Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lucky

Let me tell you a little more about how we ended up with Olive.

After a few weeks of combing Pet Finder, I found an ad for "Gracie Mae" at the Seattle Humane Society, which is actually located in Bellevue, WA. From the pictures and the brief description, I really thought she might be the one.



We decided to get up early and be there when they opened the next morning.  (And if I'm getting up early on a Sunday to drive to Bellevue, I must have really thought she was the one.)

At the shelter, we asked to see Gracie Mae, and they told us to go find her in her kennel.  We walked from kennel to kennel and didn't see her, and asked one volunteer who wasn't sure where she was. We walked the kennels again, and finally Jon saw her there, chewing a Kong. We said "Hey baby, hey girl" through the kennel door a few times. She barely looked up from her Kong, and stayed laying down, but we thought she was cute. We went to the volunteer to ask what the next step was.


The next step was to go back into the office and use the number on her kennel (lucky number: 11) to look in a binder and find her vet's report. From there we would interview for her and be able to visit with her in a dog run. We skimmed the vet's report, hoping to see that her health was perfect.

There, on the report, we read "Missing limb." What?  That wasn't in the PetFinder posting, and we had just seen her in her crate and she looked fine.  We thought maybe we had the wrong paper. But everything else on it matched. Kennel number, name, size. Jon asked "Do you want me to go back out to the kennel and look?" I said yes, and waited nervously in the office.

Jon came back in with a crestfallen look on his face. He nodded and said, "Yeah, a back leg is missing. Want to see it?" I walked back out to the kennel with Jon. And there she was, standing up, looking at us, and her back right leg was missing.

"What do you want to do?" Jon asked. I still liked her and at least wanted to spend a few minutes in the dog run with her and see how we got along. But, selfishly, I was disappointed. All my dreams of long dog walks and hikes... Would she be sick and disabled?  I was so broken hearted 3 years ago when we put our good friend and part-time dog Murphy to sleep, and the thoughts of vet visits and illnesses came flooding back. Would we bond like best friends? Would I be adopting her because I felt bad for her?

While we stood there, the volunteer came back and checked on us. "How's it going?" she asked.

"Well, we didn't know she was a tripod, that wasn't in the PetFinder ad. And we don't know anything about how to care for a tripod. So, we're not sure."

"She's a tripod? I didn't even notice she was missing a leg," the volunteer said, "I saw her playing in the dog run yesterday, and she was running so fast I couldn't even tell."

I took a minute of soul searching, and asking Jon what he wanted to do, before I said "Ok, let's at least spend some time with her."

We went back in and went through our interview with another volunteer. They consider it "matchmaking" but it was mostly just the volunteer giving us a rundown of things we needed to know, like the basics on crate training and house training. At the end, he signed a card that allowed us to get Gracie Mae out of her kennel and bring her into the dog run so we could get to know her a little bit.

A volunteer took her out of the kennel for us and slipped a leash around her neck. And that was when I saw that she was a regular dog. She pulled the volunteer, just like any dog running out to the dog run would. The volunteer warned us that she shouldn't run around in the dog run because she had just had surgery.

(About that surgery: They went in to spay her, but found that her uterus was gone, meaning she had already been spayed. They then labeled that an "exploratory surgery," otherwise known as putting my baby through pain for no good reason.)

In the dog run, we bonded pretty well. She spent the first few minutes sniffing around and listening to other dogs barking, but after a few minutes - and some treats! - I had her attention and I was falling in love already.

(I'm guessing you didn't notice her missing leg the first time I posted this photo, but you notice it now!)

The volunteer checked in on us and asked how it was going, and I requested a few more minutes. In part because I felt like it was right to take more than five minutes to make a lifetime decision, and in part because I just wanted a few more minutes with her.

But I knew. She's not perfect, but then again, neither are we. She's perfect for our family.

When the volunteer came back, we said, "Yup, she's ours." She slipped the leash back on her and lead her back to the kennel. In the kennel, she looked up at us so sadly, her eyes said, "I thought we were hitting it off. Where are you going?" We promised her she'd see us in a few minutes and went inside to complete the paperwork.

A couple swipes of the magic credit card (Airline miles! For getting a dog!) and she was ours and ready to go home with us.

In the week since, we've learned a lot about her. She came to the shelter from the Northwest Boxer Rescue. Jon called them and found out that they had been called to a hoarder's house in California. The hoarder had 140 dogs, including some boxers. They took a van down there full of cages, got all of the boxers for their rescue, and had a couple of cages left and offered to take a few more dogs. That's how our girl got a ride to Washington State.

