The lockdown is never going to end…

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This will be a short post, because frankly, I don’t have much to write about these days. Germany has been in some form of lockdown since early November 2020. Officials keep saying the lockdown will end in a couple of weeks, but as the date draws closer, they extend it. At this point, the lockdown could go on into mid June, and will likely include curfews that will make it illegal for people to be outside of their homes between 9:00pm and 5:00am unless it’s for work or medical reasons, or taking care of animals. It’s all because of the coronavirus, which has continued to infect and kill people. Meanwhile, Germany has few vaccines for its people, and Angela Merkel keeps pleading for lockdowns, which don’t seem to be doing anything.

Bill told me that we would be vaccinated by the end of May, but the vaccine he was told we were getting is the Johnson & Johnson one, which the CDC has just recommended pausing, thanks to six women getting rare clotting disorders. Meanwhile, Bill still travels for work. He’s gone this week and will be gone for most of May, and his office is short-staffed, so he’s also working long hours. I’m feeling bored, lonely, hopeless, and pissed off.

Yesterday, I caught myself fantasizing about just fucking leaving. I mean leaving… right now, by myself, and just going somewhere else. But this fucking virus is everywhere. Pardon my language, but this is how I feel.

I am a resilient person, and I have survived worse, I guess, than endless isolation. At least we’re comfortable enough. I’ve been investing in some things to make the yard nicer, since it looks like we’re going to spend another summer sitting in it in seclusion. I’ve been watching too much true crime TV and reading a lot of books. And I fantasize about when I can travel again and take more pictures.

It feels like it will never happen.

I’m just glad we got to be here for several years before this global nightmare started. I feel sorry for the people who got here last year and have already spent their first year here in lockdown.

Good thing I’m not close to my family anymore. Grateful I have my dogs. Noyzi is getting more comfortable, and Arran remains his feisty, cranky self.

Cross post: A pox on people who don’t leash their dogs…

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This post also appears on my main blog. I am reposting it here because it has to do with living in Germany. I’ve noticed that even though a lot of Germans think Americans are crappy pet owners, some of them aren’t so responsible themselves.

A PSA.

We’re expecting a few packages today, but the weather is really nice– sunny and kind of warm– so I decided to walk the dogs a little earlier than usual. Actually, this is more like a return to an old habit. When we lived near Stuttgart, I used to walk them in the mornings as a matter of course, but lately I’ve been walking them later in the day.

Arran has me a little worried. His poop is looking kind of abnormal. Parts of it look normal and parts are dark brown/black and greenish. I know he’s been having some digestion issues lately. We took him to the vet last month and had him checked for worms, which they didn’t find. But although he’s pretty perky and playful, he’s not his usual self. He’s also gained some weight lately, which may be causing acid reflux (maybe he also has another mast cell tumor, although I haven’t seen it).

In any case, on our walk, we had to wait for the trash truck, which was maneuvering out of our narrow, crowded street and down the one way road out of the neighborhood. Then we made our way through the main drag, which is narrow and crowded with cars parked on the street. The sidewalks are also crowded with trash bins. I was about to breathe a sigh of relief as we were turning down a pedestrian area where people keep their gardens. I noticed Arran was about to poop and I wanted to have a look at it before I threw it away.

I noticed a guy with an athletic looking female dog approaching as I bent down to pick up Arran’s poop. I had managed to scoop up the shit, noticing that it looked somewhat more normal, although I think I saw some remnants of a toy in the last turd. My dogs were both on leashes, although Arran’s is a Flexi-lead tape leash. He probably doesn’t need it anymore, since he doesn’t run as much as he used to.

Guy with athletic female dog did not have her leashed. She started barking at Arran as I was finishing cleaning up the poop. She also lunged at him, which caused him to lunge back. German guy grabbed his dog, but still didn’t have her secure. So I was trying not to get shit on my hands while handling two dogs who were leashed. Meanwhile, his unleashed bitch was harassing Arran.

This is one reason why Noyzi is always leashed. He runs like a freight train.

I probably gave him a super annoyed look. I didn’t say anything, since my German sucks… but I’m sure all he needed to know was written all over my face. Then I noticed another person with an unleashed dog, but he stayed out of the altercation and was obviously better trained. His owner managed to get him in her house before he got into any trouble.

