Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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GAME OVER

I think I’m officially done. Except I don’t really know what that means. At first, I thought of just crying, “UNCLE!” but that doesn’t seem to cut it. So the phrase that comes to mind is simply, “GAME OVER.”

For the last decade, I have lived my life like I always have. I put people and their feelings first. I suffer discomfort for the sake of others or in order to accomplish some higher goal. I have invested a lot of myself into my neighborhood. I started the block party several years ago and make an effort to have phone numbers and invite people over regularly. Good to have a great relationship with your neighbors, right?

When Frankie was in infant, my neighbor had a St. Bernard. Huge breed, but also an extremely gentle breed. Usually. However, this one decided he didn’t like us. My neighbor asked me for sleepers that Frankie had slept in. She wanted her dog to get used to Frankie’s scent. That way the dog would be less likely to eat my baby for a snack. As a new mom, I can tell you I thought that was pretty screwed up, but I gave her the pajamas and prayed nothing would happen.

Eventually that dog died and then there more. You are only supposed to have two dogs per property, but my neighbor had four at one point. Did I turn them in? Of course not. I wanted a good relationship with them. One time, one of the dogs bit our handy man. Did I turn them in? No, of course not. Then we decided we had to put a fence up. We asked their opinion about the style because we wanted them to be happy with it too. We were sensitive to the fact that they would have to look at it too. The Home Depot people thought I was nuts. But hey, we want a good relationship with our neighbors, right?

The fence went up but I still couldn’t do my yard work without that dog sticking his vicious jaws through the slats as he was trying to attack me. I finally risked the relationship and asked the family to do something. They added chicken wire over the fence so the dog could no longer have access to my hands. It still scared the crap out of me because it clearly had only one mission and that was to hurt us, but hey, the relationship with my neighbors was more important, right?

Then my daughter got married. We had the rehearsal dinner in our backyard. The same dog bit the maid of honor because she was talking and had rested her hand on the top of the fence. Did I turn them in? Of course not. Who is really the idiot here? Me. I’m the one at the fault. Fascinating that when I called to let my neighbor know what happened, she started yelling at me. She said she had put the wire up and there was no way she was putting the dog down. I calmly (of course) told her she needed to take a deep breath. Her dog bit. I never asked her to put the dog down, nor was I yelling at her. I just thought she should know the dog had bitten again.

Then they got a German Shepherd. Didn’t take long for that dog to just eat right thru the fence. Then they had to put up another chain link fence. Then the dog started to attempt to jump over the fence and was in danger of doing so. They had to add yet another layer of fence. Now that dog is even muzzled. But hey, as long as I don’t hurt their feelings, I can put up with anything, right?

They have had five dogs since I’ve lived here. Three of them have been vicious. No one can believe what I put up with when they come over. It’s impossible to describe if you don’t see it yourself. It’s not just like an annoying dog barking. They lunge at the fence and growl and bark and make you shake. And I just look at people at say, “But we like our neighbors and I want to keep it that way.” When you leave your dogs outside 24 hours a day, when you don’t walk them or socialize them, they become like wild animals. Savage.

Monday was November 2 and it would have been Tim’s 54th birthday. I texted with a couple of the kids in the morning and I thought it seemed like it might be a bearable day. That is, until about 10 AM when Colin came bursting in the house screaming my name over and over.

Same dog that has bitten twice on my property, same dog that I found out has bitten the neighbor on the other side three times, brutally murdered our beloved cat Matilda.

Matilda

Matilda

She was barely a year old and she was beautiful. She was an extremely gentle kitty. And she made the hideous mistake of walking home near those dogs. Poor Colin. He heard the screams. He ran over to their yard, trying desperately to get his kitty from the mouth of the dog. When my neighbor finally heard it, he came out and got the dog to drop her. That was when Colin came in the house screaming. We rushed her to the hospital. They tried CPR, but it was too late. Did you know that when intestines are punctured there is a putrid smell? We couldn’t bear it.

All I can say is, our household has been suffering the last week. The closest way to describe it is like suffering from PTSD. The kids have decided the only way those people could possibly understand what we are feeling, is for them to be forced to watch their precious dog be eaten before their eyes. They need to hear the screams. They need to smell the aftermath. And then every day afterward, they need to hear and see the killer whenever they dare to walk outside their home.

Because that is what it is like for us here. There is no peace. There is no escaping it. Those three dogs are outside and they still bark and still lunge at us.

I don’t give one flying fuck that our cat was in their yard. I don’t care that our cat was an indoor/outdoor cat. THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS. IT WAS NOT OUR FAULT. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.

Even the dog warden said that being territorial is what is normal. Killing is not. Dogs know the difference between a wild squirrel or rabbit. They DO NOT KILL DOMESTICATED ANIMALS.

