Being a woman, it follows that I hate almost everything about my physical appearance.
Maybe that isn’t true. Hopefully it isn’t true for any of the women who might read this. But, we are told by every commercial, every magazine, and every soup label that who we are and how we look is wrong.* Societal disdain is a hard enemy to combat and most days, I don’t even try. I accept the fact that I don’t look like a Hollywood celebrity – noting that most Hollywood celebrities don’t even look like Hollywood celebrities – and try not to think about how others would rate my attractiveness.
Cat ears notwithstanding, I recall being happy with my hairstyle that day
Age has taught me that none of it counts. Manicures are for twenty-somethings in the midst of quarter-life crises. Me? I have a dog to wrangle.
Except in one area, that is. I may have given up on having clear skin, may not have weighed myself in at least five years, and may have embraced the classic t-shirt as my personal statement, but I spend a superfluous amount of time thinking about my hair. It is a vanity I cannot dethrone.
This is not to say that I think it always looks photo-worthy. Please. I am not the kind of woman who gets up at three in the morning to spend four hours making sure her tresses gleam. At least, I am not any more. (See aforementioned dog.) If it doesn’t look remotely decent, however, I have difficulty holding my head high when going to the grocery store. I don’t care about my tattered jeans or my dirty shoes when running out for cat food. I have to make sure my hair is clean and in place. In an ideal world, it would also be trimmed every six weeks.
Clearly, things often amble far from the ideal. Six or seven years ago I may have subsisted on ramen in order to pay for regular salon visits, which may be a part of the reason I am in a bit of a fiscal downturn, but this wasn’t sustainable. The biggest problem with this: when I let my hair situation slide too far, my confidence slithers right along with it. Basically, if my hair looks like crap, I feel like crap.
It is a bit ridiculous, I realize. No one else cares or even notices. I never judge anyone else for something as petty as the shape, length, or style of their locks, It is foolish to hinge so much of my personal pride on a pretty mane.
Logic has no place here. When my hair has split ends up to my eyebrows, I can’t help but reflect on past splendor. It seems like just yesterday I was walking around with this super-cute style:
If I remember correctly, the colour lasted about a week before it turned poop-red. It was lovely for the seven days it hung around, wasn’t it?
Spending money on something that does not benefit anyone else makes me feel guilty. The simple desire to spend this money makes me feel guilty. Thus, even though getting a hair cut is a positive experience that improves my self-esteem, it makes me feel bad about myself at the same time. Which is why before yesterday, I hadn’t had a trim since April of last year.
There was a whole lot of not cute going on.
The above picture is from September and the split ends are mortifying. The mind boggles at how long my hair had grown in the five months since this was taken. I will spare you the horror.
Self-care involves taking the time for actions that have that have positive impacts on our minds and bodies. Self-care makes me feel guilty. Well, nuts to that. It is a little thing, perhaps a selfish thing, but it makes me feel so much more like myself. It should not be a source of judgement and shame. If self-care is a feminist act then maybe getting a hair cut can be too.
Taken yesterday afternoon. So. Much. Better.
Or maybe I am just enabling an obsession I need to conquer. It is just head-covering, right? It might be time for an intervention.
Do you have any vanities you can’t abolish?
*Seriously, Progresso. I expect this kind of crap from yogurt, but soup? You have ruined what used to be a faultless comfort food.
Finally! Dog blogs are legitimized! They aren’t just for odd women who get up far too early every morning and need someone to whom they can vent all of life’s frustrations.* Pet bloggers are cool people too!
At least, that’s what I thought after my first, second, and even third viewing of the below commercial. Now that I have come down from the high of temporary credibility, I am realizing this adorable television ad is not what I’d hoped. It turns out, the lyrics aren’t what I thought they were. I hate when that happens. Sometimes actually paying attention to the real words being said is such a bummer.
Before I say any more, I’ll give you a chance to understand what I am talking about.
Cute, right? I mean, she has a dog blog and everything! This is my life! I can relate!
Except for the fact that I can’t. Not really. Those bothersome things called “sexism” and “diet industrial complex” and “grammar” make it very hard to enjoy what could have been an endearing little commercial. If this is the world’s idea of a “morning win” I am worried for the future of the world. Frankly, a morning where all I eat for breakfast is a thin cookie is not one for the record books.
To ease some of my pain, I thought it would be fun to come up with my own sunrise song. I haven’t filmed a video – I am too much of a perfectionist for that – but maybe a company will hear my cry and give me the cash to do it right.
