Who rescues who or is it whom

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 11, 2015 9:57 PM

We went to a local event today called Adopt Local Adopt Love. It was a mega pet adoption: dogs, cats, reptiles. Though I still can’t fathom a reptile as a pet. We did see one guy there with an enormous snake draped around his neck and shoulders like a scarf. It was bright yellow and while, and looked like a boa constrictor, but like no boa I’ve ever seen before.

We weren’t entirely sure why we were there. We lost our precious Cooper only two weeks ago, and it seems too early to get another. And yet, we are so hopelessly lost without him. The house needs a dog, maybe two. And so we went.

There were mobs of people – which I was glad to see. Not nearly as many animals for adoption as I thought there would be. There was an area for cats, which we didn’t go into. There was an area for dogs, which we did. But the amount of dogs was relatively small. I expected the place to be crawling with paws. There were a lot of small dogs, many pit bulls, and a number of greyhounds. There’s still a dog racing park here in Tucson, much to my disgust. I suspect greyhound rescue is big here for that reason.

We happened by a booth for Border Collie rescues, and there was an older dog there named Jackson. He was about 10, or so they estimated. He was gentle and mellow. Just a lovely dog. We were infatuated. We visited with him in the booth as he lay on the floor. We gave him treats. Eventually we moved on. We looked at smaller dogs; we tried to like them. They were cute. But we’re not small dog people.

Like having a type with people, we have a type with dogs. Medium to large, about 50 to 70 pounds, with lots of long fur, nice “pants” and floppy ears. Golden retrievers, Australian shepherds, border collies. We like herders.


We found ourselves back looking for Jackson. He was outside taking a potty break so we went out to see him in a different environment. He was with other dogs, and fine. His foster mom, Jennifer, stopped again to talk to us. Kevin took the leash and they went for a short walk. He was perfect on a leash, trotting easily alongside, never pulling.

But he’s 10. Do we want to rescue a dog who’s that old? Why not? We rescued Cooper at 6 and we only had him 2 plus years. Who’s to say that an old guy like Jackson wouldn’t live another five years, like Maguire?

The fact is, you never know how long someone – human or animal – is going to be with you. You just make the most of the time you have, and always hope for the most.

Rescues break your heart in a thousand ways. Like not knowing what their past was. They think Jackson had been with a family at some point. He is house trained, he has manners. Did they abandon him? With Cooper, we knew his original family gave him up when they decided to have a baby. But we don’t know anything else. With Maguire, he was a puppy. They told us he’d been found in Oak Park. We couldn’t imagine anyone finding him and not keeping him. But people are weird; people suck.

Rescues break your heart while asking you to love them. And we do. We fall in love every time. And when they leave, we are devastated. It’s the price you pay for loving. But for the time we have them, we always wonder: who rescued who or whom?

We haven’t decided what to do about Jackson. We have time. Not too many people rescue older animals. But he has already re-broken our already broken hearts. So who would be rescuing whom?

At the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, February 17, 2015 8:57 PM

The city of San Francisco is built on a hill so that it often appears to be rising out of the fog. Its streets are steep and treacherous, its people all seeming to still have a bit of the Haight inside. The Haight is Haight-Ashbury, the notorious drug scene at the intersection of the 1960s and 70s. It’s a liberal bastion, this city, but also historical and stunning. Situated on the Bay across from its nastier cousin Oakland, San Francisco is home to high finance and technology, rich cultures of art and food, and the fog. The north shore of the city, in Pacific Heights, is where the famed Fisherman’s Wharf is. Fresh seafood comes in daily and it is exquisite. Off the coast and to the east is Treasure Island, to the west is the famed Alcatraz prison, now a tourist spot. Further still to the west is the arching Golden Gate, crossing the entrance to the Pacific.

In the middle, tucked between highways 80 and 101, on the Bay side, is Union Square, one of the world’s premier shopping districts with a huge collection of retail stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and salons. And in the middle of Union Square, near where the cable cars run, at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell is a Macy’s Department Store. To most, it’s a typical Macy’s, with numerous floors filled with fairly nice merchandise for women, men and children. There are shoes and jewelry and perfume counters. There is makeup and skin care. It’s a nice store, and it definitely occupies prime real estate in the area that first came to be known because of the pro-Union rallies held before and during the Civil War.

