from this day, I asked her about it and she said she threw it away? How long would I hope that she read it before I gave up? If it took three days to get there, couldn’t count the weekend, then by Tuesday at the latest, and she might write me back, another three days, so maybe a week from Friday, but what if she didn’t read it?

I was writing this down and realized that my people skills were terrible back then. I was so afraid of that girl and considering all things, she should have been afraid of me, too. But that was what it was all about, is trying to get over the fear and everything else, and trying to figure it all out. We never did that. I never really got that much better with people.

Tap, tap, tap!

“Yeah?”

“What kind of cancer?”

“Huh?”

“You mama died of cancer, what kind?” I asked.

He’s just sitting in his truck looking off into space and I get in.

“It wasn’t bad, was it, I mean, what kind was it?” It’s all I can think to say.
“It was lung cancer,” he said, “I know I ought not smoke but it’s been hard as hell since they cut back my hours, you know, and my wife, she smokes, we’re trying to quit but it’s harder for two people to quit than one, ain’t it?”

“I think so, yeah, really.” And it’s true.
“But mama hung on for a while, after the chemo took everything from her, and she losted her hair…”

“That’s Garth Brooks, right?”

“Yeah,” he turns the music up, “but mama hung in there…”


Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sam's Door




Sam woofs in a horse whisper now. There is no volume in his voice and there seem to be no force behind the sound. If the house catches on fire and Sam is the only one awake we will burn. Sam sounded houndish all his life until he came down with a URI last August. He had a bray that would carry in the woods and there were creatures who knew that voice and feared that voice. This was Sam. This was a sleek black hunter who was built for speed and knew how to use it. Head down, legs churning, body whipping like a snake in short grass and speed, Sam. I never saw a small mammal get out of the way fast enough and when Sam and Bert hunted as a team they pushed fear ahead of them in a distorted wave of chaos. Run, run, blindly, run hard, allow panic to take over for there is nothing else but every effort to get away and there is no escape except for the possibility that there will be someone who freezes and allows the rest to run.

It was nearly a military thing when those two hit the woods. Sam’s speed was always the main weapon, always the defining part of the hunt, and Bert was more than content to play the part of the closer. Whenever the prey ran from Sam, ran without hope or prayer, Sam always was able to use his skill to turn the prey towards Bert. This was not the most fleet hunter afoot but Bert was strong, barrel chested and powerful. If Sam was the hammer then Bert was the anvil. Sam was a Shaker of Death, grabbing armadillos by their heads and snapping their necks in an instant but Bert was a brawler. He went in head first, mouth open, ears back, snarling like a lion, and he was all about the fight. I saw him collide with a raccoon one time and I was certain Bert would take a lot of damage from it but the power in his jaws was overwhelming; a bite to the throat, hard, fast, true, and it was done.

I learned everything I wanted to know about pack hunting from those two and it made me feel much safer inside my home. These were not fully domesticated pets who would be defenseless if the time came. These were well armed partisan fighters who did not live to hunt or hunt o live, but they had the skill they needed to keep the homeland safe from those who might trespass. I didn’t realize how much those two had aged until I got a puppy. Getting a very young dog suddenly showed me that both my beloved dogs were not only getting old they were already there.

Sam stood at the wall this morning and scratched at it to be let out. He lost the door. He’s lost inside his own home. He’s in the bedroom trying to find his way back out again and I hope he doesn’t get into the woods with this sort of confusion.

So much, so very much, has happened in his fourteen years on this earth and as it winds down to the bitter end I did not expect it to look like this at all. Somewhere the spirit resists the decay of the mind and the body, and is that all there is left?

Will I recognize this in the mirror some day?

Will you?

Take Care,

Mike

Monday, November 17, 2014

Having Lunch With Eddie Munster and the Queen of Sheba

There is nothing worse than an exercise buzz being killed off by someone who couldn’t do a sit up if her head was sitting in a fire ant mound and she was covered in molasses. Odd word, “molasses” and it does occur to me that I might have never used it in a sentence before that wasn’t describing someone slow, which by the way, I have to find another metaphor now because where you find someone in a restaurant who is stuffing themselves you are equally likely to find someone who is moving like, uh, damn, see the problem here?
Speaking of odd words, I woke up last night and realized I didn’t know where Sheba is or was for that matter and I got up and Google Maps tells me it’s in Yemen and Ethiopia. It may seem a bit of a disconnect but the woman who was killing herself at the pizza buffet looked, hmmm, foreign and I was trying to figure out what country she might have hailed from. The details about people bother me when they shouldn’t and do not bother me when they should, but this woman might have been from anywhere in the Mediterranean. Not that she looked like the Queen of Sheba or hell, she might have for all we know, but there she was sitting with her legs gapped open as wide as they could get, her thighs hiding anything that might have needed hiding, and pizza is the last thing I would have used as a suicide weapon, but clearly she was on the right path.

