The Mags & Finnick Post

September 3rd, 2012 11:29 am by Kelly Garbato

2011-09-11 - Another Afternoon Sunbathing - 0094

To date, this is the only picture we have of all seven dogs. Left to right: Jayne, Kaylee (back), Mags, O-Ren, Finnick, Ralphie (back), and Peedee.
——————————

I have seven dogs.

I have seven dogs.

Saucy FSM help me, I can’t help but feel like a hoarder every time I say that.

We – Shane and I – we were going to stop at five. Kaylee and Jayne were “planned,” in a manner of speaking: when we adopted them, we specifically set out to find a bonded pair of dogs who might be considered hard to place – not just because they came as a packaged deal, but preferably due to additional “special needs,” such as advanced age, ongoing medical issues, etc.

In Kaylee and Jayne, we found all of these and more: though her age was anyone’s guess, Kaylee seemed to fall into the senior category, and her sad, sorry teeth demanded a small fortune in repairs. Jayne was just recovering from heartworm. Though much younger than Kaylee, she was (is!) rather aloof, difficult to get close to, and more interested in chasing small animals than tennis balls. Unlike most dogs, Jayne isn’t a much of a people person. Both girls have issues with anxiety, possibly due to past neglect or abuse. (Of the neglect, we can be sure: along with a third dog, Kaylee and Jayne – or Grace and Penelope, as their foster mom named them – were abandoned in a rental until when their owners moved out. It was three weeks before the landlord found them.)

 

2012-08-31 - 2006 Kaylee & Jayne Mosaic

A few early pictures of Kaylee (top) and Jayne (bottom).
The pictures on the left are from their Petfinder listings.
——————————

All of these factors conspired against them – that is, until we showed up. We who viewed these hardships as reasons (just a few of many) why Kaylee and Jayne should be given a second chance at happiness, rather passed over as damaged goods. Damaged souls. I guess it was our way on atoning for all the highly adoptable dogs we’d taken in up to that point: young, healthy, wanted. Relatively speaking, that is. (The rep we worked with at DRNA – whose name, more than a decade later, escapes me – joked that she’d love to adopt Ralphie herself: “He’s the most well-behaved dachshund I’ve ever met!” This after just a four-hour transport ride with him.)

I could go on and on (trust me!), but suffice it to say that our decision to adopt Kaylee and Jayne – and O-Ren, Peedee, and Ralphie before them – was not taken lightly. We pondered, we discussed, we researched. Renting at the time, we ran it by our landlord and even had her sign a contract agreeing to the increase in canine tenants. (In exchange for a heftier deposit, of course!) We searched for months before finding Kaylee and Jayne – and then had to wait another month+ before bringing them home due to a previously scheduled trip.

In contrast, Mags and Finnick were spur of the moment; a complete accident. They started out as (unofficial, wishful) fosters and quickly became family members.

 

2012-08-31 - Mags & Finnick's Petfinder Listing

Mags & Finnick’s original Petfinder listing. (I saved it. I save everything!)
That’s Mags in the left/right/featured photo;
Finnick is the cowering figure in the middle thumbnail.
——————————

It was the Friday before Labor Day, 2011. I was sitting down to write my weekly Find-a-Friend Friday post when I stumbled upon the Petfinder listing for Mags and Finnick. (I wish I could remember the search parameters. Senior dogs? Special needs? Small dogs? It feels like so long ago. And yet, not so much.)

Of course, they weren’t called Mags and Finnick back then. Picked up as strays, they weren’t even lucky enough to receive temporary “placeholder” names. Numbers 20202 and 20203 they were; identifiers more suggestive of somethings than someones.

The listing caught my eye at once; possibly because they were a pair (and thus an immediately obvious sad sack case – or sadder than most), but also because they were a pair of rat terriers (for which I’ve developed an affinity due to dogs two through five) – and most importantly because Mags’s face so resembled that of Miss Kaylee (my favorite; shhhh! don’t tell the other dogs!) – or at least it did in the poorly shot photos included on Petfinder. (To this day I maintain that Mags is Kaylee’s doppleganger; Shane has ceased to see much of a resemblance.)

