Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Celebrating the Day of the Dead

Frida, who loved to lie on flower pots.

November 1st and 2nd constitute the Day of the Dead celebration, arguably the most Mexican of Mexican traditions. It's a beautiful concept: the dead aren't gone, or lost--every year, on these two days, they come back in spirit to visit with us. Families gather at cemeteries with Mariachi bands and home-cooked meals, whatever was the difunto's favorite food, with bottles of tequila and cartons of cigarettes, photos and flower wreaths. These usually gloomy places are lighted by candles and laughter, a scattered tear here and there, but mostly a feeling of joy.

We lost Frida in April 2012. She was with us for a mere three years, and her absence still hurts. Today I want to feel like she's not gone, not lost. May you, too, feel your loved ones that have crossed over close to you today.

Thanks to Nola and Sugar for hosting the B&W hop.

P.S. -- Got a spankin' new Facebook page for my scribbling endeavors. My very first single-author publication is coming out 2015--I'm doing the wildest Snoopy dance :) I'll be giving away five copies of the new book--of course it involves dogs and dog rescuing--among the first 100 likes on the page. Like I said, spankin' new :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Wonderful Story of Djoeke Giliam

Just before leaving for Holland--literally; it was a Sunday and we were leaving on Tuesday--I interviewed Djoeke Giliam, a woman I met a couple of years ago through the dog rescue foundation we were both involved with at the time. Ever since I began working for the Amigoe Express, I'd wanted to write a piece on her. Many reasons, but the bottom line is that she's the greatest human being I've ever met.

No exaggeration.

She has the largest, kindest heart. She's a fundamentally and intrinsically good person. She cares, deeply and selflessly, about the world. She wants to make it a better place--not in any dramatic, Let's-Change-The-World-Order way; she understands that small things are the biggest change-mongers.

And she lives with thirty-six dogs.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Home seeking puppies...

So. The puppies have left, all three to extraordinary homes.

Nena, the only girl, left on Friday August 22nd. Ochoa left the next day, Saturday August 23rd. Little Sneijder, whose plans for adoption had fallen through, found the absolute most perfect home for him.

Cor saying goodbye to
Sneijder just before we
brought him to
his new home.
We walked him over--it's only a block away from us (!!)--the weekend before I left for Mexico.

And now the house feels sad... and quiet.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Black & White Sunday -- August 10

The newest members of the family, albeit temporary. (More about them in yesterday's post.) From the left: Ochoa, Snijder, and Nena.

Thanks to Nola and Sugar for hosting the B&W hop--so glad to be back!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

An absentee blogger's excuse

So some seven weeks ago, I got a desperate call mid morning: someone had found a box of puppies, less than ten days old (their eyes were still closed) in the street. Seven puppies. Who needed to be bottle-fed. Who would, most probably, die anyway. But an animal rescuer that gives up before giving it not just the best but everything is not an animal rescuer at all.

So I took them in. Just for a week, they told me. Another volunteer, with better facilities (remember some members of my seven-pack aren't exactly friendly, and I had no idea how they'd react to puppies, of all things), would take them in the following weekend.

Okay. A week is doable.

They arrived in a donated cat carrier, all seven of them, asleep and twisted around each other like snakes. I took out the one closest to the front and held him in my hand, and my heart sank. These puppies were newborns. Two days old, three tops.

I prepared myself for heartbreak, sooner or later. Probably sooner. Then I prepared a batch of milk substitute, also brought by the volunteer. Each can costs Naf. 50 (about USD 30); raising orphaned puppies has become a luxury.

I can't understand how it's possible, full into the 21st century, that we haven't come up with a better solution for feeding infant animals. Let me tell you: bottles do not work. They hate them. It feels artificial; there's nothing, let alone flesh, surrounding the nipple for their little paws to press against; there's no warmth, no furriness. And there's air going through along with the milk, which is, of course, Not Good.

Seriously. To any inventors out there, I'm begging: please--please--come up with something better.

