Onyx – One Pit Bull’s Second Chance

Back in early March, a black dog showed up in my driveway.  She was severely emaciated and had been beaten half to death, and evidently was dumped on the low-traffic dead-end road to die.  In spite of her condition – or more likely because of it – none of us could get close to her.  I was never able to take photos of her because every time she spotted a human she would stagger into the woods.  I took the pragmatic (and I’ll admit cold) attitude that she would die or she wouldn’t, but there was little I could do about it if I couldn’t catch her.  I wanted to give her a fighting chance all the same so I started putting food out at the curve of the driveway.  One day during that period Danielle Hoversten gave me a pork shoulder bone with a great deal of good skin and fatty meat still attached, with instructions to give it to my dogs.  I thought about it and decided it would be better used as a gift to the poor starving “pibble” I’d been feeding than to my own pampered pooches and their equally pampered foster siblings.  Evidently our “pibble” thought so too, because there wasn’t a scrap left in the dish when I stopped to refill it the next morning.  She got dry kibble (Natural Balance mostly); she also got boiled chicken and rice; canned tuna; canned salmon; grilled salmon; and many other things that probably made my dogs very jealous.

This went on for a little more than a month, when finally my landlord at the time was able to catch her.  Damon, my son, and I went over to get her.  I knew going in that bringing a Pit Bull-type mix into my pack and my family was a huge risk, but by this point I knew she wouldn’t survive the animal shelter.  Don’t get me wrong – our ACOs in Stokes County are amazing, and they do everything they can to find homes for the dogs that come through the shelter – but the volume is too high, and this poor dog was in an extremely unadoptable condition.

 

She’d put on a little weight, but still had much more to gain to be considered healthy.  Most of her wounds had healed, though a couple of the worst needed a little work.  She kept her head turned and her eyes averted, and didn’t struggle against me at all, though she also didn’t make any effort to make handling her any easier.  She was just limp, like a rag dog.  I pulled out the leash and she got those scared eyes that a dog gets when it knows it’s in trouble.  I put the leash around her neck and she exploded, struggling and bucking and fighting against me like a wild thing.  I released the leash and it slipped off her neck and she hit the ground like a switch had been turned off.  OK; we’d do it without the leash.  Someone had hurt her with a leash and she was as a result terrified of it.  I had a bad feeling… but it was outweighed by an intense rush of sympathy for her and anger at whoever had hurt her.  I won’t say what I wish I could do if I found out who did those things to that dog…  Suffice it to say that if I ever find out who hurt her, who tried to fight her, it will not end well for that person.

 

Even in her half-starved state she was too heavy for me to carry all the way home – not to mention the fact I frankly didn’t want a strange, frightened, stressed dog of ANY breed that close to my face for an extended period of time.  In the end Damon had to go home and get my car and bring it around so that we could drive her the few hundred yards to my house.  She rode draped across my lap, head and eyes still averted.  She didn’t move a muscle.  At home I carried her into the house – there she again panicked; I quickly brought her into the back yard, where she lay still while the other dogs checked her out, then belly-crawled into a vacant doghouse, where she spent most of the next two days.  That evening I crawled into the doghouse with her and injected her with parvo/distemper vaccine, squirted Bordatella vaccine up her nose, and wormed her.  I dragged her out so that I could run my hands over her body and assess her wounds, which I cleaned with warm soapy water and peroxide.  I gave her every opportunity to bite me and she consistently refused to do so.

Two days later we had her spayed – and though it was a risk to her in her condition, I’m glad we authorized the procedure, because it turned out she was pregnant, and the last thing this world needs is one more litter of unwanted “pibble” puppies.

 

Did you know that the number one animal euthanized in shelters in North Carolina is the cat… but number two is the Pit Bull-type dog?  This is a vastly under-served group of breeds (American Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, to name a few.)  They are overly-sensationalized, get a great deal of negative press, and most people are either afraid of them or want them for the wrong reasons.  The handful of rescue groups who deal specifically with Pit Bull-type dogs are full, and most general rescues won’t take them at all because they’re just hard to move and have such negative stereotypes attached to them.  SCHS currently has one other “pibble” mix in foster care – her name is Tulip and she’s been with her foster mom for two years.  For that reason, SCHS was reluctant to bring another Pit-type mix into the program… but on the other hand, we agreed we had little choice with this dog.

 

I decided to call this gal Onyx.  My husband called her Blackie, and my teenage children (ages 14, 16 and almost 18) insisted that her name was Reptar.  It’s a good thing that I’m her primary handler, because Onyx is the name she recognizes!

