October 16. 2016
We waited in a small cramped room at Airport. I was about to meet Wally, a Rescue dog from Texas who would be my companion for the rest of our mutual lives.
Crate after crate rolled out of the freight pickup, and the crowd gradually thinned, until my grown son and I were the only ones left. Then came Wally, big blue crate, barking, and circling his limited space. We wheeled the crate to the car, and I took Wally out for the important short potty walk, while my son manhandled the crate into the back of the car. Off for the 20 minute drive to my house. I was nervous, scared, and elated all at the same time.
I have wanted and been scared of dogs since childhood. My Mom (who had severe asthma) always replied with “Dog or ME”. As I grew older and then married, my Husband also had asthma, as did our son. I had worked on my fears, and eventually got to the point where I became the neighborhood dog walker and feeder for those who went away for several days. January 2016, after 45 years of marriage, my beloved had a massive coronary, he did not survive.
Months went by, and I adjusted to my new life. A big eight room house, only a sister living locally, my son now married, busy with his career, and becoming a homeowner, the twin nieces that had spent much of their childhood and teen years in our home, now at colleges hundreds of miles away. It wasn’t just grief that I was adjusting to, but also decades of caretaking for a disabled spouse, and ignoring my own health problems. I couldn’t drive any more, I had had a stroke, ruptured discs, and nerve damage from shingles. I trembled constantly, I was unsteady on my feet, walked with a cane, and had started an annoying tendency to get light headed and fall backwards.
I started looking for a dog. It was agreed by all (son, sister, twins, friends, even neighbors) that a dog and having someone to care for would be beneficial. I agreed, but having looked at dog “sites”, I also knew it would have to be forever. I could not and would not adopt an animal and then send it back, far too many dogs and cats were being killed because they became “inconvient”.
I contacted local rescue organizations, filled out applications, and never heard back. I went to the SPCA shelters with my son, who convinced the advisor that I was more “fragile”, and “feeble” then I was or could be. I was shown small dogs, chichuchuas, lap dog types, and asking to see other larger dogs was discouraged (too big, too strong, too stubborn, jumper, or some other reason the dog was unsuitable for a 66 year old, cane toting widow).
I finally sent an email to the head of a Rescue organization out of Texas. I explained my need and circumstanses. I would be a first time dog owner, I didn’t have a fenced yard, with my husband had raised one child, and had semi-raised my two neices, I had successfully walked Labs, Poodles (big and small), Pomeranians, and two huge Anatolian Shepards, and mutts. My home was quiet, only family visited, we had had parrots for 30 years, I was responsible, my discipline was firmness (stopping before it started), but not freaking out or shouting. I wanted a medium size dog, an adult or older dog (who did not need injections), I was more than willing to enroll in obedience training. I wanted and liked to walk daily, but had gotten out of the habit, didn’t care if the dog was a bit stand offish, or didn’t appear to be affectionate, valued reasonableness, potty trained but expected accidents, thought that it might take months to adjust to each other, could not adopt a Pitt Bull because of home insurance considerations and talk of town restrictions.
Wonder of wonders, I got a return e-mail, and she said she would ask if there was a dog in their care who might be happy up in frozen New England. They came up with 2, and Wally was the one I wanted.
A basement house fire delayed his shipment, the house was unlivable, no heat, not water, no electricity, smoke and soot damage from top to bottom. Happily his foster mom, Darling Martha, agreed to keep him until I could move back into the house. 8 weeks later, I had water, temporary electricity, the soot had been washed off the walls, and the toilet worked, no heat, no hot water, and Wally was shipped that weekend.
I had told my husband for close to 45 years, that if he dared to die before me, I would replace him with a dog, luckily as they wheeled him into surgery, instead I told him “I love you, but when I tell you you need to see a doctor or go to the ER, you GO”. Now what can I say about my FH replacement. Here is the story in his words:
Name of Wally, but I have had some others, at least three. Now it is Wally, and it will be for the rest of my life. Wally, Wally, Wally, good dog Wally, Sweetheart Wally, Bestest Wally in the whole world Wally.