I can't imagine a house with 140 dogs in it. Even the shelters don't have 140 dogs.

But, she gets around great. She can run with dogs in the dog run and take long walks and jump on the furniture. (She physically can, I didn't say she has permission.) Two advantages? She doesn't jump up on people, and she has fewer nails to clip.

(That dog on the right isn't deformed, he was shaking his head really fast!)

She has a few other health problems, but they should all be fixable. She came home with worms and a parasite called giardia. The vet said these are pretty normal for shelter dogs, and easily curable. She also has a spot on her paw called a granuloma, which is basically a sore or an irritated spot. It's actually pretty hard to see, but she licks at it quite a bit.  We got deworming medicine, medicine for giardia, worm prevention, and an antibiotic to clear up the granuloma on her leg. The vet said it's all fixable, although the granuloma may take a few attempts to figure out the exact cause.

The vet took a look at her teeth and noticed some fractures and guessed that she may have tried to chew her way out of something like a cage. The vet also said that she would've guessed her age to be two, and when I told her that the shelter guessed three, the vet said she could be between two and three, but maybe closer to two.

How did she lose her leg? The vet said there's no way to know for sure, but it's possible she was born that way, or it's possible it was the result of trauma (like getting hit by a car and needing to have her leg removed.)

There are a few things we have to be more careful with, having a tripod dog. First, we're a little more nervous about her getting hurt - if she hurts a leg and is down to just two, she'd be in a far worse situation than most dogs who have one "extra" leg.

We also have to be careful with her weight. A few extra pounds could make a big difference on her remaining hips and lead to arthritis. The vet said the best thing we could do to keep her joints healthy is give her plenty of good exercise.

I thought it might be fun to make a meetup group for tripods. I've been googling blogs about tripod (or tripawd) dogs and some of them have been a great comfort, to see how their dogs get around and how they deal with some of the challenges. I still might work on that in the new year. One of the blogs mentioned that, everyday you will be asked about your dog's missing leg.

And it's true. She gets a lot of attention when we go out walking. People say "Aaww, look, she's missing a leg," or ask what happened to her leg. It's tough that our only answer is that we really don't know.

I think it'd be funny, at least once, to say "What? Oh my god! Where's her leg!?!"

On the Seattle waterfront today, a tourist whose accent I took to be Russian asked us what happened to her leg, and I told him we didn't know, we adopted her that way. He then asked, "But her spirits? She is happy?" It was an interesting question. Yeah, she is really happy, and happiest when we're walking.

Some people say that she's lucky - that she got a good home, lucky that we adopted her, lucky that whatever took her leg didn't take her life. But we love her. And we think we're the lucky ones.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Introducing... Olive!

We named her Olive.  A little spunkier than "Gracie Mae". And, for our Christmas baby, a nod to one of my favorite holiday movies, Olive the Other Reindeer.





At the shelter, they told us to hope fo the best, expect the worst, when it comes to things like house training, crate training, and general behavior.  


So far, we've been pleasantly surprised.  

Every time we've walked her, she's "done her business" outside, and so far, no accidents inside. Knock on wood.

The first time I showed her to her crate, she went right in it. Now she seems a little lukewarm toward the crate: she goes in it when she wants to, but when she knows it means we're leaving she doesn't really like it. She can be a little stubborn and hilariously runs from room to room to try to avoid going into her crate.


She loves to get up on the furniture. I initially said she couldn't get on the bed, but already I've been letting her on the bed for little cuddles and naps. But only after she's gone out for a walk and never overnight. Yet. I can't help it, I love cuddling and naps as much as she does! 


I also said she couldn't come on the brand new couch, and I've bent that rule a few times already. It's leather and I worry about her claws, but we've got the couch covered with a blanket now.  

I suspect she can read.


She does well on walks and, boy, can she walk.

I signed up for a "hikes with dogs" meetup group. During the winter, because it gets dark early, they do walks rather than hikes. We went to a meetup walk last Wednesday night. There were 7 people and 10 dogs. We walked almost 3 miles, including some hills, and walked through a block in Seattle called "Candy Cane Lane" which was decorated for Christmas. Olive really liked walking with the dogs, and she didn't tire out at all. I was a little sore the next day but she was ready to go again! 


This is a large carousel around a huge shrub in the middle of the street on Candy Cane Lane.

We've made just one trip to the dog park, and she had a good time. Those two little dogs chased her around nonstop, but she held her own!

