Monday, October 28, 2019

I belong with you, you belong with me

Today is the 2-year anniversary of my beloved HRH the Kone’s death, and it still feels as if no time at all has passed.  His last days haunt me, as does the guilt that I did the wrong things, and the end was terrible. I’ll never not be bitter that he was stolen from me so early and in such cruel fashion. And I still cry every time I think of him; Kone was my heart, my soul, everything.

I recently had an epiphany of sorts, realizing that getting a dog in general makes absolutely no sense, as it always leads to certain heartbreak in the end. Always. Given lifespans, there can be no other ending: it’s like an endless loop of Logan’s Run, where everyone dies at the age of 21. Or 35. Whatever, it’s fuzzy. But this is one part of why I’m anti-dog, for myself at least.

Having said all that, rattling around in a big house with a big fenced-in yard alone seems churlish, so at the beginning of the year I started fostering for the Marion County Dog Shelter in Salem. It’s been…..interesting. Let’s take a look back, shall we?


I offer to foster Enzo, a stray who they have little info on other than that he’s not good with other dogs, so he needs a no-pet foster home, and he’s too skinny. Miss Tasha’s Fatten ‘em Up Camp it is! Sweet Enzo is a devilish little rascal who wastes no time in making himself at home. He loves to snuggle, play with all the toys, and has no manners whatsoever. Thankfully he’s a quick learner. He’s adopted by a wonderful couple that I stay in touch with.


I….who….what….why, why did no one ever tell me black Labs are insane? Aster is the sweetiest, smushiest, cuddliest black bear of a Lab…and she’s insane. Or at least my definition, where she does. Not. Stop. At all. Ever. There’s no off switch. No matter how much I throw the ball, she lopes back to me happily, waiting for me to toss it again. And again. I bribe Thomas and Allen to throw the ball for her, but they prove themselves to be an unreliable workforce. (Note to self: avoid hiring cheap labor ages 5 and 7.)
I develop chuck-it elbow. I get two, and rotate throwing. It’s not enough. We go to different dog parks in my foolish hopes that a new venue will get her excited and tire her out. Hahahahaha!

She too goes to a wonderful couple, after I query multiple times about their previous Lab experience. They know. Whew.


I haven’t had a chance to foster all spring/summer due to bike stuff, travel, then the aforeblogged medical stuff. Somehow I randomly decide the week before I’m going out of town (again) that it’s a good time to get another foster, so I offer to take Zeek, a Dobe mix of some sort. I’m schedule to pick him up that afternoon, when I get an email.

Shelter person J.: I just learned that Zeek is on hold to be adopted, sorry about that! Could you possibly take Opie? He’s a 10-year-old Chihuahua who’s stressed out in the shelter.

Opie? A geriatric Chihuahua? I’m bemused by the thought of me, the quintessential big dog person, with a wee pup named Opie. Okay then!
Then, another email.

Shelter person J: I’m sorry again, I just learned that Opie is going to a rescue! How about Murphy? We don’t know much about him and could use some additional info.
Me: Sure! And I’m happy to take a different dog as well, just let me know what’s needed.

I go in, and A. tells me about Murphy.

A.: Honestly, he seems kind of feral – we actually had to catch him in a trap since he was eluding us for so long. So far I’m the only one who’s been working with him.

A. and another employee D. and I go outside with Murphy – or rather, A. takes him to the outdoor fenced-in yard, and D. and I follow at a distance. Murphy looks at us only to look displeased at our presence.

A.: I’m the only person he’s really been in contact with, so he might only trust me. We think he might have some wolf in him?

We all gaze at Murphy and his big black shaggy wolf-eyed self. Murphy now refuses to look at any of us but has his tail down and exudes unapproachability.

D.: Look at him! He’s so BEAUTIFUL!

I look at Murphy, who looks like he wants to eat anyone who isn’t A.

A.: You know, I’m not sure it’s the best idea to send him to a home with a brand new person, given he’s only comfortable with me so far. We should try getting him used to other people at the shelter first.
Collectively: So, maybe another dog?