One puppy did die, the day after I got them. He probably (we weren't going to do an autopsy on a tiny days-old body) aspirated some milk into his lungs, which caused inflammation and infection, and he asphyxiated. He died literally a minute before the vet got to him. Not that the vet could've done anything. No one could. (I keep telling myself that. Doesn't seem to work.)

That first week was hard. I camped out on the sofa, the puppies in a laundry hamper next to me. I slept when they slept, which wasn't all that much. I brought out the bottle as soon as I heard the first whimper. At that age, they need food (and liquids) every two hours, but they didn't like the bottle, so they drank very little. Slowly they began to understand that that ugly plastic thing that tasted funny was, strangely, where the food came from. Slowly they began to drink more, faster.

I ended up keeping three--fosters, not permanent additions to the family... at least not yet. Another foster took the other three. A load shared is a load halved, right?

Ochoa (black) and Snijder, 4 weeks, discovering
the pleasure of sticks--and of fighting over them.
When one began to open his eyes, we were able to calculate exact date of birth (count back ten days, presto): June 18th. We called them the WK pups (WK being the Dutch abbreviation for World Cup). And since they came to me the week before the NL-MX game, we named the three brown ones after Dutch players--Persie, Snijder, and Fer--and the black ones after Mexican players: Ochoa, the biggest one (seriously, he's double the size of his siblings), Rafa (for Rafa Marquez), and--oops, the third one was a girl. We tried several variations, but ended up with Nena (baby girl in Spanish). Her future mom is going to call her Nona.

The tiny one that died was Chicharito.

This past Wednesday they turned 7 weeks old. The week before, at 6 weeks, they got their first vaccination--and just in time, because a parvo epidemic has hit the island. May and June produced a record number of abandoned puppies, and most of the little ones are sick now. Several have died--including, today, one of the WK family, Persie.

Beautiful, smart Persie. Run free, little one.
I'm heartbroken. He didn't live with us for more than a week, but it was an intense week. He was the one that least liked the bottle (opposed to Ochoa, for instance, who got over the plastic discomfort pretty fast once he figured out there was food at the other end), so I spent a lot of time with him on my lap. My chest. My arms. He was the first one to open his eyes. The first to crawl out of the basket. The first to walk. He was so, so smart, and he would've been a fantastic adult dog. The world has been cheated out of a canine jewel.

I know I've been neglecting you. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry, too, for ending on such a sad note. It's a sad day. On the other hand, none of them had halfway good chances of making it, and here they are, five of them, alive and healthy and strong--and four are going to fantastic homes. The fifth one will find his "golden basket", as they say in Dutch; it's just going to take a bit longer. Which means we get to enjoy him all the more.

Oh yeah, cutie. You get to stay in this pack a bit longer.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Buy a book, save a dog

Or, you know, a cat. Or any other animal that someone, way less cool than you, figured would be a good idea to abandon.

See, my good friend Lynne Hinkey, who also happens to be a writer of extraordinary wit and sensitivity--she's a marine biologist, she owns two of the luckiest dogs on this or any other planet, she cried with Old Yeller (okay, everyone does that, but you get the point)--has a new novel out. And she's donating all the proceeds of e-book sales during June--yep, 100%--to the Charleston Animal Society.

This is your chance to do good.

Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons (e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords)

Author Jack Halliman sails to Puerto Rico seeking a cure for writer's block, but instead finds a dead body. When a second corpse turns up, Jack becomes one of two suspects. The other is the chupacabra. Jack has to find out who--or what--is responsible for the killings before he lands in prison. Again.

According to the town's reputed witch, belief brings myths to life. As the death toll mounts, the mayor puts pressure on the police to capture the chupacabra, but Detective Eddie Corredor thinks there's more than a monster behind the killings and he's determined to discover the truth.

