Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Makings of a Knight

I’ve just finished reading the Song of the Lioness quartet, a series of books about a girl who struggles to become a knight and the journeys that follow.  Alanna, the main character in the series, shows incredible drive and discipline as she at first hides her gender and then has to learn to accept who she is, growing into herself over the course of the four books.  She is honorable and honest, even as a child; aside from disguising her sex she is truthful, self-aware and noble from an early age.  As I turn the last page and close the final book, I can’t help but feel empowered and changed.

Growing up, I struggled with maintaining my identity in a world where people deemed me to be an outcast.  Buried in a book, wandering some imaginary land, using any passage to escape the sometimes complete Hell that was my home life, I struggled to love myself and accept love from others.  I matured fully before my time but in some ways have never truly grown up, the child that was stifled by hardcore issues at home, clinical depression and well, nerdy introversion at school is finally coming out to breathe and have fun.

Alanna the knight- known by her war-name as the Lioness- pledged fealty to the King and her land, never causing harm if it could be avoided but fighting for the greater good: protecting those in need and fulfilling her duties as steward of the land.  My loyalties lie not with one man or country but with the moral high road.  It is my duty to use the gifts and strengths I have been given, however you wish to list or define them, to make the world a better place in whatever way I can.  This isn’t a fantasy land, but there is plenty of healing to do and change that must be made.  Today, as I drove home with two freshly-rescued guinea pigs in the back of my car I imagined myself to be a modern day knight-errant and grinned to myself, feeling stronger just visualizing it.  It sounds silly, maybe, or overly self-confident but I will carry this image with me knowing it will help me get through the darkest of times and remind me to do what is right for others, always.  It took a while to get here, but I am proud of my actions and the person I am.

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I cherish an essay that was given to me by a coworker many years ago when I was the manager at the local Humane Society; a place that I eventually left on bad terms after making one of the biggest mistakes in my life.  The  essay was a school project for a high school senior that I worked with and was titled “The Makings of a Knight.”  The students had to draw from a story/book they’d had to read and identify the qualities that knights possess and then had to write the essay pointing out someone in his or her life that possessed those qualities.  She chose me.  The two page writing painted an image of myself I’d never have imagined, though after a few readings I started to cast off humility and believe the words.  I still have it and keep it in a folder in my rescue filing drawer so that I come across it sometimes when I’m working.  When she presented me with the essay and even now, if I should come across it and read the words, I have to sit down.  I guess even knights get weak in the knees.

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Blogger’s Block?

I’ve been trying to come up with a good post for a while.  I have drafts started with ideas I want to follow through and deliver.  I want to write profound thoughts that people can identify with.  There is no shortage of material floating around in my head but I think that’s the problem.  It’s like my words are the outflow of a drain.  It’s easier to clear the drain if the solution isn’t so thick and goopy.  To use another analogy, the hamster in my brain has abandoned running in its wheel for riding a tiny Harley so it can keep up with the required speed.

This past week has been sort of a nightmarish conglomeration of responsibilities.  The kind of week that snaps you into being a grown up.  I had one depressive day but climbed out of that hole and went about my business.  Between giving advice, running the rescue, caring for the 24 animals here including some that are dealing with illness, volunteering for other groups, and personal appointments, I have spread myself fairly thin but somehow I am still holding together.  I’ve been working on so many things at once that if I stop to think about it, I feel both flustered and proud.  While I sometimes stumble through my responsibilities, I feel I was born to do this kind of thing.  I am a take charge kind of gal and a helluva multitasker.  This week I became more involved in my dog training club AND my geocaching club than ever before by starting a Facebook page and taking over forum administration, respectively.  I’ve been trying to help a bunny and a couple guinea pigs find safe haven under my roof and working on Indy‘s training and socialization while simultaneously moving closer to an adoption for Willow.  Tomorrow, Saturday, I have volunteered for a 4.5 hour long transport outing (the leg is only an hour and a half but the drive to and from the Interstate adds three hours) and a concert in the evening. The next day I have planned a home visit.  For an unemployed person, I sure can keep busy.  So far in 2011 there have been more days where I had engagements to deal with than not, many days I have more than one appointment.  If I am not driving here or there, I’ve got a list of emails to send on all topics; dog behavior advice, rescue issues, incoming/outgoing pets, applications or inquiries, dog club or geocaching forum topics, and more.

