Chew This – Not That!

For reasons that I’ll address in length tomorrow, I spent a lot of time in bed today doing things like reading (read: sleeping) and scouring the internet for job ideas and life paths (read: watching YouTube videos.)

IMG_5353I am sorry if I post too much about my dog (I’m not, I’m reallllly not) but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this video with my favorite followers (yes, that’s you!) and those pet lovers who may stumble across my online repository of thoughts…

Why is it so hysterical when your dog is under your covers?  Why don’t they remember the things you JUST talked about?  How come my dog loves cheese but the internet says it’s going to kill her? Why did she have to roll around in the dog park today when I gave her a bath 24 hours before?! I’ve related to every moment of this at some point in the last year.

Enjoy!

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Small Miracles are All Around Us

Walking to training class today, I was thinking to myself about how Darcy was never going to graduate.  And how it’s a huge bummer because she is very good at home.  She listens like… maybe 70% of the time and she’s great at her commands.  But she won’t perform in class and they’re never going to believe me when I tell them she  listens.

However, when we got to class, a miracle happened.  Darcy sat on command.  She listened to her name.  She laid down while I stood up (since clearly we both had to lay down for learning purposes.) She stayed.  She attempted to heel.

Today – my little dog GRADUATED OBEDIENCE 1!!!

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When the instructor made the announcement I said “Stop! Are you serious?!  I never thought we would graduate!”  Demonstrating strong confidence in my dog’s abilities.

Mutual thrill level

Mutual thrill level

As a reward we bought a duck foot treat.  She didn’t put it down the whole walk home.

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Therapy Dog Certification – we’re so close!! Just a lot of more steps to go!

Therapy Dog: 101

Yesterday was Darcy’s first Obedience 101 training.  I was so excited.  I figured by the time we walked out of her first class she would know how to do back flips and speak French.  It was going to be fantastic.

The entire class was a nightmare.  My dog, who lives on a strict diet of treats, more treats and the occasional meal, wouldn’t even acknowledge the beef liver and chicken scratch bribes I brought for her.  She acted like she’d never heard her name.  She wanted to smell the equipment, she wanted to growl at the other dogs, she wanted to lick the floor.  I have a lot of nightmares, but this was one I wasn’t waking up from.

It was the longest and shortest hour of my life.  Longest because I couldn’t control her but shortest because I kept waiting for things to click in her mind until all of the sudden class was over.  It was exhausting – emotionally for me, and physically for Darcy, who had me carry her the whole way home.

I was distraught.  My dreams of my two footed, three and a half legged therapy dog had been dashed.  I’ll always have to pay for her to fly on an airplane.  She’ll never be welcomed into a restaurant.  Hospital patients will have a restraining order against her.  How will she ever inspire babies born with abnormalities or military amputees? That was going to be the plot of my third book!

She stared at me like this until I picked her up.

She stared at me like this until I picked her up. Great smile though…

This morning I thought I would give it one more shot.  The training place was lucky that since I had already bought a package of five (cough – ten) classes, I have to go back.  And I don’t want to be that girl with the dog who doesn’t graduate.  We may be Queens of Mediocrity, but we are not failures!

So we gave it a try.  And lo and behold, Darcy is a genius.  She knew the hand motions for sit immediately.  She remembered her name! After a decent amount of practice, she mastered “down.”   When my dog is at home and not distracted and when she is being showered with treats and praise she is literally the smartest dog on the planet.  I cannot be more thrilled.  Don’t worry child hospital psychiatric wards – we are on the way!

One Man’s Trash is Another Girl’s Dream Dog

During the colder months whenever I felt sad, I would Google three things: 1 – Real estate in New Orleans, 2- The average annual income of a family of four in Mississippi, 3- Handicapped animals.  I think I felt like if I could get out of the chill, help someone or remember that I made a decent salary, it would cheer me up.

Last March when I did this, I ended up with a puppy named Darcy.  And goodness did she have a story…

Darcy was born in August, 2013 in Puerto Rico with no back feet.  One of her back legs reaches the ground and has a full pad and the other leg isn’t fully grown and has a small pad.  I’m not sure exactly what happened to her for the next four months, but on New Years Day, 2014 she was found in a bag full of Christmas trash in a dumpster off of a nauseating place called Dead Dog Beach.  A number of islands, Puerto Rico especially, are infamous for animal abuse.  People visit Dead Dog Beach daily to dump, mutilate or murder dogs.  I’ve read a number of stories and news articles and will spare the gory details but when I watch my dog run around in the dog park or hear her cry when I leave my house, I struggle to imagine how anyone could treat an innocent animal the way some awful people do.

