“The love of a dog is a pure thing. He gives you a trust which is total. You must not betray it.” Michel Houellebecq
Our old dog Buster was the best dog in the World. When we had to make the decision to have him put to sleep, it broke our hearts. All four of us were there for him, as he took his final breath. My husband and I decided that there would be no more dogs for us. We had been blessed with the best there was, and felt that no other dog would ever match up. Having said that, we missed having a dog. The excited greetings at the door, every time you came home. Like you were the most important person in the world.
Years passed, I am still not sure how it happened but we found ourselves at the SPCA just to have a look. There were some puppies that had been advertised, so we just went to have a look and a cuddle. Couldn’t hurt we thought, we were resolved in our decision. We walked through the centre and saw the saddest skinniest rough collie, we had ever seen. He looked at us with his sad brown eyes, and we just had to meet him. They took us into a room and we sat down, then they brought in Dalton to meet us. He walked directly over to my husband who was sitting on the floor, and sat in his lap. I crouched down to pet him as tears rolled down my face. Dalton looked at me with his sad eyes, and then came over to sit in my lap. We were sunk. My husband called the kids with tears welling in his eyes. I think we just found a dog, he said. They were overjoyed and couldn’t wait to come meet him.
He was about four years old they thought, and had been found on a work site. He had been at the Shelter a few weeks, and they were having a lot of trouble getting him to eat. They had to foster him out, in order to get him to eat a little. He had a previous injury, and felt he may have been mal-treated. We signed the documents and were told that we could pick him up the next day. It was heartbreaking leaving him there that evening, but could not be helped.
Dalton came home, and didn’t quite know what to think. He felt he needed to be outdoors all the time, we had a hard time getting him to stay in the house at first. The first day he was home, the strangest thing happened. He was out in the yard, and just on the other side of our fence in the schoolyard stood a male deer looking directly into our yard. We had lived here for 15 years, and never seen anything quite like it. My husband and I looked at each other, and said I guess Buster is welcoming him to the family.
We enticed him to start eating by giving him a variety of foods to see what he liked. He was horribly afraid of feet, and we had to be careful with sudden movements. It was heartbreaking to see the fear when you moved suddenly. So we gave him large doses of love, and many adventurous walks. Our adult kids loved him the moment they met him, and were taken aback by how like Buster he was. He, in turn seemed as though he had known them for a long time too, immediately gravitating towards them.
Then he met Gram. My mom had been terminally ill for a number of years, and was really starting to struggle. She was over every Sunday for dinner, and as soon as she walked in Dalton went to great her.
She would sit in her chair at the kitchen table and pat his head, and he would put his paw in her lap. They would sit like that for the longest time. When it got harder for gram to get out, the kids would take Dalton over to her house for a visit. He would walk immediately over to her sitting in her big recliner, and pass her his paw. They would sit holding hands the entire visit. She would ask the kids to find him a snack in the fridge and he would gladly demolish it.
He settled in, and was so excited when the whole family was together. He would walk from one to the other of us looking for love and pats. He brought us such joy, with his antics. Walking along the beautiful paths near our home, a garter snake crossed his path. At first he thought it was a stick, and went to pick it up and it slithered away. He jumped so high, it was laughable. He watched it with great caution as it slithered away. For weeks after this, he would pat any object that looked like a stick with his paw and then jump back expecting it to move.
Fetching sticks in the river were a favorite. He would never give you the stick back though, so if you threw another he would just go get it too. Then he would stand there with three or four sticks in his mouth, looking up at you waiting for you to throw more. Made me laugh every time. He would even do this silly trick with rocks from the river bed. Standing there with a huge boulder in his mouth looking up at you.
We knew we had gained his trust, when my son in law picked him up, and held him in his arms like a baby. Dalton went completely limp, and lay there loving it. He would often times walk over to him, to get held. The first time on a visit to the Vet, that I was told that he was a little over weight, I must admit I felt a little relieved.
Things started to get really rough with Gram’s health and she was hospitalized a number of times in the last months. I would come home weary and heartbroken, and he would come over and lay his hand or his head in my lap. If I was particularly sad, he would put both hands on my lap, which meant that he wanted to give a hug. I would lean into him, and he would put both of his paws on my shoulders. I don’t know where this dog learned this trick, but he was the best hugger there ever was.
I would fit in my walks with Dalton before heading up to the hospital to see Gram, and she would ask me to see a picture of him with his sticks. It brought a smile to her face every time.
Sadly, Gram passed away. Dalton seemed to know that she wasn’t coming back, as when you asked him where Gramma was, he would walk over to the kitchen chair and then he would come over and give you a hug.
Don’t know who healed who in this relationship. But we as a family are very thankful that Dalton came into our lives.
Love and Light