animals, dogs

Another week of not much to report…

This time of year, especially during a pandemic, is for the birds. The weather is wet, cold, and yucky. Add in the crazily contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19, and Germany’s ever changing pandemic rules, and it’s tough to keep a travel blog going.

We did have a couple of fun developments this week, though. The less exciting one is that Noyzi and Arran got baths yesterday. That may not seem like a big deal, except that it was only Noyzi’s third bath in his lifetime, and he’s already about three years old. He was getting kind of stinky. I keep watching dog grooming videos on YouTube, and the groomer is always talking about how important it is to groom one’s pets. I decided that it was time for Noyzi to get a bath, and we decided to bathe Arran, too. Now, both of them smell much better, and Noyzi’s coat is all soft and shiny. He likes baths, too, so that’s a good thing. I would hate to have to wrestle him in the tub at his size. He’s a big boy. Incidentally, Noyzi loves to watch dog grooming videos. He’s as fascinated by them as I am, although for different reasons.

The more exciting development is that my husband’s daughter found out that she’s expecting another son in a few months. She announced the gender in a really cute way… using pink and blue ice cream cups. I know she’s excited, as are Bill and his mother, who were kept out of her life for many years. I am excited too, I guess. I knew she was carrying a boy, just like I knew she was pregnant before she announced it, just because Bill had said she looked like she was glowing on a Skype call back in September.

I’m feeling a little down today, for a lot of reasons, so I’m going to keep this post short. I hope next week, I’ll be a little less depressed.

Apparently, she’s been craving pickles a lot.

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anecdotes, animals, dog rescue, dogs, emergencies

Pet pandemonium pauses our promenade!

Today is Bill’s birthday, and we have wonderful weather this morning. Yesterday, it rained most of the day, and the dogs didn’t get their walk until the afternoon. I was going to take them for a walk this morning and actually got underway. But our plans were abruptly thwarted by other people’s pets.

It started with an unusually brave white cat, who was loitering on our path. I saw the cat first, as it was big as life clinging to the wall. The cat saw Arran and Noyzi, but didn’t seem to be afraid. Cats usually run when they see my dogs, but this one was pretty defiant. He or she pinned their ears, arched their back, and probably hissed. I couldn’t tell, because Noyzi had just noticed. Arran, super hound cat buster that he is, was a bit like Barney Fife this morning. He was the last to see the white feline, who was warily watching the boys.

And then, just as I thought we might make it down the hill, along comes our neighbor dog, Tommi, the friendly Labrador. He charged up to Arran and Noyzi, completely unattended, although he was at least wearing a collar. Hot on his heels was our neighbor’s mother, a slim lady I’ll call Oma. I’m guessing she’s in her 70s. She speaks English well and is very nice, but she’s probably not strong enough to be walking a rambunctious young Lab. And, in fact, she wasn’t walking him. She had treats with her, but no leash.

Naturally, the dogs went nuts. The cat did not go nuts. I kept waiting for it to run away, but it just kept staring down the dogs. Noyzi was facing the wrong way as I tried to lead him away from the tantalizing pussycat…

The funny thing is, I have been using two regular nylon leashes and a harness with Noyzi because he’s a rescue from Kosovo and still pretty afraid of a lot of things. I attach one leash to his collar and one to his harness, in case I drop one. I might then have a prayer of stopping Noyzi before he bolts for the Autobahn.

Noyzi’s walking manners have improved a lot; he’s become much less fearful and wants to run more. Last week, on two occasions, he tried the retractable tape leash I currently use with Arran and used to use with Zane. I waited a long time to try the retractable leash with Noyzi because he’s so much bigger and stronger than were either Arran or Zane, or both of them together.

We did have some success with the tape leash last week. Noyzi seemed to get the concept of running just a little bit ahead and not charging off so fast that he pulls me over. I was going to try the tape leash again today, but a little voice in my head told me to use the two leash system instead. It might have just been sheer laziness, since I already had the nylon leashes out and ready to use.

Well… that second leash was a God send this morning, because Tommi was completely out of control! First, he greeted my dogs with boisterous jumps, crotch sniffing, and tail wags, and Noyzi, of course returned the favor. Then he ran over to some guy working on his car. Oma grabbed for Tommi’s collar, but it somehow slipped off. She finally got it back on him and started trying to drag him away, yelling at him and spanking him all the while. Tommi was not at all fazed by the corporal punishment.

Meanwhile, that damned white cat was STILL defiantly sitting there, watching everything unfold, completely unbothered! A lady with a baby carriage was about to come down the hill, but thought better of it when she saw and heard all of the commotion. Arran was braying like a seal/donkey hybrid. Noyzi was yipping excitedly, dancing around like a whirling dervish. And Tommi, who has developed a full on Labrador bark, was telling off the cat and trying to give chase. He ran behind the bushes and Oma went after him, shouting in German, trying to grab his collar.

I suddenly realized I had that second leash, so I quickly unsnapped it and handed it to Oma, who thanked me profusely as she attached it to Tommi’s collar. The whole lot of us then turned toward home, because I had worked up a sweat and wanted the dogs to calm down a bit, and Oma wanted to get Tommi back to a place where he wasn’t running amok. I also obviously needed that second leash back! Arran helpfully took a big dump at the top of the hill, so he probably feels better. Oma was showing off Tommi to a group of school kids who had heard and witnessed some of the show.

Oma explained to me that her 18 year old granddaughter (whom Noyzi LOVES) has to study for exams. And the man and the lady of the house are on vacation. Oma’s son told her not to walk Tommi because he’s so strong, but she said there’s no one else who can do it. I don’t actually think she was trying to walk him this morning. I think he snuck out of the house.

Just like his Labrador predecessor, Levi, used to do, sometimes Tommi comes over to our house. We can see him through the glass. The dogs go nuts! It might do them all well to have a play session and wear each other out a little! Tommi is very sweet, but I think he might need a trainer. But I’m not about to suggest it, because I’m sure they don’t need me to tell them that… I did notice that Oma petted Arran, who was the calmest of the lot, which is really saying something, if you know him. On the other hand, Arran is old and rather petite, so it’s not too hard to keep him in line.