At Christmas time, it is decorated like all department stores. Santa has a North Pole office where he sees children. And it has the most glorious window displays in the country, at least to me.

Now I realize there are still 310 days until Christmas, according to the Christmas clock but I’m already counting and here’s why: dogs and cats, puppies and kittens.

For the past 28 years (this will be the 29th annual), the Macy’s holiday windows for the Christmas season feature homeless animals who need to be adopted. Each year, for nearly three decades, the Union Square Macy’s teams up with the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to feature dogs, puppies, cats and kittens at play and taking well-deserved naps in holiday-themed windows. Each year the theme changes, but the windows always incorporate animals. The spaces are temperature controlled and safe, and give plenty of opportunity for window watchers to watch. SPCA volunteers are also on hand to answer any questions, and to monitor the hopeful pets. They’re also rotated frequently. Any animal not adopted during the day goes back to their bed at the no-kill shelter for the night.

The tradition began in 1986 when Gump’s Department Store was the first to offer pet adoptions at the holidays. Soon after Macy’s – the flagship store of Macy’s West and in San Francisco since 1866 – and the SPCA began teaming up for the holidays. To date, they’ve adopted more than 4,000 animals, 343 last year alone. They also raised over $100,000 in donations. The long-term goal is to generate enough support and education to help end animal abandonment in the city by 2020.

I didn’t know any of this until today when I stumbled on the story. I love San Francisco – it’s one of my top two cities in the country, along with Chicago – but when Kevin and I go, we don’t tend to do a lot of shopping. Instead, we walk and we go to galleries and great restaurants. Knowing this about Macy’s makes me want to shop there. The fact that it’s one of my favorite places in the country is also a plus. Maybe next year at Christmas, you’ll find us at the corner of Stockton and O’Farrell. Maybe we should book our trip now. After all, there are only 310 days left.

In which Cooper gets a new guy

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 22, 2014 11:42 PM

Our Cooper suffers from major anxiety issues. We were told he was a bit hi-strung and that’s because he’s part Border Collie. I get that. My sister’s dog is part Border Collie and she’s a bit of a nut, especially when there is a thunder storm or fireworks. Interestingly, Cooper is not the least bit bothered by either. Thunder rolls through or claps loudly to a lightning strike and he barely acknowledges it. Fireworks and firecrackers seem to simply annoy him but don’t they everyone?

Sometimes an unexpected loud bang like me dropping something on the floor will elicit a reaction. It varies from raising his head in annoyance to jumping up to get out of the way because he’s certain a bear is headed for him.

In the house, as long as we’re both here which we usually are, he’s fine. He plays with his toys – his guys – dragging them first from the bedroom into my office, one by one, and then at night, from my office to the great room, again one by one. Surrounded by his guys he seems calm.

Except when the UPS man comes into the neighborhood and then there is chaos and mayhem. Wild barking ensues. Barking that is nearly uncontrollable. Barking that blows him off the floor because of the energy exerted. Barking that doesn’t stop until I grab his collar and pull him to face me saying in my calmest voice “quiet” over and over and over again. There is no quiet, His eyes strain to the side. He must keep a vigilant watch. Did you see who it is, mom? It’s that dastardly UPS man and I’m sure he’s coming to get me! Get us!

He is my constant shadow. If he could be surgically attached to me so as to know where I am at every given moment of the day and night, he would be. I can’t leave the room without him coming in search of me. When he’s eating his food, which is in the laundry room just off of the kitchen and I leave to go to the bedroom or my office, he panics. I can hear him coming, racing through the house. Once he sees me, he visibly relaxes and knowing where I am, he is free to return to his food.

Cooper, Wubba and Sunny

For a while when we would leave the house and leave him behind, we didn’t put him in his kennel. But after a few “incidents,” where he misbehaved while we were out, we decided that putting him in his kennel, his “house” was probably better. When we leave now, we tell him to get in his house, which he does voluntarily. We give him his Wubba, his best good friend, and we close the door. Lately though he’s been going nuts. We put him in his kennel and he begins to howl and bark and whine, like we’re torturing him. I went in one time to see what he was doing, and he was trying to dig his way out. He had pushed his padded rug up and back and he was concentrating on the digging at the corner of the kennel where the door latches, like he was digging to China. It’s metal; he had no chance. It broke my heart.

