Three years ago, I did something many questioned the sanity of – and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t questioned it myself more than a few times since.
I adopted a dog. That in and of itself not at all out of the norm for me.
The insanity part? I already had two dogs at home – a pair of research lab rescue beagles. This would be dog No. 3, which in my opinion is a lot for one person to handle (a realization I would not come to until later!). I had never met this dog. I’ve never even thought about adopting a dog I had never met before. Her eyes grabbed me in a photo a friend shared and they haunted me. (You can read more about this here). AND I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment at the time and had not yet even found my house in the country.
But here we are three years later and without a doubt we have a special bond that keeps on growing.
Surry turned out to be a pretty amazing apartment dog. She passed her first level of obedience class with flying colors and ended up being terrible at sniffer dog class because she was much too focused on me.
We survived the gut-wrenching few months of weekly vet visits and tests when her EPI manifested itself and she literally started to starve until we figured it out about a year and half ago. Like the trooper she is, she adapted right away to the changes that meant to her feeding routine, as did the beagle boys.
She adapted to being confined to the guest room or my bedroom during the day after she showed me she could bust through the baby gates with ease and turn on the gas range.
I’ve exhaustedly replanted and fenced off and replanted and fenced off again numerous rose bushes which she has chosen to dig up because I insist on using organic bone meal to feed them. Somehow the roses continue to survive these antics as well.
I forgave her the chicken murder that occurred last spring. It wasn’t a hen.
I’ve unfortunately lost count of the number of times she has found her way out of the yard, a couple of times my own carelessness has been to blame. Other times she has shocked me with her ability to squeeze through the tiniest of gaps under the fence. I am grateful that she is quite predictable in her destinations of choice. Mostly she seems to just want me to join in the fun of the outing rather than run away from home, that doesn’t mean she makes it easy for me to harness her up. It has required the help of several very understanding neighbors at times to corral her and get her back into my hands where she just looks at me like “Moma, wasn’t that fun!?”
“No, Surry! No, it was not!”
She has this terribly annoying habit when she gets excited of treating me like a toy. She zooms full bore across the yard, jumps at me grabbing whatever piece of me she can, usually an arm or a hand, even if I manage to get my back turned. She does not grab lightly either. I have countless holes in shirts, blood stains and even scars to prove this!
I call her my giant girl, when her size is not extraordinarily big, but her personality overflows the room.
Then there is the dog that appears when I lace up my running shoes.
It was magical from the very first time I took her out. She seemed to instinctively understand what I was asking of her. Within a couple of runs she ceased trying to run ahead or tug or even lag behind and found her spot right by my side at whatever pace I selected. And she has patiently put up with my fits and starts and inconsistency of training. But the consistent flow I have been able to piece together since Labor Day, thanks in no small part at all to her, has seemed to add another dimension to our bond.
Not sure I can really explain it. Maybe it’s the conversations we have out on the road together. The girl time without the silly boys. Certainly the additional consistent exercise has been as beneficial to her as me.
She gets me out the door when I don’t really want to go. She keeps me from cutting it short, joyfully adding on the miles. She keeps me in the moment, focused not only on her, but the leaves on the paved trail that we can stir up as we pass by. She listens attentively to whatever stories I want to tell her. She also relishes the silence, listening only to our footfalls or the birds in the woods.
Being on the other side of the couch from me used to be enough. After all I would always get up and give her lovin’ because it is impossible not to wrap your arms around a big ball of Coonhound. Now she usurps Nerd’s spot by my side when she can, and transfers all of her weight into her head as she places it on my arm forbidding me to move. She still takes up most of the bed and steals the covers, but I get a head on my shoulder more often than a rear end in my face.
None of this means she won’t test my patience and the fence line from time to time or that I won’t offer her up to co-workers or neighbors on a regular basis, mostly in jest!
Dogs have long been called (wo)man’s best friend. The beagle boys are my babies, Surry is my best friend.