December 12, 2009


Both quilts are completely done and labels have been attached which relate information about the quilt for posterity. The three pillows are finished, one will go with the Tiny Paws Quilt and two with the Kelly Quilt. I'm going to be looking for boxes to pack these in tomorrow as I want them packed and ready to ship when the new owners' names are given to me. They should still get to their new homes in time for Christmas.

It has been a fascinating journey, from an envelope full of quilt blocks made by many different people to a pair of finished, queen sized quilts with coordinating pillows but I can't say I'm sad to have it done. It was quite chaotic at times, organizing what needed to be done, by what date and by whom. A lifesaver was a friend who makes quilts and just happens to be the person that got me hooked on Rat Terriers. She assembled the top of the quilt and put bindings on them after the quilting was done.

I made the pillows, using the blocks that wouldn't fit in the quilts. Having done very little sewing since high school, I was surprised at how much fun I was having working on the quilts and pillows. Of course, being a little OCD, I ended up buying a new sewing machine after starting the project. My new machine has over 70 special stitches plus it will do letters, although they are rather small. I used several of the stitches on the pillows, including the blanket stitch on the cranberry stripes and a leafy vine design on the back of one pillow.

I've even gotten excited about working with fabric and have collected several pieces of fabric to make into appliqued projects. I mentioned the OCD, didn't I? A habit I have to work harder on controlling is getting so involved in a new project or hobby that I feel a need to buy everything I can related to that craft. I do love making things and my obsessions are mostly related to tools and materials to create things. I have a room devoted entirely to all my art and craft stuff and it is overflowing. I'm glad that occasionally I can use my crafting skills to raise some money for my real obsession, Rat Terrier rescue.

November 05, 2009

Well, still sewing. This year Ratbone Rescues will have 2 quilts on it's fundraiser. The second one is really turning out to be very nice looking. All the blocks in this one were made by a Ratbone member named Kelly. She made quite a few blocks for the quilt and when everything was put together there were enough blocks for 2 quilts so we decided to hold all but one of Kelly's blocks back for the second quilt. Since she used only 2 fabrics for background and these had similar colors in them, this made for a well matched top. We chose a couple of rich colors to go with it and the mix looks excellent.

The edge was redesigned slightly for this quilt and of course will be in dark, rich colors. The last of the 3 appliqued sides is assembled and with the quilt maker who will stitch around all the pieces to hold them permanently in place.

The top of the Kelly quilt went together well and the sides will be on by next week when it is due to be handed over to our quilter. We will be picking up the Tiny Paws quilt at the same time so before long there will be pictures of the quilted project.

Personally, I love the Kelly quilt. It would look SO good in my room. Of course it would be too big for my bed so it is just as well that I'm not eligible to win it. Members of the Board of Directors are not eligible to receive the items awarded in our fundraisers. "sniff, sniff"

An aside to the quilt making saga is that I have kind of gotten into it and now I am planning to make a quilted wall hanging when both quilts are done. I have been designing an applique for the center and already have the fabric for it. If it goes well as a learning project, maybe next year I will make a Rat Terrier wall hanging on my own for the fundraiser.

October 17, 2009


Most outstanding!
This project is looking great. The quilt maker finished assembling everything and turned it over to me today. I will take it to the quilter tomorrow. She will put the batting and backing on and quilt the whole thing. Then it goes back to Anita, who will put a binding on the edge. I am very happy about how nice this quilt is coming out.

I don't know that I want to become a quilt maker. It could be like the afghan making spell I went through. Once you have made a half dozen or so, WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THEM? I have a box full of afghans that I don't have any place to display. Maybe rescue would want to have a monthly raffle for a quilt. LOL!
I was a little worried when I sort of stumbled into being in charge of the quilt this year. I knew I could find someone local to do the quilting as there are several very good quilters in this area. Putting the quilt top together was a bit concerning however. Piecing quilts is not one of the skills I learned growing up, even though I watched my grandmother sew together numerous beautiful fabric creations.

Fortunately, my friend, Anita offered to help put together the parts. Having made a number of quilts, she knew what it would take to go from the box of blocks I received to a finished quilt. She knows about the squaring up of the blocks, cutting them all to precisely the same size, matching corners of blocks so everything comes together perfectly. Being a long time artist, I thought I could probably manage this if I needed to but now that I have made a pillow to match the quilt, I am very thankful that Anita was willing to help Ratbone by donating her time to this project.

