Second Chances

Part of what makes rescue work so important and rewarding is that you are able to give these babies a second chance.  For some, you may be the only person to ever treat them kindly, pet them in a loving matter, and just simply tell them it’s going to be okay.  Others may have been given up on by their family.  The only life they ever knew, the only home they have ever had, the only people they have ever loved, gone all at the same time.  There have been so many times I would have given anything in my power just to let these scared babies know and understand that it’s not their fault.  But if I can’t tell them, I can try my best to show them.  The opportunity to give a scared animal a second chance, to slowly earn their trust, and show them you are not going to give up on them, touches a place in my soul like nothing else can.  My own life has not been easy, and I’ve fought many battles to get where I am, but I don’t stand alone.  I stand with the friends and family who supported me, stood by me, and gave me second (probably third, fourth, etc…!) chances because they loved me enough to do so.  My job brings me a lot of fulfillment, but some days are very heavy on my heart.  What hurts me most though is when someone is in a position to reach their hand out to help, and makes the conscious choice not to.  We all are able to help.  We all are able to show love and compassion.  I was inspired to write this post after a scared kitty was left at our hospital doors in a carrier with a note explaining how they were just no longer able to provide financially for him anymore.  He was terrified.  He wanted nothing to do with the staff, and I was instructed to call animal control to pick him up and take him to the shelter.  The thought of him being dumped at our hospital, and then having to be dumped all over again at the shelter shook me to the core.  I looked at him and told him I was going to fight for him to get a second chance.  We set him up in a cage and every so often I’d visit with him and just tell him that it was going to be okay.  Slowly but surely over the course of three days, he went from hissing and swatting, to putting his head out for bumps and scratches.  It brings my heart pure happiness to say that I will be taking him to his new foster mom’s house tomorrow.  I reached out to the rescue community, and found a kind soul who felt the same way I did.  This baby didn’t deserve to be abandoned, and he definitely didn’t deserve to be given up on again.  What he did deserve is a second chance.  I’m not naive to the fact I can’t save every animal in need that crosses my path. But what I do know, is that if I am able to help, I will.  I got second chances my whole life and offering them back is a way for me to never forget the long road that brought me here. 

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*This is one of my favorite pics of Baxter.  He was headed into work with me early in the morning as the sun was rising.

I get by with a little help from my beagle

It’s been a while since I have posted on my blog, and my life has taken some different turns over the last year, but I felt it was a good and important time to resume.  Working as a vet tech I see sick patients daily, and I empathize with clients when they worry about their fur babies.  I didn’t expect that I would be the one with the sick baby this soon.  Baxter, my amazing beagle, went in for a routine surgery a couple weeks ago, and I went ahead and ran a heart worm test on him.  I was shocked, and at that moment devastated, that it read positive.  I literally felt like someone had punched me in the stomach while the color was temporarily being erased from the room.  I love each and every one of my fur babies equally, but there is an unmistakably deep bond that I share with Baxter; it’s like we need each other equally to get through this life together.  I felt like I had let him down.  I wanted with all my might and will to be sick for him, but that of course just wasn’t an option.  All I can do now is just love him through this, and be confident that his medical care is in the best hands possible.  His treatment starts in two days, and it will be a rough few weeks afterwards for him and our family, but I know we will all get through this together.  Baxter was my rock when I went through a very tough time last year, and now it’s my turn to be that rock for him.  Baxter has always just been this carefree, amazingly sweet pup who never met a stranger.  I’ve never seen a person not be able to smile when they see him.  There is something very special about him, and I am so blessed and lucky that he made his way into our lives and hearts.  I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t scared about his treatment, but I have seen the amazing healing power of love, and know that he will just be showered with all the love we have to give, every single day.

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*Please get your pets tested yearly for heartworms!  When we rescued Baxter and took him to our original vet, they did not test him and advised us to wait.  We now know that was a mistake, but luckily him being on preventative helped to stop the progression of his heartworms.

