Friday, August 28, 2009

August 28, 2009 - I try, I really do... not hurt anybody, not upset anybody. I'm not a violent person. So why are the ones I love and who allegedly love me trying to kill me???

I head for the kitchen, wanting only a coffee refill. Thor, the cat, comes zooming in, squacking at the top of his lungs for no apparent reason, and slams into my right foot. Wouldn't be much of a problem, except he hits hard enough (right on the ankle-bone, mind you) to smack the foot right out from under me. Again, wouldn't be a problem, but the other foot turns out to be in a little puddle from either Archie or George that I hadn't noticed, so it starts to slide. A good bit of flapping and blue verbiage ensues, but I manage to keep from going down. Put down the mug, put down a pee pad, pick up the mug, get my coffee, ever so carefully pick my way back to my desk.

(Thor, the

All is quiet. Dogs sprawl about, dozing. The TV is on, but not loud, crime show, nothing blaring. Suddenly, a male voice (not often heard around here) is shrieking at me at full volume about what THE LORD wants me to do as illustrated RIGHT HERE in verse 33!! I nearly had a freaking heart attack. Riddi kitty had jumped up on the highboy in the bedroom, landing squarely on the "Sleep" button of Cj's clock radio, still set on whatever station it came with, as she's never, ever played it, some gospel station. Scared me, scared the cat, nearly needed another pee pad (for me). I levitate from my chair, trip over Heff while trying to run across the hall (fortunately he's fine and I still manage to remain upright), turn the bloomin' radio OFF and come back. Let my breathing and heart rate return to normal. Take a sip of coffee. All is quiet again.

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 24, 2009 - I Just Called to Say I Love You


Living with many animals, I'm always interested, and endeared, by the many ways they communicate their feelings, particularly when they love you and want you to know. Freya, the non-pug, is a real dog-dog, and shows it. When she's happy to see you, her ears perk up, her eyes get bright, her tail wags frantically and she sometimes forgets herself and jumps up on you. Typical "happy dog" response, and one that always works.

The pugs, however, each have a style of their own. Spencer's the quiet one. He'll run to the door, but then sit and just look, quietly but adoringly, at your face until you notice him. Loki just wiggles all over, his whole body asquirm with joy. Sammie runs right to your feet, as close as he can get, following every movement (which can make it a bit of a challenge to set down your purse or lunch bag), ready to be scritched the second you have a hand free. Not pushy, but definitely persistent.

Heff spins. This is a delightful change. When he first arrived, he was so shy that the closest he got to greeting you was to run away a little slower than usual, but now he spins. If you stop moving, he'll run over, sit down as fast as he can leaning against your leg and stay as long as you'll let him. He's figured out that "touch is good" and is making up for lost time by keeping contact as much as he can.

Orrville is the weird one. He likes to march up to you and rub his lips on your leg. Not lick, not sniff, just push his lips on you. If he's really excited, he'll rub them up and down some before walking away and waiting to be petted. Sometimes, if you're just sitting somewhere, he'll walk up, push his lips up against your calf, stand for a second, then wander off. He seems to find it reassuring.

Archie takes a minute, but once you're close enough for him to see that you're there, he works his way up to his feet and prances back and forth from front paw to front paw. Sometimes he wurfs too. Pet him and he tilts his head back to savor the interaction, delighted to have been noticed in the crowd.

Then there's George. George is sweet, but public displays of puggy affection aren't really his thing. IF he's having a good day, he will notice you're home. That's it. If he raises or turns his head, consider yourself greeted with great enthusiasm. Still, his crusty exterior does conceal a softer heart than he'd admit to, and if you croon at him and rub his ears, you'll be rewarded with a grin that would make Brad Pitt green with envy. Nobody grins like a movie-star handsome, white-faced senior pugboy. George doesn't really say "I love you," but when he turns that smile on you, you know he does.

So, if you happen to find yourself at the Shady Rest, you know what to expect. Y'all take care now.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9, 2009 - The Unexpected Guest

Cj and I were sitting at our respective computers this morning, enjoying a cup of coffee and checking email before starting doggy spa day (several need baths and nail trims), when we heard our next-door-neighbor (the good one) hollering our names. We hollered back to let her know we'd heard her, at first afraid that something had happened to her and nobody else was home to help her. Nope. She's fine. "One of your dogs is out!!!" She hollered. doG love her, she keeps an eye out for pugs outside our fence that should be inside. I counted noses quickly - all our dogs were accounted for, but we went out anyway. She said "he's over there, between my yard and the one around the corner. I can't get him to come to me." Apparently, Cj and I must look like pug people, because we spotted him, said, "Hi, Sweetie." and he ran right to us, and let Cj scoop him up. We could just about hear him thinking "Pug people! They'll know what to do with me!"

He was most definitely not one of ours, though he chilled with the rest of the Shady Rest crew while we tried to find where he belongs. He looked to be about 2-3 years old, neutered fawn male. He was clean and looked recently fed (he burped at me when I introduced myself), so he probably hadn't been AWOL long and we were betting someone's missing him. He was clearly well-cared for and in good condition (better than mine, actually, see note above about bath day), nails short, ears clean, good teeth, and well-socialized with people and other dogs.

We called OPR, in case someone called there to check ("why, yes, as a matter of fact, a couple of our volunteers already have him in custody"), left descriptions with the two area shelters and one all-breed rescue that has a shelter too. Called the two nearest vets too and left messages, in case the little fellow might be on their patient roster.

It isn't always a good idea to put up a lot of flyers if you find a lost dog. It posts your phone number all over the place with no safeguards, and may invite people other than the real owner to call and try to claim a dog that isn't really theirs. Still, I thought, if it were my dog and I was out frantically wandering around on foot or in my car looking, just a little guidance on which direction to look would be more than welcome. So, we decided to place just four flyers, one at each end of our own block and one at each of the next closest cross streets. Just "Found Pug" and Cj's cell number. Figured if it was the legitimate owner, they'd know the rest.

