Me and Stray Animals

I am not much of a dog person.

I have always been a cat person.

For many years I had a HUGE pure black, long haired cat. He had an attitude that is a lot like mine. Every major challenge I faced in my life, he was right there beside me. He just seemed to know when I needed him the most and would be right there bringing me comfort.

He also made it perfectly clear that our home really belonged to him, but he graciously allowed me to stay as his guest. He did not like other people. In fact he hissed at visitors and made a sound much like a dog growling. We made a good couple, because at that point in time, I also did not allow people in my life.

It just wasn’t worth the pain.

When he died, I vowed I would never again allow myself to become attached to another animal. People had already long since been on the “do not get attached list”.

Then Jack and I got together. I guess I just realized he was already my very best friend in life, and no matter how badly I behaved, he didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

We would rescue animals, keeping them only long enough to get them healthy and find them a home. I would not allow myself to become attached because I could not risk the pain of losing another “friend”.

Jack would tell me that when the right stray came along, I would not be able to keep them out of my heart, no matter how hard I tried.

One day a gorgeous blonde shepherd wandered into our lives. He had been badly abused and roaming the woods for quite some time. He was near starvation and needed a ton of recuperation time. He would require an unbelievable amount of time and attention before he would be ready for a real home. I didn’t even like dogs, let alone a male dog.

It took him all of about 5 seconds to work his way into my heart.

Unlike the other strays that seem to find their way to me long enough for me to find them a home, this one was already home.

We had the most wonderful 3 years with Wolfie that I could ever imagine. He made me understand why dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend. He followed Haley everywhere and was very protective of our property. He knew he was not allowed on my bed, so he would wait until I would fall asleep and then jump in. I would never admit that I had of course felt him jump in because that would admit that I was allowing a dog to sleep between us. It was pretty hard not to notice a 90 pound shepherd jumping in the middle of us though.

The day a truck veered off the road and killed him instantly, I was devastated.

I cried for so many days that my eyes actually swelled shut.

I was so angry with myself that I had allowed myself to once again be in this position of unbelievable pain.

It was then that I knew, I couldn’t ever do this again.

Jack patiently asked me if I would have given up even one moment of the time I had with Wolfie to prevent the pain. I knew that I would not have. Every moment Woflie was with us was a blessing, but it didn’t stop the pain.

Others would frequently say, just get another puppy.

Jack would explain to them, that the only answer was time. Another puppy simply was not Wolfie. I truly tried to let several stray puppies into my heart, but it was not fair to them, as I was not ready.

Jack would again patiently explain to me, that animals choose us, not the other way around. He told me that when the time was right, I would once again allow the right pet into our lives.

We continued to rescue many animals during that time, but none stayed longer than it took for us to get them healthy and adopted into a good home. I simply could not risk the pain.

Over time I began to remember Wolfie with laughter instead of tears.

On Monday, I kept hearing sounds near the shop. I went out several times to see if the raccoons were getting themselves into trouble, but couldn’t find anything. This repeated itself several times.

I went out one last time just to make sure they hadn’t gotten themselves hung up in the equipment, or if a ‘possum had wandered down the hill.

Suddenly I realized there was a drop dead gorgeous full blooded Brindle Pit Bull laying under the utility trailer we use for hauling equipment. She seemed exhausted and very hungry.

I told her, “Look, I will find you some scraps in the house, but I am not going through this again. You can’t stay here, but I promise to find you a good home”.

She looked up at me with these eyes that were trying desperately to find comfort.

I said, “Oh for crying out loud. Fine, I will go buy you some dog food, but you are not coming in the house, and you are NOT staying!!!!”

I went to town to pick up some dog food. When I returned she was still under the utility trailer but her tail was thumping back and forth, so I figured she could stay long enough to get a full tummy, but she was not coming in the house and she was NOT staying.

It started getting dark. I looked out the window several times. She had not eaten, nor had she come out from under the utility trailer.

“OH FOR PETE SAKES!”

“Okay, you can come in the house, but you are not staying!!!”

She followed me everywhere I went in the house. While I worked on the computer she was laying across my feet.

“Okay you miserable mutt.  Just don’t get too comfortable because you are NOT staying!!”

Jack came home and really didn’t give it much thought. He went to the kitchen where we keep our vet supplies and started treating her. First a gentle bath, treatment for all the things strays have, from massive ticks to worms, and started her on heart worm medication. It was nearly 5 am before he was satisfied that he had done all he could do for her for the night.

She came back to where I was working and once again laid across my feet.

Jack mentioned that a 50 pound bag of dog food was quite a bit for a dog that wasn’t staying. I said yeah, but I wasn’t sure how long it was gonna take him to get her healthy and find a good home for a pit.

He smiled at me and said, ummm, Baby? Looks to me like she is already home.

I said, “SHE IS NOT STAYING!”

He said okay baby.

I made her a perfect bed for a dog in by the fireplace.

Finally we crawled in bed for the night. Within a few minutes she was standing next to the bed. I said, “Okay mutt, now listen to me. You are not getting in my bed and you are NOT staying!”

She looked up at me with these sad eyes that tore at my heart.

About 30 minutes later, as I drifted off to sleep she suddenly jumped in the bed between us. Jack quietly said, “I told ya she is already home.”

All checking for her owner seems to lead to another tourist dumping their dog at the boat landing that borders our property.

Her name is Sassy now, and she is home.

 

Thanks For Being A Part Of My Life!

Cricket Walker

Update 2007: In the time following the writing of this short story, I have learned to trust stray animals, but not men – go figure. (grin)

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