Friday, January 5, 2018

Emma, the Universal Healer

Emma is a universal healer. Her name means "Universal Healer." Look closely--see her smile? She's saying, "You love me! You know you love me!"
 Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Meet Emma. Emma was adopted while I was grieving. In my family, everyone has worked with animals during some--or many--times in their lives. We have so many people in my family who are trained to work with animals that I've lost count. 
The expert advice comes in handy, but I have experience, as well. 
Through the years I've had various jobs working at dude ranches, race tracks, shelters, pet stores, and other places that taught me the good and bad sides of the "business" of animals. 

Emma loves to snuggle. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

When I was trying to recover from the sudden loss of my elderly fur friends I volunteered to work at the local Humane Society, taking photos and writing descriptions of the animals because I wanted to do my part to help the animals find homes. Emma came in while I was introducing myself and my first thought when I saw her was, "She's too small." 

I didn't want to think or say that I was afraid she wouldn't make it, but it was clear she'd been on her own for too long. She was just a baby. She had all of her baby teeth, didn't know how to hunt or defend herself, and weighed a little over three pounds. She still doesn't have fur growing on her belly.

But she was smiling. Just like my chihuahua, Chewy, who died months ago from heart disease, Emma smiles all the time, even when she's sleeping.  

Chewy, who has now joined his fur pack over the Rainbow Bridge to wait for me, is shown cuddling with Elvis. When I brought Elvis home she immediately sensed that Chewy had health issues. She would follow him around and snuggle up near him, then slowly place her paw on his shoulder as if to comfort him. She cried for weeks when Chewy died, pacing the house, searching for him. 
Photo by Darla Sue Dollman

I wasn't looking for a dog. Although I'd just lost all but one of my "pack" in a little over a year, I was still grieving painfully, but when I looked at her tag it said her name was Foo Foo. I knew it wasn't Foo Foo. Her name is Emma. I knew it the moment I saw her, and when I looked it up I knew her name with absolute certainty because Emma means Universal Healer. I also knew that some day, Emma would be with me. 

Peek-a-boo! Emma with my granddaughter. Emma adores children. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

When I received the call informing me that she was strong enough for adoption and two couples had already tried to take her home and returned her, I knew she was the dog for me. She has felt loss and abandonment. Confusion and fear. She needs a family, and a forever home, and I am in the position to offer her that and everything else she will need, including love, patience, and compassion.

So, this is Emma.

Emma is...elegant.

Emma in her holiday dress. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

When it comes to party dresses, Emma rocks it! She has two sweaters and a pale green snuggie that looks like a robe, but she loves her red dress.

Emma is...a haunted chihuahua.

Emma's favorite toy is a stuffed chihuahua named "Chewy" after my blessed little creature I discussed above who died just a few months ago. 

Emma with her Chewy toy. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

When she sees her Chewy she leaps on him, grabs him by the ears, shakes him back and forth and growls fiercely as if she is playing with another dog. She also snuggles with her Chewy toys, sleeps with them, plays with them, and appears to be trying to convince them to chase her. 

Emma snuggling with her Chewy. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Then there are times when she holds her Chewy tight to her cheek as if they are having secret conversations. I suppose it's possible that Chewy has returned to teach her all those sneaky chihuahua habits that made him so endearing because she loves her Chewy! 

Emma is...a cat. 

I used to tell my children that they could be anything they wanted, and it appears as though Emma also follows my advice. She chases the ring of light from a flashlight when you shine it on the floor. She even runs in circles chasing that flashlight until she trips over her little paws and rolls around on the ground. I'm careful not to spin her around too much--she would run in circles until she puked, she is that nutty. She leaps from one piece of furniture to another. She runs up and down the stairs like the cats and is not the least bit afraid of the dark, chasing my two black sister cats around the basement as if she, too, could see better in the night! 

Emma on the prowl. Emma is fiercesome. She will attack anything, including shadows! Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Emma also does that strange thing cats do, chasing shadows to try and freak out their owners and make them believe there's something in the room! Emma chases the shadow from my braid when I bend over to pick her up and the light is above my head. She chases the shadows of the cats when the lights shine in the window and the cats walk across the room. 

And when it's time for bed, Emma curls up into a ball, just like a cat (but burrowed beneath the comforter in typical chihuahua fashion). 

Emma is...a sand kicker! That's right--she's the beach bully from the Charles Atlas ads! 

No, really! When she's feeling playful, fiesty, protecting her food dish from the dogs, responding to the sound of a doorbell on television, or if I tell her to go to bed and she wants to play with the cats instead, she turns into Charles Atlas, the body building celebrity from the 1940s--she puffs up her chest, holds her chin high, and kicks out her back feet as if she's the humiliated "Mac on the beach" getting even with the bully by kicking sand in his face. "I may be small, but you will respect me" she seems to say as she hops from side to side, tossing imaginary grains of sand behind her. 

