Friday, March 18, 2016

Kermit

This is Kermit.

On the evening of March 16, we picked him up at the veterinary clinic. He and I dragged each other around the corner so that we'd have a relatively quiet street to see if we could get him into the car without a crane.

"Let's see if he knows anything about cars," we said, and opened the rear hatch of the Vibe. SPROING! Kermit landed in the back on all fours and -- plunked himself down on the carpet as if riding in a car was something he did all the time.

Earlier that day I had tidied our room, moved some small furniture to make a floor space available, brought in a new water dish, and put down an old blanket for a mat for Kermit to sleep on. I was anticipating having Kermit on a leash 24 hours a day for a few days, to accustom him to Pilarski civilization, keeping him apart from the rest of the household until he was calmed down.

Pffft. He came into the house, sniffed around our room, tried to climb onto the bed. "Aha!" I thought. "He knows what a bed is for." He also knew what the word "Off" meant. He quite readily made use of the blanket mat, so he knew what that was for, too. After a bit, I took him outside, and he knew what a good dog does outside.

In spite of my decision to keep him off the bed, when Bernie crawled under the covers, Kermit lay down right against his legs, and our resolve melted. Kermit slept in between us all night, and even though he is a BIG dog, he took up less space than Ep does when he sleeps with us.

Okay, so this dog knows how to sleep with people, too. He's housebroken, his toenails were cut by a professional groomer, he's sweet, loves people, he's gentle. He doesn't bark. Why in heaven's name would someone just dump him? He was at the animal shelter for over two weeks, and no one tried to find him.

Did someone think that the puppy they were raising was going to stay small? And were not willing to pay the $70 live surrender fee to the shelter? Maybe.

Thursday morning, Kermit got to walk around the house. He met John and Joma (Alex and Lil had paid him a visit on Wednesday) and was polite and happy, and then it was Eperis' turn.

They did okay, too. Ep was a little pissed at another dog in the house, but his herding skills kicked right in and he corralled Kermit in the middle of the living room. Kermit loved it.

We're trying to keep Kermit a little quiet until his incision is healed, but soon he and Eperis are going to have some rowdy times together.

So I've got a dog to wake me at 6:30 with kisses and crashing cuddles. Beats an alarm clock any day.

Yeah, he does look like Sebastian, doesn't he?


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Guess I'll Have Those Words on a Sandwich, Pass the Dill Pickles

Too big. Too messy. Too much of a chance.

I was sure he wasn't the dog for me, the timing wasn't right, I didn't have time for a dog, blah, blah, blah.

Then Bernie and I went for a walk around the block. On the other side of Zumstein Street, a little dog ran out of a yard. "There he goes," I said to Bernie as the mutt scrambled down the sidewalk at full speed. But as the dog came past the cars parked over there, he dashed forward, across the street ... right at me. Wiggling madly, he came to my feet to greet me with recognition and delight. There was one white dot on the back of his little red neck, a dot that looked exactly like the dot on the back of the neck of a shelter dog called "Hoagie" that I had met and petted months before -- like last August. "Can this be Hoagie?" I said, just as his owner came running across the street, shouting, "Hoagie!"

"It IS Hoagie! I met this dog at the shelter," I explained to his owner. Bernie and I chatted with Brett for a while, then we went on our ways. I was glad to see that Hoagie had found such a doting owner.

Yet it gave me food for thought. If Hoagie, a dog I petted in passing six months ago, remembered me, what must that big pup think of someone who spent twenty minutes petting and playing with him, someone who just turned around and walked away and never came back?

I'd referred to him (after I met him when talking to Alex) as "that froggy mutt down at the shelter." And standing by my bedroom door looking out at the rain, I thought, "What would I do, call him 'Froggy?' Stupid name for a dog." And I'm not kidding, I heard something like a small voice say, His name is Kermit.

We went down to see him again this morning. Oh, boy, did he ever recognize me. We took him to the Adoption Room to let him interact with us in a quiet setting; we were impressed with his calmness mixed with happy spirits. He didn't bark, he didn't jump. He sat beside me, he came when we clapped for him. I put a leash on him to test how hard I'd have to pull on him to get his attention and direction ... not much at all. And then, on the leash, he just lay down and relaxed.

He'll visit the vet in the morning when Animal Control takes him there for neutering, and by evening, I will have a big, smelly dog with me, a dog named Kermit.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Not Him Either

Last week I went down to the local Animal Shelter to look at a dog. Alex had been down there volunteering, and came home with a tale of a nice puppy reputed to be a Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd mix.

We took him to an outside run and messed with him for about 20 minutes, then I had Alex call Bernie and tell him to come down and look at the dog, too. For having been in an animal shelter kennel for more than a week, he was remarkably mellow, and easily came to lean against my legs; he had a happy demeanor, and was willing to sit. His feet were enormous, though; plainly, even though he was a big puppy, he is going to be a much larger adult. I didn't really see any Shepherd in him, but the Lab was quite evident.

On a whim, Bernie dragged me off to an adoption event at German Shepherd Rescue of Modesto. We petted German Shepherds for about half an hour, big ones, puppies, in-betweens. We came home without a new dog.

The next evening, Alex and John had to go out of town, leaving us in charge of the girls. And of Eperis, who naturally slept in our bed with us because he believes that dogs do sleep in beds with people.

When I woke in the morning, Ep was already watching me, ready for a snuggle. Then I knew that the shelter dog was not for me. That huge puppy would require attention 24/7 for a long time, and I'm not willing to give up the interaction I have with Ep.

The other thing that I realized, thinking about the dogs I'd looked at over the weekend, was that all the German Shepherds we petted didn't really speak to us: they were all looking for their foster-owners. All looking for someone else. And the part-Lab? He wasn't looking for us, he was looking for anybody.

The Lab would have been too big to be a lap dog, anyway, whereas Eperis is obviously not.

I don't know if I'll find another companion dog for me in my life or not. Howie would be a hard act to follow. For the time being, Ep fills in as best he can, at my heels in the kitchen if he hears me get out the cutting board or opening the wrapper of a loaf of bread, greeting me in the mornings with many kisses, staring intensely into my eyes with optimism and good nature.

I'm content for now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Predation

I was standing at the kitchen door that leads out onto the patio. A grey piece of fuzziness drifted down from the hopseed tree. And then another, more obviously a fluffy feather.

And then another!

And more, a veritable shower of feathers, not just downy chest fluff, but primary feathers as well. We stepped out the door to see who was plucking what up in the tree, and a small hawk flew away, leaving an avalanche of feathers hung up on the twigs and leaves.

An inspection of the feathers:

I knew immediately what the species of lunch was. And if that wasn't clear enough, there was this:


Delicious, crunchy fresh cedar wax-wing.

Why couldn't it have been one of those noisy, pesty mockingbirds?