The Baby and The Bathwater

I should be used to it by now. The knee jerk reactions that make it so difficult to really affect and effect change.  Somehow, we always end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater – despite our best intentions to do otherwise. And yet I find myself getting more and more irritated with stupidity.  Two great examples of this are the current hot button issues of gun control and dog ownership (particularly pit bull ownership).  Owning a gun and owning a dog carry many of the same responsibilities if you think about it.   You have to make sure your guns are well maintained (cleaned, oiled and stored properly), and you have to do the same for your dog (vet visits, shots, grooming etc) .  You have to make sure your dog is properly leashed or fenced in your yard, and you have to be sure your gun is stored safely and properly and the safety left on when not in use.

For some reason, we cannot seem to figure out a way to hold offenders accountable for their actions. For some reason, its easier to restrict the activities of the population at large than it is to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate criminal offenders.  I’ll use an example from the workplace.  Most workplaces have a dress code. Enforcing said code presents its own particular set of challenges that may or may not be quite humorous on occasion.  Like dealing with an employee who showed up to work in their jammies and couldn’t for the life of them figure out why they were being sent home – because they dress that way to go to the mall….. sigh.  Or, banning everyone from wearing sleeveless dresses, shirts or tops in the summertime because some of the men decided to cut off the sleeves of their t shirts and the gaping holes gave everyone a glimpse of nasty pit hair…. Instead of telling these guys they had to classy it up they just tell everyone – NO SLEEVELESS.  Baby. Bathwater…. and gone…..

So many people are negiligent when it comes to pet ownership and gun ownership.  Letting their dogs roam free to chase and bite people; leaving their guns out where children, toddlers, and flat out  crazy people can access them (with tragic results).  So what do we do?  Can I get a “Harrumph?” from you all? Because thats what we do. We get on our sanctimonious soapboxes and engage in inefficient hand-wringing – then we make ridiculous blanket laws that restrict and penalize mature,  RESPONSIBLE dog and firearm owners.  Look what just happened in Maryland with regard to pit bull ownership.  Look whats happening within the Gun Control Debate.  You only have to witness the political posturing to become really really annoyed. And I am. Annoyed. To the Max. I’m a centrist, basically. Common sense dictates we need reform -not blanket all or nothing restriction.  Nor do we need to jump into the Way Back Machine and head for the Wild Wild West.  Because we’re doing it again – throwing the baby out with the bathwater; instead of engaging in thoughtful dialogue and compromise to come up with solutions that work for the majority of responsible hard working Americans. Let me list a few ideas:

Brindle pit bull

Brindle pit bull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dogs –

1. If you want to own a pit bull you must register them for obedience classes and give a copy of the certificate to City Hall in addition to the rabies tag number when you get the dog licensed.  You must demonstrate re-certification of obedience training every 3-5 years. You must be a homeowner to own a pit bull, or have sufficient assets to cover a lawsuit if the dog injures someone. This goes for other breeds like Rottweilers, Pinschers, German Shepherds, Chows, Dalmatians, and Akitas too – since all these breeds have aggressiveness bred into them. There may be a few breeds I missed here feel free to add…

2. Dog owners already pay increased  homeowners premiums, (depending on the breed, and they may not even cover you if you have a banned breed)  but all dog owners should be required to submit proof of vaccination and licensing to their policy carriers.

3. All dogs should be required to be on leash or in a fenced in yard  when outdoors- subject to fine and/or seizure of the dog if non-compliant. Not all communities have leash laws, and those that do may only sporadically enforce them – doing so only after there is a problem.

4. Dog owners should be required to notify the public that there is a dog on their premises.

There’s probably more but that’s all I can think of right now. It comes down to common sense , really – Which ain’t quite as common as it should be, sadly enough.

219px-Weapons1                                             (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guns –

1. I’ve listed several things in other posts so I’ll just summarize here: Background checks for all sales.  Private sales should be illegal.  No actual possession of said  firearm by the buyer until a training course is completed and certification of the ability to use and store said firearm safely is on file with the gun seller, and the new gun owner’s insurance carrier. Yes I do think you should have to insure your guns. No sale to anyone with a history of mental illness ( improve those background checks) Your right to be bat-guano ga-ga does not supersede my right to keep breathing safely.  No sale to anyone who lives with a family member with mental illness. PERIOD. No sale to anyone under the age of 16.. Proof of age required to purchase. Possession of a firearm by anyone not carrying an FID card and proof of ownership should invite criminal charges for both the possessor and the registered owner. Magazine clip size should be limited. Modification kits – illegal.  If a tragedy does occur and the investigation reveals that the gun owner stored the firearm unsafely or improperly or knowingly allowed  someone other than themselves to use the firearm – then the gun owner should be held civilly and criminally responsible.

