Moonflowers and Magic

Yesterday was Marika’s birthday, so I want to offer her a couple of gifts.

The first is a photo of the moonflowers growing in Debby’s Fairy Garden from seeds Marika sent. They have survived bugs, storms, and oppressive heat. Though they are not yet producing flowers, just to see them growing and persevering is a recurring gift–from Marika and back to her.

In my work with Rescued Pets Movement, there are hundreds of stories I can’t or won’t tell. There is a lot of triumph in rescue–many happy endings and new beginnings. But there are unfathomable losses. And there is always for me a struggle against judgment. No one knows all the reasons a dog or cat ends up homeless or in a shelter. The writer in me is always spinning stories, both good and bad. But rescue makes me paraphrase what a writer once said about grief and healing: Rescue begins when we stop saying “what if” and start working with “what is.” I can’t judge people’s motives or call what they do mistakes. There are decisions like theirs in my past, too. Sometimes circumstances and events overwhelm us, and we act.

Dash with his foster mom.

Recently I struggled when we learned about a Jack Russell Terrier mix in the shelter. He was twelve years old. He was sick with a cold and partially blind. He’d been brought to the shelter to be euthanized. The first thing I had to do was let go of the WHY, WHAT IF, HOW COULD THEY refrain in my head. That’s his past. When he was less than one hour from being put to sleep, a rescue in Colorado offered to give him his next chapter, and so we pulled him for care and transport. I named him Dash after Marika’s beloved dog, not just because they were both JRTs, but because I wanted him to have a little of the crazy energy of Dash when he was young, and some of the love that Dash was given every day of his life.

When I learned which volunteer would foster him, I knew he’d be cared for and loved every minute he was in Houston. The day he was brought to transport, he was the absolute darling of everybody. He doesn’t care that he bumps into things. He doesn’t care what happened before. He knows everything will be okay because it WILL be. That’s what matters. Little Dash didn’t have a care in the world, quite honestly, and I want to be more like him.

Dash on transport day.

One of our rescue coordinators told me the other day that she’d heard from Dash’s rescue. Here’s what they had to say: Dash has been quite the hit. Everyone [who] meets him wants him. He brings out everyone’s nurturing side. He was adopted today…

Now Dash really will have a home like Marika’s Dash had. Love and care. Companionship and all the good things a dog wants. His life is a gift to him, to everyone who helped him, and I hope to you, Marika. I think there really is a spark of your boy inside him.

Pet Prose: Patrick

Author photo.

“He worked for a branch of government security so secret sometimes even he wasn’t sure where it fit into the chain, and he’d been an agent for thirteen years. Internally, they were known as Wolf Pack, though an agent usually worked in the field as a Lone Wolf, making contact with local enforcement agencies as directed. On each mission, an agent was tagged with a name from the NATO alphabet combined with the mission location.

This time, he was Hotel Cairo. It sounded exotic, but he was actually stuck in Cairo, Illinois, a once-thriving town that now was underpopulated, undereducated, and underserviced. Worse, he had a partner, November Cairo, and he preferred working alone. At least she wasn’t inclined to chatter, but she had a way of leveling a stare at him that made him feel almost like he didn’t have more than a decade of experience or that he wasn’t a few years older than she was.

For three days, they’d had to stretch the bounds of credibility by pretending to be tourists in a place where he felt sure few vacationers came. It had been her idea to bring a couple of digital cameras along and give one to him.

‘Photographers are usually ecstatic over places most people wouldn’t spit on,’ she said drily on their first day out. ‘A camera gives you a good reason to size up things, stare at them.’

‘Yeah, right, I know that,’ he’d answered. ‘Sometimes a camera also catches something the human eye doesn’t register.’

‘Maybe not yours,’ she said.

That had pretty much set the tone from the outset, and it hadn’t gotten better. Now they were stuck at midnight watching a road that no one traveled, waiting for anything that looked suspicious. They’d seen nothing, not even an appearance by a deer or raccoon.

‘You know,’ November said, breaking a near two-hour silence, ‘there’s almost zero possibility of the motorcade coming through here anytime in the next three days.’

