I look at A LOT of dog rescue sites. I’m always looking for the next member of our family. Also, I love to see dogs get listed and then find their forever home. It’s easy for me as the viewer of this process but I know that rescue groups work tirelessly to make it all happen.
It’s pretty typical for me to look on a site, read some bios and feel as if I want to save them all. I count them up and convince myself to go from a one dog home to a home with ten dogs. It’s even easier at adoption events. “I’ll take that one, and that one, and oh definitely that one”. There are many types of people who make an animal loving world spin. Many dive in and adopt or foster as many dogs as they can. These are my heroes. I want so badly to foster and it is the single thing I am most terrified of committing to. Each time I try to think about why, I become overwhelmed. In the same way I want all dogs to be saved (the dreamer half of my heart), I want to be sure about each dog I consider bringing into my home (the realistic part of my brain). These two equally powerful forces within me can cause me days and week of debate with myself.
I visualize things. When I’m shopping for furniture, decorations or a new house, I rely wholeheartedly on my ability to see it working out or not. I have great confidence in this skill of mine. If I can’t see it working, no matter how much I may love it or how much it might haunt me, I walk away. It’s the same with my ongoing pursuit of a dog. I just know when it’s right. There are three dogs that are proof of this. I have that feeling for a certain dog right now. The dog currently has an adoption pending however there is some uncertainty about whether it will go through. First and foremost I want the dog to find a forever home where they can be loved, and spoiled and find joy. Second, I really hope that home turns out to be mine
I have always felt it imperative to like and trust my doctor. I feel the same way about a vet, maybe even more so since I am not formally Internet trained on veterinary issues, mostly just human ailments.
I love our vet. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the entire practice as well as our primary vet doctor. When Max was near the end of his life my biggest question was ‘how will I know when it’s time’. They assured me they would tell me when all medical options had been exhausted. They did just that. Our vet came to our house to put Max down and she sat on the floor and cried with the rest of us. Her compassion was palpable. She championed his life the same way she gently nurtured his last minutes with me.
Dr. Cleland and all of Great Falls Animal Hospital have also worked tirelessly with Melvin on each of his issues. Mange, giardia, digestive upset, ulcers, skin allergies and infections (lost count on these) as well as his tail amputation. The common statement at the vet is, “with most dogs we see (insert comment) but this is Melvin, we never know with him”. He is not a textbook case but they have always welcomed him (and his issues) with a resounding “MELVIN!” and each of them get down on the floor to greet him when he arrives. Norm from cheers has nothing on the greeting Melvin receives. Most dogs try to escape the vet, Melvin can’t get in the front door fast enough.
They even forgive him when at each visit he charges at and rams into the front office cage where the tiny, rescue kittens are housed. Those poor kittens view Melvin as a T-rex and yet he always issues a ‘what are you looking at’ snarl to them. (Note to Melvin: They are looking at you, you are 400 times bigger than them and you cast a rather dark, ominous shadow on their dwelling). He of course just views them as lunch.
The concept of Wordless Wednesday (sharing photos instead written word) is not my idea. But since I love the thought of it I’m going to steal borrow it (from several other wonderful blogs that I read). Of course, the fact that I’m still typing goes against every rule of being wordless.
I am a bit of a neat freak. I strive for order over chaos. Organization and list making bring me great joy. The more things on the list the better. I like to plan, revisit the plan and yes, often tripple check the plan. I’m constantly in motion, even when sitting still. These things are neither positive or negative, they are just me. (But let’s be honest, all of the above traits are pretty spectacular).
Melvin is the opposite on almost all fronts. Neatness is not in his skill set. He sheds 5,000,000 hairs a day and I have yet to see him notice a single one of them. When he drinks water, it drips from his jowls for ten feet, each time. His preference is for chaos to always rein supreme. He drools, the drool dries black on light fabric and light on dark fabric. I still don’t know how it does that. He runs from window to window to door chasing whatever may or may not be outside and in the process, the area rugs get all jumbled up. The moment just before I try to straighten the rug out, he will lay upon it. He prefers to sleep with his ass in my face and it’s a deep sleep, one that renders him immoveable
Each of our differences just sort of exist in my day, I don’t fight them in any way. His shedding, drooling and butt don’t make me love him any less. I may actually love him more because he laughs in the face of my quest for complete control and world domination.
