Noyzi’s first bath!

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We took Noyzi and Arran for another walk this morning. Afterwards, we gave them treats, and then it was time for the moment we were dreading. Time to give Noyzi his first bath!

I don’t know if he ever had a bath before he came to our house. Truth be told, though he was a bit stinky when we brought him home, he seems to prefer being clean. I noticed the worst of the doggy odor went away after a few days of being a house dog. Still, he is shedding a lot and we needed to see how he’d do in the shower. Fortunately, our laundry room has a shower we never use for ourselves. It’s open on two sides, making it perfect for a big boy like Noyzi.

With some effort, we wrangled him into the stall. It wasn’t easy. He went belly to the floor, so we had to pick him up. I couldn’t have done that by myself, because I’m not as strong as I used to be and Noyzi is a big boy. But we finally got him into the shower…

At first, he panicked a bit and tried to escape. But then, once I started rubbing the shampoo into his coat, he relaxed. Obviously, it feels good to get a back scratch and lose some of that undercoat that is currently littering my rugs. After a minute or two of struggling, he relaxed. Pretty soon, I was able to drop the leash and film him. Here’s a video of my metrosexual street dog!

The secret is out. Noyzi is a metro! And I’m really a mom at heart.

He was, by the way, completely perfect on his walk, too. I picked up the harness and leash. After a minute of nervous dancing, he came over and sat on command. I put the harness on him and he took a perfectly calm walk around the neighborhood. Then, he gently accepted a treat afterwards. Arran, on the other hand, demanded one! Arran could learn a few things from our street dog.

Arran at the breakfast table this morning. He was impatiently waiting for us to finish eating so he could lick the bowls…

I continue to be amazed at the leaps Noyzi has made since three weeks ago. Last night, he was even hanging out with us in the living room! It really is rewarding to watch him grow every day. I knew Noyzi was going to be special when I first saw him in a picture. He’s proving me right!

Training “Private Noyzi”…

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So, as of tomorrow, Noyzi will have been in our lives for three weeks. I thought I’d offer an update for those who are interested. First of all, the name… I had been planning to change his name, but none of the names I was thinking of seemed suitable. It also occurred to me that he’s been through so many changes in the past month that it seemed cruel to force him to get used to a new name, too. So we decided to just call him Noyzi. We changed the spelling because “Noizy” was offending my grammar/spelling snob complex. Also, that’s how it was spelled by the vet in Kosovo (I’m assuming) who made their version of the pet passport.

This week, we took Noizy out for his very first walk outside of the backyard. The first walk was just halfway down the block. He submissively peed a couple of times before we got him out the front door. But once we got him on the leash, he did quite well and seemed to enjoy himself. Then, when we brought him back inside and Bill took Arran (our senior dog) for a longer walk, Noyzi finally ventured upstairs for the very first time. He was fascinated by the balconies!

Noyzi still pretty much stays in his little area of our living room, although he has been ranging more bravely into the foyer and dining room. He’s also taken to hanging out by the couch instead of the back door.

Bill is still a scary boogeyman to Noyzi. I get the sense maybe someone hit him with a belt or a leash, because until the past few days, he was petrified of the leash. And he peed on himself when Bill took off his belt. He also doesn’t like the broom, although I am hoping that after seeing what it’s used for and never using it to hit him, he’ll see that he doesn’t need to be so scared. This dog doesn’t like men very much. He’s not very trusting of anyone, but he definitely seems to prefer women. Hopefully, he’ll get used to Bill after a few more feedings which include homemade goodies– chicken, sweet potato, and green beans on top of kibble! He’s learning to appreciate treats, too. He takes them gently from me, the way Zane used to. But it wasn’t until he saw Arran eating them that he realized that’s what he’s supposed to do, too.

I’ve seen some evidence that Noyzi likes to play and would enjoy a play session, once he gets more confident. A few days ago, he even play bowed to me, although he’s so big that it’s not the best idea to play inside. Maybe at some point, we can take him to the dog park on post. He needs to learn to come to me more reliably, first. He also likes toys, but this week, he doesn’t seem to need to sleep with one in his bed. That is such a cute habit! It’s like he needs a teddy bear!

We did a couple of walks around the block this week, and this morning, Bill, Arran, and I took Noyzi on his very first trip around the full walking route of our neighborhood. He did extremely well. Yesterday, he got a little panicky when a German man who was carrying things got too close to him, but today, he was much better. In fact, he was calmer today on his walk than I’ve ever seen him. I was very proud of the way he was carrying himself, his powerful stride matching mine. He reminded me of a supermodel!

