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Thank you, Jackie!

A woman commented on an earlier blog post here, and it sounded like she somehow knew Ami, but I couldn’t tell for sure from her comment.  She left a number and I just had a feeling I should call her. So I did.

Her name is Jackie, 73, and she’s the one who originally rescued Amicus from Abbotsford Animal Control so many years ago. She said she fell in love with him and knew he was a very special dog. She said she cried over him so often because he had just given up at the Abbotsford pound, he lay on cold concrete, they overfed him, there was poo and pee everywhere, and she said one day he just wouldn’t get up, he’d totally given up, she said.

She lost sleep over him and did everything in her power to eventually be able to take him in her van (along with about five other dogs she was also rescuing) all the way over to the SPCA on the Island. She said she loved him so much.

Thank you, Jackie, from the very bottom depths of my heart for rescuing A.J., as he then was, and for saving him for me so he could become Amicus Black and I could be his happy forever home. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me and I love him completely.

Without you and your rescue efforts, he’d probably be dead long ago. I can’t begin to thank you enough on his behalf and all the other dogs you’ve rescued. I’m so glad I phoned you and again thank you so much.

Andrea Layne Black

(And Ami says he loves you, too xxxooo!)


Ode on Amicus



Ode on Amicus

Unqualifiedly, unapologetically, sincerely,

I was without;

Then I met him;

His tail wagged behind a cage;

We breathed each other in,

deciding to be forever.

He got into my car and slipped within my soul.

He is beside me when I am lost even to myself,

soothing embers powering my heart, making me grin.

I thought I knew from humans what a friend was,

But not until my dog did I know that friend to a dog means

handing over your heart completely.

He is my staunch sworn ally through every battle

No matter how wrong I am, he is on my side.

My confidant, comrade, protector, student, and teacher

His brown eyes tell me paragraphs in seconds.

We know each other’s thoughts before we think them.

We play together as children unabashedly.

When we are sad we sit silent but “with.”

When all else is dark, when everyone else has left,

my dog is my light, my reason.

Unqualifiedly, unapologetically, sincerely,

He is Amicus and he truly is the best friend I have ever had.


Before Empires, wars, and European colonists stealing land from indigenous peoples and the ensuing enslavement, torture, marginalizing, discriminating, and exploiting, we humans as an evolving species stole land and life from the animals as we ventured further and further in their wilds slaughtering and enslaving by the trillions and this has only increased over the centuries with billions of animals being caged in tortuous situations, being bred as food, and dying in pain and horror, or being made slaves and the rationalizations, justifications, and arguments for this sort of treatment holding sway over pretty much the entire planet to this day.

It is so easy to say humans are better than animals and therefore we can treat them anyway we want, but there’s such a crushing lack of empathy into the feelings of animals with that argument that, again, it’s so easy to also murder and dehumanize each other by that same logic. The easily-dismissed truth of all the species of animals that no longer exist or the ones severely endangered due to the activities of humans, the shocking reason we have organizations like the SPCA; not to mention our further daily encroaching (settling?) into wild habitats where predators are simply shot and nests destroyed, and entire ecosystems terminated, mostly to strip areas of their resources and/or the harvesting of animals. and to build homes and businesses for humans when other areas could be utilized. 

If we really want to change the way we operate we have to go back to the very, very beginning and re-examine our relationship with the most vulnerable on the planet, that being the animals who were here before us.  Humans have had this concept of dominion and superiority over the earth and that all it contains is ours for the taking.  I disagree. 

The earth is sacred and her inhabitants all have their own lives, needs, families, friends, and goals and we need to think about being together and not above.  Even considering animals as property is a slippery slope because property has few rights.  And those with no rights are fodder. 

Empathy means understanding the feelings of others, their love, excitement, playfulness, fear, and pain.  Animals are others, the Great Others.  They’re not little stores filled with things for us to use.  Their homes/lands are not just ours for the taking because we’re more powerful. They should not be victims of our cruelty and greed.  They deserve our respect and protection.  I certainly don’t have all the answers as to how to implement this understanding, but I think it’s an issue that needs to be looked at in a completely different way than has historically been the case. 

