Charley Girl

It’s taken me a few weeks to post our latest big announcement: we adopted a new member of the family!  These past few weeks have gone by both slowly and quickly at the same time and our days have been filled up like never before. I didn’t grow up living with a dog and let me just say, it really does change everything. Instead of relaxing in front of the TV for the evening, we’re at the dog park or walking around the neighborhood. Instead of having a few hours to myself to practice calligraphy, sew, or write a blog post, I’m figuring out how to make sure the animals are getting along and experimenting with clicker training.

When Jackie first told me that she really wanted to start looking at dogs, my mind first went to “we don’t have room in our little apartment” and “how will he/she get along with the cats?” but honestly, I think the biggest change has been the number of hours that I’m awake each day. I secretly love it. Thanks to daylight savings time, we get to see the sunrise every morning on our walk/run to the ocean. The neighborhood is quiet, the air feels fresh and dewy and coffee always tastes the best at this hour. Prior to adopting Charley, you couldn’t pay me to get out of bed before 7am! Now, our walks in the mornings are one of my favorite times of the day.

Let’s rewind a bit: we adopted Charley on October 31 from the South LA Shelter, ending a 2-month long search for the “perfect” pup. The shelter wasn’t able to tell us much about her. All we know is that she was a stray and she fit everything we were looking for: medium sized dog with short hair, energy to run, but most importantly, a calm and sweet disposition with no prey drive (not to mention the cutest smile!). We had gone to endless numbers of adoption events and meet ups with foster families but surprisingly nothing was working out for us. Turns out we just hadn’t met Charley yet. Since we don’t know much about the first 10 months of her life, I’ve gone through a number of stories in my mind. We know that she wasn’t spayed or micro-chipped when she was found which leads me to believe that she truly had a life on the streets (you can’t register your dog in LA without getting them neutered or spayed). However, she doesn’t have a lot of scars and she’s so sweet, gentle and submissive with other humans and animals. Don’t you think a dog who was fending for herself on the streets would be a little more…aggressive? So here’s my theory so far: Charley grew up with a kind homeless person (or family) who just couldn’t take care of her anymore. Seems logical to me! If only animals could talk…

Adopting from the shelter definitely came with its ups and downs. The South LA Shelter is one of LA’s high kill shelters, so we feel great about getting her out of there. But after her spay surgery, she was not in good shape. Our first few hours together involved me cleaning up a LOT of dog puke. She was so sad and sick as she was coming off her anesthesia that we ended up taking her back to the hospital to get an IV for liquids and  medication because she couldn’t keep anything down otherwise. To add to that sting, she also was at risk for developing pneumonia and  had a little bit of a kennel cough, which would have been nice to know from the shelter but they probably couldn’t be bothered to even notice. In 24 hours, our new pup had racked up more medical bills than me in 10 years. She’s on antibiotics for the pneumonia (and already has needed another dose of flea/tick/heart-worm treatment and some pills to kill worms) BUT I think we have turned the corner and we are getting this pup back to perfect health.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that shelter dogs are prone to developing separation anxiety. It makes 100% sense that they would be scared to be abandoned again and Charley is no exception.  She doesn’t mind being in her crate, but she whines, cries, and barks every time we leave. Jackie has been doing her homework and reading up on all the tips and tricks for teaching your dog to be comfortable alone but it’s not going to be an easy journey. Dealing with this condition makes obedience training seem like a breeze! If anyone has any secrets to share (for instance, a few people have recommended trying this in her water), we’re open to try anything.

As I wrap this up, it’s now clear to me why I haven’t had the chance to write this post in two whole weeks. There is just so much to say! Animals are the best. Once one (or in my case, a few!) pulls you in, there’s no turning back…we have a full house now, but I like it that way. Many more stories to come!

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