Fake Bone Spurs and Service Animals

So, I said that my next post would be concerning the Hebrew month of Elul, but no. Do not despair, however, that post will be appearing soon. But first, I needed to pay homage to the recently deceased American hero, Sen. John McCain. I had mentioned him in one of my previous posts in which I talked about heroism. This is a topic of interest to Mike, and a major theme of his story, “Autobiography of a Georgia Cat.”. Sen. McCain has been acclaimed for his bravery, heroism, modesty, and patriotism. Mike didn’t agree with his politics but greatly respected his character. It speaks volumes that Sen. McCain has requested that the two people he wanted to eulogize him were both past political opponents whom he respected, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He also made one of his dying wishes that Pres. Donald Trump not attend his funeral. Spoiled Donald had been disrespecting Sen. McCain for years, staying that he wasn’t a hero just because he had been captured by the enemy, and that he liked better people who weren’t captured, implying that being captured by the enemy suggested either incompetence or cowardice. An examination of spoiled Donald’s military service will reveal that he didn’t have any, being excused by what is widely presumed to be a fake bone spur certified by a doctor who was willing to provide such documentation to the draft board. Spoiled Donald appears to be the kind of patriot who not only thinks it’s stupid to pay taxes but it’s also stupid to serve in the military if you don’t have to. Enough of this.

Because of some recent (over the past year or two) incidents with so-called service animals on commercial air flights, legislation has been introduced in the US Senate, and a number of airlines are re-examining their policies regarding service animals. Many airline employees and passengers have been injured or otherwise greatly inconvenienced by unruly animals that people have brought onto airplanes. People are taking advantage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the lack of suitable regulations the airlines have in place regarding accommodating disabled people who have legitimately trained service dogs. People have brought animals other than dogs onto airplanes that they claim to be “comfort partners”. These animals have included peacocks, ostriches, kangaroos, iguanas, snakes, spiders, and you name it, anything with more than two legs. Well, almost anything. I’ve never heard of a service cat. What an absurd concept! Mike and Judy’s friend, Toni Eames, is president of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). Toni has been blind since birth and has been partnered with assistance dogs continuously for the last 51 years. She and her late husband, Ed, were founders of the IAADP and tireless advocates for blind and otherwise disabled people and their dogs. They have worked as consultants for Delta and other airlines and have lectured at veterinary medical schools across the country explaining what the special needs of blind people are and what kind of specialized care their assistance dogs need. If you are partnered with a service animal and at an airport that has a designated area where service dogs can relieve themselves, you can thank Ed and Toni for this. Ed passed away several years ago. Toni has continued to be a staunch advocate for the blind and otherwise disabled people and for assistance dogs. The average person is not aware of the difficulties that blind people in particular have to deal with. They frequently will be denied service whether it’s in a restaurant, store, or pickup by a taxi, Uber, or Lyft driver. They are now protected under the law, but development of reasonable regulations often takes place without adequate input from stakeholders such as the IAADP and the people they represent. Recent proposed rules include the requirement of provision of documents by the person with the assistance dog, often an impossibility in an emergency situation.  Some airlines require a signature from a Doctor of veterinary medicine that the animal will be well behaved while traveling. On the one hand, many veterinarians are reluctant to provide such a letter even to a well-trained dog. On the other hand, there are multiple websites where one can obtain such a letter. There is a whole industry of providing of documentation, vests, tags, and other paraphernalia for fake service animals. There are two keys that are most important for protecting the rights of the disabled person as well as the safety of the person and the public. First, the service animal has to be a dog. Second, the service dog has to be specifically trained to perform tasks and functions that the disabled person is unable to perform for himself or herself. The provision of emotional comfort per se is not sufficient. There are service dogs who have been specifically trained to calm the disabled person in an emergency situation. This is not the same thing as a comfort animal. Documentation of such training is necessary. All service animals are trained by academies that will provide certification that training has been completed for that dog. It also seems reasonable to have some size and breed limitations. Delta has proposed banning pit bull type dogs from their cabins. Based on my experience with pit bulls, while most of them are sweet, some can be unpredictable and aggressive. I would not want to have to be in an airport or airplane with one. It also seems reasonable to have some size limitation. Seating and leg room on commercial aircraft is getting more cramped as the airlines are trying to squeeze every nickel out of their transportation business. Mike ran into an acquaintance of his a couple of years ago at the airport, a young woman who had a dog the size of a buffalo calf on a leash. The dog was pulling her across the parking lot, and she was hanging on for dear life. The dog weighed 180 pounds if he weighed an ounce. Squeezing a dog that big under the seats would be miserable for the dog as well as for the seatmates of the person accompanied by such a “comfort animal”. If you are interested in the IAADP or any of its activities you can contact them at [email protected], call them at 541-972-3647, or mail them at IAADP, PO Box 638, Sterling Heights, MI 48311. They could use your support.

