Monday, December 22, 2014

Sweetness and Light

Over the years, I've had foster dogs who were with us for 3 days and foster dogs who were with us for 6 months and foster dogs who never left. Keller is the first foster dog who I knew would be with us for a just a short time, before going back to the shelter.

And of course, she's the one I can't imagine letting go of. 

She is tiny, velvety, all white, and incredibly cuddly. 

She always wants to be close to us, and she sleeps stretched out between our heads. 

They're all cuddly of course, but I don't think many are this cuddly.

She can be an energetic wacky puppy pain in the butt,

but there is an innocence and gentleness about her that make her just irresistible.

She loves other dogs, and gives Dahlia as good as she gets with the wacky wrestling and running and romping,

but she is never testy or grumpy and you can trust her completely to play nicely and have a good attitude.
How am I going to bring this thing back to the shelter? I'd rather just scoop her up and not let go.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Only Thing Better than One Deaf White Pocket Pittie

Is two!

As you know, Dahlia is a bit of a handful but also incredibly sweet and wonderful in her own ways. 

I certainly wasn't planning on getting an additional foster dog, not right before the holidays and before we take off on our post-Christmas vacation. 

But when I got the email about Keller, a petite deaf pit bull who was ready to be transferred to a shelter from whence she would be adopted quickly, but needed to be in a foster home for 10 days first to make sure she has a clean bill of health--what exactly was I supposed to do? 

Ignore it? 

Not really an option.

The moment I got her home, she and Dahlia started playing. 

The funny thing is, their play is largely silent. Unlike when Dahlia and Fozzie play, when it sounds like a Tasmanian Devil and a Tom cat are ripping each other limb from limb. 

It's not like they're two little angels. They're smashing into things, getting right under your feet or in your lap or on your laptop as they're playing, and they have to be separated sometimes because they get too intense. 

But they're just much less vocal about it than you'd expect, especially with as much as Dahlia vocalizes when she's playing with Fozzie. 


Wonder what's going on there? Is there some sort of communication that goes on between two deaf dogs, that is a mystery to those of us who can hear? 

Or is it just that Fozzie, because of his exuberant play style that is loud in ways that go beyond just decibels, brings out the loudness in Dahlia?

Nifty to watch. These dogs sure are good teachers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

'Tis the season to retreat indoors for some idiotic family activities and some really good food. 

By "idiotic" I mean dressing up in my sister's pimp coat. 

That was one highlight of Halloween. 

The other was trick or treating at Uncle Johnny's new senior apartment building, where I'd just moved him in after driving down from New York the day before. Yep, Uncle Johnny's here full time now, can you believe it? 

There's quite a few people who are pleased about that turn of events.

Having Johnny around ensures that every holiday will be special. 

This Thanksgiving, we also had the pleasure of my aunt's company as we enjoyed a nontraditional repast.

Mom, whose absence is of course felt all the more acutely on the holidays, used to make amazing appetizers. My task was to replicate Mom's nutty "meat" balls, vegetarian amalgamations of pecans and water chestnuts. I made a vegan version that was a tad lacking in cohesion--but tasty!

And easy to digest as long as you have a specially-designed stomach warmer

Right around Thanksgiving came Dad's birthday, 

and then Mom's birthday. 

We visited her and brought her some champage. 

What a comfort those dogs are. 

How can you be blue for long when you've got a little bald snorting thing humping your leg?

You can't. All you can do is go with it. Cuddle up under the Christmas tree
Enjoy the moment, honor those who have passed and be thankful for what we still have. 

And while you're at it, make out a little. Mom would approve. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Changing Face of my Dog Obsession

Funny how my tastes in dogs have evolved over the years.

When I lived in New Mexico, most of the dogs in the shelters were brown dogs, often with black masks. 

They were the reservation dogs, the scrappy desert dogs, the shepherd mixes and Dingo/chow/heeler mixes that were everywhere. 

Something about that black mask just did something to my heart, and I ended up with two of them. 

Then I moved places where other dogs were ubiquitous. In Portland, in New York, and of course in the DC area it's the pits and pit mixes that fill the shelters. 

I still love the fuzzy desert dingo brown dogs, but it's the pit mixes that really make me lose my composure. So much that I've fostered five of them and now have two of them.
 Two that I can't keep my hands off of.

I just love their short fur, their velvety smoothness, their hot breath, their warm flapping tongues.

To see one is to have to make out with it, squish its face, massage its paws. 

