Mental Illness Bites

Today, right now, every moment. I am beginning anew.

Archive for the category “Family”

Going, Going Gone

Last week my husband and I decided to get serious about helping Tulo get adopted. So, I sassed up his bio, gave him a good scrubbing Friday night, and set out Saturday morning to spend the whole day at the adoption clinic.
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Well, I don’t know if it was the really good bath or being there to chat with anyone who even glanced in his direction, but three different families put in applications to adopt Tulo. The first was a sweet little family of three looking for a companion for their one year old son, but they live in an apartment, so I wasn’t too thrilled about that match.

Then, a man, let’s call him Beck, came all in a rush asking about him because his ‘roommate’ had seen Tulo from the road and just fallen in love with him. They live in a great big house, with a great big back yard, doggie doors, the works, but they have a 90 lb black lab mix and if I haven’t mentioned it before, Tulo doesn’t like big dogs.  So, I wasn’t thrilled about that match. Beck filled out an application and was so eager, he wanted to do the home visit and meet and greet as soon as possible. (A meet and greet is when a potential adoptee is introduced to an already established family dog.) So, I got the powers that be together. Lanya, who runs the PACA adoption clinics every Saturday, hooked me up with Jean, who knows a lot about dogs and frequently does meet and greets with new dogs and we scheduled a home visit and meet and greet for that afternoon.

Next up was this couple right on the edge of retiring came to look at him and thought he was just the sweetest thing (which he is). They thought it was endearing that he is timid and were just looking for a companion dog to go on walks with and keep them company when they were rumbling around their house. This sounded perfect.

But of course, they weren’t sure because they’re getting ready to do some renovations on the house, and she hasn’t retired just yet and what if he gets lonely because he would be an only dog? Well, I coaxed them into filling out an application just in case and hoped that they would soon call and say they’d decided to take him. Off they went.

Three o’clock rolled around, so Jean and I set off to Beck’s house. Turns out, he lives in a gorgeous neighborhood just this side of the river. Quiet closed in neighborhood, long, winding driveway, four car garage, five bedroom house, adobe enclosed backyard, etc. This is the doggie jack pot.

Jean and I spent the next hour and a half slowly introducing Tulo to the black lab, Ollie, the two and half year old, the five year old, the giant house, the backyard, the adults, the neighborhood, etc. Of course, he wanted to follow me wherever I went, but my primary goal was simply to make sure that Tulo and Ollie were going to get along okay. It was also important to me that the adults Beck and the woman, let’s call her Sally, understood that Tulo needs a crate, and really, when I say he’ll only eat hot dogs has treats, I mean it. Give him hot dogs; he will be your best friend.

Even as I prepared to leave Tulo behind, I was still nervous about the situation. And Sally started to cry. She didn’t want Tulo to be sad, afraid, or upset once I left. She wanted to know what she could do to help him.

And that’s when I stopped worrying. Right then I knew that he would be loved and this woman would do everything in her power to make sure he had a good life. And if it didn’t work out, she wouldn’t hesitate to call me and let me know.

Jean and I took a sneaky escape out the side yard so Tulo wouldn’t see me leave and I made it to the main road before I burst into tears. I gave away my dog, which is exactly how I felt until 11am this morning, when I got a phone call from Jean. She had called Sally to tell her a few more things that she had forgotten to mention on Saturday and during the call had gotten information on how Tulo is doing. He is following Sally everywhere, stuck to her like glue, sleeping in the same dog bed with all 90 lbs of Ollie and loving his two walks a day. I cried again.

I am so happy for him. Before he came to stay with us, he was an un-groomed, frantic, panicky mess. Without his time here, it’s possible he never would have been adopted. Now he has the skills he needs to manage the world as part of a pack and truly enjoy the rest of his life.

