bertieHave you ever smelled a warm, stale Cheeto? That’s what Casey, my 8-year-old tweeny Dachshund smells like. It’s weirdly comforting. I’d never imagined myself as a “pet parent,” and at the very moment Casey entered the household, I swore I’d not take on any of the responsibility. That lasted about an hour. It’s those sad eyes and wagging butt that get ya. That little whine that says, “Don’t you just want to love me up, mom? had me from “eueueueueue!” Next thing you know I’m cleaning up pee and poop and giving dog baths and researching food and desperately trying to figure out how to stop a dog from chewing hard wood floors & kitchen cabinets. Yup, me! The woman who would NEVER have a dog… now understanding why they refer to “throw rugs” as they do… because you actually have to throw them away! It was hot sauce and another dog, btw, that saved the house from being eaten. Yes, crazy… but another dog. That’s a long, long story about Sandy… a tail for another day…

Anyhoo… Casey now had Sandy, the floors were saved and I was officially the wiener dog mom. My favorite part of the day became evening after chore time, when the dogs would lay on the couch with me and just sleep — they were so relaxed, as if to say, “Thanks for making me feel safe.” Casey, smelling like a warm, stale Cheeto and Sandy snoring. No barking, no begging, no whining, no accidents, no spiteful pee spots on the floor because I didn’t give them a treat… just sleeping on the couch and keeping me warm. That’s my idea of a pet… the perfect image most of us have when contemplating the responsibility. It’s good, peaceful… but you can only sit and they can only sleep for so long and then reality returns and I have to pick up poop piles in the yard.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I came across this book called Oogy. I read it in a matter of hours and laughed and cried and then adopted another dog. Yes… Enter, Poupee. (No, it’s not like it looks… it’s pronounced Pooh Pay — which is French for Doll). In reading Oogy, I learned about pet rescue and adoption. I seriously had no idea how intense and pervasive this “thing” was. Impressive to say the least! There are LOTS of people out there who have earned their angel wings on Earth rescuing animals. Sadly, there are more animals than can be saved. But making a difference for one is a step for the good. I learned that Poupee’s “owners” could not take care of a puppy, so they were going to shoot her. I filled out an adoption application, had a phone interview with the foster mom and someone called the vet to make sure I’m a responsible dog owner. Wow — no one did that when I gave birth to my human children! So, I passed the test and nested. Poupee arrived in the middle of a January freeze spending about 25 hours in transport from Arkansas. It was so exciting! I was getting another dog… what, am I crazy? Yup! What the heck was I thinking?

Turns out, Poupee fit right in… loved having 2 sisters, trained easier and only chewed a couple pieces of furniture (that’s if you count the entire dining room table and chairs as ONE piece of furniture). Perhaps it was me who was being trained. Nevertheless… she cuddled with us on the couch… and was completely odorless. Her “thing” — being stingy. You don’t get a kiss from Poupee unless she really wants to give you one. Yet, I’m honored every morning when she wakes up and gives me a teeny, tiny lick to say, “Howdy maw…” She is from Arkansas, after all!

Not long after Poupee arrived, I started reading, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and then came Bertie from Mississippi. Indeed, dog number 4. Bertie’s mom was poisoned after giving birth to a large litter. Just how does one find the evil inside to do that? Bertie was the runt. All her sisters and brothers were adopted quickly — I guess people thought they were cuter. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… and Bertie was in mine. She arrived with fleas and every stomach problem you can think of. Trying to get her healthy and happy has been a long, draining challenge. But, for some reason it just doesn’t matter. She’s so uncomfortable inside her own body (she acts like a 4 pound purse and lap dog but is actually a 44 pound, uncoordinated, hyperactive, timid hunk of fur), that you can’t help but love her. And her eyes – behind the scared and sad – are so full of love that it’s overwhelming. Bertie, fills up the rest of the couch… and I’ve stopped reading books about dogs.