Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Ozzy Taught Me

Anytime we ever hear of a dog attack, I ask my husband, "Who could love a dog like that?" I can never mentally envision a way to love a dog that has that aggression in him (her). But, aggressive dogs are not always scared nor always angry. Sometimes they are silly or cuddley or wishing for love and attention. Ozzy taught me that.

I always thought that all puppies could be cured of their spiritual woes with love, time and attention. I thought puppies would be easier to rescue. That's not always true. Ozzy taught me that.

I've always judged a person who owns an aggressive dog as brutish and abusive or silly and weak. But, they're not always so. Sometimes, they want to find a way to help an easily frightened dog. Sometimes, they love that dog and want to "make it better".  Ozzy taught me that.

I've always thought love, attention and time were enough to cure a dog's broken spirit. I always thought I was a better dog owner than most. I thought I could heal most dogs of their emotionally afflictions. I could not. Ozzy taught me that. RIP Ozzy, 3-13-2012. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chupacabre or Art Collector?

It's been a long working summer and I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.  I have travelled to the Bay Area twice, Tahoe twice and spent a large portion of my time searching local venues as well.  Tracking that elusive, almost legendary, creature, the Art Collector has been exhausting, to say the least.  No chupacabre could be so difficult to catch!

There have been some sells, some promises for future purchases and some contacts made.  Yet, I wonder-ponder-query...is it time for a sabbaticle from selling art? Should the pursuit of creating art overtake the pursuit of sales in a deadened economy? Are the Art Collectors in estuation? If so, could this be the time for a personal creative surge? I find myself craving the time and energy to create.  And so, as the events and shows die down, ideas float, surface and gasp for air.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


 I know this will sound odd: but one of the things I found humorous to watch when my sons were infants was them crying with total abandonment.  It made me laugh to see how seriously they took their own discomfort whether it be hunger, soiled diapers, or exhaustion. I would think, “What? You don’t have to make the house payment, your home isn’t burning and food always seems to find it’s way over your tongue and into your stomach.  What could possibly be so terrible for you? I would laugh and think, “I wish I had it so bad.”

It’s now 17 and 15 years later and just as of last week, I realized (no, not for the first time, but I hope for the last) how seriously I now need to take their discomforts.  Last week at my sons’ school a young man went home after school and, a few hours later, he ended his life.  I don’t know the particulars and I don’t need to know.  What I know and imagine everyday is that a Mom will no longer hold, smell, touch or yell at her son.  His Father will no longer imagine that son’s bright future; and two brothers will never have a chance to tease their brother while they toast him at a wedding. A young man, no different than my own, is forever gone. This young man is a soul I never met.  Would I have liked him? Would he have made our family laugh as so many other boys running through this house have done? It really doesn’t matter.  His passing is continually on my mind and he is continually teaching me as I deal with the quotidian details of parenting.

What worries my sons’ now worries me, more than ever.  Tonight is a school night.  We have a firm rule that there are no friends after school during the school week.  Tonight, my son’s friend texted, saying he needed to talk because he was angry and everything was closing in on him. Tonight, I changed my rules.  I picked the boy up and the two went riding. Tonight, I realized that all the rules have changed, that rigidity in parenting is no good in the teen years.  Tonight, I wished that other boy had had a friend to call.  Tonight, I was grateful that I made time to help an angry, tired boy; and, I know his parents have done and will do again the same for me. Tonight, we’ll eat dinner two hours later than usual…as a complete family.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Our Caesar