Not that my pillow turned out bad but it sure did take a lot more effort than I expected. Making all the corners match and all the border strips the same width was more stress producing than I expected. I cannot imagine having to do this 20 times over.

It's all good though. All the parts are assembled and quilting starts this week. Plus, work has begun on the second quilt. We will have two quilts this year. The second one will be VERY striking. I selected fabrics to go with the blocks and they are absolutely gorgeous. Updates to come.

October 07, 2009

Sewing was never one of my favorite things, although I did a lot of it in school, back in the day when all girls took sewing. This applique thing is really proving to be fun. Of course it is not so much sewing as it is art. I completed the first of the edges for the quilt and have now started the second one. Anita has finished setting the blocks together and is stitching around the applique. We hung this on the edge of the bed last weekend, with the top spread out on the bed and it was really quite striking in appearance.

I am really anxious to see it all set together and get some pictures of the whole thing laid out on a bed. This would look good in my guest room. Too bad I can't participate in the drawing. Being one of the board members of the rescue excludes me from the raffle but I will be watching to see if someone I know gets the quilt. There are a lot of hours in this quilt, between the many Ratbone members and supporters who made quilt squares for us and the time donated by my friend, Anita, who makes beautiful quilts AND who gave me my first Rat Terrier.

For more information about the quilt or to get your numbers for the drawing to win, go to the link.
Ratbone Rescues Quilt

September 29, 2009

Moving along! The quilt is beginning to come together. I am excited about how it is looking, I think the final project will really be amazing. The assembly is being done by the woman who gave me my first Rat Terrier, little Scooter. Scooter will appear on the quilt, looking down at a lizard in leaves. Anita has been making quilts for years and loves doing it. She makes some really nice wall hangings, she has them for each season so she can hang a different one on her wall, depending on the time of year. Her work is amazing to me, a person who struggles to sew a straight seam.

She has made quilts as well and the beds in her house, as well as those of her relatives, all sport stunning quilts. She is an expert at matching the colors and patterns to fit the setting and make a quilt that fits beautifully into the setting it is to be used in.

She has offered to teach me to piece quilts but I'm not sure about that, it is that straight seam thing, you know. On the other hand, my grandmother made quilts for years. I remember watching her cut tiny little squares and stack them by color then stitch them all back together by hand in a colorful pattern. These days it is doubtful you would find anyone doing the stitching by hand but many of the patterns are the same. Actually, I have found the applique part to be fun. I enjoyed making the squares and perhaps will try some wall hangings. Not sure where I will hang them but could be fun to make.

As the quilt has started being set together, it promises to look spectacular. The blocks made by the rescue members and supporters are being framed with black and at the corners, squares of cream color fabric with tiny paw prints are added.
This fabric will also be used on the borders of the quilt. The plan is for the black and the single, subtle print to add a degree of calm to the busy nature of the quilt which is inevitable with pictorial quilts.

Anita's one concession to my busy personality has been letting me design an applique for the quilt
edges. The plan is to apply this design to the cream colored border. The red will not be "red", it will be wine or very dark red, just enough for contrast from the black, to accentuate the twisting of the ribbon and the heart. I am really anxious to start working on this as I want to see how it will look on fabric. I think this will truly be a unique and beautiful quilt which someone will really enjoy owning.

September 25, 2009

Rescue quilt project

For the past ten years I have been a member of Ratbone Rescues, a group dedicated to rescue and adoption of Rat Terriers. Unfortunately, there is very little money in legitimate rescue, in fact more often than not our group is in the hole because normal vet expenses are high and about the time we catch up, a special case comes along. These are dogs needing rescue who have extra medical needs which far exceed the adoption fee we receive for them. Adoption fees, donations and fundraisers are the primary sources of income for most rescues, including Ratbone Rescues.

For several years, one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for Ratbone has been a quilt which was made up of blocks our members and supporters make. When all the blocks were received, a volunteer assembled the top and quilted it so it could be raffled. Prior to last year, I had no involvement in the quilt, in fact I had never even made a quilt square before that. I made two squares for that last quilt and that went well. They were put in a wall hanging that was added to the raffle.

Early this year, it was decided that Ratbone would have a 2009 quilt raffle, the only problem was our volunteer quilter was no longer going to help us so the Board of Directors had to figure out what to do about getting the project from a bunch of cloth squares to a complete quilt. Somewhere in that process, I vaguely recall volunteering to handle getting this done. My grandmother pieced quilts when I was a child and I watched her stitch some elaborate blocks together but my experience at actually working on quilts was almost zero. What HAD I done??

