Putting steps in perspective

Yesterday was a physical milestone for me because it was the first time I had the energy to do the Point Isabel off-leash dog park in El Cerrito (one of the ten best dog parks in the United States).  It requires a lot of walking, even if one doesn’t go to the far reaches of the park.  Being right next to the Berkeley shore, it has views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the mouth of the Bay from the Pacific Ocean. 

Our dog Monte routinely has to show the big dogs that he is not afraid to jump into the ocean and catch the ball, even though he is a fraction of the size of the dogs that usually jump in and fight the tide and waves.  This trip was no exception.  People routinely ask what kind of dog he is because when he’s wet and comes out of the water, he doesn’t look like the typical Yorkshire Terrier lap dog, particularly with his fixation on retrieving the ball, which he is very well trained to drop at our feet so he can have yet another indefatigable go at it. Monte doesn’t know it, but he’s probably an inspiration to many a dog.  I had an inspiration from someone myself during this trip.

Through my ups and downs with my crutches and knee problems, procedures, physical therapy and surgery since last October, I was able to do the Hayward Shoreline a few times since then with a lot of assistance, but this was a more public event with now five dogs that Shando and I have to corral.  By and large the dogs mind very well, but these days anytime a dog strays from the pack Shando has to run after them because I’m still getting used to walking with a normal gait and full extension, still relying on a cane for safety, although I could theoretically walk with one with a hitch.

We were heading back to the car with our herd when toward us came a little girl with her mother.  The girl had a knee brace on and was walking with two crutches.  She reminded me so much of my niece Brooke.  She didn’t appear to have the ability to stand up on her feet and her legs were so skinny and weak I wondered to myself if she had ever walked in her life.  I don’t know if she had a permanent condition or was recovering from an injury, but she was elated just to be there and gleeful at all of the dogs who looked at her without judgment or sympathy despite her additional appendages.  I was starting to feel like I needed a rest, so I told Shando that I would sit at the next bench.  Instead, I saw this girl move toward the same bench, and decided she was having so much fun with the strangers dogs around her that I would not distract from it with my own cane and presence.  I forced myself to move along to the next bench further down the path, but the impression she made upon me lingered.  I don’t think her mother and she even had a dog themselves, but she kept on calling to her mother to look at the various dogs that were gathering around her.  She was so joyfully petting the dogs and exclaiming to her mother how soft they were and how cute the two litter mates were that came up to her. 

I wondered if she just thought I was just another old man with a permanent limp, which is one of the reasons for vanity I sometimes preferred the crutches over my cane.  I wondered if she envied the fact that I appeared to only require a cane.  She could not have known that I had just endured almost a half year of frustration with barely being able to walk around my own house, and still having difficulty getting up my own stairs.  I almost wanted to ask her about her crutches and how they were serving her, but I didn’t want to open up the Pandora’s box and embarrass her or myself.  I just smiled and hobbled past her, enjoying the sound of her continued, unabashed thrill at being so popular among the puppies.  I don’t know how long she will have to suffer with the inability to stand or run, but even if it is permanent, she had a glow about her that made my problems seem trite by comparison. 

I wonder if girls like this, or other wheelchair-bound children, ever looks at themselves and wonder how much better off they have it than kids in the past or other parts of the world.  There are families fleeing war and oppression, even in modern times.  I know I would fight immigration laws and risk my life if I had a chance to improve the lives of my family members.  I wouldn’t expect children to pontificate about this, because as parents we want to shelter our children from the troubles of the world.  At the same time, we want children to be our future leaders (sooner than later), which is why it is always inspiring to find self-appointed young advocates speak out about violence and bigotry, as we’ve seen in the news very recently.  Just like with my knee and my ability to walk, I know enough about politics to know that we will always have setbacks.  As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  I couldn’t decide if my heart was broken by seeing this girl with legs she was unable to use, or galvanized.  I’ll take two painful, limping steps forward and one buckling step back any day.