I had to move to another table, really. But the woman wasn’t the real problem. The real and true problem here was her son, and they looked so much alike it’s impossible to think he might have been anything other, but maybe a clone. Now, this was a young man, who might have been every bit of about fifteen, who had women figured out. His hair was slicked back like I haven’t seen since those guys from the fifties. I’m glad we’re done with the fifties. The fifties sucked. But here’s a James Dean wannabe and, step back ladies, because he has on a Burger King jacket. Nothing says a man is a class act like menswear from a fastfood joint. But let’s not stop there, why on earth would we? He has on enough body spray to ignite spontaneously if the humidity drops one half of one percent. How does one apply that much perfume? Was there a dunking stool? Was there a sudden shower of cheap body spray? Was there a small striped mammal using different ammo?

Do women find that attractive? I’ve never had a woman tell me she didn’t like the way I smelled and longingly yearned for the chemical spill experience. I’ve never had a woman buy me a ten gallon jug of cologne.

He looks a little like Eddie Munster. He’s in line at the salad bar ahead of me, nearly killing me, and he’s texting with one hand and trying to fill up a plate with the other. Text, put plate down, put item on plate, text, pick plate up, move an inch or so… Then he hoses it down with Ranch Dressing.

So this place doesn’t have waitstaff. They have a guy that cleans off the tables and he isn’t happy with me for switching seats. Then he goes over to Sheba and Eddie’s table and you can see it on his face. WHOA! DUDE! Eddie is eating with one hand and texting with another. But he’s got a landfill’s worth of paper napkins covering his Burger King jacket. Yeah, don’t want to ruin that!

I have this odd vision of this guy’s wedding. I can see Sheba dressed in all black, in mourning over losing him to some woman she doesn’t think is worthy. I can see Eddie in something that has ruffles in front to catch falling food and a Burger King logo on the back. I can see his eight months pregnant girlfriend who has found a job working at home from an ad she saw in the newspaper when she was trying to light the grill in back of the trailer. But they have their own reality television show at the moment because the fetus has become the first American to be declared obese before birth.

This whole thing is going to turn into some science fiction horror story when it’s discovered that the GMO’s that are floating around everywhere are actually using us as a medium to evolve within. Human who consume vast amounts of genetically modified food, also consume vast amounts of genetically modified DNA. Given a warm host, enough generations of trying, and eventually we’ll spawn some sort of odd organism that exists within humans and lives off High Fructose Corn Syrup.

For all we know, we’re already there.


Look around you. People look pregnant. They appear to be gestating. And they’re giving birth to young who are already hosts to the organism that they have been carrying for so long. We go to a great deal of effort to keep these things alive. We’ll avoid activity that might harm it. But most of all we’re changing our diets to suit the needs and desires of genetically modified thing that grows inside of our bodies.


I can see there being a reality television show that, shockingly, embraces our inner obesity as evolution. Here are creatures who carry the greatest amount of DNA within them since time began. Within those bodies are chromosomes with DNA sequences that nature never intended. Like the mosquito that takes blood samples from a dozen hosts, there’s no telling what will become of the DNA inside, and perhaps something new and exciting will arrive one day.

Or it might be killing us. That’s the one downside to this adventure. Science fiction and a good storyline aside for a moment, the idea that we’re going to turn into another species because our food has been played with to the point it’s no long nutritious, can be sold to the fans of Honey Boo Boo, and sold by the soft drink industry, but the rest of us?

We’ll have to see what sort of ratings the show gets first.

