Monday, December 29, 2008


We adopted a dog this weekend. She's approx. three years old, "buff" colored (greyish tan like a nice leather car interior), 40-50 lb. pit bull mix. Sweet, alert, good on a leash, intelligent and interested in learning, and seems friendly toward other dogs. The shelter called her Lula, but I'm going to call her Star.

She's getting spayed today, so she has to stay at the shelter until Tuesday. No pics yet, alas. The only one I have is a terrible photo obviously taken by the shelter immediately upon intake; she is cowering, and her eyes are big glowing yellow balls. Her photo is so bad that I didn't even consider her when I was doing a web search; I went to the shelter to look at a different dog and ended up checking her out as well.

I'm so excited, but also nervous. I have no idea how Dozer will do. The shelter did not require us to do a meet-and-greet, which was a huge relief. Instead, I am going to do the slowest possible intro--two weeks of crate and rotate--before bringing them together. Hopefully by then he will have accepted Star as a roommate (I think 'pal' is probably asking too much).

Now I've got to do some reading up. I haven't trained a green dog for years. Our comfy routine and our house rules are about to get all shaken up. The chaos will be similar to that created by a foster dog--but we're keeping this one, so I have to get my training cap on.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sure, make this adoption a little more difficult

We've been trying to find a suitable dog to fill the hole left by Felanie. I have been taking my time, and I've had very high expectations: small adult female pit bull-type that is social and dog-friendly. That in itself narrows my options considerably.

And yet, no one seems particularly eager to rehome their adoptable dogs. To date, not a single local rescue group has bothered to respond to my general inquiries about adoption. I can't even seem to get in touch with them when I want to meet a dog they have posted on Petfinder. So I guess rescue groups are out.

That leaves shelters. And out of the six shelters in our area, two require meet-and-greets, which are guaranteed to go badly because of Dozer. No exceptions—I asked. So those are out. Three others do not require meet-and-greets, but refuse to do home visits (which might actually work for Dozer). If I adopt from any of these three, then, I'm going to have to make an on-the-spot decision.

Only one shelter does home visits. Not only that, but they allow overnights / trial runs! Perfect, right? Sure, if they had a dog there that met my criteria... but they don't.

Meanwhile, my visit to one shelter (one that recommends but does not require a meet-and-greet) netted a very promising dog that seemed to fit my criteria fairly well. I asked about the adoption process. When I explained my situation (meet-and-greet will not be a good idea) the lady helping me proceeded to advise me to look elsewhere for a shelter that would do a home visit! Yes, she was encouraging me to go away.

I ventured to suggest a trial period. The lady stared at me as if I had just fallen out of the ceiling. Then she said, "No. Once you adopt, the dog is yours permanently. You really should do a meet-and-greet. Just today we had several animals returned because they aren't getting along with the other critters in the house."

Okay, I just explained why a meet-and-greet won't work. But wait a sec. You won't do a trial period or an overnight. But it's okay for people to return the animals they adopt. Isn't that sort of the same thing? And wouldn't a trial prevent those much-lamented returns? At the very least, a trial run means one dog not sitting in a kennel going nuts, one dog not "taking up space," one dog weasling its way into a prospective adopter's heart.

I am utterly stumped. As much as I hate making a psuedo-commitment, the shelter system here has put me against a wall. How the heck am I supposed to adopt a suitable dog when nobody shows the least bit of interest in working with me (the exception being the lone shelter that allows overnights, but has no dogs that show potential)?

While our shelters refuse to help potential adopters (or treat them like loonies, which is something I keep running into whenever I ask a real question), and cling to their either-or philosophy ("either you take it home for keeps or you don't take it home at all"), all these dogs are being put to sleep.

I don't know why this is so difficult. Grr.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A great Christmas gift

Sports Illustrated is finally making up for their 1987 sensational, stereotypical, fearmongering cover and article about pit bulls:

1987 SI cover: The article inside was similarly ridiculous.

2008 SI cover: The article inside is thoughtful and much less sensational.

The 2008 article even references the ghastly 1987 SI issue. The reference is both apologetic ("oops, we might have contributed to a problem") and exculpatory ("but the article inside was not so bad"). Yes, SI, back in 1987 you did contribute to a serious problem--and yes, the article inside was that bad.