In this context, it’s worth noting that September is international guide dog month. You may recall that I talked about some of these special days in my post, “Happy National Cat Day Y’all” on October 29, 2017. Before August gets away entirely let me make special note that the week of August 5-11 was international assistance dog week, and feeding pets of the homeless week; and August 10 was national spoil your dog day. August 18 was international homeless animals day, August 26 was national dog day, and today, August 28, is rainbow bridge remembrance day. September is animal pain awareness month. September 8 will be the AKC responsible dog ownership day; September 9 is national hug your hound day; September 9 and 10th are national pet Memorial days: September 15 is national puppy mill awareness day: September 24-28 is national dog week and September 28 is world rabies day. I’m not sure if they are for or against it.

Oh, and one more thing. You might be interested in reading a book by a good friend of Mike’s who adopted a child who was subsequently found to have significant mental health difficulties. He would go into  rages and be uncontrollable. They got an assistance dog that would calm him. She wrote a book describing their story which has been very well received. Her name is Donnie Kanter Winokur, and the name of the book is “Chancer, How One Good Boy Saved Another”. Do check it out.

Well, that’s all the news for now from happy Meadows. Have a great week and I hope to send you more news soon. I hope it’s good news. And remember, if it’s not about love it’s not about anything.

A Feline Oligarchy

So, whenever the TV or radio is on I hear mention of the Russians. It’s the Russians this and the Russians that. I’m not sure exactly what Russians are but I do know that there are many different kinds of Russians and it sounds as though there are a lot of them. There are black Russians, white Russians, Russian vodka, a kind of cat called a Russian blue; and I’ve heard a lot about Russian oligarchs. I had no clue what an oligarch was, let alone a Russian oligarch, but one day I heard Mike and Judy talking about this. It turns out that an oligarchy is a form of government which is run by a small group of powerful people. Each powerful person would be an oligarch. Well, I didn’t think too much about this, but one day when I was meditating I had the sudden insight that our little household here in Happy Meadows is a feline oligarchy. The small group of cats here, headed by myself, of course, pretty much run the show. We let Mike and Judy make some of the minor decisions, but everything, particularly what pertains to us cats, is up to us. It is a pleasant thought. You might want to try to commission your own little oligarchy and sit on your own little thrones, figuratively, of course.

And speaking of minor decisions, I’ve heard many times Mike tell the story about his father, grandpa Moe. Grandpa Moe would tell people that when he and Bernice got married they made an agreement. He would make all the major decisions and she would make all the minor decisions. He would then add that to date there have been no major decisions.

Mike and Judy were off away for a few days. They packed up their little suitcases and grabbed the big wedge pillow that stays on their bed, put everything in the car, and took off. We always know when they pack up like that that they’ll be gone for a few days. This time Michelle came over and took care of us. She is the best. You couldn’t ask for a better big sister. So, a few days later they come back without the big wedge pillow. It took them a while to realize they didn’t have it. The weird thing is, the same thing happened last year. I don’t know how you can pack up a hotel room and stare at this great big brown wedge pillow lying there in the middle of the bed and not see it. But there you are. It turns out that where Mike and Judy were staying is a vacation area where one of his friends is going soon. So Mike asked his friend to get his pillow and bring it back. His friend, Steve, is very nice. He said that he would get the pillow unless they had no room for it in the car. Mike told him that he could always have his wife take the bus home if that were the case. But in truth, it wouldn’t be Kathy taking the bus home.

Earlier this year the people who lived to one side of our house moved. They were empty-nesters and didn’t need such a big house. They also wanted to be closer to work. They were very nice, and good neighbors. There is a new family that lives there now. They are also very nice and have a cute little boy. He would like to stick his fingers in my eyes if I let him. But, no. Well, not long ago the people on the other side of our house also moved. They probably lived there close to 10 years without ever saying 10 words to Mike and Judy. They didn’t have any cats either. They kind of just up and left a few days ago. So far nobody else has moved in. I’m sure it will happen soon though. Maybe I’ll finally get a chance to go into the house and snoop around. That house got hit by lightning years ago before I was around. A strike hit a huge tulip poplar tree in the front yard, blew it up, ran along the ground to the house, and fried every wire and appliance in the house. Luckily, somehow there was no fire and nobody was hurt. Mike was finding small pieces of charred wood in his yard for years after that.

