Saturday, December 09, 2006
As we woke to a beautiful Saturday morning, it appeared that the plan had worked. Ava was settling in and very, very quickly winning our hearts. The introduction to the other dogs the previous evening had gone exceedingly well. We should have known right then that there was something amiss in the cosmos.
Ava claimed an empty dog bed in the bedroom, and an easy chair in the living room. Her almost completely-white coat was an outward manifestation of her inner sweetness, pure sugar. She gamely followed us outside for our morning goat feeding, and the sound we heard in the cool morning air was her teeth chattering. We started to work on signs with her, and she picked up “sit” nearly immediately. As we worked with her, it became clear that when you had her attention, she would turn her head so her one good eye had you in its scope, and her attentiveness was expressed by a tilt of the head. Words cannot express how absolutely adorable she was.
We spent Saturday bathing all of the Krewe, bringing Ava’s white coat to a shiny brilliance. Thinking that it would be easier to get her attention if she had a harness rather than a collar to take hold of, we outfitted her in a lovely red harness, nestled her into a warm, cozy bed and went to sleep Saturday evening, planning to spend the day on Sunday acquainting dear, sweet Ava with life here at MisFit Farm and hoping she would fall in love with us as we were falling in love with her.
Imagine our surprise to awake to the phone ringing on Sunday morning. Something had gone horribly wrong with Azure’s adoptive placement. So wrong that a desperate woman loaded her into the car and began a marathon drive from Minnesota to Southern Missouri at four in the morning. So wrong that this poor woman slept on the floor in front of Azure’s crate the previous night, just in case there was a jailbreak. So wrong that Azure had been medicated for part of the ride north to meet her adoptive family. So wrong that Azure was tethered into the back seat of the car for the return trip to Missouri.
Change of plans.
Could we, would we, pretty please, intercept the reverse Dane Train as far north in Northern Missouri as possible, and retrieve Azure? Oh, and could we take Ava with us and possibly trade?
We would like to chalk this up to our second foster success. But that would be wrong. We really cannot take credit for what happened next, and have only ourselves to blame.
Change of plans.
Amazingly enough, we haven’t been able to find a permanent home for Azure. As the days pass and she acclimates more to us, enjoys the crazy chasing games in the yard, steals toys and gamely submits when her toys are stolen, learns new signs such as “home” for her crate, and becomes more predictable (i.e. we can see the next victim of her search-and-destroy toy missions), it looks more and more like we have another “perma-fost.” We would like to be sad about this, but as it turns out, Azure is about 90% puppy and 10% crazy, which we can live with, as one of those conditions will resolve itself with time, structure and stability. We have made the hardest step, which is forgiving her for not being Ava. The rest comes pretty naturally.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The Dane Train is a marvelous, socialist concept. Dog Azure needs to get to place Far North from the Springfield, Missouri area. They toss her in a car with someone who doesn’t mind windshield time, and so begins the train. Someone takes the first couple of hours, and then you find them at a pre-ordained location at the appointed time, looking desperate and somewhat disheveled. They hand the leashes to you, high-tail it into their car, and give themselves whiplash as they lay tire skids in the parking lot in an effort to get beyond cell phone reach before you have a chance to dial them up and say, “As I was pulling into the parking lot, I got an emergency call from my second-cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s brother, and since your car is already pointed in that direction, could you . . .”
You shrug your shoulders, load the crazy kids into the vehicle for their next two-hour leg, and drive like heck to get to the stop where you pass the favor on to the next victim, uh, I mean, driver. I like to think of it as a modern version of the Underground Railroad, but with fur and drool.
And so it goes, until Ms. Azure reaches her final destination. . .
