Monday, November 25, 2013

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Really, I'm the only one here?
Sometimes plans fall through and it's necessary to improvise. Such was the case this weekend when our carefully planned pack walk became a family walk when nobody else showed up. You may remember that last week I posted a Craigslist ad seeking walking buddies for The McGee and me. We got a few promising replies, but for a variety of reasons, this time it just didn't work out.

I must admit, I'm feeling a little bummed out. I knew it wouldn't happen all at once, but I'm struggling to trust that I will find people who will understand what I want to create. I thought it might be helpful to post my mission statement in the hopes that it will reach more people. So here it is:

Mission Statement: The purpose of the pack is to create a supportive outlet for people and dogs to practice their partnership skills in the presence of others on structured group walks. We will strive to be excellent examples of the canine/human relationship wherever we go. We will also have compassion for ourselves and others as we understand that every relationship is a continual work in progress!
So there you have it. My mission statement for what I hope to bring to fruition.

Fake Dog doesn't bark back.
I do have to shout out to a couple of groups that are providing the inspiration for this project. Two Pitties in the City is a great resource in offering logistical advice about how they went about founding their own walking group, the Chicago Sociabulls. The Seattle Walkabulls have their own meetup group and seem to be incredibly well organized and well attended. While McGee and I are not located in a large metropolis like Chicago or Seattle, I aspire to follow in their footsteps/paw prints.
For the time being, I've started a Facebook group where I will post details for upcoming walks. You can find it at Pits & Pals Pack Walkers (creative name still in the works). If you are interested in participating, follow the link and request membership.
In the meantime, and in the spirit of improvisation, McGee has been practicing with a fake dog. That's right McGee, fake it 'til you make it baby.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

15 Signs That I Am Obsessed With McGee

I'm sure you all have seen 15 Signs That You Are Obsessed With Your Dog floating around the internet. Well, I decided to put myself to the test and find out if I am, in fact, obsessed with McGee. Let's see here...
1. I talk to McGee when no one is around. Check.
2. I'm actually pretty sure McGee is a person. Check.
I just know she's thinking people thoughts inside her dog mind.
3. I have so many nicknames for McGee. Check.
4. No dog can ever be as cute as McGee. Check.
Not possible.

5. I justify it when McGee denies my affections. Check.
She's just angry because I made her wear the hat...

6. I refer to McGee as a member of my family. Check.
Yup, family for sure.

7. I stare at McGee while she sleeps because it's so cute. Check.
Can't. Stop. Staring.

8. People think I talk about McGee too much. Check.
Cover your eyes Mr. T. She's blogging about me again.

9. I let McGee walk all over me. Check.
Who can say no to this face?

10. I take McGee on vacation with me. Check.
Where to McGee?

11. I don't hang out with people because I don't want McGee to be alone. Check.
Nobody likes to be all alone.

12. I am as excited to feed McGee as she is to eat. Check.
I'm actually making the same face as her while I take the photo.

13. I find it necessary to celebrate McGee's birthday every year. Check.
But Dog Dad got her the cookie.

14. I imagine what it would be like if McGee and I were on Adventure Time. Well...
Not really. But we have lots of real life adventures.

15. I provide McGee with the love and loyalty that she provides me. Check.

It seems that 14 out of 15 criteria indicate that I am officially obsessed with my dog. I guess my blog should have clued me in.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why Spoons Are Great (& a 100 Mile Pact Update)

Dude! We may finally be on to something here! You may remember that in my last post I was languishing the fact that my dog is a Honey Badger when it comes to treats in general. She's got no time for the usual suspects when it comes to high value rewards. Chicken? Pish. Steak? Posh. Stinky cheese? That's ok Ma, you can have it.

So imagine my surprise when we discovered that our secret training tool has been right there in front of us all along! We just didn't know how to use it.

After we ran out of pizza at Monday night's class, I hunted around in our giant bag of dog gear and was dismayed to find that the only food items at my disposal were a half empty mason jar of dry dog biscuits and the jar of peanut butter we use to top off McGee's Kong whenever we stuff it with food.

Enter stage right: spoon. Spoon? Spoon!

Holy bunnies, spoons are awesome for so many reasons I already knew about, but now I have a whole new reason to love them! Did you know that if you load a spoon with peanut butter and hold it just out of your dog's reach, she will do most anything for a scrumptious lick? And not only will this distract her from all other canines, it will also be hilarious to watch her work so hard to please you while simultaneously licking gobs of goo off her cute little dog nose?

