12.12.2014

one and two

Since my lat promo I've been a lot busier than normal. I've been not only learning a whole different set of procedures, but building relationships with 19 new dogs. Technically it's really only 18 since one of the dogs came from my old area. In addition to that I'm also taking on the challenge reorganizing things a bit. That's not to say they're unorganized, but there's always room for improvement.

The buildings are older, smaller, and lack some of the amenities the newer ones (I had worked in prior) posses. Such as radiant floor heating, a bathroom, and paving around the entirety of the octagon. There is heating but it's a small ceiling mounted space heater which does a decent job with it's only downfall being that it's kind of loud when running. Not that you can hear it when something gets the dogs riled up. A lot of sand gets tracked in by human and dog alike so things are always kinda gritty in there.

This area gets less volunteers due to there being purple and red collar dogs present in addition to green. We have a lot of kids with behavioral issues and/or bad habits where they only get to be worked with by the caregivers and/or trainers. At least until they learn how to be good canine citizens. Yes, it is possible that some never do. Those who don't remain at the sanctuary where they can live out their lives. The lessened volunteer count allows me more time to work with the dogs versus my old area. This is great because this is (in part) what I came here for.

One unexpected side effect in getting more dog time is that I've been eating like a horse and still managing to lose weight. I spent a lot more time walking/training than before and it also being winter means I'm burning more calories as a result.

I can't say enough about becoming part of the Dogtown team. They've taken me under their wing, helped me at every turn, and teach me something new every day. This really is a special place in more ways than just the obvious ones.

11.29.2014

she's gone


My 30 days were up as of last Thursday and I had to decide whether to adopt or not. It was a very difficult one to make. In the end I decided to let her go. Ultimately I wanted her to have a home, a real home, and not the vagabond home I'd brought her into. I know intellectually that she doesn't care where she lives, but I couldn't come to terms with it. What got to me was that I knew I could still make a choice for her, so I did. We loved each other to no end. Bridgette even put on her best behavior while she was here. I learned today, after Pippi went to her forever home, that B was on her best behavior. I don't know if it was for me or her, but I'm glad that she had enough sense to even do it. B did pin her once but P was acting like a little cunt so it was deserved.


I do and will miss the munchkin, but know that she's getting a better life. Turns out another staff worker was looking for a small dog and P was a perfect fit. We had another intro but the two of them got along just fine. I am sad that this didn't work out for us, but I do believe that (in the future) I'll be meeting a dog that I simply cannot live without. I love Pippi dearly but didn't feel the attachment with her that I have with my current and past dogs. And so this chapter ends and another one begins.

11.26.2014

four seconds


The organization I work for and I Thanking everyone for all of their donations and adoptions. Oh and you can see Miss Magnolia and myself at time index 1:39-42. This means I've used up about 6-7 seconds of my 15 minutes of fame so far.

11.21.2014

filmed

So on the second day of training in my new area, I and one of our dogs were filmed for an upcoming documentary. I asked about and learned that it's a follow up story about the Michael Vick dogs which will premiere at the next Sundance. Even though I already know what's been happening with them, it should be fun to see it on screen. Keystone (the dog) and I were filmed during her feeding and doing a couple of tricks together. She's an adorable big brown furry dog with floppy ears, and I'll skip me since most of you already know what I look like. It'll be about three months to see if I made the final cut or not. Whatever the case, it was fun for the both of us. Keystone loved eating like a queen and getting a ton of treats that morning. I simply love getting to do what I do for a living now.

11.16.2014

lateral promotion

Last week my team lead informed me that she volunteered me to move to a different area in Dogtown. Technically this is a step up even though I'll be doing the same job. The step up is that I'll get to work with multi color collared dogs. The area I currently work in has only green collared dogs. Green signifying that they're good dogs. The other colors are purple and red, which means there are deeper issues in varying degrees with the dogs. Additional trade offs is that I'll be working with less volunteers in the new versus old area. The big plus is that this satisfies one of the requirements for me to make Dog Caregiver Tier 2 which ultimately equates to more pay. Not that I'm doing this for the money, but the starting pay was a considerable cut from what I used to make. Anything more makes life a bit easier.

This kind of move is not unheard of but unexpected since people aren't normally moved from one area to another until they've worked approx. nine months to a year at least. I've been on board for five to date. I've got to assume that they either think I'm doing a great job and beating the learning curve, or are out to get me bit to where I quit. I'm going with the more positive assessment. My move is set to take place sometime next week. My journey into the world of animal welfare is taking another step. Good times!

11.08.2014

wintertime

... and the livin is freezie. The temps have been gradually dropping over the last few months up until two weeks ago when we got a nasty cold snap. We were relying on the furnace to thaw us out for those first couple of weeks in the mornings. I had just refilled my propane tank about 2 weeks prior when we ran out again. Normally my propane lasts about a month which made the furnace the obvious culprit, and underscored the need for an alternative heat source. My neighbors turned me onto a popular space heater w/thermostat made by Lasko. I ordered mine thru Amazon, and can't say enough good things about it. The furnace and Lasko are on par in every way except that the Lasko is much quieter and uses less of it's required fuel to operate. This unit isn't ideal for boondocking since you'd be required to run your generator all night to power it, but it has it's advantages for those on shore power.



There is one other thing that came out of this experience. My sister learned that she, as an Amazon Prime member, can invite family members to share in some of the Prime benefits. Basically she sent me an invite from her account which grants me free two day shipping and prime early access to deals (30 minutes) for one year. So if any of you out there have family member with Prime (that doesn't hate you) they can sign you up so you can get the free two day shipping. Granted most of the time I'm not in a rush and use super saver shipping instead. However not all items qualify even for that whereas I see these items listed under prime. For example. I've been wanting to make spam musubi for a while now, but kept avoiding it because my spam cuts were always uneven. And yes, I'm aware of how trivial this is but I like my spam cut evenly. It was possible to now order and not have to pay equal or more than the price of the item in shipping costs. 


Things at work are progressing very well for me. And just for fun I even made it into one of our success story adoption videos (40 seconds in).



11.07.2014

intro

We had to postpone it, but only by an hour. In the end I was more worried about it than Bridgette and Gigi were. B could care less, and didn't even care to react when G growled at her while sitting in my lap. The remedy for that is simply pushing the growler off your lap. The girls are getting along and no fights have broken out to date. We're all taking baby steps together for the next few weeks.


