Tag Archives: Pets

Not a Mediocre Dog

A few years back I lectured a group of Mach III – 12 Day students about the importance of not settling for sloppy bunks during bay inspection.  I told them if they would accept average bed making they would continue to settle for mediocrity their entire lives.  “No one wants a mediocre dog” was the quote that seemed to strike a chord with the students.  See, if you didn’t push yourself for greatness, you will end up living in a mediocre house with a mediocre spouse with a mediocre job and a mediocre dog.  Looking back at Boo’s life, my dog was not mediocre!  He was an exceptional dog who lived an extraordinary life.

Boo was “rescued” and taken to The Ark on October 31st, 2004.  He was taken from the cruel streets of Five Points in Huntsville.  Where he had a family that didn’t realize how unique he was.  Why would anyone neglect such a special animal?  We were not anticipating looking for a dog until our house was complete and we had time for a puppy.  I opened an email from a co-worker who also volunteered at The Ark.  The moment I saw his eyes, I was hooked.  Since he had been found abandoned without a collar on the streets, he was a lost dog and there was a period time he had to spend at The Ark before he could be adopted.  On the very day he could be adopted we went to visit… He came home with us on November 6th, 2004.  We were two weeks away from closing on our house.

He seemed like a normal pound puppy.  It would take a few years before his true super hero powers were seen.  At first, Boo gravitated toward me but Chris traveled a lot during the first few years with us.  I guess, Boo bonded with me more.  Boo became the most consistent thing in my daily life.  Wake up, feed the dog and go to work.  Come home, play with Boo and go to bed.  Boo loved playing with a red laser pointer we had.  He trained us well.  If he wanted to play with the “bug” he would act like the bug was on the ground to encourage play time.  He was spoiled only after a few months.

He was bright, well behaved most of the time and for the most part house trained.  However, he used urination as a way of expressing his displeasure with our behavior.  When Chris would leave, Boo peed through his crate on to the tile floor.  This would become a theme even after we trusted him outside of a crate.  To be fair, he peed on many of Chris’ office furniture.  He hated to be left alone for any reason.  He seemed more stressed out when I would leave.  He would cry, anxiously pace the floor and often chewed on the window blinds.  Days I went for a run, he would greet me at the front door with his nose implanted in the window as if he was doing research on the molecular make-up of glass.  Once home from anywhere he often would follow me anywhere, including the bathroom.  When his sight got bad, he would use his wicked sense of smell to follow me.  However, sometimes the trail looped around the kitchen and then into the bedroom, but I was already on the couch.  No matter, the goal was to find me and get as close to me as possible.

He was loved by many people.  I would take him to work at Space Camp and Aviation Challenge even though it was against the rules.  He was given the call sign Bernoulli from the staff my first summer at AC.  Each time I would take him to Aviation Challenge, his first piece of business was to do his business in front of the MiG by the rail cars.  I felt it was more of a political statement than anything else.  Boo opposed the godless commies of the Soviet Union.  And the MiG was a symbol of their Cold War regime.  But the ritual continued for many years.  And visiting camp continued even when I was at Cha-La-Kee.  However, visiting Cha-La-Kee was more rewarding for Boo.  He would get treats from the kitchen staff and rides on the pontoon boat.  Many campers wanted to love him, but Boo’s mission was clear.  Don’t get in the way of me finding food or RMO.

The trick he was most known for was sitting upright on the back legs like a prairie dog.  His first owners must have taught him that or it was simply a part of his DNA.  Boo would use this stance and his adorable eyes to beg hopelessly for food.  We tried not to give him human food after he OD’ed on Thanksgiving dinner just a few weeks after adopting him.  He loved parmesan cheese so much he would come to the kitchen anytime we opened the zip-lock bag.  We gave him just a little from time to time.  He became a cheese snob only liking freshly grated parmesan.  But his favorite treat was a greenie.  If left to his own wishes, he would ingest greenies like a chain smoker consumes Marlboro Reds.  Or a fat kid goes through Twinkies.