We may really be on to something here.
Natural progression leading to McGee's best impression of Crazy Eyes.
It should also be noted that McGee does not care for metal spoons. They get all clickety-clackety on her teeth and freak her out. I'm going to use up some of our stash of spoons-that-come-with-takeout-even-when-you-don't-want-them and then switch to bamboo.

As with any breakthrough, I'm sure we haven't found a cure all for our reactive dog woes, but progress is progress. I'm going to take this as a win and stock up on some JIF. Or maybe something all natural with no added sugars, but I'll worry about that later.

100 Mile Pact Update
Miles Accomplished: 10.44
Miles Left to Goal: 89.56
Days Remaining: 40

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Lovely Cheese Pizza, Just For McGee

When we first began our Reactive Dog training class five weeks ago, one of the first questions the instructor asked was "Is your dog food motivated?" Dog Dad and I simultaneously shook our heads in dismay. Though The McGee does enjoy her mealtimes, no treat seems to be important enough to keep her attention when she is reacting to another dog.

The list of foods we have tried is starting to sound like fodder for a Shel Silverstein poem:
What's in the fanny pack today, Boss?

Chicken Sausage, Spinach, Lamb,
Broccoli Tops and Cubes of Ham,
Hotdogs cut in bite size nibbles,
Ground Beef mixed with Doggie Kibbles,
Zukes, Cloud Star, Buddy Biscuits,
Tortilla Chips or maybe Triscuits,
Parmesan and Sweet Potatoes.
No Dog, you can't have Tomatoes.

I could go on and on here, but you get the idea: this dog is not easily pleased.

We chuckled during our week one class meeting when the gal in charge mentioned that she has seen people resort to ordering a pizza for their dog. Hahaha, isn't that so funny that someone would be that desperate to get their dog's attention?

Knock on wood people, knock on wood. If there is one thing we are learning from this class, it's that when the teacher speaks "hypothetically" or talks about that "1 dog in every billion", she is speaking directly to us. It's like if you were a middle school teacher who needed to address the issue of one kid who really needs to start wearing deodorant, you'd address the whole class so the kid doesn't feel embarrassed and hope that your point gets across. That's us with the pizza.

Yeah, McGee, you heard right. You really need to start taking this pizza eating thing more seriously for the comfort of everyone around you.

So this past Monday evening, we loaded up the car and I sat for the entire hour drive with a pizza box in my lap and a pair of kitchen scissors in my hand. That's right friends, I cut up an entire medium sized Papa Johns pizza into bite sized morsels for my dog. Then I bagged that sucker up and put my Ziplocs on the dashboard to warm over the defrosters. This is what it means to LOVE YOUR DOG.

Overall, McGee wasn't super ecstatic about the pizza like we hoped she'd be. The distraction of hearing or briefly glimpsing another dog was still more powerful for her than the alluring offer of some gooey pizza bites. While all the other dogs in class are now walking from cone to cone in an orderly follow-the-leader fashion in the center of the room, our little crew is still huddled behind baby gates and a tarp in the corner bracing ourselves for any moment that another dog might bark.

Though we don't feed her on class days so that she's extra hungry and ready to focus, McGee still had quite the food baby in her belly when we finished up on Monday night. Keeping her attention for a whole hour with other dogs in the room, as well as pre-class work with her buddy Mr. T, meant that McGee ate THE WHOLE PIZZA. I am so grossed out by this, I can't even tell you.

Since the pizza wasn't the enormous hit we thought it would be, not to mention the fact that I'm worried about the long term effects of letting my dog gorge herself on Papa Johns, I don't think it's an experiment we'll repeat. The good news is that, when we ran out of cheesy, doughy bartering chips, we still had a few minutes of class. In those few minutes, I think we may have discovered OUR NEW SECRET WEAPON. But more on that later...

How do you keep your dog focused on you when other dogs are around? What treats have you found work best?

Monday, November 18, 2013


I have always been a big believer in the universe providing what I need, but I also understand that I've got to meet the universe halfway, right? Today I took a leap and did something that I have been mulling over for a long time... I put out an ad on Craigslist.

You might ask, what's so scary about putting out an ad on Craigslist? You're already married so it can't be one of those sketchy singles advertisements...