As the conniving mayor, a dogged detective, and a voodoo-practicing 14-year old drag Jack deeper into the investigation, he discovers that separating reality from myth is no easy feat. The lines between men and monsters, monsters and gods, and in this case, between gods and a dog, are thin and blurry.

Is the chupacabra real or myth? Dog only knows.

It isn't a mystery, although it reads like the best page-turner and will keep you guessing. It's not a corny man-loses-dog tear-jerker, but I can't guarantee you won't need a Kleenex at some point. It's definitely not a pro-animal-rights sermon, although there's an underlying theme that, one hopes, might make some rethink their breed-specific prejudices. It is funny, and it is exquisitely written. I might be somewhat biased, but I suspect Lynne might find several die-hard fans after this novel.

And that's all besides the fact that--I'll say it again--Lynne is donating 100% of e-book sales proceeds (no, not just profits) to an animal rescue organization.

Go buy it. Gift it to your friends. Share this. Change lives.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Black & White Sunday: Benny

Benny's first sortie at the Kabouterbos (Dwarf Forest, in Dutch). He was surprisingly calm. Made me proud.

Happy Mother's Day!
Especially to the awesome mothers of kids with paws ;)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Yes, we're still alive... #WOOFSupport Report

Things were hectic during April down here. The A-to-Z Challenge, other writing projects, household stuff; my computer broke down at the end of March, which did not help. All in all, I devoted little (read: zero) time to proper training.

As with everything else Dog, it's the human that's to blame.

But I'm (slowly) learning from my four-legged teachers. No would've, could've, should've. Move forward. It's about the present; yesterday's gone, tomorrow doesn't exist yet.

I'm trying.

So. First: what are we struggling with? Besides general reactivity (which, as I've mentioned, spreads like wildfire in a pack--and I still can't figure out why it's the reactivity, and not the calm, that spreads), our neighbor at the back has two new dogs. Puppies. One around 6 months, the other about 10 or 12 weeks.

And my dogs do not like them.

Which means there's loud, incessant, and obsessive barking at the fence. It just takes one to start--one of mine, I mean--and the other six sprint like stampeding Mustangs to join in the call to defend the fortress. The neighbor's dogs think it's great fun. They're puppies; of course they think it's fun.

But it's mighty serious business for my pack.

It doesn't last very long; even without (my) interference, they're done--tired, hoarse, bored--after about seven minutes. But with nine dogs barking as loud as they can, those seven minutes feel endless.

The neighbors--the other neighbors, not the owners of the puppies--have begun to complain. We've had the police here twice, plus a "formal" protest visit to tell us to either shut the dogs up or else. (I'm paraphrasing.)

That's the latest symptom. The solution comes in short- and long-term; long-term, obviously, is what we're aiming for--I want all my dogs to be happy, able to deal calmly with the stress of encountering new things, to (dare I say it?) enjoy encountering new things. But long-term takes, well, longer. Given the neighbor issues, it's become a choice between my dogs' psychological and physical well-being (dog poisoning is disgustingly common in this island).

Short-term solution: I'm building a wooden fence at the back. (It's actually a relocation of the fence; if you're curious you can read more here.) That will prevent the dogs from having a clear view of the neighbor's yard, which will (we hope) stop, or at least diminish, the barking. That fence is going up this week if it kills me.

Then there's the long-term. The two trainers I consulted agreed that the reactivity in my pack comes from lack of exposure to new things. The three puppies (now 18 months old) were born in this house, never left, and--to top it off--when they were scheduled for puppy training, there was an outbreak of distemper in the island, which means we kept them in quarantine-like isolation: no visitors, no walks, no leaving the house at all. Whenever I went out to help with other dogs, I wore plastic bags on my shoes, changed clothes, and disinfected everything, including myself, before coming even close to the dogs back home. It was a crucial time in their development, those couple of months, and it didn't help that their mother also stayed with them for eight months. Or that they've grown up in a pack with another four dogs.

