Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30, 2009 - Moments

In spite of what some people probably think, after reading my on-line posts and stories, the Shady Rest isn’t always a laugh-a-minute circus. It’s never dull, mind you, but often it is, as its name suggests, a place of peace, where the quiet rhythms of daily life predominate. Days without “episodes” so much as “moments,” the kinds of moments you take for granted unless you consciously stop and think about it.

Moments like running the obstacle course from the office to the kitchen for a coffee refill. I’m sure it would seem troublesome to those who have no pets, or maybe one, but here it’s a taken-for-granted routine. Move Spencer off my foot, warn Sammie I’m moving so I don’t run over his toes, roll the chair back, get up. Pick up the coffee mug, step over Freya dozing in the doorway. Down the hall, veering to the right so as to not step on George, who is once again sleeping half in the hall and half in the bathroom. Get to the kitchen, dodge to the left to miss Archie, who has guard duty in the kitchen arch this afternoon. Slow down while passing the sink because Peapod will be running over to watch me pour the coffee. Fill the cup, then carefully reverse the whole process to get back to my desk without sloshing hot coffee on myself or anyone else, then evict Loki from my desk chair before sitting down again. Not a problem, not unusual, that’s just how you get coffee here.

Of course there are times when just leaving the office at all is fraught with adventure. Yesterday, for example, Spencer was sound asleep and Cj got up and left the room. He didn't notice, but when she came back down the hall, he woke up, saw movement in the hall and charged her! Back up, barking his head off, and nearly bit her! He slid to a stop by her ankle, sniffed it, and his little tail just unrolled. He felt so bad about attacking his mama. His head drooped and he came back in the office and flopped down on the snuggle bed, barely looking in her direction. Of course she came in, rubbed his head, told him he was a very good boy for defending the mamas, and that any misunderstanding was forgiven. He perked up a little, but still looked a little discouraged. My brave defender.

Sometimes, it’s not even “moments,” so much as snapshots. You know the ones. Images you see in passing that stick in your mind for years, or forever, and always make you feel good when they bubble to the surface of your mind. Waking up yesterday morning to Sammie, flat on his back, paws in all directions, head on my pillow, sheet covering him up to the armpits, and snoring softly. Nothing “happened,” but that picture will stay in my head in Sammie’s file of memories. Walking by the bedroom and noticing Freya and Spencer (who don’t always get along really well) sound asleep together on the bed, with her muzzle resting on his hip. Peapod, lying in the path of the fan, head back, eyes half-open, just enjoying the breeze ruffling his ears. George, standing in the kitchen, barking fiercely at the bookcase for no reason that anyone but George comprehends. Snapshots.

It’s late, but the day isn’t done yet. I still have to go out to the kitchen and strip a chicken. I tossed a whole bird in the stew pot this afternoon, just for the dogs, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of supervision for that project, canine and feline alike. Nothing like a chicken to bring a fur family together.

Yep, just another day at the Shady Rest. Y’all take care now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24, Some Pics from Yesterday


I'm still a little pooped from yesterday, so this will be short, but I wanted to share a couple of the pics I took at the event.

Here's our crew at the registration/check in table. Unfortunately, I could never quite find a chance to get a pic without the sign, because there were so many people checking in. This is a good thing!

Here are the OPR booths, with sales, Pennies For Pugs weigh-in, donations, information and general good-natured cameraderie all day long.

Annie the pug's folks, with Annie under Dad's knee. For all her obedience training, she just wasn't into the "come out and smile for the camera" thing. Such a sweet family.
Y'all take care. I'll see you soon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 23, 2009 – New Life, Sickness, Healing, Death – a Microcosm of Life on a Sunny Saturday at the Park.

Today was the annual Ohio Pug Rescue Reunion Picnic, a grand and always-popular day to go to a beautiful park with your own pugs, show off your foster pugs, greet the Alumni (former OPR pugs that have been adopted and are now living large in their Forever Homes), play games, eat hot dogs, shop the vendors, and buy as many raffle tickets as you can squeeze out of your retirement fund. It always makes money for the rescued pugs and a good time is always had by all, and sometimes, it can even make you think about life’s Bigger Things.

Bigger Things, like new life. There were a LOT of puppies in attendance this year, some just barely old enough to have had their shots and be in public. Their energy, curiosity, playfulness and puppy-clumsiness gave smiles all around. It takes a hard heart indeed not to grin when a tiny, wall-eyed pug puppy is climbing on your foot, trying to sniff your ankle, meet your dog, and eat his leash, all at once.

