The Kids

Sometimes life works in the most unexpected ways. And sometimes you are presented with a situation where an opportunity presents itself that simply cannot be ignored or put off. Such was our adoption of our new “kid”, Chet, last December. Wednesday, December 19, 2012 to be exact.

Chet came into our lives in a most serendipitous manner. Deb had been searching the internet for places to donate to for the holidays. During one of her searches, she was presented with a list of 10 places — one of which was Dog Orphans is a no-kill shelter located in Douglas, MA that specializes in rescuing and adopting out dogs. When she looked at the website to see if this was a suitable place to donate to, she decided to take a look at the “orphans” being housed at the shelter then. Well, she scrolled down the page of available dogs she came upon a complete surprise — a pure bread Wire Fox terrier named “Chet.”

Mr. Chet was described as 10 years old and in excellent health. However, there were some troubling idiosyncrasies listed for him as well. He had nipped someone in the past. He was food and dog aggressive. In fact, he had been rescued by Dog Orphans because a local veterinarian refused to euthanize him per his previous owner’s request. These issues were even more troubling because we already live with two Wire Fox Terriers (WFTs) — Lily and Honeybelle, and there was no way we wanted to upset their happy apple cart with the  adoption of a newcomer who essentially may be the canine equivalent of Hannibal Lechter.

Now, I think upon seeing his, well, adorable visage she fell head-over-heels in love with him. You couldn’t help but have strong feeling for him…particularly since the both of us are crazy about WFTs and terriers in general. There is just something about terriers, and WFTs in particular, that inspires a zealous adoration of them by “terrier people.” Deb made the mistake of showing me Chet’s picture, and, well, I did the head-heels thingy too! But through this whole prospective love-fest, there was the nipping/aggressive behavior hanging over Chet’s head.

Well, between busy work schedules and Thanksgiving intervening, we couldn’t get to Douglas to see Chet for over three weeks. But I kept torturing Deb with my want to go and meet him and my dread that he was some kind of monster that we simply could not adopt without accepting great risk to our girls and ourselves.

But we decided to bite the proverbial bullet and go visit Mr. Chet to see what this legend looked like in person. So on Saturday Dec. 16th we trekked down to Douglas to Dog Orphans — which by the way is smack-dab in the middle of nowhere in the Douglas State Forest on Route 16. When we got there, we were directed to the kennels, which reside in the converted basement of a former ranch house. There, almost across from the entrance door was Mr. Chet’s kennel. He was actually smaller and cuter than we had expected. He was super-energized by the visitors in the kennel (although Deb and I were his only admirers at the time) as well as the barking and activity of the other dogs, so he really didn’t notice us much. In fact he would quite nervously run outside into an open exercise run area then back inside without regard to us or anyone else.

One of the attendants suggested that we take Mr. Chet into a small sitting room off the kennel area to get acquainted. So, we took him there on a leash and we sat with him for a while while he explored and sniffed and, embarrassingly, peed on Deb’s leg. Oh well, so much for his social graces. But we got to stroke him and give him a cursory check out. Naturally he didn’t know us from a hole in the wall, so he was sort of aloof and more interested in his surroundings than in us.

So, we asked if we could take him outside to walk him around and let him calm down and focus. And we did this. But we also had an ulterior motive! We preemptively took the girls with us with the intent to introduce them to Mr. Chet on “neutral” ground. So, we walked Chet around for 15 minutes for him to explore and pee…and just get used to our presence. Finally, there was one point where I decided to pick him up and talk to him face-to-face. Whereupon to my surprise he licked my entire face. Needless to say, he had me right then. Chet was coming home with us.

So, Deb went and got the girls one-by-one to meet Chet. As we hoped, there was no aggression and no problems. In turn, the three of them got to meet one-another. They sniffed and generally ignored each-other…giving each other a cursory once-over and then basically milling around us as we waited to see if there would be an illicit sneer or lip curl on any part. We were absolutely relieved and delighted when there were none!

So…it was time to go meet with the administrator that we wanted to take Chet home. But there was one small issue that stood in the way of taking Chet that day…Mr. Chet had a very prominent rectum that quite visibly protruded greater than what we had known (from the other dogs we had owned) by what looked like a half an inch. We wanted Chet to be checked out by Dog Orphan’s vet to make sure he didn’t have a more serious problem. Regardless, we were going to adopt him…we just wanted him checked out. So, he had to stay in Douglas for a couple more days until he could get his check up.

Well, his “butt inspection” came on Monday, and to our relief, he was cleared to come home with us. The best the vet could determine was that he has a case of “puffy butt” due to his having been neutered later in life…which causes such an occurrence in some dogs. This was later confirmed by our two other vets. This condition doesn’t bother Chet, so it doesn’t bother me. [And with a clever "butt coiffure," this issue is completely unnoticeable!] So, we made arrangements to go to Douglas once again to pick up Chet for his ride home. Home…what a great sounding thing!

