Oh, I wish I was talking about me!! Today is Wednesday. Hump Day. So, I thought you might like an overdose of cuteness to get you through the day. You can thank The Herd, aka the laziest supervisors ever, for their willingness to work so hard at sleeping and relaxing. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it, right?
I’ve been wanting to write for the past couple days and this is a faster one to get up here for you to remind you that no, I’m not dead. 🙂 My hardest decision about this post is which picture to make as The Designated Picture!
So without further adieu, here are some photos of The Herd, doing what they do best, other than pooping and eating. (And yes, Steel, the German Shepherd, who is an honorary member of the Herd until May 2020, when his dad (my roommate) and I will go our separate ways, has even joined in on the fun.) Many were taken from my office. While I slave away to make enough money to put food in their bowls on the floor (dogs) or on the dresser (cats, in order to keep it away from the dogs), they all work soooo hard. #notesarcasm
But yes….they really are my reason for existing and for living.
What is your reason for living and for working so hard? Drop me a comment below and share, if you can, pictures of your babies!!
I will be compiling a lot of videos and stories of people I find inspiring on separate pages, but thought I might discuss some of them individually as I go along. What inspires me might not inspire you and vice versa. And what inspires me can change from one day to another. But hopefully we can find some common ground!
Anyway, the other day on YouTube, I came across the story of a lifetstyle photographer named James Barkman. He’s 22 and lives in his Westfalia van and tows a motorcycle behind it so that he can save money on gas and get to locations that he might not otherwise be able to reach with the van. His website is Jamesbarkman.com.
As my brother and sister in law can attest, VW vans can have a lot of problems as they age and so if you own one, you will inevitably learn a lot about doing maintenance on it. (They are the creators behind the blog, It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House, and are currently on an overland trip that is leading them to South America.) Everyone who has talked about living in a van and is realistic about it discusses the fact that it can be frustrating and super stressful at times, and at other times, they feel like it’s entirely worth the stress and aggravation they go through. James Barkman mentions that in his video too.
In the beginning of the video, and again at the end, he discusses pursuing your dreams before you have everything set in place. I take that to mean that you can’t wait until is perfect and you feel like you have all your bases covered to take that leap of faith. He also mentions that wherever you are, or whoever you are with, be there with all your heart. And “be whoever you’re created to be.” Don’t let fear run your life.
Looking back, I’ve done that at times, most recently, when I moved to Albuquerque without a job, but with the faith that I would bust my butt to get one (and I did!) As many of you know, I aspire to live tiny, and I’ve recently begun fantasizing again about living in the Pacific Northwest. I just really miss living near a large body of water, and I actually like the gray days we get here in ABQ, though they are few and far in between.
I found the cinematography of this video to be pretty amazing. Please let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment below! As always, thanks for reading!
Those of you who love to read will understand what I’m talking about when I say how this was one of these books that I just didn’t want to put down, and gladly would have given up sleep for! I started putting little sheets of paper into certain pages because I felt that there were some quotes there that I really needed to remember. (If it had been my own book, I would have highlighted them.)
Simply put, Rob makes me want to be a better human. He really does. Yes, he takes things to an extreme (such as standing up on his bike across an entire state) to raise funds for a charity, but what he does, he does to raise awareness.
This book is about a cross-country bike trip that Rob took a few years ago to raise awareness about taking steps to save our environment. He decided on a few rules he would follow along the way:
only use electricity that was created from a portable alternative energy device (i.e. solar power), not electricity created by fossil fuels or from the grid
only use water that comes from natural resources, i.e., not from a tap or municipal system unless it’s being wasted (i.e. a busted fire hydrant, a leaky faucet, etc.)
only eat organic and local and unpackaged food (exception being that he could eat packaged foods if they were going to go to waste, i.e. in a dumpster, on someone’s plate at a restaurant)
cross the country on his bike only, so not using any fossil fuels (only exception would be if his life was threatened)
try to be as close to zero-waste producing as possible (i.e. if he bought something that was in non-recyclable plastic, it would travel with him the entire time)
Rob very rarely broke any of his rules, but of course he wasn’t perfect. The book is mainly his journal that he steadfastly worked on during the entire trip. It chronicles the many people who gave him shelter through the Warm Showers program, the many weather challenges he faced, his riding across the entire state of Pennsylvania without money. He includes many nuggets of wisdom, such as:
“If you don’t support wasting water, then take shorter showers, do less laundry and pay attention to how much water you’re dumping down the drain.”