Bigger Things, like a fresh chance at life. One of the most rewarding moments of being in rescue is seeing a former rescued pug, one you remember as skinny, sick, or scared, now fluffy, happy and confident, adored by his new family and having the chance at a second life that is much better than the first one.

Bigger Things, like sickness and healing. I met an older couple today, wonderful people, and their little pug girl. They had married when he was in his late 70’s and she in her late 60’s (which already won my heart – I’m a sap for a good love story, particularly one that involves people over 30.) When they wed they agreed “No pets, not even a bowl of goldfish.” That lasted until they fell in love with a pug, one in a television commercial, no less. They stopped whatever they were doing when it came on and watched for the pug (they still don’t recall what the advertisement was for, they only remember the pug.) He became ill and was hospitalized. To cheer him, she brought him pictures of pugs to put up in his room, until one day he told her, “I want one. I want a pug.” Knowing that some commitments are more important than others, she agreed, and when he came home, they found a good breeder and picked out a puppy. Not surprisingly, the lucky puppy was the one that toddled right up to him and snuggled in like she already knew where she belonged (and I have no doubt she did.) She told him, “You are responsible for this dog. You have to feed it, walk it, train it.” And so he did. Nearly 80 and fresh out of the hospital, he took the puppy out in the middle of the night for potty breaks. He bent and reached to fill her bowl and serve her, and in the process of all the work that goes into a puppy, he improved. He improved so much that now the couple is attending pug events with their pug, and so much that his rehab nurse is recommending pug ownership to many of her patients for faster, better healing. Medicine is strong, the animal-human bond even stronger.

Bigger Things, like death. One rarely expects Death to appear, and especially not on a sunny, happy, spring day of fun. Still, about halfway through the picnic, the dreaded cry that no one EVER wants to hear rang out – “PUG DOWN!” People ran – rescuers, volunteers, guests – with only one thought. “How can I help?” Cell phones emerged like wildflowers in spring as a dozen people, some with a cell in each hand, dialed frantically to find a vet that might be open on a Saturday afternoon, or at least might have a vet on call, or an emergency vet clinic closer than the other side of town. Two EMT’s in the crowd immediately started full CPR when it became evident the condition was worse than simple overheating. They didn’t hesitate at mouth-to-snout rescue breathing or chest compressions. One member called ahead to the emergency clinic so they’d be ready, then drove the pug (Barney) and his mom so mom wouldn’t have to drive in a panic, and they followed another member who drove so there would be no time wasted getting lost. As they pulled from the parking lot, the entire assembled crowd fell silent, as everyone prayed to whoever they pray to for this little pug. When the call came later with the outcome, the activities of the moment were interrupted, and with a breaking voice, the announcer let us all know that Barney had not made it. Another silence descended as everyone stopped to wish Barney safe passage to the other side, and to ask for strength and comfort for his family.

The Biggest Thing – Love. Barney’s mom returned to the picnic, gracious in her grief, to thank all those who had worked so hard to save her boy, to see if she’d won the 50/50 raffle, not because the money was more important to her than her loss, but because if she did win, she wanted to donate her half to the rescue in Barney’s memory, and to find, perhaps, some comfort in the company of those who would understand her pain better than any one – fellow pugfolk. A collection was taken, among people who had already dug down to the lint in their pockets to help the rescue, and the money was raised to cover Barney’s vet bill and cremation bill.

(NOTE: The vet confirmed that a heart attack, probably from underlying and undiagnosed cardiac problems, took Barney to the Bridge, the heat was NOT the cause. I do NOT want anyone mistakenly thinking, because I wasn't clear, that he was not properly cared for in the warm weather. He was a happy, well-loved and well - cared for pug who will be sorely missed.)

The Shady Rest pugs – Sammie, George, Archie and Peapod, were, of course, in attendance (Loki and Spencer, not being OPR pugs, relaxed at home with Freya and the cats) and were a big hit. They came home tired, hungry and a little overdosed on ear-rubs, belly-scritches and general making over. They’re all sound asleep now, except for Archie, who should have no tummy fur left after all the belly rubs he received. Archie is guarding the bedroom door, smiling benevolently and content with his lot. Humanity could learn much about life, death, love, comfort and contentment from pugs, and from the people who love them.

Y’all take care of yourselves, and of each other.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20, 2009 Hidden Treasures


Well, it's been quite a day - while I was at work, Archie, occupied himself with tormenting Cj.

