Friday, May 16, 2008

dog days in May

Never, ever go to the animal shelter just to look around because you've got nothing better to do some afternoon. It was February, deep winter in Toronto and we were expecting a child in the Spring so I have to give myself the excuse of extreme broodiness. It was nearly closing time at the shelter when we found a tiny six week old puppy sitting all by himself in an elevated cage looking very sad. The attendant told us his two sisters had been adopted that morning, that he'd never been alone before and was refusing to eat. What would you do? Okay, you'd probably have made the sensible decision to have gone to a movie instead but there we were. I wrapped him up in part of the big scarf I was wearing and off we went with just about as much of a clue about having a dog as we did about having a baby - little - but life is essentially about taking chances in the name of love. The happily anticipated big change was still a few months in the future and we figured having a puppy would be good practice. Besides, he was very cute.

Since he was obviously a benighted canine prince who'd been exiled from his proper home we gave him the exalted name of Garth Cold Nose Strong Heart in honor of his lineage and bright future. Naturally, he was known as Garth.

He got paper trained because he refused to pee when we put him down on the ice and snow and became so comfortable with the arrangement that by the time winter ended he'd relieve himself if he saw someone reading a newspaper. That was when we insisted he learn the difference between inside and outside. He chewed shoes, socks, clothes and once stole an ounce of hash which he kept hidden for a weeks' worth or surreptitious licks (what had been a large cube was a little sphere when we found him with it). He was a happy pup.

His favorite sleeping spot was my lap until the lump started practicing football moves and kicked him off one day. He looked so shocked I wondered if the two of them would ever be friends but I needn't have worried. One day in May, right around this time, we brought our son home from the hospital, sat with him on a low couch and invited Garth over to look. He sniffed, wagged his tail, went to the next room and lay down under the cradle. Sleeping under the boy's bed became a lifelong habit and once the beds got lower, he slept on a rug nearby.

The photo was taken in RI when he was about sixteen. Soon - maybe tomorrow - I'll tell you a story about Garth in Montreal which I'll post directly to Adventures, Ink.


Seraphine said...

I love the observation that "life is essentially about taking chances in the name of love." That sums it up beautifully. I suspect it isn't 100% accurate, but it's beautifully stated.

Susan: Did you send me an email? Sorry to be cautious, I want to make sure it was you.

Anonymous said...

I love a good dog story. He is precious.

And I apologize in advance, but I have infected you with a story virus. I can't wait to see what you might do with it.

susan said...

sera - Sometimes I tend to get caught up in 'absolutes' and oversimplify but there are moments when we have only an instant to communicate.

and, yes, I did ;-)

dcup - You'll get it soon. I'll be right over to see what you've got planned for me in the near future.

Randal Graves said...

Precisely why I never go to any shelter. Hell, I wish we could take in the other stray we feed, but we already took one in last year.

Seraphine said...

It's strange how people relate to animals and strays.
We read about people being homeless and people dying in earthquakes or cyclones or bombings.
But when we read about an animal being abused, everyone writes a letter to the editor.
There's a special place in our hearts for the helpless, to be sure, by why do we react more strongly to pets in distress than we do to people?

susan said...

randal - Good for you. I've had one long life and just two dogs.. the other was a little dachsund named Liebchen who was my childhood friend. She died of leukemia after 9 years.

sera - Perhaps it's because they're speechless.

Ben said...

Ah, now that's a face I haven't seen in a loooooong time. And it's wonderful to see him now. Feels like a visit.

That's a great b&w picture. You took it when he was a puppy? He looks kind of small.

lindsaylobe said...

A delightful story and Garth reminds of our childhood pet called Rexie, who was a fox terrier. Garth appears to be have been an intelligence companion and I loved the story, especially the way he immeadiately went to sleep under the cradle to become your baby protector and later always slept nearby on the rug.

Best wishes

fairlane said...

You've been tagged again, and I don't want to hear any bitching.

Head to headquarters, and look for the infection.


Are you trying to make me vomit?

Love is for chumps, and people on Valtrex.

susan said...

ben - Happy BD! I thought you'd enjoy enjoy it and I'm glad. The pic is from his later years and taken in Roger Williams Park.

lindsay - Dogs like Garth and Rexie were always rare and all the more so now. He was a fine friend for nearly 20 years and I still miss him.

fairlane - Okay, if that's how you feel, be that way.. but I know it isn't true.

Underwear model, eh?