The Good Son

August was a hard month. We lost both of our dogs to cancer days just apart. Last August our youngest dog Lily died so August has not been kind as of late. One good thing did happen the last week of this past August and that was us adopting an eight year old beagle named Abel.

Janet and Abel under the apple tree.

Abel comes to us from Kindness Ranch who have many animals in their care as well as beagles that survive laboratory research. These people are truly doing the lords work. Beagles are the preferred dogs for laboratory research partly because of their mild temperament which ironically is the thing we love most about them. Abel was being fostered by a family in Redmond Washington and we found him on Petfinder.

Except for a few minor dust ups with our cat Smokey trying to be a bully, Abel’s first couple weeks with us has been pretty smooth. Janet had the brilliant idea of letting both of them sit with her in the reading room during the day. Since then Smokey has become less fearful and more accepting of Abel’s constant pacing in circles, a habit we noticed in our now angel dog Lily. They were both caged for the early years of their lives.

Wednesday we had his first vet appointment with our vet Dr. Martin who is super cool. Although she can not prescribe or recommend CBD for animals, I ran it by her and she agrees they can do no harm. Dogs have to ingest lots of toxins in their lifetime so maybe this will help even things out a bit. We want to do everything possible to make sure that Abel has a long and healthy life.

 

 

Remembering Odie

Years ago I used to keep a journal. It helped me work through a lot of things that I was going through at the time. For some reason I got away from doing that, but since nobody reads this blog I’ve decided that this is my journal now and plan to make more frequent entries. If someone reads it, no big deal. I have no secrets.

One week ago we were at a vet appointment for Herbie. We always brought Odie along for because he hates to be left alone with just the cats, plus it’s just nice to have him around supporting Herbie. We mentioned to the doctor how Odie was having some  stool issues and she noticed that he had some muscle wasting in multiple areas that was an indication of a very old dog or a very sick dog. Suddenly the conversation was no longer about Herbie.

The doctor ordered a set of x-rays and they confirmed the worst. His intestines were being smashed to the back of his body by huge tumors that had been growing for some time. Some calcification of the organs had already begun. He didn’t have long.

I felt numb and heartbroken. We had just spent hundreds on expensive tests and even a dental only a few months ago where they told us he was fine. I’m still trying to not be angry about that. If they had done the x-ray when we had the senior blood panel done on him in April, maybe we could have done something to slow the process or at least make him more comfortable.

His last day was not comfortable. That was Monday. We said goodbye to him at 3:00 Monday afternoon, less than a week after the diagnosis.

The last few days have been really shitty. When you adopt older dogs you have less time with them. That’s the trade off, I get that but that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel like you just took a baseball bat to the gut every time you lose one.

And you know what, I’d do the same thing all over again.

It’s not about us it’s about the dog.

If I see another older dog in a shelter in the near future, I’m probably gonna adopt them. Especially if they’re a beagle.

Right now, little Herbie is the last man standing. I always knew he was a tough little guy but I had no idea he would outlive our other dogs.

I’ll always remember Odie as being such a diplomat. He ignored the cats even when they were acting crazy. Lily was so nervous that she would often trip over him and even lay on top of him but he never protested. And he was always careful to not trample Herbie even at dinner time.

I’m really gonna miss my buddy. He was something special. Right now I imagine him and Lily in heaven snuggling together. Saving a space for Herbie.

Herbie’s Victory Lap

A couple of weeks ago our vet told us that our beloved senior dog Herbie has a mass in his sinus cavity. It is most likely malignant and is most definitely inoperable and eventually fatal.

It’s always heartbreaking to lose a pet. Just last August we lost our youngest dog Lily. Since Lily was so young it came as a complete shock and was incredibly devastating for us. This time it’s not a surprise since Herbie has been showing signs of wearing down for some time, but that still doesn’t make it easy. We would have lost him in May of 2016 to an abscessed tooth if not for Janet showing up at the vet with him and demanding surgery. He’s always been a tough little guy.

The lesson that I learned from  losing Lily was to treasure every day, hour and minute I have with the kiddos (a word I’ve picked up from the vets here in Olympia) and never take anything for granted.

I’m looking at this as a victory lap for Herbie. His farewell tour like a retiring ballplayer. He could have suffered a tragic fate like so many pets lost or abandoned on the streets but he didn’t. We enjoyed five plus glorious years with him and gave him a loving home in his old age which is more than a lot of creatures have. Now, our job is to make his life as comfortable as possible until he joins the rest of our angel pets.

