Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen

It's back to the Bah Humbug time of year, which is everyday excepting Christmas. The cats have pulled down most of the Christmas tree ornaments, drank the water from the reservoir; in fact, done everything cat-like there is to do to something given them as a gift, their Christmas tree. I've seen animals they've dragged in treated better.

I will probably run out of cigarettes today, which is a dreadful prospect for all concerned, except for the cats. I know they will "get me" if I display the slightest change in temperament while trying to live through the horrible withdrawals I am going to face. But, it's got to be done sometime.

I quit for 8 months several years ago and it's astounding for smokers to find out that they smell THAT bad to non-smokers. It truly reeks, and it took three days to get the smell out of my hair and longer to get it off my skin. Nevertheless, no one but the truly rich can afford to smoke anymore, and I am tired of lighting 5 dollar bills up and watching the smoke dissipate into the atmosphere. In a word, I'm cheap. I blame it entirely on my Methodist and Scottish ancestors. Not on any intrinsic set of values, of which I have none. However, I did count my Christmas cards this afternoon, as I may be smoking them about midnight...wonder what a coffee cigarette tastes like?

My friend Beth, on hearing I was quitting smoking, and only living 3 states away, promptly left for Australia until the nightmare is over. Cleverly, I haven't told my shrink or my lawyer yet. I suggest you all have masses said for the soul of my therapist, Kathryn. It's also going to be quite a surprise to my physical therapist tomorrow, poor girl. But they train those in the medical field in trauma, is how I look at it.

Tomorrow: May be much sooner if I have nothing to do with my hands and run out early.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We Are Not Alone

I've lost four beings in my life in the past year, and yet I feel them around me right now. The two oldest cats, Fudge and Bilbo, my Mother and my beloved service dog, Eddie.
But I have also connected and reconnected with enough people today to feel as if I were at a party, surrounded by other beings, who were in turn, surrounded by crowds of their own.
I think that, for me, is the miracle of Christmas.

I'm going to do some more communicating now. I think it was Ray Bradbury who said, "If the world was about to end, and we all knew it, the phone lines would be jammed with people calling others to say, 'I love you.'"

I love You.

Tomorrow: Back to Bah Humbug

Friday, December 24, 2010

I would like to post this for animal lovers all over the world.

Second Chances

by Scotlund Haisley on Friday, December 24, 2010 at 1:21am
Position on Michael Vick’s Desire for a Family Dog
Second Chances
By Scotlund Haisley,  former director of the Vick dog rehabilitation

Michael Vick says that his daughter would like a dog. In a recent NBC interview he spoke: “I miss having a dog right now. My daughters miss having one. And that’s the hardest thing, telling them that we can’t have one because of my actions.”

I personally cared for 11 of Vick’s previous dogs – the 11 who were deemed most behaviorally injured.  I was then the executive director of the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL).  Weeks after Vick was arrested, the court-appointed guardian of the dogs contacted me. She had heard about our progressive facility and was asking my team to begin the rehabilitation process. I agreed and we at WARL committed ourselves to the special needs of these most vulnerable dogs.

Dog fighting is a horrific illegal blood sport but our 11 charges were victims of more than dog fights. The prosecutor’s record reveals that they lived tortured lives in a gruesome place. They endured agonizing training regimens and fights to survive. Those designated as bait dogs had all 42 teeth pulled while tied to a rape stand. The rape stand was also used to bind females so they could be forcibly bred. The need to replace dogs who died in fights or who were murdered by Vick and his gang was constant.

Vick himself pled guilty to drowning, electrocuting, hanging, shooting and beating dogs to death. Evidence reveals that some of the hanging victims died slowly – their feet barely skimming the ground. Some of the drowning victims were shocked too. Many were savagely beaten. Michael Vick was found to be directly responsible for fighting them, for breaking their bones and spirits.

My attention was focused on rehabilitating our 11 injured souls. WARL is one of the most open and progressive animal shelters in the country. We temporarily re-structured several living areas to help the victims feel safe, and in fact to ensure their anonymity during the judicial process. WARL received no money for caring for these dogs; we did it because it was the right thing to do.

When we assessed them to identify their individual needs we found dogs who were broken both physically and emotionally. Their bones were shattered - ears were cut off - lips were ripped and massive scabs covered their bodies. They bore homemade sutures. Their collars we so tight they had to be cut off. The bath water that washed over their scarred bodies ran black.

When I looked at the Vick dogs, they cowered and I could see the terror in their eyes – hoping and yet afraid to trust. One dog refused to eat for weeks, trembling whenever a caretaker approached her. Joy was unknown to her and she was wary of our kindness.

We began the painstaking rehabilitation process, immersing each dog with an individualized enrichment plan. Soon “the Vick Dogs” became our dogs:

 Georgia,             Lucas,             Denzel,            Willie,                         Meryl,             Ellen,          
Layla,                         Charlie,             Sweet Pea,             Sweet Jasmine,            and Tug.

