Freedom.
 
I wasn’t expecting to save a dog that Monday morning when I woke up, but by mid morning I was on a mission to do just that. I had heard my neighbors dogs get into little scuffles here and there but they were quick and resolved without intervention, but it bothered me every time it happened. I kept rehearsing conversations in my head about how to approach them, but that Monday morning there was no more rehearsing, it was a frantic call to the police to help me stop the fight that wouldn’t end, and sounded like one wasn’t going to make it through the day. I was an absolute wreck waiting for the police/animal control to show up - only to have the officer arrive and tell me there was nothing he could do except leave a note. I was so angry, and blown away. I mean… I understand that you can’t just go take someone’s dog from their yard, but I didn’t know that you couldn’t if it was an emergency situation and one was in danger. I watched the office drive off and my heart sunk to a place that I remember all too well - no help to be found. 


I sat on the couch in my house, with the tv up loud so that if the fight happened again, I couldn’t hear it… but yet I strained all day to hear if it was still happening. I bawled my eyes out for hours until I fell asleep on the couch, waiting for the neighbors to come home so I could approach them about the situation and see if I could help. 


Listening to that baby cry in the yard, getting his ass kicked over and over again was a trigger for me. My heart is big for rescue dogs anyway, so I would have been affected by it no matter what, but as I was crying on the couch I thought… I know exactly what he’s feeling right now. Trapped and scared. There’s no escape. Nowhere to run. Being totally trapped and having no way to fight back that wont result in more punishment. 


My ex wife never hit me. But she bullied me intensely. Feeling trapped was normal for me. She would back me up against a wall and scream at me for hours, just inches from my face, until I would lose my shit and do anything to escape. I kicked an ottoman once, that startled her and she backed up, and I escaped - but then I was labeled as “abusive” because I was “violent” in my escape. And I believed her, that I was the one who was abusive. I was always trapped. Ugh. She would often start these horrible fights in the car when she was driving, and would NOT pull over because she knew I’d jump out if she did. Trapped. I would do anything to get her to see how serious I was about stopping the car and letting me out, even punching the dashboard and screaming to STOP. Trapped. Trapped in a room where she would stand in the doorway - again - no escape. Stand in front of my car so I couldn’t leave. Trapped. Just like this dog next door… totally trapped. I knew exactly how he felt, helpless and hopeless. I think there was more in my heart that day than just knowing he was trapped. And I wanted to fight for him, for his escape. 


I’m so thankful that the neighbors were approachable and actually wanted me to take him. I had no clue what condition he was going to be in - but I assumed I was going to get a massively mauled dog. Which… he wasn’t. So maybe that Pit (Dozer) was more of a verbal bully than he was actually trying to kill him…. but oh this dog was far from okay. Missing a front paw, and the other front paw was mangled severely and clearly infected. He had tons of minor cuts and fight marks, and he was seriously underweight. The story they gave me was half way believable… they had taken him, his Dad and his Mom from a family member who was so far into her drug addiction that she stopped taking care of her dogs and her kids. The Dad they got adopted out, the Mom was sick so they took her to the pound to be put down (which makes me angry that they wouldn’t actually have her put down in a loving environment, but I guess there’s some good in that they didn’t let her suffer and die in the yard). Then there was this guy. They said no one wanted him because of his missing paw and mangled foot, but they didn’t wan to take him to the pound because they didn’t want him to be put down. Weird, so just let him get beat up every day??!??! Yeahhhhhh… okay. But what about the injuries that he showed up with? They hadn’t taken him to a vet, or even dressed his wounds on their own. He was filthy dirty and clearly dehydrated.  They knew Dozer was picking on him and they admitted they had broken up the fights a few times. That’s where they lost me… THEY KNEW he was getting his ass kicked and left him unattended in the yard while they went to work all day, on a 94 degree day??!?!! Oh - and they also had an unaltered female chihuahua in the yard with them - both male dogs intact. Pure stupidity and negligence. They said he wouldn’t eat - no fucking wonder he wouldn’t eat - getting his ass kicked every day, all day.  Yeah… they may have wanted to help in the beginning when taking the dogs, but they did nothing for this guy but put him in a dangerous environment where he was trapped.


I fell in love with rescues in the midst of my marriage. I was always a dog lover, but I was also pretty innocent, having the belief that most people are good, and don’t abuse or neglect animals. In the south, it’s a big big problem though - I had never been exposed to such animal abuse and neglect. So there I was… in an abusive marriage, being so drawn to rescues. It took me a while to connect those two things, but when I finally did - I cried for days. Rachel hated that I loved dogs the way I did and do. She was jealous of any attention that I gave my dogs, or when I would donate to dog rescues, or show her a story of dog that was massively abused. When I rescued Buddy off the streets in Nashville, that was the week from hell with her. She wanted him gone. She did not give two shits about him, but she was pissed that he had all of my attention, and she actually said that to me. That was the “deadline” that I had one week to find him a place to go - because Rachel would not allow a single minute more. I was desperate to find him a place, and thanks to FB… I was able to find that place for him.  Funny though, after Buddy was gone, she was all weirdly acting like she had been so supportive. Talk about crazy making bullshit. 


