Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to bathe a cat.

How to bathe a Cat
Author unknown

Some people say cats never have to be bathed. They say cats lick themselves clean. They say cats have a special enzyme of some sort in their saliva that works like new, improved Wisk - dislodging the dirt where it hides and whisking it away.

I've spent most of my life believing this folklore. Like most blind believers, I've been able to discount all the facts to the contrary, the kitty odors that lurk in the corners of the garage and dirt smudges that cling to the throw rug by the fireplace.

The time comes, however, when a man must face reality: when he must look squarely in the face of massive public sentiment to the contrary and announce: "This cat smells like a port-a-potty on a hot day in Juarez."

When that day arrives at your house, as it has in mine, I have some advice you might consider as you place your feline friend under your arm and head for the bathtub:

•Know that although the cat has the advantage of quickness and lack of concern for human life, you have the advantage of strength. Capitalize on that advantage by selecting the battlefield. Don't try to bathe him in an open area where he can force you to chase him.

Pick a very small bathroom. If your bathroom is more than four feet square, I recommend that you get in the tub with the cat and close the sliding-glass doors as if you were about to take a shower. (A simple shower curtain will not do. A berserk cat can shred a three-ply rubber shower curtain quicker than a politician can shift positions.)

•Know that a cat has claws and will not hesitate to remove all the skin from your body. Your advantage here is that you are smart and know how to dress to protect yourself. I recommend canvas overalls tucked into high-top construction boots, a pair of steel-mesh gloves, an army helmet, a hockey face mask, and a long-sleeved flak jacket.

•Prepare everything in advance. There is no time to go out for a towel when you have a cat digging a hole in your flak jacket. Draw the water. Make sure the bottle of kitty shampoo is inside the glass enclosure. Make sure the towel can be reached, even if you are lying on your back in the water.

•Use the element of surprise. Pick up your cat nonchalantly, as if to simply carry him to his supper dish. (Cats will not usually notice your strange attire. They have little or no interest in fashion as a rule. If he does notice your garb, calmly explain that you are taking part in a product testing experiment for J.C. Penney.)

•Once you are inside the bathroom, speed is essential to survival. In a single liquid motion, shut the bathroom door, step into the tub enclosure, slide the glass door shut, dip the cat in the water and squirt him with shampoo. You have begun one of the wildest 45 seconds of your life.

Cats have no handles. Add the fact that he now has soapy fur, and the problem is radically compounded. Do not expect to hold on to him for more than two or three seconds at a time. When you have him, however, you must remember to give him another squirt of shampoo and rub like crazy. He'll then spring free and fall back into the water, thereby rinsing himself off. (The national record for cats is three latherings, so don't expect too much.)

•Next, the cat must be dried. Novice cat bathers always assume this part will be the most difficult, for humans generally are worn out at this point and the cat is just getting really determined. In fact, the drying is simple compared to what you have just been through. That's because by now the cat is semipermanently affixed to your right leg. You simply pop the drain plug with you foot, reach for your towel and wait. (Occasionally, however, the cat will end up clinging to the top of your army helmet. If this happens, the best thing you can do is to shake him loose and to encourage him toward your leg.) After all the water is drained from the tub, it is a simple matter to just reach down and dry the cat.

In a few days the cat will relax enough to be removed from your leg. He will usually have nothing to say for about three weeks and will spend a lot of time sitting with his back to you. He might even become psychoceramic and develop the fixed stare of a plaster figurine.

You will be tempted to assume he is angry. This isn't usually the case. As a rule he is simply plotting ways to get through your defenses and injure you for life the next time you decide to give him a bath.

But at least now he smells a lot better.

I must try to remember this for future reference. Since our recent outbreak of pesky fleas....I shuddered at the thought of dipping the kitties. I forsaw all the wounds in vivid color. Felt the pain the little claws produced. And the blood.

Thankfully, I have the problem under control. ...without the dipping I might add.

Never say never....well I hope to never see another flea. Each time a cat or dog reaches into some kind of pretzel position to scratch an itch I will tell myself....its just an itch. Stay well. RD

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembering Our Veterans

Veterans Day History & Remembering our Veterans
Posted by Carisa Gaul on November 8th, 2010

When is Veterans Day? Veterans Day is observed on November 11 regardless what day of the week it falls on. It’s a day to celebrate and honor America’s military veterans for their patriotism, love of our country, and willingness to serve / sacrifice for the common good. Not to be confused with Memorial Day which is celebrated the fourth Monday every May and honors American servicemembers who died or suffer from injuries from being in service.

November 11 is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world. It’s the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I or the Great War. World War I cessation of hostilities formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month 1918 with Allied nations and Germany signing the Armistice.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Veteran’s Day a holiday on November 11, 1919.

Woodrow Wilson said: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

In 1926 the United States Congress requested President Calvin Coolidge to issue another proclamation to observe each year on November 11th a legal federal holiday. The proclamation for Veterans Day was approved May 1938 to honor all those who participated in the War: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

In June 1954 congress amended the proclamation to replace “Armistice” with “Veterans” and since it’s been known as Veterans Day.

Red poppies are given out by uniformed war veterans on Veterans day. There are veterans day parades all over the country with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

Applebee’s will be celebrating Veterans Day by serving more than 1 million free meals to active-duty personnel from 11 a.m. until midnight on Veterans’ Day.
The menu will include:
7-ounce House Sirloin, Bacon Cheeseburger, Three Cheese Chicken Penne, Chicken Tenders Platter, Oriental Chicken Salad, Fiesta Lime Chicken and Double Crunch Shrimp.

To be eligible for your free meal you must be in uniform or provide proof of military service such as:

- An active-duty or retiree ID card.

- A current leave and earnings statement.

- A DD214 discharge certificate.

- A photo in uniform.

- A veterans organization card, such as an American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars card.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Animal Cruelty Syndrom

The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome
On a late May afternoon last year in southwest Baltimore, a 2-year-old female pit bull terrier was doused in gasoline and set alight. A young city policewoman on her regular patrol of the neighborhood of boarded-up row houses and redbrick housing developments turned her squad car onto the 1600 block of Presbury Street and saw a cloud of black smoke rising from the burning dog. She hopped out, ran past idle onlookers and managed to put out the flames with her sweater. The dog, subsequently named Phoenix, survived for four days with burns over 95 percent of her body, but soon began to succumb to kidney failure and had to be euthanized.

