Probie Fire Wife

My hubby has been in probie fire school for 3 full weeks now. I know it’s hard on him, he’s coming home completely exhausted looking for a decent meal, a hot shower and bed. I knew it would be hard on him and I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me. I work a full time job that requires regular unscheduled overtime and even though I try not to, I often take my work home with me. Having the lives of over 100 animals rest on your shoulders is no small task. In addition, we have a happy, healthy, nine month old little girl who is on the verge of crawling any day now. We have 1 dog and 2 cats, and a foster dog with her 3 puppies.
Therefore, in order to ensure he can study and rest as much as possible while not at The Rock, I cook and clean and take care of our daughter and small zoo. This also includes laundry and ironing every night. Keep in mind I didn’t even OWN an iron until the night before he started school.
As the weeks progress, we have found a rhythm and I am slowly finding ways to better manage my time. (Which is obvious as I am making time to blog)
I believe Probie School is a great way to introduce these men (and women) to the struggles their new career will present along with the training and knowledge at how to do their job. It’s fantastic. But what about the wives, girlfriends, significant others of those soon to be firefighters? We should have a fire wife bootcamp of sorts too, don’t you think? This is a whole new world for us, and some more than others.
Curriculum Outline:
~ Preparing for The Academy
~ How To Be a Part Time Single Parent
~ Things that Go Bump in the Night (only when he is on shift)
~ How to fix the Toilet 101
~ Welcome to the Family, the Fire Family
~ How to Cope With Stress
~ How to Be Supportive
~ Fire Lingo 101

I’m sure I could think of 100 more topics. Feel free to add to them! I am however VERY thankful for finding this little support group online, full of great blogs and a facebook group full of information and encouragement from fire wives all over the world. These girls have so much knowledge to share and words of support for nearly anything you can think of!

New Beginnings and a Second Chance

A couple of weeks ago, a medium sized lab/pitbull mix was brought into the shelter. Her owners just ended their relationship, neither wanted the dog. So there I stood, looking into the salt and pepper face of this sweet little dog who, like many others, became a victim of circumstance. Upon looking her over, as I always do at intake, I noticed her mammary glands where a touch swollen. I inquired whether she had had puppies, and was told no. Further thought made me inquire whether she had contact with an intact male. The owners again denied. Whether they were lying or not about know she was pregnant, I knew she was.
Over the next few weeks I monitored “Diamond” and the afternoon of the 9th of January, she began to show signs that she was in the early stages of labor. I’ve foaled many horses, and birthed my own child, but it was a first with puppies. I was lucky enough to have the help of a family friend with extensive experience in whelping dogs. I packaged up everything I might need, and a couple of blankets and a wadding pool into my car, and Diamond eagerly jumped right in the backseat.
I had to run to my mothers and pick up medication before going home. We didn’t make it 3 miles and the poor dog vomited all over my backseat. Great, she gets carsick… Well, we are just going to both have to deal with it, I pull over, clean out my car and convince her to lay down. A couple more miles, she moves to the floor in the back seat, maybe it makes her less nauseous. I’m at my parents within 10 minutes and I open the door, figuring she can run in the half acre fenced yard for a few minutes… NOPE… She’s laying on the floor of my car, licking a freshly born while puppy, a male, too impatient to wait until we get home.
With the help from my father I manage to get the wadding pool and blankets set up in the back of my SUV and move mom and pup there. No time for chit chat at this point, off we go back to my house.
I’m happy to say she waited until I had her set up in my laundry room to deliver her last 2 puppies, both females. So here lay these 3 innocent little lives, unaware their mother is homeless and so are they. This part of my job is bitter sweet. I opened my home and my heart to this sweet girl and her pups, I know we will find them all homes, but Diamond is a different story, a 5 year old pit/lab mix is harder to place… Fortunately I love her, she may have worked her way into my home for good.


