My husband and I got our first puppy approximately six months after we were married. It wasn’t until years later that I learned getting a puppy at that particular point in a married life was a typical thing.
Get married, get settled, then…get puppy. “Futz” Roberts (so named by Mick after a tame wolf who used to hang out at a bar in Stillwater) was half Australian Shepherd and half Samoyed. He was the first dog of our hearts, and we loved him dearly. There are stories I could tell. Oh, there are definitely stories. But even now, I’m not ready to write them. I still miss him and he’s been gone for over ten years.
Our second dog was adopted a few months after Futzie died. I named him Bojangles because that week I happened to be in a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band mood. He was billed as “half Husky and Half shepherd” by the shelter, but he looked a little like a golden retriever. Except that he was brown. And, he had a spotted tongue like a Chow. Bojangles was a really sweet soul and he died too young. The urban legend we’ve created in our family is that Bo saved us from a poisonous snake he battled in our back yard at night that might otherwise have hurt us. It’s true that he was a great guard dog. And he would take on whatever animal happened to venture beyond the borders of our fence into his territory. And it’s true that we’ve discovered more than our share of poisonous snakes since we’ve lived here. However, we’re just not sure what really happened to our dog. One day Mick walked out into the back yard and thought Bo had been sleeping a little too long. He had. That was another sad, sad day.
Our next “group” of dogs was a motley crew, one of which was also a rescue Husky. His name was Joe E. Skimo. Truth be told, I’m wearing an Eskimo Joes sweatshirt as I’m writing this post. Clearly, we’ve taken a large and long drink of the Stillwater Kool-Aid. Joe E. died while I was in Oxford this past summer. I was heart broken because I couldn’t be with him when he got sick and said goodbye to our family. Joe E. talked probably more than any of our other dogs, and I miss his, “Woo-woo-woo” when I go outside to our back yard. The rest of the dog gang we had at the house included Dresden, who we got from the pound, and Minga (named after Gumby’s girlfriend) who we bought from what was probably a puppy mill. We found her being peddled from a cardboard box in the parking lot of a bank one Sunday afternoon.
Dresden was more frightened of thunder than any dog I’ve ever seen, and she would do anything, including hurting herself, in order to bust out of our yard when storms came along. Unfortunately, Minga followed her. And even more unfortunately, we live 1/2 mile from a shooting range used for training policemen and women in marksmanship skills…and…in explosives.
After probably the tenth time we had mended our fence, I remember getting a text from the City of Edmond warning those “who lived in our quadrant” there would be explosions during the morning between ten 10:00 a.m. and 11 a.m. I work nearly an hour away from our home and there wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it. I bowed my head knowing full well that she would find another way to get out because there was no one home to put her in the house or the garage until the explosions were over. The explosives were detonated, Dresden pulled the entire gate from the hinges on her way out that day, Minga followed her, and that was all we could take.
We had busted Dresden and Minga out of the pound one too many times. This time, they stayed. We began working with our contacts to try and find with them new homes. Minga was placed quickly and now has a new family. Dresden doesn’t. I check on her every day. She’s going to need a steel-reinforced fence or need to be full-time inside dog. After more than a thousand dollars in reinforcing our fence and gates, I know we can’t keep her. But I feel like a failure. I big, fat dog-owner failure. We had dogs my whole life while growing up at home, and we’ve had them for 25 years of marriage. I’ve never had to give one up before and I can’t stand how it feels. Click here to see Dresden (they’ve renamed her Jade, which was her shelter name when we initially adopted her). If anyone out there needs a very sweet dog who can stay INSIDE the house, she would be a treasure. An INSIDE treasure. I will even meet you over there to pay her adoption fee if you feel you can take her. Seriously.
(Update – May 4, 2011: Both dogs have been adopted by good homes now. Thanks for all the help and consideration!)
All this dog history brings me to today. Right now. We’ve been almost two months now without a dog and we now have a new member of our family. Her name is Tonks and she’s an Alaskan Malamute. “Tonks” was evidently a Harry Potter character who died quite heroically during the Battle of Hogwarts. Good thing Harry Potter is fiction and our family is real. She’s the first AKC registered dog we’ve ever owned. She’s the first dog we’ve ever paid more than $50 dollars for. And, right now, she’s pretty much just a big, soft, warm bundle of puppy fur. She’s so zonked from traveling to our house that when we take her outside for potty training sessions, she falls asleep in the grass.
And so, I’m introducing Tonks to you today because I have a feeling I’ll be writing about her again. In the meantime, keep Dresden in mind. We need to find her a new family – preferably one who lives in a fort.