Category: dogs

D-Day in Denver

Today was D-Day here in Denver … Dog Day for yours truly.

This is my new bff and roomie, tentatively named Jessie Annie:

She’s about seven months old and the guess is she’s a golden/lab mix (“glab”). She’s come all the way from Holton, KS, where she was picked up as a stray. As I understand it, a woman fondly referred to as “Kansas Betty” plucked her from a shelter as a “keeper” and arranged for her transfer to Denver’s Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue organization about two weeks ago. My app was approved a couple of days ago, and despite the huge snowstorm that hit the area late Thursday, I was able to get to GRFR’s adoption event today at Petsmart and pick her up.

Somewhere along the line in Holton, she received her rabies vaccination and was spayed. Her spay tattoo is a heart with a “J” in it, so after a quick Internet search I concluded she had been spayed by the Heart of Jackson Humane Society; Holton is in Jackson County. It can’t have been long ago; the coat hasn’t grown back over the the tattoo yet or over the shaved patches on her legs.

A lot of good people put in a lot of effort to finally deliver her to me today. My part was easy — driving about twenty minutes south and west on wet sloppy streets to get to Petsmart. Jessie’s foster mom came all the way up from far south Denver, where they always get more snow than we do on the north side, and she had about an hour’s drive, starting with the two feet of snow in her neighborhood.

The adoption event was fun, if a bit chaotic. Lots of goldens and golden mixes had been brought in by their foster parents from all over the area, and I hope many of them were adopted today. I’d forgotten how big a mature male golden can be. Beautiful, of course, but I was glad Jessie was smaller, more what I’d call medium-sized by comparison. A good size for me.

She’s been so sweet and mellow through this whole thing. Interested in everything, but not bouncing off the walls. She slept in the back seat all the way home. She’s barked only when we were outside and the dogs next door barked. She thought about sniffing things on the counter — once — and backed off immediately with one quiet “no.”

Actually, I’m still sort of “trying out” the name Jessie. She came to Denver with the name Sunny; her foster mom fudged on that by calling her Honey. Since it’s kind of up for grabs for the next little while, I’m trying to decide what I’d really like long-term.

Her spay tattoo is something I’ve not seen before but apparently it’s becoming more common. When a shelter or spay clinic spays an animal, they mark her belly with a tattoo of some kind, which saves her from any possible unnecessary spay surgery in the future if she strays or is lost or something, since spay scars don’t always remain clearly visible.

I thought if I was going to change her name anyway, I’d try a “J” name. The tat will probably be mostly hidden when her coat grows back, but I like knowing it’s there. It’s good identifying mark on a relatively unremarkable dog (but don’t tell her I said that). I’ll get her chipped, too. It’s cheap insurance for a big emotional investment.

It’s been a long day — especially since I made a second trip to Petsmart to get a larger crate. Jessie crashed in said crate several hours ago and I won’t last much longer. Of course, by then, she’ll probably be up and ready to go again. Ah, the joys of dog ownership.

P.S. I don’t know who took the glamor shots. I didn’t, and the GRFR foster mom didn’t (maybe the rescue folks in Kansas). They are the ones that were on the GRFR website.

Meeting Itamar

Itamar arrives in Colorado

Itamar came to visit yesterday.

The picture to the right is approximately what he looked like yesterday. The other pictures are from the Mississippi organization that rescued him.

I’d already been told he was very shy, very fearful, and he was. Well behaved but totally withdrawn. He settled behind a chair while his foster mom and I talked, and he only reluctantly went into the backyard with us.

The guess had been that he was part yellow lab, and I could see that. What isn’t so apparent in these pictures is that he has a rather chunky head and shorter legs than you might expect. A stocky build. The reason for that was more apparent when I got a note from the Mississippi shelter saying his mom is part yellow lab, part chow chow (not a breed I would knowingly choose). Some chow body type coming through, I’d say. You can see the longer coat in the earlier picture. The pups had to be clipped when their mange was treated, so as good as they look in the bottom picture, they still have a lot of coat to regrow.

Larry and Itamar, Dec. 19, 2008, the day they were rescued. They were found living virtually without shelter with daytime temps in the 20s. Mange had ravaged their coats.
Larry and Itamar, Dec. 19, 2008, the day they were rescued. They were found living virtually without shelter with daytime temps in the 20s. Mange had ravaged their coats.

For the sake of comparison, and to make Itamar feel a little more secure, the handler brought in another pup she had with her, Itamar’s buddy — a gawky black lab type. Talk about night and day! On the one hand, a puppy that didn’t even know how to be a puppy and that acted like an old dog; on the other hand, a slap-happy, awkward, long-legged pup that seemed to be going all directions at once.

After a lot of conversation, the foster mom left with both dogs. I felt guilty, but also thought Itamar maybe would be better served spending more time at his foster home with thirteen other canine friends to play with and learn from. With the two dogs together, I could see that my preference would be for a happy, outgoing dog, even though I’m perfectly capable of taking care of a shy one. The black pup was goofy and adorable, but not yet housebroken, and I hadn’t decided whether I wanted to deal with a dog that young. The second pup lit up that little dark place in my heart in a way that Itamar didn’t, and I need to consider that.

The experience was not a total loss by any means. At least, not for me. I learned more about what I want and don’t want. I got to see how well a medium-sized dog fits in my little house and yard. And maybe best of all, I am now “pre-approved” (as my son put it) for a dog from a nice rescue organization.

Larry and Itamar, Feb. 20, 2009
Itamar and Larry, Feb. 20, 2009. Proper care works wonders.

A rose by any other name

Pet names. For our beloved pets, not our beloved humans. One could write a book about pet names, and no doubt several people already have.

