Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life Lesson #3: Making Room for More

This post isn't about dogs; in fact, you'll be glad no canines were involved.

Hurricane Irene rolled into New Jersey late Saturday night. We worried about downed trees on our quaint little town's tree-lined streets. We worried about not having electricity. We worried about trains being cancelled and roads being closed.

What we didn't worry about was a basement filled with a foot and a half of water. And that's exactly what we got. We were awoken at 5am by a horrible crashing sounds in the basement. We ran down to find 3-4 inches of water. The power had failed and, accordingly, so did our sump pump. We spent the next hour grabbing the essentials like contestants on Supermarket Sweep—important documents, electronics, scrapbooks. We grabbed and stacked as fast as we could, but the water kept rising. So then we started bailing water. With two small buckets, we ran up and down the stairs dumping the water into our bathtub. It was useless, but you can't helplessly stand by and watch all of your belongings go under.

The water won 16 inches to 0. That was yesterday.

Today was clean-up day. I hope you never have to wade through water with your life-long memories floating by—photos, books, each carrying a specific significance. (But maybe you have and you can relate.) Sure, we lost things of actual monetary value, such as big ticket appliances, and that hurts the wallet. But it was the little things that hit me hardest. They fall into a few categories...
  • Things that survive despite the odds (and thank goodness they do):
Our extra wedding invitations were sealed in a dinky envelope. Finding some of these intact made my day.
  • Things that deserve to be destroyed but are in perfect shape:
Why do I have these Pogs that went out of style 20 years ago? Even if they were in style, they didn't deserve to survive when my precious belongings did not. I hope they have survival's guilt.

  • Things of $0 monetary value that are irreplaceable:
  • This Golden Book wouldn't sell for $0.01 on ebay, even if it were dry. Sure, I could go out and buy a copy of this same title and it would stir the memories of reading with my mom as a child, but my signature (4-year-old style) can't be replaced.
  • Things you never knew you had and are glad you found (even if it took a massive flood):
Photos of my husband as a child

  • Things of emotional importance you should have let go years ago:
This was my favorite doll as kid, but she's been musty and mildew-y for years. Also included in this category are just anything to do with exes.
  • Things that remain as connections to loved ones who have passed:
  • As a kid, I took this suitcase to grandma's house for sleepovers. It's soaked through and through, but you better bet I'll be drying it with a hair dryer all day tomorrow. Letting go of this means letting go of her memory.
Sure, we've held on to some things in hopes of preserving them. But we've thrown out 60+ bags of "trash"—all things that once held significance to us. It makes me terribly sad, but it also makes us feel like we're starting fresh, especially as we begin our lives as a married couple. We're making more room in our home and in our lives for something more. What that "more" is, we're not sure, but you can bet a dog of our own and many foster dogs will be part of it. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

PUP-DATE: Karina

I received another pup-date from Karina's family. (And by Karina, I mean Winnie, which is what her people call her now. Does anyone else have problems with calling their old fosters by new names?)

Karina continues to make progress settling in. Her separation anxiety has dissipated. Her people are working with her dog-to-dog interactions. They sent along this picture of Karina on her union-mandated lunch break. I miss that dog, but I look into those eyes and know she is loved.

The Dogs of Pompeii

I'm back from hiatus from our wedding! As we await our next foster, I thought I'd report back from our honeymoon...

Dogs weren't far from our minds. The south of France seemed to be full of people that loved their small, un-neutered dogs—specifically Yorkies and Westies. And then there was the USDA beagle that sniffed me out among hundreds of people at the airport for "smuggling" cookies from Spain.

Above all else, there were the stray dogs of Pompeii. If you've ever visited, you may have seen this famous mosaic of one of Pompeii's guard dogs, which warns "beware of the dog."

I'm sure you also noticed the more modern dogs sleeping in the shade of ancient columns. There are more modern signs that tell visitors not to approach or pet any of these dogs that call Pompeii home. I obeyed and snapped photos of them from a distance—thinking that the photos looked like they belonged on Petfinder.

Luckily, the Italian government is a few steps ahead. Or maybe they had to be. There were isolated reports of dogs attacking visitors at the popular tourist attraction, as well as recurring problems with the dogs fighting over food and females in heat. With an estimated 50 stray dogs at the ruins at any given time, there were also problems with local gangs recruiting (read: stealing) the animals for dog fighting. 

So, in 2009, Pompeii's administrators started a program to promote the adoption of dogs. The dogs were given medical attention, spayed/neutured, microchipped, and outfitted with Roman names. Then, they were put up for adoption. In the program's first six months, the Times reports 22 dogs were adopted. 

As we noticed, the issue has not been solved since the program was handed over to local volunteers last summer. Many dogs are still abandoned in Southern Italy—particularly by pilgrims who visit the area each year and by those who know that their dog will likely be fed and cared for if deserted at Pompeii. Overpopulation knows no boundaries and has no easy solution. But at least someone is doing something to help these dogs stand a fighting chance.

Visit the project's website, (C)ave Canem, for more information. Then, check out these articles from Discovery News and The New York Times