A Tale of Two Dogs

Chloe1Many of you will not know about my dog, Chloe. Chloe is a Papillon who came into my life in 2007. The former spousal unit and I got her as this tiny little puppy. She was full of the kind of energy that fuels puppies of all kinds and as you can see, she was incredibly adorable.

Chloe&Gizmo copy

Chloe and Gizmo

She joined the family shortly after Thanksgiving, if memory serves, and quickly made friends with the other creatures in the house especially with Gizmo, the other Papillon who came to us a couple of years earlier.

Chloe’s disposition was not unlike that of every other Papillon I’ve met, sweet and playful with a nearly complete lack of aggression toward anyone including other dogs. She and Gizmo were inseparable and they lived together harmoniously with a wide assortment of cats and parrots ever since.

ChloeSundress

Chloe, all grown up.

Unfortunately, I was informed late last week that Chloe was not well and was unlikely to recover. She spent a few days in the pet hospital receiving the best of care and her improvement was negligible. Even though she seems far too young to be at the end of her journey, it looks as though that’s the case.

DSC_0073 It breaks my heart to see such a sweet, delightful creature in such a condition. And even though I held her in my arms on Saturday and told her how much she meant to me, she’ll never really understand how much she contributed to my well being nor will she know how much love she gave me over the years I was fortunate enough to be in her world. Even though we’ve not lived in the same place for over five years, seeing her again and knowing that it was likely that I’d not see her again is devastating.

Goodbye, Chloe. You were everything every puppy ought to be.

Chloe2
Which brings me to the second dog in this tale, His Emmettship, Ruler of All Things Within Barking Distance. Most of you know him already from all the Facebook photos.

Emmett

I’ve done my best in the last couple of days to spend more time with Emmett — you know, concentrate on the living and all that. Emmett as you may recall had a tough life before he found us and has been growing and trusting us more and more.  Accepting affection from humans is something he’s still learning to do.

Emmett3He’s happy, healthy and hasn’t bitten me or anyone else in ages, which early on was a serious concern. In fact, last week, we actually roughhoused a little. I was scared to death that he’d lose sight of play and get too aggressive too fast. He did bite once a little too hard but he immediately backed off. From this one action alone, he’s demonstrated that he’s learned a great deal and that he clearly does not want to hurt us.

EmmettDriveThruEmmett loves to go in the car and if I ask him if he wants to go to the store, he hops around just like I would if I had won the Powerball. In the car, he’s relatively well behaved and if we’re going to the drive thru, he’s learning NOT to stick his head in the bag o’ food to see what’s there in spite of the wonderful aromas of freshly cooked fries. In return for his fine behavior, he gets to share a regular Mickey D’s burger, no onions, no pickle.   As we approach home, he dives out of the driver’s car door and heads toward the front door, with the occasional pit stop at a nearby piece of shrubbery.

If I play my cards right, Emmett and I have quite a few years left until the finishing touches are put on his story. Or mine. Now that Chloe is leaving us, the best thing I can do to remember her is to make that extra effort to love and cherish Emmett’s companionship to the best of my ability.

I still marvel at the ability of these creatures to impact our lives. Emmett, Chloe, Gizmo, Bella and all those preceding pups have found extra space in my heart in which to take up residence for good. And it’s my experience that there’s always room in there for one more.

DanEmmett

 

Cool Pictures That I’m In or That I Took

Here’s another in a series of posts I’m going to make when I find some of these treasures. Some will be captioned, others will not. The only criteria for posting in this series is that:

a.) I’m in the photo or…

b.) … I took the photo.

DachshundasaurusRex-Edit

Emmett captured while asking politely for a taste of dinner. I call this his Dachshundasaurus Rex pose because he’s got those T-Rex hands going on there.

 

TRB-2016-At-A-Glance

This is a panorama I took with my cell phone of the Transportation Research Board exhibit hall at their 95th annual meeting this week. Click on the photo to open at full resolution in a new tab.

 

Nate

The Nathanator, of course. He has a natural comfort in front of the camera that can’t be taught.

 

DanEmmett

Emmett and I take short road trips when we’re batchin’ it.

