Viciousness at the Shelter: and it's Not the Dogs!!

“Is human dignity and human life so cheap that the rights protecting it can be traded away to appease the appetite for intimidation and prejudice of a vicious and self-centered group – for whatever reason, power, politics, nationalism, or unity?”
― Christina Engela, Bugspray

I am nearing retirement, and as a way to set the stage for an easy transition, I have engaged in a volunteer activity that represents my true passion – animals, namely dogs. I spent 3 months training to become a dog walker at our local shelter and through hard work and the support of a mentor, found it to be exactly what my soul was looking for. It’s not always easy, in fact, at times it’s downright hard.  And it’s heartbreaking, but that’s for another day and another post.

Ironically, what’s become harder than dealing with the dogs is dealing with fellow volunteers. Fortunately it’s a small group spewing poison, but large enough to be toxic to us fellow walkers, shelter workers, and to the dogs.    

Enter Facebook. There are probably a hundred million groups on FB and the shelter walkers have one. Several weeks ago, to my horror, the core group engaged in a bashing job that was more appropriate for teenage girls than a group of “mature” women. It was all directed at a new employee whose job it is to organize volunteers. I couldn’t believe what I read, and I posted that it would be more productive to be positive than critical and negative. That went over like a lead balloon.

I have since quit that Facebook group, but I remain dedicated to the dogs, committed to my shelter duties, and loyal to the woman who is indeed doing a stellar job in spite of the cruel cackling of a clutch of vicious women.

Posted in Uncategorized

Peek-a-boo

Ethel’s favorite place to hang out.
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Posted in Birds

My New Best Friend

My good friend asked me to go with her to a local bird store several months ago. I should have known better because this was right after my beloved cockatiel died. As soon as we walked into the store, Ryan, the manager, thrust this little, feather-less creature into my hand and it was love at first flight!

Of course, the story is complicated, but the bottom line is that I am now “mother” to Ethel, my adorable, 4-month old green cheek conure.

This is just a brief introduction, but there will be many more tales to come.

Hint: How Ethel loves to watch what’s on my computer screen and add to its interest by pecking at the touch screen to see what she can come up with next,

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Posted in Birds, Uncategorized

A Village and a Very Sick Dog

Chavo came back – again. He came back to the shelter a few weeks ago, but no one recognized him. I did. Somewhere inside the little, shriveled dog in the kennel hid the big head and broad chest that was once filled out and healthy. At first the dog in this kennel was only vaguely familiar. I looked at his intake card, saw the name Chavo, and looked again at the pathetic dog laying in his kennel, too tired to even get up. This was not the chesty little low-rider pitbull I remembered and loved. This was a sick skeleton with glassy eyes, and foamy mouth.

I wanted to murder the people who did this to him.

It took a village to nurse Chavo back to health. Once his condition became known to the techs and vet, he was quickly whisked to the quiet and protected part of the shelter. Word spread like wildfire about our once robust little low-rider. We all prayed and kept vigil outside his kennel. After two days of not eating and utter lethargy, doc did exploratory surgery on him and pulled a walnut from Chavo’s digestive tract.

And so Chavo began to heal. He ate hungrily and had his own cheering squad urging him through every bite, every step. At first he was allowed just short walks, and we lined up for our turn “at Chavo.” Before long, walks became longer and longer until he was finally allowed back into the adoption part of the shelter.

One day I came looking forward to a walk with Chavo, only to find he’d been adopted. Selfishly, my heart sank. But I heard it was a good thing. Good people. Good for Chavo, and ultimately good for all of us in the village who brought a near-death, low-rider pit back to life and into a home with good, loving people.

Posted in Uncategorized

No Roses at the Animal Shelter

Tis the season and the antics at the shelter are in full swing – and not by the animals!

Photo by Samantha Hurley from Burst

One of the things this shelter does regularly is hold free adoption days where it’s just that – you can get a dog or cat for free. Sounds good? It is not. Granted, there are some honest, caring people who come committed to adopt an animal and give it the love and care it needs. But there are also those who lie and present a false picture of a huge, fenced-in yard, no other pets in the house, and so on.

One of these events was held a month ago, and a shelter favorite dog, Carlotta, was adopted by an older man who said all these things about the wonderful life Carlotta would have with him. Initial conversations after the adoption rang glaringly false About a week after he took her home, Carlotta was back. Not only was she back, but so was another dog, adopted the same day by his brother, only they never bothered to inform us of that fact. In fact, they live together. The man was told that Carlotta was not to live with any other dogs. When she arrived back at the shelter, we were told she fought with the other dog. She was a mass of cuts and bite marks, and needed surgery to close her wounds.

