Thursday, February 27, 2014

gone to the dogs, part 5

After much soul searching and a multitude of advice from friends, SB accepted the possibility of taking on two dogs and I accepted the possibility that two dogs may not work out. We came up with a compromise to adopt Tamara (who SB wanted to promptly rename) and foster Elsie with intent to eventually adopt her barring extreme hardship.

I came home from work full of excitement to greet the dogs but instead found SB alone on the couch. His foot was really hurting. He eventually went to the hospital and discovered that he not only had gout, but a broken toe to boot. As sympathetic as I was to his suffering, I begged for him to find whatever means possible to bring home the dogs because it was cold snd rainy and I was imagining them shivering and wet. The next day he brought them home. While they had been in vehicles before, this time they must have known that something was different because Elsie shook like a leaf for the entire drive from Tai Po to Happy Valley. 

They spent their first night with us fearful and fretful. We woke up almost every hour to barking because all sorts of new sounds were waking them up.  Oh gawd, what have we done, I thought in a moment of panic. Then I looked over and saw them curled up near our bed and I knew that this was what I wanted.

It has only been one week and change but I am sure of our decision to bring them into our lives.  Tippy (Tamara's new name) and Elsie bring so much joy to my life. Tippy is a love bug who will throw herself on the floor in front of you to get her belly rubbed and curl up into your lap for a snooze.  She isn't quite the active dog we envisioned but that's where Elsie comes in. Elsie, while initially more shy, is affectionate but less focused on getting cuddled. She loves to play with her toys and is such a curios girl.  She loves looking out our window or at the television.  SB swears that she likes watching rugby. When we are at the dog park Elsie will run and run. Tippy will join in for chase through the bushes. It's like I filled an emptiness inside though I never knew that anything was missing.

gone to the dogs, part 4

SB is singing 'My Cat's Name Is Maceo' by Jane's Addiction and one very excited dog is standing on her hind legs and trying to smother him in kisses. I can't help but pat myself on the back for the choice that we made almost two weeks ago. I am in doggie rapture myself now that I have a furry friend to call my own.

Two weeks ago: so there I was, set on Bridget for my doggie, when May brought out the final three for the day. Tamara came out with her sister, Elsie as well as Water Lily. I saw the way Tamara and SB greeted each other and I knew that despite this being my belated birthday present, we were going to leave with SB's choice. He threw a tennis ball and she fetched it. Search over.

Please let me tell you of two dogs who we left behind. There were many amazing dogs but these two bonded with us. It pains me that we couldn't take them all.

Bridget is a bundle of affection. She will love you with wild abandon, especially if you play with her. I envision her as a family dog or at least suited for people who can exercise her. She looks like a miniature cattle dog with her bob tail, folded ears and tricolor fur. SB said that her photo on the HKDR website does her no favors but I think that her cuteness still shines through. However, SB has asked me to assure anyone looking at her picture that she does NOT resemble that dog from the Omen or anything and is, in fact, quite good looking.

The other dog is Water Lily. What a sweetheart. SB was so busy with Tamara and I was so busy watching him that we totally ignored her. Eventually I felt a soft nudge on my hand and looked down to see a medium sized golden retriever mix with soulful eyes. And the parts of my heart that hadn't already melted onto the floor oozed out almost painfully. She was the sweetest, most pleasant doggie, waiting patiently for me to pet her. She was content to stand by my side, asking for nothing in return. Her only show of will was when she quietly planted her paws in protest of her walk being too short. We only had ten minutes before the Tai Po refuge closed and I agree that it was a pitifully short walk. I hope that she gets homed quickly because she doesn't fit in with the loud, rambunctious facility.

SB and I left for the night empty handed despite our efforts because we needed to debate our options. He wanted Tamara and I insisted that while not ideal, we needed to take two dogs. Elsie was also a sweet dog but shyer and more hesitant than her sister. In my mind, there was no way that we could separate them, no matter what.

