Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Testing

I have been using Google Chrome for a while now like Blogger insisted upon. I'm back to see if they will finally let me put up a picture. This is the cutie patootie dog we adopted. His name is Sebastian. He stinks to high heaven and is wet continuously. If there is a puddle out on the farm, he will find it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Frustration

Would have liked to post pictures of our new dog with his tongue hanging out for you guys, but Blogger still won't let me load any pictures. This is the new thing that comes up every time I open up my blog:

"The browser we detected is unsupported and may result in unexpected behavior.
Please choose from our list of supported browsers for the best experience."

Not really sure why there are sudden problems. I'm using Internet Explorer, the same as I have been using for years. I upgraded to Google Chrome like they wanted months ago. I'm so frustrated I'm about ready to give up on this blog. Or maybe I have to actually rely on my writing without photos.... Hmm, novel idea, no pun intended.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Bad Feeling



I was suspicious of the black dog from the start. Who gives away a dog whose tongue hangs out the side of his mouth like Astro from the Jetsons? Supposedly the guy, let’s call him Manny, had run into some financial difficulties and just had too many mouths to feed, what with the new baby and the other kids and dogs (not clear on the exact number) already eating him out of house and home. Something had to give. So he picked Sebastian to give away because he was the one who ate the most. I would think the difference between what a big black mutt eats and what a German shepherd eats (one of the other dogs—one of the keepers) would be negligible (if anything you would think the shepherd ate more), but this is what he said was the reason for giving him away.

There had to be more to it than that. Sebastian was just too cute. Manny claimed they were keeping him on the porch because he was big and he’d knock over the kids, inadvertently of course, and they had the new baby and all. He didn’t look that big to me. He was probably a biter. Maybe he bit someone and they wanted to unload him before the newspaper articles came out about the lawsuit. But if he took off a small child’s finger who was poking it through the fence, or disfigured the babysitter so badly she couldn’t go to prom, this guy wasn’t going to volunteer the information. He’d never find him a home if he told people he bit. So I acted like a biting dog was no big deal to me. I pretended I was stifling a yawn and asked, “Does he ever nip?” real casual.

He said, “Oh yeah.” My heart dropped. “He licks. He licks alright.”

Hmm. So he was a licker.

I asked if he was housebroken. He said when he used to let him in the house, before he was worried about his waggedy tail whacking the baby, he would put wee-wee pads down and point. Ew, that wasn’t good. A two-year-old unhousebroken dog. I have brand new carpet. But I know how to do crate training so unless he was some kind of a problem case, I was pretty confident that if he was crapping on the Orientals, I could fix it. I had a crate. I just had to get it out.

Supposedly he didn’t chew couches or bark when he wasn’t supposed to, though he would bark when a stranger knocked on the door. But he’d stop as soon as you told him it was okay. He was pretty good off the leash too—would come right back when called—and got along with cats and of course, kids, since Manny had a number of them and there was no mention of missing digits or ripped off lips.

Apparently there was nothing wrong with this dog other than he would eat me out of house and home. Which, of course, didn’t rattle me one bit being that I have horses who really know how to bankrupt a person with their demands for food and new saddles and the newest headstalls encrusted with Swarovski crystals on hand-painted leather.

We made plans to go see him on Sunday when Kurt was off. Someone else was interested but Manny promised he wouldn’t let them come until we saw him first. We had first dibs. (Yeah, right.) I asked for his address so I could MapQuest it ahead of time to see exactly where we were going but he said let’s wait until Sunday. No offense. It was Craigslist. Who knew who I was and what I could be up to? I could be a robber. Though robbing people who posted ads for dogs who needed homes would be stupid. Unless I wanted to rob the actual dog. Robbers usually post their own ads for expensive things they are selling and then whip out a pistol when some unsuspecting rich kid from the suburbs arrives, pockets full of cash after having made a stop at the bank, to buy a five thousand dollar four-wheeler that doesn’t exist in the middle of the ghetto. They don’t answer ads for dogs. Or maybe I was a rapist. I just read about an Angelina Jolie lookalike who raped a cabbie multiple times. He didn’t scream because he didn’t want anyone to think he was raping her. Jennifer Aniston was more his type. Okay, bad joke. No one said I was a comedienne. But it’s a true story.

