Monday, 3 September 2012

Friday, 4 May 2012

new family

So this funny thing happened wherein I adopted Meo into my family instead of sending him off to another! Best decision I have ever made, folks.
I knew I was falling in love with him while we were fostering but it was when there came some interest in him by potential adopters, and the prospect of losing him and not having his gentle, joyful presence around that spun me into fast decision making.
My heart knew what it wanted, but I still had to convince my brain, my bank account, my partner, cats. Once I started talking to other dog owners in my life and researching the feasibility of owning a dog while living with a disability and limited income the decision became clearer and clearer. Some people say that there is never a "good time" to have a baby, that there is always a reason why you should wait. But if you just go for it because it is something/one that you want in this world, your life molds and shifts to fit around it.

He makes me so happy, he gets along with the cats, my friends, other dogs. I feel like I can give him a good life full of love and respect and care. So I did it!

That was about six weeks ago and I haven't regretted a minute of it. Living with Meo has brightened even the darkest days and I have grown into a better guardian both for him and my cats.
Without bragging, I gotta say that this guy loves me as much as I love him. He follows me where ever I go in the house, just jauntily trotting behind me and settling in to be by my side in whatever room I land in. I have fallen in love with the sound of the "click-click-click-click" his duck feet make as he shadows my movements or runs to greet my partner at the door. My cats, more one than the other, have accepted him into the house. Neither of them are scared of him anymore and there have been more than one moment when the lot of us all squish into the double bed for a snooze and a cuddle. (those are my favourites)

As I write this he is sleeping not two feet away, his sweet and Seussical little body curled into a C. I watch him breath and my heart slows down and a smile comes to my face. I am desperately in love.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

About the Title...

So you might be asking yourself about the title of this blog. I would. What's the connection you may ask?
Here's the deal:

Well, I am a black woman. Black queer poet to be precise and I have loved animals since I met my best friend’s cat at around 5yrs old. I am the child of Jamaican immigrants and grew up in a staid mostly white suburb of Toronto. Growing up in an environment where those around me all had a mom, dad, at least 2 kids and a cat or dog I felt like an eyesore with my single dad, only child, petless status. I started asking for a pet around kindergarten and even now, some 25 years later I am still trying to convince my father to get a dog in his retirement. 

My mother, father and family on his side all were born and raised in Jamaica in various shades of rural countryside. My family, then and now, does not believe in pets. 

"Animals IN the house? Oh no no no, not while I'm alive" what I hear.
"But Dad didn't you say you had all sorts of pets when you were a kid?"
"Yes, we had dogs, cats, goats, chickens, you name it."
"So what? You think any of those things came through the door? Uh uh. They didn't even have names, just Dog, Cat." (This turned out to be not entirely true as I learned that the dogs had in fact been named)

Once members of my family began immigrating to Canada, their desires for a "better life" for themselves and their children began in earnest. Pets were a distraction from success. The adults had to work on their careers, houses, gardens etc and the children were expected to work hard so that we would get good grades and go to university and become, well, successful; particularly in a practical profession, i.e. not a writer/artist. 
Essentially, an animal in the house was something white people with leisure did. Not us.

So throughout my childhood every request for a cat (my animal of choice at the time) was met with a firm negative. In the end I left home having owned and loved 2 goldfish, Amanda, and Henry. 

When I was about 19 I got a cat, Pika. She had been a gift to my retired and home alone aunt out of the kindness of her daughter's heart. But those back home opinions hadn't changed. So one evening I get a phone call:

"Hey, want to hear something?"
"Ohhh K"
"Want her?"

I did.

Pika and I have been together ever since and are a dynamic duo. I love her immensely and my life became fuller when I was finally able to, on my own, love a little furry beast. Over the years I came to welcome another cat, Sydney into my family and my life filled up all over again.

Early in the days of working at my bookstore job I got to meet my coworker's dog George. George is the first dog who became a regular part of my life. She "worked" at the store often and I soon became to house-sit for my coworker.; first for her 5 (now 4) cats, which was amazing because they each have such outrageous personalities Soon George got left in my care as well and I fell in love! I began to imagine myself with a dog companion and have never recovered.

I have never been wealthy and one of my biggest apprehensions about getting a dog was the financial aspect of pet ownership. But as I get older I am more confident in my ability to be responsible and do what I have to do to make sure my beasts have happy and comfortable lives.

