Whither Blog?

My last post was in January. In the annual Pet Blogger’s Challenge, I said I my blogging goal would continue to be one post per month.

I blew that in February.

Not that I didn’t write a post. It’s still sitting in my drafts folder. I wrote it in the middle of February, meaning to go back and review it and publish it before the end of the month.

I forgot. Or rather, I kept remembering, thinking, “I’ll do it when I finish what I’m doing now… tomorrow morning… before I go to bed…” and of course by the time I finished doing what I was doing, or tomorrow morning rolled around, or I fell into bed, I forgot again.

Then March came, and I thought, “I have to publish that piece. I know it’s a little lame, but who cares. I need to get back on track. Not everything you write will be Nobel-worthy.”

And again, March came and went and nothing got posted.

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere of which I am part, a number of excellent blogs closed down officially. Rescued Insanity published “Post 902.”  Bringing Up Bella said farewell. I read this end-of-blog missives, and thought, “Wow. The ‘real blogs’ are closing up shop. Why am I persisting?”

Many years ago, I identified myself as a writer. I did my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, which was, ironically, the death knell of my ever really writing again. I found I didn’t get along with other writers. We had different values and priorities. I tried submitting a few short stories, a few query letters, got rejected, and gave up. Real writers don’t give up. They get hundreds of rejections and keep on going. But I didn’t write anything for over a decade.

Blogging allowed me to reclaim that part of my identity. It’s a safe way to call yourself a writer. I don’t send myself rejection letters. Even though the more successful bloggers are calling it quits, I can’t bring myself to do that. Even though I have a new career now, writing is still part of who I am. When I took a career evaluation tool called the Strong Interest Inventory during my degree, it showed artistic as my most dominant trait. While my personality doesn’t allow me to pursue writing as a full-time career (too full of rejection, to isolating, too financially uncertain), that artistic piece still needs expression. And this blog helps me do that.

So excuse my absence over the last few months, and forgive me if those absences occur every now and again. I just sold my house, and I’m moving in a few short months, so I’m justifiably distracted. I hope I can get back on track. But in the meantime, here’s a picture of the animals so this can still be considered a pet blog.

All four in strip

Posted in Blogging, Dogs | Tagged | 4 Comments

The Pet Blogger Challenge, 2015 Edition

It’s that time of year. Time to look back at what we’ve done and decide where we’re planning to go. Or, in my case, it’s more like jogging on the spot… or standing still… or maybe going backwards. (And thanks to Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com for sponsoring this event.)

PBC

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

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It’ all about me! ME ME ME!

 

Dumb dog doesn't notice the gradual shift in content... SNORT

Dumb dog doesn’t notice the gradual shift in content… SNORT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been blogging since June 2010. Wow. Mostly about the dog. But the cats are creeping in…

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.

My April post pissed off Jodi Stone of Heart Like a Dog. :) And my sister sent me an email telling me how much she loved my May post.

3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs?

I’m hearing this more and more from other bloggers. As Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield famously said, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” When it becomes merely labour, and not a labour of love, it’s time to re-think.

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content?

I have no clue.  The number of subscribers doubled (from 3½ to 7), but I have no proof anyone’s reading the blog because page views are way down and comments have dried up completely. (Mind you, I’ve been absent from even my very favourite blogs, so I can’t complain about that.) My posts are automatically tweeted, but I have exactly 50 followers (honest) on Twitter, so that can’t be it. I suspect my friends are re-tweeting my posts (though I wouldn’t know because I haven’t logged on to Twitter in a hundred years). Sometimes I get referrals from CommentLuv, so commenting on other blogs does help. But none of this is a thought-out strategy, so, uh… yeah. No idea.

5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?

The most viewed post in 2014 was “Learning Helplessness,” but the one that garnered the most comments was last year’s Pet Blogger Challenge. :)  “Learning Helplessness” took me a long time to write. I revised it, agonized, and resigned myself to hearing “tl/dr” (too long, didn’t read) from everyone. That might even have been the case; “most viewed” does not necessarily mean most read. And it was anti-shock-collar; given my readership, I was preaching to the choir.

