My Life a Bit South of Normal

My Life a Bit South of Normal

Friday, January 29, 2016

I Missed the Parade

Last evening I came home exhausted. I opened the door to find Marshall standing there tail wagging happy to see me. As I looked past him, the living area looked as if there had been a ticker tape parade - there were ripped pieces of paper strewn about the floor. I looked at him, he was still wagging his tail. I put my bag down and turned to go into the bedroom - more paper strewn about. The parade must have come through that room as well.

There were random shoes tossed about. One of my travel makeup bags was on the bed. I picked it up and went to put it back in the bathroom. There I found "someone" had managed to pull all the baskets off the bottom shelf. There were tubes of lotions, boxes of soap, miscellaneous makeup items, combs, and brushes littering the bathroom floor. Once again Marshall stood there wagging his tail.

I picked everything up. Miraculously, nothing was broken. It was definitely time to get them out for a walk. I changed my clothes and got their leashes. Since Marshall has taken to eating his harness, going out now involves putting his harness on him as well as his leash. This is like trying to tie a bow on a greased pig who is trying to escape.

As I am wrestling with Marshall on the floor (amongst the pieces of paper) my phone rang. It was my DH, "I'm in Walmart, where will I can find the powdered drink mixes?"

"On the same aisle as the canned fruit."

"That makes no sense."

Keep in mind I had had a long day, had found my clean apartment a mess, and was then fighting an 11 pound gremlin to get a harness on - and the gremlin was winning. Walmart's store product placement was not what I really gave a damn about at that minute. "They put it with the Kool Aide."

"Kool Aide? Why there?"

I about to lose it, "I assume because they are all fruit related, I don't know."

"Why are you being so short?"

I quickly explained about my day, Marshall's hi jinxes, and my current wrestling match. His comment - "So you just don't like Marshall. Fine, I'll come get him."

If I had had a third hand at the time, I would have turned my phone off and blocked his number. I assured him Marshall was not going anywhere. 

Then sarcastically he added, "Well sorry I did not call at a good time." With that we rang off.

Thank you Captain Obvious!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Getting to Know You

In a nutshell Marshall decided he was no longer a fan of the crate and demanded equal sleeping time in the bed. That went over well until he settled into Ellie's spot. I cannot figure out if he is a bottle short of a case or if just likes living on the edge.

Here is how the next days played out:
  • By Sunday I was able to take both dogs to the dog park. Naturally Marshall approached every Pit Bull, Rottweiler Mix, and anything over 90 pounds with reckless abandon. Ellie on the other hand, stayed on the opposite side of the park, as if to say, "I don't know him, I've never seen him, I'm appalled they let his type in."
  • That evening I ventured out with both of them on leashes - thank God no one video taped it (that I know of - if so, it may well be a You Tube viral hit.) One wants to charge forward while the other wants to stop. One will cross over, get ahead, and then cross back, thereby tangling the leashes which I have to untangle on the sidewalk albeit still holding tight to the pups less they run into the traffic. It never fails that they choose different sides of the tree go around.
  • Monday was THE day. I was going to work, leaving them at home. I knew they would be OK, unless Ellie figured out a way to send Marshall away with the mailman. 
  • I do not need an alarm clock because I have Ellie in my face at 5:30 am sharp - "Are you up yet?" So at 5:30 when it was in the 30s we were up and out for our morning constitutional.
  • By this time Marshall had totally destroyed every "Guaranteed Indestructible" toy he had, so my place is littered with ragged animals, stuffing, squeakers, and pieces of rope (all relatively new!) Monday evening I came home to find he had chewed his harness (ie the one he was wearing at the time) in two.
  • New collars and harnesses were ordered for everyone, Marshall no longer wears anything the house, less it become fodder for his destruction.
  • Tuesday morning when I walked out of the door both dogs were making such a fuss it was all I could do to get the door closed. I turned and walked down the hall only to find Marshall standing there waiting for me just inside the main door to the apartment building (sans harness of course.) Obviously he had slipped by in all the confusion.
  • When I returned from work Tuesday, something was different. Ellie was happy, her tail was wagging, something I had not seen in a while. I could tell this was getting better. As I walked around the apartment I found things a little askew. A random shoe was in the kitchen. Clothes were on the floor. A chill came over me, I remember the last time I had this feeling - we left our daughters home alone one weekend while they were in high school. They never got along, but we assumed they would not kill each other over just 2 and a half days. But when we returned the house was cleaner than it was when we left and suddenly they were best friends. No doubt there was enough guilt on the part both to keep that secret.
  • On the nutrition side, Ellie will now eat her meals, but she has certain requirements: both pups are fed at the same time, both in the their crates, and she will not start eating until both crates are shut. Once we accommodated her, meal times have gone much better.
  • Marshall and Ellie have worked out sleeping arrangements. Marshall can sleep anywhere he wants to as long as it suits Ellie, and if it doesn't, she lets out a low growl to indicate her disapproval. (However last night I awoke to find them sound asleep next to each other.
So my quiet life is suddenly busy trying to keep up with these two. I hope the "upkeep" will soon be less. 



Why Can't They be Friends

It started with a few barks at neighbors as they came home. The hard wood floors in the hall were always noisy and steps can always be heard going up the wooden stairway. Marshall noisily noted each one. Then he just started barking. And he continued for a while. Finally I realized this had nothing to do with noises. I went to the den, turned on the light, and looked at him. He wanted out. Normally I would never let a dog out of a crate at night - this breaks training. But then normally I did not fear eviction.

So I opened the door. Marshall tore past me and ran into the bedroom. As I followed him, he begged to get on the bed. I put him on the bed and turned out the light. If looks could kill, I'm not sure who Ellie would have targeted first - me or Marshall.

