Friday, December 10, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The face appears in the doorway again, ears up.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I apologize for how long I've been silent (it's probably some kind of record for me.) What they tell you before you have bypass surgery is "you may experience some post-surgical depression." What they fail to note, and probably sensibly, is "you may experience anything from a mild case of the blues to a full-blown case of homicidal bipolar lunacy that will have you making that crazy hag from Stephen King's Misery look like Mother-flipping-Teresa." Unfortunately, particularly for Cj, I seem to have landed at the crazy-hag end of the spectrum. Bless her heart, she's trying nobly to keep up with my insane mood swings and tendency to either cry or yell for no reason she, or any other rational person, can see. Even Spencer just stares at me sometimes, head tilted, confused. "Mom? If that bowl of ice cream is gonna make you cry, I'll eat it for you." Bless their hearts, they want to help.
As you can understand, this little emotional roller coaster has made it somewhat challenging to be the laid-back, mellow observer of life that you've come to expect from the Shady Rest's Innkeeper. Hence, the big gap since my last update. Still, there are good days, stable moments, and, as always, critters to watch and help keep me semi-sane.
OPR got in a little fellow today, Kashi by name. All of twelve weeks old! Rescues don't usually get too many of those - they're still too cute and smell too much like puppy breath to throw away yet at that age. This little guy, however, was already on his third(!) home, and had already been relegated to living in the yard(!!), possibly for just being too energetic. Happily, he found his way to rescue while still happy, healthy and in good shape. As I looked at the pictures sent along by his new foster family (NOT us), I couldn't help but smile. I also couldn't help but imagine what the sedate residents of the Shady Rest would do if something that young and cute and energetic came bouncing through the door. Then I giggled so hard I almost needed to get myself a pee pad.
Really, can't you see it? You've hung out here with me, many of you, for a while. You have a fair idea of the atmosphere. Can't you imagine injecting a hyper, wall-eyed pug puppy into the place? Freya would probably be fine - she gets the concept of "cub" and would take him in paw for some doggy training.
Sherman would probably flip, wearing himself out completely just trying to keep up with the puppy and ensure he was always, always in between the puppy and Sherman's human. As it is he gets most of his exercise sliding between me and Sammie or me and Spencer. He'd probably need canine plastic surgery to iron the crinkle out of his lip by the time the puppy got adopted.
Loki wouldn't mind too much, as long as the puppy was nice to him. He's always been good about sharing - his space, his treats, his people - but he's always been a little intimidated by puppies, too. I think their energy overwhelms him a little, especially as he's gotten older.
Sammie would be interesting to watch. Most of the time, I forget just how old he is; not that he's ancient or anything, but he acts more like five or six than he does 12 going on 13. I think he'd be happy to play with a puppy, at least in spurts...as long as puppy didn't even look in the direction of Sammie's dinner.
Archie. Ah, Archie. He'd be the most fun to watch, but then, I'm not sure I could do that to him. He'd be so confused by a puppy running past every few seconds, first here, then there, never still. Archie's a seriously game little guy - age and impaired vision be damned, he'd try to keep up. In some ways, it would probably be good for him - good muscle-toning, a little more fun in an otherwise quiet life. On the other hand, I have scary visions of a puppy seeing Archie as a trampoline or something, pouncing him mid-nap and scaring him into a stroke or worse. He is nearly 14, after all.
It'd be nice to have a puppy around again, just once more before I die. But maybe, for now, it's just as well that some other foster home is enjoying the puppy breath tonight...
Ya'll take care now.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
It started innocently enough, with yet another "pug needs a foster home" post on the Ohio Pug Rescue foster family list. Cj and I looked around, decided we had enough fosters right then, and so decided to see if another foster family would respond. A month later, he was still there, a little fawn senior (10 years old, give or take a little), blind, fellow named George. He was safe, in temporary foster at a home that couldn't keep him for long, but was still a step up from the shelter from which he'd been pulled, shortly before being put down, so we waited. Another month, and he was still there, still waiting. We felt for the little guy, and the list of pugs needing foster placement was growing, so we said we'd take him.
On February 3, 2008, George came to the Shady Rest. For his age and lack of vision, he was active, bright, interested. He learned his way around the house in only a couple of days. We started working with him, training him to navigate by verbal commands. He eventually developed a pretty decent vocabulary:
"Find me!" meant there are no obstacles between you and me so come here. He'd run, confident that nothing would trip him up before he got to us and the praise and ear rubs that were his primary reward.