Right away I started to blog about them; they were the ones! Typing, cutting, pasting; and then I reached the final sentence in the listing: “Their time is up on 9-3-2011 after 2:00.” As I read this, it was around noon on September 2nd. Naturally, I interpreted this to mean that they had just over 24 hours left at the pound, at which point they would have overstayed their welcome and might be killed at any time. The overall tone of their listing – “they are [aggressive and] probably not adoptable”; we’re (only) putting their photos online in hopes that their owner will see them – didn’t make me feel especially optimistic about their chances, nor did their age (both were marked as seniors).

24 hours? Over a holiday weekend? Good luck with that!

Rather than write about them* – a useless exercise at best – I called Shane at his office and laid out the situation, expecting fully to be shot down. When he asked what I wanted to do, and I suggested possibly taking them in as fosters, he didn’t miss a beat. “Okay.”

 

2012-08-12 - Dogs & Stuff - 0030

Mags will kill you, alright: WITH HER CUTENESS!
——————————

Keep in mind that, in the 5+ years of doing this “Find-a-Friend Friday” thing, this isn’t the first time I’ve gone whining to him about a dog I’ve wanted desperately to rescue. More to have him disabuse me of my fantasies than anything else; after all, we can’t save everyone. But this? This time was different, somehow. Perhaps it was the urgency of the situation; there their kill date was, laid out in black and white – and so impossible to overcome.

As it happens, we were mistaken.** Upon calling the shelter to inquire about them, we learned that September 3rd was the deadline for their owners to reclaim them – after which time they’d become city property and (maybe) put up for adoption. In any other case, this would have been enough to reassure us – or at least delay us for a few weeks, to see if another adopter might step up – but it was questionable whether “#20202 & 03” would be made available for adoption, period. Since they were labeled aggressive to the point of being “unadoptable” – a sentiment reiterated several times in our phone conversations with pound employees – there still remained a chance that they might be killed once ownership reverted to the city. Alarmed – and convinced that their aggression was most likely due to the stress and fear of the situation – we made arrangements to trek out to St. Joseph and meet them the following day.

 

2011-11-11 - Dogs Outside - 0012

Finnick with…Kaylee.
Sadly, I have precious few photos of Mags and Finnick together.
He’s always on the move and she can’t keep up!
——————————

In those 24 hours before we met Mags and Finnick, we resolved that – if all worked out and they came home with us – it would temporary: we’d foster them until we found a more suitable home. A naive notion, given that we’d never before fostered any animal, canine or otherwise, nor did we have connections with an animal rescue group that might be able to help us arrange an adoption. Plus, there’s a reason we’ve never fostered any dogs – I don’t think I could give them up. (Recognizing the selfishness of that statement, let me also say that after Ralphie passes, I think we’ll start fostering cats. Cats also need foster homes – and I think I’d have an easier time letting them go. Whaddya want, I’m a dog person!)

After spending all of three minutes with them, we quickly went from “we are definitely fostering and rehoming these dogs” to “maybe we’ll try to rehome them, maybe we won’t.” Happy to be free of their prison cell, Mags and Fin were the picture of rat terrier excitement and energy. They jumped, they ran, they climbed on laps and planted kisses on human faces. We took them outside for a much-needed walk (Shane had to leave his driver’s license as collateral, something that strikes me as hilarious now), where they trotted the perimeter with noses to the ground – Mags included, despite her injured back hip. (At the time we mistook her slow, rigid gait for stiffness due to the extended confinement. Alas, an untreated injury. Yet another strike against this awesome little girl.) Nary a sign of aggression to be seen.

Most likely, any growling or snapping they exhibited was due to fear and stress, as anyone would be. Ripped from their family, thrown on the streets to fend for themselves, possibly starving – and then snatched up by a stranger and thrown in a cold, hard kennel, surrounded by the noise and stink of other dogs and terror and death. Not to imply that the St. Joe pound is unsanitary or overcrowded; rather, I imagine that this is the way all pounds seem – smell – to dogs. Scary places that are practically designed to bring out the worst in their charges.

 

2011-09-07 - Five Plus Two Equals SEVEN! - 0015

A rare, early photo of Finnick – before he learned to run from the camera.
——————————

(We later discovered that Finnick is highly fearful of cameras and DOES NOT LIKE to have his picture taken. It’s no wonder then that the volunteers were unable to snap a decent photo for their Petfinder listing, or to even open up the cage to attempt it. Just look at poor Fin, trying in vain to hide, with only a bed to shield him from the flash!)

