Since this is my first post this year, and I am hopeful that I have a few new readers (maybe some of you from the contest stuck around?), I thought it might be a good use of my first Show Me Saturday post to introduce you to the players here in the What If No One's Watching saga.
First, there's me. I'm Grace, and I'll be your host. I'm a 29 year old Oregon native, transplanted in Austin, Texas by reason of education. My Austin-education is over (Masters in Public Affairs that I plan to never use), and my partner's is nearly completed, so we'll be moving on here within the year. I work as a University number cruncher, which is not my passion but does me just fine for now. My actual intellectual passion is U.S. history, and I'm still playing with the idea of getting a Ph.D. in that field some day. My non-work passions are dog rescue (more on that in a minute), reading, movies, crafting, thrifting, and, recently, the English Premiere League (football).
Next up is Mark, my partner. Mark and I have been together for seven years, and we were friends for four years before that, so we've known each other pretty much our entire adult lives. He's a fantastic human being, even if he doesn't think so. He's a Ph.D. student in neuroscience, and he's very, very smart. He's also truly good-hearted, which he sometimes tries to hide. He's into gourmet cooking and home repair, as well as sharing my passions for dogs and soccer.
The next eldest member of our family is Leo. Leo is a rescue dog. Mark and I adopted him in August of 2005 (read about it here). At that time, we thought he was between 6 and 8. Three plus years later, it's clear he was definitely closer to 6 than 8, because there is no way he's 11 now. 9, maybe. We don't know what Leo's mix is, though we're always game to hear a guess. The current best-guess is Pyr/Old English Sheepdog.
Leo is basically my soul mate in dog form. I loved our previous dog, Chance, whom we lost way way too soon, but Leo...Leo is something else. He truly makes me believe in miracles.
Our next addition was tabby cat Atticus, in September 2005. We adopted Atticus from a PetSmart, where they were housing cats that had been moved out of shelters to make room for animals orphaned by Hurricane Katrina. It took me a bit to sell Mark on the cat idea, but I really wanted one, and then I met Atticus. His name was Sam then, and he was about 4 months old. All of the the other cats were mellow and friendly. Sam jumped out of my lap and made a mad escape into the store. Yep, that's the one I want. He continues to be alternatively cranky and affectionate, and to love Mark and only barely tolerate me. (You can read Atticus' story here.)
In January of 2006, we added our second dog, Atakan (pronounced Ah-tah-kahn, called Ata). Ata is another rescue, this time from the next county over's county shelter (read his adoption story here). He was a pathetic case when we adopted him, but has grown into an absolutely beautiful Anatolian Shepherd. With a kind of strange personality. Honestly, if Leo is my dog soul mate, Ata is Mark's. He's socially phobic, yet sort of outgoing. He's a guardian breed with a fear of thunderstorms. He's weird, and atypical and totally awesome.
At this point, with our two dogs and our cat, we thought we were done. The perfect pack. But things happen...
We inherited our tortie cat, Esme, when our good friends moved to Europe. They wanted to take Esme, who they'd adopted not that long before they learned of their move, with them, but they were moving into a small apartment with their two big dogs, and poor Ez wouldn't have had a good place to escape the dogginess. So, in October 2006, she came to us (read that story here). And I will tell you absolutely unequivocably, Esme is my favorite cat. She's our most low-maintenance animal, spending most of her time chilling on or under our bed and in our bathroom, but she's extremely cuddly once she gets to know you (unlike Atticus, she doesn't make a game of showing you her claws). Give her something soft to stretch out in a sunbeam on and let her drink from the faucet when you brush your teeth and she's a happy, happy cat. I adore her.
After Esme, with two of each, we really were done. We were fostering dogs (all of whom have great stories, spread out over the last couple of years--click on the "Dogs" category on the sidebar if you want to read those), and we had a full house. But thing still happen...
The thing that happened next was Illy. In October 2007, this incredibly scrawny, sick-looking Siamese mix cat showed up in our neighbor's yard. Said neighbors have two great dogs who are not cat friendly, so they brought the scrawny cat over here to ask for our advice/help, since they knew we have cats and do animal rescue. And we said we'd take her (read about it here). We made a cursory effort at finding her people, but she had pretty clearly been stray quite a while, and nothing came of it.
Come to find out, a couple weeks later, that the cat, who we'd dubbed Illy after the espresso company, was pregnant. It was impossible to believe--she was SO little--but there you have it. So we took care of her, she thrived (all she really needed was to be fed, she was already pretty friendly), and in December, she had four healthy kittens (read about them here). She was a great mama, the kittens did wonderfully, and we adopted them all out by Valentine's Day. But kept Illy, who has since grown extremely fat and rules the roost here at our house with an iron paw.
That wraps up our permanent crew. But we do have two long-term temps right now, so I should probably introduce you to them as well. We have been fostering with a local organization called Hound Rescue (see that button on the side bar? Click it to give HR a chance to win some cash!) for a couple of years now. We typically only have one dog at a time, and we often have larger dogs, rather than beagles, but this time we have two beagles.
Belle came to us in June, from the city pound, where she had been owner surrender (read about that here). She's one of the nicest and most well-mannered dogs I've ever met. She won't get on furniture, even with an invitation, even though the rest of our crew goes where they want when they want. She's not loud. She's gentle and calm and just fantastic. Plus she's Leo's BFF--they play non-stop, which is wonderful to see in a dog Leo's age. Belle has clearly had a hard road, and she has some scars to prove it (most significantly some pretty advanced cherry eye, which isn't bothering her, but doesn't look so great), but she's come out an incredible dog. She's one of those foster dogs I'd be happy to keep.
Our more recent addition is Huey P. Long, who came our way in September. Initially we were only supposed to have Huey for a few days before another foster would take him, but the rescue is overrun right now (hard economic times will do that), so we've needed to hang on to him. Huey is very, very fat (he weighted 62.5 lbs on the day we picked him up, hence the name I bestowed him with the minute I saw him). He's also old (9 or 10 is the best guess) and has a host of medical problems (a horrible ear infection when we got him, bad teeth, various lumps and bumps, some skin conditions, arthritis, and most recently a torn ACL which will have to be repaired surgically). Despite all of that, he's a joy. He's active, friendly, and seems to have no idea he's old or sick. He's probably a long-term boarder, given his host of issues, and honestly, that's fine. He can be a bit of pain (likes to bark at the cats), but he's a super sweet dog, and we're enjoying having him.
Whew. How's that for a first post of the month novel? Hope you got through it OK, and now that you've been introduced to the players, you will know who I am talking about when I write my posts for the rest of the month. Welcome to NaBloPoMo at What If No One's Watching. Happy to have you!