Growing up, I had dozens of great dogs.  From the black Doberman that rode in the truck with my father even before I was born to my first German Shepherd to the Christmas Dalmatian, Dottie and our blue Doberman, Scarlett, we had until I was in college; they were all outstanding creatures.  Often the dogs we have as children are the ones that leave the paw prints on our hearts.  For the most part Boo was an easy dog to love.  But he still loved me more.  I enjoyed his company and companionship especially while at home alone.  He went with me everywhere he could the last months of his life, but he couldn’t go to Chile with me.

Saying good bye to him has been more difficult than I imagined.  He wasn’t like your average pet.  He was fully integrated into my daily life.  He gave me just as much peace and comfort as I gave him.  Chris has taken videos of him crying when I would leave.  I naively thought I understood how Boo felt.  I was wrong.  Now, I am the one crying because he has left me.  He was just as much my comfort as I was his.  Good bye, my dear friend

Did You Know?

Did you know that a baby rabbit is called a kit?  Did you know, that rather than having two girl rabbits, I have one boy or buck and one girl rabbit or doe? Do you know where baby rabbits come from?  Well, I do!  Rather than watching the Weather Channel to see which land mass Hurricane Isaac will hit, I am watching the rabbit hutch on my back porch to see when the kits are born.

A year ago, we had an aging white male rabbit which looked more like Godzilla than a cute little bunny. Shortly after Christmas, George the mammoth bunny, passed away of a drug overdose.  After Easter, Remus and Cammie Anne, came to live in my back yard from my brother’s house in Mississippi.  Did you know I was a sucker for animals?  I have been called Elly May before.  In the next few days and weeks, I will have more animals living under one roof than I am sure the city of Huntsville will allow.  I am sure the home owner’s association will not be happy.

The moral of the story is to check your rabbits for berries before you take them home.  Now, I am going on Craig’s List looking for Bunny Midwives.  I am sure how the math goes with rabbits, but it is something like 1 + 1 = 14 or so.  Anybody want a rabbit?

Wait! I just figured it out… The rabbits sent me the flowers last week!  I did make a big difference in their lives.

King George I

In 2006, two days before Christmas Chris and I arrived at my parent’s house in Mississippi with our little dog Boo.  I had just walked in the door and sat down at my father’s desk when I got a phone call from my brother asking me to meet him at the canal bridge. Chris and I met Walt and his whole family at the bridge near US 51 Highway.  Some despicable human being had released twenty to thirty domestic rabbits to fend for themselves because that despicable human being didn’t want to care for the rabbits any longer. The rabbit chase began!

We chased the little critters around the thicket, inside the briers and in the cow pasture. Some predators had already feasted on a few rabbits. There were a few brown rabbits but the majority where common white rabbits with pink eyes. The white rabbits were the easiest to capture. Boo even helped to flush the rabbits from the thicket and help in the grand chase for the rabbits. Once we captured the little guys and gals we placed them in a dog kennel in the back of Walt’s truck. As the end of the chase, we had captured seventeen rabbits all white.

What do you do with seventeen rabbits after rescuing them from being a coyote’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. You give some away, you take one home to Huntsville and you keep a few on the farm. The one we took home to Huntsville was later named George. A very predictable name for a rabbit that would be loved for many years to come. George became our family pet just like a dog or cat would. For the first few months after George arrived in Huntsville, my parents would ask, “Do you still have that rabbit.” The answer was yes, but for a rabbit who was rescued off the side of a dirt road it was a little shocking he was still hanging around.

George was not just any rabbit. George was a twelve pound Monty Python rabbit. If Chuck Norris had a rabbit, it would be George. George once drop kicked our Jack Russell, Boo, and was known to bark at our neighbor’s dog. He spent many a nights indoors because of the cold. George loved the power outage that followed the April 2011 tornados, because he had so much company in the back yard. We camped out, we had a camp stew cook out, and a nightly bond fire. George was at his happiest!

