The non-adoption of Fluffy Snowball is truly a miracle. Fluff was brought to me by a pretty typical family who would do much better with a stuffed Eskie than a real Eskie. But, I have to be fair. Fluff was, reportedly, a handful. In particular, she seemed to dislike men, and she seemed to have a predilection for chomping on strangers.

See, I like a dog who has such priorities in life...I have been known to have men/stranger issues myself. So, I set about diagnosing Fluffy Snowball's quirks so that I could pick her new parents. It was a lucky thing, indeed, that my (in)significant other, Zach, was staying with me for a short time until an appropriate, dog-free residence presented itself...which it did six very long months later. And so, Zach's role in rescue was to bond with the man-haters and convince them that men could be nice. Wild success is the best way to describe Zach's approach, because absolutely every single dog that walked in the door loved him. Except, Toot...whose judgement is on par with my Grandmother, Irma's. She is not always right, but she is never, ever wrong.

After a while, I became convinced that it was not so much his approach, as the fact that his was the only empty lap. But, I will take progress wherever I can find it, and so, Fluffy Snowball became the first of Zach's many "little girls." Now, when a whacko rescue person has a partner who is not dog-addicted it is very easy to gaslight him because the average Joe cannot wrap his mind around the notion of having so many dogs in one place at one time. The "crisis mode, life or death" modus operandi that we rescue mavens live by is unfathomable to the Average Joe. Diane Gonzalez has used the gaslight trump card on her husband, Willie, on every possible occasion to conceal the arrival of new rescue dogs. And so, I took a page from her playbook, and placed Zach on the "need to know basis."

Fluffy Snowball was at our house for three days before a particular houseguest detected her presence. Not that it is so easy to conceal a dog in a one bedroom apartment. Zach thought that Fluffy was my Nadia. And, when, in an absent-minded moment, I referred to her as "Fluffy Snowball," he said, shocked, "Who is Fluffy Snowball?" And, I said, "The dog in your lap." I never underestimate the cognitive power of testosterone.

And so, the adopter search commenced. Fluffy Snowball was a divine diva, slightly opinionated and a tad unpredictable...but what a face! I had to find real, true Eskie people for her...people who were not above having their own quirks. In short, I settled on Abby and Norm of Central Massachusetts after evidence of clear cut eskie madness was presented in their phone interview. Abby and Norm were seasoned Eskie owners, which is always a plus for us. We spoke the same language....all you have to do is say things like "Vacuum," "UPS guy," "rollerbladers," and you speak volumes about Eskie behavior...it is like Eskie code.

Abby and Norm had lost their Eskie girl to an awful illness, and now they were ready to adopt another. I would have given these wildly funny, creative, adorable people any dog they wanted, but I specifically wanted them for Fluffy Snowball. I just knew that this was the right fit. And, so I set to work "the convince."

As usual, I had a strategy for the adoption meeting. Zach was on hand because, he, Abby and Norm are all accomplished jazz guitarists, and I suspected that the conversation would waver in that direction, thus, relieving the pressure on Fluffy Snowball. I had primped her the best I could. Apparently, her former owners had used the weed whacker rather than the shower nozzle to rinse the poop off her pantaloons, and the resulting silhouette was not pretty. But, I was hopeful that her personality would overcome her bad haircut.

Abby and Norm arrived and immediately plopped themselves on the floor. And Fluffy Snowball began to work them over like a shameless Politician. This dog absolutely adored her Norm and Abby. She went back and forth between them, hedging her bet by playing no favorites, and rolled over on her back for tummy rubs....it was a beautiful sight. In fact, I have rarely seen such spectacular, absolute home run adoption meetings. I thought the ball was out of the park.

Until...Abby said no. She was just not bonding with Fluffy Snowball. Why? Because she did not look like the little girl she had lost. Now, when someone says something to me like that at an adoption...I realize that it is grief at work. Sometimes the notion that an adopter is "replacing" a dog that they loved so much casts a negative light on the new dog. So, I went to work, nudging, pushing, insisting...doing what I do best when I believe I am right about something. And, I knew I was right about Abby, Norm and Fluffy Snowball.

And so, I did something I never (well, rarely) do, and that was to offer them a two week foster option, after which they could return her if they had not absolutely fallen in love with her. I sort of felt like "Crazy Eddie" selling TVs in NYC, but, the irony is that I would never, never offer anyone this option if I were not 1000 percent sure that the adopters would keep the dog. And, so, in only three days, Abby told me that she just didn't think that she could give Fluffy Snowball back to me. "Well, that's too bad, I said...you will just have to keep her." And at the end of the two weeks, Abby and Norm came back to sign the adoption agreement. You know, "being right" is absolutely all that it is cracked up to be.

