Friday, January 30, 2015

The Continuing Adventures of Mullet Man and the Quest for Cheap Beer.



So there’s this guy I see on the way to lunch every day who I called Mullet Man when I first saw him, back in July of last year. Mullet Man had one of those really long in the back really short in the front haircuts that you see guys living in single wide trailers in back of their mama’s house sporting. There he was walking down the road with a twelve pack of beer in a Wal Mart plastic bag, hoofing it along the highway, in the middle of some really warm weather. The slope of the shoulder caused some instability in his walking, that and he was wearing flip flops, and I almost stopped to suggest that he break the twelve pack into two sixes and use two bags but I will never suggest someone get another plastic Wal Mart bag for any reason.

Mullet Man evolved. I saw him a couple of months ago on a bike, a bicycle that is, and he had the twelve pack hanging off one of the handle bars and that was really causing him to steer erratically. But even when I saw him without the beer he seemed ill at ease on the bike. He’s a young guy, in his early twenties somewhere, and there was a time everyone road a bike and everyone was good at it, too. But he steers like he’s navigating a mine field during a hailstorm while having to pee really badly. Mullet Man has no skills on two wheels.

With the advent of much cooler weather, Mullet Man has allowed his hair to grow out uniformly and he is now sporting The Epic Beard. We’ll still call him Mullet Man because Mountain Man suggests manhood to some degree or another and anyone who rides to Wal Mart on a bike to get a twelve pack of Natty hasn’t reached the Age Of Reason quite yet. Call me judgmental, but getting a car would be much higher on my list of things to spend money on rather than cheap beer.

If this story could get any stranger, and it could you know, I saw Mullet Man on his bike, with The Epic Beard, and he was holed up against the rain under the awning of a small store. It was raining nails and hammers and the thought occurred to me that Mullet Man had no beer on him. Would he get beer at the small store or would be continue the quest for Natty O’ Wally? Of course, I could have stopped and offered to help, but again, helping someone buy cheap beer from Wal Mart isn’t exactly doing that person a world of good, is it?


I stopped at the cheap gas station on the way home that day and it was still coming down like the water was pissed off at someone for sleeping with its wife. I was going to take the back roads because when it’s raining like this only people like me take the back roads. I drive slowly and even more slowly during hurricane and biblical floods. Mullet Man had taken refuge there, and made it another three or four miles, but he was in a world of hurt. He has to cross over an overpass to get to the next bit of sidewalk and there’s a half mile of busy four lane blocking his way. Wal-Mart, mythical land of cheap beer and infinite Chinese Plastics, is still a couple of miles away. I have no idea how he plans to navigate back home once it gets dark, but as it stands right now, he’ll either have to buy more expensive cheap beer, turn away from the Promised Land, or press on, at the risk of his life.


This is where I sit in my truck and realize there are things I will do for dogs that I just cannot bring myself to do for people. I’ll stop in the middle of nowhere and pick up a smelly little stray dog and wind up losing my life’s savings trying to cure it of cancer but I won’t give Mullet Man a ride. This seems like a really bad idea the more I think about it. First off, I see this guy every day, more or less, and if he sees me as transportation, it will end poorly for me. Second, his quest is not worth his life but he doesn’t realize it. Or maybe he believes his life is worth risking for a twelve pack and that’s not damage I know how to undo. At the moment he’s standing there, pressed up against the wall with nothing but a bicycle to shield him from rain that’s falling an inch an hour, soaking wet with The Epic Beard, does it not occur to him that he’s in a bad, bad, space?

There’s never been a stray who I have picked up that didn’t display some sort of happiness and gratitude for having its position relieved. Yet I have this feeling if I offered Mullet Man a ride back home he would protest and ask if I wouldn’t take him forward on his way. He’s made it so terribly close to the finish line, time is running out on daylight, and what happens if he doesn’t get his beer? A twelve pack a day is a pretty serious, or an ugly serious habit. It reeks of someone giving him beer money each day, like an allowance of sorts, and this is the way he intends to spend his money and his life. You can’t say that about dogs. They intend to live as large as they can, given who they live with.
I stop before pulling into traffic and look back at him through the rearview mirror. The rain pounds the truck as if my truck is an affront to water everywhere and my wipers go full on to try to stem the falling tide. Mullet Man pushes himself back harder against the wall and I pull away into the storm.

