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Micah’s on Deck!

Micah’s on Deck!

“Micah! Do you want to go see the KIDS?”IMG_0509

Ears perk up, tail curls over his back and he starts his happy dance and waits by the door to the garage.  I load our “go bag” full of games, books, slobber towels, Dasani water (he’s THAT spoiled…), carrots, brushes and cookies for the kids.

Bag in trunk, Micah leaps in the back seat. Is this the same dog I had to physically lift out of the car at the groomer by his buttcheeks??

Arriving at the protective custody group home I pop on his Gentle Leader, leash and purple vest.  Mindy greets Micah warmly. “Micah! My sweetie! I was thinking about you ALL day!”

Ah! A newborn beautiful baby has arrived from one of our kids! Less than one day old! Micah sniffs along the side of the bassinet, but it’s set too high for him to kiss baby toes, his favorite flavor.

Another new resident is wide-eyed at the big striped giant and cannot WAIT to get her hands on him! Several kids slip off the sofas and onto the floor, brushing, cuddling and LOVING Micah.  The new girl keeps looking at me as if to say, “Is he REAL?  Can I actually touch him??”  She is in awe and I encourage her to cuddle the giant teddy bear.  Another teen who’s been there over two years shows her how to pour his Dasani and the new girl is laughing so hard; she can barely hold the bottle.  “Don’t pour it too slow or he’ll swallow air!”  Mindy can tell the newer kids all about bloat, the purpose of a mastiff, lipomas, where they originated, how they protect people and all the names, ages and weights of our other mastiffs.   Not her first rodeo!

Laying down in the center of the room with his head raised proudly and front legs crossed, he’s telling us that he SO deserves being the center of attention!

“Miss Mary, Look at Micah! He looks like a king! He’s so noble!  King Micah!”  Oh, yes…Micah knows who he is and he’s exceptional at his job.

We pass out carrots and Micah gets a belly full, spotting which fist is holding the carrot with each child.  We play a round of Dog Bingo while others peruse the books I brought. One of the kids yells, “WOOF!” She won Dog Bingo!  She’s beaming like the sun!  Something GOOD just happened in her life!

Right now, they’re just kids playing a game and loving a dog.  Just kids…not abuse victims, abandoned, rape or incest victims, not part of an evil child trafficking ring,  No one in this room will hurt them.  In this moment, they’re not afraid, defensive, lashing out or angry.  Through this gentle giant, they can just be who they may one day become with a little (or a lot) of help. I’m grateful to be a part of the healing with my giants.

A little Q&A period and our time is up. The kids are so relaxed and happy as we pass by the staff’s desk where they’re checking in yet another new broken child. We’ll see you next time, darlin’.

All the kids follow us to the door, some begging me to leave Micah for the night.  Another asks if I can bring Micah on her next visit with her therapist.  A third has a court appointment and would like Micah there to get her through.  I remind them that I’m here for pet therapy, and any other activities have to be approved by their caseworkers and the state.  As usual, I tell them that Micah’s my dog and sleeps with me, so he can’t spend the night. They’ve had enough disappointment in life, but we have to draw boundaries, or they’d climb in my back pocket.

As we hear all the security locks click into place on the door, I remove Micah’s vest and leash, watch him clamber into the back seat and drop with a “harumph”.  He immediately falls asleep.

Rack up one more successful visit with a snoring giant in the back seat for the long drive home.

