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Posts Tagged ‘Rescue Dog’

Harvey

It has been nearly two years since I decided a cat was not in my near future (Murphy being what he is) and that perhaps I would be better off getting a dog. It was not an easy decision, because while I like dogs, I do not really have the energy to be a dog person and, well, frankly, I am afraid of dogs.

Not little dogs. I merely dislike little dogs. There are exceptions to that rule: Dachshunds are allowed and my ex-neighbor had a Yorkie terrier and a terrier mix that adored me. But on the grand scale of things, if a dog isn’t going to weigh 30 pounds, I really don’t care for it. Oh – also exceptions: my friend’s (Kelly’s) adorable “Little” Murphy and my mother-in-law’s love-starved Jack Russell, Maggie. OK – I could probably make exceptions all day long because, let’s face it, I love animals.

There are just a few dogs I do not like. Standard Schnauzers are not high on my list after years of being tolerated by my mother’s “Mr. Tack”. It didn’t help that she called him “Tacky” and sometimes she got our names mixed up and she called me “Tacky”. I don’t think she ever called him “Jackie”. Oh, and after a year of intense 4-H dog training, Mr. Tack took a nap in the show ring at the tri-county fair and we walked away with a white ribbon which is 4-H’s nice way of saying, “Sorry, Loser”. I never forgave Mr. Tack.

I prefer cats. They don’t need a lot of attention. They sleep on your head. They purr.

There are negatives to a cat, too. Hair balls. That odd green mouse organ they won’t eat, but they will leave on the doorstep for you. Mouse heads. Shrew tails. Dead birds. Claws.

But dogs. Dogs have always eluded me. We had a dog when I was a kid: a funny-looking dog like Farley Mowat’s Dog-Who-Wouldn’t-Be. His name was Butchey, he chased rocks and cars, and he climbed chain-link fences. That was before Mr. Tack. And after my mother’s miserable little toy dog, Squeaky, that used to chew on us kids to wake us up. I think Squeaky was a Chihuahua, but I don’t really remember the monster. Only that he nibbled on children.

Obviously, my mother liked little dogs.

When I was a girl, I had several scary encounters with large dogs, one of which was a brush of teeth against my face. It never was the dog’s fault: dogs act on instinct. Children who run are prey. Fear emits a smell or an aura that dogs can sense and they prey on it. Ghost stories around strange dogs is not advisable.

Most of the dog encounters in my life could be handled: Kelly, the Black Lab that chased kids could be thwarted by the simple act of pretending to pick up a rock and aiming it at him. Kelly was a coward. Princess, the German Shorthair, was dangerous, but it was my girlfriend, not me, who got cornered by Princess. And my girlfriend knew what to do (but she still cried when it was over and Princess was once again cloistered in her kennel until hunting season).

The two big dogs that charged over our under-ground garage roof at us were tamed by my sister (who never knew a dog she didn’t like). Soon even I was able to play with Spooky & Bandit.

And, of course, we had dogs as we raised our children. Good dogs. Rosie, the mutt, who was like Butchey: Dog Extraordinare. Sadie, the purebred show-quality English Pointer who had the brains of a peanut but loved loyally. Murphy, the aggressive-dominant puppy that was beginning to mellow with age (and castration) into a large, goofy, but kind, monster (and master thief).

I searched websites. I had certain breeds I preferred over others: Dalmatians, Australian Shepherd, run-of-the-mill cow dog, another Brittany Spaniel mutt like Rosie. I once owned a Dalmatian. She and Don hated each other. Mandy. I had to give her back. It’s one of my regrets.

If I had to say it, Mandy influenced a lot of what I was searching for: I wanted another Mandy. She was a loving, good dog. She loved ME.

The short story is that I finally decided I really could not afford to pay the fees required by local rescue groups and I was unwilling to jump through the hoops some of them require of a “foster” home for a dog. Most of the dogs profiled didn’t meet my standards: good with children and other pets.

I finally decided to try the local Kill Shelter: Clackamas County Dog Control. At the time, I did not know that the pound goes to great lengths to find homes for the dogs they catch or rescue. They do not want to be in the business of putting stray dogs down. They periodically offer dogs at reduced fees. They spay and neuter all the dogs they give away. They even offer obedience classes.

Best of all, their dogs really need a home. Right now.

I went and walked through the aisles. Some dogs just plain hated me. Maybe they sensed that fear I have of dogs and they charged the chain link. Some just barked. Some looked sad. But only two met my criteria: a hound named “Fiona” and an English Setter. Fiona was tiny, but she was a hound. And hounds bay. And hounds run.

And the English Setter. He had peed all over himself. He obviously hated being where he was, but he crowded up to the chain link and made himself look tiny as he wagged his entire body in excitement. He had peed all over his bedding, his enclosure, himself. Did I mention that? He was yellow.

I met him. They called him “Ollie” which was a terrible name. He had one black ear like Mandy of so many years ago. He was a purebred. He was a breed of dog I was interested in. He was sweet.

When I filled out the paperwork, I was so nervous, I transposed my phone number. As a result, I never got a phone call that he was ready for me. I finally called the pound and asked, only to be informed that they could not reach me, so someone else was taking him home.

I was crushed.

Then, two days later, I got a surprise phone call: was I the woman who *really* wanted the English Setter? Because TWO different people had backed out of adopting him at the last minute, and he was slated to be put down.

That was almost two years ago.

Here he is. My buddy. I am not the greatest Dog Mom. I don’t have the energy required to take him on walks every single night. He is over-weight. He wags his tail with his whole body. He barks when he is excited or he wants to “tell” us something. He doesn’t bark at strangers or when the doorbell rings (that’s Murphy’s job). He’s not good with cats. He hates to ride in cars. He’s not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. He dances in circles when he thinks he is going to get to go on a walk. He knows how to “heel” but sometimes I have to remind him.

He lets me pull at his fur, cut his fur, clean his ears, and tend his wounds. He rubs his head on me and soils my dress slacks. He does not drool (that’s Murphy’s job). He runs away when he gets the chance and he does not look back. He loves wearing the shock collar and getting a gentle reminder that he is supposed to come back when I call him. He is collar-smart and knows when he does not have the collar on. He tries to dig his way out or climb over fences.

But he is ♥mine♥ and I am his.

“Oh, Mom, you are embarrassing me…”

Did I mention he *sighs* deeply when we are eating? It’s almost whining. And it is obnoxious. And I have to comb poop out of his fur? Or that his fur mats and I have to cut mats out of it weekly?

I was combing mats (and poop) out of his fur tonight when I decided to write about him. Despite the grooming, he’s brought me a lot of joy, my dog.

Harvey may like food more than he loves me. But he’s still my Pooka.

Oh – and to whoever dumped a purebred English Setter on the side of the road or lost one and didn’t go looking for him… He’s an awesome dog and you will never know what you missed out on. Your loss, my gain.

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