Bitch.  Somebody called me that at work today.  I don’t think that they thought that I would take it as a compliment, but I took it that way.  I was called “Bitch” because I did not allow someone to have her way. 

Let me begin by saying that I work as an Accounts Receivable/Collections specialist for an animal clinic.  I think that I am as good hearted as the next person.  I will go out of my way to work with someone when they are honest with me and will seriously try to do what is promised.  One thing that I will not tolerate is swindling or lying.  Don’t lie to me or about me.

I was dealing with a delinquent account today and had thought that we had come to a resolution.  I thought we had worked up a payment agreement that this woman and I could live with.  As I was winding down the conversation, the woman on the phone calmly and rather quietly said, “You know, you are probably the biggest bitch I have ever dealt with.  I can’t believe you expect me to pay this.”  At that moment, I calmy and quietly responded, “Thank you maám, I appreciate that.  Now your payment agreement starts on this date, and I expect to see payment at that time.  And just so you know maám, you haven’t even tapped into my ‘bitch’ persona yet, but keep up and I am so sure you will.  Have a wonderful afternoon.”  Heaven help I should require her to pay for costs she incurred.

Now granted, I can be quick tempered and over-reactive, but I can also see the humor in a situation.  I realized that this person only needed someone to lash out at, even as calmly as she did it.   I am a big boy.  I can take it.  It normally takes quite a bit to ruffle this old roosters feathers.

I am by nature a protector.  I protect those whom I feel need it most.  That is why I have such an affinity toward animals.  It is also why I am a “fierce, fierce friend” as Dumbledore said in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” regarding Cedric Diggory.  Let someone attempt to hurt an animal, and I can be worse than any grizzly you have ever met.  Let someone say or do something that hurts someone I care about, and most of the time they will be standing there at the end with what’s left of their ego shredded at their feet.

With the Yuletide season fast approaching, I think about my own nature.  Sure, I would love for people to see me and automatically think that I have the spirit and nature of Father Christmas.  Sometimes I do.  I would love to subscribe to the teaching that all fat folks are jolly.  Sometimes I am.  But I would hope moreso that someone would look at me…..deep into my eyes….even deeper into my spirit…and see that I can be all those things. I would hope that they would see something glimmering, glistening deep in my heart….something that goes far beyond your preconceived notions of me.

Yes.  I am a bitch.  I am proud to be a bitch. There is, however, a lot more to me than that.

All Creatures Great and Small

As I look back on this week, I think of so many  nights I have spent with a little dog whining in the background as I wrestle with sleep.  Rest has seemed so far from reach.  Questions swirl in my mind: Why is she whining?  Does she have to go outside?  She shouldn’t.  Does she hurt? No.  Does she want attention and to be coddled? Probably.

Most people look at the puppies and kittens in kennels at local shelters or on tv and think, “Oh, it’s so cute!”  We forget that each one takes nurturing,  time and a whole lot of energy.  I wonder if what we truly equate them with is a breathing stuffed animal.

A companion animal is so much more!  We fail to see that when we invite a companion into our lives, what we are really taking on is a life… and all of the responsibility that comes with it.

Out of the four animals I live with (Frisbee, Bella, Tamira, and Merlin), two have definitely been more challenging.  Those two would be Merlin and Bella.

As a kitten, Merlin would urinate anywhere he wanted.  We found urine spots on chairs, rugs, carpet…you name it.  I became very frustrated that I couldnt discern the cause of this inappropriate urination.  Urinalyses were done. Anything we could do to rule out any physical issues was tried.  Finally, with a veterinarians help, we came to the conclusion that it was behavioral, so we put Merlin on amytriptyline.  It took the maximum dosage and then he became a shell of the formerly lively kitten that we had brought into our home.  After a while, you begin to wonder if the poor cat is even functioning or if he is walking around in a constant stupor.  We were able to eventually wean him off the amytriptyline and realized  from that point on we would have to have apartments with hardwood floors.  Since the weaning, we have had no episodes in years and  Merlin seems to be a happier cat.  We do realize that others would not have been as patient or as diligent as we were in finding a solution.  I have seen people put a cat to sleep for what is deemed “innapropriate urination.”  I would be lying to you if I told you that the thought had not crossed my mind.  This is something that I am not at all proud of.  It is unfathomable where our minds will take us when we see the end of our limits are being reached.