When we brought him back in the house this morning, he followed me upstairs, took a look around, then went back downstairs. I think I heard Arran bitching at him. It probably won’t be long before he starts hanging out with me in my office. In fact, as I write this, he’s hanging out in the upstairs hall.

Speaking of Arran, he’s handling this a lot better than I thought he would. He seems to understand that he hasn’t been replaced and, in fact, is now promoted to “big daddy dog”… or maybe “gramps”. He leaves Noyzi alone, except for when Noyzi encroaches too much. I expect there will eventually be a fight, and then it’ll be okay. Noyzi is super gentle and not at all alpha, anyway… or at least he doesn’t seem to be.

I noticed in videos I have of him as a puppy, he once seemed very confident and self-assured. I don’t think he’s naturally timid. I think maybe he’s experienced a lot of trauma, but he’s a quick learner and so sweet. He just wants to be loved and a member of the family.

A few of our neighbors met Noyzi today. One asked us about Zane. Bill explained that we lost Zane to cancer last year. I’m sure they were curious about where he was. I wonder where he is, too. :'( I still miss him, although Noyzi is turning out to be a very rewarding project. Best of all, he seems to have come to us mostly housetrained somehow. He prefers to do his business outside and seems to only need to go once or twice a day. He doesn’t mark or cock his leg, either. He’s a squatter!

Anyway… since COVID-19 is flaring up, I’m not so sure how much traveling and dining out we’ll be doing. But I think Noyzi will keep me plenty busy. It’s a good thing we went to get him this month. With the virus flareups going on, I don’t think we would have managed as easily if we had waited. Now we need to get him to the vet and checked in on post. Hopefully, he’ll have a chance to try out the Hunde Pension soon, so we can travel again… when the virus isn’t running amok, that is.

As I close this post, Bill and Arran are trying to negotiate around Noyzi, who has taken up residence on the steps. As Bill and Arran tried to pass him, he pooped a little. He seems to do that when he’s scared. At least he doesn’t do it in the bed, like Arran does sometimes. I have every confidence that he’ll be one of the gang very soon!

Bringing your dog to Germany? Here are a few vital tips for when you arrive…

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Since COVID-19 is ramping up again, the weather is icky, and we’re not really seeing the sights right now due to those factors and our new pooch, I thought today I’d offer a few handy tips for people who are planning to bring their dog(s) to Germany. This post isn’t about travel tips. I haven’t brought any dogs overseas to Germany since 2014, and the rules have changed since then. Even now, I look at our new family member, Noizy, and realize how huge he is. If we have to take him in an airplane, I’m pretty sure the process will be different than it was with the other four dogs we’ve flown with (three of whom are now at the Rainbow Bridge).

This post is more about encouraging Americans to do things they might not think is necessary. I’ve now spent a total of eight years living in Germany. I was here in Stuttgart from 07-09 and 14-18, and now in Wiesbaden from 18 until now. Having been in two different military communities, I’ve seen a lot of people expressing reluctance at doing things the German way. I’m here to tell you that if you’re one of those people who doesn’t think it’s necessary to get pet liability insurance or register your dog with TASSO, you may be making a big mistake.

The very first piece of advice I would offer any American moving to Germany with a dog is to get pet liability insurance. While you’re doing that, also get personal liability insurance. If your dog damages something or gets into trouble, the insurance is a great thing to have. I would highly recommend using a local broker to get the insurance, which is not very expensive at all. For two dogs, we pay about 80 euros a year. And that covers us if something awful happens, like one of the dogs runs away and causes a car accident, or the dog damages the house in some way. We got our insurance through a German broker who was hanging out in the local Facebook groups. Chances are, you can get it that way, too. Or ask around for a recommendation.

Personal liability insurance is good to have for when YOU have an accident of some sort. We have used ours. Most Germans have personal liability insurance, which also isn’t that expensive and can save you a lot of headaches, unless, of course, you’re dealing with someone who is greedy, entitled, and dishonest, which sadly, can also happen. But that’s a rant for another post. It’s good to have the insurance, though, because the insurance company will fight on your behalf if a person wants more money after an accident or mishap. Also, many Germans won’t expect you to have it.

