Saturday, October 22, 2011

So What's Not to Be Happy About?

You may have read my posts about Doris, my friend over the course of a lifetime that I posted in this area earlier in the year:

Doris called me just a few minutes ago as I was doing my work for AOL. She had an appointment with her radiologist last week and she was thrilled with the news, as I was.

"Doris," he told her, "I don't want to see you again for a year."

Long story short: Miracles do happen! Doris is living proof of it. She never gave up hope that, even though the diagnosis was stage-4 lung cancer, she'd overcome it. She never displayed any signs of feeling sorry for herself; she just continued to remain optimistic even though she was sickened by the chemotherapy; even though she lost her hair to the radiation treatments.

She is now approaching age 79, a great-grandmother and, as the image below from last month indicates, she looks radiant … every bit as radiant in the images shown in my first two articles about her, both taken in 2008. The image below shows Doris and her brand-new great-grandson, "Wagner," Doris looking more "fiftyish" than "eightyish," and with a beautiful head of hair.

I think this is an important message to all who are suffering from cancer or any other debilitating disease: NEVER give up hope. Please be sure to share this page with any friends or acquaintances in need ... of hope or faith or both.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

So Is Life a Bitch, or Is It Just Me?

I spent my day today behind the keyboard. From about 7:30 a.m. until nearly 5 p.m. I was stuck there with computer issues that I hope are resolved and working. It was a pretty heavy workday today, but I got everything done.

Then I went to my favorite gas station for the daily paper and a single can of Natural Light.

I live in Florida, and as anyone who's been here knows, it's pretty hot and humid in the summer months … but it's never too hot or humid for me. Summer is my favorite time of the year. I live to sweat. I firmly believe those Floridians who say that that they love autumn love it because they can show off their fall clothing. Me? I dress the same way all year long: Shorts or cargo shorts, sandals and a jersey shirt (those without sleeves).

Well, I got in my car in the garage, started it and headed to "Pookey's," the gas station. On my way I passed a time/temperature sign that read 76°. I didn't think much of it until I got out of my car at the station. Good grief! I thought I'd freeze my gonads off! My kind of weather is temps in the 90s and humidity about the same.

Then I got to thinking how long it'll be until next summer … or at least April or May when it'll start getting hot again. Oh so long!

Thinking further, it occurred to me that it's really quite possible that I've enjoyed my last summer. That really depressed me. If all that I have to look forward to before I die is "cold" weather, that's really nothing to look forward to. (Is it?)

I wouldn't "miss" next summer … a dead person can't miss something, but the possibility that I've already enjoyed the last summer ever got me to thinking further. Live each day and wring the most you can out of it. It'll never happen again. Don't regret things you may have done today that you wish you hadn't. It doesn't matter … that's history. Live for the next day and hope that it (and you) comes along and that it will be better.

I guess that's about all any of us can hope for. Life gives no guarantees. If we're lucky enough, we get a second chance to sort out things we screwed up. If we're lucky enough, there will be another summer to enjoy.

Perhaps it's time to forget all the ill-will we bear from others; ill-will that we have toward them. Petty crap that doesn't mean a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things, isn't it?

I guess if I apply myself (and live through it), winter, especially in Florida, won't be all that bad. It's just not my preference. I should be grateful that I'm living rather than complaining about what life deals me and what I'm entitled to. And, I kinda think that there are a lot more people like me … people who take the good things for granted and moan about what could be; what we'd like life to be.

I didn't go into the pool today. When I checked its thermometers they read 79°, both of them … but the air was too cool to suit my taste.

I'll probably go in tomorrow, if I live, and if it's earlier in the day when the sun is shining over it.

But I'll try to take each day as it comes and hope that there will be another summer for me. Maybe I'll learn by then to treat life as kindly as it's treated me so far and stop complaining, if only in my mind.

So is it me, or is it life that's a bitch. I think that I'd have to say, at least in this case, it's me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So I'm Thinking About Lady ... as Usual

Today marks a year since my Foxy Lady died. I tried to keep busy working at my AOL job from 8 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., the time period in which I called Sunnybrook Animal Hospital here in Englewood and told them "I think it's time" and the time Lady actually left me for good.

No matter how much I kept myself busy, my mind kept wandering back to that time period and what transpired. This is all detailed in my book, Chapter 13. I was told that they had a procedure scheduled for 9:45, but that they could make arrangements to prepare for Lady at 8:45. I had no choice. The time had come. She was somewhat active and playful the night before ... that morning she was a mere shell of the Lady she had been only hours earlier.

Lady entered my life early in 2000, a little puffy ball of straggly hair, mostly white with a white, brown and black head that would eventually change to mostly white with a touch of beige here and there.

 Our first meeting, January 1999

Lady's first day in Pennsylvania, visiting my Mother's grave.

February 29, 2000. She'd already learned to sit, stay, heel ... the basics

I learned early on that dogs need their "space" too. One of puppy Lady's favorite resting spaces was under a small table that I had in the living room in Pennsylvania.