Ellie had moved to the side of the bed to see what the ruckus was. When I climbed in and pulled up the covers, Marshall quickly lay down beside me and snuggled up - in Ellie's spot. She was not a happy camper. With a huff she moved down to the end of the bed and slept facing away from me. We did not hear another peep from him. Now I just need to figure out sleeping arrangements to prevent Marshall from accidently (on purpose) "falling" off the bed in the middle of the night and getting hurt. 

Sunday morning, Marshall, Ellie (the curmudgeon), and I awoke as usual at 5:30. Ellie, the alarm clock, is always punctual. As I dressed in something extremely warm (it was 28 degrees outside), Ellie stretched. Marshall bounced around, totally unaware that his every move just annoyed Ellie even more. I leashed Ellie and went for her morning constitutional. 

When we returned I put Marshall's jacket on him - poor thing is so thin, you can feel all his ribs, he would freeze in this weather without something on, and off we went. Naturally, we left Ellie, whining in the apartment. I can hear her down the street as I walk Marshall Great! 6am on Sunday and I have a whining dog, how long will it take for the neighbors to complain?

At this point it is hard to remember that the point of getting Marshall was to give Ellie a pal to keep her company. I was trying to cheer her up. So far I have gone from a quiet sane existence to often total chaos. One very active and affectionate pup and one sulking dog who is patiently waiting for someone to come retrieve him. In Ellie's mind this is either someones mistake or a sick joke.

Of course everyone keeps telling me, "They will get along, give them time." "They will bond." But this is easy for everyone else to say. Yes, this is probably true. I did not expect love at first sight, but I hoped for at least some "like" after a few days.

Marshall's tale continues . . . stay tuned


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Marshall Comes Home

The saga of Marshall continues - now it is Marshall and Ellie. Marshall is with me in Charleston and had no problem adjusting. He bounded from my arms when I put him down in the doorway of the apartment and ran around looking for toys. And that was that. Ellie, on the other hand, was not a happy camper. My DH had had both of them in Orangeburg for several days of "getting to know each other". Word was they had tolerated each other (at best) but yet "bonded". Naturally I was told that they would surely bond once it was just the two of them down here. (Yes, the check is in the mail and I'll respect you in the morning.)

The first night, Ellie assumed her place on the bed and Marshall happily jumped in his crate. We did not hear a peep from him all night. This was good. Ellie with me, Marshall in crate - peace of earth. Saturday one would have thought they were polarized magnets. Ellie avoided Marshall like the plaque. Her look of total disdain when my DH left and Marshall remained was "Seriously? Didn't he forget something? Don't you need to call him?"

At this point I don't think I could handle both on leashes at the same time. For one thing, I fear Ellie may push Marshall into oncoming traffic - by mistake I am sure. It would be tragic and Ellie would mourn his loss, but not too long for fear I would think she needed another "pal". So I take them out one at a time. Naturally, Ellie wants to go first (and second) - as does Marshall. Eventually I will deal with them both on leashes. (I just need to keep my mantra in mind - drugs and therapy, drugs and therapy.)

Naturally Saturday was wet with a high of 39. A trip to the dog park was out of the question. As evening came and I settled down to watch the news and Ellie settled down to sulk, Marshall started barking at every noise. Now, one has to remember, I live on the corner, on the ground floor of a building so there is significant street noise of cars, people walking, ship horns from the harbor, train whistles. The sounds do not bother me, however Marshall barked at everything. No doubt the neighbors were going to complain.

Finally after a day inside (with several walks) it was time for bed. Marshall went in his crate with no issue. Ellie got on the bed. We all settled down for a long winter's nap. 

But out in the den there rose such a clatter . . . (to be continued)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Preserving Doors to the Past

There is so much about Charleston to love besides the high cost of real estate, August, and the obnoxious Yankee tourists. Some of my favorite photography has been of  Charleston and the low country. In fact of all the places I have gone with my camera, I would  say 75% of my work is from down here. I dearly love it.

So , as you can imagine, living down here I have my camera with me all the time. Well, except when I am dealing with the pups on the street. Then it is all I can do to keep from getting run over, tangled up, or apologizing to some stranger because either Ellie or Marshall could not understand why this new person did not want to be their best friend. But, I digress.

One morning as I was walking around, camera in hand, I noticed so many interesting local people that I wanted to shoot (photograph). However, there are two issues here - I am extremely hesitant to candidly photograph someone for fear they will see me and let me know (in no uncertain terms) that my actions did not suit them and/or one needs a subject's written consent to use their image. My luck would be I would have the best photo I had ever taken and not be able to use it, for fear of future litigation.

Not being able to photograph people, I carried on. Then I noticed the doors of Charleston and how, while many were very similar - being the doors to the traditional "Single House", others had a bit of "personality". My favorites were the doors of former nice old homes that had seen their better days. They oozed of personality. Their rotting frames, crooked doorways, faded colors, and, often, eclectic mail boxes made for excellent structures to photograph. 

Then there are always the grand doorways of the south of Calhoun and south of Broad old homes that are so well kept. These antebellum homes are what tourists pay mega dollars to ride past in a horse drawn carriage. These street scenes are what cover the travel brochures and magazine layouts advertising the charm and beauty of "Old Charleston". But if one ventures off Rutledge and Ashley just blocks from these storybook homes, you will find the other grand old dames that have not been so well kept. You can still see the past glory and status in these doorways. And, to me at least, the beauty is still there.

Luckily all these homes are protected by the Preservation Society of Charleston. They cannot be altered or torn down without the Society's blessing. When someone does decide to save them, their plans have to be approved so that they are in line with the historic nature, design, and color of the original structure. This society has saved old Charleston and protected these stately homes from being razed and replaced by some "mega-mansion", Dollar Store, or redone into some faux Charleston design.


The PSC is the oldest community-based historic preservation organization in America. A brief history from their website reads:

Founded in 1920 by Susan Pringle Frost, the Preservation Society of Charleston is the oldest community-based historic preservation organization in America. Formed out of concern for the 1802 Joseph Manigault House, the small group of individuals was instrumental in its restoration and the formation of America's first zoning ordinance to protect historic resources. The 1931 ordinance established the first Board of Architectural Review and designated a 138-acre "Old and Historic District." The district has since been expanded to include more than 4,800 historic structures.