It’s worth a shot.
Here is my idea of a morning win:
I had a shower, ran the dog, took some photos for my blog, didn’t get hit on during my commute.
Bought a muffin, scored free coffee, pet a kitten, lamented hockey, impressed the boss with an argument she could not refute.
Deadlines chased, projects aced, dressed with taste, mistakes erased, and I even wrote this song!
What do you think? Sure, my version doesn’t have a fluffy poodle but it is a morning that would make me proud.
I know, I think far too much about commercials. These things are not meant to be analyzed with half as much effort as I put in. But humour me, will you? What is your idea of a morning win?
*Please note, I describe only myself with this sentence. Most dog bloggers I know have active social lives and are not even slightly strange. In fact, they are so normal, it’s creepy.
Shiva the dog is a dog. She makes a lot of mistakes. I am a human. I make a lot of mistakes when I am handling her. I am happy to own up to these gaffes. In fact, I have been happy to take the blame for every misstep ever made by a human since the beginning of time. Ones that included dogs and ones that did not.
For thirty-two years I have retracted, I have repented, and I have redressed things that happened under my supervision and things that happened when I wasn’t in the area code. It is always my fault.
But there are straws and there are camels and there are backs.* After all of this time I am drawing a line. There are now certain things, dog-related things, for which I will no longer apologize. I vow:
1. I will not apologize when my dog reacts to another dog who invades her space when the other dog’s owner is disobeying city bylaws. These bylaws include not being off-leash outside of designated areas and not being on a leash that exceeds two metres in length. So to the man walking the dog on the extendable leash in Old Strathcona tonight? I am not sorry Shiva snapped and otherwise flipped out at your dog. Your dog, while perfectly lovely I am sure, should not have been able to cross the road to get in her face. This was your fault, kind sir, not mine. You should apologize to me.
2. I will not apologize when I break the bylaws and annoy someone else who is also breaking the bylaws, especially when my flouting of the rules does less harm. So to the man walking the dog on the extendable leash – this seems to be a common law-breaking habit – in the ravine Wednesday morning? I am not sorry I failed to re-leash my dog in an on-leash area. It was dark and your dog was trotting so far away from you I assumed her or she was off-leash as well. My dog obviously did too which is why she was clotheslined on your illegal leash’s cord. I am not sorry we irritated you. I am sorry your leash almost hurt my dog.
3. I will not apologize when my dog slips her collar and gets an illegally off-leash dog riled up to the extent he or she cannot be recalled. This is not my fault. If your dog does not have a solid recall with all distractions, including nutty on-leash dogs, he or she should not be off-leash in an on-leash area. So to everyone who walks their dogs off-leash in the clearing of the ravine every weekend morning? You have been warned. The next time, I might just let her go on purpose.
4. I will not apologize when my dog lunges at people who stand behind trees and then leap out in front of me. Especially when it is dark. You are lucky all she does is bark.
I’m just a dog in the world. That’s all that I wanna beeeee.
5. I will not apologize when my dog sets off dogs whose handlers are walking them in groups of five down the middle of the road on extendable leashes. The size of the dogs is irrelevant. My dog deserves to walk in peace as much as those belonging to other people. If I can walk on the sidewalk and keep my dog in her own space, other people can too. If my dog’s presence is so arousing that your dogs just can’t take it? You need to do some training. I recommend starting by walking one at a time on a shorter leash.
Am I being unfair? Is there anything for which you refuse to apologize?
*Line shamelessly stolen from one of my favourite Canadian films. Betcha can’t guess which one.
Have you ever become so personally involved with a book, so emotionally connected, that when you overhear other people - strangers who are not part of this private world – mention a character in passing, as if they have the right to casually say his name, you are shocked and appalled?
I have. It’s happened only a handful of times, but when it did, shocked and appalled didn’t cover it.
At first, I was confused. How does this unknown person even know who that is? They weren’t there. They didn’t see this amazing thing occur. Then, when sensibility kicked in, I was hurt, almost betrayed, as if the character had cheated on me with someone else. It took a few more moments for rationality to take over. Because I do have a handle on reality, I did eventually grasp the notion that the fictional people in the story don’t live in my own secret realm. I was forced to recognize they were created by an author and everyone knows them because Hollywood produced a blockbuster based on the novel. They don’t belong to me.