I’m in pet-naming mode again because the dog I’m likely to adopt next week is named Itamar. What kind of name is Itamar, anyway? Having never heard it before, I turned to Google, and apparently it’s the name of an Israeli town. Practically speaking, it would likely get shortened to Itty or something, and that doesn’t do anything for me either, so I’ll probably be changing it.

I obssess over names. The choosing of them. I end up compiling written lists of brilliant possibilities before choosing the perfect one. I want each to be just right, appropriate in every way for the pet destined to get stuck live his life with it. Alas, my results over the years have been mixed. It seems one can over-think the naming thing, and when it comes to over-thinking, I’m a master.

Childhood pets:

  • Sig — a border collie type stray, named for my brother’s best friend; I hope the friend felt appropriately honored, even if he did spell his name Sieg (Seig?)
  • Pooch — a blond cocker type stray who ended up with that name because my dad kept calling him “pooch” and I didn’t know that was just another word for “dog”
  • Tam-o-Shanter (“Tammy”) — a cairn terrier who came with that name; neither he nor I knew Tammy was a girl’s name
  • Bippity Boppity Boo (“Bippy”) — a female toy fox terrier who either came with the name or got it after my mom suggested it
  • Penny — a toy fox terrier, mostly white, with a big copper-colored spot on her rump
  • Charlie Brown — a brown and white “hooded” lab rat, kept after a science fair study concluded

There were many lesser pets — ducks, chicks, rabbits, turtles, fish, parakeets, chameleons, horned toads — whose names I don’t recall; shame on me. In restrospect I’d have to say my mother was a saint to let me keep such a menagerie over the years.

Adult pets (when maturity and good sense supposedly took over):

  • Pookie — a Siamese cat, often invisible, like Harvey the pooka rabbit
  • Genghis Khan (“Genghis”) — a Siamese cat, ruler of the house
  • Chato — an orange tabby that made me think of Native American names
  • Shaman — a blue-eyed part-Siamese cat who looked mysterious and wise
  • Sly — a black-and-white tuxedo cat reminiscent of the cartoon cat Sylvester and with the physical prowess of Sly Stallone; not to mention it seemed like an incredibly cool name for a cat
  • Queso — a feral orange tabby, caught and adopted as a kitten
  • Sarazen Karamazov (“Zen”) — a Samoyed who made us think of Russia and things exotic
  • Tybee’s Autumn Thunder (“Thunder”) — a Golden Retriever purchased in the fall; ironically he turned out to be absolutely terrified of thunder
  • Vonjo’s Nearly Nimbus (“Mousse”) — a Ragdoll cat; “quick, name something fluffy, sweet, and extra special.” Most people probably think the name is Moose, which is also appropriate, as big as he is. He was almost dubbed Nimbus before Mousse was suggested
  • Amber — a delicate little amber-colored sable Sheltie
  • Jumpin’ Zack Flash (“Zack”) — a black-and-white Sheltie; the breeder used movie titles for all her dogs’ names, so I came up with this
  • Bodacious (“Bo”) — a bold, outrageously handsome Brittany
  • Mandy — a cream-colored Golden Retriever, named for the gal in the Manilow song (it was a gal, wasn’t it?)
  • Aggie — a tortoiseshell cat cursed to go through life wearing the Oklahoma State Aggies’ black and orange

I’ll bet most people name their pets quickly. He’s black — Blackie. She’s small — Tiny. He’s hyper — Dizzy. She’s a she — Lady. Bada bing, bada boom. Done. I, on the other hand, dream of the day when I can be as clever as the basketball fan who named his horse NeighNeigh. Or the hockey fan who named his cat Clawed LeMew. I know I’d love my pets just as much if they were named Charlie, or Buddy, or Rover. But still … Itamar?

Sometimes I feel like a nut

As you can see, I’m “rearranging the furniture” again, partly to avoid thinking about the ramifications of the phone conversation I just had.

I finally got up the nerve Monday to send an application to one of the local animal rescue groups that doesn’t require three references and my first-born son before allowing me to adopt a homeless dog, and they just called.

OMG, what have I done. Breathing into paper bag to avoid hyperventilating. Figuratively speaking.

We had a long chat about the dog I inquired about and I was not summarily rejected or told I was a bad person or a hopeless case or anything else. (I know, I know. But I just don’t handle rejection very well anymore. Not sure I ever did.) It sounds like the dog and I might be the good match I thought we’d be, so she’s bringing him here next Wednesday so we can all eyeball each other and my surroundings.

He’s got some issues (don’t we all?). Very shy and quiet, a bit fearful (sound familiar?). Had a really rotten start in life in Mississippi before being rescued and brought to Colorado (the next best thing to dog heaven, as nearly as I can tell). His name is Itamar, for reasons as yet unknown, and I have every intention of changing that to something shorter. We’ll just have to wait and see.

There are some pictures, but somehow I feel I’d be jinxing everything if I post them right now. If things work out, I’ll post them along with the details of his rescue.

After the call, I kept my wits about me long enough to call a trash guy to come out tomorrow and clear some scrap lumber away from my back fence. Currently it’s stacked almost like stairsteps right to the top.

But now I’m babbling because I don’t want to think about all the little odds and ends I have to take care of before Itamar gets here, knowing the effort may be wasted. There’s stuff I know I’ll need, but don’t want to buy if he’s not going to stay. But if he does stay, I’ll need it right away. And there’s all that stuff I wrote about before …

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me at the moment.

My cat’s going to hate me …

I’ll need to take him to the vet right away …

I forgot to ask how well he rides in the car …

My son will think I’ve lost my mind …