Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lost: One Stray Owner

Looking foolish next to the tree in a one o'clock rain: 

umbrella aloft, the leash in my other hand- 

I wanted my late-coming neighbor to understand 

that dogs are worth the expense, inconvenience, and pain;
their tails are truthful, no coiled rebellion beneath 
a loving look; they are quick to kiss you, and quick 

to fetch for you, and-should you raise a stick 

threateningly-they are quick to show their teeth;

and better still (but this I never revealed),
when you bring downfall home, the death of a hope, 

their nonchalant manner does more for you than a drink; 

and best of all, when triumph's to be unsealed, 

such lack of respect they show for the envelope, 

-your fingers halt, the brain cools, and you think.

                                    Dogs in Rumshinsky’s Hat and House of Buttons by Aaron Kramer

She was really my first ever dog.  Sure I had childhood ones but they were family dogs; I couldn’t really claim ownership.  I always had cats.  Every size, shape, personality and color.  One even got me kicked out of my dormitory in college.  I was such a rebel.

The decision to get a dog was an easy one.  I was working nights and home alone during the day with my developmentally delayed daughter.  It was lonely, scary and I needed company. Her thrice weekly physical, occupational and speech therapists were often the only adult contact during the day.  I looked into therapy dogs or near therapy dogs-the ones that don’t quite make the top tier- but the wait was at least three to four years.  I am patient but not that patient.

I knew I wanted a Labrador.  Their temperament and the short hair had a certain appeal.  And I knew I couldn’t handle a puppy.  Blessed be the various Labrador Rescue websites. I inquired about one dog, a “gentle giant” but he was already promised to another family.  Weeks went by when another dog popped up.  Her name not only described her coat color but also a popular "fireside alcoholic drink”. She apparently had puppies at one point and was found wandering the streets. 

I quickly called the foster mother.   She described that she was a sheer delight in the house with her other two larger male dogs but she was alpha to those beta males. That had a certain appeal. The boys always allowed her to eat first.  She was a snuggler, gentle but protective of children.  Also good with cats. But then she said the magic words “I’m going to miss her.”

I drove the 100 miles to “just see” under the pretense that I had a medical conference to attend.  The minute I saw her and she me I knew she was the one.  The whole love at first sight thing I guess. I should be so lucky with men. Her coming over to put her head on my lap sealed the deal. Her middle name became “Nana” like the dog in Peter Pan.  I needed someone to watch over me.

We had eight and one half wonderful years together. I never doubted her intelligence or allegiance to my children or me.  It hurt that my husband never petted her. 

She trained our new puppy a year and a half ago.  She had that motherly instinct.  My puppy seems lost without her now and often wanders the house with a rawhide bone in her mouth looking for her fellow chewing companion. I wander around the house often in the same way.

I am a lost stray owner now.  I go to lab adoption fairs but no one yet has picked me.  Still looking for my next best labby friend. Her middle name too will be “Nana.”

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