Thinking About Tawny

This week at work I had a customer come in to the store. She comes in often, buying cans of cat food for her cat, hanging around to pet the dogs who come in. I always chat with her about things- nothing special, just a very kind lady. Instead of going to the cans like she usually does she came straight up to the counter with a bag of stuff. She said “Hi, I’d like to return a few things.” This was nothing new for me, I have customers do this many times a day and I proceeded to ring up the items. However, because it was this woman, returning these specific items (a bunch of unopened cans of cat food) that made my heart sink and ruined the rest of my evening. I knew why she was here and what had happened.

A week prior it was about eight o’clock and I was sweeping and and getting ready to close the store. I hear the ding of the door signaling some one had come in. It was the lady and she, like she usually did went straight to the cans of food. After a few minutes I walk over and ask her if she had any questions. She paused for a second and then said “I have a very picky cat. She gets tired of food so easy. I’ve tried most of these but she just won’t eat them any more.” I get this question all the time, so I start to show her some of the most popular cans that have the most success with picky cats. We stood quiet for a second looking at the cans. She sighed and hung her head low. Obviously this was about more than just a picky cat. She raised her head and said “well the thing is… my cat is 15 years old. She’s not eating much of anything and when she does a lot of the time it comes right back up.” I paused and finally understood her grief and frustration. Her cat was dying and there was nothing she could do to stop it from happening.

She was holding on to the last little bit of hope, trying to find a miracle food that will cure her cat. She and I both knew though, nothing was going to help save her precious friend. She started going more in depth about what was wrong with the cat. The cat has had a long battle of illnesses complimented by a long list of veterinary bills. We began talking about the cat in it’s prime and how much of a friend the cat had been to her. She couldn’t believe it was coming time to make the decision that all pet parents have to make at some point. She didn’t want to come to terms with the fact that she was going to have to put down her friend. I really felt for her, I had just recently made this decision just over a year ago. She began to tear up and was trying to tell me that she wishes that there was something that she could do to keep her around longer.

As the nurturing and caring soul I am, I felt compelled to comfort her. I was, as it turns out, kind of an expert in pet loss. I told her about my time living on a ranch; how animals have come and gone throughout my whole life. I’ve lost everything from a baby horse to a gold fish. She was surprised and kind of laughed- it’s always a surprise for people when I tell them I used to be a cowgirl. I told her about my goats and all of the horses that I’ve lost in my life and I told her something that surprised her again: it never gets easier. Out of all the animals I’ve ever lost, not one time did I neglect to shed some tears (minus an angry betta fish I had when I was 10). My heart broke every single time I thought of the times we had together and how full of life they could be one minute and gone the next. She related to this, she said that’s how it was with her cat.

Then I told her about my most recent and most heart breaking loss I’ve ever had: my Tawny kitty. This loss was the most surprising and hardest to deal with out of all of my furry friends. She asked me what happened to her and I told her the story of my friendship with Tawny. I got Tawny when I was six years old. I’ve always said she chose me instead of my choosing her. When we went to go pick out a kitten from a litter of kittens that had been abandoned and I had my eyes on a cute little calico. But while I was holding the other cat I felt something on my foot. I look down and see this plain little brown cat whose eyes weren’t even open yet. I put the calico down and told my mom I wanted the little kitty that was going to be named Tawny. On the car ride home she fell asleep in my lap and curled up into a cute little ball, I knew right then and there that she was going to be my best friend. The next twelve years were filled with many cuddles and many naps. She was there through everything, arguably the most consistent  thing in my life. She was there through all the laughs I’ve ever had, and all the tears I’ve ever shed. She was my best friend. And it’s so weird to call a cat your best friend but I can’t find a word to describe it better.

It was coming up on my last month of my first year of college. I was excited to go home for the first time and see my family. My mom called one day and gave me some bad news. Tawny lost her voice last week and we can’t find out why and she was only getting worse. I didn’t take the news seriously, I knew cats at her age got sick more often, maybe I knew what was going to happen but was in denial. The day came to come home and as far as I knew Tawny wasn’t getting better but not getting worse either. I got home for the first time, ready for summer to start and to relax after finals. I walk into my room and on my bed is Tawny. Five pounds lighter, frail, and no light in her eyes. It all hit me when she looked at me and meowed and tried to get up to see me. Tawny was dying. I stayed up with her all night, hearing her wheezing, and go minutes without moving. I cried a lot that night. I knew what was going to happen in the morning. Tawny had waited for me to get home and she was finally letting go. The next morning I did what I had done a hundred times, we went next door and said our goodbyes. I had to be there for her, I owed her that much. I help her when she took her last breathe- sobbing the whole time. I thanked her for her years of friendship and told her I loved her. We took an imprint of her paw and with that she was gone. We buried her in the side yard and with that my best friend was gone.

