Sunday, July 15, 2012

The episode in which Darby saves our bacon

I love to read hero dog stories. You know, the ones about dogs who pull babies from burning buildings or save kittens from freezing in the snow and such. And prior to last Tuesday, after reading one I'd look over at Darby and say, "No worries that we'll every put fingers-to-keyboard on your behalf for something nearly so heroic, dude. You may be a wonderful pup and all, but you're no hero dog."

To be fair, I've never expected my dog to be a hero. When it comes to saving me and mine, my only real hope is that he projects just enough of a threat that nefarious types decide there may be easier pickings than our house or, barring that, he alerts us in time for us to save ourselves. Which brings me to last Tuesday.

"I've got my eye on you..."

My husband and I are out in the backyard hanging out with the critters, having just finished dinner. It's all of 6:40 p.m. or so and we're chatting about nothing of any lasting importance when I hear a "shhhhhhhhhhh" sound that, to my ears, registers as someone next door spraying for ants or maybe hosing down some of the ivy that lines the fence between our homes. I hear it a second time --- a shorter burst, but the same sound. Darby hears it, too, and lopes over to the gate, where he immediately goes bat-crap crazy.

This is not a new behavior for the Doodlebug. Darby's been known to nut up about the neighbors when they are too close to the fence for his liking and we're fortunate that the neighbors, while not loving this particular aspect of him, are tolerant of his outbursts, knowing we take him indoors if he doesn't quickly settle down. There appears to be no shot of that happening, as he's flying across the yard, lighting again at the gate just long enough to unleash another torrent of barking.

"O.K. dude, let's hit the house," I say, as the spouse gets up from his chair and opens the door. Darby bolts inside and heads straight for the front door where the window gives him another opportunity to display the breadth and volume of his vocal skills. It isn't until I get to the door that I realize he's not freaking out at the neighbors. My husband sees the same thing I do from his place at the kitchen window --- two kids, looking between the ages of 13-15. One is on a bicycle at the end of the driveway, the other standing about midway up our driveway.

John gets it before I do and heads out the side door in the kitchen. It's a door that provides immediate access to the front yard and comes in handy when you need to get out front without the dog. I see him in the front yard but can't make out anything he's saying, short of an expletive (insert your favorite one here), before he barrels back into the house, yelling at me to call the cops. That's when I see it: The screen on the side door is cut and torn away from the window, the window itself cracked, with a hole in the corner nearest the doorknob.

"Those little @#*%$ just tried to break into my house! In broad daylight! During the dinner hour! While we were home!" exploded into my brain.

John grabs his keys and heads for the door.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going after them," he replies, locking the door as he leaves.

Standing in the kitchen, how close we came to a really bad night comes into sharp focus. Not 25 feet away from the door evil-little-cretin-#1 tried to bust into sat my purse, my husband's wallet, my tablet and our phones, all easily able to be boosted in seconds, but causing us weeks of grief should they disappear simultaneously.

"Damn, Darby you did it. You ran off the boogers and saved us. You're a hero."

My husband didn't catch the kids, returning home about twenty minutes later. We spent the rest of the night vacillating between disbelief that we came thisclose to being broken in to and being grateful that the Doodlebug stepped up when it was stepping-up-time.

Things are pretty much back to normal now. We're one soon-to-be-completed home-improvement project away from further securing the side door to further dissuade future thieves from choosing our house and we've (almost) stopped giving the evil eye to every adolescent who walks past our front yard.

And whaddya know --- Darby gets a hero dog story.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shift work

"I'm Brin, the cool one."

You know how you read those stories about men having two different families in two different places at the same time? I'm starting to feel a little like one of them.

Bob and Brin (aka "The Strabies") have definitely settled into the ebb and flow of life at Casa de PPCT, especially as it relates to their getting fed and being on the receiving-end of some scritches from the suckers humans. They know we tend to pull our "primary" cats inside when it's getting dark and that Darby (aka "the white devil dog who stops us from being indoor cats like the others") doesn't hang out in the back on his own, so we can pretty much count on seeing their happy, hungry faces within minutes of taxiing Bad Kitty Bo and the gang to the other side of the back door.

