Who Saved Who?

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Each year, approximately 2,700,000 dogs are euthanized in the United States. That is 7,397 each day, 308 every hour. Five dogs, every minute of every single day…approximately speaking. It is our duty to save those who we can, those of us who are willing anyway.

This is a story about a rescue.

When my wife called me from the animal shelter, it was not unexpected. It was not the first such call I had ever received. You see,  my wife has a large heart – none more so than for animals in need. I was at work (naturally) and she was in tears.

“They don’t even have names,” she said through quiet sobs. I could hear the cacophony of barks and chirps in the background, I knew what was coming, but I asked anyway.

“Who? What are you talking about?”

“The puppies, they don’t even have names, only numbers.”

I could hear her mind cranking out the reasoning for bringing home yet another four-legged family member. My son had been born only three months earlier, but while we were at the hospital our dogs disappeared through a hole they dug beneath the fence.

Keeping with my usual response to conversations of this nature, I said what I always do. “There is no way we are getting another dog. Turner is only three months old. We have enough going on right now. Let’s wait a while before we add to the burden, okay?”

If you have never met my wife, there is something you should know: when she decides on a plan of action, there is nothing you can do to stop her. She is like a force of nature; a flood that has broken the levee knocking down everything in its path. This day was no different.

“He is too. He’s only a baby, the same age as Turner. There was a litter of nine pups left here – most of them have homes already. The only ones left are number four, number two, and number six. We have to babe, they don’t even have names!”

By this point, you should know something about me: I tend to cave when my wife wants something bad enough, even if I don’t think it a good idea. I knew it was useless.

“So,” I said in a defeated tone, “which one is it then?”

“Number six, he is a little cinnamon bun. They say he is a Labrador mix, but I’m not sure about that. He has the sweetest face, aww you will love him, but what should we call him?”

“Why not six? We have had at least that many dogs, and besides, he’s just a number to me anyway.”

I was joking, but only a little. We had, up until this point had bad luck with dogs. Luna was aggressive, Koda was a hippie who refused to live at home, Joe killed a cat in my daughter’s arms. I was beginning to think we were not cut out for dog life.

When I got home he was at the door, a small gangly mass of legs and ears. His feet were the biggest I had ever seen on a pup, but she was right – I did love him, though I told no one right away. I squatted down to scratch behind his ears and in my best baby talk voice I said, “who’s just a number? Who is it? Yes, you are six, such a good little shit head. Good little shit factory.”

Megan scowled at me but didn’t comment. She had won, and Six was, for better or worse, our dog.

Immediately, Kaylee started to bond with him, and before long he was her nightly bed companion. That was fine, I didn’t want a dog anyway. At least, that is what I kept saying. But he had already started working his way into my heart, and resistance was futile.

The years passed, and Six grew, and grew, and grew topping out at over 100 pounds, and able to look my teenage daughter (nearly six feet tall herself) right in the eye when he stood with his paws on her shoulders.  Lab mix my ass, more like giraffe mix. The dog was huge.

Every year, we celebrated his birthday with our son. Their birthdays were nearly the same, so with time they became the same day. This ritual continued for seven years.

Over the course of a few months, we noticed a sore on Six’s hind leg, a reddish, roundish sore that appeared to be a hotspot. Dog sometimes get them from worrying the same place with their teeth too much. We treated it as we normally would and thought little of it.

One morning, Megan gave him his food as normal, but he didn’t get up to eat. He had always been a lazy dog, so it was no cause for concern. By evening he still hadn’t moved and the “hotspot” was bigger and more inflamed than ever. We had to haul him bodily to the truck in his blanket, all 100 plus pounds of him. He didn’t resist.

When the vet told us it was cancer, it didn’t feel real. He was only seven years old, he had many years ahead. When the vet told us he only had a few months to live, it wasn’t real. It was like being told one of your children had a terminal disease. Someone else’s dog, someone else’s life, not mine.

With medication, we borrowed time, but his suffering was obvious. No one, human or animal deserves to suffer for the benefit of those he will leave behind. So we did what any good family would do: we said goodbye.

While on his medication, he was ambulatory, and we took that time to tell him we loved him. We gave him steak, and dog ice cream. Kaylee snuggled him close in their bed, which had long since been queen-sized to accommodate the two of them. In short, we enjoyed what time we could borrow.

