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Chester’s Greatest Hits: 2001-2013

Yesterday, we said goodbye to my best grumpy old friend.  Chester stopped eating his dog food on Thursday, and by Sunday night he wouldn’t even eat the peanut butter to take his liver medication.  He wouldn’t leave the water bowl unless I physically carried him or he had to go outside.  Over the past few years with all of his liver problems and busting his hip, i’ve never thought he was unhappy or suffering.  He had no fucks left to give for this world, so we took him in to be euthanized.

We got Chester from an adoption event in front of a Walmart in 2005.  Brian was deploying in the fall, and I wanted a dog to take care of so I wouldn’t spend three days in the same pjs, and cats don’t really inspire a person to get out of bed (quite the opposite).  The lady asked what kind of dog we were looking for and I said, “I don’t know…medium sized?  One I can walk that won’t walk me.”  We met one dog who was very cute but so hyper I couldn’t even get him to look at me.  So we moved onto a smiling white and brown mutt, and when I knelt down he wagged his nub and licked my face.  We walked him around for a little bit and he was happy but not psychotic, so we said we wanted him.  He came neutered (the previous owner ‘did it himself’) and was four years old, so he set us back a whopping $20.  Best $20 we’ve ever spent.

Chester got me through two deployments, many training sessions, Bonny’s death, Brian’s flight school, and a lot of depression.  Until he broke his hip, he slept with me every night.  When Brian was deployed, he would wedge himself into my back, which made me uncomfortable so i’d scoot an inch away, and then he’d scoot, and that is why I woke up most mornings on the opposite side of the bed from which I had started.  He was a great dog to hug, you could really hang onto him.  He didn’t like kids and sometimes adults (mostly if they came over and he was trying to figure them out and they would try to touch him too soon) so casual observers didn’t care much for him, but everyone close to him knew what was up.  My father-in-law said several times that Chester was the smartest dog he’s ever met.  Everyone said he had the most expressive face.

When he went in for a dental cleaning three years ago, we found out about his liver and thyroid, so he started taking medication.  We adjusted, Chester was still himself minus the teeth they pulled.  Dinnertime became more complicated with soaking food and pills, but we worked it out.  Eventually he lost the extra weight he had been carrying around and his doctor was pleased.  When he dislocated his hip, obviously he was in pain, but he still smiled when he wasn’t high as a kite.  He stopped sleeping with us except for short naps, but his bed was next to my head and I could dangle my arm down and touch his ears.  They weren’t nearly as big, but he had those soft beagle ears that I could rub for days.

Chester’s hip, even after surgery, meant that he fell down a lot.  He had to re-learn how to squat to poop.  People would see him fall over in the grass and get really concerned, but he would just smile and get up.  He meant to do that, guys.  He managed to sprain his good leg earlier this year which meant for a few days he couldn’t walk at all, so we had to carry him like a football outside and hold his food bowl so he could eat in his bed.  He could no longer go up the stairs alone, because even if he tried he was probably going to lose his grip and slide back down.  When we were looking for houses, one criteria was that Chester would not have to go down a flight of stairs to get outside.  Here, my computer is in the same room as the back door so he only went upstairs to go to sleep.

When we moved, shit started getting weird.  For the first time ever, Chester started peeing in the house.  Chester had always woken me up if he needs to pee, and he didn’t take ‘fuck off, i’m sleeping’ for an answer.  Giant lakes of pee in the living room.  At first I thought, “Oh, he must’ve been thirsty in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back upstairs and then we couldn’t hear him yip.” So we put an extra water dish in the hall bathroom upstairs.  That didn’t help, so we got his old dog pen out and put it around his bed in the corner.  That meant no arm dangling in the middle of the night, and I started to get bummed out.  Around this time, we took him in to the vet to check his levels, because I noticed he had lost a little weight.  We took him off of his thyroid medication and onto the gall bladder gunk blaster.  That was about two weeks ago.

On Sunday, Brian went to Chicago all day and I had nothing to do but observe my dog and come to the conclusion that he was over life.  I even tried annoying him to get a reaction, like putting a stuffed toy on his head or giving him a bath (he was pretty damn dirty).  He let the toy sit there and after his bath, didn’t even try to rub himself on the carpet.  I talked to my friend Katie about it, and she gave me lots of advice and support and I love her.  I tricked him into eating some of his dinner by sprinkling some of Brian’s shredded cheese on it, but he eventually threw that up and continued to puke up nothing but water or a drop of bile until his appointment yesterday.  When Brian came home, we were all huddled together on the living room floor, watching Buffy (except Harley, because she is an independent poof who likes to lay in the foyer).  Maybe it was my totally bloodshot eyes or the way I was spooning my dog in a tight grip, but he could tell something was wrong.  We talked about it, and agreed to call the vet in the morning.  I ‘slept’ on the living room floor all night with Chester and Fawkes.  Fawkes is a good brother.  They never got that super-bond thing that Chester and Bonny had, but Fawkes knew something was wrong and continued to hang out.