Anyway, I guess that incident was a sign from God to keep using the two leash system on Noyzi for a bit longer… if only so Oma can wrangle Tommi when he gets loose! And you’ll be proud to know that I managed to get some video footage of all of this, too.

And now that I’ve cooled off and calmed down, maybe we’ll try again.

Edited to add: We just had our walk. It was much less chaotic.

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animals, dogs, drugs, Germany, veterinary care

Arran’s recovery is a bit rocky…

Poor Arran has had a rough week. A few days ago, after we came home from Heidelberg, he gashed himself after running under a bush with low branches. That encounter led to an hours long ordeal at the Tierklinik Hofheim, which is a really good veterinary hospital near us. He wasn’t that badly hurt, but there were a lot of sick animals that night, and Bill had to wait for them to be treated first.

Bill got to the emergency clinic at 9:30pm and got home at 4:30am, armed with antibiotics and painkillers. Arran had to have five stitches on his left shoulder, right near where he has a lipoma. He tore a big gash through all of his skin layers, so the emergency vet had to remove a flap of skin and debride the wound.

Arran was basically fine on Monday and Tuesday. He was eating, drinking, and demanding his walk. Then yesterday, at about noon, he vomited all over Bill’s side of our bed. Luckily, I managed to push him to the edge, so the mess wasn’t as bad as it could have been. When he had his dinner last night, he threw up again, although he never lost his appetite or his crankiness toward Noyzi.

Bill and I figured maybe the antibiotic was affecting him, since I had read that vomiting and diarrhea are side effects of Kesium, which is what he was taking, along with Metacam for the pain. Then this morning, after an uneventful night, Bill gave Arran a little bit of food. And yes, you guessed it, a couple of hours later, he puked again.

We already had an 8:30am appointment for him to visit the vet to have his stitches checked. Bill took him in and was back home very quickly. I was feeling dread, given that Arran is about 12 years old. But Arran surprised us by romping into the house, obviously feeling great. He did a play bow and smiled at me as he ran into the living room.

The vet gave him an injection of antibiotics, an injection of painkillers, and something for his stomach. It’s obviously all kicked in. Bill says the vet thinks the nausea is caused by the last of the sedation Arran had on Monday morning, exiting his system. I don’t know why it wouldn’t have bothered him on Monday and Tuesday, but hell, I’m not a vet. Anyway, the antibiotic was directly injected into his bloodstream, so it’s not sitting in his stomach. He’s had that drug before and it didn’t bother him. Maybe he’s developed an intolerance.

We’ll bring him back to the vet on Saturday for another shot. Hopefully the stitches can come out a few days after that. The wound seems to be healing nicely.

Meanwhile, Noyzi seems to have a touch of diarrhea today, and it’s raining pretty steadily. He came upstairs at about 4:00am, obviously eager to go outside. Bill let him out and he was quick to do his business. This morning, I see a little residual diarrhea. I’m not sure why he has the runs, but I’m grateful that he came to tell us that he needed to go outside. He’s such a good dog!

This was when I noticed the gash Sunday night.
His “walk dance” on Tuesday.

I suspect it will be a cozy day today, once I do my dreaded and hated Thursday chore of vacuuming.

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animals, dog rescue, dogs, Kosovo

Beastie BESTIES!

Another week has passed of Germany’s lockdown. I do my best to get my entertainment wherever I can find it. Nowadays, it seems my best chances for live entertainment are in the backyard. As you can see, Tommi the lab puppy still enjoys being a “peeping Tom”. He looks in on Noyzi and Arran all the time.

A few days ago, we ran into my neighbor’s mom, who also lives in the neighborhood. She looks after Tommi while my neighbor works. Noyzi and Tommi had an adorable meeting. It was obvious they wanted to play. Arran, of course, was very cranky and wanted no part of the shenanigans.

Below is a video of a couple of Tommi’s visits. People seem to like the Noyzi videos, even though they’re pretty similar. I would like to make some music videos soon. I just have to decide what I want to try. I’ll have plenty of time undisturbed, since Bill has to work TDY for three weeks. I hate it when he goes away for long stretches, but it does give me the opportunity to do some creative stuff without interruption. I’ll probably practice more guitar while he’s gone, too.

Noyzi and Tommi are confirmed pals… and Tommi still loves to visit under the fence.

I might also add some travel posts, since this lockdown just HAS to end soon. I read a really sad story about German hoteliers trying to keep going while people aren’t allowed to stay for leisure purposes. They must be very scared about the future and trying to survive. Bill is giving the hotel in Grafenwoehr three weeks worth of business, but it sure as hell isn’t a pleasure trip.

Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to keep Arran going as I also try to teach Noyzi that he doesn’t have to be afraid of everything… like the television. Today’s featured photo is of Noyzi, who until a few days ago, had never been to that part of the bedroom. In fact, I don’t think he’d ever really come into the room. He’s afraid of the TV. He seems to think the people in them will get him. Meanwhile, Arran has had some tummy troubles lately, so he went to the vet the other day. I have to drop off a sample of his poop on Monday so we can see if he picked up a parasite. The joys of mundane, monotony… and I get to do it all alone throughout March. I’ve already told Bill I’m probably going to buy some new toys while he’s gone.

Hopefully, it won’t be much longer before we get vaccinated and things might be a bit more normal. I am so ready to travel. My poor car keeps dying because I never drive anywhere.

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animals, dog rescue, dogs, Kosovo

Tommi is about to break on through to the other side…

Here’s a quick post to update my last one about how our neighbor’s puppy has discovered a breach in the fence. A couple of days ago, we had a glorious and rare sunny day. I let the dogs out, and sure enough, we soon saw Tommi the lab puppy sticking his head under the fence. He’s very determined! He’s still growing, though, so I don’t know how much longer he’ll be able to do this.

