The new dog is awesome.
I was supposed to pick her up the evening of my November 6th post, but….
I’ve actually had awesome luck with Craigslist people since moving to Oregon – on a whole, they’re much more reliable than California Craigslisters, so I guess I was overdue. I was supposed to hit “publish” on that blog post, and then text for the address and head out. I even got someone to cover for me so I could leave work early, hired a babysitter, and….
And then the lady who was going to meet me couldn’t find a ride. Apparently she needed a ride to go get the dog from her friend’s place – I couldn’t go get the dog without her.
I couldn’t tell if Ms. Craigslister was discreetly asking me to pick her up, but yeah.
No, I prefer to remain un-mugged, with my throat un-slit, thank you very much.
By 7pm that night I told her it might be best for us to do it another day. I didn’t get a response from her until the evening of the next day, when I got a text saying hey, she’d found a ride, and could I head out to meet her?
I admit it – I ignored the text. It wasn’t very mature, but I was annoyed. I’d taken time off of work the day before and was making up for it by working late. I had a talk I was going to give at the library the next day and needed to prepare, I needed to go grocery shopping, and didn’t feel like dealing with Portland traffic with no warning. I felt bad, as there was a dog in need, but…. but I was just so overwhelmed.
I asked her if we could do it on Saturday…. and once again I received no response until Saturday evening. Look, for the record, if we ever need to meet up I should probably let you know I am not a night person. By the time six pm hits I’m counting down the hours till baby bedtime and sweet, sweet, silence. I’m up for any adventures in the morning. Do you wanna explore a volcano at 7 in the morning? SURE! Wanna go hanggliding at dawn? AWESOME! Wanna paint a three story house? LET ME GET MY DROP CLOTH!
By eight in the evening the only thing I’m good for is shooting people nasty looks and muttering “Get off my lawn” at stupidly cheerful night people.
I texted her back and suggested Sunday – she agreed. I asked where we should meet up, and she quit responding.
I waited another couple of hours and followed up – where were we meeting?
She gave me a city.
I asked for more specifics.
She gave me the name of a giant street that was an hour’s drive away and spanned the length of the entire city.
I asked for a little more detailed location – she gave me a generic cross street in the middle of the city.
I texted back. “Are we meeting on the corner? In the street? In a building? At a house? Who am I meeting – you? Your friend with the dog? Can I get a little more info?”
She ignored it.
I asked again for more information on Sunday morning. Finally I received:
“There’s a McDonald’s there.”
And you know what? McDonald’s was perfect – because at that point there was no way in heck I was gonna meet anybody at a residence. I also asked her who all was going to be there at the meeting – her? The dog’s owner?
She ignored that, too.
Before I left I downloaded an app that showed my real-time location and shared it with The Bean and wrote down, just in case. Call me paranoid, but I used to answer 911 phone calls…. and there is some really not-nice Craigslist stuff that goes down from time to time.
When I arrived I made sure to park half a mile away in a busy parking lot – I didn’t want them knowing what kind of car I drove or what my license plate was. It may have seemed like overkill, but if it weren’t for the fact there was a starving dog involved I would have cancelled the whole transaction a long time before. I do not trust strangers who are deliberately vague with details when I am driving to meet them.
I walked through unfamiliar city to the world’s most hidden McDonald’s – if it weren’t for my phone’s GPS, I never would have found it. I arrived about 10 minutes early and texted for the third time – “How will I recognize you? Are you walking? In a car?”
“C u soon”
(Yes, I’m currently obsessed with expressing myself in .gifs. Whatever. Just enjoy the majesty.
By this point I was really weirded out and decided to turn my phone on silent and wait inside the McDonald’s. If I didn’t like the look of the people I was going to ignore them when they showed up and pretend to be just another person eating my fries.
About 15 minutes past our agreed meetup time I saw my phone ringing was ringing. I looked out the window and felt a wave of relief – two nice, generic, skinny Portlandia chicks who I could totally take in a fight unless they knew kung fu. PHEW.
I went out and waved them down. They parked the car and as soon as Ms. Cragislister opened the car door, a wiry little shepherd mix bounded out of it. She was mostly shepherd, with a square body, overly-long radar ears, a beautiful thick coat, and as soon as she saw me she danced straight towards me, crshing into my lower legs in one of those I’m-half-on-my-back/half-sitting/please-pet-my belly moves. She looked up at me with big, sweet eyes, and my heart melted.
I scratched her belly while she wagged her tail between her eyes, and raised my eyes to Ms. Cragislister. “Hey, I’m glad to see you’re a chick – I was beginning to get nervous at the way you were avoiding answering questions directly. I was worried you might be Jeffrey Dahmer when you didn’t text back.”