So anti-reactivity treatment in this house, besides general "obedience" (which, to me, isn't so much tricks or cute behavior but rather the establishment of a two-way language so that the dog and I may communicate effectively), includes one-on-one walks. And that's how we discovered the Kabouterbos.

The Kabouterbos--or "Dwarf Forest"
It's a mini-forest ("kabouter" means dwarf, "bos" means forest) nearby; not a park in any civilized sense of the word, just a few square kilometers of wilderness with paths created (and maintained) by the few people that go there, mostly with horses. And no, I don't go at the same time as they do; as curious as I am about what my dogs would do if they saw a horse, I think we're not ready for that particular experiment yet.

It takes me about ten minutes to walk to the Kabouterbos. Once away from the street, whoever the lucky dog of the day is (I have seven dogs, there's seven days in a week--it can't be an accident) can go off-leash.

I was surprised to see how well-behaved they become when it's just me and no other dogs. When we're all at the beach, even if it's just three or four dogs, they go much farther afield and the intervals between coming back to check on me are longer. Makes sense; they feel safer in a pack than they do alone. When there's other dogs, I'm part of the pack (pack leader or not). When it's just me, I am their pack.

This iguana, for example, barely escaped with its life.
That's not to say they hang out by my legs all the time. No, they wander--just not far. They chase lizards and iguanas, they catch interesting scents and stay back to sniff or follow them into the brush for a bit--then they realize they're all alone and dash back out to look for me.

I expected this, the bit about losing me, to send them into outright panic mode. Lo and behold--no. Even Sam, who's the most reactive of my dogs (I can't even go pee without him), exhibited no signs of hysteria when I disappeared (from his sight; I never let him out of mine). He backtracked a bit, found my scent, and trotted--trotted, not sprinted--nose-to-ground, in my direction. It took him a couple of tries, because I fought my every instinct and stayed motionless behind a tree, but even when he lost the scent and had to backtrack again, he seemed cool and collected. When he found me I was the one celebrating like crazy; he was all like, "Oh, there you are. Keep up, will you?"

Sam, startlingly calm all by his lonesome
at the Kabouterbos
So it works. Yes, I'm slightly surprised it does. Maybe because the results are so immediate. I guess I expected a lot more tension and stress, a lot more unpredictability.

Which, of course, says a lot more about me than about my pack--and explains a heck of a lot about their behavior.

~ * ~

Thanks for visiting, and please do hop over to the other participants in this month's WOOF Support blog hop--awesome bloggers and all-around great human beings.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z: (#atozchallenge)

Z day. Can't believe it.

It's been fun. Grueling--first and last time I do the Challenge with two blogs, man!--but fun. I'm especially grateful to the repeat visitors--I think I would've given up somewhere around K if it weren't for your comments. You made me feel there was someone looking forward to these Lessons In Life From Dogs posts :)

There's so much to learn from dogs... These 26 posts barely scratched the surface, but the experience was totally enriched by your sharing of your own experiences and the lessons you've learned from your own furry family members. Thank you for that.

I'm off to Zzzz. I need it. We all do. But before you head to your own Zzzz place, take a listen/look-see at this video. It summarizes a lot of what the Lessons In Life From Dogs posts were about. Maybe you've seen it before--you probably have. In any case, I think we should watch it at least once a week. You know, to keep us on the right track.

Thank you so much for being here!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Youth vs. Age (#atozchallenge)

After yesterday's post, you probably think I'm partial to puppies. Who wouldn't be? Little bundles of cuteness overload, a pristine mind, character yet unshaped. Puppies--like the bunnies and chicks that symbolize Easter--offer a fresh start. A blank page. Holding a puppy in your arms is like holding the future. And our dreams for it.

It's no surprise that puppies get adopted a lot faster than adult dogs. Which presents a problem for rescue organizations.

Two, actually.

The first, most obvious, is that adult dogs have ever-narrowing chances of finding a good home. By "adult" I don't mean "senior"--even one- or two-year-old dogs get passed over for puppies. And every time that happens is another nail in their coffins. (If only they had coffins.)