If you have ever walked around the streets of Charleston, you may have noticed one these plaques on the front of some homes:


This is the Carolopolis Award. This program was created in 1953 to recognize outstanding achievement in exterior preservation, restoration and rehabilitation. More than 1300 have been given out. 


But back to the original point of this post. I have started a collection of photographs of doors I call "Charleston Door of the Day" that I post on Facebook daily. Check them out, you will be surprised at how they range from the grand to the normal to the eclectic. But, one thing they all have in common is they are all in Charleston.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Thank God for Glenda

My second visit by Comcast was a total new experience. The tech called 15 minutes early and asked if it suited for him to come early. Sure! When I went to let him in the front door, I found two nice looking guys, one tall with his hair in many long black braids and his side kick - both articulate. I quickly explained the situation with the parking space and that I would move my car. They looked at each other quizickly and laughed. "We don't need the parking space to put our ladder up. We can just put it here." With that he indicated a place on the sidewalk. So much for that obstacle.

I brought them in the apartment. They asked several questions and went to work. In a matter of 15 minutes they had the TV cable and internet service installed and working. One showed me how to use the remote (ie ONE remote) and asked if I had any questions. I had none, thanked them and they left.

I sat down to watch TV for the first time since I moved in. I started scrolling through the channels. A message kept coming up on the screen, "Channel Not Available Call Comcast to Subscribe". That was OK until I could not get CNN or MSNBC. That was when I picked up the phone and called Comcast. After getting transferred to the business support division by mistake, getting someone who could not tell me which stations were in my package, a third person who suggested I check the prices offered on Comcast's website, and yet another person whom I could not understand what he was saying, I finally ended up with Glenda.

Glenda, bless her,  was able to help me, not tell me what I wanted to hear, but assist me none the less. Seems the yay hoo whom I initially spoke to (despite my specifically requesting that my channel package contain CNN, MSNBC and a few others) had signed me up for a TV package that had only 10 local channels. Apparently I needed the Digital Starter package. You know you do not have many channels when you are upgraded to the Digital Starter Package.

Bottom line, by the time I had worked through my situation and the available packages, thanks to Glenda's help and patience, I was able to determine that I would get the Digital Starter Package and drop the internet service. She took care of all the details, I thanked her and hung up.

So I guess I had survived the 5th circle of Hell, paid my toll, and with help from Glenda, crossed the river Styx.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Cable Guy

I am convinced if there was a survey of the most trying entity in the universe, Cable Companies would come in first, just above those impossible plastic packages that cause the consumers to get serious cuts and gouges from either the sharp object they use to free the purchase (they have spent their hard earned dollars for) or the package itself.  Third would be those annoying phone menus - and that goes along with the cable companies. But, I digress.

Naturally one needs cable or the internet to watch TV. The WiFi provided in my building was no where strong enough to support WiFi TV (which was naturally my first choice - that being of no additional cost). Therefore I had to deal with the cable TV company.

I got an appointment scheduled within 3 days which impressed me. They had a 2 hour "window" which I felt was reasonable. And, the price was not outlandish. That was where the fun stopped and the insanity started.

At the appointed time the cable guy showed up. And, yes, he was a "cable guy" from central casting. Upon looking all over my apartment he determined that there was no cable hookup. I found this odd given that the apartment had just been gutted, redone, and certainly they would have dropped lines for cable. Luckily, the landlord's IT guy was in the hall (ironically updating the WiFi to make it stronger). After a quick discussion with him, he came and looked for the cable. There was none. He was surprised also, given he knew how the remodeling work had been done.

The cable guy announced the only thing he could do was drill through the wall (which was brick) and he would need permission from the landlord to do that. I looked at Mike, the IT guy, in desperation. He picked up his phone and called the landlord, discussed the situation with him, ended the call, and told the cable guy to do whatever it took to get the cable installed.

Then the cable guy went into my bedroom, announced that he would bring the cable in there and run the cable through my bedroom, the bath, the guest bedroom, then around the corner into the living area, threading it around baseboards up corners and above the door frames. Mike looked at him, "I don't think so. Why don't just come in here," (he pointed to the guest room that is next to the living area) and run it around this corner into the living area and make it as inconspicuous as possible. They spent too much money making this apartment look nice to have it ruined with a cable wire."

The cable guy scratched his head and said, "Well we could do that." Mike stood behind him shaking his head to confirm my feeling that we were not dealing with a rocket scientist. So the two of them decided where the cable would come through the wall and went outside to see how it would be run from the main cable box. The cable guy came back in and ran the cable from the wall around the base board into the living area (using maybe 12 feet of wire vs a good 60 or so if he had done it his suggested way.)

The three of us walked outside. "One problem," the cable guy said. (What now I thought?) "To reach the cable box I need to use a ladder and that parking space (pointing to the space just outside the front door of the building) has to be empty." 

Naturally there was a car there and I had not a clue who owned it. I quickly ran back into the building and knocked on all 11 other apartment doors. Only one other tenant was home and she did not know who owned the car. Great! 

It was determined that he would have to return at a later time to run the cable from the inside out to the box. He set-up an appointment for Monday afternoon. "Now all you need to do is make sure that parking space is empty." (Seriously?) "And I will need written confirmation from the landlord to drill that  hole through the wall. I thanked him and he left. I thanked Mike also and he went back to what he was orginally doing.

About 10 minutes later Mike was at my door with his drill and a huge bit. "The Hell with permission. I know what Alex (my landlord) would do, so I am going to save all us the aggravation." He proceeded to the guest room and drilled the hole through the wall. "There," he said, "now they have no excuses." 

