The Warrior Princess and the Cowardly Lion

The reports of Toot, Saturday night, at Siro's Piano Bar in Quincy, Massachusetts, belting out "Mack the Knife," are greatly exaggerated. And, she most certainly did NOT smoke a cigarette during her solo rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago." Toot has never even been to Chicago. She is a New Yorker by birth.

But, if Toot were to have instigated that wild celebration, and I am NOT saying that she did, the probable cause might have been the joint adoption of Zena, The Warrior Princess, and Simba, The Cowardly Lion, that occurred earlier in the day, in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. As Hamlet once said, "There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio." Well, Horatio....or somebody else upstairs..... was pulling strings here to orchestrate the loopy chain of events resulting in the match of Zena and Simba.

Part One: The Bum Rap

Never before, has a rescue dog been given as bum a rap, as we gave Simba. We conjectured that this five year old male beauty was dumped roadside in Long Island by a puppy miller, after his swansong roll in the hay. He was snagged by Animal Control and incarcerated in a local shelter. After les snip-snip at the vet, Simba was placed in a home. He was returned for disagreeing with the family dog. Strike One.

And, so, Heart Bandits was called. Audra Eckes sprung Simba from the klink, and brought him home to see if Blackie, Teddy Bear and Molly could diagnose this dog aggression issue. When Audra explained it to me, we realized we had an unusual phenomenon on our hands. "He's a nudge...." she said. "He figures out what annoys other dogs and then presses the issue. He doesn't start fights, he gets other dogs to start fights." Ahhh....I see, we had an Alpha Nudge on our hands.

After two months at Audra's, a suitable home for Simba surfaced. Everything seemed perfect....the family loved Simba......well, except for the Toy Poodle. But, how much damage could a Toy Poodle do? Odds were that the situation would work itself out. The odds were off that day, ..... Simba was returned for munching on the poodle. Strike two.

By this time, Audra's Teddy Bear had wiped out her fostering capacity with a single bite to her landlord's leg, so when Simba returned, he headed straight to the kennel. After two "dog attack" reports, we were not so anxious to invite Simba to any of our foster homes for Eskie hors d'ouveres. So, there he sat for six months, while Audra kept singing his praises...."Honestly, he's a love...a real mush."

Soon after hell froze over, we had an inquiry on Simba from a family in Quincy, Massachusetts. No kidding. And, it was a "no kids, no cats, no dogs" home, a veritable miracle from heaven. We started the transportation arrangements. Audra decided to visit for the weekend, so I packed up the Angels From God, headed over the Throg's Neck Bridge to Long Island. As Audra took Simba from the vet, the techs were in tears at his loved was this dog. However, neighbors complained for days about the earsplitting howls of joy heard from the kennel's dog population.

Ann and I were uneasy. She phoned me on the road with a stern reminder, "Be sure that you transport Simba responsibly. I don't want him mauling Toot." Well.....I suspect that Toot might have a thing or two to say about any maulings occurring in her vicinity....but, point taken. I promised Ann that Simba would be as secure as Hannibal Lechter relocating from Sing Sing to Alcatraz. In practical terms, this promise meant that, since the back seat will not accommodate a crate, Simba was tied to the door handle, while the Angels from God rode on Audra's lap upfront. When we pulled into Quincy at 3:30 a.m., we could not persuade the ignition to release the car key. In rescue, this might be interpreted as a very, very bad sign of things to come.

Emma decided New Hampshire was not for her, so she's back in foster care in New York. Read Emma's story.

And, it was. The adopters blew us off on Saturday. So, we held our breath hoping they would reschedule. They did, but not until Monday. So, we had the weekend to protect the Angels from God from Simba. After spending the morning at the Volkswagen Repair Joint, we started our weekend agenda with a two hour delay. Our first task was to drive our foster girl, Emma to her new home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Since this family was the one made famous in the Baby story, I did not want to risk screwing up Emma's adoption by inviting the Angels From God and Simba to make a spectacle of the breed. So Emma made the trip solo.

Upon our return home, we discovered absolutely no trouble. Of course, we kept Simba and The Angels from God separated all weekend, and by Monday, I was relieved as we headed to Simba's new home. We were sure that this would be an easy adoption, because Simba is "such a mush." As soon as we left, Simba managed to have unprecedented disagreements with all four adult family members. Strike Three.

I was nonplused. What to do with this dog? The adopters brought him back to my place, and I was panic-stricken. Our rescue effort was going to come to a grinding halt if I had a long term, unpredictable, impossible to place, predatory, foster dog, aggressive to animals and people. Not to mention the risk to the Angels from God. A tough, tough decision had to be made. The agony of it ... the long distance calls, impassioned emails....the gut wrenching reality was grim, as we decided to put Simba down.

And, then..........I discovered the politics of the peanut butter bone. Admittedly, Simba did not seem like your average predator. He was a little too goofy. Many times, I thought I heard him do a Jimmy Durante version of "Inka Dinka Doo." The Angels From God seemed to have little interest in him.....and believe me, they usually express an opinion about other alpha dogs. Ask Sophie.

So, I relaxed enough to experiment with see if I could stir things up. Clearly, Simba did not understand the proper peanut butter bone procedure. One must carefully bite off one chunk at a time, while keeping one paw squarely on the uneaten portion, to safeguard against interlopers. Instead, Simba broke the peanut butter bone into three chunks, with the chunks between his front paws, he leisurely snacked on one piece at a time. Like a B52 bomber, Nikita swooped in from on top of his crate, and snatched a piece of Simba's peanut butter bone. I was shocked....and terrified. Leave it to Nikita to incite a riot. Simba smiled, cocked his head, with an enormous eskie grin that seemed to say, "Wha Happen?"

