Thursday, September 20, 2012

Collies & Kids

The Collie loves my nephews. They were as recently as a few months ago afraid of dogs. She was as recently as a few months ago presumed to be a little to rambunctious to socialize freely with toddlers.

They bring out the best in each other.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Rare Mischief Monday

I don't usually participate in Mischief Monday, because let's be real here, you guys would get bored after a month or so of pictures of chewed up paper towels, toilet paper, and Kleenex, because each and every one of these dogs is absolutely helpless in the face of a stray paper product.

But this week, it begged to be shared.

A few days ago, I was letting the dogs into the backyard. Java was a little bit charged up, but nothing outrageous. He stepped on my bare foot with one of his back feet and kicked his 65lb. self off and into the backyard. We wondered for a while if it was broken, but no. Just magnificently bruised.

This picture was before the bruises had fully bloomed and in no way does them justice, but it does at least partially convey that my foot was purple from where my toes start all the way to my ankle.

Oh em gee. Ouch.

So let's review the list of injuries inflicted by this dog:
  1. Canine tooth jammed so far underneath my thumbnail that it was almost to the nail bed and forever altered the shape of that little crescent where the nail extends past the nail bed in his exuberance to take a treat.
  2. Split, bloody bottom lip from a very hard Doberman head that was way too excited to be getting a hug.
  3. A bite from an excited frisbee game that left a scar on my hand.
  4. Countless scratches and bruises on my hands, arms, and legs.
  5. The foot incident.
Almost every one has been because he was way too happy. Damn happy dog.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Violet is a Spokescollie!

So, just a couple of days ago I got a Facebook message from Marilyn, a fellow Indy volunteer for TriState Collie Rescue. She is also the treasurer of the organization, and I've met her a few times for hand-offs while transporting. Very, very nice lady. It just said that she had just left me a voicemail and it was urgent. I'd been lolling around on the couch, dying and doing homework (I have a cold), and the phone was buried in the couch cushions.

So I called her back and it turns out that TSCR was going to do an interview for a local news channel and they needed some Collie representatives. Marilyn was having hand surgery the day before the interviews, so she couldn't handle her dog as far as traveling is concerned, and her dog was also a Collie mix. I moved around a wedding dress fitting a little bit and said sure. Violet got recruited, along with two other Collies owned by a volunteer.

I won't lie, I was nervous. Several reasons, like:
  1. Violet is a Collie. I don't know if you've met a Collie, but they bark.
  2. Now and then, Violet hates people. 90% of the time she is your normal, happy, loving, gentle, sweet Collie, but occasionally, she meets someone that she just can't stand. Of course she's never aggressive, but she will bark, she will back away if they approach her, and she will not accept treats from them. There is no rhyme or reason to it. She hated the photographer for our engagement pictures, and I can tell you that the photographer was a very, very nice lady. I do not know what her deal is.
  3. Violet has anxiety. We've found that melatonin vastly helps her remain at an even keel, but I'd be lying if I said that she didn't have a couple of issues.
  4. I hate being on camera.
  5. Oh, also I hardly have any voice. I've been sick all week and now I sound like a teenage boy at puberty.
So I said yes with the contingency that I didn't have to speak and that she'd be given a few minutes to acclimate to the room. I cut up a ton of little cocktail weenies and put them in a travel cup, gave her some melatonin and off we went, downtown.

She. Did. Amazingly.

Oh my gosh. I have never been more proud of that dog. We were there for nearly an hour before shooting, and she was calm, focused, working her commands, doing tricks, being sweet and friendly and perfect. She started to spook halfway through filming because a giant camera-thing on wheels (not attached to a person, just a free agent camera thing) started moving right toward the stage, but come on. She's a herding breed. Other than some jitters when we first started - she'd had tons of time to acclimate to the building and people but only about 45 seconds to acclimate to the actual room - she was so perfect.

You'll note that I had absolutely no idea where I was supposed to be looking, so I just looked everywhere, basically. Oh well. It's not an interview about adopting 24 year old social work students, so it's okay. The video:

You'd better believe, she got every last cocktail weenie when she was done. I feel like she's come a long way.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Very Long Post Full of Happy-Bittersweet Endings

What a day. It's been an interesting enough day to warrant an actual, not-just-pictures blog post.