This is a Kong household. I have one dog and roughly 14 Kong’s (of various shapes and sizes). Luckily, the one treat Melvin can have fits perfectly inside the Kong. He has to work to get it out but not so long that he gives up.
Melvin knows that at the end of the day, if he gathers up all his Kong’s and brings them to the kitchen sink, he’ll get a treat. Yes, he’s brilliant. Trouble in the new house has been that the steps going upstairs are hardwood, there is was no runner. Actually, that is not the actual issue. The reason we needed a runner for six-months and twenty-days is that Melvin, when faced with the opportunity of getting a treat, goes into yippee mode. It doesn’t matter if the treat is a bully stick or if the treat is one pea, his enthusiasm for food knows no discrimination. He would take the bare steps up two-at-a-time, bouncing backwards off of four of them, hitting the halfway-up landing and promptly slamming into the wall. Up six more steps, fall down two. The way up the steps was not even the dangerous part. On the way down, Kong in mouth, I couldn’t really tell you how many steps Melvin intended to take, only that he never really made full contact with any of them. The only constant was him crashing into the landing wall before rebounding for the last six obstacles between him and the treat.
So last week, I saved on future vet bills by having a runner installed.
And here is where I found Melvin last night. I think he just realized that there is a landing.
Recently, I was talking to someone who said they wanted a dog and they immediately launched into reasons that a dog was a lot of work and responsibility. I can appreciate the concern. Most often, the best reason to get a pet doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve gotten one so the commitment fear can easily take center stage.
There are a lot of great reasons not to get a dog. I personally have several for not getting a 2nd dog. But there are a few common “concerns” that always come across as more of an excuse. It’s funny, I hear the same type of list for dogs as I do for kids. I’m not sure why people think they need an excuse for not wanting to take on a living creature (pet or child). Just admit you really don’t want one right now, it’s all good.
Some of my favorite excuses reasons…
Dog’s need walked. Why are people such haters about walking? Your couch will still be there when you get back. Yes, it can be tough to head out on a blustery day, but a walking dog is a reminder to stop and sniff. That life is not all stress and lists and deadlines. Sometimes it’s about fresh air and cadence. Studies show that dog owners live longer, it’s probably all the dreaded walking.
Limiting spontaneity. Sure, with a dog, you can’t jet to Fargo on a moments notice. But think about it, does anyone currently have a bag packed for a trip you may want to suddenly take sometime in the future? My guess is no. You’ll have to dust off the suitcase, measure out your 3-ounces of liquids, and pack. You’ll have to call someone in your life and either invite them or tell them where you are going. You’ll spend some time comparing ticket prices, figuring out if you have points/wondering why you didn’t sign up for points cause Fargo is pretty expensive to fly to, and weighing the odds on a 1-star motel versus a 5-star resort. You’ll call a dog service to walk and feed the dog. Wait, see how easy that task fit in to the grand plan? Dog care is a booming industry so you can jet whenever you’d like. Also, since you’ll be living longer, you’ll have time for more trips.
“I don’t have time”. If you really don’t have time for a dog, definitely don’t get one. But if you are one of those people who also says things like ‘I didn’t have time to text’, then perhaps admitting that you lie about how busy you are would be time better spent.
In all seriousness, the decision to get a pet needs to feel right to you. It’s not for someone else to say that you should do it. It is a lifelong commitment. Just be sure to make room for all the positive asspects on the list while you are counting out all the fears. Fact is, most dog owners I know can barely recall what their concerns were before getting a dog, only what the benefit is now that they have one.
Dog beds cannot be returned. I’m well aware of this rule and it makes perfect sense. Due to my rational irrational fear of flea infestations, the dog bed rule suits me just fine. When I ordered Melvin’s latest bed, the picture for the XL bed had a Great Dane on it and although Melvin is big, he is not that big. The size for a large said up to 96 lbs. Melvin is currently 77 lbs. No advanced math skills required, I ordered the large. As mentioned on Friday, the bed arrived and it is too small for Melvin. Despite this, the bed has turned out to be Melvin’s favorite bed thus far. I have a hard time getting him out of it (perhaps it’s because he has to sleep all curled up and his legs fall asleep). Regardless, I’m glad he likes it because it’s his for the next eight months.
