Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New Tricks

Tuffy, just before her last ride

I've been remiss in not thanking everyone for their kind and supportive emails and comments surrounding Tuffy's final illness and death. I want you to know that it helped a lot. Three nights later, I find myself probing my emotions to see whether it still hurts. I think I'll always miss her to some extent, like Noodle and Jenny before her. But her last days were so painful for all of us that I'm mostly relieved that they're over. No more long discussions of what pills to give her and when, and whether they're likely to do any good. No more listening to her struggle to breathe, and wondering whether it's cruel to follow instructions and wait to give the new pill, or to give it time to work. No more wondering how many days she has left. Tuffy had a pretty good run for her first eleven years, and a mostly comfortable life for most of a year beyond that. But that last month was a bad one.

The kitchen, most exciting room in the house!

I'm sure it's not the answer for everyone, but I'm glad we went out the next day and found another dog. Ireland (name subject to change) is very different from Tuffy in many ways: slightly larger, more confident, more friendly, a bit more energetic. So far she hasn't made any messes or done the trash hound thing, although she wants to poke her head in the fridge and has climbed on an end table. She will run out the front door if we let her, so we're being extra careful when we come and go.

The surprising part of the new doggie dynamic around here is how Pepper is reacting. Yes, she's jealous, occasionally barking or growling as she tries to assert her status as top dog. But overall, we're seeing less of that than when Pepper was competing with Tuffy.

In fact, I think there's potential here for something we've never had at Casa Blocher: two dogs who are actually friends. Jenny found Noodle kind of annoying and exhausting, and Tuffy didn't really care about Noodle, either. Tuffy and Pepper sort of hung out together, but they didn't play. The closest I saw to affection was Pepper licking Tuffy's mouth. But Pepper and the new dog are always together, and I've even caught them playing a little bit.

And Ireland (current frontrunner for a new name: Cayenne) has had a positive effect on Pepper's behavior overall. Pepper has suddenly started jumping on the bed, which we didn't think she even could do unassisted. She has shown more enthusiasm when we come home, even barking a little as Ireland does. She just tries harder for our attention and affection than she did before.

Pepper has a bad habit of turning her back to us most of the time, almost never looking us in the face. Even that is starting to change. Thanks, new dog!

So, what should her name be? We've been thinking about names that reference her color but are neither too long nor too cliche. We've considered Rue, Roux and Rouge (yes, I know the first two don't mean red), DoctorDonna, Gally (short for Gallifrey), Dexy (as a midnight runner), Chili, Cinni, and I forget what else. But we're open to suggestions!

Tomorrow she has a vet appointment. This will be a new vet for us, on this side of town. We've been going to Grant Road Small Animal Clinic (the name has varied over the years) since 1986. For over half of that time, it's been at least half an hour's drive. Time for a change!

And finally, I'm able to post a doggy entry that's cheerful enough to include in Steven's Feline & Furball Friday. Not that he'd begrudge linking to one of the recent entries, but really, it's better to have pictures of happy, healthy dogs for a meme like that than tales of unremitting woe.



Paul said...

A warm welcome to the family to...Whatshername. With those teats hanging down, she reminds me of the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus in the wild, and so I vote for the name, "Lupa."

Kiva said...

OK, I have to admit Cayenne & Pepper sound better than Ireland & Pepper...

Penny said...

She's very pretty. My first thought when I saw the photo was this ~ she looks like Cinnamon. I had a red Pommy years ago. Her name was Cinnamon. Just days after my husband died, she curled up under the water pump and closed her eyes for the last time. Your new dog has the same eyes and everything, but waaay bigger. Blessings, Penny