"Careful" meant slow down, you're approaching an obstacle.
"Right" meant, well, go to your right (yes, he learned his right from his left, with more consistency than Cj or I most days.)
"Left" meant go left.
"Step up" you need to step up onto a stair or curb.
"Step down" meant you're at the edge of something, step down.
"Steps" was an early warning to anticipate a "step up" or "step down".
"beep beep" meant back up or turn around, you're at a dead end or wall. (okay, so we have a sick sense of humor)
"follow" meant follow my voice.
He soon became very proficient at navigating by verbal command alone. One day, he was at the far end of the back yard. I was on the deck, but rather than go after him, I started coaching him. "George! Follow." He began coming in the direction of my voice. "George! Right" as he veered toward the shrubs. So on it went, across the yard, around the end of the deck, and up the deck stairs, with me never laying a hand on him. When he finally reached the top of the steps, a proud and happy "Find me!" brought him running right to my arms. "Now, left" took him right through the door.
We even attended a rescue event on the second floor of a local mall. There is an elevator, but he and I opted to take the escalator. Most dogs are confused or frightened by them, but since George couldn't see it, and trusted me completely to not run him into anything dangerous, he showed off to a mall-full of people and did the escalator all by himself. From the door to the bottom of the escalator, stepping on at the bottom and off at the top, around the corner and down the mall to the store. Leash completely slack, verbal commands only. I heard quite a few "wouldja look at that!" from the shoppers, and I couldn't have been more proud.
Of course, being a pug, George had his moments. As noted in previous Shady Rest entries, he could be stubborn, grumpy, demanding, and frustrating. He loved to terrorize the other dogs, and even Freya learned to not aggravate him. She may have been twice his size and half his age, but she knew he could kick her tail and laugh about it. We came to think of him as a little, furry, blind Chuck Norris of sorts. He had a troubled relationship with the kitchen appliances and occasionally attacked them. Far as I can tell, he always won.
George defined "movie-star handsome," with some of the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The other day, for example, Cj was locking up Freya in her crate before heading out to work. Freya gets a treat for going in. The pugs, who are not locked up during the day, expect a treat as well, and Loki and Spencer sometimes run into their crates to ensure they get a goodie, even though the doors will remain open. Well, Loki tries, at least. On this particular day, though, he stops short of the door and starts hopping from foot to foot, whining and fussing. Cj doesn't see anything at first, but a closer peek reveals George. George dozing INSIDE Loki's crate. George, old, crippled, blind terror of all the other dogs. They all know better than to cross him or to wake him. So Loki would rather be re-neutered than risk walking into that crate. Out of pity, Cj takes the risk and gently slips a finger under George's collar, hoping to perhaps wake him gently enough to not lose the digit. George wakes, tilts his head, and gives her a HUGE grin. He is fully aware of the distress he's causing Loki, and probably wasn't actually asleep at all. Just faking it and enjoying the fuss. He does that now and then - just works the other dogs' nerves for no other reason than he still can. It's good to be The Senior. Loki got his treat, George got his and a good scritch besides. The Senior wins again.
Then there's Sammie. Sammie is much like a toddler - no matter how sleepy he is, he'll fight fiercely against actually going to sleep for fear of missing something. Today we watched with much amusement as he swayed and sagged, eyes half closed, but simply refusing to just lie down and go to sleep. At one point, his paws started to slide, his head sagged, and he executed a perfect faceplant right into Sherman's butt. He stayed that way for a few minutes, then dragged his head back upright (eyes still shut), sat and swayed again for a while, then staggered off to the other side of the desk chair. He sat there for a while, until he finally waddled off to the bed and went to sleep for real.
I don't know. I try to understand them. Still, there are days that, much as I may try to figure out what's going on in those little heads, there is a part of me that suspects I'm probably happier not knowing. When I see Archie, carrying off Cj's jeans, or Spencer, lying comfortably on the kitchen floor, licking the front of the stove, do I really want a deep understanding of their motives? Ignorance is, after all, said to be bliss. I'm not sure who said that, but my guess is that he or she lived with a pug.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Lots of changes around here! Ferragamo's moved out, not adopted, but "pugnapped" by another OPR member. She'd volunteered to help us out by picking him up at the vet since I couldn't get there before they closed that day. She picked him up, and promptly fell head over heels! Ferr, you may remember, is a Bugg - half Boston Terrier, half pug, and it seems she grew up with Bostons. Ferr reminded her of one of her best buddies, so they're getting along fabulously at her place now.
