Saturday, August 4, 2012

Animal Rescue - Unpacking the Baggage That We Keep

Hello dear friends. As I drift between this modern age and my own beloved Victorian Era, I have been gifted with the opportunity to make a great many friends along the way. Some of those friends are involved in animal rescue, in one form or another - whether they work in the overburdened shelters that do their heroic best to care for the unwanted and discarded animals of the various communities around the world, or they volunteer with one of the millions of animal rescue groups that struggle tirelessly to find homes for the same poor creatures. Knowing that I myself was a rescue at a very young age, I have often been privy to the frustrations these same friends have expressed when, time and time again, people adopt animals only to bring them back to the same shelter or rescue because the animal had 'problems'. It is a vicious cycle; one I feel needs to be addressed by a voice of experience, and who better to do so than one who has been among those many discarded souls.

Rescuing an animal is a very emotional experience, on both sides, and the more tragic the creature, the more emotion that is obliged to be involved. How can our feelings not be entangled in such a moment? There are bound to be feelings of injustice at the neglect we see. Often there is righteous anger in the face of the abuses we witness. There is most certainly an understandable drive to protect a creature that is fragile and vulnerable, and intermingled within it all are the feelings of compassion, pity, helplessness, and even guilt at being unable to prevent atrocities from occurring. These are just some of the many emotions that can strike the human heart at the precise moment when a person sees the liquid eyes of an animal in need. They are driving forces which can inspire great acts of kindness and heroics, and such emotions are necessary at times to help overcome the horrors associated with the environments that require an animal to be rescued in the first place. Without such driving forces, a rescuer might not be able to face the darker side of what happens when animals find themselves in the hands of evil, despicable men.

We all celebrate the happy moment when a rescued animal is restored back to health and finds what we hope will be his or her happy ending, but there is one very important fact we sometimes overlook in our enthusiasm. Animals that need rescuing are often broken creatures that very likely have never known real love, kindness, or safety. When a person so lovingly adopts them, they are not just taking on the responsibility of feeding, loving , and caring for their new pet in the physical realm; they are also taking on the lifelong commitment of taking care of their new pet's emotional needs, whatever they may be. It basically boils down to accepting whatever baggage comes with the adoption of that pet.

We all have baggage. As a matter of fact it is a common joke in this modern era of yours. In the case of an animal rescue, not only is the baggage very real; it is invisible, and in most cases the new owner must unpack it blindly and with great care. Unfortunately, your new, adorable, traumatized pet can't tell you how he feels or why he is doing the 'naughty' things he is doing. All your new pet can do is feel the raw fear and uncertainty. The more impatient and frustrated you are when your new pet piddles on the floor, chews on something they shouldn't, or exhibits anxiety or uncertainty, the worse those feelings are going to be for your new pet and the more broken they will become. The more broken your new pet becomes, the more the issues will manifest themselves.

The reality is, rescuing isn't about how good it makes you feel. Rescuing is about saving a life and about making a commitment to a broken, fragile heart. It is about making an unspoken promise that you won't injure that heart any further. When you take your little one home, it must be done knowing it will take patience, love, understanding, forgiveness, more patience, and even more love to get that little soul to a point where they can feel safe, loved, and begin to trust again. It might take weeks, months, or even years to help your little one work through whatever issues they might face. Some 'problems' may be resolved immediately and some may not, but you have to be willing to accept there will be bumps in the road before you even take the first step down the path of rescuing an animal. You owe it to yourself, but more importantly, you owe it to the animal you might consider taking home. To bring them into your home and your heart only to return them back to the shelter or rescue is almost as great an injustice to their hearts as the one that put them there in the first place. Rescuing an animal should never be taken lightly.

Remember something before you decide to walk away from an animal because they are too difficult to manage or have too many problems. You may think you are absolutely wonderful and without flaw, but guaranteed, you have baggage too. One thing you will never experience when you are loved by an animal is rejection because of your baggage or what's in it. In your pet's eyes, you will always be loved; you will always be perfect, even when you are not; and you will always be welcome wherever they are. As a matter of fact, it is what they live for. You are what they live for, baggage and all.

