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Archive for September, 2012

There’s an equation that most dog owners are familiar with:

Boredom + Dog = Destruction

If a dog gets bored, he or she will look for something to do or eat to pass the time.  Older, more mature dogs may just sleep or find an appropriate chew toy to help relieve the monotony, but younger dogs with an excess of energy tend to create their own excitement.  Any rules you may have regarding appropriate chew items go right out the window.

For instance, in my house, Rule #5, subsection C, states:

“Paper products, which include but are not limited to:  toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, magazines, books and mail, shall remain in the area the human places them and under no circumstances should ever enter a canine’s mouth.  The only caveat to this rule is if your human expressly asks you to bring him or her the paper, unmarred by tooth.”

Now, before you begin to think I’m some sort of severe dictator, you should know that, for one, my dogs have more toys, chew bones, comfy sleeping areas and treats than should be allowed and, two, each dog gets his or her own copy of Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World when he or she moves in and therefore should know what is and what is not allowed.  No excuses–after all, they get free room and board, free meals, free entertainment, live-in friends, exercise privileges, internet access, unlimited television, etc.

Therefore, you can understand my confusion when I found Grimm today, in the bathroom, eating a roll of toilet paper.

Oh, hey, didn’t see you standing there.

Me:  “Ahem…don’t mean to interrupt, but WHY ARE YOU EATING THAT?  Drop the tp, step away from the toilet, and come with me.  You have blatantly violated Rule #5, subsection C, from  Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World.”

Grimm:  “What?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.  What rules and regulations?”

Me:  “Don’t tell me you never read the handbook I gave you when you moved in.  It was the only thing I asked of you–respect the boundaries outlined in this book.”

Grimm:  “Oh, yeah….that book.  Um, I never got to Rule #5.”

Me:  “Well, go get your handbook right now and I’ll go over it with you.  We’re going to make this  a-s  c-l-e-a-r  a-s  p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e.”

Grimm:  “Um, I can’t.  I ate that.  Months ago.”

I was just lying here, minding my own business, when this roll of toilet paper jumped out of the cabinet. It started to attack me! I was only defending myself.

Rainy days like today make me ever vigilant in regard to what Grimm is doing. We can’t get outside to drain his energy and Zella can only play tug and wrestle for so long.  There is another equation I use to determine the amount of mischief Grimm is in:

If Noise = Zero, Then Grimm = Big Trouble

The quieter he gets, the more chaos is brewing.  I don’t know how a dog his size can make such a big mess at times and be so silent about it.  Apparently, he creates his own sound vacuum.  I guess it’s time to get him a new copy of Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World.  We’ll start at the beginning:

Rule #1:  A dog may not injure a human or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm.

Rule #2:  A dog must obey the orders given to it by humans, except where such orders would conflict with the First Rule.

Rule #3:  A dog must protect his or her own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Rules.

Oh, wait.  My bad.  Those are the Three Laws of Robotics and a dog is not a robot.  Like us, dogs are not perfect.  They have wants, needs, desires, same as us.  What they desire, however, and why they want it, may drive us crazy at times, but really, if dogs were perfect, then we’d be bored.  And then we’d be the ones eating toilet paper.

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There’s a term people use for dogs that stay constantly by their owners:  velcro dogs.  These canines are akin to the famous fabric hook-and-loop fastener in that they cling strongly to their person and it can be difficult to separate them. Some velcro dogs will also display separation anxiety and become destructive to property or themselves when unable to be with their favorite human.  I should also point out that some people have separation anxiety from their dogs and actually seek out or encourage velcro behavior.

I, for one, like being able to go to the bathroom without being dogged or hounded by four-legged critters.   Even the terms “to dog” and “hounding” came about from the fact that canines can be hard to get away from.  That being said, I do have a velcro dog.  Yep, that’s right, Grimm is as sticky as glue–Gorilla glue, not the puny Elmer’s variety.  And, alas, if I forget to close the bathroom door completely, private time becomes doggy social hour.  Nothing is more annoying than having a live dog rug underfoot when you are trying to urinate or move your bowels.  No amount of threats or shoving mean anything to a dog when your pants are down around your ankles.  They know a compromising situation when they see it.

