Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court

Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court  by Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price
2002
Weight: 3 lbs
Method of Disposal: Giving to Tracy


I loved this book.  I learned so much, and I gained so much inspiration.  I felt lucky to have so many strong, intelligent, and brave people fighting the good fight before me.  My heart also broke to hear about the crushed dreams and destroyed lives of so many amazing gay and lesbian folks throughout history.  I would really like to get my hands on an updated edition.  I know Tracy will love it and so am passing it on to her. 

In the meantime, I am naming all the cats at work after all the incredible LGBTQI activists I now know about.  While silly, I kinda hope people see the names, Google them, and get inspired too!

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Fine By Me

It's Fine By Me by Per Petterson
2013
Weight: 7.8 oz
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


This is one of my Dollar Store buys.  I bought it on a whim.  I am not sure what attracted me to it.  I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I had read another one of his books about Arvid Jansen or if I was able to read it in the original language.  Per Petterson (great name!) is a Norwegian author.  This book kind of reminded me of Catcher in the Rye, which I do not like.  It was a coming of age story and centered on a confused and conflicted teenage boy trying to figure out who he is in the context of the world.  It was not my thing, but I think it will be someones.  I hope it finds a better home.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reaching for the Stars

Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut
José Hernández
2012
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


I dream of space and of one day traveling there.  Or, at least, I thought I did, but now I know mine was a lazy dream.  José showed me what dreaming of space really looks like, and it looks like a lot of hard work and natural intelligence.  I was telling someone about his story tonight, and they stopped me to ask if it was a fictional story.  It is not.  It is incredible.

The story of José is amazing, though this book is not.  I am not too keen on his writing, but I am okay with that.  He is good at everything else.  It wouldn't be fair if he was a master author too!  I am very interested to hear what he will do next after his most recent attempt at politics.  I am sure he will continue to do great things.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How Can I Help?

How Can I Help? How to Support Someone Who Is Grieving
1999
Weight: 8 oz
Method of Disposal: Taking to Lending Library


I originally purchased this book when I was working at Barnes and Noble and one of my coworkers lost a parent and, seemingly, her mind.  I wanted to help even though we were not friends.  My heart broke for her.  Then, my best friend lost her fiance.  Unfortunately, since then, I have needed to pick it up many many more times.  You can tell by how well read (read worn) it is. 

It is a basic but worthwhile book that gives some really good, easy-to-follow, and solid advice.  It has some great reminders on what NOT to do, which I sometimes find even more helpful than what to do.  It encourages you to speak from your heart but to be sure you keep your focus on the grieving person and that, in their most painful moments, you do not bring too much attention to yourself or demean/belittle the feelings of the person grieving.  I recommend this book if you are looking for a way to be helpful after loss.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Romantic Fiction

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
2012

See Me by Nicholas Sparks
2015

Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Lending Library in Tucker


I believe these came to me via my grandmother.  I am not big on romance or romantic fiction.  I am going to give these away without reading them--that is hard for me, but I have so many others to read that I enjoy and so little time after work. I do, however, like the idea of my grandmother liking romance novels...

You Might Be a Redneck If...

You Might Be A  Redneck If...This Is The Biggest Book You've Ever Read by Jeff Foxworthy
2004
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving in Lending Library in Tucker


I think this was given to Harriet by someone a couple years ago because she asked what I redneck was after hearing the term used.  I think it likely answered that question!  But that is about all it is good for.  I did not find it funny though, clearly, A LOT of people did for A LONG time so...to each their own!  I am just surprised it stayed on our shelves so long.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Gone Feral

Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild by Novella Carpenter
2014
Weight: 13.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Lending Library in Tucker


I just finished reading this book I came across at a Dollar Tree.  My friend had just recently posted on Facebook that you could actually get good books there, and I had to go with Harriet to buy table clothes and assorted party goods for a volunteer appreciation event at the shelter anyway so I took a peek.  I had this idea in my head that it was all Christian romance and other similar subjects I have zero desire to delve into.  My friend was right though.  There were actually some pretty neat authors there.  Of course, there was also some of the other.

