Sunday, December 4, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

Twenty odd years ago I made a visit to the audiologist because my family was tired of the TV volume rattling the rafters. The doctor didn’t mince any words, he simply said, "Hearing aids are the only solution for your problem". So…he fitted me with a pair of amplifiers the size of conch shells, that made both ears sag like teats on a sow. After thirty days of high volume, low frequency racket I threw in the towel and took them back for a refund. Fast forward about eighteen years and once again my hearing loss has driven me back to the audiologist. I’m tired of sitting in session meetings and knowing that 60% of what’s said is getting by me and I have not a clue as to what it was. My pride is making me say…sure, sounds fine to me, when in fact I don’t know what I‘ve agreed to. This time around the doctor assured me that current technology can solve my problem…..for the mere price of $6000.00. I’m thinking…ain’t gonna happen. I’m still paying for three heart attacks, two strokes and a nail in my leg and there’s not $6 grand to help me hear it thunder.

It’s worth mentioning that for the past 50 years I have been an organ donor…….but so far I haven’t given up anything. I carry a card and my driver’s license says I’m willing but most of what I have left is pretty worn out. It’s a simple fact that nobody wants my ears ‘cause they have been shot for ages. I’m not really sure there is a way to donate your ears like a kidney or lung……but hearing aids are a different deal. Thank God I have good friends. Such a friend, a true gentleman named Ronnie Cox, told his wife as he lay dying, "If Daddy can’t use my hearing aids, find someone that can." Two weeks ago, his widow offered them to me. Now this is like matching up a new set of horns with a worn out old goat. Tain’t likely to fit. But if you factor in some serious praying by my pastor and his contacts, the odds get better. To shorten this story let me simply say, the doctor said: If I built you a custom set and rated them at ten, this set your friend has offered is a high 7, maybe an 8. There are still some levels you won’t hear but much of what you will now hear you won’t even recognize.

Simply stated, my life changed last Wednesday. When she showed me how to insert them and explained their function, and then turned them on via a computer program…….it was like the lights came on. In a moment I was brought to tears and my emotions are still pretty raw. When I left her office the traffic noise on Arlington Blvd. frightened me, my signal lights made a funny clicking noise and my old truck sounded like a bucket of bolts. Since that time I constantly find myself trying to identify the sounds I’m hearing for the first time in years. I’m sure I can sit four or five rows back from the front at church tomorrow.

Dick CarneyThere is a point to this: Sign up today to be an organ donor……it can change someone’s life..or keep it going. If you know someone who wears hearing aids encourage them to donate them and become a hear-o. My friend Ronnie cared enough and you can rest assured I will pass them on.

-- Crookedpaw

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Four inches can make a big difference

For the last many years as I have walked out the front door of the Spay Today Clinic (a high volume, low cost, spay and neuter facility, that I am part of) I have had no choice but to look straight across the parking lot at the County Animal Shelter. I have an open view of about 16 dog runs, each containing a tail wagging, slobbering creature with a set of brown eyes looking at me with the same question...won’t you take me home? Maggie and I have long ago come to grips with that question and we have chosen to do other things to help the animal causes. This has been a hard winter in eastern North Carolina and it has bothered me that these poor critters have no choice but to lay on the cold, damp and hard concrete.

About a year ago I saw a fancy dog bed at a local boarding facility and thought..”Maggie needs one of those”. Then I looked at the price which was close to $100.00 and thought 'damn, it's nothing but PVC and cloth. I can make one of them for less than that!! So, I began to think on it and like most things discovered that it would require some research to find all the components. Pretty quick I found all I needed except for a PVC three way elbow. I checked Lowes, Home Depot, all the local plumbing wholesalers, nobody had such an item. Finally I realized it was not a plumbing item but a plastic furniture item. Duh. So before long I had found a source for the last part. I ordered a dozen even thought I only needed four (something told me one bed would not be enough). Before long Maggie had a new elevated (4 inches off the surface) dog bed and had sworn off of ever sleeping on the floor again. She loves this thing!

So, if Maggie can have an elevated dog bed, then why can’t the 60 dogs who call the animal shelter home have one?? I figured I could spend about $1000.00 for materials and spend 3-4 days putting them together and this problem could be solved. First snag: I don’t have an extra $1K or a lot of free time. My pastor claims I have a PhD. in MSH(make s--- happen), so it was time to prove him right. Seemed to me this would be a good project for the Boy Scouts. After all, these days most old ladies don’t need help crossing the street anymore. So I goggled BSA. After clicking on a dozen or so websites I had the name of the local head scout (I figured his name would be Tonto). A call to him led me to a local scout master with the First Presbyterian Church and in about 45 minutes I will have the first meeting to discuss the possibility of a local lad taking on this effort as his Eagle Scout project.

Maggie watching

I’m sharing this with you for one reason. Every county has an animal shelter and most have concrete runs were the dogs are contained. How long since you slept on a slab of concrete? This project will work in Spokane, Baton Rouge or Baltimore and I can tell you how to make it work in 15 minutes or an email or two. Let’s get the varmints off the cold, damp ground and on an elevated dog bed. Believe me, in this case, four inches makes a huge difference. They will love you for it and so will Maggie and I. Think about it and give me a call. Crookedpaw

Note: My meeting with the scouts was successful. Look out critters, better times are coming!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Pootin" in Church

Maggie 2.0Every so often, you have a flashback that brings back memories that are worth sharing. Today as I sat in church, one of our members who has a service dog, got up and made her way out of the sanctuary. Thinking she might have anticipated a moment of unbalance, which her dog is trained to help her with, I followed her into the nartex to offer assistance. As it turned out, she had detected that her dog was about to have a gas attack. (He must have “pooted” in church, something I was told never to do as a child). So…as it turned out this was a false alarm and she and her dog made it to open air. However…for some reason it reminded me of Maggie, my dog and beloved companion. It dawned on me that 7 years ago tomorrow, I had acted on an impulse to drive 5 hours south and rescue a pretty Border Collie I had seen on an animal rescue website.

I had been looking for some time for just the right dog and her photo had connected with me instantly. It didn’t matter that she was 5 hours away and came with a $150.00 adoption fee or that I had to have a home visit from a local volunteer and a letter from my vet. All that mattered, from the moment I saw her, was that I did whatever was necessary to connect the two of us. When I pulled into the driveway at her foster home, which was just outside of Newberry, S.C., Maggie was waiting for me with her leash, a partial bag of food and a smile that continues to this day to warm my old goat heart. She hopped into the front seat of my pickup, laid her head in my lap and we set out for home. Since that time we have been joined at the heart. She is lying here at my feet as I recount this tale and continues to bring joy to me to this day. There are many important things in my life: my sons, my grandchildren, all my family, my church and the good friends I have. But…I gotta tell you all, nobody loves me like Maggie.


It’s just a simple fact. If you have not experienced the love of a dog, your life is incomplete. I am involved in a local spay and neuter clinic, that exists simply to reduce the numbers of stray dogs from the brutal death that so often comes with a trip to county animal shelters. I tell you that, simply to encourage you to find it in your heart as we start a new year, to adopt an animal from a local shelter. No matter what you call it, euthanasia is final. They never get another chance to greet you at the door with a wagging tail and some wet face licks or crawl up in your lap for some loving. I could go on and on about the agony of a one way trip to the animal shelter, but…save us the time. Adopt a dog this year and then try to be the person they think you are, and we’ll talk again next New Year’s.

-- Crookedpaw