Silent Screams (and other odd sounds)

This is what I'm thinking RIGHT NOW. It may not be what I'm thinking tomorrow.


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Bully Buck Stops Here

As long as I can remember and probably longer than I’ve been alive, bullying has existed.  I’m pretty sure that bullying has touched each and every one of us whether we were the ones bullied or the ones doing the bullying.  Why now, after all these years, is it trendy to jump on the anti-bullying bandwagon?  Anti-bullying should have been a life lesson that parents taught their children by example.  We shouldn’t have to have an “anti-bullying” agenda now.

Recently I read a post called “The Continuing Tragedy of Dear Sweet Old Karen Klein” and while I may not agree 100% with the entire post (I agree with most of it however), I do agree with the underlying message that children will basically do what they see.  Children are blank slates waiting to be filled with all the wonders of the world, and the first wonder of the world  a child learns from is the parents.  If a child grows up with prejudice, hatred, anger, sarcasm and bullying; he will learn the same and see it as natural.  A child who grows up learning by example the life of a bully, will bully, and then we as adults cry out that “This bullying must stop!”  I agree, this bullying must stop but it doesn’t stop with the children, it stops with the parent first.

Growing up, I was the person who was bullied.  I was also the person who bullied.  Yes, I admit, I did some bullying back in the day – until my parents found out.  When I entered elementary school I never knew what it meant to be bullied until I was picked on for not having the right shoes, or the right hairstyle, or the trendiest dresses.  I learned from my some of my classmates that bullying was acceptable and even popular if you were doing it to the less fortunate than yourself; and so, I  picked on people who didn’t live up to my norm.  It wasn’t until my mother caught on to my bullying that she did a little bullying of her own.  What was her bullying?  Punishment pure and simple.  She didn’t like what I was doing.  She told me that “picking on other people” was wrong.  I was probably sent to my room (after a little swat to my behind)  to “think” about what I had said and how I would feel if someone said the same thing to me.  I know, a barbaric form of punishment!  I thought the same thing.  It  must have worked because I learned quickly that bullying just didn’t cut the mustard.  More importantly, bullying didn’t make me feel any better about me.

You see, in some ways, that’s the more important lesson.  The underlying cause of bullying is to make one feel better about oneself by lowering another.  Once I got that lesson, I realized that bullying was only a temporary gratification  but it never really changed how I thought about me.   I was still the same, and in some ways worse for how I treated others.  When it comes right down to it, it is all about me and how I can live with the things I do and don’t do. That is a parental lesson that should be taught to each and every child.  Each time I break someone else down, I break off a piece of myself; I am too valuable to lose all sorts of pieces.  If I keep chipping away at others misfortune or lack of beauty or lack of intelligence or lack of…..whatever, I have no time to look inside of myself to see exactly who I am and who I want to become.

There are no guarantees in life so I’m all about increasing the odds; and parents can increase or decrease the odds of what their children will or will not do.  If you want to increase the odds that your child won’t steal, don’t steal; if you want to increase the odds that your child won’t lie, don’t lie; if you want to increase the odds that your child won’t be verbally abusive, don’t be verbally abusive; and, you guessed it, if you don’t want your child to be a bully, don’t bully.  Let your adult actions influence your child and the children around you.

It was my responsibility to teach my children the life lessons I wanted them to know.  MY responsibility.  I could not count on the television to provide them with sound morals so there were times I had to turn off the TV and explain to them why I objected to a particular program.  I couldn’t trust the radio to teach them what was right and wrong so I listened to the music they listened to so I could discuss with them intelligently what I thought about the lyrics.  Part of my job as a parent was to be in tune with their likes and dislikes.  I think it’s called “active listening” now.

When my children were young, the “popular” thing to do was to go “hang out at the mall.”  I didn’t allow my kids to hang out at the mall and soon discovered from other parents what I was missing.  “I can’t believe you won’t let the kids go to the mall.  Just think, 6 whole hours to yourself!”  I would have loved 6 hours to myself to get my hair and nails done along with a pedicure and waxing but the cost was too great.  My children left alone in a mall with no real money to speak of and idle time?  No thank you.  To me, that was trouble just waiting to happen.  “But you let your children watch ‘R’ rated movies.  I don’t let my kids do that.”  Well darlin’, I’m there when they watch the movies and I can actually tell them the difference between reality and fantasy.  I wanted my children to grow up with the morals I thought they needed to have a happy, healthy life.  I didn’t want the television, the movies, the radio or other children teaching them things without letting me have an input; and for me to have an input I had to listen.

Back to topic.  Bullying is wrong.  I don’t like it.  I wish it would stop.  I don’t think television commercials will stop bullying.  I don’t think parents paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines because their children are bullies will help either.  In my humble opinion, you have to be an open book that you want your children to read.  They will learn more effectively by watching.  Children emulate their parents.  They play house, they play work, they play church, they play bully.  They play and eventually do what they see.

