What a Difference a Day Makes.

Yesterday the pups and I drove in through this gate at the animal shelter. Today we all drove right back out!

To all of you ladies out there who are pretty criers…good for you.  Really. It’s an art. And I am not in your sorority.

I don’t cry often and when I do, I don’t cry for long. There’s a good reason. It’s NOT pretty. Instead of big tears welling in my eyes and rolling perfectly down my porcelain cheeks, everything seems to come right out of my nose. Runny does not describe it adequately. And I get red. And blotchy. And my eyes get comically puffy.

Today I cried for the second day in a row. What. The. Heck? I do not cry. But apparently I do.

Yesterday I cried in frustration. I found three young German shepherd mix puppies dumped on a country road. This is not a surprise in my world, I find homeless dogs all the time. But three? At once? After already taking in four young dogs recently?  Yeah, I had a meltdown.

But there was no leaving them behind. I have always had a special relationship with animals—dogs in particular. This trio needed help. They were tired, hungry, thin, and infested with ticks. INFESTED. The stuff nightmares are made of.

Not for the squeamish...

Not for the squeamish. The ticks you see in his ear…and look closely, his flap is solid ticks…are just a small fraction of the total infestation.

So I picked them up and, as I related yesterday, my only option was to take them to a small shelter that was nearby. Have I mentioned that I have never had to take an animal to a shelter? Yeah. Never. It was a hard choice, and I hated to burden an already packed little shelter, but I had no other option.

As I left the dogs with a promise that I would be back for them, the ugly cry that was welling up from my heart barely allowed me time to get to the parking lot where I could carry on in the privacy of the Jeep. Though it was far better for the dogs to be safe in the shelter with food and water available, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had somehow let them down. At the same time I truly had no idea how I was going to keep my promise to return for them.

Today I had a good cry once again. But this time it was a happy cry. Apparently I do that now too. Geeze.

After posting about my foundlings through this blog and on Facebook, I immediately started receiving offers of help, suggestions for places for the dogs to go, and even people who wanted to organize a fundraiser to support the dogs. The one moment that really started the nasal waterworks for me was when an amazing friend not only suggested a solution, but made all of the arrangements.

She called her veterinarian, told him about the dogs, offered to support them (though she won’t be alone in that burden!), and sent me a plan. Holy cow! All I had to do was play chauffeur. Dang it, my nose is running just writing about it. What an amazing thing she did.

With a plan in place, I was able to meet a volunteer at the shelter, reclaim my scruffy little friends, and drive them to a beautiful veterinary hospital where they would be relieved of the hundreds of ticks that were torturing them and where they can receive any medical attention they need.

Yesterday was nothing but a question mark. Today, three sweet pups have a comfortable, clean place to rest and, most importantly, they have hope. They also have a guardian angel named Bette. Bette is 100% awesome and I am grateful to her beyond words.

So now I’m heading out to coat the inside of my Jeep with flea and tick spray. Oh how I wish it came in ‘new car’ scent.

I’m also suffering from a bad case of the creepy crawlies because I had to carry each of the dogs out of the shelter and then into the vet hospital. Ick. Not to mention riding with them in the car. With hundreds and hundreds of ticks. Ick squared.

So far the tick count on Nancy stands at three…but it might as well be 50. However, the heebie-jeebies are a small price to pay in exchange for the knowledge that the three dogs are safe tonight. And hey, I should feel much better after about five or six or 20 showers.

The dogs will recover. I will recover. Hopefully this crying stuff is a temporary affliction. My faith in the human species is greatly restored. I know an angel named Bette. I know an army of angels who have offered help, potential foster and adoptive homes.

Way to put the ‘human’ back in ‘humane,’ friends. To whoever neglected and dumped these dogs, you better hope my angel army never tracks you down. You’ll be the one crying if they do.

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Haiku for a Stray Puppy

Hans

The puppy I have named Hansel. So tired he just plopped down in the road to rest.

Is this what life is?
Alone, hungry and afraid?
No dear boy. Trust me.

I’m at my wit’s end. I rescue a lot of dogs. I have been involved in rescuing animals for years…actually decades (why yes, I could be that old OR I might have started rescuing dogs when I was five. Think carefully before you pick one…). This spring has been one for the record books. It seems that every time I drive anywhere I find a puppy that has been abandoned; left to fend for itself.

The mindset that allows someone to just push an innocent dog out of a car and then speed off is beyond my understanding. It’s the “he’ll find a good home in the country” mentality and I’m tired of it. I look at my own dogs–the ‘on purpose’ members of the household–and see happy, healthy, loving creatures that have never known a bad day in their lives. They live in a good world–as they should. Then there are my foster dogs who so very quickly learn to appreciate regular meals, soft beds, and kind attention. They are thriving.

