Saturday, August 23, 2014

She Won't Eat.

I just want her to eat. 

Something. Anything. 

Just a few years ago, I was saying the same thing about my mum. "I'll make you anything you want, Mum. Anything. Is there anything you could imagine eating?" Everything we tried, she just couldn't. And she was 88 lbs. when she died in January of 2012. 

My best friend for the past 10 years had a cancerous tumour removed in July. After several tests and stains, etc., the doctors couldn't give an exact answer as to what type of tumour it was and whether or not it was the type to spread. We hoped the removal of the tumour and supplements would do the job, as chemotherapy was not something I would put her through. 

Her normal weight fluctuates between 95 and 100. Just before the tumour was removed she had lost her appetite and she lost 20% of her body weight. Post-surgery I was able to get her weight up to 90 lbs. and then two weeks ago her appetite again was lost, she began losing weight, so I took her to get an ultrasound. 

Could the cancer have returned?

"Unfortunately, her stomach lining has thickened again and we found some nodules in her liver. Looks like the cancer has spread and there may be a new tumour in her stomach." She said. "You may want to talk to the oncologist and see what options you have to treat her. I'm really sorry for this bad news." 

Audrey, my best friend, is a Great Dane I adopted 10 years ago. She had been severely abused before I met her, and so had I. I suppose we rescued each other. When I was sat at the rescue organization looking at potential fur kids to take home with me, a couple was also there adopting a Great Dane puppy. 

"Can we see the mother?" They asked. 

And out came an extremely thin, hesitant black Mantle Great Dane who looked as if she would dart away if anyone were to stand up or perhaps sneeze. Her bones were protruding. She had scarring on her back legs. What was her story? She walked straight over to me and lay her head in my lap. I felt an instant connection, cried, then signed the paperwork and took her home a few days later. 

I had just recently lost a Great Dane puppy I had purchased from a breeder. Jude, a gorgeous Merlequin with crystal blue eyes, was 14 weeks old when he died due to a reaction to his immunizations that caused his immune system to attack itself. Jude went from vibrant, cheeky pup who enjoyed the crazies every now and again, chasing a ball, and jumping up on the sofa and peeing on it (grrrrr!!!) to a limp, lifeless puppy who couldn't even lift his head in the blink of an eye. He died within days at the vet's office despite treatment. "But I did everything right!" I thought. My partner and I at the time were completely gutted and still, years later, I can't hear The Beatle's "Hey Jude" without becoming emotional. 

Audrey came just in time and we had a lot of work to do. She was deathly afraid of men. She needed to put on weight and had an infection in her teats that needed treatment. When my partner took her for a walk the second day we had her, she escaped her leash and ran out to Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica (a very busy street) and the police had to shut it down in order for a woman who worked for a dog rescue to gently coax her and catch her. The pads on her feet were bloody and torn. She was a mess.

And then we managed to live together as best friends. She traveled with me on location when I was shooting the film Evan Almighty in Virginia. She supported me through a rough break up in which she was also separated from her "dad" and brothers, a Great Dane/Dalmatian mix named Bouj and Chihuahua, Man Lee. That was hard. It's still tough to think about.

She moved with me and healed with me in my little sanctuary in Malibu, where we lived, just the two of us, staring at the ocean and growing up together. Healing. Feeling and accepting peace. Enjoying life on our own for the first time. Hiking, walking the beach, waving to dolphins, building new friendships. 

She moved with me to Philadelphia when I moved for another job. She completely accepted my new partner as her friend and new dad. And accepted a new sister, Greta, a Coonhound from Delaware, and her brother Man Lee who came back into the picture. 

She loved and supported me through a two year bout of deep depression and the horrible death of my mum. She's never left my side.

She's become the best dog and friend I've ever met. I love her more than life. And now, here she is, thin again and won't eat. It's tearing me apart tonight. 

I'm frustrated. I'm sad. I'm angry at her for not eating. I'm angry at the still unknown cause of this disease. I don't want to lose her. I don't want her to be in pain. I don't want to lose her. 

