Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stereotypes can be deceiving...

Which of these dogs is 'dangerous'? Hmmm...think again...

If it's one thing I have learned over the last 6 years, it's that you can't listen to stereotypes. You can't take the media reports as gospel. You can't rely on perceived public opinion to formulate your own opinions. I have learned this lesson through one very special dog.

My little brown dog, Athena, is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. As a firm believer in destiny, it didn't take me long to realize that she, quite literally, walked into my life for a reason. Since I was really young, I always had an affinity for dogs and always considered myself a 'dog person'...but after 6 years with Athena, I can confidently say, unless you've come to truly understand the bully breeds, you aren't truly a 'dog person'. Not only has Athena taught me not to trust stereotypes, she's made me an active participant in my community. I have always been involved in animal rescue (and painfully aware of shelter statistics) but owning a bully breed has given me an entirely new sense of civic duty.

While Athena is my 'Angel Terrier' (a term I use when asked what kind of dog she is as it aptly describes her), she unfairly has stigma attached to her. This stigma goes WELL beyond the casual, 'oh those dogs are dangerous' misconceptions which I dutifully debunk on our daily walks. The stigma dictates where I can and can't live, where I can and can't take her, what insurance provider I can have, what type and how much insurance I am required to have, etc. etc. etc.

Because Athena looks the way she does, my rights and decisions I am afforded as a US citizen, let alone a responsible dog owner are severely narrowed. It is for this reason that Athena is accredited with engaging me in local government. I've written numerous letters, attended and spoke at city council meetings, have met amazingly intelligent people of action and have found a new sense of patriotism through grassroots efforts. In a nutshell, Athena has given me a voice and a very important reason to use it.

People are defined by their passions and are driven by 'heart'. All dog people know that every dog in our life teaches us almost every case, dogs teach us things we never knew we were capable of, they redefine us in ways that reach into the depths of our souls. Athena has taught me so much in 6 look beyond the stereotypes, educate myself, form my own opinions, have a voice and use it. This little brown dog has taught me the true meaning of RED, WHITE AND BLUE.

(And. yes, the little white dog - aka "Snapdragon"- is more dangerous. But we love her just the same!)

Want to give dogs a voice in your community? Check out the Canine Legislative Conference 2007!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Swim Dogs Swim!

Today was the Lenexa Dog Swim and Pet Fest...Buster and Louise got to go swimming in the big city pool (in addition to various kiddie pools)! What fun they had and what fun it was to see all kinds of dogs take over a pool!

Needless to say, we have some VERY tired, worn out wet pups who are both sleeping next to me. I think they might be dreaming about next year's dog swim...can't wait!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Orange You A Big Gorilla!

MTB season isn't over until you've stood under a giant orange gorilla!

The Larsen Family has a new yearly photo contest..."Most Random Photo Award". The goal is to take a pic of yourself in the most random situation. This is definitely worthy of an entry!

This is Mark after the Lunatic Fringe MTB race in Smithville, his last of the session...we're just glad there was a giant gorilla to help commemorate!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Have Paws will Travel

Ever the resourceful terrier, Louise the Westie, decides it's time to take the travel arrangements into her own hands...uh, paws. Personally, I think she's irritated that we are going without her so she's actually making her own travel plans. She's crafty that little white dog! I fully expect to board the plane to Italy and see her already sitting on the plane, tiara and all...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Deja Vu

I've always thought my sister looked a lot like my mom, but it didn't strike me how much she truly resembles my mom until I came across this photo last night.

Mark and I were looking through my old family photos (yes, time to share the horrible "this is how I looked as a teen in the 80's pictures"...the horror!) and we came across this photo of me, my mom and my brother. I got this really weird feeling of deja vu the minute I laid eyes on it...probably because essentially the same photo of Michelle, Will and Kate was sitting on my coffee table waiting to be framed.

I immediately grabbed the photo and held them up to each other and was overwhelmed by the likeness (as was Mark). I think you can all agree by looking at these photos that Michelle looks A LOT like my mom - same eyes, same face shape, same smile (okay, M has Dad's nose but still!), same dimples when smiling, similar hair...But when I look at this picture, the similarities go beyond just their physical likeness.

True, they look alike...("as it should be", says Mark)...but I see so much more of my Mom in Michelle now that she is a mother herself. I can see Michelle resembling Mom in the way she rocks Will, in the way she plays with Kate and in the way she adores both with her whole heart.

In looking at the photos side-by-side, I see selflessness. Mom had so much love for us, she was defined by us. Loving us gave her a sense of self that only a mother could know and a child can understand. I can now see the same selflessness in Michelle. And...being one of the kids in the photo, I can understand how loved Kate and Will are going to be. Lucky lucky babies.