I’m actually surprised Noyzi isn’t standing right by the fence to greet him. He actually backed away a bit as Tommi continued to engage. I suppose it’s time we got some cinder blocks or something. In other news, Noyzi just let Bill his harness on without any help from me, whatsoever! This may seem like a small thing, but he’s been terrified of Bill ever since we brought him home and until very recently, there was no hope of putting him on a leash without my assistance. So that’s another breakthrough. We’ve really been enjoying his personality, lately. He’s starting to show us who he is.

The last forty seconds of this video show Tommi, the cute Lab puppy, trying so hard to visit. It almost feels like a metaphor for the whole COVID-19 nightmare. We all want to visit, Tommi.

Aside from the cold, rainy, depressing weather and Noyzi’s antics, not much else is going on. The crappy weather continues. The lockdown continues. My beer gut keeps expanding. I watch more bad TV and dream of the day when I can post some more adventures that involve actual travel. The one consolation is that I know we’re all pretty much in this shitty boat right now. I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to see a lot of Europe before the pandemic started. I would hate to be a young bride coming here for the first time, eager to travel, and forced to stay at home for months on end. It sucks. At least the weather is bad enough that I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere anyway, even if we weren’t locked down.

Here are a few more photos of Noyzi, who is learning that the iPad won’t kill him. He’s learned to strike a pose and is quite handsome. I think he knows it, too… and uses his charms to score people food. I love giving him bites of food. It’s like dropping letters in a mailbox. His mouth is so big, and he opens it like a maw!

And here are a couple of photos I took on our most recent walk together. As you can see, the water is HIGH! It’s gross in the backyard… totally sloppy and messy.

I look forward to drying out.

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animals, dog rescue, dogs, Kosovo

Noyzi’s savior… a sunflower planted in the right place

By savior, I mean the man who saved Noyzi’s life when he was unceremoniously dumped on a street in Pristina one day in 2018. Noyzi’s very first rescuer is a young man named Florent who has a habit of taking care of street dogs. There are many homeless dogs in Kosovo, and a lot of people don’t like them. So Florent does what he can to help them. He gets some help from others who like dogs, like my American friend Meg, who was responsible for bringing Noyzi into our lives. Meg used to live in Kosovo and has many contacts in the countries that were once collectively known as Yugoslavia.

Kosovo’s population is mostly Muslim. On the whole, the Muslim culture doesn’t value canine companionship. There are also many poor people living in Kosovo. Many of the dogs that have value in Kosovo are working dogs, rather than pets. At the same time, spaying and neutering pets is not a popular practice.

Just last week, someone dumped three female puppies near Florent’s house. Meg has told me it’s because females get pregnant and people don’t want to deal with pregnant dogs. I saw a picture of the female puppies that were rescued in another part of Pristina last week. They look like could be Noyzi’s sisters, and they are just as young and tiny as he was when he was found… about four weeks old. They’re lucky they were simply dumped. I read a horrifying account of what regularly happens in nearby Albania, when it’s time to cull street dogs. A woman from New Zealand who lives in Albania rescued a street dog and blogged about it, as well as the plight of beautiful Albanian dogs who roam the street and are horribly abused or killed in very inhumane ways. Parvo virus is also a constant threat to puppies in Kosovo.

This is Noyzi’s namesake!

So there I was last night, newly friends with Florent, and he was telling me about Noyzi, and how he got his name. Kosovo is a “brother nation” to Albania. The people who live there are mostly ethnically Albanian and speak Albanian. There is a rapper in Albania whose name is Noizy. Florent says he likes Noizy’s music, and the dog, Noyzi, was kind of noisy when he was found. He’s not very noisy anymore. I did change the spelling of Noyzi’s name for a couple of reasons. First off, I’m a spelling nerd, and kept wanting to write Noisy instead of Noizy. And secondly, on his paperwork, it’s spelled Noyzi. I figured it would be easier to keep it spelled as it is on his documents. I had originally meant to change Noyzi’s name, but I could not think of an appropriate new name for him. Now that I know that the name has a connection to his homeland, I’m glad we kept it.

Around the time we first got Noyzi, Meg told me a bit about how she came to take him into her rescue. I wrote about that on my original blog. It was back in October, just a few days after we finally had him in our home, when I was thinking about how the stars aligned for us to have this dog from Kosovo in our family. We’d been waiting a long time for a new dog to come into our lives after we lost our sweet beagle, Zane, on August 31, 2019. We tried to adopt another beagle in March of 2020, but that experience ended in senseless tragedy. About a month later, April of last year, I saw Noyzi’s picture for the first time. There was something about his face that touched my heart. I wanted to know more about him. Before I knew it, I was agreeing to adopt him.

It took six months until we were finally able to get Noyzi and bring him home. That adventure, which happened in early October, involved going to Slovenia to pick him up. That was the last time I left our neighborhood… and the last time I was in a car. COVID-19 has really altered my lifestyle in so many ways. A year ago, we were planning trips to France. Now, we’re waiting until it’s safe to travel… and instead of writing about our adventures in other countries, I’m writing about this big, sweet, skittish, and shy dog from a country not everyone even recognizes. And I literally haven’t been anywhere in months since we brought him home. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t bother me that much.

Last night, while many of my friends and loved ones were reeling from the drama happening in our country, I was sitting in Germany, and Florent was telling me about what it’s like to live in Kosovo. According to Florent, Kosovo is kind of like a “jail”, which is only good for people who are wealthy or politically affiliated. Maybe Donald Trump ought to look into moving there, since it seems like no one else wants him. On the other hand, Florent makes it sound like Kosovo has more than enough problems. I got the sense that maybe he’d like to move somewhere else. I understand how that feels. I was ready to leave the United States in 2014, and that was before I knew what was on the horizon.