A little time went by. Foundling made himself at home with the rest of the Shady Rest gang and seemed to be enjoying his "play date." Then the phone rang. A very nice, somewhat stressed young woman described his collar, color and style, and the tag that was attached so we agreed to take him to meet her. She'd seen one of the "found dog" flyers as she was on her way to make copies of her "lost dog" flyer. She just stopped the car where she was and called on her cell, so we told her to stay there and we were on our way (after making sure we had the right fawn pug - there are so many around here.)

We knew immediately it was really his owner. Friendly though he had been with us, his whole face lit up and his tail started flapping the minute he saw her. She was equally delighted to see him, and while they got back together and exchanged hugs, we discovered his name was Chico. Apparently, a son had left a gate closed, but not latched, and Chico had taken advantage of the opportunity to go walkabout. His mama told us she was very happy he'd ended up with pug-lovers and not alone in the heat. Turns out he was only about three blocks from home.

I love a happy ending. That's today at the Shady Rest. Ya'll take care now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

August 3, 2009 - I'm Walkin'


Well, no, I'm not walkin'. That's the problem. Ambulation is a bit of an issue at the Shady Rest, and not just for the dogs with some limb issues. One of the delights of pugs is that they always want to be near you. Always. Very near. Preferably attached to your ankles like barnacles to a boat's keel. Cozy, as long as you're not needing or wanting to actually GO anywhere for a while. Perfectly delightful for keeping your toes warm while you read emails on a cold winter's day. Not so much in August, when you're already sweating, with a fan and only a T-shirt and your drawers on. Seven small, hairy bodies generate an amazing amount of heat when they're just laying atop your feet. Heaven forbid you actually want to walk about the house.

Freya, our non-pug pugherd, is part Belgian Malinois. The Malinois is a herding dog and she can't help herself. She has to herd something, which was a hoot when she was still a puppy and hadn't yet learned that they call an impossible task "herding cats" for a reason. Still, at least her DNA makes it make sense when she insists on walking everywhere right behind me, usually nudging me with her nose every few feet, just in case I should forget the route from the office to the kitchen.

The pugs, however, clearly have NO herding DNA whatsoever in their breed makeup. They insist, all of them, on clustering in front of me and milling about. I wouldn't mind them walking in front of me if they'd actually walk. They don't. They mill, in a sort of Brownian motion that would make a physicist proud. This results in me spending much of my day sounding rather like a cow - "Moooooooove!" "C'mon, mooooooooooove." If I can get them all milling around in the same general direction, sometimes we can make progress.

Not that walking is the only activity impeded by puggy inertia. I had this conversation with Orville last night, while trying to change out of my work clothes:

"Hi, Mama! Whatcha doin?"
"Trying to take my jeans off. Could you move please?"
"Hows come you keep hitting me in the head with your pants leg?"
"Because you won't move. Scoot over some, wouldja?"
"OW! Mama, you kicked me!"
"I didn't kick you. I tripped over you. Mama's sorry, now move."
"Like this?"
"No. Maybe I wasn't clear. By "move" I meant go over there, not spin in a circle and sit down in the same place."
"I love you, Mama. I want to be close."
"Mama loves you too, my little bug-eyed barnacle. That lumpy thing under your butt? That's my foot. I need it now. Please move."
"Are we gonna eat soon?"
"Not if you don't get out from between Mama and the kitchen, no."

I'm not sure which one's worse; Orville, who sits on my foot; Archie, who gets in front of me and just prances up and down; or Sammie, who takes a perverse delight in trotting obligingly along in front of me, but then grinding to a stop with no warning and for no apparent reason. I sometimes wonder if he's trying to kill me in retaliation for all the fosters.

So, anyway, if you need me for anything, I'll be here. Right here. Trapped here in this chair with about 115 total pounds of pug draped over my numb feet.

Y'all take care, now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

August 2, 2009 - They Got Us Again

Howdy! I know it's been a while. Budget time at work, yard sale time at home, and a new addition to the Shady Rest crew. Heff moved in last weekend, a handsome, black puppy mill surrender. For a mill dog, he's in great shape - very handsome, very healthy, if a bit shy from lack of sufficient socialization. He's learning fast, though, that belly rubs are good and treats aren't bad either.

Yes, we were at capacity. We try to keep three foster slots - one for an older or special needs one that isn't really too likely to get adopted, one for a pug that may or may not get adopted, and one for one that probably will get adopted and relatively soon. George, Archie and Orville, respectively, fill those slots now. So, you ask, how did Heff, a baby at three years old, end up being the Shady Rest mascot? Because the rescue has us on speed-dial, under "pigeon," that's how. The words "Emergency!" and "needs a foster home today or else" did the trick. Sometimes you can wait a little, work with the family, buy a little time, but sometimes you gotta get the dog NOW. Heff is a "NOW" pug. So, late at night, as soon as he arrived in town, we picked him up.

Here he is, the very night he arrived, and yes, his ears do pop right up to the top of his head when something catches his attention. He's very bright, carefully observing the other dogs and how things work. He wants so much to be friendly - he's every cell a pug - he's just not quite sure how, but he observes and takes notes. He loves to cuddle, especially with Orville, and sleeps in the Pug Palace with Loki at night. He'll make someone a delightful companion after a little vetting and socializing.

That's it for now. It's late, all the Shady Rest residents and staff are asleep except me, and nothing will make you drowsy like a house full of softly snoring pugs. That's today at the Shady Rest. Y'all take care.