Most importantly, she seems pretty attached to us. After just a couple of days, she now follows us around the apartment and comes when we call her. At her first vet's exam, she hid behind me and leaned against me, even the vet was impressed how attached she was after just a few days.



 It is love.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Denied

The top 10 reasons why I got denied a Washington drivers license today:

10. Thanks to my LASIK, my vision is actually too good.
9. I can't yet pronounce "bag" like a Washingtonian. (They make it rhyme with egg!)
8. I don't know my Cascades from my Olympics.
7. They found out that I own an umbrella.
6. They're just jealous that I have the cutest dog in the world.
5. They found out that I once entered a grocery store not carrying my own reusable begg.
4. I haven't composted the mandatory minimum.
3. I didn't have enough balance on my Starbucks card to pay the licensing fees.
2. I couldn't pass the grunge music part of the exam.
1. They asked "Huskies or Cougars?" And I replied "Go Knights!"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Got A Dog!

And she is a cutie!

She's about three years old. They guess, based on her appearance, that she's a Beagle / Mini Aussie Shepard mix. She's a little taller than a beagle. And, although a lady never reveals her weight, I'll tell you that she's 25 lbs.

She came with the name Gracie Mae. The shelter told us they didn't know if they gave her that name or if she knows the name at all (she doesn't seem to), so feel free to change her name. We're trying to decide whether we want to keep the name or pick a new one. We're open to suggestions.

Prepare for dog photo overload!

First meeting at the Seattle Humane Society.


Look at those ears! They get me every time!



Saying hello!



In the car to go home. On the way home, we stopped at PetCo and bought the whole store: a crate, food, bowls, a harness, treats, toys, and more.


Say hi to the camera!


Pooped out, already? She seriously snored through the Giants game.


Those eyes! Those eyebrows! It looks like she's got a little taupe eye shadow going on! 




She already jumped up on the couch! 

And after a walk, she let herself into her crate.  Good girl.

So, name suggestions?  Some names we've thought of were Trixie, Scarlet, Hudson, and Jelly Bean. We both like Gracie Mae (it's not like we dislike it), although my husband would prefer to drop the Mae and leave it at Gracie. I guess being Southern, he's already tired of Mae.

But wait, there's more...

Here's 4 of the pups together, awake this time:


And here's the one that looked like a porcupine in yesterday's photo.  His name is Bacon!


But, I'm still not convinced that I want to deal with a teeny tiny pup.  I'd rather have a 1-3 year old dog. Today, I've got my eye on Gracie Mae:


Look at those eyebrows! She looks so concerned! And look at those ears!


Don't all race me to the Humane Society. Actually, good luck with that, we're planning to be there when they open today!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Puppy Love

It's been a busy week. We are now completely out of our temporary quarters and completely in our new apartment. That's not to say that we're unpacked, to the contrary, we're still surrounded by boxes, but we've got the TV and internet set up, as well as the bed and the shower. All of the necessities. The rest of it, we're unpacking slowly.

We spent days assembling Ikea furniture and waiting for deliveries and the cable guy, now we're down to going through boxes. We've made a few trips to Goodwill with the car full of boxes and there will definitely be more where that came from.

The hunt for a dog continues. We've had our eye on this girl, Pearl, for over a month now. After over a month of back and forth with the rescue, they finally told me that her foster mother is going to keep her. I'm glad she found a home, but I wish I hadn't gotten my heart set on her.

The rescue felt bad, though, and sent me a picture of these pups, and told us we could have first pick of the litter when they're ready to go home.

You know you want to see pictures of the tiny puppies.

It's hard to tell with them all overlapped like that, but I think there are 7 pups total.


Aaaw, I love how they're all snuggled up together and the two are falling right out of the bed.  The one on the right in the bottom picture looks like a little porcupine or something!  We know their mom is a Yorkie, so they'll be small.  Here's the mom:


But, without knowing what the dad was, we really don't know how big they'll be. They could be a mix with another small dog, like a chihuahua or dachshund, in which case they'll be small dogs, or they could be a mix with a bigger dog and end up as larger dogs. I think the top few in the top picture look like pugs, so maybe they're a pug mix?  

In the meantime, there's a Humane Society adoption event at 2nd Leash on Life, a pet supply store near our house tomorrow so we'll go out and see if we find love there.  It's not exactly a hopeless place.