Florent shared a couple of videos of the tiny puppy version of Noyzi, greedily eating kibble and yogurt. I can see that he’s always loved food, although it took him awhile to learn the concept of treats and “people food” in our house. He will let Bill pet him and give him a treat, but only if he’s in his bed. The bed seems to be his safe zone, and he stays there almost all the time. But he will come to me for treats and snacks, and to be walked. He loves taking walks, though I had to teach him about leashes and show him that they aren’t meant to hurt him. He will let Bill walk him, but only if I put the harness on him. He won’t let Bill do it.

Although his savior was a man, Noyzi doesn’t like men. When he sees male strangers on the street, he panics, and will backpedal or try to bolt. When we first got Noyzi, he used to get so scared that he’d pee involuntarily. Some things would literally scare the piss out of him. That behavior has stopped, which is a blessing. However, I have never needed to house train him. He naturally goes outside to do his business. Noyzi also doesn’t like sudden movements or noises. It’s like he has PTSD. And yet he’s so sweet and basically well-behaved. He doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body. He keeps himself clean, and even takes care of the dog toys, “saving” them from our other dog, Arran, who likes to destroy them. Noyzi will grab them when Arran isn’t looking and stack them in his bed, like they’re his friend.

Noyzi has been acting more like a normal dog lately. He loves to run around the yard, especially before and after a dump or a walk. He loves being brushed, and although he’s so far only had one bath, he does enjoy being bathed. Once he realized that warm water feels good and being scrubbed is a pleasant experience, he was happy to sit in the shower and get clean. Florent told me that street dogs are very smart. They know what it’s like to have no food or water or love… so when they find a home, they adapt fast. Florent also told me that he had rescued a dog that ended up going to one of our soon to be President Joe Biden’s friends. I can believe it, since there are Americans who work in Kosovo. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of them, working in government service, took one of Florent’s rescues.

Our conversation went on for about an hour or so, and then Florent said something that was very profound to me. He told me that he rescues dogs because “they are angels, and God is testing us with them. And if we help them, God will love us.” I remember being a senior in high school, when the Eastern Bloc was falling apart. My government teacher, Mr. Jim Eccleston, was talking about the fall of the Iron Curtain, and described Albania as the “Iron Lampshade”, since all of the other countries were opening up and Albania was the one holdout. At one time, it was the site of the harshest and most repressive Communist regime in Europe. When I lived in Armenia in the 1990s, there was a violent uprising in Albania that became the Albanian Civil War. The Peace Corps program there was suspended and the Volunteers had to be evacuated. They later reopened the program. I have always been curious about Albania, and I’ve seen that parts of it are very beautiful. I would like to visit sometime… but hopefully at a time when the street dog problem is handled more humanely.

Florent says Kosovo isn’t such a great place right now. A lot of people don’t have anywhere to go. He described himself as “a sunflower planted in the wrong place”. But then he told me about how he and Meg once rescued six puppies stuck in a hole at a train station. One by one, they pulled them out… and if Florent hadn’t been there with Meg, those puppies would not have survived. I can’t help but think that this young man, who obviously has faith in God and a love for animals, is a sunflower planted in the right place. He brings light, beauty, hope, and humanity to dogs who just want to find loving homes. They just want a safe, warm, dry place to sleep, enough food, walks in the sun, and someone to shower them with love in the form of kind words, loving pets, and treats. And every time one of Florent’s dogs finds a new home, the sunflowers are planted anew… in Germany or the United States, or Poland… or any of the other places where they find themselves with people who want them and are committed to loving them forever.

An example of the good work Florent has done.

It’s been such a privilege to have Noyzi in our lives, especially during this endless pandemic. He’s given us something to focus on besides all of the bad stuff. And every day, he surprises us with something new and adorable. By saving Noyzi’s life, Florent gave us an amazing gift… and a permanent bond to a country where there are still many sunflowers waiting to be harvested. Florent may not know it, but what he’s done has had ripple effects way beyond Kosovo.

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animals, dog rescue, dogs, Germany, Romania

Crosspost: Hugo and Viva put things in perspective

This post also appears on my main blog, The Overeducated Housewife.

I was really struggling for something to write about today. I wanted to write something nice… something non-depressing. I wanted to write something different than my usual stuff. As I was enjoying lunch with Bill, I happened across a new video posted about a disabled dog I’ve been following on Facebook. His name is Hugo, and he has a Facebook page all of his own.

I first became aware of Hugo when my German friend, Susanne, shared his story with me. Hugo was born in Romania, where there is a big problem with stray dogs. Someone very cruel wanted Hugo dead, and decided he should die in an incredibly inhumane way. This person took Hugo to a pile of snow, tied up his legs with wire, and left him there to suffer as he waited to die in agony. No one knows how long he was left like that. Although the dog did manage to free himself, unfortunately, when he was found, all four of his feet were necrotic. The vets in Romania could see that Hugo was a fighter, so they decided not to euthanize him. But all four of his paws had to be amputated, leaving him with stumps that didn’t want to heal too easily.

Hugo’s story… in German.

For six months, Hugo was unable to stand up, and he lost a lot of muscle. He was eventually adopted by a German woman who lives in Baden-Württemberg. Unfortunately, the stumps were miserable for Hugo. His new “mom” tried everything she could think of to help him. One day, she asked for ideas about how to cover his stumps on Facebook. A local shoemaker named Daniel came to the rescue and made custom shoes for Hugo. The shoes made all the difference. Hugo can now walk and run, although the shoes have to be repaired occasionally. Daniel did this work for free– unless you count the chocolate he was given by Hugo’s grateful family, who make it a habit to adopt special needs dogs.

On December 12, Hugo’s family visited the Tierheim (animal shelter) in Heilbronn, where they found a little dog named Viva who has no hind legs and gets around using a “wheelchair”. Hugo came along for the ride so he could meet Viva. Apparently Hugo liked Viva just fine and was happy to have a new “sister”. Viva became part of Hugo’s family, along with an existing blind dog named Bertl. Another dog, still in Romania, will soon be joining these three. And how are Hugo and Viva getting along? See for yourself! Bertl is also in the video, but plays a supporting role.

