Finja and Her Friends, Chapter 2

I spent 2 weeks going to Conny’s every other day to give Finja her medicated bath. She was very wary of me, the bathtub, and the whole process, but we endured. When the 2 weeks were up, it was time to bring Finja home.

Finja under the table

Homecoming was an exciting day – for me, not so much for Finja. I held my new little Boston in my arms as we drove the short distance to our home. She trembled like a leaf in a windstorm the whole way. The tighter I held her, the more she shook.

Welcome home. We’d put the other 3 dogs in another room to avoid Finja going on complete overload, but on overload she went anyway. She made a beeline for under the dining room table and except for going potty and eating, that’s where she stayed for 2 weeks, growling all the way.

How did it go with our other dogs? At Conny’s Finja was part of a pack of 5, so our meager 3 actually gave her some comfort. Let’s put it this way, when they were around, the growling ceased, and when they were off doing their thing, back under the table Finja went, growling every time one of us looked at her.

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Posted in Animals and Rescue

Finja and Her Friends

Chapter 1: In the Beginning

I have a little, 13-ish pound Boston Terrier named Finja. (Her weight varies depending on how many treats she begs off her many neighborhood friends.) She came from an Amish puppy mill, and when she arrived to be with her foster mother Conny, she was basically hairless with skin issues and terrified beyond belief. Conny knew we were looking for another BT to join our then pack of three, so she encouraged me to come over to her rescue home every other day to assist in giving Finja her medicated bath. And so I did. And so Finja and I built a strong bond, albeit slowly and gently.

Here’s how Finja arrived in New York. The angels in the rescue group that got Finja drove out to Ohio to an event where dog breeders sold, exchanged, and gave away those pups they no longer wanted. The rescue grabbed Finja because the Amish miller thought her skin issue was due to mange, a very difficult ailment to treat and one that is highly contagious to other dogs and humans. This is how Finja came to Rochester and landed into the loving home of my foster Mom and friend, Conny.

Next Chapter: Under the Dining Room Table

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The Sweet Sounds of Summer (?)

A lovely summer afternoon, gentle breeze, sweet smell of honeysuckle, and most important of all – peace and QUIET.

City of Long Beach, CA

I want to scream. I have a sweet little 8 foot by 6 foot pool in the backyard that I call my sanity spa. It is equipped with a donut-hole float, and a long, raft-float. My summer vacation consists of reading while I bounce about in the donut and take naps while floating on the raft. It is an idyllic existence for spending a leisurely summer during the pandemic. Except for …

WHEN IT’S NOT QUIET!@!

And much to my deep chagrin, this is often the case.

So, you say, buck up and let the neighborhood kids enjoy their summer fun!

It’s not neighborhood kids.

Well then, let the boy next door enjoy practicing his drums.

It’s the boy next door practicing drums, nor the girl across the street playing the piano.

Could it be a gaggle of crows wanting to chase away some poor, unfortunate owl?

No crows, no owl.

None of the above.

Here’s a hint:

The other day I had sunk into a lovely rapture while floating on my raft when I sprung off it in a fit of frustration and fear due to the suddenly loud and intrusive buzzing of a hedge trimmer.  

My neighbors. My butt to backyard neighbors. My 60-something neighbors. My obsessive-compulsive, yard-fanatical neighbors. My neighbors who often mow their Pebble Beach Golf Club-perfect lawn every day. Who trim their 2-foot high hedges once a week. Who had near-apoplexy when the water company had to dig up their lawn to fix a broken water main.

Take your pick: lawn mower, hedge trimmer, power-washer, edger, weed whacker, oh, and dare I forget, their daily greeting as they float about in their own, much-bigger-than-my pool. (Did I mention the moaning of their pool pump?) If you’re looking for non-natural yard noise, come join me and let the cacophony begin!

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Posted in Editorials, Life Experiences

The Last Breath

The hardest part was feeling his soft breath on my arm as I held him, knowing that in just a few minutes his breath would be no more.  Lying in my arms, cradled in a blue and white flannel blanket, he was calm and relaxed, free from the illness that ravaged him and made his body so fragile and deformed.

