Thursday, February 9, 2012

What we feed our girls.

This post will be written at a later time.  A page needed to be created for another project.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Opal gets Fixed

We took Opal to Prevent a Litter today to have her spayed.  When we adopted her from Gwinnett County, GA they told us that she hadn't been fixed but they left out the part wherein she had heart worms.  Oh well, we would have taken her anyway but it would have been nice to know.  We took Opal to her first check up and that is when we found out about the heart worms and I wasn't too concerned about spaying at that point...I just wanted her to get better.  The heart worm treatment debate will be another post.  Anyway, I called the Richmond SPCA for an appointment and they said they would not do it because of the heart worms so we decided to treat the heart worms for a while then have her spayed.  Prevent a Litter was great to work with and knew all of her history and said that it would not be a problem and they were right.  Opal is home and resting comfortably in her chair.

I told Opal that we were going to have her fixed and she said, "I'll be able to hear!  Yippee!"  "No, Opal" I said "God made you deaf and we can't fix that.  This is a different kind of fixed."  "What do you mean, Daddy?  Am I broken?" she asked.  "No, Opal, you're not broken.  You're prefect just the way you are" I told her.  "But why do I need to be fixed, Daddy?"  "Opal, you're going to have an operation so you can't have any more puppies.  That's what I mean by fixed" I told her.  "No, Daddy!  They cut you open in an operation!  I don't want to be cut open!" Opal yelled.  "Opal, it's okay.  Doggies get this done all of the time.  You're sisters had it done when they were smaller" I told her.  "But, Daddy, it's still an operation and I'm scared.  It's going to hurt."  "Yes, it may hurt after the operation but you're asleep during the operation.  It only takes a few minutes and they're done" I said.  "I'm going to talk to my sisters" she said and off she ran.  "Pickles!" yelled Opal.  "What's wrong, Opie?" answered Pickles.  (We sometimes call Opal Opie)  "Daddy said I was going to get an operation...that I was going to get fixed!  He said you had that done, too!  What is it?" Opal asked.  "Well" said Pickles "the vet cuts a little hole in your stomach and takes out your puppy-making parts.  Look!" says Pickles, as she show Opal the scar on her stomach where she was fixed.  "I was just a puppy and I don't even remember having it done" said Pickles.  "I remember getting sleepy then I woke up and Mommy and Daddy were there to take me home.  I was fixed before I even came home!"  "But Pickles" said Opal, "why did Mommy and Daddy not do that with me?"  "Well, Opal, you know you're from Georgia and that is a long way away but like all of us deaf dogs, Mommy and Daddy loved you so much that they didn't want to wait until Georgia could fix you so they brought you home and are going to do it here" Pickles told her.  "Oh" said Opal "but I've been here for four months.  Why are they just now doing it?" Opal asked.  "Remember Daddy telling you that you had heart worms?" asked Pickles.  "Yes.  I remember that" said Opal.  "Well, they wanted to make sure the worms weren't growing any more so the operation could be as safe as possible" said Pickles.  "That makes sense.  Daddy just wanted to make sure I was going to be okay" said Opal.  "That's right" answered Pickles.  

Next, Opal finds Nea and Pig playing around as usual.  "Nea!  Pig!  Daddy says I'm going to be fixed!  I'm scared!" Opal yelled.  "It's okay" said Pig.  "I was fixed just after I moved in and it was fine.  See?  Here's my scar.  You almost can't see it."  "Yeah" said Nea.  "My scar is right here."  "Wow" Opal said, looking at the scars.  "Did it hurt?"  "A little" Nea said "but it was okay after a couple of days."  "Mine hurt a little bit, too" said Pig "but Mommy and Daddy give you extra treats and kissed and cuddles.  Right, Nea?"  "That's right, Pig!  I almost forgot about that!  They give you extra stuff so you'll feel better!  I loved my extra cuddles."  "Okay" said Opal "I guess this isn't too bad after all.  Thanks!"  And with that, Opal was off to look for me.

