Rain Man Walking

With a break in the hair-raising humidity and torrential rains,  I sat out on the back patio after work to soak up some vitamin D and watch the boys play, which to me was heartwarming to see them playing so well, though the sound is certainly not for the faint-hearted.  After dinner I figured we’d settle in for some couch potato-ing but seeing them being so good and knowing that they’d enjoy it, I decided to take them each for a walk around the neighborhood.

Julius and I went out first and strolled down the streets I rarely get to walk on.  He is easy and our walk was silent and companionable.  He’s been rocking his Halti instead of his harness and it has been a game changer.  Juli is always good in his harness-don’t get me wrong- but the Halti like I said was a game changer.  He still rubs his head on my legs occasionally but there were several times I had to look to see if he was still with me because the slackness in the leash was so alarming…and gratifying.

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My Rockstar.

I love that we are getting to such a good place and that we can enjoy the quiet companionship together.

Awaiting me at home was Ray with his soft, hopeful eyes and his bouncy-cow hop.  Ray is normally fine just wearing a martingale collar for walks but Julius and I had seen Daisy, a neighbor’s dog, lounging off leash in her yard and since the said yard is on Ray’s walking route, we opted for the Freedom harness for Ray just in case we needed some extra control.

Ray is like the Rain Man on walks; he has a certain route and routine that must be strictly adhered to unless he decides it doesn’t.  Normally, we depart the driveway and make a beeline across the street to the lamp-post to leave some pee-mail.  We then recross the street and skim along our side yard to the neighbor behind us where we (Ray) pees on her corner lamp post, and continues to the American Bulldog’s house to …do more than pee.  We then retrace our steps back and walk around the next block, up the street and around the corner…past Daisy’s house.

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“The Look” gets me every time.

Tonight I’d like to sincerely thank the neighbor with the “doodle” puppy.  As Ray was preparing his poo spot I noticed they were walking toward us but still a good distance away yet also in the exact direction my Rain Man and I would be heading.  I knew the possibility of Ray losing his shit reacting to the puppy if it were coming head on toward us was a real possibility.  The next few minutes stretched on as I fumbled for a poop bag and scooped up after Ray all the while throwing furtive glances to the approaching pair trying to will them to turn away and still remain calm so that Ray wouldn’t pick up on my mood.  I began regaling him with the temptation of yummy treats in order to lure him in another direction while he stood, glancing between his suddenly crazy mom who wanted to go the wrong way and the approaching puppy.  The neighbor (thank goodness) realized what I was doing and slowed her approach and indicated the direction she needed to take to get home.  I ended up luring Ray to a yard to partake of some yummy snacks while the lady carried her doodle past us, “I don’t want him to slip his collar” she said with a smile, passing us by as if the entire interaction was completely normal. It was truly a nice change from “It’s ok…my dog is friendly” people.

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“Woooo, I say.”

As we continued on Ray’s favorite path and headed up the street towards where I knew Daisy was lying out on her driveway, my mind continued to spin thinking of ways to try to cajole my stubborn dog to make a detour I heard the sweetest sound.  Daisy’s “dad” had just turned on a dreaded leaf-blower.  Ray stopped and looked at me…”Let’s go this way,” I said, pointing in the opposite direction.  As we approached our house from the wrong direction and doubled back to another pee-mail location, I took a moment to bask in the warm glow of the realization that Ray trusts me to keep him safe from things like doodle puppies, leaf blowers and other random items of lawn equipment.  For that he earned a nice slice of dried sweet potato.

How does your dog let you know that you’re earning doggie thumbs up?

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Margeaux

Three days. 

 When I walked you out of the shelter on a Wednesday, I believed that you would be adopted three days later at our adoption event. Apparently you and the Grand Scheme had other plans since you remained a Peaceabull for eight weeks before your family found you. We had a few applications which went down in flames and left me scratching my head in confusion; dogs that look like you get snapped up very quickly.

 

On your second day at the Assembly, you and Julius had a Peaceabull parallel walk followed by pictures in the back yard which lead to quite the big brother/little sister relationship. How could we have anticipated that while Julius was your special friend, all other comers would pale in comparison? Maybe it was his cool, aloof air that drew you to him. You’d prance and spin in front of him attempting to get him to play and on the rare occasions that he’d engage, he would invite you to chase him around the yard. I believe each time you “caught” him it was because he gave you some leeway as a big brother might do, but you were proud to catch him in all of is gazelle-like speed.