She gradually began to come out of her shell and warmed up to the family – though she warmed up to the dogs long before she trusted us, and she bonded with my 14-year-old daughter Bridget before she would have anything to do with the rest of us.  She is very young – around a year old – and she still plays very rough, which is ok for some of my dogs but not for others.  During the first month she was with us there were two dog fights.  The first time, Onyx and my 4 year old Pointer mix, Peaches, got into a fight – Peaches started the fight and took the worst of the injuries, and in my honest opinion she deserved everything she got; but it cost me quite a bit of money, and Peaches had to stay in the house afterward and was only able to be around Onyx under adult human supervision.  Onyx also fought one other of my fosters, a little black & tan hound mix named Ladybug; I’m not sure who started that one but I have a feeling it was a result of Ladybug objecting to Onyx’s roughhousing.  In any event, it was evident from these two fights that Onyx isn’t a fighter by nature; there were no kill-wounds on either Peaches or Ladybug, and Onyx stopped fighting on her own when my husband told her to stop – dangerous dogs fight to kill and don’t stop until the adversary is dead.

 

Our SCHS trainer advised after the second fight that we should separate Onyx from the other dogs and not let her around them under any circumstances.  I struggled for quite some time with that and finally hubby and I decided not to heed the expert’s advice.  Our fear was that it would frustrate Onyx and would be a setback in what was otherwise, in my humble opinion, a marvelous recovery.  Maybe we should have heeded her advice – maybe not.  Onyx was doing so well with the males – Max and Nanuq – and with my sweet submissive Maggie,  that I couldn’t imagine her fighting again.

 

At the end of August, we moved to my mother’s farm.  I call it a farm – it’s going to become one again, though it hasn’t been farmed in many years.   That is a subject for another blog post.  Mama has three acres, two of which are surrounded by a five foot welded wire fence.  She has a whole passel of frou-frou yappy little dogs, a Pyrie, a Basset Hound, and a very elderly pointer mix.  We fenced the front quarter-acre all the way across for my dogs, leaving the remaining property for hers.  The move was chaotic for all involved, but it was done and we settled in, critters and all.

 

The first weekend of September we took Onyx to the Stokes Stomp, our annual fall festival here in Stokes County.  She did very well.  She met many new people, including a young teen with Downs Syndrome, with whom she communed for quite some time.  I wish someone had taken a photo – it would have been a perfect positive PR bit for the Pit Bull breeds.

 

The second weekend in September Onyx jumped on Maggie.  Once again, hubby was home and was able to stop it with nothing more than his verbal command that they stop.  Maggie only had one bad bite, to her thigh.  This time, though, hubby had had enough.

 

“She has to go,” he said.  “Today.”

 

He was adamant.  No amount of tears or pleading on my part could sway him.  At this point the SCHS Executive Director and one of our SCHS volunteers stepped up and started reaching out.  They found a rescuer who would take her.  The catch was, though the volunteer was familiar with the rescuer, none of the rest of us were.  I informed hubby that the rescuer was willing to take Onyx, but that we were going to deliver her there, and if I didn’t like what I saw we would be bringing Onyx home again.

 

We drove to Hamptonville that Saturday evening.  Hamptonville is between Yadkinville and North Wilkesboro on 421.  It’s about an hour & a half from us.  Yahoo! Maps says two hours, but Yahoo! Maps doesn’t take my husband’s lead foot into account.

 

It was dark when we pulled up outside the single-wide trailer.  I was apprehensive, but I refused to make any premature judgments.  I myself have lived in both single-wide and double-wide trailers, and might again.  I would NOT judge this person based on her home.

 

She came out to the car as we stepped onto her driveway.  She looked to be about 15.  “Amber?”  I asked.

 

“You must be Heather!” she responded with a firm handshake.  “This is my husband.”  She introduced us to her hubby and I introduced her to mine.  Then I introduced her to Onyx.

 

Amber, as it turns out, is 23 years old and very active in rescue.  She mainly works with the Pit Bull breeds, but she’s got others as well.  Including her own personal dogs she has facilities for ten dogs at one time.  Including my own dogs and Onyx, I had ten as well.  She had had an adoption the day before – that’s the only reason she was able to take Onyx.  I explained that Onyx is female aggressive; Amber was not concerned.  She said that’s typical with Pit Bull breeds.  She herself has one female aggressive foster and two of her own dogs are male aggressive.  She happily showed me around her place, and I confess myself impressed.  It’s not a shelter facility by any means… but neither is mine.  Amber at 23 is pretty much where I am at 35, and yes, I really am impressed.  She is young, but I feel she will go far in the rescue world.  After all, it’s about the dogs, and Amber, much like myself, has little care for anything besides the dogs.

 

I cried when we drove away without Onyx.  I doubt I’ll ever completely recover from her.   Every dog should make an impact on a human’s life… but every so often a dog comes along that is so miraculous the mark it makes is like a scar.  I know I’ll never forget her.  I’ll never be sorry for any of it, either.  And I can live my life knowing that I took an abused, unloved Pit Bull and showed her that human beings could be sources of love and kindness as well as pain and cruelty.  I hope she never forgets that.

