I Have A Dream…

… that before I die, no-kill shelters will be the rule rather than the exception, and will therefore actually deserve the name, ‘shelter’.  I take my vitamins every day so that I can live long enough to see it.  😉

I said I would treat myself to a big dog day in honor of this holiday, and I did.  First, as soon as I’d put the dogs’ breakfast on to cook and I had my coffee mug in hand, I started searching for a dog for the lady from the park, my former employer.  I need a name for her…she will be Creative Educator, or CE, from now on.  I started looking at albums of adoptable dogs on Facebook, with two things in mind:  the desiderata she’d given me, and my memory of her beloved dog, who’d passed away at a ripe old age, leaving her, after a long period of mourning, in the ‘market’ again.  Here’s what was in my mind:

1)  CE’s beloved dog was a Collie-type dog mixed with a Rottweiler, and she wants to keep to that, so I was looking for a dog who’s at least half herder–a Border Collie or an Aussie, or another dog like that–with the other half being a dog with quite a different type of mind.  I know CE wants, and will properly appreciate, a highly intelligent dog, but I know she prefers a mix of intelligence styles, and doesn’t want a full Border Collie–she wants a more ‘well-rounded student’.  😉

2)  Because CE has suffered a little hearing loss, loud sounds bother her a bit, especially high-pitched loud sounds, so she’d prefer to have a dog who doesn’t bark excessively.  And if it does want to bark a lot, at least, she said, let it be nothing like the bark of a Rough-Coated Collie like Lassie, which is surprisingly high.  I know this because I can remember the Lassie show, which was my most favorite 

OH!  I interrupt my train of thought for a memory.  Dear Dad, this one’s for you.  I’ve been wondering lately just how you instilled this deep love of dogs in me while I was still learning to walk, and I’ve just realized one of the ways.

Every week, we would gather around the TV to watch Lassie.  My Dad, brother, and I (my sister was yet to arrive) were glued to it, and I seem to remember Mom coming in and out.  At the end, Dad and I, and, I think, my brother, would get down on the floor on all fours, and lift our ‘forepaw’ back at Lassie as she did it.  Holy cow–in fact, now that I think more about it, Dad always called our hands, ‘forepaws’!  Wow, he really was a dog nut–cool!  Writing this blog makes me think of things that would have lain buried, otherwise, and it makes me notice things differently, too.  OK, back to CE’s list… 

I have a much more recent reminder of how high a Collie’s bark can be, since my near neighbors have a very handsome and loving purebred Collie named Laddie, and all three of the family are our friends.  I took care of Laddie for almost two weeks this summer, which was a wonderful walk down memory lane for me.  The very first dog I owned who was my dog was Amber Laurie, a purebred Collie (please forgive us for not adopting–we’d had a very sad experience when a beloved kitten we’d adopted from the shelter died of distemper, and I’m sure my parents desperately wanted nothing to go wrong this time).  I think I’ll interrupt myself again…

I was twelve, and it was the day of sixth grade graduation.  I’d been the six-grader chosen to give the ‘valedictory speech’.  I had a new dress for the occasion, and–and this was the thing I was really focused on–white patent leather shoes!  I’d been begging for patent leather shoes for ages, and not getting them.  So that day was a big deal.  My speech went perfectly–sheesh, how could it not have?–my mother made me practice it a million times, bless her heart, and listened to it every time, and gave me helpful suggestions about projecting my voice and enunciating clearly and emphasizing certain words, all of which were right on the money, since she’d helped me write it…helped me, yeah, right)–and I got two or three awards, too.  One of these was the Citizenship Award, for being a good citizen of the classroom, helping other kids, etc.   For years, my mother mocked me for this.  She’d expected my other awards, but not this one.  She honestly couldn’t imagine, considering my intractability at home, that I’d be cooperative elsewhere.  Until I went to college, anytime I mouthed off to her she threw the Citizenship Award in my teeth.  She got very creative with this, in fact, and made up a song about it, or, part of a song.  The words went like this:

‘Pauline (my sixth-grade teacher was Pauline Wagatha–funny name, but she was awesome), you’ve made a mistake,  And from ‘cellopets’ you ought to take, The Citizenship Award’…my mother has a lovely singing voice, but this song I could have lived without. 