 

Your unshakable certainty that all humans were put in your path specifically to love, be loved (and slimed) by you was one of the facets of your personality that initially drew me to you. Being in a shelter did not inhibit your effervescence and your kind, forgiving spirit glowed in your soft brown eyes. Evenings I’d spend some one on one time with you and gently cup your big head and gaze into those loving eyes, I’d whisper into your nubby ears that you’ll always be my baby girl and I love you with all my heart. I’d promise to find you the best, most loving home just as you deserve. I’d bury a vow in your neck that you’ll always have a home with us if you ever need it, but a better one of your own is out there waiting for you and I would find it for you.

 

My resolve waivered often; I wanted to keep you so I could have my own little piggy-girl to take out in public and shop with. You were the perfect car companion. You LOVE car rides. Remember the East Coast trip we shared? You hopped (ok, lumbered) into the back seat and promptly set out to snoring as I drove along the stretches of highway. The funny thing about that trip was that while you were such a good rider, I still had the impression that you felt like you were going to be abandoned somewhere along the route. Is that what happened to you so many months ago? Were you bred and dumped when your perceived usefulness was done? We bonded on that trip; our all girl road trip was one that I’ll always remember with fondness. When we returned you went on a few more meet and greets which never really panned out and each time you returned my heart soared just a bit and then constricted at my selfish thought. 

You loved us, of that I am sure. You loved your circumstances because you’re a girl of simple needs; two meals a day at your regular time, a bedtime snack, lullabies on Alexa at night and children’s music by day, a soft bed, fuzzy blankets and a few chew toys all made you happy. “Go to your room!” always found you waddling into the office where you spent so much time behind a baby gate and yet, you didn’t seem to mind one bit. You and Ray-Ray would gaze at each other and I have a feeling you would have become best friends eventually, but your family found you.

 

That they are your family I was always sure, even though I briefly tried to talk myself out of that notion. But they are yours. They love you and you love them, as it should be. As I loaded your belongings into the van, you didn’t seem sad or uneasy. In fact, you seemed to know. I was a wreck and I tearfully told Kevin that if this meet and greet didn’t work out and you came back, you would never leave again. In his manly (tearful) way, he agreed. I didn’t know if I could do it, didn’t know if I could let you go and leave you but when we arrived, I just knew. This was your home and your family had indeed found you. After overstaying my welcome and reiterating all of your likes and dislikes way too many times, I scooted out the door and you were so entranced with your very own human boy that you hardly noticed my departure. In the van, the van I figured I’d be crying my eyes out in, I felt nothing but peace and joy. I’d found your family and I had no qualms about the match. My little piggy, my Margeaux in the morning, my little love…the little foster dog who touched the hearts of so many and ignited a movement on Facebook in just 8 weeks and has now moved on to her forever home just as it should be. 

Remember you are loved.

 

Foster Flip-Flop

As the person who approves the adoption applications for our rescue, sets up and often does the meet and greets, I have a confession to make.  I get annoyed with fosters who get so attached that they make it harder for a dog to transition.  Granted, it doesn’t happen every time  but often enough that I’ve rolled my eyes a time or two.  Other than Margeaux, my longest foster(s) were the Sugar family; Sugar Marie and her litter of seven puppies. As much as I loved the puppies, by the time they were ready for adoption I was ready for them to go.  They lived in our finished basement which meant each time they needed to go outside we were transporting baskets of puppies up stairs, through the house and out to the back.  And then back to the basement.  Other than that, we’ve had guests for a night or two, but not much more.

I pulled Margeaux on a Wednesday knowing we had an adoption event on Saturday so I assumed she would be a three-day foster. Here we are now seven weeks later and with no open applications on her accompanied by lots of pressure from her Facebook fans for us to adopt her. Believe me, we’ve talked non-stop about the pros and cons of officially adopting Miss Piggy and while she is welcome to stay here as long as it takes for her to find a home and we haven’t completely ruled out being that home, we truly believe there is a better situation out there for her.

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So the Great Debate regarding Margeaux first and foremost begins with Ray.  Nearly two years ago Ray underwent a TTA surgery on his rear left leg and he will likely need a double surgery on his rear right leg this year.  Not only might he need a TTA surgery, but we’ve always known he may need to have a luxating patella repaired as well.  Margeaux requires very little time and attention but to decrease the availability of that wouldn’t be fair to her.  Furthermore, Ray is not a good patient.  His extreme anxiety dictates so much of how we live our lives that if Margeaux wasn’t completely integrated by then I fear she would suffer the lack of companionship and while she and Ray have parallel walked, they have not physically met yet.

