April 5, 2011

It’s a typical Tuesday night.  We’re all curled up in our respective corners making a dent in our DVR’d shows.

IMG_0078 IMG_0061

I’m noodling around on my laptop, and I happen to start scrolling through the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s (AWLA) adoptable dogs site.  How does this happen?  Not sure, although it probably went something like: Facebook, ModCloth, Netflix, LinkedIn, AWLA.  (All roads pretty much lead to “dog” at this point.)

I scroll through the adorable mugs of dogs available for rescue and adoption, and I almost drop the computer.  There’s a picture of a small, round puppy that’s mostly pink snout.  Her ears are tucked back against her head and she’s looking with blue (are they blue?) eyes at the camera in true doggy-fishbowl fashion.  We take a look at her profile, but there’s not much there.

Her name is MJ.  Her dad’s a red-nosed Pit Bull and her mom’s a Catahoula Leopard Hound (go ahead and click that link; I’ve never heard of it either).  She’s from a litter of 11, 8 of which were dropped off for rescue.  She’s been at AWLA for over a week, which is odd since puppies don’t really hang around much.

It can’t hurt to file an application, right?  Get to the head of the line, since it looks like she’s just been cleared for adoption…

We submit our app, and then we promptly rearrange our work schedules in order to stop by AWLA to meet MJ first thing in the morning.  We’re giggly.  We ask Doodle and the Diva what they’d think about having a little sister.  Just like when we were waiting for Zo, it’s an anxious, restless night.

April 6, 2011

We’re up with the sun, which isn’t super-abnormal considering both pets get nibble-y around 6.  Everyone’s working from home until we can head over to the League at noon, and it’s the longest. 6. Hours. Ever.

We’re by the front desk the moment the adoption area opens for the day, and we proudly say “We’re here for MJ.”  I, apparently, shout it, because the woman behind the desk remarks on our (my) enthusiasm.

A volunteer takes us back to a puppy room, which is a small play room with a drain in the middle of the floor and toys safe for baby teeth.  She says she’ll be back, and we sit on the bench and fidget.  We don’t talk.

The volunteer returns with a small, pale cannonball of a puppy, who is pulling at the leash so she can come say hello.  Doing that funny Pit Bull “I can’t bend my elbows” strut.  She winds between our legs like a cat, licking our shins and hands and anything her tongue can reach. James pulls a toy from a tub and they start to play tug.  I sit on the floor, and MJ leaves the toy and wiggles over to me.  Her rump is the perfect size to nook in my crossed legs.  She touches her nose to mine (her eyes are most definitely blue), she sniffs, and then pees all over my jeans.

I’ve been marked.  James laughs and the volunteer apologizes.  It doesn’t matter.  There is no way we’re not bringing this girl home with us.  She’s mine now.

Ours.  I mean ours.


Tooth Fairy

July 2008, continued

Zozo is the most charming pupper-doodle ever.  Eh-VER.  He’s sweet and goofy and smart.  Here he is with a rope toy.

with rope toy

Other than Dragon, who is gingerly moved from one corner of the apartment to another like a security reptile, this rope toy becomes a go-to Mama’s Little Helper.  When Zo gets antsy in his crate, we drape the rope in, around and/or through the crate sides and the puzzle is on.  When he gets nippy, out comes MLH for a game of tug-of-war.

Know what else comes out? His molar.  It klinks to the floor in a moment of absolute silence.  We both look at it, he with curiosity (can I eat that?) and I with terror.  I broke the puppy.  I played too rough, and I’ve destroyed Zo’s dental integrity.  There’s no OW in fun.  Game over.

Quickly, I run to the kitchen and pull out an ice cube for the pup to nom until I can verify if his mouth is bleeding.  However, he’s more interested in herding the cat and rearranging our dining room chairs.  Completely unphased, his world continues on.  Why these things happen when I’m home alone with the pets is beyond me, but it’s starting to feel very unfair.

Maybe it wasn’t a tooth, I start to explain the situation away.  Maybe it’s a pebble from a shoe that just happened to fall out of thin air the very moment you and Zo were playing.  I’m muttering.  I carefully store the possible pebble-tooth in a ziplock bag, and I try to go about business as usual.

James has taken off work tomorrow.  I’m finally heading back in to the office after spending two days at home housebreaking and crate training the dog. I’m rereading the sections I’ve highlighted in “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” in hopes that we can start positive reinforcement obedience training later in the week.  I’ve over-thought my fur-motherhood.  I’m tired and it’s good that I’m inserting myself back into my pre-Zozo routine.

I call James twice from work the next day, casually asking if Zo seems to be salivating more or indicating soreness in his gums from the empty socket where his molar used to be.  Nothing to report.  He sends me pictures of Pupperdoo (that’s nickname numero uno, thankyouverymuch) so I’m involved in the going’s on at home.  Napping.  Pee breaks.  General boy stinkyness.  I wish I was there.

Finally home from work, I’m on the rug puppy-pouncing with Zozo while James cooks up dinner.  Zo bobs and I weave and he clonks his head against my chin. Plink.  I freeze and he trots away to the kitchen, looking for a carrot or some cat food.  Still splayed on the floor, I stare at the tooth and erupt into tears.  Our six month old new dog is losing his teeth, and it’s all my fault.

I pick up the phone and call the vet’s office, but it’s after hours and I’m redirected to the Alexandria Animal Hospital.  The tech who answers the phone listens to my guilty confession.  She asks for Zozo’s age, his breed and for a general health history.  She puts me on hold.  I’m gesturing to James that he should find the leash so we can get in the car because the dog is obviously dying, but my charades aren’t particularly specific or good.

Both Zozo and Athena have made their way over to me.  He’s licking the salt from my cheeks, and Athena bats the tooth across the floor.  I’m up, nudging her out of the way to prevent it from gliding under the couch, and Zo gets excited at the activity.  “Oh, we’re running!  The cat is being my friend!  This is the best night of my life!”  He barks for the first time, a tenor that sounds like a tarnished New Years noisemaker.

The tech doesn’t return to the phone, but the doctor on duty does.  Turns out he’s the same vet who gave Zo his first series of puppy shots yesterday.  “Tell me what’s up with our boy.”  I recount the tug of war and the head-bonk.  I tell him we have two dog molars in a ziplock bag.

“Wow,” says he vet, and I can’t breathe.

“I’m really sorry, it was an accident,” I plead.

“No, this is really cool.  We never see them.”

“See what?”

“Puppy teeth.  You know dogs lose their teeth like human children.”

“…. oh… oh yeah, sure.  Totally, yes.” I’m lying.

“Usually, they fall out when they’re eating and they end up swallowed.  We don’t get to see them.  Can you bring them in with you when we see you in a couple of weeks?”

“Sure, yeah. Yes. Totally.”  Because rearranging the words makes me feel like less of an ass.

I hang up the phone, and I relay our prognosis to James.  Totally normal.  Zozo’s just losing his teeth like any other little boy.

I’m getting a beer.