Monday, January 27, 2014

Meet The Diva

The Diva is a nine year old calico domestic short hair, who joined our family at the age of about five weeks.  She was a feral kitten whose mother had her kittens under my office building  She was one of only two kittens in her litter to survive, and was the last to be rescued.  One of her brothers was rescued and adopted by a girl in the office building next door, though sadly, his identical twin was not so fortunate.  I was able to capture him (rather easily in fact, as he was so weakened), but despite my vet's best efforts, he was so sick and weak that the advice I got was that the most humane thing to do was to euthanize him.  

After that, I wasn't holding out  much hope for The Diva, but she hung on for four days after her one brother succumbed and the other was rescued, doing so, I believe, out of sheer stubbornness. We set out Hav-A-Heart traps baited with tuna and canned food, but The Diva would not be tricked. A co-worker got within a finger's reach of her once and tried to grab her.  The Diva bit her, (setting off an avalanche of resultant drama, as clearly she was not vaccinated) and then fled.  It was a cat and mouse game of epic proportions that went on for days, except that in a strange turn of events, the cat was actually the mouse, and we humans were the woefully inept cats.  

Finally, in a last-ditch effort that involved a co-worker distracting her while I shimmied on my belly into a crawl space (my office at that time was located in an old Craftsman style bungalow with a crawl space beneath), tried not to think about the spiders, other insects, and who-knows-what-all-else was sharing that crawl space with me, snuck up behind The Diva, trapped her in a corner, and with nothing but a hastily grabbed promo T-shirt from a local radio station between my hands and her flailing kitten claws and sharp kitten teeth, I scooped her up, and hastily exited the crawl space, miraculously managing not to get bitten, clawed to ribbons, or encountering any spiders, snakes, or other creepy-crawly things in the process.  

I hadn't planned on getting a kitten ... but I have to admit that even as my co-worker drove me to my vet's office, with me holding The Diva (who may have been filthy, bedraggled, dehydrated, and half starved to death, but still had a glimmer of her future Diva-ish-ness about her) on my lap, I was starting to mull it over in my mind.  My fate was sealed when I picked her up from the vet's the next morning (she had been treated for dehydration, gotten a good meal, some kitten shots, and a much-needed bath), I was amazed to see that under all that grime and filth was the makings of a stunningly beautiful calico girl, and although I'm sure I'd have loved her just as much had she been homely, her gorgeousness was certainly a welcome surprise.  

Over the last nine years (ten this spring), The Diva has fulfilled the promise I saw in her as a kitten.  I knew she would be beautiful, and she is.  I also knew, to put it bluntly, that when cornered or crossed, she would make Joan Crawford look like Mother of the Year.  She is the uncontested queen of the household, a crown that I conceded graciously, and that The Flying Monkey knew better to contest.  As for The Paragon, The Hunk, and The Baby ... they definitely know better.  The Diva doesn't play, and while she mostly rules with a look from her green-gold eyes that could melt steel, she is also not afraid to voice her displeasure with a hiss, a caterwaul, or a well-timed swat of her dainty white paw.  

And this girl can pout  ... like for weeks.  Months, even, if the situation warrants, such as the time I brought The Hunk home as a six week old kitten.  Despite The Hunk's numerous kittenish charms The Diva let it be known that he found no favor with her whatsoever, and not only did she not embrace (then, or really ever since) The Hunk, she clearly blamed me for having brought him into her realm, and held me responsible for the upheaval he caused in her eyes. 

And yet, The Diva does have a soft side.  She is extremely affectionate, and when you are sad or ill, she will come up and give you the sweetest little air kisses with her nose right against your face. She loves to cuddle and snuggle, and adores being brushed.  Any sort of pampering is fine by her, and she not only enjoys and appreciates it, but sees it as her due. As, of course, it is.  She is a Diva, after all.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meet The Paragon

The Paragon is a ten (soon to be eleven, and I can’t tell you how that fact gives me pause) year old Chinese Crested, who’s somewhere between a Powderpuff and a Hairy Hairless, according to the Chinese Crested breeders I’ve consulted. As a bit of back story, The Paragon was a rescue pup who I adopted in the fall of 2003, hence the confusion as to his exact coat type, and in fact the confusion as to his breed in general. Truth be told, he had been with me for three years or so before I knew what breed he was, and I only found out when I took him to be evaluated for therapy work and the woman who was evaluating him told me so. I had him down on his paperwork as a terrier mix, as it seemed more precise than “I have absolutely no idea,” and she was confused initially, thinking she had the wrong paperwork or the wrong dog, but once we sorted that out, she told me in no uncertain terms that I had a purebred Crested on my hands, and not the motley mixed breed I had thought.