It was only a matter of hours before the story, made vivid by harrowing video footage of the wounded dog, was disseminated nationwide in newspapers, TV and radio newscasts and countless Web sites. An initial $1,000 reward for the capture of the culprits would soon climb to $26,000 as people around the country followed Phoenix’s struggle for life. A gathering of people in Venice Beach, Calif., held a candlelight vigil for her. A month later, the mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon, announced the creation of the Anti-Animal-Abuse Task Force to work in concert with city officials, local law enforcement and animal rights and animal-control groups to find ways to better prevent, investigate and prosecute such crimes.

The scale, speed and intensity of the response were striking. The subject of animal abuse, especially the abuse of pit bulls in dog-fighting activities, has achieved a higher profile after the 2007 arrest of the N.F.L. star Michael Vick for operating an illegal interstate dog-fighting operation in Surry County, Va. But the beleaguered pit bull is merely the most publicized victim of a phenomenon that a growing number of professionals — including police officers, prosecutors, psychologists, social workers, animal-control officers, veterinarians and dogcatchers — are now addressing with a newfound vigor: wanton cruelty toward animals. Before 1990, only six states had felony provisions in their animal-­cruelty laws; now 46 do. Two years ago, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals formed the nation’s first Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation Unit, a rolling veterinary hospital and forensic lab that travels around the country helping traditional law-enforcement agencies follow the evidentiary trails of wounded or dead animals back to their abusers.

In addition to a growing sensitivity to the rights of animals, another significant reason for the increased attention to animal cruelty is a mounting body of evidence about the link between such acts and serious crimes of more narrowly human concern, including illegal firearms possession, drug trafficking, gambling, spousal and child abuse, rape and homicide. In the world of law enforcement — and in the larger world that our laws were designed to shape — animal-cruelty issues were long considered a peripheral concern and the province of local A.S.P.C.A. and Humane Society organizations; offenses as removed and distinct from the work of enforcing the human penal code as we humans have deemed ourselves to be from animals. But that illusory distinction is rapidly fading.

“With traditional law enforcement,” Sgt. David Hunt, a dog-fighting expert with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Columbus, Ohio, told me, “the attitude has been that we have enough stuff on our plate, let the others worry about Fluffy and Muffy. But I’m starting to see a shift in that mentality now.” Hunt has traveled to 24 states around the country in order to teach law-enforcement personnel about the dog-fighting underworld, often stressing the link between activities like dog fighting and domestic violence. “You have to sell it to them in such a way that it’s not a Fluffy-Muffy issue,” he said of teaching police officers about animal-abuse issues. “It’s part of a larger nexus of crimes and the psyche behind them.”

The connection between animal abuse and other criminal behaviors was recognized, of course, long before the evolution of the social sciences and institutions with which we now address such behaviors. In his famous series of 1751 engravings, “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” William Hogarth traced the life path of the fictional Tom Nero: Stage 1 depicts Tom as a boy, torturing a dog; Stage 4 shows Tom’s body, fresh from the gallows where he was hanged for murder, being dissected in an anatomical theater. And animal cruelty has long been recognized as a signature pathology of the most serious violent offenders. As a boy, Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks; Theodore Bundy, implicated in the murders of some three dozen people, told of watching his grandfather torture animals; David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” poisoned his mother’s parakeet.

But the intuitions that informed the narrative arc of Tom Nero are now being borne out by empirical research. A paper published in a psychiatry journal in 2004, “A Study of Firesetting and Animal Cruelty in Children: Family Influences and Adolescent Outcomes,” found that over a 10-year period, 6-to-12-year-old children who were described as being cruel to animals were more than twice as likely as other children in the study to be reported to juvenile authorities for a violent offense. In an October 2005 paper published in Journal of Community Health, a team of researchers conducting a study over seven years in 11 metropolitan areas determined that pet abuse was one of five factors that predicted who would begin other abusive behaviors. In a 1995 study, nearly a third of pet-owning victims of domestic abuse, meanwhile, reported that one or more of their children had killed or harmed a pet.

The link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is becoming so well established that many U.S. communities now cross-train social-service and animal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors. In Illinois and several other states, new laws mandate that veterinarians notify the police if their suspicions are aroused by the condition of the animals they treat. The state of California recently added Humane Society and animal-control officers to the list of professionals bound by law to report suspected child abuse and is now considering a bill in the State Legislature that would list animal abusers on the same type of online registry as sex offenders and arsonists.

When I spoke recently with Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief legal counsel of the A.S.P.C.A.’s Humane Law Enforcement department, which focuses on the criminal investigation of animal-cruelty cases in New York City, she drew a comparison between the emerging mindfulness about animal cruelty and the changing attitudes toward domestic abuse in the 1980s. “It really has only been in recent years that there’s been more free and accurate reporting with respect to animal cruelty, just like 30 years ago domestic violence was not something that was commonly reported,” she said. “Clearly every act of violence committed against an animal is not a sign that somebody is going to hurt a person. But when there’s a pattern of abusive behavior in a family scenario, then everyone from animal-control to family advocates to the court system needs to consider all vulnerable victims, including animals, and understand that violence is violence.”

It isn’t clear whether Phoenix was used for dog fighting. Subsequent examinations of her body did find — along with evidence that gasoline had been poured down her throat — a number of bite wounds. Veterinarians, however, said that those could have been self-inflicted in the course of Phoenix’s frenzied attempts to fight off the flames. But prosecutors also later claimed that Phoenix’s accused assailants, 17-year-old twin brothers named Tremayne and Travers Johnson, of a nearby block of Pulaski Street, were using a vacant neighborhood home for the keeping of pit bulls and other ganglike activities.

The Johnson twins have pleaded not guilty. According to court documents, both suspects, said to be members of the 1600 Boys gang, were identified by a witness as running out of the alley where the dog was set alight. “There was some gang-style graffiti found in that abandoned building,” Randall Lockwood, the A.S.P.C.A.’s senior vice president for forensic sciences and anticruelty projects, and a member of the new Anti-Animal-Abuse Task Force in Baltimore, told me at the A.S.P.C.A.’s Midtown Manhattan offices in December. “There was also dog feces on the premises. Unfortunately, nobody bothered collecting the feces to see if it was from Phoenix.”

