Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Worth the Hype

If you decide to view this festive and touching video, you will see a group of shelter volunteers who have seemingly gone over the top as they celebrate the adoption of a dog named Cooper. We won’t spoil it for you - we have watched it over and over again - but we would like to hear from you. What feelings do you experience while watching the video? What’s your gut reaction at the end, and is it worth the hype?

The video is real. It can also be viewed on the Nevada Humane Society’s Home Page. Adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue organization saves lives.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Love with Reckless Abandon – It’s Today that Matters

There are few things harder to bear than the realization that your best friend, your furry life companion, has aged faster than you have. One day you happen to notice a new maturity in your pet’s face – the eyes more thoughtful than you remembered, a trace of gray around the chin – or maybe it’s not that subtle. Perhaps your dog sleeps through breakfast and isn’t interested in walks anymore, or your vet just explained that your cat’s organs are failing. As this reality filters into your psyche – that the friend who loves you like no other and whom you have given your heart to without reservation won’t be with you forever – sadness overcomes over you.

The grief may last only a few seconds or it may alter your entire day and it can reach inside like a sharp-edged spoon to stir up past losses. In any instance, grief is powerful and mysterious, and it’s an emotion that deserves attention. So often in our busy lives we brush aside uncomfortable feelings and march on through our day and our “to do” list, but our spirits suffer when we do this. The more we can learn to live in the moment and appreciate the natural gifts of the grief expression, the more likely we are to invite love into our lives rather than turn away from it. After all, there are shelters filled with pets that need us.

So, what do you do when that realization hits? Take action! Say a prayer, write a poem, call a friend, or just cry. If you’re angry, throw rocks at a tree, scream out loud in your car or beat your pillow with a tennis racket. The simple act of doing something to address the pain instead of ignoring it is suggested by grief counselors in regard to any loss.

And for goodness sake, love your pet with reckless abandon before you have to say goodbye. It’s today that matters.

It’s a darn shame that each of our pets can’t be a total life companion, but it may just be divine that we can love and care for multiple pets during our lifetime.

Most cities have grief counseling for pet loss available through their local shelters or hospice centers. There are also numerous online resources for pet loss including Animal Hospice and Pet-Loss.Net.

Locally, the Santa Cruz SPCA, located at 2685 Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz, offers a grief support group on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kodachrome Memories

My daddy would be in his 90’s if he were still alive. He just lived to be 65 though, passing away today, 31 years ago.

While I was 19 when he died, on a sentimental occasion such as today, it seems obvious that he gave me a lifetime’s supply of gifts.

Let’s start with the first gift that comes to mind - my love for animals. My dad (pictured in both photos above), whose name was Charles but he went by Ron, had a dog named Duke. Duke was a great dane crossed with a yellow lab - a big guy. I don’t actually remember him except from pictures, but clearly it was Duke who gave me my first dose of doggy kisses, and quite clearly, they made me happy! The pictures below were taken in 1961.

11-month-old me with Duke giving kisses:

Duke giving me a ride while daddy, smiling and smoking a pipe, shares the spotlight:

My dad was a teacher, a professor actually. He taught electronics at Monterey Peninsula College and he had a radio show called Career Corner that aired on KMBY during the 60’s. He made the best vanilla steamers and he told wonderful stories like “Charlie and the Green Griffin,” complete with illustrations. He wrote love notes to my mom and he worked hard to provide for us and build his dream house in the redwoods. He was an A’s fan and a hell of a poker player.

The list of gifts my father gave me continues to be revealed as life unfolds. Besides my passion for animals though, a good work ethic with an appropriate amount of silliness, love and devotion to family, fond memories and the courage to chase dreams are the ones that come to mind today.

I love you daddy and I am so very proud of, and grateful for, your legacy.