And so we adopted them on the spot – at about 28 hours, it was by far our quickest adoption ever.

Unfortunately, they had to be checked out by a city-approved vet before we could take them home (understandable, but sucky for them) – and, since it was a holiday weekend, there was a bit of a delay. Mags had to be spayed as well, which added another day onto their stay. All in all, we weren’t able to bring them home until Wednesday. As with Kaylee and Jayne, the thought of Mags and Finnick languishing in cages when they had a new home was depressing as hell.

2011-09-07 - Mags & Finnick, Sprung - 0008

2011-09-07 - Five Plus Two Equals SEVEN! - 0023

Mags (left) and Finnick (right), investigating the yard and marking their territory (top)
and settling in (bottom, with Kaylee and Shane).
——————————

Once we got them home, all thoughts of rehoming quickly dissipated. Aside from a few to-be-expected kerfuffles – conflicts over foods and human attention, mostly – as well as an extended period of housetraining (Mags still has accidents overnight – but at least she gets down off the bed to do her biz!), things have gone rather smoothly. Mags and Fin fit right in with the family, and it’s obvious that they adore each other – it would have been a shame if they’d been separated. (Unlike Kaylee and Jayne, who act like near strangers six years later.) Mags especially has taken to the other dogs, particularly O-Ren and Peedee, both of whom she enjoys grooming as she does Finnick. (Rennie tolerates it; Peedee, not so much.)

 

2012-08-11 - Dogs Outside - 0103

Mags kisses! Don’t act like you don’t like it, Rennie!
——————————

More of a people dog, Fin is attached to Shane – such an unexpected turn of events, it’s practically unthinkable. Of the two of us, I’m the dog person in the family. While the dogs all love Shane, they prefer me (paws down!). Before Finnick, Shane never had a dog trailing him in, out, and around the house, no matter the time or context. I have three: Rennie, Kaylee, and Mags are my own little posse. (I’m a Posse Magnet, yo!) Kaylee even sleeps in the bathroom with me while I shower. Rennie would like to, but I don’t let her – she enjoys licking my wet (and later moisturized) legs, which feels gross and wrong and all kinds of creepy. So I lock her out, and she waits dutifully on the bed for me. I guess she’s found a companion in Mags.

 

2012-08-16 - Chasing Finnick - 0023

Shane and his canine BFF.
——————————

In Ozzy’s absence, Shane’s become so fond of Finnick that, had I carried through with our original plan to rehome them, I suspect he might have offered some push back. He’s never had a dog love him like this before.

Finnick’s instant and undying devotion to Shane has led us to believe that their previous person was mostly likely a man. The St. Joe vet went a step further, suggesting that they belonged to an elderly person who passed away. Rather than take the dogs in themselves, a family member simply abandoned them “in the country,” to fend for themselves. (As though these tiny scraps of dogs ever had a chance.) Apparently it’s something she’s seen before.

 

2011-09-21 - Dogs outside - 0060

Behold, Mags’s loose skin. I could make a whole ‘nother dog out of it!
——————————

This might also help to explain why they were once so fat, as evidenced by all that loose skin (on Mags especially, though pregnancy was probably a contributing factor as well). Too many treats, too little exercise. Nor were they initially leash-trained (though really, it’s hard to say that they were ever “bad” on a leash; how hard can a fifteen pound dog pull on a lead? not very!). While it’s still difficult to coax them into their harnesses, they’ve gotten much better on walks. They love trips to the park – they get even more excited about walks than peanut butter balls.

Both dogs were labeled senior, which of course made their placement all the more difficult; no one wants an “old” dog. Yet the more we get to know them, the less senior they seem. Finnick especially has that young dog, almost puppylike way about him: energetic, goofy, a little dumb (but in a charming way, of course). After getting wildly different – but equally vague – estimates from several different vets, we put them at nine and six years, respectively. I’d rather round up and find myself pleasantly surprised than round down and have my heart broken way too early, you dig?

 

2012-08-19 - Dogs Outside - 0022

This is where I’d like to embed a photo of Mags licking Fin’s eyes – only I don’t have one!
Instead: EARS!
——————————

Given how maternal she acts toward him (and now some of the other, younger dogs), I’m convinced that Mags is Fin’s mom. (Also, she wasn’t spayed and has clearly given birth at some point.) Shane thinks she’s an older sister. Either way, they are adorable together. Finnick tolerates behaviors from Mags that would leave him growling at other dogs: licking, grooming, space invading, pushiness. His only line is food; they are both very food motivated. Fat dogs stuck in skinny dog bodies.

