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Friday, February 1, 2013

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

{My Old Girl Clementine, yes, she always looks this sad.}
Please excuse the old nasty sleeping bag she sleeps on- she likes it. And the hay pile she created- she likes it too. And the old motorcycle behind her, that belongs to one of our friends, who asked if we could store it for "a while...."
I am going to tell you the story of the day I almost lost my old girl forever.
I remember it like it was yesterday, well because it was.... But first let me tell you how this very sad looking girl came to be my side kick for the past 8 years or so.
I received Clementine or "Momma Dog" as I call her, about 8 years ago as a gift from one of my best girlfriends. I had always wanted a Bloodhound.  We went to a local breeder together and picked her out. They said she was the sweetest and shy-est of the litter, so of course I picked her.  I have a bit of quiet, shy-ness to me too (I know, doesn't seem that way does it, but ask the Hubs, my quiet side often gets me questioned as to "are you ok"-- and it is just me, kinda not knowing what to do or say, so I just get quiet and shy) I immediatly fell in love with the shy quiet bloodhound who didn't demand my attention as all her sisters did, and who simply raised her eyebrows when I came over to see them. 
I took her home with me, and raised her from a puppy. She has always, always been painfully shy, painfully skittish, and has never seemed to get over being afraid of her own shadow.  People scare the hell out of her.  Any people.  She loves other animals though, and just wants to be their friends. She once befriended an armadillo who she allowed to eat from her food bowl every night.  She did the same thing with a field mouse.  She is not very smart. This is just a fact. She is the sweetest soul I have ever met, but when it comes to figuring out her little dog life problems, she requires a little help, a little patience, and a lot of careful coaxing.
Clem and I survived starting our lives over again together, and she came with me when I decided to completely start again about 4 years ago.  It was not easy for either of us, but my old girl came along with me.  She is one of the very, very few things I retained from my former life.
Clementine lived at my parent's place while I lived in apartments and figured out where my life was going.  Life started to change for the best for me, and I met and married the Hubs, and finally settled down in our little country home we now share. One afternoon he surprised me by building a huge doghouse and informing me we would be moving Clementine in with us now, and she and I would officially be back where we needed to be. Back together, and back in a real house we could make a home.
My old girl took some coaxing, and was still very leary of this new man in my life.  But with time, and patience, and weeks of letting her sniff at him from a safe distance, the Hubs finally won over my old girl, and she realized this new Hubs guy was pretty awesome.  She is still a bit scared of  The Monkey, but even that is getting better.  She sits now and lets him pet her, and occasionally sniffs him until he falls over giggling.
But my old girl was still lonely, and needed a dog friend.  Those are her favorite kind.  So....we adopted Jack. A black labrador retriever we found waiting to be put down at the animal shelter.  He had been returned by his last adoptive family just days earlier (maybe that should have been a clue...)  So, we took him home.  It was love at first sight!  Old girl LOVED Jack, and loved playing with him, and running and having a dog friend at last. It literally took years off of her appearance.
Oh, but Mr. Jack is no ordinary dog.  He is a street dog, clearly.  He has no room in his life for fences, or quaint little back yards with chickens and vegetable gardens.  No, he prefers the mean streets where he can run with his gang of hooligans who wait for him in my driveway... every.single.morning.  No really, a band of misfit dogs wait for their gang leader, Jack, every morning in my yard.  While chewing up my news paper and crapping on my sidewalk.  Sigh. 
Jack comes and goes as he pleases from our fenced back yard every day.  The Hubs spent an entire weekend rebuilding the fence so that it is 6 feet tall.  No match for a such a street gang leader, he flat foots it over the fence each morning. Most of our neighborhood actually knows his name, and where he lives, and just casually call us or bring him back. Oh Jack, the local gang king pin.
Well, yesterday my old girl had had enough of this.  Jack had left her again in the back yard with nothing to play with but the chickens. (And she knows they are off limits after an unfortunate- I am going to say- "accidental chicken manslaughter" case last Spring, the Hubs will call it chicken MURDER..whatever)
Ms. Clem decided to dig her way out of the fence and use that nose to go track down Jack.  (Now, please feel free to send me "bad dog mom" emails and scold me for what I am about to tell you)....Clem has no tag. She has no micro chip.  She has no identifying information on her at all.  Just a hot pink collar.  I never thought she needed it, she has never, ever gotten out.
So late last night I got a phone call.  A woman who lived in the neighborhood behind us had found Jack and had called the number on his tag.  "He plays with her kids every day."  She said  but today we decided to call and let us know he was still there after dark.  I have received these calls THOUSANDS of times.  "Ok, ok, thank you, where do you live, ok, we will be there in a minute to get him, yes, he is sweet, yes, thank you.." 
Then she mentioned "Oh and we found this old hound dog, frantically wandering and whining, and she wouldn't really come to us, but she was following Jack."  Say WHAT!!? My old girl!? Out and wandering at night!  They had apparently captured her in their garage using bologna as bait (Poor old Momma Dog, I know, you are a sucker for some bologna)
This lovely lady proceeded to tell me that this "pathetic old dog was so scared and worried that they just had to help her, and planned on taking her to the Bloodhound Rescue in the MORNING!"
"That is my dog!" I shouted.  "She has never gotten out!" I told the woman. 
"Well she had no tag or anything, so we were just going to take her to the rescue" 
"I will be right over!" I yelled.  I grabbed the Hubs and we went and got both of our dogs.
I almost lost my Old Girl forever.  She has been through so much with me, I just can't believe I almost lost her.

She was very sorry....

She is spending the day in the garage until we can get the yard secured again tonight.  And I will be getting her an i.d. tag tonight too.

No one could love and understand this dog like I do.  I know she is a little slow, and painfully shy, but that is who she is. And she thinks I am the best person in the whole world.  Oh, if I could only be the person my old girl thinks I am.


  1. Hon, you ARE the person she thinks you are. And she is to date the sweetest dog I know. I just can't believe she fell in with that hoodlum dog of mine. We've told her time and time again that he was trouble, and she just keeps hanging with her.

    By the way, intentionally and knowingly causing the death of another is MURDER... ESPECIALLY when you eat your victim. Jeffery Dahmer of her!

    1. Those chickens asked for it, strutting around, looking all tasty...