Anyway, on Sunday, after he got back from church (yeah, right), Manny texted me the address. It was the address to a park. Supposedly we could see the dog in action running in the grass, playing with sticks and whatnot, when I knew the real reason was he didn’t want us to see where he lived. The dog was probably a biter after all. The kids would scream bloody murder when he looked in their direction. Or he destroyed the entire porch he was being kept on—the doorjamb was all chewed up, there were claw marks gouged in the woodwork and dark stains on the floor—and the couch on the curb with all the stuffing coming out of it would have caused us to pretend we were someone else and keep right on driving.

I had a bad feeling. I said to Kurt, “Let’s promise that if there are any red flags about this dog, we don’t take him.” Because if I wanted a dog who wasn’t quite right, I would have just kept the Doberman. That was a nice dog. And I was afraid I would weaken, even if the torn up couch was out there, seeing the tongue hanging out the side of his mouth looking so cute and dopey. I even got Kurt to stop at the local dog pound, since we were early and had some time to kill, just for one more look. But they were closed. So we found ourselves the only white people sitting in a gravel parking lot next to a basketball court where a couple of dozen folks of color were playing ball and glancing over at us suspiciously. Kurt promised he would be strong. He would not let me take any Dobie-wa-was or a snarling, growling dog, and we would definitely not take him if he lifted his leg and peed on my or Kurt’s new shoes. That would be a bad sign.

But Manny wasn’t showing. Maybe we were at the wrong park. I texted him. I didn’t want to text him. He wasn’t coming. We could go while the goings good. But it was the right thing to do. What if the guy was caught in traffic or something? It wouldn’t be right if we just left. No reply. We waited longer. Obviously he was up to something after all. This was our chance to hightail it out of there and forget the whole thing. Who needed a dog anyway? Life was pretty peaceful the last few months without a dog. I have to say, I was really enjoying not having all the work from a dog and the original idea was to wait until after the summer anyway, after we got back from vacation. Why take one now and have to deal with the whole dog sitter problem? I never know what’s worse—getting someone to come to the house and him being home alone all day till the sitter gets here or putting him in a private dog sitter’s home where he’ll get scared because her Great Dane looks like our pony but doesn’t smell like our pony? Or is bringing him to a professional kennel where they have outbreaks of kennel cough that they don’t tell you about worse? And what happens when they want me to give the dog more shots like what happened with Motley and then I’ll worry that his kidneys are going to fail like Motley’s because I wasn’t going to give him shots at that exact time and if I give the shots I’ll worry and if I don’t give the shots, I’ll worry. Whenever we go away, I spend most of my time worrying about the dog. I should just wait. I was about ready to say, “Com’on, let’s go,” relieved Manny was a no-show, when a guy came out of the woods with a big black bear on the end of a leash who was bounding around like a puppy. He was prancing, tail waving, and falling over his own feet, he was so joyous over being out in the park. From the distance I could see his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, blowing back behind him. And I knew that we were taking him.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Dog With No Name


When we can’t think of a name for an animal, it’s a sign. This has never happened before. Names come easy to us. We’re kind of famous for our cool and creative names—Motley (the dog), Mojo, Hobbes (cats), Lowdown, Harley, Spirit (horses), Black Betty (all my black chickens), Penny (all the white chickens), Helen (all the red ones), Redeye (my albino ferret) for example, and when people are stuck, they ask us for ideas. We’ve named the dogs of four friends and quite a few of their horses as well as a goat and a hamster. But we could not come up with a name for this Doberman we got shanghaied into taking. Nothing sounded right. They were all too obvious or common or just plain stupid.

