Chula

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but hadn’t found the time. However, I knew I wanted to write the story out so as not to forget some of the little details that really make this story what it is.

On February 21st around 1pm I got a text from a couple of friends of mine asking me to come over as soon as I could, that it was an emergency. I asked them what was wrong and whether or not someone was hurt and I was sent the following photo:

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If you’ve ever seen the show “Pit Bulls and Parolees” you’ll know what I mean by this reference; I felt like Tia Torres for a moment. Time was of the essence, this poor dog had clearly been neglected to the point where we weren’t sure if she was going to make it or not. I pretty much dropped everything that I was doing and drove over as quickly as I could. I am a dog lover by nature, and seeing this photo still breaks my heart. How could someone do this? Or how could someone see her and not have done something sooner?

I got the full story when I arrived. My friend said he was visiting some friends in Toledo, Ohio (roughly a half hour from where we live) when the topic of dogs came up. His friends told him that a dog had wandered onto their back porch roughly a week before, but they didn’t have enough money to care for her and that she was in bad shape. They were holding on to her with the idea that she was at least better off there then on the streets where she could be killed. Now, my friend is currently employed by PetSmart and though he had never owned a dog himself, he knew quite a bit about them. So they showed him the dog and he immediately asked that they write the dog over to him. They told him that they didn’t have any official paperwork as it wasn’t actually their dog, but they wrote a note saying they were giving the dog to him (for legality reasons, we didn’t want to get the dog healthy and then be legally responsible to return her to where she got this bad in the first place). He brought her home, but he and his roommate had never owned dogs before so they weren’t entirely sure what to do, which is where I come in. My family has rescued two dogs before, one was a stray that wandered into our garage and the other we got from the Humane Society where he had a week left on the “kill list” (basically the list of dogs that do not get adopted and therefore get put down). I took a few photos myself of her to post online to see what advice I could get on getting this dog back to full health.

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Her name is Chula, which was given to her before we rescued her. I later looked it up to find out that it is a Spanish word meaning “pretty or sexy girl.” We discussed changing the name at one point, but after finding out the meaning decided that “pretty girl” was appropriate. My friends had tried to take her to the Wood County Humane Society, which is the only no-kill shelter in the immediate area, but they were full and unable to take her in. However, the wonderful people there told us that they would supply us with food, supplements, and a lead leash so long as we took her in (which we gladly did, especially knowing we could now afford to). We immediately made plans to take her to the vet. Thankfully, my friend working at PetSmart gave us an advantage as we could get her supplies at a discounted price, but we also were able to find out that the first vet visit there was free (which was great seeing as we are all rather poor). We took her into the vet, fearing the worst. As she walked through the store we got a mix of different expressions: Some full of pity, others full of anger as though we were the ones to put her in this state. However, most of the reception was positive and there were more than a few kind people who offered us money to help pay for supplies and genuine support for what we were doing.

Chula weighed in at roughly 30 lbs, extremely underweight for a dog her size, and less than a year old (8 months to a year and a half was the time frame we were given as far as speculating how old she was). After looking her over, it was decided that she was most likely a pit bull/boxer mix, though ridge-back and a few other breeds were tossed around as well. Her incredibly sweet demeanor won over the store and the vet’s office. After she was looked over, they said that she was healthy aside from being incredibly dehydrated and malnourished. The only concern was an infection in her mouth (which we found out may have been caused by her having to eat a cat to survive) and the possibility of parasites which would have been what caused her to get to the state she was in. We were given parasitical medication and asked to return with her the following week for a check up.

Chula's winking face

Chula’s winking face

As Chula became more comfortable with us, some of her personality began to come out. We could tell from the start that she would be an incredibly loyal and loving dog. However, due to the state she was in, Chula slept a lot and seemed timid, though she loved being cuddled and talked to. Using what money we had, we bought her a blanket as well as some of the things the vet had recommended. Since she was too skinny to bathe, we got her puppy wipes to help wipe off some of the dirt that had collected on her.

Chula's first puppy grin!

Chula’s first puppy grin!

We were relieved to see her smile and knew that she was going to pull through. However, she had no concept of how to be a puppy. Even when we gave her her first ever bone she hid it out of the fear that it would be taken away. When I tried to recover it, she nipped me very lightly and then immediately hid out of fear that I would do something or take it away permanently. We managed to reassure her that we had no intentions of taking anything away from her if we could help it and she slowly started to trust us more.