 

Gone Feral was an interesting read.  I gave it 3/5 stars.  Some of the other reviews said the writing was bad--I don't think that is true.  One said most people have experienced all the things Novella has and that she seems to think she is unique but isn't.  I have to say, that certainly cannot be true.  I can say that my life thus far has not resembled hers in the slightest.  I am 32 years old and have never raised a goat.  I fostered one pet rabbit.  I was not raised in an ecofriendly, sustainable household in the mountains.  My father was not abusive to my mother and does not seem to have any mental illness that I know of.  I have not built an urban farm.  I know that the sentiments about growing up and having children have been experienced by many people, but isn't the point of some books to connect and shed light on the human experience.  I don't think that makes it a bad book.

I rated it 3 stars because it was interesting and the writing was decent.  The book did seem to be lacking direction, and it did not feel like the author knew exactly what she was trying to write.  It seemed almost like she was writing and hoping for it to be cathartic.  I believe it is ultimately a biography of her father.  If you read three books this year, I would not choose this one.  If you read three hundred, then you should check it out.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rechenka's Eggs

Rechenka's Eggs Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco
1996
Weight: 4 oz
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


There seems to be an International theme to my children's books that I do not remember.  Here is a story about an old grandmother who lives alone in the country and paints eggs for the Easter Festival.  A goose is shot down by a hunter, and she takes her in to nurse her back to health.  She names her Rechenka.  Another vegetarian story for me!  Not vegan though.  Rechenka repays the old lady by laying her an egg every morning for breakfast.  Then, in another turn, she wins a feather blanket by bringing Rechenka's eggs to the festival.  Rechenka flies away, back into the wild, but leaves the Babushka a hatching egg so she will have a friend for always.

This book is a great introduction to Russia--a child can learn Russian words, see a little about the art and culture, and even see a bit of architecture!  I do think this is one of those books adults may like a little more than children though.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Story About Ping

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
1961
Weight: 10.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Tucker Lending Library


This is a book that I use to read with my grandmother and grandfather as a child.   I use to love to go to their house and have my grandfather read me large stacks of books and, eventually, I would read large stacks of books to him.  I always loved animals, and I hated the idea of Ping (the duckling) being eaten.  I so appreciated the boy hero who let him go to save his life.  The beginnings of a vegetarian, I guess. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Aaaarrgghh! Spider!

Aaaarrgghh! Spider! by Lydia Monks
2007
Weight: 7 oz
Method of Disposal: Lending Library in Tucker



This is a super cute children's book, and I do not like spiders at all.  This book is probably, in part, created to change the minds of people like me, and it may have worked a little.  This attention seeking spider is adorable.  The pictures are great and the story is fun.  It makes you think differently about spiders you see in the bath tub, spiders making webs, and spiders dropping down right in front of you.  Maybe they are just trying to dance for you!

Milkyboots Nine

Milkyboots Nine: Late Summer and Fall 2009 by Virginia
milkyboots.blogspot.com
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


I believe I got this book free with the purchase of another, but I am not 100% sure.  I love these little comic books that people make.  I find some of them to be so much fun.  I have some I love--Jennifer Young did some of my favorites.  I was not very impressed with this particular edition of Milkyboots.  It is her journal in comic book form, and I found it difficult to follow and lacking in substance.  There is a note in the front of the book stating that she is currently in class and her style changes throughout the book.  Based on this, I definitely saw improvement as the book went on, and I am sure she will go on to make some pretty awesome comics.  I am thinking, by now, she already has, and I wish her the best.  I may even check them out if I can track them down.  I was very impressed with how much she could pack into a day.  Or, rather, how many people she could see in a day!  I would be exhausted.  I will say she seems like a fun, likeable, talented person. 

Red Scarf Girl

Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang
2004
Weight: 7 oz
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


This book was written for young adults at a time when I was no longer a young adult so I had not heard of it until I was working in the children's department of Barnes and Noble.  I did not know a lot about China's Cultural Revolution so I thought what better place to start than with a young adult book and then I could work my way up...just like I did with so many other topics in life.

Before giving it away, I reread it.  It made my heart feel heavy, sad, and a little worried.  Reading about families, friends, and neighbors turning on each other and thinking of Trump's America left me feeling slightly nauseated and my head was foggy.  How many times and in how many places do we have to create propaganda-filled societies of hate before we learn?  Do we never learn?  Will we fight this one off?

In this one Communism goes wrong but in our story it will be Capitalism.  All societies and systems have their weaknesses.

