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We’re Back….and still sniffing paws.

(Adriana and Melissa)

Hello there! It’s been almost three years since I’ve posted any updates. At that time, I thought I’d never return to blogging, but I miss all you freaks too much. And I miss writing about dogs! With that said, I have to admit the highlight of the last three years is my budding relationship with a three-legged goat who lives in Seattle, WA. I can’t wait to introduce y’all to Rosebud.

A lot has changed, which I plan on updating you about starting around the end of summer. The one thing that hasn’t changed is my penchant for smelling my dogs’ paws. Have you tried it yet? Like I said before, you’ll never want to live without that scent again.

Adriana + Frida = Best Buds

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DSC_0035(Adriana trying to win over Frida)

For the majority of Frida’s fourteen months on this earth, she lived outside in a kennel, like an animal at a petting zoo that no one wanted to see or touch. She didn’t have a name because nobody gave her one.

Eventually, Frida, a thirty pound chow-mix, grew bored with her confinement and dug out of her pen, running loose in a rural agrarian town on the Tennessee-Kentucky border, staying close to the only home she had ever known.

You’ve met Frida’s family on this blog before. They are the same people that abused and neglected Buddy, the dog without a tail. Click here for a refresher. Since January, ICHBA has rescued four dogs from this family’s property, all littermates, and we’ve managed to have the mother fixed.

Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do to prevent this family from taking in another animal. So, the cycle will continue. I promise.

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On Frida’s first afternoon at the Farnival, she crawled under Mason’s broken down Honda Accord station wagon – parked in the fenced backyard – and wouldn’t come out, even when we kneeled on the gravel drive and tried coaxing her with a tasty morsel of grass-fed ground beef.

Over the next couple hours, most of our pack ignored Frida, keeping a wide berth, barely investigating the wagon or the area around it.

But Frida’s aloof behavior didn’t faze Adriana, our three-month-old puppy, because the moment Ade spotted Frida, she scurried under the wagon, snatched a lick and a sniff, then charged back out, floppy ears flapping every which way, as though she thought Frida would chase her.

Instead, Frida returned Ade’s affection with a nasty snarl. Ade cocked her head, paused, then, undeterred, scampered back under the car. Each time she visited Frida, she stayed a little longer until finally I got tired of standing in the ninety-plus degree heat and went inside to work.

From my office, I have a clear view of the wagon and after twenty minutes, when neither dog popped out their head, I checked on them.

They were still under the car, side-by-side, Frida peering out with an anxious, bewildered expression, which was in stark and almost comical opposition to Ade’s happy little face, pink tongue hanging out, tiny nose covered in dust from a hole she was digging. It struck me that Frida has never known anything but hardship, and Ade has never known anything but love.

It took a few hours, but eventually Ade managed to lure Frida out from under the Honda.

Now, they’re inseparable.

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Thelma Update Three: Saying Goodbye

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Of course it has to rain on the morning Thelma’s leaving the Farnival. It’s Sunday, May 25th, and Donna and I are taking the big galoot to her new family’s home sometime this afternoon. If I remember correctly, it was pouring when Bentley left too. Is this a thing?

Thirty minutes ago, as the sun started to lighten behind a layer of gray clouds, I watched through my office window as Thelma, Meadow, and Silvio raced laps around the backyard a.k.a the mosh pit, chasing each other, kicking up red clumps of dirt in a steady downpour.

For whatever reason, one or the other (mostly Meadow) would suddenly stop and sprint towards the center of the now muddy pit. The others shortly followed, and then all three would start smacking down, gleefully biting, lunging, and chewing on each other. Thunder boomed distantly but none of the dogs seemed to care, or maybe it stoked their excitement, egging on their games. On most days, I would have marched down the stairs and marshaled them into the basement for their morning wrestling match. But this morning, I couldn’t do it.

Of course, right now, I’m paying the consequences because three fifty-plus pound wet dogs are surrounding my desk, stinking up the whole house. The smell was so bad before I had toweled them off that Miss Annie started yipping, probably telling those stinky mutts to get out of her space.

