Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sweet Cheeks and Petunias

    Our latest edition, that came to be with us for a very short time, was a tiny bunny who lost his mother.  He was very weak upon arrival to our house and we placed him in a warm and cozy hamster cage.  He wasn't any bigger than a mouse.  My daughter, who keeps a supply of excellent pet names ready for use, promptly, without any second thought, named him Sweet Cheeks.  I prepared her for the possibility that Sweet Cheeks may not make it, but we gave it our best shot.   We lined his cage with grass, gave him goat milk from a bottle (because I'm the only one in the neighborhood who has a goat milk dealer on speed dial) and made him comfy.   As nighttime fell, Sweet Cheeks left this world.  A small funeral is planned for today. This won't be our first and won't be our last of backyard services.  I  should probably start making where all of these past critters have been buried before we dig in the wrong spot one day.   Somewhere out there are a series of cats, dogs, hamsters, goldfish from the fair, squirrels and two pet birds.

    As my daughter cried for a pet she had no more than an afternoon attachment to, I encouraged her to find something else to do.  Unbeknownst to me, my child was a virtual gardener and was planting, caring for and picking the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.  I watched as she clicked a button and rain fell across her iPad onto tiny seeds that soon sprouted into beautiful flowers.  They swayed as if some mythical iBreeze was flowing through the monitor.  You could hear the crickets singing as dusk fell on her little garden.  I'm certain there was now a tiny bunny living there amongst her flowers.  It was pleasing.  It was satisfying.  It was anything but real.

    If  I were the software designer, I would have incorporated the truths of having a garden into my computer coding.  I think, when you wake in the morning to go look at your tiny bluebells opening to take in the morning dew, you should find a large dog lying in your flower bed gnawing the head off of a Halloween scarecrow that he must have stolen out of someone's garage.   There would be tiny plantings pulled up by the root, hanging from the dog's mouth and dirt all over his head.  That basket of petunias, that you had just planted and cared for, would simply be gone without explanation.  There would be no signs of the flowers or the basket.  Knowing full well that it defied physical law for the dog to ingest the entire basket of flowers, you had to wonder exactly where it had gone and how.  That one Gerber daisy that your child loved would be broken off at the stem where the crazed dog had trampled it.  There would be no cool breeze blowing in across the garden, but a stifling summer heat and stillness that would wilt the strongest of flowers.  When it came time to water your beauties, you would find that the garden hose was missing from the spigot because your husband had gathered all of the hoses and hooked them together into a 300 foot long connection to water his own garden that was being eaten by woodland critters quicker than he could harvest.   If you could find a bucket to retrieve some water for your garden, there would be a fresh litter of kittens living in it.  The flowers would never stand a chance.

Luckily, we do not live in a virtual world.  My garden may be dried up and beaten down, but a lot of happy animals have traveled through it. All things injured or abandoned pass right by the landscaped homes down the street and make their way to my back door.  My children know how to provide first aid and love without question.  They know how fragile life can be for plants, animals and our hearts.   This is the real world.

The Puppy Bus -Part II

Under cloak of darkness, we gathered in the back yard to transfer Midnight, the last of our puppies, from our yard to the back of an SUV that would take him to The Puppy Bus.  The bus would leave at 7:00 a.m. and we were an hour away from the bus stop.  We wanted to make sure he got a good seat as he traveled all the way to New England. Nobody wants the seat behind the lady with the big hat for 16 hours.   Hopefully all of his traveling companions would be laying down enjoying their ride, rather than sporting a tall hat.   Although images of Dr. Suess's "Go Dogs Go" make me think otherwise.   The bus is clean and and organized.  It is heated and cooled for the comfort of the orphaned dogs that have been rescued and are now ready for adoption.  A foster family awaits the arrival of these puppies and hopefully will find them loving homes.   I hated to see Midnight go, but I hated to see him stay.     He needs someone that can give love to this energetic little puppy that only wants to jump up for love and attention.   He's a good dog, but he needs attention that I simply could not afford him.  I already have a small menagerie of animals to care for.   I admire the people on both on ends of The Puppy Bus run.  They are kind people who work hard to place lost animals in good homes.  No money was ever exchanged.  I had to provide shots and neutering, but that requirement is quite necessary.  This mission of kindness exists purely to care for dogs in need.  As Midnight headed north I whispered a prayer that he have a safe journey and that no one ever abandon their pregnant dog at my house again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Puppy Bus