That last day was surreal; someone else’s life seen through my eyes. We bought him a bacon cheeseburger – the last meal of a condemned innocent. We walked him in the grass. We cried.

The last thing I said to him before the drug took effect was, “I love you.” The last thing he saw was the faces of his family; felt us holding him close.

I never thought such a big part of my heart could be held by an animal, one I didn’t want no less, but it was. Turns out he wasn’t just a number to me after all. He was the face that I saw first when I walked in the door each day. The one who saw us through our darkest days. He was a friend and protector for our children, the best friend any of us could have hoped for.

Save a life. Take a chance on an animal who hasn’t got one. It may turn out you are not only saving them, but they may be saving you.

Work

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So there have been a few dreams and aspirations floating around in my head over the years. I have tried on for size more careers than many and less than few. Why do I bring this up, you ask? It is on my mind, and the first thing I have felt interested in writing in a while (all writing efforts, you see, are spent in rewriting at present) and like counting lovers, until you put them down on paper, it is hard to see fully.

I’ve been a cook, a housekeeper, delivery driver, and an aid. A body piercer, health care technician, a singer and a drunk. I have built mountains out of cases of beer, and later, convinced folks that they needed mountains of beer so others could build them.

Slinging booze, both Behind and in front of the bar held my interest for a long time; a good time to say the least, but not good enough. The marketing director, an events coordinator, a retail manager, and a dad.  The latter, probably the most rewarding of them all.

An essayist, then an airer of dirty laundry. I’ve driven big trucks, and trucks that were not so big. the open road, sunrise to sunset. I’m a novelist; the writer of a book no one has ever yet read, and still I search for that thing that will make work more like play.

I am on the cusp of two degrees, completely unrelated of course, and yet I search. I’ve realized recently that it isn’t the job that will make me happy, but the search. You see, for me it is having a dream that makes it exciting to wake up in the morning.  I’m in love with the process of becoming.

After reading through this short admission of successes and failures, I realize one thing:

I want to be the Dos Equis guy. The most interesting man in the world.

Everyday, People

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I think that the analogy, ‘there is two sides to every coin’ is a dumb one. Making a statement like this insinuates that everything is black and white, right and wrong, up and down, kale shakes and cupcakes. This omits the most fascinating part of being alive: the many shades of gray that color interpretation of events.

I may look at someone and say they are an asshole, while that same person maybe the sun in your sky. I dislike brussel sprouts, you may think they are the bees knees. See what I’m saying? Interpretation is key, and there is no color code. You decide for yourself, coins be damned. It is less like a flipped coin, and more like the polls on a magnetic ball. Some degree of positivity and negativity shape everything, in many different directions.

Some days I am a good person with a dash of dick, others I am a dick trying to be a good person. Some days a junkie wants to be clean, and other days a preacher wishes he was a junkie.

We are all insane, the only difference is the degrees and duration of our sanity. Think about that the next time you get cut off in traffic, or when you are about to snap at your child. Without these tests in our lives, we would be caricatures of people – bright colored and without substance. Have a nice day assholes.

Data Rich

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I, my friends, I am wealthy with audio books. My collection has taken a long time to get accumulate, and is almost as large as the physical book collection in our house. I’m dancing in circles, my head to the sky beneath a rain of ones and zeros, a digital downpour of audio performances of some of the great, and most of the not so great books in history. I enjoy audio books when I do not have time to read, when podcasts become boring, and when I have miles and miles to go before I’m home.

I’m editing right now, when I get a chance anyway, you see it’s hard to edit a book written on the road when you spend so little time in front of your computer. The brilliance of others is my daily sanctuary.

I guess you can say that my first manuscript is mostly done. So what does that make me? Have I crossed oved that magical threshold that makes me an author? Who am I kidding, the word is semantics, and you are what you say you are. There is no right of passage to becoming, save for one: writing a book, which for all intensive purposes, I have nearly done.

I am so glad I stopped giving it away as it was being written – the book i mean. Not only have I changed the story by a wide margin, but even the name is different. I am calling it The Pusher. Vague, right? What a learning experience this has been, and here I thought I was a writer. It truly is a craft that one never masters.