Due to Melvin’s allergies, he gets a new bed every eight months or so. If I’m unable to wash the actual bed, he will usually start to get too itchy in it. Each time I get him a new bed it takes him a week or two to warm up to it. I have to hide treats around it just to lure him over then treat him to get up on it, sit, and eventually lay down. The minute the treats run out he gets up and goes to find his old bed. Slowly I inch the old bed closer to the garage and he eventually sees things my way. Yes, I could just rip the band-aid off and swap the beds out, but Melvin likes to sleep in, and I like to sleep in so due diligence on the bed front makes my life better also. It also helps to keep him out of the big bed. Everyone sleeps soundly.
Today his new bed came from P.L.A.Y. I got it out of the box, laid it down and gathered up the wrapping for trash. Within seconds of me laying it in the foyer (where I unpacked it), Melvin walked up, got on it and laid down upon it (photo below). I thought it might be a fluke but he stayed there even when I took the box out to the trash. Finally, love at first sight!
Of course, this story would have a much happier ending if he wasn’t too damn big for the bed.
It’s been several months since Melvin’s tail was amputated and I can officially say that the change has most definitely been for the better. He’s a happy boy. A really happy boy. Prior to losing it, his tail would hit everything… walls, table legs, door corners, cabinets (opened and closed), mailboxes, cars, tires, trees, fences and people (legs if tall, faces if short). It wasn’t so much about him causing damage to others but once he got ‘happy tail’ I realized how damaging each of those swipes were to him.
His life without a tail has given him so much more room to grove. Our house didn’t magically grow yet he has so much more space in it. And let me tell you, that dog can shake some serious booty. I just pray he doesn’t get ‘happy butt’. His bum we need.
(Just to clarify, for those of you starting at this post, Melvin’s tail was removed due to injury.)
This week, a sweet, gentle dog went to the vet with what was thought to be a urinary tract infection. It turned out to be cancer, spread throughout his whole body and his family had to make the incomprehensible decision to say goodbye. It was a matter of hours from one to the other. It could be counted in blinks of an eye. There were no signs. The void is sudden and raw. It’s just wrong.
Sosa was a ten-year-old, gentle, handsome, happy boy. He was one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He took treats from hand to his mouth ever so carefully, it was almost as if each were a delicate petal that he was to protect. If a baby was around, Sosa would be found close by. I think he related to an infants vulnerability, wanting the child to feel protected and looked over. There was never a worry leaving Sosa with any child, his intentions were tender. He was pure love. His four-legged sister MollieAnne is missing her buddy, her partner in crime. He had three human siblings. The oldest of those siblings, Hadley (5), would come get Sosa in the middle of the night to sleep with her. He made the dark feel safe. Sosa was one of Hadley’s first heroes, a title Sosa wore humbly yet proudly. Hadley will grow to be a devoted animal lover, in part due to their love for one another. Lesson learned, best friends sometimes have four legs. Blake, Sosa’s three-year-old human brother asked “when can we go to heaven to get Sosa back?”. Grief knows no age limit.
Each person who knew him will miss him. I will miss the excitement he’d have for me when I arrived (due mostly to treats I’d bring). I’ll miss the way he sat, it reminded me of a lion (and he had the mane to go along with it). He was royal, a prince of hearts. I’ll miss the way he looked after his family, his glance was always as if to say “it’s ok, I’m here”. I’ll miss his beautiful soulful eyes and his wonderful snuggles.
Sosa’s human parents are the reason I became a dog owner. The love my friend Virginia has for her animals makes me strive every day to be the best mother to Melvin that I can be. She is my inspiration. Sosa was truly loved. He knew that with every fiber of his sweet being. Life is better for having had the honor of him in our days.
Melvin prefers close quarters. If you like personal space, or the ability to get up without having to straddle a dog to do so, I suggest you not get a lab (or most dogs for that matter). I happen to love pulling the occasional muscle to leap over my boy!