Sunday, December 31, 2017

Pub Chatter #132

     Homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1. Shelters take in between 6,000,000 and 8,000,000 dogs and cats every year. Still, it’s not enough. Another 2,700,000  throw away innocent pets are euthanized because there is no room for them in the inn. The Washington Post and the University Of Mississippi pooh-pooh these numbers. They say only 750,000 dogs are euthanized annually. Imagine that, only 750,000! This is an absolute disgrace.

    Ignorance is an unavoidable thing, no one knows everything. But, willful ignorance is a chosen evil. This pet problem can be solved. People are simply unwilling to solve it. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Bob Barker has been telling America that for decades. It’s a simple message but people won’t listen.

     If you wish to be a licensed breeder, learn what the hell you're doing and be a responsible one. If you can’t put in the time, get your pet spayed or neutered. There are free and low-cost programs available that are discoverable with a minimal search. There really is no valid excuse for not choosing one of these options. Spay and neuter programs are like hand washing in health care. They are the #1 way to prevent problems, but not the only ones.

     Consider being a foster parent to a homeless animal. Shelters provide the food and health care for the animals they send to foster homes so there is no monetary cost. It does require love and caring. Adoption is a great idea, but more difficult to do and some shelters make ridiculous demands on prospective parents.

     Shelter dogs are every bit as loving and loyal as those who cost hundreds of dollars. Some breeders won’t like what I’m about to say but designer dogs, cockapoos, goldendoodles, chiweenies, etc...are simply the mutts of yesterday. I hear people say, “I don’t want a shelter dog because I don’t know what I’m getting.” Seriously? You mean you know in advance how that puppy is going to behave? May I remind you shelter dogs were once adorable little puppies. It’s astounding how many Christmas puppies become June’s shelter dogs.

    When you do decide to get a dog, have an idea of what you are getting. A high energy dog will not do well living in a tiny apartment unless you plan on spending a lot of time outside with him. Is shedding a problem for you? Better study. Puppies poop, pee, and chew---consider an older dog if that will inconvenience you. In my opinion dogs, like wine and people, get better with age. Will the dog you want be a good fit for children? Know before tragedy strikes.
     If you do end up with an unexpected litter of dogs, whether you sell them or give them away, beware. Free puppies can end up as bait dogs for dog fighters; a fate worse than death in a crowded shelter. Letting your dog run free is asking for all kinds of trouble all with adverse consequences for the pet.

    We have three dogs that lounge around the Raven and Owl. All spayed and neutered; old and young, long hair and short hair, 2 boys and a girl, each with its own personality and temperament. They all have one thing in common; they are the most loving beings anyone will ever meet. No matter how the day has gone, they meet me with joy and wildly wagging tails---well, not Hydee she doesn’t have much of a tail, she just shakes what she has.

     “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Monday, December 25, 2017

Pub Chatter #131. Christmas Light ----And Dark

The Light Side of Christmas

Soft blanket of white,
Spread o’er our night.
Where trees all aglow     
Let every heart know

The heavenly host sings
Of Peace that He brings
A child from above,
God’s gift of love.

Stars shining bright,
On this holy night.
Tell us again
Of good will to men.

Warmed by the fire,
And songs by a choir,
Fill now our hearts,
With love He imparts.

Love and laughter ring
Glad tidings of a king
A tiny homeless stranger,
Born into a manger.

 The Dark Side of Christmas

Christmas season is the reason
For lights aglow o’er ribbon and bow.
Dare remember this December,
The lost and alone without a home

All is not light, not all is bright
Cupboards lay bare, no joy to share
Where fathers sigh and mothers cry
Send a sign to me and mine.

Beneath the light just out of sight,
Masked by the dark, so cold and stark,
Tears flow bittersweet on the street
Tears none know or see them flow.

Shelters plenty, homes, not any
Forgotten roam, their sidewalk home
Clothes are worn, hope is torn
No Christmas cheer this year.

Step from the light into the night
Brave cold with love grown bold
Extend a hand to every man.

Too many fall to help them all
So for the Son, help one.
Give your heart, make a start

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pub Chatter #130

     We at the Raven and Owl wish to extend seasons greetings to all. However you celebrate, let it be with love. We usually find out too late that life is short and fragile. Each year at this season we are touched with a desire for love, peace, and kindness to our fellow man. Soon we will mourn the season’s passing into a new year of challenges. But, while the season is here, live it to the fullest. Like the trees, cast off the dying leaves of the past and concentrate on the new life being forged in the cold.

     Let us love one another, if only for a day, and forget not to entertain strangers. Warm sentiments are fine, but love and joy are spread by doing. If it is within you, be the hand of God reaching out to the forgotten and hopeless. Kindness is not free, but the intangible rewards are worth the effort.

