Saturday, February 4, 2012

A mad case of puppy love

Call it puppy love, puppy fever or just plain old insanity – whatever you call it, George and I have it. Zoe entered our lives more than a week ago when a friend who visits here regularly (and has five dogs at home in the States), decided to rescue her from the noisy, crowded vet store in Loreto.

Meet Zoe!

Her intention was to bring the little miniature schnauzer (a breed noted for being steadfast, loyal, affectionate and obedient – think dog version of a Boy Scout) home with her as the newest addition to her dog menagerie. But the morning she stopped by our house with the adorable puppy (formerly known as Frannie), her plan changed. Maybe it was my stupefied reaction at seeing her standing on my doorstep holding what looked like a baby Ewok (you’ll remember those tree-living cuties from the old Star Wars’ movies). Maybe it was the way I swooned when I held the fluffy little critter. Whatever it was, she suddenly seemed determined to gift us with the little bundle of joy.

She and our friend Tracy had tried in the past to persuade George to become a puppy daddy. They’d plied him with enough booze to stock a good-sized liquor cabinet, but to no avail. My occasional whining about wanting a pet didn’t move him one bit! He’d just pat my knee in a comforting way and smile sweetly - talk about infuriating! Yes, George stood firm in his resolve to remain pet-free in the face of all that pleading (mine), whining (mine) and alcohol (the two Tracys).

It took the sight of that furry little puppy to weaken his resolve. Suddenly, he was talking about the possibility by bringing up how much our lives would change if we took her. No more picking up at a moment’s notice for a quick trip to La Paz or to town. And what about the boat, he asked. How would we take overnight trips with a dog? (Zoe has been on Poco Loco with us twice now and has been good as gold!) He argued we’d no longer be free to do anything if we had a puppy. Oh, woe was he!

Zoe with Bradley and Shiloh

In spite of all those concerns it only took a few sessions of puppy sitting for him to cave. I can’t say he was as enthused as I, but he gave the go-ahead and now she’s ours. And, boy, have things changed around here! Our living room is a jumble of dog toys and puppy chews. Our time is taken up chasing her around the house, reading dog books, taking her for hourly walks in the hopes that potty-training will be a short-lived misery for all of us, grabbing naps when we can and laughing at her antics as she bounces and bounds around the house. In short, she’s made this place a lot more lively and fun. And George has gone from being puppy shy to puppy crazy. If you’d seen him at the store reading the ingredient’s lists on bags of puppy food, you’d laugh.

Zoe and her best buddy Monti

And to say she’s a hit here in this dog-centric community in which we live would be an understatement. Everywhere we go she’s besieged by admirers and she shows her appreciation with plenty of dog kisses for all. Just a few nights ago, she went with me to watch George and the other members of Los Beach Dogs (how nice that her dad is dog, too!) play an informal gig at the Wine Cellar here in Loreto Bay. I hate to say it, but she took a lot of attention away from those guitar-strumming dogs that evening. In fact, she stole the show!

Not to say it’s all sunshine and lollipops around here, though. Zoe is only 9 weeks old, so she’s into chewing everything in sight. We’ve had to hide all the scatter rugs we had out and we have to watch her like a hawk to keep her from taking off with our shoes and anything else that looks tasty. And let’s not forget the little “accidents” that keep me busy with papers towels and the mop.

We’re very lucky, though, that we have great neighbors and friends to go to for advice on how to train her, especially since neither one of us has been around a puppy in many years. She’s also got some great dog mentors in the neighborhood who happily play with her and teach her how to be a good dog. Thanks Monti and Shiloh!

This has really been a year of changes for us: Walkways, landscaping, Poco Loco, home improvements and now Zoe. Our roots here are really starting to take hold, just like Zoe has taken hold of our hearts…

Friday, February 3, 2012

Feathering the nest

Now that our neighborhood is looking more neighborly with beautiful walkways and plants, George and I decided it’s time to do something about our good-sized side garden which has stood dusty and forlorn for way too long.

Originally, we’d come up with an elaborate – and expensive – plan that would include a plunge pool to help us in our never-ending battle to combat the heat during our six-month long summer. But our purchase of Poco Loco put an end to that plan, because who needs a dinky pool when there’s access to the best and biggest pool around – the Sea of Cortez.

So now our plans are more modest, but we’re excited nonetheless, because this will give us more space for entertaining and relaxing and much more storage space in the form of a large storage shed or bodega, as it’s called here in Mexico. Finally we’ll have space to store our electric scooters and bikes, as well as all the other odds and ends that are now crammed into every nook and cranny of our casa. Maybe we’ll finally get organized! Then again, considering our penchant for disorganization, maybe not…

Already the floor of the bodega is in place and work on the flagstone paving has begun. We’re also planning on a decorative wall fountain and lots and lots of plants and at least one leafy shade tree. And finally, too, we’ll be able to use the Weber grill that’s been gathering dust outside, which is a real bonus as our upstairs grill seems to have only one heat setting – incinerate!

The only fly in the ointment is the half-finished home that towers over our side yard. To say it’s an eyesore is to say the least, so we’re trying to come up with some creative ways (other than hiring a bulldozer) to camouflage our unsightly neighbor. The simplest plan is to plant climbing vines and that’s where we’ll start.

However, the half-finished homes that comprise a large part of Agua Viva look like they’ll be an ongoing problem for years to come for all of us who finished our homes. What do you do when people walk away from their investment, leaving partially finished homes to deteriorate and devalue completed homes? Our hope is that some of those people will just deed the property over to the home owner association so we can deal with the mess they left behind. Otherwise, legal action is our only remedy. And for those who think they’re safe from legal repercussions because they live in the U.S. or Canada, think again! You can lose your property here in Mexico whether you live here or not.

But the problem with these derelict homes is much greater than just being an eyesore. Many of them are a safety hazard. Too often there is rusting rebar protruding from the concrete of these homes, which poses a threat to anyone walking by. We know of one home owner who fell face down on exposed rebar alongside a derelict home, leaving her with a terrible black eye and the knowledge that she could easily have lost her eye. Talk about a literal eyesore!

So, as much as we’ve accomplished in making our community more livable and pleasant, we’ve got a long way to go.