6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?

My favourite post was “A Visit,” the one my sister like back in May. It’s highly personal and a shout-out to all the people I love best.

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year?  If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all? If you don’t do reviews, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

Don’t do reviews. At one time I may have wanted to– now it seems more trouble than it’s worth.

8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?

Get to know your fellow bloggers– you won’t be sorry.

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?

I wonder what's coming next.

I wonder what’s coming next.

None, really. Last year I jokingly said two posts per month, and that didn’t happen. So my goal  remains the same– trying not to give up.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

I could use a professional photographer… Also, you can all vote this entry “Most Useless Pet Blogger Challenge Post EVER.” I have to have some claim to fame.

This is a blog hop! Hop on here

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On A Good Note

We’ve had our cats for one year and seven months.

2014-12-31_103633

Mama Cat, Draq, and Polo

It’s not like the cute videos you see on YouTube (no, I’m not providing a link). The dog and cats don’t cuddle, they don’t play together, and when I leave in the morning to take the kids to school, the dog sneaks downstairs and eats the cat food. (Somehow the cats are still overweight. Not sure why.)

But it could be worse. Every so often I hear the dog scrabble after a cat; I seldom catch him in the act, but when I do, it seems he might be trying to play. Maybe. He’s never managed to catch them, and he’s never hurt them in any way. Likewise, he’s remained unscathed by sharp claws. Draq and Polo will consent to be in the same room with the dog– sometime even on the same bed. Mama, however, has been a different story.

Unlike her kittens, who have been indoors and with people since they were ten days old, Mama spent her first year of life fending for herself as a feral cat. She has adapted to life as a house cat with amazing ease. She shows no desire to leave the house, ever, and seems to understand that she is now dry, safe, and fed on a regular basis. As far as she’s concerned, she’s died and gone to heaven.

Me? I'm harmless!

Me? I’m harmless!

Except for the *&#@ dog.

Mama spent the first seven or so months hiding in the basement. If the dog came down, she hid under the couch. Slowly, slowly, she started coming upstairs. It got to the point where she would be in the hallway when Our Best Friend was present, but she’d keep a sharp eye on him. Any movement in her direction and she was down the stairs like a bullet.

 

 

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Don’t come any closer.

The dog sleeps in my room. I started finding Mama on the dog’s bed in the middle of the night, which seemed pretty funny. Then I saw her in my room from time to time. Twice she was brave enough to get on the bed for about 30 seconds. She allowed Our Best Friend to come closer and closer. And finally, last week, we had an end-of-year miracle.

I came into the hallway from the living room, and stopped dead. There was Mama Cat, on the dog’s bed. There was the dog, lying on the floor not two feet away. She looked perfectly relaxed. I crouched down beside her and stroked her back; she purred. Then the dog shifted his position, and moved to within a foot of her. She didn’t move, though I felt her tense. He leaned forward, and sniffed. Their noses didn’t quite touch, but were only an inch or two from each other. Then he leaned back, and she continued to purr. For about one minute. Then she ran for it.

The safe way to interact with dogs.

The safe way to interact with dogs.

One year and seven months later, there is still pee on the floor beside the litter box a few times a week. I have to put this house on the market in a few months — I plan to buy stock in Febreeze. I never planned to have cats, not with this crazy mutt in the house. I never planned to keep three out of the four I rescued. But those kittens are my hand-raised babies. And Mama… Mama, who hides from me 90% of the time, who pees on the floor, has become the love of my life. In one year and seven months, this feral cat has never once scratched or bitten anyone. She’s fearful and timid but purrs like no one’s business. She still cuddles with her babies, and once in a blue moon I can hold her in my arms and kiss her on her fluffy head. I think even Our Best Friend knows she’s special.

* * * * *

Tomorrow is the start of 2015. My Oldest will graduate high school and my Youngest will graduate grade six. We plan to move to a new city in the summer, somewhere I might actually be able to find a job. I’m sure the move will traumatise Mama Cat no end. She’ll probably hide under the couch again for another year.

