Photo by Elizabeth Goolian

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rescued dog with big medical bills: Can you help?

This nice young dog was saved from euthanasia at the eleventh hour. He was so mistreated that he had heartworms and other parasites, and he desperately needs surgery on his knees so that he can have a long and happy life. Click above for more information and to make a donation--however small. It all adds up!

UPDATE: As always, even in times as tough as these, people who love animals have come through in a big way, exceeding the funding request in less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A belated introduction

After reserving this blog two years ago and then letting it sit, I started using it in the anti-puppy mill cause this summer. And then I realized that I was posting without letting anyone know who I am or why I'm blogging. Just some crazy old lady (hint: name of the blog) ranting and raving about stuff that matters to her.

And actually, that's pretty much true. As of this date, I'm 63 years old, female, self-employed. And cranky. And getting crankier by the day.

Stephanie Miller, who starts my days off with a bang with her radio show that combines morning zoo humor with politics, talked a lot about cranky old people when John McCain was running for President. Whenever his name was first mentioned, Steph's mooks would play a recording of McCain making a querulous old man sound, and they'd follow that with a mook mimic of McCain yelling at kids, "Get off my lawn!" Which typifies some old folks, no doubt. But there's more to it than that.

Old people (I've stopped referring to myself and my peers as "middle-aged" or "older;" we are old now) become cranky for lots of reasons. Sometimes it's as simple as this: They don't feel well. They have chronic pain, or illnesses. They don't sleep well. And sometimes it's as simple as this: They're worried--maybe about their kids or their friends, but often about money. As in "There isn't enough." They watch their friends die, and they worry about dying themselves.

And there's something else. They see their pasts--things they have loved, that have been important to them--swept away by new technologies and just by the inexorable march of time. Here's an example: When was the last time you mailed your grandmother or grandfather a thank-you note, or just a note, period? We miss things like that. The doctor tells you you have to give up coffee, or butter, or wine. Or all three. You have videotapes and LPs that you love, but you don't have the technology to play them any more. You don't want to be seen in a bathing suit, even though you love the beach. In so many ways, the sweetness of life diminishes a little with every passing year.

But now there's more. Now there's something much bigger that makes us not cranky, but angry. Yesterday, the Government Accounting Office released a report, Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession, that laid out, in stark terms, what those of us over 60 have known for some time: Life is becoming extremely difficult for us. And we feel cheated.

I'm not unusual among people of my generation in the fact that I started working summers when I was 15, and I never stopped. I worked part-time every year I was in college except for my freshman year. I went to work full-time as soon as I graduated. When my husband and I moved to London, England, in 1971, I got a job and worked the whole time we were there. We came back to the U.S. and I went to work. I quit my full-time job to go to graduate school, but I worked part-time until I got my degree, after which I went back to work full-time. In my 30s, I started putting money away for retirement, and I made faithful IRA contributions. My grandparents and parents were also hard-working people--that's where I learned my work ethic--and they all had comfortable retirements. Not luxurious, but comfortable. No one was eating cat food. When they needed a new car, my parents were able to buy one. I was on the same path.

But now, like so many people in my age group, the idea of a comfortable retirement seems dubious. The GAO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, reported that unemployment rates doubled and remained higher than before the recession for workers aged 55 and older. Household incomes fell by six percent for those 55 to 64 years old. For those 65 and older, Social Security and other benefits did little more than help keep them out of poverty. The several stock market crashes we have endured have reduced the amount of money we so diligently put aside--and there isn't time for us to recoup those losses. So household net worth fell for all older adults during the recession, and poverty rates increased for those between 55 and 64. Older people who lost their jobs are finding it much more difficult to find work. They are left with no option other than raiding their retirement savings--if they have retirement savings.

And now, the lunatic right that has taken over the Republican party wants to reduce Social Security benefits--or eliminate the program altogether--despite the fact that Social Security will be solvent and able to pay benefits on schedule for at least 20 more years. Why? Pure greed. Enrich the already rich corporations and let old people fend for themselves. Despite the fact that Social Security is not a government giveaway; those of us who have been working for 50 years have paid into the program via deductions from our paychecks for all that time.

So, yes. I'm pissed. Off. Not cranky. Furious. Many of our elected representatives--the greedy right and the spineless left, all of whom, by the way, suck off the government teat until they die, with extremely generous healthcare and retirement programs--are ready to hang us out to dry so they can line their own pockets with cash from their corporate buddies.

Really? Really? Is that what you think? Because, you know, it's us--the old people--who vote. We vote in school board elections. We're old enough to have had parents and uncles and neighbors who fought in World War II to save the world from tyranny and preserve democracy. We take voting seriously.

And this angry old broad is here to tell you: You fuck with Social Security, and we will kick your asses. Believe it.

So that's who I am.

Just to expand the record, I've earned my living for decades as a writer and editor. I was a dog rescuer for 14 years. And when I'm not pissed off, I love reading, music, movies, decorating, cooking, gardening, fashion, design, antiques, fall, fireplaces, and Christmas. We'll leave the things I don't love for another time. There are plenty of those too.

A very belated welcome to my blog!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What do those Wall Street protesters want?

Oh, Fox News! How hilarious you are! When the Tea Party demonstrations were at their peak, you referred to them as "patriots." Even when demonstrators showed up with guns strapped ostentatiously to their hips. Even when they waved signs showing Obama with a Hitler moustache. Or a watermelon. But the Occupy demonstrators show up without guns or Hitler references, and what do you call them? Terrorists.

You would be so damn funny if you weren't so damn dangerous.

But this post isn't about Murdoch's evil empire. It's about those demonstrations. Because we're Americans, we like simple answers, so pundits and just regular people want to know what, exactly, the Occupy demonstrators are all about. Stated simply and directly, please, with no annoying grey shades to obscure the black-and-white.

