I can't get this silly grin off my face!
I have a brand-new little black dog sleeping at my feet! He is curled up sound asleep (at last) on an old micro-fiber pillow with the stitches split up the side. It is spilling its white fiberfill stuffing all over the place and has lost the large button that gave its center a nice shape. (This poor old pillow reminds me of myself at my heaviest weight - stuffing spilling out where it shouldn't and buttons popping.) Used, abused, and past its prime - I almost threw it out last week, and now its become the one place that our little Henry will lay his head.
We lost our dear 10-year-old lab mix, Sophie, 3 weeks ago to advanced diabetes. For the past 2 weeks, Jay and I have had an ongoing discussion about whether to get a second dog - or to not get a second dog. We've had 2 dogs for nearly 10 years. We brought Soph home from the Animal Shelter in Eau Claire where we lived at the time. She was about 4 months old. Kota, our golden, joined the family about 2 years later. We'd had Soph for 2 years - and our very first bouncing baby boy, Tobey for nearly 1 year. Kota made her first home with my mom-in-law who realized after about 7 months, that a Golden puppy was much more than she had bargained for - jumpy, hairy, teething ... so my beloved insisted that she join our family.
I agreed to give Kota a one month trial period. I should have known that the trial would end the minute Kota entered our front door. My beloved had banned HIMSELF from visiting animal shelter when he came home with cat #3 during our first year of marriage. I agreed to help him enforce this!!! :-)
So, anyway, Kota came to live with us - and I stated strongly that I had doubts ALL the way through that first month. Jay continued to remind me that I had agreed to one month - so we would not evaluate the situation until the predetermined time frame had come and passed. So, I bit my tongue as she piddled all over the floor, chewed up all the baby toys, and cramped my style when going for a run (one dog on a leash is so much easier to run than 2 dogs on a leash!). The trial perild drew to an end - and I KNEW that I STILL did not want her! And that is saying something, folks!
I grew up on a farm where I treasured ALL God's creatures - large and small. I "rescued" baby mice from "certain death", keeping one of these small creatures in a shoebox under my bed for several days before I determined that it was better off on its own in the Great Outdoors. A raccoon, Bandita, lived with us for a summer until she grew into a rebellious adolescent and her wild instincts kicked in - just as God intended - and she struck out on her own. I gathered snakes and frogs and toads and baby birds and baby rabbits and baby ducks and geese and chickens. We had (over time) ponies and cows and pigs and sheep and turkeys and peacocks and deer and rabbits and hamsters. And we ALWAYS had dogs - first Airedales (my dad's choice), then a border collie who lasted less than a year (she chased car tires and got a little too attached to one in particular ... ), and finally a neverending string of Spitzes and Miniature American Eskimos (my mom's choice).
Basically, I have always adored and revered animals ... but not Kota. She was obnoxious - and completely upset the peace that we'd established in our home. But Jay was in love - completely - and insisted that she was his - and he'd care for her - and walk her - and play with her - and blah, blah, blah. And, of course, somewhere between then and now, I've grown to love her - though saying that I've grown to respect her would be going much too far. She's a goofy, doofy dog.
Anyway, back to Henry's story.
Jay and I never really decided whether we'd get another dog until yesterday. :-)
We started searching the online listings through local shelters and rescues.
We've a soft spot for those who are looking for a second chance. I serve a God who is ALL about second chances - and third - and forth - and so on - (Praise God!) and as a recipient of way more chances than I deserve, I LOVE to offer this gift to others ... and this certainly flows into our decision making in looking for pooches (... though I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the generally lower cost of adoption vs. a purebreed purchase is appealing to us, too).
We saw all sorts of potential companions online - all sorts that we'd love to meet - and bring home. We considered the fact that Kota seemed to have adapted VERY well to a one-dog household ... so well, in fact, that I suspect she is really not at all very sorry that Sophie is no longer with us. "Peace and quiet - and all the love and attention for me." Yes, I am quite confident that she favors this arrangement.
Furthermore, we debate ... IF we were to get another dog - should it be large or small or medium, long hair or short, male or female ... So much to consider, so we just went the easy route - and let our hearts choose.
We were just entering Menomonie after a funeral in River Falls (the neighbor and former-fiance of my mom-in-law) when Jay saw a sign and asked, "Hey - what does that sign say?"
It said "Dunn County Humane Society".
"Oh!" I say, "I never knew where our shelter was before!"
As we pass it, I say, "Hey! Let's go take a look!"