Then I come across this little guy. He and two other pups…one likely his litter sister and the other a 10 month girl (I suspect their sibling from a previous litter)…have likely never known a good day in their young lives. By appearances, about all they have known is neglect, hunger, fear, and, as you can see here, exhaustion. They appear to have been on their own for awhile.

Trio

I’ve named them Hansel (lying down), Gretel (small black girl), and Cinder (bigger shepherd mix). You can see the ticks on Cinder’s face. I can’t wait for them to be clean and comfortable.

Yet all three dogs greeted me with wagging tails and soft eyes, licking their lips and holding their heads low in dog speak that says,”I’m just a little puppy, I mean you no harm. Please be kind.” That these pups could still have faith in the human race is testimony to their lovely temperaments.

And so the internal argument began.

Emotional Nancy stood in the road transfixed by the trust and anticipation shining in the eyes of these pups despite their scrawny, tick-infested condition. On the other side of the debate, Logical Nancy insisted that there was no place for these dogs to go.

You see normally, after a visit to our favorite veterinary hospital for a check-up and shots, I bring my foundlings home with me. I’m lucky that I live in the country where I can legally foster a number of dogs. However, this time, there is simply no more room at the inn. The giant dog house that Jim and I call home is already overflowing with foster dogs awaiting their chance to find permanent homes.

But leave some food and water and just drive away? No. Even Logical Nancy couldn’t do that. I would not be yet another human willing to fail to take responsibility for these dogs. So trying not to think about the hundreds of ticks on each little body, I lifted them into my nice, somewhat new Jeep (we killed the new car smell within days of purchase) and said a HUGE “now what?”

In my world, panic is the mother of invention. For now the trio is together, temporarily safe in a small animal shelter where a very kind employee (who said the shelter was actually closed, but come on in anyway) didn’t bat an eye at my dilemma.  I have never in my life had to take an animal to a shelter, but this time I had to wave the white flag, crying streams of tears as I drove away.

They didn’t understand my words, but I vowed to those puppies, scared in their new surroundings, that it was just for the weekend until I can come up with Plan B. There must be a Plan B.

Oh the hope in those eyes. I’m trying kids. I’m trying.

Note: If anyone in the Tulsa, OK area is interested in fostering or adopting one of these sweet dogs, please respond here. They deserve to know so much better.

That’s It. I’m Moving to Mexico.

multi

Yes. I really do this. No kidding.

I was chatting with a Facebook friend yesterday and by chatting I mean I was tapping out quick messages on my phone. I was also getting my daily dose of Fitbit inspired/obsessed exercise on the treadmill (Must get 14,000 steps. Must.)

Oh, and I was also watching a new episode of Orange is the New Black because…well…it’s the only time I can find to watch it. PLUS, it is my incentive to stay on the damn walk-to-nowhere machine for an hour. By the way, I always have blissfully mismatched exercise outfits because the shirt that goes with the shorts is always in the dirty clothes basket. Clash is the New Black in my world. Voila. I’m stylish.

Oh, and I also had my ever-present pad of paper in the little holder place on the treadmill so I could jot down “stuff.” You know…stuff that the stream of consciousness that is my brain comes up with here and there, willy-nilly. Grocery list. To-do list. Blog idea list. Stuff I need to buy for an upcoming vacation list. You know, the how-many-lists-can-you-fit-on-one-page list.

If this level of multitasking isn’t a recipe for potential disaster I’m not sure what is, but I manage to pull it off. There are tons of advertisements admonishing us for texting while driving. I do follow that rule. Texting at red lights doesn’t count. It doesn’t. Unless you sit there through the next green light and then you’re a whole new class of traffic hazard. There are no rules about texting while treadmilling. Yet. 

But I digress…and I do that a lot. Staying focused on just one task is hard. I will say it’s nearly impossible for me. Thankfully there were no labels for the bounce-from-task-to-task affliction when I was a kid. If I were a modern day whippersnapper, I just might be (likely would be) smacked with an attention deficit disorder label.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mean to trivialize or make light of a disorder that many people and kids struggle with on a daily basis. I’m just saying that I’m pretty pleased as punch that these labels weren’t prevalent when I was a kid. I grew up in the era where they called me a master of multitasking. It was a good thing. It was something I listed on my fledgling resume along with meaningful stuff like “I’m a people person.”

Of course no one ever asked if I actually completed all of the multiple tasks I tackled at any given moment. The answer would have been no. I was (am) the queen of starting numerous fantastic projects and bouncing betwixt them in a frantic frenzy of good intention. Oh the fine line between multi-tasking and lack of focus. What a tangled web. Oh hey…Zentangles…I have friends doing those and they look like great fun…I’m going to start one…possibly while on the treadmill.