Luckily, after much debate and several queries to many friends, we came up with an agreeable solution.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

gone to the dogs, part 3

The day before SB and I were to go to Ap Lei Chau to meet more dogs he had an acute gout attack. During a hike, he had kicked a rock very hard and was barely able to hobble the next day. I questioned whether he had broken something but he assured me that twenty years ago when he had his other gout attack, it was the same situation. He had previously also injured his toe and the injury brought on a gout attack. It took a week before he was able to walk without incredible pain. Eventually we had the pain under control and set out for the Sunday adoption day at Whiskers n Paws.

Boy did we choose the wrong Sunday. It was miserably cold and rainy, and there didn't seem to be any big to medium sized dogs (we amended our criteria from large only in hopes of more options). There were several puppies and small dogs but they seemed to all be claimed or at least were being considered for claiming so we didn't want to barge in on a dog that wasn't even our ideal anyway. Our trip wasn't entirely fruitless since we met Stella, who knew many of the dogs from Tai Po and gave us some names to check out. It was only when we were leaving that we found out that the people surrounding the dogs were mostly volunteers and not adopters. Oops.

While I applaud the mostly teenage girls who volunteer to mind the dogs, and they are doing a very good thing by socializing and playing with them, it might be helpful to also present the pooches to potential adopters. Again in their defense, it was cold and rainy and they probably had t-shirts on under their jackets that labelled them as volunteers, but unfortunately all SB and I saw was a large group of adults and children grabbing up dogs to adopt. Later, we reassured ourselves that the dogs there that Sunday were all smaller than what we wanted so no harm was committed.

On the next Saturday, we made our way to Tai Po. We had several dogs to re-view as well as a few of Stella and May's suggestions. SB also wanted to check out the black puppy who turned out not to be a puppy but a smaller dog. Still not fitting our criteria but SB confessed that he felt claimed by her. Her name was Tamara. I looked her up online and discovered that she had a sister named Elsie and though SB assured me that the two could be split up, I was not convinced.

When we got to the homing center May joked about SB's reaction to Tamara, akin to the head turning of a teenage boy seeing a girl he fancied walking by. But when I asked about whether Tamara could be adopted alone, May hesitated. While it would be better to adopt them together, they could be split up just so at least one could have a home. It was heartbreaking but SB adamantly didn't want two dogs and I could not bear to split them up so we asked to see single dogs. When she discovered that we didn't mind black dogs, May brought out Bridget. She was not only not large, but still a puppy...but she was something else.

Bridget had recently arrived at Tai Po and it was clear that she was already a hit with the staff. She was clearly not meant to be there surrounded by canines because she was such a people loving dog. She wriggled as close to us as she could get and was extremely affectionate. My heart melted into a puddle on the floor. SB threw a tennis ball and Bridget not only fetched it but she dropped it at SB's feet!

We played with Bridget for nearly half an hour before realizing that there were more dogs to see. Those poor other dogs didn't have a chance; they were all practically antisocial compared to Bridget. Two of the friendly, aloof dogs didn't alter from that behavior since SB last saw them and one sweet dog showed no interest in fetching the tennis ball or even wanting to run around. So she wasn't right for us but Melinda would make a fantastic dog for someone who treasures a calm, kind companion.

At the end of the day, I was set on taking Bridget home but first SB wanted to see Tamara one more time.

gone to the dogs, part 2

SB and I chose to begin our search at the Hong Kong Dog Rescue because they had a massive number of dogs of all shapes and sizes. He had more particular requirements than I did in terms of appearance so he made a list of candidate dogs from their website. Basically, my criteria was 'I want a dog that looks like it wants to steal sandwiches'. Yeah, not very clearly defined search terms but SB was able to parse out that I wanted a curious dog with the potential for naughtiness which would be managed with entertainment and challenges. I also added that it must be an adult mongrel because usually puppies and pedigrees don't have to worry about being overlooked.

SB's criteria was that the dog be friendly to other dogs and people because we live in a dense neighborhood and it wouldn't be fair to a quiet dog to thrust it into a place filled with people and pets. He also wanted a large dog that would fetch. He also said no Chow Chows or Sharpeis but I pointed out to him that this isn't the US and almost every other stray had a bit of Chow Chow and/or Sharpei. I also pointed out that one of the best dogs I had ever known was a sharpei and pitbull cross. He amended his criteria accordingly.

