Confessions of a fur-mama

 

Be warned, there’s something in here that may be genuinely distressing to anyone with even half a heart. Doubly so if you love dogs. But there’s also some funny things too, so, it’s all good. Read on.

So, we’ve had our rescue fur-baby a couple of months now. We’re still trying to untangle that mangled little mess that lives inside her head. We don’t know much about her. We know she’s an older dog. We know someone has been nice to her at some point. We also know that someone (or someones) hasn’t.

How?

Sadly, by her physical scars. And, even more sadly, by the psychological scars that little by little, she’s allowing us to see.

One example.

A training clicker.

The sound terrified her the first (and only) time we tried to use one. We were mystified. My hyper-perceptive vampiric sleuthiness (it’s a thing) was stumped. And then the penny dropped some time later. The sound is identical to a cigarette lighter. Now put that together with some of her smaller scars and…

Well…

If I ever meet the ones who did that to such a gentle, loving animal (or any animal), then my ‘no-biting-humansrule may become more of a guideline.

But in the meantime…

She’s sprawled out on her favourite (for she has many) fleecy throw, snoring and farting away to her little heart’s content. She’s still in that ‘can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real’ phase and gets really panicky if she does something wrong. Our hugs and reassurance still puzzle her.

We are now dealing with some separation anxiety issues. Which, to me, is a good thing. It means that’s she’s now attached to us. It means she trusts us (as does the sitting on my foot with her back to me). But she’s getting over them. She knows we’re definitely Team Fur-baby now.

We’ve learned this about her:

  • She hates puddles and getting wet
  • She already knows ‘high-five’, ‘shake hands’, ‘roll over’ and – bizarrely- how to cross the road safely (!)
  • She learns very quickly
  • She pulls like a train and loves her rope toys (if you have a dislocated shoulder, she could easily reset it for you. However, if there’s someone you don’t like and wish they had a dislocated shoulder, it wouldn’t work. She’d just call 999/911. She’s about bright enough to.)
  • She can be hyper focused, but also easily distracted (ha! she takes after me!)
  • She’s obsessed with food. Especially chicken (nope. Not me. Well, the chicken part.)
  • Even more than being given food, she loves finding it herself.

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: No! Pleeeeeease! Don’t go!

And then, when faced with a puzzle ball containing treats…

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: (30 minutes later) Nom-nom-nom. Did somebody say something? Nom-nom-nom.

She’s also very communicative. She lets you know in no uncertain terms what she wants. And doesn’t want!

Do parents of small human children have this problem?

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Okay, let’s get your harness and lead and everything on and you can go out.

DOG: Don’t wanna.

ME: Then you can’t go out for walk.

Five minutes later…

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Then we’re putting your lead and everything on.

DOG: Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

ME: You know the rules.

DOG: (grumbling) Pfft. Ohhh, alright then.

Gets harness and everything on (with much muttering on her part).

DOG: Don’t wanna go now. Spoilt my fun.

ME: Oh, we are going now!

10 minutes later…

DOG: Woweeee! This is the best day ever!

And nearly an hour later, after lots of (shall we say) negotiation as to route, we get back. I’ve enjoyed the fresh air. She’s enjoyed the stretching-her-legs.  And the sniffing. There’s always lots of sniffing. Grass verges are like Facebook for dogs. “Hmm. Nice post. Just leaving a comment…” We’ve both enjoyed the exercise. She is nicely worn out.

So what does she do next?

Run around the house like a thing possessed and then charges out like a mad fool into the garden.

Surely she can’t still have some reserves of energy in that little furry body? Have I not walked her enough?

Nope.

She is simply running out to survey her kingdom. For she is… Wonder Pooch! There she stands: ears up, tail up, right paw up, in full-on protection / surveillance mode. Have there been any threats to the kingdom in her absence? Any pretenders to her throne? Any evil crows, seagulls or (heaven forbid!) cats with a wicked design to overthrow her benevolent rule? Are there any individuals (regardless of number of legs) who have dared trespass upon her property to upset those under her kindly protection?

Nope.

Okay, all good.

And she trots back into the house again.

She plonks herself in front of the fire and gets back to one of her favourite jobs – destroying her rope toy.

All’s well with the world. I have protected you another day, my beloved hoomans. Chomp chomp chomp.

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Don’t look now…

I’m being very good today.

I got up.

Hey, don’t I get brownie points for that?!

Things have been getting a bit weird around here. Oh, okay then … weirdER.

I recently realised that I’ve been living in this country a quarter of a century. Nearly ten years in my current location. And that’s way longer than I ever tend to spend anywhere. Normally, after about 5 or 6 years, people start noticing things, and life starts getting awkward.