So I came home from morning volunteering at the daycare today, all geared up to write my sociology blog assignment for school that I'd put off all day week. I went out back with Eric and the dogs for a minute before starting and saw a dog running up the street about one house over. Now, I would've done what I could to aid any loose dog that was friendly enough to be approached, but something about this dog said "herding breed" to me, so it was on. I happened to have a handful of baked tortilla chips, grabbed Natalie's leash, and headed across the road. Java was going nuts in our yard because Java is unfortunately not much of a team player when it comes to strange animals. His requirements for a potential new friend are quite specific, but more on that another day. Among them are "is a girl," or "is a boy that I've known since I was a baby." This dog was neither, ultimately.

The pup was quite approachable (more so than my jerk of a doberman, I'm afraid) and interested in tortilla chips (who isn't?). He had on a blue collar with a cute skull pattern, but no tags. I easily got a leash on him and headed back home, formulating a plan as we walked. Among other reasons, Java would make it near impossible to keep him in the house for any length of time, and though he appeared to be healthy I was reluctant to expose our own herd to a dog with an unknown health situation. He was an interesting dog, sort of long and short, almost like a corgi, but with a square spaniel-esque head and a lot of fluffy, almost-but-not-quite Collie-like hair. He was white with a lot of black speckles and several big black spots. Eric and I had some heated debates about his potential breed mix, but all the same...

He seemed to be in good shape, not underweight, in need of a good brushing but nothing extreme at all, pretty clean and very mild-mannered and perfect on a leash. Neutered. I surmised that he probably hadn't been lost for all that long, and headed off for a good walk around the area. We knocked on doors, asked lawn-mowers and joggers if they knew him. No one had ever seen him. It's a subdivision, I feel like we usually kind of know what dogs live where. I began to suspect that maybe he wasn't from around here. I sang him a little song that went like "I've been through the suburbs with a dog with no name, it felt good to get out of the ra-aaain..." We walked and walked, and now and then he would abruptly pick up his pace and look animated. I wondered if maybe he spied his home, but as far as I could tell, nope.

Eventually we went back home and decided that the next logical step was to take him to our veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. Maybe we would luck out and they would recognize him, even. Our veterinarian's practice is very near our house, and very small, so it seemed possible. He was also a very good boy in the car, but no chip, no recognition. We went back home and let him into our backyard with some food and water while I went inside to formulate a plan. It was about 3 pm and a lot of people weren't home, so I figured maybe he escaped while his people were at work, and I'd check again around 6 or so when people would be getting home. I called every local veterinarian and every local shelter. I posted a found ad on Craigslist. We have a pretty nice local resource, a Facebook page where people can post their lost and found pets. It's well-publicized, and they also watch for and post strays that are in shelters and other places. I posted for him there, and a few minutes later found a found ad for him... from four days earlier. There went my "probably just escaped today" theory. Four days ago, from what I can gather, someone in our neighboring subdivision picked him up, took him in, took his picture, and when they failed to find an owner, turned him loose outside again.

Now, I guess this may not be a black and white issue, but in my personal belief system, it is. We have a handful of smaller rescue organizations in this area (excluding breed-specific rescues, of course), and about three major shelters. One technically takes strays and owner surrenders, but the wait list to even have an "assessment appointment" to discuss surrendering the animals can be several weeks. There's no walking in and saying "I found this dog." They technically do not euthanize for space, but I really emphasize the word "technically" here. Another accepts immediate surrenders, but because of this they have an extremely, notoriously high kill rate: dogs have four days to get adopted or claimed, generally. The third pretty much just pulls from the first two and is no-kill. To me, a safe place and a humane euthanasia would be a better fate than being left to the elements to be hit by a car or starve to death. Tragic, yes. But less so than releasing a pet into the wild. The only option C, assuming that keeping the animal yourself is not on the table, would be attempting to rehome the animal yourself.

So the plan was this: post found ads everywhere we could. I reached out to the Collie rescue that I volunteer with for resources, got two that were ingenious dead ends. Post a rehoming ad explaining his situation as candidly as possible, see what that nets. Walk him again: knock on more doors. If nothing could be done by the end of the day, take him to the shelter.

I posted ads. I made calls. No dice. I took him for one last ditch walk into the next subdivision, and...we came upon a gaggle of pre-teen girls, who stopped what they were doing and said "Oh my God, that looks like Patches!"

We said "Really? Does this look like a missing dog that you know?" and the dog was engulfed in these girls, screaming "Oh my God it's Patches!" Turns out the leader of the group's best friend had lost her dog about a week ago and had been weeping (though apparently not looking too hard) ever since.

It was a happy ending. It was really kind of heart-warming.

