Tag Archives: dog

Woman’s Best Friend – 90 Pounds of Pure Love

I am on the road with my beautiful dog, Shelby the Wonder Shepherd.  She is not only my best friend, there have been times over the last few months when I have felt like she was my only friend.

I moved 1300 miles from my friends and family last fall.  To say that I was lonely would be an understatement.  I had a particularly bad time over the holidays.  Sure, I kept busy with a new job and working on our new digs, but I missed my sons, grandchildren, friends, and even my grandpuppies, Sampson and Bosco.

I decided, in the last week of 2010 to see about getting a pet, a rescued animal if possible, but at the very least, a shelter animal.  I visited the local shelter, which was full of Rottweilers and Pit Bulls of various ages, but none that were a perfect match.  I picked up a card for a German Shepherd Rescue organization.  I visited their website and asked that they keep me in mind for future adoptions.  I received an e-mail within seconds.  Seems they had an adoptee who was eligible that very day after completing her long, arduous treatment for heartworm.  We made arrangements to meet Suzy Q, as she had been named, on New Year’s Eve.  We had to be interviewed and filled out several applications.

Suzy Q was thin, with a patch of hair shaved from her back where her heartworm treatments had been administered.  She was pretty lethargic.  She had obviously had a litter of puppies recently, and she looked and acted scared.  Not shivering, hulking down scared – but uncertain about everyone and everything.  Except me.  She bounded up to me and kissed me generously.  I knelt and buried my face in the fluffy hair around her ruff.  It was not only a Kodak moment – it was magical.

Sweet Cheeks and I went home and gave the idea of bringing Suzy Q home with us a lot of thought.  There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that she was the one I wanted, but owning an animal that is nearly the size of a small horse is not a decision to be entered into lightly.  We had been pet-less for many years due to my traveling position and his general dislike of being tied down by animals.  Our yard was adequate but not fenced.  Our home was small and perhaps a little crowded, but yet seemed so empty.  We agreed to bring the dog into our home, but I refused to call such a magnificent animal Suzy Q.  She became Shelby, the Wonder Shepherd. I wanted to name her Cybil Shepherd, but that name had already been used.

Shelby was a nervous girl for the first few days in our home, patrolling relentlessly around and around the open kitchen/dining room/living room circuit.  She barked at night at every sound.  She did not relax for even a second during those first few weeks.  Every motion by humans in her vicinity was met with flinching on her part – every broom or mop brought out for cleaning caused her to slink away and hide.  What had this dog been subjected to?  How did she come to be abandoned?  What became of her puppies?

With her history a question mark, we began to chart her future.  Shelby excelled at the obedience classes we enrolled her in.  We began exercising (she had been crated for 4 weeks during her heartworm treatment – coming out only for feeding and taking care of her “business”). She could barely walk 20 feet without distress, but we kept at it, adding a few yards each day.  Soon she was walking blocks, and finally miles without problems.  Her hair grew in, and her coat became lustrous after hours of brushing, bathing and grooming.  Shelby began to trust not only us, but herself.  She relaxed at last – sleeping for long stretches, often lying on her back and exposing her belly during sleep – so vulnerable.  She is still easily overwhelmed, but can be calmed easily.

We began taking Shelby everywhere we went – dog friendly restaurants, beaches, parks, festivals – in an attempt to get her and keep her comfortable around people.  We are working at being comfortable around other animals.  She gets lots of attention – and is always very well behaved.  Shelby could not sleep outside her crate, however.  She could not settle down at night enough to sleep.  Finally, after a couple of evenings of non-stop pacing and jumping up at every sound, she began sleeping on the floor next to my side of the bed, checking on me every few hours, then lying back down with a whoosh.  Now she sleeps wherever she likes in the house, but still makes periodic checks to ensure Mama is still sleeping.

