My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



The Story of Shadowfax

We were a happy two-dog household for a few years.  We'd moved from Southern California to North Dakota and settled into our content routine.  All was well.  But there was this creeping feeling in the back of my mind, the gnawing sensation that our daily lives were a bit dull, a tad monotonous and that we could liven things up a bit.  Along with these feelings, I kept feeling slightly bad for Shaak Ti.  She loved playing with Tito, but in his advancing age and increasing curmudgeonliness, he wanted to play with her less and less.

Even though Alycia and I played with Shaak Ti regularly, there was just no substitute for doggy on doggy play time.  "Wouldn't it be great" I asked Alycia rhetorically, "if we got another dog, a puppy, that Shaak Ti could play with?" That sentiment was all well and good as long as it was a theoretical discussion, but around October, 2010 I made the mistake of reading an e-mail through a Yahoo group (for people with deaf dogs) about a deaf pit bull puppy that was found wandering along a road near Waco, Texas and had been taken to a shelter. 
Between 2 million and 3 million dogs are euthanized every year in shelters in the United States.  Yes you read that correctly, about 10,000 dogs are put down every single day because there is no one to adopt them.  Please, please consider adopting your next pet.  Shelter dogs aren't used, or broken, or somehow sub-standard and shelters have purebred dogs as well. Sorry for the soapbox tangent. 

Knowing that pit bulls have a much more difficult time getting adopted due to incorrect media and society stereotypes, and knowing that deaf dogs have a much harder time getting adopted due to other misconceptions and stereotypes, I had to act.  The fact that this puppy was cute and young gave her a slight chance of being adopted, but the reality was that being a deaf pit bull in a shelter was tantamount to a death sentence.  The thought of this little pup being put down made me sick to my stomach.
I sent the rescue coordinator (a fantastic lady named Fallon) at the shelter an e-mail saying I would adopt the puppy and then sat down and figured out a way to tell Alycia.

Since we had experience with deaf dogs (there are many ways they're better than hearing dogs), we were quickly approved to adopt this puppy sight unseen. In a couple of days the rescue coordinator let me know that they had secured a foster home for the puppy (named Whisper) with an awesome lady named Michelle who would foster Whisper for the two weeks necessary to get a health transport certificate.  She not only also arranged for Whisper to have her free spay surgery at a local animal clinic but started training her with hand signals!  This was awesome news, now all I had to do was tell Alycia.
Alycia was hesitant, skeptical.  She was actually OK with the idea of a third dog, but didn't know how she would handle three dogs during the frequent two week stretches when I was out of town for work.  She was also hesitant to get a puppy knowing how much work they are.  But in the end Alycia was easily coaxed.  I showed her pictures of this cute puppy and made some vague promises (that I don't even remember) and she was on board.  Doubtful, but on board.

Michelle and Fallon set about recruiting drivers to help transport Whisper to our home and a few weeks later I was recipient of one of the greatest acts of random kindness I've ever experienced firsthand.  More than a dozen people drove for two or more hours for a person they'd never met (me) and a dog they would never see again.  The kind act of these strangers to help participate in a marathon relay to drive Whisper from Waco, Texas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a distance of almost 1,000 miles, was unfathomable to me.  I'm still humbled and grateful when I think about their act of charity, and Alycia and I have tried repay the karma by volunteering to transport dogs ourselves.
We quickly gave Whisper the more regal name of Shadowfax and since she was deaf, it didn't matter what her name was.  She was 110% puppy, alternating between spazzy bursts of energy, destroying toys, playing with Shaak Ti, and napping for hours at a stretch.  We announced her to the world on the blog, posted pictures, more pictures, then more pictures, and even more pictures.  Our post titled New Puppy Pics still remains one the most viewed postings of all time here on the blog.  We're pretty proud puppy parents.

Even though there were some growing pains, and a couple of minor scuffles with Shaak Ti, the transition to the household went pretty well.  Shadowfax is much bigger than the 30 to 35 pounds that Michelle predicted and we expected, but we love her all the same.  And she responds in kind by loving us (and anyone else within range) with all her might. 

And yes, you can tell we're Lord of the Rings nerds.  Shadowfax was the name of Gandalf the Wizards' horse in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books and movies.  You should be Gandalf for Halloween this year, he's always cool. 

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