The second piece of advice I would offer is registering your pet with TASSO.net. This organization is committed to helping you find your pet if he or she gets lost– kind of like an Amber Alert for pets. You send them photos and information about your pet(s), as well as their microchip number(s). They will send you tags to put on your pet’s collar and, should one get away from you, they’ll make flyers that can be posted and shared on social media. When our failed adoptee, Jonny, escaped his pet taxi last spring, TASSO sent us a helpful flyer with contact information. At that time, Jonny was still registered with the rescue he came from and when he was sadly found dead the day after he escaped, authorities were able to contact the rescue to let them know. Both of our dogs are now registered with TASSO, in case something should happen.

Jonny was also covered by the rescue’s pet liability insurance, because we hadn’t yet completed his adoption when he met his demise. If we had taken him in and not transferred his coverage to ours, we would have likely been on the hook for paying for the accident he caused when a driver hit him. Always make sure you have that coverage BEFORE an accident happens, especially if you’re adopting a dog while over here. Our new dog, Noizy, was on our pet insurance before we picked him up two weeks ago. That’s the way it should always be. Don’t forget to get the insurance in the excitement of adopting a new dog, especially since dogs who are new to your family might be more likely to panic and run away from home and you will be less likely to know what could trigger them to behave in unexpected ways.

Many people also look into getting pet health insurance. We haven’t done that ourselves, mainly because our original dogs, Zane and Arran, were too old for it. Veterinary care in Germany is very reasonably priced, especially compared to the United States. Some vets will even take the VAT form, which if you’re American, makes you exempt from paying German taxes on some goods and services. Not all businesses will take the VAT form and they are never required to, but the ones who cater to Americans often will. That can save you significant money, as long as the forms are filled our properly. Our former vet in Stuttgart had some issues with the VAT that resulted in money having to be paid. Fortunately for us, they were willing to pay because it was their mistake, and we didn’t even have to ask them to do it.

Arran getting a belly rub.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with Germany’s laws regarding pets, too. For example, it’s illegal to drive here with your animals loose in the car. They have to be in a crate or wearing a “seat belt”. You can purchase those items easily at any pet store.

Certain items that are legal in the USA are not legal here. Shock collars are not allowed, for example, and you can get in trouble for using them if you get caught. Likewise, you’re not allowed/supposed to leave your animals alone all day. This isn’t an issue for us, since I am at home most of the time, but if you’re in a dual career family with no one home during the day, you may need to hire a dog walker or use a doggy daycare. They do exist here. Germans are also very big on training dogs, so don’t be surprised if someone tells you to take your dog to the Hundschule. That happened to us a couple of times when we lived here the first time– back then, Germans weren’t as accustomed to beagles, who bay when they get on a scent. Beagles are becoming a lot more popular here now, but most German dogs are still very well trained.

If you’re here on SOFA status, make sure you register your pets with the vet on post. Otherwise, German tax collectors will expect you to license your dog(s) locally, and that can get very expensive. German dog taxes are more than what you’d expect to pay in the United States, and there are also fines for failing to register.

We don’t regret having our dogs with us in Germany. Germans love dogs and they can make great ambassadors in facilitating meeting people. It’s easier to travel with them here than at home, although we’ve found some excellent “Tierpensions” for when we can’t take them with us. I love having the dogs around for company, especially when Bill travels. There is a learning curve, though. Above all, I urge all Americans to please GET THE INSURANCE. And definitely register with TASSO! If your dog gets loose, you will want and need both of those protections.

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part six

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I think this will be the last part of my tale. I’ve got bitching to do on my other blog, which has been neglected for a few days.

Our drive back to Germany was long, but relatively peaceful. Once we got through the Katschberg Pass in Austria, the weather cleared up a lot. We had sun, or at least just a few clouds, all the way back home to Wiesbaden. Since we had to do the whole drive in one shot, I’m really glad we did it on a Sunday. There’s road work going on that we noticed had backed up traffic for miles on the way down to Slovenia. Since it was Sunday, there was still a slight bottleneck, but it wasn’t nearly as horrible as it was on the way down. Here are some more photos from the drive…

We made several stops but, following Meg’s advice, we didn’t attempt to take Noizy out. He’s still working on walking on the leash. When the rain stops, I’ll be giving him a few lessons. He’s going to be needing some exercise soon, although he’s so far seemed content to lie down in a corner of our living room, right by the doors to the garden. Speaking of the garden, I’m really glad we have one and it has a very tall fence surrounded by hedges. Noizy is about the size of a small deer and could probably jump pretty high if he wanted to. Arran is also a high jumper, but he’s way smaller than Noizy is.

