Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Uno Helping with My Paperwork

One of the advantages of working from home is that I get to spend a lot of time with my human kids and my canine kids.  Uno likes to be close and he's also very curious.  The combination results in this:

 Now if I can only teach him how to type...

"Honey, I think the Beagle's gone mad..."

Christmas morning I was sitting on the couch with Uno next to me while I watched the kids play with their new gifts.  My oldest daughter got up and came over to us to hug Uno and after about 30 seconds of being hugged, he suddenly started growling at her.  We couldn't figure out why he would be growling, it seemed so random!  He hadn't seemed to mind when she approached him, he had already been sitting next to me so he had no reason to growl at me but he wouldn't stop!  Every time Sophie moved in for another hug, he growled. 

My husband and I looked at each other, both thinking the same thing -- that maybe we were seeing some of the long-term effects of Uno's early life in confinement.  Was he unstable?  Unpredictable?  Unable to be trusted?  Suddenly we were worried that we would have to be extra careful with him around the kids, he may not be as hug-able as we thought he was...  It was so sad.

Then I realized -- he had been sitting on some fuzzy socks that Santa had put in my stocking and I had placed next to me on the couch!  I started pulling them out from under him and, sure enough, he pounced and started tugging!  It was the SOCKS he was protecting!!  We laughed so hard and were so relieved.  It turns out Uno has quite a thing for socks.  Especially the fuzzy ones.  He loves to play tug of war, he chases after them when you throw them, and he defends his booty when you threaten to take it away!  He surprises us a little bit every day.  For instance, we also realized he loves to tear up napkins.  Clean napkins, dirty napkins, any napkin will do!  We love, love, love this quirky pooch.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Look in Their Eyes...

I have been fortunate enough to receive several comments from you loyal readers that truly touch me.  Recently I received a link to a slideshow made by one of the incredible volunteers that enabled the rescue of Uno and 40+ others from Spain.  As I watched the slideshow of the pictures of their first days away from the laboratory, what really struck me was the look in the Beagles' eyes.  I remember my husband saying to me the first day that Uno came to his Forever Home, "I guess he'll always have that look in his eyes..."

It was a distant look, it was the look of a dog that had known little, if any, affection, the look of a lost dog. 

Truthfully, I thought the same thing -- that no matter how much we loved him, he would always carry the look in his eyes of a dog that had been confined for the first part of his life.

Well, I was wrong...
THIS is Uno.  The REAL Uno.
Welcome Home, Pup...

Click on the following link to see the slideshow sent to me by "Spanish Owner" to see the Beagles shortly after their rescue.  

Thank you, Spanish -- for everything you and your friends did to bring our Beagle home.

Uno's First Christmas

This Christmas we were blessed with visits from family and friends from as near as Upland to as far away as Oklahoma (and by "blessed," I mean that all of the grown-ups behaved themselves...).  I had worried -- for about 5 minutes -- that Uno might be a little overwhelmed with all of the company coming and going since he'd only been home for a little over a week.  Now the only thing that worries me is how he'll feel once everyone who has been doting on him for the past several days goes back home!  

To say that Beagles are readily adaptable is a serious understatement -- this little guy has basically gone from lap to lap, couch to love seat, cuddles to scratches, my brother's bed to my bed for the last 4 days!  I don't even know if he remembers what a metal cage looks like! 

He runs around here with his tail straight up in the air, is learning to sit, knows what, "Who's hungry?!?!?" means (the dinner bell for the dogs 'round here), has discovered a passion for a particular article of clothing to be discussed in a later post, "aroo's" and "aroo's" and chases the big dogs up the hill in our backyard as fast as his little legs will carry him...

Uno has been an absolute hit amongst our guests this Christmas.  All he heard for days was, "What a good-looking dog," "He's SO soft," "He's SO sweet!," and "He really is a beautiful dog" and Uno is just reveling in the praise.  
He even had a piece of coconut cream pie that my brother-in-law was silly enough to leave right at nose level!  

Well, Uno may feel like he's had it good this Christmas but we all know that HE has been the greatest gift any of us received this year... Merry Christmas Uno!  