Lest you think an empty bunk at the Shady Rest ever stays empty for long, Hawk moved in last week. He's a BIG fellow - not fat, just tall, broad-chested, cobby and buff. Very handsome and a big ol' loverboy. Everything the textbooks say a pug should be - funny, friendly, affectionate and outgoing. Everybody, human, feline or canine, is his new pal. He won't be here too long - he already has a forever home waiting, we just need to make sure he's properly vetted and chipped and he'll be on his way.
So, enough about the fosters. What had me thinking today was my guys - Sammie, Spencer and Loki - the pugs who've found their forever home in the ever-changing Shady Rest. This place that has been but a way station for so many, is their only world. They've all had lives before, but unless something goes radically wrong, this will be their last place to call home.
Sometimes I feel a little guilty. While it's tremendously rewarding for us humans to work with rescue and foster, I have some doubts about the "rewards" for our own dogs. While other pugs are the center of attention most of the time in their own homes, ours must share time, attention, scritches and belly rubs with other dogs, a constantly shifting array of foster brothers who come without warning and depart without explanation.
Still, none of this seems to upset or confuse them. They have grown accustomed to the changes, the coming and going, the sharing, and they accept it all with good natured calm. Other people fret and worry about "How do I introduce a new dog at home?" but we don't. We can leave with one pug in tow in the morning and return in the evening with a completely different one, and all we have to do is announce, "New guy on deck! Be NICE!" and all is well. The newbie will be sniffed from stem to stern, there may be a formal hump or two, then they're considered part of the pack. In no time at all, the new kid will be dozing in a bed next to Sammie, or running to the window to bark next to Spencer.
They make me proud and, as always, they make me think. Would it kill us humans to maybe take life the same way? To accept new people as siblings of a sort, or at least to give them a fair chance to fit in before we nip at them? To trust that change probably isn't all bad and sometimes it can be very good? To share what we have, trusting that there will be enough to go around? To leave past hurts in the past and wait with an open mind and a hopeful heart to see what today brings? How bad could it be to live, just for a while, like a Shady Rest pug?
Y'all take care now.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
My it's been busy around here lately! Orville came back, Sherman joined the inmates, and now there's Ferragamo, our newest foster. Fresh from a kill-shelter where he was just about out of time, Ferragamo is a Bugg - half pug and half Boston Terrier. He just arrived yesterday, so he's still settling in and getting used to everybody.
He's not nearly as "possessed" as those eyes look - just pug eyes in a Boston skull combined with some playtime excitement. He's very sweet, smart and fun, quite a pleasant little fellow to have around. Needs a snip and a little work on walking with a leash and he'll be ready to make someone a very fine companion.
Meanwhile, all these dogs around got me thinking about The Tug. If you've ever loved an animal, you know exactly what I'm talking about - that tight little pull in the middle of your chest when you look at a beloved pet and for one, brief moment see him exactly as he is. Not as a pet, or a pest, or a child or therapist or worker or any of the other things we expect them to be, but just as he is. An innocent, non-human soul in a fur-covered (or feather covered or scale covered) body. Loving you because that's his nature, depending on you totally because that's his fate, asking only love and kindness in return, but accepting whatever he gets.
We probably, most of us, don't think about it too hard or too often, but our pets are totally, completely dependent upon us. They have only what we give them, whether it be luxuries like treats and toys, or basics like food and shelter. They have little to no choice in who takes them in, yet they love us with all their little hearts once they're in. It's an awesome responsibility, one far too many people take far too lightly, and one that real pet lovers accept on such a level that it's rarely consciously considered.
The Tug happens where real love, more than you thought you could feel for any other creature save maybe a spouse or child, intersects with a flicker of the realization of how much you mean to them. I look down and see Sammie, sleeping beside my desk. He sleeps deeply, in perfect trust that he is safe and protected here, that he doesn't have to sleep the light sleep of potential prey. He's not prowling for food, because he's secure it will be provided, perhaps later than he'd like some days, but it will. He snuggles next to Loki, without feeling jealous or competitive, because he's learned that time and money may be short now and then, but there's always enough love to go around and he is, indeed, loved.