Emma may be one of the smaller creatures in the house (the African Dwarf Frog and hermit crabs haver her beat in that category) but she holds her own. She is creative in her defense. One of the cats loves to tease her by sliding her paw near Emma's food dish. The cat doesn't want the food, she just likes to tease Emma. A few days ago, Emma responded by dragging all of her stuffed animals to fhe food dish and stuffing them one by one on top of her food. She could no longer reach her food, and her toys were covered with kibble, but when she was done she was so proud of her accomplishment that she turned her back on the cat (who you can see in the background to the left) and kicked imaginary sand in her face! Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

I was on the phone yesterday, removed something from my purse and dropped my purse on the floor. In a matter of minutes she had pawed through my wallet and shredded two checks and a deposit slip I was supposed to take to the bank along with $40 in bills. I picked her up and put her on the bed and told her she was naughty and, yep, you guessed it--she turned her back on me and kicked her hind legs at me as if she was kicking sand in my face! It's oddly intimidating! Let's put it this way--I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley! 

Pixie crept around Emma's kennel and actually stole two of Emma's Chewy toys. (Emma has four Chewy toys).  Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Sometimes Pixie Dust will try to steal the Chewy toy and Emma kicks imaginary sand in her face. Elvis, Pixie's sister, will wait until Emma is snuggled deep beneath the comforter sleeping soundly then carefully slide her paw beneath the comforter and poke Emma to wake her up. Emma jumps up--which isn't easy to do when you're beneath a layer of down comforters--shoves her way out from beneath the comforters, chases Elvis off the bed then turns around and kicks imaginary sand in her face. Elvis licks her paw, pretending not to notice. She looks at the ceiling, at the floor, at her sister. When Emma is satisfied that Elvis is sufficiently covered in imaginary sand she will go back to bed...and Elvis will jump back up onto the bed, creep over to the lump beneath the comforter, slide her paw...

Emma's kitty companions. Elvis is on the left and her sister, Pixie Dust, is on the right. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

 The Chewy toy originally belonged to Elvis, who cuddled with the toy after Chewy died to help her cope with the grieving process (true story) and oddly, Emma leaves Chewy alone if Elvis is cuddling with the Chewy toy. The animal politics in this house are mind-boggling 

Emma is...confusing!

She is not the only troublemaker in the house. All of the animals tease her, including Big Baby Dog, and Emma holds her own. Baby, however, also treats Emma like a baby! He's so careful around her that he refuses to walk when she's nearby because he's afraid of stepping on her and she moves so quickly he can't see her. 

Baby's not sure what to think of Emma! Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

I think the cats find her amusing. She's only 1/4 their size, but she chases them through the house, up and down the stairs, leaps on their backs, chews on their ears, and they do nothing to stop her. I tell them not to encourage her, but who listens in this nutty house! 

Baby is a different story. Baby is an innocent in this situation. He recently had a surgery to remove a strange fatty tumor that developed right in the center of his armpit preventing him from walking. Now he exercises, but it wears him out as he's still recovering. 

When I first brought Emma home Baby just stared at her. He couldn't figure out if she was a dog or a fruit bat! Emma loves him, though. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Baby is a happy fella, though, and loves to wag his wide, thick tail, and when he wags that tail Emma latches on with those teeth and flops up and down. Sometimes he growls at her, sometimes he snaps at her, but most of the time he ignores her. 
Baby had a tumor beneath his armpit and could not walk for months. He literally hopped on three paws and gained weight because he couldn't do anything. He is recovering well with the love and support of little Emma. She keeps him busy, but she also loves to snuggle up to his big belly. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

I suspect this situation will change as soon as she loses those baby teeth! When she doesn't get the attention she wants she will leap onto his side and pounce on his belly, just as she does on the cats. That doesn't work, either. A four pound dog leaping on top of a 100 pound belly is like a fly landing on a horse. 

Emma is...confused!

If she hears someone whistle on television she comes running, but she doesn't understand the word "come." She understands "go to bed," and will do so obediently, but when I tell her to "come" she runs in circles around the house. The whistling situation would seem to be helpful, but I don't know how to whistle! 
Emma responding to someone whistling on television. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Emma is...addicted to television.

It's true. She will sit at the end of the bed and watch an entire movie with me. I have to be careful, though. If there are children in the movie and the children are upset or cry, Emma cries, too. If someone is fighting, she jumps up and kicks sand at them. 

I once wrote a post about rescuing animals, how we never know what they've been through. Emma intrigues me. I can't imagine what her previous life was like--why would she spend so much time watching television? She was only three months old when I brought her home. 

Emma waiting for a holiday visit from the grandchildren. 
Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Emma is...madly in love with children!

The day I brought Emma to her forever home we stopped took to visit my grandchildren. As soon as Emma saw my granddaughter walk out of the house she went so crazy I thought she would dig a hole right through the passenger window. When my grandchildren are at my home, I do not exist. She follows them everywhere, and when they leave, she cries for hours. She literally walks around the house searching for them, crying. It's heartbreaking. 

Emma is...loved. 

With all of my heart.