Posted on May 22, 2012
I am late for work. Today it seems I am late for many things. Late. The word bounces around in my head. I am numb.
I climb into my car, roll down the window and start my music. The Pet Shop Boys song Miracles fills my ears. No miracles for me today. I am on automatic pilot. I drive without seeing. I make my way through the familiar streets. I am numb.
The next song is The Promise by Tracy Chapman. One of my favorites. As I listen I am overcome with emotion. A single tear escapes my eye. Before I can wipe it away the floodgates open.
Little Red. That’s what I call him. A tiny little pup, so scared in the shelter. I met him three times. Each time he was in the same position—curled up in a ball, head pressed against his paws. He never moves.
I cannot get him out of my mind. I send his photo to my rescue contacts. I talk to my friend Yaiza to see if she has room. Everyone working together trying to find a place for this sweet boy who, for the moment has known nothing but sadness and fear in his young life.
His face fills my thoughts. His sad eyes. His tiny shaking body. In a split second I make a decision. I do not care that there is no rescue to back him. I do not care that there is no place for him to go yet. I decide that I will take him anyway. Almost as soon as I decide to go for it, Yaiza calls me. She cannot get him out of her mind either.
I email my contact at the shelter to start the ball moving. I am filled with purpose. I am excited to see Little Red take his first sniff of freedom. He does not know it yet, but his life will be one of joy and love.
My phone rings. I answer. It is the shelter. He wants to talk to me voice to voice. Impound number 4426472. Little Red. The boy who never knew love is gone. I am too late. Fifteen hours too late. My early indecision has cost him his life. I have failed him. Late. Numb. Failed. The words fill my head.
My heart is open and the sadness I feel cannot be ignored anymore. I have not let it touch me since I started going to the shelter. I knew if I started there was a huge possibility I would not be able to stop. Turns out I was right.
I am late for work. Silent tears roll down my face. My vision is blurred. Tracy continues to sing of the promise she made to someone special. The words I hear make me think of Little Red. I play it again. And again.
“If you wait for me, then I’ll come for you. I’ll return and fill that space in your heart. I’ll find my way back to you. If you’ll be waiting. If you dream of me, like I dream of you. In a place that’s warm and dark. In a place where I can feel the beating of your heart. To see your face, your smile. To be with you where ever you are. Remembering…You can make a promise. If it’s one that you can keep.”
I didn’t keep my promise. Little Red waited and I never came. I was too late. If only. If only. Those words will haunt me forever, I think.
The only thing I can do is let the tears run their course. They do. Eventually. I am left with a hole in my heart—a hole that may not ever be filled. But, one thing is certain, Little Red will never be forgotten. He will be in my heart when I go back to the shelter. His death will not be in vain. And next time, I hope that all my promises can be kept.
Posted on May 22, 2012
What a great group! What a night. The bands. The people. Of course the dogs. Thank you Rene for asking me to photograph your event. It was a blast. If you don’t know about Rock and Rescue you are missing out! They know how to put on a show so don’t miss their next event.
Turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy the show!
Posted on May 21, 2012
The Italians have done it again. What a fantastic week of events. Good food, good wine and lots of happy people. If you missed Viva Vino this year, make sure you go next year. Get on their mailing list so you don’t miss it! All the details here.
Posted on May 20, 2012
Turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy a beautiful day.
Posted on May 13, 2012
Turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy!
Posted on May 13, 2012
Finally! The extended family sneak peek. Happy Mom’s Day everyone! And if you’re on FB feel free to tag yourselves over there.
Posted on May 13, 2012
I am a fly on the wall. I am mute yet want to say so many things. I am blind and yet I see all. My hearing is accute. Every detail is magnified. I am in the lobby, number in hand, waiting patiently for my turn. Every word I hear is like a dagger to my soul. To my right is a man.
“We took her to the vet. There’s nothing they can do. She’s old. Can’t see. Can’t hear.”
The questions in my mind are swirling around. All of them answered eventually. Except one. Why? How can a person live with a cat since she’s a kitten and then when she is dying bring her to the shelter to do it alone?
He signs the paperwork. A shelter worker is paged on the loudspeaker.
“Intake in the parking lot. Senior cat. Owner surrender.”
In the next breath, the older gentleman tells the front desk attentendant they have a new kitten. I close my eyes. Regain my composure. I can’t let the saddess inside me turn to rage. It takes every ounce of my will.
To my left two women and a child.
“I got him here last year sometime. I don’t want him anymore. He sheds. I want one that doesn’t. Do I have to pay the fee again?”
Behind me just voices. The words are the same. Over and over until they all just blur together. It’s saturday. The same as the last three I’ve been here. Still my question remains unanswered. Why?
I walk through the kennels like I have so many times before. I am bombarded with the sounds of dogs. Barking. Crying. Whining. Screaming for attention. Guarding their space. Making their presence known.
I stop at each cage. Offer a treat. Talk to them quietly. Offer my hand for a sniff. Some don’t take even a second to bound up to the gate. To drink in my attention. They are starved. I prepare to move on. I pull my hand away. They whine. They scratch at the bars. They paw at the cement floor. I close my heart. I have to.
