Who Rescued Who?

Growing up, I always wanted to be the girl who lived on a farm, or the one whose parents fostered animals, or the girl who was born into a family who already had dogs. It’s no secret that I love animals a lot more than I love people, but I love rescue animals most of all.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time working for a local dog rescue. This rescue brings dogs from high kill shelters in the south home to the north. Working with this rescue, I’ve heard a lot of stories in regards to the backgrounds of our dogs. Unfortunately, most of them make me roll my eyes towards the human race, others make me tear up.

Before joining this rescue, I didn’t realize how terribly dogs were treated in the south. I’m not saying that all dogs in northern United States are treated fairly, but this rescue works with multiple shelters in different states in southern United States where the euthanisation rate is through the roof and a lot of individuals down there don’t even know what spaying or neutering means.

For example, one dog that was recently brought to us was very large and fluffy. The owners of this dog lived in an apartment and decided to pack up and leave one day without warning and left their dog to fend for itself in the empty space. Did I mention that this was in the middle of summer? Without air conditioning, the apartment was 90 degrees.

In another instance, members of our rescue team went down to a new shelter in the south to save a few dogs. When they got there, they found out that multiple dogs were euthanized three hours before our team’s arrival because they were “cleaning up for the weekend.”

To me, animals are not just animals; they’re family. My dog has been with us for 13 years. We got him when we went to a pumpkin patch shortly after the September 11th attacks. My dog is hands down the best dog for our family. He’s relaxed but loves to go for walks and gets along with other dogs…most of the time. Over the last 13 years, we’ve had some great moments, but our dog has taken more of a liking to my mother. However, over the last year with me being around our house more with my unemployment, I’ve developed the deepest bond with him that I’ve ever had. Nowadays, he’ll take naps on my bed, follow me around the house, get very excited when I put my tennis shoes on (signaling a walk), or put him in the car with me (signaling a ride to the dog park or Pet Smart). He’s been my constant companion and best friend, and I’m so happy that we’ve gotten to spend so much time together recently. We’ve grown very close, and as I write this, he is sound asleep on the edge of my bed.

Goodnight my angel; and sleep tight to all of the dogs without a home. Don’t worry, we’ll come pick you up soon!

Granny Smith – over and out

Autism Awareness

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If you don’t know already, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month here in the United States. And seeing how the month is almost over, I thought I’d dedicated this post to those individuals with Autism, my brother, specifically.

My brother was three years old when he was diagnosed, and my family’s life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t tell you how many countless hours my brother has spent with therapists working on his speech and cognitive ability and how many days he was in the Special Education room at our high school only for us to realize that he isn’t so different after all. He’s still a typical boy who has his own likes and dislikes, he just can’t express himself in the same way we can.

For years, my family has gotten stares and weird looks in public places when my brother has cried out, hummed, or even danced near complete strangers. Even tonight, we went to our local YMCA for a swim and a young boy (probably only about 10 or 12) told my brother to hand over the ball he was holding because he was supposed to use it to shoot hoops not hold it! Of course, I glared at the boy and flipped him the bird…in my mind. But, we carried on, business as usual.

When I was younger, I would get so embarrassed half the time because my brother would have to use the ladies room with my mom if my dad wasn’t around so that someone could help him in the bathroom. We even stopped going to church because my brother loves to laugh, hum, and cry out during inappropriate times. Whenever someone looks at him, all they can see is his age, so they’re completely confused as to why he’s behaving “in that way.” Nowadays, I don’t give as many shits. If he cries out, he cries out. If he decides to dance in the middle of the grocery isle, let him have at it (as long as he’s not in anyone’s way)!

I’m not saying that I’m completely fine with his outbursts and that they never embarrass me. Of course, I still get agitated with him every once in awhile. But he’s my brother, and that’s what siblings do. If anything, he’s made me more of a tolerant person. Yes, people mess up once, twice, three times even! But, because I live with a boy who constantly needs to be reminded to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, or to take his shoes off before climbing into bed, I’ve never gotten into a heated/screaming match with anyone. No one has ever pissed me off that much…because, it takes A LOT for me to REALLY show my frustration.

