Friday, January 30, 2009

Dedicated to those who rescue homeless animals

I Never Was a Mother, by Terry Albert
A friend of mine made this video for me. I wrote the poem in 1995, when I was busy fostering homeless dogs and cats for various rescue groups. It just bubbled out of my heart onto the paper one night, the first poem I've ever written. (For that matter, I've only written one other one, read it here

A lot of rescuers don't have children, and maybe it is that fact that leads us to nurture and love animals so much. I never felt a strong desire for children. Though I enjoy kids a lot, I've never had a sense of loss that I didn't have my own. I poured my soul into this poem, and I hope you will enjoy it. In 1995 it won a Dog Writers Association Of America Maxwell Award after it appeared in the Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue newsletter.

My friend Roberta Cantow of Original Digital came up with the idea of a narration and video. The photos you see here are dogs I have fostered or cared for as a pet sitter, with the exception of the Lab at the beginning, who is my own beloved Tank, that once in a lifetime dog I will never forget. Roberta, an Emmy-winning filmmaker, has created some wonderful video tributes, multimedia stories, and has recently completed a new film, Bloodtime, Moontime, Dreamtime.

Some of the dogs: 
My brother's cat: Dan's cat really did come to live with me when they moved to Hawaii and couldn't take him along because of the long quarantine. Smokey was not a kitty who would do well with that. But when they moved back to California, Smokey went back to them. I didn't have a photo of Smokey, a blue-gray shorthair, so we used a photo of my kitty Whisper, who was rescued from Bonita Animal Control. 

The neighbor's dog: I've had a lot of these; a cocker spaniel who strayed over to my house (how do they know to come to me?). His teenage owner offered me one of her puppies as a reward (ACKK...NO!); a Rottweiler who parked on my front porch for an afternoon, until his owner got my call – thank goodness for tags. The dog in the video was Brandie, a toy poodle I cared for as a pet sitter for over 8 years. 

An AIDs victim's last request: Yes, this really happened too. A man asked if I could take his two shih tzus that were ten years old. I felt they had a good chance of being adopted at the Humane Society, so I referred him there and promised to follow up and take them out if they didn't get placed. He got them kennel cough vaccines to help them stay healthy, and both were adopted within three days, and I was able to call him with the good news. 

The red collie laying on the couch: Red Ted wasn't really a purebred collie, but Collie Rescue and Lab Rescue learned they should know better than send me to check out a dog in the shelter-- he came home with me. Red Ted with the Spot On His Head, I called him, because he had a big red spot right between his ears. He was adopted by a nursing home, where he was renamed Care Bear and lived there the rest of his life. I always though he had some Ibizan Hound in him. Weird breed combo, but maybe he came from a puppy mill or something, and got mixed-up breeding.

The pool dogs: Yes that's me in the water with the dogs on the deck refusing to come in! Indy and  Charlie Whiskers were foster dogs, Tank was mine, and Taz was a pet sitting client. What a group. I look like I'm conducting an orchestra.  

The Chihuahua in the cage: His name was Burr(also in this photo), and he really was in the shelter, with his roommate Issa, a Lhasa Apso, but they came home with me when I lived in Seattle and stayed with me til I found them a home. 

Irish Setter: Apples was a pet sitting client, who had cancer in her spine. I learned to walk her and support her weight while she recovered from surgery. After her owners spent thousands of dollars on treatment, her cancer came back and she couldn't be saved. She died at 13 years old, the day after my Tank passed away at the same age. 

Sheltie on a quilt: This is my Bonnie, who I adopted at 6 years old from Southland Sheltie Rescue. She and her littermate, Lily, came from a puppy mill in Texas. Over 35 dogs came to San Diego to find new homes. Today Bonnie and Lily still live with me, at age 11.  

Collie and little girl: Bonnie (a different Bonnie) was an elderly stray in the shelter, and she almost died from the stress of her spay surgery. We had to carry her on a litter to my car to bring her home. But she thrived and found a wonderful family with three kids who adored her for the rest of her life. They went on to adopt another collie from Collie Rescue.

Me with a dachshund: Beanie and Tuffy were ten years old when they came to stay with me. This is Beans, the world's sweetest most loving dog – especially for a doxie! Tuffy lived only one year, and Beans lived two years. Their owner had gone into a nursing home, and they were left in a kennel until the family could figure out what to do with them. A volunteer from FOCAS (Friends of the County Animal Shelters) found me. They came to live with me the first week I moved into my house. 