Who could have imaged a thrown away rabbit having such a good life. He was fed and fed well. I would proclaim in his first year of living in Alabama that he is more expensive than a dog. He had a wooden hutch on the patio and a rabbit run under the trees in the back yard. He was a handsome rabbit too. He would have wild rabbit girl friends hop through the yard on occasion. He was a good rabbit!

Sadly this morning we put the aging hare down. Yes, he died just as Michael Jackson did, an overdoes of anesthesia. Our vet was very kind and loved the story of George. Looking back at his life, he was larger than life. He was also a large rabbit, only two pounds smaller than our dog. He was treated like a king and he gave us a lot of happiness. And just like the kings and monarchs of old he was given a royal burial in an undisclosed location. Long live King George I!

Bull to Boo

Dogs are the greatest of all pets and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a pup to call mine own. Well, that is not completely true. My parent’s first Doberman Pincher was a few years older than me. Bull was a black and tan male who rode in the back of my dad’s truck. All dogs since then in my family have been compared to Bull. My current hound dog may not surpass his majesty Bull’s greatness, but he is in the same league.

See, Bull is legendary in my home town. There are thousands of stories, like the one where he got his name. My mom and dad visited my grandfather’s gin when Bull was just a pup. My dad was very proud of his Doberman Pincher and explained to Ga-Ga his German heritage. In classic S.K. fashion he proclaims, “That’s Bull Sh*#, that dog is a black and tan coon dog.”

Bull survived being run through a silage cutter and heart worm surgery. People discouraged my parents from owning a dobby because of its aggressive nature. They learned quickly that Bull was a gentle giant when Walter, my older brother, teethed on Bull’s ears. I shared an ice cream cone with him once or twice. He went on many trips with my father and minded better than I did as a child.

Bull was our first true family dog. He slept inside, hung out at meals, licked my father’s toes while he was asleep in his lazy boy, and enjoyed a special place in our hearts. The first dog that would rival, but not surpass Bull’s greatness was Scarlett. She was a blue and tan Doberman Pincher. The first two weeks of her tenure at Oliver Farms was most definitely rocky. She came from a show dog family. She had been pampered from birth. So much pampering that she never stepped foot on grass until her first night in Carroll County. Watching her attempt to go to the bathroom on grass for the first time was an unusual sight.

Scarlett was four months old when we got her. She was named for Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind. She was prissy, but very smart. She had several toys and a small box to keep them. She would play with a toy and then place it back into the box. Yes, she had mastered a feat that my mom had tried to teach me for ten years. She would carry shoes, but never chewed on them. My mom would get angry at her each morning, but eventually how could you get mad at Scarlett. She was our best friend.

We had lots of dogs that were good, but just not great. To name just a few we had, Bismark, Rose Bud, Junior, Maggie, Hazel, Dottie, Argyle, Otto, Lucy, Tallulah and Zelma. Dottie was my Dalmatian, Argyle was our first blue Doberman, and Lucy was a brain damaged fawn dobby we referred to as Lucy Retardo. She was so precious. Maggie was a German Shepherd I got when I was in kindergarten. She was a great friend and mother to her pups. Maggie once replaced a lost pup from her litter with a baby opossum. I am sure the mom opossum was pissed, but Maggie wanted a full littler.

She even noticed when we lost a member of my family’s pack. After Will passed away she met us at the car, looking and counting the family members. There was one missing and she continued to look for him until her last day on the hill. Dogs are such emotional creatures. They know what your feel and they can empathize with. When you need a shoulder to cry on you can turn to you hound dog.

Boo RadleyCurrently, I have a Dachshund/Jack Russell mix… a mutt, but we call him a Jackshund. Boo came to us with a past. He is a hot dog, a rescue dog with a twist. He lived in an undisclosed neighborhood in Huntsville. His previous owners didn’t really want nor need a dog. He was found roaming the streets looking for food or someone to love him. He was dirty and had a colony of fleas living on him. One day a neighbor found him without a collar, starving, dirty, and covered in ticks. He was taken to a rescue shelter where we would meet him days later.