After volunteering is not the time to figure out whether one is up to the job. Fortunately, I have a friend who is quite an experienced quilt maker and she agreed to help with the assembly of the blocks into a proper quilt top. I found a quilter who will then add batting and backing and quilt it together. I then set to making my own quilt blocks for the project. I had great fun with it this year, ending up with 8 squares to contribute to the quilt. One was of my own little Scooter, the others were from pictures of foster dogs or dogs owned by members of web-groups like I even did a pair of squares with American Hairless Terriers (hairless Rat Terriers) on them. These are easily identifiable as they are wearing their "jammies".

All of the quilt squares arrived at my house about 2 weeks ago, then I really did wonder what I had gotten myself into. There were so many. There were different sizes and colors and I had no idea where to start. Lucky for me, I didn't do anything until I talked with Anita, who will assemble the top. She promptly told me "Touch NOTHING!" as she has special tools to cut squares perfectly square and all the same size. I am familiar with the term "special tool"! My mechanic always had one for some job on my car which made it impossible for me to do the job myself. I have a number of special tools myself, mostly related to woodcarving and sculpture, my first hobby love. Quilt making tools? No idea what they look like.

In the past 2 weeks, Anita and I have worked out the best layout for the squares, balancing colors and designs as much as possible. We figured out fabric colors that would go well, be pleasing and keep the overall appearance of the quilt unified and not too busy. This can be challenging when the different blocks contain so many colors, patterns and textures but we found some good option. The top is starting to come together already and my assignment is to design an edge pattern which will be appliqued on each side. I finished the design tonight and I believe I am happy with it. What Anita will think of it remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for updates as this project comes together. Be prepared for a special looking quilt and go to the Ratbone Rescues web site to get your raffle tickets.

August 20, 2009

HEY! This is important! Not only does this help Ratbone with it's rescue efforts by paying vet expenses, it is a really beautiful work of art that Susan is creating. Be sure to check this out:

Check out Ratbone Rescues' Stained Glass Lamp Fundraiser!

To see pictures and purchase tickets, please click on this link (at the top of the page, the word "website" is a link to buy tix):
Proceeds will help pay for Maya Piddlepot's $2,500 surgery bill, and any additional funds will be put in the general fund so that we can help save more Ratties!!
Due to a very ill mother and job responsibilities, the artist, Ratbone's very own Susan Cadell, has had limited time to complete the lamp project. In order to ensure that it will be sent out within 5 days of the drawing date, we find it necessary at this time to extend the raffle date until Sept. 1. The winning ticket will be drawn on September 2 at 730 PM. THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK!!

This one is just one of Susan's lamps that I REALLY LOVE!

July 06, 2009

Speaking of hoarding!

I brought home a new dog on Saturday. Her name is Zuni and she came from a hoarder in New Mexico. She was one of more than 80 dogs that were taken in by the shelter when the were discovered after their owner went into the hospital.

The first thing I noticed when we met was how many bite scars this little 14 pound dog had on her face. Apparently, when you put 80 some dogs, at least half of them terriers, together in a house, not only is it dirty but it is violent at times. With just my small pack, fights will break out every once in a while and even though injuries are rare, there have been some. Pack mentality being what it is, when a pair starts a fight, chances are good that several others will join in the fray. When 5-6 dogs fight, there is a reasonable chance of breaking it up without anyone being seriously injured. A churning mass of 20-25 battling dogs is something to run from.

Zuni is very shy and frightened, another consequence of living with a hoarder. She has not been well socialized with people and will not approach me at this point. I can only approach her if she is in a corner as she will move away when I move her direction.

Tonight, she discovered how to let herself in and out of the dog door. She may have had some access to a dog door where she lived as it is unusual for a new dog to figure it out that quickly if they have never used one. This of course creates a new problem, she is able to let herself out when she doesn't want to be caught. Once outside, catching her will not be likely so starting tomorrow this girl will probably be dragging a leash when she is loose. At least that way I will be able to bring her in at night.

She has unusual markings for a Rat Terrier, rather reminds me of a Foxhound. She has the build of an Italian Greyhound but the face of a Rat Terrier. She needs to fill out some but she is still going to be a leggy thing with a whip tail. She is a very quiet girl so far, of course she is still getting acquainted so this may change. In the two days since I started this blog, she has become quite proficient at using the dog door. She has trouble deciding if she wants to be in or out so she just goes back and forth. She did finally approach me tonight and sniffed my leg then she let me catch her without cornering her. Good signs! She is on the way to a better life.