Another free event is happening this Saturday and I plan to be on the other side of the county while it’s taking place.

I have recently taken on another volunteer job at the shelter, and that is to follow up with adopters to see how things are going with their new furbaby in the home. I recently exchanged texts with one gent who adopted one of my all-time favorite pups. He had taken the dog to his vet only to get a positive heartworm test. Heartbreak! This shelter has a “live-in” vet and I am appalled that the dogs are not heartworm tested before they are adopted out. I have also known of many dogs who have gone to homes with various degrees of intestinal and respiratory illnesses.

Dealing with dogs, adoptions, and the shelter environment is never going to be pretty. But by implementing some basic new strategies, and eliminating things that have proven to provide pain and heartbreak, the whole adoption process can be made significantly more successful.

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Posted in Animals and Rescue

Gender Neutral (Not)

The list of terms describing gender preferences is astounding. When I was younger, there was no such list and there were lots of behind the hand whispers and mocking of those who displayed characteristics of gender outside the norm. That is not so much the case at all today and that is a good thing.

What is not a good thing is the accompanying list of pronouns and other terms people want others to refer to them by. We have such a situation where I work and it is stressful trying to remember if this person is a they or them, an anyone or a nobody. Then there may also be a preference for other defined pronoun words. The more comprehensive list of gender-neutral pronouns is as follows:

He/She — Zie, Sie, Ey, Ve, Tey, E

Him/Her — Zim, Sie, Em, Ver, Ter, Em

His/Her — Zir, Hir, Eir, Vis, Tem, Eir

His/Hers — Zis, Hirs, Eirs, Vers, Ters, Eirs

Himself/Herself — Zieself, Hirself, Eirself, Verself, Terself, Emself

Here’s the rub for me. If you want to be called something, that is your freedom. Fine. But on the other hand, it is my freedom to turn down your request. Aren’t there more important things than to insist on being viewed in a very prescribed and calculated way? Why not just be what we are – people!

I work with a “they” who insists on remaining gender neutral and who wrote our department a long tome on why this was important. This person dresses as a boy, but is a woman by physiology and a mother by choice. I am confused because this person is militant in her stand on gender neutrality, yet  goes to such an extreme as to dress as a selected gender? This is not gender neutral. This person’s baby is now about 2 years old, no one knows its true sex, and it is called Winter. I wonder how this “it” is going to manage in a very un-gender neutral society.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Rare Toxin That Almost Killed my Daughter

Most mothers and daughters have their respective “issues” and my daughter and I were not exceptions.

That slammed to a stop.

She called me one morning in tears, asking me to come get her and take her to emergency. I dropped what I was doing, crossed town and bundled her into my car.

Ten hours later she had a D and C. Much to my chagrin, they released her that night at 10 and I once again bundled her into my car and this time, took her home with me so I could make sure she was safe. Only she wasn’t.

Something wasn’t right. One day after the surgery I could see where she’d be sleepy and sore, but 3 days of the same, something wasn’t right. My daughter is stubborn. Too much for her own good, we found out. When she wasn’t bouncing back on day 2 and 3, I said we had to call the doc. She insisted that she wasn’t going anywhere. Day 4 she had a temperature. 103.5. I called an ambulance.

Beyond anyone’s comprehension, my beautiful, intelligent daughter had toxic shock syndrome. People of younger generations haven’t even heard of this deadly malady, which was once associated with tampon use. In fact, her extraordinarily competent doctors had to do a literature review before they came to the heartbreaking conclusion that the source of the Group A Strep, which was feeding deadly toxins into her body, was her uterus. Her uterus needed to be removed.

Her brother, his wife, my partner and I went to see her in the ICU before the surgery. As long as I live I will never forget the color of her face – yellow, orange and gray. Her organs were shutting down, it was explained to me. Her kidneys, liver, and lungs were being slayed by the toxins. I will also never forget the tear that dribbled down her face when they said she had just a 5 percent chance of living if she didn’t have this surgery. Before the took her away, we gave our goodbye kisses, all terrified that it would be the last we’d ever give her while she was alive.

It wasn’t. It was hard looking at her with the tube down her throat when she came out of surgery as well as all the tubes and lines connected to her body. But she was with us and was amazingly aware of much of what was going on around her. It wasn’t fun when they took the breathing tube out, and it wasn’t fun building up her ability to breathe without oxygen. But she did it, exceeding everyone’s expectations about the speed of her recovery.

I have always loved Mother’s Day but this year was astronomically special! I had a wondrous dinner with both my children. And you know what? Those “issues” may be there, but they are miniscule in the light of a cherished life that was on its way to being tragically snuffed out.

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Posted in Health and Medical
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