So… now we’ve had our new family member for two days. He’s already blown my mind by being a super fast learner.

Bear in mind, when he lived in Kosovo, Noizy resided at a “pension”, which is not like the pensions one might find in Germany. He lived with a bunch of dogs on a farm and they were outside all the time, fed communally. He’s never been trained, hence why he still needs to learn how to walk on a leash. And although he’s very friendly and sweet, he’s not used to living with people. He’s also not very alpha at all, despite being so big. Arran easily dominates him, and Arran is not a particularly alpha dog, either.

When we first brought him into the house, Noizy seemed very confused by the glass doors. I have a sense that he’s never seen glass before. He tried to walk through the glass when he first came into the house and it took a couple of bonks on the face before he realized that I have to open the door for him. One of the doors has a holey mosquito screen thing put there by a prior tenant (it needs replacing). At first, Noizy had no idea what to make of that at all. But after he saw Arran go through it once or twice, he caught on that he can do the same thing.

The first night, Noizy was obsessed with being outside. I think it’s because that was what he knows best. However, in less than 24 hours, he seems to have figured out that being inside isn’t so bad. It’s warm and dry. Now, he gets upset if I close the door when he’s in the yard. He comes right back inside and curls up on his makeshift bed.

Noizy is still pretty scared of Bill, who is probably one of the gentlest men on the planet. But he’s pretty much at ease with me, and loves it when I pet him. When I approach him, his little stumpy tail wags and I can see in his eyes that he wants affection. He’s also learned to trust me enough to roll on his back for belly rubs, which he clearly adores. I knew he liked them because Meg sent me a video of him getting a belly rub from a boy in Kosovo. Still, I can tell this isn’t just him being submissive and showing me his belly. He trusts me enough to let me rub it.

Although he hasn’t wanted to leave his corner yet, he is a lot more relaxed than he was. He is also slowly getting braver and exploring more of the living room. Arran barks at him to keep away from me, especially when food is around, but I don’t think his sternness is going to last. Eventually, they’ll have to work something out.

I have been most impressed by Noizy at night. I was worried about him sleeping alone. Arran sleeps with us, as all of our dogs except CC have done. Noizy is way too big for the bed, though, and he needs a bath something awful (that will be a two person job for sure). He also hasn’t been brave enough to visit the other floors in the house, where the bathing facilities are. In any case, when it’s bed time, so far he’s just curled up on the little bed he’s made and been quiet all night. He doesn’t move from his spot. I have yet to find any pee spots. Arran is notorious stealth pee-er. Noizy has done almost all of his business outside, with the exception of a couple of submission pees. However… I can see that we’re going to go through a lot more shit bags, because Noizy’s poops are big, like he is!

I’m trying to teach him to use the dog bed. It’s not quite big enough for him, but our other dogs never used it much. Once he learns what it’s for, we’ll get him one of his own and station it somewhere away from the doors to the backyard.

Noizy has also learned to eat and drink from a bowl. Based on how he eats, I get the sense that he had to wolf his food down because of other dogs being around. Now, he’s learning that he can relax. Just today, I convinced him to try a dog treat. Arran loves them, but Noizy wasn’t so sure until he finally tasted one. I am hoping he’ll like the treats because they will help in training him. He’s definitely not very food oriented, though. He didn’t even want a little bit of chicken I offered him.

I look forward to teaching him to walk nicely on the leash so we can take walks. I’m sure my neighbors will be astonished when they see him. He really is quite a sight. I have a feeling he is going to go down as one of the most special dogs I’ve ever had. Just his story is amazing. He could have easily died on a street in Kosovo, a tiny puppy taken from his mom too young in a country where people don’t really care for dogs very much.

Instead, he was handed over to Meg, who had no idea what he would grow up to be. Meg has told us that Noizy represents hope to her. The young man who gave him to her didn’t know where else to take him, but didn’t want to see him die. That young man gave him an amazing chance. What were the odds that the tiny puppy left for dead would end up being adopted by Americans in Germany?

I’ve often thought about that with our other dogs, too… all of whom (with the exception of CC) have lived in Germany. What are the odds that these dogs, born in rural America and tossed away, would end up living in Germany?

