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Friday, April 30, 2010

Settling in

Photo: the dog toy is 15" long, about Spike's size.

Spike spent his first day at our place. He's settling in well. His interactions with the house and its inhabitants remind me of how people react when circumstances change. His adaptation is instinctive, and I've learned a few things:

Spike didn't choose us. His neglectful owner abandoned him. He was taken to a shelter, not knowing where he would land. We chose him and were vetted to become his permanent placement. Knowing little about him, we decided to take our chances and bring him home. He knows nothing of the backdrop of his rescue, nor is it relevant to his contentment. So we too are often unaware of God's provisions and others' care for us.

Spike walks around the perimeter of each room, observing and exploring. He keeps checking to see what his people do. After a bit of activity, he pauses to absorb the consequences.  We let him roam or establish boundaries with a firm "No."

His habits are being challenged and changed, so he must keep watching for our expectations. When he runs ahead on our walks, W or I may suddenly turn and go the other way. His collar tightens. He gets no warning, just feels the consequence. After two walks yesterday, he's walking beside us, no pulling, no lagging, glancing our way every few yards.

He's eager to please, so he's easy to train. Spike is not allowed to leave a room without permission: we have to watch for marking until he's fully trained to our house. (Thankfully, he was neutered by the shelter.) He'll walk to the door of my office, put one foot over the sill, and stop on "No." Then he runs back to be petted and told, "Good dog."

It's easy to learn the rules when they are consistent. Spike's in a completely new environment, but his willingness to learn helps him negotiate the unknowns. If we'd imposed our house-rules on his old situation, he might have been confused. When expectations are clear at home or work, people thrive. However, when rules change mid-way through a job or situation for us, it can be disconcerting. We may find ourselves unable to please because we don't understand the shifting parameters. Too many changes or inconsistency may discourage us or make us fearful. A slap or a stroke, which will it be today?

He doesn't get everything he wants but he gets enough. Spike would like me to play with him all day long. He'd run through the house doing who knows what, or spend a great deal of time standing on his hind legs in front of the aviary, watching the birds flutter up at his approach. He has to fit himself into our schedules and our goals. It won't take long before he'll have settled in completely.

Oh, that we would be quick to accept God's ways for us, mindful of his ways and grateful for his provisions. Sometimes changes and moves are God's way of showing his love for us. If we're like Spike, going with the flow and accepting his good will, God brings us into safety, care, and new opportunities.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Change of plans

We don't hear from the foster home in Portland. Meanwhile, a shelter in Richland calls to say we can have Spike, the rescue poodle mix. At 12 lbs, he's a bundle of 3-4 year old energy. His adult dog fee is $100. For that, he's been neutered, his ears were cleaned, and he's on meds to get rid of the infection that festered inside. His teeth are scraped, nails are clipped, and his hair... oh, his hair has gone from a matted mess to a patchwork of razor burns (overly enthusiastic vet's assistant) and grooming (subsequent patch-up visit to the groomer.)

He's coming home with us Wednesday because I couldn't wait until Saturday to get him. I fell in love with his funny face online, so I can't wait to meet him and his foster mom Teri. She's a kind heart who takes in dogs to romp and learn pack behavior alongside her own two dogs.

We'll take her out for supper that evening, of course. It's our small token of thanks to all volunteers who care for the animals. THANKS, everyone. Means a lot to people like us who benefit by your hard work.

We have 'stuff' - extra (though worn) bedding for 8 or 9 crates that we'll drop off at the shelter. People gave us organic dog food, a crate and collar, and offered good deals on a pen with a roof, a car/bike/backpack carrier, and a porta-potty.

C'mere, Spike! We're ready for you. (We think!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One week away

This morning, we were hopefully approved to adopt a bonded Bichon Frise twosome. Jack, a 7 year old male, and Jill, a 15 year old female, should be ready for rehoming with us a week from tomorrow. They're getting their teeth cleaned in Portland before coming our way.

My husband is less excited about this than I am: he goes off to work each day, while I'm home, having recently retired to study for an advanced degree. Our kids are grown and more gone than here. I can't hang out with the neighbors all day. So the house is often quiet, and I'm ready for companionship while I study and work around the place.

I was thinking about getting another little poodle, but our kids were weird in their teens by our wonderful princess mini-poodle, Katy. They wouldn't walk her or be seen with her in public. (Boys! embarrassed. So insecure.) I also considered adopting an adult chihuahua, but they seem pretty yippy and shed a lot of hair. I'm used to grooming and appreciated the non-shedding poodle hair. Bichons are supposed to be lively and cheerful, as well as fairly non-shedding.

Jack's healthy and Jill, almost blind from cataracts, is otherwise in good shape. Their life expectancy is 12-17 years, so we'll see how long she'll be with us. They sleep in a crate together and look out for each other, so I have to adopt both. They were pets with an elderly couple who went into care.

The fee? $75 per senior dog from the Bichon Rescue. I'm really looking forward to meeting them. This rescue requires no home visits, just references, phone interviews, adoption forms, and approval. Apparently the adoption success rate is high.

Looking forward to our new family friends!