In terms of embracing all that the earth and your life has to give you, “[i]f your neighbors are too loud and keep you up at night, it means your ears are functioning properly. If you smell nasty cigarettes at a bar or a rotting animal on the side of the road, it means your nose is doing its job.”
Another great nugget is:
“No human being has more or less time than any other. Time is not something we can buy or win. it is not something we can steal or borrow. . . .There is no such thing as not ‘having’ time for something. We choose not to devote our time to doing something so that we can spend our time doing something else instead. it’s a choice. Life is a choice.”
My favorite quote of his is the following, and I think it’s because he exemplified this throughout the entire book. He remained happy in the face of downpours, lightning strikes, you name it. He CHOSE to be happy rather than miserable. So I will leave you with this quote.
“Life is a matter of perspective. Change your perspective today and you’ll be living in a new world tomorrow.”
As always, thanks for reading, and if you have a comment, or a suggestion on another book I should read, please write me below! And if you think someone can benefit from reading it, or Rob’s book, please do feel free to share it!! And thanks!
Woohoo! I’m done with my first semester of the Masters in Humane Education program I started this past fall! It’s been a while since I’ve taken classes in something I feel passionate about, and it makes all the difference. We had what we call our “Capstone” salons this weekend for each of my classes, where we meet with the professor and other students via zoom and share projects. In one of my capstones, I got some great ideas for how to develop my blog!! I really want this blog to also become an educational tool, not just me simply blathering on about my life. 🙂 (Although there will still be some of that, lol.) It was so cool to see people you’ve been in contact with on Blackboard but never seen their face!
So last night it was so relaxing – I sat there and was reading Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield. I love this book so much that I’ve already put it on my Helpful Books page. He has some great pearls of wisdom in it and he makes me desire to be a better person. One of my favorite quotes is on page.156:
“Life is a matter of perspective. Change your perspective today and you’ll be living in a whole new world tomorrow.”
His book has been published by New Society Publishers, and they specialize in publishing books that provide solutions for those who want to make a difference – I can’t wait to see what they have in their catalog!!
So I thought I might suggest some little things that we can thing about anew, and feel more positive about our day, especially if it’s a crappy day for whatever reason – weather, people being grumpy, etc.
These are some of the little things that have helped my weekend to be a good one:
that perfectly brewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning
the cat that insists on sitting on your lap and putting his head on your laptop screen as you are trying to type (ahem, happening right now – I remind myself that it’s because Max loves me, as shown by his loud purring now taking place)
waking up in the morning and realizing today is what you make of it. You might have to go to work, but only you can decide how to react to things, events, and people
a good conversation with a good friend
seeing your roommate start to flourish in this new town, meeting new friends and joining a community of like-minded souls
joining in a free(!) webinar with other interested souls to learn about building your own tiny house from this guy, Ethan Waldman
hearing from another writer whose work you really admire that your blog is one of her favorites (check out Sal’s blog at One Empty Shelf – her writing is so calming)
sitting in silence enjoying the beauty of your first Christmas tree in a few years
on a cold night, having a roof over your head, a comfy bed to sleep in, and a very cute dog named Snuggles, well, snuggling, at your side, knowing he is safe and loved
realizing the notebook with the cover “My Brilliant Ideas” that you recently bought for $3 was a great use of your money
What are some little things that help to center you and ground you in a positive perspective on life? Please share them below – I’d love to hear them and get a good conversation started!
As always, thanks for reading. And please, do check out my newly revised and created pages and let me know what you think!
