Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fantasy Pets

It's been a quiet week.  Other than Tess nearly mowing down a poor defenseless jogger, and Willow eating my tuna lunch one afternoon, the pets have been suspiciously well-behaved.  In her defense, Tess only mowed down a jogger because I was too busy picking up other people's dog poop to pay attention to the nice lady jogging my way.  By the time I noticed that Tess noticed her, it was too late. Tess was off like a shot, the lady covered her ears and nearly dropped to the ground in terror, and I have never run so fast or yelled so loud in my life.

When Tess mows people down, she really just wants love, snuggles, and kisses.  Most people don't mind.  Most people know dogs well enough that they don't feel threatened by her, and she rarely gets away from me anyway.  I thought this lady would pee her pants or cry.  She sort of looked like she was about to do both.  I managed to get a hold of my dog and apologize profusely to the jogger who probably will never set foot on that walking path again.

Probably a good move anyway since the entire length of it has a line of dog poop people have neglected to pick up.

Even I have to admit that the sight of a German shepherd barreling down on someone, tongue and canines hanging out, can be nerve-wracking to say the least for even the most devoted dog lover.

As for Willow, well, she has never gotten into my plate before.  None of my pets eat human food.  I guess when she smelled tuna that day and I left the container alone for a minute, she saw her chance and grabbed it.  Of course I had to throw it all out.  She was licking away and I know where that tongue has been.

Other than that, the gang has been really well behaved and that's when I start thinking about what other creatures I can add to the menagerie to spice things up again.  Not that I would actually.  Four pets are plenty and the last thing I need is another critter to clean up after.

My dream dog has always been a female German shepherd, and that is one dream I have realized and held on to.

I also have my black cat with big green eyes and fangs.

But other animals I've dreamed of owning are:

Papillon - there is something about these little dogs with butterfly ears that just melt my heart.  I've never really wanted a little dog, but I will always make the exception when it comes to Papillons.  I almost spent $1,500 dollars on one in a pet store, just because she was there and for sale.  I did come to my senses.  At one point I filled out an application to rescue one, but all the rescues are several states away and apparently Papillon lovers of the world do not feel like adopting out to Wyoming.

Pit Bull - I actually love these dogs.  They are diesel and look like Mack Trucks, but they are the sweetest-tempered creatures if raised properly.  I've never known a mean one.  My best friend has raised several and his are just big babies.  Like shepherds they just need the right kind of owner and they are awesome dogs.  And if you don't believe me, watch some Dog Whisperer.  I guarantee you'll fall in love with Daddy.  Also I'm a single woman, but if people saw me walking down the street with a German shepherd on one side and a Pit Bull on the another, I doubt anyone would mess with me.

Black Arabian Mare - I am by no means qualified to own a horse, let alone an Arabian.  But I love these horses.  They are high-strung dancers with pretty faces, and I've always thought that if I were a horse, I'd want to be an Arabian.  As for the color, well, I just have a thing for black animals, specifically horses and cats.

Abyssinian - these exotic-looking cats remind me of Egyptian statues and they can be taught to walk on a leash.  I would never buy one - I wouldn't even know where to find a breeder - but I've always wanted one of these cats.

Korat - I saw a pictures of these cats in a cat book when I was a little girl.  Their coats look blue or green in the right light and they have green or gold eyes.  They look almost metallic.  They are very unique and I've never seen one in real life.  The only thing cooler than having a black cat is having a green one.

Chinchilla - the cat not the rodent.  This will never happen as I am allergic to long-haired cats and again, there is no way I can afford one.  Kittens go for $2,000.  These silver-haired, green-eyed dream cats, however, are so beautiful, they remind me of angels.  Incidentally, I have a name picked out for my never-to-come-true dream cat and that is originally "Angel."

African Grey Parrot - and again I'm so original I'd name him Alex and teach him to count.  I also don't need a high maintenance bird who is smarter than me, so I will probably  never realize this dream, either.

Miniature Donkey - only because the Cowboy once threatened to buy me one for my birthday and when I looked them up - and then got to play with a couple at the zoo with my niece - I just fell in love.  Besides, that Arabian mare is going to need a buddy.

