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Author: Piper

The Adventures of Lobo – Part 1

The Adventures of Lobo – Part 1

I apologize in advance, as this will be rather lengthy. Future Adventure of Lobo posts should not be nearly this long, I promise!
Also, the first half of this may be hard for some people to read so: TRIGGER WARNING!

 

For you to fully understand the importance of Lobo being in my life, I need to backtrack a bit. The reason The Adventures of Lobo are posted in the “mental health” category is because I suffer from PTSD, and while that itself is simple to type, the cause is not. At age 15 I acquired an adult male stalker that hunted me for over a year, even breaking into my bedroom a few times and yes, sexually assaulting on occasion. I had my virginity stolen from me. He found it amusing, mocked, bragged, while at the same time kept claiming he was in love with me. I still have no idea how he learned so many things about me, such as my favorite flower. I was too humiliated to tell anyone about it, and he was only (kinda) stopped when he ambushed me on the way home from school one day. A classmate who saw it ran off and got my mother, who called the police. The trouble didn’t completely stop there, however. The police accused me of knowing him and just getting caught meeting up with him. Further humiliation ensued as I was singled out at my middle school for having to be walked home by the principal the rest of the school year. It didn’t stop him completely, just changed his tactics a bit, thus during my freshman year of highschool he persisted in calling my home and sneaking things into my room through my window (I had already stopped sleeping in my own room at this point). He only gave up completely after I finally stopped staying at my own house.

I didn’t realize the extent of the damage this entire thing had caused. I developed severe social anxiety and was diagnosed as bipolar, but since I was still too embarrassed to tell anyone about the whole ordeal most of my extreme personality changes were attributed to me hitting those rebellious teenage years. Extreme insomnia, night terrors, sleep paralysis, hyper-vigilance, refusal to use bathrooms with windows, fear of windows being uncovered at night, hatred of my own body to the point of shaving off my hair and wearing mostly mens clothes, self-mutilation… these were seen as “quirks” or treated as negative attention seeking. I eventually dropped out of high school, at the urging of the school therapist who claimed I was not only “too smart and just spinning my wheels” but that the social anxiety of being at school was holding me back.

I’m not going to type out my life story, since this is about my dog, but fast forward to 2012 where I was sent for an extensive psych evaluation because I was trying to brave going to college and their counselors, plus my doctor, suspected I had adult ADD. Many hours of weird tests later they sit me down and say that it’s PTSD, which can cause many of the same behaviors/symptoms as adult ADD. Suddenly everything made sense to me, and proper treatment started immediately. I made fairly decent progress too, including becoming rather confident in my own skin, until an incident in 2016 brought with it a complete relapse. (Short version is a stalker from my college.) It was just like I was 16 all over again, complete with shaved head and self-mutilation. I think this may be the most I have ever shared about my trauma, actually. It probably helps that I am typing, as verbally I’ve only been able to choke out vague bits. I apologize for the wall of text but I think it is important for you to know these symptoms and where they came from.

 

It's Irises.
A nice royalty free picture to compensate. Now EVERYONE knows my favorite flower!

 

Ok, ok…  so what does all that have to do with Lobo? Well, the therapist I’ve had the past two years or so had often told me I’d benefit greatly from a PTSD service dog. Unfortunately, my insurance definitely does not cover service dogs and the only programs I could find to make PTSD dogs more affordable were specifically for military veterans. After lots of research, I found the only affordable option would be to buy or adopt my own pup and have it trained to do the specific tasks (as opposed to paying over $10,000 for a specifically bred + pre-trained dog) or, even cheaper, train it myself. There are huge downsides to this route, however.  First problem is, if I buy or adopt a dog over 3 months old I have missed the most crucial time for its “socialization” training. This is the ideal time to teach the pups to ignore other people and animals, which is necessary when on the job – especially in public. I also wouldn’t know if the dog is even going to take to the training until after trying for a while, so I could be investing time and money into something that simply isn’t going to work. Still, I had found many cases where older dogs, some with supposed “behavior problems”, were taken from shelters and got jobs as service dogs – thus I held out hope and kept doing bits of research. Finally I had decided: I wanted to adopt (not buy) a young dog and attempt to get it properly service dog certified. If things don’t work out, I’d still have a therapy dog after all.