The second problem is, actually, the core problem of dog rescuing. Where do all these homeless dogs come from? Sure, a lot are born homeless (especially in third-world locations like the Caribbean and Latin America)--but not all of them. A huge number started out life in homes, in families--a family that wanted that "bundle of cuteness overload", that "fresh start". But puppies don't stay puppies forever. They grow. Oh, so very, very fast.

Raising a puppy is every bit as challenging as raising a child. With one significant difference: you've got around six to eight years, depending on the branch of child psychology you prefer, to form that child's foundation of values and principles. With a puppy, you've got months. And not that many.

I get it; all you want to do with a puppy is cuddle and take pictures. What do you do when you find him cutting his tiny baby teeth on your Gucci loafers? You go Awwww, snap a photo, post it on Facebook, and all your friends go Awwwww too. And how can you possibly leave that itty-bitty baby in a crate all night? No, no; he sleeps in the bed with us. Plenty of time to teach him later.

Too many people fall in love with the baby cuteness and forget its days are numbered--until, one day, the puppy is no longer a puppy, it's a grown dog that growls at you when you try to get him off the bed. Off goes the ex-puppy to the shelter (or the street).

Raising a puppy to be a calm, independent, happy adult--the companion of your dreams--is hard work.

An adult dog comes with challenges, too, but they're of a different nature. They're already there, immediately visible so you can decide whether you can or cannot deal with them.

An adult's basic character traits--full of energy or mellow, social or not, a cuddler or a loner--have already been established and (unless you're into rehabilitation, which is a whole different ballgame), won't change.

An adult is much easier to train; they've lived enough to know, for example, that going potty in the same place where you sleep or eat is a bad idea. They test boundaries less. They love with less distraction, less challenge.

And yet ninety percent of people will stride past the adult cages at a shelter without so much as a second glance.

Why is it that we value youth so much more? Not just a dog's--ours, too. The golden years were in our teens, our twenties. Growing old seems like the end of everything, a tragedy that most people go to extreme lengths to postpone--as if it could be. Lying about their age; using all sorts of creams, make-up, concealers, magic potions. Studying pop culture to be in with the newest slang, the latest fashions, the hippest music. Going under the knife.

Why? Why is the passing of time so dreaded? Isn't it through this very passing that we acquire experience? Why is being older so bad?

Older dogs may not have the effervescence of puppies--thank heavens--but they have plenty of energy to keep any human company in the exercise department. Older dogs don't have to chew on everything to figure out what they like; they already know what tastes good, what doesn't get them into trouble--and they can spend more time chewing that.

Relationships with older dogs are more fulfilling--more time spent in quiet contemplation rather than in a tug-of-war to establish who's who. Power struggles and pissing contests aren't necessary.

I think that's also true of our own relationships as we get older.

~ * ~

Thank you for visiting, for all your awesome comments, and for helping make Life In Dogs's 
first A-to-Z Challenge a huge success. 
I look forward to many, many mutual visits.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Xanax, Eat Your Heart Out (#atozchallenge)

Depression seems to be the illness of our times. Everyone's either depressed, has been depressed, or knows someone who is. Xanax, and its fellow multi-colored pills, can be found in bathroom cabinets and bedside tables everywhere.

Is anyone getting better, though?

In my not-so-humble opinion, they're taking the wrong medicine. The wrong approach. I propose

Puppy Therapy!

One-on-one therapy at home has produced excellent results. Intensive out-patient therapy is available--free of charge--at your local shelter or rescue organization. For severe cases, we recommend volunteering at least once a week with a rescue organization. Aside from the endorphins your brain produces around chubby, furry, warm, and playful creatures, nothing gives your life a sense of purpose like an animal that needs you.

(If this seems contradictory, because you think rescuing animals exposes you to too much pain, remember: there's no light without dark, no day without night, and no joy without pain. It's part of life.)

