Monday, December 5, 2016

The Dogs in My Life

I've always loved dogs.  I blame it on books, because I really had little to no interaction with dogs until I was in my teens.

But I grew up reading books by Jim Kjelgaard and Albert Payson Terhune, and I dreamed of someday having an Irish Setter of my own, just like Big Red...or a Collie like Lad of Sunnybank.  

When I was probably around 13 years old, my parents let me get a puppy from the shelter.  I named her Jewel, but called her Jewlie.  She was a Husky/German Shepherd mix.  Sadly, fictional books don't really prepare one for training a high energy puppy, and I returned Jewlie to the shelter within a couple months because she had begun to grow aggressive.  Looking back on it, I think that her aggression was probably due to boredom - we did take her on long daily walks, but I don't recall interacting much with her beyond that.  I still feel sad when I think of what a poor start I gave that little dog, but I've come to see the experience as a lesson - namely, that I need to have some idea of what I'm getting myself into when I take charge of an animal's life!  

I still wanted a dog.  Each of us kids was allotted a half hour of internet time a day back then, and if I recall correctly, I spent a lot of that time sighing dreamily over the available dogs in an Irish Setter rescue group.  

I think I was fourteen when I got into contact with a rescue coordinator in Maine who had three available dogs - an older male and female, and a male who was only 3 years old...perfect.  Dad and Mom graciously allowed me to give dog ownership another try.

This time it clicked.  

He came with the name "Wrinkles," and he weighed around 100 pounds - and he wasn't chubby!  He was a huge, goofy dog who produced long strings of drool and would steal food off the countertops...but I loved him.

I still didn't know much about training, but his easygoing, bumbling manner worked out okay in our family, and we did all right for four years.  He had a few behavior problems, but nothing I couldn't handle...the only problem was that I was the only one who really could handle those problems - and the time came for me to go to college.  

I didn't mind having a 100-pound dog that pulled on the leash - it gave me great biceps! - but it would be too dangerous for my Mom to walk him with her bad knees.  

I didn't mind giving Wrinkles a bath and clipping the fluffy fur on his back - but no one else wanted to do that job.  

I didn't mind taking Wrinkles on walks in the woods and letting him run off leash - but I hated to dump that responsibility onto my young siblings.

So, with a heavy heart, I contacted the rescue organization that had placed Wrinkles with me and told them that I believed it was in everyone's best interest to find him a new home that could give him the time and attention he deserved.

I don't feel guilty about rehoming Wrinkles - I believe that it was God's will, because all the details fell into place wonderfully.  For example, there was a lady in our area - with whom I was acquainted - who was looking for an Irish Setter.  She had another Setter to be Wrinkles' friend, she had long experience with the breed, and she had a fenced-in back yard.  She had the time and money to take good care of Wrinkles and really give him the wonderful senior years that he deserved.

So I didn't feel guilty...but I do admit to feeling more than a bit empty inside when Wrinkles climbed willingly into the back seat of Nancy's SUV and I watched the vehicle drive away.

That was over ten years ago.

I still live at home (working on that!!), and the deal was no more dogs until I had my own place...but then this past summer I talked to Dad and Mom (and other family members still at home) and told them that I'd found an amazing with kids...loyal...eager to learn - the Old Time Scotch Collie.  These were the kinds of dogs Albert Payson Terhune wrote about!

And guess what?  

There was a breeder just a few hours away with a litter of puppies!

The end result of that conversation: on September 17, 2016, this little furball came into my life.  

And wow, I am so glad I didn't get this puppy when I was younger!  As I've worked with Thane, I've needed every bit (and more!!) of canine experience and knowledge that I've accumulated the past fifteen years.

Actually, when I started this post, I intended for it to be all about Thane, but I think I'll save his story for another post.

We'll let this post stand as it is, a memorial to a long-ago puppy who I hope went on to be a great dog despite my shortcomings, and to a Big, Goofy, Red Dog who was my friend.  

1 comment:

  1. "Goofy" is definitely the right adjective for Wrinkles =P
    Did you ever hear about Jewlie after your time with her?