It all started with a light-hearted comment at work about getting a dog one day. I had been married about a year and my husband worked for an airline, so we were enjoying our chance to see the world … or at least the United States. Then a phone call from a co-worker changed our entire lives of wonderful freedom to go wherever, whenever.
I wasn’t excited about the phone call, because it was from one of my least favorite sales guys. I expected some outrageous request, but instead he asked if I was still interested in getting a dog. He told me about this pathetic little dog he and his wife had found roaming a busy street. He told me that the dog’s tongue stuck out and she had an underbite, which conjured a very ugly picture.
He also said that he was planning to take the dog to the pound, because he and his wife already had dogs. I didn’t want to seem heartless, so I asked him to bring a picture to work. I figured that would give me time to come up with a great excuse as to why I could not take her.
Since I had no plans of getting the dog, I did not even mention it to my husband. The next day, the salesman came in carrying a medium-sized dog carrier. Then I remembered — but I had told him to bring a picture, NOT a dog! I was speechless.
He set down the carrier and opened it and the littlest, rattiest, most pathetic dog walked out, jumped on my lap, and looked in my eyes. She was extremely thin and had fur missing around her neck, but she seemed to melt into my arms. Her sad eyes seemed to tell me that I was her last hope.
That was the end of my freedom. “I guess she is yours!” the salesman said. One of my co-workers wanted to hold the ratty dog, so I went to hand her over, but the dog did not want anyone but me. Seven years later, so it remains. She chose me, and that was the end of the discussion.
I called my husband to let him know. He started asking crazy questions, like “Is she fixed?” “Is she house trained?” “Does she have her shots?” I told him the only thing I knew was that she was coming home with me. He was not happy with this, or the decision I had made without his input.
I headed to the closest pet store and got everything I could think of that she might need: food, bowls, toys, leashes, beds. Then we headed home to let the little ratty dog’s eyes make their case to my husband, who was not OK with losing his freedom (especially to a little ratty dog).
My husband was sitting, resolute, on the couch. I sat the little ratty dog with the extra-long tongue and the underbite on his lap. She gave him the same look she gave me, and just like that, she had found her home!
I would like to say that everything went smoothly, but this is real life and a real rescue. That night, the little ratty dog jumped on the bed and burrowed under the covers as soon as my husband said that no dog would ever sleep in his bed. (Needless to say, she still sleeps there today!)
I woke up to her sitting on my chest, staring at me. I assumed this meant it was time to go out. So we went out and she completed her business. We came back to bed and I threw the leash on the floor. About 10 minutes later I noticed that the little dog was lying next to the leash, shaking. I went to try and pick her up and she growled and snapped at me.
I couldn’t figure it out, because she had just been outside, frolicking. I pulled the leash from under her so I could grab her but she snapped at me again. Not knowing where to turn, I called the vet. The lovely assistant at the vet’s office asked me a series of questions that led to the discovery that my little ratty dog was guarding her leash.
This was one of many odd behaviors that we would later learn most likely stemmed from previous and extensive abuse. The poor little ratty dog was scared of men, bowls, and plates. She guarded and stashed food all over the house, she did not like my husband to touch me, and she HATED her tail or rear end to be touched.
This little ratty dog, who we named Roxy because it was the only thing she would respond to, had become the biggest pain and yet the biggest blessing. I had no idea that dogs were just abandoned on the street. I had not wanted a dog because I knew about the responsibility caring for another life would bring.
What I did not expect was all that I received from this little ratty dog. Little Roxy was the catalyst who thrust me into animal rescue.
Because of Roxy, I now have five misfit dogs, each with their own issues from their former lives, and each with their own valuable lessons in life, love, trust, and healing. Each has a story as great as Roxy’s, and countless others have passed through our little pack on the way to their own happy ending in their own forever homes. And it’s all thanks to one little ratty dog.
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