People

Jumping With Your Eyes Closed


20160718_171914Anyone who knows me knows that my dog is the love of my life (sorry, Chris). My relationship with him is the longest I’ve ever had. When I was young and reckless in college, he gave me life. He gave me a reason to take care of myself because I needed to take care of him. He has traveled the world with me and he teaches me things all the time. Like after college when our walks taught me to see the world through a filter of wonder. He taught me that tears can be licked away and a smile revealed like a rainbow that will give you just enough energy to start the day anew.

Recently, he developed cataracts causing his visibility to be drastically reduced. It started out small. I noticed his eyes would shine green in the sunlight. He would step extra carefully down the stairs. Then he started running into the other dogs much to his surprise and their disapproval.

Whenever I tell people that he’s basically blind, they sigh and express pity. I felt this, too, once. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle and there’s not much you can do.

But Orbison was never frustrated. He was never sad about his situation. If he hadn’t started running into things I would have never known his eyesight had deteriorated so much, because he runs and jumps with the same fervor as before.

A few months ago, I lost my job. It was a job that caused me to develop an eye twitch and one that I was dying to be rid of, but it was still a blow to my confidence all the same.

Searching for work is like jumping with your eyes closed. Sometimes I would be afraid to apply somewhere because I couldn’t see how it would work or what it would be like or if I would fit in. When I felt like that I would think about Orbison and how he jumps with his eyes closed all the time. No fear. Sometimes he misses and bumps his head. But mostly he lands and he is where he wanted to be.

Last month, I started a new job where the majority of my day is spent taking care of animals. It’s a complete career change and I’m being generous when I call it a career because it’s so specialized I might just have to work there forever. There were a lot of things that sounded scary about this job; different wages, different schedule, different people, so much unknown, and so much poop. But when I felt unsure about what I was jumping into, I remembered how Orbison jumps with his eyes closed all the time so I’ll just have to too.

So far he’s never led me astray.

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People

When your dogs fight


There are really few things I care as deeply for, as I do for my dogs.

One of them I’ve known since he was 6 weeks old and the other 2 I’ve known for a little over a year. There are people who I have known longer than all my dogs have been alive and I would throw those people into a burning building to save any of my dogs. I’m not going to talk about how important animals are and I’m not going to talk about why dogs are better than cats, although they absolutely are. What I’m going to talk about is one of the most heart-wrenching things that happens to me and my partner too regularly.

Orbison Pedro III is a 26 lbs., tan, terrier mix. He has a curly tail, he loves food more than anything in the world, and he enjoys passing the time staring out the window. He’s willing to share his toys, even at the dog park. But he grew up as the runt of the litter and he’s used to being picked on. He is resilient. He never lets down. He never stops being who he is and he doesn’t apologize for it.

Soto is a mid-sized, black, Australian shepherd with brown legs and white paws. She’s unbelievably gorgeous and her personality matches. She loves being petted and purrs like a cat, but we love her just the same. She will steal your food anytime, anywhere, no regrets. Soto loves people, but if you’re a dog, she has no problem reminding you she is the one who gets the most attention and who is the most beautiful. No exceptions.

Pete is a husky. I don’t have to tell you how gorgeous she is. All huskies are beautiful. What you need to know about them is their personalities. Pete talks back. Pete guards socks. Pete lets you know when breakfast and dinner should be served. Pete is a fucking boss and she makes sure you’re aware. Pete doesn’t take shit from anyone. But also please, scratch her butt when she asks because she likes it.

Usually, we describe dogs with words like loyal, obedient, loving, and playful. Some of these words I would like if they were used to describe me. But recently I’ve been wondering if my dogs are caring. Do they care about us? Probably. Do they care about each other? Maybe. Do they care about getting enough vitamins? Absolutely not.

I come to this questions because, while I feel and have seen my dogs exhibit not only the human qualities of sadness and love, but also understanding, they fight.

There are moments where they go black in the eyes and their lips pull back violently to reveal wolf-like teeth with purpose. The sounds they make are like war cries from warriors going all in. They attack swiftly and without hesitation. It’s as if their minds have temporarily gone blind, inhibiting them from recognizing the comrades they’ve shared a home with for more than a year. That’s almost 8 years for dogs!

Like anyone who cares about anything, as soon as said thing is in danger, hysteria ensues. They’re all about to kill each other and I’m an accessory to the crime because I’m just standing there letting it happen. Can someone tell me how hard you kick one of your dogs to stop it from murdering your other dog? Or cat or pig or whatever you have?

I sincerely hope that no one ever has to go through this. I hope no one ever has to witness, a couple of beings you love unconditionally try to hurt each other.

The only thing that gets me through it is realizing that they’re not going in to kill. If that were the case, someone would be dead already. It’s a matter of the pack. It’s a matter of who is the alpha, who is the boss. It’s a not so gentle reminder that they’re still animals despite the way they lick our tears and put their paws on our shoulders like they’re going in for a hug.

I will never stop loving any of them. I will never stop loving dogs. I will just do my best to do the best I can for them. Sometimes that means accepting their mistakes and moving forward.

dogs

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Of mice and dog (and snakes): A tale of honor, survival and lunch


I have snakes.

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My mother thinks I’m a freak. But snakes can be really cool pets.

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I am kind of a freak though and I like to feed them live mice. I know a lot of snake owners disagree about this because of the risk of the snakes getting hurt by the mice. I know that sounds odd but the little suckers have sharp claws. Anyway, I do check them to make sure they aren’t being hurt and are tended to if they do receive a cut.

There’s this cute little shop called Animal Palace where I get them. I like to support local businesses and they also have great natural (and affordable) dog food. That’s right I have a dog, too.

Meet Orbison Pedro III

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He reminds me of Odie

This shop is pretty neat because I never know what I will find there.

So I finally stopped fooling around in the store and I bought some mice. I got home and promptly realized I had something I forgot to do. I left the bag with the mice on a table and felt confident they would be okay. The bag has air holes and is stapled shut so there isn’t really a way out. And in my experience they usually just go to sleep or huddle to devise an escape plan.

Well, I was shocked to find this when I got back.

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I remember thinking they had made more ruckus than other mice but I never thought they would seriously plan an escape! I mean I have to give it up to that guy. Oh yeah, only one was brave enough to escape. The other one was still in the bag. I looked everywhere for it but I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find a little mouse in my apartment.

It was getting late so I figured I would just have to lure a cat inside tomorrow or something. I still stayed up thinking about this mouse. I couldn’t get him or her out of my head. Let’s call it Stan.

Stan had been a fighter from the beginning. He never settled down. And who knows, maybe the other mouse was telling him to stop it and just accept his fate. But Stan was no quitter! He knew if he just nibbled away enough he could break through and attain freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom.

Sadly, Stan also met Orbison today.

I’m really proud of my dog. He has a rep for being kind of apathetic. He’s an easy-going dog. He likes looking out the window, eating cheese and having his belly rubbed. But aside from his occasional menacing growl at the school children running around my apartment complex, he’s pretty harmless. But today he proved something. He showed his cunning skill and virtuousness for not eating the mouse. He brought himself great honor among the snakes despite the tragedy that bestowed our unlucky friend.

This blog is in memory of Stan. He went out giving it his all.

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