Chapter One: Rescuing RobynApril 14, 2015

me and maya

Chapter One: Rescuing Robyn

This is very personal and as real as I’ve ever been & I don’t have the energy or desire to apologize for it.. It’s come to this.

The following is an excerpt from a note I wrote to a dog trainer recently:

“Hi,

It’s 2:36AM & I’m awake for the 2nd time tonite. Figured it’d be a good time to give you the information you requested about each dog & their behavior. But since I know that you’ll be here training me for the most part, it’s probably more fitting to first tell you why I’m awake..

Last nite I went to bed in severe pain from another rheumatoid arthritis flare-up. It’s getting worse & none of the meds seem to help, even the shots I have to give myself in the leg. Can’t even take any pain meds because they don’t work either. I woke up with an anxiety attack, choking, gagging.. Ran to the bathroom to throw up. Then I cried. Got back in the bed cursing out the dogs. They’re making it worse insisting on sleeping on top of me, all around, forcing me to contort my body to suit them. I wake up every morning not being able to move my hands & oftentimes my fingers stay asleep for an hour. It normally takes me about 3 hours to really function most mornings. These dogs I love so much were now fucking assholes & they had no idea why.

Auto immune disorders suck. This isn’t the old lady arthritis, btw. Best way to describe this pain.. Imagine thick liquid was poured into the tips of your fingers, filling in all the space down your arms into your shoulders, neck, etc. until there isn’t any more room & they feel as if they might burst. Now imagine every single joint in that entire area had cables tied in knots really tight around them. Then they were lit on fire. The liquid makes the joints lock up, sometimes staying stuck for days. The pain is debilitating & excruciating. The previous meds made my hair & teeth fall out. So now they’re experimenting with some new toxic shit.. But I’m desperate. So, yeah..

It’s been 3 weeks like this with no relief. The chronic pain is taking a toll. The fatigue has set in & my emotions are shot. You already know about the stress at my place, i.e. complaints about my dogs barking too much. I live in daily fear of being evicted & honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to care for them during this time at all, really. Been looking for a new place, another converted warehouse or the like, so the dogs won’t disturb anyone, but it’s really hard to find the right thing that’s affordable in this new competitive real estate climate. I don’t expect people to understand this weird lifestyle I’ve chosen, but I do feel a prejudice against it very strongly when trying to find a rental property in Houston.

And really I don’t blame them..”

7 dogs live with me. I have allowed them to rule me, define me, & take over my life & health in ways that were only apparent to everyone around me. I made excuses, justified, & continued to rescue more & more dogs in need. I needed to rescue myself.. A combination of writing the note above & a few Come To Jesus meetings recently has finally opened my eyes. There is so much to say about it, & I will eventually, but for now I’ll say that I’ve made the decision to rehome several of my dogs.

I put the needs of others including theirs in front of my own, ignoring the symptoms of my illness & other needs until the deterioration and pain forced me to finally address it. Their needs aren’t being met in a way they deserve..attention, emotionally, etc. I love each & every one of them. Period. But sometimes it feels as if I’m just dogsitting for 7 peoples’ pets.

I’ve been blessed once in my life already having the most beautiful pet relationship with Maya, so I know how it’s supposed to be. I have no idea what their favorite things are because there’s not enough time to cater to each one when there’s just one of me who has a time consuming business to run also. Somehow I’ve managed to maintain all their basic needs, gotten surgeries when necessary, vaccinations, but that’s taken a hard toll too. What about the families that are missing out on their love & blessings? I just can’t hold them prisoners here anymore. My decisions have hurt all of us.

So, after careful consideration over the last several months, I’ll be taking this one step at a time. Being honest about it publicly will not only make me accountable, but it’ll spread the networking net to find their perfect homes. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Harriet, a miniature parti poodle, is the first. She is the most sensitive to all the stress & chaos. Here is her listing on petfinder:

https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/31918331/

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Thank you for your love, support, & understanding..

XO,

RA

Puppies 911April 7, 2015

_MG_6519-EditTwo years ago I told you the story of Julia, a rescuer who was pinned in between 2 cars while trying to save a mama dog & her puppies. That didn’t slow her down, in fact, since she healed she’s been hittin’ the rescue ground running with a vengeance here in Houston ever since. Right now she’s having the fight of her life._MG_6558-Edit-Edit

Her group, The Love Molly Fund, rescued yet another mama dog & her 8 newborn puppies a little over a month ago. She named them Lady Bird & The Wildflowers.

ladybirdEveryone was devastated to hear that all the puppies contracted parvo (The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs.) Julia’s friends, fellow rescuers, & supporters have been watching & praying over the past week as the daily reports from the hospital come in..

First they lost Bonnie.Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 3.24.35 PM (2)

Then Dandy & Indigo.dandy indigo

Two days ago they said goodbye to Violet.

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Then to Bane.bane

And Saffron.saffron

Two more are now fighting for their lives & they need our help. Meet Thistle & Clover.

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The vet hospital bills have exceeded $20,000 for their care & her nonprofit group has only raised about half of that. Let’s say a prayer for the brothers & donate whatever we can together.

“I am actually in a living nightmare. Behind Molly and my father, this is by far the 3rd worst day of my life. Yes. Worse than being hit by a car. At least there were drugs and sedation immediately after.” –Julia

Thank you. Link below:

youcaring.com/nonprofits/lady-bird-and-her-wildflowers/313895

A message from Clover last nite:

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Bon Voyage! Rescued Pets Movement Is Rollin’!February 20, 2015

Gorgeous animals. Kind people. Smart. Progressive. No bullshit. They love hard, so they hurt hard too. Here’s a glimpse of what Thursday mornings look like at the Rescued Pets Movement facility. Quite the story..

