The Puppy Is Cat-ching On

, , , | Hopeless | September 18, 2017

One of my friends works for the local vet’s office. It’s a small town with no animal shelter, so if strays are found, the vet will usually take them for a few days until they can find the owner, or place them in a home. My friend knew we’d lost our dog a few months before, and called me up one day to say that they’d just been brought a litter of stray puppies that they needed to find homes for, and if my family wanted one, she’d bring one over that night.

My family talked it over, and even though we weren’t really ready to move on from our other dog’s death, we knew the vet’s office would have trouble finding homes for a full litter of puppies and didn’t have the room to take care of them, and decided it was better for us to take one. So, that night, my friend brought over a tiny golden retriever puppy.

She’d warned us that the puppies they’d found were too young to be away from the mother, which is part of why they were so worried about being able to find good homes for them, but we hadn’t realized just how young they were until she showed up. We fed and cleaned the puppy and made a bed for her where she’d be warm, but the poor thing was clearly stressed out, and started crying as soon as we walked away. We were worried that we’d have to stay up with her all night, when our rather elderly male cats, who’d been very curious about the new arrival, decided to step in.

After sniffing her and touching noses, both of our cats decided that this tiny little thing was probably some kind of strange kitten, and it was their job to take care of her. They curled up on either side of her and started grooming her, and the puppy immediately stopped crying, and snuggled in. My dad had set an alarm to remind him to get up and feed her, but shortly before the alarm went off, one of the cats came and woke him up. For the week or so after that, the cats continued to let us know when the puppy needed to be fed or taken outside, until she was old enough to eat solid food and let us know herself.

As the puppy grew up, the cats continued to take care of her. They taught her how to go up and down stairs, how to find the best spots to nap in the sun, that she should stay away from the road, to come when the humans called her, how to groom herself, and where the treats were kept. The puppy never did get the hang of climbing trees, but she’s surprisingly adept at stalking mice and chipmunks!

The cats were a bonded pair, and they died within a few months of each other when the puppy was three. A few years later, she found our kitten, and happily carried on what her foster parents had started, cuddling and comforting the new arrival and teaching her all the important things. So, our dog thinks she’s a cat. Our cat thinks she’s a dog. Our animals may be a little confused, but they all get along beautifully, and no one seems to mind when the new kitten plays fetch!

Driving Away The Anxiety

, , , , | Hopeless | September 16, 2017

I witnessed the death of a close family member in a car accident when I was younger. Because of this, I feel pretty insecure when driving and have an overall anxiety when being in a car. This also led to me failing my practical driving test several times, which only made my anxiety stronger.

One week before my last driving test, another close family member died in a car accident. This hit me hard, and I could barely cope with my emotions. My anxiety was so strong I could not even stand near a car without freaking out internally, let alone sit in a car or drive myself. I called my driving instructor and told him what had happened. He was really kind, and managed to reschedule my driving test for two weeks.

On the day of my driving test, I still was not able to cope with the death of my family member, and my anxiety was still pretty strong. I met with my driving instructor before the driving test, and he told me that he had spoken to the examiner. He told him about the death of my family member and my anxiety. He also agreed with him that they wanted to be silent throughout my driving test so that I could better cope with my insecurity and better concentrate. I did not recognize it while driving, but this helped a lot.

My anxiety hit me pretty strong during the driving test, and I had a feeling of internal panic most of the time. I could not look somewhere else, only on the streets and mirrors as I was supposed to do. When I panicked a lot internally, I managed to look to my driving instructor, only to see him smiling at me. I still was really insecure, but it helped me so much and I was able to drive at least a bit more relaxed. I think his smile made more of a difference than he realized.

I passed the driving test that day, but only with the help of my driving instructor who gave me a feeling of security in my situation of anxiety. I gave him a hug after the driving test, but could not find any words to thank him. We drove back to the driving school to sort out the last paperwork. He hugged me one last time and I left. I wish I had been able to thank him in a better way. He helped me a lot and he deserved some words of gratitude. I hope I can see him again in the future. I am glad that I got to know him.

Shepherd My Shepherd

, , , , | Hopeless | September 14, 2017

(I’m a bit of an insomniac, so I go for a walk at about half past midnight in my favorite lakefront park. I live in a quiet, residential neighborhood, and it’s not unusual for people to let their dogs off the leash if the park is empty and the dog is well-trained, so I’m not too concerned to see a German shepherd run by. What does concern me is that the dog is limping badly and whimpering. Worried, I walk over to the only other person in the park, a guy with a pair of year-old huskies, in the direction the dog had come from.)

Me: “Excuse me, but is that German shepherd yours? He’s limping pretty badly; I think he may have stepped on a piece of glass or something.”

(The guy looks up and notices the dog, and I see his eyes go wide.)

Guy: “Oh, s***. No, he’s not mine, but I know whose he is, and he’s definitely not supposed to be out here alone. He’s only seven months old.”

(Alarmed, we both head over to the German shepherd, and he lets me grab his collar after sniffing my hand. I find the broken-off clip from a leash.)

Me: “He must have snapped his leash or something. Do you have your phone, so we can call the family? I left mine on the charger.”

(The guy shakes his head, and with nothing else we can really do, we both wait with the dog. I have one hand on his collar, and the other petting him, trying to keep him calm. About five minutes later, a young girl, maybe 13 or 14, runs up, sobbing hysterically.)

Girl: “Oh, God, you found him! Is he okay? He broke his leash and r-ran out into the street, and he got hit by a car, and I didn’t know if he was d-dead, and I couldn’t find him! A-and my sister’s still at home, but I don’t have any way of getting him back there, and I can’t leave him here and-and oh, God, I don’t know what to d-do!”

Guy: “It’s okay. He’s hurt; he’s limping pretty badly, but he’s breathing okay.”

Me: “Run home and get your sister, and tell her to bring the car. We’ll stay here and make sure he’s okay.”

Girl: “Oh, God, are you sure? Th-thank you! Thank you so much!”

(She pets the shepherd and lets him sniff her, then goes tearing off down the street. The guy glances back at one of the apartment complexes bordering the park.)

Guy: “If I run and get my phone, can you keep an eye on the huskies for a minute?”

(I agree, so he carefully shuts both of his dogs in the park tennis court and sprints for the nearest building. He’s back less than three minutes later with his phone and his sister. She immediately takes charge of their huskies, and he starts Googling the nearest 24-hour animal ER. Throughout all of this, I’ve been petting and murmuring to the injured shepherd, trying to keep him calm, and he’s been so, so good. He’s clearly in pain and scared, but he doesn’t growl or snap once, just huddles as close to me as he can get. Finally, about ten minutes later, the young girl comes back.)

Girl: “My sister’s bringing the car, she’ll be here in a couple minutes. I can’t thank you guys enough for this.”

Guy: “Of course. I knew this guy wasn’t supposed to be out here alone; I wasn’t going to just leave him.”

Me: “God, of course. If my dog was hurt, I’d hope someone would help her until I could get there.”

(The girl hugs us both, and clears the garbage cans away from the park path so her sister can back straight into the park, traffic laws be d***ed. A minute later, her sister arrives, backing as close to us as she can get, before jumping out of the car to check on her dog.)

Sister: “How is he?”

Me: “His breathing’s okay, but his leg looks pretty bad, and he’s definitely in pain. The sooner you can get him to the vet, the better.”

Guy: “Here’s the address for the nearest emergency vet; it’s eleven minutes away. I already called, so they’ll be ready to x-ray him as soon as you arrive.”

Sister: “Oh, God, thank you. Thank you for staying with him.”

(We carefully lifted the dog into the backseat, and both sisters hugged us again before peeling out. I’d never met any of them before that night, and I haven’t seen them since, but I very much hope that they and their beautiful dog are okay! That night reminded me of something I heard a while back: in any crisis or disaster, look for the people helping.)

A Total Eclipse Of The Heart-Strings

, , , , , | Hopeless | September 12, 2017

The day of the 2017 Solar Eclipse, some friends and I carpooled out to our college for a viewing event. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they had run out of eclipse-viewing glasses. While there were volunteers walking around offering to let people borrow theirs for a few seconds each, I was still a bit upset, because I was hoping to get some as a keepsake for the event.

As I was informing my friends of this setback, a young girl, probably no older than ten, came up and tried to hand me her glasses, having overheard. I tried to decline, but she insisted, saying that she and her two companions could take turns with what they had. The companions didn’t seem bothered at all by the notion of sharing theirs. After a couple rounds of this, I relented and took them, thanking her repeatedly.

The eclipse was unforgettable, but her kind gesture was even more so.

The Best People To Be The Best Person With

, , , , , | Hopeless | September 10, 2017

My friend of 13 years was getting married. A few months before his wedding I came out as non-binary. I was my friend’s “best person,” and, knowing that weddings are very gendered, I told him and his fiancée that it was okay, I could still act “like a girl” for his events and their big day, and be referred to as such.

They said that it may not be necessary to do that, and they would do what they could so everyone, including me, would be happy and have a good time.

First, my friend asked which party I wanted to attend: the bachelor or bachelorette. He also listed me in the program and referred to me by the gender-neutral “best person” honorific, and his fiancée sent the tuxedo rental place information so they could get me a custom suit.

Finally, I sat down at the wedding dinner and saw that my place card said, “Mx.,” a neutral alternative to “Mr”. or “Ms.”!

I am still not out to everyone, due to family and work concerns, so being recognized in these ways, especially on their day, nearly made me cry.

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