#Mothers

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The thing about Mothers is, they hold all the cards. They are the bullet train that speeds this species into the future. Giving of their bodies a gift that I can only be in awe of; sacrificing those bodies to propel us on. The thing about Mothers is – they do it willingly.

You need support? Call your mom. You need a sandwich and a ride from the police station at 2 a.m.? She’ll be there if she can. Moms are good like that. My mom would do anything for me, I have no doubt.

She gave me life, made me who I am, loved me unconditionally my whole life, and still feels like she owes me something she doesn’t have. Mom, the debt, such as it is (or in this case, never was) was paid.

Some moms, mine included are troubled that way. They think some penance must be paid for some vague wrong they think they did, but the truth is, the love is enough. It always was.

Yes, I am talking to you.

Both of you – all of you who feel you don’t deserve the joy of life, of tickle fights and snuggling after the sun comes up – all you have to do is reach out, your kids want you there.

If you cannot, I am sorry. If your mother isn’t coming back, I feel your pain.

Tell her your love her anyway, she will know. Mother’s can do it, if anyone can. If there is an afterlife, leave it to a mother to breach that gulf for the love of her children. So, let her know too.

I am surrounded by mothers. They are beautiful, and they are strong. I am proud to know you all. To the mothers who gave me life and gave me children, nieces and nephews: thank you for showing me, and the little ones what love is supposed to look like. No one does it better than you.

If you miss your mother today, try to love in her honor. I know she would want it that way.

Fear & Self-loathing In Laughlin

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2 o’clock in the morning is not a time, 2 o’clock in the morning is an event. Scratch that, if you are awake until 2 o’clock in the morning it is a time, but if you are walking by a rancid sounding alarm clock at 2 o’clock in the morning it is an event. I hate 2 o’clock in the morning, as an event that is. At times I hate myself. It’s not all the time, mind you, but it does happen. Most of the time “I” I most associate with, the “Game Day” I, is a pretty great dude, but that opposite, less “I” me, the “Dumped On Your Birthday” I is insufferable to be around. No, I didn’t get dumped on my birthday – keep up, it gets better. Anyway, I (Game Day I)say all of this because I am just returning from a vacation from my life.

It was not pretty.

I am gone a lot, from home I mean. It forces me to think, to face myself alone every day. It is my life’s typical state…I spend 60-80 hours or more of my 70-80 waking hours in four wheel solitary confinement.

No self-loathing or any of that, just laying it out for you; putting it in context for later use.

Usually, I take a week or so to come out of my funk and face the world as game day me. Most of the time I just pretend, when I am not actually on. This time though, it was like flipping a switch. No – more like turning on a flashlight – bright and focused.

I am not going to lie though, this was a rough one. I had some lows that felt like the bottom of a coffee can, which as you know is the ninth circle of hell – a life sans coffee. I try desperately not to take out my morose self-loathing on my family, who is always wonderful about it, but it still slips from time to time.

When I get this way – hopeless, listless and generally depressed, solitude is prison sentence. As of this moment, I am not suffering from the death throws of these dark sensations. This is only sharing, so save the wordy heart felt emails for another time, thanks.

I feel, for one reason or another, that after any significant absence from Facets, that I owe you an explanation. Funny, that – it is my life that revolves around these words I write, not yours, yet I feel like I owe an explanation anyway. So there it is, and I may even be back to expand on it some more…or not.

A Brief Study Of ADHD & My Kid

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My son is a typical 7 year old boy. He likes to run, he loves his cat, and he has a very, very, short attention span. Like one of those tiny buzzing insects, he zips from one thing to another, not listening, not worried about anything unless he catches sight of something shiny.

A doctor once told us he was most definitely ADHD. Most definitely were the words she used, and since, it has been the filter through which I see him. Not always though – I do not stand around and scrutinize my 7 year old for being hyper, but it does happen.

In this, the age of modern science, the solution should be easy right? Just give the kids a healthy dose of Adderall, and call it a day. For my wife and me, this is simply not an option. Not to say that if your child is on medication to combat ADHD that you are a bad parent, it just isn’t something that we can do. The reaction in my wife, when this option was propose by said doctor, was visceral. ” There is no way in hell,” she said,  her eyebrows furrowed in that adorable way that they do when she’s angry.

That was that. There was no way our child will be medicated. Period.