"Daddy?" said Opal.  "Yes, Opie?"  "I talked to Pickles, Nea and Pig about this fixing thing and I guess it's okay".  "That's good.  I'm glad you feel better about it.  I just want you to be healthy and to not have any more puppies" I said.  "I know, Daddy.  I don't want to have any more puppies either.  I don't want the bad men to take them from me again" she said.  "What do you mean, Opal?"  "Well' she said "when I lived in Georgia, I was used as a breeding dog to make puppies.  The bad men would take my puppies and sell them to other bad men and my puppies would become bait dogs for fighting dogs and would end up hurt...or killed."  "My God, Opal!" I exclaimed.  "How do you know they died?"  "Because, Daddy, I saw one of my puppies die while other dogs were fighting him" Opal said.  "I was so sad, I cried myself to sleep.  I knew that I had to escape...anything was better than living there and seeing my puppies die."  "Opal, how did you escape?" I asked.  "Well" she said "one night, while they were sleeping, I was able to get out of my cage and run away.  I ran as fast as I could.  I didn't have any puppies to take with me, because they were all given away, so it was easy.  I ran and ran as fast as I could as far as I could then animal control found me and took me to the kennel and a couple of weeks later, Mommy came and got me."  "Wow, Opal, you're really brave!" I said.  "Not really, Daddy.  I was scared the whole time but I knew I couldn't live that way anymore" she said.  "But now I have a really great home with doggie sisters and human brothers and a sister and you and Mommy...and I love you all so much.  I miss my puppies sometimes but you are always there with extra cuddles and love so it's okay."  "I'm sorry you had to go through all of that, Opal" I said and in tears at this point.  "It's okay, Daddy, don't cry" she said.  "I love my life and everyday I'm a day further from my past and life is fun!  I don't want to have any more puppies because there are enough puppies in the world already."  "Indeed, Opal, there are enough puppies" I added.  "So how do you feel about getting fixed now?" I asked.  "It's okay, Daddy.  I know I have to do it and I'm not scared.  I'm going to be a big girl!  I'm going to be like my sisters!" she said.  "That you are, Opie!" I told her.  "Daddy?  Promise me something?" she asked.  "What's that, Opie?"  "Promise me that I'll always be your itty bitty pitty."  "Opal, I promise, you will always be Daddy's itty bitty pitty" I told her.  "Thanks, Daddy.  I love you" she said as she snuggled up in my lap.  "I love you, Opal" I told her and I held her tight.  "As long as you live with me, which will be for the rest of your life, no one will ever hurt you again."

Right now, Opal is very sleepy from her surgery so we didn't have much of a chance to talk but she did say, "see my scar?" as she pointed at her stomach.  "I'm a big girl now!"  

That you are, Opal.  That you are.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Home for Christmas

I'm investigating the circumstances surrounding a body that was found in the 2000 block of Mecklenburg Street on November 23, 2011.  I'n not revealing any police secrets about him and this story has been all over the news...twice and I haven't had so much a single credible phone call.  The couple of leads I did have just didn't pan out.  At this point, I'm stuck but I'm not writing to get help with this.  I'm writing because no one has stepped up to say this is my son, or brother or friend.  Is there not someone out there who is missing this guy?  Is there not someone out there that wants him home for Christmas other than me?  For the past (almost) month, I've been trying to put a name with the body and get him home and I wanted to do it before Christmas.  Why, you ask?  Because he deserves it.  Everyone deserves to be home or at least where they want to be on Christmas morning.  When he was a kid, I bet he couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve and stayed awake to hear Santa on the roof.  He probably woke his parents up at the crack of dawn so he could see what Santa left for him.  Even though his tree had been up for a while, I'm sure the lights twinkled just a little brighter that morning.  His parents love him very much.

There is also the reverse of this case going on right now.  There's a missing person that has been all over the news whose parents want him home.  They are looking for him as are the police and, tonight, the fire department.  They're active in the investigation and want very much to find him.  They stepped forward to say we want him home for Christmas.  We want him with us.  He needs to be home for Christmas because he deserves it, too.  He, too, couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve and waited up for Santa.  I bet he was the first one up on Christmas morning and marveled at how beautiful the tree looked with all of the packages under it.  The Christmas dinner smelled and tasted better than the year before.  His parents love him very much.  

I've worked many of them but at least I was able to see my family for a while.  I was where I wanted to be every Christmas.  I have worked Christmas with some very good friends and spent it with family that I love very much and sometimes I was able to do both at the same time.  I spent a few Christmases with families who had a loved one that died that day would never see another Christmas.  Christmas, for them, would forever be a day of sadness.  My mom died 13 days before Christmas in 2003 and it hasn't been the same for me since.  I even spent one Christmas night on a SWAT call out (when I was a medic for the Team).  Sometimes I was where I needed to be.  But the one thing I could be sure of was that where ever I was someone there loved me and was happy I was there.  