I really do believe that life is sacred, all lives, and the living of life, as well.  Animals must be allowed to have their full lives.  I’ve pretty much felt this way since I was about five or six.  I trust that little five-year-old Andrea on a very instinctual level to know what is the good and right thing, especially when it comes to animals because I have always found them to be amazing teachers, friends, and personal heroes.  That’s my blog and I’m sticking to it.

Ravens Chant Sublime

I am just blogging to say that I want to start blogging every day if I can even if I have little to say.  I just want to get into the habit of it, and the training of it.  Otherwise I get too focused on outcome and trying to be perfect which clearly I will never be, nor my houndie hound, but we are very diligent and strong and so I want to just sometimes throw things out there without a huge degree of thought and polishing and all that bother.

So I broke my ankle on January 20th.  Actually, I dislocated, tore, and fractured it and it’s only in the last two weeks or so that I’ve been back walking Amicus and back to the forest.  Being away from the forest was a little like if someone took your heart away for two months and gave you this little paltry spare one for that time.  I didn’t realize how much the forest now defines me and how much I need it.  Walking along a deep green path with the tri-color tans of Ami padding along ahead, watching him sniff and pee and enjoy the adventure and both of us never sure what’s up ahead or around the next massive cedar, there’s just nothing like it.  I started a little poem that I’m working on with this theme, so far all I’m sure of is, “The forest will forgive me, but concrete never can; metal signs say nothing, but ravens chant sublime.”

Other things I did in this broken ankle time was I entered a poetry slam which I’ve never done and I did really well.  I was super nervous beforehand, but the people there were so supportive and warm and the other poets so amazing and visionary.  One guy, Daun Pechawis, I think is like a force of nature, an elemental spirit, I was so impressed with him and how he revealed his heart through such solid writing.  I met a lot of people that night and I really felt like I was part of something, the community.

I also discovered during my broken ankle period that I sure do love hot baths and boy did I miss them.  The first day the cast came off, like 25 minutes later I was sitting in hot water staring at the poor shrunken scaly little leg that now needed love and work.  But boy that hot water soaking into my soul felt good.

It would be about two more months after that before I could get back to the forest.  I did realize however that the forest was always inside me, like that poem I wrote a while back, “When the forest gets inside us, it stays there,” well that’s true.  It’s funny now when I walk on a forest path I barely limp, but coming out onto a sidewalk or a parking lot, I limp again.  That’s partly what I meant about the forest forgiving me.  I also meant that only something alive is capable of forgiving and the forest is alive.

I also went to a drumming singing session at Sliammon which is the First Nation that actually owns all this stolen land around here.  I went there just to acknowledge that I know that; it felt really important to me.  I was nervous and I don’t know how I sounded, but the people I met that night were very welcoming to me, and I am going to go back and sing more.  There was a competition song where the men would sing and then the women would sing back.  It was super fun.  In the last few verses, I let my voice go.  I felt awkward and nervous at first because I hoped I had said the right things and that it made sense.

They were planning a canoe voyage where all different Bands meet up and have a big celebration.  It sounded like such an amazing journey and it made me feel sad because I don’t have that kind of beautiful culture where families go on big adventures and meet up with their strong amazing communities.

And when we were all singing, I wanted to go out into the forest nearby and listen from a few 100 metres away and feel like it was hundreds of years ago, and I was one of the first visitors and I would honour the powerful people I met and if they wanted we would have done things all so differently with strong friendly respectful nations glorying in the land and the magical beauty and the whole next hundreds of years would be different, but I knew I couldn’t do that and that everything is so broken and wrong, and so, again, it was weird, ’cause I felt sad and happy at the same time, sad because of the ways things are, and happy because I was singing with really friendly people and having fun.  It was weird to have all those same feelings at the same time.

And I thought if I were them, these welcoming people I was singing with, that I would hate me and not want me there, and maybe they did feel a little of that inside, and understandably, but the way they made me feel was welcome and special and I just kept thinking, wow, way back when it could have all been so so different and beautiful and magical and it was all done so so wrongly and it is still is.