I thanked him profusely. After he left I thought, OK that is done, now all I have to figure out is how to make sure a public parking space is either empty or has my car in it five days from now. Not only that - it just happens to be the prime space everyone wants - the one just outside our front door.

Geez, what did I do to piss off the gods. I am beginning to think TV is so overrated or that Dante missed another circle of Hell when he did not include dealing with the cable company in his Inferno.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

And Marshall Doubles the Fun

In our last installment, all have T's had been crossed, the I's dotted, my offering to the god of small animals accepted - Marshall was ours. Well, he would be on Monday.
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The first text I received from my DH Monday morning had to do with crate sizes and a confirmation that Marshall would be ready to be picked up that afternoon. Then there was a mention that he may stop and have one more look-see at the Coon Hound pups and he had inquired of his Airedale breeder as to when she might have another litter. Obviously puppy fever was running rampant, as if we were lacking in the canine department.

On the other hand I was beginning to wonder how I was going to handle two 2 pups. Handling Ellie at 5:30 every morning when she insisted on going out for her morning constitution, was "fun" enough, I could only imagine the extra excitement of two. Hopefully they would get along and Marshall would fall in place as Ellie's minion. Ellie was not going to play second fiddle to anyone, the question was how quickly Marshall would catch on to the program.

I was starting my new job the next day (another reason Marshall and Ellie were being introduced in Orangeburg) so I had a lot on my mind. Even so, it was so quiet without Ellie around. Of course I realized that Friday that quiet would turn into mass chaos when Ellie and Marshall arrived.

My DH called to say that Marshall was home safely. My first question (naturally) was what kind of canine reception did he receive? 

Apparently he backed Lily (our Airedale) down when she approached too eagerly. (Lily is overly excited to see everyone from my DH to a stray cat). My daughter's dog Kennedy decided to sit on the sidelines. (He usually takes a wait and see attitude. He knows he his king of his world and will never be overthrown. He had no dog in this fight.) Ellie was totally leary. Pretty much what I expected. I imagined her attitude was - I'll wait it out, surely someone will come get him.

The good news was somewhere is his past life Marshall had been crate trained. When my DH showed him his crate that night and told him "crate" he jumped in and no one heard a peep out of him all night. He is good on a leash - thank God. And obviously, he felt right at home pretty soon given the picture I was sent.




Now if Ellie will just play pretty and decide they will be pals (or at least she will make him her minion) life will be good. As for Marshall, he has done his part. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wait, Do I Even know My Pet Policy?

In the last installment I had just received a text from my landlord.

------------

Through this whole process, one thing was heavy on my mind. I could not remember if the pet policy in my lease limited me to one pet. If so, my DH was going to kill me before this was over with - and I deserved it. 

Here are the texts that followed between Alex and me

(Alex)
got 3 calls from animal adpt
about you adopting a dog, I was
not available, attempted 
to call back twice - could not
get an answer, can I email them?


(Me)
I am so sorry to bother you
but I am trying to adopt a small
older dog and they need to
talk with you about pet policy
what # did they give you

803-555-5555, i am going to be available 
for about an hour if they can call now

Alex, thank you, thank you
you are my hero, I realize this is
a pain but it is their process
i'll make sure  they call you asap


not a problem


At this point I look and the phone number they have given him is the same phone number I have. I try to call it and get this convoluted menu that only throws you to different voice mails. There is no way to reach a live person. 

By this time my DH has turned the car around and is headed back to the shelter. "I think we can get there in time to tell them in person they need to call him NOW."

A few minutes later, I had an idea, I texted Alex

(Me)
If they are so hard to get a hold of
just call that #, go to the adoption 
option and tell them who you
are, who I am, you are my llord 
and your pet policy, that should 
be "oral" enough 
(Alex)
Great idea, will do

We got back to the shelter and I ran inside. By my watch we had 5 minutes left in our window. I had not addressed the "wedding" issue in my texts to Alex. I thought in this case, ignorance was a better course to take.

I got to the desk and found the lady who called all the landlords and told her who I was. Alexa walked up and I explained the situation to her. In meantime the "caller" lady was standing with her back to me not doing anything. As politely as I could, I said, "Mam, we only have a 4 minute window here to reach him. Can you please call him now?"

"I will as soon as I can find your file."

I politely asked if the file (with my name on it) she was holding might be it. Then she finally made the call. Alex must have answered on the first ring. She had 10 questions she had to ask. Once again I got anxious that there was a single pet policy. There was not because the lady got off the phone, smiled and said, "No problem. He is perfectly OK with pets and seems his building is safe."

I thanked her and walked out to the car. My phone buzzed with a text. It was Alex.

(Alex)
They just called, should be OK
(Me)
Alex you have no idea how much
I appreciate your going through all
this just so I could adopt this dog
I really owe you big time

Don't worry, my fiancee does all
the publicity work for the main shelter
in Charleston, she would not have
been happy if I had not, besides I
love dogs

Thanks so much again, enjoy 
your weekend


So all the stress was over with, I had a pup (well I would by Monday). My DH and I had decided that I would leave Ellie with him. That way when he brought Marshall home there would be 3 dogs there and Ellie would think he was just another dog being added to the pack. She would not realize this one was going home with her until the end of the week. Hopefully by then she would have decided he was acceptable (and trainable). After all, as a good friend told me, Ellie needed a minion.

The saga continues. . . Does Marshall make it to our home? Does Ellie revolt? 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Marshall Plan

When we last met, Alexa was explaining there were a few "loose ends" we needed to wrap up before we could adopt Marshal.
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"First we still cannot get in touch with your landlord. Secondly, Marshall will need to be neutered and that will take place Monday so he is not free to go until late Monday afternoon."

"So we can get everything else done and certainly by Monday you will have reached (Alex) my landlord."

"I'm afraid not. We cannot start the process until the application is complete and without a conversation with him it is still incomplete."

"Certainly, you could hold Marshal for us until all this can be settled. We will go ahead and pay all the fees."

