Life Happens


And that, my dears, is how you know it’s life.

Unfortunately, when the shite hits the fan (or, as I think Doctor Who put it, “When the defecation hits the rotating oscillator”) this blog is often one of the first casualties.  Despite appearances to the contrary, the drama of my life does not always inspire blog-fodder.  Some days, I’m just too damn drained.  I know you know what I mean.

So what’s been happening?  Bit of this, bit of that, bit of the other.  Visits to my ailing and elderly folks balanced against the fun of a niece’s 50th birthday party and the joy of spending time with the newest member of our family, my eight-month old great-niece Ellery.  Hubby’s father, who fell and fractured his hip back in January, has been in and out of the hospital since, and it has now been determined that he’s been having mini-strokes.  His wife is understandably upset while he is…well, disinterested isn’t the right word.  We know (we believe) he is worried and frightened, but in the face of advice from the medical personnel handling his case, he turns a deaf ear and does nothing to help himself.  Our feeling is that he’s chosen to give up in the face of life’s reality.  Sad.

Balancing that is the particular joy of a new member in our immediate family.  Meet Holly!

Holly’s brand new to the clan, having joined us this past Saturday.  She is a three-year-old Australian shepherd with (as you can see above) a penchant for muddy ditches.  Actually, she loves all water and has a helluva good time with even the shallowest of puddles.

I’ve been looking for a dog for some time.  Tucker, as many of you know, passed away almost two years ago.  For a long time, I wasn’t ready for another dog.  About a year ago, I decided it was time to start looking…and that’s when the frustration began.  In the past, adopting a dog was merely a case of going to the pound and picking one out.  Nowadays, things are a bit more convoluted.  For instance, I happen to like pit bulls, but my homeowner’s insurance company does not (to the tune of about $1000 dollars).  There are a LOT of pits out there for adoption.  Same for German shepherds, Dobermans, and rotties.  Now, I’m not a huge big-dog fan, so these breeds really weren’t in the running, but still.  Nor am I a teeny-tiny dog fan (what my friend Stacey calls in jest (at least I think it’s in jest…) a “kick dog.”  I like labs and Goldens, but I was looking for something on the smaller side, a dog I could lift into the back of the car if necessary without rupturing an organ.  (I’d learned my lesson having to lift Tucker’s unresponsive 75 pounds.)  I’ve always been a fan of herding breeds as well as mixed breeds, so that’s where I focused my search.  There was nothing in the local pounds (believe me, I looked, and I monitored them regularly), so I began to explore rescue groups.

God in Heaven, some of those people give the idea of rescue a bad name.  I don’t mind applications or criteria, and I don’t altogether mind being made to jump through hoops, but a little truth in advertising goes a long way.  Say up front what you charge.  (And what a discrepancy there is.  I know a fine rescue organization in Morris, NY that charges around $250 for an adoption.  Others lower the boom at nearly $400.   That vast difference makes me wonder.)  Some rescue groups offer well-analyzed, healthy dogs.  Others offer half-starved and disease-ridden animals that make your heart cry.  Some go out of their way to accommodate you and your need to meet a dog in advance and others exclaim like you’ve just asked to be given the keys to the kingdom.  (One woman I spoke to was astounded that I wanted to meet the dog in advance and told me that would “cost extra.”  Say what?)  What really got my knickers in a twist were the many ads on Petfinder that claimed the animal was in Connecticut, but when you get down to details you discoverd that it was still down South somewhere and needed to be transported.  And there are plenty of these groups out there who don’t return emails or phone calls, and who’ve left politeness somewhere on the side of the road.

(Tirade over.)

At any rate, I was at the point of giving up, at least for now.  The wonderful place in Morris, NY (Glen Highland Farm, for those who are interested; they rescue Border collies) didn’t have any dogs that fit our needs and the abilities of our property.  Fair enough.  On a whim, I contacted a Massachusetts breeder of Australian shepherds and asked if she had any adult dogs for adoption.  She didn’t, but she thought a friend might.  One thing led to another and that friend forwarded to me a letter from a previous adopter who needed to rehome his Aussie due to a change in living circumstances.  Many emails passed back and forth between us before he decided to come visit last Saturday, bringing Holly with him to meet us, meet the cats, and see how we all fit together.

Obviously, we fit well.  Oh, the cats weren’t thrilled, but two days down the line Tuna couldn’t care less that a dog is here, and even Gypsy isn’t hissing as much anymore.

Am I tired?  Sure; this is an Aussie we’re talking about.  But we’re feeling each other out.  Each day, Holly is a little more responsive to my requests, and I try to keep in mind my need for patience and her need for periodic stimulation.  (Walks morning and afternoon, play time in the middle of the day.)  It keeps me busy, yes.  It’s added more work to my day, yes.  But it’s adding a lot of fun, tool.  And I sure do sleep well at night!

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Animals, Australian shepherd, Dogs, Life, Melissa Crandall, Pets and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Life Happens

  1. Sheillagh Dare says:

    Melissa, enjoyed reading this blog. You have a lot going on in your life but I think your adoption of Holly will put all the challenging things in their rightful place and the love you obviously have for Holly will carry you through all the other sad things that come in life. As you said, she’s fun! She brings joy to your life and I’m sure you’ve brought the same to hers!

  2. John says:

    Holly shows us life does indeed go on through the good and bad.

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