Chula with her first bone, l ooking rather terrified as if she didn't think she was allowed to have it.

Chula with her first bone, looking rather terrified as if she didn’t think she was allowed to have it.

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As if anyone could deny this face.

After roughly a week, we began to see a definite improvement with Chula. A friend of ours donated some toys and though she didn’t know what to do with them at first, she steadily began to become more playful. She remained quiet and still slept quite a bit, but she began to fill out and enjoy going outside more. At one point we took her over to my apartment for an hour or two to visit with Play-Doh. Doh liked her at a distance, but wasn’t sure what she thought of her close up. Chula, on the other hand, LOVED Play-Doh!

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Chula looking more attentive and less scared

Chula LOVES Play-Doh!!!

Chula LOVES Play-Doh!!!

Chula weighed in at over 40 pounds at her next vet visit, more than 10 lbs more than she had been the week before. We were ecstatic! She had more energy, smiled more, and was beginning to gain muscle. Additionally, she became house-broken relatively quickly and learned the commands “Sit” and “Lay down” within a couple of weeks of having her (she is VERY treat motivated). The infection in her mouth disappeared and whatever parasites she may or may not have had disappeared. Chula was starting to jump around and decided that she was the perfect lap dog (which, size aside, she kind of is). Her toys began being used and she discovered that Fetch and Tug were her two favorite games to play. After about three weeks, she discovered belly rubs and has been rolling on her back begging for them ever since. Here are a few more photos as weeks progressed.

"Pretty Puppy"

“Pretty Puppy”

Roughly 3 weeks later, starting to fill out and see less ribs

Roughly 3 weeks later, starting to fill out and see less ribs

One of her many goofy smiles

One of her many goofy smiles

Her favorite toy, "Gator," has pretty much been de-stuffed

Her favorite toy, “Gator,” has pretty much been de-stuffed

At about 4 weeks in we decide that Chula was ready to make her public début. She was getting too playful for the apartment, which is very small, and clearly wanted room to run and stretch out. So I did some research and discovered Findlay, Ohio’s K-9 Field of Dreams. Field of Dreams is a free dog park roughly a half hour away that allowed any and all types of dogs. It is also one of the few dog parks in the area and the only one that doesn’t charge or have a ridiculous set of rules and regulations to make sure that only the “perfect” dogs were allowed in.

Chula anxiously wondering where we were taking her and when we would finally get there.

Chula anxiously wondering where we were taking her and when we would finally get there.

Our biggest concern was how Chula would react to the other dogs and she was slightly intimidated at first. However, that lasted about a minute before Chula instantly bonded with every dog there. I felt like a proud mom watching her run around with all the other dogs. She ran for about three hours straight, chasing and playing with the other dogs, before we could tell she was getting worn out. It was the happiest I had seen Chula yet, she was truly a beautiful healthy dog now and absolutely won over every dog and human at the park that day.

Chula and some of her playmates

Chula and some of her playmates

Chula running around so much that her ears were stuck in that position for a while

Chula running around so much that her ears were stuck in that position for a while

Photo from another day at the park where we played with her frisbee

Photo from another day at the park where we played with her frisbee

Another frisbee photo

Another frisbee photo

Chula flies!

Chula flies!

After the park, Chula was one tired puppy and fell asleep on the ride home. After we got back, we got to give her her first ever bath, which she hated, but she enjoyed all the praise and being told how pretty she looked.

Sleepy Chula...

Sleepy Chula…

After the first bath, Chula was unsure of what to think

After the first bath, Chula was unsure of what to think

It’s been over a month now and I could not be more blessed to have gone through this experience with Chula. Her passion for life and fight to live has truly been inspirational and it makes me glad to see her so happy now. She is loved by everyone who meets her and has more puppy in her then we can handle. We have decided that we are going to try to keep her and we’ve been blessed to find a temporary home for her until one of us (most likely my friend) gets an apartment big enough to handle her. Chula has one of the biggest dog grins I’ve ever seen and has a unique personality that is coming out more and more each day. I could honestly go on for hours about her, but this is the majority of her story. The rest of her days to come will be filled with love and she will be spoiled beyond compare (as she already is). I cannot express how glad I am that she is going to live out the rest of her days knowing that neglect is not her fate or lot in life, that there are good people out there who truly care. Below is the original photo again, next to one of my most recent photos of her, taken just a couple of days ago.