Pitch Perfect

Pitch is probably the the best TV drama that you’re not watching right now. Sports fans are ignoring it because “Oh how ridiculous a girl baseball player” and non fans are like, ” Ugh, another show about sports”.

PITCH: L-R: Tim Jo, Meagan Holder, Mo McRae, Kylie Bunbury, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mark Consuelos, Ali Larter and Dan Lauria in PITCH premiering Thursday, Sept. 22 (9:00 - 10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX © 2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tommy Garcia / FOX.
PITCH: L-R: Tim Jo, Meagan Holder, Mo McRae, Kylie Bunbury, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mark Consuelos, Ali Larter and Dan Lauria in PITCH premiering Thursday, Sept. 22 (9:00 – 10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX © 2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tommy Garcia / FOX.

My opinion is that there’s enough there to keep both those demographics content. Last week I was catching up on the show on Hulu and Janet started watching and was totally drawn in and she couldn’t care less about sports. Kylie Bunbury is so believable as Ginny Baker the first female MLB player. Mark-Paul Gosselaar nails the part of the aging veteran teammate with a heart of gold that takes Ginny under his wing. I had no idea he was that good an actor when he was Zack on Saved By The Bell.

Sure you could pick apart details like her father when showing her how to throw a screwball has his fingers set for throwing a circle change but only hardcore fans would complain about that. There’s plenty of drama and character development to keep you interested in the story. It’s like Friday Night Lights in that it’s a show about people of which some of them have sports as part of their lives but there is very little actual sports being shown.

That said, having the full cooperation of Major League Baseball makes this show feel really authentic. They find a way to work actual game footage and current players and sportscasters into the mix which is very cool.

The most important thing about Pitch is the inspiration a show like this could be for young girls, and they really drive this home some would say to the point of being preachy. Given the results of the recent election, I don’t think you can downplay the woman hate that goes on in society in general or sports specifically. Even in the comments section for videos promoting the show there is so much vitriol. I personally believe that a woman could play pro baseball. She would have to be a pitcher or maybe a slick fielding middle infielder and be a generational talent like Serena Williams. And the biggest obstacle she would have to overcome wouldn’t  be MLB hitters, but the old boy system that likes to keep things the way they’ve always been.

WTF America!

Well congratulations USA, you elected a reality show starring, race baiting, pussy grabbing numbskull as your president. You must be very proud. I have a theory that I call the 50% theory, and God I wish that I was wrong but yesterday proved me 100% right. That theory is that of the 8 billion people that populate this planet, half of them are idiots. 50%.  Now I think we may have more than our share here in ‘merica.

If somebody had told me a month ago the Cubs would win the World Series and orange dude would be elected president I would have had my doubts about either event occurring.

There are many reasons why this nightmare became a reality. Here are a few.

  1. The purity test. The protest vote. Voters who believed neither candidate met their purity standards. These voters felt compelled to vote their conscience and go for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or any other random schmuck that had no chance of winning so they could feel better about themselves. Nobody is gonna give a shit about your conscience as missiles are heading toward out capital cities because of some ridiculous thing this narcissist has done.
  2. Patriarchy. This is real, I just had no idea just how real it is until recently. There is a lot of animosity toward women. Duh, right? I have not always been aware of this having lived my entire life as a man, and kinda having my hands full being a black man in America. There are men out there that would die and go to Hell rather than see the first black president followed by the first female president.
  3. Desperation. A mixture of racism, misogyny, bully worship and desperation were the hallmarks of the Trump campaign. As scary as those other things are it’s the desperation that kept his supporters going. They believed all the lies he told them because they wanted them to be true. Sure, this guy has scammed hundreds of people out of millions of dollars but not this time! No-sir-ree this time he’s gonna keep his promise cause this time he’s speaking our language. This time he’s blaming those people that I don’t like anyway.

We are going to get through this. This kind of madness always passes after a while. Usually after the ignorant masses discover their champion is a shyster and they’ve been sold a bill of goods. In the meantime what we can do individually is get active on a local basis. I live in a state that’s a brick in the blue wall and I’m going to find time to donate to some worthy local representative and work to make damn sure that this wonderful state remains blue. Once Trump is impeached or finally revealed for the con man he is in 4 years, a strong progressive candidate could unseat him. Hillary is probably done, she’s like the Dem version of Mitt Romney by now. I’m thinking Elizabeth Warren. We just gotta hang in there. Somehow.

WE WIN!

A feat thought by some to be unachievable became a reality a couple days ago when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I never get tired of writing that or saying that or thinking about that because that makes it more real.

