December 8th 2011 1:26 pm
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I put organic Apple Cider Vinegar in their water. I feed grain-free. I spice up their meals with supplements, sardines, oils and bones when I can afford it. The treats I buy are as natural and healthy as I can get, with added vitamins and glucosamine. We go for vigorous hour-plus walks almost every day. We never go to dirty beaches, we never go to scummy parks, we never go near the parts of town I know may have glass or nasty people on the sidewalks. I rub lanolin oil on their chapped paws. Our shampoos and conditioners are natural and revitalizing. Our toys aren't plastic. Our bedding is cleaned frequently with good, natural detergents. I tuck in with kisses and cuddles every night.
I'm eating organic ramen. It's been my food staple for a minute now.
I've needed to see a dentist, doctor, a physical therapist, get x-rays for almost ten years now. I can't afford to. But I missed rent to take Sassy to the vet when she had a cough that kept her up all night. I can take some pain. I can handle some heat, some misfortune, some mild day-to-day suffering that comes with being your standard lower-middle class American 22 year old who doesn't have a college degree yet. I can handle mild poverty, I grew up in it. My pets though? My closest beloved ones? They will never come second. My x-ray for my knees and ankle can wait if my precious little dog is in misery from coughing, sneezing, hacking all night and all day. When her little body is trembling with pain and her eyes can barely stay open because of sleep deprivation, I'm putting things online to sell, calling in favors, and resigning myself to a simple, sparse diet for a few weeks to make sure she is going to be okay.
They never put me second.
When people ask me what kind of career I want to pursue, or what I'm going to do when I accomplish this magical college degree they say will be an answer to all of my problems, I tell them I want a job that allows me to provide the best possible lifestyle for my pets. I want a job I can feed them raw on, live somewhere with access to hiking, beach, glorious parks and constant adventure. I want quality vets and like-minded people. I want my job to allow me to enjoy the best parts of my life...all three of them.
A lot of people don't seem to understand why I do so much for my pets, and especially don't understand why I'm not happy with it. "You spoil them," they say. I am sad I cannot feed raw meat and have to resign us to Taste of the Wild. I am sad the veterinarians around here are greedy, money-thirsty Science Diet slaves who don't seem to care about animals at all. I am sad I can't afford a car to drive us further so that we can see new places, embark on better adventures, or even just get me to a a better job.
When I have kids I'm not going to feed them fast food and candy every meal. I'm not going to let them play videogames all day. I'm not going to let them suffer in illness.
I don't have kids yet. I've got two dogs and a very needy cat. They are still my babies. They give me a reason to have routine, be home at night, exercise, and strive for better things.
Times are tough, and although I'm not doing as well as I like I still manage to take better care of my animals than just about anybody I know. Of this I am proud, but most people think I'm stupid for it.
I don't know. At least I have something to live for.
October 9th 2010 4:02 pm
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WOW this has been a busy couple of weeks as the "mother" of the Ty-Dog. First off, a couple Wednesdays ago Tyson passed his Canine Good Citizen test! I have been working toward this with him since January with the help of our WONDERFUL local trainer, Janna. I was so incredibly nervous about it that I was sure I had psyched Tyson out about the whole thing, but then my little (er...not so little) man pulled it together and tested like a champion! Then that Thursday, Tyson had his first encounter with a skunk. I'm sure you know how that played out...... Poor guy started tracking something and I encouraged him to go for it, thinking it was a gopher or something. Then he sprinted across the huge field we were in, like he was going for the kill, and all I could see was this little black and white tail pop up from the grass. No amount of screaming or stomping or calling was having any affect on Tyson as he swooped in and took a skunk shot point blank in the face.
It was a nightmare.
He couldn't see or smell and he knew he was in trouble for not coming when I called, so he gunned it for the house. All along the way he was falling in holes and dragging his face along the ground. I spend hours with the hose and dish soap before finally giving up and bringing him inside. It was 1am and nothing was open, and I was leaving in seven hours for a wedding. When stores finally opened I ran out and got some hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, doing that routine before taking him to the boarding facility. This was his first time ever being boarded, and I was worried because he eats strictly raw and we ended up being stranded a whole extra day. However, the employees said Tyson did great!
Throughout the week Tyson has been going into the mountains with me while I work, and become quite the roughin' it dog. This weekend we are in San Francisco! Yesterday him and I walked the whole east half of the city, and this morning we did much of the west half plus running in the Golden Gate Park. Later we are going to a couple off-leash beaches and on a carriage ride! He has been the best traveler, receiving a flood of admiration from everyone down here and even taking genuine interest (as opposed to fear like me) in the fighter jet air show going on for Fleet Week. Tomorrow we are going to have lunch at the Lagunitas Brewery who have a special patio for dogs!
August 18th 2010 9:55 pm
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Sometimes I have to sit back, breathe, and remember I am only twenty years old.
This summer has been a cloudy, foggy, chilly excuse of a season this year in northern California. A couple days ago the town just south of me was the coldest place in the 48 United States. Colder than North Dakota, which I kind of picture as being where Yetis live year 'round. Because it never really got warm, Tyson never really finished blowing his winter undercoat, so he's been a shedding monster the past three months instead of confining the expulsion of his fur to one month. I am pretty sure my vacuum is broken now because of it.
Also responding to the lack of heat are my ankle, knees, shoulder and a couple fingers; victims of injuries past that have never quite been the same. A few of my toes explode and burn as if broken, and the word "arthritis" flashes white hot with the pain across my mind. I can't hurt like this. I need to take the dogs out, run errands and clean my house. I have to go to work, stand for eight hours and be required to function and move quickly.
As if reading my thoughts, Tyson gets up from his bone and ambles over to me and puts his head on my feet. The heat radiating from his throat penetrates my frozen joints and the pain subsides a little bit. I scootch closer and gently scrape away eye boogies with my fingernail, then scratch him around his earls like I know he loves. Sassy, disrupted by my movement (she must have been under the blankets) butts her head up against my side, requesting in her way some skull scruffles too. My sweet little Sas! As a functioning dog she is so useless and often makes my stress levels go through the roof, but if she didn't exist in my life in her delicate and yet retarded way I think I might be worse off. Her life is souly to be close to me and to be cute while she's doing it. Her petite antics paired with her brain damage often makes her a unique comedy routine designed specifically to make me laugh, so as she loses her balance trying to get my attention I swoop her up and kiss her fragile little head. Both shivering and wagging her tail (since she is unsure of how to feel) she returns kisses full force onto my nose. The commotion gets Attila going, so of course he too must be part of things and demands such by forcing his way under my arms and meowing loudly in my face.
For a moment the aches and pains are gone. My room doesn't seem that messy, work doesn't seem like slavery, and the dogs are perfectly content in my lap not going anywhere. Moving back to Los Angeles, going back to school and pursuing a career is less of a stress than it is a goal; a dream I am working to make come true. That realization and that little bit of stress off my chest allows me to inhale deeply and fill my lungs with life and the scent of my furries who, no matter what, are glues loyally to my side.
Sometimes I have to sit back, breathe, and remember I am only twenty years old.