Mike is back to reading again. He can go months without looking at a book and then he starts reading again. He likes to read about history, especially, the history of religion. When his friend Warren died about four months ago Brenda offered Mike the pick of books in his library. Warren was a minister and had lots of books about religion and spirituality. That literary windfall should keep Mike busy for two or three years. Warren also had some good books about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike has a great interest in that as well. It’s all kind of the same thing, spirituality and its evolution. We cats have our own take on things. I wouldn’t say that we have a religion per se but we communicate with our Creator by meditating every day. We recognize our place in the world as having been made in the Creator’s image. My grandfather, Black Jack, talked a lot about all this in his book, “Autobiography of a Georgia Cat”. I’m sure I have mentioned his autobiography before. It’s a good story, and no doubt you could find a copy of it if you are interested. Not that I’m encouraging you to do so. You probably have plenty enough to do already.

I went to visit the Donkles recently. (Richie has gone off to school this year. Apparently he did well enough in his first year at Kennesaw State University that his father and mother said they would pay for him to go to Auburn this year. Not that there is anything wrong with KSU. But a lot of his friends are at Auburn. It must be far away because he will only come back for holidays and such. He will be able to stay at Auburn as long as he keeps his grades up and doesn’t get into trouble.) Talk about a house that’s too big for the people that live there. But it’s a great place to snoop around. Richard is still president of the homeowners association, but I think his mind is elsewhere because I haven’t heard any wacky ideas being bandied about recently, particularly the one about making Happy Meadows a gated community. He did support Mike’s suggestion and they now are having an AA meeting at the clubhouse every week. So we get a lot of people coming to Happy Meadows from outside the subdivision. That would never work if they had to go through a gate and have a pass code.

Oh, and also, the Greenblatts got a new cat. It’s not a cat to replace Snowball who got run over by a car earlier this year (Not so Loud, Just about Right, March 25, 2018). You can’t replace a cat, but you can bring a new cat into your home and love on it the way you used to love on your departed cats. They’re not letting this new cat out of the house, and I haven’t met him yet but I’m sure I will soon.  I think they got their new kitty from the shelter where Judy is a volunteer. I’m very proud of all the work that people do on behalf of animals in need. As I have always said there are way more good people than bad people in the world. It’s just that the bad people get most of the attention. And some of them turn into oligarchs, or oligarch wannabes.

So, Michelle texted Mike yesterday that it was  Black Cat Appreciation Day, a silly concept, if you ask me. Every day should be Black Cat Appreciation Day. I hope you appreciate your black cat today…….and every day. And if you don’t have a black cat, maybe you could head over to your nearby shelter and adopt one. I have mentioned before about the problem of an overabundance of black cats and dogs at shelters because people don’t seem to want to adopt them. This puts us/them at greater risk of euthanasia (Nevermore, February 5, 2017). What you will get out of the experience is a lot more than you will put into it. Cats have been enhancing the lives of people for at least 5,000 years. If you are in Atlanta, you might want to check out the “Divine Feline” exhibit at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. According to Mike, they have amassed quite a few objects of stone, brass, gold and other kinds of materials from ancient Egypt and set up an interesting display. It might be your only lifetime opportunity to see a mummified cat, if that is important to you. I understand that they felt it necessary to have an exhibit of dog images from ancient Egypt as well, but appropriately, it is poorly advertised, and kept in a separate room. The Egyptians didn’t exactly worship cats, but they represented many of their goddesses with cat’s heads or as entire cats. They admired the fecundity of cats, as well as the skillful care and devotion that the females exhibited towards their young. They admired the fierce aggressiveness that they would display in protecting their brood, and also respected the hunting prowess cats displayed, which was protective of their grain stores. I understand that the domestic cat evolved from 2 different species of wild African cats that still exist in the wild. These wild cats look so much like domesticated cats that you might not be able to tell the difference just by looking. But I wouldn’t suggest trying to pet one.

So as you can tell, not much is happening these days in Happy Meadows, generally a good thing. I hope to send out another report soon. We are entering the Hebrew month of Elul, leading up to the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If you are very interested you can look it up yourself and not wait for my report. Anyway, be safe and be well until next time. And don’t forget, Mitakwe oyesin, (we are all related).