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Finally, the men in blue put together 11 wins in October. Cub fans, especially older Cub fans know what it’s like to endure  not only losing but also constant ridicule from everyone from White Sox fans, co-workers even the national media. Every year they made the playoffs ESPN would rebroadcast the 84 or 03 NLCS. Finally they have to bury that shit.

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Thanks to a team of young studs that don’t know or care anything about those teams, the north siders are set up for a possible dynasty. Even when fans lost hope,(myself included) they come charging back. Down 2-1 to the Dodgers, 3-1 to the Indians and after losing a 5-1 lead late in game 7 when your horse of a closer gets lit up for a tying homer, these boys still come back in the 10th inning of the greatest game 7 ever and score 2 runs to win their first championship since the dead ball era.

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I know a lot of you don’t care about sports but this is bigger than grown men playing a boys game. I can’t count the times I have been mocked or even at times bullied when I was a kid simply for being a Cub fan. Those who stand by their team especially in rough times (108 futile years) to me shows something about that person’s character. Anybody can be a fan of whoever the current champion is. That just means you’re a front runner, a coattail rider, a brown noser even. If I knew a job applicant for my company was a front runner I would never hire them. I could never count on their loyalty.

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This World Series win is like the payoff for putting dollars into a slot machine for over a century. That payoff came in tears and the release of energy that could be felt worldwide. Everyone has a story about a family member or friend or partner that was no longer alive that was a lifelong fan. For those of us still in the body, we had the weight of 50 giant gorillas lifted of our backs on Wednesday November 3rd 2016. This was the last great American sports story. I’m trying to think who should play Joe Maddon in the movie…

The Forever Headphones are No More!

On December 7th, 2011 I bought a pair of pink V-MODA Vibe headphones on Amazon for $24. I had purchased several of these before because they short out after 2 or 3 months. Even though they only last a short time I kept buying them because they have a great sound for the price. Actually the order was for 2 pair, a pair of gunmetal phones for me and the pink ones for Janet. The gunmetal set was $38.

Fast forward 2 months later, my phones short out as usual so I borrow Janet’s pair. She hardly used them and mine were in use all the time when I work, at the gym, even overnight I wear them so I can use the sleep machine app and listen to old time radio to help me sleep. I never gave them back.

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This morning, the forever headphones (which is what I named them after they just kept going) finally shorted out in one ear. It was the end of an era. By some fluke, some miracle of modern manufacturing, I had been able to use a product that is surely created to fail in a short period of time, for almost 5 years.

Just looked on Amazon and the few remaining sets of this model are now $39. I’m reluctant to buy them because the odds are so against the next pair being anything like the last pair. They will never surpass the forever headphones. A moment of silence please.

Darling Lily, Every Day Is A Good Day

Yesterday we lost our dog  Lily. I can’t believe I’m saying that because she was our youngest dog. The Doctor thinks it was acute kidney failure brought on by bacteria, virus, cancer or whatever. Point is they shut down.

We just survived a trip over mountains, rivers and through dark of night. Then we get here and our youngest dog gets sick. Just an intestinal drama, nothing we haven’t seen before. Nothing some chicken & rice won’t fix. Not this time.

If you don’t know Lily’s story here’s a summary. She was literally thrown to the wolves by her chickenshit puppy mill owners because an inspection was coming. Only her and her sister survived and they were taken in by a rescue and we adopted Lily from them. When we picked her up her fur was so thick she almost looked like a sheep and was a little smelly. It didn’t matter, we were already in love with her.

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This pic Jan snapped of Lily on our trip really shows the happy fun loving little pup we got to know.

The four years and four months we had Lily were the best of times and the worst of times. Puppy mill survivors have serious PTSD. She would freak out at the slightest movement or sound. Even after she got to know us she still would not let us stand behind her. She’d always find a way to circle behind you. Because of this skill I nicknamed her Nightcrawler. Cockers are known for having weak bladders but we ended up taking her out every hour because being raised in a cage she was still new to the whole housebroken thing. Only in the last two years or so have we been able to leave home for three or four hours without wondering if there will be a puddle. She made huge strides in the last few years. She would actually wag her tail and be playful with her brothers when it was just us hanging out.

The rescue told us she was 2-3 years old back in 2012 so that would make her 6-7 now, but our new vet thinks shes more like 8-9 based on her teeth, which we did a dental on in 2012 but now she was in need of another. The things this dog went through were horrendous. In addition to the puppy mill she had heartworm. They gave her two rounds of that heartworm medication because the first round didn’t kill all the heartworms. That medicine is toxic as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with damaging her kidneys.