He briefly wakes, probably feeling me looking at him, looks up at me with sleepy brown eyes, happy to find me near, and resumes his nap. And I feel it. The Tug. The twinge in the chest, the sting in the eyes, the momentary urge to just sweep him up, hug him close and maybe cry a little into his fur. Just because he's him. Just a little dog named Sammie, who has decided, doG knows why, that I am his person and that, pretty much no matter what I do, where I go, how broke or rich I am, how spiffy or unkempt I may be, or how happy or cranky I may be, that I'm okay with him and he wants to be with me.
They all do it to me at different times, usually when I'm doing something else and not paying much attention. When Spencer, quiet and gentlemanly and sometimes crowded out in the flurry of more assertive attention-seekers, looks up at me from under my desk, where he's using my foot as a pillow. Sherman, when I try to put on a sock and he tunnels under my arm and peers into my face, wanting a rub right that minute. I may start to get annoyed at the interruption, but then it hits me. He's not an "interruption," he's a dog, and he wants to spend some time with me. So I stop for a moment to coo at him and rub his ears. There will always be more socks. There will always be more work to be done, but I have learned too dearly that there will not always be more Sherman.
I dunno. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I'm sure some psychiatrist could spend page after page going on about brain chemicals and wiring and conditioning and socialization to explain The Tug. I tend to wonder if maybe it's a reminder from the Creator or from the Universe or from my subconscious or from whomever, that we humans seek answers. We seek spiritual truths. We look for inspiration, or love, or forgiveness. Maybe The Tug is a reminder that most of what we say we seek is right there, right in front of us, often overlooked or underestimated, but right there. The answers to life, the universe and everything are sitting around us, watching us, quietly shedding on our carpets, waiting for us to feel The Tug and pay attention.
Y'all take care now.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
It occurred to me, skimming over some of these blog entries, that Cj lurks around the edges of many, and a more complete introduction is long overdue.
It would be easy for a casual reader to conclude that she is merely the "co-innkeeper" of the introductory paragraph. She is, but that is only one small facet of the importance of her presence here.
On a personal level, she has been my spouse, partner, best friend, lover, confidante, co-worker, inspiration and cohort in crime for nearly 25 years now. Those who dismiss the notion of love at first sight have never seen us together. We met, appropriately enough, on Halloween 1986. We both immediately felt a connection, more of a "recognizing" than a "meeting," not so much a "pleased to meet you" as "Oh! There you are! Finally!" We really haven't been voluntarily separated since then.
She still consistently amazes me, this hazel-eyed, red-haired marvel from Oklahoma. She can still surprise me, still make me laugh, still make me think. Her depths of compassion and sympathy, especially for animals, still sometimes brings tears to my eyes and I want to be her, when I grow up. A scared and skittish new foster, afraid of his own shadow and of me, will go to her, allow her to hold him, to croon at him, and cradle him until he's not scared any more. The fact that she willingly fosters with me makes it all possible. I know a few people in rescue who cannot foster dogs, or can only foster one at a time, because of spousal reluctance. Blessedly, I have no such obstacle. Just when I think we cannot possibly work in one more fur-covered anything, and suspect she'd beat me for even suggesting it, she will be the first to say, "Poor little guy. I think we can work him in, can't we?" Couples have divorced over far less than she puts up with daily, without a murmur of complaint.
I'm blessed in so many ways by her constant presence in my life. We've had our rough times - she had a life-threatening case of meningitis a few years ago, with a year of recovery time and two emergency brain surgeries. She's had to endure two phone calls telling her I'd had a heart attack, one call coming from another state. Floods, deaths, financial crises and yet, each simply strengthens our bond and we come through closer than before, still holding hands, still making each other laugh.
Cj is also the origin of my love for pugs. She's the one who first fell in love with our first pug, Petunia. At the time, I pretty much just went along because this particular dog made her very, very happy. Of course, it didn't take long until I was pugged too. Petunia introduced us to pug rescue and life has not been the same since.