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do have some favorite YouTube channels I turn to for inspiration. One is Timothy Ward’s channel. Currently, Tim is working in Colorado, and he is working on a series of videos called “100 Ways To Create Your Dream Life.” He is so down to earth in all of his videos. He’s lived in an RV, like me, but decided it wasn’t for him. He loves to travel and so he does a lot of seasonal work, most often lately in housekeeping, even though he is qualified to do so much more. (Another reason I like him – he does what he likes to do, not because he feels it’s a job he HAS to do to be what is considered a “success” in today’s world.) He goes to work every day with a positive attitude. His laugh is genuine, and luckily, he laughs a lot (sometimes at himself) in his videos. Though he doesn’t have tens of thousands of subscribers, he doesn’t care. To him, it’s more important to connect with his viewers and create a community, much like I am with this blog. Please go check out his channel and tell him I sent you! 🙂
Another channel that I like because of the Alternative Living series that he has begun, is Dylan Magaster’s channel. His film-making skills have improved so much from the early days. In particular, one video he shot recently really spoke to me. His subject was a guy called Artisan Josh. I’d seen videos of Artisan Josh’s house, Lil Red, in the past, but they hadn’t really gone into who he was as a person. Josh grew up in foster care, spent time behind bars, and now has found peace in his tiny home, among the tiny home community. He travels and builds tiny houses for others. It might not be a life for everyone, but it’s the one that works for him. When he laughs in this video, I hear a man who has found peace and seems genuinely happy with his life as it currently stands. (He commented back to me that he sounds like Woody Woodpecker, lol.)
At the end of the video Dylan shot, Josh reads some of his original poetry. I just felt drawn to it, and the first time that I listened to it, I felt chills, but in a good way. Check out some of the work he has done at his website: Artisan Josh. He also appears to have begun his own YouTube channeland he is also on Instagram.
Becky Schade is the author of the Interstellar Orchard blog of which I have been a fan for a long time. I’ve written about her in the past, and she never ceases to amaze me. She’s like a very old soul in a thirty-something’s body. She has written and published a blog and now started up her own YouTube channel, chronicling her six years (6!!) of living full time in an RV. She currently lives in a Casita, but has decided to downsize next year into a teardrop trailer! Since she’s announced her decision, she has had to deal with a lot of flack and comments from those who think they know better how she should live her own life. She’s amazingly mature at dealing with those types of comments. And knowing her own mind and what is best for her to do to follow her own dreams. She inspires me with her independence, her self-awareness, and her writing skills. Plus, she’s also a good human being! (Oh, and she now has her own YouTube channel too!)
There’s one common thread that ties these folks together in my mind. They have each found happiness on their own terms. They don’t sugar coat how their life is – life is not a set of Instagram photos as many would like us to believe. Some days are good and some days are bad, and they acknowledge that, just as do I. They’ve all realized that life is (to use a cliche) a journey. You learn more about yourself every day. And that’s something that you can’t put a price on.
If you have any comments as to who inspires you, or if you’ve already begun following these folks or learning about their stories, please let me know! If you’ve liked this post, please hit the like button or share it with someone who you think could benefit from it too! And as always, thanks for reading!
And now, I’m off to volunteer at a food pantry! My hospital gives away pet food on the third Friday of every month and today I think we’re going to have a lot of extra stuff like leashes and collars to give to everyone, as part of an early holiday gift. These are some of the best four hours I spend every month – it makes me grateful for my life, my job and my pets. Have a great weekend everyone!
One thing I’ve known about in the past but which has really hit home as I pursue the program in humane education is that people react much better to something positive, or something beautiful, something small and simple that they can relate to, rather than an abstract whole world problem, something they have trouble picturing.
So below are my ideas of what are truly moments of beauty:
Reading a facebook post of a friend who has recently become a mom via adoption, after years of trying to become pregnant. She broke down in tears when in a store with her child strapped to her chest, seeing all the Christmas decorations and realizing that this year, she wouldn’t face the holidays with sadness in her heart, but with a feeling of fullness and pure joy.
The turning of the leaves from green to gold and bright red and orange. Realizing that New England doesn’t have a monopoly on beautiful fall foliage, after all.
The amazement you feel at seeing one or two wild sunflowers still finding the courage to grow, weeks after the rest have died.
The warmth of the sun on your face while you lie on your back and look up through the trees at the blue sky above you.
The sound of children playing together at a party in the park, cheering for one little girl who *almost* makes that one perfect hit to the piñata that will grant all of them a good deal of candy.
Seeing your dog literally smiling because she has found a home with people who really love her.
Writing to further my dreams and listening to one of The Herd (Snuggles, to be exact), barking while he’s deep into a dream, nestled at my feet.
What are some moments of beauty that you’ve recently observed or felt in your life? Please feel free to share them in the comments. And if you’ve liked this post, or know someone who might benefit from reading it, please hit “Like” and then share it!
