18 August, 2017

Miss Mattie

My dear Miss Mattie died in March of this year; a month after her 16th birthday.  This is the last photo I have with her.

In the summer of 2001, a friend of mine was driving down a Texas country road and she saw a flash of black and white in the grass beside the side of the road.  Following her curiosity, she stumbled upon a wee pup.  With no houses in site, it was evident someone had dumped her.  She got her checked out at the vet and besides being hungry and scared, there was nothing wrong with her.  My friend already had 3 dogs, so I took the little thing in, stating that I could find her a home easily by taking her to one of my soccer games the following weekend.

At the game I had immediate interest from players, some saying they would take her right then and there...but, I hesitated.  It was already evident to some of my soccer teammates, that Mattie had stolen my heart and was going to stay with me.  And stay she did.  Mattie and I were quicks buds and she became my running partner, soccer companion, and co-pilot, with her own wardrobe of bandana's leashes, collars, and a life jacket for floating down the river.  My old finicky cat, Circe, who really didn't like anyone, even befriended the pup.

I had the luxury of taking her to work with me when I worked for a law firm.  She spent her days lounging around in people's way so they would have to bend down to move her out of the way, thus giving her the attention she loved.

In 2006, I moved to Europe and my sister's family agreed to foster her.  She went from a comfy Texas condo dog eating expensive dog food, having home made treats, riding in my jeep with her doggles (doggy goggles - I'm not proud of this) and sleeping on my bedroom floor...

...to a Kansas farm dog who chased/played with pigs, chickens, cats and kids, ate whatever food was given to her, and slept under the stars, and loved every minute of it!  She experienced (and finally got used to) snow for the first time in her life and on my first visit to her, months after dropping her off, she ran up to me with a decomposing deer leg in her mouth.  I just shook my head...

As the years passed, and I found my way through the world, Mattie kept occupied with her busy life.  You could see the age in her graying face, but she still ran and 'guarded' the large plot of land she called home.  She hunkered down in the cool dirt under their porch steps at times and enjoyed her canine big brother Cooper, as well as snuggling with numerous dog-loving cats.

I couldn't have asked for a better foster family! When I moved back to the US in 2008 and lived in Washington DC, there was no way I could take her away from the home she had lived in for 2 years and make her a city dog again.  I also knew I was not going to stay for long, so her foster family then became her adopted one.  She lived with them getting all the love and care she deserved during her long life.

A couple of months ago, I found out about an animal rescue agency in Phnom Penh that had a puppy up for adoption.  When I saw his photo, I knew it was a match made in heaven.  

Benji is her Cambodian twin.

08 August, 2017

Little Helpers

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years, vegan for 2 of those.  It’s not unusual for me to say no to chicken…but it goes further than that.  When I say, “I don’t like chicken” it not only means in the gastric sense, but as a whole, I do not like chickens.  They seem like dirty nasty stupid creatures who cannot be taught.  They look dorky when they run crookedly.  They seem to have not received the memo about the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line.

In 2014 a couple of chickens who lived at Wat Opot gave me an egg everyday hidden somewhere in my room.  That wasn’t so bad as we take care of the unwanted young regardless of where they come from.  Those chickens came in quietly left me an unborn offspring and left just as quietly.  No drama, no fuss.

In 2016 we had to rehome our dog Lucy because of her obsession with killing chickens.  Destroying the nasty fowl at Opot and in the village (for sport) was not making her any friends.  That’s actually an understatement because she had death threats out on her.

Now it’s 2017 and for the past 6 months I have dealt with chickens again…chickens and their shit!  Now I’ve written about baby shit and my frustration with it’s daily occurrence, but chicken shit is way different.  For one, the children as a general rule do not do it on the floor, nor do they poop all over the kitchen, living room, laundry room and bedroom floors of the girls dorm.  Toddlers no, chickens yes.

To make a short story long, the chickens running rampant on our property decided to roost in our storage room which is easily accessible to them by open barred windows and door.  Unbeknownst to me, they had decided to roost on top of our port-a-crib.  Our wonderful little bed that has been the night time sanctuary for quite a few over the years.

With the 1st and 2nd graders home from school for the day, I put them to work deep cleaning the bed.  But ‘work’ is a pretty flexible word around here...especially when it involved soap and a water hose.

I kept the momentum of playing with the hose going and had them clean the colorful little chairs in the girls dorm moving along the grass as not to flood one area.  Like the bed, they had no problem cleaning them.

It's an ongoing chore to keep everything in order, but with so many helpers, my job is a bit easier especially if the chore involves the hose and soap!

So, a few days later, I had nothing but volunteers when I needed to clean the mats the preschoolers sleep on.