Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.
~ Kevin Heath
~ Kevin Heath
i love nyc. even with many of the challenges it provides on a daily basis, i just love ny. ♥ there are however, some things i am still working on coming to peace with; things like the ny dmv, the subway during rush hour and the
inept humane society. other than these few things, i love almost everything about this city.
the other day i made an appointment at a local country vet up here in the woods near susan’s country retreat, where i have spent a good part of the summer so far. for ivan’s monthly rx refill, i generally go to the humane society on e. 59th street. reading this previously blogged post on the humane society will give you a hint as to my feelings about the service they provide. i had an additional visit with them since that post, but i was so upset by it, i chose to work on my anger towards the people who work there (who i am sure are doing the best they can under the circumstances they find themselves in daily, but still. . . ), rather than blog about it. that visit was one month ago and my blood pressure has now returned to it’s normal level and i think i’m ready to compare my last visit at the vet in nyc to my recent visit to woodhill veterinary clinic in upstate ny.
my last appointment at the humane society in the city was scheduled for 2:30 in the afternoon. i arrived on time, signed in and sat down in the 12′x15′ waiting area alongside about 15 other people and their animals. dogs were barking wildly, cats meowing, and 1 guy was standing over by the reception area (approximately 4 feet from the sitting space) with a ferocious pit bull. this dog obviously trained for fighting, was inside a crate, fully muzzled and bucking like a wild boar to escape the crate. the crate was moving around as the owner attempted to hold it still. animals in the waiting area were reacting in fear (as were most of the humans).
ivan is almost 14 ( 98 in dog years ), cannot stand for long periods of time and gets nervous in crowds. after approximately 5 minutes he began to shake and that soon morphed into an all out anxiety attack. at 3:00 i went back to the reception area where i waited 15 minutes for someone to acknowledge me.
me: “hi, i had an appointment for 2:30 and it’s now 3:15. my dog is having a really hard time and i was wondering how much longer you think we’ll have to wait.”
receptionist: “i don’t know. we’re very busy.”
about 5 minutes later, they called in a patient who had arrived well after ivan and i. then another. at 3:45, i noticed a sign on the wall stating the office closes at 4:00. the agitated woman sitting next to me told me her appointment was for 2:45. i sympathized and let her know mine was at 2:30. i went back to reception to make sure ivan’s file hadn’t fallen through the cracks. as i waited for a human being to come to the reception window, the bucking pitbull managed to separate the top half from the bottom half of his crate and bust out right next to me. he was held back from the crowd by his owner & at that point, the staff thought it would be a good idea to get him out of the public area, and put him in the next available room. following that incident, they called in the woman with the appointment scheduled for 2:45!
i was furious and ivan could barely stand. he had been shaking steadily for more than 1.5 hours when a staff member finally came to the window it was 4:10. before i had the opportunity to inform him of my grievances, he yelled at me.
“i know you’re here! and no, we didn’t lose your chart! there are a lot of sick dogs here!”
this, he says, as i stood with my 98 year old dog who was practically having seizures at that point?
i promptly left. ivan & i stood outside the door on east 59th street wondering how we were going to make it 7 blocks to get home in the condition we were in.
this months vet visit was quite a different experience. we arrived in time for our 1:00 appointment to find one sweet woman with her bouncy 10 month old labrador puppy in the waiting room. a minute or two after our arrival, a woman from the local wildlife conservation society rushed in with a small cat crate under her arm. it contained a baby deer. the animal techs rushed her into a back room right away.
fawn emergency & all, we were seen immediately. dr. susan tanner examined ivan and wrote his rx. as i stood at the reception desk while my bill was being printed, a call came in. the woman kindly apologized for having to take the call. it was for a goat spay.
me: “do you get a lot of people calling for appointments to spay their goat?”
receptionist: “oh yes, we do a lot of that.”
on that note, i smiled and left the office 25 minutes after i had arrived.
thank you dr. tanner & co.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
~ Mother Teresa
ivan and i have been hiding out at my friend susan’s secret retreat up in the middle of nothing but trees and animals. we’ve been here for 5 days and so far we’ve made a lot of new friends. here are just a few:
ivan has taken the opportunity to teach his new friend his favorite sport, grass rolling. here he is doing a demonstration:
a good time was had by all.
“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
e. e. cummings
the wildlife in the apartment isn’t quite the same as in the woods upstate, but it also doesn’t move around when you’re trying photograph it.
“True humility is contentment.”
~ Henri Frederic Amiel
except for the fact that my last apartment was less than 400 square feet, i really liked it. it was on the first floor, it was quiet and best of all it had a back yard. the building had 20 units and 24 people lived in the 73rd street apartment house.
as sweet as it was, what you will see below was pretty much the entire floor space in the living room
this was my office in it’s entirety (in living room on opposite the wall with door in picture above)
and the bedroom was so small, this was all i could get in a photograph:
the bed was solidly tucked in to 3 of the bedroom walls with just enough standing room to – well, stand. ivan would take a running leap in from the kitchen to get into the bed at night.
the building was over 100 years old and people were much smaller back then. if you stood in the middle of the hallway and raised your elbows to the sides, each elbow would easily reach the walls.
living on the first floor gives you a kind of freedom to come and go a lot easier and quicker than having to do the stairs; especially when there are 5 flights of them (see 5th floor living).
now i live in a 600 square foot studio in a building with 137 apartments, approximately 250 people and 2 elevators and i’ve come to find out that elevators are over rated. last night for example, ivan had to go out and he needed to go out quickly. he had been suffering from an upset stomach for the last couple of days and although i had been taking him out every 2 hours, apparently it wasn’t enough. as we waited for the elevator ivan held his tail tight between his legs and looked at me with wide eyes telling me he was trying as hard as he could to wait for the elevator. he seemed to be panic stricken as i assured him the elevator was on it’s way and would be here any second. finally that second arrived. the elevator doors opened, we jumped in, i pressed the lobby button and the doors closed.
the whole process took at least 5 minutes and ivan just didn’t have that kind of time. i will spare you the details.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ Dalai Lama
1. wake up way too early (thank you, ivan).
