Homage to Rosie and Cinnamon

One of the events that most moved me over the past year was the tragic and joyful life and death of Rosie the Chihuahua. Rosie was the victim of a backyard breeder/hoarder who made money selling puppies, including from fashionable “designer” breeds. In their quest to create “teacups,” “merles,” and other designer dogs, many such breeders wind up with deformed and chronically ill dogs in their litters, and Rose was one of those. Along with her shockingly deformed muzzle, she also suffered from mange-induced fur loss, immune suppression, scoliosis, and fused leg bones. (Some of these conditions were from lack of care rather than genetics.) Looking at her picture, you can't even recognize her as a chihuahua. Rosie grew up in a crowded, chaotic house with more than 40 dogs, where, despite her serious health problems, she never once saw a veterinarian. Who knows what successes of intelligence, insight, perseverance, resourcefulness, and plain old toughness she had to accrue just to survive? Eventually, Rosie … [Read more...]

Live From Kalamazoo: A New Shot at Love

A little over a year ago, I was invited to write a letter to a newborn baby, Toby. In it, I wrote about the benefits of being generous, and in particular generous in love: “I’ve also given away lots of love. Often that love was returned, but sometimes it wasn’t, which was painful. But as Billy Joel sings in The Longest Time, 'I have been a fool for lesser things.' I believe it is always worth taking a chance for love.”* I remember hesitating after writing that: would I come across as pathetic or needy? Was the Billy Joel reference too common? (Maybe I should have quoted someone more "intellectually impressive"?) But I went with it, and was glad I did. Honesty and boldness are their own rewards, since they help you overcome shame and feel more secure in your own skin. And I did get a couple of emails from people who said my email inspired them to take some risks in love. Here's the incredible thing, though... Not two weeks after writing that letter, in the kind of coincidence you would scorn if you saw … [Read more...]