Take Care,

Mike

Taylor Swift "Style"



Midnight, you come and pick me up
No headlights
Long drive, could end in burning flames or paradise
Fade into view, it's been a while since I have even heard from you
I should just tell you to leave cause I
Know exactly where it leads but I
Watch us go round and round each time

You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt.
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt,
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style.


So it goes
He can't keep his wild eyes on the road
Takes me home
Lights are off, he's taking off his coat
I say I heard that you been out and about with some other girl
Some other girl
He says, what you've heard it's true but I
Can't stop thinking about you and I
I said I've been there too a few times

Cause You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

You got that long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt.
And I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt,
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style.

Take me home
Just take me home
Just take me home

You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye
And I got that red lip classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time.
Cause we never go out of style
We never go out of style

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dream of the Half Handed Man

Tyger Linn slips into the darkness, invisible and silent, and even her footfall makes no sound. I am blind. There is no need for sight for if I can see that means whoever it is out there can see also, and this is my maze, my jumble of human things, and my home. I pull the hammer back slowly and the metallic click sounds like a ten feet long piece of rail dropped from the ceiling of a cathedral. I wait for the explosion that will come with the dogs’ barking but there is no sound but my breathing. I take a deep breath and wait. There is nothing to be seen, nothing to be heard, but there is something that feels wrong here.

Twin predators from the deepest part of the ocean slip past me on either side, brushing against my legs, causing me to steady myself against the door jamb as Lucas and Lilith glide out of the darkness and disappear again. I can see the lighthouses, the blue green numbers that tell me it is far deeper into the morning than I would wish. How did we get here? Why is it we need light on all of our appliances to tell us what time it is? Do we really need to know that often? Children and the elderly ask what time it is because for one it is a new experience and for the other there is so very little left to talk about. But there is something here, something inside of the house, and time doesn’t mean anything at all anymore.

I can see the shadow of the pistol in my hand against the twin glare of the clocks. Insanely, I remember when I was working in construction as a teenager and I hated how my hands looked. They were smooth and white while the older workers’ hands were gnarled and reddish colored. There were scars and scrapes while my hands looked brand new and unused. There was a man whose right hand contained two fingers that didn’t work. His thumb and index finger and his middle finger were all that was left after a nerve was severed by a saw. Yet he was still a hundred times better a carpenter than I could be if I had twice as many fingers that worked perfectly. My arm tires from holding the gun but the adrenaline is roaring through my veins and skull. There is someone here.

Lilith’s growl cuts through my thoughts and the darkness as if someone had turned on the lights. It’s a searing and bright vocalization that declares her intent for slaughter and leaves no hint for quarter. It’s not a warning but a promise of violence with extreme prejudice. The sound is a low and guttural thing, primal and basic. This is the dark sun whose invisible heat boils away the flesh and blood and reveals the glistering and dry bones of the moment. Lilith goes silent having said all that will be said. The issue is no longer one of communication.

Tyger Linn takes up a position at my right. I hear the tiniest of sounds and I know it is her. If it were Lucas I would be able to see his hand silhouetted against the starlight outside. Lucas is at the door, a full frontal assault has to go through Lucas before it gets inside, but there is something already here. It occurs to me that Lucas means to not only prevent any help arriving for whatever is inside, but he means to block the exit.
There is a sound. It’s the sound of friction, like someone’s shoe scrapping the floor as they shift their weight. It’s a sound that is totally human and alien in the natural world. Lucas gives a voice to the moment, loud, braying, and for just a fraction of a second it is the whole world. It’s a sound, a war cry, an alarm, a call to arms, it is everything that he has in his soul that pulls his sisters into war with him, a declaration that the life of that voice must be extinguished totally and all things must cease or the reason for that clarion annihilated. Lilith’s cry sounds instantly, a lifetime later, and Tyger Linn, a veteran of wars unknown, now defends her home, her family, and there is no fear in her.

I step out into the open and now the gun is light in my hands and now I know that whatever is here has been surrounded and attacked and no human being could hope to withstand the pack without a gun and Lucas’ snarl rips through the black as if he’s engaged the enemy with everything he owns.

Then there is silence.


