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We are furmily! pt 2

Julian

My 5 year old Standard Poodle. If you aren’t a poodle fan, after meeting Julian, you probably will be. This dog changed my career, he boosted my confidence, and he certainly keeps me on my toes.
Julian was a client’s dog who could no longer keep him. I took him on around one year old. He became my creative muse. He has been colored like candy corn for Halloween, shaved into Christmas canes, sported a mohawk, a “fro” and even a goatee! There are just endless possible haircuts when it comes to a poodle! His stomach issues however are another story. After many tests, I discovered Julian has a motility issue with digestion. So, his royal highness requires special dehydrated food, that resembles baby mush (once water is added), for his stomach to digest it properly. He’s a character. I have many stories to share about him! Like the time he ran after a herd of deer or the time he ate some female sanitary items thus I thought he had puked up a dead mouse at 3am.

Evie

Evie, the Australian Shepherd is a rescue. My friends took her after she had been bred excessively and was living in vile conditions in a barn. When they took her in, they quickly found out that she literally didn’t know how to “dog”. Her stomach dragged along the floor, from being bred back-to-back for money. Her coat was a disaster and she didn’t know how to bark, walk on a leash or even want to snuggle. She hid under the bed night and day. Scared of life! With some training, positive reinforcement, lots of carpet cleanups and some patience, she started barking 11 months ago and has not stopped since. Evie wants to snuggle so much now, that “being inside you” is not close enough. Personal space is not her strong suit! Nearly 6 years in, she is at about 85% dog capacity.

Becky J

My little “butt monkey”… This name has an interesting explanation. To me, she resembles a Macaque monkey. You know the ones that sit in the hot springs in Japan? Yeah that’s her. The “Butt” portion of her name (in person) is pretty obvious. She has a lot of junk in her trunk…. Her butt hole is pretty prominent. However, it goes a lot deeper than that…. Pretty sure this dog passes gas like a human. Every time she jumps on to the couch or the bed, she toots. But then turns her head and looks at me, as if to say “Was that you or me?”. She’s funny. I am pretty certain she is on the spectrum. She is very sensitive to lotion smells, lights and sensations. There is not a bad bone in her body but she is often over stimulated by different sensations that I am pretty sure she would give the “Good doctor” a run for his money!

Perseus

Is my newest edition. He was found on the side of the road crawling out of some bushes. When I found him he was bow legged, full of worms and could fit in the palm of my hand. I bottle fed him for a few days and got him strong again! I almost did not keep him but he became my little buddy. He follows me around, flops over my shoulder when I work on the computer and he panics when he doesn’t know where I am! He loves snuggling up to Becky J (until she farts) and he enjoys stealing my pens and receipts during admin or blogging days. When most people said “Oh my goodness – not another animal!” I just felt he completed the home and balanced the energy in the house! I mean c’mon, what is a red headed lady without a red cat? It was meant to be!

The flock

The Ducks: John Cryer, Jemima Puddle duck and Daphne and the hens: Matilda, Michelle, Lucy, Sandy and Penelope. These guys have been more of a hobby than anything. I was hoping that I could sell their eggs in order to pay for their supplies. Unfortunately, because I spoil them and take them to the vet the second I see that something is wrong with them, I think I am currently in negative egg-quity! I have realized that I am not a farmer. I love my critters far too much!

Merch for Millie!

Some of you have seen that I launched a small merchandise store today! My main plan for the merch store is to help support my family of critters but also help me give back to those in need.

Millie

Remember the charity that I mentioned in my first article? South Charlotte Dog rescue? I support the work they do! South Charlotte Dog Rescue (SCDR) is a non-profit, no-kill, foster only, dog rescue organization serving the South Charlotte, NC area. SCDR has observed a great need in our community to provide care and love for the unwanted, homeless, neglected and abused animals we so often see. They are dedicated to rescuing dogs left homeless for whatever reason.

Their mission is to rescue & rehabilitate these precious animals & then place the right dog, in the right home, at the right time through adoption! They place dogs in loving, responsible, committed, permanent homes, following a comprehensive adoption process which includes taking considerable care in finding good matches and educating prospective adopters about the responsibilities and costs of bringing a dog into their homes and lives. Without the help of the public and volunteers they could not do what they do! Becky J was rescued by SCDR and I helped foster other puppies from her litter. Without them I would not have my precious “Butt monkey”!

