My Family

My Family
Lately I have been having a really hard time dealing with the loss of Lucy. She was the hardest for me, even more so than Angel last year. Or Littles just last week. I realize that I have a really hard time dealing with death. Not that anyone has an easy time of it… for one thing, though, my dogs are my kids. They mean as much to me as any human I know. My core belief system is that I am an animal. I am a human animal, and my dogs are canine animals. I am no better than them. Maybe human belief systems follow that humans are ‘better,’ somehow, than other animals. I do not believe this. I am more of the belief that I am the same as the earth. I live on the earth and I am as a tree or a rock or a bush. Or a deer or a rabbit or a dog. Maybe this is more like the American Indian belief system. Or the pagan belief system. Which I prefer to follow for myself.

So when a dog does, a part of me dies. Even though at the same time a part of the dog lives on inside of me. Still, I feel empty and hollow and I don’t know how to deal with it. Since I don’t really have an after-life belief system, either, I’m not sure where they go, though I do have my ideas.

Anyway, where I’m going with this is that all my life I’ve really avoided getting close to people. I’ve had trust issues with people. Haven’t really trusted those who were trustworthy in the past, instead I’ve trusted those who were not trustworthy. Though I think that I’ve changed in that regard now, it’s still hard for me to get close to fellow humans. It’s always been easier for me to get close to dogs. And so the main support network I have in my life is that of my very short-lived dogs.

And so when they leave me, I’m pretty crushed. Though now I’m at a place in my life where I can finally trust people more, get close to people more, which is a good thing. And most of my life I’ve really denied the thought that I need people, and dogs, to rely on as close friends and family.

And I’m so worried about Levi. He’ll be 12 in just about a month. And sometimes I think that my entire world of sanity is balanced on his life. Which is way too much to ask any creature to endure, I know. 🙂 Even though he gets extra attention now, which he really loves.

So I guess where I’m getting to with this is that today I had some sore of revelation. That it’s natural to love these creatures in our lives. And it’s so sad when they have to leave us. It’s just a natural part of life and it’s okay to love completely. I’ve avoided loving completely, because it means that when the object of your love is gone, then live is just about over and being crushed and miserable sets in. But it’s okay to have both, isn’t it? To love completely and still go on living. It’s natural and normal. Guess it took me a long time to realize this. But I have always loved my dogs completely, without reservation, unconditionally, just as they love me. They are so much easier than humans. So very much easier to love and live with.

I’ve been sick the last few days and feeling pretty rotten. I know it’s a combination of having too many losses, stress, catching some nasty cold, and also this underlying virus that I think I carry with me all the time. It all adds up, dangit. But today, or at least right now, I can look at our little graveyard of ashes in our cabinet that I have set up, and find a little bit more peace. At least for a while.

So I have to get back to the normal aspects of life. Missing those I’ve lost. Settling into a new life with the ones who are still alive. Maybe I’m a nut, I dunno. Maybe I just need a Steripen Adventurer Opti water filter to keep myself healthy… oh, and I joined Weight Watchers, to drop these awful pounds I’ve put on in the last couple of years. Still gotta take care of myself, eat healthy, and love completely the family I have with me still. And try to come to realize it’s okay to love completely, as well as lose completely. And still be okay.

Does Your Dog Trust You… Completely?

Most of my dogs are rescues. Four of Six are rescues. Two are not rescues, I bought them from breeders back in 1999. Each one of my dogs, current and past, are all very unique and different int how they learn, what they like, their mannerisms, and all their little quirks.

Chase sleeping
Chase Sleeping

I have been wondering, lately, how much my dogs actually trust me. I think they trust in context… they trust me in certain situations, and not in others. I think they trust me in most situations.

Lucy and Levi are the dogs that I bought from breeders as puppies, and I think they trust me a great deal.  They let me trim their toenails and handle them when I need to. Of course I tried to work with them when they were little.  Levi doesn’t like it when my pager goes off, and I think he doesn’t trust me that much when it does. Pre-Medication when I got paged I got very upset, and of course he picked up on that. Now, though, I don’t react so badly, but Levi still does react. Even when the same page noise goes off on the TV!  Lucy is very stubborn and sassy, and sure of herself, and I don’t think she has any problems trusting me in just about any situation.

