Sunday, January 10, 2016

My 9 Vehicular Lives

I ended 2015 and started 2016 each with an insurance claim.

The deer left a nice imprint.
In December I was on my way to work early in the morning and a big ol' deer jumped out in front of my car. My little go-kart of a car. Despite slamming on the brakes, I hit Mr. Deer and he rolled up onto my windshield and off the left side. He got up and ran away while I got out (with difficulty because my door wouldn't open all the way) and inspected the damage. It was very minimal considering the deer was as big as my car and made of sturdier stuff than ol' Jerry the Honda Civic. I was lucky the aluminum foil of a body didn't crumple up around me (it still did $1500 worth of damage, but still. Last year a snowbank in my driveway did worse damage...I thought the snowbank would yield as I was turning around and instead the fender yielded, denting and cracking somethin' awful.)

Yesterday, I had my trailer hitched up to the truck and was on my way to an MMSAR meeting, after which I was going to pick up a load of hay. It was lightly snowing when I left so I made sure to give myself lots of time to go slow. And the roads were fine for the first half an hour of the drive. Then I turned onto a state road and started climbing a hill. La la la, everything's fine, then I felt a tug from behind. Fuck.

The trailer fishtailed and like an overenthusiastic dog tail, wagged the truck hard. I tried to compensate, but it swung the whole rig around and came to rest against the snowbank on the other side of the road, pointing the opposite way I had been traveling. 

Phew, that wasn't so bad, I thought. Not nearly as bad as the last time I fishtailed a vehicle in the snow, rolled it, and hit a tree. 

Except then I looked out the back to see how much I was blocking the road. Poor trusty trailer was on its side. Fuck. But at least it had parked us quite nicely on the shoulder of the road and not in it!

The guy who had been behind me had pulled over, gotten out, and was picking up various pieces of the trailer from the middle of the road. A guy who had been coming the opposite way came running up to make sure I was okay. 

I called 911 and while I was on the phone with the dispatcher, a police officer (detective?) in plain clothes and an unmarked car pulled up. I hung up with 911, said hi to the police officer, and my eyes started leaking tears. 

Long story short, a couple of state troopers and a gaggle of firefighters came to close the road and supervise while a wrecker got the truck free and pulled it out away from the trailer.

Initially it looked like maybe if they tipped it upright it could limp home if I got another ball hitch because it had just twisted the hitch, not the receiver on the truck or the trailer tongue.

But as I watched from a distance (they had me pull the truck into a driveway in case the trailer started running away after being pulled upright), I saw the trailer get upright,  then pulled onto the tow truck. It was not anywhere close to roadworthy; the tires were completely jacked and the roof was caving in.

I said my goodbyes to the's been my towing companion for a little under 10 years and it has hauled some very valuable things for me. With it I learned how to back like a pro; in fact the day before when I picked up a load of hay and to back up what seemed like half a mile through a maze, I got a compliment of "Wow, you back up really good for a girl!" -- the last part was duly ignored.

So I said goodbye, thanked the troopers, firefighters, and tow truck guy, and went to the MMSAR meeting. (I considered going home but I was closer to the meeting, and I did get some brownie points when I told the troopers I was on my way to a search and rescue meeting so I had to make good on that.)

I thought I had used up all my available vehicular luck with my rollover from a few years ago. I guess not, because there was SO MUCH luck in abundance today. I was lucky that this happened when there were no horses in the trailer. I was lucky there was no one in the oncoming traffic lane when I did my spectacular maneuvers across the road. I was lucky the truck didn't flip with the trailer. I was lucky the truck escaped with little to no damage.

Luck was definitely with me today. All things considered, it wasn't too bad. It was much less traumatic than my rollover and hey, I get a new trailer if it ends up being considered totaled!

I made sure to give Bis some extra loving when I got home, grateful he wasn't with me, and Tanner's caretaker sent me a pic of him to lift my spirits which of course it did...he is getting spoiled rotten over there!

