With some luck (and a bit of planning) this will mark a return to my more-or-less regular blogging, something that I have neglected for far, far too long and for which I humbly beg your forgiveness, O Faithful Reader! I won't promise it won't happen again, but let's see what I can do, eh?
Right. I think some explanation is in order.
When last we checked in, I was living in a little two-bedroom apartment in rural Maine, my partner was still stuck across the border, and yet my life was relative uncomplicated.
First step into insanity: she was able to get across the border on a more-or-less permanent basis AND find a house that she liked.
Here's a picture of it:
Excellent, right? Pied-a-terre? Yes indeed, most excellent - and a serious lump of complexity! Let me ask you, have you ever moved? Yes, of course you have. You remember the chaos involved in moving, trying to coordinate the truck and your friends to help unload; turning on utilities; sorting the boxes, arranging furniture, hanging paintings...
Now multiply that by Border Crossing And Customs Declaration.
And then add in the fact that she has returned to school to update her training. Head spinning yet?
So then I moved in - somewhat simpler, as it was only a couple towns away, but still not fun. Then there was the inevitable Clean The Apartment struggle. But, eventually, finally, we were settled.
Then we figured we needed pets.
See, we had ALWAYS had animals, of one sort or another, through our childhoods and adulthoods as well. Not having a furry member of the family just wasn't right.
A friend of hers mentioned the local animal shelter as a good place to find pets that need homes. That's like saying to a chocoholic, oh look I have some fudge that needs eating! (Just to spread the joy, here's their web site: GAHS )
A perusal of their web page and we found one six-month-old kitten who desperately needed a home: a black cat named Berry who had been in the shelter for five months, on and off. She'd been adopted and returned three times in that period, because she was semi-feral and really didn't want anything to do with people. Well, challenge accepted! We had both rescued cats from a feral state and thought, oh yeah, we can do this again. Thus armed with confidence we marched off claim our cat.
Once there, the staff informed us that they thought Berry (what an unfortunate name for cat!) would do best in a home with another cat. No problem, we thought. We don't have a cat to take her home to, but that's easy enough. There's lots of cats here; we'll just pick another one out.
Now who were the suckers? Right.
First cat didn't want anything to do with us or Berry. Second cat was actively hostile to Berry - bad idea cat; we're sold on her not you! Finally I spotted a scraggly, matted grey-and-black striped tabby named Bruno. He was pressed hard against the glass, doing his best to be forlorn and yet appealing simultaneously.
Fortunately for him, he and Berry got along well enough that we decided he would work.
The ride home - Berry terrified in the cardboard carrier, Bruno carsick *phew* in the one carrier we had brought - was a slice of eternity measured in odorosity (yes I know it's not a word yet dammit but it ought to be!). At last, we arrived and got them out into their cat condo - where Berry crouched for the next two days.
Bruno, after having the worst of the mats shaved off at the vet, became quite the people-cat, never getting enough attention, always burring and buzzing at us, never happier than when he was being fussed over. However...
Berry (now renamed Shadow) wanted nothing to do with us. NOTHING. When we approached her, she would flee. If we moved past her, she would flee. When we looked at her - flee. Tiresome, to say the least.
Bruno, she loved, couldn't get enough of him. Followed him around, rubbed against him, wrestled with him.
Eventually we decided that we had ONE cat, and that he, too, had a cat. But that left us short a pet, though we didn't admit this to ourselves just yet.
Backtrack a bit here: the house came a chicken coop and run, which the previous owners had actually used to keep chickens. We had cleaned it out, repaired the floor (rotten through in a couple places), added windows and back doors, and reinforced the wire around the run, all with the intent of raising chickens for eggs ourselves. So when a couple friends of ours offered us some nearly-feathered chicks, we jumped at it!
A hour drive to their house and back and we had a half-dozen chicks in a large plastic tote. They were installed upstairs, with a sturdy wire cat-resistant cover on top. Now the house was filled with a constant 'cheep-cheep', punctuated by occasional squawks as the pecking order was sorted out.
Still, chickens are not the most cuddly pets, and definitely resistant to house- or litter-training, so our thoughts turned back to other animals.
Monkey? HELL no!
Well, what about a dog?
A dog would be nice. It would have to be spayed/neutered - we didn't need either a marker or a breeder! Probably a female; despite being snipped, male dogs still mark. And it would have to get along with cats. Oh, and a little bit older might be ideal, a dog that's already trained, or at least house-broken - DEFINITELY not a puppy!
We got a puppy.
Not only did we get a puppy, we waited in line outside the humane society for FOUR HOURS to get this particular puppy, a cute Labrador/Rottweiler mix who came with the unfortunate name of Pancake. Big brown eyes, floppy ears, and a wagging tail that couldn't be stopped - she stole our hearts as soon as she came scampering into the 'meeting' room.
Here she is:
Then came the scramble to get all the puppy gear.
Bruno didn't care for the new addition, but was more-or-less patient with her. A few hisses, some claws-in cuffing, and the now-Charlie had learned who the boss was: Bruno.
However, that left a dilemma: a puppy who desperately needed a companion to play with in the full-bore, rambunctious manner which typifies puppies who definitely lacked a suitable, well, shall we just say 'target'?
Back to the humane society. There was one puppy we had sort-of selected from their mug shots, but when we met here there just wasn't any chemistry. The next puppy, a giant ball of fluff named Buffy (who promised to get even larger), was seriously afraid and cowered under a chair for most of the visit.
Then they brought in a dog named Rado (and what the devil is a RADO?), a shepherd/husky mix. Big ball of fluff, with hints of patterns and colors in his fur that had a long way to go to be defined, but friendly and happy and we were sold.
We got a shock when we were doing the paperwork - this dog, already easily the size of Charlie (four months), was only NINE WEEKS OLD.
That suggested THOR, THE THUNDERDOG would be a good name, but then he showed his true colors: he was a SnugglePuppy (TM). And, since I am of a certain age to remember fondly Saturday morning cartoons, specifically Looney Toons, I immediately thought of George. Specifically, THIS. (And just for you folks who are suddenly nostalgic for more cartoon craziness, here's a link to four HOURS of it: Merrie Melodies).
So now we have a cat (who has a cat), two puppies, five chickens (one flew the coop), and a severe sleep deficiency.
BUT WE'RE HAPPY!
I hope you've enjoyed this brief look into what's been going. We now return you to our regular programming.