So, on Dec. 19th, 2012, Chet came home with us. To his home. And there he has been since. During the first few weeks, there were a few outbursts — the new pack had to establish its pecking order. But thereafter, it has been a thoroughly peaceful house. Chet, it seems, is a gentleman and very demure with the ladies. In fact, it has been established that Honeybelle is “top dog” and Chet does not object. He is anything but food aggressive, and he gets along tremendously with both Honeybelle and Lily. However Lily, being blind, growls at him because she just can’t get used to him because she’s never seen him and thus mistrusts him. But he does try to gain her favor as he gingerly licks her eyes, even though she shows a full mouth of teeth to him. After a few minutes of tender , persistent licking, the fanged sneering turns to the occasional grunt. Chet still is working his charms on her with mixed results.

We set up a crate in the bedroom for him so he would have a safe place he could retire to. But he tends to “retire” for the night between 9 and 10PM…to the bed. When Deb and I finally turn in, he then retires to his crate for the night. And boy can that little dog snore!

Chet’s a great eater…when we first picked him up his ribs were showing and he was voracious when he ate — which may explain his reported food aggression. If I were that skinny, I would be pretty greedy of my food resources, I will tell you. Like Honeybelle and Lily have had done for them for years, Chetty has all his food home-made from fresh meat (bison, turkey and other novel proteins) and veggies…with the occasional store-bought mix-in: We think this gustatory treatment has blown his mind! Still, out of an abundance of caution, we’ve kept him separated from Honeybelle and Lily during feeding times. But that really isn’t necessary as there have been times when we’ve forgotten to close the gate…and nothing has happened. Nothing! (since we’ve adopted him he’s already gained two pounds and you can no longer feel his ribs.) He’s proven himself to be a gentle soul and a perfect house mate.

But there is one thing Chet is for sure…a sneaky escape artist! He has pulled this escape trick three times…the last time he came within inches of being hit by a car as he bolted into and down the street, helter-skelter. Thankfully we found him in the across the street neighbor’s yard, gamboling through the snow, after the first time he escaped. The second time he benefited from the ID tag we purchased for him just after his first escape. A fellow called us from the parking lot at the hospital down the street from us (about a half a mile away) informing us he had our escapee in his van and to come and get him. Upon retrieving him, the man told me that he was almost hit by a car in his frantic running about. After this escape, we put a plan into action — when either of us leave the house, Chet is locked behind the baby gate in the kitchen and then released after we’re safely out the door. If both of us leave, he’s crated so that we’re not greeted by an escape upon opening the door! When either of us comes home, we ring the doorbell and wait for the “all’s clear” signal from whomever is home at the time before opening the door. He had one accidental escape after we implemented our plan because he’s so damned persistent. After almost being hit, I jumped in the truck and tracked him down — I found him about 1/4 mile from home (only after about 30 seconds on the loose!) running full tilt down the street that leads to Clinton proper. I cornered him and when I called him to come to me, he immediately jumped in the truck and began to kiss me on the face. So much for being angry with him…oh well.

He’s all set up with his new doctors…both locally and at Angell Memorial in Boston. He’s had both physicals and eye checkups and passed all with flying colors. All the doctors comment that Mr. Chet walks with a “confident” gait. That’s for sure!! And he gleefully kisses his physicians for their troubles!

So Mr. Chet is now a comfortable member of the Marini household. It’s almost like he’s always been here. He spends his days defending the house from invaders (USPS and UPS) and choosing comfy spots to snooze when he’s not laying in the sunbeams on high alert. He also loves going for his daily walks around the neighborhood with dad. He prefers to speed walk, so I’m getting my fill of long-overdue exercise, for sure.

Deb and I hope that we have many years to come to spend with our little man Chet. He’s someone very special!

Rest well my little friend. I know that you are with God. You have given us so much…you loved us unconditionally, and I hope you knew that you were well loved. Your pain has ended, but our hearts are broken.

When you entered our lives in 1997 as a wriggling little clump of black and white fur, we could have never imagined how much we would grow to love you. You showed us unconditional love, and you taught us so much about stoic bravery, as you had your share of setbacks during your life. From having melanocytoma in your right eye in 2006, and having it removed…to having pancreatitis and nearly dying in 2008, and ending up with diabetes that required 2 shots of insulin per day…to having frightening grand-mal seizures in the summer of 2012…you showed us a peace, courage and a love of life that we will always admire and that will always inspire us.

I am certain that you were sent to us because God knew that you would teach us great humility and patience…and He knew that we would stick by you in thick and thin. We hope that God wills that we will see you again when we end our journeys here on Earth. It would be a great disappointment and heartache not to be able to hold you again and to be in your loving presence.

Rest well my little boy.

One last word of farewell, dear master and mistress.

Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret

but also happiness in your hearts at the remembrance

of my long happy life with you: “Here lies one who loves us and whom we loved.”

No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you,

and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.

Eugene O’Neill

My heart is broken and my soul aches. My little Daisy was struck by a car and killed today after she escaped out the back door of my home and charged into the road after a dog being walked. She died in my arms. I don’t have kids…so my dogs are the closest substitute that my wife and I have. And I can’t claim a monopoly on grief…my wife is devastated and inconsolable. But I just don’t have words to describe how much I hurt.