I will tolerate nothing less than that dog being gone. Terminated or moved off the property. Even as I’m writing this, my dog Taffy is pacing around the house and barking because those dogs are outside going nuts at our fence.

Game over. I’m not the bigger person. There are no cheeks left to turn. THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS, THIS IS NOT HOW DOGS ACT, and THESE ARE NOT DOG LOVERS. Bullshit.

No more neighborhood parties. No more bigger picture. My kids are going through hell. I am going through hell. This is MY fault for not turning them in dozens of times. I will never make the same mistake again. This is not just, “Oh that poor family, they’ve gone through so much.” We didn’t just lose yet another pet. She was brutally murdered. We are victims of a violent crime. And the stupid system protects them, not the victims.

We can’t use pepper spray because if it injures the dogs, we are liable. Yet their dogs can KILL our pet, and nothing is done. In what world does that make sense? Oh yeah, in America.

Game over. I am officially going reclusive. I can’t invest anymore. I can’t try anymore. I can’t risk anymore. I will just keep to myself and be like most people. They won’t get involved or stand up for us because no one wants to ruffle feathers. And hey, Matilda wandered in their yard so that makes it all ok.

BULLSHIT. Vicious dogs don’t belong in friendly neighborhoods. When a toddler or child gets their arm or head chewed off, then everyone on this street should be held responsible for allowing this dog to be here.

As my kids say- and I have to agree with them- anyone that makes these kinds of statements:
“Dogs will be dogs”
“Cats are too curious”
“I’m sure they feel bad”
“Just let it go”
“Cats shouldn’t be outdoors”
“Oh, this is a shame”

My kids say all of these people that don’t get it, need to watch something special to them die. This was not unfortunate circumstances. This was negligence, wrong priorities, insensitivity. Completely unnecessary. And my kids and I have had enough.

GAME OVER.


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And Whiskers on Kittens…

For those of you that have followed my blogs for a while, you know that last year right before Christmas, we lost another cat. It was the fourth one, with three of them being just since Tim was diagnosed. We decided as much as we love kitties, our hearts couldn’t afford to be broken anymore.

This year I was having a more difficult time than usual knowing what to get Frankie for Christmas. All he wanted was gift cards. That’s fine, but I didn’t have any gifts for him to open under the tree. I started thinking about how a new kitten might make life a little brighter in our house. We have been a bit “dead” the last few months. Plus, I have been struggling with my distant relationship with Frankie and having a kitten downstairs would probably draw him out more. Maybe getting a kitten rather than a cat might make a difference as far as health and longevity. I would still rescue one from a shelter, but maybe get a young one…

Then I would talk myself out of it. I know Frankie would love it, but who am I kidding? I will be the one to clean the litter, feed her, take her to the vet, etc. I can barely keep up with laundry so why add more work?

But I went to the shelter anyway the day before Christmas Eve. Funny how things work out. There was no one in there with us but the volunteers. Turns out I had met her before when selling my first book. She remembered me. A gray kitten caught my eye. But then the one underneath kept batting at us. We got them both out to play.

I asked her how people ever decide. I wanted to take all of them home with me. Then she made the death statement. “I will give you two for one today.”

Damn.

I could barely talk myself into one. No way I can take two of them. People tell me that cats do better in pairs. They keep each other company and all that jazz. Then I even had the morbid thought that if one of them died, at least the other one would be there. Turns out, Frankie made that exact statement to me later. But the truth of the matter is, it didn’t really have anything to do with that. I just couldn’t bear to leave them in their cages. Besides, who am I to argue with a bargain?

While I was filling out the paperwork, about 15 people literally started filing in to look at cats and kittens. I guess it was meant to be. If they had been in there earlier, it probably would not have even crossed my mind to adopt two. But there wasn’t another family in sight while I was deciding.

Christmas Eve after church, we were driving home and I told Frankie he was getting a gift early and it was going to be a surprise. Not knowing was killing him. He pounded me with questions but I led him down the wrong path and let him guess in the wrong direction. I had Colin videotape his reaction when we walked into the living room with the babies.

Now, for you conservative and reasonable parents, you may think this next part was awful. But I got it and it cracked me up. Frankie was stunned. Then he slowly said, “H..O..L..Y S..H..I..T!” He was delighted. And thrilled.

IMG_1149

Meet Matilda (on left) and Herbie (on right). Not my choice of names, but Frankie is the boss on this one.

We had a big windstorm during the night. Taffy (our dog) freaked out all night. Between him and the kittens, no one but my dad got a wink of sleep so we were exhausted Christmas morning. If I wanted to change the dynamic of the house, I was most certainly successful. But they are precious!

As I’m blogging, I am in the hospital with Matthew and his wife. My daughter-in-law is in labor with their first baby. No action yet, but I will be sure to keep you posted. The winds of change are blowing…