I have a lot of faith in God.
I have to.
Without Him there are things I can’t make sense of and it would make me crazy.
I talk to Him a lot.
His casual reply for the most part comes to me not through a canyon in the Rocky Mountains, but through – or because of – a dog I know.
I truly believe that we all have a path that is somewhat predestined and the forks in the road that are presented to us are our choices and decisions – the stuff that is up to us.
Most of my big decisions in life, I have realized in – or through – a dog.
I totally and completely believe that each dog we develop a relationship with, whether they are our personal dog or not, has purpose.
I understand that not everyone realizes this about dogs.
If you are reading this, you probably feel as I do. If you don’t, maybe you will one day.
Someone I know of recently made a decision about a dog that I have a feeling – a very good feeling – will change their life dramatically.
Some people might consider the situation and think it is not a wise choice. Though everything about it – to me – seems all right.
This person is about to embark upon the ride of a lifetime.
I can’t wait to hear how it unfolds.
I know from my own ride around this circle of dogs that romp into our lives and when – and why it happens – and what it brings – is all about.
For nearly all of my adult life we have owned a dog.
Our first dog was a power-house in-her-prime 125 pounds of muscle white German Shepherd Dog named Rosalita, Rosie for short.
Rosie was a formidable package of intelligence, fun and silly acts for an animal of her stature and devoted, frightful, brutal dominance.
She would have killed to protect me – she had the opportunity three times. Twice from what could have resulted in a very bad situation for me if she were not with me, and once from one of the unwelcomed door-to-door kids that used to come around the neighborhood to sell the miracle cleaner stuff and walk without invitation and not heeding to warning into our back yard.
Good thing he sold the miracle cleaner, because he needed it for his pants when he rapidly and violently departed our property.
Rosie was with us for nearly 14 years.
Rosie led me to decisions at forks in my path that were bigger than I ever realized at the time.
She took care of me when I was incapable of caring for myself as a young woman. She was and still is my guardian – or as I like to say – better angel. I can never, ever repay her for all she did for me. She was one of the two most advanced souls I have ever known in my life, the other being Hazel, my friend Susie’s Hachikō.
Rosie left us quickly and with clean efficiency, as anyone who knew her would expect of her. Eight dark months dragged along without a dog in the house.
Then came Sadie.
I had my heart set on a Border Collie. I thought she was never going to come home.
I remained resolute.
When she got here, I had grand plans for the two of us.
In the end we did none of the things I had planned.
And it didn’t matter one bit.
I often say that I learned all I needed to know about life growing up along a major thoroughfare in a town that time had long-passed by – even back then.
Sadie taught me how to apply all that I learned there.
I was never disappointed by any of the things that we didn’t do.
Sweet Sadie stole our hearts and drove a stake through them when she left us just shy of her 15th birthday.
Two weeks to the day Sadie left to run with her best friend and honestly – only – dog friend ever, Hazel, among the stars in the night sky, Boo Rowdy plopped herself directly in the holes that were still oozing in our chests.
Just as I did with Sadie, I made all the wrong moves finding Boo.
But it all felt so right from the very moment I saw her picture.
I found her on the AKC site and learned she was only four or so hours away. I half-heartedly emailed the breeder expecting her to be sold and in seconds he emailed me back.
She was available.
My heart jumped.
Two previous agreements to purchase her had fallen through.
He sent me a picture of her. I turned the computer to my husband.
“She has a half white face and a pink eye,” he mused. “Is it always going to be pink?”
We still laugh about that one.
Was it too soon, we wondered?
Sadie had only just crossed – this very evening two weeks before was our last night with our beloved Wild Thing.
Are we crazy?
Are we merely heartbroken, rushing into this?
Another picture came, one the breeder had just taken.
My heart skipped again.
I knew right then she was meant to be with me.
I want her, I emailed back. We’ll be there around one in the afternoon.
I think he was a little taken aback, and when I spoke to him in the morning with a very bad connection, I thought he believed we wouldn’t show.
I loaded the truck with Sadie’s old travel crate and away we went, northbound on 95.
On the way I tossed back and forth how Sadie would feel about this. You had to know our Sadie-Girl. She wasn’t like most dogs – actually – she wasn’t like any dog I’d ever known.
She was all her own dog, and all purely, wholly, simply, Sadie. She was a rebel.
We loved her so hard.
I knew she was eager to be on her way to run the night sky with Hazel, and our sadness was keeping her spirit close by. Rosie had chosen Sadie for us all those years ago. One day I’ll tell about how I know that, but for now, it’s a story for another day.
I honestly believe that Sadie went to Rosie and pestered her so badly to find Boo quickly, that Rosie – my better angel – got up from the spot she resides in Heaven – between my husband’s mother and my mother – to bring Boo to us so Sadie would be released from us in a sense – that she had fulfilled her destiny at that point here on Earth.
This may sound like a justification, but to me, it’s very real.
The breeder had to leave town for job training and was concerned about Boo not being placed.
“Puppies need raising,” he told us.
We pulled in and Boo ran directly to me from where she was beating up on her brother and rolling him around on the ground under the Ford truck. He was also being picked up that day – a man was flying in from Costa Rica to purchase him.
She had just been bathed and had a bright pink collar on. She was warm and wriggling and happy to see me.
As she kissed me, I knew she knew I was coming.
I picked her up and looked in her eyes – she looked straight back at me – and she still does that – look straight back at me.
