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Mole-Hunting Season at the Farnival

3way play(Rosie, Adriana, and Meadow)

I’ll admit, when I first started finding dead moles, I blamed my feline posse because, normally, my cats are the ones responsible for the critter carcasses I find in the basement, bathroom, and kitchen, on the deck, the front porch, and scattered around the yard. Not this time.

A week or so ago, on a sunny, warm afternoon, I was working in my office, when I looked out the window and saw Adriana in the backyard, digging in a pretty decent-sized hole. Suddenly, she leapt back, ears flying up and then dove in again, gleefully kicking up dirt.

When she came out, she was clutching a rat-looking animal in her snout. Rosie and Meadow saw it too, but they were already in the mosh pit, and they charged at Ade, who bounded through the air like she won a million-dollar lottery.

By the time I got outside, a hardcore game of smear the mole-holder was going down, and Rosie had it. It changed possession several times, taking me a good five to seven minutes to corral them, but by then, the mole was already dead and the game was winding down. I busted them red-handed.

The reason I’m writing about moles is because until my dogs started hunting and killing them, I’d never seen one up close and personal. Have you? They are extraordinarily ugly creatures. They don’t have eyes, and their noses look slightly phallic. Right? I don’t even know what to say about those hands. I found this one in my yard:


A Farnival Update

Hi y’all. Sorry about the slow content. but I warned you: when I’m working with the NHRA, it tends to absorb my entire life. And it doesn’t help that I love drag racing either.

But there’s also another reason I’ve also been slow at posting; I’ve been writing a book review for a literary magazine! If that’s sounds terrifying to you, believe me, it intimidates the poop out of me, so I’ve been working my butt off on it.

The book I’m reviewing, A Tabby-cat’s Tale, is a hilarious novella about a cat living in Nanjing, China with some very eccentric habits, but underneath all the laughter is a fascinating commentary about communicating outside the conventions of language. An author by the name of Han Dong wrote it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anyway…I appreciate your patience. I promise in a month things will be back to normal. Over the next four weeks, the NHRA will be racing in Charlotte, Dallas, St. Louis, and Reading, PA. Mace and I will be stopping at the Farnival to love on our pack for a few days in between each city, but we won’t be around much.

Luckily, I get to take Meadow and Adriana to both Charlotte and St. Louis, leaving the three older pack members to watch over the Farnival while they learn Spanish from their kick-ass bilingual sitter, Lino Chavez. Our foster dog, Mellie, will be staying with another ICHBA foster family – Thanks, Miss Judy.

Here’s Meadow shaking off after getting a bath for her big trip to the racetrack in North Carolina this weekend:





Don’t forget: ICHBA’s 5K Walk/Run is this Saturday in Springfield, TN 🙂

Adriana Runs Away on the Fort Campbell Military Base

DSC_0282(Meadow and Adriana a.k.a. Ade)

On Friday evening, Mace and I took our eleven-week-old puppy Adriana to the Fort Campbell Military Base. We were having dinner with the goofiest hound dog we ever fostered, Silvio Dante, and his family.

Silvio’s parents invited a few neighbors. In total, seven humans feasted on fried green tomatoes and garbage bread while six dogs, including Meadow and Adriana, wrestled in a shared rectangular yard. The yard was the length a football field and wedged in between rows of military housing.

By far, Adriana a.k.a Ade was the smallest dog in the group. On occasion, a four-month-old Great Dane got too frisky. He’d chomped on Ade’s head like it was as a squeaky toy. Predictably, she’d squeak, then dash under the picnic table. Ade never seemed fearful or timid. Instead, she wore a delighted expression, as though she loved every second of being around new friends.

Towards the end of dinner, Silvio’s mom announced she was doing the ALS challenge. Her husband filled the bucket with ice and water. Patrick had just finished his first round of special operation’s training. He was tired and sore, but he seemed good-natured about almost everything from setting the picnic table to throwing a bucket of ice water over his wife.

We all stood around the patio, dogs included, and watched Patrick dump the frigid water over his wife’s head. She squealed when the water hit her skin. We laughed. But when the bucket,  hit the concrete patio, it sounded like an explosion. Adriana immediately bolted, floppy little ears waving behind her.

At first, Ade’s disappearance didn’t seem real, and for ten full seconds I watched her silhouette recede in stunned silence. Patrick acted first and darted after her with bare feet covered in blisters. Soon, they were both out of sight. After five minutes passed, Mason grabbed the car keys and headed in the same direction as Patrick. When ten more minutes went by, and nobody returned, I realized that Adriana had run away  on the Fort Campbell Military Base, home of the 101st Airborne Division.

Dusk came and went. There were sightings of Adriana. Military families, playing in yards or playgrounds, informed us about a fleeing white puppy. Somebody said she sprinted towards Gate 3. Another saw her by the Inspector General’s office or Mahaffey Middle School.