Wait…are you going to the bathroom? I’ll come with you. Oh, you’re just throwing away a piece of trash? I better follow you, just in case. I know it’s only twelve feet away from where we are now, but you may need my help. You just never know.

Now don’t get me wrong–I like having a loyal dog.  Loyal as in, “I will warn you of possible intruders” or “I won’t run away with the first person to offer me a tasty treat” or “I will protect you from bodily harm.”  Not loyal as in “I will help you flush the toilet” or “I will trip you when you are cooking hot things because I lay behind you when you are at the stove.”  I like to think Grimm would perform well in all of the first scenarios and I know for a fact  that he can do all of the second ones.  This dog is never more than ten feet from me at all times unless we are outside.  Even then, he will keep me in his sight.

Charley, in his old age, has developed some velcro dog tendencies, but only when indoors.   Really, he is only attached to me when I am sitting down, like when I’m writing or watching something on television.  At times like those, he likes to lay at my feet.  I can deal with that sort of attachment.

Are you fixin’ [Charley is a Texas dog through and through] to sit down? If so, I’m gonna lay on your feet. Hope ya don’t mind, but if you do, too bad. I’m gonna do it anyway.

Zella, on the other hand, is more independent.  She likes to sleep on the couch, away from me and the other dogs, when we are relaxing inside.  She’ll watch me to see what’s up, but won’t follow me room to room like Grimm does.  When outside, she doesn’t run away or try to escape and comes when called, but she doesn’t have to keep me in her sight.

If you need me, let me know. I’ll just be over here lounging on the couch.

George Eliot (who was actually Mary Anne Evans– but I digress) once said:

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults.  Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.

While I agree that we, as humans, seek affection from those who would love us despite our short-comings, attachment and affection are not the same thing. Attachment can become co-dependence, co-dependence can become obsession and obsession can become neuroses.  A neurotic dog is not something I want to encourage.  I don’t want to find Grimm turning into the canine version of Single White Female.

For now, Grimm is working on his stays and learning some independence.  To teach independence, I start by increasing his confidence.  To do this, I work him in scenarios that he is not entirely sure of (like walking through ladders, climbing on unstable (but not dangerous) objects, jumping over obstacles, etc.) so that he learns he can do things by himself.  When I leave rooms, I make him stay on his dog bed and reward him with low-key praise when I return (as long as he stays on his bed and doesn’t come to me–I go to him).  So far, he’s doing well.  He shows great aptitude in learning new behaviors.

I owe it to Grimm to help him foster some independence.  I love the relationship we as humans can have with our dogs.  I don’t, however, need an entourage wherever I go.  We don’t have to be attached at the hip.  As Alex Clare sings, “I don’t want to hurt you, but I need to breathe.  At the end of it all, you’re still my best friend.”
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him
to be worthy of such devotion.”
                                                                                                    — Unknown

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Autumn has officially arrived here in Central Texas.  Acorns are starting to fall from the live oak trees in my yard, goldenrod and ragweed are blooming, and the days and nights are getting cooler.  Squirrels are driving the dogs crazy, my allergies are killing me, and the small town chili festivals are about to commence.

Goldenrods bloom in my yard. These plants are often confused with ragweed, which also blooms this time of year. Ragweed, unlike goldenrod, causes my immune system to go haywire, leaving me (and lots of others) in misery.

Grimm stalks through the ragweed towards the oak trees where the squirrels are taunting him.

Speaking of chili festivals, I came across a funny anecdote that made the email rounds a few years back.  I hadn’t read it in a while, and thought it was time for a resurrection.  Originally, this was said to be an actual account relayed to paramedics at a chili cook-off event.  While I don’t doubt that many people have suffered at the hands of a masochistic chili connoisseur, I cannot verify its authenticity or original author.  However, this story still makes me laugh out loud, especially since I have had similar thoughts when eating some of these ridiculously spicy concoctions.  There’s hot, then there’s HOT.

