Almost a year ago, back in February of 2007, I wrote a blog about my Golden retriever, Honey Bear, who passed away in March of 2005. At that time, I had intended to also blog about my German Shepard, Gutenberg, who passed away a year later; however, it was just too emotional. Recently, a blogger friend, Sometimes Saintly Nick, began writing a multi part recollection of one of his former pets, which has been greatly enjoyed by many, myself included. I believe that animals, like people, come into our lives for a purpose, and that we can learn alot from them if we are willing to open our hearts, as well as our homes to them. Since the story of Gutenberg is one that I had wanted to share, I thought I'd give this method a try. I hope that you enjoy it.
The first time that I ever saw Gutenberg was in August of 2001. My husband and I were driving past a house that we would soon be moving into. A house that I thought would become our dream house. It was a 100+ year old country house, at the end of a long gravel road. To the front and rear were acres upon acres of woods that eventually became part of the Wyandot County Park Hiking Trails. To the left, were almost thirty acres of farm land, and beyond that, barely visible, the highway. For five miles to the right, were a handful of homes each settled on no less than 5 - 10 acres of Missouri woodlands.
As we drove past the house, we pulled onto the dirt road to turn around. In the center of that road, was a scrawny, ragged, female German Shepard. Instantly, I could see that this dog had the potential to be a beautiful animal if she was cleaned up and fed. As we drove slowly past her, she drew back her mouth to show her teeth in a vicious snarl and growled deeply. I remember looking at Roy and saying, "If Nick goes tromping through the woods, he needs to be sure to take his BB gun with him." The idea of one of my children happening upon that dog, while alone in the woods, genuinely frightened me and brought out my maternal instincts of protection.
Almost two weeks later, we began moving in to the house. As I returned to my van to get another load of boxes, I saw this dog inside of my car, rummaging for food ! As I walked toward the car I yelled "hey!" in a sharp loud voice. Her head popped up out of a box and she was gone in a flash, disappearing into the woods. Over the next couple of days, I would catch a glimpse of her hanging around the edge of the property. The previous owners had left behind a 1 year old rottweiler mix female that Heather quickly adopted and named Minnie. In addition, we brought with us my 3 legged Golden retriever, Honey Bear. Both Honey Bear and Minnie were friendly dogs, but their presence seemed to keep the stray Shepard at bay.
After we settled in, occasionally, one of the kids would come running into the house in a panic because the "mean dog" was getting too close for their comfort. I would go outside, yell, and she would take off running back to the woods. After Nick told me that the dog had cornered him in the barn, snarling, and bearing her teeth, I began asking our neighbors who, she belonged to.
I learned that she just showed up, almost two months prior to our moving in. Apparently, the remote area that we lived in seemed to appeal to people looking for a rural setting to "dump" their unwanted pets. It wasn't unusual for stray and Ferrel dogs to suddenly appear, and then, just as suddenly, disappear. (usually, either a result of wandering too close to the Highway in search of food, or from bothering the livestock of the farmer to our left, who would shoot them.)
I considered contacting animal control, but hesitated, knowing that her temperament would result in her being euthanized. I knew that it was probably the kindest option, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to be the one responsible for this dogs death. I finally decided that as long as she kept her distance from my kids, I would let nature take it's course and hope for the best.
A day or two later, I was in the kitchen working, when Nick came walking through - with that evil German Shepard following behind him - with her tail wagging !! Even more amazing, she was followed by our other two dogs, who were behaving as if they had known her all their lives !! Before Nick was able to escape through the front door, I yelled, "WHOA !!!"
Nick returned with his parade of canines. I looked at this dog that everyone, including myself, had feared for weeks, and said, "What the hell is this !" pointing at her.
Nick smiled and said, "ah mom, she was just hungry."
I rolled my eyes and said, "I know ! She almost ate YOU last week!"
Nick looked down at her and started rubbing her neck, "Yeah, I know. But I started thinking about that, and I felt really bad about frightening her. So, today, I brought her some food, and she has been following me around ever since. She's a really good dog, can I keep her ?"
"NO !!" I responded, "And get her out of my house, and away from my babies."
"She's my dog." Nick said as he went back outside.
For the rest of the day, I watched her follow Nick everywhere. It was obvious that they both adored each other. She seemed gentle and respectful enough when Nick introduced her to Jake and Heather, but I still didn't trust her. Never the less, there were three dogs lying on the floor, gathered around the diner table by evening. Roy noticed the connection between the two of them, and as usual, took Nick's side. I finally told Nick that if she was going to be in my house, he'd have to give her a bath. And if she EVER showed even an ounce of aggression, towards anyone, she was gone !