a new chapter
It’s hard to even know where to start after my last blog, but first I want to thank everyone who offered comfort to my family and I after the loss of our dogs. I didn’t respond to wall posts or comments like I normally do, but I read them all and can’t tell you how much they meant to me.
The kids all slept with me Tuesday night… I sent the girls to Ro’s the next day, and Tyler and I tried to go through our regular day. As melodramatic as it sounds, I was finding it hard to breathe. When the tears overcame me, it wasn’t the dainty pretty cry. It was the snot blowing, leave your stomach muscles aching full on ugly bawling. Not a real attractive look at work, so I went home as soon as I could.
Once I got there, I remembered why I went to work in the first place. I didn’t want to be in my house without Roxie and Beau. I didn’t want to walk past Roxie’s kennel in the hallway. I didn’t want to look at Beau’s bed, or vacuum up the piles of hair he left behind. I didn’t want to go to my room because I would have to pass the the back door and think about how I hung that bell on the knob, and then with the power of clicker training, taught Roxie to ring it with her nose when she wanted to go outside. I didn’t want to remember all the times the first few weeks that she woke me up at three or four in the morning with that bell… not because she had to pee, but because she wanted a treat. She may have been a badass, but she was no dummy.
After coming home the next evening, Halle told me that Daddy had said he would get her another dog… which was well intentioned, but you all know what happens when Ro buys something. He always goes overboard (I say we need a van, he shows up with an Escalade). I could see him doing what he tried to do after Ramie died, and getting a puppy that would have me running home in the middle of the day and up in the middle of the night; but I could totally understand why he did it. Halle was in tears or on the verge of almost every time I looked at her. She told me,
I want the dogs back for my birthday. I know we can’t get OUR dogs back… but I want the dogs back.
Tyler was walking around with the tennis ball the dogs wouldn’t fetch. I was sure that every dog bark I heard was our dogs for the first second or two, until I remembered… and then I’d be on the verge of tears myself. And like after we lost Ramie, we were all having trouble sleeping. Daija, who hasn’t given up her version of “the thumb” started sucking on her fingers with a ferocity that I hadn’t seen since she stopped nursing. The two permanent front teeth that Roxie had already loosened a little with a nose butt are looking very precarious; I’m afraid Daija’s recent and fierce finger sucking may have loosened at least one of them too much for it to heal.
The girls were looking for some kid of closure, and suggested going and telling the farmer we were sorry about the dogs attacking his animals. I didn’t think I could keep the anger I feel in check.* Another dog certainly wouldn’t replace the two we lost or change what had happened, but it would give some measure of comfort for them to have another scruffy neck to bury their faces in, another source of affection to pour their hearts out to after a long day. None of them can remember a time that we didn’t have a “big dog” around the house, except the few weeks after Ramie died. If it was just me, I would have wallowed in guilt for a good long time, but I just couldn’t stand to see the kids hurting, and I had a driving need to make up for what had happened. I couldn’t take back what happened to Roxie & Beau, but there are always tons of dogs in shelters desperate for good homes, and another “big dog” was the only comfort I saw for them.
I decided to go to the AZ Humane Society, where people are more likely to turn in pets, and since the AZHS does more thorough evaluations of the animal’s behavior, the staff would be able to give me more information about ia dog’s behavior & history. I went to their website to check out adoption fees and looked at the avaible pets. There was a 3yo American Bulldog that had just arrived… which is the breed of dog I had planned to get before I fell for Roxie’s big brown eyes and exuberant smile. I went to the home page to see what their hours were, and clicked on the featured pets section just to see what that was about… and saw an ad/profile (just like match.com) for an 18mo English Foxhound that was on clearance… almost 70% off. And she played fetch too!