Alexa sympathetically replied, "No, if an animal is not adopted we cannot put a "hold" on it. That is a very strict policy of ours."

This is when my DH went into his most charming southern gentleman self. "Alexa, you know we are going to give Marshal an excellent home. You know we have a good long history with dogs. It is a holiday weekend,  can't you make an exception?"

"I wish I could. but only my manager can do that." 

My DH said," And . . .

Then she smiled and said,"I'll go talk to her but as far as I know this has never been done."

At that moment dread poured over me. I turned to my DH, "I just remembered, Alex is getting married this weekend. That is why no one can reach him. He may very well have his phone off."

Meanwhile another counselor had brought Marshall back into the room with us. I would not have been surprised for my DH to stick the dog under his coat and escape out the  front door. No doubt his main reason for not doing so - his fear I would foil his plan. 

In about 10 minutes, Alexa came back in the room and sat down. "OK, here is what we are going to do. My manager has agreed to go through with all the paperwork, so Marshal will be yours. Now the one condition is that we have to have spoken with your landlord, she said looking at me (my DH had this look on his face - Don't look at me, I live in the house we own.) by the time you come and pick up the dog on Monday.

We agreed that was no problem (I prayed there was no international honeymoon involved) and we proceeded with the final paperwork. We left relieved that the search was over and we were thrilled with the results.

Traffic was horrible and about 30 minutes down the road I received a text. I looked at it, it was from Alex.

Stay tuned, Does Alex evict me? Does he forget his pet policy? He does allow pets right?

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Devil is in the Loose Ends

Moving on to the second shelter, I felt encouraged. I had found a prospect. I had emailed back and forth with an adoption counselor here named Alexa. I told my DH that I had already completed the adoption form, sent it in online, and had been told I was "qualified"

I had submitted adoption forms to several adoption agencies, knowing that if I did find a dog with them, references would have to be checked, etc. And, although they were not as outlandish as the Breed Clubs, some were 4 and 5 pages long. One asked how many dogs I had had in the past 15 years and what happened to each one of them. They were just looking out for the dogs safety.

Naturally, he asked, "How hard can it be to get approved here?"

"Well it was a 5 page form, and they contact at least one reference, your landlord, and vets office." I could tell he was skeptical. I walked up to the desk and introduced myself. The young lady pulled up my file and said, "Yes, you are qualified, we just need to speak with your landlord. We have not been able to reach him so far."

"Can you email him?" my DH asked.

"No sir, We require an oral consent." She then told us where we could sit to wait for our "tour" of the kennels.

When the tour volunteer came up and introduced herself, she asked if there was something specific we were looking for. I just told her I was hoping to find a small wire haired terrier mix. She apologized and said she was afraid they did not have anything like that. A little disappointed, the tour started and we stepped into the kennel room. 

The facility was most impressive. It was spotless and had no dog odor at all. The first aisle of dogs was a mix of retrievers, a pit bull, 2 Maltese mixes, a Chihuahua, and 1 or 2 nondescript large dogs.  When we turned the corner to see the second aisle, there in the run were 2 little wire haired terriers. The signs on their door clearly said, "Wire Haired Terrier", for each. There was Dereon, a black and white mix and Marshal, obviously a terrier by the hair on his face. His entire body had been shaved, and he had a long haired tail (much like a sail on a mast) he held high that obviously would have been docked had he been a purebred.

We immediately asked if we could see these two pups and were escorted into a meeting room. Marshal was brought in. Upon closer look, this little fellow reminded me of a Dr.Seuss character, with his fury face, short legs, long shaved torso, and that tail - that never stopped wagging.  I thought I could see some Yorkie in him, in that his shaved coat had that distinct gray/brown coloring beginning to come through the clipped curls. His face could be that of many a terrier breed.

But the dog's disposition was wonderful. He would run after a toy and bring it back as many times as you would throw it. He would sit in your lap or lay in your lap. His ears would perk up when he heard dogs barking in other rooms, but never a sound came from him. My DH was smitten (as was I) His comment was, "This is the one".

Alexa came in and sat down. "So what do you think?" We expressed our delight and reluctantly handed him over so we could meet Dereon. My DH was assured that Marshal was in a holding room while we were going through this process and would not be put back out in the kennel (for someone else to snatch up), until a decision, either way, was made.

Dereon was a sweet dog also. But he had a hard act to follow. About a third of his hair was gone but his skin was clear of  any sores. He had good manners but did not have Marshal's personality. Alexa looked at us, "Do you need some time to talk?"

"I don't think so,," I said. "Marshall is pretty much what I am looking for. But do you have any idea what he is?'

She said that all they knew was he had some terrier blood in him. He had been picked up from the side of the road by the police so no one knew anything about him.

"So what do we need to do now?" I asked, thinking it would just be a matter of signing the final forms and giving them a check before Marshall would be ours to take home.

"Well," she hesitated, "there are a few loose ends we need to wrap up.

Is it ever easy? No, tune in tomorrow to see how this turns out. It is never what you expect.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Coon Hounds and One Ugly Puppy

The search continued, no dog struck me as the one, or if he did there was some flaw I could not live with (too old, serious illness, aggressiveness, etc.) I was out to save a dog not canine-kind.

Finally, Friday night my DH, using of his high level vet sources, located 2 pups near Atlanta he thought I should see. So I drove home early Saturday morning to meet him and go to Atlanta. On the way up I started thinking - there have to be some dogs in this area of the state that will meet my criteria, When I told my DH of my change in plans, his comment was predictable, "Make up your mind." I knew what I wanted to do and told him.

Now Saturdays at an animal shelter are total chaos and the parking lot at the first stop on my list was full. My DH's comment was, "Kids think this is better than the zoo - it is free, you get to touch the animals,  and there is a chance you may bring one home." 

Inside, we just walked around the pens of puppies and dogs on the floor in the center of a wide open space. There was nothing close to want I was looking for.

