Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rescue Me

 New Years Day, 2009  "Buddy" came into our lives.  Bob and I had both lost our dogs within the last 2 years.  We had a new house with an acre of land that had a 4 foot fence around the WHOLE property.   We both love big dogs.  I had my heart set on a Bernese Mountain Dog.  Bob just wanted "big and friendly mutt."  Our new home and life together was ready for canine company.

We have 3 cats between us.  We love them dearly.  But they are not dogs.  My two are 15 years old.  I had gotten Bob "Lola"  from Craig's list.  I threaten to put her back on Craig's list if she doesn't behave.  My cats had lived with many dogs from our farm days, and with "Rosie" our last Golden Retriever.  So getting another dog would be easy for them.  But Lola had lived her first 4 years with one woman.  When Bob and I moved in together with my cats,  I don't think she spoke to us for 3 months.  Another blog post will be about Lola.

I looked on line for rescue places in the US.  I watch the "Dog Whisperer" with devotion on Friday nights.  Cesar had a story about all the dogs that had to be rehomed due to the mortgage crisis, and people losing their homes.  I wrote to 3 Golden Retriever rescue sites.  I filled out all the applications.  Some took hours to answer all their questions.  And I waited.  And waited. And waited.

On New Years Eve morning a year later I had 3 emails from rescue places.  The first was the Rio Grande Golden Retriever Rescue.  They had photos of "Buddy."  It was clear he was not a pure Golden from the photo.   That made Bob happy.  I called and set up a "meeting for New Years Day.  The lovely woman at the rescue said he was coming down from a ranch in Chama.  She would call me the moment he arrived.  All she knew is he was 3 years old, lived with small children, cattle, and cats and was neutered.   The next day as promised  the lady called and we went to meet him.

On the way Bob and I formulated a plan.  If one has never rescued or adopted from a shelter, the pressure is great to say yes on the spot.  So I told Bob we should look at the dog, and then excuse ourselves and go to the car and have "a talk."  He thought that was a splendid idea.  What if one of us had seen a behavior we were uncomfortable with.  We would have the freedom to talk and make our decision in the comfort and privacy of our car.

We pulled up to an acre property that was surrounded by chain link fencing.  It had several "yards" about 20' x 20' square to keep many dogs until they were adopted.  There were 3 lovely goldens in the house, all looking out at us.  The woman went to the back and came around with Buddy.  We were sitting on lawn chairs on her porch.  Buddy was looking all around, his eyes darting from the street, to us, and to the 3 goldens.  He was clearly lost.  The woman dropped the leash and he came up to Bob.  He put his head on Bob's lap and sighed.  Bob looked at Buddy, then at me.
"What's there to talk about?" he said.

So much for our plan, Buddy was going home with us!  We paid the woman their nominal fee.  Bob walked out to the car while I stood in the driveway with Buddy.  As soon as Bob opened the door Buddy walked to him and hopped in.  We drove home with 85 pounds of matted golden fur panting on the back of our necks.  Buddy had lived outside and his coat was heavy, his nails long, and he looked depressed.   His former owners had left a large bag of food, and his dishes.  We took those with us.  I felt he needed something familiar.

He had lived with 3 small children and his female owner for 3 years.  He looked out the windows for familiar places.  We offered him none.  We were new, and so was our home.  When he walked through the front door 2 cats stood there looking dumbfounded.  Lola came sashaying  into the living room and put on the breaks.  If a cat could say WTF, I know that's what she hissed.  She promptly sought higher ground on the back of the sofa.  In the picture below you see Lola high tailing it away from that damn dog!

Within an hour Buddy was napping in the sun on our front porch.  Lola went into hiding, and the two older cats watched from a distance.  For the next 3 days, Buddy did not eat.  He looked mournfully around for his previous owners.  Although we let him out in the yard...we kept a close watch.  My experience had been that it would take months for him to "give up" on going back to his previous owners.  Left alone he might try and find them on his own.  I had learned that they had left their ranch and were moving to an apartment.  I kept a close eye on him.

It is hard to see in the photo above, but his tail was matted into the fur on his back legs.  Besides needing grooming, he looked good.  Then I looked in his ears.  I could see cattle ticks in his ears.  So I got out the mineral oil.  Bob and I sat on the kitchen floor and I put a few drops in each ear and massaged them to distribute the oil.  This is a trick I learned on the farm.  The ticks will start to crawl out once the oil gets to them.  Sure enough, they started crawling and we caught and killed 3 very large ticks.  Grrrosss!  There was one left that didn't budge.  I would leave that  for our vet. :-)

When I took him to the vet for a check up the Vet was pretty impressed with seeing a cattle tick in a dog's ear.  He freely admitted this as he held the multi legged wriggling tick in his hemostats.  Walking up and down the hall showing it to the staff who oohed and aahhhed at the wriggling tick.   Later the Vet would find a BB under his fur on side.  Buddy had a tough life before we got him.

Those days of guarding the herd, and sleeping under the stars are over for this dog.  He is my shadow, and always sleeps with one eye on me.   His nails are trimmed, and his fur is combed.   Lola continues to put ads up on Craig's list in hopes of getting rid of Buddy.

This photo was taken his first morning with us.  Lola and Francis both having "airplane ears" listening for any dog moves.  Columbus sits next to me as I type.


Buddy on his rug in the kitchen watching me cook...ever hopeful I will drop something.   One of the traits of Buddy is his howling.  He hears the coyotes and starts to howl.  If we howl, he chimes right in.  And if I'm listening to Bluegrass picking, he howls with that.   We have family howling sessions.  It feels so good to howl.  When company comes over most want one howling session before they go.  
Below is a breakfast howl with Bob.

Columbus and Buddy watch me gardening.  Buddy helped me put the 150 bags of soil and manure into the raised beds.  I pulled a yellow landscaping wagon from the car stacked with 6 bags around to the back of the house.  It was me, the yellow wagon, and Buddy.  Back and forth, back and forth.

He's the light of my life.  We are still working on socializing with other dogs.  He spent his formative years guarding the herd from predators.  More on that later.

I know we rescued him, but I feel he rescued us.

Here is  a 20 second video of Buddy playing soccer in the house with our Grandson.

Thanks for reading.  I still amazed that you do.


PS. (do you say PS on a blog?)  Remember the 4ft. fence that went around our whole property?
Buddy can hop over it like a gazelle.  I used to let him out the door thinking he couldn't get out.  Then one day the false sense of security was pulled out from under me.  I called him and saw him trotting down the street towards me, and then he cleared the fence by a foot as he came back INTO our yard.


  1. What a cutie! I know what you mean about him rescuing you; I feel that way too about my dear passed dog. Two years after having to put him to sleep, I still miss him several times a day. Haha, and my husband & I 'threaten' our cats w/ a trip back to Adirondack Save-A-Stray, where we got them. Now I don't feel like such a terrible mother. :D

  2. Haha KSK! Now I will tell Lola that Craig's list isn't the only place I could take her.