Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Heating Pad Thief

This is all Dr. Olson's fault...spoiling Red Rocket with the heating pad (see earlier posts). He snatched it from me again this afternoon and clearly was not inclined to share.

Dirty Doggie

Rachsie offers a reproachful look while Red Rocket engages in some ungentlemanly personal grooming.


This morning I did something rare. I taught my 8:30 AM class and then immediately came home because I had an article to work on and I knew if I stayed at the office I'd be interrupted. It's a good thing I came home early. August had forgotten to lock the pantry door after he fed the dogs this morning and in the mere 30 minutes between August and Edward leaving the house and my return our three dachshunds had "unloaded" the lowest pantry shelf onto the dining room floor. The rug was littered with apple juice bottles, canned soup, tea bags, stuffing mix, and oatmeal. The oatmeal box was the easiest to access and it had been ripped open. Packets of apple-raisin oatmeal were strewn throughout the house - I found them in Emma's sick bed (which Rachsie has adopted as a favorite mischief spot), on the couch, on the bathroom rug, in the kitchen. Interspersed with the oatmeal packets were various toys that had also suffered at the paws of Red Rocket and Rachsie: an army figure decapitated and amputated at the wrists, the yellow wings ripped off a foam rocket, and a plastic beagle mutilated around the head and chest area. I had forgotten what it's like to have puppies in the house...

Morning Cartoons

I have to leave the house in the morning well before August and Edward so they often hit the couch together after getting out of bed where Edward watches Playhouse Disney and Daddy catches a few extra minutes of sleep with the dogs.

Three Dogs, One Lap

Grading papers is difficult with three dogs trying to squeeze each other out of the way to lay claim to your lap! (Emma was there in spirit - her pawprint was transferred from a mold made by Pet Angel to the pendant I am wearing in the picture.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Greeting Autumn with Abandon

Ahhhh...Autumn. A slight chill in the air, harvest gold and deep red tinting the tree leaves, the scent of bonfires, and the opportunity for miniature dachshunds to spend lots of time outside rolling in the compost heap. I was grading papers this afternoon when Rachsie scratched at the back door after spending a leisurely hour outside. I got up and opened the door to Rachsie and Red Rocket who both bounded in (Maggie loves the outdoors and elected to stay lounging on the deck.) I prepared myself a cup of coffee and wandered back to the couch to continue grading - my two miniatures eagerly awaiting a lap to snooze in. Red Rocket climbed up first and rolled onto his back, Rachsie followed snuggling next to him, placing her paws delicately over his stomach. I contentedly opened another blue book. And then it struck me. The smell. The unmistakable odor of domesticated hunting dogs who still feel biologically compelled to mask their scent in the most foul smelling excrement they can find. Perhaps, I thought, I can live with it and let them nap before I take them to the tub. The blue book belonging to my brightest student was in my hand and I sailed through it. The next book was fair but I had trouble concentrating to grade it. By the third book all the artists, titles, and dates were swirling as the lack of oxygen caused by holding my breath started to make me dizzy. No more grading. Time to bathe Red Rancid and Poopy Princess. The combination of water and tropical coconut pineapple dog shampoo was the equivalent of putting Red Bull into their water dish. Released from the bathroom they have spent the last 30 minutes racing through the house, rubbing against the carpets and furiniture in an attempt to dispel their fruity aroma, and wrestling each other with vigor.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"We are not amused."

After Red Rocket's chocolate orgy we instituted a new policy: when chocolate is being consumed inside the dogs must be outside. In this photo Red Rocket and Racshie gaze through the window of the back door shooting us looks similar to those teenagers give to overprotective parents. At least we'll be prepared ten years from now when Edward starts employing the classic sneer and narrowed eyes combination.

Snuggle Buddies

Rachsie uses Red Rocket as a pillow...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Introducing: Rachsie

I wouldn't consider myself a movie buff. I'm not very well-versed in pop culture. And I don't have the ability to watch a film once and start quoting lines from it. However, I do have a few favorite cinematic narratives that I watch over and over - often tied to the holidays. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving we watch White Christmas while putting up the tree and on quiet Easter afternoons we watch The Sound of Music. It's the latter film that offers a valuable piece of wisdom I often turn to in life: when God closes a door somewhere he opens a window. After Emma died I assumed that God had implemented this plan backwards and that Red Rocket had jumped through the window just as Emma was headed for the door. But now I have discovered that God's door-and-window plan is more complex than presented in The Sound of Music.

I received a frantic phone call from my neighbor ten days ago. A sweet dachshund needed to be rescued from a home where she was no longer welcome; since I "rescue dogs" would I be willing to take her? I must admit, I paused. I had just lost Emma. I wasn't ready. Would I be betraying Emma's memory by so quickly adopting another dog? Could I love another dog after the pain of Emma's loss? I agreed, hesitantly, to take the dog in for a few days for a test run. While I may have been hesitant about opening my heart to another dog, Red Rocket wasn't. This sweet, petite little girl pranced right into our house and Red Rocket fell in love. Her name is Roxie but I re-spelled it "Rachsie" as in "Dachsund." She was duly delivered to Dr. Olson for annual shots and a spay operation and she has settled in as if she's been here her whole life. We're her fourth home. My dear, departed best-friend Michael's lucky number was four - I think it's going to be Rachsie's lucky number as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Life's Little Luxuries Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous post, I purchased a new, larger heating pad with a soft flannel cover for Red Rocket and I to share. No sooner did I have it out on the bed than KASHA swooped in and decided to claim it as her nap spot!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life's Little Luxuries