Along with the need to track the physical evidence of animal cruelty there is the deeper and more complex challenge of trying to parse its underlying causes and ultimate ramifications. As a graduate student in psychology, Lockwood had an interest in human-animal interactions and the role of animals and education in the development of empathy in children. This inevitably led him to consider the flip side of the equation: the origins of cruelty to animals and what such behavior might indicate about an individual’s capacity for empathy and his or her possible future behavior.

Back in the early 1980s, Lockwood was asked to work on behalf of New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services with a team of investigators looking into the treatment of animals in middle-class American households that had been identified as having issues of child abuse. They interviewed all the members of each family as well as the social workers who were assigned to them. The researchers’ expectation going in was that such families would have relatively few pets given their unstable and volatile environments. They found, however, not only that these families owned far more pets than other households in the same community but also that few of the animals were older than 2.

“There was a very high turnover of pets in these families,” Lockwood told me. “Pets dying or being discarded or running away. We discovered that in homes where there was domestic violence or physical abuse of children, the incidence of animal cruelty was close to 90 percent. The most common pattern was that the abusive parent had used animal cruelty as a way of controlling the behaviors of others in the home. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at what links things like animal cruelty and child abuse and domestic violence. And one of the things is the need for power and control. Animal abuse is basically a power-and-control crime.”

The dynamic of animal abuse in the context of domestic violence is a particularly insidious one. As a pet becomes an increasingly vital member of the family, the threat of violence to that pet becomes a strikingly powerful intimidating force for the abuser: an effective way for a petty potentate to keep the subjects of his perceived realm in his thrall. In 2005, Lockwood wrote a paper, “Cruelty Toward Cats: Changing Perspectives,” which underscores this dynamic of animal cruelty as a means to overcome powerlessness and gain control over others. Cats, Lockwood found, are more commonly victims of abuse than dogs because dogs are, by their very nature, more obedient and eager to please, whereas cats are nearly impossible to control. “You can get a dog to obey you even if you’re not particularly nice to it,” Lockwood told me. “With a cat you can be very nice, and it’s probably going to ignore you, and if you’re mean to it, it may retaliate.”

Whatever the particular intimidation tactics used, their effectiveness is indisputable. In an often-cited 1997 survey of 48 of the largest shelters in the United States for victims of domestic violence and child abuse, more than 85 percent of the shelters said that women who came in reported incidents of animal abuse; 63 percent of the shelters said that children who came in reported the same. In a separate study, a quarter of battered women reported that they had delayed leaving abusive relationships for the shelter out of fear for the well-being of the family pet. In response, a number of shelters across the country have developed “safe haven” programs that offer refuges for abused pets as well as people, in order that both can be freed from the cycle of intimidation and violence.

What cannot be so easily monitored or ameliorated, however, is the corrosive effect that witnessing such acts has on children and their development. More than 70 percent of U.S. households with young children have pets. In a study from the 1980s, 7-to-10-year-old children named on average two pets when listing the 10 most important individuals in their lives. When asked to “whom do you turn to when you are feeling sad, angry, happy or wanting to share a secret,” nearly half of 5-year-old children in another study mentioned their pets. One way to think of what animal abuse does to a child might simply be to consider all the positive associations and life lessons that come from a child’s closeness to a pet — right down to eventually receiving their first and perhaps most gentle experiences of death as a natural part of life — and then flipping them so that all those lessons and associations turn negative.

In a 2000 article for AV Magazine, a publication of the American Anti-Vivisection Society, titled, “Wounded Hearts: Animal Abuse and Child Abuse,” Lockwood recounts an interview he conducted for the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services in the early 1980s. He describes showing to “a perky 7-year-old boy” a simple drawing of a boy and a dog, playing ball inside a house and a broken lamp on the floor beside them. Lockwood asked the 7-year-old — a child who had witnessed his brother being beaten by their father, who was “reportedly responsible for the ‘disappearance’ of several family pets” — to describe what would happen next in the story of the boy in the picture. “He grew still and sullen,” Lockwood writes, “and shook his head slowly. ‘That’s it,’ he said in a matter-of-fact tone, ‘They’re all going to die.’ ”

Children who have witnessed such abuse or been victimized themselves frequently engage in what are known as “abuse reactive” behaviors, Lockwood said, re-enacting what has been done to them either with younger siblings or with pets. Such children are also often driven to suppress their own feelings of kindness and tenderness toward a pet because they can’t bear the pain caused by their own empathy for the abused animal. In an even further perversion of an individual’s healthy empathic development, children who witness the family pet being abused have been known to kill the pet themselves in order to at least have some control over what they see as the animal’s inevitable fate. Those caught in such a vicious abuse-reactive cycle will not only continue to expose the animals they love to suffering merely to prove that they themselves can no longer be hurt, but they are also given to testing the boundaries of their own desensitization through various acts of self-mutilation. In short, such children can only achieve a sense of safety and empowerment by inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others.

In March I paid a visit to the newly established Veterinary Forensics Medicine Sciences program at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Directed by Melinda Merck, a veterinarian who serves as the A.S.P.C.A.’s senior director of veterinary forensics and as the “captain” of its new mobile C.S.I. unit, the program is the first of its kind at a major U.S. university. As animal abuse has become an increasingly recognized fixture in the context of other crimes and their prosecution, it is also starting to require the same kinds of sophisticated investigative techniques brought to bear on those other crimes.

Veterinary forensic students at the University of Florida are being trained in the same way that traditional crime-scene investigators are, taking courses in a wide range of topics: crime-scene processing; forensic entomology (determining the time of an animal’s injury or death by the types of insects around them); bloodstain-pattern and bite-mark analysis; buried-remains excavation; and forensic osteology (the study of bones and bone fragments).

“I love being around bones,” Merck proclaimed as she led me into the university’s C. A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory, a sprawling, brashly lighted array of human skeletal remains arranged in meticulous piecemeal patterns on rows of shiny metal tables. “I find bones fascinating. There is a lot of information in them.” Merck, who testifies at animal-cruelty trials across the country, conducted the forensic osteology on the dog remains recovered from the mass graves on Michael Vick’s Virginia property in 2007.