July 03, 2009

Princess Amissa

Amissa (Hebrew for companion) Ratbone is sometimes a princess, sometimes an evil queen! First and foremost, she is the poster child for "CUTE" with her long legs and turned out ears.

She is not my dog, she came here to live until a permanent home can be found for her. She is part of the Ratbone Rescues pack, which is somewhere around 100 dogs presently. NO! All 100 of these do NOT live with me, although my co-workers sometimes suggest otherwise.

Several years ago when a hoarder bust in Oregon hit a tabloid, they cut the story out, pasted my face over the woman hoarder's picture and put it on the bulletin board. There were something like 260 dogs found in the residence! What a sad mental illness animal hoarding is. People who believe in their hearts they are helping animals but are compelled to continue bringing more and more animals into their home until there is no way they could care for them. Even when the filth in the house is ghastly and the animals are starving and dying, they still cannot see that they are helping neither the animals nor themselves.

Being only one of over 100 foster homes associated with Ratbone Rescues, my foster numbers have remained manageable although it would not be hard to lose control. All it would take was to accept every dog that I am asked to take. That is probably the hardest part about rescue, having to say no to an animal in need because there just isn't room for it. Knowing the chances are good that little dog will die because I said "No" is heartbreaking. Some of their images still haunt me, making me wonder if I could have fit just one more in. I know this is a common emotion among rescuers, who, despite their many difference, all share the wish that they could "save them all".

Amissa was a lucky one, she made it under the wire, filling that reserve spot that I try to keep empty because it is one over my limit but now and then it still ends up filled. Mimi, as I sometimes call her, was found wandering in Oklahoma. The person who found her could not find her owners and could not keep her as she already had all the dogs she could care for. She did not want to take the little girl to the local pound as this could easily be a death sentence so she contacted Ratbone. As it worked out, I had just agreed to take a little female that was in a shelter in Oklahoma. Transport was being set up and Mimi's rescuer was able to drive her up to join the transport.

So Amissa came to Kansas where she was number three in the trio of 11 pound girls fostering in my house. She proved to be more feisty than appearance would lead to believe. She and Abebe, who she came from Oklahoma with, seem to both believe they should be in charge. There are regular bouts of posturing between them and every so often they will break into a "girl fight" which produces a lot of noise but fortunately, few injuries.

Mimi is not adverse to putting one of the big boys back in line if she decides they are not showing proper doggy etiquette but she most enjoys just looking cute. She does seem to think that looking cute should garner plenty of adoration, petting and treats from me or any other human around. Unlike many of the dogs, she is not camera shy. She will hop up on a chair, look right at me with those big brown eyes and wait for the flash.

Cookie is gone now, she was the first of the three. She has a new home in Oregon, leaving Amissa and Abebe to jockey for the position of Queen of the foster dogs. I could easily keep Mimi, she is quite a charmer but I'm sure she is going to catch someones eye before she is eligible for foster adoption. Of course, after she leaves there will be another little dog who will come along and steal my heart for a while before going to it's forever home. It's all part of rescue work, loving them, then letting them go.

May 29, 2009


Now that nights are getting warmer, I am discovering the error in rescuing tadpoles. Last summer a large puddle developed behind my office, probably 4' across and 15' long, almost a pond. I went to look at it one day and discovered it contained hundreds of tiny little tadpoles. The problem for a tadpole living in a puddle is that it takes a specific amount of time to morph into a toad and unless the rains come regularly, the puddle could dry up before they get land legs.

Before long the puddle began to shrink and the tadpoles began crowding together. Soon the surface of the water was in constant motion because there were so many wigglers per square inch. This quickly became a birdy buffet as the starlings could stand on the muddy edge of the puddle and eat their fill without even getting wet. I could take no more, operation tadpole rescue began. With no thought to my interference with nature's balance, I began scooping tadpoles up and putting them in a bucket.

With a hundred or so, one inch long tadpoles in my bucket, I would journey off to some larger body of water and release the little guys. I took some to a run-off pond not far from work, another bunch traveled the 80 miles home with me and were dropped off at the lake outside of town. A few went into fish bowls in the office where a bunch of grown women, some of us grandmothers, rediscovered the fascination of watching tadpoles become something completely different. When they were ready to leave the water we released our little toads outside to repopulate the area around the office.

