There are so many pictures I could post of adorable and painfully sweet pitbull babies to start off this post, but I have decided to post a picture of my favorite one of all time: Pumpkin.
My family and I are convinced God literally placed Pumpkin in our lives by hand. When my in-laws needed a sweet, young, full-of-life creature, Pumpkin literally just appeared, trapped under their porch stairs one Halloween day. Now you get why she is named “Pumpkin.” She was a mere 4-6 weeks old when she “appeared,” whining and whimpering underneath the porch stairs.
And when she was brought into the house, it was if she was home. She knew exactly where she was most needed…
…on the lap of my terminally-ill father-in-law. She spent her entire puppy-hood, curled up in this position, and the two of them napped their way through the winter and into the waning days of my father-in-law’s life. She was literally an angel. There is no other way to describe it. Now that my sweet father-in-law is gone, Pumpkin is continuing her “rescuing” of my mother-in-law, by sleeping with her and being her constant companion, helping her assuage some of the pain of the loss of her life-long partner.
Pumpkin was also my very first “up close and personal” exposure to a bully-breed. She is full grown now, and has lost that adorable baby cuteness, but a different kind of emotion is elicited from me now, whenever I see her.
J-O-Y. How can you not love this face with the tongue hanging out and that giant smile? She is completely loyal, faithful to the end, full of life and energy and never once gets aggressive. She will lick you to death if you let her, lay her head on your lap and cuddle with you when you need it, and she always greets you with a smile and a body that wags (instead of just a tail). She is joy!
She loves people, other animals, and life itself. When she plays, she is all in, and when she finally collapses, she is a sweet and mushy and warm and fuzzy as you could ever hope to have in any living creature. Behold, the vicious pitbull!!
Why the sudden post on pitbulls? Because…
I started watching a show on TV called Pitbulls and Parolees on Animal Planet. It is the story of Tia Maria Torres and her pitbull rescue called Villalobos Pitbull Rescue Center. I rarely watch shows on the Animal Planet channel because as much as I adore, love and worship dogs (and those descriptives are much too understated), I absolutely abhor watching sad stories where dogs (or animals of any kind, for that matter) are in pain or are suffering.
But this show is different. Yes, there are moments of pure emotion, raw suffering and sorrow, and just plain misery. But there are equal amounts of reward, redemption and renewal which balance out the unsavory and make this show perfect for me.
I cry through many of the episodes, but at the end I feel uplifted and encouraged. One of my favorite parts was when, on one particular episode, one of the parolees was being hailed as a hero. He was clearly uncomfortable with this moniker. He finally expressed to the camera, “I’m not used to this. I’ve always been the bad guy. No one has ever called me a hero before. This is going to take some time to adjust to, but it’s a nice feeling.”
Then today, I came across this article by Ann Brenoff of the Huffington Post, and one of her statements moved me incredibly.
But there is an element of “Pit Bulls And Parolees” that resonates even louder with me — that old saw about today being the first day of the rest of your life. It’s one of those trite-but-true sayings that feels even too corny and dated for Facebook. Yet so many of us waste time blaming the past for our present. Why aren’t we all looking forward, or at least trying to? With apologies to all the therapists in the world, there isn’t a whole lot any of us can do to erase what came before; all you can do is accept that it happened, forgive the bastards and move on. Instead, we choose to drag our chains through the mud. I don’t get it myself.
Midlife is the perfect time of life for those of us who are deadline-driven. While the sand in our hourglasses isn’t in imminent danger of running out, most of us realize that our time no longer feels unlimited. It’s today or never to determine how we spend the next chapters.
In light of all my recent posts about my midlife crisis or angst or whatever you want to call it, Ms. Brenoff makes a wonderful point. Today is the day to decide what do to with the remaining sand in our hourglass. Today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. I am a fabulous and well practiced procrastinator at times, but when I am motivated…look out. Don’t get in my way or you might get run over. My trick is finding the motivation to feel that way every day.
The only way I know how to do that is to rescue myself. Rescue myself from self-pity, self-doubt, PMS (the “poor me syndrome,” not the other kind), and try to live life like…well…like a pitbull.
A rescued pitbull.
And at the end of the day, to go to bed, comfortable in the knowledge that I have done what I needed to, to make my day worthwhile and in sync with what I want to do with my life.
In short…to live like Pumpkin.
If you are interested in helping rescue pitbulls or other animals, go to your local shelter, find a rescue center online, or donate to VRC or any local rescue organization. They always need money, supplies and simple support. Get involved today!