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Tonight the Part of Harry Callahan Will Be Played By . . .

Like a rebellious teenager when her parents leave her in charge of the house, I stay up extra late and eat more sugar than usual when my husband is out of town. This may sound boring, but my parents only left town once when I was a teen and my grandparents lived across the driveway (seriously, they were our neighbors), so this is all I’ve got, folks. And wild parties aren’t any fun without the Mister’s brilliant hand at the bar or Sasa on the trampoline, so here I am, listening to the clock tick toward midnight.

Please play along . . .

If your dog or cat (or turtle, chinchilla, rabbit, bird, et al) were a Hollywood actress/actor or movie character, who would he or she be? I ask this because tonight Mick had a little growling fit and all I could think of was Clint Eastwood and a dozen of his movie roles. Mick seemed to say, “Go ahead, make my day” any time another pooch crossed his path.*

So, dear readers, I beg you: make my night 🙂

Much Love,

the Insomniac

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…
~William Wordsworth, “To Sleep”

*No offense to Gary Swanson, of “Vice Squad,” who is first credited with the line, “Go ahead scumbag, make my day,” but Clint now owns the line in Hollywood legend.

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The Bzzzzzzzz . . . .

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.
Jane Austen

To my friends and family who follow the blog and to my blog buddies, thank you for your patience. I am beginning a new work routine and the writing has suffered a tumble to the bottom of the list. Well, not the bottom, but it is hovering only slightly above the luxury of pedicures and the dismal chore of weeding flower beds.

The puppies have GROWN — immensely! They are beautiful and sweet, hilarious and entertaining. Charlie is a fluffy little angel, fairly relaxed, but playful. She’s also making her brothers look like little slobs, choosing the piddle pad over the tile floor. I’m so proud! Bravo, who you may recall was the delicate little man when I brought them home, is burly and strong, his rather short coat revealing a muscly body ready for play. He’s the most adventuresome of the trio — we’ve had to chase him out of our closets and he stands on the gate, shoving his tiny nose through to sniff at the larger dogs. Precious Alfa looks like a furry Yoda and has fallen behind the others in growth, making him only more adorable. He is by no means fragile, however, and loves to roll and tumble with his siblings, as well as the occasional shoe.

Duke had an extended play date with Princess Mocha, Sara’s lovely chocolate lab. I am sure he is now more spoiled than before, but, really, isn’t that what having pets is all about? Any dog behaviorists may keep your answers to yourselves 🙂 I do realize the importance of discipline and training for the well-being of both human and animal, but who doesn’t love a little spoiling in good measure?

Dylan has left for an extended stay in Colorado and all the dogs, but particularly Mike, took some time relaxing after the change. Mike had never become completely comfortable with Dylan and I imagine the poor fella was watching for Dylan’s reappearance at any moment — you know the way we humans (even Muggles!) apparate and disapparate on whim. So, Mike has been more wary and a tad more bark-y of late. I’m sure it will pass.

The last thing I’d like to share is this: if my stories touch you in any way, I beg you, please please please look for ways to help the animals of your communities. You don’t have to foster or adopt. You don’t have to donate money or walk dogs. You can. And I will say it’s a great feeling. I love it! It’s not always easy, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I jumped on board the crazy train. This morning, Cherry Blossom, Sara’s yoga studio, my “work” place, hosted a fundraiser for Friends of BARC (BARC is the shelter where I volunteer). We gathered donations (monetary and pet goods), had a small raffle and taught a special workshop, donating the funds to FoB. It was a blast. The outpouring of our yoga family was sincerely touching. We simply did what we could do. That’s all I’m asking. Again, it isn’t always about money (though that helps) and it isn’t all about time (though that’s nice) — it’s really about awareness. Something as simple as cross-posting a picture and story of an animal in need is a contribution. Your signature on a petition regulating (and, admittedly, I’m not a fan of a lot of regulation) puppy mills or some other act that protects our four-legged friends is a contribution. Lend your voice. It’s more powerful than you may know.

I will now relinquish my soap box and work on a new post . . . a post of puppies on the move!!

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Gallery IV

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Another Day in the Dog House

Ah, where to begin . . .

It’s been a very busy week around the dog house. The puppies have grown SO much, their eyes are now open and they can no longer be trusted to stay in their nest. Alfa is tipping the scales at a hefty 264 grams and little Charlie’s not far behind at 260 grams. Bravo seems the steady gainer at 256 grams. As I said, all eyes are open – the milky baby blue that will likely turn to some shade of brown – and after hours of googling puppy pics, I can say the tinies look a bit like the “designer” dog Ratshire Chihuahua. Yes, there are people who breed and sell puppies that take the Rat Terrier/Yorkshire Terrier mix and add in a dash of Chihuahua. The dogs are adorable, but I am currently constructing a soap box from which to rant about the foolishness of such breedings. When I was a kid, there were pure breeds and mutts and you could find both at the local shelter. The same is true today.

Mick, our Basenji, still struggles to accept the presence of the two adult fosters, Mike and Duke, but shows an odd tenderness to the babies, issuing a warning growl to the other dogs when they draw too close at bottle feedings. The scrappy little fellow has picked fights with massive Duke, but gently cleans the little ones, enjoying the warm, sweet mix of milk and pumpkin that spills from the corners of their mouths (at some point, I’ll create a page on my neonatal experience, explaining the pumpkin, but suffice it to say, the pumpkin was a lifesaver).