Luckily for my sanity points, this doesn’t happen often. It is rare when I can immerse myself altogether. Given the large amount of my spare time I spend absorbed in one book after another, it is something special that causes this intense of a reaction. As it happened recently with a popular young adult series, this feeling has been on my mind. I don’t know if it is the writing itself that does it, or my frame of mind when I am reading. Now that I am attempting to take my own writing more seriously, I am curious about the particular set of circumstances that enable me to forget myself in such a way. What makes a story so good, and the characters so relatable, that it is possible for a reader to immerse herself so entirely?
I can’t take timing out of the equation, of course. No doubt my mental head space contributes. Nevertheless, when I recall the books with which I have been the most enamoured, they were usually novels written for younger generations: Anne of Green Gables, Tuck Everlasting, Hunger Games… Is it because the writing itself is simpler? Or perhaps because the characters are younger? Youth and all of its fumbling generally makes for a compelling story. For myself anyway, It is often much easier to understand the motivations of a teenager than those of a middle-aged male. There is less artifice, more instinct. Their flaws are raw and their mistakes forgivable. However, just because I find myself obsessed with young adult dystopia as of late doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a little Wally Lamb. Or even, on especially unique occasions, Steinbeck.
That’s what I love the most about books, fiction and non, and why I panic about not reading enough. Every single one is an opportunity to discover a new perspective. Some more than others, for inexplicable reasons, just entice me down the rabbit hole.
What do you think? Have you ever gotten this caught up by a book? Am I just plan nuts?
I know this person. Let’s call her… Morgan. Yes, Morgan. Because it is not remotely similar to her real name. Morgan is older than I am and have never owned a pet in her whole life. It is something I have found tragic during the short period in which we have been acquaintances. Now that Morgan’s children are adults and fending for themselves, she finds herself a bit lost for company. Her husband has passed and she has never made time for hobbies. Morgan is a neat and organized sort of person who has her routines. While she spends the majority of her time at home, on rare occasions she does like to travel. She doesn’t like mess or nonsense but she does need a few more reasons to smile.
Since I do not know Morgan all that well, I have been cautious in my interactions. Being a huge pet lover, it hasn’t been easy to hold back. From the instant I heard her story I wanted to jump up and down, telling her all about the awesomeness of cats and how a feline is the answer to her loneliness. Based on my experience, I knew this wasn’t the right approach. If I rammed cat ownership down her throat she was more likely to continue her lifelong pet celibacy than give in. No, I had to warm her up to the idea. I waited and hoped for the right moment, the perfect segue, the ideal lull where I could hint about how much I love my cat and how much he has brought to my life.
I have never been a genius at social cues and I guess I waited a bit too long. Morgan has definitely warmed up to the idea of bring home a furry companion. It just isn’t the one I would have recommended. Rather than a self-sufficient adult cat who loves to cuddle, she is now considering a puppy.
TC is confused. Why would anyone pass up a kitty for a drooly dog?*
I don’t think I need to outline why I think this is a bad idea for Morgan. The last thing I want to look like is a puppy-hater but there are some people who would be much happier if they remain dog-free. You know? Though I have had limited interactions with Morgan, I do believe she is one of these people. Dogs are dirty. They are needy. They require extra grooming, extra time, extra training, and nigh-constant maintenance. Even breeds I think are easier for first-time owners, require a large commitment. A commitment for which I don’t think Morgan – as lovely a woman as she is – is prepared. Dogs can be dangerous and destructive in the wrong hands. Not that I believe Morgan’s dog would be unruly or troublesome but it is something every dog owner needs to consider.
But how do I tell her, this strong woman whom I greatly, without causing injury? How does one nudge someone in a direction in which one thinks would be better for all parties? How do I, a dog lover to the max, turn someone away from adopting a dog?
Perhaps I am thinking of this the wrong way. Yes, I am firm in my beliefs that Morgan should adopt an older cat as her first pet. On the other hand, it isn’t my decision to make. Even if I envision disaster for Morgan and her new puppy, that doesn’t mean this is what will occur. She has raised children, after all. It is possible that I am wrong and she will thrive with a canine friend. I certainly did. Maybe instead of discouraging her thoughts, I should offer encouragement in the form of resources.
Ultimately, I am just afraid she will get a dog, the dog will do something wrong, she will return the dog, and then never consider pet ownership ever again. A situation that occurs every day. I want better for Morgan. I want her to get a cat she will love and who won’t demand nearly so much energy. Of course, it isn’t about me, is it? And that’s the trouble with it all.