I sit up in bed and listen to the sounds of The Three, deep in sleep. My breath comes in gulps and I can feel my heart convulsing in my chest. Tyger Linn slips off the bed and into the darkness and I wait and wait, but she returns, hardly a weight shifted as she gains the surface of the bed again, and Tyger snuffles my face.

There is nothing here but the night and whatever has seeped out of the world within my own and out into the night. It occurs to me, after I can breathe again, I never knew a man with a half hand.


Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, January 17, 2015

7/16ths is the Number of the Beast!




One of the unintended consequences of living with three large dogs is having to do a lot of laundry. There are three mutt blankets that stay on the floor and I cover the bed with two large white sheets that need changing every third day or every day if it’s been raining and it has been raining. So the washing machine stays full most of the time but the dogs all keep warm and dry, and they have a clean bed to sleep on. So do I, but that’s a secondary consideration.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a stray and have to live on the streets. But imagine the difference between that and then suddenly you’re sleeping on the inside of a heated house and you’re sleeping on top of a bed. Tyger Linn is slowly but surely making the transition between a stray to a member of my family. She’s more polite now about surrendering the spot next to me when Lilith or Lucas gets there first. She doesn’t chase misfired treats that the others might have missed. Tyger Linn is learning how to operate safely inside of a pack oriented home without fear of losing a meal or a place to sleep. She now eats out of the bowl that once belonged to Sam, in Sam’s old place, just as Lucas is eating out of Bert’s bowl in Bert’s old space. This is where former strays come to live and be fed. So it has been and so it will be.

Hell, it was a decade or so ago when I discovered that washing a lot of stuff at one time in a washing machine can cause the “Agitator Dogs” to strip out. That screw looking device in your washing machine is the agitator. As it turns it drags clothes from the top to the bottom in an endless cycle so all the clothes get moved around during washing. The agitator is moved by a cogged gear moving back and forth and the dogs are what grips the cogs and causes the agitator to turn. But because if it went round and round without stopping the clothes would get wrapped around it, the agitator only turns partially then releases. I think this is how it all works. I’m mechanically reclined. Anything that needs repair is in no danger from me.

Honestly and truly, anything that involves tools or fine motor skills is beyond me. I am the double amputee of a handy man. I don’t know which end of the screwdriver to plug in. Someone once watched me trying to drive nails into something and remarked that if anyone was found beaten to death with a hammer I was safe from being a suspect. However long it takes your average person to repair something triple that time and add an hour when I begin.

Suddenly, as I write this, it occurs to me there might be a reason why I am still single. Not only am I nearly useless around the house with tools, I just realize that my ineptness when it comes to fine motor skills light extend past appliances. Wow, talk about an epiphany I could have lived without having…

So back to the washing machine, please.

The last time I did this, as I mentioned, and I am referring to the washing machine repair, try to focus please, I got the parts from Benny Cole. He was once the foremost authority on appliance repair on planet earth and it is a shame he retired. Benny had a lot to say, however, and it took him nearly as long to make a sale as it does for me to fix something. But the man did teach me a lot about what goes wrong and why when it comes to washers.

The process of any repair job requires that I photograph everything as it looks before I start. From every angle I take shots of the agitator so when I get it all back together I can tell if it’s right. Then I pry the top off the agitator, did you know that piece came off, and then there is another cap inside of that. That comes off and lo! There’s the one single bolt holding the dogs and the cog and the agitator in place. It stares at me like the Eye Of Sauron.

There is something about this bolt that is worrisome but I have forgotten what it might be. I get out my box of tools and start trying out sockets. Ah, that’s it! Whoever designed this thing made damn sure that getting to it would be easy but getting it off would be a little harder. You have to hold the agitator still and you have to have a 7/16ths socket or nut driver. As it turns out, I just happen to own a nut driver at the 7/16ths range. Most people likely do not. The people who built this damn thing are hoping someone will strip off the head of the bolt trying to get it off and have to call a repair man.

So I take photos of the bolt, take photos of the guts of the dogs and cog and I have to clean the dog hair off all the stuff inside. Gee, where did that come from, huh? To make all of this work, however, you have to hold the cog and the dogs tightly against the bottom of the agitator as you replace it. That takes manual dexterity.

Here’s the weird thing in all of this. While I was working on this a woman called me and because I like her a lot, she makes me nervous.  She’s on speaker phone while I’m trying to get all of this stuff on and to get it right and at the same time, try not to sound like a simple repair job is going to vex me. The first attempt fails because one of the dogs slip out of position. But the next shot finds everything neatly in place. Total time, whoa… less than five minutes.

