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My blind dog dreams. As some of you know, my new rescue dog, Captain Jellybean, is totally blind, likely from trauma. He doesn’t bark or make any sound, and I've only seen him wag his tail twice. He is learning the layout of the house, and the other dogs are helping him. Jack, in particular, watches over him.
Bean sleeps in the bed, sandwiched between me and a pillow. He sleeps through the night, and won’t try to get off the bed. A few nights ago I felt him moving next to me and thought he was having a seizure. I turned on the lights and pulled back the covers just enough to see him.
All four legs were moving and incredibly, his tail whipped back and forth in a full-blown wag. Bean was dreaming! His body seemed relaxed and his movements spoke of a happy imaginary world. I was fascinated. Could he “see“ in his dreams? Was he in a field of mowed grass, flat ground, without any fencing? Were I or the other dogs with him, or did he run alone? Did he recall a time when his eyes could see movement and his vision returned in his dreams?
I remembered happy dreams of my own, and hoped the wag signaled his comfort in his new home. What are dreams? Are they just our subconscious acting out, or something more?
For most of my life I have had a recurring nightmare. The details change but the theme remains the same. There’s danger, and when I try to call for help, the phone doesn't work. Sometimes there’s no connection, other time a person on the other end of the line can't hear me. And always the danger comes closer and I am alone.
A few months ago I had a similar nightmare but with a different conclusion. In my childhood apartment, evil came up the stairs toward the apartment door. The phone in my hand buzzed but wouldn't make a connection. I yelled out to the building tenants (who were somehow my current friends) "I need help - call the police!"
Voices responded, "Calling now!" Immediately the police were there, and I woke.
When I realized what had happened in my dream, I laughed out loud in the middle of the night. Wherever the old fear had come from, it was now gone. It hasn't returned and I don't believe it will.
It may be too much to hope that Bean won't have bad dreams ever again, but it would be a gift to us both if the good dreams outweighed the bad. Do you have a recurrent dream or nightmare, and what do you think it means?
This weekend I had the honor of being able to help administer the Covid vaccine to our frontline healthcare workers. I was excited to dust off my nursing license and scrubs, but that emotion quickly changed to my being humbled.
The healthcare workers I met did not discuss politics. There was no concern over the vaccine being "fake news." Every person eagerly rolled up their sleeves and thanked me after the vaccine. They thanked me - how ridiculous was that?
Over and over I heard the word "hope." One woman spoke of her mother, who passed away a month ago from complications of Covid. A young man shared how he and his family were worried about the vaccine side effects, so he was putting aside his worry to receive the vaccine (social media photo included) in the hope his family would see how safe it was and follow suit.
The atmosphere was one of fatigue and sadness for what had come before and what we still currently face, tempered by that word again. Hope. We need to remain focused, with facemasks, handwashing and social distancing. Let's honor our frontline workers by staying safe ourselves as we move to create a wall against this terrible virus.
As we set our goals for 2021, please continue to thank, and recognize our frontline workers. When 2020 has been in our rearview mirror for a time, and we have returned to hugging family members at gatherings, continue to remember those who you are grateful for today.
To my hair stylist: thank you.
To my UPS driver: thank you.
To our military: thank you.
To our truckers: thank you.
To the gas station attendants: thank you.
To everyone who acts as the backbone of our country: thank you.
A special thank you to our medical personnel, EMS crews, firefighters and police.
And to all of you who follow my blog and have supported me in my writing, I appreciate you more than you can know. Thank you.
The turkey leftovers are gone and holiday wreaths are up. This has been a tough year for everyone, so let's talk about holiday gift-giving. Usually we have all begun stressing over gifts by now. What do I get my boss? Last year my neighbor gave me a fruit basket - do I need to get her something? The normal stress of the season has been taken up a notch with Covid and all its terrible repercussions.
Stop. Just stop. None of us has the same expectations as last year and most of us are now grateful for the simple things. I hope you all are doing well and I wish for you health over the next few months. Give yourself some grace. If you cannot afford the normal gifts, it's ok. Here are some ideas for low-cost (or no-cost) presents.
Give of your time. Know someone who is busy or can't get out? Give them a hand made certificate for three trips to the grocery store, or a run to the vet. Call an old friend or family member you haven't spoken to in awhile and just listen. Look up community giving activities like food or coat giveaways and help advertise/promote them. Baking cookies? Drop some of those off at your nearest animal shelter - those workers are never appreciated enough!
Give a subscription - and set it up! This is especially helpful for those of us who are not technically savvy. Maybe a grandparent wants to see the grandbaby on zoom but can't get the account set up. Have it ready to go with a year's membership. Know a gardener? Get an annual subscription to Gardeners' World. For those who struggle getting out, pay for a year's membership to Instacart so they can get groceries or even prescriptions delivered without a fee!
What about those last minute people or groups like your work team? Make a one-time donation to your favorite charity (no amount is too small) from the department or all your neighbors. Have a stack of cards which say inside "A holiday donation has been made to..." This advertises and gives to the charity while doubling as a gift. Win - win!