That's when the second half of my pet-parent day begins. Bob, especially, expects a little more from us than just a drop-and-dash dry food delivery --- he needs some quality time to go along with it. Brinnie, while being far more laid-back and much less apt to ever want to become a housecat, still appreciates a few sweet nothings being whispered in his ear and a gentle rub around his hindquarters before heading out for his late-night adventures.

"I'm Bob. I like food."
They know the backyard is "safe" - one of the few words, other than their names, that we've taught them. "Safe" means Darby is in the house and they can enjoy the area. Darby would never hurt them, but he loves, loves, loves giving them a good chase which, amazingly enough, they don't appreciate nearly as much as he. We're careful to try and warn them when bringing the Doodlebug out for his evening potty/scope to see if there's any stray cat food bits laying around walk, and they've gotten pretty clear on that routine as well. 

In the meantime, I'm like that double-married dude, with one family in the daylight and another in the moonlight, trying to make sure everyone is getting just enough of what they need that they need not make a big deal out of sharing. Some days it feels every bit as oddly-functionally-dysfunctional as the newspaper accounts I've read, but thus far we're managing to make it work.

Anyone else out there leading a "double" life?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Probably not the review they were looking for

I'm standing in the kitchen near the sink when my husband decides to come over and give me a little kiss on the back of my head. Given that we've been married since back in the days when computers came equipped with floppy disk drives, it's kind of nice that we still do things like exchange little kisses for no particular reason.

Him: "Hey, you're hair smells really nice."

Me: "Thanks. I used the cat detangling spray on it."

Him: "Yeah, right. Sure you did."

Me: "No, I really did."

Him: "Why would you do that?"

Me: "I'm out of hair care products. My hair felt tanglly after I got out of the shower and the bottle was just sitting there on the counter. I looked at the ingredients and didn't see anything that looked too weird, so I figured, why not?"

Him: "Why didn't you just ask me to pick up something for you when I went to the store?"

Me: "Dude, you don't want to go there. Remember when you had to pick out shaving cream for me? You spent, like, twenty minutes reading the backs of the shaving cream stuff to find me the one that wasn't tested on animals. The hair care aisle is like five times bigger than the shaving cream section. I love Bed Head products and Pet Head is the pet side of Bed Head, so really, how different can it be? Plus, I already know it wasn't tested on animals. At least not in the bad kind of way that pisses me off. Anyway, it worked. My hair combed out great and it feels soft and doesn't look frizzy or anything. It's not like the cats were using it --- their hair isn't as tangly as mine was."

Him: "Well, it smells good, anyway."

Me: "Strawberry Yogurt. Says so right on the label."

Him: "Well, I guess you know what you're doing."

Me: "I think as long as you don't see me scratching at the toilet lid, instead of just lifting it up to go to the bathroom, I'm probably safe."

*FTC disclosure - I was given a sample of Pretty Kitty Detangling Spray to review, but I can't imagine this is what they had in mind. Obviously, no money exchanged hands and the opinion expressed here could not possibly be anyone's but mine.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back from posting oblivion

It's been even longer than I thought since I last posted --- hope there are still some folks left on the other side of this blog :)

I hadn't planned to take a break, but September proved to be my most challenging month of this challenging year, or at least that's what I'm clinging to until something else happens. Now that I'm beyond it (because, trust me when I say I'm well-past over it), I have the beginnings of a plan in place to move forward in my life and can get back some of that elusive "balance" I hear about, including carving out some time to stay in the blogging loop. I won't torture you with the gory details, but if you're truly interested, feel free to drop me a line. I can whine with the best of 'em when properly prodded.