Stop and Smell the Clovers

Robert Brault wrote one of my favorite quotes of all time when he said, “enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  I was reminded of just how true this is a few days ago when I was taking Baxter and Barkley for a walk at the lake.  It was the first time I had tried to actually run with both of them, and we were about half way around the lake, I had my headphones on, and they were running really well together side by side!  All of a sudden I felt a sudden strong tug from behind me.  I stopped, and Barkley was laying on his side in the middle of the grass.  I panicked and thought he had gotten too hot and collapsed.  I bent down to check on him, and he raised his head, gave me a lick on the nose, and just started smelling the clovers and little white flowers that were covering the field around him.  He wasn’t too tired to keep going.  He hadn’t collapsed from exhaustion or the heat; he simply wanted to stop and smell the clovers.  While jogging around that lake, music blasting in my ears, I had been missing out on all the beauty around me.  So, I took my headphones out, sat down in the middle of the grass, and just stopped to take everything in.  Barkley immediately jumped up and plopped down right in my lap, and Baxter laid beside us.  We sat there for quite a while in the warm sun, watching the bees buzz around us, listening to the birds chirp, and just enjoying all the serenity nature had to offer us.  When it was time to get up and head back to the car, I didn’t put my headphones back in.  I didn’t start running.  I simply continued to enjoy the little things the rest of the afternoon had to offer us.  That afternoon, sitting there with my pups, was what I like to call one of those “perfect moments.”  It’s a moment so simple, so honest, that fills me with so much happiness and peace, that at times it can bring me to tears just from the true pureness of it.  These moments stay with me forever.  I am grateful for Barkley reminding me that day to slow down and enjoy what’s around me.  Who knew that a simple jog around the lake would turn into one of my favorite afternoons ever?

How I Know I’m a Mom…

I started my new job as a vet assistant and tech in training this week.  So far I have loved every second of it and feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be.  The only drawback is that I’m now away from my sweet fur babies days a week for 10 hours.  Since having the last month off of work and school, not only have they gotten used to me being home more, but I have loved the extra time with them.  Barkley especially was a big concern.  We adopted him during my time off, so he had never been left alone for long periods of time.  Leading up to my first day I was racked with nerves, but my main thoughts were, “are the pups going to be okay?  Will have they enough water?  Are they going to get separation anxiety?  What if they eat something in the yard that upsets their tummy?”  You get the idea 🙂  Then I got to thinking.  I don’t have biological children of my own yet, but this must be what a parent feels like when having to go back to work or when their kids start school.  My wonderful boyfriend was sweet enough to get me a mother’s day card from Stormy, Baxter, and Barkley this year.  And you know what, I am a mom!  I love my angels just as much as if they were biological children.  I have the same worries, fears, joys, and special moments that all parents have.  I’m proud of my fur babies when they learn something new or conquer a fear (such as the puppy park!).  I stay up late with them if they are sick.  I rush home to be with them.  I make sure they eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.  I love them unconditionally and know that they turn to me for care and security.  I recognized the true depth of my love and concern for them on my first day of work.  I got into a wreck on the way home that evening, and after a few minutes of composing myself and letting the initial shock wear off, I called my boyfriend.  I was still pretty shaken and upset while on the phone, but within the first few minutes I made sure he could get home to check on the puppies since it was their first day being home alone together.  I also remember thinking, almost instantly after the wreck, how grateful I was that Emma (my stepdaughter) and the pups were not in the car with me.  I knew I wasn’t seriously injured, but I wasn’t concerned about my car or anything else.  I was just relieved they hadn’t been with me.  About a week ago I took the doggies to the puppy park.  Baxter had been many times before, but this was Barkley’s first trip.  I honestly felt like a mom taking her child to day care for the first time.  Barkley was whining and would not leave my side.  He stayed between my legs for the first 30 minutes we were there just looking for reassurance.  He slowly started to wander out to meet other dogs, but would then come running back.  He was constantly looking around for me to make sure I hadn’t left.  After the first hour or so he was running and playing, and by the second trip, well, he was a pro!  Those are memories I’m never going to forget.  I love watching him grow up and experience new events.  I feel lucky to have such an amazing bond with my animals.  I’ve come to realize through Emma, through my fur angels, and through others I’ve had the pleasure to meet on this journey, that my definition of a parent isn’t black and white.  A mom or dad to me, is someone who is willing to love you with no questions asked, someone who by instinct understands their needs no longer come first, someone who exhibits compassion and concern that they didn’t even know existed within them.  Families are about love and they come in all shapes and sizes.  I am not a product of a typical ideal family, and my family today is definitely less than traditional.  But you know what?   I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The common theme we all share is love…and we have plenty to give to all members, fur or no fur 🙂

