What My Bad Dog Taught Me

Working in animal rescue of any sort will teach you plenty of valuable life lessons… chief among them being: don’t ever think you will cease to be surprised. This plays out in many different scenarios. You will always be shocked at the atrocities of man – I don’t care how many abuse victims you see each day, it will still hurt just as much each new time as the first. Think you’re getting a nice break from rescue for a day or two? Nope, surprise! Something needs you and that something is more important than your relaxation. And, we’ve all seen it – that dog that you thought was just any old dog, not the least bit special. Well, you were wrong again.

I’ve been staring at this computer screen for at least fifteen minutes, not the least bit sure how to start what I need to say. In truth, I’ve been mulling the words over in my head for months now, knowing full well that I have to write something. I have to, not just because the words need to be said, but because I need to face the truth that exists behind them. Grief is a monster of an emotion. It stays so long. Longer than joy, longer than surprise or fear. It would even seem that it remains longer than the feeling of love that it spawns from, but of course that is not true, because if the love wasn’t there then the grief would not be either. Grief is just so dark and looming, it shocks the senses and leaves you raw in a way that no other emotion ever could. The kicker, though, is that the existence of grief is only because of love, and so we can never even fully turn away from grief because to do so would be to push out the love we felt for what we’re grieving for.

Is there a solution, then? Can we beat the feeling of grief, or do we just have to let it run its course and hope it does not linger too long? I’m honestly not sure, but I know my personality is such that I cannot let something like it best me. Also, I cannot let something as dark, hollow, and consuming as grief mar the beauty of what I loved so much to start. I will never conquer grief, but I can even the playing field.

I’ve mentioned Kara in passing throughout this blog – in affectionate detail when introducing her and her sisters, as well as other mini-rants about dog rescue and the hurdles we face. Kara was a foster failure from Boykin Spaniel Rescue – she came to me in terrible shape, and she was only supposed to stay a maximum of 48 hours. Well, that was the first of many lessons that Kara taught me: don’t ever think you’re in control of a situation. Those 48 hours turned into two weeks so she could whelp with an experienced foster home, then eight weeks until the puppies could be weaned and adopted out, then two more months for heartworm treatment, until finally I faced the music that everyone else had already been hearing and admitted to myself that Kara was never leaving. I loved that little dog, and she loved me, and quite frankly I couldn’t think of any other adopter who could handle her.

All of our dogs teach us lessons, if we take the time to listen. Kara’s entire existence was about teaching these lessons, though. I could never list them all, but these are my favorites…

  1. Humor exists in everything

This was a forced lesson, for sure. While Kara did not exactly understand the humor she required of me, I definitely understood that if I didn’t start seeing the humor in her actions, I would lose my mind. Or jump off a bridge. Or both.

How many other dog owners can say they’ve had to “burp” their dogs? Kara was the type of dog who firmly believed in the mantra of giving everything 110% or nothing at all. She loved, more than anything else, to retrieve her bumpers from the water – somehow, though, she always managed to inhale so much air and water while doing so that she turned her compact little frame into a balloon on four legs. This would result in quite a bit of discomfort for her (not to mention danger, when her balloon would shift mid-swim and suddenly her butt was in the air like a damn duck), which in turn meant that someone had to hold her down and gently squeeze the air out of her body. Yes, it is exactly what you think – we held her down and squeezed her abdomen until she farted all her excess gas out. I can’t make this shit up.

524576_10151207072732467_563382408_n

Kara would insist on playing fetch in the car. She would pile so many pinecones in front of you to throw for her that you could start a pine plantation. The last day I ever took her to the office, she launched herself from my chair to my computer desk, knocking phone, laptop, keyboard, mouse, and coffee cup to the ground – while my boss was standing in front of me. Despite all the trouble that little brown dog caused, you still couldn’t look at her silly, excited face without laughing. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine they say.

  1. Don’t let mean folks get you down (but do get your revenge)

Kara had a really shitty life before she was picked up off the interstate in BFE South Carolina. It’s always hard to see dogs that have spent years being abused and neglected, but sometimes I think it’s even harder to see young dogs in such awful shape, because, shit, how do you let your dog get that sick, that fast? As mad as it made me, though, Kara never cared. She never held the transgressions of her original owner/breeder against anyone she met after.

