Maternal Instincts and Play Pens

Because of my experiences with Tuffie we have started fostering animals through our local rescue society.  I wanted to help other “throw away animals” as I had helped Tuffie.  We also started another blog to chronicle the animals we fostered at http://www.fosterliving.com.   We started with a Mother dog and her five pups.  Sugar was the mom and then there was Taffy, Buddy, Precious, Borden, and Bear. 

Despite how wonderfully I saw it playing out in my mind, Tuffie was NOT amused.  He stayed away from those pups and refused to even walk on the floor when they were around.  He did, however, share his blankie with their mom. 

kitties!?!?!?!

Sugar was a very agreeable and tender-hearted chihuahua dachshund mix that stole our hearts immediately.  Tuffie liked her and let her jump on his bed to periodically escape her five yapping pups.  He even let her recline in his fur-lined cat bed.  He’s such a gentleman!

Next were two small kitten sisters Tabitha and Minnie.  Then we come to our current foster, Missy.
 
Missy is the 4-week-old orphan pup of a sweet Chihuahua named Snowie.  Snowie tragically passed three days after her pups were born.  Missy was the only pup in the litter of four to survive.  Go to our foster blog to read the whole story.

Snoozing!

A wonderful thing started to happen though as I bottle fed Missy.  Her little peeps and cries mesmerized Tuffie.  He kept one eye on her at all times.  Once, when I was an hour late coming home to feed her, he had stuck his head into her basket and pushed back her blanket so he could comfort her cries.  We came home to find him gently nuzzling her in encouragement. 

She came to us a mere 4 ounce ball of fur and has grown into an 11.6 ball of fire!  Recently he has become more bold in his attempts to play with her.  He barks and jumps and tries to get her to come over to him to play.  She still isn’t steady on her feet but she follows him as well as she can!  She just adores him. 

I got yer back

When she got a new playpen he sat by the side of it and watched her sleep.  Then he decided he needed to be in it too and jumped in to keep a better eye on her!  So maybe Tuffie has a maternal side after all!  He certainly liked being in that play pen.

It is true that everyone needs help every now and again.  But it is also true that everyone needs to feel useful now and again.  Even a little dog watching over an orphan pup. 

There is a little bit of Tuffie in all of us …….

... better to see you with my dear!

Canned Food & Tuffie Toots

Tuffie is feeling much better now.  The antibiotics fixed him right up!  One thing though, he is still wanting his special canned food even though he’s better.  Usually he goes right back to the dry, which he loves, but he is still begging for the canned.

I talked to the vet and she said that, given his touchy stomach, the canned would be a nice treat for him.  She suggested I give him a generous spoonful each night before bed.  Great idea right?  He gets what he wants and I get a little more nutrition down his gullet – it’s a win-win right? Not really.

See, the canned stuff makes Tuffie …. Toot.  It didn’t last time, but this time, whoa Nelly!  It makes me think about the old saying “He can eat crackers in my bed any time.”  Which of course means this guy is so awesome you can overlook just about anything.  I was watching the new “Next Food Network Star” and Alton Brown said of one contestant (who has a habit of dissolving into tears) “If she keeps cooking like this she can cry as much as she likes.”  Same thing as the cracker comment.  This girls ribs had him sucking his fingers like a toddler.

There are very few people I would excuse for gassiness, Tuffie is of course one of them.  The cracker thing – I don’t know. I have a princess and the pea complex – I simply hate even the tiniest bit of anything on my sheets when I sleep.  If there was a pea between the mattress and the box spring I guarantee I would feel it!

So this is a test of my devotion, isn’t it?  How do you know when you are really in love and committed to someone?  It’s the cracker test, the toot test, and even the dirty socks on the floor test.  How much you will excuse them for is in direct proportion to how much you love them.  When you think about your children you have to admit you let them get away with things you would bust other people for doing.  It’s cause you love them more.

Now, I have to say, my one bad habit is tossing and turning at night.  I roll and flip and tie myself up in my blankets in an effort to cool off and get comfy.  At first Tuffie did not like this – AT ALL.  He would get very annoyed and even growl at me.  But now he takes it in stride and he sleeps right through it most nights.  I think that is a measure of how much he has grown to accept me and my quirks.

