Monday, June 23, 2008

Poor Old Girl

My best friend went away for about five days and left the family border collie/mix at a kennel. He picked her up today and was most upset with what he heard. The woman who cared for the dog this past week said Gumbo was stiff and slow moving and at times seemed to be in pain. Naturally when she heard my friend's voice she went nuts with happiness and exhibited no symptoms at all, but he's going to keep a very close eye on her.

He somehow senses this may be "it" for her. In the past year she's had one health problem after the other … allergies that made it hard for her to keep her food down, an inner ear infection that temporarily had an impact on her balance, etc. Now this.

I told him to just watch her closely and get her to the vet, two things he was going to do anyway. It could be arthritis or some back problem that can be treated easily with meds.

But Gumbo has been a member of his family since before his 6th grade daughter was born, so I know she must be at least 13 years old. Today wasn't the time to ask, but it's possible she's 14. She is an elderly and much-loved lady. This may just be the beginning of that awful, slow journey that all pet owners dread. I hope it's not, but the instincts of an owner who loves his dog are often right, even when they're heartbreakingly sad.

Manic Monday #13

Are you a talker or a listener? Is it ever possible to really be both? Not for me. I babble and blab. Especially when I'm excited. I try to be a better listener, but it's hard.

Do you think God has a sense of humor? Yes. And I believe that He thinks I'm funny. I also suspect He's very happy to be able to spend quality time with George Carlin, whose humor was always gentle.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Have you ever experienced it? No, and no. Lust, yes. Infatuation, of course. But love takes time.

To play along yourself, or to see other answers, visit the official Manic Monday site.

I think this a GOOD thing

Update on my friend, Kathy -- the one whose life completely got away from her and she ended up broke, unemployed and crashing with her daughter's family (and her daughter's house is being foreclosed upon sometime this summer).

I have done what I can to help her -- primarily finding a good, temporary home for her two cats until she finds somewhere permanent to live. Her two gray tabbies are being fostered by the animal shelter where I adopted my cat, Reynaldo, in exchange for Kathy volunteering her time. The cats get to stay together, are well cared for in terms of food and vet attention, and get time out of their cages every day so they get exercise. Plus Kathy helped with the shelter's rummage sale and will handle other projects for them, so she doesn't feel she's accepting charity. In all, I think this was the happiest circumstance we could have hoped for.

I had breakfast with Kathy yesterday and was encouraged by the change in her attitude. Up until now, she was simply overwhelmed. I completely understood that. She was in dire circumstances herself and was worried about her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. That must have been terrifying.

What I didn't understand, though, was her point-of-view on her situation. She kept saying that she ended up this way "through no fault" of her own. Or, "I know there's no one to blame here." I wanted to slap her, a la Cher, and shout, "Snap out of it!"

She knew her real estate business was going nowhere for more than a year. She must have spent many a sleepless night crunching numbers, knowing how much debt and how few assets she had left. She let it get far, far too bad before she abandoned ship and got an administrative assistant job which, by all accounts, didn't perform well at. While I have nothing but compassion for her, and realize we are capable of making very bad decisions, I also try to have at least one foot in reality at all times. If these circumstances are not her fault, whose fault are they? And as long as she feels like a victim of what life has handed her, what hope does she have of turning it around?

But yesterday she actually said, "I know I screwed up." In her follow-up email this morning, she mentioned how important it was for her to get her cats back because "they trusted me and I let them down." I don't think it's a coincidence that, now that she has accepted some responsibility for what's happened, that she feels empowered enough to plan.

She has gotten a job laying out ads for a suburban newspaper. She wants to get back into writing, and this is a wonderful first step. She realizes that while she has a free roof over her head and free food for the next few months, she has to maintain her own cell phone, car payments and health/auto insurance. She's also using this opportunity to get a little ahead so that, when her daughter's family rents a house, she can rent an apartment and be independent again. I was so happy to hear all this!

I'm not saying that we should all spend hours beating ourselves up for our faults and missteps. I also realize that Kathy is not responsible for escalating health costs and a real estate market that crashed around her. But when you're a complete victim of circumstance, then you don't have any power to improve your own lot. I believe we must OWN our lives, must admit our responsibility and then we must try to shape what we can. That's what she's doing now, and it makes me very happy.