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Making the Leap

Friday, February 22, 2019

I headed to the animal shelter on Tuesday morning, having spent the night at Kelly's house in Columbus  (I'm writing on Friday). I'd gotten in around midnight from Medford, Oregon. and was tacking another night and day onto my trip. I must really be thinking hard about this dog. I'd told nobody what I was up to, just told my family I was too tired to make the drive home Monday night. Which was not a lie.

 I walked up to the counter at CHA Rescue in Columbus, OH at the stroke of noon, when they opened. "I'm here to see Curtis," I said, very quietly. The words sounded so strange coming out of me. I still couldn't believe I was standing at the counter of an animal shelter, saying them. I'd always said that if I was going to have a dog, I didn't want to inherit anyone else's mistakes. I wanted to craft a puppy from nine weeks on, and make it, as much as possible, conform to the image in  my head.

I may be biased, but Chet Baker was one CUTE puppy, wearing his tubesock jacket.

I did that with Chet Baker, and deep inside I had a hard time believing that a grown dog could fit my needs as well as one I'd shaped from puppyhood. But here I was. "I'm here to see Curtis."

There was something about his smile, and the way Kelly wrote about him, that gave me faith enough to at least go look.
To meet this dog, who might wind up going home with me.

I was actually trembling because I had fallen far enough into his spell to know that I'd probably leave with Curtis. And that prospect terrified me. Going back into the responsibility, the expense, the time commitment of caring for a dog; the constant back-of-the-mind worry about what to do with him every time I had to leave. I'd had a year and a half of worry-free travel, and I had loved it. But I'd also had a year and a half without a dog's warm popcorn scent, without the feel of a satiny coat, without  companionship on hikes and runs, without the laughter and love of a dog. It had been a good year, until it wasn't a good year any more.

And there he was, behind a stainless steel grid.  He didn't get up when Carrie unlatched his door. All the other dogs were standing at their doors, barking. Curtis was silent, watchful. He wasn't barking. He was thinking.


She clipped a leash on his collar and handed it to me. We walked together to a spacious exercise area with a single bench.   I could see Curtis was a favorite, though he'd been at the shelter for less than a week. His style reminded me of someone.


I had read through his medical records. He'd been dropped at a southern Ohio shelter on December 27 by his owner's parents. Curtis' owner had to go into rehab, and left two dogs with them. It was they who had surrendered Curtis. 

When he came in, Curtis couldn't bear weight on his left hind leg. He had ticks, and tested positive for both Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis. He was intact, and was said to be four years old. His teeth were in bad shape. Over the next month and a half, a dog fostering organization paid to give him the veterinary care he'd been denied for too long. Six teeth were pulled (mostly lower incisors, and one canine). He was neutered, and given a total of almost 40 days of doxycycline for tick-borne disease, as well as Clindamycin for his teeth. He got anti-inflammatories and painkillers, too. The hind leg lameness resolved with treatment. Whether it was caused by tick-borne disease or an injury, it got better. Finally, Curtis was ready for adoption, and he was accepted by CHA.  

He arrived in Columbus on Wednesday, February 13, and I saw Kelly's Instagram post on Saturday, Feb. 16. Now, Kelly has all of seven posts on Instagram. What are the chances that I'd be scrolling through my feed and see one of seven posts by my friend?

Is he already someone's darling?

And now here it was the next Tuesday, February 19, and this pretty little dog was, against all odds, still here and I was walking him up and down the dog run. I stopped and sat on the bench. Curtis leapt up beside me and leaned against me. Oh. It was clear he wanted to be with me. 

I asked him to stay, and walked to the end of the run. He never took his eyes off me. OK! He leapt off the bench and ran to me. He had a wigwag in his run. I fretted about that hind leg.


He kept jumping up to sit on the bench. And he made sure to keep a paw or two on my bag. So, you know, if I picked up my bag to go, I'd have to move him...or take him, too.


"He is WORKIN' you! My goodness!"  Carrie laughed. 'Struth. That dog stared into my eyes the entire time. He was lasering out his plan for our future together. He was sending me pictures of us, together, for good.

He leaned on me and licked my chin. I looked down at my fleece and jeans and they were absolutely coated in dog hair. Ew. Oh. Ack. I'd been spoiled by Chet's tiny eyelash hairs. 

