Button Sunday

My mind is far away today, in Florida, and it’s hard to focus on anything good. These are exactly the days we should, I guess.

I received the movie Maleficent I think for Christmas of 2014, but it was packed away until Tom and I began sorting through some bins that were never unpacked after our move. We found a lot of DVDs I’d been looking for or had forgotten about, including this movie. Some of us had a movie night at Houndstooth Hall Saturday, and I was finally able to see it. I loved this retelling and think Angelina Jolie was a superb Maleficent (my favorite Disney villain). The Moors have been a good place for my mind to escape to today–an enchanted forest whose inhabitants live peacefully together.

It also gives me a chance to revisit a couple of old posts, from 2007 and 2012, about my Maleficent Moleskine. Marika, it’s finally full after all these years, packed with more memories and mementos than you could imagine. This picture does its thickness no justice, really.

But thanks to your cards, it ends as it began: with this character who must, must be an Aries. Those horns. That attitude. That fiery rage regretted later. Total Ram.

It may seem strange to begin a post with a Disney movie and end it with William Faulkner, but the word that came to me as I watched the movie’s depiction of Maleficent was “prevail.” I sometimes reread Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel Price acceptance speech; today was one of the days I needed it. Here’s an excerpt.

I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Recently, at the Hall, part three

This guy had a birthday. Since it fell on transport day, we had cupcakes there so some of RPM’s amazing volunteers and staff could celebrate with him. And because he’s the compassionate person he is, he asked for only one thing for his birthday: donations to Rescued Pets Movement’s Crowdrise campaign to raise funds to restructure and reopen the Jack C. Alexander clinic after much needed repairs and modifications. If you’re so inclined, you can still show your love for Timothy J. Lambert and the movement to get Houston’s million homeless dogs and cats off the streets, out of the city pound, and into homes in other states where they’re desperately wanted. You can click here to donate or learn more.

This is our last dance

Because I haven’t had enough to do while I’ve been sick (is there a font called “sarcasm?”), I decided to foster a sweet little girl dog. It was supposed to be for only a few days until she traveled. But as things have a way of going awry, we realized after we picked her up that she wasn’t simply trying to recover from her spay surgery, something was wrong. She wasn’t thriving, and on the second day we had her, I learned she also had a brother in RPM’s program. Long story short, after getting her good medical treatment from RPM’s clinic and reuniting the siblings, we ended up with two fosters who’ll be with us until mid-April.

This is Shannon.

And this is her brother Richie.

They are six months old and both now in great health and full of mischief. I have to keep a close watch on them, because there is no predicting what trouble they’ll get up to next. For example, I have a small wooden child’s chair with a woven seat that became a tasty, tasty toy. While I was sweeping that up, I realized Anime was on the couch chewing on something. I assumed it was a piece of the same little chair, but no. She’d taken a magazine off the bottom shelf of a table and was eating it. This is the other problem with having two bad toddlers–they lead our teenagers Anime and Delta into misadventures. I keep finding things they’ve pulled from various shelves to hide in dog beds and other places.

Tom’s first question about the magazine Anime was eating was who was on the cover. Chris Martin.

I get crap at Houndstooth Hall for liking Coldplay; apparently cheeky little Anime is on their side.

Mostly I was glad it wasn’t this magazine, because I’d been planning for a while to use it for a photograph and some musing during this insane political year.

There are maybe a handful of songs in our lives that we can remember exactly where we were and who we were with the first time we heard them. “Under Pressure” is one of those songs for me. I lived in Tuscaloosa, two doors down from a friend who’s still my friend, in a big but characterless apartment with a guy who–on the rare times I think of him–I’m so grateful is not still in my life. He and I were listening to the radio one night when I heard this song for the first time. I liked Queen, and I liked David Bowie; the pairing on this song was a little bit of magic. I had almost no money then, but I went down the hill the next day to Albertson’s grocery store, where you could still buy a 45 record, and brought this one home with me. I have no turntable now, but I’m sure it’s full of lots of snap, crackle, and pop from being overplayed.