Not that it made a whit of difference to me, (though it did solve the mystery about why his front dewclaws had been removed, something you don't normally see on dogs that aren't purposely bred) but once she told me, it was like a light bulb went on, and the breeders I consulted and sent his picture to concurred. Those familiar with this breed probably know, as I did not, then, that the differences in Cresteds’ appearances based on grooming and whether their ears were taped as puppies (The Paragon’s were not) can be pretty dramatic, (if you don't believe me, Google Chinese Crested images sometime and you'll see what I mean), so I use that as an excuse as to why I had this dog for three years and saw him every day and had no idea what he really was. Not that I really needed an excuse, but my ego WAS somewhat bruised. After all, I was a dog-obsessed child who grew up into a dog-obsessed adult, and by the time I was seven or eight I could identify all the AKC-recognized breeds by their pictures, and correctly spell and pronounce most of them. I know my dog breeds, damn it, from Affenpinscher to Yorkshire Terrier, and just about every breed and variety in between. Or at least I’d thought I did, until The Paragon made a fool out of me. Ah, well. Keeps me humble, I guess.

Anyway ... where was I? Oh, yes … The Paragon. The Paragon’s real name is not, as you have likely surmised, actually The Paragon. That would be a bit pretentious, it has zero nickname potential, and would be extremely embarrassing to call out at the dog park. "The Paragon, come here!"  Yeah, I'd sound like an idiot.  Even as I sit here writing this, I'm blushing.  And I'm pretty sure the dog in question is cringing on the inside.    

However, I have often been quoted as saying that he is the perfect dog, so there you go. His alias was born.  Or christened.  Whatever.  But for those of you who don’t already know him, either in real life or from our former blog, here’s a little nugget I’ll share with you in the interest of total honesty: (because the only sound foundation for any relationship, including the one between Blogger and Reader, is honesty, right?)  So here goes: The Paragon is not, actually, perfect. Don’t get me wrong, he’s darn close to it, but still, he’s not, technically, 100% totally and completely and absolutely perfect. He does have one or two flaws.  

Flaw #1: He barks. A lot. Not incessantly, mind you, but often. And more loudly than his sixteen-pounds-soaking-wet size might have you believe. He has always been this way, but truthfully it has never really been THAT big of a deal. A minor annoyance, mostly.  After all, he does quiet when asked, and he's otherwise so perfect, almost angelic really, not to mention insanely adorable, that the barking thing was just never an issue.  Not in the entire ten years we've been together.  But recently, this teensy-tinesy little flaw did become AN ISSUE.  (Which is a subject for another post, so I'll save it for another day, so that, God willing, I won't have to write another post about door mats!)

Flaw #2:  He's a nosybody.  Not in a bad way,  ... he just always wants to know what everyone is up to.  Not that he judges regardless, you understand.  He just wants to be in the know.  Like, all of the time.  
One morning, during the first few days I had him, I was in the shower washing my hair, when all of a sudden the shower curtain parted, and in jumped The Paragon.  Not being especially fond of the water, he didn't particularly want to get wet, although he definitely DID get wet ... he just wanted to see what I was doing in there.  It's mostly me that he's interested in, a
nd it's pretty much his mission in life to know where I am and not be more than a few feet away from me at any and all times, but people in general seem to fascinate and engage him, and he loves just about everyone, with few exceptions and just about zero reservations, even if they don't love him back.

Case in point:  a 
year or so ago, one of my co-workers poked her head into my office and said "Hey, can you come get The Paragon? He's in the meeting and I can't get him to leave." (See, I have this boss who is kind of a mad genius, and he's  extremely demanding and tries my patience practically to the limits of my tenuous hold on my sanity on pretty much a daily basis, but who is a pretty amazing person despite this, and who lets me bring my dogs to work, and so, because of this, I have to love him even when I want to kill him.)