I knew I was in trouble when I was explicitly and profusely thanked for taking Azure for the next 3-hour leg. For the first 40 minutes of my drive through metro Kansas City, Missouri, we treated passers-by to witnessing Azure's special game that she made up for the drive, which consisted of jumping from the front to the back of the vehicle and vice-versa, alternately using the space between the front seats, the space between the passenger seat and the car ceiling, and the space between the front passenger seat and the passenger-side window. After negotiating the construction zones and big-city traffic, I stopped for a much-needed people potty break. Imagine how glad I was to return to the car for this greeting.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Note the use of the past tense. There WERE rules. One such rule was “No dogs in the bed.” Enter Trinity. No dogs in the bed became, stealth dog sneaks into the bed after I am so dead asleep I can’t object. Then the rule was, “we will allow this one dog to sleep at the end of the bed to save us from 4:30 a.m. ebullient, leaping, bounding, jumping on the bed, face-licking and chin-flea-biting wake-up calls.” Then I began to wake up with said dog impersonating a quite heavy blanket, her snoring, drooling mouth perched at my shoulder.
Now, each morning our house wakes to either the sound of the alarm, followed by the special grunt that one can only make when one moves one’s head forward quickly, only to be jerked back when one finds that one’s hair is being laid on by a 85 pound dog, or to the pre-alarm sound of my forehead striking the bedside table, as an alarm-anticipating, stretching solitary Dane leg juts forward into the back of my head, propelling my slumbering face into the nightstand.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
O.k., if we hear, “I could never foster a dog. I would get too attached. It is incredible to me that you can give him up.” one more time, we will scream.
Here is the deal: someone was Mercy’s foster family. If they hadn’t been open in their hearts to the possibility that we were the absolute, just-perfect, made-to-order family for Mercy, we wouldn’t have Saturday mornings that look like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n75HrFUFcMU
Clapton has found his forever family. He got his daddy, and we have to be big enough in our hearts to give him the chance to have his absolute, just-perfect, made-to-order family. He is too cool a guy to keep just because he is too cool a guy.
Now, no one is perfect, least of all, Clapton. His counter-surfing was incredible. We would come home to find dog toys in the kitchen sink. How do you put stuff up high enough to be out of reach for that? I am looking forward to discovering exactly what all got put up onto shelves higher than my 5’5” can reach.
However, about 3 ½ hours into our 4 ¾ hour drive to Clapton’s forever family home, we experienced a bout of what can best be described as “explosive diarrhea,” with a splatter effect that was likely helped greatly by the fact that we were alternatively bombing along the highway at about 80 mph, cutting sharp right to take the closest exit, and coming to a screeching halt. Wow. You have to love a dog to still cry when you drop him off after scrubbing out the back of your car with cold water, pine sol and paper towels on the side of the highway.
We talked to Clapton’s new people this morning, and they reported that he had taken his new daddy on a drag through the local Petsmart this morning, has come to an understanding with the house’s chief chow hound, Max, and decidedly has chosen to ignore the 4 cats.
Here’s how you work the foster dog thing backwards. You drive away and think, “Maybe I just drove away from one of the greatest dogs I could have ever owned.” And maybe you get to the gas station, and as you are arranging stuff in the back of the SUV, pull the carpet aside to get to the under-compartment and find a little overflow that was missed in the roadside cleaning. You get home and the crazy girls that some other foster family hosted once are crazy-happy to see you, and you all laugh and dance and jump around the front yard.
Maybe the cosmos have everything right, after all.
Friday, September 01, 2006
For the past few weeks, K and I have had discussions about Trinity's possible parentage. She is clearly not pure Dane -- so we think, "Boxer? Bull Terrier? . . ."
Well, we have the answer. We think that the attached may be an important key to the mystery:
After a late-evening bathing last night, Trinity became a gremlin. We mean this. Take note of the behavior from the end of this video clip. This was our house last night. Add fur and racing from one end of the trailer to the other. Add all night long.
We have decided that bath-time will have to be a morning event. But the good news is that she was sure tired this morning. Thank God we had to go to work so she can get some sleep.
Mogwai. Cute little Gizmo. Cute little Trinity. Add water and bad things happen. Mogwai.
These things are killing me! They are soooo stupid, we lost a second today - Rocky didn't make the trip. We came home to find him half in/half out of the "drown proofed" water dish. He didn't drown, he just got tired of living as he was sitting on the edge of the water bowl. His feet were the half in portion.
