Friday, May 27, 2011

Senior Lady Needs A Home

Shih Tzus are small, people oriented dogs. It's a sad commentary that there are now all too many of these sweet creatures who are in need of homes.

Friends of Portia is looking for a new home for a nine year old female Shih Tzu named Midge. Midge is now living in a home where she receives great care and attention. But she really needs to be an only dog for a couple or a single person who is home most of the time.

Remember that the typical nine year old Shih Tzu can expect to live many years and will be a loyal, loving companion. That's what Shih Tzus were bred to be.

If you can give Midge the home she needs, or if you know of anyone who can, please contact me:

It is difficult to get a good picture of Miss Midge because she is camera shy. One will be posted soon--we hope.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wild Life In Suburbia

Two nights ago, Bingley asked to go out just as John and I were ready to turn in. We heard a bark-growl from Bingley followed by silence and a series of insistent barks. John went out to check on things.

Bingley had trapped an opossum against the back gate. A small pool of blood on the deck revealed that Bingley had done more than just chase his prey. John brought a very reluctant hunter into the house and went back out to determine if the critter had died of its injuries and a burial would be required or if it had slipped under the gate. Fortunately, there was no sign of the the opossum.

I examined Bingley for injuries and discovered a small split on the right side of his lip. Thank heavens for rabies shots! He let me clean the cut with hydrogen peroxide and began to insist on reconnoitering the scene of his conquest.

Of course, Magic caught the excitement and instead of retiring to well earned rest, John and I had to wash down the deck and monitor two very excited dogs.

We finally thought we had them settled and went to bed. I had been asleep for less than an hour when Bingley woke me again, insisting that he needed to go out. As I staggered around the deck trying to keep Bingley within the range of my flashlight, I realized that we had actually gotten off easily.

It was an opossum.

Not a skunk.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Do You Know Where Your Dog Is?

Bingley is not a barker. But if he sees a cat or rabbit or small dog out the front window, he will bark. Usually, if I open the sliding door that leads from the kitchen into the back yard, he will race out, apparently thinking that he will find the critter of interest on the opposite side of the house.

Usually, after a few minutes, Bingley comes back in, tongue hanging out from his exertions, having forgotten that the critter still might be in front of the house. He's happy to have run around the back yard. I'm happy that he has been distracted.

This evening was different. When Bingley started to bark at something he saw outside the front window, I didn't bother to check the object of his concern. I simply opened the kitchen door and he exited. But he didn't do his usual inspection tour of the garden. He stood at the door, barking and barking. So, in interest of neighborly relationships, I let him back in and followed him to see what the bother was.

Across the street, in the front yard of people I know have only indoor cats, a young boy, perhaps five years old, was trying to corral a small white dog--without any success. The erratic movements of the little boy and little dog were what had set off Bingley's unusually strong reaction. Two moving critters that needed pursuit and no way for him to pursue them. What frustration!

I managed to wedge myself out the front door without Bingley's bolting, as he clearly wished to do, so I could investigate the situation.

The little boy confirmed that the dog was his: what appeared to be a Miniature Poodle/Bichon mix, named "Chubby." No leash, collar or tags.

I called the dog and started walking up the street to where the boy said he lived--about six houses up. Chubby was happy to follow me until we passed two houses across the street with open garage doors. Both houses have dogs and Chubby needed to investigate. But it wasn't hard to coax him back and a kind neighbor driving up the street was acting as a traffic break to protect Chubby from being run over. When we arrived at the house that the little boy identified as his, the garage door was also open. No mystery how Chubby had escaped.

Since no adults were in evidence, I told the boy to take Chubby inside and close the door. I also suggested that Chubby needed a collar and tags. But five year olds shouldn't be expected to remember messages of that nature.

The episode ended happily. Chubby and his little human got safely home. Bingley settled down after Chubby disappeared. You gotta love a good distractable Sighthound--Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

But we were lucky. On our short walk to Chubby's house, we passed one house where a Rottweiler lives and another house where a Pit Bull lives. Both are well cared for dogs with responsible humans. But on warm days, the Rottweiler's people let him bark and carry on with only a screen door for protection. I've always wondered just how strong that screen door is. And on some days an irresponsible young man visits the Pit Bull and he insists it's ok for the Pitty--"he loves everyone"--to run loose in front of the house.

Today the Rottweiler's front door was closed and the Pit Bull had no irresponsible visitor.

I hope today's escape was a strange event for Chubby that will never occur again. I certainly hope that I never encounter Chubby loose at 5am when I'm walking Bingley and Magic.

I really hate to walk up to a neighbor's house and remind them that they need to keep track of where their dog is at all times and that small dogs are particularly vulnerable if left to wander.

Perhaps I'll wait to see if it happens again.

But summer is coming. That's when a lot of people in our neighborhood keep garage doors open to cool off their houses.

I'll probably be seeing Chubby again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hooray for Misty!

In April of 2001 we adopted our first rescued dog: Daphne, a Soft Coated Wheaten/Sighthound mix--perhaps Greyhound, perhaps Whippet.

I found Daphne's picture on the internet and was immediately gripped. "She's asking me to come and get her asap! Just look at that face!"

We live in San Diego County. Daphne was at Pet Orphans in Van Nuys, north of Los Angeles.