Kara greeted everyone she met with a smile and a face-washing (or a full-on second-base makeout session if you let her). She loved all living things, two- and four-legged. The worst reaction you would ever get out of her was an absolutely pathetic look of sorrow when you told her no. Well, that, and her classic revenge technique: pee on it. Nope, Kara wouldn’t hold grudges or let frustrated humans or grumpy dogs get her down – but you better believe she would look you in the eye, twist one leg out, and piss all over wherever she was sitting when you told her to quit what she was doing. I guess we all have our tactics.

  1. Don’t be in a rush to grow up

When I got Kara, we guessed her age to be around a year and a half – still a puppy by Boykin standards, for sure. She was sick and skinny, and obviously pregnant. The last thing that little brown dog needed was to go through whelping and rearing a litter of puppies, but she was pretty far along so we decided to go through with it.

Kara was a terrible mother. I mean, she did her job, but she mothered her puppies like one would expect a fifteen-year-old highschooler to – she did the bare minimum, and loved her babies, but all she really wanted to do was go to the skate rink with her friends. She hated to be locked away in the spare room with her puppies, and more than once she jumped the baby gate and carried a puppy out to me in the den to play fetch (yes, with the puppy…) One day, she decided she didn’t think her whelping box was comfortable enough, so she carried every single one of her puppies to the den and snuggled up with them all on the couch. I will give her credit for at least opting to bring them along, while not exactly appropriate.

539445_10151035933647467_1617713917_n

While Kara’s life was much shorter than it should have been, she never once stopped acting like a puppy. She was in no hurry to grow up, and instead she made every effort to do what she loved and enjoy her life to the fullest. As I find myself constantly caught up in the whirlwind of work, school, family, and planning, I often forget to enjoy the moments I have now, young and healthy.

  1. Never, ever stop

Much to my occasional dismay, Kara was the epitome of an energizer bunny – she just kept going, and going, and going… Combine sporting breed energy and spaniel OCD, and you have the perfect recipe for a four-legged perpetual motion machine. A sleeping Kara was a precious thing, a treasure that seemed so rare that you would make painstaking efforts to avoid disturbing.

965705_10151446635337467_1258373130_o

While Kara would rest, she never, ever stopped. She would never turn down a ball toss, or shy away from a run or car ride. It didn’t matter how cold the water was, or how dark the forest, she always plunged right in. And, in the very end, it didn’t matter that she was dying – she still refused to stop. Even the vet shook his head and said he never would have thought such an energetic, happy dog was so sick. Maybe if she had slowed down, we would have realized and caught it earlier. But that was not Kara, and she stayed true to herself until her last moments.

It has been almost a year since Kara died, and it’s still as painful now as it was then. Losing her drained me of so much energy that it really did take a year to put my heart into words enough to come to terms with what happened. These words won’t bring her back or make the grief go away, but she deserved to be remembered for the wonderful lessons she imparted. She was the “bad” dog, the one that was never supposed to stay, and the one I knew would live forever simply because of how difficult she made my life at times. I know I’ll have another “bad” dog one day, and I know Kara’s lessons will carry through to then, and that new “bad” dog will teach me lessons of its own. Until then – well, it’s true that one man’s trash can certainly be another’s treasure, and Kara will forever be a sparkle in my memories.

10945750_10152642813022467_1064536454250921553_n

Advertisements

What the F#@k is That Dog?: Zelda’s Results Are In

Back in September, I wrote an article asking for ideas on my personal pound puppy, Zelda’s, breed mixture. I also ordered a DNA test, so we could all have an answer to the mystery. I woke up this morning to an email from Wisdom Panel – Zelda’s results were in! (Disclaimer: I got sidetracked and took over two months to actually send the test in.) As I lay in bed with Princess Ruto Kissy-Face, I opened up my results document eagerly.

And… drumroll… … … Zelda is a Bull Terrier.

