Sunday, December 4, 2016

Two Years of The Tyger




Tyger Linn, in the pen.


It’s a call that has gone out, and will go out, time and time again. “Urgent”  “PTS Today” “Tomorrow will be too late” and far too often the call isn’t heard, or it’s ignored, or there just isn’t anyone at the right place at the right time. Dogs die. They die every day. They die by the hundreds and by the thousands and those who cry into the darkness waiting for the call to be heard get up and do it over and over and over again.

I’ve seen those posts. I’ve seen the photos. I’ve heard the call but at the time I had three dogs, and one of them was on his last legs, and he was not totally right in the head, at best. But there she was; a tiny brindle pit girl who had gotten into a fight at the shelter. Time had run out on her. But someone had taken a photo. Someone had called out into the internet and asked for a foster, a rescue, a home, a kennel, someone, anyone, today is the last day of her life.

A thousand years ago, maybe even further back in time than that, when I was in High School, there was a brindle Pit who visited the school, got fed pieces of sandwiches from the students at lunch, and we called her “Tiger”. There were times Tiger and I would sit beside my car in the parking lot and I would drink Jack Daniels and feed her, and she would love me. I think there were times that brindle pit was the only person who did. Now I might be the only person who loved the brindle pit.

The tiny female pit was named Tyger Linn and she came to live with me, as a foster.  On her second day here she bit me on the hand, down to the bone, when she fought with the older dog, Sam, and I realized if I told anyone Tyger had bitten me they would kill her. She hadn’t had her shots yet. Right then and there I decided that Tyger Linn would stay with me, in my home, ever it may bring. 
Official Adoption Photo


This hasn’t been easy. Tyger was damaged, belligerent, reactive, and she was afraid. Tyger was not loved. She was not kept in a warm place and given enough food. Love, home, and food, will cure damn near anything wrong with any dog.

But this isn’t about me getting a dog two years ago today. This isn’t even about Tyger Linn getting a home, and a name, and being able to chase squirrels in the woods. You see, this is all about the people who took the photo and made the call, and tried to save a dog’s life, because without those people, and those people are still there and they are still calling, this never would have happened. These people, day after day after day, try to save lives. Sometimes they fail, often they do, in fact, yet they are still on the front line of the war, and they fight like hell every day, and sometimes, they win, and this is all they ever get; a photo of a dog once on Death Row, the minutes slipping away, now sleeping on a sofa inside a warm home.
So here’s what December the fifth, 2014, was really all about. It was all about people who tried to save the life of a dog, and this time, they scored big for a little striped Pittie girl dog. The next time you read something about a dog about to die, think about the people working behind the scenes and trying to save lives. Or better yet, if you know someone working at a shelter, just walk in give them a hug, and tell them thank you. 

Tell them Tyger Linn sent you. It won’t matter if they know her or not.

For my part, I would like to thank about a dozen people, but three stand out.
Michelle, Kat, Britt, thank you.

Take Care,
Mike.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Writing.



It’s never a question as to if I can write. It’s always a question as to if I have time, or if my environment will allow it. The number of human beings that I can allow close to me is limited to the number who understands, or at least will try to understand, that I cannot stop writing, and there are times that I must write. This condition does not allow for transgression. It is a terminal illness held at bay by text. It is addiction I have no intention towards a cure. It defines most clearly who I am inside the confines of my own mind, and without it I fear the bare walls that would appear.

I did not ask for this nor did I seek it out. It appeared quite out of the blue and from the steppes of the keyboard yet I seek no release. Perhaps this is my sentence, no pun intended, for the crime of nonstop thought, or reading too much, or believing those people who live only within fiction deserve company and a country. The idea that those whose lives are only defined in ink or binary code, are citizens somehow. That they live as surely, perhaps more surely than most humans and they are as real as any other reality, is an alien thought to those who do not read or do not write. For those of us who do there is nearly a religious adherence to these lives and what they mean and have meant and will mean. Reading and writing are both a sacrament to the gospel of literacy. And we all come to pray in the church of creativity.

Were you to travel into the woods, deep away from the noise and light of civilization you might come to the shack of a Hermit, and discover carvings made of wood on a shelf. These are not David, nor the work of anyone who has molded stone with sweat and love, nor are they beautiful or worthy of some place under a light in front of a crowd. But they are the heart and soul of someone who is compelled to carve, to work the grain until a face or a shape appears, and no less that man am I. Little do I care for bound books with my name sideways on the spine, or a place on a best seller list; I wish only to write.

The sculptor removes all the stone which does not serve him or all the wood that covers the figure within. The composer adds notes in the air until they land on a piece of paper before her fingertips, to be remembered and recalled at will. The artist who paints causes a stream or a river, or perhaps an ocean to flood a blank canvas, and then it stops, never to flow again, for it has frozen over with the soul of the artist contained within each pigmented wave and whirlpool. The singer casts her voice into the air and captures hearts. The violinist turns strings into the airy spirits of humankind that echo in the wind. None of this requires an audience nor should it. Yet with each reader, for each member of the concert hall, each person in a museum or a gallery, there is a gift given and a yearning awakened in all. In every page of every book there is a heartbeat. In every stroke of a brush there is the lifeblood of someone who will never die. Every lens that snaps shut captures not just a moment in time, but that moment frozen in the eye of someone who saw something that everyone else might have missed.