Trying not to cry, I told my customer this story. She was on the brink of tears herself. She told me that’s exactly how she felt about her little baby and now she knew what she had to do. It was the best thing for the cat, she wouldn’t suffer and would be at peace. You never want a pet to keep trying when there’s simply no try left. My mom always told me it was “selfish” to keep a pet around longer than they need to, and I believe she’s right. It’s not about what we want, if it were up to us we would keep them forever, and with todays veterinary science, that’s almost possible. But is that fair? No it’s not. We need to let nature take its course. It’s one last thing we can do to show our friends we love them.

So fast forward one week and here was this customer standing in front of me, returning all of the can she had purchased the week before, unopened. I knew what had happened, she didn’t need to say it and I didn’t want to ask. She got her money back and I told her we have adoptions every weekend and we have a lot of good kitties looking for homes. Her eyes lit up, either with tears or hope. She said thank you and left knowing she would be going home to a house that her best friend once lived. But I knew she was grieving. Losing a best friend is never easy, whether they’re covered with fur or clothes. They mean so much to us and it’s never easy to say goodbye, but it’s most likely the best thing you can do for them. All you can do is say goodbye and thank them for all the fun times.

I miss you every day Tawny, I have your paw print on my left arm so you’re still with me. You will never be replaced and always remembered. I love you. Thanks for everything.

Vegetarian Contemplations and Trying Not to Fall Asleep in Class

This month I have been extremely M.I.A. Just ask my mom, who I’m pretty sure thinks I must be dead or involved in a drug ring due to my absence. However, I am not dead and am still 20 years sober from drug use. I am hooked on another type of habit-forming substance: school. This month has been crazy hectic. Not only am I ambitiously taking 16 units this semester (that’s 6 classes for those who don’t know), but I’m also maintaining my part-time job at the pet store and my social life, including having a serious boyfriend. That eats up approximately twenty eight out of the twenty four hours I have in the day.

The last two weeks have been eaten up by midterms and speeches. On the first week of midterms I had one midterm every day I was at school, then the next week I had a speech and midterm on one day and another exam a day later. Needless to say I can still tell you everything you need to know about how to give a persuasive speech and what Aristotle’s view on rhetoric is. Which is useless information, but hey, I guess I need to know it. Luckily I had to help of my two best friends, Pip and Milo, to help me along the way.

There hasn’t been much time for fun activities to write about, so instead I’ve been filling my time with thinking about the scary and daunting thoughts about what I’m going to be doing with my life. When one takes approximately six exams in the span of 10 days, you start to ask yourself if it’s all worth it. “Why am I taking this class? Why do I need to know how to measure light? Why do I care about Hitler’s view on propaganda? Is this really what I want to do?” When you’re a communications major who is more passionate about mammals than anything else but is terrible at science, you start to doubt yourself immensely. I began to wonder if I’m ever going to find a job that I really enjoy, or if I’m just going to end up as an HR rep in a company I can’t stand, a la Toby Flenderson in The Office (which has been my saving grace these past few weeks).I found myself googling “animal advocacy jobs for communications majors” far too often than I should have. It has just made me more depressed seeing how sparse these jobs actually are. But I couldn’t dwell on those thoughts for too long, I had work to get done.

I started to think of way I could make a difference in my life today that could help me live the life I want to. For instance, regardless of how tired I am, I attend every class meeting of all of my classes and study more than usual. I want to get the best grades possible, just in case one day I find a moment of clarity and realize that being in school for twenty years is finally worth it. I have also made some changes non-academically, I have begun to try to be more conscientious about the way I contribute to the world and affect it.

I have decided that I am going to try and be vegetarian. After months of debating it I feel that some one who, like me, cares about the environment and critters. Not only am I not consuming meat that has been slaughtered pretty inhumanely, and it also reduces my carbon foot print. So in the past two weeks I’ve only eaten meat a handful of times and I feel really great! Still tired, still over worked, but at least not hungry!

So since school has started, I have gone through many ups and downs. It has been a really crazy time for me but I’m powering through. All of these questions I have I know are just temporary but it’s still tough. I know it’ll be worth it because the decisions I make now are going to guide me through the rest of my life. So here’s to not falling asleep in class and getting sleep on occasion!

