The House, the Dogs, and the Cars

November 2, 2018

If you don’t know what Petfinder is, it is someones brilliant creation of an app that allows dog shelters to put up their adoptable dogs with a bio, their picture, and a bit of info about them. Think of it like an online dating site that you scroll through from your bed on a Saturday morning and totally fall in love with the idea of someone.
 

I discovered Petfinder in Maine and began looking at dogs in Oregon months before we were going to move here. (I see the realization dawning in your eyes) Tony and I would sit in bed on the weekends, with our coffee, and look at dogs and imagine our beautiful and perfect life with a new fur-baby.

Let me just unpack this for you in a neat paragraph – I fell totally in love with this giant, 140lb, slobbery, Neapolitan Mastiff that was rescued from abuse. He lived four hours away from us in Washington and we (I) decided we had to go see him the first week we were in Portland to be sure no one else adopted him.

The House:

Allow me to relay to you what that first week looked like for us. I was still coming off whatever illness I’d contracted on the road, we had an air mattress for a bed, a couch we’d found the first day and absolutely no other furniture. The internet needed to be set up by the end of the week so Tony could begin work again, a desk needed to be bought for him to work on, the rest of the house needed to be furnished, unpacked, and ready to accept a large dog in case he came home with us. Amidst all this, I had two working job interviews set up that week. Why wouldn’t we adopt the worlds largest dog in the middle of all this?

As I write this, I’m internally laughing at myself in a “What WERE you thinking?” sort of way. But my oblivious and determined self-continued to blow her nose every two minutes while unpacking boxes, getting lost on the way to thrift stores, dragging home heavy furniture and scrubbing it down, and then heading off to her working interview at a busy cafe on Labor Day. The cortisol levels were off the charts, my friends.

The Dog:

Saturday, September 8th rolled around and after a four-hour drive, we arrived in Washington at 11:00 am and Fausto was brought out to meet us. A lumbering, slobbery, giant of a dog. He was an extremely intelligent, playful fellow and spent a good part of the meeting chewing a tennis ball until it gave up with a squeak and a bang and deflated. We had to pry it out of his mouth and hide it to keep him from ingesting it. We decided to give it a go and we signed the papers and loaded him into the big Suburban for the long drive back to Portland, leaving the deflated tennis ball behind.

To sum up, the very long week that followed: I loved Fausto, he was a big sweetheart. But his past of former abuse and his size made controlling him difficult and he began to get extremely territorial when people/kids/dogs would walk past our yard. He did well with me, but we think he was abused by a man and he would act out towards Tony. At the end of a week, neither of us felt confident controlling him and while I think with training he will be a great dog he needs a different’ environment than our high-traffic home to learn in and perhaps a female only owner. I loaded up the big goof and drove him back where he’s being loved and cared for until they can find the right fit for him.

The Second Dog:

We both decided we should wait awhile and get settled in before we tried to find another dog. A week rolled by and guess who I found in bed on a Saturday morning looking at dogs in the local shelters? Yes, I would have guessed myself too but actually, it was Tony.

We visited several shelters that day and ended up going to another on Sunday. We went specifically to visit a dog named Atlas we’d seen on their website, but after talking with the staff about what we were looking for they recommended we meet Thor and Ellen instead. Thor was about 50lb’s and went freakishly running after bicycles on our walk and overall was a very energetic, sweet boy that I just didn’t feel a connection with.Then they brought out Ellen, a one-year-old, 40lb, white pit bull mix with only one eye. They brought her into the room to meet us and she went straight to Tony, tail wagging, hopped into his lap and began giving him kisses. Right that second I knew that puppy was coming home with us. She was a timid little thing and had her eye surgically removed recently due to it’s bulging.

We signed the papers, had the landlords called to OK a pitbull on the property, and then she rode on my lap all the way home. We named her Muggsy and she has been an absolute delight. She’s really come out of her shell, and thanks to Tony working with her daily, she will now sit, lay down, high-five, and has responded to Tony’s leash training so well that she’ll follow him around the yard, with no leash, on his left side, turning, stopping and walking with him on command.

The Car:

Backing up a bit to the first few weeks we had Muggsy and my first few weeks of work. I’d taken a job as the kitchen manager of a cafe near downtown. It’s a lovely part of the city, a mix of residential, restaurants, bars, and food carts, and it’s typically buzzing with people, dogs, and bicycles. I was driving the Suburban to work every day while Tony worked from home as has been our custom since a year ago when we sold Wanda the Honda in New Orleans.

After a few weeks of this Tony mentioned that he wanted to get a second car again that would be more fuel efficient for my commute and be a car for him to use while I was gone. I couldn’t possibly fathom doing anything outside the basic necessities right at that point in time but getting more than 12 miles to the gallon sounded great so I said: “Yes, great, let me know what you find.”

