Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

October 24th

Autumn is in full swing here in NH and the colors are spectacular this year- lots of yellows, fire reds and oranges on the trees.   So far the weather has been fairly mild with most days ranging from 70-50 degrees.     Bit rainier than last year, but after the dry spring and summer, I try not to mind it too much.  I know we need it. 

My brother’s cat (Ninja Kitty) has taken to timing her nap times to coincide with when the window sills are sunny and warm.   In another few weeks she’ll probably start camping on the heaters.   We have base board heat and for the past couple of winters she’s taken to stretching out on top of them.  They are just wide enough for her to do so without too much trouble.  

At 15 and arthritic we don’t think she has too much time left so she’s been getting spoiled by everyone.   Even the dogs have been gentlemanly towards her- when she deigns to notice their presence in her world.  As far as she’s concerned, most days it’s: DOGS DO NOT EXIST-LALALALA CAN’T HERE YOU.   

My dog Lucky and Chewie, our son’s dog, are enjoying the fall weather as well. Lucky is delighted in all the new (re: rotting) smells of foliage and...other things dying right now and is forever rooting and scenting for new and fascinating things to roll in or eat.   Chewie is mostly happy for the cooler temperatures, I think.  Having a mostly black coat tends to lead to roasting like a potato in foil during the summer.   

As of this weekend, Chewie has been with us 6 months and it truly does feel like he’s been with us for years.   A dear friend had been trying to find him a home for about a year.  As we already had four cats and a dog I was reluctant at first to bring another pet into the fold, but after mentioning Essie’s predicament to SSG we were on our way down to CT to bring him home. 

Seriously, our conversation went like this:

“Oh, Essie is still looking for a home for her Dad’s old dog.”

“How old?”

“6, I think.  Here’s the pic she posted.”

“What breed?”

“Basset Hound/Besingi about 40 lbs.”

“Well, we can’t drive down this weekend because of Drill.  How about we go down the next long weekend?”

(Note: SSG gets every other Friday off at his totally awesome civilian job)   

“I’ll see if they’re still looking for a home for him.”

FB MSG to Essie:
Are you still looking for a home for your Mom’s dog? Our son would love a dog and mine could use a buddy.

Essie’s reply:
Do you know how much I love you? 

Two weeks later, we drove down, introduced Lucky and Chewie to each other and took both back home after it became clear that they didn’t immediately hate each other.  SSG drove the entire way- roughly 6 hours of driving- without tapping off.  My husband, the USARMY tank. 

Chewie quickly settled into our house, and Lucky has been delighted to have a friend.  He was getting dangerously bored as the only dog, a very bad thing for my shoes.
Six months later, Chewie and Lucky are practically attached at the hip and get distressed if one is being taken on a walk or car ride without the other. 

There have been challenges.  Chewie does not like other dogs as a general rule so we have to deal with extremely aggressive behavior if we meet other dogs while out and about.  He also has no patience for “busy” children poking at him incessantly.  He’s cute as a button and munchkin height, so they are attracted to him like ants to honey.  I spent GNEW terrified that he’d bite one of the little darlings that would not leave him alone.   Not that the kid wouldn’t have deserved it, but the last thing any pet owner wants is to have their dog bite someone.  

 Chewie had a really rough beginning.  When Essie’s family adopted him at around a year old he was mostly white with some black spots.  Then they discovered that the white fur was due to scarring and scabbed over injuries.    Chewie has a tuxedo coat naturally.  

I hate people sometimes.

None of which is his fault and Essie’s family rehabilitated him beautifully but there are challenges we’ve had to discover and deal with.  There are days when he reacts badly to loud noises or being moved when he’s settled in for a nap (he frequently picks the most inconvenient spaces to settle in) and I’m dead certain that we will have more challenges down the road with him.

I highly recommend adopting shelter dogs as they really are some of the most loyal pets you will ever find, but it’s a gamble and you need to be ready to deal with anything. Educate yourself about training a dog, and training out unwelcome behaviors as well as know what your limits and capabilities are before adopting a dog.   Shelters often have only the barest of details about their dogs, especially if the dog is from out of state like my Lucky was.   

Lucky was well treated before going into a shelter in AL and someone had worked with him at some point as he was at least half-trained.   Chewie, abused and
malnourished before finding first Essie and then us, will always be suspicious and distrustful of strangers where Lucky is fearless and has yet to meet a dog he doesn’t immediately want to be friends with.

He’s a Rat Terrier mix, it’s apparently inherent to the breed. 

Dealing with Chewie, as well rehabilitated and loving as he is- and he is a total love slave- has taken patience and understanding from everyone involved and we went into it with eyes wide open and full disclosure. 

Seeing him and Lucky like this the other day has been totally worth the worry and occasionally catching him on top of my kitchen table. 

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