Take Care,
Mike







Saturday, November 15, 2014

The BARC 5K: Cold Puppies and a Bad Knee

Thursday the sun came up and my right knee informed me that walking would be interesting and running would be out of the question. Period. There would be no 5K Saturday morning. There would be no escaping the Zombie Apocalypse. At this point I would look towards Saturday morning as a time of gentle reflection with my laptop on top of the blankets, the dogs snoozing at my side, and all thoughts of the multi-colored and poofy tutu pushed back until next year. I checked the site where the money was announced and we were still off by $175.00. We had set a goal too high it seems and we would just have to wait until next year.

Friday morning the money had not moved a bit so I assumed interest in seeing a grown man run in a multi colored poofy tutu had dwindled to nothing. I sent an email to the woman who was running the show to tell her since the money had not been raised I would be sleeping in Saturday, but we gave it a good effort right? And things just didn’t work out and besides it was going to be the coldest day of the year so far. Sleeping in was a really great idea. Writing as the sun rose and under blanket with dogs snoozing peacefully at my side…yes.

We made the money, Firesmith, get your ass up and into that damn tutu.

Okay, so she was a little bit more polite than that but we are talking about a rescue organization strapped for cash and overrun with abandoned dogs.  A little of ten puppies have just been rescued. It’s Dog Abandonment Season, also known as The Holidays where people who cannot afford cheap plastic shit from Wal-Mart that breaks in a week throw their dogs away and people give puppies as gifts not realizing the animals are lifelong commitments.

So I have a choice; I can nurse my knee and deny some dogs out there a good home with loving families or I can suck it up and get my ass out of bed and on the road.

It is seriously cold for South Georgia. When I get up it’s 34 degrees and I need coffee. My knee tells me it’s staying in bed. I tell my knee that for once in its life it is expendable. We’re getting up. We’re strapping on our running shoes. We’re going to wear a pair of shorts and show some leg! I walk outside and realize that I am not showing any leg in this kind of weather, no, I am not. Sweats will do. Sweats are the only way I can talk the rest of my body into this. My right knee says no. It gets kidnapped.

I have a simple plan. Run as slowly as I can and still call it a run. Run as far as I can until the pain stops me. Then walk as fast and as far as I can until I can’t. The plan includes the idea that it might take an hour to go three point one miles. The idea also includes the idea that if it gets bad enough I might not finish, but that will also include me dragging myself along on my damn elbows before I give up. The attitude is right. The knee is coming along for the ride.

The beginning feels good. It’s cold so the running loosens up the body and warms the blood. The knee protests bit it can. I don’t have a watch, and there are no markers. I have no idea what my pace might be. But that’s not the point. The point is to keep going. Keep moving forward. Keep moving as fast as possible. The knee says no. The attitude says the knee is coming along for the ride.

I have to keep pushing the knee the right way. I can’t start favoring the left knee too much or I might injure it as well. I have to run slow. Every slight incline slows me down more. I keep pace with another runner for a very long time but he slowly pulls away. I can’t keep up with him. At my heels is someone else who seems to be trying to close the gap. He finally passes me but I can keep him within sight, at least.

There are no markers. There is no timer. There is nothing there but the road. The pain isn’t building but it reminds me that I’m not 100%. There is no reason to push it. I could walk the rest of the way and still get the donations. I’m wearing the tutu and my time will be miserable anyway. Walk, Mike, walk the rest of the race and it will be okay. No one is keeping up with anything except that you ran it, no one says you have to run it well. The knee is tired of the attitude.

At the final turn I am tired of the knee. I am tired of the idea that my worse time ever has to be worse than it already is. At the final turn I remember that there are ten puppies, ten, who someone took in, and all I have to do is run a race as miserably as I can. In the distance I can see the finish line. I pick up the pace. The guy that passed me is closer. The knee protests but I push it. Come on dammit, it’s not like you have ten puppies to take care of, move your ass! Then it’s there, the second wind, the will to do better than the worst time ever which I’ve already accomplished. There are people out there taking in foster dogs, sick dogs, wounded and damaged dogs, and all I have to do is this, this one thing, and I can help them. The knee screams as I run flat out, wobbly, wearing a tutu, a man whose limitations are clearly defined by age, by the cold, by the lack of training, but whose will to save dogs cannot be denied. I do not have ten puppies to care for. I cannot foster another dog yet. But I can run with the worst of them, and I can do it wearing a tutu!

If you really want to help rescue dogs, find a way, create a way, get in touch with your inner tutu, and no matter your time or your knees, it is a race you will win.