When I saw the video I linked above, my heart just melted. These two dogs don’t seem to realize that they’re in any way “handicapped”. They’re happy as they can be to be able to play together in a loving home. And they’re able to play pretty much as if they were both completely normal dogs.

Maybe I should think about Hugo and his friends next time I’m feeling depressed and incompetent. A lot of people would have euthanized Hugo when they saw how badly injured he was when he was found in Romania. But he was given a chance and he’s risen to the occasion. The same goes for little Viva, who is certainly living up to her name. Both of these dogs have indomitable spirits, and they have been able to thrive thanks to the loving care of good people who were willing to find a way to surmount what must have seemed like insurmountable problems.

There are some really terrible people in the world. People who have no qualms about screwing over their neighbors to get what they want. People who would resort to violence and threats to get their way. People who are abusive and mean, who lie, cheat, and steal, or commit violent acts against innocents.

But there are also people who would help dogs like Viva and Hugo, and do whatever it takes to give them a good and loving home with an excellent quality of life. And there are kind people like Daniel who want to help, and create special shoes that not only helped Hugo, but also provide a precedent for another animal who might be in the same predicament. My heart is so full after watching these two beautiful animals play together, so happy and carefree, and really wishing for nothing more than what they already have. We could all learn a lot from them.

Incidentally, our own rescue dogs are doing great, too. Noyzi, our pooch from Kosovo, is getting more and more acclimated by the day. This morning, I let him out to pee and he got a sudden burst of crazy dog and went tearing around the garden at top speed. You’d have to see him in person to understand what that looks like. Noyzi is a big boy, so he can cross our backyard in just a few strides. But he’s quick and agile and can turn on a dime. He was especially animated this morning, and kept dive bombing Bill’s empty garden plot, which is still full of soil. When he was finished getting the tickles out of his feet, he came back inside and relaxed, very contented and happy.

Noyzi has discovered people food. He’s a fan.

I have never once regretted adopting any of the dogs we’ve had. Noyzi has been especially rewarding to get to know. He’s come so far in just under three months. He’s still afraid of Bill, but every day, he’s a little bit less so. It’s obvious that he loves having a family and a nice warm bed of his own. It’s an honor to be able to provide that for him.

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animals, dog rescue, dogs, Kosovo, road trips

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part one

As of yesterday, our home became a two dog household again. I never thought we’d get there, but we have. This series is about our quest to adopt a dog in Germany, which took us all the way to Slovenia and back over the weekend. Before I write about our travels, I want to offer a quick backstory about our experiences with dogs as a married couple. Please bear with me! It’s all about preserving history.

Bill and I have been dedicated dog rescuers since 2002. I grew up with dogs in rural Gloucester, Virginia, but mostly focused on horses until I went to college. Bill never had dogs, but his mom had many cats when he was growing up. Bill can’t have cats because he’s allergic to them. But he can have dogs, and he is a natural dog “parent”. In May of 2002, I had just finished graduate school at the University of South Carolina and it was time I had a dog in my life again. I told Bill I wanted a beagle. He agreed that sharing our home with a dog would be most acceptable, and beagles have been in our lives ever since.

All of our previous dogs have been beagle mixes of some sort. The first one, blue-eyed CuCullain (CC) was a beagle mixed with husky and he had incredible ice blue eyes. We adopted him in May 2002 and lost him after sixteen months when he contracted Mycobacterium Avium, an extremely rare and fatal disease in dogs.

All the dogs we’ve loved before– CC, MacGregor and Flea, Zane and MacGregor, Zane and Arran, and Jonny, whom we never got to pet.

Next, in November 2003, we adopted a dog named Flea, probably the closest we ever had to a purebred beagle. He was found on the side of a road in Chester County, Virginia, starving, covered with fleas and ticks, and heartworm and Lyme Disease positive. We had Flea for six years, and along with our third rescue, MacGregor, Flea came to Germany with us the first time. We lost him to prostate cancer when he was about twelve years old, two months after we moved to Georgia from Germany.

MacGregor, Flea’s sidekick, was a beagle-basset hound mix who was incredibly smart and funny, but terrified of people he didn’t know. He adored Bill and loved performing on camera. We adopted him in 2004, mainly because Flea badly needed a “second banana”. After a few weeks of “working it out”, Flea and MacGregor became best friends. We loved him for 8.5 years, until he developed a spinal tumor. We said goodbye to MacGregor in Raleigh, North Carolina a week before Christmas 2012, when he was about ten years old. CuCullain, Flea, and MacGregor all came to us from BREW in northern Virginia.

Zane, who was my very special friend, came into our lives a month after after we lost Flea in November 2009. We had just moved to Georgia and he was handed over to Atlanta Beagle Rescue. His first owner had bought him at Petland and said she didn’t have the money to take care of him. Personally, I think she gave him up because she was too busy and he was in his destructive “teen puppy” phase. It took us about six months to turn him into a civilized pet, but once we did, he was an amazing gentleman. Zane was with us for almost ten years until we lost him on August 31, 2019 to lymphoma. He was almost eleven years old when he died. I think Zane was mostly beagle with a dash of Labrador Retriever. He never met a stranger and loved to play. I adored him and was crushed when we lost him.

We got Arran in January 2013, when MacGregor passed. He came from Triangle Beagle Rescue out of Raleigh, North Carolina, and appears to be a mix of beagle and German Shorthaired Pointer. He’s about eleven years old, and he’s sweet, cuddly, emotional, soulful, and very jealous. Bill is his favorite person, as evidenced by the many pictures I’ve shared of him on social media. Arran is a wonderful dog who doesn’t need a “second banana”. But I needed one.

We usually adopt a new dog within a month of losing one. Since we live in Germany now, it’s not as easy for us to adopt dogs. There are a lot of reasons for this. One of the main reasons is because local pet shelters don’t like to allow Americans to have dogs. Too many military folks have abandoned animals in the shelters here, to the point at which they don’t trust us anymore. Some rescues also don’t want to adopt to Americans because there have been cases of adopted animals being abused, abandoned, or neglected. Certainly, not all Americans are abusive to animals, but unfortunately enough of them have been that we all get painted with that broad brush in some parts of Germany. I didn’t want to buy a dog from a breeder, because I know there are so many dogs who need homes. So we waited about six months after losing Zane to try to adopt from a German rescue organization. That attempt to adopt was successful in that the rescue didn’t mind that we were Americans. Unfortunately, it ended with a needless tragedy.