An Update and a Dog

Hello all! So it’s been a while since we’ve chatted and SO much has gone on since my last post! So let’s start off from landing in Hawaii and get right to it because we’ve got a lot to get through.

So getting back from Hawaii and going back to work I made a decision that would change my life.

It started out just like any other day at work, it was the weekend so the adoption group we work with was in the store. Me and the woman who runs the rescue are very close as we’ve known each other for a few years. She came up to me and said “Hey we’ve just got some new dogs, come and see!” And what happened after I followed her changed my life forever. She opened the door to the carrier, and out came running the smallest, skinniest, scaredy-cat Chihuahua I’ve ever seen. She ran right out of her carrier and into my heart. She crawled into my lap and I don’t think I put her down for the rest of the day. I fell in love with her immediately.

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My coworker and Pip

The rest of the work day was spent wishing that I could take her home. People would come up to me when I held her and compliment how cute she was and how they wished they could take her home too. Every time some one would say that my heart would sink and I would think ‘what if they do take her, what if she gets adopted and I will never get the chance.’

The work day came to a close and there was a question on where the dog was going to be fostered. I went and called my room mate and asked if we could possibly take her for just a few days until another foster situation could be figured out; she said yes and before you know it me and the baby were homeward bound!

The next few days I realized what was missing from my life and it was my little dog. I promised I wouldn’t get attached, but within the first half hour I had already changed her name from Rayna to Pip. My boyfriend fell in love with her as well and the next few hours were spent plotting how in the world we could keep her.

It had become very clear to me: I had found the dog I’ve always wanted. She was so sweet! She never barked or whined, she loved to be held and pet, she was house trained and polite with people and other dogs for the most part, and just fit into every aspect of my life. I knew I wouldn’t find anything else that would be as perfect for me. I contacted my landlady and asked her if it was possible to register her as an emotional support animal and put a deposit down so that I could keep her. She agreed that as long as the animal was registered as an ESA (emotional support animal) (I will also post a page about ESA’s and how to register).

Excited with the news I went to work to tell the Adoption Group that I was going to keep Pip. When I got there, the woman informed me that some one else who had already filled out the application for her was going to come and take her home. I was devastated. Some one else was going to take MY dog who I had fallen in love with and keep her for themselves. I went straight to the my friend from the rescue and begged her to please let me take her. I knew that I had found the dog I was looking for and would be the best person to take care of her. She said to fill out an application and she will decide what to do from there.

After reviewing my application and many many minutes of stress and anxiety from me, she pulled me aside and said “I just called the other people and told them that the dog wasn’t going to be able to come here today. I’ll find another dog for them, but if you adopt her today she’s yours.” I was beyond excited! It was finally happening! I ran to get my check book, filled out the paper work and just like that Pip was now mine!

Since then Pip is the best dog I could’ve ever asked for. She sleeps with me every night and I take her to the dog beach twice a week. Milo is still my little mister and I love him very much, but having Pip gives me a different experience that is so amazing. The two of them get along just fine and they even are starting to like each other. It was a match made in heaven.

Since getting Pip I’ve started school. It has been tough but since she is an emotional support animal, I can bring her to class with me and take her most places. Needless to say I am now the most popular girl on campus because of my four pound Chihuahua.

It is so amazing having a dog and it’s something I have been waiting for my whole life; to have one of my very own. She has been great in the apartment and I honestly don’t know how I ever was happy never having one. She has changed my life and I hope that I have done the same for her. We are two peas in a pod. It is so great to have both of my pets be as wonderful as they are and they remind me everyday how to be happy. I am so thankful for both of them and can’t wait to see how we are all going to grow together.

So expect to see and hear a lot more about Pip and our adventures together. If you follow me on Instagram you have already seen some of them. But there are still lots more places to go and I’m so excited! Thanks so much for reading and I hoped you enjoyed it! See you next time!

Love,

Pip, Maddie, and Milo

Hawaii My Home

Not many people would describe me as a well-traveled individual. Before my recent trip I had never been on a plane and have only ever left California once or twice. So it’s fair to say my flight out of LAX at 8:00 in the morning to Hawaii (that’s a 6 hour flight) all by myself was daunting to say the least! My nerves were through the roof the few days before and I couldn’t imagine having to navigate the calamity all by myself. Did I have my eticket? What even is an eticket? How big should my carry on be? Can I fit this in my suit case? Probably not. What if it’s too cold? What if it’s too hot? What if I sit next to some one who farts? What if I don’t even get on the right plane?! Luckily my loving boyfriend came in the morning to help my anxious brain and drove me to the airport. He told me everything I had to do and with out him I probably would’ve gotten on the wrong plane.