She's always prepared for a tornado

She is always prepared for a tornado

But hiding is not her strong suit

But camouflage is not her strong point

But back to Darcy – she was taken to Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico – one of the fabulous humane societies who does their best to save and rescue the animals of Dead Dog Beach.  She was rehabilitated, spayed, vaccinated and in March she was cargo shipped, along with a number of other dogs, to Vermont. Once in Vermont, Darcy was sent to another incredible organization, Random Rescue, where she was then sent to live with her foster mom, Val.  At this point, Darcy was 7 months old – imagine the whirl-wind that was her first 7 months of life.

When I found Darcy, formally Nutmeg, online, I didn’t necessarily think it would work out.  I had applied for dogs before and never heard back.  But the signs were all there.  Her name was Nutmeg – my name was Meg.  We would be like Dr. Evil and Mini Me.  She was in Vermont which, according to Google Maps was 6 hours and 29 minutes away – something that spoke volumes to a girl who’s birthday was June 29.  Sure enough, I heard that my application had been reviewed, my reference had been called, and if I wanted I could set up time to speak with her foster mom.

Val was fantastic and told me all sorts of sweet lies – she doesn’t chew shoes (tell that to my closet) she is so loving (tell that to the little girl in the park last week) she doesn’t bark (tell that to the dogs across the hall.)  I’ll never forget her telling me she didn’t have much land, only 14 acres, but Nutmeg seemed to really enjoy the outside.  It was ironic considering I live in an apartment that is 1400 sq/ft.

The decision was made.  That weekend, my friend Fire Alarm and I hopped in the car and made the 6 hour and 29 minute (each way) trip up to Vermont.  It was a long, long trip.  My favorite part was when we hit the Massachusetts border and Fire Alarm asked me what my plan was if I decided I didn’t want the dog. To which I responded …that was a question for New Jersey.

We met Val, her two grandsons and now Darcy in the Yankee Candle parking lot.  I’ll never forget it.  Darcy looked at me with complete disinterest and my immediate thought was oh my God my dog doesn’t like me.  Val and her family had made her a blanket (that she still sleeps with every night) and told me that it was going to be sad to lose her. The worst part was after I signed the papers and we said our goodbyes how distraught Darcy looked when Val walked away.  Here she was – 7 months old, being moved yet again.

IMG_9266IMG_9263During the ride home she just sat there.  She would either fall asleep standing up or just stare at me from Fire Alarm’s arms.  She wouldn’t go to the bathroom, she wouldn’t eat anything, she just stared.  She was skinny.  She was shedding like crazy.  I can’t imagine what was happening in her head.

Once I got home it seemed like a good time to tell my parents.  My mother said “that dog is not coming into my house” (never the animal lover, that one – but things sure have changed) my dad said “it’s nice to have a companion.”  My youngest brother said “she’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.”  My other brother came over and acted like he was an Uncle for the first time.

A year has passed and so many things have developed.  Darcy has reached her ideal weight of 12 pounds.  She’s so happy.  She loves my parents – whenever she goes to their house, they yell “DARCY” and she runs in like it’s the greatest place in the world.

She has bad dreams at night sometimes.  When I wake her up she’ll run away from me – which always makes me wonder what else she went through. She has trouble jumping without the full footed leverage she was supposed to have.  She hates when something touches her back feet/stubs and she’ll only walk on her front legs when that’s the case.  But with the way she runs around, you would never know she was disabled.

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She is protective.  She thinks Roommate (who also did not want her at first) is the most popular girl ever.  She’s a huge Saints and Phillies fan.  She loves to chase birds.  She hates baths.  She is a trooper about getting dressed up. She chews her stubs. Her favorite toy is a stuffed bunny that is her size.  She has a bright pink crate. She loves cheese.  She’s my baby and she has a family that loves her.  I cannot believe anyone would ever have not wanted her.  But God am I glad they didn’t.

Today I signed her up for obedience classes and agility training.  And if all goes as planned, in a couple of months Darcy will be a certified therapy dog.  When I adopted her it was because I wanted to help someone – I wanted a dog that no one else wanted.  Imagine how many lives she could touch with her story – pending a little training. Don’t worry – I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

Check her out on Instagram #twopawsonestub

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She has a huge crush on Chase Utley

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Her only tricks is that she runs around in circles when I say Who Dat