Posts Tagged 'shelter dogs'

A variety of goodbyes

Not the shelter dog I mention, but a lookalike who appears equally sweet. Photo by Dimmerswitch under a Creative Commons License

So, the moment of actual emigration is coming closer rapidly. There are times where I sort of forget about it and there are times where the imminent departure seems overwhelming in its presence. Thirty-seven nights until we will actually board an airplane, clutching a one-way ticket can seem like an eternity (when procrastinating on packing up All The Books) or the blink of an eye.

Thirty-seven nights are NOTHING when I’m wondering how many ‘goodbyes’ I can fit in.

Because, unsurprisingly (I suppose), I’m doing a lot of saying goodbye.

Some of this saying goodbye is of the straightforward-yet-painful kind. Like when Beloved and I went to London recently to see some friends. We had splendid, sun-soaked times with some of our very nearest and dearest. You know, those people that you can call your ‘chosen family’ and not even feel cheesy about it because it’s just true and there isn;t another word for what these folks are to you. It’s straightforward because all involved knew and understood why we were there. Hugs were given, good wishes were exchanged and (in my case) a tear or two was shed, which I don’t think anybody noticed (good!). I’ll miss those humans, but I get to say goodbye and have that goodbye be understood. We’re all sad over parting, but we’ll be okay, we’ll meet again and it will be good. Distance will not change things between these folks and us.

Other goodbyes are different. They happen when I open up the kitchen cupboard and wonder if I should buy another pack of coffee or if we’ll have enough. How many dishwasher tabs should I buy to ensure we can have clean dishes, yet won’t need to deal with a pile of leftover tabs upon vacating our house. What _is_ our weekly use rate of toilet paper, anyway? How do I make our physical goodbye clean, simple and waste-free? How do we leave with our affairs in order? How to say goodbye to the mundanities of a settled life? How to say goodbye to the routines, to knowing what you’ll have for breakfast, to knowing your preferred brand of coffee, apple juice, fast food.

Goodbyes happened when winter refused to leave my country and I was secretly sort of happy, despite everybody else complaining, because we’re going to California and myth has it that coastal north California really only has foggy pseudo-winters, and I might miss winter when I’m there. They happen when I see the jutting angles of milk cows in water-surrounded fields, and when I see ducklings, because while I look forward to living with raccoons, hummingbirds and banana slugs (well, maybe not the slugs), it won’t be home. How do you say goodbye to a place? Can you Skype the colours of fall, or have an e-mail exchange with the smell of coffee roasting if the wind blows to the east? Does ‘finding chestnuts in the street, which must mean that summer is over’ have a blog I can comment on?

Goodbyes certainly also happened when – a few weeks ago – I received a call from the pet shelter I volunteer at that this one particular dog.. This one sweet, senior dog that had been there since I’d started volunteering.. This one dog that the shelter staff and interns said preferred me over  the other workers (and I played favourites with him too, because who can deny a dog that loves you?).. This one dog that had been at the shelter for a year, or so, had finally been adopted out to a loving home. That was a weird one, because I didn’t actually get to say goodbye – he was adopted and picked up in the period between two of my normal volunteer days.. I only got to feel relief over not having to abandon him when I would leave, over not having to be the next human to leave this helpless, loving furball to his own devices. How do you say goodbye to that? To the creatures and the causes that have your heart but don’t understand your words?

Then, there is the Big Goodbye. This weekend I sent out invites to those (remotely) local to us, asking them to join Beloved and me some time in the near future for a farewell party . This is the goodbye for All The Humans. Colleagues, cousins, those people that you know and like, but for the life of you can’t remember when you first met them, all those folks get a place. Peple that you’ll maybe never get to see again after this meeting. I am envisioning something that reminds me of how people describe their weddings sometimes: a way for our extended community to join in and support us in the endeavour we undertake.

I look forward to that one. It’ll be festive. There will be laughing. There will be hugs. I’ll be seeing people I haven’t seen in way too long and there will be people I see quite often. There will be people for which this goodbye will be the last one. It will be a goodbye, but it will be tangible and ‘easy’  in the sense that it is inevitable, but okay, or maybe even good. I hope to come away from that goodbye feeling like I wrapped something up, that something has been done and done well.