Huh…there is an infomercial for the Shark Rocket vacuum on television. That thing is amazing. Maybe I’ll order one. They showed it sucking up candy, pennies, cookies…

Oh. Cookies. That sounds good. But wait, it’s Toby’s birthday. I need a cake mix.

And milk. We’re out of milk.

Oh yeah! I want to remember to take my camera with me when I go to the store because I want to get a photo of that cute cow in the pasture up the road.

AURGH. There I go again.

Um. Now where was I?

Oh yeah. That multi-tasking gift/disorder. Sigh.

What it boils down to is that there are so many things I need to do (to fulfill my role as a productive, functioning adult), and so many things that I want to do (to fulfill my role as a fun-loving, creative, want-to-experience-everything-I-can human) that they all often collide in a frantic scramble of frustrated activity.

I know. I need to focus on one thing at a time, get it done, check it off the list, then move to the next thing. I need to manage my time. I need to break the big projects down into manageable steps, I need to…I need to…

Scoop dog poop, fill the bird feeders, spray the hay field to knock back the dang thistle that popped up, do laundry, finish tiling the bathroom shower, clean my car, change the sheets, work on the puppy training book I am determined to write, go to the store, think about making something/anything for dinner, make sure the foster puppy poops outside…where I need to scoop dog poop…EEEEEK!

And THIS is why people move to Mexico. It’s true. I watch House Hunters International religiously (DVRed episodes…while I’m getting ready in the mornings…I have my routine timed perfectly so that I’m drying my hair during commercials), and apparently there is some magic about moving to Central or South America to live near the beach that allows you to stop doing pretty much everything. Seriously.

Episode after episode will showcase a harried couple who just needs to slow down and many find the road to bliss leads south. Somehow, you move to the land of the Latin Americans and money must just grow on trees because everyone featured on the show magically gets to spend more time with their loved one(s), strolling on the beach, sitting on patios enjoying fruit that fell off of a nearby tree and rolled to rest at their feet. I’m sure it has NOTHING to do with it being a well-edited television show.

All of the HHI featured families that move south of the border do so to slow down. To focus on the things they want to do. They generally say something about working for a few hours at their laptop…by the pool…and then they’re off for the day, living the good life. None of them appear to be trillionaires. They all have budgets that make the real estate agents sigh and talk about compromise. Yet they all somehow end up blissfully happy, barefoot on the beach, strolling hand-in-hand with their dog frolicking in the waves.

That’s it. I may be moving to live on the beach in Mexico or perhaps South America. It all sounds so good. Judging from the multitude of property searches I’ve watched, it may be tricky to check all of the boxes on my wish list (room for a dozen or more dogs, six horses, a mule, six donkeys, two hogs, one less-than-bright sheep and all with an amazing view of the ocean—God save my poor realtor), but I’m optimistic.

Look. I’m relaxing already.

Now let’s see. I’ll need to brush up on my Spanish. I’ll need to clean out the attic and all of the closets; we can’t possibly take all of this stuff with us. I’ll need to get in bathing suit shape since I will wear one every single day, so that means treadmill time. Oh good, I can watch another episode of Orange is the New Black!

Of course I can’t move tomorrow, so I’d better scoop the yard…and the birds are out there glaring at me. Better get them fed. Wow, the dogs are shedding. I’ll need to vacuum. Wish I had that Shark I just saw on television.

And if we’re moving, we’ll need to sell this place, so I need to really get on that tiling project. Oh, I’ll need to doll up the old curb appeal. This is all going to make me very hungry and thirsty. Where is that grocery list? Oh yeah…on the treadmill. I need to get on the treadmill.

Now where was I?

Ayuadame! (Oh good! I do remember some Spanish!)

A Lack of Planning on Their Part…

1304759198858932What we have here is a total lack of planning. Well, I guess they think they planned, but there is a HUGE flaw in their plan and now I’m scrambling to fix things.

The “they” in question here is a couple of barn swallow love birds. The young, starry-eyed couple fell deeply in love this spring (ok, I might be waxing poetic here) and decided to start a family. Barn swallows build nests very quickly. This one went up under the cover of my porch before I could blink. Shelter from the wind and rain. A sturdy foundation. Shade from the hot summer sun. Bird nursery paradise right?

Wrong.

20140703_195523 (2)

See the birdie? Brooke does.

This is my porch. My porch in my backyard. The yard that is my dog yard. Where lots of dogs run every single day. LOTS of carnivorous dogs.

Are we beginning to see the problem here? Yes, a lack of planning on their part does indeed constitute a bit of an emergency on my part.

I’ve scolded these birds. “What were you thinking?” I demand. “Just where do you think your little fledgling kids are going to land when they take that all important first hop out of the nest?”