 

Dan-at-TRB

This is purported to be the only known photo of me working. Truth is, I was just talking with a friend. So no, there’s still no photo anywhere of me doing actual work.

Our Dog is a Jackass

Bella in her first days with us in 2013.

Bella in her first days with us in 2013.

You may remember that I wrote about Bella, our Dachshund, who was with us for a very short time. She was by far the sweetest, kindest, most gently affectionate dog in my memory. I never met a dog who was so insistent on violating the laws of physics by occupying the same physical space as you at the same time for as long as she could. Her untimely passing over a year ago was a huge blow to our family.

Emmett

His Emmettship, relaxing on the back of the couch.

Several months after Bella’s death, Emmett came to live with us. In appearance, Emmett was a carbon copy (another word for “duplicate” for those who may not know what a carbon copy is) of Bella, but in attitude he was Bella’s antithesis.

Emmett came to us after a month in foster care. His backstory, as I understand it, was that he was discovered abandoned in a single room with no food or water and was found after at least three days living like that. He was unusually aggressive, though good on a leash, but virtually untouchable. Petting him in those early days was not an option.

You could entice him with a treat or two, but any attempt at physical affection was greeted with the baring of sharp Dachshund teeth and vicious snarling. And I can tell you from personal experience that his bark was decidedly less severe than his bite. On more than one occasion, he sank his teeth up to his gums in my extremities demonstrating unequivocally the boundaries of his personal space.

His “personal space” was roughly the size of a football field.

Shortly after his arrival, I took him to the veterinarian for his new pet checkup. I was terrified how he might behave. He allowed me to hitch up his leash with no problem and hopped in the car willingly – he really loved to go for rides.

Once at the clinic, I checked in at the front desk and sat down. He wandered around on the leash for a bit and then came back and hopped up on the bench next to me, a rather panicked look in his eye and shedding profusely. I gather that the smells of the vet clinic were not new to him and his memory of previous visits spooked him badly.

He tried to climb up my chest and started licking my face and whining pitifully. I did my best to calm him and only after a while did he calm down enough to stop leaving scratch marks on my neck and face.

Once in the exam room, he was muzzled and the exam proceeded without incident. He even let me pick him up un-muzzled and behaved more like a dog and less like a feral beast.

He had actually improved a little in the days prior and his submission to the exam and subsequent friendliness was encouraging. So I took him to the pet store chain closest to me on his leash of course, to get food, toys and such. I was careful to keep him close and warned anyone who came close to stay away because he was not a good dog. Everything was going fine until one person who had been successfully feeding and petting him moments before touched his back unexpectedly and he nailed her hand.

Needless to say, I was horrified.

Home we went and we stayed. Emmett rarely left the house except for routine walks and the like. He still exhibited aggressive tendencies with all of us. I had zero faith that Emmett would be able to live in our home. I was afraid of him. Scared to death. Not just for me but particularly for Nate and Garrett who are less conscientious about how to behave around an aggressive household pet.

Emmett2But the lovely and talented Beth, who found Emmett on a pet adoption web site and fell immediately in love with him, was convinced that he could be rehabilitated and that he’d eventually be fine. Frankly, I thought she was nuts.

Of course, she was right.

He’s still aggressive towards people he doesn’t know which limits the places we can take him but with those of us he knows and trusts, he’s a completely different pup.

And he’s a complete slave to his routine.

In the evening, post dinner, he waits until I have finished the dishes, plopped down on the couch, put my feet up on the ottoman and opened my laptop before he approaches me. Then he sits up like a circus-trained dog and asks for his evening walk.

“Emmett, do you want to go potty? Do you want to go outside?”

He jumps up on my lap enthusiastically, licks my face furiously and whines excitedly. I take him downstairs, hitch him up and we go for our walk. Once we’ve returned from the walk, at some point in later the evening, he approaches me again, sits up like a circus-trained dog and demands the second event of the evening’s activities.