I don't know exactly what the circumstances were, but I couldn't help but think: if any of our dogs were missing for one minute, or one week, or one year, or any amount of time, I would not rest until they were home. I would live outdoors. I would not sleep, or eat, or have fun, or go home, or anything, until at the very least every inch of the city had been plastered in fliers, every door in a five mile radius had been knocked on, every mailbox had a flier in it, every stone had been turned to bring them home. It is beyond me how anyone else could respond any differently, but..."Patches" is back with his people, and he seems to be very happy about it, so we'll chalk it up as a happy ending. Luckily in particular, as we had a massive, torrential storm just a few hours later.

On a different but strangely similar note...

A little bit of backstory on this one, if you'll bear with me here.

On December 31, 1996, my mother bought a one year old, red, longhaired dachshund. I was 8. She wanted a dog for some reason or other (I was 8, I don't know why) and responded to an ad in the newspaper for a large mixed breed female dog. I don't really remember what happened, the dog was already gone or my mother didn't like her, something, but the lady's daughter and son in law had a dachshund that they needed to find a home for. They brought him out, and he walked right up and lifted his leg on my mother's shoe. He came home with us. His name was Chancey, but it didn't suit him at all and he was renamed Quincee (my mom has always had a thing for the E-Es...).

It would in no way be an understatement to say that Quincee and I grew up together. We got a second dachshund, my dog, Taylor, in 1997, and he was my pup until he died in 2002. Quincee, though, was there for everything. He was a bird dog, in spite of his three inch legs, and caught several birds in the backyard. He played a mean game of tennis ball. Throw it once and you'd be throwing it for hours. If you hugged him, he'd do a little moan that we called buzzing, every time. He slept under the blankets on my mother's feet, every single night for 15 years. He was wild about bananas - wild. He would hear one being peeled from across the house and be there, ninja-like, on silent feet. I called him Q. Mom always figured he kept thinking of me as 8, because he never listened to a damn word I said, which was fine. For a brief time when he was 3 or 4, my mother (a single mother) had housing issues, and he went to live in Michigan with my grandparents temporarily. She called every day and talked to him on the phone so that he'd remember her. He came home after a couple months. A million pictures of Quincee. A million more memories.

About 1 year ago, Mom told me that Quincee had begun barking all day while she was at work. She lives in an apartment and was (is) very tight financially, but tried everything that she could for while. She tried tuckering him out, tried leaving him with someone during the day, tried Benedryl, tried acepromazine, tried baby-gating him into the kitchen with a peanut butter Kong and blankets. Nothing worked long-term for one reason or another. Eventually she was told by her landlord that she would be evicted if she didn't get rid of her dog. Ordinarily I would think "Well, move to a different apartment," but truly, there is not an apartment that would be cool with 40 hours of barking each week, and a house was not an option for her. I was absolutely unable to take him. A friend and coworker of hers offered to take him into her home. She was married with a few kids - Quincee loves kids, and it was as win-win as it could be for quite some time, close to a year I believe. The next part is messy, and I was not truly involved, so all I will say is that the woman began having an affair and from what I understand, using her "I did you a big favor and took your dog" upper-hand to use my mother as an alibi for her husband. This part is second hand for me, so I will refrain from commenting much on it. The whole thing turned into a trainwreck. As these things always do, the infidelity came to light, my mother and the woman had somewhat of a falling out, but she continued to update her with pictures and reports on Quincee.

Quincee turned 17 on August 22. The woman had recently been unwilling to respond to texts about how he was doing.

Immediately after the stray dog debacle, I was just browsing Facebook when I happened to see a post from my local Humane Society's page (I have it "liked," so it shows up in my newsfeed). I skimmed the text without looking closely at the picture, a 17 year old dachshund named "Quincy" had been dropped off that day, extremely matted, and what a lucky dog, a young couple had adopted him without hours of his arrival and grooming. Yep. Quincee.

His new people look very nice, and bless them for adopting a 17 year old. But I won't lie, I am gutwrenched to see how this story has ended up. It was painful enough when he left his home of 15 years, but to know that he's been not well cared for and was dumped in the Humane Society makes me sick to my stomach. I am kicking myself for not somehow moving heaven and earth to take him myself when he went to that horrible woman, even though I know rationally that it would not have been possible. As far as I can tell, he has an awesome home now, and I truly thank God for that. Still, the whole situation just... I commented on the post on Facebook in order to reach out to the new family in case they are interested in medical history, allergies (he has several!), preferences and quirks, photos...anything. Really, I'd just like to be able to see him keep being happy. In any event, it has a happy ending I guess, but I'm still feeling very saddened about the whole thing right now.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dog Day Afternoon ft. Woofstock 2012

A couple weeks ago, Dog Day Afternoon was here! It was not quite as fun as last year, but I'm still glad that we went. It seemed so wrong without Piper. She had a lot of fun last year, and Violet has never been quite as stable as far as anxiety since Piper died, so I think that she had a lot more fun last year, too.

