Thursday, October 31, 2013

Liveblogging Halloween 2013

I'm back, getting ready for the hordes of adorable children. Mina's ready - she's on costume 2 and waiting for kids, because then she gets cookies.

Countdown begins.

6:00 pm: I hear the first trick or treaters coming. Exciting times. First timer using a Safeway plastic bag, way to recycle and reuse, kid. 5 kids in a herd. Power ranger, witch, person with a mask.

6:07: Next group! Four kids. This is a very business like group. No shenanigans from these children. A dead cheerleader, I think, and I have no clue what the others are. Mina ignores them completely in favor of peeing on some dirt.

6:12: Solo 8-yr-old skeleton. 
Skeleton: What are YOU supposed to be? *points to me*
Me: Uh, superhero on casual Friday?
Skeleton: It's not Friday!
Me: Oh.
Skeleton: Okay, I'll take the candy now.
All I've got on is a wonderwoman top and cape and regular jeans. Kids don't appreciate workplace humor. Or probably it wasn't funny, except in my head.

6:14: Cutest 2-yr-old ninja turtle ever. I wish I had got a picture, because Mina stood squarely next to him, surveying the court, tail wagging as he gently stroked her head. Then he invited her to continue trick or treating and she was all, okay sure. But then, the leash. Sadness for all.

6:20 pm: Two kids with glasses and suspenders. What are you? Nerds. What? Nerds are awesome, btw.

6:25: Someone wearing a fake deer head, I didn't even ask. Mad artist girl is my favorite so far. Mina just likes that she gets a cookie for every kid and is encouraging more children. 

6:27: CLOWN! Normally I am a firm believer that clowns are evil, but this was the most polite clown ever, so he's okay.

6:28: First injury of the night, a cowboy trips over Mina and falls on his face. But he's okay because he just missed a house and is extra excited about getting more candy from a house he didn't know existed.

6:30 pm: half-hearted attempt at being a mummy involves wearing black spandex and half a roll of toilet paper. Also, she couldn't stop laughing at Mina in her outfit, which left Mina deeply troubled and offended.

6:32 pm: An infant dressed up as a duck. Oh, parents. If you're kid can't eat solids, don't take them trick or treating. Just kidding, because that duck was cute. I gave him a couple dum dums. Or her. Sorry.

6:45: Another horde, they travel in packs!! A toddler dressed as a dog is Mina's favorite! But the ladybug toddler is cute too. And then there was a miniature Thor, and that's pretty adorable.

None are as adorable as Mina, though.

6:53: A young girl reminds me of the bravery level required to go solo up to a person's front door. I think she's dressed as an elf, shaking like a leaf, and being so so so so brave. I used to send my dad to get my candy when I was scared.

7:09: We have exceeded the 70th kid mark, people! One kid with a spiked helmet totally fell in love with Mina and kissed her on the head and she was like "I get five cookies for that". A little girl dressed up as a princess wearing a pink hoodie proudly proclaimed THANK YOU and then turned to her mom and screamed, 'SEE?!? I SAID THANK YOU" and all was well with the world.

Mina knows where to hang out:

7:17: A witch chirped, "See you next year!!" Oh man, kids on Halloween are great because they are learning about saying thanks and the future and ZOMG CANDY capitalism.

7:21: Kid dressed as "an Amish person" (their words) carrying a maglite, no candy bag. Where do you keep your candy? In my pockets! How's that working out for you? EXCELLENTLY!

7:25 pm: Girl dressed as a witch, "Is that a real dog?" Blank stare from me. "Costume?" she adds quietly. "Oh, yes." I reply.

7:26 pm: Kid dressed as superman with a sucker in his mouth, "Can I psuehhioeah her?" Huh? "Can I psuehgehi her?" Oh, can you pet her? YETH? Yes. K. *pets Mina* Kid then tries to run across lawn and all the parents yell, "NO RUNNING" and this is good because 3-yr-olds with lollipops in their mouth definitely should not be running on my tree-root front yard.

7:37 pm: "Is that all you have?", an affronted child asks. "I can take it back, yes?" "HAHA JUST KIDDING" the kid yells back. Geez.

7:51 pm: Times are a changing for Pit Bulls. A girl asks to pet Mina. After I say yes, she asks what kind of dog Mina is. Her friend pipes up, "She's a Pit Bull" before I can say anything. The other girl gazes up at me, smiles, and says "I LOVE those kinds of dogs". The other girl tells me about her companion Pit Bull and how she looks like Mina but is bigger. Five years ago, I don't think this interaction would have happened. I would probably not allow Mina to come out of the house on leash to interact with the kids. She would have still dressed up, but I would have kept her away from the kids out of fear the parents would get upset. Now, in this neighborhood in Grass Valley, CA, I don't have that fear. Mina goes out and says hi, I pull her back in if the kids don't want to interact, and let her get pet if they do. She thinks it's a win-win - attention from little people (her favorite) and a cookie aftewards. Good times.

