If you follow this blog, you know I have been in a really lousy mood lately. I’ve been pondering mortality. The loss of a hard working dog and a sweet old horse has got me feeling particularly cold and dark this winter.
I’m usually pretty good at picking myself up, but this time it’s a lot to lift. I started doing that thing that sad people do late at night on the internet- I started cruising dog rescue websites. I have a confession, I’m attracted to a certain body type. And yes, I like being herded.
Adopting a rescue dog is a strange combination of online dating and an arranged marriage. You pick a picture and profile of someone you like, but it isn’t up to you. There’s an application with references, and you list your past relationships and how they ended. And who you live with now, and how they feel would feel about a new pack member. The dog’s rescue acts as a protective mother/matchmaker.
There was a very irresistible old corgi matron with a chunk out of an ear and only one eye in Kansas. She had a list of ailments a mile long, and a cocky tilt to her head- she was a pirate corgi with a certain grace. Adopting older dogs has big rewards, but it wasn’t right for me this time.
Finally I saw him. He was in Wyoming. He and his brother were living like frat boys with a suburban family with young kids. Too much barking, too much partying, too much detention in the crate- it was a vicious circle. The brothers went to rescue, truly from too much love, with broken hearts on all sides. And the Matchmaker already had my application.
Road Trip! My friend, Linda and I headed north, fueled by caffeine and dog passion. We pulled into the Applebee’s in Cheyenne and there he was, acting contrite and nervous, showing a little too much belly and trying way too hard to please. There’s an argument that neither the Corgi Boy or I are all that discerning, but whatever. It was love at first sight.
In the car on the way home the Corgi Boy changed his name to Walter. Since deciding to become a contributing member of society, an alias was in order. A few treats and some sweet talk and it was Walter, Walter, Walter.
Walter is working with me in the truck now. He’s making new dog friends. There’s a claw mark on an ear, the curiosity about the cats is answered. Walter is exhausted. Relentlessly herding me is a full-time job, but he’s lost track of a few humans lately and he’s not about to take his eyes off me.
His bad habits? We don’t notice Walter barking so much. He frequently makes a deep quacking noise, the Dude Rancher does a good impression of it. And Walter lets out a yodel over the prairie when inspired. Not much barking though.
He’s developing a taste for beet pulp. Yes, it’s horse feed, and in frigid weather, I soak a bucket of it in the bathtub. Yesterday I heard a noise; he managed to lob himself over the edge of the tub and landed high centered over the top of the bucket. His feet were too short, he was stuck wiggling. In his defense, he showed not one shred of guilt as I lifted him off. He’s settling in just fine.
I know that he’s herding me close partly because he misses his family in Wyoming. I think he knows I’m missing family, too. It’s like this in midlife, we’re all adjusting to change and loss.
Dog rescue is a lot like horse rescue. They come in all ages, purebreds and mixed breeds. Some were not cared for and some are given up with great reluctance. Each one is an individual life with a unique story. Each one is willing to rescue you, you just have to ask.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.