Happy

A friend with a valuable opinion suggested that I try to write something a little Happier.

I do have Happy moments, lots of them, but apparently they don’t move me to try and write anything (lately anyway).  Perhaps I get too busy simply enjoying those moments.

I don’t know much about writing, it’s rules and terminology (I took just enough classes to get by) but there is something called “Voice”.

Perhaps someday a happier voice will find this aging mind.  Like hitting my head on a low beam and spilling my coffee or tripping over an uneven sidewalk and throwing everything in my hands, like lots of changes it will probably hurt.

Time may tell.

Time is a Thief

One day at the Beach House while participating in yet another round of Jack-Assory with Roslyn, Mike and Libby’s young dog, Sarrah slipped on the smooth floor and yelped.  She got up trembling a bit, favoring her hind leg.  In an instant the mood and her life, changed.  I massaged her leg and we kept them mostly apart for the rest of the weekend.  Sunday afternoon I took her on our last walk to the beach, for the weekend.  She was a little wobbly and I sat on a log, held her and wept.  I took her leash off (in violation of the law) and let her walk on her own, with a spark of energy from the added freedom.  She enjoyed the stroll, but was in pain and dragging her feet.  Looking back I was scared, afraid that Sarrah was near the end of her life.

Back home we immediately cut back on the distance of our usual walks from over a mile per day to just few blocks, as Sarrah was dragging her toenails and was (depressingly) happy to do less.  I was looking into all options like dogcarts, surgery, and whatever might be a cure or any method of preservation for my friend.  I desperately needed to find a cure for what time had done to her, to replace what was Stolen.  Around this time Sarrah and I had bodies of approximately the same age and condition.

I decided to try Acupuncture for her, as I’ve found it to bring much relief.  In some ways it would be easier for Sarrah to gain from it, as animal’s don’t have to ‘turn off the human preconceived mental junk’ in order to have an open mind.  Over the last couple of years I had read a few news articles about the growing practice of animal acupuncture and the successes with it.  Fortunately, the progressive culture in the Pacific Northwest is open to many forms of alternative care for people and animals making these treatments readily available.  Fortunately, I found a veterinary clinic nearby that offered acupuncture and began the effort to restore what could be, for Sarrah.  Initially she was nervous, a little scared and not trusting the surroundings of this new place that had similar sounds and smells of the vet clinic that she absolutely hated.  Shortly after arriving we met the acupuncturist.  This wonderful veterinarian, Darla Rewers was the first one that I recall meeting who seemed genuinely delighted to be with the patient and openly passionate about caring for them. Sarrah picked up on this faster than I and seemed to trust her.  It was determined that hip dysplasia, common for Dalmatians’ and probably a tear of some tissue was the cause of Sarrah’s loss of stability in her leg.  The initial treatment of just a few general points and a couple specific for her hindquarters was sort of an easing into treatment with needles.

Sarrah initially trembled and hated the session, but noticed improvement almost immediately and tolerated the treatment.  We went frequently and with each session the quantity of treatment points increased, she improved with each visit.  Soon she stopped dragging her toenails and regained most of her abilities, with the exception of having a trick hip and a need to avoid slippery surfaces.  We both, through error and trial, discovered many little things that Sarrah either needed help with (such as climbing into the back of the car and rug runners for slippery floors) or had to avoid completely (no more beloved games of tug-o-war and going down stairs, so I carried her).  I used to whisper in her ear while lifting and carrying her “Us old dogs, Gotta stick together”.

I shared some of Sarrah’s acupuncture experiences with my acupuncturist.  We talked about how gains in health and pain relief with animals prove that it is not merely just in human minds.  Occasionally, I also ‘stood on my soapbox’ and preached the proof based experiences that I have witnessed with this ancient method of healing, for animals and people.  It was a miracle at least to me, that the clock was turned back a bit for Sarrah.  A huge gift!

I started playing Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” for her visits, too.

Spring

While all caught up in moments, season’s change.  We watch them through the windows of our homes, cars and places of work, but until you get outside and walk in them frequently you don’t really experience what all of the seasonal days have to offer.

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Hello!  Spring was aptly named-all of a sudden, one day, there it is!  Plants awaken with… birds singing the praises of its arrival.  Some years our spring sneaks in early, at the mercy of winter.  Bulbs defiantly peak up in various yard borders, returning the favor of past work, giving a hint of color and brighter days to come.  If looked at closely enough, buds appear on dormant trees showing signs of waking up, some flashing peaks of pink and white flowers.  Soon these trees will make a scented canopy over some sidewalks.  Lawns begin to wake up and grow erratically, with some darker green fertilized spots.  Unfortunately this growth brings about the noisy season of the obnoxious grass cutting and mechanized yard maintenance machines.

Jealousy

Eventually Sarrah was a little dismayed with having to tolerate them when it became apparent that they were not leaving.  It became her turn to learn to share space and time, with other animals.  If you think that animals do not have feelings and emotions, like Jealousy, you have missed something.  As the cute kittens grew into crazy brave young cats, they freely terrorized the backyard at home and consumed the atmosphere in the beach house.  Sarrah would sulk, sigh, and lay on her bed pouting when I would spend time with a kitten instead of her, (despite the fact that I always spent plenty of time with her first and after to avoid any issues); she simply wanted all of my time.