We're trying turmeric, Essiac tea, L-Arginine, L-Glutamine, Ginger, Milk Thistle, Salmon Oil, and other alternative methods. Everyday I read something else online, run to the health store and add to our protocol. 

But she needs to eat. 

Have tried raw, organic meat of all sorts, cooked organic meat of all sorts, cooked chicken, organic canned wet food, fresh eggs from our hen, cut up veggies - she's gone from eating bits to eating nothing today but two or three bites of kibble. 

So I'm writing this blog with no other point than to let my feeling explode onto "paper" while listening to Bob Dylan and eating chocolate chip cookies in a weak effort to comfort myself, just hoping and praying she'll suddenly want to eat the house and all its contents.  

The more you love the more it hurts, I find. I don't want to let go. Not this time. Not now. 

And I'll never be ready. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who Is Responsible?

Who is responsible for equality?

Who is responsible for creating a kind world?

Who is responsible for ending racism?

Who is responsible for teaching acceptance?

Who is responsible for peace on earth?

Who is responsible for teaching children?

Who is responsible for protecting the people?

Who is responsible for ending child abuse?

Who is responsible for war?

Who is responsible for ending slavery?

Who is responsible for ending the drought?

Who is responsible for sexism?

Who is responsible for keeping our neighborhoods safe?

Who is responsible for ending elder neglect and abuse?

Who is responsible for ending high kill animal shelters?

Who is responsible for ending animal abuse?

Who is responsible for teaching our children empathy and compassion?

Who is responsible for debt?

Who is responsible for hatred?

Who is responsible for fatal paparazzi chases?

Who is responsible for the invasion of privacy?

Who is responsible for suffering?

Who is responsible for crap television?

Who is responsible for working long, inhumane hours?

Who is responsible for deaths associated with texting while driving?

Who is responsible for ___________ too much?

Who is responsible for ___________ too little?

Who is responsible for bullying?

Who is responsible for hunger?

Who is responsible for encouraging youth?

Who is responsible for ending gun violence?

Who is responsible for slavery?

Who is responsible for fair wages?

Who is responsible for intelligence?

Who is responsible for the future?

Who is responsible for our planet?

Who is responsible for loving?

You are.

I am.  

We so often place responsibility in the hands of a very few, then blame those weak few when they don't come through with something they never personally agreed to do. We expect, then we suffer. Until you and I take responsibility for each and every concern we have in life, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves—not the President (a man), not the police (men and women), not the government (more flawed men and women, just like you and me), not teachers, not schools, not the media, not social programs. 

What we buy, what we agree to (whether in word or in action), how we spend (or waste) our time, and how we act and react are our votes toward a world we are creating. Our votes. Our choices. Our power. Our world. 

We must stop putting our own power in the hands of those who cannot be trusted with it.  

We must be the change we wish to see in the world. 

We mustn't add to the current paradigm with our own ignorance and archaic thinking that no longer serves us or the rest of humanity.

We must stand up, together, and not ask for, but create a different world. 

We must stop asking permission. 

We must start with ourselves.   

We must stop complaining. Complaining is for the powerless. 

United we stand, divided we fall. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thoughts on Gun Violence

I happen to live in an area where it isn't uncommon to come across a bear, coyote, mountain lion, or the occasional aggressive off leash dog. Because of the drought in California, many of these wild animals are hanging round closer to people. Because I walk dogs in areas where these creatures are in fact common, I'm looking into purchasing pepper spray or bear spray, for a "just-in-case" scenario—I want to protect the dogs, myself, and the wild creature as well from being injured or killed.

As I'm searching for the best pepper spray with the longest range, I find myself questioning (in the midst of all the recent gun violence on the news), why humans don't often feel this way about one another—protecting ourselves and the life of the other person (who may or may not wish to do harm)? Why do people feel they have to shoot another dead when protecting their homes, their stores, their material possessions, their communities?

