Recovering from the Economic Crisis; You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

Alex in the snowThis is where it all started, years before my human and I had to learn the importance of recovering from the past. That’s me, Stormy Weather, with my friend Blue and our Human, the author and illustrator of my books, standing in our first snow storm at our farm in Maryland, back in 2002. Our Human had left the city and a career in international relations and communications to move to the country and start a graduate degree in animal science, one of her passions. Oh, what hopes she had and how happy we all were!

Alex feeds zebra & camels139141_fires_mrc_Then came a sustained event of human aggression the humans call a war, and funds at universities dried up. Our Human had to interrupt her studies and go back to leaving us at the farm for hours a day while she went out to earn “green papers” to buy food for all of us and keep a roof over our heads. She was lucky, getting to work with horses and other animals for several years but then everything got really scary, really fast for the human world.

Alex with the Emir's stallions

Almost 6 monthsIt was the summer of 2008, and many humans began to lose their ability to bring home food, what they call jobs. They lost their shelters and all the green papers they had managed to store away for the winter. In 2007, we had all left the farm in Maryland and moved to California and our Human had managed to hang on but by the end of 2009, she too lost her job. And it happened right as she had started to gain weight in the belly, and she was very tired all the time. The other humans must not have recognized her as one of their own because every time she tried to get another job they would look at her belly and turn her away. Maybe her tail was too short, like mine, and so they couldn’t tell she was wagging it to show she was friendly? That used to happen to me with other dogs all the time!

Our Human was scared. At first she pondered what to do but then she started to give up. She looked even more tired, she seemed to be stuck to the couch somehow, and water fell from her eyes a lot, especially when no other humans were around. She started to seek solitude, like we dogs do when we are sick and weak. She seemed confused and she lost her place in the pack. One day she tried to go into the kitchen but the new dog, Big G, growled at her to let her know she was no longer in charge. He had taken over because somebody had to. Someone had to be the leader.

The Human calls that moment her wake-up call, the time when Big G “was true toIMG_20121116_081926 himself and reminded her to do the same.” You see, Big G had some issues with humans. Then ours picked him to come live with us so she could explain the human world to him, just as she had done with me and other dogs years before. Big G decided he needed to dominate the situation and that made our Human realize that she needed to get back to leading the pack. She picked up one of those boxes they all deliver noises into and made a bunch of those they call words and nothing happened. She made words, and words and words and no one seemed to listen until someone told her to go see a special human called a doctor. She then discovered she had something called perinatal depression.

The doctor was so good at explaining her new world to our Human that she felt like she could now start to get out of it. “Knowledge is power,” she started to say, “and it turns out I’m not crazy, or weak, or useless! I’ve just gone through a lot with losing my job, and a baby, and not being able to find work again because of the crisis and now being pregnant again…” Whatever all those words mean.

The days went by and our Human’s belly got bigger and bigger and she still couldn’t get any humans to give her green papers but she started to become our leader again and she started to go out and find other humans like her. Turns out, we all need a pack to help us out. I guess she liked the smells on her new routes because she got stronger by the day and then, one day in 2010, she and the male human left for a couple of days and came back with a strange creature. It squealed, and it moved kind ‘a funny, and some of us wondered if it was prey or if it needed protecting. Whatever it was, once it was in the house our Human really started to become herself again. That dreaded depression left her and, although she was still unable to find a job, she started to remember the things that really matter in life and she started to see life differently.  Basically, she started to become a dog like us! She focused on what happened when it did and she saw the world in moments, in pictures. There wasn’t a lot of green stuff in the house, but the Humans showed their teeth a lot -which for them is a good sign- and became very productive!

Con Mugsy 6And that brings us to today. The creature that came home in 2010 turned out to be a Small Human and she must be better than the best treat ever because her mere presence leads to all kinds of tricks and excitement! One of those exciting events is the subject of this site and my blog: Stormy Tales! Because the Little Human became a reminder of the importance of love and happiness and our Human started to think about all the dogs she had known that had not had any of that. She started to think about what humans know about us and what we know about them and how much we can learn from each other. She remembered her studies in animal science and how she had always been fascinated by aggression, and communication, and how we can build bridges of understanding between species. And she looked at her Little Human and thought of all the dogs that had ended up in shelters because of miscommunication and she wondered: “what if I could do something about it? What if I could help?”

En casa con la yegua y los perrosWell our Human became that pregnant thing again but this time it was with an idea, a hope that maybe old dogs can learn new tricks and, just as she had already done once in the past, she decided to reinvent herself and give birth to Stormy Tales. Jobs were still not available so she put all her energy into this new pregnancy and started rubbing sticks on paper, something she had learned when she studied what they call art. She furiously copied what was happening in our little farm and rubbed words on paper to explain to little humans how we behave. She joined groups of other paper rubbers like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Illustrator’s Table so she could learn what she needed to know. She eventually found a way to earn some green papers again but slowly and surely, whenever she could, she thought of us and so here we are, with your eyes scanning these words and maybe, hopefully, wanting to see what all this “walking a mile in another one’s paws” is like, as our Human says.

Curious? It’s finally all in our Books, and there will be more where that came from…Wish us luck and… Join us?!



Recovering from the Economic Crisis; You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks! — 2 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the new book! Love love love the story :)
    Can’t wait for my copy!
    – Silvia

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