A year ago, I was living on the streets of Houston, Texas. I had had 3 different homes. As a very little boy, I went to a Shelter with my brothers and sisters, don’t remember if Mom came with us. Went home with a family, but they moved away and didn’t take me with them, so I was out on the street alone and scared for the first time. Then a truck with cages picked me up, and I went to another place with lots other dogs, we were all alone and scared, but I got a bath, had food and water given to me, so it was better than the Street.
Some other people came and took me home, they didn’t feed me enough, and then they took me on a ride, and left me. Before too long I was back with another bunch of dogs. They were all so worried they didn’t want to make friends, and I guess I didn’t either. Sometimes people came and took them with them, but often they just disappeared through some shiny doors and we never saw them again. Finally another person came in and “adopted” me. I was happy, maybe I finally had a place to stay and food everyday.
But they moved, and I was left behind. So I was a 3 time loser, skinny, dirty, hungry, and feeling sort of sick. Well either I am smart or stupid, because again came a car with cages, and off I went to another place with lots of dogs, but this time no one came and saw me. The other dogs came and went, mostly they left (a few with people, most went through a shinny door), I just sat there. There was one lady who came and talked to me, she brought me food, sometimes she even took me for a walk. One day she came in and had water running out of her eyes. I could tell she was unhappy, and that made me unhappy too, and scared.
That night she took me out to her car and we went to see another lady, who let me stay overnight. Next day, I went and saw another “Doc”, (cages and Doc’s seem to go together). Stayed there overnight and then off to another home. Didn’t even last there for 3 days, the man got angry at me, and tried to grab my new collar, I growled and barked at him. I may have even tried to bite him, don’t know, but I just didn’t want anyone grabbing my neck. Big trouble, had to leave, and all of the people had a big conference about me. Then the lady who use to visit me, and feed me, and take me for a walk, said that she would take me home with her, and see how I did at her house. Off I went.
There was another dog there, it was his Home. I wasn’t that sure of him, he wanted to make friends, but I would just ignore him. I was given some toys, but I wouldn’t share. My new Mom (Martha) was very nice, she told me that I was a “good” boy, she gave me food every day, and treats, we went for a walk very early in the morning, and very late at night, and she had a nice yard that we (dogs) can go out and lie down under the trees. I had to go and see the “Doc” a lot, had something called heart-worm, and they gave me medicine, and I slept a lot. Only made one mistake, tried to get up on the bed, “no-no”, had to sleep on the floor with my own blanket.
Gradually I relaxed, I started to like head rubs, and ear scratches. I started to gain weight, and wasn’t so skinny, and with the sleeping, eating, love, and attention, I got better and better. She told me that I would find a new home, she was searching and searching for the perfect home for me, it might take some time but she knew that someone out there would be just perfect for me. Then She cam home one night and said she had found a lady far away, and she thought it might be a good home for me.
She called the lady that night. She wanted me very much, but that very day she had had a fire in her house, she couldn’t live there for a while, until the damage was repaired and the smoke and soot was all cleaned up. She also said that as much as she wanted me, if there was another home that wanted me that was as good or better, or if it was possible for Martha to keep me until she could live in her home again, she would pay board until I could come. Martha, lovely, loving Martha agreed!!
8 weeks later, Martha got me into a crate, and we took the car to an “Airport”, she stayed with me until I was on the plane, told me that everything would be alright, and waved goodbye. The plane was strange, and the trip seemed long, there were other dogs, mostly puppies, on the plane too. Finally we landed in Boston. Texas to Massachusetts, my new life was about to start. I waited, in a big room with lots of boxes, until some guys put my crate on a trolley and took me through a door. And that is when I saw my new family. There was a lady (Sally), she was sort of old, and a man (John) much younger but still a very grown up people. Sally told me we were going “Home”, and it was only a little way. John talked in a silly voice, and called me “Bud”, told Sally he liked me. Crate and I went into a Car, and we drove away.