Really?

Maybe there’s hope here.

Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Spider Selfie

http://bitsandpieces.us/


When is it Time?




When a very good friend of mine put her GSD down, finally, I took a deep breath and released it. The dog was very far past the point where I would have done something. But this wasn’t my dog. I knew both owner and dog, the owner for over twenty years and the dog for all of his life in that home, yet I was hesitant about speaking my mind on a subject that is far more personal than sex, politics, or religion. When the time comes to kill a pet that you’ve lived with for well over a decade it’s between you and dog.

I feel slightly irresponsible at this very moment. Sam is dead, and that’s bad enough, but the day before he died I spoke with two people on the subject of having him put down. Having asked those two people for an opinion I was given the same answer; it is time. Looking back I realize that it had been time for quite some time. The sense of relief in my home is incredible. I think that everyone was suffering Sam’s madness with him. I think we were all pushed to the point where something had to happen. I think I hung on to who Sam was and ignored who he had become.

Another friend of mine hung onto her dog well past the point of reason and I think that after we buried him she understood the consequences of hanging on. I remember being at the verge of speaking to her about her dog and retreating from it. As I buried the body that Sam once inhabited I remembered that was the last dog I had buried before Sam died. That dog’s name was Frank.

Frank was a Border Collie’s Border Collie. He was everything the breed is supposed to be and he was a lot more than he needed to be. A troubled dog, very much like Sam, Frank made everyone’s life miserable because he wanted to herd something, someone, anyone, anything, and it was a little too much at time. But I loved Frank. Franks was a great animal when he wasn’t being the Border Collie from Hell. I had to go under the house to get Frank and I wonder how many people he would have allowed to drag him out from under that house? Frank never offered to bite me and didn’t resist. His body had failed him and he could not stand, but he knew me, Frank loved me, so he didn’t fight me.

Frank looked at me, he made eye contact with me as the needle slipped into his vein, and I wondered, and I still wonder, what Frank was trying to tell me.

Romeo the cat went down fighting, scratching, biting, and yowling. The orange tabby was at Death’s Door even without the vet’s needle but he was a cat. Romeo was going, if he was going, he was going to go on his own terms, on his feet, and he was going to go fighting, and he did. But just like Frank, Romeo looked up at me and held my gaze, speaking to me without words before he died.

These are my last words on this subject for a while. I’ve extinguished the fire that has burned in me the last few days. I have said everything I need to say. The outpouring of support for me during this time has been an incredible experience. But there comes a time, as we have recently learned, for everything. It is time for me to sit down in front of a keyboard and write again. It’s time to start wondering who is going to fit into the Foster Crate again. If there is a time to die there is a time to live. That time is always, always, always, right now.

Take Care,

Mike

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sam and Bert


Sam and Lucas


The Body is a Lesson Not a Lie.




Before Sam started aging, and even after his mobility started to suffer, Sam was a Happy Hound. I had almost forgotten what that was like, I had forgotten a lot of the good times because the last year or so Sam was an emotional wreck. His aggressive behavior towards other dogs stretches back to when he tried to kill Lucas in 2009. He took a shot at Lilith in 2013 and she nearly killed him. His repeated attacks on Tyger were going to lead to a very bad end. My vet and I had already talked about it. I contacted one of the best dog people I knew and she and I were going to have a nice long talk about what was possible and what was probable. Sam stepped out of the picture and didn’t leave me with a decision to make, and perhaps, that was his last gift to me.

I had to get out of the house yesterday and it was a relief not to have to worry about someone being killed while I was gone. I hated the thoughts I had even as I had them but they were thoughts born of the truth of things; Sam couldn’t be trusted anymore. His behavior was bad and it was getting worse. I keep saying this and maybe it’s to make me feel better about not being wrecked the way I was when Bert died, but Sam wasn’t Sam anymore.

When I got home yesterday afternoon Lucas, Lilith and Tyger greeted me and then we all went out into the backyard and took a walk. There was no fighting, no snarling, no one was unhappy with what anyone else was doing. Lilith and Lucas played and played hard, and Tyger actually sat it out and came and sat with me. The pressure that has been taken off of Tyger is enormous. I knew Sam was having a negative impact on her life but the relief in Tyger is palpable. She is a lot more relaxed and she hasn’t gone off by herself since yesterday morning. The L Hounds and Tyger seemed to have bridged a gap in just one day.