Nope, it's not. But it may as well be based on the butterflies in my tummy feeling that I'm having right now. Inspired by groups like Chicago SociaBulls  and Seattle WalkABulls and fueled by the desire to meet like minded individuals who are passionate about their dogs, I decided to reach out to my community and see if there is anyone out there who might want to... walk their dog with me and my dog.

I know, super dork.
Are you sure this is a good idea?

The purpose of the aforementioned groups is to give dogs and their owners the opportunity to work on their issues (leash reactivity, shyness, puppy behaviors, etc) and get some exercise in the presence of other dogs. What a concept! I would love to have access to a group like that! With D.C. over an hour away and no sign of any group currently meeting there anyway, I decided that there must be at least a couple of people in my area who could benefit from the creation of a local pack walking group.

Now I just have to find them. And think of a catchy name.

You can view my Craigslist post here. If you or anyone you know is interested in meeting up, please send me a message.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thank Goodness for Gigantor

Mr. T and McGee right after they met.
One of the more baffling aspects of our little McGee's feisty personality is that, while most dogs put her in a frenzy, she is in dog love with one big fellow: Mr. T. Granted their love sometimes seems a bit one-sided, but I'm going to go ahead and call it dog love even if it sometimes seems like Mr. T does the majority of the loving and McGee plays hard to get. We have spent lots of time reflecting and speculating about this strange situation: why does The McGee love Mr. T and ONLY Mr. T? Here are some of the potential reasons we've come up with:

1. He's automatically part of the pack. When we went to the shelter to pick our little doggie up, T came along. We wanted to be sure that the two of them got along since we spend so much time with T's family (according to family, McGee and T are the dog equivalent of cousins). They were introduced off leash in a play yard and neither showed any sign of aggression. If anything, the reaction we got from McGee was, "You're not very interesting, I'm going back to my dirt hole now."
She likes to sleep in his armpit. He likes to let her.

2. Mr. T is ginormous. Multiply McGee's weight by three and add 40 pounds and that's how big he is. Our mini pittie can easily stand beneath him as though she is inside a dog house made of... dog. Maybe she just instinctively knows that she's too wee to really get the best of him.

3. Or maybe she just knows she's in charge. Mr. T is a marshmallow and McGee is undoubtedly THE BOSS.

4.  Love. T is just about the mushiest, most lovable 190 pounds of animal I've ever met. His mission in life is TO BE LOVED AND TO GIVE LOVE TO OTHERS AT ALL COSTS. Never mind the gallons of slobber that send his favorite people running for rolls of paper toweling, forget about the fact that he cannot fit in any one person's lap, and who cares if you're a tiny (to him) McGee dog trying to pin him to the ground and sit on his head and fart, he will love you just the same and pine for you when you are out of his sight. That's just how he rolls. McGee may have resigned herself to the fact that she cannot escape his unconditional love.

5. She really wants dog friends and Gigantor is the only one who can put up with her antics. There's no denying it, our pup has got no social skills. Seeing her trying to interact with other dogs is similar to when Stitch interacts with humans for the first time: bad news and hilarity, until you realize you just want to cry and yell and WHY DON'T YOU SPEAK ENGLISH FOR THE LOVE OF MONKEYS YOU DOG BRAINED DOG-O-SAURUS REX!!! T's big advantage again here is his sheer size. All he has to do is stay standing and turn his body in circles and McGee has to run laps to keep up. Not to mention how high she has to jump if she wants to be eye to eye with him. Usually it takes approximately 5-10 minutes for playtime to graduate to nap time.

Bed Swap. These two sure nap a lot...
We thank our lucky stars every day for our enormous Mr. T. Without him, McGee would be a lonely, friendless dog indeed. And while T and McGee are no Romeo and Juliet (I'm thinking more Beauty and the Beast with some irony and subversive swapping of gender roles), it is a love story that I am very grateful exists.

Does your dog have dog friends? How do you set your dog up for successful relationships with other dogs?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The 100 Mile Pact

So here's the thing: I like walking my dog, but most days it is exceedingly difficult to convince myself to actually saddle up and get out the door. I'm likely to procrastinate until I only have 30 minutes left until I have to be somewhere and then, by the time McGee and I hit our stride and I'm really enjoying the walk, it's already time to wrap it up and leave for work.

And The McGee knows when she is being ripped off on walking time. She has a very special look she gives me (eyelids slightly lowered, bottom lip pooched out) along with a special huffy sigh as if to say, "Weak effort owner lady, but there is no way you helped me meet my sniffing quota for the day."