Back to the title…

I have known many dogs in my life, all of them have been owned by white friends. Which is fine in and of itself obviously but it got me to thinking. Where was the POC (person of colour) representation in the pet world?! I had this strange feeling of self-consciousness about being the only one I would know with a dog. Why you may ask? All I can say is that the rhetoric that pets are wasteful and for white people was cycling around my head. I felt like I would be judged by other Black people for buying into a white lifestyle. I have a white partner and already get a fair amount of random and unwelcome attention and commentary about that. I never would have thought that having a (visible) pet would be linked to class and race but here we are. Having a dog often comes with a certain social class. Having a dog immediately makes me more visible, and in particular, noticed. Dogs invite attention and conversation. And with that comes the risk for offence, the worry of properly representing myself. There are so many stereotypes, assumptions and judgments that come with being a Black woman.

So the title came from my desire to proclaim my blackness to myself and any readers and to acknowledge that, even if I am the only Black woman I see with a big old mutt beside her that is just fine. And if I can invite some conversation and input on the topic, even better!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

And now: Méo!

Feb 02 2012

There was a lull; some heartbreak; some crossed wires.  But now let me introduce my newest foster friend: Méo. (
He is a 7yr old Corgi mix that was surrendered after his owner passed away. He hails from (possibly rural) Quebec and is slowly learning English, quite the quick study! I have had to learn some French doggie commands to be able to communicate with this guy. It is pretty cool actually to see him look at me blankly when I speak in English and then respond immediately when I speak in French. He hasn't eaten a ton yet and the cats have a lot of negative things to say to him right now, but I am hopeful of us all figuring it out...

Update Feb 28!

What a darling! Meo has completely settled in and the cats have calmed down...sort of, and one them has taken a very keen interest in getting to know him. He won't introduce himself face to face yet but I think they are finding some kindred spirits with each other. They are basically twins, just not the same species.

Sydney vs Meo

both ginger and white
both, when awake, need to be in the same room with me
both love to have their belly rubbed for as long as possible
both sleep without modesty, sprawled on their backs
they sneeze a lot
they're kinda clumsy
they'd like all of my attention please

It has been a treat to watch them stake each other out, sneaking a little bit closer when the other one is sleeping. Looking forward to seeing this develop!

As expected...I got all attached again! I am a bit more rational about my love this time but it is a struggle not to want to keep him around too. I will love to love him until he finds his forever home. So if you are looking for someone to take home...


Monday, 14 November 2011

No More Dixie, introducing Daisy

I have got to say this puppy fostering game is quite emotional and up and down. I heard from Dixie's rescue folks this weekend that she was being moved to another shelter closer by. Her foster needs were pressing because the shelter she was in couldn't hold her much longer and was slated to be euthanized. I'm sorry not to meet her but am glad that she is on her way to finding a good home.
I'm beginning to think that there is a psychic-satellite-network wherein somehow one rescue knows when another has fallen through. Yesterday I heard from Homeward Bound Rescue about a senior English Bulldog named Daisy that is arriving in Toronto at some point this week and is needing a foster family. I love Bulldogs. It is a similar love I have for Hounds and St. Bernards.
Now that the fever of Dixie has cooled down I have to admit I am a teeny bit relieved, having learned more about hounds. I think we could have gotten along but she is a pretty giant beast and that might have been more difficult than I wanted to believe.
Alright, off to work but more to come!
Next up: what does being a black girl have to do with getting a dog? stay tuned...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Then Came Dixie

No sooner had I recovered from the departure of Adam, when later in the day I got a phone call from Ontario Bloodhound Rescue. The thing with me and the internet is, I don't spend a heck of a lot of time here but when I do, I do all sorts of things that I can't remember that later show up as commitments I've made - or packages I've bought. I had no recollection of applying to foster with this agency so was surprised when I picked up a phone and heard that they had a dog that needed a home. Her name is Dixie and she is somewhere between 6-8 years old (a senior in Bloodhound years) and was picked up as a stray. The woman I spoke to explained that she thought Dixie was a good match for me because she was older and had a lot less of the high energy spunk that BH puppies have.
She is described as a non-dominant, friendly, and gentle old lady who would be a perfect match for me in terms of mobility and training etc.