I understand this may not curb criminal activity or criminal’s access to firearms, but it will damn sure make it less likely that a toddler can pick up his fathers gun and kill a Tennessee Sherriff’s wife with it. And it will make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for idiots like Nancy Lanza to provide their mentally ill child with access to firepower.  I am in no way saying people should not have guns if they want them. But they need to assure those of us that don’t  they can own and use them responsibly.  SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY. And,  SAFETY.

It is a great privilege to own a firearm, and be a pet owner. Both carry great responsibility with them .  If we enforce the laws we already have on the books, that will help also. But if people start understanding that they are responsible for the safety of themselves and others and will be held ACCOUNTABLE by laws that make sense for the majority of people  – then perhaps that baby I’ve been talking about can go get toweled off, powdered, and re-diapered instead of floundering around in the mud. Rant concluded. Thank you, that is all  (for now)

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Emerging

Spring has been slow in arriving to New England this year. It’s been a long, cold,and damp March. But the last few days have given me hope. Bluebird Skies, Birdsong, Brisk Breezes. Yesterday I really felt like we were starting to emerge from winter. We opened the windows and let the fresh air blow through the house. Outside, I noted my day lilies are starting to peek up above ground; and the daffodils have started sending their shoots up for their April debut.

We opened up all the windows again this morning; and The Viking and I (who are child-free today) took our canine kids on a long walk. The wind was cold, but the sunshine felt so good on our faces. We walked on the dike along the Westfield River. There have been a lot of changes over the winter. Smaller islands, new channels. We saw Canadian geese and Mallard ducks on the water for the first time. The Viking informs me that a Bald Eagle has been spotted on the river recently – but we didn’t see it this time out. Liberty the Red-Tailed Hawk is still hanging around, but we didn’t see her either. I must remember to bring my DSLR camera on these meanderings!

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Sophie and Chewy had a marvelous time exploring along the walkway. Lots of new scents to investigate, and we noted glimpses of fresh green popping up here and there beneath the dry browns and beiges of the winter that doesn’t want to relinquish its grip on us entirely. In addition to the waterfowl, we also saw some cardinals, a few chickadees and a finch (I think it was a finch, anyway). Off in the distance we heard a woodpecker; who was busily looking for his lunch. We also saw quite a few robins. Does anyone remember that song “when the red red robin comes bob-bob-bobbin along”? I can’t get it out of my head now – hahaha!

Now I’m not a big fan of March. Its brown, dreary, drab, muddy, dirty and cold. But I do love seeing all that give way to the green and glorious spring. Especially after the beating we took from Old Man Winter this year. But we are slowly and surely emerging into the warmth of April. I could see it on the faces of the folks we passed on our travels today. Smiling, heads up, and facing into the wind (not hunkered down against it). The Viking didn’t even bring a coat – which he regretted before too long -this is New England after all… 😉

The sun seems to linger in the sky today. The neighborhood kids are out on their bikes. Their happy voices carry on the breeze thats vigorously moving my curtains. The mockingbird in the pine tree is chattering away and sounding like a cat at the moment. Two tired puppies are sprawled, snoring, at my feet. It feels good to emerge today. “Live, Love, Laugh, and Be Happy”. Time for a glass of wine.

Our Most Precious Posessions….

Precious Moments baby figurine

Precious Moments baby figurine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m usually quite garrulous but this afternoon I am somewhat at a loss for words – having read the news today (oh boy) about the two babies in Indiana that were left in their parents’ cars in this sweltering heat.  A 4 month old is dead, having been left in the car outside her grandparents home; and a 16 month old is struggling for her life after her “mother” (using that term loosely) left her in the car while she went clothes shopping. (yeah…. clothes shopping)     The temp in one car got over 125 degrees….  Its unconscionable – and I truly hope they lock up these “idjits” and throw away the keys.

