Archive for July, 2018

Dogs Took Over the Internet. Our Souls Are at Stake.

It used to be that the cat was the big beast online. But lately, dogs are taking over.
In the first episode of the new season of her video series, “Internetting,” Amanda Hess investigates an adorable existential crisis for web culture.

Dogs are order. Cats are chaos. Dogs are loyal and compliant. Cats are … not. Why has the internet suddenly switched its allegiance? Episode 1 of our video series.

This 4 1/2 video from the New York Times is very funny  – and maybe even insightful.Internetting

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Toni ESAMy little Toni is more resilient today – more her old self, handling many different situations with poise. On our first three errands, she just plopped herself down on the floor, patiently waiting for me to complete my business – no restlessness, no hard breathing. But after our third errand, when we got in the car she did start to hyperventilate. And i thought, “When I was planning this outing all of these errands seemed kind of urgent, but you know what? These last three errands could just as well be done another day – or maybe one a day over three days.”

She’s my little canary in the coal mine, letting me know when the situation is moving into a toxic zone – probably for me in addition to her.

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For Buddy

It feels a little creepy, when my current dog is so sick, to post this poem that I wrote five years ago when my Buddy was dying.  But, I think, not really creepy.  It’s just about mortality, about impermanence.  Everything dies.  Everyone we love will eventually go away from us – by their death or ours or something else.  My very wise friend Arayah said after Toni’s heart disease diagnosis, “Toni will be with you exactly as long as she is meant to be with you – not one day more or less.”

When my Buddy was dying, my friend Johanna – a big fan of my poetry, said to me on the phone, “Write Buddy a poem – and read it to him right before you put him down tonight.”  It knew it was the best advice I could have gotten.  That afternoon I carried Buddy out to our back deck for us to sit in the glorious warm late-fall sunshine.  I sat next to him and very easily wrote the poem.  I read out loud to him and I – who had not yet found my way into my tears about his dying – cried like a baby.  It was healing.  I hope it is helpful to you.IMG_0140

For Buddy

Once you were afraid of me – and all men
When I stepped on your paw, you ran away –
You thought I was trying to hurt you
Now I am your safe space
You trust me
You have taught me about trust
You have taught me so many things

You have shown me what it’s like
To come totally awake to the night
To smell, hear, and sense it all
Like there is no tomorrow
Like there is nothing else
Just this night – here, now

You have shown me what it’s like to be content
This moment, this place, this life

You have shown me what it’s like to have no regrets
No second-guessing
Wishing we had done something different

I can’t take away your cancer
I can’t extend your life
I can’t keep you here with me
I can commit to you, before you go
Out of gratitude for all you have given me
Over all these years
That I will redouble my efforts
To sense the night
To be content
To have no regrets
And that sometimes
When I feel the night
Am content or
Have no regrets
I will think of you
And I will smile

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About two hours ago I decided to start sending out my Go Send Me funds request now, even without my Rover.com registration complete.  An hour later I got my first donation!  And from my best man friend in Asheville, Tom Kilby.  I was at Earth Fare – where I still, for another week, am on the payroll and where he works.  He bopped me on the head, as he is prone to do, with a ten dollar bill – a first for that.  He said “Hey, I’m not going to do Pay Pal and I don’t use checks – here, this is for your fund.”  Wow, what a shot in the arm!  I got my first donation even before I sent out the request!  And from this person who is so special to me.  This is really good ju-ju…or luck…or divine blessing. Tom and Amanda

My mind went crazy.  I’ve gotta create a spreadsheet to keep track of the donations.  What was the perk for a $10 donation?  I’ve gotta look that up and send it off to him right away.  Actually, I mostly need to breathe and trust.  Exactly the right amount of money is going to come in at just the right time.  If it’s not enough to pay for my liability insurance, things will work out.  If it’s more, that would be awesome.