So the moment of truth comes when Tuffie bounces around in the kitchen before bed each night waiting expectantly for his spoonful of canned food.  I KNOW he loves it.  I KNOW we are about to go to bed and be in close proximity to each other.  I KNOW it is going to make him toot.  But because I love him he gets his scoop of food.  He gobbles it up, jumps in my arms, and off to bed we go.

Tuffies bankie nest is right by my pillow so I have learned to sleep upside down.

I don’t know about crackers, but he can eat canned food in my bed any time.

There is a little bit of Tuffie in all of us …….

Dead Squirrels & Chicken Fingers

Tuffie has been to the vets again today.  I had him there two days ago as well.  We thought it was his allergies but it turned out to be a stomach and intestinal infection. 

Poor guy has always had a touchy stomach.  It must have been all those tasty dinners of dead birds and garbage he ate when he was abandoned. 

He simply can not eat anything off his diet or he gets sick.  That chicken finger he stole from my plate last night didn’t help I’m sure.  That boy is fast.

When I grilled myself a lovely sirloin steak this morning and Tuffie showed very little interest I knew something was wrong.

The vet gave us a last minute appointment and fixed him up with nausea shot, an antibiotic shot, and a vial of pills to take twice a day for the next week.  Hopefully it works because the vet is going on vacation next week.  They did not check this out with me.  I told his wife next time they had to as this was a very bad time for me.  She just laughed.  Apparently I wasn’t the only person who had told them that this week!

So Tuffie is home now, sleeping in my lap, moaning ever so slightly with each breath he takes.  That boy sure knows how to milk a good illness for all its worth.  He has my heart for sure; I wouldn’t leave his side even if the house burned down around me.  This is my Tuffie Doodle we’re talking about!

My daughter remarked, as she drove us home from the vets, that since she got married three weeks ago I got rid of her medical bills (which were SUBSTANTIAL) but now I have Tuffie.  He seems to be the canine version of my daughter (only with a much better temperament!)

I got to thinking about people we love and our responsibility to take care of them.  When you think about it in this country you can get rid of a child just as easily as a dog.  You can kill it before it is born or sign it away after it is born.  Same thing with a dog.

There was no one holding a gun to my head as I turned that car around July 4th, 2010 to investigate the ragged, filthy, emaciated stray that almost ran in front of my car.  Only my compassion.  Only my humanity.  Only my desire to help all living things and to “do unto others” as we are instructed to.  In my eyes that includes dogs by the side of the road, baby birds that have fallen from a nest, and even worms stranded in puddles.

The care and concern at our home is a two way street though.  Tuffie takes care of me when I am under the weather too.  A few weeks ago when I caught the stomach bug that was going around Tuffie stuck by my side and never left me.  He sensed my need to be comforted too.

Seems I’m not the only one who needs TLC when they are sick.  Tuffie is clinging to me so tightly right now I feel like we are super glued together.  But that’s OK.  Everyone has their moments.  Last week it was his turn, this week it’s mine.  Everyone needs help every now and again.  Even a little dog.

There is a little bit of Tuffie in all of us …….

The Benefit Of The Doubt ….

When we first found Tuffie we thought he was a puppy because of his small size.  Then the vet then told me he was at least five years old.  I was so sad!  Five years of his life were already gone and I would never get to see them.  I wouldn’t see him as a newborn puppy (I bet he was so tiny and cute!) or as a frisky young dog.

I will never fully understand why he does some of the quirky things he does like nucking, sitting pretty, and talking.  I’ll never know why he can’t jump up very high, or even jump down from very high.  His legs are just not strong enough for some reason.

 When we first found him he had not been fixed.  He was at the mercy of some pretty powerful hormones and had been for his entire life.  He growled at us constantly, which is why we named him Tuffie (such a big growl for such a little dog!).  He nipped and snapped at us a lot.  But something in his eyes told me he was more afraid of us than anything.  My daughter promptly labeled him “spoiled” and “grumpy” and “mean.”  He only bit me a few times, but honestly, I think I scared the bejeebers out of him a few times, and I knew he’d had a hard life, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

I stuck with him.  I kept petting him, loving him, talking to him, trusting him, and doing everything in my power to show him I would not harm him.  Little by little he let me in.  Little by little he trusted me.  It took a long time and a lot of patience.  It took many long nights of sleeping with one eye open to make sure I didn’t accidentally roll over on him in the middle of the night and scare him awake.

