Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Footprints on our hearts...

February 24, 2015

Footprints on our hearts…

Earlier this week, a couple that is very near and dear to me, had to lay their sweet Fur Baby to rest. Those of you that know me know that I have an extremely soft spot in my heart for any kind of critter, whether furry, fuzzy, or feathered. Those little varmints have a way of completely worming their way into my heart and there’s no way of getting them out. So the thought for this post is about our extended family members and the impact that they have on our lives.

As I have said before, I didn’t have any pets growing up, unless you count the two goldfish that my brother and I had for a small amount of time. They were affectionately known as General Lee and Dixie. Poor Dixie lept out of the fish bowl into the living room floor one night and General Lee didn’t agree with one of the bowl cleanings. I was very little when we had those fish, so I don’t really remember forming any kind of bond to them, if one can even form a bond to goldfish. But, since I have been living on my own I’ve had critters in my life in one form or fashion. 

The first Fur Buddy I had was a 145# Rottweiler named Hooch. He was a huge, gentle, lap dog, that loved Friday night Pizza and Movie nights, loved my Mom, loved playing with pop bottles, loved kids, and truly saved me from losing my ever-loving mind during a rough period in my life. He was my best friend. He was always happy to see me, listened to me and snuggled with me when I was sad, and the only man that he ever liked (other than the fellow that raised him) was my husband, Wayne. Hooch left me on April 4, 1999 and there’s not hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think of him, or something that I used to share with him. We laid him to rest on the hill behind our house, underneath a little patch of dogwood trees that I always figured he’d have loved to have romped in if he’d been able to. 

The next Fur Buddy that came into my life happened as a result of him, finding my husband at work on the morning of April 1, 2001. I got a phone call telling me that he was bringing something home for me that evening, and that it wasn’t an April fool’s joke. When he got home, this fuzzy, speckled Australian Shepherd dog, hopped out of the back of his truck and into our hearts. That big, rotten, fuzzy (and I do mean terribly fuzzy, that poor guy had a heck of a coat of fur), goofy critter, completely won us over and he moved into his fur-ever home. Thanks to the one big, black spot on his side, he was affectionately named Spek. Spek loved to go for rides, whether in the truck or on the boat, he loved all of the grandkids, and he loved falling over on you to get attention and petting – and trust me; all 70 pounds would literally fall over on you. That sweet soul left us during the morning of June 14, 2013 and is laid to rest beside Hooch under the dogwood trees that he did get to lay and romp under.

There are currently twenty-four furry or feathery little (some not so little) souls that depend on us for their food and well-being. Each one of them has a special place in my heart. Some I have bonded with more than others, but each one of them are uniquely special and are completely a part of my life. All three dogs, the cat that just appeared out of nowhere, seven horses, one donkey, and one mule were basically all rescue animals in one form or fashion. One horse and ten chickens were purchased and brought here. But all of them, each furry and feathery one is special and makes my day better just by being around them. I wouldn’t know what to do in a day without Sonny pinning his ears back when I go to put his food in his bucket. Or without PJoe grunting and nickering for his food or for his evening treats. Or without Jasper’s pacing and funny faces before his food pan is put down. Or without Apple Jack meeting me at the water trough begging for treats by sounding like an old model T car trying to start. I wouldn’t know what to do without Abby bouncing around and stopping right in front of me while carrying food out to the horses or even better, when she decides to bounce off of me when I’m pouring food out for the horses. I wouldn’t know what to do without the chickens singing and squawking when I go to feed them and collect their presents every evening, nor would I know what to do if I didn’t have to catch my little Nell chicken and put her in the house every evening. I wouldn’t know what to do without my Molly hugs that I get when I take treats up there, or my Sassy hand-shakes and tail wags. I also don’t know what I’d do without Hanz running everywhere he goes, Ghost being a grumpy old curmudgeon, Harry being, well, Harry, Spirit being a terribly PMS’y female, Maggie being slow and easy, and Mr. Bentley being the kindest, sweetest horse in that field. There are days when doing everything for this brood can be cumbersome and just plain hard, but there are many more days when this brood can completely wipe away all of the bad stuff from the day and make everything smiling and better. 