My office is in my home, so my four dogs are my constant companions. And Daisy and I had a special relationship…she always had me within eyeshot, and if I sat down on a couch or a chair she had to be in a position to lay a loving paw on me so that there was a physical connection between us. I worshiped the ground she walked on, and from her actions, I knew it was reciprocal.

God has His reasons why these things happen. I will never presume to second guess God. But in my despair, I have to ask “Why?”

I pray for God’s strength and grace. I’m going to need a lot of both from now on.

Our Miss Lily had double cataract surgery a little over a month ago. The operation, performed by Dr. Ruth Marrion at the Essex County Veterinary Referral Hospital in North Andover, MA,  was a complete success! Lily has had two post-op checkups, and everything was, in the doctors words, “Perfect!” She has to complete one more post-op checkup at the end of June and if all goes as well as it has so far, she will be all set for the rest of her life!

Whew…the results and that news were a load off our minds as Lily had only functional vision with her severe cataracts. Being only 8 years old, we couldn’t imagine her having to live with her poor vision for the rest of her life. It was unfair to her…the cataracts were caused by our necessary use of cortical steriods on her when she was younger because she had and still has severe skin allergies.

She now  gets a monthly allergy shot and she eats a special diet, but the damage was done. So, as a result, she has had her surgery and received two replacement lenses to replace her cataract-clouded natural lenses. She’s still getting her post-op eye drops three times a day, but the change in her has been nothing short of remarkable.

She can see again! (Hooray!!) And based on our observations of her behavior, she can see quite clearly and acutely. This is a very good thing indeed.

Isn’t she lovely with her two bright eyes???

I’m going to get this out right at the beginning…I would do anything for my dogs! That’s right, I’m unrepentent! I love my dogs!! I don’t have human children; my wife and I weren’t blessed with any. But we did sort of go overboard on the quantity of canine children that we share our lives with.

We have five small terrier dogs: Three Wire Fox Terriers (WFT’s), a Miniature Schnauzer and a Yorkshire Terrier. The oldest WFT, an older gentleman named Asta, is 15 years old. Over the past few months he has begun to show his age a little more and more…he has arthritis, his eyes are getting cloudy and he’s plainly going deaf. He’s also not as strong as he used to be.

Asta Dundee!

If you know anything about dogs, you will know that the WFT as a breed is a combination of the Terminator and a court jester! They have a singlemindedness and inquisitiveness that keeps their owners on their toes. Asta has been a notable exception in that he is super-inquisitive and super-stubborn, as well as highly intelligent. And trust me, nothing has changed as he has aged!

Being a stubborn fellow, he constantly tries to do the things he did when he was younger — jumping on furniture, dashing up the stairs and running full-tilt on the hardwood floors. But he doesn’t do a very good job, though his intentions are good. Spills and falls are common, and it isn’t uncommon to find him somewhere on one of the hardwood floors, his legs splayed to his sides like an insect in a cup of water, trying to get back on his feet. He does this because his body is heavy (he’s perhaps a tad “Rubenesque”), his legs are getting weak and his foot pads are worn to a polished, slippery finish from years of darting, digging and skidding.

My first solution was to “moisturize” his foot pads; using almond-scented body cream, I massaged his little “toes” until they were soft and less slippery. This technique works, BUT…his feet leave little paw prints wherever he walks and his little feet pick up the most god-awful junk and debris. His spills and falls were definitely lower in number, but he aquired dirty feet (and did I mention he sleeps on the foot of the bed at night?). And the treatment had a definite useful life, so he needed new foot massages ever three days or so.

So, enter Plan B! My wife noticed these dog “booties” called “PAWZ” at the pet store. It’s a little bit of a stretch to call them booties, as they look more like small, very thick, deflated balloons. They were fifteen bucks for a package of eight of these beauties, and the only color in his size is fire engine red. I thought they might work, so what the heck…they would get me out of my moisturizing chore.

So, for about a week now, Asta has been clopping around the house like a deranged frogman with these balloon-looking booties on his hind feet. But they work! He doesn’t have the problem with poor traction on the hardwood floors any more, and he looks quite smart in his bright red boots!

I hope that I have to put those boots on in the morning and then take them off again at night for many years to come!

gluttony is allowed on your birthday!

As long as you show your manners and act lady-like! However, sharing is not encouraged…

Another year older and wiser!

Miss Lily is Seven!!!

And if you feel the urge, she prefers gifts in cash or by check, please!

I Love Birthdays. First there’s the gifts…then there’s the cake!

Asta's 14th

He cautions you, however, to avoid conflagrations due to excessive candle use.

The “Kids” wish you all a Happy Halloween. You can find them in their Halloween regalia HERE!


October is National Fire Safety Month! Make a plan and rehearse it for safety’s sake.

Daisy's Fire Truck.

She also reminds you to courteously yield for fire and safety apparatus.

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