Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chapters end.

Back to the dark ages of posting directly to blogger since Windows Live Writer no longer on speaking terms. Side question, if I allow myself seduced into upgrading to Windows 10 on my desktop is there detente?

"He's a mean drunk, I'll say that for him." Dr. Carlson eyed us wryly. "Once we get him out of his kennel, he's fine but he fights us tooth, claw and nail while he's in there!"

Deucie was three. He and Zan had wandered off our 14 acres because that's obviously not to enough to hold the interest of a dog when there is a construction site right across the road. Something over there leaked antifreeze and he came home staggering, sick as a . . .

The sweet odor and inebriated wallering told me immediately what I was looking at, an almost dead dog walking.

Not the first time. Deucie'd been born dead so I guess he was kind of used to the condition. Arron had rubbed and breathed life into the tiny cold body. He was the last of five puppies we could get out of their dying momma.

With all this dying going on, you might wonder if I should ever own a dog. The vet who put Deucie down yesterday was the first person in ten years to give me absolution for the mistake of first breeding my adorable but mongrel bitch to her equally adorable and mongrel unwed boyfriend.

And, not getting an ultrasound though her tiny body bulged like she'd swallowed a watermelon. Mares, I know something about. I used to have a very good idea if they were carrying correctly and I was never too far off on the arrival dates of the young ones.

All I knew for sure about dogs is that we are over populated with them therefore they must birthe relatively easy. That's probably true of most. It wasn't for mine.

So, anyway Deucie. We hand raised those little beasts. Lost a blue girl who looked like her momma to something that acted like Parvo, tested negative but they treated her for it anyway. She'd had the first puppy shot she was eligible for, I'm not THAT neglectful and no other dog got it. Cost me over a thousand $$ and a lost pup  . . .

Everyone else found homes. Arron wanted to keep the black runt. Heartbroken over the loss of my home girl and then her little daughter, my numb heart did not care one way or the other.

He grew up with a minimum of training, we thought he was too weird and neurotic to learn much. Boy, did we miss the call on that one. Almost but not quite too late.

I raised Quarter Ponies on that spread along with keeping some head of for sale or trade stock and a penful of training horses. The dogs hung out. I was watchful that they minded themselves around the horses as best I could They'd run through the pens at will and one day I look up and there's Deucie running hellbent for leather toward Chica, my boss of bosses mare.

He approaches from the side at a dead run, grabs a jawful of long thick black tail and goes swinging wildly from side to side.

"DEUCIE NOOO!!" Top of my lungs screams affects not horse or dog. She pins her ears in an annoyed but not murderous way, lifts a threatening "that's enough now" hind foot. He drops off, runs away grinning like a mad fool.

What? Have they done this before? Oh yeah, says Arron. He does it all the time. All the horses but mostly Chica. I yell at the little shit but he doesn't pay any attention to me.

It was until he earned the name Three Tooth Deuce from someone losing patience with the game that he finally quit. Had nothing to do with the pain or danger of getting a tooth knocked out of his head. Dog simply could not get as good a grip anymore and the good tail swinging times were over.

If you ride with Axel and I, my blue eyed blue merle border collie, you may notice he's not allowed to cross fencelines of any kind. The way to stop bad habits is to not let them start in the first place.

When we gave up the place and moved to town I was worried most about how Deuce would handle the transition, Claustrophobic to the point of sometimes losing his tiny mind and not super interested in people outside his immediate family (Arron) I didn't know how he'd take to the sights, sounds and proximity of so darned many people. Turns out it was me that had the problem with that.

Moving into our city duplex I am trying to keep eyes on dogs, husky young men moving boxes of fragile and or necessary things never to be found again and I did not have enough eyes for the job. There were a couple kids running around too and I thought sure Deucie'd bite one before it was all over.

I finally find him in the stone walled fireplace room laying over backwards getting his tummy rubbed by said unbitten child. Well, okay then.

Everything we ever asked of him, including me giggling my silly ass off encouraging him to "bite daddy's face, arrrrgh, arrrgh, arrrgh!" he'd come through with flying colors. He learned to walk on a harness when he was eight years old as his little bullet head could slide backwards out of any collar. After a couple gymnastic panics, he decided the leash, harness and walks were good things. Learned a lot quicker than Axel who still thinks leashes are highest of baloney insults.

We took him to camp last year first time ever when we couldn't find a dog sitter. Now we have strange environments, dogs and a LOT of people who are going to want to stop by and rub a doggie head. He ate it up. He pottied on his leash which he'd never had to do before in his life. Nine years old.

