May 1, 2007 by Marj Hatzell
I don’t know if I am channeling St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua (Patron Saints of animals) or St. Rocco (Patron saint of Dogs) or perhaps it is that I am living the life of a Disney Princess, but animals cannot stay away from me.
I will be the first to admit I am a dog lover. I have had a dog nearly every moment of our life, save the three years when we lived in our first apartment. During those times I had fish and a bird. I have always liked going to the zoo (even though they make me sad) and I enjoy seeing animals in the wild.
But in my back yard?
We have had drays of squirrels in our yard (it’s a real word, I looked it up), enough rabbits to recreate Watership Down and stray flocks of seagulls, I kid you not. There are cats, dogs, snakes (Yes, snakes! And not on a plane!) raccoons, bats and opossums. Now, in our old house we had deer. Here the strangest thing we’ve seen is a hawk. I’m telling you, any minute now I will be standing out there, a bird will land on my finger and I will begin singing in a high falsetto voice (I’m an alto) a la Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. Without the beauty part.
Perhaps the most bizarre occurrence the past two weeks is the fact that no less than six dogs have made their way to my home. They are always very happy to see me, I give them some water and try to look at their collars, if they are wearing one. Often times they are just a few blocks from home. One day the dog was a few miles off course. The owners are always elated that I took the time to call them. Of course I did! How could I not? I’ve not been bitten yet, although if I ever do get nibbled on by one of these wayward pooches I doubt it will deter me. I am that much of a dog nut. We recently had Shad Roe the Wonder Mutt implanted with a microchip for this very reason. If she is ever found (and hopefully brought to a shelter. She is well-behaved and happy, I know folks would be tempted to keep her) all a vet or shelter has to do is scan her neck with a bar-code reader to find out who she is. The statistic is that most dogs lose their collars a few blocks from home, so we felt it was best, even though she never runs away, to have instant identification.
How deep does the animal thing go around here? Well, I know the names of every dog in our neighborhood, or at least the ones that walk by our yard each day. I rarely pass a pet in public (see what I did there? Alliteration!) without pausing to pamper the pretty pooch (I love it when I get all creative on my bad self). I have the local animal shelter sites bookmarked on my browser and I look at it at least once a week. I have even conceived a devious plan, unbeknownst to my Darling Husband, to get an animal worthy of training to be a canine companion/therapy dog for Bugaboo when he is a few years older. When my in-laws got their own doggies, they called me to find out the scoop. I am that much in love with dogs. Even though Darling says that Shadow is our first and last k-9, I have simply explained to him (read: had a temper tantrum and pouted) that I must have a dog. Forever. I will always have one.
Shadow came to us just after I finally finished my Bachelor’s (after nine years, two drop-outs and four majors). We watched a friend’s dog for a month while she vacationed with family in Florida over the Christmas holidays. When that dog went home,I could see in my husband’s eyes that he wanted this even more than I did. One night, the last day of January, he convinced me to run errands in Media. A block away from the SPCA. And what do you know! They have the cutest pups! Let’s look! So we did. In the cage of the ten abandoned, black, fuzzy puppies was the runt of the litter. The only female of the litter. They were just available that night. They were dirty, sick and mangy and we could not resist taking one home. We picked the teeny one, scooped her up and she fell asleep in our arms. It turns out that three of her litter mates were adopted to homes in our neighborhood that day! And the runt of the litter became the largest one of them by twenty pounds, once we sorted out the food allergies, mange, worms, ticks and fleas. A month later I was preggers with the Bug Boy. So, in essence, Shadow was a trial run.
My husband thinks I am nuts but I would LOVE to have another puppy. I know it is tons of work in the beginning but it is seriously very rewarding. No one looks as happy to see you as a dog does. No one thinks you look (and smell) so good after two days of not bathing as a dog. Bath? Who needs ’em! Just rub my belly! A little to the left…ahhh..that’s it.