adopt a shelter pet, cats, cats and dogs, dog training, dogs, pet rescue, rescue, siberian huskies

All About Dogs

Adopting A Siberian Husky: The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful
My boyfriend and I recently adopted a 5 year old Siberian Husky. Her name is Sindel and she has quickly stolen our hearts. Getting this beautiful dog into our home was a very trying adventure. Many people want to adopt Huskies because, let’s face it, there are few breeds more beautiful than the Siberian Husky. Several movies, like Snow Dogs, has increased the demand for this breed. However, this is not a breed for everyone. If you do even the slightest bit of research, you will see that they require a lot of exercise, grooming and patience. They are not like typical working dogs who live to please their owners. They require an unique approach. They are known escape artists. They will climb, jump and dig their ways out of regular fenced in yards and do what they were bred to do. Run. And run. They also are said to have a very strong prey drive. They supposedly cannot live with cats. Many Huskies end up in shelters because they are purchased for their looks by people who do not research the breed or do not commit to the needs of the dog and they become too much to handle.

With all of this being said, I personally was not interested in adopting a Husky. First and foremost, I have cats. And I love them very dearly. Second, I am used to living with working dogs who are bred to obey their owners. I have raised a Border Collie, a Shepherd mix and a Doberman. All of which took to training easily and were happy to work for treats and praise. Last but not least, I did not want to deal with the shedding. Alas, my boyfriend had his mind set on a Husky and none of the “negative” traits of this dog deterred him, so I gave in.

Finding the Right Fit
I did not want to raise a puppy and I was concerned about bringing in an adult Husky around my cats. So we started researching rescues for dogs who were okay with cats. We found several, but they would only adopt dogs to houses with fenced in yards. We did not qualify because we live in an apartment. We found a couple of Huskies in shelters in the state. They would not adopt Huskies to homes with cats at all. One woman at one of the shelters told me that if I wanted to have a Husky that could live with cats, I should buy one from a breeder. I thought that was the most absurd thing an animal shelter employee could say. On principle, I would NEVER buy a dog from a breeder when I can save one’s life by adopting and for an animal shelter employee to suggest that made me really angry. But that is besides the point. After about two months of searching, we realized we were not going to be able to rescue due to the restrictions they put on being able to adopt this breed.

We moved the search to Rescue.Org where individuals can post their personal pets to be adopted. We ran into similar difficulties. Eventually, after scouring that website and Craigslist for weeks, we came across Sindel. Her owner was obviously not some kind of backyard breeder. She was spayed and vetted. Her owner just could not afford her after a divorce. We drove an hour and a half to get her and bring her home. She was said to not have been good around small animals but had not been tested with cats. Having had experience with raising dogs around cats, I decided I was up to the challenge.

The Fight Against Nature: Prey Drive vs. Cats
I read several articles online that suggested that the animals be able to sniff each other through the door for a few days and then be allowed to sniff each other under close supervision while both were in a calm state. Sindel is an uncharacteristically calm Siberian Husky. I tested her prey drive by seeing if she would chase toys or balls. She showed zero interest. I was hopeful. Upon first contact, Sindel sniffed my cat briefly and went straight for his neck! I couldn’t believe this calm dog with seemingly non-existent prey drive reacted in that way. I was scared the stories about Huskies were true! I automatically started wondering if we could keep her, what I could do about the cats, whether they would need to be separated for the rest of eternity. I was disappointed, but still determined. I came across an amazing blog (http://blog.adoptandshop.org/breaking-bad-habits-prey-drive/) and found hope again. Although Sindel did not take well to the prong collar, (it just made her more curious!) we did employ some other techniques mentioned.

