The Doggie I Asked For……

The Doggie I Asked For……
I asked for strength that I might rear him perfectly;
I was given weakness that I might feed him more treats.
I asked for good health that I might rest easy; I was given a "special needs" dog that I might know nurturing.
I asked for an obedient dog that I might feel proud; I was given stubbornness that I might feel humble.
I asked for compliance that I might feel masterful; I was given a clown that I might laugh.
I asked for a companion that I might not feel lonely; I was given a best friend that I would feel loved.
I got nothing I asked for, But everything that I needed.

Author Unknown

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sam, my first, taught me "Doxies Rule"

I was working at an insurance company data center and they had, unbelievably, forgotten to order heating oil in the middle of winter so they had to let employees leave early.  A co-worker asked if I'd like to join her visiting a pet store - she liked to go and play with the puppies.  This was before anyone knew about the horrors of puppy mills and pet store greed and shenanigans.

So, since I have always loved dogs and especially puppies (of course) I thought what the heck, give it a whirl.  I followed her to the pet store and went inside to a cacophony of barking, howling and yipping - I was in heaven!!!  She walked me over to the puppy area and there were all these cages - all I wanted to do was let them all out of the nasty cages and have them run as free as they could/should.  But then I spotted this one cage on the top row, left corner, containing a reddish, longhaired little angel inside that looked at me with melancholy eyes-- and I was hooked!  I'd never seen this breed and thought he looked like a miniature Irish Setter, lol.  The manager spotted my interest and ran over to ask if I'd like to take the little fellow into one of the play rooms.  I asked what breed and was told a Red Longhaired Standard Dachshund, and that he would be about 15-18 lbs as an adult.  That sounded reasonable as I'd always preferred lap dogs to snuggle and cuddle and hold in my arms.

He took out this little bundle of fluffy cloud-soft furr and put him in my arms. *sigh*  I knew that little angel had to be mine.  We went into a play room full of toys and a water dish and chewies and sat on the floor together.  Well, he wiggled and snuggled and licked and kissed and then took off like a cannon shot to the pile of toys.  Spotting the water, he took a quick slurp, then bounded all around the room like a Tazmanian Devil whirling dervish and proceeded to do his business - both types!  Must have felt wonderful not to have to do it in that nasty cage!  I thought we were in trouble and called over the manager.  He wisely said "No problem - I'll clean that right up for you", because he must have seen in my eyes that this was a definite sale == ka-ching!!! 

Now, all of our pets came from people my father knew in his State Police patrol area and cost nothing.  They were puppies of family pets and were given to people those families knew and trusted.  So, when I asked the price of this little angel, I was flabbergasted.  He was $275.00, almost a month's pay at that time!  My heart sunk to the basement - how could I bring home this angel when I'd not saved that much yet from my job and had no other money, no credit cards (teenagers did not have them then) ?  But, I had to have him, I just could not fathom leaving him in that cage another instant!

The manager said that a deposit of $20 would hold him for a day or two until I could bring the rest of the money and promised me repeatedly that he would not allow anyone else with all the money to take my precious angel unless I did not return.  Well, that wasn't going to happen - I was going to return the next day, a Saturday, with the remaining balance if I had to rob a bank or sell a kidney!  I asked if I could the use the phone (no cell phones then) and I called the guy I was dating at the time to tell him all about why I would be quite late getting home.  He was a sweet sensitive person and knew immediately that I was hooked by this little puppy. I explained about the money and he said we'd figure something out, not to worry.  He was a Marine who'd returned from Vietnam recently and didn't have a full-time position yet so I sure didn't know how he could tell me not to worry.  At that moment, I gave it the old Scarlett O'Hara "I'll worry about it tomorrow" attitude and went back to playing with the fluff ball.

For the entire time, the puppy was running and jumping, grabbing at toys and spilling the water, and zooming from one side of the play room to the other.  What energy, what  joie de vivre, what a delight!  Somehow, a name came to me - SAM; he just seemed to be a Sam.  The manager said that I could register him with the AKC and perhaps concoct a slightly longer name for his "papers".  Papers???  Never had a dog with papers other than the newspapers we put on the floor to train them.  This was just the experience to beat all experiences.  Our family had dogs, my grandparents had farm dogs and barn cats but I didn't even know anyone that had a dog with AKC papers.

