Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Goodbye, Old Friend

It has been a week since Snoopy's death, and I have been putting off writing this as it has been just too painful for me to address. However, I wanted to get this article, this tribute done so that I may move on to other stories and articles I have to write. So, that being said, here it is: Goodbye, Old Friend.

"Look for me in heaven." I have made this statement to my wonderful companion, Snoopy, many times over the last few years. Now, it pains me much that I have had to put him to sleep in order to alleviate his suffering. He greeted me daily with exuberant jumping and shouts of joy at my arrival home from work, without fail. My old friend. My little guy. My Snoopy.

He was the runt of the litter, but I chose him. Left in the care of a friends dog and house when he moved out of state, it soon became apparent that Lady, his mother, was pregnant. The experience of birth was an incredible event, as was the pain and love and care that Lady expressed as she bore her puppies.

Two years later, Snoopy caught Parvovirus, an incredibly deadly canine disease that destroys the cells in the intestines. He stayed at Bells Ferry Animal hospital, where he was kept hydrated through an IV, under the care of a very special vet, Dr. Samuel Riveria, now with the Atlanta Zoo. Eventually, after about a week, he began to take a small interest in food, and I brought him home, frail and thin. He slept with me that night on a mattress on the floor downstairs in the basement. I made rice with small pieces of boiled chicken, and fed him one spoonful at a time, 3x a day due to the constriction of his stomach. Slowly, he was brought back to health.

An inside dog, he would follow me around at home, just wanting to be near to me. Ever attentive, ever faithful. We had certain games we would play, like hide and go seek. I would bury myself under the comforter of my bed. Then I would call him. "Snoooopyyy!" He would jump up on the bed and dig me out from under the covers and bark at me. "You found me!" I would exclaim, giving him a big hug. I got a hand puppet from one of my students last year that drove him particularly crazy. He loved chicken hot dogs, pig ears, going for walks, getting belly rubs and of course, gnawing on beef soup bones. He and Mikey, his daughter, would chase each other around the back yard with complete abandon.

About 2 weeks ago, he yelped, then came into the living room hopping on one leg. I knew he had been playing with Mikey in the den, and thought he might have a small injury. He was dragging his hind foot behind him in an odd sort of way. Although the foot dragging ceased, two days later we were at the vets office trying to figure out what was wrong with him. Dr. Allison Wansky, a very kind and caring vet at Allatoona Animal Hospital, did all kinds of tests. She thought it might be a pulled muscle and gave me anti-inflammatories to help Snoopy recover.

Then, 5 days later, I noticed Snoopy's hind end was staggering to either side when he walked. This concerned me, but not as much as the next day when his hind legs stopped working altogether. The poor guy was sort of dragging himself around. Off to the vets again, but this time the diagnosis was not as kind.

"Glenn, you need to get Snoopy to the 24 hour emergency vet immediately," Dr. Wansky told me. "He needs specialized tests that we cannot perform here. Something is going on with his spinal cord." So, off we went to Marietta. He did not truly understand what was going on, other than he did not like going to the vets. I tried to console him in the cab of my truck as we drove down the highway. One vivid image sticks out in my mind: at one point Snoopy turned around to sniff the wind coming through the crack in the passenger window. As I turned to watch him, he appeared to be looking up into the sky, as the sun was setting. It was both a beautiful and foreshadowing scene.

I was told at the emergency clinic that the myelogram, which was a test that allowed doctors to see what was going on with the spinal cord, was very expensive. I told them that Snoopy had been there for me, and now it was my turn to be there for him. At first they thought it was a ruptured disk, which can be moderated with surgery. Regrettably, though, I received the phone call later that evening that the myelogram had been completed and that Snoopy had an inoperable tumor that was compressing his spinal cord, thus cutting off any response from his brain. They told me that Snoopy, although silent, had been in pain as evidenced by his accelerated heartbeat. So I asked them to keep him alive until I came the next day to put him to sleep.

