Super-heroines Make Unrepentent Ex Girlfriends

About three weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with my ex.

In the midst of relating the story of a recent puppy rescue, he interrupted and declared, “Stop rescuing puppies and trying to fill holes. This is why we didn’t make it in the first place. You spend too much time on your animals and not enough time on your relationship and your boyfriend.”

I stopped for a beat, took a deep breath, and recalled the actual reasons we didn’t make it–an insidious network of lies that I am only now beginning to unravel, plus the many side affects of his alcohol/drug abuse including a desperate need to pursue sexual liaisons with multiple partners.

Not being one to take the bait, (among other things he’s a bully and loves to stomp you into submission via futile argument) I finished my story about the puppy.

When we hung up, I sat for couple minutes and thought about what he said…then I smiled to myself, grabbed my phone, and messaged the rescue organization to tell them how certain I was that I’m that puppy’s new mom.


I can write with 100% certainty that every moment I’ve spent on rescue, ie., healing and loving an animal, has been worth it and I am good with that. Yeah, this is America–he is entitled to his opinion about that but I’m also entitled to my happiness.

Right now it just so happens that means waking up to one cat sitting on my pillow purring into my ear as the other sits on my chest purring into my heart, a foster puppy’s head gently resting on my shin while she sleepily gnaws on her doggie bone, and Singer’s cold wet snout burrowed into my armpit snoring loudly.

Someday (soon I have a feeling), there will be another human body symphonically snoring next to me, and (I also have the feeling) he will have no problem with my super-hero side job of being an Animal Rescuer.

I have absolutely no problem holding out for him either. : )


the gratitude chronicle d.18.2013

today I will be thankful

The Gratitude Chronicle D.2.2013

Aslan on the bed

Aslan once lived in one of those “homes” on the other side of Cheesman Park that suspiciously resemble a mansion. He wandered way out of his territory one day and got lost. The concerned person who picked him up tried numerous times to contact his family with no response. After several unsuccessful attempts of my own, I took him off his rescuer’s hands.

Within a short amount of time Azi fell in love with the Big Dog Mateo and informed me in no uncertain terms he was staying. In addition to his fondness for hugging and extensive conversational skills, he loved the Big Dog with all his heart and the adoration was reciprocated.

When Mateo died, Azi struggled for awhile. I bought him a toy stuffed German Shepherd to sleep with, but he adamantly ignored it. He cried for awhile, clung to me whenever I was home, then finally settled on snuggling with a wireless router. Yes, it was odd to come home and walk in on the sight of a bereaved cat hugging a piece of internet equipment, but who was I to judge?

He has now abandoned the router in favor of his stuffed animal and the occasional snuggle session with a Golden Retriever named Max. At night when he wakes me up trying to wriggle his way into an alarmingly tight hug, I don’t mind so much, because I am incredibly grateful to be one of his chosen ones.

Getting Stronger, Pt 2…

azi hugs my arm

Aslan has always been a hugger. Now that his first choice (Mateo) is no longer with us, he is learning to make due with who is available–Me.

Now, I don’t know if y’all realize this or not, but I am not a sedentary person. In fact, it’s hard for me to sit at ALL, much less stay still for more than a couple minutes at a time. But a bereaved (and almost 15 lb.) cat hugging on your arm will encourage you to, and right quick.

What does this have to do with getting stronger?

Well, for one thing, you’ve got to take loss a few moments at a time if you’re going to recover. You’ve also got to let your loved ones handle theirs the way that works for them, whether they’re animal or human. By doing that, you give a gift to them and yourself.

Since my life is about to blow up into 8 weeks of physical therapy, a possible wrist surgery, and scrambling to overcome the setback of crappy weather on my training business, I’m glad for these moments of grace with my purrr monster.

Besides which, some Zen Masters believe that purring unblocks chakras and promotes healing.

Well, as far as I’m concerned, it makes perfect sense.

Mateo Domenic Gillespie

my smiling boy

Mateo Domenic was nothing short of extraordinary.