We also just celebrated Stormy’s 5th birthday!  This is her rolling around on her new catnip mat Emma picked out for her birthday.  As you can tell, she loves it!

Life Lessons From a Beagle Named Baxter

I’ve really loved having these last few weeks off of work and school to spend some extra time with all my fur babies.  Sometimes I feel like my life moves by so quickly that I miss the little things, including just sitting back and watching the dogs play in the yard, or how Stormy can manage to make a bed out of the most random object possible and manage to make it look comfortable.  But I think I may have learned the most from Baxter through my observations.  He has this carefree, love of life, that I can appreciate, and I want to share some of his wisdom.

1) Forgive Quickly & Move On – With introducing Barkley (the dog formerly known as Gopher) to the home, it was natural to expect some sibling rivalry.  While for the most part they get along great, share beds and toys, etc., there have been a few games of tug of war that lead to scrapping.  After these tiffs, the pups had very different reactions.  Barkley would pout in the corner and want nothing to do with Baxter.  Baxter on the other hand, would take a second to regroup, and then go straight up to Barkley, tail wagging, sometimes with a toy (or peace offering as I like to think of it), and you could tell a general interest of just wanting to play and be friends again.  What I take from this is that conflicts are going to come up in life.  We can choose to sulk in our anger, or we can acknowledge them, make amends, and move on…or in Baxter’s “words”…grab a squeaky toy and get to playing

2) PLAY everyday!!! – Baxter has so much fun!  Whether it’s running laps in the yard, chasing bugs in the yard, or chewing up a stuffed animal in 5.3 seconds, he is always having fun.  I think this is such an important aspect in life.  Between work, school, errands, friends, family, chores, obligations…you get the idea…having fun seems to take a backseat.  So everyday, I’m going to try my best to take Baxter’s advice and have some fun!  There’s no excuse why I can’t fit a ten minute game of Guitar Hero in during the day, bake something from scratch, put together the picture album I’ve been wanting to for so long, or just take Bax for a stroll in the neighborhood.  I’m always amazed how when I make time for fun, I still have time for everything else I need to do, when I just swore I wouldn’t!

3) Have some quiet time – Baxter loves going outside by himself sometimes.  In the mornings when I’m getting ready, I watch him from the kitchen window.  My description of this won’t do it justice, because the sense of serenity evoked by these moments can’t be expressed.  Every morning, Baxter goes out, sniffs around the yard for a bit, and then just sits on top of a little hill in the yard.  He just sits and looks around.  He doesn’t chase anything, he doesn’t take a nap, it is really like he is just taking a few minutes to be alone and listen to the world around him.  I love watching him in these moments that I call Baxter’s morning meditation 🙂  Just like Baxter, along with playing, I’ve learned I need alone time, every single day.  I need time to be by myself with the world, to think or not think, but to just be with me.  The thought of that used to make me uncomfortable, but now I welcome it.  It’s no secret I believe animals are very similar to humans in their needs and wants for comfort and happiness.  I think Baxter enjoys his alone time just as much as I, or anyone else does when it’s allowed.  And then afterwards, bring on the squirrels to chase!