I am a diabetic and having a snack pre-bedtime helps regulate my overnight blood sugar, keeping it from getting way out of specification. (It’s still out of spec in the morning, but if I don’t have a snack, it’s WAY out of spec.) I started eating a small bowl of cereal before bed to help with this and it seemed to work well. I know – not the ideal snack, but hey, it works.

“Emmett, is it time for cereals?” (How that word became plural, I am not sure.)

Anyway, I go pour myself a small bowl, return to my seat in the living room and he sits upright and waits for me to feed him bites of cereal. And should I forget to let him lick the bowl, he gets apoplectic, stomps his feet and demands it. This all started as a way for me to establish and enhance my relationship with Emmett but now, of course, it’s a requirement. I have to feed him cereals even if I am not having any. It’s our ritual.

Here’s Emmett today – well, a couple of days ago.

Here’s Emmett today – well, a couple of days ago.

Since last week’s vet visit, he’s been particularly affectionate, hopping up next to me on the couch and snuggling in next to me for a quick nap. Occasionally he will crawl up on my lap and attempt to lick my face for no apparent reason at all. And last night before I went upstairs to bed, I picked him up, wrapped him in my arms and gave him a gentle hug for the first time. He responded with a gentle lick to my chin and actually seemed to welcome it.

I was wrong. Beth was right. (Yes, you have it in writing now, Beth.)

And while I still miss Bella, Emmett is my pal now. And Beth’s. And Nate’s and Garrett’s, too. He’s come a long way since those early days in our home. He’s calmed down, accepted us, learned to trust us and integrated himself into our routine.

He’s still completely untrustworthy around other people, though, and I’m terrified to take him to a dog park, though I know he needs more exercise. He tends to be overprotective of the boys when he’s outside with them, and he guards the house with unnecessary vigor. That’s why he’s still a jackass.

But finally after nearly a year, he’s our jackass.

2014 – An Even-Numbered Year

No, I suppose that’s not the best thing I can say about 2014. But it was the first thing to come to mind when I wanted to describe the year in a nutshell.

2014-logo-stock-market-forecast-predictions-goldman-sachs-gold-europe-japan-options-trading-technical-analysis-etf-educationThis past year was actually pretty decent as years go. It had its high points and it’s low points and a lot of points in between.

Sidebar: My Dad always used to say, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” I always parodied it as “The shortest line between two distances is a straight point” or something like that.   The straight point always made the mathematician in me giggle.)

This year marked my return to the world of the employed. I wrote about my first year at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center a while back.   In July, I unintentionally acquired the mission to coordinate a presidential visit to the Center. That turned out to be a huge shot in the arm both professionally and personally. I had not experienced any real successes for along time and successfully coordinating that visit was the kind of confidence builder that I didn’t know I really needed – but I did – much more than I’d thought. So for that opportunity, and for all of the great people at the Center and at the White House who contributed to that success, I am very, very grateful.

Emmett, biting an object that for a change isn't my arm.

Emmett, biting an object that for a change isn’t my arm.

We lost Bella and gained Emmett as our family dog. While in my mind, the jury’s still out on whether this is a good thing or not, in moments of clarity, I recognize that Emmett provides me with a little bit of calm quiet time when we go on our evening walks around the neighborhood.

Of course, when I come home from work in the evening, he’s at the top of the stairs wagging his tail like a garrison flag in a tornado, his teeth are often bared in an aggressive grimace that rivals that of a battle-readied Klingon, and he’s growling in a way that to the uninitiated would be a clear indicator for future avoidance.

Oh, he’s also licking my hand as fast as his tail is wagging. In between growls, there are squeals of either delight or constipation. But so far, he’s not pooped, so I’m going with delight.

He’s a canine nutcase. But we have a mutually beneficial relationship even though he’s bitten me on a couple of occasions. So Emmett, and you’ll only hear me say this once, I’m grateful for your presence in spite of that time you sank your teeth into my left forearm.

10711081_10204501114865980_4278450657355952218_nAnd to Beth Geyer, Mistress of the Universe and Supreme Leader of All She Observes, I am grateful for you, for finding Emmett, for believing in him when I didn’t and helping me find his inner sweetness. Really, REALLY inner. And not very sweet when you get right down to it.