1601521_10152153559467467_8484286675613060877_n
Wait, what did you say? I didn’t hear you, can you repeat that please?

 

Right. Um. No shit, Sherlock.

To be exact (haha, like what I did there?), she is a Bull Terrier, mixed with Miniature Bull Terrier, mixed with Bull Terrier, mixed with something. Thanks, Wisdom Panel.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.26.06 PM

Oh, I’m just giving Wisdom Panel a hard time. This isn’t an exact science, I know that. Honestly, I was genuinely surprised by these results. I knew Bull Terrier was in there, but I assumed we were looking at a completely separate breed for the other side. Let’s take a look at her results!

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.26.35 PM

 

So, my first assumption is that the left hand side is Mama Mia, because we know she’s a purebred Bull Terrier. Even the DNA tests cannot always identify purebred lineage, which makes sense because every dog breed is a hodge-podge of other breeds. According to this, then, Daddy is a Bull Terrier mix.

Now, we could also ask ourselves another question. Was Mama Mia a purebred? Or, perhaps, was she a very high content mix? Mia was surrendered to the City shelter by her “owner” when she was in labor with Zelda and her brother, because she “scratched” a teenager during labor. An even creepier question – was Zelda’s daddy also her grandpa? Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit knowing backyard breeders around here; I’ve definitely seen worse.

Moving on. What insight does Wisdom Panel give us about Miss Zelda?

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.28.29 PM

 

Do I recognize any Bull Terrier traits in Zelda? Hmm. Intelligent, active, strong, friendly – yep, we’re good there. Reward-based training sounds about right (I think they could have worded that differently, though – maybe something like, “Stubborn as shit unless you really make them want it.”). She’s actually very friendly with strangers, but she’s a giant bitch to other dogs she doesn’t respect.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.36.12 PM

 

“May not get along well with other dogs.” Zelda loves other dogs. Unless, of course, they go near something she thinks is hers, and that list seems to grow every day. She will share all day with her pack, but “guest” dogs and cats will fall victim quickly to her resource guarding. We’re working on it.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.36.42 PM

 

Then there’s this. Wisdom Panel does preface it with a very clear warning that these other breeds may not exist at all in the dog’s background, but then, they may. I could be convinced that she has retriever somewhere in her background, but if anyone ever even so much as mentions that she’s part Pug, I’ll shank you.

So, there you have it. Zelda is a Bull Terrier/Miniature Bull Terrier mix. I’m glad we have an enlightening answer to the mystery of the Imp Princess. Now, Wisdom Panel has offered me $15 off a second test if I want one… maybe Cady is next?

Fosters August-8

What the F#@k is That Dog?: Zelda

Have you ever seen a dog and thought to yourself, “What the f#@k is that thing?” Let’s be real, we all have. Whether it’s walking down the street, at the dog park, the vet, or roaming the wings of a local animal control facility, we’ve all been there.

I take a bit of pride in my knowledge of dog breeds. From the early age of, like, when I could read, I poured over dog breed books like they were encyclopedias and bibles meshed beautifully into a single source of wisdom for all things dog-centric. Needless to say, I’m usually that weirdo who knows exactly what breed the strange dog at the park is. I can’t tell if my friends are impressed or embarrassed – probably a mixture of both, honestly.

I do get stumped, however. For Dog’s sake, folks, I’m not always perfect. Just most of the time. And for a little fun, I have decided to try and garner a bit of public interest and breed guessing skills, with a routine post entitled What the F#@k is That Dog?

For your inaugural edition of What the F#@k is That Dog?, I give you my very own pound puppy, Zelda.

Zelda is a nine month old brindle and white Bull Terrier mix. I’m giving y’all an easy one for the first go – we know for a fact that Zelda’s mom is a purebred Bull Terrier (she’s white, deaf, and her name is Mia).

All we know about Zelda, and Mia, is that Mia was dumped while giving birth because she scratched a teenager in the home. Mia proceeded to have two puppies at the shelter, and when I found her and called Bull Terrier Rescue, we teamed up to get Mia and the pups out. Bull Terrier rescue took the family into foster care, and when Zelda was six weeks old, I brought her home to foster. The rest is history…

So, here’s where you come in – what the f#@k is Zelda? Comment with your thoughts and why you came to that conclusion.