Then I move on. In fact, it’s normally a lot less than that. But, I guess that’s a big city for you. Noise, smells and a whole big bundle of Couldn’t-Give-A-Toss. This is a place where people would prefer to barge into you and say ‘sorry‘ than say ‘excuse me‘ and go through all that lengthy hassle of waiting a whole two seconds for you to move out of their way.

Sorry, I put ‘move‘ in bold because when I looked up at the screen, I realised I’d typed ‘love‘ instead.

Freudian slip?

I’d like to think so.

Sounds better than ‘Omigosh, my typing sucks‘.

But I think I’ve seen you. You’re the person that always says ‘thank you’ when I stop to let you go past. You always seem concerned whenever you see someone who may be in distress, and you’re always the first to help when you find that they are, rather than pointedly staring at your phone instead.

Talking of which, I saw someone the other day, walking along a tempestuous pavement, glued to their phone screen. Oblivious to everything else. They say flying is simply throwing yourself at the ground and not hitting it… Well, this guy practically flew, in that case.

Foot + pavement-bump + diverted attention = Faceplant

Or so you’d think…

It was a spectacular save.

He fell.

He got about three quarters of the way down.

He righted himself.

He carried on walking, still glued to the phone.

Now that’s style.

I salute you, young sir.

At least folks like him aren’t the cause of my current predicament.

Ah yes, that.

They’ve found me again.

Well, I think they have. And no, I’m not entirely sure who ‘they’ are, exactly. But ‘they’ have an unerring knack in discovering creatures like myself and, er, encouraging us to be geographically adventurous. I’m sure there’s some kind of -ism or -phobic that covers this, but let’s face it, you’re  never going to get anybody out with placards protesting.

Well, you may do, but it’s going to have to be at night, so probably not much to be achieved there.

Dysons and glowsticks at dawn it is, then!


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You know you want to.

One Meme Mama

****WARNING****

This is another of those posts which are unsuitable for anyone of an oversensitive disposition, and may contain opinions which differ from yours.

Okay, those of you that know me will get that the above is largely tongue-in-cheek. Having said that, I am unapologetic for being me, as I have had very little offstage practice at being anyone else.

I do feel that, as I’m on my soapbox today, you do at least deserve to be forewarned in order to prepare your nerves for one of my inevitable rants. Perhaps ‘rant’ is a strong word, but certainly these days, anything spoken about with passion or conviction is pigeonholed as either ranting or rousing – depending on where you stand via-à-vis the issue in question.

Yesterday, I saw a meme on one of the many available social networks. It was a beautiful selection of pastel swirls, decorated with a suitably heroic font and almost perfect grammar.

Only a mother can love and protect a child.

At first I wanted to reach for a bucket at the emotive saccharine. That quickly changed to a little hurt and outrage as it (I felt) sought to over-spiritualise those that do, and marginalise those who don’t have children.

So, let’s burst that elitist bubble right now. I have charge of a small group of darling little humans once a week. I teach them about being alive; they teach me about being human. I would happily die for any one of that little group. Or kill for them. I know which option sounds more fun…

No, I don’t have kids ‘of my own‘ (like you could ‘own‘ them anyway!). No doubt something else to do with my crazy vampire genes.

I’m going to throw out a few generalisations at you. Fellow vampires (if there are any) – please feel free to back me up here…. we don’t feel comfortable at baby showers. We’re grateful for the invite, to know you are including us but when we go, it does feel like we’re the only gluten-intolerant at a coffee morning…

Look, we know you can’t have cake, but you’re welcome to watch us eat some. Ooh! Here’s a Victoria Sponge for you to hold.

(the little devil sat on my shoulder tells me I should know my place as an inferior specimen and to hold my envious tongue. He then kicks me in the ear for good measure).

Ok, so no, I have never given birth. But then, neither have a lot of adoptive mums who will switch just as quickly to mamma bear mode when needed. I’ve never been catapulted into the heart of a sun, but I still know to put sunblock on if it’s a sunny day.

But here’s a thought that’ll fry your pancakes.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

What if….

What if the reason that some of us don’t have kids is not what we think?

I’m talking big, philosophical reasons here, people. Two, at least.

Bear with me: this applies to humans too.

Number One

I believe there is literally more to life than what we have in this physical body. what if it all plays out on a longer time scale as a result?

To clarify – consider the way we could never have all those things we wanted as a child (remember saying “when I grow up, I’m going to…”?), but we were able to do/have/be those very things when we became adults…

What if, in the grand scheme of things, this life is only the childhood section of an eternal life track..? Trust me, I’ve had long enough to contemplate eternity!