I wanted her to be able to smell Casper in a way that was safe for both of them. We put Casper in a dog crate and closely supervised for a few days. In the first couple of days, Sindel was extremely interested and paced around the crate. She was punished for barking and rewarded for ignoring. She was allowed to sniff as much as she wanted as long she did not growl or bark. She did try to bite him a couple of times through the crate and she was reprimanded for that. After the first couple of days, she was still interested but would come when called with treats. This made me realize that she was not completely fixated and that was great news. We praised her very enthusiastically when she would look away from the crate and gave her treats when she left the crate altogether. We did this for about a week. She had gotten to the point where she did not care that Casper was in the same room as her, when one day my boyfriend accidentally left the bedroom door open for a couple of seconds. I came out of the bathroom and saw Sindel in the room with the cats. I panicked for a split second and then all of my years of watching Dog Whisperer flooded my thoughts and I thought “caaaaaalmmmm energyyy.”  I said to my boyfriend, “Turn around slowly. Sindel is in here….. WATCH HER but be calm” So we watched her slowly enter and sniff around and praised her for staying calm and got her out of there after a few minutes without bloodshed. Following that situation, we let Casper roam for 30 minutes at a time with Sindel in the same room, still watching closely and praising for staying calm for a few more days. Casper is extremely confident around dogs since he was raised with my other 3 and he does not scare easilly. Our other cat, Eva, is jumpy and nervous around dogs and it is apparent she makes Sindel nervous and you can observe her physically going into hunting mode. So Eva is allowed out for about 10 minutes at a time, but we are very close when she is. Sindel has come a long way in less than a month from trying to eat the cats to being able to relax while they are in the same room. Classic conditioning wins again!

Anyway, there is my short novel about our first experience with a Siberian Husky. As with any other dog, it takes patience and training. As stated in many articles about this breed, she is not taking well to obedience training, though she will finally sit when asked…. if she feels like it. But hey, progress is progress.  We will keep at it. 🙂  I am disappointed in the adoption processes for many of the shelters and rescues I spoke with. While I do understand being responsible with who gets the dogs, I feel as though it would help them to save more lives if they were more lenient and spoke with individuals to determine whether they were a good fit or not. Especially the rescues. So in the end, I’d like to think we still helped out by adopting an older dog and working with her on training and giving her a loving home.

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depression, meditation, prayer, religion, spirituality

Depression and Spirituality

Depression is a tricky thing. Most days I can convince myself that I am fine and I am stronger than what my mind is trying to make me feel. The problem is when I have to do it for too many days in a row without a refill on strength and happiness in the middle. It’s hard to explain. It can be something as simple as successfully accomplishing a new task or a couple of genuine words of encouragement. It can be the smallest thing but it feels like a breath of fresh air that I can use for a few more days before I feel like I am drowning again. I just need little breaths to keep me from drowning.

I had the realization that maybe sometimes depression is a result of knowing your potential and not knowing how to reach it. Feeling stuck. So stuck that you feel like you can’t get out of bed. I told my mom today that I honestly did not care whether I lived or died. I didn’t realize I had reached this point until I said it out loud. My defense mechanisms work a little too well, sometimes. I haven’t felt this miserable and hopeless since high school. I feel like a wild animal tied up and trapped in a cage. Not like I would know where to go even if I could get myself free. I just want to drive until I end up somewhere and hope that I magically make it somehow. Whatever “making it” means. I’ll know when I get there!

I’ve always believed that people search for a higher being when they feel they have no control over their life and what is happening to them. A lot of non-believers use that as an argument against believing and believers. But honestly, I don’t see the harm. If that is what it takes, by all means, please reach out. Pray. Meditate. Do whatever you need to do to get that little breath of fresh air to keep you going for a little while longer. Sometimes, it feels like you are so alone that the only thing you can do is close your eyes, talk and hope someone is listening. Isn’t that essentially what spirituality is? Reaching out for something bigger than yourself? Looking for hope? And so, that is what I did today. I just broke down and cried. And I prayed. I begged and pleaded. I hope someone out there heard me. How grand it would be to feel like I was not all alone in my efforts.

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20 somethings, college grad, job hunting, MID 20S, sociology, unemployment

A Soft Place to Land.

The job search is proving to be more fruitless than I wanted to imagine it could be. I apply to a minimum of two jobs per day ranging from administrative assistant jobs to retail positions. I was told by a temp agency  that I was not qualified to file papers, essentially. I am so glad to know that the high school graduates filing my paperwork are more qualified to do so than someone who graduated college with honors and has been working for over six years. What a joke.