The lab is one of the busiest of its kind in the world, enlisted for countless crime-scene investigations and archaeological digs and to help identify the victims of disasters, including those of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina. The fact that one of the examining tables and adjacent bone-boiling and cleansing units have now been assigned to Merck for her own animal-forensic work and course instruction speaks volumes about the shifting perspective toward animal-cruelty crimes. “We have a really cool thing going on here,” Merck told me. “We have the collaborative effort of a lot of big-wig forensic specialists down here with years of experience.”

She led me over to her examining table. Set at one end was what she called “my box of evidence,” a picnic-cooler-size plastic container that held the excavated remains from a mass grave, part of an investigation she is conducting into a suspected dog-fighting operation in Georgia. “In most of our cases of animal cruelty, the bodies are not fresh,” she said. “They’re decomposed. They’re discarded. They’re hidden. And so the advanced post-mortem stage is where we really need to be experts.”

Merck’s 2006 book, “Forensic Investigation of Animal Cruelty: A Guide for Veterinary and Law Enforcement Professionals,” which she wrote with Randall Lockwood and Leslie Sinclair of Shelter Veterinary Services in Columbia, Md., contains a daunting list of the grisly things human beings do to animals: thermal injuries (immolation, baking, microwaving); blunt-force trauma; sharp-force and projectile injuries; asphyxiation; drowning; poisoning; ritual murders; and sexual assault. Merck spared no details in discussing such horrors over the course of a veterinary-forensics lecture I attended earlier that day, held in a conference room at a hotel near the university as part of a four-day seminar. Even Merck’s seasoned audience of out-of-town vets, A.S.P.C.A. disaster-response and investigative-team workers, community-outreach personnel and the chief legal counsel for New York City’s Humane Law Enforcement department could be heard gasping into their coffee mugs as Merck annotated, one after the next, screen-projected slides of stark brutality: blood-drenched dog-fighting pits; bludgeoned, internally hemorrhaging pets; bruised and mutilated canine sexual organs; a heavily duct-taped, paint-coated puppy and the fur-lined, nail-scraped oven walls from which the puppy struggled vainly to escape.

Those whose compassion compels them to confront and combat daily its utter absence are, of necessity, often forced to affect a passionless pose. Merck proceeded through her seminar with clinical speed and precision through a series of signature forensic cases. One of the first pivoted around the mystery of a missing Pomeranian whose owners were convinced had been stolen from their backyard. Merck called up the slide of a tiny skeleton she had rendered in her corner of the lab from remains found in a vacant lot not far from the Pomeranian owners’ home. It looked like a wingless bat, the delicate brace of ribs bearing tiny symmetrical snaps on each side.

“What could have caused these,” Merck asked, pointing her red laser at the breaks. “What could make a dog disappear so fast?”

“Man!” someone called out to bursts of laughter.

“What else,” Merck said, smiling.

“A bird of prey!”

“Yep,” Merck nodded. “Most likely a hawk. These two breaks are where the bird’s talons grabbed hold of the dog. This is why forensic osteology is so important, and yet there’s nothing in our standard veterinary training that teaches us how to look at bones properly.”

Merck soon proceeded to the case of the puppy found four years ago in the oven of a ransacked community center in Atlanta. An outraged local prosecutor called Merck about the case and then showed up at her vet clinic one day with the dog’s remains. “She brings me the puppy, and this . . . ,” Merck said, the slide behind her now sapping the room’s air, “is what she brings me.”

Step by step, from the outer paint to the unraveled layers of duct tape to the dog’s abraded nails and paws to the hem of an old T-shirt that was used as a leash, Merck’s detailed forensic analysis of the victim and of the crime scene would be used to assemble a timeline of events. Ultimately, her analysis would help seal the conviction of two teenage brothers on multiple charges, including burglary, animal cruelty and — because the brothers had shown a number of children at the community center what they had done and then threatened them with their lives if they told anyone — additional charges of child abuse and terroristic threats.

The most common dynamic behind the cases cited that morning was that of a man abusing a family pet to gain control over, or exact revenge against, other family members. Merck told of one puppy found buried in the backyard of a house. As Merck tells it, the dog belonged to the female friend of a woman who had recently left the man with whom she and her two children from a previous marriage were living. She and her children had moved in with the friend, someone who the man decided was keeping him and his estranged partner from reuniting. The girlfriend’s pet, therefore, became for him the optimum vehicle for expressing his rage against both women.

“He tortured the puppy when the two women weren’t home,” Merck told me after her lecture that day. “He also tried to make two of the kids participate just to make it more heinous. So along with the animal cruelty, of course, we had child abuse.”

Merck has made it her mission to urge other vets to report and investigate suspected cases of animal abuse, incorporating a few cautionary tales of her own into her lectures to point up the often dire consequences of failing to do so. One involved a man from Hillsborough County in Florida who was arrested for murdering his girlfriend, her daughter and son and their German shepherd. He had previously been arrested (but not convicted) for killing cats. In another story Merck tells, one related to her by a New York City prosecutor, a woman reported coming home to find her boyfriend sexually molesting her Labrador retriever, but the case never went to trial.

“My point on that one,” Merck told me, “is that no one took precautions to preserve the evidence on the dog. And once it comes down to a he-said-she-said type of situation, you’re lost. These types of cases are difficult enough even when we have all the evidence, in part because it’s very hard for investigators and prosecutors to even consider that someone would do things like this. It’s so disturbing and offensive, they don’t know what to do about it. A lot of the work I do involves not just talking to vets but reaching out to law enforcement to make them more knowledgeable on these matters, to make them understand, for example, that things like sexual assault of children and animals are linked. They are similar victims.”

On our way back to the hotel for an afternoon lecture on forensic entomology, Merck made a little detour to show me the A.S.P.C.A.’s new mobile C.S.I. unit, parked in a side lot of the vet school’s farm-animal compound. Twenty-six-feet long, with its own climate-control, generator, examination room and surgical suite, digital microscope, X-ray machine, sexual-assault kit and anesthesia-oxygen machine, it is essentially a giant emergency room on wheels, allowing Merck and her crew to examine and care for animals at suspected crime scenes and to efficiently analyze and process evidence to ensure its integrity.

