Aging ain't for sissies. Neither is chronic pain.

Posts tagged ‘animals’

The 4 Elements, Animals and Harry Potter

I’ve been pondering things.  Specific things.  For instance, things which can bring something positive to our lives but are also capable of bringing something negative as well.  For me, I consider things like the four elements, animals and Harry Potter a good place to begin.

The four elements… let’s start with fire shall we?

I don’t know many who would reject the comfort that comes from a kick ass blazing fire on a cold night or the fun and companionship of sharing a bonfire and s’mores.  Staring into a fire can elicit calmness and introspection but fire can also bring destruction. Forest fires, house fires, brush fires, just to name a few, can create terror, fear and heartbreak.

Water.  Ahh water. The relief from a hot shower for tired, achy muscles or the relaxation of a dip in the pool can extinguish a bad mood.  Is there not a certain awe and mystery toward ocean waves lapping at our feet knowing they may have touched distant, foreign shores and washed over some of the most magnificent finned creatures on earth?  Beware, water can be terrifying as well. Floods, drowning and the ruination of vast amounts of property is devastating.

Air.  Oh how I love a gentle breeze!   My dogs love it too as it brings scents from far away that only they can detect. Perhaps they silently wonder why the aroma of home cooking passes gently on the breeze from other houses but rarely their own.  Air, as necessary as it is for life, can take life as well. The angry relentless wind of hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons can destroy everything its path.

Chilli and Willow ~ so that’s what home cooking smells like!!

Earth.  Mother Earth.  Holding us in the palm of her earthly hands she keeps us grounded and reminds us that we are in her care.  Make no mistake, she gets angry and reminds us we have much to lose. Her cries go unheard and she rumbles, shakes and spews out fire in an attempt to get our attention.

When I ponder things in my life that can be both wonderful and/or scary, guess what pops into my mind first?  Learning.  (I know right? How can learning be both wonderful and frightening?) I love to learn. It’s one of the most important parts of my life. It feels good to learn something new but it can also be quite unsettling because it forces change and growth and this can be destructive to old ways of life.  This does not mean everything has to go to hell in a handbasket but it might seem that way at first.

The bottom line is once you learn something you can’t unlearn it and this can change we mindlessly enjoy into something painful.  What we learn changes us.

For instance I can’t unlearn the significance of bees to our environment and that we are losing them at an alarming rate and in devastatingly huge numbers.  For the longest time I had no idea about this problem but once I learned I couldn’t go back.  It was time to stop looking at dandelions as the enemy and also lay off the pesticides and other poisons that are destroying our bees.  This knowing has drastically altered how we handle pest control on our property.  Simple yet dramatic lesson.  Bees are da bomb.

I can’t unlearn what I’ve discovered about animals in factory farms. I can’t “unknow” the agony, terror and confusion they suffer and this has changed me and how I look at the food I eat.  Painful learning but necessary.

I can’t unlearn how soul crushing it is to keep animals captive for our entertainment.  I’ve said it before, animals should not be forced to carry the burden of entertaining us.  That is not why they are here.

On a more positive note, I cannot unlearn that animals have souls. They have the spirit and wisdom of the ancients and they know far more than we can grasp. It is fascinating and awe inspiring.  They are here to journey beside us and teach us, not to pad our wallets or perform on demand (don’t get me started.)  One of the most beautiful things about animals is not only do they have so much to share but they are willing to do so with the very species that exploits them.  And it’s not just four-legged animals; it is fish, reptiles, birds and bugs oh my!  Every living thing has something to teach us and these wonderful lessons cannot be unlearned.

On a final note (you were wondering when I’d get to the Harry Potter portion of the program weren’t you?)…I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong with waiting over a decade to watch your first Harry Potter movie.  It’s okay not to know how Voldemort breathes through that nose or what in the name of Hogworts a muggle is.  What I can’t unlearn is that these movies suck you in until you watch every_single_one of them and now you’re excited about this Harry Potter phenomenon and everyone else has moved on.  Bloody hell!

Lucky for us the magic never dies and neither does the learning.



Unbreakable Bond

It has been my experience that a deep bond with a dog is rarely an immediate development. I’m not talking love at first sight as this is not necessarily an unusual occurrence when a human and dog meet. And then for some there is an undeniable instant connection, a kind of knowing that you belong together. But what is not instant, what does not happen at first sight, is a deep unbreakable bond.

