Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baxter is making progress

Watching Baxter start to gain confidence that he is really HOME, is like watching a curtain slowly draw back from his Real Personality. When we go on walks, his tail is normally up and waving now. And these last two times, instead of being reluctant to leave the house, he's been speedily walking and sniffing everything in sight. :-)

He follows me around like a little shadow now. Wherever I go, he goes. When I sit on the sofa or loveseat, He hops up next to me. We had a moment tonight when I was watching the Phantoms online, and he was clearly bored of sitting on the sofa... and yet he wouldn't leave the sofa while I was sitting there.

He is such a great little dog, and very well-mannered. Someone clearly spent a lot of effort training him properly.

Oh, and tonight, we had the first couple of encounters with Captain. He and Captain sniffed noses right next to me, and Captain was OK with that. Later, Captain was facing the other way and Baxter sniffed his rump. He studiously Ignored this, though I could tell he wasn't particularly enamored of the canine greeting. Stanley responds similarly -- he is OK with sniffing noses, but he'd rather not have similar attentions paid to his opposite end.

Critters. :-) Endless entertainment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Piecing together Baxter's story

I finally had the chance to read over the paperwork with Baxter's history, or what little there is of it.

Seems "Baxter" was a name assigned to him at PAWS, which explains why he occasionally seems to take a moment to respond to it.

He was brought in as a stray to ACCT, the city shelter, on 10/7. I am taking a guess that he was found with the other dog that PAWS said was his brother, because of the names the two dogs have. PAWS told me that Baxter's brother was named Pinky. Well, Baxter's intake paperwork at ACCT calls him "Brain". As in, "Pinky and the Brain". I am extrapolating some details, but my guess is that PAWS left Pinky's name the same, but changed Baxter's name, when they pulled the two of them out of the city shelter.

So I don't exactly know WHAT name my little guy grew up with. But he recognizes Baxter well enough that I'll keep that name. Not only has he been stressed enough already in the past 22 days, without having to learn a new name, I now THINK of him as "Baxter". So Baxter he will remain.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spoiled already. That was fast. :-)

Is there, like, a world speed record for spoiling a critter?

We have discovered that Baxter only wants to eat his dog food if there is a slice of turkey lunchmeat shredded up and mixed in with it. This was determined on Friday.

So, we dutifully mixed in a slice of turkey lunchmeat on Saturday's and Sunday's dog food. This morning, I thought, "Let's see if he'll eat less of the turkey." I only shredded up HALF a slice of turkey.

Baxter ate half the food, then came over to give me Sad Eyes. He persisted in Not Eating, so I broke down and shredded the other half of the turkey slice into the remaining dog food.

Me: "Is this more to His Highness's liking?"

Baxter: NOM NOM NOM NOM.

His breakfast is now fully eaten, and he is parked next to me on the sofa with his head on my lap. He has barely been here four days, and we are already catering to his whims. Pampered pup. :)

Oh, and His Royal Smileyness has discovered the joys of rolling in the grass. :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finally, some HAPPY news to report :)

On October 19, PAWS, the rescue from which I got Mini, had their annual big fundraiser, the Mutt Strut. I walked it in honor of Mini's memory. I asked Mark to go, too, but he had made arrangements to start cleaning out his mom's house with his sister. I warned him that he was leaving me unattended among a bunch of adoptable PAWS dogs, and that I wasn't responsible for the consequences. :-)

After visiting all the vendor booths and walking the course, I stopped by the tent where the adoptable dogs were returning. I loved them all, of course. And then I saw this little smiley face.

I was trying to get a picture of his widdle smile, but the photo doesn't really do it justice. His name is Baxter, he is a 6-year-old Chihuahua mix, and every time someone paid him attention or petted him, he had a happy little doggy smile on his face. I was hooked. I filled out the adoption application on the spot. Then came the agonizing wait to be approved.

When I got home, I called Mark and let him know that I had, in fact, met a dog that I wanted to adopt. He wasn't looking to add a dog to the family, especially not so soon after Mini, but he agreed to let it happen.