I really got on board with getting a smaller car when, one early morning, I fudged a parallel parking job on a tiny street near work, and cracked the taillight and bumper of a parked Jeep. I left a note and fortunately the matter was easily resolved with my insurance covering the mishap. I’ll just be over here waiting for my rates to go up in the meantime.Less than a week later, Tony found a 1987 Honda CRX for $500 in Bend, Oregon which is about 3 ½ hours drive from us. The car ran but the interior was trashed, it was a manual, and needed some serious TLC. I was skeptical of a $500 car running at all, but Tony has worked some magic on cars before. So come Saturday morning we loaded Muggsy into the Suburban and drove three hours to go look at the Honda. Bend had been on our list of places to visit anyways, although we were envisioning the trip to be more of a “Hike a cool trail and then get a beer somewhere” type of day.

We got to Bend around 1:00 pm and the guy selling the car wanted to meet in the Costco parking lot, on a Saturday, at 1:00 pm. That should have been our first clue that this was a bad idea. Cars and people everywhere, the sun beating down, both of us hungry and trying to find a parking spot. John Doe, as we shall call him, had texted Tony the day before asking the likelihood of his buying the car as it was his commuter, and he would need to buy another when this one sold. Tony replied as long as there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with it he was likely going to take it.

I let Muggsy out and took her to find a patch of grass somewhere while Tony took the car for a test drive. It had a really great engine, and with a little, more work could be resold for a lot more at a later time if need be so he decided to buy it, while I corraled a stressed-out Muggsy away from everyone and eyed the carts full of groceries to see if anyone was sporting a signature Costco chocolate cake I could take off their hands.

Now, The craigslist ad for the car had said “Clean title” so when John Doe brought out the title to sign it over, it was quite surprising when he also brought out two pieces of scratch paper and mumblingly explained how his name wasn’t on the title, but he had a paper trail to show the bill of sale.

We should have turned and walked away right then. When we arrived, John Doe informed us he had used his rent money to buy another car. This should have been of no concern to us but this on top of our tired mental states and having driven three hours to get this car caused Tony to sign another piece of scrap paper, and take the keys to the car.We then went and got a pizza and spent a not very relaxing hour in a nearby park eating it while poor, stressed Muggsy barked and ran at every dog that went by. Post-pizza I took Muggsy in the Suburban and Tony took our fine specimen of a new car and we started the long drive back home. The muffler that had been purchased for the Honda was purposefully loud and Tony was about crazed by the sound by the time we pulled into a rest stop an hour outside of Portland.

We got home feeling a bit surly, grabbed a beer, and then re-examined the title. It was a mess. The last person to own it had sold it to someone in California and there were two different names of the person it was sold to. The car had then been sold twice after that with no change of title, and only scraps of paper with “I _______ sell this car to ________ on the date ____” to stand in its place. You get the idea.

So at this point, we’re just hoping this car isn’t stolen. We ran it’s VIN and nothing came up. After some additional research, we discovered for this situation you need a bonded title which you cannot obtain in Oregon. So back on craigslist this car goes where Tony explains the full situation and someone in Washington, where you can obtain a bonded title, came down to buy it a week later.

We said goodbye happily and both swore that we will never drive four hours to buy anything again, be it cars, dogs, or god knows what else.

The Second Car:

The car hunt continued the following week and we ended up slightly North of Portland looking at a Toyota Corolla on a rainy day. The Toyota wouldn’t start and had been sitting in this gals driveway for six months. So we backed the Suburban onto their muddy lawn and jumped it. The car ran for a few minutes and then died when they turned the lights on. Tony liked the sound of the engine though so we drove to O’Rielly’s and bought a new battery for it, came back and found they had given us the wrong battery.Back to O’Rielly’s we went, procured the right battery, installed it, and the car came to life. It needed a new wheel bearing and hub, the whole car, inside and out, needed a desperate cleaning, the drivers door wouldn’t open from the inside so you had to roll down the window and open it to let yourself out, and the piece where the window buttons are had cracked and fallen into the door cavity and the passengers side window button would roll the window down but not back up.

Well, we bought the car (Shocking, I know), drove it home, and spent twelve hours the next day cleaning it and fighting with the wheel bearing which took another three trips to auto parts stores and ended at 11:00 pm with me holding a flashlight while Tony manually put the hub and bearing in, a procedure which is normally done with a hydraulic press. The car is now fixed

In Conclusion…

I’ve learned a lot these past few months. If I had a chance to do things differently, sure there’s plenty of opportunity for making smarter choices. But I will never be sorry that I took a chance on a 140lb dog, moved across the country, drove three hours to look at a crappy car (Take one from me and check that title before you buy), furnished a house solely with thrift store acquisitions. I will always be an advocate for trading comfort for experiences. I’d rather say “Oh well” than “What if?” 