The van was an important part of the largest dog-fighting raid in American history last year, in which more than 400 dogs were rescued and 26 people from six states arrested. “We had two forensic teams on board for that,” Merck said. “We had to hit 25 different crime scenes in one day. We hit the first one at 7 a.m., and we finished up at around 6 a.m. the following morning.”

When I asked Merck if she thought incidents of animal cruelty were on the rise or if it was that we are now being more vigilant about them, she said that it is probably more the latter. “We’re more aware now,” she said, “but there is also more of a support system for responding to these incidents. When I started out as a vet 20 years ago, I was one of the few who would call if I got a suspicious case, and that was when such things were still a misdemeanor and it wasn’t law enforcement involved. It was animal control taking care of nuisance animals. Now with veterinarians I tell them you cannot not report, because you don’t know if what you’re seeing on the animal isn’t the proverbial tip of the iceberg.”

Merck then recalled for me a personal experience she most likes to relate in classes and seminars, what she’s dubbed “the tale of the good Samaritan and the savvy vet.” An Atlanta contractor pulled up to a house one morning where he was to perform some work. As he got out of his truck, he heard a dog screaming from the house next door, went over to investigate and saw through an open garage door a dog dragging its back legs and a woman standing beside it. The woman instantly began pleading to the contractor that the dog needed to be euthanized, but she said she couldn’t afford the vet bills. The contractor offered to take the dog to his vet, who, upon examining the dog, agreed that it was too debilitated to be saved. He then told the contractor that there was something suspicious about the case and that he was going to report it to animal services for whom Merck worked at the time as a consultant outside of her daily vet practice.

“They asked me to perform a necropsy,” Merck told me. “It turns out the dog was paralyzed from having been beaten so often. I reported what I found. Police went to the woman’s house to make an arrest. They found a badly bruised boy. And just like that both parents are being hauled off for child abuse. So there was a classic case of the system working like it should.”

Last November, Lockwoodwas asked to testify at the pretrial hearing in which a judge ruled that Tremayne and Travers Johnson would be tried as adults for the burning of Phoenix in Baltimore last year. Lockwood looked at dozens of pictures of Phoenix in order to select which images to present to A.S.P.C.A. staff members. “I could only find one that wasn’t overwhelmingly disturbing,” he told me. “It’s where she’s so bundled up in gauze and bandages you can’t really see anything. It’s easy to empathize with burns because we’ve all been burned, and even if it’s only minor, you realize how painful that is.”

The matter of empathy, of course, goes to the heart of most of our inquiries into the nature of cruel acts and their possible causes. There seems to be little doubt anymore about the notion that a person’s capacity for empathy can be eroded; that someone can have, as Lockwood put it to me, “their empathy beaten or starved out of them.” To date, little is known about the Johnson twins’ background beyond the fact that they both reportedly have chronic truancy issues and previous probation violations and were recently involved with a gang. Along with possible early abuse or genetic and biological components, Lockwood also spoke of the frequent association between environment and acts of violence, how poverty often creates the sense of persecution and injustice that makes some people feel justified in striking back in order to gain the sense of power and control they otherwise lack.

“What I have the most trouble relating to,” Lockwood told me, “and the Phoenix kids might be indicative of this sort of thing, is the kind of cruelty that happens just out of boredom. I’ve had quite a few cases where I ask a kid, Why did you blow up that frog or set fire to that cat? and they don’t respond with answers like ‘I hate cats’ or ‘I didn’t see that as a living thing.’ Their answer is ‘We were bored.’ And then you have to ask yourself, Well, what about alternative pathways to alleviating this boredom? I have difficulty grasping what would be the payoff for setting fire to a dog.”

Neuroscientists are now beginning to get a fix on the physical underpinnings of empathy. A research team at the University of Chicago headed by Jean Decety, a neuroscientist who specializes in the mechanisms behind empathy and emotional self-regulation, has performed fMRI scans on 16-to-18-year-old boys with aggressive-conduct disorder and on another group of similarly aged boys who exhibited no unusual signs of aggression.

Each group was shown videos of people enduring both accidental pain, like stubbing a toe, and intentionally inflicted pain, like being punched in the arm. In the scans, both groups displayed a similar activation of their empathic neural circuitry, and in some cases, the boys with conduct disorder exhibited considerably more activity than those in the control group. But what really caught the attention of the researchers was the fact that when viewing the videos of intentionally inflicted pain, the aggressive-disorder teenagers displayed extremely heightened activity in the part of our brain known as the reward center, which is activated when we feel sensations of pleasure. They also displayed, unlike the control group, no activity at all in those neuronal regions involved in moral reasoning and self-regulation.

“We’re really just beginning to have an inkling of the neurophysiology of empathy,” Lockwood told me. “I think empathy is essentially innate, but I also think empathy can be learned, and I know it can be destroyed. That’s why having a better understanding of the neurophysiology will really help us. Just doing a social intervention on a person doesn’t do any good if you’re not aware of certain physiological deficits. As I heard someone put it at a recent lecture I attended, that would be like an orthopedist telling someone with a broken arm to lift weights. It won’t do anything until the arm is set, and it actually might make things worse. I try to understand who the kids are who seem beyond reach, who seem to have truly impaired systems of empathy. And then I ask, Can that be restored?”

It turns out that just as recent brain-imaging studies have begun to reveal the physical evidence of empathy’s erosion, they are now also beginning to show definitive signs of its cultivation as well. A group of researchers led by Richard Davidson, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, published a study in a March 2008 edition of the Public Library of Science One, showing that the mere act of thinking compassionate thoughts caused significant activity and physical changes in the brain’s empathic pathways. “People are not just stuck at their respective set points,” Davidson has said of the study’s results. “We can take advantage of our brain’s plasticity and train it to enhance these qualities. . . . I think this can be one of the tools we use to teach emotional regulation to kids who are at an age where they’re vulnerable to going seriously off track.”

To date, one of the most promising methods for healing those whose empathic pathways have been stunted by things like repeated exposure to animal cruelty is, poetically enough, having such victims work with animals. Kids who tend to be completely unresponsive to human counselors and who generally shun physical and emotional closeness with people often find themselves talking openly to, often crying in front of, a horse — a creature that can often be just as strong-willed and unpredictable as they are and yet in no way judgmental, except, of course, for a natural aversion to loud, aggressive human behaviors.