Are you going to be where you want to be for Christmas this year?  I'll be working as will my wife but Christmas day is not as important as Christmas Eve this year.  My whole family will be together for the first time in years.  All five kids and my wife and four deaf pit bulls!  I hope to have a great day and make some new Christmas memories.

Home for Christmas?  Even if you can't get there if Christmas is in your heart and if it lives there, you can always be home for Christmas.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Friend Died Today

My friend, Mary Ann, died today of cancer.  That's not really true.  She died of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by the cancer but you get the idea.  I went to see her last night and held her hand.  I talked to her even though she didn't know I was there but I talked to her.  I talked to her about Pickles and the rest of the girls (she never met Piglet or Opal).  We watched the episode of Wheel of Fortune that she was on in 2003.  I've known Mary Ann for several years but never knew she was on Wheel of Fortune!  She was the daily winner and won $11,000!  We sat in silence for a while.  She was struggling to breathe.  When I left, I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her.  I told her to pat Maddie for me, to give her a treat and tell Maddie that I love her.  I talked to her husband, Bob, and he told me about when he asked her to marry him.  As Bob talked, his eyes filled up with tears but he never cried while I was there.  He told me about how much he loved her and how empty his life was going to be when she passed.  He talked about being alone. 

He not only lost his wife but lost his best friend.  You see, they worked together and when I say together, I really mean together.  They run Captain Buzzy's Beanery which is a coffee shop in Church Hill.  Bob handled the business but Mary Ann was the soul.  She was always there with a hug or a smile.  Always positive and upbeat, even as cancer wrecked her body.  They would work all day together then spend all night together...they were their everything.  Bob talked about how hard it has been running two businesses while Mary Ann was going through all of this.  He wasn't selfish or saying it was a burden but that it was hard not having his constant companion at his side.  He wondered how he could get through all of this.  He said he was glad he had good, true friends that were there for him.  We were by the elevators and he thanked my for being a friend (I've known Bob for about 20 years).  Just before leaving, I hugged him but said nothing.  What could I say?  He was losing the love of his life and anything I would have said would have seemed trite.

I stopped by the chapel on the way out and prayed.  I'm not a religious person but I am a spiritual one and believe there is a difference.  I prayed that Mary Ann find peace and I asked Him to speed her passing so that she would not suffer long.  I asked that He watch over her and give her a special place to rest and take care of her when she arrived home.  

As I was driving I thought about Donna and how much I loved her.  I thought about being alone if she died and wondered how I would handle it but I came to the conclusion that there would not be enough Guinness in all the world to drown out the sorrow.  When Donna and I talk about dying I always tell her I want her to die first.  I'm not being selfish because I want to live.  The things I've seen have been enough for two lifetimes and I'm not afraid of death.  I want her to go first because if she loves me half as much as I love her, I don't want her to live with that hurt.

Today is a sad friend died today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Here's Opal!

Hey everyone!  My name is Opal and I’m an American Bulldog mix and I’m deaf, just like my sisters but that doesn’t stop me!  I can do anything a hearing dog can do.  I love to snuggle on the sofa and sit too close when you have food!  I come when I’m called but that’s not too much of a problem because I don’t let my humans out of my sight.  I think that’s something that all deaf dogs have in common.  We don’t like waking up in a room where there were people and now there are none.  I get scared when I can’t find my humans!

I got my family in September 2011 and I couldn’t be happier!  I was in the Gwinnett County, GA Animal Care and Control Shelter and had been there about two weeks when my Mommy and all of my sisters came down from Richmond, VA to adopt me.  One of the animal control officers has a soft spot for deaf dogs in his heart and he kept me away from the PTS list until I could be adopted.  He is hard of hearing and his wife is deaf.  They teach American Sign Language at the local collage so I was really lucky to have come to this shelter.  Luckily he was friends with a great dog advocate on Facebook and she put me on there and my Daddy saw me and put me on Mommy’s page.  Mommy fell in love with me when she saw me and after a phone call to the shelter Mommy drove to Georgia AT NIGHT to get to the shelter in the morning to meet me!  I was really skinny and I’ve had at least two litters and I think people were using my puppies as bait dogs for fighting.  Sometimes I miss my puppies and I hope they’re okay.  I met my Mommy and I loved her when I saw her just like I loved my sisters.  I was shy at first but I always wagged my tail and Mommy called me “wiggle butt”.  Mommy adopted me on the spot and then we were on the way to my forever home!  I didn’t have a name when I was at the shelter but someone on Facebook started calling me “Gwinnett” but when Mommy saw me, she named me Opal.  On the way home my sisters told me about everyone in the family including Daddy.  I was scared about meeting this Daddy person because my sisters said he’s loud so I thought he was mean but when I met him, I knew he wasn’t mean!  He’s just a big softie and loves us all!  Daddy calls me “Itty Bitty Pitty”!