Lastly, just because Zelda is mine and I want to add a little competitive element to the game, I will be ordering a DNA test and sending it in promptly. I’ll post the results when they’re in to follow up!

Alright, guys, let’s have some fun and judge the hell out of my dog (and I promise I won’t get mad at any yucky breeds y’all suggest).

And because I have to say it, even though I shouldn’t… yes I’m aware the DNA tests are not 100% accurate. It’s FUN, y’all.

 

A Dog Park Rant (the first of many, I’m sure)

I love the dog park. I love it for many reasons, most notably the fact that it provides me with a safe, secure venue to exercise and socialize my dogs. It also gives me a way to really understand how my foster dogs interact with strange people and dogs, what type of play they prefer, and which dogs they gravitate towards or avoid. Of course, I don’t leave straight from the shelter and head to the dog park, but after a dog has been tested and proven with my own pack, I’ll venture out.

IMG_3236
Fenrir, child-eater.

 

Since I got Fen, my ten month old Doberman foster pup, I’ve become a bit of a regular at the local free dog park. It’s a mile and a half from my house; I can walk, run, or drive there. I try and go after class whenever possible – usually I take Fen, sometimes one of the Boykins, or another trustworthy foster. Last night, I took Stream along as well.  Both boys were well behaved, and we went home tired. Mission accomplished.

So here we go – five for today.

1. Don’t bring a child to the dog park.

I’m really not sure why I even have to say this. Who in their right mind thinks a dog park is a good place for a small child? You are literally bringing a prey item into a pack of dogs. Anything more than two dogs is a pack, and dogs operate on pack mentality. They are running around, chasing, snapping, barking, wrestling – doing what dogs do. Then you bring a small child into the fold, that runs and squeals, and get mad at me because my dog chases the child? Look, I know my dog is mouthy, I know he’s big, and I know he jumps up when he gets excited. That’s why I took him to a dog park. Not a playground.

2. Don’t get upset when they play rough

Dogs will be dogs. They all have their different methods of play; some like to be chased, some like to do the chasing, some like play ball, some like to bark incessantly in other dogs’ face, some like to play fight. It’s instinct – play behavior in animals is practice for real life. If you can’t handle watching Buddy get all slobbery and growly with another dog, then go home. Most recently, the bitchiest violator of this rule also violated #1. Because my big, vicious, child-eating Doberman puppy chased the boxer who would not stop barking in his face.

3. Understand basic dog behavior and body language

This ties in with #2. If you can’t recognize the difference in angry growl and play growl, I don’t trust you and I don’t want you around. Why? Because you are either super sensitive, or super dangerous. Frankly, I’m more concerned about the dangerous part. Your dog is running around mounting other dogs, hackles raised, and you say, “Oh he’s just playing.” Nope, he’s being a dick, and he’s trying to start a fight. Fix it.

4. Know how to break up a dog fight

Fortunately for me, there’s only been a handful of fights while I’ve been at my park, and I broke up most of them because typically I’m closest and I’m actually watching the cues that led up to the fight in the first place. Also, I’m the crazy dog lady, so I don’t hesitate. But if dog fights freak you out and all you can do is squeal and cry, you need to stay home. Fights happen, they suck, but these are dogs we’re talking about. Your lack of self control and confidence as an owner only feeds into the issue.

5. Don’t be a dick

Probably the most important one here. I swear, last night some frattastic asshole came in with the cutest little golden retriever puppy. We’ll ignore for now that the puppy was probably too young to be there in the first place. Dude walks up, and the dogs rush the gate, so the puppy naturally hesitates nervously. What does he do? Shoves his puppy through the gate and says, “Don’t be a little wimp.” This guy continued to just radiate douchery the rest of the time, laughing when his puppy got picked on by the other dogs, the like. I wanted to punch him. Whether you’re being a tool to your own dog, or to someone else’s dog, or to another owner, doesn’t matter. Don’t be a dick.

