Tag Archives: Cleveland Ohio Dog Rescue

Jack in the Park

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“A man once told me that his dog was half pit bull and half poodle. He claimed that it wasn’t much good as a guard dog, but it was a vicious gossip.”  Stanley Coren

Jack and I were on our way to the park for a five-mile walk when the next thing I knew a kid hopped off the bus, just a few feet away from me, and started creeping on me. I stopped. I turned around. He stopped. Jack stopped and turned around.

“Don’t come up on a woman like that,” I said. “We have enough to worry about.”

Jack looked the kid up and down. The kid was tall for his age, but Jack can jump five feet up in the air from a standstill. He has great jumping skills. We had to train him not to jump up at our friends who were visiting, who he was excited to see again. He’s a blue nose pit. He is an American Pit Bull Terrier whose nose pit is colored blue. We rescued Jackie. He is the friendliest dog of all time, except when he isn’t.

The kid was still right behind me.

“Dude, you are kind of creeping me out.”

Jackie stepped forward. “What is this guy doing?” I could see it in his face. I don’t think the kid could see it. I don’t think the kid knew what he was dealing with, if it came to that, and he had to deal with it.

Blue Nose Pits back in the day were bred to fight blood sports. One of the   sports was tossing a dog into an arena with a bull. The dog would bite and try to hold on to the bull, fighting to bring it down. The breeders bred the dogs to be ripped and hard as nails. They had a powerful jaw for biting into things. The kid was no bull, for sure. he was scrawny. He wouldn’t have a chance if Jackie got on him.

We trained Jackie to not be vicious, but sometimes there will be blood, when it comes right down to it. You can’t train all the old-school fight out of a pit bull.

Blue Nose Pit Bulls are not a separate breed. They are rare and rare for a reason. The blue color is recessive, which means it takes two dogs with the same gene to make another.

Jefferson Park is just down the street, past the firehouse, from where we live in West Park. It’s a city park, near George’s Diner. During the summer there is a concert series, the Jefferson Rocks West Park. People bring blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy music from local bands. There are some basketball courts and baseball diamonds.

There is a railroad track that runs by the park. There are holes in the fence and kids are always hanging around on the tracks. Bums sleep on the rail bed. There have lately been some Mexican men hanging around, doing I don’t know what.

Jackie is a very active dog. He needs a lot of playtime and exercise. That’s why I take him to the park for a walk. When I can’t, I let him run around the backyard. He never gets bored doing that. He never gets bored doing anything. I like taking his leash off in the park so he can enjoy the outdoors the way dogs like to enjoy it.

When I go walking in the park, I definitely bring one of our dogs with me. Who’s going to bother me, if it’s Baby, who is nearly 200 pounds, or Jackie, who can jump a fence in the blink of an eye? If it’s Jackie, it would be best to not even think of messing with me or him.

Sometimes I have Jackie on a leash and other times I have him off the leash. One time I had him off the leash, and we were coming up to a guy on the sidewalk, who said, I’m freaking out, I’m scared about your dog.

“I sorry,” I said. “I’ll get him on the leash. Just so you know, he’s friendly.”

I don’t usually tell anybody that, because I don’t want most people to think I have a friendly pit bull. I don’t want them to think that, if they tried to do something to harm me, he would be friendly about it. He wouldn’t be, no way.

Jackie is a sweetheart, though, who will break your heart. Now that he’s grown up, he doesn’t fit into the baby clothes I had gotten him, which bums me out. I loved seeing him in his jammies. I have to find him a new set. The last time we were in Mexico I brought a gift back for him, but he wasn’t cool with it, and I was heartbroken. It was a pale blue zipper hoodie. It had big purple polka dots on it. It was a perfect jacket for him, but I could not get it on him. Whenever I tried, he wrestled away from me.

I told the kid, before he could start anything that Jackie would finish, you need to not creep up on me like that, or pass me, one or the other. Don’t breathe down my neck when I’m walking.

God gave women intuition. They always talk about women’s intuition, about getting a weird feeling about something, a gut feeling that something is about to happen.

“A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition,” said G. K. Chesterton. 

I don’t like to be touched, either, when I’m out. If you’re on an elevator with me, don’t touch me. It’s just a weird thing. I don’t know what happened in the park, but luckily the kid finally turned away. Maybe he finally got a feeling about Jackie, a feeling that wasn’t a good feeling. He got smart and went his own way.