I gave the manager my $20 deposit, all my information and a little sign was placed on the cage door that read "Hold" - Yikes!  Be still my heart!!!  This was going to happen, some way, some how!  So "Sam" and I continued to play on the floor until the store was closing.  Oh, how I hated to leave him.  I just wanted to tuck him into my warm coat and carry him out to the car and to his new home.  This was heart-wrenching!  Another 15 hours was just too long to wait.  I couldn't let him out of my arms and back into that cage, but all the praying in the world was not going to change the fact that I had to leave Sam there until the next day - so I prayed that nothing would happen to him overnight (or to me) and that we'd find the money and be together forever.  The manager pried little Sam out of my arms, put him in the cage and Sam howled and cried.  He, too, knew that we belonged together.  As I left the store, all I could hear were his cries, begging me to return for him. *sigh*

That night, when I arrived home, I called my guy to tell him I was finally home and we went out for a quick snack.  While we were eating, I was bending his ear all about "Sam".  He was very patient and asked all the right questions and let me chatter away.  Then, I asked if he had any suggestions how on earth I was going to obtain the money for the next day.  My mother had said I was crazy to spend that kind of money on a puppy and was not very supportive so I knew there'd be no loan or anything from my parents (Mom ruled).  Well, my guy took my hand and said "I went to the bank after you phoned and they gave me a loan for the rest of the money you need for Sam".  OMG - my heart was beating out of my chest.  Could this really be??  Sam was coming home tomorrow??  This wonderful man had signed a loan for my furry angel??  We made plans to go together to the pet store so I could hold Sam in my lap all the way home.

The next morning we packed up a small box and a little baby blanket and some old towels (just in case) and set off for the pet store.  There was Sam, with his sad little face resting on his front paws - until he spotted me and heard my voice.  Then he went zany trying to paw through the cage bars and wiggling and licking and just whacked-out with happiness!  The manager came right over and took him out of the cage to place him in my arms.  Oh, goodness - this was too wonderful!  I was crying and laughing simultaneously but knew to take this crazy character to the playroom because he'd be doing all kinds of eliminations shortly....which he certainly did and then played and ran even more energetically than the day before.  It was almost as if he knew that was his last day in a cage and he had to show me his appreciation.....

My guy was paying the manager and I was called over to the counter to sign the papers and collect the information for the AKC, and the free samples of puppy food (though we never fed any pets dog food) and  I also purchased a wicker bed and pad, a couple of toys, a collar and leash and off we went to the car.  Sam was so excited, I could hardly hold him on my lap.  But, good thing we had the old towels as his excitement caused the inevitable regurgitation.  Oh, well - nothing mattered except bringing him home.  It was still early enough to call our vet before his noon closing on Saturday and schedule an appointment for Monday.  It was a sunny day outside, so we took Sam to his new backyard and played and played until his little puppy legs were exhausted.  After he took a nice nap in my lap on the sofa, we went back outside for a bit more to start the potty training.  He did all his business and looked so proud when he was praised a zillion times.  We took Sam with us to a favorite hot dog stand for a quickie dinner and to have him become accustomed to car rides.  He was fine this time and loved looking out the window.  Sam would become a seasoned traveller over his years and always LOVED car rides, even jumping in anytime the car door was open and waiting on the front seat-back.

Sam in Dad's Car
 That night I asked my mother if he could stay in my room (she'd never allowed pets in bedrooms previously) and while she initially said "No", she changed her mind when Sam began howling and crying and whining down in the kitchen.  So upstairs went his new wicker bed and little Sam.  Of course, as soon as it was "safe" and everyone else was asleep, Sam came into the bed with me and snuggled under the covers, sleeping like an angel all night.  And that puppy smell was absolute heaven - there is nothing in the world like puppy smell...