Although he’d lost both of his eyes to glaucoma and already been given up by one family, he hadn’t lost an ounce of his fearlessness (or charm) by the time he met his new “First Mom” Ann Terry.

I still count myself incredibly lucky to have been brought into the mix at all, given how many folks were already in complete and utter love with this smiling German Shepherd Dog.

The day I went to pick him up from a local dog boarder, they had me wait for him in a gymnasium sized playroom. I was near tears, I couldn’t believe I finally got to bring him home!

But he was amazing from the get go, because although he couldn’t “see” in the traditional sense, as soon as that door opened he came straight for me. Literally. Not a single step of hesitation. He knew exactly where I was.

It took me less than a week to teach him the commands “Step Up” and “Step Down” in order to manage the curbs on our neighborhood walks.

He immediately knew what it meant to “Wait” and “Back Up”, and if you walked him around the perimeter of a yard or house, he’d have it mapped out by the end of the first run through.


Mateo knew where his leash was, so if I was taking too long getting him out for a walk, he’d go get it and toss it in front of my feet to remind me there was business that needed taking care of.

And–even though the Big Dog HATED it when I worked out– he was a HUGE fan of Bagpipes and Pow Wow drums. Go figure.


His new sister Singer became his fiercest protector, but there was no question about who ran the show.

Once, a neighbor notorious for being a real pain in the a** showed up unannounced with their cranky dog. When I opened the door the dang thing bowled me over and got its teeth into Singer. As I panicked and tried to pull myself back up, a flash of gold pushed past me and Mateo had pulled that dog off of her before I could even finish the yell just rising in my chest.

After I ripped that neighbor a good one and pushed them back out the front door, I hugged my boy so hard.  Up until then, I’d had No idea he was capable of something like that. He may have been blind? But he was one serious Bad Ass too.

mateo and azi

Matty also loved his cat. He’d had one in his previous life, so it wasn’t a surprise when Aslan the former street cat showed up on the scene and the two became inseparable.

Azi and Matty playing

Many, many times upon arriving home from work, I’d the find the two of them cuddled up and Azi holding his Big Dog in a tight hug. Unfortunately I was never able to document it with a picture, because as soon as he saw the phone in my hand, Azi the cat would come running for his close up. *sigh*

Katiebug and Matty at VCA

Now everybody knows, I’m a real people person, but Mateo? I had nothin’ on that. He loved having lots of folks and dogs around. When it comes to his favorites, well, he  was especially partial to his First Mom Ann, Aunties Maria, Emily, Anne, and his babysitter Katie.

in car coming home from moms

He absolutely adored his Grandma Karla and Uncle Mikey. When Mikey left for the Peace Corp, Mateo whined about it for months every time we walked past Mikey’s old place. When I’d tell him he was “goin’ to see Grandma”, he made dang sure he was the first dog in the car.

Mateo wants to see SVZ

If I talked with Steven Van Zandt on the phone, he’d wait expectantly at the door, assuming that WE were going to go see him.

For some reason, in the short time he’d gotten to know SVZ, Mateo had appointed himself Guardian Angel #2. So, whenever we were over at the house and our regularly scheduled rules regarding bedtime weren’t being observed, he’d either try to follow him and herd StevieV back to bed where he belonged, or get me up to do it.

If we were watching t.v., Matty would spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find the most ideal, absolutely closest vantage point to him that he could. Finally, he’d rest for a bit and it would appear that he’d finally located the spot, but after a few seconds he’d decide it wasn’t good enough and start looking again.

the furry barricade

Visits to his Auntie Anne and Em’s house were punctuated by Mateo barricading himself in front of the door, so I couldn’t leave without taking him too.

As demonstrated all too well by this video, on several occasions I found myself sending them pics or videos of his cuteness:

But he wasn’t just cute. My dog was brilliant, patient, and strong as all get out.

He was 100% Heart.

There is so much more to his story and even though this doesn’t even remotely do him justice, it doesn’t change the fact that My Big Dog carried a tremendous and stubborn love for me until the end.

He didn’t want to leave me.  I know I sure wasn’t ready for him to go.

You Are Missed My Beautiful Boy.

My Beautiful Big Dog