Our brand new canine family member, currently named Noizy, was a much anticipated arrival. Noizy came into our lives in April 2020, a couple of weeks after a dog we tried to adopt escaped before he made it into our house. We were absolutely devastated about what happened to Jonny, the dog who was supposed to join us last March. You might say that, in a weird way, Jonny was a casualty of COVID-19 and extreme negligence. But when he died, he also helped save two canine lives– Noizy, and Max, an elderly cocker spaniel who found himself abandoned at our Tierpension when his owner died. The proprietor offered him to us, but since we had already committed to Noizy, I ended up sharing his story in a local Facebook group and Max was adopted by a teacher at the American school in Wiesbaden. I take comfort in knowing that losing Jonny meant that two dogs got new homes. Still, it was horrible what happened to him.

We were approved to adopt Jonny, a beautiful beagle mix from Sardinia, in mid March 2020, right around the time COVID-19 was getting really bad in Europe. Originally, we planned to drive up to northern Germany to pick him up from his foster family’s house. But before we could make travel plans, the local command issued General Order #1, which forbade us from leaving the Wiesbaden area. We let the rescue know that we couldn’t travel and offered to pay Jonny’s expenses until we could go get him. The rescue wouldn’t agree to that, but proposed that we could pay for a pet taxi to have him brought to us. Long story short, Bill ended up agreeing, and after hasty arrangements were made, Jonny was picked up by a pet taxi and driven to Wiesbaden overnight.

The woman who had brought Jonny to us had driven all night from northern Germany. She was exhausted, having told Bill that she had been driving for seventeen hours. For some reason, she had not properly secured Jonny with so much as a collar and a leash before she took him out of her pet taxi. She put him down on the ground, completely naked, and tried to use a lasso leash on him. The dog backed out of the lasso before it tightened, took off running, and soon found his way to the Autobahn, where he eventually got hit by a car. We were given the terrible news about it the morning after we lost him. The pet rescue found out first, because Jonny had a microchip. I also got contacted by a club in Germany that helps the police inform people of their pets’ deaths. That was weird. Especially since he wasn’t really our pet yet. There’s a club for almost everything in Germany.

Complicating matters was the fact that a couple of people in Bill’s office were sick with COVID-19, and we found out about that the morning Jonny ran away from us. Bill was forced to quarantine just a couple of hours after Jonny escaped. We couldn’t look for him ourselves, but even if we could, he didn’t know us at all. He’d never even so much as sniffed us. We never petted him. I don’t think we would have been able to catch him, even if we could have found him. It was just heartbreaking; he was only about ten feet from our front door when he escaped.

I will never forgot how absolutely horrible that experience was… I definitely learned some lessons from it. In fact, as I type this, Bill is heading to court to testify about what happened to Jonny. The rescue sued the pet taxi driver, who refused to take any responsibility for what happened. (Edited to add: I just learned that at the last minute, the pet taxi driver decided to settle and Bill didn’t even have to be at the courthouse today… so basically, we rushed back to Germany for nothing. Oh well. At least she finally took responsibility. Wish they’d told us sooner.)

Anyway, last spring, I was feeling distraught about the Jonny’s sudden death. Bill and I don’t know how much longer we’ll live in Germany, and it seemed impossible to get another dog. I’d had my heart set on Jonny. Thanks to COVID, my reluctance to buy from a breeder, and German prejudice against Americans adopting dogs from Tierheims (even if it is justified), it seemed like we’d be a single dog household until we eventually depart Germany, and I have no idea when that will be. One day, I posted on Facebook that I really wanted another dog.

Within minutes of my post, my friend Mary sent me a message. She said she could put me in contact with an American woman who rescues dogs. Before I knew it, I was chatting on Facebook with Meg, who had lived in Kosovo, a tiny breakaway nation that was once part of Yugoslavia and is not recognized as its own country everywhere. Meg now lives in Germany, but still has many dogs in Kosovo who need homes. She is very committed to seeing that the dogs she rescues all get the sweet life off of the streets of Kosovo.

My heart was already kind of leaning toward adopting a dog from the East, even before we lost Zane. I have another Facebook friend named Trish who used to live in Stuttgart and was also living there when we had our latest Stuttgart stint. Trish adopted a beautiful female dog from a shelter near Dubrovnik, Croatia. Trish had said her dog, Phoebe, was the “best souvenir ever”. I had watched in delight as she posted pictures of Phoebe, who went from homeless Croatian street dog to beloved canine family member. I was inspired, even if I’m really used to beagles.

Anyway, after establishing contact, Meg sent me pictures of the dogs she had… and when I saw Noizy’s face, he made an immediate impression on my heart. I asked Meg about Noizy and she gave me some of his details. I told Bill about him and shared his story and photos. But we knew it would take awhile before Noizy would be part of our household.

First, he’d need to pass a blood test. Then there would be a four month waiting period after the test. There was also COVID-19 to consider, with borders opening and closing at varying intervals on a weekly basis. COVID-19 also made it temporarily impossible to export Noizy’s blood sample to a veterinary school in Germany, where it would be tested. Planes weren’t flying for awhile in the spring, and that was the only way to get the sample out of Kosovo. I think that logistical hassle added a month to the wait. Then the transportation had to be arranged.

All told, we’ve waited almost six months to bring Noizy home. There were times when it seemed like he’d never get here. Sometimes, I wondered how we were going to coordinate everything to get him to Germany, especially given the COVID-19 situation and the grim news reports about how there will be a second wave.