THEN they do things like this, which causes me to freak out and run around, and then the litte peckers sit up and start running around, but first two have to run over the one's head.
K called me from the road asking if the kitty litter is getting too hot under the brooding lamp, since it is clay. I look over, and three of the little peckers are laying out like this, and I am thinking, "Holy cow -- it is like Jim Jones meets KFC in here!" I run over, and they pop up and start chirping to beat the band.
We got something last weekend that the krewe thinks is way better than TV. Not that we watch TV - no cable, no satellite, no reception here at Misfit Farms. Witness the power of baby Guinea fowl.
Our neighbors bought Guinea fowl about a year ago in retaliation for the other neighbors (in between us) and their incessantly yapping weenie dogs. They hatched their first batch of babies last week, and shipped them off to us in what we originally thought was an act of love.
Three hours later and the chirping had not stopped. We were thinking, "maybe they don't like us so much after all." The dogs submitted and rested peacefully. K's mom called, asked what all the racquet was, and declined an invitation to dinner. Roasted guinea fowl is not on the menu yet. Give us a couple of days. K says it will never be on the menu.
I have a book that has recipes in it.
Although I have to say, if you have ever seen an adult Guinea, they fit right in here at Misfit Farms.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Judging from the doleful looks on their faces and the struggles of all except the one, (Trinity, who we will send along the story of her first bath with us some other time), the dogs don’t feel so much like they came out on the good end of the deal. They spend a lot of time rolling in various and sundry “found” odors to have brought themselves to their pre-bath bouquet. Now they will have to start all over again. Harrumph!
Something about the low-level ache in my lower back right now tells me that I won’t feel so much like I was a winner after this is all said and done. Certainly I love any opportunity I get to wash every single towel, bath mat, and otherwise absorbent item in the house. And nothing beats a Sunday morning spent with suds in your mouth, and fistfuls of soggy dog hair.
But one good thing is we have discovered another dog product which has potential spokespuppies written all over it for us: Rinse Ace Pet Shower Deluxe. Probably the second best thing about this product is the photo on the front. We recognize the look on the dog’s face, but the woman washing this pup doesn’t look like she has been participating in a wet t-shirt contest in a fur factory, she isn’t grappling on the floor with the dog sud-covered and desperate looking, and this crazy woman is smiling!!! Additionally, nowhere in this photo is a three-legged bath cheerleader who keeps running in and out of the room, biting at the water from this shower head, pulling on my pony-tail to offer a diversion, and barking encouragement to her siblings that probably translates to either, "Hey, aren't you having fun?!?!? Isn't this the greatest game ever?!?!" or to, "Run for your life! Save yourself by following me as I run barking through the house!" Probably both.
Ultimately, the winner was probably Rural Water District #6, who will be the proud recipients of a greatly inflated water bill this month. Good thing we don’t live in Salina, KS, who is currently under a water rationing plan. I would think that washing dogs and two humans with a cumulative weight of roughly 1,000# may somehow be brought in under the restrictions.
And now for our next feat, we will accomplish the task of trimming 19 sets of toenails!!! Stay tuned. . .
Monday, July 31, 2006
Now this fine fellow is just about a perfect Dane specimen. His name is Clapton. It is up to him to redeem us as foster parents.
When we picked Clapton up, we were given scarily few details. He prefers the Ol' Roy in the red bag, hasn't seen a vet in a while, has a buggered up left ear from a dog attack, and is "leash trained." His leash training appears to have been completed at Iditarod boot camp, but he must not have passed the "heel" portion of the schooling. As with many things in this adventure, we learned this the hard way. The scrapes on our chins are healing up nicely.
It is almost impossible to believe that his former family could give this fellow up for rescue. He has literally won the hearts of nearly everyone who has met him, shortly after their repeated observations that, "Wow. He is huge. He is a horse." or some other similar commentary as captured in one of our favorite t-shirts ever: http://www.cafepress.com/buy/Dane+Rescue/-/pv_design_details/pg_1/id_10192184/opt_/fpt_/c_/hlv_t
Although he is an equal opportunity sweetheart, Clapton clearly has a special place in his heart for a dad and, ideally, a little boy. We had friends out last week, and Clapton went fishing with them. Aside from the fact that when he jumps onto a floating dock, he can nearly capsize you, he is a wonderful fishing companion, willing to inspect and approve even the tiniest fish, and content to stand and lean as long as the bait holds out.