I called Jackie to me and we went into the heart of the park, where he ran his legs off to his pit bull heart’s content. It’s just a feeling with him.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

House of Correction

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“I remember making my own dog food and feelling very fulfilled by it, then by day four I was over it.”  Chrissy Teigen

When I was reading Jimmy’s letter and got to the part where he wrote that God had spoken to him, my first thought was, please, don’t do the God part thing on me, not just yet. But, knowing Jimmy, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. It seems that God had answered a prayer of his, and Jimmy noticed, and now he was all in with God.

He was downtown in the Correction Center, in the county jail, for stealing all the lawnmower equipment from the landscaper he had gone to work for. Video cameras caught his every move, and the Cleveland Police caught him. They made out a warrant for him. They dragged him downtown, up the river, to the clink.

The problem he had in jail was that he had become a little squirt. He used to be a big man, but he had been smoking crack for a year, so he had no weight on him anymore. He had stopped working out, so he had no more muscle on him, either.

He had been big guy, but now he was a little twerp. A little tiny twerp in a jail on a floor with forty other guys all bigger than him, pushing him around, and taking his food. The county jail doesn’t give the prisoners an over-abundance of food to begin with, and if it’s being taken away from you, that is not a good thing, not at all. He started praying to God that he needed some more food, any food.

“I need some help,” he prayed. “If you still hear me, help me. If you help me, I promise to turn my life around.”

He got moved to a new cell, a cell all to himself. An inmate approached him, said he could help, and gave him some food, and some extra food, too. Jimmy wrote that it was God’s hand at work.

I wrote him back, nine pages worth of letter writing. The first four pages were all about, fucking asshole, dumb piece of shit, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’re 52 years old! Grow the fuck up! Then I listed all the ways he had screwed me over, lived with us, took our money, and treated me like dirt.

Then I said, now that I’m done yelling at you, since I am a child of God, whatever help you need, I’ll give it to you.

I got a phone call from JJ, who is one of Jimmy’s sons, and he said his father had been trying to call me. But it was from a 0000 number, the kind of number I never pick up. Finally, I picked it up, when I knew where it was coming from.

“Julie?”

“Hi Jimmy.”

They have phones, but they’re not allowed to have phones. They have to have pre-paid cards to use the official phone number from the lockup. He talked and ranted all about life on the inside, even though it wasn’t even close to being a penitentiary.

You don’t get much time to talk, though, maybe about five minutes. When there was a minute left, we started saying our goodbyes. The phone went dead in the middle of a sentence. There wasn’t even a dial tone left behind. Just dead.

He called again the next week. We only had five minutes, so he got right to the point.

“Is Brian with you, is he there?” he asked.

He must have read my letter. I had written, all the stuff we did for you, all we do for you, I do because Brian says I can.  He lets me help you. In return you have been nothing but disrespectful to him. Show him some goddamn respect!

“Is Brian there?”

“He is going to be.”

“I need to apologize to him and to you,” he said.

“You can start with me.”

Another thing I wrote him was that I was going to get him a Bible. Many a man has found God in the slammer. I wrote, I am so glad you talked to God, that is great. Fucking fantastic! But I want to remind you about the argument you and I got into about the seven deadly sins. You said you were right about them, and that maybe I should read my Bible, read up on them.

Are you kidding me?

What book and what passage and what verse are the seven deadly sins in? Can you point that out to me? If you can’t, is that because you have gone the Roman Catholic way?

I knew he was hiding something, and I thought it was the Catholic religion bullshit. Their religion is totally man-made. Period! They don’t even call themselves Christians.

The God I believe in isn’t short on cash. That’s a direct quote from U2’s song, from Bono. Where in the Bible does it say you need incense and stained glass? If you’re a church, you preach the Bible. That’s the whole point. You read it and read it until you love it.

The Catholic Church has been around a long time. Roman Catholics believe they are headed by the Pope, who they think is the mediator between them and God. Finally, the Protestants protested, saying the mediator between man and God was and is Jesus. That’s what the Bible says. Catholics believe crazy things, like the seven sins, that are taught by people who aren’t God. Protestants believe in the teachings of God as they’re taught in the Bible.

I believe the Bible is 100% God-made. There’s no interpretation. Who needs a Pope? If you don’t believe one part of the Bible, then you might as well not believe any part of it. Don’t bother believing something you don’t believe in.

That’s what I believe.

That’s my whole strength. Now that Jimmy has found God, and knowing how much he likes to argue, and get his way, he and I were going to have thrash it out. Although if you’re in jail you thrash on your own time. If you are in jail, you have plenty of time, doing time, so Jimmy was going to have plenty of time to get it right.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Gone Forgotten Unremembered

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“A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered.”  Lacie Petitto

It is a person’s rapidly shrinking brain is how a doctor described it to me.