Understandably I am a little weary of committing to another friend so soon after what was a harrowing first foster experience. Also, in keeping with the title, she is a BIG dog weighing in at around 80lbs.
That was Saturday and she is still on my mind a few days later. My partner is not keen on the idea of taking in someone else right now because of fairly practical reasons. Money and energy; cats; upcoming holidays; uncertain job future (for me). All good reasons to think this over, politely decline the offer and revisit it in the new year.

But, well I don't like to wait.

So much of my life is relentlessly planned and thought over. I look at all of the angles and consider different outcomes if something should change. I do a lot of justifying in these planning stages. For example, I recently bought a pair of pink, leather, lady-shoes that tie with a silky ribbon. They were Fluevogs, which, if you don't know what they are just imagine weirdly beautiful expensive shoes.
My reasoning? I was going to a wedding and was wearing a pink dress and that, as a queer femme it would be wrong for me not to own a really girly pair of shoes.

So although all the logic says to stop myself and get my shit together before I do this - I feel  firmly tugged in the other direction. I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the earlier post but in addition to the aforementioned anxiety I also live with a chronic pain condition and dysthymic depression. What this means is that I am a little bit sad, a little bit sore, and a little bit tired most of the time with frequent flares of my symptoms.
With winter coming up, I am beginning to get fearful of the drastic change in my mood that comes with darker days and cold temperatures. Last year was the worst winter I've had in terms of depression. Even now I feel like I lost December through March.

The difference I feel in my mind and body when I get to interact with animals is pretty drastic. I take a lot of comfort in the relationships I have with the animals in my life, in particular my darling felines Pika and Sydney. My interest in dogs isn't a slap to my cats at all, they just feel different. If I could have my perfect life I would be surrounded with loved ones both human and animal.
The way dogs react to their people is so comforting, grounding, and honest, at least for me.
So, yes perhaps I shouldn't throw myself into a dog relationship right now. But the thing is, so many of my micro-managed plans end up bursting and setting me back a couple of steps. I become so attached to the idea of perfection that when it goes wrong, it completely derails me. I have lost my trust in my own instincts. But right now, my instincts are telling me to trust them and dive into something that may have challenges but will also be so good.

Dive in and figure it out.

That is what my friend Sarah advised when I asked for her dog life tips. She has one of the coolest companions. LoganDog is a 7yr old Golden Retriever with a wicked sense of fashion and more love than one body can hold. They met when he was just a puppy and have been best friends ever since. It was conversations with Sarah that got me thinking about going for something I want and figuring it out after.

Nothing is in stone yet, but I will keep you updated.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

First Came Adam

Today marks the end of a two week journey into canine companionship. I have had my heart set on fostering and one day adopting a rescue dog. I had put the thought out of my head for all sorts of logical reasons, but my heart kept pulling and here we are.

His name is Adam; he is a three year old Griffon/Poodle mix. Maybe. Being a stray it was kind of difficult to confirm breed specificity.

I got him from a rescue group called Tail From Greece, an organization that rescues stray dogs and cats from Greece and provides them with rehabilitation and then eventually provides them with foster or forever homes in Toronto.

I had heard of this group from time to time and was pretty interested in what they did. I visited a friend in Greece a couple of years ago and basically wanted to fill my backpack with every stray I cam across - and there were a lot.

I'll spare the month-long back and forth it took to eventually arrange for Adam to come to Toronto, but he got here safe and sound and as cute as his pictures. Being a person living with a disability and having many similar people in my life I felt particularly attracted to the Tails dogs because so many of them were bottom of the barrel in terms of adoption. This was mostly due to the fact that many of them had been quite violently injured at one point or the other and needed some extra care. Adam had had a run in with a gun a couple of years ago which left him mostly paralyzed in his back end. To help him get around he had a little dog wheelchair...that I am pretty sure he had a crush on because every now and then he would go over and lick it for a few minutes.

Dog with a disability wasn't a problem for me in considering to foster dogs. I asked a lot of questions about what he was like, capable of, needed help with and then sided those things up against my own abilities and struggles to see if my body could handle the extra responsibility I was giving it. Based on what I learned, it was a perfect fit and I waited semi-patiently for him to arrive.

He did, and he was DAMN cute (pictures to follow) and we got along from the jump. When I went to pick him up at the vet and get him ready to go he was so caught up in the excitement that he had an accident. No big, it was a total change of environment and he had been on a plane for a long time. I bundled him up and carried him home to meet my cats Sydney and Pika.