                     

 

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The Ups and Downs of Fostering Canines

 

We lost Remy today.

Wednesday I was off for the holiday so I got up early, walked my various and sundry dogs (I’m up to ten at present – don’t judge me), then took Charles’ pup Nanuq with me over to Mama’s to pick blueberries.  Remy was fine then.  He chased cats with his best friend Buddy the Basset Hound, caught on quickly to picking blueberries (which dogs love, FYI, and they’re so good and as good for dogs as they are for us), and he played with Nanuq.  He’d had a good breakfast that morning and was ready for the day.

Wednesday evening Remy refused his supper.  This was enough unlike the chow-hound that we’ve grown to love that Mama called me and said that while she was worried, she would give him til the next morning.  We hoped it was the heat.  We hoped Thursday morning he’d be back to his old self.

Thursday morning Remy refused his breakfast, though he did accept a piece of boiled chicken with his Prednisone.  Mama called Triad and they asked her to bring him on in and drop him off – they’d keep him over the weekend and see how he did.

Thursday evening Remy ate his supper for the Triad staff, but by Friday morning (this morning) he was refusing food again and this time it was obvious he didn’t feel well.  Remy has been sick for seven months and this was really the first time since his diagnosis that he hasn’t felt well.  They called and suggested that Mama might want to come and see him, and asked if she wanted to be present when he was euthanized.  At first she said not, but then she reconsidered.  She called me as she was getting ready to leave the house – Did I want to come too?

I had to take an early lunch today for another reason, but I made time to swing through Kernersville and visit Remy.  He was very glad to see us.  We walked him outside, and he wanted to get in Mama’s car and go home – he said he was sure he’d feel better at home.  We explained to him that we’d love to take him home but he needed to wait on Dr. Marti.  Sometimes it’s ok to tell sick dogs a little fib so they don’t worry.  He said that was fine and that he was ready to go back inside.  We sat in an exam room with him for awhile – he sat in my lap, licked both our faces, and then wanted to go back out into the lobby to visit with the staff.  There were no patients waiting so we let him.  He went back into the storage room and returned with a ball, which he brought to Mama.  She tried to take it from him but he bore down, dug in, and held on.  This is how Remy plays ball.  Oh, sure, he likes to chase it sometimes, but he’d far rather play tug of war with it.

I couldn’t stay very long – just half an hour or forty five minutes – but Mama stayed on after I headed back to work.  I hadn’t been back at the office long when she called me.  He was vomiting and Dr. Marti and Dr. McGinnis felt it would be best to go ahead and euthanize him.  Mama said she’d already left the clinic but when they called she turned around and went back. She was with him at the end.  I wish I could hav ebeen, but I’m glad Mama was, and I know that the staff at Triad loved Remy just as much as we did; he was, after all, their dog.  And Remy loved them too, as much as he loved us.

They gave Mama a cast of his paw print, and said they would email us some good photos of him.  We’ll go through ours and send them copies of what we’ve got too.

When I got off the phone I had to close my office door and sit down and cry.

Later on in the afternoon I got a second phone call.  This one was from Susan with The Mosby Foundation, to which I’d applied for a grant to help with Baby’s surgery expenses.  They’re inclined to help us; she needed our vet info, which I confirmed with Mona before sending.  They are donating $200.  This put us within $100 of being able to have one leg done.  This was the best possible news I could imagine today.  I’m so relieved.  In fact, if not for losing Remy, I would probably be plain giddy.

Maybe I am a little giddy.  I want to laugh and I want to cry.  I’ve done both and will probably wind up doing more of both before this day ends.

I had to give Baby a pain pill yesterday morning, and another last night.  This morning she wasn’t limping as much so I didn’t give her one.  Onyx is too rough with her so I’ve stopped taking her out back even though she likes walking back there now that Onyx and Nanuq are the only puppies.  (Puppies – ha!  Onyx is a pit mix and around a year old, no older, and is taller than Baby; Nanuq is only four & a half months old and is already as tall as Baby and still growing!)

This thing with Baby scares me, because she’s only five years old, and she’s in very good health even if she is somewhat overweight; she’s playful; she’s affectionate; and she’s a mighty chicken stalker… but she’s also got two extremely fragile knees.  I had to fuss at her and at Bridget a couple of weeks ago because Bridget was out front walking Baby and Baby wanted to run so Bridget decided to run with her.  They were running and jumping and carrying on like a dog OUGHT to be able to do with a kid, and I had to fuss at them for acting normal, because Baby’s NOT normal.

One break is all it would take.  One bad landing, one trip, one stumble, just one break.  Snap, and Baby’s life would be over.  Dr. Cowan said she can repair what we’re looking at right now, but that if further damage is done she doubts it will be fixable.  And when a dog does irreparable damage to one leg and has a bad joint on the other, there’s often little choice left besides PTS.  And I just don’t want to think of Baby being PTS.