In any case, I’m sure we will have our challenges. Noizy is not like any dog I have ever had in my life. But he is just such a sweetheart and so eager to please. I am delighted to finally know him after six months of waiting. It was worth everything to get him here. And so many people deserve a hearty thanks for making it happen.

One final matter… Yesterday, Bill reported to the German court, as requested. He saw the pet taxi driver who had caused the death of Jonny, the first dog we hoped to adopt over here. She didn’t acknowledge Bill at all and seemed completely nonchalant and callous about the whole thing. It turned out the magistrate, who had been the one who had answered the phone last week when Bill called to tell them he’d need an interpreter, had supposedly told Bill he didn’t need to come to court. She also said there was a letter, which there hasn’t been yet. In any case, Bill made the trip for nothing and it turned out we hadn’t needed to rush back to Germany, after all. Also, Bill noticed that everyone was dressed very casually. Even the magistrate wore jeans. Bill had put on a coat and tie. Ah well. We’ll close the book on that whole situation. We have our new family member now, and I think it was meant to be. And if Jonny hadn’t died, we wouldn’t have Noizy… who is a unique delight in every way.

I’m still not sure what we’re going to do about Noizy’s name. He comes from Kosovo, though, which is mostly made up of people who are ethnic Albanians. My German friend says there is an Albanian rapper named Noizy. Noizy was named because of the screeches he made when he was calling out for help as a little puppy, but he’s now a very quiet dog… but I hate to put him through yet another change. He’s already adapted to so much. I can’t wait to see him turn into a confident, happy house dog. I’ll be sure to keep updating this blog as that inevitably happens.

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part five

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So there we were on a rainy Saturday in beautiful Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. We ate sandwiches and drank local beer as Meg updated us on her progress. She had left Kosovo at about 7:30am and promptly encountered an hour long wait at the Serbian border. I have never been to Kosovo or Serbia, but evidently, it is a very Muslim populated area and Muslims typically aren’t very fond of dogs. Noizy saw some street dogs at the border and barked at them. Next thing Meg knew, a whole bunch of street dogs were attacking her vehicle. Consequently, she decided to sedate Noizy.

Meg is a very well connected person in the former Yugoslavia. She lived and worked in Kosovo and Croatia and can speak some of the language. A vet kindly hooked her up with some squirtable medication. It looked like the type of container I had seen used for horse wormers. You squirt a little in the dog’s mouth and it’s nap time. Evidently, that’s what happened with Noizy. He was soon down for the count, which I’m sure was a blessing, given what came later.

As Meg crossed over into Croatia some hours later, her car began to run funny. She got warning lights indicating that the transmission may be failing. Meg was upset, because she had taken her car to a dealer to have it checked– an Urlaub exam– and it had passed with flying colors. Now, here she was with three dogs, about four hours from her final destination, and the car was acting up. She pulled off at a gas station just beyond a construction zone where the car had been running slowly, got some gas, took the dogs out for a pee, and decided it was time to call ADAC (German auto club). Unfortunately, Meg doesn’t have ADAC Plus, which offers service all over Europe, so they couldn’t help her.

Bill, who was fretting about having to drive all day Sunday to make it to the Monday morning court appearance that turned out to be for naught, said to me, “I think this is going to turn into a rescue mission”. Meanwhile, Anne and Kyle, who had also come down from Germany to get dogs, were asking Meg if she needed them to come get her.

At this point, I remembered how, back in December 2019, Bill and I were unexpectedly stuck in Beaune, France, because some asshole decided to puncture our brand new tire while we were at a rest stop. We also had to call ADAC. Fortunately, we have ADAC Plus. I am writing this to remind any Americans who are reading this and live (and drive) in Europe to make sure you have auto club coverage AND it covers you everywhere. We have had to use ADAC at least twice during our three tours in Germany and it definitely pays for itself when they bail you out of a vehicular mechanical nightmare in a strange town.

So, the hours stretched on, and it became clear that we wouldn’t be fetching Noizy on Saturday night, as planned. Bill asked Meg if he needed to come to her, but thankfully Anne and Kyle were able to spend another day, plus they’re a lot younger than we are. So they went to convoy with Meg… she followed them with the dogs and they finally arrived in Kranjska Gora at about 5:00am. Incidentally, that also reminds me of the time Bill and I, and his mom, got stuck in Italy and spent all night trying to come back to Germany, where our hotel room was. Yep… this kind of shit easily happens in Europe. We still talk about that situation, even though it happened in July 2009.

