In all this time I’ve been blogging away on Bonzai, I’ve never formally introduced the furry men in my life! I’m currently in the process of slowly, finally, switching them over to a veg*n meal plan, and if all goes well I’ll be writing a ton about doggie diets this winter. So it seems an appropriate time to actually get acquainted!
Without further ado, may I please present:
Harley the Happy Dragon
I rescued Harley in 2003, after the unexpected and untimely death of my first baby boydog, Killer. I hadn’t planned on adopting again so soon. I was still grieving. But I missed canine companionship, and I’d taken to visiting local pounds on a pretty regular basis. Okay, very regularly. I knew all the dogs by name.
On Halloween weekend my boyfriend and I drove from southern California up to the Bay Area. On the way home, cranked up and hung over, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, we stopped to stretch our legs at some random animal shelter. It was a total whim.
I entered to the familiar sad sounds of a kennel – endless and desperate barking. Meandering through the maze of cages, admiring each sweet beast . . . and then I saw him. This quiet fellow. A big bully head on his muscular body, his appearance was tough but his eyes were nothing but tender. A gentle giant.
I walked up to the fencing and stuck my hand through the wire. He lifted his paw, placed it in my hand, and sighed. We hung out like that for 15 minutes or so, just holding hands. There was no denying he was my dog.
3 days later we drove round-trip from soCal to noCal, 5 hours each way, to fetch my Harley. The poor boy vomited the whole way home (it took us years of patience to tame his carsickness). But with a little bit of time and a whole lot of loving (he had been abused) Harley was happy and healthy and totally assimilated into my life.
He is, seriously, the sweetest guy. And handsome too, the combination of which has prompted many (many!) people to offer to buy him from me. Weird, right? Who does that!?
But I understand – he’s just that awesome.
These days Harley is officially an old man. His hips give him trouble and he’s grumpy with the young pups. But he still follows me from room to room, all day, every day. I’ve never known a more loyal soul. And he still loves nothing more than to just sit quietly, holding hands.
Crash Bang Boom
Ahhh, Crash. Where to begin with our accidental addition . . .
I do believe that some people come into your life when you have a particular lesson to learn. Crash has taught me more than a few lessons, and has been a constant catalyst for my own self reflection. He is truly my teacher and ever my vexer, and I love him unconditionally.
Crash was a pound puppy, adopted young by a family who lived with my grandmother. Granny lived upstairs with her two cats, and the family lived downstairs with this sloppy spotted mess of a mutt, probably a Dalmatian/hound mix. They named him Splash.
Fast forward 9 months and the tenants were moving. My grandma mentioned their plan to return the dog to the pound. Um, no way! “Let me put my feelers out,” I told her, “Before they do anything.”
A simple mass email confirmed at least 5 friends would be ‘interested’ in adopting a puppy. I told my grandma, “Let me take him. I can get him a good home, no problem.”
Damian drove the hour-long trek with me, though we were still just pals at the time. He hung with the dog in the back seat, all the way home, and stayed to play late into night as we tried to get this CRAZY dog acclimated. See, ‘Splash’ was 11 months old with no training at all. Abso. Lutely. None. Within minutes we had dubbed him ‘Crash’, a rhyme that was a much more appropriate moniker.
This dog was completely deranged, chaos on 4 legs. Beautiful, yes. And super sweet. But also a total nightmare. All my ‘interested’ friends backed out. Finally, one unlikely person decided to take the plunge – Damian! He’d never had or planned to have a dog, but why not? They’d bonded and it seemed a significant opportunity.
So off they went and the demon doggie was out of my hands. Can you see where this story goes? Within weeks Damian and I were a couple, and within months we were living together.
So Crash was once again my responsibility. And I took on the challenge with gusto, though I won’t lie and say I navigated gracefully. It took us months just to leash train him (years before he’d stop pulling completely). We worked endlessly on simple commands, trying to establish a basis of communication. Crash is hands down the most stubborn dog I’ve ever dealt with. But, with my insistent diligence, with Damian’s infinite patience, and with an early morning energy-burn, he slowly began to normalize. What an ordeal!
Crash is still a work in progress. But aren’t we all? That’s the greatest of many, many insights that this small spotted hurricane has gifted unto me.