22 November 2007

giving thanks.

we're going to take a little departure from our normal design obsessed posts today, and instead offer a little heartwarming holiday story, followed by a brief public service announcement. tomorrow, back to the frivolous world of decorating, i promise.

this thanksgiving, i have so many things to be thankful for- great family and friends, a beautiful home, the ability to earn a living doing what i love- the list goes on and on. but hands down the thing in my life i am most grateful for are my two happy little furballs, mona and richard. day in and day out, they provide so much affection and amusement, i couldn't be unhappy if i tried. an example: i'm one of those people that wakes up grumpy, and it takes a while for my mood to lighten and the happy maison21 to appear. well, grumpy isn't strong enough a word, my whole life, i've woke up pissed off- ready to bite the head off the first person unfortunate enough to cross my path. well, since mona came around, it's been rather hard to maintain the black cloud of doom every morning. being the good girl that she is, she never wakes me, but on the first signs of my stirring, she goes on high alert- if i yawn and stretch, she starts to quiver with excitement, eager to start her day. then, she comes to the head of the bed, smiling like crazy and showering me with hot, stinky dog breath to complete my wake up process. if i proceed to actually sit up or make signs of getting out of bed, pandemonium ensues as she can't wait to start her day! up and down off the bed about a dozen times- she can't wait to go outside and smell good stuff! she can't wait to get that same old bowl of dry food she gets everyday! of course her enthusiasm wakes her little brother richard the cat, who has no clue what all the excitement is about but thinks it's probably a great time to play (he's 18 months old- he always thinks it's a great time to play) and even more chaos follows. the black storm cloud of my morning mood lifts to partly cloudy with a chance of clearing before i've even left the bedroom.

mona came into my life 8 years ago the weekend after thanksgiving- she was initially supposed to be a purebred french bulldog- not a corgi with a highly suspect bloodline. i had made up my mind to finally get a dog several months earlier, and my heart was set on buying a french bulldog puppy. like pretty much every decision in my life, my choice of dog was based on aesthetics and i thought french bulldogs were the cutest things going. my then roommate was aghast that i would buy a dog and insisted that i go to the pound to rescue one instead, but there was no way i was going to give up on my dream of a cute little frenchie. instead, i made an appointment with a french bulldog breeder while hatching a devious plan to satisfy my roommate and keep peace at home, but still get my way and get my designer dog. my plan was to go to the pound just once to shut him up- i'd report back that there was nothing there but german shepard-rottweiler-pit bull mixes, and since i needed a small dog for our apartment with no backyard, it just wouldn't work out and off to the breeder i'd go, obligation met.

well i put in my one-time-only visit to the pound and you know what? there really was nothing but large breed pitibull mixes, so i wouldn't even have to lie about it! but what i hadn't planned on was that they were all such sweet large pit-bull mixes, so excited to see a human, wagging their tails and pressing their faces to the chain link of the cages to get a little affection. just like that the plan changed, my heart melted, and i canceled my appointment to buy a purebred dog. i was now committed to decidedly non-designer mutt ownership.

i started visiting the l.a. county animal shelters, and the local humane society kennel every weekend. i really did need a smaller dog but this was pre-paris hilton lapdog mania, and there weren't many small dogs available. when they were up for adoption, there would be a waiting list- at one point i was number 13 on the list for a little chihuahua mix! i began to despair of finding a dog until one day at the humane society, i was trying to sweet talk the girl at the front desk into calling me first the next time they got a small dog. it must have worked a little, as she replied that they had smaller one right now, but she didn't think it was available- it was in the cat room as the other dogs were picking on it. the guy in charge didn't want to let me see it, as he said the dog was "unadoptable" but like with the french bulldog, i was going to figure out a way! eventually the nice girl volunteer and i wore him down, and he brought out a filthy little medium-sized dog, who cowered against the wall, running away in a panic if i even made the slightest move towards her. i thought maybe he was right and i wouldn't be able to adopt her after all, but just then a new visitor opened the door to the waiting room, and in her blind panic, she ran over to shelter against me, and when she realized where she was, proceeded to pee all over my shoes . well, it was love at first pee, and we've been inseparable ever since.

over the years, mona has blossomed from a dog who wouldn't let anyone near her, and who perpetually wore an expression of terror on her face, into a dog who does nothing but smile and who thinks that everyone was put on this planet for one purpose- to pet her and praise her. there is no nice way to put it- she's turned into an attention whore in the worst way, and i love her even more because of it. when i think that this sweet little girl was given up by her first owner and was considered to be "unadoptable" it literally brings tears to my eyes but it also makes me forever grateful that she entered my life that fateful post-thanksgiving weekend 8 years ago. thanksgiving really has a special meaning for me now.