I am filled with love for this animal who is always so glad to see me.  Even my worst days are made better by her devotion to me.  If I am home, she is by my side – always within petting distance, attentive to every word.  I put a magnet on my car from the organization that managed our adoption.  It reads “Who Rescued Who?”

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Grandma – Rest in Peace

When I left you last, I was on day 3 of what turned out to be a 4 day migraine. https://k8edid.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/the-pain-in-my-head-is-a-pain-in-the-arse-and-wheres-the-pizza/

On Day 3 I received word that my grandmother was in the hospital and not expected to live.  You may be asking yourself “Self, what is that woman with an AARP card doing with a Grandmother still alive?”  Good question.

Grandma became a grandma at an early age when her only child (my stepfather) married my mother, who had 2 small children.  She was probably 38 or so at the time (my head is still tender and math is beyond me at this point).  I was saddened by the news, and then received another phone call – Grandma had, indeed, gone toward the light.  This presented a dilemma to me as I received a 3rd phone call.  The service for Grandma was going to be held on Saturday and I was 1300 miles away.

I had planned on driving north on Saturday, and by my calculations I could not even jump immediately into the car to reach my destination in time for her memorial.  Never mind that I had a migraine and could possibly kill myself and others by even attempting a long-distance trek such as that.  I did what any prudent migraine sufferer would do, I popped some pills and went back to bed.

The next morning I debated (as well as I could with a throbbing head and nausea washing over me) about just proceeding with my plans for travel and missing the service or flying to the Midwest, attending the service and flying home, only to turn around and drive north within a few days…..What to do, what to do?  In the end, I decided to pay my respects.  I booked a flight, arranged a rental car and packed what I could manage given the state of my head (and mind).  I am surprised I actually ended at my destination given that I couldn’t see or think straight at the time and was under the influence of powerful drugs. I am also amazed that I remembered to pack underwear and medications, and even managed a suitable outfit.

I loved my grandmother; she didn’t treat me differently because I was a step-granddaughter.  She pretty much treated everyone the same – and that is not to say that she was sweet to everyone (or really – sweet to anyone).  She wasn’t a cuddly, loving grandmother – although she could be on rare occasion.  She often had a sharp tongue and shrill voice.  She didn’t want people making a mess in her immaculate house.  She was stubborn and opinionated, and looked out for Number One.  She feuded with family members and at the time of her only child’s death, was not on speaking terms with him.  My grandchildren loved her, none-the-less and I took them with me on my visits.

I gave my grandmother monthly injections of Vitamin B-12.  Once when I was giving her the injection, she yelled loudly.  I was mortified – every month she received her injection without a sound.  Turns out she was only trying to scare my 2 grandchildren who had accompanied me on that day.  She thought it was hilarious – and often retold the story.  I did not see the humor – but it was classic Grandma.

One Christmas Day I went to see Grandma with my younger son, Lefty,  in tow.  She met me at the door and said “Duke is dead”.  Duke was her elderly dog – and sure enough, he lay dead in a box, covered with a blanket she had crocheted.  She asked us to bury the dog for her.  Lefty gathered a few tools from the garage, a pick axe, a shovel and proceeded to the back yard where Grandma had a sort of pet cemetery.  Lefty could not budge the frozen earth and he and I took turns with the pick ax chipping away molecules at a time until a hole was big enough to hold the dog, the blanket and the box (but only if we smashed the box in).  Neither Lefty nor I were dressed for sub-zero outdoor work and our fingers froze to the pick handle.  After many hours of pick work, we managed a shallow grave and unceremoniously shoved the box and contents into the hole.  We covered the crumpled box, tamped the frozen earth back into place and drug our shivering selves into Grandma’s always superheated home.  She was bawling uncontrollably and we (almost) felt bad about our treatment of her departed companion.

Lefty and I laughed about that incident on the day of her service.  I stayed a few more days and made a few more memories with my grandchildren.  I pray one day they will remember me fondly.  And bury my dog if needed.

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