Time to account for the "beasts" part of this blog. Today, Black Jack's story.
The first picture I saw of her.
It was on www.petfinder.com - if you haven't heard of this site, it's worth a look.
It had been two years since Scott, my last dog, had died. As with my dog before him, I said, "Never again." But this time, I was really serious. I even moved into a "no pets" building. When I found myself wandering up to complete strangers on the street, asking if I could pet their dogs, I began to read the pet forum at Craigslist and that took me pretty quickly to the petfinder site. Craigslist also found me a pet-friendly apartment building near my job (Bill wasn't part of my life at that time) in North Vancouver. Then, the three-month search for a dog began in earnest. My experience with rescue organizations is a story for another day, but for now, I'll just tell you about "Ginger's Deathrow Rescue" in Seattle. Ginger drives down to California every couple of months to a high-kill shelter where they kill about 50 dogs every other day. Small dogs are the most unwanted - there are kazillions of them. She selects a dozen or so from the ones slated for that particular day, and brings them back to Seattle. She has foster people that help her out, and after the dogs are vet-checked and neutered, she posts their photos on the internet. Look back for a sec at that picture of Black Jack. Now, take a look at my last dog, Scott.
Scott, a month after he was adopted from the Montreal SPCA
My choice was made. Black Jack (that was the name she had been given) appeared to be a miniature version of Scott. I had had only two requirements when I went to petfinder. They both had to do with size. I wanted a dog that I could carry on my bike (Scott was a greyhound-X and 70 pounds), and I wanted a dog that could fly in cargo with me, should I want to travel. After a long series of e-mails to Ginger, neither of us were sure that Black Jack was small enough to go in cargo, but by that time, I was in love. I decided to drive down to Seattle to meet her. That was more of an adventure than you might expect. I had been in Vancouver for almost ten years, and had only driven once, and that in my first year here, when I had rented a car to show my visiting mother around. So, it had been at least 8 years since I had driven, and added to that was the fact that I hadn't been across the American border since leaving Montreal. I had kept my driver's license though, so it was no trouble to rent a car. In fact, my perfect driving record:) made it very easy. I got the car on a Friday night, drove around town a bit that evening to get the feel of driving again, made a stop at the dog bakery on Denman street to buy a $200 bed (I told you I was smitten) and left at six the next morning for Seattle. I stopped on the way to buy a pet carrier, a dish and some treats, and my next stop was at the foster mom's place on a rural road a half hour or so past Seattle. I sat down to have a cup of coffee with Tawnya and her husband. She has to be one of the hardest working ladies I've met in a while. There were oodles of dogs running around, some in pens outside and another dozen or so inside. She brought Black Jack into the kitchen and she immediately jumped in my lap and settled down. From that point on, I knew I wouldn't be leaving without her. As we went down the steps of Tawnya's house, Black Jack took off running and the leash flew right out of my hand. There were a heartstopping few moments, as she crossed the road and looked to be heading into the forest. Instead, she dashed under a huge parked truck, and I finally managed to get to the other side of the truck and she ran right into my arms. No more mistakes after that. I knew that I had a little escape artist, and prepared myself accordingly. Once in the car, Black Jack settled into her new bed and went to sleep. No need for the carrier. We were off.
Here are just a couple of pictures to show you Black Jack does travel great on my bike, and she's even learned to play ball. I'm really sorry that none of the pictures enlarge when you click on them. A few of them do in my first two entries, but I can't figure out any rhyme or reason as to when they will enlarge and when they are only thumbnails. (If anyone has any helpful advice for posting pictures, it would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to use both Flickr and Photobucket, and taking the pics from IPhoto on my IMac) Here she is, when Bill and I took her on our cycling trip to Vancouver Island, a couple of weeks ago. This is our first night in Beacon Hill Park and she has just sighted a squirrel. I love the way she's sitting up so straight.
Squirrel sighting, in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria.
And here she is two days later on the Galloping Goose trail, on the way to Sooke. We stopped every 45 minutes or so to let her out of the carrier for some run-around time. She loved the trip every bit as much as Bill and I did. I highly recommend this for any of you who love cycling but want to relax and enjoy the scenery too. It's a flat trail with beautiful lookout points and the most peaceful surroundings you could ever ask for.
Riding the Galloping Goose trail
Finally, one picture of Black Jack playing ball. It's a huge accomplishment for us. First of all, she couldn't be allowed off her leash at all for the first 8 or 9 months with me. Secondly, the ball held no interest, nor did any sort of play initiation, for a very long time. Each time I took out the ball, her posture said as clearly as could be, "You go chase that thing if you think it's so great."
Whoops! Overshot it again.
She does catch a good number now, and just to mention some of our guesses as to her breed background. I was told she was probably a Chihuahua and pug combination, but I would add some sort of terrier to that mix. You may wonder about the pug part, but when she is relaxed, her tail is a corkscrew. It uncurls somewhat in the passion of the chase but kinks right back up the moment the ball is in her possession.
More about Black Jack and the other beautiful beasts in my life another day.