My then fiance, however, gave me a reality check. I live in an apartment and own a cat. Not only does this place only allow for EITHER one cat or one dog, but the dogs have weight limits. Even if I bypass these restrictions because the dog could be deemed medically necessary, is it really okay to keep the size dog I want/need in an apartment? Thus, in 2017 my primary goal shifted to moving into a house first. After all, this “neighborhood” is scary and the landlord abusive. Sadly, 2017 ended up being hell financially and every time we came close to moving into a house something would happen to rip it out from under us. My amazing friends, both in person and online, helped me make it through the year and I also managed to lawyer up against the landlord. I even had 2 jobs set to start in 2018, so there was still some hope ahead… which was quickly stripped away. One of the jobs ended up pretty much being a con and the other ended July 2018 when I had to have surgery on my right hand. It’s safe to say 2018 plunged me into the worst depression I’ve had in years…

…until I noticed an animal shelter had opened in my town and was looking for volunteers…

A MOTHERFUCKING JOJO REFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!

 

Just kidding, I’m not done with this post yet. Anyway, I decided to sign up as a volunteer. It would get me out of the house, give me satisfying work plus that sweet sweet dog fix. My then fiance warned me that I would come home with a dog but I didn’t listen…WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN!? Spoiler: I’m glad I didn’t listen. Although the image link below will somewhat expose the general area I live in, I feel this lil shelter deserves all the love and support it can get so go check it out!

 

Click this sucker!

 

My first visit to Pawsitive Warriors was to fill out volunteer paperwork and get a tour of the place. I was happy to see someone I recognized running the place that day, as it relieved some of that social anxiety I was fighting. We chatted dogs, training, and service dogs. I mentioned German Shepherds were the most recommended for PTSD service dogs but that I wish I could have a service wolf. “Maybe I’ll find a mix” – I joked. Suddenly everyone said I needed to meet Timber, and was whisked away. Timber was fairly new, and not quite ready for adoption yet. A very big beautiful boy that looked at me like he was lost in thought. Then, he stood on his back legs and slobbered all over my hair. We became fast friends. There was suspicion that he was at least some part wolf, he was definitely mixed with something. (Since adopting him, I’ve had many random folk ask what percentage wolf he is, so I guess we’re right.) It seemed Timber was exactly what I wanted in a service dog, but I was not looking for one yet. Still, I admit he got more of my affection than the others when I was there to volunteer.

 

Lobo and his favorite toy, ready for bed time.
My handsome doggo impatiently waiting for me to finish streaming.

 

I mean…can you blame me? Then I heard his story, and began to actually consider adopting him. His owner had abandoned him and her own kids. He had been living in a car after that, eating junk food. If he’s been living in a car, my apartment would surely be a huge step up! So I decided to give him a home trial to see if he would be a fit. I had a great deal of trouble at first. He wasn’t leash trained and twice dragged me along on the ground. He also wasn’t used to cats, and was obsessed with them for a while. At the same time, though, he was naturally doing things that PTSD dogs are trained to do and had a huge willingness to learn. After much deliberation I finally decided – I was adopting Timber. It was very expensive, and threw my home and finances into chaos for a good while… but absolutely worth it.

 

I'm making that face because it's the only pic Lobo let me be in LOL
Taking him home after officially deciding to adopt!

