Monday, May 28, 2007

Trinity is my Co-Pilot

We admit - we are part of the problem. We each drive an SUV – not the obscenely large variety, but as a matter of fuel efficiency and earth-friendliness, our vehicles still don’t make the grade. They do perform well on snowy Kansas roads around December – January. The horrible truth is that we actually probably really need one of the obscenely large varieties of gas-guzzling SUV to haul around the krewe.

As it is, we can fit up to 4 dogs into the back of either of our vehicles with the seats folded down, unless Trinity is one of the krewe in transport. With Trinity, we can fit in 5.

We drove to see our dear friends in South Louisiana last November. It is a 16-hour drive. Trinity made the entire trip perched at my shoulder thusly, tentatively balanced on the folded-over seats we had so thoughtfully configured to create a wide open area in the back of the car for . . . Mercy to stretch out in, apparently. As far as Trinity was concerned, we could have taken a Mini Cooper or a mini-bike.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Leaving Alistair at his forever family’s home last Friday night, I was ushered to the home of people on the opposite side of the rescue equation.

The family who surrendered Emmett was really, genuinely nice. They clearly cared about him, even though he had been dumped on them by a neighbor who had, amazingly enough, fewer resources than they did and less ability to address his needs, even quite frankly, if they were not special in any sense of the word.

Things like flea and tick treatment. Suitable nourishment. Routine vaccinations. And then there was the whole “blood-in-the-urine” scene.

How could they not care about him? He is a honey of a dog, and those sweet, sweet eyes reminded me of Emmett Kelly, the clown who swept up the spotlight, and hailed from the small community of Sedan, Kansas. The family cared about Emmett the dog, they just couldn’t care for him.

Like that archetypical clown, Emmett Kelly, we have a fellow who wants more than anything to please, to be petted, to be talked to, to be adored, to be loved.

It is a week later. We have been heavily vetted and are halfway through our antibiotics for a major urinary tract infection. Two days after coming home from the Vet’s office, the droop in Emmett’s tail was gone. By yesterday, he has developed a tail wag that can leave a welt on the back of your thighs and caused Skeeter to yelp when she was hit in the face as she stepped into a full-body wag yesterday evening. Emmett is given free run of the farm as he has no interest in chasing goats, eating cats, or going too very far away from us for more than the length of time it takes him to make a wide circle of a run.

We are methodically working on adding some substance to his frame, now that he has been rid of whipworms. We are neutered and careening headlong toward full preparedness for adoption by some forever family.

Really, we are. We mean it.

Alistair gets a forever family

I don’t know that MisFit Farm will ever host another dog as big as Alistair. He was a truly amazing specimen. He was the epitome of the gentle giant this breed is known for.

Alistair got his forever family a week ago Friday night. He has a big, fenced in back yard, puppy playmates, and a family that is absolutely in love with him. Not that we weren’t, it is just that Al had this feeling about him that he was waiting for something. . .

As I watched him play tag and tear around the living room with the female Dane at his new home and the family’s faces were lit up with unmitigated delight, Al looked at me, and I could see exactly what he had been waiting for.

Although the adoption process takes a while for reference checks, home visits, interview, etc. . ., once the decision is rendered, the final delivery can be made at breakneck speed. When we were finally approved for Mercy, we couldn’t live another day without her. K had a funeral, so I made the trip alone on a Saturday morning, trying to steal as much uninterrupted weekend as possible with our new girl.

The blessing in this arrangement for the foster family may be that the speedy delivery forestalls any “seller’s remorse” or other reconsiderations. With Al, I was in auto-pilot. I prepared the write-up of flea/tick treatment and heartworm preventative dates, inclinations and proclivities, bagged up some dog food and a couple of favored toys, loaded him into the car, and pointed it south.

As I stood there watching Al and his new family, I knew that there would not be any reconsiderations. As we have said before: some times, the cosmos get it all right.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


The Lawrence Humane Society has been building a signature event called the Mutt-n-Strut across the past few years.