Like my dad says, “everyone should have at least one disabled child so that they know what it’s really like.” And, I completely agree. There’s too many government officials trying to cut funding for those with disabilities and it brings me to near tears when I think about how much those with disabilities have already been shafted in life, how many limitations they have when it comes to things to do, places to go, or people who will take care of them, and now this? My father actually has a friend who works for the government and has a disabled daughter, and because of that, he makes sure that he knows every law and is able to fight that much harder for her rights. He’s actually helped a lot of families (mine included) knowledgeably advocate for their disabled child. And, never would he have become so involved if he didn’t have a daughter with a disability.

My brother and other individuals with disabilities that I have spent time with over the course of my life thus far have helped me get a better perspective on what really matters in life. Not only that, but they’ve also taught me how it’s important to treat individuals with the utmost respect, say what you feel, and do what makes you happy.

If you’ve never had the chance to spend time with an individual or individuals with a disability, I encourage you to volunteer for the Special Olympics, or for a disabled group home. Even if it’s just for an hour and only one time! Make some sort of interaction with these uniquely talented and special individuals, and I guarantee your life will change for the better.

Granny Smith – over and out

If You Were Going to Die at Midnight…

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In light of the last post I wrote, “Wanna Play 20 Questions?…Sort of…” I’ve decided that I’m going to pick a few of those questions and answer them in future blog posts..like this one!

Today’s question, “If you were going to die at midnight, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m.?”

When thinking about this question, a million other ones came to mind…such as, “how far in advance do I know that I’m going to die at midnight on such and such a day?..24 hours? A week?” Because, if I knew far enough in advance, I’d be able to call people up, tell them how much they meant to me, and then plan the sickest farewell party EVER!!..But, what if I found out at 11 p.m. day of? You can’t exactly rally the troops together, go through your bucket list, or make a lot of phone calls.

But, if I had to decide what I would be doing at 11:45 p.m., regardless of how far in advance I knew I was going to be gone at midnight, I’d have to say that I’d keep it simple. I would want to be in my bedroom in my parent’s house. And, I’d want to be lying on my bed, because I LOVE my bed! Seated around me would be my parents, brother, and dog. In bed with me, holding on to me, would be my boyfriend. We would all be talking, reminiscing, and they would hopefully reassure me that the life I lived was a good one, and that everything was going to be ok.

Now, to be honest, I had to debate about this a bit. On one hand, I would want them there with me. But, on the other, would I really want them to see me die? Would I really want my boyfriend to be holding on to me as I took my last breath? That kind of stuff changes your LIFE. I’ve known many individuals that have seen a loved one on their last leg, and it’s not pretty. But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be alone, and I wouldn’t want them to leave the room shortly beforehand knowing what I was going through on the other side of the door.

But, I guess what I’m really getting at is, there’s nothing sweeter in this world than family; and I have the absolute best. At the end of your life, it’s not going to be your possessions that you cling to, it’s going to be the people you love most. That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of work, life, balance. Yes, you have to fill your time here with something. But, if that something constantly causes you to miss out on time with the one’s you love most…is it really worth it? Because, at the end of your life, you’ll look back and think of everything you’ve ever wanted to do, and you’ll probably make a checklist, as in, “did I get to do this? Yes or No” and then move on. You’ll also probably wish that you were more vocal with your opinions, spent more time with family and friends, and that you didn’t work so hard.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve read different studies on what individuals greatest regrets were while they were on their deathbed. And the above are all of those are things the wished they could’ve clung on to while they were living. So, why wait? Apply what you want to do today, because as far as I’m concerned, there are no do-overs.

So, what would you be doing at 11:45 p.m. if you knew you were going to die at midnight?

Granny Smith – over and out