For the longest time, I also struggled to walk McGee "by myself". Because of her outbursts upon seeing another dog, I felt incredibly intimidated at the thought of venturing out on my own without Dog Dad along for re-enforcements. Ok, that's a lie, what I really mean to say is that I wanted Dog Dad to be there to do ALL the enforcing. I just didn't believe that I had enough sway to convince McGee to do any behaving whatsoever.

I'm happy to report that lately my little pup pal and I have been partaking in many more walks on our own. While she still scowls and gives me her most unhappy face when I put on her Gentle Leader, this fleeting moment of cranky face cannot overshadow the ecstatic and elaborate tap dancing routine she treats me to when she knows it's time to go for A Walk.

"Oh excellent, I see you are wearing The Fanny Pack."
Little by little, I think that we are building a better bond and that she is coming to trust me more and more as a leader. I'm sure it also helps that I carry THE GIANT FANNY PACK OF BRIBERY full of delicious things for her to eat along the way. But you know how you can really tell when someone is your bestest friend? When you know all their favorite pooping spots by heart.

In honor of our newly forged girl time relationship, McGee and I are making a pact (she's just finding out about this right now as I type). We are making a pact to walk 100 miles together, without Dog Dad, by the end of 2013. Today we busted out 1.32 miles, so that gives us 47 days to conquer the remaining 98.68.

Hopefully this quality time is going to solidify my role in The McGee's life as someone she looks up to. She and I have a lot of work to do together so that both of us can be more confident and less worried when we're out together in public. We'll just have to take it one step at a time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 Ways to Help a Shelter Animal

Odette believes you can help.
Pet overpopulation is a huge problem in the U.S. Sometimes I feel so bogged down by sad homeless pet statistics and the awful animal abuse stories I hear in the news that I think, "Why bother, the world is so far gone and nothing I can do will make one tiny bit of difference". It feels like a mountain with no summit. But the truth is that there are many things that everyone can do to lend a hand.

While it's true that these actions might feel like a very small drop in an immense bucket, that's all the more reason to help fill that bucket up. These are just a handful of the ways I know of to make a difference to the homeless pets in your community:
1. Drop off your old blankets and towels. Shelter pets like to get cozy just the same as that dog curled up next to you on the couch.
2. Kids have enough toys? Encourage your child to ask for shelter supplies rather than collecting toys from their guests at their next birthday party. They'll feel great when they drop off their donation and see how happy it makes the staff and animals! Kids can be powerful advocates for compassion and giving when they realize what a big impact they can make.
3. Clean out your closets! Find out if there's a thrift store in your area that donates it's proceeds to an animal care facility or spay and neuter program. Southern Maryland is home to The Spot. More than likely there's a similar organization near you.
4. Recycle! Have a bunch of old documents sitting around? Shred those papers and see if your local shelter can use it in place of kitty litter! You'll be recycling and helping a rescue save some dough.
5. Find out what's needed. Many shelters have Amazon wish lists where you can order things like cleaning supplies and treats and have them shipped directly to the rescue facility. This also allows you to give exactly what is needed rather than spend money on something the shelter may not currently need.
6. Donate a bed. Kuranda dog beds give pups a comfy place to rest rather than a cold concrete floor. The beds are easy to clean and ship directly to the shelter when ordered online. The Kuranda website even has a searchable database of shelters so that you can find the shelter you are looking for. Especially as the weather cools, these beds can be a huge asset.
7. Join in the next time your local shelter has a fun run/walk. These events can constitute a huge portion of a shelter's earnings for the year, so every participant makes a big impact!
8. Donate your extras. Dog outgrew their collar? Got a new snazzy leash and no longer need the old one? Drop those babies off at the animal shelter! Martingale collars (the kind that tighten when the dog pulls) and harnesses are especially coveted because it allows volunteers and employees to more easily handle the dogs. And this means more walks and less time spent in a kennel.
Lola is patiently waiting for her forever.
9. Adopt your next pet from a shelter. Meet several options and make a thoughtful decision about who you bring home. Ask lots of question and be honest about your lifestyle when discussing your needs with the adoption counselor. Be realistic about what you can handle and what a new pet means for everyone in your family, especially your other pets. A forever home means just that: forever.

10. Volunteer at your local shelter and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Above all else, this is the best way to make an impact. Even if all you have time for is one hour spent with one dog once a month. That hour means everything to a dog who spends their day cooped up. Teach them to sit, spend an hour scratching their ears, or just throw the Frisbee 100 times in a row. Some places will even let seasoned volunteers take dogs on outings to help them stay happy and socialized.  
What creative things have you done to help the homeless animals where you live?