Several people have said they enjoy reading the stories of the Shady Rest, and I am deeply grateful and appreciative for each of them. I'm happy if my ramblings about life in this cluttered, fur-tufted little Midwestern suburban brick ranch-style bring a smile, but to give full credit where it is due, Cj is the source. There are eight dogs and four cats here (today); only four dogs and three cats are technically ours, yet I defy anyone to tell from her demeanor and treatment which are which. They all have a warm, safe bed in her heart, whether they're here forever or just for now. Without her tolerance, generosity of spirit, gentleness of soul, and compassionate heart, there would be no Shady Rest. She is my muse - without her constant support, love and inspiration, there would be no stories.
Y'all take care now.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Since I've heard some folks wanted updates, I'm happy to report that Sherman, the newest Shady Rest inmate, is settling in very well. He's starting to relax, learning to appreciate warm stew mixed with his kibble (he was less than impressed on the first go-round), and become quite the snuggler. He actually takes a little offense if you have a free hand and you're not using it to pet him! This morning, my alarm went off. He lifted his head, and snuggled closer, crawling up my torso until he was comfortably settled with my arm wrapped around him and his head on my shoulder. Of course, I did what any dedicated employee would do on a work morning - I hit the snooze bar on the clock so I wouldn't have to disturb him for another eight minutes.
He's smart, too! We've discovered he's a little finicky on what he eats and there are some dog treats he's just not into, but he does like beef jerky strips. We tend to switch up treats around here and this week, the treat on offer is a crunchy biscuit type. All the other dogs love the things, but not so much with Sherman. Because George sometimes has difficulty chewing harder treats, we always keep a bag of soft treats for him. So, anyway, last night Cj handed out the after-dinner/before-bed treats. Everybody ate their biscuit just fine, except Sherman. He carried his around, dropping it now and then, sniffing at it. He clearly didn't like it but was too polite to just spit it out in front of us. Then Cj picked up the bag of jerky strips to get one for George. Sherman perked right up. He picked up his biscuit, carried it over to her, laid the biscuit on the floor at her feet, sat down and looked at the bag of strips. "Trade?" His intention couldn't have been clearer if he'd spelled it out with Scrabble tiles. She took his offer and swapped him his biscuit for a jerky strip, which he promptly carried off and consumed.
He was a little overwhelmed by all the other dogs, when he first arrived (can't say that I blame him - sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by them too, and I'm more or less used to them) but now he's running with the pack like he was born with them. Freya seems to like him and is already including him in her count-of-noses when she comes in from outside. Sammie seems to have attached to him as an acceptable successor to Orville, and he gives the old blind fellows no grief. He does like chasing the cats, but as long as he's not trying to do them any harm, I figure they can use the extra exercise. The Shady Rest cats are accustomed to new foster dogs and will slap some respect into him if they get tired of it.
So, a couple more weeks, a little socialization and confidence-building, and I'm pretty sure he'll be off to a new forever home, to make some human very, very happy.
That's another day here the Shady Rest. Ya'll take care.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
It's been an interesting day here at the Shady Rest. We did Orville's adoption today, to a fine family about an hour outside of Columbus. Cj and I both feel/felt SO good about this one! We've never yet had an adoption of a foster about which we felt bad, but some just seem to be so very right, and this was definitely one of those. The family, mom, dad, toddler girl and infant boy, had met Orville at the Dogs Rule Doggy Day Care Center Adoption Day a couple of weeks ago. They were smitten with him, and as far as I could tell, he with them, but they were smart. This was no impulse. They'd come because they wanted to adopt a rescued pug, and though they thought Orville would be good for them, they met all the other pugs too, just to be sure. They asked questions, lots of questions, and good ones, about the breed and about the individual pugs. They have a dog, a delightful black lab named Gracie, but never a pug before. They wanted to do it right. After meeting all the pugs that were in attendance (and there were quite a few), they filled out an adoption form on the spot, with Orville's name on it.
