Thursday, December 30, 2004

The new arrival

We returned from our Christmas trip to New Jersey late last night with our new dog, Jelly (formerly known as Jillian). We picked her up from her foster family in Long Island yesterday afternoon. It made for a loooong drive back -- we left my parents' house on the Jersey shore at 2 and pulled into our driveway at 10:45 -- but it was a far better choice than picking her up on the way down and subjecting her to the craziness of Sam (the poodle) and Gabby (the spaniel mix).

It was slightly bizarre to drive to the home of these random strangers, sit down with them for about an hour and then leave with a new dog. We simply plopped her in the back seat with Rocky, fed them both a tasty treat and headed for the Throg's Neck bridge and New England. Rocky got irritable when Jelly encroached upon her bed, but they worked things out after a while -- by which I mean Jelly slid onto the floor and slept there for the entire drive, and Rocky lured her way onto a lap in the front seat.

I like Jelly a lot, but even in the less-than-24-hours we've known her, it's clear that she has more "issues" than the rescue people let us know about. First, she's filthy. Poop crusted to her butt, matts on her chest, eye gunk matted around her nose. Her fur is dirty, and Darren thought he spotted a flea this morning. That's pretty easy to fix: Our fabulous groomer, who's been making Rocky the lovely creature she is for the last four years, is actually open Saturday -- New Year's day -- and was willing to squeeze Jelly in for a makeover. We'll pick up some Frontline and get the bugs eliminated, too.

Jelly also has trouble walking. With the exception of the kitchen, our entire first floor has hardwood floors. We have area rugs in each room, but there's still a fair amount of wood, and a few raised lintels. So she slips and trips and generally seems uncomfortable there. She also has excessively long toenails, so we're unsure how much of her discomfort when walking is just caused by the nails pushing into her pads.

Nor does she handle stairs well. This morning she woke up at 6:15 -- the rescue people were getting up at 5 every day, so it's going to take a little time for her to adjust to our schedule -- with an apparent need to pee. Darren and I were laying in bed, me with a thermometer plugged in my mouth and him trying desperately to wake up to take her out, when we heard her tumble down the staircase. Not good. When we take her out, she pees on the snow-covered deck unless we carry her down to the yard.

She also drinks a ton of water -- one bowl-ful already today. Rocky drinks very little, due to a long list of anxieties she apparently has about the water dish, so this is a change for us. It also makes me nervous about kidney issues, which is one of the things that caused Sparky's illness and death. However, she was sharing a space with 11 other foster dogs, so perhaps she thinks she needs to get water while she can. Hard to say.

The biggest question, though, is whether she can hear at all. She doesn't respond when we call her, nor did she react when Darren snapped his fingers and clapped behind her head. The rescue people said she knows her name, but we have not gotten her to react to anything other than the sight of food being prepared or the sensation of being touched.

We were told she's seven, which is what the shelter in Brooklyn, which picked her up as a stray, estimated. From her behavior and her health issues, though, we think she might be older. We'll take her to our vet for a going-over next week and see what they think.

It's a lot to take on, and I'm slightly nervous about her general health. After all we went through with Sparky, I'm not sure I can handle another short-lived canine companion. However, she is very, very sweet. Rocky doesn't mind her at all, which is about the best we can ask for at this point. And she's completely in love with Darren -- follows him around the house and lays next to him when he sits. Her most endearing trait thus far is that she snores just like a little person. (She's laying next to me on one of Rocky's beds, snoring and grumbling a bit in her sleep. In fact, he just came in from the grocery store and she hasn't stirred a bit. Definitely deaf.)

So despite a bit of frustration that the rescue didn't seem to notice her other problems, we're looking forward to providing a good home for little Jelly and figuring out what makes her comfortable. Pics to come after her spa visit on Saturday.