My patience is wearing a little thin already. I do not know how people do this for months on end with children to support and nobody to support them. Thankfully, despite feeling like a parasitic organism, I have a mother and boyfriend who can help to support me just a little while longer.

Despite everything life has ever thrown at me, I have been able to bounce back and get back up on my own two feet. For that, I am eternally grateful to my amazing support system, with my mother heading the troops. In child development, we talk about risk factors and protective factors. Protective factors, as the name would suggest, are things that the child has that work as buffers against the risk factors the child has going against them. A support system is amongst the most important protective factors. I honestly do not know what kind of person I would be or where I would be if I did not constantly have the encouraging words that I have had and still do have.

It is extremely difficult to keep a positive outlook with rent being due in 4 days and knowing that I will need to ask for financial assistance again, but I am so thankful that I have these amazingly supportive and patient people in my life as a soft place to land.

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20 somethings, cog in the machine, college grad, job hunting, karl marx, marxism, MID 20S, norms, post grad, sociological theory, sociology

A Cog in the Machine

When I started this blog, I intended to write a post at least once a week but life has been crazy. My boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment (which I ADORE) and I have been unpacking twelve hours a day for a week and a half. Somewhere along the way, I lost my laptop charger due to natural causes, may she rest in peace… so, that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

So here we are. I am in our new apartment and my bank account has less than $100 in it after paying for the first month’s rent. My gas tank is nearly empty. Needless to say, I am a little bit stressed and it’s taking a toll on my body. I lay in bed for hours trying every sleep aide technique I can think of, but to no avail. My mind is going through half a million thoughts per minute and it all boils down to: How am I going to pay rent next month?

I really don’t know who came up with this evil lie that your 20s are supposed to be a grand party. All it does is set people up for grand disappointments. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I remember one of my favorite professors talking about Karl Marx and I see now, firsthand, what he was talking about. The system NEEDS people to be desperate and hopeless. It’s not set up for us mere college graduates with Bachelor’s degrees to have fulfilling careers. We cannot have any power or the system wouldn’t work. We are nothing but a cog in “the machine”, as Dr. Caston at East Carolina University so lovingly drilled into our heads in Sociological Theory. We do as society tells us to do and go to college. Fine. Done. What next? Most of us graduate with crippling debt and dive into an ocean of job seekers who are just as “organized, detail-oriented and hardworking” as the rest of us. Again: Supply and demand comes into play. There are thousands of job seekers to accommodate the dozens of employers seeking applicants. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who is in power. Sure, you can “negotiate your salary” using all the tips you see on articles on LinkedIn or Monster, but guess what? There is someone more desperate than you who is qualified enough who will work for less. For example, someone who doesn’t know where next month’s rent is going to come from.

Sometimes, knowledge is power. Sometimes, it’s a handicap. I am expected to put a blindfold over my eyes and accept the first job that is oh-so-graciously offered to me by a blessing from above, no doubt. And I will do just that. It is, after all, the American dream. Right? My cynicism may be skewing that a little bit. The challenge is to find the ever so delicate balance between standing out and “letting your personality shine” on a resume versus looking like a crazy person who has no idea of what is appropriate in a professional setting. I tend to err on the side of caution, which may be hurting me more than I realize, but we shall see. And so the adventure begins. I’m about to dive in. I hope I come back out!

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air force, college grad, military, post grad, Uncategorized, usaf

The Airman’s Creed

I will never falter/ And I will not fail”

That is the last two lines of “The Airman’s Creed” which the members of the United States Air Force are taught to learn, memorize and live by. For about eight months of my life, it became my motto. My driving force. The words played on repeat in my head day and night. Especially after I had already run 2 miles, done 6 or 7 miles on the elliptical and still had an hour of strength training to go. Just like I had done the day before and I would be doing the day after. I had one mission and one mission only. To get into the Air Force.

