WANTED: The Perfect Adopter

WANTED: one adopter. Must be a long-distance runner or hiker or have a securely fenced, large yard. Must be a patient person with a good sense of humor. Must be smart and not intimidated by a smarter dog. Must be creative and willing to adapt to my needs. Must not be a person who is overly attached to their belongings and/or is a neatnik and never leaves valuable items lying about. Must be kind and understanding and willing to accept that we all have our own histories, habits, and hang ups. Must be a one-dog kind of person. Must be allergic to cats (okay, maybe not allergic just not inclined to ever own a cat). Proclivity for road trips and adventures, a plus. Adopter should be looking for a dog who not only provides excellent and enthusiastic company, but also personal protective services. Lifetime commitment required.

That’s the ad that Gala would have me place. We discussed it on our long run this morning.

This dog.

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She is breaking my heart. Continue reading WANTED: The Perfect Adopter

Rescue Work Overload & the Difference a little Trust Can Make

Every now and again, the dog-thing gets a bit overwhelming. This weekend was one of those times. It makes me pause and wonder if I’m doing too much, asking too much of my family, my own pets, my own heart.

It’s so easy to anthropomorphize dogs. (I toss that big word out there as if I didn’t have to look up the spelling and be sure I was using it correctly. It means to attribute human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, plants, and animals.)

We imagine we know a dog’s motives, emotions. We think we can read its expressions, sense its moods, understand why it responds the way it does, even interpret its feelings. (I’ve been anthropomorphizing Gracie for years — but who knows what really goes through that little head of hers.)

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This week confirmed for me once again that dogs, like people, are mysteries. It is nearly impossible to know another person’s heart, let alone a dog’s, and twice as easy to imagine that we do. We assume based on our own experiences and bias, but in reality we’re wrong as much as we’re blessed with a lucky guess or two.

Yesterday morning, for the first time in weeks, Gala and Darlin’ had a nasty fight. Continue reading Rescue Work Overload & the Difference a little Trust Can Make

A Visual Tour of Nelson, One-of-a-Kind Dog

Our latest foster dog is one interesting canine. He is a hodge-podge of dog parts, scrambled together to create complete adorableness. Today I’m going to take you on a visual tour of Nelson.

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Nelson is listed as a 2-year-old heeler mix. That description is a bit misleading, but it’s the official line, so we’ll go with it.

First off, Nelson is not a heeler. Sure, he’s got gorgeous heeler coloring, but in so far as heelers are energetic, semi-neurotic, herding dogs, Nelson is none of those things.

Energetic is not a word I’d use to describe Nelson. He’s very ‘chill’ as my daughter says. He has a happy little jaunt and is perfectly pleasant on a leash, but the most energy I’ve seen him call up is when we pass the fox den at the top of our pasture. He would very much like to climb right down the hole and visit with the fox family (and he’d probably fit). I have to drag him away from the hole each time we pass it.

Neurotic, also is not a word I would use to describe Nelson. He is super easy-going, gets along with the other dogs, and while curious about the cats, he can’t be bothered to make a big effort to chase them. He spends his days lounging nearby and doesn’t even bark at the UPS guy (despite Gracie’s theatrical performance of “kill-the-guy-in-the-brown-suit” which she stages every time the big truck lumbers up the driveway).

As far as herding, well, although Nelson likes to be with people, he certainly isn’t going to nip at your heels and collect all the people in one place. He doesn’t even cast a second glance at the horses when we walk by them and only feigns a passing interest in the chickens (mostly because Darlin’ gets so excited at the sight of them).

So, let’s assume the heeler label is in name only as a nod to his awesome markings.

Speaking of markings, let the visual tour begin. Continue reading A Visual Tour of Nelson, One-of-a-Kind Dog

The Grave Consequences of Being a Slow Learner

I’ve fallen down a lot over the past year and a half while we’ve been fostering dogs. I’m talking about physically falling down, though certainly I’ve mentally and emotionally taken my tumbles.

Carla was the first to knock me over when she darted in front of me while we were running. A 75-pound coonhound is not something you can hop over, so instead she took me out like a football player making a clean block. Luckily (for me) she broke my fall. I only suffered a few scratches and started running with a longer leash so the next time she’d have the leash length to clear me if she happened to notice a squirrel on my opposite side.

Then Frank pulled me over twice. Frank wasn’t huge, but he was 50+ pounds of solid muscle. When he slipped into the chicken pen as I was closing the gate, I chased after him and stupidly grabbed his collar while he was in full flight. You can imagine the rest. A skinned elbow and bruised knee were my penance for my bad decision. (Frank didn’t get a chicken, though, so perhaps it was worth it.)

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The second time I was walking down our steep hill in smooth-soled shoes and my feet slid out from under me. I’m not sure he had anything to do with that fall other than happening to be on the other end of the leash when I clumsily lost my footing. The result of that fall was only a few grass stains.

DSC_9923Tennessee took me out while running. He had been the perfect running companion, incredibly obedient and sticking close to my side for weeks. Until something behind us startled him and he slammed into me in his panic and sent me sprawling. I ended up with two skinned knees and one skinned palm on that one.

After that I had a long run of not falling over, nearly a year and then Whoopie yanked me over when her bloodhound nose picked up the scent of a cat and I couldn’t keep up. I did a lovely belly flop on the grass, but was no worse for wear.

And then this past Monday night, I hit the ground again, only this time I didn’t get up. I was walking Bambi and Lucy at the same time in wet grass, in the dark, in sandals, down the hill. So, you can already see all the mistakes I made going into this. The two of them both lunged forward at the same time and I’m not even sure why. I think Bambi was only excited, as she is a puppy, and I believe Lucy, who is not a puppy but has a puppy-spirit simply joined in the fun. Continue reading The Grave Consequences of Being a Slow Learner

Hound Dog Workout for One

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Hound dogs drool, but you probably knew that. I did, too. But did you know that when the drool starts to reach the floor, that’s the cue to do the shake?

What’s the shake, you ask?

It’s when the hound dog flings her head back and forth, batting herself with her mile-long ears, her face literally smacking her face, and flinging dog drool over anyone in the vicinity.

To be fair, Whoopi really only seriously drools when she drinks water. So, we’ve taken to watering her on the porch. Better for all of us because who wants to step her bare foot in a slippery pile of dog drool? (trust me on this one)

Hound dogs also bay. Like seriously loud. Ian says that when Whoopi is really barking he can feel it in his chest.

Ian and Whoopi have been spending a lot of time together. This is because he is the only person in the house large enough and strong enough to walk Whoopi on our property without great personal risk. (Ian is only 13, but he is 6 foot, 180 pounds of shot-put tossing muscle.)

As I’ve explained before, we live on a hill. Six acres of lovely countryside, but not a level spot of ground anywhere. Walking up the hill with Whoopi is nice. She is a sturdy tow-rope and it’s fairly easy going. Walking back down is another story. Once she has momentum on her side, I’m a goner. I stumble/run/ski along behind her like some kind of looney-tunes character, yelling “whoa” and pulling with both arms.

Walking both ever-enthusiastic Ginger (who is still here!) and Whoopi together is a silly idea.

I know this and yet this morning in a momentary loss of sanity, I decided that I’d take them both for a three mile jaunt up the road and back. Continue reading Hound Dog Workout for One