I told Baby and Bridget that when I scolded them, and Bridget’s brown eyes got big and moist and she had this little bit of a quivewr to her chin when she said, “I’d NEVER hurt Baby on purpose.  I won’t let her run again.  I forgot that she’s not like the other dogs is all.”  And Baby sat there staring at me with her big moist brown eyes and she said, “But I’m a DOG.  I’m SUPPOSED to run and jump with this kid, because that’s what dogs do!”

When I got home this evening I got a second phone call.  That $100 difference between what we’ve got, what’s been pledged and what we need – you remember that difference, right?  Well, this second phone call was from another wonderful charity group called RedRover and they’re donating the $100.  Do you know what that means?  That means that we now have the money to have the operation on leg #1.

While that’s excellent news, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we’re only half-way there.  We can have one leg done – but now we have another $750 – $1,000 to raise for Baby’s OTHER leg.  We’ll get there the same way we got here – $5 or $25 or $100 at a time.  It’s all about small steps – they do tend to add up.

So this has been a day of true ups and downs.  Remy’s gone.  He got to be a dog and was a damn fine dog when he was doing it.  He’s crossed the Rainbow Bridge and no doubt he’s looking for celestial cats to chase.  He enjoyed chasing cats.  He never wanted to catch them – when he’d get one cornered he’d paw and bark at it until it would run again.  When he’d come across one sunning he’d tease it until it would run.  Remy was all about the chase – he didn’t care about winning, only about running.

And now we’re half-way along on Baby’s long road to a semi-normal life.  She’ll never get to be as much of a dog as Remy was… but she’ll get to be more of a dog than she is right now.  Once this leg is done we’ll have six to eight weeks of recovery time, and then, if we have the funds, we’ll be able to do the other leg.

It took us EIGHT MONTHS to raise $750 for the first surgery.  Surely to goodness it won’t be another eight months before we can do the other.

If you would like to donate to Baby’s surgery fund, you can do so by visiting www.stokescountyhumanesociety.com and clicking the “Our Furbabies” link to the left of the page.  If you’re on Facebook, visit Baby’s very own page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/BabysLuxatingPatella.

We can only do this with your help.

Baby the Wonder Dog

In mid-October 2011, shortly after my 35th birthday, I was the “victim” of a corporate downsizing.  The company offered a fair severence deal – my salary through the end of the year – so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I laid around the house a couple of days, and then I decided to go on a shopping spree.  I bought new clothes for my pending job search; suits, tops, slacks… I went to Ross so it’s not like I went overboard or anything.  Of course when one is unemployed one can only spend so much money without guilt, severance or not, and so after I shopped for a couple of days I was bored again.

I spent time with the dogs – Max and Peaches, my own dogs; Maggie, my first rescue and a classic foster fail, and her five remaining puppies – Georgia, Hershey, Lil’ Bit, Po, and Chunkybutt.  I took them places – not all at once.  I had long philosophical discussions with them.  I played a lot of fetch.  But contrary to popular belief, there are periods throughout the day when dogs don’t want to play fetch or engage in philosophy.  Those periods are called “nap times.”  During “nap times” I was still bored.  Oh, I took one nice nap each day, but one can’t nap as often – or as long – as a dog and still sleep through the night.

I had become semi-involved with Stokes County Humane Society at this point, though not as involved as I was about to become.  One “nap time” I was on Facebook, that most wonderful of all social networking inventions, when a fellow rescuer/SCHS volunteer sent me a message on Facebook:  “Female dog with 9 pups at the shelter – do you know anyone that can help?”

(Coincidentally this is the same friend who gave me notice of Maggie’s plight back in July.)

Maggie’s pups were the most amazing pups ever.  Maggie was a wonderful mother.  Things with Maggie had gone very smoothly, all told.  It would be that way again!  I would go and rescue this dog and her puppies, and it would be a walk in the park!  I was doing the Lord’s work, and He would never send me more than I could handle!

I’m convinced that the Lord enjoys a good joke as well as anyone, and He possesses a very twisted sense of humor.

I was babysitting my nephew that morning – he was suspended from school for getting beat up.  I’ll blog about THAT subject another time.

“Gaven,” I said.  “I’m going to go to the dog pound.  You need to sit in the lobby and be very good while I’m there, and don’t touch anything.”

“Are we getting a dog?” was his eager response.

“Maybe,” I said.  “I want to see her first.”

So we rode over to the animal shelter, and Sarah took me back to meet the little mama.  Little is a relative term – this was a shorter dog, appeared to be an Aussie/spaniel mix of some sort, but she was the fattest dog for her size I’d ever seen, and nursing a litter of nine fat, rolly-polly, adorable four week old puppies to boot!

