Surviving December

I’m finally ready to write about the first week of December. It felt like the week from hell, but somehow I just kept going. I’d been having problems with my well pump for a while, even though I had the whole thing replaced over the summer, which involved trimming trees and other preparations. Even after being replaced though, it just kept getting louder and louder and I knew something wasn’t right. The well repair guys had been out at least two or three times in the previous few months to check on it and hadn’t found anything wrong. The last time they came out, they couldn’t find anything to fix and then sent me a bill for the call. It was one of those frustrating situations, like when your car is making a funny noise, but you can’t reproduce it for the mechanic. I talked them into coming out again on Wednesday morning, December, 3rd. They were scheduled to come first thing in the morning, but they were late, making me late for work. They told me that the whole pump would have to be pulled out of the ground again, requiring more time than they (or I) had that morning. So we would have to schedule another time for the work ASAP. They needed to get it done before we had significant snowfall, or they wouldn’t be able to access the site.


When I arrived at work late, some people were leaving, an unusual occurrence. It wasn’t even mid-morning yet, so this wasn’t a good sign. As I walked to my work area, people were talking in the hallways, agitated, disrupted. Turns out I was late for getting laid off. I was told that my job would end at the end of December, was given a packet of paperwork, and was told to go home and come back to work the next morning. On my way home, I stopped at a restaurant where some of the other about-to-be unemployed folks had gathered. They seemed stunned and I don’t blame them. But this is the third time I’ve been laid off since 2001. I’m tired of it, but I know what to do. One guy thought he might go see a movie that afternoon. One woman didn’t know what she was going to do. I headed home to get the well guys back out there and start looking for a job. By the end of the day, they had pulled the well pump up out of the ground, replaced a check valve that wasn’t working right, and told me that it was all under warranty (whew!). I’d worn out the dogs, with some rare and precious outside time in the winter daylight, and had found six jobs to apply for. With all the doom and gloom and layoffs in the news, I was glad to find relevant jobs posted. I was determined to apply for jobs and network with as many people as possible before they all disappeared for the Christmas and New Year’s break.


On Thursday, I went to work as usual. That evening at obedience class, Bandit was squinting and closing his eye. I noticed that he seemed to be in a lot of pain and his eye was bothering him a lot. The pupil was constricted abnormally and he couldn’t keep his eye open for long. Heidi, a vet tech in our class, told me that she used to work for a veterinary opthalmologist. She looked at Bandit’s eye and told me how to check for excessive pressure. She recommended that I put eye ointment in his eye once we got home (we had some left from the last casualty in October). I was anxious to get home to treat Bandit. When we went out to the parking lot after class at almost 10 pm, my truck wouldn’t start. It was completely dead. With almost 175,000 miles on it, I was concerned about what might be wrong. The battery wasn’t that old, and the truck was starting to have problems from time to time. It was really cold out for the first time this winter, so I didn’t know what might be going wrong with the truck now. My friend Ann waited with me. I called Lisa the dogsitter and her husband Ernie, who live nearby. They came over and jump started the truck. I drove straight home and got Bandit his eye medicine.


On Friday morning, Bandit’s eye looked better. The injured pupil was dilated the same as the other one. My neighbor Becky came over to help start the truck. I drove straight to the Car Guy and dropped the truck off on my way to work. My co-worker Lynn came to pick me up. Turns out the truck just needed a new battery, even though the old one wasn’t that old. By the end of the day, I was headed home and most of the week’s problems had been resolved, but I still had to find a job.


It hasn’t been a great year for Mavericks. On Friday evening I found out that the breeder who had claimed Maverick (the blue cattle dog who waited in the impound here in Minnesota for two extra weeks for her to come get him) hadn’t shown up. Even though she was visiting Duluth, about two hours away, and had promised to come pick him up that day, she hadn’t bothered to come. In the process of getting the paperwork for the health certificate needed to take him to Canada, he had tested positive for heartworm. She not only didn’t come get him, she backed out on her commitment to stand by him as well. Knowing that he couldn’t get the paperwork to go into Canada, and knowing that he would now need expensive treatment, she wasn’t even willing to help find a place for him to go, or help get funds to treat him, or call the impound with a credit card to pay for the vet bill that had been incurred in the process of trying to get him the health certificate, so we could get him out. Believe me, I went back and forth with her, knowing that she has friends who are very wealthy, who could easily afford to help. I had originally been so impressed with this breeder, who has bred the top Westminster cattle dogs for the past few years, and who had declared that she would stand by Maverick no matter what. I finally realized that trying to hold her accountable for this dog, who she had claimed as one of her own, had become a waste of my time. I needed to focus on what was best for the dog. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a very deep chasm between the life of a Westminster champion and another dog from the same kennel that somehow didn’t quite “measure up”.


Now I had to find myself a new job and find a safe place for Maverick, both challenging tasks during the month before Christmas. With the possibility of unemployment looming, I wasn’t in a position to pay Maverick’s expenses myself. The 8 State Kate Fund had made commitments to other dogs and other rescues for the month of December, so I couldn’t commit a lot from the fund for him either. But I wasn’t about to let him down. This poor guy had been let down too many times before and deserved to be loved and well cared for.


If you expected a Christmas card from me this year and haven’t received one yet, well, it’s been a busy month!

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