Archive for October, 2010

I recently read the book Cowboy & Wills and was very surprised at this book. I mean I am an avid dog lover and LOVE stories of humans overcoming difficult situations or disabilities but this one was so well written that I was riveted and decided to comment on it.

This book was REALLY good. It’s rare for me to find a book that rivets me and I can’t put it down. This was one such book. But the book also makes you think about situations in your own life. I felt really bad of the outcome… which I will not comment on as to know ruin the book for you all reading, or possibly going to, read it. However, this book did make me think of things from my past.

The book is written from the writer’s perspective as it is also about a few years of her life and her son. Her son also happens to have Autism. It’s ultimately about a boy and his dog and how this dog helped her son and family come to cope with this disorder and how they have progressed.

Growing up I was never without a dog. When I was not even born yet, my mother wanted a dog and my Dad was very direct and firm and said NO. Not yet, let’s raise the kids and then see about a dog. My mother agreed, and that night she went to the supermarket and on the way out there was a lady giving away puppies. Obviously, my mother came home with the puppy. Back then people would actually do that. When they had puppies they didn’t want or couldn’t care for, they would put up a flyer or place and ad and give them away. Not today. Nowadays, everyone thinks “If you want it you’ll be willing to pay for it”.

Anyway, that dog was our first dog. She was a mutt and my mother loved her to death. She was the best babysitter ANYONE could ever have. I was a baby when she was a puppy and my brother, being the juvenile delinquent that he was, and my parents didn’t see it, would have us do things that weren’t mean but was just kids being kids and playing.

If we were in the playpen and we wanted to play with the puppy, my brother would grab her tail and I would grab her collar and try to pull her into the playpen… it never worked but I am sure the dog choked a little. Or if the dog was hiding under the couch, my brother would have me call her out and he would jump on her from off the couch. It wasn’t things we did to be malicious, but it did play into the dog not liking kids at all when she was a couple of years old.

But she would love and protect us anyway. My mother would tell me when we were older that she would never let us outside to play in the yard unless the dog was with us. She told us that if we were doing something we shouldn’t have been, she would bark continuously until she came out. (I actually call that a stool pigeon, not a dog!) Or if we were climbing the fence, she would bark and then bite our diapers and hold us in place until mom or dad came to get us down. These are traits you cannot teach a dog. Either they do it or they don’t. She came into our lives to protect us in a way no other really could.

When my Dad put her down at 15, I was not upset. By then she was more tolerant than friendly towards us but not a truly friendly dog. I did miss her a little but not as much as I should have seeing how much she was REALLY there for us when we really needed her.

My father came home with a Labrador puppy which I called Gypsy when I was about 13 or 14. She was the runt of the litter and had one weak from paw. She was a little mentally slow in some cases, but she was an awesome dog, and she became MY dog. I remember when my dad brought her home, she went to run into the kitchen, hit the linoleum and both paws splayed out in front of her and she basically pushed her face across the floor. It was funny and cute and she didn’t care we were laughing at her.

My mother was not pleased. She felt we were giving up on our first dog as she was showing more signs of getting older and yelled at my dad that she didn’t want to get another dog yet. He retorted by saying that’s what he said when she came home with the first dog. That ended that argument and started my relationship with the best dog ever!

Gypsy came into my life at precisely the right time. At the time I was about 14 or 15 and my parents fought ALL the time. I am not going to go into why they were fighting in this post but I definitely needed her and she definitely needed me. Being the runt of the litter, it was to come live with us or go to a shelter. She came with me EVERYWHERE. She would be waiting at the closest corner of the yard for me when I arrived home from school. She would come with me on my paper route, even when me and my friends were just going out to the paths to the creek and Lincoln Park to hang out.

On my paper route one day, I had a LOT of newspapers and the shopping cart was REALLY heavy. I was having trouble controlling Gypsy AND the cart so I tied her leash to the cart so she would not run into the road and I could focus on pushing the cart. Well Labradors are a working class dog. They LOVE to pull things. I learned this when she starting pulling the cart. After a few weeks of this, the little runt dog with a very weak front leg became the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Labradors. She would help pull the cart and even go with me when I had to go collecting. The customers would even give her treats and she LOVED it.

She also would never let me stay upset long. She knew exactly what to do and when it was needed. If I was upset and cried she would jump all over me, or anyone who was upset/crying, and lick them until they couldn’t help but to laugh. Then she cut her elbow one day and I noticed that it was not healing. We brought her to the Vet and it was biopsied and found to be cancer. She was about 4 or 5 at the time. I started saving my money to have the operation to have the tumor removed. The day we were going to bring her to the vet she was gone. My mother told me that she was sensing that she was dying and went off to die when my brother left the gate open. It wouldn’t be until a couple of years after my mother’s passing that I would learn that she brought Gypsy to be put down. The vet advised that the cancer had spread too much and that was the best thing to do.

At the time it was the best thing for my mom to not tell me, but now, as I am writing this, I feel a little remorseful that the dog who was there for me when I needed her… I was not allowed to be with her when she needed me.

