I recently visited the desert southwest and it snowed. Snow is an unusual occurrence in the desert but it happens. I live in the country in the Pacific Northwest and have lived here more than half my life. However, I spent nearly the same amount of time growing up in the desert southwest. Home then was a small house in a densely packed neighborhood.
The day it snowed, the temperature was at freezing, and snow fell and briefly stuck. During the storm I visited with an old friend. The conversation eventually turned to our dogs. She told me the story of her first rescue dog, which she got from her neighbor. The neighbor she told me would get dogs and then get rid of them on a rapid cycle. She was offered one of the dogs that she reluctantly took. That dog turned out to be one of the loves of her life. She could not imagine why anyone would not want such a sweet dog. As I listened to her I realized her story was common for this town. At my old home I could hear dogs constantly barking. These dogs are kept outside and rarely receive human contact. We both wondered why people have dogs if they do not interact with them and enjoy the love they have to give.
Typical to a desert storm, the sun came out late in the afternoon and the snow melted. The evening promised to be frigid since the cloud cover was gone. As I lay in bed that night, I noticed the temperature dipped into the 20’s. I could hear the neighbor’s dogs barking, begging to be let in when their owner came out and got into their car. The cry was ignored. To be fair I have no idea if the dogs had shelter or if it was adequate shelter. However, the desert southwest is known for unbearable summer temperatures. Many of the dogs there are short-haired dogs that cope better with the heat than the cold. These were not the only dogs I heard barking that night. I hope they all fared well and made it through the night.
Before you pick up a cute pup at the shelter or from a breeder, ask yourself a couple of questions. Why do you want a dog? Do you plan to interact with the dog late into their life? If you can’t say yes with resolve, don’t get a dog. If you must keep your pets outside, keep them safe and comfortable. That means providing them with adequate shelter for the current situation. If you can’t bear to bring them in your house, put them in your garage and provide them a warm place to sleep.
With all that being said, a good romp in the snow is fun for both you and your dog. Have fun and be safe.
This week I learned something new. The Humane Society sent me a text asking for an emergency donation. They were on the ground rescuing 60 Dogo de Argentinos from a Hog-Dog fighting operation. I had no idea what they were talking about. What is a hog dog? I know what a Dogo is but what is a hog dog? I had to go to the provided link to find out more. What I found shocked and horrified me. The following is their explanation. “Dogs are bred and trained to tear apart screaming, trapped, terrified hogs while spectators — who place bets on the outcome — cheer.” The dogs they found were emaciated and hunkering together in plastic barrels for shelter.
This is one of the first images taken on scene.
This is not the face of a happy, healthy being. This is not the face of an animal filled with anticipation, waiting to be fought. The animal that should have been fought was the one allowing these gentle giants to starve, the one enjoying an evil blood sport.
I discuss this with my fellow dog lovers. We don’t know what it is we can do to end this cycle of violence. I donate, I spread the word and I take action when I can. I also pray.
My favorite Patron Saint is St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was regarded because of his ability to connect with animals and create pacts of peace with them. Every day I pray to St. Francis to watch over my animals while I am gone. The thought of harm coming to my dogs or from my dogs is extremely unsettling to me. I do not want to live in a society that condones cruelty against any species. I implore you to do whatever you can to help eradicate the evil that walks amongst us.
Despite my planning, each year usually has a life changing surprise in store. Last year had two major unpredictable events that temporarily threw me off track. I am sure this year will have at least one surprise in store for me as well. Even though we cannot plan for these events, the rest of our lives can be planned, goals can be set and steps can be taken to move forward in our lives. Each year I strive to do better in the major areas of my life. This year is no exception. What I feel has been missing is balance. Life pulls us into a state of imbalance when we least expect it. For me, most of my imbalance comes from a need to be perfect.
The number one priority in my life is my dogs. I must confess I hate leaving my dogs. I try to make it seamless and leave handing out treats so as not to create separation anxiety. But I still wonder if they are bored out of their minds, wondering if when and if I will be back. I do have many other interests and hobbies but my dogs will always be at the top of the list.
For years my priority was work. I became proficient in that and now I am at the point where I am planning for my next career. Work has a tendency to demand more of my time pulling me away from my goals and plans I had set.
What I will have to let go of to create balance in my life is perfectionism. I may not get that workout in but I will play with my dogs when I get home. There may be a few too many weeds in the garden this year but I will play more with my dogs. Together we will explore all the things I love about the Pacific Northwest. I want to write more and continue to develop my skills in that area but that means the house many not always be as clean as I would like it. Paying off debt and establishing a secure future is another goal but that means I may have to work more. I want to be more social but that means I will have to get out more and leave my dogs behind.
Give and take will be a dance I will have to master. Balance is what I will seek. Perfection is what I will leave behind. Somewhere, somehow I will fulfill my goals and reach my destination. The road does not have to be perfectly paved but as long as it can be travelled, I will keep marching on.
I hope these tips help you to meet your fitness goals this year. I know I am inspired. As always, before starting any fitness program, check with your vet, er, doctor.