But after boarding and take off I was relieved to know that I was only mere hours from this alleged paradise. I have never been anywhere like this before and I didn’t have any reference as to what to expect, other than that it was Hawaii and supposed to be the best place on Earth according to all of the movies I’ve watched. But I was excited none the less.

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Boarding

But as soon as I landed (finally) I was greeted by the most cheerful folks I have ever met- my grandparents. They quickly got shots of me getting off the plane, talking, getting my luggage, hugging my cousins, and all around being excited to be there. My trip was well documented because of these two! My aunt, uncle, and older cousins all were there as well and we quickly set off for the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu.

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These were all of the names of the men who died on the S.S. Arizona; many of which still reside in the wreckage.

The Memorial was touching. I really only knew about what happened there because of my text books and teachers who briefly covered the subject as an entry way to our WWII courses. But actually seeing the place where it happened and learning about the history in depth gave me a new perspective on the story. It was even more moving to watch my grandparents experience this for the first time, as they were kids when this happened and have memories of the day.

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The spot where we ate lunch. I honestly don’t remember what I had because the view was too good. 

After the memorial and an hour trying to find our bus, it was back on a plane we went, this time to Maui. We got to the hotel at midnight (3:00am our time) and crashed shortly thereafter. When I woke up I could hear the sound of tropical birds singing, the ocean crashing, and the trade winds blowing. It was magical right from the start. I knew that this week was going to be wonderful.

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The view from our room

The beach was only a few feet from our room so a lot of that week was spent in the ocean, which I was extremely happy about. I have never been in water so warm before! It was intoxicating. The crystal clear water made it perfect for snorkeling. me and my cousins spent four out of the seven days just swimming and snorkeling. The amount of tropical fish I saw was incredible! It was hard to believe how much life I was able to see; all of these communities and schools of fish in the coral beds were amazing. I couldn’t get enough, I was hooked. And then it all got better when I saw a Hawaiian Sea Turtle. The day before my cousin got to see one and I was extremely jealous. So I made it my mission to spot one too, luckily I did and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

She was beautiful. Slow yet majestic. I swam with her for a good ten minutes where we mostly just floated around. She didn’t mind me at all- we were just co-swimmers. She looked me in the eye and it looked like she knew she wasn’t in danger. She surfaced a few times to get air and her little head poked out of the water just enough to get a breathe and back down she went. I live for experiences like that. Observing nature and life in a friendly way. Not imposing myself on the animal but rather just witnessing a small part of their world. We parted ways; taking a small piece of me with her.

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A cute Banyan tree 

Hiking was next on our list. We took several trails and saw numerous jungle-y parts of the island. One of which was to Ioa Valley where the needle was. It was everything I expected the Hawaiian land scape to be and more. Very Jurassic Park-esque. The valley held a lot of history as it was a sight where the native peoples lived. I was breathe-taken by the enormous size of these mountains. They were beautiful and I tried to imagine what life must’ve been like pre-colonial times, when the Hawaiians were creating their own culture, language, traditions, and people.

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Ioa Valley

As far as the native people went, they were kind and welcoming. No one seemed to mind that we were blatantly tourists. They were eager to help and recommend any and all services. We eventually made our way to a luau, the Old Lahaina Luau to be exact, which I’m proud to say is the most touristy we were on this trip. This was arguably my favorite part of the trip. Unlike how I expected it to be, it was extremely true to the culture, not sugar coating any of it’s Hawaiian history. The show primarily focused on traditional Hawaiian dances and discussed their background and meaning. The dancers were beautiful, they moved and beamed with pride for their craft. I was in awe of their skill and culture, each one loving what they were doing. I loved it. I loved learning about the people and their history, I loved seeing an unfiltered display of who these people are and how after years of having it being taken from them, they are still able to show excitement and joy for their story.

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Family luau time 

At the end of my trip I felt so enamored with the place I was visiting. Maui is a destination unlike any other and I am so glad I was able to witness it. I felt as though I was going to leave a place that spoke to me so well. A place after my own heart. I bought my little trinkets and doodads but I didn’t feel like that would be enough. So, in true Maddie style I went to get a permanent memorabilia: a tattoo. I went to a local artist who lived right up the road and got a small sea shell behind my ear. I was in no way about to get any tribal symbols or Hawaiian art because I didn’t want to disrespect their culture in any way. I just wanted something that I could look at and say “that was an amazing time.” So a tiny shell it was. And I love it.

