This is the story of how I ended up with Aussie. He was born on a ranch in western Colorado; the runt in a litter of nine Cattle Dog puppies. Nine unplanned puppies, as far as the rancher was concerned, so the litter ended up at a local farm and feed store that also doubled as a shelter for unwanted farm dogs.
I did not plan on getting a puppy when I went into the store that day. I was simply going in to buy rabbit food and litter for my bunnies. The way the shop was laid out, though, made it impossible to enter any area without first passing the wall of dogs. I refer to it as ‘the wall of dogs’ because it was literally a wall made up of large dog crates that housed several puppies in each… Each except for one. One crate in the middle had only one puppy inside. He was black and white with sad brown eyes and a round little potbelly. He sat very still near the front of the crate and rested one oversized paw on the door. As I walked by, his eyes followed me. I tried to look away, to ignore the pleading gaze, but an invisible force stopped me. I stared at him. He stared back at me.
“Hi,” I said.
*thump. thump. thump.* Went his white-tipped tail slowly beating against the floor of the crate. Other than that, he remained still and continued to stare at me. A shop attendant approached me from the front desk and asked me if I wanted to handle the puppy.
“Yes!” I blurted out; though my brain was saying ‘NO! You don’t need a puppy. Get the rabbit supplies and run away!’
Rarely does my brain get much say in the matter… About 30 seconds later I found myself in a room behind the wall of dogs, and the attendant was placing the puppy in my arms. As calm as the little furball had been behind bars, he erupted into a frenzy of excitement as soon as I was holding him. He wiggled and flailed around, rolled on the ground and contorted himself so he could bite his own tail, and then he hopped up and rammed into me like a charging goat before spinning in a circle and plopping down in my lap where he began to gnaw on my hand.
“I’ll take him.” I told the attendant.
I won’t go into the adopter’s remorse I felt for several weeks after this major life decision… Not now at least. I won’t talk about the heathen beast this puppy was for the first two years of his life, or all of the work it took me to mold him into a socially acceptable companion. I will save that for another post at another time.
I will say, though, that I learned more life lessons from this puppy than I learned from most people I’ve met. He taught me patience through his relentless refusal to obey me; loyalty and commitment – because I promised to care for him no matter how much of an ass he chose to be (and he often chose to be a BIG ass.) Most importantly, though, he taught me unconditional love.
Six years have passed and Aussie is now a well-behaved and loving, albeit ornery and overly-communicative dog. You will hear a lot more about him if you follow my blog. It’s been an interesting relationship between my pup and I, but I regret nothing. The best things in life are worth working hard for. And the greatest of characters can never truly be tamed.