Lucas also seems to have taken a deep breath. Even though Loki is the oldest dog now he’s acting more puppyish than I have seen in him in a very long time. He got up on the bed and rolled around on his back and pretended to bite at me while I was writing. He’s more of a liquid state right now, staying off his feet and letting Lilith crawl on his more than I remember the two doing before.

The biggest change is in Lilith, believe it or not. Of the three dogs left she seems, and I hate to use this word, happiest. Oddly, Lilith seems downright ecstatic. Last night was the first night in a very long time Lilith lay claim to the spot right beside me and she wiggled until she was as close as possible. I have no idea what she is having this sort of reaction but Lilith has been super affectionate in the last day. This morning all three wanted to be petted and it was the first time in many years I have had three dogs on the bed with me without any drama. The Tyger got excited and clawed my face. Okay, nearly no drama.

I hate to enjoy the relief I feel that Sam is no longer a factor in this home. Even when his health was failing he was still affectionate and still craved affection from me. Sam never stopped loving me and I never stopped loving Sam. But there comes a time when life is no longer being lived it’s just being alive. There comes a time when as bad as things are they are only going to get much worse. The end came when it was supposed to come and this is not always the way that life is. I still look behind me for Sam when I let the dogs out. I will still reach out into the darkness to find those ears. I will still listen for the rattle of his breath and the movement of his legs in the night.

But medicated into a near coma for peace is no way for a dog to live. To live with that sort of anger and fear is no way for anyone to have to spend their lives. And for the rest of the family, they are having no qualms about opening up and being less tense.


I miss my dog. But he was gone for a very long time before his heart stopped beating. The first decade of Sam’s life was the very best of times that we shared together and that I will never forget.


Sam, Sam, the Happy Hound, was almost dead when he was found. The Muttibeast brought him home to me, and now they’re both gone and happy and free.

Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sam, Sam, The Happy Hound 2001-2015



The routine is always the same but the cold weather has slowed it down; Lucas will be the first to stand up, he will flap his ears hard to let everyone know it’s time, and then everyone slips off the bed one by one, except for Lilith who will crawl over to me to be snuggled. Sam will come over to my side of the bed and I reach out my hand to find his ears. Lilith does kiss me but she jumps down and whines now and I can hear Lucas milling around the room with Tyger. My hand is out in empty space. Sam can always be heard stumbling over a stray shoe or his own feet, but he always makes his way over to my hand that is sticking out to find his ears.

Sam.

I wait for Sam but then I realize I don’t hear him. My foot goes out to find his mass on the bed and it isn’t there.

“Sam” the word carries in the dark room, the moonlight coming through at a low angle, but I already know.

I turn the light on and Sam is curled up on the blanket near the window and I silently count, one, two, three, four, five, and Sam’s side does not move.

“Sam.”


I build a small fire for illumination and I get out the shovel. The memories come back to me, the time he chased rats that came out of the fire fueled by a giant mound of brush, and Sam and the owls hunted together in the darkness. An hour later my muscles hurt and I wonder how this is going to feel, to write these words that I knew that soon I would.

Sam is dead.


The body slumps into the grave and I know it’s deep enough because I hear a small splash. The water table is way up now. I fill the grave in layers, tamping down, making sure that nothing digs Sam up again, I couldn’t bear it. I put the same old gate I used to cover Bert’s grave over Sam’s and weigh it down with some fence posts.



Sam knew more about the gods that run the Universe than I and he certainly knew more about Hell. Sam knew more about Hell because for the first part of his life he lived it. The abuse heaped upon the puppy that would become Sam was horrifying. I have never seen anything like it before or since. Sam knew more about gods because he know nothing at all, which is more than those who claim to know something. But if there are any gods out there, and love and happiness and loyalty and wanting to be petted on a dog’s head means anything, if anything that dog went through and still came out wanting to love us people, if it means anything to anyone out there at all, please, take care of Sam’s weary soul. Forgive me for not being able to heal the harm he had suffered and please know that with my own injured mind and unwell hands, I offer his body to the earth, and his soul to love.