A few days after getting home I went to the vet for a check up and the vet told Mommy and Daddy that I had heart worms.  I didn’t know what that was but Mommy and Daddy looked worried but the vet said that I would be okay.  I had an x-ray and the worms aren’t that bad.  The vet is treating me with heat worm preventive and antibiotics and we’re not going to use the vaccine for heart worms even if the vet had it because the vet says that sometimes doggies die because the worms die too fast and we can choke on them.  The vet said I had to stay quiet and calm and not go on any long walks and no dog parks while I was being treated and I’m doing all of that the best I can.  When I first got to my new house I slept a lot I think because I was able to relax and I knew I wouldn’t get hurt.  Now I’m coming out of my shell and I play some with my sisters but since I’m older, I have to let them know whose boss.  Even though I’m the newest doggie I’m the oldest at about three years old and I tell my sisters where my place is.  I growl a bit when they get too close and at first I had to bark at them but now they know my personal space and no one can get too close when I’m snuggling with Mommy and Daddy!  Because I’m feeling better, I run and play with my sisters even though I’m supposed to keep calm but I can’t help it.  I love them all and they all love me…even when I growl at them when I’m snuggling.

I was really skinny when I came home...I weighted about 25 pounds and you could see my ribs and spine!  Since coming home, I’ve gained a few pounds and my coat is shiny and soft.  Like my sisters, every time I get a bath I seem to get more spots!  Nea gets her spots on her fur but I get my spots like Pickles, they are on my skin.  Daddy makes our dog food out of raw chicken, brown rice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green beans and kale.  He adds extra vitamins and egg shells to make us grow big and strong.

I’m really glad I've found my family and I love them very much.  I’ll never forget the day I left the shelter for what I know will be the last time ever!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Do I Do It?

Why do I have four deaf dogs?  Because I can't take a fifth one right now.  Why did I even choose a deaf dog?  I didn't choose Pickles, Nea, Piglet or Opal...they all chose me.  Why do I make their food from scratch?  Because the vast majority of commercial dog food isn't worth the material used for the packaging.  Why am I on Facebook so much?  I'm trying to get the word out about deaf dogs and I'm trying to get the ones in the shelters adopted.  The deaf dogs in rescue I'm not so worried about because, although that may not be their forever home, they are safe and loved with fosters.  The ones in the kill shelters are the ones that concern me the most.  I wish I could bring them all home but I can't.  I wish that I could play with them all but I can't.  I wish that I could love them all and I do but I can't hold them and tell them.

Did this all start with Polar?  Sorta.  Polar was the first time that I stepped outside my comfort zone and fought for something that didn't relate to who I was.  It wasn't about Mac the husband, Mac the parent, Mac the police officer or Mac the friend.  It was about Polar and what was going to be done to her through no fault of her own.  Did it really start there?  No.  It all started in 2002 when we bought an American Mastiff puppy from a breeder (I didn't know any better back then) in Ohio and named that puppy "Saint Brigid's Madred".  When we were looking for names we wanted something Gaelic or Scottish and wanted it to mean "monster" because we knew she was going to be big.  We looked everywhere and found the word "madred" (pronounced mah-drid) which meant "monster" (although I can't find that reference now).  That was perfect!  Saint Brigid has many meanings to Donna and I and they are intensely personal.  Click on the link for more information on Saint Brigid.  Maddie, as she became know,n was our child.  We loved her and cared for her like doting parents do but we did make mistakes.  I spoke harshly to her and even spanked her.  I got mad at her and yelled.  I know now that bad dogs come from bad owners and although I didn't consider myself as a bad owner, looking back...I was.  Maddie was a great companion but I took her for granted and didn't treasure that friendship I had with her.  She loved me, unconditionally, even when I didn't deserve it.  There were times when I thought she was too much and wanted to give her away but I realized that I made a commitment to her and knew I couldn't do that.

Maddie began to get older and was less active then she started to not be able to get up without assistance.  We were told that this breed of Mastiff only lived seven to nine years and we had had her for about six so her slowing down did not concern me although it should have.  You see, when she was a puppy, we fed her a commercial brand from a national dog food maker available at your local pet store.  Then later, it became too difficult to go to the pet store because it was another thing on the errand list so we started buying dog food made by a national dog food maker available at the grocery store.  I was to find out years later that I would have been better off feeding her the bag it came in.  