Oh, and thank you for taking such good care of me, Nate and Garrett. You do good work and we all love you! And you’re really, really pretty too, which is a plus!

The Prius, some years ago.  It doesn't look much different today.

The Prius, some years ago. It doesn’t look much different today.

I’m grateful for my Toyota Prius. At over 205,000 miles, it’s going strong, in good mechanical shape and still fun to drive. It’s unexpectedly comforting to have a vehicle that is reliable, comfortable and fun to drive even if the technology under the hood is ten years old. Thanks, Toyota, for making such a terrific car. (I just noticed that I was grateful for the Prius last year because I paid it off. Well, at least I’m consistent about something.)

My brother, Jefferson, and his family at a German Ikea store which looks remarkably like the ones here in the U.S.

My brother, Jefferson, and his family at a life-changing German Ikea store which looks remarkably like the ones here in the U.S.

I’m grateful to the U.S. Army for a number of reasons, but the latest isn’t even something that affects me. Thanks for sending my brother, Jefferson and his magnificent family to live in Europe for a few years. I mention this because back in 1981, the Army sent me to Europe to live and it was an overwhelmingly positive, life-changing experience that I really do cherish to this very moment. I hope that for him and his family it is at the very least an equally positive experience.

Another sidebar: I admit I am more than a tad envious. I’d always wanted to go back for another permanent change of station to Europe. So I am grateful for the opportunity to hear about their experiences over there.

Here’s a quote from last year. It’s not like my social life has changed much at all, so this really still applies:

“I’m grateful to the online community for keeping me company when I can’t get out of the house, which is pretty much always. Thank you for entertaining me, engaging me and giving me an outlet for socialization even if it is virtual in nature. I recognize that you’re all real people on the other side of my screen, and I value your friendship, your candor and your confidence. I’m extra grateful that I DO get to see many of you in person from time to time. Thank you for being so welcoming and so supportive.”

I’m pretty sure I’m grateful for a ton of other things, but at this moment, I am too sleepy to write about ’em all. So for the moment, I’ll be particularly grateful for the opportunity to count my many blessings at the end of this very eventful and positive year and say thank you to all my friends for just being.  You all matter to me.

If I had to do 2014 over again, I’d do it with more comfortable shoes. Other than that, 2014…? You go in the “win” column!

Oh, and thanks for reading the stuff I post on this blog. It’s always a pleasure to interact with you even (especially!) when we don’t agree. Let’s make 2015 the year of cogent discourse!

And chocolate. Yeah, 2015 should have more chocolate.

Four Cool Pictures That I’m In or That I Took: Part 5

I stumble across all sorts of stuff in my archives, some of which has never seen the light of day.  Here’s #5 in a series of posts I’m going to make when I find some of these treasures.  Some will be captioned, others will not. The only criteria for posting in this series is that:

a.)  I’m in the photo or…

b.)  … I took the photo.

Nephew Andrew Kimes graduated from the Basic Parachutists Course at Fort Benning in the summer of 2003.  From left, me, Andy and Andy's mom and my sister, B.J.

Nephew Andrew Kimes graduated from the Basic Parachutists Course at Fort Benning in the summer of 2003. From left, me, Andy and Andy’s mom and my sister, B.J.

Garrett as Washington

Garrett and Nate visited Mount Vernon about a year or so ago and while we were there, I snapped this with my cell phone camera, dragged it into PhotoShop and aged the photo. (Garrett did not age abnormally from the process.)

Dan on TV

Me on television circa 1980 anchoring “Fort Gordon On The Move!” a weekly information program seen on tens of screens worldwide. 

Always loved this photo of Garrett and Nate being pursued by the late Bella.  They always loved to take Bella out for a romp in the back yard.

Always loved this photo of Garrett and Nate being pursued by the late Bella. They always loved to take Bella out for a romp in the back yard.

Bella

DSC_2277The initial sting and sorrow at losing our beloved Bella, the dachshund, on Friday has abated. And the house continues to seem unusually quiet. This probably stems from the lack of profanities being uttered as one of the occupants residing herein found a pile of puppy poop the hard way, if you know what I mean.