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Then there is Julius.  Because Julius and Margeaux had such a successful meeting I became convinced that Margeaux was super dog friendly which has proven to not be the case.  Julius and Margeaux walked then proceeded to the back yard for pictures.  After the pictures were done, Julius in his Joe-cool-chicks-dig-me way, walked away from Margeaux and she has spent the following six and a half weeks trying to gain Juli’s attention. To say he’s fairly noncommittal about her would be an understatement.  He likes being in the yard with her as long as she doesn’t actually try to interact with him. When I was in my teens, my sister who is six years younger than I, used to sit outside my closed bedroom door hoping to hang out with me.  Sometimes I’d magnanimously allow her to enter as long as she followed the rules.  The rules were that she could sit in one small designated spot with her hands folded in her lap, not touch anything and not speak.  I see a lot of these rules in play as they apply to Julius and his little adoring foster sister.

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As much as we love her and as the debate rages on, we steadfastly tell ourselves that we are her foster family and as such we are doing our best to prepare her to transition her forever home.

Meet Margeaux

A couple of weeks ago, I did something I rarely do, but when I do it, it’s for someone special.  Often while working in a different town, I try to visit the local shelter and on this particular instance, I knew that there was a special dog in house.  I had seen Margeaux when the Executive Director of this shelter had posted her on the page of a private group.  She was special and the hope was that a friend or someone “in the biz” would adopt her. While I wasn’t in the market for a third dog, nor am I the intake person of our rescue, I couldn’t leave without her.  We had an adoption event just a few days following and I figured she would be gone by the end of the weekend.

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Here we are two and a half weeks later enjoying the company of a very special and happy house guest.  While she could probably walk right under Julius, she only weighs about 10 pounds less than he and Ray. She is quite the little piggy and snorts like one as well. She’s never met a stranger and truly believes all humans are set on Earth just to adore her, with our family being no exception.

If you follow either me personally or the boys on Facebook, you’ll have seen my Margeaux in the morning posts and undoubtedly seen the numerous declarations that we should keep her.  While it isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility it isn’t a done deal either.  After two and a half weeks, she and Ray have still not met.  They have seen each other but haven’t yet even taken a parallel walk.  While this separation is happening, we have learned to gate and rotate like pros.  Margeaux lives in the office behind a baby gate.  At the end of that hallway is a folding divider gate.  There is another wooden gate that we move to suit our needs and basically is just propped against whatever wall we need.  Ray is usually behind that gate and in his x-pen which he uses as his crate or safe zone and he is becoming more and more curious to meet the little foster gal.  I believe her family is out there waiting for her and I will definitely make sure she goes to the best home possible, so stay tuned to see more about Margeaux.

 

My Happy Place

Two years ago this month, I had an epiphany and I found my happy place and while I’m not ready to make the move yet, I have no doubt that we will try really to “end up” there.  In the meantime, I’ve had a not so secret obsession with not only the V dogs but with some dogs related to them as well and I’ve been squirreling away online auction winnings and such in the hopes that I’d one day get around to displaying my growing collection.  With the cold winter and the empty office walls, we’ve finally made some headway.

First, on the side wall is a shot I took from the sanctuary.  If I was more talented, this shot would be better, but for now I can look at it and be transported.

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The glare is from my phone.

On the wall above the desk, I gave a sneak peek on Facebook as to what was in the works and now that both Kevin and I had the time to devote to it, I’d love to share our still-in-process-but-kind-of-finished wall.  I say it’s a work in process because there are a couple of other dogs I’d like to add.

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My Wall of Fame

Here’s the overview above from left to right Handsome Dan pawtographed print, Oscar’s paw print, Little Red’s pawtographed print in her “I’m with Handsome” shirt, Jonny Justice Gund plush, below him is a selfie(!) of me and Ray, next is a pawtographed print of Cherry and to the right of him is a pawtographed print of  Halle.  Above Cherry I have my pawtographed print of Wallace who wasn’t a V* dog but who did overcome some great obstacles to shine on his own as well as the brother of Hector.

I love my prints and hope to add to my collection but in the back of my mind I feel there will be a time where I will be able to “give back” by re-donating my collection to help other Pit Bull type dogs in need.  It just won’t be any time soon, as I’m enjoying these too much.

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*True geeks know that only the 22 dogs who went to Best Friends are referred to as the “Vicktory Dogs.”