Sarah opened the kennel door, and I walked in and knelt down.  Mama dog raised her head and looked at me.  I spoke to her and held out a hand; after a minute her tail began to thump the floor and she licked my fingers.  I picked up a puppy; the tail never stopped wagging, but mama dog did lay her head back down and heave a sigh.  She knew why I was there, bless her soul.

I had so much to do – I needed to go home, set up Rosie’s/Maggie’s crate, find the old towels and sheets, and on and on.

“Don’t do anything with her,” I told Sarah.  “I’ll be back for her.”

On the way home, Gaven asked, “Aunt Heather, are we getting a dog?”

“Yes, we are,” I told him.  “And she has nine puppies!”

“Just like Maggie!” was his enthusiastic response.

Wrong!

Things went smoothly at first.  My husband was home when Gaven & I got back & nothing would do but that we turn around and go ahead and pick her up.  He won’t admit it, but Charles enjoys this rescuing – not as much as I do, but he does enjoy it.

Sarah told me her name was Baby, and she was an owner surrender.  The owner’s statement was, “We can’t do it anymore.”

I made Gaven ride in the front seat on the way home from the shelter.  Strange dog with puppies + 9 year old nephew could possibly equal a bad situation.  I’m very careful with new dogs.  I didn’t have anything to worry about with Baby.

I laid one of the back seats down and I sat on the other one.  The theory was that Baby and her puppies would ride in the cargo area but if I needed to I could reach them via the laid-down seat.  What REALLY happened was that overweight mama dog rode home IN MY LAP and the puppies kept falling off the seat and into the floorboard, so I was squished and rescuing puppies the entire ride home.

Once home, we carried the puppies inside and installed them in the crate.  Then I went back for Baby.  Baby spotted Max, Peaches, Maggie, and Maggie’s puppies in the fenced backyard and went ballistic.  She roared challenges, insulted their mothers, called them lily-livered cowards and codfish, and said things that I would blush to put in my public blog.

That was my first hint that this wasn’t going to be quite the breeze Maggie & her pups had been.

Baby didn’t want to take care of her puppies.  She didn’t want to nurse them; she didn’t want to clean up their poopy messes; she didn’t want to be around them the majority of the time.  She was a terrible mother.

I had to bathe the puppies daily – sometimes Mama would come over & help me.  She wishes she’d had the sense to get a video of them in the tub – they would sit and howl so mournfully.  They HATED bathtimes!  But if I left the house, by the time I’d come back they’d be covered in pee, poop, and mushy puppy soup.

Within a few days I had an inkling that something was more than not right – something was dreadfully WRONG.  I was trying to make Baby get in the crate to nurse her puppies.  I opened the crate door and the puppies rushed out.  They knocked Baby down.  She gave a heart-wrenching cry of pain as she went down, and as the puppies swarmed over her and found teats, she lay trembling and whining and staring at me with wide, frightened eyes.

I called Mona, and Mona set me up an appointment with a vet in Kernersville.  The verdict:  Baby was suffering from bi-lateral luxating patella.  We took her to a vet in Walnut Cove for a second opinion – same diagnosis, except this vet recommended putting Baby on a diet.   She also quoted a fairly steep price for the necessary surgeries.  We’ve been fundraising ever since.  We’re close to half-way there, but it’s taken seven months to get here, and I really hope it doesn’t take another seven months to raise the rest.  Baby deserves better than that.

I’ve gotten to know Baby fairly well over the last seven months.  She’s opinionated, self-centered, always hungry, and nosy.  She’s also sweet, loving, playful, and funny.  If she needs to go outside and I don’t jump up as soon as she scratches the door, she’ll start talking about it.  She’ll start out with a few whuffs under her breath.  If I still don’t answer, she’ll escalate to barking, but she goes through several increases in volume along the way.  And if that fails to elicit a response, she’ll come to me, climb into my lap, and bark in my face.

Baby has developed a relationship with my pack, and enjoys the steady stream of older puppies that comes through.  She’s still aggressive toward strange dogs, though.  Honestly, I don’t know if it’s real aggression or if she’s just so unsocialized that she doesn’t know the proper way of approaching other dogs.  I do know that she’d start a fight if I’d let her, whether she intended to or not.

She’s always had a keen interest in birds.  When I walk her she’ll run to the end of her leash and back to me – but if there are birds in the woods she’ll try her best to chase them.  So I don’t know why I was surprised when we moved my chickens outside (they were under a heat lamp in my bathtub to start with) and Baby tried to make a meal of them.  Funny thing – she goes straight for the chicken coop now every time I take her outside.  The other night the stupid hens were sleeping with their heads stuck through the chicken wire.  I barely kept Baby from decapitating one of them – I heard her teeth click together as I pulled her back.

