Dear Santa…

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s that time of year again – the time that I write you a letter. I’ve been doing this for as long as I could read and write…do you remember?

When I was little, my mother served as your elf, writing my name in glitter on packages signed from you, and once, even leaving a trail of red construction paper footprints leading from my bedroom to the back of the couch, where the stockings were hung (we didn’t have a fireplace).

It’s because of her that I’ve managed to retain the ability to suspend belief, to find the bubble of magical delight that exists deep inside all of us, and to send it forth, sharing it with the world through words – essays and stories and songs – and yet, I never write these letters to my mother, Santa. I write them to you.

I don’t have a long list of “I wants” this year, Santa. Oh, there are tons of things I’d like to have – like the hoodie designed to look like a Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform, and this set of mugs I really like, but those aren’t things I need.

Other people, though, have real needs, so if you could transfer whatever allotment of North Polar magic I’m due to them, I’d really appreciate it. I even have some ideas:

I’m fostering two pit bull mixes right now, Santa. Madison is a two-year-old spayed female, and she’s as sweet as can be, though she prefers to not be around other female dogs, or any cats. Marco is a male puppy, who was born in a shelter and lived his whole life there, until he came to stay with me a week or so ago. I’d love for them to find forever homes with people who will love them as much as I do, but they’re safe for now.

More than that, I’d like for there to never be an unwanted puppy or kitten in the world. I’d like breeding mills and fighting rings to become things of the past. I’d like it if senior pets were either taken care of until they died naturally, or eased out of the world in the arms of the people who loved them.

I had a whole page and a half of other things to discuss, Santa, but I deleted it because I realized I was using my letter to you as a soapbox, and that wasn’t my intent.

And really, everything I wanted to talk about, even the animal issues I’ve already discussed, boils down to one thing:


COMPASSION

Compassion for each other, compassion for ourselves, compassion for the animals in our care, and those who exist in the wild, and compassion for this planet we call home.

We’re not, as a race, being very good stewards of the Earth or of each other. We’ve become cold and callous, embracing a “me first” attitude that is more than a little unpleasant.

It will be the end of us, Santa.

Already, friends and family members cease communications because they disagree with something they see in social media.
Our government representatives don’t cooperate with each other, and are smug about their non-cooperation.

It’s really sad.

And really scary.

So, Santa, please, bring us all a box of compassion this year. You can make my parcel a bit smaller than some, maybe a tiny bit larger than others, and I promise to share it, because the whole point of compassion, is that you do extend it to others.

I know in the past I’ve asked you for other intangible gifts. Love, generosity, patience – those are all things we still need in massive amounts.

But they come within the guise of compassion.

So, thanks, Santa, for listening, and considering my request this year. I wanted you to know that I’m completely over the whole wanting-a-pony thing. I mean, I have two huge dogs who are roughly the size of ponies already, and it costs a small fortune to feed and vet them. (Not that I would trade them for anything.)

But, if there’s a little extra Christmas magic, maybe whisper in the ear of my muse? My writing has been kind of hit-or-miss this year, and I could use some extra help.

Okay, extra help and the Star Trek: The Next Generation hoodie. In command red. Because even though Data was my favorite character, ops yellow makes me look sallow.

Image Credit: The Messy Desk of Santa Claus

The Love/Hate of Holiday Rescue Memes

Homeless Pooch

I’m not using a cute Santa picture tonight, even though my collection probably seems endless to people who don’t know me (and possibly to a few who do). Instead, I want to draw your attention to the photo in this post. I stole it from Facebook, and I think it’s lovely. A hopeful dog face, a Santa hat, a wistful wish for a home.

As an animal lover, a dog person, the human “mother” to three fur-kids and foster-mom to a fourth (not including my own former pets who have gone to the rainbow bridge, and the other fosters who have passed through my home, usually to forever homes of their own), this image makes me want to adopt one more, or hug my own pups super tightly, or buy bones for the entire shelter.

But, as an animal lover, a dog person, etc., it also makes me a little bit angry, for two distinct reasons.

First, it makes those of us who work in rescue sound like hypocrites.

On the one hand, we’re urging people to adopt homeless dogs and cats so they won’t have to be stuck in shelters, or worse, in line for euthanization, over the holidays, holidays, I might add, that they neither understand nor appreciate.

On the other hand, we’re reminding people left and right that puppies and kittens should never be adopted, purchased, or otherwise acquired as gifts. We know, of course, that there’s a difference between parents bringing home a longed-for puppy or kitten, or adult dog or cat, on Christmas Eve, and people buying or adopting animals for other people (boyfriends, girlfriends, etc.) but it’s still a mixed message, especially since every reputable trainer will tell you that the best time to add a pet to your home is when your life is at its most normal, most mundane – a time the holidays are most assuredly NOT.

The other reason I hate images like this is the same reason I dislike the annual holiday drives to remember homeless people, children in need, or soldiers who are deployed overseas. It’s not that I don’t believe these people should be remembered or cared for. I’m a strong believer in supporting those in need (whether it’s emotional or physical need), and my tax returns will prove it.

It’s that we seem to think of them ONLY at the holidays. But what about in January, when our goodwill has been replaced by the grudging return to work and school? What about in July when the summer sun is baking those homeless people?

It’s the same with shelter pets. Of course I don’t want any animal to spend winter in a kennel without a family of his or her own, but that need doesn’t end when the holidays do. It’s ongoing. It will continue to exist as long as we humans refuse to spay and neuter our pets, as long as we purchase pets from retail stores, as long as we treat them as disposable objects to be cast off when they are old, or ill, or grow too big to be ‘cute,’ or become bored, destructive, or aggressive.

There’s another meme going around Facebook, one that suggests that there should be a pound where pets could send bad owners. That meme, I’m completely behind.

