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2008-10-29 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Time for a Halloween horror story, courtesy of my recently rescued Afghan Hound, master of the macabre and misinterpreter of all things mundane. It's called "The Emasculation of Edgar Afghan Poe". Beware: the following silly saga is not for the squeamish or any reader uncertain of his manhood.

You may recall that Edgar is one of the 67 Afghans, seized last summer from a New Mexico hoarder. (Beacon "Pets" online July 31 & Sept.4.) Edgar was severely matted and traumatized, one of the worst, so he was anesthetized at the Santa Fe shelter before being stripped down. Neutering, though mandatory for all the distressed dogs, was postponed until they were settled in foster or adoptive homes.

The Afghan Hound Club of America's priority was to work swiftly getting the surviving 54 dogs out of the shelter and into breed-experienced homes throughout the country. In less than a month Edgar flew to Newark Airport, and then stayed briefly in Deer Park, Philadelphia and Connecticut, before coming back to me for keeps.

Since Edgar lived in isolation in the desert with little "normal" interaction, most encounters here are new and potentially frightening. He is fearful, especially of "outsiders", but improving. In the yard he wriggled out of 2 collars and a harness because he was afraid to walk by my 87 year old father even though he wasn't carrying his usual, scary tennis racket. The fishermen at Southards Pond terrify him. I attribute this to the 3 AM raid when 30 authorities burst into Edgar's former home with catch poles and snares to round up the neglected Hounds.

Edgar Afghan Poe dressed as Dracula Edgar Afghan Poe dressed as Dracula Granted he's had it tough, but he's also an ultra-dramatic Afghan, the Sir Laurence Oliviers of the dog world. The males seem to be wimpier- the bigger they are, the more they whine. Edgar reminds me of my late Alan, a majestic European import I adopted from Oyster Bay Shelter on Feb.18, 1992- also the infamous date my vet gave Alan the rectal exam heard around the world.

After preaching pet spay/neuter sermons all these years, I felt like a hypocrite delaying the inevitable. Not wanting Edgar to regress emotionally because of minor surgery and an overnight stay, I put off the Big Snip as long as possible. Finally I made his appointment for Oct. 21. Edgar had no way of knowing what was to come. At least I think he didn't.

My Academy Award winning Afghan cried like a banshee the whole way to the vet. I was ready to gag him. He may have realized he was traveling without his sisters who join him on fun walks in the woods while Mr. E blubbers enroute anyway. This time he stepped up the frequency and volume. Was he psychic?

Actually he was a cooperative, yet demanding patient once through the hospital door. A tech was assigned to stroke Prince Charming as he awoke from surgery. He started "milking" the attention. The receptionists said all Edgar needed was a crown. Everyone fell under his spell, compelled to pet him when they stared into those leading man eyes and heard the tragic moan.

Ah, such contrasts. A male castration is less involved surgically than a female spay. (It's doubtful men will agree with that statement.) Meanwhile, the Babylon Shelter dogs are troopers. Most go out in the morning for their operation, and come back to the kennel that afternoon. No one coddles them. They're usually fine, playing by the next day.

I brought Edgar home that night. We had already decided not sleeping over was best for all. The plan was to discharge him with his catheter; then a quick recheck in the AM to remove it and examine his incision. On second thought, forget the return trip; he'd be too neurotic. We opted for my digital photos of the war wound, if need be.

That evening Edgar still tipsy, sacked out on the couch with me as his pillow and servant. His histrionics resumed the next morning. The weeping; the pathos- get the violins. He refused to leave the sofa, wailing for comfort. I would oblige him. If not, he'd start menacing the stitches. I certainly didn't want him to cause complications.

That night I called my vet and we considered additional pain meds. Then my husband noticed a pattern. Edgar only cried when I was around. If he was with him, Edgar was quietly content. Ignore the canine complainer and he's fine. In fact, defying doctor's orders, Edgar is zooming around the yard right now with his Afghan co-conspirator.

Yup, my doting definitely made Edgar into a bigger basket case. Dog owners give off signals of confidence or worry. Our positive and negative energy transmits right down the leash. The dog was manipulating me. Not surprising. They all do.

Nevertheless, take a peek at Edgar Afghan Poe dressed as Dracula for Halloween. Don't gaze too deeply, or he might hypnotize you under his power too.

For Adoption: Now playing at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon- "The Many Faces of Max" starring "Max" the Pit pup in Cage 2 as himself. Presently about 10 months old, friendly "Max" came into the shelter in July as a stray with a fractured hind leg. Little Shelter provided for his orthopedic surgery but he convalesced at Babylon and is still waiting for someone to take him home. He's shown here incognito as Einstein and a tiger. Check out the shelter's Petfinder site to see more Max disguises.

Female: "Puff" a Norwegian Forest-type kitten in C-8 ; "Moo Moo" in C-3, cat with a cow colors; "Sasha"- blue-eyed Rottie mix Cage 28; black Shepherd Cage 26 .

Male: Siberian Husky Cage 17; poor "Spike" Cage 24; Canaan Dog mix Cage 47.

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