My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston's pain and the comfort of furry faces

My original plan for today's post was to share some recent photos of our furry-faced family members. But in light of yesterday's tragic events, I first want to say...


My favorite city for as long as I can remember, Boston holds many fond memories for me, and like so many I am broken-hearted at yesterday's awful news. Such brutal acts of violence defy understanding. When I composed my profile on Care2 many years ago, one of the things I listed under their What Scares Me heading was, "Humanity's capacity for brutality," while under the adjacent heading Inspirations, I listed "Humanity's capacity for kindness." That we're so capable of the latter, but too often choose the former, is both frustrating and tragic to me and to anyone who longs and strives to live in a nonviolent world. But although both traits were on full display in Boston yesterday, the vast majority of people were clearly acting on, demonstrating, and inspiring us with their courage and compassion. So while we grieve and try - yet again - to make some sense of the senseless, I think it's important to remember and focus on that. Because Mr. Rogers' mom was right...
(image via Vegans of Instagram)

Very true. (Now if only our species would stop creating so much need for so many helpers!)

I find few things as reassuring and full of love as a furry face, so here's my original post, composed at first to entertain but now also offered as a source of comfort to anyone who feels the same...

I've been remiss in posting photos of our canine kids lately, but not because I haven't been taking any. With faces like these, how could I not? :-) I've actually had this post ready to go for a while, except for Josie holding up the show. She's very photogenic, but as soon as the camera appears, Josie does the opposite. But if you're going to be a "wildlife" photographer, you have to be persistent (e.g. more stubborn even than Josie), and finally - for a few brief moments Saturday morning - it paid off. Here's Josie's "I want to be alone" Greta Garbo pose...


Tessa has a face that's made for closeups. Which is a good thing, because the instant the camera is pointed at her, she comes up and sticks her big schnozzle right in it...

After a week of lovely weather, long walks and basking on the patio, I'd just told her that a winter storm was coming the next day. This is her "That totally sucks, dude" expression. 

And here are the two goobers together at the back door, with Josie contemplating making a break for it (which she did right after I snapped this), and Tessa wondering what's going on in the kitchen behind me and what might be in it for her...



This is how our much-easier-to-photograph Willow usually looks: completely sacked out on her bed in the kitchen nook...

.....Zzzzzz.....

Until one of us begins a food-related activity in the kitchen. Then BOOM! She's on instant Full Alert and ready for snarfing action...

This time it was BW cutting up sweet potatoes. Willow luuuuuvs sweet potatoes!

This was the first practice photo I took with my new Rebel...

I put this pretty frame around it using Photobucket's fun editing tools, 
most of which are no longer available since their web site "improvements." Gah.

24 comments:

  1. The quote from Mr. Rogers is the first thing I think of when tragedies like this strike. There are so many more helpers than hurters, though for the victims and their families,it may be small consolation. Very sad event.

    I would like to hug each of your furry girls, but since I can't, I'll give my furry girl an extra three hugs instead. Peace.

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    1. It's a good first thought to have, Andrea! And I agree, for those most affected in a tragedy like this, it probably offers small comfort. But I'm sure it does offer some - those first responders, both uniformed and civilian, were amazing and I'm sure made a huge difference for the injured and traumatized.

      I'll hug our girls on your behalf, and you please give Callie extra hugs from us! :-)

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  2. Kisses from my furry bunch to your furry bunch XXXXXX!
    Jane x

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    1. And lots of sloppy kisses in return from our furry kids to all of yours! :-)

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  3. Aw, such a wonderful post, Laurie! It is so sad what happened in Boston, but like you, I'm trying to find the helpers and focus on them.

    Your girls are all so beautiful. I can totally tell that Josie is thinking about darting in that third picture. :) How snuggly is Willow all sacked out on her bed? So much cuteness!

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    1. Thank you, Molly! That's a good focus to have.

