“Animal parenting is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect being.”
Ane Ryan Walker
Before the quarantine began, my DH and I decided our RV adventures were over. We had traveled, volunteered, saw all the sights on our “bucket list” save one, and opted to retire permanently to the country.
If you followed my blog, you know I’m a dog person. I believe there is an inordinate amount of love and gratitude to be had from a rescue dog.
It was time to search for my new canine companion, a furry friend who would keep me company on lonely days and fill my retirement years with cute anecdotes with which I could amuse my friends. Despite the quarantine, dogs were still available for adoption. There is never a shortage of pups looking for their forever home.
Anyone who has ever rescued an animal will be the first to say there is no greater love than that of the animal on their way to the pound when you take ’em home forever.
I searched for months, pouring over the available canines within 100 miles of my house. Finally, after years of travel, I found myself with a generous piece of property, with a huge fenced in yard where a new puppy could play and still be safe.
Haunting the rescue sites, I determined the dog for me was older than 6 months but less than 2 years, who might still be trainable and who had a real shot at bonding with me and my DH. I set the criteria for my search based on Jake, my all-time favorite rescue.
Jake was just, well…unique. He’d been abandoned in a very cruel fashion by his original owner who’d had a locator chip implanted, because he thought the dog was valuable. But when Jake showed he had a mind of his own, the guy dropped the dog off in the sticks. When the rescue people took him in, Jake was in sad shape. Bony, hostile, and aggressive, he fought with everyone about everything. Showing each and every handler he still had a mind of his own.
Handsome and charming, Jake was adopted on five separate occasions, only to be brought back to the temporary family each time. Jake was touted to all potential rescuers as a lab and shepherd mix. But, in reality, he was the dog nobody wanted.
Except for me.
I did everything I could think of (and afford) to help Jake acclimate to our home, We bought him the top-of-the-line dog bed cushion, specifically designed for large breed dogs to ease arthritic pains.
He ate two of them.
“He just won’t listen to me,” my DH complained. “I like to take him for a walk, and he tries to eat people.”
“Who does he try to eat?” I was, of course, concerned since there were a lot of young children in our neighborhood,
“Everybody?” I was a little bit skeptical since I also walked Jake once a day, and what he lacked in obedience he made up for in enthusiasm.
“Well, not everybody, but he’d eat the pizza delivery guy if I let him.” My DH was attempting to leave the room, a clear sign he didn’t want to discuss the matter.
“Honey…” He never let me finish.
“He doesn’t want to eat the guy from the Chinese food place, but have you noticed we aren’t getting much mail.”
I was happy with less mail… Fewer bills was my thought.
These behaviors are most likely the reason we got four serious calls from the rescue agency, asking if we were keeping Jake. I found these phone calls more than a little disturbing, but I assumed it was because Jake had a mind of his own.
So, I sent Jake to board for six weeks with a world-renowned dog trainer. And, no I cannot tell you who it is. I promised never to share his name or shame with anyone.
You can see his picture on my blog page and trust me, the pic doesn’t do him justice. He is, in short, a very handsome devil. Also, he’s a Devil Dog. With a mind of his own.
I thought once he’d been with us for over two years that we’d established a truce of sorts. Or that at least there were some ground rules I could count on. He sat when I told him, stayed when given the command, and didn’t try to get in my lap anymore; I mean, who wants an 85 lb. dog in their lap?
But he would occasionally show me how he’d endured on the streets and kept his dignity by drinking whatever I liked to drink when I got home from work. Usually, it’s ice water.
Typically, I don’t drink alcohol, but sometimes, you just need one stiff drink to bring you down from a super stressful day. What’s better than adult beverages?
I had to believe Jake would second that opinion. Once, I’d walked away from the drink, and minutes later, I heard a strange noise coming from the other room. A mysterious slurping sound. I ran back to the living room, and there Jake is, drinking my bourbon and diet coke. Now, I am a seriously unhappy camper.
“Get down!” I yelled, while he raised his head and smiled a little doggy smile.
He did not get down.
“Bad dog!” I yelled. He looked behind him to see who I was yelling at, and then he finished the drink, poised the glass on his nose, and jumped on the ottoman.
Now about two months before, we’d installed laminate floors in the main living areas of our house. Do you know what happens when an 85 Lb. dog jumps on an ottoman on a slick surface? Oh yes, they both slid thirty feet into the next room.
Sadly, the next room was a dining room with a glass on glass pedestal table capable of seating twelve.
And then, Jake decided he liked the new game. So, he jumped down and slid—just the dog, wearing a tallboy cut crystal glass on his snout this time—nails scratching the floor, around the all-glass dining room table. Then he let me chase him back into the living room where he mounted an assault on the ottoman once more.
I’d foolishly pushed it back into place while chasing the dog. When he finished sliding into the next room, he jumped up on the couch and began attacking the cushions. He dropped the glass and grabbed a cushion and started shaking his head back and forth. When he finally released it, it sailed over the couch, hitting me in the head.
Then he crouched down, challenging me to play.
Needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood.
I’d still had a tough day at work, and now, I was one cocktail short.
But he was a great dog, and I’m a soft touch, so I’d almost forgiven him when he started…well, there’s no way to say it politely…farting. Which smelled like bourbon. Now, before you get your shorts in a wad and scream animal cruelty, let me ask you something.
How would you have gotten a cocktail from an 85 lb. street savvy hound? (With very big teeth) Jake liked the drink, and the little romp in the parlor wore him out, so wanting to add insult to injury, he laid down, feet up, right there on the seat where I’d planned to relax, and promptly started snoring.
I think I finally understand why a world-renowned dog trainer asked me to take him home, three weeks before his training sessions were complete. Jake has a mind of his own.
And the truth of the matter is, no other dog will ever replace him.
The only mistake today’s rescue people make is not offering me a solid black dog with a big toothy smile, and a mind of his own. So needless to say, the search continues for a canine companion.
Since, clearly, no one could ever replace Jake.
About the Author
Ane Ryan Walker is an author and adventurer who believes in Angels, Demons, Witches and Magic. She recently settled in Alabama, after traveling the country with her husband and living fulltime in her RV. Ane is a member of Womens Fiction Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and former member of Romance Writers of America©.
Born and raised in the great northeast, she writes a fictional series Survivors of Salem, about the descendants of witches who survived the Salem Witch Trials. She is also currently working on books about fulltime RVing.
In addition to Return to Angels Cove, look for the second book in the Survivors of Salem, The Covenant.