Once upon a time, I read an article about a woman who suffered from debilitating Alzheimer’s disease and her beloved German Shepherd who kept her company. Her ‘boy’ always knew how to guide her home so she could still enjoy her daily morning walks around the neighborhood.
That article really hit home for me as I find it nearly impossible to navigate any neighborhood I’ve ever lived in without getting hopelessly lost. And this is BEFORE my inevitable dementia kicks in.
With that, I made the mistake – big mistake, REALLY big – of sharing that article with my boyfriend, who from this point on we’ll refer to as “Dingleberry.”
Dingleberry had already been trying to convince me for over a year that we should get a dog. In fact, unbeknownst to me, he’d put down a deposit with a breeder for a to-be-born-in-the-future Australian Shepherd puppy. Given that we had already done a fair amount of dog-sitting for his daughter’s Aussie and let’s just say it had NOT gone well, I did NOT want one of those dogs.
But now that he’d found an opening with me and my Alzheimer story, he searched online for the cutest German Shepherd mix puppy he could find within a search parameter of 100 miles from our house. Then he sent me a link to the photo and waited. What a DIRTY ROTTEN trick. Obviously, we put her on hold and drove 100 miles that weekend to pick her up.
She turned out to be an angel. Well, except for the thousands of dollars of teething damage to my walls, hardwood floors, dining room chairs, pool table legs, planter beds and plants. And except for the time she ate a lizard then puked it up (whole) onto the bedroom carpet the next day for me to clean up. Dingleberry was on business travel at the time. Of. Course. He. Was.
So, imagine my
concern hysteria when Dingleberry started talking about getting a second dog to keep the first one company. And he recommended that now that we had moved to a very isolated home, high up in the Colorado mountains, a pure-bred German Shepherd would be good for protection when I was home alone. While I was still against the requirement for another dog, the way he conveyed that message, he actually made it seem like a good idea.
Then he started a full-blown campaign, sending me Instagram pics of adorable little German Shepherd puppies every damn day. “STOP IT!” I yelled every time he did it. To no effect whatsoever.
So, finally I caved. We grazed online for the perfect dog and landed on one that was an unclaimed stray, currently in the custody of Front Range German Shepherd Rescue. Spoiler alert: There’s a very compelling reason he was a stray. We’ll get to that.
Two weeks later, we had our new young adult German Shepherd. I was thinking, “COOL, no need to potty train, or train in general.” The dog knew commands already. And he wouldn’t be doing any teething around my house.
What I failed to take into account was…he is the size of a horse. So, I super-casually mentioned to Dingleberry, “You’re not going to start traveling and leave me holding the bag with TWO dogs, are you?”
“Nope, not going to leave you holding the bag,” he said, as if he actually meant it. Three days later, he left on a business trip. There I was, holding the bag.
Before he left, I tried walking both dogs at the same time, by myself, and it had been going semi-ok. However, it hadn’t dawned on me that the reason it was going ok was that not once did we cross paths with another dog. Or human. Or car. Or deer.
Dingleberry traveling, DAY 1: WAY TOO EARLY IN THE MORNING. Like…before 7:00AM. I walked the dogs down the same roads we’d been going down for days with no issues. All of a sudden two big dogs came literally out of nowhere, running down the road toward my two dogs, with a woman chasing after them, trying to get her dogs to stop. She may have been flailing her arms. At this juncture, I had two freight trains on leashes. Self-preservation: Let go of leashes. Eventually I caught up to the knuckleheads and took them home.
Then of course, while we were on our evening walk, same thing. A man was out walking his two dogs, one of which was a surprising sight – a 3-legged dog. Our big boy, Jackson, charged toward the man and his dogs and our little girl, Kona, just sat down in the middle of the road and watched, leaving me to be the monkey-in-the-middle yelling at both dogs, trying to get them to come to me. I figured the 3-legged dog needed me to save him from Jackson, but I also figured Kona would end up getting run over by a car if I left her there. And neither one would come toward me whatsoever. The guy with the other dogs looked at me like I was a dumbass and finally shrugged and took his dogs back into his house. Honestly, I’m not sure I can blame the man.
Dingleberry traveling DAY 2: AGAIN - WAY TOO EARLY IN THE MORNING. It seemed smarter to walk the dogs individually, so I took the big guy out first. And then it happened. “Deer. OH MY GOD! Deer!”
Sure, I could have held onto the leash while Jackson dragged me through the woods chasing said deer and breaking my wrist, ulna, radius, humerus, ankles, tibia, fibula, and femur. Oh, and possibly my collarbone, scapula, patella, neck and spine. Maybe even ending with my skull fractured. So, I let go of the leash and let him dart like a mad man into the woods. But then his leash got all tangled up in the brush and wrapped around trees. “Muwahaha. I shall get my dog back today,” I said to myself a little too smugly.
But, as soon as I got him untangled from all the trees and bushes, he took off again at full speed, wrapping the leash around my legs, followed by my completing a spectacular face plant into a very spiky evergreen bush (Score? That face plant earned me a 10.0). I sat there on top of the bush unwrapping myself from said leash, then let him take off again, dragging his leash behind him. We’d had that dog for exactly five days. I was prepared to call it a pretty good run.
I hung my head in shame assuming someone in one of the houses on our road was staring, pointing and laughing. Then I stomped my snow boots home to shower off the
indignity blood, while singing loudly Carly Simon’s “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain,” after which I got in my car and drove around the woods looking for the damn dog. No sightings.
I went home, called Dingleberry, who was very busy in meetings 1700 miles away, and told him what was happening. I might have been hysterical, and I might have been crying. Seriously, what was he going to do about it from 1700 miles away? But, sniff, sniff, I’m bleeding, and I lost the dog…ALREADY.
An hour later, just for the hell of it, I went downstairs and looked out the door and there was Jackson, casually sunning himself in the driveway. “You little BASTARD,” I yelled as he strolled casually into the house with a smirk on his self-satisfied dog face.
After Dingleberry returned home from his business trip the next day, he proudly announced, “I have an idea.”
I’ll admit that I sat there with extreme skepticism and probably annoyance. I’d already seen how his other ‘ideas’ were playing out.
“There are harnesses you can secure around your waist and attach to a dog’s leash so they can’t run off,” he said.
I sat there dumbfounded, staring at him blankly to see if he would figure it out on his own. He did not.
The first thing that came to mind (again) was the fact that the dog is practically a horse. Then I mentally reminisced about my face plant in the spiky bushes and blood dripping down my legs—all still VERY fresh in my memory—and all I could respond with was, “No man. Just no.”
But wait, that wasn’t really all I could respond with. A very long speech about Isaac Newton and the laws of physics might have ensued. I followed that up by explaining the obvious error in his calculations – that the dog weighs as much as I do. After which I stated emphatically, “So...no man. Just no.”