Recently, a man named Frank was visiting Texas from Springfield, Illinois.  Like most tourists, he thought it would be great fun to experience some of the local flavor.  He decided to attend a local chili cook-off which was taking place that same day.  Unbeknownst to Frank, one of the original three judges of the competition called in at the last minute, regretting that he would not be able to make it to the judging.  The other two judges were at a loss as to what to do.  At that precise moment, Frank found himself at the judge’s table asking for directions on how to get to the Coors Light vendor.  Using their native Texan ingenuity, the judges asked Frank if he would like to fill in.  He was assured by the two judges that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy and, besides, he would have all the free beer he wanted during the tasting.  Luckily for them, Frank was up for the challenge and became Judge #3.  Unfortunately, Frank found out the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished.  Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

*Chili #1:  Mike’s Maniac Monster Chili

Judge #1:  A little too heavy on the tomato.  Amusing kick.

Judge #2:  Nice, smooth tomato flavor.  Very mild.

Judge #3 (aka Frank):  Holy shit!  What the hell is this stuff?  You could remove dried paint from your driveway with this stuff!  Took me two beers to put the flames out.  I hope that’s the worst one.  These Texans are crazy…

*Chili #2:  Austin’s Afterburner Chili

Judge #1:  Smoky, with a hint of pork.  Slight jalapeno tang.

Judge #2:  Exciting BBQ flavor, but needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge #3:  Keep this out of the reach of children.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain.  I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver.  They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

*Chili #3:  Fred’s Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili 

Judge #1:  Excellent firehouse chili.  Great kick.

Judge #2:  A bit salty, but good use of peppers.

Judge #3:  Call the EPA.  I’ve located an uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano.  Everyone knows the routine by now.  Get me more beer before I ignite!  Barmaid pounded me on the back and now my backbone is in the front part of my chest.  I’m getting shit-faced from all the beer!

*Chili #4:  Bubba’s Black Magic

Judge #1:  Black bean chili with almost no spice.  Disappointing.

Judge #2:  Hint of lime in the black beans.  Good side dish for fish or other mild foods;  not much of a chili.

Judge #3:  I felt something scraping across my tongue, but I was unable to taste it.  Is it possible to burn off your taste buds?  Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills.  This 300 pound woman is starting to look HOT…just like this nuclear waste I’m eating.  Is chili an aphrodisiac?

*Chili #5:  Lisa’s Legal Lip Remover

Judge #1:  Meaty, strong chili.  Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick.  Very impressive!

Judge #2:  Chili using shredded beef.  Could use more tomato.  Must admit, the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge #3:  My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes.  I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics.  The contestant seemed offended when I told her I thought her chili had given me brain damage.  Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer on it directly from the pitcher.  I wonder if I’m burning my lips off?  It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.  Screw them!

*Chili #6:  Vera’s Very Vegetarian Variety

Judge #1:  Thin yet bold vegetarian chili.  Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge #2:  The best yet.  Aggressive use of peppers, onion and garlic.  Superb!

Judge #3:  My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames.  I shit on myself when I farted and I’m worried it will eat through the chair.  No one seems inclined to stand behind me except Sally.  I can’t feel my lips anymore and I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.

*Chili #7:  Susan’s Screaming Sensation Chili

Judge #1:  A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge #2:  Ho hum, tastes like the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment.  I should note that I am somewhat worried about Judge #3.  He appears to be in a bit of distress and is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge #3:  You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin and I wouldn’t feel a thing.  I’ve lost sight in one eye and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water.  My shirt is covered in chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth.  My pants are full of lava to match my shirt.  At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me.  I’ve decided to stop breathing–it’s too painful.  Screw it!  I’m not getting any oxygen anyway.  If I need air, I’ll just suck it through the four inch hole in my stomach.

*Chili #8:  Big Tom’s Toenail Curling Chili

Judge #1:  The perfect ending!  This is a nice blend chili.  Not too bold but spicy enough to declare it’s existence.

Judge #2:  This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot.  Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself.  Not sure if he’s gonna make it.  Poor fella–wonder how he would have reacted to really hot chili?

Judge #3:  <<no report>>

Giant pots of chili like this are found at local festivals known as “chili cook-offs”.

