My friends, who make up most of the folks who read my blogs, know the story of how we were rescued by our dog, Abigail, in 2009. We had lost our very old, precious black Lab, Maddie, at the age of 12. We responded, as so many people do when they lose a beloved pet, “No more dogs. This hurts too much.” But my husband and I were working different shifts, and I was alone most evenings. It didn’t take long for me to know that it isn’t really a home without a dog. So we decided to go again. So, early on a Saturday morning, before they even opened, I went to the local shelter. I walked into the first row of kennels, and started looking at all the dogs there. I knew that I could choose any of these sweet creatures and we-well, more me, would love them forever. And then, about 2/3 of the way down the first row, I saw this schnauzer-ish looking girl, who crept on her belly, one paw forward at a time, to the front of her cage. We locked eyes, and I pulled the card out of her slot. One of the shelter workers said, “Ma’am, there are two more buildings of kennels. I said, “No. This is the one.” He just smiled knowingly, “Yeah, sometimes you just know.”
It was my husband’s turn to name the dog, so we had already decided that if I picked a female her name would be “Abigail,” after his favorite character on “NCIS.” So I started calling her Abigail from the moment the office staff brought her to me, once the paperwork was signed and an appointment was made for her spaying. Since she was a mixed breed I got to take her home and bring her back for surgery. Those who picked purebreds had to wait to take their baby home until after altering. I found out that Abigail had been brought in as a stray, and the morning I showed up was the first day she became available for adoption. It was so clearly kismet that she went home with me,. and it has been a choice that we have never once regretted. She was house broken within a few weeks, she took to training easily, she rarely barks; she is pretty much the perfect dog for a middle aged couple. What I didn’t really expect was that a dog who had been stray, and was newly available for adoption, was not bathed or brushed; she was a mess! So, on our very first day together I had to give her a bath, which she immediately hated, and has ever since. When she is given a bath, she trembles as if she’s being tortured, she doesn’t want to move around, and fights me when I try to turn her around so that I can change sides. She will be six in June, and she still hates brushing and baths. Once I was taking a bath in some wonderful lavender bubble bath, and being as obedient as she is, I called her into the bathroom, and brought her into the water. Wouldn’t how much I loved that luxurious bath be passed on to her, and she would finally see that this is something to enjoy. Ummmmm, no. It wouldn’t. Now I can’t even call her in when I’m in there.
So over the last five years I felt many times that Abigail would be much happier if she had a playmate. My husband, who isn’t really a dog lover like me, always nixed the idea. And he was kind of right…we lived in an apartment, and having two dogs in an apartment would be expecting too much of the space. Our bedroom furniture barely fit into the bedroom as it was. Yes, we are those silly people who sleep with the dog, and the room was very tight already. So I kept giving in to his dictum that we didn’t need another dog until we moved into a house with a yard. There were other times that I felt that Abigail might not handle another dog in the house very well. When our grandson, Miles, came along, and got big enough to spend the night with Granny and Grandpa, she was very jealous! We had dog sat with my best friend’s dog a few times, but when Enzo came over, she always knew he wasn’t staying forever. When Miles came along, she didn’t know what to think. We snuggled with him, just like we did with her, he got lots of attention from us. She was very upset when he was there, to the point of wetting in the room where he slept-as if to let him know this was not his house. She had rarely ever had accidents in the house-this was not an accident! This was a message. But Miles moved to Illinois, and doesn’t get to spend weekends with us anymore.
And then, in October of last year, we decided, on a lark, to check into buying a house…and it worked!!! We moved Thanksgiving weekend into our first house. There is nothing but sand and rocks in our backyard, and the walls are still white and bear. But we moved into a house with three bedrooms and two baths. I hadn’t even thought about the dog thing for sometime because a friend whose marriage just ended moved in with us in November, and Abigail was no longer alone during the days when we were at work. But Christmas day, my sister texted me a picture of a puppy that her daughter in law found abandoned on the way to Sister’s house for their family Christmas, and my sister was thinking that I would be the perfect choice for a forever family for my niece’s foster dog. So I asked, knowing the answer before I asked. So I told my sister that the answer was no, regretfully, but I put the picture out there for my friends, just in case anyone might know someone who could give this adorable baby a forever home. I didn’t mention it again, but a couple of weeks later, my sister posted the picture on Facebook, still looking for a forever home. At that time I went into full gear. I reminded him of his promise to get a second dog when we moved into a house. He said that we don’t have a yard yet, and they would make a terrible mess when the weather was bad during the winter. (This is Texas-what bad winter weather?) That one was easy to knock down. Needless to say…I prevailed, once I reminded him that our anniversary was coming up in January, and the puppy could be my gift, and besides…”you did promise.” “Fine. Get the damned dog, but when these are gone, no more animals!” Yah, sure. “Okay. I’ll agree to that.” (Wink, wink.)
So, on Friday after the new year, we got Leo. My sister’s family was calling him Teddy because he was so sweet, like a teddy bear. But he does have a look similar to a lion, and he was coming to live with me, who is a Leo, and has white hair, hence “The White Lion.” Leo was just too perfect a name for him. He may be a golden retriever/basset mix, according to our vet. He’s too cute for words…very goofy, and sweet, and I told my sister the only thing that would be a deal breaker would be if Abigail was too jealous and didn’t accept him. Well, there have, of course, been some competitions for our attention, but all in all, Abigail adores him, and he her. The play tug, chase, chase, tug, all day long. They nap together after long, hard bouts of playing, and they are a happy pair. Leo has brought even more joy into our house. He still sleeps in a crate, while she sleeps in the bed, because he still has not mastered going outside every time.
About 3 weeks ago it was time for poor Abigail to have a bath. I didn’t know what to expect with Leo being new to the family, but it was just as usual. Abigail trembled the whole time at this terrible ordeal I was putting her through. Leo came into the bathroom while we were at work, and was very curious what was happening to his sister. So, when I was done with Abigail I gave Leo a quick going over, which she had already signaled him in whatever language dogs use to communicate with each other was horrible. So, of course, he hated it almost as much as she does.
Today is Friday. On Wednesday I woke up feeling very cruddy, with a sore throat and no energy. I went to work, and told a coworker that if I felt as bad on Thursday I would stop at an Urgent Care clinic on the way home. But I didn’t feel as bad on Thursday-I felt way worse. I called in to work, planning to go to the clinic in case I had strep throat. It wasn’t strep, but I was told not to work on Friday either. Well, I had scheduled an eye appointment back in January, and I wasn’t going to miss that, and I was feeling somewhat better. So I got myself together and decided to take a nice bubble bath. No lavender today; didn’t want to get that relaxed. I picked a wonderful burnt sugar/vanilla bubble bath, and it was luxuriant! The bubbles lasted forever, and smelled so sensual! It really added to my feeling better. While I was in there, Leo pushed his nose into the bathroom door, sheepishly, and went away as quickly. I chuckled to myself, remembering Abigail’s disdain for baths. Figuring she was out there telling him in Doglish, “Don’t let her pull you in there!” I called out to him and he stuck his head in, but wouldn’t come inside. So I took a handful of bubbles and blew them at him, he recoiled. The bubbles landed on the floor, and held up quite well. He sidled in and sniffed the bubbles warily, jerking his head back, sniffing again, and running out of the bathroom. I blew another handful of bubbles, which landed next to the first and also stayed. He came back in and sniffed again, the same way…backing out as quickly once he’d taken that whiff.
And I laughed out loud at his trepidation, knowing that bubble baths, or baths in general, were going to continue to be a chore and a torture.