Freddie Mercury and David Bowie: two amazing artists, lost 25 years apart, and what a legacy they left with all they created, including this song. Since that long-ago day, “Under Pressure” has been covered, sampled, part of movie and television soundtracks, and used to sell products. To me, it still has the same purity as the first time I heard it. I’m still affected by the lines, Love’s such an old fashioned word, and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night, and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves, this is our last dance…this is ourselves…under pressure.

Despite the terror of knowing what this world is about, may I always give love…give love…give love…give love…”

Sometimes it’s so much easier to love dogs than people, but I try.

Photo Friday, No. 492

Current Photo Friday theme: Pink

Sometime this weekend I will turn 135 or some other random age that doesn’t matter. I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks, so you can’t imagine how much the cards and letters I’ve been getting cheer me. Special shoutout to Mark in England and Marika Girl of the Ozarks for the attention. Since it’s Easter weekend, a lot of friends are traveling, so birthday festivities will happen later–maybe I’ll be all well by then! This gorgeous bouquet arrived today from Tom’s parents, who always make me feel special on my birthday. Thank you!

This chair is just right

Good thing when Lynne moved to a house with a smaller living room, she gave us her late husband Craig’s big recliner. It clearly has enough room for Tom, Anime, Delta, and our foster dog George.

George came to us by way of our friend Lisa K’s friend Anita. George was a little stray who jumped in Anita’s truck, obviously having decided the mean streets of Houston were no good for him. She loves him to pieces but knows her home is not the right fit for him, so he became a BARC dog who was then taken into RPM’s transport program. We’re lucky to have him with us for another week until he transports to Colorado. George loves everybody, gets along with every other dog at Houndstooth Hall, and is Pollock’s mini-me.

One thing I haven’t talked about is Lynne’s move. She was really tired of her long commute to and from work every day, and since her son and his family have moved out of the area, she decided to house shop closer to her company. We are so lucky that her new home is a block from us! We share dinners at both houses, get to play cards more often, and she and Debby both have green thumbs and have all kinds of gardening schemes for Houndstooth Hall and Lynne’s new house (which I haven’t named but if Lynne doesn’t, I’m sure the right name will come to me soon). Photos to come!

Dog Tales

I worried about how Guinness would be after Margot died in November. After all, they’d been together since January of 2001, the best sisters in the world. They’d been great playmates and settled into their senior years with a little less playtime but always happy to sleep side by side and generally never more than a few feet apart in any room.

As Guinness aged, and as she began experiencing health issues, some of her habits changed. She stopped having separation anxiety. She stopped being happy inside a crate. She seemed to want more distance between her and other dogs. Although her pain is managed with medications, she isn’t as likely to sleep close to anyone–human or canine–nor does she seek touch in the form of cuddling or petting.

Margot was still willing to sleep aside another dog, including our fosters, and though she wouldn’t play with her new sister after we adopted Anime, she also didn’t mind if Anime curled up next to her.

Guinness watched the day Margot died on the green dog bed. She walked with us to the door as the vet and vet assistant left with her big sister. Later, she lay next to that bed.

They say dogs don’t cry from emotion or grief, but I watched Guinness stare at that bed, her head bowed, for a long time. Finally I lifted her face, and her eyes were wet. So I don’t know if “they” are right. I was really worried about her, but I think in this case, having a touch of dementia worked in her favor. Within a couple of days, she was just the same old Guinness. No decrease in appetite, no evidence that she was looking for Margot. She did scrutinize each new foster dog who came into the house, as if thinking, No, not Margot. Then she ignored them pretty much the way she has for the last couple of years.

Anime, on the other hand, is a great ambassador for our foster dogs. She can be a little reserved, so if they want space in their new environment, she doesn’t push herself on them. But if they want to make immediate friends, or when they decide they are ready to play and snuggle, she’s the perfect companion. I think she, more than Guinness, really noticed Margot’s absence and missed their naps.

