Thursday, February 3, 2011
I'm going to cry as I write this post...but they're happy tears so...so be it. :)
As those of you who know me personally know, I love my dog. He's been my rock for years. Living in NYC with no family near, as a single female, chasing an artistic dream in a city this big is rough. And when I got this fuzzy little ball of fluff there was no way I could know how important he'd become to my mental health as I reached my late 30's...mainly because at the time I had no idea I'd be moving to NYC...but life changes, right?
Anyhoo...I feel like telling his story today because...well...because he deserves it after the year he's had. :) SO here goes...
One day each weekend my boyfriend at the time, JJ, and I were in the habit of looking at puppies. We'd been together for just about two years and now that I wasn't teaching I had time for a dog. So, one summer weekend we went in the adopt-a-pet in Rock Hill, SC and there in the middle of the room was this baby's play-pen full of this litter of fuzzy black things bouncing about. I remember I reached in and picked one up. He was small enough to cradle in my arms and he had a little white fur spot in the center of his chest and between the pads of his front paws.
As the story goes, I picked him up and carried him about on his back like a baby--rubbing his belly and looking at other dogs. I even said the name "Keziah" to him and his ears picked up and he looked at me knowingly. But, cause I have always loved huskies I put this little black ball of fuzz back in his pen for a bit and went to go hold the husky puppy. But it wasn't the same. No connection. I put him back in his cage and went back to the baby play-pen and looked for the one with the white between his toes.
There were about eight or so of these things bouncing about the pen like crazy children on meth...except one. One who knew he no longer needed to impress anyone...one who knew his "mum" had already picked him...one who was relaxed in the corner laying on his back all stretched out sleeping...one with white fur between his toes.
"I want that one," I told the lady. "But I don't get paid until Friday." It wasn't the $35 fee for him I couldn't swing, it was the vet visit he'd need that same weekend that I was needing to pay for that caused my need for a week long wait.
Thankfully she said, "No problem," and went to get a collar.
I reached down and picked up the lazy boy and when his eyes opened up and looked at me that jaw opened and he smiled like, "I knew you'd be back."
The woman put a pink collar on him (poor guy) and said she'd hold him until Saturday. I spent the next week at my poorly paying temp job ($10 an hour at the time if I remember correctly) studying about Border Collies...cause that's what they told me he was...and a week later, excited to own my first dog, I went and got him. I remember him licking me when we got in the car and I said, "His tongue is so soft!" I'd only had cats before so hence my ignorance.
I was doing a play at the time...Shakespeare in the Park...and took him to the show. He peed center stage as we got notes. Yep...that's my boy! But what was interesting was that someone saw him running about and said, "Oh, you got a lab puppy!" And that's when I realized WHY he was jet black and not black and white and WHY his ears were down. He was PART Border Collie and part Black Lab (even called to confirm it with the place I got him). I panicked. How big was he going to get? He could end up over 100 lbs!
Alas, I got a trainer. We called him Safari Bob...though his name was Dave. He earned this nickname because he always had on a Bermuda shirt, khaki shorts and a safari hat. :) The company was called, "Dog Training In Your Home" and they were amazing! They don't train your dog, they teach you to train your dog. It's brilliant. It's a much more effective way than classes where they can get distracted and get confused on who exactly is alpha.
Keziah was already proving to be wicked smart and he learned quickly...except the whole concept of shitting outside...THAT took him a bit. I think I threatened to turn him into a piñata ...ANYHOO, he finally learned and grew up to only be 60 lbs. But that training made him not just the sweet dog he already was, but an obediant dog as well. My roommate Carol got a black kitten at the same time...Sabbath...so he grew up loving cats; too bad they don't feel the same way about him though. LOL!
Now, he was always healthy. I mean, other than getting worms once as a puppy and then the flu when he was one, he was a really healthy dog. So when he reached the age of two and started to have these fits where he'd slam the ground with his paws and seem aggitated, we were worried. Turned out he was epileptic...which tends to set in at the age of two, if they're going to get it. It runs in the lab side of his genes. But after that he was healthy healthy healthy for the next NINE years! I've been told that's astounding, btw.
This year has been rough on my poor boy though...and my bank account. He's survived cancer, had his manhood taken away, been diagnosed with Hypo-Thyroid Disorder and now he has a horrible prostate infection (which triggered a bloody UTI) we only were able to diagnose with an ultrasound yesterday. But, he's eleven (in dog years that's 77) and in May he'll be 12 (aka 84) so it's to be expected he start having issues. Good news is that his bloodwork says he's in fantastic shape and his ultrasound shows he is (you know, if you don't count that pesky prostate infection that needs 6 weeks of expensive meds...*sigh*). My vet is amazed at what great shape he's in for his age.
Now his tummy is bare (due to getting the ultrasound they had to shave it) and he is accutely aware of it (seeming embarrased if you touch it and more more eager to come inside from the cold) but he's still my happy dog...prostate infection and all. LOL!
So today I tell this story because I'm thankful...thankful he's okay (that they didn't find a tumor...which is what I was expecting), thankful I get more time with him, and thankful for being there to hug when I get home from whatever kind of day I've had in a city where you need a hug a lot of the time. That may sound odd but if you're a single woman in NYC with a pet (be it dog or cat) you know what I mean. That poor furry baby picks up the slack when you need that hug and there's no significant other there to do give you one. :( Honestly, my day can can be utter shite but when I come home he's happy to see me, loves me, hugs me, licks my tears away if I'm upset, and seems to understand waaaay too much english. :)
A big thank you to the Man Upstairs for giving me more time with him and for giving him to me in the first place. I don't know how long he'll live, but he's been one of the best blessings of my life. Sounds silly to those who don't own a pet they're close to, I'm sure...but it is what it is folks.
I opened with a picture of him now...looking all regal and older...but I'll finish with a pic my friend took of him as he smiled while looking at me in our backyard in SC just before I moved to NYC...he probably had just turned two in this pic.
If you have a special pet, be it dog or cat or chinchilla or whatever...hug them today. They love you as much as you love them.