I was pretty active in the Nashville community lost and found pet’s groups on Facebook and I’d often go out looking for whomever’s dog was loose - or I’d find a dog and use the groups to locate their homes. Rachel hated that. So, I often would wait until she was out of town when I would help. I volunteered to transport dogs and anywhere I saw that I could help, I would. I knew in my heart that I was being guided by some force to help… maybe it was me trying to help me… since I couldn’t rescue myself, I rescued dogs. I don’t really know. But I knew I wanted to start a dog rescue one day - but that I would never be able to because of who I was married to. 


Taking Nash into my home last week was scary. I thought… “I can’t do this”… “I don’t know what to do”… “Charlie is going to attack him”…. “I can’t afford him, or his injuries”…. “My landlords aren’t gonna be okay with this”, “I have a three dog limit on my lease.” And then… I looked at those beat up puppy eyes and I knew exactly how he was feeling. All of the “I can’t’s” stopped, and the “Yes, I can.”,  And “yes I will’s” kicked in.


Truth is… I feel that same way a lot of the time about myself - “I can’t do this” - and then the “yes I can’s” kick in and I start moving forward. One step forward, two steps back sometimes, but I’m still plugging away.


I’m in recovery, I read my recovery books. I do all of my affirmations and mirror work. I’m back to going to Coda after realizing that I cannot do it without a support group. I am determined to get healthy, to make changes in my life and to learn how to make a living with Young Living so that I can play music for fun and rescue dogs. Nash is in recovery just like I am. He’s learning to trust again, and healing from past wounds, and getting healthy again. He has reminded me of what I want… to help those who cannot help themselves. 


Since moving to Arizona, I’ve struggled with balancing my time, to finding my focus and working on the things that will push me forward in my life and towards the dreams/goals I have. I pray a lot. I read a lot. I’m tired a lot. I keep wanting to go back to what I know… touring. Just go play a shit ton of shows, make a living… keep “livin’ the dream”. But the dream is changing and what is comfortable for me (touring, living on the road) isn’t realistic anymore. I don’t want to be a bar singer. I never wanted to be a bar singer, I just knew that’s how you get started, but that’s all I ever did, sing in bars. Twenty years later I’m still a bar singer, and five years of being married to someone who didn’t want me to tour, or have “fans” or “friends” , or  be financially independent, I don't even have the connections to start touring again except in Wisconsin.  I’m pushing 40, and starting over playing for tips and a fountain drink just wont cut it. I just now started my first retirement account - and only because it was part of the divorce requirement. My financial advisor said that in order for me to retire at 65, I need to put away $2,000 a month starting now. Saaaaaay what??! Umm…. yeah. I don't even make $2000 a month total!!! The way I’ve been doing it for the last 20 years just isn’t cutting it, but touring is all I know. Rachel was never supportive of me being on the road, which also makes me want to go back out there, lol. To give her the proverbial middle finger, but that would be my pride… and the reality is, my goals are very different now. I want a regular life, a house that’s mine, a career in music that is fun and reaches people outside the bar. I want to give back. I want to leave something good behind. I want to help people through music, health, and encouragement. I want to save dogs. I want to save Nash. I want to save me. 


I’m tempted to keep Nash, and sweet talk my landlords into allowing me to keep him. He is a good dog. Good calm energy, and has balanced out my crazy dog energy with my three terriers. But…He’s expensive. lol. He wont fit in the Corolla with my other three. Four dogs?! Seriously!? And Charlie is a really hard dog, and would easily bully Nash if I gave her the chance. She’s been good so far, only growling when he gets too close, but I’m also on high alert - which oddly - is exactly what Charlie needs, even if Nash isn’t here. So much to think about. And I do have to learn to let them go if I’m going to do rescue. I can’t keep them all. But.. this one? Maybe just this one… ugh. It’s just so fucking hard. The lady that wants him really wants him. She’s sweet, she has another rescue about the same age… she used to train horses…. she would be home with him all the time. I need to let him go… right?! I need to do what’s best for him, that’s what rescue is all about. Sigh… but what is best for him? Me? Her? Here? There? Ugh. 


It’s been an insane week and a half - but I feel so good about him being safe. Yes, I’m way behind on making merch for the upcoming tour in April. I have so much to do, but I feel like God is telling me to chill out - that He will provide - and that right now, I’m right where I need to be, doing right what I’m supposed to be doing. The focus that has come, the reminders of what I really want, versus what I say I want….. the panic and desire to run back to what I know when I know that it doesn’t fit anymore… it’s all happening so fast, and so slow, and so confusing… and so clear. 


I am so happy I called the police. I’m so happy that I was able to take that freedom walk (or hobble) with him… and to walk beside him as we both learn what it really means to be free. 

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