Muddy Millie

Last Saturday I finally got to meet Millie! A 5 and half month Golden retriever who was surrendered as her previous owner/breeder noticed there was something wrong with her. Millie has a little problem with her plumbing. O.k it’s a pretty big problem. She has zero control over her bladder. She was born with an ectopic urethra. Unfortunately, not only is this surgery very expensive, but many surgeons in the area will not operate on her as it is a very complicated surgery. She is awaiting a surgery date from NC state but not only do we need to raise the funds to cover her consultation and surgery (meanwhile more medical cases flood in around the holidays) but her expenses keep racking up. The consultation is $2000-3000 alone. This little lady is just the SWEETEST! She was the most mellow and calm Golden I think I have ever met! Until she is fixed she cannot be re-homed.

Anyway, with the launch of my merch shop this week, I wanted to let you all know that between now and November 28th I will be donating 20% of the proceeds to Millie’s medical fund through SCDR. So please if you can, grab a mug, a hoodie or even a t-shirt! Not only will you be supporting my blog and my family of furries and featheries , but you will be helping cover Millie’s surgery and medical costs!

I look forward to updating you on how much we have raised on November 29th!!!!

“We are Furmily, I got all the critters with me!”

Right to left: Julian, Becky J and Evie

Some of the inspiration behind my stories, relies heavily on my collection of critters.

Three dogs, a kitten, 3 ducks and 5 chickens, all share my home and hard earned money.

Some days I wake up and think to myself – it would be so nice to not wake up to a 43lb Great Pyrenees chow chow mix, jumping on my chest like she is hunting rodents in the snow like an artic fox. I open my eyes to her big floppy face glancing over me (in very close proximity) and realize that I am needed, I am wanted and my life has a purpose! That purpose may be very monotonous and consist mainly of feeding, vacuuming, picking up poop and attending vet appointments but it’s a purpose in its own right! The unconditional love I get from “most” of them (not so much the chickens) is priceless.

Matilda

It was at a young age that I discovered a love for animals. In fact, my favorite hymn as a child was “All creatures great and small”. O.k, I’ll admit I think that maybe the only hymn I know or remember but none the less, I loved them no matter how great or how small they may be!

I remember Sunday evenings consisted of one of Mum’s Sandwich buffets and being called down to watch David Attenborough’s wildlife programs on BBC1. That was often closely followed by the “Antiques roadshow” but I often made an escape from the living room once I heard the introductory music! BORING! Although now I find myself wandering around antique shops looking for interesting items that smell of my Grandparents closet.

Perseus

I remember being fascinated by the vast array of species, colors (there goes that spell check again, telling me to remove the “U” from “colour”) sounds and habitats of the animals. Needless to say it was my passion! My Grandad would often take me to London for the day on the train to visit the museum of Natural History. There I would wander through Darwin’s collections of creatures and insects and notations. As a child this was fascinating to me!

I don’t think I have ever experienced a time without owning a pet. I am sure many of you can agree that the house is too quiet without the pitter patter of feet running down the hallway, or the infamous sound of someone rustling in a cupboard they shouldn’t be! They definitely keep you on your toes!

The three Ladies

So as I settle into the log cabin, (where most people would be saving up for a cruise or planning a family) I find myself building a home and a “furmily” of misfits and missed messes!

I’d like to introduce you to the pack this week and give you a little insight into their background as I am sure I will have many stories about them over the coming months!

Oh and I also I have a special fun announcement coming soon!

“I don’t come from a land down under.”

     I was contemplating what my Friday blog should be about. I could talk all day about dogs, ducks, chickens and the fact that I believe that mixing fruit with peanut butter is a complete abomination, but as I sit here listening to good ol’ Nina Simone, (sipping on a very generous pear martini) I thought I’d talk about the elephant in the room….

The fact that I am British and I do have a British accent. Or at least I did.

Jazz and blues music always seems to get my creative juices flowing or maybe it’s the martini, who knows?

