Saturday, January 3, 2015

We Love Lucy

Lucinda the lap dog
After eight dog-less months, we have restored order to the universe and have a canine again in the house. Her name is Lucinda - Lucy for short. Our house is a home again.

She's a year and a month old, and is originally from a beach in Baja California, Mexico. She ended up with All Terrier Rescue (which doesn't rescue just terriers anymore), here in Oregon. The organization partners with a shelter in Baja, Mexico and another in California, to bring dogs from those shelters to Oregon, with the help of Alaska Airlines and various volunteer drivers. All Terrier Rescue shows the dogs they have available for adoption on Thursdays, 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays, 11-5 p.m., at Petsmart in the Washington Square shopping center on Cascade Ave in Beaverton. Her name, "Lucy," is computer-generated, and she is listed as "Baja Lucy" on her paperwork. We liked the name Lucy, so she's keeping it - but I decided it was short for "Lucinda."

It's been a long wait for our new girl. We were both devastated to lose our Albi, but our sorry at losing her wasn't what kept us waiting this long to adopt another dog; it was our travel plans. Stefan was ready to start looking earlier than I was, back in July, but because we had travel plans to Germany in October, I decided I wanted to wait until after we got back from that trip to start looking. And we lucked out at making that choice, because work suddenly sent me out of the country for most of August and September as well, and I wasn't back in the USA, for the rest of 2014, until mid November. It would have been horrible to adopt a dog and then abandon him or her for so long.

Starting in November, Stefan and I began trolling Craigslist for possible additions to our family, but people I wrote didn't write me back, or dogs were adopted before we could even see one. I looked at the web sites of various shelters in and around Portland, but so many put their pets on PetFinder, an extremely hard-to-use web site (hard to find animals just in your area, search results are often incorrect, etc.), or the photos of the dogs they had on their own web sites didn't really tell me anything about the dog, and the descriptions of the dogs were scant regarding any insights to what the dogs were like.

After a month of searching this way, I realized we were going to have to see a lot of dogs in one location to find our dog. We needed to meet dogs, look into their eyes, talk to them, and have them talk to us, in their own way.

Somehow, I figured out that Petsmart in Beaverton had dog showings twice a week from a shelter in Aloha. And so, on December 27, 2014, we walked in to the pet store, and I promptly fell in love with every dog there. I wanted them all. The rescue organization puts most of the dogs together in a large open kennel, so you can see how they interact with each other, and I was glad to see how wonderfully socialized they were. You are encouraged to take any dog for a walk around the building.

We took one dog on a walk, and he was gorgeous and fun, but so incredibly full of energy, and the volunteers kept saying, "He'll be great for someone who jogs! He's great for people with an active lifestyle!", and I'm thinking, yeah, we don't jog... we both really liked him, but his strength and energy were... a lot. I knew we'd be overwhelmed. Maybe even frustrated. So I suggested we walk another dog: Lucy had caught my eye as soon as we walked in - she was in a create by herself, because most of the other dogs hadn't arrived yet, and she was calmly chewing on a raw hide, uninterested in us. She was put in the bigger kennel once the other dogs had arrived, and she seemed quite overwhelmed by them all. She was super timid. The volunteer I talked to had taken her home recently, and said she did well with other dogs and cats, loved to play, was skittish, and oh-so-sweet. We took her on a walk, and she pulled the leash almost as much as the first dog had. But there was something about her... I liked her. A lot.

We decided we'd foster Lucy for a week. And I promised Stefan I would be more reserved than I'd been when I took Albi home originally, to foster for just one night, and had broken into tears after an hour and said I was keeping her. I would proceed with caution this time, emotionally-speaking.

I tried, I really did... This time, I knew when she slept through both the first and second night that I couldn't give her up. So - I made it 48 hours!

I introduced her to Gray Max the Cat as soon as he showed up that first evening. He ran to the door and wailed. After a day of letting him in then right back out, I kept him in with us, no matter the wailing. It lasted 20 minutes. I kept him in for two hours that first time, and it convinced him he could come in with her and not fear being eaten. But it's taken a week of these forced stays to get him to calm down to his old self when inside. Gray Max now tolerates Lucinda and doesn't completely freak out that she's here. But he still won't sleep overnight inside. We didn't let Lucy into the backyard for a week, so he could continue to feel absolutely safe and dog-free there. I'm going to continue to work on him. We have a cat tree condo arriving in another week that will give him a place high up to sleep and hang out and feel safe inside.

Lucy and Stefan
Because of the holidays, Stefan had to work only two full days and two half days for Lucy's first week - in other words, he's been here far more than not for her this first week. As a result, she not only got to get to know him too, we got to take her to the dog park three times, go on a lot of walks, and she's even have some play time with just Stefan in the back yard. In one week, she's gone from a dog terrified of all cars, trucks, and any kind of machine, to a dog really happy to be walking alongside of us, cars or not. But she's still rather easily overwhelmed -- she doesn't like people to come right up to her to quickly, and she doesn't like more than two or three people around. She is terrified of Stefan in his firefighter's uniform - we'll have to work on that.

One week after we met her, we drove her to PetSmart to finish her paperwork. I'm glad we brought her, even though we didn't know if we were supposed to: the rescue organization has to see that she has her own collar, and that you have had a tag made for her with her name and your phone number, and attached it to the collar, before they hand over a dog's paperwork. She was really scared to get out of the car - I'm not sure if it was just being in a parking lot, which is always unpleasant for a dog, or all the people, or going to the place she'd been before us. We went inside, and finally tracked down the volunteer to help us finalize her adoption. I asked a bit more about her, and we both went into major, but quiet, panic when we were told she's actually younger than we thought: she's about eight months old. And we don't know her breed mixes. TO THE GOOGLE!! According to what I've read, any dog at six months, no matter the breed, is at least 75% of its full height. And studies have indicated that a small or medium breed puppy reaches 99% of its adult weight somewhere between nine -10 months. She weighs 38.8 pounds. She shouldn't get to 50 pounds. But we're keeping her, no matter what size she gets.

While still at PetSmart, we met a couple that adopted her sister! Lucy's sister is a bit smaller, and much darker - they showed us her photos on their smart phones. I would have had to adopt them both - I never could have separated them.

So, I've had four dogs since 1990. All were "rejects" - unwanted by their original owners or never owned by anyone. The first, Buster, was from Massachusetts and the second, Wiley, was from Missouri, and they not only went to more states that most people from the USA, they also went to Germany. The third, Albi, was from Hungary, also went to Germany, and also visited more states that most people from the USA. And now, the fourth, Lucinda, is from Mexico. We like our dogs international! Lucinda is our second female dog, and the youngest dog I've ever had.

Lucy and Stefan
Please consider welcoming a dog or cat into your life. Visit area shelters and local pet stores that host dogs and cats from shelters and rescue groups. And PLEASE spay or neuter your pets! If you want to donate money, give such to the nearest shelter to you, and/or to the wonderful Mayhew International, which I got to know in Kabul, Afghanistan - they not only help spay and neuter dogs in several countries, they also host classes for communities in those countries, like Romania, to help change attitudes about stray animals.

I'll do my best to keep adorable stories about Lucinda to a minimum on Facebook and in conversations, because I know how those can drive everyone crazy. But I make no promises to keep such to a minimum here on this blog! I'm looking forward to many, many stories... I'm already thinking about our first camping trip!

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