Now I can reach over any time in the dark of the night and scratch or pet him and he doesn’t blink.  He knows its me, that I’m not going to hurt him, and that I love him.  he isn’t shocked awake and no longer nips my fingers in fear.

He gives me the benefit of the doubt now too.

How many times have I been reeling from circumstances and situations that other people have no idea of and have nipped the people I loved in self-defense?  How many times have I judged someone else in haste who may themselves have been reacting to unknown terrors.

We never know what people have gone through, or are going through, when we encounter them.  Life is harsh enough without us making it harder on each other.  Everyone has days when they need you to see past their behavior and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Even a little stray dog.

There is a little bit of Tuffie in all of us ……

Nuck, Nuck, Nuckin’ on Heaven’s Door

Tuffie is a bankie-holic.  He has needed a bankie for comfort since the day we found him.  In the beginning it was a big soft blankie we refer to as “the fluffy.”  He needed it to cushion his little bones as he slept.  Once he put on some weight we got him one of his own.  This we refer to as simply “Bankie.”  He comforts himself by burrowing deep under bankie and hiding.  He also nucks.

What is nucking you ask?  Nucking is a combination of nibbling and sucking, therefore we combined the two words into one: nucking.  When does Tuffie nuck?  When he is excited, when he is anxious, or even when he is feeling protective.  Some times he “guards” me by putting his back to me and pointing himself at the door.  Then he sits there frozen, staring at it to make sure no one comes in to kill me.  It is all quite comical really.

It would be down right funny if it weren’t for the fact that nucking results in wet blankets.  So if he strays from Bankie or The Fluffy, well, I end up with a wet blanket on my bed.  Not cool.

Many a night I have gone to bed only to roll over on a cold, wet, damp spot on my blanket that jolts me back to consciousness.  I glare at Tuffie but he acts very innocent and usually starts to nuck on his bankie to try to prove he didn’t do it.

He tries to act so big and tough, hence the name Tuffie, but underneath he is just a big, snarling, bankie sucking, nuckaholic.  He tries to keep up the pretense all the same.

My soft hearted little nuckster.  My little nuckasaurus.  My little nucker bunny.  Tough on the outside, soft and needy on the inside.

There is a little bit of Tuffie in all of us ………..

Thunder, Brain Hunters, & Hail

Tuffie does NOT like thunder.  I suppose it is because he used to live outside and had to find shelter when it rained. 

Watching a raging storm from the comfort of your couch out your picture window is nice.  Watching a raging storm from under a porch in the middle of it all is not.

About a week ago it rained really hard.  The heavy, pelting, thunder backed kind of rain that makes you tired just listening to it.  I was sitting on my bed doing some computer work when a particularly violent thunder boom rocked the house.  Suddenly there was a dog landing in my lap as if he dropped from the ceiling.  It was Tuffie.

He was shaking so hard he almost vibrated off my lap.  I felt sad for him as I pondered how many rain storms he had to weather cowering under a bush or tree without the comfort of someone’s lap to jump into.  I hugged him hard.  I had to wrap his bankie around him and hold him tight before he started to calm down.  But he eventually did.

Then it struck me.  This little dog was scared out of his wits and who did he turn to?  Me.  He trusted me to protect him.  He saw me as someone strong enough to keep him from harm.  I was so honored.  I hugged him even closer.

Yesterday we were all watching a movie.  I had Tuffie in a blanket on my lap.  Now, I can’t watch scary movies.  They give me nightmares.  If they are bad enough they will give me daymares.  We had accidentally rented a movie that I did not realize was very, very scary.  Just a few scenes into it and I was covering my eyes and begging my teenaged son to turn it off.  He assured me that the worst was over and insisted I watch it all.  Dope that I am I believed him.

In essence the movie was about a bunch of aliens that come down to Earth and harvest everyone to get their brains.  I watched person after person have their skull cracked open like a coconut so that their brain could be yanked out, spinal cord and all.  I was terrified.  Yes I realize it was just a movie and the aliens aren’t real.  Don’t judge me.  You don’t know me!

Anyway, during one particularly bloody scene I covered my eyes and began to whine like an injured pup.  Tuffie, oblivious to the fact that the aliens were even taking dogs and cats, not just humans, was unaffected by it all.  But when I began to whine he looked up at me and licked my nose.  He leaned into me and tried to see under the hand I had covering my eyes.  He tried to make eye contact with me to tell me everything would be OK. 