I thought about drifts of dog hair on my kitchen floor. Hair on the butter in its dish. (Right, Jeanne?)
 I thought about whether I should be doing this at all. Did I really want to get back into dog ownership again, with all it entailed? Couldn't someone tell me what to do, other than this dog, staring holes in me?

 I milled around, threw a toy for him, sat down on the bench. He dutifully fetched it, twice, then laid it down and resumed staring into my eyes. 

"Fetching is stupid. Let's go. What happens now is you take me home."

The sun winked out in a wooly gray sky. 

 It was cold out there. Curtis was shivering. We had to go back inside. There was nothing else to do in the dog run. Carrie put him back in his cell so I could fill out the paperwork. 
 Fill out the paperwork! Am I doing this??
  
Curtis hesitated, but walked slowly back in and curled up on his hammock. The door clanged behind him. He sighed and put his head on his paws. I could feel despair wash out of him and over me. Another fail, he was thinking. I barely made it to the restroom before bursting into tears. I was so conflicted, so unsure, walking in circles, sobbing. It seemed so cruel to put him back in the cell, to dash his sweet doggish hopes, even for a few minutes. And the thought that I might be dashing them altogether sent me into a new gale of tears.

I got a clipboard, snuffling, and filled out two pages of forms. Did I own or rent my house? Who else lived there with me? How would I handle misbehavior like barking or digging? (What would be the right answer here? I wrote, "Firm correction." Was the yard fenced? I smiled. A form could not begin to describe the situation this dog would be inheriting. How do you describe doggie Valhalla?

I started to cry again. I needed to go see Curtis, to ask him if this was the right thing to do. 

 

Just as before, he didn't get up. He looked into my eyes, never breaking his gaze.  I stood silently, looking back at him from about ten feet away. 

"Everything will be all right," he said.  "You'll see."

OK Curtis. Come on. I'm going to take you home, hair and misgivings and firm corrections and all.


You won't be sorry.  I promise. 





51 comments:

Yeah, you know what I am doing right now! But they're good tears! Fingers, toesies and eyes crossed for you and Curtis!

Sigh.
Too wonderful.

Oh my god that last photo! My heart just exploded! When I folder AB about Curtis after your first post, she took one look and said, “Well yes that puppy can run with her! She needs a puppy to run with her!”

Just a big smile coming your way.....

Congrats. Rescues are the best. Esp older ones!! He’s a beauty!! Can’t wait to see him on a run w/ you....

OMG, you've got me in tears yet again...that last picture GOT me. I am so happy for Curtis, and so happy that something good has come your way. You've had more dumped on you in two years that any human being should be forced to endure...and now something blissfully GOOD. I look forward to getting to know Curtis through your words and pictures. Bikkits, anyone????

Yay!!!!💜💜💜💜

Curtis and Julie have both just won the lottery. Ima sit over here an watch the story unfold.

Sniffle <3

Oh, Julie, I am not a pretty crier. Everything will be okay; Curtis has you now, and Chet Baker is applauding.

Crying tears of joy! The best pets are the rescues and the ones that choose you. What an adventure you and Curtis have now begun together. Love to you both!

Awe, Such a heartwarming account of when you met Curtis and decided to bring him home. Wonderful Julie!

Having myself a good happy cry! May Curtis and you and yours live lovely lives together, warts and all.

We got Annie thru a rescue at age 1 1/2 - inheriting someone else’s problems, I thought. She’s got an attitude, I thought. She’s a runner...she’s never been on a leash...

For the first year, I was right. She tolerated us. She escaped every chance she got. Then slowly, there were changes...she sat on the couch. She leaned against me...

And when I had my cancer surgery, she never left my side for weeks. ❤️

Welcome home to Curtis! I love his eyes, his face, his quiet disciplined self. Sending you both good wishes for a wonderful life ahead full of love, runs, hikes, photos, joy, companionship, and more love. Thank you, Julie, for introducing us to Curtis. I can't wait to watch him become his new well-loved healthy self.

This is so satisfying, beautiful, and wonderful.

Oh, happy tears! So happy for both of you, and looking forward to more of the story of Curtis!
take care, Julie.

That last picture..... Curtis choose you. You won’t regret it. Love you both.

Posted by Anonymous February 22, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Yay! What an incredible story. I am stunned by your ability to chose how you're going to deal with all the challenges you've been dealing with. It's inspiring.

Oh wow - those eyes, that look, the connection already, from his heart to yours, and back again. Surely he was sent to you and vice versa. Nose kisses and hugs, all around!

