Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Christmas Gift.

This story happened almost exactly one year ago.

At my house we had 2 dogs. We had just lost Dugan, Tom's old Collie a few months before.  It was a hard blow for Tom as he and Dugan had been together for many years. Dugan went everywhere with him. They were buds. 

Truthfully except for the part of missing Dugan terribly, it was kind of nice only having 2 big dogs to care for.  I really had no intention's of looking for another. 

The two dogs I had left came from my Mom.  She has been showing and breeding labs since I was a young girl, and is now one of the top breeders in the country (you can see her website here) and is very very particular about which of her dogs get bred.  Both of mine were dogs that had very minor genetic defects.  Even minor defects eliminated them from the gene pool so they got to come and live with me.  They are Mason and Smarty Pants.  Mason is deaf and Smarty has a minor heart defect.

Anyway back to my story...

The way our house is set up, is a big chain link fenced dog yard off the back of the house, and then a drive through gate going back into the pasture. Then we have a man gate on the side that goes to the open front yard. The person who put these fences up, did not do a great job, all the gates are crooked, and chains (around the poles) are required to keep the dogs from getting out of them.

A year ago someone who will remain nameless (her initials are Cindy D) went through the big gate and forgot to rechain it.  My very bad horses, with eagle eyes, immediately saw their chance to get into the dog yard where all the best grass is.  All they had to do was push on the gate, pop the latch, and walk right in.  So naturally while they were all in there filling their big fat bellies, the dogs also saw their chance to escape the confines of their yard and go on a little walk about.

My neighbor saw Smarty trotting down our road and got him and put him back in the yard.  She did not realize that the big gate was open, but luckily he chose to stay in the second time.  I suspect that there were horses between him and the gate and he still is leery of them. They are awfully big ya know.

Animal Control picked up Mason about half a mile from our house.  He is microchipped and so they called me before they even had him back to the pound.  I got there right away (in hopes of not having to bring home a dog that smelled like the pound) and they told me to go back and find his kennel and bring them the paper off the door. 

So there I am strolling through, just minding my own business looking for my big fat yellow dog.  Of course it makes me sad to see all those dogs there, but I am pretty much a Labrador girl so it kind of makes it easier for me to keep walking....until I saw this

Now here is what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Old dogs do not very often get adopted.  The paperwork on this dog said he was 5.  If that dog is 5 then I am 20 (I haven't been 20 in centuries).  I knew that this old guy didn't stand a chance. 

I stood there for a minute, he barked at me, but then wagged his tail.  I talked to him, he sat down and wagged some more.  I went on to find my dog, but could not get that face out of my mind.

When I asked, they told me he was a stray.  I said, "You know that dog isn't 5 right?" 
They ignored that question and went on with the paper work on Mason.
 I asked how long he had been there. 
"Not quite 2 weeks"
He would not be adoptable for a few more days.

When I got home I told Tom about him, he reminded me that we didn't really need another dog.

I showed him the picture.

He frowned at me. 

I said, "People don't adopt old dogs"

He frowned again.

He said, "Do what you think is right."

I struggled with this decision for 2 days.  What if he doesn't get along with the other two?  What if he has medical issues?  What if, what if, what if.  What if no one else adopts him?  No one is going to adopt a dog that old.

I went back to the pound and they let me take him out for a walk.  I said "sit" his butt hit the floor.  I said, "down" he laid down.  Hmmmmm this dog was some body's bud.

 He had an elbow that was gnarled and twisted, which caused him to limp. He had the classic rear end of a dog with hip displaysia. His teeth were rotten and his eyes were full of cataracts.  Yet he wiggled and squirmed like a puppy when I scratched his butt, and then he smiled.  You a dog smiles.

I finally decided the right thing to do was to give this guy a forever home for Christmas. 

I paid the fee and took him out to the truck. I said, "Do you want to go for a ride?" 
He jumped in. 
We named him Butch and he smelled like the pound.   I took him to the tub and said, "get in the tub." He jumped in the tub!   Once he had a bath and smelled ok, I let him meet the other two.

That part didn't go so well.  Controlling three intact males can get a little dicey when introductions are first made. There was a lot of fighting and growling, and lots of me trying to distract with cookies, and all my dreams of saving this dog started to go down the tubes. 

I could not let him outside without the other two with out a fight starting.  While I was gone to work I had to keep him in a separate kennel up by the house.  I could bring them all in together but had to watch them constantly. 

I cried each time I had to break up a fight. I didn't know what to do. I could not take him back.  It was just a mess.

Christmas morning Smarty got sick.  Emergency visit, days and days of trying to figure out what was wrong (turned out he swallowed a pacifier from Tom's grandson and had to have it surgically removed) but in the midst of that, I had just made another attempt to put them all out and saw poor sick Smarty sitting at the door with a sad and scared look on his face and Butch was in his face snarling, growling, and trying to provoke a fight.

I admit it, I snapped.

I went out and laid into Butch.  "YOU...STOP...FIGHT...ING...WITH...MY..DOG!!!!"

That was it.  I have never had to say a harsh word to him since.  I have never had to break up a fight since, they all share one big dog house, and are best friends.  Sometimes he and Smarty lay right next to each other.  Butch is the one dog I can leave in the house all day when I am at work.  He goes down each night and lays with my son Simon.  He stays there all night. Ne never gets in the trash, he never once has had an accident in the house. He is the only dog that comes when I call.

When I brought him home and took him in for his first check up, I said to my vet, "This is not a dog I will pour a lot of money into."  In less than a year, I am pouring money into this dog.  He has an infected eye, and 400 dollars later we are still trying to get it healed.  We buy Rimodyl for him all winter, he gets special vitamins and joint supplements, and the works.

He is such a special dog. I cannot imagine how nobody claimed him. How could you not miss a dog this wonderful? If he got out today, I would not stop searching till I found him. So in my attempt to give the gift of a new life to a dog, I found that God gave me the biggest gift of all.

I truly believe that God had a hand in helping me to the pound that day.


  1. Haha, that's funny, it reminds me of letting horses know who is boss. Tell them once, good, and they'll remember,,

  2. You have me in tears! what a wonderful gift you each gave one another

  3. Amazing story. It's been a year already since you made that decision of adopting that old dog. How lucky Butch to find a home with you.

  4. He really has been a most wonderful blessing. Every morning when he looks up at me with those smiling eyes from his bed, I know that I am blessed!