      My girls thank you very much! Yes, Josie's expressive eyes often telegraph her intentions. LOL And Willow is VERY snuggly! You'd think she's taken lessons from your own Snuggle Butts (they're pros!) :-)

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  4. What a wonderful quote from Mr. Rogers. Thank you so much for posting that. And the beautiful faces of your furry kids!! How can you not love those faces...?? They are ALL precious. The one of Josie and Tessa at the back door...Josie's already got one foot out to make that get-away!! :)

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    1. You're most welcome, Maya! And thank you for your kind words about our girls - we think so too! :-)

      That leg of Josie's that is sticking out does look like it's part of her getaway plan! :-) But it's actually her lame leg, the result of someone shooting her when she was young, before she became part of our family. She and her daughter, both pregnant, filthy and scrawny and full of ticks and burrs, were found near the Montana border and brought to the local shelter by a good Samaritan about 8 years ago. They were cleaned up, delivered their puppies, spayed, and everyone but Josie adopted out. But Josie was considered "special needs" because of her shattered leg, which had healed without medical intervention, twisted and short. The vet took her to the big vet school at Colorado State for a consult, but they all agreed not to amputate. It didn't (and doesn't) seem to cause her discomfort, and though she holds it off the ground most of the time, she does usually use it for walking, support and balance, pivoting... and a headstart for quick getaways during photo shoots. :-) She's so brave and good and sweet - so unlike the person who shot her.

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    2. I thought something might be going on with her leg there...the angle it stuck out at, seemed unnatural. Poor thing...that must have been so scary for her. And what an amazing, brave girl!!! I wish I could hug her (well, all your girls) and snuggle her :) She is a beauty and it shows, clearly, because of her current parents! I will NEVER understand how a person (supposedly with feelings) can hurt a defenseless animal - intentionally. Such cowards...they have no goodness inside.

      But yay for Josie! She is a beauty along with all her sisters, and they sure brightened my day! Thank you soooooo much (^-^)/~

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    3. I know Maya, I can't imagine the pain and fear she had to have felt. She's lucky she didn't get a deadly infection! She's a VERY brave girl who has been through an awful lot. You can read more about Josie's story and see more photos of her on this post. I don't understand how anyone can hurt an animal either, yet we do it on an unthinkable scale every day with the choices we make. It's hard not to agree with you that people who intentionally harm defenseless animals have no goodness inside, but I like to agree with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (A Return to Compassion) that though we're desensitized to the suffering of animals as children, and kept that way by society as adults (intentionally and unintentionally), we can become re-sensitized and return to our innate compassion. And that's what keeps my hope alive!

      I'm glad our girls brightened your day (your visits and comments always brighten mine!), because they sure do brighten ours and it seems selfish to keep all that good cheer to ourselves! :-) They send you warm fuzzy hugs (Tessa is the huggy-bear of the bunch) and sloppy kisses and lots of unconditional love, which is what they are best at! :-)

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  5. Love your wildlife photos. Dogs are the innocents of our civilization. -- barbara

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    1. LOL - Josie especially will love to hear that she's being referred to in that way (she never completely lost her "feral" wild-child character!) :-)

      I saw this article earlier today and wasn't surprised: Newtown Therapy Dogs Headed to Boston to Provide Comfort in Wake of Boston Marathon Attack. So sweet! Dogs give so much - and like so many of our fellow beings of all species, deserve far better treatment than we often give them...

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  6. When things are dark either globally or personally there is ALWAYS beauty to be found if we open our eyes. And what better beauty than our four legged furry friends or the two legged feathered ones or the sky or the garden or ....

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    1. So true! I know that for me, the most therapeutic "things" in life are critters, the beauty of the natural world, warm sunshine, and soothing music. Oh, and vegan, organic, fair trade dark chocolate. Goes without saying. :-)

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  7. Thanks for visiting my blog and it's sad that we both felt the need to cover the Boston story but I love your quote asbout the helpers!
    I also love the quote at the start of you blog -
    My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
    ~ Ashleigh Brilliant
    I'm going to pinch that for mine for a while (well they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)

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    1. You're most welcome, and I'm glad the Mr. Rogers quote struck a positive chord for you! As for Ashleigh's quote, of course - pinch away! It's a good one, isn't it? :-)

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  8. Thanks for the the nice tribute to Boston and I especially liked that you focused on the good and helpful people. I read the article you linked to and appreciated that part of the news. Of course I was about 24 hours late learning about this (when my boss called to ascertain that none of my employees were in Boston). I just hate the news because it's always so bad but on the other hand it is important to be informed.

    The girls are all lovely and it was nice to see the girls. Too funny that photographing Jose is like photographing wildlife - what a girl. She must be in her 20s in people years. Now my girls flee from the camera like Jose. They never think they look good enough at the moment. Maybe Jose needs a hair and makeup person!! :-)

    I love photo of Willow hoping to get some sweet potatoes. The look of hope and anticipation is clear as a bell!