Don't forget to visit my Mister Marmee Facebook page.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Day Has Finally Arrived - Volume One of My Chronicles Has Been Published

Hello dear friends. As I was preparing for an entirely different blog post today, the thought suddenly occurred to me that I have made no official announcement involving the publication of the first volume of my chronicles. For shame, I know, so here it is. On June 3, 2012, the eBook version of 'The Chronicles of Mister Marmee ~ The Case of Jack the Nipper' was officially accepted and published on ( and on June 5, 2012, it was accepted and published on ( I am fast on my way through the second volume of my chronicles. An excerpt for volume two can be found at the end of volume one, so make sure to read all the way to the end.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Judging a Book By Its Cover - The Plight of the Pit Dog

Hello dear friends. In the autumn of my years, I find myself more thoughtful of my past, especially of the souls who have touched the more memorable moments in my life. I have so many of them to remember. How can I not as a consulting detective? The very nature of the job attracts the oddities in life and the most colorful individuals tend to follow. As I recollect my past adventures, I try very hard not to dwell upon the darkness of my days, although it abounds as plentifully as the bright points. There are times, however, where the one cannot be celebrated without the other, because the darkness makes the light all that much more vibrant and attractive. I speak of this contrast because one of the most remarkable creatures I have ever had the pleasure of knowing began with as dark a beginning as one can imagine. Her name is Lady Jasmine, and she was a pit dog. Her breed is known as the Staffordshire Terrier, but in your more modern, common terminology, she is a Pit Bull. For beauty and strength of spirit, I have never known her equal. Nor have I ever met a creature with a gentler heart than hers. I was taken by her charm and grace upon our very first meeting, and yet when I ponder her beginnings and see what she is now, I find myself amazed and mesmerized by her all over again.

Lady Jasmine is the favorite pet of the Dibgins family. They rescued her from what she was; from what she rejected in herself and in her life before them. Jasmine knows nothing now but love and a soft hand, but it was not always so for her. Jasmine's story began as a puppy on a breeding farm for fighting dogs. Illegal fighting dogs. Yes, dear friends, dog fighting is as illegal in my time as it is in yours. From the time she was weaned from her mother, Jasmine had to fight to survive. She was bigger and stronger than her siblings, and so her master (if you can grant a brute like that any sort of noble title) placed her in with pups that were much older and meaner than she was. She fought for her food and fought for her survival every day of her life, all the while being groomed for the fighting ring.

Jasmine did what she had to do to survive. She dominated her opponents but only to dominate; never to kill or maim. She was neither cruel nor brutal by nature. She merely wished to end the fights once they were begun. She hated it - the fighting; every bloody minute. All she wanted was peace and rest. If she won a fight, she ate and she wasn't beaten and had peace for a time; at least her version of it. So she fought until she was sick of the fighting and sick of the blood lust which fueled the underground fights she was forced to engage in. One night in the ring, after so many years of endless battles, Jasmine stopped fighting back. She stood there in the ring and welcomed her opponent and the defeat he would bring to her. Maybe then her peace would come. Maybe with her death, she thought, there would be no more pain. Jasmine took a terrible beating that night from her opponent. Her body was torn and bloodied until there was little life left in her. She was ready to welcome her own passing when the opportunity to escape presented itself to her in the form of an open, unguarded door.

Jasmine took her chance that night and ran with what little strength she had left in her, to die as cleanly as she could and as far away from the life she despised as possible. The Dibgins family found her bloody body in a dark alleyway, so near death, they did not expect her to live until the morning. They watched her and cared for her around the clock, their youngest child never leaving Jasmine's side. Miraculously, she pulled through the night and as her body healed from its physical wounds, the greater miracle came in the healing of her heart. This noble creature who had never known anything but cruelty and violence learned what it meant to be loved. And to add miracle upon miracle, she learned how to love back.

Though the beauty of Lady Jasmine's amber colored skin is marred by a thousand scars, her heart shows no injury and is as pure and clear as a new born pup. She has not forgotten her time as a pit dog, but she is as faithful and as loving a pet as if she had never known anything but the Dibgins' love. I share this story with you because not every pit dog has the chance Lady Jasmine had - to escape of their own free will. Oftentimes, pit dogs must be rescued by groups of noble people seeking to save those lost souls from masters who don't deserve to own them. But each of us are given the same chance the Dibgins were given to love these abused souls unconditionally despite the scars that reveal their past.

