In which Zombie Joe considers neither food, nor writing…

This past weekend we spent the anniversary of the day our dog died of cancer taking the newest member of our family (a rescue that really needed our home) to visit Aladdin’s favorite park in Door County. We were actually staying at the cabin we rented just north of that park. Cave Point County Park in Jacksonport, Wisconsin. Door County. No better place on Earth.

ginger-beachWell, we tried to take her to that park. If you’ve been following me through social media, you’ve likely heard me lament that she is agoraphobic and not friendly towards small children or other animals. I’m good, but those fears/aggression might be beyond my skills. So we sat in the truck with the AC on while Robin went to visit Aladdin’s beach. We could take Ginger to the beach behind the cabin. That one is private.

I bring this up because I was considering the number of Represent tshirt campaigns that have been going on lately. And there are many. More than I can possibly contribute to. Choices must be made. But at the same time, the Amells (Stephen Amell from Arrow and Robbie Amell from Flash) have been hitting them one after another for me.

Last year, after our latest stint of cursing cancer, Stephen Amell did another run of his Sinceriously “Fuck Cancer” shirt. While I spent July last year stating “Today was a good day” and “we’ve all got jobs to do”… I spent the better part of August saying “fuck cancer” pretty much daily. And this past Friday, I was wearing my Captain Amell Fuck Cancer shirt.

I’m going to skip past Stephen Amell’s second charity shirt (even though it struck solid for me too), and talk about the one going on right now. Robbie Amell posted a link through Twitter to his Camp Hometown Heroes charity shirt. I clicked it simply because, as a fan, I wanted to see what he was supporting. The charity is a free summer camp for the kids and younger siblings of fallen soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough it is in Grafton, Wisconsin. I remember seeing a news report about Aaron Rodgers taking a group of kids from the camp out on a boat a while back.

Children’s charities are my thing. Children’s cancer charities… forget about it. I’m there. Much like how I knew Ginger needed a place like ours to heal from her mistreatment the first year of her life, I could see how these kids of service members could really benefit from this camp. So you know I will be picking up a shirt from the Robbie Amell “Camp Hometown Heroes” page when I get home tonight.

You should too. It’s a sharp shirt. And a really great cause.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, I hear they are giving away a shirt that is signed by both of the Amells.

Do Zombies Dream of Brains?

A little background for those not familiar with the schedule at Casa de Zombie. My wife works in Milwaukee, which is about a 90 minute drive one way. As such, on Tuesday nights she will stay with her friend Laura (who we met in college) as she lives about 5-10 minutes from her office. It also gives her a night to go out to dinner with her and the ladies on her team in the office. That makes it Zombie Joe and Ginger time back at the condo.

why-the-treatsGinger is the fox terrier mix we rescued last fall. We went to donate dog food to a shelter a month or so after our dog for the last 15 years had passed, and found this scared little girl that needed a home. More importantly needed someone willing to help her through her various fears brought on from a year of mistreatment. She still isn’t a fan of other dogs and is scared of the outdoors, but she’s acting like a dog now. And is a filthy, filthy beggar. It’s been months since I’ve been able to eat my entire dinner by myself.

This week that meant going through her first thunderstorm since she came home with us, and my usual night of difficulty sleeping. Like most Tuesdays, this meant sleeping on the couch with the puppy and waking up several times through the night. The usual. Right along with waking up to an infomercial as the television has been on most of the night. Did you know some stations stop broadcasting if it is late enough still? I thought all of them were 24 hours now. Some are 23 hour stations.

So I woke up having slept on my arm wrong. Acutally, my right arm (primary arm) has been sore at the elbow for a week or so. Last night I just made it worse and woke up from it. Get up for a glass of water, stretch a bit, and lay back down. Then come the weird dreams. This time it was a dream from back in college when I popped my right elbow out. Having done similar with my knee, I popped it back and went on with life. My dream detailed this event in vivid detail for me. Not that I needed it, not all of my memories were lost in that concussion. (Yet another, different story.)

Waking from the dream, my arm still aching, I considered how much it sucks to get older. Before – pop a joint, just pop it back. Now – be sore and useless for weeks from just sleeping on it wrong or stretching it badly.

Though on the bright side Ginger dealt with her first thunderstorm really well. And she didn’t ask to go out at all in the middle of the night. It was still raining after all.

Still, with the move of her “castle” (the word I trained her for with her kennel) due to visitors coming this weekend, she doesn’t jump right into it now. Her new thing is when I give her the command, she goes to where it used to be, runs back, jumps on the couch and rolls on her back kicking her legs. She does this until I rub her belly, pick her up, and put her in the kennel. Cute? Maybe. But consider the previously mentioned elbow strain. 😉

Week Three of the Big Change™

Warning: This post has been building for a while. It’s gonna be a long one. You might want to get a coffee. And maybe a sammich. 😉

Back in the middle of July, we had to say goodbye to Aladdin, our dog for the last sixteen years. A couple weeks after that I was off my self-imposed deadline and it hit me all at once. Hit me even harder than that first Monday morning where I went to get the lunch meat to wrap up Aladdin’s twice a day pills. So I looked for ways to smooth over the rough spots left. In seeing that a shelter in the area was in need of dog food donations, we made plans to stop in at the Pet Smart where they did their adoptions and dropped off a box of canned dog food.