Maya Angelou: Poems

2 X Maya Angelou: Poems
1996
Weight: 9.6 0z
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


Now is a time for much needed inspiration.  What will rile us up more than Maya Angelou poems?  They are gritty, angry, and raw.  Some exude sex and desire.  Others express rage.  I was surprised at how many were written from a male point of view.  I see "we rise" "still I rise" "I rise" everywhere lately--college commercials, football, memes.  I thought this poem would be an appropriate preview of the book and a pertinent and stronger use of "Still I Rise."  I am assuming most readers have read about the caged bird and the phenomenal woman.  If not, you should look them up for sure.  Or, if you want your very own copy of her poems just let me know, and I will mail them to you instead if I still have them!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Gryphon and The Golden Mean

The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondance of Griffin and Sabine is Rediscovered and
The Golden Mean: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondance of Griffin and Sabine Concludes
by Nick Bantock
1993 and 2001
Weight: 4 lbs


I loved. Loved. The Jolly Postman when I was a little girl, but I never owned it.  It was too expensive.  I have often thought about buying it for myself as an adult, but I always decided, like my parents before me, that I could not justify spending the money.  I decided, instead, to get the Griffin and Sabine books while they were on bargain.  They were meant for adults.  Justification number 1.  They were inexpensive. Justification number 2.  My friends told me they were awesome. Justification number 3.

I was less impressed than I thought I would be by the story line, but I still enjoyed opening and reading the letters.  A voyeuristic joy.

Catmas Carols

Christmas Carols by Laurie Loughlin
2013
Weight: 5.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


I lost another foster kitten today.  It is bound to happen.  We never want to foster kittens because it ends in heartbreak too often but, when you see them, struggling to breath and there is no one else willing to endure the possibility of losing them then what can you do?  You cannot leave them to suffer at the shelter just because you do not want to break your own heart.  Besides, sometimes you are able to turn it around.

I was not able to do that today and so, after a four day struggle, we lost Cilantro.  On evening two I started to get my hopes up.  By three, I knew we could do it.  Up until an hour before he died, I refused to believe it was happening.  Once they are gone you wish you had opted to euthanize and end their suffering.  Sometimes that is the decision you make.  Sometimes one pulls through.

No matter how many we have lost I am always heartbroken to say goodbye, to watch their final breaths.  I wish I could say that I will never foster another one.  I would really like that.  But I will never be able to turn away from a kitten or cat that is sure to die, alone in a cage.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

March: Book One

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
2013
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Gave to my friend, Deanie


  

I recently visited my Alma Mater for a career/volunteer fair--representing the animal shelter I manage, but I quickly became distracted, leaving the table with two very capable non-alums and meandered down to the bookstore.  I had heard it would be closing soon, and I thought I might want to buy a t-shirt or something one last time.  As I looked around, I realized that what I really wanted was all those really great recommendations (once requirements) you get from college professors.

I started to look by class at the rows of reading lists.  I found classes I would want to take and then checked out the books necessary for that class.  I couldn't really justify spending the money, but I bought March.  Reading a graphic novel really appealed to me at the time and John Lewis had been popping up everywhere since the dreadful day President Trump was elected president.  I need some inspiration.  I did end up enjoying it, though I got to the end quickly and was pretty disappointed not to have book 2 on hand.

I learned something I never knew about John Lewis--chickens.  My heart broke to see that little boy, scared, stoic in the car driving through Tennessee, to see those young men and women beaten with the permission of the police, to think of the death threats.  I could only imagine being a young boy riding on an old bus watching the money of the white schools shine as he drifted further away to a hand-me-down school with old books--though clearly with a librarian who had a lot of heart.

It sounds like this book is being used in schools, and I hope it reaches people who might be less likely to read a long novel.  The drawings are great and the story is moving no matter how you tell it, though everyone did a good job.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can't Afford to Miss

Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can't Afford to Miss by David Cottrell
2002
Weight: 1.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating

/
Management.  Things I am not good at.  This book just reaffirmed that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
by Sherman Alexie
2017
Weight:2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


Sherman Alexie is another one of those authors that I love and trust enough to just buy anything he publishes whenever I come across it.  I was introduced to him by an Agnes Scott professor named Dr. Guthrie, and I have been fascinated by him ever since.  I was out with my mom and Harriet recently when I found this one on the New Arrivals table at Barnes and Noble.  I did not have the $22.40 + tax to spare, but I could not talk myself out of it.  I am not suppose to be getting more books.  I am suppose to be letting go of all the books.  My wife will tell you that I am not doing a good job and that they are still stacked up high all around the basement.