We head back inside, and I tell A. to just let me know what other dog needs to get out of the shelter most, if only for a week before I leave town. She’s about to bring me back to meet a couple, when we’re informed that apparently that’s a no-no, A. can only describe them and then I can choose from that. Okay then.
A.: Well, there’s Pongo who’s a pit bull mix, very sweet, stressed out in the shelter, around 80 pounds. Then there’s Tommy, a Thai Ridgeback, REALLY hates the shelter, around 45 pounds.
Me: I….damn. I really really love the pibbles, but…I can’t walk very well and have an upcoming surgery, so I should probably take the smaller dog since he’ll be easier to handle. Okay, I’ll take Tommy.


What the hell is a Thai Ridgeback? Time to do some research. Hmm. “The Thai Ridgeback is a primitive dog breed that originates from Thailand, dating back at least three thousand years, and while it is common there, it is very rare in other parts of the world. In fact, it is estimated that there are only a thousand Thai Ridgeback dogs outside of Thailand, and only about 300 in the U.S.”

Okay, so clearly this isn’t a Thai Ridgeback, because how would one of these end up in a shelter in Salem? Granted, he does have a ridge, so that must have prompted the guess at a breed by the shelter.

Then I look at some pictures of actual Thai Ridgebacks. And…..he’s the spitting image of one. Then he yawns. And….his tongue is black and blue, like it is for TRs. I guess that’s what he is then. They’re stubborn, extremely smart, very active, escape artists. This should be interesting.

The next day

This is the most ridiculous dog I’ve ever seen. I take him out to explore the big yard, and suddenly, it’s zoomie time! Whee! Except whereas most dogs get the zoomies once in a blue moon, for Tommy it’s a non-stop thing. Which isn’t BAD, of course, as he’s tiring himself out, but it’s unusual.

And he leaps like a springbok.

And he’s perfectly potty-trained. Not one single accident – he waits until he’s outside to pee. He also has a perfect sit and shake. Wth? I find out that he kept escaping his house, and this last time, in August, his owner didn’t want to pay to get him back. Escape artist – check.

That week

“Tommy” is a completely inappropriate name for this guy. He also has zero name recognition with it. I’m not sure what else would fit, but one day as I’m calling him, it just pops out: Kingsly. Yes. Kingsly. That fits. I’ve also learned that the TR is considered the “Royal Dog of Thailand.” Royalty, really?

Well, he may be royal, but he’s certainly nothing like my Kone. Kone was the most chill, laidback, fearless, happy-go-lucky little man ever. He assumed everyone was put on earth to pet him and that naturally he was welcome everywhere, because everyone adored him, which was basically true.

Kingsly is skittish, inscrutable, aloof, wary, and the shelter has said he’s “dog aggressive.”  Awesome Friend Peg and I meet at the dog park so that Kingsly can meet her pups, and yep, he doesn’t like them very much. There’s no biting, but lots of snarling and teeth. I start to wonder if Kone sent him to me – since Kone came along when I was diagnosed with cancer the first time around, and now I might have cancer again, and here I randomly wind up with this funny rare little dog under very convoluted circumstances. But I don’t want another dog ever, so that’s that.

The breed overall is one that every article notes – repeatedly – needs “an experienced owner,” and I can see why. Some fool trying the “alpha male” routine would get his face bitten off. I worry about the likely idiots who might want to adopt him, just because he’s a rare and exotic breed. Before I take him back to the shelter as I’m getting ready to go out of town, I try to find another foster who’ll take him, with no luck. I bawl as I’m taking him back – the guilt is overwhelming. No wonder he’s wary; people keep letting him down. I’ve already told them my view on potential adopters:

“He should ONLY be placed with very experienced dog people. Have they had dogs? Have they had primitive dogs? Have they had a THAI RIDGEBACK TAN IN COLOR WHO WEIGHS 53 POUNDS? No? That’s a CLEAR no then.”

End of September

I’m planning on picking him up as soon as I get back, but I get back on Monday the 23rd, and because there was a cancellation, my surgery was moved up to the 25th. I let the shelter know that I’ll get him after my surgery date, and they tell me that I should know that he’s deteriorating in the shelter. My poor little guy. Surgery is Wednesday, and on Thursday, since I can’t find a good Polish Fest or Oktoberfest to go to, I decide to head to the shelter to pick up Kingsly. Makes sense to me.

