Archive | August 2011

What I learned from Rocco:

When I first made up my mind to go back to school to become a veterinarian, I decided it would be good to get some experience working for a vet, before I invested a lot of time and money in my education. I found a job at a very unique vet clinic in Norman, Ok and ended up working there over five years. I learned so much from that job, not just about the profession but about interacting with people in a professional environment. But I also learned a very valuable life lesson, from dog named Rocco.

I met Rocco during my first week on the job. He was tragic. He’d been rescued from the side of the road. He had most likely been hit by a car some time in the past and his pelvis was shattered. He couldn’t use his rear legs at all and got around by dragging himself with his front legs. He had sores and infections all over and was completely emaciated – nothing but skin and bones. Even without his injuries, Rocco was not an attractive dog. A shar pei mixed with something really ugly. He had coarse, prickly fur, a thick muzzle, and stubby ears. His body was stocky and his legs were skinny. His fur was a bland uninspiring shade that wasn’t really black, or grey, or brown. He was, however, blessed with big brown eyes and a great smile. When I first met him, as pathetic as he was, as horrible as he must have felt, and with the pain he must have been in… he turned his face toward me and gave me a warm and friendly doggy smile. He tried to pull himself to me to say hi.

I am not one to project human reactions onto dogs, but Rocco… As he sat there in his stainless steel cage, generously padded with towels and blankets, a bowl of fresh water, and a food bowl we couldn’t keep full no matter how we tried…. I was sure that Rocco knew he was better off. There was something in his eyes that said he was grateful for his circumstances.

Over time, Rocco got better. He had a surgery to repair his pelvis, and the staff would help him to go outside with a towel sling under his hips. He began to be able to stand on his right rear leg, and then he regained some use of his left as well. His body filled out, his sores healed, and eventually he could get up and walk and then run on his own. While he never recovered full use of his rear limbs, over the next several months, he healed enough that he no longer needed help to get around.

And this whole time, months of surgery, healing, therapy, this whole time living most of his life in a cage… Rocco remained happy, friendly, and grateful. He never failed to great me with a joyous smile on his ugly, funny face and, once his pelvis healed, a happy twitchy tail wag as well. It really seemed as if some part of him remembered starving on the side of that road and knew he was better off where he was.

For five years, Rocco was there every day I went to work. He was never adopted, never had a family. He thought he was big and tough and would pick fights with the other dogs who lived there, so he wasn’t even able to play with other dogs. He spent most of his time in a cage or a run, let out to play three to four times a day. And yet… he remained one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever known. Every time I’d bring him a bowl of food he’d look up at me with a big, warm, brown-eyed look of gratitude. Every time I saw him, he would smile at me and wag his tail.

Near the end of my time working at that hospital, I was accepted into Oklahoma State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. I knew I would be leaving at the end of that summer, and I knew how much I would miss Rocco, but I thought it would be because I had to leave him. I didn’t know we were about to lose him.

At first, when Rocco began to be a little slow getting up, we all thought he was getting a little bit older. None of us knew how old he was; he’d been an adult when he first came in. But then… he lost his appetite. For the first time in five years, Rocco was turning away from his food. Even then, he seemed sorry about it, like he didn’t want to disappoint us. He was losing weight and losing energy and we knew something was wrong. Even then, Rocco smiled and wagged his tail every time he saw me. But then, the doctor gave us the bad news: Lymphoma.

I only had a few months left working there, and Rocco was a little worse every day. He lost weight until he began to look like the sad bag of bones and skin he’d first been. He found it harder and harder to get up, until we had to help him out of his cage and outside. It was so hard to see him like that, but Rocco… was still happy. He still smiled, his eyes still thanked us, his tail still wagged. He still seemed grateful that we hadn’t let him die alone on the side of the road five years earlier.

My last day working there I found Rocco down, unable to get up. He had become incontinent and could barely move. The doctor decided it was time. I sat with him, holding his ugly head and petting him. And even to the end, he thumped his tail and smiled. And then he was gone.

