Posts Tagged With: Jordanian Refugee

The Jordanian Comes of Age

11218233_10206445599236191_6241923071895765755_oAs you may recall….

A year ago, the awesome Captain Cassie Wyllie rescued two pups from a military base in Jordan. With the help of the equally awesome folks at Puppy Rescue Mission, the two made it to the United States. One, Gwenie, reached Independence, Oregon where she has spent the last year eating furniture, getting us both covered in skunk stench, digging massive holes in the backyard, destroying the back fence and otherwise committing dog-atrocities while simultaneously fearing random things like naked cherub statues and most people. She goes absolutely berzerk when two high school lovers stop every day after school to canoodle on the sidewalk beside the house, so apparently she is not a Must Love Dogs fan.

When Gwen first came to Oregon, I could not get her to walk on a leash more than twenty or thirty feet from the house. Everything terrified her. She would venture a little ways out then freeze up. Looking sad and pathetic, she’d try to return to the front yard, growing increasingly frantic if I held firm on the leash.12027538_10206663754649940_7146249913541483235_n

Thanks to Ryder, Renee’s happy-go-lucky Aussie Shepherd, Gwenie gradually emerged from her shell. Her first Christmas was spent at the Oregon coast, where she explored on the beach with Ryder and the rest of the family. Since then, she has become a little more daring every day.

What we didn’t see was any happiness in her. She would explore and run around. She would come home to eat another section of the couch. She’d sleep beside me at night, but she always had such a lost and sad expression on the face that I wondered if she would ever know anything but degrees of less anxiety.


First beach trip about 5 weeks after Gwen arrived.

Today all that changed. I’ve been up in the woods working on the edits for Indestructible and I woke up this morning to snow. Snow is a big deal for me. Being from the Silicon Valley, I only experienced it a few times as a kid on ski trips. Renee and Ed have inherited the same exuberance for snow that I’ve got, so I gave the family a call and asked them to come up. Jenn stuffed two kids, one adult and three dogs into my Pontiac GTO and drove up here. Seriously, when they arrived, it looked like a Bruning clown car exploded. Dogs and kids running about joyfully, parents looking happily chagrined.


Today at Detroit Lake.

We walked around Detroit Lake and over to Piety Island (currently a peninsula) and I noticed that Gwen obeyed everything we told her. When she got too close to a cliff and we called out to her, she came back over to us. When she was hassling our little dog Mizette and we told her to stop, she did. Far from the unruly hurricane of chaos and mayhem we’ve come to know and love, she was playing within the rules today.

I started taking pictures, and right away I saw something different through the view finder. Gwen raced around us, letting Ryder chase her. She is fast and graceful and lithe, a beautiful sight to behold when she is in full stride.


Today, I swear she was smiling. Lit up, happiness radiating from her, she played and capered with all of us. She chased snowballs and jumped into a pond to wade around in search of driftwood to carry back ashore. This was a totally unexpected development, as she has always feared water. Today, she had no fear.G86A9675

As I took photos of her and the family, it dawned on me that she’s settled down. Whatever horrible things happened to her before she reached our loving arms no longer plague her. This is her home now; she has started to love it, and find comfort and tons of fun within the circle of her adopted family.G86A9655

Tonight she is with me at the cabin. The family went home at dusk. She’s exhausted and filled with warm chicken soup, which she convinced me to share with her by putting her chin on my lap as I ate. As I write, she’s curled up in front of the wood stove, eyes closed in peaceful repose.

My wild little pup has come of age.G86A9638

Now, if we can just get her to stop murdering innocent rolls of scotch tape and eating the kids’ home made Christmas ornaments…. baby steps. Baby steps.



Categories: Gwenie's Story | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments


Skunk-smell-DTAs you may recall…


A year ago, Gwenie arrived from Amman, Jordan, saved from certain death by my dear friend Captain Cassie Wyllie, whom I’d met in Afghanistan during an air-ground engagement in the Hindu Kush. Gwenie’s arrival in our little Oregon town turned the household into utter chaos, and it has yet to settle down as Gwen blazes a trail through life that is one part raging curiosity, one part stark terror at everything, and three parts hurricane-force destruction.