 The last seven years in America has been a whirlwind. It’s taken a long time to get used to the lifestyle over here. Driving on the other side of the road. I can deposit money in a drive thru ( we don’t have drive thru banks in the U.K) The fact you cannot buy one portion of vegetables, it’s always a family pack that goes all gooey after 24 hours in the refrigerator. Plasters are called band aids and water is called “wah-derr”.

When I first arrived in America, my accent was very thick and “proper”. Fresh off the boat! I felt like a celebrity talking to everyone that I encountered. I’d often get asked the same questions:

“When did you move here?”

“What made you move here?”

“Is London still the capital?”  … yes….. someone also asked me “London, that’s part of the U.K right? Next to Russia…” I’ll be honest, she was so sure of herself that I didn’t have the heart to correct her. I’ll let her have that one.

As time went on, the novelty of sounding different began to wear off. I found myself needing to allow  30-45 minutes extra just when getting groceries. I knew the second I was asked for my VIC number or if I “found everything I needed to today”, it was game over. I would usually be hit with the comment: “Oh my god I love your accent! Is it real?” or “are you Irish?”……. in fact, let me write you a list of the most commonly asked questions or comments us brits get:

  1. Oh my god. I love your accent, I could listen to you talk all day.
  2. Are you Irish or Australian?
  3. Can you please say “Ello Guvnah” for me? I want to send it to my boyfriend.
  4. Oh my gosh- you are British?
  5. Do you still drive on the wrong side of the road here? – (LIKE WHAT!!!!!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? DO YOU THINK I’D BE STANDING HERE?)
  6. Have you ever met the Queen? (Yeah every Sunday for brunch and croquet)
  7. What do you think about Harry and Megan?
  8. Is it true they don’t have a President in the U.K?
  9. I’d love to go to London one day, I always watch British TV shows, have you seen Faulty Towers?
  10.  __________________________________________*awkward silence as they don’t understand a single word I’m saying.

Oooh I actually thought of the best one, that actually leaves me quite offended. “You sound so funny!” *Stares back at cashier wide eyed*

Driving down the A23 to Brighton U.K

All I’m saying is, if you are British, you get it. If you are not, just remember that when you meet an Englishman, a Scottish man or Irishman (we probably won’t be walking into a bar together – another common mistake…) try to come up with something unique to ask us. That’s if you REALLY have to comment about our accent at all. If in doubt, talk about the weather. But in all seriousness, remember you sound weird as hell to us too. How did that beautiful, eloquent and poetic language turn in to:

American                             English

“Wah-der”                        “water” pronounced “War-ter”

“Dawg”                               “Dog” pronounced “Dog”

“Bahl”                                  “Ball” pronounced “Bawl”

And don’t even get me started on the fact “y’all” dropped letters from words!

Colour became color. Grey became gray.  Behaviour became behavior. Like what is the issue with the letter “u”?   you also have a problem with the letter “S”, you just had to swap it for a “Z”. For ex. Emphasize used to be emphasise. No wonder half of my friends on Facebook think I’m dyslexic. Microsoft word spell check just crashes when I start writing a letter. it probably thinks “Holy hell there is no helping this woman!”. It actually just dawned on me that maybe why my news feed often advertises “Learn English with Duo Lingo” ads.

So not only do I not know how to communicate in English anymore, but I find myself constantly and unconsciously changing my accent when I go into stores, so that I can be understood better, or maybe so that no one asks me anything personal. I didn’t realise (ooops I meant realize) how much my accent has actually changed. I have picked up on many of the southern inflections, so much so, when I phone home, my friends and family say I have an Australian twang now.

I guess that explains question no.2 (see above hahaha).

“Life Finds A Way.” – “Jeff Goldplume” Pt 2

“Episode: The one where the chicken crossed the road”

“Jeff Goldplume”

Welcome back to the story of Jeff Goldplume. The significance of this name will become apparent very shortly. I need to set the scene for this one…..

After discovering that I had 15 VERY vocal Roosters on my property, I needed to act quickly to re home them! I posted them on local Facebook sites and contacted friends with farms. “How hard must it be to re home free fluffy chickens?” I said to myself. Weeks went by and not single bite. Things started to become serious. I began googling how to humanely cull chickens. After watching at least half a dozen, very detailed, tutorials on YouTube, I was now pretty certain that there was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to sacrifice them.