The bond between a dog and a human develops as the two get to know each other. When the excitement of the first few days together morphs into a more regular routine, the human and dog observe and learn each other’s habits and quirks. Pretty simple, standard fare in the scheme of things. But it’s what’s happening underneath the surface that really counts…the building of trust. An unbreakable bond is wrapped in trust.

If a dog is important to us we try and do all the right things. We buy the best dog food, the fluffiest bed, the most durable toys. We get them vet care and proper training. These are good things. Important things. But in and of themselves they don’t mean much if we ignore the core of the relationship and that is trust. A dog will forego a meal, abandon a toy and sleep on a concrete floor if it means they get to be with the one they trust. The one with which they have a bond like no other. Trust takes time.

I think we do new pet owners a disservice if we don’t teach them that it takes more than proper, textbook care to build an unbreakable bond. It takes many things like patience, effort and keen observation. Add in love, play and quiet time as well. Above all else it is respect for another living being sharing a place with us on this planet. Sharing each other’s lives, building trust and in return being blessed an unbreakable bond.

Perry waiting patiently for his favorite peep.

Perry waiting patiently for his favorite peep.

It’s Your Gut Calling

In March of 2012 we lost our sweet greyhound Razz to lymphoma. It was devastating and we miss him every day. A little over a year later in May of 2013 and we were crushed to have to say good-bye to Finn, our first whippet who was with us for twelve years.

Thankfully our home was still filled with canine companionship with Perry and Flurry but our hearts were shattered and we couldn’t imagine putting ourselves out there again with a new dog. Perry and Flurry are seniors now and time goes by so fast. We didn’t want to allow ourselves to think about another dog.

In July we went to the Grapehound Wine Tour event – a weekend celebration of retired racing greyhounds and their adoption near Watkins Glen, NY. We very much needed some time away. I could probably stop right here and everyone would know what happens next but it didn’t happen quite the way I would have expected.

While there I got a text and photo from a friend about a whippet that needed a home. At first I wasn’t going to show Fred the dog’s photo because I assumed (ahem) he wouldn’t want to get another dog. Even I wasn’t sure – I had more mixed emotions than I can describe.

Eventually I showed him the picture. He didn’t say much at first. To be honest neither of us said whole lot for a while. I think he had as many mixed emotions as I did. The way we initially maneuvered this conversation before getting to the heart of the matter was like watching two people play tennis with a delicate crystal ball ornament. Finally we decided to talk to the person who had the whippet in question.

Once we confirmed this was not a dog for sale we moved forward. Due to the previous owner’s circumstances the puppy needed to be placed in a new home. The only thing she wanted was for the dog to have a permanent loving home and we fit the bill. I believe wholeheartedly that with the way the entire thing happened from beginning to end, it was meant to be. So instead of leaving NY to come home we headed west to pick up our new addition.

Enter…Willow. A puppy. Did you hear me? A puppy! I don’t do puppies. Fred doesn’t do puppies. We knew she was a puppy before we agreed to take her but still…we adopt adult dogs. Willow is a PUPPY! Ack! What were we thinking???? We weren’t thinking, that’s what. We were going on instinct.


Thank goodness we listened to our gut – mine was telling me that this dog, this puppy, was meant to be with us. Due to human circumstances she was 9 months old and had already been in two homes. Three times a charm right? Damn straight.

It’s been a month and Willow has gotten the hang of stuff – lots and lots of stuff. She hasn’t chewed anything but she loves to shake shoes hard enough to bang herself on the head over and over. And over. She has our routine down pat and she has put Perry and Flurry on notice – they might be older but there is still a lot of living to do. I can’t say enough how proud I am of Perry and Flurry for how they’ve handled the transition.

I don’t particularly like to compare one dog to another because they are all unique but Willow has a number of Finn’s characteristics and facial expressions. She’s funny and snuggly. She is going through an independent streak right now. She’s smart and still a little clumsy like puppies can be.

Sometimes I look at her and wonder how the heck it all happened! She’s young and busy, not exactly what we are accustomed to, but she’s full of so much love and she’s brought a youthful spirit back to our home. I’m glad we followed our gut on this one. 🙂

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