My heart goes out to the rest of their families, but I have no sympathy for the perpetrators whatsoever.  If I think about this too much I will start to cry. I can feel it coming on now.  This happens every summer in the US somewhere.  I cannot imagine why or how anyone could forget that they have a baby in the back seat of their car.  No excuse is acceptable.  Becoming a parent is a priviledge.  I honestly think people should have to take a test and get certification before being allowed to reproduce.  They would have to score highly in the common sense category definitely.  And also achieve high scores in the empathy and sensitivity categories.   Why am I so indignant about this?  Pull up a seat.

First, my husband and I spent years going through infertility hell.  I would get my hopes up month after month only to have them broken, scattered, and stomped on.  I’ll have the full story later on in my “Tales from the Northland” series but suffice to say for now that it truly was 5 years of hell before our first baby came along. and more years – and a horrific miscarriage – in between the oldest and the youngest.  (There’s 6 years between the girls)  My husband got to the point where he wouldn’t let me watch the news in the evenings because if there was a story about child abuse or neglect I would become very emotional.  I could not, cannot fathom how anyone could abuse the privilege of child rearing.  I would have given my right arm to have had any of those children.  The Susan Smith case sent me over the edge – I cried on and off for days.

Secondly, it just offends my sensibilities as an intelligent adult that someone could be that frickin STUPID.  Seriously buddy, you FORGOT about your kid – your most precious possession,and YOU FORGOT they were in your car????? What kind of a wet brain does something so profoundly, stupidly horrible???  I prefer to believe they were forgotten rather than callously disregarded.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around the possibility that someone would leave a kid in a hot car and knowingly walk away.   I can’t say I don’t think there’s people out there who would do that though – I just prefer to not think about it and thereby sleep better at night.

How do we stop senseless tragedies like this?  No easy answers for sure.  In the case of the 4 month old both parents were teenagers. Not that I’m trying to pidgeonhole anyone but statistically speaking most teens are not the most responsible of people.  Most of them are still learning how to be responsible adults but they’re not there yet.  Watch “Teen Mom” if you don’t believe me….  Just another reason why smart teens should be practicing safe sex if they are going to be sexually active.   The mother in the other case with the 16 month old looks older  mid to late twenties perhaps.  Words fail me with this one, who doesn’t even have the sad sack excuse of teenage-hood to fall back on…

Best suggestions:

1. Get a baby sitter if you need to run errands or get out of the house for awhile.  Leave the baby at home with a responsible adult.

2. If someone other than who normally brings the child to day care is doing so, make sure the day care provider knows about the change in the usual routine, and make sure you, as the other parent, call the driver parent to make sure they drop off the child.

3. What about putting a small stuffed animal on the dashboard whenever there is a child in your car? Or some other tangible reminder that you have precious cargo on board.

4.  Be vigilant.  Don’t be afraid to glance into cars in parking lots as you are walking past them, especially in the hot weather.   You might possibly save a life.

5.  Of course,  don’t leave your pets in a hot car either – for all of the same reasons.

Please feel free to leave other suggestions and comments as always.

Peace, out.

Give Me The Simple Life

On Father’s Day it was quite sunny and humid here in the wilds of western Massachusetts. We took the dogs for a walk down to the river in the afternoon. Senor Fluffy Pants (aka Chewbacca) immediately bolted for the water when let off lead; then promptly sat down in the river, grinning from ear to ear. Ahhh a dog’s life! If only such simple things could make me happy (I’m workin on it)…. But  that’s one happy dog!  😉  Photo by: Brent Erickson

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Rescues

This one’s been sitting in my brain for a few days now; I originally just wanted to share about our pets – both living and those that have gone on to wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge – but every time I tried to write something I got verklempt and had to stop immediately. Couldn’t even think of a catchy title. But I’ve been getting signs all over the place today that tell me I need to write NOW, TODAY. Emails, conversations, pictures I ran across – so I’m gonna go about it another way and try not to get too emotional. (Unfortunately it didn’t work and I’m a hot mess right now.) But I will continue because this issue (pet adoption and rescue) is important to me. There will be more stories from the Pet Chronicles coming soon to a website near you…. but this is what started me down a slightly different path than I had first planned on: WARNING: Have Kleenex within reach.

“Before humans die, they leave behind their last will and testament – giving all they had to the loved ones they leave behind. If with my paws I could do the same thing- this is what I would ask…

To the poor and lonely stray… I’d give

  • My Happy Home
  • My bowl and cozy bed, and all my toys
  • The lap that I loved to sit in so much
  • The hands that stroked my fur and the sweet voices that spoke my name.

I’d will to the sad, scared shelter animal the place I had in my loving humans heart. A place that seemed to have no boundaries.