PAWS called me on Tuesday and we made an appointment for Thursday, October 24, for me to see Baxter. At least, that's how they phrased it. So I was more than a little surprised that they were about to let me take Baxter home on the spot. If I'd known, I'd have had a carrier ready for him. I would have had a leash, too; fortunately, PAWS has leashes and collars coming out their ears, so they were able to give me one. As it was, he wanted to sit in my lap while I was driving home. Oh, dear, lol. See, this is WHY I insist on using a carrier to transport pets in cars. I kept shifting him to the side when he started climbing in my lap. Eventually, he parked himself between the two front seats and rested his head on my leg, and that's how we drove the rest of the way home. :-)

Captain and Stanley were wary, when they saw a new dog come in the door, but not hostile. This is the two of them taking a look at the dog (out of the frame and on a leash). Captain (orange) has got his Kitty Glare firmly in place. Baxter has respected The Glare, and has not tried to interact with Captain yet at all. This is good, because I'm 99.999% sure that The Glare is a big bluff and Captain is a big wimp. Baxter, however, doesn't have to know that. ;-)

Baxter did sniff noses with Stanley, at which time I discovered what PAWS meant when they said he was "rude" with cats during his cat-compatibility test. Baxter sniffed a few times, then got over-exuberant and shoved his whole face into Stanley's face. Stanley responded by doling out one bop upside the dog's head, and Baxter immediately backed up. The next time he went to sniff Stanley, a few hours later, he stood somewhat back and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d his neck way forward to reach the cat. He wasn't going to risk getting too close again, lol! They've sniffed noses a few more times in the ensuing three days, and there have been no more bops, nor any need for bops.

Since Thursday, we have been reaching landmarks gradually. I have been able to leave Baxter and one/both cats unattended on the sofa when I have had to use the Smallest Room in the House. No growls, hisses, nor hostilities have ensued; they have all ignored one another. Yesterday, Baxter went on a walk with his tail horizontal, instead of drooping down; tonight, that tail was up and waving like a banner. SomeDoggy is getting happier. I also got the first full-fledged belly display a little while ago.

And of course, there are the little smiles that made me melt into a puddle of mush in the first place. We are starting to see those, more and more. And that makes ME smile.

So as you can see, we finally have got GOOD things to report, after having multiple losses in a row (Mark's mom and Mini on 9/22, and three weeks later, Mark's aunt, who was my MIL's older sister). No one can replace those loved ones. But happy events can help turn our attention toward LIFE instead of bereavement. So Baxter, in his own little way, is providing some much-needed therapy. We're all good for each other. He gets a new home and lots of doting to make up for the loss of his brother (who was surrendered along with him but was adopted by someone else), and he makes us smile. Winning. And I will gladly take those WINs any way we can get them.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tough Morning, Improved Commute, and Government

Monday morning was the first "normal" day that we had since my mother-in-law and Mini passed away. All last week, Mark was off from work and we were doing funeral-related things, so our regular schedule was entirely disrupted.

But this morning, when I got up and Mark was at work, it was the first time that I had to confront the changes to my normal routine. Ordinarily, I'd have started my day by getting up, walking the dog, feeding the dog and the cats, and then eating breakfast. As such, I was really feeling Mini's absence, and I greatly missed the fact that I won't be walking and feeding her anymore. My little Munchkin Pup. I really miss her a lot.

Later on Monday, I drove to Chalfont for a sign language lesson. I am tutoring a blind couple, one of whom is also suffering from hearing loss, in sign language. As a result, I rediscovered the fact that the *fastest* route suggested by the GPS is not necessarily also the *shortest* route. The GPS's suggested route involves using the Blue Route, the PA Turnpike, and Rt. 309. It's about 38 miles to go that way. But because we were using Rt. 309 on Friday, for an entirely different reason (driving from the cemetery to the funeral luncheon), it occurred to me that I might be able to make an adjustment to my Chalfont commute. On my way home, I decided to use Rt. 309 to get all the way into the city, eliminating the use of the PA Turnpike and Blue Route entirely. Well, what do you know? Using Rt. 309 all the way into Philly cut 7 miles off the distance. It did take about 8 minutes longer, but I ran into a little bit of slow traffic on the way home. I would be willing to bet that if I hadn't encountered that one stretch of congested road, the time differential would've been negligible or even come out in favor of the Rt. 309-oriented commute.

So basically, using Rt. 309 means a shorter distance, no Turnpike tolls, no dreadful traffic patterns at the Turnpike entrance and exit, and NO excruciating off-ramp going from the Turnpike to the Blue Route. That has got to be the worst freaking exit ramp I have ever encountered in my life, and I deal with PennDOT's handiwork on a regular freaking basis. Yeah, methinks Rt. 309 and I are about to become very good friends, lol.

Finally, here is what I have to say about the governmental shutdown:
"But I fear that in every assembly members will obtain an influence by noise rather than sense, by meanness rather than greatness, and by ignorance and not learning, by contracted hearts and not large souls. There is one thing, that must be attempted and most sacredly observed, or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect and veneration introduced for persons of every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is our only way.” -- John Adams