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My patchy eskimo has found a wonderful home. He’ll be missed.
To learn more about adopting rescue animals and fostering, like we did for Tulo, visit the NM PACA Website.
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My Pack

Yesterday I had dog on the brain. I was absolutely incapable of accomplishing anything else. My brain was foggy, scattered, and every time I tried to get it in order I was attacked by dog. Here’s why:
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Meet Sanka, our newly adopted three month old puppy. They told us at The Animal Humane Society that he is a Dachshund Chihuahua mix, but really I don’t believe them at all. I haven’t actually measured his legs, but I swear they’re at least a foot long. No way he has any Dachshund in him. So we’re thinking maybe there’s some Italian Greyhound in there, but really we have no idea. He weighs about 8 lbs now, and I imagine as/if he gets bigger we’ll have a better idea of his breed(s). Really though, it doesn’t matter.

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Because when you’re this cute, it doesn’t matter what kind of dog he is or how big he gets. (Especially since, at the very least we know he won’t be much bigger than 30 lbs. And that much, we can handle.)

Our other dogs weren’t too sure about this little one at first. (And yes, I said dogs, plural.)
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As you can see, Tulo is still living with us and he doesn’t look too happy about our new visitor. We are currently fostering Tulo, working on his ‘living in a house’ skills and general training. As you can see, he has begun to make himself quite at home. (If anyone is interested in this little guy, please let me know! He’s completely house broken, loose leash trained, comes when he’s called, and loves to play with other dogs.) Mostly, he loves to snuggle, which leads me to this:
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The perfect place for my two newbies while I’m working. You can just see Koda’s nose out of the picture on the bottom right. For a while, I couldn’t even get Koda to sit still long enough to get a photo of her. She is stinkin’ cute, but she HATES having her photograph taken. No, really. Also, I think she’s protesting the presence of another lap dog in HER lap, but she warmed up eventually. If you can call wrestling “warming up”.
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 This is the closest they’ll get if my lap isn’t part of the equation. But, we’ve only had Sanka for two days, so I think this is wonderful.

Sorry again for not posting yesterday, but as you can see I quite have my hands full. There were a few moments yesterday when I suddenly felt like a mother outnumbered by her children. You know, you’re coasting along with two (assuming there are two parents in the household) and you think you’ve got it handled, so you say ‘hey, this is fun, let’s have another’ only to figure out too late that having a third totally throws off the ratio? Yeah, it’s kind of like that, or at least the closest I can come to imagining that since I have no children of my own. 

Puppy Preschool starts in two weeks. I wonder if we’ll all make it that long!

Unholy Ghost

A couple of weeks ago, my counselor gave me an assignment. He asked me to describe my sadness, in writing. For those of you who have experience with depression, you know that at times when you are out of the depression, it can be hard to remember exactly what it felt like or to put it in words. I believe he was looking for some quantification of my depression, in order to better understand how it is for me; because truly, it is different for everyone.
As I sat down to complete this assignment, I was reminded of the hours I spent in my youth compiling endless lists of quotes on depression from other writers. There is a book called  Unholy Ghost: writers on depression that I have read and re-read since I was a teenager. In the beginning, every time I read it, I would highlight passages in a different color and there is a key inside the front cover matching the color with the number of readings. After a while though, I ran out of colors and it is anyone’s guess when the passages were highlighted.
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My goal, though, in marking various passages was to find one, finally, that might make what I was feeling clear to my family, that might bring some awareness and clarity. I did not trust my own words to be adequate; I did not think that my family would believe the depths of the pain I felt if it came from my own pen. I would re-type passage after passage, creating a catalog of others’ pain. But I never could gather the courage to actually hand it to anyone in my family. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had never been asked to describe the sadness. I had long since given up hope of ever being asked.

So I put this to you: Ask someone. If there is someone in your life you know struggles with mental illness, ask them what it’s like and be ready for the answer. Because it’s not pretty or romantic; it’s not melancholy or artistic. And no matter what you know about them, no matter how simple, easy, or uncomplicated their life may seem, do not judge them. Simply listen. And maybe, just maybe, if the person is ready, describing it might help just a little. Or perhaps, if he or she isn’t ready, they will know that if they ever do want to talk about it, you’ll be there ready to listen.


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A 7-year old caucasian boy shows how he sees himself and family in very dark colors. He suffers from anxious depression, a disorder with which his mother also suffers. From the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics Click on the picture for a link to the article.

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