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." -Immanuel Kant

Eventually I'm sure I won't have as much to say about Uno but for now, bringing him to his Forever Home has been like bringing home a newborn baby -- every time he moves a whisker I whip out the camera.  He's adorable but, more importantly, every day brings a little bit more confidence on his part, a little more affection for us, or at least this is what I like to believe.   For instance, when I got home yesterday after running an errand, he ran to me and jumped up on my legs, whimpering and wagging his tail.  For a "normal" dog who has always known how to be a dog, this is not a big, hairy deal.  For Uno and all of his formerly incarcerated brethren, this is HUGE.  

Most of my posts have been happy ones but this evening as I lay with him curled up between my knees on my bed while putting my little one to sleep, a realization dawned on me.  This was that the real cruelty of the situation Uno and these other dogs were in before their rescue by Beagle Freedom Project was not as much the conditions in which they were kept, the testing they were subjected to, or how they were exploited by people that call themselves human... it is that they were not loved.   My intention is by no means to minimize all that was done to them or how they were kept, but I see Uno and how he puts his paw on our arms to keep us from walking away when we're petting him, or how he readily climbs onto my belly and chest or curls up in between my knees, or even how he comes when we call him and is content to tolerate all of our pets and smooches and scratches until our backs hurt from bending over or our legs have fallen asleep from squatting, and I know that this animal needs to be loved.   These are SENTIENT, sweet, loyal, smart dogs that would just as soon go without food than live without affection.  
He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
-- Author Unknown

Uno is getting better every day but readers, don't misunderstand me -- he is still a little skittish, he still jumps and tucks his tail under when an envelope falls to the floor while I'm opening the mail, he has a long way to go before he is no longer traumatized... but I know that he knows that we recognize that his greatest need is for love 

                   and love...
                                                                             conquers all.

"The Kids are Alright..."

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, my husband and I were a little bit concerned about how our territorial/jealous Established pups would react to our bringing Uno home.  Bella (black)  is very much dedicated to the boys in our family and Jasper (blonde) thinks I'm the only human on earth for all he notices anyone else.  Bella has snapped at Uno a few times, usually when she's being cuddled by her dad and Uno happens to walk by.  Jasper growls at him when Uno tries fetching one of his toys but otherwise leaves him pretty much alone.  Hubby & I were content for things to be as they were, accepting that we would have to be vigilant, and relieved that it was no worse.  Well, I walked into the kitchen/family room yesterday to the above scenes...

To say that my heart melted would be a huge understatement.  It is SUCH a concession that Bella would even let Uno lay by her, let alone touch her that I just know things will only get better.  And better, and better, and better.

Incidentally, Uno was big-time snoring when I took the first picture!  Personally, I love hearing him snore.  It makes me feel he trusts us enough to let himself dream.  That is a HUGE compliment...   

"What's a CHICKEN?!?"

First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you all for your generous comments and your good wishes for Uno and our family.  I had just told my husband a few days ago that it didn't feel like Christmas for me yet.  After reading all of the wonderful things you all said on FB and on the blog comments, I immediately felt like Christmas was here.  What are holidays about if not to share what you have and what you feel?  And what better gift could you ask for than the gift of love, reciprocated?  Uno has given this to us and it is so heartwarming to see that he is loved as much as he is capable of loving.  Thank you to all of you for looking after us and for bringing the holidays home for us.

Now, on a lighter note... my family and I have several chickens that we keep in a backyard coop for the sole purpose of keeping them as pets and for the free range, organic eggs they give us (the one rooster we have was an accident -- HE was supposed to be a SHE!).  When the ladies from Beagle Freedom Project came to do our home check, Jean wondered out loud how Uno would react to our feathered friends.  Well, this was his first reaction to seeing them through the window:

He seemed really intrigued by them, hopping up and down several times to check them out, so I thought at the very least he wouldn't be afraid of them.  My lab pups ("The Established") are super-curious about them and, while I don't believe they would intentionally hurt them, they have been known to chase them very... enthusiastically... whenever one of the hens gets loose while The Established are in the yard.  I figured the same thing would happen with Uno (hound instincts and all that) but I was curious as my Dottie pays absolutely no attention to the hens at all.  Well, he was curious, alright, but more about all the good smells and their food than the hens themselves!!  A truer Beagle never lived...