Both my children are adults now.  I have given them what I hope are the best life lessons that I could teach them.  It is up to them now.


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Living Without Faith

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This is Xander.

Xander is 10 years old. Xander has been Faith’s “brother” since we brought him home.  He and Faith were born a year apart.

Initially, Faith didn’t really care too much for Xander.  He was an intrusion into the household and to her lifestyle.  She was used to being the only “child” and now she had to share attention with this other canine.  Xander’s manly charms eventually won her over and they became best buddies.

Even though Xander was the man of the house, Faith was the boss.  Xander may have had the louder bark, but Faith was the dog that always set things in motion.  Xander wouldn’t think to bark unless Faith allowed him to do so.  It was Faith that did the commanding in the household; not only did she command Xander but the rest of us as well.  If Faith did not get her way she would refuse to “speak” or look at any of us.  Faith was the only animal I had ever encountered that could not be bribed by food.  No amount of her favorite food could coax her into becoming your friend again once she was ticked off.  If she were particularly mad, she would walk close enough to you to make you think you might be able to touch her only to dart away quickly leaving you looking rather foolish for even trying to pet her.

As Faith grew weaker over the years, Xander took up his pseudo role as boss dog.  The role seemed to be reversing and any stranger entering the house might have thought Xander was the dominant dog but if that same stranger stayed just a little while in our home they soon learned that Faith was still in command.  The smallest dog in the household was the largest life force.  Faith was the queen and all bowed down before her; even our Doberman when he finally became a part of the family.

The only time Xander didn’t listen to Faith was grooming day.  Faith didn’t really care for the groomers but Xander loved to get bathed, brushed and smelling good.  Xander thought he was so handsome on grooming day often strutting back and forth in front of the mirror to look at himself.  Faith, on the other hand, would rub her body against anything she could to get that nasty grooming smell of of her but before she could do that she had to escape Xander.    The groomer use to say she could put both dogs in one cage before grooming but she had to separate them afterwards because Xander would not leave Faith alone.  Once home from the groomers the torment was one.  Xander would chase Faith around the house just to ….  well, you know…and Faith wanted no part of that.  She’d eventually have to hide under a dresser where he was just a little too big to follow her.  The scene in my mind still makes me smile.

The bond between siblings is strong; even if those siblings are canine.  Xander now sits at one door or another waiting vigilantly for Faith to return.  He sits by the either door most of the day and night.  He sits, he doesn’t lay, and he cries.  He cries softly but he still cries.  Sometimes, I catch my father and Xander crying together.  Xander doesn’t know that his and my father’s beloved Faith is buried just beneath my father’s window, very close to the place she used slept under my father’s desk.

She is so close.  Her presence fills each and every room.  I can almost reach out and pet her….almost.

 


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Faith is Dead

It was the year 2000; the dawning of a new century, when my mother died in May.  It wasn’t a good time for any of us as we watched our matriarch take her last breath and our patriarch fall into a deep depression at our mother’s death.  It seemed that only gloom and doom was on the horizon.  In the year following my mother’s death, my family and I moved in with my father and the push was on to bring a puppy into the family.

My father didn’t want any part of a dog so resistance was high; but the push and tug of my youngest daughter at her grandfather’s heart string brought a new puppy to home.  Faith was born in 2001 to a 2 1/2 pound father and a 5 pound mother; both blue-blooded Yorkshire Terriers.  It didn’t really matter to us that Faith was born of royalty.  She was our puppy and we loved her at first site.

As Faith began to grow, my father’s depression lessened.  Faith had picked my father to be her “owner.”  She was his constant companion often times punishing him if he was gone too long or didn’t say hello to her first.  She had a cocky attitude and he loved it.  In my humble opinion, Faith was the sole reason my father came out of his depression and started to enjoy life.  My father cherished Faith.  She was his girl.  In fact, he called her “big girl” more than he called her Faith even though she was so tiny.

When Faith was three years old, she was out on our deck sunning herself as she liked to do.  She jumped up suddenly into my father’s arms and started to rub her head against his chest.  My father, sensing something was wrong called for me immediately.  It wasn’t but a few minutes later that Faith was in complete anaphylatic shock.  I scooped her up in my arms and raced to the vet’s office making it there in less than 9 minutes.  The vet cleared the office and took care of her; essentially bringing her back to life.  Faith had escaped death.

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Faith was a spitfire.  She didn’t like visitors and didn’t want anyone near my father.  Her little 5 pound body would attack anyone who entered his domain.  Slowly, the spitfire began to fizzle out and she started to lose weight.  She dropped down to 3 pounds but was still my father’s constant companion.  I took her to specialist after specialist and started her on all sorts of treatments but eventually I made the decision to stop those treatments that were painful to her and let her live a happy life.

