Ketchikan Dog Park
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Doggy Common Sense?
|Posted on August 29, 2013 at 3:26 PM||comments ()|
We love our dogs. We would never tolerate hearing an ugly word against them from anyone else. But, I have to say, they are dumber than a box of rocks. If their collective IQ were gasoline, they wouldn't have enough to back out of the garage.
We built them a dog house. It cost a lot of money. It's on skids so that it's moveable and off the cold ground. It has a little ramp up to it so that the two lame ones don't have to climb steps. It is insulated. It has natural light, an electric light, and even a little heater on an extension cord. It has cozy beds, a big water bowl, and toys. But if we have been away and come home on a drizzly day, do we find our dogs reclining in the new dog house? We do not. We find them huddled on the back deck next to the kitchen door, a little furry dogpile of sadness, desperately checking their watches and hoping some kind stranger will come along and fix them a pot of coffee.
A sarcastic friend looked at the dog house when it was finished and asked why we didn't just go ahead and put a flat-screen television in it. (I'm not mentioning any names, but his initials are Don Hall.) He agrees that our dogs are something less than brilliant. If someone on television rings a doorbell, for instance, our crew can't tell it from our own doorbell. They leap howling to their feet as one unit, as if they were all connected by puppet strings, race across the living room, fling themselves down the stairs (and no, this is not why two of them are lame) and attack the front door like the Vikings attacked Britain. Or the grey one, who watches television, and, when he sees something on it he objects to (and he objects to nearly everything, particularly babies and other animals,) leaps off the sofa, races across the living room, skids to a stop under the television, and barks maniacally until we squirt him with the squirt bottle. That dog ends up taking more showers than we do.
Dave Barry wrote a column once about Lassie, who was so much smarter than her family, who kept getting trapped under the farm equipment, that they would have starved to death if Lassie hadn't filled out their crop reports for them. We could use a couple of Lassies around this house, but what keeps showing up here are anti-Lassies; we get the kind of dogs who not only would not understand that they were supposed to rescue us, but who would wedge themselves under the farm equipment with us, in the hope that we had forgotten to take the dog biscuits out of our pockets before we allowed ourselves to be flattened by that big green John Deere tractor.
As I said, we love them, and would not hear a word against them from anyone else, but truth be told, none of them are winning any medals in the Dog Brain Olympics. We've learned to live with it. But if someone out there knows Lassie personally, would you give her our phone number?
|Posted on July 31, 2013 at 12:15 PM||comments ()|
"Flunking Fostering." That's what it's called at the Ketchikan Humane Society when a foster family falls in love with their temporary pet and makes it permanent. How many people flunk fostering? It's probably about twenty percent. It's happened at our house. That's how we got Rocket Man, who was rented out here in town for stud services and whose primary value seemed to be the money he brought to his owners. Shut in a kennel almost all the time, he came to us emaciated, with infected teeth, ears, and nails, and urine scald all over his feet and belly. He was scared spitless of our other dogs, of feet, of hands, and most of all, of us.
We had no intention of keeping Rocket. Our job was to nurse him back to health, teach him about house training, socialize him, and then allow him to be adopted, where he would live out his life making some other family happy. One day, as we were watching him chase another one of our dogs across the grass in the sunshine, dodging in and out of the shrubs, ears back and tail out, and practically grinning from ear to ear, it hit us: We love this dog. This dog has already found his forever home.
Now, here's the thing: we have had ten dogs pass through our home since January, and probably about thirty in the last three years, and we have thought that about every single one of them at some point during their stay. You get attached. You can't help it. When you invest time and love in teaching these little strangers about living in a normal home and fitting into normal family life, you can start to think that they would really only be happiest with you. You look with a tiny bit of suspicion on the people who apply. It's hard to see them go to someone else. Even when you know that the KHS does a really good job screening applicants, even when you know that once an applicant has been approved, the home is going to be a good one, even when you know that your job is to help make a wonderful pet for someone else's family and there's no way you can keep them all, there's still that little hurt in your heart when you say goodbye.
But you know what? That's okay. That little hurt means you did a good job. You gave that animal love. You fed it the food the KHS provided, you took it to the vet for the appointments the KHS set up, you monitored its health. If necessary, you took it places where it would learn to behave properly around people and enjoy them. You taught it what it needed to know to fit into another home where it would be cherished and where it would give joy in return. You were a good foster parent.
We always need good foster homes. If you think you'd like to try fostering for the Ketchikan Humane Society, contact us via our website or email us at <[email protected]> and we'll tell you all you need to know about doing this most important job.