During the next several months, my staff and I came to know these dogs intimately. The cruelty that they endured is unimaginable; the healing power of genuine compassion – miraculous. I will always be in awe of their courage to risk trusting humans once again.

Michael Vick says that his daughter would like a dog. “I would love to get another dog in the future. I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process. I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love and my passion for animals.”

I believe in second chances. I’ve learned about genuine forgiveness and rehabilitation from the best. "The Eleven" were given a second chance and I saw them heal.

Michael Vick? His words, though well-coached, still say it’s all about him. I’m still waiting to hear him say how sorry he is for torturing and killing dogs. I’m waiting for him to take personal responsibility for his crimes. I’m waiting for him to admit that childhood culture isn’t the cause of his ignorance. I'm waiting for him to say his deeds were truly unforgivable.

I am not qualified to determine whether a criminal is rehabilitated, nor am I qualified to talk about Vick as an individual. In my 20-year career in animal protection I have come across thousands of animal abusers and I still do not understand how their minds work, how they can possibly commit such horrific acts. I strongly believe that convicted animal abusers forfeit the privilege of caring for animals ever again. Heavy life-time restrictions are placed upon violent offenders towards humans; surely they should also be placed upon those who are violent towards animals.

My life’s mission is to elevate the status of animals – to be with them on the journey to their rightful place in our world. I believe in their right to live a life free from the suffering caused by human hands.

Some people are supporting Michael Vick’s desire for a dog.

Not me.

Scotlund Haisley

Photo by Carol Guzy while at The Washington Animal Rescue League.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fa la la la

Stewart vs. Shinseki: January 11 and 12, 2011 in the Poff Federal Building downtown Roanoke, VA I am suing the Veterans Dept.  for reasonable accommodation for my service animal, Eddie.

Eddie has passed, but the fight for Service Animals goes on!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Too Sexy For My Stats

It's just too exciting and too, too American, but I am thrilled to now have readers in Oz. Up till now, I have been satisfied with readers in the UK and one poor fellow in Warsaw, Poland. Facebook keeps telling me when he tunes in, and asks me if I want to "view" him. Sure, I tell FB, why not? Then Facebook shows me a map of the world with a small dot hovering over, you guessed it, Warsaw, Poland.

Yes. I thought I would recognize him from this distance. I think I dated that dot in high school.

I am writing in the light of the tree that Beth and Victor (not their real names) got me for Christmas. It's half lit, the front half, because I didn't buy enough lights (yet). Being half lit is a waste of time for an alcoholic and a tree, so I will have to remedy that today.

The cats think I have invented heaven, bringing a tree indoors for them, just as it gets too cold to go outside. Echo, the sole female, sleeps under it every night. She was one of the orphans I had to raise on unicorn meat, due to her deli-cat digestion, (sorry) so the idea that friends would come six hours to visit her AND buy her a tree (and string up night lights in it), is not beyond the realm of imagination for her. This is just something else her slaves do for her comfort and amusement.  However, I neglected to create it smelling like catnip. Bad. Human.

Although I will say this for her: Scherezade, a former cat, invariably climbed the tree, making the use of guy-wires necessary.

I'll write later on today. I have to see someone about a dog. Don't tell.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snow Cats

OK. I gave up trying to conquer the cedar tree. It's lying in the driveway until I can roll it down the hill to let whomever roosts in it who wants to. Two dear friends came to see me this weekend and saved my soft-handed bacon (in a manner of speaking) by buying me a white pine tree. We even got some of the lights and ornaments up, ate some chocolate and watched Harry Potter by the twinkling lights. These are real friends.

Actually, all my friends are real friends. I don't have many, but I have managed to cut down on acquaintances over the years. And I don't hang around people I would just drink around anymore. Inane chatter over screwdrivers has gotten to be less attractive as I age, like wanting to know who is dating who. If it's not me or one of the cats...I don't care.

I have eaten so much fudge in the past week, I may pick up a terminal disease from it. Another dear friend helped me make fudge in her kitchen with her experience peeping over my shoulder and her extensive collection of kitchenware at my fingertips. I have given fudge away to most of the known universe, and it still is stacked against the walls and counters in my kitchen. And there are still a few batches of shortbread cookies to redo.

But I have hope ('tis the season) that I can dispose of all sugar products by Christmas Day. Anyway, that's my goal.

Because of the weather, I kept the cats in for five days. I will just torture them outright next time and call Animal Control on myself. They acted like they were changing staterooms on the Titanic and looking for the lifeboats at the same time.

But this morning, I let them out into the Arctic winter. And they came right back in. They just like the blowhole for warm air that's created when the cat door is open all the time. And they want to be able to invite all their friends in when I am asleep. Like the rabid skunks roaming at will in Botetourt County right now.

After all, look at all the fudge SomeOne has to eat...