As a pup as well as an adult, Lady was always into everything. She loved to get sprayed with water, but she wasn't too fond of the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe she felt intimidated by the huge number of dogs on the "puppy beach" in Venice.
Summers in Pennsylvania were a joy for Lady, especially if I put a sprinkler outside and let her on her own. I had an  underground electric fence installed for her so that she could play all over the lawn and not risk running out into traffic. She picked up her boundaries remarkably quickly. Unfortunately another trick that she picked up quickly was learning that dirt, once wet, turned to mud. Yes, she did go through a "mud bath" phase.

It seems that all dogs have their own personality. One thing that really stands out about Lady is that if I were washing a floor on my hands and knees, she'd hop on my back, staying there until I made an attempt to get up, forcing her to relinquish her "command post."

She also had a habit of "pawing" in a begging manner, front paws flaying here and there in an attempt to coerce a treat out of me. She always succeeded.

Here in Florida, my laundry room leads to the garage. In the garage's side wall (the side that's part of the house, not the outside wall) I have a "half door." It's meant to make unpacking groceries easier. I can open that door from the garage and put my bags of groceries directly into the pantry. Lady never quite understood that door's purpose and every time I used it she'd sit on the kitchen side of the pantry, barking like the home was under attack. I stopped using that door.

Every time Lady would hear my car pull into the garage she'd station herself in the laundry room, tail wagging, to greet me. And that incessant wagging of the tail would only subside after I hugged and kissed her. Then she changed it to her "regular" style of wag. She'd follow me into the kitchen, my bedroom, office or outside to the pool to investigate what new adventure was awaiting her. Except for the day she was spayed, we spent every day of our nearly 10 years together ... together ... a duo. We all have memories like this, don't we?

Lady loved going for rides in the car. I'd "prep" her for a ride by saying, "Lady, wanna go for a ride in the car?" She'd go absolutely nuts. Eventually a simple "Lady, wanna..." did the trick.

Much of my home is tiled with a really smooth granite-looking tile. If we were in my bedroom or bathroom, she'd race out of the room ahead of me, through the great room until she reached the laundry room. It took her some time to learn how to stop on the tile. Before she learned that trick she'd find herself sliding on her butt, way past her goal: the laundry room, leading to the garage. When she "overshot" her mark, it was precious to see the look on her face, as if saying, "WTF?"

Once in the car she'd station herself, front feet firmly planted on the console and back feet on the back seat. That was her vantage point, giving her the ability to see oncoming traffic and ready herself to bark at every motorcycle we might encounter. She loved to hate them! She was always ready for a ride! She was always ready to bark!
Who's driving today? You or me? 

When Lady was tired, or not in the mood for barking, she's plant herself on my left thigh, head out the window. I found it amazing that she learned this one so quickly: There was a time some years ago (in Pennsylvania), that she spotted a cycle approaching us. Instinctively she barked at it, causing a loud ringing in my left ear.

"No barking from the front seat," I told her. "Hopsy backsy," I added, gently ushering her to the back seat (front feet on console). (Yes, I confess to "baby talking" to Lady.) Of course, by the time she got back there, the object of her "barkology" was long gone. But the surprising thing is that she remembered that she was not permitted to bark when on my thigh. I don't think that I needed to correct her more than one or two times after that initial faux pas. She was indeed my "wonder" dog.

I could go on and on. Today is a day that I'm recalling many things … things that I've never forgotten; things that I'll never forget; things that have come to mind in my thinking back on our life together.

Mostly I'm recalling how very much I miss my bundle of pure, unconditional love.

 Merry Christmas everyone!

What's that delicious smell coming from the kitchen? Chicken? REALLY? For ME? Sweet, dude!

Lady stands guard outside: Cats, stay off my turf!

All fox terriers love to relax on the back of a sofa. The ball? I'll get to it later. Now stop pointing that camera at me. I need a break.

Lady loved relaxing on her/our bed, too ... especially with a brand-new chew stick to devour!

Memories are precious and are a constant reminder of a good life, but one that was taken all too soon. I could post (literally) thousands of images that are stored on my computer ... but that won't bring Lady back to me.

Lady, I'm remembering you fondly and I'd like to think that you're happily romping with other furry creatures somewhere over the Rainbow Bridge. That hope helps keep me going.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So What's With 'Don't Shop ... Adopt'?

I have been trying in earnest to fill a void that was left in my life last October 12, when I lost my beloved Foxy Lady III.

I have visited pet adoption, rescue sites and the like from Ohio to Texas, to right in my own backyard, without success. I'm specifically looking for a female pup, wire haired fox terrier. I know the breed well. I've shared my home with that breed since 1979.

