The past couple weeks have been tough. Lots of mourning, lots of sadness. We miss that dog like crazy. We decided, and on the recommendation of lots of friends who’ve been through similar losses, that rather than wallow in our grief (ok, we did plenty of that) we should look ahead to new dog loves, and the chance to give another lucky dog a good home. We looked at a lot of petfinder profiles, filled out a few applications, even drove to Chicago Ridge in rush hour to the Animal Welfare League to meet a sweet rottie girl who might have been wonderful- and had an adoption pending. And then we drove even further, all the way to Mundelein and came home with a new best friend. I think it was a little fate- the late Bella’s original name when our friend’s mom brought her home from the shelter as a 6 month old pup was Hera (Hera the dog? Why would anyone change that name? No wonder she loved the Hair of the Dog rabbit treats…). We brought home her husband, but a few weeks too late. Better late than never…
Our new marshmallow man… Zeus von Knuklbeak, aka, Zeuski Wooski, aka ZooZoo, aka Snot-Boogie Number Two. Welcome to the family, guy! Someday when we’re all settled in we’ll probably get you a crazy bitch to keep you company (perhaps Pandora?)… well, other than me, of course, har har. He’s from a Georgia breeder, via the Southside, via Reach Rescue in Mundelein, and naturally, loves watermelon, pick-up trucks, naps, and laps (the kind you lie in, not the ones you run). He’s AKC-registered, and came with a thick file of vet records dating back to his puppydom, from a very reluctant owner-surrender- his mom was working long hours and had to leave him crated alone 10-12 hours a day… she loved him but wasn’t home enough to be fair to him. We feel her pain- how could anyone give this guy up? We’re glad she was able to though, for his sake and ours. He’s got the sweetest disposition and has charmed everyone he’s met, and that’s already a lot of people. We took him for a walk in the forest preserve on the way home, and as we left the parking lot, we were charged by an insane five lb ball of white curly poodle fluff, all teeth and bark, trailing a loose flexi leash behind and a frantic woman about five feet behind that. Z froze, looked up at us nervously as the tiny dog nipped towards his legs, with a look that said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Can you please make this stop?” Luckily the little terror’s owner caught up as soon as her dog’s forward movement stopped, picked up her pup, and apologized profusely… and we told him what a gooood boy he was.

IMG_1206 Naptime is all the time (I should be so lucky)…

He was really bonded with his foster dad who’d had him for several weeks (when we walked him at the rescue, he kept looking for him), and was pretty sad and mopey the first couple days… that, and they gave him a vaccine booster when we took him home from the rescue so he was probably feeling a little under the weather on top of the stress and change of yet another new home. Now, he’s settling in really well, getting attached to us (he whines at the gate when the fella leaves for work), has a hearty appetite, a magnificent voice, and is an absolute southern gentleman. Could care a whit about chickens, knows basic obedience commands, and gets pushed around by even smaller dogs because he’s so genteel. If I worry about him at all with other dogs, it’s that he might be getting into trouble, not causing it. So strange!

It’s weird to be on the other end of the dog ownership spectrum- B-gurl could be a pushy alpha-bitch high-drive terror. Off leash, she was good at breaking up dog fights, but often other people assumed she was an instigator because she looked so tough (ok, sometimes she was, but more often she was meting out needed canine justice and trying to keep the peace). With the right playmates, she was fantastic with other dogs, but they had to have the right temperament and training, and careful introductions. And Jet, buddy, you probably had it coming that day (no means no)… and thankfully your face looks fine now and hopefully the hard lesson on manners sunk in, and thank the lord that your mom and pop understand that sometimes dogs work things out in ways we don’t like- strangers might have sued us; they wouldn’t even let us pay their vet bill. God, I loved that crazy bitch. The last day we spent with her, she was sitting in my lap in the back of the truck (ok, lying in my lap and I was holding onto her as a neighbor and his pit were chatting and I didn’t trust B-gurl not to go lunging for her- she never lost her scrap, not to the end)… I kissed her cheek and wondered how it was possible to love a dog so much. The night before that, we went foraging for aronia berries for jelly and juice on Franklin Ave after dark, and she lay on the sidewalk as I stooped and crawled to gather every last dark astringent fruit (one foot safely on the leash, looped securely around my arm- she was STRONG), without a care for my well-being, as whenever anyone came within a block or two of us I’d know immediately and have to move to the side so they could pass on the sidewalk as she ferociously defended me and our space. Huge scary looking thuggish men used to cross the street when we were walking by, and I know they weren’t afraid of me… she’d pee every five feet on walks, just a splash here and there, but throw her head back and kick dirt in the air as she dug in her smell. I never had to trim her nails- she was so proud she wore them down herself with that strut. And then she was gone.