It is the average run-of-the-mill dog festival with free goodies, exhibitor tents, an emcee with drawings and raffle prizes, and a 1 or 2-mile walk. Of course it is done in Lawrence, where there is an overarching attitude of superiority, so that adds to the overall snooti-ness factor of the event. So what if there are only 100 people there; of the 100, there are really only 25 who make the cut in terms of tragic hipness. Residents of MisFit Farm do not make the cut.

I woke up the morning of the event, having arrived home at around 2:30 a.m. and gone to bed around 4 a.m., feeling not my perky best. As a matter of fact, I was wondering why in the world this EVER seemed like a good idea.

We leashed up Mercy, Trinity, and Emmett (more about him in a future blog) and headed out for a lovely morning stroll with 100 of our closest canine friends, or at least with our friend, Scout, and his parents.

It has rained for what has felt like 40 days and 40 nights. There are flash flood warnings. Lake closures. Roads washed out. Not on the day of Mutt-n-Strut. The day of Mutt-n-Strut, we were treated to a bright, sunshiny morning where the heat index hit about 112 degrees by the time the 1 or 2-mile walk started, 45 minutes after its publicized time. We parked at my parent’s house, which was a few blocks away, in order to save the trouble of locating parking at the event.
I was checking off the contents of my backpack as we began our walk to the event. We had made it about three blocks when I realized that I had forgotten to bring poop bags. “Surely,” I thought, “we can make it five blocks to the event where they will have bags available for future usage.” Approximately one block later, Mercy deposited what our friend described as a “pudding poop” directly in the middle of the sidewalk. Of course with her rear-differential issues, she can’t be subtle about it. She splays her back legs out, hunkers down, and then cranks her one leg to encourage the activity, a lot like one of those play-doh machines. I would have been mortified, except that I was gaily leading the pack, being towed along by a three-legged and never-before-leashed socialite built of pure muscle who was hell-bent on making it to the event like, yesterday.

When I realized what had happened, I purged myself of any thought that we would make the elite and tragically hip Mutt-n-Strutters cut.

Had I not been continually engaged in the process of reining in a three-legged and never-before-leashed socialite built of pure muscle, I would have done the responsible thing and gone back to clean it up. The cruel world being what it is, I was not afforded the opportunity, and instead was treated to the spectacle of watching the 85% of the Mutt-n-Strutters who all took off before we were able to get our krewe together to join their walk, dance around and wrinkle their noses up at the trail of pudding poop and tidy little pile left on Mercy’s outward bound voyage.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Land Shark and Rabbits

The rabbits are killing me this year. The rain is welcomed, but not much help, either.

The rabbits are so bold, they sit in the yard as we pull into the drive. One was sitting under a tree as I was mowing yesterday evening. As I passed, it coolly regarded me and didn’t move an inch. They began nibbling our sno peas until I laid a protective barrier of dryer lint and hair around the perimeter of the planting. Unbelievably, we ran out of hair before we got the spinach surrounded, although we are in a state of constant production, but in the meantime, they mowed down the spinach patch.

My animus toward our cute little cotton-tailed friends is nothing compared to Alistair’s.

The state of Kansas is compensating for nearly two years of drought by hosting marathon rain sessions, a benefit of which has been that the pond has filled for the first time in as many years. The negatives are twofold: first, the rain tends to drive us inside where we become a little stir crazy and hyperactive; second, when we have a brief break in the downpours, we all spill outside to romp around in what amounts to a muddy, mucky mess.

Always opportunistic, we had a break this evening accompanied by a little sunshine, so we leashed up and headed out for some exercise. Unfortunately, the rabbits had the same idea.

Al saw the rabbit first. I was able to keep pace for about 5 strides, and then we hit this depression. My eyes the size of saucers, I “decided” to attempt a bold slalom land-shark move which consisted of lifting my right foot up and “skating” through the mud on my left leg. Alternatively, I lost my balance and hit the brakes Scooby-Doo-and-Shaggy style.

No one was more surprised than me when I found myself upright on the uphill side of this exercise.

Note the recurring theme: I stood at the top of this schism, wide-eyed and breathless when along meandered K. “Did you see that?!” I exclaim. “No, what happened? Are you o.k.?” comes the standard reply. I motion toward the skid with my head (I am standing on Al’s leash at this point, both hands pressed into my lower back where I am most certain I have experienced a strain which will require extensive beer therapy). K sizes up the skid, takes note of my muddy foot and asks, “Why don’t we ever have a camera when we need one?”

