Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Shady Rest

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quick note - New Home

Howdy, all!

If you're checking in looking for updated posts, I'm happy to announce that the Shady Rest blog now has it's own website! C'mon over and see us there! You can register for the site to receive updates, make a donation (a portion of any donations will be donated to Ohio Pug Rescue, and the rest will go to maintaining the site and the Shady Rest itself) and/or leave comments, or just click on "blogs" to read the newest entries without signing in or registering. I hope you'll register and become a regular reader/follower/commenter at the Shady Rest!


Friday, December 10, 2010

December 11, 2010 - I Love You Best

"I love you the best." I whisper in Sherman's velvety ear as I wrap my arm around him, pull him close, and scratch his chest. He leans his head back on my shoulder and listens as I tell him, "Mamas aren't supposed to have favorites, you know, so don't tell the others. We don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but you're my favorite. I love how you always want to be with me, how you worry when I don't feel good. I love you the best."

"I love you the best." I murmur to Freya as I stroke her long, soft ears the way she likes. "Don't tell Sherman or the pugs, but you're my favorite. You're so smart, so loyal, such a help. I don't know what I'd do without you. You're beautiful too - the prettiest brindle in the house! I love you the best."

"Pssst, Spencer. C'mere, buddy. Everybody else is napping, so it's just you and me. Let me rub your tummy, buddy. I'm not supposed to have favorites, but you know how it is. You're my special pal, my big, burly, brave Spencer-boy. So handsome and strong! I just love the way you smile at me with all your lower teefies, and I'm proud that you're such a gentleman. I love you the best."

"Awww...hi, Loki." I croon as he pops up, periscope pug, by my desk and I caress his face in my hand. "How's my teddy bear pug today? I love you too, little man. Yes, I think you're sweet. Yes, I think you're adorable. Yes, you're mama's favorite, but don't tell the other dogs. They're already jealous of you, you know. It'll be our little secret. I love you the best."

"Archie! My man!" I chirp, rubbing his head in both hands, watching his ears bob up and down as he snorts in response. "You are such a good-looking hunk of pug! Look at that coat!" as I run my fingers through his thick, puppy-soft fur. "I have never seen such magnificent fur. That's why you're my favorite, you know, just between you and me. You're just so sweet and cuddly, such a huggable boy. I love you the best."

I scratch Sammie's sturdy, muscular neck, "Sam-bot! Yeeeessss, I'm happy to see you too! Of course I am! I know, other critters moved in, but you're still my favorite gargoyle. Yes you are! You'll always been my snaggle-toothed baby boy. Always. I love you the best."

"Dude! Atta boy!" I cheer Cannoli as he takes another step out of his shell, opening up some, learning something new from one of the other dogs. "Good "outside"! Good boy! C'mere, cutie! Let me rub that belly! Atta boy! You're my favorite, you know. Yes, you are. So polite and friendly, never cause a problem or an argument. I love how you get along with all the others, how you wait so calmly for dinner and treats and your turn for rubs. Cannoli, I love you the best."


I know.

I won't tell if you won't.

Y'all take care, now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010 - I Heard Someone Say


Yesterday, I heard someone say, advertising some adventure show or another, "Everybody dies, but not everybody lives." I just had to stop and ponder that. I do that now and then, just stop and ponder. I don't especially mean for the Shady Rest blog to focus on death, but at the same time, when you tend to cater to senior and special needs animals, in multiples, it is a topic that comes up perhaps a bit more often than in the average house with pets.

That's not to say the Shady Rest is a gloomy place, with death always hovering in the air. On the contrary, we celebrate life here! There's nothing like first-hand knowledge of just how short life can be to make every moment savory. Cj and I were working in the kitchen the other day, singing with the radio and watching the dogs dance along. When I came home today, they all pranced and spun and I pranced right along with them. We even woke up Archie! Last night I caught Freya playing with Sherman, all alpha-dignity tossed to the winds for a game of tag. When Cj arrives tonight, we'll all conga down the hall to welcome her back.