At any rate, fall happens to be my favorite time of year.  The dogs enjoy it, too, and act friskier than normal.  Of course, chasing the squirrels who are looking for acorns adds to the fun.  Grimm really hadn’t seen too many squirrels until we were outside today.  At one time, when I first bought my current home, there were no squirrels to be seen.  The trees in my neighborhood were too small and puny to adequately support a large squirrel population at the time.  Now that the trees have matured, the squirrel families have as well.

The only downfall (pun intended) to autumn is the ragweed and it’s stupid pollen.  I guess chili cook-offs can be dangerous, too.   As long as I stock up on Zyrtec I’ll be able to survive the ragweed pollen explosion.  And, as long as I take my Prilosec and Zantac, I’ll survive the chili festivals, too.  I can’t guarantee Grimm will survive the fall unscathed–those squirrels can really chunk an acorn.

Zella and Grimm clean off after a long day of chasing squirrels.

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Fall seemed to blast into central Texas today.  It was actually cold (only a high of 75 degrees) and raining off and on.  I dread taking the dogs out on days like today because of the mud factor.  The drought has killed off most of the Augustine grass that used to carpet the front part of my back yard, which means that the sparse native grass doesn’t completely cover the clay that is exposed.  With the rain, the clay has turned into the consistency of thick peanut butter, which is awfully fun to clean from dog paws–and by awfully fun, I mean just awful.  I figured, if we’re gonna get dirty, might as well go all out.  So I let all three of them sniff and explore to their little hearts content in the land surrounding my house.

I live in a neighborhood that was developed over old farm and ranch land, so occasionally I find some interesting things when digging in the dirt or when the rain washes some of it away.  Today, Grimm found himself an awesome old bone sticking out of the dirt–the humerus of a cow.  He pried it loose from the dirt and mud and proceeded to parade it in front of Zella and Charley.  Never mind that the bone was old, brittle and dirty.  Grimm had it and they wanted it.  So, the game of bones began.

Zella tried brute strength–she tackled Grimm and grabbed the end of the bone sticking out of his mouth.  They toiled back and forth, but no matter how hard Zella tried, she could not get a firm enough grip on the condyle portion jutting from Grimm’s mouth.  In frustration, she gave up.  Grimm taunted her some more–come on, come get this from me…if you dare!

Since brute force wasn’t in her favor, she tried a new tactic more in character with her sex–intimacy.   She ran up to Grimm, mounted him and thrust so hard against him that she knocked him down to the ground.  Now, I know in dogs this is more about dominance and, in Zella’s case, frustration.  Her assault, however, caused Grimm to drop his bone.  Grimm jumped up, momentarily forgetting the bone, and proceeded to wrestle with Zella.

While this skirmish was playing out, Charley watched from the fringes.  As soon as the bone fell from Grimm’s mouth, Charley watched for the perfect moment to dart in for the steal.  As soon as Grimm went chasing after Zella, sans bone, Charley skulked in and started gnawing on the bone.  Grimm heard the scrape of tooth on his prize and ran back to liberate his haul.  Grimm ran up and wrenched the bone from Charley’s grasp.  The bounty was his!  The game of bones was won!

Watching them struggle to gain the bone was exactly like the canine version of Game of Thrones.   There was deceit, sexual overtures and dirty, grueling battles.  The only thing missing was a dwarf–maybe next time we’ll invite the neighbor’s chihuahua to the game.  I finally stepped in and took the bone for myself and hosed all the dogs down.  I cleaned off the bone and let Grimm have a few moments of kingly glory.  After all, winter is coming–the bleak days ahead will not be favorable for playing the game of bones.

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A cad is defined as a man (or in this case, dog) who acts with deliberate disregard to another’s feeling or rights.  This type of person (or dog) usually knows what is morally acceptable and, most times, acts like a decent enough sort.  However, when presented with temptation or exposed to stress, the ruffian returns.

Lately, this is how Grimm has been behaving.  And really, I think it’s because he has been watching too many episodes of  Breaking Bad.  I overheard him telling Charley that he was going to make him his bitch.  When he takes his daily dose of ivermectin/liquid vitamin supplement via syringe each day [he’s being treated for demodex], he slurps it down, then he rolls his eyes back in his head and exclaims, “That’s some sweet, pure-ass shit, yo!”.  I then tell him to watch his doggy mouth.

