Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Riley, the curmudgeon.

Under the circumstances of late, I've done a lot of thinking about heart dogs, lately. It's a saying among us dog folks - a heart dog is the sort that just get into your heart, and they're the dogs that you look back on and compare all other dogs to. They're those dogs that you think of, twenty years later, longer, and you realize you had not only a wonderful pet, but you had an animal that understood you as much as you understood them. You remember their gestures, their behavior, you can think of all the things they did and laugh and cry about it.

You can still pick up their collars after years have passed, out of a drawer and a dusty old shelf and the smell of them lingers in there -it brings back an instant, painful loss. Odd, but true. And no, no, I don't go around pulling old collars out and sniffing them. Really.

Now, the thing is, I've decided that there's another quality that doesn't get mentioned as much. A soul dog. A dog who you and they have the exact same outlook on life, and because of it, you just enjoy them and they enjoy you. They don't have that adoration point that perhaps a heart-dog seems to, they don't gaze with worship and love up at you and work their hearts out for you, even when you know they're tired or exhausted or just plain having a day.

Riley, I think is my soul dog. He is positive he is not a dog. He has never been a dog. He does dog things once in a while, but only because Simon forces him into it. He missed out on puppyhood, really, being silly, or doing puppy things. I am lucky, with him. He is my puppy mill rescue, the dog that bit to bite at twelve weeks, who was unpleasant and bitter and downright a terrorist when I got him, a a tough, tough cookie to crack in so many ways.

The only person that he truly, truly thinks understands him is me, and he rarely wags, rarely bounces around with a toy. He matured quickly into this dignifed, polite, long suffering dog. He sleeps in until two in the afternoon when he can. He barely ever licks; if he does, it's because I need cheering up -- but no one else gets to see. His one weakness is candy, of any sort, heh....

He's never missed a day at the shop. That is his job, the one he has chosen for himself. He works, he is the employee I've got who can be throwing up and will still stagger to the car, regardless. If I need to go somewhere at two in the morning, he's waiting for me quietly to get into the car, no matter the rain, the cold, the snow. Both of us get short-tempered, hahaha, both of us are terrible about grudges, I can admit it. We're not fond of ill-behaved children in the shop, but both of us tolerate it and grumble about it when they're gone. He never seems to forget an insult or an injury.
Then, every once in a blue moon, he surprises me with his humor. He knows the sound of the camera and immediately poses for the shot, and knows not to move until the shutter clicks. I have all these pictures of him with these huge grins, when it's just the two of us. He dances around my feet when no one's looking. Sometimes the stub even wiggles as he grins a big grin and it's a secret, just between the two of us. We wrestle and he growls and grunts a Corgigrunt and I laugh back at him as he laughs at me.

And then we're done, and no one's any the wiser. ;)


dreameyce said...

I honestly know what you mean. While my Cocker Robbie was my heart dog, the dog for the rest of my life I'll tear up when I think about, Traum is a soul-mate dog.

I love both equal, but there's a differnt kind of connection going on. People always look at me weird when I refer to Traum as my soul dog, but there really is a difference. :)

Shep said...

Absolutely, it is a difference. Riley is truly a dog that I don't think I'll ever own another dog like him.

That's exactly what it is, a different type of connection. The other dogs I've owned just wanted to work for love and affection and a 'good dog!'

With Riles, it's been, "Earn it, lady." and while it's been hard, it's incredibly rewarding in that no one honestly suspects what a nasty, bitter, unhappy animal he was before living with me. I've never met a 12 week old puppy so downright nasty at times, wow.

It's a weird thing, haha, gone over to look at my Arab in Seattle, saw him in the parking lot being walked by a kid through the cars. Having Piper, of course, you have to go, "Ahhh, puppppppy" and you could see even then there was something a little off about his attitude.

Talked Corgi a bit with the teenager who had him, and said, "They're wonderful, but man, they can be a handful, stubborn and demanding."

Three weeks later, a friend of his mother called the shop and said, "You, you're the lady with the Corgi! Help, my friend needs to get rid of hers. Today. Now, he's just horrible, and she cannot deal with this. He bites, he screams, he attacks other puppies, and he will not housebreak."

He did all those things, whoo boy. Luckily, I had my old girl and myself, and between us, we taught him a crash course in manners. He has physical issues that put him on Proin, and that solved all of his housebreaking issues - but I sure as heck don't have carpet because of him. He would trot and not realize he was wetting. Still to this day, he can be kind of touchy about it.

Lol - she still comes in, and she's a nice, nice lady. She admits totally that she made an impulse buy from a pet store, and that he was a puppy mill dog, and way too much dog for her, she just liked how cute he was, and the kids talked her into him. 1500.00, too. Wow.

... they now own a darling Westie, from a GOOD breeder, and he's well-behaved, and they talk about the pitfalls of puppy-mills to everyone who asks. I think that's a good thing, he sure did his job. ;)