She let the dogs out for morning potty and Archie strolled out with them. Normally, Archie confines his morning constitutional to the deck, being not overly fond of the steps to the yard. When she returned just moments later to let them back in, Archie was nowhere to be seen. Concerned, she stepped out on the deck to find him, expecting him to be either just behind the corner of the grill and out of sight, or perhaps, if the warm weather had him feeling adventurous, browsing at the base of the steps. Nope. No Archie. Cj begins roaming the yard. It's been recently mowed, so he's not lost in the grasses or anything. No sign of him. Now she's getting worried. Could he have somehow gotten out?? How?! The fence is secure, gates closed and secured, no holes a squirrel could have gotten through, much less a pug of Archie's dimensions. She goes back to the door, summons Freya the pugherd and Peapod, Archie's best buddie, to help her, figuring one of them will go right to him. She follows them all over the yard. Still no luck. As she returns to the deck, she sees movement from the corner of her eye. There he sits, the cause of all this effort, on the bottom shelf of the grill, watching benignly as she drives herself and the other dogs crazy looking for him. Archie, were he human, would be considered legally blind, not totally. Details escape him but he is capable of watching large shapes in motion - like a full-figured human circling the yard - and seemed to be enjoying being the object of the fuss. Once he was spotted and the game was up, he toddled back in the house under his own steam, the very picture of cooperation.

Yep, just another day at the Shady Rest. Y'all take care.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009 - Introduction

I probably ought to start by introducing the current residents of the Shady Rest, so the rest of the blog makes some kind of sense, or at least as much sense as it can, in a house full of pugs.

The Permanent Residents:
Ky - your mistress of ceremonies, ringmaster of the circus, keeper of the zoo, cook and bottlewasher.
Cj. - Ever-patient, pug-loving life mate to Ky, alternate cook and bottlewasher.
Freya - 7 year old Belgian Malinois/Chow mix, alpha canine, professional pugherd.
Sammie - 10-year-old fawn male, rescue pug, Ky's shadow. Good natured and mostly sensible.
Spencer - 5-year-old fawn male, a big, happy, loving lug, body like a tank, heart like a teddy bear.
Loki - 6-year-old black male. Our Ebony Einstein, he's not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he makes up for it in being very sweet. Chaos follows him despite his not having a deliberately malicious bone in his little body.

The Fosters:
George - Senior Foster. 11-year-old, totally blind fawn male. Movie-star handsome, alternately sweet and grumpy.
Archie - 12-year-old mostly-blind foster with some, um..., "weight issues." He's on a serious diet and exercise program.
Peapod - 3-year-old fawn male. Sweet, polite little gentleman.

The Cats:
Spare - 8 year-old orange tabby boy. Reincarnation of some Zen monk taking a vacation between human lives. He is the most calm, mellow, unflappably philosophical cat I've ever met. Loves dogs.
Thor - 7-year-old, solid black male. Handsome, and a bit of a clingy mama's boy.
Kali - 10-year-old white on the bottom, black and orange on the top calico girl. Well beyond shy, she's lived in the half-bathroom for nearly three years now. She enjoys the occasional quiet visit, but isn't much for going out.

Here's your Shady Rest story for today. Perhaps it will give you a bit of a feel for what's to come.

Foraging honey bees perform a dance upon their return to the hive. A "waggle dance" indicates that food is farther away, while the "round dance" indicates food is nearby. The laden forager dances on the comb in a circular pattern, occasionally crossing the circle in a zig-zag or waggle pattern. The runs and turns of the dance correlate to the distance and direction of the food source from the hive. The orientation of the dance correlates to the relative position of the sun to the food source, and the length of the waggle portion of the run is correlated to the distance from the hive. The more vigorous the display is, the better the food.

This was brought to mind as I was watching Archie preparing to have a poop. He goes around and around, head down, his nose the maypole around which the rest of him circles. He changes directions, waggles back and forth, zig-zags. From the movement, duration and vigor of his dance, he resembles nothing so much as a very, very pudgy, beige bee describing to an Ohio hivemate a particularly tasty flower somewhere in Albania. He paces briefly back and forth, then zeroes in again on his target foci. Around and around his plump butt goes. He's making ME sweat, he's working so hard at it. Then, finally, his message complete, he freezes. Slowly the butt lowers and the moment comes. A poop the size of a chapstick. That's it. Just one. So much effort, so little result. Still, pleased with himself, he smiles as he rolls off to take a well-deserved nap.

Yep, just another day at the Shady Rest. Y'all take care now.