I go to the next kennel. This one is so terrified he won’t even look at me. I throw a treat his way. His nose starts to twitch. He lifts his head and starts to get up. We make eye contact. He cowers. Curls tighter in a ball. I speak to him in a whisper. He starts to shake. I stand there another second, trying to find a way to connect, to make him feel safe. There is nothing I can do. I have failed.
Row after row. Cage after cage. The next a little harder than the last. With each cage I close my heart a little more. I have to.
I see Rosey again. It’s not her name. She has none. But it’s what I call her. She is gorgeous. And so young. I know I can’t take her out of the cage. She is a pit bull. I can’t say hello. I pass her by. I have to.
I make my way through all the buildings. I look carefully at each dog. I have to chose who I will take out on a meeting pass. I have learned the rules. I don’t like them. But I play by them. I have to.
I write down the numbers. Walk back to the lobby. Take a number. I wait again. More words from people I don’t know. This time I try and shut them out. But I can’t. I absorb it all.
Three of the dogs I want to meet have been placed on hold by a rescue. My heart is filled with happiness. They have found a way out. They don’t need me. I am grateful.
I am meeting the big Great Dane mix. The stir crazy doberman mix. And the baby boy I met yesterday. The lady behind the desk looks at her screen.
“You saw him yesterday?”
I feel put on the spot. Did I break an unknown rule? I answer the only way I can.
“Why?” she asks.
“Because I love him.”
This made her laugh.
But I do. I love them all.
She is a very nice woman. I’ve met her many times. She told me a little about herself on my last visit. She said that working there has made her appreciate all God’s creatures.
When she started at the shelter she didn’t really like animals. On her first day she got a call from a man that was crying. She thought he was crazy. She couldn’t understand him through his tears. When she found out his dog had been hit by a car she was dumbfounded.
She said to him, “It’s just a dog. We got a bunch down here. Come get another.”
I guess things like that helped to change her mind over the years. And seeing the dogs and cats that come into the shelter. We are so different. But she has been changed a little bit. It’s a big step, however small it may seem. I like her. And she seems to like me.
The Dane is a sad, sad soul. He came in a stray. He’s so terrified he flattens himself to the ground when the worker enters the kennel. She tries to coax him with hot dogs. He inches his way out. It’s as far as he will go. His fear won’t allow him. I can still see his face. It breaks my heart.
Next is the Doberman and the shepherd pup . They love their time out of the cage. So do I.
As I’m getting ready to leave, I think of all the dogs that can’t be taken out of their cages. The ones that I come here for most. I make one more round and dole out treats and some love. My last stop is to see Rosey. She reminds me of the white pit I met on my very first day. He never made it out of the shelter.
I spend about twenty minutes with her. She craves love. She is sometimes unsure about me. But she can’t resist my hand. I can only put it through the bars a little bit. She presses her face against it. She licks my fingers. My face. I lay down on the floor and talk to her. She rolls over for a belly run. I can’t reach her. She scratches at my hand trying to bring more of my arm close to her. The cage is in the way. I stay as long as I can. When I get up to leave she follows me with her eyes. I close my heart and turn away. I have to.
Posted on May 9, 2012
Posted on May 6, 2012
Posted on May 5, 2012
HeARTs Speak theme this week is Hero.
I’ve been lucky to meet a true hero…live, in person.
In Los Angeles he is a bit controversial…I’m not sure why. His main goal is to help the underdog. I guess his choice of underdog is what makes some people shake their heads and wonder what is wrong with him. I am not one of those folks.
I have admired him from a far for years. I’ve seen his photographs. In fact, many of those images have made me cry. But not until I met and talked to him did I truly understand the depths of his love for his favorite underdog. The pit bull. His inspiration came from a dog name Sway.
When he talks about Sway, he is filled with emotion. His connection with that beautiful pit bull changed his life.
He says of his beloved best friend, “She taught me an endless amount about myself–about life and how to live it, about love, about compassion, about responsibility, and the list goes on and on, quite literally forever…”
Sadly, Sway passed away from an auto-immune disease. But her legacy lives on. Josh is making sure of it. In her memory, in honor of her, Josh goes into shelters all over Los Angeles and photographs the pit bulls that live there. He works tirelessly to change the public perception of these dogs.
“During the 8+ years that Sway was here with me I spent every minute being her advocate–and with that, observing the different actions and reactions of others any time her “breed/type” was brought up within a social setting.These current realities burn in my gut. They get under my skin and they make my heart hurt–because I know the realities, and I see this for what it is–a national extermination.
What do you do with that? Do you just sit in your corner and wait until that shadow is on top of your world? Or do you at some point stand up and make it clear that this witch-hunt is wrong? You don’t have to have Pit Bulls yourself to come to this conclusion… Just have some compassion and an appreciation for common sense.” (Words from his website. If you haven’t already seen it, you should.)
Sounds right to me.
And so, to me, Josh is the real McCoy. A true hero. If pit bulls could talk I bet they’d agree.
Josh says, “One thing is abundantly clear though, and that’s that they sure do need and deserve any help they can get, and I personally owe my life and energy to making this planet a better place for them to live.”