Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not What I Expected to Write About

I have learned to expect the unexpected. Our dog Goldy came from a no kill shelter. She’d been there for a year and a half during her formative years and as a result she has never acted like any of our other dogs. We’ve had all kinds - the only thing they’ve all had in common is that somebody didn’t want them anymore.

We don’t know Goldy’s story. Only that she was found wandering in the street in Venice (California, not Italy) and she lived in the a shelter in the Santa Monica mountains for a long time. They were kind at the shelter and she got time every day to run around with another dog, but because she never lived with a person she never learned to bond with people.

We think someone might have adopted her from the shelter and brought her back for that reason. Most dogs can’t get enough attention and want you to pet them until your hand falls off. Not Goldy. Too much attention seems to make her uncomfortable. She spends her days sitting in her chair or laying in my bed. She will only lay in my bed when I’m not in it. A big change from our other dogs who used to take up the whole thing and leave me a sliver on the edge.

Oddly she doesn’t care much about food. Another terrier mix we adopted and renamed Lucky (for obvious reasons) was into everything. I left a grocery bag on the floor with a white paper bad with two croissants in it. When I came in the room a moment later, Lucky had the white paper bag on her nose. Of course it was now empty. Another of our dogs, Dusty, was a master at getting food from anywhere. We were having a party once and were keeping her and her dog friends outside. She got in the house and within a minute had a whole plate of roast beef on the floor. Then there was Blacky. He showed up in front of our house and we’re pretty sure somebody dumped him out of a car on our street. He looked like a mop and you couldn’t tell one end of him from the other. I caught him in the kitchen sink, eating a bowl of leftover salad.

With Goldy, I can leave anything anywhere and she doesn’t care. She’s never knocked over the trash or snatched anything off a plate. She barely wanted her own food, though in time my husband began sharing his dinner with her. She likes that and will sit politely near him, taking whatever he offers, but then when he’s done, she just walks back to her chair.

The only time she gets excited is when I it gets dark and I take her for a walk. As much as she’s anxious for the walk, she seems to like it when I pet her and tell her what a good dog she is and how much I love her. I wait to walk her until dark as there is less chance to bump into other dogs. Unfortunately, it makes it more likely we’ll run into coyotes. We have twice. The first one ignored us and went off into the darkness. The second time which was a couple of weeks ago, it followed us. Goldy weighs about 20 pounds, but the coyote was acting weird and I was afraid it might attack her, so I carried her home - not so easy with a slippery nylon jacket on a bag of you know what and my walking stick.

Goldy was totally silent around the coyotes, but when she sees other dogs, she comes unglued. I think she is afraid of them, even though we had Lucky when we got Goldy and they lived together for a year until Lucky died. Goldy does love cats. She loved Einstein until he died and is fond of Rocky and Spago, the 8 and 11 year old cats we got from the SPCA a year and a half ago.

Did I mention that Goldy doesn’t bark much? The doorbell rings, she doesn’t care. The phone guy is working on the phones practically next to her chair, and she doesn’t make a sound. She also has always seemed indifferent to our comings and goings.

But here’s the change. After all these years, out of nowhere, she’s started coming to the door and acting excited when we come home - at night that is. She even barks and wags her tail. It makes me wonder what other surprises she has in store.

All of what I just wrote was a surprise to me. I was just going to say something about old dogs learning new tricks and then move on how I’m working on my knitting skills, but the Goldy story just kept coming. Sorry, Linda, for getting into the pet area.


Mason Canyon said...

What a wonderful story. I guess it just took time for her to realize you weren't going to return her to the shelter and that you would protect her. I think animals have way more feelings and emotions than we humans realize sometimes.

Peg said...

You're obviously a dog-lover, and it's wonderful that Goldy found you. It's amazing how long it can take for a pet to get over the traumas in their lives. Keep up the good work.

Monica Ferris said...

I think animals have complex emotional lives. They just aren't deep thinkers. I have lots of stories about animals I've observed surprising me with their almost-human emotional responses to situations.

Betty Hechtman said...

I agree Mason, I think dogs and cats remember that they were abandoned once.

I bet your stories are great, Monica. I remember the one you told about the rabbit when we were on the panel at Malice.

signlady217 said...

Not fair--you made me cry! I'm glad Goldy is beginning to come out of her shell. That's a good sign that you've been doing the right things. My mom had a cocker spaniel/?? mix named Ginger for about 18 years,from the time she was a pup, and then got a cute little Chihuahua pup she named Little Bit (about 3 years old now) and it is crazy sometimes how "human" they can act! I usually sleep on a air mattress or mat when I visit my mom, and one week when I was there, Little Bit would creep up close to the bed every night, lick my hand and take off; we figured she was just kissing me good-night! Weird little dog!

Linda O. Johnston said...

What a delightful and uplifting story, Betty! No need to apologize to me. I'm thrilled when a pet rescue story goes so well. Goldy obviously now realizes she's a member of your pack and has a forever home with you.

Janel said...

You really have to wonder what the fur-children are thinking sometimes. It sounds like Goldy really loves her new home with you and it's clear that you love her too.

Betty Hechtman said...

Peg, it is amazing how long it has taken Goldy. We've had her close to seven years.

Signlady, loved your Litte Bit good night kiss story.

Linda, I like happy stories about pets, too. As I'm writing this, I have a cat on my lap looking for all the attention Goldy doesn't care about.

Betty Hechtman said...

Jane, it isn't exactly Goldy's new home. It's just taken her years to realize its permanent.