While I’m not glad that Meg’s car had problems, I am glad that we were able to get Noizy on Sunday morning instead of Saturday night. I didn’t know quite how large he is, nor did I know how Arran would react to him. He’s also still working on his leash training. It would have been a challenge having him in such close quarters with Arran the first night, especially in a place where walls are shared. However, he has been a gentleman since we brought him home. Arran keeps his distance, but I think he’ll eventually come around.

We spent Saturday night watching for news of Meg’s progress– she had a bunch of people offering advice. I am thoroughly impressed by her ability to make helpful connections!

At about 7:30am on Sunday, I sent Meg a message that we were on our way to her. She was staying at a little gasthaus outside of the town. It looked really nice. In fact, I think I would have preferred it to where we stayed. There was a nice field behind it where people were doing early morning yoga as we approached. I watched one guy do a headstand.

Meg was standing in the parking lot with Noizy, who was a striking sight. He’s a very tall dog… much taller than any of our others by far. And he has very bold coloring. It made for a very brilliant appearance with the mountain backdrop and fall colors. This was also the first time I had ever seen Meg, too. She turned out to be different than I was expecting.

When I was growing up, I had a neighbor from Pennsylvania who reminded me a lot of Meg and I had imagined her to look like my old neighbor. As it always happens when I form a mind’s eye, the picture I had in my head didn’t match my imagination.

We parked the car and I got Arran out. He went up to Noizy and gave him a sniff, then moved off to smell all of the other stuff. Bill took Noizy’s leash, but it appeared that Noizy was pretty scared of Bill. He backed up wildly. I was really glad he was in a harness. I heard the rush of water and was curious, so I took Arran to see where it was coming from. I also got a video of Arran and Noizy meeting. It wasn’t quite as magic as when Arran met Zane, but at least there wasn’t any bloodshed!

I could tell that Meg was very sad to give Noizy up. She has a very deep and special bond with him, having raised him from the time he was a tiny puppy. When I see Noizy now and compare him to pictures of him as a puppy, I’m reminded of a very cheesy cartoon from my childhood called Dinky Dog. This could be the story of Noizy’s life!

This theme seems a bit influenced by The Brady Bunch.

A local lady seemed keen to talk to us as we were getting to know Noizy. I’ve got to hand it to Meg, who rather firmly but kindly asked her to leave us alone as we got acquainted and worked to get Noizy loaded up and ready to go. I think some tears were shed by Meg and Noizy. He’s clearly very special to her and I am honored that she allowed us to add him to our family.

Because Noizy seemed really nervous, we gave him a little more sedative, enough to take the edge off for a couple of hours. Then we loaded him into the back of the Volvo. He fit perfectly and slept for most of the way back, even after the drug wore off. We didn’t hear a peep from him or even see him. He was very content to nap the whole way back. He’s a good traveler.

More on that in the next post!

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part four

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I have mentioned before that I think Austria is an extremely beautiful country. We haven’t spent enough time there, which is a shame, because it’s a small country that has huge things to offer. I love the scenery there. There are enormous mountains, babbling brooks, Dirndl clad ladies and men in Lederhosen, and lots of great food. I like Austrian food more than German food. Yes, there is a difference.

It seems like Austrian food has a little dash of Italian to it… and it also seems like there’s more variety to it. It’s not just Schnitzel, sausages, Spatzle, potatoes and cabbage. And yes, I know I’m inviting criticism from my few German readers for writing this. But I also know that some of them are reading because they want to know what things look like from an American point of view. Well, I am American, and this is my point of view, even if it’s not entirely accurate. You know what they say about perspectives. I know Germany has a variety of different specialties throughout the land, but for some reason, Austrian food just seems slightly different to me. Not that we had much of a chance to eat it during this whirlwind trip.

I was expecting Bill to stop for lunch. He never did. I don’t know how he hasn’t learned in almost eighteen years of marriage that it’s good to take a break. On the other hand, there weren’t that many appealing stops on the way down to the Slovenian border. We did stop at one place so I could pee. It was pouring down rain, though. I also remember having to pay a toll of 12,50 euros before we could go through Katschburg Pass. Bill was freaking out because the toll was done by machine and it wouldn’t accept his Bar (cash). I told him he should just take his time. People would have to wait. It’s not like they don’t make us wait when they have business to attend to.