I could give them baths, but my intuition tells me in another twenty minutes they’ll be at it again. Besides, I want to wait so that Thelma will be clean when I take her home.

If you just started reading this blog, Thelma, a drooling black lab mutt with a square face and squat body, had bulldozed her way through our fence and moved into the basement, without any invitation whatsoever. It took me a few weeks to appreciate her, because I’m not used to the crude manners of a six-month-old labrador, but now I’m in love with her.

I’d like to say that giving these dogs to their new families gets easier, but it doesn’t. The simple fact is the longer they stay, the harder it gets; and Thelma’s been here almost two months.

Saying goodbye is always rough, and for me, the countdown starts the night before. I always make it a special occasion, and last night I invited Thelma to sleep in the bed. I’m happy to report she cuddled like a champ, nestling right up next to me and snoring like an old lady all night long.

Leaving her will be somewhat easier because her new family is cool as hell, but in all honestly, no matter how much I rationalize it, today isn’t going to be easy.

Silvio Dante: Update Two

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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.

Rico (Formerly Known as Ralphie): Update One

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Our little buddy Rico has bronchitis. He’s on antibiotics and cough medicine, but thankfully Kelly, his mom, expects a full recovery. To read more about bronchitis in dogs, click here. I wonder if his illness has anything to do with being weaned too young.

On a completely different subject, Kelly asked me how much I would charge to dog sit Rico next month when she takes her son C.J. up north to visit her father. I laughed because it seems absurd to accept money for the sheer joy of having a puppy in the house, especially one as smart and adorable as Rico. That’s way too greedy for me.

I’ll make sure to take a ton of pictures for everybody that has been writing to me about his cuteness. And I promise my husband Mason that I will try to focus on running the household while Rico stays at the Farnival.

Thelma: Update Two

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(Thelma and Rico)

When Thelma, a fifty-five pound Labrador mutt, bulldozed her way through our fence and into our backyard, I didn’t feel the instantaneous affection I normally experience when meeting a new foster dog. In fact, I thought of her as a drooling, farting, burping, shedding, snorting beast with a brawny body, squat and close to the ground, that could knock me off my feet if they weren’t firmly planted. For the first few days she stayed inside the house, I thought all lab-lovers were insane.

But after a month of living with her, I’ve come to adore her and completely understand people’s preference for the Labrador breed. It was Thelma’s keen intelligence and loving personality that sold me. When she’s not playing with her buddies, Silvio and Meadow, she watches me with dark soulful eyes gleaning with appreciation, and she treats the foster puppies that come and go with an endearing maternal affection. As far as intelligence, at night, I only have to say, “crate” or point to her special digs, and she nudges open the cage door, steps inside, spins a few times, and adjusts her blanket before nestling down for a night of sleep.

As my affection has grown, my aversion towards her hillbilly manners has diminished. Her snoring has somehow become comforting, a kind of rhythmic wheezing, and I don’t gag anymore if I notice her gawking with a string of drool dangling from her maw to her giant paws, when I’m eating strawberries. Now and again, I even invite her onto the bed for an afternoon nap, even though I know she’s going to drop a stinking bomb at some point.

Today, my sidekick Charlotte and I took our lovable brute Thelma along with her buddy Meadow to the park across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame to meet a potential adopter. The instant John – early twenties, tall, dressed in a Hall of Fame uniform with a name tag, – saw her, he said, ”wow.” Then he kept repeating the word, staring with open admiration at her shiny coat, stocky physique, and square face.

After jumping on John a few times (we’re still working on this unacceptable behavior), sniffing the wilting flowers edging the sidewalk, and playfully chewing on Meadow’s ear, Thelma laid on the pavement, as though being in downtown Nashville around bustling traffic and milling tourists was normal. When John commented on her calm behavior, I explained that it’s easy to maintain with one good walk a day. I told him that without structured exercise, Thelma was big enough to cause a lot of damage, and I didn’t want that happen to either of them.

Before we parted, John said he was eager to call Donna, ICHBA’s administrator, to set up a meet and greet, meaning we’ll visit his home with Thelma to determine if his living situation is okay for an animal. I’ll keep you posted.