    I can't wait to give them all some loving in a few months!!

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    1. One of the fondest of the many fond memories I have of times spent in Boston is the trip you and I made there during college (your first time in Boston, as I recall), when you chased your escaped helium balloon into the back of the subway car (on the Orange line, no less, which was notoriously dangerous at that time), and right into the midst of a sizable gang of menacing-looking thugs. (For those of you who don't know Jo, she's very petite and so had to leap as she ran in order to try and snag her drifting balloon's string, all the while yelping, "My balloon! My balloon!" The balloon was a souvenir of some fun event we'd attended, and apparently special enough to risk one's young life over!) :-) It was the expression on their faces that I'll never forget - their hostile, glowering stares turning to surprise and then to mirth as they found you in their midst, and then as one of them stood and retrieved your balloon for you. They still looked both bemused and amused as you thanked him and nonchalantly returned to our seat, at which point I stopped composing my apologetic letter of explanation and condolence to your parents that I'd been writing in my head. :-)

      I know that for me, it requires a very challenging and sometimes exhausting balancing act to stay well-informed so I can take useful action whenever and however possible, while not becoming overwhelmed, depressed, discouraged or just plain furious with the scale of horror, cruelty, sadness and suffering. I've been heartened to read more and more stories of incredible courage, compassion and generosity coming out of the horrifying event in Boston, along with several inspiring thoughts about it on various sites on the internet. My friend Marla wrote one expressing some thoughts I especially found touching and true, in her post Shining the Light.

      As for the girls, they look forward with eager, tail-wagging anticipation (not unlike that conveyed in Willow's "oh boy sweet potatoes!" expression!) of getting lovin's from their Tante Joanne! :-) I don't think Josie's avoidance of the camera is about vanity or shyness, but rather that she considers it a crucial part of her enigmatic and diva-like persona. (Which is probably also why she's rather pleased with the Nom de Comments you've inadvertently bestowed upon her, "José." Yes, she's added the accent as she feels it's more exotic that way, and she likes the gender-blending mystery of it all, too. LOL)

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    2. I love hearing you tell the balloon story because this story has no personal memories for me in the actual event - just memories of you telling it! And it's so typical of me being completely unaware of my surroundings and of you seeing everything but in this case being powerless to stop it. Thank goodness God keeps a special look-out for fools! And thank goodness for those other times when you were able to grab me bodily and prevent me from walking into uncoming traffic and other unseen by me obstacles!!

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    3. It's good we have others to fill in the blank spots in our memories - BW does that for me a lot! I'm sure the balloon incident didn't get stored in your long-term memory because to you, it was just a loose balloon recaptured, no big deal, on to the next thing. It made a much bigger impression and an indelible mark on me, though! Watching a friend narrowly avert disaster will do that. :-) I'm just grateful those scary-looking guys ended up being not just harmless, but even friendly. Not everyone would risk depleting their coolness factor to get up and retrieve someone's balloon like that! :-) I wonder if that guy in particular remembers that incident, or if I'm the only one.

      LOL - I'd forgotten about all the times you nearly walked into the path of an oncoming car in city traffic! And now here you are, an urban dweller all these years and much more traffic-savvy. Good thing, or you'd never have made it this far! :-)

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  9. Helpers... Our fur and feather companions are helpers too aren't they? They help us deal with such a conflicted world. Their full acceptance of us and the moment we share always lets us know that things are just fine.

    You're right about the sad need of the human kinds though in such tragedies that we can make. So sad. Thanks for this thoughtful post and tribute to the Boston heroes.

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    1. They sure are - without ever being asked, and then often at our request, often in dangerous or difficult circumstances. They have such generous spirits and accepting natures - your description of their ability to accept and be with us in the moment and how reassuring that can be is perfect. How I wish our species would feel only kinship and gratitude for them.

      Thank you, Bea - your comments are always insightful and welcome!

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  10. It's sad that too many folks find it easier to be cruel than to be kind. Wise words from Fred Rogers.
    Your pups are so very photogenic and oh, so demure ;-). Love them!

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    1. Very true, Spud - cruelty and violence comes far too easily to far too many, even if it's just the use of unkind words on a message board.

      LOL, demure? Not always. :-) (I'm laughing especially at the idea of Tess being "demure." She's a bit of an oaf, bless her heart, but she sure means well!) :-)

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"