Meet the Ladies (using “ladies” very loosely here…)

I have never really been a female dog kind of person – probably because, let’s be honest, I’m enough bitch for one household. My boy dogs have always filled my emotional needs as pseudo-boyfriends and best friends, and even in my human life I typically avoid members of the same sex. As someone who has had predominately male friends since I was in the sixth grade, I typically don’t have the patience for normal girlish antics (this is not always the case – I do require some level of “girl-talk” and shopping in my life, just not the normal level expected from most females).

IMG_1810

Somehow, despite all of this, I have managed to acquire three female dogs, affectionately referred to as “the girls”.  For the most part, these three are treated as a single unit, except the times that I single Delaney or Cady out for time away from Kara – Cady especially, because it’s nothing short of torture to subject a dog of her mental capacity to tolerating Boykins 24/7.  [I should note that this is only for Columbia activities. Activities that take place out of town where it is impractical to take all four dogs, they are separated into “Alpha Team” and “Bravo Team. Alpha Team includes the Aussies, and Bravo the Boykins. This works out well considering the nature of the two breeds and what each breed considers to be more entertaining than the other – the Aussies don’t exactly appreciate swimming days, and the Boykins could care less about a trip to the mountains.]

IMG_3006Delaney, despite my typical disdain for female dogs, was purposefully purchased from a Boykin Spaniel breeder in Kershaw, South Carolina. I had a male dog, and opposite gender pairings are the easiest to manange. She was, like Rugby, four months old and a remnant of a litter taking too long to sell. Unlike Rugby, however, there was not so much the instant bond with Delaney, and frankly I preferred the outgoing nature of one of her sisters. However, I am somewhat of a snob when it comes to a proportional dog, and Delaney was the only one of the puppies whose legs matched the length of her body. Boykins have a tendency to be quite squat in stature, and I am not a fan. So, I put my deposit down for the long-legged puppy, and returned two weeks later to bring her home. Delaney is a special girl.  It’s no secret that she is named after my favorite bar at that time, and she was purchased more to fill a void than because I truly needed a second dog. Not to say I got a second dog frivolously – I had thought it through, Rugby did enjoy having a friend around and would become quite sad when his foster siblings were adopted, and I knew and loved the Boykin breed well. The void-filling was simply the final deciding factor, and the last in a series of steps to declare my independence from an emotional trap that need not be discussed in further detail.

Delaney is a princess. A very special, very silly princess. I don’t keep her groomed very tidily, so her curls are unruly, her pigtail-like ears long, her feet display tufts of brown fur, and her “alfalfa sprout” makes her look not much different than a Who. Delaney decided early on that she was not made for sleeping on floors, and demanded a bed of her own, though she really prefers human furniture. Once we taught her to swim, she was always in the water, and she loves the game of fetch just as much as any good retriever (though she’s not OCD like her sister about it). She doesn’t always like to bring it back, however, especially if her sister is in the game. She is also a cheater, and will stay in the outfield waiting for the ball while the others in the game sit obediently by our sides while we throw. Delaney hates children, and if she’s in trouble she will begins to flail wildly to avoid being held or caught. She’s the type of dog that discipline has no affect on, as it just upsets her and makes her forget everything. There’s little reason to discipline her now though. She will be four years old on Valentine’s Day, and the only thing she really does “bad” is her tendency to bolt when guns are fired. Oh, and she crunches tennis balls.