With my heart,

Mike

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tyger Comes Home.



Tyger’s morning began has it has for the last twenty-eight days; I get up to make coffee and she goes out with the other dogs to pee, and to get water. When she first got here Tyger would stand close to the backdoor and come in much sooner than the rest of the dogs. Now Tyger charges out into the early morning dark and does a perimeter search, just as Bert did when he was alive. But this day is different for Tyger, even if she doesn’t realize it. At the moment she awoke she was still a foster dog but if all goes well, Tyger will be a family member at the end of the day. She will be mine, she will be ours, and Tyger will be home for the first time in her life.

Tyger is a Pit Bull. There are no mistakes a Pit Bull can make and survive in a shelter. All things must go right. Nothing can go wrong. Death is the only answer to all questions that are asked of this breed. The just and the unjust die in mass. The shape of their heads doom them to a very short life unless someone loves them. Tyger was on Death Row when I saw her photo. There was no way out, no one to protect her, and this was a dog who would be cold before the sun rose again. Like millions before her and millions after her, this was a dog who would die unloved and unclaimed.

I remember the moment I saw her. I remember thinking to myself that I had three dogs; one rescue and two strays. Sam is elderly and psychotic. I had been told I could not have two female pits in the same pack and have peace. I was told, when I was a child, I could not write. Hold her for me, I will take this dog, I will not allow her to die.

It never occurred to me, until much later, that an email sent to one person could and would save this dog. My word, my reputation, my work in rescue, my email, was enough. Someone, and I do not know who, sent word to pull this little girl off Death Row, to remove the needle from her future, and to send her to a vet who would spay her, and she would wait to see if I would show up and save her life.

Whoever you are, if you are reading this: thank you.

How many dogs sit and wait for someone, anyone, and that never happens? How many dogs await for the return of those they love and death arrives instead? What would have happened to this dog if I would have just stayed home instead? She was put in a cold cage. There was no one who would come unless I arrive in time. When I got to the vet’s office very nice people led a very scared dog to me, and that is when I met her.

You want to know a really scary animal? Humans. We subjugate animals and then we declare them dangerous because we invent myths about them. A very small female Pit Bull was handed over to me late on Friday, December the 5th, because she was a Pit Bull, and no one else had come forward and asked that she not die.

Look at the world from the eyes of Tyger, before she knew me. She had been picked up right off the street, a stray, no home, no love, no food, and no hope. Then she was taken into a shelter where her cell mate attacked her. And then she was taken to the vet’s office where she was operated on, in a place filled with strangers, and suddenly she is handed over to me, who she has never seen before.

I took Tyger to an adoption event the next day and prayed that no one would ask for her. No one did. I took her back to my home and there, at that day, the real process of saving this dog truly began. There was really no way in hell I could take another dog. Lilith seemed underwhelmed with her, Lucas didn’t seem to like her. Sam hates everyone. And this girl dog, oh wow, did she seem to have some problems.

She was a stray. No one, no human, ever, had trained her. Tyger was a dog who had lived day to day for how long? You tell me, you, how would you react to this life? If you were totally alone and you had never been cared for, you tell me, here and now, how stable and how sane you would be. I want to hear this story that you have for me. Tyger was plucked off the streets, shifted over to the shelter, out into the vet’s place and then given to me. All of this happened to her without anyone sitting down and telling her that she was loved.



Where are Tyger’s puppies? I’m sorry did that question catch you off guard? She’s less than eighteen months but she’s had at least, at the minimum, one litter. Was she able to feed and take care of her offspring? Did she watch them die slowly because she was starved? I’m sorry, did this ruin your feel good buzz? Tyger was a mom. She had kids. I have no idea what happened to them at all. Do you?

What do you expect? What sort of person do you think Tyger might be considering what she has been through, no, wait, let me say this clearly; what sort of person do you think Tyger would be considering how we humans have allowed her to suffer?

Let’s blame Tyger. Let’s blame Pit Bulls. Let’s blame the dogs for their owners abandoning them. Let’s considering them dangerous when they watch their young die of starvation or worse. Let’s do anything at all but provide the animals we’ve domesticated with a loving way of life.

Of course, we’ve failed to provide our own species with this, haven’t we?



I have a new dog. She is hurt, hurting, lost, damaged, hopeful, and young. I have to undo what we have done. I have to assure her that we humans aren’t nearly as bad as she’s been trained to think we are, by us.