I am glad I did not talk myself out of buying it.  I am almost reluctant to let it go, but I want someone else to enjoy it, and I know I will not have time to re-read it anytime soon.  It is a beautiful book about grieving, identity, parents, family, Sherman, loss, gains, race, genocide, power, weakness...it is about Sherman and his mother and his sisters and his father and his mother's rapist and his sister's rapist and his wife and his friend...Shall I go on?  It is a mix of fiction interwoven with nonfiction.  Poems with stories with powwow chants.

It is well worth a read.  Enjoy it!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
2012
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Lending Library


I am sure I bought this book because it was on bargain somewhere, and it seemed like it somewhat fit into my alley.  It was information about something I likely should already know a lot about.  I bought it, and I promptly put it away and never thought of it again until one day when I was mindlessly grabbing a book off the shelf at random and grabbed Rabid.  I am so glad I did.  I learned a lot and, by the end of it, felt much less secure that I was safe at work--or even just hiking in the woods.  While being infected with rabies in the U.S.A. is rare, that will seem like little comfort after you hear about the story of Bali--once rabies free.  Or what about the American man that proclaimed, "What disturbs me is I smashed his mouth off, I smashed his teeth in, but he still wanted to continue in the attack mode.  I was actually terrified at the resilience of this animal (pg2)." This is a description of a rabid raccoon.  Maybe more frightening are the stories about people being bitten by rabid bats in their sleep and not even knowing until they start showing symptoms a month later.  I think of the woman hiking who had to drown a rabid animal in a small puddle of water to save herself from being infected.

It makes you think twice when you get that new cat dumped at the shelter, and it bites the shit out of you because it is scared and the owner, of course, left you with absolutely no information or history whatsoever.  Even with the security of something being uncommon, it feels much less secure when you handle animals of unknown backgrounds on a daily basis.  It is way past time to get vaccinated.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Gap of Time

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson
2016
Weight: 6 oz
Method of Disposal: Bringing to a Lending Library


I have been a Jeanette Winterson fan for many years now, and I buy all of her books just as soon as I know they exist.  Sometimes I will even have them sent over from England so that I do not need to wait for them to come out in America.  This one I purchased myself while in the UK, though I am not quite certain that it wasn't the second time I bought it.  As I get older my memory grows increasingly questionable.  And it isn't just older is it?  It is also the more stressed that I get the worse it gets.

I love Winterson's lyrical writing and the unique ways she chooses to form a story.  I love the varied definitions of time, self, and gender.  The fluidity of her stories and characters.  I hope someone who comes upon this book at the little garden in Tucker, GA feels the same way.  If they find this blog, know your new book came all the way from Waterstones in Lancaster, England.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fighting the Cold War

Fighting the Cold War: A Soldier's Memoir
By General John R. Galvin, USA (RET.)
2015
Weight: 2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Sending to my brother


This book was released by the publisher not too long before General Galvin passed away.  I heard about the book because one of my fairly new but dear (and now very dear) friends is his daughter.  I pre-ordered it thinking that he was probably one of those guys that self-publishes his story when he is older so that a handful of people will know who he is.  I ordered the book to be kind more than I did to read it, though I was interested.

Any of you who know anything about General John Galvin should be rolling your eyes and snorting by now.  He, of course, did not need little old me to read his book.  He had led an impressive life and had achieved more than most people.  I sat in front of Colin Powell at his funeral and listened to him share stories of the General as a young man.  General Patraeus spoke powerfully about him that same day.  He served as NATO's Supreme Allied  Commander during the Cold War.  He fought in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star.  His legacy stands by itself and needs no support from some thirty year old woman who struggles to lead a shelter to greatness.  

This book taught me a lot about General Galvin's career and a little about his life, but I learned the most from having the honor of knowing his family.  His wife is an incredibly kind and fun woman and together they raised the most wonderful, passionate, intelligent, and quirky daughters.  I never was able to meet him, but I carry so many stories of him thanks to one of his daughters in particular.  She is an amazing and generous person who would do anything to help someone (or some critter) in need, and I assume that has at least a little to do with who he was as a father and as a man.