I was kind of upset when they brought him into the waiting room, as he started crying and whining immediately. Due to the morphine, his face was slackjawed and misshapen. His tongue was dry, leathery and curled up into the side of his mouth. I just hated for him to spend his last 24 hours in the hospital, away from those he loved. I spoke to him for a couple of minutes, then told the tech I was ready. A doctor came in and administered the sleeping agent to him and he closed his eyes as I held his head. He stopped breathing almost immediately. I kissed him goodbye and told him to look for me in heaven. I broke down completely after they left the room to prepare Snoopy's body, which they wrapped in a sort of blanket with a plastic covering. As I looked through the window in the hallway, into the gray, rainy Tuesday afternoon, I thought I saw Snoopy for just a split second- he was barking at me with his characteristic bark- then he was gone.

I spent over an hour in the backyard that afternoon, digging Snoopy's grave. It rained and rained, and the rain mingled with the tears that came down my cheeks. Snoopy's death and absence from my life still affect me greatly. The house is not as happy a place as it once was, as Mikey has to spend large amounts of time at home, alone. I worry about her, and would desire to take any pain from her that I know she feels.

I am so very thankful for Snoopy's presence in my life, though. He was a gift from God to bring me company in my loneliness; to teach me the meaning of faithful commitment; and to give me love when I felt, at times, most unlovable.

Good bye, old friend. I shall miss you so much.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Over the years, you've been there for me,
It pains me to say goodbye,
My faithful friend, my loving Snoop,
My precious little guy.

I love you,

Snoopy Houtchens
August, 1995 - January, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hi, Mom! or A Debt of Love

I have had this article on the burner for a while now. I have slept on it and examined it. Sometimes, an idea has to ferment for a while in order for it to become fully matured.

Bill Cosby had a sketch back in '83 about football players that say "Hi, mom!" to the camera. In World War II soldiers who were barely out of high school (if that) kept their morale up by treasuring their letters from home, in an age where instant communication was not possible. Why is it that men in intermission from battle, whilst engaged in actions that exclusively define masculinity, acknowledge their moms?

As we grow from children to adolescents to adults, the age of make believe and pretend and the drama of adolescence is left behind for the responsibilities of adulthood. However, the child although hidden remains within all of us. This is easily seen at family reunions where sibling rivalries recur and old issues, long buried, come back to life.

The nurturing, the care, and the love we receive from our moms as children is instrumental in our development as well rounded individuals. The kissed bruises, the home-made meals, and the attention and affection that we are lavished with are gifts of love, expressed freely, that can only come from a mother. It is a debt of love that the children inside of us never forget.

With the passing of years we no longer require the attention we received as children, and this must pain our moms as we grow out of this stage of development. It does not surprise me though, that when a break in combat occurs, the child within us arises and we acknowledge this love, our appreciation for our wonderful, beautiful moms.

Hi, mom! I love you!

Glenn =)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Have a Dream

I Have a Dream

As the caucuses start the laborious process of birthing the presidential candidates who will represent their respective parties, I had sort of a daydream yesterday morning as I was getting ready for work. ABC was gushing all over Hillary Clinton, who had won an upset of sorts in New Hampshire by gaining more support there than her closest Democratic rival, Barack Obama. As she spoke beaming in her victory as "The Comeback Kid," much as her husband did many years ago, I saw myself placed at a little diner in snow-covered rural New Hampshire.

I was morose and forlorn, playing with a plate of food I had no interest in. Lights appeared from TV cameras shining on the walls and into the diner walked none other than Hillary Clinton. She was shaking hands and gabbing, doing the political thing and asking for votes, which is to be expected. I sat in my heavy jacket at the far corner of a bar counter, thinking, in contrast to the throng that surrounded her clamoring for her attention.

Although I strongly disagree with many of her socialist policies, I had no quarrel with this woman personally. No hatred- no ill will.... Ms. Clinton saw me though, and came across the diner to speak with me. "What's the matter?" she asked me.