It was love at first sight, something in which I had never believed. He was looking adoringly at his savior, Cindy.  I remember thinking he would look at me that way. It took many treats, patience, belief, love.  Eventually, Caesar came to regard, not just me, but our entire family with that same love and adoration.
          He was patient with each of us as we forged our bonds of trust and love.  We also had to be patient with him.  When he first came to live with us, we were his fifth home in 8 months. He was without trust, angry with an, “I ain’t doin’ it!” attitude. At the same time he could be silly, funny and mischievous. We crumbled major barriers at the end of 3 weeks by taking him on a 3 day vacation to the Russian River.  There, he dug gigantic mud holes at the river’s edge, which he defended against the enemy invasions of my youngest son. He wrestled, roughly, with our eldest son, pulling him by the shirt or shorts, as the police had taught him. He exhibited a silliness and appreciation of laughter we had not previously seen. After that weekend, our life settle into a pattern of, "family with dog". Only one other time, about a month after that vacation, did we have any problem. My husband and Caesar had a final stand-down. Caesar challenged my husband for dominance; Caesar was looking for second-in-command position in the household. My husband won.  It was the last time we had worry in regard to Caesar's behavior.
          Over the years we learned many things about Caesar, including why the Folsom Police rejected him as a police dog, despite testing him out…twice. Caesar was a family dog with a great sense of humor.  He couldn’t be serious for long periods of time.  But, he never forgot what the police had taught him and would often wrestle with my husband by pulling his pant legs or shirt sleeves. He could have a temper, which he controlled well and fully.  There were few people he met that he didn’t like. But, he did not love toddlers, yet always made time to flirt with their Moms. He loved all our closest friends.  He greeted them with openness and love.  He made them feel welcome and was honestly happy to have them visit. And, he loved women. I believe that love of women started in his (foster) third home.
          Cindy was an animal rescue worker who had met Caesar at a shopping center.  Two boys were trying to find a new home for him and there was a woman trying to decide if she would take him.  Cindy gave the woman her card, and took Caesar home for the night. The woman never called.  Over many months, Cindy trained Caesar and tried to find him a home.  The police took him, but thought he was too young.  Still, Cindy tried to find him a forever home.  The police tried him out again a few months later, and gave up a second time.  When I finally came along, Cindy was nearing her wits end. Cindy already had an alpha-female golden retriever who did not enjoy the alpha-male that was Caesar. Cindy, her sister and her niece loved Caesar, but were diminished by the dogs’ quarreling. We promised Cindy we would always be a one-dog family; Caesar came for a visit and never left.  
          Our life progressed. Caesar was in integral part of that progression.  He attended baseball games, vacations by the river (his favorite vacation), trips to grandma’s house. He loved boating, but hated flying. He loved water, but hated to swim. He loved Tim, but hated when Tim hugged me. He made us laugh, sometimes until we cried. Caesar communicated his state of being more fully than any other dog I’ve known.  He was a wonderful communicator. Tim and I would laugh and call him “Rin-Tin-Tin” every time he led us to a door, pantry or other area. We lived together, as a family.
          When Caesar was 7 ½, my son, Sawyer, was going through a difficult time.  We decided to give him a dog of his own to help teach him many things, including responsibility. We brought home Wyatt, a mini-dachshund. Over a period of two months, Caesar’s emotional state grew from irritation and anger into full-blown love. He loved Wyatt like a son, caring for him and protecting him.  He also loved wrestling with Wyatt. Caesar fought gently, mouthing Wyatt lightly.  Wyatt fought like a warrior, often going for Caesar’s soft spots or eyes.
          Six months after we got Wyatt, the first signs of Caesar’s disease, knuckle walking, appeared. In a few months, I was web-searching knuckle walking and the results were horrific.  Caesar had degenerative myelopathy which is a slow-progressing genetic nerve disorder.  It started in his back legs and would eventually move to his front legs. Eleven months later, we knew it was time to put him down.  We had his Vet come to our home and Tim and I stroked Caesar’s face and shoulders while he left this world. We will forever be grateful for the years we had been given to share in his wonderful presence. Caesar was that wonderful, well-behaved dog and family member about which books are written and songs are sung. For us, he was our one family dog. He built relationships with each of us. He meant different things to us, each. He was a gift.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I wonder.  Who came up with the gimic for clerks to ask for a donation when checking out customers? It bugs me. Am I supposed to feel guilted into leaving a donation? And, it's not a write off.  Not for me, but it must be for the stores, right!? And, I also wonder what kind of idiot would donate this way, no tax right off, guilted into it....and usually by a child. That clerk is usually an "almost" child who has no idea of tax right offs or what "donation" really means.

It makes me so angry that it spurs me to act.  I take a poll everytime I'm asked at the cash register to donate.  "Does it bug you that you're required by your company to collect donations from your customers?" Or I ask, "Do people ever get mad at you for asking?" Once I even asked, "Do you donate when asked?" That question produced the best reaction!

"I don't have enough money to give it away!" she says defiantly, angrily, indignantly.  How dare I ask her!

I felt like saying, "Sweetie, none of us do.  Not now. Not anymore. So don't ask us either." But it's not her fault. She's doing what she's asked, probably in fear for her job.  So, I smiled; I gave her my best Mom's smile. I gave her the smile that said all I wanted to say and she understood. She looked as if she felt foolish, which was sad.  She shouldn't feel foolish.  Her company should feel foolish.  It's morally reprehensible that a company will collect "donation" funds from the very individual that supports them.  Then, they garnish the tax donation at the expense of that very same customer. I'm continuing my poll when asked for a donation at the tax register.  I hope the employee eventually starts complaining.  And, I also have stopped shopping at many of the stores I found that regularly ask me for a donation.  I don't shop at Safeway or Radio Shack or Home Depot or Trader Joe's.  I have also "unliked" Trader Joe's Fan on my Facebook page.