Houston, we have a problem

He came to us with the name Bear Bear.  Weighing a diminutive 9 ½ pounds, Mom didn’t think he needed 2 names, plus having a BB and a Bear Bear in the house was just dumb. So we shortened his name to simply: Bear.

He is adorable, smart, funny and housebroken, perfect in every way- just like me!

Bear was instantly nicknamed “Snuggle bunny”, which I thought was super corny and so did he. Fortunately it never really stuck; we mostly just call him Bear.

He did poop on the new carpet that first day (needless to say, Tommy was less than thrilled), but it was suggested he be forgiven as Mom explained to us: “give him a break-he is still in transition.” She must have been right, he never did it again.

Note to self: look up the word “transition.”

Bear and I hit it off immediately. It was like he always lived here. We play together (as much as I can play, that is- with my luxating patella* and all), we eat together and we sleep together. I wasn’t thrilled about the sleeping part – but one night he crawled into my bed after having a bad dream, and I didn’t want to be rude so I let him stay. You’re nothing if you don’t have manners.

We are like brothers. “ Ebony and Ivory”.

He is such a good boy that Mom puts the crate back in the basement-and we all hang out together like one big happy family.

We did have one small issue, when he tried to claim Mom’s lap. But Mom, sensing my displeasure, quietly removed the tiny intruder and gently deposited him onto a surprised (and less than thrilled) Tommy’s lap. Bear snuggled in and tragedy was adverted!

After that, Tommy just fell in love with the kid (I call him kid because he is 5 years my junior). He softly strokes his head, kissing him all over and (in a baby voice believe it or not) whispers, “ Who’s my little Bear Bear?” into his neck- it’s endearing yet disturbing at the same time.

I personally think Bear is responsible for sealing the deal with Tom when it comes to Mom’s future involvement in fostering.

Friends start dropping in to see the “new foster” and everyone agrees he is cute as a button.

If buttons were furry little maniacs, that is.

Houston, we have a problem.

I’m serious; the kid has a serious problem! Mom calls it: leash aggression. I call it: being a first class asshole. Either way, it’s not good!!

This, my friends, is what “going for a walk” should entail:

1. Mom grabs the leash.

2. I wiggle about and wag my tail with enthusiasm (she loves that)

3. We proceed to walk down the street, greeting the neighbors with friendly hellos (her) and sniffing butts (me).

4. We wander down to the trail, smelling every blade of grass, and leave little urine messages for the next dog that might pass by.

One might read: “BB was here”.

Another: This is MY fire hydrant”

It’s our favorite time of the day, and a great time is usually had by all.

This is what going for a walk with Bear is like:

1. Mom grabs the leash

2. We wiggle about wagging our tails with enthusiasm (it’s even cuter in stereo)

3. We tumble outside to walk down the street where Bear proceeds to LOSE HIS FRIGGIN MIND. He barks, growls and snarls all the while pulling at the leash like he wants to rip someone’s throat out.

I scream at him: “Hey kid, cool it!- that guy walking by with his golden retriever is a friend of Moms,” my reprimand doesn’t phase him. People start crossing to the other side of the street when they see us coming. Mom and I are completely embarrassed.

Going for walk is no longer our favorite time of the day. We’ve started to dread it. Mom asks Tommy to get her a water pistol so she can “correct” Bear’s behavior. I’m not sure if he thought it was funny, but he came home with a life sized water “machine gun” and the sight of poor old Mom packing heat in our quiet little neighborhood frightened the small children- so that didn’t last.

Then the strangest thing happened. One day the force that was driving Bear to act this way grew so big it took on a life of it’s own, this new life form (let’s call it….I don’t know…. Satan?) began to hover over my entire body and slowly  take possession. Next thing I know I’m right beside him barking, growling, snarling and pulling on the leash. I couldn’t control myself…and it was GREAT.

A very shocked and confused Mom tries to drag us both home.

“ Hey you, Blondie, you want a piece of me!?” I scream to the golden retriever across the street.

“You tell him BB!” Bear is right beside me egging me on- I can tell the kid has my back.

“ BB, what wrong with you, its me, Chip, from down the street. We sniffed butts  and decided to be friends, like, 3 years ago, remember?” the golden is clearly insulted.