I may have also started looking at farms in warmer climates...(I kid...mostly...)

And then I spent 2 and a half hours trying to wrangle a goat to stay in its enclosure. But that is a different story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Deep Thoughts by Me: Facebook

Whew, it's been a while, eh? I've been adjusting to my new job at the shelter, although it's not so new any more! I have been there for 5 months now as the Website & Volunteer Coordinator...there have been ups and downs, but mostly ups.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this evening, I saw that a few people on my friends list had used an app to show their first picture ever posted on Facebook. I was curious (that's how they always get you) so I clicked through the permissions and got this:

First reaction: Awwwww, me and Heather with Superman's crotch!

Second reaction: Holy shit, I've been on Facebook for 10 years!

After I got over the brief hipster urge to brag about how I was on Facebook before it was cool (okay okay, I did comment on it, on Facebook), it really got me thinking about how Facebook's role in my life today compared to then.

I mean, just look at the header advertisement on the photo above: "Games. Gifts. Photos. Chat. Find it all on Facebook." When I first joined as a high school senior taking full time classes at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, you had to have a college email address to sign up. Now everyone can be on it, which was groan-inducing at first (I vowed to never accept my parents' friend requests, and then my siblings all did and I couldn't be the one asshole who didn't) but today it has so much reach and impact.

Many people will comment about how Facebook is a time-killer, soul-sucker, etc etc, and I get weirdly defensive about it. All of my family and most of my friends are far far away from me, and getting glimpses of their lives through Facebook makes me feel grounded and connected, all while living in the boondocks of Maine. Sure there's plenty of drivel and those certain people who post everything they've ever done and/or all of their feelings they've ever felt. And misinformation spreads like wildfire -- in the last couple days a post about a giant imminent snowstorm has gone viral around here with ensuing panic, and the post is from 2013.

It helps that he's wicked cute.
But, then I look at what Facebook has done for the shelter. A large portion of my job is Facebook management. That too has its ups and downs, but the sheer reach of Facebook as a tool to network for animals is awe-inspiring. For example, today I posted a picture of a lab that came in as
a stray. In the 8 hours since it has been posted, 147 people have shared his photo and it has had over 7,400 views.

So Facebook can help reunite strays with their owners. It can also find animals new homes. When I started at the shelter, I began tracking where people had seen the animal they ended up adopting. For cats most people walk in and choose a cat without coming in for a specific one. For dogs however, Facebook is usually the source.

The post that coined him
as the Shelter Overlord.
In my opinion Facebook also connects people to what we do at the shelter, to make us more accessible and relatable. The recent phenomenon of "Cuddles the Overlord" showed that. We had a grumpy-faced kitten who quickly became a mini-star on our Facebook and Instagram; we were able to show the lighter side of what we do with silly captions. And when Cuddles had to be put to sleep because he had spinal deformities and was in severe pain, people got to know the heavier side of what we do as well.

Sometimes I lose sight that not everyone is on Facebook. It is such an important piece of my life, both personally and professionally, that I forget for some others it's something they check every once in a while, or never at all. The world in general does not revolve around Facebook, even if my section of the world does.

Anywho, there's not much point to this post other than to ruminate and to plug the fact that we're trying to get to 10,000 likes on the shelter page. If you haven't liked it already, please do!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Worlds Collide

Work meets search and rescue!

Tonight as we were leaving the shelter after a long day of work, a tricksy cat darted out into freedom.

An initial attempt to recoup the cat resulted in said cat darting across the fairly busy road and into the woods on the other side. I followed, trying to be nonchalant while waiting for an opportunity to tackle her.

The cat meandered through the trees with her tail held high, keeping juuuuuuust far enough in front of me. She lithely trotted across fallen birch logs while I clomped through the trees behind her, leaves and sticks cracking under my giant feet. She would stop and wait for me to get closer, then take off again.

I had to keep very focused on the cat because she is of course the exact color of dead leaves.

She was obviously plotting her escape early on.