Doc Carlsen pulled him through the antifreeze poisoning incident. He said then no way to tell how much damage the organs had suffered or how long we'd get to keep the little guy around, Seven more years. He outlived his buddies, Zan and Cesaer. Was entirely peeved at Axel's arrival, never really got over that. Thought Kisses a cute pain in the behind but you know, a girl so . . . neutered or not, he knew what girls were. Mean drunk like his momma and well, the girls, daddy?

When things started going wrong for him this summer I paid what I consider my karmic debts to JD, Ozzie, Indigo and Zan. I did so many things wrong with and for those dogs. I didn't know grocery store dog food had turned mostly poisonous, fed my dogs cheap whatever's on sale garbage til Ozzie almost died of food allergies. Zan taught me to either build tight fences or not take your eyes off your best dog for even five minutes,

We took Deucie to the best recommended vet we knew about. They did a crazy hail Mary surgery to reroute his urethra and when we had to take him back a couple months later to have the ungodly painful crystals flushed again, I knew we were in big trouble.

He quit eating. The stuff the vet said would save his life he wouldn't even look at. Wholistic dog food costing more than our week's grocery budget interested him for a minute. When force feeding resulted in it being ejected at both ends that was it. He was so tired.

The goofy bouncy guy who could jump high enough to nip my elbow evading my side kick correction with ease was gone. He stopped going upstairs to sleep with us.

There comes a point when you consider your options and you have to decide whose interests you are operating in. Your animal who looks at you out of huge trusting suffering eyes or your own, sparing yourself a hard reality? Time is finite for us all. I've stood beside two women burying their human children and I will not tell you my grief compares to theirs. It does not.

It is real. A physical aching in my heart, a nausea in the pit of my stomach. A chapter ended. I always think I am prepared for that. I never am.

Rest in peace, Deucie dog. See ya at the Bridge.

Friday, December 11, 2015

God & Dish Soap

When I got sober some decades ago my sponsor, Martha, told me a lot of God was to be found in dish soap. What she was saying to me was that my defense against my over active self destructive brain was to get busy and be where my hands were along with some other things that are particular to the recovery process.

Oh no, you groan. Another philosophical blog that’s going to take her 500 words to even mention the word “horse.”

Hah! Not so, my friend. This is what a horsewoman does to maintain her sanity when she can’t ride, can’t truck around on slippery slopes and as her Ortho guy says sternly “must avoid wrestling heavy animals.” You look back, take stock of what’s gone by and make a plan for tomorrow. Paradoxically you stay in today by getting yourself busy and staying where your hands are instead of any one of a million places your brain wants to take you. If you can find a way to get out of yourself and help somebody else, more the better.

I find allowing others to help me a much tougher pill to swallow. My friend Nancy finally convinced me to quit avoiding the barn and I went to see my friends and good horse last night. The green one had to stay put for now. My theory is that our new dog weighs a lot more on her leash than does Royal on the end of his line. True fact.

I stayed a short bittersweet time. Did what I could and Royal did whatever I asked, sweetly, politely and no more weight than the lead line itself. We will eventually be okay again. Shaggy Dressage Show in April my goal to be back and fully up and running. Maybe Huckleberry goes in for Western dressage, we will see.

There’s a lot of gratification to be found in vacuuming too, even if you cheat and vacuum around things that would be easy to move. Arron brought the machines upstairs for me as neither my knee nor wrist would have approved. While I transformed the carpet into something I’d walk on barefoot, I thought about some of those moments a little over 30 years ago.

I thought about hitting my knees one time and praying to a god I didn’t understand, couldn’t define and wasn’t entirely sure I trusted. Belief? Yes, I’d grown up in weekly Sunday School, gone to church every week, all that. I never felt much from any of the stories though sometimes the songs affected something deep inside, and when the sun streamed through the stained glass window it gave a beauty far beyond earthly.

I knew those people had found something that rang true to their souls. I found That out on top of sunlit ridges, one with my pony and what I knew was surely a Creation beyond my ken.

I asked that feeling, that Spirit to help me become a right kind of human being. It was really all I had ever wanted. As a small child I was raised by older people not my parents. I had no way of knowing then that people see through a glass only darkly and that it’s heavily stained by their personal experiences and frames of references.

I was often accused of and in trouble for behavior I didn’t even really know what it was until I was a lot older and decided if I were going to wear a name, I’d show them how the game was played.

The Power a lot of you call God kept placing people in my life that taught me better ways to live and to think and so the internal battles began.