‘Doesn’t matter,’ he said, staring through the windshield at nothing. ‘It’s the assignment.’

‘How long has it been since you’ve done anything…’ she trailed off. When he remained silent, she finally continued, ‘…that you considered really relevant? Do you ever think we’re just some lawmaker’s pet project with no real mission or bearing on national security? Or even an experiment in how long someone who thinks they’re relevant will continue to do a job with no real purpose or function?’

‘Nope,’ he said. He’d liked her better when she was quiet.

‘What’s your name? Where do you come from? Who are you?’

‘Maybe this is an experiment, and they want to see how long I can resist your questions. Hotel Cairo, Wolf Pack, United States of America.’

He heard the sound that meant she was blowing her bangs out of her eyes, then she said, ‘I’m easy.’

He was sure she couldn’t see his perplexed expression as he turned his head toward her. Was this some kind of seduction?

‘That’s my name. EZ, the letters. Not easy, the word. And before you ask, the initials don’t stand for anything. My parents named me EZ because my mother was in labor about ten minutes before I made a graceful and nearly pain-free entrance into the world.’

‘I guess they didn’t consider the ramifications the name might have on a teenage girl?’

‘I survived,’ she said. ‘I grew up in South Carolina, graduated from a military academy then Boston College. Did some time in the Bureau and was moved to Wolf Pack.’

He was quiet a few minutes and finally said, ‘Code.’

‘No, it’s all true–’

‘It’s my name. Code. Old family surname that my parents made my first name.’

‘I guess they didn’t consider the ramifications the name might have on a future special agent of the United States of America?’

‘I’ve survived so far,’ he said.

Even in the dark, he was sure her smile mirrored his.”

From Patrick’s suspense novel of espionage Code in Cairo.

I take photos. I write. Mostly I only take photos of Rescued Pets Movement’s rescued dogs and cats. Since working and volunteering don’t leave me a lot of time to write, I’m spending 2017 borrowing from what these dogs and cats are writing. They said it’s okay.

Patrick named his characters in honor of donors to my Saving Pets fundraiser. Thank you!

Transport Thursday!

Patsy. Her face says it all. Someone has let her down in the past and made her anxious. Today, she’s a little scared and unsure. But there’s still in those eyes the subtlest trace of hope. Hope that what her foster and her photographer say is true: It’s going to be okay. At the end of this ride is a new life in which she’ll know love and fun, comfort and play. Kind hands, open hearts.

Happy life, sweet Patsy.


RPM is currently part of the Macy’s Shop for a Cause Charity Challenge that I talked about earlier on my blog. This time, I’m not asking you to contribute to my fundraising page.

What? Why not? I’ll explain.

First, I’m telling you that an amazing donor has offered to contribute up to $50,000 to RPM’s fundraiser if that donation will move us into first place at the end of the challenge.

Why is RPM so competitive?

Because Macy’s will award a $100,000 grant to the top fundraiser!

Why is RPM so greedy?

It’s not greed. It’s the means for dogs like my foster Omar and cats like those you see writing Pet Prose on this blog to be pulled from Houston’s kill shelters and get into traveling shape. It takes a lot of time, energy, and yes, MONEY, to make this happen. RPM’s board members are unpaid. RPM’s paid staff is kept lean and efficient so that donations can go to animal care and transport.

Please go read this story about Rudyard on Facebook to get an idea of what RPM’s staff does to make miracles happen. Rudyard’s is a story of compassion and hope, and I see stories like his over and over every day. At the end of the story is a link to the medical fundraising team. THIS is where I’d love for you to click and donate any amount. And if you don’t want to read about Rudyard, just please go here and know that every single donation gets us closer to another $150,000 to rescue, rehabilitate, and transport Houston’s homeless dogs and cats to forever homes.

THANK YOU from Omar and me. And by the way, Maddie was adopted. Hermosa was adopted. Every dog I’ve fostered who you met on my blog was adopted into forever homes after they traveled. It’s why I foster even when my heart breaks to say goodbye. It’s why I believe in Rescued Pets Movement. Thank you for every time you’ve shown support for RPM and the work Tom and I do. You are magnificent friends to us and to animals.

Omar is learning to play with toys!