Anyway, as we approached the border, we ended up on a narrow mountain road behind some guy who didn’t seem to know which was was up. There were many wrong turn signals, a few weaves and bobs in the road, and slow speeds. The drive over the mountain was very beautiful. The leaves are turning, so the colors were dramatic against the stormy skies. There’s a bunker museum on the mountain road. We saw a lot of signs and had we not had Arran and it hadn’t been raining, it would have made for an interesting stop for Bill. It was built during the Cold War to make sure no one from former Yugoslavia would cross into Austria and raise a ruckus. Again… I would love to visit Kransjka Gora again, so maybe someday we’ll get a chance to visit.

Here are some photos from our drive down from Salzburg.

We rented an “apartment” for our night in Slovenia. I didn’t realize it was really more of a hotel apartment. We told the proprietor that we’d be there at 2:00pm, since they told us they needed an hour to get to Kranjska Gora. We actually arrived earlier than 2:00, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to message them through Booking.com. We just waited for a car. Well… first, Bill went to a tiny grocery store near the apartment and picked up a few essentials. Kranjska Gora is very close to both the Italian and Austrian borders. It must have been interesting to live there when Slovenia was still part of a closed society.

After we picked up a few items, we went back to the suite hotel and met the young lady who showed us our digs for the night. For about 86 euros, we got a little place with a bed, a sitting room, basic kitchen facilities, and a bathroom with a tiny shower. It was very clean and had what we needed, but it wasn’t quite as nice as our place in Salzburg. The floors were tile, which makes for easy cleaning, but chilly quarters. Still, it was just fine for a night and the price was right. Checking out was equally a breeze. All we had to do was dump the trash and leave the keys on the kitchen table. That was perfect for our purposes. The place we stayed was called G&F apartments on Booking.com, but it was in the Hotel Klass building, which is very close to the town center. I prepaid for the room and we had to pay four euros for the tourist tax. There wasn’t a pet fee and Arran was definitely not the only dog there.

Our original plan was to get Noizy at about 8:00pm, as that was when Meg was supposed to arrive with him and two other dogs who got new homes. Another American couple, based at Ramstein, I believe, were coming down to pick up a dog for themselves and transport another to a German family in Bavaria (I think). That other couple turned out to be a godsend. More on that in the next part.

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part two

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A couple of weeks ago, Bill and I were deciding the best way to go about picking up Noizy. Our older dog, Arran, is sweet, but he gets very jealous. Every day, there were new reports of the worsening COVID-19 situation. Also, the woman who interviewed Bill and me before we were approved to adopt Jonny had warned us that it would be best if Arran could enter the house before the new dog. Otherwise, it would be like a wife coming home to “another woman”, so to speak. That lady had also been very careful to tell us about the proper way to secure rescue dogs when they first come home. We’d heard the same advice seven years ago, when we adopted Arran. Using a collar and harness and connecting them together is the best practice… or carrying them inside the house while they’re in a box.

We have a great Tierpension who has taken excellent care of Arran and Zane, but they have limited pick up hours. If we put Arran in the pension, there was a risk the new dog would be home before he would. Also, I didn’t fancy the idea of being stuck at the border somewhere. Been there done that in post Soviet Armenia. Bringing Arran was also a little concerning, since I knew he might fight with the new dog and we have a 2020 Volvo. So, at first, I was thinking maybe I’d stay home with Arran and Bill would run down to Slovenia and get Noizy by himself. But then I reconsidered it and decided all three of us would journey to Slovenia.

With that decided, we set about planning the trip. I quickly determined that Salzburg would be a good halfway point between home and Slovenia. In fact, Salzburg was a midway stop we made in 2016, when we went to Lake Bled for vacation. We stopped on the way back to Germany that time. On the way down, we stopped in Gosau, near Hallstatt, a must see Austrian town that is really only necessary to see one time. However, the inn where we stayed in Gosau was probably one of my favorites ever!

I quickly found a really nice, pet friendly, bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Salzburg. The place I found, Die Haslachmühle, is a renovated mill house that dates from 1688. I booked us in their largest room, mainly because I didn’t want Arran to cause a fuss. It was 152 euros, but it had a huge balcony and a gorgeous masonry heater in the middle of the room. The B&B is not kid friendly. In fact, I don’t think they’re allowed. But parking is free.