We filled out HKDR's online questionnaire and listed a handful of dogs that we wanted to meet. Within one or two days we heard back from Sally, the founder, that one of our dogs, Potato, was a no go. It was a rather abrupt email but later she sent an explanation that if left alone, Potato would inspect the contents of our drawers and cupboards, and most likely destroy them. So apparently Potato was my perfect dog magnified to the point that our small flat was not a good fit. Sally also told us that another potential dog was in foster care and we could visit the dogs at Whiskers n Paws in Ap Lei Chau on Sunday. In the meantime SB decided to go to the large homing center in Tai Po.

SB came home from his Tai Po visit with several photos of dogs that he had met but he was disappointed because despite meeting many big dogs, none was the right fit. He met lovely, sweet dogs who didn't seem to be as active as he wanted and were content to sit next to him and keep him company. He met active dogs who didn't seem to care that he was there and preferred the company of their friends. He met dogs that were nervous or shy and weren't ready to play yet. He met a few dogs who were worth a second look so he noted them.

At the end of the image reel were several blurry pictures of an apparently black dog. SB confessed that while walking to meet one of the large dogs he encountered a puppy that had broken free from its handler and ran up to him. She was a whirlwind of movement in the images so I had no idea what she looked like. Anyway, puppies were not on our list.

On Sunday we went to Ap Lei Chau to meet the foster dogs. We figured that these guys were more likely to be well mannered, having lived with people. We did not dismiss the Tai Po dogs, though. We also planned to return and give the dogs another chance to get to know us.

While no dog had yet to win us over from one measly visit, we were sure that the right dog for us was out there.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

gone to the dogs, part 1

As we are laying in bed for the night, there is a crunching noise coming from the living room as our furbaby chews on a water bottle. HK$400 on toys and she is rapturous over our plastic recycling.

Yes, SB and I are new dog owners. The story has been seven years in the making but a month ago what seemed like a pipe dream grew legs.

Seven years ago in Ithaca SB and I met a dog that stole our hearts. Coal was a four year old at the ASPCA, who our neighbors occasionally took home. They volunteered at the shelter and were very fond of Coal but were unable to have a dog. SB and I were very interested. He had some reservations with both of us fresh out of school and jobless but I started winning him over with the sob story of how Coal was deserving of a home but unlikely because he wasn't a puppy and was black. I did not know before that black dogs often get overlooked.

Unfortunately the next week SB got a job in Hong Kong and that was the end of my dreams for Coal. A year later I joined SB in hongkers and started my doggie campaign. SB put his very large, flat foot down and told me that neither of us had the time to care for a dog. It was true since he worked nine to ten hours per day and I was coming home after midnight several times per month. I was sad but I accepted my fate as a dogless person. Then I started playing rugby and slowly added other sports to fill my limited, spare time.

Over the years we have played with many dogs and I was starting to become the canine equivalent of that person who stands too close to a playground while not having any kids. I knew a large number of Happy Valley dogs by name. Last summer SB's friend, J and her husband adopted one of a litter of Borzoi-Standard Poodles that had been taken from a breeder. Buddy was physically my fantasy dog: lurcher like but with a dander free afro. He looked like a giant, floppy toy.

I loved Buddy. SB loved Buddy. J's husband loved Buddy. Unfortunately, while J loved Buddy, she was concerned and in her defense there were some not insignificant behavioral issues. J and husband tried working through the problems but when SB and I visited last month there was no Buddy. J told us that they had surrendered him. I asked where he was but she said that she had told the vet who she gave him to that she didn't want to know what happened next.

In a panic, I started calling shelters and checking on rescue center web pages for Buddy. SB agreed that we would take the dog. Sadly, we never located Buddy. I hope that he was quickly rehomed because he is a very good looking dog. I hope that whoever got him has time and patience to get him where he needs to be in terms of emotional wellbeing.

