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Dog Days

This has not been a good week thus far in our house, and I’m really hoping that status improves in the very near future! What happened, you ask? Well, remember, you asked (meaning, if you continue reading from here, you wanted to know)!

On Monday, school restarted. This, in itself, does not constitute a bad thing. I actually like school. (Wherever she is, I swear I just heard my mom choke on that one.) I like my teachers and my classmates, and I miss the ones that have left the program, although I understand their various reasons. No, school itself is not the problem. The problem is in juggling the workload, which seems to have doubled this quarter. Not really unexpected, as the further you go in anything, the more complicated it’s going to get, like transportation. First you crawl, then walk, then run. Then it gets more complicated: the tricycle. Now you have to pedal, and learn how to use your handlebars to turn. But you have three wheels, so you’re still level. As you move forward, it’s a bicycle. You may have training wheels, but you’re not as level as you were because those wheels are pretty tiny, so now you have to lean into the turn a bit, and learn to use your pedals as brakes. Your next bicycle has hand brakes. Next, the most complicated, is learning to drive. Now, you have a steering wheel, foot brakes, a gas pedal, mirrors, a lot more speed, and a lot of other cars around you. There’s a lot more to juggle, but you like the idea of getting from home to point A in less than the hour it took you on your bike, so you learn it. Well, school is kind of the same way. Unfortunately, I haven’t found my groove yet. I’ve got more work, but no additional hours in which to do it, and still have two kids, four dogs, a husband, and a house to keep clean. Looked at right now, it seems like I’m never going to find that groove. Maybe later in the quarter, it’ll click for me, and I hope that “later” comes soon! So: 20 or so pages of homework, most of which is due tomorrow. I am slowly slogging through it.

We got a blizzard warning on Monday afternoon, initially set to expire at 6 pm, indicating high winds and a ton of snow. We got the high winds, oh, yes, we did. We walked around the house, looking sideways at walls, windows, and doors as the wind quite literally howled around the house, hoping that we weren’t going to re-enact the story of the three pigs.

At about midnight, the dogs decided that they really wanted to go outside, so we let them, lest they perform their business indoors. They never go immediately to that chore. They have to play a bit first, so we generally give them about a half hour before bringing them in again, no more than that, especially if it’s cold. And when I went upstairs to bring them in, only Bandit, our normal Houdini-like escape artist, answered my call. The other three were gone. The wind had blown the gate in, and they took advantage of this unexpected largesse to go exploring.

We got almost nothing in the way of snow, so there were no pawprints to tell us what direction they had taken, we had no way of knowing how long they’d been gone, and there was no movement in the streets immediately closest to us that might have been a dog. I drove around the neighborhood for a bit looking for them, then went home and let my husband take over. My vehicle is very top heavy, where his is not, and his is also a four-by-four with every bell and whistle he could stick in it, including a PA system that allows him to call the dogs without freezing to death. I’m quite certain the people living in the neighborhood are not very fond of him right now, as he drove around until four in the morning, calling them with no success.

Without either dogs or husband in the house, I knew I wasn’t going to sleep, although for some reason he thought I would. But the dogs are as much my children as my children, just furrier! So I knew I wouldn’t sleep until everyone was safely home, and I was counting on them showing up with him. They didn’t. Full-blown panic ensued. With the Sibe, I only had to worry about him getting hit by a car, which is bad enough, but no matter how cold it gets here, it will never get as cold as it does in Alaska, and he’s bred to handle those temperatures. He wasn’t going to freeze to death, but for Smoky and Mac, the Lab mix and the Shepherd mix, they have short hair and significantly less undercoat, so freezing, at least in my mind, was a good possibility. I wasn’t going anywhere until my babies were safely home. Period. This caused some tension when I didn’t go to school on Tuesday morning. It bothered me too, since it was the first day of the one class that I had failed and am now repeating, Introduction to Veterinary Technology, but the furballs are more important to me. I managed, heroically, not to rip off my husband’s head when I overheard him muttering about how females fall apart in an emergency. I think I deserve a medal for not skewering him on the spot.

I spent Tuesday contacting the microchip company and filling out lost reports there, then made a trip to the Humane Society to search for them there. The lady at the information desk let me know that dozens of pets ran off on Monday night. The wind had taken down a lot more fences than just ours. Three people had already been in that morning and been reunited with their pets. I chose to take that as a good sign, and didn’t ask about the dozens of others.

The dogs weren’t there, and I fell apart right there in the lobby, although I managed not to flat out bawl until I was in my car. I went back to my neighborhood and resumed cruising the streets, talking to everyone I saw, including the UPS driver and a mailman, my reasoning being that if they were running the streets, these would be the people most likely to see them. Then I went back home to the computer, and lo and behold, Thor’s picture had just shown up on the Humane Society website as a stray. Back to the car with a big smile on my face, and drove back to the Humane Society while trying to restrain myself from speeding and weaving in an out of traffic like the leadfoot I have been since I learned to drive as a teenager. (No, I have never gotten a speeding ticket, and I don’t plan on breaking that record anytime soon. I’m a mommy now, so I stick mostly to the speed limit, although the term is sort of fluid to me. If the sign says 45, my brain says 50.)

Before doing the reclaim on Thor, an employee escorted me through the non-public areas to see if either Smoky or Mac had turned up also. They hadn’t, but the tour took me to the kennel Thor was in, and we were ecstatic to see each other, although he was less than enthused when I didn’t immediately get him out of his kennel to go home. In fact, if his mouth was capable of forming words, I’m pretty certain we could say I got cussed out for leaving him there.

I was told I had to see an officer before filling out the reclaim form for Thor, so that I could be issued a summons. I was stunned, as I hadn’t done anything wrong. The wind blowing down the fence falls into the category of “act of God”, I thought, thereby relieving me of fault. So I got a $50 ticket for letting my dog run without a leash. Apparently, the animal control officers had the brilliant idea of chasing a Siberian Husky in order to catch him, meaning it took them nearly three hours to do so. I think that’s why I was cited, personally.

After dutifully taking my summons, I proceeded to wait in the lobby for the next person available to process Thor’s paperwork. There was another lady there, and we struck up a conversation. It eventually came out that she was there to turn in two “German Shepherd dogs”, a male and a female, and mentioned that she had picked them up at an intersection fairly close to my neighborhood. I froze. Smoky has been mistaken for a GSD before, because her ears are erect, rather than floppy like Labrador ears usually are. I asked if one was dark, and she said it was black, which is something else  people say about Smoky until they see her next to her sister, who actually is black. I asked if I could see them, she said sure, and sure enough, it was my remaining pair of dogs!!

Needless to say, I was ecstatic. All my pups were back with me and going home. I called the hubby and let him know I had all of them, loaded them up and got them home, where Smoky promptly horka’d all over the living room carpet. Not pretty. Since then, she has refused all food, vomited a bit more, and is now curled up on the sofa, even refusing boiled chicken, which means we now need to make a trip to the vet if things are no better tomorrow. Please, please, let this week improve!!


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