The error part came in when I decided to drop a dozen or so of them in my little front yard pond. This is just a little 35 gallon, free standing pond with a fall which normally shelters my 4 large Comet goldfish. My largest fish is close to 6 inches long and I suspect
that some of the tadpoles became fish food, unless they changed and hopped out quicker than I expected.
My little Rat Terrier, Scooter was nearly driven mad by the presence of quick, dark shapes at the bottom of the pond. She surely thought they were water mice and her very favorite thing to do it hunt for mice. She would perch on the edge of the pond, watching the swim team. Eventually, she would jump in but of course, since she had no intention of getting wet, she would jump right back out and go to perching again.

In good time the last of the tadpoles turning into a legged amphibian and jumped out of the pond. Scooter gave up looking in the pond and things returned to normal, 4 fish in the pond, no dogs. I thought little more of toads and tadpoles, thinking that was the end of the tadpole saga. Oh, how naive' I was!
A couple weeks ago, after dark, Sassy Sister, a Rat Terrier, of course, was out in the side yard before bedtime. She started barking but instead of stopping after a few barks she barked more and took on a note of hysteria. I went to see what had her so worked up and found her making faces, flapping her tongue and if she could have spit, she would have. All the while she kept running back at little 2 inch toad that had crawled out from under the sidewalk around the house, trying to grab him by a leg. Clearly, she had already tried the full body bite and toads apparently don't taste very good. The toad didn't look good, although there was no blood, he was limp so I tossed him over the fence. He was gone the next day so he must have just been stunned, unless toads play possum.
After the fourth time the dogs found a little toad in the yard, it finally occurred to me, these are probably the former tadpoles that I brought home last year. So far, only that first toad was mouthed, Sassy seemed to learn very quickly that toads are something you don't want to put in your mouth. She does however bark, jump around and paw at the BIG, SCARY things but in each case the toad was fine and I have taken each of them to the garden, outside the fence. I'm hoping they do not insist on returning to the area inside the fence, even though they have a pretty good defense system going.

May 23, 2009


I did not set out with the intention of being an animal rescuer, I just kind of stumbled into it. On April Fool’s day, 1998, a friend’s Rat Terrier had puppies and since I had been planning to get a dog to replace my Scottie, she offered one of the puppies to me. It wasn’t long after bringing this little whirlwind into my home that I realized what a wonderful breed the Rat Terrier is. By the time Scooter was a year old, I was looking to add a second Ratty to my family. My friend offered me a puppy from her upcoming litter, one that would be related to Scooter. I was excited about this pending addition to the family, dreaming of the puppy breath, tiny paws, little licks, big puddles, chewed shoes and wakeful nights. The ten weeks of waiting before my puppy would be available seemed like an eternity.

I’ve always been a dog lover and with my introduction to the Internet in the mid 90's, I found myself often cruising shelter and rescue web sites, looking at dogs that were rescued and dogs in need of rescue. As I wandered through these sites one night, I found the cutest pair of Rat Terriers in a shelter right in my own state. They had been in the shelter for several weeks, having come in together but remained unadopted due to the preference to place them together. Many people wanted one cute, active little dog but it seems no one was interested in taking on two at a time. For a week I returned to the site, looking at the two little Rat girls, hoping someone would have adopted them but they were always there, the smaller with her tongue lolled out, ears back, bouncing toward the photographer. They were in a low-kill shelter and not at immediate risk, but I began to worry about them and felt a need to help.

I searched for Rat Terrier rescue groups on the Internet and sent out pleas for one of them to help get the girls out of the shelter. I told them I would adopt one dog but since these were not being placed separately and I didn’t think I could handle two, they needed help. An answer came quickly from Caroline with Ratbone Rescues. Unfortunately, she said she was unable to assist with them because there were no foster homes available in Kansas and no one to pull them from the shelter. She suggested I try taking both and if I found it overwhelming, I could contact her again and she would work on arranging transportation for them to a foster home.

It had become obvious to me in this process that the adoption of a dog from a shelter was what I needed to do. My friend’s puppies were sure to be cute and lovable but she would not struggle to find them homes, on the other hand, a shelter dog could die without me. With that small bit of urging from Caroline, I decided to contact the shelter and tell them I would take both the Ratties. With the decision made I got so excited about taking the girls that I sent floor plans, property diagrams, showing all my fenced area and history on my other pets, fearing all the time they might decide not to let me have them. After submitting everything, it seemed an eternity with no word on my application.