“When people say, ‘You have Alzheimer’s,’ you have no idea what Alzheimer’s is. You know it’s not good. You know there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the only way you can go. But you really don’t know anything about it. And you don’t know what to expect,” said Nancy Reagan

It is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility.

“What really scares me is Alzheimer’s or premature senility, losing that ability to read and enjoy and to write. And you do it, and some days maybe aren’t so good, and then some days, you really catch a wave, and it’s as good as it ever was,” said Stephen King.

It is a brain slowly dying, the person changing physically and eventually forgetting who their loved ones are.

“Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away? That’s what Alzheimer’s is like. The waves erase the marks we leave behind, all the sandcastles. Some days are better than others,” said Pat Summitt.

It is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for more than half of dementia cases.

“The thing about Alzheimer’s is that it’s sort of like all these little, small deaths along the way, before they actually physically die,” said Lucinda Williams.  

People can eventually become bedridden, unable to move, and unable to eat or drink.

“Suffering is always hard to quantify especially when the pain is caused by as cruel a disease as Alzheimer’s. Most illnesses attack the body; Alzheimer’s destroys the mind and, in the process, annihilates the very self,” said Jeffrey Kluger.

Alzheimer’s isn’t a normal part of aging. Even so, the greatest risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But it’s not just a disease of old age. More than 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“People do not realize that Alzheimer’s is not old age. It is a progressive and fatal disease and staggering amounts of people develop Alzheimer’s every day,” said Melina Kanakaredes.

It worsens over time. It’s a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over the years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, people lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.

“I think the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s are the hardest. Particularly because the person knows that they are losing awareness. They’re aware that they’re losing awareness, and you see them struggling,” said Patti Davis.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. On average, a person with the disease lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as twenty years.

“Alzheimer’s it is a barren disease, as empty and lifeless as a desert. It is a thief of hearts and souls and memories,” said Nicholas Sparks.

It has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with malady and their caregivers.

“It’s a horrible thing. Some people are naive about it. They think, ‘Oh it’s just your memory,’ but my mother was in terrible pain. Your body closes down. She didn’t know if she’d eaten or if she wanted to eat. She couldn’t remember how to walk. Towards the end, she didn’t know us. It came gradually, then it got worse,” said Bonnie Tyler.

There is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

“Alzheimer’s is literally killing us, and the only way to fight this ‘crime’ is through a groundswell of people who continue to raise their voices and funds to ensure it gets the attention it deserves,” said Terri Gerritson.

There will be people who will pass by talk about dementia or Alzheimer’s because it hasn’t touched them. They may not know what it’s like to have a loved one who has fought a battle against it.

“I loved my husband very much, and it was heartbreaking to have him develop Alzheimer’s disease, and to stand by and watch him decline in his ability to take care of himself,” said Sandra Day O’Connor.

It is time to raise awareness of this cruel disease.

“I am committed to helping the Alzheimer’s Society in any way I can. My family and I rely on the help of organizations like the Alzheimer’s Society to help us understand the disease and guide us in the care of my grandmother. It’s been a privilege to meet so many people with dementia,” said Carey Mulligan.

It is a nightmare that has no time limit no odds or a treatment or drug that can slow it down.

“Alzheimer’s is a disease for which there is no effective treatment whatsoever. To be clear, there is no pharmaceutical agent, no magic pill that a doctor can prescribe that will have any significant effect on the progressive downhill course of this disease,” said David Perlmutter.

No percent or odds to beat, just a family member who doesn’t know you, and will never ever remember you again.

“It is a devastating disease. It was painful for me and my family to watch my grandfather deteriorate. We must find a cure for this horrible disease,” said David Hyde Pierce.

I wouldn’t wish dementia or Alzheimer’s on anyone.

“We have all witnessed family, friends, or medical workers who have chosen to provide years of loving care to persons who may suffer from Alzheimer’s or other debilitating illnesses precisely because they are human persons, not for any other reason,” said Neil Gorsuch.

Saddest disease ever!

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Wear and Tear

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“The old saw about old dogs and new tricks only applies to certain people.”  Daniel Pinkwater

All hairdressers at all salons break down, sooner or later. Some hairdressers break down earlier than others, but it’s taken me more than thirty years to break down, for the work to take its toll.

I have bursitis and tendinitis in both shoulders. When you’re working your arms are always up around your shoulders. It hurts. I wake up dreaming that somebody is twisting my arm off. Sometimes I dream they’re twisting both arms off.

