Strider

July 19, 2006 § 5 Comments

This week, Matt and I are pet-sitting my ex-dog. That’s right– my ex-dog. Yes, he’s still a dog, but he’s no longer my dog. Several years ago, I moved to North Carolina to stay with a friend who’s husband was deployed to Iraq. While down there, I visited the animal shelter they had in Fort Bragg, just to look. (It’s always just to look, isn’t it?)

Of course, all of the dogs were going nuts and barking– except for one. This one tawny colored big puppy was just looking at me, not making a sound, but looking me straight in the eye with these pale topaz eyes. I looked at all the dogs but kept coming back to him. He just sat up perfectly straght, not taking his eyes off of me, and i could hear his silent plea “Take me home!” In all the cacophony, he was silent and stoic, but I sensed something even deeper. This was a dog of quality. This was a Good Dog. The only time he made a sound was when I turned to walk away. He let loose one quiet yet powerful woof, and when I looked back there was the plea of “Please don’t leave me here!” in his eyes.

That night, I kept drawing pictures of him in my sketch book. The dog had captured my heart and I knew he was my dog. So we went back the next day and I got him. He wouldn’t leace my side from the moment I took him home, and he almost never barked. Because of his silent stoicism, and the fact that he was a military stray, i thought Strider was a good name for him.

Then hard times hit, and i had to move back home with my parents. They didn’t like the fact that he sheds, and told me I had to get rid of him. It was absolutley heartbreaking. I didn’t want to give him to just anyone. Finally some friends of mine who were getting married said they would take him if my parents would let me keep him till after the wedding. My parents agreed, and then began the letting go process. My friend told me, “If you give him to us, it won’t be temporary. It has to be for good. We aren’t keeping him for you, he will be our dog.” Suffice it to say, there were many tears.

After the wedding, I started taking Strider to Steve and Gina’s almost every day to get used to them. Then I would leave him over night. Finally came the day when he was staying for good. I cried and cried. But I knew I could visit him whenever I wanted. Still, he wasn’t going to be my dog anymore.

To this day, I think he still thinks he’s my dog. He just lives with Steve and Gina. But when I come to visit, i get such smiles hugs and love (Gina trained him to give hugs– it’s so cute) and he always knows when I’m coming. A couple of times right after he started living there, he would run to my car and jump in like “Ok Mom, take me home now!” Those were sad times for me. But Gina and Steve have always made me pet-sitter number one when they go away, and now that we have Mocha, he can come over to us when they take a trip.

So it’s been a good week. Strider and Mocha get along famously, and they play like they’re puppies all the time. It’s more like two bulls in a china shop, but they haven’t broken anything and it’s funny to watch.

I think my mom felt guilty about making me give up Strider. A couple of months later, they went out and got a Rhodesian Ridgeback from the local shelter. It was more like salt in the wound than anything, but she and i bonded– even though she’s not half as smart as good old sStrider, nor half as quiet and calm. But my parents gave her to us as a wedding present and I love her. She loves me to pieces, and definitely thinks she’s “my dog.” She may not be smart, and she may be a tad clumsy (ok, more than a tad) but she knows what love is. She’s a Good Dog too. But not as good as Strider. I don’t think any dog will ever be.

But we won’t tell her that.

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