Life Changes Come At Once…

Last Saturday, my hubby completed his mile and a half run to seal his admission into Probationary Firefighter School. Monday I got a very SMALL taste of what my life is going to be like for the next five and a half months. He went down to the city for Orientation about 5am, returning around 8pm. He curled up on the couch and fell asleep. I waked him only to get him to actually come to bed. I am starting to see I will be working a full time job, coming home to take care of our daughter, cooking, cleaning and doing other chores alone. I am ok with this. It is temporary.

Two days ago we received an offer to buy our condo, one we couldn’t refuse. He wants to close before the end of January, but offered to rent us the place for up to one year. Now we are house hunting, or rather, I am house hunting. I’m stressed and excited all at the same time.

Apparently everything has to come together all at once, we can’t space it out!

The Shelter

I’ve spent my whole life loving animals. I grew up riding horses and we always had a couple of dogs, cats and even hamsters. It’s no surprise I went on to study animal science in college to pursue a career doing what I love most. I spent some time out west, working on breeding farms, long hours and loss of sleep I’ll never get back. But I LOVED my job. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Or would I? I missed my family. Being a full days plane ride away was taking it’s toll. Then a boy I had 8th grade Spanish class stole my heart from half way across the country. The girl who wanted “out” of this small town moved back. I never would have predicted, almost 5 years out of college, that I would be managing a local Humane Society just minutes from where I grew up. Funny how things work out?

I knew in taking this job I had some challenges ahead of me. I knew I was going to deal with the public, and their animals, in their best and worst. I knew I would face the sad reality that I can not in fact “save them all,” even though I would love nothing more. I knew my hours may not be “set” and there would be long days that turn into nights.

What I didn’t expect was to develop a bond with a small group of people. These people that I am proud to say work for me; my employees and my volunteers. I have never in my life met a group of more dedicated and hardworking people in my life. People who give up nights, weekends and holidays to help care for animals who don’t have a warm bed to crawl into every night. I’ve witnessed their strength and dedication and loyalty to the shelter first hand. They will stand by through thick and thin, whether the kennels be empty or full.

I also didn’t expect to develop such a deep belief in spay/neuter. I’ve never once thought that I would own a dog specifically to breed, or that they puppies could be a source of income. Nor did I have any friends with this mentality. Strange, seeing as my field of study and interest was in equine breeding. Different perhaps, as they were being bred to better the breed and for a purpose, not money. Back to my original thought, spay and neuter your pets! The number of people who breed their dogs to “sell puppies” boggles my mind. Almost half, or MORE end up in an animal shelter.

I will also never “buy” a dog or cat in my life. Shelters are filled with animals of every shape, size, breed, color and age that you can think of. If they don’t have what you are looking for this week, come back next week. There are too many animals in shelters that need homes to support backyard breeders. Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who breed dogs the right way. Bettering the breed, breeding for purpose. Unfortunately, most of them are not.

I also never thought I would feel such a personal attachment to so many animals. Their life lies in my hands. Scary to think about when there are over 40 dogs and 100+ cats. I never thought I’d be one of those people who “took work home with me”. But I am. I am constantly thinking about what I can do to improve things, how to help the animals, how to improve adoptions. I worry about animals that aren’t healthy, older animals I fear won’t find a home, animals that have just been in the kennels too long.

There is a lot of stress, and with it comes heartache. But nothing can replace the feeling I have every time an animal walks out the door to their forever home.


The Waiting Game…

Hubby has been working for the FDNY EMS unit for over 3 years now. An opportunity to “promote” from EMS to Fire was presented this spring when they offered the civil service exam to the public. The previous test was “thrown out” for reasons I don’t really want to get into on here, but If you don’t know about it, just google it. The promotional exam was open to all EMS at the same time the civil service test was given to the general public. (they took the same test). Over 40,000 people took the exam.

October brought news of the “list” being posted. Hubby was in the top 250 of the promotional! Rumors about an academy starting in January taking at least 300 pushed odds in his favor for making the first class. The letters for background investigation interviews, CPAP training, medical exams and physical exams came quickly.