But I really liked singing those old songs and hearing the drums, and now I know it’s even more true than I thought, when the forest gets inside us, it does stay there, and also that the forest will forgive me, but the concrete never can, metal signs say nothing, but ravens chant sublime.

Don’t know if all that goes together, don’t care.  Well, that’s it for today, this is me just throwing stuff out there.


Happy New Year, I’m back, not that impassioned zealot dog of mine this time who thinks he should get to write this blog just ’cause it’s named after him.  From time to time, buddy, from time to time.

Ami and I went on a long walk today, a bit longer than our normal long walks.  We found a new path off of the end of Nootka Street that cuts down into a logged but still wild bushy area that circles around to connect with the Penticton Street trails web.  It’s a long way, lots of time to think.

Ami, as usual, was padding along ahead of me smelling every shrub, peeing on every seventh rock, and occasionally he would stop dead in his tracks, staring out into the field at a big black stump that he couldn’t figure out, wasn’t sure what it was.  All sorts of doggie imaginations scurrying through his mind until I kept calmly walking saying, “Yeah, it does look sort of creepy, doesn’t it buddy, could be all sorts of things, but it’s just a stump,” and Ami would sort of shrug a furry shoulder, almost nod, and then start walking again quickly gaining point ahead of me to go back to sniffing and peeing.

My mind began to wander and suddenly I found myself listing all the many things I struggle with, every single one of my challenges, naming them off in my head, then moving on to the next.  You know the sort of thing, insecurity, fear, needing approval from others, ego, shyness, anger, negativity, reactivity, and so on and so on.  Then I decided to list all the good things about myself like being funny, smart, and liking animals and all the things I’ve accomplished in the last three years.  Then I tried to put the challenges together with the good stuff and make it fit like scissoring jigsaw pieces so you can force them into place.  Some of it connected, some of it didn’t.

 Ami stopped again this time staring at a frozen black pond.  He seemed both scared and curious.  He started to head to the pond, but when he put his first toe near the ice, I called him back just in case something horrible happened.  He shook his head, had a quick defiant pee, and we continued on our way, him on point, me trudging along, the sun starting to make the snow glisten on the path.  I listened to my boots crunching through the white crust.

My mind started trudging again, too.  I went back to thinking about all my challenges and all the good things about myself and how hard it was to accept the former and hard to truly believe the latter.

Trudge trudge trudge, crunch, crunch, crunch.

Then I started to think about all those army and prison movies where, when the guy’s being inducted or incarcerated and he’s in the beginning reception-like stage, someone shoves a pile of clothes and gear across the counter towards him, you know, like uniforms, soap, boots, maybe, a steel cup, a big knapsack and a gun in the soldier’s case, whatever it might be, all his kit.  The guy who shoves it towards him says something like, “This is your gear; it’s all you get, take care of it; you’re going to need all of it; some of it’s heavy and painful, don’t lose it; like I said, you’ll need it,” and off goes the soldier/prisoner to his next stage holding his gear close to his chest with both arms, his very important precious bundle.

 I thought about that pile of gear, that bundle, and I started imagining some beleaguered spirit guide or someone like that, 48 years ago when I was forming in the womb, standing across a counter from my soul.  He shoves a big bundle of stuff towards me.  It’s all my challenges and all my good stuff.  He says, “This is your bundle; it’s all you get, take care of it; you’re going to need all of it,” and I nod accepting the then unfamiliar bundle from him drawing it towards me.  I accept it. 

And suddenly I thought, yeah, I accept my bundle.  I could feel tears actually welling up in my eyes as I thought to myself, yeah, and I love my bundle, too, all of it, and I have needed all of it.

I suddenly felt the sun warm on my neck and could hear Ami rummaging as he sniffed a particularly interesting shrub.  I felt like hugging myself.  Ami suddenly looked around at me, his big tongue hanging out, smiling.  He’s quite the bundle, too, is my houndie hound, aint’cha buddy.  “Good boy, Ami,” I said, and he came over for a hug.  I buried my face in his fur and gave him a big hug.   Then he had to go sniff something ’cause sometimes he gets shy, too.  I smiled and wiped the snow off my knees standing up.

 Then we trudged on, crunching the snow and seeing our breath, and I thought to myself, I really like this new path we’re on.