“Bite Me!” I scream with a new found joy.

It gets so bad; Mom makes us do our business in the back yard now.

Hmmmpf.

*Luxating patella (or trick knee) is a condition in which the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of its normal location. In some dogs the ridges forming the patellar groove are not prominent, and a too-shallow groove is created. In a dog with shallow grooves, the patella will luxate (jump out of the groove) sideways, especially toward the inside. This causes the leg to ‘lock up’ with the foot held off the ground. Smaller breeds of dogs, especially Miniature and Toy Poodles, have the highest incidence of patella luxation. Genetics can play a role.

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The Science of Dog Hair

Fine Readers,

Today I’d like to go off topic (please indulge me):

I’d like to take a moment to have a scientific and somewhat technical discussion about the different varieties of canine hair.

The two basic types are explained below:

The Superior Kind

This type of hair can be described as fluffy, soft, and silky to the touch. It comes in a variety of colors, the most desirable being white. People who don’t usually like dogs are known to gently stroke the heads of breeds that sport this type of hair with minimal revulsion. Yes, folks-It is THAT wonderful. And it’s quite rare- I seldom see a dog with superior type hair unless I look in the mirror. Which is difficult to do, since Mom tends to selfishly hang mirrors at heights suitable only to humans.

But the greatest benefit of superior hair is the miraculous way each follicle holds onto each individual hair with all its might. That follicle won’t let go for the rest of that lucky hair’s life. Sure, the hair continues to grow and becomes long and unruly over time. When this happens, the hygiene challenged among us might occasionally find a dingle berry bouncing merrily beneath the tail like a stinky little hitchhiker. But that’s where the mobile dog groomer enters the picture. After a wash, cut and blow-dry, the superior haired dog is good as new. (and smells exceptionally lovely)

Those brave little follicles, still holding on tight to their precious hair cargo- breath a sigh of relief from their lightened load. Being groomed is an enjoyable experience and virtually painless, though I do hear Mom let out a cry when she writes the check.

Below, you can see the before and after grooming pictures of a superior haired dog.

Before: the scruffy and cute “dog next door” look.

After: the suave and sophisticated “man about town” look (think: James Bond)  The mean-spirited among us might say” OMG-he looks like a girl”

All other Kinds

The rest of the types can all be labeled as merely “fur.” They run the gamut from short and coarse (think: hound), to midsized and wiry (think: terrier), to long, thick and tangled (think: golden retriever). They all have one thing in common: the tendency to smell a little funky. When people who don’t like dogs accidentally come in contact with a creature with fur- they will run to the nearest sink and wash their hands in lye.

The follicles on these breeds willingly let go of their assigned hair with the slightest provocation: a soft breeze, an ambitious fart, or sometimes just for the fun of it. The newly liberated hairs gently ride the air currents of your home to eventually land on sweaters, countertops, or their favorite place of all: the mashed potatoes on your dinner plate.  These errant hairs tend to accumulate under the couch, where they group together to form small colonies of animals known as dust bunnies. Left alone long enough- they have been known to come alive. I kid you not.

Below are before and after grooming photos of a dog with “fur”

At certain times of the year- instead of one piece at a time- the offending hairs come out in clumps. I recently had the misfortune of witnessing a dog that was in the process of  “blowing her coat”. Which basically refers to the time of year when a dog, in this case Nessa, our gentle giant houseguest, releases 80% of her hair in about 2 days.

If you are not familiar with this term, don’t feel bad. We weren’t either until Auntie A gave Mom a quick education on the subject, while she smiled with glee that it happened at our house instead of hers.

Mom was vacuuming up wads of Nessa-hair for 3 weeks. I tactfully suggested that maybe she should get the vacuum out more often- sometimes it a good thing that she can’t hear it when I speak.

Why am I bringing up all of this “hair/fur” nonsense you ask?

Just a few hours ago we welcomed foster #3 to the house. I knew it was coming. Mom was displaying all the signs:

Flitting around the house, singing like a schoolgirl and boiling chicken (Tommy would NEVER eat boiled chicken- he is a gourmet chef for gods sake). Finally, when she pulled old Abby Girl’s crate out from the basement, I knew I was doomed.