The older I got the more decided I became to take the right hand path no matter what. Didn’t always happen like that, habits die hard and fear breeds desperation. You do what you think you have to do to survive. As I got further into my career as a horse trader, I worked very hard to do the right things by my horses and the humans that wrote the checks for them. I would become vehemently angry if someone cast aspersions (real or imagined) on my choice of profession or the horses I had for sale.

My partner, Walt and I, would often saddle a horse ahead of time, ride it some hoping to show you it’s best side rather than it’s freshest. You’d show up to seeing it being ridden by my little kids. I thought that was a good way for me to indicate the level of trust I had in the pony.

Later, you would come to my place and see it caught farm fresh but we did what we knew at the time. We sent a lot of semi decent horses that we thought would be too much for our backyard riders to nearby sales and once in a while when we found a real scamp on our hands, he went somewhere far far away.

I’d ride them through, I know most every trick there is for making something look at least sort of broke that isn’t. I’d sing out loud and clear “Not for kids or beginners, you guys. The rest of you, stand up and bid. What you see is what you get.” My thought at the time if you couldn’t see how I’d wait til he decided to turn and then pick up the rein like it was my idea you had no business buying at a horse sale. Or, that I never asked that one to back up, or this one never turned right. Ever.

I moved away from sale barn horses and started getting them from traders I knew. I’d take them on consignment, look them over carefully at their place and make it plain, he doesn’t work out at my house, you are coming to get your rascal, your time, your fuel. A couple of those, they got more careful about what they had me drive to come see.

I sold some awfully nice horses out of my place in Sioux City and I am proud of how I did business there. For the most part. I had us in so far over our heads with finances and work to be done there was no seeing daylight. Sometimes it overwhelmed me so much I couldn’t get out of my house. Every day in there, I’d look out the window at the training horses gathering dust but no miles, the for sale horses eating away their profit by the minute and my own far too large personal herd staying evergreen or not even that far.

The guilt and shame would pile up into bricks too high to see over. I didn’t charge for what I didn’t do. You can’t make money like that and some of you got back horses that didn’t ride like your friends’ that I’d also put time on. It was a bit of a crap shoot for us all.

Part of being a right kind of human being is knowing when to cut your losses. I won't try to pretend I let go of that place gracefully and I’ve already talked about leaving there, having things fall apart in Omaha shortly after our arrival, having to put Jack down and disperse my beloved herd.

Those were hard times and they were dues owed and now paid. I’m careful, these days. I watch the promises that come out of my mouth. Flying by the seat of my pants isn’t near the rush it used to be and has cost too many too much.

Sitting here in our beloved new old house surrounded by dogs I can afford to feed well and take care of their vetinary needs, I know I have made good decisions for quite awhile. I’m surrounded by quality people that I love, respect and admire.

Some things went wrong when I crashed off Royal in September but I’m minding my knitting and taking care of business. I still have my job. I’ve been on leave awhile and it’s scary because I think, what if they decide they can’t wait any longer for me to heal, won’t accommodate my needs as I get back up to speed? I don’t have a solid answer for that. So far my leave is still protected and my HR department is giving me good advice to wait and not set myself up for failure by returning too soon.

Money is tight and that’s an old trigger for me. I promote a vitamin program, Thrive by Le-Vel. Once again I get really angry when I am or think I am being accused of being a snake oil salesman. Trust me. I have the knowledge and the ability. I’ve been around the best. It ceased to be my choice over 20 years ago.

I work for Pacific Life not just because they pay well (wanna see my resume? I’ve had more than one of these) but also because the work I do brings relief to people in hard times (for the most part, not our job to weed out the charlatans and they are everywhere). I promote Thrive because of what it’s done for me and those around me. I am a hard core skeptic. I’ve met the man behind the curtain and I know more about smoke, mirrors and the “show” than most.

Therefore I rather unreasonably expect you to know that I know the difference and when I say a thing is so, you can take it straight to the bank. I will tell you the financial relief provided by my side gig has been very sweet. As is my new car, which Le-vel and my good old red truck pay for but if the deal were not real it would be in my rear view along with a thousand other kinda or completely dirty tricks I know.

Which brings us to this day. Unseasonably warm for December. Can’t ride or do effective groundwork. Can’t shop, online or otherwise. Sick to death of TV. So, what do I do?

I remember God is found in dish soap, or if you are in a cast and can’t do dishes, grab the vacuum. or the dust cloth. or sit down at a keyboard and find out if you can use the awkward thing to type at all. Be real. Be who you are. Your vibe attracts your tribe. I’d rather be disliked for what I really am than adored for the face I could show you.