Seriously, though… why not put your dog on a leash? Especially when you see someone is trying to be responsible and clean up dog shit, plus they have two dogs they’re juggling? Fortunately, this time, no one got hurt. This is not the first time someone’s out of control dog has intruded on my dog’s space. One time, it happened when a dog was able to climb out of his fenced yard. We were living at Fort Belvoir, an Army installation, at the time. He attacked my beagle, Flea, who was feisty but only weighed about 25 pounds to the other dog’s much larger stature. We ended up with a $200 vet bill, thanks to that incident.

My dogs are ALWAYS on leashes. Until we got Noyzi, our dogs have always been beagles, and we can’t let them go off leash because their noses can get them into trouble in a hurry. Aside from that, I don’t fancy having one of them get a bee in his bonnet and wind up on the Autobahn, which is very close to our house. We already lost one dog to that deadly highway last year.

The guy hurried ahead on the trail. I noticed his dog was staying by his side… until she wandered out into the field and took a big crap. Naturally, he didn’t bother to clean it up. That doesn’t really surprise me at all. Asshole. At least the weather is better. Here are a few recent photos from the neighborhood. They were taken last week.

Beastie BESTIES!

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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.

Noyzi’s TV terrors…

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Noyzi, the Kosovar street dog, is getting braver. Yesterday, he came upstairs and actually stayed for a few minutes. In the past, he’d come up the stairs as if to look for me, but would never actually stay up there. I think he was excited after he had a walk.

I was sitting on the bed eating a sandwich and Noyzi came to the doorway and stood there. He wanted to come into the bedroom, but was looking worriedly at the TV. It occurred to me that he’d probably never seen one on before yesterday. We don’t have a television in our living room, and that’s where he spends most of his time. He doesn’t like men, either. So, I guess seeing Alan Thicke on TV scared him.

Every day, we’re faced with a new Noyzi challenge. He rewards us by making new strides. Last night, we had pork for dinner. Noyzi was happy to ask me for a bite, but when Bill offered him some of his, he was too scared to get it. He usually wears us down by giving me the puppy eyes and I end up giving him a treat. But last night, I was determined to test his courage. I led him over to Bill and held his collar while Bill gave him pork and stroked his head. Then, when we tried again, I just stood next to him without holding him. He’s still scared, but every time he successfully does something, like pass Bill in the dining room, or come upstairs and stay longer than a few seconds, it’s a victory. I really feel like his reactions are reflexive. I think he knows Bill won’t hurt him, but he’s phobic. I have a phobia myself, so I understand how that is.

In other news, Bill’s new guitar got here yesterday. So did my new Donald Trump toilet brush, the acquisition of which actually caused a former friend to dump me on social media! I look forward to using Trump to scrub the shit stains out of the potty.

The featured photo today is of the sunrise we were graced with this morning. It’s not as amazing or dramatic as the ones we used to get in Jettingen, but it did cause me to pause and appreciate for a moment. Our heat went out last night, so our landlord is getting someone to fix it for us. We may end up with a renovation soon, because he says there might be something wrong with the boiler system. Ironically, he says he might put in new windows. Our last house got new windows as we were moving in, so I know what this will mean. But I also know that it will make the house quieter and less drafty, so that’s a plus.

Bill will be taking a work trip soon. He has to go to Bavaria for about three weeks. I’m a bit pissed off about it. But as usual, I’m building a bridge and trying to get over it. At least I have Noyzi around to remind me of how first world my problems really are. Employment is a good thing. I just hope it won’t be a superspreader event.

I guess my next Noyzi project is teaching him that the TV is not full of boogeymen who are going to get him. Maybe he’ll turn into a TV buddy like big brother Arran is.

Noyzi’s big emergency…

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Yesterday, I was expecting a package from Amazon– a new bin system for our dog food. For the past few months, we’ve been giving Arran the same higher calorie food we’d been giving Noyzi. It’s resulted in some unnecessary and alarming weight gain, so I decided to put Arran back on his senior dog food while I continue to give Noyzi something with more oomph. I bought a two tiered bin that allows me to separate their food while taking up little space under the counter.

