Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Alan has the featured story this month at One Story. An excerpt of this wonderful story, "The Child Assassin," is up on the website. I read about the magazine when it first debuted a year ago and meant to subscribe to it. It's only available by subscription, so I guess we'll all have to do it now.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Okay, I've decided there've been enough downer posts. I'm looking to start some serious writing as well as some serious landscaping this weekend and that requires good music. I'm looking for suggestions. What have you been listening to that's floating your boat? I'm looking to expand my musical horiozns. Lately, all of my new music has been gifts from Alan. I've been buying books instead of CDs.
It's after 1 a.m. and I'm still wide awake. I have a million things running aorund in my head at once. I'm sure some of it is about the dog and some of it is other things. I came into work this morning and learned one of our current shelter guests shot and killed another former shelter guest yesterday afternoon during a fight. It it was a fight over a woman, who has also stayed with us, and domestic violence. One of the staff called it a love triangle, which sounds so trite. A couple people had serious concerns over safety in the building since he was still at large but most of us weren't as concerned. A police car was positioned right outside the shelter during the time when they opened the shelter last night. I missed it all because of the vet appointment, but the police car would have been enough to allow me to continue like normal. It was extremely unlikely that he'd come back for his belongings anyways. One of the discussions I had today got me thinking. I was trying to explain why I thought some of the concerns were over-reactions and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I've been there nine years. Fights happen in the shelter occassionally, but they are between shelter guests and very rare. The few I witnessed were broken up by other guys as soon as I approached whoever was fighting yelling at them to stop. Everyone knows the penalty for violence or weapons in the shelter is a long time out, usually two years or more. It seems to work as well as our policy of treating everyone with respect and expecting the same in return. People tend to live up to those expectations. Those that fail are usually under the influence of some chemical or unable to because of mental illness. The only time I've ever felt unsafe was several years ago when I was working the door. When I opened it to let someone in, I noticed a couple arguing on the sidewalk a few yards from the door. The next time I opened the door, he was hitting her, so I called out and said we were calling the police and that she should come into the shelter. He must of let her come into the building, because the next thing I remember is standing in the doorway, blocking him from entering. He was over six feet tall and under the influence of crack. He pushed one of our volunteers when he got between the two of us, in some misguided attempt to protect me. I gave way to him at one point when he came in looking for his girlfriend as someone else arrived at the door. I didn't stop talking to him, though, and was able to talk him back outside again. He sat outside the door crying and I stayed talking to him while we waited for the police. I don't think he ever considered hurting me. Another time, we had a drive by shooting happen right in front of the shelter just as we were opening. A car with two young men had stalled across the street and another car drove by and shot both men. The driver of the second car looked at all of the people lined up outside the shelter as the shooting happened. I guess what I was thinking is that my experience has been that most of the threat to our safety has come from outside the building. It used to be a much tougher neighborhood. It's really quiet now and seems to have changed for the better, but it's still much more likely that any danger would be from someone getting into the building that doesn't belong there. It's a big old maze of a building and there's so many places to hide. The way I see it, what happened yesterday should certainly make people be a little more careful when they let people in, but we should always be careful. If we're at risk for this guy who just shot someone sneaking into the building, we're at risk from anyone sneaking in. It probably didn't help my case at all when I said that we've had lots of people staying with us who've killed other people. To be honest, I don't know if "lots" is correct. We have had lots of people with felonies but nowadays it seems like a miracle if someone who is homelessness has made it through drug addiction and poverty without a felony. Of course, the inequities of our criminal justice system and drug laws are a whole 'nother subject.