Rocco did not have what any would have considered a good life for a dog. He spend most of it locked up and he didn’t have a family outside of the hospital staff who came and went. He was injured and never completely recovered full use of his limbs. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised or blamed him if he’d been cranky and ill-behaved. But he wasn’t. He was unfailingly grateful, happy, and friendly. Somehow, Rocco seemed to understand something that very few people ever figure out: how to be grateful for what he had.


I get knocked down….

This has been a very busy week for me and a very challenging one, personally and professionally.

So, I don’t have a carefully crafted opinion to offer you today.

I just have this thought:

A little over five years ago, life knocked me over hard enough I quit trying to get back up.

A bad day, a bad week, month, year… heading fast into a really bad decade. Well… enough. I am getting back up, dammit. You hear that, life!?! I AM getting back up.

You can keep pushing me and tripping me because I can’t stop that, but I am getting back up each time.


And THAT is my promise to myself.

Michele Bachman, Bad photos, and Bad Questions

In the interest of full disclosure: I don’t like Michelle Bachman. I am a social liberal, and proud of it. Which means that a good deal of what Bachman stands for horrifies me. With that said, however, this post is less about Bachman and more about the media. I have seen the question more than once in the last week or two, “Would the media treat a man this way?” I would be very  interested in the source of this oft repeated question. For a woman to run for president and then play the “woman as victim” card makes me a bit nervous. I’d be far more impressed if she and her followers laughed it off.

Part I – Bad photos

The first big story of the last couple weeks came when Newsweek put a less than flattering photo of her on their cover. The argument seems to be that Bachman is rather photogenic and they would clearly have had to work at it to come up with a picture that bad.

She doesn’t just have conservatives rushing to her defense, she’s even got the National Organization for Women crying foul – an organization that despises pretty much everything she stands for. Jon Stewert of the Daily Show even calls it “petty.”

What do I think? First, I don’t know that it is particularly sexist. Remember the retouched photos of OJ Simpson?

Retouched photos of OJ Simpson

OJ Simpson's mug shots were retouched by TIME. Unfortunately, they sat on news stand right next to unretouched versions of the same image.

And, how about this cover of Sonya Sotomayor?

Image of Sonya Sotomayor on the National Review

I suppose we should be grateful they didn't add a huge wart.

Or these images of Hillary Clinton pulled from Fox News?

Unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton

There's some crazy eyes for ya.

Unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton

Unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton from Fox News

Or these images pulled from other conservative sources:

Unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton from Tea

Unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton from Tea

My personal favorite

My personal favorite

Or these images of our president pulled from conservative websites:

I'm pretty sure I've seen him look better

I'm pretty sure I've seen him look better

So, I think we can conclude that using unflattering photos is not restricted just to conservative women.

Was it wrong? Yes. It was. The news media – ALL NEWS MEDIA – have a responsibility to fairly report the news without bias. By deliberately selecting an unflattering image, they are subtly slanting whatever else they have to say against that person. So, yes, Newsweek was out of line. But if you’re going to be outraged about it, I expect to hear that you’re equally outraged by each example of it, including when Fox News deliberately selects an unflattering image of someone YOU don’t like.

Also, if you’re a fan of Michelle Bachman, you really should be thanking Newsweek for the sympathy votes.

Part II – Bad Questions

At the republican debate in Iowa, a reporter asked Michelle Bachman if, as president, she would be submissive to her husband as the bible says she should. The audience booed and more outrage was sparked.

As a feminist (and, btw, when I call myself a feminist, I mean what the word ACTUALLY means, not what Rush Limbaugh wants you to believe it means), I would be offended if just about any other woman were asked this question. It’s rude and it’s wildly inappropriate for someone who might be leading this country someday.

However, this particular person has made repeated statements regarding her submission to her husband. She went to law school because her husband gave her permission. In 2006, she spoke at a Minneapolis church and explained that even though she hates tax law, her husband told her “to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law” She says that she asked herself “Why should I go and do something like that?” and then explained, “But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”

So, she did something she didn’t want to do, something she “hates” because her husband told her to.