Cady is my old girl. I love her, so very much. I saw a posting on Facebook one day about a pregnant Aussie in rural Georgia who had very little time left. She had belonged to a hoarder, and when that person died, it was up to animal control to go collect the animals. I’m not sure how many there were, I don’t really want to know. I just know that most of them never made it out.  It was Cady’s puppies that saved her, because this animal control unit actually had a heart, and knew that even if Cady was too unsocialized to be helped, her puppies need not suffer the same fate. We arranged a flight from Georgia to Columbia for Cady, and I picked her up in January (2012). On Valentine’s Day, Cady gave birth to nine beautiful black tricolor puppies (and chewed through some drywall and a door before doing so). We raised and placed the puppies, and for the next year I fostered Cady, trying my hardest to place her with anyone I thought could love a dumpy little dog that lived under the bed. We called her the troll, because she really only ever came out from under the bed to use the bathroom and rip up the carpet and eat the blinds when we forgot to crate her before leaving. Cady did find one adopter, and I sent her off in August to live with a woman who was quite hell-bent on taking home a dog. On the 30th day of a 30-day money-back contract, the woman called me and said she was bringing Cady back, because Cady wasn’t cuddly enough. I am still firmly of the opinion that Cady never intended to be owned by anyone but me, as she nearly pranced back into the house, stub of a tail wagging, and she was even happy to see my boyfriend who she previously thought was a terrible monster. It was January of 2013 still before I signed the papers for Cady, and only because I was resigning from the rescue she was listed through and would not allow them to take her away from me. That night, Cady lay beside me on the couch and put her head in my lap; I think I cried.IMG_2209

Cady is my poster child for recovery. When I got her, she was nearly untouchable. She was never aggressive, but always terrified. Men and strangers were murderers in her eyes. However, I refused to allow her to be consumed by her fear. I took her everywhere, and made her deal with houseguests. I never allowed anyone to violate her space, I simply removed her escape routes and made her deal with it. I am sure than many trainers would chastise my methods, but today, two years later, Cady politely requests attention from male strangers. She loads up in a car readily, she has wonderful recall, and she even has a sit-stay about 70% of the time. I can still see uneasiness on her face sometimes, but I also see bravery and resilience. She broke through her own barriers and became the dog she should have been allowed to be from the start.

Finally, there is Kara.  While Cady is the poster child for recovery, Kara might possibly be the poster child for why you shouldn’t do drugs while pregnant, or deprive a puppy of oxygen. Maybe that’s what happened? Maybe she took just a little too long to get out of the birth canal? That’s right, let’s not blame it on Kara or on whoever raised her, let’s just call it chance and plain bad luck.IMG_3057

Well, we can blame something on her owner. We can blame the fact that she ended up on I-95, starved, covered in ticks, heartworm positive and very pregnant on them. She was seen on the side of the interstate for two weeks before a kind woman caught her. I never wanted Kara, and I demanded that she be moved to a new foster home within 24 hours. I was too overwhelmed, had too many foster dogs already.  Some days, I kick myself for not sticking fervently to that demand. Alas, Kara never did leave my home. She had eight little bitty purebred Boykin puppies who all found wonderful homes, and after all of Kara’s treatment, I kept her, too. Kara is pure athlete, a hunting machine with a spot-on nose and the tenacity to take on the biggest of bears, if said bear had whatever she was supposed to be retrieving. She screams in delight at the thought of running through fields and cackles like a hyena when she is angry. Daily, I find myself sighing in exasperation at her. She eats Q-tips out of my bathroom trash, breaks out of every crate that isn’t zip-tied, pees in her crate, pisses off every one of her dog siblings, barks in her crate all night long, and is the single most obsessive IMG_3094dog I have ever met. I love her, I really do. I love her. I love her. She’ll get better one day…

The stories about Kara are nearly endless, and for the sake of this extremely long post, I’ll save them for individual postings to keep you all laughing as time goes by. She’s a funny dog, for sure, especially when you’re not the one cleaning up her mess or paying her vet bills. She teaches me weekly the blessings of patience and understanding. I’m not saying I really need those lessons, but she thinks I do, so I’ll accept them with open arms and remind myself that violence is never the answer.

That’s all for today, aren’t you glad? Until!

An Introduction (to my dog)

I’m not going to introduce myself; talking about myself is not one of my favorite pastimes, and I suppose if I keep this up long enough, you’ll catch hints here and there about where I’m from and the experiences I’ve had.