The Golden Thread had begun its weave between us as it fell lightly off the Spool of Souls.
While my husband talked to the breeder about his expansive land, and asked a lot of questions, because that’s what he does, asks a lot of questions, I held eye contact with Boo and whispered so only she could hear,
“You were meant to be with me.”
The breeder watched me holding Boo as we went in the house and met her parents, signed the paperwork and paid for her.
He took her from me and carried her to the truck, hugging her one last time. I opened the door to the truck and he saw the crate set up – he looked back at me.
“You planned on bringing home a dog today,” he said.
“Yes, sir, I did,” I answered. To myself I thought, “This dog.”
He petted Boo and said good-bye to her and placed her in the crate.
He turned and smiling at me said,
“She was meant to be with you.”
I caught my breath. The casual reply from my talk with God as we drove north on 95 earlier that day.
I smiled back.
“I will always take good care of her.”
He nodded and smiled and asked me to please send him some pictures of her from time to time, which I have done.
As time went by we were met head-on by a lot of challenges that I refer to as “Raising Boo.”
At first I was frustrated and even angry at my inability to make things happen in what I had thought was the way it was supposed to.
Everyone else in puppygarten and in early obedience classes seemed to be moving along so swiftly.
Except Boo and me.
In the early days at puppy obedience class one night, Harry came up to me and gave me a kind smile. I was struggling. He knew from the beginning that Boo was a special, smart and good dog. He knew I needed help.
He stood there for a moment looked at Boo – who was lunging at him and doing 360 flips in the air trying to get to him at the end of the leash – and said, “You know, this is supposed to be fun. You don’t look like you are having fun. Relax. You need to make this fun for you both. That’s your job.”
In our second round of obedience with Harry, we made huge progress, thanks in most part to his devotion to the Boo-Think cause and to teaching me.
“Boo’s a good dog, and you have both worked hard,” he told me on the last day of our classes with him. He was proud as well of the advances Boo had made.
“She’s smart, she just thinks differently and you have to think with her, not against her. Whatever you do, don’t give up on her – remember it’s all about controlling the chaos that is Boo. She was meant to be with you.”
Another casual reply to my current talks to God about what to do about Raising Boo.
We carried on with training on our own and at the Farm, where we were steadily developing our bond and weaving our Golden Thread through working together.
This past summer, I realized we needed another change, and that was with our vet. We had a great team of vets – they were amazing with Sadie especially through her last year and I will be forever grateful to them for their care of her, and of me. They are a young couple that purchased the practice from our original vet, who we loved very much. We had been going there for over thirty years and three dogs.
But we needed more than clinical treatment when it came to Boo’s care – needs that would be tough for them to supply at a traditional practice.
I thought of what Harry had said about not working against Boo, but working with Boo. Mike had taught me the same thing.
I thought how Mike would nod when I ran things past him and always say, “You know your dog.”
Mike encouraged me to make the change.
Susie did as well.
My husband always has my back regarding Boo.
I emailed Donna.
I needed someone who could observe Boo in her “Native Boo-ness,” to help me understand some things. Donna was perfect – I needed to bounce my ideas off of her and take advantage of her extensive, varied and colorful experiences and globe-trekking veterinary medical training.
Donna was the mobile vet who pretty much dropped everything to come to our home to give Sadie her peace. Sadie didn’t ride well, the vet trips stressed her out as dementia took over more and more of her waking hours. After a beautiful life, I couldn’t take her into the practice and wait surrounded by other dogs and people for an anxious ending on a steel table. I knew it had to be here, at her beloved home, which we then called “Sadie World Resort” so her transition would be a peaceful one void of disorder and anxiety.
Sadie was all about order. Her order.
After that process, I could never get Donna out of my mind. She was amazing. She isn’t your typical vet, and, she’s a Border Collie Mom. She agreed to treat Boo. Much of her practice is palliative and hospice care, as well as being the on-call vet for the local wildlife rescue. It will be a nice balance she told me, to treat Boo for wellness care as well as to help get a handle on some issues for you both.
Donna is never critical of Boo and accepts her for who she is. She knows that Boo does not fit into a box.
The first visit we spent an hour and a half talking and reviewing Boo’s history. Due to Boo’s adversity to being “handled,” and after a bad experience at the previous vet, I muzzle trained her.
Boo came to me when Donna pulled in and we put the muzzle on and met outside for the initial exam. Donna gave Boo her room and earned her trust. Afterwards, I took the muzzle off and Donna came in to watch Boo in her home environment – or – “Native Boo-ness.” We talked and she observed while Boo kissed her and wriggled and showed off her roller ball expertise. Donna immediately made some changes in Boo’s wellness treatments and prevention treatments in line with her observations.
The second visit went even better. Boo was still Boo – but a calmer Boo. The changes were happening steadily and rapidly and also making a huge difference in her willingness to be handled among other things.
Donna lets Boo decide where she wants to be for her shots and physicals. On the second visit, Boo greeted Donna pleasantly and then put her muzzle on – and she decided to have her shots under her Dad’s truck, in the driveway.
And that was okay with Donna, who crawled partway under with her and took care of business.
As we were sitting in the living room at the end of the visit and discussing the changes in her and where to go from here we watched Boo fly by playing roller ball.
Donna smiled and shook her head, “I would hate to think of what would have happened to Boo with another owner.” She turned and looked at me and said,
“She was meant to be with you.”
“I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly…”
Or never brought home that dog that God had casually replied so many times, was meant to be with you.