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Just Another Outing

We were headed out to a fundraiser for a literacy program on Friday evening, and I thought that it would be nice to take the dogs out for one last romp before we vacated the premises for the evening.

Al, our foster dog, is just about the sweetest, most well-dispositioned animal you could ask for. He is affectionate and attentive, at least until you get into the great outdoors. Sunlight and fresh air summon the puppy resting deep within his 150-pound frame to bubble up to the surface. He jumps, runs, barks and frolics, but he DOES NOT LISTEN, meaning chiefly, he does not come when called.

We have tried exercises where K stands at one end of the levee and I walk him to the other end. We turn him around, K gets his attention, I let go of his leash, and she calls him. About 75% of the time, he goes bounding straight for her, pulling up just at the critical moment where I cover my eyes, and where, if it were happening to me, K would begin to laugh. The other 25% of the time, he veers off to the side, choosing to skirt the edge of the pond to run at the goat fence, or to go crashing through the woods. One such time, he emerged from the woods, and headed up through the neighbor’s pasture, with me in hot pursuit.

Betcha’ didn’t know, but it is well neigh impossible to whistle while running.

On another occasion, as he made the return run to me, instead of pulling up, he danced around me, running full-bore. I reflexively reached out and took the leash as he whizzed past but could not arouse the conscious part of my mind in time to command my hand to “let go,” resulting in what may have looked from afar a lot like a blow-up doll tied to the back bumper of a honeymooner’s Ferrari.

Although I had already showered, I was still in my grubby clothes when I took Al and the krewe out for one final trip Friday afternoon. We headed north to the area around the goat pasture. I practiced commands with Al. He sat. He lay down. He heeled. The prospect of Al responding when I issued the “come” command, or even in response to a whistle, looked fair to cloudy. It looked promising enough that I let him off his leash.

I hadn’t anticipated the rabbit.

By the time I caught up with Al in the woods, I had slid down the back side of the levee, tripped and fallen across the bed of a stream, caught my shirt in barbed wire, slid back up the side of the levee, left flesh and hair trail markers along the schizophrenic and virgin path cut through the woods, and taken sizable mud samples from various locations around the property. My knee had a gash in it sizeable enough to bleed and continue bleeding throughout the evening. My theory is the copious amounts of alcohol I consumed through the evening promoted blood circulation and healing.

As has happened so many times before in the misadventures at MisFit Farm, I came trudging up the path, weary and forlorn, to meet a fresh and smiling K. She met me with the inevitable question, “Are you o.k.?” To which I responded in due understatement, haggard, muddy and bleeding, “I may need to freshen up a bit before we go.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


It wasn’t until last November that I came to the realization that Scooby Doo © is a Great Dane. I don’t know why I hadn’t put the association together earlier. Now that this piece of information has been pointed out to me, it makes total sense: size, markings, tail, ears, temperament. I guess I always just thought that Scooby was an archetypal “dog,” breed non-specific. But believe me, he is all Dane.

Last night, or early this morning, about 4 a.m., we were treated to a “Zoiks!” moment by Al. Although it is difficult to put together the details from my sleep-addled brain, my reconstruction of this morning’s events are thus:

In very quick succession, one of the baby gates that was leaned against the wall fell over with a reasonable clatter. Out of alarm, Al sprung up from a dead sleep, somehow plucking himself from the very tiny space where he sleeps wedged between the bed and the wall (the previous hole in the sheetrock has grown from the size of a softball to the size of a soccer ball, thanks to this sleeping arrangement) and landing with all fours on the bed where K and I were peacefully reposed in slumber.

Upon landing with his forepaws somewhere in K’s chest region, she let out a burst of sound reminiscent of a goat being violently squeezed, a parrot coughing and a cat in heat, all captured in one vocalization.

As I lay there laughing, I couldn’t figure out whether I was laughing at K’s ridiculous noise, or the ridiculous notion that a 160 pound dog would be so frightened of a noise that he would have reacted so.
And then I remembered, Scooby Doo was a
Great Dane.