Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stinkin' Dogs and A Traumatized Rabbit

I’ve said it before. I am so glad we live out in the country. It has its benefits. It does have some drawbacks occasionally too though. The last ten days have been somewhat wild for us. And the word is used literally out here in the country. We’ve been without our Pepper for ten days now and the raccoons, possums, and skunks are becoming braver and braver. Soon they’ll be pulling up chairs when we sit down to dinner. When you live out in the “wild” without a dog, all kinds of critters wander into your yard. We are almost surrounded by trees and my youngsters often call the wooded area “the jungle.” Even with a dog, we often saw a lot of critters. One day we saw a turkey walk through the yard, a deer on the driveway, and a coyote in the pasture in front of the house. Sydney watched all three from the front window and I heard her mumble, “What’s next? A dinosaur?”

So, I have been visiting pet rescue Facebook walls and internet sites and watching Craig’s List, looking for the perfect dog. The perfect dog: a mid to large sized dog, past the puppy stage, well mannered, who will bark at people who drive up but not attack them. My expectations are reasonable, right? I know it has only been a short time but it seems like I have spent eons calling and questioning people who are trying to find a home for their four-legged friends. And always in the background I have Sydney bouncing around and begging me to work some magic and find her a furry companion.

A couple of days ago I answered an ad on Craig’s List about TWO dogs. Two for the price of one… because free times two is still free!! They both sounded good. They are four and five year old Australian Shepherd mixes, used to staying outside, both female, already spayed, with no history of roaming, and they are good with kids! The perfect dogs! And I’d found two! The owner was moving from a rural setting to town and needed to rehome them right away. We went to meet the dogs that same evening and really liked them. We brought them home. The dogs were model passengers and Sydney giggled the whole way home. We were so happy! (for about an hour.) Then the escapade began. We got out of the car and immediately the dogs grabbed a kitten. I will just say Shawn is getting really good at digging holes. We comforted Sydney, buried the kitten and began to doubt our decision. We played out in the yard until it was really late. As we came in to go to bed, the dogs began to bark. I looked outside and saw both dogs jumping against Sydney’s rabbit hutch in a frenzied fit. I went out and calmed them, led them away from the rabbit, and came back inside. Fast forward 15 minutes and the scene repeated. All. Night. Long. I tried tying them up but they got right off the cable! Around 2:00 in the morning when I went out, I was almost knocked over by a horrible stench. Those dogs had been sprayed by a skunk! I had already been calling them “stinkin’ dogs by that time so I was feeling a little prophetic. This time, when I led those dogs away from the rabbit hutch and scolded them I started looking around for the hidden camera. Surely, this was not happening to me! When it was nearly morning, I wised up. I raised our window so I could hear when the dogs got crazed again and I could holler the dogs’ names without going all the way outside to calm them. The raised window had its pros and cons though. That skunk smell? You get used to it after a while. Each time I hollered at those dogs, they obeyed and left that poor rabbit alone…for about 15 minutes at a time. So basically, they are dogs with a short attention span and no impulse control. No wonder I was drawn to them. I was contemplating sharing some of Sydney’s medication with those dogs before the sun came up.

Oh, I almost forgot one of the “best parts” of this story. One of the dogs is named Julie. Julie is my little sister’s name. So, every time I yelled at that dog I thought of my little sister. Yelling at that dog was like stepping back in time about forty years. 

Sydney was up at first light and took over where I had left off, tying to distract the dogs from throwing themselves at the rabbit hutch. Even when they were not barking and trying to eat that rabbit through the wire cage, they were sitting beside the cage, staring and drooling. Finally, late in the afternoon, the two dogs went and sprawled out under my van and took a nap. I used their nap time to call the dogs’ original owner and arrange to take them back. For some reason, that guy was a little hard to get ahold of and pin down to a time to meet. He'd been so eager to meet up the day before. I wonder why? We got 'er done though. We unloaded those dogs in a hurry and sped away.

When we returned home without those stinky dogs, we were able to coax all the cats down out of the trees and Febreeze the car. Does anyone out there know of an animal therapist that can help our poor rabbit? She used to be black but now she’s white and she seems to have developed a nervous tic. And now, once again, we are looking for the perfect dog. Added to our new list of requirements is that the dog must be rabbit tolerant, cat friendly, and not share a name with one of my sisters. We've got a lead on a Golden Retriever but that fell through. Then I was sure we were going to adopt a Doberman but that was not in the cards either. We are still looking. 

If you have not yet read about our recent tragedy and the loss of Pepper, who truly was "the perfect dog," then you might want to click on the link below.

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