Noizy arrived last night after a very long, yet whirlwind, two day journey from his homeland. This series I’m going to start today is about that journey. I’m going to include the usual hotel details, as well as what little I got to see of the places we stayed, but this trip wasn’t about sightseeing. It was about expanding our family to a very special dog whom I hope will have a long and happy life with us. I’m sure this is just the first of many stories I’ll have about our new family member, a big dog from a tiny country… who came to us all the way from Kosovo and has already made a home in our hearts.

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animals, Germany

Post pandemic trip number two– Eagles and wolves and goats, oh my!

Saturday morning, we decided that after breakfast, we would visit Gerolstein, the land of famous bubbly water that drew me to the Eifel in the first place. After taking the slow elevator to the reception area of the hotel, we walked into the hotel’s restaurant/bar area and found our assigned table, still with its personalized ceramic nameplate. I ripped off my mask, and Bill fetched some Brötchen. A lady came around to take our preferred hot beverage order. We got a Kännchen of coffee, and I put the mask back on for a trip to the buffet. I was actually kind of surprised that they were doing a buffet breakfast, given that so many practices have been altered due to the virus. I did notice that the staff was rather strict about the mask use. One guy was kindly but firmly reminded as he approached the buffet. He dutifully put the mask on and went looking for his morning Wurst.

Besides the usual breads, cheeses, sausages, smoked salmon, and fruit offered for breakfast at a lot of German hotels, the Hotel Zur Post in Meerfeld also offers hard boiled eggs. Bill and I had them all three mornings and they were perfectly done. Bravo to them for that. When we were in Strasbourg, France back in February, I was served an almost raw egg at breakfast. I was pretty grossed out by it. But that place made up for the egg fiasco by also having really excellent brownies at breakfast.

We weren’t totally sure what we were going to end up doing after we visited Gerolstein, so Bill and I took along our bathing suits. I knew that I wanted to visit the Vulkaneifel Therme in Bad Bertrich at some point, and I wasn’t sure when we’d do that. The trip to Gerolstein took us in the opposite direction of where we’d need to go to get to the Therme, but you never know when you’ll run into a good swimming hole.

The drive to Gerolstein from Meerfeld was extremely pretty. We even pulled over so I could take a few pictures of the stunning countryside. I also played around a bit with the features on my digital camera, which doesn’t get used as often as my iPhone camera does.

As we were heading toward our destination, I read a news article about a German “Rambo” who was on the loose in Oppenau last week. I mentioned in a previous post that we were once in Oppenau and needed to call for help, but were unable to get a cell signal. We had just visited the Allerheiligen Wasserfälle (All Saints Waterfalls), which are located in the Black Forest near Oppenau, when we came upon a motorcycle accident. A group of bikers had come around a sharp corner too fast and one of them went over the side of the road. It must have happened literally minutes before we encountered it. One of the bikers asked if he could use my phone to call an ambulance. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no cell signal whatsoever.

I was reminded of that lack of cell coverage when we were in the Eifel, but I was reminded of Oppenau because my German friend told me about the German Rambo guy… a heavily armed reclusive man named Yves Rausch who was running amok near Oppenau after having held up four German police officers and stolen their weapons several days prior. As we were headed toward Gerolstein, I read about how he’d been “rolled up” by the police… Oppenau would not have been a bad place to visit over the weekend. It’s very beautiful there, too… but no longer so close to get to as it was when we lived near Stuttgart.

We found a public parking lot near Gerolstein’s Kyllpark, which is notably good for kids. We didn’t plan to visit this park; it’s just where we happened to land. I was kind of delighted by it and got some pictures on a walk Bill and I took. It’s been too long since we took a walk in nature, although if I were going to plan a nature walk, I probably wouldn’t necessarily start with the Kyllpark, unless I had children with me. Bill, of course, has a big kid with him at all times… 😉 Here are some photos.

After our walk, we headed into town and walked around a bit. I needed to pee and did see a sign for a WC, but never ended up finding it. It was close to lunchtime, so I thought maybe we’d have lunch in Gerolstein. But we ended up just walking around some more, taking in the sights. At one point, we stopped for a rest and social media break and I started talking to Bill… then got off on a ranting tangent. He gave me this face…

I finally said, “Let’s move along, so you can recover your dignity…” I am very lucky to have a husband who indulges me so much.

I got some more photos of Gerolstein, which is, in fact, a nice little town with plenty of things to do… but I’m kind of glad we stayed in Meerfeld, because it was a lot prettier and its location forced us to move around the area more. Staying in a town like Gerolstein would have been very convenient. Maybe too convenient… There’s a lot to do in and around Gerolstein, though, and we would come back for another visit.

I never did manage to find a toilet before we got back in the car. Luckily, we picked a direction that took us right past the Gerolsteiner water plant… and up the hill to the Eagle and Wolf Park at Kasselburg Castle. I was pretty glad to see it, since this was another place we’d hoped to encounter during our trip. We were lucky enough to run into it by chance, and wonder of wonders, it had a place for me to pee in private. An added bonus was the amazing castle, as well as seeing animals. I love going to animal parks, especially if I get to feed the animals, too. This particular park is very well kept and offers stunning views as well as fun animals!

The Eagle and Wolf park costs 9 euros per adult and 6,50 euros per child over age 4. However, they do offer family cards for 35,00 euros, as well as group rates and special admissions fees for people in certain categories, such as the disabled. Dogs are not allowed, and there is a snack bar in the park, as well as an adjacent restaurant that one can visit before or after visiting.

We weren’t allowed to go into the imposing tower on the grounds, which suited me fine, since I can guarantee many steps were involved. However, we did walk around the castle ruins and visit the birds of prey/raptors. Some of them were a little depressing to look at, if I’m honest. They were completely still in their cages with lanyards attached to their legs. I was prepared for that, having read reviews on TripAdvisor about a similar place in Kintzheim, France. Some reviewers commented on the birds being attached to lanyards and the people who run the French Eagle Park explained that after eating, raptors sit motionless on their perches for hours. I also know that the birds are trained and do flight shows almost every day, so they do get to fly… and some of the birds were a little more animated, too. I got a kick out of a pair of randy owls in the palais area who kept flirting and cleaning each other’s feathers. The owls were not attached to lanyards, as they don’t tolerate them. They were aviaries and were more active. They all looked healthy.