I felt bad that she kept making foster friends for a few days or a week, then they’d be gone. When she would try to lie down close to Guinness, it would surprise Guinness awake and she’d move away. She doesn’t dislike Anime–I don’t think Guinness has ever disliked any dog (unlike Margot, who definitely had strong opinions about dogs who just would not do). I think because Guinness can’t hear or see as well as she once did, she startles easily.

I was working one day, and I came across this kennel card in an email. This was not a dog RPM was tagging at that moment, but I knew if they found rescue for her, they’d pull her from BARC as adoptable even though low heartworm positive. The name on the kennel card was Heather, and my first thoughts were, I always love a dachshund mix and Heather is not the right name for her. Then I closed the email and went to the next one.

Except…I couldn’t forget her. I see literally hundreds of kennel cards or dog photos a day as I’m working on records. I note the ones who appeal to me, the ones who I know will be adopted in a heartbeat, the ones who look like they’ve had a tough time and will be so grateful for a new home. When I’m considering dogs to foster, I think about whether they might be a good fit for Anime or if they have any physical illnesses that might compromise the health of a senior dog like Guinness, whether they’re of a size that might provide a challenge with Tim’s dogs–all kinds of things.

Since I wasn’t looking for a foster at that particular time, I couldn’t understand why my mind kept going back to Heather. I went and looked at the email again a few times. Then, not having even talked to Tom, I emailed our rescue coordinator. I told her if it was okay, I wanted to pull this dog, but I didn’t want RPM to look for rescue yet. I was thinking of fostering to adopt, and I didn’t want to take a chance that another group might pull her. I wanted to bring her home and see how she did with Anime. I made arrangements to pick her up the next day after her spay. Then I realized I needed to tell Tom; fortunately, he had no objections.

Debby went with me to BARC to get Heather. She was still pretty out of it from the anesthesia. On the drive home though heavy traffic, she loved it when Debby sang to her and would lie still in her arms and stare at her with wonder, then would turn to gaze at me like, Who are you? Where are you taking me? Once home, she went right into a crate and slept. Now and again, she’d open her eyes and warily look at Guinness, Anime, or me. That night Tom fed her about half of a normal meal, and she pulled the bowl inside the crate and tried to hide it. The next day, and the next, she continued to spend her time in the crate. Her appetite improved, though she’d pick up her food bowl and take it into the crate if it was set across the room. She still had no interest in getting or receiving affection from us, and a couple of times she growled at Anime if Anime ventured too near the crate. I was beginning to wonder if I’d made a big mistake, and I was relieved when RPM’s president told me that it would be no problem finding rescue for Heather if our family wasn’t a good fit for her.

Heather. It still didn’t sound right, and she didn’t seem right. I thought I knew what was wrong, so Debby and I took her to the clinic to be checked out, and sure enough, she had an upper respiratory infection. She received antibiotics, and less than two days later, her turnaround began. She emerged from the safe crate, begging for petting, loving to snuggle, ready to explore the house and the yard. I sent this picture of her to Jim, saying we were thinking of adopting her and hadn’t found the right name. “Delta,” he texted back. And truly, what else, with those jet-wing ears, could she be named?

We watched this progression happen.

As she gets even more comfortable, Delta is starting to push her limits so she can learn boundaries. We’ve begun the “slow” treatment for her heartworms. She’s officially ours, with a new collar picked out by Tom and her tag that matches her sister’s tag. Sometimes Delta’s “wings” even perk up.

Most of all, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship. They play together, sunbathe together, sleep together, and create a little mayhem together. They team up against Tim’s Pollock (still a big puppy at 60 pounds, he LOVES this).

All is right with Guinness’s world, too. She wanders the yard with her two sisters, eats next to them, watches as they run around, and sleeps soundly with them a few feet away. As a rescued dog herself, if she could talk, I know she’d say, “Thank you BARC, for saving them. I’m glad we met them because of RPM. And everyone should ADOPT, NOT SHOP, because rescue dogs are great friends and little sisters!”