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Okay, we are facing cancer. Poor Burt (the dog) does have a tumor in his bladder. It seems to be in a good place (as far as that goes) for a bladder tumor. The ultrasound guy was amazed that Burt is 14 years old. After checking all the assorted other organs in that region and finding them the proper size and shape, he looked at me and said, "If he were my dog, even at 14 years old, I'd do the surgery. He's in excellent shape otherwise." Our vet just looked kind of uncomfortable because she knows how expensive having surgery at the University of MInnesota can be. The ultrasound doctor went on to tell us that with surgery and chemo, which isn't hard on dogs at all, he could live a long time. He knew a shepherd mix that lived until 20 when they finally had to put him to sleep because of arthritis in his spine. Except for that, he was in great shape, too. So, that left me with going home to discuss whether to proceed with Alan. The next step would be a chest x-ray and then setting something up with the University. I'd told myself that if they found tumor, that would be it. Now, the decision doesn't seem so clear cut again. I decided to have them do the x-ray, it was only another $30, and if there's cancer in other places, the decision will be easy. Poor thing. We've been so hard on him when he hasn't made it to the front door, mostly out of frustration, and here he has a one inch by two inch thing growing inside him and blocking the way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I decided to post despite the fact that I'm a little hazy (and maybe slaphappy, too) from working late and my allergy medication. I've been feeling guilty because it seems like having people linking to your blog obligates you to post on a regular basis. Well, I haven't died. I've just been down with first a little post Wiscon cold (the ones who spread their love around know who they are) and then a sinus infection.

Probably more energy consuming than the colds has been our leaky dog, Burt. Burt is an old dog. The vet guessed that he was about three or four when I adopted him from the Minneapolis Animal Control Shelter where I was a volunteer. I've had him over eleven years now, and for a big dog, about 110 pounds, he's a very old man. He's been showing some small symptoms of problems since last fall when one of his liver enzymes was elevated. Because I've lost a couple of 10 and 12 year old dogs to cancer, every time we've brought him into the vet, I've been waiting to hear them say he has it. Alan and I think that part of the reason he's lived so long is we switched him to natural dog food around five years ago. (Gotta look out for butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). If you want to read something really disturbing, look at this .) Since fall, he's been tested for everything from Crohn's to thyroid disease and they haven't found anything. A couple weeks before Wiscon, he started having occasional accidents, especially when he was excited (like when he greeted poor Susan at the door and splashed her feet.) Medication seemed to have it under control but it got really bad the morning we were leaving for Madison. By then it was too late to make other arrangements. Our pet sitter (4 Paws in St. Paul) is a saint and we came home to find that she'd propped up our living room area rug trying to let it dry. The rug is now hanging over our deck and it's not coming back into the house. Does carpet make good mulch? I called the vet to go over the options again and really the only option left was to have an ultrasound or try the very expensive University of Minnesota. We tried the medication again to buy us some time while we decided what to do and it didn't do any good. We also tried diapers and ended up water proofing as much of the house as we could. I finally rigged up a customized doggy diaper that has limited our clean up a bit. All of this would be moot if he wasn't so healthy in every other way. He had a limp from fall to winter after we did an overly ambitious hike in one of the state parks. All of a sudden the limp and stiffness are gone. He isn't running into walls blind. He's always been a little neurotic (he is a rottweiler/shepherd/mutt mix after all) but he really hasn't gotten any worse over the years. So our choices are expensive or putting him to sleep. I know a lot of people would do it at this point, the accidents being enough of a reason. Believe me, if they'd said tumor or cancer, he might already be gone now, but they haven't. So, tomorrow we go in for an ultrasound. God knows what we're going to do if it doesn't find anything. It could still be something curable and that's what we're hoping for. He's had an x-ray so we know it isn't anything large, yet. Oh well, I guess that I feel like after he's been with me through a couple hard break-ups and two houses and an apartment (for a long time he was my only roommate), I'm not ready to let go. The cats and Alan aren't either. For a neutered male, he has been a very good dog to our three cats, and he has helped me wean and socialize six different feral kittens over the years. I just don't want to turn into one of those ladies that keeps a dog alive so much longer than she should out of sentimentality. Usually they have poodles, though, don't they?