One thing I did on Sunday was look at pictures of Chester, and being reminded of how much fun he used to have and how much he used to jump and romp around, actually helped me realize that we were doing the right thing.  No matter how much my brain may try to tell me otherwise, I did not kill my dog.  He was already checked out.  We were just coming in to turn off the lights and make the bed.  Or some other metaphor.  To quote Whitney Houston out of context, it’s not right, but it’s okay.

So here we have some of Chester’s greatest moments.  I did take some pictures of him yesterday and there are plenty of other recent ones on instagram, but most of these are very old.  This first one is the day we brought him home (my friend Julie said he looked like Chester from Sifl and Oly, so he was named).  Other than that, they’re in no particular order.  Look at my dog and laugh.






posted: June 4, 2013
under: animals, family, pictures

Shock Tactic Activism

I am going to get straight to the point.

Don’t post pictures of dead and/or cut up animals on facebook in attempt to shock people into going vegan.

  1. This rarely works.  I’m not saying shocking images don’t work, but people can come to those on their own.  Or you can provide a link and if they click it and then want to throw up and die, that’s on them because you gave fair warning.  But posting a gory photo in your facebook feed is a) trolling and b) electronically shoving a photo right in someone’s face.  The most likely outcome of this tactic is that people are just going to unfriend you or hide you from their feed.
  2. Since the best part of the internet for vegans is that even if we don’t personally know a single vegan, we can connect online, I assume that quite a few of your friends are vegan.  Or if you run a page for oh say, your vegan book or website.  Most of your ‘fans’ are probably vegan.  So, you’re not going to make us more vegan and some of us are soft, delicate flowers.  I became a vegetarian at the age of thirteen because a stray cat killed a squirrel right in front of me*, and I could go into gory details of what I saw, but that would make me kind of a hypocrite.  Point being, creatures being abused and killed upset me.  It’s kind of why i’m vegan.  I made myself sit through Earthlings even though I was already vegan, I have done my self-flogging already.
  3. If it doesn’t bother you to see these things and you’re already vegan, good for you.  But don’t tell me that it’s okay to post these things because it ‘needs to be seen’ after i’ve paused in my gagging to tell you that it upset me AND i’m vegan so you don’t tell me to go vegan or imply that i’m not a good vegan because I don’t shove pictures of mutilated animals in the faces of everyone I know.

As shown by my last post, i’m very passionate about animal adoption.  I wouldn’t post a pile of euthanized dogs to illustrate to people that they shouldn’t buy from breeders, though.  A big problem with the shock tactic is that people are so shocked, the message you are trying to convey doesn’t even register.  A shocking photo means nothing if people can’t see past it to get to the message.  If people try to sell you some happy meat, free-range bullshit feel free to lay some facts on them.  Or if they ASK, provide them with some links to videos or photos about factory farms.  Or just post the photo as a link, preview removed, and warn people!  Some of them will click out of morbid curiosity even if they don’t want to see it, they may or may not go vegan.  You will definitely lose friends and followers, and the ‘crazy ass vegan’ stereotype will be reinforced.

If you disagree with me, you’ll probably be thrilled to know that I had nightmares about vivisected animals last night.

In happier, more positive news, did you see that Peter Dinklage is this year’s spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary’s Walk For Animals? Post this video on your facebook, it contains a few sad images of animals in cages, but nothing gory or graphic. And don’t forget to sign up or sponsor a friend!

*Actually, I became vegetarian because I told my mom what happened and how I wasn’t eating meat ever again like a dramatic teenager, and she said i’d never be able to do it. EIGHTEEN YEARS LATER…

Also I know that animals have to eat other animals to survive, it was still gross to see.

posted: June 13, 2012
under: animals, elsewhere on the internet

Five tons of animal photos.

I made a joke on facebook that if my fan page got up to 200 ‘likes’, I would post adorable animal pictures. This is a joke because I think like-gating is pretty dumb. Anyway, I did hit 200 a week or so ago, so here you go! Actually, someone unliked the page and I went down to 199, but eh.