Luckily she learned to like them, as much as an older dog can adjust to pesky kittens who have invaded the home front.

Intruders

Like most dogs, Sarrah had a way with cats.  I don’t think she would actually hurt one, but these furry creatures intrigued her and she delighted in seeing them run.

Tux and Simon never wanted anything to do with Sarrah.  Tux simply disappeared when Sarrah was outside; Simon on the other hand would frequently swipe at her through gaps in the fence and occasionally sit on top of it, to taunt her.  They never bonded and never shared the same space at the same time.  Though they did share the same house and people, they never really lived together.  After they had gone, Sarrah settled into the role as our only pet.

Sarrah’s favorite trick for dealing with cats that crossed paths with her while we were out walking was a quick lunge and two to three quick pepper steps, which usually sent any cat running…. Great fun!  She always had a wide smile when watching a cat in flight, and in turn a puzzled look for the rare one tough enough to stay, crouch and Hiss.  Through the eyes of a cat, Sarrah was incorrigible.

When Sarrah was about ten years old a coworker of Nissa’s was adopted by a stray cat, and in turn ended up with a batch of genetic soup kittens, born May Twenty Eighth, Two Thousand Eight.  After some discussion we adopted two of these at least fifty percent feral, one third crazy, fearless kittens; a black male and a grey female each with faint ghost tiger stripes and a few random white chest spots.  Nissa named them after the Egyptian Gods, Rah and Isis.  Sarrah was beyond excited and very curious when these little ‘hair balls’ came home, fortunately for them being of wild origin gave them inherent coping skills for excessive sniffing and occasional chasing.  Initially Sarrah was amazed with the clumsy little kittens.  She acted like she had never seen anything like them before.  Sarrah displayed an intense curiosity and fixated on them, under closely guarded supervision.  She made no seriously aggressive moves toward the kittens, just a constant intense observation of these mini versions of the enemy.

Sarrah had an insatiable desire to sniff them; it seemed that she drew energy from their essence of new life.

The Weary Kind

A couple of business collaborations ended over a three-year span.  One ended well having run its course, just a few months prior to the music stopping.  The later fell to the circumstances, making it time to pick up and try again.  I had seen glimpses of ‘the writing on the wall’ for quite a while in my handwriting (this is an example of where stubbornness isn’t always a quality) and knew that I needed to cause the latest change and jump into the pile of challenges that it takes, to move on.  My human battery would not hold a charge and I sensed that this change should be done while I still had my four-legged assistant, before I would not be able to rise out of bed, let alone to the occasion.  It was time to recycle my crippled career, in a new direction, with a new group, one more time.  Sarrah was eleven and half years old at this time with most of her life in the past and the dark cloud that all animal people are aware of, but try to ignore, was getting closer.

A working week alone with Sarrah at the Beach House in the late winter of Two Thousand Ten gave me time to do many things, one of which was to finally embrace this conclusion and scrounge up the energy required to get on with it.  While there I did some of the things that ease my mind, forms of what I suppose are mediation.  We walked many miles on the beach, through the dunes and down the roads.  The weather cooperated so I rode my motorcycle daily, around the community and the rural roads.  Most importantly, I simply sat in the sunshine with my best friend and watched her nap. At each day’s end, we walked to the beach to watch the sun disappear into the ocean.  Every evening I watched my favorite movie, “The World’s Fastest Indian”.  This was my first lone stay at the Beach House.  The quiet time alone was good for me and I feel fortunate that Sarrah was with me for this experience.

Shortly after returning, I met with another group who had expressed an interest in me, made ‘The Change’ and began the next chapter of my tired, working life story.  Around this time a movie titled “The Weary Kind” came out along with a soundtrack of the same name by Ryan Bingham that felt like a fitting battle song for the times (especially the lyrics “Somehow this don’t feel like home, anymore” and “Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try”), Sarrah and I listened to this tune every morning as we rallied to fight on another day.

The less I Understand

Like an early morning drunk, after having sat all night at a gaming table in the dark corner of a garish smoke stained casino, it seems that I had played this game too long.  Perhaps like most games, if you are distracted in the process of playing them well and lose track of time, you will eventually lose.  I guess sooner or later we all lose, Everything.

To borrow yet again from Don Henley, in his song The Heart of the Matter “The more I Know, The less I Understand” rings true for me, again.  Our dispiriting American economic meltdown also known as “The Great Recession” started for me and much of the residential real estate construction related world, in the fall of Two Thousand Eight.  My customer base was exclusively new construction driven and all caught up in the terminal economic tsunami.  I had earned a decent living for years prior to this carelessly fueled real estate lending boom, rode the waves along with the new “gold rush feverists” throwing up not so little boxes on the hill side and now continue to struggle in the rip tide with those who remain.  Most people that I know were greatly financially impacted, many were annihilated.  All have been battle scarred.  And the nightmare is far from over.