Boo thinks he is the center of the universe. Early in the morning he will stand on my chest looking at me… it is almost like he is saying, “wake up silly, it is time to feed me.” He loves to be covered up with blankets. He will hop on the couch then turn and look… “hey you, come over here and put the blanket on me.” If Chris shows me extra attention Boo wants extra attention. He gets right in the middle of everything. He hates when we leave. He pouts and complains. He loves to sit on top of the easy-chair or walk across the back of the couches; I think he somehow channels a cat.

I have loved all my four legged friends. Dogs have been compared to members of the family. I will not go that far, but they definitely have an important role in my life. My mom and dad tell stories about having me in the car seat while at the dog kennel. So from a very young age I have been fascinated with hounds. One day I will have a pack of dogs just like on the movie Secondhand Lions. I want a Bloodhound named Barbeque, a chocolate lab named Hershey, a dog named Jack, and one named Booster. Simply put I love dogs. If you are a dog person and don’t have a dog, go out and adopt one today!

House Guest

Most people know I love animals. I one day want a pack of dogs similar to the one on Secondhand Lions. I have always wanted a Bloodhound named Barbecue, a chocolate Lab named Cadbury, a few mutts named Larry, Daryl, and Daryl, and a pig named Nancy. Well this week I am fortunate to have my wish. I am house/pet setting for two dogs and a cat. Add to the pack me and my dog, Boo.

First you must understand I am the house guest to an eighty-five pound Doberman Pincher, a lamp shade wearing Schnauzer mix, and a curious black cat. They live a normal life without me in it. So when their owners had to leave suddenly because of a family emergency I looked like Viola Swamp to them. Then add my spoiled Jack Russell mix and you have the pilot for a sitcom in the making.

Last night it all started with the cat who wanted to snuggle with me. I would like to think I am an Olympic quality snuggler, but since they haven’t made it a medal sport, I prefer to only snuggle with the husband and occasionally, Boo. It was so comical, Salem, the cat, curled up on my belly and I had to hop up for something. She never found the right spot after that. She would try my leg, my arm, my foot, and even my butt. Nothing seemed to work for her. But the United States Air Force could learn something from her stealthiness. The only way I knew she was approaching was the crackle of her wicker kitty chateau. For a cat, she snuggles well!

Then there is the big dog! There is always a big dog! She is a descendant of one of my family’s pups. She has the biggest blue eyes and is smarter than most humans, especial those working at Wal-Mart. She wanted to bond with me… all night long. Mostly, I think she wanted to just be close to me, but I was sleeping on the couch in my L.L. Bean sleeping bag. I like to think of this house sitting thing as a giant sleep over with dogs. We pop popcorn, do each others hair, watch DVDs, and camp out in the den. All throughout the night she would visit me, lick me or just nudge me to say hi. She is just like her grandfather, Jealous, she likes the attention.

Don’t forget about Story. He is so cute, but not stealthy. Last night I would hear the rattle of his lampshade coming to visit it me periodically. But he took the proactive way to my heart, curled up on the chair next to me to sleep the night. Story is such a ladies man.
His name fits him perfectly.

Boo snuggled in my sleeping bag bagNow my addition to the pack is Boo. Do you know what he has done? He crawled into my sleeping bag which is inside its storage bag. So all I can see of him is his little white tail. He is such an anti-social dog. I took him to visit Divot and his roommates tonight. I had to leave, because he hates men. So what does he do? He finds a cave (bag) to crawl into.

It is like a giant camp out. But rather than my Girl Scout Troop camping with me it is my new pack of critters. We need like a name, Pack #7 or something. It is fun! All is well! I hope the K-9s are happy with me as their house guest. Most of all, I wish their owners the best. Know that we are fine here at Camp Sandy Hollow and wish we could do more to comfort.