Category Archives: Humor

Humanity, Thy Name is Puppy

photo (7)It started innocently enough.  With time on my hands I decided to volunteer for a local dog rescue group.  I had never actually worked with a rescue group, but my husband and I had rescued plenty of dogs on our own, fixed them up, made sure they were neutered or spayed and found good homes for them, that is, when we didn’t keep them ourselves.

I had read about Corridor Rescue, Inc. in the local paper, their founder had recently been recognized by CNN for the work she was doing, and I liked the idea that they took on one of the worst areas of town for animal dumping and cruelty.  The area is off of a major freeway and is so bad that it is known as the Corridor of Cruelty.  Corridor volunteers visit the area everyday looking for abandoned animals and have many feeding stations throughout because it takes a while to get an animal off the street as most are very skittish and you must gain their trust to even get near them.

Beyond all they do for the animals, Corridor is committed to making a difference on the front end, before cruelty or abandonment can happen. IMG_0803 They go into the community and talk to people, build fences so dogs don’t have to be chained, educate pit-bull owners on the horrors of dog fighting and even offer free spaying, neutering, shots and grooming.  Corridor provides dog food for low-income families so they can keep their pets, and they go into the schools and talk to the kids about caring for animals.

My first work with Corridor was at one of their Saturday adoption events, setting up the crates, showing off the dogs to prospective adopters, walking the dogs and giving lots of head and chin rubs.  I loved it and decided to do a bit more so I started visiting some of the rescued dogs at the boarding kennels that were waiting for foster homes and transporting dogs to and from events.   One day a call went out, they had found thirteen lab-mix puppies dumped in the Corridor to die.  At the time, Corridor didn’t have any place for the puppies to go as foster homes are hard to come by, boarding is horrendously expensive and the puppies needed treatment for mange and ringworm.  Corridor’s founder was getting ready to remodel a house so she put up a wood fence and we set up rooms for the puppies in the house – thank goodness it had tile floors.  The Baker’s Dozen project was in business.

The coordinator set up a volunteer schedule so that there would be someone at the house with the pups from very early in the morning to very late at night and I agreed to mornings on the weekdays.  If you’ve ever had a puppy you know how much work they can be and the seemingly endless pee and poop you havIMG_0802e to clean up, now multiply that by 13 puppies.

That first day as I unlatched the gate to the house, I heard them, I opened the sliding glass patio door, went to the rooms and opened the doors, puppies poured out, jumping all over me, running around, barking.   I couldn’t move, trapped by 13 balls of fur, running around my feet, so I started scooting my feet along the floor instead of trying to actually walk so that I didn’t step on one of them or trip and break my own legs.  I herded them towards the living room where they scattered and they are masters at hiding or running off into another room, so I had to count them to make sure they all went out. More than once I only counted twelve only to look down and find a puppy sitting by my feet.   It wasn’t long before I figured out how to block off every room entrance so they could not divert off the path on the way to the back door.

While the puppies play, I clean their rooms.  Rooms are IMG_0805cleaned and fresh papers put down at pretty much every shift, as was done the night before, but when I walked in that room, my jaw almost hit the floor, except I would not have wanted my jaw to hit that floor.  The puppies had used the papers and puppy pads, but they had also torn up all the newspapers, so with newspaper scrap mixed in, I was dealing with a really nasty paper mache mess.  Luckily, their bed and food area on the other side of the room appeared to be their no pee/poop zone – smart puppies. At this point I go in search of rubber gloves and, thankfully, find a box in the kitchen, but when I get back to the rooms, I am also wishing for rubber boots.   After picking and scraping up the debris, including the food and water that they tossed around and the toys and beds, the floor is cleaned with a special antiseptic liquid.  I fill the huge bucket with the cleaner and water and with a gigantic industrial mop, start at one corner and mop my way backwards to the door.  I repeat the process for the other room and then I wait for it to dry, put down clean newspapers on half the floor and close the doors until I’m ready to put the pups up when I leave.  You figure what works after you’ve done it a few times– I got pretty good at it.

During the cleaning, the pups have been playing outside so I scatter dog beds in the living room, put out huge bowls of water and some food and treats, and pee pads because I know that even though they have been outside for an hour, the first thing some of them will do is poop or pee and do not want to haul out the big yellow monster and mop again.   I brace myself and approach the back door. Thirteen puppies are jumping on the glass barking so I slowly slide the door back and as soon as the door is open a few inches they are pushing and climbing over each other to get in like the mobs on Black Friday.IMG_0804

Finally everyone is in the living room, wait, no, there’s only twelve, so I go into the backyard and sure enough, there’s Cadence sitting by the corner of the fence, without a care in the world.  I scoop her up and go inside, trying not to let the others back out.  By this time in the living room there’s lots of running, slurping, crunching, fighting over treats, toys, beds and me, but suddenly like magic they all pass out.  While they nap I sit on the floor, several pups snuggled against me, or I sit on the brick hearth and marvel at the scene before me.  There are puppies everywhere, making small sounds in their sleep, some on the beds, some on the cool floor, but almost everyone is sleeping next to someone else.  Occasionally someone will get up and then plop back down somewhere else, but peace reigns for about 30 minutes.