When he walked through the door this fine Saturday morning (with mom, who was smiling like an idiot), I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was beautiful, he was wonderful, and he had hair like me!

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A Visit from Nessa

 You won’t believe it Readers,

We are expecting a celebrity guest and the house is buzzing with excitement!

Of course, sophisticated breeds like myself rub elbows with celebrities all the time so it’s really no big deal – but I’m still thrilled for Mom. Nessa should be arriving any minute now!

You see, Nessa is a rescue celebrity and lives with my Auntie A. She is considered a “long timer” because she can’t be adopted for a while due to health issues. Her medical bills are so high; a plea for financial help was posted on the rescue website, accompanied by a blog reporting on her progress. (imagine that, a dog with a blog-hmm) She is like the poster dog for the rescue world and absolutely anyone who’s anyone knows who she is. When she makes a public appearance people clamor to have their picture taken with her. And she is coming to OUR house. Mom is just giddy over it.

Now Auntie A is Moms go-to-girl with all things dog related. Housebreaking, behavior issues, medical care, Mom emails her daily with her incessant questions. Quite frankly, I’m surprised she hasn’t blocked Moms email address a long time ago. So when Auntie A put out a foster sitting request for her poor Nessa: Mom jumped at the chance.

I sit Abby down for a talk; I speak slow and loud, like I’m talking to a simpleton who is hard of hearing: “we must be very gentle with poor Nessa. Don’t bother her for any reason, that means no sniffing, no jumping or teasing, and for god’s sake: no horseplay!” (I want to giggle at my excellent choice of the word “horseplay” but-I have on my serious face now)

“She’s had multiple surgerys, you know.” Abby interupts me at this point as she is not familiar with the term “surgery”.   I lost a good half hour of my life right there, explaining to old Abby Girl what the word “surgery” means- yep-that’s 30 minutes I’ll never get back.

 I continue: ”You must promise  be on your best behavior Abbadabbbadoo,  OK? because she is going to be very fragile, poor Nessa!”

 I go on to explain that she is most likely one of those sissy-type breeds, a Chihuahua or maybe a Chinese Crested with missing teeth and all. She’ll probably be wearing a prissy  pink sweater that she has to keep on, even indoors, or she’ll catch a life threatening chill. We mustn’t poke fun. Abby hangs onto my every word-which kind of nice. I feel like a big brother for the first time in my life.

 Auntie A arrives at 8 pm sharp.

We are lined up at the door, a hairy little receiving line of 2.

And this is what walks through the door:

 Poor Nessa, my ass!

A three ton behemoth monster of a dog with a head the size of a Buick lumbers inside. A grisley scar runs down the entire length of her back leg and half of her right ear is torn off.  Think: junk yard dog meets Cujo. Not only is she is the most frightening creature I have ever seen; this girl looks like she knows her way around a knife fight. Abby suggests we frisk her and we both take a few steps closer to Mom. Nessa strolls past us without uttering a word, but I can imagine what she is thinking;

“Back off kids: I eat dogs bigger than you for breakfast!”

 A gnarled stick, the size of a telephone poll, is clamped in her giant mouth; she twirls it around like a damn toothpick.

 Now Readers, let me stop right there and reflect on how this moment can serve as a lesson to us all.

 Things aren’t always as they appear.

That night, Nessa couldn’t make it up the stairs to go to sleep, too much pain in the back leg from all of her surgeries.  Mom tried to help, pushing from behind, but Nessa is so big and heavy. After just 3 steps poor Nessa sighed, found her giant stick, and slowly walked into the living room to rest on Jeanie’s old fluffy bed.  That night, upstairs in my bed, I lay awake thinking of her all alone down there and I realized that big old stick in nothing more than a giant binky.

Poor Nessa.

I drifted off and dreamed I was sleeping beside her.

Nessa stayed with us for a week, and she was a wonderful guest: quiet, graceful and polite. She carried that binky-stick everywhere she went and (according to her) the best moments with us were sitting in the sun munching on her stick while Mom pulled weeds in the garden. I hear she finally found her forever family, her achy bones have healed, and she can finally walk up the stairs unassisted.  Her new mom doesn’t call her poor Nessa anymore- She calls her “Sweet Nessa.” I feel a rush of for love for Auntie A, for sticking by Nessa through thick and thin.