October is Pit Bull Awareness Month

I can’t say that I’m any more aware of Pit Bulls or Pit Bull type dogs in October than I am during any other month, and I’m not big into celebrating things just because someone tells me to but would rather celebrate little things with my guys just because.  That isn’t to say that I don’t love the idea of a month dedicated just for the block heads.  I think they deserve it as does every breed, style, make or model of dog.  We should celebrate our four-legged friends often.

When reading about the situation in Montreal, I can’t help but feel bemused that some of the pro-BSL folks are contending the “millionaire pit bull lobby” (google it, I won’t link to it) are trying push their agenda that BSL doesn’t work.  Yet on the other proponents of BSL contend that criminals and dangerous people are the ones who are attracted to and wish to own Pit Bulls.

I am neither a millionaire nor am I a criminal but I do like to fancy myself a dangerous person in the “don’t fu@k with the tiny middle-aged Korean” sense.  Do I have a lion tamer complex?  I do not.  I rather see myself as someone who loves her dogs and revels in the fact that they love me back just as whole heartedly.  I love my avocation of helping to place these wonderful dogs into loving homes where they fulfil their obligation to hog the sofa, snore like pigs and love with hearts bigger than their heads.

There’s no point to this other than to reiterate that my dogs, like all dogs are individuals and I will continue in my self appointed role of protector  and defender of these fat heads until I can no longer draw a breath.

 

I’ll leave you with this: today I met this big lug head of a guy.  All 83 pounds of him just stood and wagged his tail at me while I bent to pet his snout and he mimiced my movements till he was lying at the fence to kiss my finger.  He and I went for a short walk where he tried his best to show me his good leash skills until a squirrel would happen by.  Luckily for me and my arm, I’m an old squirrel spotter from way back and have some impressive skills myself so we struck a happy balance for the duration of the walk.  We walked just far enough for me to fall madly in love.  If you are interested in adding the biggest mush bucket to your home, visit the Allen County SPCA and ask to visit with Abel.

Ups and Downs and Highs and Lows

The difference between volunteering at a bustling shelter and an up and coming rescue is vast but no matter what the rewards are great.  If you see my Facebook at all you know that in the past year and a half or so I’ve become more and more involved with the Pit Bull Coalition and that definitely has caused a shift in my so called free time.  That’s completely fine, though because I’m doing something that I believe in and it’s something that I feel passionate about.

We ended last year with having done 109 adoptions and as of the end of August this year have done 124. My not so secret goal is to reach 200 but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen.  I won’t push an adoption to reach a numeric goal but we will just keep plugging away at it and one of the things I stress with adopters is that once you adopt from the Pit Bull Coalition, you are family.  We are intrusive in the best possible way, of course.  Naturally we do follow ups and love seeing pictures of our alumni in their happy homes.  I’m honored to be Facebook friends with numerous adopters to see them out and about at events and to be “real life” friends as well.

Occasionally we get an especially touching case and Kya was just such a case.  She was about 7 years old last fall at the time of intake and she had lived with a couple who then had children therefore relegated Kya to the in-laws home where she was cared for but not necessarily doted on.  She had the basics but eventually was given to us in hopes of finding her a better life.

I had been working with a lady who eventually became dubbed “The Crying Lady” because, well, she had recently lost her dog and was quite emotional when meeting our adoptables.  She was well balanced by her stoic hubby and they were just the nicest couple.  After seeing Kya’s picture, TCL called me and I answered the phone to hear only sobbing.  We knew Kya was the gal for her and for the following months, Kya was treated like a princess.  She became the beloved puppy that she never got a chance to be and was completely doted on.

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As often happens with these stories, we learned just after a month or two after her adoption that Kya had cancer so her adoring parents set out to make the next few months the best ever for her.  When it became apparent that her time was winding down I met TCL and the Stoic Man at the vet to lend support as they sent her off to romp pain free at the bridge.  She was hugged and stroked and comforted every step of the way and as her last breath left, we applied some red lipstick to her nose and made an impression.  TCL left the lipstick on Kya to send her off to the bridge looking pretty.

We are family.  When you adopt from us, you adopt us for as much or as little as you want us in your life.  We don’t just adopt animals, we adopt family members.  We adopt love.

I’m not an overly demonstrative person and I try to keep my emotions pretty tightly bound.  In my mind that helps when I lend this support in times like this.  I hope Kya knows how adored she was.  I think she knew and I think she sent me a sign.  Feeling pretty solemn after the morning but soon, so very soon, I received a sign…a sign possibly from Kya signifying life goes on…

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I got to pick these two little nuggets of love and bring them into rescue.

Thanks Kya.

 

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Kya