Soon they are awake, re-energized, and before they can begin to chew on the beds and walls, I shuffle them outside to play a little more and this time I go with them.  I toss toys, hold them, play tug of war, stop a few fights, and occasionally yell “Puppies!” just to see thirteen sweet faces running at me.  Soon it’s time for me to go.  I get up off the grass and they think it’s a game, I now have puppies chewing and tugging on my pant legs so I drag my feet and the attached puppies back inside and start trying to catch them and put them back in the clean fresh rooms.  As I slip them in the rooms, one at a time, the puppies already in the room are trying to get back out.  And, of course, you have to count them again and make sure Sam doesn’t go into the same room with Tansey who chews on Sam’s ears.

IMG_0806I am exhausted, filthy and reek of puppy poo, but I’ll be back.  In an hour or so another volunteer will be there and the routine will begin again, but I’m always sad to leave them, however I’ve got a pack of my own waiting  at home.  As the weeks go by, the pups heal from their various issues, they get their shots, all are spayed or neutered and they grow huge.  Each day more of them find foster and permanent homes and there is less to look after and then one day they are all gone.

Every now and then I see pictures of some of the pups, Lark, little Ellie, Angel, Bella, Sam – they turned out beautifully and I am grateful to have been a small part of that.  Before being adopted or fostered, some of the puppies were part of a short program for juveniles at risk – once again Corridor Rescue did not forget the people of the community.  Under the close supervision of Corridor volunteers, the young men and women handled and played with the pups, were taught proper animal care and made to realize that animals are not possessions to be used and disposed of at will, that they feel love and pain.  I suspect for many of those kids those puppies gave the first unconditional love and acceptance of their life.  I hope if nothing else, maybe a little healing took place, a softening of a heart or opening of a mind, you just never know what sparks a soul.

So many people, noticing what needs to be done and doing it, buying supplies and dog food and transporting back and forth to the vet, all to save some mix-breed puppies tossed out like trash.  Maybe we didn’t change the world, but those thirteen puppies challenged and changed me, and that’s where all real change starts, hands on, one person at a time.

For more information on Corridor Rescue or how to adopt, foster, donate or volunteer, visit their Facebook page

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved.

Note:  Photo 2 and  3 are the property of Corridor Rescue, Inc.  All other photos are the property of itsa5doglife.

The Beasts of the Backyard

MH900446578It’s why we live on the Texas Gulf Coast, those rare perfect weather days.  The temperature is 75, the fields have been mowed and I smell fresh cut grass and  hear flocks of geese as they fly in formation from the inland lakes back to the reedy marshes of the Gulf.  Of course tomorrow the temperature could be 80 or 40 with rain and 50 mph winds, but today is beautiful and my dogs are making me laugh.

My dogs love it as well and spend a good bit of their day lying out in the sun in the cool temperatures – as long as I leave the back door open. For some reason, however, if I close the back door, they rush the door and start banging on it to be let in. Once inside, they fight over who gets to lie in the slim beam of sunlight on the floor. I have two theories about their reasoning in this matter. Either they think that if the door is closed they will miss out on a possible snack because they can’t hear us opening the pantry door (because the last bite of any snack is always shared 7 ways) or they think if the door closes, then they will be abandoned to the outside forever. The first theory has some validity, but the second is just absurd, which guarantees it’s the right one. Now, these are dogs that have lived inside our house since the day they came to our home, they each have their own bed, they lay on our couches and watch TV and there is abundant food available to them at any time. However, let that door close and suddenly they act like orphans from Oliver Twist. “Please please don’t abandon us to the wilds of the backyard, cruel mistress. Our soft padded feet are meant for better things and we are without our sweaters. We are delicate flowers at your mercy and have no snacks.”

It’s just not nice weather days when they act ridiculous about the backyard. Let there be someone working out back which means I have to keep them in the house (in order not to annoy the workers with the substantial amount of canine digging assistance that will be offered) and you will see 7 noses of varying sizes pressed against the glass like they’ve never been allowed outside a day in their life. This, of course, is after they’ve acted like blood thirsty devil dogs snarling and barking when they first see the workers. This is for my benefit for truly their only concern is if the workers brought lunch and know the last bite rule.

The cat doesn’t help the situation. He will parade up and down the porch, preening where they can see him through the glass, like he’s saying, “Look at me, free to be outside, trusted by our dear mistress. Oh, you poor poor pups, I am so very sorry you can’t enjoy being out here for it is indeed lovely to be free.”  This is the same cat that we rarely see from sun up to sun down now in full glorious display on the porch just to torment the dogs.  Thank you Mow-Mow.