I have a long way to go.

But right now, Tyger is loved. And she knows it. 

Take Care,

Mike

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014






“For last year's words belong to last year's language

And next year's words await another voice.”

 

 

― T.S. Eliot




I thought that quote a bit more cheerful than Pink Floyd’s “Shorter of breath and one day closer to death” concept, even if it is more accurate. 2014 was a very odd year and 2015 looks like it will be interesting, too. This was my first year as a foster parent for two dogs, the first, The Puppy Wrex, I really wanted to keep. Burke, the second foster, was nearly as bad when I had to give him up. There really wasn’t much of a chance Tyger was going to be adopted out. I wanted her before we met.

There’s a difference between have dogs as pets and rescuing dogs. I make my second “Tutu Run” for BARC this year, even though one of my knees didn’t want to run. We raised a bunch of money and it was well worth the pain. It appears now that this may evolve into a yearly thing. As long as the money come in dignity will have to be put on hold. The people I have met whose passion is rescuing dogs has been a humbling event. There are those who do more, give more, and never ask for anything in return for their efforts other than good homes for good dogs.

I got my second tattoo in 2014 and I will get my next one sometime soon. There are two types of people and two types of people only; those who understand ink and those who do not. Those who understand do not need an explanation and those who do not understand can’t hear it. But to me it is a form of self-expression that is likely older than writing. It’s as permanent as your skin. It’s as unique as your own body. This may be a little judgmental but I think the ink deniers either have nothing to say or they are afraid to say it out loud for the world to hear. For my part, there aren’t many who see my body and those who do will understand what is there long before they see it. One thing I do hear is the compliant as to what it will all look like when I’m seventy. I will give less of a fuck what people think about my body at seventy than I do now, I suspect, but call me in sixteen years and we’ll talk. I’ll show you my new ink.

It’s nearly two years to the day I was in a minor wreck. It was a scary thing not knowing if I was hurt or seriously injured. It gave me a greater appreciation of being in good health that I have not forgotten. I would be at the gym right now if it was open. But I am still getting up much earlier than the sun or for that matter, most people.


2014 saw me get my first laptop, and for the first time since 1992, I don’t own a desktop computer. I doubt I will ever own another. There was once a coffee shop in downtown Valdosta and I would go there at lunch and write furiously for an hour. It was a manic sort of writing and not much good came of it but it was a catharsis of sorts. I filled up many a page of a small note pad but after I got home most of it was illegible. Now with a laptop I can write anywhere at any time at all. It’s a liberating feeling to take it with me wherever I might be. Whereas there was this irritating wait in between things happening now I can just pull the laptop out and work on a good sentence.

Writing is public also means I get to transcribe conversations I overhear. People, once they get engrossed in what they’re talking about with someone else, tend to forget that there are other people, some of them only a meter away, who can hear every word. Mostly, none of it is interesting but sometimes people will get into darker moments of their lives never realizing that they’ll become a piece of a story or part of a plot in something I write. For all the distractions, Starbucks is my favorite place to write. They’ve started blocking the electrical outlets as subtle reminders we laptop people are not to set up shop there, but it is still a lot of fun.

I miss my desktop because it was a cool looking computer. But just like everyone told me, once I started using a laptop I would never again want to use anything that tied me down to one location. I thought writing on a laptop might be too, ummm, something, but writing is the same no matter what the medium.

All in all, 2014 was a hell of a lot better than 2013. Lucas’ cancer has not returned. It appears that I am going to get to keep my Loki Mutt, if he can keep his face out of the mouth of snakes. I picked up Tyger, the first fourth dog, and Sam is still trying to break the record for longest living Firesmith Mutt. Lilith is no longer the only female in the pack and having two female dogs is not the problem I was told it would be. So far.

2015 starts out with a day off, writing, turning the compost pile, and maybe some running if I go into town where there’s a track. I foresee more writing, another tattoo or two, more compost turning, more exercise, and maybe even my first trip out of country if I am lucky. Pink Floyd was correct of course, for we are all shorter of breath and we are all one day closer to death. This is true until we are dead for living itself is a terminal illness. But the new year looks no worse than the old one and perhaps if this is the year that find me gone at the end, it will still be one of the best.


Take Care,
Mike