Somehow, flipping the calendar to a new year gives us the irrational hope that we will finally join a gym, lose weight, quit smoking, or achieve new professional heights. I just hope my little family, both human and fur-bearing, continues to grow in emotionally healthy ways. I hope Our Best Friend can learn to tolerate the cats trying to lick his ears. I hope Draq starts to stay on my lap for more than five minutes. I hope Polo still purrs when the Oldest is around a lot less. I hope Mama stops peeing on the floor. And I hope my kids, all of whom will transition to new schools next September, will succeed and be happy.

As for what I want for myself in 2015…. please leave me a blessing in the comments, and whatever you wish for me, I send the blessing back to you. Happy New Year.

Posted in cats, Dog behaviour, Dogs, pet ownership, pets | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

I Think It’s An Attitude Problem

On November 4, Downtown Dog Rescue posted a story on its Facebook page about a man who came to the shelter to retrieve his lost dogs. He did not know the shelter charged a redemption fee, and only had enough money to get back one of the dogs. So DDR commented,

This is not s shelter problem or a pet problem, this is a poverty problem. From what we see, we think that a lack of money, lack of full time permanent employment is killing more shelter pets than any other factor. What do you think?

(Just FYI, it all ends happily. The man said he would come back the following week for dog #2, after payday, but money was found to redeem both dogs together.)

I am sure that poverty plays a role, perhaps a large role, in why people surrender their pets. If it’s a choice between feeding your kids and feeding your dog, any functional parent will choose the kids. When people lose their jobs, get evicted, or fall seriously ill and can barely afford treatment for themselves, never mind someone to care for the pet, animals end up in shelter because people lack money for other choices. (Which is why Fairy Dogparents is my favourite animal charity– their sole purpose is keeping people and pets together when money gets tight.)

But how big a role poverty plays, I don’t know. Now, I have no statistics or studies to back up what I’m about to say, so feel free to disagree. I think the reason many pets end up in shelter is the attitude of the owner. And that attitude can be summed up in four words:

“It’s just a dog.”

or

“It’s just a cat.”

For many people, it’s a decision of convenience. They want a smaller home, and the Great Dane just won’t fit. The cat had kittens– how did THAT happen? The dog needs a $2,000 operation. Yes, he’ll recover, but that will blow summer vacation, so let’s just put him to sleep.

People bring dogs and cats into their homes without understanding they are now, in fact, responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of living creature. It isn’t a toy you play with until you get bored, or something better comes along. I have been asked, multiple times, “But– you’d get rid of the dog/cats for the right man, wouldn’t you?” Through these people I have perfected my Laser Stare of Death. I can see it– reluctantly– for someone young, if Mr. or Ms Perfect has allergies beyond his or her control. But I really don’t get why anyone who loves animals would hook up with someone who doesn’t. It’s such a fundamental difference in character I see it as a red flag. (Maybe someone in a mixed marriage can set me straight.)

Other people, on the other hand, will do whatever they need to do for their furry friends. I know people at the dog park who have spent thousands on vet care. Some dogs made it, some didn’t. I think Blanche is still paying off Princess’s final visit to the vet, but she has no regrets. “I would never have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t tried,” she told me. Years ago, My Dearest Friend spent $3,000 she didn’t have on Blackie. “How could I tell my kids,” she asked, “that I put their dog to sleep for something that could be fixed?” So people do it, even when it’s hard. It’s a matter of attitude.

* * * * *

According to Petfinder, one of the top reasons people surrender their pets is because they’re moving (see full study here). In this bizarre city, about 90% of leases run July 1 – June 30. Every year, as people move, there is an explosion of animals brought to various city shelters. The SPCA estimates that their intake almost triples from 600 animals per month to almost 1,600 in July. This does not include the animals found abandoned in apartments. Sometime people honestly can’t find an apartment that allows pets; this is especially true for people of limited income with limited options, which supports Downtown Dog Rescue’s poverty assertion. But some people just don’t care, no matter how much money they have. They want the better building, or the urban setting on the 20th floor that isn’t conducive to dog-walking. And the dog is history.