A week later G turned out to be a bit destructive when I had to leave her/them alone. She's now crated during those times. The casualties were a pair of throw pillows that were coming apart at the seams already, two collars, and a cheap dish washing brush. She also was a bit of a yapper during my absences, but the behavior has subsided with time. She gains confidence with each of my returns. 


The adoption coordinator astutely sized me up and called this a long term "foster to adopt". After bringing her home I started to wonder if I did the right thing. I know this is normal for any adoption/foster situation. Here's what I mean though. B has been with me for almost a decade in a variety of living situations. She & I wouldn't dream of being anywhere without each other. However G still has a choice, at least as far as I can make for the time being. I feel she deserves a proper home, and am wrestling with submitting her to the mobile lifestyle. Intellectually I understand that it makes no difference to G where she lives. She's just happy to be with me. My reasons against are purely emotional, and I get that. 


I feel the kid deserves the best, and as you can see from the pictures she won't have any trouble being adopted. The time she's spending with us is benefiting her. So, if anything we're teaching her some good manners and skills that she'll be able to take with her to her forever home should I decided not to adopt. Whatever the outcome there have been no major catastrophes and we're starting week two together. More baby steps ...

10.29.2014

petites choses


These are the things that make a life, and the last few weeks has seen a string of them. One of the first things was a long standing problem for me. My faucet had spring leaks. At first it took place at the stem base, but as time went on leaks sprang up all along the faucet line. My first choice for replacement didn't work out as planned.



It was my second that worked out. The first was metal and you can (partially) didn't work out. The main reason why it didn't work was because of the type of tubing used. In short it wasn't flexible as was the sink pictured above.


I wound up having to go with another plastic faucet (like the original) which has worked out. So far. I wanted to go with the metal replacement but didn't have the tools needed to make this work. Namely a blow torch to make a hole where it was most needed. I made due with the plastic. Mostly it was the cost and some logic. I had used the original a few scant times where it had time to dry out. This is most likely what led to its demise. I'm hoping that I'm in a position of constant use now is what keeps the new one going.


Bridgette and I have been plugging along and are keeping focused. However there has been a slight snag. Ok, it's not really a snag so much as life happening as it always does. In the pic above, you can see that B takes seriously whatever I do. That serious thing happens to be a new girl/sister. We learned two days ago that a recent adoptee was returned. This particular adoptee was very fond of me. I'm taking this return as a sign of fate and will be adopting her very soon. First we have an intro with her and B. Before I go on, here's Gigi.


I digress. B and G have an intro. This has to happen even with the best of behaved dogs. I happened to insist on it based on my knowledge of my girl. Gigi is only two years old and happens to have the same personality as B did at that age. I know that B has not (historically) gotten along with any dogs of the same mind as hers. I'm hoping old age has mellowed her out. We'll find out in two days either way. So sorry as I am to leave you with a cliffhanger like this ... please stay tuned for how this plays out.

10.16.2014

quicksand

Sometime in late July they had to dig up, remove, and replace the sewage plumbing in my spot. The RV park was built in the 1950's and tree roots had finally pinched the pipes. There were a few blockages that were snaked leading up to the final discovery. The snake would not push thru and there was mud on the tip when it was pulled back.

This is what caused an entirely different problem for me almost two months later. At the time I had moved for a few days while it was repaired. In mid to late August monsoon season hit and there was some settling of the earth which was expected. It wasn't until the last storm of the season hit three weeks ago that I almost lost my trailer to the earth. Unfortunately I only had time to shoot the one photo below before I went into crisis mode and had to save my trailer.


It was my weekend off and had been pouring rain nonstop for a day and a half. Technically it was my Sunday. I was left in the morning to run my usual weekend errands and returned around lunch. I made a nice bowl of clam chowder and settled in to watch a few episodes of Orange is the New Black. I think about four or five hours had passed when I finally stood up and noticed that the trailer seemed to be leaning towards the driver side. I went outside to check and saw that my leveler wasn't visible and my tire had sank. I live between the park managers and consulted them for advice. We were surprised that it had sank at all given all the storms we've had in between thus far and all agreed that it wouldn't sink any more. A minute after I climbed back in I felt the trailer shift downward on that side again. When I jumped out to look, the bottom half of my tire wasn't visible. Panic mode kicked in and I scrambled to unhook and move it as fast as I could. When I did, I was able to move it forward about a tire length and had only created a canal. The upside to that is that my sewage pipes weren't snapped off, with the downside being that I was almost flat on the ground on that side. I managed to back up enough to slip a short board with some rocks underneath and climb back onto firmer land. I moved temporarily to another spot for a few days while they fixed it. In addition to more gravel a lot of road base was applied to the trench which makes the earth set more like concrete. I'm back in my old spot again and have been for a few weeks now. 

It's good to be terra firma again!

10.13.2014

my hill

It's a topsy-turvy world, and maybe the problems of two people don't amount to a hill of beans. But this is our hill. And these are our beans! - Frank Drebin

Since starting anew, I've been crawling thru my journey into the world of animal welfare.  Despite my being a noob (again), past experience has helped to minimize rookie mistakes. It's always taken me about three months to feel comfortable in any new job. Dogtown has been no exception despite it also being a new and different career than the one prior. There have been many challenges and subsequent successes along the way which confirmed that I'd made the right choices. This isn't to say that there haven't been any downsides.

I earn about a third of what I used to. This in of itself isn't bad in lieu of my starting out with a lack of debt. However the town I live in is a bit of a tourist trap which equates to slightly higher prices for your average goods. I get around that by my monthly trips to the Walmart an hour away. I know a lot of people are in favor of supporting mom'n'pop places over big box stores, but I say screw that and you too. People gotta make the most of what they've got and if mom'n'pop can't compete then so be it. There are a few local business' who don't out-price the locals which is where I spend my money instead. It's also harder to save, but I feel this is temporary since I started out entry level. As I work my way up the ladder here, my pay scale will follow accordingly.

One of the fringe benefits I've recently experienced is that some volunteers understand and appreciate how much we work versus how little we earn. They treat us to meals and/or gifts to help make life a little more pleasant. It's the personal interaction with them and the animals that makes the experience worthwhile.

Living in a small town versus a large city definitely reduces the convenience factor which is almost doubled when you couple it with it being in a Mormon state. The upside is that I'm not, nor have been in a very long while, into the nightlife. I'm happy with my TV shows, a good book, or some Xbox time indoors.

My trailer has buckled (if ever so slightly) under the strains of full time living. I've answered those calls and made reparations as/when needed. She's still holding tough while providing B and myself safe haven. We even managed to avoid potentially disastrous quicksand episode two weeks ago.

Looks like we've got more catching up to do than I'd thought. More to come!

10.01.2014

my my

... how time flies. It's been four months fifteen days since I arrived here with little more than my possessions and a (loose) plan to start a new life. In that time it took me 38 days to go from volunteer to employee at Best Friends, This is something I later learned is not as easy a thing to do as it was for me. As I wound my way through the hiring process I came to really learn how fortunate I was. The sanctuary receives approximately 7000+ applicants per year, and if you don't have any prior animal experience you're sorted out immediately. This explains why I never heard back from them when I applied last February. Turns out my idea of volunteering until I was hired or asked to leave the premises never to return again was a good one.

I've been learning a great deal about dog behavior, body language, and training techniques in my first three months here. The education has been informative if not humbling at the very least.

As far as things with my family. I don't expect them to ever make the effort to visit me. I mean my parents mainly since they never made the effort when I lived in Texas for four years. Sissy and the nephew did and I know they will come here when they can. I'm a little hurt by this because I wanted them to see me truly happy (for once) in my new life. In recognizing the reality of their never coming to see me I also came to the conclusion that they really don't care enough to begin with.

8.30.2014

my dad

 ... is a dick. When I say that I mean it in the worst way possible. I wish I could blame his recent behavior on the Type 2 diabetes he's got, but he's managing it through medicine and a strict diet. I learned from my sister that he accused my mother of having an affair with the Mexican handyman whom she hired to replace the kitchen sink/faucet. She's not, nor has she ever btw. This isn't the first time either. He made the same accusation years ago when she was helping out a nephew who once had a crush on her. He was six when he had said crush, and she is his godmother. Mom, to her credit, has not bothered to tell me about what's transpired since I left.

There is something seriously wrong with my father's thought making paradigm. I picked up on it when I was there a few months ago. He wouldn't go to his scheduled medical exams and would postpone or just  reschedule only to cancel in the end. Instead, he'd sit there and watch his kung fu soap operas endlessly. He even got angry at me once when I asked him why he canceled an appointment, and then started prattling on about where the money would come from to treat him if something was wrong. This was around the same time that my mother had her breast lump scare where he consoled her by saying if she died she'd have nothing to worry about. I've often told my mother to leave him and just move on. She didn't and won't.

I prefer to keep things in a positive light but I can only take so much before I need to unload. I tried to help to the best of my ability during my stay with them, but they're fucking crazy. This goes way beyond my ability or desire to even want to understand why people choose to live their lives in such a shitty way. For a (short) time I felt kind of crappy that my family wouldn't ever make it out to visit me, now I'm glad.

8.22.2014

small town livin'


I've come to learn something about many of my coworkers in the short time I've lived here. Many of them don't keep up with the news which I just can't fathom why. Maybe it's me whose choosing to not let what happens in the world go. I'm not sure which yet. I have noticed that many of them lead seemingly happier lives though. This has made me wonder if it's because they choose to purposely not follow what's going on in the world outside here and focus solely on their lives that makes that happiness possible. I don't consider myself to be a miserable person, nor am I excessively happy. Lemme reel it back in before I start pontificating. I haven't found my life here to be any different here than any other place I've lived in before. The only differences I've noticed so far is that it's just a smaller version and with a few less choices when compared to a larger city. In short, it's what I'd expected all along. While I do miss some conveniences of a larger city, I wouldn't dream of trading them for what I've got now. I'm lucky in that I found the perfect place to live and work in for this time in my life.


As for my coworkers. Many of them are very focused with what goes on in the animal rescue world and that some people suck. I am too, but not on the almost evangelical level some of them are on. I'm more focused on learning a new craft and how I can do it to the best of my abilities. Learning to care for the dogs has been fairly easy in of itself, but like any craft there are a million little details that take time and experience to learn. I do think that some people suck when it comes to how they treat their animals, and firmly believe karma will visit them in kind. Since I could care less about fixing bad people, I've instead chosen to save the world by helping to rescue dogs from them.


Dog is my copilot!

Shelter by Ray LaMontagne on Grooveshark

8.17.2014

a weekend in the life

The me time is paying off and I'm feeling centered, or re-centered. To do that I sequestered myself in the trailer and played a lot of xbox. In fact I xbox'd my brains out, and it felt great! That wasn't all I did though. I had some chores which I took care of along with some shopping (in town & online). The chores were mainly my laundry, wash the dish, and some sweeping. You gotta love living in a small space. It takes all of about 10 minutes to deep clean the place.

I finally picked up a small mirror which puts an end to me missing spots when I'm shaving. Luckily no one really notices it cause of the Asian genes/light hair growth. I also picked up a toilet scrub brush at the dollar store. Not that anything was bad there so much as this just makes cleaning easier. Online, I ordered a small rice cooker and dog hammock for the backseat of my truck. It's not that my job requires me to use my own vehicle to transport dogs, but I have been lately. We have a golf cart assigned to our area that we use for that purpose but it's out for repairs. This was something I meant to get for Bridgette because I'm tired of the extra effort required to remove dog hair from the upholstery. The rice cooker wasn't something I needed to order since I left one behind in storage at the parents house. However, it is older and doesn't have the additional steamer tray that the new one does. I'm sure the cost of shipping the old one here would probably be the same as the new one from Amazon. 

I'm looking forward to winter arriving as it's currently monsoon season here. I love the cool rainy days and am over the hot sunny ones. 


8.08.2014

nothing's wrong

This is a me thing. At least that's what I've been telling myself all this time. Every now and then I'll feel like I've worn out my welcome with any and every living thing around me. When this happens I usually sequester myself in my domicile and do whatever will help me feel normal again. Usually (these days) it's me getting in some Xbox time or watching an old show on Netflix from beginning to end. I haven't done either of those since arriving here, which I only now realized has been the longest stretch in-between to date. This is a good overall, but not great since I still need to pull away. I only say this because part of me thinks that it's abnormal to need time away. Now I know this isn't reality, but still can't shake the feeling when it hits. Today is the first weekend day, but somehow the feeling still managed to hit and blanket me. I'm thinking that I'll get done what I need to out in town and the lock myself in while avoiding all calls and texts. Me time!

Despite my mental hindrances, I did manage to have a productive day today. The highlights consisted of my trying out another restaurant for breakfast in town, some quality Ingress game time, and getting Bridgette in for a vet visit. They did a physical examination, a blood draw, and aspirations. The PE showed her to be in great health/weight, I'm waiting on the results of the blood draw still, and her two new lumps turned out to be lipomas (again). The other thing that B had looked at was her teeth. She's low on the totem pole, but is on the list for a cleaning. This and the other stuff is good news to me. I'm on the right track in how I care for and feed her.

I decided to nix the part that used to be here. I had a moment of weakness when I wrote it originally, but I came to my senses. Yes, I still think my beagle's doctor is cute. Let's just leave it at that.

I feel fine.

Its the end of the world as we know it by REM on Grooveshark

7.31.2014

dog days


It's been almost a month since I became a full time employee at Best Friends. I'm loving every minute and every experience I've had so far. Sure there have been one or two unpleasant ones, but the good far outweighs any bad. And the bad is barely bad at that. As you can see, Bridgette is very comfortable with her new routine. I am too. I'm still training but am now working my regular schedule instead of the training one. What's real nice is how well I'm getting to know the dogs in my area. I'm getting to learn from the trainers and help create plans to teach the dog's acceptable behaviors so that they become more adoptable.

Before coming out I was able to make a few friends via Ingress which made for an easier time in getting to know the town from a local perspective. Now that I'm working I've become friends with some of my many coworkers. I didn't used to mix work with my personal life because I'd always lived in larger cities. I only did it to keep my life uncomplicated, but now that I'm living small town I'm finding it harder to keep them separate.

The weather has been hot, but not unbearably so. We're in the high desert so the temps average in the low 90's where it's nice and dry. It is monsoon season so we do get sudden and heavy downpours with an accompanying temperature drop of about 20°.

7.20.2014

life is good


I've been very busy lately since I started working full time and training in my assigned area of Dogtown, Old Friends. Hence why the bunny filled in for me when it came to picture time. I didn't take the picture, it was a selfie by Bridgette. I swear it. You're not here and can't prove otherwise!

My future discussions about what takes place will be limited to whatever does not violate the NDA that I'd signed with Best Friends. It's simply a sign of the times and not unusual at all. This is why I was purposely vague anytime I spoke of my former employer, and will do the same with the most current. Anything I speak of will pertain mainly to my personal experiences with the dogs I work with from here on out, but may also be about any public initiatives we're working on.

The last week and a half has been a whirlwind of info regarding my new responsibilities mixed in with the procedures and policies surrounding my new job. The amount of incoming info fried my brain so I've spent the weekend's decompressing in any way possible. With the exception of taking care of a few chores I spent most of the time vegging out in the trailer watching random episodes of Scrubs on Netflix. I did help out a friend or two.

I do have one piece of sad news. The RV park manager who I was helping out by way of premium food for her diabetic pooch, had passed away last weekend. His decline happened so fast that it took us all by surprise. I can say that he was much peppier the last few weeks before his sudden passing.

This past weekend was about thanks and food for me. I cooked dinner for some of the coworkers who helped me land this job, as well as treating one of three couples who act as park managers to a nice BBQ dinner. They look after Bridgette while I'm at work and have been gracious enough to walk her and fire up the AC in the trailer when needed.

A hard lump formed in my thigh from the dog bite I suffered during my working interview a few weeks ago. Since I was covered under workman's comp I decided to err on the side of caution and get it checked out. The lump was determined to be a hematoma by the doctor, who also prescribed me a large dose of antibiotics just in case. The bruising had begun to dissipate the week after and my leg is looking normal again. The lump has started shrinking and I should be off the AB's by next week.

I've cleared some of the initial and easier of hurdles with the new lifestyle/career and await my upcoming challenges patiently.

In the meantime. Life is good.

Home at Last by Steely Dan on Grooveshark

7.07.2014

how I got here

When I left Texas last year I had three plans. I never discussed them as directly as I'm about to now. Mostly because I hadn't figured out how I wanted to prioritize each one. The time I spent with the folks in CA is what helped me to sort this all out. This was, amid the chaos of living with and having your parents idiosyncrasies push you right back towards insanity. So my three plans, in no particular order, were ...

  • Volunteer at Best Friends until I get hired or banished from the premises.
  • Work camp at various parks/work seasonally at Amazon and live as a drifter.
  • Pursue any possible entry level employment at the American Prairie Reserve.

The eleven months I spent in Irvine helped me work thru the pros and cons of each plan. I realized a few years ago that I wanted to work with animals in any way possible making BF & APR my first two choices. They also both lent themselves to living full time in my RV minus the mobility of the final work camping option. Although the APR option would only work during the Spring/Summer/Fall seasons given the harsh Winters in Montana which wouldn't work in a travel trailer. What really helped me narrow it down was when I was taking care of Oreo and getting her back to a healthy place in life. That and trying to tolerate life in OC again.

The conclusion was reached in December of last year as I was fleshing out the final details. The delay in February with sissy also worked in favor of what I'd decided on. It gave me more time to research all I needed to know about where I would be living.

Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads on Grooveshark

7.05.2014

the eval: week two

Day Six & Seven
This time I was at a place called Hall & Hermosa's (or 3 & 4 to staff). Most of you should be up to date on what happened to me there the morning of from my Owie post. The rest of the day was spent in learning about the dogs and routine there. I walked and worked with various dogs there on their training. Yes that includes Dwayne who bit me. In particular I really enjoyed the work I did with Julio (whom I kept calling Don Julio for some odd reason) who was a shy one. I was really pleased that he responded well to me and even started to come up to the gate when he heard my voice. The other shy one was called Ranger. He took a little more work in that he was a 2 steps forward 1 step back kind of shy dogs. The sad thing that set apart the second day was when Julio's run mate had to be put down. Her name was French Hen. She was a lab mix dog who graced this earth for sixteen years. And she was a tough old broad too! She arrived at Best Friends two years prior with cancer, suffered a snake bite, a bout with pneumonia, and finally lost the fight to a cyst on her spleen that had begun to bleed. Due to her advanced age it was inoperable. I got to say goodbye to her before she was assisted in crossing the Rainbow Bridge. This is one of the other occupational hazards for the caregivers. It really is a crime that dog's don't get to live as long as we do.

Day Eight
I was back at the Fairway for just one day. This was a true pleasure because, even though I'd been gone for almost a week, I was able to settle right back into the routine without too much issue. Most of the day was routine with the exception of one thing. Today I got to see the trainers/caregivers do an "Intro". The easiest way to explain is that this is where two (or more) dogs get to interview each other as potential new roommates. If all goes well then they'll live together until adopted. This Intro went well and they got along well. The standing resident had to learn some new boundaries, but adapted quickly.

Day Nine & Ten
My final two days were spent at a place called The Clubhouse, and I'll start off with the first day being smoother than the second. Most of it was shadowing and learning the routine. Many of the dogs here have very special and very specific needs. There was something special that I was allowed to witness. I promise that I'll post about it later on when I've had more time to process it. I was told that I'd done an excellent job on my first day. My second, well, lets just say I made a few mistakes. Nothing major, but I was jittery given that this was (possibly) my final day. It's the waiting that kills me. Early in the morning I was told that I had an exit interview with one of the managers at 3pm which only made the day seem that much more longer.

3PM Exit Interview with the Manager
I arrived early and made my way into the office. She gave me a summary of the reviews from everyone I worked under as well as those in passing during my eval period. First she covered my strengths, and then weaknesses. Everything was in line with what I'd thought and felt about my experience level. In short I was offered the position of Dog Caregiver, and I graciously accepted. We agreed on my start date, and I returned to the Clubhouse to finish out my day.


7.03.2014

pay day

I got to collect my paycheck a day early since it's the 4th of July tomorrow. This is the first paycheck I've received in over a year. It's considerably less than what I used to earn and much more physically demanding than my prior career. However the personal reward of this kind of work is far greater (in my opinion) and well worth the effort. I wish I could offer a more succinct description of what I'm feeling here. I don't think I can and can only describe it as trying to explain colors to a blind person.

Tomorrow is the last day of my evaluation so I won't know until the end of the day, or quite possibly by Monday, if I passed the evaluation and landed the position of dog caregiver.

Bullet Boys - For The Love Of Money.mp3 by BulletBoys on Grooveshark

7.02.2014

black and blue

So my little nibble from Dwayne (the dog) wasn't quite finished with me. As the pain went from owie, to a little sore, to nothing at all ... well ... the color deepened in stark contrast.


The nice lady proprietor of the local herbal remedy store turned me onto something called Arnicare Cream to help with the bruising. The results of it's effectiveness are (still) widely open for debate on the internet, but I figured "what the hell" and decided to try it. This was after I tried using the traditional cold compress on day one, heat wrap on day two, and keeping my leg elevated all the while. None of these things kept the bruise from setting in the way it did. Now to be perfectly fair the bruise is near the part of  my leg where the femoral artery is located. Couple that with my working a job where I'm on my feet for eight hours a day, and it's no wonder these kinds of bruises always take longer to heal. Hence why I took said steps and then escalated the treatment. It's not a matter of vanity since my shorts cover it completely (standing and/or seated). The real issue is that I'm in the middle of turning the corner from young to old and my body just doesn't bounce back as fast as it used to. I don't feel (that) old yet and it kind of bugs me that my body isn't keeping in time with the brain. So in short I'm doing what everyone does at this point in their lives ... cheating the effects of old age by any means available!

Black and Blue by Van Halen on Grooveshark

6.30.2014

owie

Quarter for scale

So today this happened to me. Every career path has it's occupational hazards, and this one is mine. Here's the story behind it. The picture is of my right inner thigh. The dog who bit me (Dwayne) was not being aggressive so much as very mouthy. He just happens to be a big dog. Lucky for me he bit over my shorts and never punctured them and ultimately me. The incident took place as I was attempting to enter the kennel to return one of the pups that lives there. I did everything I was supposed to. I waited outside the gate until the dogs inside calmed down. It was when I opened the gate to walk in that Dwayne tried to barge his way out. I stopped with half of me inside and half out. That's when he got mouthy with me. I shouted "OW OW OW" which is when he let go and ran to place himself on his bed. I backed out, closed the gate, and waited outside until the primary caregiver returned. It doesn't hurt anywhere near as bad as it might look. It's really only a little sore. And yes, I know my leg is dirty. That's what a day in the hot sun and sand of Dogtown will do to you.

I was supposed to walk him after returning the other dog I had brought back (Jojo). I did almost walk him an hour after the incident, but he was still in a state of high arousal. I felt iffy about him so we canceled the walk. Later that afternoon I, and the primary caregiver, went into the kennel together to work with him. He was leashed and watched by her. We worked on some clicker sit & down training to patch things up. His energy then was much calmer. I wasn't scared at any time before or after so much as I really only wanted to avoid a repeat incident.

I view this as kind of like getting a scratch on a new car. I knew it was bound to happen and am just glad that I've gotten it out of the way. I hope it doesn't happen again anytime soon, but again, this kind of thing comes with the territory. When I asked my trainer how I did, she said I did good despite today's challenges and recommended some dog body language classes. I'm definitely gonna take her up on that advice. I'm generally decent at reading dogs, but the classes won't hurt given that some of the dogs here came from some pretty extreme situations. Ultimately this is why I came here, to learn and help as many of these pup as I can.

You can just call me Bruised Lee for the next few days!

6.28.2014

the eval: week one

Day One
For my first day they had me attend the tour everyone else gets to see. First you watch a 15 minute video on what Best Friends is all about and what they do. Then you board a tour bus or van on a 90 minute scenic tour of the grounds while the guide explains the history and various places within the sanctuary. There are two stops on the tour with one at Dogtown, and Catworld for the other before returning to the visitors center. After the tour I drove to HR for my 30 minute orientation/paper sign-fest. Next up was lunch at the Angel Village Cafe for a healthy lunch (veggie) where I had another 90 minutes to kill. My final stop was Dogtown HQ where I met up with the Admin Assistant for a personal behind the scenes tour of Dogtown ending with another paper sign-fest back at HQ. The day was nonstop but easy.

Day Two & Three
I reported to the Fairway where I would be trained over the next two days. The first day where was a bit hectic which led us to falling behind that morning, but we were caught up well before lunchtime. The second day went very smoothly with us staying ahead of everything. What was nice was that I got to experience the other side of what goes on when you're not a volunteer. Some duties between a caregiver/volunteer do overlap, but not as much as I expected. I learned both opening/closing duties, food prep, giving medication, various Dogtown protocols, interacting with volunteers, report updates, and several other things I can't recall at the moment. All in all I'm exhausted with all I've done and taken in, but loved every single minute of it.

Day Four & Five
This time I reported to Maggie's. It was once a store but was converted to training facility from what I was told. The day here started off much like my first day at the Fairway, it was chaotic. To up the ante many of the tasks/chores here have to be done in very specific ways. Partly was because some of the dogs living there required special attention, and because of the layout of the building being different from other kennels. A lot of unexpected stuff came up that the trainer had to deal with which left me (at times) idle on the first day. I was able to jump in and do more on the second day since I'd been trained, and there were also less interruptions.

All in all I felt I did alright this week. I made a few mistakes along the way, but the trainers noted that I corrected myself before repeating them. One more week to go before I find out if I get to be a caregiver at Dogtown.



6.22.2014

crossing paths

When I left OC I wondered how long it would be before it happened. If not any of the blogs I follow directly, at least someone who happens to follow the same ones I might. Today was the day, and I'm hoping that this is the first of many happy encounters with other full timing bloggers. 

I just had the pleasure of meeting miss Becky who some of you may know from her blog InterstellarOrchard. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't followed her blog regularly but, in my defense, I do drop in once every few months to catch up. Ok I only learned about her blog about eight months ago where I read as much as I could at the time and then stopped figuring I would catch up again in another couple of months. No really, I swear it. For a minute I couldn't remember where I discovered her blog from, but all it took was the mention of The Good Luck Duck to remember. What a stuff!!!

my move

Turns out I didn't have to wait very long for that answer. On Tuesday (last week) another email arrived informing me of my start date along with some additional new employee information. Tomorrow morning is when I begin my two weeks with the last day landing on the 4th of July. The answer to whether I make it or not depends on if there's another two week'r scheduled to start after me. I hope that everything remains as swift as it's been, (so far) and receive another prompt & positive answer. If I do wait I'll simply throw myself back into the mix as a volunteer until the answer comes.

I took things a bit easier this week and only volunteered for three shifts at the sanctuary. Most of my downtime was spent taking care of  various housekeeping chores along with another minor repair. Living in a small space makes for quick and easier cleanups but it's something that still has to be done. My water brass pressure regulator died after only a handful of uses. I found a cheap plastic replacement which I'm hoping will fare better. I also had a backlog of emails, TV shows, and movies to get caught up on which made for a nice way to decompress. I even made a trip out to St George for some supplies while squeezing in some Ingress playtime.


Bridgette has been a real trooper thru all of this and has settled comfortably into her new routine. Kanab isn't a large town so a walk from where we live to the end of town takes us 20 minutes. It's actually 10 minutes, but I'm playing Ingress which slows the walk down a bit. As hot as it could be here, it's not that bad because there's almost always a nice and constant breeze helping to keep things cool. I've not yet had to break out the boots to deal with the ground being too hot. During one of our walks yesterday she ate something which upset her tummy. She woke me up twice last night and informed me that she had to hurl. We made it to the toilet both times and avoided a mess. The thing that makes what she did kind of incredible is that I'm a very sound sleeper and can sleep through anything. For whatever reason a few paw taps and then a body tremble wakes me right up. This morning she woke up, ate her breakfast, and seems none the worse for wear.

Your Move by Yes on Grooveshark

6.13.2014

plastic surgery

My rig is almost four years old and has taken good care of me despite my not having lived in it for very long. I bought and paid it off in a little over two years. The last month plus is the longest I've ever used it continuously. I'm thrilled that it's held up well in all that time. Ok, maybe not as well as I'd hoped for in some cases. The extreme weather conditions of some of the places I've lived/where it was stored did take it's toll here and there.


It's been four years, and the age issues have been minor for the most part. I did realize in retrospect that an RV cover might've helped out when in storage, but that's ok since I'm using the jebus outta it now. I figured today would be a good walk backwards to see some of the improvements made.


This was one of the first things I did to spruce it up. I added a back splash to my stove area shortly after purchasing it. I do love to cook and frying is very much a staple in Asian foods. It made sense, and was uber easy to do.


This is the first "repair" I've ever had on this rig. While I was hosted at the compound of my childhood bff Barry, I discovered that my AC had died. Barry spearheaded the repair efforts and rekindled my bravery into fixing shit on my own again. What can I say, I got lazy by paying people to fix the stuff I didn't have time or was too scared to do myself. So that day he went above and beyond the call (for me) and helped to not only determine what was wrong, but also in finding a replacement. As a result I was delayed by only a day. Thank you again Barry! I honestly would've spent more time and money on it had you not helped me.


The drive up here from Barry's was not without a few problems. I ran into some extreme wind conditions and my awning was not locked down properly. This resulted in some severe damage to it. I ordered an awning repair tape which didn't help, and only made matters worse. I removed it all, and went an entirely different route. One of the RV park managers here helped and intro'd me to the redneck repair school. It worked better than expected and my awning has not torn a stitch more since. Its not the prettiest, but I really don't care since it's fixed. It's even held up to some of the more severe wind gusts this town is prone to.


This was more of an upgrade. Anyone whose lived long enough in an RV/TT knows that black water tanks sometimes backup in the odor department. After living in mine for more than a month, mine did. I purchased and owned the Cyclone well before arriving here. I procrastinated on it's installation, but finally got around to it a few weeks ago. Worth it! It really works. Do it if you can't deal with the poo smells.


This last upgrade is known as the Bagua mirror. It's kind of a Feng Shui thing for the uninitiated. The basic purpose is to redirect any potential bad spirits away from your domicile so that you can lead a happy and un-evil life for as long as is possible. This is the most simplified explanation I can muster. The rules of Feng Shui as well as anything else Asian are pretty strict and mostly a complete mystery to me to this day. I'd originally written something else here to conclude with, and it was supposed to be funny. I reread it this morning and decided it came off more snarky than funny so I decided to replace it with this ...


6.11.2014

steer

On Saturday morning while going thru my morning routine (Earl Grey as I read the news of the day) I had an email pop in. One of the Dogtown manager's emailed me requesting a telephone interview at a later time/date. Wait, what?!? I seriously thought that I'd blown the initial interview with HR, and expected to be notified weeks later that I hadn't made it. I learned after my second interview how wrong I was.

Interview day came and I was ready. Ok kind of ready. Ok not really ready at all. I did my best to make the day as routine as possible, but I was still a little traumatized from HR's "vee haff vays uff making you talk" ambiguous question-fest last week. I volunteered again that morning, came home for lunch, cleaned house, watched Russell Peters bits on youtube, and did just about anything else I could think of to keep distracted. My phone rang at the appointed hour and it was go time. How'd I do? I nailed it! One of the things the Mgr was kind enough to inform me of was that my second interview happened only because of the number of staff who came to bat for me. I've spent the last few days thanking each and every one of them for it too. An hour after the interview was over I received an email informing me that I made it. Technically I've not been offered a full time position, yet. I will work for two weeks as staff at a lower wage than what the position pays. This is so the staff can assess if they like working with me as well as how I acclimate to the town and vice versa. I was told about 40% of the two week candidates wash out once they get here. One of the senior caregivers there informed me that it's in the bag given what the staff already did on my behalf and that I've been happily living here for over a month. Still, I don't want overconfidence to get the better of me, and I'll exhale once a formal offer has been extended.

I am quite literally over the moon given how things have progressed. It's been over a year since I left/ended my IT career, I haven't earned a single penny since then, and I'm about the happiest I've ever been about the decisions made that led me here. I have so much to learn still and am eagerly looking forward to it.

Steer by Missy Higgins on Grooveshark

6.05.2014

the interview

I had my telephone interview today. If you were to ask me how I did I would tell you that I think I did terribly. My personal views on HR departments are that they're different animals from company to company. I've had many interviews like this before and the results have been split so far. In short I can't tell if I'm making it thru to the next round or not and will simply have to wait and see. I was told that there's one day left of the telephone interviews before they decide who proceeds.

Now if you were to ask me how I've done while volunteering, I would say that the feedback I've been receiving for my efforts has been largely positive. I was even informed by one of the caregivers that everyone I've worked with really likes me. That's a huge vote of confidence for me, but I can't put 100% stock in it. I mean that I'm still learning (a lot) about what they do and the overall culture of this organization. I'm doing my best to be realistic and not let the praise elevate me into overconfidence.

Now comes the part that always kills me inside. The waiting. Wish me luck!


PS - The urchin is gone. She was made to vacate the campsite this afternoon post haste. She didn't leave the night before and had somehow managed to come up with money to stay an extra night. This incensed the park mgr who allowed her to stay without paying for the initial three nights. I learned this afternoon of several other incidents with other guests about her, along with an eyewitness account that she was spotted (on her second day) walking back to her tent with a vodka bottle shaped brown paper bag.

6.04.2014

potholes

Inevitably, no matter how smooth any road is, you will encounter a bump or two along your travels. I've definitely had a few to contend with on my recent journey. The most recent issue is in the form of a young adult soon to be street urchin. There's a mobile home park adjacent to where I'm staying, and where said urchin resided until the 1st of this month. She was evicted for a failure to pay rent. Somehow she managed to have enough money to secure a tent site here at the RV Park. Luckily there's a max stay of six days and she could only afford three of them. Today his her last day and many of us are looking forward to finally being exhaling.

I realize that what I'd just said may sound somewhat mean, but it isn't. A series of events have transpired over the last week which has left us feeling less than hospitable towards her; this was before and after her eviction. We came to learn that she and her boyfriend were both incarcerated for crimes unknown. She wouldn't say what the crimes were. The boyfriend was paying rent on what I can only describe as a travel trailer that has not traveled in at least two decades. The mobile home park isn't ghetto so much as half of the resident's rigs sport a very well worn look. For whatever reason she only spent five days in the slammer while her boyfriend remains on a very extended stay. A few have taken pity on her and therein lies the problem. Many of us were wary of her from the start with good reason.

Here's where it began for me. On memorial day (which also happened to be my birthday) the park held a pot luck BBQ get together. That was the day I met her. I was enjoying the good food and company until mingled into a circle she was in. It took me all of about three minutes when I picked up on something not being quite right with her. I left immediately and rejoined a prior circle. She mingled her way into it and I left again. It happened again so I left the BBQ altogether. The final straw was when another guest for some reason thought she was with me. My best guess as to why she thought that was because the girl is from Alaska and kind of Asian looking. I replied loudly "no, we just met today" followed with a mumbled "and I wished I didn't". The guest heard me and giggled.

I learned about a day or so later that one of the park managers thought she might have a crush on me which I quickly dismissed with a "don't say that, not funny!". It was also during the course of that same conversation that I'd learned how much the park managers knew about her and her situation. The girl used to work at a fast food restaurant across the street but lost that job. They'd also said that her short employment period was the only time she was seen walking around without a drink in hand. Everyone suspected it was a cocktail which was confirmed recently by a guest. Over the week she had taken to inviting herself to sit with any of the guests eating at the picnic tables provided. This included helping herself to the food at said tables. She's a bit of a manipulator but it wasn't long before guests started asking her to not sit with them. In the cases where someone was too timid to ask they would simply eat indoors to avoid dealing with her at all.

Her first forays with me were met with a one time offer of help followed up with a lesson on how to "do without" certain items. It became crystal clear that she wanted a handout, not help, when she stopped coming to me and pursued other guests instead.

During Bridgie's morning constitutional, we ran into the park manager. She was on duty last night when the urchin walked into the office as a customer was paying his bill in cash. She made an off hand comment about his change going to her, and then something to the effect that she and her dog would have to shoot him for it. He clearly did not appreciate her sense of humor or latter remark. He replied to her with "I shoot back, and I don't miss". The park manager was livid and immediately told her to leave the office.

I really want her gone and am counting the remaining 43 minutes until she has to vacate the tent site behind me.

5.30.2014

happiness

I'm a few days shy of being here three weeks. I can definitely say that I don't want to leave, at least not anytime soon. I don't think I've felt quite this happy in a very long time. Even Bridgie is noticeably smiling more. I don't know what we'll do if I don't get hired at the sanctuary, but I've begun formulating a few backup plans. Most of the jobs in this town are seasonal so I'll have to get creative in order to stay.


I did a shift this morning in Dogtown and got to spend time with four pooches I'd met the week prior. Two of them are a touch on the shy side and required extra care while the other two were beside themselves at seeing me again. It was great seeing and spending time with them all again. One in particular is a total sweetheart, but extremely shy. Rumba. She seems like she really wants to open up but doesn't know if she can trust again. I began just talking to them like anyone else while we walk. Sometimes it's about what's going on in my life or things we see on the trail. She seemed to have responded well and was much more relaxed after the walk as you can see in the pic below. She's a very sweet girl and I'm hoping she'll find a permanent home soon.


The revelation struck me on my drive home that I wasn't simply happy, but had managed to find some inner peace in life finally. The day prior I was placed in a room while the caregiver fetched a dog that I was to sit with for a bit before taking her out for a walk. Her condition and status were explained to me before we were left alone for a few minutes. I sat with this dog and didn't acknowledge her during that time. When the caregiver returned she mentioned that that was the calmest she'd seen her with someone new. She said I was giving off a good energy. That was a nice vote of confidence for me, but it's hard not to have it when you're surrounded by so much natural beauty. I see (below) that and better on my drive in and out every volunteer shift.


I don't wanna go.

Simple Life by The Weepies on Grooveshark

5.27.2014

after birth day

And it also happens that today is mom's birthday as well. I called her after my shift this morning to wish her a happy one. Sissy is treating her to a meal at Mrs Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, and I'm bummed that I don't get to be there to tag along. It's what it sounds like. A really great old fashioned fried chicken dinner with biscuits, rhubarb pie, and steamed veggies. Hmmm, think I'll see if one of the local eateries here has some fried chicken for dinner tonight.

Yesterday I hitched a ride with one of my Ingress teammates. We cruised up to a place called Jacob Lake to collect some keys from a portal located there. When we got back we met up with another local teammate and kind jokingly stalked him with a drone while he was at work. The friend who came up owns it and I gotta say RC toys have come an incredibly long way from when I was a kid.


Stalkee friend was one of the few people who knew it was my birthday yesterday. He surprised with some cupcakes his daughter made for my birthday, complete with candles no less. Bridgette did not get to have any and what you see below is what I had to watch while I devoured them. They were delicious! Sorry B.


The RV park I am staying at threw a pot luck BBQ to celebrate memorial day. The weather was cool, the company was warm, the food great, and the perfect end of a birthday day for me. The beagle and I climbed into our bunk, watched some Scrubs reruns before crashing shortly after. It was a good day!

5.26.2014

birthday

It was Thursday May 26th 1966 @ 3:15pm EST when I was born. So in about three and a half hours of my writing this, I will turn 48. I certainly don't feel it. Many of my closest friends would say that I don't look or act it. Well, they're not saying that I'm immature so much as I am very young at heart. Today also marks my second week in Kanab which has been both fun and productive.


I was expecting things to take a little longer towards my ultimate goal of getting hired. No, that's not happened yet. However the staff has taken notice of me, know what I"m hoping for, and are helping guide me towards achieving it. My fourth day is when they took notice and the ball really started to roll. I've reapplied for two possible positions. The first is the one I really want which is a Dog Caregiver positions, and the second is for a Volunteer Coordinator position. My prior skills with people and especially computers makes me a strong candidate for the latter position. I was told that once in, transitioning to another position is much easier. My fingers are crossed!


The organization has a process for hiring where you're invited to come and work (paid) on a two week evaluation period. There are three possible outcomes of 1. An offer is extended and you accept, 2. An offer is extended and you decline, 3. You washed out for various reasons. Some who get the job wind up leaving later because they can't handle small town living. Yes the town is small and the people are very nice, but some people just can't handle it. Sometimes it has to do with things. There is a larger town about an hour away if I really need "things" I can't find here. A list and once a month trip takes care of that. I'm hoping my move, and gradual assimilation here will speak to my level of commitment.


In the meantime I am continuing to volunteer while learning anything they're willing to teach me. Over the past two weeks I've volunteered for a total of seven (morning/afternoon) shifts. Everyone in this place is smiling and generally happy. I guess it's hard not to when so many animals appreciate what you're doing for them. Some arrive here in bad shape, but realize over time what you're doing for them.


The place is gorgeous. I mean breathtakingly gorgeous. It's the high desert where things are kind of gritty but no less pretty. I spent the first couple of days here getting adjusted to the higher elevation so I could handle the manual labor, while volunteering, at the sanctuary. It was a good move on my part because I was definitely ready for what they threw at me. I weeded a large outer run on my first day, and it was a hot one. Everything has been progressively easier despite the heat and elevation making what I did a good call.


I'm off to play a little Ingress with some of my teammates out this way today,so I'll leave you with a few highlights from the last two weeks.








5.15.2014

johnny come lately

Time to come clean about where I've gone and what I intend to do. I've landed in Kanab, UT and am staying here for at least two months. I decided to try to land a job first, work for however long I can, and save as much money as is possible. Since I decided on a career with animals I chose Kanab because of Best Friends Animal Society. My plan is to volunteer for the duration of my stay in hopes that they'll hire me on. Providing we like each other and it's a good fit. If that happens I'll simply stay put and do it until I feel it's time to move on. If I don't, well, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. At best I get to make money doing something I'm passionate about, at worst I take away a lot of valuable experience which can be useful elsewhere. Tomorrow will be my first day volunteering. I'm starting out at Dogtown and am really looking forward to it. I can't wait to get the hands and feet wet!


So I've been here here almost a week and have a pretty good lay of the land. It's kind of hard not to since the town is less than 14 square miles. The scenery is breathtaking and the people are very nice here. I was told that this is the kind of town where people leave their doors unlocked. The local police blotter seems to confirm that. There are many hikes and mountain biking trails around that I as well as the beagle are looking forward to taking on.


There isn't exactly a night life here, but that's alright with us. We prefer making and eating tasty dinners while taking in a good show or movie. I've also finally gotten around to tackling several years of backlogged books stored up in my kindle. I've also gotten in touch with Ingress players in this region. The other team is putting up a pretty good fight so gaining another senior player helps.


New Kid in Town by Eagles on Grooveshark