 

At this point you may be wondering why I’m calling him Timber when the name of the post is “Adventures of Lobo”. When I adopted him, he was about one and a half years old. The owner that had abandoned him was the one that named him Timber, and at first I didn’t plan to change that since he was already that old. When I brought him home for the trial period, however, I noticed it almost seemed like he didn’t like hearing his name. A bit of internet research later and I learned that despite his age a name change might actually be good for him. It would help him adjust to the fact that he has a new family, and thus new rules as well. Picking his new name proved somewhat difficult, but I had gotten it down to two choices. My son liked “Koga” and my then fiance liked “Lobo”. I really loved both names, felt they each were a good fit, but didn’t think they went well together. I needed to pick one, so I turned to Twitter for help. Using a Twitter poll, it seemed everyone else was also evenly torn between the two, but Lobo won by just a hair and to my surprise he took to the name very quickly.

 

Lobo was jealous of the cat in my lap.
Always by my side.

 

In the six months he’s been here, my overall quality of life has vastly improved. I get out more due to walking him, and sleep much better because not only do I feel safe, but he will put his weight on me if I’m having trouble. I suppose I can scratch weighted blanket off my wish list, yeah?

 

Yep, he sleeps there.
He will fight you for that sleeping spot.

 

Words cannot properly express my gratitude for this furbaby. It’s like we were meant to find each other… I mean, his absolute favorite toy is a “werewolf” dog toy I picked up on a whim from a Halloween clearance rack! How perfect is that!? He’s currently in my medical file as an ESA and while we’ve made huge progress with basic obedience training over these six months, I think I’ll need professional help if I am going to attempt service dog training. As of this month, he’ll be two years old. I don’t know the exact date, so I picked February 14th as his birthday, because duh.

In part two I plan to catch everyone up on the actual adventures he’s had so far, which will set the tone for future “Adventures of Lobo” posts. I’ll share pictures, firsts, training progress and more!

In the meantime, if you’d like to send Lobo a birthday gift (or some supplies) I am considering giving them to him on a stream (if there’s enough interest)! Check out the wish list here!

For real this time…
Empathy For Thanos

Empathy For Thanos

SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ UNTIL AFTER WATCHING AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

 

At first, I considered writing a review of the movie Avengers: Infinity War. If you really want to know, I liked it. My plan was to break it down and do some comparing to the Infinity War or Infinity Gauntlet comic runs, but turns out I will soon be talking about that on Graded 0.5 – a comic podcast I am shamelessly plugging my induction as a co-host on right now. Anyway, I happened to notice a media trend concerning the role of Thanos in the movie. Many articles and comments have been popping up claiming that having any empathy for Thanos’ character was equivalent to being a “villain” of sorts yourself. I, however, firmly disagree and thus this post was born.

Ah, Thanos – one of the universes biggest emo kids endowed with Godlike power and knowledge of sciences far beyond humanitys reach. On the surface he appears to be a warmonger obsessed with power and control, but follow his storylines in depth and it becomes clear he’s terrified of death and the idea of being completely alone. I was very interested in how Disney planned to develop him in the movies…turns out they went with…both depictions?

found on google image search
Seemed more cheeky before, yeah?

With each movie he was referenced in, it appeared that Thanos became a bit less…Thanos -like. It seemed like they were including his cybernetic enhancements but by the time he appeared in the movie they have been building up to, those details were missing. Still, the stripped down pink Thanos proved just as powerful and ruthless as we had come to expect, despite appearing less menacing.

Alright, so, that whole empathy thing! I’m sticking to movie Thanos and not bringing in comic knowledge for this because most of the folk making the strange empathy comments are only familiar with the movie, if at all. In the movie, Thanos makes his reasoning very clear to anyone he can get to listen. To put simply: his planet and every living thing on it died due to overpopulation draining it of all resources, and being the sole survivor he feels it is his duty to ensure the same thing does not happen to all the other planets. If you thought anything along the lines of “Well, I get WHY he would feel that way but…” guess what? You empathize with Thanos. I could also argue that you empathize with Thanos if you got a case of the feels when he sacrificed Gamora, however there are many reasons to get the feels here. Yes, you may be empathizing with Thanos who feels he just had to sacrifice the one thing he loved for the greater good. Maybe you hate him for that, though. Maybe you empathize with Gamora here, who just found out the hard way that she actually was loved. There is a good bet you empathize with Star Lord, who was powerless to stop his romantic interest from dying. My point being…

found on Merriam Webster website
According to Merriam Webster

Empathy is the ability to mentally put yourself in someone elses shoes. Empathy is the reason that mere fiction can make you react emotionally, despite not having an actual effect on your life. In the movie, when you are upset at things Thanos did it is because you empathize with the characters negatively affected by his actions. Let me tell you why I have empathy for Thanos, and you can decide if that makes me a villain myself.