IMG_1402 (2)We all know that baby birds NEVER wait until all systems are go to leave the damn nest. They always get cocky and leap before the net (and by net I mean wing and tail feathers) is actually in place. Then they spend a couple of crazy days hopping and flapping around on the ground while their frantic parents do their best to care for them.

It’s bad enough under normal circumstances, but in my dog yard? Well, I can promise you that my dogs are not staring at the tiny fledglings peering from the nest because they want to hug them, and pet them, and squeeze them and call them George.

IMG_1454 (2)

Open this gate. Dammit.

Nope. They want to eat them. Despite all of the wonderful food and treats I dole out daily, they have their sights set on some tiny birdie snacks.

So, I could just turn my head and let nature take its course. It’s the prey/predator story that is as old as time.

Yeah. No. Not going to happen on my watch. (You already knew that, didn’t you?) I’m the woman who held up construction on my house to allow Huey, Dewey, and Louie time to mature and leave the nest. Yes. I really did.

That love-struck barn swallow couple built their mud and grass apartment in the rafters of my new home as it was being framed. I guarded those little guys and warned all of the contractors and workers to be cautious around the little family. I believe many eyes may have rolled behind my back…a few right in front of me…and I just didn’t care.

Then the day came when framing was done, walls were going up, and doors and windows were being placed. WAIT! H,D&L were still in residence! The back door and back window had to remain open. Period.

No, we would not carefully move the next outside. No we could not make them a new fancy nest on the back step. No. No, we would wait.

Yes wait. For three days, I believe. Construction folks LOVE it when the crazy client lady brings everything to a screeching halt so baby birds have time to find their wings. It goes over really well.

Thankfully Jim (that cool, equally dog-crazy guy that lives here too) was the builder on our new home and he gets me. Most of the time. He may have rolled his eyes, but we did wait for the birds to find their way outside. The house did get finished. Three days late. What’s three little days?

IMG_1452 (2)Back to our new state of emergency. Of all of our dogs, our young Dalmatian Brooke is the most avid “bird watcher.” The prey drive gene, strong in this one, it is (Yep…use your Yoda voice there). She is fixated on that darn nest. She stands and stares at it. She leaps up the wall to try to reach it. She bounds after the adult birds as they soar from the cover of the porch.

She is determined. I am determined. The barn swallow parents are also determined.

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Come back here you little #%&*@!

As their family matures, these two little aircrobats (don’t look it up…I made that up…it’s a valid and good word) are going on the offensive. They are darting and diving directly at Brooke every moment that she is outside. They are two, tiny, dark stunt pilots sailing just inches from her snout, risking everything to draw the spotted beast away from the nest that offers such a fragile and temporary barrier between their three babies and the dry land version of Jaws.

And that’s what families should do. They take care of each other; they put everything on the line for each other. I experienced this level of love as I grew up under the watchful eyes of my parents. I see this instinct in the way my sisters cared for their children; and now in the way my nieces race after their babies, guiding them, teaching them, keeping them safe from harm.

My sister Terry and I have been there at the other end of the life spectrum with my parents, with my sister. We were ferocious in our mission to care for those we held dear.

There just are times, regardless of who you are…or what you are, when that mother bear instinct wells up from your heart to give you strength you had no idea you had. Strength that makes a tiny slip of a bird believe it can conquer a mighty Dalmatian.

Well, if these two little birds were going to fight so heroically for their babies’ survival, I was going to be right there with them.

20140706_104843 (2)So far my good intentions have manifested in the form of a box nailed to the wall beneath the nest. At least now if the babies take a premature first leap, they will just fall into the well-padded cardboard nest. That will buy me “what next” time and will allow the parents to still care for the babies in the lower level of their new condo.

I have to believe we have also increased the property value of their home, should they decide to sell. Of course all of the upgrades in the world won’t change the fact that these birds have the nicest nest in a spotty neighborhood (I need a drum effect here…insert rim shot). Dang it birds, ask ANY real estate agent. Location, location, location!

My partners in parenting were not initially impressed with my handiwork, but they did accept my attempt at home improvement. I’d like to think that they understand the purpose of the box and applaud my efforts. Or it’s possible they just see it as another place to poop. Probably the latter. Oh, but my intentions are so good.

If all three little fledglings will cooperate by jumping into my box, I will carefully relocate them just outside the fence of the lion’s den…I mean dog yard. There they can reunite with their doting parents, learn to spread their wings against the lift of the wind, and soar far, far, far away from this porch.

Far.

Please.

Soar FAR.

IMG_1451 (2)

Wait for it…wait…

New development…after seeing three growing fledglings still crammed into a too-small next last evening, this morning I ventured out to find an empty nest, and an empty box. I don’t see feathers on the ground. I don’t see smug dogs picking their teeth. I’m going to believe that my…ummmm…the babies made it. I’m going to watch the sky for more beautiful aircrobats.