We Lost One of the Good Ones

I found out one of my good friends (and fellow Yorkie owner) from NYC Michael DeMarsico died a few days ago at the age of 44. I know everyone says only good things about those who have died, but he was truly pure to the core and must have had perfect karma, despite the tragic nature of the disease that took him at such a young age. He was a prolific writer and loyal friend and was survived by his husband and his dog Chloe. I cherish the long emails we had together over the past two decades and the countless coffees and social events I shared with him. I’m so glad I saw him on my last trip to NYC in 2014 (one of the pictures with Chloe is below) when he was already struggling with some of the symptoms of MSA, but he was STILL making jokes about it as he lost motor function. Every time I started to feel the tiniest bit sorry for myself when I had limited mobility this past four months I thought of people like him and so many others suffering, like the children of Syria and the refugees all over the world whose problems dwarfed my inability to walk without crutches. Now that I’m healing and I know I’ll make a full recovery, I hope to return to NYC for the celebration of his life in a month or so. I could only hope to be as genteel and brave as Mike was facing a painful and slow death head on. I’m sure he will be immortalized by his writing. It was at his behest that he not have a funeral but rather a party for his friends, which only demonstrates that he was a total class act. Rest in Peace sweet man.


Raccoon face proxy, Teleprompter Trump, speaking like he was on a hostage video (a la Hollywood Access tape with his pants down) refused to include the word “gun” in his speech after the Parkland school massacre. Today his deputy spokesperson, Raj Shah, said that the shooter got the “WEAPON” (emphasis mine) by going through a background check, and Shah repeatedly said “weapon,” carefully omitting that the WEAPON was an AR-15 GUN, placating the NRA with their dog whistles.

This after 45 made it easier for mentally ill people to get guns by rescinding the executive order of President Obama and even having the audacity to reduce funding for mental health services by 25% AND school safety by 36%.  Our first orange president’s recently adopted party members and racist, munchkin attorney general mustered the GUTS to mutter about how we need to “do more.” The 45th said that they are here for whatever the victims need,  We wouldn’t NEED funeral expenses if you had not allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse, making it legally sanctioned for a highly disturbed person hearing voices like our current Vice President claims to hear from buying powerful GUNS when he’s not legally allowed to buy a beer.  People spoke up and the FBi was so busy brown-nosing 45 for his basket of scandals that they didn’t follow up with specific threats that came in as recently as last month. The availability of assault GUNS are so prevalent in our society, and the murderer in Parkland was a self-hating punk affiliated with Trump’s beloved white supremacist base. 

We actually NEED the Republican whores of the NRA to say the word “gun” initially. We NEED supposedly independently wealthy amateur politician reality star Putin-backed leaders to reject donations and influence (over $21 million to Trump) if they are truly not beholden to lobbyists of the extremes.  We need politicians who would not accept money out of hand from organizations such as the NRA, which actively ignores even what their own inflated loosely-compiled memberships roles think as reasonable gun control legislation.  Of course, with a hypocrite-in-chief, children SHOULD come before gun lobby donations, but I’m not holding my breath. Even supposedly maverick Repugs like John McCain do NOTHING while he dies from cancer and garners as much sympathy as he can for being a former POW.  I hope he enjoys the donations of the NRA of almost $8 million. I hope his family will enjoy that money for generations to come as their fallacious and vacuous prayers are tweeted out to the victims’ families, together with other large receivers of NRA contributions who tweet, but still lack the guts to say a GUN was involved here in the murder of 17 more people in one setting.

Now our predator-in-chief is using the Broward County tragedy as an excuse to visit his winter palace in Florida (at taxpayer expense) and make it into a publicity visit. I applaud the victims of the shooting of an ASSAULT GUN for rejecting this stunt, as they attend funerals for fourteen year-old children who had promise.

Knee Surgery

This was my effused knee at its worst, right before my surgery.  that’s 58 cc’s of infection they withdrew just this one time in the Emergency Room.  At least the view from the hospital room was nice!

Timber’s big day

Timber was amazing at the dog park and we got her a new, fancy velcro harness that matches her fur to replace her collar.  She loved being bathed and brushed earlier this week.  She has a checkup at the end of the month.  Here’s some video of the park today, together with her new siblings, and last night playing like a 13 year old puppy with Shando:

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