Not only did he see me as someone who could protect him, but he also saw me as someone he didn’t want to see hurt either.  What an awesome dog.  He cared that I was scared.  After the nose lick I looked at him and I swear he smiled.  It was his way of telling me things would be OK.  I hugged him real hard and held him close.  Tuffie isn’t usually the PDA type but he let me hold him as long as I needed to.

We have an awesome give and take going on.  He is finally trusting me.  I am honored that I have earned his trust.

So yesterday we had a hail storm.  They started out the size of golf balls and ended up the size of baseballs.  Once again the house was shaken, this time by ice bombs pounding the roof.  Once again, a dog landed in my lap as if he dropped from the ceiling.  This time he brought his bankie with him.

I laughed and hugged him close.  We have an awesome give and take, Tuffie and I.  We take care of each other, comfort each other, and trust each other.  I hugged him through the storm again, all the while telling him it would be OK.  I mean, it wasn’t like someone was coming to suck our brains out.  It was just hail!

In this world it is important to have someone you trust.  Someone you feel safe with.  Someone you know has got your back.  Even if you are a little dog who has had a hard lot in life.  Even if you are a grumpy old lady like me.

Theres a little bit of Tuffie in all of us ……….

John Tesh & Dirty Socks

I was listening to John Tesh on the radio the other day.  He claims that having a dog can bring you and your husband closer together.  Something about petting the dog raises your dopamine level and puts you in a better mood.  So, apparently, when you see your husband’s socks on the floor you care much less.

 Luckily for my husband we have four dogs.  Around here I need to scratch them a lot. 

 I must admit that I don’t feel closer to my husband when I spend time with my dogs.  But I do feel closer to … my dogs.  The positive effects of owning dogs is supposed to spill over into your marriage, but the only thing I feel better about is, well, owning dogs.

 Recently my mother visited and I again extended the olive branch and asked her to move in so I could take care of her.  Her answer?  I would dear, but to be honest, I just don’t think I can take your dogs.  I am still amazed.  How can someone not like those little bundles of furry love?  Next thing you’ll tell me you don’t like my cat. 

 Some people. Eh, her loss.

 What is better than waking up in the morning and rolling over to see two wet eyes excitedly staring back eager to bound out of bed and start the day with you?  Around here those wet eyes belong to Tuffie, not my husband.

 So I scratch Tuffie and I feel closer to him.  This morning I hickuped (as I often do first thing in the morning) and he smiled back at me and promptly burped in my face.  You gotta love a sense of humor like that.

 I mean, dopamine levels not withstanding, you can tell who you are feeling closer to just by the number of pet names you have for them. I don’t have any pet names for my husband but I have a whole list of names for Tuffie.  Most of the time I call him Tuff Tuff but at other times:

 When I am looking for him I say, “Where is my Tuffasaurus?”

 When he is in a bad mood I say, “Little mister Tuffitude” (as in attitude)

 Other times he is my Tufflebug, Tufflewump, or Tuffmeister.

 When he does something stupid (like run into a wall) I call him Tufftard.  Yes, he runs into walls quite a bit.

 He is also Tuffaligum, Tufflemunch (as in crunch and munch the tasty caramel popcorn snack!) and Tufflemuff.

 My husband I just call Darryl.  And I usually say it with a slight attitude. 

 So, with all due respect to John Tesh, I don’t quite agree that I like my husband any more because of my dogs.  I will admit that having Tuffie distracts me enough so that I don’t notice my husbands socks on the floor or his dirty bathroom.  But eventually I have to clean the bathroom and pick up his socks, so the effects are temporary at best.

 I can agree though that my husband is lucky I found Tuffie.  I’m so busy petting him I have less time to care about the whereabouts of my husbands socks.  Maybe John does have has a small point.  Finding someone you enjoy having around can make the tougher parts of your life more bearable.  You may not like your situation any more than usual, or the people in your situation, but you can tolerate it all more easily.

 In the end, I’m glad I have Tuffie to scratch, to pet, and to call silly little pet names (pun intended).  I think Tuffie is too.  We all need stress relief, even a little dog.

 Theres a little bit of Tuffie in all of us ……….

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