Speaking of hopeless, the weather continues to be grey. It rains at least a few minutes a day, sometimes all day. Last Wednesday was the darkest day since 2006. This article, KOMOnews: Seattle's December proves sometimes it's dark after the dawn too, concludes that if you add up the sun received every day in the month of December, it equals the sun energy in one day in June in Seattle. Let me tell you, it is perfect nap weather, but not so perfect getting-out-of-bed-and-unpacking weather.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sound the Alarm

We've had a nice cushion of two weeks with two apartments. I've been going over to the new apartment for at least a few hours everyday to go through boxes and set things up.  We really wanted to declutter quite a bit before we left New Jersey, but because of Hurricane Sandy and our lack of electricity, our plans were dashed. We're doing quite a bit of decluttering now, and have made two trips to Goodwill, two trips with donations to the Seattle Animal Shelter (they love blankets, towels, pillows and linens), we've sold a few things through Craigslist and given away things that didn't sell.

It's really nice to have the temporary quarters to come "home" to at night as a break from unpacking and living amongst the boxes.  I highly recommend it to anyone who has a large cross-country or similar move.

Tonight, we were at the new house. Jon was in the bedroom assembling furniture and I was in the kitchen loading the dishwasher and belting out some Christmas carols.  Suddenly, I heard a really loud alarm.  I couldn't figure out what it was or where it was coming from. I turned my head this way and that, and it seemed to be coming from every direction. I sniffed the air but didn't smell smoke.

Finally, it stopped, and I shouted to Jon, "Did you hear that?"

He replied, "Did you see that?"

"See what?"

Apparently both of our phones had some sort of alarm at the same time - it was a Blizzard Warning from the National Weather Service! Oh boy! We never had any kind of alarm before hurricanes back home, and meanwhile it's 42 degrees here so I really don't think it's cold enough for a blizzard.

I wasn't happy about the blizzard warning but I was relieved - at least it wasn't my singing that set off the alarms!

Friday, December 14, 2012

So, What Did I Blow?

All that kickass blowing?

I made two ornaments.

The first one is clear glass.  And it broke when I was setting it up to photograph it.



I'm not sure if it's worth it to hold onto it and see if there's anything else I can do with it.

Terrarium maybe?  Small candle votive?



The second ornament is green.  (I smartly strung this one onto a red ribbon before photographing it.)



And a green bowl.  This is called a "sucky bowl" and it is a double layered bowl.  It is made by blowing a large sphere like the ornament, and then sucking back in so that the top part of the sphere falls back down onto the bottom part.



I tried googling "sucky bowl" so I could provide a better description, but most of the results were about disappointing football bowl games. 

My bowl has a small hole in the bottom (I didn't adequately close up the blowhole) so it would not hold a liquid, but it could be used as a candy bowl or for accessories or anything solid.

I wish the color was a little more saturated, a little less like a tint, so that's something to keep in mind on future projects - either choosing a more opaque color or saturating more color frit onto the glass.  

Next week: Tumblers! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finally, the Blowing!

Finally, the part of glassblowing class I've been waiting for.  We finally *blew* glass.  Meaning, puffed air from our mouths right into the glass. That makes the glass hollow, like the inside of an ornament, or a bowl or a drinking glass (unlike the paperweight and gnome which were solid glass).

Here's glass with a little bit of a bubble on the end (that's my teacher, Amy, demonstrating):


And a bigger bubble: 


The actual effort of blowing a bubble is a little tough and it took me a few tries to get a good bubble.  You've got to keep your thumb and the pipe in your mouth and "pop a bubble" then cap the pipe with your thumb right away.  Then keep your thumb on the end of the pipe while you wait for the bubble to rise up into the glass.  All the while, you've got to keep the rod turning and don't take too long or it will get too cold! It took me a few tries to get it, but I finally got it.  

I felt better when my teacher told me that it took her months of trying before she was able to pop a bubble.  

(A totally pointless tangent, but every time I hear the phrase "pop a bubble" I can't help but think "Papa Bubble."  And then I think of the Smurfs. Is that weird? Yeah, that's weird.)


Here's me, heating my glass in the glory hole (basically, a very hot furnace for reheating your glass to make it more malleable.)  You want the glass really hot when you try to pop a bubble - the hotter the glass, the easier it's going to be. But too hot, and your glass might fall right off your blow pipe!


And marvering it... which means rolling it against a smooth surface to shape it and smooth it out.



When it's nice and smooth, it will be ready to blow.


And blowing it - Papa Bubble! 


I've got to say, I really love my glassblowing pictures. I look like such a badass, right?  
I've wanted to do this for so long, and That's Me! Actually Doing It! I feel totally empowered. 

Thank you to my classmate Katelin for the photography!