“I had to hold the dog.” She didn’t return my smile.
I looked at the totally calm, off-leash dog leaning against my legs and had to wonder.
The dog had no leash, but I’d planned ahead and brought a choke collar and leash. I figured that going on a walk before the drive home would give her a chance to get to know me and also give me a chance to assess her.
I slipped the collar over her head, and as I did she sat at my feet politely, looking up at me with big, liquid, “Please be nice” eyes.
Ms. Craigslist started to get back into her car, so I called out.
“So, any ideas how old she is? Does she have a name?”
“They called her Dixie, but you can call her whatever. I think she’s under two.”
They started to close the door, so I spoke quickly. “You said shepherd mix, and I see shepherd… any idea what the other half is?”
“Her mom was a shepherd – they said purebred. They said the dad was maybe coyote.”
And then they got in the car. I tried to ask a few more questions before they left, but they seemed to be in a hurry so I let them drive off.
I started walking back to my car – and realized I didn’t even need a leash. She was heeling perfectly. Good dog. Very good dog.
Despite me letting her sniff multiple grassy spots she waited until we were in the middle of the world’s loooongest crosswalk with the world’s shooooortest red light before going poo. I’d brought a baggie to pick up any mess on our walk, but the flashing red hand had already gone to solid, and I could tell the light was about to change even though I was only halfway through the intersection. I hunched my shoulders beneath the stares of a bazillion drivers as I literally dragged the skinny, still-pooping dog behind me, leaving a nice little trail of tootsie rolls behind us.
I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter, or that I had a giant neon sign flashing over my head. “LOOK AT THIS UNHEALTHY, EXTREMELY SKINNY DOG. THIS WOMAN IS A TERRIBLE DOG OWNER. STARE AT THE SCUM OF HUMANITY WHO LETS HER SKINNY DOG CRAP WHEREVER IT WANTS AND DOESN’T EVEN BOTHER TO PICK IT UP.”
She loaded up like a champ and sat in the passenger seat, alternating between staring out the window with a resigned air and shooting me worried glances.
Depressed and bewildered
Please. Please be kind to me. Please.
She was so much prettier than I expected.
I guess it’s time for a confession: I usually adopt pretty animals, or animals so ugly they’re personable.
It’s not very kind to the plain-jane pets, but in the back of my mind I’m always worried about what will happen if I run out of money, or if I have to suddenly join Witness Protection and my dogs end up in the pound, or if my kids develop a sudden-onset animal allergy and I have to sell all of them.
It’s like, even as I’m assessing a pet, in the back of my mind I’m always thinking, “If this doesn’t work out, would my ad linger on Craigslist for minutes or months?”
This was the first time I’d ever agreed to go rescue a dog sight-unseen, and I thought I was being very magnanimous by agreeing before I even saw a picture. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve fostered for adoption agencies before, but those places come with a “holy crap, take this animal back!” kind of built in.
Anyways, we drove home, I just kept shooting her incredulous glances. I just couldn’t believe this dog was for real. She was sweet. She was kind. She was pretty. She was obedient, and had the personality I just absolutely LOVE – sensitive enough to bond, but not super needy or pushy. If I’d custom-ordered her on the “dominance scale” chart, she couldn’t have been more perfect – submissive, but not cringey. She was smart but not super intelligent (those of you who had the “joy” of owning an intelligent dog know exactly what I’m talking about!)
These may not be traits everyone likes, but they are the kind of traits that I really mesh well with. Plus – I’m a shepherd fanatic. I got a lab because that was the kind of dog my boys needed, and she’s gorgeous and awesome and everything I’d hoped for – but I have and will always love shepherds, especially shepherds with a sable coat.
The drive home was only an hour long, but even so, as I ran fingers through her thick, dull coat, sighing as my hands hit rib bones and hip bones, and realized: Dude. I think I’m about to be a big, fat, foster FAIL. It was like I’d custom-ordered a dog and she was delivered by Craigslist.
The meeting between her and Artemis went okay – we took both dogs to the nearby track and just walked them until eventually we were walking around with both dogs completely ignoring each other. Artemis was in a completely spastic, hyper mood so the new dog was understandably overwhelmed – I let them sniff a bit and play just a little bit off-leash, but mostly limited their interaction. I felt like it would be better to keep them separated than have the first meeting go badly – and since I hadn’t jogged Artemis or played fetch in two days (Bad me. Bad), it was a recipe for failure.
I gave Artemis rawhide bone and put her in my bedroom, and let Sudo loose in the house.
