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Happy Birthday Hounds!

>> Friday, January 8, 2010

I just realized that I completely missed the hounds' birthday.  It was Wednesday, I think.  So a belated happy birthday, kids!

(Don't they look enthusiastic?  This is one of the many reasons I don't have human kids.  They care not a jot that I forgot their birthday.)

We've never known for sure the real birth date for any of our pets since we always take in strays with who knows what history.  We adopted the hounds from the local Humane Association when they were supposedly 2 years old.  Their prior owner had surrendered them and had actually completed some paperwork about them.  The spot for birthday on the form read "January 6, 2006".  That makes them 4.  Or 28 in dog years.  They act more like 4.

It's been a rough road with these two.  It's amazing how much damage can be done in early years of mistreatment and/or neglect and an extended stint in a shelter.  But they've come a long way, and most days I find them excellent companions and friends.  Most days.  When I'm not cleaning poo off the carpet or fishing valuables out of Simon's mouth.

There is, by the way, no such thing as a dog-proof house.  A dozen baby gates and everything up high be damned - they always find a way to get into something.

I'll never adopt litter mates again, though, as it made it infinitely harder to bond with them.  For a long time we thought it would be impossible.  I really feel for the parents of twins!  Instead of turning to their humans for guidance, instruction and security, they rely almost exclusively on each other.  They are the most symbiotic and codependent creatures I have ever encountered.  They even typically sleep in identical positions, or at least mirror images of one another.

Training them?  Not easy.  For weeks in obedience school we couldn't convince them to stop paying attention to each other long enough to focus on what we were asking of them, even with bits of hot dog in our hands.  But separating them back then for an hour at a time so they could attend separate classes wasn't possible for me to endure - I could not handle the kind of panic attacks Lucy would exhibit when separated from her brother for that long.  The vet and (bless her heart) very patient trainer agreed that it couldn't be good for them to force the issue.

They have definitely come a long way, as they now have enough confidence that we can even take them to the vet separately if we have to (so long as they're each with a human and not left alone), but it was a heck of a project to get them to that point.  And the pure ecstatic joy they exhibit when they're reunited after even a few minutes apart makes me both shake my head in bewilderment and makes a little teary eyed.

Just because they can endure separation for brief stints when necessary, don't think they aren't still ridiculously symbiotic.  By way of example, Lucy's never gotten the hang of asking to go outside when she needs to go, and now Simon consistently asks to go out when it's really Lucy who has to go.  (Thank you, Simon.  You have no idea how much I appreciate that little trick).

They spend their days locked in the same crate together because if you put them in separate crates Lucy tries to dig her way out obsessively until her paws bleed.  After spending all that time stuck touching each other, they burst out of the crate and rip around the house and yard, playing like maniacs.  If I spent 8 hours a day physically touching somebody I'd want to spend a few hours on my own afterward, that's for sure, no matter how much I liked the person.  They then collapse in a heap to rest.  On top of one another.

They occasionally do get on each other's nerves - usually for short bursts that last less than 15 seconds.  Lucy generally wins the spats, for what it's worth.  I don't think they'd survive long without one another, and I try not to think about how we'll cope when one dies before the other. Hopefully it will be a long time before we have to cross that particular bridge.  After all, they're young 'uns, right?

Well, anyway, despite all the torment you've dished out, my fine canine friends, I'm mighty glad your birthday happened, and that you wormed your wrinkly, droopy, stubborn, codependent ways into my house and heart.


Carol January 9, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

I tend to feel the way you do about the critters. My yard looks terrible...hogs have dug up an area...armadillo leaves big holes...raccoons try to get the bird feeders. yet, I would rather have a mess and not a finely manicured lawn and all the little critters feel at home here.
I love those dogs. Every dog I've owned has been a hand-me-down...and they've always been worth the trouble.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire: January 9, 2010 at 9:25 AM  

Wow, Carol - you hit the nail exactly on the head! From all our cats and dogs and the mess they create, to the skunk who lives under the dining room and digs holes all over our yard, and the scrubby unweeded portion of the garden that's been left alone for its resident toad, the place most certainly belongs to the furry, winged, scaly and warty. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

Ellen Rathbone January 9, 2010 at 4:13 PM  

But your pooches are just soooooo photogenic!!!

Happy Belated, Lucy and Simon.

Holly January 9, 2010 at 5:09 PM  

Did you read Where the Red Fern Grows? I you haven't, you shouldn't. I cried for a month.

They are so sweet.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire: January 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM  

*Groan* - Holly!!! I have tried to forget about that book! It ranks up there with Old Yeller and The Yearling for stories about animals that broke my heart when I was a kid. You're completely right, though, and I'm amazed I hadn't made the connection before. They're very much like Old Dan and Little Ann... except with less intelligence and talent. The questions is, can I bear to re-read it? Haven't read it probably since about 5th grade.

Anonymous January 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

LOL! Gorgeous! They're such bookends! They take such wonderful pics Gorgeous hounds. Congrats to them and you!

barefootheart January 18, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

What a pair! I especially like the second to last photo, with the ears out. I'm so glad to hear they found a home with someone who was patient with them. On behalf of all us animal lovers, thank you.
I can't bear sad animal stories, but one dog-dies ending I found especially touching was Stone Fox.

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