Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 - Remembering Roy


For folks who may not know about Roy, he was one of the most fearless, loaded with personality, independent pugs I've ever been blessed to meet.  I'd filled out an adoption application specifying an older (10+) male. The rescue president called. "You wanted an older boy? I just got one in I think would work. You wanna come over and meet him?" So Cj and I drove over.  The Prez always has a bunch of fosters and newly-arrived "hold" fosters (waiting to be picked up by their foster homes) pugs around, so when a little gray-faced senior boy came up to greet us, we asked, "Is this one ours?"  
"Nope," she said, pointing to the back yard, "See that little lump in the shade?  That's yours. I'll get him."
She went into the yard, came back with an armful and set him on the floor in front of us.  Cj and I looked at him. We looked at each other. We looked at the Prez. We looked at him.  Standing in front of us was possibly the most ancient creature on earth.  95% blind, 100% deaf, gray all over, looking a bit like someone had wadded him up and tossed him, and roughly 120 years old.  (when we took him to the vet for a check, his official, professional, highly trained opinion of his age was "somewhere between 17 years old and four years older than God.")
"His name is Roy.  The adoption coordinator named him for her father, because he grumbles like him. What do you think? You said you wanted a senior." said the Prez, encouragingly.
"I think I want one that will survive the trip home," I replied. "What's his story?"
She told us.  He'd been found, dumped, ancient, blind, deaf and terrified, in a busy parking lot. Animal control had picked him up and called OPR, knowing he stood a less than zero chance of adoption at the shelter. The fact that he'd managed to not get run over was a miracle and a marvel by itself.
I looked at him again. He grinned at me, head tilted because he couldn't lift it up all the way.  I sighed. Cj sighed. We melted, handed over the adoption fee, signed the paper, gingerly picked up the elderly beast and headed for the car.
Adopting Roy counts as one of the smartest things we ever did.  I rather expected a doorstop - at his age, how active or interested could he be?  Instead, we got a dog that let nothing deter him. He'd climb into the strangest places, ninja roll off the bed, chase your toes and nibble on them if you were slow with his dinner (and had an impressive grip - Cj would dance around hollering "Roy, let go!" while I giggled and reminded her he was deaf and couldn't hear her fussing).  His attitude about everything was "ME do!" He didn't like to be carried - he'd walk, thank you very much. (Took forever, but we'd get there.) He slept between us every night; for the first two weeks, he'd wake me up with nightmares, howling and shaking until I'd pick him up, rock him and soothe him back to sleep, reminding him he was found and would never be lost again.  He had a smile that could melt any heart and he used it.  When I'd get home from work, he'd come toddling over as fast as he could (and he could get up some speed when he wanted), get up close to see what shoes were coming, and grin when he recognized mine.  He had a loud, sharp bark that could shatter glass, but only used it when his grumbling didn't get your attention.  We got to love and spoil him for about nine months before he slipped off to the Bridge. He left about two years ago, and I miss him still.  

Happy New Year to all, from the Shady Rest!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24, 2009 - The Night Before Christmas, Shady Rest Style

T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the Rest,
All the inmates were stirring, busy making a mess,
The stockings were...somewhere, in the laundry, I'm sure,
Or hid with the presents, I'm not sure where they were.

A few pugs were nestled in big snuggle beds,
While visions of cheesy goodies danced in their heads,
With a list in my hand, and a cat in her lap, 
We'd have both sold a kidney for a very long nap.

When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter,
Away to the window, I rushed like a turtle,
Jumping and dodging each small puggy hurdle.

The moon on the breast of the Midwestern slush,
Gave a holiday sparkle to the half-frozen mush.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a small SUV that was parking, right here!

With a little old driver, with a beard on his jaws,
I knew right away it was old Santa Paws!
With me to the window, the inmates all came,
And he whistled and greeted each one by their name.

"Hi Spencer, now Loki, now Orville and Sammie,
And Georgie and Archie and Freya, and kitties!
To the top of the couch, now bounce off of the wall,
Will you all settle down? I have goodies for all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the rooftop that SUV flew,
With the bundles of treats and old Santa Paws too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard up above,
The steps of the guy that all animals love,
As I drew in my head and was turning about,
Down the chimney came Santa Paws with a shout.

He was wearing fake fur from his head to his boots,
He was dusted with dog hair and evergreen shoots,
A bundle of treats he had flung on his back,
From which cat fur fell as he opened his pack.

His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were a bit flushed, but not at all scary.
An animal lover, he flashed a huge grin,
And he laughed as all of our critters ran in.

