Saturday, May 8, 2010

Two Weeks In

It has officially been two weeks since we adopted Lewis; this makes him 10 weeks old! We have already seen changes in him. He's much more confident, which is good and bad. Our vet said that it would take about two weeks for Lew to believe that he's really ours, that he's not going to be moved somewhere else shortly. Evidence of increased confidence? Trying to push the limits!

At first, Lewis backed off when our adult cat, Dinah, hissed at him; he now tries to play with his "sister" about ten times a day. If I weren't concerned about him losing an eye, this would be kind of hilarious! Having learned a little bit (ok, a lot, I'm obsessive with the reading about dogs) about how dogs communicate, I think I can break this process down.

Step 1: The Approach. "Oh look, the black and white one! I will come up and wag my tail to show that I am friendly!"
Step 2: An Invitation. "Hmm. The black and white one does not respond! I know, I will invite her to play!" Now, dog invitations to play are fascinating, because they're extremely formal. Given that dogs play by rolling around on top of each other and sniffing various body parts, the formality of the invitation strikes me as adorable. A submissive doggie will come up to another dog and "bow," or slide his front legs forward until his little chin is near the floor and his little waggly tail and butt are way up in the air. This may be, and in our house often is, followed by a few high-pitched, friendly barks.
Step 3: Repeat the invitation and bark more.
Step 4: Prance in an arch, maintaining the same distance, but never break eye contact to cease tail wagging.
Step 5: Just go up and try it, despite having received no reciprocal invitation to play. "Play with me! Play with me!"

He just can't stand that this third family member will not play, and he just cannot be patient! He's a baby! Now, our cat is 12. Before we adopted her, she was an indoor/outdoor cat and, according to her former owner, saw her fair share of fights. This animal is not something she fears. Nevertheless, she is absolutely unwilling to let him inside some sort of circle that she has drawn around herself in the sand. If I were Dinah, I wouldn't let this thing near me, either! They're about the same size, and he's clumsy, smells funny (to her), licks/nips at everything and runs a lot. Besides licking me, my two pets share almost no common interests!

Now that Lewis is more confident with his new family, he is more confident about approaching Dinah. And he does it more often. Given that his tail doesn't stop wagging until someone yells at him, I would guess that the poor thing has no idea that Dinah wants nothing to do with him! This is stressful if a) he won't stop, despite commands or b) the cat approaches him just to taunt him and then hisses/swipes at him.

This little dance seems to become more intricate daily, so I wanted to record what it looks like now. We'll see what happens! Please cross your fingers with me that Lewis does not end up with a scratch on the eyeball...

Here are some photos that show the progression of an approach by Lewis (unfortunately, I did not manage to capture the amazing "bow"):
"See, I'm submissive, play with me!" "NO." Fortunately, Lewis did not choose to move any closer. If he had, Dinah would have held her ground and given him a good, swift swipe across the face.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life Before Adoption

We adopted Lewis when he was just eight-weeks-old, but the puppy and his family had already had very eventful lives! His mother, Kandy, a tri-colored beagle, was found with her six three-week-old puppies in a small town in Virginia and brought to a crowded Humane Society shelter. From there, the dogs were transferred to East Hanover, New Jersey, to the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter and placed with a foster family. Although they had received medical attention, their foster family soon noticed that something wasn't quite right with Kandy. On closer examination, the animal hospital quickly realized that poor Kandy had a small bullet lodged in one of her paws! I have no idea how anyone could have abandoned this beautiful young dog, let alone managed to shoot her! Of course, the crime remains unsolved. Kandy, however, bounced right back from her surgery.

Here's Kandy and her litter in their play pen! Three puppies from a father who was probably and Australian Shepherd or Australian Cattle Dog and three from a father who was probably a Chihuaua. I had no idea that dogs could have litters with multiple fathers, but apparently this is quite common. Our Lewis is right up front, sleeping with one paw sticking out of the pen. Mount Pleasant was kind enough to send me these pictures after we sent them our "Happy Tail" and pictures of Lewis with his forever family.
Lewis and Mommy

The beautiful Kandy (now adopted!)

Our baby when he was tiny (about 5.5 weeks)! This is the picture we saw on that brought us to the shelter to meet him!

Lewis and his brother J.J.

Here are the brothers! They looked just like this on the day we met them! What a hard choice. J.J. has been adopted now, though, so we hope he's happy there.

As if abandonment, a gunshot wound, rescue and travel up north weren't enough, Kandy and her puppies all had hookworms, an intestinal parasite named for its nasty hook-like bite. According to Lew's medical records, he was treated on April 18th. On the very same day, he also went through his first round of vaccinations, the microchipping process and he was neutered! And yet, on April 24, 2010, he was a happy, social puppy just waiting to be taken home. We are so grateful to all the people who helped Lew and his family, especially his foster mom, Judy and the shelter! I doubt that our adoption fee even came close to covering all their expenses. The adoption counselor we met with was so kind, and the shelter was so happy to help these dogs. It was a lovely place! We think that must be why Lewis is such a happy, confident little pup. And we thought getting up with him at night, cleaning up after him, making sure he doesn't chew anything he shouldn't, training him and housebreaking him was a lot of work! These jobs seem so small now that we know all about his past.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back! With a new theme...