I'm interested in other people's dream animals.  What kinds of pets would you have and why if money or time weren't an issue?  Feel free to post in the comments!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Must Love Dogs

Today's post is provided by my good friend, Mary.  I hope you enjoy her contribution!

A little over twelve years ago, my life as I knew it changed. Drastically. My husband and partner of fifteen years, wanted out. As soon as I fully recognized that, I took my dog, Stella, and my cat, Posey, and we moved out. During the course of the divorce, getting settled in a new place and confiding in my parents more than I had in 15 years, my mom said something to me that startled me. She said something to the effect of my love for the animals, my love for the dogs.

While married, I lived on a working cattle ranch, which was a new experience for me (and that is another story); and as soon as I married, I inherited Holly and Jiggs. Holly was a black Lab and Jiggs was a mutt of a Lassie Dog. They were good dogs, had great manners; although not typical “cattle” dogs, they were of great help to Bill. They went to irrigate, fix fence, guard the hay bales as he put them on the sled and fed from it. They also would tag-team when killing a rattle snake. After ranch chores were done, Jiggs was my walking buddy.

As I said, my mom’s words and affirmation of my love for the dogs, surprised me. I had grown up with a “poodle-mutt” named Angie. We had gotten her when I was about five. She was black with curly hair.  My siblings and I wanted to name her “Jackie,” after our Aunt Jackie, who also had black hair. My mom said no, and so with my dad’s influence, we named her “Angie,” after the actress, Angie Dickenson. 

Angie would run the room when my brother would have his racing car track out. She would run to the window and bark at the mailman. She would show humiliation when her hair was cut too short, and hide in the closet for a couple days. She let my sister put ribbons in her “ears” and bundle her in a blanket. We loved Angie. She was a loyal companion to us.

And as we aged, so did Angie. For most of her life, she was our only pet. 

So when I married, I inherited these dogs, and adopted a cat, for mouse control. As I said, Jiggs would be a walking companion, and in the hills of Montana, where one could be scooped up and not heard from again, he was a blessing. When, he was finally old and put down by the vet, I went in search of another dog to be my walking partner.

The first prospect would be a beagle puppy I came across in Cheyenne with two little children named Ben and Amy. The beagle puppy didn’t make it home with any of us, and just as well. They like to run. Weeks later, my mom and dad would bring me a Corgi puppy! She was so small that she literally “jumped” over the blade of grass, and we all giggled. Her name was Abbey, originally after “Westminster Abbey” though I often referred to her as “Abba Dabba Doo.” She taught me what an alpha dog was like, and that she was far smarter than I would ever be.

A sorrowful accident with Abbey sent me to contacting Corgi breeders and I found Stella!...online. With the encouragement of a friend, I had her flown from Oklahoma to Denver. There she arrived in a little cardboard dog carrier, and everyone treated us like she was a new-born child. She was a bit of a mess, and as delightful as could be. She was petite, and wiggled her bottom like a belly-dancer. She was sweet, easy, fun, and obtained adoration wherever she went. Ten years and they were the best. Her passing, though traumatic, was still a blessing – I got to be with her. 

A month later, Ruby (another Corgi) would come into my life. She was looking for her “fur-ever” home, and I fell in love. She is similar though different from Stella. Fourteen months later, ten-year-old Roscoe, a dachshund mix, would need a new home. Together, these two dogs have filled my life with laughter, quirky humor and new lessons learned. They’ve taught me to be a “mom” again, with daily walks. Roscoe tells on his sister when she takes all the bones. I know they aren’t people, though they aren’t replaceable. 

I guess, I must love dogs.

Guest Blog:
by Mary McDougall, “Tail of Two Corgis.”
February 14, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Precise Moment When You Realize You Are All Out of F*cks to Give

I just love animals.  That, of course, is obvious, and the reasons are infinite.  Sure, they are cute and fluffy, they have big eyeballs and even bigger ears and whiskers all in the right places.  They love you unconditionally and do silly things like chase their tails and poop in the litter box as soon as you clean it.  

There is their compassion, their ability to show empathy even when they are being mistreated, and their capacity to love.  Animals have much bigger hearts than humans do.  

And one thing I realized today, they just don't give a fuck about anything that is not worth giving a fuck about.  