How does one know when to step in and when to keep one’s mouth shut?
There has been a bit of a dispute at Shiva’s House of Deluded Dreamers and I am recruiting your aid in solving it. You see, the whole t-shirt thing just isn’t working. My shirts, as wicked and fashionable as they are, don’t quite fit. The rockin’ side knot is not as secure as I’d like it to be and on more than one occasion Shiva has been able to find her way out in the middle of the night. Don’t ask me how. I think it has something to do with her ability to stretch the neck below her shoulders. All I know is, when I call her to head downstairs for our morning walk, she falls on her face tripping over the too-long hem. As amusing as this is – and watching Shiva flop around is kind of funny* – it isn’t helping her scar heal over.
In my opinion, the only logical solution to Shiva’s bleeding chest is pyjamas. It is obvious, right? A onesie is the only way to prevent Shiva from scratching too much. The only way. That is fact. No room for argument. Plain as the derision on TC’s face.
And before you say anything, my desire for Shiva to wear jammies has nothing to do with the adorable pictures I would take. I am offended you would even think such a thing.
My PH, on the other hand, thinks the glaringly straightforward and indisputable solution is ridiculous. He thinks Shiva is doing just fine in my t-shirts, floor flopping and all. He thinks my idea of jammies is extreme and maybe a wee bit insane. I ask you, does this look like a happy Shiva to you?
Of course not. It is a picture of misery and discomfort. Poor little muffin. My PH is so cold.
This is why I am turning to you, my dog-loving friends. You see that Shiva needs a set of pyjamas, right? Right? You don’t think I am nuts! It is for her own well-being and safety! Her scar will never heal unless we take action now. It really is something that needs to happen, thinking otherwise is relegating Shiva to a life of enslavement to old U2 and Our Lady Peace advertisements. Death by Phantom of the Opera entanglement is no way to go.
Or, perhaps my PH is right? Maybe I have crossed the line into dog crazydom? If so, I may need you to pull me back from the brink. Help!
*I know, I know, worst dog owner ever. You have no idea. Maybe I should make this a regular feature of the blog and just ‘fess all once a week so you all can feel so much better about your own caregiving abilities.
I was going to quantify the title of this post by putting the word “sometimes” in parenthesis but less than ten seconds ago said trouble-making dog so perfectly illustrated the source of today’s rant that I have decided to leave out said quantifier. Shiva is a bratface. Full stop.
Me? But look how well I pose for holiday photos!
We have a problem here at Shiva’s House of Deluded Dreamers and it’s not going away. In truth, this problem has existed since the day we brought her home. However, previous domiciles enabled us to manage said problem without difficulty, thus preventing me from actually working on it. Now that we live in a new house that lends Shiva much more freedom, the problem has turned into a giant rhinoceros stampeding through the kitchen that we are incapable of stopping.
Let me backtrack.
Shiva will always eat the poison. Always. It is part of her DNA. If there is food available she will do all she can to scarf it as fast as possible. Whether it is waiting for me to look away, waiting for actual permission, or sneaking around in the middle of the night and risking death by falling off the top of the refrigerator. If there are edibles around, she will get to them. It is a law we live by.
One of her favourite edibles in the whole wide world of stomach-filling goodness is cat food.
We have a cat. You may have seen him around these parts before. In case you don’t recall, this is what he looks like:
Not as innocent as he would have you believe
Shiva will do anything to get at his full food dish. While we feed him good quality food, just as good as hers, and I am not concerned it will make her ill, we are not exactly pleased by this. For one thing, the cat deserves to eat in peace and he gets cranky if his dish is not full at all times. And I mean all times. He has always self-regulated his intake and so he is free fed. Even if he isn’t particularly hungry at the time he demands the food be there in case he wants to nibble half a crunchy.
For another, we are not billionaires. Good quality cat food is expensive and is not meant to be gobbled up by obsessed dogs bowlfuls at a time.
But how to get Shiva to leave it alone?
In previous houses there was always an easy management system built-in. The furnace room two houses ago featured a nifty door with a pre-cut cat-sized whole. It was magic. As long as we kept the food just out of reach of Shiva’s ridiculously long neck, the food was safe. In the last house, the puppy gate kept Shiva out of the basement when we weren’t around to watch her. There was this convenient little counter down there that was just high enough to give us time to prevent her from jumping up, but not too high to annoy the cat.
