Tag: Dogs

Our Best Friends

Our Best Friends

A while ago I posted a photograph of my dog, Buddy, on my FaceBook page and asked people to post photos of their dogs in the comments. I can’t remember feeling so good about a social media experience in a very long time.

Buddy is a deep-thinker. He’s always trying to figure out how to catch squirrels…jet pack? Parachute? Springs on his feet? Wings?

Friends I have known and others I’ve met only through social media shared images of their beloved canines and it made me smile all day long as I checked back and saw more dogs smiling back at me. Meeting their four-legged friends helped me know my human friends better.

I tell everyone who asks about my amazing dog Buddy that he is my very best friend. And it’s true. He is my faithful porch yoga pal…while his cat daughter bites my ankles during warrior three pose. He is faithful to me even if I’m in a bad mood or feel crappy. He always wags his tail and smiles at me when I am discombobulated. He has never let me down or formed judgments about me…and that’s not the case with the two-legged brand of friends sometimes.

In the social media post I suggested we send lots of love to our canine friends and I felt the love in a big way. It poured out onto the page. So I decided to create a collage of all the images and send it out to the bigger world of blog-land.

If you don’t have a dog, I’m sorry. They are the absolute best friends humans could ever want. My cat Tawanda doesn’t agree but then she rarely agrees with anything I say.

The Deep Peace of Buddy

The Deep Peace of Buddy

It’s 5am. A faint, short, hum calls me from sleep. He’s standing on the other side of the door asking to go outside. Upon return begins Buddy’s favorite part of the day…snoozing with mama and cat sis.

Generally I write or read while Buddy and Tawanda sleep their early-morning sleep but this day I decide to turn off the lamp and close my eyes, too.

One hand on Buddy, the other on his kitten…surrounded by furry love…I drift in the ethers. As a practitioner of energy work and an intuitive, sensing energy is a familiar experience. But what I experience next is amazing.

In the quiet and stillness Buddy’s energy can be fully experienced. He takes me to a place of perfect balance and grounding. I sense vast space yet containment. He is solid yet open and dynamic. Different that the goofy dog boy he usually shows me.

In these moments he takes me to his center and shows me the depth of calm that resides there. Respect and understanding of what animals bring to humans grows and I am changed by knowing the deep peace of Buddy.

Who Rescues Who?

Who Rescues Who?

For social media friends, you already know about my new friend Little Queen Tawanda. She was barely four weeks old and was dumped, along with four siblings, on a lonely, deserted road at a swamp near my mom’s home. It has been over six weeks since the litter was rescued and Little T is doing quite well and ruling the house.

It’s not that I was looking to add to the circus that is my home. In fact, two days before my mom called me in panic about the helpless, precious babies I stated out loud…”Old Gracie cat will be journeying on soon and I’ll be down to one dog and two cats….that’s more manageable.”

Oh, be careful what you say out loud!

My neighbor was fostering the crew and went out of town so I took over feeding, scooping poop and playing with the kittens. Little T claimed me…dammit! I would sit on the floor and play and observe while foster mom was away and Tawanda–the wildest, craziest, ring-leader baby–would break from her shenanigans to claim my lap. NO! Surely not, I thought. I can’t adopt another animal. But long ago I learned when an animal claims me, there really isn’t an option except to surrender.

I haven’t had a kitten in a very long time….decades… I usually adopt older cats who generally have a more difficult time finding homes. I kept her separated from Buddy dog and the three adults cats for a while in my bedroom and bathroom….and quite honestly I thought I had lost my freaking mind.

It was a time when something funky must have been going on astrologically because I already had a lot of past stuff resurfacing. Adding a tiny kitten to the mix of my life was like throwing gasoline on an already-hot fire of emotional disturbance. But now, six weeks after adopting her, I see what a true teacher she is for me.

Her name–Tawanda–comes from the Fried Green Tomatoes character of Kathy Bates….it was actually her alter ego. She was a middle-aged woman stuck in life and when she transformed into Tawanda she kicked ass…rammed the car of a young woman who stole her parking space, took a sledge hammer to a wall because she needed more light. Tawanda took no crap off of anyone from the moment she stepped into the house. My baby T is just like that and she’s teaching me to stand up and move forward out of the stuck place I’ve been for the last five years.

Every rescued animal seems to have an extra-special gift they bring to the world. They have seen hard times and made it though to the other side….and Little T lays here in my lap, running in her dream as I write.

My other kids have their own, unique stories. Buddy was a sick puppy living in the back of a pickup truck. He was rescued by friends of mine that work with a rescue organization. I saw him on Facebook in my friend’s lap and knew he was my boy. He is named after the main character in the movie Elf. Buddy Hobbs is SO JOYFUL! I’ve never met a dog that is so happy and happy to meet everyone…except squirrels. He despises squirrels with a vengeance.

Willie Fay was zip-tied along with two other cats on to the railing at Dyke’s Vet Clinic. One of the cats died from the trauma. My mom saw her there when she was healed and up for adoption and alerted me to her specialness. She still doesn’t like to be held tightly but is an amazingly smart kitty. Willie was named after the group Willie Sugarcapps because it was the only music that calmed her when she was adjusting to her new home here.  Her middle name is my mom’s middle name.

Stanley was a rescue from North Carolina. He was owned by a college student who named him Chow Mien. The reference to eating cats wasn’t lost on me so I renamed him Stanley Kubrick. The student left school and left Stanley with a roommate that didn’t want him and he was turned into the shelter.