Sunday was more of the same, playing and napping and training and another ride in the car.  He was just the smartest, most playful, most loving puppy ever!  My heart was filled and so was his.

Monday morning, I phoned work and said I had doctor's appointment (they weren't pleased) and would not be in to work.  My guy came over and we took Sam to the Vet.  He was a kindly gentleman whose father had the practice before him.  But, something was wrong - he looked worried.  I was about to stroke out and asked was there a problem.  He said that Sam's eyes clearly indicated he was sick and that it was probably worms as these pet stores always claimed the animals had been vet-checked and de-wormed but they rarely bothered.  Luckily, Sam provided a fecal sample on the spot from nerves and it was positive for these disgusting worms.  We were given medicine to administer to Sam to try to rid him of these parasites but the Vet warned that it was not always effective in such severe cases. OMG - did he say severe?  My world was turned upside down!  I was crying and sobbing and holding my dear sweet little Sam.  This couldn't be happening!!  The vet said to be prepared and place newspapers everywhere on the floor so Sam would have to stay in the kitchen.

Needless to say, the Vet was correct and the next morning when I ran downstairs I was shocked to see what had been eliminated from poor Sam!  Disgusting doesn't come close.  I was so angry, I phoned the pet store and spoke to the manager.  All he would say is that "if the animal died, they would provide a replacement".  YIKES - was he insane????  I wanted Sam, not some replacement.  I was inconsolable.  I phoned the Vet and told him what had happened and he said that if the worms kept being eliminated and Sam looked like he was feeling better, we had a good chance he'd survive.  Survive????????  Sam was an innocent little puppy who's life should be just beginning - how could he be so very ill already?  How could those people not have cared for him properly?  I still knew nothing about puppy mills, but I was learning the awful truth about pet shops and greed and uncaring people.  I snuggled with Sam as much as possible and slept on the sofa downstairs so I could keep checking on him.  A few more messes had to be cleaned up but by morning, there seemed to be less parasites.  I phoned the vet and he said to bring Sam down tomorrow morning with a sample in the newspapers and he'd give us an update - but he thought it looked hopeful that Sam was eating and playing.  That night was the longest ever! 

The next morning, the parasites were almost gone, as far as I could tell (never had this happen before with any puppy).  We took Sam and his sample to the Vet and his examination determined that Sam seemed much better and if he continued to improve, this "determined little pup" would probably survive, after all.  He saw the relief on my face and patted my sagging shoulders and told me that Sam had a real will-to-live, and that dachshunds could be stubborn and it seemed Sam had decided he was happy and going to stay around.  We left feeling a bit better but still worried.  My goodness, if anything happened to Sam - well, I just couldn'teven think of it.

Thankfully, Sam was able to rid himself of all the parasites and we could now tell by his eyes (from what the Vet told us to look for) that he was feeling lots better.  He had another check-up, the rest of his shots and the Vet declared him much healthier but told us to keep a very close eye - like that was necessary to tell me....  I made a promise to tell everyone I knew about pet shops and never ever even thought about going to one again.  But, a few times I visited a couple and looked at the poor angels caged in there, seeing those same sickly eyes, or saw a larger puppy crammed in with a smaller one and complained to the manager.  Never accomplished much as they just do not care but, for Sam, and how he suffered, I had to try.

Well, Sam lived a wonderful life of 16+ years with only one other life-threatening incident tale that can await another post.  He died after doing what he loved - playing and being chased.  He was semi-zooming laps (at 16+, he wasn't quite as fast) around the dining room table, a favorite speed-bowl of his, chasing and being chased, when he had what we learned was a heart attack.  He was rushed to the vet but it was too massive and the Vet recommended he not suffer any further as the damage was too great.  Sam crossed the Rainbow Bridge with love and comfort and family - just as I knew he deserved from the moment I saw him......and for 44 years now, I have never had any other breed beside longhair dachshunds, all because a sweet little determined puppy named Sam taught me Doxies Rule !

Sam and his "daffys"

Thanks, Sam - we still miss you terribly, Sam!  You were the BEST!!!

