Freckle – week 1 & 2

Pictures at: Flickr – The Freckle Era

Lexi/Freckles has been with us two weeks tomorrow (December 23). And what a couple of weeks it has been. But I’ll start at the beginning.

We drove down to Marysville, WA on Saturday two weeks ago to meet a CUR (Canine Underground Railroad) volunteer bringing two Boxers and two or three Border Collies from Idaho to Washington. Mary Doug had arranged to meet him just off the highway at a MacDonald’s. We got there early, knowing that Bob had commitments in the afternoon and wouldn’t appreciate having to wait for us. We had a MacDonald’s lunch (a flash to the [ugly] past!) while we sat nervously peering out the window and glancing at our watches. We joked that people must have thought it quite a sight—two middle-aged Canadian women anxiously waiting for … something.

At two o’clock (15 minutes early), a white pickup with a canopy pulled in and Bob got out to greet the Border Collie connection—a woman driving a maroon SUV. Bob looked at us as we rushed up to him and said simply, “Gotta leash?” We dashed to our rental car, got the leash, and then met Lexi. When we saw her pictures on the North Idaho Boxer Rescue site, they showed a girl with quite a long snout. Well, when we saw her wiggling her way out of her travel crate, there was no doubt that she was 100% Boxer! We lifted her down from the back of the truck and spent the next 20 hours trying to get her to pee! But more about that later.

We walked Lexi around a grassy area surrounding the MacDonald’s for 30-40 minutes. She was very sweet … obviously concerned… looking for Bob and then staring intently at people around us, looking for someone familiar. Finally we gave up on the peeing and coaxed her into the blanket-clad back seat of the car. She was very tentative and waited to have her back end lifted in. We decided that we’d better find a pet supply shop and buy the dog food she was used to eating because we would most likely get back to Vancouver after everything was closed. We also found a self-serve dog-shower to give her a bath as she was quite oily from all of her recent stress and travel—you know how traveling makes you feel! The dog bath is another story (the dog-ro-mat had just closed but kindly agreed to let us bathe her). Getting Lexi up the ramp to the tub, the actual (but short) bath and the “Christmas cologne” NOT!) is quite another story! Her patience with us is even greater testimony to the forgiveness of creatures.

Our trip home was long. There was some sort of unusual security check-point just before the border—they were looking for someone or something. Once we got to the border, there was not even a question about Lexi, despite the fact that she stood up and stuck her head up to Mary Doug’s open window with a “Just who do you think you are?” attitude. We were further delayed by an over-turned truck loaded with bricks and had to make our way home over one of the bridges east of the tunnel. Lexi slept much of the time, stretched out on the back seat.

It was raining when we arrived home and Mary Doug brought Ceilidh, our Pug, outside to meet Lexi. They sniffed each other and then ignored one another while we went for a walk—one of the first of several that night in an effort to get Lexi to pee!

After several half-hour walks, Lexi went to our back patio window and began to pee in the house around midnight (an unbelievable 20 hours after her last pee). Mary Doug found her and said “No, Lexi … wait.” Lexi leapt across the bed – but forgot to turn off the faucet. Ah well … several loads of laundry later and a few more walks (without peeing), and we all turned in.

After an uneventful, but short night, I arose at 5:00 am. Lexi seemed to think that this was the normal time to get up. I immediately took her for a 35 minute walk – with no elimination of any sort. [Nothing like a brisk walk on a Sunday morning!] Mary Doug and I conferred and decided that this could be a bladder problem… we called our vet and made an appointment.

Dr. Huggins and the (very familiar) staff at the Granville Island Clinic oohed and aaahhhed over Lexi. The decision was to take a “sterile sample” by inserting a needle into Lexi’s bladder through her tummy to find out whether she had a bladder infection. We were told that Lexi licked the technicians’ faces non-stop while this procedure was underway. Results would be back the following day. [No infection was found.]

Home we went and on for a walk before going into the apartment. Immediately after arriving home from her procedure, Lexi peed—an enormous pee!

So we began a week of getting to know each other—Lexi, me, Mary Doug, and Ceilidh. We began with the first night’s phone call to the North Idaho Boxer Rescue to let them know that Lexi had arrived home safely. In conversation, Mary Doug learned that Lexi’s original name was “Freckles.” Ahaa! This explained why she didn’t respond when we called her “Lexi”—at all! We started to call her Freckles/Lexi … with some response. More often we called her Freckles (with good response) … and to this day, we have to pause to think of exactly what to call her. She gets variations of: Flexi, Sassy, Freckie, Lexi, or a pregnant pause … depending on the moment. My feeling is that we’ll probably go with Freckles for a time until she’s settled. A friend suggested we call her “Freckle.” We quite like this variation and it will still sound familiar to her.

As we approach our two-week anniversary it’s amazing how much more relaxed Lexi/Freckle is each day. She sleeps soundly through the night until 7:30 or later. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience with commands—in English at least. Mary Doug tried telling her “siente” and she sat immediately. Is she just really smart or was she trained in Spanish? Who knows? She really is very, very smart though and is learning quickly. We’re working on recall, sit, stay and wait for now.

Freckle(s) and Ceilidh are getting along fairly well. The second day we had a little bit of a kerfuffle around food—Freckles hadn’t figured out that there is way more love and food than she can ever use. We keep the two of them separate now around food and all seems well. They cuddle on the dog couch/in the window bed, etc.

Each day Freckles seems to be more confident and is more independent. She’ll now sleep in her window bed while we’re at the other end of the apartment. She is quite clingy though and sticks very close to us for the most part. She is a very beautiful Boxer with lovely white socks and a bit of white on her neck and part of her face. As most of you know, she’s had an accident and some kind of damage to her muzzle. Her lip gets caught up on the right side and her tongue droops out between ½ to 1 inch—depending. When she’s tired, that side of her face seems to droop a bit as if she’s had some nerve damage. It’s a very endearing characteristic and makes us smile a lot. Other than that, she seems pretty healthy. Dr. Huggins says that her heart sounds good—always a concern with Boxers. She’s pretty regular with her elimination now – pees 2-3 times a day and has just started marking various parts of the neighbourhood. And after day two, she made it clear that she expected to have something MORE than kibble. She smelled Ceilidh’s food (oatmeal, veggies and cooked ground turkey) and was quite indignant to be given kibble on its own! So … Freckles is now thriving on kibble and a mixture of oatmeal and cooked ground turkey. We’ll switch her over to a home diet in time.

We know that we have a long way to go before Freckles will really know that this is her forever home. Whenever we go out in the car or when someone comes to the apartment she clearly believes that she’s going to be passed on to another home. We’ve been making a point of going out and leaving Freckles and Ceilidh alone (in separate rooms so far) for 1-2 or so hours every day. Freckles seems very claustrophobic with her crate so she has the full run of the living room and hallway. She’s never touched a thing and is extremely joyful when we come home—a truly beautiful thing to see! We’ve set up a tape recorder to hear how she handles the first 45 minutes of our absence. Apart from the occasional small whine or moan, she sounds fairly relaxed. And she doesn’t seem particularly stressed when we get back. She is a terrific girl and as always, we are so inspired by the forgiveness and patience that creatures seem to have. We’ll have more later as the story unfolds.

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