 

2011-09-14 - Dogs outside - 0004

Peedee does not know what to think of this cocky young upstart!
——————————

As for Mags and Fin and the other dogs: everyone mostly gets on well – and right from the start, too! – save for Peedee, who adopted Finnick as his new arch-enemy. (On the plus side? He and Jayne, his previous nemesis, get on just fine now. I guess he can only hold one grudge at a time.) I think it’s because they’re so much alike: nervous, excitable, skittish. Ralphie stopped giving a shit about new dogs after Rennie, and he mostly ignores Mags and Fin. Kaylee’s jealous of all the attention Mags commands, but she’s starting to accept her. (Just in the last few weeks, she’s begun allowing Mags to lick her face, too. Progress!) Rennie is just the friendliest little thing, and she and Mags get along great together. Jayne, as always, exists on the margins; she doesn’t interact much with Mags or Fin, but tolerates them just fine.

 

2012-08-19 - Dogs Outside - 0028

Kaylee (right) and her doppelganger.
——————————

Though we still marvel at the pound labeling these tiny, friendly little dogs “unadoptable,” they do sometimes exhibit food-based aggression – strangely, it’s rarely over dog food, but people food: they do not like other dogs horning in on their imaginary territory. Finnick’s also rather jealous of Shane’s attentions – so I guess it’s a good thing that he latched onto the one human in the house who doesn’t have a pack of dogs following zher everywhere. Very little competition, save for the cat.

For such a dainty dog – she weighs all of ten pounds and has osteoarthritis, to boot! – Mags can be terribly bossy, even bullying at times. (Survival strategies for the runt of the litter, mayhap?) When you’re eating a particularly enticing foodstuff in front of her, she will sidle up next to you. Sit and stare. From deep down in that ridiculously oversized barrel chest of hers comes a low, steady (yet comical) grumble which, if left unchecked, will develop into the most annoying, ear-splitting yap-bark you’ve ever heard. “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” You can tell that she’s used to getting her way.

 

2012-05-08 - Mags, Mostly - 0009

Attempting to sunbathe on a chilly day.
——————————

She has other weird, quirky habits, too. When she approaches you for a good scratching, she’ll usually do so with her head down, as if in submission. At first I thought she was just shy, nut we’re well past that stage now, and yet the behavior persists. It’s faintly reminiscent of a goat giving a head-butt – and indeed, Finnick does the same when he’s feeling silly and playful. It’s weird and cute and I’m not quite sure what it means, but I love her all the more for it.

Also, Mags is so small that she cannot climb onto the couch herself; I have to give her a boost. Even though she wants me to pick her up – she asks me to, in her dogspeak – if I don’t remove my hands from her person quickly enough once she hits the couch, she’ll give a gentle bite. I say “gentle” because she doesn’t bite down, not really; most of the time she just puts my hand in her mouth. It’s more of a dismissal: “Your services are no longer required. I SAID GOOD DAY!” She’ll do the same if you ignore her requests for food: “Pay attention to me, I am speaking!” Mealtime is just a cacophony of barks – she puts Peedee, the previous champion, to shame. All of this is behavior I’m trying to discourage, of course, but it’s a long, slow process. (Pro tip: water bottles work wonders!)

Still, it’s hard to believe that the city made us sign a disclaimer releasing them from any liability should one or both dogs bite us. They’re no more aggressive than Rennie or Peedee, and certainly not threatening enough to warrant a death sentence.

 

2011-09-08 - Afternoon Sunshine - 0053

It’s like a rat terrier factory up in this joint!
Clockwise from the left: Kaylee, Peedee, Finnick, and Mags.
——————————

Anyway, in the autumn of their adoption, I spent nearly every nice day outside with them – playing, napping, dogsitting – while Shane tackled some chores around the yard. (Lest you think I’m lazy, I couldn’t have offered much assistance anyway because POISON IVY. I’m allergic, he’s not.) I discovered that Mags greatly enjoys sunbathing, chewing on discarded sticks, and rolling in dry leaves. Finnick began his pattern of pining for dad early; oh, so close but still so far away! (His stare? Obsessive.)