As we went deeper and deeper into the woods, I had many different thoughts going through my mind. Including:

 - How far do I go before giving up?
 - I'm going to come across someone's house soon, right? How far down the rabbit hole are we going?
 - If I finally do catch her, will she come quietly or will I have scratches from both the woods and cat claws?
- Oh good lord, I hope I can find my way back or I will never live it down. 

Just when I was contemplating giving up the ghost, the cat let me get close enough to make my move.


Once I had her scruffed and in my arms, I turned around and paused. I could hear the road and I have a fairly good sense of direction, so I wasn't too worried. But I had been concentrating so hard on following the cat, going right left right right left double back left left right, that I could see how easy it would be to get lost.

But I didn't! Huzzah! I came out of the woods maybe 20 ft from where I went in.

After the cat was safely back in the building and I was in my car driving home, I reflected back upon the situation. How many stories have I read about following a magical animal deep into the woods to discover a wardrobe to another world, or that I have magical powers, or a species of intelligent trolls to teach me the secret of life?


And that is how I searched and rescued a cat today.

Monday, September 21, 2015

#1 Rule of Fostering Animals


I have failed. I am going to be super weird about adopting out the kittens and mamacat I've been fostering.  I'm thinking a 10-page questionnaire. Sample questions include:
    3.  Will you name the kitten something cool and amazing?

   19. What kind of voice will you use to talk to the kitten?

   37. Will there be small children around, possibly torturing the kitten?

I don't really want to keep any of them, but I was there for their birth, their eyes opening, their first wobbly steps, their first purrs.  Plus mamacat is SO friendly and so good with her kittens. It gives me all the feels!

It has been really really fun to watch their personalities arise.  They obviously all have names: mamacat is Minnow, then the kittens are Monkey, Millie, Moonpie, and Meeshka.

Meeshka, 2 hours old

Good mama Minnow with 2-day old kittens

Millie, 1 week old

Beautiful mama Minnow with 2 week old kittens

Millie, 3 weeks old 

Moonpie, 3.5 weeks old

Clockwise starting in front: Millie, Moonpie, Monkey, and Meeshka. 1 month old!

So if anyone wants to add an absolutely amazing kitten or very loving adult cat to their lives, hit me up and I'll send you the screening questionnaire! Or just come to the shelter and adopt them when they're 8 weeks old.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Line Up For Your Autographs Now

Because I'm basically famous.

For my A-list celebrity list status acceptance speech, I'd like to thank Mark Zuckerberg for inventing Facebook, Al Gore for inventing the internet, and my college hamster Ziggy Stardust for giving me inspiration.

Oh, and happy National Dog Day! Here's a picture of Finch with the guest kitty we had for one night.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dogs Who Bite

Sometimes not enough thought goes into what comes out of my fingertips, which is not a good thing when you manage a Facebook page with 8,000+ followers. Recently I posted a picture of one of the dogs available for adoption at the shelter, with a frank assessment of his history...he had been adopted out as an ~8 week old puppy, then around the age of 1.5 he bit the family's other dog and was returned to the shelter.

The post was up for a day and a half without any red flags...people liked the picture and commented about how they hoped he would find a forever home.

Then this morning there were a couple of comments that expressed outrage that we would adopt out a dog with a bite history. Some guy that is vehemently pro-breeder shared it as an example of how our "kill shelter" is awful.

It does not help that this dog is a pit bull.

I could write a whole post about how infuriating it is when someone is WRONG on the internet, but I think we've all been there, done that.

So let's talk about dog bites.


I grew up with chocolate labs. The very idea of them biting anything other than a chew toy or shoe was incomprehensible. I would have readily said that any dog who bites should get put down immediately because that just isn't acceptable.

Then, within the past few years, both of my dogs have bitten other dogs. Those who know Finch and Hobbes can hopefully attest that both of them are incredibly sweet and loving dogs, and yet they both drew blood on other dogs.