In the last few weeks I have worked hard to adopt a philosophy of not caring about stuff that doesn't matter and only drains the energy from me.  This includes people who have treated me badly, ex-boyfriends, strangers that give me the finger for going at a stop sign when it's my turn, bad tempers at work, bad attitudes at Walmart, the police officer who pulled me over for having my sticker in the wrong corner of my license plate (boy, if anyone ever needed to adopt the magical thinking of not giving a fuck about worthless shit, it's him), and people who get mad at me for saying that Luke Skywalker is my favorite Star Wars character.  Up high on my list of things not worth caring about is the Super Bowl.  I realize that is blasphemy, especially for people around here.  The Broncos played. It's practically a religion to root for the Broncos.

Apparently they won.

I couldn't care less.

I totally own that and for anyone who wants to judge me for it, I don't really give a rat's ass about that either.  Judge me all you want.  I enjoyed my afternoon walk with my dog Sunday just the same and the Super Bowl did not even manage a blip on my radar.  In fact, I rather like Super Bowl Sunday because it keeps the fanatics indoors, glued to the television, while I once again have the streets to myself to let Tess run loose.

If I could tack the kind of apathy I feel for the Super Bowl to other things that have drained my energy over the past year I would be in business.  I've managed to move in the right direction.  I've definitely let go of a lot of crap that just doesn't need to be taking up any more mental space.  Little by little it is changing my life.  I feel better.  I'm happier.  I do Pilates.  But I still have a long way to go.

It turns out my dog is inspiration for such thinking.  Watching Tess, I realized just how much she does not give a fuck about anything that doesn't matter.  Pee on a rock?  Give a fuck!  The assface that broke my heart and dropped me for a woman whose laugh resembles the yelping of a hyena?  No fucks given at all! Sniff a tree trunk?  Totally give a fuck!  I got rejected from those jobs I interviewed for?  Who gives a fuck?  To Tess, it's a nonissue.  She only cares what rock to pee on, what bush to sniff, whether her food bowl is full, and are we currently, at this moment, on a walk because that is like the best thing in the world and her excitement level each and every time never ceases to amaze me.  Who cares about Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani when Tess gets to poop in the snow?

And of course she gives a fuck about me.  Just as I care about her.  Truth be told, I care more about my dog than most people.  If someone wants to be a jerk and act like a dildo, I will happily go and spend the day with my dog.  She's much better company.

On Friday I played with seven German shepherd puppies at the library.  The lady who certifies service dogs raises shepherds and one of her dogs just had a litter.  Dogs are born with this ability to just not care.  They were seven Mini Me's of Tess.  They behaved just like her only on a smaller scale.  Seven puppies scampered around playing with the children that came for the program, chewed on the puppy toys littering the floor, and one even wandered onto the carpet of the room and relieved himself right then and there.  If a child held a puppy too long on his or her lap, the puppy squirmed and wiggled his way off the lap and pounced after a toy, completely oblivious about anything else.  Calling to them was waste of time.  If they didn't want to come because they were too busy playing with a toy, you might as well have been in Siberia for all they cared.  One puppy latched onto my sweater and started a game of tug of war.  Three more puppies saw this and thought "Hey, what a great idea!" and joined in.  Luckily I managed to disengage all of them before they ruined my sweater, but had they managed to tear it, they wouldn't have cared.  They just don't know any better. And what's more, they don't care.

Cats are the be all end all when it comes to not giving a fuck.  To them, if they have to give a fuck about anything, they immediately stop being cats and become something needy and pathetic which cats just do not aspire to be.  What's more cats are capable of not giving a fuck, being rude about it, and still not coming across as assholes.  For more on not giving a fuck while not being an asshole about it see The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight.  As for cats, even if they did come across as assholes, they still wouldn't care.  Puckett is rather the queen of this, though Percy and Willow are getting quite good at it too.  This is why Percy takes a smelly, nasty dump in his litter box right in the middle of me eating my lunch.  This is why Puckett will terrorize and herd the dog around the kitchen, even after she has been reprimanded multiple times for doing so.  This is why Willow pees on the floor when she can't be bothered to use the litter box. They just don't give a damn.  If it seems like a good idea at the time, they will do it.  Reprimands be damned.  And when reprimanded the looks they shoot me let me know just how little they care about my opinion on just about anything.  They are going to do whatever they want and I'd better recognize.