She went immediately to our giant pot of water (Artemis is the world’s MESSIEST drinker, and it cuts the water dripping down by half) and began drinking.
Dehydrated dog. Just add copious water.
I finally got nervous about electrolyte imbalance so I picked it up and only allowed her access about once an hour. Each time I did she drank an absolutely insane amount – poor thing.
She has a beautiful, thick coat so her thinness didn’t really show in photos very well, much in the same way a thick winter coat will hide a too-thin horse’s condition. She was thin, though, and oooooh, how she smelled. It wasn’t her fur – it was her breath, or her skin, or all of the above. Someone on Facebook brought up the fact that it was the smell of ketones as her body was in starvation mode, and it made sense. I’m still frustrated I didn’t pick her up and weigh her when I got her. Ms. Cragislister had texted “She’s about 35-40 pounds but she should be more like 50 or 60 pounds.” It’s tough to say, but I think she was right – I do think she was around 35-40 pounds when she arrived.
I wanted to avoid upsetting her system or refeeding syndrome, so I didn’t do anything crazy – I tried to gauge what a dog her size should eat, and then I halved that and fed that several times a day for the first day or so. From there I gradually increased the amount every day until she was eating slightly more than I thought a 50-60 pound dog should eat. I didn’t want to put weight on her too fast – it seemed like it would be healthier on her metabolism to have her slowly put the weight back on rather than plumping her up all at once.
She didn’t respond to the name she came with, and I’ve never been one who has issues renaming an animals, so it didn’t take us long to come up with a new name.
I kind of wish we’d waited a couple of days longer – about five days after we named her I stumbled across “Keeper” and I realized it fit her perfectly….
But by then we were already set on Sudo. I have to admit, the name still makes me laugh. (It’s a computer Linux command – when you use it, it kind of forces your computer to accept your command, no matter what. “No barking. No barking. Sigh. Sudo, no barking. Thank you.”)
It took the boys awhile to figure out her name – they called her Noodle or Poodle for almost a week – and to be honest, I still refer to her as Sudo the Noodle.
And I know I’m a total foster fail… but, I mean… look. Could you resist her?
Anyways, it’s been a lot of fun watching Sudo fatten up and learn how to have fun.
Day 2: “May I? Really? May I really go play?”
It’s also been fun fattening her up.
I’m a huge fan of Royal Canin dog food- when we bought Artemis I went to this super posh, super knowledgeable pet store that I trusted and asked them to pick me out the best puppy food they could recommend.
They said a bunch of words I didn’t listen to, and I walked out the store with ridiculously expensive bag of dog food: Royal Canin Labrador puppy something-or-other. I figured I’d feed her the awesome food the first month or two, and then wean off to something more affordable.
Only, even after she shed her puppy coat she still had the softest, shiniest coat of any Labrador I’d ever come across. Sad as it is to say, I’m such a cheapskate that I would have changed anyways, but….
Artemis never smells.
Dude. SHE. NEVER. SMELLS.
To put that into context, I don’t give my dogs baths. Ever. I also don’t brush them. I know, I know. I suck.
It’s not that I don’t clean them off. Of course I do! When Artemis gets muddy or filthy, like any good dog owner I drive her down to the river and I throw the ball into the river a couple of times and let her swim around to her heart’s content.
By the time she’s done she’s no longer muddy. See? I’m not being a bad owner, I’m just being efficient, and letting her scrub herself. It’s a positive trait.
When I think she’s clean enough I then throw the ball a couple of times on dry land so she runs most of the “wet” off, and I bring her home.
I put her in her kennel so she doesn’t make my couch wet, and in an hour or so I let her out.
When I do that… SHE. DOESN’T. SMELL. LIKE. WET. DOG. I mean, there’s still a slight scent in her kennel, but usually the smell of wet dog has a way of just working its way throughout an entire house.
I used to think it was a magical ability she had – like, if you buy a super expensive purebred puppy they won’t smell bad like those plebian rescue dogs (it’s a joke, people)…
But then we had a couple of months where money was super tight and we had to switch Artemis from Royal Canin to Ol’ Roy (fifty pounds for $19.98. Thanks, Walmart!)
After about a month on the food I noticed I was having to vacuum twice as often.
After two months on the food she got muddy, so I took her to the river to swim…. and my car smelled like wet dog for the rest of the day. Let’s not even talk about what my bedroom smelled like after she’d been in her kennel drying off.
Anyways, there’s your free advertising, Royal Canin. I don’t endorse stuff much, but I really like your product.
Okay, Royal Canin people, you can stop reading now.