First of all, the guy is the last of his species. That in itself is a very lonely existence but he tried to stop it from happening! Can you not imagine trying to warn your entire race that you are facing a possibly avoidable extinction and have absolutely no one listen to you? Granted, telling them they needed to murder half the population met with expected results but maybe if they heeded the warnings they could have figured out something? Putting myself in his boots, that was probably the most powerless Thanos had ever felt in his life. There is no wonder in my mind as to why he would become so obsessed with power afterwards. While the hunt for the infinity stones was gruesome, even his reasoning for wanting them was rather noble. He had already long began his quest to “save” the universe, but his methods where crude. Sending in soldiers to conquer and then divide up the inhabitants of planets for execution is not a good look if you are claiming to be a hero. The infinity gauntlet provided a much more efficient and vastly more “humane” way of doing things. I can understand that line of thinking, just like I can understand preferring to put a beloved pet to sleep rather than have them suffer to the end.

found on google image search
Aw Thanos has a sad…I think?

I empathize with his desire to save the universe. I understand why he thinks what he is doing needs to be done. Even he knows killing is wrong, and feels he is playing the bad guy for the greater good of all (which paints a very different picture than the one I got from the grinning, glowing eyed Thanos seen in prior movies). Some people were comparing Thanos and his reasoning to Hitler and the holocaust. I get it, I suppose. They both killed a lot of people, claiming righteous reasons. The problem with the comparison is Hitler targeted a specific group of people and imprisoned, tortured, demonized them. He used propaganda to rally people to his cause and intended to rule over them. While he does think himself superior to all other beings, he does not share enough parallels to Hitler.

Thanos is essentially “culling the herd” on a massive scale. Why is it that we humans can justify doing the same to animals that we deem lesser beings than ourselves but when Thanos has the same idea, he is evil? I’m not backing him, of course. Ultimately I think he is in the wrong specifically for making the choice on his own. He sees all life as inferior to him, and thus thinks he has the right to cull the herds. We, and Thanos, both justify the killing by saying it is to protect the environment/resources. If we let the numbers get out of control, all the plant life will be eaten and then all the animals will slowly starve to death. Are humans evil for combating this with hunting seasons? I mean, we are the entire reason the animal herds need culled in the first place by eliminating natural predators. Thanos did not create the problem he is trying to “fix’ so…

found on google image search
Plus, he ain’t doing THIS shit to the corpses!

There are two types of villains I like in my fiction. The first kind are ones that have compelling reasons for their actions, truly believing themselves the hero – tragic backstories a bonus. These types force us to question our own morals and humanity. The other is the kind that are just plain scary and evil. They know they are sick and twisted and they love it – tragic backstories still a bonus. The key is, they lack any empathy at all! The inability to emphasize, be it with an enemy or friend, is what actually makes an “evil” villain. Thanos is the former, obviously. In the movie he still feels empathy himself and it hurts him to have to push the feelings down. He forced me to compare humans culling animals to him culling humans and all the other races. He forced me to admit to myself that using the gauntlet to do it is actually a compassionate gesture. I put myself in Thanos’ place, and realize that he makes sense from his standpoint. Again, he is the villain to me because he is making the choice against the will of those affected. Let the people figure out their own overpopulation problems! I have to admit, however, that humans are no better than Thanos. We play with the lives of all other animals because we view ourselves as more advanced creatures.

What do you think? Did you empathize with Thanos at all? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

Also don’t forget to check out Graded 0.5 where I will soon be discussing Infinity Gauntlet with the pals!