Nobody, human, dog, cat, other, is immortal. We're all dying; it's just a matter of when, not if. This really isn't a bad thing, though it can be painful. What would we accomplish with ourselves, if we knew we had forever? What urgency would there be to love, to laugh, to appreciate, if no one ever went away? Without nature clearing out the old and worn out, there'd be no babies, no kittens, no puppies.

"We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will." - Chuck Palahniuk

"Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live." - Henry Van Dyke

So, anyway. This convoluted train of thought led me to the conclusion that the worst way to deal with life's limitations is to get a big, honkin' spotlight and aim it at them. If your pet has a medical problem, find out all you can, but if you don't have a diagnosis, quit reading about possible problems. Don't sit there, wringing your hands, mopping the occasional tear and taking Muffy's pulse all day, especially when Muffy has her ball in her mouth and just wants you to play. Get a copy of the Merck Veterinary Manual, a fine book with a ton of animal pathologies included. Thumb through it, tell yourself, out loud, "My dog could die of a whole bunch of stuff in here." Now, toss the damn thing in the back of the deepest closet you have, leave it there, and take the dog out for a small pineapple sundae and a romp in the park. Let it go. Enjoy the now that you do have with your pet and leave the maybes and whatifs and wouldas for when they come.

Most rescues have a hospice dog or six around somewhere, dogs too old or too sick to be readily offered for adoption (though if someone falls in love with one, an adoption would certainly be done, happily.) George was one, because of his heart condition and stroke. Nobody I know who cares for these marvelous dogs thinks of them as "dying." Their stories are told, they have fun with their humans and their toys and their treats, and as long as they enjoy life, their human caregivers enjoy it with them.

"Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." - William Saroyan

Go. Have some fun. Spit in the Reaper's eye.

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8, 2010 - Sweet Dreams Are Made of This


We let the dogs sleep with us Saturday night, or at least most of 'em. Freya prefers her crate, the only pug-free time she has to call her own (moms will understand, I'm sure) and because we're concerned that he'll get knocked off the edge in the night, Archie joins the pack by often snoozing on a blanket on the floor by the bed. Sammie, Spencer, Loki and Sherman, however, were delighted to all be allowed in. Most often, especially during the week, they're all locked out of the human's den - love 'em, but the mamas have to get some rest for work.

So, anyway, when I dozed off Saturday, it was with Sherman by my calf, chin resting on my ankle, Sammie by my knee and lower thigh, Spencer with his butt against my ribs, his head on Cj's pillow, and his front paw draped companionably across her head. Loki was on the outside, curled into the curve of her hip and thigh. It's quite cozy, if a bit crowded, on a cold autumn night.

When I drifted back awake Sunday morning, Cj had already gotten up, across the hall to watch some chick-flick and write her soldier for the week (we're both members of the Soldier's Angels Letter Writing Team). Sammie and Sherman had followed her, Loki and Spencer had opted to stay in bed. Spencer was aligned with my legs, Loki was snoring none too softly with his head comfortably pillowed on my stomach. It was so sweet I just stayed there for a bit, letting them both sleep, until a full bladder and aching hip demanded I move.

Pugs (and apparently beagles, I'm learning) are most excellent sleeping companions. Too much so, sometimes, if you have to get up and be somewhere at a particular time. I still have my job, I suspect, only because my manager is a dog-loving and sympathetic soul who's been a few minutes late herself a time or two because moving her two warm and snoring canine bedmates was more than her willpower was up for.

On the one hand, they DO tend to hog the space, steal the blankets, snore and fart, all of which can be profoundly annoying in a human companion, but for some reason are more cute than aggravating in a dog. At least the dog, having farted under the blanket, has the courtesy to not flap the blanket and share the wealth, and he's companionable enough to not mind if you fart or snore too.

On the other hand, dogs are warm, really warm. It's not at all hard to really comprehend the concept of the phrase "three dog night;" i.e. a night cold enough to require a third dog on the bed to stay comfortably warm.