And then Toot, grand master of the "Monkey See, Monkey Do" Maneuver, swooped in and snatched a second chunk of Simba's peanut butter bone. Simba looked up at her and smiled. I heard that the perpetuators of cultural colloquialisms rewrote the expression, "Like taking candy from a baby," to "Like taking peanut butter bone from Simba." Finally, Nadia started to eye Simba's remaining, and very soggy, piece of peanut butter bone. She got halfway across the room when I blew a raspberry to stop her in her tracks. (The "raspberry" has been greatly underestimated as a training tool). I put the Angels From God in the bedroom so that "Hannibal Lechter" could eat his peanut butter bone in peace.

Now, something did not add up. A dog-aggressive dog would have certainly commented on the AFG "snatch and grab." I continued to observe Simba react to typical AFG rude treatment of houseguests, which to my amazement sometimes resulted in PLAY. I credit Simba with the patience of Job, for putting up with Nadia, in particular. She hovered over him, snarling at every turn, yapyapyaping in his Eskie Alice Kramden. For heaven's sake, I was even ready to slug her. When Simba tried to go through the bedroom door before her, she pushed him and he mustered the nerve to push back. In one svelte move, Nadia flipped him, pinned him, waited til he stopped wiggling, and then licked his face. Nadia is a kind-hearted, bossy bitch. Nikita and Toot looked on, so confident that she had the matter under control, they couldn't be bothered to lend support. Good grief, it took the triple tag team to subdue Sophie.

The following morning I notified the triumvirate....Ann, Audra and Diane....that I was NOT going to whack this dog. And, so Simba became the 4th Angel from God, and low man on the totem pole.

Part Two: The Romance

Zena, The Warrior Princess

Carmella, relaxing at home, after the departure of the Warrior Princess. Read Carmella's own rescue story and how she came to live with sister, Sasha, and mom, Jean.

We lived happily for a month, the four Angels from God mellowing slowly. Each day was getting better and better.....although Nadia was particularly worried that she would starve to death because Simba ate all their food. We had to rethink our free feeding strategy. And, once we did, we were so pleased at the cessation of Simba's diarrhea, that we celebrated with our friend, Joe, from Imperial Carpet Cleaning.

Soon thereafter, I finalized plans to pick up Zena, the Warrior Princess. Zena had been in foster care for an extra few months because she decided to swing into heat to wangle out of her spay appointment. Zena's foster mom, Jeanne Corvese, reported that her girls, Carmella and Sasha were running out of patience with The Warrior Princess's alpha antics, so after eeking out every last second of Jeanne's hospitality, I picked up Zena. Carmella sent me a most gracious "thank you...but, what-the-hell-took-you-so- long," note.

Zena was full of panache....and extremely easy on the eyes. Once she walked in the door, Simba was smitten. And, since Zena was wrapping up the heat episode, she was in a very good mood. A much better mood than I find myself in under similar circumstances. Simba and Zena were an item from the get-go, and Zena was quite appreciative of the old "humparoo," certainly....she enjoyed it more than Audra. The Angels From God were disgusted with all that flirtatious, mushy stuff and retreated to their secret places.

In the next few days, I whisked Zena off to the vet for an overnight stay prior to her spay appointment. Simba mourned nonstop by the front door. And, he was clearly overjoyed when Zena returned, but perplexed at her vile, cantankerous mood swing. His little muffin had turned into a fire-breathing dragon. Zena was in post-surgical hormonal hell, and she let everybody know it. I tried to make her comfy in the laundry room and left the door open so she could go in and out as she pleased. much for relaxation....she had four dogs blocking the doorway, hovering over her.

Zena was extremely unhappy, and in terrible pain -- one of the worst spay reactions I have seen. She refused to come out of the laundry room for three days. And, she would not tolerate any dog companionship. But, Simba wouldn't give up. He kept on visiting her, and finally after being told to "go to hell" for the three millionth time, Zena allowed him to lay down in the laundry room.....well, technically, half in the laundry room....behind out. And, so he kept her company hour by hour.....blocking the doorway, so the Angels from God couldn't get to her.....or her food and water.

As Oprah would say, I had a "lightbulb moment." They are rare, but when they happen, they are doozies. I reread the adoption application that I was considering for Zena....the more I read it, and the more I corresponded with Benny and Debbie Light of Portsmouth, RI...., the more I liked these folks. A wonderful kids, no other dogs. So. Why not??? Who in their right mind would only want one Eskie?

So, I pitched the idea of the Lights adopting Simba and Zena. I knew I had Debbie convinced, but the ever skeptical Benny was going to be a harder sell. He seemed to have some kind of abnormal affection for common sense. Fortunately, Simba helped me out on that one. Five minutes after we arrived at the Light's oceanfront home in Portsmouth, Simba and Benny were lying on the floor snuggling. Badda bing, badda boom.

Read more about Zena and Simba in their wonderful new home.

What a fairy tale ending.....from death's door to oceanfront living with the love of his life and two supremely doting parents. Simba is one lucky buckaroo. Although the Angels from God were thrilled that the houseguests vacated the premises, they registered a complaint with the carpet at being excluded from the daytrip to Portsmouth. I was pleased to report to them, that as Simba and Zena's "Auntie Denise," our guestroom has an ocean view.

Benny and Debbie probably don't realize that we certainly WILL take them up on their standing invitation to visit. Nothing Toot loves more than an ocean swim.


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© 2001 Eskies Online/Denise Gareau