Sitting in the back of the car with him wrapped up in a towel should he get excited again, I began to dream of how our life would be together. We would get along super well, I knew he liked people so I knew he would get to meet my friends.  I imagined, a couple pf years down the road, working as a team of therapy clown and dog. Or something like that. We got home, everything with the cats was awkward and tense but then everyone fell asleep and it felt so good! All three pets competing for air space with their measured snoring.

By the end of the second day though, I began to have some questions about information I had been given. Long story short - I had been lead to believe that I would be fostering a small, happy dog who was socialized around people and other dogs, didn't mine cats, was housebroken and neutered.

So many of those facts were just not true. About half way through the first week, we (my partner and I) had worked our mop to death from following him around and cleaning up the puddles of pee which he would promptly walk through and trail along where ever he went. At this point we weren't sure if was just still nervous, or not house trained or incontinent. These are answers that are hard to come to on your own.
Things started breaking down from there and the endless email correspondence with the rescue organizer began. I emailed her asking if she could remind me if was incontinent or not as I had been told that he had control over that part of his system.
By the end of week one this is what I had learned:
- he was definitely not housebroken and his incontinence was unconfirmed
- he was not cool with cats - there was a lot of chasing and growling and hissing - very stressful.
- he was not neutered (this one is funny because the moment I saw him I asked, so, he's neutered right? as I stared at his uncomfortably noticeable testicles and constant boner. Oh yes, oh yes the ladies in Greece assured me. Ooook dog lady, I thought the balls went out with the bathwater but what do I know.

He peed and pooed indiscriminately and without much recognition across his face of what he was doing. We of course had to keep a constant eye on him just to catch where he might be headed so we didn't step in a present later on. This, and some other more physical elements of caring for this cutie were proving pretty difficult for me as I have a disease that causes major pain and fatigue. I have known and walked/lived with dogs on a number of occasions so this decision wasn't made without consideration. It just turned out to be that the little guy I had been promised that I felt I could take care of turned out to be so much more than I could handle in this body of mine.

doggie diapers everything got a little easier in terms of keeping the place clean. Except for the poops, those were hard to predict and hard to stop once he was in motion.

Despite having a pretty rough and uncaring part of his life Adam was just the sweetest guy and we got along so well. Spending lots of times just cuddling him or him trying to groom me or just resting his head on any part of me he could reach.

Sadly though, it turned out that our competing disabilities were not best suited and I had to call it in and confess that I would not be bale to provide all of the things Adam would need in the next little while to become adoptable. This included a few vet trips for neutering etc as
well as fitting him for a new wheel chair.

In the end he ended up going to a very loving foster home with someone who has many dogs and years of dog experience and is much more capable to take him for his physio and all of the things to get him going.

He left this morning. My body was relieved but I was so sad to see him go.

As expected the experience has left me with many thoughts and feelings around fostering/adopting rescue animals, or children for that matter.
I struggle with debilitating anxiety and that became part of the problem of taking Adam for walks. I like my neighbourhood but it has a heck of a lot of violence within its boundaries. Factor in being a trauma survivor, black, queer, and not too tough looking means that I mostly like to be out in the day, or with friends, or even on my bike because I can get away. The threat of serious violence being perpetrated against me is a very real instinctual trigger. All that to say that sometimes it was difficult to get myself outside to walk with him at night as all of my sensors were flashing DANGER! DANGER! ACTS OF OPPRESSION AHEAD! And for the first time I had the thought that, had Adam been a larger more fierce looking dog (disabled or not) I might not be so scared out there on my own. Then I began to think about how the dog relationship that I have been imagining was that of mutual respect, care, and protection. So I sat there watching him sleep and dream and unpleasantly imagined how much more secure I would feel if I could go for a night time walk with a dog that has my back as much as I have theirs.

I have wanted a dog for ages and so am always grateful when I get to house sit for my friends with dogs. I was pretty set on a Saint Bernard for a while. Bulldogs, mastiffs, boxers...I love love LOVE those drooly hang down faces. Practical considerations brought that to a stop, and so now I am taking some time to go over what being a dog's person could look like if I imagine myself as I am, and not as a super woman able to triumph at every experience.

So that's this blog...I want to learn about dog life, about my life, about family and care relationships. But also, I want a dog in my life stat.
Until that happens keep reading and lookout for updates on potential puppies.