Monday, October 23, 2006

My dog

This is Penelope. Her story is sad but now has a happy ending involving treats and scratches.

Penelope came to us through ben.c's mother, who breeds Bernese Mountain Dogs. My black Lab, Zoot, died tragically in a car accident over a year ago, and I'd been pining for a dog ever since. When we moved to Arlington, ben.c and I purposefully sought out an apartment that was both close to the Metro and allowed large pets.

Ben.c's mom, Susanne, participates in rescue and fosters rescue dogs, so she sent us a few pictures of Penelope when she found out we were finally able to afford a pet. Penelope was in an animal shelter somewhere in Georgia, and was rescued the day before she was to be euthanized. Apparently dogs have a much better chance of being rescued in New England than they do in rural shelters, so one of Susanne's dog contacts runs a van between rural and urban areas--essentially he puts as many dogs in his vehicle as possible and drives them to points north.

Penelope never made it further north than Charlottesville, however. She had come down with a case of kennel cough--she got the shot but it wasn't in time--and so ended up with Susanne. She also had a lot of fleas, and promptly had an allergic reaction to the flea shampoo Susanne used, resulting in a lot of hair on her butt falling out, leaving her with a wrinkly, leathery spot on her behind.

Penelope also has what one might call a "winning smile." She has an underbite so her bottom teeth stick out in the wrong direction and look like Chiclets, and simply doesn't have any teeth in between her two front canines up top.

She's obviously not a Bernese Mountain dog but is probably one of the other Swiss Mountain Dog breeds, although there's a lot of other stuff mixed in there as well.

Despite the coughs, the fleas, the bald spot, and the busted grill, Penelope was sweet and loving and made a good impression on Susanne, so we met her halfway to Charlottesville and took Penelope home for a test week, to see if she worked out well in our apartment and could negotiate stairs.

Luckily for all three of us, she's turned out amazingly well and is really coming into her own. Her butt's healed up and the cough and fleas are thankfully gone, and she gives us goofy smiles all the time. She's full of wags and enjoys scratches and treats like all good puppies.

She has slowly grown to trust us and will now lay down near us. She's also started to play with her toys, although I've never seen a dog play quite the same way she does. She enjoys shaking her toys really hard and then tossing them into the air. Ben.c and I will be sitting on the couch and a farty tomato or squeaky plush toy will sort of whiz by. Nothing has broken yet but I have christened our apartment the House of Flying Tomatoes.

Anyways, I just wanted to share some of Penelope's story. We're not sure where she was from before she ended up in the shelter in Georgia, although she knows to sit when she's being given treats and is frightened of sticks and the broom, which means that at some point in her life, people both did and didn't care for her.

Penelope enjoys visitors who know how to greet a new dog, so come visit her sometime.

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