  Abby left a week after that, odd to admit, but miss her. It seems like the ones who turn your life upside down so completely leave the biggest hole when they are gone. I was sure Mom  wouldn’t cry this time around- but she did. (weenie)

She was adopted to a wonderful couple with a fenced in yard and a pool (just like Jeanie)

I can’t help but wonder………….

How come WE don’t have pool???

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Abby Blossoms – apparently

Dear Readers,

August 19th, 2010: Mark the date.

Because, according to Mom, Abby had a red-letter day, and we are all supposed to be thrilled to pieces about it. One full week with no accidents (Side note: “accidents” is human speak for crapping in the house) and a few well-timed moments of good behavior and suddenly she is the center of the universe.

“She is really blossoming” Mom gossips to the neighbors.

On the phone with Grandma: “It’s so nice to see, Mom, I mean she is really blossoming.”

And with Tommy: “Ewww, isn’t it wonderful Honey, Abby seems to be just Blahhhsuuuuummmming.” (to get the full effect of my sarcasm- you have to say that last one in a high voice and a British accent)

God, she must have used that word 100 times in the last 2 days. If that’s not bad enough, they have started calling her Abba-dabba-do. All dogs know that once the nicknames come out- all past sins are forgiven and the humans become putty in your hands, even backwoods Abby, who sits there grinning: “How do you like me now-HA”

“Dare I say it” mom announces with a smile ”I believe she is ready to be listed as available for adoption”

My heart skips a beat-excuse me? Did I hear that correctly?

You know, when I squint my eyes really hard and tilt my head; I actually DO see that blossomy thing everyone is talking about.

Let’s get that adoption process started, shall we?

Soon after that epiphany, Mom and Tommy announce they are going to the beach for a week. I’ll be packed off to grandmas where she and I  will wile away the days doing crossword puzzles in the sun, eating greenies  (doggie crack- for you less informed) and having a generally marvelous time. I LOVE my Grandma. She heats my food in the microwave and lets me sleep under the covers.

But what to do with Abby we all wonder?  Mom sends out a timid request for a foster sitter. She is still in that “looking for acceptance stage” and hates that folks might think she is irresponsible for going away. (I’ll spare you the “humans are stupid” speech this go round) Almost instantly Auntie M steps up to the plate with an offer to take old Abby girl for a week. We all breathe a sigh of relief.

Now my Auntie M is not to be confused with the standard issue Auntie Em. You know the one: the fat, grey haired, bun wearing woman, slopping hogs in a house dress and apron with Toto nipping at her heels. Mine is tall, pretty and blonde (think: Yowza!)

She is one of Mom’s rescue friends and has talents that rival the dog whisperer (I’m talking about Caesar Milan- try and stay with me people) Her house is a foster haven with a huge outdoor doggie play area, lots of toys and a pond (with fish). I’ve heard rumors that she even lets dogs swim in the pond, as long as they don’t eat the fish.  She is a one-woman adoption machine and no problem is too much for her to handle. If dogs ran the world (which I truly believe we could- if we could just master that can opener thing), Auntie M would have a tall green statue erected in her honor, the placard would read: Give me your homeless, your abandoned, your non-housebroken masses. It would be against the law to pee on it.

But, I digress.

A week later mom returns to pick me up. She looks tan and rested and if I squint my eyes really hard and tilt my head- she looks thinner.

(Note to self: Send Jeanie an email about Mom’s possible weight loss- those “fat one” comments are starting to piss me off)

The three of us spend a glorious evening alone together and pick up Abby the next morning. Auntie M greets us at the door and announces that Abba-dabba-doo was a joy to have around and they will surely miss her. She is such a lovely dog.

And since she had some free time, she updated Abby’s online profile, created a Dogster page and added a video.

With a self important smirk, Abby shoots me a quiet “na na na booboo”

On the way home Abby delights in recounting the stories of her weeklong adventure:  partying it up with Auntie M’s 7 dogs (yes, you heard me right, I said 7- some fosters, some hers) and how much cooler than me they were. I pretend to sleep for the rest of the drive.