The critters are fine (thank dog), other than Weebles' perpetual unhappiness that I've appropriated "her" chair for my writing, studying and general Internetting. We tend to argue about it most afternoons and sometimes I let her win a round, just to keep things interesting.
The Doodlebug is still rocking his short hair, though he's in need of a trim (more of that "balance" thing I'm working on):

Musette continues to be the sweetest little cat on four feet.
Bad Kitty Bo still lives under the impression that he owns the universe, but is kind enough to let the rest of us enjoy the parts he isn't currently using.
And, just for good measure, here's a (bad) shot of Bob the strabie. Some day I'll get a decent picture of him, though it may not be a photo that doesn't include him eating, as that is far and away his favorite thing to do when he and Brin come by. Bob continues to campaign for a more permanent place in our family while avoiding the dog at all costs. He's got a fall sleeping space next to our house, but we'll probably need to do a little better for him once it gets colder, or maybe I should say, if it ever actually does get colder --- where the heck is Fall already?

I'd be remiss without a little a note of thanks to Deb over at Zee & Zoey and to Snoopy's mom for dropping me a line asking where the heck I've been. Sometimes when things seem particularly rough, just knowing that someone thought about you or missed seeing you can change your entire day. So, thank you for that.

More to come soon. Really :) 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rescue Profile: No Paws Left Behind Rescue & Transport

Volunteers Joan Dunham & Cindy Neal
helping secure pets for transport.
Photo courtesy of No Paws Left behind.

Some people spend their lives wondering when “someone” is going to do something to help the homeless pets of Kern County. Then there are people like Teresa Walker, who established No Paws Left Behind Rescue and Transport, a nonprofit organization that pulls pets out of local shelters and transports them to northern California to waiting rescues.

Asked why she has chosen this action to help save pets, Walker said, “I volunteered at the SPCA and worked with two local rescues working to save Kern County shelter dogs. I wasn’t happy with the number of animals I was able to foster, spay/neuter, provide medical care and find loving homes for . The need is so great, and I felt I was not making a difference.  I decided transporting Kern animals to established rescues would allow me to save a larger number of them.”
Thus, No Paws Left Behind was formed. The organization transports pets from Kern County Animal Control as well as shelters in Shafter, Wasco and Delano to established rescues in northern California such as Big Dog Rescue, Wing and a Prayer Rescue, Second Chance Cocker Rescue, Noah’s B’Ark Rescue and the Milo Foundation, just to name a few. No Paws also provides regular transportation for Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo. To date, over 200 cats and dogs have been pulled from local shelters and driven up north where they may live in a safe and loving environment while awaiting their forever home. All rescued pets are spayed or neutered before being adopted and receive medical care if necessary.

Every rescue transport is coordinated between the shelters holding the pets, the rescues accepting the pets and the people with No Paws who are doing the driving. Before each transport, the van used by No Paws has to be cleaned and sanitized, as well as all of the kennels used to hold the animals during the drive. This in itself is an all day process. On transport day, the entire trip from Kern County to the Bay Area and back, typically with several stops along the way, takes approximately 15 hours.

Pets awaiting transport to
Northern California rescues.
Photo courtesy of No Paws Left Behind.
Each trip carries around 35-40 animals, though No Paws has transported as many as 54 in one outing. No Paws utilizes a 12-passenger cargo van that has had the seats removed to make room for the kennels needed to secure the animals for their journey.

When asked about the hardest aspect of coordinating the rescue transports, Walker answered, “Making sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be   there, so things run smoothly.”

All of the work No Paws does to secure new homes for shelter pets is done at no charge to the shelters or rescue groups. The organization relies on donations to their 501(c)3 organization to cover the cost of gas, which typically runs $190 for each round trip.

Interested in lending No Paws Left Behind Rescue and Transport a hand? Head to their website and make a donation towards their next journey. For the cost of a cup of coffee, you can get homeless pets one gallon of gas closer to a forever home.

*Originally written for the Bakersfield Voice


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