We Live to Love You

Hi, it’s Amicus this time.  Had a conversation of sorts with MAFP (my awesome forever person) and we agreed that as this is, in fact, supposed to be my blog (being the titular character and all) that I should get to stick my long collie nose in here once in a while and address you personally, so that’s what I’m doing, even though I am very busy with a specific challenging marrow extraction right now, rubber balls to chew, and of course my opera to write, but I wanted to say a word on behalf of my fellow hounds and also felt it was time to own this blog for a while.

It’s really really important to have people defending us, me and the other dogs, because we can’t do it.  We can whine, cry, hide, bleed, ache, and die, but we can’t really make a change to how we’re treated sometimes.  Only people can do that.

Many many years, (like thousands) we gave ourselves over to you lot with love, loyalty, and our whole hearts.  We of all the animals, no offence to cats or other pets (I figure they can write their own blogs), but we the dogs decided that we would be the closest, we would make you our everything, our god, even, if you like, and we would dedicate ourselves to protecting you and yours, to loving you with our entirety, and all we wanted was something to eat, a bit of warmth, and some love.

Sounds like a good deal, huh?  We’ll never go back on this deal, never.  No matter how you treat us.  So we really need you to make sure that no one takes advantage of our promise to be yours completely.  We need your protection and your help.  We will give you everything, anyway, but if you can, please help us.

Many of my brothers and sisters are locked up cold and lonely, some of them are really old and some are sick and some look funny or are totally misunderstood, and you’re their only hope.  They’re just waiting to give you everything they are.  Just waiting.  If you can help them in a big way and bring them home, that would be great.  If you can give a bit of money, or blankets, or food, or help them in any small way, I personally would be so happy.  I was where a lot of them are.  I was about to die because I was so scared and sad that I felt I had to be mean and strong.  MAFP came and brought me home, anyway.  She’s my everything, I have given myself to her forever.

MAFP has Christmas treats hid away for me.  She doesn’t think I know, but of course I do, and I know her own forever people are going to visit us and they probably will give me treats, too.  It is good.  And I can play with young forever people who are smaller and scratch my belly lots and who I like to follow everywhere when they visit.  They smell good.

I have really liked writing to you all.  I love you very much.  That is what we do, us dogs.  We love you.  Have a very merry holiday and, on behalf of my fellow hounds, know that our promise to you is forever every day all year round.  We live to love you.  Please love us back.

Thank you.
Amicus Black 

Love Comes Running

Wow, last time I blogged it was March 23, about three months ago, and here I was hoping to blog every day and develop a huge following and be popular and loved.  Well, three readers, obviously I haven’t blogged every day and have not developed a huge following, but I do have the most important friend perhaps I’ve ever had, the most perfect companion and faithful hound who would follow me into hell, even though he’s destined for heaven, if such places there be.

I remember before I found Amicus, but I knew I wanted to get a dog, I would be walking alone in the forest and sometimes I would yell out “Amicus!  Amicus!” as though I had a dog who would come trotting through the bushes when I called.  I called it out to see how it would sound and to imagine outcomes, I called it out to tell the universe that I needed a dog right quick, and I called it out so that whoever Amicus would be would hear it and hurry up finding me.

I figured if anyone else in the forest heard me they’d just figure I was someone with a dog, that no one would hear some woman calling “Amicus” out loud and guess that she was yelling to the universe and yelling to an unknown entity who she wanted desperately to meet.

I think back to those days when I was all alone, not lonely, really, or at least I didn’t know I was, I suppose.  You don’t know you’re lonely sometimes, I think, until you’re not anymore, until your big empties are filled with dog love.  Hard to explain, but anyone with a dog knows what I mean, I think.

Anyhow, now when I’m in the forest and call out Amicus, I hear paws a-thunderin’, sometimes hear a-barkin’, I see brown and tan fur come a-chargin’, I see a wonderful bushy tail a-waggin’, a happy dog tongue a-lollin’, and when I call out Amicus now, Amicus himself comes a-runnin’.

