Somewhere in the middle of all the little pets (read the two preceding posts here and here), my husband arrived home one day to say that he had just come from the SPCA and they had some really nice dogs.
Say what? This is the guy who kept telling the kids, “You’re not getting a dog, stop asking for a dog.” When I questioned his sudden turn-about, he explained that the girls were bigger and he wanted a dog to protect them. I love dogs, and I was not about to argue with that logic.
If nothing else, the ensuing experience was worth the look on my two younger daughters’ faces the day we took them for a car ride and “just happened” to end up at the SPCA. The youngest was a little bewildered when we parked, until the middle child exclaimed, “We’re getting a dog!”
We adopted Majick, the black lab. She was the right size, and she walked beautiful on leash. She seemed to be perfect for a family with children. It seemed odd that anyone would give up such a beautiful, purebred lab, but who was I to question it?
But we didn’t know that Majick was docile because she was sick. Our vet said it was distemper and prescribed antibiotics. Majick got better, but then her true personality came out, and it was not a good one. She had obviously been abused at some point in her short life and had become somewhat aggressive because of it. My youngest was terrified of her.
The end came on the day that I was sitting in my chair reading the paper, and Majick came up and butted me with her head. I told her to get down. She did. But she sat there, thinking, with a strange light in her eyes. A few minutes later, she butted me again, more forcefully. I told her to get down. She did. The light in her eyes became a flame – and she lunged. I caught her in mid-flight towards my throat and dragged her out the side door into the yard, where she stayed until the next morning – at which point, I took her back to the SPCA. I lied and said she was too rambunctious for my young children – I didn’t want them to put her down because I thought maybe, just maybe, with the right owner she could be retrained. But that owner wasn’t going to be me.
That experience terrified me. We decided – no more dogs.
So, why did I suddenly take my middle daughter to the SPCA a few months later “just to take a look”? We happened to arrive at the exact time that a new litter of puppies was being brought in. People were swarming – those puppies would be adopted within minutes. I frantically called my husband, who was working, and begged him to let me adopt one. The SPCA claimed the puppies were shepherd/collie mixes – certainly big enough to grow into a watchdog, right? Hubby caved, and we adopted our Morgan.
We soon discovered that Morgan was a border collie/toy shepherd mix. The vet said she would grow up to look like a dingo (he was sooo right).
I worried about Morgan as a puppy – she was feisty and an ankle-nipper. Given a command, she would think about it, and if it made sense to her, only then would she comply. Memories of Majick haunted me. There were times I thought I would have to return Morgan to the SPCA.
Until the day, she tried the same stunt that ended Majick’s residence with us. Morgan jumped up on me, and I told her to get down. She did. But she sat there eyeing me with a certain gleam in her eyes. Then she butted me again, more forcefully. I told her, more forcefully, to sit. She sat … and she stayed. I petted her with tears in my eyes and told her what a good puppy she was – I knew she would be a good dog after all.
However, hubby was unhappy with Morgan even though he loved her. He wanted a big dog. A few months later, he came home from work and said he had called our vet and had the name of a reputable German Shepherd Dog breeder not too far from us. I cried – I was NOT giving up my Morgan. He assured me we were simply getting a SECOND dog.
And so, we purchased our Riggsie. I don’t remember Riggsie ever causing any problems as a puppy, probably because Morgan took over part of his training. If he did something bad, she would nip his heels or his butt. She loved to jump on top of him – until the day she jumped on him in the yard, and he simply stood up, and there she was on his back, feet hanging down on either side of him as he pranced around the perimeter. At six months, he had already grown to three times Morgan’s size.
Riggsie did his job. He became a really big, intimidating looking dog. If he stood on his hind legs, he was taller than me. The joke in our house was that when my girls began dating, those young gentlemen would have to make friends with Riggsie first. Some boyfriends did, some didn’t.
Eventually all pets grow old and leave us. It is very hard to lose a pet, no matter how small or big. For a short period of time, we had an empty house – the children all grown and gone, and only fish to keep me company.
And now we have Puppy Cody – the star of this blog. You can read her adoption story here, if you have not already done so.
Would I do it all differently if I could go back in time? Probably not. I loved each and every one of the critters who have lived in my home.
How about you – will there be any four-legged living presents under your tree this year?
Images by Cordelia’s Mom