12.31.2009

Hank - The story


Hank was a puppy mill dog. Though he's only been a live a bit over a year, he's had little exposure to the outside world - to people, new dogs, and the wonderfulness that is living with a mom and dad who are going to shower you with treats and squeaky toys.

Our journey so far has been intense. We've just passed Week 2, and with it has come some progress. For the first week, Hank's fear allowed him only to sit on the floor, cower, and hide his face. He'd press his little black nose in to anything that was in front of him - totally avoiding both me and the Drummer. He didn't move for hours, barely ate or drank, and had to be forced out the door to try and use the bathroom.

Walking was the first key to Hank's progress. We started really pushing him out the door, and walking him with a lot of speed and purpose. At first, though he followed us, he'd cower when anything passed- people, cars, etc - and sometimes, he'd flip around, jump, and try to escape his collar. I combated this with simple leadership. Eventually, he let that go and continued without the fear.

The second key has been exposure to people and dogs. The more time we spend at other houses with other people and dogs, and with others here, the more he opens up. He is inquisitive and gentle with new people and animals - although he's quick to correct when necessary. He follows me wherever I go if there are others around.

He has begun to bond to me, which has come with both rewards and challenges. He has not bonded with the Drummer, so he perceives him at times to be a threat to our pack. He will growl at him, when he comes home or comes too near to me. Of course, we're working on this - but it remains a little funny to me that anyone think of the Drummer as a threat :D Hank is not aggressive, but fearful and not confident, so the protection comes along with that. He'll progress.

I have been really unable to write about this process until now. I have been overwhelmed with the emotions and trials of this process. I knew that he would be damaged - quite damaged - but I didn't know that it would have been this bad. There were times when I thought I didn't have the strength to work with him, when I didn't know where to start.

I've always known it's better to rescue a dog - but with rescue, you get emotional baggage that you didn't install. This dog was damaged by some jerk somewhere else, and he's only acting on his fear of what's been done in the past. We're uninstalling some major issues and this will take major time. On the other hand, this dog would have been euthanized in the shelter, because no one would have taken him home. We're giving Hank a second chance at life, a young life, and with time and patience, he will make it.

I have been frustrated because this dog doesn't speak - english, of course - and while that's obviously just frustration, I've been lead to better understand the universal language of energy. Trying to give out the best possible kind, not only to Hank, but to those around me. That's the real key to his success, and mine, actually. I have a feeling that by the end of this journey, I will have learned more than just how to really rescue an abused animal.

Hank in Green

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12.15.2009

Hank

Originally, I planned to write a blog about Hank's arrival process, how he got here, and how he's doing, but I'm too exhausted. I will probably write more later, but right now, I'm just not able to do it. Instead, I'll show you this quick photo of him, so that you can send him all of your happy thoughts and love , so he may become comfortable and realize that he's home for good now.

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12.09.2009

This, that, and the other thing

I wanted to share a few photos I took of the front yard yesterday while collecting some images for a final project. I really loved these.

Twins


Color and Geometry


Fall raindrops


Autumn

It's been FREEZING here for the past three weeks, and today, the third day in a row I had the heat on most of the day, I was feeling like I was back in the Midwest again. The Drummer and I went out to do errands and seriously had to get home quickly because we were just miserably cold.

It feels more like this!

Minneapolis

Except, we're still 2k miles away from family, so no thanks, Mother Nature - you can bring the California back now. :D

If you read my earlier post today, you know that we've been approved to adopt our dog. He will be arriving here in the Bay Area either Sunday night or Monday.

We're super excited - well, I'm excited - I think David is, too, but I imagine he's a little overwhelmed on what will happen, since this will be his first time owning a dog. I think once he's here, it will be easier for him to adjust.

Because we had to do a home visit with the rescue group to be approved, I've already stockpiled a bunch of dog items to make our house look "dog friendly". Thankfully, the pet store offers me a great deal on supplies - so, he'll be rather spoiled. The two most important things haven't arrived yet - his crate and his heated bed :D Those will be here tomorrow.

It's a little sad in the house without rats. Sad and quiet, with some extra space. I miss the girls but have already gotten emails from their new owners on how wonderful they're doing. I do feel good that the amount of time and attention we put in to the ratties will be beneficial to their new owners.

This final picture is to show you "the dog shelf". Do not let your attention wander to the large stain on the floor - that came with the apartment :D Instead, you'll see a wicker basket with a toy on top. That basket is full of stuffies, to be chewed and destroyed and strewn about the house soon. It used to be the record shelf, but I advised the Drummer to put them up high away from doggie teeth. Voila! Room for doggie toys and other supplies.