so this year, if anyone out there reading this post is thinking about becoming a pet-parent, i urge you to give thanks for the abundance in your life and share it with a pet from a shelter or rescue group. take a look around and though you won't see the wagging tails in action like i did at the pound, you won't be able to resist the cute little faces staring out at you from your computer screen. even if you can't adopt a pet, or aren't ready yet, perhaps you could think about donating to an animal rescue group. i think that rescuers have received a bad rap lately because of the whole ellen debacle, and that's not fair- they really are a selfless group who devote huge amounts of their time and money to rescue animals in need, so they could really use some extra donations right now.

lest anyone think i'm ignoring mona's little brother, richard the cat, here's his story: one hot, sunny los angeles sunday, my former neighbor and i decided to go out for a refreshing beverage in west hollywood. after parking, we cut through an alley only to spot a little gray ball of fluff, followed by two more. instead of an afternoon spent ogling boys, we instead spent it bathing and flea combing kittens to rid them of the large amount of fleas infesting their tiny bodies- not quite as festive, but far more rewarding. richard's two sisters were adopted almost immediately but no one seemed interested in a boy cat, so he ended up completely winning the hearts of both mona and myself and was soon a permanent member of the family. he's grown from a tiny ball of fluff to a 15 pound behemoth of fluff, equally adept at making us laugh and making us cry when he destroys something we love (but we wouldn't have it any other way- fabric can be replaced, but the love he gives us is priceless). when he and mona wrestle and play, it's a sight both heartwarming and horrifying- mona caught in a headlock, and richard mock-ferociously gnawing on her ears, but all the while, mona is smiling and wagging her nubbin at a fever pitch, having the time of her life. at the end of the day, with richard on one side of me purring like a diesel engine, and mona sighing in delight during a never-ending pet session on the other, i am truly contented.

god, i love them so, and am so very grateful to have them in my life. now go to petfinder, already! and have a happy thanksgiving!


christian, aka maison21


{this is glamorous} said...

Christian, I nearly cried when I read this post--I really liked both stories, by Mona's was heartwrenchingly beautiful, and judging by her constant smile in all the photos, you've made all the difference in her life.

SwankLighting said...

What a couple of cuties. Thank God there are people out there who adopt these love bundles. Shortly after moving to Texas we adopted the most beautiful Pit Bull...PEABO. He's so beautiful we almost named him Brad Pit. And he's as gentle and lovable as a bunny rabbit.
Happy Holidays
Ed at SwankLighting

maison21 said...

thanks glamorous- it's a mutual thing with mona- she's made all the difference in my life too!

and ed, peabo sounds adorable (just like brad). congrats to you!

kate(pm) said...

very lovely & touching stories. I am glad all three of you found each other. :)
thank you for sharing.

Jane Flanagan said...

Your post couldn't have been timed better: I'm thinking of getting a dog and am also thinking of going through a breeder (because of the same pitbull / rottweiler at the pound dilemma.) I haven't made any fast decisions here, but your peseverance is a definite lesson. I'm so happy you found love with both your animals and they have such an amazing owner!

maison21 said...

hi jane-

i hope that you visit before you go to a breeder. there are so many different doggies available that all desperately need homes- small, big, young, old- you are bound to find somebody to steal your heart!

but i'm not a pet rescue nazi- if you go to a breeder, that's a decision that right for you. no matter what, from a breeder or a rescue, you will end up with a loving companion that will fill your days with joy.

good luck, and send a picture of your new friend when your search is over!

Ashley said...

What a great story and a great pet! We adopted our dog, Oliver, from and I highly recommend it. That was a funny story though...we entered our zip code and "Airedale Terrier" as that was the breed I was most interested in. A picture of a Dalmatian/Airedale mix popped on our computer screen and it was love at first sight. Only then did we realize that the dog was seven hours away! No matter, I was in love. We were headed seven hours to PA that very next Saturday. Thanks for the story. Happy Holidays!

maison21 said...

oliver is a very lucky guy, ashley! 7 hours, that's quite a commitment to a doggie you hadn't even met!

Habitually Chic said...

What a great story! I just babysat my friends cat for a week and caring for an animal is one of the best things you can do in life. And it's proven to be good for you too! What could be better than a cute little waging tail and a purr waiting for you when you get home!

Fairfax said...

I got my current yellow lab from petfinders, through which the city animal shelter in baltimore operates. he's a yellow lab, who wasn't lab enough for lab rescue. he was named gunner, but since i live in an "emerging" neighbourhood, it wasn't too smart to run after him yelling his name. he's now connor and is funny, strange and sweet as pie.

My last lab was left behind when his family moved... never been out of his back yard, never been walked, never been on a leash. He was 13 when I had to put him to sleep... even harder than when my dad died.

maison21 said...

congrats on connor, fairfax, and my deepest sympathies on the passing of your last pet. that is something i can't even bear to contemplate- i even lied about mona's age for years, in the hope that if i said she was younger, she really would be younger. now i just accept the cold, hard facts- she is 10 or 11, and will live to be at least 25 :)

Gia said...

Mona May!! She is the most beautiful lady!! Her story is so great!! And Richard is yummy!! So happy that they have you as their dad!