     If you are having trouble getting into the spirit of Christmas, I suggest reading A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. The story is in the public domain and available free at the Gutenberg Project. This version has wonderful illustrations.
     Not a reader? The story of Scrooge is sure to be on television. My favorite has Mr. Magoo playing the part of Scrooge. It’s a fun bit of animation that carries a powerful message of how to truly celebrate Christmas.

     It is here I leave you to the spirits. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pub Chatter #129 Dr, Johnson

     You know it’s going to be a bad day in the Emergency Room when you see one of your own staff wheeled through the doors. The day doesn’t get any brighter when that person dies. Dr. Johnson was found down in his garage overcome by fumes from a pesticide he was using. An ambulance rushed him to Memorial Hospital in Frederick where he worked as a General Practitioner. He didn’t survive.
     A tragedy like this is emotionally difficult for even veteran staff in the ER. But, you suck it up and move on. There’s always another ambulance inbound. The staff at Memorial Hospital moved on---all that is except, Dr. Johnson. The good doctor is still making his rounds.
     The nurses and aides who staff the in-patient ward at Memorial report seeing the doctor entering rooms along the west hall. A night nurse reported seeing a man in a white coat matching the doctor’s description standing in the main hallway looking into one of the rooms. There were no other doctors in the hospital at the time. There certainly were none like this one whose form ended at the hem of his white coat. The nurse saw him enter the room and reluctantly followed. The room was unoccupied and the doctor nowhere to be found.
     Another of the nurses reported a similar event, but in this instance, at the bottom of the empty space between the hem of his coat and the floor was a pair of brown shoes. There were no legs, no feet, just brown shoes that followed the doctor.
     I worked at the hospital for three years. During that time I never saw the doctor--face to face. However one night we had a full house on the ward. The main hall runs east to west with about a half dozen rooms on each side of the hall. On this particular night, I was making rounds checking on the sleeping patients. Everything was as it should be on the north side. I reached the end of the hall and started down the south side when I noticed the IV pump was dark in the first room I came to. I walked in and---sure enough, the pump was turned off. I turned it back on and continued down the hall preparing to give an aide a talking to for turning off the pump without okaying it with me.
     I didn’t get far. In the next room, again the pump was turned off. It wasn’t unplugged and the battery dead. It was turned to “OFF.” So was the next and the one after that in every room on the south side of the hall. The nurse aides swore the pumps were on twenty minutes beforehand and that they had not touched the settings. Evidently, this had happened before. Dr. Johnson was the unanimous verdict. Whether this was the doctor’s handiwork or not neither the aides or the LPN on duty would go down that hall alone the rest of the night.  
     Memorial Hospital, like many rural hospitals faced with a shrinking population and a shrinking income, closed it’s ward and Emergency Room last year. I have not heard if the doctor is still working the night shift.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pub Chatter #128

   Do you believe in ghosts?

     I am unconvinced that ghosts exist as the spirits of people who have died. Which is not to say I don’t believe in ghosts. I am absolutely convinced there is a spirit world that exists in parallel to this physical one. I use the terms spiritual and physical only in the sense that the two worlds are made of different stuff. Spiritual beings are as real and as “solid” as the next person. They see, hear and speak and may be touched. Their substance, however, is not of this earth. I have no objection to calling these beings ghosts--as for their relation to the dead, I am open to persuasion either way.

     My faith in the existence of the spiritual is experimental. That is, it is based on personal experience, not theory or anecdotal evidence. While I tell ghosts stories, I am not out to win anyone over. Real belief is always based on evidence. The type and amount of evidence required to persuade a person is highly individualized. Seeing is believing, but believing has a way of coloring what we see.

     Critics of paranormal investigations say ghost hunters see ghosts everywhere. Their complaint is that if someone believes in ghosts and goes looking for them, it is not surprising they find ghosts wherever they look. On the other hand, it is too easy to say, “I just don’t see it,” when you don’t believe what you are looking at exists in the first place.

     I have spent most of my adult life working in what I consider to be the most “haunted” places around---churches and hospitals. It has been my experience that these two places harbor very different types of spirits. Those in hospitals tend to be pranksters out to get people to scratch their heads and wonder what the hell’s going on. Church spirits tend to be malevolent. Who knows, maybe they are spirits of the dead who avoided church all their lives and now are spending eternity in church. That would tend to piss a spirit off. Whatever the case, they don’t want you there.

     This post is a departure from my usual. The Crusader and the Colonel are picking up most of that allowing me to spend more time on my literary pursuit of the supernatural. I am working on a small collection of Christmas ghost stories. It involves mostly blowing off the dust and working the rust off the chains so they rattle better. Anyway, I thought I’d introduce the stories by sharing a few stories of the non-fiction variety. Next Saturday I hope to introduce you to Dr. Johnson, resident ghost physician, at Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Oklahoma.