Life is weird, uncertain, and, more often than not, annoying. We all expect a certain amount of troubles, trials, and travails, but we generally expect to get through them and, we also expect a certain amount of calm after the storm ends. Not a lot, but at least enough time to catch our breath. Sometimes (usually) though, the universe and powers that be have other plans.
Take Tucker for example: Tucker is the name we’ve given to the newest addition to our apparently-endlessly-growing furry family. He’s a little beagle who turned up at our house last week; rail-thin from hunger, with claws so long they’d turned sideways, and with a pretty unbearable stench. He’d clearly been on his own for a while, and was equally clearly not good at it.
Now, both I and my wife, the lovely and compassionate Jess, both immediately realized, and verbally agreed that the last thing we needed was another dog. We’ve already got four dogs, five if you count Ralph the compound dog, and two of them were strays who were dumped. We’ve done our bit for the homeless dog population of Wayne county.
We both stated this emphatically, and with great conviction, and then I opened the gate and let him in, and Jess took him downstairs and gave him a bath and clipped his nails, and I fixed him a bowl of food. What can I say? We’re both soft touches when it comes to sad strays (I’m not complaining, that’s actually how I got Jess to take me in).
We both agreed however, that we weren’t keeping him. I got on the computer to put an ad in the paper, something that the local paper used to do for free. Guess what? Not any more! So, we called the animal shelter to see if anyone had called about a missing beagle.
Finally, we found a guy willing to take Tucker, and after a couple days with us, Tucker went to his new home. At the new home, he wasn’t allowed in the house, and was on a chain, which, apparently, he didn’t care for. This last Saturday, Tucker returned to us, just as smelly as before, but with a serious case of the runs added on.
Since the guy who had taken him never came looking for him, we figured he probably wasn’t all that attached to Tucker anyway, so we’ve sort of adopted Tucker (theoretically temporarily) while we look for a better permanent home for him.
Tucker was thrilled. He’s a timid little guy, and spent most of the first couple of days he was with us crying and panicking anytime Jess or I got up and moved around. Fortunately, Jess and I lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, so he settled in pretty well. He learned the hard way to stay away from Elsie when she’s eating (his nose is healing nicely, by the way), and was actually starting to want to play with Mattie and Dude (who are kind of over-enthusiastic and scared the crap out of Tucker initially).
Yep, Tucker really thought he’d landed on his feet. The storm had passed, and he was safe. He’d found people to take care of him, other kids to play with, plenty of food, and a comfortable, warm home. Life was looking up. It was going to be nothing but kibble and fun forever!
Until yesterday. Yesterday, Tucker got no breakfast, new dad took him for a ride in the truck and left him with new friends. He wasn’t really thrilled about all this, and his trepidation proved to be justified when his new friends stuck him with a needle and he dozed off to wake up with no balls!
Talk about the universe yanking the rug out from under you. Actually it wouldn’t have been so bad if it had only been a rug. Then, to add insult to injury, new dad brought him home, and put this stupid cone on him so he couldn’t even kiss his own boo-boo (although frankly, “boo-boo” doesn’t really suit that sort of soul-crushing injury, does it? It’s not a skinned knee, or even a nipped nose).
He spent most of yesterday afternoon just standing in one place for a while, looking sad. Then, he’d walk around a little bit, until the cone hit something, and he’d just stand there for a while. He spent about 30 minutes with his cone pressed up against my leg.
He seemed to think that the cone was a punishment for something. Think about that. He’s already had his balls cut off – through no fault of his own – and now he has to wear this embarrassing thing. He is one bummed little guy. The final blow came last night. He fell asleep standing up and fell over, which apparently brought an instant, and painful reminder of just how bad his day had been.
He seems to be doing a little better today. His tail is wagging a little bit, but he’s clearly still not digging the cone.
Which brings me back to us (you and me, that is). We’ve all had similar experiences, when things are terrible, everything is going wrong, and there’s just no way things can get any worse. Then, just when we think we see a light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out to be an oncoming train. It’s sometimes even worse, when we think we’ve made it, and turn around to assess the past, to try to glean some meaning from our suffering, so we never even see the train coming.
I got some bad news from a friend of mine today, and I didn’t know what to tell him, other than I was sorry to hear it, and some lame comment about how I’ve found life to be largely just an ongoing source of failures, embarrassments, and humiliations, punctuated sporadically by minor personal triumphs, whiskey, and sex (which actually counts as a personal triumph in my book), and that sometimes the best you can do is to learn to embrace the awkward stupidity that is life (this may be why very few people ever ask me for advice, counsel, or comfort).
I know that usually, in my experience anyway, that feeling that I’ve stuck the landing on something is almost immediately followed by a usually very public faceplant. It just seems inevitable. However, I take comfort in the fact that, just like (no matter how much he fails to understand it, for very understandable reasons)Tucker has the extremely humane and compassionate Jess (and also me) looking out for him, I myself have, not only Jess, but an even more infinitely compassionate owner (not to get all spiritually/religiousy on you, but it’s what I believe)looking out for me.
No matter who you are, life is going to throw a lot of crap at you. Some of it happens for a reason, and some of it’s just bad luck. The trick, I think, is to learn to laugh at it (as much as possible), to be grateful for the good things, and to remember that, no matter how bad it gets, at least you’ve still got your balls (hey, listen, if you haven’t learned by now that you shouldn’t look to me for life-advice or general wisdom/philosophy of any kind, then it’s high time you did).