My mother also had a love of German short-haired pointers. One of our neighbors had one growing up and my mother just loved the breed. One day my mother and sister had gone to a garage sale and the people were moving. My mother was interested in the lawn furniture and next to the furniture, playing in the grass with the sprinkler was a German short-haired pointer. My mother showed interest and a couple of days later, since the people who were moving could not have dogs at their new place, gave her to us. She was a beautiful dog. She was a rare liver-colored pointer. Normally they have a lot of spots. She was well trained and she was VERY fast. When she ran in a field it sounded like a thoroughbred horse was coming at you.

When my sister was little and going to elementary school, she would sometimes follow my sister to the school and my mother would receive a call saying to come get shadow because she is running around the school looking for Kelly. All the kids loved her and played with her, the parents at first thought she was a Doberman and were afraid but then came to when they saw her up close, and the school… well they just didn’t want her running around INSIDE the school.

One day, when I was away in NJ for the summer with my cousin, my mother called and shadow had been clipped in the hip by a car but she was ok. However a few years later that hit would cause hip dysplasia to set in and she would lose all use of your rear legs. It was to the point that we had to pick her up and bring her outside to relieve herself. My dad had to bring her to be put down and promised that he would never bring another dog in, so if we wanted another dog, when the time came it would be up to us to bring the dog in to be put to sleep.

After a couple of months my sister picked out a Dalmatian and we found out EVERYONE loves Dalmatians. She was extremely friendly, very beautiful and loved everybody… except small dogs. No idea where that came from. She was my sister’s dog, but when she became older she was definitely my dog. Whenever I came home from upstate we would go on these REALLY long walks and she loved every minute of them. She also thought she was a lap dog but she weighed about 80 pounds or so. She became overweight from lack of exercise as well as my mother buying the wrong kind of dog food and, because the manufacturer had 2 similar shades of pink bags, was giving her weight gainer food instead of lean food for dogs with a lot of energy.

We learned a lot of facts about Dalmatians from owning one. Most people know they are born without spots and the spots come in later, but most people don’t know that, due to over breeding them in the early years before cars were common, they are also born deaf and regain some hearing later as well. They are also the sweetest dogs but are on the top 10 most dangerous dogs list. We found that out when my father’s home owner’s insurance was canceled due to having a Dalmatian.

We also found out that the life expectancy of Dalmatians is 10-11 years. Casey was in great shape. Even in her old age she had these spurts where she would act just like her puppy days. But her days of long walks were WAY behind her. The 5+ mile walks we used to walk were replaced with walks of less than ½ a mile. She slowly succumbed to old age. She used to run up the stairs and lay at the top looking down so she could see everyone who came near the door to compensate for her loss of hearing. That is until I was home then she would sleep in the bedroom with me. She slowly lost her ability to hold herself to go to the bathroom until she could tell us and then go outside. She started having many accidents in the house and then one night she started bleeding very badly from her mouth. It stopped but we felt it was time. By this time she was only going outside for short periods of time and having trouble getting back up the 2 small steps to get into the house. She didn’t wag her tail much at all and she seemed depressed.

My sister came over and she agreed it was time. She said that her head was sunken in on each side right above her eye socket. We brought her to the vet and miraculously she went back into puppy mode. We think it was because both Kelly and I were there walking her, but ultimately we knew what needed to be done. She went peacefully and quickly. She was a great dog and we loved her dearly but we couldn’t let her suffer anymore. At over 14 years of age, over 3 years past the normal life expectancy, she left us. This time I was there to say goodbye and it was upsetting but also felt really good that the dog didn’t go alone.

Dogs become so much a part of the family, if you have one, that the emotions are overwhelming when you have to say goodbye. We have not had a dog since but I am looking forward to getting a dog when time and lifestyle allow for it. At least I know that all dogs really do go to heaven!!!


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I am dumbfounded, astonished and, sad to say, embarrassed about what I read a couple of days ago. It made me embarrassed to be an American and I am VERY proud to be an American.

My browser homepage is Google and I set it up to show me the news. One of the first things I saw was about a fire department that actually sat back and watched a resident’s house burn to the ground because he did not pay his fire department fee, or whatever they call it.

Apparently, the town the resident lived in does not have a volunteer fire department so the nearby city who does have a fire department charges $75 a year for the fire protection. The resident, whether they forgot to pay it or decided to not pay it with the economy… to me it doesn’t matter. Because the resident didn’t pay the 911 operator told them tough luck. Since you didn’t pay, we will not be coming. So then the neighbors, who DID pay called and the fire department came but did not do anything and were ordered to sit by and do nothing!!! All because of $75?!?!?!?

Is this what the nation has become? If you do not pay, we will let your life’s work, memories, etc just burn to ashes? What happened to doing the right thing by your fellow man? What about just being humane and helping out someone in need! They were there. They had water and hoses! They not only allowed someone’s home burn along with all their dearly possessions, they also allowed the persons dogs and cats burn to death! I call BULLS#!T on that one.

There was a time when an entire town would come to the aide of anyone who was in need. If someone’s barn went on fire all the neighbors would come running with buckets of water and do anything they could to help. But here it is the TWENTY FIRST century and because of the measly amount of $75 these sorry excuse of people who are NOT firefighters but crummy excuses for human beings let animals burn to death and a person’s life go up in smoke.

