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 Meet my Furry Family

I'm going to tackle the menagerie chronologically.


I could never talk about my furry family without a shout out to Smidgey, my sweet little cairn terrier who lived to be almost eighteen-years-old. To say he was a big part of my life is, like, the hugest understatement ever. I adopted him from Doggy Death Row when he was seven (and THANK YOU to his dumb former owners for refusing to pay the fifty bucks to spring him, because he belonged with ME).
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The eleven years with him were some of my best. He had the nickname Silent Sam, because he just didn't feel the need to bark. Okay, occasionally he'd toss off a two-syllable woof at the random cat, but other than that, it was beneath him. :) Smidgey loved walks, baths, the blow-dryer. He knew where the treats were kept, and he took everyone who entered the house to that cabinet. Anyone who says dogs don't have personalities never met Smidgey. Once, he got into a five-pound bag of Tootsie rolls, tried one, decided he didn't like it (he only ate about half), but then he hid the rest of them all over the house. I searched for all I could find and THOUGHT I'd found them all, but for about a year after that, he'd play Tootsie Roll tricks on me. He'd be chillin' on his bed, and I'd leave the room for just a minute or two. When I'd return, he'd still be chillin' on his bed, but there would be a Tootsie Roll by his paws. And he'd look at me all innocently like, "What? I don't know where that came from." Smidgey was so freakin' cool, even his non-animal-person Aunt Elena (my sister) adored him. She used to scramble him an egg now and then. He had a long, healthy life and died peacefully, in my arms, on June 7, 2005. I miss him every day.

Coco and Georgie

That brings us to The Girls, AKA Coco and Georgie, our housetrained bunnies. After Smidgey died, the house just felt...lifeless. No offense to the plants. So, along came two itty-bitty bunnies, and let me tell you, these little fur balls have it GOOD. They have their own room, basically, which is referred to as "Bunny Land," complete with a two story town house, a play tunnel, and lots of toys. Coco and Georgie are spayed females and they're a bonded pair. They WUV each other.
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Bunnies pair up either female-female or male-female, but in general, male-male duos just fight—go figure. Coco and Georgie are the silliest rabbits in the world. For one thing, they refuse to eat vegetables. REFUSE—no lie. They will let the most luscious lettuce simply rot, untouched, in Bunny Land. It boggles the mind. They eat Timothy hay, pellets, dried carrots, apples, bananas, wheat grass, and papaya pellets. NO VEGETABLES. I can't figure them out. They're also very…rabbity. They like to be petted, but they don't like to be held, even though we've never given them any reason to fear us. Goofs. I guess it comes from being PREY. Like I said, rabbity. Bunny Land is sacred space in the house—no dogs allowed. Occasionally one of the little dogs is allowed to come into the room supervised, but only on the opposite side of the fence from the girls and only so long as they don't get amped up and barky. The beagle isn't ever allowed in the Bunny Land room, because DUH, he was bred to hunt rabbits. We want Coco and Georgie to feel safe all the time.


On to the canines. I never thought I could love another dog after Smidgey, because he was just so…perfect, and perfect for me. But then this scrappy little stray, Gulliver, came into our lives. He was another shelter boy, a maltese mix who had a penchant for escaping. He was the smartest, most athletic little dog I've ever met.
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He could stand on his back feet, straight up in the air, for the longest time. He would make it up an entire staircase in two bounds. Oh, and he climbed trees. When he was playing, he'd often stop, leap up onto the couch or chair, give you a quick kiss, and then dart back to his playing. SO cute. I fell in love with Gulliver immediately, and the time we had with him was far too short. Sadly, despite out best efforts, Gulliver fell victim to his own thrill-seeking nature. :( He got out of the fence on October 13, 2005, and was struck and killed by a car within seconds—literally. The only comfort I have is knowing he was happy for the last few months of his life, plus he died instantly and probably all exhilarated from having finally escaped. The vet said he didn't even have a chance to know what happened. It's also a comfort knowing he is with Smidgey. I miss little Gully every day, too.


Next came Gulliver's goofy little beagle brother, Ditto. His name pays homage to my partner's first beagle, Bailey. Bailey was number one beagle, and the second beagle, well, DITTO. Get it? Ditto was the cutest, grumpiest baby dog ever. He was the last boy from his litter to be adopted because people thought his ears and tail were too long. Forget THAT. His elephanty ears are what sucked us in! I mean, LOOK at those ears! I hate all the emphasis in perfection with animals—ARGH. Ditto is really independent and loves big dogs. His best friend at Doggy Day Camp is AJ, a 160-lb.
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Newfoundland that even the big dogs were afraid of, because he's huge and black and—unlike most of his breed—really exuberant. (Ditto weighs 33.4 lbs.) The first day Ditto saw AJ, he was like, "Hey! Big guy! Let's play!" Ditto squeaks when he yawns and actually sits on his haunches and reaches up for hugs. He's the alpha dog (other than us) in the house, but he's also the hugest whiny DRAMA QUEEN in the entire universe, my GAWD. He's like a thirteen-year-old girl half the time. He's moody and snarky and sweet and a giant dork. I love him. He escaped the fence when Gully did, but he was just a little puppy and was afraid to go into the road, thank GOD. :( Ditto pouts when he has to stay in the little dog's section at Camp. He thinks he's as big as AJ. Although, when Mojo was a tiny three pound baby at Camp, Ditto stayed on the little dog side and would bark away anyone who got too close to baby Mojo. Even to this day, if we tell Ditto, "Go outside and watch your brothers," (because we're overrun with hungry foxes and coyotes in our area) he'll clickity-clack his way down the stairs and do just that. Hee hee! Cute. His motto is, nobody beats up my little brothers except me.


