This text will probably become a web page with photos/videos in remembrance of the sweetest creature I think I ever have met. I know. I have joined the ranks of the online basket case. The story won't be a downer. Writing this is reminding me of all these little moments of joy I could not have had otherwise. This may take me a while, but I need to work my way through some pain, I had not been prepared for.. I hope in the end I will find the courage to see this as something other than a tragedy. Yeah, it's rambling, and bad grammar... but that is where my head is at this moment.
Saturday, January 24th, 2009.
Off and on all previous day long the rain had foiled my every attempt to finish piecing together six hundred dollars in fencing to block access from the back door dog flap to the pool in the back yard (with the exception of a gate and two sets of stairs which I made for the four dogs to traverse from one side of the fence to the other). I am desperately running out of time. I have to get this finished and take the dogs across town to mother's. I am trying to understand how this whole mess came to be. Who am I kidding? As always it begins with my big mouth only I had opened it one month earlier and my wife was paying attention instead of doing the more sane thing and ignoring most of what I said.
December and 2008 was almost over. What was it exactly about the holidays that guilted us into taking bags of dog food to the local animal care center? Oh I remember now, it was those damned (every other commerical break) heart-wrenching ASPCA advertisements with that b*tch, Sarah Mclachlin warbling "Angel" while they showed images of abused dogs and cats locked in animal shelters. Okay, Sarah is not a b*tch, but honestly tell me what any of you think of when you hear that song now? So we dropped off the food as we watched these adorable puppies pulled off the back of a truck and processed into the system. We had to see what was going on in the dog kennel. Surely, people do not bring puppies to Animal Care during the holiday season! That is exactly what was going on. Well "Angel" must have been playing in my brain because I mentioned how I wish we could adopt one of the dogs which would more than likely be overlooked. We have a history of adopting the dogs with a black coat as my wife, Ann, researched that these dogs are often overlooked because it is harder to see the endearing expressions they make. Yes, and Ann agreed that if we adopt it should be a small dog.... a senior dog. Sane people rarely have more than two dogs, and this would make five for us. Somehow, we managed to escape the building without adopting any let alone the six or seven dogs which connected with us from behind their captive bars. I thought this was the end of the matter. We have four dogs, period.
What I failed to realize was that it was not the end of the matter for Ann who was checking Petfinder.com. Honestly, I was still feeling frustrated deep down for these animals in the shelters. We had a new President coming into office making a public spectical of getting a dog, and there even was buzz about using a shelter. I never heard the word "mutt" mentioned as a first dog choice, but you can't expect everyone's tastes to be as sophisticated as your own. So if Ann mentioned to me that on January 8th she found the cutest dog face ever on the internet and it needed a home; I probably started mumbling something about the first dog should be a mutt. My fear at the time was that the newly elected President would get some purebreed, and the breeders would go nuts breeding that type of dog, or people would buy that breed of dog and either way the shelters would be over run in a month with one particular breed of dog. So in my mind rescuing a mutt was not only good for me, it was good for the country. Hell, it might even bring peace in the Middle East. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but damned if I admit I am "crazy cat lady"-like when it comes to adopting dogs.. I looked at the black and white print out of this little ratty creature from the petfinder site which Ann handed me. For Ann it was love at first sight. For me, well, there is something sweet about the face which looked absolutely nothing like our four other dogs. It kind of looked like a dust mop with beady eyes, snaggle toothed underbite, and bad posture. The accompanying story was intriguing though. How does a dog reach 12 years of age and end up abandoned on the streets of Rio Rancho, NewMexico? Wait, hold the phone! NewMexico? That is like 800 miles away! Okay now we are talking "crazy cat lady with an internet connection"-like. "Fine, ask the animal rescue group about the dog.", I told Ann.
Over the course of the next two weeks Ann was making arrangements to see this dog and reassuring the foster mom that we were not monsters. At some point I snapped photos of the back yard with the swimming pool in some of them. Ann reassured the foster mom there was a fence to keep this tiny creature safe from any danger of drowning. So I built two sets of stairs back to back and had the dogs run up one side and down the other. It turned out they were better at tumbling off the sides once they made it to the top. So we practiced until all four of them caught on. Really, it only took one dog to show the others how to do it, and a couple of dogs figuring out that all four dogs trying to cross at once does not work so well. I then spent a hunk of paycheck on fencing material to make good on the promise, while Ann drove 800 miles to a strange cold land and met this pitiful seventeen pound dust mop with the haunting beady eyes. Friday night I came in from the rain to answer the phone shortly after sunset. On my end I had four dogs nervously pacing the entire day because I divided their back yard into two parts. On the other end, "Oh she is the cutest, sweetest little girl ever", Ann purred. "She gets along with all the dogs here and people too. She is shy, but has just started to put her paws on her foster mom. She has a bit of Kennel Cough, but the vet has been treating it. Oh and the foster mom has another male terrier puppy just arrived. He is soooo cute. She is going to keep him and not just foster him. ... but, you would absolutely love him." , Ann continued in her blissful state. Okay Ann had lost her mind. Wait..... I think she said that she is still only bringing back one dog. Whew! Ann tells me she will spend the night with the foster mom, and the new dogs and head back home in the morning. So we decided to meet at my mom's house which is neutral dog territory, kind of like Switzerland is for people... For dogs, it is territory that no one want's to fight over, kind of like New Jersey is to humans.
So here it was Saturday afternoon and I do not have a fence finished. Ann called me from Demming, NewMexico earlier. Thankfully she only had one dog in the car with her, but is noticing that the dog seems to be hard of hearing and very hungry. Both of these first impressions proved to be understated. If you were to cast Helen Keller as the shark in the movie Jaws, but only stuff all that into the body of a little dust mop with beady eyes... you get the idea. Whatever. I need to round up the dogs and take them to doggie Switzerland. I figured we were in for a lot of doggie trauma, bruised doggie egos, and jealousy.
Instead, there was a little bit of shaking by the new dog, and four very puzzled dogs not understanding why this little dog like creature would not react to any noise they made, or make any kind of noise in return. For the most part they lost interest quickly except for Woodruff, the youngest. He kept trying to engage this frail little new dog in play. She just did not seem to understand. I thought to myself, "This is too easy. This is not really like having a fifth dog. She is a quarter of the size of the others, and makes no noise. Piece of cake. I don't even think there is any danger of growing really attached to her, as there is no sort of interaction there. She just will kind of chill out and hang in the background like a cat. She's kinda homely what with the two teeth sticking out form her lower lip in two totally different directions.... and that foul breath...! Wait, she looked over at me. Oh, she needs something." Damn. This is how it always starts. I think most humans have this little understood peice of genetic material which melts when a dog looks at you a certain way. Well, maybe it is completely understood by the canine population who can work it to its full advantage. Fine wrap her up, and let's take her home.
This is the face that Ann fell in love with
This was Ruby as she was found as a stray by the city of Albuquerque. She was only 17 lbs and her fur was matted.
... to be continued.