I think a society can be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members, and treating a dog or cat like an object rather than a living creature is a sign of selfishness. Handing it over to a shelter, regardless of whether it will live or die, without a second thought, without researching other options, (or worse, abandoning it) is a terrible way to repay the love and trust that animal has put in you. I struggled forever with whether or not I was the best “dog parent” for Our Best Friend; I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that he would be better off with someone who fed him better and walked him more often. It took my vet to convince me that OBF, in her words, “would rather stay with his family.” She’s right. You’re not just caring physically for an animal– there’s an emotional bond as well. When I leave town, the dog stops eating. I don’t understand how people disregard that.

Three times in my life, I have been forced to give away cats (twice they weren’t really my cats– they just landed on me, and I couldn’t care for them). Each time, I made absolutely sure it went to a no-kill shelter. And all were adopted. But each time, the decision was agony and left me in tears. I cry to this day, thinking about them. So yes, I get it; issues of poverty or health or life stress will force many owners into a decision that is acutely painful. But the key is, it should be a difficult decision. It should not be something you do without a second thought. Because people like that shouldn’t own pets in the first place.

Posted in animal rescue, cats, Dogs, life, pet ownership, pets, society | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

October Sucks

It has been the GLOOMIEST month.

Most days looked like this:

An ominous cloud hangs over the dog park...

An ominous cloud hangs over the dog park…

It’s rained. My lord, has it rained.

Our Best Friend is stinky and needs a bath. I booked the bathing room at the local pet store (they have a free, bring-your-own-stuff grooming room), but had to cancel because I was sick. So he’s still stinky.

Every time I went to the park, there was no one there I knew. Last time there was NO ONE THERE AT ALL.

Where IS everyone???

Where IS everyone???

The Kansas City Royals even lost the World Series.  I am bummed out about that.

I’m declaring a stop to all this nonsense. Things have to get better in November. I can’t stop it from getting colder, but it’s going to get better.

I need to clean the house, top to bottom. Then it will be less gloomy INSIDE.

So far I have one walking buddy who spends an hour with me and Our Best Friend every Monday. I need a few more of those. Any volunteers?

I'M SO MUCH FUN!!!

I’M SO MUCH FUN!!!

And the damn dog is getting a bath.

Yes, everything will be better in November. After my gum surgery on Wednesday.

For those of you celebrating, have a fun, safe Halloween!

 

Posted in Dogs, life, pet ownership | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Life Gets in the Way

Somehow or other I always procrastinate my monthly post until the very last week of the month. This month that was a very bad strategy. Last week was Rosh Hashanah; today and yesterday were spent making a snap decision to change my child’s school. While the decision had to be made quickly, the process was a long time coming. Over the last year, we grew increasingly unhappy with the school she was in; in the end they just couldn’t convince me that they would help my child achieve her potential, or protect her from playground bullies. The new school isn’t perfect– no school is– but it has smaller class size (only 14 kids vs. 22 in the last school), and the school’s pedagogical philosophy is much more in tune with my own. Still, it’s a very hard transition. For both of us.

So here it is, September 30, I’ve had three hours sleep in the last 24 hours, and I’m so tired I feel sick. 6:15 a.m. comes much earlier than I can handle.

Why, I want to know. Why do people– young and old– waste time on meanness and pettiness and spite? Why does an 11-year-old get run out of a school we chose with such care because kids have to form cliques that include some and exclude others? And the adults, who are supposed to protect the children, make excuses and rationalize the behaviour? It’s no wonder some people eschew the company of people for the companionship of dogs and cats.

But life is too short to hang on to anger and hostility. Forgiveness is critical to mental health and social healing. This Friday night is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, when we ask God to forgive us for whatever we have done wrong in the past year, and pledge to improve our behaviour in the coming year. And it’s important to note that God only grants forgiveness for transgressions between man and God. If one has wronged another person, only the wronged party can grant forgiveness. But very few have the courage to apologize when they know they’ve hurt someone else.