Odette and Lola are available for adoption through the Humane Society of Calvert County.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ambassadog vs Reactive Dog: Can McGee be both?

Ever since I fell in love with pit bull type dogs, I have dreamt of being the proud owner of an "Ambassadog". In my daydreams, my Ambassadog and I would flit from social event to event. We would run pet friendly 5ks together, she would calmly sip from a bowls of water while I read novels at outdoor cafes, and my stocky little breed ambassador would elicit adoration from all her onlookers by, you know, kissing babies and stuff.

Flash forward to reality. While my blockheaded McGee and I both enjoy kissing some babies, we've got a long row to hoe before we're frolicking light-heartedly in a road race or sipping anything other than a stiff drink. But Dog Dad and I are realistic human beings with reasonable expectations for what our pup can accomplish, right? We try to be.

The McGee is currently enrolled in Reactive Dog class. Our goal for the class is simple: help McGee learn to ignore other dogs. That's it. Not live with other dogs, not play with other dogs, not sniff other dog booties. Just ignore other dogs. Notice a dog, look at a human, get a most excellent treat, carry on with life. Piece of cake, right?

Not so much. Asking The McGee to ignore other dogs is like asking our 5 year old niece to ignore her bag of Halloween candy on November 1st. MUST EAT ALL OF THEM RIGHT NOW...

Last night was our 4th class in a series of 8. The trainers we are working with have been so compassionate and are constantly brainstorming with us to try and figure out what is going on in our little dog's brain. At this stage of the game, our McGee is still working behind her barricade while the other dogs happily munch their treat and watch their owners in full view of the other doggies. It can be challenging to keep your chin up under such circumstances and I often wonder whose confidence it is that we are really trying to build.

We did decide to do some pre-class work with our girl to see what would happen if we dropped the leash and let her approach the fake dog on her own. My heart dropped past my stomach and all the way to my toes as I watched her confusedly pin the fake pooch to the ground. It didn't take her long to walk away, but I could see the adrenaline pumping in her little body and feel hot tears welling up in my eyes.

The fake dog interaction over, we decided to bring a non-reactive, playful dog into her presence and see how she would manage it. Don't worry, our capable trainers took all the appropriate safety steps: two points of leash attachment, 3 experienced dog handlers, lots of space to move around, oodles of super yummy treats, and a muzzle for McGee (insert more tears here). Two different dogs each took a turn, one male and one female. As expected, another dog in her space elicited some of the most deafening sound effects yet produced. The trainer handling McGee spent several minutes working to turn her away from the other dog and help her come into a more relaxed state of mind. McGee couldn't get there and we had to call it quits for the day.

What was the point of all this drama? Well, it was important for us to see what would happen if she ever had the chance to approach another dog on her own. The fake dog gave us that opportunity without putting any other dog in danger. And bringing another dog into her space so that she could see it fully gave our trainers some insight because now they know what we deal with on a daily basis.

Ambassdog? Well, maybe not in the same way that Johnny Justice or Handsome Dan or Wallace the Pitbull have made great strides for pit bull type dogs, but I still believe that all our hard work is cultivating an ambassador for the breed.

Interested in reading more about different levels of dog tolerance? Check out this invaluable resource from the dog savvy folks over at BAD RAP: Undertanding Different Dog Tolerance Levels.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Astounding Metamorphosis of Dr. Pittie McJekyll

I've wanted to be a dog foster mom since I knew that there was such a thing. I know that I have what it takes to offer a dog patience and stability until the right family comes along. I just didn't know that I'd have to exert so much patience waiting for my opportunity to foster.

You see, sometimes THE PLAN that you have in your mind is not the plan that shakes out. And this is especially so when the dog you adopt turns out to be the dog WITH ALL THE ISSUES.

Now, let me tell you this: The McGee put on a good show for all of her caretakers and the animal shelter and for me as well. She was surrendered with another dog who was her buddy, she was social with her soon-to-be-cousin dog who came for a "let's make sure we get along" visit before we took her home, she was easy going to the point that we nicknamed her Carpet Dog and the shelter staff boasted that she might have a future career as a doorstop.

Oh you tricksy, tricksy McGee. Once she settled into her knew digs and realized that she would be staying for keepers, she morphed from sweet little doorstop into The Real McGee. The Real McGee is like a dog version of Jekyll and Hyde. Or maybe like that man eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors. (She doesn't really eat men at all, don't worry.)

