Friday, May 10, 2013

Little One and Loyalty

In my view we have about two dogs too many. I was happy with one dog. Somehow, over the years, two more dogs snuck into our household. The most recent addition is a dog that showed up at our door over a year and a half ago; her fur was matted with thistles and manure and she was covered with ticks. Joni cleaned her up and sent her back to her owner. The dog kept coming back to avoid the abuse of her master and we adopted her. Her former owner has since committed suicide.

This pup has been an expensive dog; we forgot to get her parvo shots and, sure enough, that illness nearly killed her and cost us a couple thousand dollars at a time when we really didn't have any money to spare. She was suffering from the Parvo so badly that we considered putting her down. We didn't.

She was half wild when we got her. She killed a couple of our chickens. She wants to chase every car that comes along, desiring to herd the damned contraptions. She has been run over once. She lived. This dog will run off into the woods and return, all proud and triumphant, with the vertebral column of some long dead creature. I call the dog "Little One" for obvious reasons (she is much smaller than our other dogs--especially the first couple of months we had her when she was half starved and emaciated). Little by little she has become more and more domesticated. All she wants to do is please us. She knows that life can be much worse--having spent her puppyhood with (literally) a pack of wolves and also with a jackboot, and random gunshots, for discipline.

She loves us.

I didn't know quite how much until this rib injury. I've been sleeping in the LazyBoy because that chair provides the most comfort. In the middle of the night last night, I woke up and  decided to try sleeping in our bed. Without too much pain I was able to fall asleep. Slept in this morning.

Little One has been my constant companion these past few days. She has held vigil next to the LazyBoy, watching over me.  She follows me to the bathroom. We have had a couple of walks and she has stuck close to me, keeping an eye on me, rather than disappearing on her grand loops out of eyesight. She knows something is wrong.

This morning, at 7 am,  Joni got up and fed the dogs like she normally does. Angel and Abbey got up and had breakfast. Little One refused to leave my bed. She refused breakfast. At 9am I was still sleeping and Joni knew that Little One should go outside for a potty break. She tried to coax her out of bed. No go. She would not leave my side.

When I finally woke up, Joni informed me that she thought Little One was sick because she refused to eat and refused to go outside. Sleepy and in my PJ's, I offered Little One the food that Joni had saved for her. Little One ate with gusto. With pep and vigor. Then it dawned on us: Little One refused to eat and leave my side because she knows something is wrong with me. She is watching over me.

This dog will refuse food when something is wrong with a family member. That is empathy. That is loyalty. That is love. That's how Little One has earned a cherished place in this family.

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