Equine-therapy programs, for example, are now helping an increasing number of teenagers who have severe emotional and behavioral issues, as well as children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. At Aspen Ranch in Loa, Utah, troubled teenagers are being paired off with wild mustangs that have been adopted from the Bureau of Land Management, each species ultimately managing to temper the other, a dynamic that has also proved very effective in teaching patience and empathy to prisoners in correctional facilities. In the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, there is a youth equestrian program called the Compton Junior Posse. Teenagers clean stables, groom horses and then ride them in amateur equestrian events across Southern California. There are now bovine- and elephant-assisted therapy programs as well.

For Lockwood, animal-therapy programs draw on the same issues of power and control that can give rise to animal cruelty, but elegantly reverse them to more enlightened ends. “When you get an 80-pound kid controlling a 1,000-pound horse,” he said, “or a kid teaching a dog to obey you and to do tricks, that’s getting a sense of power and control in a positive way. We all have within us the agents of entropy, especially as kids. It’s easier to delight in knocking things down and blowing stuff up. Watch kids in a park and you see them throw rocks at birds to get a whole cloud of them to scatter. But to lure animals in and teach them to take food from your hand or to obey commands, that’s a slower process. Part of the whole enculturation and socialization process is learning that it’s also cool and empowering to build something. To do something constructive.”

Charles Siebert, a contributing writer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Where are you going to put that?"

I just finished watching a marathon run of "Buried Alive". To refresh your memory or give you some insight it is a program on A & E discussing and witnessing hoarders. I've seen this program on occasion for the past year or so...always being critical of the people that live the life of a hoarder.

It is easy to be critical but in my case it was more a case of 'for the grace of God, there go I". I think I know exactly when it started. I became the sole heir of my aunt's, mother's and father's 'stuff'. It was in very rapid sucession, I didn't have time to grieve, so I hung on to everything in hopes of a later garage sale.

The garage sale never materialized. In fact I moved across the country at a huge expense to keep all of the 'stuff'. A huge barn was built....just to shelter that 'stuff'. The storage units here were prohibitive since I needed several.

The initial moving in of the 'stuff' was exhilerating. I loved it, it reminded me of Christmas. "OH look, remember this?" And on and on. The barn is packed to the gills. I thought I would test the waters of the Eastern Shore and see how things progressed here.

I thought of a shop....consignment and used items. Most of our little downtown is vacant with more than enough space for this venture. But I was told early not attempt to operate a business here....they won't come.

More than a few such attempts were made these past ten years but that advice still holds true....all failed for one reason or another...most important ....they did not come.

I also found out that Memorial Day and Labor Day are big garage sale days here. In some instances a whole village gets together and they run a sale block after block. Not my town.

The second year I tried to sort things out in the barn, I was making headway and ran across a snake. That was it for me. My fear is unreasonable but debilitating. We do have copperheads and I was not about to reach into a box with a nest of coppers nope not me.

While I still lived in Arizona I bought the put into a shop in my new hometown. That only added to the mountain of junk. If my life depended upon it I couldn't tell you ten years later what is all in that barn.

My health deteriorated as well over the years. I traded my arthritic hip for fibromyalgia....what a bargain. This is tricky at best....when you feel grand what to do first. If the weather isn't co-operating your choice is made for you.

Now to get back to the hoarders....I sometimes feel their pain in letting go. What an awful feeling, after all it is just "stuff". I am the woman who on more than one occasion said the next time I will be one suitcase and me walking down the driveway. Ha.

It is day is approaching faster and faster. I really want to get a set of dishes out of the barn to use in my house. I know this is ridiculous but I just can't make myself go into that place. Why oh why didn't I use these past ten years to overcome my fear of snakes, probably there is no such person here to help in that area.

Seriously....I think it has been too cold up until now for snake activity....maybe I'll chance it......or maybe I won't. Be careful out there....lots of stuff..RD

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Population Explosion that Requires Immediate Attention.

I really do not remember when I began to use Facebook, at any rate it must be some time ago. I went there for the games and just to veg out. It has indeed served that purpose and more. Many of my friends were there and it was much like not missing a step from old '360'.

But there is so much more on Facebook. Do you have an interest? It can and will fill that void in a most enjoyable way. You don't have to commit, or pay an entrance fee. I am interested in multitudes of things, including gardening, cooking,keeping perverts off of this site and animals.

Here is where I began to get caught up in a whirlpool of sorts. One thing leading to another. No one was pulling at me to join every other rescue agency known on this continent or any other. I did so out of curiosity, and a willingness to help if needed.

No sooner had I signed on to one then another and another group wanted me to take a look-see. I did so because I am polite and do know the pitfalls of the rescuing business. I gave that up some ten years ago, nope, I wasn't going to fall into that 24/7 trap again. It is endless, and keeps escalating into more bizarre needs than the human mind can comprehend. At least I can't.

To give you an example of the hideousness of the problem I get no less than 100 groups parading one sad faced dog or cat on the internet day after day. No, they are not always sad faced....some of them show a spunk for life and have no idea that theirs is about to be cut short.

Mine was not a unique dilemma....I never wanted to become hardened to the fact that this is happening right under our patrician noses day in and day out. So unless I want to return to my former life of a rescuer and sit in remote places under the cover of darkness listening for the click of the trap door closing I saw no way to be of help.

Let me revisit that time.....we had a plethora of help. Vets, volunteers, foster homes and lots of donations. We did this all before the internet and managed just fine in most instances.

My main concern is the over-abundance of one particular breed of dog that is either running loose or is relinquished by their owner ..... the pit bull. Oh, what a maligned breed this is. It is a relatively new breed to the United States but the population explosion is drowning us all.

The photos that I mentioned are largly pics of pitties. Yes up to 60% are pitties. Now I am aware that Riverside County in Calif has a day set aside for free pit spay/neuter. Isn't that grand? That is just one example. Other cities like Denver have banned pit bulls, which unfortunately does very little for the pit bull.

I want to do something. I want to have a fresh start with this Disney doing a film about pits that show their inherant loyalty, intellegence, strength. But thinking ahead....what if Disney were to take this on and the pitti looked so good to children that they would just run up to them and try to hug them and in the process get mauled?