I got pain shots, since it started running up my neck, but my doctor was just guessing.

“Am I hitting your bursa?”

“I don’t know.”

“How does that feel?”

“Yow!”

I got shots twice until my doctor said, “I think you need to see a pain specialist.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“OK”

“Did you bring records?” the pain specialist at the Cleveland Clinic asked.

“No.”

“That’s all right, you’ll get your shots anyway.”

He was definitely not the shot Nazi.

But it freaked me out a little. I thought I was just going to pull my shirt down and they were going to put a shot in me. Instead they gave me two gowns, told me to take everything off, and get into the gowns. I had to wear the blue hat.

“I’m just getting s shot in my shoulder, right?”

“Right.”

“So why am I getting naked?”

“Well, you are going into surgery to get the shot,” the nurse said.

I was a little paranoid going in. I had to get an IV stuck into my arm.  They told me I wouldn’t remember anything. But I remembered everything. I sat up and talked the whole time. I remember watching the video screen. I remember him hitting my nerve. I jumped.

“No, no, no,” he said. “Sit still.”

“OK, but I need more juice.”

They gave me more the second time I went, and I definitely don’t remember much about that time.

After he stuck the needle in me, and did the procedure, I thought, are you kidding me? The preparation took much longer than the shot itself.

“You freaked me out for a couple of minutes of shooting?”

I had my right shoulder done first, and my left shoulder done two weeks later. It worked, although I think the second shot worked better. I was more relaxed. There were some side effects, though.

I’m the kind of person, if there are going to be side effects, I’m going to have them. For two weeks after the shots I had horrible side effects. They’re shooting in cortisone. It’s a steroid. Whenever you get steroids injected, you risk getting hungry, getting ‘roid rage. I got hungry and got ‘roid rage. I got heat sensitivity, too.

I was flushed all the time. I was crazy emotional all the time, whenever I wasn’t eating all the time. What the hell is wrong with me, I wondered.

At the same time, I started sleeping in positions I hadn’t slept in for years. I used to always sleep with my arms up over my head, but I hadn’t been able to for a long time because of the pain in my shoulders. I couldn’t sleep on my face because my shoulders hurt. I would wake up wimpering. The pain was so bad, rolling over didn’t help, nothing helped. My arms would go numb. The pinkies on both my hands would go numb. Laying in a beach chair, whenever Brian and I went to Mexico, nothing was comfortable, even though it was the most comfortable place in the world.

For a long time, there were no comfortable spots. Time goes by, you forget about it. After the shots, I’m sleeping with my arms up again. Everything is a comfortable spot.

The pain starts to come back after a month-or-so, but you can’t get a shot every month. You can’t have more than four of them a year. It’s not good for you, even though they’re good for me. Too many shots will deteriorate the muscles around where the steroids are going. The big question is how long will the cortisone stay in the nerve and block the pain?

When the pain comes back, I start having a hard time turning my neck. When I’m driving, and I try looking behind me, ouch! I already am having a hard time turning to the right. Don’t be coming at me that way! I would like to not feel anything from the neck up, I told my pain specialist doctor. That would be wonderful. He just laughed.

Hairdressers always have lower back and hip and foot problems. They’re always on their feet, leaning over their clients, twisting a little one way and the other way.

Everybody laughs at my platform flip flops, but I’ve never had any foot problems. Walking in them is like standing on my rubber mat. When I walk in them, it’s like I have a platform mat for shoes. When I first started, I used to wear high heels. I learned very quickly that was a dumb idea. A woman I worked for, for a few years, who also cut hair, always wore high heels, twelve hours a day. She destroyed her feet. She can never wear high heels again, even though she’s twenty years younger than me.

I don’t have any lower back or hip problems. I don’t have varicose veins. Francie has plantar fasciitis. Mel has bad varicose veins. I don’t have corns or bunions or gross looking feet. I have nice looking feet, not like many hairdressers, at all. The feet on some of them get all gnarled up, pinched, ugly.

Anybody can say anything they want, make fun of my platform flip flops, I can take it. I’ve been wearing them for twenty-seven of my thirty-two years on salon floors, and I‘ve made it this far without breaking down too much. Although, I might fall off of them and break my neck someday.

If only there were platform flip flop things for my shoulders. That would be a new trick.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Crack Corn Popcorn

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“If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.” Roger Caras

When Jimmy broke up with Lynn again it was because he told her that her addiction to pain medicines and her drinking weren’t any different than his smoking crack cocaine. So, he decided he was going to smoke crack on weekends, and that was that. When Jimmy gets it into his mind that that is that, that’s the way it goes. Lynn thought it was all too trashy for her, and they got into a fight.