What I'm actually referring to is the worst case of leash reactivity I have ever seen. I'm no animal professional, but I've done a great deal of dog walking at animal shelters and handled all of my family's pups over the years and I've never experienced anything like The McGee.

Imagine this scenario: it's a beautiful sunny fall day and I'm walking with my sweet little Dr. Pittie McJekyll through the neighborhood. She's wearing her snazzy Freedom Harness and her Gentle Leader. Her leash is loose and she glances at me lovingly from time to time to check in and receive a bite of yumminess from my treat pouch. Suddenly, from around a bend in the road there appears that sweet lady from down the road with her big black lab. I glance back over my shoulder to determine my best escape route, only to realize that three houses back the residents have just let their three medium sized barky dogs out into the front yard. Panic sets in as I resist the urge to strip off my sweatshirt and wrap it around my dog's face in a last ditch effort to hold off the impending transformation. Click, treat, squeaky happy voice, click, treat, praise, treat, look, treat, oh no, stare, click, click, treat, smash treats in face, walk faster, staring growing worse, cannot break staring crazy gaze no matter how much beef I offer as a bribe.........nooooooooooooo!!!!!!! And then the screaming. The shrill, Jekyll has left the building and Hyde is in the house sound that melts my eardrums and breaks my heart at the same time. Why can't she understand that this is not the way to gain friends, dog or human? What is wrong with me that I can't communicate stability and make her feel safe at my side? Will this ever get better?

To be fair, we have made some serious progress over the last year. Canine Good Citizen class was a breeze for The McGee. She passed with flying colors. That is, she passed 9 of 10 tests with flying colors. Test 8: Reaction to Another Dog proved too difficult for her to bear, much less pass. And if a dog fails one section, they fail the whole thing. But her threshold is growing. She can walk past many of the neighborhood dogs in their yards without staging a meltdown. She plays happily with her cousin Big T and she is slowly learning that she can earn treats by looking at us when she sees/hears another dog. She used to have the same reaction to cars and that problem has dissolved almost completely.

What is the point of this story? Well, the point is that when we adopted our McGee, I thought we'd give her a good six months to settle in and then we'd be able to foster other dogs. I mistook her initially mellow behavior to mean that she would be an ideal "big sis" when we were ready to open our home to other animals in need. I didn't know that what she was really telling us was, "I'm frightened and my self esteem is low. I'm not ready to show you who I really am, so for now I'll just remain guarded and quiet."

I haven't given up all hope. I still think that, with patience and time, our family will be able to foster. Even if it means that The McGee has to spend all this extra time training us to walk better on a leash.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The McGee

What can I possibly say to describe her succinctly and sufficiently?

Soft bellied and hard headed, The McGee has snarfled and snorted her way into this small family.

You see, she wasn't supposed to be our dog. There was someone else. A puppy with less baggage who I followed from one shelter to another in hopes that she would be my girl. A little bulldog baby who would have been named Frannie. But she had other suitors who were faster than me. I was beaten to the punch. And who can really feel sorry for that? A shelter dog with many options. What a fortunate thing. I think they named her Annie...

So, I decided to peruse the other options available to me that day. I saw Fr/Annie leave the shelter with her new dad and, feeling slightly sad and, let's be honest, a little impulsive, I headed down the row of dogs to see who else might be available. Sucker.

And she was there. Throwing herself upwards and outwards at the kennel door. Crazy faced and giddy with excitement at the idea of getting out and then, once released into the semi-freedom of an outdoor play area, aloof and butt-plunked in a homemade dirt hole underneath a bench without much indication that she'd like to be my friend.

And here we are. One point five years later: me type tapping on my computer keys while The McGee snores her best and loudest snores on the floor next to me. She is wrapped in MY favorite blanket which she somehow adopted after we adopted her. I'm pretty sure she loves my husband more than me. It doesn't really bother me. Not too much.

She is The McGee. The sounds she makes as she sleeps are so human that I can almost imagine they are coming from my dad, asleep in his armchair, remote slowly drifting out of his hand.

But no. I look to my right and there she is. Small and sleek. When she curls up so tight and packs all her chub together, she resembles a sleeping baby hippo dragon pig. I wonder where she hides her folded wings and watch for smoke emitting from her vibrating nostrils.

She is the best dog in my world.

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