One night in Salzburg booked, I found us an apartment in Kranjska Gora, which was where we planned to pick up Noizy. This border town is just a few miles from Italy and Austria, and boasts rugged mountain views. It’s obviously a ski area for Slovenia. Meg has been there a few times and highly recommended it. Having now been there, I can understand why. We’ll definitely have to go back!

Then, thinking we’d have an extra night, I booked us an apartment in Chiemsee, which is an area in Germany near Lake Chiemsee, a large freshwater lake near the Austrian border. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

The very next day, while Bill was on a business trip in Stuttgart, I went to the mailbox and there was a letter from Rheinland-Pfalz. It was a summons to be a witness in court. Naturally, as we are in Germany, the documents were all in German. I had to slowly translate everything… and basically, the document read that Bill was to be a witness for the pet rescue, which was suing the pet taxi driver whose negligence caused Jonny’s death.

The court date was for October 5th– today– which meant that we would not be able to stay a third night on our trip. Bill tried to get the case postponed. He called the court and got the magistrate, who didn’t speak English at all (he didn’t know she was the magistrate at the time). Bill also emailed the rescue, who said they would arrange for an interpreter and let Bill know if that couldn’t be done. He never heard from the court or the rescue, so he figured he was bound to show up. In the paperwork, it mentioned fines of up to 1000 euros for not showing up and/or a special “escort” from the police. Bill was more than happy to testify, since he’s been haunted by that accident since March.

I cancelled the third night and we awaited Friday, October 2, when we’d make our way down to Slovenia to meet Noizy. I dreaded the long drive. Neither Bill nor I enjoy long road trips anymore. It’s probably a good seven or eight hours’ drive to Kranjska Gora from Wiesbaden. But Bill was determined to fulfill his civic duty.

With that settled, I started looking for stuff to buy for our new pooch. We wanted to make sure he was properly outfitted for the drive. But then it occurred to me that I couldn’t judge his size very well from the photos and videos Meg sent us. Many of them were taken when he was still a puppy. I have adorable videos of him as a tiny baby, some of him as an adolescent, and not too many of him fully grown. Having wrongly guessed sizes on dogs before, I decided it would be better to wait until he got home to us. Meg promised he’d have a collar and harness, at the very least.

Friday morning, we set off on our journey to Salzburg.

Our pandemic dog rescue story… part one

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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 turned into 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 found about it the morning after we lost him. The pet rescue found out first, because Jonny had a chip. 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 it 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.

New toy causes odd reaction in Arran…

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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.

Scenes from the ‘hood…

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We have beautiful weather today, so I decided to take Arran for a walk. As usual, I came armed with my camera, just in case anything interesting happened. Sure enough, something did. As I was passing someone’s gate with a crayon drawing on it that read “Wir bleiben zuhause”, Arran suddenly turned. The resident of the house, a middle aged woman with a German Shepherd, was coming out. The pretty female dog started barking and she and Arran touched noses.

The lady went across the street, headed to our usual route. She was speaking German to me, naturally, so I responded, “Entschuldigung. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch.” Naturally, she switched to perfect English and explained that her dog always barks at other dogs, but is a friendly female. I could see that. She was a pretty girl!

I wanted to take a photo of the crayon drawing on her gate, but decided not to at that time, because it would look strange. Instead, I took a few other photos…

Then Arran and I went our usual route and passed a few folks. One guy was cutting grass near his garden. Another looked like he’d gone to the Rewe. Another was a young dad with his little girl on her bike. He kind of herded her away from us as we passed. I saw a couple of people responsibly visiting in the main “square” such as it is. They were standing well apart from each other. A neighbor and another guy looked like they were going to do some repair work in the yard.

The weather is getting better and I fear it will be hard to keep people contained for much longer. This is the time of year when people go back to eating al fresco and sitting in Biergartens. Just yesterday, I noticed a neighbor in a bikini, lying in the sun. It was about 50 degrees outside, but she was unfazed, and only went back inside because she got a delivery. The same guy came back about twenty minutes later to bring us a bottle of rum and a new pizza stone. He was sort of wearing a N95 mask. It was around his neck, anyway, kind of hanging down. Looked kind of pointless.

Today, we’re getting a tequila delivery. I am giving some thought to using Duolingo again and, maybe, breaking down and buying a guitar. Gotta do something other than type blog posts, sing songs, and watch bad TV. Although the veterinarian who owns our local practice is a singer and even put a video on Facebook. Good for him! I have not met him yet when we’ve taken our dogs to vet, but if I ever do, maybe we can bond over singing.