Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Barking Snowbirds

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Andrea and her two barking snowbirds, Tigger and Ruby.

TALES

Andrea and and her husband, Howard, both retired school teachers, have two dogs, Tigger, a dachshund-schnauzer mix and Ruby, a red mini-dachshund.

"We adopted Ruby purely by 'accident' when we stopped by our friend Sina's home to see her dog's puppies. Howard was a total goner over the stand-offish puppy who wouldn't come out from under the couch. Every night after dinner, here we'd come again to see the puppies.  It was like treasure hunting trying to find that shy puppy under the couch," laughs Andrea.

The first time we saw the litter, they were all spoken for.  So we thought we were totally safe from adopting one! Then a prospective buyer backed out so Howard ended up with his sought-after-shy-puppy-under-the-couch 'treasure', Ruby, after all, who is a real gem!

I wasn't sure how a new puppy would fit in with our retiree lifestyle, but Sina promised to dog sit for us when needed. Even now, 8 years later, Ruby leaps out of the car at Sina's house happily barking, "Mom! I'm home!"            

When Ruby was 5, after much deliberation, we decided to get a second dog. We saw an ad for a wirehaired dachshund in The Sentinel. The "parents" were both yellow doxies, but there was a wirehaired puppy in the litter and she was adorable!

The owner wisely waited until we were both set on the puppy before telling us that the puppy might be half Schnauzer! We don't breed our dogs (both were spayed at 3 months of age) so the mixed ancestry wasn't a deterrent," said Andrea. "As it turns out, Tigger became more adorable as she grew into a long-haired creature with bushy eyebrows, very obviously half Schnauzer."

Howard and Andrea have two children living in Arizona, so for several winters they've made frequent trips south as Cottage Grove Snow Birds. Two years ago when they went to "meet" their newest grandson, their daughter said, "Phoenix real estate prices are at rock bottom. If you've ever considered a second home here, now is the time."

"We found a 3-bedroom home that had been vacant for two years, in a retirement community. It needed work, but the price was good, and we liked the community, so we bought it," said Howard. How wonderful! They found a bit of paradise that is not in Cottage Grove. Their Arizona development even has 4 lakes!

"We walk the paths around the lakes enjoying the sunshine, the myriad of bird species and the other dogs and walkers. We love Cottage Grove, but in the winter it is a joy to be able to walk every day after dinner with our dogs in Arizona's warmth. We were delighted to learn that most of the dogs we encounter on our walks are rescues from shelters; some of them fantastic, beautiful purebreds. Sadly, as the number of foreclosures have risen in Arizona, so have the number of perfectly lovable, trained pets who have lost their homes and families. We certainly would not hesitate to adopt a shelter dog when we "need" another pet.

If Andrea and Howard are snowbirds traveling south for the winter, does that make their dogs snowdogs?  Maybe not because being from Oregon, all four of them might classify as rainbirds, instead. 

TIPS

"Traveling to our winter home takes 3 days," said Andrea. "During the drive, we are concerned for our dogs' safety, so we bought them each a doggy-seat belt-harness. The harness clips into the human seat belt keeping the dogs secure in case of a vehicular crash or sudden stop. 

People don't realize that in vehicle crashes pets often escape the vehicle and run off becoming lost and/or injured, or they fly through the windshield, or growl at the paramedics, preventing immediate medical help for their pet parents.  Howard and I feel comfortable traveling long distances knowing that our dogs won't "accidentally" end up wandering or lost in the middle of a desert or in a mountain range."

Mary Ellen's daughter, Ariel, rescued an 8-year-old rescue with cataracts.  "I bought the herb Eyebright in bulk from a health food store," said Ariel.  "I buzzed the dried herb up in a blender, kept it in a jar, and sprinkled a tiny bit over Lilly's dog food.  Within a week, my husband and I noticed that Lilly's eyes were a tad clearer and she's no longer afraid to walk up and down the stairs."
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