Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Changed for Good

This will be my last post about the dog for a little while, I promise, but I just wanted to give y'all an update on how she's doing.

Since her one-night-only performance of "Runaway Bride", Lily has been pretty much amazing. The night after her escape she laid a sweet douce down on the rug, but since then she's been good as gold, no accidents inside, tail curled and wagging, eager to be patted and adored (usually) and fed anything you might want to offer (always). After a slate of difficult days, I was basically praying that Friday would be a good day. "Just one," I pleaded, partly to her, partly to any higher power that covers canine behaviour (Moses?), "Just one good day. That's all I need."

And I got it.

TB went to see Ironman after work so that meant that I was going to be the first one home for a change. As I took the bus home, I cringed, my stomach hardening at the thought of what I'd find when I got there. What I found was a pug. A little pug with her paws and face up against the inner door (we have an "airlock" system in place now to stop her from running), whining and crying to be with me.


I opened the door and petted her as she rubbed her face against me, tail wagging madly, devocalized bark squeaking away. I thought maybe she needed to go outside, so I put on her leash and took her on a quick walk but she was just as happy to be with me when we returned. She went to the bathroom outside (for which she was praised like she'd just cured parvo), was sweet to me all evening and slept most of the day.

By the weekend she was letting us give her a bath and being sociable with visitors. By Monday she was greeting TB the same way she had greeted me on Friday.

Not every day is going to be perfect, I know, and we still need to teach her that 6am is an ungodly time to be up, and that "sit"ing and "stay"ing will result in copious amounts of treats, but... holy crap you guys. Our cowardly pee machine is gradually turning into a goofy cuddlebug and it's remarkable.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Panic! In the Household



As you can see by the recently reposted previous entry, we got a dog. After some confusion over transfer dates, she came to our place on Monday night.

And by Wednesday afternoon, she was gone.

Life hasn't been easy for Lily, either before the adoption or after. I think we see videos and photos of loving animals and it's easy to think they're all these little furry balls of unconditional love. Had a bad day? Dog or cat will take care of that! Bored and want to play? Hey, so do they! But that's not always the case. And with a rescue animal, it's certainly not likely to be the case, especially not right from the start.

I'm learning that. But it's a hard lesson.

Since Lily's had some issues going to the bathroom outside (or at all, really. Little girl has my camel bladder) TB asked if I wanted him to come home at lunch and let her out. I said, sure, if he had time. He did, so he did.

Lily has this thing about people right now. She won't leave our side, but she also cowers when we try to pet her sometimes. Same with the door, she bounds towards it, but then backs away whenever someone enters. I mean, granted, we'd only had a chance to open the door a half-dozen times with her so far, but it pretty much always went the same way: excitement, back away, retreat. Except for this time. As TB gently opened the door, she backed away then darted around his legs and ran out the door. And her stubby little legs might not show it but she is a runner, that one. TB is pretty quick too - he's all leg - so he ran and ran until he had no more breath in him and stopped. She was gone.

And she didn't have tags yet. And she's so small. And she doesn't know how to get home.

TB called me, and it had to be one of the worst calls I've ever received, up there behind the phone call I got when my grandmother died. Even just recalling it now makes my chest tight and painful. He was so upset, and his voice and words were equal parts furious, heartbroken, worried and despondent. I've never wanted to hug a phone receiver harder.

He'd asked a bunch of strangers if they'd seen her but no one had. He went back to the office to make posters while I had to continue working, deadlines looming and a coworker to cover for. I did not produce my finest work that afternoon, let me tell you. In between printing jobs, I emailed the rescue organization and asked for any help they could provide. They Facebooked and Tweeted Lily's information and contacted the Humane Society - they were very quick, it was great. I shared the information on my Facebook wall, all the while letting my mind wander to the terrible things that could happen to her. Balanced with a healthy dose of self-pity for her hating this place so much that she had to run, of course. TB was worse, apoplectic anger at her, teary at the whole situation, blaming himself for the escape. I never blamed him for a second. How could I? She wasn't really "our" dog yet, just a fuzzy roommate, feeling her way. We didn't know how she'd act - and we had no indication that she would make a run for anything that wasn't made of beef. And he'd done everything he could - run after her, asked strangers, made and hung posters - I was so proud of how he launched into action.

Finally, at 3pm I finished what I needed to, peaced out, and took a cab to meet TB and his mom.  A hug never felt so good, or so sad. We put up posters and people wished us luck, asking if we'd contacted the Humane Society, smiling sadly. Friends shared my status on Facebook, coworkers texted me to help look for her - after TB's frustration at the dozens of people who didn't stop her from running, we shared wobbly smiles over the kindness people can show in times of trouble.

I know that in cases like this the first few hours are really critical if you want a happy ending. And as the unseasonably hot sun beat down we started to lose hope. Then, around 4pm, as we reached the end of our poster stash, TB got a call. As soon as I heard the first "Really?!" I felt like all the blood returned to my limbs. Someone had found her.

We started texting and calling people who were on their way to help, letting them know all was well, typing (and talking) in all-caps. And as she came prancing down the street, tongue out and ears flapping, I felt like I was waking up from a terrible nightmare. I've never been so happy to see something I was so irritated with.

It turns out, she'd done this before. In fact, the woman who found her had been her first foster parent and during the transport from Montreal she'd pulled a runner into the woods and was only picked up because two guys on snowmobiles managed to snag her. They said it was like a movie. I kind of wish that this information had been passed onto us, frankly, because I had no idea a) she could run so fast b) this is sort of her M.O.

I mean, it makes sense - if I had been cooped up my whole life then I'd want to run as soon as I got a taste of freedom, too. Well, probably more like a canter. Speed walk at the very least.