We debate about this for about 30 seconds and then turn around. Mom-in-law, Shirley, Jay, myself and the boys are all dressed in our funeral finery. I recognize that in my black kitten heels, Ralph Lauren dress and fancy scarf from Paris (my mom's gift to me) - I don't exactly look like the typical animal shelter visitor (at least, I don't think so ... ). All of us look like ... well, like we're going to a funeral! (heehee)
I make a joke when we enter the shelter about my inappropriate dress and announce that the visit was unplanned. As I reflect, I suppose that this was obvious - what sort of numbskulls dress UP for the shelter?! Duh!? I've a knack for stating the obvious ...
Anyway, we are greeted graciously and are taken in to meet all the dogs that are presently indoors. We see all sorts of "keepers", but I'm really in a pretty casual mindset as I eye them up and pat their eager heads. Tobey, Xander and I often visit the shelter in Eau Claire - just to drop off donations and play with the animals housed there. I've never felt seriously tempted to bring any home. (Note: Jay does NOT join us on these trips!)
Then, we are asked if we'd like to go see the puppies. I don't want a puppy. I want an adult dog. Adults are done with teething and (often, but not always) potty training AND they generally wait longer to be adopted than pups do. Still, I love to SEE puppies - and, of course, the boys have already decided for us that we'll visit the pups, so off we go.
Immediately, my eye goes to a miniature version of our Sophie! Seriously cute - short black hair - elongated neck (Soph had dachshund in her) - and partially erect ears. Awwww - I LIKE this one. He (I note he's a boy ... because, well, for the obvious reasons ... ) is happy to see us, but is not bouncing off the walls. That is good. I already have decided that I'm NOT looking for a bouncing-off-the-walls barker. He makes NO noise - just wags his tail and presses against the cage so that we can give him a neck rub.
I check out the rest of the pups to make sure I'm not overlooking anyone, but I've already decided that this is the one.
"Can we take him out?"
They tell me that, yes, we can. And we do. And I really like him. And the boys really like him. What I don't like is his name ... Ivan. I knew an Ivan in college - not someone I want to be reminded of every day. Also, can't help but think "Ivan the Terrible". I don't think that this name is a good one at all.
At this point, I know - just know - that "Ivan" is going to make his Forever Home with us.
I run home to get Kota while my 3 guys stay with the dogs. Shirley rides with me and elects to stay at home while we run around and figure out what we're doing (though we KNOW).
Kota and "Ivan" aren't much interested in one another after an initial "sniff-down", but neither are they aggressive towards one another. Jay has already filled out the necessary papers. Our vet center has been contacted - and (bless their hearts) has whole-heartedly endorsed us as caring, considerate pet owners! Yes, bless their hearts - they are so kind and caring. And, so "Ivan" is set to head home with us!!!
The primary question left is, "What do we name him?"
The boys like Ivan - but not me, though the more they say it, the more I begin to believe that he might end up stuck with that name anyway. I suggest Mojo which gets mixed reviews. Mikey is well-recieved by TJ and X, but gets a "thumbs down" from My Beloved. Jay likes Zeus. (No!)
When we get home, Jay is so sick of all the names being thrown around that he says something like, "Who cares whether we name him Dick, Harry, Henry, Zeus or Ivan!? He's Ivan!" As Jay rattled off these names, "Ivan" perked up his ears at "Henry" - and so did I.
Henry. I liked it.
"How about 'Henry'? I think he liked that one!"
And so after some discussion, "Henry" sticks.
So, here is what we know about our Henry. He is actually not a puppy at all - as I first thought him to be. He is estimated to be about 4 years old. The shelter called him a Lab/Corgi mix - but at 14 pounds, he strikes me as too small to be this, but who knows? He has buggy eyes that look either like a chihuahua or a pug. His hair and coloring is very like a black lab - and I see the Corgi in his stance and his neck, but there's got to be something more to it.
We also know that Henry was rescued from an animal rescue in May that housed over 300 animals in Dane County, Wisconsin - but maintained inhumane and cruel living conditions for the animals it was supposed to care for. You must read the news story and see the accompanying video here from the Humane Society of the United States. It breaks my heart to see the endless rows of neglected animals - and I can't help but search their faces for signs of our Henry. I don't see him.
After he was rescued, Henry was sent to the shelter in Dunn County where we found him yesterday. During his 5 months there, he was adopted for a brief period, but was returned again as a stray. The shelter staff recognized him - and his microchip confirmed his identity. When contacted, the couple who adopted him said that they were going through a divorce or separation or something - and no longer wanted him. And, of course, our Henry came from somewhere prior to his arrival at the Thyme and Sage Ranch from where he was rescued.
Poor little dude.
But now he is safe in his Forever Home on his pillow ... sleeping soundly.
I pray that we will bless one another. That we might give him a home and a family that he adores - and that he might fill the hole in our hearts and our home that was left by our first black short-hair angel.
Welcome home, Henry!