Those of you who follow us on Facebook know what I mean when I say “a funny thing happened on Friday” but let me set the stage for the rest of you. So…have you ever considered sponsoring a dark-complexioned foreign exchange student (from the foreign shores of Greeley, Colorado-trust me, that town’s a world away even though it’s a mere 49 miles northeast of Denver)? Me neither but our world was about to change.
For many months, I’ve been contemplating the addition of a baby brother or sister for Sam. I’ve looked at a number of dogs that might be suitable for us with no luck. For one reason or another, none of those other pups seemed to fit. But that didn’t stop me from still trying to find a sibling for the doofus. I knew I didn’t want a new puppy so limited the search to Standard Poodle rescue groups across the country, looking at hundred’s of dogs.
I had a small connection with the lady who runs the Poodle Rescue of the Rockies who happens to also be a breeder, shows them and is a big lover of standard poodles. She was friends with the former CFO at work whose wife bred show quality champion Standards. And it was quite by happenstance that I actually met Jeanne at a local dog show a few years ago and have stayed in touch with her over the years. Purebred Standards aren’t exactly plentiful in the rescue area-there are far more hybrid dogs. Jeanne might get a few in a year but every time I contacted her, the answer was still the same, “Nope, nothing right now, but I’ll keep you in mind if something comes up.” Then over a month ago, I called and heard this, “We’re getting in 6 standards from a puppy mill from up north but it’ll be a while before they’re ready. Keep in touch and we’ll see what we can do.” So I kept in touch. In fact, I called every week, “Are they ready now?” was my new mantra. Finally the week came where I could meet two females from the group. Color me overjoyed.
When the dogs came in, Jeanne named the females Hope, Faith, Charity, and Love. We came to the conclusion a female would be a better choice with Sam so we proceeded on that basis. I met Love who everyone called Lovey first. She was a gorgeous girl, as tall as Sam though very skinny with a regal face and half tail. Faith was a bit smaller and all of the dogs came from the same breeding hell-hole (aka puppy mill farm in Greeley) where the 92-year-old owner passed away. The dogs were filthy, matted, and completely unsocialized. Picture the worse, times two. Faith was more aloof but making progress much in the same way as Lovey. I felt Lovey would be a better companion with Sam and the two met. After the initial “sniff, sniff…yup…it’s a dog” reaction, I watched this girl to see if she and I would connect. Something inside me said…”this is the one.” Every few days, I reached out to Jeanne to express my continued interest and see where they were in the process of rehoming. A couple of people had contacted her before me and I was afraid I might end up being a bridesmaid yet again.
Lovey was temporarily placed with a foster while Faith stayed with Jeanne. After a freak accident involving electrical arching from a transformer at the foster’s home, Jeanne took Lovey back so as to minimize the stress. However the 19 (yes, count ’em) 19 firefighters and all the activity associated with determining the house was safe to inhabit, overwhelmed poor Lovey causing her to stress out to the point that she needed to be hospitalized and given medication to stop the dehydrating diarrhea. Then the medication caused her to suffer a reaction and resulted in an evening of seizures. Once the vet diagnosed it was a reaction and not some other medical issue (i.e. epilepsy, etc.), the meds were stopped and the seizures disappeared as quickly as they began. Poor Lovey though lost a bit of weight and needed to be nursed back to health. Last week Jeanne called and said she’d like to see how Sam and Lovey interact together since she thought a ‘big brother’ would be critical to her socialization. The impression I was left with was this was strictly a meet and greet session. We arrived mid-afternoon and were greeted by a number of standard poodles (Jeanne had 6 she was either placing, boarding or part of her own pack). It was doggie Disneyland and Sam was overjoyed at the prospects of ‘playtime with poodles.’ Lovey was used to that commotion and romped with all the big dogs. In true Sam fashion, he was just keen at the chase part.
The meeting went great, and while the dogs interacted, we talked about Lovey’s past and future. After a couple of hours, Jeanne asked, “well, are you ready to take her home tonight?” Wait…what? I thought this was just a meet and greet?! Long story short, we filled out the paperwork, gathered up her pup paraphernalia and loaded up the car.
She was a great traveler (unlike a certain Standard who loves the idea of riding in the car, but just can’t stand the actual moving part. She sat in the back seat checking out EVERYTHING. Nothing seems to escape this girl, she’s curious and needs to check out whatever is in her view. She’s quiet and remarkably calm. My hat’s off to the foster mom and her son for working with her. We had a couple of conversations about her progress and I continue to be awed at what a great job they did while she stayed with them.
Apart from trying to figure out how to accommodate this newbie who was thought to be about 4 years old, we needed to figure out an appropriate name. Lovely wasn’t gonna cut it. With her regal stature, I felt like she needed something noble. Girl names seem to be in short supply from what I could determine to fit the bill. Sure there are 87 million cool boy names, but girl names…that was another story. I knew it couldn’t be some fluff name but what? Finally I landed on “Elsa von Furstenberg,” Elsa for short. Hey, don’t laugh…poodles originated in Germany so I figured, a German name would be just the ticket. I nixed Brunhilda though right off the bat. So apparently…it seems there was a
“little” Disney movie where the heroine was named Elsa recently (had I known, I might have gone deeper on the list-yeah there are actual lists of German names for dogs (and cats, too). Think the top 100 baby names. Oy. Anyway, I came up with a regal name (which means noble and it describes this girl to a tee) from the top third of the list after we couldn’t seem to agree on anything (one name was “Misha” to which I said…blech).
These past few days have been a whirlwind for Sam and I. We’re trying to figure out what makes this girl tick. Is she housebroken or not (we’re still asking that question and hoping for a positive answer soon)? Trying to access the personality of a puppy mill dog isn’t easy and you must have the patience of Job. They are easily spooked, have no experience with everyday stuff that seems obvious and yet they are somewhat of a blank slate for the future given the right training. One thing that was a lovely discovery is she walks well on leash, though she continues to not realize ‘you can’t ever cross the streams” (as in cross the leashes with Sam and behind mom’s back) but we’re working on it. I took her and Sam through our neighborhood Farmer’s Market on Sunday and she was a rock star. Elsa is very bright and has a high desire to please (unlike a certain furry brother). She’s figured out that she rather enjoys all the attention she’s garnering through her good looks and was curious and patient while people fawned all over her. I was blown away. I don’t even like that much going on and she was showing me the ropes!
So bottom line last Friday, I rescued a ‘little girl foreign exchange student’ who I will make sure is fully legal and hope you’ll enjoy hearing stories about her and who knows, maybe if she shows some aptitude, I’ll turn the laptop over to her for her perspective. Right now, Sam is thinking, “gee, everything was great at Doggie Disneyland, but did we have to bring her home?” That and “so how long is this semester and when does she go back to that foreign land?”
When you see pics like this, you know everything’s gonna be all good.
Live, love, bark! <3