Lastly, if you are struggling physically, emotionally or financially, give yourself permission to let gifts go this year. There will be other opportunities. Take care of yourself. Believe in yourself. At a time when we are all worried and may feel alone, you are not alone. Below are a few sites I found helpful for coping through the holidays. If you have a great link or gift suggestion, please add it to the comments below. Stay safe and healthy!
Grief.com — – Grief & The Holidays
Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping - Mayo Clinic
October is a great month. It is the beginning of fall, my birthday month and Breast Cancer Awareness (Get those puppies checked!). It is also Dog Rescue Month. We could all use a little positivity right now, so I am going to share pictures and info on my rescue dogs, past and present. Here is the most important thing though - I want you all to respond with your own rescue dog pics. Drop a photo and share a few lines about your favorite rescue dog so we can all smile.
Hope was one of my first rescues. Bossy and head of the house, I never met a dog so fearless.
Angel may look like a Lab but she was meant to be an adult Chihuahua or Terrier. I had gone to the shelter and asked for a small dog. Of course I brought Hope with me. She was having none of it and turned down every dog the technician brought us. As we were leaving, a Lab puppy waddle/rolled past us. Hope jumped on her (literally) and they became fast friends. My sweet girl loved the whole world but was terrified of storms. I am reassured to know she is now rolling around in a place where there is only sunshine.
Annabelle was my con artist. She was being placed in a crate at the shelter as I walked by. The attendant said she had been returned to them twice because of her cough. As I looked at her she let out a little *cough* and looked pitiful. Of course, once we got home she never coughed again. She was also my hunter. She could corner a mouse, bug or tiny snake faster than anyone before or since!
Baby had a horrible start to her life and is still (nine years later) afraid of strangers and loud noises. A snuggle-bug, she sleeps next to me and snores like a forty-year smoker with sleep apnea.
Tiger was with me for too short a time. A ruptured diaphragmatic hernia surprised us both and I still miss him. He was my first "pocket" dog and just wanted to be in a purse or pocket all the time.
Foster came from a hoarding situation and was the funniest and grumpiest old man I ever met. He loved me but bit almost everyone else. Luckily he had no teeth so couldn't hurt anyone. When I brought him home he instantly fell in love with Baby and always kept her within sight.
I called the shelter after Tiger died and asked about a small dog. They said they had a new arrival but "she wasn't very attractive." I laughed and knew she belonged with me, sight unseen. The bossiest of the group, she tells us all when it is time to eat or sleep.
Jack and Jill came to me from a criminal case and I don't share their early photos. They are inseparable but very different. Jill has vision and memory issues but loves the whole world (including snakes and wasps). Jack is the protector of everyone, but no one more so than his sister. He is the jokester and will do anything to make me laugh.
And finally we have Blanche. At 16, someone decided they couldn't care for her anymore and dropped her at an Alabama shelter. A little medical care and a flea bath later and she is part of the pack. Her cataracts don't slow her down and she knows the layout of the house better than I do. Each morning she wakes up and does a little jiggle-dance, reminding me to appreciate the day! As I end this list, remember to post a photo of your own!
Over the past few months my "eating out" money has shifted to "audio book money." Although I love reading a physical book, social distancing has given me a craving for human voices. It is also difficult to exercise or do activities while reading a traditional book, while you can put an audio book on your phone speaker and listen while doing something else or staring out at the sunrise and drinking coffee.
My newfound enjoyment of audio books started me thinking about my own books and how I "hear" my characters. My first book in The Supernatural Pet Sitter series was read by a fabulous narrator (check out the audio book version here) but hiring a narrator can be cost-prohibitive.
As you all know, I love a new challenge. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I bought audio book versions of several "how-to" books on narration. After several microphones and various equipment failures, I went with a simple microphone plugged into my iPhone and I began practicing. Hearing your own voice is odd!
I chose A Hand of Magic as my first book. The hardest thing was trying to not laugh during the sex scenes! I had a surprising amount of fun bringing a voice to Madison and the book almost created itself. The first audio book has now been published, and the second book in the series is in the quality check phase for release in October. I would love to narrate Dog Gone, but the book is so serious the thought of it is daunting. Stay tuned to see if I tackle that one.
If you have never read an audio book I encourage you to find one on Amazon or Audible. Pick any category: art, music, history or a romance novel. I've had fun lately with ghost stories but have stayed away from political books. If you haven't read A Hand of Magic, or just want to hear it brought to life in a different way, check out the audio book here.
I appreciate all the great feedback I have received around my new adoptee, Blanche. You will be glad to know she is doing fabulously and has even begun to gain a little weight. We both enjoy our morning trips to Dunkin Donuts where the drive through staff know her by name. Everyone stay well!
Who am I, and what makes my blog different? I believe that animal rescue, as hard as it is, can also be uplifting. Every tale I have ever written has animals as central characters. My goal is to provide practical, positive information for animal lovers, interspersed with helpful tips for writers (and writers-to-be). I will also share updates on upcoming books and my canine family. We all have stories to tell - let's get started!