During high school, I wanted nothing more than to join the military. My reasons were pretty similar to most teenagers wanting to join the armed forces. I was tired of my life and I wanted to get away. It was “the easy way out.” I don’t know how easy it would have been at that point, but unfortunately (or maybe I should say ‘thankfully’) I was over the weight limit for my height and just could not get it off. Eventually, my recruiter gave up on me. My mom used this opportunity to make me a deal. I should give a quick tidbit on the nature of my relationship with my mom. As a first-generation immigrant from a Middle Eastern country, I needed her to give me her blessing. Foreign mamas don’t play that “I’m 18. I do what I want” crap. Anyway, the deal was: If I went to college… AND graduated (that’s the key lol) and I still wanted to join, she would take me to the recruiting station herself and give me her blessing.

I guess she hoped I would “grow out of that phase.” Or maybe I would find some greater purpose or some feeling of belonging in the civilian world. And I did… until I panicked and lost it upon graduating as mentioned before. So I did some soul-searching for a year and a half while I worked in zombie-mode at my mindless retail job. I decided I still wanted to join the military. I’m still not sure if it was some sort of “calling” as the lucky ones amongst us call it or if I looking for an escape route again. But it matters not. I had decided. I loved the idea of someone stepping in and telling me what I needed to do with my life. I liked the idea of the structure and I always wanted to travel. It made sense to me. Problem was, no recruiter would talk to me until I lost 50 pounds. I did what any logical adult would do… and quit my job. Yes. Seriously. I dedicated all my free time to working out and reading Air Force literature. Within 7 months, I had lost all the weight only to find out that I could not join as an Officer and would have to go in as Enlisted. I won’t go into the details here on that. All I will say is: Liberal Arts degree and Law of Supply and Demand.

So once again, I found myself completely lost and without a purpose… not to mention, jobless. Thankfully, (or should I say ‘unfortunately’) my old job took me back. I went back into my mind-numbing duties with my tail in between my legs. I had ingrained my motto into my being so easily. It fit well into my personality and how I go about living my life and achieving my goals. I will not fail. I will not fail. I will not fail. Well, I had failed. It was a huge setback for me. Failure is not something I am used to and I did not know how to deal with it. It is hard for me to accept that no matter how hard I work, some things are not in my control. It shook my confidence to my core and I am still trying to rebuild from the ruins of my self-esteem. I know I am capable of so much more than I am doing, but I have days where I question my ability to perform activities and tasks I have done so well for so long.

But, I do know that I am capable of more. That’s what’s important. So the show will go on. I may just need to tweak the motto a little. Though I may falter, I will not fail.

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southerner, the south, traditions, waffle house

An Unexpected Ode to Waffle House

If you live in the South, you most likely have an opinion about Waffle House. You either love it or you hate it. Southerners, in general, tend to have extreme feelings one way or the other about most things. This can most clearly be observed on two distinct occasions; during election time and during the ACC Basketball Tournament. I could dedicate an entire book to the peculiar phenomenon that is both of these, but let us get back to the point at hand.

Waffle House. Every Waffle House I have ever visited has been almost exactly the same. You are greeted by either the friendliest waitress you have ever met or the most terrifying. The familiar smells of hashbrowns and grease overwhelm your entire being. The walls that may or may not have been off-white at some point in their lives are now a buttery yellow. And the people. The lovely patrons of Waffle House. During the day, you can see an array of different folks from truckers on a break fueling up with coffee to families in their “Sunday best” stopping by after church. At night, it is usually swarming with drunk college kids (or 30-40something year old ‘kids’) trying to soak up the alcohol in their system and exhaust the last little bit of adrenaline in their systems before they go home for the evening.

I think most people think of Waffle House as being a gross (Ok, I get it… grease is not an actual food group) and low-class establishment where having teeth is considered a luxury. If I could describe it with a song, I would choose “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks to represent this fine establishment. I spent most of my summers as a teenager in one particular Waffle House with some of the best people I have ever known. After swimming in the lake or watching the stars laying on the sand until around midnight, we all headed to Waffle House and talked until the sun came up. At least once a week. It was one of the few constants I had in my life at that time. As I got older, I became a part of the drunken crowd in the evening. Believe it or not, there was one waitress named Evelyn there who watched me and my group of friends “grow up” in a sense from ages 16 to 22. She was like that distant aunt who was mean as hell to everyone except you because you were her favorite niece. She asked about all of us as we moved away for college or joined the military. One by one, our group dwindled but there are still four of us who go back to that Waffle House because it’s tradition. I guess there are weirder traditions to have.