Unless they want food, a scratch, or a clean litter box.  Then you better believe they care.

Here's a list of things not to give a fuck about as demonstrated by our animal friends:
  • The Kardashians
  • Donald Trump (and his toupee...and his big mouth)
  • Celebrity breakups
  • Reality TV in general
  • People with negative attitudes
  • Ex-boyfriends
  • Rude motorists
  • Who unfriended you on Facebook
  • The people YOU unfriend on Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Internet trolls (and their bottomless well of nasty comments)
  • That party you weren't invited to
  • The gossip about you behind your back
  • The gossip about you to your face
  • People's opinions about you in general (you can't change them anyway, so who the hell cares what they think?)

Here's a list of things you should most certainly give a fuck about
  • Your pets (and animals in general)
  • Family (this includes children if you have them, your ailing elderly grandparents, and your spinster Aunt Ida - though certain behaviors, opinions, and actions I give you leave to not give a fuck about.  Just be polite about it.)
  • Good, true, loyal friends
  • Your job (though certain aspects you might not care about)
  • Food (especially chocolate)
  • Sleep
  • Exercise 
Everything else is up to you to categorize as you see fit.  Things I give a fuck about may not be the same things you give a fuck about (the Super Bowl for instance and whether Luke Skywalker really is hotter than Han Solo).  But then again, who cares what I think?  And just so we are clear, Tess doesn't care either.  Neither do Puckett, Percy and Willow, and your pets, should you have any.

Let's all take a page from Tess' book and stop caring about useless things that we can't change.  All it does is clutter the mind and suck precious energy from the things we do enjoy.  Tess is always so happy on her walks because she truly enjoys that and she's not sitting around mooning over the fact that some doofus might not like her.  This is a much more appealing way to spend time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Slow pet week, so here's a short story about Tess that I submitted for a short story contest.

“So do you want her?”

The shelter employee regarded me with an expectant expression and I glanced down at the sable bundle of uncontrollable energy bounding around the “Visitor's Room” at the Casper Humane Society.

“I just have a question about why she was surrendered,” I said. “Why did her previous owners give her up? I don't want a dog who is aggressive or vicious.”

“It was nothing like that. Let me check her surrender papers,” the employee said.

He handed me the leash and Lacy the German shepherd launched herself at me, wrapping her front paws around my waist before pushing off and attempting to dart around the room again. She circled the room several times, her nose in everything.

“Lacy, sit!” the employee commanded.

The dog ignored him completely.

The employee left the room and returned a few moments later with the dog's surrender papers. Under “Reason for Surrender” it said, “Digs holes in the yard.”

That was it?

“Why didn't the other people want her?” I asked the shelter employee. “The ones in line to adopt her before me?”

“We told them they could pick her up Wednesday after her surgery,” he said. “They asked what the surgery was for, and when they found out she was scheduled to be spayed, they changed their minds.”

That wasn't so bad.

“Oh, that's no problem for me,” I said. “In fact, please spay her before I take her.”

“So you want her?”

The shelter employee wore a mixture of hope and wariness on his face, sort of like the expression teenage boys wear when they ask a girl out, fully expecting to be shot down.

“I'll take her,” I said.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The employee obviously hoped I'd take her, but was afraid I'd change my mind when I realized my new dog behaved like a Tazmanian devil.

I had just bought my house and broken up with my long-term boyfriend all in the same month when I decided it was time to get a dog. I was in no rush. In fact I didn't have any intention of actually adding a dog to my household for at least a couple more months. I had a trip to Denver planned in a week and I figured it would take awhile to find the perfect dog. I always wanted a purebred female German shepherd. Since I also wanted a rescue, I thought if I started looking early, I'd find exactly what I was looking for eventually.

Female German shepherd rescues aren't just walking the streets to be picked up by new owners.

My second day of cruising Petfinder.com brought me to Tess – or Lacy, according to her profile on the website. She was a one-year-old female German shepherd, purebred with papers. It was earlier than I wanted to actually adopt a dog, but since she was two hours away in Casper, I thought I could at least call and ask about her. She sounded like my dream dog, after all. Timing isn't always on the side of fate. When I called, the receptionist at the Casper Humane Society told me that she was already spoken for. She was scheduled to be spayed later that week and after that she would go to her new home.

