A View of My Garden in a Mirror 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#2 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

I apologize for the delay in posting. I have had a very busy couple of months and unfortunately it has taken me away from the computer. I will try to catch up and make several posts the rest of this month so I can get back to "gardening" talk.

Peaches with one of her goofy looks

#2 on my list of 10 things I love: Dogs, dogs and more dogs!
My "soul mate" dog Slab was 14 when we had to put him down last year. My heart was (still is) broken. He was one of those dogs that was a puppy but behaved like an adult dog. He fit in the palm of my hand yet his tiny little body would sit by the door waiting to go out. He never needed potty training, he just figured it out. At 2 months old and a Heartland Humane Society rescue he was a gem.  When we picked him out of the litter he was too busy taking a nap to open his yes. Our friend Josh said "name him Slab, half Sloth, half Lab.  At first it was a joke and we planned to change it but it just stuck. Slab's body quickly grew to 75 lbs, though his head never quite caught up. (Genetic testing later determined he had some pug ancestry, go figure) Since he was a mutt he must have taken all the best genes from the pot because he was such a good boy. He was so mellow he would eat out of the same bowl as a cat. He never trampled my flower beds and loved to stick his head through the sun roof when he went for a ride in the car.  He was obsessed with his ball and would do the most humorous things while he was playing with it. If you would put the ball up to his face he would give you this "James Cagney" lip thing and pretend to growl at it like he was tough until you threw it for him. He loved to play chase through the house and wanted me to catch him so we could roll around on the floor and play. In his later years his arthritis started to get the best of him and he no longer wanted to play ball or chase. He was satisfied to sit at my feet and look at me adoringly. I will miss that dog forever.

Slab as a puppy with his buddy "ball"
Slab playing with "ball"

Slab "sneering" at the ball

Slab at Age 13 sunbathing

Slab taking a ride behind my bike when he was too old to run. 
He still loved to tag along for a ride.

When Slab was 13 we were toying with the idea of getting another dog after visiting with a boxer owned by one of Keith's co-workers. This is when I became addicted to petfinder.com in the "possible" search for a companion for Slab. We wanted a mellow dog that would keep him company while we were at work. After a couple months of searching we saw a boxer named "Red" that looked perfect. To make a long story short, Red and Slab did not hit it off. Red's style of playing could have injured poor old Slab so he was not going to go home with us. However, the woman from Save the Pets in Eugene told us about an event that day at Pet Smart and suggested we stop and look at the dogs that were up for adoption. 

This is when we met Peaches. Her whole body moved when she wagged her tail. She gave Keith sloppy wet kisses on the face and he was smitten. Then she licked Slab's face and proceeded to fall asleep with him on a big pillow. Perfect! She also happens to be a pitbull. What? A pitbull? We never in a million years thought we would own a  pitbull. But she turned out to be a wonderful dog and not like the pictures painted by the media about this breed. She is a big goofy girl who loves to do tricks, loves to cuddle on the couch, snores big time and cracks us up with her antics. She greets people at the door, and if they aren't careful will give them a big sloppy kiss on the face. She loves children though it may be because their faces taste good when she licks them. She pulls Keith on an adult tricycle around the neighborhood for exercise which could be why her body could compete with a Mack Truck. She sleeps with the best of them and we usually have to convince her it's time to get up in the morning so she can move to another spot to sleep for the day while we are at work. She is a good girl and was a good companion to Slab in his last year. 

Slab and Peaches taking in an afternoon nap

 Peaches wearing her "doggles" so she can go for a ride in the car

Slab started to show signs that he was in pain constantly and then he stopped eating. We did what any best friend would do. It was by the far the most difficult thing I have ever done. I didn't want to let my baby go but I knew it was the right thing to do for him. He will always be missed.


In trying to replace the "irreplaceable" I went to Safehaven, a local animal shelter "just to visit". At the time I had been volunteering and working with the dogs (Keith still does). The weekend before I had comforted a one year old dog named "Freckles" and I couldn't get her out of my mind. She was was scared to death and needed someone to rescue her.  She crawled on my lap and looked at me with those big eyes saying "take me home, I don't belong here". Not only did she need to be taken away from the noisy shelter but she needed to be rescued  from a lifetime with the name Freckles! Egad! We introduced her to Peaches and it was love at first sight. Unlike the introduction with Slab, this time Peaches and "Freckles" did what looked like a choreographed dance of play. Peaches jumped and turned in the air and dove in and out of her soft doggy condo rolling around, enticing her new friend to play with her while "Freckles" gladly obliged. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen and I kick myself for not having a video camera to film it. I did manage to get this funny shot. This is how mellow Peaches is, the new dog came home and humped her head and she just stood there in shock and let her do it. Luckily this did not become a habit, it must have been her way of greeting Peaches and saying "I love you!"