I love this dog.11218233_10206445599236191_6241923071895765755_o

So, there we were, out in the ‘hood for a midnight walk not too long ago. I had just purchased a new leash for Gwenie which is a little longer and more robust than the ones we’d been using. As we stopped for a restroom break on my lawn, a dark shadow flitted across my neighbor’s driveway. Gwenie saw it first and bolted straight for it without any warning. Seriously, she went from full squat to Carl Lewis on fire in an eyeblink. She moved so fast and with such surprising power that she tore the leash right off my wrist before I could even react.


Last photo from that fateful walk….

I charged after her, but had only take  two steps when she collided with the dark shape and seized it in her mouth. Appalled, I shouted at her, thinking she’d attacked one of the local cats. I reached her as she was about to shake the poor creature back and forth. Before she could, I grabbed her collar and pulled her upward. She dropped the critter right on my foot.

I looked down. NOT a cat.  No not a cat indeed.skunk

For a fleeting instant, I thought she’d caught our black-and-white Gaulic stink badger (Mizette the papillon, which is a breed of dog I adore but am not convinced it is truly canine. More like the missing link between cats and dogs, with a strange stray gene set from Mephitis mephitis). That fear lasted only a second, though, as my eyes registered what was sitting atop my favorite pair of topsiders. Yep. A severely annoyed skunk.


North American Gaulic Stink Badger (easily misidentified with skunk).

Now, some may argue that Gwenie’s nibbling on the skunk made the poor creature feel unsafe. It was perhaps a microaggression; I will concede the point. However, I would also like to point out that this particular skunk has been a carpet bagger for months now, living under my house and nocturnally raiding the cat’s food for goodies. A few months back, I was out late and coming home when I encountered this little Oreo devil standing on my porch. It saw me, puffed up its tail and hissed. Yes, the thing actually hissed at me. Ingrate.


In the days before the Skunkpocaylpse, Gwen met her first goat. Here I am trying to keep her from freaking out when the goat walked up to her.

So there this skunk was, sitting atop my boat shoe looking terrified, annoyed and indignant.  I never saw it raise its tail. I never saw a stream of skunkstench. There was just a moment when I swear I was engulfed by greenish-yellow mist and the most repellent, noxious and nauseating smell ever to reach my nose assailed me. That’s saying something too, dear readers. I’ve been to New Orleans.

What followed seems to have happened in slow motion. The skunk waddled off to go hide under the house. Gwenie chased after it, but lost interest as I screamed at her while trailing in her wake. When I finally regained positive control over my Jordanian refugee, the skunk had disappeared under the house, leaving the entire neighborhood smelling like a cross between a sewage lagoon and a tire fire.

Gwenie looked pretty shell-shocked. I was trying not to barf. Together, we trudged to the front porch and I knocked on the door, not wanting to go inside in our current state.


In the pre-skunkpocalypse days, we were free to roam among our fellow humans, unfettered by stink badger stench. Here my daughter Renee and Gwenie pick out a a future rotting porch decoration during our refugee’s first ever trip to the local Halloween corn maze and pumpkin patch.

When the fam came to the door, our stench assailed them. Undeterred, Renee and Jenn swung into crisis mode. Jenn went to whip up anti-skunk potion #9: dish soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide–while Renee took the Jordanian Pup straight upstairs and dumped her into the tub.

Despite our best efforts, the entire house filled with skunk stench. It lingered for days, got into everyone’s clothes and wrecked the upstairs bathroom and dog-washing tub for human use. Vinegar and lots of disinfectant had only limited success. Meanwhile, in the ‘hood, the skunk’s WMD detonation filled the block with the wretched reek for two days even though it rained the entire time.

Meanwhile, the skunk has not been seen since the incident, which leads us to believe it is under the house, plotting revenge, possibly with the help of a domestic ISIS cell.

I sat down with Gwenie the other night to discuss the incident with her. I wanted us to both smell better before we had our little face-to-face. I told her we needed to chalk this incident up as a learning experience in her continuing education on life in America. Of course, I told her that she needed to rethink chasing after non-cat critters who are smaller than she is, lest she encounter something with even nastier defensive mechanisms, such as a porcupine or a badger or a wolverine. Her new motto: Can’t we all just get along?


Get along with all but the couch anyway. Came home to this scene not long before Skunkpocalypse night. Now, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions as to who might be responsible for this destruction, but….

Apparently, that will remain an open question. Cause even a week later, we still stink and nobody wants to be around us. 🙂

Categories: Gwenie's Story | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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