Every Waffle House feels like coming home, though. I get why people hate it. I really really do. But all those “quirks” are endearing to me. The weirder the crowd, the better. I love that I know I’m going to pretend like I’m going to try something new and end up with a Texas Chicken Melt, hashbrowns smothered and diced with Sara Lee’s chocolate pie for desert. Just like I have done for the past 9 years. I may get adventurous and order a Coke instead of water or sweet tea. I’m wild like that. 😉 There’s a certain comfort in that for me. This post was going to be about random things we have that always feel familiar and safe amidst all the chaos we may have going on but I guess the moral ended up more along the lines of “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I think. I may revisit what brings people peace during chaos in my next post, but I guess the words had another thing in mind for this post. Sometimes, you gotta go with the flow…

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college grad, post grad

Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

I am a part of the 25% of the US population that holds a four year degree. I also belong to the 6.2% of North Carolinians who are actively looking for employment, without luck. That sounds a little nicer, doesn’t it? As a Sociology grad, statistics are somewhat of a passion of mine. But I’d like to think I’m a little more than that.

I, amongst thousands, graduated in 2012 with a liberal arts degree. Liberal Arts. It even sounds worthless. I know I sound bitter. Truth is, I loved my major. I loved reading about sociological theories on why people interact with each other the way they do. I loved reading 50+ page research papers about family dynamics into the wee hours of the night. Well, at the time I didn’t. Who would have thought I would come to miss it? I even loved taking Stats. Really. It all made sense to me. It fascinated me. Still does. I remember a joke one of my professors told us on the first day of class my sophomore year. “What do you do with a Sociology degree?” The class looked at him half amused, half terrified. “Go to grad school.” And he laughed. That’s what made it seem like a joke at the time. In retrospect, I think it may have been a warning. And more of a “MUAHAHAH!” than a “Heheh.”

Anyway, I went to college thinking I would work in the non-profit sector counseling and doing advocacy work. I volunteered at several different non-profits for three years. It wasn’t until I was in my last semester while I was volunteering as a crisis counselor that I realized I did not want to do that 40 hours a week. Oops. I had spent the last four five years (ahem..) focusing all of my research on the population I wanted to work with and getting experience for… what? I was completely lost. Upon graduation, I got an interview at the agency I had been wanting to work for and I…. wait for it… panicked and cancelled the interview. I didn’t understand. I was SO good at crisis counseling. Maybe my heart wasn’t in it. Maybe it was too close to home. After that, I halfheartedly applied for other positions in non-profits but my efforts were similar to that of children tossing coins in a fountain. “Oh, I wish someone would give me a job so I could find a purpose.”

Long story short, I needed a job but couldn’t commit to a career. My commitment issues paired up with my self-doubt to make a super-villian in my mind that led to my job in retail. The one that was supposed to be until I cleared things up. I think about a year into it, I developed a twisted form of Stockholm Syndrome which made me stay another year. Which brings us to today. Going back to my professor’s warnings, I am currently looking into grad school. Unfortunately, my commitment issues are still rampant. (They should really make an ointment for that) And my student loans are a quiet figure in the dark…. always waiting, watching… hoping I will feed them with a Master’s? Possible. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a monster?

I know studying Sociology (and Social Work for a while there, but that’s another story for another time) made me a better person. More aware of what’s going on in the world around me. A better citizen, if you will. It’s made me a better friend. A better girlfriend. A better sister. Hopefully, one day, a better parent. But would I go back and do things differently knowing what I know now? Possibly.

When asked who they are, most people will respond with what they do for a living as if it defines their entire identity. And maybe it does. Maybe that’s why I’m having this early life crisis. Who am I? Who do I want to be? I don’t know. For now, I am playing the role of wonderer… wanderer.. Sometimes, those who wander really are lost! This blog will consist of my thoughts and adventures along the way. Maybe we’ll figure it out together. 🙂

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