So it’s almost a year later, and Martha was right!! I have a home that I will be in forever. Sally loves me, and she has been waiting for me for her whole life. We live alone, just she and Me, although sometimes her neices or sister comes to visit, and her son (John) drops by too. Sometimes she has trouble walking, and one of the things that I have learned is that I need to look back, and if she says “careful, careful”, I have to slow down or stop. I’m getting better and better at that.
At first I was afraid of the big trucks, buses, and trains, but we went to the train station every day, and watched the subway come in and go out. I even take a ride on the subway or a bus, she says I am a very good and polite rider, even though I do get a little nervous if the bus hits a lot of bumps. I don’t mind the trucks either. We do a lot of walking if the weather is good and even though we are only 10 minutes (by subway) from Downtown Boston, there are plenty of places to walk. There is Waite’s Mount, just across the street, and a walking path from the center of town made out of an old railway line. Sally says that it goes from Maine to Cape Cod, but we only walk our city. There is a park with a big Pond just a mile from here and we go there and I bark at the geese and ducks. There is another big Park just up Main Street, and we go there and wander the trails, once we got completely lost on a back trail and it took us 3 hours to find our way home.
Now the first thing she always said when we took a walk and were coming back, was time to go “HOME”, each time we we crosed a street or took a turn she would repeat going “HOME”, so I learned that “HOME” was the big yellow house at the end of a street up a very steep hill. There are lots of steep hills around here, but I know which hill is mine.
So what is my typical day. I pounce on Sally as soon as I wake up, it’s still dark but I make sure that she gets up, and she does. I race downstairs and stand at the front door, she now lets me out and since Waites is just across the street, I get to run up and down the Mount for 30 minutes, sometimes more. I play a game with her, I sneak back to the door and if she comes I run away. It’s 5:30 AM, and my street is dead end, so she thinks it’s safe that early, and she can track me by hearing the tags jingle. When she really wants me in, she finds my squeaky duck toy and stands on the front porch squeaking it, I always rush home when ducky squeaks. Soon as I hear it, I rush back and into the house, leaping right up on the couch, while she get my food and water out. When it was cold and there was white stuff on the ground, she would cover me with a blanket. Sometimes I eat my breakfast and sometimes I don’t. I like it if she puts some cheese on it, but she doesn’t do that much anymore.
I spend much of the morning on the couch snoozing, although often we go out for a walk, and she always lets me out on a chain, or walks me to the end of the street so I can pee. When I want to come in, I just bark, or scrath at the door, and she is always right there to let me in. We have a code, I grab a shoe when I want to go out, or I jump and paw her computer, and then grab a shoe. She grumbles a bit but gets a leash and off we go. We are usually gone for 2 hours, just wandering around, going to a park, walking up to the next town, nothing special, just wandering, and sniffing and seeing what’s up.
So I get 2 or 3 hours a day out walking, her knees aren’t all that great and the heat is really bothering her this summer. She’s feeling rather guilty about that, but she has promised once it gets cooler. Night time she lets me out again for a run on the Mount. We get some play time in, too. She’ll throw a ball up the stairs and I’ll chase it. Sometimes we do tug of war with my snake or another of my toys. I have lots of toys now, all in a basket that I get to dump over to search for what I want to play with.
When it is time to go to bed, Sally tells me that it is “nite-nite” time, and asks if I want to go too, if I do I can join her. I always do, waiting until all the lights have been turned off, and then I bound up the stairs and race her to hog the pillows. She comes up and tells me the nite-nite story, and to sleep tight, and not let the bedbugs bite, and she gives me the blue dragon and tells me to keep it safe. If I am at the top of the bed, she tries to move me before the nite-nite story, and sometimes I will. Then she rubs my ears, tells me what a good, good dog I am, says that she loves me, and rubs me some more. Lately she has been singing a new song, something about monkeys on a bed, and rolling over, then she will roll me over and get into bed, just where I was comfortable.