Mostly, I suspect, humans, whether we want to own up to it or not, are pack animals, just like dogs and wolves. Like them, we're hardwired on some deep, primitive, visceral level to crave the comfort and safety of sleeping in a bunch. We just sleep better when we're part of a "puppy pile," paws and limbs intertwined, touching, nestling like littermates. On some level, we know we're most vulnerable when we're unconscious, and feel then the safety in numbers. Over the centuries, humans have come to rely upon the keener senses of the dogs to be the first to notice a predator or enemy approaching our cave/tent/nest/home. William of Orange made the pug the national dog of The Netherlands after his pug, Pompey, alerted him to approaching attackers, saving his life. Dogs, meanwhile, have come to understand that, if they wake up their humans in time, the humans will put their brains and thumbs into defending the den. Sleeping in happy little piles has proved to be very beneficial to both sides.

Time for me to go, see if I can slide my foot out from under a sleeping Spencer, probably get to sleep with Sherman, who's quick as a snake if he sees a crack in the bedroom door, wish it weren't a work night, try to get some sleep. Y'all have a good night. Toss an extra dog on the bed if you need to. If you don't have an extra dog, look for a rescue in your area - winter's coming. You may need another one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010 - As doG is My Witness...

...I do not make this stuff up. These are actual moments, snippets of conversation, and bits of the day around the Shady Rest.

"Sherman, step off the cat. Thor, spit out Kali and leave her alone. No, I do not care who started it. I will stop it. Because I have the opposable thumbs, that's why."

"Who's digging?"
"Any idea why? Sounds pretty frantic."
"Doesn't he? I've been watching and I still have no idea."
"What's he digging on, exactly?"
"The bed, the square one."
"Should be comfy, from the sound of it."
"You'd think but he wouldn't know. Just laid down right next to it."
"On the floor?"

I hear scuffling out in the kitchen, look around, count noses.
I hear paws trotting briskly down the hall from the kitchen to the office. A pointy little face peers curiously around the door frame.
"Yes, mama?"
"What are you doing out there?"
"Me?" The head tilts. "Nuuuuthin."
The face disappears back around the doorframe, the sound of trotting heads back toward the kitchen. More scuffling ensues, including what sounds suspiciously like the low growl of an annoyed feline.
The face appears in the doorway again, ears up.
"You wouldn't, by any chance, be aggravating the cat, would you, Sherm?"
The ears droop. He looks away. He grumbles at Loki on his way to the snuggle bed. I almost feel bad for spoiling his fun.

Small accomplishment for the day - Archie got to running down the hall and passed Spencer! Go Archie!

Cj and I are out running some errands and it starts to rain. We go to get out at the grocery store, and she hands me the rain jacket she keeps in her car. "Here, it's rainy."
"I see that. Why don't you wear the rain jacket?"
"Because you get cold easier than I do."
"So? You get cold too?"
"I don't mind as much. You wear the jacket."
"Oh, I see how it is. You want ME to wear the jacket, then you'll get cold and wet, get pneumonia, and expect me to wait on your sick, sorry butt hand and foot?"
"That's my plan, yes." as she hops out of the car and trots away, giggling, in the rain...

So, right now, Spencer is in the snuggle bed quietly watching it all, Sherman's on the bedroom floor, staring at the cat on the bed so hard I fear the feline may burst into flame, Loki's dragging his bed around the office, and Sammie's starting to fuss because it''s Tuesday, I guess. Through it all, Freya is asleep. My world - welcome to it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010 - New Stuff, Fun Stuff


Well, it seems fall is upon us. That's fine with us - here at the Shady Rest, autumn is our favorite time of year. Still-warm days, crisp nights, that "fall" smell in the air, stunning blue skies. The leaves are just now starting to change to their orange, red and yellow wardrobe. The grass doesn't need mowing quite as often now, but there aren't yet any leaves to rake. Perfect.

The dogs are loving the cooler weather, and that the mamas tend to be in a better mood this time of year. I got home from work the other day and let them out as usual, then decided to go join them. We had a nice romp in the yard and everybody was smiling when we went back in. CJ. and I met in the fall, Halloween, to be specific, so October and November always bring back fond memories. The fact that it's always more fun to cuddle when it's cooler doesn't hurt any either...