Finch is an alpha female and does not back down. She bit another alpha female when they got into a tussle.

Hobbes has become pretty anti-social towards other dogs now that I live in the country and I don't take him to the dog park to socialize. He bit a Great Dane puppy.

Both incidents mortified me and I cried over each. But it was never an option in my mind to put them to sleep because of it.

If I had to rehome Hobbes, on paper he would be a pit bull who attacked another dog. Would he
deserve a chance to find another home, instead of being euthanized because of his bite history? I certainly think so.

It's okay if you don't. But if the shelter went with a policy of euthanizing every dog with a bite history, can you just imagine the number of small dogs we would have to put down? Maybe you'd argue that bigger dogs can do much more damage when they bite. Which is true, but little dogs can still do significant damage. Where would we draw the line of with what size dog is a bite history acceptable, and what size mandates an automatic euth?

I understand when people take the position that biting is unacceptable, period, because I thought that before I owned two dog-aggressive dogs. And I don't blame people for worrying about the safety of themselves and their own pets.

But it's a lose-lose situation for the shelter when it comes to dogs who bite. If we put down dogs who have a bite history, people would (and do) call us a kill shelter who doesn't give dogs second chances. If we adopt out dogs who have a bite history, people would (and do) call us terrible and irresponsible.

I fully realize that you can never please everyone. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating when reading and responding to comments online. That pro-breeder assclown (aside: I didn't realize there was a pro-breeder, anti-shelter movement) who in one breath called us a kill shelter and in the next breath criticized us for trying to adopt out a dog with a dog-dog* bite history? He would've found something to fuel his indignation no matter what I posted.

The best we can do is temperament test dogs who come into the shelter, and give full disclosure to possible adopters about the dog's bite history.  Dogs who fail the temperament test and are deemed dangerous are humanely put to sleep.  Adopters who are looking at dogs with bite histories are educated by us before they make a decision.

I wish I could have this conversation with every person who comments because they're upset with the shelter's decisions. It wouldn't change everyone's minds, but at least some people could see the thought process behind what we do. Obviously I can't, but I can at least subject my loyal blog followers to it. Mwuhaha.

*I'm focusing on dog-dog bites because dog-person bites are even murkier and my opinion depends entirely upon the situation.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Uneasy Truce

I take a certain amount of pride in not being squicked out by much. Snakes? Cool. Blood? Meh.

Spiders however...spiders are the devil incarnate. Including spider-like things, like daddy longlegs. I don't care how many people tell me they're harmless and they're not technically spiders. PURE EVIL.

But I like to think I'm pushing myself to grow and expand outside my comfort zone. Last year I noticed giant spiders had taken residence under the eaves outside my living room windows. I was on the phone with Annie at the time and all conversation screeched to a halt while I freaked out. After gearing myself up and a pep talk from Annie, I went out with a broom and the ladder and smashed those assholes.

The broom stayed right where I dropped it after the killings for a year because I wouldn't bring it inside.

They're back this year. At least 4 monstrous ones hang out right next to the ruined corpses of their deceased brethren, in outright declaration that they do not give a damn.

I bought a can of spider spray and went on a genocidal rage, attacking the lower eaves and the porch. I used the entire can. Because there's no such thing as overkill when it comes to spiders.

That leaves the upper eaves. Between forgetting and not finding spider spray at the store when I do remember to look, I've called an uneasy truce. Mostly because I'm too lazy to drag out the ladder and also I don't want to get anywhere near the bastards.

This is where I'm growing and expanding as a compassionate person...sort of. As long as they stay right there, I'll pretend that I'm cool with them and send insincere appreciation for them eating bugs. If any one of them so much as thinks about moving into the house, I will wipe them out and will do so with glee.

I may do it anyway because just looking at them gives me the paranoid creepy crawlies. We'll see how long my magnanimous attitude lasts.

For any spider enthusiasts out there, I believe it is a comb-clawed spider. Also, what is wrong with you that you like spiders?!