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In the Marble

I went to lunch today with my best friend who suggested that I set aside an hour a day to write.  I have been encouraged by so many in the past year and especially in the past few months to just WRITE!  I’ll try to explain my writing as best I can, and as I explained it to my buddy. “Did someone point to a canvas and tell Van Gogh to paint A Starry Night?”  That was my first response to my best bud.  I followed with this little story. One day I was bumbling around Florence, Italy without a map (which is the very best way to bumble).  I would study about what I saw, of course, but in the moment, I just wanted to absorb every single brick, statue, street, smell the veal cooking, taste the wine and be amazed.  In my wandering, and because a creative mind might see things just a little differently, I noticed a long, very old building with a covered walkway.  The building itself was nothing spectacular.  The roof over the walkway was held up by a series of archways.  In the early afternoon light, these archways threw crescent-shaped shadows across the tile.  That’s what caught my eye.  Not the building, not the arches, but the beautiful design that the light played on the tile.  Had to get a picture…or many…now.  I quick-stepped to the arches and then through them onto the walkway, the shutter of my old Kodak clicking crazily, capturing shadows. As I stood there inhaling light and shadow, I noticed a small, rather inconspicuous sign next to a doorway.  Squint.  I stepped closer.  “Admission – 50 lire”.  Admission to what?  Who knew?  Thinking, “Okay, I’ll bite…”, I stepped inside, gave a thin, expressionless attendant behind a podium my fifty lire.  No pamphlet?  No brochure?  No headphones?  “Dove?” I asked her.  “Where?”  She stood there, stone-faced in her spiffy little red bellman’s jacket and pointed to my left.  (I get impatient when I don’t get anticipated information, and I was on the edge of cranky.)  I took approximately 20 grumpy steps when the room opened up and there before me was Michelangelo’s “David”.  My breath was sucked out of me with pure, unadulterated awe.  I had just bumbled into the famous Academia which houses some of the finest renaissance and pre-renaissance works of art in the world.  I had studied Michelangelo, written papers on his life and works, and I was acutely aware that the magnificent sculpture before me was created when the sculptor was 26 years old.  It has been written that he picked out his marble from the quarries in Carrara personally.  They (the infamous “they”) say that he could see David within the block of Carrara marble and “simply” took away whatever wasn’t the David. As an aside, I would like to note that I brought some Carrara marble home with me from that trip with the intent of sculpting it.  After all, it’s in my genes, right?  I ruined every chisel and sculpting tool I owned and couldn’t even scratch it.  It is very, VERY hard, which explains how it lasts for centuries, but how that 26 year-old genius put a dent in it, I will never understand.  I went to the town of Carrara in northern Italy and watched them cut and shape the slabs of marble for shipping.  They did it with water.  Sigh… I spent a good hour staring at the David.  I eventually remembered to breathe.  Every vein in every arm, finger, leg and throughout his body was revealed by the veins that ran through a giant, rough white block of Carrara marble.  It is nothing short of miraculous when you view the detail up close and personal. I finally broke free of the masterpiece, only to find another and yet another; On plaster, on canvas, on wood, gilt in purest gold, the Muses looking down on me from their giant canvas (bigger than any two walls of the room where I now sit), the Madonna and Child throughout the centuries by various artists and scribes, in every medium and at the very back of the Academia…Michelangelo’s unfinished works. Unfinished.  Unfinished?  Why?  An arm and a thigh jutting out of a block of Carrara, and part of a head.  Perfect in every way.  Why did he stop?  Did the Caesar call him away? (“Michelangelo, PAINT!”)  Did it just not come out the way he thought it would?  Did he go blind or die before he could finish? It was at this point of the telling of my “bumble” that my buddy asked me, “Did someone ask him to sculpt The David?” No.  He did it because it came to him.  Through divine providence or pure creative genius it appeared in his mind and in his soul.  He did it because he SAW it and then he HAD to make it real. I am no Michelangelo.  No one is.  But something in me understood that he saw it and HAD to do it because that’s how my writing comes to me; not because someone admires my work or tells me to do it.  It is simply there and I have to, or it isn’t.  It’s that simple. Those of you who know me well also know I’m a bit over a year into finding myself with four English Mastiffs.  You may read that again for confirmation.  Four.  One 210 pound therapy dog with a paw that I’ve nursed, one rescue who had a knee replacement and a tail amputation and two spankin’ new puppies who will also become therapy dogs.  I haven’t felt free to go into my cave as I am now, but I promise you this.  I see things hidden in the marble of my life and they WILL come out.  Thank you all for your patience.

 

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