2020: Reflections, Thanks, and Stress

I’ve never been a “New Year” person. It’s never really mattered to me what a page on a calendar says, and I have definitely never held any sort of belief or superstition that flipping a page on that calendar is symbolic of anything but another passing day.

So all of this “out with 2020” and excitement for 2021 to arrive isn’t in my scope of understanding. To me, it’s another day closer to Trump leaving the WH. Other than that, it’s not much.

However, I think we can all agree that this has been a horrible year for all of us. And while it’s easy to look back on this year and think it completely sucked, I am looking back at the year with some pretty deep thoughts and intensely deep humility and gratitude.

One of the worst parts was/ is the isolation in general. But it occurred to me more than once that this new reality isn’t much different than my life felt before covid. The difference started to become that other people were, for the very first time, experiencing the world I have been stuck in since late 2018. Witnessing the impact of isolation on everyone else was fascinating, sad, scary, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. Me? I just felt less alone in my aloneness and was suddenly surrounded by people who had empathy for me whether they knew it or not. I never pointed it out or made any comments; I just observed their behavior and reaction to living for a brief moment in my shoes – alone, terrified, isolated, unsure about the future, helpless, out of control, restless, unhappy, paralyzed but hyper, in denial, whatever you all were feeling in that moment was an all-to-familiar feeling to me well before the pandemic.

When I look back at this awful year, I actually see a mixed bag. The history books will tell the truth and people truly won’t believe what Americans, and really the entire world, went through during this time. But beyond that, 2020 will always be the year that I learned what true friends I have in the world. I learned that friendship doesn’t have to mean daily contact or face-to-face friendships and that there are friends I’ve had for years that I’ve never actually met <3. I’ve learned that those are the friendships that really add up because when you admit that you’re in trouble, those are the people who help without judging. Who don’t imply that I should leave my dogs behind. Who just know that if I’m raising the white flag, I’m in trouble. Who pitch in if they can, and send love if they can’t. Friends who drive 60 hours round trip to get me in Florida and bring me back to invade their home for an indeterminate amount of time. Friends who reach out in PM and just say hi, or post something for you, or click a heart here and there just to let you know you’ve got people. Friends in the DR who let you share your shit and who understand and don’t judge and who can relate. Friends who become a part of your soul even though you don’t speak each other’s language at all. Friends from France, Germany, Canada, Russia, DR, Peru, Haiti, Holland, Mexico, and I know I’m forgetting other places. Friends all over the world who you would have never known, had you not been in the DR. Friends who are in your life for a reason – thereby meaning that I went to the DR for a reason.

I can look back at this awful year as the year I got to enact something out of an action movie where I got out of the DR running across a rainy tarmac with dogs in crates and on leashes and climbing the steepest tiniest stairs onto the tiniest propeller plane I ever knew existed (the van I rode in across country was larger inside I am NOT exaggerating!) across the ocean for hours because prop planes are slower. And the coolest (?) part, I got to do all my own stunts. I had the bruises, cuts, gashes, and torn clothing to prove it.

I can look back at this awful year as the year that I put my efforts into something and went against all the answers and made something happen. Against all common sense and literally everywhere I turned telling me it wasn’t possible to leave the DR, I learned that it was. I learned that fierce independence is a trauma response, and that it’s okay to ask for help. I learned that people WANT to help if they know WHAT you need. And by myself, I boarded a plane with seven dogs and everything I owned, flew across the ocean, got off the plane in the US, got into a van for another 30 hours with same seven dogs, and drove to a place I’d never seen before (again) to try and figure life out (again).

I can look back at this year as the year I ended up in the same state where I was born and raised, just by simple coincidence. But yet full circle…

I can actually look back at this awful year as a year when I learned SO much. I learned some hard lessons; I learned what really matters to me; I learned that in some ways I’m so much stronger than I ever knew, but I’m also disappointed in myself for failing and for my moments of weakness. BUT then I give myself the motivational speech that failure is just opportunity for growth. I guess I’m wondering, when can I say “uncle”? I think I’ve learned and grown and experienced a hell of a lot in a short period of time and I’m still standing, but can I please get a break? Can someone push the fucking Pause Button?

2020 hasn’t been my worst year. 2018 still holds that honor and hopefully will always be the worst and most painful year of my life (fingers crossed!!). I mostly look back and look at where I am with a bag of mixed emotions. My unknown is looming large and I literally have no idea what steps to take, but I am feeling drawn back to animal rescue. I know I don’t want to do another foster-based rescue organization, but there are countless other ideas and ways for me to rescue animals so I am trying to explore and find cool opportunities around the (preferably western) US.

And I’ll turn the page on the calendar and then it’ll be the next day. ❤

Dogs. Just dogs.

So, the situation here is different. I thought I would explain my living circumstances/environment for anyone who cares!

My host friend Melissa has eight dogs. I’ve been trying to find the right words for their way of life and I think I finally landed on Pet Hotel. They’re permanent residents at a pet hotel.

6 of the tenants were last-chance rescues. All of them have bite records. They’re unpredictable with other dogs. They’re great dogs but they aren’t adoptable. She has had many of these dogs for years. In fact, one of them came from me/Good Karma.

Each of those 6 dogs has their own run in an indoor climate-controlled attached garage. There are “shifts” in place for feeding, let-outs, cleaning the pens, replacing bedding no matter what, etc. They have to be let out one at a time for play because they are unpredictable with one another. They’re all large strong dogs who are teddy bears as long as they are separated.

Shadow, one of the hotel residents. He loves to fetch. Beautiful guy. He’s probably 60 pounds?

There are two more “hotel” residents. They live inside the house and get along great, but they can’t mingle with others. So they spend their time together, but separately from everyone else. All of the dogs seem content and know their routines. They’re happy and clean. And there’s a system that makes it all manageable. Well, on paper. It’s a lot of physical work that won’t be manageable for me.

Jack, an indoor hotel resident. He’s so cute and fun and I love him!

Then, add my seven and that’s 15 dogs if you’re counting. My seven are basically the only open reign mixing and mingling dogs, so they aren’t affected. I simply put them in my room in crates while the other dogs are getting their free time.

It’s no award winner, but it’s a very rare photo that actually contains all 7 of my dogs in one frame. Dinnertime!

So, it sounds hectic. And it is, but really the whole thing is so incredibly organized that it never feels like there are that many dogs.

My dogs are all physically “off”. Their moods seem great, but Walter is slipping on his back legs again and dragging his back end sometimes. Cass is nursing an eye injury likely inflicted by playing with Donovan. Bella is now barking in the middle of the night to wake me up for no reason. Donovan has COMPLETELY regressed to puppyhood and quite honestly he’s awful. Lol I adore this dog but he’s young and strong and needs parents who are the same. He is a different dog here. It’s only been a week so I’m holding out hope that he will settle down.

Omg whose dog is this

My dogs are quite comfortable here and seem to be taking it in stride. They’ve been so good through the flight, the long drive, a new house to learn. I’m a lucky dog momma.

My Cass, Baby Faye, and Rosie. Not a care in the world!