Archive for category History

Kindergarten Education

When I was 5 years old, I had a friend who lived one street over, but our houses lined up so that we shared a backyard fence.

This sounds like the ultimate in coolness and convenience, but my mother decreed that I was not allowed to climb the fence to go visit her. If I was invited over, I was to walk around in a civilized fashion and appear at their front door.

I was also not allowed to walk over to her house by myself, no matter how I complained and cajoled. We lived in a decent neighborhood, but not the kind where everyone knew everyone and kept an eye out on the neighborhood kids. Also, the way around was fairly long, and people tended to drive on her street pretty quickly, plus there wasn’t a real sidewalk.

Eventually, one day my mother relented. I could walk around by myself, and call her as soon as I arrived at my friend’s house.

I set off on my little adventure. I made it about half way to my friend’s house when I came upon a group of big boys. To then me, they were huge. To now me, I think they were in the 5th to 7th grade range. I continued on my route, without hesitation, for the last time in my life.

The boys parted to let me walk into their midst, but then closed ranks behind me, and surrounded me. How many boys? All the boys in the world, as far as I was concerned, but I am guessing 5 or 6 of them.

I tried to continue on my way, but they kept blocking me. Bumping me. Trapping me.

“Where you going?”

“To my friend’s.”

“You want to hang with us?”

“I have to go to my friend’s.”

I kept trying to pass. They kept preventing me.

“I have to go.”

“Just give me a kiss, and we’ll let you go.”

“Yeah, give us some kisses.”

Adrenaline coursed through my body. I didn’t know that at the time, but I am well familiar with the signs and symptoms now. Fear and rage and regret and so much flight or fight, but with no understanding of how to do either one.

Shaking I tried to pass them, and just kept saying I had to go.

Then one boy said, “Wait a minute. I think I know her,” and they all paused.

“Are you Jimmy’s little sister’s friend?”

“Yes.”

“Let her go guys.” Turning to me, “Don’t tell.”

So, I made my way to my friend’s house, and I called my house to say I had made it there safely.

I didn’t tell on the boys. I didn’t want to get in trouble. I was told I shouldn’t walk by myself, but I kept bugging them to let me walk by myself. I didn’t want them to know that I couldn’t even walk one street over by myself.

Not that I intended to walk to her house by myself again.

Hell, at least I made it to 5.

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And Then There Were None

Do you hear that?

The house is so quiet.

It makes me feel anxious, because I haven’t done anything for the puppies lately, so they should be noisily complaining, and the silence leaves me with a repetitive flutter in my gut that something is wrong.

Yesterday, I dropped my daughter off at a class and came home for an hour and a half of couch potato-ing before needing to pick her up again.  It was the first time I’ve been alone in the house without any other people since January 10th. Holy crap, that is a lot of people time for somebody like me. I couldn’t swim in the silence because of the feelings of puppy anxiety.

Time for life to return to some value of normal. Whatever that means.

Darby went home on Wednesday. On Thursday Mindy got sick. I called the vet and described the symptoms and she told me she was having a reaction to one of the vaccines. The vet came during her lunch hour to bring me some medicine for Mindy and an hour after she left Webster had symptoms too. On Saturday the call came from Darby’s family that she’d been sick for two days.

The vet was not pleased, and called the manufacturer and is returning this particular batch. They were not violently ill, and are going to be fine, but it was frustrating and inconvenient, at the very least. Nothing like taking three totally healthy happy little puppies and making them all sick while trying to prevent them from getting sick to raise my stress level a bit.

Webster was supposed to go home Saturday, but he ended up staying until Sunday so the vet could take a last look at him. I thought Mindy was going home on Sunday, but that was due to a typo (not mine) so she actually left yesterday.

I guess the big happy news is that Mindy went to live in California. This is a long story.

On July 13th, 1997, I met a family of three, and they rapidly became a very important part of my life. The female portion (D) of that trio has been mentioned in the past, for example, here and here. Their family of three turned into a family of 5 over the years. The three children have been asking for a dog, because that is what children do. D is not a dog person. She didn’t dislike dogs. She has taken care of my dogs for me when I needed it, and taken care of other people’s dogs, but she didn’t have any desire for her own dog.

