Once upon a time I had some really amazing dogs. One beautiful relationship after another since I was a young girl and first laid eyes on a lonely Cock-a-poo name Whiffon, whom I visited every day in my neighbor’s yard until the neighbor gave her to me.
I saved another strong and beautiful German Short hair pointer pup named Dutch, for whom I rescued out of a car in freezing, sub-zero temperatures and hitch hiked with him to Denver, by which the owners tried to sue me because he “Cost them a lot of money.” My Dad had a lawyer threaten them and they withdrew the complaint (as they had nowhere for him to live besides a car), he spent all of his days beside me, travelling the United States, living with his vagabond best friend. We adored one another through thick and thin.He retired in his old age to a large comfy chair in my parents home where I lived.
Then another love story with a brindle mutt I saw shaking in a cage in the Dumb Friends league shelter.My heart broke for this skinny, emaciated, trembling dog. I tenderly lay with her, day after day on the floor and stroked her. She didn’t eat, barely drank any water and when I carried her into the vet’s office the Dr looked at me and said “She may die. She has to decide to live again.” I took her home, named her “Girlfriend.” and prayed for the best. One day she slunk by me on her belly and grabbed a piece of food from her dish. We spent 7 years together before she passed from cancer. I have funerals for my dogs and 8 people came to hers. With tears in their eyes they said they had never seen such love as was between Girlfriend and me.
My beautiful rescued Greyhound named Miss B came next. She ran out of her pen and soared in a circle on the track and then ran straight to me and with a trembling lip tucked her head under my arm. I took her home and we (after a time of adjustment with her never having been in the real world) became tender, gentle friends. When she heard herself bark in joy for the first time we both danced with delight. I loved her deeply and completely and she loved me. Then came JJ, one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known, who loved Joe and I equally. She was an absolute delight in every way and we were a family. When she passed away after 4 days in Intensive care and almost 4K later our hearts have never fully recovered.
Sometime in the journey with JJ came a tiny pup I named Layla. As “you’ve got me on my knees, beggin baby please Layla” A cross between a lady and a tomboy, a lover (but no pushover) she and I became closer than any dog I have ever had. As Forest Gump said “We were like peas and carrots” She went everywhere with me. We knew each other with some sort of strange soul connection and when she passed away from cancer at the age of 16 I grieved in a manner that frightened me. I cried all night, wanting to crawl out of my skin. Just writing this is causing me to tear up. The following morning I looked at Joe and said “we have to get another dog TODAY” (Completely out of my mind with grief) wanting to change the pain that threatened to crush me we drove two hours to a breeder and bought not one but two 5 week old pups. (The breeder told us they were 8 weeks old, she lied) They were brother and sister, they had been born to an over bred mother in a smoke-filled house, without much time suckling. We named them right away, Kiss and Mister Wigglesworth. Kiss was Joe’s from the very start. He got her a service dog vest and certificate and they are inseparable. Mister was the runt and I bottle fed him goats milk and colostrum. They were sickly, Mister had a bad stomach and Kiss had birth defects, a hernia and a nose that wasn’t properly formed inside. Mister appeared to have some brain damage, small seizures and eyes that would not track. I gave him homeopathy and cuddled him for days on end. In the end he outgrew his sister by 9 pounds and became the social director of the family. They both also ate so many things (drywall, floors, medicine bottles and the pills inside, body lotions and creams, sticks, rocks, glass.) YEP, (Raisins, stuffing from the couch, paint,) and I called poison control so many times they knew them by name and I cried so many days, grieving Layla when I was alone in the shower so as to not traumatize the pups who were clearly not of sound mind already. I thought many times I can’t do this, but I am tenacious and kept going. The problem for me is that Mister is KING of the mixed signals. I think we are bonding, that I am becoming his person, but then every person he meets he wants to go home with and when Joe and Kiss come home from work he is ecstatic and won’t leave their side. He doesn’t care that I am in the other room, or even in the same room. He just wants to be with them. Some days, after Joe and Kiss leave, he sits by the door almost all day pouting. I take him for walks and feed him (Homemade food of beef and carrots and brocoli and oats and a little coconut oil and maybe some pear or blueberry) and I cuddle him and play with him and I think we are bonding and then the whole heart breaking saga begins the minute my husband walks in the door.
The other day it struck me I am the servant. I am the cook. Occasionally they will reward me with a lick, lick or a small tail wag, but that’s about it. Low man on the totem pole. Last one picked for the team. When he is hungry or wants to go outside he will sit on his hind quarters and paw the air in a way that can only be described as adorable. If I pull out his favorite doggie bone and begin to sing a song, he will get up on two legs and dance. We have our rituals, but his heart is not in it, not the way it is when Joe is around, or Vickie, or Dad, or the next door neighbors.
I am continuing to pray that God changes one of us. Some days are so painful I just want to leave, or find him another home. It sort of reminds me of a long marriage without stability or loyalty, just enough attention to keep you there, but chronically under nourished. I know there has to be a silver lining somewhere. I hold on because he is a sweet dog, and I love him. Probably too much for my own good. Joe say’s if I stop caring it won’t matter. Okay, sure…How’s that working for me?