Then Mom gets a phone call:

Abby has an adoption application!

Be still my beating heart!   I owe you one Auntie M!

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Welcome foster number 2: Lord help us all

My Dearest Readers,

Being part poodle, I consider myself to be a refined animal. Though I realize this is a stereotype, you must admit, we are a sophisticated breed.

At my house our radio is set to NPR, we watch only educational TV, like The History Channel, and we read lots of books. (Mom also watches American Idol, but asked me not to mention that)                                                                                 It’s a cultured, peaceful life that I have come to love and adore.

So you can imagine my surprise when Mom comes home with this backwoods trollop who strolls into the living room and proceeds to take a crap on Tommy’s favorite Oriental rug.

Side note: Please don’t judge me for not calling Tommy “Dad.”  Mom married him 21 years ago (that’s 3 years to you readers) and while I didn’t like him at first, it turns out- he’s a pretty great guy.  But Mom and I were together way before they ever met- so calling him Dad just feels wrong.

Back to the situation at hand:

My delicate senses have been assaulted and the offensive force has come in the form of a Jack Russell Terrier/ Beagle mix named Abby. The less intelligent among us might call her a “Jack-a-bee.” She has short, coarse, funny smelling hair (not soft and perfumed like yours truly) and big black freckles on her skin.

She runs indoors, jumps on the furniture, pulls the stuffing from Jeanie’s beloved bed and that was all on the first day! The list of infractions is numerous, and counting. This girl is out of control; she is rowdy and, my God- does not even know her basic commands. She jumps on the humans every damn time they walk through the door.                                                                               I shout: “Abby!, they were only gone for 10 minutes, geez”. It doesn’t help.            No manners whatsoever! Have I mentioned I am cultured and refined?

For the next week Abby continues to poop in the house. She pooped in the bedroom, the  basement, the attic, the hallway; you name the place- she pooped there. On the rare occasion when she does do her business outside- Mom drops to her knees bellowing praises and doling out treats: you’d think Abby had solid gold nuggets flying out out of her ass.                                                     As a result: Abby now sleeps in a crate in the kitchen.                                                   I feign concern, but inside I am humming “na na na boo boo.”

Mom seems despondent. She types away on the computer with her rescue friends, looking for advice. Tonight I feel her worry: “maybe I’m just not cut out for this.” Tommy is less than thrilled. In his defense, he loved that rug- which is currently rolled up at the curb for Tuesday morning garbage pickup.

On the positive side, it ends up this Abby character is pretty bright. Mom taught her the command for “sit” in one day. Not bad!                                                   The jumping problem is solved in 3 lessons by giving her treats when she remains “down”.  Walking on a leash? She got that after 5 short walks. She may be rough around the edges- but damn, is she smart. Plus- the people we meet while out walking on the trail all say she is beautiful, I don’t see it, but it’s still nice to hear. Mom walks a little taller.

Still and all, everyone is hoping this mutt gets adopted soon.

Peace Out,

BB

PS                                                                                                                                                          I got a short email from Jeanie today. God was I glad to hear from her.

It read:

Dear BB, thanks for letting me stay with you while I was in transition. Just writing to let you to know-I have hit the rescue dog jackpot! I now have 2 have devoted parents, a fenced in yard- (with a pool!) and a normal sized dog to play with (no offense). Life doesn’t get better then this. Last week my new sister and I went to a doggie spa and my fur still emits a hint of lavender. Guess I can’t tease you about being a sissy boy with a mobile dog groomer anymore-haha. All I ever wanted is what you had…and now I do!

Talk to you later sissy boy.

Please give the fat one a kiss for me,

Jeanie

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Transport Day

Dear Readers,

I have quickly come to learn what “transport day” means.

Once a month Mom gets all excited, grabs her camera and runs out the door with no more than a pat on the head for me. She leaves with a bag of treats in her pocket, a bottle of water and some of those baggies she uses to pick up my poop (so gross) All the while complaining that she is running late and about cleaning crates. First off- I have no idea what a crate is and more important: I NEVER get to go with her.

hrmmph

Her very first transport day was different; she was nervous and carried no treats. She was wondering what the other people would be like, if they would like her.  Not the point at all, if you think about it. Humans are so complicated. If we don’t like another dog- we bark and snarl and go on our way-no big deal. Not humans- they want so much to be accepted.  Stupid.