Many of you have followed her since we got her last year. Many of you don’t know the backstory of how she came to be such a huge part of our household and how she won our hearts. So for my own mental health and in an attempt to capture these memories, I’m going to tell you Bella’s story.

I was desperate.

Now that’s not something that’s really unusual for me. I’m desperate for a number of reasons, but just a year and a few weeks ago, I was really, REALLY desperate to come up with a birthday gift for the lovely, talented and buxom Beth Geyer, my dearest significant other. (And before you get all weird on me, she not only approves of the aforementioned description, some time ago she insisted on it and it stuck.) She had mentioned a few times that she was longing for a pet, namely a kitten.

I’m fine with cats. In fact, this is one of the few places I’ve lived in which I do not have a feline patrolling the premises. So I had been on the lookout for a kitten for a number of weeks, making it a point to hit up the PetSmarts and Petcos of the world in search of a small furry feline. I even scoped out the Prince William County animal shelter when I was in the area. But, as it was the tail end of winter, small kittens were in short supply.

I should have seen it coming. February 28, 2013 was upon me more quickly than I had anticipated, the invariable progress of time notwithstanding. Two days. I was down to two days and I was desperate.

I gathered Nate, the younger of Beth’s small humans, and departed for some such adventure, as was our routine in those days before permanent employment. Shortly after our departure, we found ourselves in the vicinity of the Prince William County Animal Shelter. I asked Nate if he wanted to stop in and he agreed.

Nate hadn’t been there before, but I had. So I knew where to guide him to have a look at the kittens and cats available for rescue. On our way past, I noticed a small cage sitting on the floor of the hall in which was a tiny brown furry creature of some sort. But since we were in search of a kitten, we both breezed past pretty quickly. Upon determining that there were no kittens that fit the bill, Nate and I turned around and headed back through the hall toward the kennels in which the dogs were housed.

There again on the floor of the hall was the same tiny brown furry creature but this time, it was facing us.

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Bella as we first encountered her.

It was a very tiny dachshund. In a very tiny cage.

I should mention that I’m a sucker for a hard luck cases. This poor little puppy practically defined the term. She was clearly frightened, dejected and not at all well. Nate and I bent closer to have a look at this pup and she scooted over toward us. After determining that this little dear heart wasn’t in a defensive mood, we moved in even closer and the puppy started sniffing and licking our fingers through the cage as puppies do.

I don’t remember if her tail was wagging at all or not. She was still confined to the small wire-framed kennel in which she’d just been surrendered and didn’t have much room to maneuver.

Just then, one of the shelter’s employees happened by and I stopped her and asked if we could pet the new arrival. She gladly obliged my request and let the puppy out of her kennel.

Nate, of course, was excited but having not been around pets at all very much, he didn’t know exactly how to behave. It was hilarious to watch Nate! It was a classic approach-avoidance scenario. He wanted so badly to interact with the puppy, but when she tried to hop up and lick his face or sit on his lap, he was alternately welcoming and terrified. The more he tried to get away from her, the more she’d try to get close to him. And the more she tried to get close to him the more he’d wriggle away, not sure just what to do about this small creature.

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Bella and Nate’s dance on day one.

I tried to tell him that the puppy wouldn’t hurt him — she just wanted to play with him. I instructed him to sit still and she’d come to him, but he wasn’t having any of that whatsoever! Their “I’m-going-to-get-you!-No,-you’re-not!” dance continued much to my delight.

This dance would define their relationship.

Here’s the big problem. This was a dachshund puppy. This was the one breed of dog that Beth mentioned as being her least favorite breed of dog. Not just that she didn’t like them. She specified that they were her least favorite.

Damn!

Seeing Nate’s alternating joy and slowly abating horror at the puppy in his presence, I started to think that this could seriously solve the birthday present problem, but there was great potential to create a longer-term issue of bringing home to Beth a pet that she’d dislike.

The words “least” and “favorite” kept buzzing around my head like annoying, biting flies.