This is a relatively new development and we’re not sure what to do. When we were at the vet a week or so ago, we asked, and the vet gave us some ideas including using a Kong toy, stuffed with cookies. A toy Cooper only gets when we leave. We tried. There is still whining and howling and whimpering and digging. We are at a loss.

Cooper is a rescue. We have no idea what his history is other than the little bit the rescue organization gave us. He’s been with a number of families so he’s been given away a number of times. I suspect it’s because he has anxiety issues. Poor baby. We’re trying to get him to understand that we’re not leaving him, or if we do, it’s only on a very temporary basis. We give him lots of love and attention. We play with him; he gets two walks a day. We love him.

Today, I went to PetCo to get some Hip Action cookies (with glucosamine and chondroitin). I can’t go to PetCo and only get hip cookies. So I bought Sunny.

Tonight, Cooper is with his peeps. He’s happy and content, not at all nutty or anxious. We’re all in for the night. Kevin and I, and Cooper. And Wubba and Bull and Perp and Chip and Rudy and Yukon and Ball and Santa Butt and the new addition to the guys, Sunny.

Who knows? Maybe Sunny will help him know that life is good and bright, and that mom and dad love him. But I doubt it.

C-dawg, Street Thug

by Lorin Michel Sunday, January 27, 2013 6:40 PM

Our Coopertino has been with us for three months now. It was official yesterday, and I thought I’d entertain everyone with an update on him and his training. First, he’s cute as can be. He’s just a big love bug in the house. He loves to be with us, he listens. He sits on cue and shakes when asked. He’s gentle when he takes a cookie as long as we preface said taking with the word “easy” spoken in a stearn, non-easy way.

He has become a real toy dog. Wherever he is, he must have at least one if not three toys with him. In the mornings, after we walk and he chomps through breakfast while I slurp through coffee, and we head up to work – that’s code for my office – he grabs Wubba and I grab my computer, any paperwork I’ve brought downstairs to keep me occupied the night before, my glasses and my iPhone and we climb the stairs together. Wubba is his best good friend and the only one, thus far, who has not met the wrath of the teeth.

At night, when it’s time to come downstairs and pretend to have a life (which is just me transferring my computer to the living room), he again picks up Wubba and trots down the stairs, Wubba swinging from side to side. Wubba sleeps with him as well. All we need to do at night, after he has gone out back for the last break before morning, is say: “Get Wubba and get in your house.” He picks up that straggly brown tennis ball dressed like a bear with five octopus legs, trots into the bedroom and directly into his kennel. He lays Wubba down on the side, and then lays down next to him to sleep. It’s adorable.

As I said, he’s so good in the house that I just want to hug and kiss and squeeze on him all the time.

But then comes the dreaded outside and his two walks a day. Perhaps dreaded is too strong a word. Perhaps I should say the slightly scary outside, or the uh-oh-it’s-time-to-go outside. Cooper, as I think I’ve mentioned, is a bit dog aggressive and quite the leash puller. Even though we’ve been using a pinch collar, it has not worked as well as we’d like to curb his bad habits. We had basically decided we had the only dog on the planet that didn’t respond to the pinch. We had the devil in red fur, Cujo in a smaller outfit, Dr. Jekel and Mr. Wild; C-Dawg, Street Thug.

C-Dawg and the ever-present Wubba

We had resigned ourselves to the idea that walking him was never going to be fun. That we were going to grow to truly despise the twice-daily walks around the hood with our little bully. Because you see, as lovable as my boy is in the house, he has been a canine monster outside. Every dog we see is an opportunity to tug and pull and lunge, to huff and puff and threaten, to talk smack, to bully. Hence his new street name C-Dawg. We figured we’d get him some additional bling, put a sideways baseball cap on him and get him to wear his pants really low. He can strut around the ‘hood causing other dogs to quiver and quake in his presence.

And then we remembered that as humans, we are supposed to possess the superior intellect. We have bigger brains. He is the dog. He has been here three months. We have been here for a whole lot longer. We needed to be smarter. So we went to the intertubes to see what we could find and wouldn’t you know, we’ve been doing the collar wrong.