I found my DH looking over a pen of very small brown puppies. "Coon Hound puppies, aren't they the cutest?", he said.

I had seen that look in his eye before and it usually meant that something breathing was coming home with us. Something that he wanted. "I didn't know you were looking for a puppy? And a Coon Hound is not on my list." We walked away and he added, "But they are so cute." I ignored him, found a counselor, and explained what I was looking for.

"I have something in the back that may do. He is up for a adoption and he is some type of terrier. Now, I'll warn you. He doesn't like people or other dogs at first but he will warm up to you."

The counselor opened the door and in a crate was a small black short haired dog - not the terrier lines I was looking for. Besides he was shivering and shrunk back in the corner of his crate. "Is he cold?" I asked

"No, you are just a stranger," My DH turned and left the room. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted another pen with a black and white hairy dog. "What about that dog?" I asked.

She told me he would be up for adoption in several days. He was about 5 years old, the size of Ellie, some type of terrier, had a sweet gentle disposition. I excused myself and went to find my DH, who was over (once again) by the Coon Hound puppies. When I showed him the black and white puppy, he picked her up. "This is a sweet dog," and he started asking questions.

As it turned out the dog had been in that shelter before, had been adopted out, then was found on the side of a busy highway. Using the information on his microchip, they were able to identify the dog and the owner (whose address was no where close to where the dog was found). (The dog had no name.)  But they had not been able to contact the owner. The phone was disconnected. So if the registered letter they sent was returned unclaimed, the dog would be up for adoption in a day or two. I asked and she told me that, no, the dog could not be adopted until they knew for sure that the owner could not be contacted, even if we left him there. 

Finally, we talked the counselor into letting me submit an adoption form. She said she would call me as soon she knew the dog was unclaimed and if I came immediately, I could adopt the dog. We thanked her and left the shelter moving on to stop number two.

"He is a sweet well mannered dog and no doubt he would get along with Ellie, but that dog is ugly, my DH stated. I protested but realized it was a mute point. He would the love the dog, ugly or not, still the same. Then he added, "Now those Coon Hounds, they were some beautiful puppies. And I already had one who would come over the side of the fence so I could pet him."

Not so fast - the tale continues tomorrow. . .

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ben, [Do] the Two of Us Need Look No More?

Ellie needs a friend, someone she can relate to. She needs someone on her level, ie smarter than me. Since she no longer has her "pet" Airedale to frolic with and her "cousin" Kennedy to cavort with, she has learned being the "only dog" is not all it is hyped up to be - despite everything Kennedy told her.

Sure we have our several walks a day around the neighborhood and time at the dog park, but she needs a pal when I am gone to conspire with, play tag, and (who knows) play a game or two of chess. Since we have moved she has become more reserved, even quiet. Her trips to the dog park are the highlight of her day. It is obvious she lacks canine companionship.

I decided to start looking for such for her. My DH suggested, and I agreed, that we should find a rescue, a older (3 or 4 year old), terrier type (a dog who could go head to head with Ellie mano a mano), and a male. So the search began. One would think shelters and rescues would be filled with terriers (or "terrors" as the meek refer to them) discarded by owners who could not handle their feisty temperament. After all, to be so little, these guys are "smarter than the average bear". But then again, maybe not, since who would want to give up such a fun, smart, lovable pup.

None of the local shelters had any candidates, so I went online. This is where it got interesting. It was as if I found the Island of Unwanted Toys Dogs. There was "Joaquin", described as a Cairn mix but he made Ellie look like a show dog. His description matched what I was looking for but before I could inquire I saw he had been adopted.

Next there was "Elvis", a silky terrier. His description made him sound ideal, however I always question when all three pictures of the dog are just the head. 

"Handsome" (anyone who names their dog such does not deserve to own a dog) was a cute small long hair Jack Russell. He was a top candidate until I read that he was "selective" about who he liked or not. If you "made the cut" you were his friend for life. The last thing I needed was a dog who was only nice to certain people.

"Butch",came up in the search but was not a candidate when I learned he was a cross between a pit bull and a terrier. Seriously? Those muscles and jaws with a feisty attitude - no thank you. God made terriers small with small mouths for a reason - to give their "humans" a fighting chance.

"Charlie" was a possibility until the third picture showed that he was over 2 feet tall and the description said he weighed 30 pounds. Too big.

And then I found the perfect companion for Ellie, "Skylark", a Scotty/Norwich mix. This was exactly what I needed. He was the right size, the right age, he had decent conformation, his demeanor sounded grand, and he was a good combination of two breeds I was familiar with. Eureka! Not so fast, seems Skylark resides in Palo Alto, CA and the steep adoption price plus airfare would defeat the cost savings of a rescue. I could easily find an AKC dog for that price.

Then my DH found "Ben". He declared  Ben was The One. He was described as a "Schnauzer" but this was a small gray terrier. His age, size, description - it fit, a nice little package. Looking at his pictures, I only had two questions, one picture made his mouth look as if he had an overbite (which could be a medical issue down the road) and it never mentioned if he was housebroken. Of course when I mentioned this to my DH he said, "Nothing that braces and a diaper could not handle." (I failed to see the humor.)

I attempted to call about Ben - no answer. I emailed about Ben and sent a text. Just this morning, I received an email from Ben's foster "mother" that simply said "Thank you for your interest, please complete this (4 page) form. She did not answer or acknowledge the few questions I had asked in my initial email. Inquiring minds want to know more.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hanging on the Level

I may be simple minded but when I want to hang a mirror in the bathroom, I simply decide how high I need the mirror to go. Then I center it on the wall, carefully judging the distance on either side and when it looks like it is in the right place, I hang it.

My DH looks at this task in a slightly different way. And, for someone who hates math and spacial issues, he certainly tortures himself in hanging a mirror (or picture for that matter).