I asked the shelter employee about her backstory? Why was she surrendered to the shelter? Where did she come from? The dog had been given the name Rosie. As I recall it now, Rosie had lived with someone who was at first provided a loving home. They had paper-trained her for peeing, but she hadn’t completed the housebreaking process and still pooped somewhat indiscriminately.

At some point, Rosie’s original owners had to go away on vacation or some such event that forced them to be away and made arrangements for a third party to care for her. This continued for some time and the people never came back to claim her. I don’t know why or how someone could do this to any living creature, but in the days and weeks following, Rosie had been essentially ignored. By the time she arrived at the shelter, she was horribly underweight, she had infections in both of her ears, and a number of skin lesions.

She was a mess.

Remember when I told you I was a sucker for hard luck cases? Here’s where it’s becomes relevant.

I could not allow this poor defenseless puppy to be placed into the general population of shelter dogs. Even if she were only there for an overnight, it was unthinkable for such a sweet, small, sick puppy to bear such a thing. You’ve been to those places. You know what it’s like. The dogs are often stressed to the breaking point just from being in a strange, uncomfortable kennel with other dogs. The yelping and howling of other shelter dogs would undoubtedly unnerve poor baby Rosie were she to enter the general population. She was far too fragile and far too sweet and Nate was far too engaged with her for me to allow that to happen.

So we rescued her.

$45, I think was the adoption fee and that included shots. The shelter was sure to explain the contractual obligation to have her spayed through the shelter when she was healthy enough to tolerate the surgery. $140 for the surgery. $30 for post-operative pain meds. No problem.

I recall the staff at the shelter being such wonderful people and made the process as easy and as stress free as it could be. I really was delighted with the process though I found myself terrified about bringing home a wiener dog to Beth. That’s ok. I was committed to taking the ass chewing, if necessary. But there was no way I could allow Rosie to suffer any more injustice at the hands of an overburdened animal control facility.

Nate and I dashed over to the closest ATM, which was just a minute down the road. We got the cash for the adoption fee, drove quickly back to the shelter and sealed the deal.

I took Rosie and Nate home. Beth had been napping that day and so after putting Rosie in the living room with Nate, I proceeded upstairs and gently woke Beth.

“Your birthday present is downstairs and wants to meet you.”

Bella and Beth, March 2014

Bella and Beth, March 2014

It was love at first sight. And I was thrilled at the reception Beth gave her. Beth was all smiles and so very affectionate with Rosie that any sense of “least favorite” was gone.

Rosie was home.

That afternoon, I took her to the local veterinary clinic to address her health issues. When I got to the clinic, there were a few larger dogs there and to keep her calm, I held her close and rocked her gently from side to side as anyone who’s ever had children does almost instinctively. She snoozed a little, trembling at the loud noises but settling back into my arms with a relieved sigh when the immediate threat was gone.

After a long wait, we were escorted into the treatment room, she was examined and determined to be the mess I thought she was:

“Thank you for bringing Rosie in to see us today. She is such a sweet little lady and did great for her exam. We are sending home medication to treat Rosie’s skin and ears. Please monitor the mass on Rosie’s side for any change in size or character. If the mass hasn’t resolved in the next 4-6 weeks or were to increase in size we would recommend rechecking it.”

They gave me three prescriptions, a long list of instructions and some gentle shampoo for her skin.

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Bella in her usual state.

By the time I got home, Garrett, the older of Beth’s boys, arrived home from school and greeted his new family member enthusiastically. The boys played with her, and Beth cuddled her. From that moment on and for the year or so she was with us, there wasn’t a moment that Rosie, who got the name Bella after a day or two, wasn’t engaged with one of her human family.

Bella in the dog nest.

Bella in the dog nest.

When Garrett woke up in the morning, Bella would stay with him on the couch watching cartoons snuggled up close by until it was time to go to school. Garrett would often say that Bella was in her dog nest when they were cuddling together. When Nate darted downstairs and around the house, Bella would chase him and growl at him playfully, reinvigorating the dance they’d started on the floor of the hall in the shelter the day they met. She’d grab at his pant legs and hang on for dear life. We always said that Nate was Bella’s own personal chew toy and Bella would never pass up a moment to engage him in raucous play. During the day, Beth and Bella would snuggle up and read or watch TV. Bella would accompany Beth around the house when she was doing housework. Rarely was Bella out of sight from at least one of us. And at night, Bella would demand to lick my face as we watched TV together, and after repeated refusals, would finally settle for falling asleep on my outstretched legs.