Brinkley was 15. He’d had a good run, though his last few years were tough. He developed Addison’s disease and had many bouts of illness where, as my vet said, we did not think he’s be going home with you. He always came home. Like a cat with 9 lives, only there weren’t that many for Brinkley.

Brinkley always rallied. He was on long-term prednisone, which kept him going and comfortable, except when it didn’t. He was also blind and deaf. He negotiated where he was going by swinging his head back and forth to catch tell-tale odors that guided him. We had to be ever-so-careful to keep him from falling, but despite our efforts, he had several rendezvous apiece with the water bowl and the window well. Towards the end we had to carry him in and out to go potty. Even closer to the end, he couldn’t poop at all.

It was time. He told me so. He told me so when he turned his nose away from his food bowl, when he had no interest in cuddling, and when it was obvious to me that he didn’t know where he was anymore. It was time for that dreaded drive when he wouldn’t come home.

I will forever cherish the memory of my Brinkley’s final breaths on my arm.

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Posted in Animals and Rescue

Beware of the Doggie in the Window

My dear sweet friend recently lost her precious pup to kidney disease and at the same time, a beloved family member moved out for distant horizons. It is now, she has decided, time for a new puppy.

My cuddle puppy

Always hot on the trail of puppies, I did some research for her and found an ad in the Buffalo, NY classifieds for a French bulldog. Price? $900. Red flag number 1. This is a ridiculously low amount for a French bulldog.

Buffalo is only an hour from us, so no big deal to hop in the car and see these puppies for real, except, said the “breeder,” – they were already gone.  However, she said, she “had a friend in Texas” who has Frenchies for sale and gave my friend the contact information.

My friend contacted the Texas breeder, who also claimed to have 2 puppies, also $900 or 2 for $1500, including transportation. Too good to be true? You got it! Still, a picture arrived that tugged at both of our hearts. However, my friend is a very wise woman. Something just doesn’t feel right, she told me. And it wasn’t.

This morning I did a Google search on the photo the Texas “breeder” sent to my friend. Lo and behold, there was the exact picture with the now 18 month old Frenchie that was “sold” a year ago.

Puppy scamming has been on the uptick, like so many things, during the Covid pandemic. But like my friend and I did, there are things to watch for. These include:

  • “Breeders” that do not want you to “see” the puppy on premise. Always see the puppy with your own eyes, and touch him with your own hands.
  • Emails or text message communication only, often with poor grammar and spelling
  • Payment with gift cards or wire transfer only
  • Pictures that turn out to be fraudulent. To check:
    • Download the picture and save to your computer
    • Access Google Images
    • Load the picture to the search box
    • Click search or hit Enter
    • For scams, you are likely to see the exact photo on another site, which is what happened with my friend.

We all need companionship and love during this time, but the key is to avoid scams where perverted people prey on the needs of others.

My friend will definitely get her puppy, and when she does, she will have a warm, loving baby to cuddle up with and adore.

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It’s a Small, Small World

Do you remember the song, It’s a Small, Small World  from the wonderful rides by the same name at Disney World and Disneyland? For some reason, that song is stuck in my head– not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s meaningful because my world has become very small indeed. Like many of us, I only go to the grocery store, have Zoom meetings with colleagues, friends, and docs, and spend lots of low-key time and reading, reading, reading.

Now that it’s summer I do much of my reading in my little backyard swimming pool. It’s not exactly lap-material, but it is plenty big to let me float with my butt tightly wedged into my inflatable donut. Thus, I drift happily along while absorbed in my latest tome.

I have always been a homebody, so the pandemic didn’t cramp my style, too terribly, anyway. I relish the daily routine and rhythms of our home. I look forward to my everyday walk with my Boston Terrier, Finja, and my regular bicycle rides. Granted, I spend way too much tine scouring for the latest dirt on Trump, wishing that the bottom falls out from his 2020 bid.  

The fall looms, and with it, more time cozied up at home. My classes for the fall will be held online, so no worries about walking through rain and snow, or driving on icy roads. Like so many others, I’ll be working here in our home, with my precious dogs at my feet, my conure-bird in her cage as I grade papers, and being safely cocooned in my very own small, small world.