You know, since I’m in this vein, let me exorcise this little ditty I just remembered.  Here’s the song she sang to me as a newborn, with a syllabically-correct pseudonym substituted for my own name:

‘Ten minutes with Laura Caroline,  Can get to be like an eternity.  So you see what it must be like,  To be with Laura Caroline all through the night,  To be with Laura Caroline all night’.  At least this one had a very pretty melody and a cool rhythm.  But still…

Anyway, back to my graduation story.  It was a big day for me, and she was singing no songs that day–I was persona grata.  We got home, I took off my dress and my white patent leather shoes, and I was kind of disappointed, because you expect more, from such a special day.  Then my parents gave me a card of graduation congratulations, and inside was a fifty dollar bill.  I thanked them politely, knowing that it would join all the other gifts in the ‘college fund’.  Ho hum.  Then my Mom said, ‘Why don’t you take a look in the newspaper?’

The newspaper?  Well, OK, I guess I can do that, if you want me to.  I was an avid reader, although not, so much, of the paper.  I sat down to read.  I read for awhile, and then, with a funny face, she said, ‘Why don’t you look in the classifieds?’  The classifieds?  Cooperative as ever (she was quite wrong–I was generally cooperative even at home), I went to the classifieds, and found an ad which almost stopped my heart:  ‘Collie puppies, $50’

Oh, I’d been begging for so long; at the very least, for three solid years!  I could hardly believe it!  But it was true, breathtakingly, magically true, and we went and chose Amber, because she nipped at our heels (all the books would advise against that, by the way, proving to me at a young age that you can’t believe everything you read in dog adoption books).

She wasn’t quite ready to leave her mother, but after our weeklong summer trip, we went and brought her home.  I spent every minute of the day with her until I was sure she understood I was hers and she was mine–not my mother’s, my father’s, my brother’s, or my sister’s.  It took about two days.  🙂  Around then, my mother remarked, ‘Well, it’s pretty obvious whose dog that is’, and then I relaxed slightly.

I remember distinctly one gorgeous sunny day.  She and I were lying in the grass in the ‘back acre’, just being together.  I lay on my back, and she leaned over me, and I saw the blue sky through the feathers of fur on her ears, and I was so grateful that there could be such a dog and that she could be mine and that we could be together in the sun on such a day.  It was always like that…

My, I did love that dog.  Amber Laurie, Scotch Collie.

I wasn’t one of those kids who promise to take care of the dog or the cats or the gerbils, and then forget about it.  I never forgot, and even my mother, my severest critic, would attest to that.  I never forgot.  That’s something I wouldn’t mind having on my headstone.

I need to get back to my list.  Too many memories, too much emotion, too many ones I’ve loved who are dead now, dogs and people both.

So, to sum up, 2) on CE’s list is, no high-pitched Collie barking.

3)  The dog needs to have no problems with aggression whatsoever, because he/she is going to be more like a child than a dog, accompanying CE and her husband everywhere, into all kinds of situations.  As a rescuer, ya gotta love hearing that.  🙂

4)  The dog should be athletic and love exercise–long walks especially, since CE and her dog used to spend one to two hours per day walking at the park, and I can vouch for that.  But he/she shouldn’t turn into a basket case without exercise, either, in case circumstances mean that there has to be a break in routine.

5)  The dog should be somewhere around one or two years old.

6)  If possible, CE and her husband would love a long-coated dog, but this is nowhere near as important as the other five items on the list so far.

7)  And the last item is, to me, the most important.  CE wants another ‘spirit dog’ to accompany her on this part of her life journey, to fill the hole left in her heart by the loss of the spirit dog she has recently mourned.  I would find it very hard to write here what ‘spirit dog’ means (and I won’t even try); yet I understand perfectly.  You love every dog who lives with you, but not every dog is a spirit dog.  Burberry, for instance, is a spirit dog.  Dingo was a spirit dog, and Jumper.  Pito was a spirit dog (he’s yet to be named here, but he was supremely important in my life).  Amber was a spirit dog.  I’ll think about who else was, tonight in bed.  Anyway, I had a specific idea of what kind of dog would be a spirit dog for CE.

So these things were in my mind as, coffee #1 infusing my brain cells and coffee #2 in hand, I went hunting.  This is who I found.