I had a few roosters that stood out in the crowd:

“Rodolfo” was a very tall and friendly male, “Jeff Goldplume” who was the most aggressive but pretty Rooster. Named after Jeff Goldblum because he had bright golden flecks through his plumage. “Speckles”, and “Freddie” who was a black frizzle silkie, named after Freddie Mercury as he looked like he was electrocuted.

Aside from those named above, I could barely tell the difference between the rest of them. Thankfully I managed to take 10 of the boys to a local waterfowl rescue, who kindly took them! But I still had 5 left stranded behind. I kept the prettiest boys in the hope that I would be more successful in finding homes for them.

Remember “Barb” who i mentioned previously? Well Barb adopted “Rodolfo”! He moved in with some bigger ladies and a Duck. “Speckles” moved in to a client’s house and had an entire harem of new wives!

Ok, so now I am down to just 3 Roosters:
“Freddie”, “Chicken with no name” and the notorious “Jeff bloody Goldplume”.
Jeff and I had a love hate relationship. Every time that I would go into the coop, he’d charge at me! I had to learn how to stand up to an 8 inch tall chicken. My friends would laugh as I argued with Jeff every day. He was just a stubborn ***hole! In the middle of summer I couldn’t go in there with out my wellington boots on because I am pretty sure he would sever my toes.

Out of the blue a friend contacted me on social media, (we’ll call him “Ron”) and said he knew someone that might take the remaining roosters! He reassured me that if she was unable to, he would cull them and cook them. I was so relieved! Ok- i’ll admit, also a bit said that they may meet a bloody end but that’s kind of part of real farming I told myself. I didn’t want to start getting fertilized eggs and if they didn’t go in the next week, that was likely to happen. So Ron and another friend of mine, (let’s call him Todd) came along one afternoon with a crate and collected the three little Roosters to meet their fate.

Ron told me that the lady didn’t get back to him so he and Todd were going to do the “man thing” and cook them. Ron also informed me that he grew up on a farm so it really wouldn’t be a big deal, he had done it 100 times! So with that being said, they packed them into the crate and off they drove. I had finally re homed all 15 roosters (remember that). No more roosters!!!!

I went about my business, fed my remaining ladies for the next few days in blissful silence. Then one sunny afternoon I started receiving messages on my phone. One after another. Each one was the same screen shot titled “Is this your chicken?”…….

I opened up the screen shot and who else could it be, posted directly from the Animal control page, but Jeff bloody Goldplume!!!!!!!!!!

“Bex have you lost one of your chickens?” or “Do you want another chicken?” they all asked. Issue was Jeff was so unique looking there was absolutely no denying that was my chicken! It was literally like a mug shot. My instant reaction ….. “No, not my chicken!!!!” …. I had to slap myself…. “Bex!!!! What are you saying – that’s Jeff!? I thought to myself, feeling so guilty. Then it dawned on me, Jeff was supposed to be dead, cooked, slathered in barbecue sauce or on a skewer along side a pepper and couple of zucchini slices.

I immediately picked up the phone and text “Todd”…..

‘I’m going to kill you!!!!!!!!”

Text to “Todd”

It took a little while to get a reply, but finally Todd called me and after a few seconds of silence calmly said “Why?”.

“Because my bloody chicken is currently impounded at the local animal control and they are trying to find his owner!!!”
Todd erupted into laughter. I asked him “What happened? I thought you were going to kill him?!”

Well I think what happened is that Ron and Todd “chickened” out…..

Turns out Jeff Goldplume was too much for them to handle and made a quick getaway! Not sure where he was trying to get to, as he was about 9 miles away, but a member of the public saw him crossing the road heading back towards home!

Knowing that he was probably lost. They kindly dropped him to the local animal control and they began looking for his owners ….
( now named “Ron and Todd” ).

Lesson learnt: Never trust a guy who says he grew up on a farm.