I think that I’m going to stay with Sally forever and forever. I like this place and I think she likes me. It’s quiet, and I can sleep all day, if I want. Sometimes I even get people food, but not as much as when I first came. She reads about dogs, and they said no onions, no garlic, so no more tarragon carrots and rice, with marsala wine. She doesn’t give me some other treats, because I threw them up, same thing with cheese sprinkles on my dog food, I didn’t throw those up, but she started to worry that I ate my food too fast, or that I wouldn’t eat the food without them. I don’t know but she is being much more careful with food and what I eat now. We don’t have many visitors, and I get very excited when they do come. He sister Jackie, calls me doofus, and acts scared of me, John says I’m a silly pup, and laughs at me, the twins Lilly and Aunna like me, although I think I annoy them when I want them to pay some attention to me.
I also have friends that I have met on our walks, the mailman and I are special friends, and the UPS driver and I are too. The UPS stops his truck when he sees me, and if he has a dog treat he gives it to me. There are old ladies that talk to me and pet me, and some old men to who ask me how I am doing. There seems to be at least one person who pets me or smiles at me one each walk. I’m very popular with People up here in Massachusetts. Everyone says I’m wonderful, and I think I definitely am becoming Fantastic.
So that’s how I came here. Last night Aunna visited and slept in Sally’s bed. I didn’t have enough room, but the room was hot and Aunna went downstairs to sleep in the LR, Got Sally up around 5:30, and she let me out for a romp up the hill. Lilly went off to work and Aunna moved from the downstairs sofa back to Sally’s bed. We went up to PBP and wandered around, found a new path around the pond up there. Then it started to get hot and humid so we went home, and spent most of the day inside and cool. Long nap in the afternoon, and then just a short walk around 6PM. I should get another romp up the Mount, and then nite-nite. You know what I really like – Hardwood floors, normally I nap on the couch, but I have found that with the heat, the wood floors are so cool, it’s almost like sleeping on an ice mattress.
Long time since I got to write in my diary. The winter has been tough, very cold, lots of ice, wind, and snow. Several times Sally fell during our walks, or I started limping from the salt on the roads and sidewalks. Sally is old (67) and worries about falling and hurting herself. I won’t wear dog boots, and don’t let my paws be smeared with Musher’s Secret, so it’s been an innie for us both. We both get out, but 2 hour walks have been curtailed until it’s warmer, unless we get a great warm day.
Lilly moved in with us last Spring. She graduated from College, and got a full time job in Downtown Boston. Since it is only a 10 minute subway ride, instead of a 50 minute bus and subway ride, it’s easier for her to live and commute from here. I know she finds me annoying, but we have been rolling around much better lately. She now greets me when she gets home, and I don’t keep jumping on her for a pat. She doesn’t like it when I bark, but she doesn’t tell me to be quiet in a mean voice, and sometimes she let’s me snuggle against her on the couch. So we are friends, and becoming closer.
We should be seeing our first grandchild in a few weeks. I’m not sure how that will go. In general I like babies, but I haven’t been around them very much, it will be new for all of us.
I am still Sally’s “good boy”, “her best dog”, her “i love you” boy. She’ll stroke my ears and my back for long long times, gives me belly rubs and scratchs, and massages my hips, shoulders, legs, and back almost every day. She gets mad when her sister calls me a “bad doggy”, her sister tells her since she says it in a nice voice, it’s okay. Sally doesn’t agree, and I get extra “good boy”’s, and ear rubs that night.
I know I will be here for the rest of my life, and that if anything should happen to Sally – I will go to John & Brittany, and the new baby. I will have a Family and Love Forever.