And that’s what I’ve been doing for three months since I last wrote, three intense beautiful months, exploring mountains, forests, lakes, beaches, and the whole of this little town I live in, exploring it with Amicus, a better friend you couldn’t find, fun, brave, stalwart, generous, and smart.  When I call out Amicus now, I know I’m not alone and if anyone does hear me calling out, they better look out ’cause Amicus is out there running back to me, and he’s in a hurry.  Now, when I call out Amicus, loves comes running to me, love comes crashing through the trees right to me.

So maybe I’ll blog tomorrow or maybe it’ll be another three months, but right now me and Ami, we got important stuff to do.  Amicus!  Amicus!  Come on, boy, let’s go!

When the forest gets inside us

When the forest gets inside us, it stays there; parched ribs refreshed drip green moss; weary hearts newly beat plush strong rhythms, a mysterious geomancy of the mind; not just a walk with my dog, but a significant journey of two brave explorers amidst ancient cedar, fir, arbutus, raven, dark earth, and lichen; paw prints through mud under eager wagging tail, my awed plume of breath on the cool silent air, and his playful breath, too, with lolling happy dog tongue; there is a sacred hush amidst the towering trees where old delighted gods beckon us with cracked branch fingers, grey bark smiles, and on and on we walk and smile back because when the forest gets inside us, it stays there.

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Should Mention Dogs Deserve Better Charity! (will update Ami’s Adventures soon, too busy having them)

The Pooky Looky Trick!

So this morning, it finally dawned on me, clearly what the trainers have been trying to tell me, which is that if you want a dog to come to you, you don’t say in a stern commanding voice, “Come,” instead what you do is you put on your high squishy gishy voice, put your hand in your jacket pocket, and say, “Does Pooky Looky want a treat,” and big butch Shepherd/Collie boy immediately comes trotting over, whereupon I give him a treat.  Also I’ve realized it doesn’t matter how big the treat is, a molecule of flavour seems to satisfy him, and then I can easily and calmly grab his collar and, if need be, put his leash on.

In the forest today, every single time I did this it worked and during high-stake situations, as well, where joggers and other dogs were involved and, in the case of one set of dogs, it was a good thing because, with hand on Ami’s collar, I asked the owner, “Are you dogs friendly,” and she answered, “Not really.”  So I leashed Ami and we walked past them and, interestingly enough, Ami didn’t want to go near those two dogs, he wanted to go away from them, but had I not done my pookylookysquishygishy thing, he probably would have run up to them eagerly and then been pulverized.  It also worked with joggers and almost every situation we encountered this morning.

I am also teaching him a command which I made up which is “Hind,” which means he has to be behind me, not heeling, but behind me.  This is very useful on narrow forest paths where if he’s leading and runs into dogless people, he will make the wrong choice figuring he’s running defence and start barking at them, whereas if I’m in the lead, I can reach back and grab his collar and then calmly decide what course of action is best.

Also we have ongoing leash lessons and I must say he is becoming very obedient and sensitive to what I want when he’s on the leash.

Also, on another note, what led me to finally figure all this out and crack down is the other day at Valentine Mountain we were heading up a path back to the car and suddenly out of the blue a fellow appeared right in our path and Ami was ahead of me.  This was before implementing my pookylooky thing and so I said sternly, “Come” and went forward to grab Ami, but both my tone and my forward movement propelled Ami forward, as well, and then the young fellow smiled and started towards me, and Ami started barking and barking and went right up to the guy, and I finally did grab Ami and I apologized three times to the fellow who was wearing big headphones which he never did remove and he never did say a single word and I don’t even know if he heard my apologies, but I do feel bad about it and it has led to me exercising even greater vigilance, discipline, consistency, and rigour in our outings, but I would like to say I’m sorry to the fellow if I ever see him again as he was happily strolling along listening to tunes and then tries to be nice to a lady and her dog and gets vehemently barked at for his well-intentioned efforts.

So, kind fellow on the path at whom my dog barked, I apologize and want to assure you that it has led to me instigating greater control over my dog, so, seriously and sincerely, sorry and thank you.

Of course, if it turns out you were actually a serial killer and were smiling because the knife in your pocket felt so lovely, well, then thank you, Amicus.  I’m just saying.

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