Bailey and Duke show little interest in the puppies and, unfortunately, Mike is indiscriminate in his taste and I have to keep all the soiled bedding well out of reach. To switch gears a bit, however, Mike is showing loads of progress in his fearfulness. Though he seems to meet Dylan, my teenager, with new eyes every day, he has finally allowed Dylan to approach and will, on occasion, lick his hand and accept a scratch behind the ears. Duke is still the showboat. He will need a very smart owner. Last night, I gathered all the toys (which Duke loves to hoard) and placed them in a little lidded basket I keep by the back door for pet supplies. I’ve done it before, but not in his presence. I wanted them out of the way so I could vacuum. In a moment of distraction commonly described as ADHD, I began unloading the dishwasher and making a cup of tea rather than sticking to the task at hand. As I stood at the counter, cradling my warm mug and enjoying the waft of rooibos, fruit and vanilla spice, I spied Duke lurking in the shadow of the pool table. Slinking around a table leg, he craned his neck to the right to locate me and, apparently not realizing I can see, tip-toed Scooby Doo-style to the basket where he gently nosed the lid, discovering he could retrieve his toys. He made trip after trip to the basket, removing one toy at a time, hiding each under the pool table and finding, to his delight, a NEW toy, a plush I’d stored because Mike enjoys nothing more than disemboweling stuffies. Once again, I am astounded at Duke’s genius and determination. His problem-solving ability is such a pleasure to watch and I know I will miss his antics.

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Pushin’ A Rock, Pushin’ A Rock . . .

The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
– Albert Camus

It’s not that I’m against setting goals, it’s that I’m not a fan of epic public failure, so it’s difficult for me to post – all the world to see and all that – a blog stating with certainty that I will publish once a week for the entire year of 2011. But, then, once a week isn’t really that often, right? I mean, even when it’s just a quote I like, I post almost daily to Facebook, so what excuse would I have for failing to post to my blog 52 times over the next 11.5 months?

So, there it is. I’ve made public my intention to blog once a week. Like Sisyphus, I will voluntarily push my rock up the mountainside and look for pleasure, joy, wisdom and meaning in the struggle.

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Gallery III: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie

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Learning the ABC’s

Alfa Bravo Charlie . . . three new foster babies, dumped at the animal shelter less than a week into their lives by, well, honestly, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. I really don’t care, as it is of no consequence. What I do care about is this trio of tinies, named for the first three letters of the ICAO phonetic alphabet: Alfa, the slightly larger male (slightly, because he is 1/2 inch longer than his sibs: a whopping 6″), Bravo, the smaller male, and Charlie, the little sister. According to their kennel card, each pup weighed 0.2 pounds when I brought them home, nestled in a towel-padded shoe box, after a long day walking dogs and showing pups to potential adopters.

If you’ve been following the blog and doing the math, you know we are now the minority species in the house. Keep in mind the title of this blogspot: St. Rocco’s Tails. If Baptists practiced canonization, my husband would most definitely be added to the rolls. Kerry shook his head and smiled as he listened to my story: one of the shelter attendants, Jamaal, a great kid with a big heart and an even bigger soft spot for dogs, approached me as I shuttled puppies (the shelter had been overrun after the Christmas holiday – something close to 100 youngsters surrendered or found stray, most of them larger breed mixes and hard to place) to and from the nursery gallery, hoping a few would find good homes. His head hung low over the shoe box, at the time filled with dirty t-shirts. “They’ve been here all day. I’ve got to find someone to take ’em. They don’t even have their eyes opened.” He’d asked a few of the volunteers before he spotted me. I asked him what he had in the box and he gently turned back the soiled cotton to reveal a huddled knot of black fur tinged with deep brown.

San, a foster mom awaiting the go-ahead to take two other babies home (precious pit or possibly American bulldog mixes surrendered in a litter of nine), gasped, “Oh my gosh! They’re SO small!” They were. Jamaal found some formula for San’s girls and the tiny trio and we sat in an office for a brief feeding. Jamaal then explained a bit about neonatal puppy care:

1. “They need to stay warm, so a heating pad is good.” Check

2. “They’ll need to eat about every two hours or so.” I’ve nursed three kids – no sleep – Check

3. “You’ll need to help them go to the bathroom.” I think I know where you’re going with this, but humor me. You want me to juice a puppy?

I’d read about this recently, so I wasn’t shocked, but anyone who considers fostering neonatals should be aware: you are responsible for simulating the work of the mama dog or cat. Part of that work includes stimulating the wee one’s digestive tract. A mother dog will lick her pup in order to activate digestion, relieve gas and encourage waste removal. We’ve come to think of it as “juicing the puppies.” I gently stroke their backs, bellies and perineums, pretending to be the mommy dog. To take my mind off the subsequent flow of puppy poo into my hand/lap/sink/what have you, I make up silly songs and coo words of encouragement: happy bowels make healthy puppies.

So, here we are on Day Four. I’m replacing the battery in the kitchen scale so we can do regular weigh-ins, but they have grown in length since Saturday:
Alfa is now 8″ long, Bravo measures almost 7″ and little Charlie is at 6.5.” She may be small, but don’t count her out – she’s the most active of the bunch, attempting to crawl from the box, making me very nervous. Alfa’s stools are a little loose, also making me nervous, so we are watching him, adding puppy pedialyte to his diet to keep him hydrated. All of them are cuddlers and I can be found with puppies tucked into my neck or curled over my heart for warmth. I can’t speak for the laundry and dishes – chores take a bit longer with feedings and juicings between to-do items.

I’ll try to update regularly and, when they get a little bigger, we can speculate over their breed. But for now, enjoy the gallery at your peril :0)

Warning: They are dangerously adorable.

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