Dear reader(s),
Forgive me for having been absent so long. I haven't crafted for months and months, and so have not had many adventures in the land of Etsy. I have another adventure in my life, however, that I can write about!
His name is Lewis! This photo of Lew and his favorite toy was taken on my awesome new point-and-shoot camera (something that will definitely come in handy when I do start crafting again) on 4/30 in my living room. We adopted Lewis from Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter in New Jersey ( after seeing his adorable mug on I'll tell our story first, and then tell you his.

My husband and I have always planned on having children. I have always seen a dog as a member of our expanding family, as well. After spending some time with my sister, her newborn baby boy, her three-year-old daughter, her husband and their dog, I learned a few things about babies and time management! The two do not seem to co-exist. My sister told me that if I wanted a puppy, I should get one before I have kids. Their labradoodle Buster was a lot of work, and well worth the effort. What a fantastic dog! But they trained him before their daughter was born. By the time she came along, the dog was well-trained and able to adapt to life with a baby.

When I came home, I discussed the idea with my husband. After a few weeks of careful research into dog/puppy training and learning about breeders and shelters in our area, we decided that adoption was the route for us. We eventually decided to look for a Beagle or Beagle mix, because these dogs are known for being good with kids and seem like the right size for us (not to small, not too big, just right!). My husband wanted to wait until summer, but when we decided to move in August, it seemed that sooner was better than later--let's not move a poor puppy to too many new homes in just a few months! (We decided not to adopt and adult dog for the sake of our cat, although I appreciate that that might sound odd. Dinah the Cat is an extremely important member of our family. At twelve-years-old, she was not going to change her ways for any dog. We read that adult cats adapt to life with puppies pretty well because, well, puppies annoy them but don't try to replace them in the "pack order"!)

We began to look for puppies at, a great website for anyone looking to adopt any kind of animal of any size or age. We submitted an application for a Beagle Mix puppy known as Sea Monkey. He was perfect in every way! He had been born and fostered in a foster home in the country! He had never known life on the street! He would have none of the issues common among shelter dogs! He went to another family.

I was shocked at how hard I took this. Had they rejected us for some reason? Had someone else just gotten there first? What did we do wrong? I wanted to visit a shelter the very next day. I wanted a puppy. I wanted a puppy right now! My husband calmed me down; he always does. He got me to agree to wait two days.

On Saturday, April 24th, we visited two shelters. The SPCA of Westchester County was a wonderful place! The cat house was enormous and full of wonderful places to climb! The dogs had plenty of room and were walked regularly! This was no crowded building with sad animals in cramped cages. This was perfect! Except for one thing--the two puppies we had come to see were at the vet. Kennel cough. We left, slightly encouraged, but also sad. We drove to New Jersey, to the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter, telling ourselves that we would not get our hopes up too high. This was the first day the two Beagle Mix puppies we wanted to meet were available for adoption, but "members" who pay a fee for extended adoption counseling services were going to get first pick. We got there as soon as members of the regular public were allowed in.

Right inside the door, just in front of a tall reception desk, we saw them! Two perfect, adorable, tiny eight-week-old puppies with eyes to melt your heart and full of kisses. Before we knew it, we had one, then the other, then both with us in a quiet room to play with and get to know. Suddenly, a strange and unanticipated possibility arose--we would have to choose between two adorable puppies and leave a sibling behind! Steeling ourselves, we checked out the puppies' interest in people, ability to react to loud sounds (a hand clap, keys dropped on the floor), submissive behavior (would he let us hold him on his back, belly exposed?). One puppy just tested better, as cold as that sounds. We had made our choice. Before we knew it, they had called our landlord, approved our application and had actually given us a puppy! We had a puppy! We couldn't believe it! He was happy and loving, with a waggy tail, floppy ears, a patch over one eye and funny coloring all over--a Beagle mixed with either an Australian Shepherd or an Australian Cattle Dog. He loved being held. He was neutered and microchipped. He was perfect! How had we ever considered another dog? This was clearly meant to be! And he even fit perfectly into the name we both loved--Lewis. After a very long time trying to pick out the perfect equipment at the PetSmart across the parking lot from the shelter (new-parent jitters! was this right for him? what about that? oh we have so many coupons!), we got in the car, Lewis on my lap, and started for home. We were sad to leave Lewis's brother behind, but he was just so cute, we were sure someone would take him home soon. This puppy, this Lewis, was our puppy, and our home was now his home.

(Lewis on his adoptive daddy's lap)