While I have no intentions of letting Baby eat my chickens, I would like to see her be able to run and play like she really desires.  She’ll sit and watch the other dogs play, and she’s got such a keen interest in them.  She likes going places – I take her to soccer games, and when SCHS had a big yard sale fundraiser last weekend I took her to that as well.

Baby is great with children.  She can be jealous if she thinks the children are getting more attention than she is, but that jealousy always manifests in non-aggressive acting out like eating Gaven’s Christmas present, or jumping, or barking, or getting on the furniture – things she knows better than to do but, like a spoiled toddler, she does them because she thinks negative attention is better than no attention at all.

This is Baby napping at soccer practice with the coach's young daughter.
This is Baby napping at soccer practice with the coach’s young daughter.

I’ve called her a pampered princess, a food whore, an attention whore, a little fat thing, and my sweet Baby girl.  In truth,  Baby is a wonder dog and she’s going to make someone an excellent pet someday.  Sadly, she can’t be put up for adoption until her knee surgeries are behind her, and without help, that’s going to be awhile yet.

If you’re able to contribute even a small amount toward Baby’s surgery, then visit http://www.stokescountyhumanesociety.com.  Follow the links on the “Our Fur Babies” page to Baby’s fundraiser.  Every little bit will help.

Modern-Day Heroes

It’s true that the term “hero” is vastly overused today…  But I just read an article about a petite 15-year-old girl who deserves the honor.  Read here about how this young hero leapt into action and saved 25 horses from a horrendous death by burning.  She was unable to save every horse in the stable – but the fact that she put her life in jeopardy to save 25 – returning time and again to the burning stable – speaks volumes about her character.  I imagine her mother is proud of her and furious with her at the same time – this is an emotional paradox with which most mothers and many fathers are familiar.

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/13/11181218-teen-girl-saves-25-horses-from-stable-fire?lite

One Christian’s Word on Amendment 1 in North Carolina – Why I Will Not Support It

I am a Christian.  I identify myself thusly.  I believe that God has forgiven my past sins and will forgive my future sins; and I know I will sin again because I am not a perfect being, though I try not to sin.  I struggle with the concept of sin on a day-to-day basis.  And because of that I am now struggling with this proposed amendment on the upcoming May 8th ballot in North Carolina that supposedly will “legally and officially define marriage as being a union between one man and one woman” – which if you think about it is kind of redundant since same-sex marriage is ALREADY illegal in this state.

I am a Christian.  As a Christian, I am commanded to show Christ to the world in all that I do.  But I’m conflicted about the Christ that is represented in churches today as opposed to the Christ who lived, died, and was resurrected two thousand years ago.

I’m going to talk about Jesus for just a minute, and then I’m going to explain exactly why I have a huge problem with Amendment 1.

Who was Jesus Christ, anyway?  He was God’s Son, yes, begotten of the Spirit on a virgin child named Mary, born in Bethlehem during a census year and raised by a carpenter in Nazareth.  The neighbors probably referred to Him in whispers as Mary’s bastard, and tsked and lordamercied and blessed Joseph’s heart for raising the boy anyway.  The Romans would have viewed Him as a demigod, half god, half man.  They wouldn’t have been too far off – genetically speaking, at any rate.  But Jesus was more than a demigod, because where the Roman gods tended not to claim their halfling offspring, Yahweh God not only claimed Jesus, He anointed Jesus, gave Jesus authority, and sent Jesus out into public ministry.

Jesus, of course, went down Main Street and gathered to Him the deacons and elders of the Church, appointed several boards and committees to oversee His ministry, made sure the Women’s Auxiliary was going to bring fried chicken and potato salad, and promptly held a tent revival where He preached Hell and Damnation and Fire and Brimstone and –

Wait, wait, hold on – that’s not right.  Hang on, let me refer to my Bible… ok, I made a mistake.  Sorry, I got Then and Now confused.

Jesus went down to the Sea of Galilee and recruited a group of smelly, sweaty, fishy fisherman who happened to not be very good fishermen to begin with.  He also recruited a tax collector, a half-breed foreigner, a foreign doctor, a pair of old maids, a whore, and assorted other rejects and dregs of society.  Jesus developed such a large following that the major television evangelists and church leaders – sorry, wrong story again – Jesus developed such a large following that the Pharisees felt their own power was being threatened and they conspired with the half-breed foreigner to sell Him to the Romans for crucifixion.  The Romans, pagans that they were, recognized Jesus as a demigod and Pontius Pilate begged the Jewish leaders not to kill Him – Pilate was a good pagan and read all the right books and had a pretty good idea what would happen if he crucified a demigod.  The Pharisees (not to be confused with all of the Jewish people, just as Westboro Baptist Church doesn’t represent all Christians) paid enough people in the crowd to insist that Jesus be crucified, and Pilate very wisely and publicly – and literally – washed his hands of the matter, advising, “This man’s blood is on your hands, not mine.”  Smart man, Pontius Pilate.  Very smart.

