Romy's story was first published in Quiet Laughter,
October 3, 2012
The last weekend of September  I got a call from CARF. "There's a dog at the dump," the woman said. "We've been feeding her for a while, and we think she's ready to be caught and brought to the vet. Can you foster her?"
|Romy, at the dump, the day|
before she was rescued.
"The rescuer will meet you at the vet's Monday morning."
The rescuer called me Sunday evening, a lovely Dutch woman, wife of a Marine officer, unfortunately only stationed here in Curaçao for a few more years. Why can't people like these stay around forever?
When I walked into the vet's waiting room, she was holding a reddish-yellow dog, smaller than I thought, on her lap. Huge eyes, all sweetness. Her legs were stiff from fear, but she let herself be moved over to my lap and we cuddled while we waited. She was so dirty--he-llo, garbage dump--that I got a rash all over my arms and neck. Nothing that a good shower didn't cure, though.
|Romy, her first full day with us,|
boasting new collar and tag
Romy sounded fine to me; maybe a little masculine--I was thinking it might be short for Romeo.
"No," the woman said, "it's for Romy Schneider."
Who? The name meant nothing, but I didn't ask, and Romy it stayed.
|Romy at home, with Sasha|
II and (half of) Rusty in the
So here we go again. Got a full baggie of meds for good ole Romy and brought her home.
|Romy and Rusty, playing|
Now Romy is the diametrical opposite of Sasha II--she looooves to be touched, she can't get enough of it. She doesn't have one dominant molecule in her body, so her defense when faced with a pack of four dogs (ok, three dogs and a mop of white shag) was to lie belly-up and whine for mercy.
It worked. By the next day, Tuesday, she was as much part of the pack as if they'd all grown up together. She and Rusty, my Rottie-Lab (we assume) mix, played at gnawing each other all day long. Panchita, my Alpha, wasn't too excited about the newcomer, and neither was Winter, our bitchiest bitch, but they left Romy alone and she respected their space.
Except when it came to food.
Romy is a mild dog, shy and scared of her own shadow (I hate to think of what made her that way), but she's known hunger. She won't fight anyone for it--she simply doesn't have the strength or the physique--but she cannot stay away from it.
Maybe I should explain how doggie mealtimes work chez moi. We have three, right? Panchita, Rusty, and Winter. Acquired (from the street, all of them) in that order, and thus that's the order we follow for food. I bring out kibble (in the mornings) and canned dogfood (only in the evenings), and serve all their plates. Everyone sits in a circle around me until I'm done, and then I hand them their plates one by one: Panchita, Rusty, and Winter. They don't eat until their plate is on the floor in front of them, they don't even sniff in the direction of the others' plates. And they don't steal food from each other--though sometimes Winter cheats, but as soon as I look in her direction she slinks away with a very guilty look.
The first evening was a nightmare of spilled food and panicked dogs. Sasha had learned fast; all I had to do was take a step in her general direction and she'd back off from any plate. But Romy had no such qualms, and my hand did nothing to deter her. threw herself on the plates--she'd probably never seen so much food in her life--as soon as I turned my back, even while her own was still full. The other dogs are so well-mannered (or well-fed, some would argue) that they backed off in horror and let her have her way with whatever she wanted. Panchita--who moves in highly cultured circles and abhors any breach in etiquette--refused to eat at all.
So the next day I fed Romy earlier, by herself, so that when Pack Mealtime came around she wouldn't be famished and desperate. I did want her to participate in the mealtime ritual, because it's an important socialization moment. And it went much better. Romy still tried to steal from other plates, but I'd gotten better at gauging when she'd make the lunge. She ate much faster than the others, so I made sure her plate stayed full until she didn't want any more (Rusty can always be trusted to eat any leftovers).
Three days later she was actually sitting and waiting for her turn, even at night, when the canned food always adds extra temptation.
This (very badly shot) video was taken the following Monday morning, breakfast. Romy's first-week anniversary of arrival. Please forgive the unsteady hand; feeding five dogs and holding a cellphone isn't the best combination :) Bonus: you can hear me (in Spanish) begging Panchita to eat, and you can see how Romy learned not to steal the others' food.
Romy was with us for a week exactly, almost down to the hour. The day this video was shot CARF had to shuffle some dogs around--someone fostering a mother and her puppies had their neighbors rat them out and the landlord was threatening to evict them (ah, for neighbors like these--may they rot in hell), so those had to be placed somewhere--not an easy job. Bottom line, I delivered Romy to another of CARF's angels and brought Nassau home. Remember Nassau? The older dog with a liver tumor from Sunday's post?
And, being the absolute sweetheart she is, she'll find a wonderful home, too.
[Editorial note, 2014: Romy did, in fact, find a wonderful home--one of those once-in-a-lifetime people that make dogs the centerpiece of their lives. But her journey to that home had a few more bumps... Seven, to be exact. She was pregnant when we rescued her, and in November she gave birth to seven puppies here at our place. More on that, and Romy's happily-ever-after, later.]