Our next challenge is named Bella.  Bella has been one issue after another since the day we brought her home.  I knew I was in for a long haul the first night we had her with us at my mother’s home.  She whined and cried all night long.  She was inconsolable.  I tried to comfort her, my mom tried to comfort her, and even my neices tried to comfort her.  Nothing worked.  My partner Jay walked into the room and the moment he touched her, she calmed down and went to sleep and there the trouble began. 

First of all, Bella is a dachshund.  This breed is known for being obstinant, demanding, and a bit high maintenance.  I guess I knew from the beginning that I would be the responsible adult and disciplinarian.  My duties include medicating, vet visits, and “No, Bella, no!”  She probably often thinks her name is “Dammit Bella.” My partner would be her cuddle buddy and tv pillow.  He is the love of her life. 

Bella has had a couple of medical issues from early on that have always needed attention.  She’s  always had skin issues.  When I say skin issues, I mean stinky, yeasty, with the tendency to smell like a Frito skin issues.  She has been on rounds of medication for this, and I can count on dealing with a flare-up twice yearly.  Another issue stems from her bladder and vulva.  She has a recessed vulva which makes her prone to bacterial infections.  I can count on at least two flare-ups of this a year.  Typically, month long courses of antibiotics resolve it.

This year, however, brought a new challenge.  Bella was diagnosed with bladder stones.  The stones were small, but still difficult to deal with.  She was put on a course of antibiotics, a special diet, increased water consumption and much more attention.

The increased attention resulted in her whining receiving more credence.  When she whined, she was taken out.  When she whined, she ate. The list goes on.  So now we are dealing with a lot of unnecessary whining.  So now I am in the process of trying to reprogram this behavior with extra walks, not responding to every little noise, etc.

Everything I do for my pets, I do out of love and commitment.  When I agreed to take these little furballs into my house and life, I made a promise.  I promised that they would receive everything they needed for a happy, healthy, and comfortable life.  I am not willing to go back on that promise. 

The two pets that aren’t as demanding get no less love and energy than the ones who have special needs.  I respect them. I love them. I need them as much as they need me.  No one, and I do mean no one loves me as unconditionally as one of these stubborn noisy little critters.

The ponderings of a weathered wise man

Here we are, already submerged into the early part of November.  The full moon coming up is The Dark Moon (Celtic) or The Snow Moon (Old English).  This time of year brings mixed emotions for me.  Melancholia allows me to indulge my body with those foods that make it feel better.   My tendency is to stockpile it with fattening foods (breads, cakes, pastas)  and then hibernate like the big Grizzly Bear and sleep through the winter.  But, my sense of child-like wonder over  the excitement of the season makes me want to bounce around like a puppy, thrilled by every little change (the smell of the air, the crispness around me).  I watch everything change around me and am saddened and thrilled at the same time.  The birds that circle me are no longer the bluebirds and the robins the once trilled their summer songs to serenade the Great Lady.  Now the sounds that echo are the harsh “caws” that shatter the black and white of winter, still serenading another Great Lady (The Morrigan), heralding the change that is ever so a part of her. 

This is the time of year that many of us pull closer those things we treasure.  We celebrate those things which we are thankful for and ruminate on those things we didn’t get quite right.  But shouldn’t we celebrate the positive every day?

 Most see this time of year as a time of death. But without the dark there is no light.  Without death there is no promise of rebirth.  Many fear the trasition from life to death to life.  My experience affords a different viewpoint.  It is this transition that I have been mulling over lately.  Three of my family members are fighting cancer at the moment.  The rest of the family is viewing this as a finale…..the last curtain call.  I see it, as do the ones facing the cancer, as an intermission.  There will be a rebirth.  As the author JM Barrie said in his work “Peter Pan,” “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” To live every day is an exciting moment!  The challenges we face, the things we see…..we will never behold exactly the same again. 

I feel as though I am living in Medieval times.  I am the wizard who walks a path slowly with my staff, anticipating dragons, elves, or other wizards around every corner, but never letting it concern me enough to push me off my course.  There may come detours and things that will detain us, but when it comes to the spell, the only things that matter are the intent and the follow through.  Witches and Wizards we may be, but we do have to walk through the mundane…..which, if you remain open and look carefully, is never truly mundane at all.