I heard Noyzi bark, so I thought maybe the delivery had arrived. I went down to check and found Noyzi standing by a pile of dog toys. Among the toys were two stuffed monkey legs. They were originally part of one of Arran’s favorite and longest lasting fluffy toys, a monkey that had long legs that threaded through holes on either side. The monkey’s torso was long ago obliterated by our resident hunting dog, Arran. But the legs had survived, and they had working squeakers.

From the day Noyzi first arrived at our home last October, he’s been a friend to the toys. Instead of attacking and chewing them up, like Arran does, Noyzi tends to treat them like his pals. He stacks them in his bed and uses them as pillows. So I was a little surprised when I came into the living room and noticed that one of the monkey legs had been amputated at one end. I couldn’t find the stuffed fabric paw or its squeaker.

I emailed Bill to let him know. Bill called the vet and they advised him to bring him in to be seen. Even if I wanted to take Noyzi to the vet, it would not be possible. I drive a Mini Cooper and Noyzi will not fit in it. It’s illegal for dogs to ride up front, and I doubt I could convince him to get in the car, anyway. As it is now, he has to ride in the back of our Volvo SUV because he won’t get in the backseat, which he probably could fit in if he was more cooperative.

Just as Bill was about to leave work, he got a frantic work related phone call from the States that he had to take care of. He ended up getting home about an hour later. We wrangled Noyzi into the SUV and Bill took him to the vet’s office. Noyzi was given an emetic, which made him throw up. Sure enough, we found the offending piece of the monkey toy, although no squeaker was found. It’s possible that Noyzi swallowed it, but it’s equally possible that Arran ripped it out ages ago and I tossed it. If it did end up in his intestines, we may find it in his poop in a day or two. If there are other problems, he’s sure to let us know. We’re lucky enough to have great vets in the next village, as well as the excellent Tierklink Hofheim nearby.

Yuck. That’s the part of the toy he swallowed.

We’re keeping an eye on Noyzi, but so far, he’s back to his old self. In fact, if I hadn’t noticed the amputated leg, I would never have known what he did. He was acting totally normal yesterday until he was forced to puke and given an antidote, which wiped him out for a couple of hours. By dinner time, he was right as rain… and then Arran threw up. But I think in Arran’s case, it was a case of too much salmon. He had a little of our dinner last night. He’s fine today, too, but we have to get him slimmer. I never thought I’d say that about Arran, who has always been athletic and sleek. But he’s twelve now, so he needs to watch his figure.

By the way… anyone want to guess how much this emergency cost us? It was a mere 89 euros. The vet was able to squeeze us in during regular office hours. Several of my friends gave me tips on how to make my dog vomit, but I prefer to let the vets handle that, especially when it’s not that expensive. God bless German healthcare costs. America could take a lesson or two.

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

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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.

When neighbor dogs don’t want to social distance…

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The soggy weather continues here in Germany. We’ve had nothing but rain and snow since the new year. The weather is a bit of a bummer, especially since everything is still locked down here. We’re running short on fun lately, which is why it’s so great to have a new rescue dog around. Especially one from Kosovo!

Ever since Noyzi, the Kosovar street dog, and Tommi met a couple of weeks ago, Noyzi has been obsessively watching the fence that borders our neighbor’s yard. I see him sniffing the air, as if to catch a whiff of his new friend, Tommi the Lab. I let him and Arran outside for a pee break yesterday, and they both went nuts at the far corner of our little yard. I kept seeing little flashes of movement under the fence. I have seen mice, hedgehogs, birds, and the odd cat or squirrel on or in that fence. I thought maybe there was a cat or something there, making the dogs react…

Bill is not too pleased about having to upgrade the fencing. He was in the middle of something work related when this excitement happened. Party pooper!

But then I saw a blond doggie face and the happy eyes of our German neighbor’s cute little puppy. It turns out he’s been as interested in hanging out with Noyzi as Noyzi has been interested in hanging out with him! He was trying to wriggle under the fence. I wasn’t able to get the best video, since Bill came out and broke it up before I was able to catch the scene. But later, we let them out again, and Tommi tried again.

Noyzi and Tommi are desperately trying to find a way to be buddies, even though they are separated by a tall fence!

