She was at the shelter, behind chain-link. On either side of her were hounds, doing what hounds do–baying frantically at everything. She sat there, patiently suffering, and looked up as I approached as if she’d been waiting to hear my footsteps. Our gazes met, and she cocked her head. Can we go home now, please? This is noisy.
“Oh, honey,” I murmured, crouching down at the door to her cubby. “Yes. Certainly.” And she licked my fingers through the chain-link.
A year ago I brought her home. She was sick and shaky, uncertain and frightened. But she licked my hand when I petted and soothed her, and settled in the crate I’d set up in my bedroom. She lay down with a sigh, only hauling herself up to come check on me when I was forced to wander away and deal with other things around the house.
The first night was hard on us both. Everything was new for her, plus her stomach was upset. She’d been spayed at the shelter, the lingering anesthesia made her unstable. Every time I carried her thirty-five pounds outside (and got dog effluvia all over my robe for my trouble, since she couldn’t hold it, poor thing) she nestled in my arms and rested her head on my shoulder. She whined a little until I could get her to take the pain reliever, and each time she threw up (or worse) on my bed or in her crate she would look apologetic and I would reassure her it was all right. You’ve had a hard day, sweetheart. Just relax. And I would drag something else to the washer.
She recovered quickly. By dawn the next morning she was looking for ways to earn her keep. I’ll sit. I’ll stay. I’ll herd the cats. Just tell me what you want me to do! She gave new meaning to the term “dogging one’s footsteps.” It’s like having a toddler again, I said, you even have to pee with an audience.
When she was fully recovered we went running. She settled in like she’d been doing it all her life. The trainer who came out said “I’ve rarely seen a pair so attuned as you guys.” I grinned and she leaned against me, watching intently.
She’s a cautious soul, sometimes finicky. Standoffish with new people, and it took a while to let her know that she didn’t have to greet every newcomer with a snarl. (That is, after all, my job.) Smart, tenacious, stubborn, loving, eager to please, willing to do anything I ask as soon as she understands the request. I can sleep more easily at night, knowing her ears will perk at the slightest breath of sound. She’s chased away all manner of terror, and when she rolls over and offers her belly for scratching it’s with complete, abandoned trust.
A year ago, she came home for good. The instant we met, I couldn’t imagine living without her. She’s my girl.
Happy Homecoming Day, Miss B. May we have many more.
If you’d like to mark Miss B’s Homecoming, pop on over to the Southwest Washington Humane Society and kick in a couple bucks. They can always use the help.