Although my stomach was growling a little, we ended up walking the long way through the park, visiting the wolves. This Kasselburg park has Timber wolves and a couple of Arctic wolves. I saw the Timber wolves napping and I caught sight of one of the Arctic wolves, who was on the move, so I didn’t get a good picture. They also had wild boars, who were clustered together rooting around and eating something…. probably worms.

I was pretty grateful when we finally encountered the deer, which visitors are welcome to feed. You can buy a box of food from the machines at just one euro each. It’s worth it to interact with the very friendly and adorable goats, deer, ponies, and geese. Here are some photos of our visit to the park… which took us on a six mile hike. Been awhile since I last did that, and I must admit, it wore me out.

Just after we left the woods, we heard what sounded a little like donkeys braying… but I knew they weren’t donkeys. It wasn;t until we rounded the corner that I saw the source of the hubbub. A small group of deer were standing in the shade. I’m not sure if they were fighting or fucking, but they were sure making some noise! I think it might have been the first time I have ever heard deer making animal noises. I didn’t have much time to think about that, though, because I was soon met by my first beggar of many…

By the time we were finished feeding the animals, we were definitely ready for refreshment. So we went next door to the Restaurant Forsthaus Kasselburg, which offers traditional German food and beautiful views. It was a good place to stop for refueling. In fact, we were so well fed that we managed to skip dinner on Saturday night…

The restaurant offered reasonable prices, as well as a fun “sprinkler show” in the dining room, complete with cheesy Muzak. That’s really the only way I can describe it. It looked like the indoor dining room had a stage, and there were sprinklers in front of it, along with lights. I’m sure when the weather is less beautiful, the inside is nice to dine in. No one was eating inside, though… better for virus protection. I noticed that besides contact tracing (leaving your name, address, and phone number) and wearing masks, this restaurant also routed access to the bathrooms so you go in and out through different doors, thereby lessening the chance of exposure to the virus or other people.

By the time we were finished with lunch, it was mid afternoon, and we were pretty tired. I wanted to go swimming in the hotel’s awesome spa pool and visit the Meerfelder Maar close up. More on that in the next post.

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advice, anecdotes, animals, dogs, housekeeping tips, pets, veterinary care

New toy causes odd reaction in Arran…

Since we’re stuck inside for the time being, Bill and I have been doing a lot of shopping. German businesses have predictably adapted to stay afloat during this challenging time. For some reason, Bill has been getting lots of ads on Facebook for meat. Pork, beef, and other butchered delights are being offered by local Metzgereien, complete with free delivery. He’s also getting ads for coffee. We’ve now fully stocked our liquor supply… which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but our mint plant has really taken off and maybe I’ll want to have a mojito or something.

I figured now was a good time to try new kitchen gadgets, so I decided to get us a pizza stone and an air fryer. The air fryer is an appliance I’d been wanting to purchase for a long time. I bought a Philips model, XXL, which is bigger than the basic, and one can also purchase baking and pizza attachments for it.

A new toy… takes up a lot of counter space, so it must live downstairs in the basement.

We tried it out last night. Bill cooked chicken leg quarters. They turned out deliciously, but after we ate dinner, we noticed a strange adverse effect on our dog, Arran. As Bill was clearing the table, I noticed that Arran didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He looked almost like he was about to have a seizure. He has had a couple of seizure like “spells” in the past, although they have been years apart. It looked like he was going to have another one last night.

Poor Arran had a frightened, confused, and sickened look on his face, like he might vomit. His tail was tucked between his legs, and he moved very slowly, as if he was off balance and on the verge of collapse. He started trembling, which automatically made me think of awful reasons why dogs suddenly start to shake. A friend of mine recently lost her dog to kidney failure, and trembling was her dog’s most prominent symptom. I worried that maybe Arran was trying to tell us something awful… He’s ten years old and seems very healthy, but I know all too well that dogs can have silent diseases that suddenly take them. Our dog, Zane, was diagnosed with lymphoma and died a week later.

Then I wondered if maybe the air fryer had something toxic in it that had poisoned Arran. I even looked up xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs. I wondered if he’d somehow gotten ahold of some. We even considered calling the emergency vet, then wondered if they’d be open during this cursed coronavirus crisis. I was very worried that we might experience another tragic canine loss.

But then I went Googling, and I came across this fascinating Reddit thread. About a year or two ago, many people posted about their dogs’ strange reactions to air fryers. The behavior they were describing was very much like what Bill and I witnessed in Arran last night.

Evidently, what Arran experienced after dinner is not uncommon in dogs when their humans start using new appliances. The air fryer was very quiet to us, but as a dog, Arran can hear things that we can’t. After reading the Reddit thread, it occurred to me that the high, whirring, fan sound of the fryer must have disturbed Arran’s inner ear, which would have affected his balance and probably made him feel sick. For him, it must have been like he was trapped at a super loud disco or something, and it just took awhile for his ears to quit ringing. That would explain his odd behavior last night. Thankfully, about an hour after we were finished eating and after lots of hugs and reassurance from Bill, Arran was back to his normal self. He’s just fine this morning.

People commenting on the Reddit thread wrote about their dogs not liking the Instant Pot, smoke detectors that beep, or other appliances that make a high pitched noises. We do have an Instant Pot, and Arran doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he loves it when Bill gets it out, since he uses it to make homemade dog food. But clearly the air fryer is a problem. Fortunately, we have a fenced backyard Arran can hang out in, as well as a large house with distant rooms we can take put him in when we use the fryer. Or, I can just take him for an extended walk… which he loves and I desperately need to do more of for my health’s sake. According to the Reddit thread, just getting the pet away from the appliance when it’s operating is enough to prevent this odd attack.

For more reading about how our latest technology drives pets insane, click here.

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