We had plenty of help. As dark neared, soldiers pulled out spotlights and headlamps and drove or walked around Stryker Village. Wives posted Adriana’s picture on Facebook. A few other folks went door to door, letting neighbors know an eleven-week-old puppy was missing on base.

At one point, tired, defeated, and scared, I marched into the Military Police office and demanded they help me. If they could find Osama bin Laden, then they could damn well find a puppy. By the end of the evening, an empathetic MP drove around Stryker Village with his floodlights blazing.

Late that night, Mason and I drove the thirty-three miles back to the Farnival in complete silence. In the distance we saw flashes of lightning and heard rumbles of thunder.

 The Next Day

The registration gate opened at 5 AM. Mace and I were waiting in the parking lot. The storm’s edge still lingered over Fort Campbell, and the rain fell in a steady drizzle.

On that dark, soggy morning, Mace and I brought the rest of our pack because we hoped Adriana would smell their scent. Wearing raincoats and headlamps, we started walking. The five of us looked everywhere she had been sighted, plus places we couldn’t see the night before. We searched pavilions, office trailers, bushes, ditches, drain pipes, athletic fields, bleachers, and deserted sheds. We trekked near the outermost barbed-wire fencing.

The sky lightened. The rain stopped. Our sneakers and shins were soaked and covered in grass clippings and mud. The same soldiers and army wives who had searched the night before texted. They wanted to know how they could help.

After two long hours of searching, I heard the distinct sound Ade’s ID tag made when it clinked against her collar. For a second, I doubted I really heard the sound and wondered if I imagined it because I’d been desperate to hear it for hours. Then I saw her little white shape bouncing down the sidewalk. Ade didn’t greet us but simply moved into line with her pack, acting as though she hadn’t been missing for fifteen hours. Besides her paws, she was surprisingly dry, unscathed. She didn’t even look like she needed a bath. It wouldn’t have mattered if she did. All that mattered was we found our puppy.

On our way home, we stopped by the MP’s office and let them know we found Ade. The officer, a large black man with a quick grin said, “I’ll let the President know we can call off the choppers.”

(I want to give a shout out to all the soldiers and military families on the Fort Campbell Military Base who helped us search for Adriana. Thank you so much.)


I Don’t Like by Geoff Reed

About a year ago, Melissa and I met at a tutor-training session for the Nashville Adult Literacy Council. Our first exercise was to communicate as much as possible about ourselves to a partner in 2 minutes without either person saying or writing a word.

Melissa went first and started drawing pictures on a piece of paper and pointing to various tattoos on her body. After two minutes, the teacher asked me what I learned about her. I said she had a five- year- old daughter named Lucy.

Wrong. It turned out she had five dogs, and Lucy was a beloved, deceased German shepherd whose dog tag she had tattooed on her forearm. I had two rescue dogs at home that were a handful, and I couldn’t imagine what her life was like. We became fast friends and have remained so ever since.

Currently, I’m tutoring my second learner, a South-Korean young man we nicknamed “Lenny.” Lenny lives with his 2 younger brothers and parents, who run a successful dry cleaning business. He is quite the fashionisto, always decked out in some name-brand skinny jeans, expensive T- shirt and Nikes.

I’ve been meeting him twice a week for about 3 months, and he’s a challenge, to say the least. His English language skills are slowly improving, but his favorite expression is “I don’t like” to whatever topic I bring up. So far, I’ve discovered that his few interests in America, besides wearing stylish clothes, include Taylor Swift, Coca Cola, Marlboros and action movies. He’s obviously not thrilled with me, or his new life in Nashville, and although he’s always polite and cordial, he rarely smiles.

Sometimes, Melissa joins Lenny and I for a little conversation, and like me, she tries to get him to open up but has little success. I had learned early in our friendship that no topic is off limits to Melissa, and a while back the subject of Koreans enjoying the delicacy of young dogs came up.

“Is it true?” she asked. “Or is it just an urban legend, Lenny?”

“Yes, it’s true. I ate dog.” he answered. “But I don’t like.”

About a week after our dog-eating conversation, Melissa brought Meadow and 2 of the Magic 8 puppies to meet her own student Elena at a park across the street from the literacy school. Elena is a sweet Mexican woman who serves up platters of tacos, burritos and fajitas to hungry patrons at a hole-in-the wall joint on Charlotte Avenue that Melissa and I visit on occasion. Elena’s kids had wanted to see the puppies, and so they had gathered under a park pavilion for an English lesson, while the kids played with the dogs.

When I was leaving the Cohn School with Lenny, I called him to come over and chat with Melissa and Elena. He trudged across the grass with his head down, his Abercrombie and Fitch baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, wearing his trademark frown, trying not to get his white Nikes dirty.