The kids swore that if they got a dog they would take care of EVERYTHING and D wouldn’t have to do anything. Right. Sure.

Back in December my friend who took Ellie was going on vacation. She arranged for a petsitter to come and stay at her house to take care of her three dogs, but as the vacation approached, we realized that Ellie still wasn’t getting along well enough with one of her other dogs to make that a good idea. Trusting a pet sitter to deal with that kind of dynamic just wasn’t reasonable. However, the boarding situations available really were not ideal for Ellie. So, I asked D if she’d be willing to take Ellie in for a couple of weeks (paid, of course).

D agreed. For one thing, Ellie needed it, and for another, we had a plan. She would assign the kids to take care of Ellie, with the promise of all that money at the end. The kids would not take care of Ellie, D would do it all and keep the money, then the next time the kids said “we’ll take care of EVERYTHING, you won’t have to do anything” she would feel less guilty for laughing in their little dog wanting faces.

Ellie, no surprise, was a PITA. She got into the trash, because that is what Ellie does. Then her digestive system completely revolted, explosively, all over D’s carpet, because that is what digestive systems do when fed too much trash. Ellie was also absolutely sweet and adorable, because that is what Ellie is.

Three weeks later when Ellie went home, instead of a long sigh of relief, D found herself missing her.

Which is what led to her telling me she was thinking about getting a dog. I assigned her and the kids a bunch of reading. I went over the pros and cons of dog ownership. I asked her to make a list of what she was looking for in a dog. I warned her not to go out shopping for a dog, but instead to just be open to getting a dog when the right one came along. You don’t want to go out with the plan to pick a dog, because then you’ll simply pick the one there that comes the closest to being what you want. Instead, it is best to wait until the one that is actually right presents itself.

So, she started reading her assigned homework. She made a list of things she wanted in a dog. The list included items like:

  • around 25 lbs
  • short hair that doesn’t shed much
  • an adult, about 2 or 3 years old

Time passed. The right dog hadn’t presented itself yet, but she was taking my advice and not being in a rush.

By the time Mindy was about 4 weeks old, her developing personality started speaking to me, and it kept telling me she’d fit in to that family really well. This was a silly notion, because she was:

  • expected to be about 50lbs
  • is a husky mix and will do so much more than just shed
  • is not going to be an adult for a couple of long destructive years

I thought about it a couple more days, and then sent D an email, acknowledging all the bad, but explaining I had a feeling. She wrote back and said she’d been having the feeling too, from the first photos of the three of them.

They talked it over and decided to fill out an application. Other local people applied for her too. We waited anxiously to find out what the rescue would decide.

Mindy is an adorable and very adoptable little puppy. Ellie had been available for ages without any interest, and she had health conditions which made her less adoptable and made California a much more suitable climate for her. It is frightening to send a dog so far away. What if the new family changes their mind? It is especially iffy seeming when it comes to sending a dog to somebody who has never had a dog before.

The rescue decided to trust my recommendation, for which I am very glad. Nobody wanted Mindy to be flying in cargo, so that means she needed to head out to California after she was old enough to fly, but before she got too big to qualify to go as carry-on. This left a very narrow window. D and her daughter came out for a long weekend, to get some how to care for a puppy training and to fly Mindy home with them.

I was very anxious all afternoon yesterday while Mindy was in flight, but it turns out she did very well on the flight. The wait for the shuttle to the parking lot was a bit rougher (so noisy outside at LAX) and she cried and peed in her carrier. However, by last night she was safely at her new home and is getting settled. I know she’ll be very happy with them, they are really good family for this little people focused pup.

Best of all, I will get to be in touch with Mindy for her whole life.

There is stuff to say about Webster too, but that will wait for another post.

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1 Comment

Plungers

I am just posting this link because after first reading this article when it was posted in November of 2006, I’ve found myself searching for it multiple times in order to just reread it, or to pass the link to somebody else.

Yes, it usually comes up again due to a bus crash.

The Rise and Fall of the “Bus Plunge” Story

I like the overview of a piece of journalism history.

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