“Life Finds A Way.” – “Jeff Goldplume”

In the beginning of 2020, my local area had not really seen many outbreaks of the virus. So as things were beginning to close down, I decided it would be a great time to begin raising chickens! As you get to know me, you’ll come to understand I undertake many new hobbies (like soap making, candle making, paint pouring, vegetable growing, keyboard playing – to name just a few) but seem to rely heavily on Google search and a friend named ‘Barb”. Actually wait, let me tell you about “Barb”! She is this wonderful, kind lady, that I met through “South Charlotte Dog Rescue” (Shout out to those guys! Who do an awesome job! Remember that name because they will be very important as I.A.H.M.L grows!). So getting back to the one and only “Barb”, she rehabilitates baby wildlife in her home! She also owns chickens and ducks and seems to know everything about animals in general! I thought I was a whizz when it came to animals, but I am not a touch on this lady!
So let me tell you about raising chickens. In essence, it is a very rewarding experience, once you get through the two months of stench because unless you have a barn you are stuck with them living inside, to escape the freezing cold! Young chicks cannot go out into the elements until they have their plumage!
Choosing your size and breed is essential! Each chicken is like a different Pokemon card. Some lay lots of eggs, some lay very few, some are aggressive and some lay colorful eggs! You can choose from large breeds like Rhode island reds and Brahmas to the smaller, bantam weight chicken breeds. Now, me being the dog groomer that I am, I had my heart set on Silkie bantams. One of the smallest and probably most “unchicken-chicken” you could go for. So after scrolling through Facebook and joining every Chicken group in the area, I found a girl selling them in Monroe, the next town over and arranged to go pick them up the day they hatched.
What I didn’t realize, is that it is impossible to identify the gender of Silkies as chicks. Unlike their “Real chicken” cousins! So I researched ratio of males to females and Google search informed me that usually it’s about a 60:40 ratio. So I purchased 21 chicks from this sweet country girl in the hope i’d get about 12 pullets (females). I brought the little fluff nuggets home and got to work immediately with setting up their indoor enclosure!

Well the first week was a breeze. I changed their water twice a day, gave them supplements and refilled their food every few days. After day 7, it was like something out of the Gremlins. These things started to grow, squawk, scream and poop on literally everything! All of a sudden I had 21 mini dinosaurs in desperate need of a large enclosure!
I had already set up a budget of $100.00 to build my outdoor coop. I had a friend donate an old deck that he ripped out on a job. Friends gave me chicken wire and random pieces of wood that they had laying around. This was community up-cycling at it’s best! However, it was not enough. In the freezing cold month of February I set to work on that coop but everyday I needed something else. More screws or another piece of 2×4. Before I knew it, my $100 coop budget had hit four figures and by this time, the chicks were busting at the seams to get out!

After days of painstakingly attaching cage wire and predator proofing the enclosure, the chicks finally moved in! They couldn’t believe it! An even bigger space to poop all over! *face palm* I even planted nice herbs and plants in there for them, as recommended by of course, Google search. Well within a day those plants looked like the aftermath of a forest fire. GONE! But, they were out and ready to be chickens and start laying me some breakfast! Or so I thought!

Weeks go by, feeding has become a daily chore. They are drinking about 6 times their body weight in water a day! Everyday, I observed them for signs of “Roosterhood”. The young roosters develop a tuft on their head, where as the pullets kind of keep that Jackson 5 style Afro. They were all developing at different times so I couldn’t really tell them apart to be sure. I enjoyed spending time with them, I’d sit in the coop after work and hang with my flock.

One chicken in particular, had become very sweet and needy. Every day she would greet me and want to be held. I thought to myself “This is awesome!”. At that point she was the only one that I was certain was a female. I named her “Daisy Mae” and you can see her perched on my shoulder below!

During my extensive research, I found out that at around 4-5 months old I should definitely know who’s a Roo and who’s not. As I stared at my flock of 21 fluffy dinosaurs I couldn’t help but think something was wrong. Every day I walked out to feed them, another chicken would start screaming at the top of its lungs and then all of a sudden the ball dropped. Just like a pubescent boy in mid sentence and his voice breaks, everyday i’d walk out and another one started crowing. At one point six or seven were screaming together trying to out sing one another. I couldn’t pin point who was making the noise. It was like the worst night out at a karaoke party you’ve ever experienced! Imagine 15 drunk guys screaming down the mic to Back street boys at 2am, that doesn’t come close to how bad it sounded!!!