Take Care,
Mike



Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Three In the Morning

The Three, Sam, Lucas, and Lilith, are the Keepers of Sleep and they are also the Sled Dogs of The Dawn. If I wake in the middle of the night, through some dream or my uneasiness, all I have to do is listen for the breath of three animals. I know who is where by the sound of their lungs. Lucas will always be close, right next to me, his shattered face leaking air yet comforting, Lilith with her slight sound of air fueling her big heart, and Sam’s old rattle, still fighting for life, in the corner, defending his dreams with past glory and hunting. The longer I keep company with dogs the more I realize they keep us sane and human.

Of course, Lilith wants not only to get of twenty minutes early but she decides she will be Cuddle Mutt in full view of her brothers and on the very edge of the bed. Lucas decides to grab her by the collar and pull her down. Sam decides to get into the middle of all this and snarl at everyone. Yes, keeping me sane and human, yes, I see that in them right now, I do.

The morning is sticky, nearly, with humidity and there’s a feel that the weather’s on the change. It’s sixty an hour before dawn yet the forecast is for it to be below forty this time tomorrow morning. The dogs feel it. Lilith uses the cooler air as fuel and she runs great circles around Lucas who gamely tries to keep up with her. It’s dark, really dark, but I can hear the footfall of my Little Girl Dog and I try to make sure she knows where I am too. She crashes into Lucas and they tussle in the darkness, sounding all the world as if there are two wild animals trying to kill one another. Every prey animal within earshot has to be on the move at the noise. Who would dare stay were the monsters play?

I actually get breakfast started without anyone underfoot or without telling anyone to get out of the kitchen. They all rush in at once, tails wagging, biting at one another’s faces, pushing, shoving, then they discover there is food in the bowls and everyone settles down to feed. There is a great crunching of kibble and the morning begins as it should.

As I eat I am surrounded. Lilith and Sam stay back away from me but Lucas watches every bite, drool beginning to stalactite from the corner of his mouth like liquid fangs. He never gets fed from the table, never will, but there is that hope, like buying a lottery ticket. Lucas lives for the day that all his numbers hit and I decide to let him eat off my plate on the table, which just is as likely as me winning the lottery. I never buy lottery tickets.

Lilith’s dalliance with the table is more subtle, at least in comparison to Lucas’. She’s wait until all the food is gone and I’m reading the morning news and she’ll jump up on my chair and put one paw on the table. She knows I might ignore her advances if she just lands on the chair, but the paw on the table must be dealt with. She also knows I will not be harsh with her. By loving on her it encourages her to paw the table but so what? This is her way of telling me she wants attention and she needs to be hugged a bit before I leave. This is the second time of the morning she’s asked me to spend some time with her. Jealous of the love fest, Lucas comes in on the other side and he gets half the attention and Lilith absorbs the other half. Sam is lying on the floor ignoring us all.


At least I thought he was.


I get out of the shower and go back into the bedroom and there is Sam, on the bed, a place no one is allowed if I’m not there. Not only is Sam on the bed, but he’s managed to get halfway under the covers. It’s a warm morning so I know he isn’t cold. Sam holds himself very still waiting to see if he’ll get scolded for trespass. I get dressed and slip into bed beside Sam, and pet his ears. He’s an old and crazy dog. His time here is no longer measured in years but maybe months, maybe weeks, maybe days or hours. I pull Sam close and shoo the others off the bed as they try to intrude. They know. They understand. Sam needs to feel loved. He needs to feed special and valued. I wrap Sam up in the blanket and hold him, petting his ears the way he loves them to be petted. After a few minutes he falls asleep and I slip out of bed to get ready for work.

I called in sick one morning because it was very cold and it was raining. All three were in the bed with me and there just was no way I was going to leave them out in that weather when I could have stayed home with them and been this warm. There are books to read when warmed by dogs. The body heat of those who love you cannot be denied as one of the greatest sources of comfort known.


When I sit down to put my boots on Lucas crashes his face into mine, in a friendly sort of way, to let me know he’s the last to get any individual attention. My Gentle Giant knows the others must be loved too, but he thinks he’s special. He knows he’s special. He knows that he’s the dog that sleeps by my side and the dog who, in the middle of the night when I awake and need a touchstone to make sure I am still sane, Lucas will be that dog.

Take Care,

Mike