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Posted in Animals, Covid 19, Pandemic

Lament from a Sad Citizen

I received a letter from a former colleague who testified that the corona virus is all a big hoax and a conspiracy conjured by Bill Gates who he claims has profited during this pandemic. This from another (very) rich man. I wrote him back and simply said, “You’re crazy.”

I see daily messages from the leader of my country who proclaims the virus is going to disappear, like magic and who refuses to wear a mask. Ignoring pleas from medical experts, he conducts huge rallies indoors with no social distancing, and of course, no masks, urges states to “open up” and return to business as usual, mocks his competitor for wearing a mask, and all this while the rate of the disease skyrockets. He is not my leader.

It is confounding, and immoral that the this virus has become a source of contention between Republicans and Democrats. I feel lucky to live in New York, in a state where our Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo led our state from having the highest number of cases in the county to at present, the lowest. He did this without politics. He did this to protect his people. He waged the Covid war and won. Now it is the Republicans who won’t wear masks and urge states to hurry and open up. Republican governors are doing just that. It is the states lead by these Republican governors that are drowning in Covid.

I feel safe here in New York until the inevitable happens and people from states where Covid is running rampant come and bring with them the illness against which we fought so hard. We will then have to fight the fight again under the guidance of our very capable governor.

Thus I am proud to call myself a New Yorker. I am ashamed to admit I am American.

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Posted in Covid 19, Pandemic

My Old Horse

Buzzy and I have been good friends for 20 years. I rescued him from the harness racetrack in Saratoga as he was actually on his way to a can of dogfood. He was 8 and robust then, he’s 30 and tired now.

We don’t have too much more time together, but we’ve had a glorious ride! Crazy times, fun times, scary times, adventures, sickness, and more. Our bond was one of sickness and health when his jaw was broken after another horse kicked him. It had to be wired back together surgically, and he then got salmonella from the whole experience. I spent nights lying with him in his stall. An IV bag was slung over the stall door, and I desperately held his exhausted head in my hands, willing him to live. Despite blood like sludge and impossible white cell counts, just like my vet said, this was a horse that had life in his eyes, however dim it might be. Life won!

I could fill a book with our times together, and as I write this, I think I’ll do just that. But in the meantime, this is a photo taken yesterday of my boy he stretched his neck to get that last carrot in the bag.

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Alone, Together

Life has not been much different for us during this pandemic. We are solitary souls who enjoy each other’s presence even though we relish our separate spaces in our home. Still, knowing he is in that other room is soothing. We are well suited in that way. I am an only child and grew up in near seclusion and he is deaf, living in a world of near silence. Most of our communication is unspoken. I know embarrassingly little of sign language, and he now has a cochlear implant that doesn’t respond well to voices. (One downside of the pandemic is he has not been able to see the doc for an adjustment). But we manage and have comfort in our distinct yet conjoined worlds.

Despite our cocooning in our cozy little home, I feel strangely merged with the outside world. It is a scary world, but also a hopeful one. Fear comes in the form of the white House and the resident monster that lives there. Hope comes in the form of the hundreds of thousands who have watched a man die unjustly and come forth throughout the nation to protest his death, and that of all black lives who have been handled cruelly based on bias and prejudice.

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Posted in Covid 19, Pandemic

The Birds are Gone

What a lovely little saga took place outside my front door for the last few weeks. Every morning I went out with my coffee and journal to see how the babies in the nest in our lamp were doing. It was such fun seeing how they grew — and how quickly! Every time we were out there, both Mama and Papa perched directly above us. At first they in a frenetic flutter but eventually settled into a more relaxed chirp — surely just to let us know they were there. They did indeed show excellent parenting skills.

The last few days the babies were suddenly BIG, and I knew the time was near. It was. This morning the little nest in the lamp was bare. Who knew I would grieve the end of the sweet little saga of the birds in lamp?

I ask myself, if life had not been boiled down to a level of simplicity I’ve never before know, would I have noticed. let alone relished, the developing life of a baby bird and the doting of her bird parents?.

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