Case in point. There was no mirror over the sink in the bathroom of my new apartment. Go figure? I had purchased a mirror that I thought would do nicely. I thought the unique finish would go well with the granite on the counter. It was a good size but not so God awful heavy that hanging it was going to be a chore and I would always fear it falling from the wall taking a good chunk of sheet rock with it.

Naturally my DH's first comments upon seeing the mirror were, "Do you realize how ugly that thing is?" and "This isn't heavy enough. A decent mirror is always heavy."

So be it. Moving on . . .

He pulled out his tool box, his cordless drill, his cordless screwdriver, two levels, a hammer, a rubber mallet, a regular screwdriver, and a pencil. We commenced.

First he asked me how high I wanted it above the counter. When I showed him, he asked for the exact measurement. "Why do you need that? A half inch or so either way won't matter."

"I need the exact distance so I can hang this correctly." And from this he proceeded - and, no, I could not make this up. He asked me to measure the width of the counter, I said it was 34 inches, so 17 inches would be the exact middle. He remeasured and determined that I was incorrect, the counter was 34 and 3/16's, so 17 was not the true center and major math would need to be done to establish this exact point.

Once the center was marked, he marked lateral points that bisected the exact height of the mirror. A line was drawn from the furthest right point to the furthest left point. This line was then checked with a level to ensure the line was straight. When that was confirmed, he used a second level (I kid you not) because he questioned the first levels accuracy. Naturally I asked why he used the first one. The look I got told me I would never understand the logic.

Then three points were measured nine inches below the straight line. And those three points were connected by a new line that, yes, was then checked by the first, then the second level. Math was done to establish three equidistant points on the lower line. Then two points were chosen in the precise middle between points 1 and 2 and then between points 2 and 3. These final points were where the hangers were nailed into the wall.

When we stepped back and admired the new mirror, my DH asked if I was sure I did not want it higher. I assured him it looked just fine. Then we moved to hanging a new towel bar. Of course this came with a template that complicated everything given it is measured out for you. You only needed to place the template on the wall at the selected sight and use a level to make it is even. Then use a second level . . .

Friday, January 8, 2016

Lusting after a Buffet

When I learned I was moving to Charleston I realized that I would get to enjoy some of the lovely furniture my mother had, that we did not have room for in our home. The first time I saw the apartment I ended up renting I mentally placed some of the favorite pieces. Of course many of Mama's pieces were too big for a small apartment. And there was a need for pieces she never had.

I needed a "kitchen" table. Due to the space, I had a small square high top in mind. My DH suggested a Christian Community Thrift store in town.To my surprise they had a round high top table. And it was drop leaf, so it could be put next to the wall and take up less space. Best of all, the price was a little below what I thought I would have to pay. Check!

There is a wonderful consignment shop in Summerville from which my girls had found several things at very affordable rates for various apartments they had lived in over the years. There I found a marble top wash stand that would fit perfectly in my entrance way, a set of 5 nicely carved Chinese nesting tables that I could put to various uses, a nice book shelf, and 4 lamps that I badly needed. 

While walking around I saw this huge buffet. It was much too heavy and too expensive for my needs. I asked the owner if he had any other buffets. He showed me several around the store but they were not even close to what I had in mind. I thanked him and went to pay my bill. To my surprise, not only was I saving money due to their low prices, they had everything 20% off if you paid in cash. 

The following day (New Year's Eve) on our way down to Charleston I stopped by the store again to look at some beds. As I walked into the front of the store, there stood this lovely, beautiful solid wood buffet. It was exactly what I had in mind. I measured it and it would fit nicely on the wall in the living area. But as I thought about it, would it dominate the room? I already had a lot of furniture in the room. But the buffet was just what I wanted.

Although it was solid wood and did not have any dents or scratches on it, the drawers were not tongue and groove or dovetailed. I stood there and looked at the piece. The sales lady reminded me it would be 20% off, which put in well within my budget. But, mentally I went back and forth - it was perfect and just what I wanted, but was it too big for the room? If I got it in there and it didn't work, what would I do with it? If I bought it, then I had no where to put the newly purchased book shelf. Finally, I could not come to rest and told the sales lady how badly I wanted it but I just wasn't sure it would be right for the space. 

That night and New Year's day I pondered the buffet and finally decided I would regret not getting it. And, of course, there was always the chance it had been sold. Even as I had stood there for all that time hemming and hawing over it, several other customers had looked at it, inquired about it and measured it. 

On moving day my DH and son-in-law had planned to stop by the store on the way to Charleston to pick up the other pieces I had purchased. I went down ahead of them. I walked in the store to see the buffet still there. I told the saleslady that I wanted it. She laughed, "So you finally made up your mind." 

As I went to pay for it, she told me the price and it was higher than what was quoted just two days ago. When I questioned it, she explained that the 20% sale only lasted through the end of the year. I looked at her and told her that she had to be kidding. She knew that I had bought several pieces earlier and that I had seriously looked at this piece at the same time. Certainly she could extend the sale for this piece given the situation but she held firm. 

I was in love and went ahead and bought the piece. When my DH arrived, he looked at the piece and declared it very nice looking. Then he opened a drawer. "Did you see this? It isn't tongue and groove." I explained I knew that. He shook his head. When he and my son-in-law went to move it, they both commented that it was one of the heaviest pieces they had ever picked up. 

It fits perfectly in the space and makes the living area. It gives me more storage space. I have no regrets over it. And, as for the book case. I have no linen closet. It fits nicely in the bathroom and with the addition of baskets to neatly hold toiletries, medications, and other supplies as well as shelf space to house neatly stacked linens and towels, it works well. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ellie Comes to Town

As the number of boxes decreased, the amount of clear space on the kitchen counter increased, and I could find my toothbrush, I figured it was time to get Ellie. I had great trepidation about bringing her with me. First she is used to roaming around her "100 acre wood" (aka our small suburban backyard), she was going to have to leave her pet airedale at home, and living in a city was something she knew nothing about. But, my DH assured me she was adaptive, and besides he said I needed her. He feared I would be lonely.