At this point I was beginning to stress. My chicken permit would not allow me to keep roosters because I live inside city limits and at the rate I was going, I was about to had an entire Boy Scouts group of them!

Weeks went by and after a head count, out of 21 cute little fluffy chicks, I ended up with 6 hens. I don’t know about you but that’s not a 60:40 Pullet ratio! Lesson learned, don’t always believe what you read on the internet!!

Regardless of how many horny teenage Roosters I had screaming outside in my back yard. None of them could stay! So the sad task of re-homing began. Have you ever tried rehoming a rooster? Well let me tell you: no matter how egg-sperienced you are, it’s difficult. In fact, almost impossible. No body wants them! My chicken journey was far from over.

Please join me on Tuesday to find out what is in store in part 2 of the “Jeff Goldplume Saga”!

The notorious “Jeff Goldplume”

Welcome to It’s A Hard Mutt Life.com!

I’m so glad you stopped by to visit my page! I created this site with the sole intention of sharing everything mutt, everything British and everything Bex! “Bex? Who or what is Bex?!” you say. Well, i’m Bex and every Tuesday and Friday I dedicate to letting you dive a little more into my wild life. A British born, green card holder, business owner, dog groomer, “pet expert” karaoke super star, living the “American dream” in the south with far too many comical and extraordinary stories going to waste at my local Irish pub.

If you like dogs, nature, TRUE supernatural experiences (Ancient Astronaut theorists say yes!!!!) , travel, international relocation or just plain hilarious stories that you would not believe, you have come to the right place! I hope through this blog, you will come to know me a little better and maybe my stories, recommendations and my journey will make you smile, inspire you or maybe just help you fall asleep quicker at night! Who knows? I guess we’ll find out!

In the wilderness

About me:

I was born in 1989 to a typical working class family in the southern suburbs of London, England. I spent the first 24 years of my life wandering the streets of London, visiting museums, becoming enthralled in the history and natural world, enjoying the theater and nightlife that that mysterious city had to offer but do you know what the best thing about growing up in London is? Public transport! I didn’t drive a car until I was twenty one years old. Now, I did at one point own a Piaggo 125cc City fly scooter, which at the time I thought I was the coolest red head on wheels, however, with access to ample trains, buses, trams and coach connections around the country, you could get just about anywhere! Those trains sent me to so many amazing places. I cannot wait to share them with you! Maybe I will help give you some unique travel destination ideas for the next time you want to visit the British Isles.


Growing up in the U.K as a red head, (and a very bright red head at that) my school memories aren’t the most pleasant as I was often bullied (more stories to tell later). It was during my school years that I realized I had no patience for humans. I began forming a very harmonious relationship with animals but one animal in particular- dogs! My whole life since, has been surrounded by dogs. After all they are mans best friend for a reason! With my bias towards animals, I decided to go into the dog grooming industry so that I could have an outlet for my love and appreciation of dogs. I also wanted to be able to have some creative freedom and an outlet. I did not realize how much I would learn about dogs, pet care, relationships, love, life and nurture from that one career decision. It opened up so many avenues for me. I intend on sharing so many of those tips, experiences and adventures with you!

I am sure you want to ask the question everyone asks me at our first meeting? “What brought you to America?”. Well let’s just say a very young and naive marriage, that did not go very well! But, if there is anything that those school years truly taught me, it would be perseverance and resilience! There is always a silver lining to every difficult endeavor and always a light at the end of every tunnel, no matter how long they may seem! So here I am, 5 years into owning my own Dog grooming and pet care business, living in a log cabin on 2.5 acres, in the middle of a quaint southern town named “Waxhaw”. Here I am surrounded by woods, wild animals, ducks, chickens, dogs and a ghost named “Emily”(Definite more stories about her later!) .

I look forward to sharing with you, but also cannot wait to invite you, first class as a passenger on my journey and all the chaos and fun that goes along with it. So buckle up, relax and sit back and enjoy the inflight entertainment!


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