Even then, I wouldn’t be as concerned, except that the Bachmans steadfastly refuse to discuss Marcus Bachman. Questions about him are deflected or flat ignored.

The question becomes, if we elect Michelle Bachman, which Bachman will actually be president? The one we elected? Or the one the president is submissive to? For example, if there is a law that she wants to sign, her advisors want her to sign, the American people all want her to sign… but Marcus says, “Veto it!” what is our president going to do? Defy her husband? Or defy the rest of the country?

Personally, I’m not really happy with the idea of our president being submissive to ANYONE. Because, frankly, if the President is submissive to Marcus Bachman, that means the entire country is submissive to Marcus Bachman. And I am NOT ok with that.

Given her past statements, I do not have a single problem with that reporter’s question. I want to hear a clear and frank statement from her that her role as Marcus Bachman’s wife would be completely separate from her role as President. That in their private quarters, he is the boss, but if she makes it to the Oval Office, she would be acting as Madam President, NOT as Mrs. Marcus Bachman. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

59 Seconds. Think a little, change a lot. Richard Wiseman

I am not into self-help books. I can’t think of a one that’s actually made a difference in my life.

And, in fact, it’s too early to say if this one will change my life in any meaningful way either, but I’m sure enjoying reading it.

I love science. I love hearing how a clever experiment was designed, the results, what can be learned from it… science is seriously cool stuff, and Richard Wiseman is clearly a scientist.

Each chapter is laid out with indepth descriptions of various experiments relative to the topic at hand – for instance, attraction and love. There were several experiments to determine if something elevated your heart rate (for instance, a roller coaster) would you find someone more attractive (yes).

At the END of each chapter is the 59 second message. In this case, skip the quiet restaurant for a first date and go see a thriller.

Even if you don’t find yourself in need of any self-help, this book is a very enjoyable read. And now I have to go work on my diary. It’s part of my 59 seconds!

59 Seconds. Think a little, change a lot

Did we learn NOTHING?

In the past few weeks, we have been witness to one of the ugliest, most partisan political battles of our history. This was a battle that threatened to fling not just our own economy, but the entire world’s economy into an economic recession. How much of that threat was real and how much was posturing and rhetoric we may never know.

The Budget Deal Word Cloud

The American public, watching this potential tragedy unfold, used words such as “ridiculous, disgusting, stupid, childish, idiotic, crazy, and disaster,” according to a Pew research center report. Public opinion was overwhelmingly negative at about 75%, with less than 5% having a positive view. This was true no matter the political affiliation. Every one of the politicians involved also took a “less favorable” hit. Opinion of the GOP has become 42% less favorable and of the Dems, 30% less favorable.

So, the American public is overwhelmingly unhappy with the way this crisis (some say “manufactured crisis) was handled. The response of Americans to this “disgusting” display of blatant partisan politics? To become more partisan. In each case, people who supported the president support him more and people who support Boehner and the GOP now support them more.

Now, it is not my intent here to place blame, nor is it my intent to take a “each side is equally horrid” stance. My point is that despite claiming that we hated what just happened, that we are disgusted by it, that we think it was horrible and childish… our reaction to it is to each take a giant step further away from each other.

If we continue becoming more polarized, EVERY major decision that has to be made is going to be a reenactment of the “idiotic” display we just witnessed. We have got to find a way to work together. We’ve got to find a way to take two big steps back together.

You know what? You, every one of you? Your way is not the only right way! There’s your path to the goal, and there’s his path to the goal and there’s my path to the goal. Maybe yours is straighter, but mine is prettier, and his… his goes around that big giant hill you just plowed through and therefor his is faster than either of ours. Well… why can’t we detour around that hill and maybe take a quick stop at the scenic overlook? We’ll get there. We don’t have to go your way. And just to bring this back around to my point, if you’ve got the car, but I’ve got the keys, and he’s got the gas credit card and the GPS…. we ain’t goin nowhere until we agree on something.

PS – You GO, Gabby!