My Environmental Ethics requires us to go on four field trips in our neck of the woods. The goal is to remain in the present for at least 30 minutes. No cell phones. No thoughts of what happened earlier today or what can happen tonight. When you find your thoughts drifting away from the present, you do your best to bring them back to the here and now. Try and use all of your senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, etc. Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. One of my fellow students said I should publish them somehow and he would want to read one of them every day to reconnect himself to nature. So, I thought I would do so here, in the hope that it can have some beneficial effect to those of you reading it.
Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. So without further adieu, here goes nothing, er, my first field trip.
Yesterday, I took a field trip to the section of the Bosque knowns as Tingley Beach. The Bosque is a wooded area located along the banks of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It stretches for miles with lots of dirt paths for walkers, runners, bikers, and nature enthusiasts. Usually, I run there. But yesterday, I decided I would just sit and observe.
I wonder – what made me choose this spot? Because it’s familiar? But, I’ve never sat here on a log and just looked and listened while not moving. There are so many wild sunflowers growing here, some out of what appears to be dead, inhospitable wood accumulated on the ground. How did all these dead tree branches come to be here on the ground? Were they cut down? No, they’re too randomly placed. Did they break off in the wind? That seems more likely, given the winds we have here in Albuquerque, a high desert city.
The breeze blows through the green leaves of the tall cottonwoods above me. I’m comforted by it, even though I can tell by its ferocity that a rainstorm might be coming. I welcome that. To the south are dark clouds. To the north are white puffy clouds that seem to be speeding effortlessly through the sky because of that strong wind. The sun keeps peeking in and out from among the dark clouds, alternately warming and cooling my body.
Sitting quietly, I start to hear the sounds of birds chirping. I hear one chirp, then another, and then a third, all from different locations. They are of different types; each chirp is unique. And are those crickets or cicadas I hear? I love the sound of them, but seeing them in person freaks me out. I’m not a fan of big bugs.
I hear the sounds of civilization off in the distance: traffic noise, a plane flying overhead, the sounds of humans along the dirt path. The humans are close enough that we could both see each other, but they’re too engrossed in their conversations or own thoughts to notice me sitting amongst the cottonwoods. And I am grateful because I want to be left alone to observe, to feel, to hear, to smell. I’m irritated by the intrusion.
I realize I haven’t seen a single bug crawling along the log on which I sit. Surprising, because I usually see them everywhere on the path when I run. And this is the woods! As if I willed it into existence, one appears, and it’s time for me to shift positions. I take a seat on the ground near the sunflowers. I can see the honeybees darting from one flower to the next. But I don’t hear them making a sound. Funny, I thought this was grass, but it feels more like straw. Looking closer, I notice it covers the dead branches and twigs found below it. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s time for me to go, so I walk toward the river.
If this post touches you somehow, please share it. And thank you for reading.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents had you write out thank you letters after you received a gift for your birthday or a holiday like Hanukkah or Christmas? Have you ever gotten a thank you note from someone out of the blue for something you did at your job, and you’re like, “I was just doing my job, wow!”
When I was at Harvard, I kept all of the thank you notes I received, even via email, and posted them on my wall near my desk. I liked to think of it as my wall of positivity. When I was having a very bad day, I’d look at the wall and remind myself, “THIS is why I do what I do.” Sometimes students would see the notes and remark on them, and tell me that it made them feel even more comfortable meeting and talking with me.
I had a great Zoom meeting with my faculty advisor this morning and felt really inspired afterward. We talked about how I can use my writing skills in humane education and she gave me lots of ideas and suggestions. I remember a comment she made on one of my assignments – had I ever thanked the Creative Writing teacher I had in college? And I thought of my work study job I had in college, where a true gentleman by the name of Carl G. Martin was my supervisor and ran the Office of Student Services. I’ve thought of writing to him and thanking him for the influence he had on me in my college years. But I’ve not done it. So, that ends today.
There are many people I want to thank for how they have positively changed my life. But today, I’m going to start with just one, and I would like to encourage any of you to send me your thank you letters and I will gladly post them here. Maybe you want to thank someone who is no longer with us, or someone you have no idea how to find or reach. You will receive all the credit, of course. I won’t edit them, I promise.
So here it goes, my first thank you letter, to my friend David B.