In our current house, there is no such pre-made solution. Which means in less than five months Shiva has devoured the cat’s food approximately 45,689 times. Currently, this is where we are precariously balancing his dish to keep it away from her greedy maw:
Yes, that is indeed a very narrow windowsill in the laundry room. Yes, that is a really awkward place for the cat to balance while he eats his breakfast. Yes, Shiva can still get to it if we give her enough time.
But what to do? We have tried rigging cat-sized wholes in other areas of the house (see below) but somehow the dang bratfaced dog always finds a way in.
We can’t keep this up. It’s annoying and it’s pricey and it’s not healthy for either animal. But I am out of ideas. No matter where we put the dish, the dog finds a way.
And so I entreat you multiple animal owners of the Petosphere. Have you ever had to out-smart your dog in such a way? How do you keep your dogs from enjoying a midnight snack of cat crunchies? The more creative your ideas, the better. I am at my wit’s end.
We are all bloggers for a reason. In one way or another most of us have difficulty expressing ourselves in real life. Some of us struggle with health issues, both mental and physical. Some of us lack confidence, some of us are socially awkward, and some of us just feel an inability to connect with people we interact with every day. One of the best parts of writing online is knowing there is a community of people out there who get how it feels to be alone and who might also feel different than everybody else.
As pet bloggers, it’s easy, too easy, to hide behind our words and our animals. Many writers even share their stories in the voices of their furry ones, putting that little bit of distance between themselves and their readers. I understand the drive behind that. It enables connection without giving away too much. We tell ourselves it is all about our pets, that people only comment and care because they like looking at photos of our more adorable counterparts.
I am here to tell you right now that this is simply not true. Even if you are writing in the voice of Patches or Callie or Thor, we all know it is you underneath. We all care what you have to say. Sure, we love your animals, but we come back to your blog because we want to learn more about you, the writer behind the fuzzball. You are the one with whom I cry when you have to visit the emergency vet; you are the one with whom I laugh when your dog scales the kitchen cupboards. Pet blogging may be about the animals on the surface, but scratch it a little and you’ll find it’s all about the human connection.
And we have one righteous community full of worthy humans, don’t you think?
Since the majority of us are women, I know how hard it can be to put yourself out there for judgment by the great unknown. Society doesn’t make it easy on us. No matter what we look like, we know it’s not good enough. I have yet to meet a single woman who is okay with how she appears in photographs. A woman will see a photo of herself and automatically wrinkle her nose before making a disparaging comment about her skin, weight, hair, eyes, pick-your-body-part-of-choice. Every. Single. Time.
I’m completely guilty of this. Just take a look up at that photo on the right there, the one of me holding Shiva. I think it is a terrible picture. My hair looks flat, I am leaning at a weird angle, the sun is unflattering, I look like I have a double-chin, and don’t even get me started on my eyebrows. But the thing is? I remember when that picture was taken. It was last summer. We had just moved in to our house in Bedford, Nova Scotia and we were hanging out on a rare sunny day in our private backyard. I remember feeling happy that day, relaxed. There was nothing else for me to do but enjoy the moment. As much as I despise the way I look in the picture, I am also glad the day was captured.
This is why I leave it up there. Sure, I could swap it for a picture in which I feel I look more presentable, but that photo is of an authentic moment between me and Shiva. It is what this website is all about. And so it remains.
Besides, this picture on my “about” page is much worse. And yet, doesn’t it personify my relationship with Shiva perfectly?
I encourage you to be as free as possible with your photo-taking. If having your picture taken makes you uncomfortable try to relax, play with your pet, go to a location you love. Try not to think so much about the camera and think more about having a good time. If make-up makes you feel better, that’s fine. If you have a favourite outfit or a favourite hairstyle, go for it. Take a selfie (and I recommend this link for some wicked tips) or have a friend or loved one capture a candid moment. I assure you, no matter what you think, you are going to look gorgeous.
But we also want to know the details. The juicy bits. To get you started, here are some questions we’d love for you to answer. On the big day of the blog hop, feel free to tackle as many as you’d like, and definitely don’t hesitate to throw in a few questions of your own. The more you are willing to divulge, the better!
