Monday, August 13, 2012

"Billy" And "Mercedes" Meet "Kappy"

Last Tuesday, we took our two "rescued" Dachshunds back to the Cumberland County SPCA. The purpose was to have them meet our then potential third "rescued" Dachshund.

You can read all about it here.

Last Friday morning, the little dog the SPCA called "Irwin", went in to be neutered. It's their policy that all adoptees are spayed or neutered as gender prescribes.

We had already been approved to adopt "Irwin".

I just had to call to find out when we could go pick him up.

I was told he'd be ready to go at 2;30 pm.

After some discussion, Christine and I decided to just go by ourselves. I thought taking one of the dogs may have made him more comfortable. We bounced that idea around quite a bit. Christine pointed out that we had brought the other dogs home solo and had no problems.

Facts are hard to argue against.

We arrived right on time. Christine finished up the paperwork. I made sure I had placed a collar and leash in my pocket for us to get him to the car. One of the young ladies on Staff asked me for his collar. I gave it to her and said a quiet prayer.

It took a few minutes, but soon she brought "Irwin" out on a small "choke collar". It's not their preferred method, but "Irwin" had already snapped at/nipped a few folks there. Our collar was around his neck.

Now, all I had to do was get the leash clipped on without scaring "Irwin" or getting bit.

Fortunately, I had already formulated a plan for "Irwin".

He was cowering a bit when he saw the leash in my hand. His ears were flat. He was shaking.

Rather than just reaching at him to attach the leash, I leaned a little closer to him.

I softly spoke one of the "Universal Questions That All Dogs Know": "Do you want to go *Bye-Byes* in the car?"

"Irwin's" ears popped up, he turned to look at the SPCA staffer, and before he could even realize, I had the leash clipped on to his collar and the "choke collar" was off.

As it turned out, he did quite well on the leash. Christine walked him around the front yard for a couple of minutes. He did his thing, marking a few spots for the next little doggies.

Now the next challenge. Getting him in the car.

He had shown some aggression when the staff/volunteers had tried to pick him up. He still had a large abrasion under the front right shoulder/crook of the leg from a harness that had to be cut from him by a veterinarian.

Christine had this problem solved in no time.

She got in the car and placed a towel over her lap.

"Irwin", seeing Chris sitting with the towel, had decided that's where he wanted to be.

I carefully picked him up by his left shoulder and haunches and softly laid him on the towel.

The rest was easy.

Somewhere between the SPCA and Christine's house, "Irwin" became "Kappy". After all, "Irwin" was just a name the SPCA placed on him. It lasted about the 10 days of his stay.

Friday was a "Dachshund Love Fest". "Billy" and "Mercedes" greeted "Kappy".

He greeted them right back.

It was an outstanding weekend.

So, here they are lined up for breakfast:

"Billy", "Mercedes", and "Kappy".

"Kappy's" first afternoon.

Maybe I'm biased, but he sure looks happy.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

And Then There Were Three

"Sadness and loneliness are the seeds and soil of despair." -- me

I was online three nights ago. Normally I'd have been watching the Summer Olympics. Unfortunately, I had run across the results for the events scheduled to be broadcast that evening.

It's one of the downsides when the Olympics are held in another country in another time zone.

By 9:00 pm I'd become bored with playing games on Facebook and Pogo. I had already read the local, Memphis, and multiple national news websites I routinely follow.

I was so bored I decided to edit my "Favorites" column in order to clean up some of the "dead wood". Some were stories/sites I had meant to blog on. Some were sites that have since ceased operations. A couple of sites were no longer of any interest to me.

Then I came across a site I hadn't visited in some time.

It was a site for a shelter in a neighboring county.

I clicked on it.

As I scrolled down the list I made a mental note that I was due to make a contribution to them.

Halfway down the list I suddenly stopped.

My heart started racing.

I got that all too familiar "lump in my throat".

I called Christine into the kitchen to see the pictures. We clicked on his name. It took us to another web page. This page told his story and had two additional pictures.

I felt an attempt to complete his rescue was in order. Christine wasn't so sure. Taking on the responsibility for another life is a tall order.

There was no need for us to make a solid commitment right at that moment.

The shelter would not be open for visitors at that hour.

I told Christine that I would travel out there the next morning and size up the situation.

"There's always room for one more at the table."   --My late father, Richard LeCompte Walker

It takes about an hour to get to the shelter's location from here. I left so as to get there as early as I could.

Ironically, it took me right past the very place our "Billy" was saved from by a kind appliance repairman.

Every time I drive past there I marvel at just how tough that little dog was and just how grateful I am that there are good souls like Billy the repairman are out there.

Remembering our "Billy's" hardships, I began to cry a little. It will always bother me that someone could toss a little dog out in that area during the worst month of a really bad Winter.

From that point it was only a 15 minute drive to the Cumberland County SPCA.

It's the same place we adopted "Billy" from.

It's the same place we adopted "Mercedes" from back in March.