We got her home, let her drink all the cold water her smushed face could handle and then pretty much collapsed. We ate our packed lunches for dinner around 9pm and were in bed by 10:30. Somewhere in there she peed on the floor (instead of, y'know, the backyard, where she'd been for an hour with us) but we scolded her like pros and cleaned it up even faster. We're getting the hang of this.

And we told ourselves in sniffly voices, that tomorrow will be better, that things will get easier and that this is the kind of stuff that can happen when you take a chance on a dog with a past. But make no mistake, it is hard. It's hard accepting that some of the stuff you really like will be, if not ruined, then at least negatively affected. It's hard watching a dog shy away from you, when all you do is give it food and attention. It's hard waiting for things to improve.

And I know we have to be patient, and I know she's trying her best, and I know it will get easier and I know it's worth it. But I like things to be good RIGHT NOW and like everything else I've wanted to excel at right from the start, I get super frustrated when things aren't simple and easy.

Basically, I'll be fine if I have kids because my bargaining techniques and attention span mirror that of a 4 year old.

So we keep on keepin' on. I found myself taking my voice to new heights of falsettoness today as Lily dutifully peed outside by herself in the backyard this morning. I even did a little happy dance when her droopy tail curled up into a perfect spiral and then wagged back and forth. And I'm choosing to ignore the peanut butter it took to get it there. One paw in front of the other, little girl. Until you reach the baby gate. Then back the hell up, hound.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The New Arrival

**NOTE: This entry was up (very) briefly yesterday but then I got a heart-stopping call at about 1pm while I was in the middle of editing so I never put it back up. I will now, and everything's fine, but yesterday was kind of insane so reposting it slipped through the cracks. Next entry will deal with that. Just so's ya know.**

I haven't updated lately on purpose. I'm not the best at keeping big news (either happy or sad) to myself and these last few weeks have been no exception. I'm usually annoyed whenever a blogger announces they have a "huge, fun thing that [they] can't talk about!" and then fails to follow up on it -either because it falls through/turns out differently then they'd hoped or because they forget. I didn't want to be that person so I kept waiting until I could absolutely say everything was settled.

So, since everything's been finalized at this point, I feel confident when I say: Welcome home, furry housemate!
She's the canine answer to "Grumpy Cat"
After much agonizing name-yelling back-and-forth (a post for another time) we're calling her Lily, but she came to us as Lin Lin. We got her from the good folk at Under My Wing Pug Rescue, a lovely little organization that is run by 2 (yes, only two) people working with a group of loving foster families to give homes to pugs in our area.

We spotted her about 3 weeks ago on their website and fell in love with her little face. We'd been talking about getting a dog for a while though we hadn't decided on a breed - we just knew we wanted a rescue. Her story won our hearts. She lived her life as a backyard breeder, kept in a cage in an unlit, unheated shed, with other pugs and pomeranians, having litters of puppies that were taken from her and sold once they were 8 weeks old. She's been devocalized which means when she does bark it's the most heartbreaking, high-pitched little whine, barely audible and so adorable you'll wet yourself. She's nervous around people so far (no shaking or nervous peeing or anything but definitely cautious and clingy) but she's apparently come incredibly far from the quivering, hiding mess she started out as, so we're proud of her progress.

When we saw her picture we knew we wanted to meet her. The only way to meet her was to fill out an application. So we did. All 9 pages of it. What followed was weeks of reference checking, cheque writing, nervous pacing, obsessive research, supply-buying and, finally, last week, an approval. 

We drove out to her temporary home and we (okay, I) may have misted up a bit as her temporary keeper said "It's your last car ride, little girl - you're going home!" She was good as gold on the ride home, no carsickness, sat right down even though she was clearly a bit freaked out. Her first night was pretty marvellous, all cuddles and house-exploring, and we were glad to have her.

The next night was a little more challenging as she ended up peeing on the couch (YES THE NEW COUCH FROM IKEA) when a friend's dog came by to say "hi" (ie: jumping up toward her and guiding her into the kitchen with his nose pressed to her butthole). Good news? We're pretty sure we discovered the mess early. Bad news? We caught it early because I sat in it. Sigh. Luckily we'd had the forethought to buy some stain remover "just in case". Thank Jeebus for my pessimism or the whole situation would have been much more annoying.

It's also clear that, like most pugs everywhere, she's a little furry shadow. No bathroom trip or walk to get the mail is complete without the little click click click of her feet (DIRECTLY) behind you.

But I think what's going to prove the greatest challenge is that she's still so nervous. I know, I know, it's only been 2 days, she's doing really well. It's just hard when you're adjusting to a new routine and you have the added stress of an unhappy dog. I mean, have you seen pugs' faces? At their best they're morose-looking. In addition, it looks like she's fonder of me than TB which has been hard on him since he's putting in at least as much work on this as I am, if not more.

We'll survive, and it will get better, it's just a big change, y'know? I mean, in the last 9 months I've gone from living on my own to buying a house with someone else, to being a little family unit of 3. I'd be lying if I said it was all rainbow cupcakes, all the time. But most days, it's at least a rainbow muffin.

She's a good girl, calm, well-behaved (mostly), and through some miracle, barely snores. And I'm convinced that no big decision - moving, new job, new family member- happens without at least a few moments of "WHAT HAVE I DONE??". The good news is, whenever I've been in that situation, I almost always look back a while later and think "Why didn't I do this sooner?"

So that was basically my impetus for keeping my piehole shut. On this, at least. Still running at the mouth on anything else, natch. Any advice on dogs or hilarious stories about pets doing crappy things and you still loving them much appreciated.