Everything you see in the human world, each door knob and each appliance, each lamp shade and each building, was drawn by someone, somewhere, before it came into being. For something to appear in reality it had to first appear in the human mind. There are those who would tell you God created the Universe and if so this being created Hell, and just so, then rightfully, for if we are truly created by that creature who would form both paradise and the end of everything good and beautiful, then we humans do the same. We design both marvels and horrors. We build enormous works of arts and we waste mountains. We are both the Gods of this Earth just as we create it into a hell.

We wonder that some god does not step in to undo the destruction of its creation yet perhaps we are indeed made into such an image for we do not step in either, where this god fears to tread.

Perhaps, and in this I shall be laughed at by many, perhaps the artists are the angels of the human world, those who create and sing, and play, and paint, and write, so human beings can see a side of their own world that is in its own right divine. Are there not great pieces of music meant to be played with a choir to sing and a symphony to play, in a great hall, for an audience of thousands? And is there not someone out there who write of us a thing knowing full well an audience of ten would be much to expect? Yet every leaf on any great tree shares the divinity with the mighty boughs of the tree.


Is this creativity that we express, be it in song or written word or paint or dance, is any of this anything but a meager salve for the woes that each of us carry? Do we really spark the human heart in ways that matter? Is all of this, any of this, perhaps, maybe some of this, more than just the sum of the words or the breath of the lungs, or the eye that captures a moment, is any of this more than who we are?

Is this the way that we can be more than who we are?

Take Care,
Mike








Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Diminished Tyger Linn






One thing I discovered once I moved into the woods is Nature doesn’t give a damn about anyone. I vowed to live in peace with the natural world and a couple of years after I was here a massive tree fell on my house. I vowed not to kill venomous snakes and that worked out fine until Lucas got zapped. Greyson Charlotte has been tagged once and Tyger Linn has been bitten three times this year alone. Tyger Linn goes looking for trouble out in the back acre and she’s found it on more than a few occasions. I suspect when she got outside the fenced in world she got a very good look at who is looking in from the outside, and why the fence is there.

If you follow American football at all, you know who Cam Newton is, or who he was, but last year he was being described as the best athlete to ever play the game and like to break records and rewrite the book on how the game is played. Unfortunately, Newton began to believe the hype and in the Super Bowl, he was hit hard, early, and often, by a defense who suspected that Newton’s team was a one-man show. Newton crumbled under the pressure and this year his team is in dead last place and the show is pretty much over.

Tyger Linn set up her own fiefdom in the back acre terrorizing snakes, squirrels and other small mammals, but once she slipped into the natural world outside the fence I think she discovered, much like I did, that Nature doesn’t give a damn about anyone.

I have no idea where Tyger Linn and Lilith Anne went when they got out, but I do know they spent the entire time in the wild. That’s three nights in Coyote Country and there had to be some sort of inter action between the two domesticated canines and their wild relatives. I’m also pretty sure they have already met, through scent, vocalizations, and maybe even by sight, but there was always that fence. Now, out in the open and without anyone else around, they meet in the wild. Tyger came home with a lot of scratches but no bite marks so I’m pretty sure she and the Coyotes didn’t tangle. Yet there had to be some sort of “Oh Hai” moment where both Tyger and Lilith realized they were not in Kansas anymore.

I am lucky to have them back and I know it.

The real issue out there is we’re in a drought right now and water is hard to find. All the seasonal streams and ponds have gone dry. How those two found any water to drink at all is beyond me and it’s likely they didn’t find very much at all if any. A dog can die in three days without water. I left a bucket of water outside for them if they came back while I was gone and when I did get home and found them both here, I’m pretty sure that bucket of water was something they camped out with until my return.

Now they are both home and both safe again. Lilith shows no signs of trauma, other than the scars from the myriad of ticks I pulled off of her. After I gave them all medication to kill ticks I found dead ticks everywhere in the house. But Tyger Linn took some damage out there. The physical part of it, the rash, the scratches, the dehydration and hunger, all of that has disappeared in the last two weeks. But Tyger Linn, resident huntress of Hickory Head, has had her bell rung; she is not the same dog that left here.

Before the Great Adventure, Tyger would run at top speed through the woods in the back acre in front of me, darting in and out and around the trees, Lady of the Land, scaring the tree rats and seeking out new prey. Now she runs out in front of me, but never out of sight or very far. She stays closer to Lilith now and Tyger Linn, always the last one out of the woods, is now the first one back to the door. Once Tyger raced the Cousins to the door to get out and now she waits for Lilith to get up and move. Whatever happened out there, Tyger Linn has decided that Lilith is the One True Goddess and it shows.

Yesterday I was petting Tyger and Lilith came up and simply pushed her out of the way. Tyger retreated and just sat there looking hurt instead of pushing back. That’s never happened. Tyger has never backed down from any dog at any size at any time, and that’s been a real issue. Tyger isn’t overly aggressive but she has always been assertive. I’ve never seen her get pushed without pushing back, hard.

When the two came home both seemed very sore, likely from sleeping on the hard ground for so long, and they both seemed stunned and traumatized. Lilith has come back from that but Tyger Linn still seems a little freaked out. Tyger would sleep on the bed with me but she never had to have full body contact and now she does. She gets up in the night to reposition herself closer to me if I have moved. She nudges my face with her head more often than she did before, as if she needs me to reassure her that everything is okay.

Like the football player who discovers he isn’t all that, Tyger Linn has discovered nature doesn’t give a damn if Tyger rules the world on the inside of the fence. Outside the fence, Nature runs wild and savage and once again, I’m lucky to have them both back at home with me. But Tyger Linn’s attitude is still out there in the woods somewhere. Her poise is gone now, and she realizes that the fence is there not just to keep her in, but to keep a lot of things out.

Take Care,
Mike