He was chubby and plump, a most jolly old elf,
He was shaped, come to think, just a bit like myself.
He rubbed on each head and scratched on each ear,
And wished he could visit more than just once each year.

With a whispered "I love you, you're such a good dog,"
He crouched down beside them, a bit like a frog.
He pulled out a treat for each doggy and cat,
It took but a second, it was over like that.

Then he ran to his car and the gas he then pressed,
And he hurried away from the old Shady Rest,
But I heard him exclaim, and we wish it to you,
"Happy Christmas to all, and a great New Year too!"

From all the residents of the Shady Rest, to all of you and yours, we wish a warm, safe, and joyous Christmas, and a new year filled with small daily miracles, peace and love.  Ya'll come back in the New Year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 14, 2009 - The Cats of the Shady Rest


Another Day At the Shady Rest tends to focus on the pugs, but there are other residents. Three and a half cats help keep things interesting too, and it's always fun to watch them interact with Freya and the pugs.  In spite of all you hear about "fighting like cats and dogs," the Shady Rest is a mostly peaceable kingdom, if you will, with very few interspecies spats.

Okay, I know, you're wondering about that "three and a half" cats thing, so let me explain that before I introduce the permanent feline residents. To cut a very long story as short as possible, about two and a half years ago, a friend's teenage son, Zach, moved in with us for a while.  While he was living here, he went to visit a friend, and called us from there.  There was an abandoned litter of tiny, maybe-four-week-old kittens at the apartment complex, and it was getting cold, and he REALLY wanted one, and we had cats anyway, and he just KNEW we'd love her, and he promised when he moved out he'd take her with him, and she would be HIS cat and he'd take care of her, and, and, get the idea.l  This nearly-six-foot burly male had been reduced to a gibbering five-year-old, already firmly wrapped around the tiny paw of this kitten. I sighed deeply and said, "Okay, bring her home." 

When he arrived, one hand was cupped and nestled in the palm was an amazingly small kitten. (She remains one of the smallest adult cats I've ever seen.) She looked like a gray-stripe-and-white cotton ball with eyes.  Yet, those eyes were open and very alert, and she appeared to be otherwise healthy.  And that's how we first got acquainted with Riddi-kitty. (He'd wanted to name the cat Riddick, from the movie, but found she was female, so she became Riddi.)  It took the teensy terror only moments to take over the whole place.  Oddly, her best friend, mentor and advocate was Freddie, our then 19-year-old senior cat.  If one of the other cats looked at her funny, she'd run to him.  He would actually bestir his old, creaky bones and play with her, rolling and pouncing like another kitten.  Nobody could mess with Freddie's food, except Riddi, who got first dibs on his plate while he watched benevolently.  He was like her instant grandpa. 

Flash forward a few months. Zach's moved out and did indeed take Riddi with him.  Freddie has gone to the Rainbow Bridge to chase butterflies and bask in the sun without the troubles of old age to trouble him any longer.  The phone rings again. Riddi needs a place to hang for a few months, for many reasons which I will spare you, most involving an emergency relocation to a new apartment with an allergic roommate with a big, cat-hating dog.  Can she stay here until February, when the lease runs out and he'll be able to take her back?  "Sure, why not?"

So, with our resident three Shady Rest cats - Thor, Kali and Spare - Riddi is the "half" cat, not really ours but rather like a favored niece. Thor hates her, but then, he hates most other cats. Kali ignores her, but she ignores just about everyone, and Spare tolerates her well, so it's good.  The dogs don't have too much problem with her. Sammie likes to chase her, but she eggs him on, so I think it's a game, not a dispute.  I'm fairly certain George would be unimpressed, if he could find her.  She's too quick, though, and sometimes amuses herself by hiding, poking him in the head, then running off.

Now, back to the introductions. In order of arrival, there's Thor, a solid black mama's boy. He was named for the Norse god of thunder for his deep, rumbling purr, because his meow, when it manages to come out at all, is a high-pitched squeak.  Given his druthers, he'd never touch the ground at all, much preferring to be held 24/7 and squacking in protest when put down. Eating and snuggling are his favorite activities. Thor is not overfond of the dogs, or the other cats, but he is terribly affectionate (to the point of being a pest sometimes) with his humans.