Grimm apparently now thinks the life of a methamphetamine cook and dealer “is the bomb”.  I told him that those labs frequently turn into bombs and that although I, too, enjoy watching Breaking Bad, I’m not about to let him turn to a life of crime.   I don’t think he really paid attention to what we discussed because this is how I found him today:

I asked him what the heck he was doing with my old chemistry book.

“Learning to cook meth, yo.  Like Jesse Pinkman and Walter White.”

I don’t think so, my friend.  Now I understood why the kitchen cabinets had been raided and the Sudafed was on the counter. He had all the pyrex dishware out and the latex gloves were thrown on the floor.   He has been up to no good.

Seriously, though, he has been acting like a big jerk lately–eating mail that he steals off the counter, pestering Charley, bolting out the door when I tell him to stay.  He is going through his rebellious stage and has forgotten (temporarily, I hope) all of his good manners.  Don’t get me wrong–he can still turn on the charm when he needs or wants something that he is unable to get himself.  He has just been…more calculating lately.  I told him if he didn’t shape up, I was sending him to boot camp.

For now, he gets no television privileges.  He gets crated (i.e., sent to jail) when he acts out and he has to earn every piece of kibble.  I’ve been trying to drain some of his excess energy by running him ragged.  He’s slowly coming around.  He better, if he knows what’s good for him.  Charley is getting tired of putting up with his juvenile-delinquent antics.  Grimm better watch out–I saw Charley wearing a pork pie hat the other day.   Heisenberg may be coming.

I AM the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!

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While outside today, I almost stepped on the toad frog below.  This toad’s nearly perfect camouflage allowed it to blend seamlessly into the background. The irony, however, is that this same adaptive strategy, meant to protect and disguise this frog from predators, worked so well that it almost caused this toad to be squished.  To be fair, this camouflage also makes the toad invisible to prey–if only I were a juicy grub or beetle.

Nature has perfected the art of camouflage.

At the last second, right before my foot fell, the toad leaped up and hopped away.  Needless to say, I gave a little yelp (okay, I sorta squealed like a girl, but that’s okay because I am a girl).  Grimm, who was walking with me, also jumped and he did scream like a little girl (he pretends to be tough, but he’s my cowardly lion, er, pit bull).  He then proceeded to try to sniff the toad, but the toad continued his strategy of just hopping away.  Finally, when the toad could go no further, he just hunkered down as low as he could go.  At this point, I knew that the frog’s secondary defense mechanism would be used if Grimm kept his pursuit.

Pictured above is the Texas toad (and this happens to be the official state amphibian). The swellings behind the eyes are the parotoid glands.

The Texas toad (Bufo speciosis), like other toads, has two glands on top of it’s head just behind the eyes called the parotoid glands.  These glands secrete bufotoxin, a neurotoxin that can cause irritation to the mucous membranes, nausea, and other symptoms depending on the exact chemicals in the excreted substance.  If you have ever seen your dog shake his head, paw at his mouth, drool or salivate excessively after licking or eating a toad, this is the chemical responsible.  This species of toad usually doesn’t pack enough punch to be truly dangerous to a dog, but other species can cause problems, especially if you have a small dog squaring off with a more venomous toad frog.

Grimm seriously wanted to lick (or eat) this old toad.  I didn’t want to deal with strings of dog drool and I wanted to keep the frog around for insect control, so I scooted the bumpy amphibian under the house, away from doggy lips.  Grimm was disappointed to see his frog prince escape.

What is that bumpy, jumping thing?

A whole knot of toad frogs lives around my house (and yes, a group of toads is called a knot).  Because these amphibians are mostly nocturnal, I don’t usually see my bumpy friends during the day.  When I water the front flower beds in the evenings, these bulldog looking frogs come lumbering out from under all the rocks and stones piled around the porch.  Because of our constant drought here in the Austin area, they need the water.  Not only do I water the plants, but I water the frogs, too.  They repay me by eating the bugs that are drawn to the front porch lights–my own little ecosystem in action.

