Sunday, July 31, 2016

Open Letter to Jasper Pryor

I see a lot of "open letter" posts about dogs being dropped off at the local shelter and the hatred the new owners have for the previous owners. The confusion about how "the perfect dog" can be so mistakenly "dumped" at the local shelter like a piece of trash, and the lists of things the dog and the new owners did, as if that is proof that the new owners are somehow better than the old ones. Without knowing the previous owners' story, and the confusion, doubt, and self questioning that they go through before they have to make that decision, the new owners pass judgement. Here's the other side. 

"I brought you home on a hot August day, not knowing your history.  I gave you ice water to cool you, because it was hotter than the gate hinges to the gates of Hades and I didn't want you passing out on me.  After work, you jumped in my car with the words "load 'em up" and everyone had a laugh.  I had to get you out because you jumped on my work paperwork.  I them picked up the kiddo from day care, worried the whole time you would tear up the inside of my car. I saw that movie. The kiddo was excited about you, but I was still cautious. You spent the night in the bathroom until I trusted you to roam the house, which you did often after that. 

You made friends with the cat.  You made friends with the kid and the boyfriend. You were patient and friendly even when the boyfriend came to live with us, then married us. You made friends with the new puppy, Bandy. You were scared the time we had to move and the drive was over two hours long. I saw the anxiety on you face. You loved the backyard. It was big, with room to run.  Then another cute beast with razors at the end of its hands entered our lives. Our home grew, with the addition of dogs and snakes. I remember the first time you met a snake, and the look on your face.  You seemed almost impatient at the new addition, but you got used to it. I believed that you understood, being a rescue yourself. 

We shared movies, vet visits, and my first run after knee surgery.  Remember when we ran "to the horses and back" and you learned to stay on one side? I tripped every time you switched sides.  We went on several walks since then, until I went back to school.  Then our walks were less and less frequent. 

You spend a lot of time bored, as I had to study for this final or that one. Your patience and loyalty during that time is not forgotten. I remember taking "study breaks" to take you outside, and I remember having tea on the porch watching the sun set with you. You're a good dog, remember that. Never forget that.

I have a lot of memories with you and I that I will always have. You have those memories too. Keep those memories close. You will make new ones with your new owners. Better than the most recent ones. I didn't like having to keep the muzzle on you because you didn't get along with the other male dog that we had and you played too rough with the girls.  Or the neighbors' dog.... You hated that dog! But then again, who liked that dog? That dog was annoying, right? You had to wear the muzzle more often than not, and you were secluded, because of you not getting along with the others. It's not fair that you were always out alone (sometimes with us, and we threw the ball to you) or that you were isolated from the other dogs and couldn't play because you were too rough. We love the other dogs, and we love you. That's why we had to let you go. 

I could not stand to see you isolated from the others, wanting to play and wondering why you couldn't.  The muzzle on constantly because we couldn't trust you after you lunged at Phantom. I see those memes all of the time, about loyalty and keeping the dog through thick and thin and that I'm horrible for getting rid of someone you pledged your life to. "Getting a dog is for life" and "Dogs are forever". Those break my heart. I believed that; still do. What about when life is no longer good for the dog? What then? I still question if we made the right decision for you. You're a good dog, and the male dogs brought out your worst. 

"Why couldn't you get rid of the newer dogs?" "Didn't you have Jasper longer?" We couldn't because we love them. We love you, too. It's easier to place the dog with the issues, hoping for a better life as a single, spoiled dog, than placing three. Our hearts can take the separation of one, but not three.. One is heartbreaking enough.  

It's planned that you are going to your new owners, my uncle and aunt, on Wednesday. Tom is a good man, who loves his animals. You will have it good with him, and making wonderful new memories in no time. He is excited to have you, and liked you the moment he met you. I think it's a good fit. You will do well there, and they will be happier for knowing you. You're a good dog. Always remember that. 

I wish you luck and love in your new home, and since you are going to family, I will see you again. I love you, That's why we had to let you go.

Love and Blessings,
Your "old" Owner"  

Just remember- just because the dog is perfect for you, doesn't mean they were perfect for the previous owners. Give the dog a good life, and remember, the previous owners went through hell making the decision to let him go.  I know we did. 

Lessons Learned

I had a friend, who I felt very close to. We talked for hours about nothing at all, and had quite a bit of things in common. I enjoyed her company and I thought she enjoyed mine. We talked about our mutual thorn in the side, and our kids. Our kids were siblings, you see.  It's a weird relationships, and it's understandable that it would eventually fall apart- which it did. 