Sam loved to jump into piles of leaves

Friday, June 10, 2011

But, seriously......

The newspaper articles, web petition sites, FaceBook posts and all other sources of horror stories about animal abuse and neglect are enough to dishearten anyone, but especially an animal lover like myself.  There is never, ever any excuse for abusing or neglecting or abandoning an animal.  Some moron the other day was playing Russian roulette with his gun and the family dog, while the spouse watched.  WTH !!!!

And we've all seen The Patrick Miracle on FB and donated and commented on that and other abuse cases.  I am constantly signing petitions, writing to prosecutors and mayors and whomever to help the helpless - and no mattter how much I think I'm doing, I know it is but a pittance of what's required.

But the most astonishing and disappointing thing to me is that the truly, obscenely wealthy - the zillionaire athletes, celebrities, business/financial moguls, inheritors of family "jewels" - if those people gave 1% of the money they waste on yet another expensive kiddie car, or one less room on their 37 room mansions, or one less G5 Jet, or one week's (one day's) pay - think how that could really help the helpless, the voiceless.  Right now, FaceBook is instigating drastic changes be made at the New York City Animal Control Centers, the Murder Mansions, where they are killing the wrong dogs, refusing to answer the phone for those calling to request a dog they want to adopt that's on their "kill list" for the day, allowing animals to be stuffed into pathetically small cages, covered in their own feces with no food, no water, no hope, no dignity, no worth.  HORRIBLE!!!  Where is "The Donald" who loves PR for any excuse, where are the NY Yankees, the richest team in history, where are the Hiltons, the Broadway producers & mega-stars, Mayor Bloomberg (richest mayor and zillionaire, too)  while these animals are suffering and being murdered daily??????  Don't any of them have any compassion, any heart & soul, any just pity,even ?  Can they force themselves away from the mirrors and cameras long enough to actually look around and read an article about something other than themselves and help the helpless, the voiceless????

Assuredly, too many other shelters are as deplorable and the over-paid directors as despicable but this is right here in New York City - "The Big Apple" - still the financial capital of the world.  Like, 9 million people live there and no one but those few volunteers are calling the unanswered phones, and phoning the mayor's office and the ACC director's office and posting and begging on FaceBook to stop this unconscionable disgrace to the word "shelter" for these animals.  What has become of common decency??  How callous do you have to be to ignore this issue?  Where's "60 Minutes" and "20/20" and "DateLine" ?????

PLEASE help stop this insanity!  Think if your pet escaped your yard or home and was found by these people in these Murder Mansions and you had no idea of how far the animal had gone before being captured?  Imagine that your pet was just stuffed in a metal cage, living in feces, starving, neglected, ignored and then murdered within a week - and you never knew to get there in time because you were one or two states away and they refuse to answer their phones when you call to ask if your Lucy or Max or Rocky are there ???  Imagine that horror for any family's pet.......Imagine...........*sigh*    *sigh*

Monday, June 6, 2011

Romp and Roll

We think Solly is our oldest but since this savvy sweetheart was abandoned on a highway by his deceased owner's progeny, no one really knows his age.  He has no teeth but that doesn't stop him from enjoying his food or attempting to gum a softened natural beef ear (USA only, of course) that one of his "siblings" has been chomping - and as his frustration builds if juicy bits are not loosened, he holds it down with one paw and scratches at it with his other.  We've seen him do this on his sofa on a fleece blankie or in a pile of mulch in the backyard - seems if this precious piece of slime is covered in dirt, mulch, grass and saliva it adds a unique earthy flavor.... sort a doggie version of pesto.