Grimm’s still a little disappointed that I didn’t let him kiss a frog.  He’s under the impression that the toad would have turned into something grand.  I told him he’s been reading too many fairy tales.  Besides, I have a suspicion that the frog in the tales stayed a frog.  Too much bufotoxin can cause some amazing hallucinations–maybe even causing a lowly amphibian to look like a handsome prince.  Mother nature is an awesome chemist.

Toad, come back!

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Yesterday was Grimm’s first birthday.  I haven’t had him for a whole year, though, only about nine months.  The picture above was taken the first day I took him home.  He was a fat, wiggly pup of about eleven weeks when I first laid eyes on him.  You would not have known that he was sick.  He was placed in a kennel in the in-patient ward, my area of seniority in the veterinary hospital, waiting on his fate.  A parvovirus test was running–if it was positive, his owners were going to euthanize him.  If it was negative, well, maybe they would treat him.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of parvo pups.  Parvo is a horribly nasty virus; it destroys rapidly growing cells, especially those in the blood marrow and the gastrointestinal tract.  This leads to vomiting and bloody, mucous-filled diarrhea. The electrolyte imbalance and fluid loss from this disease also contribute to a dog’s rapid decline.   Because of the insult to the gut, normal enteric bacteria can easily cause sepsis and death.  Most parvo cases need IV fluids, antiemetics, antibiotics to combat secondary infection and other parenteral support.  This can be costly, and even the best managed cases don’t always have a favorable prognosis.

Grimm’s test came back positive (although at the time, he was called Capulin).  I was busy triaging other patients, so I wasn’t really paying attention to his results.  After all, he hadn’t technically been turned over to my care, and I had other priorities.  However, I did hear the technician who was in charge of his case say, “Put an IV catheter in him–they’re going to euthanize.”  That got my attention.  The conversation between the technician and her supervisor continued:

“The black pit bull puppy?”

“Yeah, they don’t want to treat him.”

“They don’t even want to try minimal outpatient care?  Is it a money issue?”

“I don’t know, maybe.  They just want to euthanize.”

This was when I piped up.  “I’ll take him.”  At first they didn’t hear me because of all the chaos in the treatment area.  So, louder, I said again, “I’ll take him.” Everybody sort of got quiet and looked at me like I’d grown two heads.

“I’ll take him.  See if they will sign over ownership;  if they do, I’ll treat him.”

My manager asked, “What are you going to do if he makes it?”

“Keep him, of course.”  No one but me would want him, I thought to myself.  He was a pit bull and most people don’t want or aren’t prepared to handle that particular breed of dog.  He was going to be big and he was black.  Even in this day and age a stigma exists against big, black dogs.  They may not be considered hellhounds anymore, but they still get overlooked by most adopters because no one wants a plain, black dog.  I have a crazy belief that all dogs are beautiful (can you tell I’m a dog person?) but I tend to really like the big black dogs with big, fat heads.

They say you should be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  I had been looking for another male pup to add to my household.  Charley was getting older and I wanted to bring another pup in while he was still around.  Older dogs can be amazing teachers to the youngsters and a confident, gregarious dog like Charley would be invaluable in teaching a pup good dog manners and social skills.  Plus, Zella needed a younger friend to play with.

I perused all the online listings of the local shelters and rescue groups.  Just when I thought I had found the perfect candidate, I would discover that the pup had either already been spoken for or already adopted.  I was starting to get discouraged, but then I saw a listing on Petfinder showcasing  a Catahoula/American bulldog mix litter of pups.  They had several boys available and they were all merle colored, like Charley.  I was going to look at them the next day.  I never did.  Grimm came along instead.

Life has a way of working out.  I needed a dog and Grimm needed a person. Zella needed a buddy and Charley needed an apprentice.  All of us needed each other.  I’ll never forget the look on Zella’s face when I brought Grimm home two days later.  Her eyes got wide and she started to wiggle around and dance in a circle.  She looked at me with a grin on her face, looked at Grimm, and looked at me again.  Is this for me?, she seemed to ask.  He’s for all of us, my friend.  And we’re all for him.

Happy Birthday, you big black dog.

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