Pretty soon, I reckon Tommi will be too big to even try to go under the fence. And Bill will probably fortify it with something to prevent a breach. It was still pretty cute to see Tommi’s little face. He was very happy to try to come play.

Later, Noyzi came up to me while I was sitting at the table and I started scratching his butt. I have now created a monster. Now, not only does he show up like a silent canine taxman whenever I’m eating something, but he also wants butt rubs. Every time I rub, he drops a ton of hair. But it’s worth it, because look at the big smile on his face in the featured photo.

We’re seeing that silly grin more and more often, since he’s joined us from Kosovo. In four months, he’s gone from being so scared he’d pee on himself whenever Bill took off his jacket or belt, to begging for butt rubs, table scraps, and walks around the neighborhood. Maybe he’s not the best behaved dog around, but he sure is enjoying life. And he’s made this COVID-19 nightmare easier to bear. I have never regretted taking in any of the dogs we’ve rescued… even the tragedy of Jonny last spring ended up doing some good. But Noyzi has been especially rewarding to watch. And I’ve even made a couple new friends in the process.

Tomorrow, Arran will get his stitches out, having had a mast cell tumor removed on his left hind leg. Maybe the vet will be able to tell Bill the results of Noyzi’s DNA test, too.

Poor Arran…

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Monday morning, our dog Arran, whom we’ve counted as a family member since January 2013, had surgery on his left hind leg. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a red bump there as Arran was headed outside for his evening whiz. Having already dealt with mast cell tumors in Arran and our late beagle, Zane, I had a feeling a new MCT had showed its ugly head. I told Bill about it when he came home from work. The next day, he called our vets in the neighboring industrial park in Wallau and told them that Arran had a tumor. They were good enough to fit him in for an aspiration that morning.

A week later, we went back to the vet’s office for the results of the aspirate, as well as basic bloodwork for our new dog, Kosovar street dog, Noyzi. The vet confirmed what we’d feared. After five and a half years with no new mast cell tumors, Arran had another one. It was in the skin, rather than under it, and she didn’t detect any swollen lymph nodes. She scheduled him for surgery a few days later. Meanwhile, Noyzi had three vials of blood taken, as well as a sample for a DNA test.

Monday morning, Bill planned to take Arran in at 10:00am. That was what was written on the appointment slip the receptionist gave him last week. Unfortunately, the receptionist got the time wrong. He was supposed to go in at 9:00am. So poor Arran had to starve for a couple more hours before he got in to have the tumor removed. I had noticed it shrinking last week to almost nothing, but by Monday morning, it had blown up again. Mast cell tumors notably do this— they’ll shrink to nothing, then swell up a lot when they’re bothered. That’s one of the telltale signs. The tumors put out histamine, which causes the inflammation and itching that comes with these types of growths.

Because mast cell tumors are typically more invasive then they appear, and will sometimes come back with a vengeance if the margins aren’t good, the vet made a very large incision on Arran’s leg. She was a lot more aggressive than our old vet in Herrenberg was. I have noticed the vets up near Wiesbaden seem to be a bit more aggressive and up to date than the ones in the Stuttgart area are. I loved our Herrenberg vet, though. She just had a more conservative approach to surgery.

Arran has been wearing the dreaded cone of shame all week. He’s been surprisingly well-behaved and calm about it. We did finally put a “Comfy Cone” on him yesterday. I had bought one for Zane a few years ago, but misplaced it in the move. The Comfy Cone is less rigid than the traditional hard plastic Elizabethan Collar is and it makes less noise. But it’s not made of transparent plastic, so it’s harder for Arran to see or hear with it on. We took it off last night, and he behaved pretty well, but we put it back on this morning after he started licking his stitches. Poor guy. This is probably driving him crazy.

We should get the results of the biopsy next week… and maybe Noyzi’s DNA test results will be in, too. Noyzi was given a clean bill of health, which is a good thing. I hope Arran’s tumor was a low grade one. I hate canine cancer, and it wasn’t so long ago that we were dealing with it in Zane. But I guess whatever’s to be will be. As dog cancers go, I don’t think mast cell tumors are that horrible. At least they can be treated and often cured by surgery. But I still hate canine cancers… and mast cell cancer sometimes turns into lymphoma, which is what happened with Zane after three years of MCTs.