In this world of way too much crazy, it is very nice to have these furry and feathery babies to share my day with and them letting me share theirs. My life is better by having had all of them in it. While Hooch and Spek are no longer with me in physical form, their personalities and silliness will always be there and the love that I gave them and they gave me will always be in my heart. That will never change no matter how long they’ve been gone. I know that eventually, all of the ones that are with me now will most likely leave me before I leave them, but still, my life has been changed, much for the better, by having them, loving them, and getting to know them. 

For those of you that love animals as much as I do, you know what I’m talking about. These beasties come into your life and eventually leave foot prints (paw, hoof, or claw) all over your heart, but in the end, I know, that I’m better for having loved them. 

This is dedicated to the memories of Hooch, Spek, and sweet Jodi, may you all be romping and running, playing and bouncing. Thank you for loving us and for letting us love you.

Soon after I shared this post, my brother's Fur Baby, Lilly, passed away. So this is also dedicated to Miss Lilly and all the love she shared.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Failure to Communicate

Feb. 18, 2015

“People fail to get along because they fear each other, they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Last month, we celebrated a day of service in remembrance of Dr. King.  It was on that day that a friend of mine posted the above quote on his Facebook page. It truly resonated with me when I read it and the more that I have pondered it since then, the more I think that it completely and totally applies to the here and now, as much, if not more, than it did to the time when it was originally orated. 

Many things have gone through my mind since reading this quote. Our failure to communicate, as a nation; as a race – the human race that is; as parents; as teachers; as employees; as employers; as leaders; as citizens; as any living, breathing person of any race, creed, religion, nationality, origin, etc.; is, in my opinion, presently beyond failure. 

We’ve got children who have no clue how to verbalize a complete and coherent sentence to someone, because the only forms of communication that they have, are text messaging or snap chats. We have leaders – our elected officials – who constantly refuse to communicate with one another and with their constituents in order to enact laws and policies, that are for the good of the nation and the people with in it, whether it be because of “party lines” or “attention seeking”. We have bosses who no longer have the first clue as to how to lead by example, nor communicate to their employees, because they use yelling and intimidation tactics in order to get the “work” done. We have teachers, that instead of being able to truly know their students and impart wisdom upon them, are forced to spend their days with crowded classrooms so they barely have time to know the child’s name, let alone know anything about them, and they are forced to teach to a standardized testing system that is supposed to measure a child’s “progress” in their classes and to hold them accountable for their work. This communication failure goes even further beyond the borders of our own counties, states, country. It is not just a localized issue. 

See, this is a bigger problem than I’d originally thought of when I read Dr. King’s quote. We don’t communicate to one another. If there is any talking done, it is usually “at” someone instead of “with” someone. There is a big difference between listening and hearing, just like there is a big difference between talking with and talking at. What would happen within a school, a county, a state, a country, a company, a world, where people talked to each other, truly got to know one another, and embraced the things that make us all different and all unique? I honestly don’t know if I could even begin to fathom what that might be like. 

I do know that for communication to work, there has to be complete honesty involved; even if that honesty might not be the thing that we really want to hear at the time – I never said it’d be easy. But what would that be like? To deal open and honest with everyone and for all communications to be wholeheartedly participated in by both parties in the honest giving and receiving of information?

I am guilty of the non-communication thing too. I tend to rely on emails and text messaging to communicate with people. I don’t like talking on the phone, and haven’t since my days in sales, but in all actuality, that is a complete cop-out, isn’t it. I am just as guilty of shutting myself off from the world as everyone else. So trust me when I tell you, this article applies to me as well as to anyone else that finds themselves in the same boat . 

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a way that we can begin to truly communicate to one another? I’m interested in what you all have to say. Let me know!