In September of 2009, we had to help Maddie get up because she wouldn't stand on her own and when she would walk, her spine was twisted so she would walk sideways.  Still, I didn't take her to the vet.  I just thought she was getting older and the end was coming but did I play with her any more that I did before?  Not really.  In November 2009, I had to help her up and down the stairs because she couldn't walk them.  Did I spend any more time with her?  Not really.  Later in November I had to pick her up in my arms and carry her outside several times a day to go potty.  Did I love her anymore?  Not really.  In fact, I was mad at her because "she" was like this.  

I took her to the vet and wanted the vet to fix her.  The vet took some x-rays and we discovered Maddie had arthritis in her upper back causing her not to be able to walk.  I took Maddie to another vet who began treatment with Chinese herbs and acupuncture and after one treatment, I saw a little improvement and I was hopeful that she would get better.  I started feeding her a raw diet, like the vet said to and she looked like she was doing better.  Through scheduling problems, I wasn't able to get another appointment with the new vet for three weeks and I thought that would be okay but as it turns out, it wasn't.

On December 10, 2009, I took Maddie outside and it had been raining.  Maddie was still big (about 140 pounds) and while carrying her, I misjudged the steps, missed the last one and almost dropped her but didn't and sat her down roughly.  When I went to pick her up, she bit me and I knew in that one instance she was in pain and the things I was doing for her weren't for her...they were for me.  She was hurting and I know she was embarrassed because she had to be carried out to go potty.  I knew in that one instance, her time had come and I had to do what I my heart was the right thing for her.  The next day, I visited with a friend and we talked about what had happened and what had to be done.  From there, I went to the vet and made the arrangements for Maddie to be euthanized at my home the following day and then I left work.  I went home, held Maddie and didn't let her go.  Friends and family came to the house and loved on her like never before.  We gave her an old blanket, that smelled like us and covered her up.  My daughter gave her a stuffed toy and she slept in the living room.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I knew that this was my fault and there was no way for anyone to talk me out of this.  I waited too long, fed her crap and neglected her.

On December 12, we all gathered around Maddie and loved on her all day.  She had the best day of her life!  She knew, in that one day, that she was loved the way she loved.  Friends and family came and sat with her and played with her and she had the best time.

Later in the afternoon, the vet came and was time.  I almost sent her away.  I just couldn't do it but the vet and Donna told me it was the right thing to do.  It was time to let her go.  

I held her in my arms and the vet gave her a shot that made her sleep.  The vet said she was sleeping and wouldn't feel what would come next.  I had a friend read the following Masonic prayer which is given at a certain time during the raising of a Master Mason:
THOU, O GOD! knowest our down-setting an our up-rising. and understandeth our thoughts afa off. Shield and defend us from the evil intentions of our enemies, and support us under the trials and afflictions we are destined to endure, while traveling through this vale of tears. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass: turn from him that he may rest, till he shall accomplish his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down, and riseth not up till the heavens shall be no more. Yet, O Lord! have compassion on the children of thy creation; administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save them with an everlasting salvation. So mote it be. Amen.
With that, the vet administered the medicine that took my Maddie from me.  She was still and silent but she didn't hurt anymore.  She wasn't in pain but I was.  The guilt and pain I felt, and feel to this very day, is still very real and some days almost all consuming.  I didn't do enough for her while she was alive but I was able to give her the greatest gift of all...the gift of freedom.  I know she'll be waiting for me at the Bridge and before we cross, I know I'll have to answer for a lot of things I did and didn't do to her. 

It rained all weekend.  I believe the Heavens were crying for me.  I couldn't drink enough on this day to forget what happened and I couldn't drink enough the next day to forget what happened the day before.

We had her cremated and the company was very professional the day she died as they were when we picked her up on Monday.  I bought her a little table at Target before we picked her up so she would have a place to stay forever.  No matter what, this is her forever home!  To this day, she's in the same spot.  She even has her own Christmas tree (the little Charlie Brown Christmas tree) and I know she loves it very much.