In case anyone is wondering, the total cost of the operation and everything that came with it was about 590 euros, or around $700. Right now, the dollar is taking a beating against the euro. Still, this would have been a lot more expensive in many parts of the United States. We can also use a VAT form, which exempts us from paying German taxes on the procedure. At 19%, that’s a very good thing.

As you can see, Bill is Arran’s favorite person.

Noyzi makes a friend! Can Tommi come out to play?

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Our German neighbor used to have an adorable Labrador Retriever named Levi. Levi had been adopted from Americans who were leaving Germany and couldn’t take him with them. Levi recently got very sick and passed away, so our neighbor acquired a new puppy, name of Tommi. Tommi, like Levi, is a lab, although it looks like she got him from a breeder. I adored Levi, and was very sad when he died. He was a very sweet, friendly, and gentle dog, who always wanted to say hello. He was also well behaved and well trained, and would come over to visit us. Tommi looks a lot like a young version of Levi, and is just as friendly and outgoing. It looks like he’ll be a lot like Levi when he grows up.

A few days ago, I had Arran and Noyzi on their leashes, ready to take a walk. Our neighbor was outside with Tommi, packing up her car. It looked like she was headed to the barn, where she boards her mare. I once tried to have a conversation with her about horses. I spent most of my childhood showing my Appaloosa. But she seemed doubtful that I knew anything about horses and, in fact, even doubted that my horse had been an Appaloosa. The picture I showed her was of us mid flight over a fence and his spotted rump evidently wasn’t so easy to see. When I showed her another photo of us winning reserve champion at a state 4H horse show, then she realized I knew what breed my horse was. In that photo, she could see his spots.

Yes, that’s me when I was a horse person. Rusty, the Appaloosa pony, was my best friend. We won over 200 ribbons , a medal, and several trophies together, but the biggest prize was getting through high school unscathed and many years of companionship.

I think this is a common thing with some Germans. Sometimes they act like they know better about certain things, even when it’s clear they don’t. 😉 But rest assured, I did spent years working in barns and taking care of horses and, at least in those days, I knew what I was doing. Someday, when we settle down, I would love to have a horse in my life again.

Anyway… I think our neighbor distrusts Arran, mainly because Arran’s a bit high strung and bossy. When we first moved to the neighborhood, he didn’t seem as friendly as our other dog, Zane, was. Zane was a beagle with a touch of lab in him. He never met a stranger. Arran is a beagle with, I think, a healthy portion of German shorthaired pointer, and possibly a touch of coonhound. He’s very sweet, but kind of cranky and emotional.

Arran showing off his junk.

Noyzi, by contrast, is very nervous around people he doesn’t know, especially men. But he LOVES other dogs! He’s only about two years old, and still wants to play. Arran will play, but Arran is eleven and doesn’t have the stamina he once had. And he’s only now, after three months, starting to come around to liking Noyzi at all. Consequently, when Noyzi and Tommi first touched noses, I think Noyzi fell in love.

A couple of days later, Bill took the boys out for a walk. The neighbor was outside with Tommi again, and he came over to greet Arran and Noyzi. All three of them started trying to play. Bill had Arran on a long Flexi-lead tape leash, while Noyzi was in a harness and two regular nylon webbing leashes. Tommi was off lead. Bill said it was clear Noyzi liked Tommi and wanted to play some more. After their walk, he kept looking over at the neighbor’s house, eagerly searching for his new friend.

Noyzi loves snow, too.

As you can see in the video, he now knows Tommi’s scent and seems to want to leap the fence to get to him. I think he’s more likely to try to climb the fence than jump it, and he’s big enough that I think it’s possible he could clear his obstacle. However, I have not seen any indication that Noyzi wants to run away from us. He doesn’t charge the door when the doorbell rings, and he seems very attached to me… and to his bed and food.

We may have to find him a younger playmate, though. It’s so nice to see Noyzi acting more like a regular, goofy, funny dog. He’s really settling into his life in Germany, and making life during a pandemic a lot more interesting and fulfilling. I hope someday, he and Tommi can have some fun. If he was a human, I think he’d be knocking on the door, asking our neighbor if Tommi can come out to play!

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

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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.