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My cute shell tattoo

I know I sound dramatic when I say it, but Hawaii really touched me. I have never felt so purposed in my life. Everything there had a reason and a story behind it. All of the food was local, I didn’t see a WalMart anywhere, the shops and shop keepers were friendly and conscientious about protecting their island and keeping their beautiful nature whole. Everything was respected and admired for their beauty. A lot of the times we take our surroundings for granted and destroy it in the process. There everyone knew that this place had to be protected and was aware of the steps they had to take. This stuck with me.

I left Hawaii thinking this isn’t goodbye, but until next time. I knew if I never came back I wouldn’t see my heart again. As for now I am back in Long Beach and happy still, but now I know of this beautiful place where I genuinely loved. So let this be a promise to myself. I will go back one day, and might even make it my home if I’m lucky, but for now it’ll just be a fond memory to carry me until next time

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Thanks for everything Hawaii. See you soon.

About this Blog!

As you’ve figured out I’m Maddie, and this is my blog! I thought I might as well post something sooner or later, so here it is! My very first blog post! I thought I’d share a little bit about what I want this blog to be about and what kind of content you’ll be reading. But first, a little back story on mwah.

If you’ve read my “About me” and my “Mister Milo” pages then you’ve already got a pretty good insight on what’s going on in my life. If you haven’t then here’s a recap: I’m currently 20 years old, I have a wonderful cat named Milo, I go to school full time where I’m studying communications, I work at a pet store where I play with dogs all day, and I love helping others. If you were to condense me into a tiny box that would be it. But that’s not what I want this post to be about. Since in the future I might not delve in too much about my life before I want to share what it’s been like to be Maddie up until now.

I’ve always been an animal lover. Since the time I could stand I was playing make-believe or I was riding a horse. I was the little girl who read books just to look at the pictures of the animals, and then make up my own stories about them. But I digress- I grew up on a ranch, needless to say, where I was raised to ride horses and care for animals. But only being five at the time, I needed some help from my folks. Rob and Angela were the kind people that raised me. They taught me that if I fell off the horse, then I needed to get right back on even if I broke a bone (which is a story about my sister she loves to tell again and again). They also taught me how to care for other critters and make them a priority in my life

So fast forward 20 years later and I have successfully been converted into a crazy animal lady (not just exclusively cats even though I may or may not have my cats foot print tattoo’d on me). I have had countless dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, horses, and cows since then and each one I could tell you a cool story about. I have learned that animals take up an equally special place in our hearts just as our human friends do, and that losing a furry friend is just as painful as losing a person friend. I might later write a post about dealing with pet loss as it is a subject that is often not talked about but still is an extremely painful experience. The key is to make their time with us the most enjoyable it can be! Which, hopefully, my blog will bring to you!

I am an animal rights activist. I am not affiliated with any radical organization like P.E.T.A., but I do take the time to read and educate myself on what’s going on in our world regarding environmental issues. I have many opinions on certain subjects which I will probably post about from time to time since I believe wild animals’ well-being is just as important as our domestic friends well-being. And seeing as Orcas are my FAVORITE kind of animal I will most likely be posting about the issues facing SeaWorld and captive animal care.

So, Maddie, you’ve done a lot of rambling about yourself, how is this going to translate into a functional blog? Well my friend, that is the not so easy question to answer! In order for me to do that, we first have to explain what this experience will be! My hopes for this blog are that this will be a space for me to explain my relationship with animals and in turn give some advice and wisdom to those who want it. From pet health, to nutrition, to fun activities to do, to the latest funny cat video; it’ll all be here. Each week, hopefully, I will write about topics related to pets and animals, and with humans being animals too I’ll occasionally write about my experiences as well.

I am by no means an expert, just an avid pet lover who doesn’t know much else than to talk and care. So why not combine the two and give my readers a place to share and learn about the wonderful gifts on this Earth which are pets. It is my belief that as the dominant species on this planet, altering it as much as we have, that it is our job to see that our other Earth-inhabiters are taken care of and that we don’t selfishly kick them out. So here is a space to come together and learn about not only caring for our furry friends, but also for each other and our planet.

I hope that this blog is going to be helpful to people and that it is a fun place to write and share. I will most likely be posting on Mondays and Tuesdays but I doubt you guys will care. But as for now I think this will be a super fun experience and I can’t wait to get started. So with that I shall say au due for now, and I hope you enjoyed reading this!  See ya’ll soon!

Best,

Maddie