Choose the course of therapy that best suits you. Except for allergies, no counter-indications apply.

~ * ~

Thanks for stopping by, and happy last three days of A-to-Z-ing!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who are you? (#atozchallenge)

A parent. Someone's child. Someone's friend. Married, single. A person of a certain sex. A graduate of a certain college. An employee at a certain firm. A performer of a certain job, certain sports, certain hobbies. A name. A family name.

Is that who you are? If these are just labels, then who are you? Are we what we do or what we like, even who we love? Or is there something more, something deeper?

And is that a fixed reality? Does that change?

If there is a constant with rescue dogs, it's change. Not just because of the lifestyle--dogs coming and going, new rescues, new adoptions--or because of their health issues--a liver enzyme acting up; an unheralded, and completely unreasonable, bout of diarrhea; sterilization complications--but because of the dogs themselves.

A dog that's taken in off the street has, suddenly, a lot to adapt to. A rescued dog is on the verge of transformation.

Who will he become? Will he remain fearful? Will he take over the pack? Will he be a mama's boy that doesn't leave his human's side unless compelled by chains and twenty-foot walls? Or will he find untapped sources of inner peace and become the zen master of the household?

Who a rescue dog is changes so fast.

This dog was surrendered to Tierra de Animales, a (wonderful) rescue organization in Cancún, México. She was in the car's trunk,  bound and blindfolded, because her owner said she was "vicious". She's certainly terrified--wouldn't you be, tied up and chocked into the trunk of a car on a hot day and taken who knows where? But not vicious.

This dog was lucky. She could've been abandoned out in the wild, tied to a tree, left to die. Instead, she came to a place without judgment, without labels. She'll be allowed to become whatever she wants to.

Oughtn't we to allow ourselves the same kindness? The same freedom?

If you do, if you dare, who will you become?

~ * ~

Thank you for stopping by, and happy A-to-Z-ing!
We're almost there!

Friday, April 25, 2014

View From Above (#atozchallenge)

Humans are taller than dogs. (Obviously, yes. But please bear with me.)

Unless you're a small child (or your dog is a 300-lb Great Dane), you stand at least three feet above your dog.

Which means you and your dog see different things.

Hey, human. How's it going up there?

I learned a lot from Brenda Aloff's Canine Body Language--more, probably, than I'll remember with any degree of effectiveness. But one thing that felt like a bucket of ice water on my head was this:

What happens at the dog's level often goes unnoticed at the human level.

Up here in Human Land it might look like two dogs are ignoring each other. But are they ignoring each other too hard? Maybe, down there in Dog World and out of (our) sight, the gauntlet is being thrown, tension is brewing, emotions are escalating. And when the growl or snap comes, human's all like, that came from nowhere!

No, it didn't. We just weren't looking.

Maybe there was a treat or a toy lying nearby, and one of the dogs wanted to claim it. Maybe one felt threatened by the other's size or demeanor. Maybe someone's space is being invaded. Maybe there's another dog approaching. Maybe the human is paying too much attention--or not enough--to one dog. Maybe--

Well. You get the idea.

Dog handlers need to train themselves to see these things. To step outside the human view and see the world from the dog's perspective. The things we consider important may not be important to them, and vice versa. Until we're able to see their world and the mechanics that rule it, we'll never understand them. We'll never be able to communicate properly.

And doesn't that apply to every relationship we have, canine or not?

~ * ~

Thanks for the visit, and happy A-to-Z-ing!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Us & Them (#atozchallenge)

I've had to stop taking all the dogs to the beach together, and I miss it. It was such a joy to watch them chase each other, splash into the water together, hunt in unison. Beautiful.

But unsafe.

Not when it was just the three of them--Panchita, Rusty, and Winter. If we ran into other dogs, they'd sniff a bit, Winter might get a bit snappy (she's short; Napoleon complex), but it never escalated. Same thing with people. None of my dogs like kids (they do say dogs resemble their owners...), but they behaved as long as the child didn't harass them. (And I made damn sure they didn't.)

