In late February I called a friend to help me replace a door. It was — we thought — a simple task. But a combination of missed steps, Home Depot hell, 5 o'clock traffic and lost tools turned a three hour project into a marathon.
He made the mortises for the hinges with a hammer, a screwdriver and infinite patience. The tools we'd purchased for the task had gone missing. I became increasingly agitated attempting to locate the errant tools. He became calmer, entered a flipping Zen state, and worked on The Door on the back porch well into the night. Darren MacGyver, with the aid of a hanging utility light and Sir BRADLEY Basset, padding back and forth insistently to check on his progress.
That door was the beginning of a Lewis Carroll-esqe down the rabbit hole journey. Ancient threads unravelled and new ones appeared, but so clouded in maya I couldn't see them. Jagged slivers of mistrust melted in a mystical alchemy understood only by the Elders. And all the while Great Spirit watched over me, even as I stamped my feet and wailed like stubborn HOPE, who at the time was high heartworm positive and damn sick and tired of being in her crate. So she threw hissy fits. Stamped her paws on the Kuranda bed, slapped her water bucket, deliberately sloshed water on the floor, then banged the water bucket again. Because she wanted attention and she wanted it r i g h t t h e n r i g h t n o w. And in case you missed the foot stamping and bucket slapping she would let rip with piercing soprano shrieks — a once feral now semi-domesticated and not too damn happy about that pit bull. HOPE is not very patient. But she does have a voice. And she is growing. Stubborn Hope.
Seven weeks ago I drove to Gadsden, Alabama to get Little BEN, one of the HSUS Alabama 44. He was scared to leave. His best friend and teacher KIMBO gave him a reassuring nose kiss when he froze on the walkway outside the front door. Uncertain, tenuous, his run at the astonishing Humane Society of Etowah County the only safety he'd known since being taken from his home, the place he was born, by HSUS. Loaded in a van and transported to Etowah County for processing. Along with his 43 brothers, sisters and cousins thrice removed. I understood his fear. He was leaving what had become home, a place where the executive director, the licensed vet tech, four kennel/animal health care techs and two adoption counselors all work together — all areas, including cleaning the runs. Sometimes new beginnings are scary, and Little BEN was leaving home. Again. And saying goodbye to the very few people he had come to trust.
Little BEN and I crossed three state lines, unexpectedly spending the night in Atlanta. Horsesugar hit the proverbial fan after we left I-20 and hit the I-285 city loop. Stalled in bumper to bumper waiting to get on I-85 we saw miles ahead of more bumper to bumper. Flashbacks to the 101. Too much traffic, too much stress. Little BEN and I called it a night.
On the way back to Charlotte the next day I listened to Aaron Neville singing "To Make Me Who I Am." Realized life was taking a sharp turn into the everything is gonna be all right lane. If Aaron Neville can make it out of where he lived and who he was, and still be singing like an angel with a voice to cut the cloud mist at Machu Picchu, I for damn sure can beat the bad rap of small minded individuals — who judge, opine and feed the gossip mongering naysayer machine. People who have no flippin clue about mental health issues. Nor, as far as I can tell, compassion. Yep, I for damn sure can keep on doing what I love best. Helping dogs. Walking in their paws. Asking their two-leggeds a whole lotta questions, getting to the what-when-where-how of the triggers and cues responsible for the behavior which has brought them to me. Teaching their two-leggeds how to erase those cues and triggers, replace them with new ones. Positive instead of negative. Joyful instead of fearful. Open instead of closed. Inclusive rather than exclusive. Four paws up and sixteen pads wiggling whilst rolling in the green green grass.
A very special thanks to KONA, KIRA, NINA, RAY RAY, BLUE and NICK Pratt for teaching Little BEN everything he needs to know about being all the dog he can be. 'Life is good. Let it fly.'
Here's looking at you Edna. Your hissy fit throwing daughter is a mirror image of the man you loved so dearly, John Abraham better known as Jack. But mixed with a real serious and very healthy dose of you, Mom.
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