So if I have committed any offense to any of my readers, I hope you will forgive me. Let me know what I did, so I don’t do it again. And we’re going to leave our anger and frustrations behind us, and remember the people at our previous school who did try to help, who were as heartsick as we when things didn’t work out. We might even go back for high school next year. If we haven’t left town for a new life.

This isn’t a typical Dog Park post. That’s what happens when you’re tired and frazzled and life gets in the way of the fun stuff. But this is what life is about too. Change and transition and hurt and forgiveness and hope. And love. For our families, our friends, our animal companions, our communities, and most of all for ourselves. We need to remember that we are deserving of love and respect, and that what is unhealthy and hurtful needs to be left behind. It’s a new year. It’s a fresh start. It’s time to move forward. And may we all be inscribed and sealed for a good life in the coming year.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Lorie Huston, DVM, whose death today shocked and saddened the pet-blogging world. I didn’t know Dr. Lorie, but many of my friends did, and I saw her name around the blogosphere everywhere. Kristine of Rescued Insanity remembers her as “kind, funny, and smart.” Mary of Tales From the Back Road calls her “engaging, smart, and helpful.” Mel from No Dog About It says she learned so much from her, that Lorie always listened to and cared about other people’s concerns. Now friends are scrambling to find homes for Lorie’s six rescue cats, and those who loved her are coping with the tragedy of her death. Our hearts go out to them. May Lorie’s generosity of spirit and compassion for all living things be an inspiration to others to bring more kindness into the world.

Posted in children, Holidays, life, society | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Nostalgia

Once upon a time, there was a Mommy who had three little girls: an Oldest, a Middle one, and the Youngest.

Blackie

Blackie

When the girls were little, they all loved dogs. They played with their uncle’s dog, Zach; they babysat their friend’s dog, Blackie. And when Blackie stayed with them, they would spend time at the dog park.

The girls loved the dog park. They played with Princess, the golden retriever, who would trot over the minute she spotted them. They petted Dante the Italian greyhound, and marvelled at his tiny agility. And there was Morris, who could jump higher than your head, and loved to romp with the girls.

But the Middle one was the one most in love with dogs. She was most overjoyed when Blackie came, and begged hardest for a dog of their own. Finally, when she was 8, the family started to foster dogs. First came Cookie, then Bernita, then the fiasco of Cocoa and Caramel. Just as the family was ready to give up on fostering, along came Our Best Friend, who joined the family forever. And they should have lived happily ever after.

Cookie

Cookie

Dante

Dante

But life never freezes in its moment of perfection. The girls’ mommy and daddy divorced. Princess and Dante both crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and Morris went to live in another city. Trips to the dog park became a rare occurrence, rather than a common outing. Eventually, the older two girls stopped wanting to go to the dog park altogether.

Their enthusiasm for dog ownership waned as well. The Middle Child, who for a number of years had begged for a second dog, decided that one was more than enough. Taking him out was a chore akin to cleaning the toilet– only worse, because in winter you have to put on your parka and boots. They still loved him, they called him “the softest” and “the lovi-est,” but they no longer wanted to have their own dogs one day. The Youngest became the only one who still couldn’t imagine life without a dog.

* * * * *

At the park last week, I saw a girl who looked about 11 years old. She walked among a group of dogs, patting each one, and when Our Best Friend trotted by, she patted him too. He stopped and wagged his tail, and she crouched down in front of him to scratch his ears. My heart ached a little, remembering my older girls at that age. and who are now too old and too cool for this any more. I hope the Youngest keeps that innocence a few more years.

sketch

Posted in children, dog parks, Dogs, pets | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Inappropriate Behaviour

Most of the time, I’m very proud of Our Best Friend. He’s come such a long way. When we first got him, he’d go nuts barking if he saw a dog blocks away. It was such an embarrassment. And if we tried to shut him up, he’d growl and snap at us. Now he can greet another dog with an appropriate sniff and tail wag, and only goes bonkers occasionally.