I like a few, select reality television shows: Project Runway, the earlier seasons of The Apprentice, and The Mole. So my reality TV knowledge is pretty limited. I think there was one of those survival shows that I recall hearing about (but didn't watch) where the contestants were allowed to take one luxury item with them. If I had been on that show the choice would have been easy: heating pad. I remember as a child that my grandmother almost always had the heating pad in her chair on and as an adult I embrace and emulate that energy-wasting practice. During his "chocolate convalesence," Red Rocket was introduced to the luxury of the external warming device. At the emergency clinic they microwaved two bags of saline (that were about the same size as he is) and he lounged with his back against one and grasped the other between his paws and pulled it up against his stomach. When he was transferred to Dr. Olson's he was provided with a heating pad wrapped in a flannel blanket that covered most of the bottom of his cage. And now that he has returned home he has decided to steal MY heating pad as illustrated in the photo above. I went out and purchased a larger one so we can share!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Brownies, PTSD, and the Nine Lives of Red Rocket

I have a meeting in the morning with the Chief Information Officer/Associate Vice-President of Academic Affairs. He’s an amazingly energetic man who seems to perfectly balance teaching with administration, networks with zeal, and has an unbelievable ability to look with vision to the future. I know that behind every incredible man like him is an equally incredible administrative assistant who schedules, runs interference and problem solves with skill and acumen. And in the case of our CIO I’m positive his administrative assistant is a whiz because she’s one of my former students! So, this afternoon I was thinking that I should take her a little gift in the morning, something special but casual. Brownies would be good. But as I unwrapped the individually bundled squares of unsweetened baking chocolate to start the batch I was seized by a wave of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And this is where I must confess that another reason for my long hiatus from the Red Rocket Report is that a week after Emma died Red Rocket ate a half-pound of baking chocolate and nearly died too…

It never would have happened if Emma were alive. She guarded everything with a vengeance: the house, me, food left out on the counter, Edward, the cats, food left on the coffee table – she was more formidable than the Berlin Wall, Fort Knox and Area 57 combined. So, without her to stand guard, while we were at work and Edward was at school one morning, Red Rocket hopped onto a dining room chair, onto the dining room table and unpacked a large grocery bag of non-perishable items I had left on the table. Kleenex (not tasty enough), macaroni and cheese (too crunchy), can of green beans (too difficult to access), large bags of pecans and walnuts (a possibility but looks too much like dog kibble), hmm…look at this lovely orange box that smells to heaven and is so easy to rip apart. This is wonderful, I will carefully unwrap each delectable ounce and consume it with gusto. All seven pounds of me eating all 8 ounces of this luscious, sweetly-narcotic, dog toxin…

I arrived home at 4:00 and immediately knew something was wrong. Red Rocket didn’t greet me at the door. He was hunched over the pillows on the sofa, shaking, crying. When I lifted him up and set him down on the rug his legs collapsed and he fell to the floor. I grabbed him, I grabbed Edward, and 30 seconds later I was speeding toward Dr. Olson’s. I called my husband on my cell phone on the way, “Something’s terribly, terribly, wrong with Red Rocket!” He confessed: he had found an empty box of chocolate on the dining room floor at Noon but everyone seemed fine. He e-mailed me and left me a phone message but I was in meetings all afternoon and didn’t receive the report. I hung up on him. I raced through Eastborough at 45 MPH determined that the cop running radar could just follow me to Dr. Olson’s – but the angels were watching and the radar gun was off. I wove erratically in and out of traffic with Red Rocket writhing on the seat beside me. Pray, pray, please Emma…make him be alright. Another sharp weave around someone awaiting a left turn. “Wheeeee!” Edward exclaims from the back seat. Hang on, baby, please Rocket hang on. Another weave to try and sail through the yellow light and that’s when it happens. Lurching car, rolling stomach, Red Rocket opens his mouth and a creamy smooth cascade of chocolate dog vomit runs like lava over the edge of car seat, down the side of my linen computer purse, to pool and bubble on the car mat. The sickly sweet aroma permeated the stuffy air of the car and the sight and smell evoked memories of a chocolate fountain on a dessert display table at a half-million dollar wedding I once attended in New York years ago. Cell phone: call Dr. Olson and prepare him for poison control. I sped into the parking lot honking my horn. Sarah came running out. “I think he’s dying!” I yelled as I shoved his limped, chocolate-vomit covered body into her arms.

Friends who have heard this tale are all in agreement: Red Rocket must have a strand of feline DNA encoded with nine lives in his genetic make-up. After four days of IV fluids, charcoal infusions, heart rate monitoring and blood tests he emerged happy and energetic as ever: but with seven lives instead of the eight he had after the car hit and amputation. We plan on making them the best seven lives of his life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Emma 1999-2009

To Fans and Friends of the Red Rocket Report:

I apologize for my long hiatus from the Red Rocket Report but I have been in mourning. On Sunday, August 30 I lost my sweet, beloved Emma. As you all know from reading previous posts she was suffering from lymphoma which attacked without warning, quickly and aggressively. On Saturday, August 29 she could barely move and was taken to the veterinary emergency clinic for a blood transfusion. Sadly, just prior to the transfusion she developed a heart arrythmia which did not resolve and by Sunday morning we knew that her time had come. Bless Dr. Olson, he came to the house so she could die in my arms in our bed. Penny from Pet Angel Memorial Center also gave up her Sunday afternoon to come to the house and collect Emma. She, Shelly and Ronda arranged a beautiful visitation and have helped all of us work through our grief. The house is so quiet without her and her loyalty and constancy are deeply missed.