Maybe the humans are actually the easiest to part from.

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Developments and travel pictures

Guards at a gate

We’ve paid our last NVC-bill, the one for the IV-package. We’ve sent in the last of the paperwork for the IV-package. All we can do now, is wait. Once the NVC checks all our stuff, finds it complete and sends it to the consulate, we can start moving again.

Beloved has had his last day at work, so he’s home too now. I am happy to no longer be responsible for the largest part of house keeping and am curious what it will be like to spend so much time together for the next  month or two.

Next week I’ll join a class on dog behaviorism and body language at the shelter I volunteer at. More quality time with lovable pooches!

We took a trip to Rome with my family and it was great. My feet are still sore. Pictures accompanying this post are from said trip and were all made by my relatives. Please don’t steal them.

I’m negotiating a freelance writing project, which I hope pans out.

I’ve heard rumors about my resume traveling the US and going interesting places (like Stanford *squee*).

Next week we’ll organize an Open House to attract someone to buy our house from us. Fingers crossed on that one.

Inside the Colosseum

Saint Angelo’s castle

The Trevi Fountains

Tasty foods

All The Puppies

Shelter Dog by Steven L Johnson, under a Creative Commons License. (not one of our dogs)

A post or two ago, I mentioned that I would start volunteering at the local pet shelter. Today I spent my third half-day there and, well, what can I say… It is fulfilling work. I come home tired and filthy and happy that I’ve made the world a little bit better with the help of  disinfectant, scrubby brushes, bowls of kibble and some well-placed rubs, pats and scratches.

I’ve also learned I like dogs. I used to have reservations about the dogs that I thought I would like. I used to tell myself that I’m not a terrier person, or that many shepherd-type dogs are just not a good match for me. Now that I get to interact with a pretty wide variety of dogs (among which a fair amount of as-of-yet intact males), it turns out I think Jack Russels can be adorable and cuddly, pittbulls can be goofy and silly and shepherds can be insecure and needy. It is an eye opener to see that there are very few dogs that I do not feel affection for and do not, as far as I – a relative stranger in their lives – can, get along with. Just today I had a very stressed, neurotic, older Belgian shepherd crawl under my arm to find some peace. After that, I spent time with an male pitbull (built like a fighter, I think his head is 50% of his total weight and he’s all muscle) who was so happy someone gave him attention that he did the silliest little dance while trying to get as many rubs as he could.

Another lesson is that life as a shelter dog just isn’t fun. Even in our shelter, where they get high quality food, private indoor kennels, shared outdoor kennels (if they like other dogs, otherwise they alternate) and four trips a day to one of several fenced-in fields with play equipment, the dogs are bored and starved for attention. It is lovely to see how a dog perks up when he gets his weekly weighing moment and gets to spend some fifteen minutes in the kitchen with the staff. He gets called and talked to, he gets petted, he gets some treats and some play with a toy. When the next dog needs to be weighed and this one needs to return to his kennel, the ears droop, the tail sags and all the joy seems to evaporate. Back to the incessant barking of his under-stimulated neighbors, back to a concrete box with nothing to do but bark or sleep. It makes me want to cry and I’m not even the one who gets locked away as if I were an inmate who had committed a crime.

Obviously, the staff works hard (with help of interns and volunteers) to give all dogs attention. Quieter hours are often spent with some extra grooming, a walk off the shelter terrain or play time. It’s just not enough for most of them. It becomes a cycle quickly: a dog that is harder to handle stays in the shelter longer where he does not get enough training, enough attention and enough exercise. The dog becomes bored and starts acting out. Barks more, may become possessive of food, starts jumping, displays overly dominant behavior. Then, of course it becomes harder to adopt the dog out.

Anyway. Dogs love humans. They love you, reader. If you have some love to spare, please consider volunteering, fostering or adopting a shelter pooch. I promise it’ll make you filthy, sore and very, very happy.