Number Two

And this is the possibility which I find particularly makes sense to me :

They say (I’ve still to discover who ‘they‘ are) that life/God/the universe only gives you the lessons you need to learn. Notice how certain things keep happening to you, until you learn to get past them? A good teacher will never set a task that the pupil has already succeeded at. What a waste of time that would be! When I went to school, my first teacher did not teach me how to go to the toilet successfully – that had already been accomplished (the same went for reading and writing, incidentally).

So what if…

What if the reason some people remain childless is because the skills and talents needed be a parent are already in place in these individuals? What if it’s actually a box we’ve already got ticked?

Lesson learned, move on.

What if we don’t have kids because we simply don’t need to practice being parents? (oh, you’re just trying to justify your failure to accomplish a fundamental human function, says the little shoulder devil again. Well, he can do one, for a start) Look around at the people you know that don’t have kids. I’m betting a fair few of them are actually pretty good around the little ankle-biters. How did they get to be so good with kids if they don’t have any in what must be their empty, unfulfilled, incomplete little lives (yes, I’ve had all those adjectives levelled at me at various points in my ’empty’ life!)?

But, in the meantime, we have to live in a worldly world that wants everyone (humans and vampires alike) to feel pained over what they don’t have. To focus on that pain until they – we – feel like utter failures.

I can’t ride a bike, said the fish. I’m a failure.

I can’t fly, said the elephant. I’m a failure.

Stuff this, said the earthworm. I’m outta here.

Excuse me, I have an imaginary shoulder devil to throttle. Please feel to give your own a darn good talking to as well.

 


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(((hugs)))

Sole Mates

Let’s get this contentious issue out of the way immediately…

There is no such practical thing as ‘finding’ a soulmate.  (I’ve probably lost half of you straight away)

It comes from Greek myth.

According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”

― PlatoThe Symposium

From the people who brought you the woman who turns men to stone with one look, and the man with a bull’s head… Funny how we don’t hold those stories quite so dear as a lifestyle choice...

Soulmates do exist, yes, but finding one? Practical thinking now, people. Measure it up against the other myths.

No, folks, narcissists don’t turn into flowers; ferrymen do get paid, and let’s not even talk about Oedipus! And yet folks are happy to believe there’s that one perfect person who will magically appear.

One?! Just one?! I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy those odds! And if you never find them? Well, that makes you responsible for ruining the life of someone out there…

And what if you find the wrong person? You’re depriving someone of their soulmate, thereby ruining the lives of three people.

You make the person you choose your soulmate. And they in turn make you theirs.

Okay, so let’s buy into this for a moment… say that –

YOU’VE FOUND HIM/HER – WHAT NEXT?

Prince Charming farts, Belle has to sort out Beast’s ingrown chin hairs, and Rapunzel’s prince picks his teeth at the dinner table.

The fairy tale is there, but sometimes the world gets in the way. Take as simple a thing as your prince waking you up in the morning…

The Hollywood:

He kissed her gently on her forehead. She stretched languorously, sighing as she slowly awakened. Peeling back the covers, she slipped gracefully from the bed and, with her hair slightly tousled and her make-up still intact, she smiled gorgeously at him as she slinked off to the bathroom.

The reality:

He kissed her gently on her forehead. She stretched awkwardly through the tangle of bedclothes, letting rip a terrifying fart and a satisfied groan as something clicked in her back. Ignoring the look of gassed-out horror on his face, she tumbled gracelessly from the bed, releasing such odours as would make her beloved’s face crease in disbelief as she lumped her way to the bathroom, tripping over last night’s bed socks as she went.

 While describing the stories of fairytale heroines, a wise man once said: “Sandwiched between their ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after‘, they all had to experience great adversity.”

The fairy tale can continue – particularly if you look at it from an eternal perspective – you just have to accept that while you are living in this world, worldly things will sneak in and kill the moment. A lot. It would be wonderful, for example, to spend forever staring into each other’s eyes, but you must eat, or your human body will die. To eat, you must cook.

To cook, you must have food.

To have food, you must shop.

To shop, you must have money.

To have money, you must work.

To work, you must rest.

To rest, you must have a safe place, a home.

To have a home, you must –

You get the idea. And don’t even get me started on the washing up (no, literally – don’t!)!

And, of course, the going to the bathroom. I’ve never seen a fairy tale princess sat on the bog – have you? So unromantic and yet so unavoidable.

Life cannot be 100% fairy tale – you’d be dead within a month – see above. But neither can life be 100% the human necessities. So…

If you can just accept that these icky human details must and will be attended to, you will be able to enjoy the fairy tale moments much more.

So, dance on the beach in the moonlight, kiss under the stars… Just remember – that toilet won’t clean itself.

And then we’ll all live happy ever after.

 

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Ah… that’s better.