Dogs are great, but that doesn’t mean everyone should have one, especially young people whose lives are in flux.
That is why, when son Jack came home from a dog walk in the woods with friends and announced he was thinking of adopting a dog he just met, I was vehemently opposed. “Jack,” I said, “Dogs are needy. They need love, exercise, companionship, and they’re expensive. It is a lot of responsibility for a single man, in school, living alone in Ohio, whose career is in flux. Don’t do that to that dog! Leave him be and maybe an old lady will adopt him.”
Of course, he did it anyway.
A Mutt Named Queen
Against my advice, he brought the girl dog home for a trial run. She was incredibly shy, her tail was always down, and she looked at you sideways, out of the corner of her eye, watching but never meeting your eye straight on. I’ve seen that look before in abused children.
At the rescue shelter, they called her Queen. She and her siblings were abandoned behind a Walmart (Why does everything happen at Walmart?) when they were about six months old. Once rescued, the pups were kept together at the shelter. Soon, Queen’s siblings were adopted…but not her, probably because, in her online picture, she appears to be a little pit-bull-ish.
Again, she was left abandoned and forlorn.
Upon our first meeting, I was relieved to see that she looked like an any-kind-of-dog. She was well behaved, short haired, and a manageable size for apartment living. When I asked Jack what kind of dog he thought she might be, he jokingly called her an “Arkansas Brown Dog.” A perfect description of her; she is a little bit of everything.
The first day he had her, Jack renamed her “Rose,” to align with his PhD in horticulture, and I knew she was here to stay.
After 2 days of unconditional love and constant companionship from Jack, she began to come out of her shell and trust us. But it wasn’t until other dogs came around that we saw who Rose really was. Her tail went up, she frolicked, bounded, rolled, and almost appeared to smile. I’ve never seen a dog like other dogs so much. She must miss her siblings.
On the day Jack signed the adoption papers and paid his $50 fee, Rose quietly sat, cautiously using her sideways look to watch Jack and the lady from the shelter make the transaction. What was Rose thinking? “Here we go again, I’m being tossed out, rejected.”
Thirty minutes later, the lady left and Rose stayed. As Jack and his newly adopted dog came into the house and sat down, Rose knew, and we knew that she knew. I have never seen a dog hug their owner before, but I think that is what I saw. Rose rubbed the side of her face, like a cat, all over Jack’s whole body. Caressing as best she could his arms, legs, face, neck and sides. We laughed as he tried to get her to stop.
From that moment on, everything changed. Because she was no longer scared, she began looking us in the eyes and coming when called. She is a smart dog that now aims to please.
Sometimes Eating Crow Tastes Good
Though this blog has been about Rose’s good fortune, there has been good fortune for Jack, too. Who knew he needed a dog? I guess he did. The daily dog walks have been great for relieving stress from his intense PhD studies. The claim he made during his opening argument for adopting, “Dogs are great chick magnets,” is certainly true. And nothing pulls you out of yourself faster than service to another living thing.
Sure, Jack still has George- the perfect cat and low maintenance companion- but in the age of Covid-19 and social distancing, nothing beats coming home to a tail-wagging, so-happy-to-see-you greeting from a dog you saved and that, you could say, saved you.