Sometimes, she was such a handful, and certainly she couldn’t come everywhere with us, which was inconvenient, as she also had terrible separation-anxiety- fine in the crate, but turn your back on her in the house for 5 minutes, even if she just came inside, and you’d have a mess waiting for you… but she made a world of progress in the time she lived with us… in the beginning she frustrated me to tears many times, caused problems with the fella and I (until she charmed him too- he was a harder case but possibly took her loss even harder as well, and made a dog-person out of him in spite of himself). She was a bear to walk (prong-collar not optional, and she’d choke herself with just a slip-collar… an easy-walk harness was not an easy walk), leash-aggressive, cat-aggressive, and overly-protective… she tripped me numerous times on walks and made me bleed- I’ll always have the scars to remember her by. She broke into the bathroom brooder and mouthed but fortunately didn’t maim the terrified chicks, and may have murdered one of the adults- she certainly had motive, intent, ability, probable culpability, lack of alibi… but no witnesses. She was at her best when she had a job to do, and she took her number one job of keeping us safe very seriously… we called her the dog rocket- she sit posted up on the back porch, wait till someone walked past our gate, charge 50 feet silently and then unleash a fierce bark and growl as she leapt at the back gate, did a clockwise spin and then hit it again for good measure… she LOVED that trick, almost as much as running down two flights of stairs to go for a cat on the other side of the fence that would be long gone by the time she’d loudly thundered down the stairs- not always bright, but every hopeful that someday she’d get one. But she was such a good soul in spite of her many quirks that the struggle was worth it, and man did I learn a lot about dog psychology and training, and how to act confident when you weren’t (she always was, I had to put on a good show to keep up). She was ferocious. Little man is sweet but protective, which is coming out more as he settles in- it will take awhile I’m sure before we see fully who he is and learn his own quirks… I’m going to relax into this other kind of dog ownership for awhile, and maybe someday another crazy lady will fall in our laps needing saving and our pack will grow… for now, we’re focused on getting to know this guy, and finishing a few of all the million other projects on our plates!

This sweet guy already has our hearts… and such a funny creature! Maybe I’m paranoid, but his hips and hindquarters seem a little weak- he’s a little clumsy on the stairs, and I’m going to get him on some joint health supplements now so that hopefully he won’t have problems later (and pet insurance for sure- let me know if you have a plan you’re happy with). He’s only four, but I’m a firm believer in the old ounce of prevention cure. I’ll never get over not being more insistent with the vets that there was something wrong with Bella worse than an eye infection, and having bloodwork done… that’s not happening again. I’ve done lots of research, trying to figure out what it could have been- but any of that is going to be speculation at this point. Cancer? Addison’s Disease? Tick-born illness- not lyme, but maybe Ehrlichiosis- fits a lot of her symptoms (she did have one tick this summer that was there for a couple days before we discovered it)? One things for sure, I’m not taking any chances with this guy. I hate using chemical pesticides (especially nasty systemic ones that have “do not get on skin” warnings on the package, but somehow it’s ok for your dog? And then for you to pet the dog covered in said poison?), but for the summer at least he’s on the spot-on strong stuff… Right now he’s eating good kibble and fancy-pants holistic/organic canned food mixed, but I’m going to start adding in raw meat & bones, cooked sweet potatoes, oats, brown rice, eggs, and other good real-food stuff, gradually so I don’t stress his tummy… shouldn’t be hard though- this guy doesn’t like kibble much, and I can’t say I blame him. Good things coming your way, guy!

IMG_1192 And I’m up!

Speaking of good things coming… while grief continues, life never stops. Time to get back in the saddle! We (Zeus and I, though mostly he’s just moral support… the fella has helped with more of the same, plus muscle and mettle) have been busting buns on the side-yard- moving mulch, planting the first of the hugelkulture mounds, setting up drip lines, moving flag-stone, and more, trying to get ready for a big event at the end of the month- more on that tomorrow! We’ve got lots of big plans for the next year, which stop being plans and start being real, starting now. New products, new projects, and hopefully some new land nearby and a bigger farm spread and possibilities… and you can all join in the progress! In fact, we’ll NEED you to help if it’s going to work. Curious? Me too! Stay tuned…

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