I think it was because we weren’t supposed to have her. I knew she was not the right dog for us from the get-go but I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings who found her for us so I inquired just to be polite. Then I found out the owner had died and the family sent her back to the breeder who unloaded her on someone who didn’t really want her. He was keeping her outside. She had a nice dog house but there was a foot of snow on the ground and more was coming. She was in a pen all by herself next to his two dozen beagles who were all snuggled up like mice in a litter in the adjoining pen. Dobermans are not outside dogs. And this was a young Doberman. A pup really. Only about seven months old. So I had to go and get her. Plus, I felt sorry for her, losing her owner.

For three days we wracked our brains trying to think of a name, but nothing. The whole time I kept picturing what would happen when she ran up to all the people who come and go on the farm—the farrier, the UPS man, kids who come to ride with Kelly—or those who pass the house—the dog walker, the bike riders, the lady who picks up litter. They’d stop short and put up their hands. Maybe take a step back. I’d say, “It’s alright, she won’t bite,” like I used to say with Motley. But this dog was scary looking. Nothing like our floppy-eared mutt who would plop down and roll over, red rocket out, tail thumping, when someone came to visit. The Doberman would think something was up, the way people would act. They’d widen their eyes. She’d widen her eyes. The meter reader would jump back in his car. Before you knew it, she’d nip someone.

If I had a fenced-in yard, it would be a different story. I’ve got field fence, rail fence, some chain-link fence on the far side of the property, and picket fence, but none of it is dog worthy if the dog has any kind of oomph. And the Doberman had oomph, if the way she zoomed around the barn when I let her loose in there was any indication. She didn’t come right back to me. I had to catch her. I’d have to tie her up. I don’t want a dog that I have to tie up. I want a dog who, when I step out onto the deck to let him do his duty, he will pee right there on my roses and come right back when I whistle. I wouldn’t even have to put my coat on. Yes, I know I could train the Doberman. But, even though she was beautiful and sweet, this just wasn’t the kind of dog we were looking for. I felt guilty about it but she deserved to be with someone who really wanted her and time was of the essence—she was still a puppy. I had to make a decision right away.

So I chalked it up to a rescue and I gave her to my friend who was the one who found her in the first place. I believe she was meant to have her since the dog sleeps in their bed and was named Lilly about an hour after they got her.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Mission

As soon as my friends found out we were in the market, my inboxes and Facebook page were flooded with links and posts and emails about dogs who needed homes. It was a literal smorgasbord of cute canines—little dogs, big dogs, young dogs, old dogs, purebreds, mutts; you name it—with an emphasis on pit bulls because the shelters are loaded with them, and brindles, because that’s what Motley was.

My friends were on a mission. They’re animal lovers like me and if you can’t get another pet yourself because you have too many already, the next best thing is helping your friend get one. It’s like shopping by proxy. It’s not the real thing but you can still get your rocks off. This happens in the horse world all the time. We’re always finding horses for each other and going out on shopping expeditions together. One of us will say, “Hey, you want to take a ride and go look at a horse?” and the next thing you know, you’re driving three days to Texas.

The problem was, I didn’t like any of the dogs. I’m sorry, but after Motley, I want it all. Motley spoiled me. I want a dog with a nice disposition. I want a dog who, when people come and go on the farm, they won’t get scared when he runs up to greet them but who will make someone think twice when they knock on the door and hear him bark if they had any intention of robbing me. I want a dog who I can let loose to trot alongside me as I go in and out of the house to do my chores and who will follow when I ride my horse around the pasture and come when I whistle. I want a dog who, even if he is untrained, is willing and trainable. I don’t think Marley and Me was very cute at all. Yeah it was sad at the end and it brought a tear to my eye when they buried him but I would have been burying that dog about ten minutes into the movie because I would have killed him right around the time he ripped up my couch.

So we ruled out the high energy, couch-eater types. And the ones who looked like they belonged behind an eight-foot fence with a curl of razor wire on top in Nazi Germany or in a drug den in Camden. We ruled out the ones who hated cats and small children. Little dogs because we’re big dog people, though we wouldn’t rule out a little dog as the second dog. And all the ones with pushed-in faces because we want a dog with an actual snout.