After the dog hunt, SB and I were only too aware of just how many dogs are in rescue centers and waiting for a home. We reevaluated our situation and agreed that things had changed and we were in a good place to become dog owners. I have a good job with regularish hours and SB works part time out of our home. He doesn't play rugby anymore and I had decided to quit my rugby team after we got a new coach who seems only interested in a Chinese team. I was the last of five non-local players but he finally succeeded in getting rid of me after I resisted months of being either entirely ignored or singled out and berated.

So anyway, I now only play lacrosse and we both had much more free time so we agreed that it was a good time to get a dog. The next step was finding the right fit for two weirdos in a small flat.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

encore

SB and I went to Shatin to watch the joint performance between the City Chamber Orchestra and a Flamenco group. I had never heard CCOHK and enjoyed the performance. The guitarist with the Flamenco group, Yago Santos, was outstanding. I saw him waving his hand after a particularly long piece.

SB isn't at all into dancing but he said that the dancing was good. The dancers (Rosana Romero and Adrián Santana) were very passionate and beautiful to watch. While I enjoyed Nina Corti's choreography to the Carmen Suite, I enjoyed Concierto de Aranjuez even more and I loved their encore performance. At the end of their last encore, at which point half of the audience was cheering loudly, I had to stand and clap. It doesn't seem to be something that people do here but I decided that I would rather embarrass myself by being the only one clapping than regret not having shown them how awesome the performance was.

While the Flamenco performance is gone, the Hong Kong Arts Festival is going on right now.You can catch jazz, dance, theater, opera, ballet, etc. We will be catching Giselle tonight. While I knew that it was a famous performance, I had not read the synopsis before. It sound like a rollicking, fun time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

love bites

We celebrated Valentine's day late due to my client being down with love and asking for some changes on Friday. I suggested skipping celebrations but SB was surprisingly adamant that we would celebrate. I suspect that part of his reason was due to the telling off that he got from one of my friends after my birthday when she found out that yet again, he didn't do anything. Poor SB's ADHD gets the best of him on these occasions.  Poor me, also. He always means to do something but then puts off planning/shopping until the last moment, only to realize that the last moment was actually the moment before. This year I tried to make it easy by telling him that I wanted a computer mouse since I knew that he was buying himself a new computer right before my birthday...but he forgot.

SB's calendar is set to remind him every month to take me to dinner. This came about after I got on his case about how I was the only one making the effort and taking him out to nice dinners or preparing something special at home. He has yet to actually take me out to dinner despite the monthly reminders, so basically the last time he did something special was on my birthday in 2011.  So yes, SB preparing Valentine's dinner was a big deal.

SB prepared sauteed potatoes with onions and rosemary, and steak. Unfortunately he lost track of time and the steak was very overcooked. I started to tease him about the crispy steak but then I noticed that he was actually very upset about it. I quickly gave him a hug and told him how much it meant to me that he had made the effort, no matter what the results. Then I cringed, remembering times in the past when I told him that meaning well meant nothing. I need to remind myself to be careful with angry words. 

I ended up giving him the slightly less crispy steak and pretending that mine was the better one. Sometimes that's what love is about - doing what you can to protect the feelings of the one you love. 

We ended our evening on a high as we ate the hideously ugly, lumpy chocolate covered strawberries that I had prepared while chortling over the British sportscasters' attempts at providing commentary to the Olympic hockey game. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

madness

SB sent me this video of some daredevil Russians climbing the Shanghai Tower.  They weren't even going to parachute off; they simply climbed without safety harnesses to the top of the crane structure.  I had to stop watching a few times because my vertigo was kicking in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLDYtH1RH-U


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

now and forevermore

SB was having difficulty subscribing to the Olympics feed on NowTV. He called them up and thank goodness he did because it wasn't the $148 only deal. The fine print is that we would also be subscribed to TVB for a minimum of 18 months at $102 per month.

Eighteen months of unwanted programming plus $148 seems a bit much for two weeks of the Olympics. Gosh how nice it would be if we had more choices of providers.