Finally, when I could no longer stand the wait, I called to see if anyone could tell me where things stood. I reached Margaret, a very kind woman, who I had spoken with several times. She had planned to call me that very day and was happy to tell me I had been approved to adopt Jordy and Ivy. I was elated, anxious to bring the girls home. We agreed I would travel across the state on the upcoming weekend to pick them up. When work ended Friday, Scooter and I packed up and headed down I-70, on the way to collect our new family members. Scooter always loves a trip and after the initial excitement of being on the road, settled down to nap the miles away. I had planned to spend the weekend with a friend in eastern Kansas, during which time I would go to the shelter to meet the dogs then return the next day to pick them up. We arrived late, settled down after some social time and when I finally rose the next morning there was shopping time, to pick up new leashes and collars, before time for the shelter to open.

On that pleasant, bright day in late September, Scooter and I arrived at the shelter to get acquainted. There was a lot of activity at the shelter, many volunteers were in and out with dogs they had come to exercise and socialize. Two children and their father petted a tail-wagging shepherd mix while their mother signed the final adoption papers. When they finished and left with their new pet, it was my turn. Margaret was there to help me and the first thing she did was to tell me that after reassessing the two dogs this week, the shelter behaviorist had decided it might actually prove beneficial to separate them. They described both dogs as being quite submissive but despite this, Ivy was very domineering over Jordy. Although the two were clearly bonded they thought Jordy might come into her own is she was away from Ivy. Although they would still allow me to take both, Margaret assured me they would have no problem placing the remaining terrier as there had been several people interested in taking one.

When I made my choice to take only one, all that was left to decide was which one would go home with Scooter and I. The two little girls were brought out to an exercise pen, about 12 feet square, where they were let down to run. They both set off running the perimeter of the pen, barking furiously at the other dogs out in the play yard. When I knelt and chirped to them, the smaller of the two would come up to me but only for a minute then she would run off again. Occasionally Ivy, the larger of the two would display her alpha status, snarling at Jordy and standing very tall to show she was the boss. Jordy slowed only slightly under these attacks but had clearly learned not to resist. The moment the assault ended, Jordy would be off running again.

I decided to introduce Scooter to the pair to see how they hit it off. Poor Scooter considered this a very bad idea. As soon as she hit the ground in the exercise pen, she was mobbed by the two little Ratties. Although she equaled them in size, Scooter clearly felt over matched. She was frantic in her effort to climb up my leg so these "big, fearsome beasts" could not get her. I picked her up but this was not enough, she proceeded to work at climbing onto my shoulder to get further away from the pack. I concluded that Scooter was not going to be of any help with the decision so I returned her to the car.

I returned to the pen and again, Jordy was the one who would respond, albeit briefly, to my efforts to make a connection with them so I decided this was the one I would adopt. I completed the paperwork, paid the fee and deposit then left the shelter with my new Rat girl. She rode home in a crate so she and Scooter were able to sniff through the door without overwhelming each other. When we arrived at home, Jordy was too busy running from room to room, sniffing every nook and cranny, to pay attention to Scooter. This was Scootie’s opportunity to get close without being noticed so she followed as right behind this newcomer, room after room, sneaking close enough for a sniff whenever Jordy seemed preoccupied. When finally all the sniffing was done, the two little dogs, worn out from the day’s excitement, collapsed on opposite ends of the couch, eying each other before falling asleep.

In the following days and weeks, Jordy, who was renamed Trixie by my father, settled in, got acquainted with Scooter and the two of them became great play pals. This was no doubt a great relief to Oscar, the ten year old Doxie who had grown tired of Scooter’s attempts to coax him into romps. Trixie proved to be far from submissive. She quickly assumed the role of sassy, bossy alpha dog, sometimes just a plain bully. She didn’t take readily to crate training, obviously unhappy about containment. When locked in, she showed what remarkable lungs she had, bursting forth with prolonged shrieks which sounded much like air pushing through the stretched neck of a balloon but in time she gave up this howling, learned good doggy behavior and became a true part of the family.

