02 December, 2015

The Princess of Peeved

It rained Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and today here in soggy Baltimore. I am looking forward to a less damp Thursday.

Still listening to the crappy The One and Only. It's still bad, but in a good way. I'm so aggravated by Shea, the main character, that it distracts me from how boring scanning documents for hours is!

Wearing her nerdly green sweater that kept her from being too cold. Styling!
 Here is something that has happened to me recently. The Monday before Thanksgiving we had to have our little Cocker Spaniel, Punkin, put down. The poor thing was frail and had become senile and incontinent. It hurt to lose her, but her quality of life was down to about nothing, and I am afraid things were about to get worse, as she had a big infection. It was time.

Punkin, like one of my other favorite dogs (Dru), was not your stereotypical sweet/cute/happy dog. Frankly, she looked at life with a jaundiced eye, not that I blame her. She had one owner from the time she was a puppy. She and another dog lived with that man for 10 years, and when he died, the family took them to a shelter. The rescue we volunteer with took both dogs, but could not find a home for the two of them together, and the other dog was adopted first.

First, Punkin was in a kennel at a boarding facility, but then she went to a foster home. The foster told us that the first few days at her house, poor old Punkin was so upset she basically hid under furniture, growling and snapping at everyone who passed by. Then she settled in for four months. When this woman was getting ready to go away for the summer and asked for another foster family to take her (just for the summer or until she was adopted). I volunteered.

I won't forget the first time I saw this dog. I was told to look for a woman in a red convertible with an orange dog. And let me tell you, she was ORANGE. I said, "You weren't kidding about her being orange!" The woman sheepishly told me that Punkins's coat was really a reddish buff, but she had washed her with a special "brightening" shampoo for red dogs, like Irish Setters, etc. It seems the phone rang while Punkin was marinating in orange dye...and twenty minutes later she was the canine equivalent of Lucille Ball.

When I got her home, Punkin got herself up in the corner of our couch and commenced to glare balefully at us and our other dogs. She wasn't having any of us. She'd been ripped out of her home, her dog friend had been taken away, she got settled into a good home, and now she had to start over...to which she said, "Not just no, HELL NO." Four four days she curled up in an angry ball, snapping at the dogs, snapping at us. The only reason she left the couch was to go outside to pee. She would not eat.

Thomas finally could not take it anymore, and on day four he got a bunch of kibble and boiled chicken, and started hand feeding her. She deigned to eat if he would feed  her. Eventually, she settled in and started eating out of a bowl and nosing around the yard. After three months, she was doing pretty good. Standoffish and a little snippy, but we all understood each other.

Then the time came for 1st foster mom to come home and she emailed me to ask when she could get Punkin back. I asked if she was adopting her or just fostering again. Just fostering, I was told.

I got to thinking about something my friend Christine said about fostering dogs. It is a good thing, because it keeps the dogs out of kill shelters, and in a home situation where they keep their house training and good manners...but the dogs don't know it's just temporary. They settle in and love you. Every time we move a dog from one home to another, we take a little piece of their heart, their trust, away. It's for a good reason, but we do some damage.

"Screw that," I told Thomas, "we're keeping her. She's a little pain in the butt, but she's our pain in the butt, and I'm not going to make her move again." And Punkin was a member of the family.

Our friends just learned to leave her alone. She didn't want you to pick her up, or pet her, or fuss with her at all. She would take food, if she felt like it, but she was not food motivated like our other dogs. We hardly knew what to do with a Cocker Spaniel who wouldn't readily sell her good will for food! She was a tiny little thing, barely 21 lbs at her heaviest. By the time she died she was about 16 lbs of toughness. Like the Energizer Bunny, she kept on ticking, but she'd failed badly since the end of the summer. Monday we knew the time had come.

So, Punkin, Princess of Peeved, we loved you and will miss you. We hope you are running through the fields of heaven, at peace. 

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