The restrictions are many. Here is a sampling:

We require a fenced yard, prior miniature schnauzer, wire fox terrier, Lakeland terrier, Irish terrier experience, current pets must be spayed/neutered and licensed, excellent vet and grooming references and agree to training and vet care stipulations in the adoption contract. We prefer to place schnauzers and terriers in homes with children over 8 years of age. We are a Florida based organization and prefer to place our rescues within the state of Florida to owners that meet our requirements and whose primary residence is in the state of Florida. We will need to arrange a home study for each residence if you own more than one residence. We do not allow our rescues to be placed in a home where an owner leaves their dog(s) or cat(s) outside while at work, overnight or for any period of time not supervised by the owner. We do not allow our rescues to live outside. We do NOT allow dog houses, dog condos or other such structures (e.g., igloos) to be used outside or in a garage to house a pet either during the day or at night. We evaluate schnauzers or terriers with young children prior to placement. We will make an exception IF a schnauzer or terrier is well socialized and the adopter demonstrates the ability to effectively manage a schnauzer or terrier with children less than 8 years. TERRIERS: We require a fenced yard and NO children less than 8 years of age! Be careful when adopting a wire fox terrier bred by a backyard breeder or a puppy mill. A short tail, poor ear set, poor quality coat are tell tale signs of poor breeding. A puppy mill wire is not socialized as a puppy. This is very important in the development of a well adjusted wire fox terrier, Lakeland terrier, Irish terrier or Welsh terrier. Some poorly bred wires or wires used as breeders at a puppy mill develop rage syndrome when not correctly socialized as a puppy.

As of 9/29/11, we are no longer providing individual listings for our rescue wire fox terriers. Approved applicants who have submitted an application will receive a list of available wires. We took this action due to the problems caused by an over zealous, misguided rescue volunteer for another rescue group who continues to interfere with our rescue efforts. Their actions have caused harm to several wires and put the dogs in extreme danger. We will not list the wires by name until pending civil litigation is resolved. All vet and grooming expenses are paid by the adopter at time of adoption. We do not charge an adoption fee. A FENCED YARD IS REQUIRED - NO EXCEPTIONS! NO TELEPHONE CALLS! Please request an application from Please include your telephone number and address. Please read our requirements at We require a fenced yard and NO children less than 8 years of age...

I have a large corner lot. Even the least expensive fence (which would probably look hideous) would cost from $5,000-$7,000 to have installed. I can not afford such an expensive item and I do not WANT one. I have never let my dogs outside "on their own." They have always been leashed and cared for. Southwest Florida is rife with dangerous creatures ranging from alligators (which have been spotted in my yard) to bobcats to snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous, to fire-ants. I would never chance endangering my pet by allowing her outside alone. My lanai is large enough for "romp room," and my Foxy Lady enjoyed herself every day playing on it, racing around the lanai to bark at motorcycles that she learned to love to hate since moving to Florida.

A rescue source in Bradenton, FL., tried to convince me that the dog shown below is a wire haired fox terrier. Nothing in the image points to a wire haired fox terrier, from the ears to the colors to the lack of a wiry coat.

Note the difference between my Foxy Lady III at five months (first below) and at eight months. There is no similarity in color or hair texture (wire vs. smooth). Most wire fox terriers have at least a splotch of white. "Jilly" is basically brown and black with a smooth  hair texture. Jilly has the coloring of a Yorkie.

It appears that the harder I try "Don't Shop … Adopt," the more roadblocks are placed in my way.

There is an online site, Pet Pardons, that advertises many times a day on Facebook, updates such as:

Little George needs a home or he DIES sometime in the near future!!! And he needs more advocates!
He is in IRVING, TX… will you Adopt him? If not please click on his pic & hit the ADVOCATE button, thanks!!

Yet, when you click on the pic for more information, they require that you allow them to access your personal information AND post as you. See below.

That is a real turnoff. I don't want ANYONE posting messages in my name. I can get into enough trouble on my own, thank you.

I wouldn't give someone my ATM card and PIN and simply say to them, "Have fun!" Would you? It's not the same, of course, but both carry risks.

The "requirements" for "Don't Shop … Adopt," have literally turned me off in the adoption market. The adoption outlets can investigate me as much as they want to. All they'll find is that twice I spent in excess of $5,000 in five months in efforts to save my Lady II and Lady III. I'd happily let the vets who cared for those two loves of my life open their records and make them available to any adoption agency that wants the information.

But the requirements are killing me. I can understand the need/desire to be sure that adopted animals will be cared for and loved, but when will they realize that if they treated would-be adopters with a bit of respect and trust, more people might be willing to adopt.

To "lock me out" from getting further information on Pet Pardon's dogs in need will probably result in the same action by others who are seeking to adopt. Either give in to their "demands" or, as I did, close the page and move on. I wonder how many more have done the same.

I really would love to learn how others feel about the strict policies that are put in place by pet adoption centers, turning adopters away just as some pet owners abandon their pets. It appears to be one vicious circle.

So, animal rights advocates, let me know what you think. Do you think the "rules and regulations" are "too tight" or "just right"?