Even when the puppies came. Puppies--they're 17 months now, but I guess they'll always be The Puppies to us. All seven of us (six of them, one of me) would walk the beaches like one big, friendly family.

And then they grew up.

Sometime around their 10-month birthday there was an incident. A couple of teenagers in a kayak got attacked. Sure, I told them to stop lunging with the oars at the dogs and they didn't listen, but in this world a dog is guilty until--no, no defense possible. A dog is guilty and stays guilty. Fortunately it wasn't even a scratch; no blood, no doctors.

But it taught me a powerful lesson.

In a pack, my dogs--my lovely, sweet, and wonderful dogs--become dangerous.

In a pack, accepting strangers--people or dogs--becomes impossible.

In a pack, all their little quirks of behavior that seem so manageable--or even harmless--at home become exacerbated, magnified, replicated like a mirror in a mirror.

They become a threat.*

Just like humans.

I'm not talking just about mobs (or soccer fans)--those are the ultimate extreme. Families, homeroom groups at school, neighborhoods, cities, countries, even continents: all of these give us a sense of identity. But in that very identity lies the problem. We define ourselves by differentiating from others.

There can be no Us without Them.

This behavior, the pack mentality, is so ingrained it probably resides in our lizard brain. Every animal has it; maybe even plants do. It's a matter of protecting resources, of survival; one can't just allow any dog to waltz in and take over our food, our human, our safety. Spontaneous generosity towards a stranger can be dangerous.

I get it. I do. We all need, in lesser or greater measure, a place to call home, a group to call our pack.

Strength lies in numbers, after all.

But I wonder. Can't we use it, this strength, for something other than division lines? 

Now I go to the beach with one, maybe two dogs. It's still Us, but I'm working on turning around that Us vs. Them into Us and Them.

It's a start.

* Note: Pack behavior that becomes a threat to others happens because of faulty leadership. Meaning me. My mistake, not theirs. I'm working on that, too.

~ * ~

Thanks for the visit, so sorry about the late post, and happy A-to-Z-ing!

(P.S. -- I will catch up on visits. There's so many great blogs I've discovered this April that I think I'll be busy until October reading everyone's A-to-Z posts.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tackled, Tangled, Torn (#atozchallenge)

I apologize.

I have no dog-wisdom (wis-dog?) for you today. Life's been hectic, yadda yadda--right. Like yours hasn't. And you managed to put up your T post.

(And I swore--swore--I'd pre-write all posts this year.)

I hope you can forgive me. I'll work on U.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sharing doesn't come naturally (#atozchallenge)

Those of you with kids know I'm right. A child's generosity, as cute as it might be when it happens, extends only until said child wants his toy back. It's only through training (okay, education) that we learn to share.

The instinct to protect resources is strong. Yep. In humans, too.

~ * ~

Thanks for the visit, and happy A-to-Z-ing!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

Image credit
El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.
(Respect for the rights of others is peace.)
~ Emiliano Zapata, Mexican hero

Nothing illustrates that better than a pack of dogs.

If you've read the rescue stories of my dogs, you know it took time and effort--and a lot of patience--to get them to respect each other. When she first came home, Winter stole food from everyone. So did Sasha II. And Romy. They paid the blood price once or twice, but that's not what made them stop.

Respect doesn't come easy. Respect is like love: you can't demand that someone love you. Demanding--whether whiny or aggressive--just breeds fear. And fear is not respect.

Think of the people you respect. Why do you? Because you're scared of them, or the consequences non-respect would bring? Or is it their achievements, their grace, the way they deal with hardship and sorrow?

~ * ~ 

Thanks for the visit, and happy A-to-Z-ing!

P.S. -- I'm over at Vidya Sury's marvelous blog today sharing a
Disney-ending, tear-jerker dog rescue story.
Would love to see you there :)