I know as time goes on, and I get to know Baxter more, there will be many lessons to add to his list of wisdom, but these are the ones that were really on my mind today.  Forgive quickly, play daily, and spend some quality time with me.  It seems so simple, but I know for me, when I strive to make these a daily part of my life, life is better, happier, and easier.  Thanks Baxter.  Image

Easy Like Sunday Morning

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Sunday mornings are my favorite time of the week.  I like to get up early, make coffee, play with the pups, and get some snuggle time in with Stormy.  I owe a lot of my happiness to this little kitty, who I tried like hell in the beginning to not keep.  A year or so before Stormy came into my life, I had lost my 16 year old cat Clara, who was literally my best friend.  It was unexpected, and I was heartbroken in a way I didn’t know was possible.  I swore up and down that I would never get close to another fur baby because I couldn’t bare to feel that pain again.  Well, it just goes to show that decision wasn’t really up to me.  Stormy marched right out of the woods, crying, brave, and covered in fleas.  She could fit right in the palm of my hand.  She stayed on the deck for a couple days and even strutted over to the neighbors house to hang out.  My neighbor, who I could relate to oh so well, always kept food out for the neighborhood stray cats.  His wife loved Stormy, and I thought, “perfect, they can keep her!”  Turns out she had a cat allergy and they couldn’t be in the house.  So, I took her home, cleaned her up, and finally let her sleep in the house.  She followed me everywhere I went, and I fell in love with her immediately.  I even carried her in my purse sometimes when I ran quick errands.  She was full of energy and love.  For several years it was just me and her.  Every night when I came home, she would hear my car pull up, run to the window and start meowing.  I could hear it from the door and I loved coming home to that unconditional love. Even now that it’s not just the two of us, she still runs up to the window (for mine and Derek’s car) and waits for us to come in.  When we got Baxter it definitely took some adjusting for her.  At first she wanted a playmate, but Baxter was scared of her and would just run away (seems backwards right?).  She should have been careful what she wished for, because now he is always ready for a game of chase the cat!  With Gopher here it seems to be a nice balance for her.  She’s more comfortable jumping right in, because Baxter’s focus has shifted some.  But she really seems to have a soft spot for Gopher, almost like she knows he needs some extra love.  She’s not in the least bit scared of him, and the two times he did jump at her, she gave a soft little pop to the nose, nothing too hard and no claws.  She tries to eat from his food bowl, while he’s eating (now that’s brave).  And yesterday I caught her cleaning him while he was sleeping.  It was so sweet.  That’s the amazing thing about this cat.  Deep down she’s a caregiver.  She snuggles with me and won’t leave my side if I’m upset.  She’s there at the right time, and always has been from the very beginning.  She’s funny, weird, moody, and loving…she fits in perfectly with the rest of us 🙂

May 25 2012 – First Post!

Gopher – My current foster

This is my first official blog post!  Hoping to be one of many many.  Well, if you read my “about” page, I want bore you by recapping here.  I’ve spent the day getting  over a tummy bug, and enjoying the company of Stormy, Baxter, and Gopher.  Stormy has been extra snuggly today so I think she knew I wasn’t feeling too well.  She has always been able to figure out my mood and she is never shy about making sure you know exactly what mood she is in!  The pups are passed out beside me, and I’m gonna let Gopher sleep as much as possible so he can get all his beauty rest for the adoption event tomorrow!  I’ve got mixed emotions, which I expected.  He has fit in so well here with all of us that it’s going to be tough to see him go.  But, at the same time I want him to find a forever home so we can take in another pup and give him/her the much needed love every four legged little one deserves.  I get so attached to animals so quickly that this could be tough, but I have a feeling that knowing these pups are going to good homes is going to make it much easier.  So, tomorrow I will report all about my experience with my first adoption event…and of course if Gopher was adopted or came back home with me!  Fingers and paws crossed 🙂

5/27/12 – Gopher was not adopted at the event yesterday, so he is back home with us.  We are all very happy to have this extra time with him.