Peaches in shock from the new dog's "Greeting"
The name Freckles was way too cutsie for our new dog. (Like Peaches isn't cutsie? Hey, she's a pitbull and needs a cutsie name). We were told she was a red heeler mix, but she looks more like the dogs we used to see living on the streets in Mexico. Sort of like a 36 pound Chihuahua. She probably has everything in the mix which resulted in a curly tail and pointy ears. We kept thinking she could be one of the dogs out of National Geographic. Why, that's it, she looks like a skinny Dingo! So that is why we changed her name to Dinga. 

The shy scared girl at the shelter opened up when we got her home and started sharing with us all her "issues". Dinga adored Peaches, but when she was on a leash and saw another dog she would start barking, growling and jumping around humiliating whomever was trying to take her for a walk. She also became obsessed with shadows and light to the point where she couldn't relax. Her obsession with "getting" the light and shadows resulted in holes in the walls, floors and carpet. Yes, we had adopted a dog with major issues. Given that we are dog lovers and volunteer at an animal shelter, we were not going to be one of those people that returned a dog like it was a purse. She was ours now and we would just have to figure out a way to "fix" her. So, after doing some research we took her to the vet and started her on Prozac. Yes, she is now a happy Prozac Dog.

The Prozac worked wonderfully for the obsessive compulsive behavior. She calmed down and no longer had to chase shadows and light constantly. However, it did nothing for her leash reactivity. We read dozens of books and articles and knew we needed outside intervention. This is when we found Best Friends in Corvallis. I took her to be evaluated by owner and trainer Dana Stillinger. She told me Dinga was afraid of other dogs and needed to be "desensitized". So once a week for seven weeks I took her to Best Friends and we watched the other dogs being picked up by their owners from doggy daycare while I fed Dinga Velveeta cheese. The idea was to associate something good like cheese with other dogs. To make a long story short (too late now) she eventually calmed down enough to be enrolled in an Obedience Class. Thank you Dana! Given her history she couldn't go into the class like the other dogs so with the help of Teresa Hall who is absolutely fabulous, she was gradually brought in with the other dogs by the 3rd class. Teresa was a huge help and we eventually graduated! 

Dinga now goes to Doggy Daycare at Best Friends once a week and they call her a "party girl" because she is up all day hanging out with the other dogs with NO issues. Whew, it is amazing and I still get the chills and want to tear up whenever I take her there and she behaves herself. Don't get me wrong there are still times when she reverts slightly to her old habits, but between the Prozac and the training it is quite the miracle. 

She now follows me wherever I go and looks up at me adoringly. Isn't that the greatest thing about dogs? They look at us and don't see all the flaws. Or maybe they do and just don't care. They love us unconditionally. That is why dogs are on the list of 10 things I love.

 Dinga the "Prozac Dog"

"Little Big Ears"  I wonder if she will grow into them?

 Don't look, this last part is totally humiliating!

It's a good thing I'm on Prozac

You're next Peaches
You know I'm a pitbull right?


  1. They are some of the cutest dog photos I have ever seen, my dogs included. The first and last ones are hilarious.

  2. I love it! My dog is getting up there and I hate to think of what our home would be without him...they really just become our best friends don't they? You have a lovely family of doggies! Great commentary on those last shots ;)

  3. Hi Annie~~ The life story of Slab and how sad it was to lose her was heartbreaking [even though I was already familiar with it]. Peaches and Dinga are such an adorable duo. Love all the photos and the story of your #2.

  4. What an absolutely wonderful post, Annie. It has been worth the wait! Yes, I've been one of those hopefuls, checking periodically, willing you to come back out into the sun to play...today, my wish was granted!

    You write so eloquently and I loved reading Slab's story. I feel exactly the same about Heathcliff (he's 6 this year). Peaches is so cute and what a marvellously even tempered girl she is! Kudos to you & your husband - she's like she is, because of the way she's been loved and raised. Dinga's story is also heartwarming. Have you ever considered writing a book about your dogs???

    I'm looking forward eagerly and enthusiastically to the promised flurry of posts :)

    Big hug,

    Des xo

  5. What a great post! Dogs are such wonderful creatures.


  6. What a lovely tribute to Slab. Parting with our beloved pets is always difficult. We, too, have a pound puppy. It is hard to believe that Max will soon be 13. He still acts like a kid. He is a German Short Haired pointer, so at one time he was super hyper. Now as an old man, he sleeps a lot unless there is something to sniff out in The Garden Spot. Your wonderful story reminds us all not to take our pet children for granted, rather to cherish each and every day we have with them. cheers and Merry Christmas. ann

  7. Considering I have five dogs I've rescued and also volunteer at a no-kill shelter, I love this post!! All of my dogs have issues, but hey, don't we all?

  8. Thanks for the comments all. It is heartbreaking to see our pets get old. But they bring such joy to your life that I think I will always have a dog.

    My husband received a birthday card last week that said:

    Why do we love dogs so much?

    Because when they see us naked they don't point and laugh. :) Ha!