We all have our personal troubles and battles to face. In a way those experiences make us unique, especially how we deal with and overcome the adversity. Some are more evident than in others. And, some just hide them really well. I’m more of the latter…, at least at the onset. When something is bothering me, I tend to let it fester and I become distant, forcing myself into some sort of solitude to find the solution myself. I do this mostly out of fear I’ll say or do something premature that I don’t mean, especially when others are involved in the conflict. Only when I reach my breaking point do I speak about them, and by then it’s fueled by raw emotion released at once, which can be troublesome and counterproductive if not communicated properly. This may not sound believable to some because I write these blog posts that put me in a vulnerable state openly describing my opinions, passions and failures. All my posts have a personal story attached in hopes the reader can relate and perhaps change if the perspective applies in their life too. When I write, I purposely attempt to leave it all on the table with well-articulated thoughts pulled directly from the heart, because then it’s authentic.
Some would say I am a public official because of the dog advocacy work I’ve done, and the several years spent directing and producing the documentary, “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent,” which examines breed specific legislation. It’s funny, during the time I flew around the country touring the film, I’ve had people ask for my autograph and praise the job done on representing the issue clearly and as unbiased as possible, and how it inspired them to do more themselves. Even though that’s what I’d like my work to do, I actually get embarrassed when given compliments. I’m nobody special. I just had the creative means and passion to do my part. I feel everybody should do their part in exposing injustice of any kind. But there’s unintentional consequences to that. The pressure I’ve placed on myself, seemingly against my own will, weighs me down like a ton of bricks pressed against my chest. We all want acceptance of others we care about – whether that be family, friends, love interests, colleagues or peers. I’m strong-minded and at times stubborn about the important things in my universe, and will fight for what I believe to be right, regardless if I am one of many or all by my lonesome. I don’t conform and kiss the hands of self-proclaimed dog royalty, which creates friction within the community. It’s the feeling like there’s a party everyone has been invited to…, but you.
The main reason I invested so much is the relationship I have with my dogs, because I can see it in their eyes how much they care about me, and it’s something I don’t find in many others who came in my life. They’re all heart, and I find that admirable. Preston and I have a special bond. The question is often posed whether I saved him or he saved me. I love my girls dearly, too…I’ve noticed more recently that both display expressions of concern on their face when they look at me, and that hurts. It’s as if they are attempting to take on and relieve some of the weight on my shoulders. I know some may downplay this and say I’m humanizing them too much, but they just don’t see what I see when I look at them. Era may show her love at times in “violent” ways, but she’s just so enthusiastic with her love she seems to be unable to control her arms as they flail in pure glee when giving kisses. Let me tell you, it’s painfully cute. And Fergie…, well, Fergie’s entire goal is to be my perpetual shadow, remaining as close as possible to me at all times. She will literally leap over, or bulldoze through, the other dogs like a bowling ball of cuddle to get to me. If the goal is to feel wanted, these dogs filled that need.
Artists and other creative minded people are often labeled troubled souls. Nobody truly gets us, which is probably why many of the artists I know often spend large chunks of time alone working on their art. For better or for worse, because of the film I’ve expanded my beliefs of who I feel deserves advocacy for compassion. Prior to, I admit I wasn’t that fond of people and didn’t have much use for them. I’ve always had a connection with animals, and bonded with them best. Besides dogs, I loved dolphins as a child growing up, mostly influenced by watching reruns of the popular TV show, Flipper. As far back as I can remember, I also couldn’t eat meat that was on a bone because it was a reminder with each bite that I was eating an animal, and it made me nauseous. Even in my early childhood, I realized it was wrong, I just didn’t take a stand until a couple decade later in life. Around the time I started the film I gave up eating cow and pig, mostly due to my future intentions of eventually adopting a pet pig. More recently I gave up eating the other animal flesh, turning to a more plant based diet instead. I don’t push those beliefs or get offended if someone eats animals with me present, because I know we have a long way to go before that becomes more acceptable. But I still struggle to come to terms with the amount of suffering we needlessly subject other beings to – human or animal.
The film has also brought me critics, and I can’t say all are ones who disagree with the message of the film. Some are within the dog community, but other personal interests of ours conflict, which caused trouble in working together to solve the issues we do have in common. One example being my stance against captivity, especially as it pertains to marine animals, like dolphins. And the science backs up my belief. It’s amazing to me how we can agree on the science that backs up the reasons why laws designed to target certain dogs is flawed, but yet, other clear and cut science about other issues is completely disregarded. At this point in my life, it just made more sense to preach compassion to all living beings, especially when you know quality of life is in question. When we tell others who they’re allowed to advocate for or who is worthy of their empathy, it allows others the same right to choose who they feel deserve it, and it may not be the same as yours! I came to the conclusion to teach love and respect to all beings, I just don’t see how you can go wrong with that.
This morning I was listening to one of my all time favorite 80’s songs – True Colors, by Cindy Lauper. I replayed the last verse several times to understand it as it applies to my life and where I’m currently at:
“If this world makes you crazy,
You’ve taken all you can bear,
Just call me up,
Because you know I’ll be there.
And I’ll see your true colors shining through,
I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you.
So don’t be afraid, to let them show,
Your true colors,
Are beautiful like a rainbow.”
It’s not easy to admit when you’re in a bad place. I have trouble sleeping, sometimes spontaneously waking up in the middle of the night. As proof, this blog post was started at 4am this morning. Each birthday that passes since my 30th, I confess to thinking about my own mortality, the meaning of it all, and if anything I do really matters in the end. Because of this, I go through periods that affect my health, physically more so than mentally. I have trouble confiding in people because of built up trust issues. This is not to say I’ve never violated trust before, I’m sane enough to know I’m not always the innocent victim in disputes. But lately looking back at each person who was once important to me in some way ending our relationships – friend, colleague or otherwise, because of these conflicting associations or other differences, it unfortunately reinforces my apprehensions to show those “true colors”. I’ve learned that they’re not as beautiful as a rainbow.
Because of my dogs I’ve been able to grow as a human, most of which for the better. Before them and the film I didn’t pay much attention to the suffering of others, or at the very least, I’d block it out like a channel change during an ASPCA commercial. As of late, it became apparent that I spend an exorbitant amount of time trying my best to help and save others – dogs, dolphins, people, etc., all the while recklessly destroying myself in the process. The look on my dogs faces as of late have verified that. Many in the welfare community can relate to the constant overload of supplying compassion to others without much regard to their own needs. It’s made me realize when that time comes that I need help, who’s going to come save me?