What’s your favorite non-animal related book? What’s your favorite non-animal related movie? What’s your favorite non-animal related food? Who’s your favorite actor? What’s one thing you have to do every day? What makes you feel fabulous? What do you wish you were more skilled at? What’s your favorite holiday? Favorite meal? What do you like to do in your free time? What one word would people who know you use to describe you? If your pets could talk, what one word would THEY use to describe you? What is one thing you’ve done that you’re most proud of? How is your pet most like you? What can your body do for you that makes you most proud? If you could change one thing about your life what would it be? Other than blogging, what are three things you do that bring you joy? What’s one thing you could do to be more kind to yourself? What drives you nuts about your pets? What melts your heart? If you didn’t have your current pets, what pets would you choose to have?
Once you have your photo and put together your answers, make sure to link up on the linky tool! I certainly don’t want to miss out on anything you have to stay. And I can’t wait to be able to put a beautiful face to a familiar name.
Grab the badge and join in! I will warn you, participation may end in gaining many new friends who share the same fears. It’s a risk you’ll have to be willing to take. Don’t forget, if you give yourself permission to be unapologetically you, it encourages others to do the same and who knows what the fall out might be…
I don’t want to keep being such a whingey baby about this. Winter hasn’t even begun and I know the moratorium on complaining about the weather must have been up weeks ago but it is so freaking cold! Like stupid cold. Eyelashes frozen together boots sticking to the pavement cold. Not that there is any pavement. It’s all covered in ice and snow. Just look at the forecast!
That’s Celsius, yo
It doesn’t help that my best friend, whom has been living in Edmonton so long she has lost all semblance of perspective, tells me this is nothing. That it’s going to get colder. This barely registers on the coldness scale of Edmontonian deep freeze.
There is no question. I am going to be lucky if I make it till spring. Which, by the way? Doesn’t usually arrive till June.
Not even the sight of Shiva in a reindeer sweater can warm me up
At least, this is what I thought until after I walked the dog tonight. Pretty sure the end was nigh, I figured I may as well suck it up and toss away all attempts to look cool. After tugging on my itchy purple hat that makes my hair stand on end and donning my overly-large winter coat, I reasoned I may as well dig out the ol’ fleece-lined pants too. Why not? It’s not like I was going to live much longer. May as well go out looking like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story.
Well. About ten minutes into the walk I realized something strange. I wasn’t frozen. Sure, I couldn’t feel my face but the rest of my body was downright toasty. It made no sense. The temperatures were lower than they were this morning. I shouldn’t feel warmer. The only thing that had changed was the addition of the bulky, tattered fleece-lined pants. Could they really be a game-changer?
I decided to conduct an utterly un-scientific experiment. Fifteen minutes after Shiva and I returned home, just enough time to get cozy, I decided to test my theory by going back outside for another walk.* This time, I didn’t wear my hat or my gigantic coat. That way I would be able to discern whether or not the pants really did have supernatural powers.**
As I trudged to the store two blocks away I noticed several things. 1. Hats really do have a purpose. 2. It’s impossible to look cool with a runny nose. 3. My body, and therefore by extension my limbs, remained reasonably warm. It was a Canadian Winter miracle! My life is saved! I might make it to the thaw after all!
So my Christmas wish list this year is simple. All I want is ten more pairs of fleece-lined pants. in multiple colours. If they come in work-appropriate styles, even better. Size eight, please. You know, just in case you had any extra on hand…
For those who are also dreading the deep freeze, are there any items you swear by to make it through?
*Okay, that’s a lie. I actually went back out because we were out of cat food*** and apparently letting TC starve is worse than facing the frigid wind-chill.
**This is another lie. The real reason is because I didn’t want the people in the store to judge me for my fly-away hair or ill-fitting parka. I’d rather be cold and “stylish” because evidently I am thirty-one going on twelve.
***Of course, I didn’t just get cat food. I didn’t want to look like some sort of crazy cat lady who risks hypothermia to make sure Mr. Whiskers has an emergency supply of crunchies. So I also bought jalapeno cheddar bread and a box of frozen egg rolls. I would have bought candy canes as well (because that would have looked less weird??) but they only had french vanilla flavoured ones and I find that appalling. Why is it so hard to find candy cane flavoured candy canes these days? No wonder the world is falling apart. But I digress.
It has come to my attention that I have not expressed in full the amount of anguish we experienced during the night of Shiva’s injury. It is true, I definitely held back. Many things occurred that Sunday evening which I could never divulge. It was just too personal and writing about the pain at this point would provide no benefit to myself or anyone else. However, there is an aspect to the horrific series of events that I do feel is worth imparting. Not in relation to the wound itself, in retrospect it wasn’t as serious as it could have been, more in relation to the treatment.Or the potential lack thereof.