Even though this is a stunning and tragic event in our lives, we had a moment of clarity as we sat in the backyard having a kombucha toast in Lily’s honor. For Lily every day was a good day. She escaped a prison and landed in a place where she had both human and animal companionship as well as unconditional love. She learned what is is to play, receive treats and frolic in the snow for the first time.

We had 4 years and 4 months with Lily which isn’t as long as we imagined we would have with her, but I know she appreciated every day she had with us. She worshiped Janet and would often wait by the door when she was gone. When there were thunderstorms or fireworks then she would come and hide near me or jump on my lap. A day that I will always treasure is the day we spent in Billings Montana at the Motel 6 on our trip to Washington. We didn’t arrive until 6:30 am and were just beat to shit. We decided to push everything back a day and just spend the whole day sleeping. Janet, me, Odie, Herbie and Lily all piled into a queen size bed. Best sleep of my life.

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Odie was a huge part of Lily’s development. Since she was so afraid of people, he made it a lot easier for her to lean on him as a big brother.

Sometimes I think I’m done, all cried out. Then I’ll think about her or mention her name and it starts all over again. That’s when I remind myself that we gave her a great life. I think a lot of people would have returned her to the shelter given all the baggage that came with her. They would never have gotten to see the beautiful dog she became over the years. Her sweet kind spirit will always be with us.

There are many organizations that oppose puppy mills, here are a few.

 

Greetings From The Pacific Northwest

It’s been almost a month to the day since we arrived in our rental home in Olympia Washington and it is finally sinking in that we actually live here now. The trip out here took a couple extra days more than we expected but Janet, myself and all our furry kids made it. There is video and pics taken of the journey that I’ll assemble as soon as I get my shit together. It was such an ordeal that sometimes Jan & I still just look at each other and say,”we made it!”

Since we had to get rid of almost everything we owned except for stuff we could afford to ship and what could be squeezed into the van many things had to be re-bought. Like dishes, towels, a broom and other simple stuff. We’ve moved through the phase where you feel like a stranger in your own home to where you actually remember which drawer you keep the spoons in.

The weather is great, a little cool for July especially at night sometimes hitting the mid fifties. I think it rained once, maybe twice since July 4th. I hear Chicago and much of the nation has been going through a heat wave. I  get weather alerts saying lightning has been spotted in my area since I still have the WGN weather app. I miss the Cub games. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the MLB  app by next month to watch some big games.

The only bad news is yesterday our dog Lily had to be hospitalized with acute renal failure. She was recovering from some intestinal bug along with her brother Herbie but she’s not responding to medication so far. So now they have put her on intravenous meds. The next few days are critical so we would appreciate any prayers or positive thoughts you could send her way.

The Man Who Would Be Prince

Thursday April 21st 2016 was a tragic day in many aspects. WWE great Chyna was found dead in her home. A 16 year old girl was murdered in a school bathroom by other teenage girls(WTF???). Prince Rogers Nelson, one of the greatest rock icons of all time died at his Paisley Park estate. All this happening within hours of each other, each event shocking enough to dominate the news cycle. It was the passing of the man called Prince that would stun the world.

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My one and only time I got to attend a Prince performance was 1981 at Park West in Chicago. Anyone familiar with the venue knows it’s very intimate, basically a night club. I remember there was a 2 drink minimum. The Dirty Mind album was his latest effort and the band was touring to promote it. We had seats on the main floor maybe 30-40 feet from the stage. Prince came out dressed in the trench coat, boots and manties he wore on the album cover. His band was pre-revolution with Dez, Dr. Fink, Andre, Bobby Z and Lisa, no Wendy just yet. I don’t remember how long they played but I do remember being blown away by this guy who we thought was maybe just a gimmick and knowing that we had been in the presence of greatness. From that point on I bought all of his albums and was a fan for life. Two years later, Purple Rain hit and the rest as they say is history.

The untimely deaths of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston really didn’t surprise me that much. Both their lives had been in a downward spiral to some degree so when the news came I was saddened but not shocked. The Prince thing really caught me off guard. I imagined him being a funky old man like George Clinton making music for years to come and popping up at award shows. Losing him this soon really was a shot to the gut.

At one point Prince to my dismay decided to no longer do his classic songs in concert. His new religion forbid him from using the four letter words that he so cleverly wove into his magical lyrics. I never gave the new material much thought but now I plan on giving it a second chance. Partly because there will be no more forthcoming, and partly because now I’ll listen with a different mindset. The man was constantly cranking out work which was one of the things I admired most about him. He was unafraid of failure. If a record bombed, no biggie here’s some more stuff. And some more stuff. I love that. I wish that I was able to have that drive in my own life.