Annie, one-year-old Aussie/Catahoula mix

Well, when last I edited this post I had no idea of how I could find out more about Annie.  Then I posted a link to this blog entry on my Facebook page.  And now I have names and phone numbers for shelter volunteers, a fax number for the actual shelter employee, an offer of help to pull Annie, and two suggestions for transport.  I had planned to write about several other dog topics at length, but I’m very tired, after focusing for so long on Annie.  I will write the Annie update tomorrow.  And here’s the other news, in brief:

Grace is so much better today that right now, just behind me, she is barking at me to come to bed, just like the old days.

TA is completely delighted with Renard, henceforth to be known as Petey (or Petie–I will ask her how she spells it).  And I’d bet a lot of money that he is delighted with her, too.  And she’ll start to be a little more OCD about his needs–in fact, she already has.  If ever I start to feel like a failure, I’ll remind myself of this canine/human matchmaking I did, and cheer myself up.  Because, if I say so myself, it was damned good for my first try, and I had almost nothing to go on, except for two pictures of him, coupled with a decent knowledge of breed characteristics and a lifelong habit of trying to guess which breeds were mixed in the mutts I met.

Giovanni and Jiminy have continued to cement their bond of friendship by crazy, puppy-like play.  It’s adorable, and no one would believe that Jim is fifteen years old.  I wouldn’t believe it myself, if I hadn’t had him almost the whole time.  He makes me very happy.  Amazingly, he’s getting more and more affectionate and cuddly each day, lately.  After all these years, who’d have thought he could surprise me so much?

I’m trying to accustom Simo to being picked up and held in my lap.  Progress will be slow there, I can tell.  He was stiff as a board today.  I’ll keep you posted.  I just told him I was writing about him and he came for a kiss.  I’ll go and cover him, in just a minute.

Charlotte, P.D.Z, Giovanni, and Burberry are being driven mad tonight by the deer who must be just over the fence.  My neighbors may be driven mad by what the dogs have to say about the deer.  I believe it’s a full moon tonight, or almost full, and it’s been very cold, so I’m sure the deer are foraging longer hours than usual.  I locked the dog door last night, because I was very afraid that Grace or Annie Belle would go out and not be able to come back in, and because of the deer excitement, and I’ll do it again tonight. 

Beloved F wrote me, happiness and relief coming through the ether, that Augustine, the dog she’d been worrying about, has found a foster home. 

I had a very interesting and informative talk with the head of a Pit Bull rescue here in town.  I was very impressed by her experience, and am glad to know her.  It is she who rescued the little dumpster dog in my entry, ‘Close To Home’, although I didn’t know her yet, when I wrote that–it’s part of how I came to know her, in fact.  She gave me the great news that, not only is the dog doing wonderfully at her foster home, but she’s already gotten at least one adoption application for the dog that looks good, so she’ll have a forever home very soon.

And last, but so not least, is that I met the famous Clarisse today, and she really is a sweetheart of a Pit Bull.  She will have a couple of little issues, and strange things may set her off for a while, but after seeing her in Maureen’s happy, cozy home, I have no doubt that they’ll work everything out. 

To help them, I was able to enlist the help of a budding dog trainer who has a real gift.  This woman is an Earth mother, a dog goddess, and a calm and gentle person, and she has Pit Bulls of her own.  She helped the rescue group for which I used to foster, and she helped me with my Sadie.  This woman, whom from now on I’ll call Dog Goddess, or DG, will meet with Maureen and the family tomorrow, and,  I’m positive, will have insight and knowledge to offer. 

I also left an excellent book with Maureen, a Christmas gift I received from my cat-fanatic friend Cindy, someone I’ve known since we were ten or eleven years old (the year before Mrs. Wagatha gave that award to the wrong kid).  I’m sure I’ll write much more about Cindy, especially since it doesn’t rain but it pours, and almost immediately after CE asked me to find her a dog, the mom of one of my cello students asked me to find them two cats.  I can’t wait to write you the details of that request–I found it funny and fascinating.  The book Cindy gave me is about caring for, training, and loving shelter dogs, especially older ones who may have had bad experiences.  It’s written by a vet, and I’ve found excellent advice in it, always in the dog’s best interest. 

I’m really quite relieved about the Clarisse situation.  And so, as a kind of nightcap, here’s a link to a photo of Clarisse in her new coat, a hand-me-down from Maureen’s daughter:


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One Response to I Have A Dream…

  1. Maureen says:

    Awwww……too sweet!

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