White dog with bandana: Oscar was an Un-Labrador that I took out of the Escondido Humane Society when I volunteered for Lab rescue. He was so beautiful and he had kennel cough, I just couldn't leave him there. He found a fabulous home with Ilona, who became a close friend. He worked as a therapy dog and is now enjoying his retirement.

It takes longer to tell their stories than to watch the video! I hope you enjoyed it. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

My cousin found a video

I can't believe it- my cousin Becky found a video that has Grandpa and Freckles in it! (See the blog entry below this one) Circa 1963, that's me – the girl in yellow with glasses (ouch...). My Dad was the filmmaker on this one. It features my brother Dan in the cowboy outfit (he'll kill me when he sees this), Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma. 

My cousins have all responded that they remember saying the pledge with Grandpa and Freckles- too bad we don't have a video of that. Maybe someone will turn up a photo. If so, I'll post it here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Proud of America today

The photo here brings back a memory of my childhood. My grandfather, Sidney Garfield Hicks, came to America from England to seek his fortune back in the early 20th century. Coming through Ellis Island, he settled in Kansas City, Kansas, and soon sent for his young bride, Lily, and infant son, Sidney Jr. And here he lived for over 50 years, raising a family of seven children and 20 grandkids. During WWII, he proudly planted a Victory Garden and became an American citizen. His two sons fought in the war. 

When we visited, Grandpa Hicks would gather all us kids around the flagpole in his front yard each morning for the flagraising. There with his spaniel, Freckles, who usually wore a colorful bandana for the occasion, we would all say the Pledge of Allegiance next to our grandfather. At the end of the day, we would take down the flag, careful not to let it touch the ground. Under his supervision, we would fold it like the military servicemen do: neatly, edge over edge into a perfect triangle, and carry the beloved flag back into the house until tomorrow, when the sun would rise, and we'd do it again. 

I can picture Grandma standing at the front screen door with the "H" on the grille, wearing her apron and waiting to make us all a cup of proper English tea (NEVER with tea bags, only loose tea would do). 

In the summer of 2007, I visited my cousin Becky in Joplin, Missouri. As we drove down the road, here was this bronze statue of children saying the pledge of allegiance with their dog. There was David and me, maybe Joe and John or Becky, and of course Freckles, proud Americans all. 

Today, most of my cousins have a flag on a tall flagpole in our front yards, harking back to that special moment in our childhoods, when our Grandpa and Freckles taught us what it means to be an American. Tomorrow, on inauguration day, I hope everyone stops for a moment and thanks their God for the freedoms we enjoy, and prays for the promise of a bright future for America. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Two cute dogs need a home

So many dogs need homes right now, and I was contacted about these two, so I hope you'll take a look and spread the word. 

Two boys, Ulysses and Shilo, are five years old, chihuahua/doxie/boxer/whatever mixes. They aren't too big, as you can see. They play like puppies, are crate trained and sleep in their crates at night, and play outside all day. They love people and love to play tug of war with their toys. They are neutered and current on all their shots. Their owner would prefer they stay together. 

Call Gail at 619-920-0326 or Carole at 858-335-1329. The dogs are in San Diego County. 

Why homeless Dogs?
It's a shame that at only five years old, shelters are reluctant to take them in, saying they are not as adoptable as "younger" dogs. Since I have adopted dogs as old as 14, I find that hard to imagine. Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas, and five years old is about when they reach their prime, depending on their size and breed. An adult dog makes a wonderful pet and is a lot less work than a puppy. Every dog I've owned was an adult when I got him or her (Exception- Tank was 10 months old when I came to live with him). They all had a lot of good years left to enjoy. 

Sure, they are cute when they are puppies. So are human babies. You don't throw them out when they become teenagers, though you may want to! 

I don't know why these dogs need a home, but sometimes people fall on hard times, and just can't keep their pets. Divorce, unemployment – all kinds of tragic circumstances screw up our life plans. If it wasn't for my good friend Virginia, I would not have been able to keep Emma, my collie, when I got a divorce. I had two dogs and two cats in an apartment that only allowed two animals, so Emma stayed with Virginia for several months until I was able to get a house. Not many of us have friends like that. 

So rather than judge those who don't keep their pets, I choose to sympathize, and pray that sweet dogs like these will find a home.