Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Dogs Affect Life

It all started with Terry, my wire fox terrier. I got him for Christmas the year I was 11. My parents and grandparents took me to a shop that was half pet store and half florist under the ruse of buying a poinsettia. The man in the shop yelled, "You are now the proud owner of a wire fox terrier" and I thought he was talking to the other girl. But he meant me!! This little white fluff came tear-assing out of the back of the shop and straight into my heart. Life was never quite the same.

Terry had to be put to sleep when I was 19. He was bitten by a pit bull and developed crippling arthritis at the puncture site. In hindsight, my parents were waiting for a cue from me that it was time to say goodbye. One morning, Terry was struggling to eat. I had to put his food bowl on an inverted soup pot so it was level with his mouth. I looked at my mom and said, "Tonight, we need to talk about this." When I came home that night, my parents weren't home and neither was Terry. I cried in private. He was the one I told all my secrets to and he never once betrayed me. He was silly and patient and obedient and proud and brave and even a little cuddly and affectionate when it was just me and him.

There were other dogs, but none affected me the way Terry did.

That is, until Rosie, The Wonder Poodle.

I adopted Rosie on January 31, 2009, when she was 16 months old. She was rescued from a livestock farm where the owner didn't feed any of his animals. Rosie was definitely neglected, and I convinced she was abused too. It took months before she would fathom the concept of trust. It took a full 18 months before any stranger on the street could touch her without her freaking out.

She's become playful and happy. Once in a while, I see the dark clouds in her eyes, but it's been happening less and less frequently.

Terry was aloof and majestic and Rosie is just trying to understand when love means. We got Terry when he was a puppy and he only knew love and having plenty of food and toys. Rosie was sold to that farmer when she was 5 months old and was confiscated when she was 16 months old. For that  11 months, she knew no love, no scratches on her chin (which she loves), not enough to eat, no grooming and no socialization.

Now, I hate to leave the house without my dog. I hate when the summer comes and she chooses to sleep on the cold bathroom floor and not on the end of my bed where I can feel the weight of her on my feet.. I never take her food away, even if she doesn't finish dinner until the next morning. I give her a piece of roast beef whenever I make a sandwich. I play "Go Get It," our version of fetch, long after my arm grows numb. When I go to the house of family members without her, they always ask me to bring her next time. I have friends who aren't necessarily fans of pets/animals say she's a nice, calm dog. I've had other friends photograph her and when they send me the pictures, they are just beautiful.

I tell my secrets to Rosie and she looks at me like she understands. She rests her head on my knee and lets me know that all will be well again in due time. When the pressures of being a single parent with a full-time job and an ass for an ex get to be too much, I cry on Rosie and she lets me. And when I pull myself together again, she nudges me hand for some scratches. Eye for an eye, dog version.

I grew up with mostly terriers because I can't have anything that sheds. I don't think I'd ever get a terrier again. I'd get another poodle, but I know I'll never get another Rosie.

Is this true canine love? I think it is...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sometimes, Caregivers Need Care Too...

I've read the blogs of several friends in the last few weeks and it seems that the caregivers out there are all stressed out. It's summer and it's miserable here in the Northern Hemisphere (I don't think I have any readers from the Southern Hemisphere, but if there are any, just take my word for it). For the record, I hate summer; I haven't like summer since I stopped going to sleep away camp in 1989. When the summer of 1990 rolled around and I had to put my big girl undies on and go to work I realized, with a quickness, that I would have loved to have been a camp counselor for the rest of my life. Yeah, I know it's hard to earn a good living as a camp counselor, but I digress.

Anyway, back to the topic. I decided to try a different camp for The Kid this summer. Cost me a bloody fortune, and I truly expected her to come home exclaiming about what a great time she's having. She's not. I soooooo want to send her to work so I can go to camp in her place.

I just get tired of taking care of everyone all the time. I'm a single parent and as I've stated in previous posts, Ex is useless. He thinks The Kid's clothes are magically laundered by fairies and than Rumpelstiltskin cobbles her shoes for free. He has no idea what it takes to keep a child healthy, safe, fed properly and happy. He thinks it's perfectly ok to feed her something she hates because he was forced to eat stuff he hated as a child.I have to wash all the towels this camp demands The Kid pack everyday and I wash all those swimsuits by hand because the washer will ruin the material.. I have to pack a lunch that I know The Kid will eat and I have to make sure she packs enough to drink on those scorching days. I have to make sure she gets enough rest even though I haven't been fully rested in over 9 years myself.

I also "care" for about 14 people at work. I'm the administrative assistant in a clinical unit in a hospital and I constantly have someone barking their needs at me. Who needs to have a check cut for the publication fee for a journal article they've written, who needs a place to sleep when they are here in the middle of the night  for emergencies, who needs me to un-jam the printer, who needs me to organize meetings, who needs me to make the MD's do things we all know full well they are never going to do, who need me to be both a pee-on and an administrator...the list goes on and on. I'm really good at prioritizing and problem solving, but I'm not a miracle worker.

I need to run away for a while. I want to escape, to quote a beloved movie, "I want to be unattached."

But I know, deep in my heart, I'll never be unattached. I am the kind of person who is the rock for others, but who has a hard time asking for help. I have friends who really want to spend time with me, but things come up, and as a single parent, I don't always have a Plan B. These gals stick by me, they check on me, they genuinely enjoy my company and I'm thankful for them.

Love and respect come in many forms. I just wish that it sometimes came in the form of a housekeeper or a junior assistant...