The stress came with the medical exam, which requires a stair master test. There are calculations on what your heart rate max can be after 5min and 12sec (who comes up with these times?) while climbing the stair master at 60 steps/min. Oh, and they have to be in a 40lb weight vest and are not allowed to touch the machine. You get 2 shots to pass this, if you don’t pass the initial one, they will reschedule you a date, if you fail that one… you’re done. As in your name is removed from the list. Done. You can only imagine the stress he was under leaving the morning of the medical exam. I got the call around 2pm, he failed the stair master. Less than 10 people in the whole day actually passed. He was given a second date. Stress level tripled. He was scheduled to go back Black Friday for his retest. I went shopping. His nerves were on edge and I needed to get out of the house. Everything he has worked towards for the last 5 years was on the line with one 5 min stair climb. The phone rings at 11am, I’m still in bed from my midnight excursions at Toys R Us. My heart pounds seeing his name across the screen… HE PASSED! Relief and pride and happiness filled me.

The physical exam was a week later, passed. We had no concerns about that.

And now we wait. Wait for the letter to begin the academy in January.

I’m so proud and nervous at the same time. I’m no stranger to fire life, he’s been a volunteer for 8 years and I’ve been an EMT just as long… Maybe that’s what makes me nervous. I know the game. I know what to expect. I know every day he leaves for work, he will lay his life on the line.

So You Want To Date A Fireman…

A handsome, well built man in turn out gear, sweat beading off his forehead as he pulls his helmet off, the smell of smoke is strong…. sounds like something straight out of a harlequin novel… (most) every woman’s dream to be swept off her feet by a tall handsome fireman. But, underneath all that bunker gear should come a disclaimer. Dating (or marrying!) a fireman for that matter may be slightly different than portrayed in romance novels

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of perks 😉

– Men in turn out gear are HOT!

-The whole rescuing people from burning buildings, very noble

– You will never be cold! They can build an amazing fire

– They COOK! and well I might add

– They aren’t afraid to get dirty or lend a hand to a friend

But, for the disclaimer…

Firemen are HOT, yes, but be prepared for other women to turn their heads, stare, flirt. If you are going to be the girlfriend of a fireman, keep your jealousy in check. The things you admire most about him, chances are, others will too.

You will learn to love navy blue. The majority of his shirts, if not ALL of them will be navy blue with some type of fire department logo and/or Maltese cross. Getting “dressed up” means a golf shirt and jeans, the golf shirt will also have some type of FD logo as well.

Understand that when you date a fireman, you date the whole department, INCLUDING the other wives/girlfriends. You will be expected to go to all functions with him, along with baby showers and bridal showers of the other women tied to the department, regardless of whether or not you like them. He will spend as much time with the boys (or more it may seem) than with you. It’s not because he doesn’t care, it’s because firefighting is a lifestyle and they are a brotherhood. It’s not something most of us experience in a work force.

If he is a fireman for a living, chances are he will also be involved with a volunteer department somewhere. Therefore work and play are not often separate.

Don’t expect to get to every event/date on time. It never fails, there will be dinner plans or a party that will be delayed because tones drop. You may sit for an hour (or 4) depending on the call. It will teach you patience. You will learn how long certain calls take, and whether it’s worth waiting around for him, or to come back later.

Bagpipes. You WILL learn to love them.

You may spend holidays, birthdays, or weekends alone. Being angry won’t help. It comes with the territory. Service jobs work 24/7.

You will learn codes and phrases. You will learn every back road and alternate route to just about any place you would ever want to go.

Dating a fireman is challenging, it will test every bit of sanity you have, but you will never find a more caring, loving and selfless man.

A New Venture Into Blogland…

Why do you want to blog? Why spend time writing to people who don’t care? Just a few questions that were prompted when I discussed my desire to start a blog. Writing is an escape, a way to pull thoughts from my head through my fingertips and onto a screen. I can make sense of jumbled ideas or worried concerns, I sleep better at night. Maybe no one else does care, but I’m not blogging for them, I’m blogging for me. So, thus begins my attempt to document my journey as a fire wife, mother and horsewoman. Feel free to read along.