So when I die, please do not say ‘I will never have a pet again, for the loss and pain is more than I can stand’.

Instead, go find an unloved pet – one whose life has held no joy or hope – and give MY place to THEM.

For this is the only thing I can give – the love I leave behind.”

~Author Unknown

I guess it kinda goes without saying I needed that Kleenex just to proofread that one. All of our pets have been rescues of one kind or another. Cats we agreed to take care of temporarily and whose owners wouldn’t take them back, the puppy whose nose was scarred (we named him Capone) and who again nobody else wanted. Our lady greyhound Miss Nellie (aka Miss Boo), – with her scarred hindquarters from a gate injury in her racing days. Our epileptic lab Sophie – Doofus McSniff The Chocolate Moose; and Chewbacca – who wasn’t getting along so well with his 1st mama’s younger dogs. (but was in no danger of being left on his own or put in a shelter) Chewy came into our lives literally right before Nellie passed on -via my older daughter’s boyfriend. Chewy was his dog when he lived at home. That’s the Chewch with me on my “About Me” page. Mr. Snuggles. Senor Fluffy Pants. We rarely call our pets by their actual names here at Casa Del Chaos – in case you didn’t notice.

I have funny stories about each of them – too many to share them all now. I’ll save the ferrets (the little devils!) for another time. Capone – who loved my oldest baby so much that he would take her diapers out of the trash, pile them up and just lie on them. ( Eww I know, right? But he never did anything other than lie down on them) Sophie our resident medicine puppy. She always knows when we’re sick and lies down on our feet. And Nellie – I really want to talk about her. Deep breath – here goes…

We adopted her through a greyhound rescue organization when she was 3 and we had her the longest of any of our pets. Our graceful, sweet brindle girl. Greys aren’t normally barkers, but Nellie took her guard duties seriously. And, she could still make it to the fence in under 3 seconds even when she was older. Faster than a “speeding anything except a cheetah” – you betcha! That dog was a beautiful sight when she ran. The girls had rabbits at one point and Nellie kind of reverse imprinted on them. She thought she was their mama and whenever they were in the back yard she would try to herd them. A greyhound who herds rabbits?? Only at my crazy house. She also made a great reindeer with some fake antlers at Christmastime. Nellie flew solo as the family pet for several years and then we got the Soph to keep her company. One winter evening we let the dogs out only to see them stopped dead at the fence. When we went a little closer we saw a very large (read: wolf size) lone coyote on the other side of the fence. And there were Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber – happily clueless, tails wagging as if to say ” Hey wanna come in and play?” I about had a heart attack, and certainly had a conniption – as we frantically yelled and gestured to get them back safely inside – and shoo Wile E. away from a potential meal or three.

We had Nell up till last November. She was 15 -ancient for a greyhound (so our vet says). It happened fast. It seemed like one day she was elderly but OK, & the next she couldn’t get up even with support. My husband had to carry her outside to do her business and it was obvious she was in pain. There was no “decision” to make as a responsible pet owner. It was time. It really really sucks being responsible sometimes. The worst part for me was actually Sophie. She was literally screaming as we brought Miss Boo to the car. I think she knew, and I never want to hear a sound like that again -ever. Please and thank you Lord. Painful and heartbreaking – yes without a doubt. But no one in my family would trade even a minute of the time we had with Nellie (or any of the others who wait at that Bridge) for all the tea in China. Great stories and memories made -bringing laughter and unconditional love. All because we rescued a pet. I highly recommend it -despite the tears (or maybe because of them).

"Nellie Hugs"

 

What Chewy Did

The two dogs compete for our attention a lot. If I’m scritching a forehead, the other forehead shows up for its fair share. Señor Fluffy Pants and the Chocolate Moose – aka Chewbacca and Sophie; they’re cute. Border Collie mix and chocolate lab – canine definitions of adorableness. But the sibling rivalry gets a bit much sometimes.

Sophie has epilepsy. Generally its pretty well controlled with the meds but yesterday she had a short breakthrough seizure. I work in human services and see people having seizures all the time so I’m used to that; but there’s few things more heartbreaking than watching your dog have a full blown grand mal.

So I sat with her and comforted her. Usually if I’m petting Soph then Chewch has to come over and get between us. He did get up, but instead of inserting himself between me and Sophie, he very gently laid his head on hers. Dogs know, they just know. He got an extra treat last night, jussayin….