Last year...


This year we took Violet and Natalie just for an hour or so. Violet was quite nervous, and we left early.

Scratch Mobile Comfort Food: best burger I've ever had. 

Natalie pooped out.

Hopefully next year will be a little nicer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wild Natty

Natalie may be getting a bit of a reputation as crazy.

You've seen, now, several pictures of her that have been described as "terrifying," "chilling," and "psychotic." Rest assured, I don't just catch her in a crazy face through quick camera trickery.

Nope. That's just her face sometimes. (Kind of a lot of the time.)

Perhaps you're suspecting that this is all building up to "Aww, but here's the softer side of Natalie. She's not really wild."

Haha, nope. Just more wild Natalie.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

69 Days

Behold: the wedding to-do list. Nearly everything on it is due now, if not overdue, and plenty has been added since this picture.

69 days 'til the wedding.

What has really struck me as weird/interesting/maddening/cool about it all is that when you're meeting one vendor, or planning one aspect, it seems so important. When you're picking the music (and don't even get me started on the music...), it seems like the music is such a huge part of the wedding. It's always playing! While I'm walking up the aisle. While the wedding party does. While I walk back down the aisle. While we cut the cake. When we're introduced as man and wife. The father/daughter dance. The mother/son dance. The anniversary dance. The kids' dance. It's all about the music.

And then we meet with the bakery, and there's so much to be decided. What flavors? What fillings? What sort of frosting? What design? What cake base? Who's going to return the cake base after? What cake topper? Oh my god, what cake topper? Do we want a basic, man and woman, regular one? Do we want a quirky, unusual one, like a lion and lioness because we like lions? Do we want to forgo a couple and just do letters? What about birds? I love birds? Or oh-em-gee how about a custom topper with both of us and the dogs? Truly, it is a world unto itself.

Then, the officiant. That guy is pretty important. So many important questions to be addressed there. Do we want to write our own vows? Use the traditional ones? Is anyone doing a reading? Who? What reading? Do we want him to do a blessing? These things seem to encompass like 90% of the wedding.

Well then it's time to deal with the dress. Oh, hell, the dress. If you play fill-in-the-blanks, and you say "Wedding _____," you will fill it with "dress." It's that important. What do I remember most about most of the weddings I've gone to? Specific song choices? Cake color? The catering? No. The dress. So there's that. Can I wear the heirloom dress that was my stepmother's mother's? Can it be altered drastically enough? If no, what the hell dress do I buy when I like them all? Truly, going into this I expected fully to go try on dresses and hate them all, have none fit right, none wow me, feel weird and out of place in them all...oh, no. I loved them all. I wanted to buy every single dress and have 20 outfit changes during the wedding. Do I want the beautiful mermaid style vintage-looking dress? The classic princess ballgown? Something drapey and flowing? Truth: I want every single one. Once a dress is chosen, God, then I need to coordinate shoes, jewelry, a headpiece, a veil, a clutch, makeup, hair...

I see, I completely see, why wedding planners exist. Any one single element is completely consuming, and there are dozens. How some people manage to pull this off in just a few months is beyond me.

Recently Checked Off:
  • Pick reception songs
  • Pick ceremony music
  • Buy cake topper
  • E-mail accessories coordinator with questions
  • Buy a guestbook
  • Figure out vows
  • Pay off venue
  • Buy wedding dress
  • Buy clutch
  • Buy bubbles
  • Trial run eyebrow threading
  • Start registries
  • Buy wedding shoes
  • Buy veil
To Be Checked Off In the Next Day or Two
  • Order invitations
  • Figure out how to word directions to venue
  • Schedule tux fittings
  • Make programs
  • Pay remaining vendors
  • Buy unity candles
And the list goes on.

My nephews while my sister tried on maid of honor dresses. We were worried about keeping them entertained, but it turned out the mirrors were all they needed.

To the left there is my grandmother, looking amazing in her bridesmaid dress.

And don't worry...none of the dresses shown turned out to be "the dress," so the mystery remains.