She dropped to 2 1/2 pounds and then stabilized.  When I say stabilized I mean that she didn’t lose any more weight but she never gained any either.  If you picked her up to cuddle her every bone in her body could be felt.  She still followed my father everywhere.  Her head would always be craned upward to look at him so adoringly.  I often commented that the look she gave my father was one of complete love and devotion; a look only a hero is worthy to receive.

Faith ultimately took up residence under my father’s desk in his room.  She would bark at him when it was time to eat and she would bark at him when it was time to go to bed. My father would put Faith to bed and then wait until she was asleep to sneak back out of his room.  My father was completely devoted to his sweet companion.  In my father’s eyes, nothing was too good for Faith.  He fed her from his plate before he ate to make sure she got enough; dog food was way beneath her and my father catered to her every whim.

Recently, my family has been talking about taking a trip to see my father’s family in Puerto Rico.  I told my father I would not go without him.  He told me he would not leave Faith at a kennel because she is too fragile and he would just rather stay at home with her.  I agreed with him that Faith couldn’t go to a kennel because the vet had quit giving her her immunizations because of her weakened condition so kennels wouldn’t accept her so I told him that I could probably find someone to watch her.  He didn’t like the idea but when I told him my friend (who knows exactly how he feels about Faith) would watch her he said he’d entertain the idea.

Today, while my father was home alone with the dogs, Faith made, what my father said, was an odd sound and then quit moving.  He called my daughter and told her that he thought Faith was dead.  My daughter called me and I rushed home to see what was happening.  Faith had not died, but she was in the processes of doing so.  As I did after the bee sting, I scooped her up and rushed to the vet’s office; but this time my vet was closed and I had to hurry to another office.  They whisked Faith out of my arms only to return a few minutes later telling me she had “passed out.”  I saw how she was breathing.  I saw that she couldn’t lift her head or stand on her own feet.  She did not “pass out” she was actively dying.

They left Faith with me and I held her close.  My father left the exam room.  He couldn’t stay.  Faith and I were alone.   I sang to her.  I told her I loved her.  I thanked her for sharing her life with us and I thanked her for loving my father and bringing him out of his deep depression.  The vet, whom I had not seen before, came into the room and told me it was time for me to stop crying and do what was right.  He told me that it was time.  He said Faith was suffering and it wasn’t about me it was about the dog.

I wanted to punch him in the throat but he was right.  As much as I didn’t like his attitude, the situation was about Faith.  I understood that more than he did.  I told him I would not let her suffer.  I had promised Faith long ago that I would not let her suffer and I wasn’t about to go back on my promise to her now.  Her breathing was so labored and she couldn’t even hold her head up to look at me; I had to hold her head in my direction.

“Are you going to stay with her when we do this or are you going to leave?” the vet questioned.

“I’m not leaving her alone.”

He attempted several times to get the needle into her vein without success until he finally just delivered the deadly drug to her under her skin and told me it would take a little longer than the IV route.

I held her.  I sang to her.  I told her I loved her over and over again until she was gone.  My Faith is dead; but her memory will last a lifetime.  I love you Faith.


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You Treat Me Like a Dog!

I wish someone would treat me like a dog.  I look at my three dogs and think they have got to have the best life of anyone I know.  They get their hair done every 6 weeks.  They don’t have to shower every day but get bathed when they need it.  They don’t have to brush their own hair; someone else does that for them.  They get their ears scratched and their backs rubbed more in one day then I do in a year.  They get to run naked outside.  They get taken to their doctors at regular intervals and don’t have to worry about the bill. What more could anyone want?  Please, treat me like a dog!

One more thing.  Have you ever heard of a dog who had to clean up human poop?  I don’t think I have; but I have heard of many people cleaning up dog poop.  


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A Different Kind of Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day.  I’m pretty sure that there will be 10,258,265 blogs today that at least mention Father’s Day.  I’m also pretty sure that about 1 out of 3 families who have a living father will have a picnic or some other get together to celebrate Father’s Day.  I will be among the 33% of families who will celebrate with a picnic.

Today, as I was preparing food for the picnic my mind drifted back in time to when my daughters were 6 and 3.  I was sitting on a park bench at the softball fields watching my oldest daughter practice and my youngest daughter play with the other children in the dirt pile.  Halfway through the softball practice my husband arrives at the park and immediately my youngest daughter runs up to him gleefully calling, “Daddy, Daddy.”  In my mind’s eye he picked her up and twirled her around, but in reality I think he just picked her up to kiss her.  

Shortly after my husband’s arrival my oldest daughter runs in from the field to the park bench where I was sitting.  Nearly in tears she blurts out that the girl she was standing next to in the field told her that her sister and her could not have the same daddy and that one of them had a different dad.  My eldest daughter’s dark brown eyes were as big as saucers as she demanded to know, “Whose daddy is he?”

