Monday, April 16, 2007

Character: Chewbacca

I just realized I haven't put up a sketch of Chewy yet, so here it is.

A couple of months ago, I went to pick up my new monsterdog. I missed Bo so much for so long, I just couldn't be without at least 150 pounds of love anymore. While perusing the excellent, I came across "Homer", who was found nearly starved and brought to a shelter near Bemidji, MN. A week or two later, I headed up to get him.

You would not believe how thin this dog was. Their vet said he was about 2 years old...and he was 100 pounds. To give you an idea, the same vet said that his full-grown weight should probably be pushing 200 pounds, and at 2 years he should have been over 150 AT LEAST. His whole spine stood out through his fur, and his hips were like giant shoulders sticking out of his but. His fur was poor and bedraggled, and he was just a pathetic sight.

And yet, when I met him, he gave me a big fat (and very wet) kiss. He's the most gentle of gentle giants, and he was ready to EAT. He hasn't stopped eating since I brought him home, as a matter of fact, and we've now got him up over 130. I don't know if I agree with the vet's estimation that he should be 200, but we'll definitely get him up over 160 and maybe to 180 anyway. He's got wonderful Saint markings, complete with a dark "mask". He's got black fur mixed in with the brown on his face and ears, and The Wife has nicknamed him the "s'more dog". This goes along with Willy, which is nothing if not an "oreo dog".

Chewy also has very poor muscle tone, and though that's gradually improving, I have a feeling he's never going to be the strong, sturdy animal he should have been able to be.

But the thing is, he loves me already, and he's my buddy. My monsterdog. All is good in the world when you have a monsterdog to sit at your feet and share your snack while you're watching TV together, you know? He will now be the thing that, along with The Wife, holds me together as we face fostering and other life challenges for the next 7 or 8 years.

Kids and Animals

Still no foster kids, still no adoption news (although reader Mary did point me to a new avenue to chase--thanks!) but I feel like writing about SOMETHING I think I'll enthrall and delight you with my thoughts on kids and animals.

As a kid, I was fascinated with animals. I'm not sure what it was, their attitude, their love or just the fact that they're so different from us and yet in some ways exactly the same. I just know I loved them, and dogs in particular are my favorite. I resolved long ago that if I ever had kids in my house it was my constitutional duty to provide them with animal companions.

Some people don't want their kids to be around animals too much, or at all. They're afraid their kids will get bitten, or catch some kind of disease, or they just think animals are filthy and bad for hygiene. All of those things could happen, and certainly dogs are disgusting at times. I know for a fact that I have kissed a dog on the lips that has eaten his own excrement. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, I guess, and the devil take the hindmost (pun unintended, heh).

But kids in general, and foster kids in particular, get an inordinate amount of good stuff from animals. Imagine you're a foster kid. Imagine you've been physically or sexually abused. You've never known a safe haven in your life. Never known people you could trust or a part of your life that was SAFE. Now you land in a house you don't know with people that, while they seem nice, are unfamiliar and it's going to take some time before you're comfortable with them. You have no real expectations of ever being able to trust them either, come to that.

Now here comes a dog. He's a big, goofy Saint Bernard. You don't think dogs really smile, but you'd swear that was a big, goofy grin on his snout, and he always, without fail, is overjoyed when you walk in the door. He practically dances while you take your coat off, and almost dies of pleasure, rolling over and soaking it in when you start to pet his tummy. He's bigger than you, and more gentle than a feather. He then proceeds to sit next to your feet while you eat supper, hoping for a scrap and gazing on you with lovestruck doe eyes when you give him a piece of bread. He follows you around, hoping for some attention. You are the center of his world.

And that's what it comes down to, I guess. You're an abused kid. You're used to nasty adults basically being the center of everything, and now suddenly--for at least one creature--you are the center of everything.

That's therapy. It's pure goodness, even if the dog did just do something that makes you not ever want to touch a dog again. And make no mistake...they do many things like that. But they're worth it.

Chewy is therapy for me right now as I go through foster-withdrawal symptoms. It's a wonderful thing to have a monsterdog by your feet. Yes. Yes, it is. Good boy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shifting Attention

The lag in fostering lately has given me unwelcome time to focus on our adoption process. Unwelcome because, well, nothing is happening there either. Like clockwork, every month they notify us that they need an ungodly sum of money for more profiles. About $150 for 10 profiles, and each profile is a few pages of printed paper, nothing fancy. I smell a scam, plus we have no evidence that they're even handing these things to anybody that's interested.

Anyway, I've put all that in God's hands. If we're supposed to be parents, He'll see to it. If not, well, I guess He'll see to that too, and who am I to argue with a decision the Almighty has made for my life?

I guess the things that have me the most aggravated are the tangential things.

Now, I KNOW it's not my fault. I KNOW I'm as much of a man as the shiftless teenage bastard who sweet-talks his girlfriend into the back seat and then disappears when he gets her pregnant. I KNOW those things. At least intellectually. But I think until you've walked in this particular pair of shoes, it's probably hard to imagine just how much they HURT YOUR DAMNED FEET.

I can't help but feel inferior somehow. A lot of my ex-wife's frustration with our marriage was based on the fact that she wanted a baby, and she wanted it to be hers. The Wife at least knew what she was getting into from the start and she continues to be absolutely great about it...but it still hurts to see her wanting a baby so badly and not being able to give it to her. It hurts to think how relieved some of my ex-girlfriends would be with the news that they escaped a relationship with a guy who couldn't have given them the children their husbands have given them with no problem.

It basically is just something that most people seem to take for granted, and some people honestly do seem to view a guy who can't have kids as inferior. Now, most of the time that doesn't bug me. I'm usually able to see that kind of weak thinking for what it is. But with all the spare time I've had lately, I've had too much time to think about things like this. Too much time to consider the shabby treatment I've seen people give their own kids without any awareness of what a gift from God those kids are.