If you are looking for a 165# fishing buddy who won't compete for the last beer or rat you out when you exaggerate a little about the size of the one that got away, check out www.petfinder.com/shelters/MO61.html for more information about Clapton and the dozen other babies in need of good homes that aren't afraid of a little drool and a lotta love.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
O.k., so if 3 goats are a baaaad idea, 3 more can only be better, right?
As mentioned previously, I had set up the impossible scenario that I wanted a fainting pygmy goat. Imagine my surprise when, a few hours down the road, we found exactly that. And whereas Bam-Bam was of questionable fainter parentage, this time we scored the big one.
So this Spring, we got our three new krewe members, Mr. Tumnus (in white), our official, certified, bonafide fainter, Lucy, his charming little friend in the brown coat, and cleverly disguised as a goat, wearing the mask with the mischievous markings, is Puck.
Because we are shameless promoters of all things we perceive as good in the world, if you are in the market for goats, and you may well be even if you don’t think you are, and if you are anywhere near Kansas when the urge to own goats hits you, there is only one place to go. They even have a website: www.goturgoat.com For a while they had a rent-a-goat thing going, for keeping lagoons from getting overgrown, but I think they may have wisely let that idea go. The whole rent-a-goat scenario may be an idea before its time.
Anyhow. The introduction of the three new babies to the herd was disturbing. We may have anthropomorphized dear Pebbles a bit too much, endowing her with maternal traits which we somehow thought would help ease the transition of the babies into the older crowd. Nothing could have been more wrong.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
It would be disingenuous to pretend that we acquired the goats for the sole, the primary, or even the secondary purpose of eating the tremendous overgrowth of vegetation on the property we bought. We really mostly thought it would be fun. We were so right.
When we announced our intentions, my mother-in-law said, "I don't think you know what you are getting into." My Veterinarian brother-in-law said, "Goats?! I think that's a baaaaaad idea!" We were innundated with stories about goats on the top of cars, goats eating tin cans, goats on the roof of the house, goats gone wild!!!
After over a year with goats, there have been only two "jail breaks." The first occured the day we brought these cuties (here at 10 months of age) home. Just in case it should ever come up in coversation: goats can run really fast. This is our lesson number 2 about goats. Lesson number 1 was: goats don't care so much for dogs. Matter of fact, they are scared enough, that upon introduction to a dog, goats will introduce you directly to lesson number 2.
The brown one here, Pebbles, escaped when I tried to transfer her from the large dog kennel in the car to the larger pen we were keeping them in so they would be close to the house while they were smaller. She ran up the hill, across the neighbors' yard, and then took off up the road, with me in hot pursuit. This was the first time Steve and Carolyn were introduced to our antics. Steve was minding his own business, mowing his lawn, when a baby goat cleared the hedge and crossed the lawn. Here, his dogs helped us out with a review of lesson number 1. In the process of learning lesson number 2, I came through the hedge shortly thereafter, just in time to see Pebbles make a quick pivot, and run right past me up the road.
We spent the entire afternoon looking for her. She came walking back up the road around dusk, likely returning to the call of her brothers who did not manage to escape. Thankfully, we had learned enough of our lessons for one day.
The big black one, Bam-Bam, was touted as a "fainter" when we got this crew. We have yet to see him faint, so we can only assume that his previous fainting episode was a one-time deal. Anyways, the warranty has expired on our faulty fainter, and we are somewhat attached by now. Additionally, the "fainting" is generally precipitated as a stress or fear response, and the only fear Bam-Bam experiences in his life is the fear of the other goats he terrorizes. He has definitely lived up to his name.
The third one is Boo-Boo. He is a little gentleman, and my mother-in-law's favorite. So much for, " I don't think you know what you are getting into."