Now, normally I don't bring The Paragon or The Flying Monkey (who I'll introduce you to later) to work with me when we have clients coming to the office, but this was a meeting of the unscheduled/impromptu variety, and so it happened that The Paragon and The Flying Monkey were both at the office that day.  Last I had looked, they were both snoozing in their bed next to my desk, but I had gotten wrapped up on a phone call and apparently The Paragon was feeling nosybodyish and had decided to check out what was going on in the conference room.  When I went to fetch him, there he was, sitting at rapt attention, as though he would later be asked to recite the minutes.  

Flaw #3:  He's busy.  Not a busybody ... which we've already established that he is. (See Flaw #2) But just plain busy.  As in ... has a hard time settling down, regardless of how much exercise he has or has not had, or how worn out he should or should not be.  He's not hyperactive ... he's just curious ... about everything.  What will happen if I push that (insert name of object here) with my nose?  How about if I tap it with my paw? Shove it with my head?  I swear if he had thumbs, or was human, he would be the one building a space shuttle in his garage.  He would be a big-time tinkerer. A mad scientist type, right down to all the hair on his head standing on end.  Sometimes this trait is entertaining, or downright endearing.  Often, though, it's pretty annoying.  I do not like being distracted by wondering what that banging sound is on the second floor when I'm down in the den trying to watch Revenge.  

So ... three flaws.  Really ... just the three.  Well, wait, I just remembered something.  He snores.  But actually, I find this nothing but charming, so it doesn't really count as a flaw.  So yeah, just the three.  OK, so maybe he's not really a Paragon.  Maybe he's just the Mary Poppins of canines:  practically perfect in every way.  Practically perfect is still pretty good, though.  Regardless, for my money, (and no disrespect meant to The Flying Monkey or any of the other dogs I've known and loved over the years) he's the best dog I've ever had or, I'm sure, will ever have.  I don't know how I got so lucky, but I know one thing: I won the dog lottery the day I found him.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Hello, and welcome to our blog.  I say "our" because although I, the human, am the one who will actually be writing the blog, I wouldn't have much to write about (unless I wanted to write a blog about advertising, which I most definitely do NOT, or how someone needs to invent a 12 step program for people trying to shake their addiction to Pinterest, or how I am pretty sure that Facebook is the devil incarnate, and Twitter is its evil spawn) if not for the cast of characters I'll be introducing you to a little bit later.  There are five of them, and for the purposes of my blogging efforts, they'll be known as The Paragon, The Diva, The Hunk, The Flying Monkey, and The Baby. Fair warning:  I might, sometimes, in the interest of brevity, (which is not generally my strong suit, by the way) refer to them as TP, TD, TH, TFM, and TB.  They do have names, but my little fur monsters value their anonymity, and after my/our previous blogging efforts, they have all but threatened me with life and limb if I attempt to exploit them as shamelessly as I have in the past.  In fact, they only agreed to be featured here if I would use aliases instead of their real names, and copious amounts of treats may have been were also involved.  (Now, some of you who have come to this blog from our previous one will already know their real names, but as you are our friends, they trust that you will keep this information to yourselves!)

For those of you who don't know them yet, over the next few days, I'll introduce you to each of the fur monsters, tell you a little bit about them, their histories, and personalities.  For now, though, I'll just give you a snapshot ... literally.  

 The Paragon

 The Diva

 The Hunk

 The Flying Monkey

 The Baby 

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by, and again ... welcome!

Or perhaps I should say ...


(This is, if you were wondering, the exact doormat you would see if you visited me at my house Somewhere In Florida. Disclaimer:  It's actually not the exact exact one that is outside my door, it's really a picture I found online of the one that I have.)

(And while I was Googling pictures of doormats, I must say that I also really like this one ... )

(And this one ...)  

(And I've already decided that if I ever have to go into the Witness Protection Program, I'm going to request that my name be changed to Mat, just so I can get this doormat.  Uh oh ... does this mean I've blown my cover?)

Hmm ... I seem to have gotten a bit off track here ... but at least I've discovered something else I could possibly blog about in the future.  So that thirty minutes I spent Googling doormats was NOT a waste of time.  

Anyway, welcome again, and I hope you'll come back soon!