Here is the rub, my friends, its all about the owners. How do we know how this pup grew up? We don't. He more than likely was purchased out of a department store push cart at a flea market or out of a trunk of a car. Is there money in this? I kind of doubt it. Do the purchasers have any idea what they are commiting to? I kinda doubt that as well. Do they know this breed is extremely active? Do they have any idea how much money a pet costs? Forget about getting spayed or neutered. Nope, I think not....but they sure do look bad and mean on the end of a chain that is designed for pulling big rigs out of ditches.

Many people have tried unsuccessfully to remedy this situation. How many of the people that partake in the free spay/neuter services of Riverside County do you think are of the macho kind just having a pit for an ornament?

I know I haven't even touched the problelm....yet day in and day out pitties are losing the battle. They have become a large part of our disposable society. How can we help this breed? How can we prevent flea market sales? How can we prevent the utter abuse? I'm at a loss. RD

Friday, March 12, 2010

Women's History Month...A woman's Shortcomings EB Browning

A Woman’s Shortcomings

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1846)

She has laughed as softly as if she sighed,
She has counted six, and over,
Of a purse well filled, and a heart well tried —
Oh, each a worthy lover!
They “give her time”; for her soul must slip
Where the world has set the grooving;
She will lie to none with her fair red lip:
But love seeks truer loving.

She trembles her fan in a sweetness dumb,
As her thoughts were beyond recalling;
With a glance for one, and a glance for some,
From her eyelids rising and falling;
Speaks common words with a blushful air,
Hears bold words, unreproving;
But her silence says — what she never will swear —
And love seeks better loving.

Go, lady! lean to the night-guitar,
And drop a smile to the bringer;
Then smile as sweetly, when he is far,
At the voice of an in-door singer.
Bask tenderly beneath tender eyes;
Glance lightly, on their removing;
And join new vows to old perjuries —
But dare not call it loving!

Unless you can think, when the song is done,
No other is soft in the rhythm;
Unless you can feel, when left by One,
That all men else go with him;
Unless you can know, when unpraised by his breath,
That your beauty itself wants proving;
Unless you can swear “For life, for death!” —
Oh, fear to call it loving!

Unless you can muse in a crowd all day
On the absent face that fixed you;
Unless you can love, as the angels may,
With the breadth of heaven betwixt you;
Unless you can dream that his faith is fast,
Through behoving and unbehoving;
Unless you can die when the dream is past —
Oh, never call it loving

Friday, March 5, 2010

When do Yu Talk to God?

I usually have conversations with God or whoever is that greater power on a daily basis. I also talk to my deceased parents as well. It isn't about asking to have the mortgage miraculously paid or for health issues to be shown their walking papers.I can honestly say that when a situation arises and I know my resources are limited in this area I ask for guidance. "Show me a way".

I don't want to let anyone down, especially myself and play the fool. I do as much as I can on my end to meet my expectations and then I chat with that higher power to guide me in the appropriate direction. Why am I telling you about this....because it isn't working this time. I usually have been shown a path to follow, not always to my liking or expedient as I might like but this time I cannot find a way to accept that I must let go of a friend.

He has been a light in my life for many years. He has made me laugh and cry at his story telling. He always had the right thing to say. Now I cannot reciprocate. Least of all I do not want to make this more difficult on him, he seems to care more about my feelings and thoughts than the torment he is experiencing.

Talk about stiff upper lip....this guy has it in spades. He is indeed teaching me something as his time draws shorter. This is what I should take away from this friendship. But I want to give something back. I don't want to appear weak, yet I know I do.

An online friend just happenchance mentioned Kubler Ross today. Oh, yes, I need to revisit that. I read it when it first was published and found it to be remarkably informative.

It is just ridiculous to try to intellectualize these life changes. We have feelings and they must be released. I am not questioning the why as some do....just the ability to put my sadness aside and be strong for my friend. Take care my friends... Life is short. RD

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ash Wednesday......T.S. Eliot

Page Back
Poetry Index
Ash Wednesday - a poem by T S Eliot

Ash Wednesday
T.S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is
nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jaggèd, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond
Or the toothed gullet of an agèd shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind
over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy

but speak the word only.

Who walked between the violet and the violet
Whe walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking,

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but
spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny
the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,
time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Ash Wednesday
T.S. Eliot

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Passing of an Old Goat

I recently read a story about remembering an old goat. Never the flashiest, or fastest nor the one to beg for food from humans but his presence was always felt more than seen. He was one of a clan who were rescued about 15 years ago...plenty of time to make an impression. And he his dignity, and quiet manner.

Now why did this story affect me so? Why is it still fresh in my memory days after reading about him? Because I could relate.

Not that I'm ready to pack it in but he and I suffer from the same disease...arthritis. Our lives seem to run parallel in ways that only a fellow traveller could empathize with. Our days of roaming large parcels of land or for me working are essentially over.

I cannot help but think that our new environments are restrictive in many ways,not only square footage. It is a curtain that you are essentially in control of ... will it fall down today or will there be a better tomorrow? Arthritis is funny that way, you never can plan ahead. There are better days and simply awful ones. You cope.

Things you want to accomplish get cast aside for the moment, well, tomorrow will be better. Yes indeed, that is often times the case and you push on. Getting this or that done in the nick of time before things seem to freeze up again. It is not a matter of will it is a matter of 'can'.

This is frustratingly new to me. And I often think I should be finding a way to overcome without getting angry. I need to focus on today no matter how limited my efforts. But unlike the dignified goat I rant and rave and yes there are days I give up.

I have finally found a rheumatologist in these parts. Yes, only by happenchance listening to a conversation in a waiting room did I learn of one. I asked for a referral and got it and am waiting my three months to be seen. See, there is hope.

I learned later that this physician changed his speciality only three years ago seeing the ultimate need in this community for his services. And believe me there is a need and thus the three month wait to be seen.

Since there is the glimmer of hope and perhaps some relief ahead I think I can manage what the goat did.....have a little dignity.

Take care on these icy roads. See you very soon.RD

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter Nights Enlarge

Now Winter Nights Enlarge
by Thomas Campion

Now winter nights enlarge
This number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o'erflow with wine,
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep's leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers' long discourse;
Much speech hath some defense,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well:
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys
They shorten tedious nights.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Danger Of Writing Defiant Verse..Dorothy Parker

The Danger Of Writing Defiant Verse
Dorothy Parker

Buy Parker's Poetic Works

And now I have another lad!
No longer need you tell
How all my nights are slow and sad
For loving you too well.