At some point in the process, there was a misunderstanding. Orville wobbles when he walks. His back end has some weakness and loss of sensation; nothing dramatic, but he wobbles. The new family had been told he had degenerative myelopathy. For those unfamiliar with degenerative myelopathy, it's an ugly disease, blessedly uncommon in pugs but seen fairly often in larger breeds, like Belgian Malinois. The cause is unknown, but the sheaths surrounding the nerves start to degenerate and die. When the protective sheath dies, the nerve follows. It starts at the tail and works forward, a progressive, crippling process with no cure and no treatment. Ultimately, the affected dog will die when the paralysis reaches the diaphragm and the dog can no longer breathe. The process itself is painless - dead nerves don't register pain. We lost our first pug, Petunia, to it. First her back legs gave out and we got her a cart. Then her front legs went, and we put her in an infant carrier. We spoiled her rotten as long as we could, and as long as she had some quality of life and was enjoying herself, we kept going right along with her. The day finally came that she told us she wasn't having fun any more, and the vet confirmed that it was only a matter of days until she started having trouble breathing, so we let her go. It was an experience for which I will forever be grateful, and one I wouldn't wish on anyone who loves dogs.
So, anyway, they thought Orville had this condition, but unlike so many people would have, they didn't walk away or request another pug. They just dug in and started researching the disease, to see what they'd need to do to make his life as filled with love and joy for as long as they might be able to. Amazing. Meanwhile, I got on the phone with his vet and after a nice chat, was happily able to confirm that no, he didn't have DM at all. Orville has an old, stable spinal injury that left some nerve damage behind. He doesn't hurt, and, best of all, is quite likely to never get any worse, but will be wobbling along for years to come.
Orville arrived at their home and obviously remembered them all, right down to the baby, who greeted us with a HUGE grin. The little girl was so excited to see her friend again. At first, I think she thought we were just bringing him for a play date, thanking us for bringing him to visit. When we said he'd be staying, she jumped up and down, then ran to remove his harness and leash, "because he's not going." Then she had her mom help her carry him upstairs to show him her bedroom, because she wants him to sleep with her. I didn't notice Orville showing any aversion to this plan.
I had jokingly commented to some friends that, given the way things usually seem to work here at the Shady Rest, we'd probably get a call to foster another pug within five minutes after Orville's adoption. I was wrong. The call came in an hour before the adoption and the dog is a Daug (half dachshund, half pug), not a pug. :) His name is Sherman. He's about six years old, very handsome and incredibly shy. He won't come near me yet, though he's learning to trust Cj. Whenever something scares him, like me walking down the hall or Freya barking, he runs and ducks under Cj's chair. I hope he'll come around, some at least. If he's just shy by nature, he may never be the outgoing beast the rest of the Shady Rest inmates are, but that's okay.
So, for all those people who ask us, "How do you do it? How can you foster a dog and then give it up? I'd want to keep them all," or "you must be SO unselfish because you foster," there's your answer. No, you won't want to keep them all, and Cj and I are incredibly selfish. Few things in life are as feel-good rewarding as handing over a homeless dog to a family that's in raptures over him, ready and willing and eager to make the rest of his life as happy and healthy as possible. It's a huge pleasure for us. Not only that, but think about the numbers. If you limit yourself to, say, two dogs at a time, you live to be 80 and each dog has a mean life span of about 13 years. That means in your life, you'll only get to meet, interact with, learn from, and enjoy about 12 dogs. I'm greedy - I like meeting new dogs, loving on them, spoiling them, teaching and learning from them. Fostering adds bunches of dogs I wouldn't have otherwise gotten to enjoy. Again, selfish of me. I wish more people would indulge themselves and their love of dogs through fostering. It's one of the few forms of selfish indulgence that does a world of good.
Well, that's just another day at the Shady Rest. Y'all take care.
Friday, February 26, 2010
If there's any creature on earth that can make you scratch your head and go "Huh?" it's a pug.
I went to the kitchen the other day, intending to get a couple of cookies. Just cheap little generic vanilla sandwich creams. As I was pulling a couple out of the cookie canister, I dropped one. Spencer and Orville had followed me to the kitchen and, of course, when the cookie hit the floor and broke in half, they were on it like ducks on a june bug. No problem - the cookies are vanilla, probably not the healthiest treat for them (or me either, for that matter) but certainly not toxic, so I let them have it.
Then I saw him - Sammie. He'd come around the corner just in time to see them, eating cookie pieces, and me, standing there with a handful of cookies. Not having seen the cookie fall, he came to the only conclusion he could. I'd given them a cookie and hadn't given him any. The hurt was obvious. The big, brown eyes that went from happy to heartbroken. The ears that sagged from the sides of his head nearly down his neck. The tail that unrolled like a cheap perm in a rainstorm. His head went down, he slowly turned, and started to trudge, slowly, down the hall.