Why not use a non-violent method on a person who is resisting arrest, running off with a stolen item, breaking into your home, or attempting to steal your car? Shouldn't we simply aim to disable the person just enough to put him or her in hand cuffs if they are resisting so they can be questioned, and go through the legal process? Isn't that how it should be, for police and for citizens?

The news out of Ferguson, Missouri has had my head spinning in every direction the entire week. I've been at a loss for words (which I admit is rare), not because it is shocking (this type of hatred and violence goes on all the time and is rarely, if ever, covered by mainstream media), not because I don't have an opinion on it (quite contrary, indeed). It is because the issues surrounding it go so much deeper than the surface that one must walk through each stage of grief to even fathom the injustice. And with each step deeper a new injustice is revealed and more grief is walked through. It is a race issue, for sure. Don't say it's not. But more than that—much more than that—it is a HUMAN issue. A societal issue. That young 18-year-old boy, Michael Brown, was OUR little brother. Our big brother. Our son. Our student. Our teacher. Whether or not he stole something (no matter the cost) it was not anyone's duty, right, nor responsibility to take his life from him and from his family and loved ones. And a box of cigars was in no way more valuable than his life.

When I was 16 years old, I walked into a drug store alone, picked up a tiny lipstick and pulled my hand up into the long sleeve of my oversized coat. "I wonder if there are cameras," I thought. After making the most animated of faces (to convince the "cameras" I was not finding what I was looking for so was leaving the store "empty handed"), scared as I'd ever been I walked out the door with that tiny lipstick in my sleeve. Was I caught? No. Have I ever stolen again? No way! That feeling was enough for me to not ever want to do it again. I still think about it and feel terribly guilty. Funny thing is, I don't even like lipstick. Never have. Imagine if I had been shot because of stealing. Who would have been taught the lesson? Is a box of cigars, a flat screen TV, or even a car worth more than a life? Any life?

I've asked people who are pro-gun why they would find the need to have them. The most common answer is to protect their home and family members. Makes sense. Could this not be accomplished with non-lethal force? "How about when the other person has a gun. What to do then?" you ask. Excellent point, but is more guns the answer? Couldn't bear spray with a 30-40 foot reach be a better option than taking a life and having to live with that the rest of your own?

Where is the logic in believing material things are worth more than a human life? Is it when we ceased being citizens and unknowingly agreed to be considered merely consumers? When did we begin to believe taking another's life is acceptable—that death is the only way to justice? Is death punishment? Is death a punishment when the moment one dies all is over for them but their families and loved ones suffer horrendously? Does this teach a lesson or does it simply manifest violence? If someone shot and killed my little brother because he lifted a box of cigars, you'd better believe there would be violence—there would be a lot of very angry people. And yet, he would be dead, unable to learn a lesson. There is no lesson in killing another, other than the fact that like me with the lipstick, you'll think about it the rest of your life and (hopefully) never want to do it again. Who deserves to die and what gives us, other humans with our own flaws, authority to kill?

Could you live with yourself after shooting another dead, even if that person *intended* to harm you? I surely couldn't. We've got people wanting to proudly carry their weapons through stores to brag about their rights to bear arms, and yet, who needs to be shot dead in a store other than a person bearing arms irresponsibly and aggressively? Some people believe we need more guns. In schools even. And yet, I can hike on my own in the wilderness and be approached by a 600 lb. bear (who would rather enjoy having me or my dogs as dinner) and feel confident going out there being armed with nothing more than a $10 can of spray . . . seriously. I live. The bear lives. No violence. 

Beyond race, beyond economics, beyond gender, beyond social status is a beating heart, a person born kind, a flawed human being just like you and me. How can we get to the bottom of these plaguing issues and repair them from the ground up rather than haphazardly patching them? How can we re-humanize ourselves? 

I don't know the answer, but I do know it is up to us to create change. We cannot rely on "them", the few we call "leaders", to make these changes. It must begin in our communities, one neighbor, one hug, one conversation, one kind act at a time.