Trainer/Behaviorist Day

Purely so that the shelter has more info, I’ve found a behaviorist who’s going to come by to assess Kingsly to see if his dog aggression is manageable, if it’s a breed thing, his upbringing, etc.  She does some really interesting tests and sees how smart and wonderful he is. He does his usual zoomies and this time bowls me over, and I’d be falling over laughing if I weren’t already on the ground.

The shelter has people who might be interested in him, and they want to know if I want to keep him and I don’t know what to do. No dog can ever replace my sweet Kone, and my heart is too broken to let another pup into my life.

On the other hand, how did I wind up with this odd ultra-rare royal dog if Kone didn’t drop him into my life? Or is that just a lie I tell myself? I ugly cry, as always.

Kingsly is starting to settle in a little, as he shows me his tum to be scratched, and goes upstairs for sleeps.

I hear Kone’s voice in my head as I keep dithering:

“Momma, come ons. I sent you the most ridiculousems dog I could finds. Really, you need to thinkums about this?”

He does have a point. To wit:

-   Kingsly LOVES massages. If I start massaging his back, within 3 seconds his eyes droop and suddenly his bones disintegrate and he topples over, falling like a tree.
-   He bounces like a kangaroo…..but won’t jump up on the bed at night. Yes, I have to lift him.
-   He loves ranch dip.
-   He does yoga poses.
-   He snores. Loudly.

-   I cook special treats for him for training: steak, chicken livers, roast chicken. When I give him one, he sniffs at it suspiciously. Curls his lip back, touches a tooth to it, lets it drop to the ground. Sniffs it some more. Sometimes he leaves it (roast beef, really??). Other times, in the absence of the royal taster he desires, he’ll think “mayhap I shall deign to try the foodstuff the peasant is offering” and will delicately eat it. Then the other day I idly picked up a bag of store-bought treats I had and offered him one. What did he do? Suddenly omg it was the HAPPIEST DAY EVER as he gleefully snatched it out of my hand, tossed it into the air, danced around in jubilation, then triumphantly pranced off with this oh-so-special of sacred treats. What was this treat you ask? A BEGGIN’ STRIP. No lie. Beggin’ Strips. I shake my head.

I’ve done some sleuthing, and have found out more about his background, from the original owner having him shipped from NYC, then him somehow winding up with this other person in Salem, him escaping and being on the lam back in April for almost 2 weeks and being hit by a car, then in the shelter, then with loony Salem person, then escaping again and her not getting him back and him being stuck in the shelter again.
I’m not surprised he’s slightly broken, wary, and highly suspicious. We’re kind of a perfect match that way.

I signed the adoption papers last Friday. 

That same day, I took a pic of him as he was going into the back foyer. When I looked at that picture later, I saw that Kone had given Kingsly his pawstamp of approval. A slightly goofy pawstamp to be sure – “Momma, I did the bests I could!” – but what else would it be? Message received, Mr. Handsomes, message received.

I believe HRH the Kone has just welcomed you to The Manor, little Kingsly.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Some of us surviving

Surgery day

I get up and dress like the badass warrior I am: socks that say “It’s a beautiful morning….don’t fuck it up” and my axe-throwing, rifle-snipering t-shirt that says “Do Epic Shit.” Awesome Friend Peg is driving me to surgery, and while I was nervous in the days leading up to it, now I just want to get this shit over with. I’ve also brought my usual brownies, as I do to every surgery. I figure, they haven’t killed me yet so obviously it’s working. Far be it from me to mess with success.

I’m disappointed that the bureaucrats at the hospital have deemed it necessary for people to wear hospital socks into surgery, the ones with the bumpies on the bottom, as if to say that people not slipping and falling and cracking their heads open is somehow more important than cool socks. Bah.  Dr. W. ,Surgeon to the Stars, bounces in and I insist on showing him my socks.

Me: See? “Don’t. Fuck. It. Up.”
Dr. W.: Hmm. I like those, but….