Before I start with the picture dump, you might notice a familiar face has come back. Harley belonged to my father-in-law’s daughter and husband, along with two other dogs. Then they had some troubles and had to move, so they asked him to take Harley. After two years and all of us being really attached, they asked for her back and Frank didn’t want to tell them no. Then last month, Frank told us their marriage wasn’t working out, and that Harley was going to be given away. :(‘s all around. So we agreed to split the costs of Harley, and the last time Frank went out to visit them in Maine, he brought her back. Brian (not my Brian, her former dad) took her to the vet and got her all up-to-date on her shots, treated for fleas, tested for heartworm, and sent her with all of her records and six months worth of heartworm pills. So other than food, she won’t cost us anything until she needs more heartworm pills.

And…I guess that means I have three dogs now! Jeez-o-petes. I still haven’t wrapped my head around that. We are also dog sitting for my sister-in-law this weekend so there are seven dogs in this house right now (our max was eight, Christmas with dog families is fun). I won’t lie, it’s a full time job. So it’s probably a good thing that I only work part time and my father-in-law is retired, everyone gets along (well, except that Chester is hella jealous of Harley and doesn’t like it that there’s a dog bigger than him), and they’re not alone for more than two hours a day barring emergencies.

So here’s my photo dog cat madness, and underneath is a rant about idiots who don’t get their dogs fixed and the bigger idiots who buy puppies from them. Happy Mother’s Day, spay and neuter/don’t shop, adopt!

And here is where i’m going to rant. A very popular fashion/lifestyle blogger posted about her parents buying a puppy via a sign in front of a random house, and I left her a polite comment about how it made me sad to see her posting about it so casually, especially given how many people read her blog (not surprisingly, she did not approve my comment). I am passionate about several things, but most are personal passions. Like, I am passionate about veganism, but I recognize that being vegan means changing everything you eat, wear, use, etc. for most people. It isn’t difficult, but you definitely have to turn the way you were brought up on it’s ear.

I am really, really passionate about animal adoption. There is no fucking reason to spend hundreds and up to thousands of dollars on a god damned dog. A shelter dog vs. a breeder dog isn’t going to make a difference to you, but it makes a big difference to the homeless dogs. I hear:

“Oh, but we want a specific dog.”
That’s great. Go on Pet Finder and search for that breed, if you can’t find one in a local shelter, I can guarantee you that there is a breed-specific rescue.

“Dogs from breeders need homes too!”
Breeders are selling a ‘product’, and like all people in a business, if their product isn’t selling, they’ll stop making them. Will they dump unpurchased puppies at the pound? They might, but if you think they’ll do something like that, why would you want to give that person your money anyway? I tend to not give my money to businesses if I think they’re run by shitty people.

OR: “These people were selling puppies on the side of the road for $50 and they looked soooo sad.”
Same thing. Don’t reward people for being irresponsible. Do you think they’re going to take that money and get their dog fixed? No, you’ll probably see them back on the road with another litter next year.

“The ad in the paper said free puppies, why would I pay $100+ to adopt a dog when I can get one for FREE?!”
Spoiler alert: dogs aren’t free. ‘free puppies’ means, “I was too lazy to get my dogs fixed and then they humped/got humped and now I need to dump all of these puppies.” Those puppies will need shots, and if you are anything close to responsible, to be fixed themselves. The initial shots and the surgery will cost way more for you to do with your vet than it costs to adopt a dog from your local shelter. My local APL often has ‘deals’ where dogs and cats over a year old are a special price. I can get a cat that’s been completely vetted and fixed for $20 right now.

“Shelter dogs were dumped for a reason. I don’t want a dog with problems/I want a new puppy.”

Yeah, they were dumped for a reason: either their owner legitimately couldn’t care for them anymore, or their owner is a dick who dumped them. Neither of those things means that there is something wrong with the dog. Dogs are like people, some of them are assholes. Some of them are more difficult to deal with than others. Sometimes it’s the way they were raised, sometimes it’s their personality. If you want a dog with specific traits, going to a shelter is actually BETTER because you can talk to foster parents about the dogs, or the staff can usually tell you a lot about the dogs if they’ve been there long enough to get settled. When I agreed to take Bonny when she was a baby, I got lucky that she wasn’t a stereotypical yorkie and a pretty awesome dog. I don’t think i’d ever want a puppy again.

I also don’t understand why it seems to be accepted that we get cats from shelters and no one really breeds cats (unless they’re fancy kinds), but the same people who adopt a cat from a shelter and talk about homeless kitties think it’s a-okay to buy a dog from a breeder, which creates more homeless animals. I love cats, I love dogs, and I wish there weren’t so many of them around.

posted: May 13, 2012
under: animals, pictures

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