Dogs

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.

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Parvo

Dushi I’m trying to save a life. Well… technically, the doctors are doing that… but I’m the middleman. Let me back up. Several weeks ago, I learned that my ex-husband had died. I really didn’t think it would upset me as much as it did… but it did. I went to Facebook looking for information – something to connect me to him, his life, and his death and the many years between us. I read posts and comments… nothing really gave me what I needed. I read his obituary and a story about some things lost at the funeral home. It was surreal. I kept searching. I started looking at friends pages that had some connection to him and noticed a post on my friend Rona’s wall about puppies in need of a foster — Aruban puppies or Cunucu dogs as they are known. You see, I used to live in Aruba and married an Aruban man – the one who died. We had a beautiful daughter — but not together. I left him when I was six months pregnant because he was a cocaine addict. Not important now — but the point is I had our daughter alone. It made me stronger.
Something about the faces of those puppies on Rona’s wall — they barked at me. I felt like I had to act. Coincidence is for cowards. I commented to her post — “If you can get them to the US, I’ll take them.” Fully thinking it would be IMPOSSIBLE — it turns out, they arrived on July 6th at Logan airport. I was totally not ready for it — but would never back down. Turns out there’s this whole Aruba to US adoption thing that goes on. I had no clue. Fortunately Rona and some other very good people (Ewald, Inge, Kathy, vet) all helped in some way or another with time, love, money, etc.) got the puppies cleared for transport to me. Still, I was going through the motions on the one hand and falling in love on the other. I figured, they’d be adopted by good families, and I would keep tabs on them as the years passed. Besides, I’m already “mom” to four dogs… there’s no more room at the inn. So — take 3 Aruban puppies in… find homes… easy — right? Not really. Let me take a sidebar here — I’m often criticized and punished for (what I perceive as) doing good deeds. I was terrified to tell my 19 year old daughter about the fostering. Didn’t tell my parents either. Finally, I told my 19 year old – who lost it! I still don’t know why. I was trying to find out information about her dad that led me to this whole thing in the first place. Then my parents found out via a mutual Facebook friend… They seemed to understand or perhaps tolerate what I was doing. Yet, secretly they probably disagree with my actions. My 8 year old was thrilled and begged to keep one… and some said, “You’re a good person.”
The pups arrived — all were so well behaved and seemed very healthy. They were bathed, de-ticked, de-fleaed, fed and introduced to our current entourage of dogs. All were pretty happy. It went surprisingly well. The next day, my cousin adopted one of the pups… God bless Kelly! She is amazing with animals. This pup (named ‘Ruba, now called Ruby) is in very good hands. The other two were with us for 2 nights and I was subsequently smitten. It went downhill. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever… Oh crap! I dashed them to the vet and found that one had terrible blood levels, some parasites. Medicine, vitamins, minerals and $500 later, things seemed to be back on track. Then, the kaka hit the fan. One of the pups started to decline. Rushed (again) to the vet and then to a 24 hour vet hospital (they have those you know!)… PARVO…. you don’t EVER want to hear that word. It’s like cancer in some ways. It could be a death sentence for puppies. IVs were started, prognosis was given… a deposit was made and I handed over “my baby” to strangers who promised to do all they could to get her better. Her name, by the way, is Dushi. It means “sweet” — and she is. Very sweet. She also has ehrlichia — that’s a double whammy. If she survives it will be a miracle. Maybe I’m subconsciously trying to save my ex-husband. Maybe I just can’t let an innocent puppy — found in a dump who was surviving by eating dirt — die. So… what do I want… ? What I want is for Dushi to survive and live a long spoiled rotten life on my couch along with her sister, Pica and our 4 other dogs. Yes, that will make six. I don’t give a crap. What I also want is for people to understand that sometimes, just sometimes, you have to do this stuff… care… give a shit about things. Maybe someday Dushi will save my life. Maybe she’ll just give me kisses and make me happy. In a way… that just may save my life. I also wish to win the lottery to pay the vet bills… but if I don’t, I don’t care… I’d still do what I’m doing.