She is now my little "foo foo princess" with the ballerina legs and the floozie sashay. As Trixie settled into the household, I kept thinking about the Rat Terriers out there with no home to call their own, no owner to appreciate their very special qualities. Shortly after bringing Trixie home, I contacted Caroline at Ratbone Rescues again and asked what was involved in being a rescue volunteer. She quickly sent me a response, explaining the process of applying to be a foster home for Ratbone and invited me to submit an application. I’m pleased to say that my application was approved and I was welcomed into the world of pet rescue, an outcome which has been very rewarding for me and has given a number of Rat Terriers another chance at life.

DOGGY DOOR BLUES or Life Among Terriers

Upon installing a doggy door in my house I quickly decided this invention ranked right up there among mankind’s greatest ideas. No longer was I slave to the whims of a pack of Rat Terriers who never wanted to go outside in a group but rather, would demand to be let out and let in one at a time. It also simplified housebreaking of new fosters who were much quicker at figuring out the dog door than learning how to signal to be let out. By the time I’d spent a year with the doggy door in place I could not imagine how we lived without one, that is until today.

A little over a week ago I began to notice the "dog room" had a more unpleasant odor than usual. The dog room is the large room at the back of my house which opens onto the deck and into the fenced yard. This is where my computer is located, next to a row of dog crates. Currently I am in the process of pulling up the carpet and putting down vinyl tiles to make a more dog friendly environment. This is where the dogs stay when I am working, so they have outside access but can be in the house if they want. Needless to say, with anywhere from six to twelve dogs at a time living with me over the past three years, not all with good house manners, the room is bound to have some odor, but this was worse than normal.

I checked around the room but found no offending deposits. I checked crates but no one had soiled their bed, I even got down and looked under the TV cart after noticing a couple dogs looking under there but I found nothing to explain the increased odor. Within a couple days I started taking the blankets out of all the crates to wash as the smell was getting worse. There seemed to be traces of the offensive scent on many items but none seemed to be strong enough to account for what was beginning to be just plain stinky. I searched the room again, several times, still thinking one of my little darlings had left me a nice deposit in some corner but I came up empty.

Yesterday, as I crawled around the floor laying tiles near the dog’s feeding station, I said to myself "It smells like something died in here". All the dogs had checked in for supper and the birds just moved outside earlier in the day so it wasn’t a family member. Once more I looked around the room, to no avail. Having worn myself out laying tiles I gave up for the day and went to bed. Waking up this morning, I realized the distinct stench had now found it’s way out of the dog room and into my adjoining bedroom. That was the last straw, the room was going to have to be cleared and the source of the smell dealt with. My greatest suspicion lay with the feeding station which is actually an old three drawer chest, just the right height to prepare dog meals and providing a storage place for supplies. I figured a mouse had made it’s way in, looking for something in the "treat" drawer and had died there. I would have to take out all the drawers, empty them and possibly turn over the chest.

Behind the chest were two crates, one empty, the other April’s. This pup sometimes has a problem with wetting in her crate and this morning the stink seemed more intense around her crate so I took it out first and, removed the blanket, which was dry and moved the crate to the bathtub to be scrubbed out. I then went back for the empty crate, prepared to work my way through the room. I didn’t have far to go. Picking up the empty crate which had been stored in a corner, my first thought was "how did the cat toy get back there?". Then I realized it was not the fuzzy ferret cat toy but a young opossum that had squeezed into the space between the crate and the wall to expire. The rodent like critter was only about six inches long with probably that much tail and if it weren’t for the smell I would have thought it was playing dead.

I doubt it crawled up onto the deck and in through the dog door itself so I have to suspect that one of the Rat "terrors" found it in the yard, inflicted a mortal wound and brought it into the house where it obviously lived just long enough to crawl off to hide from it’s tormentors. A cruel lesson was learned today. When you disturb a long dead possum that was squeezed down tight on the carpet when it died, what was a rather annoying, lingering bad smell immediately becomes a nose clogging, eye watering, stomach turning stench. It is now apparent that man’s greatest pet invention was the poop-scooper as this was the only feasible method of removing the remains from the room. Fortunately, it is nice weather now as the day was spent with the doors and windows open, many candles burning and fans running.

Even the dogs spent much of the day outside, lying in the sun and fresh air. Tonight everyone is sleeping with blankets over their crates as the door will be open all night. Simple Solution is good but it is no match for this situation. Fortunately, the carpet is coming out, sadly it will probably be several days before I can remove that portion as I have to finish tiling the center part of the room first so I can move all the crates off the carpeted part of the floor. I now fully understand the attitude of my country living, terrier owning friend, on the subject of dog doors.