OK. Here you go.

In a Letter to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune, Linda Finley Belan sums it up in a way that anyone other than the blindly loyal followers of Drug-addled Gasbag Rush Limbaugh* can understand.

Read it here:,0,1281188.story

In her cogent analysis of why big business is the target of these demonstrations, she says this--my favorite paragraph in her excellent essay: "Executives lament that they can't accomplish both goals [maintaining stock value and being profitable] by blaming their problems on external issues. They waste millions in buying off politicians to fix attention-diverting problems, like regulations and taxes. If they kept the millions they're throwing at the politicians and invested in their companies, they could jump start the economy right now."

Simple enough? It makes perfect sense.

*I believe that Stephanie Miller may have trademarked this description. If she didn't, she should have.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't forget to watch!

Tonight, 8 PM Eastern, on HBO2. "Madonna of the Mills"--the documentary about a woman whose passion in life is saving puppy mill breeder dogs.

I'm taking bets on whether Adam Gopnik will be staring at the plasma box at the appointed hour. My guess? You guessed it.

Speaking of Adam Gopnik, on The New Yorker's "Ask the Author" Web site page, Gopnik was asked why he bought a puppy mill dog, and further, why he "would do anything to support this horrible industry."

No surprise, Gopnik went all adorable in answering the question, making light of his decision (or, more accurately, lack thereof) and tossing in a joking reference to Larry David. He said that he didn't know about puppy mills until after he'd bought the dog.

I can't label this an outright lie, because there's libel to think about. But I can tell you why I believe it's a lie, and here it is. The most important quality a writer has to have is curiosity. A writer who isn't curious about the world--and by "curious" I mean obsessively so--isn't a writer; s/he's a typist. Clearly, Adam Gopnik isn't a typist. Which means he possesses plenty of curiosity.

But we're supposed to believe that his daughter said she "could live with" a puppy mill dog, and he didn't respond in one of the following ways?
1. "Live with? What do you mean, live with? What would you have to live with?"
2. "A puppy mill dog? What's a puppy mill dog, and why is that a bad thing?"

I know. I need to get over Adam Gopnik. It just toasts me that all of us thousands of rescue volunteers work so hard for so long to get the word out about puppy mills and why it's so important never to buy anything in stores that sell puppies, and with one careless paragraph, he makes it all something that people can live with.

Maybe the HBO2 program will help make up for it a a little bit. Please watch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Irresponsible Parenthood, Adam Gopnik Edition

Adam Gopnik is a New Yorker writer who has created a cottage industry writing about his adorable family. So much more adorable than yours! The sophisticated Gopniks used to live in Paris. Now they live in New York City. Where is it that you live again? In what sad little town? The Gopniks are so much more sophisticated than your family.

But as it turns out, when it comes to being a responsible parent, you are so much more responsible than Adam Gopnik. Whose adorable 10-year-old daughter wanted a dog. And not just any dog--a pedigreed Havanese. Adam Gopnik and his sophisticated wife didn't like dogs. In his latest interminable Personal History piece in The New Yorker, a piece titled "Dog Story," he uses words like "disgust" and "phobia" to describe their attitudes toward canines. So they kept putting her off.

Until one day, the adorable daughter announced that "she could live with a Manhattan pet-store 'puppy mill' dog." Love the quotation marks around "puppy mill." You can practically see Adam Gopnik making air quotes with his fingers as he tells this story. It's pretty amazing that a 10-year-old knows that any puppy she buys in a Manhattan pet store will have been bred in a puppy mill. Not so amazing that this kid--just dying for a dog--would decide that she could live with that.

What a wonderful opportunity for Adam Gopnik to teach his adorable child a big lesson about life. To teach her about making responsible decisions and not contributing to a cruel and vicious industry just because she wants something. Can you see Adam Gopnik escorting his daughter to the family computer? Can you see him helping her search for Havanese rescue groups and letting her know that adopting a homeless dog is more rewarding than funding the evils of the puppy mill industry? That's a lesson a 10-year-old--filled, as kids that age are, with empathy and love for little creatures--would pick up on in a flash. You're not as adorable or sophisticated as Adam Gopnik, but you can see that, can't you?

Well, that isn't what Adam Gopnik did. Instead, he bought his daughter a Havanese puppy from a Manhattan pet store--and by extension from a "puppy mill." Because that's how you teach children to make responsible decisions: You let them make uninformed choices and you give them exactly what they want when they want it.

And does he, anywhere in the seven pages of densely packed text that follows, express remorse over his decision? He does not. Instead, he talks about the evolution of dogs and about the feelings dogs have--feelings of "pain, fear, worry, need." Which just makes it worse. He knows that dogs feel pain and fear and worry and he buys a puppy mill dog anyway? Adam Gopnik is so much more dissociated than you!

I sent Adam Gopnik an e-mail, encouraging him to watch a program that will be broadcast on HBO2 at 8 PM (Eastern) on Wednesday, August 24--"Madonna of the Mills." It's about a New York woman who has saved some 2,000 puppy mill breeder dogs from the fates that await them when their breeding usefulness is over: Being buried alive. Being beaten to death with shovels. Being dumped on the side of a road or in a dense woods. I suggested that perhaps the breeder dog that had produced his Havenese puppy was one of the ones this woman had saved. Or perhaps not. I suggested he have his daughter watch the program too.

One of the dogs I adopted during my 14 years as a rescue volunteer was turned over to our rescue group at the age of 13 because, her family said, "She's not fun any more." The parents wanted to get rid of her and go buy a new puppy for their kids. I never thought of these people as very sophisticated, and certainly not adorable. But now that I think about it, they have a lot in common with Adam Gopnik. Isn't that adorable?