8:08 pm: So many children. So many.

8:13 pm: We just hit the 200th kid. Cray.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nicholas is Handsome


I'm not even lying, Nicholas is super handsome.

I met Nicholas when he was less than a week old. He was stolen from his mother. It's normal business on a dairy farm, maternal deprivation. To sell milk to you requires stealing milk from him. Can't have a calf drinking his own mother's milk!

He was bought at auction for $15, tied up outside of an apartment complex in Berkeley, and left with hay.

You do know what a day-old calf needs, right? His mom and her milk! Ruminants, like cattle, cannot consume hay at such a young age - literally, they cannot do it.

Nicholas spent several weeks in my office. It was the middle of winter when he arrived so darkness enveloped the sanctuary each morning when I would arrive for work. I would creep into the office and step carefully, quietly over his snoozing form. I made his bottles and fed him his milk, admired his soft down fur, and wished with all my heart that he could have his own mother. She should be raising him.

For the next four years, Nicholas was a terror. Not in an evil way, just in an I-Am-A-Teenager-Forevah way. He would kick his heels up and race towards any human he saw. Sometimes he would randomly kick out his back leg, and then flee the scene in joy. Humans were more toys than "someones".

It has only been in the past two years that he has come into his own sense of maturity. It takes bovines nearly five years to reach their adult size. They remain "babies" for 1-2 years, enter their teens for the next 3-5, and then calm down.

If he had been raised by his own mother, he would have learned respect a lot sooner. No human can replace a bovine mother and teach what needs to be taught.

When Nicholas and the other cows are in the pasture near the parking lot at the sanctuary where I work, I will slip into the meadow and find Nicholas. He will be eating grass and will pretend he does not notice me. Some mornings he will lift his head and acknowledge me, other mornings he won't. I lean into him and rub his neck, his back, the inside of his fuzzy ears. Some mornings, Nicholas will walk away - food is more interesting. Most mornings, I will know he accepts my presence when he leans, ever so gently, into my body. Peace.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Celeste Show: Catch That Treat

Celeste will catch this cookie

 Celeste loves food like whoa. There is no food she will not try at least once, often twice just to be sure.

This is one of her favorite peanut butter treats. I couldn't catch any action shots of her snapping up the treat, but this photo captures the essence of Celeste - obsessed, focused, weird.

I love her for it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Mina Show: Need and Growing Old


Mina needs me like a fish needs water.

This is not my ego piping up. It is simple fact.

I do not think I was the first person to ever show Mina love and a kind touch. I like to think this, because the alternative is unbearable - three long years as a breeding machine without any human kindness. That is unconscionable. So I believe that someone liked her enough to rub the space between her eyes, to scratch the arch of her neck.

In recent years, Mina's need of me has grown, almost exponentially. Her faculties, on the other hand, have declined. She will sometimes race from room to room, panicked nails clicking on wooden floors. She will investigate every nook and cranny, confused as to my "sudden departure". Finally, she will pop her head into the spare room (the office) and find me typing away. Her body will relax, she will hop up on the sofa, and curl up into a Mina-donut.

There are times when I find this comical. Mostly I am filled with great sadness and a strong, fervent desire to hold Mina close to my heart so that our breaths co-mingle and we are deeply connected. She does not care for this, so I do not do it.

Mina is approaching her 15th birthday, 12 of them spent alongside me and 6 with Celeste.

Because I am human and can ponder the future, I will sometimes find myself imagining life without Mina. The space she occupies in my heart is egregiously large, painfully so. It is a tangible thing that presses against arteries and veins, pinches nerves. The absence of her is virtually unimaginable, but I try to fathom it anyways.

I don't know the why of my relationship with Mina. It is different than my bond with Celeste. It is even different than the friendship I shared with my first dog, Juju (who Mina slept next to for one night). It is different than my relationship with most people, because it is a sure, certain thing. There is no doubt, no fear of a friendship ending with Mina. Whatever our relationship isn't, it IS unconditional. She forgives me my impatience and sudden bursts of anger. I forgive her her sassy fence fighting and unyielding stubbornness.

When I look into her amber eyes, I see someone looking back. Someone who is trying to comprehend me in perhaps the same way I her. Someone who gets jealous and angry and can be ugly. Someone who gives so much love and hopes for a little in return. Someone who loves to sniff a blade of grass for fifteen minutes longer than any rational dog should. Someone who can't race around the backyard with her sister, but who will still play bitey-face in the morning.

