Love at First Sight

So, tomorrow is Ledcat’s birthday – she’ll be 51! We are celebrating with massages, facials and cake (of course.) This is also another birthday – my sweet cousin Theresa shared a birthday with Ledcat. She would have been 49 tomorrow, but she unexpectedly died four years ago. My phone just sent me a birthday reminder for her as I started to type this post. I can’t bring myself to delete it.

But while I fiercely love both of these women, they are not the object of my blog post on this topic: Whether a person, a pet, an object, or a place, write about something or someone you connected with from the very first second.

So this would be Ana Dunhoff Kerr, our dog. She is mostly Chihuahua and a wee bit something else. We met and adopted her on May 26, 2008 so we are rapidly approaching her 6th adoptiversary (anaversary?)

Dog cancer
Mona in her final year battle with cancer.

Earlier that spring, our beloved Mona lost her battle with lymphoma and we grieved very hard. H death left a hole in our family and searched Petfinder for a Mona lookalike. Ledcat was reluctant, rightly so. But then came Ana.

I think this is how it happened – I think our friend Debby (a dog trainer) told us that a rescue in Indiana County had a dog we should consider because Debby thought the new dog would adapt to our unique cat/big dog household. So I visited the Petfinder website and read her bio.

What struck me?

  • Ana had a pelvic fracture; Mona had a leg fracture when I first adopted her
  • Ana liked cats. Mona tolerated cats and never bothered them.
  • Ana lived in a foster home with big dogs; we had big dogs
  • Ana was shy. Mona wasn’t remotely shy ever or with anyone. When I took her to parks/events, she would often plop in the nearest lap, stranger or friend.

Wow!

We made the long (oh so long) trek out to Indiana County to meet her. We knew she was shy and fearful, so we broke up pieces of Beggin Strips which we shoved in our pockets (a ha!) as bait. When we met her at her foster home, she was hesitant around us but our laid back approach won her over and she was soon in our laps trying to find the treats. After awhile, she was snuggled up with Ledcat and snoozing for a bit. She had our hearts at the get go. So we adopted her on the spot. Our references had already been checked. We had set up Mona’s crate for her at home. And home with us she came.

Adopt a dog
Ana in the car for the trip to her new home …

Integration into the family was a little stressful, but eventually worked just fine thanks to Debby’s dog training magic. Ana was soon adopted by the dogs and ignored the cats. She was very clingy to us, but continues to alternate between us and the dogs – she just wants to be touching *someone* when she’s sleeping. Her pelvic fracture has not proven to be a big issue. She runs and leaps across our big (to a Chihuahua) backyard, leaps up onto the couch and the bed, even adopted our chais lounge as her own outside sleeping spot. But we are fully prepared to address it should the fracture be a problem as she ages.

Pittsburgh Summer
So glad we invested in this Chihuahua sized deck chair.

She meets most everyone that comes to our house and we allow her the option of privacy if she prefers. But typically it goes like this. Ana looks like new person will pull out a knife to kill her. New person ignores Ana (at our suggestion) and she eventually comes to see what that’s about. Ana ends up lap of new person being stroked and cuddled and given her due amount of worship. New person stops to perhaps sip their beverage or even talk with the humans. Ana demands more. When we have parties, she’s passed around like a new baby and she adores it. Until she finds the person that she really wants to cuddle and pretty much demands that she stay there. It is really a crap shoot whom that will be.

Header Ana and Kitties
Are these cats going to touch me? asks Ana with those eyes.
Ana and baby Coco take a nap.
Ana and baby Coco take a nap.

So she’s not less-shy, she just trusts that we will make sure that she’s secure.  If you see her out back yapping up a storm at the intruder birds, rabbits and garbage trucks – you’d never think she was shy in the first place. She does not like being in noisy environments so we don’t take her to restaurants or coffee houses or for ice cream. I would never take her somewhere like a concert in the park because the noise scares her. And really, dogs don’t *need* to go to concerts. She does need to go to the vet. We get her groomed regularly just for the social experience and that’s been great – she doesn’t even cry in the cage waiting her turn. She loves people. And her dogs. She loves Debby.

Ana helps me with a tote bag drive. She likes to help. Well, she likes to sit in the car and observe, then inspect all items.
Ana helps me with a tote bag drive. She likes to help. Well, she likes to sit in the car and observe, then inspect all items.

Her only trauma is when we force her into Halloween costumes and put her on parade.

Dog Gay Pride
Ana isn’t thrilled with her Pride gear.
Ana was not happy to be gifted with a Santa costume.
Ana was not happy to be gifted with a Santa costume.
Ana in her "creationist dinosaur" costume. She won a prize!
Ana in her “creationist dinosaur” costume. She won a prize!

 

Ana isn’t Mona. She didn’t replace her, she simply gave us a chance to expand our hearts to love another dog in a different way. And as we deal with the realities of the older boys (‘the big dogs’) passing soon, we are revisiting some of those same issues. I don’t think Ana will be happy as an only dog – she needs companionship. My hope is that we’d be able to get a trained psychiatric service dog to support me AND Ana.

One of the real perks of this adoption is that her foster mama stays in touch with us via Facebook. And when we go out-of-town, we know that we can take Ana to her no matter what. Ana loves it, we know she’s fine and her foster family is happy to have her visit.

Ana was the first pet we adopted together. Two cats came after her (Coco and Precious) so we are definitely a blended family now.

It is sort of funny (but not) that our legal contract adopting Ana is more binding than any single relationship document that Laura and I have. Even our domestic partner documents with the City of Pittsburgh were thrown into a corner of the basement in the City-County building until someone far more important than I – a mere resident – got involved. But if we were to break up, the foster organization would have a vested interest in who got custody of Ana and they would enforce it.

That’s okay because Ana loves her two mums and we adore her.

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