|Bo is an absolute GORGEOUS guy who has a very laid-back personality. He has that perfect American Bulldog SMILE and will charm you every chance he gets. Bo is very curious and enjoys spending his time exploring every inch of your home and back yard. If you have a good throwing arm, Bo would love to play fetch!!! Sitting next to you while watching TV is his all-time favorite activity. Bo already knows sit, lay down, and is also leash trained and house trained with a doggy door. If this all sounds great to you, come visit Bo! He would make an AMAZING best friend.||Sassy has a contangeous smile and eyes that will melt your heart. Her previous owner stated that she is house broken and has no destructive behavior. She knows sit and loves to play fetch. Although she has a muscular body, she will need daily exercise to trim off a few pounds. Her breed is known for being a tolerate, amiable, and a gentle dog who can run for miles and make great partners on a jog. Her family stated that she is very friendly with other dogs and children, but please bring in any K9’s or children at home to meet her prior to adoption to ensure a great match! She is a great companion and with time and patience she will open up if you can open your heart up to her.|
I decided that if the American Bulldog didn’t wind up having the temperament I was looking for, the English Foxhound might work for us. Having narrowed our options down to two (one male and one female, each a breed known to be good with kids, and both having already reached their full adult size with profiles that specified the dog enjoyed playing fetch), I set out alone, but with a resolve that I would not wander through kennels waiting to fall in love with a pretty face.
Sassy was a little shy and a lot overweight for such a young dog (already 85.5 lbs, and the ideal weight for her breed is 65-70 lbs) but so sweet and played fetch like she was Tyler’s dream come true. Bo looked a little thin & like he’d be a lot to handle on a leash, but he raised himself on his hind legs and rested his front legs on my hips/waist, gazing into my eyes so adoringly that I almost blushed as I told him, “Stop flirting with me!” I pushed him off and sat down, and he put one paw on my lap… then the other… then his whole chest was in my lap as he again looked at me like I was HIS dream come true. I loved all my dogs, but I don’t think a dog had looked at me with that much unconditional love & devotion since my childhood dog Lady.
So I headed home, packed up Reggie and all three of the kids, and headed back for a meet & greet. I was thinking that would force a decision, because Reggie had not been fond of Beau. But all three dogs got along… and they all got along with the kids… even after one of the adoption counselors told the kids to “go crazy” and Daija started spinning in circles and Halle started doing cartwheels. We went home to think it over, and I managed to corner each of the children separately to ask them which dog they liked best. And I got three different variations of, “I can’t choose between them.” So even though it had been my plan to just get one dog, we went back and got them both.
So far, everything’s working out beautifully. I thought it might be harder for me to have one, much less two, new dogs in the house so soon, but I’m OK. Daija hasn’t magically quit sucking her fingers, but when I check on her at night I can’t hear her from halfway down the hall. Tyler is so entertained by Rico’s affection for me that he’s asked to take pictures a few times, and he & Daija both love to play fetch with Sassy (Rico will chase the ball until he catches it, but usually drops it at that point). Halle and I got up early to walk the dogs, and I got an email from Halle’s teacher, saying Halle had told him about the new dogs and how nice it had been to see her smile again. Sassy is slowly but surely opening up, and finding her way out of the depression the staff said she’d developed from being at the shelter so long (she was spending her days laying in the gutter outside her kennel rather than spending any more time in it). Bo, who has been renamed Rico (as in Rico Suave), acts like we were his family all along. He follows me from room to room, and I can’t sit down without him trying to climb in my lap. If I so much as stand still too long, I get the “Rico Hug” with the puppy dog eyes. His attempts to monopolize my attention are making it a challenge to bond with Sassy, but we’re all working through it. He’s also the reason I didn’t blog all weekend. It’s hard to use a laptop, no matter how teensy it is, when you’ve got a sixty pound dog in your lap.
*Like I said, I have my own thoughts about the farmer’s actions; based on a photo I saw in a news story, I question whether they were on his property, or the alley that runs along it. I know neither of my dogs are real hungry, nor are they at all aggressive. Maybe they did venture onto his property, and maybe they did terrorize a couple chickens… but they would have bolted with a warning shot. I think he’s gotten a little trigger happy because of all the strays that are looking for a meal.