Thank you for having been my friend for the past 12 years. Thank you for always being such a calming, positive influence (even when you didn’t think you were.) Thank you for always be willing to sit and listen and then answer probing, thought-provoking questions in a non-judgmental way. Thank you for being “that poor bastard who had to deal with you for more than eight hours a day for two years, sharing an office with you!” (That’s what my now ex-hb said at one point, and I remember telling you, and laughing about it.)
Thank you for being that friend who was willing to sit across a table from me the night before I left my marriage. You held my hand as I sobbed, hysterically at times, not being able to catch my breath. I remember you giving me a key to your apartment in case I needed a place to stay. You didn’t say much that night, and I suspect you knew you didn’t need to. I just needed to know I wasn’t alone. I needed to know I wasn’t a horrible person, and that I was loved, even though what I was contemplating doing was ripping me up inside.And you let me know that I would be okay. It might take time, but I would be okay.
Thank you for watching me grow these past several years and for supporting my newest quest to start a master’s program at the young old age of 44, and not calling me insane for doing so. Thank you for understanding that like you, I need to constantly be learning to be happy with my life. Thank you for writing one of my recommendation letters for that program and for talking with me for quite a while beforehand, again, asking those great questions you always do.
Thank you for being that type of friend, who, when we talk, it’s like we just saw each other yesterday. Thank you for loving me as only a friend like that would.
If you would like to email me a letter or write one as a guest post, you can email me at chasingsimpledreams AT gmail.com. Or, please feel free to drop a comment on the blog with your email (the email is not shared or shown publicly), and I will gladly post it for you.
It’s my hope to get an atmosphere of gratitude flowing around those of us interacting here or reading the blog. When you’re grateful, it colors your whole world in a very positive light.
As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
I had a conversation on Facebook over the weekend with someone who was in the first class of law students with whom I worked as a professional law librarian, while at Boston University Law School. That was a long 12 years ago, but he still remembers me and when I was typing back and forth with him, I could still hear that accent of his and see his big smile on his face. I remember thinking back then that he was so, so, so incredibly smart, and how in the world did I think I could help someone like him?!
Anyway, the point of this walk down my memory lane is this – he reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching others and teaching them to teach themselves how to do things. How sometimes when a patron would come up to me, completely lost and not exactly know what they were looking for, and sometimes it was a subject I didn’t know much about myself, how I would fumble through with them until we’d finally hit on some piece of knowledge or thought and then we’d both run with it! (Not all interactions were like this, of course, but it was these types that made me glad to do my job.) He told me that I was so devoted to helping them learn, and a few other nice things, and said he thought it had been the opinion of many of his classmates as well. He also told me that time and kindness are two of the most precious resources you can give. I certainly gave them a lot of my time, and especially in the beginning of my career as a librarian, when I was learning so much myself every day, I remember thinking to myself how confused the foreign students must be, and how different it all must seem to them to learn about this whole other country’s set of laws. And how scary it can seem. So if they saw my manner towards them as kind, well, I am glad, because I wanted to treat them the same way I would have wanted to be treated if in their shoes.
One thing I don’t get to do much of these days is teach people. Also, because it’s a for-profit business, sometimes, I feel like I have to really hold my tongue from expressing my opinions to customers, such as on issues of declawing cats, docking tails or ears of dogs such as Doberman’s, breeding in general, and failing to spay/neuter your pets. Sometimes, I just want to scream at people, “What are you?? Stupid??!! Don’t you know all the various health issues with not spaying or neutering? And do you really think the world needs MORE unwanted animals? WHY in the hell are you going to a breeder when the shelters are FULL of homeless pets?!” (Anybody who works in animal issues that says that they never say these things or even think them to themselves is lying, trust me.) I also see the animals that come in that are being fostered after being removed from bad situations. It sickens me. Days like that, you catch yourself saying things like “I hate people” to yourself or under your breath.
However, there was one random day that a lady came in and asked about where she could get a German Shepherd dog, and we started talking. The librarian in me took over, and before I knew it, I had turned the computer monitor towards her and started showing her how to do some searches on sites like Petfinder.com, how to navigate the ABQ city website, and started asking her some more questions about what it was she was really looking for in a dog. As with some of my favorite interactions at the reference desk in the past, she took out a pen and paper and started writing stuff down so she could look on her own later on.
