Bianca, a dogo argentino was barely over a year old when she found herself back at the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter for the eighth time. She was an exuberant young gal, trying her best to to be a puppy but she had grown large enough that most people couldn’t figure out how to handle her. She was rescued from the Shelter once again, the very morning she was scheduled to be euthanized.
For six months, she lived the good life with a basset sidekick in North Carolina, and the two of them got along famously but Bianca needed a forever home. An oil rancher in Oklahoma heard about her, felt like he could use another dog and brought her into the fold. She loves the ranching life and revels in the company of about a dozen other dogs (count them!). But the best part is that she gets to ride shot-gun with her adoptive dad while they cruise the 400 acre ranch in his Ford truck, supervising daily maintenance on the eleven oil derricks and the occasional transient bovine .
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.
We brought this boy dog home to live with us. Everything made him nervous. He barked ferociously at his reflection in the sliding door. He couldn’t stand being left alone, even for a minute. After a year of our doting on him, he’s seldom nervous. And a ride in the pick-up truck will calm him right down.
Cheers, sweet Tayter.
Although JUNIOR‘s person is a veterinarian, she had been ambivalent for years about adopting a dog. To avoid having to make a decision, she established what seemed like an unattainable set of criteria for any potential canine family member. The dog had to be an apricot toy poodle puppy, a stray boy-dog who liked to hunt and fish. Unlikely as it seems, this perfect puppy found his way into her life. He was a day old when he and his mother were rescued from a hoarder who was keeping almost 140 dogs in a tractor trailer. The good news was that he and his fellow detainees were rescued, the bonus was that he came from good stock, his parents were show dogs.
Junior is a beauty and although I can’t speak to his prowess in field and stream, he does seem to enjoy his regular hunting and fishing junkets. Some sort of complex family tradition determined his name and despite the caption under his photo, he is not named for Junior Johnson, but for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. While this may seem like a subtle distinction, it is significant to folks in the South. Regardless, Junior would do either one of those drivers proud.
Neglected and abused, both Madonna and Robbie were scared to death of anything new, anything loud, or anything that moved too quickly.
Madonna was a puppy when she was taken in by a Standard Poodle rescue group. Her soon-to-be rescue mom, still grieving the death of her 13 year old Poodle, kept hoping to find another Standard. In a dream, connecting with her beloved first dog somehow encouraged her to keep searching for a Standard Poodle puppy. The next morning, a quick internet search hit upon this little black Standard Poodle. A flurry of phone calls to the rescue group ensured that they would hold her until she could be retrieved later that day. After an all-day car trip, a skittish five month old dog arrived at her new home in the high desert. She has assumed the name, Madonna, and has settled in to a life in which she tolerates a couple of cats, studies on the horses and adores her Mom.
Robbie still had a few patches of fur on his skeletal frame when he was retrieved from near certain death at a kill shelter. His foster mom drove several hours to pick him up, with every intention of getting him healthy enough to be adopted. He gained weight, now has a beautiful shiny coat and looks like the pure Field Spaniel that he is. But all adoption plans have been cancelled. Robbie is a keeper. He’ll stay right where he is, living the good life with two other Field Spaniels and two good people.
He’s still a newcomer here but yesterday he lay down right on the middle cushion of the couch, stretched his long, short-legged self out to his full length, and half-closed his eyes in that dreamy, oh-so-relaxed state. It’s hard to interrupt such comfort, even if you have never allowed dogs on the furniture. Ever.
Beats me why people will go and get a dog. I can’t explain why my husband and I ended up with Dierks, this guy on the couch. Between the two of us, we’ve had one dog or another in our lives for the past 20 years and our last dog, a Basset, had died only three months earlier. Sophie was 18 years old, the love of my life and I wasn’t done crying over her. We weren’t ready for another dog but if asked, we told people we were “thinking about it.” I guess we’d thought about it pretty much because we had decided that when we got another dog, we wanted a puppy, a little girl dog, and one who wouldn’t weigh more than about 40 lbs. And we were pretty sure we didn’t want a Basset. There was no replacing Sophie. (cont’d p.2)