But thank you for this positive coverage. I hope it undoes some of the damage you did to the pit bull's image twenty years ago.

Almost... there...

Come on, Christmas. I'm ready. The house is clean (kinda). The gifts are wrapped (well, halfway). The menu is done (the cooking is not). The tree is decorated (only took a week to get around to it).

Yes. I'm ready.

Dozer seems more ready than me. He is deeply disturbed by the presence of the tree. It's a bit larger than usual, true, and it does loom ominously as a result. Bigger is not always better. Next year I'm going to pick something a tad more suitable. (But it didn't look nearly as large on the lot, I swear!)

Dozer also participates in the bizarre gift-wrapping ritual that my husband and I go through every year. I say it's bizarre because we always pile the unwrapped gifts under the tree, then wrap them at the last minute. Because we have family members at our house constantly, the unwrapped gifts are a source of stress--what if Mom comes over and sees her amazing gift sitting there? The surprise is ruined! Quick, throw a sheet over it in a way that doesn't look totally suspicious. I don't know why we don't wrap as we buy. It would make life a lot less ridiculous.

Anyway, that's beside the point. Dozer, for some weird reason, likes to "help" with the gift-wrapping, which takes place on our living room floor. I bring down the paper, scissors, and tape from my office, settle onto the floor, and almost immediately find myself the target of a huge, excited white dog. He sits on me. He puts his head on my leg. His lips caress each gift--each mysterious box, each paper or plastic bag, each price tag I yank off. I pick up the scissors, and Dozer shoves his wet nose between the blades--sniff sniff sniff. I have to reach over his bulk to spread out the wrapping paper.

What on earth is this dog's problem? He's always directly between me and the gift. And if I dare to look at him or talk to him ("Dozer, move your fat head"), he starts licking my face uncontrollably.

I suppose he thinks some or all of these gifts are for him. Or perhaps it's my mistake for letting him "help" by tearing apart some of the unnecessary cardboard boxes. It actually was helpful (we must flatten for recycling), but now I have to rein in his new desire to rip apart ALL the boxes and packages.

To Dozer's credit, he has been very good about it all. This is his first year being left unsupervised and uncrated around the Christmas decorations and gifts. I expected at least one chewed candy cane or one torn gift, but the only thing he's done so far is discover his own Christmas gift. That was my mistake, as I left it on the floor in a Petco bag. Amazingly, he pulled his gift out of the bag but did not touch the cat toys or the dog toys that I had bought for friend and family pets. I guess we really know Dozer well, since he self-selected the gift intended for him.

Unfortunately, I hadn't taken the packaging off the toy yet. Fortunately, Dozer apparently realized it was not in a condition to be played with; he abandoned it on the dining room floor and we found it easily when we got home--it was still in perfect condition. Byrd stuck it in Dozer's stocking.

Oh yes. The stocking. It's a little depressing: it says "DOGS." Depressing for me, I guess. Dozer could care less. There's no way he remembers Fel after all this time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And the "meet and greet"...

...bombed. I was hoping it wouldn't, but I had doubts... doubts that proved to be right.

Dozer made his growly "I don't like you" display and the other dog said "You want some? Here's some!"

I have no problem with Dozer's behavior and I'm sure Dozer would have been quite good if this had been a home visit (shelter wouldn't do a home visit). On the other hand, this did give me an opportunity to assess the other dog's level of dog friendliness, and unfortunately she didn't meet my rather high (too high?) standards. She would still be a great dog for someone who just wanted a cuddlebug.

I think the shelter was annoyed with me for being the catalyst that resulted in a "best as only dog in household" note on the dog's file.

Back to the drawing board.

I have no idea how to choose a dog. They usually just show up at my house.

Well, the house LOOKS clean, anyway...