Dogs and cats are rescued every day from the most deplorable conditions; subjected to unimaginable abuses and forced to do things no creature should ever have to do. They are victimized by the same people who should be their protectors. The breeds themselves should not be condemned because of it. Had the Dibgins family judged Lady Jasmine by her cover - by the wounds on her skin which spoke of her past fighting life - she would have been left to die like vermin in the street, and I would have been deprived one of my dearest friends. Instead, the Dibgins saw beyond her outside to the potential beneath and gave her the chance we all deserve - the chance to be loved.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Animal Rescue - The Love of a Lifetime

Hello dear friends. As I lie here preparing for another night of rest and comfort, I find myself looking back upon my youth and imagining my “might have been” life. You see I have spent the greater part of my years in a home filled with love and adoration; warmth and safety; and the unshakable knowledge that my heart, with all its imperfections, is joyfully intertwined with the heart of the little girl who is and will always be my sweet Annie. She is my owner, but more than that, she is my life. Without her, I am nothing; I am an empty shell. But with her, I know a bliss which elevates itself beyond words. She is my heart’s symphony, and I live for only one purpose – to love her. Any creature, regardless of their species, who finds themselves so connected to their beloved owners, understands the depth of feeling I find myself incapable of expressing with words. Words do not do justice to my love. And yet…..there was a time, so long ago I can barely believe it was ever part of my reality, when my life was vastly different.

When I was barely old enough to hold my head up, I was abandoned by my mother. I was left to rot in a rubbish heap in some dark, cold corner of the world. Why I had been left in such a place, I will never know, and I suppose within the grand scheme of things, it matters little. Times were dreadfully hard then, much as they are now. It was nothing back then in the Victorian Era for a mother or father to anonymously surrender their child at some doorstep or entryway leading to a respectable house or at least a sanitary hospital or halfway house; allowing other hands and hearts to raise or pass on whatever child they had brought forth. Some parents abandoned out of desperation, while others did it out of hope for a better life for their little ones. I was given no such chance. I was alone…bitterly and utterly alone, that is until a kind-hearted stranger found me and took me to safe haven where I was cared for and restored to health.

I was rescued, like so many other creatures have been. I was saved by the mercy of strangers who helped give a dying kitten a chance for a new life. When I was strong enough and old enough, I was given to a tender-hearted little girl named Annie who bestowed upon me a name fit for a king. I remember the very first day we met. It was though, without even knowing it, I had spent my whole life searching for her and she for me. When Annie held me in her arms, I knew it would be forever, and it was. “There we are my little man,” my sweet Annie had said, “I shall call you Mister Tiddleewinks Marmalade.”It was the grandest name I had ever heard. It was the only name I had ever heard, but it was mine; bestowed upon me by a heart that was as grand and large as the name given to her new, little kitten.

You might ask yourself why I have travelled down such a bittersweet road as I lie here in my comfortable bed. It is because there are so many more happy endings that have yet to be reached. For every single happy ending like mine, there are hundreds of other hurting, hopeful creatures waiting for their rescue. They are waiting for their chance to know what it feels like to have what I have; to be loved beyond measure by someone like you. Each person reading this post has the opportunity to be some animal’s happy ending. But remember, it takes two hearts to have a love affair. This is your happy ending as well. Please don’t wait. Contact your local shelter, rescue league, or animal good Samaritan, and prepare yourself for the love of a lifetime.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sir Happy Heart - the World's Greatest Consulting Detective

Hello dear friends. I know it has been some time since my last post, and for this, I greatly apologize. My nineteenth century understanding is clashing with your twenty-first century technology. Please do not misunderstand me. Those of us in the Victorian Era are just as scientifically inclined as the next generation of forward-thinkers. It is merely the need for adjustment on my part which has caused any delay in my communication. You must remember I am more accustomed to quill and paper than I am to keyboard and computer screen.

I thought it fitting in the newness of our friendship to fully introduce you to my best friend and colleague, Sir Happy Heart. Since I have already mentioned him before and since I am certain I shall mention him again, now seems as good a time as any to paint as accurate a portrait of my loveable dachshund detective friend. It is not an easy task to describe such a complex individual; nor one I would take up lightly. Sir Happy has so many facets to his personality that it would be nearly impossible to portray them all within one small article. It has taken me a lifetime of observation and evaluation to do him any justice in my memoires. Having made allowances for my own limitations, however, I shall do my best to share a small glimmer of the bright star that is my nearest and dearest friend.