“I’m never coming back,” he said at the end of the fight, and left. He walked out of the Florida mansion, gave his pick-up truck, which was her truck, back to her, and left with a suitcase, his phone, and his wallet.

“I dropped a truth bomb on her,” he said.

“I’m going to drop a truth bomb on you,” I said. “You’re homeless, you’re living out of your son’s pick-up truck, and you don’t have a job.”

“I’m trying to find work,” he said.

JJ and Alex, his sons, who are both in the Marines, have a house in Colorado. They invited him to visit them, with the intention of doing an intervention on their father. They didn’t say anything about it to him.

He got fucked up on the way, lost his phone, lost his wallet, lost his way, but somehow made it there. When he found out what they were up to, he got his hands on Alex’s pick-up truck, and beat it.

“How dare they pull that shit on me!” he said.

Trying to get Jimmy to do something he doesn’t want to do is like trying to dam up Niagara Falls with toothpicks.

“Oh, Jim,” I said.

“Don’t you take their side.”

He somehow made it to Georgia. He called me. He had gotten another phone, somehow.

“I’m coming up to Cleveland.”

“Why?”

He showed up a week later. He didn’t have any money. He stole his whole way up from the south to here. He would go into Walmarts, steal food and alcohol, go to gas stations, steal snacks, connive gas for his truck.

“I have a Home Depot gift card,” he said. “Can you buy it off me?”

“I guess so.”

“You know it’s stolen, don’t you?” Brian asked me.

“Oh.”

Jimmy steals stuff from big stores, returns it later on for a refund, and gets gift cards.

We met him for breakfast when he got into town.

“I don’t have any gas,” he said, wolfing down ham and eggs and coffee.

“I’ll fill your tank up,” said Brian.

He was hoping we would ask him to stay at our house. I could tell. I brought it up to Brian later at home. But, buying him breakfast and filling up his gas tank was as far as it was going to go.

“He’s not sitting on our sofa, much less staying at our house,” he said.

Jimmy called me again about buying the Home Depot card.

“How much is it?” I asked.

“It’s $186.00, but you can have it for a hundred.”

I knew it was throwing money away. We would never use it. It would just be something to help Jimmy out.

“I have to get out of Cleveland,” he said.

“Who did you piss off?”

“Nobody,” he said.

“Did you steal some drugs?”

“I just need to go,” he said.

“You are such an asshole.”

“All right, but are you going to buy this gift card, or not?”

“OK, I’ll come and get it. I just need to stop at an ATM.”

“No, I’ll come and get you,” he said.

Like an idiot, when he came over, I got into his truck with him. He went flying down Detroit Road and sideswiped a parked car. He didn’t stop. He just kept going.

“Stop the car,” I yelled.

“I’m sorry, Jewel,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Stop the car!”

The whole side of his son’s new, very nice pick-up, on the passenger side, where I was sitting, was bruised and dented and scratched up. There was food scattered everywhere.

I was pissed.

“Do you know you just smashed your kid’s truck? And you drove away. And you almost killed me.”

“I know, but I promise I’ll be good.”

“Did you steal all that food?” I asked.

“A guy’s gotta eat,” he said.

The next day, JJ called.

“Alex is in Cleveland,” he said. “He’s gone up there to get the truck back from our dad.”

“JJ, why didn’t you tell me he was coming? Jimmy was here yesterday, but now he’s gone.”

“We called him and said we were coming.”

“That was a mistake,” I said. “He’s gone to Canton.”

“Why Canton?”

“Because Alex isn’t in Canton, that’s why. He’s hiding from you.”

They finally found him by phone, and Alex went to see him. They met in Canton. But Jimmy parked the truck a couple of blocks away, so Alex wouldn’t see it and take it away from him. They talked, but Alex never got the truck back. He went back to Colorado and Jimmy went back to living in the pick-up.

Jimmy thought I had led Alex to him. He thought I was scheming with them to take the trucj away from him. He called me and called me every name in the book.

“Even though you do what you do to your kids?”

“That’s right,” he said.

“You treat them worse than junk yards treat their dogs. Have you ever even had a dog?”

“No,” he said

“The only way you’ll ever get that truck back is if you report it stolen,” I told JJ when I talked to him afterwards.

“No, I can’t do that,” he said. “My dad would go to jail if I did that.”

“Maybe that’s what he needs,” I said. “Maybe he needs to be in jail for a while.”

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.