This time they had a (estimated) six year old turned in by Animal Control. His first stop was at the veterinarians. The poor thing had a terrible abrasion on his right front "elbow joint" and abdomen. It was either from him escaping from a harness or being tossed from/hit by a car.

I talked to the ladies at the front counter. They recognized me from our rescues of the previous two Dachshunds.

I asked to see "Irwin".

The lady waiting on me gave me his story. She said, "He's a wonderful little dog, but he has huge trust issues."

Well, so did "Billy" and "Mercedes".

She told me what pen he was in and that he was in there with a miniature Pinscher. "Mini Pini's" are usually very hyper. I would have preferred that "Irwin" was in his own pen, but conditions get crowded in SPCA's sometimes.

I walked over to the pen and knelt down. Both dogs came over. Going against the rules, I placed three of my fingers through the fencing for "Irwin" to smell.

He must have smelled "Billy" and "Mercedes" on me. His tail went right up and started wagging.

My first impression was, "Oh my God, what a beautiful little dog.".

I walked back to the desk. "Irwin" was indeed available for adoption. Christine's adoption package for "Mercedes" was still in date. All we needed to do is have Christine, "Billy", and "Mercedes" come meet him to make sure all would get along.

I made a donation to the SPCA and said a prayer for all the animals as I left.

"Who wants to go *Bye-Byes* in the car?" -- Universal question that dogs everywhere understand

I reported to Christine what I had seen that afternoon. After some discussion, we decided that going there Tuesday morning would be the best course of action.

As it turned out, Christine's afternoon appointment rescheduled, so Tuesday was a perfect day to go back.

We loaded "Billy" and "Mercedes" in the AirTrafficMobile, and headed to the SPCA.

Not surprisingly, when we got near where "Billy" had been dumped in January, 2011 he began to shake. Bad memories are not so easily erased, but love DOES conquer all.

We were kind of worried how the dogs would react seeing the SPCA again.

No problem.

They went in, tails wagging.

We were asked to go to a "Visitation Room".

The four of us sat patiently while the Staff tried to place a collar on "Irwin". Apparently, his last collar didn't agree with him.

Finally, a volunteer who had gained "Irwin's" trust carried him in the room and placed him on the floor.

It was the moment of truth.

"Billy" and "Mercedes", both with tails up and wagging about 200 mph, walked over to him. His tail was up doing the same.

"Touchdown" doggy style!

Then "Irwin" shocked the volunteer and Staff person. He followed "Mercedes" over to me and let me scratch his head and behind his ears. No fuss, no fear, just a little dog who finally felt safe.

A minute later he walked over to Christine and let her do the same.

From that point forward, there was no doubt.

The volunteer came in to put "Irwin" back in the pen.

"Irwin" wanted to stay with us. He ran over and sat between "Billy" and "Mercedes" by my feet.

He still had to be neutered. We couldn't take him home at that point.

However, on Friday, he'll be saying "Bye-Bye" to his pen.  "Bye-Bye" to the concrete floor. "Bye-Bye" to the sounds of scared, confused animals.

Friday, it will be, "Welcome home, *Irwin*".

He'll also get a new name since "Irwin" was only assigned by the SPCA. 

In the meantime.......

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Friday, August 3, 2012

What A Difference A Year Makes

Last year in Winter I had my annual physical.

Among the numbers staring me grimly in the face were my weight, my blood pressure, my cholesterol numbers (both HDL and LDL), my triglycerides, and my A1C (measure of glucose in blood for determining diabetes).

My weight was 265/270 lbs.

My blood pressure was 203/131.

My total cholesterol last year was 240 (HDL: 34).

My triglycerides were above 170.

My A1C level was 5.9 (borderline diabetic).

It took some minor tweaking over the course of a year and a half.

This Monday past I had another physical with a complete blood series.

This year, the numbers look a lot better:

Weight: 235 (and dropping) lbs.

Blood pressure: 139/85.

Cholesterol: 198 (HDL: 45).

Triglycerides: 157.

A1C: 5.4 (normal range).

The secret? Initially, medicine to bring down my blood pressure. In January I changed how I eat. Instead of three big meals a day, I began eating five to six smaller meals per day and incorporating more fresh fruit, low fat yogurt, and backing off red meat.

I still have red meat, but only once a week or so.

For example, Christine and I split a 3 pound Porterhouse steak last night. We didn't eat the whole thing in one sitting. I trimmed the "tail" off and chopped it up for the dogs. That was about 12 ounces of meat on it's own. We each had about 7 ounces, with 1/2 baked sweet potato, and a steamed crown of broccoli.

There was a time I could have put the whole steak down by myself.

Not any more. It's just not worth it.

Over the last two weeks I've also given up vodka. Too many empty calories, too much impact on blood sugar, not enough happy memories.

My target weight for this year is somewhere between 215 and 220 pounds.

That would put me at my weight in 1986.

My overall weight plan will hopefully get me back down to between 200 and 205.

That would put me at my weight in college (1979-83).

It seems doable.

Now I just have to go out and get a smaller belt, smaller shorts, and a smaller swimsuit.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.