Sir Happy is what many of you would call a consulting detective; perhaps the best the world has ever known. He taught me everything I know about the subject and what it really takes to earn such a title. Sir Happy, with my meager assistance, has solved dozens of high profile criminal cases, for which he has sought no credit or reward. He has also consulted with Scotland Yard on hundreds of other, less noteworthy investigations. The evidence of his handiwork has often been highlighted in the newspapers of my time, with cases solved and criminals apprehended. But for Sir Happy, his greatest triumphs and proudest accomplishments have been the innumerable cases which have never seen the light of day or made the front page of the newspaper.  Most of Sir Happy’s energies and gifts of solving the unsolvable, in fact, have been dedicated to helping and protecting both the unseen poor of London and their precious pets. I cannot even begin to estimate the number of such cases taken, but I can attest to the fact that he has done more for his fellow creatures than he will ever receive credit for on this earth.

With all of his gifts of observation, intelligence, and cunning, though, Sir Happy is the humblest of creatures; viewing the abilities and the accomplishments of the everyday person in a greater light than he sees his own unique gifts. Sir Happy has often said to me, “What does it matter that I can detect what others might fail to observe? There are those who deserve your respect and admiration far more readily than I do. They are the individuals who go forth every day and work to provide for their families; who make our lives easier and more bearable with their efforts. They are the ones you should admire – not me.”

I think you would like Sir Happy - quirks and all - for his heart is as golden and as pure as the best of men. Certainly, he is no saint by any means, but then again, most of us fall short of the mark set for us by our Creator. The very characteristics which drive me to distraction are often the same ones which make him a dear and beloved friend. He can be stubborn and single-minded in his pursuits, which is an admirable quality for a consulting detective but not so splendid when one desires to share something extemporaneous with him when he is in the midst of focusing on a case. Sir Happy can be impulsive, yet calculating. He can be brusque at times when impatient to solve a crime, yet gentle as a kitten with those he deems vulnerable and needing care. There are times when he is locked within his inner thoughts where he seems distant and distracted, and yet his heart is as open to his friends as the pages of a book and far easier to understand. Sir Happy never hesitates to expose his vulnerabilities with those he holds dear, and always treats others with the same dignity and respect he would demand for himself. He is loyal and loving to those who have earned his favor, but woe be unto the creature who becomes his enemy - particularly the villain who would harm an innocent. There is no rock on earth under which such a miscreant can hide nor a corner of hell into which such an evil fiend can crawl that will protect them from Sir Happy’s justice.

Although I could share a thousand anecdotes to illustrate his many wonderful and sometimes irksome qualities, I will close my narrative with this. There is no other creature on this earth whom I would trust my life and my friendship with more than Sir Happy. He has proven himself worthy time and time again to hold both within his capable paws.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Welcome to the World of Mister Marmee

Hello dear friends, for friends I hope you will all soon become. Welcome to my life – the life of a not so ordinary British cat. My full name is Mister Tittleewinks Marmalade. There is a bit more whimsy to it than any respectable gentleman could appreciate. I was lovingly christened so by my sweet Annie when I was too young to protest such a fanciful title. It is a name she has affectionately maintained throughout all of the years we have been together. My friends and colleagues, however, call me Mister Marmee, or just plain Marmee; and so dear friends, it is that name which I ask you to use. Although I am well acquainted with the idea of sharing my thoughts and experiences with the public through my memoires and through the serials I have published in the newspaper, I am a novice to blogging and the internet. In my time and place, we do not have such wondrous things.

I am on a journey of sorts; to share the many adventures I have experienced over the years with an audience I never could have hoped to reach. That audience is you. My understanding has always been that an author’s best friends are his quill, ink, and paper. As long as he has all three, he may write to his heart’s content. In my case I use my claw. It is much easier and more convenient to sharpen. I have learned however during my brief time here in this current age, such instruments of writing are not required. As a matter of fact, much of what I have always taken for granted as being fundamental to daily life has become superfluous and unnecessary in yours.

You see, I am from the time period you call the Victorian Era. I live in what you consider your past. What year I was born, I cannot fully attest to, but I can assure you, life as I have always known it is not that much different from your own. Though we are lifetimes apart from one another, I have been given a special gift to share small vignettes of my life through this blog. Call it my time portal if you will. I cannot physically transport myself to your modern age, but a part of me is linked to your time nonetheless, no matter how improbable it might seem. I invite you to join me on this quest, and perhaps we shall learn a thing or two from each other. Perhaps we shall find we are closer kin than we ever could have imagined.