My friends were getting frustrated. They kept sending pictures. What about this one? Nope. What about him? Nah. How about her? No, I want the ears a tiny bit floppier and the tail just a little more waggedy.

Yes, I discriminated based on looks. I don’t want any Dobie-wa-wa in my pocketbook. (See Dobie-wa-wa here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZQogu_rt9Y&feature=player_embedded) I want a good looking dog. The grim reaper in the dog pound doesn’t care what it looks like. I can just as easily save a pretty one as I can an ugly one.

Plus, getting a dog is a big commitment. It’s almost like adopting a baby. You’re going to have this animal for ten or fifteen years and you will never again be completely free. You certainly won’t be able to go out all day and all night without making a pit stop home to let the dog out and that can be a pain in the ass if you’re in the middle of having fun, say, you’re at a barbecue and your ex is about to walk in with his new wife who you heard gained quite a bit of weight since the baby and now you are going to miss that. You have to go home and let the dog out. And they can be expensive. You might even purchase the new pool for the vet’s summer home if you get a sickly dog or a dishonest vet who takes advantage of you because now you are paranoid since you lost the last one, and you keep running to the vet every time the new dog looks crooked.

And what if the dog doesn’t measure up to the best dog ever? What if he pees on the floor or steals a steak out of the garbage or doesn’t stop to let you wipe all four feet, patiently lifting one at a time, because, it’s a dog after all. And you realize, perhaps, Motley was not a real dog.

I felt bad, ruling them out left and right, especially since my girlfriend was trying so hard, texting me pictures of dogs when she should have been cooking dinner, and keeping an eye on Craigslist for new posts like someone waiting to make a run for it when there’s a break in the traffic. She forwarded me new ads at all hours of the day and night, at midnight and dawn, whenever they popped up. She was relentless. It was a lot of pressure. So in a moment of weakness, I threw caution to the wind and I just grabbed one. I knew it wasn’t going to be the right dog like a drunk girl knows it’s not going to be the right guy but she does it anyway. Plus I was afraid the dog was going to freeze to death if I didn’t.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The List

The FedEx man knocked on the door. I jumped. I didn’t hear him coming. I don’t have a dog anymore who barks when somebody pulls up. Before I knew it was the FedEx man, I hoped it wasn’t a bad guy out there because he’d know I didn’t have a dog, since none was barking, and I’m out in the middle of nowhere. I could get killed and no one would know it until Kelly came home from school or Kurt came home for dinner. That was one of the good things about Motley. He’d bark when someone arrived, but when I told him to stop, he’d stop.

The FedEx man handed me my package and asked, “Where’s the dog?”

“He died,” I said. “Kidney failure. We had to put him to sleep right before Christmas.”

“Oh no, I’m sorry!” He looked down at his pad. He scratched his head like he couldn’t believe it. “I keep a list of all the dogs on my route. I’ve got: Motley… Friendly.”

That’s why I miss him so much. Forget keeping burglars away. He’s on delivery drivers’ lists of nice dogs.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Something's Off

We need a new dog on the farm. In our family. I was going to wait until after we got back from Florida. The main reason we don’t go away as much as we’d like to is because of the animals. I should say as much as Kurt would like to. My idea of a vacation is to sleep until I wake up. Just wake up whenever I’m done sleeping. No alarm clocks. No shaking me. Then when I finally do open my eyes, don’t get out of my pajamas and have somebody bring me coffee and food, preferably spaghetti, eat, and then go back to sleep. That’s my idea of a vacation. But Kurt and the kid prefer more traditional venues like Disneyworld plus my father abandoned me for all the good weather down there so I’ve got to go.