It was crazy to watch, but within minutes, Meadow and the puppies worked their magical dog powers, and Lenny took off his hat,  kneeled on the ground and high-fived Meadow with the biggest toothy grin I had ever seen on his face.

“They’re up for adoption, Lenny,” I kidded him about the puppies, then glanced at Melissa, knowing by the look on her face she was remembering the dog as entrée story. “But there is NO WAY you are getting one!” I added.

We all laughed, even Elena, who liked Lenny, but thought eating raw fish was bad enough, so she really didn’t understand eating canine. Even though Lenny’s English skills are shaky, I think he got it that we were busting him because he laughed as hard as the rest of us.

Watching Lenny laugh, I realized that with the magical help of dogs, my student just might have turned the corner. Maybe we had finally found something he did like.

Lenny and Meadow(Lenny and Meadow)

photo-17(Lenny and Meadow)

Cody and Megan Garcia(Megan and Cody Garcia holding Livia and Adriana)

Upcoming ICHBA Events

DSC_0407(Adriana La Cerva, ICHBA foster dog)

I Could Have Been Adopted (ICHBA) has two events planned that I wanted to share with everybody. Next weekend, Donna, Meadow, Sara, Floyd, The Magic 8, and I are going to Camp T.A.G. (Teaching About Grief), which is a 4-day, 3-night grief camp for children between the ages of seven and sixteen who have lost a loved one. During their time at camp, grief counselors teach children how to deal with their feelings during the grieving process. And word on the street is that dogs can play a miraculous role in this process, so we are very excited to participate.

Our second event is our annual fundraising event, which is the “5K Run/Walk for the Cause” in Springfield, TN happening on Sept. 13th starting at 8:30 AM, so if anyone out there happens to be in the area that weekend, please come and join us. Click here for the entry form and details.

Silvio Dante: Update Two


I haven’t written a lot about Silvio Dante a.k.a Sil because to be honest, he’s not the most interesting fellow around. Besides his cartoonish looks and goofy mannerisms, he doesn’t exhibit a lot of personality. I admit all this with affection and gratitude, because even though he’s only eight months old, he’s been an abnormally easy foster dog, which leads me to believe he’ll act the same in his new home. I have high hopes for his future.

His biggest fault is a nipping “tic” that he does when he sees strange dogs on the greenway. It’s not an aggressive bite, but nonetheless, it’s a terrible way to make new friends. Besides, it could be dangerous; Sil’s a decent-sized dog, almost sixty pounds, and Mason’s shin has gotten nicked a few times trying to correct his behavior. The problem is that Sil doesn’t growl or bark or show any physical sign of anger or fear before he nips, but walks with his drooping face in it’s hallmark mope right up to the strange dog, then he’ll clamp on to his new friend’s paw or tail. It’s really weird, and probably all goes back to lack of socialization during his early formative weeks. After all, he spent the first eight months of his life alone in a kennel. Mace and I act calm, correct his behavior, and move forward, hoping with enough exposure to stimuli under positive circumstances, he’ll start to understand his behavior is unacceptable or pointless.

When we’re back home at the Farnival, Sil rarely shows emotion, only getting excited when he’s wrestling with his buddies Thelma and Meadow in the backyard, which Mace and I have started calling “the mosh pit.” Watching the three medium-sized dogs wrestle, there’s no doubt that Sil is low man in the pack, but he takes his rank in stride, seemingly happy just to flounce around on his paddle-paws, trying to keep up with everybody’s favorite playmate, Meadow. Meadow’s nickname has become “my girl,” because anyone – human or animal – who meets her loves her and wants to claim her as their own. Nancy and Mason will even verbally spar over who gets to hold her leash when we all walk together.

On Tuesday night, I had planned on taking Silvio for an introduction, but couldn’t go because spring allergies besieged me, and I sat in bed, listening to The Sopranos with a washcloth over my eyes and tissues plugging both nostrils, as my sinuses drained like busted water pipes. It was not attractive. I finally relented yesterday, went to a doctor, and he put me on a steroid spray. Good luck to me.

Thankfully, Mason was home this week and took Silvio for his introduction to his potentially new family at the Sudden Service gas station five miles down the road. Mason reported that they were a young couple; the husband works for the military, and the wife runs the household. They saw Silvio’s picture on Petfinders.com and fell in love. The only problem is that they won’t be assigned their new home on the Fort Campbell Military Base for three weeks, and until then they are camped out in a hotel.

By all accounts, the introduction was a success, and the family plans to adopt Silvio as soon as they get their new digs. I wish I could have been there because the couple explained to Mason the restrictions concerning dogs living on a military base, and the few rules that my husband remembered were vague but interesting, like how Great Pyrenees (!!), Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls weren’t allowed anywhere on the perimeter, and all pets had to be micro-chipped. I’d love to know more. If anyone out there has a military friend with a dog, please have them write to us here at thefarnival@gmail.com.