Here is Abby and Norm's first report on their Fluffa...

March 23, 2004

Dear Denise, Zach, residents, & visiting dignitaries,

Here's a couple of shots from our brand new picture phone, but if you give us a week or so we can get better ones. So far we have only perfected the schnozzle shot. Anyhow things are dandy here with the little woman, she's doing great and is much loved by all. Here's our saga:

"Crrrrazy, I'm crrazy from being so lone-lyyyyy...."

Well, after about a week of bliss when F decided she was safe she felt confident enough to share her emotional traumas with us, mainly by occasional but disturbing biting with snarling fits. As our vet noticed after such an event, she would then apologize, explaining that she had had an awful childhood....and most of the time being unbelievably affectionate.

"Bunker Betty"

We noticed that her "confused" moments generally happened when 1)we were leaving to go out, or closing her off from any room, and then she would snap and growl at us if we tried to reassure her and pet her good-bye before leaving 2) when she had a scrap of something choke like and we wanted to get it from her...(she is a chewer...hence the tennis ball teeth)....then she would growl, snarl & bite, then run under the coffee table with her prize 3) We learned not to reach under the coffee table....even nicely.....hence the new title "Bunker Betty"...4) If there was a tick or wet poo on her that we wanted to gently remove, we had to watch out for growl & bite or snap....

"I'm just a girl who wants to be good, oh lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.."

Well, after completely winning over both Grandmas, one who cares for her on our work days, everyone was convinced there was something exceptionally loving and intelligent about our "white snapper".....and improvement started...

"I will do anything to sleep with you"

Well with a lot of positive reinforcement, she has almost eliminated these behaviors, with a few slips generally if she is meeting a new person she doesn't like...she desperately wanted love and closeness, absolute full time closeness and hugs (she hates not being in the bathroom with us, even) more need for closeness than any other "dog" we've met....and seemed to be motivateable by this, especially as trust grew that we were not going to hit her. (I'd looooove to know any & all details about her life with her prior owners, it would be very enlightening) She also was motivateable by THE BALL. It is all about THE BALL. and also THE KONG. She is a devoted retriever and will play fetch until exhausted, returning the ball directly to your open palm. Now she accepts if we have to leave her at home, lets us out the door without biting....she hasn't snapped in a while.....and is as she always was an incredible sweetheart, exceptionally loving, exceptionally smart, trainable, and winning over all relatives who initially are put off by being growled and cringed and snapped at.......She is much much better about being handled when she needs to be cleaned or dried off, rolls over and is submissive, and lets us remove ticks no prob....you can kiss her tummy, handle her feet, hold her schnozzle....she will let us take away things she grabs that she could choke on.....we will go to a trainer this spring anyhow though, because, while she is doing quite amazingly, she is bound to have some jealousy over the baby....yes, don't worry....we're pregnant .......so we got the name of supposedly the best person ever, in Newton, from our friend Darleen Arden who just wrote a book with Angell Memorial and is a small dog pro. She would love the AFG site, I should forward it to her. She also does a cable TV show.

"Don't hate me because I am beautiful, I am only a fluffy, fluffy, fluffy snowball....."

We really wanted to change the name, but we kept having little jingles occur to us and somehow it stuck.....for example,

"Look for, the fluffy snowball.." sung to the tune of, look for the union label....or, the epic....

(refrain)fluffy snowball, fluffy snowball, fluffy snowball, fluffy snowball.
In the evening, as i was sleeping, i thought i felt a , puppy creeping.
In the morning, as sleep was fading, I thought I heard some, garbage raiding.
it goes on.....

also, sung to the the tune of "la cucarocha":
" a fluffasno-ball, a fluffasno-ball, fluffa fluffa fluffa fluffa...."

Anyhow anytime you are in the area please feel free to bring the AFG for a visit.
I was unable to keep food down for about 3 months and had to go on IV fluids....but the 2nd trimester is awesome so far. Fluffa was a great bedfellow & comfort while I was at my sickest. She loves, strawberries, LIMES, carrots.......she will hide treasures all over the house, under sofa cushions, outside under turf, and look for them later.
We'll get some better photos this week.

Hope you guys are all well,

Abby and Norm