I think Angel trusts us now. She didn’t when she came to live with us. She was afraid of everything. And still she doesn’t want her toenails trimmed, but she suffers it for a constant supply of treats.  I can’t think of a situation where she reacts now in ways that says she doesn’t trust us. So that is good. 🙂

I think Chase trusts us too.  He is good at letting us handle him, his toenails, and all over when we need to. When we go to the vet he hides behind us too. Poor boy.

Tatum Sleeping
Tatum Sleeps

As for Muffit and Tatum, I think they are still learning. The whole point of this post was to wonder if Tatum trusts me or not.  I think Muffit still has his doubts, but he’s only been with us since February 2008… which has been nine months. Angel has been with us for six years, and Chase three years.

Tatum was treated poorly by humans when she lived at the hoarders.  When she had contact with humans at all.  And I think Muffit, also, wasn’t treated well by people. He’s a bit protective of me now and he’s been known to snark at people he’s not sure of. By snark, I mean a fake snap.  I’m 95% sure he wouldn’t actually bite anyone. 🙂 But dogs do have a bite threshold. Just as we do if pushed.

I wonder if rescue dogs will always have a lack of trust for humans. Be it any other human than their family. Or any human, even those in their own family. I guess it depends on the dog and what the dogs have been through. I like to think that my dogs trust me. That I earn their trust, and keep their trust.  i want Muffit and Tatum to trust me more than they do.  Of course with Tatum, instead of a lack of trust, she could just be showing off her sassiness!  Which she does a lot, now.  And I find it interesting with Muffit, that I can touch his feet and toenails just fine when we are sitting together. But if the nail clippers or the dremmel come out, he will not let me near his feet. He will squeal and scream and whine and put his mouth on me.  I find it interesting that he associates nail trimming as bad with all humans. Not just with a past human that hurt him.  He just thinks it’s bad all the way around. I want to convince him it’s not so bad after all!

So do your dogs trust you? Are they rescues or did you buy them as a puppies? I’m just curious. 🙂

Loving Another Species

levi I’ve been thinking the last little while about loving my dogs… and how I love them just as much as any human I know. I had a hard time admitting that my dogs come first, until the girl who does my nails told me that she told her boyfriend, in no uncertain terms, that her dogs come first and always will, and if he can’t accept that then he can’t accept her. I respect her for that and it helped me to admit it to myself, too.

(oh and yup, this is Levi playing fetch.. lol, he does it for me, he’s such a sweet boy. Collies do play fetch!)

On another, related note, I’m vegetarian. I don’t feel like I can justify killing another living being in order to survive. There are so many options now that I can live quite happily and healthily without taking another creature’s life. If it came down to it and I was lost in the woods, and it was me or another animal, sure, I’d kill to survive. I would have not qualms about that. I can cut into a chicken and not worry about it, for my dogs, because it’s healthier for them. And I know the food chain is a natural part of life.

Anyway… being vegetarian for about 17 years has really helped me to see non-human animals as the same as human animals. Though I don’t think it’s necessary for humans to be vegetarian to realize this, it just helped me personally.

So I’ve been wondering if, and if so why, it’s socially unacceptable for humans to really love another species as much as we love other humans. I love my dogs as much as I would any human child. And I don’t understand why it may be considered a less valuable love than loving my own species.

Sure, back 100, 200 or 1500 years ago, humans loved other humans, and non-human animals were tools, food, or something else that was ‘other’ than human. But really, I want to be an animal. I believe in evolution. I believe that humans evolved alongside the other non-human animals and basically, fundamentally, we are all the same. As I lie in bed at night with my dogs around me, I want to be exactly the same as them… a living being who evolved on this planet with bone, blood, and breath. We are the same.

Humans are no better than other animals. We can just manipulate our environment more efficiently than other animals. And we understand the way we think, we don’t understand the other animals as well. But we are learning. And I’m so glad that, as time goes by, more and more humans are starting to understand that other life has value as well, and other animals not only feel physical pain, but an entire range of emotion, just as the human animal does.

Maybe it’s a religious thing, to be more human-centric. But since I have little history and almost no knowledge of religion, I really don’t know. I am not Christian, nor do I believe in a single god. I’m more pagan, and would like to learn more about paganism. But since I don’t know much about religion, I cannot form a good opinion of it. 🙂

Anyway, I love my dogs as much as any human animal. I am an animal, and I am very proud of it. I am a part of this earth, my bone is made of the same stuff as a tree’s trunk, and I am glad of it.