I followed, calling his name, offering half of one of the cookies I still had in my hand (the side with the cream, no less). Nothing. He wasn't having it. I'd call his name, he'd turn, look mournfully over his shoulder at me with those immensely sad eyes, then turn away and resume his slow procession down the hall. I called again, again he turned, again he turned away.
He made me follow him all the way to the office, but he wasn't giving in yet. He dragged into the office, went to Archie's bed, very deliberately sat down with his back to me, would not turn back again, no matter how much I called his name. The picture of dejection, head down, tail draped over the edge of the bed. He sighed. A heart-rending, three-hanky, tear-jerker performance, Oscar-worthy.
I had to walk around the bed, stand in front of him, and stick the cookie under his nose. The second I did, the eyes lit up, the ears and tail came back to their usual upright and locked position, and he snarfed down the cookie as if it were a fresh steak.
Little drama queen, that boy. With his own, totally trained, lady-in-waiting, chasing him about and forcing him to take cookies.
Just another day at the Shady Rest. Y'all take care now.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It occurs to me that what seems normal and every-day here at the Shady Rest might come as a surprise to a visitor, perhaps even a little odd. So, in the spirit of being prepared, much as one might study a guide of some sort before touring another country, there are a few things you should probably know about life here.
First, watch Archie. He'll be watching you. Closely. With his limited vision, this means he's usually about a quarter of an inch from either your shin or calf. He's a very involved little pug, always wanting to see and sniff what you're doing, so he's there a lot. So far we've managed to avoid either serious head trauma on his part or orthopedic repair on ours, but caution while backing up is always a good thing.
Listen to George. George has roughly two states of being - asleep and annoyed. Occasionally, he manages both at once. If he's snoring, he's asleep. If he's not snoring, he's probably annoyed to one degree or another. If he's growling, grumbling, snorging, chuffing, or rawring like a small, furry dinosaur, he's seriously annoyed and should be approached with caution. Treats help. I don't think he'd ever deliberately bite a human; he'd just think you were the refrigerator, oven, or filing cabinet that's been teasing him. Once he figures out who you are, he sometimes even slides into Charm Mode and becomes irresistible. Then, you've got it made.
Keep an eye on Loki, too. He's small, dark, sneaky and can turn on the cute like most people turn on the light switch. This makes him far more dangerous than he appears, especially if there's food involved. If you set down a plate where you think it's out of reach, he appears. His shiny dark head rises slowly, a little puggy periscope, silent. The nose seeks, locks on target, the eyes shift, looking for signs of capture. Should the coast be clear, the mark distracted, a black paw edges forward, hooks the edge of the target, and your sandwich will disappear as swiftly and soundlessly as the morning mist evaporates with the dawn.
The coffee pot is always on, the mugs are in the cabinet above and to the right. Help yourself, just know that Spencer will be sitting firmly on your foot by the time you're done pouring. Gently slide your foot out, check for your shoe, then proceed. He won't mind. He'll grin up at you, teefies and all. He's just about impossibly handsome, so just enjoy. Ear rubs are always welcome.
Orville, on the other hand, will maintain a respectful distance. He's not fearful or shy, just somewhat experienced in being around feet. He will watch you in solemn silence, looking vaguely worried, but a smile in his direction will be returned with a blink and a tail twitch. If invited, he'll happily come and snuggle as close to you as he can possibly, physically get, and stay as long as you'll let him.
That leaves Sammie. What do you need to know about Sammie? Ah, what don't you need to know? He's mouthy, rude, pushy, demanding, with a face like a gargoyle and a heart of gold. His first appearance can be a little startling - he has a half-inch underbite, with fangs Dracula would envy, bottom front teeth that stick straight out to the front, a nose that's a little snubby even by pug standards, and a tongue that doesn't quite fit all the way in his mouth. You'll be forgiven for jumping just a little if he pops around a corner unannounced. He's anything but shy, and likely to body check another pug clean out of the way if you don't pet him first. Still, he really just wants to be close, and he'll sit and sag and sway and drift and try as hard as he can NOT to go to sleep, just so he doesn't miss it if you want him for anything.
So, that about wraps it up. Watch for flying cats, climbing pugs, and Freya, who will herd you around so you don't get lost, and you'll have a fine time here at the Shady Rest.
Y'all take care now.