Friday, July 28, 2006
Up until an unfortunate tumble under a pile of frolicking, orthopedically-challenged puppies, Skeeter was our most pain-free dog. Coming out on the bottom of the dogpile was not kind and resulted in an overnight trip to the Vet to have a hole in her back repaired. Our nurse neighbor used the term "avulsion." I looked at it and thought "revulsion." Of course the next thought was, "O.k. - we can fix this."
Unwilling to acknowledge that our robust Skeeter may require an unscheduled Vet visit, we first exhausted a variety of home remedies. Skeeter was subjected to a variety of humiliations that evening, including the application of a maxi-pad to the wound site, and an attempt to hold a bandage in place with a pair of cut-off running tights that clearly point to the fact that neither of us have run since well into the early 90's/late 80's. As she was wearing the black/hot pink/turquiose spandex bandage, she streaked past our neighbors in their truck. Steve turned to Carolyn and asked incredulously, "Was that Skeeter, and was she wearing a Speedo?"
Since dressing her in a Speedo and singing Olivia Newton John songs about exercise did not exorcise the open, gaping wound, we took her to the emergency Vet clinic and had her stitched up and medicated.
Happily, the wound has completely healed. Her pride and sense of dignity? Well, hopefully they will only take dog years to heal.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Meet Coffee dog. This photo was taken at work. In case it is not obvious, he works with a bunch of smart-asses.
Coffee goes to work almost every day. He honestly believes that he belongs there, and if he misses a day, he is sure to be at the front door, waiting, so he doesn't miss his ride.
Coffee is the man of the house, but he doesn't let the pressure get to him. He is the single most mellow dog in the history of the planet. Case in point, he often will allow people to tape messages on his back, as demonstrated in this photo. The two-note string is a record for him, and in celebration of the event, he performed the monumental task of sitting up.
The office has started a petition to re-name him "De-caf," but since he is 10 years old, it seems a little late to revisit the issue of his name. As is the case with many of our dogs, he came pre-named.
The only real motivation Coffee shows is in his emulation of Houdini. This dog is an escape artist. He doesn't run away. He just doesn't like to be fenced in or kept away from human contact. He has scrambled through second-story windows onto the roof of a house. He has eaten through a wire cage at a Vet's kennel. He has climbed over 7 foot fences to get into the people-part of doggy day care. This resulted in his expulsion from the program.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
This is Mercy. Mercy is a beautiful disaster.
It was Mercy who sent us down the "dane hole." We have a longstanding love of Great Danes, and the space to accommodate their needs. We found her and fell in love with her on www.petfinder.com We recommend that folks who want a life companion who is loyal and loving no matter how bizarre you may be, check out petfinder.com instead of pet stores, breeders, or singles.com.
So, why is Mercy our beautiful disaster? She is single-handedly subsidizing the college education for two of our Vet's children. She was saved from a caged existence where, by the tender young age of around 7 months, she didn't know how to walk, but her pelvis had been broken and re-healed without the pesky intervention of veterinary care. We are making up for it now. Our nearly weekly trips to the Vet have yielded a variety of diagnoses, including spinal stenosis, allergies, hypothyroid, a cold which was treated with an antibiotic which she had an allergic reaction to, and a skin infection.
For those of you who are now thinking that petfinder.com ought to be covered by your state's lemon laws, rest assured that she was clearly marked as a "special needs" dog. We walked into this deal eyes wide open, and wouldn't have it any other way. She has more personality and more love than any two humans deserve.
This is Trinity. Trinity is a left-handed, "teacup" sized Great Dane mix - unsure of what exactly she is "mixed" with, but as you can see, the results are pretty doggone cute.
Trinity officially joined the family this week as a "foster failure" placement with us from the Great Dane Rescue of the Ozarks. We have honestly never been so happy to be failures.
What is not readily seen in this photo is that Trinity is missing her front right leg. Not missing, actually: it was surgically removed after she was found on the side of the road with a broken, swollen and infected front appendage. Although we have to think that when she woke up from that surgery, she must have thought, "Oh my God! My leg's missing!" I just want folks to know that we realize she didn't just misplace the leg like a set of keys - the leg is gone.