I’m out of words now. Writing this has made me laugh. It’s also made me sob. I miss Bella terribly. She spent all of 379 days in our world and I can’t remember a day in which her little brown face didn’t enrich me in some way.

379 days. How can someone so small who was with us for such a short time have affected our family and me so profoundly? I have no explanation nor am I really interested to find out. All I know is that I miss her. And as I move about the house, I’m filled with reminders of her presence. The baby gates that kept her and the carpets upstairs safe are gone. Her bowls are washed and stored away, her puppy food no longer nearby. Bella’s dog toys no longer adorn the living room floor. The dog spit she chose to deposit on my face with her boundless affection has been replaced with my tears.

Goodbye, sweet puppy. You made a difference in my life.

BellaSnoozing copy

Bella exhibiting her strong snoozing game.

Bella's paw print.

Bella’s paw print.

A Snowy Tail

In honor of all the cold, snowy, crappy weather we’ve experienced this week, here’s a rerun from a similar time in 2009.

Last night, around 7-ish, I believe it was, I took the initiative and got the dogs rounded up to go outside for a potty break. Since Gizmo’s paralysis two summers ago, it’s been recommended by the veterinarian that he wear a jacket outside in the coldest weather to help keep his back comfortable. So I’ve been doing that, having discovered that it also prevents snow from accumulating on his undercarriage. Since I discovered this undocumented feature of dressing the dogs for the out of doors, I have complied because it makes my life far easier than before.

Even the rescue pup, Charlie, is reluctantly willing to don a jacket, though it’s still a challenge to get him to step into the arm holes on cue!

Once all three are adorned with their respective jackets, we proceed outside into the 18-plus inches of snow in the hope that they’ll be cued to do the dog thing.

Chloe begins by hopping about bunny style. Charlie actually starts to frolic, then catches himself and stops. I swear if he’d just relax and let himself go, he’d be a very happy pooch! Gizmo starts wandering and dashing about, trying to burn off some of the pent up energy of having been under house arrest all day. He wanders off down the street and finds a suitable place to eliminate and does so — the only dog to have a clue regarding our most sacred mission! Then he dashes back toward me about 20 feet and stops.

He’s maneuvering around in a rut in the snow about 18 inches deep presumably made by our neighbor Bill’s truck awhile earlier. So it’s kind of like being in a maze in which the direction of travel is limited to two directions: toward me and away from me.

Naturally he chooses the away-from-me path and takes off like a rocket.

Initially, I am not too worried figuring he won’t go that far, so I advance and collect the leftovers in the appropriate bag and proceed to follow Gizmo. By now, he is easily off the side street and on a street that will be one of the first to be plowed, meaning there’s a slight potential for motor vehicle traffic. He’s still in the rut, running like he’s being chased, but he isn’t because I am standing there in the dark, cold night, hands on my hips trying to get Gizmo’s attention.

No such luck.

Since this IS a relatively major thoroughfare, it occurs to me that an oncoming plow, four-wheel drive truck or any other vehicle will be hard pressed to see a black and white dog running in the dark at warp speed in a rut that’s just a few inches taller than him.

It is then that I make a command decision. Now is an appropriate time to panic.

I take off running after him calling his name and he ignores me like a hot woman at a cocktail party. All I see is his little doggie butt and his little doggie elbows as he beats little doggie feet away from me. Now I am REALLY starting to panic, so I start running after him and hollering at him trying to make him stop. I’d have had better luck commanding the snow to stop.

Now he’s down to the next intersection and I hear laughter from my right. I glance over and there’s a gentleman shoveling the snow from his driveway. He’s decidedly amused at my race after Gizmo. I suspect that about all he could see of Gizmo was a wisp of white, fluffy tail moving like a snow shark against the subdued lighting of the night, being hotly pursued by a rather panicked human.

