Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for the Best Decisions My Family Ever Made

I'm doing the A-to-Z Blog Challenge.

Today is letter "D," and D is for DOGS. (C was for cat. What did you expect?)

I never really classified myself as a dog person until we decided to adopt our first shelter dog in early 2006. That was the year that marked the beginning of incredible upheaval in my family.

It's when my husband quit drinking and started carving out a path to mental wellness. It was not an easy feat for him or those who lived with him.

I don't want to say Bruizer made it easier. (Coming home to find he'd eaten the TV remote or chewed the trim off of the wall in the kitchen required a great deal of patience.) But he definitely provided some much-needed comic relief and a sympathetic cold nose when the stress of the ordeal became overwhelming.

We adopted Bruizer as a puppy from a local shelter in February 2006. His poor momma -- Mama Cass, a Welsh-Corgi whose owners never activated her chip -- had been rescued from the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was suffering from Stage III Heartworm Disease by the time she and four other rescues arrived in my hometown.

The veterinarian took one look at Mama Cass's distended belly and thought it was a symptom of the disease. He never considered it might be puppy pudge (the canine equivalent of a baby bump).

Imagine the surprise of the handlers at the shelter when they performed a kennel check and discovered her with two puppies and a few more on the way.

Bruizer was NOT the runt of the litter. But, aside from his momma, he was the last dog left from the rescues that needed to find a furever home when we came looking. (Mama still had several weeks of treatment left and was not available for adoption.)

When I walked into the kennel to pick him up, he bounded around the corner and tripped over his big ol' paws. The moment I saw him slip on the tile floor and go ass-over-teakettle, I thought, That's my kindred spirit.

And he is.

We have so much in common. We both like long walks, long naps, sitting in the sunshine, eating pizza and nachos, and irritating the old man and kids when they're trying to relax.

Bruizer is everything anyone could ever want in a dog. He's gentle and smart and patient (and he no longer eats small appliances or pieces of the house).

Two Are Better Than One

You can never have too much of a good thing, right? That was the idea behind my husband and I searching for a fur-sib for Bruizer.

Last year before Valentine's Day, our poor pup began to show signs of mild depression. We blamed boredom and began considering adopting another furbaby.

That's when we heard about Ginger. The shelter from which we eventually adopted her warned us up front about her behavior.

She's a bit damaged. She didn't take too kindly to the dog catcher who caught her living under a shed in well-below-zero temperatures with a litter of five puppies, three of whom had succumbed to the awful conditions. She doesn't like men. She especially doesn't like men with glasses and hats. On the bright side, she is house trained. 

I'm not sure what kind of person -- a term I'll use loosely --  had poor Ginger before we got her, but I don't have many nice things to say about him or her.

Ginger may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but she is the most affectionate, love-starved critter I've ever known.

She keepers Bruizer on his toes. She greets us everyday after work with an inordinate amount of energy and overwhelms both my husband and I with hello snuggles when we finally sit down. (Okay, so she might have some boundary issues.)

Ginger still has her moments. The suspicious look on her face in the photo is something she maintains around all newcomers to our house, and she will not warm up to you if you insist on wearing a hat around her, a lingering symptom of her trauma I'd imagine.

She also has this tendency to squeeze her pudgy body beneath the wood of our back deck whenever we let her out to pee.

I always thought it was a peculiar and amusing obsession for a dog to have until my oldest daughter pointed out one heartbreaking possibility: "Do you suppose she's going under there looking for her puppies?" 

Ginger may have had a heartbreaking beginning to her life, but I'm glad she found her way into our family. It's nothing but Milk Bones and Piggy Poppers from here on out.

* * *

Ever wonder what might happen if a modern-day Cinderella story got crossed with an episode of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew? Find out in Kathryn Harris' contemporary novel, THE LONG ROAD TO HEAVEN.

No comments: