April 17

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalpyse

I went shooting for the first time ever a few weeks ago. I had never fired a gun before so I was all kinds of nervous about it. Like when I was learning to drive. I expected there to be some sort of cartoony magnetic attraction from “weapon in hand” to “bad shit happening”. (I still expect my car to be magically drawn to the cars parked along the side of a crowded road.)

Ishotit (2)

 

 

I didn’t do too bad! And I didn’t shoot anyone one or make a fool of myself at the range.

Like all good hunters I brought my trophy back to hang on the wall too.

Ishotit (1)

 

I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to turn into an expensive hobby.

March 28

Snippet Saturday

From a short story I’m working on.

Independent Artists

By Michele Lee

 

Panels One and Two (split scene): Our hero leans against a brick wall in a shadowy alley, watching three men climb into luxury sedan.

Panel Three (left vertical): Our hero pushes off the wall, revealing a hand holding a big motherfucking knife.

Panel Four (mid-page focus, 3/4ths widescreen): Car headlights as the vehicle drives down the street.

Panel Five: Our hero steps into the road with the car oncoming.

Panel Six (right corner): Black with dialog bubble. ″What the f—?!″

 

* * *

 

They say you get used to pain, and maybe some kinds you do. I don’t think anyone can get used to a Benz fender colliding with the top of your femur at 45 mph. I roll off the hood, my hip taking most of that impact and snapping. My shoulder snaps when I hit the windshield. I roll over the car as the tires squeal to a stop. Hitting the pavement takes out my right ankle. It feels like some asshole peppered the joint with shattered glass, but I stand on it anyway.

It’s just a body after all.

The driver is already out. It makes him easy to reach.

My knife slides into flesh and up, up, hot, tart blood spilling out over my hands and wetting my T shirt. I add a slash to his throat, not sure how effective it is, but I can feel that I’ve hit something important. Then it’s on to round two, rolling over the hood and stabbing out.

Sloppy. I’m sloppy. I’m familiar with the intent to do violence, but unfamiliar with laws of distance and gravity. But his head is the only thing not behind the door, so I stab stab stab and hope to strike gold.

He falls to the ground, gurgling. Or maybe it’s the other one gurgling because Number Two doesn’t move. Not even when I slam the passenger side door and step forward, twisting a bit on his hand.

Number Three has recovered some. Enough to pull a gun and fire desperately at me. Bam. Bam. Bam. The noise echoes off the dead buildings around us as the bullets piece my stomach, chip off a piece off a rib and then goes wild into the night. There’s enough light that I can see this one’s throat, swallowing fear and my blade.

He falls to the ground. I sit on the pavement next to him, ruined ankle tucked under me, and watch him fish-gasp as his blood runs out into the gutter. He can’t understand what’s just happened. I know the feeling. I have moments when I don’t understand how I got here either.

I’m nice enough to wait until he’s good and dead before I cut into his flesh and start to eat.

March 8

In Defense of Dog Breeders

I’m a part of the rescue community here in Louisville. That’s a really loaded statement. There’s a lot of issues I have with some of the people and ideas I run into. One example is the rescue world’s view of dog breeders. Some people blatantly say silly things like “I wish all dog breeding would be banned” or “We should punish breeders.”

Well, we have a dog at the clinic right now who wandered or was dumped onto a client’s property who is probably 20 pounds or more underweight and who we had to do abdominal surgery on to remove a blockage because he was so desperate for calories he ate everything (in this case it was sticks, what looks like a wash cloth and a corn cob). I know very well the damage stupid, irresponsible selfish breeders who are just looking for money can be. And I know they make up a whole heck of a lot of the breeders out there.

But I also know about a friend and coworker who breeds poodles and cares very much about who they go to (mostly she keeps them and shows them). And her sister who shows and “breeds” french bulldogs, but has yet to ever have a litter since even though she’s paid heftily for good quality dogs, they’ve come down with issues she doesn’t want to pass on, so she sterilizes them and ends up with pets. And a former coworker who has bred and shown Staffordshire Terriers and Rotties and always had a waiting list before she even bred her females, of people she approved, after doing background checks.

I was also told about a friend of a friend who bought a cocker spaniel from a breeder and about a year after received a call from the breeder because one of her dogs had been found in an area shelter. (The breeder always microchipped her puppies and always pledged to take them back should they need a home.) The breeder asked them to pull the dog, funded vet care and neutering, but the family fell for dog #2 and opted to keep him too.

There are good people breeding dogs out there. People who love dogs madly and want to see them as a species healthier and every bit as important to our species. People who understand that “dogs” is sometimes more than just “this dog”. I know it gets hard to see sometimes, but it’s important that we remind ourselves because rescue is just one aspect of animal care.

Second is the idea that every time you buy a dog you kill a shelter dog. This is utterly untrue, for many reasons.

First, many areas are exploring some for of no-kill. Louisville’s city shelter isn’t no-kill, but it also does not have a set amount of time before a dog is euthanized. Adoption is a priority.

Second, some people know what they want and that is not likely to be a rescue dog. People do still use their dogs for all the reasons we used to. There are still hunting dogs and herd dogs, farm protection and police dogs. Many of the service dogs you see are purebred just because solid genetic knowledge about the health and temperament of the parents leads to some really good guesses about the future health and ability of the pups, which makes job training tons easier. It takes years and lots of money to train seeing eye dogs and the like. You really want to know that that dog isn’t going to come down with dysplasia in three years or anything.

Some people also just love the reliability of “their” breed. For ascetic reasons or sentimental. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Third, not everyone is prepared for the unknown and potential issues of a rehomed dog. Most shelter dogs are amazing, wonderful critters who make great companions. No dog is perfect. Every dog, like every person, has their habits and some people are not prepared to translate “is this a quirk or is it dangerous”. Or they might be looking for a jogging partner and adopt a slightly-disappointing couch potato instead. Dogs in shelters often have bad habits from lack of training, lack of “normal” socialization with people or just the fear and anxiety of the shelter life itself. Dogs are not always the same at home as they are in the shelter, and some people don’t do well with personality surprises.

(Other people, like me, like the challenges and excitement of new dogs, new personalities and new things to try out and learn.)

Finally, what does guilting the shit out of someone who wants to provide a loving, safe home to any dog accomplish? The key is education, not bitchiness, which I know is hard (I break sometimes too). But we’re trying to help here, not spread a culture of bitchiness and miseducation.

 

March 5

Emergency Bags and me

I hesitate to call myself a prepper. I mean, I’m not one of those people storing up for a zombie apocalypse. (Honestly while it’s fun to explore in fiction I believe it’s exceedingly unlike any End-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario will happen in our lifetimes.)

But several years ago we had a heck of a year with a windstorm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands in the area for as long as four weeks. (We were without power for a week and completely unprepared.) The February after we had an ice storm that slammed us with 3 inches of ice. It was genuinely spooky walking around the house that night checking for damage before letting the dogs out, hearing nothing but echoing silence and the occasional crack and smash of ice sliding off a roof or breaking a branch. Later that year in August we got six inches of rain in about 30 minutes leading to a ton of flooding.

I started trying to “prep” after the first incident (primarily trying to keep a little extra food, toilet paper and such on hand and also making sure we owned a grill so we could cook food if it happened again.) but after the third I started trying to do more. It’s not easy to do, especially on a limited income. But I have kids and pets and I know much better now than to take phones, power and nice supportive neighbors for granted.

Last night Louisville got a bit of a snow storm. I grew up at least partially in South Bend and am smart to lake-effect style snow storms. A lot of people around here are. A lot aren’t. And some just get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is one of the highways, I 65 during this storm.

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Louisville saw almost 12 inches of snow fall overnight. Other places saw over twenty inches. Most of those places are outlying towns and neighborhoods, places with either few winter supplies because it doesn’t make much fiscal sense to buy and keep up a fleet, or places “between” the cities who do snow removal. It’s real easy to fall through the cracks.

A friend of mine was caught in this, coming north from Bowling Green. Her stories at the complete lack of aide drivers were offering, to the point of blocking each other in out pure selfish attempt to get a few inches closer to home, are…disappointing. But not surprising, because having been out in it for the first few hours the number of people taking insane, stupid risks, especially on slick roads, had me screaming at drivers all around me. People are stupid, and that’s a vast understatement.

My friend was able to help others with water and food and warmth. But she talked about people running out of gas, people travelling with no food or water and no way to get any, fifty miles from anywhere.

So take this as a reason to work on an emergency bag for your car. I’m taking it as a reason to improve mine. Some things to include:

Blankets

A change of clothes (one per person, which also is useful in case of car sickness)

Fix a Flat

Jumper cables

a first aid kit

24 hours of food per person who regularly used the car

Flash light

A gallon of water per person

Hand sanitizer

a roll of toilet paper

disposable plastic bags (used shopping bags work well)

a hygiene kit with mouthwash, a wash cloth, feminine hygiene pads and baby wipes

 

And consider including:

a backup power bank for cell phones

an emergency dog leash (if you have pets)

a multi purpose utility tool, like a Leatherman

rain ponchos

An emergency or camping shovel

a method of starting fire

 

Feel free to add you recommendations in the comments.

Also you can read more about the rescues here and here.

 

March 3

PETA sucks (and isn’t.)

It isn’t for the ethical treatment of animals, because how in the hell this ethical??

It seems PETA is going to be punished for taking and killing Maya, a little girl’s pet chihuahua. The putative “animal rights” organization – which hauled in $50,000,000 in donations last year – will be forced to pay a $500 fine.

From the HuffPo.

PETA has a history of this kind of behavior, grandstanding and trying to prove that pets are better off free from people…by being the people that put them in danger. They have an insanely high euthanasia rate at their “shelters”.

The Humane Society of the United States is almost as bad, with that whole being not allied with any actual shelters or humane societies and giving about 1% of their funding to such places.

So where’s a pet lover to donate?

Think local, looking into your local shelter, rescues, and humane societies. If there is a free or low cost clinic or spay/neuter program in your area donate there.

Here in Louisville I’ve personally interacted with and liked a lot of the programs run by Saving Sunny (a pitt bull rescue that is also currently running a special project to help low income neighborhood with everything from dog food and leashes to spaying, neutering and training.) Woodstock Animal Foundation (which adopts out through the Westport Rd. Petsmart) and South West Ohio Doberman Rescue (I have never seen these people give up on dogs!)

And while I have complaints about Petsmart (erm, they really could donate returned or damaged food instead of destroying it) their Charities program is excellent and helps out not just with homeless pets, but in bringing pets to classrooms and sending aide to people and pets who have faced natural disasters.

Even your local zoo can put used or new pet supplies to good use, and a new model catching on is thrift shops who donate their proceeds to shelters and rescues, so it doesn’t even have to be pet care items you donate.

If you’re more looking to support exotics the first step is to ask an exotics vet in your area who they recommend. There’s also places like Tiger Haven, P.A.W.S. and Black Pine Animal Sanctuary.

With more and more stories of PETA using your funds to burn down college research labs (I’m not for all research, but how is firebombing them helpful??), to steal and euthanize animals and…well this story speaks for itself. You’d better serve animals by burning the money than giving it to PETA.

 

February 10

Things Your Vet Clinic Wants You to Know

Please, Please, For the Love Of God Keep Your Pet on a Leash or in a Carrier Until We Tell You

While this post has been coming for a while chasing a dog around the clinic for five minutes yesterday because the owner came in and immediately took off his leash prompted me to do it now. Running around and trying to grab him when everyone else was in the exam room waiting was not fun.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of holding a cat who came without a carrier for over 15 minutes while her owner settled up the bill and got redressed in his outerwear to leave. She was sweet, but all of two minutes in the large, open lobby completely exposed to people coming in and out of the room randomly and strange sounds had her on edge and trying to get away to find cover. I smiled and waited politely as she left a series of scratches on my arms that are still healing.

Here’s the thing, it’s highly likely your pet, even if they are good and calm, is going to be uncomfortable in this “new” place with lots of people moving around and all kinds of unpredictable sights sounds and smells. Plus that front door opens a lot as other people come in and go out.

That leash is sometimes the ONLY way you have to control your pet in the clinic environment. And as for cats they almost always feel safer inside that carrier, both in the car and in the clinic. Which leads right into:

Just Because Your Pet is Friendly Doesn’t Mean Others Are

We have clients who have aggression issues. We have new clients who we know nothing at all about. We have sick and injured clients and when pets are in pain or feeling wrong they do sometimes act out or panic.

Personally my dog Astrid has fear aggression issues. If another dog approaches her calmly and friendly she’s perfectly find. But if they run up to her and immediately try a play jump she panics and her brain translates that as them being aggressive to her, not playful. I don’t know why she’s like that, but she is.

We try to get people into exam rooms or into the grooming area as quickly as possible so a bunch of pets aren’t all crammed into the waiting room at the same time. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

Besides, letting your dog jump at others is just rude (in doggy language).

Every Dog Needs Training

Even the good ones. Even the really good ones. We highly recommend some training, even if it’s just you reading a book or watching a video about it and trying it yourself. Dogs who get training are less likely to be rehomed, they’re more likely to be exposed to more environments which means they’re more likely to be calm in ours.

Furthermore it’s likely we’ll only ever see your pets when they are sick or injured. In that case being trained to let someone check their mouth, ears and handle their feet can make a huge difference, especially if we’re looking at a foot injury, and ear infection or an oral abscess. And these are not hard things to train your dog to do, just make it part of their daily routine to let your look at their teeth, hold their paws or look in their ears. Plus you’ll be able to see issues before they start limping or shaking their head or stop eating.

Then there’s kennel training, which I have heard some people say is cruel. Locking your dog in a kennel while you’re at work, or out of the house is not cruel. It is the safest thing for them. You know they won’t eat something bad, or tear things up, or get hurt. They’re safe. And if your dog knows that kennels are okay that it makes it easier for us when they come to us for boarding or hospitalization. It’s hard enough that they are without you, or have to be movement-restricted (because of an injury or IVs or what not) Being okay with being in a kennel is just one less thing to stress them out.

We Can’t Do it All Alone

We depend on you to give us clues to your pet’s health. Things like vomiting, diarrhea, not eating are things we don’t see, we need you to see them for us. We can do tests or make sense of the information your pet is giving us to make a diagnosis and treat.

Furthermore we need you to make sure your pet gets their medicine. There is only so much we can do if we send you home with a coarse of antibiotics and you don’t give them to your pet. And coming in once every 3-4 months when your dog’s ears are so infected they reek and they’re bleeding then complaining about we can’t fix it when we depend on you to keep treating at home isn’t going to get anything done. We depend on you to be your pet’s advocate, whether that be making sure they get daily meds, or weekly ears checks or simply making sure they get water and food.

There aren’t a lot of single dose fixes out there, sometimes we just need to keep up some level of constant maintenance.

Sometimes We Take Your Pet To the Back Because…

-Because they are better behaved without you around

-Because they are very vocal and likely to scream/hiss/yowl about the smallest thing, like us touching them, and we don’t want you to get anxious or think we’re hurting them

-Because sometimes we need to curse or joke or vent while also working with/on your pet and it gives us the privacy to do so

-Because sometimes pets fight no matter what and it allows us to restrain them in a way that keeps them and us safe, but also in a way which might panic you (like pinning them on their side, or having multiple people hold them)

-Because sometimes things get messy. Dogs and cats might pee out of fear, express their anal glands or poop. Sometimes when we draw blood a pet’s blood pressure might be up and they might bleed a little so we take them in the back so we can clean them up if this happens and you don’t have to see the messy parts of medical care.

-Because sometime we NEED to lock ourselves in and lock distractions out. Do I even need to express the importance of a dog being absolutely still if we are doing something like flushing a blocked tear duct or repairing/rechecking a corneal tear?

We Love Your Pets

We really do. When the time has come for euthanasia and you can’t bear to stay we make sure your pet always has loving hands stroking them and sweet talk in their ears. We look at our appointments and cringe when we hear something is going wrong. Even the bad ones, even the ones that never quite learn to potty outside, even the mean ones and the neurotic ones. We love them all and we want to see them and you happy (honestly, them more than you).

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