Day by Day

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My First Dog

That wasn't a family hound was a border collie mix named Blackie.  I was stationed at Ft. Riley at the time, and living off post in a delightful little burb called Grandview Prairie, which was in essence one large trailer park.  I walked into the post vet center, back into their adoption section, and this little, skinny black mutt was staring at me.  All the other dogs were going berserk, but this one dog just stood and stared.  I sat down in front of her cage, put my hand up to the wire, and she licked my hand.

I took her home the next day.

I didn't know it at the time, but she had been abused beyond all belief before she was picked up by the game warden and dropped off at the vet.  She was starved, had been beaten, neglected, and was a miserable little scrap of fur when I got her home and gave her a bath.  I was so used to the country dogs at home that I did what we used to do back there; just dump a day's worth of food in the bowl, and let the dog eat when it wants to eat.  Well, with Blackie, that meant eat it all right then, because she didn't think she was ever going to get any more.  So she would gorge, and then vomit all over the carpet.  Me being a stupid guy, it took me a little while to figure out exactly what was going on.  And then I started putting an eighth of a cup of food in her bowl, as quietly as possible.  She would see it, and scarf it down.  When I saw the bowl was empty, I would put another eighth of a cup of food in there, until she got used to the fact that every time she looked in her food bowl, there was food in it.  It took her about a month before she was no longer scarfing food at every opportunity.

She would also cringe at any loud human voice.  If I laughed, she would hide.  It took her a while longer until she wouldn't run away at the sound of a raised voice, but she eventually got to the point where even if I was full out laughing she would just wag her tail and sit down.  It took years before she started behaving like a normal dog, but she was a wonderful, intelligent, loving dog from the day I took her home.  She used to sleep on my bed, right next to me.  At one point, I had a delightful young lady who was um....  spending the night....  and after we had exercised ourselves into slumber, I woke up to the sound of *THUMP* "Ow!  Bloody hell!"

Blackie, finding her space occupied by this delightful young lady, had gotten into the middle of the bed, put all four feet against the lady's back, and pushed her out of her spot, right off the bed.  And then Blackie curled up in her rightful spot.

When I got out of the Army back in 2000, I made a stop at the Ragin' Parents place before I moved on to Seattle.  And while I was looking for an apartment or a house, my Mom told me that she would watch Blackie while I was out and about.  So about a week into my search for dog-friendly living quarters, I call Mom to update her, and she informs me that I'm not getting Blackie back.  I object, because this is MY DOG, but my mom is Mom, and the fact of the matter is that my parents acreage in the country is better for a border collie than a cramped apartment in downtown Seattle.  And Mom had lost our family dog a few years back, and you don't just need a dog in the country, you NEED a dog.  So, Blackie lived at my parent's house from that point on.  But every time I came home, she would jump in my lap, and lick my hand, and curl up on me any time I sat down.  She might have lived at my parent's house, but she was my dog.  My sweet, loving dog.

Mom called me tonight, and let me know that she had to put Blackie down.  She's buried on my parent's property up in Idaho.  She had been injured back in November, and just went downhill from there.

She was at least a couple years old when I got her back in 1998, so she lived to be 13 or 14 years old.  She had a great life out in the country, in a house full of wonderful people, and loved by a woman who just knew deep down in her bones how to treat animals right.  The Ragin' Mrs. likes to joke that my mom and I attract animals and kids to us like magnets.  If that's true, it's because my mom taught me how to treat them properly.  Blackie had a decade of happy, country living, which is more than most animals can dream of.

And it still hurts to lose her.  Let me quote Og here:  

As I have often said before, if I die and I don’t come to the afterlife being greeted by all the dogs i knew in life, the Creator and I will have some WORDS.
There's a Kipling poem at that link that I can't read right now.


MauserMedic said...

It does suck. My Golden (who was originally dumped, and found us by pure luck) is around 11 at best guess; I hate thinking about what I'll have to do in the near future. Good to think she found you and your mother for the better part of her life.

Adrienne said...

Blackie was lucky to have found you, and you him. Prayers for you, your family, and Blackie.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Will Rogers who said "If dogs don't go to heaven, when I die, I want to go where they go."?