Before the dogs go to bed they go out one last time and with the opening of the back door, turn into nocturnal feral hunters of the vile night creatures hiding in the backyard.  I am fairly certain, however, that neither the slugs nor orb spiders are planning a take-down of man or dog-kind anytime soon, but that is a moot point so we move on.   They run through the flower bed,  around the pool, they stand at the far fence corner and bark and snarl threats at the darkness and then run to the other corner and do the same thing and then it’s back to the flower bed to begin again.

At this point it is obvious they have no intention of coming in even though I am standing barefoot in my pajamas waiting.  As usual, the tattletale of the bunch, Peaches, comes back to let me know the others are savages and we should just go in and let the night have them.   I sigh and get out the flashlight and take a step out into the dark, trying not to step on the slugs, and start threatening bodily harm to 6 dogs.  Hopefully no one hears me and takes it serious and calls the SPCA.  I only threaten 6 because Peaches is right beside me making sure I know, yet again, she is a good and obedient dog. Finally, I hear bushes and palms rustling and the padding of paws in the grass – success.  I head back inside and  one by one the beasts slink back inside.  They know I’ve had enough and a bedtime treat is  unlikely, but as they go by with their heads down, their tails are in the air and there are secret smiles on their faces as if to say “It was worth it.”

Goodnight to all.  I wish you grace, contentment, a sharing heart, and compassion for all living things in 2012.

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved

The Lump at the Foot of the Bed

bedI need more sleep. I need the kind of sleep where you actually get to lay flat on your back with your arms stretched out or on your side, without worrying if you roll back over, you will be on the floor. I want to move my legs without having to move eleven pounds of dead-weight dachshund out of the way, only to have that same dead-weight pushed back to my side when my husband decides to move his legs.

The dead-weight is named Shasta and came to our home via Hurricane Katrina, having been abandoned with her sister near a co-workers home. I agreed to adopt one of the pups and we were delighted with how loving and friendly she was, even when she made no bones about the fact that she fully intended to sleep in our bed. Poor little soul, she needs to feel safe, she can curl up with us a few nights. We actually said this out loud.

Let it be said, however, Shasta does not share well. In fact, she considers the bed hers and that we are just squatters she tolerates in her space. She comes to bed at her leisure – I don’t know what she does between the time we go to bed and she joins us, but based on the looks of her, I suspect clandestine cat food eating is involved. We are drifting off peacefully, and then, here she comes, bounding up the steps to the bed, jumping over my husband (but she always misses and lands on him) then immediately puts her cold wet nose in one of our faces until we lift up the covers so she can get under them. Let the fun begin.

She’s now under the covers about shoulder area, this is Stage One, the pre-sleep grooming station. Shasta proceeds to chew and lick every inch of her body, while making sure at least some portion of her frame is touching both of ours so we get the full shaking effect. Then there is the slurping sound as she attends to her nether region, which she can barely reach so we are also treated to mid-slurp panting as she catches her breath. Throughout this whole ordeal, my husband is poking her with his elbow, whispering “Stop it Shasta.” All that does is encourage her to poke her head back out of the covers, look at him with distain, dive back under and begin again all over again. Apparently the bathing process bears no interruption.

Finally her bath is complete and she sighs, loudly. Now she must get comfortable and this is achieved by laying horizontally between us. Lovely, now neither of us can move. Luckily, that doesn’t last too long and she begins the descent to the foot of the bed and this is accomplished in inches. She lays, she inches downward and lays again, then 15 minutes later, it’s another inch. During her descent, if we have the audacity to move our bodies, in our own bed, she protests with a sound that I can’t even describe. It’s somewhere between a groan and a whine and highly annoying, therefore, obviously doing its job. This dog can be in a dead sleep and if I move my arm to a different position, I get the “grump”.

It’s now near midnight and the journey to the foot of the bed is finally complete. She’s now a lump where normally I would put my feet, but since in her world my feet have no business there, I move them to the side so as not to disturb her majesty’s rest.

This peace will last until the early morning hours when some primordial urge in her signals the gradual ascent must begin. This happens by way of sliding up my body, as close as she can get. By morning, I have my fan blowing on me, no covers and a dachshund attached to my back like a giant furry leech. I am hanging on the edge of the bed facing the wall, fearing heat stroke, trying to get away from the living breathing heating pad.

It is daylight and I say to her several times, “Get up Shasta, let’s go outside.” She lays there playing dead. By this time, my husband has had enough, flips the covers off her, and calmly says, through his clinched teeth, “Shasta, go outside.” Sleepily she raises her head, then painstakingly drags her body up and towards the stairs to get off the bed, stops to stretch, silently yawns and turns and looks at us and then bounds down the stairs to await her breakfast. IMG_0770

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved

Note: Shasta is now sleeping in her own bed with the smaller dogs – thank goodness.


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