 

2012-08-12 - Dogs & Stuff - 0009

Rolling in the grass. Tracking hay into the house. Making more work for mum.
Nothing to see here.
——————————

It was around this time – once we named them, we knew for a fact that Mags and Finnick had become our forever dogs – that I started reassessing my priorities. Though the extra work required of Mags and Finnick hasn’t increased proportionally to their numbers, caring for seven dogs is definitely more time-consuming than caring for five dogs. More time spent walking, training, cooking, and cleaning. (Oh, the cleaning! My house is perpetually carpeted with dog hair.) I’ve come to view my responsibilities toward them as a second job – no, my full-time job – even though it’s not something I get paid for, it’s important work. Though I often dislike how closely my marriage has come to mirroring traditional gender roles – the husband works outside the home (though in truth Shane works from home most of the time) and brings home the (fakin’) bacon, while the wife inhabits the domestic sphere, assuming responsibility for unpaid housework – in truth, caring for nonhuman animals is (a large part of) what I want to do. Today, dogs. Tomorrow, goats.

 

2012-07-21 - Mags (will not go quietly) - 0005

Mags, will not go into the pond quietly.
——————————

Dogs are great. They don’t argue with you, don’t insult you, don’t make impossible demands. They don’t systemically oppress others “just because” or insist that they’re superior to all other life forms. They eat their vegan food and they like it. They love fiercely and unconditionally – and if you’re having a bad day, they just love you harder. Dogs are awesome. The best. And my dogs? They’re what’s most important to me now. Where all else is concerned, I’m burned out.

 

2012-08-11 - Dogs Outside - 0018

Ralphie, standing on the cusp of fifteen.
Because I can’t publish a dog post absent a photo of The Ralphster!
——————————

Dogs and food and books – that’s what I’m about lately. This is what I’m reflecting on this Labor Day weekend, as we approach the one-year anniversary of Mags and Finnick’s adoption. Each of them – Ralphie, Peedee, Rennie, Kaylee, Jayne, Mags, and Finnick – has made my life richer, each in his or her own unique way. Ralphie has shown me the delicate grace of caring for an aging loved one. From Peedee I’ve learned patience and empathy – in him I see my own anxieties, snarling, raw, magnified. Kaylee, Rennie, and Mags – they are my kin. My sisters. Friends. They are who I might have become, had I been born into a different, furrier body. Jayne is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a pair of half-pointy, half-floppy ears. She’s to be cherished for what she is not, as well as all that she is. Finnick is a reminder that I can’t fulfill everyone’s needs; no one person can. Let go. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

I meant to write the “Mags & Finnick Post,” as I’ve come to call it in my head, in the days and weeks after their adoption. Here it is, a year later, and I’m cramming to get it done in time. The rain – the first in weeks, remnants of Hurricane Isaac – has certainly helped on this front. If not for the stormy weather, I’d be outside with the dogs: taking Mags swimming as part of her water therapy, tossing the ball with Ren, trying and failing to acclimate Finnick to the camera. I can’t believe it’s been a year. I can’t believe it’s only been a year.

Home. We’re home.

 

2012-01-24 - While I Was Out - 0002

2012-01-24 - While I Was Out - 0003

2012-01-24 - While I Was Out - 0004

2012-01-24 - While I Was Out - 0011

While mom was out: wreaking havoc. As a family.
——————————

* The dog I ended up writing about that day – one eyed Jack – is still available for adoption. FYI.

** That sentence was changed to a less confusing “They will become city property on 9-3-2011 after 2:00.” after our conversation.

*** Named after the District Four Victors in The Hunger Games. Down with the whitewashing!

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “The Mags & Finnick Post”

  1. Molly Says:

    Such a great post about your pack! I laughed when I read how Rennie isn’t allowed in the bathroom when you take a shower. :)

    Hugs & belly rubs to all of your sweeties. xoxo

  2. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Thanks Molly! Been thinking of you. {{hugs}}

  3. Eighteen Little Mags & Finnick Things » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] Enough with that. This is supposed to be a happy occasion, dammit! Last year I write about how Mags and Finnick came to live with us; this year, it’s eighteen little Mags and Finnick things. One shiny little thing for each of […]

  4. Twenty Little Mags & Finnick Things » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] three years ago today Shane and I did something crazy and decided to adopt dogs six and seven. I can still recall that felling of “WHAT THE FUCK […]

Leave a Reply