Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Dog Book is a GO!

After almost exactly two years (off by 19 days) since I started writing it, we finally have a publication date for the 'Dog Book' (aka It's About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers):

FI-NA-LLY! Nigh on two whole years after the fateful April A-to-Z that led to a dog rescue how-to series, which led to late-night conversations with my publisher (he's in Australia, so the 'late-night' bit only applies to me; for him it was probably like lunchtime, or something), which led to months of revisions to the original blog posts and research and interviews, both formal and informal, which produced a full manuscript, which then the publisher reviewed, which led to more revisions, which led to more changes, which then led to Proof Copy One, which led to more tweaks, which led to Proof Copy Two, which led to—

Friday, February 16, 2018

Best Response *EVER* to Idiots Who Want Purebred Dogs!

A friend just posted this article on Facebook, and I had to share. All rescuers are intimately familiar, unfortunately, with those racist bigots who only want to have 'purebred' dogs—yes, racist bigots; what else would you call someone who exhibits overt and shameless prejudice towards race, country of origin, or ancestry?

So... this happened in Brazil. One of these racist bigots was interested in adopting a dog—but it had to be a purebred, "preferably an English Cocker [Spaniel]", because she didn't like "vira latas" ('mutts') due to "aesthetic reasons".

(The story is in Portuguese, but I've translated, loosely, the gist here.)

Magno's response, in green: "Hi! Yes, I do have one available."

Racist bigot Claudia, probably feeling all warm and fuzzy at the prospect of soon having her purebred puppy at home, goes on to ask what the adoption requirements are.

And that's when the dream shattered.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Thing About Goodbyes...

In the predawn hours of Thursday, July 27th, our little Sasha died. Tiny Sasha, scared and shy Sasha, big-brown-eyed Sasha, fluffy toy-sized Sasha. I've been unable to write about it—hence the hiatus in posts. This is the fifth attempt at a draft, and quite honestly I'm not sure if I'm going to finish this time, either. Yes, of course it was my fault—isn't it always?—but I don't think that's the reason I find this so hard. Or not all of the reason. Maybe it has to do with the impossibility of quantifying loss. In a weird way, paying tribute to her like this, by writing about her death, by "announcing" it, so to speak, so publicly, feels like a lie. There is no way that the huge ways her little self impacted our lives can be translated into words. No way that I can capture the joy she gave us, the bottomless pit her absence left behind... No way I can do any of it justice.

But I must write about it. Until I do, I can write nothing else. Not on this blog, not (really) on the other one, not in my notebooks, not in my journal, not even a short story. I can't, no, because what happened to her left not just a hollow emptiness in the house, in the family, but also wreaked indelible, irreversible change on those of us still here. Powerful lessons that need to be assimilated. Learning on managing the ways our dogs relate to one another, and even to me. Observation skills that need to be developed. So, so much learning. And all of it needs to be processed and mulled over and, eventually, written—

But I cannot write about this, either. That is where every previous draft has fallen short. Fallen flat. Fallen away from the intention I set out to achieve, without ever taking the trouble to define it, even to myself. Every word I write, that is not about Sasha, feels like I am moving away from her. Every word I have written, that is about Sasha, feels like I'm reducing her death into a lesson, something practical and mundane. Every word I write, about or not about Sasha, has felt like I'm leaving her behind—without saying goodbye.

That is the intention I had, when I began that first draft two days after she died. That was the purpose. But in telling the story of her death, in explaining the hows and the whens and the (stupid, stupid) mistakes that led to it, the Goodbye fell further and further behind, until it shimmered so distant in the rear view mirror of the words as the mirage of water on a hot summer highway at noon.

Here it is, then. Goodbye, little Sasha. I did love you, much, much more than I was able to convey to you. And I'm glad you came to our lives, and to our house. I'm glad we didn't give you away back then. Maybe you would have lived longer if we had, so it's selfish of me to say this, but I really am glad you stayed.
So, we'll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.
(So We'll Go No More A-Roving, Lord Byron)

Friday, October 6, 2017

If a Dog Was Your Teacher...

Posted at the Lessons Taught By Life page on Facebook. It echoed so much of my Lessons In Life From Dogs series for the April Challenge in 2014 that I simply had to share.

The secret, not just to happiness but to fulfillment and serenity? Be more dog.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Chihuahua Who Became Chucho

The name his rescuer gave him was Everest, because she found him in Montaña, a neighborhood in here in Curaçao, which translates to "Mountain"... Personally, I might have gone with Kilimanjaro, or even Blanc (you know, for Mont), but—well, naming is the rescuer's prerogative. Either way, this first name wasn't going to last, because a couple of months later, when a fabulous woman adopted him—only temporarily, as it turned out, but I'm getting ahead of myself here—she decided that, him being a (sort of) Chihuahua and all, he needed a more Mexican name. One of the most common appellatives in Mexico is Jesús (pronounced heh-SOOS), and every Jesús I know gets called, for unfathomable reasons, Chucho for short.

So Everest became Chucho.

Chucho (even before being called Everest) came to us on October 5th, 2016, and it was thanks to Facebook. I belong to several animal rescue groups (surprise, surprise), and on this particular fine afternoon a post popped up on my timeline from a fellow member asking for advice. She'd found this tiny dog on the side of the road, walking in tight, tight circles and acting disoriented. She didn't know what to do. I was probably the third person to reply, and echoed exactly what the other two people had said: Take him to the vet. ASAP. And I added that I'd be happy to do it myself, if she wanted. People not intimately familiar with rescue have no way of gauging what the veterinary 'damage' will be, so sometimes they hesitate to take an animal to the vet out of fear they won't be able to afford the bill. Plus, not everyone can drop their lives at a moment's notice in order to rush a strange dog to the ER. In this particular case, the rescuer said in her post that she knew next to nothing about dogs, that she'd always been more of a cat person; I felt she had done enough by picking up the dog to begin with, so it seemed only reasonable to step in and offer help.

At the home of his rescuer while they waited for me. All he wanted was to sleep. No water, no food, just... sleep. Yep, not a good sign.
I arrived at her door about a half hour later, after a few wrong turns but not nearly as many as I expected; it was Election Day here, and a voting location had been set up just a block from her house, so the crowd and the lines of parked cars were hard to miss. She helped me load the dog—who really was tiny; he'd looked rather larger in the photo she posted—into the car, and I promised to call as soon as I had some sort of diagnostic. I did warn her that, from the behavior she'd described—the walking in circles, the disorientation, the lack of appetite or energy—the prognosis would probably not be very good. "There's a chance he'll need to be put down," I told her, as kindly as I could. She nodded, reached a hand in through the open window to pet the tiny head again. "I understand."