I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Today I'll tell the tale of how this cute little Papillon dog came to find his forever home with Norma Jean. It all started two years ago when I came to stay with her after she lost both her husband Pete and her little long-haired chihuahua within five days of each other. Both of her grown children Peter and Allison, along with me, came to be with her in her Florida home during those awful days.

First Peter returned to his job in Michigan, then Allison and her infant daughter left to resume their lives in Virginia, and I stayed an extra week past that time. Allison had checked all the pet rescue places, hoping to find a replacement dog for Norma Jean before she left. On line, she found an older chihuahua slated for euthanasia within the week if no home could be found for him. She started the process but, as many of you know, it can be a long drawn-out process to make your way through the red tape. Nothing had been accomplished by the time Allison left.

In the meantime, I convinced Norma Jean to go to the Humane Society and look for a dog. While there, we were shown a very tragic-looking dog who had endured hernia surgery the day before and was in dire condition. We took her home with us and named her Babe, as her name on the card was simply, "Me Too." In the meantime, the paperwork for Chester, the chihuahua, came through, and we suddenly had two dogs on our hands.

I believe sincerely that if Babe had not been adopted that day or the next, she would have died. Within a few days we had taken her to Norma Jean's vet to have her checked out and found that she was dehydrated and badly constipated. After treatment, she spent most of her time curled inside the pet carrier Norma Jean had in the living room, not interested in anything but sleeping. She was estimated to be perhaps two years old and nobody knew anything about her previous history.

Chester, on the other hand, had been turned in to the Humane Society by the family of his previous owner, who had died. Nobody wanted this wonderful dog, so to save him from being euthanized, Norma Jean adopted him. She had never before had two dogs, but now she did. Before I left, she told me she was afraid of the vet bills for two and wondered how she would manage.

After I returned home, we began the process that continues to this day of talking via video chat two or three times a week. I learned that Norma Jean was desperately unhappy, trying to find a way to recover from her loss, and the dogs were keeping her from being able to make the decision to travel to Virginia and stay with Allison for awhile. Although it was an agonizingly difficult decision, we decided together that she should return them to the rescue organization, now that Babe was healthy and Chester was saved. So she did and went to spend some time with her daughter and granddaughter.

But when she came home, her life was very empty. Enough time had passed that she felt it was possible for her to adopt another dog and started looking. While on Craigslist for something else, she saw a column advertising pets and checked it out. One caught her eye, a listing for "Papillons Neutered and Un-neutered." She called the number and found that an eight-month-old neutered puppy was available for a small fee, and arranged to meet the woman in a coffee shop. In walked the woman with this tiny adorable nine-pound furball, and Norma Jean was smitten. The lady told her that she already had two other dogs and he wasn't getting the attention he needed. Norma Jean walked out of the coffee shop with him.

The first thing she did was make an appointment at her vet's office to have him checked out, although he seemed healthy enough. The vet quizzed her about how she had obtained him, and suggested he might have been stolen. He was checked for a microchip and none was found, but the vet asked Norma Jean why she thought he had been neutered. Norma Jean said because of what she had been told, and because of the obvious lack of testicles, but the vet said they were still there, undescended. They might cause problems in the future if left as they were, so Norma Jean made an appointment for surgery. We speculated that he had been sold by a breeder who had no use for him.

The dog still had no name, and her son Peter suggested the name "Icarus," because the puppy has enormous ears, as most Papillons have. The myth of Icarus is one of a young man who made himself wings of wax to enable him to fly. Well, those ears are this dog's most prominent feature, so it seemed appropriate. The only unfortunate part of the name is that it is shortened to "Icky," which does not describe him at all!
Icarus is now more than two years old, and Norma Jean can travel with him, if needed, and spends her quiet days together with him. He is a charmer, and Norma Jean is happy, although the decision to turn the other two dogs back to the rescue organization was a hard one. She was meant to be with this little guy, and now she is. That's the story of how they ended up together.


CrazyCris said...

That's a lovely story DJan! And I love Icarus's name! :o)

I hope the other two dogs found a nice home as well...

Rian said...

Those ears are adorable. They remind me of a black Swallowtail butterfly! And Icarus is a great name.

Anonymous said...

Gee, what a name that is! Icky? I laughed at that one! Lol. What's next, DJan? Will you, too, adopt a pet?

Linda Reeder said...

Papillon means butterfly, of course, and those beautiful ears look just like one. I"m so glad your sister made the right match.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I'm so glad that you shared this story because after reading last Sunday's posting about you and Norma Jean and your relationship, I so wanted to know more about your sister's relationship with Icarus.

What a wonderful name for a young dog with such big and expressive ears!

It is too bad that Norma Jean had to return the two other dogs, but we can hope that they found good homes and we already know that she truly needed to be with someone--her daughter--for a while because of the loneliness.

So my hope is that all is well that ends well, that the other two dogs found homes and that Norma Jean and Icarus found one another and will continue to provide unconditional love to one another! Peace.

Jackie said...

Lovely story and a beautiful dog...
I'm glad they found each other.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Oh he is cute! Thanks for the whole story..pet ownership sometimes has it's ups and downs.. I am glad that Icky has a good home..I bet he is a charmer for sure and a good snuggler:)

Arkansas Patti said...

I have always had a soft spot for the butterfly dogs. They are adorable. I know he does wonders to warm the lonely spots in your sister's life.
Sorry the other two dogs didn't work out but they were at least given a healthy boost which would have increased their adoptability.

Red said...

Good story. Many times it is recommended that people are not to make major decisions after a loss. this is a good example o a hasty decision that wasn't appropriate the time. However, everything turned out right after all.

Gloria Baker said...

I love this dog, love your blog and love your comments in Brian Blog!!

Friko said...

It’s horrible to (have to) return dogs when no longer wanted. I absolutely hate it. To adopt a dog before the new owner is ready is heart breaking. I think dogs feel very rejected although they usually settle in quickly when they’ve found their true home. Rescued dogs already suffer from insecurity. All my dogs were rescued and they are so totally grateful, as well as clingy, when they are give a good home.

Your sister’s new dog is a sweetie and I am glad that the two of them have settled in with each other. Your sister needs the company, as does Icarus.

Linda Myers said...

So glad you told us the whole story about Norma Jean and the dogs.

Sally Wessely said...

This is a great story. I love the dog. I'm so glad Norma Jean has this great pet.

Mel said...

Icarus has the cutest ears I have ever seen on a dog! I'm so glad your sister found the right match for her. Dogs can be the best companions, they love us the same no matter what.

#1Nana said...

I think we remain pet-free because I worry about being tied down, but one of these days a pet who was meant to be ours will find us.

Beth said...

A beautiful story DJan.

I am visiting you from Annie's blog. She is one of my favorites. I will be following your blog.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

The good thing with this little one is she can travel with her little sweet dog. And she has a little guy who totally needs her and she needs him, WIN win