So there are a lot of animals around here. And in case the name of the blog didn't tip you off, there are five dogs to be exact and one cat that rules the roost. They're a hodge podge kind of crew... gathered by me through the years as strays, shelter adoptees and rescues from bad situations.
In an effort to bring some kind of order to this list, I've chosen to introduce them in order of age:
The grande dame of the house is Scarlett, my 12 year old fluffy and adorable rescue cat. She literally followed me home many years ago and became my very first pet. She comes when called, keeps the dogs in line, and loves when we have visitors over to the house.
I have never felt anything as soft as her fur, and when she gets excited, she drools. Scarlett knows it's not very lady-like, but she just can't help herself. When she starts purring up a storm, it's bound to happen!
It has taken her some time to adjust to the chickens. I think she's been confused by the fact that they are almost exactly her size. Every other animal that has come into the house has always been much, much larger than Scarlett, and she's known exactly what to do: pop them on the head a few times and make sure they know who's boss. But the chickens seem to have her confounded.
I love this little baby doll. She's my snuggle buddy, and the prettiest kitty ever.
Oliver is the old man of the bunch at nine years old. Also known as "The Shrieker" due to his propensity for mindless and pointless barking that sounds like a banshee. But he can't help the way he sounds... he was born deaf and I'm convinced that since he can't hear himself, he has no idea how absolutely and completely annoying it is (I typed that lovingly, I swear).
But he also holds a special place in my heart because he is my first ever rescued dog. I spent a great amount of time many years ago in the pouring rain on Valentine's Day attempting to coax him toward me. I'm not sure if I finally convinced him I was a friendly pal or if I just wore him down, but he ended up in my arms and I've never let him go.
He's got some quirks... always has. He likes to stick his head in the shrubs in my yard and just stand there for as long as I'll let him (he considers the Christmas tree to be a giant indoor shrub and so every year I have to rearrange the Christmas lights on the bottom of the tree on a daily basis). He has the tiniest little feet. It looks like he walks on his tippy toes. I'm convinced that's the biggest reason he won't go near water. And as he's gotten older, we've had a few seizures here and there, but luckily they haven't been serious. He's always been my needy boy, but that's ok. I wouldn't have it any other way.
This little black bean is one of my favorites (shhh... don't tell). I'm completely confident that this dog was made for me. She's practically perfect in every way, and even when she's not, it makes me love her even more (i.e. she's a bossy little thing).
She's another rescue right off the street. Well, right out of the Burger King parking lot. That's where I found her... scrounging for food near the dumpsters. There was no having to convince this precious girl. She knows a good thing when she sees it. She bolted right into my arms, I put her in the car, and I swear the look she gave me was "What took you so long?"
So it turned out she was pregnant, and this little nugget popped out six adorable babies. She was a good mom, but as usual, she wasn't afraid to discipline her brood. She's the smallest of my pack, but she definitely is head honcho.
Mona Mae is my girl who loves to work. I'm glad she was the first dog that I took to training classes because she made it easy. Not only is she incredibly bright, but she really does love to train. Things come pretty easy to us as a team, and every time I train something new with her, she amazes me all over again at how wonderful she is.
MacDougall is an older fellow at seven years old, but I've only been fortunate enough to have him in my pack for a little over a year. He's a chain rescue. He lived most of his life roaming the countryside (un-neutered unfortunately), and then when neighbors complained, he was chained in the backyard. Thankfully his family realized that he wasn't in a good situation, and allowed me to take him in. This "foster" quickly turned into a permanent part of my family because of his sweet personality.
According to his DNA test, Mac is mostly Great Pyrenees/Akita/Rottweiler. And when we went through our training classes together, he definitely made it clear that those aloof breeds in his make-up are alive and well. He was the most challenging of all my dogs to train, but that's ok. He's the most chill dog you'll ever meet, but that means he just has zero interest in doing... anything. But he makes a great couch buddy, and even though he hasn't been here long, I can't imagine my pack without him.
I rescued Penny from the shelter several years ago after I saw her picture on the euthanize list. She was literally about to pop with puppies, and had the most terrified look on her face that I have ever seen. I didn't care what her deal was or what her temperament was like. I was determined to go get her out of that scary place and bring her home so she could have her babies in peace and comfort.
I picked her up at 4:00 PM on February 28th and Puppy #1 appeared at 4:00 AM on February 29th. Baby Lulu was quickly followed by seven other puppies, and Penny and I soon had our hands (or paws) full. I was the only person she would let come near her babies, and instead of worrying that she wanted to murder anyone else who came too close, I fell in love with this crazy, volatile dog that trusted me simply and completely after only a few short hours together.
Now that the pups are gone and grown, she has become more accepting of other people, but only those who have earned her trust and those she considers part of her family or inner circle. At first, she was completely and totally neurotic... guarding her food and toys from the other dogs in the house, blocking their path into certain rooms, keeping them off her chosen dog bed. These days, she's only moderately neurotic. We've all come to an understanding, my other dogs have learned to let her have her space, we've trained and worked on her behavioral issues (with varying success) and we get along peacefully (most of the time).
He was one of the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen (second only to my beautiful yellow boy Sullivan). Even though he was emaciated and his neck had been rubbed bare by his chain, I thought he was perfect.
He was a bit rough around the edges... mouthy, rambunctious, had no idea how to walk on a leash. But nothing out of the ordinary from a normal, 10-month-old puppy. What was different was that he radiated joy. He still does. Even the way he walks into a room - whether it's simply my bedroom or the room of an elderly resident at a nursing home that he's visiting - brings sunshine into the furthest corners. Four years later, people stop us on the street or in the store for a chance to meet him (maybe I should have kept the name Elvis).
I could write a whole long list of adjectives to describe him, but it would be too long. If you can think of a positive word, it applies to him. His only fault in my opinion is that giant streak of slime he often leaves behind after resting his giant head in your lap. But one look into those beautiful grey eyes, and it's all forgiven.
in memory of SULLIVAN
Sullivan was my first dog as an adult and out in the world on my own. He was a perfect gentleman. A bit shy and wary of strangers, he had the most gentle and kind soul. He never met a tennis ball he didn't love, and was drawn to water as if it had magical powers.
He was a typical Labrador in that he would eat until he exploded. I never wanted to test the theory, but I am undoubtedly right. He was a complete chow hound. And as many other rescued dogs passed through my house - some just passing through and others staying to grow our family - he took it all in stride and made friends with every single one.
I absolutely did not have enough time with this special boy (although when do we ever get enough with any of them?) when I lost him at only six years old. But what a six years it was. I miss him terribly, and I know that will never change.