Someone who curls up next to me and sighs the sigh of someone who has come home.

The Mina Show: Offended Fairy Princess

Mina getting ready for her fifteenth birthday. Coming to a theater near you on November 5th.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Orca Moms Are No Different than Cow Moms

If you haven’t had an opportunity to see Blackfish, a documentary exposing the dark underbelly of SeaWorld and other marine parks that exploit orca (and other nonhumans), I encourage you to watch it on CNN on October 24th.

Orca develop lifelong social bonds. They stay with their family pod forever. There is no empty nest syndrome, no teenage Orca going off to explore the ocean currents. The pod they are born to is with whom they will die. It is the Orca way…and for decades humans disrupted that familial tie by stealing babies from their families and putting them on display for human entertainment.

Read more

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Mina Show - Every Morning

This is the morning routine. Every morning. Visit boss lady Kim, get cookies. Good times.

The Mina Show - I Do Not Fetch

Seriously. Sometimes Mina is all into toys and sometimes she looks at me like I'm a freak. Mina turns 15 on November 5th. She'll have a party. She never says no to cake.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Carter Show - Waiting for a New Home

Carter is available for adoption.

This is a letter I wrote to Carter's adopters. He had an adopter but it didn't work out, so he's still available...and you can still get this letter if you adopt him!

Dear Carter’s Adopters,

You’re welcome!

You have just added to your life one of earth’s greatest dogs. I’m not even kidding.

Dog social? Check.

Loves human contact? Check.

Thinks kids are neat? Yep.

Pretty darn smart? When he feels like it, yes!

Pouty face? Definitely!

Ready for play but easy to calm? Yes!

Carter is going to bring you joy. Like, a lot. I’m not talking run of the mill joy, I’m talking capital “J” Joy. He will make you laugh when he chases his own tail. He will bring in the hilarity when he blindly (literally!) runs zoomies around your yard. He will love it if you giggle with kindness whenever he runs into something (it really does make him feel better if you make light of his vision-shortcomings). He will make you sigh contentedly when he curls up in a large dog-donut at your feet. And yes, short-term, you will laugh uncomfortably when he air humps near you. Don’t judge, he just can’t help himself. He’ll get over it, so you can too!

Carter will remind you what it means to be lovingly patient. You will find it hard to be frustrated when he runs into things, because he will still tilt his head to where he thinks your face is and gaze fondly at you. You will chuckle when he bumps into your favourite potted plant for the fifth time in a row, because that is just how he does what he does. You won’t hold it against him, because there is an endearing bumbling childishness to his fumbling through this world.

Carter will teach you all about comfort, because he is into it. And sure, he’ll splay belly up on the patio for a warm sunbath...but that’s because of the sun, not the patio. Carter knows how to take advantage of dog beds, sofas, and human beds. He prefers TempurPedic, in case you wanted to stock each room. Carter does not realize he is 80 lbs and so you might want a King sized bed to share with him. Just a suggestion. When you want to know what it means to enjoy a connection with someone else, scratch him right under his collar. I am pretty certain “heaven” for Carter might just involve a full-time neck masseuse. Probably true for many of us, yes?

Carter may not be young, but he has lots of life to live. He may not see through his eyes, but his heart is clarity embodied. He is gentle intentionally and yeah, sometimes he is going to run into your legs and you are going to just cry. But you know, that’s part of adopting one of the greatest dogs on earth too.

So, thank you. After six months, I have come to know Carter. I love him dearly. I want you to love him dearly too, but I have a feeling you already do...I mean, you ARE adopting him!

Be honoured. Enjoy. Share your world with a really epic dog. He’ll share his with you too. He’s generous like that.


PS: Carter likes his picture taken. You can cc me anytime.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Focaccia Bread

Once upon a time there was a Pit Bull about to turn 15 and she really wanted some focaccia bread. An evil lady (me) made focaccia bread IN HER SLOW COOKER and only gave the almost-15-yr-old Pit Bull one bite.

Mina was sad.

You can still enjoy the recipe here.

I would like to suggest to you that investment in a slow cooker is an excellent idea. With fall here and winter close behind, I take my lazy-cooking game up a whole new level. My slow cooker * provides me with delicious, nutritious meals that I only invest a minimal amount of time into creating.

My favorite cookbook is The Vegan Slow Cooker. You're welcome.

*Thanks, mom!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Mina Show - Laundry Assistant

 The Mina Show: Nothing says "folding laundry" like a 35-lb Pit Bull nestling on top of socks and shirts and dish towels.