Chula before, back in mid-February

Chula before, back in mid-February

Chula now, after more then a month of proper care

Chula now, after more then a month of proper care

She truly fits her name: Chula, the Pretty Girl. In the future, you will most likely see photos and updates on Chula and her progress, but I am pleased to say that she is out of any danger zone. She’ll never be a “normal dog” because of her experiences, but that just helps to make her the wonderful, lovable dog that she is. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body despite everything that has happened and her loyalty to us border lines concern as she does have some separation anxiety. However, after seeing her pull through everything she has, separation anxiety will be a cake walk for her to overcome. Rescuing a dog is an experience unlike any other and despite all the stress and anxiety it may have caused in the meantime, I would do it all over again.

Our happy puppy

Our happy puppy

Chula and I

Chula and I

“My mission is to rescue, my dream is that one day I won’t have to.” – Tia Torres

 

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“Vampire Leprechaun”

Dear Reader,

Things have been rather busy for me as of late, though no more than usual I suppose. I’ve been working hard waitressing and working with kids through the Educational Service Center as well as filming and doing some promotional things to network more. Things with Already Indie have been going very well and we just released another episode:

I think I am starting to get more comfortable in front of the camera then when I started working with the AI group. Naturally, I still have a long way to go, but there are things that I noticed from the first episode I did that improved with this episode. A lot of it has to do with confidence and the more confidence I have in my performance, the better the performance will be. There is also a commercial that we shot for this that you can also find on YouTube.

As I stated before, I have been working more with kids at the ESC and I absolutely love doing it. It never ceases to fascinate me how intelligent kids really are and how these first few years of their lives can completely set the standard for who they will be in the future. I had a great moment with one of our first grade students where I was able to help him figure out how to do long addition problems by using tally marks. It was a great feeling, especially because he had previously been reprimanded for sitting and staring at a problem for too long (the teachers just thought that he didn’t want to do it so he was just procrastinating to waste time). It also kind of annoys me to see people simply write things off as misbehavior, when most of the time there is more to the story than that. One of the more interesting things that happened was that several of the students deemed me a “vampire leprechaun.” The vampire part is due to my incredibly pale skin and slightly sharper than normal incisors. The leprechaun part was because of my red hair and my ability to find four-leaf clovers without really looking. This was a gift I evidently inherited from my great-grandfather, who would walk along the fields and would randomly bend over, pick one up, and throw it out into the field. I discovered this when I was very young and would be walking around outside and just randomly see one and pick it up. One would think that this would mean I have good luck, but it seems that it only applies to finding four-leaf clovers.

One of the four four-leaf clovers I was able to find at work one afternoon

Aside from the things previously stated, life has been fairly quiet. I finally got around to ordering business cards from Vistaprint and I had the opportunity to hang out with some of the radio crew the other day which was a lot of fun. I am hoping things will start picking up for me again soon, but that may not be until after I find a new place to live in this area as my lease is up soon. I am still waiting for acting work, but my casting manager is confident that I should be hearing back from people fairly soon. The most I can do now is be patient and ready for whatever comes at me.

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” – Victor Hugo

Moving On

As I reflect on the last few months and my time in this town and my apartment dwindle away, I realize that I don’t have a lot of time left here. The simple fact of the matter is, I have to move on in order to continue my life and career. It’s a bittersweet realization in that there are people who I will sorely miss when I go, such as my Lionface and college friends, all the friends I’ve met through doing comedy, and work colleagues turned friends. Yet there are people and situations surrounding me that I would rather forget. I’m a believer in the idea that life is too short to be around people who make you feel like shit. Hence the bittersweet feeling, there are pros and cons to moving on.

Which brings me to my next point: Where am I going? The answer: Not entirely sure. So I’m listing some pros and cons for the top three locations that have been recommended to me for various reasons. Note: I’m not including monetary investments in the pros/cons because that’s sort of a given. Of course I’m going to have to think about money issues, but I don’t want to have to repeat myself on that particular note.

Don’t worry, we’ll get through this together. I have interspersed happy puppy pictures to keep this from getting too heavy.