(Cough, cough, discreet cough: I’m not gonna say that their dog food is unbelievably expensive, because it would be super rude of me to do that…. but, yeah. It kind of is. It’s worth it, but… yeah. It’s pretty pricey. For cheapskates like me who can only afford to pamper their pets on the “good” months, I recommend stretching it out on the “bad” months by adding rice and sweet potato to each meal. It probably ruins the scientific perfection of it, or whatever, but their food is so protein-dense that I figure it’s probably healthier than switching back to Ol’ Roy. Cough)
Anyways, here’s a photo of Sudo when I got her vs. and a photo from yesterday. I suppose I should be all fancy photo blogger and take a better, less-blurry “after” picture, but then I’d have to stand up, and I’m feeling really lazy today.
Before (Day 1) and After (Yesterday, day 42 )
Anyways, part of the reason I haven’t updated on her is because I’ve been sitting around waiting to figure out what she’s *really* like. I mean, sure she was perfect when I got her, but I wanted to report on her *reaaaaal* personality.
“She’d probably like kids” Ms. Craigslist said. She was right.
Except… it’s been six weeks now, and yeah. Sorry. I just happen to have stumbled across the perfect dog. I wish it were possible to clone her and hand her perfection out to everyone.
….aaaand then I was petting her the day before yesterday and I realized – sigh. I just might be able to.
I was looking at her the other day, trying to place what her other “half” might be. She has long, thin legs and a coyote-way of moving, but I’ve met half coyote dogs before, and she definitely wasn’t half coyote.
At first I suspected Australian cattle dog based on the squareness of her head and a certain squareness to her muzzle, but as she gained weight I realized that was just combo of dehydration and hunger making her head appear so large and square.
Catahoula? Dobie? Who knows?
I’ve taken to introducing her as a German shepherd/hound dog. When she barks there’s a distinctive “baying” undernote to it, and based on her facial markings I’ve heard “hound” suggested quite a few times, so I’ve just decided to roll with it.
Besides – she’s still a bit ribby, but she has absolutely no underline:
That’s okay, we love her anyways even if she doesn’t have a Scarlett O’Hara waist. I tell her that, too. I even said it to her last night. “Poor little girl – it’s okay. I love you even if you don’t have a tiny waist.” Sudo, quite willing to believe I’d love her no matter what, flopped down on her back, tail wagging as she invited a belly scratch.
“You’re so pretty we don’t mind at all that you’re all thick and square and matronly, do we? Do we, ugly little girl?” (Shut up. You baby talk your dogs your way, I’ll baby talk my dogs my way.)
Sudo opened her mouth and smiled at me, tail wagging softly as she enjoyed a good belly scratch….. and as I scratched I realized I kept bumping into her teats – something that didn’t used to happen.
I stopped scratching, and Sudo rolled over into her favorite resting sphinx position.
“Oh, phew. Okay. For a second there you looked kind of…. oh, nevermind. Who’s a good dog? You want a belly rub? Roll on over and….”
It was like one of those photos that change when you move your head from side to side. – from above she looked normal. From underneath or the side…. Well, she looked pregnant. I guess I wasn’t completely surprised, because I could tell she was coming out of season when I brought her home. If I’d thought she could have handled the stress of a big surgery I might have gone to the next day to get her spayed, but she was so skinny I’ve been waiting until she’s nice and healthy – probably some time in mid January.
Only…. only I really, really, REALLY did not remember her teats standing out that much. I stopped in my scratching reached down and tested one – and was more than a little dismayed at what came out.
So… yeah. I’m not going to say she’s absolutely 100% pregnant – I would need x-rays for that, but I’m pretty sure I feel puppies rolling around, and she’s got big bewbs that leak stuff, and…
And there was this whole other thing I had written here about stuff I learned from this possible dog pregnancy, but once I was done writing it I realized it was kind of off-topic, and besides, I had actually created the LONGEST POST IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD, so I cut it and I’ll post it in a day or two.
Anyways – we’ll see. I’ve owned Sudo for 43 days. It’s hard to say, but she could have been a week to two weeks pregnant when I got her. Of course, she could have been only two days pregnant. She also could not be pregnant at all, because I brought her in for any X-rays.
Irregardless, I think it’s safe to assume she was about a week pregnant when I picked her up… which means she’s about 50 days pregnant. Dogs whelp between 56-65 days (63 days is average), so… so we’ll see. I borrowed a blue plastic kids’ pool and set up a whelping area in my closet, and got all sorts of supplies just in case…. so, we’ll see.
Also, I used irregardless just to annoy my grammar nazi friends. Hah. Made you cringe.