Guest post by Russ…
They said “You don’t want that one. She is afraid of everyone and will roll over and pee on herself every time you get near her.” But I knew they were wrong. I knew when I saw you through the glass, lying in your kennel. I had been waiting to meet you since I was eight years old, almost twenty years.
Gary across the street had Black Lab hunting dogs and had puppies every year. Of course, we already had dogs, so I never got one of those puppies, but I vowed that when I grew up and had a house for my own dog, I would come find you.
They said you spent the first few months of your life roaming the streets of New Mexico and probably would not be very social. I knew they were wrong and we asked to meet you anyway. You came in the room and the pound caregiver was holding her breath as she dropped the leash. You did not roll over and pee or cower, but for the first time of ten thousand you came up to me and put your head under my hand and pushed up to be pet.
She was shocked, wondered out loud why you were acting that way. I think you were waiting for us like I was waiting for you. You nosed Shawn, you gently peeked at baby Amanda and you sat down on my feet while I pet your ears. Everyone knew you had found home and we had found our beloved friend.
Maybe it was the New Mexico streets or maybe just your need for speed, but you ran and explored whenever the urges got to you. You would wait for the door to open and dart past, then run like the wind. You never went to the close highway and always came home, but not right away or at our command. You just needed to run. We accepted that and went to dog parks and to Chalco Reservoir where you could run safely and we worked on coming back to the sound of a whistle. You would come for the treat, but not to be done running.
Later it was the bean field behind Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Freedom to run and bounce through the field. We all laughed at the black head and back popping up out of the beans every few feet.
In our new house, the first project was a fence to keep you in the yard. You were the fastest dog I ever knew, underestimated by some unfortunate rabbits and squirrels, and you never outgrew the love of running. Still, from the first day, and wherever we moved to, you knew where home was and when to come back.
Well, I figured that our new Lab-Mix puppy would love to play fetch and pick up on it pretty fast, but you just looked at that ball with all the apathy you could muster. I periodically would try fetch with you again, maybe with a ball or another toy. Eventually, maybe five years later, you humored me by fetching a stick a few times, but it was never your thing.
Lab-Mixes ought to love the fact that my parents lived on a lake. You weren’t afraid at all, but you looked at me like you were saying “Why would you make me go in there?” So, water was not your thing either. I would joke with people that you were a Lab that didn’t fetch and didn’t like water, but it was never a big deal to me. We weren’t going to hunt anyway.
Of course, when we met you, we had a baby girl at home. We wondered if having a big puppy, a big dog, would be safe for Amanda. From the first time you nosed her, you were the most gentle and patient dog I had ever met. Amanda grew and was soon grabbing your face, pulling ears, climbing on your back, taking handfuls of fur or tail as she learned to “pet” the doggie.
Then it was her baby friends on play-dates, then her sister Abby. You never snapped, you never growled, you never knocked them over, you never even whined a complaint. Maybe you sometimes pleaded with you eyes, but always with a wagging tail. Unless a kid had hold of it anyway. You loved your kids as much as we all loved you.
Then much later, Joy the puppy tested that patience again. It seemed like you relished having another baby to play with. Joy followed you incessantly and copied your every move. She walked like you. She would lay down by you and look to make sure she had the position just right. I know that she sometimes annoyed you, because, well, she’s Joy. You were like the mother she probably never knew, and you once again showed your patience and love.
I miss the way you put your head under my hand to be pet. I miss the thump of your perpetually wagging tail. I miss the happy noises you made- like Chewbacca. I am so sad that we didn’t have more years together. I know heaven is a bean field full of bunnies and running without getting tired and that Jesus has his hand out for you to push up on and be pet. I will always miss you because I always wanted you and loved you. You were the perfect dog that nobody wanted. You were our dog, the one we wanted and loved, our Ebony.