I’ve been doing some soul searching and thinking about what it is that makes me tick. What kind of movies or videos I like to watch, or podcasts I like to listen to, or blog posts I like to read, and then share with others because I find them inspiring. I have tried to figure out a common thread between them. In the past, I wrote this post about the movie called Opening Our Eyes. I think I need to go back and watch the movie again. I also wrote this post about the movie, I’m Fine, Thanksin which the filmmaker travels around the country and interviews people who want to make a change in their life, and then DO IT.
I may have talked about this on the blog before, and I thought about applying in the past, but of course, the issue of money is one that has stopped me from applying. But I’m starting to really feel this pull inside like this is the right thing to do. There is a Master’s degree program in Humane Education offered by the Institute for Humane Education. The degree is taught online and has a week long residency requirement in a beautiful part of Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. The program is accredited through Valapraiso University, and the program I would look to finish is a Masters in Arts in Humane Education, because if I’m going to educate, I would rather it be outside of a traditional classroom, and have it be through my daily work, either with a non-profit, or a civic engagement, or an animal shelter, etc. (They describe the MA in Humane Education as “designed for educators who wish to work outside of school settings, such as through community work, non-profits, arts activism, social services, law, and many other professions.“) I like the idea of being able to use the education in many fields.
Part of the program involves a master’s thesis. It can be creative, professional, and/or research-based. All of those sound right up my alley. If I could find a way to marry research with a realistic plan of how to bring my ideas into reality, I will feel successful. And hey, maybe it could even become that book I have been wanting to publish. 🙂
I am grateful to have friends to bounce these ideas off of. I swear to God, my friend Dan is kind of my grandmother reincarnated in the way that he kindly asks me probing questions to get me to think, and he reminds me that I’m always “go, go, GO!!” when I set my mind to something. He wants me to sit back and breathe and really think about things, and for that, I love him to death. I need someone like that in my life. Especially when I’m 44 and considering putting yet even more money into education without the 100% guarantee it will get me a job that will pay that tuition money back, and again, I’m 44! Putting myself through school again? Didn’t I just consider this with the vet tech program at CNM? These are all questions I really need to think about.
Dan has asked me to think about why I would want to do such a program, and here is my long-winded answer. Many of you who have read my blog for a long time, or who were gluttons for punishment, and decided to go back to the beginning and start and catch yourselves up (and I LOVE all of you!), know that I have these big dreams, or big ideas, and I want to do so much, both in every ordinary day of my life, and with my life as a whole! But one of the problems I know I suffer from is being able to focus. I can be like a raccoon that you throw something shiny in front of, and I’m already distracted.
My point is this:I need the structure and guidance of someone else who has felt the same way and knows how to narrow down the wish list, how to take all the grandiose ideas and ACTUALLY put them into concrete action. And I want to meet with others, both virtually, and in person, through the online class tools and at a practicum where I live, who feel the same way, who I can be made accountable to, and who can encourage me when I get discouraged along the way. And I can learn how to integrate some of my ideas, because really, a lot of my concerns are interconnected: animal protection, environmental protection, etc. You can’t really look at things in a vacuum anymore. I look back at these earlier posts of mine and know now that figuring out how to focus my energies and integrate my ideas, has been my problem.
I also want to be like some of the students you see profiled on this page. Some of the students who really caught my eye were involved in issues related to animals:
When I die, I don’t need to have been known for winning a Nobel Prize or having been someone like Bill Gates, or Mother Theresa. I just want to have left this world in a little bit better place than it was when I entered it, and for some people to think of me and think “You know? Terri was all right. She did some good stuffs!”
What kind of good stuffs have you seen being done around you or do you want to achieve in your life?
It’s been a while since I’ve written, sorry about that. I’ve moved to a new apartment that has a yard, and I’ve had a lot of transcription work to do in my free time, so there hasn’t ‘been much time to write.
Also, as the title of my post shows, I lost my little Osito. Last week, it was a “shit show” as we call it sometimes at work – three euthanasias all pretty much at the same time. My hospital only has two visiting rooms, set up to look like a living room of sorts, where parents can say a final goodbye to their loved furballs. Then I came home. I went outside with Morgan for a few minutes, to the back yard, as I always do. When I came in, I said aloud, “Okay, where’s little Osito?” It’s normal for her to sometimes sleep through my initial entrance, but usually she wakes up by the time Morgan and I come back in. I looked at all of her various beds spread out around the kitchen and the bedroom and didn’t see her, which started to get me worried. I then went over to her favorite bed area, and that’s when I saw her. She was clearly dead.