But I especially love it when she comes home on those days- I bury my head in her lap and breathe in the smells: the stinky, awful, wonderful, unmistakable aroma of other dogs. I smell their noses nuzzling the very spot that I now sniff. I wonder where they came from and what they look like?  What their pee smells like?

Why didn’t their moms keep them safe. My heart hurts at that last thought.

And if I concentrate, I can actually feel their sadness and confusion, their dread and fear and then the unbelievably impossible happens…I feel their hope. That moment when that particular dog heard the phrase “no, not this one- he is going to rescue.”

Mom (feeling guilty for leaving me home) cuddles and coos, rubbing my belly: “hi baby, do you smell puppies? do you smell puppies?” She calls all dogs puppies even old decrepit ones.

The picture is starting to become clear to me. I’ll recap for those less intelligent readers:

Apparently there are dogs out there that don’t have Moms or families, plenty of dogs. I don’t know why, but I do know it is not their fault. And, apparently, there are a whole bunch of people trying to help these dogs find a family. While my Mom is new at this- it has been going on for a long long time.

Bravo to the humans, I say! They are normally so selfish. (for example: they never share their food  and I happen to know Mom and Tommy did not leave the mailman a tip this Christmas- even though he is pretty cool about my barking at him on a daily basis)

I often hear her say- she has the easy part. The people who collect and care for these unwanted dogs are on the front line. They make difficult decisions everyday, decisions they hate to make- but have no choice.                  (Note to self: look up the word “front line”)

Tommy always asks her (on transport days) “ How were the dogs?

Her answer is always the same: “ The best bunch we ever got”

“You didn’t get a one?”

“No, not this go-round”

But today- her answer was different:

“ Actually, I am getting one on the next transport, hope you don’t mind” (her voice sounds odd, kind of nervous and creaky)

“ No problem Honey, hope this one is as great as Jeanie”

“I’m sure she will be”

HA!

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3 weeks later

Hello Fine Readers,

It’s been 3 weeks and Jeanie is still here. I hate to admit it, but I kind of like her, even though she’s friggin’ enormous. She’s quiet and she sleeps a lot, like me. Plus, she lets me use her bed sometimes. I heard Mom laughing one day recently “ Who would have guessed?..BB is an alpha dog…look, he has taken poor Jeanie’s bed and now poor Jeanie is trying to curl up in his bed…look at her trying to squeeze into that tiny bed..and look at her expression! haha, it looks like poor Jeanie is thinking “WTF”? Ha ha, it’s hysterical!”  Tommy was laughing too.

I wanted to shout: No, I wait!.. She let me have the bed- I swear! (she really is quite humble and accommodating)  But they never hear it when I speak. Hmmpf.

Sometimes, when we are home alone, I stare into her giant brown eyes and feel a twinge of sadness. I can tell she is worried about her future and remembers what having no home feels like.  I struggle to think of at time when I ever felt that alone and afraid.

Today, the unthinkable happened. Mom took Jeanie for a ride in the car, without ME! I’m beginning to think she likes Jeanie more then me and I’m just heartbroken. She has always called me her number one guy.

I heard a flurry of words I didn’t understand: “Forever family, adoption, a good match”, and I struggled to grasp the meaning of these words I have never heard and the next thing I knew- they were off. I watched them drive away through living room window. I saw Jeanie in the back seat; she looked almost regal -sitting straight and tall, like she knew she was on an important mission. At least she wasn’t  in my spot, in the front seat- maybe I’m still Mom’s number one guy after all, like she claims daily while rubbing my belly. I relax a bit.

A few hours later Mom returns without Jeanie, her eyes red and swollen. I smell a strange sense of sadness and accomplishment  coming from her-all mixed together. It’s so confusing to me. But like Jeanie said, humans are complicated. She was a smart hound.

Mom bends over, a tear running down her check, and gives me a tender kiss.

“But you still have me” I whisper in comfort, but she can’t hear me, like always.

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