Since I had two weeks before I started work, I decided this would be a good time to see if this was going to work. So I fetched her late Monday afternoon.

As always she was most excited when I pulled out the leash and was happy to jump in the car for a ride. By the time we arrived in Charleston it was dark and chilly. I took Ellie out, put her leash on her, and walked her. The wind blowing leaves was a bit eirie. Cars were going up and down the streets close to the sidewalk where we stood. The sidewalk was full of the smells of God knows what. I think Ellie was overcome with stimulation.

I brought her in, set up her crate, and put her food and water out. She spent the next hour inspecting every inch of the apartment. By the time we went to bed, she had not touched her food nor her water, nor had she settled down. She crawled in bed with me and instead and settling into the comforter, she sat on the bottom of the bed as if she were a sentry on watch. She never settled down. She would lie down and close her eyes but it would not be long before she would hear something and be right back up at full attention.

I, on the other hand, was exhausted and went to sleep. About midnight I awoke suddenly when I realized that Ellie was next to my pillow with her head in my face, as if to say, "Are you asleep?" We had a few words and she settled down beside me. Around 2:15 she was in my face again. By this time I figured she may need to be walked since she had not peed since arriving.

The temperature had dropped into the 30's so we bundled up and out the door we went. It was a short but productive trip. We returned to my nice warm bed where I slept until 6:30.

Later I needed to leave the apartment to run some errands. She had her water, food, crate, favorite bed, and plenty of places to sleep. As I closed the door, I thought - she has to be exhausted from last night. I know she will sleep. Then mournful whaling and whining started from behind the door. I stood there silently waiting for it to die down. Instead it raised to a crescendo akin to some aria in an opera where the fat lady had lost her love or rather a beached whale calling for its lost calf. Finally I walked away fearful of what the neighbors may think.

I was comforted by my DH's words, "If she whines when you leave, it will not last but a few minutes. Dogs adjust quickly. And neighbors understand, especially in a building that allows pets. There is a reason people live there. Trust me, she will be fine."

The long list of errands consumed me. As I stood in the check out line in one store, my phone rang. Because I think it rude to talk on one's phone while being checked out, I ignored the call. Immediately the phone rang again. I looked and it was the same Charleston number I did not recognize. Just as I had paid for my goods and was picking up my bags, the phone rang for a third time with the same number.

Then fear and dread swept over me. What if this was a neighbor calling to complain about Ellie, or worse yet the landlord threatening eviction? I answered the phone. To my relief it was someone following up on an inquiry I had made about an advertised apartment. Before I could tell him I was already settled, he said, "Now one thing I cannot tolerate is dogs. They just drive all the other tenants crazy. Some owners will just leave them in the apartments with them crying and barking. Dog owners need to be more responsible. Obviously, the dog is trying to tell the owner he is not happy."

Without commenting on his diatribe, I thanked him for returning my call and told him I had found a place.

As I approached the door of my apartment building, there was a young lady with an excited large brown puppy that she was having some difficulty with on the leash. She apologized. I assured her that was not an issue and asked her what the dog's name was. She replied "Winston" as she entered the code to open our building door. As she turned to the left, the puppy started barking loudly and running down the hall. I turned to the right and opened my door.

At least now I knew Ellie was not the only vocal pup in the building. I never thought I would be so thankful for a barking dog. 

I found Ellie standing on my bed. Obviously she had been  asleep. I just wondered for how long.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Life in the Hood

All my life, my Mama dreamed that I would someday live in Charleston. However looking up and down my street, where I have moved into my new abode and established residency, I do not think this is what she had in mind. Her fond memories of the quaint carriage house she and my father lived in almost 60 years ago, just south of Broad Street do not quite correlate with my new address in the Eastside of town.

Charleston is divided into different "neighborhoods". There is "South of Broad" where the well healed and old Charleston live. "Harleston Village", the "King Street Historic District", and the "French Quarters" sit just north of Broad street, as well as "Ansonborough", famous as home of the old City Market. 

Next one crosses Calhoun street and finds  two up and coming neighborhoods. "Wraggborough" is home to historic homes and some churches, as well as new construction and is the seen of urban renewal and affordable housing for the young professionals trying to find a home on the peninsula. Across upper King Street, now known for it's new restaurants and bars, is "Radcliffeborough" a neighborhood close the medical college and full of restored homes housing doctors and medical students.

Then one crosses Morris and Mary Streets into, what some call, "Midtown". Here you find "Cannonborough/Elliotbourough" and "Eastside". These two are also split by King street. While Cannonborough/Elliotborough" is known now for its fixeruppers with "increased investment and significant interest", "Eastside" is the poorer cousin lagging behind. 

If someone starts south of Broad street and moves north, noting the lifestyle and condition of the neighborhoods, when they reach "Eastside", the haughty may assume they have entered the "'hood". According to the dictionary, defined as "a lower income crime riddled area. An unsafe place to live. Residents usually live in fear of life from day to day. Not a 'nice' place to live." Or, as my Mama would say, (using one of my most despised "Zenithisms") not where "our people would live".

I disagree. The people on the street are most friendly and were quick to offer help as we hauled the loads of boxes and furniture into my new home. The neighborhood is in transition. You will find two extremely fine redone and well kept Charleston single houses on the street, then the next four houses will be old Charleston homes that has seen better days and are now tenements. The next building may be a boarded up house barely standing, a corner store with lots of business, or a church. 

Eastside is on the edge of gentrification. Soon, it too, will join the ranks of its more well to do cousins and become a desirable neighborhood. But, is that really so good? After all, as someone said, gentrification is, "When a bunch of white people move to the ghetto and open up a bunch of cup cake shops."

And, I ask who needs cupcakes when you can have what has been an identity, not necessarily upscale, but affordable housing for folks for years, an eclectic mix of people on the street, and so much going on?