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.

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

My Sanity, My Dogs

My dogs have been my salvation during this pandemic and I think I may be theirs as well. They are so dear and devoted, happy to sleep at my side, cuddle in my lap, catch an errant Frisbee, or happily stroll along with me on walks.

We’ve done a lot of strolling these weeks. I have my one, youngish Boston Terrier who is my main walking squeeze. She’s come a long way with that, having come to us from the terrors of a terrier Amish puppy mill in Ohio. She spent her first two weeks with us ensconced on the floor under the kitchen table growling from fear and confusion. It is now four years since then and though still skittish, she walks (mostly) with confidence at my side and has (mostly) emerged from under the kitchen table (sans growl).

Brinkley is my old man. He’s 14 – 15 in September, and he’s pretty gnarled now, takes a low dose of prednisone daily to keep pain at bay. He can’t see or hear, and we have to be oh so careful with him to keep him safe. Occasionally he gets “lost” in the backyard and can’t find his way to the door. I must then go out and rescue him. I adopted him from a breeder when he was 6 months old after he’d been returned by two previous buyers and he’s been my lover boy ever since.

Sasha is also on the downhill slide at 12. She has battled Cushings Disease for years, but she has done so with grace and dignity. She is the low dog on canine totem pole in our home. Still, every day at lunch she parks herself at my chair and looks at me with big, doleful eyes that beg for the daily ration of her beloved carrots. She always gets them. I adopted her through a rescue group from a family that just didn’t want her anymore.

Finally, there’s Rosie. Rosie was allegedly a Boston Terrier, but with her longish snout we knew there was something else going on with her. Curiosity compelled us to get a doggie-DNA kit, and voila! We were right. Our clearly non-pure (but adorable) Boston was ¾ her namesake and ¼ Cavalier King Charles!! Go figure. She is my man-friend’s favorite but she puts a little twinkle in my eye, too. She is also the wild one of the bunch and her mission in life is to place a Frisbee at your feet.

About A Puppy Mill Boston Terrier

She often gazes off into space and she needs to be carried outside to do her business – back in, too. She startles easily so I do everything slow and easy when I am around her. She barks and growls, but only out of fear. She is in fact, gentle as a lamb. She is 1-year old. She had a litter somewhere between 6 and 8 months of age. She came with a skin infection. She is beautiful. She is mine. She is a rescued puppy-mill girl.

Fortunately, my new little Boston Terrier girl joined my existing pack, which is a big plus for puppy mill dogs. Mine have all embraced her – even my somewhat cantankerous older girl – and they seem intent on “showing her the ropes.”  She is getting it. Here a week and not a single mistake! In fact, she has a very clear, albeit unique, method of communication – she paces back and forth in a small area with no apparent purpose until I have an aha moment, scoop her up, and sure enough – instant poop and pee, outside, of course.

Puppy mill dogs are different from other dogs because their lives are limited to small, wire cages where they eat, sleep, poop and pee. They get little, if any, attention, and they are bred, machine-like, so the breeders can get as much out of them, and make as much money, as possible. I am sad to say that many of these breeders are Amish, who have a different view on the role of animals in life.

I was “lucky,” if luck is the word. My Finja was taken off the assembly line because of the skin infection, that still plagues her. I am also lucky, because unlike many puppy mill dogs who lack human contact of substance, my Finny is the first to snuggle against me whenever I sit. My third lucky is that Finny came to me from a skilled and exceptionally loving foster Mom who worked wonders in the short 6 weeks Finny was with her. But still, there is much work to be done, requiring patience, consistency, and oodles of love and affection. All I know is, I am lucky for all this precious creature is about to teach me.

The Ritual

100_0611Short-wearing season is over, and with it, the end of the ritual. Ritual? Argh, yes, the ritual.

You see… I have three Boston Terriers, one of whom is the little old man. He is indeed the littlest of the group at 10 pounds, as well as the oldest, at, well, we’re not really sure, because he was from a puppy mill, but the vet puts him at around 13 or 14. Our little old Timmy is nearly-blind – he walks into walls and furniture, and deaf – you have to scream before he turns his head in acknowledgement of your existence. Of course, his deafness could be a keenly-honed avoidance mechanism. But whatever it is, our happy little old man romps around gaily, when he isn’t sleeping, that is. And he does a lot of that!

Timmy is wickedly spoiled, and one measure of this is “The Ritual.” It goes something like this: during the last several years, Timmy’s favorite thing in the whole wide world to do is lick my legs. He is relentless. Anywhere I am sitting with my legs bared, there is Timmy at my feet, licking madly away. He takes this activity very seriously and would go on and on, forgoing even naptime, if so allowed.

One of the places he especially likes to do his licking thing is in my office, which is where the full ritual occurs. He licks and licks and licks until he gets plum-tired out at which point he puts his front paws on the side of my chair and ogles me with rheumy-eyes, making his request to be placed on the daybed for his daily snooze. He is thusly placed. Only this is usually not a one-shot deal. For whatever doggy-reason, he doesn’t settle into his final nap until after he’s done several rotations of down-lick-ogle and be-placed-on-bed.

With fall and jean season here at last, the ritual is on hiatus. For now, Timmy sniffs hungrily at the cuffs of my pants, occasionally finding a spot or two where he can get a few licks in. But with winter fast approaching, my soon-to-be head-to-toe covering means my little old man gets tons of goodies and loads of under-the-covers time.