Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Springboards (New York City)

Who says Labor Day has to represent endings? For one lucky dog and one determined swimmer, Labor Day is springboard for new beginnings.....

As though on cue, the balmy temperatures and high humidity of only a week ago, suddenly vanished in New York City to be replaced by crisp, fall-like temperatures and early setting suns.

Labor Day is of course, the traditional, but unofficial end of summer.

I both, looked forward to the day and dreaded it with equal passion.

I looked forward to Labor Day because it would hopefully signify the end to what has been a long, terrible summer for us in terms of being able to place animals we had languishing either in foster homes or boarding kennel situations.

We had no adoptions at all during the month of July and less than half a dozen during August. We so far, have one dog adoption during September. The adoption of Adidi, a sweet older Shepherd mix last week seems to be a success. -- The people, thankfully are very happy with her.

We were also able to get one of our long time boarders finally into a foster home this past week. "Chiva" is a five-year-old, extremely loving Pitbull rescued from death at the pound more than 7 months ago. But, during all this time we were unable either to find an adoptive or foster home for the smallish Pittie who bonded strongly with the vet techs caring for her and obviously began to think of the animal hospital where she was boarding as her "home."

It was a huge relief to finally get Chiva out of boarding and into a real home. I was beginning to fear that we might never find placement for the dark Pitbull who arrived at the pound last January after her former owner died.

Black and brindle pitbulls are probably the hardest of all dogs to adopt out, no matter how loving or trained they are. Both, the colors and breed-type seems to condemn them.

But, in Chiva's case, the young woman who took her in to foster grew up with a very loved dog who looked just like Chiva and from that standpoint, was drawn to Chiva.

We finally caught a lucky break.

I hope it represents the stirring of luck beginning to change by the slight increase we are starting to see now in adoption inquiries.

Dogs who have failed to generate any adoption calls over the summer are suddenly attracting some interest.

But, whether that "interest" flowers into actual adoptions, we don't know yet. Only time will tell.

But, if I looked forward to Labor Day for the "hope" it represented in finally being able to place and rescue more animals, I dreaded it from the standpoint of the outdoor swimming pools closing yesterday.

I had come to rely so heavily on swimming over the summer as both, a great stress reducer, a means of sheer escapism and most of all, an abiding love in and of itself that loss of it over the remaining three seasons is akin to the loss of great summer romance.

But, fortunately, there are indoor pools in New York City. They are smaller than the outdoor pools and one doesn't have the "romance" of swimming under the stars and moonlight. But, the indoor pools are comprised of water and in the end, that is what counts.

I simply can't give up swimming for ten months. It would be like cutting off both arms.

Indeed, nothing makes the arms and every other part of the body feel so alive, so free and so powerful as zooming through the water, weightless and unencumbered by all the "drags" of everyday life.

Swimming is the closest thing to flying -- with no particular destination.

I must have been a fish in a past life......

And so, yesterday, I returned to John J. Pool on East 77th Street by the East River, mostly for "nostalgic" reasons. John J is the pool where I officially learned to swim almost 30 years ago by watching and imitating lifeguards. It is also the pool where I took my then, very young daughter to familiarize Tara with the water and where she learned to swim from the time she was 5-years-old.

I have wonderful memories associated with John J Pool.

The only reason I switched to Lasker pool two years ago (in the north side of Central Park) for lap swimming is because Lasker (60 meters) is bigger and tends to be less crowded in the evenings than John J.

But, there was nothing "crowded" about John J yesterday.

With the temperature barely making it to 70 degrees and Labor Day marking the end of summer and the city swimming pools, there were less than a dozen people at John J when I got there about 5:30 PM.

For the next hour or so, it was pure heaven swimming in the mostly empty, 50 meter pool.

What a beautiful way to "officially" end the summer.

But, only as a springboard, to hopefully a better fall and winter for the animals.

As well as a summer next year of even faster, stronger swimming for I am determined to be smoke free by next year.

Nothing -- and I mean, NOTHING has motivated me to quit smoking in 40 years.

Not bans, public condemnations, horrifying "public service" commercials, the surgeon general, the mayor, or even the death of my Mother 12 years ago to smoking-related emphysema.

But, I have noticed that over the past couple of weeks, as I cut smoking to half a pack a day, I am a much better and faster swimmer in the pool!

And that is having an impact.

Labor Day might have signified the closing of the city's outdoor pools, the unofficial end of summer and for most people, the end of the "swimming season."

But, for me, it was only the beginning...... PCA


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