I’ve heard people day you don’t go to the shelter to “just look.” If you go you’re coming home with an animal. I don’t fully believe that. As I said in my stories about Aladdin, had we come one day earlier we would have come home without a dog. He was literally the only dog in the shelter that spoke to me. (To be fair, had one spoken to my son that might have been different.) So while there was a Pomeranian puppy there that my wife thought was cute, she was already being adopted. As we walked down the line there was a fox terrier mix that was being passed up by every person there.

photo (15)When you would go up to her kennel, she would roll on her back for a belly rub, but was so far in the kennel, you couldn’t reach her. She was also shivering at everything, scared beyond simple nervousness. I saw she was in the range of someone not wanting to adopt a “broken” dog. I told my wife to take her out for a little walk while I dropped off the food. Coming out of the kennel she hunched over, tail between her legs.

Ginger was a rescue from a hoarder. For the first year of her life (plus a bit) she was kept in a kennel. She didn’t know how to handle the outside and was scared of loud noises, open spaces, and large groups of people. But behind those frightened eyes there was intelligence and personality. She had the potential to be such a good dog, but she needed someone to take care of her. So we adopted her. This past weekend marked the three week mark of her being in our home.

I was told that none of the people at the shelter, nor her foster family, had ever heard her bark. She didn’t like toys (even though she was only a year and a half old), and to get her to socialize and cuddle you had to close her kennel door. The kennel made her feel safe, so she loved staying there. And while she was crate trained, she wasn’t house trained.

By the second day, once she was out and on the couch with us, she wouldn’t go into her kennel. She did once during an OddCon meeting where everyone had taken all the seats on the furniture. Other than that, she only goes in there while I’m at work. While she is like 90% house trained, it is only really while we are around. We have figured out her “tells”, and she is taking to being trained to wait for outside really well. Which is why she is kept in the kennel during the work day – so she doesn’t have any accidents or get into chewing anything (as she has tried to chew things she shouldn’t while out with us).

photo (7)At night when she starts to get feisty, she will go from the loving, soft-mouthed grabbing onto our hands to wanting a rough-housing. So the fox toy we were saving for Christmas is nearly destroyed at this point. I’ve already bought the replacement for when it is finally done for. She will even race around the condo before coming back to the couch to pounce on it.

Ginger has also found a love for pillows. Her favorites are ones with depressions in the middle of them. Like the rather costly contour pillow my wife bought from her chiropractor for her neck. More than once, she has woken up with a puppy halo as she has wrapped around her head to lay down on it. Which leads to the fact that she sleeps in our room with us. While she would sleep in her kennel (and does during the day), there’s no way for us to hear her if there is a problem, or if she needs to go out in the middle of the night. So she now has her own “pillow” – which is really a small cushy dog bed that mimics the design of the pillow she likes.

And we’ve heard her bark. Only a handful of times, but still. We like having a quiet dog, but it is good to know she can bark when she needs to. It kinda goes along with being a dog. Even a spoiled one. With her own pink Badgers football jersey.

photo (11)This morning (after my breakfast was done since she has to have a taste of what I’m having), she slept on her “pillow” that I moved to the couch in our living room. I turned off the television after watching the season premiere of Sleep Hollow, and in the quiet of the condo that used to be all encompassing, there was the deep, rhythmic breathing of Ginger snoozing on her pillow. It was different than when she first came to us – more comfortable and content. I hated to pick her up and kennel her. But I had to get to work. So I scooped her up and informed her it was time for “Khalisi to go to her castle.” (Yes, there are three dragons in her castle.)

Is she still spooked by the outside? Yup. Loud noises also scare her still. And if she gets spooked, she will run back to the condo and skip doing her “business” until she’s calmed down. Somehow the truck rides she initially loved has gotten her spooked since my wife took her solo for a ride on the interstate to go visit my step-kids and grandchildren. She is a special needs dog. But she’s not broken.

Yes, this has significantly altered my schedule. It has been well over a month since I have been to the Victory. I haven’t written more than a blog post or book review since we adopted her. And the last time I spent a day away on the weekend was Sonic Boom and when I came back she was suddenly afraid of truck rides. So it will likely be a while before I do that again.

photo (10)I am posting this because of how happy we are that we decided to open our home again. Honestly, we didn’t expect to for a while. Once thing I have seen since that disturbed me was the statistics of how many pet owners get new pets, with the prevailing reason being concern over getting a “broken” pet. Ginger has some special needs. We cannot run the vacuum cleaner or garbage disposal while she is in the room, for instance. But she is not broken.

If you are looking for a pet, consider a shelter. Take a look at some of those animals and figure out if their issues are something you can help with. Or, if you are more like me, see if their personality resonates with you. You could very well be saving the life of an animal. And while a hole might be left when they are gone, it is far smaller than what they added while they were here.

Not to mention you might just get a new mascot for your writing group. 😉