Then there's Spare. Spare, a former feral neighborhood stray, got his name from when we first met. He would come to the deck to eat the cat food we left out for the wildlife and would run when he saw us even move inside the house.  Gradually, he became accustomed to us and would hang around while we refilled the bowl.  We started referring to him as the spare cat, as in "Honey, did you put out food? The spare cat is here."  By the time he moved inside to stay, he answered to Spare and we just left it. Figured it's better to be the Spare cat than the Homeless cat.  Spare is the most Zen cat we've ever met - laid back, tolerant of all, the soul of patience and calm.  We suspect he may have been a Buddhist monk in a past life - he has those thousand-year-old eyes.  He loves his dogs as much as the other cats and the people, often rubbing up against a seated pug and purring his head off.

Last is Kali (Callie, when she came) an amazingly, shy cat taken in when her human was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  She came with her brother, Freddie. The owner was going to have them both put to sleep, but not because she didn't love them.  She did, too much to have them end up dying in a shelter among strangers, and she couldn't believe anyone would want them.  She felt a quick, painless death with someone familiar and loved by their side was a better fate, even though the decision broke her heart.  Freddie's age at the time - 16- was certainly a deterrent to adoption, and Kali was so shy and fearful that anyone wanting a cat for a companion would look the other way.  Well, you know the Shady Rest likes seniors, and most days I don't like people much either, so we told her we'd be happy to take them in.  The owner was beyond happy to have them in a loving home that didn't mind their quirks at all.  Freddie made it to 20, and Kali's still going at 11.  She's still the shyest cat I've ever met (we have no idea why - her previous owner had had her since she was an eight-week-old kitten and she'd gotten plenty of socialization and handling. She loved her owner, but NO one else.)  She spent the first two years here either under the futon in the family room or under the bed. We never saw her. We just put down food and water, left a litter box near her latest hidey-hole and left it at that.  For year three, she moved to the half bath and started coming out some, when it was quiet and the dogs were locked up for the night.  She comes out more now, and seeks some attention from both Cj and me, but she'll probably never be as clingy as Thor or as friendly as Spare, but that's okay. She's fine just as she is, and as long as she seems content, she's welcome to be as much of a hermit as she likes.

So, those are the cats of the Shady Rest. Y'all take care now!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8, 2009 - Update


It's that time of year, with tons to do and most of it not interesting enough to talk about. Lately, the Shady Rest has been recovery central for Archie. About three weeks ago, we took him to the vet for the removal of a small skin tumor and a dental. Sounded simple enough. We went to pick him up and the vet tech walked out with Frankenpug! Still a little stoned on pain-killers, ears akimbo, and with what looked like miles of stitches! They took off the original tumor, and another they'd found on his butt (poor boy), and while they were at it, took off the big fatty cyst (lipoma) on his side! Oh, and the dental resulted in five tooth extractions. He peered at us with a look that clearly seemed to say, "If you wanted a smaller pug, why didn't you just get one?" So, gently and ever-so-careful not to hit any of his sore spots, we took him, his pills, and his drain tube home, to a soft bed and a soft diet.

First day home from vet.

Happily, in spite of his age, he's recovered very , very nicely. He spent a couple of days in isolation in the bathroom with his favorite bed and his stuffed bunny, to avoid the other dogs' accidentally poking or bumping his sore spots. He enjoyed his meals of warm stew with no kibble, with some extra protein to help him heal, and savored the extra attention.

This past week, the stitches came out, and all that remains is to regrow his thick, beautiful fur. (He has the thickest coat I've ever seen on any pug.) He's totally back to being his normal, happy, bouncing self, following us around, levitating as he barks, and complaining if dinner looks like it may be a little late.

With all the stitches out - next, a bath!

As for the other Shady Rest residents, they're doing well. George is still kicking tail and taking names. Although he will fuss and fume if one of us tries to crate him, he's taken to crawling into either Loki's or Spencer's crate for his afternoon naps. Fortunately, they don't mind. Speaking of kicking tail, Cj was trying to put his bowl down for dinner the other evening. Apaprently, he got a little confused about the exact whereabouts of the bowl, so he took after her toes as an acceptable alternative. She backed away to try to save her toes, which meant the bowl was backing up too. She finally mangaged to pry her toes free of his teeth and trade him for the bowl. You gotta watch him.

Much to Orville's joy, the cats have finally decided he's harmless and have stopped screaming and running when he comes up for a friendly sniff. I think he had a nightmare last night, though. Woke me up in the middle of the wee hours of the morning, scurrying as fast as he could up the middle of the bed until he was tucked close to my side. He put his paw on my thigh. I covered his paw with my hand. He put his chin on my hand and went right back to sleep.

So, that's about it for now. Just another day at the Shady Rest. Ya'll take care.