How good dogs behave at the park

How good dogs behave at the park

Our Best Friend does not play with other dogs. I joke that he has Asperger’s; he doesn’t get doggie social cues. When other dogs play-fight, he jumps around them, barking madly, like a canine recess monitor convinced that two kids are about to hurt each other real bad. Puppies annoy him; when they jump on him, or attempt to lick his face, he barks them off. He’s given a few dogs a bad fright, but he’s never hurt anyone. I can usually count on him to leave other dogs alone.  Most of the time, he just does a lot of sniffing, and sometimes he’ll play a short game of chase. But every so often, he takes a shine to another dog, and his behaviour can be… inappropriate.

Last time we went to the park, none of my friends were there. There was no standing about chatting; I just walked the oval path around the park, with Our Best Friend trotting along. And then he decided to make a friend.

There was a lovely brown short-haired pointer, playing in a group of dogs. OBF went over, sniffed him, and must have decided he liked the smell. Because then he proceeded to hump him. When other dogs try doing that to OBF, they get warned off pretty fast. For whatever reason, the pointer– who was clearly male, by the way– didn’t seem to care. He just stood there placidly, as if nothing was happening.

“OBF!” I yelled. “Stop that!”

He didn’t stop until I walked right up, at which point he jumped down and gave me a sideways, guilty look. I hustled him off. I didn’t know who the dog’s owner was, and no one said anything to me, so we just continued walking.

Now remember, the park’s an oval. So we walked around again… and once more, OBF went straight to the point(er).

“OBF!” I yelled. “Stop that!” And again, he didn’t stop until I was close enough to drag him off if necessary.

How cute dogs play

How cute dogs play

In all the years we’ve been going to the park, I don’t think OBF’s displayed this behaviour half-a-dozen times, and certainly never more than once (maybe twice) with the same dog. Yet he went after this poor dog at least four or five times. That pointer must have been wearing steak spice cologne. Sadly, there was one person there I know but don’t care for, because in subtle ways she makes it clear that she has a low opinion of OBF. And there he was, confirming her opinion of him as a doofus.

Other than Lady Snotball, no one reacted. Not the dog, the owner never came forward. Thankfully, no one was getting hurt, but still…. I’m sure that’s not what the pointer came to the dog park for. That’s not why anyone goes to the dog park. Not why I go, anyway. Maybe OBF has been waiting for the right dog friend for years.

Obviously there are no pictures of this event. This is a G-rated blog (most of the time), and I think if I’d pulled out my phone and said, “Wait! I need a shot for my blog! Keep going, OBF!” that might have provoked a reaction from someone. Nothing like the owner behaving as inappropriately as the dog.

So tell me– what does your dog do to embarrass you?

I'm a good boy-- honest.

I’m a good boy– honest.

Posted in Dog behaviour, dog parks | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Bad Dog Mom– Bad!

Our Best Friend went to the vet two weeks ago.

“He’s gained 10 pounds since last year,” Dr. B. said sternly. “What happened?”

What happened, she asks.

Well, I was out of town 3 days/week all year… and it was just about the coldest winter ever… and we got no exercise at all… and  atPassoverIchangedhisfoodfromdietkibbleanddidn’tchangeback.

He doesn't look so bad here...

He doesn’t look so bad here…

“Why not?” she wanted to know.

Why not. Because I found a grain-free brand from Costco that was almost half the price of what I was feeding him. The ingredients read better. And because I’ve come under the influence of people who think my brand of kibble is not nutritionally sound (fine, they might think it’s dog poison), and I was hoping to give him a better diet.

Dr. B. was not amused. “There’s nothing wrong with the brand you were using. It’s better than letting him gain weight and possibly developing diabetes and other health issues. It’s going to be very difficult for him to lose this weight now as he gets older.”

Like I don’t know that.