Several memories flash across my mind: kids at the kiddie park eating ice cream, playing cards against humanity and changing one of the card to "his name" so the game would be funnier.  We had a great laugh; we laughed until we cried! It was a great time.  I was there for her, letting her stay at my place when things hit the fan for her in her life. She stayed a few days, with the siblings hanging out doing what kids do. We laughed, we watched the TV, ate dinner together and talked. We had a great time. But, eventually the sun sets. She went back home, and tried to work things out. 

We had troubles of our own- The house was falling apart. I worked like a dog, saving every extra cent I made so I could get my family out of that house. The land lord refused to fix it, and the ceiling was caving in and the walls were removing themselves from the floor. It was scary and I started having nightmares that the ceiling caved while we were asleep. When we have what we felt was enough, we contacted a realtor (a referral from a coworker) and started looking. We looked in Bulverde, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, and finally Georgetown. We put money down on two homes before we found a brand new, never owned home. We fell in love with the backyard and put our money on it. It was ours a few weeks later. During this time, my friend quit returning my calls, and texts.  I figured she was dealing with troubles of her own. 

Once we were settled, I tried to contact her a few times and experienced the same result: she just didn't seem interested in being my friend anymore. Friends return calls, right? Or perhaps she was busy. That must have been it, right?  She did have her own problems, too.  I tried to be there for her, letting her know that I was still here and that she could talk to me. I let her know I moved, and she didn't seem too excited about us getting out of that crappy house we were in. 

It became clear that things weren't the same, when after a year, we still haven't talked on the phone. We went from talking daily, for several hours at a time, to nothing in just a few weeks. What could have caused that? What have I done to anger her?  The answer- it turns out- was nothing at all. I did nothing wrong. 

Since she isn't here to defend her actions, I won't be overly harsh.  She did what she did, and that's that.  "Friends" are different than "acquaintances".   I learned that you never can tell who your true friends are- except with time. I figured 3 years was enough time, but then again, perhaps not. She gave me several gifts that I will not soon forget: 

I figured out what my strengths are.  I figured out that I am strong both mentally and emotionally, and I am not the broken teenager that I once was.  I have grown up, woken up and am able to voice my needs and desires, as well as the facts under stressful and tense situations.  I am able to laugh when times are tough.  I enjoy a good night out with the girls, talking over a glass of wine. I am a nerd, and that's ok. I like talking about a wide range of topics, and each one is ok. There is no need to justify your existence, nor to seek approval.  As one of her quotes go "worrying about what (so and so, insert a name of your choice here) thinks of me is like worrying about what bacteria thinks of me- I don't really care". 

I learned that there are some things you trust with a few people, and that you can't trust everyone with everything. It's ok to talk to a friend about one thing, and not with another. That conversation may be boring to them. Take things slow, and pay attention to their actions, not just their words. Words can be covered in sugar, yet slice you in half, and their actions may be only to serve them, and not the friendship relationship as a unit. 

I also learned that sometimes, the person you call a friend, may one day be the one to tear apart your heartstrings. Treasure the time, and treasure the memories. Some people come in as lesson, some come as blessings, and for mine: she was both. I learned so much with her, and I felt beautiful. Thank you.  Thanks for the lessons, and thanks for the memories. 

Rule Number One

It's 8am and I just woke up from a dream that my bike had a radio. My eyes flutter open with that all too familiar rush; excitement; anticipation.  From that point on, every sound became the sound of a motorcycle screaming "I'm here, Lets ride".

She arrived closer to 930am and I couldn't be happier. After she was checked out and deemed in good working order (and the money paid), she was officially mine.  I named her Rhiannon.

I realized my skills were rusty after several attempts of getting her up the slope of the driveway and stalling out.  After about the 5th time I was mad. Mad at myself, mad at the bike..  How could I have let my skills get so rusty?!? How could I have allowed myself to stay grounded and caged for so long? I tied up my hair, took a breath and decided to listen to her..  The engine, the sounds around me, and feel her and relax.  I got her up the slope and into the garage. That's rule number one: Feel the Bike.

Her name didn't come easy. Every one of my machines had one. The car was called Bruce (the one before was Alice).  Willow and Elsa came to mind, but just didn't fit. They sounded pretty, and may have worked if she was a different color. She wasn't blue, she was purple. Paul suggested Rhiannon- The Horse Goddess who happen to have a holiday coming up.  That sounded perfect!  My steel horse given the name of the protector.  My two loves combined with one name. Perfect.