I think about being at Arlington and noting that his head stone was so much smaller than the other man who had served as SACEUR before him.  It was small and modest.  We were told a little bit later that he had chosen to have one that was like the other soldiers who served alongside him and under him.  He did not need all the fancy bells and whistles.  He would be buried as a soldier and among the men he respected and fought with.  If you are looking to read a book about an American Hero then you have picked up the right one if this is the one you grabbed.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

He Sleeps

He Sleeps by Reginald McKnight
2002
Weight: 7.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating



I have held onto this book since college because I remember going to a reading the author gave and liking him.  I also loved what he wrote inside the book when he signed it.  I remember thinking the writing was beautiful.  Every time I considered blogging about He Sleeps and letting it go I would put it to the side and try to find something else to write about, even though I could not remember what it was about.  I just knew it was good and that it was signed.  That I liked it.  This year I decided to pick it up and read it again.

My thirty-something-married-shelter-manager-self was not nearly as impressed as my super-sexual-eager-always out to learn-student self was.  The main character was deplorable and challenging to care about.  His dreaming life started off being interesting and grew somewhat redundant.  The woman characters were just props the author used to make his male characters look a certain way.  They were flat and disappointing.

The first time I read it, I underlined one sentence.

"Maybe you don't really feel married until you begin to feel watched."  pg.50

I think that pretty much sums up my college (monogamous) relationships but not at all my current married life.  Books mean different things to different people.  I am learning more and more that books mean different things to me depending on the stage of life I read them in.  I know, it seems like common sense, but it wasn't for me.  It is making it easier to let go of some of those books I have been clinging to for years, sometimes decades, now.

His inscription, on the other hand, I will love forever.  Though, I am not sure what it really means in context of the book.  It seems a little more sinister than it appears at first glance.

The Voice of the Infinite in the Small: Re-Visioning the Insect-Human Connection

The Voice of the Infinite in the Small: Re-Visioning the Insect-Human Connection
by Joanne Elizabeth Lauck
2002
Weight:1.4 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Lending Library


I thought I was ready for this book, but I do not think it would be possible to be ready for it.  It is not because the author asks you to reconsider your relationship with insects.  I can absolutely get on board with not doing harm to other living creatures and with admiring the unique traits and behaviors of bugs.  The leaps in this book were too much for me though, and the New Age/Spitituality aspect left me feeling a little ridiculous.  There was some interesting information but mostly interesting opinions.  I did not find a lot of concrete or specific insight into the insect-human bond.  Why don't you check it out for yourself? 

Here is an excerpt for you on lice (pg. 33):

 "Few of us wonder if there is another way to think about lice, not knowing that native people accepted their presence with aplomb.  In a charming Navajo creation myth, Louse pleads for his life, telling Monsterslayer that if he is killed, people will have to live without lice and suffer loneliness.

Native peoples on every continent also had a strategy for keeping lice populations down--they simply ate them.  Most believed that eating lice was healthy (it probably is), and people picked off and ate lice from family members and friends as an act of courtesy, favor, and friendship."

And on ants (PG. 109):

" A Swiss business woman, Kathia Haug, also had success in communicating with ants that visited her home each summer.  Although in previous summers she had tried to solve her 'ant problem' by killing them, she had never been completely successful.  One year, she embraced a new spiritual discipline that brought a change of heart and prompted her to try talking to the ants mentally.  She told them that she wished them a happy life but that she wanted them to stay out of her house.  In one day, the ants were gone from her house, although they still passed across the doorstep from her kitchen into the garden.

Those who practice this kind of communication agree that it requires a combination of compassion, positive expectation, and the ability to hold a visual picture in your mind, since animals communicate with images not words."


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Office Doodle Notebook: Sketch, Scribble, and Monkey Around WITHOUT GETTING CAUGHT

Office Doodle Notebook: Sketch, Scribble, and Monkey Around WITHOUT GETTING CAUGHT Written and Illustrated by: Susan McBride
2006
Weight: Gifting it to someone


Depression is draining.  How can one be so empty and yet so heavy all at once?  Waking up and living each day feels like a massive burden.  It is impossible to communicate with all the people I felt like I knew so well just weeks ago.  I am ashamed and unable to look them in the eyes.  I need help, but I resent it.  There is nothing more irritating than being misunderstood, but why?  Aren't we all misunderstood to some degree every single day?

I know what it is like to distrust all the strangers.  To see them as possible pain points instead of people.  It seems it would only take a less stellar background or genetic flaw to make the leap and be someone much more sinister.  I can understand that now, but that just makes me feel more hopeless and more unable to "be the change I wish to see in the world."  That gives me no hope that any of those raging psychos emulating the president can or will change.  That he can or will change.  This just makes me more likely to stay in bed.