Since I really didn’t have a clue what the two children talked about in the field I was more than a little confused.  My oldest daughter’s heart was breaking before my eyes before I realized that she thought the man who she had called “daddy” over the last six years might not be her father.  After understanding her fear, I reassured her that the person she knew as “daddy” was indeed her father.  Slowly I saw the heartbreak leave her eyes and for a moment the air was light again.  Her head tilted to one side letting me know the wheels of her mind were spinning.  “Then who is my sister’s daddy?”  Once again I was lost.  What the heck was she talking about?  I could feel the tension mounting in her body once again as she wondered about her little sister’s paternity.  

Not having a clue what craziness had entered my daughter’s little head, I clasped her hand in mine and we went for a little walk to the end of the softball field so we could be alone.  We sat on the grass and I asked her to explain what in the world she was talking about.  There, at the edge of the softball field she explained to me that the little girl in the field had 6 brothers and sisters and they all had different dads.  The little girl explained to my daughter that kids could have the same mommy but they couldn’t have the same daddy.  

I sat for a brief moment not knowing what to say.  My daughter’s eyes were burrowing into mine waiting for a reply.  All I could do was hug her and re-assure her that her and her sister did share the same father.  Briefly, in a fleeting manor, I also explained that some children can have different fathers and different mothers but that didn’t mean that the person who lived with them didn’t love them just the same.  

I suppose she was happy with my answer because she smiled as she got up from the ground to join her friends at practice.  I watched as she ran to meet up with her friends.  My eyes first focused on my daughter and then on the little girl who told my daughter “her” facts of life.  

I think of that little girl often.  I wonder how her life is and has been.  I also wonder why I thought of her today on Father’s Day.

 


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What Part of “BEWARE OF DOG” Don’t You Understand?

I have a beautiful big red Doberman Pinscher who has been my constant companion for a little over 4 years.  Rory (which means Red King) is an European Doberman which means he’s a little bigger than an average Dobie.  Rory weighs in at 120 lbs.  His paw is so big that it takes up my entire hand, his chest and neck are massive.  I can confidently say that Rory is a very strong dogImage

This is a picture of my red king.  He looks adorable doesn’t he?  Image

Doberman Pinschers have some very unique qualities.  Dobie’s have been given the term “velcro dogs” because they do not want to be left alone.  Dobie’s like to be with their owners all the time; no matter where they go.  Yes, they will follow you into the bathroom and cry when you lock them out.  It’s pitiful but true.  Doberman’s are fiercely loyal.  The will protect their owner with all that is in them.  Generally, a Doberman will not give an intruder a warning.  They are known for letting someone “in” but not “out.”  A unique physical characteristic that Dobie’s possess is their bite.  Unlike most other dogs, a doberman’s teeth scissor together.  If you were to interlock your fingers, you would get a good idea of what a Doberman’s bite looks like.  A Doberman biting trait is that they bite and release, bite and release; each time moving closer and closer to vital parts of your body (like your neck).

All that being said; most Doberman’s are extremely gentle animals.  They are loving beasts and they love attention.  As big as they are, they are just as content sitting in your lap (if you let them) as they are running in a field.  They are inquisitive, bright and an absolute joy.  Dobie’s have a way of getting under your skin and into your heart before you know it.

My Dobie is a unique character.  As a puppy, he was the dominant dog of the puppy pact and a “Doberman Rescue Specialist” says he never learned bite inhibition.  He also has an extremely high pain threshold.  When puppies play together, they learn to playfully bite each other so they learn that biting hurts and it shouldn’t be used often.  The Dobie Specialist theorizes that my dog didn’t get bit much because his bite was worse than the other dogs thus making the other dogs less apt to “teach him a lesson” by biting.  Who knows, maybe the other pups wouldn’t let him join in any reindeer games and he just got ticked off.  Either way, the combination of not much of a bite inhibition and a high pain threshold makes for one “bad ass dog.”

I know my sweet red canine friend would rather eat your hands off then have you touch me so I feel it is my responsibility to keep the public at large safe.  When I walk Rory in public, which isn’t often, he wears a muzzle.  When I take him to the vet’s office, I make sure it is the end of the day so that there aren’t as many animals or people in the office.  I am hyper vigilant at all times when people that Rory is not used to are around.  I have a dog who isn’t friendly.  I know it.  I love him just the same; but I do have to take responsibility for his actions.

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I have a fence that surrounds my entire house.  My dog is able to roam freely inside the fence.  There are three gates to the fence each posting a sign similar to the one above.  Each entrance to my house clearly states that the dog who lives in the house is not friendly.  Personally, I think the message can’t be any more clear.  Image

So, when you see a fence with a sign at each gate clearly stating that is isn’t wise to come inside……WHY DO YOU COME INSIDE?

Did I mention…Dobies are really fast?????