Just Bill and the Mister

December 10, 2009

COMING CLEAN, PART TWO

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 9:06 am
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The previous post detailed the facts as best we know them about about our rescue dog, Chelsea. 

My wife Barbara did manage to find the web address of the family that got rid of her.  The wife responded with a well written, self-serving e-mail.  In it, she describes Chelsea as having been acquired, when she was about two,  from a family living in a trailer.  Her tail was already damaged, and her left eye blind–says the writer.  The second family’s reason for wanting a another  dog was to serve as a companion for their Australian cattle dog. 

The writer characterizes Chelsea’s life with her new family as ideal, a happy, outdoor-dog’s life in the company of their alpha male cattle dog.  The two lived outside, chased cars and wildlife, and were, according to the writer, boon companions. 

Then the alpha died.  After this, the writer says Chelsea retreated under her favorite bush and spent her days there.  Given her ways when she came to us (and however self-serving the rest of the e-mail may be), this makes sense.  Chelsea is extremely sensitive, and almost alarmingly intelligent.  It’s easy to think of her grieving over the death of her companion, a powerful male cattle dog.  For a long time before we learned any of this, my wife and I thought Chelsea was grieving over having been taken from her foster family (those good people will get a posting of their own).  In fact, of the dozens of dogs in our community encountered on walks over the years, only two have roused Chelsea’s interest.  Both look something like Aussie cattle dogs. 

Then, we’re told, someone in Chelsea’s new family had a baby.  This, added to Chelsea’s grieving, caused her stock to drop with her owners.  She was now boring, no fun, just there without purpose under her bush.  So, the family got a golden retriever puppy.  From what we know of her, it’s easy to believe how big this did not go over.  Chelsea doesn’t like frisky, in-your-face dogs, especially puppies.

But in the end, what gives the lie to at least some of the writer’s history is the nasty, near-death state of neglect our dog was in when she was dumped at the Vanderburgh Humane Society in Evansville, Indiana.  Everyone who has a dog and cares about it knows the following: along with the basics of food, water and shelter, dogs at a minimum need Heart Guard as a prophylactic against heart worm, and Frontline or something like it to prevent fleas. 

Neither were apparently provided to Chelsea.  And obviously, she was never groomed.  The writer told us the dog had been spayed before coming to live at her new house, so there had never been any need to take her to a vet.  Nor was she ever allowed in the house.  We judge from her initial refusal to eat regular dog food that the family fed her with table scraps.

And so forth.  When bitter thoughts about this treatment rise and add to the day’s store of angst, I comfort myself with knowing that, had Chelsea lived in Evansville with people worthy of her, she would never have made the journey that brought her to us. She’s been with us now five years.  Like the white hairs on my chin, those on Chelsea’s speak to “the aging process.”   

Yes, it’s the process leading all things organic back to alluvial  ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  But so what if this is true for all living things?  Chelsea has become so important to us that every time my wife and I try to imagine life in her absence, we fail.  When she dies, no strength of reason or common sense or simple acceptance of How Things Are is going to make much difference.  It will be awful, and we will have to grieve our way through, as we believe she did. 

Knowing this makes each day—six or seven of Chelsea’s for every one of ours—a ticking, time-conscious blessing.

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