I love Dr. B. I really do. She is a great vet, she doesn’t over-vaccinate, and she’s always encouraged me to keep my dog, in spite of the insanity and hardships. She even gave Momma Cat a free vet visit because she supported my fostering a feral family. But I really, really, didn’t want to put Our Best Friend back on his old food.

So I did what I always do when I have a dog-related question these days. I turned to the blogosphere.

After considerable discussion, I reduced OBF’s food to two cups a day, and committed to a 30-minute walk daily. It’s not enough for a dog of his energy level, but I don’t want to make promises I know I’m going to break. So far we’ve managed, although it’s getting hot and humid now, which means the walks are increasingly evening walks, as I don’t handle heat so well these days.

What? Me? Steal kibble? You got the wrong cat.

What? Me? Steal kibble? You got the wrong cat.

By the end of the summer, I’m hoping we’ll have come down a few pounds (and I do mean we). I want him to stay healthy and live a long life.

(We won’t mention the fact that the cat steals his kibble, which is ruining her diet, and that his teeth need better attention too. There’s only so many sins you can confess in one post and still keep your readers.)

Posted in cats, Dogs | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A Visit

In the last year, I have been living my life in fragments. I have three, discrete, separate lives that almost never intersect, yet each part completely essential to my well-being.

Springtime in my adopted second home

Springtime in my adopted second home

Part one is my professional life. I have been pursuing a degree in counselling since September 2011, and over the course of three years built both a social circle and professional network in another city, 200 km from where I live. By going part-time over three years, I overlapped with both the class of 2013 and the class of 2014, so I graduate with twice as many friends and contacts. And in April, I completed my internship at a social service agency where I felt completely immersed as an integral part of the team. On my first day there, one of my co-workers/supervisors said, “I’m sure you’re going to do great. The only thing you have to worry about is not wanting to leave when it’s over.” Prophetic words– I miss being there like an ache in my bones.

The second part is my personal life, my friends and family. I have friendships that stretch back to grade school, some back in my hometown, some elsewhere in Canada, and some in Israel. Then there are relationships built over the course of the last 20 years, here in the city I’ve lived in since 1994 (but plan to leave soon), people who support me day-to-day, who saw me through pregnancies, child-rearing, divorce, and now my commuting lifestyle.

Ithaca's most famous restaurant

Ithaca’s most famous restaurant

The third part– and this part is very new– is my online life. It started with this blog. Over the course of almost 4 years of blogging, I slowly built up a network of fellow pet bloggers, and these friendships have come to be more and more central to my life. In 2012, I went to Ithaca, New York, and met Pamela of Something Wagging. She was the first blogging friend I met in real life, and today she came and returned the favour with her husband Mike and Honey the golden retriever.

Because it was Shabbat, there are no pictures to share. We took the dogs for a walk and talked– about dogs, about religion, about politics, about houses and architecture. And we talked about the guiding principle of online friendship– acceptance and non-judgement. The blogging friends we have in common never argue cats vs. dogs, Democrat vs. Republican, deist vs. atheist. We are all those things, and we allow each other to be all those things. We talked about what unites us, not what divides us. What we share is the desire to see more kindness, more justice, more equity, more compassion in the world. I can’t even tell you what we differ on, because it is so irrelevant it’s never come up.

In so many ways, my on-line friends mirror my dog park friends. No one cares about how much money you have, what you do for a living, your race, religion, or country of origin. It boils down to, are you good to your dog and your fellow human beings? Are you a responsible member of the dog park / online world?

P1100807The dog park has one iron-clad rule–pick up the poop. Don’t leave it for others to deal with, or worse, step in. It’s kind of the same online, except there the rule is don’t fling it at other people. Unlike the dog park, though, it’s okay to share it, to ask for support, to get help dealing with the s**t in your life.

Pamela and I didn’t get to the dog park today. But the dog park, via this blog, got me to Pamela, and all my other blogging friends. I never dreamed, back in April 2009, that Our Best Friend would bring with him so many blessings. All I did was take in a stray dog. If we reap such benefits from kindness to animals, I can only imagine what blessings would come if people could be this kind to each other.

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