Sunday, July 24, 2016

Three's Company Too

One week ago, my day started off pretty normal. I had volunteered to take a dog to PetSmart for an adoption event. So after some breakfast and pug lounging, I headed to the shelter. When I arrived, I asked which pup I was taking, and they said, "You're with Blackjack." He was a new guy. I walk into the "little dog" room to find him waiting in a small cage. After a bit of tussle trying to get on a harness and leash, we were on our way.

I noticed right away, under all of that hair, Blackjack looked a lot like my Jack. In fact, I used to keep Jack's hair long and wiry like Smoky's. Not that I particularly liked it, just because the thought of getting him a haircut never entered my mind. Soon, we arrived at PetSmart (if I remember correctly, with Blackjack in my lap) and after dodging this psychotic bird that kept swooping at us while I was trying to get BlackJack to go potty, we made a run for the door.

We settled inside the store with a few other dogs and a ton of cats, just waiting for someone to walk in the door within the next three hours to take them home. From the start, Blackjack wanted to lay on me, so I let him, and he basically proceeded to take a three hour nap. Which didn't bother me at all. People tend to not like a "lazy" dog, but I do. I can keep up much better with a couch potato than a wild child.

Many people came by and said, "He's so cute!" and asked questions about Blackjack. Most were looking at the cats or the adorable little Eleanor who was stealing the show. Or big girl Reagan who kept rolling over for belly rubs. But when it came to Blackjack, everyone passed. And deep down inside, I was glad.

The end of the day came, and I asked Becca, the HSYC director, if I could foster Blackjack. Since he had just arrived at the shelter a few days before, she suggested waiting a week to see if he got adopted. That's the moment I knew: I didn't want anyone else to have him. So I took him back to the shelter, hastily filled out an application and went home to pick up Pmo. He had to meet this dog. I was so flustered I even lost my keys for about ten minutes before I found them in a box of collars.

I think Perry liked Blackjack immediately, but he was worried about taking on another dog. Our foster experience with Max went well, but there were a few skirmishes, especially with Jack. And the four of us had grown to be pretty comfortable since Gizmo came into the picture. However, my mind was made up, and I wanted Pmo on board. He agreed, especially when he found out Blackjack was surrendered by his owner to animal control. So we moved onto the next step: setting up a "meet and greet" with our fur kids.

All morning/night/whatever-you-want-to-call-it at work, I couldn't stop thinking about Blackjack. I was dying to pick up the boys, get to the shelter and see how they all reacted. And it went just fine. Blackjack seemed a little possessive if he was sitting by me when Gizmo or Jack came up. But overall, everything was cool. I was told I would know something soon and we went home, without Blackjack.

Naps were in order at this point, so after some social media surfing, Gizmo and I passed out on the couch and Jack slipped off upstairs, like he does. I awoke in the afternoon, filled with anticipation. I was so excited I felt like I was waiting on a job offer or college acceptance letter. Then the call came: "I talked to Becca, everything checked out, we're going to waive the home visit and you can come get Blackjack!" I said, "Now?!?!" And I was out the door.

Pmo and I had been talking about names ever since we met Blackjack. I wasn't coming up with anything good. Then Pmo said, "Well, he looks like he came out of a chimney with the gray on his face. How about Smoky?" Worked for me. We were also calling him "Wolfie" for awhile, until he got his haircut and his wolfieness went away. 

It's been one week now, and we're working on a few assimilation issues, the biggest being attachment. When I leave for work at night and Pmo goes to bed, we can't have Smoky whining for me and not settling down. So I'm teaching Smoky to "stay" while I do other things and also leaving my clothes around the house so he picks up my smell when I'm gone. He's not too excited about the leash, but he will at least go for a walk. Smoky was not eating at all at the shelter, now his appetite is just fine. He's also not crazy about the pet taxi, which he'll have to get used to in order to take any trips with us. 

Right now, we're all on the couch. No, wait, Gizmo's on the recliner. But we do all fit on the sectional, thank God we got it. A king bed may have to be next. We plan to get Smoky his own name tag and leash today, plus take all the boys for a walk before the sun sets us on fire. 

There you have it. Even though we were perfectly happy with two sweet dogs, and we're outnumbered now, turns out three's company, too.

"Come and dance on our floor, take a step that is new
We've a lovable space that needs your face, three's company too"

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Find Your Good

I've never been much of an activist. I don't participate in protests. I'm not one for a sit-in. And God help me if I ever try to go on a hunger strike. Don't get me wrong, I have beliefs and principles. I'm just not that involved, and I doubt I will ever be that type of person. However, I have found my own way to "change the world", and in light of the hate spreading throughout our nation so rampant right now, I'm beginning to understand why it's not only good for the cause, it's good for me, too.

When there's a tragedy like a mass shooting, and people are trying to make sense of it, this quote from Mr. Rogers almost always starts circulating on social media. I know I've shared it a time or two.

In other words, find the good. I say, find YOUR good. Start with something to make yourself feel better, and the rest will follow. Whether you're going through a personal struggle, or you're tired of seeing all the violence in the news, giving your time on your terms is a easy way to bring what really matters into focus.

Again, don't get me wrong, I can lie around, play on my phone and watch TV for hours with the best of them, and not get off the couch for a whole weekend. With snacks and a pug, of course. And that's fine, sometimes you just need to do that. I'm a staunch supporter of "me time". But I think part of the reason I began going to the animal shelter this year was because I have all the "me time" I can stand since I work overnight. And there's only so much TV-watching, nap-taking, house-cleaning, errand-running, pool-sitting I can do before I start to feel like I'm just worthlessly killing time. Plus, I don't have any kids, and I don't see myself going down that path. That takes up a lot of time. That is a major contribution to society. So if I'm not doing that, what am I doing?

I found the HSYC online and read up on how to volunteer. The guidelines and instructions were super easy. I knew exactly what I could do, what was expected of me and how to go about it. I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do, and I could come at my leisure. Pretty soon, I was walking dogs a few days a week, even taking them to adoption events. And like I said, it does me just as much good as it does them. Especially when I've had a rough day at work.  Any worries seem to wander away, replaced by wagging tails and wet tongues.

Now I'm looking at other ways to donate my time. I've applied at CMS to help children learn how to read. Because I like to read. So far, I've received a clearance status as "unsupervised without driving". Whatever that means. I'm waiting to find out the next step. And, if for some reason that doesn't work out, or if I just really never want to be lazy again, I'm going to check out what I could do at the library to help out.

It really doesn't take a lot, and you can do it. Start small, with something you love. Why it never occurred to me before to volunteer at a humane society, I'll never know. For once in my life, I was looking for a way to get to know my community since I moved away from home. Which was odd. Normally, I prefer to mind my own business and keep to myself, being an introvert and all. But something about the CLT area made me not only want to explore my surroundings and what they had to offer, but also see what I could offer in return.   

So get out there. Find your good. For yourself and whatever cause you choose to back. There are so many different things you can do for non-profits. You don't have to work in a soup kitchen if you don't want to. Or if you do, go for it. We have something in CLT called Share Charlotte where you can find all the different charities, what they're about and how you can help. I'm sure there are similar organizations across the board that make it easy like that.

Alas, the time has come for me to bring this blog to an end. You see, I also volunteer as a pug snuggler. Now that's a demanding job.