I believe Maddie is watching and I believe that she is guiding my path when it comes to these deaf dogs...all deaf dogs.  I think that Polar and Maddie are great friends.  I will never again feed my dogs food wherein the bag is better for them than the contents.  Never again will I get mad at my dogs because they did something bad because I know now that it is the fault of the owner.  Never will I hit my dogs.  I will never take for granted the feel of a wet nose of a sloppy kiss.  I know some people are thinking why didn't we get another Mastiff.  Well, it's because of the life span.  Large breed dogs typically lead shorter lives and I couldn't have another dog for seven years and watch them die.  Pickles chose me!  I didn't choose her!  She started it all and will always be "Daddy's girl".

Lately, I have come to realize that I spend way too much time on things that shouldn't matter and not enough time on the things that do matter.  I forgot to listen.  I forget to speak softly.  In dog terms, I'm doing too much barking and not enough tail wagging.

I forget to tell people that I love them.  Don't you forget to do that!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dad! What's a Hurricane?!

This will be the first storm weathered by the Pittie Trio!  While Dad was busy trying to get the generator running and Mommy was buying food and whatnot, the girls were in the crates getting some nap time.  Mostly because we were all busy scurrying about and some because Pop (my dad) was there and we were working on the generator.  But, alas, no generator.  That will teach me to leave gas in the tank for a long time.  A new carburetor is in order, I think.  So, we have plenty of canned food, dry food and dog food so what else could we ask for?  Oh yeah, beer!  But Daddy has to work all weekend so he couldn't drink the beer anyway.  

We're all talking about Hurricane Irene when Nea comes up and says, "Daddy, what's a hurricane?"  "Well Nea, it's a big storm that has a lot of wind and rain and it lasts for a long time." Nea looked worried.  "What's wrong, Nea?"  "I'm scared, Daddy!  The wind could blow the house away!"  "No, Nee Nee, we're going to be okay" I said.  "Well, what about the rain?  It could wash us down the hill!  I'm scared, Daddy!"  "Nea, we're going to be okay.  This house has been here for 120 years and it's still standing.  We'll be fine."  Nea still looked worried and her tail was tucked almost under her stomach.  "Nee Nee, what's wrong, Baby?"  "I'm still scared, Daddy!"  With that, she crawled into my lap and she was shaking.  Of all three of my Deaffies I believe Nea to be the strongest and the most brave but I guess that's when she can see the danger.  Remember, the storm still hasn't made landfall and is, at least, 12 hours away from us.  I think she can feel the storm's approach and maybe the drop in pressure.  Maybe she senses the way we're all running about buying and fixing things.

Nea couldn't get any closer to me unless she was in my shirt and she still looked worried!  "Nea, what's wrong?"  "Daddy, I'm still scared.  What if something happens?  What if we get hurt?  Who's going to take care of you and Mommy if Pickles, Piglet or me get hurt?"  What am I supposed to say to her at this point?  Mommy and I will be at work in large buildings so we're pretty safe but what about them?  The house will be fine.  All of the windows are shut, the patio furniture has been put away and there is plenty of food.  "Well, Nee Nee, I know that you will be okay!  I've been through hurricanes before and it's really going to be okay.  If I didn't think you guys would be safe then I would have just packed up and left.  That's why Matt, Liz and the Brown Dogs are coming up. They weren't safe in Norfolk because the hurricane is coming right through there!"  Wow" said Nea!  "I guess I never thought of that.  You and Mommy wouldn't let anything hurt us."  "No, Nea, we wouldn't.  I told you that when I brought you home from the shelter.  That's why we drove all the way to New Jersey to get you.  We didn't want you to be alone anymore and we wanted to love you!  I wouldn't let anything happen to ANY of you!"  "Okay, Daddy" Nea said.  "I know you love me but I'm still scared."  "Nea, please don't be scared.  If you're scared, you're not able to react; you're frozen with fear.  I want you to be frightened.  If you're frightened, you can still act.  You can help watch the Brown Dogs and help with Piglet and Pickles.  Do you understand?"  "I think I do" said Nea.  "It's okay to be frightened but not scared because I can still protect people and help out.  I can do it, Daddy!  I know I can!"  "I know you can too, Nea!"  And with that, Nea was up and playing.  I could tell that she was still nervous but she was playing with everyone else.

"Daddy!  What's a hurricane?" asked Piglet and Pickles.  "Well, girls, it's a big storm with lots of wind and rain.  Why?"  "We heard you talking to Nea about it but then we heard everything was going to be okay!"  "It will be girls.  We'll be okay!"  "Okay, Daddy!"  And off they went.  Pickles and Piglet are just wired different.  They don't seem to get nervous like Nea but if everyone was the same, wouldn't life be boring?

If you're reading this, I hope you've battened your hatches!