It’s Colorado transport day. 4 huge vans. A veterinarian. Organizers. Transporters. Countless fosters. A photographer. Drivers. Office managers. Assistants. Board members. They all show up because it takes all the parts of this primo engine to work. They all pull their weight. Because they know the alternative is that every single one of these animals would perish in the shelter. All 106 dogs and 15 cats.

There’s just no pretty way to say it. I know it’s hard to volunteer at the shelter. RPM is a great alternative. Their fosters keep dogs for a week or two in most cases prior to their transport. And it saves their lives. Please contact them via facebook or their website if you are interested in learning more about fostering or donating to their cause.

And remember these faces. You just might see them again here. Playing in the snow.

XO,

RA

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The Story of Mr. Rio Bravo. He Was Just A Dog.February 3, 2015

_MG_7485-Edit-2 copybThe Story of Mr. Rio Bravo. He Was Just A Dog.

Just a dog.. of the young Anatolian Mastiff variety who, about 7 years ago, landed in a Georgia shelter where animals are killed to make room for others. They bounced him around from eager foster home to foster home. Despite his striking good looks, he was a huge wild child with no manners and apparently wore out his welcomes a little too quickly. Rio Bravo eventually caught the eyes of Denise & Dell Bryant, a retired couple in Houston, TX. They adopted him. Gave him the love, stability, and training that he needed. Enough to find his purpose.. & become a 150 pound certified therapy dog. (I took the photo above for an art installation at Memorial Hermann Hospital Medical Center in 2012 of the 19 therapy dogs & 1 cat who work in the hospital. I’ve been smitten with him ever since.)Lightroom (rio work.jpg and 14 others)

Just a dog.. who piloted an animal assisted therapy program for down syndrome & autistic children in Houston..of which the Kids Developmental Clinic’s program is based on today. Who worked weekly all these years assisting literally 1000’s of people and children to heal. “I can’t tell you how many stories there are. One time we were visiting a young child who had been in a coma. He laid his head gently on the child’s arm. It didn’t take long. First the fingers moved. And then his little toes. Then he woke up. It was amazing. But that’s just the power of Rio Bravo.” (Most of the photos above were taken by Rio’s proud Daddy Dell Bryant)._MG_7295_MG_7306 _MG_7496

Just a dog.. who dressed in silly costumes to do his work. Because it made people smile. Even when he got sick. And he was very sick. Aggressive bone cancer in his leg sick. He did his therapy work as scheduled on January 16th. His parents were so proud. Unbeknownst to them, it would be his last tour of duty. Helping heal the patients at Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Outpatient Cancer Center. Funny how life works, isn’t it?_MG_7490 4_MG_7364

Just a dog.. who “spoke” on command, but never barked for just no reason to his parents even though it is a common characteristic of the breed. He spoke to them a lot the last few days. Let them know it was time.. But maybe they needed one more sign.. It came in gorgeous rainbow colors of light soon after I arrived this morning.Untitled-1Untitled-2

And then, as planned, Denise & Dell said goodbye to Rio Bravo tonite. Even though their hearts are broken, the Bryant’s are so grateful for all their blessings by way of Rio Bravo & they so appreciate all their friends & those who loved him so. Just a dignified doctor, healer, counselor, soldier. Just a big brave guy with a gentle soul who did so much living & inspiring & kicking ass in his short time here. Popular on foot. No interwebs needed. Just a legend. Just my friend. I love you Rio Bravo. ‘Til we meet again..6

XO,

RA

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Donations in memory of Rio Bravo can be made to the following charities that mean so much to his family:

National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network

FAITHFUL PAWS Pet Therapy of Houston, Texas

Rio singing along with the band on the visit to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Dell said the band had a hard time keeping a straight face.

Dear Maximus.January 23, 2015

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Dear Maximus,

My face is wet tonite. Not the normal kind of wet, though. Like when you watch a super sad movie. No, not like that. I feel happy. But not the type of happy like when you’re getting handed that big fat Lotto check or something. For sure some tiny speckles are on the inside of my eyeglass lenses. So I know it’s real. And it’s about you..

From prehistoric-mini-dinosaur-monster-looking-dude, to unbelievably gorgeous exotic beast, I marveled at your every valiant healing step. From foster home to permanent home, you lived well and loved even better. Each person you met since August experienced your wisdom and presence in seriously profound ways. I tried to be a good gladiator-in-training student too. Here’s what I learned from you Sweet Maximus..

1. Know when to battle & know when to surrender. Be brave for both.

2. Be kind. Even when you’re losing.

3. Feeling vulnerable doesn’t suck so bad. There are worse things.

4. Live large. And with a purpose in mind.

5. Fight for what’s right. Ok, I knew that one already. But you really drove it home.

6. If you love the one who’s in front of you, make sure they know it by the look on your face.

7. Do your job really well. It matters to more people than you realize.

8. Inhale the good stuff. Every day. Love heals and strengthens all things.

9. Honor your angels. They chose you for a reason.

10. Teach only to students who are ready and willing to learn. It’s energy well spent.

11. Ask for help. Make it really known that you need it. Even if you have to look like a prehistoric-mini-dinosaur-monster-looking-dude.

12. Be humble.

13. A safe and peaceful home is everything.

14. Be a gracious houseguest.

15. Make the best use of your time. Come in with a bang and go out the same way.

16. Know your value. Appreciate when others know it too.

17. Let them see you shine.

18. Be scared. And do all of the above anyway.

So, about the wet on my face. Thinking it’s my soul talking. You hugged it in the coolest ways and it cries tonite in your honor and memory. Sleep well. Thank you. ’Til we meet again..

XO,

RA

My Name is Maximus Decimus Martinez. Part One.

My Name is Maximus Decimus Martinez. Part Two.