I truly hope Karma comes around to each and every one of those pitiful excuses in that fire company and gives them exactly what they deserve. $75 dollars. Regardless of any reason, they should have done the right thing and helped. We are supposed to help each other out and by not doing so shows that instead of evolving as a species, we are devolving as human beings.

I am very ashamed and, of course, nothing will happen to the people who allowed this to happen. But if it was a rich asshat who didn’t pay and their house was burning… that would be a different story.

I think I am being a bit too hard on people. I think people as a whole, in light of the catastrophe, are good and would have done the right thing. Why this happened is NOT the American way. Why these firefighters actually followed the order is beyond me and THEY suck. The jerk who called the order, he needs to have the shoe put on his foot and watch his house burn while no one does a thing to help. I know I don’t plan on staying in New York, but I know for sure that Tennessee is DEFINITELY not where I will ever be moving.

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He saying goes “Time heals all wounds” and, although that is very true in some instances, sometimes the opposite is true.

The true idea behind the saying is to give yourself time to heal and you will find out you can get through anything. But in the case of this post, time is making me hurt a little. The reason for this is that I a couple of weeks ago it was my birthday. I don’t particularly care about my birthday. To me it’s just another day of the year, I become another year older (now I am 40!!! EGADS!!!) and I receive phone calls from my family. Now that I am married Erica is always the first one to say it to me. Then I received a call from my friend Laura whom I work with. After that it was my father, then my brother and the kids and then my sister left me a message with my nephew on the answering machine and then we talked later. Oh and then about 60+ people wished me a Happy Birthday on my facebook page.

The reason I became slightly hurt is that every year for as long as I can remember, my mother was always the first one to wish me a happy birthday. When I was little I would come rushing down the stairs, of course more for presents then for wishes, and my mom would say Happy Birthday and if my Dad was home he would say “It’s the birthday boy!”

As I grew older it was always the same, my mother wishing me a happy birthday as I came downstairs to shower and ready myself for school. In high school (or the years of hell as I refer to that time) I became introverted in regards to my family and preferred to not to hear the happy birthday, but my mom did it anyway.

When I grew up and moved away for those 6 years I still received calls from my mom on my birthday but the calls were at work. By now I welcomed the calls again and would talk with my mom for a while before getting back to whichever computer crisis I had to correct at work.

Then, in 2004, Mom died. Everyone who knows me well knows the story of how I did what needed to be done and then after the funeral went back to my life upstate and did nothing but work 2 jobs for about 2 months or so. That is until the fog cleared and I found out my little sister was going to my dad’s every day after work and it was her honeymoon year of marriage. SO I moved back to Long Island to live with my dad, at 35, to help him with the transition.

Of course mom could not wish me Happy Birthday anymore but I guess I never realized it until this year… at 40! It happened because my brother called and had my youngest niece wish me happy birthday and then my oldest niece got on the phone and we talked for a while then with my brother. After the call Erica asked me how Katie was. Now Katie’s first name is Catherine but is called Katie sort of as homage to my mother. The problem is that we were talking about names and I actually forgot the spelling of my mother’s name! It bothered me a lot. How do you forget your mother’s name? You are with her, hopefully, for a LOOONG time. It was like a short circuit in my head. The names Cathy and Kathy kept bouncing back and forth in my head. Then Kathleen and Catherine and I honestly could not remember what her name was. It took me quite some time for me to remember that I always considered myself the black sheep of the family because everyone in my family has their first name starting with the letter K, except me.

After this I tried to remember what my mother looked like and that took me even longer. Finally I looked at a picture of her to remember. And that is where time sometimes causes wounds. It hurt me to think I forgot my mother. I mean I didn’t. When you lose someone close to you, you don’t forget them per se. But you do start forgetting subtle things like what they looked like or how they felt when you hugged them or how they smelled. But the memories are all intact. I remember being 5 and going to Maine to the cabin we would spend a week at and trying to walk up the road but was too afraid to because I kept hearing a bear in the woods. And I know I heard that darn bear. We were in MAINE almost in Canada! I remember going for rides in the big Ford station wagon we had to see relatives in New Jersey, which was where mom grew up until she married Dad. I remember my Mom bringing me to the hospital when I was sick at age 7 with chicken pox AND pneumonia and she stayed with me during visiting hours every day for the 3+ weeks I was there and then all the drives back to NUMC for twice yearly visits.

Those memories are what are important. They are what make the closeness with people. Sometimes things fade over time like what someone you lost looked like, but the love for them doesn’t. I still miss her and wish MANY times over the past 2 years she was here to help me with questions I had about my choices and getting married and such. But she got cancer and passed and in her passing she still helped me. It was that last week I watched her fade away that I decided to become a nurse. Now I am in the homestretch of finishing and I long for her to be here to see me graduate and become a nurse. I wonder what she would think of my choice and what she would say. But all I have to do is close my eyes and I can see her face and know she is happy… it’s just the face is a little faded and what she sounded like is a little muffled.

I miss you mom!

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