Instead, I’m going to introduce the four-legged creatures in my life. In reality, they are the ones who make me who I am; they are basically an extension of my personality. They’re also the most important things in my life. I suppose my family and friends should be, but in the same manner that one’s children become the most important things in their lives, my dogs and cats are mine. I am solely responsible for their well-being, their happiness, and therefore it is their priority that molds the course of my day to day. And I’m completely okay with that; this life isn’t for everyone, but it’s for me. Plus, getting me to talk about much else is a feat in itself.

The first on our list is Rugby. He’s the first on every one of my lists, and may always be. The ridiculously irritating emotional side of me will come out just writing this; this dog is the best friend I have ever had. He is my “heart dog”. When I was seventeen years old, my first Aussie, Digger, was hit by a car and killed. I don’t know if I’ll ever not blame myself for this, and I know I will never forget the feeling when I came home that night from work with the dog bed I had just spent my paycheck on, asking where he was. I cried for days. That summer I went to live for a bit with my father in Oregon. My dad (I’ll try to act like an adult and refrain from calling him “Daddy” for the purposes of this blog) is the one who introduced me to Aussies way back when. I was holding up okay as far as being dog-less went, but one say after hiking we stopped to buy cherries from a roadside stand, and I saw a little head pop up over a low wall. I knew that face; it was an Aussie puppy. I could have very well pup-napped the little thing, but instead I just cuddled it and held back the urge to cry. That night I started looking for puppies in the area. I found two breeders, and set my mind on one in Gearhart. I wanted a blue merle, and I wanted an eight week old. Digger had been a red tricolor, and I got him at six months old, so I wanted something different. There was one other breeder about an hour away, but they only had a four month old red tricolor. I immediately decided against that puppy and started making arrangements with the Gearhart breeder. However, one day we decided to go hiking at Saddle Mountain, which happened to be right by the “other” breeder. My dad convinced me we should stop by and just check them out – what could it hurt? We had time to kill anyways.

532271_10150896606687467_1420456990_nRugby was being housed alone in a stall. All of his siblings had been purchased long ago when they were little and squishy. Rugby was goofy, lanky already, with a silly face. They let him out of the stall and I knelt down to say hello. His paws went to my shoulders, and he tucked his muzzle up under my chin and just stood there, hugging me. It was all I could do to not cry in front of the whole barn of people. Needless to say, I had my puppy. We brought him home the next week, and I took him everywhere with me until it was time to fly back to South Carolina. He actually had to stay behind for another two weeks until my stepmother flew out, because my plane wasn’t outfitted for live cargo.

Since then, Rugby has been my constant companion. He is the world’s most amazing dog, and I promise I’m not biased. He’s beautiful, funny, talkative, athletic, friendly, cuddly, naughty, short-tempered, stubborn, adventurous, and too smart for his own good. Remember how I said dogs are an extension of their people? See, you’re getting to know me already. He adores all people, especially my family and friends. I take him to restaurants and bars, and my friends are happier to see him then they are me, I think. He does this terribly obnoxious squealing thing when he’s excited to see someone, and jumps up, spins his body around and falls into their arms, because he knows he’s notallowed to put his paws on people. He despises puppies and takes other dogs’ actions way too seriously. He won’t start a fight, but good luck getting him to quit one. He fights dirty, too, because he knows that the other dog will bite his neck, which happens to be protected by a massive mane, so while they do that he grabs a leg and thrashes. It’s quite ugly.

IMG_2938

 He tolerates my boyfriends, but essentially uses them for attention and play, until he’s ready to cuddle with mom. Then he steps on their faces while he jumps to see me. He is protective in what I call the “Lassie” way, as opposed to the “Cujo” way. I don’t know that he would ever bite a person, no matter what they were doing to me or him, but he will sink his teeth into my shirt and drag me across a room to remove me from a situation. He hates livestock, dirt bikes, and trampolines. He loves hiking and camping.

IMG_2873

Rugby will be seven years old in a week. I see the white hairs coming in on his face and it fills me with sadness. I need him to live forever. Where will I ever find another friend like him?

I realize now how long this has gotten. I’ve got to go; there’s a temporary foster coming in from Fayetteville shortly. I’ll write about the girls later. I promise I won’t just write about the dogs – but I will write mostly about them, so be prepared.

Until then!