Dog Shelf

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12.08.2009

Approved

The Drummer and I have been approved for adoption! We will be finalizing details today, and I'll let you know when we'll be expecting our new child.

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12.05.2009

Living this kind of life

As December begins, we're approaching the deathiversaries of two people whose lives impacted me greatly. They are two completely different people, from different places, different times, and with very different stories.

Both of these people left in what was, so far, the darkest period of my life, when I was in despair for clarity and direction. These two people's stories ended the exact opposite of each other - one with chance, one with a choice. I sat there in between; trying to be thankful for what little control I had; my good health, my talents, the things my hard work had given me. I found some comfort in the dusky, foggy clarity that kept my life from ending like his.

A few weeks after my second friend's death, I changed. After the most difficult grief was subdued, I embarked on a new journey fueled by the understanding that this is MY life. I am able bodied, intelligent, and a citizen of the free world - and until any of those things change, I am in control of my destiny. I get to decide.

Now, a year later, I'm in a different place. I'm not the girl I was last year at this time, but the path of my life is still in need of a lot of work. This week, particularly, I'm in a creative drought. I have finals due and a massive marketing campaign to design with regard to my business, and neither are getting done. I haven't photographed anything lately. I haven't even been blogging.

I know that these weeks happen, to everyone. I know that I'll probably end up finishing my finals on time, and hopefully, they'll be Ok. I know that I'll pick up my camera again. It's just that now, while I'm in the hole, it's dark.

The Drummer and I went back to Minnesota to stay with his parents for Thanksgiving. While we were there, we visited the Art Institute, which is a gigantic museum filled with works from ancient to present. I love visiting art museums, obviously, and I've been to a few great ones. This visit, however, made the other experiences seem tiny in comparison. I browsed ancient Chinese ceramics, Japanese block prints, Gallileo's writings, and even a real reproduction of the Doryphoros. Of course while the Doryphorous's creator, Polyklietos, and Gallileo are famous and known by most people, much of what I saw there was without a known artist. The works were on exhibit because they are symbolic of times, of movements, important ones, that defined and inspired in myriad ways. These artists may have been well known and beloved in their times; they may have been nobodies. Regardless, they probably never imagined their work being studied and implored by millions of people thousands of years later. Most of the time, they didn't realize they were innovators. They simply lived and created.

For awhile after our visit I was feeling overwhelmed by all the inspirational work I'd seen. I think most artists feel that way - that you want to take from what you've seen to make your work better, but that those artists were masters you'll never be. While walking through the museum I thought I'd come home and create, create, create, but it's actually had the opposite effect.

Two days ago, the Drummer and I went to Target for a few things. The particular Target was a different one than we usually visit, and is designed in the same fashion that the Target by my old job in Redwood City was. We visited the frozen food section, and continued on toward the Christmas candy and supplies on the right followed by the electronics, and the toys and baby supplies on the left. I looked to the right and saw a cardboard display holding lots of different bags of M&Ms - regular milk chocolate, peanut, almond, dark chocolate, and a Christmas specialty - mint. I was then slammed with a a memory - still very vivid, of work friends and I milling that aisle a few weeks before Christmas, two years ago. There was a life-sized pony in the left aisle across from us, built for little girls. My friend Jason picked up the mint M&Ms in disgust.

"These are TERRIBLE. Mint should not be here. Ever."
My friend Ray let out a subdued giggle. "Oh no, how terrible". We always made fun of Jason because he was black and white about everything. This guy hated vegetables, and was absolutely against even eating a pizza that had ever held a veggie, removed or not. He was extreme about his opinions.

I, on the other hand, LOVE mint.

Other things transpired in that aisle, that visit, things that include white fudge covered Oreos, Spiderman action figures and Wii games. It wasn't a visit out of the ordinary. Yet since standing there, in front of the Mint M&Ms, I have been back there, that day.

Those are the things, in the end, that you can't tell someone you'll remember. That you'll miss. I know he probably never imagined that I'd hear his voice so clearly in the aisle of a Target.

We build our lives based on expectations. While there's definitely differences in the exact expectations for different people, the basics are always the same. Success. Notability. Happiness. Long life. Good health. Love. Money. We live our lives with respect to the expectations in which the world runs on. We judge each other and ourselves based on these expectations, regardless of where we started or stopped.

