Your Moment of Dog, March 14, 2017

So today at about 9:30, I opened the front door to the expected blizzard. I shoveled a path to the driveway and then quit before I had a heart attack. Yes, it was still snowing, but it’s easier to shovel a foot of snow at a time than it is to shovel four, and this stuff isn’t supposed to stop until eight tonight. We’re getting two to three inches an hour. You do the math.

The dogs do not do math. I went inside, yelled, “Outside!” (their favorite word next to “Cookie!”) and Milton and Mona raced through the door. Continue reading

Wolfgang Smith, A Good Dog and True: 2001-2016

Wolfie

Wolfie was born in a &%^$*&^ puppy mill which is why he had such extreme parrot mouth and looked like a very small, deranged wolf. He was shipped to a pet store where some idiot bought him and then returned him. Then somebody else bought him, and then they gave him to somebody else. I picked him up to take him to Dachshund Rescue as a courier and then refused to hand him over, so I was his fourth owner before he was a year old. We were together for the next fourteen years, through moves to Columbus, two moves in Cincinnati, and one move to New Jersey. He was generally an easy-going dog, aside from the occasional bouts of vamp-face snarling that tapered off as he got older. He had issues. Who doesn’t?

He was the model for Steve in Faking It, and appeared as himself with new puppy Milton in Dogs and Goddesses. I’m sure he’s now chasing squirrels in dog heaven (he always got along with cats), free of the arthritis, blindness, deafness, heart murmur, leg tumor, and other ailments that brought him down in the end.

He is survived by his foster brother, Milton, his foster sisters, Mona and Veronica, and that woman who kept feeding him.

He was a good dog and true, and he will be very much missed.

The Dogs Ate My November

Yes, I know I’ve been lax in posting. November was fraught with dogs.

It began down in SC where Bob and I were working on Wild Ride and my girl Petal turned into Mary Imogen who had a dog named Al, who I discovered in my pictures folders, one of the Chinese Cresteds I’d found in Google Images during the D&G image search. I love this dog:

Al

so I put him in Wild Ride as Al, named after:

Albert

(Check out the matching tongues.) Bob said, “That is one ugly dog,” but I thought Skylar (Al’s real name) was darling so I went back to Google Images to see where I’d found him to see if there were more pictures on that page. And it turned out that he was on a rescue page for Crest Care, the Chinese Crested Rescue group. Yes, folks, Skylar was available for adoption.

I’d explain what I did next, but you already know. My application was processed, my references were checked, and while I waited on the home visit, Bob and I finished the first two scenes in Wild Ride with Al playing a vital role, and sent the proposal off into the black hole that is publishing in November and December.

Then I moved on to Dogs and Goddesses with Lani and Krissie because we came to realize that if we didn’t get a proposal together, it would take us eight years to write the book because we always dropped it for contracted books. So for two weeks we worked on getting the scenes we’d already done into tighter shape and wrote some new ones so that we had a complete first act. Thirty thousand words of scenes, actually. That’s 120 pages. We did it by using the conferencing site, Campfire, and keeping it open all day so that we were virtually in the same room with each other. Occasionally we got a little punch drunk, but we finished that proposal at midnight on the 26th.

I did go home during that two weeks for one Sunday afternoon for Thanksgiving because my brother was cooking and he’s terrific, so we had a classic family dinner with “Please pass the rolls” and “No, not that way,” and while I was there, I happened to mention Al/Skylar, and they printed out his picture. Also in November, Kyra Kirkwood from Dog Fancy magazine called to interview me about the rescue dogs in my novels, and asked me what I was working on now, and I said, “Well, Dogs and Goddesses, and then a book called Wild Ride that has a dog in it I’m in the process of adopting.” And I sent her Al/Skylar’s picture and she loved him, too, and said, “Tell me when you get him.” And in the middle of all this, the generous woman who was supposed to do my home inspection and who had already traveled more than a thousand miles that week for Crest Care, hit a deer on her way, and those of you who are familiar with deer-meets-car accidents know how dangerous that is. She was fine, she said, but I knew from sudden impact accidents of my own that she’d feel horrible for at least a week so I knew it would be awhile longer until Skylar got to Cincinnati. I told Krissie and Lani, who were also waiting to hear about him, and we all said, “Darn,” and Lani said, “Well, send me his measurements when you get him so I can knit him a sweater,” and then we got back to work.