The term "Puppy Bus" conjures up awful thoughts of a large worn out bus traveling at ridiculous speeds, full of unwanted puppies, headed for the island of misfit toys or someplace worse.  I have to admit, though, that it is anything but that.  The first time I heard this term was when I asked my neighbor to help me find a home for a puppy I had.  It was never my intention to raise puppies but after a pregnant dog was abandoned at our our home, puppies found their way into our hearts. The puppy bus was a good mechanism for the last puppy to make his way home.

We had given shelter to a friend who was down on his luck.  He arrived with his suitcase and his dog.  Unfortunately, our friend left, but the dog didn't.   She stayed with us as we all hoped her master would return for her.  Nobody knew she was pregnant until the day we came home to discover seven puppies in the yard.  "Were we blind?" I had to think to myself.  How did we miss this????  We are now down to one last puppy who desperately needs a home with a yard and kids and bacon flavored treats at the end of the day.  I advertised him on Facebook to my 268 friends and their kids and found that my friend count instantly dropped as I was being deleted left and right.

I tried an online Pet Finding service and was inundated with disturbing messages from people assuring me that ..."God will bless me" and that "...their daughter was waiting to hold my adorable pet who would surely help her heal after the tragedy. " The messages all seemed rather generic as if it didn't matter if my "adorable pet" was a dog or a cat or two headed newt.  While I admit that I would like to see the look on their daughter's face as she took hold of the two headed newt, I felt certain this would never come to fruition.  I know that there is no daughter and the only tragedy is the dog fighting ring or snake food pit that they failed to mention.  These people scare me.

Luckily, I have a neighbor who has dedicated her life to rescuing dogs.  She works with a rescue group out of New England and through her connections she has found my dog a possible adoptive family.  To get there... he will board The Puppy Bus.  He will simply need his second set of shots, to be neutered and possibly get a mani/pedi before he is in with the "in" crowd and allowed passage on The Puppy Bus.  While not a carrier found on Travelocity, it seems that this Mystery Machine Animal Carrier comes through every other Friday and takes puppies north to a new life.  I instantly envisioned The Green Mile or a long ride down death row to a pound somewhere, but my friend assures me that this is a reputable service that screens applicants and places dogs in loving homes.

Every day on my way to work I pass the Tyson Chicken truck and look into the eyes of chickens bound for their demise. I can only pray that the Chicken Truck is nothing like The Puppy Bus.  My puppy is a beautiful little boy that can never have the look in his eyes as a Tyson Chicken.    While I know this is the right thing to do and I trust my friend 100%, images of Rudolph's journey to the island of misfit toys fill my mind.  That and that weird little elf that wanted to be a dentist.  Between the pet finder messages, terrified chicken eyes and the cast out boy dentist, my mind is filled with scary thoughts that could impact on my little puppy.  All this convinces me more and more that I need to take to the mountains and build a hideaway like The Wilderness Family because people just frighten me at times.  I could have all the pets I want there and my little black puppy, Midnight, would have a good home. Of course, I could never catch and kill my own food so I would die out there in the Wilderness with my Foxfire books and failed attempt at building a shelter for all of us.  It is because of such that I will delete those crazy people's email, place faith in The Puppy Bus, and find a new route to work that is far away from the Tyson plant.   I have to trust that Midnight will board The Puppy Bus and have a pleasant journey to northern lands where he will be met with hugs and kisses from a real child waiting for "my adorable pet."


Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...