Looking up at her I said, "I will answer that on the condition that I may speak for one minute, uninterrupted," I replied, with a sad smile on my face. Someone, perhaps a campaign manager began to object, but Hillary raised one finger and whoever it was quickly cut his words off. Secret Service agents bustled forward and frisked me thoroughly, and of course I was clean. They stayed up front on either side of us not quite between myself and her. The diner grew quiet.

"Mrs. Clinton," I began, looking down at my plate then back up again, "how can you say you care about people? We kill over one million of our own people every year." She began to interrupt me, and I lifted my hand from the counter just a little bit, and in a beseeching gesture said "Please, 45 seconds."

She gave a little nod and I continued. "DNA evidence is acceptable in a court of law to determine parentage, to establish identity, to clear the innocent and condemn the guilty. Is it not enough to protect our most cherished possession, our heritage? Our smallest ones, who have no defense of their own lives, no voice in the matter of their own existence?"

"We ended slavery; we established a right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all except those who need it the most. Will you not reconsider?" The moment seemed to stretch out into slow motion as I looked at her and she looked back at me.

Then time resumed its normal pace and sheer chaos erupted. Ms. Clinton turned away from me without answering and muttered "Get me the hell out of here."

Angry voices shouted as the security detail pushed people out of the way. "How DARE you accost the future president of the United States!" "Who the **** are you? The morality police?" "Mind your own *** ****** business!" From somewhere a frying pan came flying over the counter and nearly hit me, clattering on the floor and adding to the commotion. One enraged woman came up to me and flipped me off in my face. "Go to hell, bastard!"

Mrs. Clinton and her entourage were quickly bustled onto the campaign buses as they tore out of Dodge, so to speak. I was left to deal with the hostile crowd. I had spoiled their chance to have a brush with greatness.

This is where the dream ends. I record it for posterity to attend or ignore, at its own desire.

G. Houtchens
armchair coach
amateur historian

Monday, January 7, 2008

More Sinister Than I Ever Suspected

There was an article I read recently which got my wheels turning. Now, in sifting for data within the UFO community, one must exercise skepticism in ascertaining truth. I have been burned once (the Serpo saga, which has since been proven false by the keen minds at biting the wriggling, baited hook and that has made me much more of a cautious UFO believer. In science, one must learn to discern truth by being objective. (What are the chances hundreds of people in different parts of the world can come up with the same, wild story? But that's another article.) As a Christian, I must use the word of God as my authority regarding spiritual matters. By their fruits you shall know them.

Which brings me to this matter. I had always thought of the small group of individuals who desire to control this secret and the power it entails as inherently evil- note the recent unusual death of the brother of Dennis Kucinich, the only presidential candidate who has anything approaching a pro-truth-UFO platform. (Possibly a warning.) That may still be so. However, here is the question the article asks: what if there is some sort of "hands off" policy that is in effect among the races of aliens that have visited this planet, not in regards to individuals, but regarding our civilization here? What if, once the gig is up (and the truth of their visitation is revealed,) all bets are off? This idea is more sinister that I ever expected. The revelation of extraterrestrial life may eventually result in global extermination/enslavement for the entire human race. Making slaves of humans is relatively easy, if the release of dopamine in the brain is controlled with simple reward/punishment behavior modifications. We see this every day in the segment of our society that is addicted to cocaine, heroin, even cigarettes.

This idea if true casts new light on those who desire to keep this secret secure. I am reminded of the scene in Lord of the Rings where Gandalf returns to Frodo's house, asking feverishly (of the ring) "Is it secret? Is it safe?" Those who are familiar with the story know that knowledge of the existance of the one ring is dangerous indeed!

I do not know the reasons of those who desire to keep extraterrestrial involvement on our planet secret. But I do know this one thing: We are kept and held secure and safe by God, by His grace and by our faith in Him. This transcends death and our fleeting temporary existence here. John 6:37 states: All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Trust Jesus and believe the sacrifice He made for us, for therein is life, our hope and the longing of our very souls.

armchair coach
amateur historian