Words can’t describe very well how I felt. This little girl has been a major love in my life for the past four years. I adopted her when she was 12, thinking I might have only 2 years or so left with her, and then I learned chihuahuas can live til about 18 or 20, sometimes. I hoped she would be one of those rare exceptions and make it to 20, or hey, even live forever. One can dream, right? She was turning 16 this year.
During the past few weeks, I had noticed she was squatting a lot more and it seemed like not much urine was coming out. I also noticed she was having less control of her bladder. Whereas before she might have tried to wake me up at night to put her down from the bed onto her pee pads, it seemed like she was just peeing in her sleep, and then I’d wake up to find both of us lying in it. Yep, eew. Not good.
So I took her to my vet and she diagnosed a urinary tract infection, and did some blood work. Her kidney numbers were a bit elevated, and so were her white blood cell counts. I expected the higher level of white blood cells, since her body was fighting an infection. But we weren’t sure if the kidney disease was recent, or something that had been underlying for a while. My vet prescribed Clavamox, an antibiotic that I could give in liquid form, since her teeth are pretty much, well, she had one. I think.
Osito normally loved her sleep, but I’d been noticing lately that she seemed to sleep even more. I ascribed some of it to her lack of appetite from the antibiotics. So we tried to give her an appetite stimulant. It was only 1/4 of what was already a very small tablet, but when your dog has basically no teeth, it can be hard for her to “gum” a pill pocket and get the pill that way, and if i just put it into her food, she would lick around it.
So I started giving her Royal Canin’s Recovery food on Friday night, heated up. She seemed to really like it, and it probably helped that she hadn’t had a pill in about 24 hours. My vet also gave me Covenia, which I could give to Osito in injection form, having learned how to do Sub Q stuff when I was an animal caregiver at Best Friends. That would eliminate the need for oral meds, or so we hoped.
Earlier last week, I had taken Morgan for a walk to one of the Open Spaces that is located close to the Rio Grande. I carried Osito in my “Outward Hound” pouch and she seemed to enjoy the walk. Well, until the wind kicked up, and it started to drizzle a bit, and then I was partly running back toward the car, so she was jostled around a bit.
Last weekend, on Saturday, we had a really sunny day. So I took her along with me and Morgan on our walk, again in her carry pouch. She had so much sun on her face, which I know she always loved. She was content to be carried around. I remember wondering how many other walks like this I would be able to have with her. Maybe a part of me suspected what was coming.
The next morning, she ate ravenously from the heated up food, and then she fell asleep on my lap, her belly full with good food. I’ve always loved those moments, looking down at her and knowing she trusts me enough to allow herself to be at her most vulnerable around me. One of the best feelings I’ve been fortunate to have in my life is to look around the room, see all of my animals with one glance, and know that they feel safe and content. Maybe that’s how human parents feel. I’ll never know for sure, but for me, it’s enough. Some of us just weren’t meant to be parents to humans, only pets.
I just always wish I had been able to be with her at the end. To hold her and kiss her and let her know how much she was loved, and still is. But some suspect that she may have waited for me to not be around, and spared me that pain. All I know is, it still hurt. And does now.
I ran Osito back to the hospital where I work, and she will be privately cremated, which means I will have her ashes back shortly. I picked out an urn that is in the shape of a heart, and have paid to have her paws impressed into clay. The words “My Little Baby O” will also be on that plaque.
Osito will join Bonkers and Sebastian, Chloe, and my paw print of Daisy (my foster dog from Best Friends), and my picture of Clara in their place of honor. (Clara was buried out behind the house I used to share with my now ex-husband. My parakeet was also buried out back.) They are always close by me that way, physically, and in spirit. I don’t think your animals ever leave you, honestly. For Osito, I know that is especially true, as I will explain in my next post.
Osito, before you, I never understood why people could love little dogs like they do. Now, I totally get it. You were the main inspiration behind my leaving my job in Harvard to work with animals. You changed my life.
You are missed, more than you could ever know. I love you, baby girl.