Location 1: Los Angeles

Pros:

  • This is where my company would like for me to go. They believe that there is a lot more work for me there and that, due to my age and young appearance, I will be cast more readily then someone who goes there without representation or looks a great deal older than their age. Plus, they have enough connections in the area that they assured me that I would have an easier time finding side work to help pay the bills while I am auditioning and performing elsewhere.
  • Health-wise, this would probably be a good move for me. I’ve always had issues with my health that has kind of been attributed to Ohio’s constant changing of weather and cold winter. Therefore, living somewhere with a more steady weather pattern might not be a bad idea.

Cons:

  • I have almost no contacts in LA. Oddly enough, being and actor and a comedian, I have yet to actually meet someone who has lived in or will be living in LA. Yes, I am supposed to be starting off fresh, but having one or two contacts that can show me around would be EXTREMELY beneficial. Plus, I have no doubt that it gets lonely in a new place and I have enough anxiety issues as it is to not have at least one person that I can talk to in the area.
  • Let’s be real, I am a very fair-skinned ginger. There is no tan for me, I go straight to burn in a matter of minutes. When I burn badly enough, I can get incredibly sick, which would naturally prevent me from working. Not to mention the fact that an actor’s appearance is a huge selling point in the industry. If I walk into an audition with a face that matches my hair, that might not leave a very good impression. A minor con, perhaps, but still something to think about.

ZOMG! He’s so happy!!!!

Location 2: Chicago

Pros:

  • I have a lot of connections in Chicago! This could help me find a job to do on the side while attending auditions and whatnot. Plus, I would have people to be able to show me around the city and possibly help me with networking. This would also be beneficial health wise for me so that if I am having any problems or am in an accident there is someone in the area I could call to help me out.
  • It is a great deal closer to home for me, which is a big deal for me. I come from a very close family and while they drive me nuts on occasion, it has always been good for me to be only a few hours away as opposed to a few states away. My biggest concern would be not being able to get home in time if there was a big emergency. Naturally, I have to go where the work is, but if I went to Chicago, this would be less of a concern since I would be able to make it back if I absolutely needed to versus if I would have to take an airplane or a train or something.

Cons:

  • While they are currently in the process of trying to set up an office in Chicago, the company that I am associated with does not currently have any representatives in Chicago. Since they are the focal point of my career, this is a problem. I would most likely have to leave Chicago quite often to attend auditions or work, which can not only be pricy, it would also be extremely stressful.
  • From the various connections I have in Chicago, I have learned that finding side work is not very easy. Within the past couple of years, Chicago has become a hotspot for aspiring actors, so the competition is fierce. While I am confident in the skills I have, I do need to take this into consideration, especially as far as side work is concerned. If there are hundreds of aspiring actors in one place, no doubt they are looking for side work as well in order to be able to stay in the city as long as possible.

A wild happy dog appears! SO HAPPY!!!

Location 3: New York

Pros:

  • Once again, this is a place in which I have a few connections. Perhaps not as many as I would in Chicago, but I do have friends in this area. And as I stated before, this is kind of a big deal to me.
  • The company I work for does have an office in New York, so I would not have to travel out-of-town as much in order to attend auditions for find work. Mind you, I probably still would have to on occasion, but there is a greater chance of me finding work without having to go outside of the city.

Cons:

  • As with Chicago, New York is full of aspiring actors and not only that, but aspiring business men and women as well. To say the least, New York is pretty packed. Not to mention the fact that for a single, young female living on her own, it does have the possibility of being dangerous. I am not an idiot by any means and I do know ways of protecting myself, but I’m also not foolish enough to think that this isn’t something to worry about.
  • Once again, finding side work presents itself as an issue for me to consider. In New York, I am not only competing against actors but performers in general. I would be elsewhere as well, but from what I’ve heard New York is more difficult to find work in. Many people attempt to get a job there first before every moving into the area to begin with. So if I were to even consider going to New York (or honestly anywhere) I would want to make sure that I at least had a job waiting for me when I get there.

If you made it to this point than kudos to you! Glad to see my ramblings have not thrown you off immensely, I hope that happy puppy pictures helped. Since you did make it this far, I would like to ask your opinion on this matter. Additionally, if you know anything about the living and/or job situation in either of these three cities, I would love to discuss it with you and perhaps clear up any misconceptions I might have. I await your comments!

Thanks for reading!

“And who knows, maybe starting a new journey won’t be so hard or perhaps it has already begun.” – KH1