March 2006 Archives

Tue Mar 28 02:09:51 CST 2006

furry critter update

So on 11 March (2006) i became the new caretaker of Beal Feirste and Dubhlinn (the Celtic spelling of Belfast and Dublin), two older (almost 7 years) Irish Wolfhounds. Brother and sister, whelped (i think this is what dog people say instead of "born") on my sister's Birthday, 21 May, which i took as a good sign. They live here at my house, given that i don't have a landlord or a lease.

It hasn't been an easy time. Beal and Dub's previous caretaker were older, and sadly, both passed on in the last 16 months or so. Coming to a new home with new caregivers would always be a tough thing, but harder still because of the loss, and because they'd lived in the same home for so long.

Like any (relatively) sane person, at first i was a little concerned about being one of their new caretakers. They're big. Really, really big. And they kind of look like shaggy grey monsters, as you have probably now gathered from the pictures found at the link above. I can't really walk them anywhere with questions or comments. Most people just want to talk about how big they are. Some people comment on how striking (even had someone describe them as "gorgeous" the other night) they are. Many want to know what kind of dog they are.

But Beal and Dub immediately charmed me, and after a day or two, i really felt fortunate to know them, and provide them a new, good, home. There were a few other options for good homes for them, but i think this is the best arrangement for all concerned. They're the calmest dogs i've been around in memory, and despite their appearance, very gentle and easygoing . They give my cats a sniff or curious look every so often, but otherwise leave them alone. When they want some petting or scritching, the come over and plop their heads in peoples' laps, or butt their leg with their heads. Otherwise, they mostly crash on the cushions on the floor and nap.

I was spurred to make this entry when minutes ago, Dubh, the male, arrived in the kitchen as i was cracking some ice out of the tray, to drop into a glass of Bushmill's Irish Whiskey. There was apparently a tradition in their last household where the dogs would get an ice cube from their Dad's "completed" glass of (usually Scottish) whiskey. I think Dubhlinn may have been interested (at least this particular occasion) in the ice cube because he's a little warm. Like me, the mid 70s are a bit on the warm side, not to mention his big fur coat.

So Dubh sidles up to the kitchen counter, and rests his chin on it, nose next to the ice cube tray. "Want one of these?" i say, offering him an ice cube. He gently takes it from my hand with his mouth and heads back for his papasan cushion in the TV room. Crunching sounds are heard.

While this may seem like a cutesey anecdote to most, this brought a big smile to my face and warm feeling inside me. Both the dogs have had to adjust to a lot (new home, new people, new food... new just about everything, really) and they aren't young. I was worried about how well they would adapt, and honestly, if they would recover from their loss. But the heartening thing is that after the first few days, i could see the improvement in their moods and "feelings" very clearly, in small but distinct increments. They were and still probably still are sad. But they seem to be settling in OK, and their personalities are starting to re-emerge, their confidence improving. For example, Dubh has started barking at one of the neighbors, which isn't really necessary, but shows he knows my backyard is his territory, and there's a non pack member nearby. And Beal seems to bark at the grackles, a sentiment i heartily share. So i think they will be OK.

They went to the vet on Saturday, and they seem to be in very good health for their age. They are returning later today to get their teeth cleaned, and they'll get some X-rays while they are there. Dubh is, like me, about 20 lbs overweight, and has some trouble with stairs and the relatively slick hardwood floors. (I've made some paths of the rubber non-slip stuff they put under carpets.) He may have some hip problems, which is why it'd be good to get his hips X-rayed.

Speaking of furry critters, Lima Bean returns with them for a checkup. She's not emptied her bladder on her bed in about a month now, which is good, but may or may not last. Her coat looks better, so it seems she is on an upswing. I think she'll be 17 this year. Unfortunately, Popo's cancer (Fibrosarcoma) came back. In Feb (2006), i took her back to the Veterinary Surgeon who performed the second operation on her to remove it, and she confirmed what i feared: it's best to let it go. The chance of success is low and Popo's quality of life will be better for the next 4-6 months without more surgery. I was pretty sad at the time, but i've gotten past it, and focus more on petting or cuddling with her while i'm watching a DVD.

And here ends the furry critter update.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Sun Mar 5 01:12:36 CST 2006

Giving Hades and Demeter their Due

Well, in truth, it just became too hot to have a hairy under-head.

But it's far more entertaining to think of it as a (beard) sacrifice to Hades so he'd release Persephone from the pokey.

And then i decided Hades was (is) going to release her anyway, so maybe this is more of a sacrifice to Demeter, goddess of Agriculture, for the coming growing season.

The latter tends to agree with me having dumped the beard in my compost. I thought about burning it, but no one likes the smell of burning human hair. Ew.

So here ya go Demeter, Happy Hairless (almost) Spring.




Those lovely circles under my eyes are courtesy of sleep deprivation.


Posted by johan | Permanent link