I am so irritable.  I feel like I have no control over myself.  I am just watching.  When I can put in the energy to do anything, I feel like the puppet master.  I made that happen, with my hands, but I am emotionless.  I cannot feel what the puppet can.  I think of those classic biographies where the author is sent away on doctor's orders to get some sunshine and overcome.  Who has that life?  Unlike the folks in those books, I think that would help me.  This is what depression looks like for the working class.  Struggle to get up for work, struggle through work, work overtime unpaid and be disappointed in your work, go home, struggle to stay awake, go to sleep dreading work.  Repeat.  Maybe throw in the stress of bills here and there.

Move on dark cloud.  Life was hard without you, but it is impossible with you.

Cesar's Way

Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan
2006
Weight: 12 oz
Method of Disposal: Recycling





I am tempted to burn this thing just to ensure that no one tries to get it out of my recycling bin but, with all the natural disaster surrounding us, I am not sure I should risk adding to the problem--either by not recycling or by burning down my neighborhood!  As a shelter manager, I cannot begin to describe the harm done by Cesar.  So many adopters assure us that they will be great homes for our pups because they use all of Cesar's methods and they are THE Alphas in their homes.  They do not know that every last one of us is cringing.  We try to gently, without embarrassing them, lead them in another direction and encourage them to see a professional dog trainer that is more modern, more positive.  We know that being uneducated does not mean that they will be bad dog owners in the long run, but we also know that if we let them walk out the door and use Cesar tactics on their new dogs that many of them will come back with a set of issues that is different and more challenging that the ones they might have left with.

It is not common that a dog is euthanized for aggression at our shelter.  We see a trainer that specializes in working with aggressive dogs, and we try to screen and prep our adopters with all the information and everything we know.  We do have to say goodbye to them sometimes and one of the consistent things I have seen is that these dogs have often been through some fairly intense Cesar-style training and that it has broken the dog's spirit.  When they see people they see someone alien who does not have the faintest idea how to communicate with them.  There is something broken in these dogs that ,when you start to become aware of it, will make you break down into tears because you will feel the guilt, the disappointment, and the shame of a shelter worker who knows there was a different way.  It must be incredibly frustrating for these dogs to live each day with their families, trying to express themselves in so many creative ways and the only thing that makes people listen is what will ultimately get them surrendered and/or euthanized, and that is biting.  It is a last resort for many when they first begin trying to communicate but, by the time it becomes their go-to, you have a real problem.

I know there are people out there who use Cesar's methods or methods like them and have great success in molding the dog that they have always envisioned having.  Many dogs are so amazing that they learn and love us in spite of us.  That is often described as the magic of dogs.  Unfortunately, it is the intelligent, the fearful, and the aggressive dogs that usually do the worst with this type of training, and it is those dogs that people are most commonly willing to seek outside help from trainers for.  There are a lot of trainers out there that use old school methods of punishment and dominance, and there are many people who are not even certified but, after having read books like these and working with their own dogs, feel like they are experts and can help you.  These people seem to be drawn to working with aggressive cases.  I do not know why they are drawn to it--maybe it is the challenge--but I can understand why the dog owners are so desperate for a fix that they will try anything, even if it does not sit right with them.  It breaks my heart to see a loving owner who never thought they would give up on their dog, who has funneled so much time, energy, and money into mis-training their dog, come into the shelter in defeat.  All of those resources could have been used in other, more successful ventures but, by then, the owner is burnt out and cannot hear it.  Sometimes, in rare cases, the dog has given up too.

Cesar is right that dogs need exercise and that being calm and collected is essential to communicating with your dog.  That is what you might read that is useful in this book.  The things that might cause harm are assuming that your dog is like a wolf, that you and your dog are having a power struggle to be the more dominant one, that flooding is a useful tool in overcoming a dog's fears, and Cesar might even encourage you to read the wrong things in your dog's body language.  For some dogs, they will continue to be the loving, wonderful pups they were born to be with a little extra fear of their owners but, for other dogs, these methods can make them react and become dangerous.  There is a reason his show comes with the warning not to try his methods at home.  I would recommend you don't.  And, when given a copy of his books or one of his cds, do not pass it along.  If you read it, please also talk to other dog trainers and read other books to see if something feels a little more right for you and your pets.  I think that many people know in their gut something is wrong with his method, but they want so badly to see a change in their pet that they push that down and dominantly proceed ahead without listening to their own dog.  A relationship is built on mutual trust and respect, and it cannot be maintained without good communication.  Your relationship with your dog is not different.