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No Rover.com yet

One of the things that has been holding me back from sending out the blog post with my “Go Send Me” funds request is that I wanted to have my Rover.com profile and registration complete – providing all of you and other potential customers a cross-section of my customer comments/testimonials.  But I can’t complete that registration until I have my insurance and bonding in place – and I can’t pay the $360 for the insurance until I get some income from this appeal. It’s the rock and a hard place thing.

This afternoon it got clear to me that the time is right to send out that beautiful letter, without the Rover registration – and hopefully in the short term score the money for the insurance, my top funding priority right now.  You can always go into Rover a few days from now to see my completed profile.  It’s exciting that I am going to let the horse out of the barn – or something like that. Amanda and Katie

In an hour Toni and I go to our vet and two hours after that my dear friend Amanda comes over to picnic in our stunning 13th floor Roof Garden.  She and I have not managed to find a time to talk since before my stroke, much less Toni’s health crises – and I may even get interested in the recent events of her life.  That sounds really, really good actually.

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Toni’s congestive heart failure diagnosis was last Wednesday, just six days ago – not time enough to fully wrap my head around it.  Her big-time breathing crisis (one hour of oxygen, 4 1/2 hours at the emergency animal hospital) was Monday – two weeks ago.  She is not in crisis at this time – and when she gets enough rest she looks almost normal, though she is overall pretty subdued and walks a minimal amount when I take her out.Toni ESA

But she is clearly not well.  All she really wants to do is to sleep/rest on the carpeted floor or on my queen sized bed.  (She sleeps rests in one place for maybe 20 minutes, then moves a few feet away and does it again.)  Today we ran two rfelatively compact little errands: to get an estimate on my car bumper, so I can detail the cost in my pitch letter – which is published in this blog but has not been really promoted yet, and to Earth Fare for a few groceries.  This was clearly too much for her – she looked distressed and her breathing got very fast.

I have been cancelling almost all of my social engagements, including the ones where I was going to take her – maybe especially those.  She doesn’t need the extra stimulation.  What otherwise could be a positive stress – interesting things to do/see/smell – today is all just too much for her.


Is she going to make it?  My intuition is yes, that she will get through this crisis and get better – maybe for a good long time. But I can’t totally control my morbid fears.

Send your prayers.  Picture her well.  Picture her charging full-speed in Montford Park, which she was doing just two weeks ago.  Picture her really happy in the arms of Aunt Diana, her new best friend at Battery Park Apartments – and in the arms of Aunt Sherrie Lynn at Earth Fare,  Picture me handling it all – actually growing more peaceful and content as I actively embrace mortality, Toni’s and mine.  My friend Arayah said, the day after the heart diagnosis, “Toni is going to be with you exactly as long as she is supposed to be with you – not a day less or more.”  I’ve been thinking/saying that a lot – it’s comforting to me.

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When Toni came to me a year and a half ago, she was skin and bones.  She was a famously picky eater and she tipped the scale at 4.7 ounces.  (I know, staggering numbers, right?)  Then six months later, after some successful experimentation with her food, she came up to 5.2 and looked great – that seemed like her fighting weight.  Then the last few months her belly has gotten pretty big and I have been lambasting myself for feeding her wrong, not giving her enough exercise – something.  At her vet visit last week, she had picked up another three ounces – a lot for her – and I felt even more guilty.  “I’m wrecking my dog – I’m making her unhealthy and less attractive.”  Even her sitter teased me for letting her get so big: “You better make sure she doesn’t put on more weight.”Toni.jpg

The vet on Monday squashed all that.  “She doesn’t have any fat on her.  Everywhere I feel she is solid. Her belly is distended. There has to be a cause – maybe it is the prednisone.  But it’s a medical issue, not a feeding issue.”  (What’s causing my distended belly?  If I ate as lean a diet as Toni does, I might not have it.”

Amazing how we can torment ourselves for something out of our control – and how easily that bubble can be burst.

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