“You're the second person to call about her,” the receptionist said. “I can put your name on the list in case they change their minds.”

“Sure, why not?” I said.

“But,” the receptionist said. “They aren't going to change their minds. They are definitely going to take her.”

“Okay,” I said. “That's no problem. I just wanted to call and see about her.”

“Do you still want us to call you in case the adoption falls through?”

“Yeah, sure. Give me a call if something changes.”

“Okay, we have your name on the list. But nothing will change.”

“Thank you.”

The very next day I had a voicemail from the receptionist at the shelter, informing me that the adoption had fallen through and if I was still interested in “Lacy” I should call them and come down to see her. I decided to drive down there that Saturday to see the dog even though I still had a trip to Denver planned a week later.

I filled out the adoption papers and the shelter receptionist told me to come back the following week to get her. They did sort of act like they couldn't get rid of her fast enough.  While this made me a little nervous, I chose to ignore it.

The first thing I did when I got the dog home was change her name. Lacy was the name on her papers, but she was such a rough and tumble dog, so full of spit and vinegar and bravado, that the name just didn't fit her. I changed her name to the Contessa because her ego rivaled the size of Wyoming. I've never seen a female dog that was so alpha. Not only was she a constant blur of movement, her personality was completely unchecked. The shelter employees acted almost as though she was some kind of holy terror they wanted to unload on the first unsuspecting person. I saw a dog that had been purchased as a puppy and left to basically raise herself with no discipline and no boundaries, probably confined to the yard. No wonder the shelter employees kept giving me that look like they were afraid I'd change my mind about her too.

Digging was never something I had to deal with, but Tess was not an easy dog. It was probably the only bad habit besides barking that she did not have. She was fearless and bossy, not mistreated or neglected, but just full of herself. I walked her for three hours every day the first four months I had her and I probably vented to my mother every day about the impossibility of Tess' issues.

She never stopped moving. She never stopped frustrating me.  She was completely alpha, and lifted her leg on trees and clumps of grass like a male dog.

She was smart. German shepherds are mind readers. They can anticipate their owners' every move and all of Tess' misbehavior culminated in a complete lack of exercise and discipline. She challenged me at every turn and once she tried to mount me. I squatted down on the floor to pick something up and she clambered on to my back and tried to put my whole head in her mouth. That resulted in a fight of epic proportions. There we were, a 105 pound 5'4” woman wrestling a 65 pound dog of solid muscle to the ground until I could sit on her head and she was too exhausted to fight anymore.

Another fight happened during a walk. She decided she didn't want to follow where I was going and rebelled against her correction. For several seconds she was up on her hind legs, her paws wrapped around my shoulders and my hands on either side of her muzzle while she mouthed my forearms.
Once again, I won. Once again Tess ended up on the ground with me sitting on her. I'm sure we looked ridiculous to outside observers.

A third fight resulted from her trying to mount me in my front yard after a walk. We wrestled for at least fifteen minutes. She wouldn't submit. I wouldn't give up. I held her down while she fought, paws flailing, my forearm in her mouth. Every time I got her down on the ground she would lay still for a second and then begin struggling again. She rolled on her back and kicked all four legs at my face and chest, resembling an overturned turtle. I finally managed to get her on her side and the air filled with her panting and my heavy breathing, both of us spent and exhausted, both of us stubborn and determined to come out as top dog.

Our relationship turned a corner then. Our walks no longer turned into fights. Tess no longer challenged me or tried to climb on my back.

I was never prouder of her than the day I took her to the dog park. That day Tess ran with the other dogs, playing with some, avoiding others, and one in particular kept annoying her, following her around and trying to mount her in dominance. Tess is alpha and dominant herself, but instead of picking a fight she snarled and snapped at the dog if he got too close. She never made contact or drew blood. True to dog behavior she disciplined the bad-mannered pug with unfailing patience and no sign of aggression, just like I had to do with her when I first got her. She was calm-assertive, a true pack leader, asserting her dominance in a healthy way and encouraging all the other dogs to follow her.

Now when I work on my writing she stretches out under the table at my feet, completely relaxed, no longer a whirlwind of constant movement.

She does still however lift her leg on every tree or rock, announcing to the rest of the world that she is alpha over everything but me.

That's my good girl.