To Be Continued…

November 2, 2018

If you don’t know what Petfinder is, it is someones brilliant creation of an app that allows dog shelters to put up their adoptable dogs with a bio, their picture, and a bit of info about them. Think of it like an online dating site that you scroll through from your bed on a Saturday morning and totally fall in love with the idea of someone.

I discovered Petfinder in Maine and began looking at dogs in Oregon months before we were going to move here. (I see the realization dawning in your eyes) Tony and I would sit in bed on the weekends, with our coffee, and look at dogs and imagine our beautiful and perfect life with a new fur-baby.

Let me just unpack this for you in a neat paragraph – I fell totally in love with this giant, 140lb, slobbery, Neapolitan Mastiff that was rescued from abuse. He lived four hours away from us in Washington and we (I) decided we had to go see him the first week we were in Portland to be sure no one else adopted him.

The House:

Allow me to relay to you what that first week looked like for us. I was still coming off whatever illness I’d contracted on the road, we had an air mattress for a bed, a couch we’d found the first day and absolutely no other furniture. The internet needed to be set up by the end of the week so Tony could begin work again, a desk needed to be bought for him to work on, the rest of the house needed to be furnished, unpacked, and ready to accept a large dog in case he came home with us. Amidst all this, I had two working job interviews set up that week. Why wouldn’t we adopt the worlds largest dog in the middle of all this?

As I write this, I’m internally laughing at myself in a “What WERE you thinking?” sort of way. But my oblivious and determined self-continued to blow her nose every two minutes while unpacking boxes, getting lost on the way to thrift stores, dragging home heavy furniture and scrubbing it down, and then heading off to her working interview at a busy cafe on Labor Day. The cortisol levels were off the charts, my friends.

The Dog:

Saturday, September 8th rolled around and after a four-hour drive, we arrived in Washington at 11:00 am and Fausto was brought out to meet us. A lumbering, slobbery, giant of a dog. He was an extremely intelligent, playful fellow and spent a good part of the meeting chewing a tennis ball until it gave up with a squeak and a bang and deflated. We had to pry it out of his mouth and hide it to keep him from ingesting it. We decided to give it a go and we signed the papers and loaded him into the big Suburban for the long drive back to Portland, leaving the deflated tennis ball behind.

To sum up, the very long week that followed: I loved Fausto, he was a big sweetheart. But his past of former abuse and his size made controlling him difficult and he began to get extremely territorial when people/kids/dogs would walk past our yard. He did well with me, but we think he was abused by a man and he would act out towards Tony. At the end of a week, neither of us felt confident controlling him and while I think with training he will be a great dog he needs a different’ environment than our high-traffic home to learn in and perhaps a female only owner. I loaded up the big goof and drove him back where he’s being loved and cared for until they can find the right fit for him.

The Second Dog:

We both decided we should wait awhile and get settled in before we tried to find another dog. A week rolled by and guess who I found in bed on a Saturday morning looking at dogs in the local shelters? Yes, I would have guessed myself too but actually, it was Tony.

We visited several shelters that day and ended up going to another on Sunday. We went specifically to visit a dog named Atlas we’d seen on their website, but after talking with the staff about what we were looking for they recommended we meet Thor and Ellen instead. Thor was about 50lb’s and went freakishly running after bicycles on our walk and overall was a very energetic, sweet boy that I just didn’t feel a connection with.

Then they brought out Ellen, a one-year-old, 40lb, white pit bull mix with only one eye. They brought her into the room to meet us and she went straight to Tony, tail wagging, hopped into his lap and began giving him kisses. Right that second I knew that puppy was coming home with us. She was a timid little thing and had her eye surgically removed recently due to it’s bulging.

We signed the papers, had the landlords called to OK a pitbull on the property, and then she rode on my lap all the way home. We named her Muggsy and she has been an absolute delight. She’s really come out of her shell, and thanks to Tony working with her daily, she will now sit, lay down, high-five, and has responded to Tony’s leash training so well that she’ll follow him around the yard, with no leash, on his left side, turning, stopping and walking with him on command.

The Car:

Backing up a bit to the first few weeks we had Muggsy and my first few weeks of work. I’d taken a job as the kitchen manager of a cafe near downtown. It’s a lovely part of the city, a mix of residential, restaurants, bars, and food carts, and it’s typically buzzing with people, dogs, and bicycles. I was driving the Suburban to work every day while Tony worked from home as has been our custom since a year ago when we sold Wanda the Honda in New Orleans.

After a few weeks of this Tony mentioned that he wanted to get a second car again that would be more fuel efficient for my commute and be a car for him to use while I was gone. I couldn’t possibly fathom doing anything outside the basic necessities right at that point in time but getting more than 12 miles to the gallon sounded great so I said: “Yes, great, let me know what you find.”