Friday, May 12, 2017

San Francisco Panorama

McSweeney's No 33 San Francisco Panorama
2009
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donated to Goodwill



I see hard things every day.  I watch baby kittens die for reasons completely unknown to us as humans, though mama cat seems to know which will live and which won't.  We fight nature.  I watch dog's hearts break into thousands of pieces while their owners drop them off and don't look back.  A mom telling her children in a chipper tone, "kiss your dog goodbye but don't touch him with your lips!"  Dogs with chemical burns all over their body.  Dogs who will live but are currently so sick that the life seems to leave their eyes, and they just lay in a heap in a cage no matter how much affection you shower on them.  I see dogs and cats being misunderstood. Every. Day.  People say, "that dog is just mean."  Really, she is just terrified and having the worst 6 months of her entire life.  I jump from one broken heart to the next to the next to the next.  This description is of just some of the animals I cared for this week.  Sometimes, the animal will be busting at the seams with gratitude and joy, which is wonderful and, yet, still so sad that they expect so little out of life that 15 minutes with me is enough to change their world.

I rarely break down.  I always power on.  After 10 years you would think I had seen it all, but I still get surprised almost weekly.  Then something not surprising at all, that I have seen many times before, will hit me with all the force of my first day all those years ago and my stomach will turn and my breath will leave me.  It catches me completely off guard.  The other day we sent a senior mastiff to be spayed.  She'd had many many litters, but we had her for awhile and she showed no signs of pregnancy.  She's old and ready to retire.  The vet tech brought her back, and the dog had the most forlorn expression.  The tech said, "She had one big baby in there.  She couldn't have passed it anyway." A solitary puppy.  But it was the word "big" wasn't it?  Or the expression on the dog's face?  Or the fact that she would have to "sleep it off" in a kennel all by herself along with all the other suffering pets.  No peace, no giant dog bed in a cozy home with doting humans.  She was truly and completely on her own.  More alone now, as her one big baby would have died or had to been euthanized after the spay.  No one expected to find that baby. She likely did not expect to lose it.  She just woke up, and it was gone.  Maybe it was painful but a relief or maybe it was devastating,  Her face seemed to tell me it was the ladder.

I wanted to bring her home but, with 5 dogs of my own and 3 foster dogs, all of which had made my stomach turn at some point, I knew I had nothing left to give her and, even if I could take her home, I would have to leave all the other broken hearts behind.  I covered her in a warm blanket from the dryer, pet her, spoke gently and then left with my partner to try to rescue two feral kittens who had been abandoned at the fire department.  No time to cry or to register what had happened to that beautiful mastiff.  It haunts me, like so many other things, though she was much happier today when I saw her just a couple days into her recovery.  I am so ready to see that dog go home and know that her new family will not have to carry the sadness of having seen her that day.  That they will be able to look at her and love her with pride and not the guilt of closing the cage and walking away from her on what may have been the worst or one of the worst days of her entire life. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Helter Skelter

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry
1994
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Lending Library



Just reading this book and writing about it gives me the creeps.  I want to always be 500,000 miles away from anything The Family.  There is also a fine line between understanding what happened and glamorizing it--which has been done by countless magazines, books, tv shows.  I felt much more secure with Vincent Bugliosi.  I felt like I was getting accurate information, and I felt like I could trust him.  I will say that I bought this book many years ago, and I would not likely have bought it at the age I am now, knowing what I know now.  I just struggle with true crime.  I also resent the idea that Charles Manson craves and enjoys attention and that people give it to him.  Still!  He took away the lives of so many people (the exact number cannot be proven) and he just keeps on living, controlling, and making puppets out of people.  It is disgusting.  Reading this book made me struggle with my more recent (last 10 or so years) anti-death penalty stance.  I wanted him and Susan to be put down.  I recognized it was partly from fear.  Reading about them sent chills down into my stomach.  And fear should not rule your moral decisions, but it was hard.  I hate to admit that I do have regret that they were not euthanized before California changed their laws.  I think Vincent had every right and reason to write about Charles Manson and Helter Skelter because he lived it, breathed it, fought it for so long.  I am not so convinced that it is appropriate for many other people to do it, particularly after he has done it so well.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Strider

Strider by Beverly Cleary
2000
Weight: 4.8 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Lending Library


I am reading children's book in between all of my others.  I need something a little less heavy from time to time to get by.  Working in rescue, every day feels like a life and/or death day.  Survival, Fight or Flight, the best and the worst of people.  Living under a Trump Administration is like an ongoing nightmare.  Besides, with my eyesight going, the print is a little larger ;). 