John, bless his heart, agreed to the adoption. And so, on one of the hottest April Sundays on record, we drove up to Pet Orphans, adopted Daphne and began the brand new educational experience of living with a dog who scored 10 out of 10 on the Adorable Appearance Scale, but, as we were informed, had "issues."

All I can say is that adopting a dog that was found at about one year of age on the streets of L.A.; was bounced from two placements; and because of her unique breed mix and background experienced great stress being kenneled for most of two years; was a far cry from our previous pattern of buying pure bred puppies from a highly responsible breeder.

But Daphne changed our lives. We will never again buy a pure bred dog. We will always adopt a rescue.

And I will always have a very soft spot in my heart for Pet Orphans, Daphne's Alma Mater. They loved her, did their best to socialize and train her, and stuck with her until we, her "forever home", finally materialized.

That's the reason there is a link to Pet Orphans on the right hand side of this blog. And that's why I visit their site at least once a week. It's my connection to Daphne. And I become particularly attached to and concerned about the dogs who wait and wait for forever homes.

Today I checked on the dogs of Pet Orphans who need homes. And happiness of happiness, one of my favorites, a tiny Chihuahua/Terrier mix who has been waiting and waiting and waiting--maybe not as long as Daphne, but way too long--has been adopted. Hooray for Misty! Congratulations to her new family! Only the presence of Bingley and Magic had prevented me from talking to John about another trip up to Van Nuys.

Now there's Teddy, the Pomeranian mix. He is really adorable. So he jumps five foot fences. I'm sure there's someone out there who can work with him on that issue. And Yogi, the American Bulldog, and Bart, and Annabella and Elvis--all Chihuahua mixes and....

But today is Misty's Day.

Now there's room for another dog who can be "transferred" from one of the high kill "shelters" in Los Angeles County to Pet Orphans, one of the finest private rescues, and a true shelter for Teddy and Yogi and Bart and Annabella and Elvis and all the other dogs and cats waiting there for forever homes.

Note: There is a malfunction that is preventing me from giving hot links in my posts. If you wish to visit Pet Orphans' site, the link at the right of the page is in working order and will take you to pictures of some wonderful dogs in need of forever homes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Settling In

I have no plans to ever again have a puppy as my canine companion. Of course, if a homeless puppy turned up on my doorstep and my resident canines showed no inclination to do it severe bodily harm, my plans could change in a hurry. But given the fact that John and I have made the decision to adopt rescues and given the fact that we have no inclination to train a puppy, our plans are likely to stand.

However, bringing an adult dog who has either never known a real home or has associated bad things with humans also requires loving patience and consistent re-training.

For many people, that process is too long and too demanding. But for some of us, helping an adult dog become a trusting member of a family is rewarding beyond words.

Nine days from today, Magic will have been with us for eighteen months. Her behavior patterns are dramatically different now from the way they were when she first arrived. She was a "Bolter", an "Escape Artist." She had to learn to walk on a leash. She had to learn that carpeting was NOT the place to relieve herself. She had to learn that she could trust men, most particularly John.

Magic and Bingley had to work out their relationship. Bingley is an easy going, get along kinda guy. But he was accustomed to pretty aggressive play with Portia, who always gave as good as she got. Bingley's overtures terrified Magic. His repeated play bows--his gentlemanly way of reassuring her--meant nothing to Magic.

And then, there was the First Out The Door Issue. Anytime John or I approached a door, Magic was there, ready to bolt. In her determination, she almost knocked me over more than once.

She had to learn that when returning from a walk, the human, not either dog, enters the house first. Then she had to learn to wait at the back sliding glass door until it was opened.

The very last lesson had to be taught by Bingley. With dogs, first in and out is an important expression of dominance. Bingley was clearly unhappy to have the new interloper blast past him when he was venturing into his kingdom--that is, the back yard--or returning from exploring his kingdom.

I felt sorry for Bingley, but I leave it to the dogs to tell each other what they can tolerate. It became routine to see Magic push her way out the kitchen door in front of Bingley.

Then, a few weeks ago, I opened the door to let the dogs in. Bingley was standing right by the door. But he did not come in. I called Magic. She ignored me. Bingley trotted over to where she was and transmitted some doggy signal. Magic came racing for the door. Bingley followed her in with great dignity.

The next time I let them out, I realized that it was Bingley, not Magic, who exited first. Without any help from me, Bingley had let Magic know that he would wait for her to be the first in, but she would have to defer to his being the first out.

At eighteen months, a puppy is adult size but still a puppy in behavior. At eighteen months, a frightened, insecure Magic has become an integral part of our human/canine family. Still a little quirky. Still sure of what she wants and doesn't want. But a loving companion to John and me and a reliable sidekick for Bingley. Nothing beats two middle aged dogs who get along with each other, love their humans, and fit themselves into the routines of the household.

And when both dogs are rescues, the rewards for their humans are indescribable.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Domino, R.I.P.

Friends of Portia extends its deepest condolences to Janet, Mark and Christian on the loss of their beloved Dalmatian blend, Domino. When she stopped eating and could no longer enjoy daily walks, it was clear that she was slipping away. A sweet, faithful companion has been released from pain, but leaves an empty place in the lives of those who loved her.