I went to a friend's birthday party last night. She's a dear friend, and one that doesn't have very much self esteem. She's beautiful, funny, and brilliant - she was the Salutatorian of her class this Fall when she graduated from Pharmacy school. Now, she's a Doctor. She told me, almost in passing, that she'd applied to many schools to do her residency - with letters of recommendation from her mentor - UW Madison, UM, Stanford, UC Davis, Mayo Clinic, and a few more. She then scoffed that she wasn't getting her hopes up. I know she'll get one of these jobs. But standing there, she really believed that she has no chance. She's not just trying to get praise. I felt so much pride for her, because I love her like a sister, and to see her making this awesome life for herself makes me feel so incredibly happy for her. She stood there, a Doctor, a non-believer in herself. I stood there feeling like a worthless pile of shit. I haven't even finished college, and she's a doctor. She'll go on to make great money, do something she really enjoys, and live close to her family - who are amazing. I felt like an insignifigant flea with nothing to offer and no real future because I don't deserve it.

This morning, something startled me to visit Emilie's blog. I read many of the posts from November and December...the end. Part of what made her death so shocking was really the fact that a week before hand, she wrote this. I don't think any of us who weren't near her understood how much she was suffering, because she wrote with this fervor for life that was unwavering. She wrote with a passion that most of us with decades in front of us to live don't have. She accepted that her life path would take her in a different direction than others. I have read this article that she wrote for the Catholic Spirit many, many times. That article alone has helped me to understand faith in God, as people should see it, and how I can respect their opinion. And, apart from that, it can be interpreted for someone like me, an Atheist, as well. She's basically saying, what if we let go of what we cannot control? What if we put those things in the care of "the man upstairs" and concentrate on being what we are? Living the life we have?

Maybe Emilie didn't understand it, but long before she wrote that article, she did. She accepted that she was going to die, and her life path was different from those around her. Joy, to her, would be different. Happiness and success - to a young woman with terminal cancer - were not impossible because of a shortened time on earth. They were just different. Found in different places, made absolute in different ways. So many of us read her blog and expected to see pain, anger and sadness because that's what we think someone should feel when their life won't be the standard, the norm, what's expected. Instead, we found someone who had defined her own life in acceptance of what chance had given her.

For the rest of us, it might not be that easy. We don't even know what our life path will be. We, for the most part, don't know when we'll die, how much time we have. We don't know how long our family will be with us, or our friends. We don't know if we'll lose our health in some way that changes us. We don't know if the world will end. My friend Jason didn't know when his suffering would end, and he didn't realize that so much of it wasn't in his hands. He lost track of his life path, and because he was judging himself by someone else's standards, he made the choice to end is. I wonder - had he met Emilie, or someone like her - would he have done differently?

I don't have control over those things. I only have control over what I am, and what I do. Can I do what Emilie did? Let go of what's chance, and put those parts of my path in the hands of whatever makes those decisions? Can I live this kind of life and define success as it pertains to me rather than the greater world? Can I accept that this kind of life is equipped with the difficulties and dreams within me? That I might not start or end like them, so I can't expect that any part of my path will be like theirs?

I know, it sounds easy. But do you really understand it? Have you really accepted with living your kind of life is? Are you making the most of it?

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12.01.2009

Knock on Wood

Well, I know that it is not a good idea to talk about things before they are written in stone, but I'm going to go ahead and give you a little peek at something I'm working on.

Now, I might have mentioned in the past that the Drummer and I would be welcoming a new addition in to our family. I may have also mentioned that we'd have to move in order to do so, but some things have changed with our landlord (she decided she loves us) and we'll now be staying at the current apartment and the bringing new "child" in to our family sooner.

Now, I must say before going forward, there are only two things that are certain now. 1 - we ARE getting a dog; 2 - it WILL be hairless. What is not certain is that this dog will be the one, however, we're hoping he will be, and it's looking more and more to be true:



He is an American Hairless Terrier, he's a year old, and he's a rescue dog.

I don't expect you to croon over how cute he is, because I know some people don't love the hairless thing. He's not a cuddly poodle or happy golden retriever, but that's because the Drummer is allergic to all that fur. I, on the other hand, think he's adorable. I love uniqueness, and these dogs are definitely that. They're also active, long-lived, and pretty small and good for traveling with us.

Anyway, we're in the adoption process now, so wish us luck that this little guy will come home to us before Christmas. I don't want anything else!

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