Part of this withholding is no doubt due to shame. In order to be worthy of value in 2013 we are told three things: we must be forever 21, we must be thin, and we must be wealthy. To be anything else puts one in a place of derision. Well, it’s obvious I am not 21 and I wouldn’t be that age again even if it were possible. I am also not particularly thin. But I gave up caring about stupid things like the number on the scale a long time ago. Thinness rates as high on my radar as fashionable. Or being good at tennis. It just doesn’t matter. It’s the third requirement that pokes me in the side and reminds me I am not good enough.
I have made mistakes, there is no question. I own them. It is entirely my fault I am in the financial situation I am in. There were decisions that were made and they probably weren’t the right ones. Kicking myself in the head about them does not solve my current problems. Ducking my head and getting to work does. This is what I think we are doing but it’s going to take some time. Do I wish I could go back and change things so life would be easier now? Sure. I can’t. Does this make me a horrible, worthless human being?
According to some, yes. According to some, maybe I shouldn’t even own a dog at all.
This brings me to that terrifying evening three weeks ago when all of my greatest fears came to a head. Standing in the small examination room, looking down at the quote from the emergency vet, knowing we simply did not have the money to pay. There was no way around it. Could we get the money in the future? Of course. We both have solid jobs, we can sacrifice. But before the vet lifted a hand to stitch Shiva back up, they needed the cash in hand. That second. The clock was ticking.
It was one of the most excruciating moments of my life, knowing that I may not be able to help my poor puppy simply because I didn’t have the money.
Embarrassing? Hell, yes. Mortifying. My tears only made me feel worse but I couldn’t stop them. I had always feared the moment would come and when it did, I was unable to control myself. It felt so hopeless. I mean, what were our options? We either magically came up with $1,300 or… Or, what? There was no second option.
Luckily, we are connected with some pretty amazing people. It took but a few text messages for family and friends to offer their help. I will be grateful for the rest of my life to my practically mother-in-law and my two close friends for being there in a time of desperation. If not for them, I don’t know what we would have done. My mind draws a blank. Now that Shiva’s ordeal is over, this aspect of that night still plagues me. What if we hadn’t had friends or family to whom we could turn? What if we had been alone? What would we have done?
I don’t know. All sudden I felt no different to those who surrender their pets to shelters simply because they can’t afford veterinary care. If we hadn’t been able to pay for Shiva’s surgery that night, that may have been an option. We would have had to bring her home, maybe try to stitch her up ourselves without pain medication and then hope for the best. Euthanasia as a concept was unthinkable. I’d like to think the vet would have forbid it.
But perhaps we wouldn’t have had the wherewithal for even that. Perhaps the only option would have been to bandage Shiva up and drive her to the nearest shelter, pretending we had found her running at large. Perhaps we would have had to lie and pray that someone else could help her. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. But it’s a possibility that breaks my heart.
I don’t blame the vet clinic. I want to be clear on that. They do what they have to do and I completely understand why they need the money right away. Even in the depths of despair I did not question this. As the kind assistant explained why they would need financial approval ahead of time, I told her over and over again that I understood, I just didn’t have the money. No amount of pet insurance would have helped, either. Please correct me if I am wrong, but per insurance companies act much like dental insurance. One needs to pay upfront and than receives reimbursement later. It isn’t much help when you don’t have the payment ability in the first place.
Who is to blame? No one.Ourselves, I guess, for being in this situation in the first place. But I know we are not alone.
After going through this nigh traumatizing experience I have to wonder how many other loving pet owners have gone through the same thing. How many others were either forced to euthanize because it was the cheaper option or who felt compelled to abandon their pets outside of a shelter in the hope they would find help in the morning. I can only imagine the fear, and the shame.
For the first time in my entire life, I think I might have a goal. If I ever have money or if I am ever in a place where I can start something, I finally know what I would do. It is now my dream, fantasy, lala land imagining, to start an organization to help people pay for emergency veterinary expenses. I won’t ask questions, I won’t require proof of income or ask to see credit card statements. If someone calls in the middle of the night, saying their dog or cat or bird or guinea pig needs veterinary help and they can’t afford to pay right away, I want to be there to say it will be okay, your pet will be okay.
How many pets would have been kept out of the shelters if such an organization existed? I can’t help but wonder. It’s a huge gap that needs to be filled. One day, I hope I can do my part to lay some concrete.