Tonight when we took C-Dawg for a walk, we adjusted the collar so that we were using it correctly. He was nearly a different dawg. Oh, he pulled a bit but he seemed to learn quickly that pulling is not advantageous to enjoyment. We saw some other dogs and he huffed and puffed but it wasn’t nearly the terror filled exchange we have come to expect. Yes, one walk does not a changed dog make, but we’re hopeful that the big brains have prevailed, that the tubes have once again come to our rescue and that C-Dawg Street Thug will soon be just c-dog street hug.

Hey, a mom can dream, can’t she? 

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live out loud

Dogs are coyotes two

by Lorin Michel Sunday, August 26, 2012 7:35 PM

As you know, dear reader, I am an unabashed dog lover. I’m actually an animal lover in general though I do have a special place in my heart for the canine species. I’m a sucker for stories about dogs; I’m a bigger sucker for actual dogs, walking by, in a park, waiting patiently in a car. My Facebook page is littered with other dog pages. I look at the happy pictures and I rejoice; I see sad pictures, or hear sad tales and I cry.

I have several non-profit organizations that I support with monthly donations automatically deducted from my debit account. One such organization is the Humane Society. Each month I get a magazine called All Animals, with all types of animal stories, many telling horrible tales of abuse that eventually lead to rescue. Some of the stories are happier. Others are just fascinating. My magazine came the other day, and it being Sunday I decided to relax a bit and do some reading. One of the stories was a profile of a place in the high desert outside of San Diego, in Ramona, called The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center, where they rescue wild animals that have been unwisely placed in domestic situations. They also rescue wild animals that have been hurt, often by people, hit by cars or worse.

The Wildlife Center doesn’t deal with common domesticated animals like dogs and cats. They work with bobcats, skunks, birds of prey like hawks, mountain lions, an actual lion named Samson, a pygmy hippo and coyotes. For most of the animals, the goal is to care for it in order to return it to health so that it can be released back into the wild. Those that can’t be released are given permanent shelter.

Samson, the lion, was confiscated when he was 3 months old, suffering from a form of dwarfism – his back legs are too small for the front of him. He’s now 11 and still lives in Ramona. Sheba is a mountain lion who was found during a routine traffic stop. Evidently her “owners” were training her to ride a horse. She’d been declawed so it’s now impossible for her to live in the wild; she can’t defend herself.

Then there’s Chewy, short for Chewbacca, a 7-year-old coyote who chases lizards and plays with stuffed animals. He was found when he was a pup by a caring stranger who thought he was, literally, a puppy and bottle-fed him. He wanted nothing to do with other coyote pups after that and became too comfortable with humans to return to the wild. Ditto a beautiful duo named Amber and Rusty.

Amber and Rusty, two blonde coyotes abandoned as pups, were raised at the Wildlife Center, too. They’re half dog and half coyote, described like this by Ali Crumpacker, the Wildlife Center’s director: “One minute they act like dogs, wagging their tails and whining to play. The next, they stare you down with barred teeth or are digging five-foot tunnels underground like coyotes.” In other words, they suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. The speculation is that the two are part yellow Labrador retriever which would account for their blonde coloring. Their official designation is coydog, and while wild animals aren’t usually given names at the Center, these two received names because they’ll be living their lives in a sanctuary rather than in the wilderness.

Cleveland Armory was a writer, probably most known as the TV Guide television critic and for his book The Cat Who Came for Christmas, a memoir about his cat Polar Star whom he found in Manhattan on Christmas Eve 1977. Armory died in 1998. But during his life, he was a passionate animals rights advocate who campaigned against people wearing fur and who founded the Fund for Animals in 1967. Since that time, the Fund has been at the forefront of animal protection by implementing hard-hitting advocacy campaigns, protecting animals in the courts, even winning lawsuits to protect animals from hunting and trapping. In addition to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center here in Southern California, there is also the Cape Wildlife Center on Cape Cod, the Duchess Sanctuary in Eugene, Oregon, a Rabbit Sanctuary in Simpsonville, South Carolina and the Black Beauty Ranch, their flagship sanctuary, a permanent place for more than 1,300 animals on 1,300 acres in the rolling hills of east Texas.

The Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch is where Rusty and Amber will live the remainder of their days, in a place where they can run and dig and act like coyotes and dogs all they want. In fact, while they were originally fed rodents and the like, they currently eat dog food out of a dog bowl, never done when coyotes are going to be returned to the wild. They also get dog bones and squeaky toys.

So they never need to decide if they’re dogs or coyotes. They can be both, two of a kind, a pair of aces. Not many of us get the opportunity to be two, and if we do, we’re usually locked up.  Not Amber and Rusty. They’ll be living it out loud any way they feel on a particular day, any way they decide. Definitely worth celebrating.  

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live out loud

The good and the wonder of lazy

by Lorin Michel Sunday, July 15, 2012 1:28 AM

Last night at Fritini, amongst our many topics of discussion, was one about lazy. The now-licensed therapist (oh, how I love typing that) otherwise known as Bobbi, said something along the lines of not believing that people are born lazy but that it is instead a learned behavior. It got me thinking. Can people be born lazy?

I know many people who I would classify as lazy, either physically, intellectually and sometimes both, and I've often wondered about the why. I don't mean lazy as in the occasional not do much on a Saturday afternoon or even for the entire weekend. I mean not having any desire to do anything ever. Not seeking to better yourself either by looking for another job or joining a networking group or losing weight or exercising or reading a book or a newspaper. Not seeking to find out about the world you live in. There is so much information at our fingertips courtesy of the almighty intertubes, how can someone not want to take advantage of that? And yet I know people who don't have a computer and don't get the newspaper. They just watch TV. It's something that escapes me but I also tend toward the typical Type-A personality. A bit too driven, a little too ambitious. Though I do know how to relax. I just don't do nothing - I don't do lazy – well, at least not for long.

Lazy (also called indolence) is defined as a disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to do so. It is often used as a pejorative, along with other illustrious terms like couch potato, slacker, and bludger.

Despite Sigmund Freud's meanderings on the pleasure principle, Leonard Carmichael notes that "laziness is not a word that appears in the table of contents of most technical books on psychology... It is a guilty secret of modern psychology that more is understood about the motivation of thirsty rats and hungry pecking pigeons as they press levers or hit targets than is known about the way in which poets make themselves write poems or scientists force themselves into the laboratory when the good golfing days of spring arrive." To which I say, huh? A 1931 survey found that high school students were more likely to attribute their failing performance to laziness, while teachers ranked "lack of ability" as the major cause, with laziness coming in second.

It is common for animals (even hummingbirds that have high energy) to forage for food until satiated, and then spend most of their time doing nothing, or at least nothing in particular. Maguire excelled at this. On the other hand, some animals, such as pigeons and rats, seem to be forever searching for food rather than finding, eating and then napping. I suppose that's why they're rats and pigeons.

From 1909 to 1915, the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease sought to eradicate hookworm infestation from 11 southern US states. Hookworms were popularly known as "the germ of laziness" because they produced listlessness and weakness in the people they infested. Hookworms infested 40 percent of southerners and were identified in the North as the cause of the South's alleged backwardness.

There are actually articles about overcoming laziness. They even list multiple steps that can be taken, things like strengthening your motivation through affirmations and visualization and thinking about the benefits of not being lazy as well as the consequences of continuing in laziness. But this seems to me to both miss the point entirely and to thoroughly demonstrate the entire issue of lazy. If one was capable or even wanted to not be lazy and sought to do something about it, one wouldn't be lazy in the first place. Perhaps just fearful. And thinking about wanting to do something isn't the same as actually doing something. Thinking but not doing is nearly the definition of lazy. It is a state of passivity and of letting things stay as they are.

Which of course doesn't address whether people are born lazy or learn to be that way. I actually think it's a little of both. I've known people born into the same family, given the same opportunities for college and bettering themselves. Some excel, others don't. That leads me to believe that laziness is something that is there from the beginning, or at least the proclivity for laziness is there. Then circumstances help cement the slothiness. I also believe that a lot of laziness comes from fear, and fear can be related to timidity which can be just a person's personality, something you are born with.

It's all very complicated but so interesting. It should be noted that in addition to me being mostly a Type-A personality, I am also writing this post ... from bed. It's just after noon, and though I've been up for hours, even cleaned up the kitchen, made a pot of coffee and got the newspaper before coming back to stretch out with my trustee iPad, I remain, in bed. On a Saturday afternoon. And I'm not sick.