I really got on board with getting a smaller car when, one early morning, I fudged a parallel parking job on a tiny street near work, and cracked the taillight and bumper of a parked Jeep. I left a note and fortunately the matter was easily resolved with my insurance covering the mishap. I’ll just be over here waiting for my rates to go up in the meantime.

Less than a week later, Tony found a 1987 Honda CRX for $500 in Bend, Oregon which is about 3 ½ hours drive from us. The car ran but the interior was trashed, it was a manual, and needed some serious TLC. I was skeptical of a $500 car running at all, but Tony has worked some magic on cars before. So come Saturday morning we loaded Muggsy into the Suburban and drove three hours to go look at the Honda. Bend had been on our list of places to visit anyways, although we were envisioning the trip to be more of a “Hike a cool trail and then get a beer somewhere” type of day.

We got to Bend around 1:00 pm and the guy selling the car wanted to meet in the Costco parking lot, on a Saturday, at 1:00 pm. That should have been our first clue that this was a bad idea. Cars and people everywhere, the sun beating down, both of us hungry and trying to find a parking spot. John Doe, as we shall call him, had texted Tony the day before asking the likelihood of his buying the car as it was his commuter, and he would need to buy another when this one sold. Tony replied as long as there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with it he was likely going to take it.

I let Muggsy out and took her to find a patch of grass somewhere while Tony took the car for a test drive. It had a really great engine, and with a little, more work could be resold for a lot more at a later time if need be so he decided to buy it, while I corraled a stressed-out Muggsy away from everyone and eyed the carts full of groceries to see if anyone was sporting a signature Costco chocolate cake I could take off their hands.

Now, The craigslist ad for the car had said “Clean title” so when John Doe brought out the title to sign it over, it was quite surprising when he also brought out two pieces of scratch paper and mumblingly explained how his name wasn’t on the title, but he had a paper trail to show the bill of sale.

We should have turned and walked away right then. When we arrived, John Doe informed us he had used his rent money to buy another car. This should have been of no concern to us but this on top of our tired mental states and having driven three hours to get this car caused Tony to sign another piece of scrap paper, and take the keys to the car.

We then went and got a pizza and spent a not very relaxing hour in a nearby park eating it while poor, stressed Muggsy barked and ran at every dog that went by. Post-pizza I took Muggsy in the Suburban and Tony took our fine specimen of a new car and we started the long drive back home. The muffler that had been purchased for the Honda was purposefully loud and Tony was about crazed by the sound by the time we pulled into a rest stop an hour outside of Portland.

We got home feeling a bit surly, grabbed a beer, and then re-examined the title. It was a mess. The last person to own it had sold it to someone in California and there were two different names of the person it was sold to. The car had then been sold twice after that with no change of title, and only scraps of paper with “I _______ sell this car to ________ on the date ____” to stand in its place. You get the idea.

So at this point, we’re just hoping this car isn’t stolen. We ran it’s VIN and nothing came up. After some additional research, we discovered for this situation you need a bonded title which you cannot obtain in Oregon. So back on craigslist this car goes where Tony explains the full situation and someone in Washington, where you can obtain a bonded title, came down to buy it a week later.

We said goodbye happily and both swore that we will never drive four hours to buy anything again, be it cars, dogs, or god knows what else.

The Second Car:

The car hunt continued the following week and we ended up slightly North of Portland looking at a Toyota Corolla on a rainy day. The Toyota wouldn’t start and had been sitting in this gals driveway for six months. So we backed the Suburban onto their muddy lawn and jumped it. The car ran for a few minutes and then died when they turned the lights on. Tony liked the sound of the engine though so we drove to O’Rielly’s and bought a new battery for it, came back and found they had given us the wrong battery.

Back to O’Rielly’s we went, procured the right battery, installed it, and the car came to life. It needed a new wheel bearing and hub, the whole car, inside and out, needed a desperate cleaning, the drivers door wouldn’t open from the inside so you had to roll down the window and open it to let yourself out, and the piece where the window buttons are had cracked and fallen into the door cavity and the passengers side window button would roll the window down but not back up.

Well, we bought the car (Shocking, I know), drove it home, and spent twelve hours the next day cleaning it and fighting with the wheel bearing which took another three trips to auto parts stores and ended at 11:00 pm with me holding a flashlight while Tony manually put the hub and bearing in, a procedure which is normally done with a hydraulic press. The car is now fixed

In Conclusion…

I’ve learned a lot these past few months. If I had a chance to do things differently, sure there’s plenty of opportunity for making smarter choices. But I will never be sorry that I took a chance on a 140lb dog, moved across the country, drove three hours to look at a crappy car (Take one from me and check that title before you buy), furnished a house solely with thrift store acquisitions. I will always be an advocate for trading comfort for experiences. I’d rather say “Oh well” than “What if?”

To Be Continued…

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