Morgan’s Purse

I lost my dog Morgan about a month and a half ago. He was a homeless puppy when I first found him at the parking lot of the hospital where I work. He was dirty and afraid and I couldn’t believe that someone had left him to fend for himself. I took him home and he immediately became a part of the family. He woke me up every morning, wanting to play. When I got home from work, he wanted to play. He was awesome. I loved him. He had Parvo and I refused to let him suffer so I took him to the vet and put him to sleep. As I petted him and kissed his head and said my goodbye to him, I thought to myself how I would like to hospitalize him, hook him up to IV fluids, and pay whoever – however much it cost to make sure he came out of this but that just wasn’t reality.

morgan1

morgan

Not too long after Morgan’s passing, I went to see a client in a pretty crappy part of town. I went to the front door and knocked and no one answered. I knocked several more times and decided to wait 10 or 15 minutes. I was there to do a substance abuse assessment and I figured the client needed about 15 minutes to stir from her heroin induced slumber or possibly she had been doing meth for 3 days and was really, really, really sleepy now and had crashed and needed a few more minutes than the average person to put herself together. Either way, I waited. As I waited, I looked down at the end of the street and I noticed a medium sized, black, mangy dog. Normally, I would have not paid much attention to this dog but at that moment, I found myself just watching this dog. I noticed that it must have just had puppies and it was walking around all of the trash bins. When it came to a trash bin that was slightly open, it jumped up and using her nose, she pushed the lid the rest of the way open and started dragging trash out of this bin. She’d pull some trash out and start using her paws and nose to go through the trash and a couple times, she’d lick at a paper plate or a food wrapper. She kept going up and pulling out trash and going through these motions.

The other thing I noticed was that cars were just driving by, much like what I would have done. They weren’t paying attention to this animal and I thought to myself, “If the owner of this house comes out, they’re gonna really be pissed that there’s trash all over the front of their house and who knows what he’ll do to this poor starving dog.” I knew the dog had puppies somewhere and needed nourishment to continue feeding her pups. I found myself upset at this neighborhood. I decided to not wait on the drug addict that I had planned on seeing and drove closer to this dog. The closer I got, the more I could see her ribs. She really was starving and I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to watch this dog starve and scrounge for something to eat. I drove to the dollar store about 3 blocks away and purchased a bag of dog food. I went back and on one of the paper plates that the dog had been licking on, I poured a massive helping of dog food. I wished at that moment that I had a bowl for water but I didn’t. The dog watched me intently from a distance and as I drove away slowly, I noticed her walking up to the food and then starting to eat. I couldn’t take her home but I felt confident that she would have what she needed for the day.

I now keep a bag of dog food in both of my vehicles and over the last two weeks, I’ve fed 4 hungry dogs. I encourage everyone who reads this to stop at your local dollar store, spend a few bucks and throw some dog food into your trunk. If you’re like me, you can’t take that dog home but when you see a hungry dog, searching for food, you’ll remember that the food is there and you’ll stop and take care of that dog, at that moment. This is Morgan’s legacy.

dog at HEB kostoryz

dog at memorial

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All Dogs Go To Heaven

I picked up my children from school yesterday and we made our monthly trip to a little shop called My Favorite Muffin. After leaving the muffin shop, we were on our way to take one of their friends home and the conversation of my oldest daughter’s religion class came up. Somewhere in the midst of that conversation, my oldest daughter said, “I don’t care what my teacher says, I believe that dogs go to heaven.” Being someone that has owned dogs all my life, I agreed and said that dogs have a distinct personality, which tells me that they have a soul, which in turn leads me to believe that they do go to heaven. On top of that, I believe that Heaven is a perfect place, full of happiness and where there is no stress and no worry. I can’t imagine a place full of happiness without the love of a dog.

There are brief moments in my day when I experience that happiness and whatever amount of stress I’m under goes away. One of those moments is when I walk in the door to my home and my two dogs meet me at the door, jumping on me and wagging their tails, waiting on me to give them their chicken treats. Jackie and Lulu are sisters and I always refer to them as “my girls.” We got them from a friend and when we saw the group of five puppies, we had to get both of them. Something about their personalities that jumped out at us, even as puppies. We always referred to Jackie as “the smart one” and Lulu as “the cute dumb one.” Sarah, my middle child, is like me. She’s the animal lover in the house. She always says she wants to be a veterinarian. She spent time trying to teach the dogs trick and was, for the most part unsuccessful. She was able to teach Lulu to sit and she managed to teach Jackie to stand on her hind legs and turn in circles. Regardless, neither of the girls learned to fetch. Whenever the girls would escape from the house or the back yard, they would stick together. Jackie would keep an eye on Lulu and when we would go out on the front porch to call the dogs to come home, Jackie would come running and most times she would leave Lulu behind. I would tell her, “go get your sister” and Jackie would run back out and it was like she was telling Lulu, “Come On! They’re calling us!” just like little girls playing with friends down the block, and they’d both come running.

Over the last couple of days, Jackie was looking depressed. We knew she didn’t feel good. She wasn’t wagging her tail and she didn’t want to get off her bed. At 10:30 last night we decided to take Jackie to the emergency room. After blood work and urinalysis, the doctor gave us the bad news and without going into detail, I ended up having to make the decision to end Jackie’s pain. She had several problems and we were surprised to find out that she didn’t seem to be sick until the very end. I feel strongly that she was sick for a while but because she was such a happy dog and always needing to look out for her sister, she held on and ignored a lot of the pain she was in. Her tail kept on wagging even on those days that she didn’t feel like it and every time her sister went out the back door, she knew that she had to go out there and keep an eye on her.

We brought Jackie home last night and I put her on the sofa wrapped in a towel while I woke up the kids and let them know about their dog. We all cried and I spoke with them about the reality of having animals in the family and the inevitable difficulty of losing them. I told the kids that they could see Jackie one last time before I buried her if they wanted to and they chose to not remember her wrapped in a towel but running around the house and sitting on top of the sofa, peering out of the front window, waiting to bark at the mail man. Lulu walked around the house, searching for her sister. I let the kids know that it was going to be important to give Lulu extra attention. Sarah put Lulu in her bed and cried herself to sleep and I laid Jackie to rest between the two plumerias against the side fence. How fortunate we were to enjoy Jackie over the last four years and the unconditional love of a dog. Regardless of my daughter’s religion teacher’s opinion, I’ll look forward to seeing her again.

To a Father who will soon be missing his Son…

It’s 1:20 in the morning.  Tomorrow I go back to my old schedule.  I’ve been working nights for the past several months and it has taken a toll on me.  I worked nights for years as a cop and again for years in the same psychiatric unit where I am now.  I’m not 22 years old anymore and my body clock is screaming at me telling me to stop abusing it.  So, after being awake all night last night, sleeping until 2pm, waking up, seeing 4 clients in the afternoon, eating dinner with the wife and another couple, everyone in my house is asleep and I sit here, deep in introspection, needing to pass 30 or 40 minutes of time that I know it will take to convince my brain that it needs to start slowing down.

An interesting thing happened tonight while we were at dinner.  Everyone sat at their tables, conversing with family and friends.  Waiters and restaurant staff went back and forth dealing with the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant and in the middle of it all, a loud chime went out.  It was a man at a table directly behind where we were sitting.  He was tapping his glass with his knife.

“Can I have everyone’s attention?  Hello….Can I have everyone’s attention!  I want to make a toast!”

I thought this guy was drunk, maybe he was?  Regardless, the words he said stopped everyone cold.

“I want to make a toast……to my son.  He leaves for Iraq this weekend.”  He looks down at his son and says, “I love you son and I’m proud of you.”

A lump formed in my throat and my eyes welled up with tears.  I looked at my wife and her eyes were watering.  I wanted to get up and go over to this father and son, hug them both and tell them “Thank You.”  Thank you to the son for serving his country and Thank you to the father for sharing that moment with us. We drift off at times, living in our own worlds, dealing with the problems of our own lives while Fathers and Mothers are telling their children good-bye like this on a regular basis.  It  helps to put things in perspective.  My heart is heavy for this father right now and although I don’t know him, I’ll pray for his son and his safe return.

My Son

My son just woke up and in a daze, walked into my office.  “Is everything ok son?”

“yeah” (in a slow voice with his eyes halfway shut)

“go back to sleep son and i’ll come in and give you a kiss before I go to sleep.”

“I love you dad” (as he turns and walks back to his bedroom)

“I love you too son.”

Several years ago my son and I got into the habit of writing letters to one another.  Of course, because I live on the computer, most of my notes were typed.  He would write me stories and ask me what I thought.  This is my encouragement to fathers…build those moments because eventually…they will be gone and we’ll have the memories. I wanted to share one of his stories and one of my letters to him.

I’ll finish this entry with a toast to my father.  I think you did a great job Dad.  My son is a caring little boy with a good heart.  I followed your lead and I try to do everything for him that you did with me.   I’m proud to be your son.

My Dad