This is why you haven’t heard from me much blog-wise, and I’m sorry if you’ve missed it.  I promise to come back with something meaningful or at least entertaining as soon as my head stops spinning.  Oh yeah, and I can’t wait for Spring, and for this feeling that I should be in hibernation to pass.


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Pet Adoption Tips: “Furever” means FOREVER.

Pet Adoption Tip #2:  Understand the definition of “commitment.”

com·mit

[kuh-mit] , verb

“To bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge: to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action.”

When you bring home a new pet, you are making a commitment to fulfill the needs of that animal for as long as it lives.  You are obligated to provide for it, at whatever cost, in sickness and in health,’ til death do you part.  You may have to pass up on the new apartment you REALLY want because you have to find one where your furry family members are allowed.  You might have to rent a commercial carpet scrubber and pay extra vet bills because your cat has a bladder infection and has been soiling outside the litterbox.  You might have to read some books on dog training or even take classes so your dog will be a better canine citizen.

Shortly after Nola's adoption, her new "mom" got more than she bargained for when it was discovered Nola had Cushing's disease. Sending her back to rescue never crossed her mom's mind. She thrust herself into Nola's care, providing top notch holistic and internal treatments. Four years later, she is thriving!

On my application there is a question that asks, “Under what circumstances would you give up this pet?”  It’s a trick question.  Sitting innocently at the bottom of the first page, you don’t realize that the purpose of the query is simply to determine whether or not you understand the commitment you are making. The answer to this question can end the adoption process.  I have added to my application a question asking what you think the life expectancy is for this animal, to see if you are aware how long your new pet may be in your life.  For cats, life span can max out at 15 to 20 years.  Dogs average 8-15 years depending on breed.  Rabbits, anywhere between 5-10 years.  Guinea pigs, 3-7 years.  Rats, 2-3 years.   To us, the amount of time we have these animals is very short even from baby to old age, but it’s “forever” to them.  (Then there are the long-lived pets; small birds such as parakeets can live to 15 years or more and large birds, like macaws, can live to be a hundred.  Are you really sure you are ready to commit to spending the rest of your life with this animal, meeting its needs through all your life changes and aging?  If not, don’t!) Ask yourself where you’ll be in three years, or seven, or ten or 20 and whether or not you see that pet in that future image.

Willow was surrendered to our rescue for urinating outside the litterbox. It was discovered she had a urinary tract infection. 10 days of antibiotics later and she's doing well and she has never failed to use the litterboxes in her foster home. This surrender could have been prevented with simple veterinary medication.

Adoption contracts state that you understand that this animal is now your responsibility and you are the caretaker, protector and provider.  So when you see “Under what circumstances would you give up this pet?” on my application and you respond with “Not housebroken,” “Going outside litterbox”, etc, you are showing me that you don’t understand what a commitment is.  Housebreaking is something you must teach.  Litterbox issues are most often related to medical problems.  This is par for the course with pet ownership and you should expect to have to provide training, veterinary care, and meet the basic needs of this animal.  How can you expect perfection from a pet when they can’t expect basic responsibility from you?

In my last Pet Adoption Tips blog post, I talked about “return policies” and how having a “temporary” mindset sets adoptions up for failure.  If we go into adoptions with the firm understanding of what our responsibilities are and the attitude that we will be there for our pets for the rest of their years, there will be no issue that we can’t overcome.

Adoption groups call us “forever homes” for a reason.

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