Since I know my mother will be appalled to read those last lines, I'm going to go with my laziness being a learned behavior. Today, I'm just fine with that. In fact, I'm celebrating it, along with the cool air of the fan as it blows across my feet at the end of the bed.

Dog sitting

by Lorin Michel Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:44 AM

Our friend Maryann is moving to Florida to be closer to her family. She lives here in the OP at least until tomorrow morning and we’ve known her for quite some time. She raised Justin’s former good friend Alec – she’s Alec’s grandmother – and the boys used to pal around quite a bit. They met at summer camp when they were both around 8, and proceeded to spend a good deal of time at each other’s houses for the next few years. In high school, they drifted apart, but we stayed in touch with Maryann. She’s a single (grand)parent without a lot of family here, so we adopted her into our adoptive one. She spent holidays with us, and the occasional Fritini.

Several years ago, Alec moved to Florida to be with his mother. Both of Maryann’s daughters live there as does her ex-husband. Her mother, who is close to 90, lives out here in an assisted living facility. Maryann is flying back to get her in a couple of weeks and moving her into a new facility in Florida as well. Soon her entire life will be near Ocala.

Today the movers are at her house; tomorrow she hits the road. She’ll be driving across the southern route, basically across interstate 10, with her daughter Jennifer (Alec’s mother who’s been here helping), her cat Patches, her turtle Dennis and her two dogs, Lucky and Tessie. Quite the menagerie. Because it was going to be so hectic at the house, I offered our backyard for the dogs, someplace where they could run around, have shade, nice cool water to drink and she wouldn’t have to worry. The backyard is completely walled in; it’s impossible for them to get out.

Sleeping on the patio

Which didn’t stop Tessie, the little one, from trying. Maryann had dropped them off around 11 am and they immediately stormed into the back. Tessie is a corgi/sheltie mix. She has the squat little body and short little legs of a corgi but the long fur and coloring of a sheltie. She’s a cutie. She’s also small enough to slip under part of the gate and run down the side of the house. At the end of said side is another gate that’s impossible for her to get under so she had to turn around, trot back up the side and then pace a bit because as easily as she slipped one way, it didn’t occur to her that she could slip the other way as well. She did this several times.

Throughout the day, they’ve been alternating between sleeping, slurping and patrolling the property. They decided it might be fun to check out Kevin’s studio and when the door was left unlatched, Tessie nosed her way through. Lucky, who catches on quickly, did the same. Soon Kevin and I were on the outside looking in at two dogs looking out. It was quite comical.

Tessie took to lying underneath the table, nudged up against the chairs. Lucky got himself wedged between the built-in barbecue and the house, on his side with his feet against the stone. His tail was flopping up and down on the ground as we talked to him, coaxing, but he couldn’t get himself out. I walked around to the other side, and the other end, while Kevin stayed with the boy’s front end to pull while I pushed. We got him out and he turned around and walked right back through the space. Before the day was out, both dogs were using it as a pass-through, a secret canyon known only to them.

Tessie and Lucky, in Kevin's studio

Lucky’s mix is something we’re not sure of. I’m not even sure Maryann knows. He might have some Labrador in him, perhaps even some, believe it or not, Chihuahua. I know; it sounds like a strange combination. But he has the eyes of one of those little dudes but more the physique of the bigger of the breed. He’s a medium sized dog, maybe 35 pounds. Every time Kevin or I talked to him, he immediately flopped down, flipped over on his back and waited for a belly rub, which he got.

Tessie is a kisser. She kisses all the time, standing on her little hind legs, reaching toward the sky so that she’s nearly perpendicular to the ground just to kiss.

They’re both just loves.


Maryann will be coming to get them probably early this evening, after the movers have finished emptying her house. I imagine she’ll be both elated and depressed. Moving out is always difficult, stressful. Then there’s the drive that will take days. Just going across Texas alone will take two. But then she gets to move into her brand new villa, a small bungalow really, with two bedrooms, two baths and a carport with room for a car, and a golf cart. She retired just two weeks ago; now she’s taking her zoo with her to live near family, to make new friends and to enjoy that retirement.

