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I keep dogs. I keep many more dogs than the average person would ever have in their home. I keep a number of dogs that could easily fill a good sized kennel or boarding facility. I used to work at kennels with staffs of three to four people assigned each shift to what we take care of everyday in our home with our pack. There are three of us and we all work overtime all the time. I keep these dogs happy and healthy and balanced everyday. There is never an end to the work required to upkeep these dogs and their territory both inside and out. I tend to this upkeep in every second of every day without the guarantee of payment for my work or the guarantee of success of the facility that I am devoted to. I keep up with my duties everyday without the promise of a day off – or on some days – even an hour off to collect my thoughts and breathe. There is no advancement in this position beyond what I am able to accomplish with the animals that require my care. They are my charge. They are my responsibility. They are my reason for waking in the morning and the reason that when my head goes down on the pillow at night – I am carried off to sleep so quickly.Sometimes I envision my duties being accomplished by other people. I wonder how long a day the average person would last running behind me. I am a multi-tasker. Writing this blog entry is a stretch every time I attempt it and I hack away at the keyboard furiously as I also get up and down and up and down – tending to the immediacies that wait for no one. My own personal desires are never on the forefront of the agenda. The dogs come first – the animals come first – the property comes first – the paperwork comes first – the planning comes first – the house beckons me in every instant to tend to something that needs my help.Of course it would help a great deal if I did not have such a detailed specific eye. I scrutinize my environment in every moment – analyzing what needs to be cleaned, refreshed, changed, repaired, rotated, removed, renovated. I have the balance of my environment at the forefront of my spectrum at all times. Of course – maybe my attentiveness hurts my physicality when I rush to work instead of sit to rest. However, my due diligence leaves me without ever being surprised by what my environment creates. In order to control your surroundings – they cannot control you. Although I often feel that my environment is moving my feet to walk and hands to toil when perhaps it is not as crucial as I believe it is, I also find peace and confidence in the finished product and this pride emanates to everyone and everything in it. I truly believe that we are a product of our environments and I have a love affair with mine in every moment I am in it. Days I loathe everything about it – as it has become disrupted by the chaos that is life among humans – and days among animals, but I always recover my love when I have repaired it so.I am a homebody. There is truly no place like home. I am a nester. I feel most comfortable in the environment that I have created. At one point in my life – this environment was much smaller and quieter and less busy. At one time in my life I could compare myself to others who take pride in their families and their homes for being much like everyone else’s – ie. status quo. It was a simple pleasure taught to me by my own family growing up and one that I appreciated having. However, since that time, my home has grown into a living breathing entity that demands as much effort and energy as my full time job working with animals once did. It is a difficult balance now – one that rewards me as much as I put into it. I cannot run home to an easier place – a quieter room where I can escape from the momentary grind of caring for so many animals. I am home and the animals are here. The work is here. The upkeep is here. The reward is here. The tragedy is here. The highs and lows are all under the same roof and every moment of life moves the world around us. Nothing is ever the same but everything teaches us of the possibilites that the future could bring. If we keep our heads above water here and allow ourselves to accept what this life brings – we can change the world one animal at a time and do it all from within the walls of our home. We are a family here and what family can survive without a little upkeep?

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