Since then, we have done all that we can to keep that from happening. With a school system that is very Pro-medication, it can be tough. To keep from this fate, we started digging. Hopefully what we have found will help, if you too want to help a child in your life without medication.

According to the Mayo Clinic, ADHD is defined as, “…Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age.”

As much a word salad as this may be, it does not answer any questions, only making sweeping generalizations about the condition. To find the cause for my son’s condition — no, that is not the right word. My son is not sick, this is not a disease. He merely has trouble focusing at times. You see how this whole thing works? We are lead to believe that something is wrong with our children. The fact is, ADHD is not a sickness, it is not a condition. It is more like a predisposition for hyperactivity. That last part, by the way, was pure opinion. Don’t get all huffy…

Still bothered by the lack of actual definition of this “condition,” I continued my search. The DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Version) which is the psychological tool used to diagnose mental conditions. It packages into a neat package, the set of conditions to be met in order to be considered to have ADHD. They are as follows:

1. Inattention:

-Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.

-Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.

-Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.

-Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).

-Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
-Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).

-Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful in daily activities.

2.Hyperactivity and Impulsivity:

-Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.

-Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.

-Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).

-Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.

-Often talks excessively.

-Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.

-Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

I am no psychology savant or anything, but all of these, I mean all of these sound like  normal childish outbursts, behaviors, et cetera. Children are not neat descriptions in a manual. My child does A LOT of things often. It is one of the reasons I adore him. Again, not broken, just distracted.

There is more to the before mentioned definition, but you get the idea. This is not a study on what psychologist think. We need a solution, and fast, not a diagnosis. For my family it is less the issue hyperactivity than it is the frustration and anger he has. It is not fair to him, or us. Sometimes I see his heart breaking in his eyes and it is worse than any emotion I have ever felt for myself.

The body, being a chemical engine, processes micronutrients, endogenous drugs, vitamins, and minerals to create fuel for the body as a functioning organism. We, in my house, believe that most ailments can be treated by the adjustment of these factors, so it was with that in mind that our research on diet to treat ADHD began. The following is a list of suggestions.

1. The right diet

Keep healthy fats and protein, green vegetables, and WATER as a primary source of nutrients. Gluten-based processed foods and sugar are your enemy for not only hyperactivity, but focus in the long term as well.

2. Exercise

An active kids is a happy kid. Keep your energetic, enthusiastic, exasperating child busy with what ever makes them smile. You really can do no wrong here, as long as they are happy. Sports, riding bikes, swimming, nothing is off the table. Well except for possibly sword fighting, or bull fighting.

3. Sleep

Kids (and their parents) need adequate sleep. The normal schedule of sleeping and waking is called your circadian rhythm. It is important for both physical and mental health. According to mentalhealth.org in an article titled Sleep Matters: The Impact Of Sleep On Health And Wellbeing, sleep has a bearing on everything from cognitive function, to digestion. I could quote the thing, but I recommend just reading it yourself.

4. Vitamins

This is a big one we are just delving in to. Vitamins, are the micronutrients necessary for healthy brain function and biological homeostasis. We were looking for a vitamin that could possibly help our child, feeling ad we do that some nutritional deficit (and the above rambling) were part of the issue. We found a vitamin that comes well regarded called On Task. I will keep you posted on how well it works, but the vitamin combination is as follows:

zinc (15-35 mg/d), magnesium (150-350 mg/d), pyridoxine hydrochlorid (vitamin B6) (30-70 mg/d) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) (150-250 mg/d).

This vitamin and mineral combination show a measurable improvement in studies conducted, so I am eager to see what results we discover.

5. Patience

Nobody likes being yelled at, especially a kid who may not even realize they are behaving badly. My little buddy sometimes doesn’t even know I am talking to him. I get frustrated, he gets frustrated, nobody wins. Try this instead of yelling: take a breath, remind yourself that the screaming ball on the ground is your child, and you love them, and then act accordingly.

There you have it. This is what we know so far. Sometimes times are tough, but I love my kid, exactly as is. Time will tell if these measures will do the trick. Remember: don’t try to sell your hyperactive child. You will miss them too badly. Your child, my child, they deserve the best chance at happiness that we can give. They are worth it.

http://ontasknaturally.com

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adhd/basics/definition/con-20023647

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/sleep-report/