We’ll miss her. And we’ll miss the two little mutts currently growling in the backyard. I think a bird flew through a minute ago; perhaps Squire Squirrel made an appearance. It’s all new to them. It will all be new for the next week or so, and then it will be home.

Bon voyage, Maryann and friends. We wish you safe travels, inflated tires, and health and happiness for all. Keep living it out loud.  

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Dogs and cats, living together? OMG!

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 26, 2012 2:34 AM

Those who know me know that I while I am fairly fluent in the acronyms of the intertubes, I rarely engage in their usage. Perhaps it’s the writer in me but I have a very hard time using phrases like LOL, LMAO, BTW, and even WTF. Interestingly I use WTF often when I’m just talking; I find it funny. It’s not that I find fault with the acronyms. I think it’s just that, as a writer, I feel it’s necessary to spell out words and phrases at all times, even in emails, even in texts. I actually text in complete sentences, for the most part, with correct punctuation. It annoys even me.

There are exceptions, however, and I’m making one today because Diane sent an email around with the subject line of “Every cat should have a dog” and OMG were the pictures adorable, amazing, fabulous, wondrous and life-affirming.

I’ve always wondered when dogs and cats became the Hatfields and the McCoys of the animal kingdom, the latter having one of the most infamous feuds in American history. It started between Randolf “Ole Ran’l” McCoy who lived in Kentucky and William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield who lived in West Virginia during the Civil War. They were separated by a tributary of the Big Sandy River called Tug Fork. The feud began with the murder of a returning Union soldier named Asa Harmon McCoy who was killed on January 7, 1865 by a group of ex-Confederate soldiers. Though Devil Anse Hatfield was a suspect, it was later confirmed that he was home, sick in bed, at the time of the murder. It was Hatfield’s uncle who was widely believed to have killed Asa Harmon, tracking him to the cave where he lived and shooting him dead. As if this murder wasn’t bad enough, thirteen years later, a dispute over the ownership of a hog escalated to the killing of a relative of both families, Bill Staton, who had testified that the pig was indeed the Hatfields. Since the case was presided over by a judge named Anderson “Preacher Anse” Hatfield, the McCoys lost. Then came the romance of Roseanne McCoy and Johnson “Johnse” Hatfield, and then another series of murders on both sides perpetrated by both sides. The feud reached its peak on New Year’s 1888 when the Hatfields opened fired on a sleeping family of McCoys inside their cabin. The cabin was then set on fire. It was known throughout them-thar parts as the New Year’s Night Massacre. And so it continued.

But evidently the Hatfields and the McCoys ain’t nothing compared to dogs and cats, who, according to popular lore, have long had a mostly hate-hate relationship. There are many theories but since neither dogs nor cats can speak, the theories remain just that.

It seems that at some point, a dog, a big, blustering buffoon of an animal who is always happy to see everyone and thinks everything is for his amusement, bounded up to a cat, wagging his tail, ready for fun, and the cat in all of her pristine get-your-smelly-paws-away-from-me-you-hound glory hissed, turned and raised her tail to him. The dog was flabbergasted and tried again, giving a playful swat to the cat and that’s when she pounced, claws in full I’ll-kill-you-you-wretched-beast mode. And the dog took one big paw and slammed the cat across the room. They sat there, the two of them, brooding, hissing and drooling and ever since that fateful day whose unknown date will nevertheless live in infamy, they have hated, despised, wanted each other to die.

Or do they? It seems that the reason dogs and cats may have been taught to hate each other is simply because they’re so different. And all species are taught to hate each “the other” if for no other reason that their differences. The color of skin, the length of fur, the religious preferences, the hunting of prey. Each species has unique characteristics that make it different but not wrong; dogs and cats have been caught up in this blasphemy.

If they’re raised together, though, as puppy and kitten, they don’t know they’re different. They’re raised as just two little ones and they’re completely alike, one maybe bigger than the other, but still they’re equals. They grow up in the same house, with the same love. You have to wonder what the Hatfields and McCoys could have accomplished if they’d been raised and become friendly together.

I’ve come to the belief that dogs and cats living together is fine and it was reinforced today by the pictures that Diane sent.

Of course, I suggested a subject line change: “Every dog should have a cat.”


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