2. walk dog, meditate, shower, check e-mails, straighten apartment, walk dog again.
3. hear very loud explosions directly below my windows on 1st avenue.
4. look out window and see only thick clouds of heavy smoke, preventing view of buildings directly across the street.
5. panic (naturally)
6. grab camera, get ivan, bang on all doors alerting everyone on the 12th floor and begin the descent down as fast as possible carrying 70 lb dog and my camera.
7. walk traumatized dog 1/2 way down smoke filled block before noticing angry officer screaming at me to get inside.
8. spend the next 2 hours sneaking outside for some pictures, getting yelled at and waiting in the lobby with many neighbors – waiting for the elevator to be turned back on.
9. persuade building porter to let me take elevator by convincing him of my impending death if
a.) i have to carry ivan up 12 flights or
b.) i have to stand in the lobby one more second.
10. watch cops, firemen and con ed peeps from 12th floor and wonder if i am actually safer up stairs or in lobby should the building blow.
11. it is now around 4:30 and beginning to get dark outside. all building electricity goes out. stairwells & hallways are so dark i could not see anything other than pure blackness.
12. light many candles & check on elderly neighbor with emphysema to see if he has candles and a back up generator for his oxygen tank. he’s ok for now.
14. wait some more
15. feed ivan his dinner & continue waiting.
16. notice ivan by door signaling strong desire to go out.
17. carry 70lb dog down 12 flights for second time today.
18. return from walk with ivan and leave him with friends on the second floor (thank you monica & eddie).
19. wander aimlessly through midtown for a couple of hours spying on people being all cozy in their well lit apartments.
20. return home approximately 30 minutes before electricity came back some time around 9:30 pm – waited, walked the dog, reset the clocks and watched a movie.
this is not what i had planned for the day.
“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”
~ Napoleon Hill
it was 13 years ago today that ivan said goodbye to his friends at the humane society on 59th st. and headed 4 blocks south for his new home at 340 e. 55th street. he was wearing a little yellow rain coat that the staff gave to him as a farewell gift. i remember our walk down second avenue like it was yesterday. while holding his leash in my right hand, bursting full of puppiness, ivan sped down the avenue while i tried to keep up, schlepping his crate stuffed full of his belongings in my left hand. the entire way home i kept thinking “wow, you’re mine. you’re going to live with me. i have a dog. you’re mine.”
funny how i thought he belonged to me. it didn’t take long for me to realize that he didn’t belong to me at all, but i belonged to him. he stole my heart and now owns it completely.
he was the cutest thing i ever saw.
and he still is! happy day boo!
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
- Helen Keller
i know they are doing the best they can.
they are probably over worked and under staffed.
their work environment is crowded, loud and stinks like dog pee - so instead of ranting, getting over emotional, screaming at the top of my lungs and possibly hurting someone, i will simply state the facts.
ivan has cushings disease. in april the vet said he could wait until symptoms worsened before having to go on meds.
symptoms: panting, excessive hunger, excessive thirst, excessive peeing, among other things.
by excessive, i mean he needed to pee a river every two hours – until it became every hour and 15 minutes – or less.
monday: ivan gets blood test at humane society. he is there from 8:30 am until 6:00 pm.
i am told results may be in on tuesday, if not, call on wednesday. i am rationing ivan’s water and he is panting a lot.
tuesday: ivan peed in the lobby on his way to get out the front door as fast as he could.
wednesday: after calling 3x and being put on hold for so long i had to hang up due to fear of going over my allotted at&t minutes for the month, i finally waited it out and around 5:00 pm i got through. i left a message for the doctor. he did not return my call. ivan peed in the elevator just 1.5 hours after he had last been out.
thursday: called 8 times during the day and got a busy signal each time. ivan peed in the kitchen 1 hour after we had been out. it is his very first “accident” since i got him in 1999. i am no longer giving him water, only ice cubes. he goes to his water bowl every 15 minutes or so to check the water status. ivan woke me at 4:00 am to take him out.
friday: i called at 9:30 am and the line was busy. i decided to walk to the humane society and wait for the doctor in person. after waiting over an hour, i had to rush back home to let ivan out. i did not see the doctor but felt confident that the receptionist would not forget to tell him i had been there looking for meds. ivan peed on the carpet in the hallway while waiting for the elevator.
saturday: i was put on hold 4x by the
inept humane society receptionist and hung up each time after five minutes. at 3:30 I called back and held for 19 minutes and 50 seconds before the receptionist answered.
receptionist: “thank you for holding, how may i help you?”
me: “this is my 18th time trying to get through to doctor rubenstein, who promised to have test results for me on wednesday, and i’ve just been on hold for 19 minutes and 50 seconds!”
receptionist: “that’s actually not bad, our average hold time is over 30 minutes! and dr. rubinstein doesn’t work weekends.”
it has been challenging to remain zen in the city . . .
Difficulties increase the nearer we approach the goal”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”
The Six-year-old continued,”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
6 years old