Of course I love mine even more than just any pittie I come across. Fozzie, with his enormous body and his stiff paws, his horrifying breath and the way he just likes to lean into you with a big sigh.

And then that little bald pink thing 

So velvety and idiotic and snorty, so compact and kissable and muscular with paws that smell so strongly of Fritos that the entire dog emits that warm, delicious fragrance
Drives me crazy how cute they are.

Not sure why I get so worked up about the dogs who are most abundant. I think once I am in a place long enough to realize the situation, hear some of the stories, and learn who is most desperate, my rescuer messiah complex kicks in and I just need to be around those ones. Pretty weird, huh?

Now excuse me while I go sniff some paws.

What aspects of dogs make YOU unable to think straight? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bladensburg Waterfront Park and Patuxent Research Refuge

More partial days available for hiking lately, where we only had a few hours but were longing to get away from everything. 

Who knew that right near our nation's capital this would be so easy? First, off to Bladensburg Waterfront Park. 

Right in the middle of an industrial area characterized by auto parts dealers, scrap metal yards, and a few old factories, 
There's this network of trails along the Anacostia River. The Anacostia is known for its pollution and its occasional dead body. 

Not many people know that it is also features open space, 
lovely boardwalks through wetlands, 

nifty hidden-away piers, 
and the occasional dancing Swiss guy. 

Their loss is our gain, because as you know our favorite dog walks are the undiscovered ones. 
Our next close-in getaway was to the Patuxent Research Refuge

We hadn't been there in a while and I don't think we'd ever discovered the long trail that goes all the way around the lake
There are also some grassy areas 

and a few piers where you can get a good look over the water.

A great place for bird watching.

Remind me to bring our binoculars next time.

After our hike, we put the pups in the car and went inside the really nice visitors center. It's set up with some great educational exhibits on the wildlife of the area, as well as some on broader conservation concerns such as the fact that our planet is being choked by rapidly propagating humans who are filling the oceans with trash and wiping out entire species and transforming rich bioscapes into desolate wastelands and pumping out babies and building and developing and manufacturing crap in pursuit of more more more more MORE.

But they said it a bit more eloquently, and in a way that may change minds and hearts rather than just alienate people.

Never been my strong suit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Restoration with the pups

Hard to believe but its Nutcracker season again, which means Florian's always in the studio spinning little ballerinas around. Fortunately, Florian's dance contacts all seem to have ballet schools in beautiful little towns near the Potomac, so we try to make the most of it by bringing the dogs along and being ready for a hike.

I love the Potomac this time of year, wide, flat, and spooky. 

And there's hardly anyone else on the trail, so no worries with the pups. 

Big bonus for Florian is that there are no snakes when its this cold on the trail.

I kind of love seeing snakes but for some reason our intrepid yodeler from the neutral territories is terrified of them, perhaps because he grew up with poisonous vi-pairs pursuing him as he leapt among the Alps picking mushrooms as a child. 

You wouldn't get this Swiss hiker out on these sorts of rocky surfaces in the summer, because he is convinced that under every rock, twined around every tree stump and even lurking in every shallow puddle is a copperhead.

On this hike, we didn't see a single snake 

but we did enjoy a perfect day and some really pretty foliage. 

It is so restorative to be out in nature, especially when there are few signs or sounds of human activity.

Things have gotten so crazy lately that I feel a little bad taking a whole day to just be out somewhere with the dogs. 

Two weeks ago I went up to New York to drive Uncle Johnny down here, and since then its been good fun to have him around, get him settled into his apartment, and go looking for good deals on furniture. 

I've been getting a steady stream of dog grooming clients, and have been working on a really engaging project on public lands livestock grazing at my nonprofit job--which is what I worked on 15 years ago when I lived in New Mexico--that keeps me happily looking at satellite photos of the Western U.S. and writing complaints to federal agencies for violations of environmental laws many an evening and weekend. 

Spending time with Dad and my sister and niece, and trying to make time for training with Fozzie and Dahlia. 

I'm not complaining about being busy. No, not me! I am grateful to have fulfilling work and to be surrounded by family members, even if they are crotchety and difficult. 

It just can make you feel a bit guilty when you take a day, or a weekend, to not work or take care of anyone or do much of anything besides go space out in the woods or on the river.  

This is another reason why dogs are our salvation, because they force us, or at least give us a really good excuse, to do the things that are important for our own health and wellness anyway. 

Thanks kids! One more weekend before even more madness with the holidays and plans to make a series of very complex vegan hors d'oevres. Where should we go THIS weekend?