Gracie Sue was originally named Silver because of her silver feet. She’s part Himalayan or Persian with thick fur, gray with faded orange spots and intense blue eyes. She had been adopted twice and returned because she was shy and hid. I gave her the option to come home with me if she’d come sit in my lap at the adoption center. The foster mom in North Carolina said she didn’t come to people but when I offered a home to her, she came and sat in my lap. So there.

Each of these special friends has a story and much of their stories I’ll never know. They came to me as animals in need and became my friends. Even shy Gracie, who most likely is a little ‘mental,’ has taught me how to love when little is given in return. I give her permission to be herself, hide under the bed, be aloof. It’s okay.

It’s not always easy to be mom to so many critters. It’s expensive to feed them, vet them and when I travel to have someone come stay with them but they give me so much in return. I can’t imagine how lonely I would be if I didn’t have this family of precious four-leggeds keeping me company, forcing me to engage every day with life. And much of the time filling my heart with so much love.

It’s right to contemplate the question….Who rescues who? Every animal that has been in my life has taught me so much about myself and for that I am deeply grateful.

Being Present with the Wind

Being Present with the Wind

photo 7I was standing in front of the mirror completing the process of getting ready to leave when I glanced down the hallway. Ollie and Burton sat side-by-side looking at me. Their eyes were intensely focused, watching every move I made. They looked concerned and anxious.

A few tears moistened my eyes as I stopped drying my hair and connected with them. “I’ll miss you guys, too.” While I enjoyed my visit with my daughter and her husband immensely, the interactions between the furry boys with Em and Kev, with each other and with me enriched my visit immeasurably.

Earlier that morning, after their ‘parents’ left for work, I put Burton’s harness on and took him for a long walk…three laps around the neighborhood. During my stay I took him in the back yard just to stand and smell the interesting smells from the woods across the road, the wet ditch smells and the infinite variety of scents wafting from far away places. It wasn’t a potty break for him…we connected through our desire to simply stand in the breeze and feel it, smell its richness. With no agenda except being present with the wind. Ollie and I had another way of connecting.

photo 8Ollie is the elder of their home and the years are showing on his body. So this orange tabby boy and I would sit together as I laid my hands on his soft fur and offered Reiki (a form of energy healing) to him. We sat for long periods of time, connected by love and deep calm. Aging animal companions hold a special place in my heart so being with this star-player-of-epic-midnight-soccer-games-with-unseen-opponents was very precious.

photo 3It’s so easy to be with animals, to form friendships and offer love. What’s more difficult, at times, is to discern what they want or need and how we can provide it for them. I see them look at us with bewilderment that we cannot decipher what they are clearly communicating. We are not a species aware of nuances and non-verbal communication. Much of our instinctual abilities have faded as language developed.

photo 5For a treat, take a moment to see the world…to experience the world…through the eyes or nose of your animal companion. Feel the world open as your instincts and senses awaken. Allow everything else to fade and simply be present with your friend, be present with the wind.


For the Love of Animals

For the Love of Animals

Stanley and Simone
Stanley and me

I grew up having tea time with my friend Bridget, a beagle. Our ‘cake’ was Bridget’s biscuits. Milkbone makes a very good tea cake…in case you are wondering.

Stanley Kubrick, my current orange tabby friend
Stanley Kubrick, my current orange tabby friend
Gracie, my darling queen of the manor cat friend
Gracie, my darling queen of the manor cat friend

My best friends have always been four-legged. Their unconditional love, acceptance and loyalty have been, without a doubt, vital to my happiness. It started with Bridget and then there were others…Freckles, Sarge, Inka, Jake, Pete, Ben, Jessie, Uriel, Stacey, Angie…and the cats Hazel, Maya and Maat and others that left too soon. And Yokie, Gracie and Stanley.

Tommy with my three year old daughter and me...1988-ish.
Tommy with my three year old daughter and me…1988-ish.

When I was 13 or so bigger four-leggeds came into my life…’D’ and Tommy (Tomahawk Red). Tommy and I participated in horse shows and my relationship with him was my most important teenage friendship. A short story I wrote about our relationship was published in WNC Woman and it remains one of my favorites.

My manatee friend...our story is in another blog post from January 2013
My manatee friend…our story is in another blog post from January 2013

Over the past several years there have been wild animals that became my friend in a moment, from first contact, and that heart-felt relationship has lasted for years..the memories still precious. Those would be manatees…flippered-ones.

Henry Flager, my salty sister Renee and her husband Hans' wild boy.
Henry Flager, my salty sister Renee and her husband Hans’ wild boy.

People that make room in their hearts for animals are worthy of their love, of that there’s no doubt. When we commit to a relationship with an animal, be it one that lives with us or a wild animal whose cause we champion, we make an expression of love and compassion. You, my friend, are worth caring for. You are worth the energy it takes to keep you well. Why is it so difficult to maintain human relationships when we do this so easily with animals? It remains a mystery to me.

Sambeaux, my mom's lab
Sambeaux, my mom’s lab

To all the animal companions I have known as my own ‘child’ or as friends in the wild or in other’s lives, I say THANK YOU! You make life wonderful!

Abbey, my friend's Phyliss and Bob's companion
Abbey, my friend’s Phyliss and Bob’s companion
Ollie, my daughter's companion
Ollie, my daughter’s and her fiance’s companion
Yokie, my true friend of many years...RIP buddy
Yokie, my true friend of many years…RIP buddy