Next up, my sweet little Mojo, a maltese. I'm into little fluffy dogs, so I wanted to go see him when I heard about him, even though he was adopted only a week after Gulliver went to doggy heaven. I worried if I didn't take the plunge right away, I never would again. Plus, Ditto was absolutely morose. Mojo was the smallest, scruffiest little guy in the universe when he came home, and he looked like a werewolfy-monster when he played but like a lamb when he slept on his back.
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He still looks really lamby. We were afraid at first because Ditto seemed so much bigger than him, but they're only six weeks apart in age, and they basically grew up together. Now, they roughhouse like crazy with no ill effects. Of all the Boys, Mojo is the "Smidgey-est." (I always tell them than when they're being insane—"Channel your inner Smidgey!") He's mellow and gentle and will always willingly give up his toys or treats or whatever else to his brothers. He's content just to lie next to them while they play. He's super snuggly and he's had this girlfriend at Doggy Day Camp since he was four months old. Her name is Abby (although I refer to her as "That Abby," in just such a tone, because she lured my boy into a romance at such a young age, the hussy), and she's a Chinese Chin. They seriously love each other. Mojo is also the slowest eater on the face of the earth. Kibble by kibble, that's his motto. He has the best play growl EVER, very reminiscent of Gully's, and he's so happy to wrestle with his brothers. Although Ditto tends to just sit on him, and then we have to rescue him. Mojo is our vet's favorite, even though she says she's not supposed to play favorites. But she had to do surgery on his little knee when he was nine-months-old, so they got some quality time together. And you really can see his gentle soul in his eyes. The only time Mojo loses his cool is at BATH TIME. He sincerely despises baths, and I feel bad every time I have to subject him to the tub. But he's (1) white, and he's also (2) Velcro doggy. Plus (3) he thinks it's NEATO to lie outside in the wood chips. Or dirt. Mojo has a really distinctive sound when he's begging for something. We call it "monkeying." He really does sound like a monkey! The monkey I always wanted but never had (Mom).


So, the family was complete, right? Two dogs, two bunnies? The perfect American family (SNARF!). That's what we thought. But then, on a trip to New York City, we got a glimpse of an incredibly cute little black and white puppy up for adoption, and, of course, I just HAD to play with him. An hour later, we were the proud parents of a THIRD puppy, an airline approved travel crate, and a ticket to bring him home. I know, I know. Pure insanity. Levi is a Havanese, and now that we have him, I can't imagine the household without him around.
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He was bred just to be cute, and BOY, does he have that down. The first thing he did was roll over on my lap and show me his pink spotted tummy, while gazing into my face with his earnest little black eyes. Seriously, he's a pimp-doggy. He knows how to WORK it. Levi dances on his back paws like a little bear and clacks his jaws together for treats, or even perceived treats. When he performs this little dance, his front legs are spread out wide like arms. It's hilarious! If you even glance at Levi, he rolls over for a tummy rub. And he can hear the refrigerator opening from anywhere in the house. Now that he's a little over a year old (!!!), he can outrun the beagle and roughhouse with the best of them, and he's a huge instigator. If the other boys are napping, he'll leap all over them biting at their ears or their ankles until they play with him. Seriously, the guy barely sleeps. I think he's some sort of a spy. The soft crate he sleeps in is right next to my bed and at the same level. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I'll roll over and open my eyes, and he's just sitting in there staring at me. Levi's favorite thing is food, and he can polish off a bowl in fifteen seconds. He also belches like a trucker. At Camp, Levi is in Mojo's "posse," and there's some serious hero worship going on there. Levi is the happiest dog in the universe. He wakes up happy, plays all day, and goes to bed happy. And he always gets the same bedtime story. "Once upon a time, there was a cute little black and white puppy, and it was time for him to go to bed. THE END." He seems to like the routine of it.

So, there you have it. Three angel doggies, Smidgey, Gulliver, and Bailey. Two vegetable shunning bunnies, Coco and Georgie, and three goofball dogs, Ditto, Mojo, and Levi.

And you wonder why I have a writing office AWAY from my home?