Speaking of CJ., she's been having to work a bunch of overtime lately, mandatory, as her company rearranges to accommodate taking on a new client. In general, this is good - as much job security as one can expect these days and her company is growing, so that's good. Still, it means the dogs and I are having more quality time together by ourselves. We miss her, but we still have a good time.

I find I talk to them more when I'm home "alone" than when CJ's here too. I mean, we both talk to the animals often and at some length, but when it's just me and the kids, the conversations get even longer and more detailed. Part of it is because I don't always have anyone to talk to at work all day either, so by the time I get home, I'm bored, and animals are such great listeners. Dogs appear to hang on every word you say, fascinated. If I seem happy, they get happy with me. If I seem sad, upset or annoyed, they pull in closer, get quieter, seem to be both sympathetic and protective.

Sherman has lately developed a couple of new behaviors, or at least started displaying behaviors we hadn't seen before. For one, when I come home, he rushes to see me, along with the other guys, but that's not the new part. When I reach down to give initial pats, I only have one hand available. (They get a cursory pat, then I put away the purse and lunch bag and whatnot and then more thorough scritches are given with both hands. ) I try to keep it even - a pat for Sherman, a rub for Spencer, a caress for Sammie, and around one more time (the other three, Freya's still crated and Archie and Loki usually wait at the other end of the house for me to get there, preferring to avoid the rush.) That used to work fine, each getting a pat or two in turn, but now as soon as I try to move my hand off Sherman's head and onto Spencer's or Sammie's, Sherman will grab my sleeve with his teeth, just the tiny front teeth and very carefully, and try to pull my hand off of them!

It might be a behavior worth discouraging if he were pulling hard or trying to bite flesh, but he's so careful with the fabric and so careful not to get skin, that I can't help but chuckle at him. I tell him to wait his turn and he runs off. He then runs back bearing a toy! He never, ever used to do that, and I'm tickled he's opening up and wanting to play. Wiggling all over he runs to the kitchen, down the hall, to the living room, squeaking his toy all the way, the bounces up on the bed to get me to play grab with him for a few minutes.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit his other new "thing." He's started wanting to "spoon." Romantic with a partner, a little disconcerting with a beagle. This morning, for instance, I'm about half awake and feel something warm scoot up against my upper back, right between the shoulder blades. For one, very brief moment I thought it was CJ., until a cold, wet nose went "Fooof!" and blew a blast of exhale on my neck! Slowly and carefully, I turned enough to verify that yes, Sherman had crawled to the top of the bed, body still under the blanket, but head on my pillow, chest up against my back, one paw kind of over my shoulder. CJ was on the other side of him, her back to his, and Kali the cat was on CJ's outside, by her hip. Quite cozy.

I'd like to add that I'm quite proud of Archie. I had some errands to run today while CJ was at work and as I got ready to go, I realized that I was assigning tasks - "Freya, keep an eye on the house," "Sherman, don't eat Sammie"- and Archie was sitting up in the bedroom, awake and listening to the discussion. For some reason I felt a twinge of guilt, like I was afraid he was feeling left out, like I didn't think he was capable because he was older and nearly blind. So, I leaned down, rubbed his head with both hands and said, "And Archie, YOUR job is to guard this bedroom while I'm gone. You're between the door and the bed, so it's your responsibility to make sure nobody steals the bed or sneaks it out that door. Okay?" He looked at me and tapped his foot on the floor, which I took as sort of an Archie version of "aye-aye, ma'am."

I ran my errands, met up with CJ in the driveway as we got home about the same time, went to grab a bite and came home. I went to the bedroom and there it was, the bed, still safely in place, with Archie still in the doorway, still sitting up (or, more likely, sitting up again after a bit of a nap). I told him how very proud I was, what a brave and good guardian he was! He seemed pleased at the praise, getting up to march off down the hall to the kitchen pee pad. I should leave him in charge more often.

Ya'll take care, now. Take a second to look at the leaves and sniff the air while it's still autumn-crisp. Winter'll be here before you know it.