He takes them and folds them over so that only the “It’s a beautiful morning” part is visible. I look at him skeptically. I’m not sure my curmudgeonly self can truck with this kind of Pollyanna-ish nonsense, but on the other hand, he’s the guy with the scalpel. Robot. Whatever. I graciously let it slide.

Off to surgery! I always refuse Versed so that I can dazzle everyone with my witty banter, but for some reason, they always seem to put the mask on my face right away. Odd. Before I know it, I’m at the bottom of a well and someone is talking. “Blah blah…benign…lab…….test…..blah.” I gather that the Borg is in all likelihood benign but they send it to the lab for testing. Everyone is so damn nice at this hospital, but they kick me out later that day anyway. At least it’s not like the wayback hospital in my beloved Dodgeville, WI, that wanted to send me home when I had bleeding on the brain and a crushed collarbone after my bike crash.

“Oh look! She’s fine!”

I believe at that point I was offering everyone a teacake and insisting that I had Ironman in 3 weeks. Repeatedly. But yes, I was fine.

That night

Peg drives me home, and after a nap, I start looking for festivals I can attend the next day, also as per tradition. I’m doubtful there’s anything like the Polish Fest I went to in Chicago the day after my concurrent cancer/broken collarbone surgery, but perhaps an Oktoberfest? (I’ll note that I was on heavy psychotropic drugs at the time of my visit to Polish Fest, unlike my friend.) (*cough* Deanna *cough*)


I can’t seem to find a local Oktoberfest or anything similar, and my disappointment is palpable. So instead, I decide I need to go pick up my foster dog in Salem – the almost-2-year-old very hyper bouncy pup who I had fostered before surgery. This seems logical.

Otherwise, well, I’ve had so many surgeries I could pass them out like cheap party favors, as I like to say. I’m sore, big deal. I’m back working the next day. I take a total of two oxy, one the night after surgery and one the next morning, and am done with them. Neighbor Laura brings me food, Awesome Carlyn sends me dinner by delivery service. Lab tests confirm that the Borg is benign. Fuck yes.

Final post-op appointment

Being back at the doctor’s office is a revelation, because everyone’s so damn happy. This is good, of course, but a bit different, until I remember oh yeah, this is an oncologist’s office. Where if things have the not-so-good outcome, you have ovarian cancer, which is brutish and cruel.  So hell yes, no cancer, let’s party! I’m contributing to the festivities because I brought Dr. W. a jar of boozy cherries and a jar of gin pickles. I even get to see a picture on his computer of the Borg!

Me: Wait, that huge thing, that’s it?
Dr. W.: Yep. Just took it right out. And I checked your liver too, looks good.
Me: Oh, it does look plump and happy!
Dr. W.: …….
Me: Anyway, I make boozy political jams, but if I don’t know people’s leanings, I give them the more neutral ones, like Boozy Cherry Bitterness or Slim Gin Pickins.
Dr. W.: Political ones would have been fine too! Anything to help deal with that goober who’s in office right now.

Now, normally I’d look askance at anyone who uses that kind of terminology in my presence, but I then realize the ingenuity of this approach, ie of using ridiculously innocuous words in certain circumstances, and appropriately salty language in others. People will be so shocked, you’ll be able to get away with anything. Nicely played, Dr. W., nicely played.

I also belatedly realize that yes, one probably can read between the lines to tell if a scan or appointment is good or bad (beyond the obvious grim faces and “so here’s a referral for a specialist”). Thinking back to my MRIs, the right hip one in Silverton and the rogue ones in Illinois:

Silverton MRI tech: You’re talking to your doctor about these right away, then?
Rogue MRI in IL tech: So you have an appointment with your doctor as soon as you get back, right?

Now that this saga is over, I’m trying to get back to the important things in life. That is to say, cycling. And the quest for Hot Cowboy. Or, as I described my vision to HockeyWhartonCraig:

“So far my tactic of riding my bike in the hinterlands until I have a mechanical and am winsomely standing by the side of the road and then a Hot Cowboy pulls up and says "Hey darlin', need some help?" and then his dog jumps out of his truck chasing after a jackrabbit and we go running after the dog and accidentally fall into a muddy pond and the Rage Cows gather around and stare at us like we're insane........well, it hasn't quite happened yet.”

Hope springs eternal.