His ways are not your wicked ways,
He's not the like of you.
He treads his path of reckoned days,
A sober man, and true.

They'll never see him in the town,
Another on his knee.
He'd cut his laden orchards down,
If that would pleasure me.

He'd give his blood to paint my lips
If I should wish them red.
He prays to touch my finger-tips
Or stroke my prideful head.

He never weaves a glinting lie,
Or brags the hearts he'll keep.
I have forgotten how to sigh-
Remembered how to sleep.

He's none to kiss away my mind-
A slower way is his.
Oh, Lord! On reading this, I find
A silly lot he is.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bloggers Block

Incase you hadn't noticed....I've got a real case of blogger's block. I did what I usually do and roam around the internet reading other blogs to get inspired. That usually works. One little sentence or even a cooking recipe can jog my memory into something that happened to me.

Usually a good tool but not lately. Making sure I am politically correct leaves very little room for imagination. I don't feel that I go out of my way to offend, but I do. Someone will find something offensive about anything. They usually tell me in my comments section which is what I encourage.

I've been called on the carpet recently on something I didn't write, and made the appropriate acknowledgements to the Los Angeles Times. But that wasn't good enough. Apparently I must do a maya culpa and fall on my sword simply because I found this particular article interesting.

The week before that I posted the "Get Over Yourself" article and that was written by me and found more folks agreeing than disagreeing. But there is always the exception....for that benign article as well.

You can't please everyone all of the time...that is a given. You can't control what your readers will say in response to one thing or another. Yet blogging has become more and more restrictive. You now must police your readership and call them on something utterly childish or insensitive in their beliefs.

I wholeheartedly agree that if something gets out of hand and personalities are trod upon "call the offender on it". I did do that, but feel too much like a school marm disciplining rather than teaching. What a bloody waste of time. "IF you can't behave you can't come to my sight anymore". huh...we are all adults, why not act like one.

Misunderstandings are at the crux of these petty outbursts. Either make yourself perfectly clear in your article or you invite this type of squabbling, and time consuming making nice. I don't make nice too often, I rather use the 'delete' button and get on with it.

Think about are talking to perfect strangers, so why wouldn't objections be raised? Take care of it, clarify yourself and if that does not satisfy click, click and they are gone.

Don't get me wrong...there is always room for improvement. There are acceptable ways of voicing your opposition without becoming a shrew spewing personal attacks. Let's grow up! Writer and reader alike.

Although I began by stating my blogger block I will close with the idea that this has become more of a burdon than a relaxation excercise. Careful, careful careful you just may have stepped on someone's toes.

Drive carefully, dress warm, and don't forget your umbrella.RD

Friday, January 15, 2010

Biscuits for Shelter Dogs

Biscuits for Shelter Dogs
Posted by Janine Allen at Wednesday, January 13th, 2010.

We all have had to make budget cuts in recent times. Here’s a way for dog owners to help shelter dogs without having to reach further into their pockets.

Barkin Doggie Biscuits will donate an equal amount of dog biscuits to a shelter for every amount of biscuits that you order. Check out their three delicious choices of fresh mint, pumpkin and peanut butter. A nice way to share the wealth with puppies less fortunate than your own.

Rescue Me Dog commends any organization or individual who helps make the lives of shelter dogs a little more comfortable.

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE? You can, as long as you include the following, complete statement and a link back to the original article:

Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog's professional dog trainer. Janine's passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2010 Rescue Me Dog;

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Sleeping Mind


Come wander through my sleeping mind

See what treasures you might find.

Memories of so long ago

A pristine world clad in pure snow.

A voice that rang with lovely song

That spoke of love when I was young.

Bypass the long dark corridor;

Look not beyond the painted door.;

For there waits agony and pain.

These are the demons in my brain.

I cry aloud for God to hear

And ease the torment that I fear.

Why did such evil come to me?

I was blinded and could not see

Satan waiting in dark disguise

Laughing as he bespoke his lies.

The doors of Hell were opened wide;

When God at last came to my side.

With God's help my demons were banished.

Satan and his cohorts all vanished.

I was free to fulfill at last

God's plan for me which was vast.

To write the words that set man free;

To live in peace and harmony.

~Florence Picciotti

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Get Over Yourself.

Here it is....the first day of the brand new year 2010. Isn't it great to type out these numbers? So easy. I respond on some inner level to 'even' numbers. I like them,I always choose them although I've never won the lottery with them they give me comfort. That is how I feel about the upcoming year. Not ridiculously over the top but I do see some light at the end of this tunnel.

Keep this in mind "Fool! The Ideal is in thyself, the impediment too is in thyself: thy Condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out of: what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the Form thou give it be heroic, be poetic? O thou that pinest in the imprisonment of the Actual, and criest bitterly to the gods for a kingdom wherein to rule and create, know this of a truth: the thing thou seekest is already with thee, ‘here or nowhere,’ couldst thou only see!"
— Thomas Carlyle (Sartor Resartus)

Ain't that just the truth. The adult pout is out. Each and every situation I have ever written about and you have experienced mentions at length the negative. And why not .... that is so much more entertaining, amusing or companion to the written word. The lesson learned....not so earth shattering. If nothing else it broadcasts to everyone your narrow mindedness, your shallowness to ignore the obvious.

I speak from years and years of experience. And the statement "it could'a been worse " is just as bad. The telling of the tale should be spontaneous, off the cuff and with appropriate humor as well. The contrived, researched tale told as truth and spontaneous fools no one. It resembles a sophomoric book report that you are passing off as real life.

The pout is out.....means that we must make a 180 degree turn and an earnest search for that crumb of information that may ultimately light up someone Else's light bulb. Perhaps something can be gained when you are told this flight is totally booked and you find out later it crashed in the Rockies.

Doing for others, not always humans, gives us much satisfaction, subject material, and insight into human nature. The enemy in my eyes is the social networking epidemic of the unadulterated me, me generation. Here is the forum where you can talk about yourself til kingdom come.

Initially you pull readers in but slowly but surely they go on to the next messiah, inventor, sage. And why not? You bored them to death.

Come is the fresh start of the new year and its time to get over yourself. RD