It’s really hard getting away when you have animals. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like going away. I get the horse sitter to come twice a day and she’ll fill up the barn cats’ food and go inside and take care of the house cats but I can’t leave a dog alone all day and all night with only two visits from someone. Dogs don’t like to be alone. They’re pack animals. Even if I had two dogs, which we usually do, and they had each other for company, they still have to go to the bathroom more than twice a day in a twenty-four hour period. So I bring the dog(s) to a dog sitter and that can run into big bucks and then on top of it, I always feel guilty because my dogs are not really thrilled about it. Vixen used to give us the cold shoulder when we returned and the last time we went away, poor Motley was traumatized by the dog sitter’s dogs. Even though they are all very nice dogs and they are used to other dogs coming and going because that’s what this lady does for a living. I shouldn’t say he was traumatized by her dogs, plural. It was one dog in particular. A sweet and friendly Great Dane named Daisy. But Motley was scared of her. He couldn’t figure her out because she was as big as our pony but she wasn’t a pony. He knew there was something off about her.

I don’t know if it was the pony-like dog or what, but Motley wasn’t himself when we picked him up and I don’t think he was himself while he was there either because the dog sitter didn’t rave about him like people usually did. Everyone loved Motley. Even the mailman told me that if I ever needed a home for him, he would love to have him. I used to be afraid that people were going to steal him if I turned my back. That’s how nice he was. So I expected the dog sitter to report how impressed she was, how he was the best dog she’d ever taken care of. But she didn’t say squat. I was kind of insulted by her lack of accolades. It was like making someone a gourmet dinner with ingredients you had to search high and low for, exotic this and organic that, and setting up your computer with the recipe on it right on the counter next to the coffee pot so you can follow it to a T and everything looks fabulous, it looks like something out of Bon App├ętit magazine, and no one says, “Yum, this is good.”

At any rate, Motley wasn’t himself when we picked him up and in fact, he was never himself again. He was quieter. He started aging fast and we found ourselves cooing, “You good old dog,” and then we’d hit our foreheads and say, “Wait! He’s not old!” He was seven or eight. In the summer, he started panting more than I thought was right. Everyone said, “Oh, it’s hot,” but I knew something was wrong. When I took him to the vet, we found out he had kidney failure. We never found out what caused it. By Christmas, he was dead.

I can’t help wondering if it had something to do with the vaccines the dog sitter required. I didn’t want to do it. I’m not against vaccines. But I think we give too many of them too often and I’ve cut back on the number of vaccines I give to both my animals and my children. The dog sitter was actually on the same page as me about that and she was going to let me slip by with just the kennel cough shot since he had had the whole series about two years ago. But when I was in the vet’s office and the vet asked me if I wanted to do them all, I thought, ah, give them to him. I was scared when I did them and scared when I didn’t. I’ll always wonder if those shots had something to do with it because he was perfectly fine before that. Maybe, with his compromised organs from having the parvo as a puppy, all those shots put him over the edge. I don’t know…

Now it’ll be even harder to go away because I’m not going to put my dogs in any kind of a boarding situation if it means I have to give them vaccines I don’t think is in their best interest. I’m going to have to find someone to stay at the house. That’s not going to be easy. Or cheap. So we were going to wait before we got another dog, do the Florida thing first. But I can’t stop crying. I never cried this much over a dog. It has nothing to do with the fact that I held Motley when we put him to sleep. I held Vixen too and I didn’t cry over her this much. I’m crying over Motley about as much as I cried over my mother! It’s embarrassing! It’s a dog!

Maybe it was because he was by my side practically every waking minute. I went out to take care of the horses, he came out with me. I went back in, he came back in. I went into the bathroom, he padded after me. All through the house, he quietly followed and was always there, sleeping next to the bed (I had to watch when I got up in the morning that I didn’t step on him), under the kitchen table, lying next to the couch, not making a peep except for the thump of his tail if I looked in his direction. I go out now to feed the horses and I feel like I forgot something. I open the door to the house and expect Motley to come barreling out and there’s nothing. It’s like my arm was cut off. Yeah, I’m still functioning with what I have left. But I’m all discombobulated like there’s a pony but it’s not a pony. Something’s off.

So I need another one ASAP. Of course no dog will take Motley’s place. How many best-dog-evers are there? But I know I will feel better if I have another dog to love, especially if I can find one who needs a home. I’ve got to do something with all this dog love that has no place to go right now.