Sitting here eating cheese, crackers, and apples--my favorite lunch--and willing my sore throat to go away. No, I refuse to get sick over the holidays! I've been hit by at least three mysterious sore throats (plus assorted random symptoms that manifest into a knockout illness) over the last year. The doctor has no idea what the problem is. I think he's tested for everything. I'm starting to wonder if it's allergies. (Welcome to Austin, allergy capitol of the world.)

I hired a maid service to clean my house today. Could I have done the cleaning myself? Yes. Do I have time? No. Let's put it this way. It took two experienced cleaning women almost two hours to clean my house. And that's not including laundry, dishes, and picking up, which I have been doing sporadically over the past three days. It also excludes my darling husband's office, which he refused to pick up at all (probably because he knows it is beyond hope). Now the maids are gone, my house looks sparkly (sans hubby's office), and I still have four or five loads of laundry to cycle. And Christmas decorations to put up. And so much more that I am not even going to mention.

Dozer was quite polite while the maids were here. He stuck with me, per my request (read: command), and we stayed out of the way. Unfortunately, he is incredibly farty today, so our house smells a lot less clean than it should. In fact, for a short while I had him closed in the bedroom, and when I went in there to let him out, I had to turn on the ceiling fan. It was terrible! I don't even want to know what the maids thought... how embarrassing.

Today I'm taking Dozer to the animal shelter to meet a potential housemate. He's going to hate it. And it will be worse since his stomach is apparently upset--he will be awful, I know it. But at least I will find out how the other dog feels when confronted by a sick, anxious, grumpy, anti-social selfish jerk dog.

Friday, December 05, 2008

So I thought the end of November would bring me a little downtime. Instead I got an unexpected call from an old boss, and to make a long story short, I am now working on two rush copyediting jobs at once. Which is great, because I love copyediting, and more than that, I love getting paid tons of money to copyedit.

But it means no downtime. Except weekends, which I am going to fight to keep free. Not that I'll be doing any relaxing on the weekends, since I've got Christmas shopping and cards and housework and all that jazz to deal with.

Dozer has become both frisky and pesky over the last few days. I'm sure part of it is boredom, and part is the colder weather blowing in. The other night when I was copyediting past 3 am, he began to get increasingly impatient with me. He acts as my "bodyguard" around the house, following me everywhere--it's what he considers his "job"--and I guess he figured it was very late, and he was tired, and he wanted to clock out and get some sleep, and I was being unreasonable by staying up so ridiculously late.

So he started whining: a quiet, yet shrill, continuous gasping sound. I tried to silence him by letting him outside to potty. I gave him a treat. I stared him down. I told him "no," whereupon we had a conversation that went like this:


Byrd got home from his job at about 3:30 am, and at my request (Dozer was now whining with every breath out), he took Dozer to bed with him. Dozer did not go willingly, but I think he finally realized I was not ready for bed, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Back to normal, whatever that is

Titan got adopted today, and we're hoping it will stick. I think it will; the family has an extensive dog-owning history and experience with cattle dogs as well.

So with Titan's departure, I'm looking forward to cleanup. I can un-puppy-proof the house: pull down the dog toy box and the giant tiger toy (the giant lion toy succumbed to its injuries shortly after Titan discovered the stuffing inside), put away the dog crate and the extra metal bowls, wash the dog blankets and beds, vacuum, and file away Titan's adoption paperwork--or just dump it on the floor in my "to file" pile. Dozer won't care.

The timing is perfect, since it looks like I have a steady job for a while. The textbook company I'm freelancing for has started churning out chapters for me to copyedit. Yay! Work!

I'm toying with the idea of redesigning a website for a local pit bull rescue as my big donation for the holidays. They badly need a new site--their current one is outdated and unpleasant to navigate--I'm just not sure how to tactfully approach them, especially since it looks like someone took a personal interest in creating the current site, investing a lot of themselves into it. What should I say? "Wow, okay, I know you meant well when you designed this, but the purpose of your site isn't very clear. Are you trying to rescue dogs, or induce migraines?" Gah. :/