I often catch myself thinking about what our dog’s life might have been like before we adopted him: where all he’d been, what sort of abuse he endured. I wonder if his people couldn’t afford to keep him, if turning him loose and driving off seemed like a good solution, or if he just escaped one day and wandered too far. I wonder if he had a little kid who loved him and played with him and rode in the truck with him. Invariably, I wonder what would lead someone to abandon Tayter.
If something upsets him, I really get those thoughts going. When he first came to live with us, he couldn’t bear to be left alone, and wouldn’t eat unless someone was in the room with him. He’s overcome those anxieties but thunderstorms still plague him. In the middle of stormy night, he can be inconsolable. He’ll pace the entire house, searching out that safe spot. If that doesn’t help, he’ll make a frantic leap into our bed, counting on his people to protect him from the raging cacophony that is scaring him to death.
I had no idea that a bunch of corrugated boxes might torment him. I had four or five big moving boxes to load into the back of my stationwagon, and began carrying them one at a time through the house to the back door, down the steps and into the car. As soon as he saw the first box, Tayter was beside himself. He jettisoned himself through the open car door and planted his stout 50 lbs of anxious energy in the front passenger seat, determined not to be left behind.
I felt sick. The storyline unfolded in my mind: his first people had moved away. They packed their house in cardboard boxes and left. I wondered how long my beautiful big orange dog waited for them to come home, how long he stayed at his home thinking they’d come back like they always did, how long he looked for them, how long he went hungry. I wonder if he had desperately chewed his way out of fence, if that’s why his lower front teeth are worn down. I don’t know how long he roamed the county until a park ranger found him by the side of the road, skinny and demoralized, and took him to the local animal shelter. When one of the folks from Carolina Basset Hound Rescue sprung him from jail, Tayter didn’t hesitate to hop right into his car. He knew about going for a ride.
I can’t know his whole story but I think I’ve uncovered a piece of it. And even though I can’t tell him there won’t be any more boxes, I can always tell him I’m coming back. And I always do.