So Jesus was betrayed, betrayed again, betrayed three more times, and then crucified.  I’m not going to elaborate on the gory details this time around – you’re smart, your imagination works, and I’m pretty sure you’re at least vaguely familiar with the story.  Suffice it to say there can’t be too very many worse ways to die.

Three days after He died, Jesus rose from the dead, left the tomb, and showed Himself first to the church elders –

Oh, got Then and Now mixed up again.

Jesus showed Himself first to – are you ready for this? – THE WHORE!

Now I’ll grant you it’s very common knowledge that when He let the whore join His team, He told her “Go and sin no more.”  And she did a very good job of that, by all indications.  But if Then were actually Now, she’d still be referred to as The Whore, if not out loud then in peoples’ thoughts, because that’s how we Christians tend to behave these days.  We’d be extremely jealous, we’d wonder what was going on between those two, and the most righteous holier-than-thou among us would throw a fit and leave the church for not being the one He chose to see Him first.

Go find Todd Agnew’s song My Jesus, and listen to it, and try to reconcile that with the Jesus our church leaders are painting for us today. 

So, now for Amendment 1.

I believe that homosexuality is a sin, an abomination unto God.  But is one sin greater than another?  Is a gay man in more danger of hell than a thief, or a habitual liar, or an adulterer, or a murderer, or a child molester, or an animal abuser?

My understanding of Scripture is that no sin is greater than another in God’s eyes, but that all sins can be forgiven if we but repent.  Ah, repentance.  It’s so nice that we have all those gun-wielding soldiers going around rounding up sinners and pagans and homosexuals and bringing them to the town square and forcing them to repent and killing the ones who refuse.  Heaven would be a pretty empty place if we didn’t force Christianity on the unbelieving masses, just like Jesus went around with His sword-wielding followers back in the day and beheaded everyone who disagreed with Him or refused to convert to His religion (which, for the record, was Judaism, not Christianity – Jesus was a Jew, fyi – true story).

But wait a minute.  IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT.  We have to CHOOSE to repent, we have to humble ourselves before the Lord and ASK for forgiveness – which He then grants, He doesn’t expect us to grovel or do penance or suffer flagellation or any of that stuff, all we have to do is ASK, which very clearly indicates CHOICE.

I’m not going to get into whether homosexuality is a choice – as it happens my belief on that matter is complicated and involves predisposition as well as choice, with one being no less valid than the other – but that’s another blog for another day.

What I am going to get into is why Amendment 1 is dangerous.

First, we live in a free country.  We’re free to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, pagan, wiccan, Satanist, whatever – that’s our choice, and no one religious group is allowed to force us to join any other religious group.  We’re also free to be gay or straight.  We’re free to be doctors or work at McDonald’s, if we so choose.  We’re free to join the military or not.  We’re free to get married or just live together (though in some states, NC being one of them, there are still archaic laws on the books making co-habitation of non-married intimate couples illegal).  In short, we’re free to do ANYTHING that doesn’t 1) break a law; and 2) infringe on the civil liberties of any other American citizen.

Amendment 1 infringes on the civil liberties of practicing homosexuals.  We wouldn’t be considering a Jim Crow amendment today, people – so why are we considering a 21st century amendment that is so very like a Jim Crow amendment that you can strike homosexual or same-sex from the verbiage and insert “black” or “interracial?”

The language in Amendment 1 is so vague that there is question whether or not co-habitating straight couples will retain protection under law.  In Ohio, co-habitating straight couples LOST the protection of domestic violence laws when a similar amendment was passed – this is NOT GOOD!

Amendment 1 will prohibit biological children of one partner in a homosexual union from being covered by the health insurance of the non-biological same-sex parent.  Also NOT GOOD.    That language is also vague enough that it could lead to biological children of co-habitating straight couples not being eligible for health coverage in certain cases.

Amendment 1 will prohibit employers from offering any benefits to couples living in civil unions, whether they are gay or straight.  And you know what?  Quite honestly, it’s no skin off my nose if Live-in Boyfriend wants to cover long-term Live-in Girlfriend as a civil partner on his health insurance policy – or if Gay Man wants to cover long-term Live-in Gay Boyfriend on HIS policy!  It costs me NOTHING.