As for holiday pet drives…if you’re looking for a pet, consider an adult dog or cat from a shelter or rescue. Many rescue groups are having pet adoption fairs this weekend, not because we’re pushing pets as presents, but because the colder the weather gets, the more lost and unwanted animals show up at shelters that are already overstuffed.

If you aren’t ready to commit to the care of an animal, donate time to a local shelter – help them with social media, with taking pictures of the animals, etc. Donate blankets or pop by CostCo and get a couple huge bags of food, and donate that. Maybe consider fostering a pet – you aren’t responsible for the expenses, then.

This message is approved by Maximus (adopted Feb, 2009), Perry (adopted March, 2009), Teddy (adopted Feb 2013), and Madison the foster pooch, who is available for adoption. For more info, check out her Petfinder profile.

Dog Days of Podcasting: Darmok and Dogs

Dog Days of Podcasting

This episode really should be called “Swimming with Morgan,” but it’s not. It’s just a ramble. I’m tired and my throat hurts, and it just struck me that if I’d finished any of the three things I had started to write, I would have had a much shorter entry.

Eleven minutes on Darmok and Dogs.

Accompanied by Teddy Bear on the Rawhide Chew, if you hear weird chewing sounds

Listen at SoundCloud or click below:

Dog Days of Podcasting: 13 Minutes of Dog Babble

Dog Days of Podcasting

Tabz suggested I ramble about dogs. Hemingway suggested we should write drunk and edit sober. I’m NOT drunk, but I had a beer with dinner and a benadryl about half an hour ago, so I’m not really as together as I should be, and tonight’s DDoP entry proves it.

I’m skipping the “edit sober” part.

Listen at SoundCloud, or click below:

Meet Morgan

Adoptable Dog Morgan

Morgan is about a year old, and has been spayed. She’s available for adoption through Shelter 2 Rescue. (Click image to embiggen).

Meet Morgan.

She’s about a year old, and has already been spayed. She’s an affectionate, intelligent pointer (or mix) and she’s small for her breed – just under 40 pounds – though she needs go gain a few to be truly healthy.

She loves to play in water, and will splash in the water bowl, or drink from the pool if we don’t catch her. She’s happy to play with other dogs – my two gentle giants didn’t phase her – and she’s good with smaller animals as well.

While pointers are high-energy animals, they also make great companion pets, and they can be taught to be couch potatoes between bouts of exercise.

Morgan is available for adoption through Shelter2Rescue, or you can visit her at the South Arlington (Texas) PetCo betweeen 1 & 5 PM on Saturday.

She would love a home and family of her own.

Meet Samwise

Samwise sitting

Meet Samwise.

Samwise was being called Koda when he was at the shelter, but when we asked for him as our next foster-dog, our coordinator asked us to rename him. Since he’s an Aussie/Border Collie mix, I wanted him to have a strong name that reflected the love and loyalty that both his breeds are known for. “Besides,” I explained. “If he gets non-geeky adopters, they can just call him Sam.”

Sam has been with us for a week now, and while he was very shy and skittish at first (even engaging in submissive urination), he’s quickly become a happy, plucky dog. He loves to wrestle with our four-year-old pointer, Maximus, and enjoys chasing tennis balls. A ball with a squeaker inside is his Very Most Favorite Toy, and he would spend all day batting it around the back yard if we allowed it.

He’s trained, sleeping in it and hanging out in it when I can’t supervise him. (He’s still a puppy – under nine months old – and has puppyish tendencies to swipe any object not nailed down, especially socks and slippers.) He loves rawhide chewies and never turns down treats or food. (We feed Blue.)

Samwise learned to answer to his new name very quickly. He hasn’t quite grasped “Sit” yet, but is learning. His leash skills, on the other hand, will require patience and time.

While Sam is extremely active, he’s also a great companion dog. He loves to run and play, but is equally content to sit with his head in your lap. He gives kisses, if you let him, and likes to be able to “check in” with his people. Secretly, he wants to be a cuddle muffin.

At roughly 40 pounds, Samwise is compact enough to live almost anywhere, but apartment dwellers should be prepared to take him on long romps every day.

Samwise is available for adoption through Shelter2Rescue, and can be seen at the PetCo near 1-20 & Green Oaks in Arlington, TX Saturdays from 1-6 PM.

(Of course, you can always contact me, as well.)

Samwise_03

Cruise Control

All this week, I’ve felt a bit like my life is on cruise control, except that while I’m going at a steady pace, there’s no one doing any navigation, so I’m just running in circles. padden-royal-mail-mediterranean It’s a frustrating feeling, because it’s this|close to stagnation without quite being so.

I did all my paid work this week in an unhurried fashion, and still finished it in time to get my invoice in yesterday. I’m where I need to be on some writing (paid and not) due tomorrow. I’ve worked out twice so far this week even though I had my period (I totally get a gold star for working through menstrual cramps, even if I have to give it to myself). I’ve edited a bunch of stuff for a good friend, and recommended her website to two other good friends.

I’ve taught the new foster dog (Zelda the boxer, who has been with us for nearly two weeks now) what her name is, and where her bed is. She’s taught me what her “I need to pee Right NOW” signal is. We’re working on commands like sit, stay, and come. She’s playing with my big, sweet pointer Maximus (aka Maximus the Monster Pup), now, and no longer getting all growly when one of the other dogs tries to take her abandoned bones.

But I haven’t been working on any of my own stuff. Not my creative non-fiction project. Not my novel. Not the super-skeret project I’m co-creating with a friend. Not the short story. Not even my fanfiction. I’m not blocked, exactly, just feeling really tired, and like I need to spend some more time reading before I do more writing.

I write every day for some reason or another, but I don’t always write what I want to write.

And I feel like I’m locked in cruise control mode, but not quite sure where I’m going.