On Monday the 26th, we sent the D&G proposal off to the agents to read and I was settling in to Always Kiss Me Goodnight again when Crest Care e-mailed and said they were ready to re-schedule the home inspection, but that Skylar had been adopted. It was just like in the movies when the background music is playing happily and then you hear the needle scratch across the record. My first reaction was to say bad things, but these are lovely women who rescue dogs, for heaven’s sake; no beating up on good people. They told me they could show me other Chinese Cresteds after I passed the home inspection, but at that point, I was so fixated on Al that I said, “I’ll get back to you.”

So I told my parents, and Kyra at Dog Fancy, and Lani and Krissie, and then I sat on the bed and thought, “Be mature. You want a Chinese Crested, and there are other wonderful dogs out there that need a home.” And then I thought, “No, I wanted Skylar, damn it, he’s in my book.” I know. Sometimes I’m amazed at the four-year-old that is me. While I was sitting there being immature, Wolfie crawled into my lap and said, “Cookie,” or words to that effect (I’ve been writing Dogs and Goddesses a long time), and I picked up my laptop and typed in Dachshund Rescue Ohio” and found the site for the place that had given me Wolfie seven years ago. (The pet rescues are linked under PetFinder.com, so if you’re looking for a particular breed, go there and it will direct you to that breed’s rescue sites.)

And there was Milton.

Milton

So I e-mailed the rescue and sat back to work on Always Kiss Me Goodnight since it was going to be days if not weeks until I’d completed the adoption process, and five minutes later, the coordinator e-mailed me back and gave me the phone number of Kathleen, the woman who ran the rescue. I called her, ready to fill out the application, get my references checked, and wait on the home visit, but she said, “I remember you. You write. You have Wolfgang.” And then she told me about Jake and Abby,and a few of the others, discussing all of their personalities, and I said, “They all sound great, but I think Milton . . .” and she said, “I’ll bring Milton and Oscar and a couple of the others, and we’ll see which one seems right for you. How about day after tomorrow?”

Dachshunds. They’re speed demons.

Then Wednesday didn’t work–it turned out that Milton’s last people hadn’t given him his shots–but on Thursday, Kathleen brought nine dogs out, and my backyard looked like the Sprint commercial which brightened my day considerably. And in the middle of the pack was this little blonde longhaired dachshund who looked frightened, so I picked her up, and Kathleen said her name was Gorgeous, and she and another dog from the same house, Tinkerbell, had just been given up to the rescue by a woman who was dying, in fact she’d just picked them up. So I stood there patting poor trembling Gorgeous and thought, “I don’t need two dogs.” Meanwhile Milton, who is the most cheerful dachshund since the breed began, had stolen my heart. But Gorgeous had her head on my shoulder, and then Kathleen said, “We really don’t want to split up Gorgeous and Tinkerbell . . .

I know, I know. But as Lani pointed out, they’re all under ten pounds so all of them together really make one dog. And Wolfie liked them.

I just adopted three dogs.

So here’s Veronica, formerly Gorgeous, and if you’re an old movie fan you’ll know why it’s Veronica now:

Veronica

But here’s a hint if you’re not:

Veronica Lake

And then Tinkerbell, who I renamed Pink, was too independent to pose but I got her and Milton on the bed, watching the deck door, so here’s a candid:

P & M

I mean, really, which one would you have sent away? Veronica is an English Cream long-haired dachshund, Pink is a piebald dachshund, and Miltie is . . . Miltie. He’s a long-haired dachshund whose hair isn’t all that long, but it doesn’t matter because it’s Miltie. And now I’m thinking maybe Miltie is in Wild Ride. And if I ever do a sequel to Fast Women, Veronica is a shoo-in.

Which brings me to what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving: Petfinder. If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet, please go look there even if you’re sure you don’t want to adopt a rescue. Most of the breeds have puppies available, and the rescue groups have the dogs checked out by a vet and treated for anything that’s wrong, and do any basic training that the dog may have missed from being in a neglectful home. The foster parents can always describe the dog’s personality, what kind of home life he’ll do well in (alone or with other dogs, gets along well with children, quiet or needs a lot of exercise, etc.), and will do everything he or she can to make sure you’re the right fit, something you’re never going to get at Petland. And while everybody wants puppies, older dogs who are already house-broken and through the I’ll-chew-anything stage can be a much better experience for most people. All my dogs have been rescues and every one of them has been an absolute joy, even weird little Wolfie with his overbite and his issues. Especially weird little Wolfie with his overbite and his issues.

So what with Al and Wild Ride and Dogs and Goddesses and Veronica and Pink and Milton, I had a damn good November because the dogs ate it. Go cruise the PetFinder.com site and maybe it’ll happen to you, too.