Yes, American society’s moral values are degenerating.  Yes, Americans have become loose, amoral, and promiscuous.  Yes, I see this as a moral problem – but I don’t know that the way to combat this is to force the religious and moral beliefs of one group onto another.  Remember that part about salvation being a choice?  We cry foul when Christians are persecuted in Middle Eastern countries… but with legislation like Amendment 1, we’re becoming no better than they, and are in fact hypocrites to cry foul when we ourselves are persecuting those who are different right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I have a feeling that if Jesus was around today, He wouldn’t do his recruiting at the Baptist or Catholic or Methodist or Moravian Church.  He’d go to the gay bars, the strip clubs, the crack houses, and the ghetto, and He’d gather to Him the dregs of society.  He would tell them, just as He did Mary Magdalene the whore, “Go, and sin no more.”  And you know, even though I know that there are homosexuals who are going to disagree with me on this one – those people would follow Jesus, and they would for the most part do their utmost to sin no more.  They wouldn’t always be successful – but in becoming a follower of the Christ, it’s not success that measures salvation – it’s the trying, and failing, and repenting, and getting up, and brushing off, and trying again that count.

I am a Christian.  And while I do personally believe that homosexuality is a sin and a moral flaw, I am vehemently OPPOSED to Amendment 1.

The Attack of the Killer Possum

 

(Yes, I know it’s spelled opossum, but I live in North Carolina.  Nuff said.)

 

I was sick yesterday.  I mean, S-I-C-K.  If-I-wasn’t-temping-and-had-sick-leave-I’d-have-gone-home  sick.  So after supper (hubby grilled bbq pork chops – none of this NC brown sugar and vinegar bbq crap, we use Absolutely Wild barbecue sauce, produced & bottled in Abilene, TX.  I’ve discovered it can be purchased online – joy, joy, joy!) –

Where was I?  The dastardly parentheses distracted me.  Oh, yes –

So after supper, I half-heartedly played online for awhile before calling it an early night and heading to bed.

I slept hard for what felt like hours.  You know how it is – you don’t feel good, you’re sleeping like a log – and then something wakes you and you’re disoriented and fuzzy.  Yeah, that happened.  I was sure it must be morning – imagine my surprise when I looked at my clock and it was only 11:30ish!

I lay in bed trying to figure out whether I should be alarmed or just go back to sleep.

After a moment the realization penetrated my consciousness – someone was banging on the front door!  And all the lights were on!  And hubby wasn’t in bed!

I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the living room – not the smartest thing to do – I didn’t even stop for the shotgun, which is my usual recourse when someone pounds on my door in the middle of the night.  Hubby was standing at the door in his pajamas – and he was the source of the banging.

“Whasgoinon?”  I asked.  At least that was my intent – not sure what it actually sounded like, but that’s what I meant.

Hubby pounded a few more times on the front door and responded – all I caught was something about Vannesa being home from work.

“Why’re you banging on the door?” I asked.  I’m sure it was more of a whine than a query. 

“Because,” hubby answered in that tone that indicated this was his second time telling me, “Vannesa’s home and there are two possums on the front porch and she’s afraid to come to the door.”

He then dismissed me and picked up his cell.  “Yeah, are they still out there?  Ok, ok – come around back.  No, no, I’ll get the dogs – yeah, they probably will jump on you – well, would you rather have to face the dogs or the possums?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

He went to the back door and out onto the back porch.  I stared at the front door for a few years, and then went to look through the peep hole.  I saw nothing – but that doesn’t mean anything, since the peep hole leaves a ton of blind spots for a clever possum to hide from view.

After another month or two passed, Charles and Vannesa appeared in the living room.  There were some puppy-sized paw prints on Vannesa’s pants – I’m sure she probably died three deaths when the dogs touched her.  She has developed a marked dislike for fur-bearing mammals; I’m pretty sure she’s been body-snatched by aliens, because how else could any child of mine be so averse to furry critters?  Especially dogs.  I could understand her not liking possums if she at least liked dogs.

I’m pretty sure nothing like this ever happened to her:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t turn this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

into this:

 

 

 

 

 

Once the excitement was over I lugged myself back to bed & slept like the dead til morning.  I told Bridget about the possum incident – then asked her to walk Baby.  She politely declined so I walked Baby myself.  First, though, I made sure there weren’t any possums lurking in wait for Vannesa…

All joking aside – possums can be fierce when cornered.  The whole “they’ll always play possum to avoid confrontation” spiel is wrong.  I’ve had dogs torn up by possums more than once.  Vannesa was perfectly right to go out of her way to avoid the two that were on my porch last night. 

Wild animals are wild.  It’s best to watch them from a distance, and call a professional wildlife rehabber or wildlife remover rather than approach a wild animal yourself.

Living Vicariously Through My Kids…

There are so many places I’ve always wanted to go and haven’t had the chance to go yet.  While I hold onto the hope that I’ll visit these places someday, I also accept the possibility that I won’t.  So when Damon & Vannesa had the opportunity to go to New York City (high on my list of where-I-want-to-go), I tried to persuade them both to go.  Vannesa put down a deposit but then decided not to go – too bad the deposit was non-refundable.  Damon, on the other hand, went – my mom helped hubby & I come up with the rest of the money for his trip.  Here are some photos from his trip: