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°.


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


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


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.


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


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