Bravely done. He is a lucky dog.

This is a love story. Curtis has the most soulful eyes and I like how he stares at you. My dog Bounce is a rescue dog too and stares at me like that. I think he rescued me as much as I rescued him. I see many happy times ahead for the two of you.

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I love that saying--who rescued whom?
Thank goodness, when you need a dog in your heart and life, that dog finds you.
I too have such a story...but this is YOUR story.
Looking forward to many Curtis posts. (Which will also feature Julie with a mending heart.)

*Sorry for having to delete my first comment...after I posted it, I spotted an error, and Blogger has NO way to correct errors. The English teacher in me could not let a spelling error stand.

He's a handsome brindled boy. I'm happy for both of you.

*bawl*

Can't talk.

That deep deep soul gaze. Everyone is so purely thankful that you have found each other. Blessings upon you both and your new joyous life together!

Oh yeah, that last picture. And-I have mitigated the Lazer doggie hair problem by getting a robot vacuum. Under $200 and worth every penny.

ditto... all the above

HOORAY!!!!!!

Tears of happiness for you both. It was the right time and place. You feel it and we feel it too through your words and photos. Thanks for sharing so poignant a love story first chapter!

Aww, so sweet Julie.

The look! Gah, he's amazing and I'm do happy you're his and he's yours!

Julie, I love, love, love this story! I understand your deep, heart-felt struggle. I've had all the exact same thoughts since we lost Nikki last October and we're still not ready. Losing our freedom again, the worry, boarding, responsibility, etc., etc. But there's nothing like having a dog who never judges you and gets up every day, thrilled to be by your side.
I loved your pictures - the way he looks at you - that instant connection - you are soul mates! He felt you coming from miles away.
Regarding the doggie hair - he's probably blowing his coat and the stress of being in the shelter makes it worse - it won't be that bad all the time. Love the idea above of a Roomba! Happy tears for you and Curtis! I can't wait to hear more of the story!

OMG!! He is the color and size of my Isabelle! He's more mutt than her -- she's at least half Whippet, but they are very close in appearance. He is definitely full of personality, you can tell just looking into those eyes. So happy for you to have a wonderful companion! And I look forward to hearing more about Curtis. He will be so good for you!

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I'm not crying. YOU'RE crying. ;)

JULIE!!! Why are you making me cry at the gosh-darn Panera?!?!? Love this. So happy for both of you.

@cyberthrush, spot on. I did the same thing you did! Please forgive me for deleting your comment. Saving it for a post! I know you'll understand.

Julie, over and over again, you delight us with your open, vulnerable heart and expressive words. You make us all want to be better, or at least our best selves. Lucky Curtis, lucky you.

so wonderful! you deserve the happiness of a new companion.

You're a very experienced dog owner, but it's been a long time since you started out with a new one (and a dog previously owned by someone else). Take a gander at this protocol https://lgarinc.org/decompression-the-two-week-shutdown/ You might find it restrictive but it has some worthwhile concepts.

best wishes from me and MY brindle boy ..

Emily

Oh, my heart. Very happy for you and for Curtis!

Oof, that face! The first picture from the car is what gets me. He looks a little worried and a little hopeful at the same time. He seems to have just the kind of dog mind that suits you. How lovely!

I am so happy for you both. A house without a dog is not a home. Ours crossed the rainbow bridge in November and we are waiting for the universe to tell us when it is time for the next one. Coming home to a dog less house is so sad.lLove to you and Curtis.

Is anyone here surprised? Happiness and many good runs for both of you. So glad you did it.

Bawling happiest tears for you. What a lucky pooch. Enjoy each other! :)

Oh Julie! I’m so happy! I can’t wait to hear more Curtis stories!

Julie, so very happy for you and Curtis. You have needed each other and fate has made it happen.

Julie, what a gift you and Curtis will be to each other and your whole family. You just got a lot more blog material in a brindle bundle. Wishing you both the best as you discover all there is to know about each other. It's gonna be GREAT! And so pleased you took a chance on a shelter dog. He is one lucky fella (and like you, I believe in the signs of the universe, but for me it's a God thing). Best to you and Curtis. Kim in PA

I am So happy for you and Curtis. I haven’t read your blog for a while and thought today I would catch up and see if you had another dog and immediately saw your post about Curtis.

Every time I read this I either smile or want to cry... The perfect ending!

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