A little disclaimer, here -- we live in a wind tunnel and we've had some pretty serious winds here, as you all probably know.  My hubby was picking up the shingles he had just put up on the chicken coop he built the week before as I filmed Uno.  Another disclaimer -- for those of you that may be concerned about the barren nature of the chicken run, please know that we have a HUGE backyard in which the chickens run around in the late afternoon until dusk at which time they climb into their coop on their own.  There used to be vegetation in the run but turns out hens like to eat it...


Overall, then, the introduction to the livestock was uneventful, albeit entertaining!  We even let Uno sniff the eggs but he was even less interested in those than he was in the hens.  

It truly amazes me how adaptable this little guy is, especially given everything he's been through.  Our hope is that from now on, all of Uno's experiences and adventures are at least as nondescript as meeting the chickens, if not all out FUN.  It is, after all, the very least that he and his 39 brothers deserve... 

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Uno Likes Home Cookin'!!

Days 2 & 3:

Now, I've had a beagle before and that little guy would do ANYTHING for food so I expected the same from Uno but somehow not so soon!  I figured his shyness would preclude him from indulging in his instinct to forage for food but boy was I WRONG.  No one is more attentive at dinner time than Mr. Uno so I've warned the kids they have to be watchful of their plates lest they should be knocked down by an eager Uno and left dinner-less!  I only managed to get a split-second of video before he gave up but it's worth watching for a little laugh.  I've never seen a dog wishing so badly that he was JUST A COUPLE OF INCHES TALLER!!!

Adjusting to His Forever Home

Day One: The hour-long ride to his Forever Home in Rancho Cucamonga was a pretty easy one for Uno.  From what I could tell, he's an old pro at the car.  After a few minutes of looking a little nervous, he settled into the blanket I had placed on the front seat and settled in for some cuddles and a nap. 

Our first stop was to pick my kids up from school.  Lucky for him there is a fabulous dog park right across the street where he got to stretch his little legs, off leash.  My 11-year-old, Sophie, quickly claimed the rights inherent with "I met him first" when her brother, Eddie (9), and sister, Olivia (7), arrived and took care to make sure no one crowded him or overwhelmed him. 
Our family has three other dogs: two Labradors (Bella and Jasper -- yes, I am a unapologetic "Twilight" fan), and a Bichon named "Dottie" (she was pre-Twilight) My hubby and I were a bit nervous about introducing them to Uno as both Labs are pretty territorial of us.  We took things slowly, though, introducing him first to Dot and then letting him sniff around the downstairs before finally letting the Labs back inside.  Uno was SUPERB!  He let the Established sniff him up and down and paid almost no attention to them at all. 

Although he was quite a bit jumpy with sudden or loud noises, eventually he went upstairs and sniffed every room, then settled in for some quiet time on the couch, or ottoman, as it were.

Uno's first night in his Forever Home was exciting and, no doubt, tiring for him.  After several minutes of clicking around on the wooden floor trying to figure out where to settle down, I gave in and plopped him on the bed (usually my hubby doesn't like having dogs on the bed -- it's the only piece of furniture besides the kitchen and dining room tables dogs are not allowed in our house) but he was tired and didn't object until Uno climbed on top of him and settled on his chest for his long winter's nap!  Eventually Uno found a comfy spot by my feet and slept through the night. 

I think it's remarkable that this pooch who has been through so much, is able to trust that there are human beings in his world that are not here to hurt or exploit him.  He readily bows his head for a scratch to his neck, he puts his front paws on our legs to be scratched on his backside, and he gives you his paw...   He could not have found his way from a lab in Spain to a better foster home with people who showed him what love is and that there is another, better way to live.  Thanks, M & S, and all of the amazing people at Beagle Freedom Project, for bringing this sweet boy into our lives, and into his Forever Home.