And rolling in that same quasi-compost combination is a favorite ritual for Solly.  He does his romp through the grass, from one side of the yard to the other, sometimes in high gear sometimes on cruise control, wiggling his back-end and jiggling his head and his ears.  He may stop suddenly and do a little downward-facing-dog yoga stretch or two and then leap off to continue his romp.  The inevitable roll follows with all four freckled little feet pointing toward the sky while his tractor-trailer long dog body does his version of Chubby Checkers' Twist.  It's always comical and he manages to cover different parts of his body, head or tail with the debris.  In this photo, Solly apparently forgot to do the tuck-and-roll and his tongue acted like a Swiffer Wet Jet with mulch adhering like glue.... But he is still the most handsome piebald we have ever seen!!!  Our Solly-Babe!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Chipmunk Chronicles

It's easy to determine when Spring has officially sprung because our backyard becomes a frenzy of activity - somewhat akin to grammar school Disney World vacationers on sugar and crack, but these are little striped furry characters.  To visualize more easily, bear in mind that chipmunks do everything at 200 MPH.  Racing along fallen tree limbs, leaping over rocks, scampering beneath the Mt. Laurel bushes churning up dead leaves and literally creating enough noise to sound like the entire Soprano mob crashing through the New Jersey woods fleeing from FBI agents.
Chipmunks also love holes, hundreds of holes -- these holes connect to a tunnel network that would shame the Viet Cong. They pop up in one hole, zoom across a parcel of grass, and then dive into a different hole.  Sometimes all this dashing, digging and diving is for necessity because the hounds (our dachshunds) are on the run, but sometimes it's just for the joy of it.  They always look like they're having a blast, like Annette and Frankie playing Beach Blanket Bingo which they've changed to Hole Hopping in the CT hardwoods.
This live entertainment is provided daily, all day, weather-permitting and as long as sunflower seeds are strategically placed for the viewing pleasure of the seed provider, moi.  I pile the seeds inside and outside the fenced area, being certain they're in sight of me and the hounds (for chasing/exercise).  Then I sit on the deck swing and think about the "Cops" theme song ===  Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do?  Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?  because the hounds will definitely be coming for them.  There are early morning, matinee and evening performances and there are multiple stages located on the east, south and west sides of the yard, with the deck being on the north side and therefore only used as an absolute last resort to escape capture by squeezing their chubby furry bodies under the bottom stair or through the lattice-work on the side.  Sometimes the chipmunks ('munks) work in pairs for a split second before one of them does the math and attacks the marauding other 'munk, tumbling ass-over-teakettle all over the area, trying to dislodge seeds from stuffed cheeks.  And as Larry the Cable guy would say "Now I don't care who you are, that's funny!"... This one clinging to the tree in the photo below was about to pounce on the one filling up at the fast food statue basket....

Now, after all the rainy days, the 'munk cache of supplies was depleted and lots more inventory was needed to be hauled in for the heat wave days predicted.  There's less scurrying and scavenging when the heat and humidity are high so gathering is in full swing during these nice breezy days.  Cheeks are loaded to maximum gross weight capacity and traffic to/from their underground dens and hidey-holes is only equaled by the bumper-to-bumper Long Island Expressway on a Friday afternoon out of New York City.  But all of this hustle & bustle has a downside - not enough focus on Dora the Determined's Speed-Traps, hiding at the fast food joints and rest areas, below.....

Ordinarily the afternoon 'munk rush-hour is timed to coincide with the hounds' PM deck nap but this one supply-excursion the other day was not up to usual Seal Team Six standards.  While Dora Lee was positioned as planned, the 'munk scout spotted a huge pile of seeds by one of the large rock formations near a further tree.  The 'munk cruised below radar through the underground Midtown Tunnel, popping up just inches from the tennis-ball playing Rudy, careened off Rudy's rear-end and blindly barreled in the opposite direction smacking right into a sleeping Solly!  The nearby Dora Lee spun on a dime, Solly jumped a foot off the ground, Charlie flew off the deck as back-up, and Rudy discarded the tennis ball to join the "10-13 -- Sleeping wiener dog startled" call-to-arms!  A wild, howling barking yipping chase ensued around the area where the suspect had been last sighted.  But alas, the 'munk had slipped through the fence and out of their jurisdiction.....*sigh*

Solly decided to seek the comforts and safety of his indoor sofa and all puppers personnel returned to the deck HQ for a cool drink of water & a second PM nap.
The Furry "5-0" would reconnoitre and rehash pursuit tactics for another day....
Chipmunks - 1
Hounds       - 0