I remember reading Cleary all the time as a kid, though I did not read Stryder.  It was nice to revisit her work and pleasantly surprising to read about the rescue of an abandoned dog.  It was not my favorite Cleary book by far.  That might be the Mouse and the Motorcycle, Dear Mr. Henshaw, or it might be one of the Ramona books.  I am pretty sure the mouse wins.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating

Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating by Moira Weigel
2016
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Leaving at post office in Tucker


I heard an interview with Moira Weigel on Real Simple's Adulthood Made Easy podcast and was instantly interested in reading it.  I will really miss that podcast!  I really enjoyed this book and discovered random little tidbits I had no idea about--like TGIF restaurants initially starting as singles clubs.  AND that they were inspired by gay bars.  That was exciting and fun trivia.  I appreciated that this book was not just heteronormative and did include some information about queered dating.  It tried to dip its toes into the differences in dating between white and black people, but I felt like that was one portion that was just too little too late.  It felt like it was just peppered in and without a lot of substance.  I wish there had been more of it but, if there was only going to be a seasoning, maybe she should have left it out.  I don't know.  There were very important differences that made "dating" more dangerous for the black community.  It seems like in many eras the line between dating, sex work, trading sex, going steady wasn't always clear, at least to other people looking in at those relationships. 

I left this book at the post office and hope someone else gets some enjoyment out of it too!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
2004
Weight: 13 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving somewhere in Tucker or Decatur


I am sometimes terrified, sometimes ready to rise up, and most often overwhelmed and sad.  In an effort to prepare myself for my own future and for America's future, I am reading books that apply immediately to the current world climate.  I read Obama's biography in the month before he left the White House and his presidency ended.  I loved it.  I found it inspirational, and I was shocked about his life and how he came to be president.  It gave me hope--how Obama-cliche is that?--but it did.  It showed me what made Obama such an amazing leader, though I simultaneously mourned the life our new president had led in comparison.  Looking at Trump's past there is none of the passion for social work and people, none of the world experience and travel that led Obama to have an incredible amount of empathy, none of the strong family ties, and deep-rooted morals.  I am hoping that when I pass this book on it is picked up by someone else that needs inspiration, hope, and an extra push.  I hope it makes them feel that they can stand up, voice their opinions, listen to others, and make a difference.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
2008
Weight: 8 oz
Method of Disposal: Leave in a Lending Library


There are no words other than the author's own to explain what happened to him and those around him.  The horror of his story is more than could be imagined.  One piece that haunts me even weeks later is the way the war followed him.  Each time he thought he was safe the war would catch up to him.  The pain of losing those he loved over and over and over again.  I cannot help but wonder what Ishmael is doing now and what he thinks about America in her current state.  Is he afraid?  Is he done being afraid?  Is this nothing to worry about?

I hope, so much, that he never has to experience violence again and that he will be happy.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds Charles Mackay
1995
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Leaving in Decatur, GA


2017.  It is quickly becoming a year that will be difficult to forget.  We have elected a monster, and he is proving himself to be more immoral/vindictive/cruel than simply dumb.  People are standing up for justice in cities all over the country, though we fluctuate between being frightened and furious.  You cannot look at your phone without another news story popping up that makes you feel like you have swallowed bricks.

I am scrambling to find my footing and a focus for my action.  I feel attacked on all sides.  Our president says he does not read.  He is a quoted as saying to Megyn Kelly in and interview, "I read passages, I read areas, chapters, I don't have the time.  When was the last time I watched a baseball game? I'm watching you all the time."  I am still reading, pouring through pages and pages, looking for some answer to this mania, this complete breakdown of human decency.

I did not find the answer in Extraordinary Popular Delusions, but you can understand why I looked there.  I did find more evidence that I should, in fact, be worried and that en masse people can be nonsensical,unreasonable, and incredibly dangerous.  I am not a religious person, but God help us.