It had to be hilarious.

Finally, Gizmo stops, then teases me with one more short dash away, then comes back toward me, all smiles and panting like… well, like a dog. He’s safe.

I don’t have a leash with me so I cajole him and herd him and ask him and tell him and… Anything to get him to head toward home. But he’s had enough and is ready to go home on his own, so he again takes off leaving me in the snow to find my own way home.

When I get there a short while later, he’s nosing around Bill’s house looking for their dog, Blaze, to come out and join the fun. But Blaze isn’t to be found, so he’s wandering aimlessly about. Once I catch up to him, he’s still a little reluctant to go in, so I have to lure him in with the promise of food.

But first, I’ll try the straightforward approach.

“Gizmo! Let’s go home, come on!”

Nothing. He doesn’t even acknowledge me.

“Gizmo,” I say sternly, “let’s go, NOW!”

Nope. I do not exist from his perspective. So next, I try the bribe.

“Gizmo, do you want a treat?”

That stops him as he weighs his options. But since dogs have higher clock speeds than we mere humans, he decides in a flash that nope, this is not worth giving up for a mere treat.

I sigh. I want to go in. I started to sweat during the 100 yard dash to capture Gizmo, and I am starting to get cold.

“OK, Gizmo,” I say. “How about dinner? Do you want some dinner?”

He stops dead in his tracks and spins his head toward me, ears erect and definitely paying attention. After all, I said the “D” word!

“Gizmo, do you have rumbly in your tumbly?”

Yeah, that’s a little embarrassing to say in public. But the neighborhood is covered with at least 18 inches of snow, and no one’s there but me and Gizmo, so it’s worth the risk. And he knows precisely what this means. I say it again.

“Gizmo, do you have rumbly in your tumbly?”

I think he was just waiting for me to confirm what he thought he heard the first time. At the second mention of the “rumbly in the tumbly,” he starts making his way toward me, indicating that dinner is, in fact, an adequate motivation to end his front yard romp in the snow. He hops off the curb and starts making his way toward me and the house, but of course, he’s up to his chin in snow. So he’s having a tough time.

“Gizmo, do you need some help?”

He stops struggling, straightens himself so I can pick him up, and I relocate him from the snow drift to another rut where he can maneuver just fine. At this point, he’s ready. He shakes the excess snow from his body and heads off toward the front door and to the warmth of the living room and his bed.

I follow him in, finally relieved that he’s out of danger. Then I realize it. I have rumbly in my tumbly, too. Yep, food is a more than adequate motivation to come in from the cold.

I just hope we’re not having the same thing for dinner.

Gizmo, as a young pup

Gizmo, as a young pup

Rescuing Charlie

charlie4sIt’s been awhile since I posted about Charlie. It damn near slipped my mind that today he’s been living here for precisely one year. He’s come a long way, though he still exhibits the characteristics of an abused and neglected dog.

A few months ago, his breath started smelling really foul again, indicating that his remaining teeth were decaying fast. So off to the veterinarian he went to have a look. According to the vet, yes, some of his remaining seven teeth would have to be removed, but she didn’t know how many until they got in there and had a look around whilst he was under anesthesia.

A week or two later, he goes in with seven teeth and comes out with none. All of his remaining teeth had to go. Just broke my heart to hear that.

But he adjusted rapidly — far more so than I would have expected. He’s back to his normal, timid self, but he’s definitely not in any pain. Nor is he experiencing any difficulty eating. Most dogs swallow their food whole anyway, so it was expected to have minimal impact.

The only side effect from his lack of dental stature is that his tongue hangs out the side of his mouth when he’s not paying attention, which is most of the time:

charlie5s

Other than that, he’s really doing well, considering his origin. He’s still timid around loud noises and barks far too often at trivial things. But his meds have helped a little, and I have high hopes that they will help in the long run.

He’s such a dear, sweet guy and I am delighted that he’s done so well in his first year here. So Happy “Birthday” Charlie!

Good boy!

*scratch, scratch*

charlie6s